Sunday, February 26, 2017

How Does God Feel About The Israel - Palestinian Conflict?

He could barely breathe. He panted with short labored gasps to grasp at whatever meager volume of air His starving, craving lungs could receive. And He couldn't even get any respite from dreaded suffocation unless He would muster up whatever strength He had in his legs to support all of the weight of His torso in ever increasingly futile efforts to expand His chest wide enough to receive the life preserving vapor. I'm sure He gladly would have made His legs straight so as to enhance His breathing but the resulting increased weight of His body would only magnify the intensity of the sharp, searing, inexplicable pain that resulted from the cruel iron peg that impaled his feet and pressed against the naked, exposed nerve that communicated nothing but agony to His wretched body. The intense pain was unrelenting but it shot through His entire person with even greater intensity, if it were possible, when He made His pathetic attempts to capture only a wisp of the life preserving gaseous elixir.

Like a living butterfly whose wings had been pinned to the display case of a collector, He was affixed helplessly to a wooden shaft with His arms outstretched and bones out of joint. His hands were skewered by rods of iron, in like manner as his feet. They seared with s hot excruciating agony that was rivaled only by that of His feet. The welts and torn flesh on His back and on the backs of His legs, the result of whips whose injury was augmented by the addition of sharp bones or shards of metal so as to mercilessly tear open His flesh, rubbed excruciatingly against the wooden "pegboard" upon which He was matter-of-factly mounted.

His loss of blood made Him woefully thirsty. His lips were parched and His tongue almost stuck to the roof of His mouth. He could barely speak. Naked, defenseless and exposed, He'd been beaten and nailed to a wooden execution stake by tormentors who callously taunted Him as He endured His last moments of life. There was nothing and no one to give Him comfort. The only thing that could rescue Him would be death.

But how did He wind up in this predicament? He was a good man. He'd taught people how to be good people and He was not only their supreme example of what goodness was but He was perfect in everything He ever said or did. He was the ultimate Tsadik as we like to say in Hebrew, or righteous one.  So how could such a man ever find Himself in these circumstances? He certainly didn't deserve this! Yet He accepted His death and the agony that came with it willingly. In spite of His circumstances and the intense pain of His last moments, there was not one ounce of panic or apprehension in His soul.

Even in the midst of this torment, aside from His relationship with God, not once did He give thought to Himself. He thought only of the needs of others even to the end. His best friend and His mother stood by helplessly and with great sorrow, apprehension and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.  He gestured to His friend to see to His mother's needs while He was gone. Even those who taunted Him, He was quick to forgive desiring only their eternal well-being as of paramount importance. He looked beyond His present state with its unbearable agony with a different sort of eyes into the millenniums that would follow that fraction of a moment in time.  His mind dwelt upon every soul destined to live and to die... Billions upon billions of souls... each one of infinite importance, He knew each one by name.

He saw 21st Century Gaza with the little Kaddan boy and his Palestinian family under the siege of an Israeli army bombardment. He envisioned the shell from a tank hitting the home in which he'd lived his regrettably short life, snuffing him out and strewing his body into a million inanimate pieces.

He saw Daniel Tregerman, a young Jewish tot with a promising future blown to bits by a Palestinian mortar, leaving an emotionally scarred family in his wake. The man on that cross knew that all of this would happen. He was the way that God would be if He should ever choose to become a man. And He knew that mankind, in its foolishness, would try to make God to be something that He's not.  They would pin God to a cross so as to reshape Him into their own depraved image.

He knew that the Kaddan family would fall victim to a belief system fomented by a false, power hungry prophet who said that God was aloof, stern and demanding. Furthermore, their god would use the poor Kaddan family simply as disposable pawns by which their false prophet could posthumously further his perverted doctrines. But God is not aloof, stern and demanding. He is more like that man on the cross... good, kind, gentle, not enabling evil and yet willing to forgive. Many who hold to the belief system enjoined by the Kaddans also hold to the notion that the Middle East is no place where a Jew may live.  They have a sign engraved in their hearts... "Jews not welcome".

He knew that the Tregermans were among a people who held to the notion that their identities as Jews depended upon their refusal to accept the possibility that the Man on the cross could be the Messiah. Yet those people also held tenaciously to the notion that they needed their own place to live because a 2000 year history of persecution showed that they definitely needed a place they could call their own... where they would be free to live in safety.   Furthermore, the very book that describes the nature of the Man on the cross declares that their own land, contrary to the view of the people of the Kaddan family, is specifically located in the Middle East.  They have a sign engraved in their hearts... "The land is ours but Jesus is not welcome".

In essence...

The people of the Tregerman family believe the part of their holy book that talks about the land but rejects the part that tells about their Messiah.

The people of the Kaddan family reject the Tregermans holy book altogether, give token allegiance to the man on the cross, and replace it with a different (and dare I say false) holy book.

