Posted in Musings

Our Stronghold Goes With Us: An Analogical Reflection of the Two Towers

Introduction…

Life is meant for reflection. Yes, I know it is meant for a lot of other things as well, but certainly reflection is a key component to living. Of course, the content of the reflection is of the utmost importance.

Take for example, the exercise of reading. An important, although admittedly, pastime sparingly tackled. Reading serves as a wonderful benefit to a person’s mind. Not just for entertainment purposes, but the instructive as well. And yet, it is an absurd notion indeed when a person suggests that reading alone is what is needed.

I remember seeing a flier for a public library’s reading program that stressed reading for the sake of reading. A similar assumption is touted in our society about education. Education is important. One must pursue a good, well-rounded education. Such lofty notions have an air of truth about them, but consideration must be given to the content, before one can claim its benefit.

If all I do is spend my time reading comic books or sultry romance novels, how beneficial is that to my day-to-day living. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good comic book, as well as a little romance without all the unnecessary seasoning (if you get my drift), but there are more important things in this life than imaginary superhero’s and yarns about maidens being rescued from dire circumstances.1 In the same vein, a well-rounded education serves the person who gets it, but getting a PhD in feminine studies in a patriarchal2 dominated society is truly of little value. Unless, of course, you want to understand femi-nazis3 at their finest. In that case, you don’t need a PhD from some Ivy League school; rather, a few late charges at the local library will suffice.

All of that to say, that I believe honest reflection about this world and the Maker who created it is of extreme importance to human beings. Of course all this talk about reflection means that I have reflected on something that I thought important enough to share with you, my audience. “What, is it,” you may wonder “have I been reflecting on of late?” A great number of things, truth be told, but only one of them shall I now share with you, my mildly interested reader.

The Depths of Tolkien…

I have noted in the past my love for the work of the late J. R. R. Tolkien. His literature is profoundly deep to those who want to ponder, but shallow enough that the young might find enjoyment. It is no secret that what spurred Mr. Tolkien on in his writing, was the immense trials he faced as a young man. He was a man of war. He was a man of great lose and sorrow. Yet, he was also a man of great love. Living in a world racked with war and death and suffering causes a man to think deeply about the nature of a great number of things in this life. Such tragedy gives you perspective. A knowing that enables you to love the things that need to be loved, to hate the things that need to be hated, and a content enjoyment of the temporary good one might experience in this life.

The Two Towers…

My thoughts this day drifted back to my reading of the Two Towers. This is the 2nd in a Tolkien’s treasured three-volume set. In this volume we see a great war looming on the horizon. The darkness from Mordor approaches and threatens to cover all Middle Earth in his shadow. The title of the book aptly envisions the conflict that the reader finds within the pages of this volume. The great tower of Sauron is in the south amassing its army of orcs and goblins. As the tower in the north governed by Saruman the White is, under the guise of good, is endeavoring to do the same. The goal of both Towers and their leaders is to crush the might of men. To rid the world of their stain and to have absolute dominion over all remaining creatures in Middle Earth. Separation and division are the key elements being used in order to defeat the hope of men. Gondor fears the might of the Tower in the South, and Rohan fears the power of the Tower in the North.

As the Scriptures say, “…a threefold cord is not quickly broken…[but] woe to him who is alone…” (Eccl 4.12, 10; respectively; ESV).

Theoden, king of Rohan is offered some sage advice from Gandalf the White to take his people to Helm’s Deep. A stronghold in the cleft of a mountain that has never been taken, never seen defeat. When Peter Jackson created his version of Tolkien’s world he seemed to focus on this battle more than the actual author of the book did. Some may disagree with Jackson’s approach, but I think it is appropriate since that battle is a pivotal point in Tolkien lore. If the nation of Rohan falls, then the war is lost; regardless of how mightily the men of Gondor answer the call of war.

Somewhat analogous…

I personally think that this particular event is somewhat analogous of our current cultural climate. Mankind has been given the earth to exercise godly dominion in the name (image) of God. But since the fall, sin and her minions have waged war against all manner of righteousness. Rather than justice and mercy and goodness and love of the Creator being imbued in all of creation, fallen men have sought to twist creation to image their wicked hearts. Rather than reflect the God who made them, mankind seeks to make a name for themselves: evil becomes good and good becomes evil.

The orcs and goblins and all other manner of dark creatures serve in Tolkien lore as the physical manifestation of the power of the Dark One (Morgoth) and his servant Sauron. Not being able to create, they corrupted what the Creator had made. And Sauron through the power of his one ring sought to bind all others to his will; which in truth was the will of his master.

