No nice girl in there

(Expanded May 31, 2021)

Ephraim is another name for the northern part of Canaan, the kingdom of Israel. The Israelite kingdom was the first to feel God’s chastening rod by means of deportation. The southern kingdom, Judah, soon followed Israel into exile. Hosea, one of the late prophets, had a message about the “Israelite” kingdoms that is bolder than shocking. Whores go whoring, and Hosea saw it up close in his personal life and in the kingdoms. There is not a nice girl in the resume presented by the people who were in the room.

Prostitution in the Pentateuch was not a talking point about potential filth in the people’s psyche. God warned Israel about prostituting herself with the abominable practices of the Canaanite people, and he predicted that they would do so repeatedly.

Fleeting Goodness, Prophets and Priests

We can go only so far if we are satisfied with a wooly-eyed look at the popular story. God’s mercy does extend into eternity and we are aware that even a proverbial seven decades for us get our act together is more than adequate. We would be caught in a web of the spider who catches the unwary with a narrative of infinite cycles of apostasy and return (repentance). The popular line is that Israel-Judah has been through the cycle of estrangement, chastisement, and restoration. What is left can in no way be called a kingdom. When the judgments so often include death (as in the wilderness journeys, the enabling of enemy assaults and invasions, and hundreds of individuals executed by the government) there is not much to attach to infinite cycles of sin and restoration.

On one occasion Yahweh offered David options for punishment. David chose to be chastised by God rather than humans. This question – “what shall I do to you?” – is something different.

O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goes away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and your judgments are as the light that goes forth.

Hosea 6:4

Here the prophet reports that Yahweh has a case to make about the value of his repeated corrective measures. It is obvious that there is no such thing as an endless cycle of spurn and return. One day the piper’s hand comes out, waiting for his pay. “What shall I do to you?” from Yahweh signals that the prescribed measures have not brought about the wellbeing everyone craved. The cutting down of the people by prophetic declarations and by His own decrees is the divine response to momentary goodness. Goodness in a prayer in the morning is like the dew. Goodness in a multitude of offerings is fleeting.

Prophets and priests transgress like humans

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.

Hosea 6:6-7

Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood. (Hosea 6:8) And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness. (Hosea 6:9)

Hosea 6:8-9

Two places of opportunity were provided for the covenant to become at least expedient if not fulfilled: the sacrificial services and the medical practices of Gilead. There is supposed to a balm in Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11, 51:8). Rather rather than burnt offerings there might have been mercy. We know who made the decisions about the worshipper’s expenses for sacrifices. Every sin by a priest (reported) required a bull. A ram might do, or two doves and two pigeons might suffice for a person with less means (Lev. 5:7). We can see how the practice of selling animals as a part of the temple service was vulnerable to filthy captialism.

Prostitition sinks the ship

Horrific things were happening elsewhere too. In Judah the effect of a broken down marriage, due to partner defilement, was in full view in New Testament times.

I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.

Hosea 6:10

There is a tacit resignation to Judah’s stiffneck after end of the exile. When the Persian returned the captivity (reversed the exile) one might have expected the Gentile uncleanness and desire for foreign gods would have ended. It is not surprising that the resistance to God and the sleeping around continued in New Testament times, even as the temple compound became an even more colossal monumental testimony to the people keeping up the marriage appearance. The king was Herod. The king was Caesar.

Also, O Judah, he hath set a harvest for you, when I returned the captivity of my people.

Hosea 6:11

What happens to a defiled wife or even a betrothed partner is assigned in the Law. It is highly unlikely that a couple will want to stay together in such situations. Even though a familiarity with God’s ways and words reveals that we should only say “never” when He says “never” fixing broken things a relationship with a defiled spouse is not happening without a crisis.

“If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 3:1

Supporting the state of Israel to defy the solution of the Palestinian Problem only goes the affirm that finding a nice girl in the ancient picture of Israel, Judah, or any of the nations is unlikely and improbable. One would have to zoom in in a few seconds of antiquity to find the nice girl. We still believe that where we see shut doors God sees open doors. Where the law depends on prisions the Son of Man imposes liberty. In the modern picture of Judah and the nations it is equally unlikely and improbable to find a nice girl.

