Category Archives: Making a Defense

Does God Speak to Us Personally?

In one of the comments on my recent post Is Self Discipline Overrated?, the author objected to my contention that as believers in the church age we can “hear” God’s voice in our heads. His position was that God does not speak to us personally and directly, but communicates solely through our recall of His word as we have learned it from our pastor.

This may be a matter of semantics in describing the same function, because I do think that the Holy Spirit uses the doctrine we have learned to guide us. But I also think that He can communicate with us specifically about matters unique to our day-to-day lives. This is not to say you can ignore the word of God and fly off based on voices in your head, (I’m not even sure I’d call it a voice; more like a timely thought.) but when you have been consistent with Bible class and are faced with a situation where there are two opposing doctrines that can be applied, you have to go to Him for guidance. Which one do I apply? And He brings the appropriate, already learned doctrines and scriptures to mind.

With me, after that has occurred, God often sends someone into my life who unknowingly repeats what God’s just told me. Or he’ll use my timely discovery of some old notes tucked amidst manuscript pages, or a Thieme book falling off the shelf while I’m searching for something else which just “happens” to open to the page I need, where I’d previously highlighted the appropriate passage. Then, to make sure I get the message, that night in Bible class He’ll often have the pastor repeat it.

Other times we may be faced with making a decision about details of life that we don’t have enough information to make. For example awhile back when Quigley was a wild and crazy puppy who couldn’t be left alone for long, I had to go to the DMV to renew my driver’s license. It’s illegal to leave your dog in the car in Arizona, so I’d have to leave him at home. We had him crate trained, but he wasn’t old enough to be left longer than an hour. I’d already stopped by the DMV the afternoon before where I’d learned that the average wait time was three hours and so had come home before I could do anything. I was advised to come in the morning when it might be a little faster, so that night and the next morning I tried to sort through all the options, wondering when the best time to go would be.

It was not good to try to leave Quigley during his active times in those days. What if he took too long to settle down and I missed my window at the DMV? And should I leave him in the crate or the back yard where he might bay as if he’s dying for the entire time I would be gone, dig his way out or chew through the fence? All my attempts to see into the future so as to make a decision met with failure and only produced increasing anxiety. Finally I gave it up, rebounded the anxiety and handed it over to God. “I have no idea when would be the best time to go for the shortest wait,” I told Him, “or whether I should leave Quigley in the yard or in the crate. You told us to cast all our burdens on You, so that’s what I’m doing. You’re just going to have to handle it.”

With that, I let it go. About half an hour later I got the very strong “instruction” (conviction?) to leave Quigley in the yard and “Go now.” So I did. I arrived at the DMV to find no line whatsoever  and was back home within about forty-five minutes. Quigley did not bay or dig or chew his way out of the yard, and all was well. It was a turning point for me in seeing how God could handle things.

In tonight’s class Pastor Bob just “happened” to start a new subject on the indwelling of God the Father, and why He would indwell us. The first reason he gave is that God “wants us to be totally confident and convinced that He’s the creator of our portfolio of invisible assets.” These assets include all that we will ever need to live the Christian life and fulfill His plan for us; they include phenomenal escrow blessings and a specific, unique plan for each one of us — our personal sense of destiny. Part of that plan is that we get to know, personally and intimately, the One who dwells inside us.

When the Bible talks about God abiding in us and dwelling in us, the word refers to being at rest in, making oneself at home in. It’s an intimate relaxed relationship and I believe such relationships require communication. Prayer is communication. We talk to God through prayer, and sometimes He answers, personally. It can be by means of a thought, or a doctrine or some external “coincidence.”

Obviously there is great room for people to think that God has told them something when He hasn’t, especially if they have a zeal for Him but not a lot of knowledge. If what they say He’s told them doesn’t line up with His word, then it’s probably not from Him. Even if it does line up with the word, it still might not be.

