On kings, presidents and tyrants

Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.” (1 Samuel 12:19, NASB)

The sensitive heart of God’s servant Samuel appears in this episode.   He knew beyond a shadow of turning that asking for a king in imitation of the surrounding nations was a grave error.  Even so Samuel knows that just simply giving up on the people and not praying another word in their behalf; sensitive to the fact that he would be missing the mark by light years.  This is one trait that distinguished Samuel from his predecessors. 

Not willing to give up

You may recall Jeremiah pulling the plug on Judah, on GOD’S orders, a few years from the destruction of the temple and Babylonian exile.

Here, however, is Samuel, the man who would pour the oil on Israel’s first and second kings, committing himself to not pulling the plug on Israel, despite the consensus that asking for a king was a rejection of Yahweh.

The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.”

1 Samuel 8:7, NASB

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 

1 Samuel 12:23, NASB

Having a king was going to have result in consequences, of Samuel’s making.. There were consequences with which even jurisdictions with monarchies in the twenty first century struggle.

This will be the procedure – policy – of the king who will reign over you

1 Samuel 8:11-17

  1. He will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots
  2. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties
  3. He will appoint some to do his plowing
  4. … to reap his harvest
  5. …to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots
  6. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers
  7. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants
  8. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants
  9. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men
  10. … and your donkeys and use them for his work
  11. He will take a tenth of your flocks
  12. You yourselves will become his servants.

All heads of state, except the ones that are purely ceremonial will try to assert privileges that line up with Samuel’s predictions. Even when the law states that they should not seek to profit from their office they invariably do.

They’re all dead, right?

Salvation is great because it is eternal.  It is eternal because the human problem is not temporary or incidental.  “… death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” (Romans 5:14, NASB)  The problem cannot be fixed by anything created because humans were designed with the capacity to depart from God’s roadmap. Salvation is the remedy prepared before the problem happened and before the perpetrator was created. The benefits of this highest level initiative has nothing temporary: not the pardon, not the gift of the Holy Spirit, not the life of service and not the scheduled glory at the end of the age. Did I mention that glory also streams through pardon, descent and residence of the Holy Spirit, and loving service? No person called and chosen by GOD for this salvation needs to come back for another try. All the people who saw financial prosperity, problem-free employment and relationships, perfect physical fitness and freedom from disease, as benefits of the great salvation are all dead. Are they not?

A few rabbit holes to avoid

  1. Salvation that leaves you unsafe
  2. Hope gets hoovered up by how well people perform
  3. Caring more about obedience brownie points than compassionate actions towards humans or animals
  4. Commands unrelated to from the human terminal condition
  5. Love that discriminates (gender and ethnicity bases come to mind)
  6. A new covenant that reads in all the terms of its predecessor

Do we know anyone who, in addition to passing from death to life, from condemnation to adoption, legitimately represents the Risen Lord as passed from common human conditions like poverty, weakness, famine, and distress?

QOTD

Question of the day

Why is godliness not the loving standard displayed in a man loving his friends to the extent of laying down his life for them?

Time wasting quests

We spend our time going round the proverbial mountain when the journey required awaits.

You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north, (Deuteronomy 2:3, NASB)

  • Faith and love are the prime lessons of what hope can be
  • There are not many ways of righteousness
  • The greatest virtue is love
  • The greatest love is not shaky human promise or hope to do all that God has said
  • Love is defined by GOD loving us, not by we loving GOD
  • Christ love for his FATHER is to be summed up in the command to lay down his life for the lost
  • Without the picture of the loving Saviour we have only blurry ideas of who GOD is

Still we want to think that godliness can be something other than a caring attitude. Go on!

In spirit and in truth

“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalms 95:6, NASB)

How many times have we said these words – worship, bow down and kneel- standing erect, without so much as a genuflect? To be accurate, the three actions call for ducking, lowering ourselves. Gee! I thought that we learned to do that for our parents, even after we leave the nest and have our own families.

Is it legit to say we are doing the three in the SPIRIT?

The sight of mother or father always brings a barek, barek, bend the knee, bend the knee!. Even when we come to conscientiously disagree with them we bless – honour – our parents, often with head bowed. This generation is definitely cursed: for failing to reckon honestly with ancestral contribution to our times and our own wholehearted response to the river of life. Is that not what Malachi reports from Yahweh’s mouth?

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.

