Saturday, 17 November 2018

What did you do with your talents?

We are going to look at the parable of the talents.

"Matthew 25:14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’"

The basic point of this parable is our servitude to Jesus. Believers of different backgrounds, rich or poor with whatever resources they have are to live holy and obedient lives consecrated to Christ. It cuts through the idea that a lack of resources means you cannot do much.

Think about it. If one is a billionaire, his or her resources can be used to help many individuals across the world, if there is a Christian billionaire. Someone of a moderate income can do what they can in their local area and possibly outside and finally, those of low income can help support their families (if possible) through their house keeping. No limit is placed on gospel preaching through your income and also, your testimony at work, your home, the club you go to (if there is one) etc., while you may not necessarily talk about God, you live your life in such a way that the individual glorifies God and some sees you as reliable and trustworthy.

It matters not to God what you have, it's how you use the resources  or talents (as in things you can do) given to you and there is no excuse for laziness and slackness.

It also makes me think it is the little things that matter as well as the big which is nothing. For example, dusting your workplace to keep it clean is just as important as keeping the stock up and making a huge profit. The man who buried his talent could have used it to get a second talent or even go the extra mile. The master would have been pleased with being given two talents or even if the man went multiple times to get more talents. Imagine the result if he had ten talents from his efforts as opposed to the one which he hid away. It cuts through the concept of being work-shy.

Rebekah Merkle's application in her book "Eve in Exile" is sure make to make housewives appreciate and have a higher view of their role as keepers of the home (Titus 2:5), especially the neglect from the church to teach it and also the foul stench that so plagues being a house wife thanks to feminism creeping into the church and the church doing nothing about it. This isn’t the whole quotation but this snippet should be of interest.

"We twenty first century American women have been materially blessed beyond our wildest dreams of most women throught out all of history, we have been given the most talents and God has given us the most blessings in order that we may turn a profit on them. If we bury the talents and just float, we know what God says to us at the end of the day "You wicked and slothful servant!" We need to look around at what God has given us and then figure our how to turn a profit on it. If we can do that, we can look forward to a "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I'll set you over much. Enter the joy of your master." So why should we run when we don't have to? Because that's what God made us to do. A Eric Liddel so eloquently says in Chariots of Fire, "God made me run fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure."" Eve in Exile, Rebekah Merkle, pg 149.

There is appreciation of little tasks, no matter how difficult it may be, they are much greater than we realise. Even the smallest gesture of service to other people can be an acceptable sacrifice, paying them a visit in person just for a chat, especially when they have had an off day or in a state of misery, even just a simple hello is a good place to start.

The point is, Christian service is still to be given, we have hard work to do, including that of witnessing to others where we are. It's one thing to have a hobby at the end of the day or watching the television for the glory of Christ, but it's quite another to let those things run your whole life. The man with one talent squandered what he had and lost out on the chance of remaining in his master's house.

Answering Judaism

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Venom: Has God abandoned us?

Venom is Sony’s most recent comic book movie release not under the MCU banner of movies and while has generally negative reviews from critics, the audience response has been mixed to positive and as earned more than $500 million world wide, so far a modest hit. The movie has its fair share of issues but is not an insulting or insufferable experience but entertaining on all three occasions I saw it.

But I am not talking about what I think of it as a whole nor the Eminem song at the end of the film but a specific line uttered by the film’s villain, Carlton Drake, leader of the Life Foundation who is experimenting on individuals by binding them to Symbiotes as a means of fighting poverty and other issues. The problem is his tests beforehand and during such tests are controversial as his experiments result in individuals dying and bonding people to symbiotes is not an exception as some of the people bonded to them where either incompatible or suffered bodily degradation due to the symbiotes feeding on vital organs.

Before Isaac, one of his volunteers is killed due to incompatibility with the symbiote, Drake relays the story of Abraham and Isaac to him. He claims the story about Abraham and Isaac is not about Abraham’s sacrifice but Isaac’s and not knowing what sort of God would ask that of anyone. Drake also goes on about war and poverty being present and the world on the brink of collapse, claiming that God has abandoned humanity and he won’t abandon it, saying that it’s up to him and others including Isaac to set things right.

