February 2014


I shared in the previous post stating that even though many people in the world are asking “What is the truth?” They were still unable to find it. Many claims to believe in Jesus, we will find that their faith is different from what the scriptures preached

Indeed, there will be many who hear the word of God but yet they cannot understand. Having lots of knowledge doesn’t guaranty understanding of the scriptures.

I have shared that the word of God is the truth, and now here are the other 2 points.

Jesus Is The Truth

John once describes the Lord Jesus himself as the truth. He called him, “The Word Becoming Flesh”  and he called that word God.

Jesus testify of these words as he said the famous verse

“I am the way the truth and the life,
  no one go to the father except through me.” – Jesus (Jn 14:6)

Indeed, on his life on earth, Jesus manifested God to the people, and he manifested the power of God before the world

The Lord Jesus himself is the truth. Elder John wrote that Jesus was the word becoming flesh. He performed many miracles, healed the sick, brought the dead to life. He also turned 5 loaves and 2 fishes to feed 5000 man, healed the blind and walked on water. 

Most importantly, he forgave man of their sins. Many had witness his miracles, but not all believe. Today we know that Jesus is true because of our experiences in faith. There are times when we pray, and God answered our prayers directly. There are time we hear Gods reply through the words of the scriptures through the sermons we hear.   These are all testimonies of how Jesus had indeed resurrected and is now interceding for us in heaven.

That is why the Author of Hebrews  reminds us

“ Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has
   passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let 
   us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High
   Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but 
   was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
   
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
   that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in 
   time of need.” –Author Of Hebrews (Heb 4:16-16)

Indeed, we thank God for his grace, but we need to ask ourslves, do we believe that Jesus is the truth? If yes, are we willing to receive him as our savior? Are we willing to be obedient to all that he had commanded?  

 The Holy Spirit Is The Truth

Elder John once said this

“But the anointing which you have
  received from Him abides in you, 
  and you do not need that anyone
  teach you; but as the same anointing
  teaches you concerning all things, 
  and is true, and is not a lie, and just as
  it has taught you, you will abide in
  Him.” – John (1 Jn 2:27)

He talk of the anointing, he is talking about the Holy Spirit of the Lord, which God has granted to all his believers. He is our counselor and he dwells with us. He guides us to the knowledge of the truth and there is no lie in him.

Believers can experience his presence and feel him working in them. If one choose to disobey, we will grieve the spirit. That is what most Christian call “Quenching the work of the spirit”.

John continues to tell us saying

Now he who keeps His commandments
  abides in Him, and He in him. And by
  this we know that He abides in us, by
  the Spirit whom He has given us.” – John (1 Jn 3:24)

Here it reminds us that God abides with us through his spirit.  It bear witness to God that we are his. John continues to explain saying

“This is He who came by water and
  blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water,
  but by water and blood. And it is the
  Spirit who bears witness, because the
  Spirit is truth.” – John (1 Jn 5:6)

He reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit that bear witness for us. We often esteem the witness of man, especially when they testify that we are good people. But the witness from God is far greater. This witness is given to testify of his son,and whoever who believes will have a witness for himself.

When the Holy Spirit abides in us, he bears witness that we are indeed the children of God

In Acts 10 we read of a man called Cornelius, he is a centurion of the Italian Regiment. He is a devote man, and once in his praters, an angel appeared to him. The angel said

“Your prayers and your alms have
  come up for a memorial before God” – angel (Acts 10:4)

God knew that he is a devote man, that is why he sent his angel to him. God knew that Cornelius did not believe in Jesus and he did not have salvation. Therefore God instructed Cornelius to send man to Joppa to get Apostle Peter

Peter usually does not enter the house of a non Jew to preach and eat, but when he spoke to Cornelius and when he told Peter his experiences. Peter understood the vision he received from God in Acts 10:9-16. He knew that God has sent him to preach the gospel to them. Therefore Peter began preaching the gospel.

As they listened, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and praised God. The Jews who are with Peter were amazed that the gentiles received the Holy Spirit.  This resulted to Peter baptizing Cornelius and his household. 