Malachi 4:5-6, NASB

If we have not taken John the Baptist seriously responding to the Lord will hardly show up on our radar.

Stick a pin in your malicious anger

Human anger and vengeance is ignoble, juvenile and abominable. Do not, please, ask the people who are vigorously keeping peace from breaking out between Indians and Pakistanis, former African slaves in the disapora and former colonists, First Nations and the interloper entities such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and a host of South and central American nations to do anything noble in the search for justice. They love vengeance and cruelty. The problem is global: versions of the Hitler Nazis are appearing with a flourish. Versions of the Taliban are on the rise in the United States, and if I am reading the religious hopefuls correctly, all they want to do is impose either chaotic pluralism, misogynist and male chauvinist regimes, all ready to shut up anyone with a different view of the world. If the number of people jailed for crimes they did not commit and the number of people killed in their places of worship do not convince the angry and the aggrieved to pipe down and stick a pin in their malice.

We will not change our minds

The fixtures of American politics and religion (mostly Christianity) are people with minds of stone. Senators who do not know what impartial justice looks like, governors who lie about police bravery, and state legislators who are dead set on oppressing women, killing school children, will not change their minds. They are what the Bible calls reprobate silver. They have consciences that are dead. If I did not believe in God I would say they were incorrigible. The difference bewen the 44th and the 45th president is so stark that one has to be either an avowed denier of facts, typical a Republican governor, rogue bishop, crooked sheriff or corrupt mayor, or a simply a person lacking humanity and literacy, not to see how evil can get itself into power and serve as a magnet gathering the ugliest attitudes and sentiments to pose as a righteous rage. It must be clear that most of the players on the international scene simply are eager to have their own version of London, New York, Paris and Washington, all the while claiming to be proud nationalists and keepers of the peace. Frankly I do not know see the benefit of any nation emulating Beijing, Moscow, Delhi, Pyongyang, Washington and Jerusalem. Judaism of New Testament times was wholly intolerant of the Way, and no one needs to be reminded of the kinds of freedoms afforded people in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia.

A vast criminal enterprise

A vast criminal enterprise, backed up by pardons and lifelong appointments is the only way to define the revolution that almost prevailed. It began with the likes of Gerry Falwell, a host of Christian psychologists, false prophets amd apostles and illiterate persons posing as pastors, and the supreme court stacked with perjured jurists. If there had not been a violent revolution to end English tyranny there would be no United States, and such a beast, haviving been created, what beside the nobility and decency of humanuty can prevent the United States from descending into malicious anger, bloodshed and cyclical tyranny? Nothing.

QOTD

Question of the day

Why does YHWH say “I will bless you” in verse 2 and “So let me bless those who bless you” in verse 3?

Weak-kneed translations hide the subtle textual facts, again.

אברכך

ואברכה

The short answer is: saying the nicer things about Abram (blessing him) has to leap past the entrenched tribalism to embrace all people without prejudice and acknowledge that all people are accepted by YHWH on the same basis.

If you think that is easy to get to, please read Acts 3, Romans 4:13, Galatians 2, and Hebrews 7.

For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.

Acts 3:26

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith

Romans 4:13

The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Galatians 3:8-9

Now if perfection [the ending] was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?

Hebrews 7:11

A longer answer

Watch for consideration of the theories that tinker on the edges of the Biblical appreciation of the progenitor of the Hebrew people.

P.R.C. Fire invisible for now

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan amid concerns she is disturbing the People’s Republic of China’s peace. Courage is not lacking in the world’s avowed democracies and the PRC’s peace is going to be elusive as long as its brutal homicidal reign continues without remorse. We will see that the PRC’s threatened fire will not emerge. There’s no controlling the forces of democracy.

Futile aspirations to rule the world

When the Phillipines, Malaysia, the PRK and a host of African nations become self-governing provinces of the PRC we will have the fifth world ruling power.

Every student of world history knows that there are only four world ruling empires and the drama is told in two different ways: first as a statue of (1) gold, (2) silver, (3) bronze, and (4) iron mixed with clay in Daniel’s prophecy (chapter 2:37-43). The drama of the four empires also appears as four beasts, right down to parallel ten toes and ten horns.

