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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A study in governments (part 4)

Protestantism, at its beginning, demonstrated a pure theocracy. With a soul burning with faith and obedience to God, Martin Luther led the nation of Germany into deliverance from Papal bondage simply through the preaching of God’s word. The German people were taught to know God, and were given the spiritual tools to that end; and when it was all laid out before the people clearly, their faith grasped the power of the gospel and courage rose to break from the enslavement of the Papacy and history’s biggest fraud, the Papacy’s supposed holy empire.

As Nebuchadnezzar’s Neo-Babylon emerged from the rubble of 1500 years of pagan religion, so America grew up under the shadow of England after 1500 years of Papal darkness in Christian Europe. During the period of Colonial America under Britain, western government was similar to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Britain was regimented and lion-hearted. America was small but even bolder. Under the leadership of King James was authorized the most accurate translation of the Bible. And the people of America, though not all professing Christians, were unwitting products of the Reformation. The churches were intent on keeping God’s commandments, and new light shone from heaven beginning the process of sectarianism in America. Life was tough and dangerous in the new continent, and the rugged Protestants felt their need to know their Bibles. They came up from the wilderness of the new land a robust, strong-willed people tied to the soil and to strict obedience to the Law of God. They were legalistic to a degree, but innocent by today’s standards. They had no problem living under a monarchy. They understood their place in the system of caste set up by powerful men. The Bible told them that in God’s eyes the first were last, and the last first. They were content to know that God had His own way of prioritizing greatness and of determining human worth.

By the mid 1700’s, the colonialists, seeing the vast land and never-ending natural resources before them, unconsciously coveted all that their eyes landed on. The imported comforts from the Old World and monetary potential of the New World had its influence on the Protestants and the pastors lost their power to awaken the conscience of the flock under their care as a gloom settled over the churches, separating them from the Word. The new generation, full of the energy inherited from their God-fearing grandparents, were led away from the faith of their fathers to spend their God-given intellectual and physical strength on this world. Thus Protestants prepared themselves for a new government, one that could survive without a king, but one that had self-sufficiency built into it. It required genius to devise such a government. Genesis records children of godly parents before the flood who strayed away from the faith of Adam and married the children of Cain and the life of self-indulgence. They were a source of unequaled worldly wisdom. Such can be said of the robust descendents of Noah at the Euphrates delta. Such can be seen in every healthy, vibrant youth that puts a godly home behind him to enter the world. And such were our country’s forefathers.

As Colonial America coincides with the Babylonian empire, so from 1776 onward, Constitutional America coincides with the government of Medo-Persia—a republican government that took inputs from surrounding satraps before it made a law. Great effort went into making fair and equal laws across the vast empire; and once a law was agreed to by the governors/representatives and ratified, then it was in force forever. As the Medo-Persians enjoyed peace in the land, so did Americans during this corresponding period of it’s history. But by the time of the Civil war, partisan contentions filled Congress and the nation. The unity of the state was no longer paramount. The south wanted to secede and the north was full of self-righteousness and protections of its own interest. We were slipping from our semi-noble condition of the Constitutional period of our history. The Protestant churches separated themselves from God’s Law by adopting a new gospel—the Ten Commandments done away with and nailed to the cross. Now the people could no more hear the voice of heavenly authority. The pulpit was now full of empty threats. Easy grace opened the floodgates of evil in this unique Protestant country because the fear of the Lord was no longer a force to be counted with.

The Civil War era to WWII in America parallels the world’s condition during the Greek civilization and is characterized by an increasing restlessness and desire for satisfaction of individual desires. The foundation had been laid by the failure in Protestantism, with new freedoms coming about: civil rights, women and black suffrage, the teaching of our children, health reformers and prohibitionists; diverse cross-sections of society fighting for their right to be heard. While these reforms were necessary, it simply demonstrated the vast and growing retreat from the spirit of self-sacrifice seen in the Reformers. The uplifting of humanity and prohibition of harmful substances was the jurisdiction of the church rather than that of the government. It was the home and the church that were to bring about these changes. Paul demonstrated for us the power of truth when he cautiously yet firmly laid a death knell precedent against slavery in his epistle to Philemon; and he continually elevated the place of women high above their near slavery status in the world. But the churches failed because they had long before lost their power to convict the conscience as Paul and Luther had done, and now moral reform was lost to them. The churches standing idly by, applauded the government for stepping up to the plate to perform by legislation the very mission the churches wanted to conduct but were unable to muster the energy to accomplish. The churches were long dead in trespasses and sins and in great need of conversion.

George Washington wisely founded our government on self-interest. Its role is to demand and enforce laws of justice and equality. Thus the American government failed because it later attempted what was the function of the church, in the merciful uplifting of the people. But because the church wasn’t fulfilling its purpose, the government leaders assumed that that was their role to fill. It would require an increasingly heavier budget and complicated beaurocracy to afford what the church could have accomplished through God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. It is at this point that we see in our republican form of government the cracks that have been developing since the 1800’s.

Protestantism had lost its first love long before, and the Bible injunctions that they “loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free,” breaking every yoke in the power of God, had lost its force due to the lure of prosperity. The Protestants now must rely on the state to accomplish by legislation what religion would fail to do through the Spirit of God.

Also, during this period there began, slowly at first, advances in the sciences, mathematics, and the arts like we saw developing in Greece. Government run public education came into its own, copying closely the Greek pagan classical education system borrowed from Europe, which had been passed down from ancient Egypt. Great American writers had sprung up, and now the souls of Protestant Americans were won over. Similar to the Greeks before them, Americans worshipped their own philosophers, and made their philosophies the new guide over the faith of their fathers. By 1925, the Scopes “Monkey Trial” finished off the paltry faith in God which remained in the system that taught our Protestant children. The scientific community moved against William Jennings Bryan to humiliate him and his desire to keep creationism in the school books. The prospects of a separate Protestant school system had given up to an atheistic educational system that would lead her children further away from the memories of real faith. The children would now fall into a bottomless pit, never again to know the soundness of godly reasoning.

New and exciting things to do and use proliferated as we threw off archaic ways of thinking for new untried ways. The “anything goes” attitude spread down to the common people, amusement parks and public beaches flourished and the ‘20’s came roaring through. Here we see the beginnings of the end, the spirit behind this nation’s ruin that would cause man to “exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god...neither will he regard the God of his fathers.” Dan. 11:36. Self would be gratified more and more before this prophecy was completely fulfilled.