Where the analogy serves today…

Both towers represent the powers or forces that be. They are both vile, although the one (the Tower in the North) has a veneer of goodness. Both nations of men Gondor and Rohan have been deceived in believing that their strongholds will preserve them and keep the hordes of evil at bay. Both strongholds have their place in the cleft of the Rock. The mountain serves as a refuge, a pillar of strength and a hope to withstand the onslaught against them. All of these images have their place in Scripture. God is our Rock, He is our mighty mountain, our place of refuge, our pillar of strength and hope to withstand the fiery arrows of our enemies.

But the question that needs to be asked, “Is the purpose of the stronghold to keep us locked away and safe from the onslaught of our enemies, or it is so that we might wage war in confidence against our foes?”

Christians in the West have decided it is the former rather than the latter. I am not making a hasty generalization here, for I am well-aware that there are those within our ranks still with the courage to fight, to exercise dominion in the name (image) of our God. But, this is not a majority position by “Evangelicals,” it is a minority one. If we were to describe our current generation we might think of the women and children, the old and decrepit who are hiding in the bowels of the mountain, rather than those willing to lift arms in this war.

One of the things that I find interesting about the battle at Helm’s Deep is the fragile nature of the soldiers hope. It takes the king of men (Aragorn) to strengthen their resolve. Like the deliverer’s in the book of Judges, he inspired the people, but that inspiration teetered on a very thin knife. For if he fell, then all hope would be lost.

Men are by nature cowardly, I think, unless they have someone strong to lean upon. I cannot help but think of how quickly we succumbed to the will of others in regards to COVID-19, the erroneous mask mandates, and now the push towards vaccination. Or what about the myth of transitioning? Or homosexual mirage? How quickly we give up our freedoms (and the truth) for the promise of safety!

Back to Helm’s Deep…

As the battle rages through the night the will of men is seen fading. Even Theoden, king of Rohan has all but declared defeat. The wall has been breached. Men and Elves have been forced back by the forces of darkness. Sorrow and hopelessness is spreading like cancer through the ranks. But, Aragorn remembering the words of Gandalf speaks to Theoden calling him to ride with him one last time. His words spark hope, for it is better to die fighting towards victory than to die wallowing in defeat, and they break through the gates and ride in the midst of orcs and goblins driving them back. And moments later, the promise of Gandalf rings true, for at dawns first light the Rohirrim (horse riders of Rohan; cavalry) charge down the mountainside towards the army of the Tower of the North in blinding glory. As the orcs and goblins flee, the trees led by Ents destroy them (a picture of the earth swallowing up the wicked who are unworthy to walk its soil).

Closing Remarks…

We are being herded. We are being forced upon. Those that fear the fight run to the stronghold, thinking, it is better for the rocks to fall upon them and hide them from their duty rather than wage war with the powers of darkness. Various excuses are given, none of which hold any weight. Yes, God is our stronghold, our Rock, our Refuge, our Strength, our Hope (cf. Psa 144.1-2). but we are commanded to “Go…” not to stay (cf. Matt 28.19). We are commanded to “Teach…” not to remain silent (Matt 28.20). We are commanded to “fight the good fight of the faith” not to cower in fear (1Tim 6.12). For we are to fear no one except God above (Isa 8.12-13; Matt 10.28). It is the forces of darkness imaged in fallen mankind that ought to fear us, for their gates cannot protect them from the truth of God’s Holy Word (Matt 16.18). Why? Because our Stronghold, our Rock, our Refuge, our Mighty Mountain of Strength and Hope goes with us wherever we may go. For it is He, through us, His humble servants, that He wages war against the strongholds of fallen mankind, destroying every vain argument they raise against His Truth (see Deut 3.22; Psa 44.3; 2Cor 10.4-5).

ENDNOTES:

1I should note that I don’t read romance novels. Not my cup to tea. However, if a novel of mine has some romance in it (as I said above without the spice), then I am fine with that (e.g., Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series; Richard and Kahlan). Chivalry is not, nor should it be, a dead thing.

2If the reader is curious, I believe in the patriarchy. Not the chauvinistic version of fallen man, but the type that clearly understands the differing roles that God has given men and women. I believe and affirm that God has created ONLY two genders (male and female) and it is the male counterpart that has the highest responsibility before God to lead well (i.e., properly imaging his Creator in the manner by which he thinks and acts).

3A term popularized by the late Rush Limbaugh.

Posted in Musings

A Cultural Mosh Pit of Christian Commitments: Where to Stand and with Who?

Call me naive but early on in my Christian walk I assumed some things about the faith that I’d thought were “a given.” Over ten years ago, I was running a job for a commercial heating and cooling company out of Columbus, Ohio. I heard a man singing a hymn, approached him, and tried to strike up a conversation with what I assumed was another believer. Instead, I ran into the “You don’t look like me, don’t think exactly like I do, and so, ‘you must not be a Christian.’” An altogether uncomfortable but necessary learning experience. Especially, given the current cultural mosh pit that we are living in.

