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

    Thanks for your kind comments. I’m glad you found the article helpful. I also like your version, which provides lots of food for thought. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Scott Ashley

    Part 4

    I find it amusing that when Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13 and Luke 4:2 tell us that Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, no one tries to argue that they really meant 39 days—or by arguing that 1 1/2 days from Friday afternoon to pre-dawn Sunday morning actually means three days and three nights, Jesus really was fasting only 20 days. I mention this just to illustrate the absurdity of the argument.

    As this article makes clear, one needs to only look at the details what the Gospel writers tell us to see that Jesus was in the tomb the exact length of time He foretold—three days and three nights. There’s no need to distort His words to try to fit some false human tradition.

    (I would refer you to what Jesus said about human tradition in Matthew 15:3 and Mark 7:13.)

  • Scott Ashley

    Part 3

    Even if you accept this argument as true, you still have only part of Friday and all of the Sabbath day—one full day portion and at most a few hours of Friday daylight. None of the daylight portion of Sunday can be counted because Jesus was already risen from the tomb when Mary went “while it was still dark” (John 20:1) so there’s no possible way to get even two full days, much less part of three.

    The math isn’t hard. Anyone who can count to three can do it. So why would you give such weight to an argument proposed by people who clearly can’t count to three?

    Did Jesus rise as He said He would—i.e., after three days? Notice what the angel at the tomb told the women in Matthew 28:6: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” How did Jesus say He would rise? After three days and nights. I don’t know why some want to make this angel a liar.

    (continued in part 4)

  • Scott Ashley

    Part 2:

    I realize many scholars argue that when Jesus said “three days and three nights,” that He didn’t really mean what He said and that this is a Hebrew idiom. But that “idiom” argument falls apart when the time length is specified as ““three days and three nights” as Jesus stated. Three days and three nights cannot mean only parts of three days. For anyone capable of counting to three, it’s easy to do the math.

    Assuming the “idiom” argument is true, just look at it logically using that reasoning. Part of Friday afternoon equals one day. Friday night is one night. Saturday daylight is a second day. Saturday night is a second night. But Jesus had already risen from the tomb when Mary went there on Sunday morning “while it was still dark” (John 20:1). So there is no way Jesus was in the tomb any part of a third day, much less a third night!

    So according to this common argument, where’s the part of the third day? There isn’t any! Where’s the part of the third night? There isn’t any!

    (continued in part 3)

  • Scott Ashley

    Thanks for your comments, but they reflect a lot of common misconceptions, starting with your statement about “the single verse in which Jesus says he will be in the belly of the earth for ‘three days and three nights.’” There is not a “single verse” in which Jesus mentioned He would rise after three days. I refer you to Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:19; 27:63; Mark 8:31 and John 2:19. Jesus was perfectly clear in what He said. It’s the theologians and scholars who have to twist His words to mean something else.

    (And I can’t help but notice that every scholar using that argument fails to give a single example from Scripture proving their statement—a statement without proof is merely opinion unsupported by facts.)

    In Matthew 12:40 Jesus stated very clearly how long He would be in the tomb: “Three days and three nights”—the length of time Jonah was in the belly of the great fish. And how long was Jonah in the fish? “Three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). There is no ambiguity here.

    (continued in part 2)

  • Scott Ashley

    Interesting comment: “Scripture, tradition and reason. The three legged stool.”
    What does God say about these three?

    Tradition:
    “He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” Mark 7:9).
    “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossian 2:8).

    Reason:
    “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
    “Each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me” (Jeremiah 16:12).
    “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26).

    Scripture:
    “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).
    “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).
    “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).

    In light of these, I think I’ll stick to Scripture and ignore tradition and reason.

  • Scott Ashley

    I find it fascinating that some people can so easily dismiss so many plain statements from the Bible, including many from Jesus Christ Himself, stating the conditions God places on His gift of salvation. Salvation is certainly by God’s grace, but many people have a sorely lacking understanding of what the Scriptures really teach about grace. Before perpetuating so many erroneous statements about grace, I’d recommend that you read our study guide “What Does the Bible Teach About Grace,” which you can request or download here: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/what-does-the-bible-teach-about-grace
    Otherwise the first thought on your mind when you “get to heaven” should probably be how you will respond to Jesus’ challenge, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?”

  • 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.