Why do we meet Sunday? part 2

November 12th, 2010

Thanks to Luisa for pointing out the connection to Pentecost.

Acts 20:7 has more in it than initially meets the eye.  But we don’t see it because we have no background.  Let’s look at the words in question.  First, here is the verse from the King James as we are used to it:

Act 20:7  And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

Notice first of all that the word “day” is italicized.  It is not in the Greek.  It should read “first of the week”, except that “week” in the Greek is plural, according to Robinson’s morphological tags:

[*Robinson*]
Part of Speech: definite arTicle
Case: Genitive
Number: Plural
Gender: Neuter

So it should read “first of the weeks”.  Looking through all the translations in our Bible study program, we find Godbey’s translation has a different reading:

7 And on the first of the Sabbaths we being assembled to break bread, Paul spoke to them, being about to depart the following day, and continued his discourse till midnight:

Where does Godbey get “Sabbaths” from?  First let’s look at Strong’s for this verse:

Act 20:7  AndG1161 uponG1722 theG3588 firstG3391 day of theG3588 week,G4521 when theG3588 disciplesG3101 came togetherG4863 to breakG2806 bread,G740 PaulG3972 preachedG1256 unto them,G846 readyG3195 to departG1826 on theG3588 morrow;G1887 andG5037 continuedG3905 his speechG3056 untilG3360 midnight.G3317

“Week” is G4521:

G4521
σάββατον
sabbaton; of Heb. or. H7676; the Sabbath, i.e. the seventh day (of the week): - Sabbath (58), Sabbaths (1), week (9).

So this word “Weeks” is also translated “Sabbaths” when plural (Acts 17:2).  And why would that be important?  Going back a verse to 20:6 we read:

Act 20:6  And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

So they had been at Philippi for Passover and the feast of unleavened bread, spent the next week traveling, and the week after that in Troas.  From Passover to Pentecost is seven weeks and a day (50 days, Penta is five).

Let’s go to Wikipedia and look up Pentacost:

Pentecost is historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, which commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus.

Pentacost is Shavuot.  Let’s look up Shavuot in Wikipedia:

Shavuot (or Shavuos , in Ashkenazi usage; Shavuʿoth in Classical and Mizrahi Hebrew Hebrew: שבועות‎, lit. “Weeks”)

In the Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks (Hebrew: חג השבועות, Ḥag ha-Shavuot, Exodus 34:22 , Deuteronomy 16:10 ); Festival of Reaping (Hebrew: חג הקציר, Ḥag ha-Katsir, Exodus 23:16 ), and Day of the First Fruits (Hebrew יום הבכורים, Yom ha-Bikkurim, Numbers 28:26 ). The Mishnah and Talmud refer to Shavuot as Atzeret (Hebrew: עצרת, a solemn assembly), as it provides closure for the festival activities during and following the holiday of Passover. Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Hellenistic Jews gave it the name Pentecost (πεντηκοστή, “fiftieth day“).

So Shavuot is “Weeks”, or the “Festival of Weeks”.   If we understood Jewish holidays and the feasts, this would be easier.  Godbey is correct to use “Sabbaths”, and Luke is counting off the weeks until Pentecost.  Luke still puts the day as the first, so it is the beginning of Sunday (our Saturday evening) but it’s not just noted because it’s Sunday.

Why do we meet Sunday?

November 9th, 2010

The question has come up probably millions of times over the centuries, Why do we meet on Sunday?, and has been answered as many millions of times in many ways.  But for us today, not having heard the question before, nor having heard the answers, it is as fresh as the first time it was asked.  This is not a history of Sunday vs. Saturday in the church, that is well beyond my learning, and others have done a better job.  This is a review of the so called “proof texts” of Christendom used to rationalize, justify, or excuse, not following the Sabbath as spelled out in the Law.  Few commandments are so clearly defined by God, with such importance as the Sabbath, few commandments make the Top Ten, in fact only ten.  Yet there it is, proclaiming its importance through its position.  How we managed to stray so far from it to pass laws prohibiting trade on Sunday would be yet another depressing study that we won’t be making right now.So what are these proof texts?  I haven’t consulted any commentaries, at least not yet, to see what the historical ones are.  I will just start by looking up “first day” in the New Testament and seeing what I find. 

Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

Jesus had been put in the tomb three days earlier (on Wednesday evening.  I will here resist the temptation to branch off into the topic of how one can get three days out of Friday and Saturday) .  Since the Jewish day starts at sunset, He was in the tomb Thursday (Wednesday night and Thursday day), Friday (Thursday night and Friday day), and Saturday (Friday night and Saturday day).  He arose Saturday evening at sunset.  If we have trouble accepting a resurrection Saturday night because we can’t picture Jesus wandering around in the Garden for the whole night by Himself with nothing to do while he waited for Mary to show up the next morning, we have a much too limited view of Christ as God.  I’m sure that Christ had a productive night.  Regardless, Mary shows up Sunday morning, the first day of the week.  Actually it is well into the first day of the week as the first day of the week is already half over by the time she gets there.  If we really met on the first day of the week we should meet on Saturday evening.  Our lack of familiarity with Jewish thinking, and the dates of the Passover makes the passage difficult for us.

