Category Archives: Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books

Isaiah Chapter 3: Culture of Youth and Beauty — Post by Mary C. Findley

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Sounds like Jerusalem and Judah had it pretty good, right? Look over that list of material provision (support system, food, water) and leadership (military, judiciary, teachers, advisers, craftsmen, and someone who may have been a charismatic speaker or influencer). The use of the phrase skillful enchanter gives us a hint that they weren’t sourcing any of their things or their leaders from the right place.

We worship a culture of youth and have for a long time, and here God gives people what they want, youngsters in charge, with disastrous results. People begin to take advantage of each other and the honorable suffer at the hands of these childish rulers. One guy with an intact coat will be grabbed and thrust into leadership, if anybody can make him do it. Apparently nobody will have much more than a coat in those days. Certainly not a will to give proper leadership.

Verses 8 and 9 make it clear that the people oppose God and flaunt their rebellion. When disaster comes, they can’t pretend it wasn’t their own fault. Public sins have public consequences.

Time to reassure the righteous in verse 10. No matter how bad things seem to get, it will go well with them. And in verse 11 another reassurance we often need when, as the Scriptures say in other places, this question hangs in the air: “Why do the wicked prosper?” God says things will turn bad for the wicked. “Let the punishment fit the crime,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado says. God says the wicked will get what they deserve.

Once again God restates in verse 12 that His people are oppressed because they wanted unsuitable rulers – immature, inexperienced, leading the people down twisting paths.
God will judge these rulers. Make no mistake. I’m pretty sure those crushing and grinding references refer at least in part to taxes. People tend to think that government takes care of the poor with welfare and social services. But it doesn’t work that way when corruption takes hold. God is outraged at the twisted mentality that steals from people who already have too little.

Verses 16-24 detail a culture that should be very recognizable to us today. Is it a sin to want to be beautiful and have pretty things? Look at the words used: proud, seductive. Women can bring down a whole culture by worshiping self, sexuality, beauty. Dressing little girls in revealing outfits is starting them down the road to sensuality without reserve. Females scream about their rights and their freedoms Modesty has become kind of an obsolete term but God hates that mentality.

God will send scabs into that beautiful hair. He will make it fall out, or pluck it out. All that long list of pretty things will disappear and be replaced by stench, coarseness, and disfigurement.

The men they have gotten themselves dressed up for will be dying in battle, trying to save their women, but failing. All that emphasis on self, on attracting attention, will change to mourning and loneliness.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
1. What clues indicate that God’s people were prosperous but not by depending on Him?
2. Briefly explain what kinds of oppression take place when the wrong kind of rulers get into power.
3. What are some proofs that these people deserve what they get when destruction overtakes them?
4. Give examples in modern culture of women lacking understanding of modesty.
5. Do you think women have in some cases made it more difficult for men to protect them? Explain your answer.

Your Turn in the Microcosm
Can you see any way in which Isaiah 3 resembles Leviticus? God spelled out laws, described beautiful garments, and even gave proper age ranges for his different kinds of servants. The story of Nadab and Abihu might help provide an example that parallels how people sometimes respond to God’s expectations. There are rewards and punishments in Leviticus. Step into the microcosm and share your observations on how we should really be seeking God’s blessing or avoiding His wrath.

Image Credit: Artist August Riedel Title: Judith Current location: Neue Pinakothek Source/Photographer: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen Wikimedia Commons

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Isaiah Chapter Two — Post by Mary C. Findley

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What are “the last days?” According to many Bible teachers, they are the time when the Lord has returned to govern the earth. Some people think they want to go to Heaven and be with God forever. Some think we never actually go there, but will live forever on earth. The beginning of this chapter seems to indicate that God will establish a place of worship on earth, in the New Jerusalem.

Whatever and wherever this place is, I want to be there.

And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.”
(Isaiah 2:3)

What would it be like to just have everyone want to go to God’s house and learn God’s ways? Right now we do everything we can to wriggle out of it. Commentator Matt Walsh said we are insane in America, trying to find reasons why going to church isn’t really a thing anymore when people in other parts of the world are dying to be able to go to church.

Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25)

When the Lord is the judge of all the world, there will be peace. Weapons become farm implements. Whoever says they are working for world peace and isn’t willing for God to be in charge is deceived or a deceiver. So many people know that verse about the plows and the swords but so few want that dominion to come. Submission to God means we lose our freedom, right? (I speak as a fool.)

Verse 6 says God abandoned His people? What? No! God never does that, does He? Well, if He did, why would He do it? Verses 6-9 explain that there seems to have been so much stuff in the land that there wasn’t any room for God. There are those influences of the east again, like we brought up in the last chapter. Mystical things and just plain things have crowded God out. Every class of people found itself devolving, losing touch with spiritual reality, forcing God out. And so, He went, because He wasn’t wanted.
He’s coming back, though, whenever “in that day” is, to humble mankind out of those feeling that they are on top of the world. Hide under the dust and rocks, people. Only the Lord should be on top of the world. This day of reckoning is when God says, “No more. No more idols, no more stuff, everybody down on the ground. Hide if you can …” but you can’t.

Terror and splendor don’t usually go together. But they look good on God. At least, they would, if we could look at Him. People will be too busy trying to survive, to hide, to toss away those objects of worship. Did Adam and Eve eat that whole fruit they took and shared? Or did they toss it, dig a hole and bury it, try in some way to hide it?
Some people hunt for buried treasure. Looking at the passage where it describes the mountains of riches these people accumulated, and their idols of silver and gold, I wonder how much buried treasure there will be when the Lord rises to make the earth tremble. (v. 19) No one will go hunt for it though.

The key to what people are really putting ahead of God is in verse 22. “Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?” People don’t really worship those false gods or those things. They worship themselves. Until they accept God’s humbling, they will never understand how terror and splendor can bring salvation.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
Briefly comment on what you think “the last days” means. Use two or three Scriptures as support.
What are reasons people give to justify not going to church? Are there any legitimate ones?
Why would God abandon His people?
What is man really worshiping instead of God? What is necessary for that to stop?
Your Turn in the Microcosm
Does Isaiah 2 in any way echo the message of the Book of Exodus? Does it show people insisting that they want to follow God? Any incidences of people seeing God’s clear provision and commands but shoving off in the other direction? Please share your thoughts on these parallels you find on your trip into the Isaiah Microcosm.

This is part 2 in an occasional series for a future book I am calling “The Isaiah Microcosm” Please let me know your thoughts on these posts, and how you would answer the questions at the end.

Image Credit: Composite of sunrise image by Paulbr75 and crowd scene by puzzleboxrecords on Pixabay Public Domain

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Isaiah Chapter One: The Price of Doing What You Want

Isaiah_(Bible_Card)

Isaiah was a prophet to four kings in Judah. His book is, in our modern version, 66 chapters long, the same as the number of the books in our Bible. Some have called it a microcosm of the whole Bible. Indeed, we can find many of the elements throughout the Bible in this one book, so studying it gives a chance to hit many of the highlights God wants us to discover throughout His Word.

Heavens and earth are called to witness the declaration. Creation has been an innocent witness to and victim of man’s rebellion from the time of the fall. Romans 8:18-25 details the correct attitude of believers, that of understanding that suffering is part of true service to God, because sin is not good and pleasant and enjoyable, but produces misery and anguish. Creation has longed for purging from the effects of sin ever since it entered the natural world.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:18-25, NASB)

This should have been the attitude of the Children of Israel in Isaiah’s time, but the truth was that they, instead of acting like sons raised up to love and serve their father, God, they revolted. They weren’t just indifferent or apathetic, they actively rebelled.
Trained domestic animals know better than these people about who to serve and obey. How can these people be ignorant? Sinful as a whole nation, burdened by all of that wickedness, generational guilt and corruption. Abandoning, despising, and turning away from God.

This has to be true because if the traditions were maintained, Jewish children were educated in the Law from an early age. They knew better, from the three methods God has always used:
1. the witness of creation,
2. the witness of His Word, and the message of the prophets. By this time they had numerous books of the Bible
3. plus teachers and prophets like Isaiah.

