Daily Archives: July 18, 2019

July 18 The Tool of Frustration

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:20–27

Key Verse: Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Frustration is defined as “a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.” Though frustration hardly seems like a tool God would use, Romans 8:20–21 reports that it is an avenue by which God teaches us how to enjoy the freedom He so graciously provides: “The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (niv).

Do you experience a deep sense of frustration that derives from problems or needs beyond your control? Remember, God is in the process of revealing a great lesson to you. He allows frustrations to build so you will be driven back to Him in prayer.

It is in times of quiet devotion that we hear the Savior whisper words of hope and peace to our confused and frustrated hearts. Only God can offer the freedom we need to survive our greatest frustrations. He is the One who knows how to satisfy perfectly our every need.

Are you feeling frustrated today? Rejoice! God is at work in your life. Ask Him how you should handle this frustration. Never allow feelings of doubt and confusion to rule your emotions. God has set you free!

Father, thank You that Your Holy Spirit lives in the center of my frustrations and gives direction to my prayers. Help me to remember that when I am most despairing, I am also brought closest to You.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 209). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Ten Thoughts about the “Billy Graham Rule” — Denny Burk

Earlier today, I saw an interview on CNN about a Christian politician who practices the “Billy Graham Rule” (watch above). It is an awkward interview to watch, but it illustrates the cost to men and women who are making a good-faith effort to avoid compromising situations. This is by no means everything that can or should be said about the so-called “Billy Graham Rule.” Nevertheless, I thought I would update something I wrote previously on this topic. I personally believe that the rule is wise and ought to be pursued with rigor by Christians who are serious about holiness and witness. So in that spirit, here are ten brief reflections on this particular discipline:

1. We must take sexual holiness seriously because God takes sexual holiness seriously. To reject God’s purpose of holiness in our lives is to reject God altogether. For this reason, we must be blood-earnest about holiness.

  • “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
  • “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality… Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thess. 4:3).
  • “But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints… For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:3-5).

2. The Bible commands us not only to avoid sexual immorality but to avoid situations in which we know that we are vulnerable to temptation.

  • “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
  • “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22).
  • “Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14).

3. Jesus commands us to consider radical (even countercultural) measures in our pursuit of sexual holiness. Failure to do so could lead to judgment.

  • “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

4. It is good and wise to adopt habits and behaviors that promote good character and a good reputation.

  • “A good name is to be more desired than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1).
  • “A good name is better than fine perfume” (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

    This one can be tricky in the aftermath of the #MeToo moment, which in some cases de-emphasizes due process and stresses that every accusation is to be believed. Of course every accusation should be taken seriously, and there are many accusations that end up being substantiated. Nevertheless, there are other accusations that have proven to be false. The gentleman in the video above is concerned about the potential of a false accusation. A part of his motive for observing the “Billy Graham Rule” is to avoid scenarios in which he would have no defense against a false accusation that could ruin his reputation and witness. If he is never alone with a woman not his wife, it greatly diminishes the potential for false accusations. This is a wise approach.

5. It is good and wise to devise strategies for avoiding sexual immorality. Biblical wisdom teaches us to identify temptations to sexual sin and to make plans to avoid them.

  • “Keep your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house” (Proverbs 5:8).
  • “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths” (Proverbs 7:25).

    Please note that these texts from Proverbs are not teaching that all women are temptresses. Obviously, all of them are not (see Proverbs 31). These texts are simply a warning about women who are. Even so, the text is not singling out such temptresses as the sole instigators of sexual immorality in the world. The key thing to remember is that the Proverbs are written from a father to a Son. So the exhortations are the kinds of things that a father would say to a son about sexual purity. And this includes warnings about the kinds of women to avoid. If it were written from a mother to a daughter, it would include warnings about the kinds of men to avoid. By implication, the text does tell women about the kind of men they need to avoid. In that sense, the principles apply to all of us, male or female. All of us—male and female—need to strategize to avoid enticements to sexual immorality.

6. We must never confuse our wise strategies for holiness with actual holiness.

  • “But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:9).

7. Nevertheless, these strategies (such as “The Billy Graham Rule”) are only useful if they are pursued with some amount of consistency and rigor.

  • “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).

8. When practicing the “Billy Graham Rule,” strategize arrangements and meetings to avoid awkward demurrals. Perhaps they cannot always be avoided, but it is worth trying. Otherwise, you risk unnecessary offense against well-meaning, unsuspecting friends and colleagues.

  • “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people” (Romans 12:18).

9. Beware of broadcasting your invocation of “The Billy Graham Rule.” If you do broadcast it, you risk the unnecessary offense mentioned above. You may also run afoul of Jesus’ admonition:

  • “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

    Remember that the rigor of your strategies is a reflection mainly of the sinfulness of your own heart, not of the hearts of each and every person affected by your rule. Therefore you should have some humility (and perhaps even some healthy embarrassment) about the measures you have to take to rein your own problems in.

10. Forebear with your brothers and sisters who are making a good-faith effort to pursue holiness and to protect their marriages.

  • “Forebear one another, and forgive each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Colossians 3:13).
  • “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

    If you are a Christian who doesn’t like the “Billy Graham Rule,” then you need to forbear with those who do. Those outside of the faith will always look on holiness as strange and will sometimes lodge accusations of “sexism.” But such should never be the case among followers of Jesus. Perhaps you don’t agree with the “Billy Graham Rule.” You may not even agree with the rigor with which some Christians pursue their strategies for holiness. We all need to be open to wise correction as we pursue these things. Nevertheless, try to see the best in the good-faith efforts of those who are trying to pursue holiness, and don’t castigate them publicly for trying to be faithful to Jesus in these areas. “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls” (Rom. 14:4).

via Ten Thoughts about the “Billy Graham Rule” — Denny Burk

July 18 Alienation

Scripture Reading: Psalm 25

Key Verse: Hebrews 13:5

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

It seems the more populated our neighborhoods, cities, and planet become, the lonelier we feel. The mobility of our people, the high rate of divorce, the bent toward individualism, the time- and energy-consuming drives for success—all contribute to the increasing sense of alienation from one another. The consequences are serious: depression, superficial relationships, lethargy, stunted spiritual growth—even suicide.

If you are lonely and some of these characteristics describe you, there is hope. You can take active steps that will improve your situation since God has made you to enjoy Himself and influence others.

The beginning is a true understanding of your worth and value. Others may not notice you, but you are the apple of God’s eye (Deut. 32:10). So much loneliness stems from feelings of insecurity and inferiority.

You are important (Isa. 43:4). You are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). You are His workmanship, unique and special (Eph. 2:10).

You can believe these truths from the Word of God because they are true. Allow the Lord Jesus Christ to change your self-image by viewing yourself as He does (Rom. 12:2).

Lord, others may not notice me, but I am not alienated from You. I am made in Your image. I am Your unique and special workmanship. Help me view myself as You see me.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 209). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

July 18 Living by Faith

Scripture reading: Galatians 1:6–10

Key verse: Galatians 3:1

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

In the apostle Paul’s day, the Judaizers (Christian Jews who tried to impose the Jewish way of life on gentile believers) became indignant at the idea of salvation taking place by faith and God’s grace. They viewed this concept as an affront to the Law of Moses and an open license to sin even more. But God’s grace should never become a point of contention.

Warren Wiersbe asserts:

First century Judaizers are not the only ones afraid to depend on God’s grace. Legalists in our churches today warn that we dare not teach people about the liberty we have in Christ lest it result in religious anarchy. These people misunderstand Paul’s teaching about grace, and it is to correct such misunderstanding that Paul wrote the final section of his Ephesian letter.

Paul turns now from argument to application, from the doctrinal to the practical. The Christian who lives by faith is not going to become a rebel. Quite the contrary, he is going to experience the inner discipline of God that is far better than the outer discipline of man-made rules.

No man could become a rebel who depends on God’s grace, yields to God’s Spirit, lives for others, and seeks to glorify God. The legalist is the one who eventually rebels, because he is living in bondage, depending on the flesh, living for self, and seeking the praise of men and not the glory of God.

Lord, I receive by faith Your gift of salvation. Thank You for delivering me from bondage, the flesh, self, and the praise of men.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 209). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The Left is following Communism’s playbook for revolution | American Thinker

We Americans are currently in a civilizational state historians William Strauss and Neil Howe would call the “Third Turning”: an unraveling.  The so-called Left is making it happen, too, with conservatives enabling it by conserving yesterday’s liberalism and being those nice guys who finish last.

In Marxist circles, this stage would be called “destabilization” — the second of a four-part process to subvert a society and seize control.  The first, third, and fourth stages are, respectively, “demoralization,” “crisis,” and “normalization.”

The demoralization stage, which essentially is the undermining of a target nation’s morality (the process of radically changing the population’s “values”), was actually “over-fulfilled” in the mid-1980s already, as Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov put it at the time.  This process continues and is manifested in the widespread antipathy for sexual propriety, faith, and all that is great and good — and in the lust for perversion, socialism, feminism, multiculturalism, “transgenderism,” and anti-Americanism in general.  We see it in the tearing down of statues; removal of long present Christian symbols; leftist propaganda and decadence in schools and entertainment;, prioritizing of illegal aliens over citizens; revising of American history and impugning of whites; and in attacks on the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and all things traditional.

This destabilization of the American mind and moral compass now has begotten, as it must, societal destabilization.  This is reflected in, most obviously, the flooding of our nation with unassimilable foreigners via a purposely porous border.  This serves the Cloward-Piven goal of overloading the system to cause breakdown, necessitating replacement of it with, the theory goes, a socialist one.

Of course, this human flood strains schools, hospitals, and services and resources in general.  But it’s also used for propaganda purposes, with simple efforts to enforce immigration law — ones pursued by Barack Obama himself — used to demonize ICE agents and the current administration.  Vile, divisive lies such as claiming that detention facilities are Nazi-like “concentration camps” lead to hatred, violence, protests, and terrorist attacks such as Saturday’s assault on a Tacoma, Washington ICE facility.

This is part of the greater destabilization represented by physical attacks on, threats against, and censorship of the Left’s political opposition, phenomena now being encouraged by media and facilitated by Big Tech as left-wing politicians and law enforcement turn a blind eye.  Why not?  This all serves to quash their political opposition.

Should this continue in both duration and increasing severity, we will eventually be brought to the “crisis” state, a relatively short stage in which there’s a revolutionary change of power.

To be clear, I don’t say those fomenting this are “Marxists.”  Doctrinaire Marxism is, well, so yesterday.  Leftists epitomize the moral relativism imbuing our age and, as such, worship the Gods of the Shifting Goalposts.  Oh, they’re not better than Marxists (they may be worse), but they have made a lateral move in lunacy.  Today they’re sort of like the Marquis de Sade meets Stalin and the Stasi.

Nor are most of our “disruptors” — what Nancy Pelosi called on young people to be (be careful what you wish for, “Racist” Nan) — conscious of the process of which they’re a part or of its implications; like the Kronstadt sailors, they’re useful idiots.

Why, even most politicians — whether Liz Warren, Kamala Harris, Irish Bob (O’Rourke), or someone else — aren’t strikingly bright or knowledgeable and excel in only one area: powerlust.  In fact, I’m not sure there are too many bent-on-evil corporeal beings anywhere capable of grasping and orchestrating what’s befalling us.

It is tempting to call these miscreants “fascist,” a pejorative they use against the right, but this term is misunderstood.  Fascism originated in Italy, with Benito Mussolini being one of its main founders (if not the primary one); Ol’ Bennie went this route, do note, after being expelled from the socialist party for advocating involvement in WWI.

Mussolini defined fascism thus: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state,” and our leftists certainly embrace that credo.  Yet the Italian leader also said, “National unity has no need of the delirium of race.”  That’s right: authentic fascism had no racial agenda.

Our leftists do, though (as did the Nazis), with their identity-politics “wokeness” and white-privilege blather.  So what’s the best way to describe their “ideology,” if ever shifting, emotion-determined positions can be thus described?

Pure evil.

Yet while their wickedness won’t change.  “If something can’t go on, it won’t,” to paraphrase economist Herb Stein.  Leftists are orchestrating anarchy, but anarchy is never a permanent state of affairs.  The destabilization, including the flood of illegals and tolerated street violence, will eventually be ended — if only by leftists themselves.

