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Friday, February 28, 2020

Leap year and the Bible

The Sun Stands Still for Israel; the Magi Follow a Star to Jesus; the Lord Controls the Heavens, and He will finally destroy this world.


When we note that February this year has 29 days instead of 28 days, we realize that this was because 2020 is a leap year. Every four years are leap years to offsets the difference between the length of the solar year (365.2422 days) and the calendar year of 365 days.

There are many times Scripture speaks of stars falling from the sky, etc., but these are clearly figurative or symbolic ways of God speaking of the demise of a ruler or a nation – in other words, the end of their world at that time in history!!

God’s judgment on Babylon:

The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. Isaiah 13:10

Destruction of Jerusalem, AD 70:

“If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ Mark 13:20-25


This was not intended to happen literally, for obviously no stars actually fell from the sky at the destruction of Jerusalem. The language chosen was intended to convey the terrible end of Jerusalem.

Jesus judges Roman persecutors of the latter part of the first century AD:

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?" Revelation 6:12-17

Again symbolic. No stars fell. The moon didn’t become blood. Mountains were not moved. In the symbol – yes, but not in reality. Jesus was avenging the Roman persecution of His precious redeemed saints, and

this avenging demanded language  be used that fitted the occasion.

God can raise up nations and bring down nations, Jeremiah 18:1-10, and He has demonstrated this

time and time again in history. He has predicted it in Scripture using highly exaggerated images. In many cases, as with the above three examples, God predicts what He is about to do – and even gives a time frame, Habakkuk 2:1-3 - using apocalyptic, symbolic language and even dreams and visions to get our attention in a striking way, Daniel 2:29-48. A nation’s end is being predicted to be near.

But on the other hand, in Joshua we read this: “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since…” Joshua 10:13-14

This is a day in history when the sun—and time— actually stopped. This is not symbolic language. This was reality. The Israelites were fighting the Amorites in Canaan. During the battle, Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stop, so he would have extra daylight to finish the task. Scripture records that this prayer was answered: The sun “delayed going down about a full day” (verse 13). The very objects in the sky that the Amorites worshipped fought against them!

Several modern interpretations of the story have been suggested:

Some say there was no actual miracle, but only the use of poetic language. The Israelites had fought so hard that it just seemed like two days of work in a row!

Others propose that a cloud shaded the sun, keeping the day cool enough for the fighting to continue all through the afternoon. However, this relief from the heat would have benefited the enemy as much as Israel.

Similarly, a solar eclipse has been suggested as causing reduced sunlight. But eclipses of the sun last for only a few minutes, not a whole day.

All of these explanations fall far short of the statement that there has never been another day like the one described (Joshua 10:14, cf. Habbakuk 3:11 - “…Sun and moon stood still in the heavens…”).

What really happened on that special day? As with all miracles, it is futile to speculate with scientific theories. The details are unclear, but we know that God could have refracted the light, or slowed the Earth’s rotation, or stopped the entire universe—all with equal ease!

Time stopped for Joshua, and it ran backwards for Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:9-11).

God used this event as a special sign to show Hezekiah that he would regain his health. The sun’s

shadow moved backwards by ten steps, probably five to six hours on the sundial. That is, the sun

appeared to move eastward instead of westward. The conclusion is again the same, that such a miracle is beyond scientific explanation. God may have temporarily reversed the Earth’s rotation, including all its inhabitants, or the miracle in Hezekiah’s day could have been local instead of worldwide. The latter view is supported by 2 Chronicles 32:31, which describes envoys who traveled to the land where the miracle occurred.

Joshua and Hezekiah both made lofty requests of the Lord, that the very heavens might be altered. And God answered their prayers. The sun, moon, and stars obey the Creator who placed them in the sky by the power of his word. – Source:, edited.

Such events might seem dubious until we realize that it is the Lord who created the universe, and it is the Lord who will end it. Clearly God can do whatever He wants with His own universe!


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3


Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Hebrews 1:1-4


“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have

no end.” Hebrews 1:10-12

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from

the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw

his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was

troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:1-12


Such events as the visit of the wise men actually happened as historical events, and under God’s direction. But they were local phenomena - not universal.


A day is coming, however, when God brings our world – all of it – to an end in His day of judgment.


See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Hebrews 12:25-27.  


Bro. Neil R. Lightfoot said of the words: “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens,”

The author of Hebrews … sees in these words a grander meaning [than that of the Old Testament], fully convinced that they point to the dissolution of the cosmic order at the Second Advent. When the law was given, the earth quaked; when Christ comes again, heaven and earth will be completely shaken. – Jesus Christ Today, A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, Baker Book House, 1976, p.241.


The apostle Peter also speaks of the same shaking as he warns of the final end of our world:


This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness

and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens

will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his

promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:1-13


God spoke symbolically of the heavens disintegrating when he predicted the falling of nations in history. God speaks literally when He predicts the heavens disintegrating at the return of Christ at the

end of the world. The saved will dwell forever in God’s home. The unsaved will be destroyed in hell.