Abandonment of the “old paths, where is the good way” (Jer. 6:16), never brings lasting peace. God’s image that is built into human nature is there to send us to God for guidance. But the sinful nature struggles against this voice because we were born in rebellion against God’s principles of purity. The Spirit strives against the flesh, and the flesh strives against the Spirit so that it is difficult to do what we should do or want to do. This constant struggle is intended by God to bring us to see a force bigger than us or our worldly cares, which we must acknowledge as the Creator moving upon the created being. However the struggle seldom results with the individual acknowledging God and seeking His help in the matters of peace. Man tends to wrestle on, the cares of the world weighing down until he sears his conscience and throws off the struggle. When he does this there is an exhilaration, a feeling of freedom which is not recognized as the deep apostasy away from God that it is. It is the exhilaration in the heart of the Prodigal Son as he leaves home with his fortune over his shoulder. This is happening in the churches of today, as the people heap up to themselves teachers who will give them the pleasing doctrines that skirt the issues of the conscience. The wicked generation of the end who have their conscience silenced are a very moral group (1Tim 4:2). They find peace at the cost of the conscience. True repentance, subjection to a higher authority than self, is a foreign matter to the vast American, even religious, multitudes.

As Satan moves the whole world closer to its destruction, he uses the same tactic as always—a counterfeit peace. “By peace,” he will “destroy many.” Dan. 8:25. This peace is of a different character than the peace of God. Satan offers a peace without laws, a peace by way of avoiding the tough issues of the heart like holiness, service, duty and repentance. “They have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Jer. 8:11. God did not give Jacob the blessed peace of mind until after an intense personal struggle with submission to the will of God. Then Jacob clung to the Angel and received the blessing which had eluded him all his life. Esau took the quick route to peace and lost his place in sacred history. As Esau was ignorant of the peace that comes from submission to God, during his life it was impossible for him to admit to himself that the accumulation of earthly things is insufficient to bring lasting peace—everlasting life. We all must struggle for peace, but let us not rest until we obtain the peace that comes with a clean conscience before God through faith in His merciful kindness. “I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is far off and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Is. 57:19-21. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom 5:1. “If any man worship the beast and his image [follow any man-made system of getting peace of mind], the same shall drink of the wine of His indignation...And he shall be tormented.” Rev. 14:9,10. God has made it very clear that peace comes through no other means than submission to His will. With pathos the Spirit calls to our heart as to Israel of old, “O that thou hadst hearkened unto My commandments! Then had thy peace been like a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” Is. 48:18.

The moral laxness of the Greeks was the cause of the wretchedness of the Romans. The Roman Empire was the result of centuries of paganism-run governments. The result of paganism was a world weakened in moral power and under Satan’s angry control. The Romans attained world domination by squashing all resistance and then subjugating the people to keep down uprisings. What tribute was owed to it, it took with violence. While claiming to be a republic, its policy betrayed its true character, that of dictatorship. Satan had control of man and everywhere self was indulged with a vengeance.

In post-WWII America we have truly seen a rush to appease the greedy nature in man. A knowledge of God, the contrite condition of the heart, a full consecration to God and His Word, have been forgotten. America is an empty shell of its past. “Ichabod,” our glory has departed, forever. Are us Protestants learning humiliation before God’s Law? Is there a sighing and crying for the abominations done in the land, which by the neglect of the professed Protestants is their responsibility? Is there a yearning for being right with God? an earnest longing after righteousness? In the churches, where is the desire for the vindication of God’s character, even if it brings on public humiliation? It is missing in all the Protestant denominations. Darkness has covered the earth and gross darkness all of us. Our worship services are dead, lacking the confession of faults, a genuine expression of faith in God, the sharing of personal experiences in the operation of God’s work. We are in the middle of the Great Delusion. We have tried to compensate for the lack of true faith and spirituality by filling in the void with a worship of human devising. People weep and gnash their teeth in order to be “slain in the Spirit.” Like the prophets of Baal cut themselves and convulsed in prayer, these help bring on the spirit of darkness and perdition. But every self-made experience of good feelings only hardens them in false religion. It is an addiction that calls for a greater and greater emotional high while they seek to get the stimulation of the original fix when they first “got saved,” instead of going to the Savior and letting Him bring them to Himself.

More conservative churches who know only an assent to the theory of godliness stand idly by. They seem helpless to stop the apostasy happening among the Charismatic groups. They do not get personally involved in Pentecostalism, and feel safe with Ecumenism, not knowing that their end will be the same for those involved in the more obvious spiritualism. The latter receives the mark in the forehead and the former receives it in the hand. Even many Adventists, who aren’t worried until they see a Sunday law, have fallen into the same trap. The Protestants try to maintain religion without a daily on-going relationship, getting reacquainted with God daily for victory over sin. The church looks good on the outside and membership is growing, but the Protestant heart is in turmoil.

Is America a republic or a dictatorship? If it is a strong republic, as it claims, then why the build-up of the police force? Why do we see terrorism within our borders at the hand of our own people? Why is the CIA turning its guns on its own people? Satan has brought us down, we are wallowing in the mud. We want God to come to our rescue, and still to be able to cling to our convenient lifestyle, an easy and careless life of idleness. We want to believe God provides for us while we fight to keep all the “good life” for ourselves. A man pumped up on steroids, whose muscles are stronger than his bones, but whose tender inner organs are in ruins, best portrays the spiritual strength of Protestant America.

Protestant Americans can’t live without Hollywood. We have committed fornication with her. She makes us feel good about ourselves. She makes us laugh, she makes us weep. She makes us jump up and shout with excitement, as we pour our emotions into a box instead of the throne of God. She requires no obligation, no strings attached. We find it easier to deal with her issues than to help our neighbor deal with his. She makes us suspenseful, then relieves that suspense. She lets us forget about real life’s stresses; she is a faithful therapist. We are enthralled; we are hypnotized. We are addicted to her.

She is our priest, she teaches us how to believe in God. We learn our morals from her. We learn how to conform to the crowd and are conditioned to think about what is proper and what is not, based on what everyone else says. She allows us to be in charge of our morality. Through her, we allow people’s opinions to become our standard of conduct, which agrees more with us than God’s Law because there is no force behind human opinion since they are all personally tailored and riddled with selfish agendas. She provides for us with up-to-date world events and weather; she educates us. We couldn’t live without her. She blesses us with televangelists. We worship her. Who needs real holiness, when our needs are met with Hollywood’s shows?

The heart of the people is rotted out; Babylon is fallen.