For once they achieve the total control they crave, they’ll no longer want anyone upsetting the apple cart, because it’ll be their apple cart.  This is the last revolutionary stage, normalization.  It’s when the useful idiots, promised utopia and once so sure they’d be part of the “in” crowd when power was realized, get squashed like worms.

Below is a video of ex-KGB man Yuri Bezmenov discussing demoralization in America.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Gab (preferably) or Twitter, or log on to SelwynDuke.com.

Photo credit: Old White Truck.

Source: The Left is following Communism’s playbook for revolution

Google – the master manipulator of millions of votes | AFA–OneNewsNow

Google headquartersGoogle was on the hot seat at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. Republicans wanted answers on why the tech giant is censoring conservatives – but what came out of the hearing was far more sinister and dangerous than that.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led the charge, alleging that Google – which runs its search engine and owns YouTube and Android – is manipulating search results to lead users to liberal sites.

“Every time we search on Google, we see only the web pages that Google decides we should see, in the order that Google decides we should see it,” the senator described. “Type a few letters into the search bar and Google will tell you what you should be looking for.”

Talk-show host Dennis Prager said he and his Prager U have had several videos censored by YouTube for no reason that he can figure.

“Google has even restricted access to a video on the Ten Commandments – yes, the Ten Commandments,” he testified. “We have repeatedly asked Google why our videos are restricted; no explanation is ever given. But of course, we know why: because they come from a conservative perspective.”

Later in the hearing, Senator Cruz asked Google’s vice president of government affairs Karan Bhatia about that:

Cruz: “Is it your view that somehow Mr. Prager is somehow disseminating dangerous ideas or ideas that fit into the buckets you were talking about of violent extremism or hate speech?”

Bhatia: “No, senator. We do have a very small percent of our subscribers who opt for what we call ‘restricted’ mode – churches or perhaps schools.”

vote key (on keyboard)But it was social psychologist and AI specialist Dr. Robert Epstein who dropped a bombshell late in the hearing. His research found that in 2016, Google manipulated two or three million votes in Hillary Clinton’s direction – and in 2018, the vote total for Democrats was even larger.

“In 2020, if all these companies are supporting the same candidate, there are 15 million votes on the line that can be shifted without people’s knowledge and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace,” he stated.

Epstein, who is a Democrat and was a Hillary Clinton supporter, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last month that it’s “very likely” that Google and similar companies like Facebook will work together in 2020 to support the same presidential candidate.

“… Google not only has the power to shift opinions and votes on a massive scale, but they exercise this power,” the researcher told Carlson. “[And] it’s not ‘hacking an election’ right now because [those companies] are completely unregulated in the United States.”

Related article:
Report: Google doing all it can to ‘prevent’ a Trump repeat in 2020

Source: Google – the master manipulator of millions of votes

Internet Research Psychologist: Google Search Results Can Sway US Elections by Millions of Voters by Pushing Fake News for the Left — The Gateway Pundit

Dr. Robert Epstein was in front of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution on Tuesday.  His analysis of the impact of Google on US elections is frightening.

Dr. Epstein discussed Google’s real threat to democracy.  Something we have been saying at the Gateway Pundit for years –

Dr. Epstein is a Democrat yet he shared his observations knowing the impact on the US –

To no one’s surprise Google’s search results were in favor of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election –

Very few people can detect the bias (we certainly can) –

Biased search results can alter the opinion of millions (without Google and the MSM Hillary would have gotten beat 100,000,000 to 0 ) –

On election day 2016 Google helped Hillary obtain up to an estimated 4.6 million more votes –

Google helped Democrats in the 2018 election through biased results as well –

Google likely has determined elections (except 2016) since 2015 –

Google is much more effective than ads –

Google basically determines what you read –

Elections are not free and fair due to Google –

The only way conservatives win is to eliminate voter fraud and have candidates that are so incredible (i.e. Donald Trump) with all the right positions that they cannot lose (no one could have beaten Hillary other than Trump) –

Bets are that most Republican politicians have no idea what is going on.  Many are riding the Trump wave and think that they won because of their personal charisma or policies.  In reality, many were carried by Trump.  To this day however many Republicans don’t support the greatest President in our lifetime who is able to withstand more attacks from more angles than any politician in history.  In spite of the Mueller witch hunt, Speakers Ryan and Pelosi, Obama Judges, the highly corrupt FBI, DOJ, State Department and CIA, the Deep State crooks in all government agencies, the horribly biased media and socials, Trump is not just surviving, but he’s thriving.

The issue with Google that Dr. Epstein doesn’t even address is its use of web ads.  Google places top paying ads with liberals and low paying ads with conservatives (if any at all).  Conservatives are labeled “undesirables” by Google and targeted in their pocket book.  Google is getting away with this as well.

Many conservative websites have had to shut down due to loss of traffic from the socials and loss of revenues from Google and Facebook in web ads.  It is absolutely a must that this be addressed.

If the far left bias of social behemoths is not addressed, democracy and independence will soon be gone.  Bets are that most Americans don’t want Rep. Ilhan Omar determining what they read!

via Internet Research Psychologist: Google Search Results Can Sway US Elections by Millions of Voters by Pushing Fake News for the Left — The Gateway Pundit

House Democrat Says Trump ‘Politically Brilliant’ For Targeting ‘The Squad’ — The Gateway Pundit

In the midst of intra-party fighting among Democrats, President Trump jumped in to bash “the Squad” for their anti-American rhetoric.

Some immediately thought the president had blundered, but in reality he succeeded in forcing the entire party to defend its most extreme members — Reps. Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan or Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

“The President won this one,” one Democratic lawmaker in the House told CNN. “What the President has done is politically brilliant. Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks, and the President has now identified the entire party with them.”

Another Democrat said Trump outplayed them by setting the agenda.

“We need to focus on the issues that got [Democrats] here: jobs, health care … instead of the issues the President brings up deliberately. Anything that takes away from bread-and-butter issues is playing into his hands,” said the lawmaker.

Some Democrats are also increasingly frustrated with the four lawmakers, who have been front and center during a contentious fight over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border. Ocasio-Cortez claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was being racist as she snubbed “The Squad” and backed moderate Democrats. That led to fiery criticism from several of the four lawmakers, which has “annoyed” some Democrats.

“I can’t tell you the number of members who are angry and annoyed about them criticizing us,” said one House Democrat.

“Less than two weeks ago when members of our caucus were trying to support funds for children at the border,” progressives were arguing that “we’re pro-putting kids in cages, we’re against human rights. So there’s frustration,” said another House Democrat.

Trump kicked off the battle with several posts on Twitter over the weekend.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!” the president tweeted.

Trump later revealed his strategy, writing, “The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four progressives, but now they are forced to embrace them. That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”

via House Democrat Says Trump ‘Politically Brilliant’ For Targeting ‘The Squad’ — The Gateway Pundit

Homosexuality and the American Church | CARM

image

In any era and in any culture, certain sins arise and take hold of public thought, calling for a Christian response. When Paul entered Athens, he saw how pervasive their idolatry was. It so provoked his spirit that he proclaimed the truth to anyone who would listen, (Acts 17:16-17). Their idolatry was sinful and dangerous. To a large extent, what idols were to Athens, sexual sins are to our culture today. These days, it seems impossible to go anywhere or watch anything without being exposed to some sexual immorality. As Christians, we can’t remain silent. While most sexual sins are regarded as acceptable in today’s world, homosexuality is celebrated and literally paraded around as something good. Not only that, its advocates wield considerable political and corporate influence which they use to silence anyone who dares speak against homosexuality. Some street preachers and evangelists have even been arrested for speaking against it. Unopposed, things are only going to get worse.

Unfortunately, many pastors and evangelical leaders have begun to equivocate or back down altogether. On a recent Apologetics Live podcast, our own Matt Slick along with Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity discussed this issue in detail and the importance of a strong Christian response. You can listen to that conversation HERE.

We must pray for the opportunity to present God’s truth. We must be wise when confronting homosexuality because the unbelievers have gained so much power. But, we are also obligated to speak the truth in love. Are you willing to do that?

Check out CARMs articles on homosexuality, which address issues like:

July 18, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

2. The Prophet now turns his discourse to the godly; and hence it appears more clearly that he has been hitherto threatening those gross hypocrites who arrogated sanctity to themselves alone, while yet they were continuing to provoke God’s wrath; for he evidently addresses some different from those previously spoken of, when he says, Arise to you, &c.; he separates those who feared God, or the true servants of God, from that multitude with whom he has been hitherto contending. Arise, then, to you who fear my name, &c.

There is to be noticed here a contrast; for the body of the people were infected as it were with a general contagion, but God had preserved a few uncontaminated. As then he had been hitherto contending with the greatest part of the people, so he now gathers as it were apart the chosen few, and promises to them Christ as the author of salvation. For the godly, we know, trembled at threatenings, and would have almost fainted, had not God mitigated them. Whenever he denounced vengeance on sinners, the greater part either mocked, or became angry, at least were not duly impressed. Thus it happens that while God is thundering, the ungodly go on securely in their sinful courses; but the godly tremble at a word, and would be altogether cast down, were not God to apply a remedy.

Hence our Prophet softens the severity of the threatening which we have observed; as though he had said, that he had not announced the coming of Christ as terrible for the purpose of filling pious souls with fear, (for it was not spoken to them,) but only of terrifying the ungodly. The sum of the whole is briefly this—“Hearken ye,” he says, “who fear God; for I have a different word for you, and that is, that the Sun of righteousness shall arise, which will bring healing in its wings. Let those despisers of God then perish, who, though they carry on war with him, yet seek to have him as it were bound to them; but raise ye up your heads, and patiently look for that day, and with the hope of it calmly bear your troubles.” We now understand the import of this verse.

There is indeed no doubt but that Malachi calls Christ the Sun of righteousness; and a most suitable term it is, when we consider how the condition of the fathers differed from ours. God has always given light to his Church, but Christ brought the full light, according to what Isaiah teaches us, “On thee shall Jehovah arise, and the glory of God shall be seen in thee.” (Is. 60:12.) This can be applied to none but to Christ. Again he says, “Behold darkness shall cover the earth,” &c.; “shine on thee shall Jehovah;” and farther, “There shall be now no sun by day nor moon by night; but God alone shall give thee light.” (Is. 60:19.) All these words show that Sun is a name appropriate to Christ; for God the Father has given a much clearer light in the person of Christ than formerly by the law, and by all the appendages of the law. And for this reason also is Christ called the light of the world; not that the fathers wandered as the blind in darkness, but that they were content with the dawn only, or with the moon and stars. We indeed know how obscure was the doctrine of the law, so that it may truly be said to be shadowy. When therefore the heavens became at length opened and clear by means of the gospel, it was through the rising of the Sun, which brought the full day; and hence it is the peculiar office of Christ to illuminate. And on this account it is said in the first chapter of John, that he was from the beginning the true light, which illuminates every man that cometh into the world, and yet that it was a light shining in darkness; for some sparks of reason continue in men, however blinded they are become through the fall of Adam and the corruption of nature. But Christ is peculiarly called light with regard to the faithful, whom he delivers from the blindness in which all are involved by nature, and whom he undertakes to guide by his Spirit.

The meaning then of the word sun, when metaphorically applied to Christ, is this,—that he is called a sun, because without him we cannot but wander and go astray, but that by his guidance we shall keep in the right way; and hence he says, “He who follows me walks not in darkness.” (John 8:12.)

But we must observe that this is not to be confined to the person of Christ, but extended to the gospel. Hence Paul says, “Awake thou who sleepest, and rise from darkness, and Christ shall illuminate thee.” (Eph. 5:14.) Christ then daily illuminates us by his doctrine and his Spirit; and though we see him not with our eyes, yet we find by experience that he is a sun.

