Ethiopian Proselyte

Mostly this story of Philip instructing an Ethiopian is titled “The Ethiopian Eunuch.” It’s clear, as Pastor Lloyd-Jones explains, that this man has just come from pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and is a Jewish Proselyte. On his way home, this man comes to terms with the next step in his conversion from paganism; salvation in Messiah Yeshua.

What is so significant about the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26–31? This is an interesting story of how God, in His providence, arranges for Philip to meet this man and share the message of Jesus with him. It also shows that even the religious must repent and believe in the gospel as the only means of salvation. This Ethiopian man went to the temple in Jerusalem to worship, yet he had not received the Holy Spirit. He knew of the sacrifices in the temple, but not of the sacrifice of Christ. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that only a religion that is based on and focused on Christ can have any saving power. Only true religion gives any satisfaction in this life. Many people fill their lives with worldly wisdom and vain religion, but the gospel tells that all is for nothing if one does not have Christ. This sermon asks one the question: “what religion do I have? Am I following a dead religion that has no power to save and transform me?” All must turn to Christ Jesus as the only true center of true religion and worship.

-Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust

LORD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

Celebrate the Ten Commandments

The Feast of Shavuot is celebrated after eagerly counting 49 days from the second day of Passover. So, it has been seven weeks since Passover, and we commemorate the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai beginning the 50th day. Remember 50th day.

Shavuot-2016“On the 6th Sivan of the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), seven weeks after the Exodus, G-d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai. The entire people of Israel (600,000 heads of households and their families), as well as the souls of all future generations of Jews, heard G-d declare the first two of the Ten Commandmentsand witnessed G-d’s communication of the other eight through Moses. Following the revelation, Moses ascended the mountain for 40 days, to receive the remainder of the Torah from G-d.” — (click here)

And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
—Exodus 20:1-11

The Christian Church celebrates this Feast as Pentecost, and marks its dates beginning with its Easter celebration counting forward fifty days.

“Pentecost, i. e., “fiftieth”, found only in the New Testament (Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8). The festival so named is first spoken of in Ex. 23:16 as “the feast of harvest,” and again in Ex. 34:22 as “the day of the firstfruits” (Num. 28:26). From the sixteenth of the month of Nisan (the second day of the Passover), seven complete weeks, i. e., forty- nine days, were to be reckoned, and this feast was held on the fiftieth day. The manner in which it was to be kept is described in Lev. 23:15- 19; Num. 28:27- 29. Besides the sacrifices prescribed for the occasion, every one was to bring to the Lord his “tribute of a free- will offering” (Deut. 16:9- 11). The purpose of this feast was to commemorate the completion of the grain harvest. Its distinguishing feature was the offering of “two leavened loaves” made from the new corn of the completed harvest, which, with two lambs, were waved before the Lord as a thank offering.

“The day of Pentecost is noted in the Christian Church as the day on which the Spirit descended upon the apostles, and on which, under Peter’s preaching, so many thousands were converted in Jerusalem (Acts 2).” — Easton’s Bible Dictionary.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. — Acts 2:1-4

The Feast of Shavuot and Pentecost are one in the same. When G-d gave the Torah to His people on Mount Sinai, it foreshadowed the Giving of His Spirit in the Upper Room in Jerusalem about 1330 years later. On Mount Sinai, the Law was given to G-d’s Chosen. In Jerusalem, the Law was placed within G-d’s chosen. It has often struck me that we can cry out to our Father in Heaven, saying something like “Just tell me what You want me to do!” and walk away unable to do it. We need more. G-d knew it from the beginning, but He, in His wisdom, allowed us to discover our need. So now, G-d invests Himself in us, that we may live out His commandment, His Laws. G-d writes His Torah on our hearts.

Numbers-6-24-26 - 1

Exploring our Roots

avatar227Calvin-and-Hobbes“Where do you come from?” is a great questions. A boy of five or so came home from school and asked his mom, “Where did I come from, Mom?” The mother, though prepared for this moment, dreaded it, but began the long tale of the “Birds and the Bees.” An hour later, her son was well versed on conception and birth, on how babies get to be, well, babies. His only response was something like, “Oh,” followed with, “Jack said he came from Erie, Pennsylvania.”