John 20:19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

This would have been Sunday evening because it was the same day, “that day”, that Mary had met Jesus in the garden.  The disciples at this point were not yet meeting on any day of the week, they were hiding.  Jesus had risen, they were told, but they had not seen him yet.  He appears among them to reveal to them all that He was indeed risen.  The fact that it was Sunday evening was not a result of a new custom, but of the timing of the events.  To make a precedent that now Sunday supersedes the Torah can’t be done from this verse.  And why is the Torah important?  Because these “Christians” are Jews, raised under the Torah, and knowing nothing else.  To meet on another day would not have crossed their minds.

 

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.

 We might think that Paul had met with the Christians at Troas on Sunday morning, the first day of the week, but since the day started at sunset, and since the text mentions that he preached all night until morning, we realize that Paul had started preaching in the evening, and since the day starts at evening, he preached all Saturday night.  The case could be made here that since these were Jews, they had met Saturday evening because the Passover was finished and they were free to travel and so came together to see Paul off.  The Torah limits the distance one can travel on the Sabbath.  Whatever the reason, there is no mention that this was their regular meeting time, although it could have been.  It is only mentioned that they met at this time because Paul was leaving the next day.

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

This is a traditional request to take up an offering.  There is no inference that it is to be done during a meeting of the church on the first day of the week, unless someone forced it on the text.  Since the Jews are prohibited by Torah from commerce during the Sabbath, I would not be surprised if Paul was simply operating within Jewish custom and suggesting that they set aside money at the first allowable time after Sabbath to do so.  Again, a large part of “Christianity” is Jewish at this time, in spite of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles.  We forget that Paul always made a point of first going to the Jews in the Synagogue wherever he went.We have run out of “first day” verses, so let’s expand to see if “day” yields any more texts:

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts

Acts 5:42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 6:1 Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.

Acts 16:5 So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

In all these references, the Jews (and Gentiles) are meeting every day.  Perhaps we should meet daily.  It would do us good.  Notice several other things while we are here:  they met in the temple courts, where the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost (not in the upper room, as we believe), they met not only in the temple, but in their homes, the original Home Groups.  They ministered to the poor daily.  They taught and gained members daily.  And they studied the scriptures daily.So why do we meet on Sunday?  The reason must be historical, in the sense of happening later in time than the early church, because it certainly isn’t scriptural.  The history of the change must wait for another study on another day.

Replacement Theology

March 6th, 2010

It is somehow believed by some Christians that we are replacements for the Israelite family because of the rejection of Christ by some Israelites.  This is called Replacement Theology and has been in the church since early church decades.  Why Christians feel a need to replace Israel will have to be the subject of another study, but here is some material if you are interested:

http://www.therefinersfire.org/replacement_theology.htm

In Romans 11 Paul points out to the Romans that we are branches that have been grafted into the tree.  Replacement theology would tell us that we are grafted in place of the Israelites.

Rom 11:17  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,

Does it say anything about “in place of” ?  Paul says “some”, not “all”, were broken off.  We don’t get a picture of the entire top of the tree being sawn off and God starting over, as He threatened to do with Moses (Exodus 32:10).  No, God is not finished with Israel yet, or ever, for Revelations says:

Rev 21:10  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
Rev 21:11  having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.
Rev 21:12  It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

If God is finished with Israel, why will we spend eternity in a city built with the names of the tribes of Israel on its gates?  No, God will punish Israel for their unbelief, but He has promised them:

 Deu 4:30  “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.

See what Ephesians 3:6 says about our status alongside believing Jews:

Eph 3:6  to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,

Let’s look at the Greek words used here.  We find some interesting information about the three words describing our standing alongside Israel:

We are fellow heirs:

G4789
συγκληρονόμος
sugklēronomos
soong-klay-ron-om’-os
From G4862 and G2818; a co-heir, that is, (by analogy) participant in common: - fellow (joint) -heir, heir together, heir with.

We are FELLOW heirs, not THE heirs.  We should be thankful we have been invited into an inheritance along with Israel.

We are fellow members of the body:

G4954
σύσσωμος
sussōmos
soos’-so-mos
From G4862 and G4983; of a joint body, that is, (figuratively) a fellow member of the Christian community: - of the same body.

We and believing Jews are of the same body, as Paul says in Romans:

Rom 10:12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;
Rom 10:13  for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

We are fellow partakers

G4830
συμμέτοχος
summetochos
soom-met’-okh-os
From G4862 and G3353; a co-participant: - partaker.

