Tag Archives: Bible

God Made Them … Non-Binary?

I went to bed last night listening to Michael Medved’s discussion of the CBS program Gender: The Space Between.

A female caller wanted to know why conservatives just don’t allow people to be themselves. The woman identified herself as a conservative, heterosexual who was engaged to be married to a man.

Medved asked her if she believed that the natural order, by God’s design, was a man and a woman united in holy matrimony for the purpose of having offspring.

“Yes,” she replied, “but …”

Though in agreement that the family unit was the building block of human society, the caller felt that conservatives should not insert themselves into how other people live their lives.

“Attitudes are changing,” she said, “though it does seem that it has happened all of a sudden.”

Medved asked, “So homosexuals are allowed to insert themselves and overturn what is normal?”

Another caller was a man who had a unique problem. His sister told him that she wanted to become his gay brother, and that he needs to tell his children that auntie is now their uncle.

The sister grew up heterosexual. She had boyfriends. In fact, her sexual preference is men, but she feels like she is a male due to the fact that a blood test revealed she has testosterone.

A woman’s ovaries produce small levels of the male hormone, but this does not mean she is a man. Some girls, like this man’s sister, grow up as a tomboy which can often be attributed to the child’s environment. In fact, homosexuality is a symptomatic behavior of inhibited psycho-social development. Treatment, or counseling is what we should be discussing.

The CBS program introduced viewers to the concept of non-binary individuals. Non-binary means that one is neither male nor female — a psychological problem to be sure.

Binary is a word that is commonly used in math and science. In the gay lexicon it refers to people whose sexual identity is separate from their gender identity.

In other words, as one gay activist noted, some girls are born with a penis. A non-binary female explained it this way:

[Sexuality] really doesn’t have anything to do with gender at all. But there is a huge thing with like ‘Well, what, if you don’t identify as a female, then are you gay? Do you not like boys, do you like girls?’ And that’s just a whole other thing. A lot of people are really concerned with what genitalia you have, that’s what they want to know. So there have been instances with relationships that could have worked out perfectly fine if you weren’t non-binary, and after that person found out that you were, everything changed.

Viewers were led to believe that gender identity is not necessarily what is printed on an individual’s birth certificate:

There are dozens of genders, outside of just man or woman, that people can identify with.

What does the Bible say?

He created them male and female … (Genesis 5:2).

I believe that the source of all confusion and deception is Satanic. As it was in the Garden so it is today. What is so troublesome to me is that the daughters of Eve are as susceptible — just like the woman who called Michael Medved.

Not all women, to be sure, but I often hear female callers on talk radio — women who identify themselves as conservative, or Christian — who are permissive of a behavior that is hated by God. Their lack of discernment defies spiritual intuition. It’s as if their emotions and feelings inhibit the voice of the Spirit.

Then I hear the women of daytime television exhorting the sisterhood to deny their husbands conjugal rights if the men harbor incorrect thoughts. People often ask why Adam ate of the fruit. Well, he didn’t want to be denied the fruit of his wife.

Face it men, women decide who reproduce. I was taking a stroll along the beach as two women approached from the opposite direction. One of the women stopped and made eye contact, but her friend tugged on her arm and said, “No, he voted for Trump.”

I didn’t know I had the look.

Medved closed out the segment by asking, “Is this a trend?”

We have noted in recent posts how the Walt Disney Company has not only submitted to, but is creatively promoting the gay agenda. In 1998, Disney CEO Michael Eisner told homosexual activist Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, that 40% of Disney employees were gay. (By the way, the goal of the Human Rights Campaign is to create a genderless society.)

Though only three percent of the population, homosexuals are prominent in those industries that influence social and cultural trends. The agenda is promoted through movies, music, television and the creative arts. Strategic placement has allowed a very few to effectively change attitudes and perceptions — to redefine how people relate on the most intimate level. It totally overthrows thousands of years of human social development.

Is it a trend? In the sense that man’s nature inherently trends towards total depravity I would have to say yes. God has taken His foot off the brake, and in the style of Thelma and Louise, man is heading over the cliff … into the abyss.

Notes:

There are three stages to man’s ultimate destruction: idolatry, unnatural behavior and, finally, total depravity. This was the condition of the antediluvians — those people who lived in the age between the Garden and the Flood. Mankind is at stage two, and entering the final stage before judgment. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, described the fallen condition of man prior to Noah’s Ark:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:21-32).

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Does Jesus Pray for the World?

The short answer is yes and no. Let me ask you this; is Jesus in any hurry to return? What did Jesus pray?

Okay, let’s reboot. Dr. McGee asked the question — what is the Lord’s prayer? As McGee tells the story, two liberal Seminary professors were debating the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-4). One said to the other, “You don’t even know the Lord’s Prayer.”

“Sure, I do,” replied the man. “It goes like this: When I lay me down to sleep …”

The first professor replied, “Well, I’ll be. I didn’t think you knew it.”