When ever scripture is used in cinema, no matter the intent or context, I can understand why some quotations are used but do take issue with how quotes are used.

Firstly, and putting aside for a moment original sin which I believe in, God doesn’t abandon anyone unless they continually reject him. If someone refuses to repent, God will turn his back on them until they die, after which they face judgement or if the person in question repents, to which he will return to them in mercy and grace.

The reason Saul didn’t receive any messages from God was not God refusing to forgive after repentance, it was the fact Saul didn’t repent and grew gradually worse. If Saul repented, he wouldn’t have the kingdom to rule but he would have been loved by God and God would have listened but Saul didn’t repent and in desperation sought out a medium which was the final move in his destruction. David however in Pslam 51 begged YHWH not to take his Holy Spirit away and sought God for forgiveness, he had a repentant heart that was ashamed of sinning against his creator.

Our planet is rotting because of our sins, the sin of Adam bringing “war and poverty” with it. If Carlton Drake was real, he would be very wrong in saying that God has abandoned him partially. I say partially because God would listen if Drake would humble himself. It is not God who stops caring about us, it’s the other way around. We refuse to listen and he has no time for us but if we turn to him, he will hear us. Did God not say to Jeremiah “If you repent, I will restore you so that you may serve me”?

God can intervene with the affairs of men and he has the right to but does allow men to go their own way and thus reap the consequences. In a way, we can sort out the mess in any way we can but we will never be successful in eliminating the problem completely. Only by trust and obedience to God can we get out of our ruts. We are not promised our best life now but we would be better off obeying him and being happier due to holiness rather than engaging in sin, leading to many problems which are numerous to list, including poverty which can either be due someone’s greed robbing others of their hard earned money or laziness bringing poverty upon them not to mention there maybe sickness that’s either their fault or not, a criminal conviction that’s either their fault or not. If one were to follow God’s instructions, we would have none of these problems.

Second, The type of God that would ask someone to sacrifice their son is the type of God that demands utmost obedience and praise, giving up the things we cherish the most if that’s what it takes to be loyal to him. Not an easy task but can be accomplished by God’s grace, “for with God, nothing is impossible”.

Jesus consistent with his Father, told the rich young ruler to part with what he cherished the most then follow him, a hard saying that the rich ruler couldn’t accept. Jesus may give different requests to people, he isn’t saying all are to do what the rich ruler did to his riches, again, the  principle is the willingness to part with something if that is a barrier between you and God, serving him above all else. It may be temporary or permanent, it varies from person to person and not necessarily money or possessions but can be the case.

Third, the story is not so much about Isaac himself but Abraham, it was a test from God as mentioned previously above, a proof of his faith by his deeds, thus preventing it from being a faith without works that is dead. It’s not Isaac’s sacrifice but Abraham’s although Isaac willingly allowed it, being a 30 year old or so at the time, he would be strong enough to resist but didn’t. God stayed Abraham’s hand as a result of his loyalty, after Abraham showed his willingness to obey without exception.

I am not saying Venom was a bad movie, it wasn’t, but I tend to hold films more accountable when they use the Bible in one fashion or another.

Answering Judaism.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

A look into "The Time is fulfilled, How prepared are you?"

A few weeks ago, I was handed a leaflet in Kingsmead by a missionary from the group known as HOREMOW or Holiness Revival Movement Worldwide. It would be better to take a look at what it says now in this article now rather than not looking at it at all. Let us examine it.

"The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ draws near every minute and hour that passes by. It is very important for everyone who has hope of eternity to take heed now. We advancements and inventions of different types and shapes of computers and micro-chips, the unifying of financial systems, the scaricity of money denominations in place now, is indicating the antichrist preparedness to take over the world and the world bodies, the economic meltdown and down turn problems of life even in our individual lives must be a very big eye opening to all believers. These are signals indicating to humans that this age is coming to an end, that the Bible prophecies that say "The day is approaching" is at hand.