As we see here, there are a couple ways to look at the question, “Where do you come from?” The mom thought of a biological response. The boy thought of a geographical response. If I ask you, as a Christian, what you believe, you might answer that you believe in Jesus,  that Jesus is the Son of G-d. Right you are. We look at Jesus as the Son of G-d, as our Savior, as our Lord. Jesus is also the Son of Man. The other side of the Spiritual is the contextual: Jesus as a young Jewish man, raised in a Jewish home, in a Jewish town, in a Jewish country under domination by the Roman Empire.

That’s why I use the term Y’shuaJesus. Our Christian roots are also the roots of Y’shuaJesus as the Son of G-d AND the Son of Man.

So, I want to introduce you to a website I found this morning that I think valuable in understanding our common roots in Judaism; our Hebrew Roots.

Please take a look at: Hebrew for Christians.

It’s more than the study of Hebrew as a Biblical language. As stated on the home page, Hebrew for Christians “provides information about common Hebrew blessings and Jewish prayers, the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh), the Jewish holidays, and weekly Torah portions from a Messianic point of view. The Hebrew Names of God, as well as an online glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms is also provided. Be sure to check out the online store for some excellent study materials!”

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 4:24-26

Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed, adopted in the First Ecumenical Council in 325, has changed little over all these years. The following is from the Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer (1979).

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

“You don’t want to go away too, do you?”

The Gospel of John. Standing with Psalms, Jonah, and Hebrews, it is one of my favorite Books of the Bible. According to the introduction in my Apologetics Study Bible, it was written directly to Believing Jews, who at the time were being driven from the synagogues and needed encouragement that they’d made the right choice in believing in Y’shuaJesus as Messiah. The Gospel also provided “ammunition” to evangelize Jews. The Book has a “unique writing style that, like the author’s selection of content and themes, differs noticeably” from the other three Gospels, according to this introduction. This is perfectly acceptable, as the author would have “written his account of what others said in his own distinctive style, being faithful to their meaning if not to their exact wording. His sense of being led by the Holy Spirit would have given him the freedom to couch things in his own words, believing he was being faithful to history at the same time.”

The Book of John declares up front that Y’shuaJesus is The Word, The Word that was with G-d, was G-D. . . John the Baptist tells us that “He is the one Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” John 1:33. Nathanael blurts out, “Rabbi, You are the Son of G-d! You are the King of Israel!” John 1:49. We are taken to a wedding in which Y’shuaJesus gives us His first sign backing up the Gospel’s declaration of Y’shuaJesus as Messiah: water becomes wine. John 2:11. This Gospel then takes us, along with other disciples, on a journey during which we see Y’shuaJesus challenging traditions, people’s conventional wisdom, and the religious leaders of the day. We see Y’shuaJesus “cleansing the temple.” “Get these things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” John 2:16. A Pharisee, Nicodemus, comes to Y’shuaJesus by night and confesses that G-d is with Y’shuaJesus, to which Y’shuaJesus replies that we must be “born again.” “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of G-d,” says Y’shuaJesus. John 3:5. We are amazed that Y’shuaJesus speaks to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. John 4:27. We experience the second and third sign in the healing of an official’s son and the healing at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. John 4:46, 5:8. We are feed along the shore of the Sea of Galileea, along with 5,000 others, from five loaves of bread and two fish, the fourth sign. John 6:9. We are with the twelve disciples for fifth sign confirming Y’shuaJesus as He walks on water. John 6:20.

It is after Y’shuaJesus fed the 5,000 then escaped to the other side of the sea, that we begin to understand that not all follow Him for His teachings and wisdom. “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled,” Y’shuaJesus tells the people after they find Him. It is at this point that Y’shuaJesus begins to provoke these followers, perhaps to drive away those he don’t truly believe. They want bread, and more signs. He tells them that His Father gives them real Bread from Heaven, and that He is the Bread of Life. John 6:35. They aren’t satisfied, and complain that Y’shuaJesus is only the son of Joseph and that they know His father and mother. And Y’shuaJesus presses onward, “I assure you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves.” John 6:53. “Therefore, when many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?” John 6:60. It was after this that many of Y’shuaJesus’s “disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him.” John 6:66.

