Archive | August 2014

Prokaryotes

Today it is widely known that one of the smallest and most abundant living organisms on earth go by the name, “prokaryotes.” These microorganisms have been the center of much scientific investigation. The more biologists understand these creatures, the more they grow in fascination of them and the things they can do to help us advance in medicine, technology, and further scientific investigation.

Prokaryotes are normally unicellular organisms and are well known in how they differ from eukaryotes. However, here you will not learn about the differences between eukaryotes and prokaryotes, but about the importance prokaryotes have in biology and for future human development and understanding.

Prokaryotes are the oldest, most abundant, and most adaptive organisms on earth. They can handle extreme conditions, such as lethal radiation and metal-dissolving acidity.  A handful of soil could contain more prokaryotes than the total number of human beings that have ever lived. Yes, they are astonishing. These tiny little organisms come in a variation of shapes like spherical (cocci or coccus), rod-shaped (bacillus or bacilli), and spiral-shaped. In order to better study these creatures, the prokaryotic domain has been divided into two well differentiated ones, bacteria and archaea.

Archaea are considered to be the oldest living things on earth that adapted to the planet’s early and “extreme” conditions. For that reason archaea are also referred to as extremophiles. Because they have been found in the most impossible places to sustain life on earth, some research has taken scientists to hypothesize in the fact that these organisms might also be found in other planets. If this is correct, then micro-extraterrestrial life might pretty well exist in other planets. Archaea also consume 300 billion kilograms of methane per year, reducing the greenhouse effect! To add to your knowledge, know that archaea have structures similar to those of bacteria and contain a DNA structure that also resembles the one of eukaryotes.

Bacteria are more abundant than archaea. Even though much popular belief toward bacteria is that they are harmful, much of bacteria are beneficial to the environment and ultimately to human beings. To fight and destroy harmful bacteria, we have developed drugs denominated, “antibiotics”. Bacteria have a cell wall that is made out of a substance called peptidoglycan. What some antibiotics basically do is destroy the peptidoglycan to penetrate the microbe and eliminate it. We are told that humans have no peptidoglycan, and this is why antibiotics supposedly have little to no effect in us.

There are bacteria that contain a thick layer of peptidoglycan within them and others that have a thin layer “sandwiched” between two plasma membranes. Bacteria with a thick layer of peptidoglycan are called, Gram Positive Bacteria, and those that have a thin layer are known as Gram Negative Bacteria. How do we know which are positive or negative?  Through a process known as Gram staining. Here people in a laboratory use a substance to analyze the cell wall of the bacteria. If the bacteria turn violet, it is positive. If the bacteria turn pink, it is negative.  Gram- negative bacteria tend to be harmful.

We know that about 50% of prokaryotes are capable of taxis or movement towards and away from stimulus using a complex structure called a flagellum. The flagellum is made of 42 different proteins and looks like a tale that can function like a propeller and in many other ways to move the prokaryotes around. The velocity of a prokaryote can exceed 50 times its body length per second, this is equivalent to a human running as fast as 190 miles per hour.

Now let’s deepen our understanding; the word prokaryote literally means “before a nucleus”. Therefore, the question arises of “where or how do they contain their DNA?” Well, the answer is that prokaryotic DNA is in a ring-shaped chromosome that is supercoiled together by specialized proteins inside the cell (this is not applicable to the Archean domain).

For a longtime, the manner in which prokaryotes reproduce was fairly unknown. However, it has currently been understood that prokaryotes reproduce through a process similar to that one of mitosis known as “Binary Fission”. In this process, prokaryotes can reproduce very rapidly and double their population size in an hour. This rapid reproduction enables frequent genetic mutations within the cells, creating diversity in their genes or DNA. Their genetic diversity can be maintained by the transformation, transduction, and conjugation of genes.

In transformation the cells pick up or “download” genetic material from the environment, ultimately altering their own DNA. Different from transformation, is transduction, where special viruses called “phages” insert genetic material in prokaryotes. These survive the “invasion”, assimilate the new genes and change their original structures. Finally, in conjugation, two bacteria “conjugate” or join together to transfer genes from one to the other. This process is also known as “horizontal gene transfer”.

Certain types of prokaryotes provide ecosystems and eukaryotic cells with usable nitrogen. These prokaryotes are like the ones of cyanobacteria and methanogens. They carry out nitrogen fixation and convert atmospheric N2 (nitrogen) into ammonia (NH3). Cyanobacteria only need light, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and some other minerals to survive in a variety of habitats. Cyanobacteria are perhaps the most successful microorganisms on earth.