Furthermore, both families are confused by a group of people who claim to believe in the Messiah part of the holy book but refuse to believe the land part of the holy book and actually refuse, as well, to believe that the Tregermans have any place in God's plan either (but the holy book says that they do). They've spent two millenniums persecuting the people with whom the Tregermans identify.  So, every ones understanding of the holy book and the man on the cross is skewed.  And as the holy book says "There is none righteous.  No... not one."

Each of those groups of people is dominated by what we call “religions”. They are led by people who claim to be experts.  But how can "experts" disagree with one another in the way in which they do?  Actually religions with their dogmas and rituals only lead people astray.  The only expert is that man on the cross and the holy book that gives an accurate account of who He is.  Oh, perhaps you may doubt the veracity of that book but it has endured the test of the most intensive scrutiny of science, archaeology, scholarship and time and still survived.  Interestingly, if an individual is to be faithful to that holy book, he or she will likely experience some level of ostracism from his family of origin.  It's not easy pursuing the truth.   But such a person can be credited as the type of person who thinks for him or herself and is bold enough to endure the consequences of his or her faith decision. He is not part of a religion but has a vital and living personal relationship with that man on the wooden cross... the man who would be the kind of man that God would be if He would ever choose to reveal Himself as a man.

This man loves both the Tregermans and the Kaddans and all the people that they symbolize. But His love demands that each individual among them has the free will to choose to love Him back. Unfortunately thus far the Jews and the Muslims have, for the most part, chosen not to love Him in return. And their free wills have led to what we see today... the deaths of two innocent children among myriads upon myriads fallen victim to a history of war and human misery.

I regret to say that absolutely nothing will get the human race out of this quagmire of death except that man who died on that cross long ago. The world is not intended to be the way that it is. We were not made to hate and kill one another. Death itself was not ever intended to be normative. Our problem is that we've gotten used to death and war and the general condition of the world as it exists. We cannot imagine our present state, uncomfortable and foreboding as it is, as being anything other than normative. Certainly politics won't help us. And, to be honest, religion won't either because it gives us a false understanding of God. Furthermore religion divides. We blame one another rather than blaming ourselves. We say “it's the other guys fault... never mine”. We refuse to say “Hey, I could be responsible for some of this mess”.  We are enamored with ourselves and how good we are.  But the man on the cross sees otherwise.  He sees us for whom we are, loves us anyway and is quick to forgive us if we simply ask Him.  

Most of we humans have big egos.  We think we're God in a strange sort of way.  We might say that we're not, but don't we respond with anger when we get insulted?  The man on the cross didn't. There, dying, in the midst of His agony, He knew who He was.  He was the way God would be if He should ever choose to be a man.  And if we would ever want to be like God, we should want to be like Him.

By the way, that man? He rose from the dead. He's alive! One day He's going to make the world into the kind of place that it was intended to be.  And inhabiting that world will be people who've asked God to make them into the kind of people He wants them to be without being “religious”... sort of like that man on the cross. They will all come from extremely diverse backgrounds but by being the type of person that that man on the cross is, they'll be the only types of people who will be able to get along with one another.

And there will be no more wars, or sickness, or death or, most importantly, guilt or tears... only good stuff.

I don't care if you're Jewish, Palestinian, or ISIS for that matter. I want that for you and especially that man on the cross wants it for you.

Was Muhammad Qualified to be a Prophet?

God gave Moses 10 Commandments.  The seventh commandment said…
“Thou Shalt not Commit Adultery”

Here is a list of many in the Bible whom Islam says were prophets and their behavior concerning the question of adultery (Muslims may pronounce the names differently or ascribe different names to them).

Adam had one wife.
Seth had one wife.
Enoch had one wife.
Noah had one wife.
Abraham had 3 wives.
              He had a second wife because his first wife couldn’t 
              have children.
              When his first wife did miraculously have a child 
              (Isaac), he sent his first wife away.  He had a third 
              wife only after his first wife died.
Isaac had one wife
Jacob had four wives only because he’d been tricked by his 
David had many wives.
              And although the New Testament says he was a 
              prophet by virtue of the fact that he gave prophetic
              utterances, his office was that of a king. He was not 
              above the law of Moses, and therefore, a prophet 
              chastised him for his adultery.
              Because of his adultery one of his sons temporarily 
              took the kingdom from him, he was humiliated in 
              front of everyone in his kingdom, and his household 
              was divided the rest of his life.
Solomon had many wives but he also was not a prophet.  
              He was a king and because of his adultery his 
              kingdom was divided and all of its wealth was lost.

Muhammad (solely a prophet of Islam) had several wives and while the Bible never justifies multiple wives, the Quran was claimed to have justified it on behalf of Muhammad. In Surah 33:50 we read.

