Some Shade of Brown

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26)

Recently, a deacon brother and I were discussing the Hispanic ministry of our church. He mentioned that there were several married couples from different South American countries. For example, the wife might be from Venezuela and the husband from Peru. I asked if there were any in the country illegally, and he said that most members of our Hispanic mission were here legally, but some were not. I commented on how sad it would be if married couples from different South American countries were here illegally and got deported, each to their country of origin. Worse yet, what if they had children born here in the United States? How tragic that would be! Talk about breaking up of families!

Our hearts ache for those caught in that situation. We sympathize as we think about our own families and consider how we would feel if we were torn away from our loved ones. However, that happens thousands of times a day. Families are torn apart daily through imprisonments, divorce, death, and deportation. Yet deportation of illegal aliens, a.k.a., “undocumented immigrants,” seems to garner all the headlines.

The Demoncrat (misspelled on purpose) Party labels President Trump as a racist for wanting to build a barrier to abate the influx of illegal entries through our southern border. In doing so, they hope to incite the American Hispanic population to action against the President. The ultimate goal of their nefarious scheme is to “import” a throng of needy people, provide them with housing, healthcare, education (i.e., indoctrination), and basic income in order to raise a generation of loyal voters for the Demoncrat Party. Using a certain class of people for one’s own gain seems more racist than Donald J. Trump wanting to build a border wall for the purpose of national security. Of the top ten countries of origin for illegal aliens, Mexico provides over 50% of the invaders.[1] However, Mexico is not a “race;” it is a nation, and, like the United States, its population is composed of people from all over the world – Europe, Asia, Africa, and “Native Americans.” All Mexicans, like Americans, are some shade of brown.

The claim that securing our southern border is racist is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is not only Mexicans that violate our sovereign border. Many come from nations hostile to the United States, and it just so happens that the porous border between the United States and Mexico provides the path of least resistance.

The Demoncrat may consider that point and suggest that a border wall is racist because it presents an attempt to prevent “people of color” from entering the United States. I get so sick of anyone using the “race card” to bludgeon any opponent for any perceived offense. It does not matter what the conflict, when reason and logic fail, play the race card.

I was mildly amused earlier this week when Speaker Pelosi attempted to reign in her maverick freshmen congressmen (women) for making controversial “tweets.”[2] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) immediately accused the Speaker of racism for picking on the four young women “of color.” What I find amusing is that the race card is the Demoncrats’ favorite weapon to wield against their opponents and here AOC employs it against her boss! It’s funny!

Alright! Let’s stop all of this right now! All God’s chil’en are “of color.” First of all, white is the reflection of all colors of the light spectrum. Black is the absorption of all colors and the reflection of none. In other words, black is no color at all. Secondly, no human, not even an albino, is perfectly white; neither does the human exist that is perfectly black. All humans bear the color of the dust from which we were formed.[3]

All humans are some shade of brown. There exists only one race – the human race. The Bible recognizes nations, people, and tongues from the time God scattered the people throughout the earth from the Tower of Babel,[4] He set the boundaries of their habitation. Borders are God’s idea, and God is not racist.

Any time man goes against God’s design, tragedy follows. People within their borders develop their own cultures, their own way of looking at the world, and their own physical features. However, when they breach their borders and encroach upon foreign lands, they will experience conflict with the culture of the land which they invaded. To flourish in the new land, they must assimilate with the new culture or isolate themselves and remain in conflict. The latter benefits neither the immigrant nor the land to which they immigrate.

Historically, the United States has welcomed immigrants from other lands. Every American’s roots extend to other lands. Even “Native Americans” (I hate that term) migrated to this land from elsewhere, so, really, they have no special claim. What makes Americans American is the common culture that we share. Every immigrant from the past carried the desire with them to become American. If they wanted to remain British, Irish, French, Italian, Japanese, or what-have-you, they would have remained in their country of origin. But they came to America, learned American English, adopted the American way of dress, and accepted American music. They blended into the American culture and the United States became the “melting pot” of the world.

No more! People come here from all over the world seeking “asylum” yet refusing to give up their ties to the “old world.” They isolate themselves in communities of like culture. They continue to dress like they did in the countries from which they came. Many reject the American way of life and American law and insist that their law, regardless of how oppressive, be respected and followed even insisting that the American culture conform to accommodate theirs. These do not want to be American, they only want to live in America and reap the benefits.

If I am offended by them, it is not because their skin is browner than mine. I am offended because they reject my country, and they find my God offensive. That is not racism. If anything, it is nationalism. President Trump is a nationalist, not a racist.