So we are joint heirs or co-heirs, of the same body, and co-partakers.  What a difference from replacing Israel: we are brothers to the Israelites, receiving the same inheritance from the Father as they.  Praise God.

Thanks to Pastor Melissa Scott for her introduction to this verse.

Tithing in the Old Testament

January 24th, 2010

We are regularly reminded of only one Old Testament scripture on tithing, Malachi 3:8.  Since this verse is addressed to the nation of Israel, and admonishes them to obey the laws on tithing set down in the Pentateuch, I began to wonder what it was that God had said to Israel about tithing.  So after a bit of searching with E-Sword (great program) I found lots of interesting things that I had never heard before.  Let’s start with a review of Malachi 3:8:

3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.  9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.  10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.  11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts.  12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.

Interestingly, the tithe referred to here is food.  As we read through the verses on tithing we will see that God defined the tithe as a tenth of the increase of the land.  Next we see that God is speaking to the nation as a whole,  He will bless the whole nation of Israel, which He certainly did at times.  The nation being addressed at this point was the remnant that had come back to Jerusalem after the exile

But back to the topic:  what does the Old Testament say about tithing?   Starting in Leviticus:

Lev 27:30  ‘Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S; it is holy to the LORD.
Lev 27:31  ‘If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it.
Lev 27:32  ‘For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD.
Lev 27:33  ‘He is not to be concerned whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; or if he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall become holy. It shall not be redeemed.’”

So Israel tithes on the increase of the land.  What about the  results of buying and selling, or profits from manufacture of goods?  One would assume so, since we are taxed on them, but Jewish commentary indicates that other activities were exempt.  This would go along with the purpose of the tithe, which was to provide for the poor, the Levites, and the feasts.  These three purposes needed primarily food.

Leviticus says nothing more on the the tithe.  We have to go to Numbers 18:

Num 18:20  Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.
Num 18:21  “To the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting.

Num 18:24  “For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, ‘They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.’”
Num 18:25  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 18:26  “Moreover, you shall speak to the Levites and say to them, ‘When you take from the sons of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the LORD, a tithe of the tithe.
Num 18:27  ‘Your offering shall be reckoned to you as the grain from the threshing floor or the full produce from the wine vat.
Num 18:28  ‘So you shall also present an offering to the LORD from your tithes, which you receive from the sons of Israel; and from it you shall give the LORD’S offering to Aaron the priest.
Num 18:29  ‘Out of all your gifts you shall present every offering due to the LORD, from all the best of them, the sacred part from them.’
Num 18:30  “You shall say to them, ‘When you have offered from it the best of it, then the rest shall be reckoned to the Levites as the product of the threshing floor, and as the product of the wine vat.
Num 18:31  ‘You may eat it anywhere, you and your households, for it is your compensation in return for your service in the tent of meeting.
Num 18:32  ‘You will bear no sin by reason of it when you have offered the best of it. But you shall not profane the sacred gifts of the sons of Israel, or you will die.’”

Here we learn that the tithe went to the Levites because they were given no land in Israel on which to raise food.  They were to depend on the tithe.  We also read about a tithe of the tithe that goes to the High Priest, which is the family of Aaron.  We have no earthly parallel in the church  for Aaron, for our high priest is Christ Jesus, but we make a parallel by giving the administration of the Foursquare denomination a tenth of what the local churches receive.

That’s all Numbers has to say about the tithe so we move on to Deuteronomy, which has three segments of instruction on the tithe:

Deu 12:5  “But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.
Deu 12:6  “There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock.
Deu 12:7  “There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
Deu 12:8  “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;
Deu 12:9  for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you.
Deu 12:10  “When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security,
Deu 12:11  then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD.
Deu 12:12  “And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you.
Deu 12:13  “Be careful that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every cultic place you see,
Deu 12:14  but in the place which the LORD chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
Deu 12:14  but in the place which the LORD chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
Deu 12:15  “However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the deer.
Deu 12:16  “Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water.
Deu 12:17  “You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil, or the firstborn of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand.
Deu 12:18  “But you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all your undertakings.

The tithe is to be brought to the place (eventually Jerusalem) chosen by the Lord and offered there only.  The law on tithing was not in effect until the Israelites were in the promised land.

 Deu 14:22  “You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year.
Deu 14:23  “You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
Deu 14:24  “If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you,
Deu 14:25  then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses.
Deu 14:26  “You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.

