R4E130717 – Ecology by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

1. What’s ecology?
Ecology is a study of the relationships between organisms and the environments in which they live. The earth comprises many ecosystems, each delicately balanced. Over-farming, air pollution, water pollution, over-hunting and so on can have drastic consequences, such as the extinction of species, severe erosion, and dangerous spikes in greenhouse gases.

2. How do humans relate to nature?
Where do we as humans fit into the scheme of things? Genesis 1-2 (esp. 1:26-27, 2:7) indicate our natural origins (“day six” creation along with the other beasts, made from dirt). Yet there is also a divine origin, and humans are tasked with bearing (or being) the divine image. (This is not “speciesism”!) Thus we are in both worlds. We should be honored to be God’s children, yet humbled by our earthly origins.

3. What duties, or obligations, if any, do humans have toward the natural world?
According to Genesis 1:26,28, 2:15; Psalm 8:6; and many other passages, and in line with extensive Judaeo-Christian reflection on passages such as Luke 16:12, 19:17; 1 Corinthians 4:2 we have a responsibility to care for the creation. That is, ecology is part of spirituality. One clear example of ecological responsibility is the Sabbath principle in agriculture (Exodus 23:10; Leviticus 26:34-35; 2 Chronicles 36:21).

4. What about the Green movement?
This does not work if there is no God, or if, as many New Age thinkers opine, we are only part of nature. For in that case what argument could be made that we shouldn’t trash the planet, kill the weak, commit adultery, and so forth? With biblical monotheism there is a warrant for ecology; without it, such talk turns out to be mere smoke of opinion. Either we are only part of nature (like the other animals, and thus without moral responsibility), or we somehow transcend nature, as Scripture says (and thus are responsible for our ethics — environmental, familial, business, sexual, social, etc). This the Green movement falls for short, for it fails to achieve the insight that this is God’s world. (Psalm 104 powerfully attests to this fact.)

5. But isn’t it all going to burn?
Whether or not the fire of 2 Peter 3:10 is taken literally does not matter, since the Lord tells us to care for his creation (now) and to expect — in some sense we can only dimly grasp — a new creation at the end (2 Peter 3:13). Dismissive attitudes like “Our planet will indefinitely renew itself,” or “All I care about is my standard of living, not whether my company poisons the water,” or “Why does it matter, if everything’s gonna burn?” should not be found among those who fear God and believe his word.

6. What’s the vision?
As believers in the scriptures, we should all embrace the biblical vision of a creation released from its “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:18-22).

7. What should we do?

  • Strive to develop ecological sensitivity.
  • Talk about environmental issues.
  • Recycle.
  • Take ownership of the creation. We are not only stewards; in a sense, we are “gardeners.”
  • Don’t litter — ever.
  • Ask your “green” friends why ecology matters if there’s no God, and explain why ecology follows naturally from the mandate of Genesis 1.
  • Appreciate nature: enjoy the great outdoors, read works in the natural sciences, be awed by the creation.
  • Perhaps take a peek at Rolston’s interesting article.

Clashing Worldviews

R4E130715 – Clashing Worldviews by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

Joshua 24:14-15 – decision
Judges 6:28-32 – Asherah pole
Judges 9:13—inferior gods
Judges 16:23-30 – Samson & Dagon
1 Samuel 5:2-7 – Dagon exposed
1 Kings 11:1-8 – Solomon
1 Kings 12:26-33 – Jeroboam’s sin
1 Kings 18:27 – inferior gods
1 Kings 22:4-8 – outnumbered – (1 Kings 18:19)
2 Kings 17:7-41 – dangers of syncretism
2 Kings 23:10 – Molech
2 Chronicles 32:19 – religious relativism
Isaiah 44:6-20 – mockery of idolatry
Jeremiah 2:28 – city-gods
Lamentations 2:14 – false prophets
Ezekiel 8:1-18 – sun god, Tammuz
Daniel 2:11 – inferior gods
Daniel 5:4 – affront to God
John 14:6 – one way
John 18:38 – relativism
Acts 4:12 – one name
Acts 14:11-18 – fickleness
Acts 17:16-34 – “unknown god”
Romans 1:21-23 – classic passage
Romans 2:12-16 – saved by conscience?
1 Thessalonians 1:9 – turn at conversion
1 Timothy 2:4 – God wants all to be saved
Revelation 7:9 – universal vision
Note: My comments are primarily based on the ESV.