Four great beasts came up from the sea, different from one another

  • The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.
  • And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’
  • After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.
  • After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:3-7, NASB)

Russia, the PRC and all the other influential alliances are all johnnies-come-lately who have two things in common: a hatred of diversity and homicidal ruthlessness. Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome were all empires that included diverse nations, languages and peoples. China, Russia, and the Arab Emirates have little or no tolerance for human dignity. If they cannot turn people into mindless obedient robots they have no satisfaction with their power.

How old is religious discrimination?

We are perhaps familiar with the attitude towards Moses’ Ethiopian wife (Numbers 12) or with Pharisees, James  and Peter making Jews of Gentiles (Galatians 2:2:1-14, Acts 15:1-5). The case of discrimination  against Rahab may be unrecognized even though she is an example of inclusion and a (questionable) recipient of justification by works. James, in adjacent passages (one might say “in a single breath”) takes to the high ground of impartiality and sinks to the valley of discrimination. Discrimination has been at the heart of Nazism, European colonialism, the gee-whiz what-God-can-do gospel of the evangelical movement, and the medical miracle healing and prosperity talking points. The supposed proselytization through friendship is so not happening. Religious discrimination is both very old and have several modern new faces.

In the same breath

It does not take James too long after inspiring his readers with the distinct character of Christ’s faithfulness to and acceptance of all humans to plunge them into the abyss of dehumanizing the Gentiles. James exhorts his audience to keep holding the faith of Jesus with the exclusion of partiality.


My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

James 2:2, NASB

He illustrates this potential failure with the common and differential treatment of well-dressed and shabbily dressed persons coming into a Christian assembly. He contrasts God’s favourable attention to and endowment of the poor people with the oppressive rich people. James is certain that the kind of discrimination he is illustrating does not have God’s approval, but he says nothing about his own decision in the Jerusalem council to try to make Jews of Gentiles, after he and the entire council had heard that God had given the Holy Spirit to Gentiles believers, just as he had given the Holy Spirit to the believers in the Pentecostal Event, without reference to what Gentile people were eating, and apart from any instruction that came through Moses. It is clear that the glorious Lord Jesus was not James’ final authority. James digresses from the loving and imartial framework of faith to talk about how behaviour justified by God, or more precisely, how behaviour shows shows that a person is just[ified]. He selects Abraham and Rahab.

In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (James 2:25, NASB)

If this woman was justified on the same basis as Abraham why was her residence in the Israelite camp similar to a leper’s? Of course they were dissing her, and it did not matter in their world. They were going to kill thousands of Canaanite men woman and children because God ordered it, while allowing the men to pick attractive and suitable Cananite women for themselves. We cannot follow those fundamentalists who think they can justify bad – hateful – behaviour by saying “It is in the word of God’.

OUTSIDE THE CAMP like a leper 

The story of Rahab is not one that demonstrates Israelite virtue. The prostitute who assistance helped the Israelites succeed in taking Jericho ended up outside the camp. Joshua’s account of her reception into Israel did not take her actual location into account. 
Was she in the midst or outside the camp? If she did not live in the midst of Israel she would have to be outside, but it is clear that she was not treated as an insider while Israel was a moving community.

“However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”

Joshua 6:25, NASB

Taking a look at the larger reach of the Gospel into all people groups I find it rather unfortunate that a certain American television host calls his program “gospel truth” without the slightest hint that the term defines the essential and non-discriminatory dimension to the Messianic message. He is not alone in having blinders on about this indispensible component of Christian life. James belonged to the camp that bullied Jews into a hypocritical treatment of Gentiles, which included eating with Gentiles in private when no Jews were around (see Galatians 2:11-14). It get way worse when love for one’s friend gats set aside for a commandment-keeping love, a phenomenon illusrated in the Good Samaritan parable and in the popular perception that preserving the sanctity of a holy day takes priority over helping people and animals on the sabbath.

Looking at the American predilection for discrimination God knows who else is also unware that “gospel truth” means non-discrimination.  “Gospel truth”calls for impartiality. At the level of the full counsel of the Scripture we find that Ezra, a man known as a sharp and zealous scribe, did not get it so let us not be surprised that people today do not get it. They will certainly say there is justified discrimination in the early prophets (Joshua), in the extermination of the Canaanites and in the post-exilic restoration (Ezra), even though the temple was built on land bought from a Jebusite, with materials and workers from Tyre, and Solomon’s great great grandmother was a Moabite. It certainly takes too long for people to realize that God’s name is actually excellent in all the earth and he wants all the nations to shout for the joy of salvation with no tribal strings attached..