SORTING OUT CONFUSION
We were sent an article by a friend via email. The topic was the events in the Middle East and End Times.
With so many changes over the entire globe in what seems like a blink of an eye, should we be concerned for what might well be biblical truth unfolding before our very eyes?
AN ARTICLE ON THE INTERNET
We refer you to the original article HERE. (title: MAHDI TO RETURN BY 2016, FOLLOWED BY JESUS?)
The article includes a street view in Iran with an image of Jesus walking behind the Islamic Mahdi. This may be unsettling to Christians and perhaps even to many Jewish citizens inside and outside of Israel. What is the Mahdi and what impact does this figure have on the news coming tomorrow? The article says the Mahdi comes soon. How can we put this in context with the present events of today?
A VIDEO ON END TIMES
To bring the entire topic into context, the article refers to a video you can obtain on DVD. But in the age of the Internet the video is also on YouTube in sections (1 to 7). The first section is linked here, but you can visit YouTube to access all seven sections if you are interested.
The article noted above also contains a link to a web site promoting Islam. In taking a look there we see a comprehensive presentation on Islam. Interesting as a source, but what might a discerning mind discover there?
DIGGING DEEPER ON HOW SCRIPTURE IS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT
Many in congregations across the globe, those that make an effort to study the Bible, know that word play and taking Scripture verses out of context leads to misrepresntation. What is worse, few actually go back to the original Greek or Hebrew words to glean the original meaning that sometimes is muddled by translation to another language, including English.
When we went to a section of the web site on Islam that claimed that the Bible has references that reveal the true nature to Christianity, and thus the implication is a faith something less than the beliefs and tenants of Islam, we were curious to see if anything is out of context.
A real study of Scripture comes by reading what comes before and after a verse. That puts meaning in context. Taking a verse alone first risks being a pre-text that leads to prejudice, but worse, if word order is reversed or convoluted, the entire meaning can be shifted.
Let’s look at just one example the Islamic web page cites to apparently represent the true nature to Christianity (the bold and text format are copied from the original page):
6. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
Notice how the wording suggests you need to (actively “does”) hate your family in order to be a Christian! But move the word not to after the word hate (and remove the ‘does’ from ‘does not’) and the whole meaning shifts. Looking at the original Greek the wording comes like so:
“…And to him crowds many; and turning He said them, If anyone comes to Me and not hates the father of him and the mother, an wife, and the children, and the brothers, and the sisters, besides and even the of himself soul, not he is able of Me disciple to be …”
The word ‘does’ is not in the Greek.
Many English translations state: “If anyone comes to me and hates not his father …”
What is the real intent of the Scripture verse?
The problem is the Islamic web page wants you to believe Christianity is a religion of hate—even to the point of hating your own family in order to follow Jesus. But the entire context of the Gospel speaks to loving your neighbor, your enemy, even Muslims (!) and understanding that our lives are a time of sojourning on earth to something eternal. And Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, is the way, the truth, and essentially the only door to a relationship with the Father in heaven (John 14:6). Jesus also claims and demonstrates He is God (proof in that only He fulfills the Hebrew Bible’s prophecies, by performing miracles, by teaching in ways that are universally understood through parables, and yes, He came in a man-suit to walk amongst us, to be the ultimate mediator for sin and a way to salvation), which places Him above the status of being a prophet only (which is indeed one of his array of characteristics, but not sole role).
Let’s put the single verse back into context. The requires reading the broader text all around the one verse. We will defer to someone who has long commented on the biblical text to a wide radio audience … J. Vernon McGee comments on Luke 14:25-27 by saying: “These verses are simply saying that we should put God first. A believer’s devotedness to Jesus Christ should be such that, by comparison, it looks as if everything else is hated. All terms which define affections are comparative.” (see: “Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee,” 1983)
This point is further affirmed by a following verse 33: “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” And so it is not hate, but to dislike all by comparison to placing all behind us as we join in relationship with Messiah.
As John Lennox puts it: “They must be ready to “hate” -— that is, give second place to and, if need be, let go — all else …” (‘Against the Flow,’ page 150)
Examined in yet another way, as Lennox puts it: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to make up their own minds as to whether they were going to put God first.” (‘Against the Flow,’ page 147) And after putting God above all, even their own lives, they were thrown into a furnace. But unlike burning for martyrdom’s sake, faith brings life not death or a false promise of paradise. The God of Israel and Messiah are all about life, not hate, not death, or persecution … because life is an opportunity to choose Him. Anyone who removes that opportunity from you is not of God.
The real rub with missing the context and meaning of the biblical text is a misrepresentation. If you follow the links on this page you may well go on to study other Bible verses that at first appear to make one point, but upon further study tells us something more consistent with the message in the entire Bible. hatred of family is hardly the message of the text. In fact, the entire Hebrew and Greek body of Scripture are designed to point to Yeshua and His role as the Jewish Messiah. To disagree is to take something out of the context of the entire Bible! The entire text points to the God of Israel and what He will do through the nation Israel. Is that any surprise? Might that take us back to the article, video, and topic of the end time referenced above.
Please think. Discern before jumping to conclusions.