The Most Important Question

At the end of July, I will complete forty years of teaching at Western Seminary and transition into a new phase of life commonly known as “retirement.” I don’t like that word and prefer to think of myself as “repositioning” for the next decade of my life and ministry. I look forward to some new and different opportunities of ministry, travel, and time with family.

As a Bible prof at Western, I have enjoyed the privilege of teaching each book of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation—many, many times. What a privilege it has been to study God’s Word and to share the fruits of my study with young men and women who are preparing to serve the Lord. I have learned a great deal from my own study and research, but I have also learned a lot from my students! The questions they have raised in class have challenged me and stimulated me to dig deeper in my search for understanding and to provide biblically based answers to their questions.

There is one question which stands out among all the others which were asked during my tenure at Western Seminary. And this question wasn’t even asked by a student. It was asked by our academic dean, Dr. Jim Sweeney, during an annual faculty interview. I recall that Jim asked a number of questions about my teaching, my family and my overseas ministry. Then before my interview concluded, he asked one more question. “Carl, is there anything going on in your life that would bring embarrassment to Western Seminary if it were known publically?”
It was a question I had not expected. But it may be the most important question I was asked during my career at Western Seminary. It was a personal question. It was a caring question. It was a question of accountability. Jim was telling me that he was concerned not only about my academic life as a prof, but my personal life as a Christian leader. Jim’s question reflects the fact that Western Seminary is more than an academic institution and a training center for students of Bible and theology. Jim was acknowledging that Western Seminary is a Christian community where discipleship and accountability takes place not just with students, but among the faculty and staff as well.

By God’s grace I was able to provide the dean with a “no” answer to his question. Thankfully, there was nothing going on in my life that would bring dishonor to Jesus Christ or to Western Seminary. But this question has lingered in my mind over the years. It was the anticipation of having to answer that question at my next faculty interview that helped me to say “no” to the temptations I faced during that year.
As Christian leaders, we want to live God honoring lives. We want to be the holy men and women that God has called us to be. As Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).” God has given us the resources to live holy, sanctified lives (Romans 6-8). But we can’t do this alone. We need each other. We need the Christian community to hold us accountable, hear our confession when we fail, and pray for us when we are weak.

One of my former students visited my office to give me an update on his ministry. We had a wonderful visit as he told me of how God was opening up a new opportunity for Christian service. Before he left my office I put my hand on his shoulder asked him the most important question that had been asked of me. I asked him if he was keeping pure and steering clear from those sins that are so damaging to our Christian character and ministry. I asked because I cared. I asked because we need accountability in the body of Christ. I asked because we are at war with an enemy who is seeking to destroy us. I asked because I wanted to intercept sin before it could wreak havoc in a brother’s life. I hope my question had the same impact on my former student as the dean’s question had for me.
Asking a Christian leader or someone we admire a question about their personal, spiritual life may not be easy. We tend to put such people on a pedestal, forgetting that they are just like us—men and women of flesh, with the potential for temptation and sin. But it is time for us to begin asking the hard, accountability questions of our friends, colleagues, pastors and Christian leaders. We will do so if we really love them and truly care.

Maintaining Marital Faithfulness

God’s Word is quite clear: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exod. 20:14). Yet we read so frequently of Christian leaders who have become involved in immorality. I will never forget the heartache our faculty experienced many years ago when a colleague confessed at a faculty meeting that he had gotten involved in an illicit affair. He lost his faculty position, his marriage and his family. Although he later repented and returned to a God-honoring way of life, his sexual sin brought great grief to his family, friends and the faculty of Western Seminary.

The fact is, these moral tragedies don’t have to happen. Nobody has to commit adultery. God, by his grace, always provides a way for us to avoid sin. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians that with every temptation God provides “a way of escape” (1 Cor. 10:13). With this in mind, many years ago my wife, Nancy, and I agreed on some precautions that we would take to keep our marriage strong and avoid sexual compromise.

  1. We have committed ourselves to marital faithfulness. We have made this commitment in a time of strength to protect us in a time of vulnerability.


  1. We make our relationship a sacred priority. While there are lots of demands on our time and attention, our marriage is at the top of our list of shared priorities.


  1. We strive to dress and look our best. Recognizing that appearance is important, we work to keep ourselves healthy, fit, and attractive to each other.


  1. We make each other feel needed and appreciated. We contribute different things to our marriage and value each other’s contributions to this relationship.


