Arguments Over Apostolic Succession Started with the Apostles

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name,
and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us

But Jesus said, Forbid him not:
for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name,
that can lightly speak evil of me.
For he that is not against us is on our part.

Mark 9 :38-40

Dragons and the Difficulty Level

In the creation account God creates seven categories of creatures, the fish, the birds, dragons (tanniyn), cattle, creepies, beasts, and man.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

In the first declaration of the Dominion mandate mankind is put over: 1.Fish 2.Fowl 3.Cattle 4.All the Earth 5.Creepies: you’ll notice that Dragons are missing as well as Beasts of the earth. Then in Gen 1.28 God says:

“and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

1.Fish 2.Fowl 3.Living Things Upon the Earth. The last category would include Beasts of the earth, but it is curious that they aren’t mention explicitly. Dragons are left off the list again. I think beasts are not explicitly mentioned because to tame a lion is much more difficult than to tame a cow. Dominion is always a work in progress, but some things come farther down the line than others. Both the beasts and particularly the dragons are at a different level of difficulty. You’ll notice that both Dragons and Beasts are centered:

v.20,21: Fish>Fowl>Dragons<Fish<Fowl

v.24,25: Cattle>Creepies>Beasts:Beasts<Cattle<Creepies

The next step in the story comes at Noah. Gen 9.2:

“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.”

Presumably, cattle is left off the list because they’re domesticated already, but Dragons are still left off the list. The beasts of the earth have been explicitly mentioned under this covenant, which wasn’t the case in Gen 1.28.


A curious event happens in Exodus that needs to be considered. In Ex.4 God tells Moses to cast his rod down and it becomes a serpent (nachash). In Ex.7 in the showdown with Pharaoh and his magicmen Moses tells Aaron to throw down his rod and it becomes a dragon (tanniyn), though your Bible may translate it serpent. Pharaoh’s men cast their rods down and they too become tanniyn, but we know they are smaller because Aaron’s rod swallows them. I like to think they were baby crocs and Aaron’s is a big croc.

Dragons seem to be beyond man’s ability to deal with. God asks Job (ch.41) if he can handle the Leviathan, the great sea-beast, and the answer is pretty clearly no. But in Psalm 74 we learn that Yahweh breaks the dragons and feeds us Leviathan meat. Plus there are hints that things will change. Ps.91 says: “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” While this primarily refers to Christ we no doubt partake of this in him.

Psalm 8 says speaking of man, “Thou made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou has put all things under his feet: sheep and oxen, all, and beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and [whatsoever passes] through the paths of the seas.”

“Beasts of the field” seems to be a generic “things that live on the land” (see Gen 2.19 as opposed to “beasts of the earth” in Gen 1), so it highlights two sacrificial animals and then the generic term for the other cattle, beasts of the earth, and the creepies. Next it mentions fowl and fish and if we take the brackets as an accurate translation then the “whatsoever” would include the tanniyn. Though part of me wants to translate it as “the fish of the sea, passing in the paths of the sea” which would exclude the tanniyn. Either way, David is looking ahead to the time when dragons are under man’s feet.

The verse that connects serpent to dragon is Is. 27.1 where the Leviathan is described as a serpent:

“In that day Yahweh will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, with his fierce and great and mighty sword, even Leviathan the twisted serpent; and he will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.”

So as we learn from the Greek testament, Satan is the serpent of old and the dragon of later. In the Hebrew testament even though serpents are afflictions they are under man’s feet, but man doesn’t mess with dragons until Jesus comes. To go from serpent to dragon also means a change in tactics. The serpent seeks to win through deceit, but the dragon through violence. The serpent lies at first, but then it grows; the serpent increases becoming a dragon and the dragon devours.

.   .   .

Mark 9: 21-29

And he asked his father, “How long is it ago since this came unto him?”

And he said, :Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.”

Jesus said unto him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could not we cast him out?”

And he said unto them, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

Interpreting the Mountain

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
(Is. 40:4).

What does it mean that every mountain shall be made low? What’s wrong with mountains?

It could be argued that the earth must be leveled so that all can see the glory of the Lord coming at the same time, no valleys or hills obscuring the view. Maybe.

I recently posed this question to my science class, who had just finished reading Jim Jordan’s Through New Eyes. At first they answered with some sort of equalizing gesture; we’re all the same before God.

Then I asked them what mountains symbolized. Altars, a meeting place with God, ladders to heaven. I asked again, what do mountains mean? They answered that there will be no need for an altar, no need to ascend into heaven to meet with God, for he will be with us.

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
(Matt. 3:1-3)

And Mary Kept These Things In Her Heart

I continue to groove with the Magnificat, reflecting on Mary as a type of the church. No grand point here, just a neat thing.

After the shepherds visited it is recorded: “and Mary kept these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

The verb for “kept” is the Greek verb syntereo, translated in the gospel of Matthew as “preserved” and “observed”. The only other time Luke uses this verb is in the parable of the new wine and old wine bottles. “But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved” (Luke 5:38).


With Child

It is hard to break out of our education and knowledge, but imagine reading the Gospel of Matthew for the first time. Imagine reading, with no knowledge of Jesus, Joseph and Mary, that Mary, before coming together with Joseph, was found with child of the Holy Spirit. We don’t exactly know what this means, but we expect some foul play by this fellow who calls himself the Holy Spirit. It isn’t until a few verses later that we read:

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child”

Quite a shocker, I bet. But that’s not what I want to note. I’m interested in this term “with child”.

The Greek is actually, transliterated, gaster, from which we get gastronomic and it means: belly, stomach, womb. It appears nine times in the Greek Testament with eight of those in reference to pregnancy. It is paired with the Greek verb “to hold/have” and could therefore be translated “holding in the womb”.

The only other time it is used is in Titus 1:12 “The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies” which is a reference to gluttony.

The only other word I found in reference to pregnancy was enkuos in Luke 2:5 “To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” This is the only use of the word and it appears to be related to “en kuma” or “in the wave”.

The Radical Act of the Magnificat

The first chapters of the gospel of Luke are a musical featuring songs by such luminaries as Elizabeth, Simeon, Zacharias and Mary. I have a hard time now reading Gabriel without imagining a punishing glory-roar of trumpets and a dulcet baritone thundering, “Fear not, Zacharias, for thy prayer is heard.”

.  .  .

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior;

For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.
For behold, from this time forth all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;

And His mercy is upon generation to generation
Toward those who fear Him.
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
And has exalted those of low estate.
The hungry He has filled with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.

.  .  .

In taking up threads from the Song of Hannah and Psalm 72, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit and her own education, Mary takes up the history of Israel. She calls herself blessed because “all shall be blessed in him” (Ps. 72:17). She sees his mighty acts in her low estate and completes the promise: the proud are darkened, the mighty cast down, the hungry filled.

The church in taking up her song has made it everyone’s song. The radical thing about singing the Magnificat is that the church isn’t (just) singing about Mary, the church is singing about herself.

When the church sings the Magnificat she sings that “all generations will call me blessed” and in singing this the church is pulled backwards and forwards. All generations past and future acknowledge the blessing, we bless the history of blessing showered on God’s people.

Whether the church sees it or not she sings about the scattered proud and the fallen mighty. It is a practice in faith, it is a grounding in humility, to pronounce an exaltation that we may not see, to announce the strength of his arm we may be missing.