People are taught the Lord’s Prayer in first grade Sunday School. You know, forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us

And my Bible even has a headline over the passage that reads, The Lord’s Prayer. Folks, Jesus did not pray this prayer. Jesus had no sins to be forgiven.

Give us this day our daily bread … what did Jesus tell his disciples when they brought him food at the Samarian well?

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, I have food to eat that you do not know about. So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” (John 4:31-33)

Lead us not into temptation … yet Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

So, no, Jesus did not pray this prayer.

Luke tells us that one day Jesus was praying in a certain place, and his disciples came to him seeking to learn how to pray like John’s. Jesus would go into the wilderness, or atop the Mount of Olives where he would pray aloud to the Father in heaven as on the day of Transfiguration.

Rabbis taught their disciples short prayers that could be recited from memory, and it is evident from the text that John instructed his followers how to offer supplication unto YHWH.

In this context, then, Jesus is asked to teach them how to pray. It really should be called the Disciples’ Prayer.

In our last post I mentioned that John made no reference to the Lord’s Prayer, but he does give record of what my Bible calls The High Priestly Prayer.

Jesus Christ is our High Priest. What did he pray about? We find the authentic Lord’s Prayer in John 17.

First, how do you pray at church? At home? In your quiet time? Do you close your eyes and bow your head? The pastor always begins the church service, “With eyes closed and heads bowed …” Why do we do that? Did Jesus meekly approach the throne of grace? How did Christ pray?

John tells us:

and lifting up his eyes to heaven … (John 17:1). Wait, Jesus didn’t close his eyes and bow his head? But, you say, the Son has a different relationship with the Father than do we.

So, how did ancient Jews pray to God?

Psalms 120136 are revered in Judaism as the Great Hallel, or Songs of Ascent. They were sung by Jews who made their annual pilgrimages up to Jerusalem.

Psalm 121 begins, I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! (Psalm 123:1)

And King David cried out,

My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net (Psalm 25:15).

But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! (Psalm 141:8)

The Berean Literal Bible translates this passage from Hebrews,

Therefore we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

A typical Sunday church prayer goes like this:

Lord (long pause), we just want to thank you, Lord, for, Lord, (short pause) bringing us together, Lord, and we pray that you, God, (short pause) would bless us, Lord, as we worship you, God, this morning.

And it continues for another five minutes with even longer pauses and Lord every other word.

What did Jesus say about vain repetition? The Aramaic Bible translates:

And whenever you are praying, you shall not be verbose like the heathen, for they think that they are heard by speaking much (Matthew 6:7).

So, what did Jesus pray?

Our Lord began his prayer seeking the glory of the Father. Then he prayed for his disciples, and concluded with a prayer for all believers.

Returning to my original questions, does Jesus pray for the world, and is he in a hurry to return?

I pray for them (disciples). I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours (John 17:9).

What, Jesus is not praying for the world? In this context, no, he does not pray for the world. But this was before the cross where he did ask the Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34).

For 2000 years the church has anticipated the imminent return of Christ. It may be another 2000 years as it appears that he is no hurry to return and rapture his body.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:15).

There is an unfinished work left to done. Imagine, a world with no Christians. Ellicott wrote this:

The Christian ideal is not freedom from work, but strength to do it; not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome it; not freedom from suffering, but joy in an abiding sense of the Father’s love; not absence from the world, but grace to make the world better for our presence; not holy lives driven from the world, and living apart from it, but holy lives spent in the world and leavening it.

Christians tend to be too sheepish. We need to approach God with confidence. Be relentless like the persistent widow in the parable of Jesus (Luke 18:1-8) so that when he does return he will find a persevering faith.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Give Christmas Back to the Pagans

I am an ancient soul who doesn’t celebrate my birthday. Don’t misunderstand, I give thanks to the LORD always for the precious gift of life, and so I celebrate Him everyday. I am consciously aware when my birthday comes around, and I do give thanks to G-d for giving me another day … another year; but not with cake or presents. The simple joy of living is to be appreciated every day … giving thanks to the Creator always.

Sadly, I think people spend more time checking their text messages than giving thanks to the LORD.

Rabbi Benjamin Blech wrote an article, Jews and Birthdays, wherein he discusses why he doesn’t celebrate his birthday. In ancient Judaism, birthdays were not celebrated. It was a pagan tradition in which the Gentiles would offer gifts to their idols on the birthday of whatever false deity they worshipped.

Candlelit cakes would be offered to an idol as fire and smoke from the candles lifted the people’s wishes for safety and protection to the outer domain of the gods. This tradition was carried over to the celebration of an individual’s birthday who would blow out the candles and offer birthday wishes for their own personal safety.

In the Hebrew Bible there is only one mention of a birthday, and that was when Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker.

Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, wrote in his polemic, Against Apion:

Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the birth of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess ( Book II, Chapter 26).