In what follows you will find, I suppose further clarification of what I had written about in a previous post entitled, War and Violence, Peace and Unity: What Do These Four Terms Have to Do With the Christian Worldview?. Not a very well read piece. I suppose that it may have something to do with the title. Christians get uncomfortable using certain words to describe the Christian faith and gospel of Christ on which it revolves. Meaning that terms like “war,” and “violence,” seem antithetical to what many well-intentioned, but nonetheless uninformed members of the Evangelical community identify with as a spirit filled Christianity. It is also possible that wasn’t well-written, in that case I apologize for not being clearer.

Syncretism plagued Israel during Elijah’s day. It most certainly has a strong foothold on those that claim membership in the Christian family today. My concern is that we need to tread carefully as we walk out our faith, and yet at the same time stand steadfastly upon a fixed standard. And I should add we ought be very cautious that the standard upon which we are steadfastly standing is in fact one that is worthy of our undying commitment. I think that is where the guy I mentioned earlier stumbled a bit.

Objectivity NOT Quick Observations…

Christians ought to be unified on Truth. All this talk nowadays about being peaceful and unified, essentially ignoring all differences, is not the type of “oneness” that I am speaking about. Our judgment needs to be firmly grounded in biblical truth not outward appearances. The one is an objective standard that does not waver on the seas or winds of life. Whereas, the other is highly subjective, differing from one degree to the next.

To be crystal clear here, a true believer is not dependent on what they look like on the outside, but on the inside. Because we are severely limited in our view of our human counterparts, we tend to err when we seek to determine the status of a person’s relationship with God. Like Samuel we might think someone is an appropriate picture of the Christian faith (a genuine believer in God), but a deeper look at the heart (intellect, will, and character) would reveal something else entirely (cf. 1Sam 16.7). This is something that we are ill-equipped to do. Even judging the fruits of some, as Jesus says we ought to do, requires a longer look at someone’s life than many care to give (cf. Matt 12.33).1

Therefore, it is not skin color, tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, clothing, height, weight, class (i.e., rich or poor, popular or unpopular), or any other number of observations we may apply to this person or that person, this group or that group that determines the faith of another. What determines it is where they stand in regards to the Truth of God’s Word. You may look differently than me, but if you stand firm with Jesus Christ, then we are on the same side. We may fall on different spectrum of the same truth, but we are still called members of God’s family.2

Where you stand…

What does it mean to stand with Christ? How does one stand on the Truth of God’s Word? Can I truly be said to be united with Christ, and adherent of the Truth of God’s Word, if I give voice to those things that the Lord declares an abomination? If the Holy Spirit warns us against the types of unions we become involved in (cf. 2Cor 6.14-15), challenging us to think through our intimate associations (not limited to marital unions), then how can we give approval to blatant sins? We should not. We cannot. For to stand with Christ and His Word means that we must stand against all opposition to His Namesake:

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2Cor 10.5; ESV).

2Corinthians 10:5; ESV

However, in order to take such a stand, in order to attempt to bring all thoughts captive under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to stand on His Word. And how can we be considered wise in our standing, if we do not know the Rock upon which our feet ought to be firmly planted? Moreover, how do we prove that our feet are firmly planted on this Rock and not on shifting sand, if we refuse to submissively obey?

Exercises of Faith…

Faith is not a work of man, but it is a work of God’s grace! For faith that is without good works—acts of humble obedience to our Lord and Savior—is truly a false faith. Do you not know that it is what you do that reveals what you are?

  • How then can you say that the murdering of unborn infants in the womb is a right that needs to be afforded? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine when to end a life or when it was good to sanction its coming into the world?
  • How then can you say rather than focusing on the blood of Christ that redeems lost sinners from every tribe and nation and language upon this earth that we must maintain our outward distinctions? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine the worthiness of white vs. black?3
  • How then can you say that marriage is defined by cultural consensus (male and male, female and female), rather than by our Creator’s edict (male and female, woman for the man)? Or, that male and female is a distinction defined by feelings rather than God-given scientific, observable characteristics? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine what constitutes a good marriage and a genuine gender?
  • How can you say that governmental theft of personal property is a good thing as long as you or some other that you feel strongly about is the recipient of the funds? Who gave you sovereignty over the labors and wealth of your fellow man?

How can you call for peace and unity, when such things are at war with the one you profess as Lord and Savior? Who are you showing your faith in when you support things that violently oppose the Truth of God’s Word? If we are genuine in our faith, then our faith needs to be engaged at a level beyond the surface of our skin. Christians may not look alike in the immediate sense, but we ought to look alike from a distance.

ENDNOTES:

1To judge a fruit (a work) of another requires more than a quick fly-by, so to speak. Careful observation takes time. And so, in order to properly discern the type of fruit a man produces requires you be involved in their life for longer than a day. We all fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3.23). Thus, one day might bring some bad fruit on our trees that need repentance. A true believer will do this, but not so for those who offer a false profession of faith. It is the longevity of the tree and the overall fruit that it produces that provides a clearer picture of who we ought to mark as needing avoided.

