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!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Destruction Of Western Civilization

The world watched in horror as Notre Dame, one of the most famous Christian cathedrals in the Western World went up in flames. This is not an isolated event as churches are burnt and desecrated and the persecution of Jews and Christians has increased throughout the world, perpetrated by the brutal savagery and hatred of Muslim Jihadists. This travesty is also augmented by the religion of secular humanism across Europe and in the United States that has been torching the fundamental values of Western Civilization and of Judeo-Christian Civilization for decades. Will the fundamental belief that all human beings are made in the image of God, from the moment of conception until their final breath ever be restored again?

The United States was founded on the belief that freedom and liberty comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and has brought more opportunity and freedom than any civilization in the history of the world. The Western World is not only abandoning history, but is destroying the future by failing to instill these building blocks of civilization into the hearts and minds of children. The decline of the West is due in part to the fact that there are barbarians inside the gates and that mankind has been looking away from God.

Jesus told His followers, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

Jesus also included this warning, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. (Matthew 5: 13)

It doesn't take any imagination to understand that the light of the once vibrant Christianity of the entire Western World has been waning for some time as many have run after other gods and different beliefs, chasing after wealth and pleasure, taking on a hedonistic lifestyle couched in the religion of Secular Humanism, whereby the love of God is replaced by love of Self.

"When the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished." (Dan 12)

The prophet Daniel was visited by a being from God with an apocalyptic message and the previous warning, it appears that what he was referring to is happening! What is the power of the holy people? 
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) 
The belief and acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power and it is what makes people holy in God's sight. Sadly many are refusing and have run away from the truth and accepted lies, and as they trample on the faith of believers, many of whom have shrunk away, the light on the hill has lost it's brightness and the salt has lost it's saltness. In essence the shattering is ongoing and when it comes to an end what are the things being referred to that will be accomplished?

Jesus spoke of this to his apostles, he was speaking of the end of the age; “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24: 9-14)

Back now to the prophesy of Daniel; “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:1-5)

In light of all this the following admonition from Jesus makes more sense than it may have in the recent past, maintaining one's faith during times of extreme persecution does seem hard, especially to a society that has endured very little hardship; 
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14)

The good news is this; "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-13)

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)