A study in governments (part 3)

When God must give Satan freedom to do to the human race according to their dictates we see that the condition of the race follows a steady downward course to self-destruction. Sinful at birth as we are, each newborn mind immediately senses a disturbing lack, a need to be self-centered, and throughout life it is taught to be increasingly more selfish. This same progression can be seen on a larger scale in humanity. As Satan’s temptations persuade the world to fulfill their desire for self-indulgence, the Holy Spirit finds it harder to impress the human heart. The Spirit is pushed out of this world and man’s increasingly restless spirit cries out the more intensely for something to satisfy self. Slowly we move from submission under a monarchy and a simple lifestyle, to a more complicated life and increasingly liberated forms of self-government. The unrestricted passion for an easier way of life produces inventions that perfect ease and carelessness, thinking that having more things or more temporal freedoms will bring everlasting happiness. But peace of mind only the Holy Spirit can fulfill through obedience to God’s will. While men move further and further from leadership under God to leadership under a man, the phases of government follow a path from theocracy to monarchy to a republic, then democracy, dictatorship, and finally, at its lowest point, to papacy.

What is this all saying? Is self-government then a bad thing? Is our Constitution of republicanism wrong after all these years? No, not at all. Self-government provides the highest form of living—assuming moral standards remain high. Self-government requires self-control, submission under the Law of God. But without subjection to God’s Law as pre-eminent above all governments, we will consistently misapply the pure principles of self-government. We become self-seeking which is at counter-purposes with self-government and with the solidarity of a nation. The only reason Republicanism could have worked in America was that it was paired up with a system of religion that was to reveal a true knowledge of God and to keep the nation innocent. With this holy influence our republican form of government could truly have worked. To the extent that the Bible principles were honored, our country has prospered. Protestantism was to be the cradle out of which would rise men who were self-forgetful and conscientious to duty, men of principle and true servants of the people. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson were a few of such men.

However, Protestants were untrue to their charge. More interested in creating exclusive creeds than remaining humble before God’s Word, they closed their hearts to His Spirit and became hard-hearted and unusable by God. Each new light from His Word brought resistance to the new truth and judgment upon the messengers. Their multi-factioned sects rather than necessarily causing conflict could have improved each sect through constant testing of each other and by an honest searching the scripture for truth. “Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Prov. 27:17. Discussion over the Science of Salvation and the beauty of obedience to God’s Law would have laid nicely over the American pattern of debating political concerns and hailing the wonders of our Constitution.

A king was deemed contrary to God’s leadership during the era of judges. “And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.” (Jud. 8:23) “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.” (1 Sam. 8:6). The Bible’s assessment is that a pure theocracy is the highest form of group government. But because God has been dismissed from human operations and will remain that way until He comes again, and since the monarchy of Babylon was seen as a head of gold in the dream God gave Nebuchanezzar, then a strong monarchy provides the second best style of government, but the best form of government when God is no longer in control. This must assume it is led by principles of righteousness, as was Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom while Daniel gave counsel. As soon as righteousness no longer leads a monarchy it becomes an overbearing government. Nevertheless, if righteousness is leading it, monarchy offers the least worry; it becomes an object lesson of God’s kingdom and a source of faith and love, which elevates the subjects. It also requires the most trust and submission of the subjects since the government operates without any of their say. In its fabric is woven no thread of commoners’ devising. A good monarchy produces subjects that love their king, as opposed to governments that offer a vote, and which tend to self-dependence.

The reason we have so few examples of good monarchies is that to maintain its greatness, the king must be willing to receive correction from a commoner—a prophet. The king must be willing to hear a man of God accuse, “Thou art the man!” The king must be willing to be showered by an old man’s insults and yet say, “Let him alone, let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him.” 2Sam 16:11. A king must be willing to accept whatever heaven plans for the humble beginnings and the longevity of the dynasty, however short. In short, the monarch must be as meek and vulnerable and submissive as the subjects. Even as God in heaven is meek, having allowed His authority to be bound at Satan’s charges throughout this great controversy. In heaven and in earth our Father sets the example of meekness and subjection to the very Law that governs His subjects throughout His realm, the Law of self-sacrificing love. And God had to teach Nebuchadnezzar that he was king not by divine right, but by divine privilege. He was king not because he was better, or of greater worth than the people, but because the kingdom was a gift to him from heaven. Rulership is not a privileged right; it is a privilege to serve.

Most people would say that a ruler must demand respect or else the nation will fall apart. Force the people to stay in line, keep them under your thumb, say they, or anarchy will be the result. To this again we must turn to our sure foundation...the Holy Scriptures. King David maintained law and order, and it was emphasized in the scriptures that David’s form of rulership resulted in deep brotherhood, and citizen loyalty, as opposed to the days before the kingdom, when every man did what was right in his own eyes. However, the humility and patience David displayed while waiting for the throne (which had been promised to him), and his personable and principled way of maintaining the government once obtained, is an example to every leader, voted in or appointed; head of state or proprietary lord.

A republic is the next best thing to a monarchy. It is inferior to a monarchy in that its fabric begins to weave in the threads of selfish devising. A republic makes use of a judge or presider over senators and representatives of the populace. In this form of government, the people have greater say-so in the government. The people also begin to have more loyalty to their own selves and less loyalty to the person in charge. Americans say that Republicanism is superior to any government because representation makes the communication of the people’s wants an easy and simple process. But, on a personal level, it results in placing faith back in self, which is the most basic of man’s problems, one which is almost impossible to unlearn and so easy to fall back into.

When worldly-wise men—deep thinking men—such as our revolutionary forefathers, build a form of government, they naturally will choose a republic. They know a democracy can’t work for a large group, for logistical reasons, for it would lead to pandemonium. On the other extreme, they see the problem of autocratic rule. Without a spiritual church to cry out against a willing king, a monarch becomes a despot. Thus a republic must do. But without the voice of the Law of God, even a republic will bring itself to ruin. As seen with Rome, Republicanism, of itself, contains no cure for despotism. Deep beneath the beautiful glamour of “freedom” will run an undercurrent of self-interest in the populace which will eventually become all-controlling. Without an externally sanctifying influence, through the pure voice of the Bible, self-interest among the people will lead to the destruction of the republic.

The next step down from a republic is a democracy. The two can be easily confused. Rather than the people appointing a representative who can be trusted to speak in a congress of other men representing the whole nation, as in a pure republic, in a pure democracy, each person has an equal say in the matters of the state. It seems inconceivable for any modern nation to be able to operate under a pure democracy. In a large group it breaks down. It results in a mass of confusion, with each voice wondering whether it was heard. There must be some sort of leadership deciding what issues need to be voted on and this leadership can easily become corrupted.

Atheism attends democracies. Men boldly depend on their own wisdom and every man’s conscience is motivated by what is right in his own eyes. Great trust is placed in the morality of the group. The result is a mass of conflict and confusion. The year America put a republic into action, France experimented with a democracy. When drastic, irrational people are so downtrodden that they are themselves as corrupt as their corrupted and toppling government, and then attempt to form a government, they will choose a democracy. They are distrustful of leadership and too disturbed to trust in even their neighbor. Trusting only in self, they are completely self-centered. They demand their rights and they demand their voice be heard.

