Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who Wrote Genesis?

Jesus said that Moses wrote Genesis.

But how did Moses get the information? By revelation?

It seems that much of the information may have been available to Moses in written form.

Mention is made in Genesis 5:1 of "the book of the generations of Adam". This document included genealogies and perhaps some pertinent accompanying narrative.

Mention is also made in the book of Genesis of "the generations of the heavens and the earth". It was the story of creation and subsequent events.

These documents might have been available to Moses, handed-down through Jacob, Issac, Abraham, Noah and Enoch. The name Enoch means 'scribe' in some languages.

Some of the information might also have been handed-down orally. And this information would have been entirely reliable, when you consider that Adam lived long enough to make it possible that Enoch could have known Adam personally. In fact, all of Adam's descendants before Enoch outlived Enoch, for Enoch was taken. So Enoch may have met them all!

Noah was Enoch's grandson, and Noah could have known all of Adam's descendants in that family line - because they all lived so long.

Then after the flood, Noah was still alive up until the time when Abraham reached the age of 60. In fact, Noah's son Shem outlived Abraham! So Abraham could have met Noah or at least Shem. Even if he didn't meet them, the fact they were still alive meant that they could have denied it if the stories being told about them were not true.

Then Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac Jacob, and Jacob Levi, and Levi's great-grandson was Moses.

So you can see how few hands and mouths the written and oral information had to pass through before reaching from Adam to Moses. Not too many at all!

Moses' role, therefore, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was simply to compile the written documents and oral information into a single book, the book of Genesis.

Much of the information which Moses put into the book of Genesis would have been information which was already widely known by all Israelites and not just Israelites but by many of the inhabitants of the whole world.

Balanced View of Prosperity

I read an article against prosperity.

The Son of Man truly had nowhere to lay His head, as the article said.

But does that mean it was Jesus' will that everyone become homeless?

Imagine: at first the Israelites had nice houses to live in. Then Jesus comes, teaching. Next thing, the whole nation of Jews is living outside in the rain and elements, leaving their suitable homes empty.

The Romans would be thinking, "What idiots!"

Even their goats would have had enough sense to come in out of the rain!

But that's precisely what should have happened - if it was God's will for everyone to become homeless just because Jesus was.

And what about Ministries?

Someone once criticized Billy Graham for his ministry's big budget.

"Jesus rode a donkey," they said.

Billy Graham replied, "If you find a donkey that can fly me across the oceans of the world, I'll be happy to ride it."

It costs money to print Bibles, to broadcast via satellite into closed countries, to travel and to preach the Gospel. If every believer is penniless like the preacher, no-one would be able to pay for it.

I like the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

Often when trying to correct an extreme view, we can err to an opposite extreme, if we're not careful.

In my view, it would be an extreme view of prosperity if we taught that all believers everywhere will always prosper if only they have enough faith - because believers in some countries are experiencing imprisonment and martyrdom as a result of their faith.

But on the other hand, I think it's also extreme - and a bit blind - if a Christian in a free, democratic, Western country criticizes prosperity completely - when they wouldn't even be alive today to worship the Lord as a Christian, if it wasn't for the prosperity under their own two feet. I’ll explain.

It is mainly countries like UK, USA, Canada, Australia & NZ that saved the world during World Wars I & II. The Allied countries were able to win the Wars partly due to their prosperity.

And where did their prosperity come from? It came as a result of being free societies. And the freedom in their society only came as a result of generations of Gospel effort.

In other words, the freedom that we enjoy today to live as Christians (in Western countries) came about because somewhere back along the line, the Gospel produced prosperity.

And yet some prosperity-loathing person opens his mouth, standing on the very free soil which a previous generation sacrificed for, and blabs out some tirade about the Gospel having nothing to do with prosperity. That's either ingratitude or ignorance - or both.

If someone's prosperity message claims that persecuted believers in some countries didn't have enough faith - that's extreme. But it's also extreme if we refuse to see that God is delighted when a country becomes so infiltrated with the Gospel that its citizens start to experience freedom, prosperity, peace, health and longevity as a direct consequence.

"He taketh pleasure in the prosperity of His servants".

Take Uganda as an example. During Idi Amin's regime in the late 70s, a true believer, through no fault of his own, may have suffered confiscation of his goods or imprisonment. But today believers in Uganda have the opportunity for a normal, prosperous life. The President's wife was among those who attended Benny Hinn's Uganda Crusade this year.

Ask any believer in Uganda, "Has the Gospel improved Uganda's prosperity?" and hardly a person would deny it. It is the Gospel that improved Uganda's conditions, nothing else.

For a Christian in America or Australia who enjoys peace, to deny that prosperity has any place in the Gospel, is like a finger or an eye saying, "I don't believe the rest of the body exists" even though it's attached; or like the tip of an ice-berg saying, "I don't believe any other part of the ice-berg exists" even though the tip somehow sits suspended outside the water; or like the peak of Mt Everest saying, "I don't believe the Himalayan mountain system exists" although that very system of mountains is what is forcing the peak to rise so high; or like a sceptic looking for the Loch Ness monster saying, "I don't believe in it! Where is she?" while he and his boat are being lifted out of the water on top of the monster's head.

The best place to drive a car is on the road – not off in a drain to the left or right. Rather than holding an extreme view to the left or right, it's better to have a balanced view of prosperity's place in the Gospel.

The same could be said regarding any Christian doctrine: stay in the middle of our lane, not off in a drain on either side.

The Book of Enoch

I love thinking about Enoch! The depth of wisdom that God gave him is fascinating. I suppose the depth of revelation in his subject matter should be no surprise to us – seeing he walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

And to think – that same level of intimacy with God is available to you and I – if we choose to walk with God, like Enoch did.

Enoch was a great prophet, yet Jesus said, “There has never been a greater prophet than John. Nevertheless, he who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” That means you and I are greater than Enoch as well.

Greater in what sense? I suppose John was the greatest of the prophets at least in the sense that he had a greater, or more direct role, or a more closely-linked role, to the subject matter of prophesy than the other prophets, which was the Son Himself.

All the other prophets knew about the Son only in visions or by revelation. But John did more than know about Him or talk about Him – he actually physically introduced Him.

John was the friend of the bridegroom.

The other prophets talked about the Son. John said, "This is He".

Being Jesus' first cousin after the flesh, and because of his election, and due to the time in which he lived, John was privileged to go one step further than the preceding prophets by saying to Israel, "I've told you about Him, but now I will actually introduce Him to you - here He is. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I told you..."

Nevertheless he who is least in the Kingdom has even a greater role – even a more privileged relationship to the Son (the subject of all prophecy) than to have physically introduced Him to Israel.

We are every bit as privileged as John or Enoch – so far as wisdom, revelation, righteousness and redemption goes - because of Christ.

I love it that God likes to reveal Himself like that to anyone who chooses to draw close to Him.

Jeremiah said, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

Sometimes I’ve said to God, “Tell me something great and mighty – about anything – something which I don’t know”. It could be something about politics, or the future, or about nations, or something personal and intimate, or about some plan that God has, or about Christ, or it may be some spiritual truth. But I just like it that God likes to talk to us.

God said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, seeing he also shall become a great nation?”

In fact, in the prophets it says, “God does nothing unless He first reveals it to His servants the prophets”.

God referred to, "Abraham my friend”.

Jesus said, “From now on I don’t call you servants but friends – because I have told you everything.”

Perhaps a good definition of “friend” would be: someone to whom you tell things. To a servant, you only give commands. To a friend, you tell your plans – not just give orders.

Yet even the servants (the prophets) get told everything God is going to do – so how much more now that He calls us friends, more than servants!

He invited Jeremiah to ask Him concerning things.

With God’s most intimate friends, He talks about things beyond their own generation, because God dwells in eternity.

God names us not just according to our destiny in this life, but in accordance with the full extent of our fruitfulness in history and in eternity. For example, God named Abram “father of many nations” and until this day, many sons in every nation are still being born to Abraham in Christ Jesus – and the counting hasn’t finished yet - it's still going!

So the dream God gave you concerning your destiny was placed in your spirit by God, speaking from the viewpoint of future history and eternity. When He speaks of our destiny, He isn't merely speaking of what we will see with our eyes during our lifetime.

People say, “Don’t die with the music in you”. In other words, don’t die with unfulfilled dreams in your heart. But I say, “Don’t die without unfulfilled dreams”. How limited if we haven't dreamt beyond what we can accomplish only in our own lifetime!

When you think about Abraham’s accomplishments during the term of his natural life, it doesn’t seem very much in comparison with Moses, Joshua or David. All he did was roam around in tents and have one son of promise. When he fought the kings he wouldn't take any spoil. All Abraham really did was that he believed God. And yet because of that, God has given him a great name.

It's not about achieving. It's about believing.

Activity that hasn't come from faith isn't valuable. It is faith that counts for something.

All God is asking us to do is to believe Him – and to act on our faith.

Faith is an act. It expresses itself through love. Hallelujah!

I feel an anointing on some parts of the book of Enoch. I also feel a caution about some parts. Nevertheless I find the book of Enoch one of the most fascinating documents in the world.

