Thursday, April 25, 2019

You Shall Not Murder

Christians and Jews alike are becoming more intimately aware of the increasing violence in the world around us, our sense of security for ourselves and our loved ones is becoming more compromised each day. Christians are called upon to turn the other cheek, this is an admonition from the Lord for us to endure insults by others rather than becoming angry and striking back in kind. We are enjoined to show the peace and forbearance that the Lord has instilled in us through Jesus Christ as a testimony to those who choose to assail us with insults and vile behavior. However neither Christians or Jews are ever expected to lie down and cower under violent physical abuse and attacks on their lives, or stand by and watch helplessly while someone else is being murdered. The only exception to that would be those whom God has called and given the strength to endure persecution and death for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Although most unbelievers don't read the bible, they are quick to point out that Christians are expected to turn the other cheek rather than respond to their insults in kind. They will insist that God is somehow conflicted by His command to not kill, and they use their limited knowledge of scripture as a bludgeon to attempt to create guilt feelings. 

God allowed for the killing of tens of thousands by Joshua and the Hebrews as they traveled to the Promised Land and later by King David as he protected Israel from the Philistines. The scriptures tell us that God loved David, because David had a shepherd's heart from the time he was a young boy protecting his father's flock from predators. These great men of the bible are examples of how God expects the head of one's household to protect and care for his family, his church or synagogue, his friends and even his neighbors in times of trouble. 

The original Hebrew text of Exodus 20:13 reads as simply as it does in English bibles with striking brevity, however it is not written you shall not kill, which is an intellectually lazy translation, it is written “You shall not murder.” Of the three Hebrew words used in Holy Scripture to describe the loss of life, the one in Exodus 20:13 "lo tirtsah" is used rarely and is much more specific when it is used in reference to “murder.” Murder is not merely the taking of someone’s life but the taking of someone’s life unjustly as in the pre-meditated malevolent murder of Able by his brother Cain. Clearly not all killing is forbidden. There are cases such as self-defense, defense of family and others, a just war and capital punishment, when taking a life is not just permitted but is required.

This is a tough subject and I am writing this to dispel any fears one might have in living up to the responsibility for the safety of those that God has entrusted to your care because we are entering into a time of great trouble. Always keep foremost in mind that there is a vast difference between having to kill to ensure one's safety and that of others, and outright murder, which is a pre-meditated malevolent act and is forbidden by God. May the Lord bless and keep you in the days ahead!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The 14th of April is Palm Sunday

Today, the 14th of April is Palm Sunday, the day we commemorate as the moment when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was greeted by the Jews as their king and Messiah. However within days they were howling and clamoring for his death. It is important to understand the dynamics that led up to this and the sudden turn of events that also led to the crucifixion that followed. The Jews had been promised a Messiah that would come at the right time and deliver them from their oppressors. A warrior king that would utterly destroy their enemies. The thought of One who would die and take away their sin and the significance of generations of blood sacrifices in the temple had completely eluded them. He was famous far and wide for the great miracles He had performed and they hoped that He was the one who would vanquish their oppressors and remove the crushing Roman yoke from their necks without taking into account that God had planned to deliver them first from the yoke of sin and death before returning later as the triumphant avenging Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of King and Lord of Lords. Here is the account of what led up to that momentous event,

Now when Jesus came, he found that Laz′arus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. (John 11:17-19)

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:33-37)

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you hear me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you did send me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Laz′arus, come forth.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:38-44)

It is important to note that the Jewish Pharisees and temple priests were jealous of Jesus and filled with envy and were concerned that he might somehow subvert and destroy their own hold on the people as their religious hierarchy. Their envy became malice as they sought a way to kill him.

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him; but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” But one of them, Ca′iaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to death. (John 11: 45-53)

Martha had struggled with the anxiety brought on by her brother's death. 
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27)