  1. We are committed to strengthening our marriage. We recognize that the 2nd law of thermodynamics applies to marriage and we work to prevent deterioration in our relationship.


  1. We have Christian friends and family who pray for us and hold us accountable. We are so thankful for moms, dads and friends who have prayed for us over the years.


  1. We take care not to “sexualize” friendships with members of the opposite sex. We enjoy friendship with both men and women, but never allow those friendships to become fantasy or physical.


  1. We recognize the spiritual aspects of our physical union. While we enjoy the physical relationship of marriage, we recognize the priority of our spiritual relationship as a brother and sister in Christ.


  1. We are available to one another for intimate times. We don’t allow busy schedules, travel, and late night television to infringe on the special oneness that is exclusively ours in marriage.


  1. We keep the sparkle in our physical relationship. Thoughtful cards, gifts, comments and little surprises keeps the romance in our marriage.


  1. We know that times of separation offer opportunities for temptation, so we plan carefully for the times we are apart. We take special care during periods of separation to avoid potentially compromising situations.


  1. We take responsibility for our own sexual response and have determined to be “safe” persons with those who might be vulnerable. We are committed to protecting, rather than exploiting, any naïvely available person we may encounter.


  1. We recognize that the delights of illicit sex are mere fantasy and illusion. We refuse to believe Satan’s lie that the most exciting and satisfying sex is outside of marriage.


  1. We refuse to entertain sexual fantasies involving friends or acquaintances of the opposite sex. We know that purity in mind is essential to maintaining purity in heart and body.


  1. We recognize the deep pain and permanent damage caused by adultery. While God is always willing to forgive and restore a repentant person, we have chosen to be faithful to each other and avoid bringing unnecessary hurt and pain to ourselves and our family.


This past June Nancy and I celebrated our 47th anniversary. And I am happy to say that taking these precautions has enabled us, by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s enablement, to remain faithful to each other these many years. We hope these guidelines will help other Christians maintain marital faithfulness for their own good and for God’s glory.





Remembering Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Arimathea is a relatively minor figure in the New Testament. We don’t think much about him except around Easter when believers remember the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Yet Joseph’s importance is evident by the fact that he is mentioned in all four gospels (Mt. 27:57, Mk 15:43, Lk. 23:51, Jn. 19:38). And much can be learned from his example.

To distinguish him from other “Josephs” in the Bible, he is identified by his home town, Arimathea. The Gospel of Luke records that Arimathea was a “city of Judea,” or more literally, “a city of the Jews” (Lk. 23:51). In his Onomasticon (144:28-29), Eusebius identifies this city with Ramathaim-Zophim and locates it near Diospolis (near Modern Lod). The Crusaders identified it with Ramla on land which had once been allotted to the tribe of Dan. Geographers have not been able to identify Arimathea with certainty, but Luke’s reference suggests that Joseph was from “the city of the Jews” was therefore representative of the Jewish theological tradition. Yet he is clearly a follower of Jesus We’d call him a messianic Jew—a “Jew for Jesus.” What else do we know about Joseph?

Joseph was a rich man (Mt. 27:57). Matthew, the former tax collector, points out that Joseph was a “rich” man. While riches can be a hindrance to one’s spiritual life and development, this is not always the case. Both Joseph and Zaccheus (Lk. 19:1-9) are examples of rich men who possessed wealth, but didn’t let their wealth possess them.

Joseph was a prominent Jewish leader (Mt. 15:43). Joseph was a recognized and prominent leader in the Jewish community—a member of the Sanhedrin, the body that ruled the Jews in matters of their religion. As a member of the Sanhedrin, he would have enjoyed the respect of his peers and honor in the Jewish community.

Joseph had a kingdom hope (Mk. 15:43, Lk. 23:51). Both Mark and Luke point out that Joseph was “waiting for the kingdom of God.” Like most Jews of his day, he expected that God would soon establish His kingdom rule on earth by sending the Messiah to lead a military revolt that would expel the Roman occupiers from Jewish lands. But his understanding of God’s kingdom was no doubt modified by the teachings of Jesus who preached that the kingdom was a present spiritual reality (Mt. 13) that would have a physical consummation at His return (Mt. 24-25).

