Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A two part look at the southern US border situation and influx of people: part 2

In part 1 we looked at migrations since bible times, and what the bible says about treating the foreigner residing among us.

In current times, mass migrations of populations still occur with regularity.

The BBC writes of the greatest mass movement of populations ever:
The end of World War Two brought in its wake the largest population movements in European history. Millions of Germans fled or were expelled from eastern Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, survivors of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis, sought secure homes beyond their native lands. And other refugees from every country in eastern Europe rushed to escape from the newly installed Communist regimes.
From Wikipedia we learn of immigration to the United States that,
  • Nearly 14 million immigrants entered the United States from 2000 to 2010.
  • From 1836 to 1914, over 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States.
  • The peak year of European immigration was in 1907, when 1,285,349 persons entered the country
  • Today Mexico is largest sending country with 135,000 annually (escaping poverty) and China is next with 71,000 (escaping industrial pollution). Mexico has been #1 sender and China #2 since at least 1990
In 1921, America installed a nation-by-nation quota on how many to allow in from each sending nation. Entry could be monitored and thus immigrants absorbed without overwhelming the services, lands, towns and cities. It was done away within 1965.

But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:34)

In 2001 there was an issue in a city north of where I was living, Lewiston Maine. PBS reported in 2007:
Somali refugees began arriving in Lewiston, Maine (pop. 36,000) six years ago. Word spread that Lewiston had good schools, a low crime rate and cheap housing — and the Somalis began arriving in droves.
The NY Times wrote,
More than 1,000 have poured into this city of 36,000 in the last 18 months. Immigration experts said they could not think of another city that, proportionately speaking, had absorbed so many newcomers so quickly.
Lewiston is mill city. Unemployment was high, so the draw of Somalis was not due to an availability of easily obtained jobs. Maine's climate is well known for its long, frigid winters with heavy snowfall, in contrast to Somalia's climate at the desert equator with some of the highest mean temperatures in the world. So the draw was not the climate. Rumors went circulating among the Lewistonians that the Somalis were relocating to Lewiston from their initial settlement in Georgia because the welfare was better in Maine. Interviews with some of the newly settled confirm this was a prominent factor in their migration from Somalia to Clarkston GA to Lewiston Maine, with families back home getting the word that Lewiston was the place to come to.

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)

So, once word was out, Somalis arriving "in droves" swamped the city. Public Schools were scrambling to find ESL teachers. Interpreters were in short supply. Social service organizations and job trainers were overwhelmed. Housing went from 20% vacancy rate down to 7% vacancy rate a few years later but rents went up accordingly. In frustration, and of concern for both the newly arriving Somalis and the beleaguered citizens of his city, in 2002 Mayor Laurier Raymond wrote an open letter to the Somali community. He pleaded with them to discourage others from settling in Lewiston. He said:
"Please pass the word: We have been overwhelmed and have responded valiantly. Now we need breathing room. Our city is maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally."
The letter received nationwide attention, and sparked a firestorm. Racial tensions increased. Religious tensions increased, Lewiston is one of the most Franco cities in the US and heavily Catholic. The Somalis were Muslim. Things have died down now, more than ten years later, but it hasn't been an easy ride.

Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. (Deuteronomy 23:7)

Tensions arise and issues exist among legal immigrants when they pour in to one location in a sort space of time. What of illegal immigration? The lure of free stuff, a better life, and/or safety still draws people. The current immigration crisis at the Mexican border with the United States began in early June. Here is some news:

Illegal women, kids swarm US via Mexico after home countries report Obama ‘amnesty,’ free legal aid
Driven by an agricultural disaster and lured by news reports in their home countries that a feckless Obama administration has essentially declared amnesty for illegal aliens, thousands of women and children are flooding holding centers in Texas and Arizona. Since being overwhelmed by an influx of illegal immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border last month, including huge numbers of children unaccompanied by adults, the Department of Homeland Security has been transporting migrants – by bus and plane — from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to sites in Arizona, The Associated Press reported. The immigrants are mainly coming from Central America, which makes it more difficult to deport them than just sending them back to Mexico.