But that’s between them and God. My concern is what He says to me, and whether I can believe that it’s really God and not some wishful thinking of my own manufacture. It takes time to gain confidence in this. It’s certainly taken me a long time to trust that this might actually be taking place. Even now, if I think He’s told me to do something but am not absolutely sure it’s from Him, I ask Him to make it clear or shut me down if it’s not what He wants me to do.

And mostly, He hasn’t shut me down. But even if I do blow it in this regard, it’s not going to ruin His day. And usually not even mine. We’re not here to be perfect. Which is a good thing since we aren’t going to be till we reach heaven. I’m thinking more and more that far too much is made of our performance. Did we make the wrong choice? The right one? How much does it really matter?

It’s Christ’s work that matters, that’s won the victory, not ours. We’re perfectly righteous already and can’t be made one bit more so, so why the angst about whether we might do something wrong? If we do, God makes it clear, we rebound, we adjust our thinking and move on. It’s “He must increase, I must decrease.” It’s all about His plan to bring glory to Himself through us, and one of the most brilliant and amazing ways He does that is through His grace toward us. If we were always good, and successful and perfect, where would be the room for grace? It’s a given that we’re going to seek to obey His commands and do what He wishes because we love Him. But we can bring glory to Him even in failure, if we just use the system He’s provided, pick ourselves up, rebound, face forward and move on.

CSFF Blog Tour Wrap-Up – Nephilim

Well, another CSFF Blog Tour comes to a close. I found it fun and informative, and was pleasantly surprised by the level of participation and the number of really good posts.

Becky Miller, apparently the CSFF Blog Tour Overlord (who would have guessed?) finally unveiled her own review of  The Enclave, which I found quite insightful.

Becky’s essay at Speculative Faith called The Truth in Speculative Fiction: a Look at The Enclave by Karen Hancock  is also well worth reading.

Rachel Starr Thomson did an excellent Third Day post on men trying to be God.

Elizabeth Williams did three detailed, thoughtful and very thorough posts on various aspects of the book. On Day 1 she gave an overview, on Day 2  she shared her observations about the scientific aspects of the story and her desire for … well, more development. At which point I was ruefully reminded of my struggles to keep to the allotted word count, which I exceeded, and to finish in the allotted time, which I grossly exceeded! But oh well. The book is what God wanted it to be and all books have flaws.

More than that, no book is going to satisfy everyone, though admittedly, from Elizabeth’s final post on Day 3, when she considered the Christian aspects, it seemed she was overall more satisfied than not. (I particularly appreciated this last post of hers)

For his Day 2 post, John Otte detailed his objection to my inclusion of Nephilim into the story, provoking a number of interesting comments. So many, in fact, that he decided to scrap his original Day 3 post and continue the discussion of Nephilim in Christian fiction . He also offered  a sort of apology. I love that he takes into account his own perspective and frame of reference and acknowledges it in his approach.

Because in all this talk of Nephilim several have suggested that the people who think these creatures were half human/half angel have arrived at that conclusion solely based on a reading of the English translation of Genesis 6:1-4, I’ve decided to address that issue today as something of a wrap-up.

Being one of those who believe they were indeed human/angelic crossbreeds, I can attest to the fact there’s more than just the English Gen 6 that has led me to that conclusion. And I’m not talking about The Book of Enoch, which one person cited as a probable source. I had arrived at my conclusion long before I’d ever heard of The Book of Enoch, though I did skim it in preparation for writing The Enclave. To me it seemed obviously not written by God but some legalistic somebody… so I give it no more credence than Greek myths — which like many other myths most likely contain seeds of truth, and may record the traditions of belief at the time of writing, but are not the absolute truth of God’s word.