Joseph was a disciple of Jesus (Jn. 19:38, Mt. 27:57). Like other Jewish people in the early first century, Joseph was a student of the Torah as well as the Jewish traditions found in the Mishnah. He had studied the prophecies about a coming “prophet like Moses” (Dt. 18:15, Jn. 1:45, Acts 3:22-26). Joseph had embraced Jesus as the promised prophet and had become a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is a “learner.” Joseph was a student of both the Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus as well as the teachings of Jesus. However, because of his position as a leader of the Jews, Joseph was unwilling to let his faith in Jesus be known publicly. John tells us that he was a “secret” follower of Jesus “for fear of the Jews” (Jn. 19:38).

Joseph was a courageous man (Mk. 15:43). Although Joseph was fearful for his own reputation and relationship with other Jewish leaders in the community, he was able to overcome his own fears after the crucifixion of Jesus. Mark records that Joseph “gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” Someone has said that “courage if fear under control.” It must have taken tremendous courage to go before Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus, especially so soon after his colleagues in the Sanhedrin had demanded His crucifixion. Perhaps the words God spoke to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous” (Josh. 1:6), were ringing in his ears as he entered the Praetorium (the governor’s residence) to make his appeal to Pontius Pilate.

Joseph was a generous man (Lk. 23:53). Joseph’s generosity is evidence by the fact that he freely offered his new, rock cut tomb, as a burial place for Jesus (Mt. 28:60). The bodies of common criminals were often simply tossed into a ravine to be scavenged by wild dogs and carnivorous birds. Joseph was not going to let that happen to the body of Jesus. It took courage to intervene and generosity to provide a decent burial for his honored rabbi. His generosity actually fulfilled a prophecy, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death” (Isa. 53:9).

Joseph was engaged in sacrificial service (Lk. 23:53-54; Jn. 19:38). Lastly, Joseph was a man who was willing to sacrifice his own ceremonial purity to remove the body of Jesus from the cross and transport it to his tomb for burial. Touching a dead body would render Joseph ritually impure and mean that he would be unable to participate in Passover with his family (Lev. 11:24-25). For Joseph, there was something more important that enjoying the food, fun and festivities of the Passover Seder. He was willing to forgo all this for the sake of honoring the body of Jesus.

Joseph wasn’t a perfect man. He was fearful and slow to let others know of His faith in Jesus. Yet, as a disciple of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea was able to overcome his fears to honor and serve his Savior. May his example of courage, generosity and sacrificial service inspire us as followers of Jesus today.

A New Year–A New Beginning with God

A new year often provides new opportunities and new beginnings. And like many of the biblical characters, Christians often need a new beginning of obedience with God.

Second Samuel 11 records a sad and sordid story in the life of David. While his army was off at war, David was back in Jerusalem with time on his hands. One night while gazing down on Jerusalem from the roof of his palace, he saw a woman bathing. Although it was dark, David could see by the light of the night sky that she was a beautiful woman. Instead of turning from this temptation, David yielded to his own lust.

He inquired about the woman and learned that her name was Bathsheba and that her husband, Uriah, served in his army. It was not too late for David to say “No” to sin and turn from his temptation. But instead, he invited Bathsheba to his palace and had sexual relations with her. Later, when David learned that Bathsheba was pregnant, he attempted to cover up his sin. When this failed, he had his faithful soldier, Uriah, killed on the battlefield. He then married Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.

God was not pleased with what David had done. 2 Samuel 12 records how David was confronted and convicted about his sin. This chapter illustrates five steps to a new beginning with God.

Commission (2 Sam. 12:1)

The first step in David’s new beginning with God took place when God raised up and commissioned the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. God frequently uses another believer to help us get back on the right path when we have fallen into sin. When a brother or sister is struggling with sin and being deceived by the Devil, we must be willing to be God’s instrument to encourage revival and restoration.

Confrontation (2 Sam. 12:2-8)

The second step in David’s new beginning with God was when Nathan confronted David with his sin. Nathan lived in an oriental culture where a face to face confrontation would have been difficult. And so Nathan used an indirect approach. Nathan told the story of a rich man who had many flocks and herds, but he took the lamb of a very poor man and slaughtered it to feed his guest. David was quick to recognize that a great injustice had been done! When Nathan applied the parable to David, the king realized that he was the one who had done a grave injustice to Uriah and Bathsheba. David had complained that the rich man in the story had shown no compassion. In reality, David was the one who had shown no compassion on Uriah!

Commandment (2 Sam. 12:9-10)

In the third step of David’s fresh start with God was when Nathan pointed out how David’s actions had violated the Word of God. David was guilty of coveting, adultery and murder. In bringing the Word of God before David, the Lord provides a good pattern for those situations in which we must confront others. It doesn’t matter what we think about a person’s actions. What matters is what God says about them.