Noone dies in heaven

The most obvious hole in the dam we’ve built to stave off the great reality is the hope for a better world. That usually means better conditions for me and my loved ones. The dam has been crumbling in plain sight since heaven came down. It has been a long time since men of spiritual sight recognized that rituals will never approximate the best of either now or the future. Above all the things we have defeated stands death. We have not stopped dying or killing. Rest assured nothing dies in heaven, paradise, or utopia.

Quandary: death before heaven

Essential to the identity of God’s people – those responsive to his wisdom – is a peculiarity, a weirdness. He calls them sons, children, servants even as they struggle with the very things from which he has saved them. He does not expect them to put out signs proclaiming how far along the journey from regeneration to glory they have progressed. People seem more interested in talking about heaven as a distant and future thing, not to be accessed until death intervenes. Even now many believers do not want to die with Christ in order to experience the life he offers for the present time. Are they really dead or alive? Do they think that they can rejoice in a ticket to heaven without dying?

Not another video

Moral sense has little to do with to watching any video. That source of information does not work for me. It is rare to find a video, whether of teaching, preaching, or power demonstration, that brings the stills and clips of the Bible leaping into our reality. I hope you vet your video shares and not expect your contacts to wade through a pot pourri of half truths and unholy concoctions.

Beware of the video glut and learn to read your Bible without idiot middlemen.

if you have not noticed yet this is a good time to take particular interest in seeing how many of our brothers and sisters are being taught by videos (or zoom meetings where credible contributions are seen as hostile) whose sources remain either hidden or are openly questionable.

Beware of nonsense content! I recently received a version of THE OLD RUGGED CROSS in which the lyrics were “for a world of lost sinners was saved”.

Riddled with lies

If a Roman Catholic believer rejects the pope as his primary authority on matters of faith he would lose his identity at once. If this troubles you please take a look at what your church says is the authority in matters of faith. Then again faith does not have to be connected to any person or single principle, not when there are thousands of precepts giving people the bases to challenge and evade real authority.

Fake Allegiance

Moses did not give his people life’s bread. Life’s bread is the Son of man. The followers of Moses are in deep denial whether their profession focuses on Israel’s (failed) covenant with Yahweh or the extant covenant in Messiah’s blood. The issue of truthfulness is not that we do not read Moses (the law, the prophets and the writings) but that we understand that all the roads of life and truth radiate from God’s Anointed. Any alternate idea is pure rebellion. You may not have a pope or a cherished set of commentaries and the message of life has not – ever – changed from being good news promising God’s gifts to the helpless and lost ones who believe.

24 perverse verses

There is a book named Acts of the Apostles with a chapter titled Transformed by grace with no reference to the cross. There is not even an oblique mention of the fact of divine atonement in any of the twenty-four paragraphs of that ill-fated chapter.

That someone died to bring grace to humanity has to be number one if one is an approved interpreter of the gospel. Not to the writer of this Acts of the Apostles. Even when the place where grace’s taps were opened – TRANSFORMED BY GRACE – is expected to be the feature the writer reports “It was on mount Sinai” instead of an truthful proclamation of what happened at Golgotha.

Rejected, no benefits accrue

… (10) let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11) He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone.

Acts 4:10-11

Not much difference between Peter’s audience and the bewitched of our times

Counting lies is fashionable these days, as popular as people tallying up the commandments to which they are in compliance. This observation shows that the absence of the truth from a collection of pronouncements can render them utterly destructive and identifiable as demonic.

We read every thing that even hints at being reliable and helpful, but the Holy Spirit, through the sacred texts, protects us from swallowing half-truths and deceptive professions. We are in Christ because we believe in his finished work. Moses and the prophets play no part in enabling faith or in giving us the Holy Spirit as permanent HELP.

Myopia today

The Short-sighted Condition is defined by the Galilean manfisher as lacking virtue (2 Peter 1:5-7). He could have addressed one lack: obedience.  Being obedient, after a closer look, however, is not a recognized spiritual achievement, and Peter is no pal of lying extremists who want to say they comply with God because they have done what he commands. The shortsighted do not give a rabbit’s phallus for what God has given his elect as their inheritance.