“There is no room for another mark.” Tars Tarkas said in the John Carter movie, speaking to his daughter Sola. Sola was punished for disobedience against her green Martian tribe by being branded each time she was caught. She had been punished so many times there was no space left on her body for the signs of her rebellion.

Whether this punishment in this movie was just or not isn’t the point. It illustrates the condition of the people of God. He had disciplined them for their true and unquestionable rebellion until there was no space that did not bear “bruises, welts, and raw wounds.” (Isaiah 1:6, NASB)

Put aside your socially-conditioned shock over corporal punishment, please. Even in our permissive society we reach a point where we have laws to try to correct wrongdoing. These were God’s attempts to lawfully correct His people’s wrongdoings. He just didn’t have any place left to administer correction.

From head to toe these people bore the marks of stubbornness and rebellion. The fact that they were untreated (raw) and “not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil” means that they were like sheep who wouldn’t even let a shepherd take care of the injuries sustained as part of the sheep’s natural tendency to wander and get itself injured or corrected with the rod. They’ve run from the tender aftermath where the father who had to discipline would love to take the rebel into His arms and administer comfort and display love.

The man-curated portion of creation also bears witness to rebellion. His structures created from God-supplied building materials are burned. His crops are stolen by invaders, as happened often throughout the book of Judges. These marauders devoured this food right in front of the Israelites. Desolation by strangers. A terrible fate.
This makes it clear that it wasn’t God who wanted to rob them of safety and sustenance. Enemies took the opportunity to swarm in because the people had trampled on God’s walls of protection. They smashed through those loving arms reaching out to defend them and embraced instead false gods and practices. In doing so they also invited in pain, misery, and loss.

All that was left was a little shack in an empty field, the place where someone was supposed to look after the crops as they grew. But there was nothing left to tend or protect. A besieged city will eventually run out of supplies and come to the end of its food and water. Israel had allowed itself to be surrounded and cut off from God’s help. Only a few survivors would remain because of God’s enduring mercy. They could have been wiped out, as Sodom and Gomorrah were, but God did not desire that.

How do we know that they were probably still following the traditions of teaching their children? Because they were following others, the sacrifices, the attendance at the Temple. We know this because God said they were sacrificing, but instead of enjoying the “sweet aroma,” as He has described it elsewhere, God said “I take no pleasure” calls them “worthless” and says “incense is an abomination.” He says “I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.” It’s as if you invited and important guest to dinner and served the garbage disposal scraps along with the real food. What were the Israelites thinking?

Just as the people were burdened with their sins in verse 4, God was burdened by their hypocritical sacrifices and growing weary of having patience, seeking true repentance in verse 14. That’s what sacrifices were supposed to be for, to show evidence of being sorry, turning away, and seeking forgiveness.

That’s not what these sacrifices were, though. When the Israelites prayed, they couldn’t even see that they were raising up bloody hands, stained by the innocent blood God says elsewhere that people were guilty of shedding. From evil kings all the way down to mothers who killed their own children, God recounts over and over again the horrors His own people were capable of committing. God will not, cannot, listen to the prayers of polluted people when they never give a thought to confessing and forsaking their sin but just feel like they have to carry out a ritual.

“Tradition!” shouts the cast of Fiddler on the Roof in the famous production number of the same name, but these traditions were empty of truth and meaning to those people in Isaiah’s time.

God begged and pleaded that they would see their sin, acknowledge it, and be cleansed from it. They needed to learn what the traditional education was supposed to be impressing on them, the basics of right human behavior.

These were such simple precepts. Stop doing evil. Learn how to do right. You don’t have to have superpowers to become a champion of justice. Tell bad people they are wrong. Stand up for children with no parents. Defend women left without husbands.
Did you think God was only interested in emotion, in mysticism? Then why does He invite us in verse 18 to reason together with Him? Because true belief isn’t weird. It isn’t mysterious and impossible to think through and understand.

God gives an object lesson. If you spill blood on something, it will stain. Just so, the people had stained themselves by killing the innocent. But blood can be washed out, even out of something pure white, like wool, and then it will be bright, clean, and shining pure again.