O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you [of captives] and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who emigrated with you and a believing woman if she gives herself to the Prophet [and] if the Prophet wishes to marry her, [this is] only for you, excluding the [other] believers. We certainly know what We have made obligatory upon them concerning their wives and those their right hands possess, [but this is for you] in order that there will be upon you no discomfort. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
Surah 33:50

Muhammad married the divorced wife of his adopted son. His feelings for her were there before she’d ever been divorced. Yet somehow, Allah justified this for him and allegedly gave her to him.  If you're Arabic speaking, you can read about it here.

And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, "Keep your wife and fear Allah ," while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished
Surah 33:37

Even Aisha whose marriage to Muhammad was consummated when she was at the age of 9 pondered the reality that Muhammad managed to get "convenient" revelations from allah justifying his acquisition of a harem.  Of course her testimony doesn’t count because Islam has declared that the testimony of a woman does not bear the same weight as a man. 

You can read about this pondering on her part here.

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: I felt jealous of the women who offered themselves to Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) and said: Then when Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, revealed this:" You may defer any one of them you wish, and take to yourself any you wish;
and if you desire any you have set aside (no sin is chargeable to you)" (xxxiii. 51), I ('A'isha.) said: It seems to me that your Lord hastens to satisfy your desire.
Sahih Muslim 8 3453

Futhermore, where the Bible has set as the standard that the marriage relationship should be between only one man and only one woman, Muhammad, with the guidance of Allah, has changed that standard to a maximum of four wives.  And that has become not universal but pretty normative in Muslim circles.  Did God change the standard or are we talking about the God of the Bible and the god of the Quran being two completely different gods?

Absolutely no individual who both the Bible and Islam agree were prophets had adulterous relationships which would have compromised their proclamations concerning the moral demands of God.  Furthermore, God never condoned adultery.  This is confirmed by the consequences resulting from the adulterous practices of the kings of the Bible.

Muhammad practiced adultery and used the Quran to create the perception that activities which constituted adultery (e.g. The taking of multiple wives, the taking of underage children for wives, the marriage to divorced women) were not, in fact, adultery but, on the contrary, were permitted by God.  By doing so he has led tens of millions of followers astray using the name of allah to justify a practice that God never permitted. And dare I say, God's standards of morality never have changed and never will change no matter who might declare otherwise.

Muhammad’s behavior vastly differs from the behavior of any of the prophets of the Bible.  By that virtue alone, he does not qualify as a prophet.  Evidence would have it that Muhammad used allah and the Quran to justify his own lusts and in so doing, he redefined God's standard of morality which objectively speaking, will not and cannot change in spite of what Muhammad "legitimized".  Rather than leading people towards God which is the role of a prophet, in the name of allah, Muhammad led people... countless numbers of people, away from God.  In light of that alone, Muhammad is neither a prophet, nor is his Quran a genuine "holy book".

Do Both the Quran and Bible justify Murder?


On the one hand, I could say that the answer to this question is quite simple.  Just compare Jesus to Muhammad…

Jesus never harmed anyone or anything.  As Isaiah describes the Messiah “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wi9ck He will not extinguish;” (Isaiah 42:3)

Muhammad conducted war, beheaded captives, raided caravans, and added captured women to his harem.

Jesus’ immediate followers, likewise, were harmless.  They spread the message of the Gospel of the Messiah through reasoning and arguments of persuasion.

Muhammad’s successors conducted war, beheaded captives, raided caravans, and added captured women to their harems.

The answer is relatively straight forward.  There is nothing about the life of Muhammad that would even remotely suggest that he was a man of peace or that the “religion” that he founded is one of peace.

One may also look to the Quran and the Hadiths to confirm a general call to violence on the part of Islam.  The Muslim apologist cries fowl, however.  “How can you claim that the Bible is a book of peace when in fact, it also called for not only violence, but genocide?" Furthermore "How can you say that the Bible is a book of peace when it declares that there will be violence in the future?"

Most Christians tend to avoid these objections.  Personally, I’m skeptical that anyone who would present these objections is really interested in determining truth and/or is so entrenched in Islam that He would be unwilling to objectively reevaluate his own faith anyway.  I hope that such is not the case and with that in mind, I present as my intention, to address these objections and demonstrate that they are fundamentally unfounded.  In this essay, I will attempt to address the former objection and in a subsequent essay, I will address the latter objection.

Why the call in the Bible to genocide?

The Muslim apologist is correct when he makes the claim that God told Moses that when the Children of Israel were to enter the Land of Canaan there were to completely kill all the people of the land.  Clearly, in Deuteronomy 17:16-18 it says

Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes.  But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God.

This is a reality.  This is a part of the very ugly, down and dirty truth that is found in the Bible.  But it is a necessary part of the Bible narrative.  So, I rhetorically ask “Why did God command the Children of Israel to do something as utterly cruel as annihilating the inhabitants of the Land?  I will attempt to answer this, first, by addressing the nature of the people who were in the land, second, by addressing the purposes behind God wanting the Children of Israel to occupy the land and last, by the nature of the warfare that was used in taking the land.

