Category Archives: The Meaning of Life

Simon, A Tanner

Who is Simon? What is a tanner?

And what does it possibly have to do with life in the 21st century?

I’m glad you asked. Walk with me through the halls of ancient history and discover valuable lessons and observations that will help you navigate through life’s mysteries today.

There are two scripture (Bible) verses about Simon, a tanner, and to all appearances, they pertain to the same time period – one event.

In Acts 9:43, we find these words about the Apostle Peter: “And it came to pass that he (Peter) tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon, a tanner.”

Then in Acts 10:6, which seems to be a short time after, God instructed Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian band, to seek out Peter.  Cornelius was a man who worshipped God. Many men sought after God’s direction who were not Jews.

Cornelius was told by God to seek out a man called Simon, in Joppa (city), and there he, Cornelius, would find Peter.

So in Acts 10:6, we find the following:

(He), Peter lodgeth with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea side; He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

So – what does this mean? The Bible verse seems to be telling us that Peter has a message for Cornelius. And Cornelius is directed to where Peter is. Is there any significance here concerning Simon the tanner? Yes, indeed!!

Who was Simon, anyway, and what was this all about? 

Now this Simon was a tanner by trade. A tanner was a tradesman who processed animal hides, treated them, and made them into leather. We all know about leather. Today we highly prize articles crafted from leather. We have leather boots, sandals, wallets and purses, and many items of utility in addition to apparel, shoes and personal items. Leather boots remain very popular today, although rather expensive. Leather as a finished product is beautiful, pliable and more durable than many other materials in use today.

Let’s now dig into the treasures beneath the surface of these two brief references of Scripture.

Simon was evidently a follower of God, a Christian (Christ-follower), and he had a successful trade. He dwelt by the seaside.

Why there? Because the foul odor of his trade made Simon (and every other tanner of hides) quite unwelcome anywhere in the city.  By the sea, most of the odor from Simon’s trade would be carried out to sea and dissipated.  Simon was not welcome anywhere in the city. I’m not blaming anyone for that, these were just the facts in those old days.

What can be said about Simon and his trade? His product resulted in good.

      His work was rather thankless and dirty, but the end result was exceptionally useful and highly prized. 

Now, compare Simon as a Christian and God-follower to those of like faith today. The odor of a Christian (meaning the beliefs of the Christian) in today’s society often makes us, the believers, unwelcome in the halls of science, politics, government or philosophy. Out bodies, as believers, do not stink, but our dearly held beliefs certainly stink in the eyes of many.

The weak Christian who says or does little to disrupt the elitist, humanist philosophers of society, the promoters of authoritarian government, are not so likely to be despised as the committed Christian. In their eyes, better that we be neither seen nor heard!

So, we Christians are “Simon the Tanners” in the eyes of the Left – Socialists, Communists, Marxists, and radicals of all stripes.

You may be wondering, just how, in detail, are Christians of today thought of and treated by those who don’t believe as we do? I’m speaking here of committed believers, and even more so about conservative and Constitution-loving Christians.

Why are we hated by the left? Those who aim (even as we speak) to enslave us, along with anyone who disagrees with them?

I propose that those who do NOT believe in radicalism, socialism, communism, etc. are the “TRUE” Simon the Tanners of today.

If You Could Look Through Their Worldview Lens…

We are considered to be dumb and ignorant and incapable of governing ourselves.

We are the smelly Wal-Mart people, the “basket of Deplorables” (Hillary Clinton says). There is no hope for us, because the only people who can rule us (they say) are the people of “science,” understanding, leadership and intelligence (all defined to promote only themselves and their views of the world).

They say the rest of society doesn’t have any of these skills and qualities, so they are incapable  of understanding and knowing what is good for them.

In other words, “You all are dumb sheep!”

A Recurring Biblical Theme? 

I can take you through dozens and dozens of Bible illustrations that mirror Simon the Tanner!

If you miss them, you will miss the many ways in which God operates, and the many lessons in life that you could learn from them to apply to your NOW.

Simon’s Attitude

I don’t see any evidence that Simon the Tanner whined and howled about where he had to live and conduct his trade. I see nothing except his welcoming of the Apostle Peter, who was certainly about the business of God and the spreading of the Gospel.

Simon evidently trusted in God.  He was to tell Peter what to do next.

Note that God didn’t tell a KING to give His message to Peter. He told a TRADESMAN – a man whose very trade was despised by the city people.

David’s Dad

Do you remember Jesse, the father of David? He had 8 sons.

