BLACK & WHITE
19I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life (Deut 30:)
Why do people study the Bible? Or should I be more specific and ask: Why do you study the Bible?
I'm finding that there's a lot of reasons people read the Bible. I know people who read the Bible in order to say they've read the Bible. Then there's those who read the Bible like a magazine, that is, they read it for the stories and for entertainment. Then there's others who read the Bible so they'll be able to keep up with the Sunday School class, that is, they don't want to look ignorant when they're asked a question. I've known people who read the Bible for its sociological or psychological value. They look for information on how to interact with others, and how to improve themself. And there are still others who like the philosophy of the Bible, seeing Jesus as another of the great philosophers of the world.
These are people who read the Bible. The people I'm interested in here are those who actually study the Bible. This category ranges from those who delve into certain aspects of the Bible, to those who memorize the Bible word-for-word. Why do these people study the Bible?
I know there are some people who study the Bible because they look to be a pastor of a church, or because they attend a school that requires the study of the Bible. But even with these people, what is it they're looking to get out of the Bible?
I've seen on the TV people who are amazingly knowledgeable when it comes to the Bible and other aspects of life like history that's associated with the Bible. It's highly impressive what these people know, however, it's unfortunate that these people have learned all they know for the purpose of disproving the Bible. They want to negate the Bible, God, and Jesus.
The above is an extreme of how not to study the Bible. What about those people who study the Bible for more sincere reasons? Have you come across someone who has an amazing grasp of the language and the words of the Bible? It's as if they have swallowed a Hebrew and a Greek dictionary. And it seems they know the words of the Bible, but somehow the meaning of what those words are saying seems to be lost in the learning.
Then there are those who are interested in learning the legal aspects of the Bible. This category ranges from those who look for all the things the Bible says to do, to those who want to learn how to operate the organization the church is composed of. They want to see how a church is to be run, what each person is to do in that organization, and how those jobs are to be labeled.
We can't help but notice that the TV and other forms of media are highly skilled and educated in the art of extracting money from the pockets of those who tune in to their program. These people study the Bible in order to find the right words, and the right verses that best appeal to a listener's purse strings. There's the plea for money to feed the poor, and to help with a building project, and of course to add to the donator's bank account. "Give to me, and God will give to you tenfold." You know the story I'm sure.
But above all the above, it appears to me the most common reason the Bible is studied is to find the passages of Scripture that tells us that there is nothing, or at least very little we have to do in order to reap the greatest rewards. Along with this reason for studying the Bible is that of finding Scripture that tells us (or at least seems to tell us) that we are special, that we are better than other folks, that we are more blessed by God than others because of something we've done, or that we are, or that we belong to. (I wonder why the words "Hitler's education system," and the "KKK" come to mind?)
These are some of the reasons people read and study the Bible. Did you find your reason amongst the list? Are any of these the reason we should be studying the Bible? Do any of these reasons fill the bill when it comes to the reason God wants us to study His Word?
14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2Tim 2:)
11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Rev 4:)
12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:)
4Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Mat 17:)
29And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:)
5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb 11:)
1As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:)
35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:)
13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Rev 7:)
37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.). (John 7:)
5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Mat 5:)
36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:)
Why do you read the Bible? Do you read to see what God can do for you? Or do you read to learn what God expects of you in order to please Him?
71It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. 72The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. 73Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. (Psalm 119:)
10Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. (Deut 4:)
27All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Mat 11:)
1And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because ["Concerning, on account of"] of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. 3(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) (Num 12:)
First we see that Miriam said something "concerning" Moses' wife. What it was she said we don't know, but there's a lot of speculation going around that is stated as fact. However, I find that most of the "facts" that are going around are a long way from the facts, or at least they're highly speculative.
To begin with, it's obvious (be careful now, when someone says something is "obvious" or anything of the like, you can be fairly certain there's a mental manipulation coming up) it's "obvious" that the problem Miriam and the others were having is not about Moses' wife, but about his leadership. We have an obscure and dangling part of a verse regarding the wife, and a whole lot about rebellion and murmuring, which is and has been a trait of the Hebrews from the beginning. It's almost as if the mention of Moses' wife was tossed in so those reading this passage would miss the point of what is being said. At least it's clear preachers have a field day with what is supposed, and speak lightly about what is transpiring, if they bother to mention it at all.
Let's take a look at the common view that Moses was married to a black woman.
First I'll consider the possibilities that some accept, that is, that Moses had another wife other than what we read about, or that Zipporah died and Moses married again. When God called Moses, Zipporah was with Moses and we see that she was very upset when she had to circumcise her son (no, I didn't make a mistake. That's another old wives tale you've heard). We don't hear of another wife, nor of Zipporah dying, so that is a small likelihood, if any at all. But we do read of Moses' father-in-law vising him in the wilderness, which means to me that Zipporah was still around, though it appears she was not with him on his journey.
This being the case, if it is the case, then we now have to look and see if Zipporah is black.
We read that Reuel, Moses' father-in-law was a Midianite, a descendant of Abraham. That puts aside the possibility that he was an Ethiopian. Then if the father isn't an Etheopian, then why does the Bible say Moses' wife was an "Ethiopian"?
The word used for Ethiopian might better be translated "Cushite." But because of the popular concept that Cush was the father of the black people, that name is associated with Africa, and more specifically Ethiopia.