A.   The nature of the people who were living in the land.

The first hint that we get about the nature of the people who were living in the land is found in Genesis 15.  It tells something about, not only the people, but something very wonderful about God.  In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abram (whose name would be changed to Abraham).  As part of the covenant God says to him

“Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.  But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.  As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.  Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.
(Genesis 15:13-16)

Here we see God telling Abraham that his descendants would spend 400 years in Egypt.  The Amorites who were in the land at the time of Abraham’s dwelling there were deeply involved in idolatry and all sorts of perverse behavior.  But the sin among them had not yet reached its peak.  They were not beyond redemption.  The 400 years of the descendants of Abraham dwelling in Egypt was the time necessary for the Amorites to reach their peak of corruption.  Here’s where we see something wonderful and compassionate about God.  Notice His patience.  He knew that the Amorites would get worse and worse.  He just didn’t want to utterly destroy them then and there.  Some of the Amorites at the time of Abraham were redeemable and not deserving of death.  The compassion of God is reflected by the fact that He also wanted to give them time to repent.

I will not, at this point, get into the other aspects of this covenant.  They are very significant.  But they are not presently germane.

So, at the time of the Children of Israel’s (Abraham’s grandson’s) invasion of the land, the Amorites had become as corrupt and irredeemable as they could be.

So, what was the nature of their corruption?  There is no specific history of the account of their corruption mentioned in the Bible, however, after much time had passed, the kingdom of the Children of Israel who had wrenched the land from the Amorites became divided into two separate kingdoms.  In the northern kingdom, there arose a king who became so evil and corrupt that he was likened to the evil of Amorites (1Kings 21:26).  To understand the corruption of the Amorites, therefore, one need only study the activities of that king whose name was Ahab.  An account of the activity of Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, can be found between chapter 16:29 and Chapter 22:40 of the book of First Kings of the Bible.  Among the things they did was to construct Ashtaroth which were poles erected in honor of the goddess Asherah.  Mythology had it that she was the consort of Baal… the weather god who rode the clouds and carried lightning in his hand.  The Ashtaroth were constructed all over the northern kingdom of Israel and orgies were conducted throughout the land in her honor since she was the pagan “goddess of fertility”.  Their idolatry led Ahab and Jezebel to murder the actual prophets of God.  Furthermore, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were running rampant throughout the land drastically lowering the life expectancy among the population.  Not too soon after Ahab’s reign, the northern kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians and sent into exile.  As bad as Ahab was, that’s how bad the Amorites had become by the time the Children of Israel had left Egypt.  That’s why God wanted to use Israel to wipe them out completely.  They’d become a cesspool of sex, idolatry, lawlessness and murder.

Concerning the Amorites, in Exodus 23:32-33 God tells Israel

“You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.  They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you” 

God wanted the Amorites gone because they were thoroughly nonredeemable, and their idolatry and practices of prostitution would only serve to tempt the Children of Israel to immorality.

B.   The purposes behind why God wanted the Children of Israel to inhabit the land.

    Rather obviously King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel was not the way God desired for the kingdom of Israel to progress.  God had given a law known as the Torah to the Children of Israel.  It was an amazing law which made supernatural demands upon the people of Israel.

To illustrate just how amazing this law was, one of its statutes stated the following:
If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him.  If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.
Exodus 23:4-5

This was a practice that was unheard of and still is unheard of to this day!  Whoever heard of a man acting charitably towards his enemy?  When Israel, after having been exiled and returned to the land, under Roman domination, Jesus told the people of His day just about the very same thing…

“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person;  but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Matthew 5:39

The point that I’m making is that much of the Law of God consisted of decrees that were outside of human nature to carry out.  Man, in his natural state is not going to “turn the other cheek”.  A unique, special sort of motivation is needed to implement this law on a personal level.  Certainly, in the case of the above law, willful forgiveness is required as well as renunciation of pride and the taking on of humility when one has been dishonored.  Essentially, one must be willing to love God so much that he is willing put his own self-interests aside in deference to God’s law. And God’s law is spelled out only in God’s word, the Bible.

Human nature says “I can be a good person, in fact, I AM a good person”.  And so, God gave the Children of Israel an opportunity to try to implement His law.  Of course, this law could never be implemented to perfection, but imagine that you’ve been told to shoot an arrow at a target.  How are you even going to get near the target if you don’t know what direction that the target is in?  The law pointed in the direction, and the objective was to create a society, which, governed by the perfect Law of God, consisted of a population of people who were, at least compared to all the nations around them, compassionate and respectful towards one another.  Disputes were to be settled justly and in an orderly fashion.  Yes, some punishments were treated with the utmost of severity but the intent was that such punishments would never even be necessary.

So exactly where was this land where this “society” was to be established?  In Genesis 15:18, while God was making His aforementioned covenant with Abraham, He tells him.

