Give me a moon, a star, an idol

Day moon

Sun and moon serve God

Light is introduced in the creation narrative mysteriously and without fanfare, but we also see light in that narrative as commonplace and serving as everyone’s clock. Day, month, year, seedtime and harvest (cold/hot and wet/dry) are functions of light sources, both the great and the lesser.

Light mysteriously from God’s command

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5, NASB)

Photo zoo, big light little light

We live in a photo-op zoo, but death is also ionized as darkness.

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.  God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth…

Genesis 1:14-17, NASB

What time is it?

As surely as the information in Genesis 1 is unique and I inimitable so is the appearance of God in the flesh.  The appearance is one of a kind and timelocked. When we answer the question “What time is it?” we synchronize our clocks with day or night, or one of Yahweh’s annual festivals.  The architecture of human times has made it so that whether it is night or day light is available.

Lesser light and stellar apostles

“Lesser light” is moonlight, and if someone was mindful of the arrival of a light-bearing era the time is permanently day. We cannot imagine who needs moonlight in the daytime.

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;

from 1 Thessalonians 5

Sleepyhead and drunkard

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10, NASB)

Give me the Sun of Righteousness

People are known to walk in the night and stumble, because light is either minimal or absent (see John 11:10). Indeed when the moon is under the feet of the woman who gives birth to the church (Revelation 12) it is certain that moonlight is the least of our concerns. Furthermore, the woman is clothed with the sun, she has stars (suns) forming her crown! Just think how inescapable is our obligation to avoid elevating moonlight to appear as the high and glorious riches of the gospel. The life shared by believers by means of faith is not an outcome of the creation of big or little light, but the will of the Light becoming our very clothing.

Everyone a prophet

Final, vital prophets, and other vain headliners

It is a kind of default badge for people in what they think are new movements to seek a accreditation by associating the movement with a prophet or some other icon of authority.  Whatever the choices are for an icon it is hoped that the movement acquires an aura of authenticity.  This is a madness that envelops religion.

Book mixup

Historians and theologiams have found similarities between Christianity Islam and Judaism which can only be explained by the fact existence of a common source. The “people of the book” designation must be taken literally, otherwise people would need to rely on oral tradition and, frankly, rumour speculation and folklore. Christians had the same Hebrew Bible, its (second century BC) translation into Greek, and the belief in one GOD. The unique Christian book, the New Testament, did not take shape until the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and the Arabs had neither book nor monotheism until the 7th century. The only book that could have been a source for the thoughts that reliably lift people towards Divinity must be the Hebrew Bible.

Those unfamiliar bridges

What are females?

The creation of woman is unique among the creation narratives. The existence of an alternate version means that the book cannot be trusted. Neged as the term defining the relationship between male and female cannot possibly mean the lame “beside” or “suitable” with which we are familiar. Rib, from which God made Eve, is help and protection, as ribs are known to protect the vital organs, heart and lungs. Neged also describes equals in negotiations and equals face to face. The reason the first woman is called “mother of all living” is obvious, but mother as source could not be a male honour. Man becomes part of the living chain only through women. Hence women represent the fact of being alive, and the “out front” part of the life cycle. Or do we want to imagine that God’s bringing Eve to Adam could be something other than a face to face presentation? So what’s with the hidden or invisible woman, the second class female, and the exclusion of females from any human endeavour?

What are words?

If Christians, Muslims and Jews read the first three chapters of the Hebrew Bible study Christians are less likely to grasp the foundations of human life. The vocabulary and grammar leaps off the page into a clear understanding, and the meaning does not need to pass through translations and revisions of translations such as we find in the 17th century King James version and the 19th century Revised Standard version. When one has no respect for the distance between the 21st century and the unique materials that have come to us through Jewish hands, the search is over for the counterfeit and diabolic.

Relative goodness

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

No matter what people call themselves they know what is good, they know what justice looks like, they appreciate kindness (given and received) but they all have a problem with humility. Just look at the jockeying to be first and tops in humanitarian ventures, even when the game has been called repeatedly, for kings, priests and mystics. There is no second Solomon, no remixes of covenants and promises. Isn’t goodness within the reach of all humans apart from a creed or cultural framework?