But of course He isn’t talking about literal blood or wool here. He’s talking about sin and its remedy. Sin is the destruction of innocence. People do murder innocents when they abort babies or leave newborns in a toilet or leave children in a cardboard box someplace because they didn’t want to protect them. The same goes for women who are attacked, molested, raped, or murdered because they are deemed easy prey.

In the days of Isaiah there were human sacrifices, usually children, but women were also victimized, used and discarded as temple prostitutes or subject to other monstrous mistreatment. Anytime we fail to value and protect life we are guilty of innocent blood.
Again, God appeals to simple reason in verse 19. Consent to obey, and you will have the best. Refuse and rebel, and the sword is coming to kill you. You have been warned, just as you are warned about the consequences of misbehavior when you accept a job.
If you keep abusing your position, stealing from your employer (so many ways to do that and no one can pretend they don’t know many ways to betray an employer’s trust) vandalizing his property, mistreating fellow employees, you could end up worse than fired. You could go to prison, at least. This is what the people were doing to God.

How does a person go from faithful to unfaithful? Just to unjust? Righteous to murderer? How does this happen in the heart of a man or woman today? A bride and groom do still sometimes exchange vows, including a pledge of fidelity. Believe it or not, this is still a thing in many marriage ceremonies, even nowadays.

Yet married couples betray each other by adultery, mistreat each other by hiding or misspending income, abuse each other with physical violence, and even murder a spouse, sometimes with the added horror of committing suicide afterwards. This can happen in other areas of life as well, following a pattern of initial faithfulness devolving into downward steps that end in some kind of terribly unnatural death.

Instead of maintaining valuable currency we have, like ancient Sparta, become satisfied with coinage worthless outside our own tiny circle. We can’t get anything but watered-down beverages because we don’t protect the value of things. We are led by the rebellious and form friendships with people who think stealing is just getting what you’re owed or the only way to get ahead. You can pay people to make you falsely successful. Nobody listens to the cries of the real needy, the orphans and the widows. They’re too busy chasing false success for themselves.

These people are adversaries of God. They oppose Him, and He will treat them like enemies in battle. He won’t put up with impurities like the dross in silver. Get ready for the lye soap, you dirty sinner. You will become pure by God’s washing and it won’t be comfortable or make you feel loved, since you didn’t want to be loved when you had the chance.

How do we get back to righteousness? Let God restore it. Stop rebelling. Give in to His wisdom in the choice of judges and counselors. He chose them in the time of the Judges, just to name one example. Wow! Would we have chosen Samson or Jephtha? God’s ways are not our ways, but He asks us to trust Him and to be obedient, not understand or know everything. “Trust and Obey” is far more than a song for children in Sunday school. It’s a life principle.

Only in that way can faithfulness be restored. God does it. We don’t do it. Our efforts fail and so do our sinful hearts. “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it.” But how do we get redeemed? By sacrifices? By struggling with our own version of righteousness? Nope. Once again, God does it. Verse 27 doesn’t say Zion redeems herself. It says she “will be redeemed.” How? By repentance.

What’s repentance? Simple. It’s when I’m walking that way, the way of sin, doing that thing that is opposed to God, and suddenly I say, “No. I’m going to walk the opposite way, and do the opposite thing!” You say and think the same thing about sin that God says. “No more! I oppose it! I turn my back on it.”

After all, transgressors, that is, people who turn off God’s path, ignore His signs so they can do things ‘way worse than walking on the grass, end up in the trash compactor. Hear that awful din when the garbage man comes with his big truck and those claws grab your can and hoist it into the air, emptying it into the maw of the crusher? Hear the roar and squeal and the grinding of the compactor mashing your trash into … yeah. That’s the fate of the sinner. You don’t want to be in God’s compactor. You don’t want to know what it means when God says these people will “come to an end.” (v. 28)

Why would you be ashamed of trees? Embarrassed by gardens? (v. 29) Maybe you don’t understand the Bible because you don’t see how the cultural applications are relevant today. Ever hear of a Zen Garden? Japanese and other Buddhists create these as a place where they can meditate. It’s a form of worship. False worship.