Since we are certain that believers are like plants under the care of the Production Master with access to water, who would it be that keeps harassing believers about their leaves and fruit other than a foe?

2) But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3) He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalms 1:2-3

If the exchange about the divine Spirit and virtue turns to a book we shout “Yeah!” and if the book turns out not to be the Bible we can only say “Nay”.

More than a popular list

Virtue Gifts are marked with *, and are charismatic, that is, they are marks of grace. Fruit produced by the Spirit – Spirit Fruit – are marked with ***.

1. Diligence*
2. Faith ***
3. Moral excellence*
4. Knowledge*
5. Self-control***
6. Perseverance***
7. Godliness*
8. Brotherly kindness*
9. Love***

What has anyone acquired that God did not give? Nothing. Not a single aspect of grace unleashed can be tagged as a failure. The same cannot be said about the law, not with its proponents pursuing murderous solutions to societal problems and finding no insytructions for parading a spiritual life for the world to see. A spiritual life is part the kingdom of God. It comes without human scrutiny and contribution. Be as thorough as you please if you need to settle into the 20/20 vision capacity of the redeemed; if you are intent on seeing past the weak and ineffective paradigms and talking points that define the lifestyles of the myopic of our times.

Pray for Jerusalem

We do it because God invites us.  We can visualize the interest of the King in this piece of real estate and our own residential stake in the future Jerusalem. There is much to peace that people do not want to manage either mentally or physically, and that is why Jerusalem has no peace.  People stuck in their traditions will be the last to become courageous heroes. We pray and use our voices to light up the dark corners where evil hits the airwaves dressed up a strength and goodness.

Traditions dominate Islam and Judaism. There are patriarchal practices, purely human traditions (like everyone else on the planet), tribal heritages, social norms (some of which are the subject of revision by Moses, the Lord, and the prophets) and statutes and judgments picked up over time. The fact that Islam guts the Jewish traditions with Arab views, and Christians will not accept any adjusting of what Moses wrote (as Islam does) afirms that there is no people of the Book because there is no “book”.

Jews do not even bother to try to convert Gentiles using television and radio as Christians and Muslims do. If either of these communities of believers had a rock solid foundation there would never be any amendments or adjustments to belief or practice.

Marketing in East Jerusalem

The Israeli PM is no king.  His political base, the supposed zealots of Yahweh’s ways, has been unable to secure a majority among the religious coalitions, after four elections in two years.  A more illegitimate government head is hard to find on the planet. A PM who fails to accept the Jerusalem for all people indicated by Abraham’s fatherhood, by David’s songs and actions, by the prophets’ messages, by the embedding of the chosen people in Babylon and Persia, by the domination of Judah by Greece and Rome. It is too plain to be missed. Discrimination of the worst kind – genocidal- makes an alien practice of stopping those bent on spilling more innocent blood in Jerusalem. It is already abundantly clear that banning Gentiles from the holy city is an abomibable practice.

Pray for eyes to see why

He who has ears will hear. He who has eyes will see. People absorbed in their own identity to the detriment of all other peoples can hardly be depended on to do justice, love mercy, and walking humbly was ditched every time Yahweh engineered a rescue from hostile hands. Yes, let us pray for Jerusalem to have her peace; she cannot keep forever missing her dates. No, we cannot be silent about the atrocities happening in settlements and curfews and expropriation of land legitimately owed by Palestinians. Christians are not a rubberstamp for bad actors anywhere. If you had to choose between an American cop or an Israeli cop would you not go copless? Pray for Jerusalem, you’ll be living there soon, believer.

The peace of the sword

If you have seen military strategists discuss their campaigns you know they do not aim at becoming friendly neighbors with the foe.  If you are a follower of developments in South Africa or the affairs of First Nations in Canada, Brazil or Australia you will know that people who feel that they have conquered their neighbours do not even consider giving up their conquests without their feet being held to the fire.