But wait, why is Y’shuaJesus being so hard? It’s not a very civil thing to do, is it? It is driving away people. There might be repercussions, like lost revenues and prestige. What happened to the gentle baby Who lay in the manger? Didn’t Y’shuaJesus come to bring peace on Earth?

There’s a story of a home church service in a country where it’s illegal to have church. [Yes, 53 nations restrict Gospel preaching.] During the service, a soldier enters with a weapon and says to the gathered, “Everyone who believes in this Jesus, stand up.” A handful of people do so. The soldier then tells the others to leave quickly. When only the handful, a remnant, who stood for Jesus are left, he says, “Okay. Now let Praise the LORD!”

Well, okay, we don’t do that sort of thing. We are too civilized. We invite everyone in to our well-appointed, comfortable churches. We don’t ask for loyalty oaths or any sort of pledge of allegiance. We say, “All who enter are welcome.” We want the unbelievers in our churches to hear the Word of G-d spoken, so that they might come to believe, too. And there’s a parable about such mixing, too. About the weeds among the wheat. And most of all, we want peace. We just don’t want conflict anymore.

But conflict is going to be there for us, regardless of what we want. Conflict and persecution and all the rest of the toils of living in a world spoiled by sin, corruption. The world is a beautiful place, nonetheless, it’s tainted with evil.

And so it is that Y’shuaJesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter- in- law against her mother- in- law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39. [emphasis added]

“Ours isn’t to reason why, ours is to do and die.” We must be tried, and we must be proven. We must love the LORD more than anyone or anything. We must follow our LORD.

Writing about Matthew 10:34, Yves I-Bing Cheng, M.D., M.A., wrote: “The Lord Jesus. . .did not come to change the social structure of this world. He did not come to bring a social peace to a world that is living in sin and in disobedience to God.”

At the manger, the night Y’shuaJesus was born there was a “multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” Luke 2:13. [emphasis added] The Peace of the LORD is given, not to the entire population of Earth, but to those with whom the Lord is pleased. This peace is not necessarily an external peace that is free from trials and various burdens including disease. It is, however, a Peace that is Spiritual, a balm that heals our soul. What we need to remember, always, is that Y’shuaJesus asks, “Do you want to go away as well?” We must answer as Peter did, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine . . .

Can’t Believe it’s Spring Already

The past four months of my inactivity on JonahzSong was unplanned. As the winter holiday schedule became hectic–kids and wife home, things to do, places to go, people to see, et cetera–I thought, “I’ll start back up on January First.” That day came quickly. . . and went. Then February and March and finally I aimed for April First, which didn’t happen either. Oh, well. . .

One thing I did do is to start back on a regiment of exercise. Mostly I’ve been riding a stationary, recumbent bicycle, which I’ve enjoyed. It’s different than a normal, upright bike. My legs got immediately back in the groove–muscle memory built from years of bicycle riding and touring. A lot of folks at the gym listen to music while they ride or run. I started listening to podcasts. I found a great one from Israel National Radio that is a talk show, Life Lessons with Judy Simon.  She researches a subject, then thoroughly introduces it prior to bringing in people to interview.

The other thing I’ve been up to is a lot more reading. In addition to the Bible and various commentaries, I’ve read a lot more fiction. Detective novels and science fiction. Some good, some very good, some excellent. And I’ve spent some time with a story I began a few years ago. It’s still not finished, but I have a better understanding of where it’s going. Guide Gold tells the story of a man that discovers his wife really doesn’t know him at all. The deeper theme is one of failure and redemption.

Hummmmm. Failure and redemption. That’s the theme of all our lives, isn’t it? Yesterday we were suppose to be celebrating the only real redemption there is: redemption from death as demonstrated by the resurrection of Y’shuaJesus.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

Here’s what Matthew Henry wrote about Luke 24:1-12: “See the affection and respect the women showed to Christ, after he was dead and buried. Observe their surprise when they found the stone rolled away, and the grave empty. Christians often perplex themselves about that with which they should comfort and encourage themselves. They look rather to find their Master in his grave- clothes, than angels in their shining garments. The angels assure them that he is risen from the dead; is risen by his own power. These angels from heaven bring not any new gospel, but remind the women of Christ’s words, and teach them how to apply them. We may wonder that these disciples, who believed Jesus to be the Son of God and the true Messiah, who had been so often told that he must die, and rise again, and then enter into his glory, who had seen him more than once raise the dead, yet should be so backward to believe his raising himself. But all our mistakes in religion spring from ignorance or forgetfulness of the words Christ has spoken. Peter now ran to the sepulchre, who so lately ran from his Master. He was amazed. There are many things puzzling and perplexing to us, which would be plain and profitable, if we rightly understood the words of Christ.”