“They keep coming. This will not stop. The call has gone out to Central American countries, countries abroad, that if you get here the doors are open,” Wilder said.  KRGV Channel 5, in the border town of McAllen, Texas, reported that migrants from Central American countries like Guatemala are hearing news reports at home that mothers with children are being welcomed in the U.S. with plane and bus tickets to the interior.
In 2011 when North Africa lit up in warfare, (Libya, Egypt, Algeria)...hordes of refugees fled from Tripoli to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, 70 miles away. 10,000 per month were flooding in. Lampedusa's total area is 7 sq miles big. That's it.
But the island was overwhelmed by a surge of more than 30,000 migrants between February and April this year. Aid workers based on the island say the situation, although difficult, has since improved. (source)
The island lies closer to mainland Africa — only 80 km from the Tunisian coast — than Italy, making it a key gateway for migrants searching for a way into Europe. Lampedusa’s 6,000 residents are often outnumbered by thousands of migrants housed in improvised camps on the island. (source)
Just like with the Somalis to Lewiston in 2001, once the call goes out about ease of entry, whether true or not, and once the call goes out that plenty of free stuff awaits the immigrants, whether true or not, it is hard to stem the flow. Remember, Isaiah said the wicked are like the restless sea.

But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, (Isaiah 57:20).
"Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama's lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement last week. The White House had pushed back on that claim — until now. Their reversal comes after a Border Patrol memo, obtained and distributed by the conservative Center for Immigration Studies said the main reason migrants traveled to the U.S. was to "to take advantage of the 'new' U.S. law that grants a free pass or permit" from the U.S. government. Other reasons included gang violence, economic opportunity, and domestic abuse. (source)
Winslow Homer "Northeaster" 1895

That means they are without hope. Sinners escaping sin. Hopeless people more than anyone else need to reach a dream, need to seek a gleam of light somewhere in their dark world. What they grasp will be illusions and foam, striving after wind, even if they DO make it in and find a place to settle. But they don't know this. So they try. They come.

They have no hope in Jesus, no certainty of His promises for this world and the next. Worse still, they live in grinding, generational poverty, terror-inducing generational war violence, or subsistence farming where one bug can wipe out a life's work. No wonder at the drop of a hat they'll get on a bus with their child and head north to the land of opportunity.
June 16, 2014: This year, the number of migrant children U.S. officials will apprehend along the border is expected to triple, according Customs and Border Protection. According to the memo, more than 90,000 migrant children are expected to be apprehended this year — and possibly as many as 140,000 next year. The number of unaccompanied children grabbed by border agents already grew by more than 10,000 from 2012 to 2013.
The situation is rapidly becoming a humanitarian crisis. Every day, hundreds of children cross the border, mostly making their way from violence-stricken areas in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. They have overwhelmed Border Patrol resources significantly in the Rio Grande area, and many migrants have been sent to processing facilities in Arizona. The causes for the influx are many, but a large portion are children fleeing increased drug and gang violence. (source)
Winslow Homer "The Life Line"
The situation at the border is a humanitarian crisis as well as a legal nightmare. How or why it is happening is less of an immediate concern than exists the problem of what to do. These are human beings, 'foreigners residing among us' as the bible says. Some are met with compassion. Others are met with anger.

Last week, it was reported from Florida that,
With more than 51,000 unaccompanied Central American children already here, and more expected to come, school officials ask the federal government for a helping hand.  Border kids costs more to educate, about $1,900 per head. Teachers must be bilingual. The students will need health care and psychological services because many arrive sick and traumatized by things they’ve seen and experienced on their journeys north
There is no doubt that sudden mass displacements either from refugees or immigrants, legal or otherwise, destabilize countries. Last month, Reuters reported from Iraq.