When Peter return to Jerusalem, he was questioned by the church regarding why he entered the house of a gentile and ate with them. That is when Peter testify of Cornelius’s vision as well as his vision . He told them how the Holy Spirit instructed him to enter the house, and how they all received the Holy Spirit.

There were some Jews who initially opposed to Peter entering Cornelius house, but eventually they too praised God, for God has given his salvation grace to the gentiles as well.

When the Holy Spirit descended on them, it became a testimony that they are accepted by God.  When Peter recalled this incident in the council of Jerusalem he said

“So God, who knows the heart,
  acknowledged them by giving
  them the Holy Spirit, just as
  He did to us,   and made no
  distinction between us and them,
  purifying  their hearts by faith.”- Peter (Acts 15:8-9)

God knew the heart of the people, and he acknowledged them, when the Holy Spirit was given to them, there is no more distinction between Jews and gentiles. For God has purified their heart by faith.

Today if our faith is true, if we believe with a pure heart, if we allow our lives to live according to the word of God and the truth, The Holy Spirit will gladly testify for us as well.

For he is the truth, he dwells in mans heart and he confirms the words of God. He confirms that there are salvation for those who believe in the Lord. That is an important testimony and the reason why we believe that our faith in Christ is true. For it has the witness of the Holy spirit

Conclusion

For this article, I have shared about 3 truths, the fact that Jesus, the word of God and the Holy Spirit they are all true. They are all graces given to us by God.

God has prepared them a long time ago, for the salvation of mankind.

So what must we do after receiving this truth? We must learn to bear fruits worthy of salvation. Just like what Paul said

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;  but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,” –Paul.  (Rom 2:6-8)

He is talking about how people reacts upon hearing the truth.  He warns us not to be hard and impenitent. For by so doing we are storing up wrath for ourselves. for God will render to us according to our deed.

At the same time God will grant eternal life to those who try hard to do good and to seek immortality.

But to those who disobey the truth, and does unrighteousness, there will be punishment waiting.

Therefore let us respond positively to the love of God and let us allow the Holy Spirit to work within us to complete the work of salvation. But if Christians continue to be hard and unrepentant. Or we will be like people who did not know Christ, for in the last days we would be excluded from the kingdom of God.

Knowing the truth is important and bearing fruit in faith is necessary and a natural result. May we all have the strength to do so.

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Introduction

Recently my fiancé sent me a 2 hour lecture youtube by Nehemia Gordon. in that lecture, he was making a contrast between a Hebrew Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus) recorded in a Hebrew Version of the Gospel of Matthew (AKA Shem Tov’s Hebrew New Testament)  and the typical “Greek” Gospel that most Christian knew

His lecture provided very good insight into the mentality and the beliefs of the Pharisees  during the time of Christ as well as followers of Orthodox Judaism. I personally liked his insight into the commandments “You shall not cook a kid in his mothers milk”.  It was a command from God that always intrigued me. For I wonder why God is so concern how to cook a young goat.  It was mentioned 3 times in the Pentateuch

Thoughts Regarding The Lecture

As I go through the lecture, I was surprised when he viewed Matt 15 and Matt 23 as contradictory.  For me, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees and that fact had always been obvious. Therefore Jesus point against the reforms (Takanot) and Precedents (Masim) should come without a surprise. 

However, there are certain views presented by Mr Nehemia Gordon that I find it hard to accept 

1. Jesus described in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew is inconsistent with the Jesus describes in the Greek NT

2. The Greek New Testament is Internally Inconsistent citing vows as example
            a. Greek version (Matt 5, James 5:12 are against it) (Greek Matt 23 supports it) 
            b. The Greek NT Deliberately omit the fact that Jesus spoke Hebrew
3. The NT is originally in Hebrew and not Greek 
           a. Many expressions used in the Greek language are not typically used by Greek
           b. Textual analysis show Hebrew and Word puns can be found in Greek Text 
                  i. Matt 9:8 (Saw (Vayr’u) Feared (Vayiru) 
                  ii. Matt 18:25, 35 (To Pay (Shalem), from his heart (Shalem))
                 iii. Matt 16:16 (Stone (Even) , Build (Evneh)  
            c. These words pun cant be seen in the Greek Matthew
            d. But they can be found in Shem Tob’s Hebrew Matthew
            e. Writing of Church father Papias (60-130CE) revealed 
                      “Matthew Collected the words in Hebrew Language.. 
                        and translated them as best as he could”

