Jean Cauvin on Genesis

The following is an excerpt from Jean Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis – Chap. 15. I need to think about it later.

8.Lord God, whereby shall I know. It may appear absurd, first, that Abram, who before had placed confidence in the simple word of God, without moving any question concerning the promises given to him, should now dispute whether what he hears from the mouth of God be true or not.

Secondly, that he ascribes but little honor to God, not merely by murmuring against him, when he speaks, but by requiring some additional pledge to be given him.

Further, whence arises the knowledge which belongs to faith, but from the word?

Therefore Abram in vain desires to be assured of the future possession of the land, while he ceases to depend upon the word of God.

I answer, the Lord sometimes concedes to his children, that they may freely express any objection which comes into their mind. For he does not act so strictly with them, as not to suffer himself to be questioned.

Yea, the more certainly Abram was persuaded that God was true, and the more he was attached to His word, so much the more familiarly did he disburden his cares into God’s bosom.

To this may be added, that the protracted delay was no small obstacle to Abram’s faith. For after God had held him in suspense through a great part of his life, now when he was worn down with age, and had nothing before his eyes but death and the grave, God anew declares that he shall be lord of the land. He does not, however, reject, on account of its difficulty, what might have appeared to him incredible, but brings before God the anxiety by which he is inwardly oppressed.

And therefore his questioning with God is rather a proof of faith, than a sign of incredulity. The wicked, because their minds are entangled with various conflicting thoughts, do not in any way receive the promises, but the pious, who feel the impediments in their flesh, endeavor to remove them, lest they should obstruct the way to God’s word; and they seek a remedy for those evils of which they are conscious.

It is, nevertheless, to be observed, that there were some special impulses in the saints of old, which it would not now be lawful to draw into a precedent. For though Hezekiah and Gideon required certain miracles, this is not a reason why the same thing should be attempted by us in the present day; let it suffice us to seek for such confirmation only as the Lord himself according to his own pleasure, shall judge most eligible.

Francois Stuerhelf’s Portrait of Jean Calvin (1600)

I am interested in what Calvin says about God’s concession. This is important bec we are to “reason with God” in our prayers. It seems that sometimes prayer involves making a case before God. This seems to be the case often in the Scriptures as we see the Psalmist or Abraham or Amos or Isaiah, often doing this.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18

However if you think about it – what argument can we feeble humans produce before God that is surely a “winner”!?!

Zip.

However God is gracious and in spite of our bad arguments, He sometimes actually obliges. This may be because our very act of turning to God in prayer and with our minds is an act of faith that pleases Him.

“Wisdom is Associated With Action.”

“Wisdom is associated with action.” ~ K. Lawson Younger

~ I heard the above Prof say this somewhere years ago and I want to now process it.

My thoughts: Turn where you want in the Bible, especially the Wisdom literature (Psalms, Proverbs, Eccles. etc.) and you will find that wisdom is associated with action and laziness with inaction. 

Through laziness, the rafters sag;    because of idle hands, the house leaks. ~ Eccles. 10:18

    or 

The sluggard does not plow in the autumn;       he will seek at harvest and have nothing. ~ Proverbs 20:4

Wisdom is not associated with the remote control.  It is not associated with the gaming console. It is not associated with sleeping in or procrastinating or binging on this or that.  Wisdom from Genesis to Revelation – from the OT to the NT is associated with action.

There is nothing wrong with watching a good movie or the latest Giants game and or simply getting some much needed R&R. However if you are doing this 24×7, you are not wise. 

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

Wisdom is associated with action. 

~ Next Steps:

What are the actions that you need to take in life? Etc… What are your priorities… What do you need to get done THIS particular day? List it out. 

Etc.

Yitron is . . .

… is a word that that I have had on my mind quite a bit, of late. It is a word that is used about 6 times in the book of Ecclesiastes. It means something like “profit”, “benefit”, “advantage” or “gain”. Its like asking one self, “What do I gain by all this labor that I am involved in?” or “What have I really gained by doing all this work?” or “Of what value … ” etc. And we are not simply talking in terms of $$$.

~ I am still processing it a good bit. So in the mean whiles I made this . . .

Identity is Golden

I have done a bunch of writing on Identity. These have been born out of my own struggles with the issue. During these times, I have never really liked it when well-meaning people have said stuff to me like “You are a child of God.” or “Your identity is in Christ.”

