“Who? Who? Who Are You?”
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“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” Psalm 8:4-8, NIV

A popular Universal Studios television show, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” has made the Las Vegas skyline famous around the world. Actors in the series portray a team of investigators in that city who work to identify murder victims and those who murdered them using logic and technology that Sherlock Holmes would have loved to have at his disposal. The show’s theme song is “Who are you?” written appropriately by “The Who.” This question of identity is the heart of this week’s lesson. As we learned from an earlier lesson, we are in an ongoing war that we sometimes refer to as “The Great Controversy.” Just like the city of Las Vegas, as well as most cities around the world, we find there are victims of this conflict. Do we know who they were? For that matter do we know who we are?

My uncle, who passed away a few years ago, believed that all such introspective questions were simply “navel gazing.” He had little use for metaphysics and asserted there was little difference between a human being and a blade of grass — both came from the same place and both went to the same place, from random molecular bits to random molecular bits. This sounds reminiscent of Solomon’s utterances about the pointlessness of life in Ecclesiastes. However, if this point of view were true, why would any man bother to seek answers to questions of existence and being? Why would we search for a possible meaning to life? Perhaps we search because the alternative can lead to despair. After all, if human existence is pointless, why should it continue? Unlike many lower life forms, man has the ability to purposely end a pointless life. In fact, far too many have felt they had to do just that.

The Pentateuch approaches mankind’s existence from a completely different perspective. The first few chapters of Genesis assure us that all of mankind originated from the hand of God. In spite of all argument to the contrary, we can find ample foundation in that account for the understanding that all of us have an equality of origin. This argues strongly for an equality of personal rights. Even the founding fathers of the United States felt that the equality of creation was adequate to assert personal liberty when they signed The Declaration of Independence which boldly proclaimed that “all men are created equal.” However, throughout the history of man, there have been those who deny those liberties, sometimes in the name of science, sometimes even in the name of God.

Even in the last few hundred years, some have advanced theories of racial superiority or inferiority based on skull shapes, minor skeletal differences, facial features, skin color and many other supposedly scientifically derived observations that were really no more than imposing preconceived prejudicial stereotypes on features that were believed to support those opinions. Examining the relative simplicity of some cultures and comparing those with more technologically advanced societies, some even felt that the races of those who were in the simpler cultures represented an earlier stage of evolutionary development and that these individuals were stuck in an evolutionary backwater. Those with the technology had it simply because they had evolved while their more primitive brothers and sisters had not. Some extreme examples of these ideas can easily be found in the propaganda of the Third Reich of Germany. This propaganda continues to be supported by modern-day Neo-Nazis. The idea that there can be any kind of universal equality is abhorrent to those who hold these views. Likewise, those who truly believe that all mankind sprung equally from the hand of God cannot countenance the oppression of anyone based on these ideas of superiority.

Sadly, there are also those who look at the sordid history of mankind found in the Bible and derive ideas that are alien to this doctrine of the equality of mankind. For instance, they see slavery mentioned in the Bible and not seeing a universal emancipation declaration in its pages, they jump to the conclusion that God is “O.K.” with slavery. They refuse to see that mankind was not created to be enslaved. Instead he was given dominion over the entire earth. That the Bible records the degradation of slavery is no more an endorsement of that institution than it is an endorsement of polygamy when it tells us that several biblical figures had multiple wives. From my pastoral counseling experience, this is often an argument that philandering husbands make to attempt to excuse their abuse of the marriage relationship. In the same way those who condoned slavery would point to texts that mention slavery in the Bible in an attempt to excuse the buying, selling and abusing of others.