2One biblical example given to us to help guide us through the quagmire of personal intuitiveness is Paul’s discussion on eating meat or vegetables in Romans 14. All food is declared good to eat, but we are to give some lead way with one another in our preferences of the types of food we will eat.

3Ray Sutton writes, “All racists are the same. They believe their race or even their nation is special because of its ethnic distinction…This inevitably leads to war, because impure races have to be destroyed. They are a threat to the pure race.” That You May Prosper: Dominion by Covenant (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 94, PDF e-book.

Posted in Musings

Hoaxy Rantus: A Bird’s Eye View of the COVID-2020 response…

COVID-19 IS A HOAX. No, the virus is real, but the response to it is so overblown that I am amazed at how many people keep believing the current narrative. Let’s look at the facts.

At the beginning of this pandemic we did not know a lot about this particular strain of Corona virus. And the initial reports coming out by the experts acknowledged that since this strain was new it had the real potential of sweeping through the world’s population. Various models were created which estimated huge loses if mitigation was not used, but even still the death numbers were said to be higher than anything we’d seen since, perhaps, the Spanish Flu (early 1900’s).

The media reported this information, some politicians, either because they saw an opportunity or because they were personally alarmed, started talking about possible limitations being placed on businesses and the people in general. Which in turn alarmed the rest of the population, specifically parents who had their children in the public school system. This had the negative effect of certain governor’s calling for school closures. Driving the mindset of many further down the panic hole. And so, it was then recommended that we shut down (temporarily) our coming and going. Businesses that weren’t deemed essential where closed (again, temporarily), and travel was strongly discouraged and in some locals restricted.

A few words before I continue…

I have some thoughts on the media and the politicians at this point. Some observations that I have noticed for a while now, but those observations were highlighted with a BOLD YELLOW highlighter at the beginning of this pandemic. I suppose it would be germane to the conversation to add the experts into this little ball as well (those scientists, medical professionals and statisticians). They are gossiping busybodies. The media, before all the pertinent information comes in, breaks their neck to tell you what is going on in the world. They don’t actually know, but they think it is a strong possibility, and they blurt it out blathering about this or about that like a young journalist writing an op-ed piece for STAR magazine. Politicians are no better. Most of them anyway. For they are seen doing the very same thing. They run off the media’s reporting, when all the facts are yet to come in, and they lean on the experts who are just as much in the dark as the rest of the populace. But they can’t admit that they don’t know. No, no that would make them look incompetent or something. This becomes abundantly clearer when we see that once they make a mistake, or they draw a wrong conclusion, they refuse to announce it. Instead, after sweeping it under the rug, they buckle down and keep driving through the mess, acting all the while that someone else is responsible for spilling the drink.

Back to the COVID-19 response Timeline…

So, once everyone is worked up into a frenzy we hear about the brilliant plan to “Flatten-the-curve.” That will solve the current dilemma that we are facing. Or, so we are told. The goal of this objective is to lighten the load on our healthcare workers. Restrictions are put in place on businesses and common folk. At this time people start asking questions about PPE (personal protective equipment). Again, a media driven narrative. (Amazing how we are incapable of thinking on our own unless some other above us does it for us!)

The response is initially unanimous, “Masks don’t offer much protection.” Just keep your distance from another (the magic 6-foot of social distancing), wash your hands regularly, and if you’re feeling unwell…stay away from others. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Burke, the CDC and the WHO, along with the Surgeon General all agreed that wearing a mask might make the wearer feel safe (a false sense of protection/security), but would do little to stop the spread of the virus.

Remember, that at the beginning of this thing we were told that everyone was going to get it. It was a new strain of a familiar virus (yes, that is correct the Corona virus family has been around for a long, long time. Check your Lysol bottle. Not to mention that this family of virus’ is the reason why some get the common cold, or the seasonal flu—not stomach virus).

Back to the goal…

So, after a 4-week (some places 6 weeks, I think) shut down, states started preparing to reopen closed businesses. By this time the economy was in a slump. Many small businesses couldn’t handle the heavy load of being closed that long, and had to close their doors permanently. Those that had survived faced the unfortunate reality of additional “guidelines” that needed to be put in place in order to reopen “safely.” Places needed to be marked on the floor to demonstrate to the public what 6-feet looked like. Limitations were placed on the number of occupants allowed in the building at a given time (arbitrarily set by different places, even when the space was virtually identical from one place to another). All the sudden, about mid-summer masks became a necessity. No new evidence was produced that proved their efficacy, but as a supposed safeguard to slow-the-spread, more and more politicians and health departments started putting their voices behind enforcing them.