Decalogue Study by Douglas Jacoby

The lessons on the 10 Commandments are also cumulative. To learn the most, try to listen to them in order. The Decalogue podcasts are shorter than the Psalms lessons, so occasionally you might want to combine days.

Introduction and definitions

  • Decalogue: The ten words
  • Torah: Law or Instruction (from the Hebrew yarah, meaning to guide). This may refer to the first five books of the Bible, or the law(s) found in them.
  • Pentateuch: The five rolls. The term refers to the first five books of the O.T., Genesis-Deuteronomy.
  • Two greatest commandments: Love God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Neither is in the 10 commandments, and yet it has been noted that the first four commandments pertain to love for God, the last six to love for neighbor.
  • The two tablets (Exodus 31:18, 32:15) are two identical copies of the commandments. This is known from covenant customs in this part of the world (2nd millennium BC)
  • The 10 commandments were delivered the first time at Sinai (Horeb) near the beginning of the desert wanderings. It comes out in a new version near the end of this period (see Deuteronomy 5). Moreover, another “ten commandments” may be found in Exodus 34.


  • First commandment
  • Exodus 20:1-3: And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”


  • LORD = YHWH (Yahweh). YHWH is the Tetragrammaton (Greek for four-letter [thing]). For more on this, refer to the podcast on The Name of God. YHWH appears about 6800 times in the O.T.
  • Lord = Adonai
  • Our Christian lives are rooted in who God is.
  • We obey God not in order to be saved, but because we have already been redeemed.
  • Obedience is not slavery (although it is a kind of yoke — Matthew 11:28-30; see 1 John 5:3 and Deuteronomy 30:11-20); slavery is being in the world (and of it).

Thought questions

  • Through listening to this lesson, is there anything I learned that was completely new?
  • Do I obey out of fear or duty, or out of appreciation for my salvation?
  • Is there anything more important to me than God?
  • Do others know this to be true of me (family, friends, neighbors…)?


R4E130708 – Zombies Walking Dead by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.



  • Ezekiel 37
  • Luke 15
  • Ephesians 2




  1. The zombie scene is not just about survival, but about community and trust and beauty.
  2. We were dead in sins.
  3. In a sense we’re not fully alive until connected with our Creator.
  4. The villains aren’t the zombies. They’re us!

Hebrews Bridge Between The Testaments

R4E130705 – Hebrews Bridge Between The Testaments by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

Bridging books

  • There are several books in the NT that intimate connect with the OT, like Matthew, Colossians, yet
  • The books that best illuminate the gospel in the light of the OT are Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews.


  • The new covenant is superior to the old covenant in every way. (I find 13 points of contrast — see how many you can locate.)
  • Jesus fulfills the Law. Therefore
  • We lose our salvation if we turn our backs on Jesus. Don’t drift back to the old religion (2:1)!

Jesus is not just superior, but supreme

  • PROPHETS — God’s revelation through his Son (1:1-4) means that he is superior to the prophets.
  • ANGELS — Jesus superior to the angels (1:5-2:18). See also Colossians 2:14-3:1.
  • MOSES — Jesus superior to Moses (3:1-19). See also Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
  • JOSHUA — Jesus superior to Joshua (4:1-13)
  • PRIESTHOOD — Jesus superior to the OT priests (4:14-9:14).
    • Superior sacrifice, offered through
    • A superior priesthood — in the order of Melchizedek (Genesis 14, Psalm 110)
      • Combining priest in king
      • King in Zion / Salem (Jerusalem)
      • Bread and wine
      • Superior to Abraham
      • Not Jewish — outside the system


  • Through Hebrews we understand the relationship between the covenants:
    • The first covenant was to be superseded by the other, because,
    • Even though the way of Moses was good (and anticipated, paralleled, and was fulfilled in the way of Christ),
    • The first testament was inferior to the second.
  • Yet the point is not simply that the way of Christ is superior to the law of Moses, but that in every way Jesus Christ is supreme.

Islam Basics

R4E130703 – Islam Basics and Jihad by Douglas Jacoby
1 Islam Basics (Original Study Lesson)
2 Islam Jihad (Original Study Lesson)

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

LESSON 4: ISLAM A (Basics)

  1. 622 AD
  2. Muhammad
  3. Qur’an (Koran) — plus the traditions in the tens of thousands of Hadith, stories and words of Muhammad written down later by his companions.
  4. Indonesia, India, the Middle East, North Africa, and many other nations

The 5 Pillars of Islam

  • Confession
  • Prayer
  • Almsgiving
  • Fasting
  • Pilgrimage

Outreach tips for Muslims

  1. Friendship is of the essence!
  2. Learn about the Qur’an. Read a book on Islam.
  3. Muslims are 22% of the planet; we cannot and must not remain ignorant about their faith. Let’s engage!