But the unfortunate thing is that many believers even the very elect are not watchful. A call for watchfulness in church of Christ  whom our Lord Jesus Christ bought with His previous blood-the groom of the Lord-the heavenly minded believers should be very, very alert in the spirit now more than ever, waiting earnestly for the raputre. Now the question is "How prepared are you"? This advices us not to sleep as do others but let us watch and be sober, for they that sleep, sleep in the night 1 Thesa 5vs6-8."

Is the leaflet here appearing to be promoting a pre tribulation rapture or that the day of Jesus' return is immiment? We'll get to that later. The scripture in question however does not say we are to be waiting earnestly for the rapture. We should be waiting for the return of Jesus. I shall give a brief explaination of the thief in the night text later on.

"As believers, we are instructed not to indulge in spiritual sleep but be watchful, putting on the breastplate of faith and love. In the midst of these happening, we should make sure that our Christian experiences are intact, living a holy and righteous life with sincerity of heart and in searching purity inside and outside our lives, homes, work, compound we live, in our businesses, run the church of God and everywhere we find ourselves also preaching urgently this sweet salvation message to others so that we can snatch their souls from destruction in hell."

There isn't anything here that is theologically bad here in this section. Seems alright. There is an emphasis on holy living that is sorely missing from many Christian congregations, namely applying holiness to every aspect of our lives rather than just to the "religious" part. For the most part, this section is fine.

"Always have the mind of Jesus, self control and unceasing prayer life Mt. 28vs19-20, Phil 2v5, Ps. 119vs33-37, Rm12v2, 1 Corinth. 9vs24-27. Do not live your Christians life base on your past experiences and achievements, rather always have "Self Check" if you are still in the faith."

Many Christians who have read scripture indeed know that it is important to self examine ourselves because it is easy for us to be lead astray. Not too much to say here. What I will say is we need to be cautious on what they may believe about grace. Paul indeed tells us to self check ourselves and not be conformed to the evil of the world either in thought, word and deed. in along with Psalm 119 being a holy poem, beseeching God to help them to be more obedient to his word and the declaration of the love of his law.

"The idea of once saved is forever saved will lead many believers to everlasting regret because that is not what the scripture says but satan's ideas to destroy human souls in hell. Are you living a careless life of backsliding, pride yourself on your past Christian achievements and experiences? Please ask yourself "Are You In The Number Of The Rapturable Saints?""

Despite not believing in once saved always saved myself, I think it's still important to realise there are two distinct views as sometimes the term "once saved always saved" is used for both. One view Perserverance of the Saints states that those who are truly saved will persevere in holiness to the end. The other view however states that you pray a prayer and you are in and no matter what you do or say or think, you are saved. The latter view that many hold to will agree that believing in the former is morally reprehensible.

"The scripture cautioned believers to constantly run this heavenly race with diligent and carefulness so that we will not run in vain 1 Corinth 9vs24-27 Only Jesus that strengthens us and He alone with His glorious power qualifies us for inheritance in heaven Phil 4.13, Col. 1vs11-12

Our daily self-check is very important these days to know if we are still qualified as the Lord's day is fast approaching. Try every day to restore, reconcile, amend and restitute your life even your marriage and be in good condition with God, people and be commited to God more in word and in work because the day of your watchman and your punishment comes-now is the hour of our repentance and preparedness. How Prepared Are You?"

This section on the surface looks fine. It points to Jesus being the one who strengthens us and does encourage true repentance among the Christian ranks. The only time where reconciling your marriage would not be possible is if you remarry and the second (and subsequent other) person you married dies and you cannot remarry your previous spouse (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The previous spouse is off limits in light of adultery being committed. The thing to be wary of is any group can claim grace but what matters is their practice. Even Rome and the Mormons speak of grace yet that's different. Maybe I could be wrong about HOREMOW but it's worth examining their teaching according to the scriptures. That's not to say Lordship Salvation is heretical (It's not) but it's worth being on the look out for someone who maybe teaching an unrighteous doctrine of works salvation.