4. Although there are thousand of ancient Greek manuscript of the gospel 
         a. Hebrew copy of Matthew exist, it was found in a book by Ibn Shaprut in 1385 
         b. It is known today as Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Gospel of Matthew   
         c. Most people felt Ibn Shaprut translated Matthew from Greek  
         d. But textual analysis proof his copy is “more original than the original” 

Whatever observation and views Mr Gordon made about Jesus is drawn from Shem Tob’s Hebrew Matthew. Which to him is the “Original version” of the Gospel of Matthew. Despite the fact that Shem Tobs Hebrew Matthew exists around 1385 CE. 1355 years after the death of Christ.

Initial Reaction To The Points Raised In The Lecture

Personally I am not surprised that Gordon found the Hebrew Matthew more palatable than the Greek New Testament, this is because he is a follower of  Karaite Judaism. Karaite Judaism do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah,  nor does it regard the Gospel as part of the Inspired scriptures of God.

But to claim that Shem Tob’s Hebrew Gospel Of Matthew as the “original script for the gospel of Matthew” disregards all the historical evidence of the Greek manuscripts  that survives the Ravages of time. 

His concluded his lectures saying this.

“I mentioned at the beginning that I don’t look at Yeshua as the messiah and that really hasn’t change , i believe strictly in the Tanakh which is the Old Testament. However my understanding of who Yeshua was has change . I started off doing the study believing like most Jews that Yeshua came to change and modify and to lead people away from the Torah. Now i found that in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew the Hebrew Yeshua is actually leading people back to Torah upholding the Torah, claiming that if they (the Pharisees) claim to have the authority of Moses, they will do as Moses said. He is not here to change one jot or one title but he is simply upholding the Torah "

As far as Mr Gordon is concern, Jesus is not the messiah hence he regarded the gospel of Matthew as “A record of another Jewish Rabbi”. Therefore his approach to analyze the document is not one made with faith, it is relies mainly on his expertise in the Hebrew language.

Though I have no doubts with regards to his knowledge of the Hebrew language, but I do doubt if his study was one made with the guidance of God. 

Important Questions To Consider

Yet as I read his lecture, and as I took his notes, I believe there are certain questions that we as Christian ought to ask ourselves

1. Will this Lecture create doubt in us about the Authenticity of the New Testament

2. Was the Gospel of Matthew first written in Hebrew, then translated into Aramic and then to Greek? If No, How do we explain the Hebrew Puns and textual evidence provided?

My approach to these questions is simple, my approach is summarized in a quote from a Video game that I was playing together with my RE class students. 

“Try thinking out of the box! Don’t waste time doubting the facts. Assume the clock was three hours slow and… Think through it! Ask yourself, "Why was the clock three hours slow"? Figure out the reason, and you’ll have your proof!” – Mia Fey in Ace Attorney “The First Turnabout”

The facts I have taken into consideration is this.

1. There are indeed Hebrew Word Puns all over the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew
2. There are 24000 copies of the Greek NT, including fragments
         a. Many were written around 100-120 CE, 50-60years after the Apostles
         b. They are recorded in many languages, Predominantly Greek/Latin 
         c. Others include Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian
3. Papias said that Matthew Gathered the word of Jesus in Hebrew and Translated it 
          a. Most people felt that he wrote it in Greek, as most early manuscripts are Greek
4. There are no surviving Hebrew Manuscript of NT Historically

These are the facts regarding Shem Tob’s Hebrew Matthew

1. Shem Tobs Gospel of Matthew was a appendix to a book The Touchstone (Eben Bohan).
           a. It was written in 1380 by a Jewish Rabbi who live in Spain called Ibn Shaprut 
           b. He wrote it to help Jews defend themselves in the Spanish Inquisition  
           c. He added the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew at the back for reference  
2. The modern Shem Tob’s Gospel of Matthew is printed base on 9 manuscripts
             a. The earliest date is 1380 CE
             b. There are only 23 Manuscript of it , and 9 are used for the modern copy 
             c. 2 Manuscripts are closer to Hebrew, 7 manuscripts are influenced by Greek

Now with these facts in mind, lets consider the follow question

 1. Is it possible That Ibn Shaprut kept a Hebrew Manuscript of Matthew?

Personally I would doubt it, because he is a Jewish Rabbi who followed Judaism, I would picture him with lots of Torah within his procession, but I doubt he would have kept a ancient copy of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew and to have copied it into the Eben Bohan.