He is called the sun of righteousness, either because of his perfect rectitude, in whom there is nothing defective, or because the righteousness of God is conspicuous in him: and yet, that we may know the light, derived from him, which proceeds from him to us and irradiates us, we are not to regard the transient concerns of this life, but what belongs to the spiritual life. The first thing is, that Christ performs towards us the office of a sun, not to guide our feet and hands as to what is earthly, but that he brings light to us, to show the way to heaven, and that by its means we may come to the enjoyment of a blessed and eternal life. We must secondly observe, that this spiritual light cannot be separated from righteousness; for how does Christ become our sun? It is by regenerating us by his Spirit into righteousness, by delivering us from the pollutions of the world, by renewing us after the image of God. We now then see the import of the word righteousness.

He adds, And healing in its wings. He gives the name of wings to the rays of the sun; and this comparison has much beauty, for it is taken from nature, and most fitly applied to Christ. There is nothing, we know, more cheering and healing than the rays of the sun; for ill-savour would soon overwhelm us, even within a day, were not the sun to purge the earth from its dregs; and without the sun there would be no respiration. We also feel a sort of relief at the rising of the sun; for the night is a kind of burden. When the sun sets, we feel as it were a heaviness in all our members; and the sick are exhilarated in the morning and experience a change from the influence of the sun; for it brings to us healing in its wing. But the Prophet has expressed what is still more,—that a clear sun in a serene sky brings healing; for there is an implied opposition between a cloudy or stormy time and a clear and bright season. During time of serenity we are far more cheerful, whether we be in health or in sickness; and there is no one who does not derive some cheerfulness from the serenity of the heavens: but when it is cloudy, even the most healthy feels some inconvenience.

According to this view Malachi now says, that there would be healing in the wings of Christ, inasmuch as many evils were to be borne by the true servants of God; for if we consider the history of those times, it will appear that the condition of that people was most grievous. He now promises a change to them; for the restoration of the Church would bring them joy. See then in what way he meant there would be healing in the wings of Christ; for the darkness would be dissipated, and the heavens would be free from clouds, so as to exhilarate the minds of the godly.

By calling the godly those who fear God, he adopts the common language of Scripture; for we have said that the chief part of righteousness and holiness consists in the true worship of God: but something new is here expressed; for this fear is what peculiarly belongs to true religion, so that men submit to God, though he is invisible, though he does not address them face to face, though he does not openly show his hand armed with scourges. When therefore men of their own accord reverence the glory of God, and acknowledge that the world is governed by him, and that they are under his authority, this is a real evidence of true religion: and this is what the Prophet means by name. Hence they who fear the name of God, desire not to draw him down from heaven, nor seek manifest signs of his presence, but suffer their faith to be thus tried, so that they adore and worship God, though they see him not face to face, but only through a mirror and that darkly, and also through the displays of his power, justice, and other attributes, which are evident before our eyes.

prayer

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast appointed thine only-begotten Son to be like a sun to us, we may not be blind, so as not to see his brightness; and that since he is pleased to guide us daily into the way of salvation, may we follow him and never be detained by any of the impediments of this world, so as not to pursue after that celestial life to which thou invitest us; and that as thou hast promised that he is to come and gather us into the eternal inheritance, may we not in the meantime grow wanton, but on the contrary watch with diligence and be ever attentively looking for him; and may we not reject the favour which thou hast been pleased to offer us in him, and thus grow torpid in our dregs, but on the contrary be stimulated to fear thy name and truly to worship thee, until we shall at length obtain the fruit of our faith and piety, when he shall appear again for our final redemption, even that sun which has already appeared to us, in order that we might not remain involved in darkness, but hold on our way in the midst of darkness, even the way which leads us to heaven.—Amen.

Lecture One Hundred and Eighty-Second

Malachi, after having said that the Sun of righteousness would arise on the Jews, now adds that it would be for their joy, for as sorrow lays hold on the faithful when they are without Christ, or when they think him far removed from them, so his favour is their chief happiness and real joy. Hence the angel when he made known to the shepherds that Christ was born, thus introduces his message, “Behold, I declare to you great joy.” (Luke 2:10.)

Now though the comparison might seem rather unnatural, yet it was not without reason that the Prophet said that the Jews would be like fattened calves, for the change of which he speaks was incredible; hence it was necessary that the subject should be stated in a very homely manner, that they might entertain hope.

There is in the words going forth, an implied contrast, for anxiety had long held them as it were captives, but now they were to go forth and be at liberty, according to what takes place when things change for the better; we then openly declare our joy to one another, and we seek as it were a wide place for giving vent to our feelings. We now see why the Prophet says that the Jews would go forth: they had been before confined as it were within narrow limits, but God would now give them occasion for rejoicing, according to what Paul says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17.) It follows—[1]


20 (2)  The Day of the Lord will be “the ultimate stroke of judgment” for the evildoers (v. 19 [Eng. 4:1]), but at the same time “the crown of salvation” for those who revere the name of God (vv. 20, 21 [4:2, 3]). On the one hand his judgment will burn like a furnace, but on the other hand his righteousness will shine forth like the sun. On this “day” the distinction between the righteous and the wicked (v. 18) will reach its climax.

This verse is one of the most significant texts in the prophecy of Malachi. At the same time it represents an exegetical labyrinth for the interpreter.

The direct speech (lāḵem, “for you”) probably refers to v. 16. The addressees are “those who feared the Lord.” The initial waw is interpreted either as “then” or as “but.” We prefer, along with most interpreters and nearly all modem versions, the adversative meaning: But for you who revere my name. The crux of the interpretation is what the shining forth of the sun of righteousness really means.

This problem has a number of aspects. First, the specific relationship between the words sun and righteousness. There are several possibilities. The word “sun” can be seen as an accusative of condition, explicating the manner in which the righteousness will shine forth, namely “like a sun.” This interpretation, incidentally, will in a way explain the inconsistency between the masculine “sun” and the feminine verb, “shine forth.” The second possible interpretation is to explain the relationship between the two words as a genitivus epexegeticus or appositionis. “Righteousness” is here the subject and “sun” the nearer definition. If one wants to appreciate the “righteousness” one will have to visualize the “shining sun.”

The rendering of the ancient versions assumes a genitive relationship: “the sun of righteousness.” The LXX has hḗlios dikaiosýnēs, and the Vulgate sol iustitiae. A number of scholars agree with this interpretation but differ in their explanation of this genitive. According to Calvin, et al., it is a genitive of quality: the sun that consists of righteousness. Cocceius, et al., consider the genitive to be a genitive of working: the sun that produces righteousness. A third explanation regards the genitive as one of definition: the sun which is righteousness. In all these explanations the emphasis is on the sun, with “righteousness” as a nearer description of it.

We prefer the point of view according to which righteousness must be regarded as the key word, and sun to be its nearer definition. On the Day of the Lord righteousness will become apparent just like the shining sun in all its brightness and blessedness. The same idea is found in Ps. 37:6: “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (NIV). In Isa. 58:8 we read: “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard” (NIV).

Interpreters again differ concerning whether righteousness is to be explained in the sense of a person or of matter. According to most ancient interpreters the “righteousness” here represents the Messiah, either as Christ incarnate or in his function as Judge of the world, or as both. The second interpretation, which was introduced by Theodore of Mopsuestia, has become the generally accepted one. That which those who fear the Lord will acquire on his day is righteousness as a blazing sun. In this OT key word everything worthwhile will become the possession of those who revere God’s name.

The literature concerning “righteousness” as a key concept in the OT is extensive. In this specific form eḏāqâ occurs 155 times in the OT. In the history of its interpretation we have two main definitions. The fundamental idea of the word suggests, on the one hand, the conformation with a specific norm, and on the other hand, the conformation with a certain relationship. According to the first interpretation “righteousness” means to act rightly in terms of the norm that is set by a specific community, while the second definition emphasizes the importance of the relationship within the community; in this case “righteousness” is the performing of the obligations of that relationship.

In trying to establish the semantic domain of this concept we must not confine it to one or another aspect eḏāqâ is primarily a forensic term, but this does not exclude its religious and ethical meaning. These distinctions are more Western than biblical. We agree with the statement that “the covenant idea is the ‘emotive force’ (H. Sperber) or the ‘predominant thought-trend’ (J. Schwietering) which provided the dynamic for the semantic expansion and development of the word.” In our text “righteousness” is an aspect of the coming day, and as such a gift of God to the pious ones. Thus it is primarily something positive, in the sense of restoring justice and bringing about salvation. We agree with Vriezen that “righteousness” in this positive sense “aims at restoring the law that has been infringed first of all by saving the one who had suffered by the violation of the law and on the other side by punishing the one who had made somebody else suffer.”27 Both aspects of the ambivalent meaning of “righteousness” are implied in our text, but the emphasis is now on the positive aspect of deliverance and salvation in the most comprehensive sense of these words. This “righteousness” on the Day of the Lord will not merely be “external” (Hitzig), or “objective,” denoting the “right” of God (De Moor), but will be fully experienced in all its significance and consequences, including the full scope of God’s salvation on behalf of his pious remnant.

To appreciate the real meaning of this promise, we must consider three components of the context. The first is the simile of the sun. The thrust of the comparison is not that it will become fully day for the righteous, but rather that the light of the sun is representing the fullness of God’s salvation for them. In this metaphor we have two emphases: on the comprehensiveness and on the nature of God’s righteousness for those who fear him. It will shine forth not like a little candle in the night, but as the sun in its blazing fullness; furthermore, it will not bring darkness but shining light, in the sense of salvation and deliverance.

The last-named aspect of the promise is confirmed in the second component of the context, there will be healing. The Hebrew word marpēʾ can be translated as “peace” or “healing” (Jer. 14:19; 33:6; Prov. 4:22; 12:18; 13:17; 16:24; 29:1; 2 Chr. 21:18; 36:16). The latter is the meaning in our text. The rendering of the LXX is íasis, “healing,” and of the Vulgate sanitas. The semantic domain of this word is comprehensive. It is not only the opposite of “disease” (2 Chr. 21:18, 19) but also of “disaster” (Prov. 6:15) and “trouble” (Prov. 13:17). A synonym for “healing” is the Hebrew word ʾarûḵâ, meaning that new flesh has been growing on a wounded spot, that the wound has been healed (Isa. 55:8; Jer. 8:22; 30:17; 33:6). “Healing” is also parallel to “abundant peace” (Jer. 33:6, NIV) and “life” (Prov. 4:22). In Jer. 17:14 the prophet’s prayer is: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved.” The same relationship between repentance and healing is found in Hos. 6:1: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken and he will bind us up.” In Ps. 6:3 (Eng. 2) David besought the Lord: “Be gracious to me,” and “heal me.” That which Israel’s leaders neglected to do (Jer. 6:14; Zech. 11:16) will be done by the Servant of the Lord: in preaching the good news to the poor he will bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners (Isa. 61:1). Through his vicarious suffering the Servant of the Lord will reconcile his people: “by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). “In this pregnant saying OT religion transcends itself and reaches its climax.”

In the eschatological context of Mal. 3:20 (Eng. 4:2) it will not be overloading the meaning of the word “healing” to suggest that all or most of the above-named elements must be incorporated in its interpretation. The righteousness of God for his pious ones will cause their “healing” in the most comprehensive sense of the word. The thousand wounds that were inflicted upon them by the evildoers will be covered by new flesh; the “disaster” and “trouble” that were caused by their sins will be removed, and they will be reconciled; their whole existence will be radically changed and will be characterized by “abundant peace” and real “life.” This “healing” ultimately will be the consequence of the vicarious suffering of the Servant of the Lord.

in its wings. Most interpreters combine the figurative use of the wings of a bird with the rays of the sun, while attaching to it alternative meanings, for instance, as symbol of protection with reference to a hen and her chickens (Luther), or of rapid movement (Reinke), while the majority of interpreters follow Wellhausen in his reference to the comparable motif of the sun depicted as a winged disk in Near Eastern religion and culture. The similarity between the “wings” of the sun- righteousness and the winged disk of Israel’s Umwelt is indeed remarkable. In the astral religions of the ancient Near East the sun did play a major role. The sun-god Shamash was the god of righteousness and the protector of the poor. The possibility of such an association in the metaphor of our text with similar notions in the religion and culture of that time cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, there is an aspect that we must not forget. The sun disk of the Assyrians and Persians was a symbol of dominion and therefore a sign of violence and destruction. Under the wings of Malachi’s sun no violence or destruction will be found, but healing, redemption, everlasting life, and peace.