The Demoncrats favor open borders. Their interest is not for the nation. They favor the fragmentation of our culture and society. They pit one ethnic group against another. They strive for division – black against white, poor against rich, law against the lawless. Their goal is to make the United States of America the Divided States of America, and when they achieve that goal, they will be positioned to rule. It is the Socialist/Communist strategy to gain totalitarian control.

Circling back to the issue of illegal aliens and the breakup of families due to deportation, there was a news story this week about an illegal alien pleading her case before Congress. This woman, who testified in Spanish before Congress, was being deported due to her illegal status. She resided in this country illegally for several years. She married an American man and had several children by him born here in the United States. Now she was caught and pleaded for mercy. I apologize for my lack of sympathy, but she broke our law by entering illegally. I do not know if she crossed our southern border illegally or overstayed her visa, either way, she broke the law. She attempted to circumvent the law by marrying an American man and giving birth to his children in the United States. In all that time, she did not attempt to gain legal status (options do exist for such cases), nor did she bother to learn the language. Now she is being deported and expects special pleading. She broke the law!

Demoncrats take advantage of cases like this to play on our emotions. However, emotions should not play a part in situations such as this. At one extreme, our country would be overrun with “asylum seekers” because we pity their desperate state. At the other extreme, violence could erupt from vigilante groups taking the law into their own hands to defend our borders.

Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason. The law must be upheld without prejudice and without emotion. If the law is flawed then the law should be changed, but in the meantime, it must be upheld. The Demoncrats that advocate for open borders, rather than wasting time litigating against the President, should spend their time rectifying the immigration issue in a way that suits them. But they are hypocrites. They do not want to change the law; they just want to prevent the President from enforcing it.

My father came into this country illegally from Mexico under an assumed name at the age of 18. He met and married my mother and became a Christian. About the time I came along his conscience started to bother him knowing that as a Christian he was responsible to obey the laws of man as well as the laws of God.[5] He returned to Mexico and served two years in the Mexican army to fulfill his obligation to that country. In the meantime, he worked on gaining legal entry into the United States. For years he carried a “green card” and diligently kept his status current. He finally became a citizen late in life. On return from one of our trips to Mexico, I can still recall the smile on my father’s face and the pride in his voice when he answered, “American citizen” to the Border Patrol officer at the crossing. He was not Mexican anymore. He was, “American citizen!” Even before that, my father stood with pride at the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of our National Anthem, and he would slap us on the back of the head if we forgot to remove our cap when the American flag passed by during a parade.

So, I find it very difficult to sympathize with illegal invaders who suffer the consequences of their lawbreaking. There is a thing called responsibility, and all rational adults should understand what that word entails. I also find it very difficult to sympathize with illegal invaders who protest our immigration laws while trampling the American flag and waving the flag of their country of origin. It has nothing to do with race. It IS all about nationalism, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is no black or white. We are all some shade of brown and we are all created in God’s image.[6] But if you hate America and everything for which America stands, please do us all a favor and go back to the homeland you love so much. If you want to stay in America, then get to know and love America. Learn her real history, her form of government, her language, and her culture. Be an American.

Notes:


[1]  “Demographics of Immigrants in the United States Illegally” – https://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000845

[2]  “Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez clash drags on, threatening Democratic unity” – https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/11/nancy-pelosi-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-feud-1407292

[3]  Genesis 2:7

[4]  Genesis 11:1-9

[5]  Romans 13:1-7

[6]  Genesis 1:26-27

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Politics, Random Musings, Theology

Squirrel

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)

Oh! He is so smart! And persistent. And the girth of his plump furry body testifies to the success of his thieving ways!

He showed up at my bird feeder early this spring. I sicced Chico, our “chug,” on him a couple of times, but that only deterred him as long as Chico patrolled the back yard. Once Chico returned inside, he was at it again.

I shooed him off a couple of times, but he never went far. As soon as I went into the house, he was at the bird feeder again. So I thought maybe I should go have a talk with him to see if we could come to an agreement. The next time he showed up I walked up to him slowly in a non-threatening way. When I got within four feet of him, he hopped off the feeder and perched on the fence to see what I would do.

I looked him in the eye and spoke softly. “Hey, Squirrel. I put this seed out for birds, not for squirrels. If I wanted to feed you and your buddies, I would have made it more convenient for you. As it is, you have managed to outwit all the obstacles I’ve employed to keep you off of this feeder. I appreciate your cunning, but I would appreciate it more if you stopped getting fat on the seed I put out for the birds.”