Some feel the Pentateuch was written when the Jews were perhaps at their lowest possible self-image as a people. Having lived for several generations in Egypt, they were enslaved to a people who challenged all that their own culture said they were. Under this oppression, their concept of who they were as a people and who they were in relationship to their Creator had eroded significantly. It had diminished to the point that Moses was faced with the constant rebellion of those who identified more with the culture of Egypt than with that of the Jews. Unable to root those cultural understandings out of the current generation of Israelites, he spent 40 years in the wilderness raising up a generation with a new cultural perspective. His writings are revolutionary in their repeated references to one standard for both the Israelites and the foreigners living among them. We still struggle with this, today. In many countries, politicians pander to xenophobic masses in misguided attempts to secure votes from one group while betraying others who may not have the same measure of political influence.

In any event, when we consider the downward slide of mankind from Creation to the Exodus, we can begin to understand the significant departure from that trend that the Pentateuch represented. It was a step in the direction of restoring a “golden age” of mankind where men and women were not only in a proper relationship with their Creator, but also were in a relationship of equality with each other where the respect and submission on the part of both were equal.  Some would say that since the fall into sin, it has not been so and cite passages in Genesis 3 to support the idea of one sex dominating another.  They see this somehow as the normal Christian relationship between the sexes. But the same texts reveal that it is quite clearly a result of sin that things became that way. Why should Christians seek to emulate the effects of sin as proper Christian behavior? Some act as though God were commanding man to dominate woman and that they must obey. It is a mystery to me how this can be justified.

Disease is also a result of sin, but we have no problem recognizing the value of working to defeat disease in our lives. As a result, there have been great advances against diseases such as polio, tuberculosis, and smallpox, as well as many others. We do not argue in favor of disease because we know it is wrong even if it is definitely a result of sin. Why then do we argue in favor of sexual domination when it, too, is the result of sin? Truly, isn’t every form of domination and control of others without their consent a result of sin? Shouldn’t the Christian’s doctrine of man encompass a struggle against these results of sin wherever they occur? Unfortunately, we far too often find the battle against the results of sin important when those results make our own lives uncomfortable, but fail to concern ourselves when our actions dominate or control the lives of others.

We see the results of sin in the world around us. Biologists refer to the “food chain,” where animals live in a relationship of prey and predator. The prophet Isaiah assures us that heaven will not be like that. (See Isaiah 11 & 65) If this is true then logically, the predatory relationship appears to be because of sin. To some extent, mankind has become part of this predatory “chain.” We prey on lesser species of animals for food and resources. Sadly, we even use the example of fallen nature as an excuse to justify predation of our fellow human beings in this “dog-eat-dog” world.

As if this were not enough, we have even often made God over into this image corrupted by sin. We simply place Him at the top of the “food chain” as the alpha being. Instead of recognizing that we should be reflecting His image as we were created to do, we look to the fallen world around us and declare that to be His image. Then like a filthy mirror that is poorly suited to the purpose for which it was created, we go about pretending that in dominating and controlling others, we are being godlike. Instead of bringing an image of fairness, equality and love into the world, we manipulate, control and conquer. Perhaps it is time we reject these results of sin and become vessels of grace to one another, allowing equality of opportunity and recognizing the validity of claims for equal rights for all mankind without regard to race, gender, nationality or any other excuse we use to dominate and control one another.


Scripture marked (NIV) taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of Biblica US, Inc.

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“Who? Who? Who Are You?” — 12 Comments

  1. Thank you so much, Dr. Terry, for your insightful and comprehensive commentary on the doctrine of man and its perversions. This discourse should be pubished in a book or pamphlet and distributed widely. It should be 'required reading" for Sabbath School teachers this quarter. God bless you, Brother.

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  2. Thank you Terry for a well written post. The last paragraph I found especially powerful. It reminded me of what a friend said years ago. "God said let us make man in our image, and ever since then man has been saying, no! Lets make God in our image." Blessings Terry and keep these inspiring posts coming!

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  3. First I have to say this was a very thought provoking article, before I point some things out...

    You say I quote "His writings are revolutionary in their repeated references to one standard for both the Israelites and the foreigners living among them"?? In fact this relates to the laws that governed Israel and strangers that sojourned with them.

