Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

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Scott Ashley

United Church of God Pastor, Beyond Today Managing Editor

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  • Scott Ashley
    Hi Beverly, Thanks for your question. I mentioned this in the context of how history is taught in schools and colleges. I teach a 50-hour college-level class on the Gospels every year, and for everything I would like to add, I have to cut an equivalent amount out. So to make room in classes for the contributions of homosexuals and transgenders, instructors would have to cut out an equivalent amount material on the contributions of others. It's strictly a matter of the limitations of time allowed to teach a course. The net effect is that students are dumbed down to promote a politically correct agenda of promoting the normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism, and everybody loses—except those who want to promote anti-biblical values.
  • Scott Ashley

    Thanks for your comment, Veronica. We are still posting audio files for all of the Beyond Today magazine articles. Sometimes it takes a while to narrate all the articles and prepare the audio files for posting online. The audio file for this article should be posted soon. Thanks for your patience.

  • Scott Ashley

    (continued from previous message)
    One such aqueduct feeding water to Jerusalem in the 700s B.C. is mentioned in 2 Kings 18:17: “… And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they went and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, which was on the highway to the Fuller’s Field.”

    In the letter of Aristeas, written by a visitor to Jerusalem in the second century B.C., the writer describes an extensive system of reservoirs and “pipes” (aqueducts, since they were built with closed pipes to prevent water leakage and loss of water by evaporation) that fed water to the Jerusalem temple.

    Archeologists have been able to trace a number of ancient aqueducts and reservoirs that fed water into Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount. While many of them date to periods after Solomon, it’s logical that later builders would’ve utilized whatever remained of Solomon’s water infrastructure and its routes as the basis for building and expanding later water channels and aqueducts.

    I hope this helps. I wrote this article to dispel some of the misinformed and misleading information that has spread over recent years.

  • Scott Ashley

    The “wailing wall”—now more commonly called the “western wall”—wasn’t actually a building. It is part of the western exterior wall of the 36-acre foundation platform constructed by King Herod the Great on which he built the temple that stood during Jesus Christ’s day. Since the temple was located atop a mountain ridge, the only way to create a space large enough for thousands of people to come together to worship was to build a huge level platform around the top of the ridge, with a number of bridges, gates and stairways by which people could access the upper level where the temple was located.

    The temple itself was destroyed in A.D. 70 when the Jews rebelled against Roman rule and the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem. So the temple no longer exists, but its giant foundation platform does. Upper parts of the platform were destroyed and later rebuilt by the Crusaders, by Muslims, and then by the British during the periods when these people ruled over Jerusalem. Visitors today can see the differences in the kinds of stones used in the walls.

    I hope this helps answer your question.

  • Scott Ashley

    Jerusalem is a fairly dry area, but reservoirs and aqueducts supplied plenty of water to the Temple Mount. An Internet search of “Jerusalem aqueduct” yields over 400,000 results if you are interested in researching it in detail.

    In Ecclesiastes 2:4-6, Solomon describes some of his major building projects in Jerusalem, which included constructing “reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves” (verse 6, New Living Translation). Considering the topography of the area around Jerusalem, of necessity these reservoirs would’ve needed aqueducts to transport the water to where it was needed.

    Solomon worked with the greatest and most knowledgeable builders of the ancient world, which is evident from the biblical accounts of his construction of the temple and his palace, and since water was a precious commodity in the Middle East, these builders would’ve known how to construct water-carrying infrastructure.

    (continued in next part)

  • Scott Ashley

    Regarding your statement: “The only thing that i disagree with is that he ate the passover meal.”
    If you read through the Gospel accounts it is clear that this was the Passover meal they ate that evening. Notice these verses from Luke 22:
    8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”
    13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.
    14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.
    15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
    John 13:2 tells us that they finished the meal—obviously the Passover, since they weren’t eating two meals that night.
    To deny that this is the Passover meal is to deny multiple clear statements of Scripture. See also the parallel accounts of Matthew 26:17-19 and Mark 14:12-16, where this is called the Passover an additional seven times. There is no need to invent a second, non-Passover meal that evening.