U.N. cites destabilizing risk of mass Iraqi refugee exodus
A senior U.N. humanitarian official on Tuesday flagged the risk of a mass exodus of Iraqi refugees from sectarian bloodshed overwhelming nearby countries already reeling from nearly 3 million uprooted Syrians. ... "Looking at the situation of the countries of the region, I mean Syria is obviously not a possible destination (for Iraqi refugees), Jordan is now having the enormous pressure of the Syrian refugees," Guterres said. "So it's difficult to see how the region can cope with another big refugee outflow.
Two weeks ago, it was reported that,

Syrian Refugee Crisis Destabilizes Jordan
Almost 2 million people have fled Syria since the civil war began in early 2011, according to U.N. numbers. By some estimates 800,000 of these poured into neighboring Jordan, a traditional safe haven for refugees from previously war-stricken regions such as Iraq and Palestine. This influx is taking a heavy toll on the Arab nation which by the end of the year may host as many as a million refugees.  Instability in Jordan creates a dangerous situation for the region.
So in addition to the humanitarian crisis, the legal crisis, the political crisis, there now perhaps may be a threat to the stability of the United States through destabilizing the nation with a tsunami of refugees from Central America. Though in the face of the massive and longer term displacements from Syria and Iraq, and now Gaza, the few thousand along the lengthy US border can be put into a different perspective.It's not so many people. And Turkey and Jordan are handling their thousands inflowing than we are handling our hundreds.
Winslow Homer "High Cliff" 1894

What are we to do? Is this the proper response?
The national controversy over a surge of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. border established a new battleground this week in a small Southern California town, where angry crowds stopped detained migrants from entering their community. The sentiment carried over to a raucous Wednesday night meeting at a Murrieta high school auditorium. Border Patrol and immigration officials got an earful. "This is an invasion," attendee Heidi Klute said before a full house. "Why isn't the National Guard stopping them from coming in?"
Not just Californians are angry, not just Floridians, but Texans as well. One woman at a raucous town meeting said, “What we see is not immigration, but an invasion, a deliberate invasion.”

When resources are scarce, people react with anger and fear. 9/11 changed Americans' attitudes toward immigration, fewer believed it was a good thing for the US overall. 68% down to about half, 52%. (Wikipedia). With strange diseases popping up, and with the extreme drought already stretching local resources, residents react angrily.

And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:15-16)

I do not have the answers. All I can offer is a historical perspective on nations, people-movements, and reasons for such restless seas. What is happening in the southern part of the US is not anything new. It isn't particularly invasive, either, compared to the influx to Jordan and Turkey from Syria, and Lampedusa from Egypt and Libya. I can offer the biblical verses that shows Jesus  wants us to be compassionate and to show hospitality. I know it's easy for me to say that far from the areas of tension. My water isn't running out. My services aren't stretched to the limit. My fears of crime or disease aren't ignited. But isn't that an opportunity for Christians in those areas to practice peace, love, and hospitality? Isn't it an opportunity to show that we know we are not of this nation, we ourselves are sojourners and strangers. We long for a better country, we yearn to be reunited with our friends and families in heaven. is a fact that the bible also says to submit to the authorities. We can't violate civil law. John MacArthur was asked about illegal immigrants in 1985-

Answering Tough Questions About the Christian and Government
You might not realize this but we have had to deal with that not on a few occasions, of people who have come into the United States, for example, across the Mexican border or from Latin America, they come to California, they come to Los Angeles, they come to Grace Community Church, they come to a Bible study or whatever, perhaps in the Spanish department, they come to know Jesus Christ, they are saved, they become a part of the church and then we discover they're here illegally. What is our responsibility?

Well the position we have taken on that is that our responsibility is to report them as illegal but do all we can to demonstrate that there are means to maintain their residence and presence and stand along side in any way we can to assist and help. But again, not to harbor them in violation of the law.