"We should be prepared by:-
1. Always have our hearts circumcised and purified.
2. We must be consecrated and re-dedicated to God on daily basis. Always cross-checking our living and in our daily communication with God to see if their is any where we have erred wrongly and need for quick repentance and ask God for mercy.
3. Live as if there is no tomorrow for you, that now is the only time you have before rapture.
4. Always have good relationship with people. Don't keep malice or bitterness.
5. Always have eternity in view
6. Always live an upright life and be focused for eternity.
7 Always have a passion for lost souls for this is the purpose of our calling Mt 28 vs 19-20, Lk. 2 v 49, John 9 v 14

The rat-race of wealth and riches in their present age will soon pass away, considering the ungodly practices in this age, the corruption in hight places, in everywhere and the negative effects of advancement in technology, the rate of evil, hardship encounter all over the world, a true believer must try to live a transparent and holy life before all- both in secret and in the open Mt. 5v16

Let use be wise in our daily preparation for rapture so that, that day will not meet us unaware. Beware of the Lord's wrath Isaiah 13v9. THe time is about to clock 12 midnight-The fulfillment of the hour. Run fast for Jesus is already at the door. How prepared are you?"

The 7 points above are not terrible points and the point on living a holy and transparent life are certainly to be commended but again I advise caution as the group could be seen as works salvationists. As for the rapture, it is not going to catch true believers unaware or generally speaking the return of Jesus to earth.

See my article on the rapture here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-rapture-when-it-will-occur.html

The rapture itself is not an event that is imminent, it's soon. As for the thief in the night text, Jesus only will catch individuals unaware if they are not awake and following Christ. Those committed to Jesus will not be caught out, for they are watching sober and alert. We should expect Jesus return in our lifetime but we should never interpret that as he can come any minute because the apostle Paul never said such and Jesus himself never made that claim either. The tribulation as I mention in the article above MUST occur before the rapture has taken place.

As David Pawson once said "It is the delay that tests if you're ready, not if you think he is coming next Tuesday." What we do in the time before his return is what matters, whether we are serving him continually or not.

The leaflet is a mixed bag and clarification on what it believes in the book as well or instead a link that redirects us to their creeds and confessions. Some confusion in the small leaflet would lead to misunderstanding. What they believe does need clarification. It may not be the intent of the leaflet to mislead and misdirect but with false teachers running around, we must remain vigilant.

Answering Judaism.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Three Texts: What do they mean? Response to Sophiee Saguy

There were three texts brought to me by Sophiee Saguy in a brief conversation had on Rabbi Eli Cohen's Facebook page. I want to take a look at the texts and see what they say. Are they statements of evil excused by Christians or something else?

Matthew 23:33 You snakes, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?

Jesus' words were a condemnation of the Pharisees. It was their responsiblity to lead the people of Israel in the right direction to worship God, but they not doing so. In fact, their efforts (not all Pharisees to clarify) were in vain and they were not leading the people properly. There is more to say about the context of Matthew 23 which can be found here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-pharisees-look-at-woes-matthew-23.html

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I have come to send peace to the world. I come not to send peace, but the sword.

Here is what Jesus said for the full context said:
"34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
"

In the actual context of Matthew 10:34-39 and (same applies to Luke 12:49-53), Jesus is speaking about a metaphorical sword of division within families that will occur if someone chooses to follow him. He is saying in essence if you don't love me more than your family, don't follow me because by doing so you will have opposition from your family and your friends.

Even your co-workers in work or those who claim Jesus' name but don't obey him will also come after an individual should they continue their faith in Jesus.

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life. But he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but shall suffer the everlasting wrath of God.

Let us take a look:
"John 3:31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God[i] gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them."
The statement itself isn't evil, but a warning. That those who refuse the follow Jesus and believe in his testimony, whether they be Jew or Gentile, will not have eternal life.

None of the statements of the New Testament above are evil, nor excused as such.

Answering Judaism.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Was Judas saved?

I had said the following in an article a few years ago:

"The subject of Judas may need another paper. I would need to think on this topic. But I'll gladly comment on the verses below regarding him." http://answering-judaism.blogspot.com/2015/01/comments-on-romans-8-and-other-texts.html

The context was to look at certain texts that had been brought to me by Sam Shamoun. There was no malice involved from either party, just a look the texts presented. I gave my comments in the paper above but the point of Judas isn't a point I have dwelt on that much.