 Consequences (2 Sam. 12:11)

The fourth step in David’s new beginning of obedience was to recognize the awful consequences of his sin. Nathan’s predictions of the consequences of David’s sin were literally fulfilled in years that followed David’s sin with Bathsheba. David’s two sons, Amnon (13:38-39) and Absalom (18:15), died violent deaths. Tamar, David’s daughter, was raped by her brother, Amnon (13:1-14). Absalom rebelled against his father and publicly appropriated David’s royal concubines (16:22). David experienced a biblical principle known as “the law of the harvest.” David sowed the seeds of sin and immorality, and he reaped a harvest of sin and immorality in his own family.

Confession (2 Sam. 12:12:13)

Although David sinned in a grievous way against the Lord, his heart was sensitive to Nathan’s rebuke. David immediately confessed his sin. Confession of sin is the fifth step in beginning again with God. David confessed his sin and God immediately forgave him. The more complete, poetic version may be found in Ps. 51. David’s confession of his sin resulted in God’s forgiveness. And this led to a restoration of his spiritual vitality.

A new beginning of obedience in our relationship with God is called “revival.” And the essence of revival is a revitalized walk with God. Spiritual revival reestablishes the believer’s highest priority–our relationship with God. The beginning of a new year is a great time for new beginnings—especially a new beginning with God!

A Biblical View of Marriage and Divorce

Answers to Questions About Remarriage and Divorce
by the author of The Divorce Myth

The History of the Issue

All the church fathers except one (Ambrosiaster) agreed that remarriage after divorce, whatever the cause, constitutes adultery. Even in the case of adultery, the faithful spouse did not have permission to remarry. This remained the standard in the church until the 16th century when Erasmus suggested that the “innocent” spouse not only had a right to divorce an unfaithful spouse, but could also contract a new marriage. This view was accepted by the Reformers and is the standard Protestant evangelical position on divorce and remarriage today.

The Crucial Questions

1. Does the exception in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 allow for remarriage after divorce in the case of porneia? No. There are three possible places the exception clause could appear: at the beginning of Jesus’s statement (making separation mandatory in the case of porneia), in the middle (allowing divorce only) and at the end (sanctioning both divorce and remarriage). If the exception clause in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 applies both to divorce and remarriage, these are the only two places in the New Testament where such an exception appears in the middle of the sentence and modifies both the preceding and following verbs.

2. What is the meaning of porneia in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9? Many evangelicals have mistakenly equated porneia with “adultery.” But there is another word (moicheia) which Jesus would have used if He had intended to allow for divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery. It has been argued that porneia refers to (1) any kind of sexual misconduct, (2) unfaithfulness during betrothal, or (3) incestuous marriage as forbidden in Leviticus 18:6-18. Each of these views is possible. Which would best fit in a Jewish context in a Jewish gospel? Since porneia does refer to incest in the New Testament (1 Cor. 5:1; Acts 15:20, cf. Lev. 17:8-18:16), and was a serious problem in the lives of the Herods (Archelaus, Antipas and Agrippa II), it is quite possible that Jesus was arguing the permanence of marriage except in the case of an illicit or illegal (ie. incestuous) marriage. John the Baptist had recently lost his life due to his condemning the incestuous marriage of Antipas to his brother’s wife who was also his niece. The questioning of Jesus by the Pharisees was probably motivated by a desire to see Jesus get into similar trouble. See The Divorce Myth, pp. 71-78, for complete argumentation.

3. Why was no exception recorded in Mark 10:1-12 and Luke 16:18? In Jesus’ teaching as recorded in the other Synoptic Gospels no exception to the permanence of marriage is given. There is no “exception” clause. Divorce and remarriage is said to constitute adultery in every circumstance. It has been suggested that Mark is a summary of the more complete record of what is found in Matthew, thus he leaves out the exception. But take a close look. Mark gives us details which are not found in Matthew. Mark’s account is actually the fuller or more complete account. Because the laws of Leviticus 18:6-18 did not apply to Gentiles, Mark saw no need to include the exception in his gospel to Roman readers. The exception is not found in Mark or Luke because it had no application to Romans or Greek Gentiles.