When George Washington was approached for aid to France’s revolution, he would not even speak to the French envoy. In his mind, this undisciplined group of people did not, in the slightest degree, resemble the righteous revolution experienced in Protestant America. France’s experiment with democracy ended in the Reign of Terror. The people of Catholic France had for so long allowed their wealth and temporal comforts to be sacrificed to capricious Popes and kings, that their perceptions and consciences were deadened and they followed the course that is typical when Satan has succeeded in controlling the mind. The hippy movement in the ‘60’s is an example of pure democracy. The hope was to form an intangible group where everyone had an equal voice, rejecting the order of an establishment. The hippy movement has been glorified by modern writers, but the final days of the movement speak for themselves.

Lower still is the fourth form of government. A dictatorship is the despotic rule of a man or small group, without regard to the people of the nation. Laws are arbitrary, based solely on the self-protective measures of the dictator. The people are slaves to the government with no voice. Trust, love, hope, and happiness are banished from the land. Everything is censored to “help” the people keep clean from outside “wickedness” according to the opinion of the man in charge. The dictator builds up the police state in order to keep down the repulsive nature of captive humans. Underground terrorism and government espionage on the citizens comes about. People go into hiding and government goes into searching. It is a time of trouble for the nation. Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and many leaders of the third world today give examples of dictatorships, and of their results—ethnic cleansing and genocide. A dictatorship is how the western world ended before God injected Christianity to give it a new lease on life. Through God’s grace, the cesspool of the world became the center of the world’s uplifting!

History repeats itself because human nature has never changed. Our race’s basic problem of distrusting God never changes. Satan’s ways are ever the same, to fill our lives with inescapable misery as quickly as possible. Therefore, then as faith and love fade from the world, through the work of Satan and our own neglect, our choices of government will follow the same pattern as seen in the past.

And it has done just that. History has repeated itself. In America can be seen the same downward progression of governments as in the ancient empires.

A study in governments (part 2)

Babylon, the cradle and mother of all civilizations was the home of tremendous wealth and opulence, the following empires attempting to rival the “good old days” of Babylon but failing to copy it fully. Babylon the Great, sat as the gateway between the west and the east. Its economy was extremely affluent with a constant flow of merchandise sent from the Atlantic regions, across the Mediterranean Sea, and into Babylon, on its way to the Orient. The city was laid out with forethought and design and many of the buildings were elaborate and very costly. In the center of the city rose the majestic high place with the sacrificial temple on its pinnacle. It was a revival of the ancient tower of Babel, the namesake of the empire. No city in the world could match this one for sophistication. Surrounding this pearl in the desert was a double wall for protection, measuring 100 feet in thickness. Moving under the walls and through the city was the wide river Euphrates. All this was described by the “head of gold”. (Dan. 2:38)

Babylon had taken God’s Law enforcement for the known world from Israel. In place of a sanctified, priest-like kingdom influencing the world with a blend of mercy and justice, a crude, hard worldly nation became the kingdom of kingdoms. This came as a rebuke to the people of God to show them the high state Israel could have known. They had not taken God or His Law seriously and firmly upheld His commandments. They had lost sight of the provisions Jehovah had given them to obey Him. They were no longer able to lead the world.

Babylon had a worldly monarchy. The king believed in traditional king-worship, but God saw that he had a good heart. King Nebuchadnezzar was a man who meant business—no half-hearted service was acceptable. An honest man, he demanded his subjects be forthright. He esteemed courage of conviction and was no respecter of persons. Though a product of the prevailing pagan sense of righteousness, in God’s eyes he and his government represented the kingly bearing of God. Next to the king stood a most faithful counselor who had proven himself a capable administrator and a wise, courageous advisor. Daniel was a noble man of God, and as the king’s conscience, he helped balance the king’s judgment and bring stability to his government. Without his influence, the king could not have been as successful as he was.

Nebuchadnezzar had to learn some difficult lessons of dependence and submission to Daniel’s God, but he eventually learned them with Daniel’s help. He apprehended a lesson that the leaders of Judah were loath to learn; and through him the world heard a wonderful confession. Through seven years of madness the king learned about taking credit to self rather than giving God the glory for personal accomplishments. He paid a heavy price, but in the end he learned life’s greatest lesson and he could now stand in true nobility because his pride had been laid low. He could stand tall because he was willing to acknowledge his own insufficiency and to surrender his own self-esteem, and to esteem the God of heaven above himself.

Medo-Persia succeeded Babylon. This vast twin-empire ranged from the border of India to Greece and south to Ethiopia. This empire captured Babylon and all its wealth. King Ahasuerus was wealthy enough to have a feast for the princes and nobles of his 127 provinces, the power of the empire, for 180 days. But as silver is inferior to gold, so the empire didn’t have the strength and strict order King Nebuchadnezzar gave it. Cyrus is known as the founder of the empire. He was a wise ruler. He made contact with all the tribal leaders within his provinces and asked them what laws and ways of management they thought would best serve their respective localities. This was recognized by all as a friendly gesture. Cyrus is praised and immortalized to this day. Everyone loved Cyrus.

He established the style of government that would characterize Persian rulers for centuries. Although called a king, by his method, Cyrus’ kingdom resembled less of monarchy and more of a republic. As a president uses the inputs from the senators and representatives throughout his realm in a republic, so did Persian kings listen to their satraps. This type of government was stable because it gave the people some control and that suited them extremely well. Their empire lasted over two hundred years.

Giving the populace the controls of government is lauded as the key to a successful nation. But it has been forgotten that this is true only when the people of that nation can be self-forgetful and can hold the principles of the Divine Law above their own personal interests. When God’s interests and the interests of others are held high, then the national interests, as advocated by the leader, will be strong because the nation’s interests will be treated fairly in the minds of the people with respect to their personal needs. The people will be satisfied with the leadership and desire diplomacy with other nations. However, unless the people can learn self-forgetfulness, especially when the luxuries of world power begin to flow into the empire, they are best ruled by a rod of iron. But the populace never learned self-sacrifice, and the removal of Nebuchadnezzar’s iron rod represents the beginning of the slide toward world ruin. Thus the representation of Persia as silver, vice Babylon as gold.

