Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Memorial

Near Arlington House, in what was once part of its famous rose garden, stands a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who died in the Civil War. This monument was the first memorial at Arlington to be dedicated to soldiers who had died in battle, and who later could not be identified.

Near Arlington House, in what was once part of its famous rose garden, stands a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who died in the Civil War. This monument was the first memorial at Arlington to be dedicated to soldiers who had died in battle, and who later could not be identified.

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12:14)

Throughout Scripture God gave the children of Israel memorials as memory aids in keeping alive in their conscience His miraculous provision for them. His very name was to be a memorial. “I AM THAT I AM … this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Exodus 3:14-15, emphasis added). The celebration of the Passover reminded them of God’s deliverance from their bondage in Egypt. “And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:9, emphasis added).

The written Word is a memorial. Not long after leaving Egypt, the Israelites faced their first adversary. Amalek, king of the Amalekites, came out in opposition to their progress in the land. The Israelites fought and won against the enemy, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14, emphasis added). Without the written Word, all “remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” would have been forgotten.

Monuments can also serve as memorials. When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River – on dry ground – to take possession of the Promised Land, God instructed that the head of each of the twelve tribes should pick up a stone as they crossed the Jordan to be assembled on the other side. The purpose was so “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever” (Joshua 4:6-7, emphasis added).

The problem with memorials is that we become so familiar with them that they can be taken for granted. If not accompanied with the instruction and the history behind it, the memorial becomes just another day of festivities, just another book on a bookshelf, or just another pile of rocks. We celebrate Memorial Day this weekend. For many, it is just another three-day weekend suitable for a short getaway, or time spent with family and friends cooking steaks on a grill and just taking it easy without even a thought to the significance of the day.

This weekend is a memorial to all the men and women who have spilt their life’s blood on the battlefield defending this nation’s right to exist and to enjoy the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that come to us from God alone. This is the time when we honor those who have fought and who have died to preserve the American way of life. This way of life is in danger of slipping through our fingers. One of the main reasons for this is that we have forgotten the meaning of our memorials. God help each one of us when that is finally gone.

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Be Ye Holy

Image Credit: Rob Birkbeck

Image Credit: Rob Birkbeck

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 20:7)

First of all, I need to emphasize that I believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone apart from any works of the flesh (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:20; 11:6; Galatians 2:16; Titus 3:5). In addition, salvation cannot be maintained through any effort on our part, but it is dependent on the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His ability and faithfulness to keep His promises. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29, emphasis added). Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:3). Then he provides a long list of possibilities before answering, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

That said, as His children, God still expects us to live “holy” lives. Our opening verse comes from the Old Testament law, and it was directed at the Children of Israel. Many Christians will object: “That’s Old Testament! We are ‘New Testament’ Christians. We are not under the Law; we are under Grace!” Well, what does the New Testament say? Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandmentsHe that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15, 21, emphasis added). Then He makes Himself our example: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10). Peter also echoes the words of the Old Testament when he says, “But as he [Jesus] which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [i.e., “manner of life” or “life conduct”]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). James, the brother of Jesus, puts it very plainly, “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). James is not preaching a salvation of works, but rather calls for a practical, visible manifestation of the faith we claim. He explains: “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). A very simple illustration of James’ premise is this: To convince my wife to marry me, I told her that I loved her. But once we are married, I never take her out, I never help her at home, I never pay any attention to her or listen to her; I go out and spend time with my friends and leave her at home alone. I stay out late at night and use our home as sort of a “flop house.” Could an outside observer testify that I really love my wife? That is the point James is making. True faith demonstrates some sort evidence to the genuineness of that faith.

So what does it mean to be “holy”? Does it mean living a sinless life? If that were even possible, what purpose would Christ’s death on the cross serve? Of all our godly examples from Scripture, not one lived a sinless life, except for Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul lamented, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). So, being “holy” does not equate to being “sinless.”

The word “holy” means to be set apart. When God commanded the Children of Israel to be holy, He intended them to be distinct from the nations that surrounded them. Modern Christians often make light of the Old Testament laws and reject them as not applicable to New Testament saints. But, other than the sacrificial laws which were done away with the sacrifice of Christ, many of those laws were put in place for the sole purpose of distinguishing the people of God from the people of the world. Take for example, the prohibition against piercings and tattoos: “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). Piercings, cuttings of the skin, tattoos, etc. were all common practices of the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. These kinds of markings are still considered “beautiful” with many primitive people today. God wanted His people to be different. I selected this one example because it is one of the most obvious that I see among Christians today – they are hard to hide. To me what this says is “I can make my body more beautiful than the one God made for me.” That aside, the point is that we have a lost generation out there that needs a Savior, and this is what they do. Christians, rather than set themselves “apart,” fall right in line with the rest of the lost world, and yet, God still calls His people to be “holy.”