Years ago I asked the Lord whether it should be included in our canon of Scripture. Immediately, I sensed that God had already seen to it to preserve in our bibles the portions of the book of Enoch that are valuable to us.

For example:

* The book of Genesis retells some of the same incidences as the book of Enoch, preserving all the details we need to know and leaving out the details we don’t need to know

* The Epistle of Jude quotes from it

* The Epistles of Peter use some of the same language and themes

Therefore we don’t miss out, even though it is not in our Bibles!

I like it that Enoch is referred to as a “scribe of righteousness”. I like it that “scribe” is seen as a calling. To write things down is an important role of many prophets, even for prophets today.

When I was a new Christian, before I learned about the book of Enoch, I used to wonder how Jude knew what Enoch prophesied about, since it isn't recorded in our Bible.

I also used to wonder where Moses got the information from in the book of Genesis – was it oral tradition, or by revelation? So I was fascinated when I realized that the book of Genesis is actually a compilation of several books, and that each of subsection has its own subtitle. For example, the book of Genesis mentions “the book of the generations of Adam” as one subheading. Then “The generations of the heavens and the earth” is mentioned. And another sections begins, “The book of the generations of Cain” etc. It seems genealogies were written down, along with salient commentary about individuals and events, and then handed down the family line.

So all Moses had to do was link these documents with a minimal amount of narrative.

But how accurate would the writings have been by the time Moses compiled the Pentateuch?

Well according to some quick calculations I did once (which could be wrong, because Maths wasn’t my best subject!) even though Jude says Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam, I think that Adam would still have been alive during the first 200 to 300 years of Enoch’s life. So they may have met personally.

Not only could Enoch have personally met Adam, but Enoch would have had the opportunity to meet all of his fathers – Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalaleel and Jared – because it seems Enoch was the next to go after Adam – it seems he preceded all his fathers in returning to God besides Adam only. So Enoch could have known them all personally. And Enoch would have told his son Methuselah, who told Noah.

Noah was Enoch’s grandson. And I think Noah was still alive until Abraham was already about 60 years old. And Jacob, Abraham's grandson, would have been already about 15 years old before Abraham died. Jacob arrived to sojourn in Egypt, where Moses was later brought-up by Pharaoh.

So this means that by the time Israel came to sojourn in Egypt, they were still only about three or four personal links removed beyond the generation which could have personally known Adam!

That being the case, even a mere oral record would have been reliable enough! How much more the written record. Apparently, the patriarchs were scribes.

I don’t recall any Jewish Scriptures using the word “scribe” until the return from Captivity. So the use of the word “scribe” in the book of Enoch could be an indication of later manipulation of the text.

The book of Enoch mentions Noah by name. Years ago I wrote a note in the margin of my copy of the Book of Enoch next to where it mentions "Noah" that:

“Enoch was taken 69 years before Noah was born”.

If my calculation at the time was correct, this means either that Enoch received his future grandson’s name by revelation; or that his name was already decided before he was born; or that the text was manipulated in a later period after Noah.

Is the Book of Genesis Parable or Literal?

My rule of literary interpretation is that in the context of prose, language of prose is to be taken as prose unless otherwise stated.

In poetic literature, poetry wouldn’t necessarily be suddenly taken as prose in the context of poetry.

Every parable that I can think of in the Bible, the context itself states that it is a parable or a song. But nothing in Genesis suggests that the creation story isn’t prose. None of the other Scriptures take the creation story as being parabolic either. In the absence of literary evidence, the onus of proof that the story is not to be taken literally is with those who claim so.

Genesis and Fables

Some have suggested that the book of Genesis was corrupted by being mingled with a collection of fables, during the Babylonian Captivity.

My initial thoughts on that hypothesis are that it is almost impossible that such a significant corruption of Scriptures could have occurred during the Babylonian captivity.

The Captivity lasted only 70 years. In fact, when the temple began to be rebuilt, some of the old men still remembered the old temple. The Law was read daily to the people who returned to Jerusalem in the first wave of returnees. Daniel also had access to the Scriptures in Babylon. So we know that multiple copies of the original Scriptures were available during that time period, both in Jerusalem and in Babylon.

The Scriptures were to the Jews the most valued national treasure. The sense of value that they placed upon their Jewish Scriptures and genealogies would have been heightened even more during their years in foreign captivity – especially since the temple was robbed of its material treasures.

So this doesn’t leave very much time or opportunity for the most sacred document of the nation to become corrupted beyond recognition and without dispute and without trace.

Even if some individual at the time wrote a corrupted version of the Scriptures in Babylon, he would not have been able to destroy all the copies of the true Scriptures in such a short time because multiple copies of the true Scriptures already existed both in Jerusalem and in Babylon at the time.

Jewish people didn’t stop reading the Scriptures during the Captivity. Daniel is an example of that.

When the first wave of Jews returned (under Cyrus’ orders) to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, the Law was read aloud to all the people daily.

Since many of the old men still remembered the original temple, these men would also have been on high alert if they noticed that the Scriptures being read to them had suddenly been changed from what they remembered. They wept when they saw that the new temple wasn’t as grand as the old one – they also would have surely reacted if they noticed that Babylonian fantasies were now intermingled with the pure story that was passed down to them by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

If such a major corruption occurred so quickly and so thoroughly, one would think there would be a historical record of conflict arising over which version ought to have been accepted as legitimate. But to my knowledge there is no historical record that any controversy existed at the time regarding the canonicity of the Scriptures.

If a new version suddenly appeared during the Captivity, how is it that the original version suddenly became lost, never to be discovered – and that the new version was never disputed by the Jews?

It might have been possible if the Captivity endured for a millennium - but it lasted only 70 years. It might have been possible if only one copy of the Scripture existed and if it was in the hands of the elite - but many copies existed and all the people were familiar with their content. It might have been possible if only few people remembered the days before the Captivity – but many still lived to remember.

Therefore it seems to me that the version of the Scriptures that survived the Captivity is more than likely the same version that existed in Israel before the Captivity.

So if the Captivity didn’t afford enough opportunity for the creation story to be turned into fable, when else could such a corruption have occurred?

Not before the Captivity either.

Not during the Patriarchal period. It can be derived by studying the genealogies, that there were as few as only three to four personal links from Adam all the way up to the time when Israel came to sojourn in Egypt. So the story would have been reliable even if it was only passed-on orally, let alone in writing.

Not during the sojourn in Egypt. During the 430 years in Egypt, it is clear that the Jews continued the patriarchal practice of recording genealogies. So they would have guarded the writings of their forbears too.

In fact, when I looked at the genealogies today, I was staggered to notice how few generations existed between the time when Israel came to sojourn in Egypt and the emergence of Moses. Hardly any!

Once again, the generations involved are so close that the record would have been reliable even if it was only transmitted orally, let alone in writing – especially considering how closely-knit the Israeli identity became during their years in virtual solitary confinement in an Egyptian suburb! All the sons of Jacob and their descendants lived together in such close proximity and their national identity and heritage was forged.

The opportunity for some individual Jewish person to add Egyptian folklore into their treasured genealogical records hardly existed. The surge of family ancestral knowledge and heritage would have snuffed out his weak ideas real quick!

And then came the mighty signs and wonders against Egypt; the Red Sea parted; the mighty Egyptian army was destroyed; Israel was delivered; all the surrounding nations feared the God of Israel; Mount Horeb smoked and shook and the Pentateuch was written.

Not during the period of the Judges. A very short time afterwards came Samuel and all the prophets, who also wrote. Scriptures were preserved by prophets, priests, kings and by the hearts of the people.

This leaves the 400-year inter-testament period as the only other time period in which the creation story may have been turned into fable. But once again, as I will show, I can’t see how it was reasonably possible then either.

After the return from Captivity when Ezra taught the people the Law, we saw the emergence of the synagogue in which teaching priests read the Law every Sabbath all across the land.

Anna the prophetess was already “of great age” when Christ was born. She would have learned to read many years before this, let’s say 60BC. By the time she was reading, the alleged changes must have already been made and accepted beyond controversy and all original manuscripts lost. That’s a small window of opportunity for such a sweeping change to have already been accepted and become entrenched in Jewish thought and literature. Even if the Dead Sea scrolls hadn’t been discovered, that would still be unlikely.

The book of Genesis was found 24 times amongst the Dead Sea scrolls. No major changes there. Written about 150BC (if you accept current dating methods), that narrows down the window of opportunity even less for a corruption to have occurred after Ezra.

It narrows it down to – what, about 250 years? This means that at the time when the oldest Dead Sea scrolls were written, there would still have been people alive all over Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, who still personally knew people who personally had met priests who had been taught by Ezra’s disciples. And yet we would be saying that the corrupted version had already become canon in that short period. Not only is it unlikely – it’s impossible.

Even if all the original Scriptures were destroyed, the oral and family traditions would have been so strong that a new version of the Scriptures could not have been accepted so quickly, so thoroughly, without controversy, without trace.

By this time synagogues were everywhere. Copies of the Scriptures were everywhere, even in Greek. Jewish patriotism was at a peak. Everyone was looking for the Kingdom of God to come. Never were the Scriptures so prolific.

In the absence of literary, archaeological and historical evidence; in the absence of likelihood; in the absence of motive, weapon or opportunity – the onus of proof that the creation story was corrupted and mingled with fable sometime during any of these periods is with those who claim that it was.