  • Scott Ashley
    This is a common misunderstanding. The details are spelled out in our booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story. You can find those details at this link under the subhead "What Was the Cause of Jesus' Death?" Scott Ashley https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/jesus-christ-the-real-story/did-jesus-really-die-and-live-again
  • Scott Ashley

    Hi Randy,
    If you’ll think it through the answer should be obvious.
    As pointed out in the article, Scripture plainly tells us four times that no one has seen God at any time (John 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 1 John 4:12). The article lists a number of examples where people met God face to face. In some of these examples they shared a meal together. In one example Jacob wrestled with a physical being whom he later comes to realize is God. So who was the “God” whom they saw and interacted with? Obviously it was not God the Father, but the one who would later be born as Jesus Christ. Otherwise Jesus Christ and the apostle John were not being truthful.
    So how do we reconcile the examples you give with the clear statements of Scripture above? The answer is simple. All of the examples you gave are clearly visions. That’s evident. Scripture does not conflict (John 10:35). The God whom people personally interacted with wasn’t the Father, but the one who became Jesus Christ. That is different from those (Daniel, Stephen, John) who saw VISIONS of the Father. Note also that the one who wrote four times that no one has seen God was John—the same one who saw the Father in vision in Revelation 4 and 5.

  • Scott Ashley

    As for lack of character, bankruptcy for an experienced businessman is an indication of poor planning (Luke 14:28-30). Obviously there are situations beyond an individual’s control that force them to declare bankruptcy, which has happened to individuals I know. I don’t know whether that is the situation in this case. However, to sign agreements to repay loans and declare bankruptcy to void those agreements amounts to theft—you have taken another’s property with no attempt to repay. To deliberately borrow with no intention of repaying and to legally escape that obligation by declaring bankruptcy is deliberate lying and theft. I assume you can easily see that such would be sin. Again, I don’t know the circumstances of these bankruptcies, but for it to happen multiple times is disturbing—as I wrote.

  • Scott Ashley

    Greetings Richard,

    On the timeline, Mark 16:9 would fall on what we today call Sunday. As you noted in your previous message, some words were added by the translators to make this verse read better in English. It’s helpful to also remember that there is no punctuation—no commas or periods—in the original. Translators added punctuation marks to try to make it read better in English, but in this case they actually confused the meaning.

    The original wording, according to The NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament (the closest we have to the original Greek), reads like this: “having arisen Now early on first of week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene from whom He had cast out seven demons.”

    The wording isn’t saying that Jesus arose on the first day of the week, but that having already been resurrected, on the first day of the week He appeared to Mary Magdalene. Mark has already covered the timing of the resurrection in the preceding verses. “When the Sabbath was past” (verse 1), the two Marys and Salome came to the tomb where an angel told them that Jesus had already been resurrected and was gone from the tomb (verse 6).

    I hope this helps explain the timing.

  • Scott Ashley

    (comments continued here) God does not reveal His truth to us so that we will feel guilty, but rather to help bring us a sense of joy and reliable truth to our lives.

    Here is one of the most inspiring prophecies about Jesus Christ that may also help. In Isaiah 61:1 we read, “‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison – [seeing Godly truths] to those who are bound.”

    We can be assured that God finds great joy in all who make the decision to listen to Him with a truthful convicted heart. And Jesus Christ wants you to be assured that He is responsible to preach to all those who need to know His “good tidings” of truth.

    We’d like to help you understand more about how to the worship God. When someone understands God’s way with more biblical detail, they come to feel a greater sense of peace in their lives.

    I suggest you read our free study aid that contains more insight on this subject: http://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/gods-holy-day-plan-the-promise-of-hope-for-all-mankind.

  • Scott Ashley

    Hi GinnyThank you for your comment and desire to put God’s words into practice in your life. We know that it is often difficult to initiate change when those around you may not understand why you are taking actions like these.

    You mention that you feel a “little guilty.” First of all, you cannot change the past about your children, but you can begin to do what is right. That is what pleases God the most. Your guilt may also subside quickly if you consider that you are making a decision to place God first and foremost in your life.

    Christ made this wonderful and encouraging statement for us in Matthew 19:29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” I think you believe, as do I, that Christ meant every word that He spoke.

    We also find Christ making this inspiring statement in Mark 3:35: “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” We should never feel guilty for doing what God tells us to do. (See more in the next message.)