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Posts Tagged ‘Ezekiel’

For the past couple of years, God has been slowly teaching me about mercy.  I have all these questions.  Some days I have cried out to Him, not knowing enough truth to decide what to trust Him for.  Who are You?  How do You work towards us when we fail?  How long is Your long-suffering?  What do You still accomplish through us when we hold back from You?  

I think that the reason I have struggled so much with these things is that the answers are not the same for every person, every time.

This is something I discovered last week when I pondered Isaiah 59:2.  It is not new with me, to be uneasy about this verse and the way I have learned to use it.  Allow me to quote it:

But your iniquities have separated you from your God, 

and your sins have hidden His face from you, 

so that He will not hear.”  

Growing up, I memorized this verse to use in presenting the gospel.  But, is that a right division of the word of God?

Firstly, the verse is in an Old Testament prophecy to the nation of Israel.  By extension, since it says “your God,” we might apply it to those who claim YHWH as their God, namely Christians.  But it seems rather far-fetched to apply it to all humans, particularly to speak it to those whose very condition is having rejected God as their God.

The prophecy itself is directed not as an eternal promise or principle towards God’s chosen people, but as a message to them at a certain time.  In context, the passage reads: “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.”  God is able to save, but in this case, He is not willing.  Israel’s sins did not constrain God; they provoked Him, and this was His response.

God’s use of the terms “separated” and “hidden” and “not hear” apparently do not prevent Him from knowing the situation, from speaking to them, or acting on their behalf (see Isaiah 59:16-21).  This does parallel the situation with the unsaved, for “when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”  The terms, however, suggest a serious, but less desperate situation.  Israel’s national sins caused a covenant-based relational rift in their help from God.  The individual’s state of sin leaves him an enemy, justly deserving of God’s wrath, and unable to accomplish anything good, doomed – apart from the grace of God – to suffer punishment for his rebellion through ongoing eternal spiritual death in hell.

Though in a sense we may say that our sin-nature and our sinful acts have separated us from God, the Bible’s language of salvation and the gospel does not use that picture, of separation.  The New Testament frequently refers to salvation as as being changed from enemies by Jesus’ death on the cross and by His resurrection to reconciliation with God.  The Bible says that we were dead in our sins, but that God makes us alive, gives us eternal life as spiritually born children of God.  I favor these metaphors to that of “separation”.  In part, they speak much more dramatically to our salvation being useful immediately, and not merely to keeping us out of hell after we die.

In addition, when we are preaching the gospel, we are telling people to “call on the name of the Lord” to be saved.  The good news we are sharing is that because of Jesus’ work, God will hear that prayer.

Returning to God dealing with those who are His, does He always treat their sin with a cold shoulder?  In Ezekiel, God addressed similar sins by saying that when Israel would seek Him, He would answer them (and it would be a fearful thing)!  Hebrews says that God deals with those He loves as sons, chastening them to produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  He is a merciful God who, without excusing doubt and disobedience, continues to reveal Himself, to teach, to work through us.  He often pursues us to bring us to full repentance, to have peace and intimacy with us when we are fully yielded to Him.  But He may do good, un-thwarted by our turning aside to our own ways.

But I do not believe that God is obligated to show mercy in this way.  He may refuse to heed our prayers, as David acknowledged:  “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.”  So it makes sense to me to ask Him to be merciful, if He will allow us to pray this way.

I praise God for the times that He has elected to have mercy on me, and I continue to cry out to Him, begging Him to be merciful towards me and towards those I love.

To God be all glory, 

Lisa of Longbourn

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Really, I’m going to try to summarize and make a few points.  But Joel Rosenberg has a lot better idea what’s going on, and will give you much more information.  Use his links in this post on the Flotilla Crisis.

If you catch the news at all, you’ve probably heard that a week or two ago Israel boarded some aid ships off the coast of Gaza, which eventually resulted in the death of several of those on board (10) and the injuries of several Israeli Defense Soldiers (5).  Perhaps like me you did not know until this even that there was a blockade of Gaza.  Though I’m not surprised.  There’s always something happening in Israel.  If they’re not fighting, they’re containing, and if they’re not containing, they’re appeasing.  Both appeasing and containing lead to fighting.  It’s the way things go in Israel.