As for me, with my current (limited) knowledge, I don’t see a better-informed option than to take the creation story literally.

I believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures in their original language.

My faith is based not on my intellectual ability to explain the Scripture, but on the power of God.

If there is some rule of common sense by which the creation story can’t be taken literally, or by which it can be proved that the story has been corrupted at some later stage, then the integrity of the patriarchs and the whole of Scripture would, by the same rule, also be suspect.

Our faith would be in vain. And we would yet be in our sins – without hope and without God in the world. We would be suffering needlessly. We Christians would be the most unfortunate people in the world.

But even so, my faith is not based on any of the above logic alone – but on the power of God.

More on Noah's Flood

Noah's flood must have been BIG - no matter whether it was regional or global.

Some argue that there isn't enough water on earth for it to be possible.

However, 70% of the earth's surface is already covered by ocean, to an average depth of nearly 4km.

And who knows how much water exists beneath the earth's crust. There could be a lot of water down there. 80% of what comes out of volcanos is water vapor. Scientists also have reason to believe that earth's outer core is liquid.

But could there be enough subterranean water to submerge Mt Everest by 15 cubits? Well keep in mind that if this amount of subterranean water exists, it would occupy a mere 0.0029044% of the earth's volume. So, relatively speaking, we are still not talking about an impossible volume of water. And since the deepest that mankind has drilled beneath the sea-bed so far is only 2,111m, I guess it can't be ruled-out.

But in all likelihood, the earth's mountains were not as high before the flood. Instead, we could say that the aftermath of the flood may have caused mountains such as Mt Ararat and the Himalayas to become as high as they are today.

According to a NASA website (NB:- this was a NASA website, not a Creation-Science website!) there are lots of marine fossils on top of Mt Everest and the terrain was once a seabed. And the Rocky's is the world's largest site for fossils. Apparently these marine animals were covered in sediment and then the seabed was forced upwards to form the Himalayas and the Rockys. What better explanation for this than the flood and its tectonic aftermath?

Notice the Bible says that the earth was divided in the fifth generation after Noah - possibly as a result of continental drift or rising sea levels. Apparently there were a lot of major changes that occurred on earth's surface for quite some time after the flood! These changes could have included shifting tectonic plates, continental drift, earthquakes, volcanos, rising mountain peaks and rising sea levels, and the cutting-off of land masses that were once connected.

So it's quite possible that before the flood, the mountains may have been much lower (Mt Everest and the Rocky's may not have even existed before the flood - they may have been seabeds!). And it's also possible that the world had only one large, connected land mass, one connected continent, before the earth was divided after the flood. The world's oceans contain enough water to completely submerge the earth to a depth of 2.7km if all the land was flat. If we allow for lower mountains and shallower oceans before the flood, we wouldn't have to find too much subterranean water at all, and all the world including all its mountains could have easily been submerged to a depth of 15 cubits.

Noah's Flood

Was Noah's flood regional or worldwide?

If the flood was local rather than world-wide, the flood must nevertheless have covered an enormous area – otherwise the ark would not have been necessary.

For the ark to have been necessary, the destruction caused by the flood waters must have been so widespread that it must have been deemed well-nigh impossible for animals to readily migrate into the area afterwards and repopulate it again.

It must have flooded such an enormous area that it must have been impossible for Noah and his family to survive by instead migrating away from the area. His small family’s only hope of survival was for Noah to exert all the effort of building such a huge ark.

The flood waters were so great that we are told they “increased greatly upon the earth…and ALL the high hills, that were under the WHOLE HEAVEN, were covered…” The waters prevailed 15 cubits above the highest mountain. A whole year and ten days expired before the waters were abated enough for Noah and his family to safely exit the ark.

If this was local rather than world-wide, it would be necessary to find the geographical area to be surrounded by a ring of higher mountains which would form a catchment for this enormous volume of flood waters.

I don’t know if there is evidence that such a wide, high and unbroken ring of mountains ever existed in the Middle East – or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. It would be interesting to know.

So the flood was probably worldwide.

But I've been wondering whether enough water exists on the planet to cover the whole surface of the earth.

I was taught in Physics at school that mass is constant. So if there was enough water to cover the earth in Noah's day, I was thinking that all that water must still be on the planet somewhere.

I wasn't sure whether I would be able to find an answer to the question of the total mass of H2O on earth on the internet, so I asked the Lord about it.

Immediately, the first thing that came to mind was that the creation story begins with the whole earth covered with water:

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters".

And another Scripture kept ringing in the ears of my spirit:

“…the earth standing out of the water and in the water…”

Therefore, whatever happened from Day 1 of creation onwards, there must always have remained enough water on earth to be able to cover the whole surface with water once again.

On Day 2, God created a firmament which separated the waters below and above it. This firmament was called, "Heaven". It is the place where birds would later fly. So I guess this "firmament" is talking about earth's atmosphere. Then it says a volume of water was separated and placed above this firmament. I don't know what this refers to. But whatever it is, the point I’m observing is that the total mass of water still remained constant before and after this event.

So it doesn’t matter to me (for the purposes of this question) what is meant by the waters above the firmament – because the volume of water under the firmament was still enough to cover the entire surface of the earth even after some of the water had been separated above the firmament.

Then on Day 3, after the firmament made a separation between the waters, God caused the waters below the firmament (which still completely covered earth’s surface) to be gathered into separate places called “seas,” allowing dry land to appear for the first time. So this means that even with part of the original mass of water separated by the firmament, there was still enough water below the firmament to cover the entire surface of the earth.

I don’t know what God did to cause all the water to gather together into places called "seas". I guess He either raised the land in places, or dug trenches for oceans in other places, or even caused a lot of the water to go underground. But either way, the volume of water to cover the earth was still there – below the firmament.

So what happened to cause the flood?

"All the fountains of the great deep were broken up."

The use of the word "broken up" implies quite a cataclysmic, violent action, quite an upheaval. Peter compares the scope of the flood with the final judgment. It was fierce. The language allows room for something entirely disruptive to the world. I imagine even the whole terrain of earth could have been changed. Flood waters could have thrown sediment all over the planet. Genesis talks about something deep in the earth being “broken up”. It wasn’t only the surface that was affected.

If all the water that was under the firmament was brought to the surface and spread out all over the land again, it would have been enough to cover the entire surface of the earth to a certain depth, given the right conditions. But not only did water come from the deep - from under the firmament - but also "the windows of heaven were opened". So by utilizing water from both these sources, the earth could have been well and truly covered with water.

But to what depth? For example, could Mt Everest have been under water? I think it is possible that the flood could have caused Mt Everest to become that high. Or it may not have even existed prior to the flood. I discovered on a NASA website (NB not a Creation Science website) that marine fossils exist on top of Mt Everest and the sediment was once a seabed.

To me, the language of Genesis and Peter allows room for the possibility that the upheaval caused by the dissipating flood waters may have been great enough to force seabeds to the surface and push Himalayan peaks up in a short space of time. This flood is described in apocalyptic terms. It was powerful. Peter called it a different world back then.

So it’s possible that the world’s mountains were not quite so high, pre-flood. I did some calculations and I think I am fairly sure that there is enough water in our oceans to cover the earth to a depth of about 2.7km if the land was flat. But Noah’s flood was caused by more than just ocean water – the fountains of the great deep were broken open, and the windows of heaven were opened.

So where did all that water go, after the flood?

God sent a wind and much of it was “assuaged”.

The rest ran into the seas or could have returned underground.

It took a year and ten days before Noah could safely leave the Ark with enough dry land for eight people and a boat load of animals. So it could have taken 40 years for all the water to run off – who knows?

About 100 years after the flood, a guy was born and they named him Peleg, "because in his days the earth was divided". I always assumed this division referred to the Babel dispersion. Maybe it does. Certainly the earth was divided in a social sense after the tower of Babel.

But then I wondered whether the Bible may have used the word earth more deliberately than that – because it says it was the earth, not the people, that was divided.

If the earth was divided geologically during Peleg’s lifetime, what could have caused it?

Notice this didn’t happen immediately after the flood. Neither did it occur in one day. It was nearly 100 years after the flood before the whole process was completed. If the division was geological, perhaps continental shift or rising sea-levels may have caused it.

I thought the meaning of the name Peleg could reveal a clue. I looked it up, and discovered that Peleg פָּלֶג means division, as if by an earthquake. So the idea of geographic activity is definitely intrinsic to his name.

Perhaps that is a clue that the earth’s terrain experienced major changes within a generation or two of the flood.

I searched further, and found that his name is related to a word that refers to water. Lots of English words are phonetically related to it.

For example, the English word archipelago means a chain of islands, that is, a strip of land separated in places by the sea; and pelagic means: of or relating to the sea.

So the idea is there that during Peleg's day, water levels may have risen, cutting land-masses off from each other.

But why would this have happened 100 years after the flood?

Perhaps it was God's timing because of the Babel thing.

Or perhaps the flood was so impacting on terra firma that changes took that long to settle. This flood affected more than just the surface of the earth. The terrain of the earth, the heights of the mountains, the depths of the oceans – all these things could have become suddenly very different as a result of the flood and its aftermath.