Like I get all of that, but what do I do with that? I mean just who am I?

I think that I have hit upon something that helps me illustrate my issue here ~~~> gold.

Gold Bars – photo courtesy Wikipedia

A gold bar is beautiful. It is shines. It gleams. It sparkles. It is pure value. It is something to behold.

However a gold bar can just sit still in a dark vault in a bank and gather dust. It can just simply sit in a person’s safe and be forgotten through most of the day.

Yes. It has value. Yes. Its is lovely. Indeed, it is something to behold. Yet – it can also just sit quietly in a dark and cold room, doing nothing. Its identity is in being golden.

If you talk to the gold bar however, it would probably tell you that it does not simply want to be golden. It does not simply want to sit in a bank vault. No, rather it wants to take on shape. It was to be molded. It want to be something more than a yellow rectangular solid, though with a sparkle.

A gold bar want to be a necklace. It want to become a pair of ear-rings. It wants to be shaped into a vase perhaps. Or perhaps even some sort of implement like a fork or spoon or knife.

It wants to do more than just be a sitting beauty.

Other stuff I’ve written on this: Identity in Christ and a Possible Illustration – Tilapias!

Mucha Hullabaloo About Nearly Nothing (CB2L8R)

“But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” ~ Romans 5:20

~ There are sins and there are errors. We commit both. Yet both are not the same thing. Sins are generally intentional. Errors are not. Additionally, they are different in that former are generally against God whereas the latter – well, these just happen.

What is an error anyway?

If I am not mistaken, an error refers to such things as accidents, flubs, glubs, goofs, gaffs, gaffes, glitches, oversights, snafus, blunders, missteps and so on. It comprises of all kinds of stuff from jejune booboos to sophisticated solecisms.

So these errors… flubs, glubs, goofs… These are not deliberate. They just happen sometimes. Sin on the other hand, does not just happen. And futhermore, they are not against God or anyone or anybody. They are … they just are.

Yet the verse above tells us that where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. It does not talk about errors. If you go behind the scenes and look at the greek, you will notice something curious. The two words for abounded are not the same. The second word translated as abounded is much stronger than the first. So really a better translation would be “where sin abounded, grace superabounded.”

What the apostle is getting at is that there is no sin that grace cannot triumph over. If Original Sin was the first word, then grace had the last and decisive word. If Flo, Joe and Moe commit some dastardly sins, a dastardly number of times, then grace can take care of it all, all of the times. What sins have you committed? There is grace for that no matter how bad and how many. You need only repent and turn to God. However… I digress.

Sin is not what I want to discuss here. Err is. Snafus and the like are more the topic at hand right now. And so, my thought is of the following sort:

If grace abounds where sin is found, then then how much more can we say that grace will abound when error is found. Grace covers us, not just when we sin, but so also when we misjudge, miscalculate. It steps right in when we commit slip-ups, botchups, and screwups. It leaps to the fore when we stumble and tumble, fumble and bungle and of course it does not stay silent when we utter everything from shushed away faux pas to riotous/glaring howlers.

I mean if grace superabounds when sin is around, then surely grace super-superabounds when err is around.


The next time you make some kind of mistake, goof-up, screw-up, error etc., just pray and leave it in God’s hands. Then watch what happens. You will find that grace will abound. Its always proven true for me again and again and again. So keep faith and wait for grace.

Application:

~ And also – be patient when others make mistakes, errors and such. Remember how gracious God is. Don’t forget.

_ . ~ Strong Hearts ~ . _

~ The following is something scrappy that I tacked on to a mass email that I sent out to a bunch of friends. I think it comes from making one too many visits to the hospital, both for myself and others. 

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). 

The new heart that our Lord gives us is unlike anything else that we have.  Consider – This is a heart that . . . 

This is a heart that pumps out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…  

This is a heart that causes – not simply blood and oxygen to course up and down our arteries – but better yet, it causes all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise to course up and down our entire selves.  

This is a heart that causes faith, hope and love to circulate within our body and within the Body.  

This is a heart that pumps out both blood and water – blood to justify, water to sanctify. (HT: Puritan Thomas Watson)  

This is a heart that is forever new because it is given to us by the Spirit who makes all things new. Forever new. Forever young. 