Jewish Rabbi do not regard Gospel books as scriptures, hence it would be odd to see a Jewish Rabbi holding on to an ancient Hebrew Manuscript of the Gospel since he does not use it for anything (unless its during the Spanish inquisition) . He would have translated it to from Greek to Hebrew for the sake of helping the Hebrew reader understand the content of the Gospel

In fact, the other authors who copied his book did not copy his translation of the Hebrew Matthew faithfully using the scribes methods of copying scriptures. We see 7 of the 9 manuscripts to be “Assimilated” to Greek and was different from the Hebrew Matthew.

2. Is it possible that Matthew have written the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew first?   Why are the Hebraism Lost? Why are there Greek Words used in the NT that are not common in Greek. 

According to Papias,  Matthew Gathered the teaching of Jesus in Hebrew, and then translated it. The lecture did not indicate the language which Matthew translated to, I think an educated guess would be Greek. It was the lingua franca of those days. 

Anyone who had translated between languages will understand that word puns could not be translated most of the time, this is because each language expresses an idea different. 

With regards to why are there “Uncommon” Greek expression in the New Testament

From personal experience, I am a Chinese speaking in English, sometimes it is possible for one to borrow terms from their native languages in their daily writing.

We all know that Apostle Matthew is a Jew, so why is it so surprising to find non common Greek words in his gospel of Matthew?

Wouldn’t this be a stronger proof that the author was a Jew? Does this cast doubt on his authorship?

For me Matthew indeed translate his compilation and written it in Greek, it would not have been surprising that the Hebraism is lost, but it would not affect my view that he wrote the Gospel of Matthew in Greek.

3. Why are there Hebraism found in the Hebrew Matthew?

Considering that Matthew was a Jew who compiled the teaching of Jesus in Hebrew before  translating them to Greek, why is that not possible?

Allow me to quote an example from my own real life experience.

Once in a meeting, my customer made a ridiculous suggestion, when my colleague heard it, he made a remark in English saying “This is like looking for a needle in the ocean” . His remarks bewildered a lot of my customers who are non Chinese.

During the break, they asked me what does it mean to “Look for a needle in the ocean?”

My colleagues and I explained that it is the Literal translation of the Chinese phrase “海底捞针 (hǎi​ dǐ ​lāo ​zhēn)​” Which carries the same meaning as “Looking for a needle in the haystack”.

We joke that Chinese feels that it is still possible to find a needle in a hay stack therefore we extended the idea and said “Try finding needle in the ocean”

Now if I were to encounter someone using the remark “To find a needle in the ocean” I would be able to detect the original meaning  and use “海底捞针” without any problem.

Since Matthew translated the saying of Jesus to Greek in his New testament, a native speaker like Ibn Shaprut would have easily detected the word puns and put them back in his translation of the Greek Matthew to Hebrew Matthew.

In fact, all the verses quoted by Mr Gordon are all evidence that Rabbi Ibn Shaprut would have make good use of his knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures to put back Hebrew verses such as “Eli Eli Lama Sabathani” and he was using the Hebrew version of Isaiah 29:13 in Matt 15:9

But are these verses an evidence of his knowledge of the scriptures, or an evidence that Matthew is written in Hebrew?

In fact, I believe the words of “Hebrew Yeshua” could be the Rabbis understanding of the words of Jesus. It is possible for him to insert his thoughts into his translation of  the Hebrew Matthew.

This is not a problem as Ibn Shaprut is not a Christian and he does not regard adding his thoughts into Matthew as “adding and subtracting” from the words of God.