These trees, these gardens, mentioned in Isaiah, are places to worship false gods. You should be embarrassed if you are worshiping idols. Oh, you don’t worship any false gods? People throw around terms from other religions today, like feng shui, yoga, even mindfulness, claiming they are ways to get healthy, get focused, be more successful. They don’t see the idolatry. Or they don’t want to. These are obsessions with physical things that cross over into supposed spiritual benefits.

God uses parallels to visualize the fate of idolaters. Love to worship at that sacred tree? Watch the leaves wither and fall. Sitting and meditating in that mystical garden? It dries up without water. Who puts life into a tree or gives water to a garden? Look to the Source of life, God, and stop worshiping the mere life itself.

Not only are the tree and the garden temporary, not only do they die off, they dry up and so do the people who worship them. A man might seem strong and successful as he practices techniques of eastern mysticism, but if the focus is on the mere physical, something so temporary, when it dries up it could become just something to spark a fire. It could burn up. In fact, God says the idolater will burn up, no matter how strong he appears. No one can put out a fire that God starts, and He will start one, to do away with the idol and the idolater.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
1. Why is Creation a good witness for God to call upon?
2. How do we know that Israel should have known better than to rebel?
3. How should children respond to their father’s discipline? Why would they not respond correctly?
4. Why did God hate their sacrifices? What is the real purpose of sacrifice?
5. List some ways married couples can be unfaithful, and how this is a picture of man’s relationship to God.
6. Explain the meaning of repentance.
7. Share some cultural examples of idolatry that people may not realize they practice. What is their justification for doing these things?

Image Credit: Isaiah Bible Card from the Providence Lithograph Company, 1904. thebiblerevival.com Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

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Coming Soon: Conflict of the Ages Part V: The Ancient World

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coa 5 teacher ebook 25

“We forget everything. What we remember is not what actually happened, not history, but merely that hackneyed dotted line they have chosen to drive into our memories by incessant hammering.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell

And [Abraham] said unto [the rich man in Hades], “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” John 5:46-47

Setting the historical timeline straight, this volume takes you through the Conventional Chronology flaws to discovering the fallacy of the 500 years of dark ages secularists want to insert into World History. It’s unnecessary if you just believe the Scriptures and examine the evidence with a true open mind.

We are seeking Beta readers with a knowledge of history and/or science to help vet the book. Please let us know at mjmcfindley@gmail.com if you are interested! Following are just a few of the hundreds of illustrations to whet your appetite.

2 globes and supercontinent

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Mesopotamian Hematite weights

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Tortoise Shell Oracle Bone with early Chinese script

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Prologue to Hammurabi’s Law Code

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I. What Is an Establishment of Religion?

(This is an excerpt from Disestablish, a 50-page summary of the Antidisestablishmentarianism and Conflict of the ages series to date.)

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An establishment of religion is the collection of taxes and the enforcement of laws to both indoctrinate and require acceptance of a state religion. From the very beginning, pagan temples used an established religion to provide public festivals, sacred sex (temple prostitutes), public proclamations, public welfare, and education. Pagan establishments of religion had very human leaders being worshiped as gods. The most important requirement of an establishment of religion was the communication of the will of the tyrant to the people as the divine will.

The concept of an establishment of religion began very soon after the flood with Nimrod in Babel. Plato detailed what he thought to be the ideal establishment of religion in his work, Republic. Aristotle, China, Egypt, and every other ancient culture has writings detailing how their establishment of religion should work. Many others governments and cultures have nearly identical standards for a state or established religion. Though many kingdoms rose and fell, the practice of a state religion enforced on different populaces used paganism for more than 2,000 years. The spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire witnessed the disintegration of paganism and the old established religions, such as Rome where Caesar was both head of state and high priest (Pontifex Maximus).