The tithe was brought to Jerusalem in the form of either the increase of the land itself, or the proceeds from the sale of a tenth of the increase.  This tithe was brought to the feasts, of which there were three each year, to be used to have a feast.  After all,  what would a feast be if there were nothing to feast on?  (Please pay no attention to the mention of wine or strong drink in the list of “whatever your heart desires” :)

Deu 14:27  “Also you shall not neglect the Levite who is in your town, for he has no portion or inheritance among you.
Deu 14:28  “At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town.
Deu 14:29  “The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

This is the first mention of there being a three year cycle to the tithes.  There has been a lot of confusion over whether the tithe for the poor and the Levite in the third year was a second tithe that year, or if it took the place of the feast tithe.  Different teachings at different times held that this was a second tithe, or even that there were three tithes each year, but this is not what these verses say.  There were two three year cycles of one tithe per year, and in the seventh year there was no tithe, for the law commanded that in the seventh year the land was not to be planted or harvested.  The three year cycle is again discussed in chapter 26:

Deu 26:12  “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
Deu 26:13  “You shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.
Deu 26:14  ‘I have not eaten of it while mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor offered any of it to the dead. I have listened to the voice of the LORD my God; I have done according to all that You have commanded me.
Deu 26:15  ‘Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.’

After the Israelites pay their tithe, they say a prayer dictated to them by God Himself indicating that they have followed the law that God gave them, and they ask for God’s blessing on their land.  So they are without excuse when Malachi prophecies to them God’s word that He will open the floodgates of heaven for them, because they have been saying these very words every third year.  They already knew the prophecy, Malachi was only reminding them.

What of the temple at Jerusalem and its financing?  It was not paid for with tithes.   The first temple, which was the tent Moses built in the wilderness, was indirectly financed by the Egyptians, for it was the gold that the Israelites took from the Egyptians when they left Egypt that the Israelites brought to Moses as gifts with which to build.  The Solomon’s temple was built using the treasure accumulated by his father David.  It’s not clear but it looks like the temple was restored by the Israelites returning from exile with contribution. Herod’s temple was built by Herod.

Today we build large buildings with our tithes.  If our economy becomes as bad as I and others think it will become, many of these monuments will go back to the bank.  Will the real church continue without these edifices? Of course.  The early church had no big buildings.  Not until Christianity became the state religion under Constantine were there such things, yet the church thrived.  In fact, the decline of the church into a political organization began with Constantine and large buildings.  Perhaps that was a coincidence, but I think that having to manage a church body while protecting a large mortgage must pull your eyes away from Christ and on to the waves rising high about you.  Suddenly you have a sinking feeling.  Paul advised us in I Corinthians 7  that if we wanted to be in ministry we should even think twice about marriage.

Finally,  it is interesting to read Malachi 3:8 in context, for if you start at the beginning of the book you find that it is addressed to the priests, not the people.  It addresses the wrongs that the priests are committing with regard to the temple services: bringing blemished animals as sacrifices, divorcing their wives, showing partiality.  Only when we get to verse 3:9 does he say “the whole nation of you”.  But “nation” is not necessarily the nation of Israel.  The word can mean “group” or “herd”.  Strong’s defines it thus:

H1471
גּי    גּוי
gôy  gôy
go’ee, go’-ee
Apparently from the same root as H1465 (in the sense of massing); a foreign nation; hence a Gentile; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts: - Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

It would follow from the fact that the whole book up to this point addresses the priests, that “nation” means the troop of priests.  If it were the priests that Malachi is speaking to here about not bringing the tithe into the temple then probably they were taking it home for themselves and not sharing it with the poor or not providing for the daily sacrifices with it.

If this is the case then the use of Malachi 3:8 is inappropriate when used to chastise church members for their lack of tithing.  There are better verses to use, such as Deuteronomy 26:12-15, or perhaps we should just pray that the Lord touches people’s hearts to meet the needs of the work that He is wanting to do.

The Levitical Priesthood and our Offering to the Lord

December 27th, 2009

Christians, having lost most of our Jewish heritage through neglect of teaching of the Pentatuch, miss so much of the meaning of the New Testament.  Watching Zacharia in the Christmas play this week, the Lord pointed out a connection that would probably be obvious to people that study God’s law in the Pentatuch, but since I am seldom in the Pentatuch I had not seen it before.

First of all, notice in Leviticus how important was the priest’s preparation, appearance, conduct, and adherence to God’s instructions when they ministered as priests.  It meant life or death to them:

Lev 10:1  Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.
Lev 10:2  And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
Lev 10:3  Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.’” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

Lev 10:6  Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the LORD has brought about.
Lev 10:7  “You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the LORD’S anointing oil is upon you.” So they did according to the word of Moses.
Lev 10:8  The LORD then spoke to Aaron, saying,
Lev 10:9  “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die–it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations–
Lev 10:10  and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean,
Lev 10:11  and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses.”

Exo 28:1  “Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me–Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.
Exo 28:2  “You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.
Exo 28:3  “You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me.
Exo 28:4  “These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me.
[Here follows a detailed description of the garment, ending with the hem:]

Exo 28:33  “You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around:
Exo 28:34  a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe.
Exo 28:35  “It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the LORD, so that he will not die.