But does all these things makes his translation “more original than Original”?  Does it discredit the fact that Matthew wrote the gospel of Matthew in Greek?

 4.If there was a Hebrew New Testament, why is there a lack of Manuscript?

This question is important to me, as there are 24000 new testament copies and they are all in various languages. We know as the matter of fact the church was first made up of Jews, why is it that no one ever wanted to record down the New Testament in Hebrew?

My Conclusion 

While Mr Gordon’s lecture was packed with lots of interesting facts about the Pharisees and I have learnt much with regards to the world of Jesus and the thoughts of the Pharisees from him. I do not think he had the authority to discredit the authenticity of the new testaments 

Most of his points made during the lecture were centered around his belief that the 23 Manuscripts of Shem Tobs Hebrew Matthew is a more “original” compared to all the ancient copies of NT Greek text. Even though the latter are closer to the time of original authorship.

I do not have a problem with his view, because he is not a Christian nor does he regard Jesus as the messiah. It is his faith and I am in no position to question or challenge it.

But the question I would like to ask all my Christian friends is this

Would you base your understanding of Jesus on 23 Hebrew manuscripts written by Hebrew Rabbis who do not believe in Jesus, or would you base them on the 24000 manuscripts that are copied by faithful Christians all over the world?

For me I would place my support for the latter.

I regard the works of Apostles as much as I esteem the works of Moses and the prophets of Old. For it is the same spirit that inspired all their works 

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
  and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
  correction, for instruction in righteousness,
  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly
   equipped for every good work.” – Paul (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Although the NT was not completed by the time Paul make such a declaration. We have to remember that we have a God who transcends time , he had given  his Holy Spirit to the disciples while the new testament is penned down.

This Holy Spirit was promised by God in the OT and fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, denying the authorship of the NT is as good as nullifying the words of the Prophets in the OT

I have attached a link to the lecture to those who are interested to find out more about Mr Gordons Lecture.           

This is a simple hymn that I used to hear the choir sing in many of the Evangelistic service. Recently I received a request from a friend to recommend a Chinese hymn about the peace of Jesus.

This hymn floated back to my mind immediately.

If the world we live in is a sea, the problems we encounter in life will be like the storms in the sea. This hymns assures us that Jesus is the harbor in the midst of life stormy seas.  The peace that he had given to us is not like what the world gives. It is given deep into our hearts, and it will never end.

As long as we are willing to submit to him, his peace will rule in our hearts

Title: 耶穌給你平安
Choir : 天韵

这世界虽有苦难,
主耶稣是避风港湾;

他要给你,
他要给你平安,
源源涌流不断。

(Chorus)
耶稣,耶稣给你平安,
耶稣给你真正平安,
深深在你心里,
源源涌流不断,
哦!耶稣给你平安。

Repeat 1 X
Repeat Chorus

平安。
耶稣给你平安。

Title : Yē ​sū gěi nǐ​ píng​’ān​
Choir :tiān​ yùn​

zhè​ shì​ jiè​ suī​ yǒu​ kǔ ​nàn​
zhǔ​ Yē ​sū shì​ bì ​fēng ​gǎng wān​

tā​ yào​ gěi nǐ​
tā​ yào​ gěi nǐ​ píng​’ān​  ,
yuán​ yuán​ yǒng​ liú​ bù​ duàn​

(Chorus)
Yē ​sū, Yē ​sū gěi nǐ​ píng​’ān​
Yē ​sū gěi nǐ zhēn​ zhèng píng​’ān
shēn​ shēn​ zài​ nǐ​ xīn ​li​
yuán​ yuán​ yǒng​ liú​ bù​ duàn
o​! Yē ​sū gěi nǐ​ píng​’ān​

Repeat 1 X
Repeat Chorus

píng​’ān​
Yē ​sū gěi nǐ​ píng​’ān​

 

 

 

English Translation

Title: Jesus gives you peace
Choir : Heavenly Melody

Though in this world there are storms
But Lord Jesus is that harbor by the bay

He will give you,
He will give you peace
One that flows on without stopping

Jesus ,Jesus gives you  peace 
Jesus gives you true peace
Deep within your heart
One that flows without stopping
Oh! Jesus gives your peace