So from a Biblical point of view I’m satisfied there was enough water to cover the earth, as it looked like before the flood. But how about from a scientific point of view?

71% of the earth’s surface is covered by ocean. The average depth of the oceans is 3,711 meters. (That’s how I calculated that if the whole earth were flat, the water could cover the earth to a depth of more than 2½ km.)

So for the highest mountain of the pre-flood world to be covered by mere cubits may not have required much more water than what exists in our oceans, if the mountains were lower in those days.

But what if Mount Ararat was the same height before the flood as it is today (5,137m)? Could that much water possibly be somewhere beneath the earth’s surface?

The volume of the earth’s oceans is 1.386 × 109 km³.

The earth’s total volume is 1.083 207 3×1012 km³.

The oceans represent only 0.0012795336% of the earth’s total volume.

The amount of water required to submerge Mt Ararat by 15 cubits would be approximately 1.9 times the amount of water in our current oceans, or a mere 0.0024343% of the earth’s volume.

That’s still such a small proportion of the earth’s total volume. If you drew it in cross-section diagram of the earth you’d hardly even see it.

So I think this volume of water could quite easily have been held captive underground, before the fountains of the great deep were broken up.

A lot of this water could have remained above ground after the flood as higher ocean levels, or it could have returned underground.

But the most likely explanation is that the terrain of the earth was so different before the flood – perhaps shallower oceans and lower mountain peaks – that the amount of water currently in our oceans was enough to flood it all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

村人全員の回心 ーミンダナオ島での出来事



我々の村の態度が非常に良くなり、政府に対し、山岳部族の中では我々が最も問題が少ない部族、という評判を得ました。それほど良くなったので、私の名前は、Datu Malinaw (平和をもたらす村長、という意味)に変わりました。


最初、私は村長さんの受洗に対する反応を残念に思いました。私は、村長さんの神への従順が完全なものであったなら、 私達が新会堂の建設を手伝うことに同意するか否かに関係なく、受洗をすることに喜んで従うべきであると思いました。 しかし、主は私の心を和らげ、心に次のような印象を与えてくださっているように感じました。
「この部族は、何世代にも渡って住んできた土地の法的所有権を持っていないのです。彼らは、低地に住む人々に比べ、正式な教育を受けておらず、富もないと感じています。村長は、村人の受洗の許可を、村人を訪問者との契約関係に置こうと思っているのです。彼がしていることは、あなた方が誠実かどうかという証拠を探るためだけなのです。もし、村人が不当に扱われる危険にさらされ、土地から追い出されることがないと確信すれば、彼は喜んで洗礼を許可するでしょう。」 そのように、主が私に語っておられるように思いました。
チームメンバーに、私が感じたことを言いました。すると、チームの一人がさっと、100ペソ(たった5ドルぐらい)を村長さんに渡しました。するとすぐに、村長さんは、村人達の洗礼の許可を出しました。 それだけしかかからなかったのです。誠実さという、名ばかりの5ドルで。驚きました!

村長さんは、彼の言葉を守り、一日のうちに、彼と彼の村全員が、川で洗礼を受けました。最初の礼拝には1300人が出席しました。それ以来、数人の村の若者達は聖書学校を卒業し、4つの近隣の村々に福音の矢を放ちました。しかし、数多くの村々に住む特定の部族には、福音がまだまだ伝えられておらず、 全人口約25,000人がこの特定の言語グループにいます。
今、私達は、神様が私達の前に開いてくださった扉を通って歩んでいく時だと思います。 遅過ぎてしまう前に。
  銀行:Bendigo Bank,
  口座名:Go and Serve the Lord(Go-Serve)
  口座番号:114585805 BSB:633-000   「Tribe」と添え書きをお願いします
  詳しい情報は でご覧になれます。
  英語と日本語でこの証しは で見ることができます。

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Your Heavenly Father's Mind is Like a Chocolate Factory

My friend Jolon was thinking about how all of us often face problems in life sometimes due to our own mistakes or the mistakes of others - and my friend asked God what He thinks about it.

It was as if my friend was enabled to see into the mind of the Father. He said it was like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was like Christmas.

The mind of the Father is always delighted. He is always working all things together for good for those that love God.

That's what our heavenly Father thinks about our problems.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Benevolent Slavery

If I said I believe in slavery, you might be shocked.

But did you ever notice in the Law which God gave to Israel through Moses, that slavery was not criminalized?

Slavery itself was not outlawed. What mattered was how they did it. Moses wrote certain Laws regarding slavery which were ground-breaking for his times. Moses' slavery Laws ensured that slavery was profitable and compassionate for both the slaver-owner and the slave: it was a win-win situation.

That's different to the slavery laws that existed at various times outside of Israel. For example, we've often heard of situations in which a slave belonged permanently to his master - but under Moses' Law there was a definite time limit placed on the arrangement - seven years - unless the slave of his own free will chose to continue the arrangement permanently.

We've also heard of cruelty being inflicted on slaves by their owners - but in Moses' Law there were Laws covering the humane treatment of slaves including punishments against owners if they mistreated slaves.

We've also heard of slaves being exploited for the sole benefit of their owners - but under Moses' Law, certain provisions were put in place which ensured that the slave profited from the arrangement as well as the owner. And the owners were required to set their slaves up for the future.

Unlike our modern welfare systems which redistribute wealth from its rightful owners to the poor with no advantage to the owners, Moses' slavery Laws provided a way for the poor to get themselves out of financial trouble, and get set up for the future - at no cost to any segment of society. Rather, the arrangement benefited the wealthy also.

It's the word slavery which turns us off. So let's call it indentured service; or a workplace agreement.

I think it is consistent with the Biblical ideals of private property and compassion, to allow employers and employees to come into a mutually satisfying and profitable agreement of service.

As long as it's not against anyone's will. As long as it doesn't disadvantage any party financially. As long as the profit is mutual. As long as no-one gets mistreated. And as long as the employee or trainee is given the opportunity to be set up for the future and to be free to take a different path in future.

That's all Moses was really talking about. He called it slavery. We can call it something else if we want.

But the bottom line is that Moses gave the poor a chance to get ahead without it costing anyone else anything. They benefited from the arrangement too. That's God's way.

We can apply these principles to modern social security. A huge percentage of our GNP is spent on social welfare. Hard-earned funds are redistributed from their rightful owners to others, with no benefit to the rightful owners. A welfare-mentality is bred into the recipients, and the cycle goes downward.

Imagine if instead of a dole system, we allowed the poor to make agreements with employers which benefited both parties.

For example, I know some people who, for whatever reason, cannot settle into employment. They've lived on welfare for years. But I know that the same young people would cope much better if they were able to go to a family, and make themselves available to serve around the home or in the family business, and in return be paid not the award wage, but accommodation, clothing, food, training for the future, some sort of an allowance - and a sense of belonging and companionship.

Such an arrangemnent would be a win-win situation for all concerned. The family would benefit financially from his services. And he would benefit by feeling that he was employed instead of being the recipient of welfare.

Of course it would hopefully be only a temporary arrangement. The Prophets foresaw a day when through the Gospel slavery would be abolished. It is still God's wish that no-one need resort to slavery. But in the meantime, "the poor you have always with you" Jesus said - so thankfully there is provision for the poor in a way that doesn't inflict an injustice on the wealthy nor on the poor themselves.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kindergarten for a Hill Tribe

In November 2009 the Gold Coast Japanese Christian Church, Know Your Bible (Robina), and other individuals donated funds towards the construction of a kindergarten for an indigenous hill tribe on the island of Mindanao, Philippines.

Most of these mountain-top villages have no electricity or tap-water. Their ancestors have lived in the hills for generations. And most of the villages are animist.

But not too long ago one entire village believed the Gospel and were baptized.

The following is the remarkable story of how God revealed Himself through dreams to the village Chief, resulting in the conversion of the entire village.

It took our team five hours by bus, plus two hours on a motorcycle (with four of us on one motorcycle!), plus hours hiking on foot and crossing rivers on logs. It rained the whole time.

I was told I was the first foreigner ever to set foot in those mountains. So I expected the village people to look surprised when I arrived.

When we finally arrived, the Chief gathered the whole village together. But no-one looked surprised to see a foreigner.

So I asked my interpreter to ask the Chief if it’s really true that I was the first foreigner they’d seen. The following was the Chief’s fascinating reply:

“Many years ago we used to worship the spirits,” said the chief, “ The men used to spear each other, and had as many wives as we liked.

Then one day I had a dream in which somebody dressed in white appeared to me and said, ‘You better repent of what you are doing, and start worshipping the one true God in heaven’.

Then I was told in another dream to gather the whole village together and tell everyone to repent and start worshipping the one true God in heaven.

Then I was told in another dream to write down certain laws which the village was to live by.

And I was also told to build a building where the entire village could gather to worship the one true God in heaven.

The behavior of our village became so good that we gained the reputation of causing the least amount of trouble to the Government of any of the hill tribes. So much so that my name was changed to Datu Malinaw [which means, Chief Peace-Bringer].