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things” (1 Tim: 4:8). 

Though the rest of our body – our joints, muscles, bones, arms, legs – will eventually age and fail, this heart will never age nor fail. When we are physically at our oldest, this heart will be at its youngest. When we are at our weakest, it will be at its strongest. This heart that we have will keep running even after we have fallen asleep in the Lord. 

Ever see the movie Chariots of Fire, where the missionary Eric Liddell runs that one race so hard that at the end of it he just collapses and falls? Though the race is over and his body stopped, what is still running? His heart.  

This heart will keep running all also – all the way to Heaven.  

So tend to it now for it will tend to you tomorrow. Take care of it today and it will take care of all your tomorrows. 

 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Eudora Welty is interesting… Reading in Exile w/ Russell Moore

Eudora Welty

~ When the pandemic ends, I will have to look into this.  The thought provoker is at about [6:20] and concerns  a book on writing, On Writing by the American novelist and short story writer, Eudora Welty (1909-2001).

My notes for [6:20+ish] are down below… What is being said is interesting… but when the libraries open up, then I hope to check out the book to see exactly what is being said…  In the meantime…

 


 On Eudora Welty:
… I would recc … the section must the Novelist Crusade ... because she makes a really good point in there where she says:

That a plot is more unsettling than any argument and that immersion in a plot is more transformative than syllogisms competing.

RM: “That’s exactly right and that’s why the Bible is inspired that way as a plotline.”

Even when you get to the more syllogistic sounding more logical sounding expositions say in the letters of Paul those are all pointing you to the plotline and making arguments that show you how to fit into the plotline that God has, that God has revealed in Jesus Christ and that is Jesus Christ.

He is the plot line.

I found that there are a lot of people who have a sort of Stalinist view of art which is the idea that art ought to simply be a container for whatever the argument is that one wants to make which is why there are people who will say “Oh well I won’t read Wendell Berry because I disagree with his views on ______fill-in-the-blank______” or “Oh I really don’t want to read Faulkner because of the defective views that he had on race” or so forth

What she’s arguing here is that writing is not meant to make an argument so much as writing is to reveal feeling both good and bad.

A Surreal Pandemic

~ I just made this grim picture… Decided not to finish it.  Ehhh… I was going to comment elsewhere on a blog, but I could not get my thoughts together so… thought I would drop them there. So anyway…

Its so hard to believe that all this is really happening and has happened. The pandemic that is. When I watch the news, when I read about New York City on a blog, when I think about the fact that I am at church virtually, when I … when I …  it is all so strange.  A sense of the surreal permeates everything.  I guess I still have not come to terms with this.

Should I go throw out the garbage or not. If I go, then I better not forget to put on my gloves, because I have to open that bin and throw it in. And what if I run into someone as I walk there? I better remember to keep 6 feet distance… Its all so unreal. I am not sure how to absorb all this as yet.

Then there are those other thoughts.  Better ones.. Interesting ones

As I read about NYC or strangely enough even caught an episode of Seinfeld yesterday, I felt a longing of sorts. I grew up in Central NY (CNY). Much of NY state apart from NYC is very rural and its is gold. NY state is just beautiful. If anyone has ever heard the hymn, “This is my Father’s world” by Maltbie Babcock (1858-1901), then they have read a description of CNY. The song came to him while hiking around CNY. He was just so taken by the grandeur and beauty of all that he saw that he wrote the song.

~ What I am trying to say…

A little bit of the country and the city lives inside of us. We live our lives as Eden Interrupted and Old Jerusalem corrupted. The world is fallen. It is kaput kaput broken. The longings we have in this broken world really speak to another world. A better world… A world of rest and relief. The garden and the city will one day come together in Zion, the New Jerusalem.  

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is now with people, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

~ Revelation 21

Until then…

Don That Mask

~ If you have one . . .

Like everyone under the sun above the age of say 5, I have been pretty jolted by the pandemic.

I saw something on ABC World News with David Muir (he’s from my hometown – Syracuse, NY – so I have to watch him) that was a cause for concern. So I did the above pic. What I saw was this:

The vid is basically saying that wearing masks are important. Its not simply that masks will protect you, but it also is that you will not spread the virus.

The thing is that you might feel hale and healthy. You may feel totally fine, however, you may simply be asymptomatic, and be spreading the virus all around. Wearing a mask will prevent that.