Least in tune

It makes sense that projection is involved in the claims people make about themselves. The expression of such claims are either external or internal. It is always what we wear, clothing or life itself. The liar broadcasts his abhorrence for lies, and unholy people wear their holiness on their sleeves. A prophet is only a big deal for people who want to avoid God.  Do people not have a moral obligation to read sacred texts? The landmark encounter with God in the Jewish experience is still the Exodus and Sinai Covenant. The elephant in the room of every reflection on history and personal accountability is the broken covenant; broken from inception by choosing not to hear Moses instead of God’s voice and violated to the present day via idolatry. The indications are that neither Jews, Arabs nor 21st century seekers make any significant progress without acknowledging the demise of prophets and the rise of anointed leadership without precedent. Of Yahweh, Isaiah wrote:

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Isaiah 40:11, NASB

Ezekiel, a prophet of priestly background, also wrote:

For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.

Ezekiel 34:11-12

I [emphatic] will feed My flock and I [emphatic] will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord God.

Ezekiel 34:15

It is Moses, the prophet who dared to ascend Sinai and be as God to the Egyptian king who assures us that prophets are going to be common.

But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!”

Numbers 11:29, NASB

The Arabs of the 7th century were neither fans nor followers of Moses, disciples of Jesus nor owners of the Hebrew Bible or the Greek Testament. Every tenet in the Bible takes on an extreme profile while the virtues of love and moderation become mere platitudes. We are great at avoiding GOD by means of talk. A lot of yapping about God blesses no one. First and last things get reversed any way, and it is the truly eternal statutes that demand our attention: justice, mercy and faith[fullness]. So let’s take Moses and John the Baptist seriously, before we find it really challenging to exit the prophet trap. We are not going to impress God by being hard line on crime and sin. God has already shown what his answer is to human sin, and it is a sacrifice, not fixing behavior.

What conversation?

May 09, 2022.

Crazy photo op by Canadian PM is how a morning show television host describes the visit into Kyiv on May 8, but one should hear what the Ukrainian partners had to say about the value of a visit. That does not even need to be googled.  I find that getting animated about what the Canadian government should have done instead is not a conversation.  If you have been to or watched a decent church service you are sure to have seen a rare genuine conversation. Very little of what goes on in government houses and political CONferences or CONventions will pass for fundamental conversation.  Canadians talk about the weather a lot because we know that no-one is likely to think we are looking for any credit or recognition as meteorologists.  Having a digital footprint and using it to spread whatever comes to mind or what shows up in an internet search is not contribution to a conversation,  and having no expertise or professional standard as a compass, television hosts are the swiftly rising destroyers of conversation.

The converse Asian is a guy with a lot of loud talk which we suppose follows sober thinking, but we cannot say we knew how many nations would sit on the fence when borders change by force  as the Ukrainians are currently experiencing.

The PRC and a host of other nations are publicly neither pro nor con Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the early morning pundits on television are neither for NATO to join the battle against Russia as if Ukraine was a NATO member, nor are they against a veto in a democratically operated UN Security Council.

Cultural figleaf in play

War is what many want to see, including the cowardly.  If international laws have been broken then the international cops need to serve and protect.  The late US president G.H. Bush was able to gather a coalition against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in what, though effective, turned out to be another poor demonstration of collective security.  Boots on the ground against all odds was last seen in the 1940s when Britain went to Africa to reverse the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.  There has never been an international action that mirrors NATO’S article 5, and war can be fought in many ways by the international community’s agencies to end lawless ventures. It seems that starting a shooting war should not be automatic especially in the age of nuclear vulnerability. Apparently, no-one at the UN, NATO, ASEAN, the Arab League, or the Gulf Cooperation Council can do anything more than protect what is left of their pride and precarious resource influence. None of the remedies are working, despite evidence of their effectiveness over the centuries. Neither diversity nor overwhelming majorities like language or religion have brought Asia, Europe, or the Middle East the security or prosperity one expects when the focus everywhere is said to be people-based, culturally-sensitive and non-destructive. Do African, Pacific, and Asian nations need eyes on Europe, China or Japan to achieve the better dreams of the next generation? You can be sure they are all asking “What next generation?”

What is a human right when death knocks persistently

People had better start looking for the real source of their rights, and it will certainly not be a religion a culture, or a thriving and centuries-old economy. Effective communities cannot base their longevity on the extinction of any of the rights of any of the members of the communities. Employers, employees, children and elders have inalienable rights but only people have rights because they are alive. Effective combat, against tribalism, government corruption, climate change, and even external military threats does not have to include hundreds of fatalities and wanton destruction of property. Some nations do have qualms about reckless decimation of their own populations, including their heads of state.  We count ourselves fortunate that we are not living under any of the ancient or modern wisdom that wants to pass as divinely designed. The ease with which human rights can be violated means that human life is not a concern of the nation as a whole. They all seem ready and willing to murder, assassinate or neutralize their own citizens. There are not enough people who understand that governments, kings, prophets, religious leaders, and politicians are not the guarantors of our rights. These functionaries are the ones who have allowed human rights to take a second place to their need to appear in charge. Collective security is a global ideal on paper, and the current roster of accountable nations do not have the smallest bit of humanity in their national DNA.

