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Digging Deeper: Ye Are My Witnesses

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Est. reading time: 7 min. 48 sec.

Did you know that God appointed the nation of Israel to be His witnesses to all other nations?

Of all the nations around the globe, God chose a slave people in Egypt, set them free by a series of miracles, guided them on a perilous journey through the Sinai wilderness, and delivered them to the Promised Land. They were a privileged but obligated people. With privilege comes responsibility. This Digging Deeper explores Israel’s God-appointed task to represent Him to the world. We will learn that even though they failed in that task, God did not abandon them and will yet employ them as His witnesses in the future. Additionally, there is a lesson for Christian witness today.

Our central passage for this study is: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God (Isaiah 43:10-12 KJV)”. Another companion verse is: “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any (Isaiah 44:8 KJV).”

Witnesses in the future

These verses are part of the second major section of the Book of Isaiah. Is it merely coincidence (or design?) that this book has 66 chapters, corresponding to the 66 books of our English Bible. Another parallel is that chapters 1-39 equal the number of Old Testament books (39) and chapters 40-66 equal the number of New Testament books (27). Even the themes of each section parallel those of the corresponding testament. The Book of Isaiah is heavily Messianic, especially in the second section. Our three primary verses referring to Israel as God’s witnesses all come from this second section. This informs us that God still has a plan for Israel to represent Him in the Millennium and beyond.

The scene portrayed in Isaiah 43 is a courtroom in which God challenges the nations to gather and present their gods to compete with the Almighty in prophesying the future (Isaiah 43:9). Verses 10-12 then notify Israel that they are to witness to the truth about the one true God: there is no other. Webster’s 1913 Unabridged Dictionary defines a witness in law as: “One who testifies in a cause, or gives evidence before a judicial tribunal; as, the witness in court agreed in all essential facts” (e-Sword 12.1). God chose Israel for this holy task to testify that there is one God, that He is supreme, that He is good, that He can be trusted, that He has our best interests at heart, and that someday we may join Him in eternity.

The Ideal Example

The Dake Annotated Reference Bible presents four reasons God chose Israel as His witnesses:

  1. That you may know Me (Isaiah 43:10).
  2. That you may believe Me.
  3. That you may understand that I am He.
  4. That you may witness that I am God (Isaiah 43:12). (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22)

Israel will need to know God intellectually and relationally to teach other nations about Him. Jeremiah informs people how to know God: “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart (Jeremiah 24:7 KJV).” This new heart requires faith and understanding to prepare witnesses to testify that the God described in Scripture is the only true God.

The Dake Annotated Reference Bible then describes eight things Israel was to bear witness to:

  1. That I am He (43:10; note b, 41:4).
  2. That before Me there was no God formed.
  3. That after Me there will be no God formed.
  4. That I am Jehovah (Isaiah 43:11).
  5. That beside Me there is no Savior.
  6. That I have declared former things which have already come to pass (Isaiah 43:12; 41:21-24; 41:26; 42:8-9; 43:9).
  7. That I have saved you (Isaiah 43:12).
  8. That I have showed you things when no strange god among you could reveal them to you. (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22)

Only when Israel is cured of its idolatry is it capable of witnessing to polytheistic nations that the many gods they serve are vain, fiendish, and non-existent in reality. In the world to come, all nations will serve only one God. Pagan worship will not be tolerated and all icons will be removed and destroyed. God will not share His worship with other deities. There is no other Savior.

A Witness for Repentance

Solomon’s dedicatory speech for the magnificent Temple declared that one reason for its existence (among others) was to attract the Gentile nations to repent of their idolatry and serve the Creator. Notice what he said: “Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name (2 Chronicles 6:32-33 KJV).”

During Israel’s heyday, no doubt many Gentiles did take advantage of this golden opportunity to convert. For example, the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon to learn more about Israel’s faith. Regrettably, it was not long afterward that Solomon compromised with idolatry by accepting the gods of his foreign wives into his kingdom. This leaven eventually so corrupted the nation Israel that God was left with no choice but to punish His people because they rejected the prophets He sent for hundreds of years to call the nation to repent.

Witnesses Today

Ancient Israel failed in its responsibility to represent the Almighty (Amos 3:9-11; Jeremiah 2:9-13; 18:13). However, in the Millennium when it is cured of idolatry, it will finally fulfill its assigned duty. In the meantime, God’s church today has the same mission: to witness to the one true God and Savior. Numerous verses in our New Testament describe how the early church did just that: Luke 1:2; 24:48; Acts 1:22; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:16. For example, notice what Paul wrote: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (1 Corinthians 8:5-6 KJV).

Joseph S. Excell in his The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary enumerates qualities required of Christians to witness to God today: “1. Knowledge. 2. Veracity. 3. Consistency. 4. Patience. 5. Boldness, firmness. (H. E. I. 3922–3976) (e-Sword 12.1).” Christians need to study Holy Scripture to understand the true God since He has revealed His mind through it. They need to be reliable witnesses who affirm that what the Bible says is correct. They need to live consistently holy lives that effectively declare the truth. Patience and endurance are required to present this consistent message over and over if need be. In a world of opposition, they will require boldness and firmness. Strong convictions will fortify Christians that despite the opposition they will continue to represent a Holy God. The New Testament records how God’s early church did just that against all odds.

The lesson for Christians today is that the world is watching us, examining whether we live consistently holy lives that represent our only Savior, creating an attractive alternative to the hopelessness and futility of the gods of other world religions. In this time of world history with increasing danger and chaos, people need truth and hope. God calls upon His church to present this saving message to unbelievers by challenging us with this mission: “Ye are my witnesses.”  


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Open Thy Mouth Wide

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated reading time: 7 min. 19 sec.

Did you know that God offers to fulfill our needs abundantly if only we were so faith-filled as to ask for and expect them?

Sometimes Christians hesitate to ask for the big things, thinking it would be presumptuous or selfish to do so. Nonetheless, God challenges us to think big and pray big! He assures us He will supply our needs according to His will. This Digging Deeper focuses on a verse that has the potential to change our thinking about asking God for large blessings – and expecting to receive them!

Our focus verse in this article is: “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10 KJV). This command is not as strange as it may sound. Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones in their The Pulpit Commentary cite an earlier source: “The figure in the text is explained in Thomson’s ‘Land and the Book.’ ‘It is said to have been a custom in Persia, that when the king wishes to do a visitor especial honour, he desires him to open his mouth wide, and the king then crams it full of sweetmeats, and sometimes even with jewels. And to this day it is a mark of politeness in Orientals to tear off the daintiest bits of meat for a guest, and either lay them before him, or put them in his mouth'” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

If they only had obeyed…

As the first part of this verse indicates, reference is made to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. God laments that His nation had stopped listening to Him; consequently, He gave them up to their sinful desires. How different things would have been if only they had hearkened to and obeyed Him (vv. 11-13). He next explains how enriched their lives would have been if only they had been faithful. God would have defended them from enemies and provided them the choicest wheat and honey to satisfy their desires (vv. 14-16). 

What is notable about the opening of this psalm is that it makes reference to the Feast of Trumpets (v. 3) and probably the Feast of Tabernacles when it refers to “our solemn feast day,” according to The Ultimate Cross References Treasury (e-Sword 12.1). The NIV Study Bible describes this psalm as: “A festival song. It was probably composed for use at both the New Year festival (the first day of the [seventh] month, “New Moon”) and the beginning of Tabernacles (the 15th day of the month, full moon) … As memorials of God’s saving acts, Israel’s annual religious festivals called the nation to celebration, remembrance and recommitment (see Ps 95)” (Tecarta Bible App). These festivals reminded Israel of God’s Torah, i.e., His law (teaching, or instruction) that related to the steps in God’s plan of salvationThe Churches of God will soon be observing the Feast of Tabernacles so this psalm is relevant for our spiritual preparation for this joyous occasion. 