[Brief digression]

I confess … I am a prohibitionist. This past week two people in my community were killed by drunk drivers. The offenders, as is so often the case, walked away unharmed. One of them had five prior DUI convictions. If I could make the world dry with the snap of a finger but, alas, the Bible does not prohibit drinking.

Scripture does, however, speak rather clearly on the evils of alcohol; and that drunkards will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.

And Bathsheba warned her son, Solomon (Lemuel), that kings should not drink wine, or crave strong drink.

In the B’rit Chadasha, Shaul admonished the Ephesians to not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.

Christian, why do you drink? Or, in this day and age I might ask, why do you smoke dope?

Well, it’s legal and natural. G-d wouldn’t have made it if we weren’t supposed to use it.

So, Eve took a bite of the apple because she saw it was good to eat … I see. That tipsy feeling is not the Spirit of God, but intoxication.

I remember turning 21, and how it was a rite of passage to celebrate by getting drunk. How stupid is that? My peers had been drinking, dropping acid and getting stoned since Junior High so it was sort of anticlimactic, but now they could drink legally. I didn’t do anything on my 21st birthday. Hoorah.

By the way, Jesus turned water into unfermented wine so let’s not go there as I have discussed that on another post.

The Bible is very keen on sobriety. Parties afford tempting opportunities for excess and while ancient Jews did not celebrate birthdays they did celebrate a person’s life upon death.

[End digression]

Now, let’s understand ancient Jewish tradition with regards to the birth and death of the Messiah. The disciples of Jesus did not celebrate his birth. Indeed, the secular version of Christ’s birthday has sold many holiday cards, but it is a fabrication.

There were not three wise men. Most likely it was a caravan of hundreds which is why Herod was so distraught when they arrived in Jerusalem looking for the King of the Jews. King Herod feared an insurrection which is why he ordered the death of all Jewish babies (boys) under the age of two.

The wise men, who most likely were Jewish descendants of the Babylonian exile, found Mary and her child not in a manger, but a house. Orthodox teaching is that the wise men were Gentiles from the East. Why do I say they were Jewish? Recall the Babylonian exile about five centuries before Christ (BC). Ezekiel and Daniel were among the thousands deported. Remember that Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and was made Prime Minister of the province (and chief over all the wise men).

Most of the Jews who were exiled remained in Babylon where they received prophetic revelation from Daniel particularly with reference to the 70 weeks, or 490 years to the coming of the Mashiac.

The wise men, Jewish disciples of the prophet Daniel, embarked on a momentous journey based on the revelation of G-d of the impending birth of Messiah whose star charted a course to the Holy Land.

In Judaism, as Rabbi Blech notes, people have more than one birthday — the day they are born, and the day they become righteous. The second birth is more significant — profoundly so.

What did Jesus tell Nicodemus?

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

Is this all starting to make sense?

Jewish disciples of Christ did not celebrate his birthday for the reasons so noted. It wasn’t until the 4th century when Emperor Constantine celebrated the first Christmas on December 25, 336 AD. Shortly, thereafter, Pope Julius I made it an official church holy day.

I mentioned earlier that ancient Jews did celebrate a person’s life at death. How did Jesus ask us to remember him?

In his letter to the assembly at Corinth, Shaul wrote of the Lord’s Supper:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Video of our community holiday parade is posted on the YouTube channel, and the organizers have pretty much succeeded in taking Christ out of Christmas. Only two local churches participated — the Lutheran, and Episcopalian (whose pastor grabbed the microphone and sang Joy to the World which, by the way, is not a song about Christ’s birth, but his Second Coming).

Oh, how the traditions of men defile everything that is holy and true. It doesn’t help that Christians (who don’t know the Hebrew roots of their faith) have taken the Jew out of Jesus.

I don’t get caught up in the perennial debate — taking Christ out of Christmas — when the Yule season was a pagan celebration long before Messiah was born. If anything, Christmas adopted the bacchanal celebration of the winter festival; and it has, for centuries, brought reproach and contempt to that which a Christian should be remembering, and that is the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach.

All else is vanity, my brothers.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Who Wrote the Gospels?

Seminary can be hazardous to your faith. Author and speaker Bart Ehrman attended seminary, and became an agnostic. He is the darling of secular humanists who buy his books; and university intelligentsia who bow before his seat as the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Educated at Princeton Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, Ehrman is a prolific writer and New York Times best-selling author. Forged, published in 2011, claims that the Gospels were not written by their designated authors, but anonymous writers many years removed from the actual events.

Ehrman makes simplistic claims like his assertion that the genealogies found in Matthew and Luke are glaring examples of the Bible’s contradictions.

Who can argue with a distinguished professor?

I will say that Ehrman is correct on this point — the genealogies do differ, but whether that is a contradiction we shall examine in a moment.

While researching Ehrman’s contentions I found a rather lengthy article defending his bullet points. Written by a doctoral student, the 36,000 word essay is an exhausting treatise that begins with a false premise — that the Gospels were forged.