Exo 28:36  “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Holy to the LORD.’
Exo 28:37  “You shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban.
Exo 28:38  “It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take away the iniquity of the holy things which the sons of Israel consecrate, with regard to all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.
Exo 28:39  “You shall weave the tunic of checkered work of fine linen, and shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash, the work of a weaver.
Exo 28:40  “For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics; you shall also make sashes for them, and you shall make caps for them, for glory and for beauty.
Exo 28:41  “You shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him; and you shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve Me as priests.
Exo 28:42  “You shall make for them linen breeches to cover their bare flesh; they shall reach from the loins even to the thighs.
Exo 28:43  “They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and to his descendants after him.

1Ch 13:6  David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim, which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, the LORD who is enthroned above the cherubim, where His name is called.
1Ch 13:7  They carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. [This is not the correct way to transport the Ark, per Exodus 25:14]
1Ch 13:8  David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, even with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals and with trumpets.
1Ch 13:9  When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, because the oxen nearly upset it.
1Ch 13:10  The anger of the LORD burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God.

So accountable did the Lord hold the priesthood that they would die if the did not perform their duties purely, uprightly.  Such a high standard God held them to that when Moses disobeyed God’s instruction to “speak to the rock” and Moses struck the rock instead for water to come out, that God banned Moses from entering the promised land.

Come with me now to Acts and the early church.  The newly spirit filled church was ministering boldly in Jerusalem with signs and wonders.  Many sold their property and brought the money to the Apostles as an offering.

Act 5:1  But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,
Act 5:2  and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Act 5:3  But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?
Act 5:4  “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Act 5:5  And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.
Act 5:6  The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.
Act 5:7  Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
Act 5:8  And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”
Act 5:9  Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.”
Act 5:10  And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
Act 5:11  And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.

Great fear came over the whole church, which was nearly all Jewish, and familiar with the requirements of the priesthood, and very familiar with the Pentatuch.  They suddenly saw right in front of them the same  judgement on believers that God had brought on the sons of Aaron when they ignored God’s command.  This was not the putting to death a transgressor of the law by the people, but God Himself putting someone to death just as He had done in the Old Testament to the priests.  Why such harsh judgement on Ananias and Sapphira? I believe it was for the same reason that God judged Nadab and Abihu:  This was a foundational point.  God was revealing His purpose and direction to the church, just as God in Leviticus was revealing His glory to Israel.  The church needed to know that God took holiness seriously.  But just like in these two critical points in history, God made his point and few people died on the spot after that.  However, God still held Israel accountable for their disregard of Him and eventually sent them into exile.

Do we  take God lightly? Yes, we do.  I think probably that we don’t have any idea how lightly we take him because we are not living close enough to him to sense the level of holiness that he desires from us.  We will do well to pray as Paul prayed for the early church:

Col 1:9  For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Col 1:10  so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God

Comments on “Exploring the Extent of the Flood: Part Three”

December 2nd, 2009

Part Three of Ross’s apologetic for a Local Flood appears in the third issue of Volume 1 of the “New Reasons to Believe”.  Ross gives us the theological reasons why the flood must have been local not global as the Bible describes.  Ross starts out with an analogy to sin as a cancer and God as the Great Physician removing a tumor from the patient.

“God… works with perfect precision to cut away the malignancy, leaving the healthy or reparable tissue in place.”

Ross describes sin as a localized phenomenon in the earth, limited in range to the limited extent that people had migrated from where God first placed them in the garden.  So only a limited area of the earth must be covered with water to cleanse the earth of the malignancy.  How does this line up with what we read in Genesis?

Gen 6:11  Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.Gen 6:12  God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.Gen 6:13  Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.Gen 6:19  “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.Gen 7:4  “For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.”Gen 7:19  The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.Gen 7:20  The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.Gen 7:21  All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind;Gen 7:22  of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.Gen 7:23  Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.

If God were trying to tell us that the extent of the flood included the whole earth and every living creature on it, how else would He say it than how He says it here?  Just the sheer number of times He repeats the concept of “all” and “every” leaves the reader with no doubt that God meant “all” and “every”.  God is not presented as the exact physician delicately excising just the malignancy and preserving the healthy tissue.  He is portrayed and the great judge of the earth, cleansing his whole creation.  Does it make sense that God could even extract sin from the earth?  Paul says the whole of creation groans, not just a small contaminated part:

Rom 8:19  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hopeRom 8:21  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

It is the whole of creation that suffers under sin.Ross expands his surgical analogy into what he calls a theological appeal, that turns out to be faulty logic:

“According to this theological perspective, the geographical extent of Noah’s Flood can be determined by the geographical extent of the human community and the soulish animals associated with it.  The basis for interpreting Noah’s Flood as an event of less than global geographical proportions is that human civilization at that time lacked the motivation and the means (economic, technical, and otherwise) to colonize distant regions of the planet.  Archeological evidence indicates that human habitation had not yet spread beyond the area in and around the juncture of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe.”