Changing Goal Post’s throughout…

What I find absolutely amazing is that during this whole venture (a nightmare in many respects) is the way that the goal posts kept getting further and further in the distance. Like the rainbow that you may have chased when you were a kid, no matter how close you get to it, the farther it is from your reach. Incapable of closing the gap, you eventually give up the pursuit.

Every other week the narrative continued to change and adapt (in a negative way) as more and more information came out about this novel virus. First it was to keep massive death from happening on American soil (an estimated 2.2 million by the modeling experts). Then it was to limit the stress put on the medical field. Extra facilities were built that were largely used. Limitations were put on the services that medical practitioners could provide. Surgeries and various other medical treatments were suspended in order to keep rooms open for the mass influx of COVID patients about to plague communities. Ventilators were created in mass quantities in order to help those in dire need. Outdoor COVID tents and testers were fixed outside of hospitals. If you need to visit a sick or ailing family member at this time you were denied access. Many people were separated from one another at a time when we need others close to us.

Why? To keep others safe. To keep down the spread. To protect the vulnerable. All noble sounding sentiments, but were they justified?

As the death rates continued to drop nation wide, the media and politicians shifted their narrative once again. Now it is a high case load that we are to be concerned about. Bear in mind that conservative numbers have the survival rate if one gets this virus anywhere from 99.2-99.9%. Even the weak and vulnerable among us have over a 99% survival rate if they contract the virus. This makes the virus no more deadly than the common flu. Which oddly enough, if you pay attention to the current tracking of influenza this year you will notice it is down considerably even though we are now in the upswing of when that type of ailment begins hitting the population.

We have went from avoiding mass death, to avoiding bogging down the medical field, to reducing the number of positive cases being recorded. The numbers we are seeing in state and national totals are cumulative. This means that the “numbers” are being vastly exaggerated. Not to mention a high false positive rate. An inability to delineate between one corona virus strain from another. And, let us not forget the lie that asymptomatic people may be one of the worst culprits in spreading the disease.

A little thoughts on being asymptomatic…

Asymptomatic means “no symptoms.” Normally this means you are not ill. Every time your body comes into contact with a pathogen (bacteria or virus) your immune system identifies (more than likely) that a foreign entity has trespassed. And like Klingon’s in the neutral zone your body goes into warp speed to attack the invader. Pathogens that present no real threat are quickly done away with. This is the result of a strong immune system. We do not identify that type of person as clinically sick. Sick people present symptoms because their body is having a hard time fighting off the invader. When a person gets the flu this will result in a variety of symptoms such as loss of taste, stuffed nose, high fever, muscle and joint pain (aches), sore throat and possible cough. Not all symptoms are always present, but some form of symptom is present when a person is clinically sick (infected).

There has been much talk about a vaccine. Vaccines are wonderful innovations that help our body’s fight off foreign invaders. The Small Pox vaccine for example was not small miracle. Vaccinated persons, when the vaccine has worked in helping the human body build up its immune system against a particular invader, are asymptomatic people. Why? Because their immune systems have been trained to fight, and since the fight is easy, there are no symptoms. Such people are identified as clinically healthy.

I’m sure I’ve oversimplified some things. I’m not a medical doctor. But, I do know how to read (a particular past time that I do quiet regularly, with much joy I might add).

Current Scenarios…

Here are some notable facts. (1) We are testing more now than ever. More testing means more positive cases being identified. (Think of shining a light in a cockroach invested structure. You don’t seem them when the lights off, but when you turn the light on you see them running in all directions). Testing for Corona virus means that we are shining the light on a particular pathogen.

(2) A positive test is NOT a clinical infection. Many people who are tested positive have no symptoms. They feel fine. This has been reported, but ignored. If a person is not symptomatic, then they are NOT coughing or sneezing or wiping their nose before they touch something. There has been no link scientifically that an asymptomatic person can spread anything.

(3) “What if?” scenario’s are a dime-a-dozen. They are fine when one can identify direct cause and effect, when a correlation between one activity or another can be demonstrated, but they are utterly pointless when those factors cannot be established. Jesus provides a “What if” scenario to those who would be His disciples: “If you love me, then you will keep my commands” (John 14.15). The condition “love” is met when a true disciple is obedient to Christ’s Law-Word. If the person in question is one who “lives” in sin (i.e., lawlessness, disobedience), then they are not a disciple of Christ. Saying “what if an asymptomatic person can spread an illness?” is a baseless hypothetical situation. No evidence exists to verify whether or not the question is valid. They may, they may not, but we don’t live our day-to-day life in this fashion. “What if I get in car crash today?” is a question we may toss around in our mind, but we still drive our car. Unless we are agoraphobic.