There is one thing though . . .

Good luck finding a mask.

They are not easy to come by. Two pharmacies I consulted were sold out. I did eventually find some at another one at an outrageous price.

Up until then, I simply wrapped my head in a 100% wool scarf, nice and tight even in 70 (21 C) degree weather and carried on. Something was better than nothing. (Actually I suspect that my scarf was more protective than the mask I now have … but anyway having spent an outrageous sum . . .)

Ok… over and out… Spring has come – March 21th. However this is likely going to be the most difficult Spring ever for a lot of us. Its a season for prayer. That’s all I can say.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ~ Phil. 4:6

Anthony Trollope Quote

~ I made this because I need to be reminded of it. The idea is that doing this a little at a time can actually become quite significant over time. Too often we wait for inspiration to come and then start to do something.

There is however value in plodding along also. Little things do lead to a lot.

Stints in Egypt and Moab

Elias Van Nijmegen, Abimelech returns Sarah to Abraham (1731)

(1) In Genesis 12, God tells Abram to head out to Canaan. He does so. However when he gets there, he finds a famine in the land, and so heads off to Egypt.

10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. ~ Genesis 12:10

~ While in Egypt, Abram gets himself into a pickle with Pharaoh on account of his wife and has to leave.

(2) In Genesis 26, Isaac, Abraham’s son is considering leaving for Egypt on account of a famine in the land where he is at. However, he is told by God not to head out there.

“Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time … The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.” ~ Genesis 26:1-3

(3) In Genesis 46, Israel is en route to Egypt to go see his long lost son, Joseph, when God appears to him and basically tells him to continue on to Egypt and not be afraid to go there.

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. ~ Genesis 46:2-4

(4) In Ruth 1, we find that Elimelech and family head off to Moab from Bethlehem on account of a famine. Things do not go well for them there and eventually Naomi returns to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law, Ruth.

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion.  ~ Ruth 1:1-2

~ There are folks who say that the reason why Abram or perhaps Elimelech & family ran into the problems that they did was because they left the Promised Land. As such they fell out of God’s will.

I don’t think so. I think that the famine necessitated their decisions. Moreover were they not to go to Egypt or Moab or XYZ, then God likely would have told them not to. He stopped Isaac from heading out, so why would he not stop the others?

Theology & Philosophy of Frankenstein

~ I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley some whiles back and really liked it a lot. There seem to be a number of themes running through it, like Deism, the dangers of Science, and so on. I am trying to do some additional reading on the book, so I have collected some links to the some articles on said book. They are listed down below. In addition, I have also tried to design a book cover for said work and have posted it here.

Links:

1) The Theology of Frankenstein: Deism vs. Biblical Theism by Dr. James S. Gidley at Ordained Servant Online (OPC)

2) The Soul of Frankenstein by Dr. James S. Gidley at Ordained Servant (OPC)

3) The Education of a Monster by Dr. James S. Gidley at Ordained Servant (OPC)

4) Frankenstein at 200 and Our Creations: A Cautionary Tale: A Review Article by Gregory E. Reynolds at Ordained Servant (OPC)

4) Frankenstein @ Triablogue

5) Frankenstein and Blade Runner @ Triablogue

 

Quick Note ~ from Leon Morris’ Romans Commentary

~ The following is note that I am excerpting from a commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, that I reading and it regards the following verse:

“To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints…” ~ Romans 1:7a

“We should not overlook the plural. We sometimes speak of an individual man or woman as ‘saint’ or refer to ‘St. Peter’, ‘St. Mary’, or the like. This is not a New Testament usage. The word is never used there of any individual believer. It is always plural when used of believers, and the plural points to believers as a group, a community set apart for God. Again, the term does not convey the idea of outstanding ethical achievement which we usually understand by ‘saintliness’. While the importance of right living is insisted on and may even be implied with this very term, the main thrust is not there. It is rather in the notion of belonging to God.

~ I found it interesting that the word “saint” in the singular is not found in the Bible. So I did a bunch of searches on online bibles at BibleGateway and yes, Morris’ is exactly right. The word is not there. Only ‘saints’ in the plural is found in the Bible.