Like Baby Birds

Verse 10 includes a colorful metaphor, as explained by Joseph S. Exell in his The Biblical Illustrator: “The psalmist had probably often noticed how the young birds open their mouths wide for the food which they know the parent bird will give them, and for which, therefore, they wait with such eager expectancy. And he points to this familiar fact, and bids his countrymen in like manner expect blessing from God, for God will not disappoint them” (e-Sword 12.1). Notice that we are to expect God’s blessing! Exell goes on to explain that the condition for receiving from God is: “‘Open thy mouth wide’ … The picture is one of simple dependence and trust. Proud self-sufficiency shuts out the fulness of God. The first step to strength is to realize our own helplessness, simply to ‘open the mouth wide,’ that God may fill it” (Ibid.). These are the prerequisites for such in-filling. 

Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible adds his perspective: “The meaning here is, ‘I can amply supply all your needs. You need not go to other gods – the gods of other lands – as if there were any deficiency in my power or resources; as if I were not able to meet your necessities. All your needs I can meet. Ask what you need – what you will; come to me and make any request with reference to yourselves as individuals or as a nation – to this life or the life to come – and you will find in me all abundant supply for all your needs, and a willingness to bless you commensurate with my resources’” (e-Sword 12.1). Notice that Barnes makes the point that these requested blessings are not just for this life but even for our lives in the world to come. 

Barnes continues in his Notes on the Bible with an application for today: “What is here said of the Hebrews may be said of the people of God at all times. There is not a want of our nature – of our bodies or our souls; a want pertaining to this life or the life to come – to ourselves, to our families, to our friends, to the church, or to our country – which God is not able to meet; and there is not a real necessity in any of these respects which he is not willing to meet” (e-Sword 12.1). Here Barnes expands our requests to include those for loved ones, acquaintances, associates, fellow Christians, and our nation. The nations of the world truly need the prayers of God’s people!

If We Bodly Ask

We need not be shy in asking boldly with anticipation. Adam Clarke in his Commentary on the Bible exhorts: “Let thy desires be ever so extensive, I will gratify them if thou wilt be faithful to me. Thou shalt lack no manner of thing that is good” (e-Sword 12.1). Do we crave God’s truth? This verse shows that the more morally hungry we are the better fed we shall be. Joseph S. Exell’s The Bible Illustrator explains that such a request implies health: “The body without appetite for food is diseased; the intellect without appetite for truth is diseased; and the soul without appetite for righteousness is diseased” (Ibid.). If we do not crave God’s provision, we are unhealthy in some way. We must recognize our needs for God’s intervention and meet God’s requirement. Exell then presents the conditions for such filling: “Proud self-sufficiency shuts out the fulness of God. The first step to strength is to realize our own helplessness, simply to ‘open the mouth wide,’ that God may fill it” (Ibid.). 

In his The Pulpit Commentary Joseph S. Exell notes that some never open their mouths at all, others open their mouths but not wide. He then presents the conditions for being fed by God: “There must be:

1. A mouth to open; that is, power to believe. Now, we all have that, and use it every day about other things.

2. Need of God’s blessing. Unquestionably there is that.

3. Sense of this need. Consciousness of it, and distress because of it. Hunger after God’s blessing.

4. Will to believe. Trust is more a matter of the will than of the reason. ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’ Refuse to doubt, resolve to believe” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). 

Expecting to be filled

During the autumn festivals, God’s people have the prospect of being very well fed by God through His ministers in sermonettes, sermons, and Bible studies. However, what we have read in this study explains the conditions for such in-filling. We must humbly recognize our need for God’s provision, ask Him in believing prayer for it, and expect that He shall fill it as He has promised, according to His will and timetable. We must open our mouths like baby birds expecting our parents to feed us. However, to be very well fed, we must open them wide!


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Good and Pleasant Unity

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 8 min. 21 sec.

Did you know that unity among Christian brethren is described by God in the Book of Psalms as good and pleasant using two colorful similes?

We live at a time in western culture when individualism prevails over community spirit. Regrettably, this has created a yawning chasm difficult to breach when people insist that their way is the only way. This is a comparatively modern social separation. The Ancient Near East in which God developed the nation Israel was much more community-minded. How individuals chose to conduct themselves had consequences for their immediate families, clans, tribes, and nation. This Digging Deeper showcases a short Old Testament psalm about God’s instruction on unity among those who call each other brethren.

Our focus passage will be Psalm 133. The Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, Vol. 3 describes this psalm as “… a short but beautiful poem extolling the blessedness of brotherly unity. Such unity characterized the meetings of the Israelites at the great festivals of Jerusalem. Harmony and brotherly love prevailed on these occasions” (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1977, p. 918). The Churches of God are rapidly approaching God’s sacred fall festival season. This descriptive hymn from Israel’s hymnbook provides some much-needed balm during this stressful time of world history that has strained relations – even among brethren. Let’s take a closer look at a favorite hymn of many to prepare ourselves to celebrate God’s Feasts in the right spirit.

A Hymn for a Special Occasion

Psalm 133 is part of a lengthy section of 15 psalms (120-134) known as the Songs of Degrees, or Ascents. Some commentators suggest that these were hymns sung by the Israelites on their way to celebrate the festivals at Jerusalem. They ascended in elevation through the Judean hills into the city of Jerusalem. Others suggest these 15 psalms in some way corresponded to 15 steps leading up to or into the Temple. The ESV Study Bible notes: “Some traditional Jewish interpreters have suggested that these were songs sung on the ‘steps’ (as the same word can mean, e.g., Exodus 20:26), either in parts of the temple or up from a spring in Jerusalem; others have taken them as geared toward returning to Jerusalem from exile (cf. Ezra 1:3)” (Tecarta Bible App).

The NKJ Study Bible adds further: “As pilgrim families made the arduous journey to the holy city for festive worship, they would use these psalms as encouragement along the way. It is also possible that once they arrived in Jerusalem, they would sing these songs anew as they drew near the temple, reenacting their journey and affirming God’s blessing on their path” (Tecarta Bible App). Whatever their origin, these 15 psalms were a special collection of hymns for such special occasions as God’s festivals. Unity was essential as Israelites from all their tribal allotments gathered in large numbers to worship in Jerusalem. These long and arduous journeys on foot or beast required cooperation and support – fruits of unity.

The theme for this article is verse 1: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  (Psalm 133:1 KJV). The superscription for this psalm announces that this psalm is “A Song of degrees of David.” It is one of four in this 15-psalm set ascribed to him. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible reports that “As God’s people fill Jerusalem to celebrate the great festivals, this reminds them that unity is good and pleasant. Their pilgrimage is not simply an individualistic act of piety but expresses solidarity with the larger body of God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). Notice that this stresses solidarity with the larger congregation, not individualism. The NKJ Study Bible notes that “Good and …pleasant may be rephrased as ‘great delight’ or ‘good pleasure.’ There is a sense of serene wonder in these words describing the unity of God’s people” (Ibid.).

Like Oil on a Beard

Verse 2 of Psalm 133 describes this unity by reference to the simile of anointing oil as explained by the ESV Study Bible: “The first simile is the ordination oil on the head of Aaron and his descendants (cf. Exodus 30:22–33). This oil made the priests ‘holy,’ consecrated to God’s purpose. The image means that when Israel is true to its ideal, it is displaying genuine consecration and carrying out its calling in the world” (Tecarta Bible App). What the oil represented is explained by the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: “Anointing with oil was used to symbolize God’s authorization and empowerment of a king (see notes on 1 Samuel 2:10; 10:1) or other representative, such as a priest, for divine service … The ritual that set apart Aaron and his sons for priestly service involved pouring oil on their heads and garments (Exodus 29:1, 7, 21, 29; Leviticus 8:2, 12). This ‘sacred anointing oil’ (Exodus 30:25) consisted of a mixture of oil and four spices (myrrh, cinnamon, calamus and cassia [Exodus 30:23–24]) uniquely combined by the special skills of a perfumer (Exodus 31:1–3, 11; 37:29; 1 Samuel 8:13)” (Ibid.).