People who think themselves above all others and not subject to human laws because of geography or legislation do not care enough for their own children to change their minds and the courageous things for the wider family of humanity.  Herein lies the problem with the path to peace in Palestine.  Family tradition in competiton with family tradition ends in misery.  Noone need to be reminded that religious zeal has not yet generated a neighborhood.  People need hearts like Abraham (yes, he of Ur of the Chaldees)

“You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, And gave him the name Abraham.

Nehemiah 9:7

If the most vigorous and extensive searches of the of the Torah, the New Testament, and the Quran have not brought us yet to the point where people can sit down and be humane with each other none of the discussions at the United Nations or in any of the world’s power-capitals or in the Levant itself will bring Jerusalem the peace she deserves.

After the nations have tried and the overexertion has injuted them peace will seep in through the walls of synagogue, mosque and church, because the truth about Israel (Peleshet/Canaan) is also the truth about Ishmael and the truth of the gospel is the end of tribalism apart from religious law and not in answer to civic regulations. If Abraham’s business – migration, nomadic lifestyle, famine, wealth, testing of his character and divine revelation- is a superlative thing then all the known bloodletting zealots do not recognize what is good. The only sword to be associated with peace, without the shameful hatred that has been robbing innocent families for centuries, has to be God’s message in its simplest form. Some people really do not know! It comes down to the lies people call truth: in this case the hateful hype about a Jewish-dominated Jerusalem. No peace can come with a sword in human hands.

People who prophesy

Prophets proclaim and predict, with both being conditional without apology. The conditional phenomena can be related to God’s grace or to the prophet being more of a spaghetti thrower. Things that God has already been offering are not good subjects of prophesy. A good example is “God will open a door of blessing/correction for you and you family…” and its reception accompanied with a query such as “When?” “How much”, “To what extent”, or “Where?” Typically prophets cannot answer these questions. They are only mouthpieces and often do not know what they are talking about.

Prophetic certainties are numbers, dates, and statistic such as death, or rescue, loss or gain. Any of these pieces of data (number, date, statistic) is likely to come to pass, and when they do, if prophets are our primary source of exhortation, encouragement, correction, or education, we might be tempted to

  1. look to the prophet with greater confidence
  2. want to help people the way the prophet does
  3. seek God’s guidance on what we have experienced

Authority and Accuracy

Most of us expect that someone speaking for God would not be shy about keeping God priorities and his unique identifying codes in view. For example, salvation by God in the Exodus was a function (a) lamb’s blood, (b) a way through the waters of the Red Sea and (c) the aborted journey to Canaan. Let us not pretend that Exodus salvation was successful and constitutes a template for Messianic salvation. We can only do harm by skipping the death of Christ and our dying with him, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the life of service that follows. The prophet who dares to skip the death of Christ is leading you to another god.

The fact that events can be predicted without any direct transmission from God the believer’s safety depends on ascertaining that the prophet loses sight of Christ and/or tries to put the spotlight on someone other than Christ.

Do not be convinced because a prophet or a dreamer of dreams

  1. arises among you
  2. and gives you a sign or a wonder, Deuteronomy 13:1
  3. and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, (13:2a)
  4. [entices you to]- go after other gods,’ which you have not known,
  5. [entices you to]- serve other gods Deuteronomy 13:2

“Take control of your ears”, says God.

Do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams for it is a testing (Deuteronomy 13:3

You shall remember

Creation is an involuntary experience. It brings entities into existence. Salvation on the other hand takes living entities out their helpless dilemmas. Therefore the only God we have known is the one that saves us. This is why Moses rewrites the fourth commandment with the experiential context of “you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deu. 5:15a). Keeping the sabbath day because of creation is a hollow claim because no-one remembers being created and God’s business with the present generation is not about a beginning but a restart from above (even though it is called a “new creation”).

Avoiding a suicidal approach. Paul says, “Do not quench the Spirit”. Stop treating prophecies as meaningless, but test everything and hang on to what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 A pandemic is a ripe time for dreamers and seers. The toll of fact-checking dreams and visions is massive compared with having access to the Bible, with its numerous clues to solid foundations.

Noah could only say “Ya gonna need to get into this thing I am building”