He just stared me, as if to say, “What do you plan to do about it?” I could see that reasoning would get me nowhere with this critter. So, I waved my arms and ordered, “Get out of here, Squirrel!” He left but came back about ten minutes later. That’s it! I dug up my old pellet pistol, loaded it with a fresh CO2 cartridge, and filled the magazine with lead pellets. I went to the back door and slowly walked to a place where I could get a clear shot. Squirrel acknowledged me but kept on eating. I took careful aim and slowly squeezed the trigger. Poof! Nothing happened. Squirrel kept eating. I squeezed the trigger again. Poof! Again, nothing happened. I opened the firing chamber and found that my rounds were jamming in the magazine. This was not the first time this pistol failed me. Now I was more determined to get that pesky squirrel.

Online, I found a nice Glock ™ CO2 pistol. It looks exactly like a regular Glock 40 caliber semi-auto, but it fires pellets rather than bullets. So I ordered the Glock and within a couple of days, I was ready to face Squirrel again. When my package arrived, I went straight to the garage where I keep my “ammo” and picked up the container of pellets to load the magazine. This pistol holds 16 rounds! Eagerly, I pulled out the magazine on the Glock and went to load it. ARG! My pellets did not fit the fill hole in the magazine. This pistol required .177 caliber steel BBs! I placed another online order for BBs and waited another two days. In the meantime, I kept Chico busy chasing away Mr. Squirrel.

When the BBs arrived, I loaded up my Glock and waited. Sure enough, thieving Mr. Squirrel showed up at my bird feeder again. This time I was ready. I stepped outside. Squirrel just looked at me. I took careful aim, squeezed the trigger, and NOTHING! What? The pistol was on safety. Squirrel kept eating. Okay. Safety off, aim, fire! POW! The discharge sounded almost like a .22. The BB found its target and Squirrel didn’t know what hit him. He shot up the feeder, onto the fence and over. When he got to the backside of the fence, I knew I hit him because, as he hung there by his back legs, all I could see was his tail flicking as if to say, “Ouch! That hurt!”

I didn’t see Squirrel again for about a week. However, he must have gotten over the sting of being shot with a BB from a powerful CO2 pistol, because he was soon back to his thieving ways. I suspected that might happen, so I started keeping my Glock on the fireplace mantle by the door. There he was again with his back to me and his face firmly planted in my bird feeder. I opened the sliding glass door and slowly stepped outside. This time Squirrel took off before I could take aim. Oh well! At least I got him off my bird feeder.

About 30 minutes later, I looked out my back door, and there he was again. Fat, fluffy, fur-ball stuffing his face with my expensive bird seed! This time, I slowly opened the door. He was so busy stuffing his face that he took no notice of the door opening. Without stepping outside, I took aim through the open door. I had him square in my sights. I slowly squeezed the trigger. NOTHING!  Dang safety! Squirrel kept gorging. I took the pistol off of safety and this time the BB spat through the muzzle with a resounding POW! Right on target! Squirrel was so shocked by the sting that, instead of running away, he started running toward me aiming for our live oak. I aimed, shot again and missed. He ran straight up the live oak and hid within the thick branches. It took some effort, but I found him and shot him again. This time, he ran down the tree, across the yard, up the fence, and into the alley. That will show him!

It wasn’t long before Squirrel forgot again. Within three days he was back. I watched as he feasted on stolen booty. As I watched, I sensed he knew the cost of his sin. He munched a little and cast an eye toward the back door. Coast clear. Another nibble or two. I knew he was on the alert because he kept looking back toward the door, so I very slowly slid open the door. As soon as the air seal broke on the door Squirrel was gone. But he came back. Now I knew that he could hear the seal break on the door, so I started leaving the door cracked open just a bit. That worked … ONCE. I shot Squirrel again, but in a day or two, he was back again. This time, he mounted the bird feeder from the back side where he could keep an eye on the door while hiding behind the bird feeder. As soon as I open the door, he vanishes. I need to rethink my strategy.

Sometimes, we are a lot like Squirrel. We know certain acts – maybe even sinful acts – result in painful consequences. However, because we enjoy doing whatever it is that causes us pain, we continue the pursuit of “sin” hoping that perhaps this time we can get away with it. When we learn that the consequences persist, we pursue our desires by different means hoping that the next time there won’t be any consequences or that they will not be as bad. Kind of like our proverb says, “like a dog returning to his vomit.” We should learn from Squirrel and not be the “fool [that] returneth to his folly.”