Now somebody is going to say, "Well, I mean, if they go back they're not going to have any Christian friends, and so forth and so forth and so on." The issue is not that, the issue is you obey what God says and you trust Him to take care of the circumstances. If we had a God who couldn't be trusted, we might have a little problem here, right? If we had a God who couldn't take care of them without us, we might worry about it. And so it becomes a situation where we need to go to the authorities and let them know what the situation is. We had a young man in a very unique situation some years ago. Came to the United States because he had kidney failure, couldn't get dialysis in Mexico. Came to the United States, found here the ability to live and was saved, became a part of Grace Community Church and there he was an undocumented illegal alien, desperately in need to be here not only for spiritual reasons but for physical ones as well. And I don't remember all the details of the situation except my memory serves to point out the fact that we did everything we could with the authorities who are not without some compassion and he was able to stay until eventually, I believe, he went to be with the Lord.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”  But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29).

That is the question. Who is my neighbor? Where is the peaceful shore?

A two part look at the southern US border situation and influx of people

Part 2 here

Winslow Homer "Northeaster"
But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20)

[The ungodly are] wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:13)

The sea is an apt metaphor for the restlessness of the ungodly. They toss and turn, go to and fro, casting up muck and mire with ungodly thoughts and deeds. In Jude, he is speaking of infiltrating false teachers, but the metaphor is apt also to apply in general to the ungodly, their foaming spray prevents clear vision and in fact has no substance.

They waves dash themselves against the rocks, attempting to breach the ordained boundaries and come on a flood.

The situation at the southern border of the United States with Mexico has been in the news this past month. Thousands upon thousands of people are flooding across the border, seemingly unhindered. Many of these are children. It is difficult to determine why so many, why now. We have always has a porous border but it seemed that the limits were holding somewhat, but then last month the border suddenly collapsed and they came on in droves.

What do we call these people? Immigrants? Illegals? Refugees?
Winslow Homer "Summer Squall" 1904

I was asked to look into the situation and write about it. As with anything I write, I don't like to simply put something out there and leave it adrift without context. Nor do I like to write something without having a solid Christian perspective on it. I like to embed a news piece or a situation in history and place a context on it, so we can understand what it means.

What is this crisis? Is it a humanitarian crisis? A refugee crisis? An illegal immigrant crisis? A deliberate enemy combatant strategy in asymmetrical warfare?

It might do to look at a few things first. Nations are artificial. Originally, God had us on one continent, speaking one language. One race, one people. After the flood, the bible seems to hint that the continents were broken up geologically and separated by seas.

To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan. (Genesis 10:25)

In that way, the geography of nations was born. Genesis 10 outlines the Table of Nations and the fathers of those nations.

The population problem grew and grew. Nimrod settled the plains of Shinar and founded Babylon. He led the inhabitants into an apostasy revolt and built a tower to a false god. So God confused the languages and scattered the people across these recently divided lands. (Genesis 11:7-8). And so, the peopled nations were born. It was the first mass migration.

Winslow Homer, "After the Hurricane" 1899
Ever since, the peoples have been a restless sea, as Isaiah metaphorically proposed, throwing up muck and mire. After the end of the church age during the Tribulation, the antichrist will arise from 'the sea',

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. (Revelation 13:1).

Pulpit Commentary says of the sea in this verse,
The sea, again, is the type of instability, confusion, and commotion, frequently signifying the ungovernable nations of the earth in opposition to the Church of God
In some cases, peoples didn't emigrate willingly. War or persecution struck many. The Old Testament has commands for how to treat "the alien" or the asylum seeker.

In fact, a multitude of Hebrews left Egypt with Moses. Jesus and his family fled persecution from Israel to Egypt. Leviticus 19:34 says,

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Other translations of the Leviticus verse say 'resident alien' or 'foreigner among you'.

And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.  (Deuteronomy 10:19)

Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. (Deuteronomy 23:7)

Winslow Homer "Undertow" 1886
In the New Testament, Matthew 10:23 describes persecution as one reason for mass migration.