    This can't be compared to equality in the worldly sense, as it relates more to making strangers adhere, in order to keep sins and immorality out of Israel as a nation.

    An example of this can be seen in Exodus

    Ex 12:48 KJV And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

    So here we see that a stranger could not take the Passover unless he is circumcised.

    Remember the God of Israel also said when speaking to Israel

    Deut 14:1 KJV. Ye [are] the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead

    Deut 14:2 KJV For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

    The God of Israel doesn't believe in equality only that we should serve him (God's love is order and obedience, and emotions and feelings are not to take precedence above them), Ironically, this is the same posture corrupt leaders take on.

    You also say

    “'golden age' of mankind where men and women were not only in a proper relationship with their Creator, but also were in a relationship of equality with each other where the respect and submission on the part of both were equal."???

    Again I say equality is not the point, obedience is, God has already pronounced that.

    Gen 3:16 KJV. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

    So God says a man is to rule over woman, until the kingdom comes (yes this submission is not through duress but from faithful women and men's conscious decisions, but it is far from equality?). Today with the feminist movement the world seeks to reverse what God has ordained, by making men and women both equal, some would say even making women more superior (especially in relation to desires, as you will see when you read on).

    Further studies into Gen 3:16 show that the word for "rule", is actually impulse or desire taken from the Hebrew

    H8669 tshuwqah tesh-oo-kaw'

    from H7783 in the original sense of stretching out after;

    a longing.

    And whether anybody cares to agree with this or not, we know that men have the upper hand in relations with women even though feminism has crept in to challenge Gods rule in this matter.

    So this has nothing to do with man dominating woman, it relates to a woman having a stronger desire for a man. Once God pronounced this order, Satan has attempted to defy it, it is up to God if he wants to give his creation signs to remember particular disobediences committed, another sign being the rainbow, also the fact men have to work harder than women, so there is balance in the things God has said will be.

    So the notion of a golden age existed only before Adam and Eve sinned, before this time they were in Gods Kingdom (Garden of Eden). A return to this will only come again when the Kingdom comes. But we are in a period of testing. I am surprised that you say that a woman's impulse for a man is a mystery. To say that is like saying it's okay to lie as long as it's a white lie (i.e. not that serious). Because after all God only wants what's best for us, but this is not true, God requires our obedience to his word.

    I'm sure we can agree that we can't reverse Gods words

    Shalom

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    • We are all equal at the cross. Women outside of the context of marriage are not submitted to a mans authority. What of the equality given the daughters of Zeolephad in numbers 27. I speak as a woman who is proud to have a Godly husband who fulfills my desire not as a curse but a blessing, for he is better to me than 10 sons. You state certain facts however the tone you take in my opinion lacks the character of Love.

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      • We are not all equal at the Cross according to God, we can all make it to the cross ( I assume you mean kingdom of God?). We must all obey if we believe that is true. God is above Christ, there is order. Equality is a man made concept to hide the wickedness of those that are wicked.

        "I speak as a woman who is proud to have a Godly husband who fulfills "my" desire not as a curse but a blessing"???

        You need to go back and read what I said, I never said it was a curse that a woman should desire a man? The only thing God cursed was the ground to make man work harder. I believe the notion of it being a curse was in the article. Although the bible doesn't say that.

        It sounds like to me you have a warm fuzzy feeling about things, and that's your barometer of God? The way you feel is irrelevant, your pride is also irrelevant.

        Lk 7:23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

        Revelation 7:7-9

        7 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

        2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

        3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

        4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

        5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

        6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

        7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

        8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

        9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; <<==== There is an order of things?

        Numbers 27

        daughters of Zelophehad? what baring does this have on the subject in question? What has Equality have to do with this decision? The problem is you think that I look down on women? I don't, the point is Women have a stronger desire for men , than men do for women thus says YHWH.

        daughters of Zelophehad were granted the permission to bare the seed, inorder to keep their lieneage going, because all of Israel knew that Men bare the seed and still do. Nothing has changed, this has nothing to do with equality?