During the Dark Ages, not only paganism, but all forms of government collapsed. During this time, established religions were separated from the head of state. In England, the Magna Carta opened with the words that “the English Church is to be free and to have all its rights fully and its liberties entirely.” In spite of these words, the monarch was still the head of Church, appointing the Archbishop Canterbury. On the European continent, the peace treaties of Augsburg and Westphalia allowed princes to worship in their own way and establish the religion of their choice in their territories, separate from the emperor. These treaties also permitted the worship of God in other ways besides the established religion. For one of the few times in history, people could worship God apart from the established religion.

As part of the ratification process of the first amendment of the US Constitution, all thirteen colonies put in writing their understanding of an establishment of religion. Without exception, an establishment of religion means government control, taxation and legislation of public worship, thoughts, ideas, education, welfare, and provisions for poor people. State establishments of religion were permitted under the newly-passed First Amendment to the US Constitution, though there was considerable disagreement as to this being a good idea. At the time of the ratification of the US Constitution, every one of the original thirteen colonies had some degree of an establishment of religion. In some colonies, such as Rhode Island, it provided little more than to make government buildings available for education. In other colonies, such as Virginia, clergy were paid through taxation. All of the original documents are available through http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/.

Several important men opposing any established religion of any kind were Roger Williams, William Penn, John Bunyan, George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, James Madison, and George Washington. Because these men were opposed to government control of welfare and education does not mean that they were opposed to education or helping people in need. In fact these men were the colonial leaders in raising funds to support charitable institutions and schools. George Whitefield founded an orphanage and spent the rest of his life raising funds for it.

There is no law, or even policy, for the separation of church and state in the United States. Separation of church and state is certainly not found in the Constitution. The very attempt makes a secular state into an establishment of religion. It was never the intention of the men who wrote these documents to have the state persecute the church; any church. It was the intent that no one church, or non-church, would be favored over others.

It is important to understand that during this time of defining an establishment of religion, Thomas Paine rejected not only Christianity, but all religion except humanism. By doing this, Thomas Paine brought the secular humanism of Plato’s Republic to America and desired to make a secular government our establishment of religion. But it would take over one hundred fifty years to turn those desires into the official policies of the United States government.

This book is free at all online ebook retailers

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/533318

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Disestablish-Overview-Creation-Ice-Age-ebook/dp/B00VPQERJ8

 

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Chapter Three: Counterfeiters, Imitators, and Enemies

(This is an excerpt from our book The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Readers’ and Writers’ Guide for Believers)

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Philippians Three has a strange statement at the beginning. So then, my brothers, keep on rejoicing in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you; indeed, it is for your safety. (3:1) You may think some things in this book are repetitive, but as Paul says, repetition aids safety. You can’t tell people too many times to keep rejoicing in the Lord. How is it for your safety? Several translations mention the idea of safety, but one says it is “necessary.” Apparently good writers repeat things for our own good.
Counterfeiters
Paul not only wants to remind us to keep rejoicing, but he also wants us to remember to be on guard against false teaching. We mentioned counterfeiting in the introduction. We wish we could just avoid counterfeit Christians, but they are all around us. They also write books, so we need to watch out for them in what we read.
Dogs
In the Jewish culture, dogs are unclean. So perhaps Paul, when speaking about dogs, may have meant that we are not to accept what is unclean. Peter had a vision before preaching to Cornelius in which God showed him not to call anything common or unclean, and he had to learn that lesson more than once. Paul accused him publicly of wrongdoing when he separated from Gentiles to gain favor with visiting Jews. Peter was not to treat non-Jews earnestly seeking truth any differently from his fellow Israelites.
This is not what Paul is talking about here. He does not want people to pollute the church by inviting in those who are not cleansed from sin. Some people think we must show love for all by including everyone, regardless of whether their message is true.
Some believers participate in ecumenical meetings where people who do not believe the Scriptures and who teach heresy are allowed equal participation. We cannot love everyone so much that we allow them to cause confusion at best and corruption at worst in our churches. We should not be sucked in to believing error and watering down the word by what we read, either.
Evil workers
Those who put human, or even spiritual, experiences above the Word of God are evil workers. The Old Testament Scriptures warned against believing a prophet who told the people to do things the law told them not to. This might seem obvious, that a message opposite to the Scriptures is wrong, but so many people are sucked in by books communicating a heart-wrenching story, a vision of angels, a life-altering experience. Humans cannot rely on their feelings to decide who and what to worship. That’s why we have the Word of God. It is the perfect standard.
Mutilators
In Paul’s day, people came to the Gentile Christians and told them they had to be circumcised in order to be truly saved. There is nothing wrong with being circumcised. It is not mutilation in itself. Paul circumcised Timothy when he began to be a part of the ministry. Physical things become mutilation when they are works that people say we must have as part of salvation. Justification is by faith alone. A writer whose book demands works as part of salvation is mutilating the faith.
Paul says his former assets are liabilities, because confidence in the flesh is the opposite of confidence in Christ. We cannot save ourselves by our works. People in books can and should do good works, but not as a way to become justified.
Imitators
You might think that an imitator is a fake or a bad thing. But Paul wanted to be an imitator of Christ. During our college years an instructor gave an illustration using a pattern. We lay it on a piece of fabric so that we can cut out something that is exactly the same. But what happens to us, as human beings, when we lay the pattern of Jesus Christ onto our lives and begin cutting? Sometimes God picks us up, holds us side by side with Christ, and says, “You don’t look much like My Son.”
Some of the people in the books we read, fictional or real, don’t look much like Jesus Christ. They are imitating something quite different. We don’t want to be influenced by the kinds of books that give us the wrong kinds of patterns to imitate.
Forsake self
Paul, as stated above, tossed everything he once valued — his human works — onto the rubbish heap. The pattern of Jewish tradition apart from the Scriptures wasn’t making him look much like the Messiah. It is because of him that I have experienced the loss of all those things. Indeed, I consider them rubbish in order to gain the Messiah. (v. 8)
Embrace faith
Paul admonished us to do as he had done, to be
found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but one that comes through the faithfulness of the Messiah, the righteousness that comes from God and that depends on faith.
(Philippians 3:9)
The books we read should teach this need to embrace this change, as Christ has embraced us, wholeheartedly.
Study Christ
I want to know the Messiah—what his resurrection power is like and what it means to share in his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, though I hope to experience the resurrection from the dead. (3:10)
How many books really teach us this kind of passion to know Christ better? How many self-help books really help us toward the goal of being Christlike in every aspect of our lives?
Emulate maturity
It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already become perfect. But I keep pursuing it. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in the Messiah Jesus. (3: 12-14)
Read books about the maturing process. Don’t dwell on the past, successes or failures, but keep seeking to answer God’s call and become more like Christ. Look at it as a prize to be won, not an ordeal to be suffered through.
Anticipate translation
Our citizenship, however, is in heaven … He will change our unassuming bodies and make them like his glorious body (3: 20-21)
Many books focus on this world, this life, and barely consider heaven. If they do, they focus on near-death experiences with visions of what it will be like, disregarding what it really takes to go there. We get to heaven by his glorious power. People practically worship heaven and angels in books, but we must worship Christ and focus on him.
Enemies
The Scriptures take two positions toward enemies. One is praying for their destruction. The other is Jesus Christ’s admonition to love your enemies. (Matthew 5:24)
Books that manage to balance those perspectives are excellent reading. Paul delivers his warning with a mixture of sadness and finality.
For I have often told you, and now tell you even with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of the Messiah. Their destiny is destruction. (3: 18-19)
Destiny of destruction
Loving your enemies does not mean you want them to keep on doing evil. Paul reassures believers that these people will not be able to continue to harm believers or the cause of Christ. Their days are numbered.
God of appetite
Easy believism, the prosperity gospel, and any beliefs that allow focus on self fall into the category of making your appetite your god. It is the opposite of everything Paul has been talking about. The shame is that it is common in Christianity.
Glory is shame
We read a blog that decried “divorce parties.” The writer was already angry that divorce would be considered a festive occasion. But a reader of his blog iced the cake by sagely justifying multiple divorces. What is wrong becomes right, and is then justified and even celebrated. Sin and freedom are almost synonymous in many books nowadays. Words are redefined to glorify what should be shameful.
Mind is earthly
For people who truly want to know Christ, the books written by shallow, world-bound people who claim to be Christians are easy to spot. But more and more people are losing their grip on the Scriptures and substituting expert opinions, devotional stories, commentary, studies, and popular sermons for Scriptures.

good bad ugly 25

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Dating the Ice Age Part Two: From the End of the Ice Age to the Destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD -- a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

         The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD — a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

For the Conflict of the Ages series, ancient history is the end of the Ice Age to the destruction of Jerusalem and the first temple by Babylon. The better preserved documents of Greece, Rome, China and India are Classic History for the Conflict of the Ages series. Ancient history is pieced together from millions of fragments. Classical History is based on better preserved, more complete documents.

The Conflict of the Ages Series relies on the timeline found in Hebrew History. The Scriptures are the most accurate, though they do not provide all the information necessary for complete history. For example, they do not reference any historical events in the Americas, India, China, or Sub-Sahara Africa. Other Jewish documents, such as the works of Josephus, are less reliable than the Scriptures, but still more accurate than most non-Hebrew sources. Next are the millions of other written documents. These are still more acceptable than the interpretations of artifacts.

We can construct an approximate timeline back to Moses. We begin with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. By working through the difficult numbering of the Hebrew kings, the Solomon began construction on his temple in 966 BC. So 480 years earlier Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. That was 1446 BC. Calendar conversions make all dates approximate, though close.

How long were the children of Israel in Egypt?

Acts 7:6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.

Genesis 15:13-16 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thous shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

1 Chronicles 6:1-3 The sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the sons of Kohath, Amram, Izha, and Hebron, and Uzziel. And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam.

[Levi begat Kohath. Kohath begat Amram. Amram begat Moses. Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses ]

Galatians 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Exodus 12:40, 41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt [LXX and in Chanaan], was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 2:15:2.2 They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month, four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came in Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt.

There is a detailed chart explaining these dates. It compares the age of Abraham, the events in the life of

Abraham. https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/how-long-were-the-israelites-in-egypt/

The date of the exodus is the key date. The covenant began when Abraham entered Canaan. Abraham was seventy-five years old. We accept the LXX reading of Egypt and Canaan as the land of their sojourning. That is also the traditional Jewish position. That was 430 years from the exodus.

Next is “evil treatment” of four hundred years. This begins thirty years after Abraham entered Canaan. Abraham is 105 years old. Isaac is 5 years old. Sarah is 95 years old. Ishmael is 19 years old. This the mocking of Ishmael and the expulsion of Hagar and Sarah. This is four hundred years from the Exodus.

While the 215 year number of Josephus for the year Jacob (Israel) entered Egypt is not inspired, it fits the chronology. With long longer lifespans, and Moses 80 years old when Israel left at the exodus, the four generations in Egypt also fits.

So using 1446 BC as the date of the exodus, Abraham entered Canaan in 1876 BC when he was 75. So Abraham was born in 1951 BC. Abraham was born 292 years after the end of the flood. This makes the flood 2243 BC of our calendar. It has the creation of the world in 3899 BC

Compared to secular humanist history, these dates are very close to Ussher’s dates. Ussher has the flood ending in 2348 BC, Abraham entering Canaan at 75 years old in 1921 BC, the Exodus at 1491 BC, the foundation of Solomon’s temple laid in 1012 BC, the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 588 BC.

The Jewish calendar using AM (the year of the world) dates from creation. The destruction of the temple by the Babylonians is 3338 AM. (Sedar Olam).

Our calendar has only 3313 years from creation to the destruction of the first temple, for a difference of 25 years with the traditional Jewish calendar.

Compared to secular dating schemes, these differences with Ussher and the Jewish calendar are insignificant.

2243 BC The end of the Flood
1876 BC Abraham enters Canaan
1661 BC Jacob (Israel moves to Egypt)
1446 BC the Exodus
966 BC The foundation of the temple laid
586 BC Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian armies destroy
Jerusalem and the first temple

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