So Israel is surrounded by enemies.  Some are official nations and others are terrorist organizations or individuals.  Many work for the UN.

The closest of Israel’s enemies spend a lot of time and money shooting missiles at Israel, hitting the peaceful civilian population.  This is supplemented by the occasional explosive terrorist attack at a wedding or a bus station or some well-populated place (similar to huge office buildings in downtown New York City).  Citizens of Palestine, and the terrorist armies on the northern border of Israel, too, are supplied with weapons, training, men, and propaganda support by such do-gooders as Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Al-Qaeda, the PLO…  All of these groups have stated that it is their mission to kill Jews and eradicate Israel.

So Israel has tried a lot of things.  Several years ago they ceded whole tracts of land to the Palestinians as a means of appeasement.  Rather, they used this land to train terrorists and stage their attacks.  The democratic elections put the terrorist group Hamas in control of the Palestinian territory, and anarchy in varying levels ensued.  Bombs keep getting shot into Israeli territory.  This is so commonplace that we in America almost never hear about it.

Recently, Israel got fed up.  They, together with Egypt, announced a blockade of Gaza.  The purpose, of course, is to prevent any more terrorists and their vicious weapons from getting to Israel’s neighbors who keep swearing to blow them to kingdom come.  Israel made it clear that they would allow food and medical supplies, all the humanitarian necessities, into Gaza, as long as the shipments went through Israel so they could be inspected for contraband.  Such deliveries have been made regularly to Gaza since the blockade began.  There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Ships were invited to make berth at an Israeli port (not Gaza ones) to deliver the aid.

Without speculating about the motives behind the move, a Flotilla set out from Turkey to run the blockade of Gaza.  This was their open and stated goal.  Passengers on board believed they were going to martyrdom.  But only 10 of them died.

As their “aid ships” neared the coast, Israel sent them a warning.  But the ships proceeded, so Israeli troops boarded them.  One fact mentioned in most accounts is that this took place in international waters, which to the uninformed news connoisseur sounds illegal.  It isn’t.  International laws governing naval blockades read like a manual of Israel’s actions in this confrontation.

Israel brought pistols but didn’t use them until they feared for their lives.  Instead they greeted with paint guns the weapon-holding “peace activists” who waited for them on deck.  All this is on video.  After the peaceful anti-Israelis took the soldiers and began beating them with pipes, throwing them three stories overboard, etc. the troops enforcing the blockade either fled or defended themselves with pistols.  Ten died.  The rest of the 600 activists were arrested, their goods confiscated and searched.  (All but two activists have been released.  The goods were shipped to the border of Gaza where Hamas refused to accept the aid unless Israel would release the final 2 prisoners – citizens of Israel.)

What do the Palestinians want?  If they’re fighting for a homeland, what do they call what they’ve had the past several years, and why expect anyone to trust them with a country of their own now?

Those who condemn Israel are refusing to believe Israel and at the same time accusing Hamas of lying.  Hamas has said what they want.  They want to kill Jews.  They want Israel’s existence to cease.  I believe them.  I just disapprove.

Israel’s peers in the world, friends and enemies, condemned her for her actions.  What would make the world happy?  (Turns out Charles Krauthammer made my exact points.  PLEASE read his article!)

1. They did not want Israel to kill people.

2.  They did not want Israel to prevent the Flotilla from reaching Gaza.

3.  They did not want Israel to blockade Gaza in the first place.

4.  They do not want Israel to wage open war on their enemies.

5.  They want Israel to offer more land for not even promises of peace.

6.  They want Israel to not defend themselves against the terrorists and surrounding nations who have stated a desire to wipe them out.

7.  They want Israel to give all its land to Islamic Terrorists and accept the promised slaughter.

If you put yourself in Israel’s place, I think you’ll have to realize they don’t want to do this.

Biblically speaking, it is in every other person’s and country’s best interests to bless Israel.  To stand against the Jews has a track record of bringing hard times and destruction.  In biblical language, this is called curses.

Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

Finally, many prophecy scholars think that the events taking place these days, particularly world opinion turning against Israel, sounds familiar.  Like maybe these things were predicted in Ezekiel, in Revelation… If that’s true, this would be the worst time ever to be on Israel’s bad side.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Like reading sheaves of notes compiled as he worked, Newton’s Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms demonstrates three things: his access to and comprehension of other histories; the thorough way in which he set about discovering, proving, and problem solving; and the scientific genius by which the chonologer keeps all in his head. 

 

Drawing from such sources as Plato, Herodotus, and Josephus, Newton submits all histories and archaeology and even legends to the timeline of the world as found in the Bible.  He spends much effort explaining which legendary figures are pseudonyms for the same great kings.  A king was called one name at home, another in each conquered country, a few titles of royalty and accomplishment, and then a few by which he was worshiped at his death.  Though in the text Newton is not consistent in referring always to a single name for a person to which he compares other names, there is an extensive Alias Appendix and Exhaustive Index to help follow the associations.  Upholding the authority and accuracy of the Scripture, Newton criticizes the priests and ancient historians of each country for inflating the age of their civilization, usually done by inserting names of kings in lists with no mention of any accomplishments, or by making the reigns of kings unbelievably long: into the hundreds of years.  However, Newton also refutes those Jewish historians who doubt all histories not recorded in the Old Testament, reducing and confusing the kings of Persia from the intertestamental times, though in truth the Bible does not mention them because they no longer dealt with the Jews. 

 

For each point Newton made, and especially on those arguments where the consensus of history or usually-reliable chronologers is against him, he goes into overwhelming detail to establish his position.  As I read, I would wonder why we were touring a small isle in the Mediterranean, debating the heritage of a prince – and suddenly, aha!  Newton would say, “therefore,” and prove that the four generations of history we had endured proved that someone was the same age as someone else, and that his great grandson therefore could not have been as ancient as some believe.  Many events are connected by degrees of association to the Trojan War, to the reign of King Solomon, or to Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem.  From thence an ancient history spiders off into tales of a king whose fifty daughters married his brother’s fifty sons, then at their father’s command all murdered their husbands so as to defend against their uncle’s betrayal; to the way Philistia was overrun by exiles from Egypt, making the Philistines more powerful and land-desperate when they fought the Judges, Saul, and David.  Apparently all the ancients ran around conquering each other, erecting pillars, kidnapping princesses, and stealing them back.  A great king of one country would be worshiped by his colonies in other countries until no one remembered he was a king and everyone thought he’d always been a god. 

 

Newton was rather fascinated with the study of astronomy, astrology, and geometry as he supposed it spread from Egypt to Babylon and thence to the rest of the world.  He believed only one ethnicity originated human sacrifice, only one astrology, only one worship of the dead, and only one the building of temples.  These idolatrous innovations were, he taught, spread to other peoples only through a chain of interactions with the first peoples who practiced them.  He also makes the case that the original constellations were representations of those in the Argonaut Expedition or their fellows. 

 

Being both a chronology and a sort of history, this book has amazing scope, covering about 2000 years of the Mediterranean World, describing kings and conquests, marriage and treachery.  Chapters include Early Greek History, The Empire of Egypt, The Assyrian Empire, Empires of the Babylonians and the Medes, and The Persian Empire.  Agreeing with Ussher on most dates, but venturing further into secular history seeking a general order and average sense of time, Newton lays out a sense of grand background.  His book is written for those already acquainted with the peoples and countries he described, and so I found myself floundering in the long sections of the book about Egypt, Greece, and Assyria but more comfortable in the reaches of Babylon and Persia.  One of the best illustrated sections of the book is the chapter on King Solomon’s temple, whose measurements Newton draws from a combination of Kings and Ezekiel (about which interpretation I remain skeptical).  A companion book with a good timeline and charts would be recommended.  You might use Ussher’s Annals of the World.  I myself did not know that modern man was aware of such details of history as Newton records, though I believe the study of history has been mightily neglected in the past two centuries.  This well-formatted, easy-to-use reference does well to excite curiosity and may be helpful in reviving consideration of those motives and affections that change the world. 

Newton's Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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