Ross assumes a local flood, interprets the limited range of archeological relics in terms of a local flood, then claims to have shown that the flood was local based on the limited range of the relics.  We can take the same relics, assume a global flood, interpret the limited range of the relics based on the global flood, and so “prove” the global flood.  The limited range of the relics proves nothing.  It may be a necessary condition for his theory to work, but it is not sufficient.Not only is it not sufficient, it doesn’t line up with scripture.  Genesis 4 describes the descendants of Adam as musicians, metal workers, and shepherds, not poor and lazy.Ross concludes with the statement:”From a theological standpoint, no reason existed for God to deluge the whole of the planet earth. …  Such an interpretation holds true to the text and true to the revealed character of our Creator and Savior.”It is true that we cannot come up with a reason for God to deluge the whole of the planet.  We cannot come up with a reason to deluge even a part of the planet.  He could have sent a plague to wipe out man and animals.  He could have sent a meteor to blast them away.  He could have done it any number of ways, so we are forced to accept God’s account of how it happened because we were not there.  God said “all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.” and they were.

Comments on “Exploring the Extent of the Flood: Part Two”

November 30th, 2009

In Volume 1, No. 2 of New Reasons to Believe, Ross continues his explanation of why we should not believe the Bible when it says the flood covered the whole earth.  Ross presents Psalms 104 as a retelling of the creation story, particularly versus 5-9:Psa 104:5  He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever.Psa 104:6  You covered it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains.Psa 104:7  At Your rebuke they fled, At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.Psa 104:8  The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which You established for them.Psa 104:9  You set a boundary that they may not pass over, So that they will not return to cover the earth.We are again asked to commit the error of interpreting the Genesis account given by Moses in light of scripture written four hundred years later.   Without an agenda to fit the Bible into “Science”, we could just as easily say that verse 9 was written with regard to Noah’s flood waters not returning to cover the earth.Ross compounds the error by invoking several other later scriptures, including 2 Peter 2:5:

“…2 Peter 2:5 informs us that God brought the Flood upon the ‘world of the ungodly.’  If humanity had not yet migrated to all Earth’s continents, including Antarctica, Greenland, Australia, and North and South America, there would have been no apparent reason for God’s devastation to extend that far.”

Several logical disasters lurk in this statement.  First, Ross assumes the correctness of his argument to argue that his argument is correct.  He assumes that humanity had not migrated to all the earth, then tells us that since humanity had not migrated to all the earth, there was no need to wipe out all the earth.  I have no doubt that humanity had indeed migrated to all the earth.  But that leads us into Ross’ second error: he assumes many other things: billions of years, continental drift over billions of years, uniformitarianism, and the authority of the truth of Science over the Bible when he tells us that at the time of the flood the major continents were already in place on the earth.  Young earth creationists have long pointed out the evidence that Science is wrong on uniformitarianism, and that the continents could easily have drifted from an original single continent to their current locations in a very short time.  There is much evidence that this is indeed the case.  What does the Bible say about the continents?

Gen 10:25  Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.

The earth was divided into continents well after the flood, if “divided” really means divided.Finally Ross is arguing that a global flood makes God look inefficient.  If man had not spread over the whole earth (an assumption) then God didn’t really need to wipe out the whole earth, just the part Man was living in.  Ross will be in Heaven arguing with God that at the final judgment, since Man had not extended his range to the bottoms of the oceans, that there was no need to destroy the bottoms of the ocean when God destroys all creation with fire, as the Bible says He will.  I think it is more prudent to let God decide what he is going to destroy and how he is going to do it.

Comments on “Exploring the Extent of the Flood: Part One”

November 8th, 2009

With the very first issue, Volume 1 , No.1,  of the “New Reasons to Believe”, RTB launches their an apologetic by Dr. Ross  for why we don’t need to believe the Bible when it says Noah’s flood did not cover the whole earth.  This is  a logical topic to include because this is a major point of divergence between young and old earth creationism, and a sensitive point for old earthers.  Dr. Ross and his followers are forced into the position that the whole surface of the earth was not covered by water during Noah’s flood because of Ross’s decision to agree with everything that Science teaches, and Science cannot hold to a global Noachian flood.  A recent global flood would allow for the rapid creation all the geologic layers that evolution depends on to create in illusion of billions of years.  Billions of years are a vital underpinning of evolution.  Without them, one cannot visualize premordial slime becoming people, even though billions is not even a drop in the bucket compared to the time that you would need to produce even one protein by random chance.Many Christians don’t realize the local flood teaching is so widely believed.  We learn about all the animals that were on the ark coming out and repopulating the whole earth and we assume that everyone means “the whole earth”, but unfortunately old earth believers mean “the small part of the whole of the earth that we call the whole earth when talking about Noah”.  This small part of the earth where Noah lived, somewhere in the Mideast fertile crescent or the Black Sea area of Russia is all that Ross needs for the local flood to cover to wipe out the population of the world.  Ross must impose upon us to believe that in the sixteen hundred years from creation to the flood, the entire population of the world, which could have been as large as a hundred million people, never strayed past this small boundary.  And what is the reason Ross must believe this?  It is the only way that he can reconcile Science with the Bible.Where does the Bible say the flood was?  Let’s look at the words used:In Hebrew, the word “earth” is a translation of ‘erets.  Strong’s defines ‘erets as:

‘erets (eh’-rets)  From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land): -  X common, country, earth, field, ground, land, X nations, way, + wilderness, world.

‘erets is used 309 times in Genesis alone.  It occurs 79 times in the first eleven chapters, where it is translated as the “land” or “country” where a people group dwells, or as “earth”, but not earth as in ground.  Later in Genesis, starting with the story of Lot, it is translated “ground”, usually with reference to bowing one’s face to the ‘erets.  On the other hand, “ground”, as in dirt, is ‘ădâmâh.Forced into a local flood, Ross explains why the Hebrew word ‘erets means a small part of the earth, rather than all of the earth:

“Ancient readers (mostly hearers, because manuscripts and reading ability were limited) never even imagined a terrestrial ball. “Earth” or “world” to them meant “land” or implied people and societies.

The purely speculative ideas that ancient readers didn’t know the earth was a ball (the people just after the flood mapped the whole earth, the  Greeks even knew its diameter) and didn’t know how to read,  stem from the evolutionary belief that we gradually over time emerged from apes into less intelligent humans, and then into homo sapiens.  Ross apparently forgets the origin of this belief in evolution, and holds to it in spite of the Bible’s specifically mentioning that before the flood these were not primitive people:

Gen 4:20  Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.Gen 4:21  His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.Gen 4:22  As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron…

We agree that in the first eleven chapters, ‘erets could mean “the land of a people”.  But did it just mean that? Obviously in Genesis 1:1 it means the whole earth.  All the way up to Genesis 6 it means the whole earth, but suddenly when the story of Noah starts, we must stop believing the Bible when it says “whole earth”.  Why?  The text still seems to be saying “the whole earth.  A reader without an agenda to force fit the Bible into Science would never have it cross their mind, especially when God uses the word “all” over forty times in Genesis 6-11 to describe the extent of the flood.Then how does the Bible use the word ‘erets that we translate “earth”?  Let’s take a look at Genesis 1:10 where God actually defines it for us.  (I have included the Strong’s Dictionary numbers here to let you track the original words, not the words the translators decided to use):

Gen 1:9  Then GodH430 saidH559, “Let the watersH4325 belowH4480 H8478 the heavensH8064 be gatheredH6960b into oneH259 placeH4725, and let the dryH3004 landH3004 appearH7200″; and it was soH3651.Gen 1:10  GodH430 calledH7121 the dryH3004 landH3004 earthH776, and the gatheringH4723b of the watersH4325 He calledH7121 seasH3220; and GodH430 sawH7200 that it was goodH2896a.

So it was the “dry land” that God called ‘erets (earthH447).   Notice that “dry land” comes from H3004:H3004יבּשׂהyabbâśâhyab-baw-shaw’From H3001; dry ground: - dry (ground, land).The word is repeated in the Hebrew, which is significant.  For example in Genesis 2:17 God tells them to not eat of the tree:

Gen 2:17  but from the treeH6086 of the knowledgeH1847 of goodH2896b and evilH7451b you shall not eatH398, for in the dayH3117 that you eatH398 from it you will surelyH4191 dieH4191.”

The word die, H4191, is repeated.  If you search the Old Testament you will find that everywhere else that H4191 is repeated it is translated as “put to death” except for this verse.  And isn’t that what God is saying here, that Adam and Eve would be put to death for eating of the tree?  Why is this verse mistranslated?  But I digress.So God says He called the “dry dry” land ‘erets.   If you read through all the verses where ‘erets is used in Genesis 1-11 and put “dry land” in place of ‘erets, you will find it makes perfect sense.  Everywhere ‘erets is used it is talking about dry land.  It is not used in reference to any animals that live in the ocean.  It refers to the “dry land” occupied by specific people groups.  And most importantly, it makes sense in chapters six and seven when relating the events of the flood.  There was only one continent at the time of the flood, and God called it all ‘erets.Finally Hugh tries to use verses later in the Bible to interpret the use of ‘erets in Genesis:

Two familiar Old Testament passages narrate “worldwide” events other than the Flood: Genesis 41:56–42:6 and 1 Kings 10. The same Hebrew word, ’eres, translated as “the earth” in the Flood account, is translated as “the world” in these passages. So their meaning is essentially interchangeable.