It's one elephant in the room that shouldn't really be ignored, was Judas saved? Was a born again believer that fell away or was he someone who merely gave intellectual assent to? Was Judas falling a way a failure on Jesus or the Father's part? (Obviously not on that particular point).

Obviously and admittedly, he wasn't born again.

Let's first look at John 12:1-8
"12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
"

We see here that Judas claimed that the money could have been given to the poor. What we have here is what we would call in the modern age a virtue signaller, saying something but not really having a proper conviction. Judas had no actual concern for the poor, this was merely a cover for the fact that Judas helped himself to the money. Jesus knew that Judas would do this, he knew what was in the hearts of men (John 2:24). John writing this as a historian and the fact he is listed on several occasions at "the disciple whom Jesus loved". The apostles didn't know one of them was going to betray Jesus, even wondering who it was going to be, the reveal taking place at The Lord's Supper.

Even before that, there is a clear indication that the devil prompted Judas to betray Jesus. We obviously know this happened as again, John is writing this as history, telling us what happened.

Could any one of the apostles betrayed Jesus, it is a possiblity. Obviously we are on the other side of the New Testament so we know who was going to betray Jesus but only he and the betrayer knew what was going to happen, the other disciples did not. They didn't know who would betray them in their midst, because anyone can talk the talk and not walk the walk.

As said in the article posted above, You can technically argue that those who left never believed to begin with but how do you deal with someone who has been in Christ for years, regenerated and born again and falls away? To say there is no possibility of falling away renders the warnings vacuous and pointless.

The case of Judas doesn't set a precedent that every single person who falls away was never saved to begin with. I am also aware you can have someone who is rich in theology but dead in works, they say the right things but never live it out. They could be pharisees covering their evil or even trying to live the best lives they can without even giving God honour, thanks or even love.

Again this would ignore the basic warnings of scripture telling us to stay firm and hold to Christ and if we choose to abandon him, we will be cut off, even if we say all the right things and do what is right.

Judas is one case of "Oh he was never saved to begin with" but that doesn't answer or address the warnings in the Bible directed to Christians, not unbelievers but Christians.

Paul knew the warnings he gave would apply to the congregations he addressed, like the Corinthians for instance:
"1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
"

Vigilance is something to always hold onto, taking care not to do the same evil things that the Israelites did in the Old Testament and sadly the church itself has repeated the same mistakes as Israel albeit in different ways to how we think.

Granted others can point out if you are truly saved, you'll persevere to the end (At least that perspective preaches holy living) but it is interesting to wonder how they would reconcile that with the warnings of scripture as mentioned above.

So was Judas saved? Short answer, no.

Answering Judaism.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Pharisees: A look at the woes Matthew 23

The article shall be taking a look at the woes that Jesus calls upon the Pharisees and comment on them. Let us look. Matthew 23:1-12 shall not be looked at here extensively right now but will be quoted. Matthew 23:29-36 Lord Willing I need to look into those before making comments.

"23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."


This sets the stage for what Jesus will say next as he tells his disciples to listen to the Pharisees, evening obeying them despite their actions speaking to the contrary.

"13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves."

A serious charge. The Pharisees themselves had a form of godliness but denied it's power, even (without realising) that they were shutting people off from the true God despite their introduction to them, even making them just as bad if not worse as they, legalistic and dead with no true relationship with YHWH cultivated.


"16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it."




You may remember from Matthew 5 what Jesus said about vows.
"33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[g]"

Jesus isn't prohibiting vows period, if he did, Paul would stand condemned for his Nazarite vows. What Jesus condemned was a lack of truthfulness. When he said "Let your yes be yes and your no be no", he was in effect saying to quote the words of David Pawson "Always mean what you say." Jesus is emphasising truthness period rather than using a vow to validate your words (which includes saying "Honestly" as well). The Pharisees claimed that certain vows were not binding depending on circumstances (only true if it's a father nulling the vow of his daughter when he hears of it on the same day as found in Numbers 30:5.) Jesus is saying regarding the vows "It's inconsequential what you swear by and regardless of it's location, every vow you make God expects you to be bound to it".