This anointing was not “a little dab will do you” as clarified by the NIV Study Bible: “The oil of Aaron’s anointing (Exodus 29:7; Lev 21:10) saturated all the hair of his beard and ran down on his priestly robe, signifying his total consecration to holy service. Similarly, communal harmony sanctifies God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). God’s people are to be set apart from others through their unity and love. Additionally, the NKJ Study Bible notes: “This psalm pictures the oil in such large quantity that it flows from the head to the beard to the garment of Aaron, who represented the priests of God. When God’s people live together in unity, they experience God’s blessing” (Ibid.). This second verse teaches us that unity is expected by God and that it sanctifies and empowers His people for service.

Like Dew on a Mountain

The third verse, concluding Psalm 133, mentions a second simile: dew on Hermon. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible pinpoints this mountain: “One of the highest peaks in Israel’s northern mountain region, it was well watered by rain, snow and dew, making it cool and lush (Jeremiah 18:14). Vegetation in the dryer regions of southern Israel, where Jerusalem and Mount Zion were located, depended on dew and what little rain it received. Thus, for the temple mount (Mount Zion) to experience the dew of Mount Hermon pictures conditions of refreshment” (Tecarta Bible App). Mount Hermon’s dew was vital for productivity. The ESV Study Bible further explains:”…the dew is crucial for the vegetation during the dry season (Genesis 27:28; Deuteronomy. 33:28; 2 Samuel 1:21; 1 Kings 17:1; Proverbs 3:20; 19:12; Hosea 14:5; Haggai 1:10; Zechariah 8:12), and the image conveys the thought of a fruitful land. This too was part of the covenantal ideal (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1–14)” (Ibid.). Unity is the model that adds refreshment and fruitfulness to brotherly harmony and love.

Concerning the second and third verses, the NIV Study Bible notes: “The two similes (vv. 2–3) are well chosen: God’s blessings flowed to Israel through the priestly ministrations at the sanctuary (Exodus 29:44–46; Leviticus 9:22–24; Numbers 6:24–26)—epitomizing God’s redemptive mercies—and through heaven’s dew that sustained life in the fields—epitomizing God’s providential mercies in the creation order” (Tecarta Bible App). God’s redemptive and providential mercies should be the causes of brethren uniting together in combined worship.

A Portrait of the Kingdom

One wonders if the ancient Israelites ever fully achieved such incomparable unity. The NKJ Study Bible answers: “The intent of God is for the good of His people in this life and in the life to come. The people of Israel rarely achieved the level of unity—or the level of blessing—that the poem describes. Ultimately, this is a portrait of the kingdom of God. One day there will be the spiritual unity of God’s people that this poem describes” (Tecarta Bible App). Though we may never fully achieve the unity so described by these verses, God’s people need to strive for such a goal more and more unto the perfect day.

To bring together the meaning of these three verses, the ESV Study Bible notes: “Since this is a Song of Ascents, the ‘brothers dwelling in unity’ would be the fellow Israelite pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem, abiding in peace with one another. The ideal Israel is a community of true brotherhood, where the members practice mutual concern for one another; if this were achieved, it would indeed be good and pleasant. This should be the goal of church life (John 17:20–23)” (Tecarta Bible App).

As we gather together during God’s festivals, unity is an essential ingredient as explained by the NIV Zondervan Study Bible: “Their pilgrimage is not simply an individualistic act of piety but expresses solidarity with the larger body of God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). Unity among brethren is an anointing that consecrates our relationships, provides refreshment, and promotes growth. Our festival observance must not be solely for one’s private devotion and service of God. In the family of God, no one is an island. Adapting our behavior required during a pandemic, we are to safely join ourselves to other members of God’s earthly family to enjoy a brief foretaste of the coming good and pleasant kingdom of God.


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: In Awe of Thy Word

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty of Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes, 34 seconds

Did you know that when you read the Bible with due respect and attention you will experience a sense of awe about this supernatural book?

We ended the last Digging Deeper with a verse admonishing us to love God’s word. Along with love will come a sense of awe. Many today treat the Bible like any other book. Some critics consider it merely a work of men framed by the evolution of religion. Some do not even treat their printed copy with due respect, instead, using it in a stack of books to raise something on one’s desk, or as a doorstop. Others cast it about recklessly, even laying it on the floor.

By contrast, others would not even think of doing such a thing due to their awe for the word of God. The verse we will study in this Digging Deeper may be part of the reason for such devout respect. This will be the last article of our recent trilogy including “The Book Unlike Any Other” and “Every Word of God is Pure.”

The heart that stands in awe

Our focus will be on this verse: “Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word”  (Psalm 119:161 KJV). 

In the history of Bible printing through the centuries, humorous mistakes have occurred that were later recognized and corrected. This is one of them. “Princes” was mistakenly printed as “Printers” giving us the “Printers Bible.”

Mark Cambron, in his Mastering the Bible, lists others that have raised an eyebrow through the years: “We have the ‘Adulterous Bible’, where in the seventh commandment, the word ‘not’ is omitted…The word ‘murderers’ was printed for ‘murmurers’, causing us to have the ‘Murderers Bible’…In Luke 14:26 we have the word ‘wife’ used instead of ‘life’, thus we have the ‘Wife-Hater Bible’…There are these mistakes in printing. No one can blame God for that. God says what He means, and means what He says” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). 

Our focus text records a bold statement from a true worshiper who has been persecuted for no good reason. Perhaps his tormentors attempted to pressure him to go contrary to God’s word. Instead, he stood firm because of his awe for what God has said. He could have given in to political pressure and threats to submit to the princes instead of to the word of the Almighty.

Long before the New Testament was composed, this person understood the principle of Acts 5:29: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible elaborates this verse: “We ought to obey God rather than men, and to make sure of God’s favour, though we throw ourselves under the frowns of all the world, Luke 12:4, Luke 12:5. The heart that stands in awe of God’s word is armed against the temptations that arise from persecution” (e-Sword 12.1). 

This verse from the Book of Psalms was quoted by Jesus to explain the vitriol He experienced from some of the Jewish rulers during His trials. Notice John 15:25 (KJV) “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” This verse was one of scores of Old Testament Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming. Many were fulfilled during His last week before His death and resurrection including several on the day of His death. Many others await fulfillment at His Second Coming. 

The meaning of “awe”

To stand in awe is defined by Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 as “to fear greatly; to reverence profoundly” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). It also defines it as “reverential fear, or solemn wonder; profound reverence.” The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explains this healthy respect: “Not slavish, but reverential fear. It was accompanied with faith and hope (Psalm 119:120; Psalm 119:147), such as Josiah felt, his ‘heart being tender, so that he humbled himself before the Lord,’ when the words of God’s book of promises and threatenings were read to him (2 Kings 22:10-11; 2 Kings 22:19). He who fears God’s Word need not fear the word of man (Isaiah 8:12-13; Matthew 10:28; 1 Peter 3:14-15; Luke 12:5).” 