    LESSON 5: ISLAM B (Jihad)

    • Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  – Luke 23:34
    • “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out.” -Q 2:191
    • “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:39
    • “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.” -Q 8:12
    • “For he who insults you [Muhammad] will be cut off.” -Q 108:3
    • “Killing disbelievers is a small matter to us.” -Tabari IX.69
    • “Love your enemies and pray those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44

    Outreach tips for Muslims in the light of Jihad

    1. Check your sources. Don’t believe everything you hear.
    2. Always remember: Jesus forbade his followers to respond in kind. Please get a copy of Jesus & Islam if you have not already read this book (written by a Christian and a former Muslim).
    3. Only a small percentage of Muslims are radically politicized. Keep this in mind.
    4. Political Islam is little different to political Christianity. The way of force, violence, compulsion, is at completely at odds with what Jesus Christ taught, and how he lived.
    5. Latch on to the true nature of jihad: striving. While Christianity forbids holy war, we do know something about the struggle to master one’s desires, to shoulder the Cross daily.
    6. Allah is not the God of the Bible. He is majestically distant, remote, impersonal — so different to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    7. One is not made right with God by sincerity. “Better a weak faith in a strong bridge than a strong faith in a weak bridge.” That is, sincerity does create truth.

Pontius Pilate

R4E130701 – Pontius Pilate New Testament Character Study by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

The man

  • A Roman, quite possibly Italian.
  • Governor / prefect of Judea 26-36 AD.
  • We can build a composite picture from the N.T., several extrabiblical references, and even archaeology:
    • Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 3,13, 23; Acts 3, 4. 13; John 18, 19; [1 Tim 6].
    • The writings of Philo (Embassy to Gaius), Josephus (Jewish War and History of the Jews), and Tacitus (Annals).
    • Pilate stone, found in Caesarea Maritima in 1961. Dedication stone to the emperor Tiberius (r. 14-37 AD) had been recycled as part of the Roman theater. Judea was governed by a prefect; this was changed to procurator starting 44 AD. The Bible uses the correct terms– a testament to its authenticity.
  • Matthew 27:11-14,18,19,23-24,26; John 18:28-38; John 19:18-22.


Political history

  • Protege of Sejanus, head of the Praetorian Guard.
  • Member of the Equestrian class.
  • Tasked with keeping the peace; collect taxes; governing the distant Syria (including Judea).
  • Insensitive actions
    • Soldiers carried idolatrous images into Jerusalem — protests.
    • Temple money spent on aqueduct: soldiers in crowd at Pilate ‘s signal turned on them beating killing.
    • Samaritans planning to go up Mt. Gerizim to see alleged Mosaic items — massacred en route.
  • Recalled to Rome, but by the time he’d arrived the emperor had died (37 AD).
  • Luke 13:1 fits well with what is known about Pilate from the extrabiblical sources.
  • Late legend that the emperor Caligula (37-41 AD) ordered him to commit suicide.


  • A politician (but not in the sense of wooing voters — the emperor could remove him).
  • Roman: practical man, doing what was expedient.
  • Still, seems to have been in two minds about how to deal with Jesus. A picture emerges of a man who was unsure how to conduct himself, inconsistently overbearing or, at other times detached.
  • Insensitive to those among whom he served.
  • Brutal (e.g, bribery and executions without trial).

Multiple chances to respond in faith

  • Interview with Jesus (e.g. John 18).
  • The dream of Claudia.
  • The baseless charges of the Jewish leadership.
  • 6 years of Christianity before his recall to Rome!
  • Some late legends that Pilate became a Christian, but this is highly unlikely. It is unthinkable that the gospels would not have recorded such extraordinary news! It is also implausible given his vacillating and cruel character.

Lessons for us

  • Take responsibility for our actions. Some decisions are impossible to distance ourselves from.
  • Politics is messy, and often requires moral compromises for the good of the state.
  • Don’t ignore your wife’s counsel!
  • Don’t jump to the conclusion that God hasn’t been giving people chances to respond to the truth, or that he is unfair. He is at work in every life (Acts 17); he has forgotten no one.