An interesting explanation is offered by C. van Gelderen in his commentary on Hos. 4:19. According to him the figurative meaning of “wings” is not derived from birds but from a common practice among the Jews. A person’s “wing” was also the fold in his garment, in which money or other precious things were stored (cf. Num. 15:38; 1 Sam. 15:27; 24:5, 6, 12; Jer. 2:34; Ezek. 5:3; Hos. 4:19; Hag. 2:12; Zech. 8:23; cf, also JPSV note). According to this interpretation the shining sun of righteousness has a precious article in the fold of his garment, namely, healing in the all-inclusive sense of the word.

An additional component of the context is that the pious ones will rejoice exceedingly. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Interpreters have tried to establish both the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of this going out of the addressees. The alternative points of departure which were suggested are “this world” (de hoc saeculo, Jerome), “the burial places” (Cappellus), the durae angustiae, “the experienced catastrophes” (Calvin, Halevy, with reference to Ps. 107:28), “the hideouts of the people” (Driver), “out of their bondage” (Hitzig). The answers to the second question, “Whereto?”, usually correspond to those of the separate alternatives in connection with the first question, “Wherefrom?” Ibn Ezra’s view is “to the light of the sun.” Von Bulmerincq suggests “to meet her,” that is, the righteousness.

The problem with all these and similar interpretations is that the point of reference in connection with the “movement” is not so much that of the pious ones but that of the calves. Those who feared the Lord will be similar to fattened and therefore lively calves that are released from the stall and are leaping and tramping about in overriding joy. The point of comparison is not the going out of the calves but their expression of joy. The meaning of the Hebrew verb pôš is “playfully paw the ground” (cf. Jer. 50:11; Hab. 1:8). The expression “calves from the stall” in this form is also found in Jer. 46:21, where it is rendered “fattened calves” (NIV). The righteousness as a shining sun on the Day of the Lord will also cause the pious ones to rejoice exuberantly.[2]


2 This verse continues the contrast between the fate of the wicked (3:19) and the fate of the righteous, “who fear my name” (yirʾê šəmî; cf. 3:16—“Yahweh-fearers,” yirʾê yhwh). Malachi 3:20 addresses the Yahweh-fearers in particular, using lākem, for you. The future actions on behalf of the righteous in 3:20 correspond with the Deity’s response in the rest of the book of Malachi (cf. Ps 112:1). Accordingly, the prophet notes that the priests despised (bāzâ) Yahweh’s name (1:6) but that the name is great (gādôl) and is feared (yārēʾ) among the nations (Mal 1:11, 14). The actions are also consistent with Mal 2:2–3, where a curse will come on those who do not give glory to Yahweh’s name. The exemplar Levi feared (yārēʾ) Yahweh’s name (Mal 2:5). Those who fear Yahweh’s name are characterized by both their actions and what happens to them. It is their fearing or reverencing of Yahweh that distinguishes them from the wicked and results in Yahweh’s benevolence toward them.

Another element of the contrast is what will happen in the day of Yahweh—so a sun of righteousness will rise for you. The sun of righteousness (šemeš ṣədāqâ) is identified by its actions. First, the sun will rise (zāraḥ). Zāraḥ is typical Hebrew usage for the sun’s appearance (e.g., Gen 32:31; Judg 9:33; 2 Sam 23:4; 2 Kgs 3:22; Jonah 4:8; Nah 3:17; Ps 104:22; Eccl 1:5). The verb zāraḥ is also used in Mal 1:11 with the formulation “from the rising of the sun until its setting” to denote continuous activity (cf. Pss 50:1; 113:3; Isa 41:25). The formulation “sun of righteousness,” however, is unique to Mal 3:20. Nevertheless, some propose that the imagery of the leader as a solar luminary is not unique. The mode of the rising is depicted with reference to its wings—healing in its wings (marpēʾ biknāpêhā). The “healing” (marpēʾ) refers to the wings’ restorative effect. The healing addresses diseases, disasters, brokenness, and anything that distracts from wholeness. Thus, despair is manifested by lack of healing (cf. Jer 14:19; Prov 6:14–15; 2 Chr 21:18; 36:16). Healing, however, is manifested by prosperity and security (Isa 19:22; 57:18; Jer 30:17; 33:6). The imagery of the sun seems to belong to the Near Eastern “description of the winged sun disk,”570 which brings to mind the royal figure of the king as the protector of right order and justice (cf. Ps 72). Even so, various Old Testament images of Yahweh as the sun might more readily facilitate our understanding of “sun of righteousness” here in Mal 3:20. For example, in Ps 84:11 (MT 12), Yahweh is šemeš ûmāgēn, “sun and shield”:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Ps 84:11[12] NRSV)

In Isa 60:19–20 Yahweh will be the people’s light so that they have no need for the sun; Yahweh will be their sun.

The wing (kānāp) as a place of refuge referring to Yahweh’s protection also portrays a clear picture of Yahweh’s future acts on behalf of Yahweh-fearers (cf. Pss 17:8; 36:7 [MT 8]; 57:1 [MT 2]; 61:4 [MT 5]; 63:7 [MT 8]; 91:4; Ruth 2:12). Accordingly, one might consider Yahweh to be the sun and the protective imagery as being manifested in healing and restoration.574 God both heals and devastates, depending on the circumstances and the people involved (Deut 32:39; Isa 19:22; Job 5:18). Here in Mal 4:2 (MT 3:20), healing is not for all but for those who fear Yahweh.

The rising of a “sun of righteousness” on behalf of the God-fearers will result in their vitality: and you will go forth and prance about like fatted calves. The benefactors of the sun of righteousness will be alive and hopeful. They will not suffer under the weight of adversity but will be vital. They will “go out” (yāṣāʾ) and “prance about” (pûš). Also used of calves in Jer 50:11, the Hebrew word pûš denotes carefree existence and playfulness, rather than subduing another being (cf. Hab 1:8). In Mal 3:20 the Yahweh-fearers will be like young, lively calves (ʿēgel). Elsewhere, the noun ʿēgel (singular or plural), “calf/calves,” is modified by marbēq (fatted or stall) to characterize them as “fatted” (1 Sam 28:24; Jer 46:21). In Amos 6:4, the plural form ʿăgālîm, “calves,” occurs in parallelism with lambs from the flock, suggesting that marbēq has the meaning of “stall.” In Mal 4:2 (MT 3:20), the language of fatted calves connotes the vitality of the calves and their freedom.

(c) The Wicked (4:3 [MT 3:21])[3]


It will be a day of joy and triumph for the righteous (vv. 2–3)

That same day will bring unspeakable joy to the people of God. On that day, ‘the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings’ (v. 2). The Lord Jesus, who often seems in eclipse, will shine forth in all his brilliance. And his ‘wings’ (‘rays’) will touch all his people, bringing warmth and healing them of all their diseases.

On that day, the people of God will be like calves, who having been released into the sunshine from their dingy stalls, kick up their heels in sheer exuberance.

And on that day, the righteous will be vindicated. Those who are so often trampled by the wicked here will triumph over them then.[4]


4:2–3 / The salvation promise in 4:2–3 is for the Godfearers of 3:16 and for every subsequent believer. God addresses them together as you who revere my name, that is, “you who fear the Lord.” They will have no cause to be afraid in “the day” (4:1) when the Lord acts (cf. Isa. 33:5–6). That day will be for judgment (4:1, 3; cf. Joel 1:12–14; 3:1–16; Amos 5:18–20; Zeph. 1:14–2:3; Zech. 14) and also for healing (Deut. 32:39).

The rising of the sun of righteousness … with healing in its wings makes use of a common symbol of deity in the ancient Near East, the sun disc with wings. Explicit sun imagery for Yahweh is very rare in the ot (Ps. 84:11 is one exception). In fact, in some of the prophecies in Isaiah God’s glory outshines or replaces the sun and moon (24:23; 60:17–22). Isaiah 35:1–7 promises that the glory of the Lord will be seen and the Lord will come to save and heal (Matt. 11:3–5 describes Jesus’ ministry in similar terms). The sun image in Malachi 3:2 is specifically a picture of God’s righteousness (tsedaqah). “Justice” (mishpat) and “salvation” (from the root yshʿ) are the words most often paired with righteousness in the ot. God establishes justice by putting things right and thereby saves the needy and oppressed (e.g., Mic. 7:8–10). This is God’s requirement for human kings (2 Sam. 23:3–4; Jer. 22:2–3, 15–16; Ezek. 45:9) and the way the promised Messiah will reign (Jer. 23:5–6). In Luke 1:76–79, Zechariah the priest applies Malachi 4:2 to Christ, “the rising sun will come to us from heaven … to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Malachi calls the result of righteousness rising “healing” (marpeʾ), a rare word used in Jeremiah to characterize the restoration of life and wholeness to the land and people after its devastation at the hands of the Babylonians. It is associated with peace, security, and the absence of terror (Jer. 33:6; 8:15). The simile of calves released from the stall fits this scene of fecundity, freedom from enemies, and other reasons for thanksgiving. The calf let out of the stall where it was fattening for slaughter is also a symbol of escape from death (3:17).

The context of Malachi 4:1–3 makes clear that the God-fearers will not themselves destroy the wicked by trampling them underfoot. The simile of 4:2 does not extend into verse 3 as a cattle stampede. Those who in the end suffer divine judgment will be reduced to ashes (4:1). The action of the God-fearers in 4:3 is not a vengeful gesture but rather evidence of freedom from danger. Like calves who go out and leap they will be free to enjoy fullness of life in the safe pasture that the Lord will provide.[5]


2. The effect of the judgment on the righteous, as contrasted with its effect on the wicked (Mal 4:1). To the wicked it shall be as an oven that consumes the stubble (Mt 6:30); to the righteous it shall be the advent of the gladdening Sun, not of condemnation, but “of righteousness”; not destroying, but “healing” (Je 23:6).

you that fear my name—The same as those in Mal 3:16, who confessed God amidst abounding blasphemy (Is 66:5; Mt 10:32). The spiritual blessings brought by Him are summed up in the two, “righteousness” (1 Co 1:30) and spiritual “healing” (Ps 103:3; Is 57:19). Those who walk in the dark now may take comfort in the certainty that they shall walk hereafter in eternal light (Is 50:10).

in his wings—implying the winged swiftness with which He shall appear (compare “suddenly,” Mal 3:1) for the relief of His people. The beams of the Sun are His “wings.” Compare “wings of the morning,” Ps 139:9. The “Sun” gladdening the righteous is suggested by the previous “day” of terror consuming the wicked. Compare as to Christ, 2 Sa 23:4; Ps 84:11; Lu 1:78; Jn 1:9; 8:12; Eph 5:14; and in His second coming, 2 Pe 1:19. The Church is the moon reflecting His light (Rev 12:1). The righteous shall by His righteousness “shine as the Sun in the kingdom of the Father” (Mt 13:43).

ye shall go forth—from the straits in which you were, as it were, held captive. An earnest of this was given in the escape of the Christians to Pella before the destruction of Jerusalem.

grow up—rather, “leap” as frisking calves [Calvin]; literally, “spread,” “take a wide range.”

as calves of the stall—which when set free from the stall disport with joy (Ac 8:8; 13:52; 20:24; Ro 14:17; Ga 5:22; Php 1:4; 1 Pe 1:8). Especially the godly shall rejoice at their final deliverance at Christ’s second coming (Is 61:10).[6]


Ver. 2.—The Sun of Righteousness. The sun which is righteousness, in whose wings, that is, rays, are healing and salvation. This Divine righteousness shall beam upon them that fear the Name of God, flooding them with joy and light, healing all wounds, removing all miseries, making them incalculably blessed. The Fathers generally apply the title of “Sun of Righteousness” to Christ, who is the Source of all justification and enlightenment and happiness, and who is called (Jer. 23:6), “The Lord our Righteousness.” Grow up; rather, gambol; σκιρτήσετε (Septuagint); salietis (Vulgate). “Ye shall leap!” comp. Jer. 50:11). The word is used of a horse galloping (Hab. 1:8). The happiness of the righteous is illustrated by a homely image drawn from pastoral pursuits. They had been, as it were, hidden in the time of affliction and temptation; they shall go forth boldly now, free and exulting, like calves driven from the stall to pasture (comp. Ps. 114:4, 6; Cant. 2:8, 17).[7]


4:2–3. When God judges the world, He will also remember those who feared Him. Contrasting the blazing heat that will burn the wicked, God promises the faithful that the sun of righteousness will arise, bringing its warm rays of healing in its wings (4:2). This is often considered a messianic verse. Yet in light of the feminine forms (she will arise with healing in her wings) and the association with kingdom conditions (Is 35:6; 60:1–3; Hs 14:4–7; Am 9:13–15; Zph 3:19–20), it is better to see it using the healing warmth of the sun as a picture of God’s comfort of the righteous in the morning portion of the day of the Lord. Not only will God heal the faithful, He will grant them vindication, so that they tread down the wicked in the day of the Lord.[8]


4:2. The day of the Lord, which will be like a fire to the wicked, will in contrast be like sunshine to God’s people. The phrase the sun of righteousness appears only here in Scripture. Though many commentators have taken these words to refer to Christ, the phrase seems to refer to the day of the Lord in general. In the kingdom, righteousness will pervade like the sun. Healing (marpē’, “health or restoration”) in its wings (or rays) refers to the restorative powers of righteousness, which are like the healthful rays of the sun. God’s people will be spiritually restored and renewed.