"Then one day I got sick, and had to come down off the mountain into the lowlands to look for a doctor. And by chance, the first person I met happened to be a Pastor.
The Pastor took me into his house and showed me the Bible. I was amazed to discover in the Bible almost exactly the same words that had been told to me in the dreams. So I knew that the God who wrote the Bible is the same God who had revealed Himself to me in the dreams.

I invited the Pastor to come and live in the mountain, learn our language and teach us about God.

Finally I was told in another dream that someday white people will come from a faraway land and tell us more about what God wants us to do.

So no-one is surprised to see you - we’ve all been waiting for you,”
said the Chief.

Everyone gathered together, eagerly waiting to hear my message. We preached about Creation, sin and death, God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, Water Baptism and Receiving the Holy Spirit.

After I finished speaking, the chief dismissed all of the villagers from the house while the Elders had a closed discussion. Then after a short time he gathered everyone together again. The Tribal spokesman announced:

"The Elders have discussed the message which we all just heard, and have unanimously agreed that it is truly a message from God. Therefore, as of now, we all accept it."

In that way the whole village instantly accepted the Gospel and they also accepted the message about receiving the Holy Spirit.

But when it came to the message about water baptism, the Chief did not at first give permission for his people to be baptized.

"But if you'll help us build a new building for worship," he said, "then I'll allow the people to be baptized."

At first I felt unhappy with the Chief’s response regarding baptism - I felt that if his obedience to God was complete, he should be willing to submit to baptism irrespective of whether or not we agreed to help them with a new building.
But then the Lord softened my heart; He seemed to be impressing upon my heart:

“These tribal people don’t have legal title to the land which they’ve occupied for generations; they feel they are less formally-educated and less wealthy than lowlanders; and the Chief feels that by allowing his people to submit to baptism, he will be bringing his people into covenant with his visitors – so all he is doing is he is looking for a token of your sincerity – then he will feel sure he won’t be exposing his people to any risk of being exploited or driven off their land – and he will gladly submit to baptism”, the Lord seemed to be telling me.

So I shared my feelings with the others in our team, and one of our team immediately gave the Chief 100 pesos (which is only about five dollars). Then the Chief immediately gave permission for his people to be baptized. That was all it took – just a little token of our integrity, just five dollars. I was amazed!

We calculated it would cost only $1250 to construct a church-building, since all we'd need to do was buy corrugated roofing iron and cement and hire a chain-saw to cut wood from the jungle.

That seemed such a small price to pay in order to see an entire village baptized and following Jesus.

So when I got home to Australia, I told a Church about it, and while I was still speaking, the Pastor jumped up and grabbed the microphone off me, and said to the congregation:

"We'll take-up an offering on that straightaway – and whatever you give in the offering tonight, we'll match it dollar-for-dollar from existing church funds."

So in one offering almost the entire amount was raised.

We sent the money to the Philippines, and the new church-building was constructed – the whole building was made from beautiful Philippine mahogany.

Then the Chief came true to his word and he was baptized - he and his entire village – in one day, in the river.

At the opening Church service there were 1,300 people in attendance.

Since then, some of their young people have graduated from Bible College, and they have spread the Gospel to four neighbouring villages.

But there are many, many more villages in that particular Tribe which are yet to hear the Gospel. The total population of all the villages of this particular Tribe is approximately 25,000 people.

The total cost of constructing the kindergarten will be only $1500. Church-buildings can be constructed in neighbouring villages for approximately $2000. The reason it is so cheap is because land, wood and labour can be provided freely by the Tribe.

Through partnering with our Filipino workers in Christ, we could achieve seeing all 25,000 people brought to Christ.

But this opportunity won’t be there forever because, as roads and bridges are being built, the villages will become more and more accessible, and it may only be a matter of time before other religions seek to enter and proselytize.

So now is the time when we must walk through the open door which God has set before us before it is too late.

If anyone would like to contribute towards bringing Pastor Sinday from the Philippines to Australia to share the vision amongst interested groups, they may make a direct deposit at:

Name of Bank: Bendigo Bank
Account Name: Go and Serve the Lord (Go-Serve)
Account Number: 114585805
BSB: 633-000

Please include the reference: Tribe

For more information visit here or to view an English/Japanese video of this testimony visit here

Monday, November 23, 2009

Moses' Solution to the Current Financial Crisis

Many are thinking the current financial crisis is a tragedy which indicates that ours must be the last generation before Christ returns.

But I think the current financial crisis has the potential to bring-about some advantageous adjustments in our economic system, if we respond to it properly.

And I'm not talking about moving away from Capitalism/profit-making towards some sort of socialistic redistribution of wealth. Of course not! Many have argued that it was a socialistic redistributionist mentality that contributed to this economic crisis in the first place! Private property and profit-making (Capitalism) were entirely part of the economic system which God gave to Israel through Moses.

But there were a number of major differences between Moses' system and ours - and this is where we may be able to make some helpful adjustments.

For example, Moses allowed no interest to be charged within the economy, except to non-citizens.

If we started following that today, the boom-bust/inflation-recession economic cycle would become a thing of the past. The current economic crisis wouldn't be repeated.

Eliminating interest wouldn't stop financiers from supplying capital to entrepreneurs. Rather, it would encourage financiers to supply capital through partnerships rather than through lending. The shared risk/profit involved in partnership would motivate enhanced economic performance and growth.

In an economy without interest, some of our current wealth-creation strategies would change too.

For example, investing in real estate are requires instability in the economy (inflation) to force the 'value' of properties up so the property can then be sold at a profit. But in an economy with no interest, prices wouldn't rise, therefore a different value system would be required in order to see real estate as a profitable investment.

The economic stability created through eliminating interest would eliminate inflation - therefore house-prices wouldn't rise. The only way the value of a house would rise is if we actually did something to improve its physical value - such as by making it bigger, or improving its fixtures. In that case, when we later sold the house, it would be legitimate to make a profit by charging a higher price than what we paid for it, in consideration of all the improvements and labour we did.

Currently, many real-estate investors do nothing to physically improve the value of their properties, and yet they sell them at a higher price. In other words, the buyer is getting less house for his money than what the original owner got when he bought the same house. Instead of being a win-win situation with equal profiting, one person seeks to make a profit through the other person being less advantaged.

Many today are involved in wealth-creation strategies which hope for and depend upon that type of instability in their own economy. That's not the picture Moses was aiming for in his blueprint for society!

If we eliminated interest, there'd be no price rises, so the only way we could make money out of real estate would be by physically improving the property. This would stimulate economic activity.

The other way we could increase our wealth through real estate would be not to sell the properties, but to keep them and continue physically improving their value, and then pass them down the family-line.

Imagine if houses were built to last for generations. Imagine if each generation that inherited the family houses continued to physically improve their value before passing them onto the next generation. Each generation would make the houses bigger, better, they might add gold pathways, sapphire floor-tiles, silk curtains, gates of pearl, foundations of precious stones, etc. The extended family would continuously be increasing their wealth without selling, without profiting through someone else's comparative disadvantage, without contributing to inflation in the economy.

That's real, physical prosperity. Whereas when an economy is based on profit-making through selling assets whose physical value hasn't been improved, it's a phantom prosperity. It has to unravel eventually.

God planted a garden in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed. And God put gold and silver in the ground in the garden. I believe, given time, that Adam might have turned Eden into a replica of Paradise in heaven, with streets of gold and gates of pearl. Not so he could sell it - but so he could keep it, and keep improving it, and so manking could keep enjoying it perpetually.

That's another value-sytem with regard to wealth, even though it's entirely Scriptural and legitimate to seek profit through selling. When we profit through selling, we ought to want it to be done in a way that neither contributes to nor depends upon instability in the economy caused through price-rises which were caused by interest.

Moses did allow interest to be charged to non-citizens or to other nations. If we did that, our nation would have a continuous surplus of money flowing into the country rather than out of the country. That has obvious economic and military advantages.

So in conclusion, does Jesus have to come back in our generation, due to the current economic crisis? He could come back in our generation, but He doesn't have to just because of the current crisis. Rather, we can learn from it and make adjustments which may create greater wealth and safeguard us from being affected by future crises, should the Lord tarry.

But in any case, come Lord Jesus!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prosperity - Two Forgotten Keys

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD:

and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows in the hand of a mighty man;

so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:

they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate" Psalm 127:3-5)

There is a lot of good teaching around today about prosperity. Preachers take great delight in quoting passages from the Bible which promise prosperity, and enthusiastically apply these promises to their lives. They are happy to claim fiat money, houses, cars and clothes as examples of ways in which they can expect to prosper, based on these passages of Scripture - and there's nothing wrong with that.

But many of these same passages also talk about having large families - in terms of it being a blessing. So when was the last time you heard a prosperity preacher claim that particular "blessing"?

It seems we don't really consider it a blessing to have a large family nowadays, even though the Bible calls it a blessing. We've thought that to safeguard our prosperity, we better limit the number of children we have.

The church largely reflects the thinking of contemporary secular society, on this matter. But the Bible says that God's people ought to be blessed with greater fertility than non-covenant people!

Another way in which we differ from the Bible in modern society is in regard to inheritance. We consider it normal in our society for a newly married couple to have to spend half their working-life paying off the mortgage on a quarter-acre block. And then when their kids get married, they have to start from scratch as well, going into half a lifetime of debt - and we think that's normal.