No, my reasons come pretty much straight from the word of God:

Item #1

The phrase in Gen 6, “sons of God” is “beni ha Elohim” in the Hebrew. It is a phrase used only three other times in the scriptures, all three in Job. I would note that Job is regarded as the oldest book of the Bible in terms of content — that is, the events it records occurred before Abraham and were believed to have been part of an oral tradition that pre-existed the writings of Moses (which Moses would have known about), though it was actually preserved in written form some time after he wrote the Torah.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them.

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself to the Lord.

(Since they are presenting themselves to the Lord in heaven it’s pretty obvious these are angels)

Job 38:7 — the last line of a passage wherein God asks Job where he was when “I laid the foundation of the earth! Tell me if you have understanding. Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy…”

This reference is also pretty obviously depicting angels, if the earth was still in the process of being created as they were singing and shouting. Additionally, the morning star phrase links to Is 14:12 where it refers specifically to Satan, before his fall.

Item #2

First Mention Principle. One of the means of understanding what a term or phrase means in the Bible is the “First-Mention Principle” wherein you look at the first time a word/phrase is used to glean its meaning for later usages. Looking at beni ha Elohim in Genesis 6, its first usage could certainly be ascribed to angels, but it’s inconclusive. However, if you consider that Job is the earliest surviving account through oral tradition, then technically Job is the first mention of the phrase, where the usage is not at all inconclusive. And as I mentioned earlier, Moses was probably familiar with it.

Item #3

Genesis 6:2 says that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

“took wives” is laqach, the BDB Definition of which is “to take, get, fetch, lay hold of, seize, receive, acquire, buy, bring, marry, take a wife, snatch, take away”

Other scholars suggest “to take by sheer strength, overwhelming whoever protected them.”  Thus an alternate translation could be, “seized women for themselves, whomever they chose.”

Which sounds like rape and conquest to me. An examination of ancient history and cultures, especially Greek mythology, shows that women were more often taken and snatched and seized as wives than they were “married” as we know it today.

Item #4

If the sons of God were just men, and the daughters of men were just human women, then why bother referencing some special kind of progeny? ie, “Nephilim” who were around “in those days and also afterward.” Wouldn’t they be the same as other people? Why call them mighty men? Why use the same term later to refer to the giants in the land? Giants who clearly weren’t just regular men if the Jews saw themselves as grasshoppers in their sight.(Numbers 13:33)

Item #5

Jude and 2 Peter tell of a special group of angels who sinned in a particular way, different from the rest, who are currently being kept in prison:

Jude 6ff And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bounds under darkness for the judgment of the great day. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh (ie, flesh they were forbidden to go after, including flesh of a lower creation), are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

The angels who did not keep their own domain are equated in this passage with some sort of sexual sin comparable to the sin of homosexuality of Sodom and Gomorrah, a sin God refers to as an abomination in Lev 18:22 comparable with copulating with animals (a lower creation), forbidden in Lev 18:23

2 Peter 2: 4,5   For if God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into hell (the Greek word here is Tartarus) and committed them to pits of darkness reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of rightousness with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

These verses tie the angels to a sin of “gross immorality” outside the boundaries God had apparently set up, and are here clearly linked to the judgment that came upon the pre-flood world.

I consider this, taken together with Gen 6 and the verses in Job to be convincing support for the angelic/human crossbreeding interpretation.

Item #6

Why would the angels do this? Just out of lust?

I think it’s because Satan was right there when God made his promise to the woman in Genesis 3 that the human race would be saved through her seed and that that same seed would crush Satan’s head. I think he wanted to thwart that plan by corrupting the genetics of the human race so that it was no longer human. Then the promise of a purely human female seed could not be fulfilled and God would be proven a liar.

The first sentence of that paragraph is supportable in Gen 3. The second is logical extrapolation. There are other verses that do support it indirectly, but that involves many more doctrines than I want to pursue in this wrap-up which is already long enough. I’ll save it for another time.

Again, I want to thank everyone who participated for taking the time to read and review The Enclave — or at the least just make mention of it on their blogs — and especially those who went the extra mile in providing additional reflections, comments and humor.