We fail. We fail in our lives simply because we forget. Muscles don’t forget, but they do get out of use. My muscles didn’t forget how they work the pedals of a bike using my ankles to add spin. They were out of practice, though, which is why a daily workout is necessary to maintain their optimum abilities. It’s like that with our life in Messiah. While listening to what others have to say is nice, we can be led astray too easily in these days of deceptive practices within the Church. We need daily a refresher, a reminder of the Lord’s Words.

From the five books of Moshe (Moses) to the writings of the minor and major prophets, and of the disciples themselves, we are shown how to listen to and how to live at peace with G-d. It is through the the scriptures that we come to understand our place in Y’shuaJesus. We must, as Matthew Henry put it, “rightly understand the words of Christ.” Then we avoid the pitfalls of misunderstandings, we stay out of petty disagreements, we see snares before being caught up in them. It’s the Words in Red, the Words of Y’shuaJesus, and it’s the whole of the Bible that we delve into, with prayerful consideration, from which we will grow and live gainfully in Messiah.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

Noah: Preacher of Righteousness or Survivalist/Doomsday Prepper

A recent post on From the Lighthouse talks of a new movie Noah:
“A new Hollywood epic on the life of Noah has stirred controversy among Christians, Jews and others who have pre-screened the film, as they state that the movie largely leaves out one important foundation: the Bible.

Noah-300x153“Noah is the brainchild of producer Darren Aronofsky, who says that he has wanted to make a film about Noah and the ark since his childhood. With a $125 million budget, the film is said to be more of an edgy action epic that depicts a man who fights off his enemies as he prepares for a coming apocalypse, rather than a story of a “preacher of righteousness” who calls the world to repentance from sin.

“Russell Crowe, known for his roles in Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind and Robin Hood stars as Noah in the film, and Anthony Hopkins, known for his roles in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and The Legends of the Fall appears as grandfather Methuselah, who provides advice to Noah.

“Man corrupted this world and filled it with violence, so he must be destroyed,” Methuselah explains to Noah, who has a dream of “death by water.”

The remainder of the article is available on the Christian News Network website.

Okay, so here’s the thing: I’ve looked at the trailer and frankly it’s appealing to me as movies go. But then I like apocalyptic movies. I sorta think they’re glimpses of possible realities.

The movie critic complains the movie producer Darren Aronofsky didn’t use the Bible in the story. Well, Mr. Aronofsky used the idea of a man named Noah and a flood that destroys wicked people. Hummmmmmmm! So a movie is made as a fictional account of a Biblical person and a Biblical event and that account isn’t what the author of the article seems to think it should be. That’s the problem with the movie; it doesn’t fit the idea the critic has of Noah. As I understand it, the author says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. This seems to me to mean that the critic wants Noah to stand around preaching the Gospel of Righteousness to a people who were only doing evil because they were uninformed of the truth. The critic seems to think there is something inherently wrong with preparing for the flood. Wait. Am I missing something here. Wasn’t Noah instructed to build an ark? What part of building an ark to house his family is Noah doing that isn’t preparing for a coming disaster of epic proportions?

In the trailer, we see Noah facing angry hordes that want nothing more than to take the boat, even if they swamp it trying. After all, the hordes don’t just stand around and say, “Oh, we’ve been bad. We deserve to drown.” Why is that so controversial? Oh, sure, the Bible didn’t go into great specifics about the flash mob at Noah’s boat as the rain came pouring down. Here the foundation for the epic flood, from the Bible:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Genesis chapter six

The idea that Noah was a preacher of righteousness comes from the Apostle Peter when he wrote: “. . .”if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly. . .” 2Peter 2:5.

