Monthly Archives: January 2019

The Immorality of a Wall

And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. (Nehemiah 4:10)

The partial government shutdown continues beyond the third week. Some say that this is the longest shutdown in government history, yet, outside of a small percentage of government employees, the shutdown fails to have the chaotic effect that the main-stream media (MSM) purport. Many conscientious government employees remain at their posts even though they have not received a paycheck. (That is what I call dedication, and they ought to be commended for it.) While their pay may be temporarily delayed, they will receive their full back-pay eventually when this government impasse is breached.

The cause of the impasse is absurd. The House of Representatives wants to submit a spending plan for President Trump sign. President Trump will not sign the spending plan because it does not include the $5.6 billion he was requested to build a wall on our southern border. Democrats and Republicans both agree that a wall is needed; however, Democrats, because it is Donald Trump making the request, refuse to allocate the money for wall construction to deny Trump from keeping a campaign promise. It has nothing to do with the right or wrong of the matter. It has everything to with who wins the argument, and the Democrats (I call them Demoncrats for a reason) want to win, regardless of whether the border wall is good for the nation or whether thousands of government employees get paid or not. (Note: Congressmen have not missed a paycheck. If any wall is immoral, it is this one erected by the Demoncrats.)

Democrats stoke up the media to incite sympathy for unpaid government employees while they take off on vacations to exotic places, and meet with lobbyists in Puerto Rico rather than sit with the President to hammer out this impasse. They accuse President Trump of inflexibility, yet they have refused any offer of compromise by the President. In his last meeting with Democrat leadership, President Trump asked Speaker Pelosi, “Okay, Nancy, if I open up the government in 30 days, could we have border security?” She said, “Not at all.”[1]

President Trump will not budge on his demand for border security that includes a solid barrier of some kind. He has offered concessions such as legalizing so-called “dreamers,” whom Democrats claim to champion. However, because yielding on the wall gives President Trump an optical victory, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, refuses to give sway on the matter regardless of the shutdown, regardless of the unpaid government employees, regardless that she has favored the wall in the past, regardless that it is a matter of national security and sovereignty, and regardless that it is the right thing to do. She defends her obstinate stance by claiming that “the wall is an immorality.”

The wall is an immorality! How so? On what, other than the imaginations of a deluded mind, does she base that claim? In a world of relativism, morality amounts to individual preference. It becomes subjective so that “your truth is not my truth” and in a nation of over 300 million people that makes for mass confusion and anarchy. I prefer the objective truth of God’s Word.

Since morality comes from God, and because God created humans in His image,[2] humans are naturally moral creatures. However, that morality has been corrupted,[3] and what is true for Nancy Pelosi may not be true at all. We need an objective standard for morality. God, as our Creator, provided us with His operating manual as the standard of morality – the Bible. Does the Bible address the question of the morality or immorality of a wall? Indeed it does.

Before getting into the Word, what is the purpose of a wall, barrier or fence? One of the definitions for a wall is a “rampart” or a “bulwark,” which is any protection against external danger, injury or annoyance. A wall or bulwark protects those within from danger from without. Walls prevent invasion from outside forces that would harm those behind the wall.

I have a seven-foot fence in my back yard. It may not prevent an intruder climbing over, but it will certainly cost him (I assume intruders will be male) great effort and hopefully alert the dogs before he can break into my house. Otherwise, I hope the fence will discourage the attempt in the first place. The front of my house is open to the street. Without a fence to protect my front door, I feel vulnerable to attack from that side. (I speak from a human perspective; however, I place my trust in God for our protection. I do my part and let Him take care of those things which are out of my control.)

I heard someone say, “I have a fence not because I hate the people outside, but because I love the people inside.” Fences, and walls, while not perfect, give us a measure of protection. Nancy Pelosi’s estate has a wall around it. Barack Obama, the Clintons, Bernie Sanders as well as most other Democrats live behind tall barriers to keep out the riffraff. Are their walls an “immorality”? No sane person would make such a claim; therefore, Nancy Pelosi’s claim is either delusional or hypocritical.