In Genesis 41:57 we read, “[A]ll the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.” Genesis 42:5–6 clarifies that the famine had spread throughout the whole of the Egyptian Empire and the land of Canaan. “The world” in this context refers to a major region of human civilization rather than to the entire globe.

Justifying the age of the earth, the miles thick layers of sediment laid down by water, the fossil layers, the entire arguments regarding cosmology, all on the interpretation of the word that the author of the chronicle of Joseph chose to call  the extent of the famine is putting one’s self a bit out on a limb.  The Mediterranean was a well traveled area for ocean going trade vessels.  How can we say that Joseph was not supplying a large part of the world with grain for that seven year period?  It would not be pertinent to the story of Joseph as passed down to us in the Bible.  It was only important to recount Egypt and Canaan as being in drought to explain why Joseph’s brothers were forced to come to Egypt for aid.  The same can be said about 1 Kings 10: can we really assume that our ancestors were unable to sail around the world in ships?  Again, evolutionary teaching that we are descended from apes prevents Hugh from acknowledging that these people were capable of this and more.  There is much evidence that they did, but that will be a topic for another day.

Hugh’s other examples are as easily dismissed:

In Romans 1:8 Paul says of the Roman Christians, “Your faith is being reported all over the world.” 

  One cannot take an example from New Testament Greek and use it to interpret Hebrew writing from another culture written thousands of years before.  One cannot ever use verses written later to interpret earlier writings.  How would we expect the people in Moses’ day to understand what was being written about creation if they had to wait for 1 Kings or Romans to be written to understand what the text meant?  We cannot expect them to wait for Paul to be born to know what God was saying to the patriarchs.

 So Part 1 of Ross’s apologetic ends and the Emperor has no clothes as yet.  Let’s see what Part 2 brings.

Neanderthals with “Humans” - a sidetrack

October 29th, 2009

We must dwell for a moment on the root of the entire discussion:  why are Neanderthals an issue?  The old earth view is that Neanderthals lived a long time ago, showing up long before humans, and died out as humans were coming into dominance.  The RTB view must match the old age view, but must not allow Neanderthals to be humans, lest the beginning of Man be pushed back to 150,000 years ago.  Man showing up 150,000 years ago would make it hard to fit “Science” with the Bible, since the Bible records only about 6,000 years of history.  To demonstrate the young earth view let’s go back to the Ark, and the meaning of “Kind”.

Noah took a pair of each kind of animal onto the ark.  After the flood, as the animal pairs multiplied and spread across the land, the genetic potential in the first pair was unevenly distributed into their offspring, just as genetics tells us today.  The dog kind split out in succeeding generations into wolf, fox, coyote, domestic dog, hyena, dingo, and etc.  They differ genetically somewhat, but they are all dog kind.  The horse kind likewise subdivided into horse, zebra, and all the varieties of wild horses found in the world.  Man likewise divided into what we call the Races.  It is a simple matter for Neanderthal to be part of Man Kind, genetically similar, but not identical.  And if their DNA is not identical, well, horses and zebras, of the same Kind, have different numbers of chromosomes, so they are not identical either.

Neanderthals interbreed with “Humans” - the RTB side - article 2

October 29th, 2009

This short article on the RTB website refers to a study, just completed, to sequence the Neanderthal genome.  The results of the study will be to show the degree of similarity between human and Neanderthal DNA:

“…a joint team of scientists from Germany and the U.S. announced plans to complete a draft of the Neanderthal genome (an organism’s entire genetic makeup) within the next two years. This research program provides an unimaginable opportunity to test various theories about humanity’s origin. Since that first fossil’s discovery, Neanderthal’s identity and place in humanity’s origin have fascinated scientist and layperson alike. Traditional evolutionary models assert that Neanderthals played some role in human evolution. The Reasons To Believe model, on the other hand, maintains that there is no evolutionary connection between Neanderthals and modern humans.”

First of all, the degree of similarity between two species so close as humans and chimpanzees is a variation of only a few percent.  Research has shown that the variation within humans is on the same order of a few percent, so any results of this study, which will show only a small variation, will be interpreted by any group the way they want to interpret it.

Secondly, what if the genomes turns out to be identical?  RTB can just say God created Man just like Neanderthals, but those Neanderthals are STILL NOT HUMAN! They just look human, and act human, that’s all.  And lived a really long time ago.

In current evolutionary thought, mutations no longer drive gradual improvement.  It is done by gene transfers from one specie to another.  RTB will of course follow “Science” in this paradigm shift, since the basis of their ministry is that we can trust all the conclusions that “Science” has come to in their interpretation of creation from their naturalistic, Godless worldview.  Gene transfers will be used by “Science” to explain the great similarity between Human and Neanderthal.  RTB will be scrambling to figure out how to fit this into their convoluted worldview.