“Holy” also means to be “sanctified” or “consecrated,” i.e., to be “dedicated” to the service of the Lord. That does not mean that we put on our “holy” garments on Sunday for worship and live the rest of the week serving ourselves – in whatever form that takes. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2, emphasis added). A “living sacrifice” is a daily thing. Note that it is “holy” – distinct from the world around us. Our lives should not be conformed to the passing fads of this world, but rather our thinking should be “transformed” according to the pattern of our Savior. Our lifestyle, distinct and set apart from this world, will prove to the world, as James pointed out, “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” For that Christian who thinks this cannot be done, you are correct. It cannot be done through your own strength, but by the Grace that comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives. Be ye holy.

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Episode 45 – The Ice Age

I viewed a few of the episodes of Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis and they are excellent, rivaling anything that you would see on Discover, Science or NatGeo!

That's a Fact

Ice sheets, saber-toothed tigers, and wooly mammoths—the Ice Age sounds like a cool time! But what caused it? And was there more than one Ice Age?

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33. Evidence for God – Design Convinces Scientists 16 – Ben Carson 4 | Bible-Science Guy

Not ALL scientists believe in evolution!

33. Evidence for God – Design Convinces Scientists 16 – Ben Carson 4 | Bible-Science Guy.

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How Art Thou Fallen!

Angel of Light

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12)

God deniers often challenge believers with the question of evil in the world. “If God is so good, why is there so much evil in the world?” Another closely linked question is “Why did God create Satan?” and “When did God create Satan?” My attempt to answer these questions follows.

God created Satan (his name is Lucifer) when He created the other angels. Angels were created early on during the week of creation (Genesis 1) – probably Day One or Day Two of creation. We get this from God’s response to Job’s questioning concerning the calamity that had befallen him. God asks Job:

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4, 7, emphasis added)

“The morning stars” is used synonymously with “the sons of God” – Hebrew bene Elohim, which is used only in regard to angels in the Old Testament. From this we gather that the angels witnessed creation. Satan is included with “the sons of God.”

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. (Job 1:6, emphasis added)

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1, emphasis added)

Apparently by this time Satan, which means “accuser,” had already fallen, and he was actively attacking man. However, notice Who still has the final say – Satan still needed to get permission from God to attack Job. But when did Satan Fall? The Bible does not provide specific answers to this question, but we can at least conclude that it happened after creation was completed because we have God’s assessment of His finished product:

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31, emphasis added).

God’s creation would not have been “very good,” if there were rebellion in the camp, and to suppose that perhaps God was unaware of a rebellion would be to deny God’s omniscience. So, sometime between God’s conclusion of creation and the Fall of man (Genesis 3), Satan rebelled against God. That brings up the question: Why would Satan rebel against God? We are given some hints in the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14, emphasis added)

Thou [“king of Tyrus,” i.e., Satan] hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezekiel 28:13-17, emphasis added)

From this, especially from the Ezekiel passage, we can infer that Lucifer (“the king of Tyrus” i.e., Satan) was a high ranking angel – very likely an archangel. He was obviously very beautiful as his “covering” is described as beautiful gem stones. His name, Lucifer, means “shining one” or “day star,” therefore he must have been quite dazzling – very unlike the images of Satan we see depicted today. Notice also that his “sin” was the same sin with which he tempted Eve in the Garden: “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

Only three angels are named in the Bible: Lucifer, Michael, and Gabriel. Since these are the only three named, it is quite possible that these are the only archangels that God created. I arrive at this conclusion from what we read of the fall of Satan (the “old dragon”) found in Revelation 12:

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:3-4, emphasis added)

As noted in the Job passages above, angels are sometimes referred to as “stars.” That Satan drew “the third part of the stars of heaven” along with him indicates to me that these were the angels that were under his command, leaving the remaining two-thirds under the command of Michael and Gabriel.

It is conjecture on my part, but I believe the reason Satan rebelled was because he became jealous of man who was created in the image of God and given dominion over God’s creation.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28, emphasis added)

Angels were not created in the image of God, nor were they given charge over God’s creation. That distinction was given to man; therefore Satan became jealous and plotted to cause man to fall. He thought “of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3) as described in the Isaiah and Ezekiel passages above. His sin was not in his thought, but in acting upon his thought and carrying out his plan to cause man to sin. This is probably where Satan fell.

There is evil in the world because of sin – rebellion – which was first birthed in the mind of Satan and brought to full fruition through man’s disobedience. Some may object that God should not have given man occasion to disobey by placing the tree of the knowledge good and evil in the garden, but love is a choice. God also provided another tree on a hill called Calvary. From that tree we are free to partake, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Love is a choice.

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