“To your descendants, I have given this land.
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates”

The land was to extend from the eastern most river of the Nile Delta to the Euphrates River.  This promise is reiterated not to Ishmael, Abraham’s oldest son through a servant woman, but to Abraham’s other son, Isaac (the son born supernaturally of Sarah who was considered by all standards, too old to have children) in Genesis 26:2-5. The promise is again, repeated not to Isaac’s son, Esau, but to Isaac’s son Jacob in Genesis 23:13-15.

The descendants of Jacob have never fully acquired all this land, but the God of the Bible, who will not lie, promises that one day they will obtain all of it.  In Leviticus 26:40-45 Moses tells us that the descendants of Jacob (who is also called Israel) will be exiled from the land but would one day return from the four corners of the earth.

But why this particular parcel of land?

The land was to be located right in the middle of the trading routes as caravans took their goods from East to West and North to South and vice versa, all over the known world.

Now imagine if you will… this land, right in the middle of these trading routes is inhabited by a people who, because they love God, can do extraordinary things like displaying acts of kindness towards even their enemies.  The traders would marvel and attribute this amazing relationship between these people to their God.  They would go back to their homes and families after their long journeys and tell their wives and children about this marvelous God.  People all over the world would give up their idols and pursue the knowledge of this wonderful God.

Obviously as we’d looked at Ahab, this experiment failed.  The kingdom had been divided in two and the northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians.  The southern kingdom of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians about 150 years later, also because of their sin.  There’s a saying that “Jewish people are just like everyone else only more so”.  The Jewish people failed because, when it comes to righteousness, it’s human nature to fail.  Why do we get angry when we’re insulted or dishonored?  All of us is prone to hate our enemies.  But the law demands that we’re to act otherwise.  

But there was one other reason for this law that I’d like to suggest.  A descendant among these people was going to be born who would be the very embodiment of this law.  He was to be the perfect person who was to demonstrate righteousness, show man “how it’s done” as it were and, contrary to the declarations of Moses and the Prophets, face death. 

It’s written:

Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine.  The soul that sins will die.
Ezekiel 18:4

Ezekiel said that the one who sins is to face death.  But the Children of Israel were “pregnant” as it were with this perfect person who was to come.  His Name was destined to be called Y’shua which means “The Salvation of God” (He’s commonly known as Jesus or Isa).  He never once had an inappropriate thought or said an inappropriate word or did an inappropriate deed.  On the contrary, He miraculously healed people and saw to their needs.  It was thoroughly inappropriate that He should face death but He did so willingly, and was quick to forgive those who tortured Him, spoke ill of Him, insulted Him and ultimately crucified Him.

C.    The nature of the warfare used in taking the land

God said to the Children of Israel through Moses…

“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.  Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.  But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.  For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.
(Exodus 23:20-24)

He goes on…

I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.  I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you… You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.  They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
(Exodus 23:27-28. 32-33)

Put simply, clearly from this text, God is doing the fighting on behalf of Israel to clear the land of those nations whose idolatrous practices would pose as a snare to them.

How then did this “strategy” of the Angel of God going before the Children of Israel play itself out?

The first city that the Children of Israel came to was Jericho.  Jericho.  Jericho was a large wall-enclosed city.  The city was taken because God Himself knocked down the walls.  The people of Israel rushed in, killed everyone except a prostitute who had repented of her prostitution and her family.  None of the Children of Israel died.

The next battle was at the town of Ai.  There were two attempts on the part of the Children of Israel to take the city.  The first attempt was unsuccessful and 36 men were killed.  It turned out that this lack of success was because one man had sinned.  That man and his family were put to death and the second attempt was successful, again, without any Israelite casualties.

The third battle was against five Amorite kings.  We read about this battle in the Book of Joshua, chapter 10.  In this battle, God routed the Amorites, literally killing more Amorites than the Children of Israel did by creating a giant hail storm. 

Essentially, when God is fighting for Israel, if there is no sin in the Israelite camp, no Israelite dies.  Furthermore, it is God Himself, who does most of the killing.

Let’s bring us now to the 21st century.  We’ve noted that, at least per the Bible, Moses (as well as the other prophets) had foretold that the people of Israel would be scattered, understandably because of their sin.  We’re also told that they would eventually return to the land.  We’ve also learned that the land they presently occupy is only a fraction of the land that had been initially promised to them by God, through their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

We’ve also learned that as cruel as the Biblical call to genocide of the inhabitants of the land seemed to be, it was justified not only because of the utter depravity of those people present in the land but the land needed to be cleared so as to establish a witness to what a righteous nation looked like.  and even though the Children of Israel failed as an example, they were carrying in their midst, the "seed" that was to be the perfect example of humanity... the Messiah Y'shua.  Furthermore evidence for that justification was manifest by God Himself as it was He who was doing most of the fighting.