The argument goes that the Gospels were written no earlier than 40 years after the fact — that they were not firsthand, eyewitness accounts, but were composed by anonymous authors who referenced a common source document known only as “Q”. Wasn’t he an enigmatic villain on Star Trek?

However, there is no fragmentary evidence of a mysterious “Q” document. It is simply assumed by academicians to have existed — much like the spark that ignited the Big Bang.

It is argued that the disciples were illiterate and could not have penned Greek manuscripts. Matthew was a tax collector so it’s a given that he was multilingual — Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin (since Rome conducted civic business in Latin). Luke, the physician, was surely educated in the language arts. Alexander the Great had conquered Palestine 300 years before the birth of Christ, and though he permitted a measure of autonomy with regards to the priesthood, the general public was immersed in the Hellenization of Greek language and culture. It is indefensible to suggest that the New Testament writers were illiterate. But these are the arguments by which the left deceives many — sort of like when they say that uneducated people voted for Trump. How often does common sense trump a college education?

Some skeptics will agree that Luke-Acts was probably composed as one book, but it was written late in the first century, or early in the second century; and they will say that Luke, whom Paul wrote of in Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11 and Philemon 24 is not the same Luke. As this position is hard to defend you will find arguments that the three cited books were not authentic to Paul, but forged by pseudonymous authors.

As far as dating the Gospels there are no extant copies absent authorship citation. For example, the oldest manuscript of Luke is inscribed The Gospel According to Luke. Skeptics will argue that the original autographs had no authorship citation, but like the “Q” document they cannot provide fragmentary evidence.

It’s like saying the earth is flat, or man never went to the moon. You can make any number of claims, but without evidence …

That Luke-Acts, for example, was written late and, therefore, could not have been penned by the physician, all we need do is examine the internal evidence. The Book of Acts closes with Paul imprisoned in Rome — alive and well, writing letters and receiving guests (Acts 28:30).

We know that Nero had Paul beheaded, and we know, too, that Nero committed suicide on June 9, 68 AD — the first Roman emperor to take his own life.

So, that means Paul was executed before 68 AD, and Luke-Acts was written sometime earlier. I believe that the whole of New Testament was written before 70 AD for similar reasons. There is not one reference, after the fact, of the most catastrophic event — the Apocalypse of 70 AD that brought a climatic end to the Jewish age.

Skeptics need to posit a late-date for the Gospels, in particular, because of the prophecy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:2. Agnostics have to be able to discredit the authority of Jesus Christ so it is essential that they sow doubt as to the authorship and dating of the New Testament canon. If written late, the skeptics could argue that Jesus was a false prophet.

In the remainder of this post I will present my counterpoints to Ehrman’s specific claims against the Gospel record.

Ehrman, like many of his institutional colleagues, refutes a whole index of Christian orthodoxy even disputing that Christ was born in Bethlehem:

Only in this Gospel (Luke) do Joseph and Mary make a trip from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to register for a census when “the whole world” had to be enrolled under Caesar Augustus. The whole world? Luke must mean “the whole Roman Empire.” But even that cannot be right, historically. We have good documentation about the reign of Caesar Augustus, and there never was a census of his entire empire. Let alone one in which people had to register in their ancestral home. In this account Joseph and Mary need to register in Bethlehem (which is why Jesus is born there) because Joseph is descended from King David, who came from Bethlehem.

Ehrman contends that the Gospel accounts recorded in Matthew and Luke are full of irreconcilable contradictions. It is hard to argue with a learned professor unless you are well enough studied to know that his contentions are false.

Archaeology discredits the assertion that there was no census under Caesar Augustus. Two unearthed bronze plaques titled the Acts of Augustus reveal that there were, in fact, three census registrations during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD).

One need only refer to the writings of Roman historian Tacitus and Jewish historian Josephus to corroborate the historical account.

More contentious is Ehrman’s dismissal of the genealogies as recorded in Matthew and Luke. Here we need keen discernment of scriptural context and meaning. Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience while Luke was writing to a Gentile audience.

Luke’s genealogy traces backwards from Jesus to Adam for the purpose of conveying to the Gentiles that the Christ was born for all people. Matthew’s record goes forward from Abraham to Jesus for the purpose of revealing to the Jews that Christ was their Messiah born of the seed of David.

From Abraham to David, the gospel records concur; but after David the genealogies diverge substantially with only Zerubbabel and Shealtiel appearing in both lists. This should not sow doubt, however, but reveal a greater understanding of the inspired Word of God in context of the culture and age in which the Bible was written.

When we look carefully at the two genealogies it is markedly clear that Matthew is chronicling the life of Joseph while Luke is highlighting the ancestry of Mary. Indeed, the record splits at David with Matthew’s genealogy tracing forward through David’s son Solomon while Luke records the ancestry through David’s son Nathan. Clearly, there are two ancestral lines recorded — one for Joseph and the other for Mary thus proving that Jesus Christ had both legal claim and birthright to the throne of David.