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Pentecost

via Pentecost

I first published this on May 28, 2017. Today, June 9, 2019, is Pentecost, but the teaching still applies. As I repost this, I wonder, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus came to take us home today? That is still our “blessed hope”!

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June 9, 2019 · 10:00

Broken Eagles

Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles … (Isaiah 40:31, NASU)

            There she was – a beautiful, majestic American Bald Eagle – separated from the curious crowd by a moat and a four-foot fence.  She was perched on a large log. Above her the open sky beckoned – no cage, no netting, nothing to obstruct her flight.  Yet, there she perched observing her observers.  She made no effort to leave her perch.  Actually, she could not have flown if she had wanted.  She had been grounded by the loss of her left-wing.  She lost her wing when she became entangled in high voltage electrical lines.  Having been rescued, she was nursed back to health and now she made her home at the Dallas Zoo – a spectacle for curious zoo patrons.

            As I looked at her, it was difficult to find any defect in her.  She still expressed majesty and pride in her regal appearance, but she was damaged never to soar again.  How sad!

            We, likewise, were created to soar – to scale the heights of heaven, but we fell, entangled by the power of sin.  To look at us, one would never detect any obvious defect.  Perhaps it is because sin is so prevalent around us that we cannot readily perceive it.  Perhaps we have become adept at disguising it so that it is not so obvious in our lives.  Or, perhaps we have just learned to adapt and work with it and around it.  Nevertheless, it is there, present in our lives.  We are broken eagles.  Unlike the eagle in the zoo, our defect does have a remedy.  We do not need to be permanently grounded.  We have a Savior who is able to heal and restore our wings and strengthen us to fly higher than we ever thought possible – if only we will wait for, hope in, and trust in the Lord.  How will that happen?   God says, “I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:29, NASU)  On our own, we remain broken eagles, but with His help, we are  “able to do all things, through Christ” who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).

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Memorial

memorial-day-wallpaper

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15)

In the United States, we set aside (consecrate, sanctify, make holy) Memorial Day to commemorate those who paid the ultimate price in the defense and preservation of our freedom. As is common with all “holy” days, the significance of the day wanes after one or two generations lost in habitual and meaningless traditions and mechanical ceremony. True, one will find gatherings here and there in honor of our fallen heroes, but the crowds are usually small and composed mostly of those whose loved ones are entombed beneath the sacred ground. But for the majority of Americans today, Memorial Day is just another excuse for a three-day weekend.

Few veterans of the Second World War survive today, and many veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars are quickly fading away. Our children scarcely remember Desert Storm, nor can they explain the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One may debate the legitimacy of our involvement in the wars since World War II, but the blood spilt and the lives sacrificed in those conflicts remain precious to their Creator and to us. They died, rightly or wrongly, for their country and for our freedom, and it is fitting that we sanctify a day for their memorial.

As our nation rapidly declines in the whirling vortex of moral decay (I can almost hear the sucking sound!), holy days lose their virtue and give way to debauchery. Just this week I read in the online Washington Times that a small display of crosses set up especially for this occasion was taken down after one person found the crosses offensive and complained.[1] Ultimately, things like this result from the nation’s rejection of and enmity with God.

It is interesting that the first time the word “memorial” appears in the Bible, it is in the context of God revealing Himself to Moses. God confronted Moses through the burning bush and commissioned him to liberate His people from Egyptian bondage. After a series of excuses as to why he was not up to the task, “Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:13-14, emphasis mine). The name, יehâyâh (I AM), means “to exist.” God was proclaiming Himself to be the “Self-existing One,” the One Who Is, the eternal One. God specified, “this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (v. 15, emphasis mine).

“All generations” means ALL generations. That includes our generation, and our nation, but our nation – our generation – has rejected God. All that God opposes, our nation has embraced and even promoted. Therefore what used to be precious is now held in contempt. What used to be contemptible is now admired. What was shameful now is something for which to be proud. What was kept in secret is now flaunted. Therefore God says:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 5:20-25, emphasis mine)

Having forgotten our Memorial – the I AM – nothing is sacred, and Memorial Day simply becomes just another three-day weekend because those who gave their lives for “one nation under God” died for something that is now forgotten, or held in contempt. Yet God always has His remnant. He still has those “who have not bowed the knee to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4), and He does not forget His own. For those who remain, Memorial Day retains its sanctity as we remember those who selflessly offered up all that they could give that we might live free, if only for a little while longer. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The God who spoke those words gave His life that we might live. He also promised, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

So, if my musings seem a little cynical (I am not), it is because I cannot obscure the putrid decay I plainly see taking place in our nation. Yet, the same gives me hope because I know what the future holds, and I know the One who holds the future. Jesus is coming back bringing the tree of life “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). Men seek the Utopian state, but that will only come when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords reigns supreme upon the earth. That hope turns my cynicism into confidence for what my Memorial has in store. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Notes:


[1]  The Washington Times online: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/24/memorial-day-crosses-for-fallen-soldiers-removed-a/ (accessed 05/25/2016).