David, the youngest, was assigned the lowest position possible, a shepherd of sheep.  Shepherding was considered (although essential) to be the lowest of the low as far as career paths go. When Samuel, the prophet, came to anoint one of the boys to be the King over Israel, Jesse didn’t even bother to call David from the field! It was only after Samuel asked if he had any more sons, that David was brought before him.  And the rest (as they say) is history!

Now the question is – did any of David’s brothers get to be a King, or ascend to any other position of great importance? If so, the Bible doesn’t record it.

But David’s great faithfulness in doing the task before him with excellence, while loving his sheep and his God, literally promoted him to a Kingship that is considered by many to be the most distinguished in the history of the world!

Job Description of a Shepherd: Would You Apply?

There are many factors involved in caring for sheep that few know about or would even consider (After all, I highly doubt you’ve seen a job advertisement for a shepherd with an enticing benefits package).

Those who kept sheep in the old Bible days, walked with the sheep, slept beside the sheep, were in pastures with the sheep (whether good or bad pastures). And I’m told that shepherds also smelled like the sheep. Literally.

And yet there are still other reasons to downgrade the lowly shepherds of the Bible. They endured heat and cold, they chased after sheep that wandered around aimlessly at times, and had to have the shepherd’s hand of protection lest they get lost and become victims of wolves, bears and lions. David killed his share of ravenous, vicious animals who intended to fleece him of his flock!

Shepherds were not only looked down upon; they often didn’t even have proper home care or even a home environment most of the time. Today, their jobs would be classified as “dirty jobs.”

Are You Unwelcome? Misunderstood?

I believe, quite sadly, that many Christians, as well as those who may not yet be believers in Christ, are living in a world where their beliefs and actions in regards to their fellowman are not welcomed. Their actions are often misunderstood, because too many people live selfish lives.  They fail to recognize truth and those who speak truth.

Of course, we are discovering that many do not want to understand any belief other than their own (even if their belief is authoritarian and makes slaves of all but the ruling elite).

                                 God often conducts His business and His desires for mankind                                           through people of lowly station in this earthly life. 

He does not always trust those with the importance of Kings, etc. God looks on the heart, not the position or the degree. He sees who can be trusted with His plan. His business is entrusted to those who love Him and follow Him.

Are you one of life’s “lowlies?”

You may not be a Simon the Tanner or a Lowly Shepherd Boy, or an overlooked member of society.

But are you reliable and faithful?

If you are, God can use you – perhaps to accomplish great things for His kingdom!

LIFE’S QUESTIONS

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I sincerely believe that in many circumstances of life, and in many considerations, some of the age-old questions still remain, largely unanswered.

As far as mankind is concerned, someone has posed old but unanswered questions about everyone’s earthly life:

Who am I?

Where did I come from?

Why am I here?

Where am I going?

I believe these are very fair questions, and the answers, lived out in each of our daily lives, will determine our destiny.

I certainly believe that philosophers and students, as well as many concerned people, have pondered these questions, and have tried to find the answers.

First of all, “Who am I?” Well, you are a man or a woman; of whatever age you choose to be. Are you like the animals, which have good instincts, but limited reasoning power? Proper reasoning would say, “No!” Animals have instincts (automatic actions); men and women have the power of thought. So man is above the animals in brain power. But who is man—who created him or caused him to be? It would have to be someone, or some force that is superior to man.

Science has shown that evolution from a one-celled being or animal is, at best, an unbelievable possibility. It takes intelligence to create a being of intelligence. Could it be an intelligent creator, seeking to create a being that could relate to him?

The next question is really tied in very closely with the first. If we say we can’t tell, and thus we don’t know who or what created us as human beings—then we really cannot say who we are.

Now we are not talking about the sexual process of conception and birth, of whatever species we are considering.

By what or by whose hand are we allowed to be born? (come into existence?) Who gave us the power to produce sons and daughters? It certainly cannot be a product of our own will!

No—by all powers of reason, man could only have been created by a superior being, and the bible tells us that this is God.

Now if you disagree with this reasoning, explain to me how man came to be, and woman also. You will, of course, have much explaining to do, and it must make sense.

Then, let’s go on. Why am I here?

Do you, Do I, Does any man or woman, have any purpose for being on earth, for being born? This goes beyond saying I’m here in Ohio, or Oklahoma, or another country. This means, why am I alive, and on earth, somewhere?

Is there any purpose for anyone’s life on earth? What about your life, friend? Is it important enough that you, or I, should be here, and be part of society, or is mankind, and every person here, for no purpose? Science itself has a purpose, as simple or as complex as that may be.

Isn’t it depressing and disheartening to assume that all of life, humanly speaking, is an accident—that it has no meaning, no purpose, and no relevance to anything? People who think this way are criminals, rapists, murderers or worse. Do we think of ourselves this way? I hope not!!

