N is for Nephilim


NNow these guys  are interesting. I’ve read quite a bit about the Nephilim – and not everyone agrees who they are…

They first appear in Genesis 6…
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The discussion usually centres around ‘the sons of God and the daughters of men.’ Some sources say that the sons of God were fallen angels. Others say that they were lapsed followers of God who were attracted to women who were not followers of God, hence God’s frustration with their choice of wives.

It makes more sense that they were human. Jesus mentions angels in the NT and says that they don’t marry. (Matt 22:29) Also the beginning of the above section is talking specifically about the increase of human beings. The Nephilim are only mentioned briefly and are not talked about again until their descendants are mentioned in the book of Numbers, when the 12 spies went to check out the land (Another great story!). “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.”” (Num 13:33 ESV) It’s important to note that this was after the flood, so these Nephilim were descendants of one of Noah’s sons. So… were Nephilim people of a particular stature, rather than of a particular tribe? Not sure, but they were obviously big guys! Later on we hear that Goliath, the Philistine, was another human of gargantuan proportions. So it wasn’t unheard of, or an ‘angelic’ quality to be big!

I freely admit that this a 2 minute thought on a well documented discussion about who these Nephilim were – and don’t get me started on the Rock Monsters in the Noah movie.

I believe that the more important point is the story that surrounds them. God continually calling His people back to Him, and all but Noah responded. The Ark was built and the rains came. No one, not even the ‘sons of God’ saw what was coming, or realised God’s judgement was about to fall.

The Nephilim were ‘heroes of old, men of renown’ – but they weren’t on the ark!
There’s another lifeboat coming, I intend to be on it – how about you?

M is for Macarise


MToday’s word is Macarise. It has nothing to with fast food production, pasta with cheese; or equally cheesy spanish pop songs. It’s even BETTER than those things :)

phrontistery.info defines it as: to declare to be happy or blessed. A macarism (the noun) is also known as a ‘beatitude – taking pleasure in someone else’s joy.’ So the word can also be used to congratulate someone on their joy.

Last year I did some research on the difference between contentment and happiness. You can be content ‘in every situation’ without necessarily being happy about it. I read somewhere (sorry I can remember where) that contentment is and inner state; more to do with how you feel about how things are. Happiness is a response to the receipt of something good. This is macarism – a beatitude – declaring happiness because of a blessing.

The added element of congratulating others on their joy – well it’s double prizes isn’t it. It echoes Romans 12:15, which says that we should rejoice with those who rejoice.

There are some obvious cases of macarism in the Bible. The two that spring to mind immediately are when Miriam grabbed a tambouine and danced and sang after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20ff.), and Mary’s own expression of joy; magnifying the LORD for His blessing upon her (Luke 1:46ff.)

My prayer for each and every reader of this post is that the Lord would give you cause to macarise today. :) x

L is for Laud


LI realised a few years ago that I’d been singing a hymn wrong. The first line is All glory, laud and honour to Thee, Redeemer King.’ I presumed it was a typo in the hymn book and was singing ‘All glory Lord, and honour.’ (I didn’t seem to have a problem with the terrible grammar of that sentence.)

When we changed to projecting hymn words on a screen, the word ‘laud’ was still there. I knew that they would not have carried a typo over from the book. So I went looking for the definition…

Oxforddictionaries.com says this: Laud – Late Middle English: the noun from Old French laude, the verb from Latin laudare, both from Latin laus, laud – ‘praise’

There’s nothing new I can say about praise. Even if you don’t believe in God, you know what praise is – whether it be for a sports team, a musician or your child’s maths homework :) BUT when rummaging around to see how the word ‘laud’ is used, I found some troponyms of the word.

Stay with me now…

A troponym is a way of enacting a verb. It’s different from an adverb – she sang brightly, he walked slowly etc. It is a method by which an action can be carried out. So a troponym of ‘laud’ is simply, a way in which one can ‘laud’ You still with me? ;) Well one of the troponyms is -to ‘ensky’ which means – to exalt to the skies; lift to the skies or to heaven with praise.

Presuming I haven’t totally confused you, I hope you think that is a fantastic as I do!

In the updated version of the hymn book, they’ve changed the word to ‘praise’. I know that a lot of flowery and unfamiliar language is not always helpful, especially to folks who are new to it all. I just think laud is a better and a fuller word. I’ve been blessed in the exploration what it really means.

Whatever word we use, the important thing is that it all goes to Him.

K is for Koinonia


KWelcome to the half-way mark of the A to Z Challenge  – or just beyond it. This is the start of week three and today’s letter ‘K’ is for another word I love – Koinonia.

GotQuestions.org explains the word like this: Koinonia is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.

Yesterday evening our pastor preached on 1 Samuel 20, about the covenant that David and Jonathan made with each other. He was speaking about the particular nature of their friendship and the covenant promises they made to one another. After making the agreement (it’s a great story btw, you should go read it), Jonathan says, “remember, the Lord is witness between you and me forever.” Their friendship and promises were in the context of their common relationship with God. During yesterday’s sermon, the pastor noted that this can be a lonely world, and surely all friendships are valuable. It’s not that we should disregard friendships with with those who don’t share our faith – it’s just acknowledging that friendships with other believers are different.

There is ‘koinonia’ :)

Have you ever looked around your church on a Sunday and wondered how you managed to end up part of such a motley crew? Oh… so just me then! Nah… I doubt that.

I’ve been in a few different churches over the years, having moved a few times. I’m always amazed at the mixed bunch I end up in. Quite often there are folk who I’d never hang out with in any other context. There’s nothing wrong with them; it’s just that because of different backgrounds, age, personality, likes/dislikes etc our paths would most likely never cross.

In our natural born family it’s a blood tie that keeps us together. Even if a family is not ‘together’ as such, a blood relative will always be one – even if you never see them. In the family of God, the fellowship, the ‘koinonia’ of the followers of Christ has that same sticking power!

If you’re a Christian then I’m your sister in Christ. If I drive you nuts that’s just hard cheese – we’re stuck with each other :) Kinda nice tho’ eh?

J is for Just when you think you know what’s about to happen, something else happens!


JOK so strictly speaking, the title of today’s blog post is not a theological term. But then I’ve been trying to take some of these complicated sounding words, and make them more understandable. With this post I’m just doing it the other way around…

You see, today I wasn’t going to write a post at all. I was going to write it tomorrow, or cram two in on Monday. That’s because TODAY I’m supposed to be moving house. We’ve been staying with family since we moved to the UK and a few weeks ago we sorted out an apartment, and TODAY is, correction ‘was’, our moving day. After lunch yesterdat I got a call to say there was a problem, and to make a long story boring, there were numerous phone calls and emails all culminating in us NOT moving into our apt.

So as I type, almost everything I possess is packed away, my bed is stripped of all but a mattress cover (I suppose I should be grateful it hasn’t been taken apart and put in a van). All the stuff that was upstairs is now downstairs filling the hall and the music room of this lovely house we’ve been staying in. And I’ve no idea when we’re moving.

What’s the term for that then? Disaster? Frustration? Pain in the armpit?  It certainly feels like it. I’m trusting and hoping that it’s actually providence and God’s will. Just a bit confusing and seemingly pointless. This is one of those times when I apply the verse that says – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
It’s definitely not the way I’d have done this!

My fave verse from the old hymn, God Works in a Mysterious Way, by William Cowper.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

I’m ‘J’ust ‘J’olly as long as He’s still smiling at me :)

We take tomorrow off from AtoZ – am hoping to catch up on my reading of other blogs.
See you Monday x

I is for Immanence


II found today’s word on a blog called Rebecca Writes. I’ve spotted some of the terms I’ve done so far on her list.

She quotes from Wayne Grudem’s book Systematic Theology (IMO a great book). Immanence means “remaining in” creation.” Grudem says that, ‘the God of the Bible is no abstract deity removed from, and uninterested in his creation. The Bible is the story of God’s involvement with his creation, and particularly the people in it.’

Many believe that if there is a grand deity in the sky, he is far removed. He wound us up, set us off and then went off to do something else. I find that most of the reasoning for that belief is to do with suffering and natural disasters. If a loving God exists, how come there are tsunamis and terrible diseases?

It’s a fair question and to this day no one I’ve spoken to about it has ever been satisfied with my answer. My answer is probably a poor one – it’s basically built on a trust in God for the things I don’t understand, based on what I do know of him and is character as revealed in the Bible.

You see now why no one likes my answer. :)

I heard a better answer recently. We had a guest preacher in our church on Easter Sunday night. He spoke about Stephen Fry’s interview on Irish TV about God, particularly what he would say to God if he turned out to be real. SF responded with a passionate, angry list of things he would say to God. and questions he would ask him about sickness and tragedy.

Our speaker said (important to note that I’m paraphrasing here), atheism’s answer to that stuff is silence. We came from nothing more than slime, we’ll go to nothing. There is no great deity, there is no afterlife, there is only now. There’s no reckoning, no cosmic justice, no great day to come – there’s just nothing.

The Resurrection however, answers those questions. It explains why we have a sense of justice within us that cries ‘How dare you?’ when something terrible happens. It explains why things seem so unfair, why the world is falling apart and why there is sickness and death. The resurrection also says, there IS  a day of reckoning, a day when all accounts will be be settled, when all injustices will be made right, when all pain will be gone, and all tears will stop.

The resurrection is a picture of how everything can look so bleak, cruel, unfair and hopeless – yet something amazing can come from it. And the story’s not over yet – because He, the Risen One, is coming back.

I’m not sure how much justice I’ve done to a brilliant sermon, but I hope you get the gist :)

Rebecca Writes also uses these two quotes from the Bible. I’ll leave you with these and see you tomorrow with the ‘J’ post.

Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:23-24, ESV)

 

…one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6, ESV)

H is for Hypostatic Union.


HAnother day, another phrase you have to look at twice to pronounce properly. Hypostatic Union

An article on the Desiring God website says: ‘“hypostatic union” may sound fancy in English, but it’s a pretty simple term. Hypostatic means personal. The hypostatic union is the personal union of Jesus’ two natures.’

So we are back to another mystery.
Jesus is fully human and fully God. I believe that God tells me the truth in His Word; but how is that possible?

Recently in a number of sermons preached in my church (and not solely in the context of Easter services), the preachers referred to the fact that ‘Jesus learnt obedience.’ (Hebrews 5:8) I know I’m not the only one who struggled a bit with that. Jesus is God, and God put the stars in the sky; so why does he have to learn anything?

I don’t know – but he did! As a baby he couldn’t just get up and walk across the room, he would have taken clumsy first steps like any toddler. The same goes for speaking… John 1 says that Jesus IS the Word, yet he had to learn to say his first words as a little boy. So although being fully human did not remove any of his Godly characteristics, he still had to progress as a human; learning to walk and talk and obey.

By the way in case you’re waiting for me to unravel the mystery and explain it all; you’ll be waiting for a while :) However, I find some help in understanding it earlier in the  letter to the Hebrews, when the writer says, ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.’ Hebrews 4:15

For Jesus to fully understand and ’empathize with our weaknesses,’ surely he would have had to go through the struggle of learning certain things. I’m terrible with numbers, but my sister can count and rearrange them in her head. I do not understand how she does this, and she does not understand how I can’t. God who made all, knows all, IS all… could only truly say he has experienced all we have to go through, if he had to learn the as we have had to learn.

I think… I’m not 100% sure to be honest.

Before I finish… using the CARM website again, they provide an excellent table to show ‘the two natures of Jesus in action.’ I found it very helpful.

More anon x

CARM hu

source: CARM.org