The Pulpit Commentary edited by Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones characterizes this awe: 

Here we have THE TRUE DREAD [AWE]. (Ver. 161) 1. Not the displeasure or the opposition of man; though this may be incurred without cause, and we may feel that the suspicion, or the ill feeling, or the attack is altogether wanton and unprovoked. 2. But the displeasure of God. Undisturbed by human ill will or intrigue, we ‘stand in awe’ of Divine disapproval; we shrink from thinking the thought, cherishing the feeling, taking the course, which Christ would condemn; we are afraid of leaving undone or unattempted that to which he is calling us with his sovereign voice.  (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22)

The word awe appears three times in our King James Version of the Bible. The two other references are below. Notice that the entire earth is admonished to stand in awe of God’s word. Doing so will keep us from sinning.

Psalm 4:4 

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 

Psalm 33:8 

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 

A tool to overcome sin

The way to combat and overcome sin is to stand in awe of and meditate upon the word of God. It reveals to us the way of blessing and hope for a better world. Our present world is corrupted by sin. By and large, it does not stand in awe of God’s word. At times, its rulers try to force citizens to yield to their sinful demands. Our key verse reveals one such person who would not buckle. This is a lesson for all of us as we face increasingly dangerous conditions in these very end times. 

The book Handfuls On Purpose, Vol. 7 by James Smith and Robert Lee gives this commentary on our key verse: “Stop, before you go any further in sinful unbelief, and consider where, and what you are. Stand in awe at the thought of disobeying God’s Word (Psalm 119:161). Stand in awe at the thought of the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). Stand in awe at the thought of opportunities lost, the uncertainty of life, and the certainty of judgment. Stand in awe as you think of the infinite love and mercy of God towards sinners, in the sufferings and death of His Son. Stand in awe, lest ye should resist the gracious stirrings of His Holy Spirit and die in your sin” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). 

Psalm 119 provides us much understanding about the different terms for God’s word and what should be our approach to it. Joseph S. Exell’s Biblical Illustrator explains how our primary verse reveals a rare experience as amplified by nearby verses: 

  1. Reverence for God’s Word. The meaning of this, perhaps, is, I have a greater dread of violating Thy law than I have of all the persecuting powers of princes or potentates. This is right, this is sublimely noble.
  2. Delight in God’s Word (verse 162).
  3. Loyalty to God’s Word (verse 163).
  4. Gratitude for God’s Word (verse 164). (Homilist.) (e-Sword 12.1)

It must be genuine

Reverence for God’s word will naturally produce delight, loyalty, and gratitude that God has preserved His Holy Bible for us – therefore, do we love it (Psalm 119:140). One of the outstanding cross-references for our focus text is “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”  (Isaiah 66:2KJV). 

Godly awe moves one to tremble at God’s word. How many are so moved by God’s Holy Bible today that they tremble at it? This feeling cannot be contrived but must be a genuine sense of the seriousness of our charge to serve God and Him alone. Standing in awe of His word will guide us to do just that. 


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Every Word of God is Pure

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min., 41 sec

Did you know that God says every one of His words is pure?

Some question the Bible today, considering it only another one of many religious books that humans have produced over the millennia. They say it may have some truths in it but it also contains much to be discarded as unscientific, antiquated, or irrelevant. Critics and doubters assert that various myths and inaccuracies have crept into it. What is a Christian to make of all of this? Does the Bible attest to its purity? What internal evidence affirms the accuracy and dependability of God’s word? We tackle this fundamental issue in this edition of Digging Deeper.

Our main text is: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him”  (Proverbs 30:5 KJV). God affirms that every word of His is pure. At this point, we will zoom in on the original word translated here as “pure.” The Hebrew word is tsawraf. This word relates to the smelting of precious metals. It occurs 33 times in the Hebrew Bible and is translated by different words depending on the context. The NET Bible explains its use in this verse: “The text here uses an implied comparison (a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis): It compares the perfection of every word from God with some precious metal that has been refined and purified (e.g., Psalm 12:6). The point is that God’s word is trustworthy; it has no defects and flaws, nothing false or misleading. The second half of the verse explains the significance of this point – it is safe to trust the LORD” (e-Sword 12.1). God’s words have passed through a spiritual furnace to remove all impurities, leaving behind only the purest elements.

The ESV Study Bible elaborates on this verse: “…the implication is that God’s words are a proven foundation for one’s life. The proverb’s emphasis on every ‘word’ (Hb. ’imrah) underscores the truthfulness, trustworthiness, and reliability of the Bible, not just in its overall message but also of every detail. This verse supplies support for the doctrine of the ‘plenary’ (full, complete) inspiration of Scripture, extending even to ‘every word'” (Tecarta Bible App). Ethelbert Bullinger in his Companion Bible informs us that the Hebrew for “word” (imrah) occurs only here in the Book of Proverbs; additionally, the Hebrew word for “God” (Eloah) as a title for God is used only here in Proverbs (e-Sword 12.1). Standing alone in the entire Book of Proverbs, these words stress the importance of this admonition. 

Not only are we assured God’s word is refined and purified, but it also asserts that it has been purified numerous times: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6 KJV). The number seven symbolizes completion, perfection, and frequency. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains its meaning: “The idea here would seem to be that the process was repeated until the silver became entirely pure. The sense is, that the words of the Lord are ‘perfectly pure.’ There is no admixture of falsehood in his statements; there is no deception in his promises; there is no flattery in what he says. This was the ground of confidence on the part of the psalmist – that while men (even those who professed to be good men) so failed that no reliance could be placed on their statements, the most perfect trust could be reposed on all the statements of God” (e-Sword 12.1). As a result, we can fully rely on them as John Gill explains in his Exposition of the Bible: “The Scriptures are the words of God; and they are pure and holy, free from all human mixtures, and from all fraud and deceit; they are the Scriptures of truth. The promises are the words of God, and they are firm and stable, and always to be depended on, and are ever fulfilled, being yea and amen in Christ Jesus” (Ibid.).

Various explanations have been offered through the years about these seven stages of purification. The Common Man’s Reference Bible has one such explanation: “The earthly purification process of the words of God involved seven languages: Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Old Syriac, Old Latin, Old German, and the King’s English”. Other authors have suggested seven historic stages of the English Bible leading to the King James Version. Whichever it was, we can be sure God has safely guarded His word through the centuries. Let’s notice these cross-references, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him”  (2 Samuel  22:31 KJV). Not only is it tried (tested, proven), it is also settled: “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven”  (Psalm 119:89 KJV). We do not have to be concerned about whether the Bible contains all that God intended us to have. Additionally, notice that “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160 KJV). Some of the greatest attacks today are leveled against the first 11 chapters of Genesis. This verse tells us that everything in it, starting with Genesis, is trustworthy.   

Not only are we assured God has purified his word, but notice this promise: “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever (Psalm 12:7 KJV). Timothy Morton in his book Which Translation Should You Trust? provides this conclusion: “That God has promised to preserve His word should be obvious to the most casual reader of the Bible. He not only loved man enough to give him His word in the first place, but He also promised to keep it pure, somewhere, for every generation” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). Not only did God originally inspire the very words of Scripture but then He preserved this word through the millennia so that we have a trustworthy Holy Book today even though we depend on translations. The very Bibles we hold and read are God’s witness to us. We stake our eternal lives on this Book. Do you know where that preserved word is? Have you demonstrated to your satisfaction that the Holy Bible is His word? If you haven’t already done so, you need to do the work to settle this in your mind once and for all.

Bible scholars and commentators through the centuries have realized their limitations in attempting to expound the pure word of God. We can admire their devotion and diligent effort working many years to provide Bible study resources. They share with us many things that the average Bible reader might miss. We learn from them as did the Ethiopian Eunuch from Philip. Nonetheless, those who have studied it over many years recognize that there is so much more they cannot fully fathom. There are limitless levels of understanding of the richness of Scripture. Notice this comment from Joseph Benson in his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments: “You must not expect the full knowledge of divine mysteries from me, nor from any man, but from the word of God, which is a certain rule, both for your faith and practice, because every part of it is holy, and true, and good, and there is not the least mixture of falsehood or folly in it, as there is in all the words and writings of men” (e-Sword 12.1). 