That should be sufficient to end the discussion except that Joseph is listed in both records due only to Roman custom and tradition (remember that Luke is writing to Gentiles) that dictates the mother’s ancestry be traced through her husband (thus Luke writes):

… Jesus, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Heli (Mary’s father) … (Lk 3:23).

Luke is recognizing that Joseph — as was supposed — was not the biological father of Jesus, but the son-in-law of Mary’s father Eli for it was custom and tradition for a son-in-law to have the recognition and status of a natural son through whom the mother’s genealogy is recorded.

We might point out that Luke was a meticulous historian and keeper of records. It is absurd to suggest that he would author a Gospel account that was factually inconsistent, or even contradictory to the synoptic testimonies — or that the church fathers would canonize books that were so disagreeable with historical records.

Agnostics take issue with the lineage of Zerubbabel (son of Shealtiel) in that both names appear in the post-Davidic genealogies. Zerubbabel was the grandson of outcast Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) whom God placed a curse upon during the Babylonian exile — no man of his descendants will prosper, sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah (Jer 22:30).

How, then, is it possible that Christ has legal claim to the throne of David since Joseph was a descendant of the cursed Jeconiah? The simple answer is that Christ was not of the natural bloodline of Joseph by Jeconiah since He was miraculously conceived through the virgin Mary, but we then have the problem that Zerubbabel is also an ancestor of Mary.

The answer to that can be found in the Book of Haggai. The word of the LORD came to the prophet instructing him to tell Zerubbabel (who was governor of Judah upon the return from exile):

I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant, and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you (Hag 2:23).

The LORD explicitly conferred authority upon Zerubbabel, and renewed the covenant line of David which had been removed from Jeconiah, but now resumed through both Mary and Joseph thus confirming that the baby Jesus is the Christ of both Jew and Greek.

But how could the Messiah descend from an illegitimate ancestor? Recall that Judah had relations with his daughter-in-law, Tamar, who gave birth to Perez and Zerah (Genesis 38). Now look carefully at Matthew’s record:

Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king (Mt 1:3-6).

The law is given in Deuteronomy that no illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD. That’s a pretty strong case that the agnostics lay charge against the authority of Jesus Christ. However, let’s examine the complete text:

No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, until the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD (Dt 23:2).

Now scroll up and count the highlighted names in Matthew’s record and note how many generations passed from Perez to King David — ten generations. Our God is an awesome God — faithful and true.

In this season I would encourage you to remain faithful and true to Him; and be always prepared to give an answer to those who doubt.

Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Lk 2:10-11).

Suggested reading: Newsweek vs. the New Testament

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Feature Film: The Atheist Delusion

Ken Ham recently premiered Ray Comfort’s The Atheist Delusion at the Ark Encounter. The producers of this 2016 film summarized:

Having to prove the existence of God to an atheist is like having to prove the existence of the sun at noon on a clear day. Yet millions are embracing the foolishness of atheism. The Atheist Delusion pulls back the curtain and reveals what is going on in the mind of those who deny the obvious. It introduces you to a number of atheists who you will follow as they go where the evidence leads, find a roadblock, and enter into a place of honesty that is rarely seen on film.

Ken Ham said after the screening:

I introduced the film by talking about our Ark, which is the largest timber-frame structure in the world. In many ways we built the Ark for the same reason that Ray and his team made The Atheist Delusion: to teach apologetics to people who don’t know how to defend the Word of God and to share the gospel with skeptics and unbelievers.

Voted Best Science Film at the 2016 International Christian Film Festival, the movie runs about 62 minutes so plan to schedule an hour when you can sit and watch. (The HD video is stunning.)

Be blessed, and thank you for visiting Messiah Gate.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Religion and Politics (4)

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In this series on religion and politics we have examined the relationship of church and state with regards to a variety of social and cultural issues, and what should be the Christian response. In this article I would like to explore another hot-button issue — immigration, or more specifically illegal immigration.

This is an emotionally charged debate that is both political and scriptural. So, what should a Christian’s attitude be towards immigrants who are not in the country legally? What does the Bible say? Well, the Old Testament has a lot to say about aliens in the land, and national sovereignty. The church hierarchy (Catholic and Protestant) has been supportive of not only immigration reform, but the establishment of sanctuary cities. The laity (church members), on the other hand, are more inclined to favor border control and enforcement.

Liberals are skilled at reframing the debate with regards to complex issues. For example, abortion becomes a debate over women’s rights; homosexual behavior becomes a debate over civil rights (not the same thing, by the way); and the flow of illegal immigrants across the border becomes a debate about undocumented workers. The common refrain is this, “There are no illegal people.”

However, we must not lose sight of the underlying fact that this problem is the result of millions of foreign citizens violating the national sovereignty of the United States. There are 11 million lawbreakers who are in this country illegally. That is the problem.