(4) We are giving up our freedoms for the false promise of safety. We are allowing fear (in all its various forms, no doubt different in a case-by-case assessment) to dominate our action. We are paralyzed, and the powers that be are stripping you bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece of your constitutional rights. Ohio has a curfew from 10p.m. to 5a.m., why? You can take your mask off when you eat and drink, but not when your not doing those things. There is a limitation placed on who may be served. This is true in restaurants, or other business establishments. But the Airlines do not (or at least did not when I flew this summer) have such restrictions. The plane is full, and you are told that you must wear a mask, but you can take it off if you are eating or drinking. Do you stop breathing when you do either one of those activities? No. But I thought asymptomatic people can spread the virus? I though 6-feet of social distancing is what protected you? None of which mean a hill of beans when you are in a giant aluminum tube 30,000 plus feet in the atmosphere, sharing the same recycled air with everyone else. If you can smell a fart, then you are breathing in the vapors of others around you.

Also, you evidently can’t dance or stand, unless you are at Biden-Harris celebration rally. You can stand as they officiate the wedding in Ohio, but you must sit down when its time to eat in celebration of the Bride and Groom. What is scary…and this is the last thing I will say, since this has turned into a bit of an unending rant (I could go on…), is that they’ve went from telling us what we can do at our place of business, in the public arena, but now they are gunning for what you do in your homes. They have so narrowed the scope of their focus, that now how you live in your own house has—in their eyes—fallen into their domain of power.

When will the American people say “Enough is enough!”? (Some are already doing this). When will we see a unified effort of civil disobedience, peacefully demonstrated with great conviction? (Again, pockets of resistance are forming). Or will we continue to allow our freedoms to be stripped for the false promise of being “safe?”

Posted in Biblical Questions, Musings

Time to Kill a Snake: How Adam Should have dealt with the Serpent

A Little Dialogue Regarding a Nasty Snake

One of my favorite portions of the Bible surrounds creation week (Gen 1-3). Even when that is not a primary text that I have been studying, I will find my thoughts drifting back to the beginning of all things. I suppose I must give some credit to Answers in Genesis’ Ken Ham for the way his ministry has helped shape my own since the summer of 2005. I should also add that the work of Cornelius Van Til and his excellent pupil Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen has also added to my understanding of just how important the phrase “in the image of God” (Gen 1.26, 28) truly is.

God made mankind (male and female; a biological state that cannot be altered or maligned post conception) as the primary recipients of His grace. Yes, this was before the fall and all the nasty consequences of that event (Gen 3); things that we see evidence of all around us, as well as, what we must wrestle with in our inner being (post-salvation in Jesus Christ; cf. Rom 7.21-25) as we seek to live by the Spirit of God (Gal 5.16-17).

It is along this particular vein of thought that I would like to share—in writing—some of my musings over the past couple of weeks. No, no I’m not speaking about election results, questions of fraud, and the great push we are experiencing by the Media, Tech Companies, and those other elites that plague our society (well, not directly anyway). What I want to talk about is the Serpent in the garden and Adam’s lackluster response to it.

Where was Adam?…

Often I have encountered the curious student asking, “Where was Adam at when the Serpent was questioning his wife? Why wasn’t he near her? If he was near her why didn’t he speak up?” Well, the thing is Adam was with his wife when the Serpent questioned her as may be seen in Gen 3:6.

“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her and he ate” (NASB; emphasis added).

The dialogue…

Adam and Eve were in the garden minding their own business when a Serpent came over for a conversation. Acting, oh so innocent, the Serpent seemingly starts up a conversation with the woman. He says to her, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Gen 3.1b). The woman replies ever so politely to this “beast of the field” (Gen 3.1a) “No, no that’s not quite right. You see the Lord only applied a restriction to one tree; the tree in the middle of the garden.” That’s a paraphrase of the text. The verse more accurately reads like so,

“From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (Gen 3.2-3).

Some make a big deal about how she depicts her husband Adam’s words here, but since we weren’t there for the conversation it is likely that is how they understood God’s prohibition. For there is no question that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was off limits to our foreparents (cf. Gen 2.16-17). To not “touch it” seems a foregone conclusion. Why play with something you can’t have?

The Serpent quickly replies to Eve, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3.4-5). What is the Serpent saying here? (Understanding this will aid the reader in understanding my position about to be given).

First, the Serpent is saying, “God is lying.” Ironic really when you think about it for it is the Serpent who is sharing misinformation here, not the Lord God. But here we are reading about the Serpent saying that what God said was not right at all.

Second, the Serpent promises that the opposite will happen. To eat that fruit is not death but life. Moreover, if the fruit is eaten, then the eater will become like the Creator knowing (i.e., determining) good and evil.

And so, in verse 6 we are introduced to the thought process of the woman. In an attempt to ascertain the truth for herself she investigates more closely the fruit on the tree in the middle of the garden. She sees that like the other trees in the garden (which she is allowed to eat; see Gen 2.16) this tree is “pleasing to the sight and good for food” (Gen 3.6a; compare with Gen 2.9), and as an added bonus this one carries the possibility of “mak[ing] one wise.”