Purifying God’s word seven times has produced a perfect witness. Notice: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple”  (Psalm 19:7 KJV). Lest we should be tempted to think that His word may have disappeared, notice: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8 KJV). Verses like those we have read should assure us that we can depend on this Book and live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). Notice these words from our Savior: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 KJV). We need to know where these words are. Once we do, we are thus admonished: “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it (Psalm 119:140 KJV)”. 


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: The Book Unlike Any Other

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min., 44 sec

Did you know that there is one book in human history that is unlike any other?

Innumerable books have been written through the millennia of humankind’s existence. Solomon commented on this even in his time of the 900s B.C.: “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end“(Ecclesiastes 12:12 KJV). It is impossible to imagine how many more books have been written since his time. I remember hearing years ago that another book about the American Civil War is released every day! These volumes describe only one event of U.S. history. Uncountable books have been written on all aspects of human knowledge. However, this Digging Deeper will reveal the book unlike any other.

That incomparable book is the Holy Bible. You may own one or several copies of this volume. To this day, it still is one of the most purchased books every year. What is it about this book that draws people to it, even if they don’t read it? Many think of owning one as a kind of good luck charm. People know there is something special about it, even if they do not know much about what is inside. Look on the spine of your Bible. Commonly, it is called the Holy Bible (at least on older Bibles). What does the word bible mean in common usage? Additionally, why is this particular book called holy? There is good reason why it is thus entitled. 

The word bible simply means “book.” In common usage, the word bible is used in titles of handbooks or manuals, such as for hunters or fishermen. However, the word bible in the titles of these books is not preceded by the word holy. We need to explore these two words in greater depth to understand why the Scriptures are called the Holy Bible. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) in its article “The Bible” provides us the derivation of our word bible: “The word ‘Bible’ is the equivalent of the Greek word biblia (diminutive from bı́blos, the inner bark of the papyrus), meaning originally ‘books'” (e-Sword 12.1). 

Richard Watson’s Biblical and Theological Dictionary in its article “Bible” explains the origin of our word bible further: “The word Bible comes from the Greek Βιβλος, or Βιβλιον, and is used to denote any book; but is emphatically applied to the book of inspired Scripture, which is ‘the book’ as being superior in excellence to all other books. Βιβλιον again comes from Βιβλος, the Egyptian reed, from which the ancient paper was procured” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). The word has a humble origin, descending from the papyrus plant that grows in marshy areas. Reeds of this plant were cut, sliced, dried, and pounded at right angles onto another piece of papyrus to make a sheet – a sheet of paper. Our word paper descends from papyrus

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia provides further development of the term: “Jerome’s name for the Bible (4th century) was ‘the Divine Library’ (Bibliotheca Divina). Afterward came an important change from plural to singular meaning. ‘In process of time this name, with many others of Greek origin, passed into the vocabulary of the western church; and in the 13th century, by a happy solecism, the neuter plural came to be regarded as a feminine singular, and ‘’The Books’ became by common consent ‘The Book'(biblia, singular), in which form the word was passed into the languages of modern Europe’ (Westcott, Bible in the Church, 5). Its earliest occurrences in English are in Piers Plowman, Chaucer and Wycliffe” (e-Sword 12.1).  This constructive but unusual occurrence seems to have been providential since “The Books” became “The Book!” The ISBE continues: “This word designates the collection of the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament recognized and in use in the Christian churches. Different religions (such as the Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, Mohammedan) have their collections of sacred writings, sometimes spoken of as their ‘Bibles.’ The Jews acknowledge only the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Christians add the writings contained in the New Testament” (Ibid.). 

Christians refer to the Sacred Scriptures as the Holy Bible. Let us now focus on the word holyWebster’s 1828 Dictionary in its article “Holy” provides this second definition in its list: “Hallowed; consecrated or set apart to a sacred use, or to the service or worship of God; a sense frequent in Scripture; as the holy sabbath; holy oil; holy vessels; a holy nation; the holy temple; a holy priesthood” (e-Sword 12.1). Therefore, we may conclude that the Holy Bible is a volume inspired by God as hallowed, consecrated, and set apart for sacred use in the service and worship of Him. In this way, it is The Book unlike any other. When we refer to The Bible we need to capitalize the first b in the word Bible for this reason. This acknowledges the respect people afford to God’s Book. Smith’s Bible Dictionary elaborates on this term, “It is The Book as being superior to all other books. But the application of the word BIBLE to the collected books of the Old and New Testaments is not to be traced farther back than the fifth century of our era” (e-Sword 12.1). 

The Holy Bible contains the Old and New Testaments. Smith’s Bible Dictionary defines them this way, “The Bible consists of two great parts, called the Old and New Testaments, separated by an interval of nearly four hundred years. These Testaments are further divided into sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New. These books are a library in themselves being written in every known form of old literature. Twenty-two of them are historical, five are poetical, eighteen are prophetical, twenty-one are epistolary” (e-Sword 12.1). There are within several different genres of literature, as Smith continues, “They contain logical arguments, poetry, songs and hymns, history, biography, stories, parables, fables [fictitous stories meant to teach a moral lesson], eloquence, law, letters and philosophy” (Ibid.). God inspired each genre in its unique purpose for conveying His message. Smith then describes the over 40 different human authors God inspired: “Among these authors were kings, farmers, mechanics, scientific men, lawyers, generals, fishermen, ministers and priests, a tax-collector, a doctor, some rich, some poor, some city bred, some country born — thus touching all the experiences of men extending over 1500 years” (Ibid.).

Our Holy Bible is God’s story in which He narrates His plan of salvation from creation (Genesis) to new creation (Revelation). Smith’s Bible Dictionary elaborates, “The Holy Bible is the name given to the revelation of God to man contained in sixty-six books or pamphlets, bound together and forming one book and only one, for it has in reality one author and one purpose and plan, and is the development of one scheme of the redemption of man” (e-Sword 12.1). Ancient books were written on long scrolls of papyrus or parchment (animal skins). A change was made centuries ago (that may be attributable to the early Christian church) of binding together several smaller sheets of paper on one common edge. This was called a codex. This enabled preachers a convenient way of transporting the Bible on their long journeys. 

This Bible’s story includes the coming of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to provide the necessary substitutionary atonement for human sin. Christians are blessed with four volumes about the life, teachings, and ministry of Jesus. Even then, these four are only a summary of His remarkable life and times. One of the four authors, John, informs us, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:25 KJV). However, these four volumes included in the 66 books of the Holy Bible provide Christians all they need to understand God’s magnificent plan of salvation.

Despite the various genres of literature, the many human authors, the vast separation of time between when these authors composed their books, God’s story contains one overarching theme: the redemption and salvation of those He made in His image. The next time you open your Bible, remind yourself that this is God’s Book and that He is communicating with you unlike in any other book. The Holy Bible is the Book of Books!


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Something Better Than Life

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 6 min., 25 sec.

Did you know that there is something better than life itself?

It is only natural to treasure and protect our lives because they are so precious and relatively short. We try to take good care of ourselves and live safely to preserve life. To us, it is one of the most precious things of our earthly existence. However, one biblical writer asserted that there was something in his life that was even better than life itself. Most people would find this hard to believe. Nonetheless, this is what the Holy Bible states. In my daily Bible reading, occasionally I come across an intriguing phrase that arouses my interest. Researching some of them has lead to several of my Digging Deeper articles. This topic is another one.  Today’s Digging Deeper will disclose this superior blessing that is better than life.