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Building Up the Temple

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (Matthew 21:12)

Last week I wrote about a special assignment[1] I was given for the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. An ICR benefactor donated a Life of Christ diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company, and it often hints of Catholic influence.

One of the scenes will be of Jesus cleansing the Temple before His crucifixion. The “temple” that came with the set is patterned after Greco-Roman architecture. It in no way represents the Temple that Jesus would have known. Perhaps visitors to the Discovery Center will not notice the discrepancy, but others, like me, will see the flaw. That bothers me. We cannot allow anything to distract from the Gospel message.

Determined to correct the error, I took the dimensions of the Temple given in the Bible[2] and converted the cubits to feet and the feet to inches.  Then I measured the width of the set “temple” to get the scale the footprint for the model I would build of the Temple. As it turned out, a scale model would be 58 inches tall and would probably cause a greater distraction than the building that came with the diorama. So, I scrapped my idea and resolved to use the incorrect building that came with the set.

When I told Henry, (the MIC) of my decision, he encouraged me to follow through with my idea. He reminded me that the Temple model did not need to be an exact scale; it just needs to “look” like the Temple of Jesus’ day. Pictured above is the beginning of what will be the Temple model. To see the completed model, you will need to visit the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History when it opens this September (2019).

Jewish religious life revolved around the Temple and Jesus, being an observant Jew, followed all the laws regarding it. When He was just eight days old, His earthly parents presented Him along with the required sacrifice to the priests at the Temple.[3] He had His bar mitzvah in the Temple at the age of 12,[4] and as Scripture points out, He went to the Temple each year for the Passover.

In His final week of life, He exercised the practice of ridding His house of “leaven” in preparation for the Passover by cleansing the Temple of the illegal trade that took place there. “And [He] said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13, emphasis mine). The Temple was His house.

The Temple bears the shape of a cross. At the foot of the cross is the altar where the sacrifices are burned. Jesus gave His life as our eternal sacrifice. Beyond the altar resides the laver or mikvah where the priests would wash before entering the Temple. Jesus is the “living water” that cleanses us from all sin.[5] The Temple has only one door through which the priests can enter. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, emphasis mine). Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). As one enters through the door of the Temple, on the left stands a seven-branch menorah. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). On the right is the table of the “showbread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” (John 6:13, emphasis mine). Directly ahead stands the altar of incense which represents the prayers of the people going up to God. Jesus said, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

Beyond the altar of incense rises a heavy curtain from floor to ceiling that separates this holy place from the Holy of Holies where the very presence of God resides. Inside that sanctum resided the Ark of the Covenant, covered by the Mercy Seat upon which the sacrificial blood was spilled on behalf of all the people. This place was so holy that only the high priest could enter and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement,[6] Yom Kippur.  When Jesus died on the cross, He carried His own blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies spilling it on God’s mercy seat. “And, behold, the veil [the curtain] of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51, emphasis mine), and the way into the presence of God was opened for us.

Today every true believer is the Temple of God[7] because we have His presence within us.[8] The model temple I am building is a simple replica of the one that used to be. But the real Temple is me and anyone else who has invited the Lord to save them and take up residence within. I want to build an excellent model for visitors to the Discovery Center to enjoy, but even more important is the maintenance of the Temple in which God now resides.

If what I am saying sounds strange, visit my page on Securing Eternal Life.

Notes:


[1]  “On a Hill Far Away” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/05/12/on-a-hill-far-away/

[2]  1 Kings 6:2

[3]  Luke 2:22-24

[4]  Luke 2:41-52

[5]  1 John 1:7

[6]  “Rosh HaShanah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[7]  Living Temples – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/18/living-temples/

[8]  1 Corinthians 3:16

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On A Hill Far Away…

And Other Biblical Misconceptions

 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: (John 19:17)

With the forthcoming opening of the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History, I and a co-laborer (whom I cannot name because I did not request his permission) have been honored with the task of creating the scenery for the Life of Christ Diorama that will reside across from the Empty Tomb exhibit. An ICR benefactor donated the diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company. The extensive collection cannot all fit in the space allotted, so our leaders determined only to display pivotal scenes in the life of Christ.