Repeat 1 X
Repeat Chorus

peace
Jesus gives your peace

In fact, I think I have shared two more hymns about peace . You can go for the lyrics here

https://tben.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/lyrics-of-%e7%a5%82%e7%b5%a6%e4%bd%a0%e7%9c%9f%e5%b9%b3%e5%ae%89/?relatedposts_exclude=963

Unfortunately, the second hymn is unique to my church, and its hard to find the tune

https://tben.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/lyrics-of-%e4%b8%bb%e8%b5%90%e7%9c%9f%e5%b9%b3%e5%ae%89-jesus-gives-me-peace/

Some of my friends were wondering how I spent my new year this year. I went on a road trip from where I stayed to a nearby church. I spent my new year with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was supposed to fly back home, but I could not afford the long leave as I have another big event later on this year that requires most of my annual leave.

Throughout this time, I thank God that God allowed me to stay with a very fantastic family who took care of me just like my own family. I asked for a interesting new year and God gave me this.

However, during this time, I did not have much a chance to hear from my most beloved since she was away too.. And I could only hear my family from on the phone.

During this period, I happened to watch “How I met your mother” and I cant help but to be captivated by the song “La Vie En Rose” which was sang by the mother at Farhampton inn . So I did a bit of a research on it.

La Vie En Rose is directly translated as “Life In Pink”, but figuratively it can mean “Life Through Rose Colored Glasses”

La Vie En Rose was the signature song of Édith Piaf  , it was released as a single in 1947. Ms Edith had a nickname “La Môme Piaf” (AKA Baby/Little Sparrow/Birdie ) . She is widely regarded as France National Diva. She passed away in 1963.

The song was sang by many other singers. The version that the mother was singing is the English version. I cant help being captivated by the beautiful melody. So I decided to share it on my blog today.

Original Version

Title : La Vie En Rose
Artiste: Édith Piaf

Des yeux qui font baisser les miens
Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche
Voilà le portrait sans retouches
De l’homme auquel j’appartiens

Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose

Il me dit des mots d’amour
Des mots de tous les jours
Et ça me fait quelque chose

Il est entré dans mon cœur
Une part de bonheur
Dont je connais la cause

C’est lui pour moi, moi pour lui,
dans la vie
Il me l’a dit, l’a juré, pour la vie

Et dès que je l’aperçois
Alors je sens en moi,
Mon cœur qui bat

Des nuits d’amour à plus finir
Un grand bonheur
qui prend sa place
Les ennuis, les chagrins s’effacent
Heureux, heureux à en mourir

Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose

Il me dit des mots d’amour
Des mots de tous les jours
Et ça me fait quelque chose

Il est entré dans mon cœur
Une part de bonheur
Dont je connais la cause

C’est toi pour moi, moi
pour toi, dans la vie
Tu me l’as dit,
l’as juré, pour la vie

Et dès que je t’aperçois
Alors je sens en moi
Mon cœur qui bat

Title: Life Through Rose Coloured Glasses
Artiste : Édith Piaf

Eyes which make mine look down,
A laugh that gets lost on his mouth,
Here is the unretouched portrait,
Of the man to whom I belong.

When he takes me in his arms,
He speaks to me softly,
I see life through rose-colored glasses,

He tells me words of love,
Everyday words
And that does something to me!

Into my heart has entered
A little bit of happiness,
Of which I know the cause.

It’s him for me, me for him,
throughout life.He said it to me,
he has sworn it for life!

And as soon as I see him,
Then I feel within myself
My heart beating

Nights of love that will never end
Happiness
replaces
troubles and sorrows
Happy, Happiness to die for!

When he takes me in his arms,
He speaks to me softly
I see life through rose-colored glasses.

He tells me words of love,
Everyday words
And that just does something to me!

Into my heart has entered
A little bit of happiness,
Of which I know the cause.

It’s you for me,
me for you,throughout life.
You said it to me,
you’ve sworn it for life!