From the left I have heard charges of racism leveled against people who support border enforcement. How is it that territorial integrity and border security are a racial issue? Is Mexico racist for defending its southern border? Did you know that it’s a felony to illegally enter Mexico? How often have you seen Mexican flags being waved at immigration protests in the United States? You will never see similar demonstrations — Nicaraguans waving their national flag — to protest immigration policy in Mexico. It’s against the law.

Still, the Bible is very clear as to how we should treat strangers in our land.

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Should we not show compassion, mercy and love to all people — even to those who are undocumented? Are we not commanded to love our neighbor? Who, then, is our neighbor? Does mercy trump the law? Grace towards one another, compassion for other people, loving God and your neighbor — all of these are more important than the law, or religion.

Quoting Hosea 6:6 our Lord said,

If only you had known the meaning of ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent (Matthew 12:7).

In a speech on immigration (November 20, 2014), President Obama tugged on the nation’s heartstrings by framing the debate in a very personal and emotional way. In closing remarks he alluded to the Bible:

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.

The President of the United States quoting the Bible? Where was the uproar, protest and outrage from the ACLU? Why didn’t the liberal media charge the President with violating the principle of separation of church and state?

I highly recommend that you read The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible (Crossway, 2009) by James K. Hoffmeier, Professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern Archaeology at Trinity International University. In his book, Professor Hoffmeier addresses this issue from a Biblical world view:

Secularists and liberals, both political and religious, are typically loath to consult the Bible when it comes to matters of public policy. So it is somewhat surprising that in the current debate about the status of illegal immigrants, the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is regularly cited in defense of the illegal. [1]

Stephen Steinlight, an American Jew, testified before Congress on May 22, 2007. As a Senior Policy Analyst (Center for Immigration Studies), he appeared before the House Subcommittee on Immigration:

My religious values are rooted in Judaism’s prophetic tradition (of justice). The millions that have entered America unlawfully and broken countless laws to remain traduce (malign) these principles.

Since the devil can quote Scripture, it’s not surprising how frequently faith representatives supporting immigration bills employ it — or, rather — abuse it — obsessing on passages from the Hebrew Bible, especially Leviticus 19. This includes the Jewish Establishment, which surveys show does not speak for America’s Jews. Ordinary Jews, like most Americans, are not xenophobes, but draw a bright line between legal and illegal immigration.

Steinlight told Congress that we cannot quote the Hebrew Bible to defend illegal immigration, and he finished his remarks by giving the politicians a lesson in Hebrew. For example, the Hebrew word for sojourner, alien or stranger (גֵּ֖ר, ger) is defined by its contextual usage. As such, we understand the word stranger in terms of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt. Did Israel dwell in Egypt as illegal immigrants? No, they entered legally with the permission of Pharaoh.

So, yes, we have an obligation to love all people, but we cannot overlook a greater sin that 11 million aliens are living here illegally. Does not the United States government have the responsibility to secure its borders? In fact, God established national boundaries and ordained government to exercise appointed sovereignty.

If we’re going to quote Scripture then let’s have a look at Proverbs 6:30–31:

People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house.

Who will pay the cost of providing medical care, education, and social services to millions of illegal residents? Several major studies present conflicting assessments regarding the cost of illegal immigration.

Prestigious liberal policy analysis groups such as California’s Rand Corporation and the Washington-based Urban Institute and Carnegie Endowment echoed collaborating economists within the Department of Labor and the Council of Economic Advisors.

Some of these studies, though professing immigration to be an excellent investment, were ambiguous in their actual data. Studies by the Urban Institute and Rand of immigration in California acknowledged that the taxes paid by their study populations of Mexican immigrants fell short of the state and county services provided them. The Urban Institute also found that Mexican immigrants were “substitutes” for low-skilled U.S. workers, particularly minorities, but ignored the fiscal costs of the consequent joblessness. [2]

Hospitals and emergency rooms across the Southwest, and in my community, have been forced to close because they could not bear the cost of providing medical care to illegal immigrants. The penal system, at the state and Federal level, is also heavily burdened by the tens of thousands of undocumented inmates.

In the decade following 9/11, the United States spent $90 billion dollars to secure the border, but it did not stop the flow of illegals and drugs. Will Mexico pay that bill? Will the 11 million who got across pay that bill? Will the babies born to illegal parents pay the bill?

Thousands of undocumented, pregnant women cross the border every year to deliver their babies. They do so to exploit the legal provision of the 14th Amendment which automatically grants citizenship to babies born in the United States. These anchor babies then establish the parent’s legal right to stay in the country. According to the Pew Research Center, illegal immigrants make up 4% of the population, but their share of births is higher than the native residents.

What does that mean? That illegal immigrants are having more babies than native-born citizens. This will profoundly shape the cultural identity of the United States in the decades following. Cheech Marin appeared on a local news program and quipped, “I’d like to see America go back to Mexico.”