~ Additionally, I found it interesting that what seems to be the primary meaning of the term saint is that of a person who belongs to God. Its nto so much about having reached the Nth level of holiness and such.

 

Faith – Perfective & Continuous

~ I think that having faith is one of those either you have it or you don’t issues. Yet sometimes it just simply needs to be maintained continuously. Other times its enough to have it for a moment and thats that. It depends on the situation. Its kind of like the continuous and perfective sense in grammar.

Der betende Moses mit Aaron und Hur auf dem Berge Horeb by Joseph von Führich (1832)

Continuous:

So for example, so long as Moses’ hands were supported by Aaron and Hur, the Israelites were winning the battle. But then if his hands ever went down, then they would lose… sink.

Or take for example, Peter walking on the water. So long as he keeps his eyes on Jesus and exercises faith, he is able to walk. However when he sees the winds howling, he gets scared and takes his eyes off of Jesus. At this point, he starts to sink.

Perfective:

On the flip side, there is faith that comes to us in a perfective sense. Here some X takes place just once, but the effects continue on through time – you’ll see what I mean.

Lets go back to Moses. For the Red Sea to part, Moses likely only had to raise his hand/staff once and it parted. He did not need to keep his hand up all night as he had to go down and walk through it with the Israelites.

When you realize that you are a sinner cut off from God, and then repent of your sins and turn to Christ Jesus, accepting Him as your Lord and Savior (i.e. exercise faith in Him), then you are saved forever. This is a one time act in your life. You do not need to go through this every morning again and again.

Another example, John 4:46-53,

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. 

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 

“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 

While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him,

“Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

Perfect!

New-ness in the Bible

~ I have not been able to keep on top of this blog due to a busy work schedule. However here is something that I want to note really quickly. The Bible often speaks of new things. Here is a list of verses that speak of something new.

New Song:
I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you…” (Psalm 144:9).

New Heavens and a New Earth:
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Is.65:17).

New Covenant:
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah…” (Jeremiah 31:31).

New Mercies:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;great is your faithfulness”
(Lamentations 3:22-23).

New Heart and Spirit:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;” ~ Ezekiel 36:26

New Wine & Oil:
“The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil” (Joel 2:24).

New Wine and New Wineskins i.e. New Ministry:
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Matthew 2:22)

New Command:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

New Life:
“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life” (Acts 5:20).

New Way of the Spirit:
“…we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6).

New Creation:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

New Humanity:
“His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace…” (Eph 2:15).

New Self:
“…put on the new self…” (Eph 4:24).

New Order:
“They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order” (Hebrews 9:10).

New Birth:
“…given us new birth into a living hope…” (1 Peter 1:3).

New Name:
“I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).

New Jerusalem:
“…the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God” (Revelation 3:12).

All things:
“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5a).

And if I were to put these in any kind of order of how things proceed or happen, it would be this.

New Birth
New Heart and Spirit
New Name
New Life
New Self
New Creation
New Humanity
New Mercies

New Command
New Covenant
New Order
New Wine & Oil
New Wine and New Wineskins i.e. New Ministry
New Way of the Spirit

New Song
New Heavens and a New Earth
New Jerusalem
New – All things

Cain & Hebel

~ The book of Ecclesiastes begins with the following:

On the Vanity of Existence by Arthur Schopenhauer

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

or alternatively:

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

~ There Hebrew word translated as meaningless or vanity in the verse up above is the word, hebel (הֶבֶל). Quite literally it means something like breath or vapor (although not in the sense of respiration). However in terms of the way that it is used in Ecclesiastes, it means everything from breath-like to absurd to futility to emptiness to transience to… you get the point.

Here is verse 2 again, only in Hebrew, and you will see the word hebel (הֶבֶל in red) littered all over it.

הֲבֵ֤ל הֲבָלִים֙ אָמַ֣ר קֹהֶ֔לֶת הֲבֵ֥ל הֲבָלִ֖ים הַכֹּ֥ל הָֽבֶל׃*

*Note: Hebel = H-B-L or H(הֲ)-B(בֵ֤)-L(ל) and since Hebrew is read right to left we reverse the letters to get L(ל)-B(בֵ֤)-H(הֲ).

I.e. So we have:

H(הֲ)-B(בֵ֤)-L(ל) ==> L(ל)-B(בֵ֤)-H(הֲ).

