Category Archives: History

When God’s Messiah Going to Come to Earth?

A gentleman was discussing my thoughts on taking Genesis 1 literally and said that I’d best be careful, or pretty soon I’d be trying to figure out on what day the Lord is going to return. Obviously, the Bible says that no will know the exact time, but another friend sent me this fascinating video. It’s only 11 minutes long. I’d love to have you watch it and let me know what you think! Thanks.  🙂

 “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour
wherein the Son of man cometh
” (Matthew 25:13).

Who Was Ussher, and What Did He Usher In?

Have you ever heard of James Ussher? He was the Archbishop of Armagh for the Church of Ireland and Primate of All Ireland from 1625-1656. He was a brilliant theologian, Chancellor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, and eventually the Vice-Provost at Trinity College. I’ve visited these places and am very impressed, because I can’t think any higher honors for someone living in that time and place!  However, what really made him famous was his scholarly work in attempting to figure out the age of the earth from studying biblical genealogies in the Masoretic text and cross-referencing them with various events in history such as the deaths of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. According to his calculations, Adam and Eve were created by God around 4004 BC, King Solomon’s temple was built 3000 years from creation, and Jesus was born 1000 years later. Even the Bible I use today has Ussher’s calculations of time included at the top of each page, so I think his work is still considered the gold standard for most English-speaking students of the Bible who believe in interpreting the scriptures literally.

Many people today think of the Bible as simply a book of legends and myths, but I do not. I believe it is true and is the inspired Word of God. As the Apostle Paul wrote, the scriptures are “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (1 Timothy 3:15-17).

Does this mean I believe that all we need to study is the Bible? Not at all! God has given us a vast world to explore and understand. However, I do believe the Bible is our textbook for how to live (and how to gain eternal life), and that it is accurate in what it says. I also resonate with Moses’s teaching in Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” God has given us tiny windows into the universe—like a father explaining something vastly complex to his children—but what he says is true, albeit put in simple language that we can understand. And, this is enough for us. We can delve into the mysteries of the universe all we want and will never exhaust knowledge, but in the Bible, we have all we need to live lives filled with love, joy, peace, and goodness. It is enough. God is enough. Jesus is enough!

But, what about the age of the world? Is it really 6,021 years old? I’m not sure. I do believe that I’ve descended from Adam and Eve, whether or not I can “prove” it through genealogical research. I also believe in the Genesis account of creation, including “the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5). Sounds like a 24-hour day to me, and therefore I tend to hold with the “early creation” point of view. Tomorrow I want to share more on that subject, but for today, may I just end with the last words of James Ussher? “O Lord forgive me, especially my sins of omission.” Ussher ushered in an age of believing the world was nearing 6 thousand years of age and that the millennial reign of Christ would begin at the beginning of the 7th thousand (roughly AD 2000). Was he right, or did he omit something accidentally that made his calculations off?

When we get to heaven, we’ll know the truth about so many things, but in the meantime, can we humbly hold to our opinions without letting them break our fellowship? There are some things worth arguing, but I don’t personally believe that genealogies or how many days the earth has existed are among them. The only thing we’re exhorted to contend for in the scripture is true faith: “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). God want us to believe and testify to true faith, and that faith is explained in the Bible.

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9).

As I besought thee…that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:3-5, emphasis mine).

 

I’m the Daughter of Adam: Are You Surprised?!

Although compiling a family genealogy (or “family history,” as it’s more popularly called in Europe) has been going on for all of recorded history, tracing your own family tree is a pretty daunting task. In the U.S., most of us were too proletarian to pursue genealogical connections until Alex Haley’s 1976 novel, Roots, took America by storm. Today, it’s all the buzz! I read in one source that up to 42% of leisure research on the internet today is related to genealogy (don’t know if that’s correct). To be sure, it’s become very popular, particularly since 1999, when internet resources made researching so much easier.  The largest resource for genealogical research in the world is free and is called FamilySearch:   https://familysearch.org/ It was started back in 1894. They have over 3.3 billion records and 12+billion names from over 100 countries, with over 150 million users. This is the resource I’ve been using, although there are several others out there.  My journey took me back through many lines. Some trailed off almost immediately, and some lasted hundreds of years before disappearing.

