Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - March 21, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 19:16-30

Numbers 11-12

Ecclesiastes 8

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Today I will focus on the reading from Numbers 11-12. These chapters give the Torah (Law of God) roots on Speaking in Tongues. Now, at first this may seem a bit shocking. What? Speaking in tongues didn't happen until after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts! Right? Wrong...  It happened to the 70 Elders of Israel and to Eldad and Medad - and the story is recorded in Numbers 11. Let's take a look, as in this perspective we will gain safety, insight, and understanding into what it means to speak in tongues.

 “…Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine...” Ephesians 4:14

What does it mean to "speak in tongues"? 

Speaking in Tongues is commonly believed to involve uttering nonsensical gibberish as a form of prayer and worship of God. It is a very emotional experience between the worshipper and God. To many Christians, this is how speaking in tongues is supposed to be, as experienced by Bill Siordia of Pleasanton, California:

On a wave of emotion, the man at the front of the church broke into a language only he and his God could understand. Bill Siordia, a worshiper at The Pentecostals of Pleasanton, a small congregation in the San Francisco Bay Area…
Siordia, 44, a warehouse worker, was speaking in tongues, a form of verbal prayer scholars call glossolalia. For him—and a growing numbers of Christians worldwide—the experience is a direct means of communication with God that is a transcendent and crucial part of his faith.
"It is kind of a high," Siordia said later, describing the most common form of speaking in tongues as an indecipherable expression of personal prayer and praise. "It is like being with the Lord. I feel that sense that everything is OK."
This Sunday, Christians will celebrate Pentecost, when the Bible says God sent a "mighty wind" among Jesus' disciples and they prayed in unknown languages. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit," the Book of Acts says, "and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
"Over the last half century we have witnessed the incredible growth of the Pentecostal movement. Pentecostalism has even challenged the hold of the catholic church in South America, where there are 17 million Pentecostal members in brazil alone. It has been
estimated that in the United States alone, 200,000-300,000 Catholics have become "Pentecostal" or "Charismatic"(A NEW GUIDE AND ALMANAC RELIGIONS OF AMERICA, By Leo Rosten 1975 ).

The hallmark of the Pentecostal movement is its belief in miracles specifically speaking in "tongues". Most Pentecostals believe that in order to be a "true Christian one must be able to speak in the Spirit", in other words those religious denominations which cannot (or don’t) speak in tongues are not from a Holy Spirit.

What is sometimes called classical Pentecostalism grew out of the late 19th century holiness movement in the United States. The holiness preacher Charles Fox Parham began preaching (1901) to his Topeka congregation that speaking in tongues was objective evidence of baptism in the Spirit. 

After the Los Angeles mission of Parham's apostolic faith sect became the center of a great revival (1906) the movement quickly spread around the world. Over the next two decades the movement split along doctrinal and racial lines. Of the many Pentecostalist denominations in the United States today, characterized by belief in the experience of holiness or Christian perfection. This perfection is climaxed by an "infilling of the Holy Spirit," as evidenced by "speaking in tongues," ecstatic utterances frequently unintelligible to listeners.

But just because an idea or teaching is popular doesn't make it true. In actuality every principle of God has been counterfeited by the enemy. And speaking in tongues is no exception. 

Speaking in tongues, in the way it is done in a "Pentecostal style" is actually the counterfeit, as I will Scripturally show in this blog. 

In Scripture, we are given one way to test whether an idea or doctrine is true or not. This is to test the teaching or idea against the principles found in the Old Testament - specificially in the Torah (which is the Law of God, recorded in the first five books of the Bible.)
Isaiah 8:20   "To the Law (Torah) and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them." 
When the Bereans searched the Scriptures to see whether Paul's teachings were correct, the only Scriptures which then existed were the Old Testament writings. They found the teachings of Paul were verified in the Law and the Old Testament testimony. Had this been otherwise, Paul would have been considered an apostate, not an apostle!  