We’ve also noted that when there is absolutely no sin, no one on the side of Israel dies.

Today, the people of Israel are back in the land.  Is this the time of their return?  Maybe yes… maybe no.  We do know however, that when the State of Israel was first formed, five well-equipped and trained Arab armies fought against a rag-tag force of a few thousand, ill-armed holocaust survivors and were rebuffed.

One web-site, gives figures for the deaths of Arabs vs. Israelis between the years 1948 and 1973.  Just counting the deaths of the specific wars during those years there were an estimated 6,800 to 11,100 Israeli deaths and 35,800 to 68,600 Arab deaths, every one of which was tragic!  Even the wars and intifadas after this time have led to more Arab deaths than Jewish deaths.  Considering this data, what evidence is there that miracles were performed by Allah on behalf of the Muslim cause?  Where has Allah shown signs that he was fighting for Islam?  In contrast, anecdotes abound of instances where God has fought in this modern era on behalf of the Israelis.  One need only conduct a Google search.

Of course, Muhammad encouraged fighters to be willing to “die for the cause of Allah”.  However, the Biblical model that I’ve put forth seems to intimate that the army that is without sin suffers absolutely no losses.  Considering that, it seems that there is plenty of sin to go around.  The sad thing is that people tend to be too arrogant either to admit their sin or to question the world view that drives them on to mutual destruction.

I would pose the question, therefore… “Is Islam a ‘religion of peace’s or is it in fact, a world view founded by a pseudo prophet, that is fighting against the will of the one and only true God?  I would also pose the question.  ‘what makes Muslims so sure that Jesus is merely just a prophet and what makes Jews so sure that Jesus is not the Messiah?

I hold as axiomatic that these two factions are fundamentally at war with each other because they each reject an understanding of just who Jesus is.

Where Were You on September 10th, 2001?

I'm sure that most of you know where you were on September 11, 2001. If you're old enough to remember, I'm sure you recall exactly where you were and what you were doing. But I pose another question. Do you remember what you were doing on September the 10th or, for that matter, the 9th?

On the 9th, I was having a conversation with my somewhat recalcitrant 21 yr old son. (Let me preface by saying that I believe that the Bible's the very Word of the God of the Universe). He challenged me... “How do you know that the Bible's the Word of God? How do you know that the Qur’an, for instance, isn't the Word of God?” I admitted to him that I had entered into this discussion with some initial biases so I told him that, for the sake of objectivity, I would do some research on Islam.

The 10th was a Monday. During lunch I got on the web and looked up a number of introductory web-sites on Islam. I noticed, in general, a willingness to pay homage to Jesus but a lack of understanding of whom Jesus is from the Biblical perspective. They had an appeal for an assumed commonality with believers in Jesus, but when one digs deeper, they deny that Jesus had any elements of Deity in His nature and to believe that He was God was 'shirk' and marked one as an “infidel”.

I concluded from my short introduction to Islam that anyone who takes Islam seriously was FUNDAMENTALLY CRUEL.

Muslims had been moving into my neighborhood, buying up houses with cash. They'd even bought a school building 2 blocks from my home, calling it an “education center” yet, since then, it's been converted into a mosque. I remember praying. “God, I'm not prepared for this. I'm just a spoiled Jewish boy from the north side of Chicago”. God spoke to my soul in a way that only He can... “I will prepare you”.

Mind you... that was September 10th, 2001. The next day, of course, for the first time in American history, there was an attack by a foreign entity on American soil. It was at the hands of believers in Islam.

I'm grieved by the presumption of Islam. As a Jew, I'm also grieved by the presumption of Judaism. Both “religions” (which I prefer to call “world views”) attest to the greatness of God and hold staunchly to his “oneness”. But, in so doing, they don't even begin to understand the wonder and grandeur and magnificence and holiness of this God of whom they allegedly give allegiance. And He is echod... one.

President Bush began a “war on terror”. The proponents of terror had, for years, carried out a war on America. I'm of the opinion, however, that this war that is waging is not a war that merely involves guns and tanks and bombs. It's a war of ideas and world views.

Every Sabbath, in the synagogue, the strains of the prayer, called “the Oleynu”, are chanted. Included in its refrain are the words of the Prophet Zechariah... “In that day (the day when peace will reign on Earth), the Lord shall be one and His Name shall be one”.

There's a popular bumper sticker making its way about the streets of America. Using the symbols of various religions as letters, it spells out the word “tolerance”. To be honest, tolerance is the mandated antitheses of some of those religions represented by those symbols. They are mutually incompatible. Yet, at least according to Zechariah, there will be no peace on this planet until the peoples of the earth come to a mutual conclusion concerning who this God is, what He is like and what He expects from us human beings.