As Christians, we MUST be loving and compassionate people, but the alien invasion is totally out of context with what the Bible teaches regarding submission to ordained authority. Of course, the attitude of undocumented foreign nationals is to dismiss the rule of law as if it doesn’t apply to them. This is an egregious violation of our national sovereignty.

This problem isn’t limited to human trafficking. According to the Office of National Drug Control, 660,000 pounds of cocaine, 44,000 pounds of heroin, and 220,000 pounds of methamphetamine are smuggled across the border every year. The Justice Department determined that the total cost of illicit drugs — medical, judicial, and economic — is $193 billion dollars per year. [Source]

I’m going to say this as plainly as I can:

Mexico poses a national security threat to the United States.

In the end, this is a Mexican problem. The Mexican government has failed to be compassionate towards its own people, and God will judge them rightly.

To the liberals in this country who favor granting amnesty — this will only encourage another ten million to cross the border. Republicans (who wanted cheap labor), and Democrats (who wanted cheap votes) should be handed their pink slip for failing to uphold an oath to protect this nation.

From 1880 to 1920 there was a massive influx of European immigrants into the United States. Through Ellis Island, 12 million immigrants were legally and medically processed. The standards at Ellis Island were these: No entry if you were contagious, had a criminal record, or were qualified only for contract labor. These rules were enforced in consideration of public health, public safety and jobs. Think about that the next time you hear someone declare of illegals, “They’re only taking jobs Americans don’t want.” In fact, illegal immigrants effect downward pressure on wages; and steal opportunity from the poorest, least-educated, native citizen.

In his speech, President Obama noted a young woman named Astrid Silva who was brought to America when she was four years-old. She learned English watching PBS, and is now a college student working on her third degree.

Then, did you hear the story of the Texas Valedictorian who announced in her commencement speech that she is an illegal immigrant? She blamed the United States that her family has had to live in fear. Oh, and she received a full scholarship to attend Yale University. The President said in his remarks that no one should be allowed to cut in line and receive favorable treatment. I am a citizen of this country, and I never had the opportunity to attend Yale — nor have thousands of distressed American youth trapped in the sinking poverty of our inner cities.

Where is the compassion? Where is the love for our fellow citizens?

What the President didn’t address in his speech was the darker side of this story. Former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams told Fox News there is an illegal immigrant crime wave of staggering proportions.

The outrage continues over the killing of San Francisco resident, Kathryn Steinle, who was murdered by an illegal immigrant who should have been deported except for the fact that San Francisco has declared itself to be a sanctuary city.

Catholic Bishops who have supported safe-havens for illegal immigrants will cite the Bible as the authority for the establishment of sanctuary cities.

(The lesson here is, never let a Catholic interpret the Hebrew Bible.)

In the Torah there were instructions to establish six sanctuary cities — three on either side of the Jordan River — Golan, Ramoth, and Bosor, on the east, and Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron on the west. These were Levitical towns where a person accused of involuntary manslaughter — not a capital crime — could flee from certain death at the hands of avenging relatives.

The Bible makes no other provision in this regard.

Crime statistics reveal that deportees most likely will return again. One detainee, after he had been caught the third time said, “The United States is stupid.”

On a personal note, I was coming home late one night — it was after midnight — and I had just latched the door when someone tried to force their way in. I heard no one coming up the stairs behind me so I think this person was hiding in the utility closet outside my door.

I was scared to death because they were determined to force their way into my apartment. I banged on the door to scare them away, but they just pushed harder. My neighbor downstairs was awakened by the commotion, and he stepped outside to see what it was all about. The would-be intruder ran downstairs and charged my neighbor who hurried back inside.

A woman in the neighborhood was coming home, and saw the intruder running down the street. She recognized him as a convicted rapist, and called the police. The man, a Mexican national, had been deported three times in addition to serving a prison sentence on the rape charge. He was apprehended the next day.

I think he wanted to kill me, but by the grace of God I am here to give testimony of an even greater love and compassion — that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was resurrected on the third day, and will return in triumph and glory taking vengeance on those who know Him not. (That should upset the hippies who believe in a flower crowned, gentle Jesus.)

Finally, where is our love and compassion for our fellow citizens who are being victimized by the criminal element that regularly crosses our border? Where is our love and compassion for the families whose loved one was killed by a drunk driver who has thrice been deported? Where is the love and compassion for the parents whose child’s life was sacrificed to the Mexican drug lords?

It is Mexico that fails the Biblical litmus test. The United States, as the aggrieved party, has been more than hospitable in demonstrating Christian charity.

Notes:

1. The Use and Abuse of the Bible in the Immigration Debate, James K. Hoffmeier, Center for Immigration Studies, Dec. 2011.

2. The Costs of Immigration, Rosemary Jenks, John L. Martin, David Simcox, Center for Immigration Studies,  September 1994.