Every vow made in the sight of God is to be sacred, kept to the letter. See my article on vows and oaths for more information: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.com/2015/04/vows-thoughts-and-reflections.html

"23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!"




Putting aside whether or not Gentiles are to tithe (Spoilers, they don't: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.com/2014/10/are-christians-required-to-tithe.html), Jesus himself wasn't against the practice of tithing, if anything that was commendable that the Pharisees were diligent in that. This wasn't the problem, neglecting the more important pressing matters was the problem, namely not dispensing proper justice to the wicked, not granting mercy to the lowest people or even faithfulness, whether it be God, their spouse or the people. Yes of course their tithing was important but it was inconsequential when the needs of the many are neglected. It is easy to focus on the small details in our lives (What movies can we watch? What drinks can we drink? What clothes can we wear etc.) to the point where the large concerns are neglected (public school education, covetousess, abominations of the political far left and far right etc.). A proper balance is needed.

"25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean."



"27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

These two go hand in hand as they address the same issue, namely being unclean on the inside. Again, like tithing, commendable to keep oneself clean on the outside, but what good is that if you are unclean, full of evil and wickedness of all kinds. Jesus had earlier in Matthew 15 condemned the Pharisees for binding the people to the traditions of man as God given commands (Traditions that were either harmless or contradictory to God's word).

"Matthew 15:10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
"

The emphasis that the Pharisees placed both in Matthew 15 and in Matthew 23 was on the outward  and external aspects of righteousness, neglecting the sanctification of the inward man, thoughts of purity was well as righteous actions and words. The whole man had to be involved with the worship of YHWH, complete inward submission to his word which was be reflected outwardly. Start and inward change first was the principle, then the outside of yourself will follow. Like the previous section, priority is the key. Keith Thompson (though he doesn't mention the Pharisees explicitly) made an interesting comment in his documentary on Paul that "it is a human tendency to want to appear moral good in religious settings". see position 13:46-15:18 for the context. His comment highlights a very important point, Paul recognised his need for grace to strive for holiness despite his exhortations, revealing a very different attitude to what the Pharisees had in comparison.

Are these inditements are an unfair assessment of the Pharisees? No, The New Testament does recognise that there were Pharisees who did have a love for God and earnestly sought to please him. Indeed, the first followers who were Jews did have Pharisees among them, as they played a part in the Acts 15 council in Jerusalem.

I have responded to an article on 1000 Verses pertaining to the Pharisees so there is more information on that: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.com/2014/01/comments-on-pharisees.html

It is easy to get carried away with the idea that ALL the Pharisees were condemned whereas a matter of fact, there were some who repented, possibly Nicodemus and certainly Joseph of Arimathea.

Hope this article has been a blessing, thanks for reading.

Answering Judaism.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

God's Divine Judgement: Children slain.

I came across a Facebook post by a Muslim trying to condemn the Bible for the killing of children and say the Quran is more noble book because it condemns the killing of children and essentially condemning the Bible for child killing. Well, let's see what the Bible says.

Revelation 2:23 was quoted but let us see what the context is:
"18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’[b]—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
"

Whether this is a person called Jezebel or someone who carries the character of Jezebel is debatable. Regardless, the punishment is perfectly just here. What better way to punish a wicked woman than robbing her of her children? Especially when the deceiving of the church and bringing them into sexual immorality is something that Jesus finds this detestable.

"31 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”

"3 So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites so that they may carry out the Lord’s vengeance on them. 4 Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel.” 5 So twelve thousand men armed for battle, a thousand from each tribe, were supplied from the clans of Israel. 6 Moses sent them into battle, a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary and the trumpets for signaling.

7 They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man. 8 Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 9 The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. 11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals, 12 and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the Israelite assembly at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho.

13 Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.

15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.
"

The Midianite women thanks to Balaam had enticed the Israelites into sin and wickedness but not all women were involved in the sexual enticement. As a result, when the Israelites attacked the Midianites, YHWH dispensed his grace to the Midianite women who did not entice the Israelites by sparing their lives.

"15 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”"

This is just venegance on the Amalekites for their ruthless attack on the Israelites. A fair and just punishment on a wicked nation, deserved and right. Where's the problem?