Time has not dimmed the value of this test of truth. When a doctrinal belief is being Scripturally supported from a New Testament writer, you need to stop and ask, "Where is that teaching found in the Torah"? When you find that teaching in the Torah, you will have the right "glasses" to put on in order to get an accurate perspective on the New Testament ideas. Whenever a New Testament idea is shared that cannot be found in Old Testament, you can be certain (Isaiah 8:20) that this idea isn't what the New Testament writer was trying to convey. It is a twisting of the Truth. But, you will always be safe from false doctrine and misinterpretation of Scripture by using the Isaiah 8:20 test. Simply ask:

"Where is that teaching found in the Torah?"

Then, use the Torah teaching to help you correctly interpret the New Testament principle. In so doing, you will always walk in the Light of Truth! Praise God for a safe and reliable way to discern and test true doctrine!

So, regarding the subject of speaking in tongues, which most believe only appears in the New Testament, one must ask "Where is speaking in tongues found in the Torah?" And the answer is that it is found in Numbers Chapter 11. But, notably, the account from Numbers 11 is dramatically different than the modern idea of what speaking in tongues should look like. It is because we know to interpret the New Testament principle of speaking in tongues by finding it in the Torah, that we can discern "Pentecostal-style" speaking in tongues is a counterfeit. But there is more...

Did you know that the angels have a tongue (1 Corinthians 13:1)? Tongue means language. Angels have a language! Demons, being fallen angels, are no exception. As we have experienced over and over in our ministry, the counterfeit of speaking in tongues is actually uttering curses over Christian congregations in demonic tongues. But, now I'm getting ahead of my story.

Genesis 10:20  These are the sons of Ham,
after their families, after their tonguesH3956
“Tongues” (plural) appears in the KJV 34 times.
“Tongue” (singular) appears in the KJV 126 times.

 In every case where the word "tongues" appears in the Old Testament, it is translated from the Hebrew word "lashon" (Strong's Number 3956), which means "speech, language" (as well as the literal use of the tongue in licking or eating).

Never, in the entire, Old Testament, did the term "tongues" get used in the context of speaking gibberish, being "slain in the spirit" or any other such manifestation as is now thought to be a part of speaking in tongues.
Rather, speaking in tongues merely meant speaking in languages.

But at this point, it might be tempting for some to inject, "Wait a minute! Speaking in tongues was different in New Testament, because they were speaking in tongues after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which hadn't happened in the Old Testament!" 

Actually, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit did happen in the Old Testament - as we find in Numbers 11, but before we get into that, let's first look at what speaking in tongues looked like after the Holy Spirit was poured out in the New Testament. When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles in the Upper Room, they went forth and spoke in tongues. Does the Bible teach that this was a demonstration of gibberish utterances for the praise of God? No

The recipients of the outpouring of the HOly Spirit didn't speak in gibberish for the
"praise of God". They spoke other
languages for the purpose of preaching the Gospel in the language each hearer could understand.

Acts chapter 2:1-16
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own langu
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
16 …This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…”
 People from all over the then-known world were gathered about the apostles, listening to them preach the Gospel Truth that day. And the apostles spoke in tongues, meaning that they preached the Gospel and each listener heard it in his own mother tongue. What a miracle! And there were 3000 people converted in that single day!

Neither in the New Testament, nor in the Old Testament, do we see God's people speaking gibberish when they are speaking in tongues. Interestingly enough, speaking in tongues does glorify God, but it isn't for this exclusive purpose. The primary purpose of speaking in tongues is always to preach the truth to the human listeners! Let's look at the Old Testament record of speaking in tongues:

In Numbers 11:16-17, God told Moses to bring 70 elders of the Children of Israel to the Tabernacle. There, He would take some of the Holy Spirit, which was already upon Moses, and put it also upon these elders.