Guess what happens when people who do not speak the dominant language or follow the cultural priorities. They kill you. They put you in a ghetto or reserve. So people should stop pretending that the mantras of our many silos are part of a conversation that is changing minds. Mothers who are educated in every way are the solution for minds that need to be changed. Mothers have shaped human character when it matters most and their influence is at risk of disappearing. Who wants uneducated women training their sons and daughters? Can we stand the disappearance of Afghanistan and any nation alike it because we trust men who think nothing of the only entity declared the mother of all living? They have to know, if they believe all the prophets, that the nobility of women puts a lie to their so-called submission to God and enlightened governance. Lies and violence get exposed every time there is informed genuine conversation.

Lying under oath

At the trial of Saviour Yeshua the evidence for the prosecution was either a stupid lie of maga proportions or an inept distortion of the facts.  To be doubly sure that they would achieve a death sentence the court tried to paint the Nazarene as loyal to neither Caesar nor Moses.  Why they failed to get the facts about Yeshua’s sayings regarding taxes and his actual payment of tax we can attribute to a familiarity with lying under oath.

And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

Luke 23:2

The evidence they could have gathered

The Nazarene actually performed a miracle to demonstrate that he was not an insurrectionist.  A fish had swallowed a coin and this question trap was the occasion of its relief, and the Nazarene gets to pay the tax due without earning the cash.

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?”  He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”  When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.  “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

Matthew 17:24-27

The other slice of reality

Yeshua was never caught in a trap laid by the authorities.  So when they came with a question about paying taxes he was ready with “Show me the coin”.

“Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”  But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?

“Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.  And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”  They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”  And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.”

Matthew 22:17-22, NASB

We Christians are going to keep hearing scads of lies and twisted tales that try to make the case that faith in God is somehow inferior or unreasonable, but we are not the ones who have spent decades crafting a story that we are number one, nor have we tried to be the rulers of even an acre of earth. It is not farfetched to think of the more painful package of lies as coming from those who are followers of the Nazarene; people who want to reduce the eternal provision down to tools for fixing temporal things. Salvation is life from the dead! To help people get along in this life is not why Christ died. Just remember that what they did to him, they will do to us. Against these mountainous odds lying under oath may seem like molehills.

Should never happen

I addressed what the reader of the English Bibles would find if one performs a search for the phrase “should never” in Solomon’s preacher: flying in the face of a lazy generation.

The other result of the word search is in Ezekiel, the 16th verse of the 16th chapter.  This prophet is typically outspoken in his evaluations of the people to whom he brought God’s message.  For example, his book accounts for 32% of the occurrences  of the term harlot, harlotry, or harlotries.  His book accounts for less than 3% of the Old Testament books.  Zeke uses the terms about his own people’s wandering eyes.  It is fruitless for the prophet to mention Israel’s harlotry as a thing that should never happen.  What can anyone, prophet, judge or king, do if a hummingbird sips nectar?

It would be whipping time if a prophet does not tell his people how offensive their transgressions are to God. The prophet whose mantra is chockfull of all the good things that can happen is not worth his salt.

The prophetic priority

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.

John 5:45, NASB

Solomon’s preacher: flying in the face of a lazy generation

The phrase “should never” appears only twice in the English translations, and a popular song tells people to “never be discouraged” while the facts are that Christ himself was profoundly troubled and needed encouragement in the last hours of his life. There however are lots of verbs with the following meaning:

The phrase “should never” appears only twice in the English translations, even though there are lots of verbs with the following meaning:

  1. let us never
  2. you/they must never
  3. we/I will by no means
  4. they will never 

The first “should never” is not even a command or expectation; it is one of the conclusions from the preacher (of Ecclesiastes).

“When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night),”

Ecclesiastes 8:16, NASB

Three Clauses make up this verse.