Other lines were more promising. Following various trails, I appear (perhaps)  to have descended from King Arthur,  Constantine the Great,  Joseph of Arimathea,  Hyrancus II,  Cleopatra,the Caesars,   Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt (BC 210-181…the Rosetta stone describes his coronation),  Pharoah Psamteck I of Egypt,  and even back to Helen of Troy and Paris.

I was feeling a little dubious about the whole Trojan War thing (although history suggests such a battle may have occurred), but when I got to generation 80, which said I was the daughter of Zeus, and that was the end of the line…well, I disbelieved the last bit for sure. I’m not sure who was the father, but I don’t believe it was a god!  Another line from Greece back to Turkey ended after 97 generations with Simeois the River God of Acadia ben Oceanus… “son of Oceanus,” another mythological God. Hmmm.  One line from William the Conqueror went back to Halfdan the Old of Norway (whose relatives also populated Iceland). My Norwegian line goes back 52 generations to “Vifil” the Sea King and ends up after 60+ generations suggesting that I’m the offspring of Thor. Not.  My Irish line ended up being the most promising. Although it’s commonly taught that St. Patrick brought writing to the Irish in the fifth century, they apparently had a rich oral tradition of genealogies, which were recorded by professional families of historians known as senchaidh. I’m guessing it was through this source (although I’m not sure) that my lineage went back through the centuries, sometimes with only names listed, way back to the eighth century BC, where after 92 generations the record says that Princess of Judah, Tamar, Tephi ha-David Bat Josiah, was born in Jerusalem but married Eochaidh Buadhach mac Duach, the King of Ireland around 736 BC, and died in Obhdah, Meath, Ireland. Fascinating! The English do have ancient legends about “the lost tribe of Judah” and their ties to the Jewish people. Once on a London bus taking a tour of London, they played a ballad telling all about it, but it never made the least bit of sense to me until I saw this entry in the genealogical records.  As a believer, I would love to think I have some Jewish roots. That line took me back through the kings of Judah to Adam and Eve after 141 generations. The genealogy was biblically accurate, although they had left out 4 names, which would bring the total to 145 generations.  Through another line, my lineage went back to Moses and Aaron. Of course, all these lines merged at Noah and then went back through the patriarchs eventually to Adam and Eve.  Fascinating? To me, yes!! Fun? Absolutely!! How likely? Well, I absolutely believe in the validity of the biblical genealogies, and so I do believe we’re all descendants of Adam and Eve, but I reject the theory that I’m an offspring of Thor or Zeus.  🙂  I also noticed that the sources suggesting that humans sprang from gods (rather than being created by God) trailed off much earlier than the Jewish record. The Jewish narrative is by far the longest, and goes back to roughly BC 4000. This is consistent with the calculations of James Ussher…but that may have to wait until next week!

What do you think? Do you have any opinion about “In the beginning…”?

If you’ve never heard the biblical account, this is how it starts: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” (Genesis 1:1-5).

 

DNA: Do You Know Where You Come From? …A Nation of Kings and Priests…

Have you ever gotten your DNA tested or done genealogical research? Alan and I never seemed to have time or enough interest to pursue such until our kids got interested, so we figured if we had our DNA tested, our seven kids would know without having to pay. As far as either Alan or I knew, we were 100% British Isles, with Alan mostly Scottish and I mostly English. Our DNA tests mostly confirmed that, although we both had a couple of surprises. I am 100% European, and the largest single percent is from the British Isles, although I had a significant amount of Norwegian in me. (Oops, I thought…some Viking must have come ashore and caused trouble.) The other surprise was that I was nearly 50% “Western European,” although on consideration, the circle included lower England, which was in fact the area where I had been told my family originally lived. All well and good. Case closed.