The fact that these “religions” can't agree on these issues is not to be ignored (as is the case with these bumper stickers mentioned previously), but, I would argue, debated with attitudes of humility, civility and mutual respect. How else can we come to a consensus and agree on who God is, what He is like and what He expects from us?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Religion Must Give Way to Truth or there will be no Peace on Earth

It is a little known fact in the “town square” that Christianity, at its very outset, was Jewish.  Rather than belabor that point, I simply sight chapter 15 in the Book of Acts of the New Testament, as being about a small group of Jewish believers in Y'shua (Jesus) getting together to discuss the plausibility of the notion that a Gentile can come to believe in Y'shua without first becoming a Jew.

Whereas in the First Century A.D., it was a mystery that a Gentile could believe in Y'shua, Today, in the 21st Century, it is a mystery that a Jew can believe in Y'shua.  To date, I have not yet found an adjective that can adequately describe just how ironic this is!

Today, we are engaged in what has popularly been dubbed a “war on terror”.  In light of the fact that this war is a struggle between Islam and the West with its potpourri of divergent belief systems, I believe that it is safe to say rather axiomatically that...

Until the human race collectively comes to a consensus about who God is, what He is like and what He expects from us, we shall forever be at war.

This axiom is corroborated in the “Oleynu” prayer in Jewish liturgy which ends with a quote from the Prophet Zechariah…

“On that day (the day when peace reigns on earth) the Lord shall be One and His Name shall be One.”

As I see it there are three possible ways by which we can come to this consensus1:

     1. We humans willingly debate the issue rationally and dispassionately 

     2. One particular view is dictatorially imposed upon everyone else, or

     3. The truth is irrefutably revealed to everyone.

It is unlikely that the members of "our species" will agree on anything.  Personally, I find that this substantiates the reality of the doctrine of sin.  We humans are too arrogant and biased to relinquish our points of view despite the evidence.  The afore mentioned axiom would concur that this reality is to our detriment because it inhibits the unanimity necessary for the prevention of war.  

Sadly, even if the truth were to be irrefutably revealed to everyone (which I do believe will happen one day in the future), in the state our world is presently in, many would still reject it.  In reality, I’m pretty well convinced that this objective truth already exists today.  The writer of the Book of Proverbs declared “Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;” (Prov. 1:20)Even though the voice of Wisdom can metaphorically be heard today, I fear that her voice is drowned out by the rabble of foolishness... whether it come in the form of peer pressure, vogue thinking, tradition, individuals assumed to be experts, predetermined prejudices, any other of a myriad of influences on thought processes or just plain unwillingness on the part of people to put in the effort to think critically.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, there seems to be only two remaining alternatives…  continued war or the imposition of a world view upon the masses by a dictator or group of self-appointed dictatorial elitists.  The former alternative is destructive at face value to say the least.  The latter alternative is most likely inconsistent with objective truth.2  

Feeding heavily into this “gemish” of confusion over the nature of God, what He might be like and what He expects from us, is the fideistic rejection by the Jewish people of the Messiahship of Y’shua.  As a whole, the Jewish community defines a Jew as someone who is the child of a Jewish mother but who also does not believe in Y’shua.  To much of the Jewish community, the contention that Y’shua is not the Messiah is an axiom in itself.  This “axiom” however, is a presumption and is built upon a paradigm which places it directly at odds with Christianity.  The Jewish rejection of Y’shua as the Messiah is a direct refutation of Christianity which claims, to the contrary, that He is the Messiah.  The rabbis seem to be oblivious to the fact that their “faith stance” is in reality an affront to Christianity.  The modern western "church" does not perceive this either.  Not wanting to “offend”, much of the church relegates “Judaism” to being 'just another religion' and makes up some canard that “Jews can’t be reached for the Gospel or they have their own means of receiving 'salvation'”.  That is an unfortunate assumption.  There have always been Jewish believers in Y’shua including among them being the very “founder” of this phenomenon which has been inadequately dubbed "Christianity".

This clash between Christianity and Judaism, rather than being confronted, is ignored.  Each side seeks its own comfort zone.  It’s not comfortable to confront.  It’s not comfortable to challenge one’s culture and opinions as they measure up against Biblical truth.  Ironically, this pursuit of comfort produces exactly the opposite effect. Ignoring the debate only contributes to the afore mentioned lack of consensus on the nature of God.   This, in turn, carries with it its already noted horrific consequence of war and human self-destruction.  Instead of finding comfort, the one who pursues comfort unwittingly foments war and the inevitable accompanying threat to personal safety… the very antithesis of comfort.  