Related:

Religion and Politics (3)

Religion and Politics (2)

Religion and Politics

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Healing — Rightly Dividing the Word

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We can’t make the Bible say what we desire it to say. We can’t interpret it according to our feelings, or make it conform to worldly standards. And we most definitely cannot build a church based on the dogma and creed of any denomination or tradition of men. With that in mind we shall examine more closely two verses in the B’rit Chadasha (New Testament) that seem to be saying the same thing. But are they?

The preacher on TCT invites the viewer to touch their television screen as he reads this verse from 1 Peter 2:24 …

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Have you ever reached out to touch the screen believing that you’ll be healed? I am reminded of the story in Numbers 21:8 when YHWH commands Moshe to fashion a bronze serpent, attach it to a pole, and when anyone is bitten by a snake if they look upon the bronze image they will live.

Of course, it is not the serpent on a pole that heals, but the power of God through faith. It came to pass the children of God, believing there was power in the healing pole, began to idolize the bronze serpent. Over the next 430 years — until the reign of Hezekiah — they burnt incense and bowed in worship to what Moshe had created. Their behavior was so blasphemous that the king took the pole and broke it in pieces (2 Kings 18:4).

If you believe that touching your television screen will heal you then may I suggest that you follow the example of King Hezekiah.

This is what happens when tradition — based on our feelings — becomes the foundation of church doctrine. If left unchecked we risk the danger of falling into heresy and condemnation. I mentioned last time that I was banned from a Christian blog because I disagreed with the author’s interpretation of 1 Peter 2:24. They hold to the feel-good proposition that the apostle was speaking of physical healing while I argued that he was referring to spiritual healing. Biblical scholars uniformly agree with the latter interpretation (spiritual) while the modern evangelical church espouses the former (physical).

A similar verse — one that is more specific to physical healing — can be found in Matthew 8:17 …

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.”

Isn’t that what Peter said? Well, no. In context, Peter is speaking of our sin condition — that Jesus bore our sins so that we would die to sin. Throughout the Bible sin is classified as a disease for which there is only one cure … the blood of Jesus Christ.

Now, the apostles (Peter and Matthew) are both quoting Isaiah.

However …

Peter is citing Isaiah 53:5 …

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

Bible commentators agree with the Rabbin that this is, in fact, a reference to spiritual healing.

Albert Barnes:

We are healed – literally, it is healed to us; or healing has happened to us. The healing here referred to is spiritual healing, or healing from sin. Pardon of sin, and restoration to the favor of God, are not unfrequently represented as an act of healing. [1]

John Gill:

Sin is a disease belonging to all men, a natural, hereditary, nauseous, and incurable one, but by the blood of Christ; forgiving sin is a healing of this disease; and this is to be had, and in no other way, than through the stripes and wounds, the blood and sacrifice, of the Son of God. [2]

The LORD did not lay our infirmity upon the scourged Christ, but our iniquity (Isaiah 53:6).

Matthew, in quoting the prophet, is making reference to physical healing. Both Hebrew and Greek scholars agree on this point, and it has so been taught by the Rabbin:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Griefs (חלי, chăliy) does not refer to sins, but means literally sickness and disease. So, faith healers would be better served to quote from Mattityahu (מתיו) rather than Kephas (פיטר). Why don’t they? Because Matthew is quite clear that this prophesy of Yesha’yahu (יְשַׁעְיָהוּ) was fulfilled by Yeshua HaMashiach.

We don’t know how many people Jesus healed — only that it was multitudes. But the early church recognized that the Christ in their midst was the present fulfillment of the law and prophets. Messiah conferred the power of healing upon His apostles who performed these acts of miracles — even raising the dead — until the last of the twelve (John) passed from life to death.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee:

He says here, He’s suffering now the sins of the world who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). Now, He’s no example to us here. You and I can’t suffer for our own sins let alone the sins of the world, but now he’s talking about redemption. You say, “How do you know?” Well, let’s keep reading here, in His own body on the tree that we being dead to sins  — that was our condition — should live unto righteousness by whose stripes we are healed. Now, healed of what? And I notice faith healers never use this verse, and rightly so because whose stripes you’re healed it’s evident who he’s talking about. He says we were dead in sins. We were absolutely dead and we should live now unto righteousness by whose stripes we’re healed. Healed of what? Of sin, friends. He’s the great healer. I’ll agree with that, but the great healer heals of sin and no human position can handle that problem. [3]

In McGee’s day faith healers did not allude to this verse. It has since been wrongly divided by charismatic evangelicals.

Let me be clear — God still heals by divine will and authority. But when you touch your television screen (by faith), and are not healed, be alert to the Evil One who might steal your hope.

Take your eyes off the bronze serpent and focus on the Christ.

Credits:

1. Notes on the Old Testament, Albert Barnes, (London, Blackie & Son, 1884).

2. An Exposition of the Old Testament, John Gill, (6 vols., 1748-63).

3. Commentary on 1 Peter, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible (Five-Year Study).

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