The righteous are described as you who revere My name (cf. comments on “My name” in 1:6). “Revere” translates the same Hebrew word rendered “fear” in 3:5 and “feared” in 1:14; 3:16. Revering God contrasts with saying “harsh things” against God (3:13). The fact that the righteous rather than the wicked are personally addressed indicates the Lord’s contempt for the wicked as much as His love for His own. The figure of calves enjoying open pasture after being cooped up in a pen (stall) expresses the future satisfaction and joy of the righteous (cf. Isa. 65:17–25; Hosea 14:4–7; Amos 9:13–15; Zeph. 3:19–20).[9]


[1] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets (Vol. 5, pp. 616–622). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Verhoef, P. A. (1987). The Books of Haggai and Malachi (pp. 327–332). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Jacobs, M. R. (2017). The Books of Haggai and Malachi. (E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (pp. 321–323). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Ellsworth, R. (2007). Opening up Malachi (pp. 86–87). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[5] Goldingay, J., & Scalise, P. J. (2012). Minor Prophets II. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 360–361). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 741). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Malachi (pp. 60–61). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[8] Rydelnik, M. A. (2014). Malachi. In The moody bible commentary (p. 1445). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[9] Blaising, C. A. (1985). Malachi. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1587). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

July 18, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump, who has made religious freedom a centerpiece of his foreign policy, met on Wednesday with victims of religious persecution from countries including China, Turkey, North Korea, Iran and Myanmar.

Argentinian authorities ordered the freezing of Hezbollah assets in the country on Thursday and effectively designated the Lebanese Islamist group, which it blames for two attacks on its soil, a terrorist organization.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday called China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority the “stain of the century” and accused Beijing of pressuring countries not to attend a U.S.-hosted conference on religious freedom.

A man shouted “die” as he doused an animation studio with fuel and set it ablaze in Japan on Thursday, public broadcaster NHK said, killing at least 33 people in the nation’s worst mass murder in nearly two decades.

European law enforcement agencies set to lose the ability to tap criminals’ mobile devices with the launch of 5G technology must be brought into discussions earlier when communications networks are modernized, the new head of Europol told Reuters.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has seized a foreign ship smuggling fuel in the Gulf, state television quoted Iran’s elite force as saying in a statement on Thursday.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits increased moderately last week, pointing to still strong labor market conditions despite signs that economic activity was slowing. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 for the week ended July 13.

President Donald Trump presented a bill to his Cabinet aimed at boosting border security and overhauling the current immigration system to make it more merit-based.

AP Top Stories

A new policy to deny asylum to anyone who shows up on the Mexican border after traveling through another country threatens to exacerbate overcrowding at severely strained U.S. immigration detention centers and makeshift holding areas.

A woman who was found alive after spending four days alone in the California wilderness said she got lost after a man with a knife threatened her and her dog.

Thousands of Philippine police officers have received administrative punishments with more than 2,000 dismissed for wrongdoings during raids where drug suspects were killed under the president’s crackdown, officials said Thursday. 14,724 police were investigated for their involvement in police drug operations that led to deaths from July 2016 until last April, 7,867 of them received administrative punishments for unspecified lapses.

An upcoming heat wave could lead to power outages in the central and eastern U.S., including the major metropolitan areas of New York City, Washington and Chicago, experts say.

The latest in a series of leftward leaps by unions came last week with the National Education Association’s full-throated endorsement of abortion.

The increased use of drones by Iran and its allies for surveillance and attacks across the Middle East is raising alarms in Washington. The United States believes that Iran-linked militia in Iraq have recently increased their surveillance of American troops and bases in the country by using off-the-shelf, commercially available drones.

Russia has sent Special Forces in recent days to fight alongside Syrian army troops in northwestern Syria where they have been struggling for more than two months to seize the last opposition bastion, senior rebel commanders said.

A pair of twins born conjoined at the head are recovering at home after a team of doctors performed more than 50 hours of surgery to separate them, a London hospital announced Friday.

Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) will introduce a resolution this week declaring support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to elevate the Palestinian negotiating position vis-a-vis Israel through an international pressure campaign.

India will identify and deport illegal immigrants from across the country, the interior minister said on Wednesday, stepping up a campaign that critics say could stoke religious tension and further alienate minority Muslims.

The planet’s most northerly human settlement is in the midst of an “unprecedented” heatwave as parts of the Arctic endure one of their hottest summers on record.

BBC

Time is running out to save a key nuclear missile treaty with Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has told the BBC. Mr. Stoltenberg pledged a “measured, defensive” response if Russia did not come back into compliance with the deal by the 2 August deadline.

Drug overdose deaths in the US have fallen for the first time since 1999. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed a drop of 5.1% in 2018 from the year before.

Instagram is hiding the number of likes on posts in several countries, including Australia and Japan, in order to “remove pressure” on users.

A Nigerian imam, who saved 262 Christians from killer herdsman by hiding them in his mosque and home, has been honored by the US government.

WND

A study conducted at the University of Calgary has found a previously unidentified cell population located very close to the human heart capable of healing injured heart muscles. This new cell, a Gata6+ pericardial cavity macrophage, is located in the fluid found inside the sac around the heart. It was first discovered and tested in mice, but after researchers identified its healing properties, they were able to find the same cells located near human hearts.

Mexican military personnel have made an ‘incursion’ into U.S. territory, according to an American border official.


Mid-Day Snapshot · July 18, 2019

The Foundation

“Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself.” —Thomas Jefferson (1825)

‘The Squad’ Deserves Trump’s Ire

That big debate continues to rage between Donald Trump and Democrats.


Sanders Says ‘Medicare for All’ Would Top $40T

This cost estimate equates to the entirety of the federal government’s current spending.


Inflated Egos Require Inflated Grades

Studies show that the average grade has gone from a C to an A, not because of merit.


Dems Allege Racism After DOJ’s Garner Decision

DOJ decides to the drop civil-rights case against NYPD Officer Pantaleo.


The Left’s Moderation of Conservative Media

“They are relentless and use Gestapo tactics.”


Businessman Gives Motorized Wheelchairs to 580 People

“These chairs offer a way for people to live an independent life.”


Video: ‘The Squad’ Is Crashing Pelosi’s Party

“Immature females seem to be driving the Democrats’ bus at the moment.”


Video: Anti-White Discrimination Is Escalating

Sydney Watson points to a Detroit festival charging more for tickets for white people.



Today’s Opinion

Gary Bauer
High Drama on Capitol Hill
Rich Lowry
Ilhan Omar Is Completely Assimilated
Victor Davis Hanson
The War Over America’s Past Is Really About Its Future
Cal Thomas
America: Love It or Leave It (Again)
Kay Coles James
The High Cost of ‘Free’ College Tuition
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Thursday Top News Executive Summary

Impeachment flop, contempt vote, drug impacts, Turkey embargo, natural-gas ban, and more.


Thursday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Joe Lockhart, John Kennedy, and more.



Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

News – 7/18/2019

Putin says Russia ready to restore ties with EU
Vladimir Putin said that Moscow expects to rebuild partnerships and launch constructive dialogues with the European Union (EU) after the European Commission elected its new president, the Kremlin said Wednesday. In a congratulatory message to Ursula von der Leyen on her election as the president of the European Commission, Putin said that her rich political experience and international standing will contribute to the European Commission’s constructive work and help “restore the equal and mutually beneficial partnership between the EU and Russia,”

Expect a War Between Russia and China in the 2020s
Notwithstanding the seeming friendship between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the growing congruence of both countries’ interests in undermining the US-led international order, relations between Russia and China remain at their core as brittle and prone to mutual suspicion and distrust as they have in the past. It is not unreasonable to expect that that underlying animosity will erupt into violence in the relatively near future. China – which contains a billion-and-a-half people – not only dwarfs Mother Russia in population, national power, and economic might.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink plans its first brain chip implants for next year
More than two years have passed since the world caught wind of Elon Musk’s Neuralink, an ambitious and mysterious startup focused on developing brain-machine interfaces that can connect minds to machines. Not a lot has been revealed since, but the company today emerged from the shadows to share its progress so far, along with its plans for the future, which involve implanting its first chips in human as early next year.

Trump Slams AOC’s ‘Squad’ As “The Four Horsewomen Of The Apocalypse”
In a string of tweets, Trump quotes Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, who blasts the members of the “squad” – AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – as “left wing cranks” and “the four horsewomen of the apocalypse.” Kennedy blasted the Congresswomen as irredeemably dumb (“they’re the reason there are directions on a shampoo bottle”) and lamented the fact that Democratic presidential candidates are “falling over themselves to try and agree” with them.

Threats against members increasing, Capitol Police chief says
House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson sent a letter to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger, who chairs the Capitol Police Board. The Mississippi Democrat requested Stenger to hold an emergency meeting to reexamine the board’s approach to analyzing the risk environment, setting thresholds for enhanced security for certain targeted members and evaluating threat streams with law enforcement partners in member districts.

Prominent California Islamists Praise Imam’s Call to Exterminate Jews
California Muslim cleric Ahmed Billoo, an educator who trains the next generation of imams, advocates for the genocide of Jews, for which he is praised by prominent Islamists in the US. He offered a prayer to deal with the surfeit of Jews in the building: “Oh God, reduce their numbers, exterminate them, and don’t leave a single one alive.” He added the hashtag “Zionists.”

US-Iran envoy says Bahrain to host Gulf maritime security conference
The US said Bahrain will host a maritime security conference to ensure freedom of navigation in the region’s waters. The comments come after Washington said last week it was seeking partners for a military coalition to protect the busy shipping lanes off Iran and Yemen. Brian Hook, the special envoy to Iran, said 65 countries would attend the event, Al-Arabiya reported, which comes amid a heightened threat for shipping in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula.

Speediest quantum operation yet
Australian scientists have linked together two electrons spins embedded in a silicon chip to form a two-qubit gate, the fundamental building block of a quantum computer. The gate is 200 times faster than any other of its type, taking a mere 0.8 nanoseconds to complete an operation, and uses atom-based qubits that are known for their high accuracy and extremely low noise. A lot of people thought this would not be possible. To be able to control nature at its very smallest level so that we can create interactions between two qubits but also individually talk to each qubit without disturbing the other is incredible,”

80 Percent Of Priests In The Vatican Are Gay: New Book-Forgiven By Church!
A large majority of priests in the Vatican are gay, although many are not sexually active, a new book claims. Some of the most senior clerics in the Roman Catholic church who have vociferously attacked homosexuality are themselves gay, according to a book to be published . Eighty per cent of priests working at the Vatican are gay, …

Ebola outbreak in Congo declared a global health emergency
The deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an international health emergency, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday after a case was confirmed in a city of 2 million people . “The reality check is that a year into the epidemic, it’s still not under control, and we are not where we should be,” she said. “We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

Report: Iran, Assad Plotting to Attack Israel
Syrian President Bashar Assad met on Tuesday in Damascus with an unnamed senior Iranian official to discuss ways to cope with Israeli airstrikes in the war-torn country, reported regime-affiliated Syrian newspaper Al-Watan. According to the report, the Iranian official also discussed with Assad the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan and presented Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s plan to contend with it.