The Jewish economy and temple had been an influence for good. Through the temple the Holy Spirit was able to present many spiritual lessons to the surrounding nations. Following the Babylonian captivity and the destruction of the Hebrew economy, the temple and Jewish lifestyle was restored by Cyrus. However the temple was lacking in the grandeur and heavenly beauty of Solomon’s temple, the Shekinah glory was not present, and the fervor and way of thinking of the Jews had become tainted by the captivity. They returned to their land, but could not return to innocence. Nationalism replaced the gospel mission. They turned inward and became defensive toward their culture. Within a generation following Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews fell away from that revival, and the next four hundred years was void of the voice of reproof and revival and reformation among God’s people, and through them, to the heathen. Religion became void of genuine faith in God. Conversion and repentance was few and far between and Jewish religious leaders compensated for the lack of spirituality with tighter controls on the people and more extensive proofs of loyalty to their religion. Without a voice of correction coming from Israel, world religions grew colder. The world could not restrain the degradation of paganism which slowly moved it in the direction of self-destruction.

Following the Persian came the Greek Empire. With the speed of a leopard, Alexander the Great few across the Persian Empire, subjugating the whole realm within ten years. Only the Himalayan Mountains and dense untamed jungles of southeast Asia stopped him. He was only interested in civilized nations to plunder. When there was no more empire to conquer and all the excitement was gone, he drank himself to death. But he believed his empire would remain strong only through tough leadership. So he gave his empire to his four generals, challenging them to fight for complete control, saying, “May the strongest man win.” Thus through warfare he felt assured of an eternal empire. Prior to his death he established a new form of civil government for the people, a democracy. Alexander had been taught in the best Greek and Egyptian schools and had studied the philosophers, who said that the people should make the laws that will govern themselves—democracy, a government by the people. Greek philosophers had seen what power did to the kings of the past and the emperors of Persia. A Democracy was to be an improvement over the republican form of government of the Persians, whose government was supposed to be an improvement over the monarchies of the “barbaric” past. Democracy painted a wonderful picture. Alexander chose to follow his teachers’ advice. Although tribal Greece may have successfully used democracy, by the time the Greeks rose to power, civilization was becoming corrupted by the ease-filled lifestyle coming of age. Having been “sophisticated” and liberated by philosophy and high-thinking, the world was unprepared to bear the responsibilities that come with the freedoms of democracy. Unless trained in self-denial, liberty will be used as an opportunity for self-indulgence.

A nation begins desiring democracy as a means of avoiding the mistakes of a corrupt government ruling over them. But without the Spirit of God to encircle and protect people, they become partakers of the same corruption they seek to correct. Without a high moral standard and access to divine power to keep that standard, a descent in morality is unavoidable. The Greeks of the 4th century B.C. were no longer comparably innnocent and self-effacing, as in older times. In former years they were isolated from worldly affluence and subject to the physical elements as well as the political. But once a people achieves world greatness and the resulting life of ease, their cry is for more freedom, and greater self-government. Deep down their concern is not for the nation, but for their own personal and partisan wants.

As we have seen so far, the center of power shifted slowly from an absolute ruler, as in Babylon, to the populace, in the Greek empire. As time passed, prevailing corruption steadily increased. A malaise set in as love and trust grew cooler due to advancements in conveniences of civilization. The leadership was less and less inclined to rule diligently and the people were less inclined to speak out against corruption. An aristocracy developed; the equity of democracy was only in name. So long as aristocracies exist, true democracy cannot. Both are diametrically opposed, and cannot co-exist. While the people rested their life of ease on the wisdom of the forefathers, the reality was that their perception of societal stability was an illusion. They believed a high standard of living ensures its own longevity. The scripture was fulfilled, “When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened... Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts.” Rom. 1:21-24. Their fantasy was soon to be quickly dissolved.

The Greek civilization flaunted personal freedom. Their skimpy clothing of ancient Egypt which revealed the human body was hailed as a welcome relief from the stuffy conservative styles worn by the Persians. The Greeks applauded it as art, but it was subtle gratification of the lower nature. The age-old rules about respectability and modesty were slipping away forever.

They delved into freethinking, deep philosophy, and literature, all of which threw off the restrictions of tribal societies of the past. Their scientific and mathematical advances were claimed as proof that the higher-critical style of philosophical thinking was superior to old-fashioned, mundane lifestyles and obedience to moral code. It would bring greater freedom of thought and be an unobstructed path to truth. The Greek philosophers studied at Egypt. Atheism from Egypt was fundamental to Greek philosophy. Men sought to find excuses for sin under the guise of the search for truth. They “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Rom. 1:21, 22.

As the free Greek society gave birth to the Roman, Satan pushed decadence upon man without any resistance. Honor, love of country, or loyalty to the leader were no longer present. It was grab all you can get. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”(1Cor. 15:32) The world’s moral worth was bankrupt. The new empire was an organized crime ring. Injustice and lawlessness were accepted and institutionalized by aristocracy and commoners alike.

Julius Caesar soon had an empire he could pass down to his progeny. But by now the world had come to unrecoverable ruin. The Caesars found themselves at constant battles at the fringes of the empire, danger of sedition within the government, and of high unemployment, especially in Rome. For the first time in history a career army was offered to soldiers because it became a full-time work to subdue an angry citizenry.

Murder, intrigue, and bribery were the vehicles to power. A noble character, trust, duty to conscience were laughable character traits. No one in the government could trust his comrade. Like a fearsome drug cartel the Caesars ruled the known world. Survival of the fittest had replaced statesmanship. A career in politics required constant maneuvers and an incessant lookout for wolves in sheep’s clothing, wolves with daggers and poison.

The Roman government claimed to be a republic. This notion came from ancient days when they were simple, rural Etruscans. Four hundred years previous, they were a small farming community in southern Italy. When they were small in their own eyes, they worked out a republican style of local government. The wishes of the community could be pleased through representatives bringing their needs to the consulate, the local political leader. Worldwide morals, however, declined through the centuries. And by the time these Etruscans became a world-dominating force, while they kept the title of republic, they were only a shell of their distant past government. In reality, the Caesars’ government emerged as a dictatorship, the fourth style of government.

Trust in God had long before disappeared, so that even the existence of a Creator was no longer perceived. Human achievements filled their imagination. Pleasure and self-gratification was the popular religion. Debauchery was the great pastime and debased all the regions within the sphere of Rome’s influence. The human race was running quickly toward self-annihilation. The prophecy said, “In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” Dan 8:23-25.

Since the common people were debased and no longer capable of self-government, more stringent laws and heavier penalties were placed upon the rebellious masses, while the ruling class was exempt. Christ rebuked this popular practice adopted by God’s people, “Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” Lk. 11:46. The holy Law of God, a wonderful blend of justice and mercy, was blotted from men’s conscience. A human substitute was put in its place, Lex Talionis, the law of retaliation, even for the Jews. No longer an eye for an eye, but a life for an eye. Mercy had disappeared; the principle of justice was distorted into bitter revenge.