"Ezekiel 9:5 As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple."

Reading the entire context and even going back to chapter 8, what you have are IDOLATERS who are rightly being slain, including children who won't have the incentive to repent of their sins because they will grow up learning the wickedness of their parents. God doesn't show an unrepentant sinner mercy and that would not exclude children who are unrepentant themselves.

"Genesis 19:24-25

New International Version
Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens.; Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities--and also the vegetation in the land.
""

The same applies here to Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of those towns had no intention of repenting and the children, like in Exekiel 9, would have continued in the wickedness of their parents.

"Lamentations 2:21
“Young and old lie together
    in the dust of the streets;
my young men and young women
    have fallen by the sword.
You have slain them in the day of your anger;
    you have slaughtered them without pity.
"

Once again a passage of judgement. It is describing what God has done to Israel in light of the fact that the people have not repented and returned to him. It's a horrific sight but God has done to the people exaclty what they deserve? Again, Where is the problem with God bringing his wrath upon here? The children are suffering and dying because of the idolatry and immorality of Israel. Doesn't God have the right to bring judgement upong those who deserve it?

The same applies to the passages below, Hosea speaks about the Northern Kingdom of Israel, also known as Ephraim, specifically mentioning Samaria while Nahum is referring to the Assyrians.
"Hosea 13:16
King James Bible
Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.


Nahum 3:5, 3:10
New International Version
5 "I am against you," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame.
10 Yet she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed to pieces at every street corner. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains.
"

Again I ask, Doesn't God have the right to bring judgement upong those who deserve it?

"Ezekiel 5:9-10

New International Version
Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again. Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds.
"

An example in the Bible of God handing over individuals to wickedness and evil because of their unrepenant hearts. Cannabalism is one of the evils commited by individuals that have been given over to a reprobate mind. It is also desperation as the people are low on food and about to starve but rather than seek God and repent, they eat their children to survive. Horrid yes, but this is what happened.

"Genesis 19:24-25

New International Version
Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens.; Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities--and also the vegetation in the land.
"

A just act, the people were evil and immoral as explained before. God knew these people would repent so he destroyed them.

"Deuteronomy 32:25
New International Version
In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign. The young men and young women will perish, the infants and those with gray hair.
"

This is part of the song of Moses. Can you explain one explain what the problem is with the passage here? I am not seeing anything that is close to God murdering children (even though God has the right to take the life of the creation he has made.) Let's take a look back in the previous chapter to see why this song, including verse 25 is present:

"Deuteronomy 31:15 Then the Lord appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the cloud stood over the entrance to the tent. 16 And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ 18 And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.

19 “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. 20 When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. 21 And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.” 22 So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.
"

In Chapter 31 of Deuteronomy, Moses is commanded to write the song as a witness against Israel, because God knows that when Israel settle in the land and get comfortable, they shall rebel, thus bringing disaster upon themselves. The Israelites will have no excuse in their rebellion.

"Joshua 10:32-35
New International Version
The LORD gave Lachish into Israel's hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. 35 They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.
"


Putting aside the debate as to whether or not they are civilian towns or military strongholds, the judgement on children and their parents are perfectly justified, in light of what I had mentioned previously about Sodom and Gomorrah.

If they were military strongholds, any point of the Israelites killing all, young and old, women and children are merely points denoting a decisive war victory. It was common rhetoric used by Israel and pagans alike. The exact words may not be here the principle applies if these were military strongholds.

If however they were regular villages, it still doesn't condemn God for wiping out the children.

Joshua by God's mighty hand was eliminating five towns in particular and their kings. Just judgement being brought upon a wicked and rebellious people. Individuals namely who had forfeited their right to live the land.

"Deuteronomy 13:13-19
Kill the entire town (including women, infants and children) if one person worships another god"

The destruction of that town is perfectly justified, especially if the town allows the wickedness to flourish and the Israelites do nothing about it. If any person, including a relative leads people astray, the town is to be destroyed as the town itself has been corrupted by Israelites that have turned away from YHWH, telling people to follow the false gods of that nations.

Hope this article has been a help to you.

Answering Judaism.