~ Don’t worry if you do not know Hebrew, as this is not quite the major point.

The point that I am driving at here is that…  Well, there is something interesting about the word hebel. Hebel also happens to be the name of someone in the Bible. Who? It is the name of Abel, whose story is found in the book of Genesis.  Lets go there quickly…

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel.

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
~ Genesis 4:1, 2, 8, 9

Cain and Abel by Titian (1542-1544)

Its quite interesting, that Abel’s name is really Hebel. It quite an odd name to have, no? I daresay it is even ominous to have such a name. What if Ecclesiastes 1:2 used his name instead? It would perhaps be something like what is here below.

Now often enough in the Old Testament, a person’s name often was indicative of something significant about their character or even their life. For example, Jacob means deceiver and he certainly lived up to his name. Alternatively, there is also Jabez, whose name means pain or sorrow. It seems that he did live a difficult life.

Now given that Abel’s name really is Hebel, one must ask if there is anything going on here. Why is Abel, Hebel? I mean, he was a righteous and godly man. So what is going on with his name?  Here is a thought or two?

1) Abel’s life was vapor. It was but a momentary breath. He did not live long. We don’t know his age, but it seems that he died young.

2) In terms of external appearances, his life was meaningless, senseless, absurd. It was Hebel. Why? This is because he was a good person who did all the right things and yet was murdered. His is a story of a bad thing happening to a good person. It does not make sense. That is not all however. Abel/Hebel was murdered not just by anyone, but by his own brother.  Someone who is supposed to love, protect and nurture him, instead deceives, betrays and murders him. This is absurd. This was the first murder in human history. An innocent man’s life is taken. It is rendered meaningless in an instant.

The above two, I submit are a couple of reasons why Abel is so named Hebel. I am sure there are more.

I think that Ecclesiastes is deliberate it in its use of Hebel. This is so because the book is trying to show that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, human nature changed. It became sinful. There is something wrong with all of us. I think that what Ecclesiastes is trying to show is that the dark themes running through human history are themes that have been there from the get-go. No sooner than Adam and Eve fall, than do we see their own son, Cain committing murder.

Adam and Eve fall. Human nature changes for the worse. However it is not as if, it takes hundreds of years before we start to see the evil deeds of human nature. No, rather we see it in one generation. We see it right away.

*Note: I am working off of the Westminster Leningrad Codex.

Quick Note on Tim Keller On Vocation

~ I am jotting a quick note from Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor. This is from page 189-190.

Isaiah 28:24–29 says, ‘When a farmer plows for planting … when he has leveled the surface … does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way… Grain must be ground to make bread … all this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnnificent in wisdom.’

This is remarkable. Isaiah tells us that anyone who becomes a skillful farmer, or who brings advancements in agriculture, is being taught by God. One commentator writes of this text, ‘What appears as a discovery (the proper season and conditions for sowing, farm management, rotation of crops, etc.) is actually the Creator opening His book of creation and revealing His truth.’

Remember that farming is an analogue to all culture making. So every advancement in learning, every work of art, every innovation in healthcare or technology or management or governance, is simply God ‘opening His book of creation and revealing His truth’ to us.”

Vocation

Proverbs 16 ~ Notes in Passing.

Some quick notes on the side:

Proverbs 16:9 says,
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

and a slight bit earlier, Proverbs 16:1 says,
“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord..”

~ What 16:9 is saying is that we should go ahead and make plans. However the final fall out will be of God.

~ And 16:1 seems to be saying something similar. We should go ahead and plan what we will say, but the final fall out of words will be from God.

So go ahead and prepare for a job interview or speech or an uncomfortable phone call with someone. Then pray about what you are going to say and then leave it at that.

Arthur Schopenhauer or Buying Too Many E-Books

~ I have a bad habit of buying too many ebooks and never getting around to reading them. Its hard to resist when Amazon puts kindle books out on sale for $0.99 – $3.00. And its also hard to resist d/l’ng free epubs for my Nook.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Not too long ago, I was in a hunt for free epubs and found this by an old chum of mine: The Art of Literature, by Arthur Schopenhauer.  Having never before seen this I picked it up.

Schopenhauer is a famous philosopher, known for writing tomes such as The World as Will and Representation, but –  but, I don’t actually read any of his Philosophy because I find it to be too abstruse.