  1. “When I gave my heart to know wisdom 
  2. and [gave my heart] to see the task which has been done on the earth
  3. (even though one should never sleep day or night),” (Ecclesiastes 8:16, NASB)
  1. כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר נָתַ֤תִּי אֶת־לִבִּי֙ לָדַ֣עַת חָכְמָ֔ה
  2.  וְלִרְאוֹת֙ אֶת־הָ֣עִנְיָ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר נַעֲשָׂ֖ה עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ
  3.  כִּ֣י גַ֤ם בַּיּוֹם֙ וּבַלַּ֔יְלָה שֵׁנָ֕ה בְּעֵינָ֖יו אֵינֶ֥נּוּ רֹאֶֽה׃” (Ecclesiastes 8:16, WLC)

The 3rd clause seems to be the preacher’s conclusion that in both day and night (= every 4 hour day) his inner (heart) processes to (a) acquire wisdom and (b) to see [by looking at] the common inyan, business, come up empty-handed.

His conclusion: [my translation]

because indeed daily for sleepy eyes there is no sight.

He was accusing his generation of being busy sleepy heads, unseeing and therefore not wise.  Who is going to dispute the progress of the Israelite kingdom during Solomon’s reign?  The busy sleepyhead is not missing in the modern era. We find them in all the areas of public endeavour and public service. There are employers whose practice is to rob the worker, peace officers and judges who pervert justice, preachers, rabbis, imams, and  prophets who have no master.  If we think the Ecclesiastes preacher is arrogant then consider that lilies of the field and the birds of the sky know their path and follow it, yet they have neither book, prophet nor magic wand. I recommend a pin for that balloon: the idea that busyness is evidence of knowledge or wisdom.

The empty tomb is not a threat

There was a plot to make Christ’s return from the dead look like a fraud even though the occurrence is not without precedent. People in New Testament times claimed that it was unheard of for blind people to see again, and there is no recorded debate about perfectly fit and worthy men like Elijah, Moses, and Enoch carted off to the grave. There is no doubt whatever that Elisha and Elijah raised a lad to life (2 Kings 32;35 and 1 Kings 17:17-24).   The elephant in the room of death’s demise is a man’s prediction about resurrection.  Christ used both figurative and literal terms to predict his death and resurrection. He talked about Jonah in the sea monster (Matthew 12:40), destroying the temple (John 2:18-22) and in plain language (Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22). The empty tomb that is displayed as the place where the Saviour of the world lay for three days is a threat to those who try to prove that Christ is alive by using logic and inanimate objects, but the actual threat people stuck in unbelief and rebellion face is where the king of Israel sits and not where he is not.

Fighting against God is painful for the fighter and God. He keeps pursuing both the lost and the saved. Christ could have called a legion of angels to prevent his arrest and passion, but it was in the arena of life and death that we see his best combat. The Lord Christ prevented deaths by healing sickness and disease apart from medical practice, and preempted funerals. He even interrupted a funeral cortege.

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When a sick person dies proof of death can be misinterpreted and mishandled. Checking for vital signs is not a modern practice. The ancient world know that breathing was a primary sign of life (Eze. 37:5, (Genesis 2:7, 35:29, Mark 15:37). No technology was necessary to pronounce a person dead. Observers though could say “Oh, she was merely sleeping” or that death’s victim was in an unusual catatonic or comatose state. Observers of that sort are however severely limited when the dead person is in Sheol for four days like Lazarus was. The suffocated, wounded and bleeding Yeshua of Nazareth was taken down from the stake dead.

There are two words in the Nain visit narrative (Luke 7:11-16) that appear nowhere else in the New Testament. A third word appears in this funeral narrative and in Peter’s intervention in Tabitha’s death (Acts 9). Both narratives are Luke’s work and there is no report of carrying out, coffin, or sitting up in the narration of our Lord’s death and resurrection.

  • Carry out, ekkomizo
  • Coffin, soros
  • Sit up, anakathizo

Wait ’til your eyes land on the occupied throne

If we think that an empty tomb speaks loudly we may not be ready for the voice that comes from where the Lamb of God actually sits. There is sheer terror in the hearts of men when they realize what a crude and childish mistake they have made rejecting the cornerstone of God’s kingdom. The officials of the kingdom in antiquity are not automatic participants in God’s kingdom.

“Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’”

1 Kings 8:25, NASB

How long will people give credence to theories about God’s kingdom that exclude the clear evidence about who is in charge of human destiny? Perhaps not long, as people all over the globe are waking up to the emptiness of their “cultural” traditions. The eyewitnesses of the outcomes of Christ’s death and rising from the dead were hemmed in by the deeds of the Holy Spirit and the words of the disciples and apostles.

“And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.”

Acts 2:30-31, NASB

God’s business is now in the hands of a caring God, far from the ravages of self-centred priests, prophets, patriarchs and wise men, because “the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation of John 7:17, NASB)