…Until my daughter-in-law came to visit a few weeks ago! Carleen has done a lot of research, and she’d traced our family line back way back! She showed me how to search on line…and I was hooked. Through following genealogical pathways, Carleen pointed out that I wasn’t always English!  Well, I was related to King James (no wonder I’ve always clung to 1611 “Authorized” version of the King James Version of the Bible!),  but further into the past, I discovered that 21 generations ago I was the offspring of John Plantagenet (whose mother was from Belgium) as well as 22 generations ago from Edward III of England. (The plot thickens.)                   I was also related to Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland,             and William the Conqueror (King of England, but from France). Twenty-five generations back I descended from Carlo II, King of Naples, Italy, and Princess Maria from Budapest, Hungary.  I also descended from Ivar, son of Halfdan and Harold the Redbeard from Norway, Olaff II from Denmark, King Dag of Vestmarar, King Eystein from Sweden, King Waldemar from Russia, Robert Capet I, King of the Franks, Duchess Théodrade Svatana Duc de Saxe (born CAROLINGIEN) from Germany,          Roi Vandalar d’Ostrogothie from Romania, and 40 generations ago:                                                                       Charlemagne!
I also have lots of Irish and Welsh blood, and even strains from Spain and Portugal, Austria and Prussia! As Americas often say, I’m one of the “Heinz 57” varieties (origins from everywhere)! (I took notes but failed to take photos of everything, because—fascinating as this is, it’s also pretty time consuming!)

Now, I’m not sure how accurate all the history is, but I did remember studying about the kings and queens of various European countries and how they often had arranged marriages for political reasons. After tracing my lineage, I realized that sooner or later over the millennium, my blood line had been transfused with blood from almost all the Western European nations.

So what? Really, nothing. Genealogy studies are fun, but they’re only about our physical heritage. Did you know that we can have a spiritual lineage as well, which is eternal? God created each of us in his likeness and to be an image-bearer of his character. He invites us to be his children through faith in his Son, Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, John taught us: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 14:11-13). Through faith in Christ, God makes us a part of his universal kingdom, and not simply as servants, but as an entire nation of kings and priests. Talk about a wonderful lineage! That exceeds any heritage of any person on earth, even the Queen of England today!!  🙂

Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:4-6, KJV, emphasis mine)

(Besides the photos of my family tree, the first photo is from a book by Captain John Smith published in 1624, and the last is a coin with the imprint of Charlemange, both from Wiki.)

The Mayflower and Other Ships: Are You Aboard?

  I now understand why genealogical research is so popular…and a bit addictive! It’s like treasure hunting for your family roots! Yesterday’s discovery that I am related to the Puritans was super exciting to me (although you might be glad if you’re not related),  but after poring over my 200+ forebearers who immigrated to this country (about 95% from England during the 16oo’s), I’ve discovered that I’m related to George Washington and Robert E. Lee via Captain Nicolas Mariau (French), who landed at Jamestown in 1620 and became “The Father of Yorktown.”  I’m also related to a lot of people I’d never heard of before, like Captain Gabriel Francis Holland (from England) who came to Jamestown on the ship Supply in 1621 and married Mary Pinke, who was born in James City, Virginia back in 1596 just after her father Henri died. The stories are fascinating! One forebearer, Edward Bosworth, died in 1634 on the voyage over to Boston on the Elizabeth and Dorcas (one of nine ships sailing in that fleet). In 1635, Colonel William Ball immigrated from England to Virginia in the ship Planter. My ancestor John Sutton married Julia Ann Little in England in 1616 but moved to America in 1638 on the ship The Diligent. Captain George Denison I came over to America as a boy but later returned to England, where he married Ann Borodell in 1645 although they both died in America, so they must have returned at some point. My forebearer William Denison came to America on The Lion after his wife, Margaret Chandler died in England in 1645.  But, the most surprising thing to me was the discovery that out of the 101 listed passengers on the Mayflower, I’m related to 11 of them! I was amazed, although I had been told as a little girl that my parents were both from British stock. Just quickly, let me tell you a couple of tales about my relatives on the Mayflower (which might not be too interesting to anybody but my relatives). There were four sets who eventually became intermarried into two related groups. The first group were Francis and John Cooke, a father-son duo who had left the rest of the family behind (although Francis’s wife and the other two younger children did join them in 1623 aboard the ship Anne).  Also aboard was Richard Warren, whose wife Elizabeth, and their five daughters, likewise came over on the supply ship Anne in 1623. In 1634, John Cooke married Richard’s daughter, Sarah, which is good for me, because they are my (many) great grandmother and grandfather.  I’m also descended from John Tilley and Joan (Hurst) Tilley through their daughter Elizabeth, who was about 13 when they climbed aboard the Mayflower with John’s brother Edward, and his wife, Agnes (Cooper) Tilley, who had no children, although they had the care of an infant niece, Humility Cooper, and a young nephew, Henry Samson. Sadly, all four of the parents died shortly after coming ashore in April of 1621, leaving the children as orphans. (Nearly half the pilgrims died during that winter and spring.)  Young Elizabeth married John Howland several years later. John had come as an apprentice to Governor John Carver, but Carver also died during the same epidemic in April 1621. On the way over, John Howland had been swept overboard in a huge storm and only survived by grabbing one of the ship lines so he could be hauled back on board. Lucky for me, or I wouldn’t be here today!   John Howland became an elder in his church and with Elizabeth (Warren)  raised a large family with ten children, all of whom survived and married, so it’s thought that they have more descendants living today than any other Mayflower passengers.  Some of their descendants include Franklin D. Roosevelt, both President Bush’s, Humphrey Bogart, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Doctor Benjamin Spock.  In her will, Elizabeth ended with this counsel to her children (and descendants): “It is my will and charge to all my children that they walk in the fear of the Lord and in love and peace toward each other.” Amen to that! Not only do I ascribe to this counsel of my ancient mother, I pray that for my children as well.  And, for all of us! I was thinking about ships and passages. There is only one sure ship that will give us safe passage to heaven, and that is Jesus, but there are also many “fellow ships” on this earth—numberless groups of believers who have joined together for worship and community. It doesn’t matter if we’re on The Diligent or the Mayflower, but we won’t get to heaven without being aboard some ship that belongs to the King! Are you aboard? Are you enjoying fellowship? So many stories. So many journeys! So worth doing!