The movie critic spoke of people critical of the movie wanting it to be more scriptural, and the movie has been assailed as not being a Christian movie. Okay. Was Sound of Music a Christian movie? Look, just because a movie gives a fictional account Noah, why does it have to have the approval of Christians? And even if some producer said he wanted Christian input and approval, to whom would he go? There is no single Christian church on Earth at this time. Had Mr. Aronofsky said he was making a scriptural account of Noah, perhaps he’d ask for assistance from a major Christian denomination in America. Perhaps it would be the same denomination that approves of marriage between two men or marriage between two women, or practicing homosexuals as church leaders.

I think the controversy comes from our “feel good” world of the Twenty-First Century. We are led to belief that G-d wants nothing more than for us to feel good about ourselves. As such, we must see G-d in our “feel good” image. G-d is put into a box, contained. We perceive of Him as a peacenik without the flowers in His hair. In this case, I think the movie critics wants Noah to preach Peace and Love and throw flowers to that poor, misunderstood mass of humanity.

Other critics of the movie say it’s just another environmental-disaster movie that is part of a whole agenda that wants the mass of humanity to be scared of the way the Earth has been treated, and that the Earth is somehow trying to overthrow its caretaker, namely humans. In this light, Hollywood is supporting the propaganda of the “Green Movement.” This theme isn’t brought out in the trailer, that I can see.

The reality of Noah is far different. Noah found favor with G-d when G-d saw only a fallen humankind. As such, G-d decided to give humanity another chance, wiping the slate clean. In wiping the slate, a whole bunch of wicked people went down kicking and screaming in a flood of water. If only CNN had been around to document the Flood, we’d see if the wicked hordes attacked the ark or not.

Mr. Aronofsky’s account of Noah is as good as anyone’s account. It’s a story. We live in a secular world with lots of stories. So as long as Mr. Aronofsky doesn’t say it is the Word of the Lord, then it’s just another secular movie depicting a lot of blood shed centered on the theme of survival.

That said, there is one movie that is either out or coming out that I do think is over the edge. It is a movie about Abraham storming an army that surrounds his nephew Lot, and rescuing him. Now that one got it all wrong. And that might have crossed the line from just secular movie-making to deception. There are lines. I don’t see the story of Noah crossing over that line to deception. Then again, I’ve only seen the trailer. Maybe the actual movie does so. Most likely I’ll see it when it’s shown on television, then I’ll know.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

The Murder Book

Michael Connelly writes crime thrillers. The desire to write was born while attending the University of Florida. He studied journalism and creative writing. After working on several newspapers in Florida, on the crime beat, he moved to Los Angeles to cover crime for the LA Times. After three years there, his first novel was published, Black Echo. It introduced the character Harry Bosch, who would become a main character in a series of books. There are now twenty books in that series.

In the first book of the series, the main character, Harry Bosch, is already a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, with many years on the job. We learn Bosch’s background early on in the series: Born in 1950 in Los Angeles to Marjorie Phillips Lowe, Bosch was named Hieronymus Bosch after the 15th century Dutch artist and nicknamed “Harry.” He became an orphan at 11 when his mother, a prostitute, was murdered. He grew up living in a youth hall and foster homes. He joined the army and did two tours in Vietnam. Harry returned to Los Angeles and joined the LAPD in 1972. He became a detective after five years in patrol.

One of the key pieces of an investigation, we learn from Connelly’s Detective Bosch, is the Murder Book. It is a complete record of one particular investigation. We learn that not only does the book contain interviews with witnesses, records of evidence discovered, and reports from scientific analysis, but it contains comments by the detectives. These comments are invaluable, according to Connelly’s character Bosch, as they show the detectives’ minds, tie the evidence together, and give direction to the investigation.

In one of the novels, Connelly’s character Bosch describes going through a particular murder book from a four-year-old unsolved case. He goes over and over the book letting the facts and analysis of the case soak into him. Bosch tells us that the key to any case lies within the details of the Murder Book and doesn’t readily just pop out. He says that the more familiar he is with the book, the easier new pieces of the investigation will fit together. The end result is a moment in which he, the investigator, understands the significance of various details in the book and is able to come to a conclusion about the case.