Not to give away all the details of the diorama, I want to focus on the crucifixion scene. Where to position the crucifixion scene came into question. Should it be elevated on top of a hill or should it be placed on a lower level between the road and the hill? As Christians, we know the familiar words of the old hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” The lyrics say, “On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…” I do not know if it is due to the lyrics of the beloved hymn or due to some other handed down tradition, but we all imagine that Jesus was crucified at the top of Mount Calvary. However, musical lyrics or timeless tradition should not be the basis for what we believe. What does the Bible say?

And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull… (Matthew 27:33)

And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. (Mark 15:22)

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. (Luke 23:33)

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: (John 19:17) (Emphasis mine)

The Bible does not often provide specific detail of events, but very often it does. The language of the Gospels is Greek. The Greek word for “hill” is either oros or bounos; the latter used only in Luke 3:5, and the former used in several passages in the N.T.[1] Furthermore, Greek prepositions indicate precise positions. The Greek preposition for “on” or “upon” is epi. It means “superimposition,” that is, to be “over” or “upon.” None of the four Gospels give any indication that the crucifixion took place “on a hill called Mount Calvary”[2] regardless of what the song lyrics say. Furthermore, the public spectacle of crucifixion[3] intended as a deterrent against lawlessness took place in the most public of places, usually, a busy roadside where passersby could get a close look at the suffering victims.

I researched, albeit not extensively, information about the location of the crucifixion. Most of the information[4] argues about three possible “places,” and most shy away from making dogmatic statements. The possible locations offered are, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher (which supposedly houses both the crucifixion and burial sites), The Garden Tomb[5] area (which is very near a limestone formation whose face features two prominent grottos that look like the eye sockets of a human skull), or just some unknown place outside of the Old City (of Jerusalem) designated by the Romans for public executions. All of these resources spoke of the “place” but none ventured to suggest whether the crucifixion took place “on” the hill or “by” the hill, but all agreed that it was “at” Golgotha/Calvary.

The “experts” fail to commit to “on” or “by”, but all four Gospels omit the preposition epi (on). To me that says that Jesus was crucified “at” Calvary, not “on” Calvary. My conclusion led me to determine that the diorama will feature the crucifixion scene near the road with a skull-shaped hill in the background. Besides scriptural reasons, there are practical reasons for my decision. A crucifixion on top of a hill, while it might be visible to all, could easily be ignored by passersby thus defeating the deterrent factor of the event. To get a close-up view – and who would want to – would require extra effort making it a disincentive for gathering a crowd, thus defeating the intended purpose of the Romans. However, if the crucifixion took place on a busy road, the only way to avoid the spectacle would be to take the long way around to enter the city. A roadside crucifixion makes more sense to me.

What does that have to do with salvation? Nothing. Jesus dying for you and me on the cross and rising again on the third day matters more than the place or the position. However, there are many non-believers who will find fault with any perceived discrepancy in Scripture. As Christians, we need to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Controversies like these will come up. For example: “Jesus said He would be in the grave three days and three nights.[6] There are not three days and three nights between Friday and Sunday. The Bible is wrong!” Another example is the anointing of Jesus. “All the Gospels give accounts of Jesus’ anointing, but they are all different”[7] How would you respond to this challenge? A careful study of Scripture will reveal that there were three separate anointings; Matthew and Mark refer to one before the crucifixion, Luke recounts one before the Transfiguration, and John records one by Mary after Jesus raised her brother Lazarus after four days dead.

Other examples can be cited, but the point is that we need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15) rather than relying on song lyrics, traditions, or human scholarship. Do not just read your Bible, study it!

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 5:14; Luke 1:36, 65; 3:5; 4:29; 9:37

[2]  “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=OPByLTzkctc

[3]  “Crucifixion” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion

[4]  “Where Was Jesus Crucified? – Golgotha ‘the Place of the Skull’” – https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/where-was-jesus-crucified.html

[5] “Jesus’ crucifixion site? (A ‘Skull’, Garden & Tomb)” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=-7fHnnqre1o

[6]  “Three Days, Three Nights” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/07/13/three-days-three-nights/

[7]  “Jesus Last Days” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/25/jesus-last-days/

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