Isaiah 11:1 “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
The book of Isaiah, filled with messianic promises, contains this seedling of hope planted at the beginning of chapter 11—a shoot will come from the stump of Jesse.
This promise is a surprising twist on an old metaphor. When Isaiah was writing, Israel was on the brink of ruin. At one time she was a faithful vineyard, and now she is will be a barren waste-land. If she was a tree, her tree is now cut down by an ax (Isaiah 10:34). Or to borrow a turn of phrase from the New Testament, her branches are broken off (Romans 11:17-20).
Now if the branches are broken and the tree is felled, the last thing one would expect to find growing out of the stump is fruit. Fruit! Out of the stump of a cut down and stripped bare tree!
But of course, the God who is able to open the barren womb is able to give both life to a stump. If he can speak the first trees into existence on day three, he can cause fruit to grow out of the ground.
For this reason, the promise of a fruitful stump is the second-most surprising aspect of this verse.
What really stands out is Jesse. In the Bible, nobody has talked about Jesse since David’s death. In fact, outside of Isaiah 11, “Jesse” is never used in a messianic context. The Old Testament teaches that the Savior will come from Israel, Bethlehem, and Nazareth. There are ample prophesies of him being David’s Son and David’s Lord. But Isaiah 11 is alone in connecting the Savior to Jesse.
Why does Isaiah call us back to Jesse instead of David? He has at least three motivations: genealogical, improbable, and regal reasons:
Genealogical: Isaiah uses “Jesse” to make it clear that the Messiah will not be David, but come from David. The Savior will have the right to rule because he will be God in human flesh—in other words, he will be hard to miss. But at the same time, he will be able to verify his identity. Like David, he too will descend from Jesse. By saying that the will come from Jesse, the reader knows that in addition to Jesus’ heavenly begotteness, his earthly begotteness matters as well.
In other words, this sets us up for Matthew 1. It lets us know that physical ancestry to David matters.
Improbable: By name-dropping Jesse, Isaiah takes us back to the Valley of Elah. Israel’s enemies were everywhere, and their “king” was powerless to fight Goliath. Saul’s courage didn’t match his armor, Israel was as good as defeated.
And so it will be at Jesus’s second coming. Isaiah 11 is clearly pointing forward, to the second Advent of Jesus (see vss. 6-9 for example). In those future days, Israel will be broken and her enemies will be invading from all sides (Zechariah 9-12). But when all seems lost, God will turn to the same well from which he drew David the first time. Jesus, the true Son of David, will arrive in Israel, give them victory, establish his kingdom (see Isaiah 11:10!). By taking us back to Jesse, Isaiah reminds us that God can use improbable people for his improbable victories.
Regal: Despite being rejected by Israel, Jesus is the true king of Israel. Even though Israel is be broken off and seemingly abandoned by God, He still has a king for them. Even if the anti-Christ is reigning in Jerusalem, that does not make him the rightful king; consider: when Saul was on the throne, was the true king not out there, with the sheep? So it will be again.
This Christmas, rejoice in the Lord’s promises—celebrate how precisely he fulfilled them at his first coming, and then look forward to his second. And turn to Isaiah 1, and remember why it matters that the fruit will come from the stump of Jesse.
By Elizabeth Prata
This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His attributes & earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him through what He does, as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer. Now we look at who He is by looking at His attribute of omniscience yesterday and today we ponder His authority.
How to represent the authority of Jesus over life, in pictorial form? That was a tough one. I settled on the notion of the dock being the long journey of finite earthly life in the flesh, then we come to an inevitable end and launch up and into the eternal heavens. Jesus has authority over every step.
Ligonier Devotional: The Authority of Jesus
Thirty Days of Jesus Series-
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Sixty-five percent Americans want the Christmas season to be more about Jesus, according to a recent Lifeway research poll. The survey featured more than 1,000 Americans from all different religions and backgrounds. Jesus is – and has always been – the reason that we celebrate this time of the year, so Christians should be encouraged to see that two-thirds of Americans still want Christmas to be about more than Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty.
However, the 2018 study also shows that more people do not know if Christmas should be about Jesus than in 2014. Another 19 percent of respondents said that Christmas does not need to be about Jesus at all. This should be a call to action for Christians to reach unbelievers with the love of Jesus Christ. Romans Chapter 10 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Needing Jesus is nothing new. He knows that we are helpless without his redemption and love. Jesus himself says in John 6, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.” We need the eternal food that Christ offers. Christians are called to love and serve one another so that Christ’s name is proclaimed throughout the world. We must share the gospel this Christmas season to reveal the hope of Christ to all of those who do not know what Christmas is truly about.
This research exposes our society’s longing for the joy of Christ. Over the years, Americans have increasingly made the holidays about material things –how much we can give and receive. Our commercialized culture has overtaken the real reason that we give gifts and celebrate this season!
Jesus says in Matthew 6, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” American society today has chosen to love money –a treacherous master that leaves all who trust its promises unsatisfied. Spending money during the holidays is not a bad thing, but it becomes harmful when we forget to pray and remember the gifts the Lord has already provided. Are we walking with Jesus and seeking Him this Christmas or focused on how much we are spending and buying?
Money and material wealth cannot satisfy our souls or replace our need for God. This Christmas, for our own sake, for the sake of those who do not know Jesus, and for the glory of the Lord, we must remember to refocus our love on Christ. Jesus is the entire reason that we celebrate. Living a life that is centered on the goodness and glory of God will make Christmas full of the true joy that only comes from knowing Jesus.
Author and Baptist Pastor John Piper says, “There’s the simple, short, spectacular exultation of 2 Corinthians 9:15: ‘Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!’ The very essence of Christmas includes a divine overflow of generosity, kindness, grace, giving — doing for us, giving to us, what we could never do for ourselves or get on our own. The ultimate gift is God. God gives God.” He emphasizes the beauty in gifts and in celebrating the Christmas season because we remember what God has done for us by coming down to earth. Christians get to re-gift this good news to others because Jesus first gave his life for us.
Here at IRD, we pray for the increasing numbers of Americans who dismiss the importance of Jesus’ birth. We pray also for those who continue to believe in the true reason for Christmas. There can be a redemption of the Christmas spirit if we remember our savior who was born so that we could know the love of God. He has given us the greatest gift of grace and eternal life.
This is the hope of Christmas, that all will know Jesus and find their life and joy in him.
The attacks on the holidays are just the tip of the iceberg.
Columbus Day has been attacked every year because Christopher Columbussupposedly personally carried out genocide, a complete fabrication by Marxists who are famous in falsifying history for ideological purposes. For those students who are not obsessed with Columbus’ “crimes,” their ignorance of his achievement is cringeworthy. While Indigenous Peoples Day started innocently enough in 1989, leftists now want to put it in place of Columbus Day, thereby tarnishing both holidays.
Halloween is becoming less and less fun as liberals either cry out, “Cultural appropriation!” or claim that certain ethnic costumes (Polynesian, Mexican, Arabic, Oriental, etc.) will put someone in a coma. For some unstated reason even the name “Halloween” is objected to in favor of … “Orange and Black Day” (doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, now does it?).
Valentine’s Day is under attack in India and in Muslim countries and here as wellfrom liberals. Campus Reform had a mock petition for outlawing Valentine’s Day which the mindless cattle, that is, the college students, signed. Jamie Glazovgives a detailed analysis of the parallels between the pathological hatred of Muslims and leftists for Valentine’s Day, a day of love.
And, in the case of Christmas, their focus has been on removing the fact that it is a birthday celebration for Christ, hence Christmas, hence “Christmas tree” — which they have tried to rename as “Holidays tree.” Some places have banned Christmas decorations altogether. Some ads have even removed all presence of Christianity from Christmas to the point of including Muslims. This way, they are being “inclusive” — except for excluding Christians. The war on Christmas is not being undertaken in isolation.
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s now Thanksgiving Day’s turn. Yep. Nothing is sacred to liberals. Even some leftist Jews have attacked it — when not glamorizing Jewish holidays. With their odious, joyless outlook, leftists have targeted a beloved holiday when family members travel to gather and be with one another, a day to take stock and be thankful for what you have, a day to commemorate the peaceful friendship between Pilgrims and Indians. The fact that both Christmas and Thanksgiving have a religious overtone makes them even a bigger target for leftists. Some have used their hatred of Trump to attack the White House Christmas decorations.
At least PETA put a smile on our faces by wanting to erect a memorial to the turkeys that died in an Iowa traffic accident.
The truth of the matter is that leftists do not really hate Halloween, or Columbus Day, or Thanksgiving Day per se. The attacks on the holidays are just the tip of the iceberg. Saturated with hatred, deep down their real hate is for the country, the society that they live in; the holidays and the anthem are just simply manifestations of America (or Canada). They are addicted — yes addicted — to hate. That is one of the characteristics of a liberal personality.
Recently, former first lady Michelle Obama closed out her money-grabbing “
After being introduced by an anorexic Sarah Jessica “Sex in the City” Parker, Michelle emerged from candy-pink curtains donned with what had to be 100 yards of blinding yellow tie-waist satin. Then, before sitting down, the towering former FLOTUS applauded herself Hillary-style and feigned humility by crossing her arms across her chest, appearing shocked that so many dupes were willing to pay
Quite frankly, when Michelle walked onto the Barclay stage, “
To make matters worse, complimenting Obama’s yellow ensemble were thigh-high, gold-sequined twinkly boots that resembled footwear Elton John, in his heyday, would have been pleased to wear.
Kaitlyn Frey of
Speaking of first ladies, while the left-wing media salivates all over Michelle’s clown outfit, our
Then there’s the whole $4K boot thing, which is surreal because it was Michelle Obama who continually
Now, it seems that the “someone else” who “has more”…is none other than Michelle. And not for nothin’, as they say in Fort Green, Brooklyn – judging from the number of gold sequins covering her ample thighs, those Balenciaga boots have a whole lot of pastry packed into them.
Trust me, at $2,000 per kick, one boot could supply mucho pie to people both Shelley and her social justice warrior husband Barry continue to claim the rest of us
Four-thousand-dollar boots aside, Mrs. Obama has spent most of her adult life
Excuse me, but Michelle is defending personal hypocrisy by citing freedom as an excuse for self-indulgent excess?
Wasn’t it Mrs. Obama who suggested that in America, a black woman could never be truly “free to do whatever”? And isn’t it Michelle and her husband Barack who continue to make it their life’s mission to curtail, regardless of race, the freedom of others by imposing diktats on everyone but themselves?
As for the book that’s making her richer, after reading Mrs. Obama’s excruciating
Nonetheless, and notwithstanding Barry’s
Finally, with the book tour out of the way, for the holidays, Michelle can hang up her Balenciagas,
Jeannie hosts a blog at
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.
— Read on www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/12/michelle_obamas_horrifying_4000_balenciaga_boots.html
5–6 Several specific instructions comprise this general admonition to be faithful. The first is to trust in the Lord and not in oneself, because he grants success. In other words, the teaching is valid because God will bless it. Bāṭaḥ (“trust”; GK 1053) carries the force of relying on someone for security; the confidence is to be in the Lord and not in human understanding. Here the object of faith is what the Lord has said through the wise teaching of the father. The call is for a trust characterized by total commitment—“with all your heart,” “in all your ways.” Bînâ (“understanding”) is now cast in a sinful mode (cf. 1:2, 6), so there is to be a difference between the bînâ that wisdom brings and the natural bînâ that undermines faith.
The traditional rendering “acknowledge him” (v. 6) needs to be refined, for the expression suggests “confess him.” But the verb is “know him,” and it reflects the intimate experience of a personal relationship. The sequence of the lines may also suggest their communication of a promise: by trusting him fully you will know him. What these beautiful expressions call for is “absolute obedience and surrender in every realm of life” (Fritsch, IB, 4:799). When obedient faith is present, the Lord will guide the believer along life’s paths in spite of difficulties and hindrances. The idea of “straight” contrasts to the crooked and perverse ways of the wicked.
Trust in the Lord (vv. 5–6)
Trust God entirely, ‘with all your heart’ (v. 5a). God demands an undivided commitment to himself. Too often Israel had a loyalty divided between the Lord and the false gods of the nations. We can be tempted to trust the wisdom of the world rather than rely upon divine revelation. The psalmist says, ‘I hate those who are double-minded’ (Ps. 119:113). Jesus said, ‘No one can serve two masters’ (Matt. 6:24a), and he taught that the greatest commandment is to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30).
Trust God exclusively, and ‘do not lean on your own understanding’ (v. 5b). By nature we are inclined to foolishly rely upon our own inclinations and desires: ‘All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way’ (Isa. 53:6). Many people make crucial life decisions in areas such as marriage, finances, and vocation not based upon God’s revealed Word but their feelings. Proverbs tells us that our feelings are unreliable: ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (14:12); ‘he who trusts in his own heart is a fool’ (28:26a). A man may feel that he would be happier if he were to divorce his wife. A mother may not feel like using the rod of discipline on her children. In their quest to grow, churches may be tempted to resort to worldly methodologies that compromise biblical principles. The wise man does not lean on his own understanding but trusts that God’s way is best. The one who chooses his own way arrogantly claims that he knows better than God.
Proverbs also warns us against being improperly influenced by other people: ‘The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted’ (29:25). We must evaluate the counsel and influence of friends, family members, and worldly experts against the Word of God, and we must have the courage to risk their disapproval when Scripture directs us otherwise. The command to trust God also brings to mind the way of salvation. Conversion takes place when we repent of trusting in our own goodness and wisdom and put our faith in what God has done for us in Christ (Eph. 2:8–9).
Trust God extensively: ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him’ (v. 6a). We are not merely to acknowledge God’s lordship over our religious life; we are to bring God’s truth to bear on every aspect of life. We trust him in how we run our families, our education, our careers, our finances, and our friendships. He is Lord of all! Abraham Kuyper said, ‘In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, “That is mine!” ’ The wise person is characterized by continuous contemplation of God and a ready observance of his will, not only in the great issues of life but also in day-to-day routine. No matter is too small for God’s attention. To paraphrase one commentator, it is self-idolatry to think we can carry on even the most ordinary matters without his counsel.8
God blesses those who trust him: ‘He will make your paths straight’ (v. 6b). The person who trusts God entirely, exclusively, and extensively will enjoy success in life.
3:5–6. These verses represent the heart of the exhortations. The son is admonished to trust in the Lord with all his heart (v. 5a). Such trust completely believes what God says, including accepting His words of wisdom while rejecting the way of folly, obeying His commands, and embracing His promises. Trust also involves resting secure in God’s loving, protective care and relying completely on His resources. Thus the trusting one will not lean on his own understanding (v. 5b). “In acknowledging one’s own lack of resources, one becomes open to God’s power and wisdom, which is a better guide to life” (Longman, Proverbs, 133).
The one who trusts God and not his own wisdom will also acknowledge God in all his ways (v. 6a). To acknowledge God is to know Him personally and to be in fellowship with Him (Kidner, Proverbs, 63–64). The trusting one thus pursues his relationship with the Lord in everything he does (cf. 1Co 10:31).
The result of trusting and pursuing the Lord is that He will make your paths straight (Pr 3:6b). As the lifestyle of the wicked is crooked in both a moral sense (they live corruptly) and a pragmatic sense (they face difficulties of their own making) (see 2:15), so the lifestyle of the righteous is straight in both senses. His way of life is straight morally (i.e., he lives in a God-honoring way) and smooth pragmatically (i.e., he faces fewer obstacles to a successful, joyful life).
The command to trust in the lord and not lean on one’s own understanding (3:5–6)
3:5–6. To trust in the Lord wholeheartedly means one should not rely (lean) on his understanding, for human insights are never enough. God’s ways are incomprehensible (Isa. 55:8–9; Rom. 11:33–34); yet He is trustworthy. All the wisdom a person may acquire can never replace the need for full trust in God’s superior ways. Heart in Hebrew refers to one’s emotions (Prov. 12:25; 13:12; 14:10, 13) but more often to his intellect (such as understanding, 10:8; discernment, 15:14; reflection, 15:28), or will (5:12).
As a person trusts in the Lord and acknowledges Him (this is not a nod of recognition but an intimate knowledge of God) in all his ways (cf. all your heart, 3:5), he finds that God makes his paths straight. This means more than guidance; it means God removes the obstacles, making a smooth path or way of life, or perhaps better, bringing one to the appointed goal. (On ways and paths, cf. v. 17 and see comments on 2:13, 15.) Proverbs teaches that those who follow wisdom have an easier, less problematic life (e.g., 3:10, 16, 24–25).
3:5 First, there must be a full commitment of ourselves—spirit, soul, and body—to the Lord. We must trust Him not only for the salvation of our souls but also for the direction of our lives. It must be a commitment without reserve.
Next, there must be a healthy distrust of self, an acknowledgment that we do not know what is best for us, that we are not capable of guiding ourselves. Jeremiah expressed it pointedly: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23).
3:6 Finally, there must be an acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ: “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” Every area of our lives must be turned over to His control. We must have no will of our own, only a single pure desire to know His will and to do it.
If these conditions are met, the promise is that God shall direct our paths. He may do it through the Bible, through the advice of godly Christians, through the marvelous converging of circumstances, through the inward peace of the Spirit, or through a combination of these. But if we wait, He will make the guidance so clear that to refuse would be positive disobedience.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 798). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
In our culture, we are obsessed with one thing: ourselves. In the absence of any transcendent significance to life, creating, loving, and fulfilling the self fills the vacuum. Youngsters are taught from a very early stage–often in schools–to trust in themselves, to know that they are princesses and princes, and to be assured that they can do anything to which they set their minds.
It is perhaps not surprising that in an age when secular scientists insist we are exclusively material beings and tell us that there is no “self” other than our biological functions, the longing to find a self hs taken on epidemic proportions. People can “self-identify” as this or that. Thus self-directed love is seen as the fundamental birthright, even while our governments take it upon themselves to decide when there is a self who has the right to birth.
The problem, as Augustine saw so clearly, is that amor sui (self-directed love) leads to personal and societal disaster whenever it is severed from amor dei (God-directed love). Of course, there is a proper love of self. Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourselves, so the implication is that we will love the latter too. But why is that not the same as self-love? Because it isn’t self-directed loved. Instead, it is rooted in realizing that since we are made as the image of God, we should treat his image with respect and care, and we should do the same to others, who likewise are the image of God. The secular humanist who denies that humans were created as the image of God, thus makes man out to be far less than he is seen to be in Christian teaching.
In fact, Christians are the higher humanists; secularists, by comparison, are de-humanists and reduce the dignity of man. Yet, despite it all, men and women remain the image of God, and inevitably they thirst for significance even though they cannot explain thy. So long as that is the case, Augustine’s most famous words remain true: God has made us for himself (we are his image) and our hearts are therefore restless until they find their rest in him. But left to ourselves, all we have is ourselves. Indeed, as some secularists have had the courage to say, in this worldview there simply is no meaning to life; there are no answers to what have always been thought to be the ultimate questions: Why is there something and not nothing? Who am I? What is the purpose of life? What is my destiny?
If we have to invent our own answers to these questions, it is hardly surprising that amor sui is promoted so vigorously. Yet the questions cannot be suppressed, even when we repress them. Is there no answer to them? Perhaps Lily in Jane Wagner’s play, The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe is right when she says, “I worry where tonight fits in the cosmic scheme of things.” And then she adds: “I worry there is no cosmic scheme to things.”
Christmas says there is a cosmic scheme of things. God made us as his image to reflect his glory. We have sinned and fallen short of that glory (Romans 3 v 23). But the Son of God, who is the very image of God (Colossians 1 v 15), was sent by God and came in love to restore his image. Through faith in him, we discover that our lives fit into “the cosmic scheme of things.” He recreates in us a love for himself and restores us to fellowship with himself, which transforms self-directed love into love of our neighbors.
That is the destiny for which we were created. in this way, the birth of Christ leads to our rebirth (John 1 v 9-13). That new birth sets us free from the tyranny of the project of the self. In Christ, we enter a “new creation”, where life begins to make ultimate sense (2 Corinthians 5 v 17). And since we have found our true identity in Christ, we are no longer left to our own devices to try to discover who we really are.
Here is a neat little summary of what happened at that first Christmas from the early fathers of the Christian church: “Christ became what he was not in order that we might become what we were not.” In order to fill us, the Son of God emptied himself; and in order to give us life, the Song of God became obedient to death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2 v 5-11). And when we trust him, we too die to self and begin to live for him and for others. For he died “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” This, says Paul, takes place when “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5 v 14-15). The incarnation of the Son of God was a radical event. and the gospel is a radical message.
Jesus said that the discovery of self always involves losing or denying self (Luke 9 v 24). And what does denying ourselves look like? Often, it looks like not insisting on our own way when we could, and instead of laying down our preferences for the sake of others. Sometimes that means that we won’t insist on celebrating Christmas with that particular part of the family or in this particular way or with those particular traditions. We won’t insist that we’re too tired to help with the washing up. Instead, we will choose to love, and “love…does not insist on its own way.” In George MacDonald’s fantasy tale The Golden Key, one of the characters, Tangle, meets the Old Man of the Earth, who gives her further directions in her life-quest:
The discovery of who we were created to be takes place in the same way. There are no stairs: you need to throw yourself into the love of Christ. It is an all-or-nothing thing. In trusting him, you will lose your life, but at the same time, you will find it. You must die to self to find yourself. And then you will be set free from the self-love that has crippled you all your life. but you must first “throw yourself in. There is no other way.” Jesus said that there is only one way to the Father, himself (John 14 v 6). And the fact that he came at Christmas means that you can thro yourself into loving selflessly today.
This content taken from Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings for Advent by Sinclair Ferguson. Used by permission The Good Book Co.
— Read on corechristianity.com/resource-library/3/1027
Townhall Review — December 22, 2018
In this special edition of the Townhall Review, Michael Medved tells the story of Christmas, from the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ’s birth to Saint Nicholas to Santa Clause. Medved shares how Christmas was both frowned upon and celebrated in colonial America and how General George Washington used the holiday to his advantage in the Revolutionary War. Dennis Prager rounds out the show by expressing his gratitude for religion and particularly Christianity in America, even though he is a Jew.
The story of Christ’s birth doesn’t signify His beginning. While the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke tell us about His incarnation, John’s gospel draws our attention to His work in eternity past.
The truth is that while we’re prone to looking at Christ in His infancy at this time of year, that’s only a very small sliver of who the Son of God is in His fullness. In the familiar birth narratives, we only see a glimpse of His glory. For a more comprehensive view, we return to the prologue of John’s gospel.
It’s that broader view of the glory of God expressed through the incarnate Christ that John MacArthur highlights in his sermon “We Beheld His Glory.” John’s sermon reminds us that Moses longed to see the glory of the Lord, and only received a fleeting glimpse as it departed (Exodus 33:18-23). Contrast that to the full unfolding of God’s glory we see in the Person and work of Christ. The gospels resound with His eternal, divine attributes, as we witness the righteousness, mercy, power, and grace of God on display in the life of Christ.
We should joyfully celebrate the incarnate Christ this Christmas and worship Him as He has revealed Himself in His Word. To that end, John’s message brings us face-to-face with the glorious Christ—that we might worship Him rightly and faithfully declare Him to our unbelieving friends and family.
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again.—Matt. 13:44a
Jesus’ concise but profound parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value show us that, above all, we must personally appropriate God’s kingdom. People automatically at birth become members of their parents’ family and country, but such natural inheritance doesn’t apply regarding the kingdom.
Everyone is under God’s dominion because they live on the earth, which is under His sovereign control. And if unbelievers associate with believers, they can potentially enjoy many kingdom benefits. But if an unbeliever attends a biblical church, enjoys sound preaching, and gets baptized, he or she is not necessarily a kingdom citizen. More often than not, such are “sons of the kingdom [who] will be cast out into the outer darkness” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12)—in other words, they are not really children of God.
Paul reminds his readers, Jews in particular, “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants” (Rom. 9:6–7). Even during the Old Testament era one could be Jewish—fully identified with God’s people racially, nationally, and religiously—and still not be a member of the true spiritual Israel.
Similarly, you can be a member of a family that has had membership in a good church for many generations and yet not be part of Christ’s true church. Being born into a godly family does not make you a believer. Under the Spirit’s guidance, you must personally decide to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.
|Here toward the end of the year, settle this issue in your heart once and for all. You can live with the full assurance of your salvation by surrendering your life to Christ—repenting of your sins and believing in His sacrifice on your behalf. Don’t live another day unsure.|
This isn’t exactly an article loaded with Christmas cheer, but there’s a very good reason that my family has strictly limited our holiday splurges this year. It’s because all the signs right now seem to indicate the US is hurtling toward an economic collapse.
It’s inevitable, of course. Our economy has been artificially propped up for decades, since abandoning the gold standard. We’re $21 trillion dollars in debt, an unfathomable number. The fact that other countries still lend us money boggles the mind. If the United States was a person with such a high ratio of debt that we aren’t paying off, we wouldn’t even be able to buy a car with one of those 25% interest loans, that’s how bad our credit would be.
Not only that, but there are some parties who seem to want to see the economy go belly up for their own greedy and nefarious purposes.
Here are the red flags that have me concerned about an imminent economic collapse.
The stock market is crashing.
Right now, the market is on track for a month that is equivalent to the crash of 1929, when the Great Depression began. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are down by 8% during a month that is usually really good. Michael Snyder reported:
The ferocity of this stock market crash is stunning many of the experts, and many investors are beginning to panic. Back in early October, the Dow hit an all-time high of 26,951.81, but on Monday it closed at just 23,592.98. That means that the Dow has now plunged more than 3,300 points from the peak of the market, and many believe that this stock crash is just getting started. (source)
And Snyder isn’t alone. Even the mainstream is reporting on our precarious situation. (Albeit, just to make the President look bad.)
Dr. Ron Paul told CNBC (and they actually published it!) that we’re headed for a depression in the next 12 months.
“Once this volatility shows that we’re not going to resume the bull market, then people are going to rush for the exits,” Paul said Thursday on CNBC’s “Futures Now. ” The relentlessly bearish former congressman added that “It could be worse than 1929.”
During that year, the stock market began hemorrhaging, falling almost 90 percent and sending the U.S. economy into a tailspin.
Paul, a well-known Libertarian, has been warning Wall Street a massive market plunge is inevitable for years. He’s currently projecting a 50 percent decline from current levels as his base case, citing the ongoing U.S.-China trade war as a growing risk factor.
“I’m not optimistic that all of the sudden, you’re going to eliminate the tariff problem. I think that’s here to stay,” he said. “Tariffs are taxes.”
The scenario is exacerbating Paul’s chief reason behind his bearish call: 2008 financial crisis easy money policies. He contended the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing has caused the “biggest bubble in the history of mankind. ” (source)
The stock market bears close watching over the next couple of weeks, for sure. To learn more about surviving a market crash, go read this article. To learn how to protect your money even if you don’t invest in the market, read this article.
The treasury futures market isn’t looking good either
An enlightening article by Jeffrey Snider of Alhambra Investment Partners explains why we need to be watching the Treasury futures market. Here are the highlights:
The Treasury futures market sort of runs the place, but it isn’t always a straightforward process from which to drive analysis.
What we do know is that December has been a total disaster.In the stock market, of all places, the S&P 500 entered the month on an upswing. The initial liquidation that began like WTI after October 3 by the last stretches of November seemed to be under control. The index had rallied back almost to 2800 by December 3.
It’s now down almost 10% in just a few weeks, more importantly setting a new low for the year (lower lows). While that has surprised many, the Treasury futures market issued up what might have been the biggest warning yet the last week in November…
…Treasury futures are a sort of catchall for general, nonspecific uncertainty. The more this one market gets busy the more we have to be on the lookout for bad stuff. When open interest skyrockets, really bad stuff…
…For the week of November 27, the CFTC reports that open interest in Treasury futures surpassed 1.1 million for the first time since the Asian flu in 1998. The last time the market had expanded to more seven-figure contracts? January through March 2008 – over a million right up until the week before Bear failed…
…In a world of warnings, this one’s way back in the shadows because it relates more than anything visible to the intricate pieces contained and safely hidden within them. But it was a big one.
When UST futures open interest gets near 1 million, bad things. Over 1 million? Buckle up. (source)
That’s some pretty unsettling stuff. I strongly recommend you read the whole article here.
But, like a Ginsu knife commercial, there’s more.
The amount of corporate, personal, and national debt is mind-blowing.
Brandon Smith explained it well in a must-read article on Alt-Market. Here’s an excerpt that perfectly sums up our situation.
The national debt is closing in on $22 trillion, with over $1 trillion a year currently being added for the American taxpayer.
U.S. household debt currently stands at around $13.3 trillion, which is $618 billion higher than the last peak back in 2008, during the credit crisis.
U.S. credit card debt surpassed $1 trillion for the first time in 2018, the highest single year amount since 2007 (once again, we see that debt levels are spiking beyond the lines crossed just before the crash of 2008).
So how can this debt be exploited to engineer an economic crisis? Let’s start with household and consumer debt.
One would think that with so much lending and creation of consumer debt, we would see a massive expansion in home and auto markets. And for a time, we did. The problem was that most home purchases were being undertaken by major corporations like Blackrock, as they devoured distressed mortgages by the thousands and then turned those homes into rentals. In the auto market, there was a large spike in buying driven by lending, but this lending was accomplished through ARM-style car loans, the same kind of loans with lax standards that helped cause the mortgage crisis in 2008.
Today, both in the housing market and the auto market, a crash is indeed taking place as the Fed raises interest rates and makes holding these loans ever more expensive.
Pending home sales have tumbled to a four-year low, as one in four homes on the market is now forced to lower prices. Debt is becoming expensive, and therefore demand is slumping.
Overall U.S. auto sales began a precipitous decline this September, which has continued through November, mostly due to higher interest rates.
It is clear that an economic crash, which some are merely calling a bear market, is indicated in the swift decline in housing and autos, two of the most vital consumer sectors.
But what about corporate debt? Let’s use GE, GM and Ford as litmus tests.
GE is currently in the red for over $115 billion. And this doesn’t include its pension promises to employees, which amount to over $100 billion. Given that only $71 billion has been earmarked to cover the payments, any rate hikes from the Fed constitute a millstone on the necks of GE. The likely result will be continued layoffs. Last December, GE announced 12,000 jobs to be cut through 2018, and it is likely cuts will continue into 2019.
GM, with long term debt of $102 billion (as of September) and cash holdings of around $35 billion, is now cutting over 14,000 jobs and shutting down multiple factories in the U.S. This is due, in part, to a combination of interest rate hikes and tariffs. However, the true point of fracture is because of the expansive debt that GM is responsible for. Without such debt, neither rate hikes nor Trump’s tariffs would have as intense an effect on these corporations.
Ford, not to be outdone by GM, is set to announce up to 25,000 job cuts, though the bulk of them may be implemented in Europe. Ford has called this report by Morgan Stanley “premature”, but we saw many similar “non-denial-denials” of these kinds of info leaks during the crash of 2008, and most of them ended up being true. Ford saw its debt rating downgraded by Moody’s earlier this year to one step above junk. With current liabilities of around $100 billion and only $25 billion in cash holdings, Ford is yet another company of the verge of crumbling due to huge liabilities it cannot afford to pay more interest on.
We can see the stress that the Fed is able to place on corporations by looking at their stock buyback expenditures over the past few years. Until recently, it was the Fed’s low interest rates, overnight loans, and balance sheet purchases that allowed companies to buy back their own stocks and thereby artificially prop up the markets. In fact, one could argue that without stock buybacks, the bull rally that started in 2009 would have died out a long time ago and we would have returned to crash conditions much sooner.
Well, this is exactly what is happening today. Stock buybacks in the last half of 2018 are dwindling as the Fed tightens policy and interest rates draw ever closer to the designated “neutral rate” of inflation. All it took as a measly 2% increase in interest to create a crisis, but with the level of debt choking the system, this should not be surprising to anyone.
By lowering interest rates to near zero, what the Fed did was create a culture of irresponsible risk, and I believe they did this knowingly. Even Donald Trump has tied himself to the performance of the stock market and embraced the debt addiction, arguing for the Fed to stop or reduce interest rate hikes to keep the debt party going. Though, with Trump’s White House crawling with international banking agents and think-tank ghouls there might be far more than meets the eye as Trump anchors himself to the performance of the Dow.
The Fed is not going to stop. Why would they? They have created the perfect bubble. A bubble that encompasses not only corporate debt, consumer debt, and stock markets, but also bond markets and the U.S. dollar itself. If the goal is a move to centralize power, then the banking elites have the perfect crisis weapon in their hands, and they barely need to lift a finger (or raise rates) to trigger the event. (source)
And he’s not alone in his assertion that this may be deliberate.
Is the Fed trying to crash the market?
Michael Snyder wrote an article today asking if the Federal Reserve was actually trying to start a stock market crash.
The Federal Reserve has decided not to come to the rescue this time. All of the economic numbers tell us that the economy is slowing down, and on Wednesday Fed Chair Jerome Powell even admitted that economic conditions are “softening”, but the Federal Reserve raised interest rates anyway. As one top economist put it, raising rates as we head into an economic downturn is “economic malpractice”. They know that higher rates will slow down the economy even more, but it isn’t as if the Fed was divided on this move. In fact, it was a unanimous vote to raise rates. They clearly have an agenda, and that agenda is definitely not about helping the American people.
Early on Wednesday, Wall Street seemed to believe that the Federal Reserve would do the right thing, and the Dow was up nearly 400 points. But then the announcement came, and the market began sinking dramatically.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 720 points in just two hours, and the Dow ended the day down a total of 351 points. This is the lowest that the Dow has been all year, 60 percent of the stocks listed on the S&P 500 are in bear market territory, and at this point approximately four trillion dollars of stock market wealth has been wiped out.
We haven’t seen anything like this since the last financial crisis. This is officially the worst quarter for the stock market since the fourth quarter of 2008, and it is the worst December that Wall Street has experienced since 1931.
It is insanity to raise interest rates when stocks are already crashing, but the Federal Reserve did it anyway.
They knew what kind of reaction this would cause on Wall Street and in other global markets, but that didn’t stop them. The financial world is in utter turmoil, and this move by the Fed has definitely added fuel to the fire.
Could it be possible that they actually want a stock market crash?
Some are suggesting that the reason why the vote was unanimous was because they wanted to send a “strong signal” to President Trump. He has been extremely critical of the Federal Reserve in recent weeks, and this could be a way for the Fed to show Trump who is really in charge. (source)
Is the Fed actually trying to teach Trump a lesson? If this turns out to be the case, then the Fed is sacrificing Americans on the altar of politics and. pf course, massive profit for a meager few.
Other things to watch
Chicago is probably going to default on pensions because to make it right, each person – not household – person – in Chicago would have to pony up $140,000. (source)
Almost half of the people in the United States struggle to pay for basics like food and rent. And if something throws a monkey wrench in their budget, they could quickly become homeless. Most folks are much closer to that point than we imagine.
While employment numbers look respectable, the number most people aren’t looking at is underemployment. This is when a person is unable to work as much as they’d like to. (source) Many overqualified people are working part-time at fast food restaurants and grocery stores – and taking more than one low-paying job – just to make ends meet. Now, there’s no shame in hard work, but when it takes multiple jobs to survive, we’ve definitely reached a point where our cost of living has risen beyond a reasonable point. As well, due to government policies requiring that employers pony up expensive healthcare for full-time employees, they simply can’t afford it, so they keep hours low.
Other countries are ditching the dollar. Both China and Japan have been quietly reducing treasury holdings and purchases. (source) They see what’s coming, although many people here appear to be blind to it.
When you put all these things together, it certainly paints an ugly picture, doesn’t it?
What you should do
First things first, I recommend following the steps in this article to protect any money you have in the bank.
At this point, paying off debt is not something I’d focus on, even though normally I advise being debt-free. Right now, I would focus on supplies and lifestyle changes that will help see you through a crash of our economy. (If you need help building a pantry, here’s a course to guide you.)
Should the situation devolve into what is predicted, no one is going to be paying off credit cards any time soon. I would switch to minimum payments and put my money toward physical supplies. If your physical supplies are in good shape, then look to paying off your home or car. Then, invest in precious metals. They may not do you much good during the collapse, but when things start to look brighter, you will have protected at least some of your wealth.
What do you think?
Is the economy in trouble? Are we headed toward a Venezuela-style economic collapse? How are you preparing for this?
“We’re in a lot of trouble…They don’t realize how bad the economy is just like they didn’t realize how bad it was in 2007…”
Economic analyst Peter Schiff, who accurately predicted the 2008 recession said recently that we are not in a bear market. Instead, “we’re in a house of cards that the Fed built.”
Schiff is referring to the Federal Reserve, the United States’ central bank that answers to no one, has no competition, and has been responsible for every depression and recession since its inception. Schiff, who is the chief executive of Euro Pacific Capital, a longtime gold bug and market pundit, has been putting the upcoming economic disaster squarely on the shoulders of the Fed -very much where that blame belongs.
Schiff has often been considered “polarizing” to Wall Street pundits because he calls the Fed out for their destruction of the economy and that’s just not something most want to hear. The prominent investor should be worthy of investors’ attention, however, because his prescient calls ahead of the 2008 financial crisis, which earned him plaudits as one of the few able to spot a global economic crisis emanating from the housing market, were correct as MarketWatch reported.
Schiff added that the inflation that has taken hold in the lofty prices of stocks and other assets and predicts will gradually shift to higher prices for consumers, who are already feeling their wallets burn thanks to the trade war. The other big problem is that Americans are broke. Any interest rate hike could push debt-laden and cash-strapped Americans to the brink forcing them to choose which bills will get paid.
Meanwhile, the most recent reading showed that the 12-month rate of inflation was flat at 2% (as measured by Federal Reserve’s preferred PCE) or personal consumption expenditures, gauge. Yet most think it’s higher after noticing an uptick in their grocery bill for example. And as the interest rate goes up, servicing debt becomes more expensive, and that a huge concern for the heavily indebted American.
Schiff says it won’t matter what the Fed does Wednesday (policy makers hiked the rates as expected), with a rate increase of a quarter percentage point anticipated.
Schiff says the problem is that the Fed and the vast majority of the American public (thanks to the propaganda spewed by the talking heads in the mainstream media) don’t realize just how bad the economy is and how close the everything bubble is to bursting.
We have not seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008. On Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost another 464 points, and over the last five trading sessions it has lost a total of more than 1,700 points. CNN’s Fear & Greed index has swung all the way over to “extreme fear”, and there has only been one December in all of U.S. history that was worse for the stock market than this one. But back at the very beginning of October, most of the experts never would have imagined that the year would end this way. According to CNBC, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time record high of in early October, and investors were feeling really good about things at that point. But on Thursday the index closed at just 22,859.60, and that means that the Dow has lost more than 4,000 points in less than three months.
All of the major trend lines have been shattered and all of the key support levels have been breached. When analysts look at stock charts these days, all they are seeing is sell signal after sell signal. One investment strategist told CNN that stocks are “quickly approaching the capitulation phase”…
According to Google, “capitulation” means “the action of surrendering or ceasing to resist an opponent or demand.” In this case, the bulls are on the verge of surrendering to the bears, and if that happens we could see a tremendous amount of chaos break loose on Wall Street.
And the damage that has already been done has been extraordinary. At this point firms listed on the S&P 500 have seen 2.39 trillion dollars in market cap wiped out, and a grand total of 16.7 trillion dollars in stock market wealth has been wiped out globally.
Many are pointing the blame for what is happening at the Federal Reserve. Here is just one example…
Even though the U.S. economy is slowing down substantially, and even though financial markets have already been crumbling, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates anyway.
And they knew that the financial markets would respond very negatively, so nothing that has happened the last couple of days is any sort of a surprise.
Of course it isn’t just stocks that are plunging. Junk bonds just had their worst day since the Brexit vote, and that is an extremely ominous sign. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
As I have discussed before, the collapse of junk bonds was an early sign that stocks were going to totally crash in 2008, and now we see a very similar pattern playing out in 2018.
Does Jim Cramer really believe that he has a better grasp on how the U.S. economy is performing than the Federal Reserve does?
That is quite a bold statement, but based on what the Fed has been doing lately it is tempting to think that they are utterly clueless at this point.
But of course they aren’t clueless. They know exactly what they are doing, and it isn’t about helping the American people.
Meanwhile, just like we saw in 2008, the mainstream media is trying to assure everybody that they should keep their money in the stock market. In fact, CNN posted an article earlier today that encouraged people to put more money in because this latest downturn is a “buying opportunity”…
You can believe that if you want, but there is a reason why corporate insiders were selling stocks at the fastest pace in 10 years just before the market started to crash.
This ridiculously absurd stock market bubble was not going to last forever, and now it is imploding at a speed that is absolutely breathtaking.
Hopefully things will stabilize a bit as we roll through the holidays, but there is no guarantee that will happen.
About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.
Guests: Robert Spencer and John Loeffler. Topic: Two women from Norway are killed and one is decapitated by Islamic men who pledged loyalty to ISIS. The media again falsely claims these men were fanatics, when in fact they were simply practicing Islam as described in the Qur’an and Hadith. Topic: Brannon plays the audio of James White declaring that ISIS is not Islamic in totality. Robert says he has never heard this audio and believes it reveals that James White is a bigger fool than he thought he was. Robert also challenged James White to a debate on the topic, and Brannon offers to host the debate live on WVW-TV. Topic: Robert Spencer explains what he believes were the biggest news stories of 2018, and it includes the attack on freedom of speech by Big-Tech. Topic John Loeffler joins us to discuss what he sees as the biggest threats to America, and like Robert Spencer, John believes one is the loss of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Topic: John says he blames, in part, so-called pastors for the destruction of America for not standing up over the past many years just as the pastors in Germany refused to stand up to the Nazis and the Holocaust. Topic: John and Brannon discuss how they appreciate real pastors and how each of them has worked for years to provide them with resources to assist in training their people in a comprehensive Biblical worldview. Topic: John explains why he believes the Federal Reserve is working to undermine the economy, create chaos, and thus deny President Trump re-election.
Guests: Tom Littleton and Dr. Jimmy DeYoung. Topic: Tom joins us to read from a book he found in which Bob Buford told a globalist that he could deliver the evangelicals into his camp. This is more proof of what Brannon and Tom have been saying for years in regards to so-called evangelicals working in concern with the globalists to compromise the evangelical church in America. Topic: Jimmy DeYoung joins us to discuss these issues: A major event this week in preparation for the Third Temple, very key event. Topic: Jewish settlers say they will not be sitting ducks for Palestinian terrorism. Topic: Israeli Prime Minister says that Israel is the bull work against Iran taking over the entire Middle East. Topic: Israel is ready to set up an embassy quarter in the city of Jerusalem to House all the embassies that will be moving into the political capitol, Jerusalem, there in Israel.
Two big ones this year in Chicagoland, two big pastors the foundations of whose empires have been shaken. First it was Willow Creek and Bill Hybels, now it is Harvest Bible Chapel and James Macdonald.
I knew far more about the former than I do about the latter. Neither is specifically in view here. Instead, I speak about a theological and ecclesial problem: pastors and power. What we have in these, and far too many similar, church situations is pastoral abuse of power. Today’s post is about power in the pastorate, not about any one pastor — but instead about all of powermongering pastors.
What do we learn when we think about the pastor and power problem? (We could think through this with 1 Kings 21, the story about Naboth and his Vineyard, so I have posted the text at the end. Powermongering always works in similar ways.)
Before we begin, a powermongering pastor is spiritually deformed and unformed. It’s a character issue; it’s a spiritual formation issue. A powermongering pastor is behind the problem of power in the pastorate. Here we go…
First, we need to recognize that it is a culture that empowers, supports, and is morally blind to power abuse. Such a culture has to be created over time. It doesn’t happen because a pastor wants it, though he (I’ll leave this post in the masculine) may well want it. Wanting it doesn’t create it; it takes more than the pastor.
It takes a pastor, some elders and leaders around the pastor, and some systems and structures and policies that emerge into a Power Culture: marked by centralization of power into the pastor’s office, the knowledge on the part of elders and deacons and leaders of stuff going on, the requirement of silence, the punishment of opponents and critics, the labeling of critics, the narrating of an alternative (fake) story of what is going on, the assignment of impure motives by those designated as opponents and the assumption of pure motives by the pastor and elders and leaders… I could go on, you know the story.
Second, what we have learned in studying power cultures in churches is this: churches need to know that the persona on the stage and behind the pulpit (the preaching pastor) is not the person behind closed doors or with his friends.
This is hard to make sense of if you are an ordinary pew sitter, but let’s begin there: far too many in churches where there is a Power Culture are pew sitters who equate the persona with the person. Only those who know the pastor well, and not many will, know the clarity of the difference. Personas are glorified, heroized and valorized; persons are sinners. That pastor, though drunk in a Power Culture, is not the persona.
Third, what happens when ugly and unbiblical and unethical and even immoral realities become known? Power Cultures can only be redeemed when the sin of the Power Culture and pastor is revealed.
Sometimes the sins can be known, and it is a sad reality — next point is coming into play here — that the elders and leaders don’t do due diligence here but often need outsiders to unmask the sin and reveal the persona for the person he is. Sometimes it is a disgruntled employee but these days it seems to be journalists and social media and bloggers. They are driven to this by what happens when the sin becomes known.
Fourth, this is a sad reality about churches: most of these churches stuck in a Power Culture tend to protect the church, its reputation, its ministries, and the finances needed to keep the boat floating. They believe the heroized persona because they don’t know the person, they trust the persona because the Power Culture has colluded to protect the persona and the church with its Power Culture.
Fifth, it happens that the truth becomes known inside and the church begins to want to tell the truth. What happens next? Sadly, churches tend to leak only small bits of information about the realities: some truth, some spin, more hidden than known. The small bits of sin are spun into a story that still protects and fails to confront the Power Culture and the persona.
What is needed is repentance, admission; what is not needed is the most common ploy: blame the leader, blame the system, and then move on as if it was someone else’s fault. The reality is that the Power Culture is not just the pastor but everyone participates in differing ways. (More about that some other day.)
Sixth, because the truth is only admitted in small bits some more critics speak up. Often the church admits only what it has to admit and no more; the church often knows the sin at a far deper level but since others don’t know the pervasive presence of sin the church chooses to tell more than it has to.
It is best when actual courageous elders, leaders — some former some current — admit the truth, but often they need to be pushed to tell the full truth. Then some journalists, bloggers and social media take the issue on. Only then does the truth come out, only then is the Power Culture unmasked and only then does the Persona become a person, a real sinner who needs deep repentance and formation.
Seventh, it is then at this time that the church faces a Y in the path: Will it pursue truth or protect the reputation? Will it turn the reality into a “season” or will it denounce the Power Culture and the Persona’s sinful ways? Will it denounce the elders and leaders who propped up the Power Culture? Will it turn back to basics, to the gospel about Jesus and start over?
Will it repent and admit complicity? will it confess collective responsibility?
Naboth and His Vineyard — Taken by Power-mongering King Ahab
1Kings 21:1 Later the following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 And Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” 4 Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.
1Kings 21:5 His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?” 6 He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7 His wife Jezebel said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
1Kings 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. 9 She wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; 10 seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” 11 The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. 13 The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”
1Kings 21:15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
1Kings 21:17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: 18 Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19 You shall say to him, “Thus says the LORD: Have you killed, and also taken possession?” You shall say to him, “Thus says the LORD: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.”
1Kings 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, 21 I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. 23 Also concerning Jezebel the LORD said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’ 24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.”
1Kings 21:25 (Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, urged on by his wife Jezebel. 26 He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD drove out before the Israelites.)
1Kings 21:27 When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. 28 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house.”
READING: Revelation 14-18
“Great and awe-inspiring are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; just and true are your ways, King of the nations.”
I cannot imagine what heaven will be like when we gather around God’s throne and praise Him forever. My human mind simply cannot comprehend what that might look like or sound like – though I look forward to it! The best I can do is read the book of Revelation and eavesdrop on the praises of conquering followers of Christ throughout that book. In today’s reading, victors sing this song of praise:
Great and awe-inspiring are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; just and true are your ways, King of the nations.
Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy.
All the nations will come and worship before you because your righteous acts have been revealed. (Rev. 15:3-4)
I must admit, though, that even these words leave me filled with expectant wonder. Think about all the reasons to praise God, according to these verses. He alone is God. His works evoke awe; just look around at nature, and it’s hard not to marvel. His ways are perfect and righteous; nothing He does is ever wrong. He alone is holy – in fact, He defines holiness.
It’s no wonder, then, that the nations will worship Him for who He is and what He’s done. It’s right that we would fear Him in wonder and glorify Him with all our being. That means that my praises of Him during this Christmas season are only a prelude to eternity . . . and that’s incredibly exciting!
- Just praise God today for who He is.
- Follow Him with great respect and awe today.
PRAYER: “God, You alone are God. You are holy. I praise You.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Revelation 19-22
I’ve heard people say, “The church needs to get angry about all these social injustices!” Many seem to believe that racism, misogyny, domestic abuse, child abuse, etc., are all worthy of our most intense anger so that we’re stirred to action in support of victims and so that we can bring oppressors to justice. But is that true? Certainly, the Scriptures are clear that we must seek justice. Proverbs 21:15 says, “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” On the other hand, James 1:20 says, “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.” There is something about human anger, untempered, and fully expressed that does not please God. I suggest we need to make some careful distinctions when it comes to angrily pursuing justice.
1. The Nature of Anger
The Bible does not teach that anger itself is sinful. After all, God is angry. Scripture frequently talks about “the anger of the LORD” (2 Kgs 13:3), His “wrath” (Ezek 7:8), and “indignation” (Hab 3:12). That means anger in itself must not be sinful.
In fact, anger is simply a policy and posture of opposition along with a relentless resolve to achieve some goal. Anger says, “You shall not pass.”
But like all emotions in human beings, anger can be godly, or it can be sinful. Paul says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.” Notice the two commands in that verse. First, there is a command to “be angry.” On the one hand, anger is required to oppose sin and ungodliness. But second, Scripture commands, “Do not sin.” There must never be any hint of hatred or murder in our anger. You may not break the 6th commandment, “You shall not murder” in your thoughts, words, or deeds, when you are angry for a good cause.
2. Hateful Justice
What does “hateful justice” look like? It looks like “unjust justice.” Hateful justice is lawless, sinful and murderous, and thus, it is injustice. Those who practice hateful justice tend to play fast and loose with the facts, breaking the 9th commandment. They may construct narratives and impose them broadly on large groups of people, even if the narrative is not true about many individuals in that group (Exod 23:1). This is also breaking the 9th commandment. They are more than willing to accept unproven allegations and then murder alleged wrongdoers with their words, and actions, breaking the 6th commandment (Gen 39:14, 19-20). They have no problem stealing the good names of those who may in fact be innocent, breaking the 8th commandment.
In short, hateful and murderous “justice” is by definition “lawless justice,” which is, of course, a contradiction in terms. Lying, murdering and stealing are all violations of God’s moral law. But the very definition of true justice is the faithful administration of God’s moral law.
The popular “vigilante” heroes of our culture, who “fight the system” by breaking God’s good law, are no heroes at all (Rom 12:19-21). To be very clear, vigilantes may actually be right in their stated cause. The perceived evil they are fighting may turn out to be real evil that needs to be fought and brought to justice. But those who use lawless means will never achieve justice because they leave so many injustices in their wake. Those who hatefully seek “justice” become the very kinds of people they claim to oppose: oppressors. And they create the very thing they claim to be fighting: injustice.
3. Loving Justice
Loving justice often has something in common with hateful justice. It often opposes the very same injustices that society opposes, such as racism, misogyny, domestic abuse, child abuse, sex trafficking, etc. But loving justice also opposes every kind of injustice, including injustices that are not recognized by society, such as abortion, false allegations against men, reverse racial discrimination, the adoption of children by homosexual couples, teaching children that their gender identity is rooted in their desires and choices rather than their biology, etc.
If we want to engage in loving justice, we need to remember three things.
First, those who practice loving justice remember that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Now some sins are much more severe and destructive than other sins (John 19:11; Matt 11:21-22). Great sins must be met with great force in order to protect victims and honor God. But those who practice loving justice never forget that God’s strict justice would send everyone to hell (Rom 6:23). We are all guilty before the bar of God’s good and holy justice (Rom 3:23). It’s simply not true that those evil oppressors over there deserve to go to hell, but we do not. We need to remember that we would all be like the most wicked of oppressors, if it were not for the gracious hand of our God, restraining us, and keeping us from becoming as bad as we would otherwise be.
You can tell when someone is in the grip of loving justice because they are humble, cautious, and not quick to condemn. They are not self-righteous or proud. They remember that we are all but dust. When God’s people lovingly seek justice, their words and manner have a gracious tincture (in the words of the Marrowmen of Scotland), even while they confront evil. They are not strident, but cautious because they know their own sins, and they fear that their sins might create more injustices, wrongfully hurting others and dishonoring God.
Second, loving justice remembers the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
When we practice loving justice, we remember God’s grace to ourselves. Our righteousness is not based on defending righteous causes for the sake of justice. If we believe our righteousness is based on achieving justice, then we will be tempted to sin in trying to obtain justice because our own righteousness depends on it. But in Christ, we don’t have to prove that we are righteous by destroying or punishing alleged oppressors. Rather, we remember that we are only righteous because of the free gift of Christ’s righteousness in the gospel. This frees us to be gracious and loving, even toward our enemies. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Lk 6:27-28).
The grace of God in Jesus also enables us to forgive as we have been forgiven. When we remember that Christ has freely cancelled our debt, then we can cancel the debts of others against us. We don’t have to harbor grudges or keep turning over personal offenses in our minds. Jesus said, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses” (Mk 11:25). If we do not forgive our enemies, we will not go to heaven. Jesus says, “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:15). Forgiveness is an essential response to the gospel. God’s grace in Christ allows us to truly love our enemies as well as the enemies of God. It allows us to love oppressors with a tough, but humble and merciful love, and to sincerely desire their good, which does not mean we desire them to be free from the consequences of their sin, but that we desire them to be made like Jesus, and to be brought to justice for their own sake and for the sake of others.
The grace of God in Jesus also makes us very bold, even lovingly angry (Neh 5:6; Ps 139:19-22). If we know that Christ has given us eternal life, then we can stand for truth and righteousness, even if they kill us for it (Matt 10:26-33). We can boldly oppose injustices with love, humility, and mercy, no matter what others may say or do. Our treasure is not on this earth but in heaven. Believing the grace of God to us does not make us passive or lazy in the least. It makes us strong and willing to accept whatever consequences we may have to endure in this life because God has promised us a new heavens and a new earth, and perfect communion with Christ forever. The grace of God makes us willing to lay down our lives for the sake of justice, for the good of victims, as well as for the good of oppressors. The grace of God makes us humbly, mercifully and lovingly angry for the glory of God.
Third, loving justice remembers the good law of God as our guide.
Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Loving justice keeps the commandments of God in two ways.
1. Those who practice loving justice recognize that injustice is defined as a violation of God’s moral law.
In Romans 4:13, Paul says, “Where there is no law, there is no transgression” (cf. Rom 3:20; 5:13). Injustice is not a violation of a cultural construct or ideal. Injustice is not a violation of a secular philosophy of justice. Injustice is not a mere sense or feeling that some wrong has been done.
Injustice is strictly defined as a violation of God’s moral law, when God’s moral law is understood in all its fulness, expounded by the whole Bible, and manifested in the character of Jesus Christ. Those who practice loving justice don’t accuse others of injustice, unless there is clear proof that God’s law has been violated. A loving person defines injustice on God’s terms, not on its own terms. 1 John 3:4 gives us a clear definition of sin, or injustice: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”
2. Those who practice loving justice insist on following the moral law of God, even while they seek justice.
That is, the way and manner that they seek justice is just as important as the justice that they seek. Daniel, for example, opposed the injustices of king Nebuchadnezzar, but he did so, while prayerfully keeping the good law of God. Daniel was so consistent in keeping God’s commandments that his enemies said, “We shall not find any ground of complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God” (Dan 6:9). In other words, Daniel was so faithful to God’s law that his enemies would be forced to get at Daniel by attacking the law of his God. May that be said of us as well.
Those who practice loving justice keep the 9th commandment, which says, “You shall not bear false witness” (Exod 20:16). They do not lie about the facts. They do not impose false or favorite narratives on alleged oppressors. They make sure they have the full and complete story before repeating a matter. They corroborate their claims with sufficient evidence. They do not lie. They’re willing to hear or listen to any testimony or claim, but they are only willing to believe the testimony, when there is sufficient evidence of its truthfulness.
They keep the 6th commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exod 20:13). That means they do not deride, revile, mock, or verbally abuse anyone, including those they believe to be oppressors. The Bible teaches that “revilers” (verbal abusers) are not in the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10) and are actually worthy of church discipline (1 Cor 5:11-12). So, those who practice loving justice speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). They tell the truth in such a way so as to try not to murder the reputation of another person so far as it depends on them (Prov 22:1). They do not harbor hatred in their hearts. They do not murder their enemies.
They keep the 5th commandment, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exod 20:12). This means they respect established authorities (Rom 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet 2:13). They withhold final judgment until divinely established authorities have examined a matter and rendered judgment. Unless the authorities rebel against God’s law, or require sin, those who hold to loving justice submit themselves to the judgment of the authorities. They accept and submit to the authorities God has established in the family (Eph 5:22; 6:1), in the church (Heb 13:17), and in the civil sphere (Rom 13:3-5), and they attempt to work for justice through lawful means, not by rebelling against authority. If authorities need to be purged of corruption, then they seek reformation through biblically lawful means, not by lawless insurrection (1 Pet 2:18).
4. The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Above all, those who practice loving justice preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 1:23-34). They want others to know the holiness and love of God in Jesus Christ. They know that true justice can never come to the world apart from the conversion of human hearts or Christ’s second coming. When oppressors are converted to Jesus they are completely destroyed. The old man is gone and the new man has come to those who are in Christ Jesus. So those who practice loving justice preach the gospel of free grace, faith to God in Jesus Christ, and the repentance of sins. This does not mean that they preach the gospel instead of seeking to enforce justice in love (Mk 6:18-20). Rather it means that they know that evil is only truly conquered, when Christ conquers a sinful heart (Acts 26:28).
Those who practice loving justice also know that the law alone can never produce the justice that they seek. Preaching against and condemning injustices can never change human hearts. Preaching the law can slow down the polluted fountain of the human heart, protecting victims, which is a good thing.
But only the gospel can heal the diseased streams of the human heart and turn sinners into saints. Mere preaching against sin and oppression can never address the root problem. We must indeed preach the law. But we must also preach the gospel. Only the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Only Christ can bring justice into this world, which means that above all, we should preach and minister Jesus Christ and Him crucified, even while we lovingly and lawfully oppose oppression.
— Read on founders.org/2018/12/20/angry-justice/