Are you prepared for the day of judgment, and eagerly anticipating the eternal kingdom won for us by the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?


At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:26-29


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sabbath or First Day of the Week?


When God had finished His creation in six days, He rested on the seventh day, Genesis 1:1-2:3, and this became the basis for Jewish Sabbath observance after six days of work. Exodus 20:8-11


In dying and being raised alive on the third day, Jesus had died on the day of preparation for the Passover – just before Sabbath began, Luke 23:54, and was in fact raised on the first day of the week – the day after the Sabbath. Luke 24:1-7. He had “finished” His work, John 19:28-30, and “rested” in death on the Sabbath, awaiting the resurrection on the first day of the week – clearly a momentous event and a day to be remembered!


Through this death and resurrection, the New Creation would begin, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, and those of the New Creation – Christians – would remember the death of their Saviour every first day of the week. Matthew 26:26-28; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-29; 16:1-2. Christians find their rest in Jesus who fulfils the Sabbath, Matthew 11:28-12:8, which will be ultimately consummated in heaven. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1; Hebrews 3:1-4:11; 11:13-16; 12:22-28; Revelation 14:12-13.


Having found fulfilment, Sabbath observance for Israel, in memory of God’s resting on the seventh day after creation, was superseded by first day of the week observance for believers in Christ from all nations, in memory of Jesus’ death for sins - an accomplishment ratified when God raised Jesus from the dead on the first day of the week. Acts 2:22-36; Romans 1:1-6; 4:25


The shadows and types of the Old Covenant were fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ, as we now serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the law. Romans 7:4-6; Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1-23.


The Sabbath was for Israel. The first day of the week for Christians. And see here how important it is:


These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. 13 But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. 15 And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. Acts 20:5-16


What stands out in this pericope are the days mentioned for the travelling and that they were hurrying to be at Jerusalem for Pentecost. Why spend seven days at Troas if time is a factor? Obviously so that they would observe the Lord’s Supper with their brethren on the first day of the week!! The Sabbath

doesn’t get a mention, but breaking bread on the first day of the week is more than a common meal!!

It’s the day we Christians remember the death of our Saviour, and we wouldn’t miss it for quids!


David Carr

University of Southern Mississippi

The Benefactor

Oseola McCarty was born on March 7, 1908 in Wayne County, Mississippi. She
moved to Hattiesburg, MS as a child. She had to quit school in the sixth
grade to care for her ailing aunt. McCarty never married and never had
children. She supported herself by working as a washerwoman, the same trade
of her grandmother. She worked as a washerwoman until her arthritis forced
her to quit in 1994, at the age of 86.

Yet McCarty became the most famous benefactor of the University of Southern

It wasn't that she made a lot of money at her occupation; her occupation was
rather low-paying. But she was very frugal and saved a lot of her income
throughout her life. She never owned a car and therefore walked wherever
she went. She would push a shopping cart nearly a mile to get groceries.
She didn't subscribe to a newspaper because she viewed it an extravagant
expense. The house in which she lived was a gift from her uncle.

It was announced in July 1995 that she had established a trust through which
at her death, a portion of her life's savings would be left to the
university to provide scholarships for deserving students in need of
financial assistance. The amount was estimated at $150,000. According to
an entry in Wikipedia, "With the assistance of a local attorney, for whom
she had done laundry, and [her] bank's trust officer, using slips of paper
and dimes, to represent 10% shares, McCarty set out the future distribution
of her estate. She set aside one dime (10%) for her church, one dime (10%)
each for three relatives, and the remaining dimes (60%) for Southern Miss.
She wanted others to have the opportunity for the education she never

McCarty received scores of awards and other honors recognizing her selfless
spirit including a Presidential Citizens Medal presented to her by President
Bill Clinton during a special White House Ceremony.

McCarty died from liver cancer in 1999 at the age of 91. She will be fondly
remembered for her selflessness which will continue to enable others to be
blessed with a college education.

Her generosity points to the selflessness of the Greatest Benefactor: "For
you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet
for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become
rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Because of God's love and our desperate need for salvation from sin, Jesus
left the glories and splendor of heaven to come to this earth to live as a
man and then to go to the cross to die for the sins of this world. Read
Philippians 2:5-11, a passage that beautifully describes what He gave up in
order to save us. He became "poor" so that we could be "rich" - rich with
all of the spiritual blessings that are found in Him, blessings such as
forgiveness from sin, peace that surpasses all understanding, and the hope
of eternal life in a beautiful place called Heaven.

God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust
in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts
17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized
(immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will
continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His
Word (1 John 1:7-9).

Jesus became "poor" and suffered and died so that YOU could become "rich"
with spiritual, eternal blessings. He's the Great Benefactor and you can be
the recipient of His blessings if you will only accept them on His terms.

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Oseola McCarty" entry on

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