And as soon as I see you
Then I feel within myself
My heart beating

But the version that I heard had a much simpler lyrics than the Original

Title : La Vie En Rose (Life Through Rose Coloured Glasses)
Artist : Various / Loius Armstrong/ Cristin Milioti

Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose

When you kiss me heaven sighs
And tho’ I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose

When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom

And when you speak…angels sing from above
Everyday words seem…to turn into love songs

Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose

 

This is the video of the original version by Édith Piaf

The scene that prompted my interest in the song is here

In our previous post, we have shared that King Hezekiah made a resolve to lead the children of Israel back to God.

This resolve is important, as it was the reason why God blessed Hezekiah later on in his life. We have discuss the fact that God is often waiting for his child to turn back to him and he would never turn his back to his children.

We had also discussed the need to hold on to God and to grab hold of him. Hezekiah did so by cleansing the temple.

We had discussed that our bodies is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The temple that we must clean is none other than our own body. Now let us look at how do we cleanse our temple.

The Example of Peter, James and John

When Jesus performed a miracle before Peter, James and John  in Lk 5:1-11. We can see 2 groups of people with 2 different reaction to that same miracle.

Many were astonish at the fact that initially the fisherman toiled all night and caught nothing and now their catch is so huge that they need more than 1 boat to haul in the catch.

At the same time, we see Peter having a different reaction, he fell onto his knees before Jesus said said

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” – Peter (Lk 5:8 )

His reactions would have leave us baffled. For shouldn’t he be happy that he is enjoying blessings given to him by Jesus? Why isn’t he glad that his boat was used by Jesus? Why wasn’t he rejoicing for he had followed Jesus who is so powerful?  Why is he so afraid?

In fact Lk 5:10 tells us that James and John were afraid as well. At this time, Jesus said to them

“Do not be afraid, from now on you will catch men” – Jesus (Lk 5:10)

From then on the disciples made a resolve, left their nets and followed Jesus .

Let us consider the reason they ask Jesus to depart from them.

Most probably when they first saw Jesus, they regarded him as a typical Rabbi, they did not believe that he is the Messiah until they see his power. That is when they realize that they have transgressed against Jesus. They realize their sin so they find themselves unworthy before his presence.

But despite their unworthiness, Jesus told them not to be afraid and to follow him. This is why they are grateful. They are people who see their own imperfections. 

To Cleanse The Temple Is To Realize Your Own Sin

Today if we encounter the same miracle, we will likewise be astonished. Imagine if now Jesus bless us and we no longer need to worry for our livelihood anymore.  Yet how many of us would be like Peter, James and John to recognized their own sin?

Indeed if God wanted to judge us for our sins , our weakness, as well as our coldness towards him. If God wanted to judge us by the things we say and the things we do, how many of us could stand before him blameless?

Yet God gave us year and after year, so what would our response be?

Will we choose to sin more, or will we try to lead a life worthy of Gods calling?

The Example Of Isaiah

Isaiah was a man who regard himself as a pure and holy man. He rebuke Israel of their sins. He felt that he was righteous until the day when God appeared to him.

When he saw the angels of the Lord calling out “Holy Holy Holy” That is when he realized his sin, and he exclaimed

“Woe is me, for I am undone!
  because I am a man of unclean lips,
  And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
  For my eyes have seen the King,
  The Lord of hosts.” – Isaiah (Is 6:5)

He saw his own sin and that he had fallen short of the standard of God, therefore he made a resolve to return to God and to ask him for forgiveness.  As the result, God sent an angel with a live coal to touch the mouth of Isaiah.  His sin was forgiven.

It was only after that  God sent him to preach to Israel and to lead them back .

To Cleanse the temple is to see your own fault before others

In order for a prophet to cleanse another, he must himself be cleanse. Very often we complain of how we are mistreated by others, and we often push the blame to others.

But are we not partially responsible for the conflict? why are we the angels when everyone else the devil?

This is why Jesus once ask

“ Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, 
   but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 
   Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove t
   he speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own
   eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own
   eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck
   from your brother’s eye.”  – Jesus (Matt 7:3-5)

We have often considered the fault of others, but have we considered the fault that lies within us?