The word better appears 7 times in the Book of Psalms. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible Notes provides a list of them entitled “Seven Better Things In Psalms”:

1. A little with righteousness is better than the riches of many wicked (Psa 37:16).

2. God’s lovingkindness is better than life itself (Psa 63:3).

3. Praise is better than sacrifices (Psa 69:31).

4. One day in God’s house is better than a thousand other days (Psa 84:10).

5. Trust in God is better than confidence in man (Psa 118:8).

6. Trust in God is better than confidence in princes (Psa 118:9).

7. Truth is better than gold and silver (Psa 119:72). (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22)

Our focus for this article will be on just one: “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee”  (Psalm 63:3 KJV). The superscription in this psalm’s first verse tells us it is “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.”  David spent much time outdoors in his younger years, first as a shepherd boy, later when he was on the run from his persecutor, King Saul, and even later when he as a warrior-king leading his army against their enemies. He knew many dangers and developed a special bond with his God that enabled him to trust Him and fully appreciate the Almighty’s lovingkindness. 

The English word lovingkindess appears 30 times in our Authorized Version (KJV) of the Bible, all in the Old Testament. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Vol. 1 defines it as, “Affectionate tenderness and consideration; kindness arising from a deep personal love, as the active love of God for his creatures” (Oxford University Press, 1986, Letter L, p.470). Years ago, I read that when the English translators came to the original Hebrew word, hesed, they did not have an exact English equivalent. Stephen D. Renn’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words explains: “Concerning the translation of hesed with reference to the character of Yahweh, it is difficult, if not impossible, to precisely convey the full meaning of the term with just one English word or phrase. The semantic range of the term is rich and complex” (Hendrickson Publishers, 2006, p. 634). Therefore, the English translators created a new word by combining loving and kindness to express the meaning of the Hebrew word. The OED reports that The Coverdale Bible, the first complete Modern English translation of the Bible, first introduced lovingkindness in 1535 (Ibid.). The Coverdale Bible was also the first printed complete English Bible. English Bibles produced after the Coverdale Bible followed its example by translating the Hebrew word as lovingkindness.

 Hesed appears about 250 times in the Hebrew Bible and is usually translated today as “mercy,” “kindness,” or “steadfast love.” Renn gives this initial definition: “…hesed constitutes one of the most significant theological terms in the Hebrew Scriptures. The right understanding of the term is bound up with its relationship to the divine covenant with Israel. When applied to Yahweh, hesed is fundamentally the expression of his loyalty and devotion to the solemn promises attached to the covenant. It is most commonly applied to God, but it is also used to describe a human quality, as well as expressing human commitment to the covenant” (Ibid., p. 633).

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) also connects this Hebrew word to God’s forgiveness: “When used of God hesed denotes, in general, ‘the Divine Love condescending to His creatures, more especially to sinners, in unmerited kindness’” (Delitzsch). It is frequently associated with forgiveness, and is practically equivalent to ‘mercy’ or ‘mercifulness’ (Exodus 20:6)…” (e-Sword 12.1). David certainly needed God’s forgiveness, for example after his affair with Bathsheba and his ordering of her husband Uriah’s death. David deserved death, but God forgave him because of His lovingkindness (2 Samuel 12:13). Notice this cross-reference: “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bath-sheba. HAVE mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions”  (Psalm 51:1 KJV).

We all need such divine forgiveness! The ISBE article continues: “Cheyne (Encyclopedia Biblica) regards hesed as denoting paternal affection on God’s part, answered by filial and loyal affection and brotherly love on man’s part (philadelphia in the New Testament). The word ‘lovingkindness’ does not occur in the New Testament, but as its equivalents we have such terms as ‘mercy,’ ‘goodness,’ ‘kindness,’ ‘brotherly love’” (e-Sword 12.1).

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains why David considered God’s lovingkindess better than life: “Life is the most valued and valuable thing pertaining to this world which we can possess … But, above this, David valued the favor and friendship of God. If one or the other was to be sacrificed, he preferred that it should be his life; he would be willing to exchange that for the favor of God. Life was not desirable, life furnished no comforts – no joys – without the divine favor” (e-Sword 12.1). David had a change of heart that today we call “repentance.” Once he surrendered to God, he had a different set of values. Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible illustrates: “This is the language of every regenerate soul. But O how few prefer the approbation of God to the blessings of life, or even to life itself in any circumstances” (e-Sword 12.1). So many today live for themselves apart from God’s lovingkindness with the philosophy, “Eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). 

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible takes this understanding a step further: “For life without the love of God is nothing else than death: a man that has no share in the love of God is dead while he lives; all the enjoyments of life, health, riches, honour, friends, & c. are nothing without the love of God; the meanest temporal blessings with it are preferable to the greatest without it, Proverbs 15:17; it lasts longer than life, and therefore must be better than that; death cannot separate from it; it continues to all eternity” (e-Sword 12.1). Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible provides a further consideration: “God’s lovingkindness is in itself, and in the account of all the saints, better than life. It is our spiritual life, and that is better than temporal life, Psalm 30:5. It is better, a thousand times, to die in God’s favour than to live under his wrath” (e-Sword 12.1).

Our focus verse came from the Book of Psalms, which was Israel’s hymnbook and praise literature. It displays “true values” in a world that has lost its way through sin. Our world’s sense of “values” are often corrupt and ungodly. By contrast, God’s people strive for godly virtues. David was inspired to write about many of these virtues in his psalms. Now that Christ has come, Christians have even more reason to consider God’s lovingkindness better than life!


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Christ the Creator

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min

Did you know that our Lord Jesus Christ is the one of whom it is spoken, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 KJV)?

Many people think of the Creator is the one Christians now know as “God the Father.” However, New Testament Scriptures clarify that the Father created all things by Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Hebrews 1:1-2; Ephesians 3:8-9). This is such an important doctrine it is surprising that more Christians are not taught this. In this Digging Deeper, we will explore this wonderful truth that should encourage us to appreciate this intricate and magnificent creation from our Savior – and to take better care of it (Genesis 2:15).

Colossians 1:15 declares that Christ is “the image of the invisible God.” Then follow our keystone Scriptures from which we will launch our study about Christ’s preeminence in Creation: Colossians 1:16-17 KJV “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  (17)  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” The NKJ Study Bible notes that “This early Christian hymn emphasizes the superiority of Christ over all creation” (Tecarta Bible App). 

Joseph Henry Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament explains that the Greek words for “all things” in v. 16 are ta panta, which mean “the universe of things,”  or “the totality of created things” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). The NIV Study Bible notes that “Seven times in vv. 15 – 20 Paul mentions ‘all creation,’ ‘all things’ and ‘everything,’ thus stressing that Christ is supreme over all” (Tecarta Bible App). Realizing this, we can now better appreciate that the One who sacrificed His life for us to become our Savior was also the Creator of Genesis 1:1.

Notice that Jesus Christ is the Creator, not the created, as some heretical teachers, such as Arians, have proclaimed. This explanation from The Henry Morris Study Bible elaborates: “Jesus Christ certainly is not a created being—not even the first created being—as many have argued, for the obvious reason that He Himself is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, material and spiritual, visible or invisible. Only God can create, and God did not create Himself!” (Master Books, 2071, p. 1831). 

The Gospel of John begins with this teaching because it is fundamental for understanding who Jesus Christ is as God and Savior. Speaking of the one called the Word, notice what John writes: (John 1:3 KJV)  “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Notice further down (John 1:10 KJV):  “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” The world did not know its Creator and, through its rebellion, offended Him! Nonetheless, when a person repents and is converted, he/she …”is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10). How forgiving and generous is our Creator and Savior!