The Bible talks about walls. In Bible times, walls presented the first line of defense for the city (they do today also). Entry into a walled city was through the city gates. Anyone having business within the city walls entered through the massive, heavy gates (the “ports of entry”). When the gates were closed, no one entered or left the city. When invading armies came against the city, they would have either to scale the heavily defended walls, break down the gates, or lay siege to the city. Conquering a walled city often took several years to accomplish. Those living in the unwalled villages were easy prey. If they could not escape to the protection of a nearby, fortified city, they fell victim to the enemy. Walls, for those protected by them, were moral, not immoral.

The Bible has 247 occurrences in 223 verses of “wall” or “walls.” When Israel entered the Promised Land, “All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many” (Deuteronomy 3:5). The first walled city they faced was Jericho, and it took an act of God to breach that wall.[4] David conquered the walled city of Jebus (Jerusalem)[5] by entering the city through a water conduit (“gutter”).[6], [7] Later, his son Solomon reinforced and expanded the walls of Jerusalem.[8] During his reign, Solomon fortified other cities throughout Israel.[9]

We have already seen that walls are not 100% effective; they can be penetrated,[10] and when a wall is broken down, it must be repaired.[11] Broken walls are distressing for those depending on them for protection,[12] and their restoration is cause for celebration.[13] For those inside, walls provide security.[14] For those outside, walls present an obstacle to overcome, and they are not appreciated.[15]

God approves of walls.[16] The idea of borders and nations was His in the first place.[17] God created the nations[18] and established their boundaries.[19] Borders are not offensive to God; neither is the defense of those borders; therefore walls are not “an immorality” as Speaker Pelosi proclaims. If anything, breaching a wall is immoral and cause for war – a war initiated by the invader. In the world in which we live, we need walls, and those walls must be respected.

One day soon, the need for walls will cease,[20] except for the wall around the New Jerusalem whose walls will exclude no one. That wall will serve to set that city apart as a very special place.[21] However, for the present, for everyone who names the name of Christ, no matter what national or ethnic origin, “… he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Ephesians 2:14). Outside of that, “Build the Wall!”

Notes:


[1]  “House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy reacts to President Trump’s latest comments on fixing the border crisis

[2]  Genesis 1:26-27

[3]  Genesis 3

[4]  Joshua 6

[5]  1 Chronicles 11:4

[6]  2 Samuel 5:8

[7]Did King David Conquer Jerusalem Using This Tunnel?

[8]  1 Kings 3:1

[9] 1 Kings 9:15; 2 Chronicles 8:5; 14:7

[10]  2 Chronicles 25:23; 26:6; 36:19

[11]  2 Chronicles 32:5; Jeremiah 52:14

[12]  Nehemiah 1:3; 2:17

[13]  Nehemiah 12:27, 30

[14] Psalm 122:7; Proverbs 18:11; 25:28; Ezekiel 38:11

[15]  Ezra 4:12-16; Nehemiah 4:3

[16]  Ezra 9:9; Psalm 51:18

[17]  Genesis 11:8-9

[18]  Genesis 10

[19]  Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26

[20]  Isaiah 26:1; 60:18; Zechariah 2:4-5

[21]  Revelation 21

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Doing the Right Thing

Rembrandt van Rijn, “Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem”, c. 1630

For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 39:18)

Jeremiah prophesied before, during, and after the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem and the captivity that followed. His ministry started during the in the 13th year of good king Josiah’s reign.[1] Josiah was eight years old when he started to reign[2] thus making him about 21 when Jeremiah started his ministry.

Josiah was the last of Judah’s “good” kings, and the Bible records that he reigned for 31 years. He was killed in a battle at Megiddo[3] (Armageddon) attempting to stop Pharaoh Necho who was on his way to assist Assyria at Carchemish against the Babylonians.

Josiah was succeeded on the throne by his son, Jehoahaz (a.k.a. Shullum) who reigned for only three months.[4] Pharaoh Necho lost the battle at Carchemish, and on his return to Egypt through Judah, he stopped off at Jerusalem and took Johoahaz captive to Egypt replacing him with his brother Jehoiakim (a.k.a. Eliakim).[5]

Jehoiakim reigned for 11 years. It was during his reign that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took away the first round of captives to Babylon. Daniel the prophet was taken in this first round of captivity. Jehoiakim was also taken captive, and his son (Josiah’s grandson), Jehoiachin (a.k.a. Jechoniah, a.k.a. Coniah), took his place on the throne. Jechoniah appears in Jesus’s genealogy through Joseph.[6] However, Jechoniah’s (Coniah’s) line was cursed by God so that none of his descendants could sit on the throne of David.[7] This fact could have disqualified Jesus for the throne had Joseph been his earthly father.