Let's look at what we have so far:
Zipporah was the daughter of Reuel, a priest of Midian. Midian is the lower area of Arabia, and extends into the lower part of the Sinai peninsula where Moses was keeping sheep when he saw the burning bush. The Midianite people were the descendants of Abraham through Keturah, a wife Abraham took to himself after the death of Sarah (she is called a "concubine" in the Bible). Keturah had 6 sons, who established tribes in the Arabian area. Keep this in mind as you read what's to follow.
Cush was the oldest son of Noah, who is said to have populated the Arabian area as well as parts of Africa. Nimrod was a descendant of Cush, and Nimrod founded Babylon, a very long distance from Ethiopia, making it highly probable that "Cush," translated "Ethiopia," was actually referring to Arabia, not Africa.
Canaan was another son of Ham. We know that the Canaanite nations were very much against the ways of God, and that God wanted the Jews to have no part of these people.
Isn't it possible then that Miriam, if she had anything against Moses' wife at all (which to me is doubtful for the reason forthcoming) was against the idea of Moses taking a wife from outside the Jewish nation?
We have a problem with this concept also in that Moses was raised an Egyptian, and we would have expected him to have married an Egyptian woman by the time he was forty, the age he left Egypt. Joseph married an Egyptian, obviously, because there were no Hebrews in Egypt at that time. Add to this the fact that there were no laws against intermarrying because it was through Moses that any such law was established. The Hebrews such as Rebecca was diligent in their effort to keep the blood line pure, but I don't find a "law" that says they must do so. Evidence of the lack of importance of pure blood line is in the fact that Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph's two sons, who head up two of the tribes if Israel, were "half breeds," their mother being Asenath, the daughter of an Egyptian (thereby idolatrous) priest. (Gen 41:50-52).
Even further evidence of this lack of demand for a pure blood line is that Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute, is in the ancestry of Jesus. The line was thinned substantially when we consider that Boaz was the son of Rahab, and Boaz married a Moabite woman (Ruth), a people condemned by God for having seduced the Hebrews through Balaam, the prophet (Mat 1:5; Ruth 4:18-21; Num 31:16; .25:1-9; Amos 2:1-3).
Also, if Miriam was so upset about Moses marrying an "Ethiopian," why didn't she speak up long before this?
Was Moses married to a black woman from
Ethiopia? How can I say one way or another? But if I were
to be asked, I would reply with a definite
13Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies. (SoS 6:)
Here we have another woman that is considered to be black, that is, Ethiopian, and this time for a very good reason. But you know argumentative old me, I disagree with the popular view established by the educated, supposedly spiritually-led theologians, even when I agree with them. Argument brings about truth. Agreement reinforces falsehood..
What is there about this story that makes it more likely that the Shulamite is Ethiopian? Is it that the word Shulamite means black, as they have translated Cushite as Ethiopian in the above story? No, not at all. In fact Shulamite is thought to be defined as: "Perfect peace, rest, restored" which would certainly fit with the interpretations of this story that it is about the love affair between God and the nation of Israel, or with the Church (depending upon which you are a part of).
There are about 4 interpretations of the Song of Solomon, which I'm not going to detail here. That you can get from just about any book on the subject (or look at the introduction to the story in your Bible).
No, the reason there can be little doubt but this woman is black is because of her own words to that effect. She says:
5I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 6Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. (SoS 1:)
And if we have any further doubts, we have this statement, using the very same word:
10My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. 11His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. (SoS 5:)
The question then could be raised, was she black because of her nationality? Here are some other verses where the word "black" was used, but not to represent a nationality. The words used here, except in Job, are different words than the Shulamite used, but I think the explanation will justify their inclusion:
9I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. 30My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat. 31My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep. (Job 30:)
9We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness. 10Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine. (Lam 5:)
18When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. 19Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? 20The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. 21For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. 22Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered? (Jer 8:)
Is God black? Is Job black? What we have here is an example of using the word "black" to illustrate a condition of the skin rather than an ethnic color.
The Shulamite has had to work in the sun, and the way she describes her efforts, her lowly position in society, is to describe herself as black.
I fudged here. Actually, as far as the color of skin goes, what I just said is fairly well accepted, that is, she is a laborer. But what kind of story would this be if I agreed with what has already been said? But I thought it would make a nice bridge between the preceding story and the next story.
I do disagree somewhat with the established views in that I don't see Solomon as representing God, that is God up in Heaven somewhere. Nor do I see the Shulamite as the nation Israel. Or as the Church only. Yes, she is the Church, and yes Solomon is the King-Shepherd. But I see Solomon to be Zion, where God resides (and will reside, through His people), and the Shulamite as the Mount of Olives, representing the Bride of Christ.
But I'll explain all that sometime in the future.
65And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. (Neh 7:)
6And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. 7And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. (Lev 16:)
6Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Rev 2:)
16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mat 16:)
46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Mat 25:)
21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. ....... 30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 25:)
1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (Mat 25:)
30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Mat 13:)
40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mat 13:)
47Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 13:)
29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 25:)
46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Mat 25:)
In nature we see a lot of grey. We see the grey of the skies. We see grey areas in our reasoning. But when it comes to God's judgement, I see nothing but black and white, yes or no, in or out.
It appears to me there's a lot of people trying for the gray zone of salvation, that "little shack in Glory." Are you one of those people? If you are, I'd give it a bit more consideration if I were you.
19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, (Deut 30:)
7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Gal 6:)