Notice that creation includes not only the things visible but things invisible as well, including the angelic world. Colossians 1:16 proclaims that Christ created the invisible creatures and their thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. Explaining these various terms, The KJV Study Bible notes: “‘Thrones’ refer to angels who sit on thrones as rulers; ‘dominions’ refer to domains or kingdoms over which these heavenly beings reign, ‘principalities’ refer to rulers, and ‘powers’ refer to angelic monarchs who wield regal power. Since Christ created these various ranks of angels, He is supreme over them. Striking a blow at the Colossian heresy advocating angel worship (2:18), this text forbids Christians to pay homage to angels or other heavenly beings created by God” (Tecarta Bible App).

Worship of these angelic creatures was part of the multi-faceted Colossian heresy. The NKJ Study Bible explains Colossians 1:16 further: “This idea is in direct contradiction to the false teaching, later known as Gnosticism, that was developing in the Colossian church. In general, Gnostics believed that various angelic beings were the creators of the earth and that Christ was one among many of these angels” (Ibid.). 

These angelic designations are also a warning to Christians. The ESV Study Bible adds: “Paul is using the current Jewish terms for various rankings of angels (although he doesn’t explain their relative ranks). His emphasis here may be on the evil angels, since they play a significant part in this letter (Col. 2:8, 10, 15, 20). This would not mean, however, that Jesus created evil angels; all spiritual powers were created by Jesus, but some later chose to rebel against God and so to become evil” (Tecarta Bible App). 

These wicked angels no doubt rebelled with Lucifer. Here is what The Henry Morris Study Bible reports: “The pagan world, whether of the ancient Greeks or of the modern New Agers, has always believed in angels, demons or spirit beings of various types and powers, and it is vital for us to understand that such beings do exist and can wield great influence in the visible world as well as the invisible. Many have rebelled against Him, both men and angels, always justifying themselves by maintaining they are the products of some cosmic evolutionary process instead of creation by the eternal, transcendent God.” (Master Books, 2071, p. 1832).

Colossians 1:17 adds: “…by him [Christ] all things consist.” Bullinger’s Companion Bible explains that the word consist means, “cohere, or hold together” (e-Sword 12.1). The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges elaborates on this word: “I.e., literally, stand together, hold together. The Latin-English ‘consist‘ (Latin versions, constant) exactly renders the Greek. ‘He is the principle of cohesion in the Universe. He impresses upon creation that unity and solidarity which makes it a cosmos instead of a chaos’ (Lightfoot)” (Ibid.). If the Creator were not alive, our universe would come apart. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible explains this phrase in detail: “They not only subsist in their beings, but consist in their order and dependences. He not only created them all at first, but it is by the word of his power that they are still upheld, Hebrews 1:3. The whole creation is kept together by the power of the Son of God, and made to consist in its proper frame. It is preserved from disbanding and running into confusion” (Ibid.). Christ is not only the Creator but the Conserver as well. Robertson’s Word Pictures adds, “Christ is the controlling and unifying force in nature. The Gnostic philosophy that matter is evil and was created by a remote aeon is thus swept away. The Son of God’s love is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe which is not evil” (Ibid.).

Colossians 1:16 concludes by stressing that Christ created all things for Himself! The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary edited by Joseph S. Exell states, “The most elaborate and majestic machinery of the universe and the most highly gifted intelligence alike exist only to serve the ultimate purpose of creation’s Lord. All created things gather their significance, dignity, and glory by their connection with Him…It is a narrow philosophy that teaches that all things were made for man. The grand end of all our endeavours should ever be the glory of Christ” (e-Sword 12.1). This refers to the grand scheme known as the salvation plan of God. The universe is here for a reason. All of us are potentially part of this redemption venture. Christ intends to add to the Famly of God and restore His Creation. Already, Christ has given us derivative and limited creative powers that depend on His sustaining the universe. We have a choice whether to enter His eternal program or to oppose it as did Satan and the wicked angels. Christ intends to share eternity with those He has redeemed. Prepare yourself for a future of expanding creativity!


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Wisdom as a Tree of Life

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min.

Did you know that biblical wisdom is connected to the tree of life?

No doubt, all of us are familiar with the tree of life offered to our original parents in the the Book of Genesis. Did you realize that the Bible refers to the tree of life after Genesis? References to it appear in Proverbs and Revelation. However, those in Proverbs take on a slightly different concept than its appearance in Genesis. This Digging Deeper will explore one verse in Proverbs to broaden our understanding on this well-known phrase.

In Proverbs 3, God inspires a section dealing with the blessing offered to those who find wisdom. Here is the beginning verse of this section: Proverbs 3:13 KJV: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” Our focus verse describes wisdom: Proverbs 3:18 KJV “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” Let’s explore what is the connection between the original tree of life and wisdom in this passage.

There are six different Hebrew words translated “wisdom” in the Book of Proverbs. The Hebrew word for wisdom in Proverbs 3:13 is chokmah, which occurs 141 times in the Hebrew Bible and almost always is translated “wisdom.” Stephen D. Renn’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words provides a definition: “Wisdom refers to knowledge coupled with an inner quality that embodies a heart and life in conformity with the purposes and character of God” (Hendrickson Publishers, 2006, p. 1050). Expanding this further, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon reports that, in this context, it refers to ethical and religious wisdom and that “…its fundamental principle is to fear God Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 15:33; Job 28:18” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature by McClintock and Strong further notes that it “…in a general sense, is a comprehensive knowledge of things in their proper nature and relations, together with the power of combining them in the most useful manner. Among the Hebrews, the term ‘wisdom’ comprehended a wide circle of virtues and mental endowments (Exodus 28:3; 31:6; 1 Kings 3:28; 4:29-34), and its precise import in the Scriptures can only be ascertained by a close attention to the context.” (e-Sword 12.1). One of the keys to effective Bible study is understanding the context in which a particular verse stands.

Wisdom is Solomon’s main theme in the Book of Proverbs and he returns to it often. The Expositor’s Bible, edited by W. Robertson Nicholl, in its annotation on Proverbs 3:13 explains its connection to submission to God: “Now, the supreme bliss of the heavenly wisdom is that it leads us into this detailed obedience to the law which is our life; it sets us under the immediate and unbroken control of God” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). Notice that this source upholds God’s law! Obedience to God’s law (torah) is what makes our lives meaningful and purposeful because they will be directed according to God’s will. This reference work then relates wisdom to Proverbs 3:7 KJV: “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” The fear of God is reverential awe and worship; it should even invoke terror if we disobey Him (2 Corinthians 5:11). Notice Galatians 6:7 KJV:  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” 

Now we need to connect wisdom with the tree of life in Proverbs 3:18. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible comments on the tree of life: “This and the other references in Proverbs (11:30; 13:12; 15:4) are the only allusions in any book of the Old Testament, after Genesis, to the ‘tree’ itself, or to its spiritual significance” (e-Sword 12.1). However, the Book of Revelation returns to the image of the tree of life, connecting it more to its significance in Genesis. Barnes continues, “Wisdom is the ‘tree of life,’ giving a true immortality. The symbol entered largely into the religious imagery of Assyria, Egypt, and Persia. Philo, going a step further, found in the two trees the ideal representatives of speculative knowledge and moral wisdom; and the same image subserves a higher purpose in the promises and the visions of Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2.” (Ibid.).