Jechoniah’s reign was shortlived as Nebuchadnezzar replaced him with another of Josiah’s sons, Mattaniah, whose name he changed to Zedekiah.[8] Zedekiah reigned in Jerusalem as a vassal king of Babylon for eleven years. However, in the ninth year of his reign, he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and refused to pay the required tribute. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem a second time, and two years later, after exhausting all their food and water stores, the city surrendered. Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah watch as his children were all slaughtered before his eyes.[9] That was the last thing Zedekiah saw before his eyes were gouged out. Then Nebuchadnezzar took Zedekiah and the remaining able-bodied people back to Babylon leaving only the poorest and weakest of the population behind. This was the second captivity.

Jeremiah is known as the “Weeping Prophet” because he prophesied during the final 40 years before the complete demise of Jerusalem. His unpopular message of pending doom fell on deaf and rebellious ears. He was persecuted, beaten, and imprisoned for sounding the call to repent with the promise that repentance would stay the pending punishment of God.

During Zedekiah’s reign, Jeremiah urged the king to submit to Nebuchadnezzar so that Jerusalem would experience peace. Zedekiah’s refusal to submit brought the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar upon the city. During the two-year siege, conditions became so bad that women cannibalized their children for food.[10] Jeremiah encouraged men to surrender to the Babylonians to save themselves and their families.

For this, Jeremiah was treated as a traitor and thrown into a cold, muddy dungeon.[11] “Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebedmelech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city” (Jeremiah 38:7-9, emphasis mine).

We do not know a lot about Ebedmelech. We can surmise that he was a black man since Scripture records that he was an Ethiopian. He also served the king since he is identified as a eunuch. Jeremiah does not record his name, only his position in the king’s service. It is possible that Jeremiah did not even know his advocate. “Ebedmelech” is two words in Hebrew, ‛ebed melek. “Ebed” means “servant” and “melek” means “king.” The two words together mean “servant of the king.” We can infer from the fact that he was a eunuch that he was a high ranking servant of the king holding a very trusted position. As such, he could approach the king on Jeremiah’s behalf.

Surely the servant of the king had heard Jeremiah’s warnings. He probably understood that Jeremiah was the Lord’s prophet, and he took it to heart when Jeremiah said, “Thus saith the Lord.” He probably perceived that Jeremiah’s preaching was for the good of the people and that his intentions for their welfare.

When the servant of the king learned of Jeremiah’s plight, he went directly to the king to plead his case, and Zedekiah listened to his servant. “Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die” (Jeremiah 38:10). Jeremiah was not set free. However, his conditions were much improved. The eunuch transferred him from the “miry pit” to the “court of the prison”[12] allowing him more freedom and improved conditions although he was still under “house arrest.”

In spite of opposition and his subservient position, this humble servant did the right thing. Doing the right thing in the midst of opposition takes real courage especially when there is little, if any, hope for reward.

Not long after this, Jerusalem surrendered. Nebuchadnezzar’s army entered the city, destroyed the Temple and carried away captives including the humiliated king Zedekiah.

Just before the fall of Jerusalem, God spoke to Jeremiah the prophet and said, “Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 39:16-18, emphasis mine).

Doing the right thing requires trusting the Lord. When we trust the Lord, abundant life (our “prey”) is our reward. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. The nameless servant may have been unknown to Jeremiah, but his righteous deed did not escape God’s notice, and God blessed him for doing the right thing. Likewise, we should follow his example with purity of heart and “not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God” (Colossians 3:22). May God catch us all doing the right thing!