At this point we are told that she and her husband (with her) ate from the forbidden tree. The question is “Why?” Not why did they eat from that which God said, “NO!” But, why did Adam stand around playing with a blade of grass as his wife carried this conversation on with the Serpent? Why did he allow her to entertain the possibility that what their Creator had spoken was inaccurate, but what the Serpent was saying might have a kernel of truth?

“Well, what else could he have done,” you ask? I don’t know…KILL IT! He could have torn a branch off a nearby tree and started beating it to death! “But…but killing is wrong,” you say. “Taking the life of another one of God’s creatures is never permissible!” you incredulously exclaim.

A Brief Word Study…

Why was Adam in the garden? What was his purpose for being there? What are we told earlier in the text that helps shed light on this issue?

“The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed…Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen 2.8, 15).

Adam’s purpose in the garden was 1) “to cultivate it,” and 2) “[to] keep it.” Okay, what does that mean? John H. Sailhamer points out some of the faults with English Versions of the Bible when translating from the original Hebrew is that the text reads this way, rather than “to worship and to obey.”1 He notes that given the context following v. 15, in vv.16-17, this prohibition regarding the Tree of Knowledge’s fruit makes more sense, while also removing some of the exegetical difficulties that some readers face.2

Looking a little closer at the original Hebrew we find that “cultivate” (abad) shares “several Semitic roots, e.g. the old Aramaic root which means ‘to do or make,’ and Arabic root meaning ‘to worship, obey’ (God) and its intensive stem meaning ‘to enslave, reduce to servitude.’ This service may be directed toward things, people, or God.”3 When we get to the Hebrew term for “keep” (shamar) we find that it carries various connotations that stress: to keep, to guard, keep watch and ward, protect, to act as a watchman, or to save one’s life.4

Adam’s Purpose…

So, what do we learn after this brief word study? That God had placed the man in the garden for a specific purpose and it wasn’t picking weeds. He was expected to exercise godly dominion (Gen 1.26, 28) by serving the Lord in his day to day activity and this means Adam was required to listen (obey) God’s word. He was responsible not only for his own personal self-government, but also in leading his wife in the way of truth. Keeping guard over what the Lord had given him.

Did he do that? No. Rather than listen to God’s voice, His creator, he listened to the creatures voice (Gen 3.17); which, was by extension the voice of the Serpent.

Time to Kill a Snake: Why?

“Okay, but why do you say he should have killed the Serpent. I get what your saying up to that point, but killing anything seems to be a violation of God’s Holy Word.”

Here’s my response: As the writer of Ecclesiastes pointed out,

“There is an appointed time for everything, and there is a time for every event under heaven…a time to kill and a time to heal…a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace” (Eccl 3.1, 3a, 8).

Do you not know that God praised the action of running an Israelite man and Midianite woman through with a javelin in the middle of their copulating (cf. Numb 25.1-8)?

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Phineas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My Jealousy” (Numb 25.10-11).

Quick history lesson…

Phineas was blessed by the Lord for his faithfulness, and his family inherited that blessing (Numb 25.12-13). What blessing might Adam and his offspring have experienced if he had walked in a similar fashion to Phineas? What might the Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, said to His creature if he had been as jealous for the Lord’s glory?

Adam should have run the Serpent through in the garden. He should have stood for the Lord, for his wife and his children. Either way death was going to enter in through the test in the garden. Unfortunately, for us the death that entered was the curse of sin (separation from a right relationship with our Creator), rather than its destruction (i.e., killing of the Serpent).

A Reminder for us all…

Thankfully, that was not the end of the story. Christ Jesus the one who refused to compromise (think in the wilderness, Matt 4.1-11; in the garden, Luke 23.39-46; before the cross (John 19. ). We are called to do the same. There is no room for compromise. That is where Adam and Eve failed. She compromised with the Serpent over the knowledge that she had received from God via her husband (helpmate). He compromised with his wife over the truth he had been told by God. And we are guilty of how many more in our lives?

Let us put to death sin in our lives. Let us put to death false notions of goodness and righteousness that have an appearance of holiness, of goodness, of love, but are false standards established by wrongheaded people. Let us put to death compromising our faith in favor of false peace. That last one is ripe with meaning in our day and age, but if we know our history this is not the first time when we have been promised false peace, safety and security at the hands of sinful people. Better to trust in the Word of the Lord, than the word of men (perhaps a not so indirect reference to our current sociopolitical climate here in the United States).

ENDNOTES:

1John H. Sailhamer, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Vol. 2, Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1990), 45.

2Compare the reading of Gen 2:16-17 with the later promise given in Deut 30:15-16:

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.”

And Deut 30:19-20:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live….”

3James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995), sv. Abad (cultivate or serve), Logos 8 Bible software. Stephen D. Renn writes “abad is a common verb found about three hundred times with the predominant sense of ‘serve,’ but it occasionally indicates the associated meaning ‘worship.’” Stephen D. Renn, ed., Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 1066-1067.