Israel bakes as temperature climbs to near-record 49.9°C at biblical Sodom
The highest temperature in the country was recorded on the southern shores of the Dead Sea, near the site of Biblical Sodom, where the mercury hit 49.9° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit), a record for the spot.

Will Netanyahu bar Ilhan Omar from entering Israel?
On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The two freshman congresswomen have become a focal point of the Jewish community after expressing numerous controversial comments regarding Israel and several statements that were deemed anitsemitic.

U.S. to send 500 troops to Saudi Arabia as Iran tensions heat up
The United States is sending 500 troops to the Prince Sultan Air Base east of the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, reported CNN. Some of the troops and support personnel are already at the base preparing for a Patriot missile defense battery and runway and airfield improvements, according to US defense officials. Security assessments have shown that Iranian missiles would have difficulty targeting the base located in a remote area.

Palestinians seek to disengage economically from Israel
Palestinian leaders are spearheading a new effort to reduce their economic dependence on Israel by approaching Arab states for economic cooperation and agreements in a move meant to help counter the…so-called deal of the century peace project. Over the past two weeks, a delegation headed by Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visited Iraq and Jordan, where senior Palestinian officials discussed proposals for new economic understandings…

DR Congo Ebola outbreak declared global health emergency
The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern”. The move may encourage wealthy donor countries to provide more cash. But the WHO stopped short of saying borders should be closed, saying the risk of the disease spreading outside the region was not high.

Nato chief calls on Russia to save INF nuclear missile treaty
Time is running out to save a key nuclear missile treaty with Russia, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has told the BBC. Mr Stoltenberg pledged a “measured, defensive” response if Russia did not come back into compliance with the deal by the 2 August deadline. “We have to be prepared for a world… with more Russian missiles,” he said.

Top secret locations of 150 US nukes hidden in Europe are accidentally leaked in Nato report sparking major security fears
SECRET sites storing 150 US nukes have been accidentally revealed in a Nato report, it has been reported. The United States and its allies in the Nato military alliance never disclose the locations of the nuclear arsenal but it appears the six sites have inadvertently disclosed. A draft version of the document entitled “A new era for nuclear deterrence? Modernisation, arms control and allied nuclear forces” was published earlier this year.

US official claims Mexican soldiers made an ‘incursion’ onto American soil and got in a ‘scuffle’ with a Border Patrol agent near El Paso
Mexican military personnel have made an ‘incursion’ into U.S. territory, according to an American border official. Multiple members of the Mexican military crossed into the U.S. in the El Paso sector of western Texas at around 6.15pm ET on Tuesday, said National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd on Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs Tonight.

Franklin Graham warns Equality Act would be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians if it becomes law
The Equality Act, a bill that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under federal civil rights law, would be “catastrophic” for Christians and churches if it becomes law, evangelist Franklin Graham warned.

Trump abortion rule deals ‘devastating blow’ to Planned Parenthood, group says
The Trump administration stopped taxpayer dollars from going to abortion referrals at publicly funded family planning centers on Monday.

Dengue fever: Philippines on national alert after 456 die from illness this year
Health authorities in the Philippines have declared a “national dengue alert” after a spike in cases of the viral disease which has left more than 450 people dead since January.

DC to feel almost as hot as Death Valley on Saturday
The northeastern United States will sizzle this week as summer heat builds to near-record levels in some places, with many metropolitan areas experiencing the hottest air temperatures of the summer so far as a heat wave envelopes a wide swath of the United States.

More than 120 killed, 6 million affected by floods in India and Nepal
At least 123 people were killed, tens of thousands are displaced and at least 6 million affected in seasonal floods affecting India and Nepal over the past 10 days. The death toll is rising steadily.

American Tech Giants Are Helping To Build China’s Surveillance State
Google and IBM are leading an effort via the non-profit “OpenPOWER Foundation” that is supporting China’s authoritarian government in conducting mass surveillance against its citizens, The Intercept has revealed.

UN officials join calls against East Jerusalem home demolitions
A day ahead of the possible demolition of 10 East Jerusalem buildings built near the security barrier, United Nations officials joined calls on Israel not to carry out the demolitions, saying they would displace 17 Palestinian residents and mean “massive property loss” for 350 more.

Trump Slams AOC’s ‘Squad’ As “The Four Horsewomen Of The Apocalypse”
Two days after President Trump provoked Democrats to pass a resolution condemning him as a racist by urging the radical left “squad” of freshman House Democrats “if you are not happy here, you can leave”, the president is back with another tweet storm guaranteed to send Democrats on Capitol Hill into fits of apoplexy.

Conservative Christians Denounce APA’s Promotion of Polyamory, Swinging
The American Psychological Association’s (APA) decision to establish a “Consenual Non-monogamy Task Force” to promote “polyamory, open relationships” and “swinging” as normal sexual behavior was condemned by the Catholic League and the Ruth Institute, respectively, as a form of “mental breakdown” and another step in a long march “to normalize aberrant sexual behavior between adults.”

It’s all CRUMBLING… NYC power outages to continue; GPS satellites fail; tech is collapsing at an increased rate
A series of incidents that have occurred in close proximity to each other over the past several days are leading many to believe that technology is failing society and that U.S. infrastructure is collapsing faster than previously believed.

FBI and Italian police in dawn raids targeting New York Gambino and Inzerillo Mafia clans in Sicily
A 200-strong force of FBI and Italian police targeted the New York Gambino family and the Sicilian Inzerillo Mafia clans during dawn raids this morning in Sicily.

Scientists use sound to apparently defy gravity
Scientists have made levitation a reality using a rather unexpected tool – sound. An Anglo-American research team experimented with sound-based levitation and succeeded in suspending small bits of plastic in mid-air. Their results will contribute to the field of soft robotics, which uses similar plastic materials to create flexible robots.


Headlines – 7/18/2019

Benjamin Netanyahu makes history as Israel’s longest-serving leader

Barak charges Netanyahu behind Daily Mail ‘blood libel’ tying him to Epstein

Yair Netanyahu calls Barak ‘dunken geezer, probably with dementia’

Israel is the victim in conflict with Palestinians, says US peace envoy

Netanyahu Worried that Trump May Connect Gaza and The West Bank

UN officials join calls against East Jerusalem home demolitions

British PM May Blasts Corbyn Over Labour Antisemitism, Saying He Has ‘Failed the Test of Leadership’

Netanyahu: ‘France must declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization’

Argentina takes step closer to naming Hezbollah a terrorist group

Russia says it can have good ties with both Israel and Iran

UK PM May says compromise deal remains best way to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapon

Iran foreign minister says country ‘had no choice’ but to build missiles for defense

At UN, Iran FM accuses US of ‘economic terrorism’

Iran’s Zarif says U.S. travel curbs on Iranian diplomats ‘inhuman’

Britain says deployment of warship to Gulf is to protect its interests

UK defense minister voices concern over safety of goods in Strait of Hormuz

US preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions

Iranian official in Syria: Israel does not have a future in the region

Syria, Iran plan responses to Israeli airstrikes, discusses US peace plan, in secret meeting with Iranian official

Russia Tells U.S. to Stop Blaming Iran for Everything: ‘A Single Match Can Start A Fire’

Russian nuclear power plant switches off units after short-circuit

Russia’s Putin extends passport offer to Ukraine citizens

US kicking NATO ally Turkey out of F-35 fighter program

Turkish diplomat shot dead in Iraqi Kurdistan

U.S. House rejects Saudi weapons sales; Trump to veto

Trump hails arrest in Pakistan of alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind

4 Christians Executed in Burkina Faso for Wearing Cross Necklaces

Philippine president calls on Trump to park US Navy outside China

Trump touts US economy as envy of world leaders while China falters

France is Trump’s new target as he broadens the scope of his global trade war once again

UK’s fiscal watchdog to warn of recession in 2020 in case of ‘no-deal’ Brexit: The Times

Foreigners Dump US Treasurys, Liquidate A Record $216 Billion In US Stocks In 13 Consecutive Months

Thousands protest at mass rally in San Juan, demanding Puerto Rico governor’s resignation

Civil unrest in Puerto Rico forces multiple cruise ships to alter routes

Pentagon OKs sending 2,100 additional troops to Mexico border

Trump rails against liberal ‘squad’ in NC: ‘They never have anything good to say’

In lopsided vote, House kills effort to impeach Trump

Trump, at fiery ‘MAGA’ rally, slams ‘bullsh–‘ ‘witch hunt,’ cheers failed impeachment push

Constitutional scholars question impeaching Trump for ‘bigotry’

House votes to hold AG Barr and Commerce chief Ross in criminal contempt over census

House holds Barr, Ross in criminal contempt, as GOP decries ‘more political theater’

DOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as ‘political stunt’

Tape shows Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein discussing women at 1992 party

Russia, Iran, North Korea Launch Hundreds of Cyberattacks on U.S. Political Groups, Microsoft Says

DNC warns 2020 campaigns not to use FaceApp ‘developed by Russians’

FaceApp: Privacy warning issued over app that lets users turn themselves old

For police, is AI deception technology a ‘truth meter’ yet?

This Food-Delivery Robot Wants to Share the Bike Lane

Elderly robocall scam victim committed suicide after ‘fraudsters’ stole life savings

Report: Amazon Facing Antitrust Probe in the EU Over Its Use of Marketplace Merchant Data

The Fraught Effort to Return to the Moon: NASA wants to put people back on the lunar surface in 2024, but it doesn’t have the budget

Jeff Bezos: I spend my billions on space because we’re destroying Earth

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Bandon, Oregon

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Puerto Ayora, Ecuador

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Laiwui, Indonesia

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 28,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Triple-digit temperatures could bring blackouts in New York City, DC and Chicago

DC to feel almost as hot as Death Valley on Saturday

Israel bakes as temperature climbs to near-record 49.9°C (122°F) at biblical Sodom

Wildfires break out across Israel as temperatures soar in extreme heatwave

Weird science: Could piling man-made snow on Antarctica stop ice sheet collapse?

Ebola outbreak in Congo declared a global health emergency

German government backs mandatory vaccinations for all schoolchildren

Planned Parenthood CEO ousted because group is ‘driven by abortion,’ pro-life leader says

Report: Ousted Planned Parenthood chief had problems with saying men can get pregnant – She apparently wasn’t ‘trans-inclusive’ enough

Russia launches criminal case over gay couple’s adoption

Chicago mayor: Police ‘are losing the streets’ to major eruptions of violence


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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

Thousands Attend Opening Dedication Ceremony Of $134 Million Dollar New Age Catholic Church On Site Of Robert Schuller’s Old Crystal Cathedral — Now The End Begins

For a religion steeped in Babylonian and Egyptian ritual, the most sacred task was remaking a Protestant church into a Roman Catholic place of worship. That meant adding such features as the 20-foot-tall bronze “Bishop’s Doors,” a centerpiece called a baldachin and a 1,000-pound jeweled crucifix. Walnut pews and marble floors contribute to the splendor.

The Catholic Church has just opened a glittering, dazzle New Age temple in California that will undoubtedly serve as the western headquarters of Antichrist during the time of Jacob’s trouble. It is the old Crystal Cathedral created by Prosperity preacher and false teacher Robert Schuller. I find it funny that the Catholic Church is always saying how poor they are, but have no problem spending $134 million for a church building ($57M) and renovations ($77M) while hundreds of thousands of homeless in California are eating garbage out of the dumpster. But that’s a story for another day. Many thanks to eagle-eyed NTEB reader Josie for making us aware of this.

“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Revelation 17:4,5 (KJV)

The dedication ceremony of this massive New Age Catholic temple looked for all the world like something out of a Left Behind novel. You had thousands of fawning worshippers applauding men wearing costumes, parading around a building that would be right at home in Revelation 17 and 18. The people attending remarked over and over about how much it all looked like a “Broadway musical”, and how exciting it all was. And oh, in case you were wondering, yes, the relics of dead Catholic “saints” have already been placed under the oversized New Age altar so their Babylonian necromancy can proceed unhindered.