It doesn't sound to me like that's what God had in mind. There has to be a better way.

The Bible says that His covenant people should be "above only and not beneath", the "head and not the tail", that we would "lend...and...not borrow".

How is this achievable? In this article I seek to illustrate how a return to old, Biblical values could vouchsafe prosperity to us, to our children and our children's children for generations to come. Children and inheritance (land) could be two keys to prosperity.


Imagine a young couple marrying at around age 21. Let's say the couple likes children and they end-up producing five children over the next say 21 years. Then imagine each of their children marries at around the age of 21 and has five children as well, over say the next 21 years. Then each of their grandchildren has five children over the following 21 years, and so on...

Considering each person lives between 70 and 80 years, and each person finds their spouse outside the family, after approximately 100 years there would be somewhere in the vicinity of 625 families with a total of 4,678 people. That's almost the population of the centre of Gatton, Queensland. All from one couple, in only 100 years!

Imagine the influence for good that an extended family of this size can have! That's influence. That's wealth. That's prosperity. That's blessing.

But how can couples afford a "large" family (of five) these days? Consider the following Biblical approach to inheritance as a possible answer.


Let's say, instead of purchasing a nice house in the City, the original couple are willing to go just a bit further out of town, and purchase a small house on inexpensive acreage - zoned rural or semi-rural. For about the same price as a nice house in the City, the couple can buy hundreds of acres - and some properties even already have multiple titles and dwellings.

"But who would want to live outside of the City?" Well remember that some people already have to drive 40-minutes to get to work anyway, even though they live in the City! So it's not all that different.

So the couple starts-out living in a small house - just a bit of a shack perhaps, with only one or two-bedrooms. Then as each of their children is born, they add an extra bedroom onto the house, as it's needed.

At a cost of between $600 - $2000 per square metre for an extension, the family can afford to save-up and probably pay cash for each extension without having to borrow money, when each new baby arrives.

As each new child comes along, the couple keeps extending the house, one room at a time, as they can afford it.

Then when the time comes when their firstborn gets married and moves out - a simple, inexpensive dwelling can be built for the young couple somewhere down the far end of the property, where they can live their own independent life.

As each child grows up and gets married, he prepares a dwelling for his bride, down one end of the family property.

The advantage for each of their kids is: they never have to buy land: they only need to build a small dwelling. To begin with, they would construct a simple one or two-bedroom home, at a cost of only about $28,000 after receiving the Government's $7,000first home-owner's grant.

Then as each of their children comes along, their house can be extended in stages as they can afford it, adding one extra room at a time - just like their parents did.

When their children grow up and marry, houses can be built for them also, on the property - and each of these houses is similarly extended in small stages to accommodate each child that comes along, and so on...

After approximately 100 years, there would now be around 625 houses on the property and each house would end-up having six bedrooms or more. That's a bit of a mansion!

At no stage would any of the children ever need to buy land, or ever need to borrow money from any financial institution outside the extended family. Each new home would be highly affordable, because the land is already owned by the extended family and because each family has the luxury of being allowed to start with a small structure which can be extended in stages as they can afford it.

Since they won't ever need to go to the Banks, a total of nearly $400 million in borrowings and interest can be saved by the extended family over the 100-year period.

And that figure is not even considering that by 100 years, some families wouldn't need to build at all, as a number of houses would by then have become available for inheritance.

But even if each new couple borrowed money for each stage of building, at no time would they ever need to borrow more than approximately $12,000 (compare that with the average mortgage in the City).

And consider quality of life. If the original couple had bought say 1000 acres, and the land now has 625 houses on it, that means each house would have its own one-and-a-half acre block. That's seven times the size of most residential blocks in the City.

And there would still be 62.5 acres of spare land remaining, which could be developed into parks, walking tracks, a lake, farms, family businesses, roadways or a community centre.

And all of it would be owned by the extended family! The fathers would be able to look out over the estate saying, "How's the serenity!"

The financial burden on couples to borrow money from outside the family is eliminated. Land was only purchased once. Money was never borrowed from a Bank to build the houses.

All this is possible simply by each family having five children and by following the Biblical inheritance pattern in which rural land, once inherited, could never be sold outside the Tribe. Real Estate in the City could be sold, but rural land always stayed in the Tribe - it could be leased, but never sold.

Population + land = influence = power = prosperity.

In this way, one man can become a village or a township of 625 families totalling 4,678 people.

God's plan was for a man to become a family, for families to become a tribe, and for tribes to become a nation.

In 100 years, the City will have grown out to meet the land which was once a 40-minute drive from the City, so by then the 1000-acre estate will have city value. And in the mean time, the family isn't too inconvenienced because, like I said, many people living in the City are already driving 40-minutes to get to work anyway.

Adapting the Principles

Sounds good. But of course it's a bit idealistic and there are reasons why it probably wouldn't work-out exactly like that in practice - and we're probably not meant to try to follow it to the letter either.

However, the model serves, in an over-the-top sort of way, to illustrate concepts which could be a blessing to us, even if we only adopted some of them to a small extent.

There are some principles in it which I think are worth considering. Maybe some couples could apply parts of it, in varying degrees - depending on what's appropriate to each family's unique calling, circumstances and culture.

As Paul said: "Every man has his proper gift of God." We're not all called to do the same thing in life, nevertheless we can each trust God to prosper us despite the varying sacrifices of our callings.

One reason why it wouldn't always happen exactly like that is because not every child will stay in the vicinity of their parents: some will become more closely connected to their spouse's side of the family; others will move away to follow a call of God, or for education, career, or missions, or simply to feel more independent.

Statistically however, a large number of children do end-up living close to the vicinity of their parents.

Even if just half or a third of the couple's 4,678 descendants stayed somewhere on or near the original estate, that's still 2,339 or 1,559 people.

A man with this many descendants in one Shire is still considered a man of considerable influence - not to mention that his children who have moved away will be a blessing wherever they are as well.

Even considering two-thirds of the children will end-up moving away, the model is still financially beneficial, in the following ways:

The ownership of the land always stays in the extended family.

So each individual family, even when they move away, remains a perpetual joint-heir to the land, no matter what.

Each family would still individually own both a share in the land plus they would own outright and individually any improvements they had personally built on the family land.

For example, if they'd built a house, they can continue to derive an income from it by letting it, or they could use its collateral.

The point is that each family, even if they move away, is given a tremendous head-start in life, by the opportunity to own land and house pretty-much debt-free, back at "home".

Blessed to Be a Blessing

4678 people. Imagine the influence for good that a man can have through having this many descendants. What a blessing!

The above calculations are based on five children per family - because five children per couple was the average fertility rate in Australia in the 50's, before the introduction of the contraceptive pill.

But since we believers are covenant people and have the promise of becoming "blessed above all people round about" us, therefore we can reasonably expect to have even more than five children per family.

(Fertility is a blessing, according to the Bible).

So let's say each generation, instead of having five children, ends-up being blessed with the average fertility rate that existed in Australia in the 1800's - which was eight children per couple.

The population after 100 years would now be 42,000 (instead of 4,678 if they only had five children).

That's a town bigger than Mt Isa, Queensland; or about the size of the City of Armidale, NSW.

Imagine the combined economic power of an extended family this size!

(Townships of a similar size already contribute a sizable percentage of Queensland's overall Gross State Product).

Now consider if, instead of five or eight children, each family had the same number of children with which the Lord blessed Jacob - that is,12 children.

The result after a hundred years would be almost a half million people, or more than the population of the entire Gold Coast, or about 12% of Queensland's total population, in just 100 years!

All from one couple.

Then imagine if not just one couple but every Christian couple was similarly blessed.

If you want to talk about church growth, or revival - that's a pretty effective strategy right there!

I'll show you some figures on that further down.

(Christians ought to be more fertile than non-covenant people!)

But considering one family for now, and for the sake of being conservative, let's use the lower figure of only five children, and let's only count one-third of his 4,678 descendants since two-thirds could move away - which comes to 1,559 people.

Imagine the influence that a family of 1,559 people can have in its local Shire (ignoring the influence the other two-thirds of the family will have wherever they go).

This number of people - 1,559 people - belonging to one extended family, is a significant enough number to be able to influence the morals, faith, law, government, business, education, health, arts, media, and religion of their particular Shire.

That amount of influence sounds like prosperity to me.

Do the maths and find out how many descendants a couple will have if each generation only had two kids instead of five. You'll be shocked how big the difference is after 100 years.

And then do the Maths and see how many descendants there'll be if each generation has only 1.79 children (the national average in Australia at the time of writing).

As you'll see if you do the Maths, the couple will eventually reach a point where the population starts going down, and finally, will breed itself out of existence.

That trend is already happening in most developed countries.

Is that what God wants for you?

God's will for Israel was that they become as numerous as the sand on the sea, or as the stars in the heavens.

Nevertheless, God promised: "More are the children of the desolate than of the married woman".

And, "I will give them a place and a name in my house better than of sons and daughters".

God makes the desolate woman a "joyful mother of children".

Abraham only had one son who was his heir - yet God made him a father of many nations.

Paul called Timothy, "My own son in the faith" and he said of the Corinthian church, "I myself have begotten you through the Gospel".