4. How did Paul understand the teaching of Jesus regarding marriage and divorce? Paul definitely regarded marriage as permanent (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). According to Paul, death and death alone could end a marriage. He has a word from Jesus that divorce is not allowed (1 Cor. 7:10-11). Paul, a first century theologian and Greek scholar, interprets the words of Jesus as not allowing for divorce or remarriage. Only two alternatives are presented those who have been divorced: (1) reconciliation to one’s spouse, or (2) the single life. One who has been divorced should seek reconciliation or actively pursue the single life. A new marriage is simply not an option which Paul recognizes.

5. What is the meaning of Paul’s words, “not under bondage” (1 Cor. 7:15)? While many have interpreted these words as allowing for remarriage in the case of desertion, Paul doesn’t mention remarriage in this verse at all. He knows of the concept of remarriage, but sees it as applying only to widows (1 Cor. 7:39). It is quite unlikely that Paul would prohibit divorce and remarriage in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 and then allow it in 7:15. The words “not under bondage” mean “not enslaved.” A deserted believer is not so bound to preserve the union that he or she must follow the deserter around like a slave seeking to maintain the marriage. Being enslaved is contrasted with being at peace. Rather than being a slave to an unwilling spouse, the believer can be at peace in the midst of a difficult situation.

6. What is the meaning of the words, “but if you marry, you have not sinned” (1 cor. 7:28). The key to any verse is its context. Paul is speaking about engaged virgins in 1 Corinthians 7:25-38. He has been arguing the advantages of the single life. Some people who had plans to marry were wondering if it was s sin to go ahead with the marriage. Paul is simply saying that those engaged virgins (parthenoi) who are in a state of marital freedom (lelusai, v. 27) commit no sin should they go ahead and marry.


Marriage was designed by God to be a permanent relationship (Gen. 2:24, “cleave” implies a permanent bonding). Divorce is a sin that God hates (Mal. 2:16). While divorce was regulated in the Old Testament (Deut. 24:1-4), it did not originate with God and never meets with His approval. Both Jesus and Paul forbade divorce (“What God has brought together let no man put asunder,” [Matt. 19:6] and “But to the married I give instruction . . .that the wife should not leave her husband . . . and that the husband should not send his wife away” [1 Cor. 7:10-11]). Why should Christians evangelicals approve what Scripture disapproves? To approve divorce and remarriage may well in fact to encourage it for it allows people to anticipate a way out of an unhappy relationship. If there were no loop-holes most people would commit themselves to making their marriage work.

Marriage is a picture of the believer’s relationship with Christ (Eph. 5:31-33). Is our relationship with Christ temporary or permanent? Can a true believer ever be separated from Christ (Rom. 8:35-39; Jn. 10:28)? If marriage were a dissoluble relationship, it would be a less than accurate representation of the indissoluble relationship between Christ and His church.

For further study see my book, The Divorce Myth (Bethany House 1981).

Wisdom Books (Job – Song of Songs)




The book of Job is anonymous.  The Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b) attributes the
work to Moses, but there does not seem to be any internal evidence to support this suggestion.

Date of Writing

There is a wide divergence of opinion concerning the date of composition.  Five main views are held by biblical scholars:

1.  The patriarchal age, before the time of Moses.
2.  The reign of Solomon (10th century B.C.)
3.  The reign of Manasseh (seventh century B.C.)
4.  The time of Jeremiah (late seventh century B.C.)
5.  The Babylonian exile (6th century B.C.)

A number of conservative scholars date the writing during the reign of Solomon who was noted for his literary pursuits.

Historical Setting

Internal evidence suggests that the Patriarchal age (2000-1000 B.C.)
provides the historical setting for the book.  This accounts for Job’s patriarchal family-clan organization and sacrifice, and his longevity (140 + years).  This would also account for the lack of reference to Israel, the exodus, or the Mosaic law.  The events of the book reflect a non-Hebraic background, for Job lived in the district of Uz located in northern Arabia.


While the problem of suffering provides the historical setting for the book, the author presents an even more significant issue–the problem of faith and doubt.  The story of Job leads the reader to consider, “How do you maintain faith in God in the face of such devastating trials?  How do you go on believing in God in times of His apparent absence?”  The book of Job is intended to demonstrate that it is possible to keep faith through trial.

Theme        Keeping faith in times of trial.