        Matthew 15:26-28
        Christ called a woman outside of Israel a dog, but her humility in understanding his authority through Israel, made her worthy, once again there is order no equality

        Romans 9:12-14

        12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

        13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

        14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

        God makes the rules

        Peace

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    • Ikedi, you present a lengthy argument in support of your position but I am very concerned regarding your desire to perpetuate the effects of sin rather than to ameliorate them. Christ never took that approach. Instead He ministered to relieve the consequences of sin. That is the way of love. Perhaps this is what Kristen has picked up on as well.

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      • Firstly I have to point out that the acknowledgement of sin does ameliorate it (so I beg to differ concerning Christs approach), if there is a genuine repentance that follows. Confession and then Repentance these are the main ingredients for any true believers life.

        ... I also have to make clear that my original points have been misconstrued. I was merely clearing up that man had to work and women have a greater impulses for men, were pronouncements from God, Not curses.

        Christ was fully aware of sin, and he spoke against it. It was not something that he pretended wasn't there.

        John 5:13-15

        13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

        14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

        15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

        John 8:10-12

        10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

        11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

        *in both instances SIN NO MORE were the saviors words*

        That being said I have not supported sin anywhere in my response. Kristen seems has misunderstood me.

        I have not mentioned sin once, but ultimately Sin has to be acknowledged and then Christ will cover it.

        This is why people find it so difficult to confess things, there is great healing in it. Instead they deflect or totally ignore sin (transgression, rebellion to God)

        Peace.

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        • Ikedi, from the tenor of your response, perhaps you did not understand the subtle difference between sin and the effects of sin. There was no mention of ameliorating sin but rather of the effects of sin. One effect of sin per Genesis three was the changed relationship between men and women. This has nothing to do with whether it is a curse or not. It seems simply to be an effect of sin. as an effect it should be ameliorated just like any other effect of sin.

          You are correct in how to deal with sin, but perhaps you are overlooking the distinction between sin and its effects. Sin needs repentance, but its effects need healing. This is what Jesus modeled.

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    • Just so we are clear I LOVE all peoples that believe in the God of Israel and even those that don't. My prayer is that all people see their wromngs denounce them and Follow the one TRUE God.

      Exodus 20:3
      3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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  4. Hi Stephen

    I totally understand the effects of sin…they sent Israel into slavery and caused us to be spread throughout the nations according to prophecy Deuteronomy 28, Ezekiel 6:8, Daniel 9:11

    I made a distinction between a curse and a pronouncement of God, because Kristen in response to me suggested that, her husband fulfilling her was not as a result of a curse, which is something I never said. I am merely stating that women have a stronger desire towards men regardless of feelings.

    To address the point about healing, God distinctly cursed the ground and not man. The only two people to experience a relation free of boundaries set by God in Genesis 3 are and Adam and Eve. The relation God pronounced will not be healed until the kingdom comes. Therefore, a women's desire for a man is a fact of life. It certainly does not require any type of healing.

    Are you suggesting feminism is a tool of God? If we read the Bible and understand it then this information serves as guidance.

    As far as healing goes it is futile if a person is healed and does not acknowledge sin (their rebellion, wrongs against God) Or worse still has no understanding of the sins they have committed. In previous examples I list above, what would have been the point of the people being healed by Christ if they didn’t acknowledge their sins? Healing is a byproduct of confession and repentance. In some cases there is no healing but just confession and repentance. The apostles such as Paul and Stephen Acts 7:59 experienced this by being murdered, where was their healing?

    Don’t get me wrong I believe in healing by the truth is more important! Christ promoted mercy not healing. He promoted this because it was needed at a time when all the supposed teachers of Israel were teaching hypocrisy and had no mercy, Matthew 9:13. Christ fulfilled the law and replaced the sacrificial elements, because none of Israel kept it, especially the leaders of Israel. Christ became the final sacrifice Daniel 9:27.

    Peace

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