Notes:


[1]  Jeremiah 1:2

[2]  2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chronicles 34:1

[3]  2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-27

[4]  2 Kings 23:31; 2 Chronicles 36:1-2

[5]  2 Kings 23:34, 36; 2 Chronicles 36:4-5

[6]  Matthew 1:11

[7]  Jeremiah 22:28-30

[8]  2 Kings 24:17; 2 Chronicles 36:10-11

[9]  2 Kings 25:7

[10]  Lamentations 4:10

[11]  Jeremiah 38:1-6

[12]  Jeremiah 38:13

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Gog-Magog on Automatic Pilot

via Gog-Magog on Automatic Pilot

The article above goes along with my previous post, “Another One Gone!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/12/30/another-one-gone/

We are living in exciting times!

 

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January 9, 2019 · 12:17

Faith, Hope, & Love

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Since my car accident at the end of November, I have been faithfully attending therapy sessions to realign my neck and spine. If you have to go, it is a blessing to have friendly people to work with you. Where I go, the therapist’s ages are all about mid-thirties and younger, and they are all very friendly and caring.

Last week a new one showed up at the clinic, and she fit in perfectly with the rest of the crew. One day as I picked up my chart to check out, I noticed an interesting tattoo on the posterior side of her left wrist. Personally, I dislike tattoos, but this one caught my attention. It was an anchor with an unfinished heart above the stock of the anchor. I asked her what it signified, and she said it stood for faith (the anchor), hope (the cross), and love (the heart). I picked up my chart, smiled, and said, “Nice,” and left to start the rest of my day.

At my next appointment, I saw her again, pointed to her tattoo and asked, “And the greatest of these is ______?” She looked at me as if I had two heads, so I clarified. “Your tattoo stands for faith, hope, and love. Of the three, which is the greatest?” She looked at me and then looked at her tattoo and then answered with a question in her voice, “Love?” I asked why, and she said, “because it’s bigger?” I told her that it was from a passage in the Bible, and I quoted, “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). She smiled, took out a pen and scribbled “1 Cor 13 13” inside the heart, and said, “I’ll have to look that up.”

At my next session, I asked her if she had looked up the verse. She confessed that she had been too busy. I pulled out my cell phone that has my favorite Bible app on it. I looked up 1 Corinthians 13:13 for her and let her read it for herself. She was a little confused when she read “charity” instead of “love.” I explained that the Greek word translated “charity” is agapē which is translated as “love” in other parts of the New Testament. The reason the KJV translators used “charity” here is that “charity” explains the nature of agapē more clearly. Charity is a kind of giving or expressing of love that is offered freely without expectation of receiving anything in return. She seemed to appreciate the brief lesson, and I think she gained a better appreciation for her tattoo. (I still dislike tattoos.)

As I left the clinic, I thought about that verse. Why is love the greatest of these three? The verse begins, “And now abideth…” Currently, right now, exist faith, hope, and charity. We need “faith” because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis mine). John’s Gospel records, “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). The word translated “believeth” is the Greek word, pisteuō, and it means “to have faith in.” We must have “faith” in Jesus in order to be saved.

Once we have trusted in Jesus for our eternal salvation, then we have “hope” that one day He will return to take us to be with Him as He promised. Jesus said, “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, emphasis mine). All of this is future, and we have no “hard” evidence that it will come true, but in Hebrews, we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Our “faith” is “substantive,” and we have the evidence of the Holy Spirit within us to confirm the truth of those “things not seen.” That same Spirit assures us that our hope is real.

Then there is “charity” (love). The pages of the Bible are replete with demonstrations of God’s love. John reminds us, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16, emphasis mine). Paul tells us that “charity” (love) never fails. It stands to reason that if “God is love,” then love will never fail. Paul makes it clear that all things will fail, but love will never fail (1 Corinthians 13:8).

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). On the day we enter into our Lord’s presence, there will be no need for faith because our faith will be transformed into reality. There will be no need for hope, for our hope will be realized. However, love will remain as eternal as God Himself. Now remain faith, hope, and love, these three, but the greatest, because it will outlast the other two, is love.

P.S.

I searched the internet for a picture of a tattoo like the one this young lady had and could not find an exact match. The one I selected for this post was a close match, but I had to do a little “photoshopping” to get it to look right. Notice the unfinished heart. That made me think that the love – even God’s love – that we experience in this life is incomplete. Not until we are in His presence will we experience the completeness of His love. That is something for which to look forward!

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