The College Press Bible Study Textbook Series provides us a modern comparison for the phrase “tree of life”: “Like ‘Fountain of Youth’ in our language, so ‘Tree of Life’ in Bible days stood for something very desirable” (e-Sword 12.1). People have sought the proverbial fountain of youth for generations. The NET Bible explains the use of tree of life in Proverbs 3:18: “The metaphor compares wisdom to the symbol of vitality and fullness of life” (e-Sword 12.1). Living full lives resulting in energized vitality flow from biblical wisdom. Joseph S. Exell informs us in The Pulpit Commentary that “This expression obviously refers to ‘the tree of life’ (etshakayyim), which was placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, and conferred immortality on those who ate of its fruit. (Genesis 2:9; 3:22) So Wisdom becomes equally life giving to those who lay hold on her, who taste of her fruit. She communicates life in its manifold fulness and richness…to those who seize her firmly”  (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). Wisdom becomes a “tree of life” to us when we heed it, which results in happiness, prosperity, and godliness. Exell continues, “The Authorized Version [KJV] aptly renders the original. The necessity for ‘retaining’ as well as ‘laying hold’ of Wisdom is pointed out. The verb (tamak) is ‘to hold fast something taken.’ Such will be blessed who hold Wisdom tenaciously and perseveringly” (Ibid.). 

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary adds another vital detail: “‘Lay hold’ (machaziquim) – literally, lay hold with a tenacious grasp, not to be severed from her: from a Hebrew root ‘strong.’ Compare Proverbs 11:30; 13:12; 15:4, for similar references to ‘the tree of life.’ Wisdom brings life to her possessors, as the tree of life in Paradise would have done to our first parents, but that they forfeited it (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24)” (e-Sword 12.1). Imagine how different life would be in our world if our original parents had obeyed God in that original test. The College Press Bible Study Textbook Series continues this admonition: “Our verse points out the importance both of laying hold upon (obtaining) wisdom and then of retaining it. Unfortunately, many never obtain it, and sadly some who have had it have not retained it later. So, we should work to possess it, and we should be careful not to let it get away from us” (Ibid.).

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible connects biblical wisdom to true religion: “The blessings which wisdom – true religion – gives to men, preserve them in life, comfort them through life, cause them to triumph in death, and ensure them a glorious immortality” (e-Sword 12.1). Isn’t this what all of us want? God has not hidden this truth from us. The Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, Vol 3 takes us back to the beginning: “Because our first parents rejected wisdom as a guide and followed Satan, none of us has been privileged to taste of the tree of life. Divine wisdom will lead us into a way of life that will have much the same result. It will give us a fuller and longer life in this world, and gain for us access to the tree of life itself in the world to come (Revelation 22:14).” (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1976, p. 957). However, there are necessary steps along the way: repentance and faith. Exell’s The Pulpit Commentary in its comment on Proverbs 3:18 adds this connection of the tree of life to the tree on which Jesus died to provide our atonement, redemption, and salvation (1 Peter 2:24) : “Old ecclesiastical writers saw in the expression a reference to Christ’s redeeming work. ‘The tree of life is the cross of Christ…’ (quoted by Delitzsch)” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). Only through Christ, who is our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30) shall we finally have access to the ultimate “tree of life” (Revelation 2:7). 


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: The Secret of God

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min

Did you know that Job, an ancient Old Testament character, believed he had lost the “secret of God” during his prolonged trial?

The Book of Job, perhaps the oldest book of our Old Testament, narrates his story. It introduces him as a righteous and devout man enjoying God’s blessing of prosperity and happiness upon his family. However, within a short time his possessions, children, health, and the respect from his wife and closest friends are taken from him. This story is certainly one of the saddest and most tragic accounts of a man who lost it all – except his life. He lamented his past prosperous life but one of the many things he longed to see restored most was “the secret of God.” To what did he refer?

Our home base verse for this study is Job 29:4 KJV “As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle [dwelling]…” The secret of God was one of several things Job lamented in his parable (Job 29:1) that he had lost and longed to have restored. He could not understand why a just and loving God would deprive him of the very blessings that signaled he was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). This mysterious book is part of a set of Old Testament books called “wisdom literature” that ask difficult and complex questions of life. This book has elicited much discussion and printed commentary trying to understand the purpose of Job’s suffering. Nonetheless, this book is still a favorite in “The Bible as Literature” university classes for its exploration of human suffering.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible explains the special privilege of experiencing the secret of God: “The secret of the Lord is said to be with those that fear him, for he shows them that in his covenant which others see not”, Psa 25:14. God communicates his favor and grace to his people, and receives the return of their devotion in a way secret to the world (e-Sword 12.1). The phrase “the secret of God” appears in only two verses in the Book of Job, using the same Hebrew words for “secret” and “God.” These two verses are Job15:8 and Job29:4. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines the word for “secret” (sod) as “familiar converse with God, intimacy” and the word for “God”, which is eloah, is defined as “God” or “a false god” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). Our focus for this Digging Deeper column will be on the word sod for “secret.”  

Job believed he had lost the intimate fellowship with the God that he had served faithfully for so long. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible describes the secret of God as a time when “…God conversed freely with him, as one bosom-friend with another. He knew God’s mind, and was not in the dark about it, as, of late, he had been” (e-Sword 12.1). Job thought he had a close association with the Almighty but now could not understand why He seemed to have abandoned him (Job 29:5). That special relationship had changed and Job did not know why.

In the Ancient Near East, councils of men as the leaders of communities would meet together to discuss important local issues. The Hebrew word sod has this fascinating background to Job’s thought. The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary offers this note for Job 15:8: “The Hebrew means properly the cushions on which a divan [committee] of councilors in the East usually sit. God’s servants are admitted to God’s secrets (Psa 25:14; Gen 18:17; Joh 15:15)” (e-Sword 12.1). Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible explains that the Hebrew word for “secret” can be either the cushions on which they sit or the council members (Ibid.). Job lamented that the secret of God was no longer upon his dwelling – that he was no longer in intimate association with his God who shared private conversations with those on His council. Job once knew God’s thinking due to this special relationship. At that time he was part of God’s inner circle, but no longer. Now amid his terrible suffering, Job could not understand God’s permitting it. He thought he did not deserve it. The good news about Job is that it appears that by the end of the story the secret of God has again come upon his dwelling.

Cross-references elucidate an application for the secret of God on how we may enjoy this special relationship.  Psa 25:14 KJV declares “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.” The word for secret is the same Hebrew word used in Job 29:4 referring to a divan or circle of friends deliberating together confidentially. Once again, this depicts the closeness, intimacy of friendship, and fellowship between God and His faithful people. God does not share His secrets with everyone but only with those who fear Him and keep His covenant. This body of chosen people is God’s special assembly: His nation anciently and today His church. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible comments on this verse: “Those that receive the truth in the love of it, and experience the power of it, best understand the mystery of it. They know the meaning of his providence, and what God is doing with them, better than others… They know by experience the blessings of the covenant and the pleasure of that fellowship which gracious souls have with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. This honour have all his saints” (e-Sword 12.1). 

A similar statement comes from Pro 3:32 KJV: “For the froward [perverse, self-willed] is abomination to the LORD : but his secret is with the righteous.” An Old Testament patriarch with whom God had such a close relationship was Abraham: Gen18:17-19 KJV  “And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;  (18)  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  (19)  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” God shared His secret with Abraham concerning His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was not only a friend of God but also a prophet of God (Gen 20:7). Notice what God says in Amos 3:7 KJV: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” God shares secret counsel with those who have entered His special covenant and are His faithful servants.

This same idea is expressed by Jesus to His followers in our New Testament: Joh 15:15 KJV “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” What an honor it is to be called Jesus’ friends! Christians are the people with whom He shares His deepest thoughts and promises. He does not do so with everyone but only those with whom He is in covenant. Paul reflects on this special relationship in Col 3:3 KJV: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” As a result, Paul tells us to set our affection on things which are above (Col 3:1-2). If we do, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col 3:4). Eternally, we shall cherish the secret of God.


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.