There is another element of irony that accompanies this issue.  Even though Judaism is fundamentally antagonistic towards Christianity, the very existence of the Jewish people on the world's stage validates Christianity because their survival over the millennia validates the Bible which prophecies that they will survive history.5  By validating the Bible, therefore, the Jewish people validate the Gospel of Y'shua which is revealed in the Bible.3  It is also worth noting that if some entity wanted to invalidate the Bible, the logical strategy might be to try to annihilate the Jewish people, and, by so doing, delegitimize the Bible by discrediting its prediction of Jewish perpetuity.  Islam, of course, rather conveniently, illustrates this rejection of the Bible via its claim that the Bible has been replaced by the Quran.  Current events (and also history) reveal an inherent anti-Semitism in Islam which goes hand in hand with its rejection of the Bible.  (As an aside, I ask “If the Jews corrupted the Bible as Islam claims, why is it that we say so many bad things about ourselves in the Bible?  One would more likely assume that we’d want to show ourselves in a more positive "light” if we’d actually chosen to “corrupt” the Bible).

This anti-Semitism is not just limited to Islam.  Liberal “Christian” theology which challenges the literal interpretation of the Bible, even to the point of relegating the birth, life, death and/or resurrection of Jesus to the level of allegory is also notably anti-Semitic.  Sadly such theology lends itself to the acceptance of Islam as a “legitimate” religion which brings us back to the argument of… “There are many ways to God” which is contrary to the call of the Oleynu to universal consensus... our axiom.  Furthermore, rather obviously, it lends credibility to Islam to which it ought not be afforded.  As the Apostle Paul wrote:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Galatians 1:8-9

Note the emphasis that Paul placed on “preaching another Gospel”.  Twice he says that anyone who preaches another Gospel… “He is to be accursed”.  So who is to be accursed?  Allow me to give you somewhat of an incomplete list of examples… Buddha, Bahaula, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russel (Founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses), Joel Osteen and Muhammad.  All these have preached another Gospel and all, according to Paul, “are to be cursed”.  I dare say, ‘though, it is ultimately God who does the cursing.  The Bible's sole functiion here, is to warn.

The liberal Christian who tolerates these aberrant belief systems has rather obviously rejected the admonition of the Apostle Paul.  Clearly, he does not really believe the book he seems to claim to believe.  Dare I say, he has chosen political correctness in the guise of “tolerance” so that he might have the COMFORT of avoiding conflict and by so doing, he ceases to be a peacemaker and becomes if not a warmonger, at least a war perpetuator.

The Gospel of Y’shua is unashamedly and without exception, for everyone whether he be Jew or Gentile, Black or White or any variable in between. 

Subsequently, it is safe to say that, in light of what the Bible has to say in the matter, peace will never come to this planet until either the Jewish people, are destroyed, (as is the contention of many anti-Semitic groups), which would invalidate the Bible, which according to the Bible, will never happen5,  they en-mass, receive Yeshua as their Messiah which will happen6 one day, or Biblical Christianity is determined to be utterly false which, also, will never happen7.  In spite of the inevitability of the universal acceptance of Y’shua by the Jewish people at a specific time in the future, it behooves genuine believers in the Messiah, nevertheless, to “pave the way” as it were, by prioritizing prayer for, safety and well-being for, and evangelism to the Jewish people.  Even if many do not believe now, a seed will be planted that will bear fruit on “that day.”  This priority must also be extended to everyone as well, As the Apostle Paul wrote…

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to anyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentile).
                                                            Romans 1:16

Ultimately the veracity of the Bible and the survival of the Jewish people are mutually connected.  In the end times it is over the veracity of the Bible and the subsequent issue of exactly whom Jesus is that, consensus will be reached.  And it is this consensus that will mark that day when peace finally reigns on this planet.

1.All three of these mechanisms for achieving consensus are mentioned in the Bible.  Although there are several references to each mechanism, the following are one or two references to each.

A. Rational debate - "Come now, and let us reason together, "Says the LORD," Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.                                                    (Isa 1:18)

B. One view is imposed upon the masses - Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.                                                                            Rev. 13:11-14)

C. The truth is irrefutably revealed to everyone - "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 
                                                                                                     (Zech. 12:10)

2. Scripture would not argue that the foundation of this dictatorship will probably be a lie.  I use the word “probably” only for the sake of argument.  Scripture argues irrefutably that it is a lie. - And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 
                                                                                                                Rev. 13:14)

3. The fact that the Jewish people have survived two millennia of exile from their homeland, endured wave after wave of intolerable persecutions including attempted genocide, and returned to their original homeland to speak the same language they’d spoken two millennia earlier, is a testimony to the predictive nature of the prophecies inherent in the Bible.

4.  Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.                                                                                                    (Jer.31:31-33)

5.   Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:  If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever." Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done," declares the LORD.                                                                                                                   (Jer 31:35-37)

6.  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."   (Rom. 11:26-27)  It is important to note that the average Jewish mind interprets this as “converting to another anti-Jewish religion”.  This is blatantly not the case!  In the “end of days” everyone will know whether Jesus is or is not the Messiah and what His nature will be like.  If He is, indeed, the Messiah, belief in Him is fundamentally the most Jewish thing that anyone can do.  Furthermore, it is the object of this website to produce evidence that supports this notion.

7. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, " Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!                          (Rev. 15:3)