A study in governments (part 1)

Kingdom of Israel........... Reformation....................... Theocracy
Babylonian Empire......... Colonial America.................Monarchy
Medo-Persian Empire..... Constitutional America....... Republic
Greek Empire.................. 20th Century America........ Democracy
Roman Empire................ Post WWII America.....Corrupted Republic
Holy Roman Empire....... Christian America................ Papacy
Reformation.................... Latter Rain..........................Theocracy

“That which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Eccl. 1:9

In the book of Daniel exists two dreams that parallel each other. They both show world events down to the end of time. They delineate the overall world situation as the Great Controversy takes place at the world’s center stage.

King Nebuchadnezzar woke with a start. It was an alarming dream that he believed to portend evil. In his dream he saw a statue of a man and his attention was drawn to it from the top of its crown down to its toes. Its head was of gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of part iron and clay. Then after studying this statue, he saw a boulder, as if dislodged from a mountain, hit the metallic man at the feet. The statue disintegrated into dust and blew away like dust in the wind and the boulder became a mountain that filled the whole earth. The king had to know what this was all about.

Daniel had a different vision, yet describing the same events. The wind was fearful and the surf was rough and four strange-looking wild animals crawled out of the sea. The first animal was a lion that had eagle’s wings, the second was a bear raised up on one shoulder, the third was a leopard with four heads and wings of a bird. Afterwards came out a fourth beast, extremely powerful, and so ugly and frightening that Daniel could not describe it except that it had brass claws and iron teeth. It had ten horns until a little horn uprooted 3 horns as it grew taller than the others and had eyes and a mouth like a man. It was fearful and terrible and what it didn’t devour it stomped into the ground. It was the scariest thing Daniel had ever seen in his life.

The angel in Daniel’s dream, without foretelling any names, said the beasts represented four empires that would rise to power in the earth. In the king’s dream, Daniel explained that King Nebuchadnezzar was the statue’s head of gold. He continued to say that following Babylon would come an empire inferior to it. After that a sequence of increasingly inferior empires as seen by the metals that grew less and less precious and simultaneously stronger and less flexible. A later vision to Daniel shows that the Medo-Persian Empire was chosen to follow, and then Grecia, and after Grecia that “fierce” empire (chapter 8).

Using Daniel’s visions and history books, we can fully interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and understand that the chest and arms of silver foretold the Medes and Persians, the thighs of brass indicated the Greeks, and the legs of iron represented Rome.

(To be continued.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

More on Grace and Truth

I’ve been so busy working on my sister’s house that I hardly have time to put together a post. So here’s another email to a friend. Hopefully the reader of this post will be encouraged.

Dear G_____,
I would like to talk to you again about the “wounds of a friend.” (Prov. 27:6). I believe here the emphasis is on “friend.” Ellen White counseled parents to give their children both discipline and love, counsel which was based solidly on the justice and mercy of God. Yet, she also said, “Parents should keep the atmosphere of the home pure and fragrant with kind words, with tender sympathy and love; but at the same time they are to be firm and unyielding in principle. If you are firm with your children, they may think that you do not love them. This you may expect, but never manifest harshness. Justice and mercy must clasp hands; there must be no wavering or impulsive movements.” Adventist Home, p.435.

And in another place, “In this time of special danger for the young, temptations surround them on every hand; and while it is easy to drift, the strongest effort is required in order to press against the current. Every school [And G_____, in our case, every church] should be a ‘city of refuge’ for the tempted youth [and in our case, adults], a place where their follies shall be dealt with patiently and wisely. Teachers [and you will be a teacher when you give your sermon] who understand their responsibilities will separate from their own hearts and lives everything that would prevent them from dealing successfully with the willful and disobedient. Love and tenderness, patience and self-control, will at all times be the law of their speech. Mercy and compassion will be blended with justice. When it is necessary to give reproof, their language will not be exaggerated, but humble. In gentleness they will set before the wrongdoer his errors and help him to recover himself. Every true teacher will feel that should he err at all, it is better to err on the side of mercy than on the side of severity.
Many youth who are thought incorrigible are not at heart so hard as they appear. Many who are regarded as hopeless may be reclaimed by wise discipline. These are often the ones who most readily melt under kindness. Let the teacher gain the confidence of the tempted one, and by recognizing and developing the good in his character, he can, in many cases, correct the evil without calling attention to it.” Education, p.294.

G_____, those are very wise counsels. David said, “Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation: and Thy right hand hath holden me up, and Thy gentleness hath made me great.” (Ps. 18:35). He also rejoiced that “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before Him; and shall set us in the way of His steps.” (Ps. 85:8-13). Right in the middle of all the truth and mercy we see them kissing each other. Gross!? No beautiful! This is a concept most people don’t grasp. I have a hard time with practicing it. We need to remember that the work of the Holy Spirit is one primarily of mercy. His work is so full of mercy and humility that that is why to blaspheme Him is to cast insult at God’s abundant mercy and humility, and which eventually lands us outside the city of God with the devil. If we are to be co-workers with Christ and His Spirit, we must learn how to communicate mercy and humility.

Finally, here is a statement of a dear friend I knew from Shenandoah Valley Academy, whom I saw again last Sabbath at our 30 year class reunion. She obviously had a loving Christian home and was the sweetest, most godly person on campus, loving to everyone and greatly beloved and respected by every student and teacher.

“It is good for SDA’s, or for any organized religion to practice religious tolerance, and to teach it to their children and grandchildren. It steers them away from becoming religious terrorists, who feel that everyone should be like themselves and believe as they believe. I find many Christians extremely scary. Every bit as scary as outright criminals or sociopaths.
I know that I have a lot to learn in life, one way or the other.
You have a good heart, David. Don’t worry about me. Pray for me if it comforts you. I can always use it, and always will appreciate it.
Thank you,
M____”

She left the church and God many years ago. It still stuns and saddens me deeply. She writes like one whose loving heart was hurt so many times by extremist and legalistic religious people (I want to call them Christians, but I can’t) or by an SDA set of standards given without Jesus’ love and used by Satan as a slow, gradual bludgeon, that she subconsciously turned off her conscience to it all.

G_____, let’s be very careful how we present truth. Jesus reached hearts. He spoke to the hearts of the people. He worked and prayed for better and better ways to start a little fire going in the listening crowds, even a smoldering. If He ever spoke strong words, it was only for the purpose of getting to the person’s hardened heart and awakening love. Faithful are the wounds of our Friend who was sent down from heaven. Let’s make sure we do it His way. Let’s remember that if we want to ever be great in God’s eyes, it will be through His method of gentleness.

“Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.” (Is. 42:1-4).

I love you and appreciate your desire to obey God. Have a wonderful Sabbath.