People who cleanse their temple consider their own weakness first. Peter, James, John and Isaiah are examples of people who seek God with their heart. They saw their own unrighteousness and weakness, and they cleanse themselves

Today if we desire blessings from the Lord, let us learn to cleanse ourselves. Let us refrain from complaining about others, and pushing the blame to them. Let us consider ourselves for we too need to bear a responsibility.

If others do not repent, why don’t we repent first? If they do not give in, why don’t we give in to them first? If they do not repent, why don’t we take the first step? If they do not love, why don’t we start by showing love first?

Sadly not everyone is willing to listen, to obey and to repent.

Cleansing The Temple Involves a Personal Repentance

2 Chron 30:10-12 Tells us how King Hezekiah ordered everyone in Judah to repent, at the same time, he sent messengers to Ephraim, Manasseh and Zebulun as well. But there are some who mocked at the messengers.

Interestingly, verse 11 tells us of the fact that there are people who indeed humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. God did move people from their stubbornness and they obeyed King Hezekiah. As the result, they received revival of faith and they regained the blessing of the Lord.

Indeed, today when one try to repent, there will be mockers who will question “what’s the use of all this?” . They claimed that it would be status quo and what is the point of speaking against sin?”

Sometimes we are discouraged with their words but we ought to remember one thing

While others may choose to mock us, but our choice is our responsibility. Disobeying God is easy when we feel that there are no consequences. We feel that we can live a life of freedom without rebuke, with no requirements to pray and serve God. It gives us a false impression that we could lead a life like that without consequences.

But We have not considered the dearer price that awaits in the future. Just like what the Author of Hebrew tells us

 And as it is appointed for men to
   die once, but after this the judgment” – Author of Hebrews (Heb 9:27)

The Example Of The Rich man and Lazarus

We all remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus  (Lk 16:19-31) . We have a rich man, even though he is a descendant of Abraham, he hardly does the work of Abraham. He failed to love God and to love man, and he loved himself and wanted to enjoy everything that he had in his life.

He is a man who does not want to pay the price for faith. He regretted at the end of the day. Do we remember what Abraham said to him?

“ Son, remember that in your lifetime
   you received your good things, and likewise
   Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted
  and you are tormented.” – Abraham (Lk 16:25)

This is a simple illustration, and it leaves a deep impression. It remind us, even though we have the freedom to choose, but there is a price for our choice.

Let us not be like the rich man, let us be humble and come before God. Let us ask for his forgiveness and to seek his blessing let us once again choose to be obedient to the words of God.

For that will bring us peace, and when death comes there is no fear. For we know we tried our very best to walk in the way of the Lord. Even though we failed often, but we know that God will save us to the very end.

However, if we do not fear God, even when others tells us not to be afraid we would be afraid to meet him.

The Result Of Hezekiah’s Work

2 Chron 30:26-27 tells us the conclusion of the work of King Hezekiah. There was a great joy in Jerusalem, and since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.

Those who gathered in Jerusalem repented, and God forgave their sin. He heard the prayers of Hezekiah and he healed the people. He gave them this joy in their heart.  That joy is comparable to the times when Solomon dedicated the temple to the Lord.

If we recall the time when King Solomon dedicated the temple, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The nation of Israel was strong, rich and powerful. God was abiding with them .They experienced peace from the Lord and those were the golden age.

Strangely, when they experience the joy once again, their situation was very much different.

Judah was surrounded by enemies, we know that not long after Assyria destroyed Israel and laid a siege on Judah. Life within the Kingdom of Judah was difficult and harsh. This time they did not see the glory of the God filled the temple, nor did they witness any miracles.

All they had was a heart to repent, a heart to cleanse themselves and a resolve to return to the Lord.

Yet they received great joy, knowing that God had forgiven them, and they knew that God will bless them and they could start a new once again.

The book of chronicles, ended the episode with the following words

“Then the priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people,
  and their voice was heard; and their prayer came up to His
  holy dwelling place, to heaven.”

May we all experience this blessing for the new year as well.

Let us make a resolve to come before God and to receive his blessings, let us resolve to remain within his grace. Let us resolve to turn back to God and to be blessed by him.