The irony here, of course, was that prosperity preacher and false teacher Robert Schuller loved the Catholic Church and constantly sang the praises of then-pope John Paul II. Robert Schuller was a Laodicean fraud who taught heresy, and as you will see in the video below, Billy Graham was right alongside with him. Schuller’s “ministry” of prosperity gospel nonsense collapsed in front of his own eyes, and he lived long enough to see the Lord stamp ‘ICHABOD’ on the whole mess. A mess that in 2019, the Roman Catholic Church is more than happy to take over. I was happy to see the Washington Post reporting correctly for once, and calling it a ‘New Age monument’, because that is exactly what it is. Antichrist will feel right at home here when he shows up in the time of Jacob’s trouble after the Rapture of the real Church.

It’s not every day that the Roman Catholic Church occupies a New Age monument, and the unorthodox pairing provokes certain questions.

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: For years, Christians, Southern Californians and design devotees alike have anticipated the resurrection of the Crystal Cathedral, the Orange County church designed by modernist architect Philip Johnson. It was the home of televangelist Robert Schuller and his “Hour of Power” TV program, watched in its heyday by tens of millions, in 156 countries.

Touted as the largest glass building in the world when it opened in 1980, the megachurch was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in 2012, thanks to a messy bankruptcy. The diocese renamed it Christ Cathedral and, in fact, acquired the whole architecturally significant campus, including buildings by Richard Neutra and Richard Meier.

Thousands attend dazzling dedication of remodeled Christ Cathedral, Orange County’s new center of Catholicism

It’s not every day that the Roman Catholic Church occupies a New Age monument, and the unorthodox pairing provokes certain questions. Could the glitzy building, countercultural in its way, be a fitting home for a faith rooted in tradition? Is Schuller’s house of “Possibility Thinking” an apt home for the Sorrowful Mysteries? (The former is the name the late televangelist gave for his affirming worldview, and the latter is a group of Catholic meditations on suffering.)

“It does feel like a weird marriage,” says Alexandra Lange, an architecture critic for Curbed. There’s something “New Age-y” and “kitschy and cheery” about the cathedral that seems at odds with the “formality and sternness” associated with many Catholic buildings, says Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster, who wrote a biography of Johnson.

It’s noteworthy that this takeover is happening in the West, an increasingly important center of influence for a Catholic Church that is transforming. Many of Southern California’s Catholic parishes are growing and multicultural, a contrast to the aging, white community that Schuller’s church represented. The diocese of Orange is itself home to 1.3 million Catholics.

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Cost savings may have been a motivating factor for the purchase. As cathedrals go, the diocese picked it up for a song, just $57.5 million. Some see the deal as an act of architectural preservation, if not devotion.

“We’re giving it a life as a worship space and also trying to continue some of the traditions that were here, like the great music that used to be on this campus,” said David Ball, Christ Cathedral’s organist and assistant director of music.

A marble altar — the site where Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is made present, according to Catholic teaching — was given a place of prominence, for instance. Bishop Kevin W. Vann went to Italy to pick out the white and blue-gray Carrara marble for the altar and baptismal font, according to the diocese.

A crucifix typical of Medieval art, weighing 1,000 pounds, has been installed high above the altar, according to the diocese. It was made of blackened steel in Nebraska.

A historic photo of Schuller shaking hands with Pope John Paul II was posted to Instagram by the diocese, too, pointing to an interesting bit of history: Schuller asked the pope to bless the architectural renderings before the first dedication, a generation ago.

An Instagram feed was launched recently for the cathedral itself. Its number of posts and followers remain modest. One post about preparations for Wednesday’s dedication features a shot of a bright orange bucket that reads, simply, “Let’s Do This.” READ MORE

Watch As False Teachers Billy Graham And Robert Schuller Praise The Pope And Their New Age ‘Jesus’

via Thousands Attend Opening Dedication Ceremony Of $134 Million Dollar New Age Catholic Church On Site Of Robert Schuller’s Old Crystal Cathedral — Now The End Begins

Schuller’s ‘Crystal Cathedral’ Re-Opens as a Catholic Church — Pulpit & Pen

Nuns get a look at the newly finished ‘Christ Cathedral,’ once known as “The Crystal Cathedral”

The Crystal Cathedral, best known as the home for a ‘positive-thinking’ gospel that ignored sins and preached happiness, has now re-opened as a Roman Catholic Church.

Completed in 1981, the Orange County structure was renown for its beauty and unique design. With more exterior-to-interior glass ratio than any building of comparable size in the United States, the building quickly became one of the most recognizable houses of worship in the world, especially as it was featured each Sunday Morning during its founder’s “Hour of Power” television program.

The message of Robert Schuller was simple; if you can think it, you can achieve it. A role model and mentor to Rick Warren, Schuller was pivotal in popularizing (although he did not invent it) the “power of positive thinking.”

Schuller’s god, if he really believed in him/her/it at all, wanted whatever you wanted, loved whatever you loved, and was whoever you wanted them to be. And the Crystal Cathedral, a massive monument to this false god, was a monstrosity of Schuller’s creation.

However, reports began to circulate as early as 2011 that the Cathedral was dying as Schuller’s charismatic influence waned and the church began to suffer under power struggles of his children.

Beginning as the ‘Garden Grove Community Church,’ Schuller’s non-Christian but yet Christiany message resonated with those who desired religion but not god and blessing but not worship. Schuller was a master at giving people exactly what they wanted, being famous for pioneering the ‘drive-in church’ model in the 1950s, allowing ‘church-goers’ to pull into a spot and worship from the car, without the hassle of meeting anyone.

The 128-foot glass-and-steel structure that was eventually built by Schuller could seat over 3000 and, as one writer put it, “the Crystal Cathedral combined consumer culture with Christ.” It in many ways was the popularization of the mega-church.

Read more: Schuller’s ‘Crystal Cathedral’ Re-Opens as a Catholic Church — Pulpit & Pen

Fans Divide Over Women’s U.S. Soccer Team, Political Activism — Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America

How many fans do you need to lose before you understand you’re alienating more than half of your audience when you use sports to push progressive politics? Outspoken U.S. Women’s Soccer team co-captain, Megan Rapinoe is on top of the world for helping win the 2019 World Cup last week.

Congratulations. But it’s hard not to notice the pink-haired activist makes the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick look like a Boy Scout.

Rapinoe recently said in an interview,

“I’m not going to the f—king White House… [and] I don’t think anyone on the team has any interest.”

rapinoe-kneeling-for-anthem-300x300From kneeling during the National Anthem before games to calling the Trump administration corrupt, some of these social justice athletes just don’t get it. Their insults and disrespect come off as anti-American, and fans are tuning out.

The moment had so much potential to unify Americans, but ended up a disappointing celebration clouded by politics. Nice job, ladies. Too bad your leaders blew it.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins put it this way:

“It was supposed to be a euphoric win – another chapter in American sports dominance. But the message from the captain of soccer’s reigning champs was clear: our country may be wearing the same colors, but that doesn’t mean we’re on the same team.”

…In another disappointing part of this story, there’s speculation that one of the best players in the nation, Jaelene Hinkle, was snubbed from the team for being a Christian. According to the Washington Times, Hinkle chose not to wear a rainbow-themed women’s soccer jersey in honor of Gay Pride month.

You can guess what happened to Jaelene Hinkle. The very next game, fans waving rainbow flags booed her. That was the last time she played for the national team. World Cup women’s team coach, Jill Ellis (who is married to a woman) cut Hinkle from the roster and told reporters her decision was ‘solely based on soccer.’

…Winning on the world stage is a big accomplishment, and the women’s World Cup could have been a uniting victory for all Americans. All it did was drive the divisive wedge of identity politics even deeper.

Read the entire post at DavidFiorazo.com

via Fans Divide Over Women’s U.S. Soccer Team, Political Activism — Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America

Ben Carson Tells Tucker Carlson He Would Never Work for a Racist: ‘I Would Be Out of There in Two Seconds’ — Christian Research Network

“I certainly have had an opportunity to see what racism is, you know, growing up in Detroit and the ’60s…this is a magnificent country, you know, where someone like me could grow up in poverty, become a brain surgeon [and then] a Cabinet member [for the president of the United States]. You know, why would anybody knock a place like that? And if it was such a bad place, people wouldn’t be forming caravans to come here.”

(Maureen Mackey – LifeZette)   Speaking on Wednesday evening to Fox News host Tucker Carlson on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said of President Donald Trump, “I’ve never seen any evidence of that [racism] whatsoever. Our conversations have frequently centered around disadvantaged people in our country and what we can do to elevate them.”

“And it seems to me like a racist wouldn’t spend so much time on second-chance legislation,” added Carson. “He wouldn’t spend so much time with opportunity zones, trying to take people who have made a lot of money and put those unrealized capital gains into areas that have traditionally been neglected so that people can rise. He wouldn’t spend so much time working on affordable housing, recognizing what the crisis was. The list goes on and on.” View article →

via Ben Carson Tells Tucker Carlson He Would Never Work for a Racist: ‘I Would Be Out of There in Two Seconds’ — Christian Research Network

July 18 The Enthusiastic Christian

scripture reading: Ephesians 2:8–16
key verse: Ephesians 6:8

Knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

Many fine, moral, nice people in the world bring good cheer to others, but leave no divine imprint. The interesting thing about Christians is that our light—our good works and words—is to shine in such a way so as to “glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Your light, your witness, should reflect on the person and character of Jesus Christ, attracting others to His uncommon presence. Your works should bring attention not to yourself but to God, casting His ways in sharp relief to the familiar ways of the world.

Your enthusiasm in your tasks should reflect your passion to serve God. That zeal should spring forth in the mundane projects, the obscure times, and the relatively boring jobs. Your enthusiasm points to the origin of the zest, a desire to glorify Christ in all you do.

Your light also shines uniquely when you do your work with excellence. You are faithful in the little things that others ignore; you go above the mediocre and walk the second mile.

Your enthusiasm and excellence in the familiar routine unveil the inner presence of Jesus Christ for the world to see.

Give me enthusiasm, O God—even in the routine, mundane things of life. Let my work be marked with excellence. I want to glorify You in everything I do.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

18 july (1858) 365 Days with Spurgeon

A lecture for little-faith

“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3

suggested further reading: Matthew 17:14–21

When faith commences in the soul it is simply looking unto Jesus, and perhaps even then there are so many clouds of doubts, and so much dimness of the eye, that we have need for the light of the Spirit to shine upon the cross before we are able even so much as to see it. When faith grows a little, it rises from looking to Christ to coming to Christ. He who stood afar off and looked to the cross, by-and-by plucks up courage, and getting heart to himself, he runneth up to the cross; or perhaps he doth not run, but hath to be drawn before he can so much as creep thither, and even then it is with a limping gait that he draweth nigh to Christ the Saviour. But that done, faith goeth a little farther: it layeth hold on Christ; it begins to see him in his excellency, and appropriates him in some degree, conceives him to be a real Christ and a real Saviour, and is convinced of his suitability. And when it hath done as much as that, it goeth further; it leaneth on Christ; it leaneth on its Beloved; casteth all the burden of its cares, sorrows, and griefs upon that blessed shoulder, and permitteth all its sins to be swallowed up in the great red sea of the Saviour’s blood. And faith can then go further still; for having seen and run towards him, and laid hold upon him, and having leaned upon him, faith in the next place puts in a humble, but a sure and certain claim to all that Christ is and all that he has wrought; and then, trusting alone in this, appropriating all this to itself, faith mounteth to full assurance; and out of heaven there is no state more rapturous and blessed.

for meditation: How would you describe the state of your faith? Do you want to grow in faith (Luke 17:5)?

sermon no. 205[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 206). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

18 JULY 365 Days with Calvin

Seeking the Resurrected Savior

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matthew 28:6

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1–20

We now come to the closing scene of our redemption. For the lively assurance of our reconciliation with God arises from Christ, having come from hell as the conqueror of death, to show that he has the power of a new life at his disposal.

Paul justly says there will be no gospel and the hope of salvation will be vain and fruitless unless we believe that Christ is risen from the dead (1 Cor. 15:14). For in this Christ obtained righteousness for us and opened our entrance into heaven. In short, our adoption was ratified when Christ rose from the dead, exerting the power of his Spirit and proving himself to be the Son of God.

Though Christ manifested his resurrection in a different manner from what our fleshly sense would have desired, still we ought to regard the method which he approved as also the best. First, he went out of the grave without a witness so that the emptiness of the place might be the earliest indication of his resurrection. Second, Christ chose to have the message that he was alive announced to the women by the angels. Third, he appeared to the women, and then to the apostles on various occasions.

It is an astonishing display of the goodness of Christ that he kindly and generously presented himself alive to the women who did him wrong in seeking him among the dead. If he had not permitted them to come in vain to his grave, we might conclude with certainty that those who now aspire to him by faith will not be disappointed, for the distance of places does not prevent believers from enjoying him who fills heaven and earth by the power of his Spirit.

for meditation: What great grace that Jesus reveals himself to those who do not have everything figured out before they come to him! Even if we seek him in wrong ways or in the wrong places, yet he comes to us in mercy without holding those sins against us. We can attribute our finding Christ to nothing but his grace.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 218). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

What is the state of religious freedom in Israel & the Arab world? Here’s what the media is not telling you. (My keynote address to the State Department’s conference on religious freedom.) — Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

(Washington, D.C.) — For the last several days, more than 1,000 Foreign Ministers, religious and civic leaders, academics and survivors of religious persecution from more than 100 countries have gathered in Washington for a State Department conference on advancing religious freedom.

Keynote speakers have included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Pence, U.S. Ambassador At Large For International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Yazidi survivor of ISIS Nadia Murad, Sheikh bin Bayyah (considered one of the most influential Sunni Muslim theologians in the world), and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

I was also asked to be a keynote speaker, and was honored to do so. Here is the full text of my remarks. You can also watch the video of my remarks by clicking here (Amb. Brownback’s introduction begins at 32:40, and my remarks begin at 34:15 and run about 16 minutes.)

ADVANCING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN THE MIDDLE EAST: AN ISRAELI EVANGELICAL’S PERSPECTIVE

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

In an age of horrific attacks against Jews, Christians, Muslims and those of other religions, these words from the Book of Proverbs must be our mission.

To this end, I want to thank the President, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, and Ambassador Brownback for making the advancement of religious freedom a top global priority, and for holding this conference to let us speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

I have titled my remarks, “Advancing Religious Freedom In The Middle East: An Israeli Evangelical’s Perspective,” and I’d like to share a few thoughts in two areas:

  • The state of religious freedom in Israel.
  • The state of religious freedom in the Arab Muslim world.

First, some context. I am the grandson of Orthodox Jews who escaped from Russia in the early years of the 20th century when Jews were being beaten, raped and murdered in the “pogroms.” By God’s grace, my grand-parents and great-grandparents came to America and it was here that they were free to pray, keep kosher, and study Torah.

It was here that my father was raised Orthodox Jewish. It was here that my father was free to study not only the Hebrew Scriptures, but the New Testament, as well. Free to study and explore. Free to ask hard and unpopular questions.Free to come to the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth is, in fact, the Messiah of whom our prophets wrote and our people longed. So, in 1973, my father became follower of Jesus.

A few years later, I became a follower of Jesus, as well, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Five years ago, my wife and sons and I were free to make another choice – we embarked on a process known as “making Aliyah.” That is, we became citizens of Israel. To be clear, we became dual citizens of the U.S. and Israel. We sold our home, sold or gave away most of our possessions, and moved to Israel to start a new life.

Today, we live in Jerusalem. Two of our sons serve in the Israeli army. Slowly but surely, we’re putting down our roots in ancient soil. It has been the hardest and most exciting journey of our lives, and it has given us a unique perspective on the state of religious freedom in Israel.

THE STATE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN ISRAEL

The State of Israel is certainly not perfect, yet it is a modern miracle.

  • Born out of the ashes of the Holocaust.
  • The fulfillment of ancient prophecies.
  • Thriving, despite repeated wars and enemies Hell-bent on our annihilation.
  • A booming economy.
  • And a robust and raucous democracy – the only in our region.

What’s more, Israel is a magnificent model of religious freedom. A safe harbor for Jews from all over the world, regardless of how religious or secular they may be. And the safest, freest country in the Mideast for people of all faiths, and no faith.

  • 75% of Israel’s 9 million citizens are Jews.
  • 20% are Muslims or Druze — full citizens, with equal rights, absolutely free to attend mosque, read the Qur’an, and raise their children in their faith.
  • Only about 2% are Christians — Catholics, Orthodox, Evangelicals, and Messianic Jews; we are a small minority, but absolutely free to practice our faith & to preach it.

Do religious minorities in Israel face a variety of governmental and societal challenges? We do, including an inordinate and unhealthy control by one faith stream – ultra-Orthodox Judaism, a relatively small minority – over political decisions affecting the lives of everyone else, the vast majority in Israel, including rules governing marriage, divorce, burial, immigration and so much else.

There is much Israel’s government can and should do to make reforms and improve the quality of life for religious minorities – and the sooner the better.

That said, regardless what you hear from our critics, Muslims and Christians do not face government persecution. And there is certainly no apartheid.

  • Muslim, Druze and Christian Arabs have served as Members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, since the founding of the modern state – 81, in fact – including 12 at this very moment.
  • Muslims, Druze and Christians serve with distinction in Israel’s military, police, academia, media, and businesses — just last week, a brilliant Israeli Arab Muslim was named chairman of one of Israel’s largest banks.
  • Arab Christians and Muslims even serve as Justices on the Israeli Supreme Court.

Challenges remain, including our wrenching conflict with the Palestinians, for which we must continue to work and pray for peace and reconciliation.

Still, I am deeply encouraged by the state of religious freedom in Israel today.

THE STATE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN THE ARAB WORLD

I’m also pleased to report that something very hopeful is happening with regards to the safety and freedom of Christians in the Arab world.

Not long ago, Radical Islamists were beheading Christians in Libya, burning down churches in Egypt, waging genocide against Christians in Iraq and Syria, and vowing to exterminate Christianity through our region.

Today, the situation is vastly different.

  • Arab Muslim leaders have been valiantly fighting to defeat the forces of Radical Islamism.
  • Tens of millions of Muslims, Christians, Yazidis have been liberated from the forces of barbarism and savagery.
  • A growing number of Arab governments are waging an ideological and theological battle against Radical Islamists in their mosques, schools and on social media, and are training a new generation of clerics to preach moderation and mutual respect.
  • Some Arab Muslim kings and crown princes, presidents and prime ministers are calling for a new era of peaceful coexistence with Christians and Jews.
  • Some are even inviting Christians to meet with them to improve religious freedom and the quality of life for Christians in their countries.

Such trends are not receiving nearly enough attention, but they should for they are real and historic.

Over the last two decades, I have traveled extensively across North Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco to Afghanistan, building friendships with Muslims and Christians.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to lead five Delegations of American Evangelical leaders to Sunni Arab countries — twice to Egypt, and once each to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – meeting with Christian leaders, but also with Muslim leaders at the highest-levels.

In Amman, King Abdullah II — winner of last year’s Templeton Prize for his extraordinary history of promoting inter-faith dialogue and religious freedom — invited our Delegation to a wonderful working lunch at the palace.

In Cairo, we spent almost three hours in private talks with President El-Sisi — the first time an Egyptian President had ever met with an Evangelical Delegation.

In Abu Dhabi, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed spent two hours with our Delegation in his home — also the first time the leaders of the United Arab Emirates had ever invited Evangelicals for such meetings.

In Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also spent two full hours with us – and we were told this was the first time Evangelical leaders had been invited to meet with senior members of the Saudi Royal Family in 300 years.

In each country, we made it clear we were not coming for a photo op, but to build long-term strategic friendships. And in each country, our talks were friendly, even warm. We listened to each leader’s vision for reform, and his record of accomplishments. We asked candid questions about the challenges facing Christians in their countries, and about the plans they have for improving religious freedom for Christians and all religious minorities.

I wish I had time to share all that we learned, but I can report that we came away from each country encouraged.

  • In Saudi Arabia, no churches have been built – yet – but I pray this will change soon. Still, there are important signs of progress. Thousands of extremist preachers have been fired from the mosques. Christian foreign nationals are increasingly allowed to gather in private homes for worship and Bible study without government interference. And the Crown Prince is beginning to reach out to leaders of other faiths, not only meeting with Evangelicals, but with the Coptic Orthodox Pope in Cairo, the Archbishop of Canterbury in London, and Jewish leaders in New York.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, some 700 Christian churches now operate without fear of government persecution. New houses of worship are being built. And in February, the U.A.E. welcomed Pope Francis to lead a mass attended by 185,000 people and broadcast on live TV – the first time a Roman Catholic pontiff has ever stepped foot on the Arabian Peninsula in the 1,400 years of Islam.
  • In Jordan, King Abdullah II granted land along the Jordan River so 13 Christian denominations could build churches and baptize Christians. Through documents like “The Amman Message” and “A Common Word,” the King has taken the lead in promoting religious moderation, tolerance and respect for Christians. Indeed, I would argue that under the wise leadership of His Majesty, Jordan is the safest and freest country for Christians in the entire Arab world.
  • That said, perhaps the most dramatic progress is being made in Egypt. Under the leadership of President el-Sisi, every church destroyed during the Muslim Brotherhood’s reign of terror has been rebuilt. Some 6,500 new churches have applied for permission to operate legally and more than 1,000 have already been granted approval. The rest are operating freely while their applications are being reviewed, since the new church-building law states that the government has no right to close churches that have filed formal applications.

In January, President el-Sisi asked me to bring an Evangelical Delegation to attend the dedication of the gorgeous “Nativity of the Christ Cathedral” near Cairo. I was honored to do so, and then visited the cathedral again a few days later with my friend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

When was the last time that a devout Muslim president, leader of the world’s largest Arab country, built a church – the largest in the Middle East – and gave it as a gift to the Christians of his country on Christmas Eve?

My friends, this was a game-changing moment, sending a powerful message not only to all Egyptians, but to all Muslims, that Muslims and Christians really can live together in peace, despite our real and profound differences.

There is so much more I wish I could share with you.

On Monday, I met with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister and Ambassador. I told them how encouraged I am by King Hamad’s commitment to tolerance and moderation, and by the landmark “Bahrain Declaration” His Majesty issued last year to further advance religious freedom. And I’m pleased to announce that my colleague, the Reverend Johnnie Moore, and I, have accepted Bahrain’s gracious invitation to bring an Evangelical Delegation to Manama this Fall.

I don’t want to paint a rosy, naïve picture. Enormous challenges remain for Christians and other religious minorities in the Arab world. Deep change must occur in education, culture and government. But, as a dual-U.S.-Israeli citizen, a Jewish Evangelical, building friendships with leaders throughout the Jewish and Muslim world, I see signs of hope. And I believe that when leaders of any country advance real reforms and make real progress – especially in the area of religious freedom – they should be publicly praised, even as we encourage them to do more.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Allow me to close with a quote from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18, approved by the U.N. General Assembly in December 1948. “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; [and] this right includes the freedom to change his religion or belief.”

Perhaps the most uncomfortable element for some when it comes to discussing religious freedom is the right not only to choose one’s faith, but to change it. Yet we must not shy away from this topic, sensitive though it is.

For having the freedom to decide what we believe about God – and the freedom to change our mind – is a sacred human right, granted to us by God Himself. Government’s job is not to grant rights, but to guard them. And no human right – none – is more important than the right to seek the truth about who God is, how we can know Him personally, and how our soul can spend eternity with Him.

This is the freedom my father found here in America. Andthis is the freedom that changed his life, and mine.

Thank you for all you do to defend this right. And for speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. God bless you – may your tribe increase.

via What is the state of religious freedom in Israel & the Arab world? Here’s what the media is not telling you. (My keynote address to the State Department’s conference on religious freedom.) — Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog