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Archive for May, 2018

I have long been curious and fascinated by Biblical chronology. It is right that I should be so, since I believe that the Bible is true and all other truth claims are to be interpreted in light of its meaning. It is not, however, a straight forward pursuit since various factors have obscured the truth that is contained therein. Various people deal with this problem in various ways, but it seems to me that the main procedure that they use, on some level, is to discount  the validity of the Scriptures. So, while I believe and can confidently say based on Scripture and corroborating scientific evidence that the Earth was created recently, perhaps six to eight thousand years ago, I can equally confidently say that no one knows the exact number of years ago that “God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Others refuse to explore these issues and say, ‘What difference does it matter?’ I believe that it matters for at least the following reasons:

•An old Earth laced with death means death is not a result of Adam’s sin.

•If Adam’s sin did not bring death, then there is no need for a Savior.

•If we cannot place the Flood in the correct time where it fits with what else we know of history, we cannot apply logic to see how the modern Earth has resulted.

It is this latter idea that I want to explore on an admittedly shallow level and give my opinion. My musings here will not resolve the problem, but they will help me to clarify what I have come to suspect and perhaps stir some readers to consider different legitimate perspectives.

As a kind of introduction to the problem, has it ever bothered you about how rapidly post-Flood changes took place? Nations of peoples in a very few generations, Tower of Babel, Ur, and most of the planet settled in 300 years? And all of these people came from three women who came off of the ark. (It does not say that Noah had other sons and daughters, but it does say “These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.” (Genesis 9:19)) Abraham could have known Shem who “ was one hundred years old, and became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; and Shem lived five hundred years after he became the father of Arpachshad” (Genesis 11:10-11). 500 years after the flood would be long enough for him to be alive when Isaac was born. Noah and Abraham could have even known each other because “Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood.” (Genesis 9:28)

What I have not told you is that this chronology and the resulting seemingly odd consequences come from the Masoretic Text (MT) of Scripture. The Septuagint (LXX for 70 scholars who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek.) extends the date of the Flood earlier by about 900 years (exact numbers are not really possible for many reasons). This extra time easily and neatly fits many historical and scientific claims.

I come across examples of how the LXX chronology fits with what we know about the world every now and then. Following are a few examples that I can remember. The first Egyptian Dynasty is said to have begun around 3150 B.C. (1) Now if it were said that Egypt was around in 4500 B.C. or some such date, I would not accept that because it clearly contradicts Scripture by any reasonable, straight-forward reading of the text. Even the dates they do give could be skewed, but they seem reasonable.

Bristlecone Pine ring cores have dated Methuselah at 4845 years old and Prometheus, which was cut down, at just over 4900 years old. And more recently one unknown, purposefully hidden specimen was dated at 5062 years old. (2) Even with a number of double rings (two sets of rings grown in one year), these trees would have sprouted before the ~2400 B.C. of the Masoretic Flood date.

I was listening to a video with students about a month ago on the subject of the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964. The USGS geologists studying this 9.2 megathrust earthquake took soil cores from the zone near the inter-tidal zone where barnacles were suddenly thrust up out of the sea about 8 feet in 4 minutes. When they drilled down deep, they found the sudden occurence of land based plants at nine places in the core, going back about 5500 years, based on the C-14 dating. The researcher said that this suggested that the average time between large quakes was about 630 years.  (3)

These examples may seem random and anecdotal with respect to biblical chronology, but they have one thing in common. All three examples originated in the range of 3500 to 3000 B.C., meaning that the events would have happened after the Flood as recorded in the LXX text of Scripture. I don’t think that experience and “scientific” and “historical” evidence mediates Scriptural discussion. In fact that is what has gotten us into the unbelieving mess we are in now. But when multiple lines of evidence line up with what the Scriptures say, it lends some credence to the argument.

Tell me what you think. Have you read or heard evidence from secular or Christian sources that suggest that the Flood happened before 3000 B.C.? Or do you have a well thought our reason to remain with the 2400 B.C. date? If you begin to explore these ideas, be aware that there is a boat load of information. It is not worth getting swallowed up by, but it does merit some curiosity, particularly if it pushes you to examine Scripture for more truth. Let me know what you think.

(1) https://www.ancient.eu/First_Dynasty_of_Egypt/

(2) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-one-man-accidentally-killed-the-oldest-tree-ever-125764872/

(3) http://www.earthquakenewz.com/1964-quake-the-great-alaska-earthquake-5/

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…there’s a Gecko in your bathtub!

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…Spanish Moss is in every Live Oak tree.

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…there is sand and only sand, and it’s everywhere, in your clothes, in your car, in your house, in the breeze.

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…the rocks were once alive- coral or shells.

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…everything grows on everything else. (Pop Quiz: What is the difference in an epiphyte and a parasite?)

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…there are a numerous variety of birds, many of which have long legs and long beaks.

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…you can see thunderstorms coming hours and multiple dozens of miles in advance.

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…the power company provides places for raptors to nest.

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…most of the housing developments have walls and many gates and more than a few screened in swimming pools behind every house (a car in every garage?).

I like different for a change, but it is good to be home where   

   1) the tub don’t have no critters hangin’ out in it. (hope ya ain’t offended by my grammar).
2) the only thing hangin’ in a tree is branches and squirrels.
3) the dirt is orange clay and the rocks are hard with crystals.

   4) the birds are small and sing songs in the morning.
   5) thunderstorms pop up of a sudden.
   6) you have 1/2 million dollar homes and trailers on the same street.
I like traveling and exploring and I like coming home, too. God has created a big, varied world with so much to fill the senses and point us to Him.

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I hugely enjoy fellowshipping in other churches on the rare occasions that I travel. This Memorial Day weekend was just one of those times. I am encouraged by God’s universal church worshipping God and the teaching of God’s Word, interpreted by the same Holy Spirit, sounding forth. God is at work in many and various places to accomplish His work, and God’s people are seeking Him.

Visiting a small church called “Grace…” [only part of the name I could remember, or needed to know] in New Port Richey, Florida, the pastor’s son-in-law, who is a policeman, preached on trials from James 1:1-12. Following are a few paraphrases of his words on purpose and perspective in the midst of trials:

“We don’t have it in us to have joy” [deep, light-hearted confidence]; it comes from the Holy Spirit within us enabling us to “delight in the

       1) person of God,    

       2) the purpose of God, and

       3) the people of God.”

“Our life purpose is to portray the superiority of God in our lives”, giving glory to God.

The purpose of our trials is to glorify God by our winning when it looks like we are losing [because of trials].

Trials test our faith: pop quiz:

1) “Do you believe God is in control?”

2) “Do you believe God is good?”

3 “Are you willing to wait on God’s perfect timing in every area of your

    life?”

The endurance or steadfastness referred to in verse three means to ‘remain under’. Trials are a stress, a pressure, an uncomfortable force in our lives. ‘Everything God wants to do in our lives and use to bless us comes through us remaining under God’s control’ in the midst of trials.

This spattering of my sermon notes does not convey the full weight of the sermon, but it does give you pieces of wisdom that I think are worth reading over several times. Trials are for believers to test and strengthen their faith and give glory to God. We are not spared trials because they are what are best for us and give the most glory to God. May His name be praised in all that I do.

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My pastor abbreviates the condition of Creation as “beautiful but broken”, a deeply descriptive phrase for what we observe in nature. I got to thinking about it one day after church and the following began to come to me.

Beautiful but broken
This world that He made
Of His nature a token
But hastening to fade

Beauty marred by man’s sin
Caused death and decay
So all who are Adam’s kin
To God’s Son, no delay

Though all Creation groans
In futility
Slave to corruption it moans
One day will be set free

The sons of God revealed
Creation restored
We and it too be glorified
Through both God will be praised

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I live in the present for a number of reasons. I like adventure, even if ever so small, so I seek out new experiences. I have never been able to attach times with events; I have a friend who can name the year, month, and frequently which day an event happened. I have discovered, save a few rare jewels, that few people want to hear about what happened long ago. But today at lunch a definite opening to the past came about and I related a story and asked my colleague to relate a similar experience, “What was the most interesting night you have ever spent backpacking?” She related that it was the first and last time she ever saw a porcupine. Part of her adventure was a lack of understanding at the time of how quills work, that is, how porcupines use them for defense.

I told of a night when it was snowing hard, large wet flakes at dusk and we were looking for an opening with a flat spot for our tent. We came down to a road where a man was checking his mailbox. My friends got into a conversation with him about the weather and camping sites. He offered his barn loft and we jumped at it. The loft smelled of hay but there was none other than a dusting on the floor. We swept the loft so we could start our cook stoves without burning the barn down. Svea stoves sound like small jet engines, so it drown out the windy storm for awhile. Candlelight caste eerie shapes and shadows on the rafters and slats. I took several time exposures with my film SLR. We told stories, read abit and lay down to a long winter’s slumber. It was a pleasant place to sleep not having the tent flapping in the breeze. The next morning it was in the upper teens. My wet boots had frozen overnight and were painful to put on and to walk. I am sure that  up on Whitetop Mtn. there were significant drifts, but there was dry snow here, too. I feel like I have experienced a small taste of what life used to be like when I have done things like sleeping in a barn. Of course, our forebearers didn’t have nylon sleeping bags and packs, or pre-packaged food or white gas stoves or SLR cameras, but they did live simply and sleep hard on occasions.

Telling this memory reminded me of other memorable nights in the woods. Once with another friend we spent the night in a forest of young, straight trees. It was hard to hang our packs with no branches within throwing distance of our cord, so we hung our packs between two small, understory trees with the bottoms of our packs hanging barely above our reach. It had been a very wet day and now set in for a foggy night. We may have napped an hour in our tent when we heard pack rattling noises. Our flashlights revealed three large cubs, perhaps even yearlings, taking turns climbing one of the small trees and jumping out to swipe at the packs. We had left the pockets unzipped so that any mice that managed the climb would simply enter rather than chew holes in our packs. This detail meant that the cubs’ swipes were effective at knocking out our granola and snack bars and meat packets, and so forth. Before they had done much damage to our food supplies or torn open any stuff sacks we were out of our tent yelling and banging tree trunks with sticks, to which they scurried into the rhododendron out of sight. After several exchanges of this kind we could see that they thought it was a wonderful game, but we were becoming more leery at the thought of mother bear being just out of sight ready to attack if our admonitions were not to her liking. Wearily and warily we decided that there was no help for it other than to start a fire under the packs to keep the cubs away and mother hidden from sight. It was the hardest fire I have ever started. My friend collected every potentially dry twig and leaf possible, from under rocks and under logs and in tree hollows. There was only relatively less wet; dry did not exist. With a little of our toilet paper, some white gas from our stove, many minute twigs and needles we somehow got a fire going, but keeping it going and drying wood in the smokey fire was just as hard. Walking most of the day with a pack on requires two things: lots of food and good sleep. We were not getting much of the latter. We took two hour shifts of keeping the fire going and sleeping in the tent. Some time during the wee hours the fog lifted to reveal a moonless, starlit, branch filled sky. It was perhaps the first time that I realized that the sky begins to lighten as early as 3 AM in the summer. What is not perceivable to the eye around light pollution is a wondrous sight to the dark adjusted pupil. We didn’t see the cubs again and can’t say with any assurance that mom was anywhere around, but our packs smelled of smoke for a long time after that.  

Another memorable night I spent on Camp Town Bald, which I think was renamed Viking Mountain. There are few fire towers left in the mountains and probably none used for their original purpose, but one of the larger ones stood on top of the Bald in the late ’70’s- I estimate 80+ feet tall. My most frequent backpacking partner and I camped at the base of it in the tall grass. After dark I mounted the tower to the deck above. The glassed in portion was locked so a sat down, curled up in my sleeping bag, leaning against the wall of the enclosed space. I had a wonderful time of prayer and singing hymns as I gazed over the lights in the valley and the stars above. I began to see flashes of lightning in the far distance, so I moved around to the other side of the cat-walk in order to watch the fireworks. Above the trees and over 5000′ elevation, I could see the storm many miles away. Now that I reflect on it, it was odd that the storm was coming from the East over the mountains moving toward me. Thunderstorms rarely come from that direction. The storm kept building in my direction until I figured that perching atop a metal tower in a thunderstorm was probably not the safest vantage point. Having such a grand view of it I feel sure that I abandoned my post in plenty of safe time, but my friend down below had been getting worried. This story doesn’t make for quite as interesting telling or hearing, but if you can envision the scene with its three kinds of lights and the opportunity to worship the Creator of all that is light and life and beauty, you may imagine the depth of peace and joy the situation brought to me.

For it is this same Creator who has saved me and given me purpose and a future with Him. He commands the thunderstorm and the snowstorm, sets the stars in their places, gives man shelter and provides all that he needs, grows the trees and provides for the bear cubs, and will extend to you grace also if you will acknowledge your sin and His Son’s work to put it away. Glory to God for His goodness and His benefits to those upon whom His grace abounds.

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Odd shaped trees make for hazardous felling.

So, I climbed a few feet up on a ladder and took out some limbs. Then I was on the ground taking down the snagged limbs. I had to cross a barbed wire fence to get to some of the limbs. Several of the trees needed pulled by truck and rope. One twisted and the stump end jumped toward me. I had noticed when the tree began to move that it was twisting, so I stepped back two steps. When it landed at my feet I jumped back again. Even small trees are due respect since they outweigh me many times over, are much taller, and fall in surprising ways. Oh, you can read that it will fall funny, but not always the exact path. I cut Sweetgum, Willow Oak, Eastern Redcedar, Black Cherry, and Maple. The trees ranged in size from 6 inches to 2 feet- small to medium.  It was to help out a friend’s mother. My friend helped cut downed trees and pull with the truck and two of his daughters hauled brush and loaded firewood for him and for me. Everyone worked hard and everyone was safe, including, as best I know, not getting poison ivy that was thick on several of the trees. And did I mention that I got paid.

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