So spiritual children are of the essence, and the real tallying of a man's prosperity will take place only in eternity in the Kingdom of heaven.

Notwithstanding, a man's natural children are like arrows in the hand of the mighty, and happy is the man that has his quiver full of them.

Lifestyle Advantages

Besides wealth and influence, consider some advantages of this lifestyle to the family itself:

•Each young family receives support from the collective wisdom of the older families. The elders are available to give guidance whenever it is asked for by younger families.

•Children can safely play outside until late afternoon without their parents ever worrying where their children are - because after all, they'd be with relatives!

•The property could include trees, wetlands, grazing paddocks and agricultural areas promoting a a non-toxic environment and yielding healthier nutrition.

•Fathers bring-up their children in the ways of the Lord, and the children pass it onto the children's children.

•God's blessing abides on each family because they continually obey His principles in matters of faith and morals - and in physical things as well.

I'm not sure if any statistics are available which tell us the percentage of children of Christian homes who continue serving the Lord throughout their adult life.

Let's assume conservatively that only half of this family's descendants will remain active Christians in adult life. That's still a sizeable number of church members being contributed from one extended family!

As for the half who may not remain active Christians, most of them would still hold to the general values instilled in them by their Christian parents. So either way, the family makes a valuable contribution to future society through all of its children.

Hopefully an environment will have been created where many of the new families will see clear advantages to preserving the family's values on faith. And many of the children will see advantages to staying on or near the family Estate.

A Perpetual Inheritance

The land itself would be owned by a Family Trust, with each descendant becoming a beneficiary.

The value of the land could be used as collateral for outside investment, with the profits of that outside investment coming back into a growing Fund, the profits of which could be made available to the beneficiaries.

So each individual remains a beneficiary of the family Trust, even if they move away to do missionary work, or for business, or for education, or simply for greater independance.

Even if a family moves away and buys a house or apartment in the City somewhere, they would always have the assurance of knowing they own their share of the family estate in Trust.

And any improvements they personally make on the family property would be continue to be their own private title.

Only the land itself would remain in Trust. But the improvements would be privately owned.

The land itself would never be sold, but would be held in Trust as a perpetual family inheritance for generations to come.

But any privately-owned improvements on the land (houses) could be leased outside the family.

This means that each family who chooses to stay on the family estate has complete independence. It is not "communal" living that is being envisaged here, for God said, "Therefore shall a man LEAVE his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh".

Each family has separate ownership of their own house and they can either live in it themselves or let it.

But it means that each new family doesn't have to start from scratch and spend half their working life paying off a mortgage on a quarter-acre block - because the land is already there.

Each family has the option of building their first home without having to pay a thing for land. They can build their nest on the land which is their family inheritance.

Of course not every descendant would want to build their first home there, but the option is always there, if it suits them. Even if they never choose to build their home there, they remain a beneficiary of the land itself because it is held in Trust.

Of course there are so many reasons why this is impractical if we tried to apply it to the letter to our family.

That's because Moses' Law that tribal land had to remain a perpetual inheritance was not a blueprint for each new family that ever started in Israel - Moses was founding a new nation, so his statement is probably meant to be understood on a tribal or national level, rather than on an individual or family level. So that's a bit of a disclaimer, or a caution not to try apply the letter of the Law in a way that perhaps wasn't intended and that may not be required of us under a new and better covenant.

But sometimes God likes to start whole new "nations" from within an existing nation. He has promised to do it for Abraham, therefore He has promised to make a nation of you and I too - because we are in Christ, and Christ is the seed of Abraham.

What if God wanted to make of a family a tribe and of a tribe a nation, even today?

Taking it to a National Level

Let's see what would happen if not just one couple - but believers in Christ all over the country - adopted this lifestyle.

If we achieved Christian women becoming the most fertile 20% of women in the country, then as early as the second generation one half of all the children in the country will belong to Christian families.

That's quite a statement. It's called the law of Heritability of Fertility. It works like this, and I quote from David Burbridge:

"...suppose that out of every 10 women in the present generation, 3 have no children, 3 have one child, 2 have 2 children, 1 has 3 children, and 1 has 4 children.

The total number of children is 14, and the average per woman is 1.4 [which is about how it many developed countries. In Australia it has recently risen to 1.797 - J.E.].

Now suppose that...every female has as many children as her own mother.

On these assumptions the average number of children born to each female of the second generation will be 2.57

Average fertility has almost doubled in a generation.

This largely reflects the fact that in this model the most fertile 20% of women contribute half of all the children in the second generation (7 out of every 14), and we assume that the daughters from these families inherit their mothers’ high fertility."

- David Burbridge

Notice that half of the children in the second generation come from the most fertile 20% of women.

(Second Generation 0 + 3 + 4 + 9 +16 = 32 children. 16 out of 32 come from the top 20% most fertile women.)

If those most fertile 20% of women in the country happen to be Christian women, then half the country's children will come from Christian homes, in the second generation.

Is this achievable? Could Christian women become the most fertile women in the country? Can half the nation's children come from Christian homes by the second generation?

It's really a matter of choice for the Church in Australia - and a matter of our values.

"The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it."

And you know what - we talk about wanting to reverse abortion laws - well there's one way we can achieve it within a couple of short generations. All we need to do is say nothing, and simply lift our own birthrate. 50% of the country's voters could be our own descendants, after the second generation grows up, after our women become the top 20% most fertile in the country. No political activism would be necessary.

Evangelical Church Growth

Let's look at some figures relating to the Church in Australia, and see what can happen.

Approximately 32.25% of Australia's population are females within the ages of 21 and 42; and approximately 2.9% of Australia's population are Pentecostal and Evangelical believers.

If each Pentecostal and Evangelical family produced an average of five children per couple, whilst the rest of Australia continued producing at the current national average of 1.797 per couple - within approximately 50 years the women of these Pentecostal and Evangelical families will become the top 20% most fertile women in the country.

So in the generation after that, half of all the children born in Australia will belong to Pentecostal and Evangelical Christian families.

That means, in approximately 100 years, about three-quarters of all the nation's children would be from Pentecostal and Evangelical families!

Then, in a democracy, Christians would have the voting majority to reverse or enact any laws they like.

Assemblies of God

Now let's narrow it down even more to just one denomination. Consider the Australian Assemblies of God (AOG), for example.

If every new couple of each generation in the Australian Assemblies of God alone had five children, after 100 years the denomination would have a total of 16,366,875 new members, comprising of 2,015,625 new families, living in 3,225 family estates like new "villages" spread out all over Australia.

That's not even including the results of church growth through evangelism.

Between them, a combined $1.29 trillion would be saved through not needing to borrow and pay interest - money which could be invested in the Kingdom of God or which could contribute to their own prosperity as well.

If ever there was a country in the world that has the space for this, it's Australia.

God has promised to turn the desert into a fruitful field when the nation meets the conditions.

We haven't even begun to see the prosperity that God has planned for His servants in this country!

National Fertility Improves Prosperity

So that illustrates how raising the birthrate can be great for our country spiritually.

Fertility can also be beneficial for families financially, as follows:

The fertility rate in most developed countries is currently below the replacement level (in Australia it is 1.797 babies per couple).

This means we have an ageing population with fewer people in the working age bracket to support the aged population, causing an increasing strain on the economy.

But if we lift the birthrate we will have more young people in the working age bracket and a larger labour force to derive the highest possible benefit out of our rich natural resources.

Governments of developed countries including Australia are now starting to offer incentives to couples to have more children, because economists understand the importance that lifting the birthrate has to our future prosperity.

In short, if we lift the national birthrate, we will all actually be better off!

This is the exact opposite pathway to prosperity that many of us were told, since the introduction of the contraceptive pill in the 50's. We were told that the Pill would safeguard the prosperity of our children when, in fact, economically, our nation's low fertility rate is now threatening our children's and our own future prosperity.

" thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa.55:8,9).

Returning to Old Values

Obviously the picture painted above is very Utopian and a bit larger-than-life and probably impractical and probably isn't exactly the way the Bible is meant to be applied. I've made the illustration deliberately extreme, in order to demonstrate the far-reaching effects that some of its principles and core values can have.

Perhaps there is some basis in Scripture for us to have a change of values.

The Bible says that influence can be achieved and material prosperity can be measured by two things: children and land.

Of course great ministers like Paul and John Wesley who had no children, have been of unsurpassed influence. So wealth and influence can never be measured by children and land alone. Each of us has his proper gift of God.

Some will make their mark for eternity through being separated to apostleship. Others will make their mark for eternity through raising their own children. Some may be do a mixture of both. There is any number of varieties in the grace and callings of God.

For many of us in post-modern society though, it may require a paradigm shift - a re-evaluation of values - to think that wealth can sometimes be measured by children and land, rather than by jewelery, cars or even by the amount of spare time that we have.

The above model is extreme - but deliberately so - because it illustrates how we today are actually living with the opposite extreme sense of values - and maybe it's time for a change.

Maybe we don't have to swing back to the opposite extreme - but to swing back somewhere towards the middle might be good for our society, and for the church, and for our family.

There has to be a better way than for each new family to have to spend half their working-life paying off the mortgage on a quarter-acre block of land!

And I'm yet to meet the mother of a large family who looks unhappy!