I.  THE TRAGEDY OF JOB (Introduction)          1-2
II.  THE STRUGGLE OF JOB (Speeches)             3:1-42:6
III.  THE TRIUMPH OF JOB (Conclusion)         42:7-17




Although many psalms are anonymous, quite a number identify the author.
The authors and their psalms include:

1.  David (3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, 68-70, 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124,
131, 133, 138-145)  73 total
2.   Asaph (50, 73-83)  12 total
3.   Sons of Korah (42, 44-45, 47-49, 84-85, 87)  9 total
4.   Solomon (72, 127)  2 total
5.   Heman the Ezrahite (88)  1
6.   Ethan the Ezrahite (89)  1
7.   Moses (90)  1

Date of Writing

The earliest of the psalms would be Psalm 90, written by Moses (c. 1440
B.C.).  The Davidic psalms would have been composed between 1020 and 975 B.C. and those of Asaph during approximately the same period.  Psalms 72 and 127 date from Solomon’s reign, around 950 B.C.  The psalms of the descendants of Korah and the two Ezrahites were probably pre-exilic.  Psalm 126 and 137 date from the return of the exiles.  There is little evidence for dating any of the psalms later than c. 500 B.C.

Historical Setting

Thirteen psalms give the historical setting out of which they were composed.  These include: Psalm 3, 7, 18, 34, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63, and 142.  It is hazardous to attempt to reconstruct the historical setting of a psalm where none is clearly indicated.


The purpose of Psalms is to express the religious sentiments of God’s people and ultimately praise God.


The praise of God–the public acknowledgment of His greatness and



Solomon is the most noteworthy author and contributor of the book (1:1,
10:1, 25:1).  Two sections of Proverbs (22:17-23:14 and 24:23-34) are attributed to “the wise.”  Proverbs 30:1-30 was written by Agur the son of Jakeh, and Proverbs 31:1-9 is said to be the sayings of king Lemuel.

Date of Writing

While most of the proverbs were written during the lifetime of Solomon, the final form of the book could not have appeared before the time of king Hezekiah (25:1). The book was probably in its completed and final form around 700 B.C.

Historical Setting

According to Jeremiah 18:18 the religious life of the Hebrews was molded by the prophets, the priests, and the wise men.  Although the wise men (and women) were never as prominent in national life as the priests and prophets, they did exert a considerable influence as teachers of wisdom. Their sayings enshrined certain truths gleaned from the experience of life, and were intended to serve as practical guidelines for successful living.
Their great concern was for the application of divine truth to human experience.  The most preeminent among the wise was Solomon (1 Kings 3:9-12), the author and contributor of most of Proverbs.


The purpose of Proverbs, recorded in 1:2-4, is to know wisdom and allow it
to govern one’s life.


The theme of Proverbs is the distinctive motto of the wisdom teachers (Prov. 1:7, Job 28:28, Ecc. 12:13), “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Reverence toward God is the essential prelude to all wisdom and successful living.

IV.  THE WORDS OF THE WISE  22:17-24:34




The author identifies himself as the “son of David, king of Jerusalem.”  While Solomon is not specified as the author, he is the most likely candidate.  References to the author’s unrivaled wisdom (1:16), unequaled wealth (2:7), opportunities for pleasure (2:3), and extensive building activities (2:4-6) support the Jewish tradition that Solomon authored the book (Megilla 7a and Shabbath 30).

Date of Writing

If Solomon was indeed the author of Ecclesiastes, then the work was probably composed late in his life (c. 935 B.C.) as indicated by the writer’s consciousness of old age and death (2:18, 12:1-7).  At the end of Solomon’s life he would have been able to draw upon his great wisdom and unsurpassed experience to provide very helpful and wise instruction.

Historical Setting

The book appears to be an address by Qohelet to an assembly of the wise
(cf. 1 Kings 4:31).  Wise men in ancient Israel were one media which God used to communicate His truth to man (Jer. 18:18).  They gave people counsel and presented wisdom from life and by divine inspiration.  The book may have been the record of Solomon’s wisdom instruction at an assembly of the wise during the latter days of his life.


Ecclesiastes demonstrates that it is utterly futile to assimilate all the
riddles and paradoxes of life.  God simply has not revealed the answers to all of life’s inconsistencies to man.  In light of the futility of trying to put all of life together, man must live by faith and use this one opportunity to live life to the fullest.  The book is intended to show that there is no contradiction between enjoying life to its fullest and living in obedience to God.


Enjoy God’s gift of life to the fullest, living in obedience to God with an awareness of impending judgment (2:24, 12:13-14).


I.  THE PROLOGUE  1:1-11
XI.  THE EPILOGUE  12:8-14




The book is attributed to Solomon (1:1).  This is confirmed by the repeated
references to royal luxury and costly imported products such as spikenard (1:12), myrrh (1:13), frankincense (3:6), silver, gold, purple, ivory, and beryl–items with which only royalty would be so familiar.