4F. Brown, S. Driver and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Reprint 1906 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 1036, sv. Shamar (keep). Stephen D. Renn writes, “This common verb form occurs around five hundred times and is translated ‘keep,’ ‘guard,’ ‘protect,’ as well as a number of related meanings. In about twenty places, however, shamar is used nominally to indicate a ‘keeper,’ ‘guard,’ or ‘protector.”” Notably, Renn adds that this Hebrew verb “also has the sense of ‘obey,’ primarily with reference to keeping God’s law and statutes.” Renn, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, 553, 549 respectively.

Posted in Musings

Musings on the Subject of Theft

I think most people will grant that theft is wrong. If I steal from another, if I rob a store, or my next door neighbor down the street, then the average person will quickly point out that such activity is wrong, shouldn’t be done, and ought to be punished when brought to light. Theft, for the majority of persons on this planet is morally reprehensible.

Situational Ethics…

But what about the situation where the theft occurs? Are there factors that may have a positive or negative effect on the action of the individual or group? In other words, does the circumstance surrounding the situation where theft occurs make it an act of goodness in some cases, but one of evil in others? Can theft be morally acceptable given the proper context?

One way that theft is made to look appealing is through the following popular argument. The argument falls under the subcategory of situational ethics. “What if a man stole a loaf of bread to feed his family?” A similar argument was used this summer to justify the looting during some of our domestic terrorist groups rioting—ur um…peaceful protests! The discussion by some at the political level regarding reparations would also fall into this niche.

In Light of a Biblical Worldview…

During a family home Bible study, our children asked a plethora of questions pertaining to current events and just life in general. At one point one of my teenage boys tried to stump me, but when I cited a text of Scripture that spoke on the issue he had raised, he said somewhat jokingly, “Oh my…I guess the Bible has an answer for everything!”

Yes, the Bible does. It wouldn’t be much of a book at all if it failed to give a full-orbed world and life view. If the Christian faith, which is based upon biblical revelation, were not an all encompassing, every aspect of life is to be weighed by it, type of faith, then it wouldn’t be much of a faith at all. But all of Scripture is God-breathed, and therefore useful (and necessary) for interpreting, knowing, and correcting all of life so that each person who is called of God might be fully equipped to live as a proper image bearer in this world.

Returning the Situational Argument

And so, we return back to the question of theft. Most know and acknowledge that theft is wrong; especially, when they are the one being robbed. But for some, a way is sought around this truth by pulling out of their hat an appeal to pity. The argument of the loaf stealing innocent tries to impress the listener with the idea that we ought to have pity on them. That this “gray” area should remove from it the penalty required for such criminal activity. But what does the Word of God say on this issue?

Insight from the Book of Proverbs:

Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; but when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house” (Prov 6.30-31; NASB).

This little text is crouched in the middle of a warning against adultery. To sleep with another’s spouse is to commit an act of theft. She is not your bride and so, my son, you would do well to guard your steps by the light of God’s Law (Prov 6.23), rather than walk along a path destined for doom (Prov 6.27-29).

The idea in verses 30-31 is to point out that though stealing of all sorts is wrong, as people, we have a little more understanding when someone does it out of a perceived need. A jealous husband, though, the father warns, will not be so lenient (Prov 6.34). He will repay (Prov 6.35).

Offering a Contrast…

This set of verses (30-31) offers a contrast between the opinions of men on a given situation. What they do not teach is that it is okay to steal, if you are stealing to satisfy your grumbling belly or if you are doing it for a loved one. Better to beg, to beseech or to work on an empty belly in the hope of wages in order to purchase your own food, than to steal. For if the thief is caught, he is still held accountable to the law of God. An objective standard still exists and it does so for good reason.

A quick glimpse at the meaning…

The meaning of “sevenfold” or “the substance of his house” means to convey the perfect penalty under the law. The crime will be met with a complete sentence of retribution. The thief will have to pay back at least two-fold what was taken as the law requires (Exod 22.4, 7, 9). And if he is unable to do that because he is truly poor, then he will have to sell himself into servitude in order to pay off the debt that is owed for stealing from his neighbor (Exod 22.3).

Current cultural insights weighed…

Our current culture believes that all sorts of theft is not only allowable, but also justified. Looting during “peace protests” is one such example. Our current attitude towards taxing the rich is another. Forcing generations far removed from the sins of the past to pay reparations for how one sector of our society was mistreated is another. All are different forms of the same thing: theft. Not one is justified. Not one is good. And not one should be held in high esteem. They should all be vilified, shouted down, and firmly stood against. The situation or the circumstance does not legitimize these criminal acts.

And being an election year…who you vote for will determine whether or not such things are not only propagated but enforced. Therefore, say NO to the party of the Donkey. Say NO to Biden and Harris.