Maybe we could apply the Bible's principle that tribal land was to remain a perpetual inheritance of families, at least to some extent, and of course with some variation.

Maybe it could make the "Australian Dream" to own your own home that much easier on each successive generation.

Children are a heritage from the Lord - a blessing, and not an obstacle to our prosperity.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God"

- Romans 12:1,2

Making it Easier for the Next Generations

As conceded above, inevitably many descendants would move away to live in other places, for education and career, or in order to fulfill a call of God.

However, no matter where each person ends-up living, he would know that he always has a place to call home and a house of his own, back on the land which remains his perpetual family inheritance - land which may be leased, but never sold.

This would be a lavish foundation and a huge load off the shoulders indeed, for any young couple starting out in life together.


I once visited an elderly Filipino couple in Brisbane, and on their lounge room wall were individually framed photos of the couple and of each of their twelve children.

One-by-one the man pointed-out with pride what each child is now doing.

One is a Pastor in Norway.

Another is a Pastor in Manila and Founder/Principal of a school with 700 students.

Now he's sending church-planters out.

Another founded a humanitarian aid program in Australia benefiting the Philippines.

Another has an itinerant ministry training children's workers.

Another lives in and works in America.

One-by one he told me what each of his children are now doing, and I couldn't help thinking, "Here is a man of influence!"

He said to me, "I can't understand why Australians say they can't afford more children. If I could bring-up twelve children in a poor country like the Philippines [and they adopted one too], surely they can do it here in Australia".

I asked, "But in the Philippines, don't you have help from your extended family to look after all those kids?"

"No!" he said, "We raised them all ourselves. Sure - I had to work a second job at times. But we got through - the Lord got us through."

Neither he nor his wife seemed worse for the wear, and again - I couldn't help thinking, here is a man of influence.

His wife is like a matriarch who exercises her prophetic gift and gift of tongues and interpretation to speak to and intercede for all her family.

It's marvellous!

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Another couple who wanted to become missionaries already had two children when, after a significant gap, she became pregnant again with their third.

They told me how their Pastor, trying to be helpful, had advised them not to have any more children.

So when he heard she was pregnant again, he said with exasperation, "How will you ever have a world-wide ministry? Now you'll have to wait even longer for all your kids to be off your hands!"

I simply asked, "Would you say Benny Hinn has a worldwide ministry?" then pointed-out that he has four children.

See, you can still influence the world, even when you have a large family.

In fact, what better way to influence the world than through the lives of your children, whom you have with you full-time all those years.

Sometimes people say they want to have fewer children so they can give more time to ministry.

Every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner and one after that.

But keep in mind than when you minister to others - let's say as a Youth Pastor - very often what you end-up doing is contributing some things into the lives of kids which really their own parents should have contributed.

Therefore perhaps a good strategy for youth ministry in our nation would be for our own families to begin to model a return to more traditional values.

Sure the couple mentioned above may need to adjust the way they operate in the ministry at times, now that they have an extra child.

Perhaps they could train local leaders to share the work of evangelism.

Or they could add a TV ministry, if the Lord willed.

That way they could widen their influence without being away from home so much.

Besides, why does a couple always need to wait for their children to be grown up before they can go to the mission field anyway?

It occurred to me one day that there are already children living in those countries where we want to go as missionaries - lots of children, lots of them. If the children there are surviving, then surely our children will too - and even more so, because we have the promises of God on our side!

It amazes me that some believers have the faith to feed multitudes on the mission field, yet they find the concept so impossible that a large family could become a missionary family.

The first thing they say is, "How could we afford it?" And yet they propose to teach the locals on the mission field about trusting God to get them out of poverty.

Moses looked-after an estimated two million people in the howling wilderness for 40 years. That's one large family!

I recently heard about an Australian family with six children who have gone to flood-ravaged Mozambique to minister amongst orphans. Not only do they have faith for their own children there, but they have begun to foster local children as well.

What message are we missionaries going to take to the mums and dads in these countries anyway - that my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus? and yet we're reluctant to demonstrate faith in that promise in our own family's lives.

God can look after your kids on the mission field just as well as He can look after the kids you're going to minister to.

But of course, God may strategically lead a missionary family to return home, for the sake of their kids.

Each of us needs to hear from the Holy Spirit concerning his plans for us individually.

But can you see that maybe we're having difficulty seeing the advantages that the Bible places on having a large family?

Are Large Families Disadvantaged?

Children of larger families seem to have a stronger sense of identity and belonging.

And it doesn't seem to disadvantage them socially or financially.

For example, my father knows a man on the Gold Coast who has ten children, and nine of them have become millionaires and the tenth is on her way!

Issues & Considerations

Could Australia's future prosperity be impacted by whether or not society adjusts its view about having more children?

Many have thought they could safe-guard their standard of living by restricting the number of children they had. And with the introduction of the Contraceptive Pill in the 1950's, the fertility rate plummeted from an average of 5.0 per couple to the 1.797 it is today.

It's beginning to make a serious financial drain on our economy. Sociologists are therefore asking whether the ideology has backfired on us.

• We are not even replacing ourselves.

•We now have an ageing population and a diminishing workforce that will be unable to sustain the way of life that society has become used to. Eventually the population will start declining - yet we already have a shortage of skilled labour in Australia and already need workers to come from abroad.

Many of us complain about immigration, because we don't know what sort of people are coming here or what problems they bring with them.

A simple solution for Australia is, have more kids! That way we know what we're getting.

At the end of the day, people means power, for any economy - despite the vastness of its natural resources.

Even though it seemed we could give a better quality of life to our children by having fewer children, that is actually not a sustainable situation beyond a couple of generations.

Plus - has it really been a significantly better quality of life for our children anyway?

Large families seem to enjoy happy memories.

Could we as a society benefit from a return to the old sense of values - that sees having more children as a good thing?

Worldwide Trends

Declining birth rates are happening in most of the developed, democratic, Western societies - such as the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Europe - all the countries that have traditionally been the bastions of democracy, human rights, civil liberty, international security, and faith in Christ.

These are the Allied countries which, because of their ideology and faith, were able to save the world from evil during the First and Second World Wars - but only just, because of their numbers.

These are the countries from which most missionary work and humanitarian work has emanated.

On top of the lowering birth rate, these countries also have the highest abortion rates in the world (Australia has one of the highest abortion rates in the developed world).

Meanwhile, it is the Muslims and Hindus in Australia that continue to have a high fertility rate.

The Muslim population of Australia increased at a rate five times higher than Australia's overall population growth, in the period between the last two censuses. This applies similarly to Muslims all over the world, not just in Australia.

For example, in both Israel and Russia, the Muslim population will reach more than 50% within our lifetime, if the current trends continues. Jews could lose their rights through democracy, without one bullet even being fired, unless Jewish women raise their birthrate to match that of the Palestinians.

So what could Australia's and the World's demographics look like in a couple of hundred years - politically, socially, ideologically, economically, domestically, internationally, and religiously - if the current way of thought concerning the value of children in these countries continues??

As our Western countries spiral downwards towards the point of negative population growth, would we be able to once again stem the tide of evil, should another worldwide conflict break out?

What's at risk is human rights, freedom, civil liberty, and Christian society.

All because we though we were better off to have fewer kids.

I'm wondering whether we could enhance our future prosperity in Australia by having more children - even of it means adjusting one's view of what really constitutes a better standard of living.

This doesn't mean that every couple, even with God's blessing, should produce some 20,000 offspring within approximately 100 years because "...every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that" (I Cor.7:7).

But perhaps if more Christians decided to have a more natural number of children, there would be a future benefit to Australia's way of life both economically and religiously - as each child grows and takes their place in future society.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts"

- Isa.55:8,9

It seems to be the white, "Christian" societies that are having fewer children. Meanwhile some white people complain about their Government's policy of foreign immigration. Could one solution be to simply have more kids themselves?

In Moses' Law, God gave a pattern for family land ownership similar to what's been described above. God also imprinted his plan for childbirth in nature itself - and we interfere with it to our own detriment, as sociologists and doctors are now discovering.

Mothers of large families invariably have a glow of happiness and fulfillment on their face.

The list of possible side-effects that accompany the contraceptive Pill is of some concern. Not that I'm saying it's wrong.

Some articles also claim the contraceptive pill may act as an abortificient up to 80% of the time (by preventing an egg which may already have been fertilized from successfully embedding into the uterine wall). If we believe life begins at conception, surely for conscience sake, that is a claim we ought to want to research.

Many of us wish there was more we could do to stop abortion in our country. A simple way to eliminate abortion within a short period of time is for Christians to lift their own fertility rate. (The birthrate in Western countries is below the replacement level. This means they are breeding themselves out of existence. If Christians lift their birthrate, all those who practise abortion will, in process of time, be a diminishing population. Abortion is a self-enacted judgment, because it robs those who practise it of a posterity. In no time, Christians will become a voting majority Abortion could be illegalized without any political activism - simply by lifting our own birthrate.).

God's plan was that a man would become a family, a family would become a tribe, and that a nation would be made up of tribes - and He is still into making nations out of us!

More importantly, by our spiritual children - but remember, our natural children can become our spiritual children, and become like arrows in the hand of the mighty.

Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them.