Nothing more important or wonderful had ever happened in all of their lifetimes, yet the Children of Israel were largely uninterested in the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The people had plenty of food. Every day, God rained manna upon them, which was literally angel's food. Yet, now, on the day when the Holy Spirit was to be poured out, instead of praying and seeking God or preparing their hearts for this momentous, Heavenly event, the people were complaining about the food and lusting after their "flesh pots" which they had left behind in Egypt! How tragic!

Had the people cared about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they all would have received some of it. How can we know? Because two men - Eldad and Medad - were not part of the 70, yet because they were ready to receive it, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them both! 

What was the end result of receiving the Holy Spirit? The 70 elders and Eldad and Medad began to prophesy! This is exactly what the apostles would later do in Acts. The primary meaning of "prophesy" is to teach Truth. Yahshua called John the Baptist the greatest prophet, yet he didn't foretell the future. He prepared the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. He was the spiritual forerunner of Christ.

In Numbers 11:25, we read that when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the 70 elders in Wilderness, "they prophesied and did not cease (stop)." 

But how can we know that, if Israel had been interested and spiritually ready, the whole camp could have received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Notice what Moses says, when Joshua complained that two unauthorized men had received it (Eldad and Medad were not among the "authorized" 70 elders who were gathered at the Sanctuary, yet they received the Spirit):
Numbers 11:27-29  "And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!" 
Notice that the purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit - in both cases (Acts and Numbers) was prophesy (teaching truth). And the prophesies and words spoken by the newly anointed prophets were understood and spoken in the language of the people who heard it.  

So if "speaking in tongues" is code for prophesying under the unction of the Holy Spirit, why does the Bible say an interpreter may be needed?

Over and over, in Scripture, we have examples of people who were shown Heavenly Truths – in vision – and even though the message was in their own language, they could not understand. They needed Heavenly help to interpret the message. Consider the examples of:
Joseph, the butler who had the dream of giving the cup to the king, the baker who dreamed of birds eating his bread, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and even the prophet Daniel, who needed an angel to interpret and make him understand some of the visions he had seen, even though the visions were given in his own language. 

When Eldad and Medad prophesied in Numbers 11, they spoke plain Hebrew. Yet their messages were not understood. The records tell us that Eldad and Medad were giving End-time prophesies right there in the Camp of Israel as a result of receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps one may wonder why 1 Corinthians 14:2, and 4 mention speaking in "unknown" tongues. If speaking in tongues is giving prophetic utterances, which are primary preaching the truth and secondarily uttering future prophesies, why is the tongue called "unknown"? One may wonder if this concept allows for a form of speaking in tongues which sounds like gibberish...  First, it is important to remember that all ideas and doctrines must be tested by the Torah. Since there is no question in the Torah record about gibberish... it was never
gibberish...  one can plainly interpret that gibberish isn't part of speaking in tongues in the New Testament experience either - the test of Isaiah 8:20 means that the New Testament doctrines are only Light and Truth if they agree with the Old Testament - specifically the Torah. Remember the question to test a teaching? "Where is that teaching found in the Torah?" 

When you can answer this question, you have correctly used the safeguard of Isaiah 8:20. So, how do we explain the word "unknown" in 1 Corinthians 14:2 and 4? Actually the word "unknown" shouldn't be in the text at all! Whenever Bible translators added words that weren't in the original text, they would italicize the added word. Sometimes the added words made the meaning more clear. But there are times when the added words create false doctrinal ideas. By adding the word "unknown" to "tongue" in 1 Corinthians 14:2 and 4, the translators made it look like the Bible teaches speaking in tongues may sound like gibberish...  But this simply isn't the truth at all. Again, we are safeguarded by using the Torah record to interpret and understand the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts.

So the next time someone suggests a doctrinal teaching, before you accept it as truth, study it out. And to study the Bible correctly, not misinterpreting the meaning of Scripture, start off by asking:  

  "Where is that teaching found in the Torah?"

If a teaching is truth, it will always be found first in the Torah (which is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). And if you can't find an idea in the Torah - even the idea of speaking in tongues - remember there is no light (truth) in it (Isaiah 8:20).