However I read his non-philosophical stuff because whether intended or not, I find it to be hil –

– arious.

Case in Point: The Pessimist’s Handbook, a collection of essays describing and justifying Pessimism.

Anyway, all that said and aside, I want to excerpt something from the above, because I think its a lesson for me on exercising moderation with my ebook acquisitions. Were Herr Schopenhauer alive today, I think he would have modified this excerpt to fit our contemporary situation with ebooks.

Anyway, here it is:

“A library may be very large; but if it is in disorder, it is not so useful as one that is small but well arranged.

In the same way, a man may have a great mass of knowledge, but if he has not worked it up by thinking it over for himself, it has much less value than a far smaller amount which he has thoroughly pondered.

For it is only when a man looks at his knowledge from all sides, and combines the things he knows by comparing truth with truth, that he obtains a complete hold over it and gets it into his power. A man cannot turn over anything in his mind unless he knows it; he should, therefore, learn something; but it is only when he has turned it over that he can be said to know it.”*

~ This day and age, it is so easy to get books for free, especially if they are from yestercentury. I just d/l’d some Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and … can’t remember … earlier.

But its far better to read less and know it well, than to read tons and not only not know it well, but know it incorrectly.

*Note: On the side, I want to note that there seems to be something oddball about what old Schopenhauer is saying. He seems to be saying that in order to think something through, you first need to know it. Then he goes on to say that you cannot be said to know anything unless you first think it through???

Huh? There seems to be some kind of chicken and the egg – which came first – type of thing going on here… Ehhh.. whatever…

Ja … Yes , , ,   Whatever . . .

Fibonacci Elephant i.e. Golden Ratio Elephant

Golden Ratio Elephant ~ RGB Rao

~ I noticed online that a bunch of artists were doing art of various sorts and saying that it was related to something called the Golden Ratio. So I got curious and did some reading on it.

And …

And it turns out that the Golden Ratio is something that artists from Leonardo Da Vinci to Juan Gris to Who-Knows-Who, have at times experimented with in their art.

So what is the Golden Ratio?  The Golden Ratio is a number, namely, 1.61803398875 . . . It turns up in a certain mathematical sequence called the Fibonacci Sequence, which is:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, … and a drawing that often goes with this is:

                                                                  Golden Rectangles

(Basically, if you pick any two sequential numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence and divide the larger by the smaller you will start to get the Golden Ratio. I.e. 3/2 = 1.5,  5/3 = 1.666…, 8/5 = 1.6, 13/8 = 1.625, etc. )

And . . . anyway as I was looking at the “Golden Rectangles” drawing and looking at the types of stuff other artists have done with it (snails, turtles, birds, etc), it occurred to me that there was a big gigantic elephant sitting right in it! Soooo? So, I just had to draw the elephant and voila! There it is!

Snail

O Earth! ~ Job 16:18-19

~ I read this verse this morning and just loved it. So I made this.

~ The photograph, I got from Pixabay. I don’t know how to take photos like that. The rest of the modifications, the text, the arcs, the colors, etc., I did.

Family of Cheetahs Running in the Serengeti

~ Just some scribble on the side. I have this fascination with sort of, kind of catching the essence of something or someone and I want to do this in an abstract, minimalist fashion, using the least number of lines possible. So here is a drawing of the fastest land animal in the world, (0-60 in 3 seconds) – cheetahs.

Family of Cheetahs Running in the Serengeti

Odorata! Consider the Lilies! ~ Matthew 6:28

~ Whew! Well, I finally got it done. (I hope.) For a long whiles I have been working on drawing a Lady-Considering-Some-Lilies and have been stuck, but now… whew! J’ai fini! I got this done by abandoning my project of drawing lilies like so and similarly so below:

Turk’s-cap Lily aka Lilium Superbum

Lilium Candidum – the Madonna Lily

 

 

 

 

 

 

And moving on to water lilies (Nympheaea Odorata).

The problem was that I never could find just the right photos taken at just the right angles. So I decided to wait until Spring until the lilies were a blooming. Then I would see them with my own eyes and draw them.