It occurs to me that this is exactly what we as Followers of Y’shuaJesus do when we read and reread the Bible on a daily basis. I know for myself there are days in which I simply read a book. Yesterday I read Obadiah. It’s not a long book. I wasn’t “studying” it, looking for anything particular. I was just reading. But like Bosch’s Murder Book, the more I read, the more familiar various pieces of the whole work of G-d become to me. It seems to me that throughout my daily life, I’m confronted with new situations. The more familiar I am with the situations and the lessons gleaned from the Bible, the better I am at handling the situations encountered daily.

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

Esra 7:10
Additionally, there is something that changes within me the more I engage with the Bible. It’s no accident that it is called the Living Word. For the Bible, to those whose names are written in the Book of Life, is food that we consume and digest and it becomes part of us. Now that doesn’t mean I’m done. For every day is a day in which I know I am a work in progress. The Lord is our Potter, making us into the person we are to become. And one day, Thank You Lord Y’shua, we will feast with Him at the Great Supper of the Lamb.

In the meantime, we are here and one of our missions is to absorb the Word of G-d so, as the Ezra put it, do the Word and teach it.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

“Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes”

Some weeks ago something was said that reminded me of a time, long ago, when someone pointed out to me that my religion was simply an opiate that dulled and blinded me to reality. This came from a person with whom I’d been very close. She told me she wanted to live her life fully, somewhat echoing H.D. Thoreau’s thoughts on life from his book, “Walden’s Pond.” I was, if I understood her correctly, living a life that was based on the illusion of better life after death, one that believed the illusions fed to me today, keeping me in a sort of bondage, addicted to a false hope that allowed me to endure without complaint the hardships of today, and to submit joyfully to them all.

So I began a little research. I learned the full quote from Karl Marx (published in 1843) is: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

Then I looked at one of Karl Marx’s other publications, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” published in 1848. According to Wikipedia, “it has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League’s purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.

“The book contains Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism, and then eventually communism.”

Class struggle. For Marx, religion permitted the poor to remain poor through their religion suppressing any objection of those that controlled them. For Marx, those that exploited the poor used a little bit of charity once and a while to make them feel okay about their exploitation of the poor. And all the while “religion” allowed this to happen.

Now look at a source for Marx’s idea of opium of the masses: According to Wikipedia, The phrase “This opium you feed your people” appeared in 1797 in Marquis de Sade’s text L’Histoire de Juliette. Marquis de Sade. What a character. He was a total mess. He believed in unbridled freedom: the freedom to whatever one pleases regardless of who is hurt or murdered. What Sade is saying in his book is that the State uses religion to appease the people, to keep them in line and controlled. People are controlled when they look to their religion, their government, any world enterprise or institution, as their savior. And their religion supports this view, exploited, which is fully exploited by the state.

Furthermore, Sade said that that the appeased people become fully dependent upon their controllers, and fall into a mortal weakness. If their nation is threatened, they are easily overcome. It makes no difference to them who is controlling them, for they are poor, blind, and too weak to now object.

And it’s true, we see admonishment after admonishment by the Apostles in their writings that we are to live at peace with the government, live in harmony with each other, as best we can. And if that’s as far as we understand our religion, then we will submit to all forms of enslavement, joyfully going onward, blindly.

For the class struggle Marx desires is to envelope the world, for evil capitalism to be defeated, for socialism and communism to succeed and dominate. The way it played out in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution was a suppression of religion.

But it seems that suppressing religion is not enough; it must be replaced. Hence, in the case of USSR, the communist party becomes the religion, for it, itself, is the savior of the people from the clashes of class. Class is done away with, stamped out, molded by the Party into exactly what Marx accused religion of doing: first making the people into soulless serfs, announcing that they are the property of the State, and that the State will provide their “soul.”

While Communism and Nazi Fascism are different, opposed, the aim of each is similar, to control the people through replacing G-d with a hero-worshiped man. Take Austria in 1938. The country was in terrible economic shape. Stories of Germany rising out of economic depression at the false=messianic hand of Adolph Hitler led Austrians to vote to become one nation with Germany, to accept Adolph Hitler. Adolph Hitler was to the Germany people a savior, and now he would be the savior of Austria. There were few outcries from the religious institutions of Germany. Hitler took over. We know how that worked out.