David

In that email to my freind I neglected to say that whenever Jesus did speak strong words that His voice inflection and facial expression worked to soften the convicting words. And those strong words were designed to get to some of the people, not all of the people. Many people turned away from Christ, not because of the words He spoke, beautiful though they were, but multitudes rejected Jesus because the religious leaders turned away from Him. If not for the trust in man, multitudes would have continued with Christ to the very end and revelled in His grace and truth.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Paul and the Pharisees

In a previous blog post I wrote this statement about the necessity of the Law in our conversion. “Yet it was, that without that fledgling obedience they never would have come to God. That sounds like a paradox or even heresy to some Evangelical Christians. But the inside scoop is that the apostolic Christians came to faith through the Law! (Gal. 3:22-24). Now that begs a question! And that question is this: How did the Christians get to Christ through the Law, but the Pharisees couldn’t?” I would like to pursue the answer to that most important question.

The difference lie in the fact that the Pharisees didn’t come to know Jesus because they didn’t keep all the Law. They broke Moses’ foundational rule. “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:1,2). “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul...” (Deut. 11:13).

They failed to keep all of God’s Law given through Moses, including the loving and serving the Lord, and, instead, turned to a designer religion. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men.” (Is. 29:13). They kept only the laws that were suited to their inclinations. They tailored God’s will to their own. The things they found easy to do became the whole of the law to them, and the things they couldn’t find easy they tritely ignored as unnecessary or impossible. Categorically speaking, outward actions are easy to perform because of the applause we get from people who are naturally awed by them. With all that human praise behind us we push on and put ourselves more and more into the center of attention. This became the whole of religion. (Jn. 12:43;Matt. 6:2,6,16). But the secret life, where God alone sees, was left undeveloped and unkempt. The real heart of the Pharisee was godless and empty of God’s graces (Matt.5:20), this being the natural bent of fallen man. (Matt. 16:23). Thus they couldn’t recognize the Son of God when He came; and thus they missed out on salvation due to their designer religion.

When Paul wrote, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10), he wasn’t referring to the precepts of God, but those that Isaiah had referred to, the traditions of men that had been added to the heaven-inspired law of Moses: a meticulous religion of “days, and months, and times, and years” (Gal. 4:10), “washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables” (Mk. 7:4), “and many other such like things,” “laying aside the commandment of God,” and holding to the “tradition of men.” (Mk. 7:8).

If they had worked to accomplish all of God’s Law—even the 613 Mosaic laws—and declined their prided mountain of man-made laws in the Mishnah, they would have become vulnerable to the God of Moses, and would have responded to Him as had Moses and all the other prophets. They wouldn’t have perpetuated the proud attitude of their fathers who said, “All that the Lord has said, we will do and be obedient. We’re pretty good and our natural willpower is pretty strong.” Instead it would have been, “There is no way! I’ve got to have Your help. I can’t climb Your mountain of righteousness unless You give me some supernatural power to scales those impossible heights!”

“Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread My courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” (Is. 1:10-15).

The same people who were so religious in outwardly serving God were also the ones who secretly followed pagan practices.

“A people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in My nose, a fire that burneth all the day.” (Is. 65:3-5).

“And He brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” (Ez. 8:16).

“So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.”(2Kings 17:41).

Were they following all the Law? If we look, we will find that they never even tried. If they would have sought the Lord for obedience they would have found Him. “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”(Matt. 7:8). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). Only those who desperately needed to obey God made it to Him for a relationship. It is this experiential knowledge of God’s grace, through obedience to His Law, that alone can save us from the control of the devil. An intellectual, theoretical, theological knowledge will never bring us to reconciliation and peace with God.


“Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; and it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart,’ to add drunkenness to thirst.” (Deut. 29:18,19). “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Heb. 12:15).

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1 Tim 4:1, 2).

By the time St. Jerome lived (347-420), the church had lost its first love; it had fallen completely away from God and His law and gospel, and true heart conversion was rare indeed. The standards dropped, allowing pagans to join the Christians, neither group having a change of life. Money had begun to be the motivating force of the church and the race for wealth and political power among the church leaders determined the direction of the recognized church. The same condition found in Judaism returned centuries later to the church, which Paul warned against to the believers at Rome, “Boast not against the branches [Israel].… Be not highminded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Rom. 11:18-22). But in spite of the warning, the Spirit of God left them as He had the Jews four centuries prior to the incarnation of the Messiah. Pagan Egyptian asceticism took the place of spirituality and Jerome fell into that discipline in order to find peace. The vacuum left by the ignorance of God’s love gnawed at the church as it gnawed at Jerome.

We get an inside view of the praised doctor of papal theology, recorded in the book, Truth Triumphant, in the chapter, VIGILANTIUS, LEADER OF THE WALDENSES

If the thunders of Jerome had not been turned against Helvidius, we would know less concerning him [Helvidius]…. That part of the ecclesiastical system of the fourth century, which was peculiarly ascetic and rigid, found an impersonation in Jerome, who exhibited its worst and most repulsive traits in the whole tenor of his life and conversation. Sourness, bitterness, envy, intolerance, and dissatisfaction with every manifestation of sanctity which did not come up to his own standard, had become habitual to him, and were betrayed in almost everything that he wrote, said, or did. Censoriousness, and the spirit of invective, were amongst his most strongly marked failings, and the very best men of the age did not escape his censure.”…. Jovinian drew the wrath of Jerome because he taught that the lives of married people, all other things being equal, are fully as acceptable in the sight of God as those who are not married; that eating with thanksgiving is as commendable with God as abstemiousness; and that all who are faithful to their baptismal vows will be equally rewarded at the day of judgment. Because of this, Jerome said that Jovinian had “the hissing of the old serpent,” “nauseating trash,” and “the devil’s poisonous concoction.” Vigilantius was convinced that the new system of austerities, processions, and sacraments did not result in making men preeminently happy and holy.

Here we see in the Dark Ages, that the same rejection of God’s law and of the form of service to Him that He had established led to the same failed condition in spirituality among the people as had plagued the Pharisees and religious leaders in Christ’s day. “Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” (1Thess. 2:15,16). In the wrath of God we see the increasing strength of Satan’s control. God had given them up to satanic control. It took the strong armies of Rome to finally wrestle them to the ground, which wasn’t easy even for Rome.

Thus, later for the same causes, the Church of Rome adopted the same fallen religion and received the same evil traits of character as did the Jews whom God finally rejected. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12). “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them [Israel]: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Heb. 4:1,2). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25).