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7)

(Only the three genealogical images are mine; the rest are all from Wiki or other sources, but I’ve labeled them as best I could.)

The Daughter of a Puritan: What’s in a Name?

My son Joel mentioned not long ago that I’m the most conservative person he’s ever met. He said it kindly, but I don’t think he expressly meant it as a compliment.

Do you know what your name means? If so, has that knowledge impacted your life? My first name is “Kathryn,” which comes from the root word for “pure,” and I’ve always attempted (with plenty of failures!) to live up to my name. However, for the first twelve years of life, I didn’t associate my name in any way with God, because since my father professed atheism and my mom agnosticism, we were never exposed to religious teaching. Still, both my parents ascribed to a very high morality, and I wanted to live up to their “gold standard.” I wanted to be pure!

This was on my mind when my daughter-in-law was visiting and showed me how to access genealogical research online. Various friends and relatives have been very involved in researching their roots, but until lately, I never seemed to find time. This week I want to share with you what I’ve been learning, and the first exciting revelation is that I’m the great great (make that 7 more greats) daughter of two Puritan ministers! So, maybe that’s part of the reason I’m motivated to be pure! Reverend Nathaniel Ward (the earliest record I can find, back in 1572) was a Cambridge-trained Puritan minister who helped his son, Reverend John Ward (also a Puritan) buy  16 acres for 3 pounds along the Merrimack River, where he became the first minister of the the colonial settlement named Haverhill in Massachusetts back in 1640.

Have you looked into your history? I’m finding so many interesting things! Despite my father’s lack of faith (until he came to believe in his 80’s), the description of  Nathaniel Ward fits my dad to a T: “He was an exact Grammarian, an expert Physician and which was the Top of all, a thorough Divine, accompanied with a most Healthy, Hardy and Agile Body which enabled him to make nothing of walking on foot, a Journey as long as Thirty Miles together.”

Names are precious, and roots help ground us, but over the years, I’ve learned to cherish the name “Christian” (little Christ, or son of Christ) above any other name, and I find it even more compelling than the name Kathryn, because Christ was pure and holy to be sure, but He is so much more as well! No matter what our earthly names or roots may be, for all who believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can be called by his name—the name above all names!

God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name
” (Philippians 2:9).

“Jesus, Name Above All Names”

“Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.” (—Naida Hearn)

(PS—The likeness is of Increase Mather, a Puritan minister from the same era. I couldn’t find any likeness of Rev. John Ward.)