Date of Writing

The indiscriminate mention of geographical localities found in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms would suggest that the work was composed before the division of the monarchy.  The Song of Solomon was probably composed by Solomon sometime during his reign as king in Jerusalem (970-931 B.C).

Historical Setting

The Song of Songs is a lyric dialogue accompanied by a certain dramatic
movement.  A true story in the life of Solomon and a young lady lies at the background of the song.

King Solomon apparently had a vineyard in the mountains of Lebanon (4:8, 8:11) which he entrusted to caretakers consisting of a mother, two sons (1:6) and two daughters–the Shulammite (6:13) and a little sister (8:8).  While traveling in the north, Solomon encountered the lovely Shulammite maiden.  He spoke loving words to her (1:8-10) and won her affection (2:16).  Eventually, Solomon took the Shulammite to Jerusalem to become his bride (3:6-7).


The purpose of the book is to set forth the beauty and purity of wedded
love and its expression.  The book also warns against arousing one’s passions before there is a pleasing, God-honoring relationship and a proper marriage union.

Theme   The purity and beauty of wedded love as a divine gift.



1942 WWII Jeep

1942 WWII Willys Jeep
S.N. 107862
After finishing the restoration of my Army jeep, I started looking for another project. I found a Navy “slat grill” jeep built on  January 2, 1942. I bought the jeep and towed it  home on September 13, 2003.
The jeep looked pretty good and I thought it was going to be an easy project.

This jeep looks great, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that it was covered with a thick layer of Bondo which concealed
major damage and rust. It would be a much bigger project than I had anticipated.

I burned and scraped the Bondo off the tub down to bare metal.
 My first task was to remove the Bondo. Then I bought a MIG welder and began to learn how to repair sheet metal.

The motor was not operational so I knew that a rebuild would be a part of the project.
 Out comes the motor! Rebuilding the motor was
the most challenging aspect of this restoration. I had never done it before, but what a great learning experience!
I welded the “V” cross member to the frame and rear bumper. The two pieces are joined with bolts and a rivet.

The rear frame and cross member was badly damaged and required new metal and some serious welding.

The gas tank and tank well had to be totally replaced with new metal.
I replaced rusty and damaged panels on both sides of the jeep, the floor, replaced the tank well and side steps. My welding
improved as the project went on.
All the jeeps came out of the factory painted olive drab.
 Wow, this frame is looking good! Note the shiny new break lines. I rebuilt my transmission and replaced the seals in the transfer case.
I test ran the motor before installing the tub. It was a happy day when my rebuilt motor started!
 The project is coming along nicely. I love seeing how old metal can be repaired and renewed.
Jeeps came from the factory painted olive drab. The Navy painted their jeeps battleship grey.
 I painted the tub with a flat Navy gray. Next comes the wiring (much easier to do with the tub off the frame).
Easy boys! And thanks for your help!
 When installing the jeep tub on the frame, I recommend getting help from your neighbors. Watch out for the steering column and the wiring.
December 31, 2011
On the last day of 2011, I drove the jeep out of the driveway for the first time and went on a test drive. The 8 and 1/2 year project was nearly complete.
The first 15,000 jeeps were “slat grill.” Later jeeps had the more familiar pressed metal grill.
 I marked the hood “U.S. Navy” and add “Shore Patrol” to the windscreen. Note the Federal siren! It will be used in parades!
A pretty girl sure adds something nice to an old, grey Navy jeep!
 I showed off my jeep at the Military Vehicles Preservation Association Convention which our Military Vehicle Collectors Club of Oregon hosted in Portland (July 2013).
Ready for the parade with my restored jeep and Navy Shore Patrol outfit.

Although I have not served in the military, I am privileged to represent and honor the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces whenever I drive my jeep in a parade. Thank you for your service, veterans!

Click here to see a video with pictures of this jeep restoration project.

1944 GPW

1944 WWII Ford Jeep
S.N. 204333

The Laney family jeep was built by Ford and delivered to the Army on May 29, 1944.  It may have been used on an Army post or National Guard unit somewhere on the west coast, perhaps Fort Lewis. My dad purchased the jeep  on March 12, 1967 for $500 from Billy Swaim of Portland.

ROTC Cadets Laney and Lambert at the U. of O.