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Understanding the Bible

KJV
1Chron. 20:3 And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes. Even so dealt David with all the cities of the children of Ammon. And David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

2 Sam. 12:31 And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.

NIV
1Chron. 20:3 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

2 Sam. 12:31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. [a] He did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

New American Standard Bible
1Chron. 20:3 He brought out the people who were in it, (A)and cut them with saws and with sharp instruments and with axes. And thus David did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

2 Sam. 12:31 He also brought out the people who were in it, and (A)set them under saws, sharp iron instruments, and iron axes, and made them pass through the brickkiln. And thus he did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

The Message
1Chron. 20:3 He hauled great quantities of loot from the city and put the people to hard labor with saws and picks and axes.

2 Sam. 12:31 David emptied the city of its people and put them to slave labor using saws, picks, and axes, and making bricks. He did this to all the Ammonite cities. Then David and the whole army returned to Jerusalem.

The Amplified Bible
1Chron. 20:3 He brought out the people who were in it and set them at cutting with saws, iron wedges, and axes. So David dealt with all the Ammonite cities. And David and all the army returned to Jerusalem.

2 Sam. 12:31 And he brought forth the people who were there, and put them to [work with] saws and iron threshing sledges and axes, and made them labor at the brickkiln. And he did this to all the Ammonite cities. Then [he] and all the men returned to Jerusalem.

Vulgate
1Chron. 20:3 And the people that were therein he brought out and made harrows, and sleds, and chariots of iron to go over them, so that they were cut and bruised to pieces: in this manner David dealt with all the cities of the children of Ammon: and he returned with all his people to Jerusalem.

2 Sam. 12:31 And bringing forth the people thereof he sawed them, and drove over them chariots armed with iron: and divided them with knives, and made them pass through brickkilns: so did he to all the cities of the children of Ammon: and David returned, with all the army to Jerusalem.



The so many translations can either make it difficult to know just what the Bible is teaching us, or they help us know better. One Bible commentary states that a difference by only a tick mark in the Hebrew words for “cut” and “enslave” might have been cause for miscopying, and that David’s character was the deciding factor in deciphering the real meaning of what happened in this instance.

A clearer view of David can be seen from the following. “Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.” (2Sam. 16:9-12).

“I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.” (Ps. 120:7).

“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” (2Sam. 23:14).

Since David was a very spiritual man, one of many “holy men” who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” (2Pet. 1:21) and a man after God’s own heart—by God’s own admission—it only rings true that David couldn’t possibly have used torture as a method to subjugate his enemies.

That is a formidable argument, and one I stand by based on the principle that by two or three witnesses (in scripture) shall every word of truth be established. Thus, the scholars of the KJV version mistranslated 1Chron. 20:3 and 2 Sam. 12:31. The better translations are the newer versions, where the Ammonites were put in servitude, not tortured.

But that conclusion does bring into question the Vulgate translation as well, and even more so. Its description is even more graphic that the KJV. The Vulgate translation could easily have fueled the evils and brutality of the Inquisitions and the Crusades. At the least, it revealed something of the character of the church of Rome a few centuries after Christ, and of the Vulgate’s translator, “Saint” Jerome, doctor of theology of the same organization.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Psalm 107

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

The sublimest orchestral or choral music, wind or stringed instrument or voice create a hundred harmonies in one sitting. They help us imagine that august and happy day when Christ hands the kingdom back to His Father. The haphazard, spontaneous song of the sparrow and mockingbird, filling the day with song high above the lumbering beasts of the meadow below, or the frogs and crickets singing their off-time canticles at night because the bat cannot do so in our hearing range, all glorify the Creator of music.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

The din of the living rain forest, the deathly stillness of the desert, the wrath of ocean storm or hurricane or tornado; the strength of the giant redwoods, the gentleness of the translucent flower, all testify of God’s power and grace.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

A house burns down and the mother stands across the street too stunned to whimper. As fire engines light up the night sky in blinking red, her two year old turns to her and says, “Mommy! It is Christmas?” His innocence shines out in rare bloom. Suddenly, she realizes her baby is alive and well and beside her. She kneels and holds her toddler tightly and cries now, not for the loss of possessions, but for still have a much greater gift from God. She forsakes her ignorant idolatry and for ever gives her life to God and to her child.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Our Moon is a constant witness to the wisdom and power of God and a voice raised against atheistic unbelief. Without making a peep, it speaks volumes. 400 times smaller than the Sun, yet 400 times closer to Earth, our eye perceives the Moon to be the nighttime twin of its daytime companion and their relationship makes for a perfect eclipse (no where else possible in our Solar system between the planets and their moons). So Adam looked up from his perfect Eden and praised God for His unspeakable gifts in the heavens, and so may we.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Creation beyond this abounding world of ours, a gigantic galaxy of hundreds of millions of suns and worlds and moons, our galactic home is just a speck in an ocean of innumerable other galaxies that spread across the unfathomable cosmos like the sand by the seashore.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

The Creator has His land mines lying everywhere and when we get too close or step right on one, it blows up our little self-centered world!

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For His mercy endureth forever.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Recall Notice

UNITED MANUFACTURERS announces a

MAKER RECALL NOTICE

The Maker of all human beings is recalling all manufactured units, regardless of make, model, or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototypes, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect is termed, “Subsequential Internal Non-Trust,” hereafter written S.I.N.T.

Some symptoms of S.I.N.T. include, but not are limited, to:
1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Rough feeling engine
4. Erratic or sudden violent behavior
5. Sluggishness
6. Inability to be steered
7. Confusion and ultimate catastrophic failure in the onboard computer

United Manufacturers is providing factory-authorized repair and service FREE OF CHARGE to correct the S.I.N.T defect. The Manufacturer offers to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. No additional fee is required on your part except to bring your model to the Repair Technician. Please do so now.

Call your friendly Repair Technician at: 1(800) P~R~A~Y~N~O~W

When you arrive at your appointment, be prepared for your highly competent Repair Technician to kindly and gently help you upload your S.I.N.T. problem through a special procedure which He is very familiar with. Next, He will confidently and happily download the Computer Reconciliation code into the heart of your onboard computer. No matter the extent of your problematic past due to your Subsequential Internal Non-Trust defect your professional Repair Technician will replace it with:
1. A new and upgraded GPS
2. A finely tuned engine
3. Clean vocal emissions
4. Responsive handling
5. Gentle riding
6. Overall complete vehicle control
7. Owner patient with his model and other models on the road

For further details on the use and extent of the the S.I.N.T. repair, please carefully study the operating manual for your new on-board computer, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (B.I.B.L.E.), which you will be provided when you bring in your model, or you may order it now.

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without this freely offered correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. Government laws make this mandatory.

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action before the expiration date will have to be scrapped. Units with the S.I.N.T. defect will not be admitted on public roads beyond the expiration date in order to prevent further endangerment to upgraded vehicles and their operators. Please do not delay your response to the FREE OFFER of this recall.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
United Manufactures

Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice. United Manufactures may be contacted any time via knee mail.