But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.

Acts 8:1 records the persecutory migration of Christians from Jerusalem outward:

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Ever since the separation of peoples into nations, they have moved restlessly from one side of the earth to another for one reason or another. They search for food (As Naomi and Ruth did). Sometimes they are captured and unwillingly brought to a new nation, as Daniel and his people were. (Daniel 1:1-3). Sometimes war and pestilence force them out. as the Acts 8:21 verse shows.

After Adam and Eve were forced to relocate from the Garden of Eden, they settled. Eve bore Seth, and they began to worship the LORD by name. (Genesis 4:26). Apostate, God-hater and rebellious Cain left that place, and he wandered. Cain left in search of a land that would accept him. He settled in Nod, east of Eden, and built a city; Genesis 4:16-17. Since the beginning, individuals, tribes, races, and whole populations have always moved. It is no different in these days.
Migration has always been a part of human history. But because of the widespread changes caused by globalization, more people are migrating than ever before. In the last 25 years the number of people on the move has doubled from 100 million to over 200 million.  Many migrants are forcibly uprooted and approximately 30-40 million are undocumented worldwide. (Source)
As one of the most complex issues in the world, migration underscores not only conflict at geographical borders, but also between national security and human insecurity, sovereign rights and human rights, civil law and natural law, and citizenship and discipleship. (Groody, NCR) (Source)
Winslow Homer "Eight Bells" 1886
From small tribes to mass emigrations, as Isaiah said, the unsaved are restless. Until the coming of the Son of Man, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, to install His Kingdom and deliver peace...the people as the sea will always be looking for a new horizon, a better horizon.

Part 2, the migrations of today, including the southern US border.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The first and last women mentioned in the bible

Jezebel, Byam Shaw, 1898.
I recently studied the four women of Revelation. My favorite books are Genesis and Revelation. I love firsts and lasts, the beginnings and endings of things. The 4 women of Revelation are the Jezebel of Rev 2 representing the pagan church, Woman clothed with the Sun in Rev 12 representing Israel, the Whore of Babylon of Rev 17 representing the apostate church, and the Wife of Rev 21 representing the true church.

So here is how the Holy Spirit extended my thinking some more. I was thinking about the covenant of marriage as described in the bible and reading some passages from the bible.

I took a break and was watching a tv show online from 15 years ago that used to be on the Pax channel, called Hope Island. It is a family oriented drama, a kind of faith show. It is an excellent show, the best scripted drama Pax ever put on, and it got high reviews and fan raves. So they canceled it right away. But enough about my grief.

In the episode I was watching, two main characters are getting married. She is 25 and still lives at home, not with her intended husband-to-be. Even by 1999 standards this was unusual. So the ceremony was concluded with all due gravitas and it was good, and I got to thinking about marriage and what it means to be a wife.

And then I realized that in my penchant for thinking of extremes, firsts and lasts, that if I learned in my study time a few days ago the last woman mentioned in the bible is "Wife/Bride".
Whore of Babylon, Russian engraving, 1800s

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” (Revelation 22:17)

The first woman mentioned in the bible was wife also!

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:22-25)

God takes marriage very, VERY seriously. In watching the very good clip of Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation explaining why gay marriage doesn't exist, it hammers the point home even more. And not just homosexual marriage, bigamy or polygamy is an affront to God. Divorce is also, if done under any conditions but the allowances given in the bible. The first woman is mentioned as wife in Genesis and at the end in Revelation the entire human history is seen to be God's gathering a wife for His Son.

Margaret Murray Prior, 1882 wedding dress
It also brings home the importance of women in God's plan. Complementarians know this, but egalitarians don't. God loves His people. He made two genders and two genders only. This is for many reasons, some obvious and some known only to God. But one thing is sure, one reason was so that we could unite and form a marital union ordained by God, grown by God, and pleasing to God.

And pleasing God is the thing for which we are made.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10).

Angels are an amazing part of the created order

Angels figure very, very prominently in the NT. People don't really know this, or they overlook angels int he created order. At the other end of the scale, some are so preoccupied with angels they nearly fall into angel worship.

In terms of the Providence of God, if Ezekiel's wheels within wheels are a kind of visible/invisible machinery of providence (as Spurgeon described it in his sermon "God's Providence" #3114), then perhaps the other angels are also a kind of visible/invisible machinery of God's providence, like we glimpsed in Jacob's ladder. (Genesis 28:12)

Dr RC Sproul has two lectures available on angels, part 1 & 2. He said the Greek word for angel appears in the NT more often than does the Greek word for sin (hamartanĂ³). It also appears more often than the Greek word for love (agape).
Chris Koelle Book of Revelation Graphic Novel

Sproul taught from Hebrews and Colossians and also 2 Kings, and said it was obvious given the texts devoted them that there had been a problem in the first century of people giving them junior deity status and ascribing worship to them, with even Paul & Silas being mistaken for angels.

But with all the warnings not to overestimate angels in their position, neither does the NT deny the importance of them, Sproul said.

He also said something interesting,
Part of the problem we have with angels, is that we tend to associate angels with the supernatural realm. We think of the angels as being a supernatural being. In one sense it is correct to call angels a supernatural being. In another sense it's quite dangerous to refer to them as supernatural beings, because the one thing that's clear in the scriptures about the nature of angels is that they belong to nature. They belong to the created order. Angels are not divine. Angels are creatures, part of the original creation that God made. In THAT sense, angels are natural beings.
The reason they are looked at as supernatural beings is because of their constituent nature. The bible tells us they are creatures, but they differ from us and animals and plants in that their nature is a spirit nature rather than a physical or a material nature. Because they are spirit beings under normal circumstances, they remain invisible to the naked eye. Unless they manifest themselves in a kind of angelophany, their basic nature is invisible, dwelling in a realm that is invisible to us.
RC Sproul
Sproul said, how often do we think of angels? Of course we're not to adore them, or be preoccupied with them, but we are to give them due meditation, as they are an important part of the order and are referred to frequently in the bible. He said we need to be thinking about why there is such a heavy concentration of angels at certain times in history.

This was something that was brought to my attention back some years when I listened to John MacArthur preach through Revelation. It was an eye-opening series in many ways.

Sproul's lectures focused on the angels as messengers and angels as ministering spirits. But that is not all they are. Angels are also vehicles of Judgment. It is angels who mainly bring the judgments of Revelation. For example,

Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. ... Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:2, 6-7)

In addition to angels being part of the machinery of God's providence, messengers, ministering agents, judgment-bringers, they are also warriors.

Archangel Michael fighting the Dragon, Durer 1497
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven (Revelation 12:7)

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)

Angels are an amazing part of the created order! I recommend both of the Sproul lectures. They are about 25 minutes each.

RC Sproul: Angels Part 1
RC Sproul: Angels part 2

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones also has a series on angels, here
S. Lewis Johnson preached about angels from Hebrews 1:4-6, Angels Worship the Son!
John MacArthur preached "Angels- God's Invisible Army"

Enjoy learning about angels, our ministering helpers, messengers of God, fighters against evil for our Holy Trinity.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ryan Anderson explains why gay marriage doesn't exist

Here is a 4-minute clip well worth watching for its logical, lawyerly speech regarding marriage. The responder is Ryan Anderson. Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

The homosexual man at the microphone is asking why he, as a married gay man, can't have the same tax advantage when it comes time to file IRS tax returns, as a heterosexually married couple.

Anderson is brilliant in his response. The homosexual man doesn't seem to understand the underlying principle of what Anderson tried to get at three times, so finally Anderson answers the gay man's question within its limited scope. But he does that brilliantly too.

Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh
. (Genesis 2:23-24)

Anderson said in part:
Marriage is a union of sexually complementary spouses, a permanent, exclusive union- man & woman, husband & wife, mother & father. If you're not interested in entering into that sort of union, you're not being discriminated against.
What you're asking us to do is redefining marriage to include "the adult relationship of your choice." The relationship of your choice happens to be a same-sex couple. There are other adults who want to redefine marriage to include a relationship of their choice, which may be the same-sex throuple, or the opposite sex quartet.
It's like this. There is the color red. Red is known, it is certain. It is defined "of a color at the end of the spectrum next to orange and opposite violet, as of blood, fire, or rubies."
EPrata photo
Now say some people came along and wanted to add yellow to the color red. They agitated for it, proclaimed, exhorted, fought for yellow to be added to red, just because they thought that would be good.
EPrata photo

And say that they were successful in getting yellow added to red. You don't have red anymore. You have orange.

Because red and yellow make orange. Once you mix another element into the red, it becomes something else, and the old definition won't fit anymore. People will not recognize the old thing because now it is a new thing.

Once you add same-sex humans to the old definition of marriage, it isn't marriage anymore and it isn't recognizable.

The homosexual man asked as a final question, why he, Anderson didn't think that he, the gay man, had the right to get married.

Anderson concluded with this:
It's not that you don't have a right to get married, it's that what you are seeking out, isn't marriage.

Mission: Peru

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

We just prayed over and sent our 12-member mission team off to Lima, Peru. May God bless their steps and carry their words on the wind of the Spirit. Lord, may You loosen their tongues so they boldly speak of the Savior. May angels minister to them, and smooth their way. Prepare divine appointments and receptive hearts. May You keep them in Your hand as they go out and share the Gospel to the ends of the world.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Historic Centre of Lima, Peru. Wiki CC. Photo by Martin St-Amant

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Scripture photo: drink offering

Easton's Bible Dictionary: Drink Offering
Consisted of wine (Numbers 15:5; Hosea 9:4) poured around the altar (Exodus 30:9). Joined with meat-offerings (Numbers 6:15, 17; 2 Kings 16:13; Joel 1:9, 13; 2:14), presented daily (Exodus 29:40), on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9), and on feast-days (28:14). One-fourth of an hin of wine was required for one lamb, one-third for a ram, and one-half for a bullock (Numbers 15:5; 28:7, 14). "Drink offerings of blood" (Psalm 16:4) is used in allusion to the heathen practice of mingling the blood of animals sacrificed with wine or water, and pouring out the mixture in the worship of the gods, and the idea conveyed is that the psalmist would not partake of the abominations of the heathen.
What is a drink offering?
Answer: The first recorded occurrence of a drink offering was that given by Jacob in Genesis 35:14, right after God changed his name to Israel. Drink offerings were also included with burnt and grain offerings in God-ordained sacrifices, including the morning and evening sacrifices of Exodus 29:40.

One-quarter hin, about one quart, of wine was poured out into the altar fire for each lamb sacrificed (Numbers 15:4-5). A ram sacrifice required one third of a hin (Numbers 15:6), and a bull required one half (Numbers 15:10).  It has been speculated that the offering of an animal, grain, oil, and wine—the smoke making a “soothing aroma to the LORD”—is a metaphor for providing food for God, an important cultural requirement in the Middle East. What we do know is that the pouring out of a drink offering is a metaphor for the blood Jesus spilled on the cross. Jesus spoke to this directly in Luke 22:20 when He instituted the New Covenant. He picked up a cup of wine and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the need of a drink offering, His blood literally pouring out when the soldier pierced His side with a spear (John 19:33).

Paul took the metaphor further, twice using the image of a drink offering to describe his own service. In Philippians 2:17, he challenged the church in Philippi to live a life worthy of his dedication to them. In 2 Timothy 4:6, he sensed the end of his ministry, again comparing his efforts to wine poured out of a vessel onto an altar.