No, it really makes no sense to think that all people and all life as accidental and worthless. Instead, it makes perfect sense to think that there is a God in heaven, an intelligent being, a creator, and a caring and loving spiritual person—a person interested in connecting with us, interested in receiving glory from our lives and our accomplishments. Otherwise, all life, all accomplishments, all relationships are worthless, accidental and without meaning.

I am reminded of an old gospel tract, which I imagine has been out of print for many years. The title is, “Suppose it is True After All — What Then?” I still remember that this gospel tract was colored orange and white, very provocative-looking and nicely designed.

The tract, on the inside, had this message: suppose it is true, after all—that there IS a God in heaven, an all-seeing, super-intelligent being who created man in his own image, and gave him status and opportunity on the earth. Suppose that this God, this superior being hoped that man might bring glory to His Creator, would love Him and obey Him.

This, I firmly believe was God’s expectation, His hope, His purpose for man, and mankind. But wait!!! There is more! Suppose that man does not always do what is right. Suppose he doesn’t completely understand what is right. Suppose he makes mistakes, some on purpose, some mistakes the result of poor choices. Man is certainly not perfect, as God is perfect.

And to make our situation a bit more complicated, shouldn’t we be aware that God, a super-intelligent being, would be aware that man would often fail, often disappoint his God, often cause God distress? I believe we can assume that quite readily.

So we have a perfect creator, and an imperfect created being (many, many of these). How can this situation be resolved?

We find, as we study God’s Word, The Bible, thoroughly, we discover that from the beginning of man’s creation, man had a free will. God gave him a free will, the ability to choose, to sift circumstances for the truth.

There are those who say that man does not have a free will—these people have not studied nor observed the history of man. I can point to Adam and Eve and quickly disprove such a notion. And throughout the history of men and women, I can show you that man has a free will.

We all can easily, or should easily accept that, because we have law abiding people and we have criminals—murderers, rapists, robbers, kidnappers, sexual perverts, etc.—no one can prove that the free will of man is not involved in these things. Man has a choice in his behavior.

Why did God ever give man a free will? Wouldn’t it be better if man were programmed so that he couldn’t do wrong? I believe that the Bible clearly indicates that God wanted man to have a free will and to love and obey Him rather than to be a robot in his being. What would be of glory to God, except man’s love towards God, and his obedience to God?

Now, let us proceed to the last question of our inquiry—Where am I going? (Where is man going?)

God has definitely indicated in His Word, that there is a life after death. Scripture after Scripture declares this. And since God, The Creator, has made provision for all men—let’s look at this.

God has clearly told us that there is an eternal consequence for sin (wrongdoing of any kind). Ezekiel 18:4 – “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And further, Romans 3:23 -“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

God has also told us, in His Word, that there is a way out of our sin problem—Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at sundry (many) times and in divers manners (many ways) spoke in time past unto the fathers by (by means of) the prophets—has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, in whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whose authority also he made the worlds.

Jesus Christ, The Son, came to earth, born in a miraculous way, grew up as a man (but He was the God-man), taught the people, healed many, and offered all—to all people—eternal life, by believing in Jesus and calling upon God to forgive sins and to provide us a home in heaven, and everlasting life.

For the sake of time, I will list several verses of Scripture which illustrate and prove these points: John 3:16; John 3:18; John 3:36; Romans 5:8; and Romans 5:1.

The sin problem is dealt with by our receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and sin-bearer. He died on the cross in our place, bearing our sins, and thus, satisfying God, that our sins were covered by the very person we had sinned against. The only one who can forgive sins is THE One whom we have sinned against.

So the question: “Where am I going?” (meaning through life and beyond earthly life), has been answered by God Himself, in John 3:36. We have great words and hope for the saved—he that believeth on The Son has everlasting life, God abideth in him.

Heaven, the after life for the forgiven sinner, could never accept those who have never received Jesus Christ as Savior. – Why?

Because they remain in their sin and disobedience, and have not received the free gift of eternal life. Their destiny is settled by their own free will and choice. God, in the person of God The Father, and God The Son, cannot and never will force a decision upon man. The free will of man does not allow it.

God, in His plan, takes the free will He has given man, offers man the solution to his sin and shortcomings, and guarantees man’s forgiveness and a home in heaven when the earthly life is over.

Friend, where are you going? What have you done with your sin, and with God’s most incredible offer of forgiveness and eternal life?

The gift is there, the offer is there, Jesus is there to receive and cleanse any and all who call upon Him—receive Jesus as sin-bearer and as Lord—while you have earthly life (see Romans 10:9 and 10:13). Be saved and rejoice forevermore.