Some prokaryotic cells live in colonies or filaments. In colonies, prokaryotes cooperate with each other, divide labor and share resources between them to satisfy each other’s needs. Then, these colonies might form biofilms, which are micro structures of cells that stick together on living or nonliving surfaces.

Finally, prokaryotes are extremely important for the ecology within our planet, business, and even for the correct functioning of our bodies. Prokaryotes are decomposers and unlock many valuable nutrients in the tissues of dead organisms to make them for other species to consume them. One of these nutrients is nitrogen, which is unlocked through the process of nitrogen fixation that some prokaryotes undergo.

There are about 150 sorts of bacteria living on our skin. You can find about 10 million of them in every square centimeter of our dermis (skin), but don’t worry, they usually don’t harm us. However, that is not all, but nearly 1,000 beneficial species of bacteria live in our intestines. One of the most studied ones is Escherichia Coli. Bacteria living in our intestines help us in our digestion, like in the processing of proteins and carbohydrates to produce vitamins that enable us to be healthy. Some intestinal bacteria emit signals to human intestine cells, inducing the production of blood vessels, useful proteins, and etcetera. Research has also suggested that having an abundance of bacteria with us improves our emotional well-being. Yes, we are never lonely.

Technology, has found the hand of prokaryotes as well. Yogurt and cheese, for example, need prokaryotes for their making. Gene cloning, transgenic crops, the synthesis of PHA for biodegradable plastics, the decomposing in sewages, the breaking down of petroleum and other pollutants, the precipitation of uranium out of groundwater, the production of certain vitamins and drugs, the synthesis of ethanol and fuel, and many more, are some of the examples of the benefits that tiny microorganisms, as prokaryotes, can do for humanity and planet earth. As scientific research advances, biologists grow in greater awe of them.

 

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Informative: Ancient Greece and Pre-Socratic Philosophers

What are some of the contributions that Ancient Greece and Pre-Socratic philosophers provided for the development of Western Civilization?

Well, Pre-Socratic Philosophers imparted many of the fundamentals for the questions and answers that are spoken of in the science, politics, arts, sports, and studies of the present. Things like meteorology, the seeking of rational or natural processes, mathematics, ethics, morality, music, and etcetera are all based in the thoughts of many Pre-Socratic philosophers. However, it is not very much about the answers they provided or the questions they made, but about the nature inside their questions and answers. These men and perhaps women, were more interested in knowing what and how things became, rather than understanding who did them and why they occurred. This nature took them to go beyond mere sense experience to be capable of comprehending what is fundamental.

For example, the Milesians, also known as Ionians were interested in knowing the original substance of all things. And a man named, Thales of Miletus (c. 624-546 BC) said that water is the cause of all things and earth is a discuss floating above water. Therefore, earthquakes are caused by the movement of waves. Maybe the answer and even the question sound dumb, but the fact that he is looking for logical explanations is significant for Western Civilization. These people consulted the gods after they had no more rational interpretations. The Ionians also helped lay the foundations for meteorology. It is also said that Thales of Miletus predicted an eclipse in 585 BC. His prediction was used to persuade the Medes and Lydians to agree in peace.

There were many Pre-Socratic philosophers and all exposed different ideas, some of them are still thought by lots of people today, whether consciously or unconsciously. These philosophers formed part of classical Greece and helped shape the society’s system and functioning. It might pretty well be that you had never thought about it, but ancient Greece has influenced our civilization in practically every area you can think of, just as the philosophers did.

Something well-known that we acquired from the Ancient Greeks are the Olympic Games. The Olympics if those times, though, were more than just a mere game. Religious aspects had a great impact in them. There were no teams; you played for your own glory to become a hero according to the Greek ideal. The athletes might have been considered as close to the gods and been able to achieve divine status through victories. One of the best relevancies we have of the games’ concepts today is found in the 23rd book of the Iliad. Here Achilles holds the games in honor of the fallen Patroclus. The athletes needed to honor the fallen with their great exertions and attributes.

In the Odyssey of Homer, Odysseus is invited to participate in the athletic contest and is told that “there is no greater glory for man as long as he lives than that which he wins with his own hands and his feet.” The events of the Olympics were running races, chariot races, boxing, and the pentathlon, which included wrestling, javelin, discus, sprint, and long jump.

However, besides the Olympic institution, today’s civilization has also widely adopted the idea that man differs from other creatures because of reason and his desire of knowledge. Ancient Greeks had confidence in man that he could master the physical world with his own ability and with this he would be able to progress in knowledge. It is too from ancient Greece that we acquired the concept of city-states in the West, as well as literary inheritance.

In conclusion, practically every area that conforms the West of today, finds its basis on the philosophers of classical Greece and the culture this civilization developed. To understand in a deeper manner the way our society thinks and functions, it is imperative that we comprehend the components of ancient Greek civilization.

Ethics and Sanctions in the Proverbs

King Solomon of Israel was the son of King David. When he became king, God told him that whatever he asked for, God would give it to him. Instead of asking for power, riches, fame, or whatever, Solomon asked God for wisdom. This pleased God and He granted Solomon’s petition and also gave him power, riches, fame, etc.

Solomon was sufficiently meek and humble to realize that he did not know anything and needed wisdom. Now, something extremely important to note is that Solomon understood that only God could give him wisdom, not books, education, human beings, etc. Therefore, Solomon sought wisdom in God. This is why Solomon is considered to be the wisest or one of the wisest men that has ever existed, because he had the wisdom of God. Through this wisdom, which does not rely on reason (See Ancient Greece’s Contribution), Solomon understood many great mysteries of God.

First, he probably understood that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. As he says in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Solomon comprehended the fear of the Lord and he perhaps knew that this fear would take him to greater holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1). Hence, in order to understand more profoundly what the fear of God is, we must too understand holiness.

Holiness is the unity of our spirit with the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 6:17). As Jesus prayed for those who believed in Him in John 17, “That they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me.” (See also 1 Corinthians 6:19) So if the Holy Spirit is in us and we are in him and this is holiness, then the fear of the Lord comes when we do not want the Holy Spirit to leave us because of unrighteousness (iniquity and sin). As David writes in Psalm 51:11 after committing adultery, a theme we find in the proverbs quite often, “Don’t throw me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.”

The Holy Spirit in us delivers us from death and gives us life, spiritual life. It is the Holy Spirit of God, or Ruach of God that gave Adam life and made him to God’s image (Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:16). Adam lost the Ruach of God the moment he ate from the knowledge of good and evil and allowed death to enter him. (See The Light, The Life, and Eternity) Solomon knew this and that is why I believe that when Solomon speaks of acquiring knowledge, he speaks of acquiring the knowledge of the Life or of the Light, who is God. Salomon understood that wisdom came through the fear of the Lord and the fear of the Lord took you to holiness, thus it is the Holy Spirit of God in the first place that provides true wisdom.

Solomon loved wisdom, he did not want to lose it, he did not want to be a fool, he did not want to be like evil doers, and he knew that if he lost fear in the Lord, he would lose the Holy Spirit, and end up losing wisdom. What I say here is a bit strong, but I believe that the ethics Solomon speaks of are the ones of the holiness of the Spirit of God and those who do not have the Spirit of God are evil doers, because they live by the knowledge of good and evil.

The greatest negative sanction for Salomon involves losing wisdom, the Holy Spirit, and the fear of God. He comprehended that a life with the fear of God took you to live an ethically correct or righteous life, primarily before God and then, before men. Solomon was a king and understood government, God’s way of government.

Important Note: The things here written do not necessarily refelct the opinions, teachings, philosophies, and/ or views of the Ron Paul Curriculum and its faculty.

Ancient Greece’s Contribution

Important Note: The things here written do not necessarily reflect the opinions, teachings, philosophies, and/ or views of the Ron Paul Curriculum and its faculty.

Today’s Western Civilization is greatly founded upon ancient Greece’s way of thought. The education, science, government, arts, etc. of the present, contain their mayor influence in the ancient Greek philosophy and culture. The problem is, though, that we have become so accustomed to living in this manner that we have never stopped to analyze the yielded result in today’s society of syncretizing a Christian philosophy with a Greek philosophy (which revolves around reason) to create the foundations for our Western Civilization.

While some of each’s arguments might be of mutual support, there comes a point in which they contradict. Ultimately, this creates an unstable foundation which can be easily destroyed along with all it sustains. Therefore, because they can enter in conflict, either we are for the one or the other. Here is why.

Christianity says that God existed before anything else and He created all things. This means that God created reason, God is above reason, and created all things with much more than reason. Even so, Greek philosophy says that you can come to comprehend this world fully through reason. But if God created everything with something much more than reason, this signifies that you need that “something”, besides reason, to completely understand this world and all created things. Human reason is limited and bounded to the structures, preconceived ideas, and acquired knowledge of man, thus it can never understand the unreasonable, unlimited, eternal, or invisible. For that matter, reason is also subjective not objective.

Greeks basically concluded that reason is the only thing that differentiates human beings from animals. On the other hand, Christianity says that the essential thing that separates man from animals is the reality of having been created at the image and likeness of their Creator. (See essay on The Light, the Life and Eternity). If these two conclusions were to be mixed, it would end up meaning that the essential characteristic of God that makes him God is reason. And that doesn’t sound quite right.

Human beings have an imagination, something animals do not have. With this imagination we can think of irrational things. For example, I can imagine myself as obtaining eagle’s wings and flying up into the heavens. Reason would tell me that this is impossible, crazy, or just plain stupid. Nevertheless, the invisible, eternal, boundless, and spiritual realm of God tells me that this is possible. For example, Jesus said something in John 3:12-14 that may sound very unreasonable to the human way of thought, “If I told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.” As a matter of fact, Jesus’s whole chat with Nicodemus (found in the beginnings of John 3) demonstrates perfectly the rivalry between the spiritual ways of thought of God against the rational ways of thought of man.

Reason has taken humanity to seek natural, rational, and visible explanations for every single thing that exists and takes place. As some Pre-Socratic philosophers would also seek reasonable explanations for everything, before attributing them to the gods. What has this committed? Well, we have a society that has little by little been separating God from humanity to the point in which reasonable explanations have intended to wipe out His existence.

Why? The answer is because the spiritual realm of God is many times incomprehensible, along with the things He does. Reason has made us numb to the fact that God’s and the devil’s reality (spiritual realm) is constantly active among the natural one. As I exposed it in The Light, The Life, and Eternity, it is the spiritual realm that determines everything in the natural one. Therefore, to understand natural things, we must first understand spiritual ones and I am not talking about religion. That is why I like what Greek philosopher Socrates said; that the more he knew about things, he realized the nothing he knew. Admitting we know nothing requires great meekness and humbleness, but reason increments the pride mankind has in their own knowledge. This pride blinds us and hinders us to not understand we know nothing. That is why every time there is a scientific “discovery” the only thing we uncover is more questions.

That is why people today do not understand the bible either, because they use reason to understand a spiritual book. God is spirit (John 4: 24). His Spirit, upon men and women, wrote the bible. He spoke of spiritual and invisible things that cannot be comprehended with human reasoning, but with the mind of the Spirit. Remember, the spiritual realm is many times irrational. Reason only departs God from humanity little by little, until it finally “eliminates” His existence. If we knew God, we would know that it is He who grants us our freedom or liberty in every single area of society, not the vain reasoning and efforts of man.

If we knew the spiritual realm, we would know that ancient Greece’s foundations for our society are spiritual and not intellectual, thus they affect us greater than we have ever come to understand. Hence, it is important we understand in what way they have influenced our civilization and be capable to detect those things in which we have been erroneous to adopt and eliminate them, first spiritually, second intellectually, and finally naturally.

Important Note: The things here written do not necessarily reflect the opinions, teachings, philosophies, and/ or views of the Ron Paul Curriculum and its faculty.

Before Ancient Greece

Hector on the Iliad

The manner in which Homer writes about Hector on the Iliad makes it clear and without a doubt that Hector is a man of war. His city, Troy, is extremely important to him as they all view him as their only protector. It seems that all of Troy’s soldiers receive hope and perhaps fight with greater determination when he is there to battle along with them. No one, not even his wife or son can convince him of rejecting war. Hector fights for his glory, the one of his father, the one of his son, and for the salvation of Troy’s people. However, his “warlike spirit” leads him to his death at the hands of Achilles, whom dishonors Hector’s body by dragging it around the city.

Minoan Crete

Minoan Crete is one of the recent rediscoveries of mankind. It was excavated during the first years of the 20th Century by a British archeologist named Arthur Evans. It is named after an ancient Greek legend that talks about a King named Minos who kept a Minotaur trapped in a maze of the island of Crete and sacrificed children to feed it.

Reality is, though, that we have very little information about the Minoan civilization. We had to invent for them a name, because we have no idea what they called themselves. There are many reasons for our lack of knowledge, but one of the main ones is because scholars have not yet deciphered their writing denominated Linear A. Some of ancient Greece’s writings (linear B language) have Minoan characteristics, thus we know the sounds of the linear A, but do not understand the language of Minoan civilization.

The most we have to comprehend this civilization’s culture are archeological findings. However, these discoveries do not complete the sufficient detailed information we require to sustain well founded facts about Minoan Crete’s functioning.

Based on the archeological evidence, an outline has been developed dividing Minoan Crete’s history into four major periods: Prepalatial (from 3000–1900 BC), Protopalatial (1900–1700 BC), Neopalatial (1700–1400 BC), and Postpalatial (1400–1150 BC).

In the Prepalatial (3000-1900 BC) period of Crete we find the first towns along with the beginnings of its trade and production. Craftsman worked in gold, silver, and bronze. Evidence also suggests that sea trade was already taking place. The Minoans traded metals with Egypt, Anatolia, and the Levant. No palaces existed in this era of Minoan Crete and the towns seemed to lack a central authority. We really just do not know how the people were governed during this time.

Archeological findings however, have taken us to notice that the first palaces began to appear in Crete during the Protopalatial (1900–1700 BC) period of its existence. The palaces were built near the sea and had paved roads that communicated them with the settlements outside their territory. If you see palaces, logic tells you that kings or some sort of authority inhabited them. Hence, this probably was the period where a central authority began to take over the governing of Crete. Perhaps there was also a hierarchical society consisting of royalty, nobles, peasants, and slaves.

It was during this time that the Minoans expanded their trade networks. The Minoan type of written language (Linear A) also begins to appear in this period. We think that this language evolved from hieroglyphic writing. The writings we have found of Linear A seem to be a record of trade, we do not know if any Minoan literature exists or survives.

Approximately, in the year of 1700 BC something destroyed Crete and its palaces, maybe an earthquake or invasion from Anatolia. We cannot know with certainty what caused this destruction, but we do know that the Minoans devoted themselves to rebuilding Crete after the catastrophe.

The rebuilding of Minoan Crete gave birth to the Neopalatial (1700–1400 BC) period. Here the Minoans built taller, stronger and mazelike palaces with elaborate paintings on them. Murals on the walls show some characteristics of Crete’s culture, like bull leaping. The largest palace of this type is found at the city of Knossos. This has taken some people to conclude that Knossos might have functioned as a capital of the island, or maybe just had the dominant kingdom of all cities in the island. Nevertheless, we do not know if the Minoans were warlike. The reasons are because their palaces appear to have little to no protection at all and their influence seems to be more of merchant characteristics than military.

The Minoans did have, though, a large fleet of ships, complex plumbing, paved roads, richness in trade goods, and well planned towns. But there came a time in their history where their civilization declined and fell to disappear permanently. No one truly agrees on which might have been the causes of their disappearance.

In conclusion, very little is known about Minoan Crete, but we can assure that they established well relationships of commerce all along the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea. Their influence in trade spread all the way to Egypt and modern day Israel, thus they are an important civilization to consider in the development of our Western Civilization. 

Mycenaean Greece

Mycenaean Greece emerged around 1600 BC. It obtains its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in Argolis, Peloponnese of southern Greece found by Heinrich Schliemann. When there is reference to Mycenaean Greece, we normally are talking about the Bronze Age of ancient Greece (1600-1100 BC); a time where much of the ancient Greek literature, myth, and the epics of Homer originated from.

Mycenaean civilization developed from the society and culture of the Early and Middle Helladic periods in mainland Greece. In the time of its appearance, the Helladic culture in mainland Greece had been transformed by the influence of Minoan Crete.

Mycenaean civilization benefitted from conquest and not of trade, as Minoans did. About the year of 1400 BC, Mycenae conquered Crete and the Minoan civilization. Through this conquering, Mycenae adopted the Linear A form of writing of the Minoans to form their own Greek writing called Linear B.

According to the Hellenic legend, the Mycenaeans defeated the Trojans who were their major rivals in power. However, the historical authenticity of the Trojan War is uncertain, because the only accounts of it exist in Homer’s Iliad and texts that involve Greek mythology. Therefore, we do not know with precision if the war is just a mere invention. Nevertheless, the German archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, said to have found the ruins of Troy in Hissarlik at western Asia Minor, in modern-day Turkey. Some sources have opposed to the idea of these being Troy’s ruins, due to their inaccuracy in matching Homer’s writings of Troy, but many others have disagreed.   

Mycenae had independent cities, each was probably ruled by a King, whom was perhaps venerated or worshiped by the people. Their influence seems to be found all the way through the Aegean Sea and as far away as Italy and Egypt. Much Greek religion has its origin in Mycenaean times.

Mycenae was an important civilization that developed with greater strength the foundations for the ancient Greek civilization. It is undoubtedly an important society to consider in the study of our Western Civilization.

The Psalms, Time, and Righteousness

Most literature contains these five key elements: sovereignty, hierarchy, law, sanctions, and time. The Psalms speak of God as sovereign, of man as under God’s sovereignty, of God’s righteousness, of God’s judgment, and of the future happenings to those who obey or disobey God’s law and of the things that were to come when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth. In the previous essay on the Psalms, I spoke about the first four elements, but did not mention much about time.

David seems to write the Psalms with an enduring optimism about the things to come. Of course, the question of “why” arises about this sort of behavior in David’s writing. As I explained before, David had a profound revelation of God’s throne, which is founded upon righteousness and judgment. Therefore, David understood how God’s government and judicial or ethical system functioned.

It was through his faith in God, that David knew the things that would take place when he obeyed, disobeyed, or repented (changed his way of thought or belief). David also saw, through the Spirit of God, the day of the Lord and believed (Psalm 110:1 and Mathew 22:44). David knew that faith in God, not just knowing that He is real and is somewhere in the universe, but faith by the works of faith took anyone to be righteous before God. (Romans 1:17, Romans 3:28, Romans 4:1-8, Galatians 3:11, and James 2:17)

When someone is righteous before God, God will judge in favor of them and destroy their enemies. These enemies are not necessarily of flesh and bone, but spiritual (Ephesians 6:12). God’s righteousness and judgment are released in the invisible spiritual realm and manifest something on the physical one. David understood that faith catapults you to see, hear, feel, and manifest the spiritual realm and the reality of God on earth (Hebrews 11:1-3 and 32-34).

Therefore, David knew that if he maintained himself in the faith and obeyed God’s righteousness, he would be delivered and receive the blessings of Yahweh (God). And if he sinned, he knew that a repented, broken, and contrite heart God would not despise. David rejoiced in the salvation of Israel that would come through the Messiah. This is why David maintained an attitude of optimism toward the future, because we all are judged by God and the His throne always prevails.

From Abraham to Moses

Our mind is filled with preconceived ideas and a rooted culture that gives birth to a way of thought that does not allow us to comprehend the ways of God. Today’s Western Civilization is partly founded upon the preconceived ideas that men and women centuries ago had about the stories in the bible. When people read those stories in the present, they read them with the same doctrines. We must stop doing this. If our civilization truly believes in God; that He is real and He exists, then we need to begin to reform to the culture He wants us to have; the culture of His heavenly kingdom. Faith has everything to do with righteousness, not the one of men, but the one of God.

As apostle James says in one of his letters, “Faith without deeds is dead in itself.” We can say we believe in God, but if we do not do the deeds, actions and works of that faith, which are about God’s righteousness and God’s love, we truly do not have faith in God. The righteous live by faith and love God above all things and love their neighbors as themselves. Love is the fulfillment of the law. God is love.

You see, Jesus said “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Repent from its Greek and Hebrew etymology means to change the way we think. The way we think involves a belief, a culture and the actions we derive from it. Jesus was telling the Jews to change the way they thought. Something of the Jews’ belief and philosophy was hindering them from understanding the ways of God and His Kingdom’s culture.

The Jews, the masters of the Torah, the ones who gave foundation for today’s western civilization to be built, had a manner of thinking that did not please God. What makes us think we are different? As a matter of fact, when the Jews of the seed of Abraham told Jesus that their Father was Abraham and even God, Jesus answered them and told them that their father was actually the devil. Jesus said this because they did not do the works that Abraham had made, but they did the works of the devil, which were unbelief in Jesus, who is God.

When I read the stories from Abraham to Moses, I find the teachings of righteousness, faith, God’s faithfulness, and love. Abraham received a promise from God that he would be a father of multitudes through a son that God would give him. Abraham received that promise at an old age, without a son, and a sterile wife, Sarah. Abraham believed in God, but, by his wife’s advice, tried to give God a little hand and made the servant of Sarah bore a child, whom Abraham named Ishmael.

Ishmael, however, was not the son of the promise. God told Abraham that Sarah was going to be the one that would give birth to the child at her 90 years of age. What is impossible to man’s reason is not impossible for God, and Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

God then spoke to Abraham and told him to sacrifice the son of the promise. God did this to test Abraham’s faith, love, and righteousness. Therefore Abraham took Isaac to offer him to God. Isaac noticed that his father was not bringing along a lamb, so he asked his father where it was. Abraham answered Isaac that God would provide it. Abraham knew God’s promise according to Isaac and believed that God could raise his son from the dead. In the spirit, Abraham had already seen the day of the Lord Jesus and he knew that this was a foreshadowing of the things to come. Before stabbing his son, an angel stopped Abraham and God provided the lamb.

Isaac grew to be a wealthy man married to Rebekah. Rebekah gave Isaac boy twins, Jacob and Esau. When they came out of their mother’s womb, Jacob was holding on to the heel of Esau. Jacob grew up to be a quiet man that lived in tents and Esau grew up to be a skilled hunter and a man of the field. Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob.

One day Esau came home famished and Jacob was cooking. Esau asked his brother for food and Jacob told him that he would give him food only if Esau gave away his birthright of the firstborn. Esau agreed with Jacob, ate, got up and left. Esau sold his birthright through eating just as Adam and Eve sold the glory of Eden through eating.

Jacob married two women, Lea and Rachel. He had to work seven years to marry Lea and 14 years to marry Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Lea, but she was sterile. However, in the end, Rachel gives Jacob two sons, out of the twelve sons and one daughter he had. They were Joseph and Benjamin. Jacob loved Joseph very much and gave him special gifts. Joseph also had dreams from God, where he saw that his brothers bowed before him. These dreams and his father’s unique treatment with Joseph caused the brothers of Joseph to be envious of him.

The brothers’ envy took them to sell Joseph as a slave into Egypt. In Egypt Joseph became the right hand of the Pharaoh for his ability of dream interpreting. Nevertheless he did undergo a tough process of misunderstandings and imprisonment before entering a position of great authority. His high position in Egypt’s hierarchy caused his brothers to bow before him and saved them all from the scarcity that struck the land. Through Joseph, the people of Israel were given the land of Goshen in Egypt.

When Joseph and the Pharaoh that was friend to him died, the next governor of Egypt enslaved the people of Israel. This is when Moses was born. Moses came into existence at a time when Israel was being tremendously oppressed by the Egyptian government. All the boy children were being killed by the Egyptians. Even so, the bravery of Moses’ parents helped save his life and he was adopted by the daughter of the Pharaoh. 

When Moses grew up, he realized what the Egyptian government was doing to the Jews and he felt the calling inside of him to help them and deliver them. Moses tried to help them with his own strength and ability, but with this he only achieved to kill an Egyptian overseer that was whipping an Israelite. This incident spread amongst the Israelites and infused Moses with great fear of being killed or punished by the Pharaoh, thus he fled from Egypt and spent 40 years in the desert.

In the desert God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites. This time, the hand of God through Moses would deliver the Israelites, not Moses’s strength and ability. However, Moses did not want to go back to Egypt and did not believe that he could do what God was asking him to do. Notwithstanding, Moses was convinced by God that it would be Him with His power through Moses, not Moses himself who would face the Pharaoh. Ultimately Moses obeys and believes in God. Moses’ righteousness and faith cause God to do glorious things for the Israelites to deliver them from the bondage of Egypt and give to them the Promised Land.

All of these stories, which are extremely summarized here, have to be read with a different understanding, one that is spiritual and according to the Kingdom of Heaven for them to be fully understood by those who read them. They contain a profound revelation and in order to be received, we must change the way we believe and the way we think. We need to have a retrained mind by the Holy Spirit.

God’s Righteousness in the Psalms

When you build a house, the first thing you establish are the foundations. If the foundations do not exist, the construction will not be stable and be at risk of falling. Now, a throne is one of the maximum representations of an established kingdom, because it is the place where the king sits to reign. The foundations of the throne of God are righteousness and judgment (Psalms 89:14 and Psalms 97:2). In order for the Kingdom of Heaven to be established on earth and in our lives, the righteousness and the judgment of God have to be first manifested, or else it will not be stable.  

The righteousness and the judgment of God cannot be manifested or established without the Holy Spirit of God (John 16:8 and Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit of God is a prophetic spirit (Acts 2:17-18) and the prophetic is the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelations 19:10). Jesus Christ came to reveal the Father on earth, and the Holy Spirit reveals to us the Son (1 Corinthians 12:3 and 1 Peter 1:12).

According to God, righteousness is the faith in Him (Galatians 3:11 and Habakkuk 2:4). Before there was any law or covenant with Abraham, he believed in God. King David in the Psalms understands the righteousness of God that is according to faith. And that is why he writes in Psalm 51 “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Also, as it is written in Romans 1:17, that “in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed to us by faith and to faith.”

If you believe in Yahweh, you will walk righteously before him. Righteousness is not about following the law of men, but about believing in the Eternal One. If you have faith in God, then you will hear His voice and you will live by the things He speaks unto you through the Holy Spirit; through the prophetic. I say this in the love of God, David was not a poet; he was a king and a prophet. The things he played and prayed in the Psalms were not poetic, metaphorical, or rhetorical, they were spiritual and literal. Mountains do rejoice, trees do clap, and the earth does have life within it. It probably sounds crazy, but Prophet Isaiah said something that with our human reasoning can be interpreted as poetic, but through the Spirit of God, whom is the one speaking through Isaiah, you know that it is literal.

“So is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it will prosper in the thing I sent it to do. For you (the people of God) shall go out (from Babylon) with joy, and be led out with peace. The mountains and the hills will break out before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields will clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55:11-12

God is beyond our reason, He created reason. Yahweh made the earth, the heavens, and all that is within them. If we are to use our reason to understand what someone beyond reason made, we will never come to comprehend the things they created. The way we can only understand Yahweh is through the Spirit. As proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in Yahweh with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” And as Paul warns the Colossians “Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.”

This is the righteousness of God that David understood and that is why the Psalms are filled with profound revelation of whom God is, His righteousness, and how He sanctions.  God sanctions those who do not have faith in Him and those that depart from the faith. Historically speaking, the sanctions in the Psalms are important because they reveal to us the righteousness of God. In order to understand God’s Kingdom we must first understand His justice and judgment that can only be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God, whom David had.

“When he (the Holy Spirit) has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment; about sin, because they don’t believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won’t see me any more; about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged.” –John 16: 8-11

“We are His witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” –Acts 5:32

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. – 1 John 5:7

 

Noah and the Ark

The fall of Adam and Eve brought a root of evil that invaded their DNA. This root of evil was and is iniquity, the foundations of all unrighteousness, which is sin, and which is unbelief in what God speaks. Iniquity takes man to believe in the lies of the devil and not have faith in the Truth. Our belief in the devil is what gives substance to the kingdom of darkness to govern us and not walk in the righteousness of God (faith in Him). This iniquity is where all ego, pride, fear, and hatred originate from.

Iniquity is the substance of the kingdom of darkness that enables it to govern us. Iniquity goes against the Love. Love is the fulfillment of God’s law through faith. Humanity lost this righteousness of God the moment they ate from good and evil. Mankind preferred to be governed by unrighteousness than by the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, darkness covered the earth and iniquity began to multiply throughout the generations, after Adam and Eve.

It was the belief in the lies of the devil (darkness) that “killed” the life of God in man. God’s designs for the creation and for humanity were and are always of life. God establishes His designs on mankind and mankind establishes them on earth. However, there came a time when the darkness in mankind became so dense that it completely obstructed the manifestation of God’s life on earth.

The lack of conviction of sin in mankind was very outrageous, that God repented from having created man. Hence, He purposed himself to destroy the earth, along with humanity, and along with the contaminated creation. But before He did so, His Spirit saw a man that still contained a seed of righteousness in him. A man that still had faith in God and loved Elohim in such a way that he would do as God commanded even if it went against his desires, reasoning, and was absolutely crazy. This man was Noah. Noah was someone who continued to have a radiation of the Light and could be a door for God to manifest His life on earth.

God spoke and told Noah that He would make water fall from the sky to flood the earth and wipe out humanity from the face of the earth, thus Noah should build an ark for his family and God’s chosen animals to be saved. It is important to note that rain had not yet come into existence, but Noah believed God’s word and through his faith, Noah obeyed Elohim. Because Noah was righteous and had faith in God, he allowed his family and all the animals that entered the ark to LIVE.

In this story we can receive a revelation of great many things. First of all, that God is light and He doesn’t tolerate sin or darkness, but He is patient and merciful with humanity. He is always looking for those who will allow Him to bless the earth and give us His designs of Life. Nevertheless, in order for us to receive His designs of life we need to live in the righteousness of God through our faith in Him. God sits on His throne founded upon righteousness and judgment. God will punish evil or iniquity, but reward righteousness with life and shalom (peace).

Finally, Noah, his family, and the animals, were able to live because they built an ark. The ark is a symbol of the presence of God. Therefore, it was in the presence of God that allowed Noah to escape death and enter a new heaven and a new earth. If Noah had not believed in God, Elohim could not have manifested His power and accomplish His plan of reformation and restauration for the earth, humanity, and the creation. Death and evil would have been victorious.