Oooh! initial sketch

And Spring has come but the lilies have not yet appeared – at least not where I live.  And in the meanwhiles, my attempts to draw these have been somewhere between an “Ehhh” and a “Bleah!” So, I will have to keep on trying. Some other day, some other time, I just might be able to pull out an “Oooh!” and an “Aaah!” along with a “Wow!” and “Voila!” Anyway…

Cutting it Short:
Soeeee… Just a few days ago, I happened to stumble upon water lilies (N. Odorata) and was like “Perfect! This will do.” They are not actual lilies as in genus Lilium and neither are as beautiful as the superbums or the candidums up above, but whatevvs … The Odorata is good enough for me. And I love the sound of that word, Odorata. Very cool.

Anyway… dum de dum dum.  And so. Here it is…Nothing special. Nothing fantastico as I am not a professional artist.

All that said and aside – a word as to where this came from.

A long time ago, the poet Emily Dickinson wrote something somewhat droll in a letter. Viz.,

“The only Commandment I ever obeyed — ‘Consider the Lilies.”

I thought that that was really cool. Just so Emily. This comment just got into my head because I like lilies a lot. As such, I did some reading and thinking. Dickinson got said command from a certain verse in the Bible, viz., Matthew 6:25-28, which is,

_ . ~ Emily Dickinson ~ . _

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? … Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…”

And I don’t quite know how I want to say what I want to say so I guess I will just say it.

Sometimes in life, we may find ourselves in the icks, the acks, the ughs, the yuks, the murks, the dumps, the groans and so on. We just get caught up in some funk and our thinking gets stuck in a cul de sac. The same old thing over and over again.

It is at times like these that we just need to get out and go find some lilies and take a deep wiff. I have found that this actually helps. And I mean that even quite literally so. Just get out and find you some lilies and then you look at them, examine them, appreciate them, consider them, Yea – Behold them. And of course get your wiff.  Take in a deep deep breath. Get some redolence in you. This is just the right antidote for the funks.

Now…

Will it solve all your issues with the icks, acks, and ughs? No, not entirely. However, it will give you some distance and distance is perspective. Perspective helps.

Ok. I’ll close out with this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable
– – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”
(Philippians 4:8).

Find your lilies.

Happiness & Unhappiness

~ I have not blogged in ages because I have been stuck on some artwork. I have been trying to draw certain kinds of lilies and have not been able to find satisfying references, so I thought I would wait until Spring is out, and then go a looking for lilies and if I find them, then examine live one from every angle possible.

In the meanwhile here is something in passing:

Unhappiness

~ Basically the thought is something of the following sort: Historically philosophers from Augustine to Aristotle to Berkeley to … to WhoKnowsWho have stated that happiness is a byproduct. This means that you do not pursue happiness per se, instead you pursue other things and happiness results. This of course assumes you are pursuing the right things.

~ That said, of late I have been wondering if unhappiness is also a byproduct. Is it the result of pursuing things that are not so good? I think that it is and is not.

It is a byproduct in the sense that you can pursue things that are not good for you (e.g. a bad relationship) and the end result is that you are unhappy.

It is not in the sense that you can pursue unhappiness proper. How so? Well, you can be unhappy just simply by sitting down, twiddling your thumbs and doing nothing. Pursue nothing and you will be unhappy.

Hmmm… Something tells me that I need to keep thinking. Anyway…

~ My two cents worth – I have found the following to be quite helpful:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” ~ Matthew 6:33

Summa: If you pursue unhappiness, you will be unhappy. If you pursue nothing and you will be also be unhappy. Soeeee? Pursue something.

Tenebrism, Tenebrae & Frankenstein

~ I am reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and must say that if there is such a thing as Literary Tenebrism, then this is it.

So I put some stuff together and came up w/ this.

Of the painters up above, Caravaggio is known for being the Tenebrist par excellence. Tenebrism is a form of painting that involves what can best be described as a lightening of the lights (and all colors) and a darkening of the darks. It is what you get (almost) when you have just candlelight. It is also very much so what happens in a church sanctuary when Tenebrae is observed.

Shelley’s writing is like that. She really highlights a lot of things within a scene and really gets involved in details giving them much color and yet – yet the whole story is set against a really dark background.

I will probably come back and post some excerpts here but the book is available for free online at Adelaide University.

Also here is an article I found online: The Theology of Frankenstein: Deism vs. Biblical Theism

Also will say – Mary Shelley is a must read. Don’t watch any Frankenstein movies unless you have read her first