For the next four years I drove it during my student days at the University of Oregon. My brothers took over the jeep when I left home and each of them enjoyed driving our family jeep. After they left home my dad stored the jeep for some years and then towed it to my home in Portland where I enjoyed taking my children on jeep rides. But the jeep stopped running and was just taking up space in my garage when I discovered a web site that featured restored military jeeps. That sparked my interest! With the blessing of my wife, I began restoring the vehicle back to its’ original military configuration. I never dreamed what a big project this would be or how much fun I would have working on my jeep. The jeep is “parade ready” and I enjoying driving and showing it to honor the men and women serving in the United States military. 

College days at the University of Oregon
Going topless during the summer
The restoration begins (1997)
Making good progress
Four cylinder Ford engine looking pretty
Students helping me install the tub
Parade ready WWII GPW
Driving my jeep in my WWII officers uniform

Click here to see a video of the restoration of the Laney family jeep. 


The Laney Jeeps

I am the proud owner of two World War II military jeeps which have given me a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure in restoring and driving these vintage vehicles.

I enjoy jeeps because they are the classic trucks used by the American soldiers who fought and defeated the enemy during the Second World War. When I am working on a jeep or driving my restored jeep I feel a sense of patriotic pride in  our armed forces and what American soldiers, sailors and flyers have done to secure and maintain the freedoms we enjoy in this country. When I drive my jeep with my American flag waving, I’m giving a one jeep salute to those who have served and are presently serving our country.

I hope you enjoy looking at my jeeps. And if you come by on a sunny day, I’d be happy to crank her up and give you a ride. Click on the pictures below to learn more about each of my jeeps.



1944 GPW S.N 204333

This 1944 WWII jeep has been in our family since 1967. I drove the jeep during my college days and my wife and I dated in this jeep when it was painted blue and had a white vinyl top. In 1997 I began restoring my jeep to its’ original military configuration. I enjoy driving the jeep in parades to honor our veterans.


1942 MB S.N.107862

After completing the restoration of my Army jeep, I began looking for another project. I found this early WWII slat grill jeep and began a complete restoration in 2003. I finished the project and drove it for the first time on December 31, 2011. I restored it as a Navy Shore Patrol jeep to honor my dad who was a Navy aviator and my son who is a Navy Commander.

About Carl

J. Carl Laney

Family Background

I  was born in the state of Georgia, the first child of Carl and Clyde Laney. When I was two years old our family moved west and I grew up in Eugene, Oregon. It was there at the University of Oregon that I met the love of my life, Nancy Lilly.  We were married a year after graduating from college  and have four grown children and six  grandchildren.

Spiritual Experience

I was raised in a Christian home and expressed my faith in Jesus as a child. But it was not until my student days at the University of Oregon that I entered into a more personal with God. This was due in large part to the influence a fraternity brother, Bill Hansell, who was active with the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. It was the late sixties and a time of radical student activism which included protest marches, demonstrations  and sit-ins.  Everyone was seeking a worthy cause to which to devote their lives.  After much thought and reflection I concluded that the only cause
worthy of lifetime commitment was helping others find peace with God through the Good News of the Bible. It was during my college years that I became a serious minded follower of Jesus. During my junior year at the U. of Oregon I began to sense God’s leading to Christian service and enrolled at Western Seminary after graduating from the University of Oregon.

Personal Interests

Lots of fun catching brook trout in a mountain lake

I enjoy outdoor activities including camping, hiking, fishing, skiing, gardening and canoeing. On a Saturday afternoon you may find me in my garage working on my WWII military jeeps–a 1944 Ford and a 1942 Willys.


Nancy and I graduating from the U. of Oregon (1970)

Educational Background

After graduating from the University of Oregon (B. S. in Public Administration), I enrolled at Western Seminary where I earned my Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Theology (Th.M) degrees.  From Western, I went to Dallas Theological Seminary where I earned my Doctorate of Theology (Th.D).



Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

I have been a Bible teacher at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon since 1977.   I have also served as interim-pastor in a dozen different churches including a Bayview Baptist church on the island of Guam.

I have been privileged to author a number of books, many of which are out of print, but can still be found on or in used book stores. My articles have been published in theological journals and Christian magazines. Some of them can be found on this web site.

My favorite traveling partner, my wife Nancy

My travels have taken me to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. I have spent many summers in Israel studying, teaching and participating in archaeological excavations. I enjoy teaching the Bible classes and specialize in courses dealing with the historical, geographical and cultural backgrounds of the Bible.

Teaching my students in Israel