In Germany, the religious institutions supported the Germany government, with some exceptions. One pastor didn’t go along with the Hitler. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He paid with his live.

Dr. David Livingston, a Biblical archeologist and scholar, writes that:

“There are some basic principles for “using” religion in controlling others. If we know and understand them, we may not so easily be caught in a trap ourselves.

“To begin with, everyone yields final authority to someone, some person. There are five possibilities among which everyone chooses who will control his life.

“First, we may choose ourselves. This kind of person may say, “I am the captain of my own fate, and hang everybody else. I will do my own thing.” Such a one tends to be proud, defiant and sometimes lawless because he has set himself up as his own final authority. This was the position of the kings and emperors of the ancient near east, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

“A second possibility is to yield to someone else’s final authority. This can be imposed on people by force. But however it happens, people become somebody else’s slave.

“The third possibility is to yield to God. This may sound like a good way, but there can be trouble with this position. The problem is that if the god to which a person yields is a figment of his own imagination, he is in the first category mentioned above. He is worshipping himself. People may think they are worshipping God, while they are only worshipping an idea of God they themselves imagined. Or, they say “visualize God to be as He is represented in some great painting.” But, that is not God at all. Some may say that actually all ideas of god are nothing but the creation of man to meet a deep-felt “god-need.” Those believing this need to go on to consider the next two possibilities.

“The fourth possibility is to yield final authority to someone else’s idea of God. This is where real trouble arises. If we yield to someone else’s concept of god, we become his servant. This makes one a slave of the most complete kind. Because anybody who controls someone else’s religious thoughts really controls his whole person. Israel was warned in Exodus 23:33, “. . . if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” And by the time of the Judges, Israel had already discovered that serving someone else’s idea of god ultimately leads to servitude (Judges 2: 12,14). Jeremiah later pled with Israel not to serve the gods of the nations, “And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things unto us? Then shalt thou answer them, like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.” (Jeremiah 5:19, see also: Amos 5:25-27).

“When we serve a god that someone else has “dreamed up,” we become their slave. That is what the rulers of Russia, Japan, China, and other nations have done to their subjects. Rulers in the Ancient Near East did exactly the same.

“By now the reader will have begun to discover the most basic method used in gaining control over others. It is simply this:

“Whoever controls a person’s religion, controls his will; whoever controls his will, controls his thought-life; and whoever controls his thoughts, controls that one’s actions. Possession of another person as totally as this, makes him a complete slave, even though the person may actually seem free and have a high living standard.

“If there is one word which describes the method used to control others, it is “deceit.” Those who employ deceit are following the Father of Lies who has gone out to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9; 20:3,8,10). The fact that he can deceive everyone indicates that he has a number of agents using his methods. It also indicates that great masses of men — hundreds of millions of them — have been living in spiritual slavery.
How to be really free

“Thank God there is a fifth possibility. That is, we can allow our lives to be controlled by the True God Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures. Jesus said,

If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

(John 8:32)

“To be sure we have yielded our wills to Jesus Christ Himself, we should read for ourselves about Him in the Bible, the Word of God. No other description of Jesus is completely trustworthy. And having decided to follow Him, we want to be certain we are not just following someone else’s understanding of Him! Of course, we should listen to and read of the exposition of God’s Word by other men of God. A very important aspect of our obeying Christ is to be in fellowship with those of like mind. But, even so, we want to get God’s will for ourselves as directly as possible from His revealed Word.

“The True and Living God HAS revealed Himself. He is not hiding from us. He reveals Himself in His Word very plainly. Then, in the written Word we discover that in this last period of time in history, He has come into the world in the Person of His Son.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

“Will you ask yourself, “To whom have I yielded to have the final authority in my life?”

“”Religion” IS an “opiate”… but CHRIST IS LIFE!
And He said, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.”

“The antidote to spiritual slavery is to surrender our wills to Jesus Christ, then let our minds be washed with the pure water of the Word of Truth as we determine to obey Him. Meditating on God’s Word day and night will make one prosper and set him free (even though he might be a slave in Caesar’s court: Psalms 1: 2,3).”

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .