Daily Archives: December 14, 2021

He Will Carry Us Home — VCY America

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4 The year is very old, and here is a promise for our aged friends; yes, and for us all, as…

He Will Carry Us Home — VCY America

Alex McFarland: The Deity of Jesus, and America’s Worldview Problem — Stand Up For The Truth

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TODAY’S GUEST: Alex McFarlandChristian apologist, author of many books, evangelist, religion and culture analyst. Alex served as Focus On The Family’s first Director of Teen Apologetics, and as the Director of Apologetics and Christian Worldview at North Greenville University (SC). He hosts the Exploring the Word podcast.

In 1990s, Alex pioneered the Truth for a New Generation Conference designed to equip teens and adults to know what they believe and defend their faith. He wrote The Assault on America last year and now, he has a brand new book out, 100 Bible Questions and Answers: Inspiring Truths, Historical Facts, Practical Insights.

Alex McFarland and David Fiorazo discuss America’s worldview problems, ignorance of socialism, as well as key Bible questions addressed in the book, 100 Bible Questions and Answers

Alex McFarland and Bert Harper have answered questions from listeners throughout North America for more than ten years. Drawing on their years of experience as pastors, scholars, and Bible researchers, Alex and Bert offer factual, biblical responses to their most frequently asked questions. As an author, Alex McFarland has written over 150 published articles and is author of 19+ books.

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Alex McFarland: The Deity of Jesus, and America’s Worldview Problem — Stand Up For The Truth

The Bible and its Story: The Miracle of the Red Sea

Doubtless Moses kept weary vigil through that night. God bade him stretch forth his rod over the sea; “and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” In the morning all Israel saw the miracle. The biblical tale rises here into a chant, a song of triumph.

‎“And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.” Now indeed they must have felt that they were a chosen people, that in the midst of storm and darkness, of furious ocean and more furious foe, they marched in safety. Their God was mighty to protect!

‎Yet the Egyptians proved themselves a bold and resolute enemy. Where the Israelites went, they also would dare to go. “And the Egyptians pursued and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

by Julius A. Bewer; Charles F. Horne

Christmas: Celebrate His Love (Part 2)

The Silence of Christmas

In this lesson we contemplate the significance of the isolation, humility, and solitary silence of the Messiah’s birth.

Outline

In our world today there is never a time of total silence. Never does the world come to a complete stop—with one exception: Christmas Day. Nobody goes anywhere on Christmas Day. Everybody stays at home. Nobody is on the highways. Nobody is out and about. The whole day is a quiet day, unlike any other day we celebrate throughout the year.

  1. A Silent Night at the Inn of Bethlehem
  2. A Silent Night on the Hillsides Outside of Bethlehem

Overview

Frederick Buechner has written a book entitled A Room Called Remember. In this book he tells the story of a snowstorm that took place in New York City in 1947. He said it was an incredible thing. Flakes just kept coming down, and before long, all of the streets were covered. There was no wind, so the snow didn’t blow. It just stayed. Pretty soon, all the traffic in the city was stopped. The subways shut down. Nobody could go anywhere. Everything came to a complete, total stop. Buechner said the thing that overwhelmed him was the silence of it all. He said there was nothing going on in the city. When people stopped to listen to the noise of the city to which they had become so accustomed, there wasn’t any. It was total silence.

A Silent Night at the Inn of Bethlehem

That must have been the way it was on the first Christmas. Luke 2:1–7 tells us it happened like this:

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

This story—so familiar to us—is nevertheless amazing. Hundreds of years before this event, Micah the prophet told everybody it was going to happen. And not only did he reveal that it was going to happen, but he told where it was going to happen! Not only did he single out the town of Bethlehem, but because there were two Bethlehems, he told which of the two it would be. We read in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” It is incredible that this prophecy was fulfilled as it was in the Christmas story. Think for a moment how—if the Roman census edict had gone out in a different way at a different time, everything would have been changed.

If the conception of the Virgin Mary had taken place six months earlier, Jesus would have been born in Nazareth of Galilee and carried to Bethlehem in Mary’s arms. If the conception had taken place six months later Mary would have already returned to Nazareth, and the Babe would have been born in Nazareth of Galilee. But the edict went out, the conception took place, at exactly the right moment Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem Ephrathah, and in that moment of time—as Micah the Prophet foretold—Jesus Christ was born and became one of us.

I don’t understand all of this, but Luke 2:7 tells us that Mary brought forth her own child. She delivered her own baby. Where were the midwives? Where was the innkeeper and his wife? Where was anyone to help? No one was there. Mary, alone in a quiet place, in a moment of silence, brought forth her child. And into that silent night burst a tiny baby’s cry.

It was that cry that gave hope to a lost world. Someone had come to fix things. Many misunderstood it at the time. Many thought He was going to take away Roman bondage. Little did they know that He had in mind a bondage greater and more eternal than Roman bondage. When that little One cried, it meant that the Messiah had come to earth. In that quiet moment, God had become human, so that as the God-man He could wrap His arms around a lost humanity, and bring that lost humanity to the Father.

A Silent Night on the Hillsides Outside Bethlehem

On the hillside outside of Bethlehem, it was in the cooler season of the year. Shepherds were out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. Nothing special was supposed to happen that night. It was like all the other winter nights when they cared for their sheep and watched over their flocks.

All of a sudden, in that quiet night on the hillside outside Bethlehem there was an interruption. Just as the Baby had broken the silence at His birth, the heavenly choirs came to break the silence of that hillside. In Luke 2:8–14 we read:

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

If we had orchestrated this, if we had written the script, if we were the ones doing this pageant, would we have introduced the Lord Jesus Christ for the very first time to a group of shepherds? We’ve seen so many Christmas programs that most of us are conditioned to think, “Who else?” But in that day it would have been the last thought in your mind, because shepherds were considered ceremonially unclean. They were not allowed to worship in the temple. They were not allowed to go to court and bear witness, because they were the least of all. So God, who chose Bethlehem, the least of all the cities, also chose shepherds, who were the least of all men.

And in the quietness of a silent night, He broke in upon the countryside with an angelic host, praising God, and giving the first gospel message ever preached about the coming of Jesus Christ. What an incredible event!

What was that message? It was the message we need to listen to today: “Fear not.” The circumstances into which Jesus was born are very much the circumstances in which we find our Christmas being celebrated today.

A lot of people “celebrate” Christmas with fear. Yet that first Christmas message was, “Don’t be afraid.” The answer to our fears comes in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Word of God says the ultimate fear is our fear of death. What do we do with death? We need someone who has overcome it, and that’s who Jesus was. He came to overcome death and take away fear.

The angels also proclaimed peace and good will toward men. In fact, in that first gospel message, the angels proclaimed to the shepherds every message we need for our lives today. But don’t get caught up in the song, for the real message was in the Son. It was in the person of Jesus Christ himself.

It was a silent night near the inn at Bethlehem. A Baby cried, and nothing has been the same since. It was a silent night outside of Bethlehem where the shepherds watched their flocks, and the angels came and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and nothing has been the same since. And for many of us, it was a silent night, a quiet moment, when, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we knew something was wrong, something was missing. Someone had told us that Jesus Christ came to fix all of that. And in that quiet moment, in that silent night, we invited the Savior of the world to be the Savior of our life. We accepted the one who came to be our Savior and Lord.

Many years ago, my wife and I visited Bethlehem, where there is a church called the Church of the Nativity. Though it is 100 feet by 70 feet in size, you can get into the church only one way. The door into the church is not much higher than a child, and it is only a couple of feet wide. To go into the church, people must—one at a time bend down, stoop, and walk through the door.

I remember thinking, “What an interesting reminder to all of us that entering the kingdom of God is not something that happens in a group. It is an individual experience. Knowing Jesus Christ is like getting into that church. You have to stoop down.”

Too often, that’s the last thing we are willing to do. We are too caught up in ourselves. We are going it alone, thinking we’ve got it all together.

Then, suddenly or gradually, the load of life’s problems on our shoulders finally makes us stoop down. Sometimes it is a moment of reality when we realize that the Word of God says, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but that way ends in death.” The world would have us believe that we can come to Christ and embrace the Savior through our own efforts, but the Word of God says we must come to Him bowed down in humility, one at a time.

Would it not be a good thing for all of us in the midst of all the frenzied activity of Christmas, to get away for a short time and mediate on what this story really means and how it touches our lives?

Sometimes the most important voices we ever hear are the voices that interrupt the quietness. If you are not sure where you are with that One who came, you need to let Him speak to your heart.

Application

  1. Read Luke 2:4.
  2. Why did Joseph and Mary have to be in Bethlehem?
  3. Why was that significant, in light of:

Micah 5:2?

2 Samuel 7:16–17?

  1. If you were watching for Messiah at the time of His birth, what would you have expected?

How does that differ from what actually happened?

  1. Read 1 Chronicles 11:2; 17:6; and Psalm 78:70–72.
  2. What groups of people were the “shepherds” of Israel in the Old Testament?
  3. What group of people would have been the designated “shepherds” of Israel at the time of Christ?
  4. To whom did that group of people probably expect God to announce the arrival of Messiah?
  5. To whom did the angels announce Messiah’s arrival?
  6. Why do you think He did it this way? (See Jeremiah 10:21; 23:1; 25:34.)
  7. Read Ezekiel 34:2–16.
  8. What parallels can you see between the bad shepherds in Ezekiel and the religious leaders at the time of Christ’s birth?
  9. What parallels can you see between God as the Shepherd of His people, and statements Christ made during His earthly ministry?
  10. What events spoken of in this passage apparently took place at the birth of Christ?
  11. What events spoken of in this passage have not yet taken place?
  12. How might the angelic announcement to real shepherds have reminded Jews of this passage?
  13. Read Psalm 78:49; 2 Kings 6:7; 19:35; Zechariah 10:3.
  14. Why might the shepherds have been frightened at the appearance of an angelic being (Luke 2:9)?
  15. What might they have been expecting to follow such an appearance?
  16. What, instead, is proclaimed to them?
  17. What, then, is the theme of the angelic proclamation in Luke 2:14?
  18. What is the shepherds’ response?

Did You Know?

Although most “nativity scenes” picture the Baby Jesus lying in a manger constructed of wood, nearly all mangers found in the archeological digs of Israel were quite different. Used for water or for fodder, they consisted of a rectangular trough carved out of a single piece of limestone or basalt—making them look something like a miniature stone tomb. What this means, of course, is that when at His birth Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger, it was a picture of precisely what would be done with His body following His crucifixion.

Light Up Your World

Watch for candles on sale tables throughout the year and gather an assortment of sizes and colors that fit your color scheme. All sizes and shapes can be combined to create a unique centerpiece or focal point. Decorate pillar candles by gluing leaves, glitter, stars, or anything you find interesting. Tie candles together with raffia for a unified grouping.

Clay pots make attractive candleholders and the children can personalize them with paint. For the table, try hollowed-out oranges, apples, lemons, or grapefruits as votive candle holders.

Turn the lights off and sit by candlelight and sing or talk as a family. You may be surprised how the quiet calm of candlelight can bring sweet sanity to a very busy season.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 28–39). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Christmas: God In The Manger (Part 3)

The Angels’ Announcement to Mary

Thanks to the increasingly pervasive role of the mass media, people of every generation during the twentieth century heard some very memorable, and at times unexpected, news announcements. Such declarations, both print and broadcast, concerned crucial events that shaped the history of the century. For example, a few people still remember the newspaper extras of November 11, 1918 that heralded the end of World War I. A few more will recall the dramatic and exhilarating headlines of May 1927 that said Charles Lindbergh had officially completed his daring attempt to be the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. Even more folks can remember the somber news of September 1939—the beginning of World War II in Europe—and December 7, 1941—the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor and American entrance into the war. Many more will remember what they were doing on November 22, 1963 or January 28, 1986 when they first heard the shocking bulletins that President John F. Kennedy had died from gunshots or that the entire crew of the space shuttle Challenger had died when the craft exploded shortly after liftoff.

As huge, staggering, and widely proclaimed as those modern news announcements were, each is almost inconsequential when compared to the startling and far-reaching announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth, which Mary heard from the angel Gabriel. That simple, lovely, unmistakably clear narrative explicitly features the divine character of the event. There is no more miraculous, compelling announcement in all of history than that which opens Luke’s familiar and beloved account of the birth of our Lord:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:26–33)

This is the angel’s promise that God was coming into the world, but it’s not the first time God made such a promise. Gabriel’s announcement actually heralded the beginning of the promise’s fulfillment. The monumental news of the Incarnation broke with supernatural surprise to Mary and soon dispelled the mundane tedium that was human history at that time. The news was part of God’s plan of redemption, which He devised even before the creation of the world. And the Holy Spirit previewed that plan from the opening of Scripture, at the start of human history. God originally established the hope of a Savior in Genesis 3:15, and the divine authors of the Old Testament kept it alive for millennia in the hearts of believers (Gen. 49:10; Deut. 18:15; Ps. 2:6–12; Isa. 7:14; 9:6–7; 52:13–53:12; Dan. 2:45; 7:13–14; 9:26; Mic. 5:2).

The Old Testament is filled with prophecies and promises concerning the coming Messiah (approximately 350). At the end of Luke’s Gospel, when the risen Jesus walked on the road to Emmaus with several disciples, Luke records the following interaction: “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25–27).

So it’s clear that the angel’s words to Mary are part of the fulfillment of God’s ancient promises. Those words possess a striking and unmistakable quality of simplicity—yet there is enough wonder and amazement in the announcement’s basic elements so that any open-minded person ought to embrace them and exult over their reality.

The Divine Messenger

The best way to grasp the significance of the angel’s announcement is to look at it from God’s perspective. Everything about the proclamation was divine, including first of all its divine messenger. That God would send a message by means of a holy angelfor the second time in less than a year (Luke 1:11–20)—was in itself amazing. God’s people had not seen or heard from an angel in more than four hundred years. During that time there had been no revelation from the Lord, no miracle, and certainly no sequence of miracles. But then for the second time in the span of a few months the same angel appeared, both times with an extraordinary birth announcement to an ordinary person.

Luke 1:26 identifies the divine messenger as Gabriel, the same angel who came a few months earlier to the priest Zacharias with news about John the Baptist’s birth.

Gabriel is one of only two angels who are actually named in the Bible. The other one, Michael, is a superangel, associated with assignments requiring power and strength. Gabriel is God’s supreme messenger, who brought great, glorious, and crucial announcements from heaven. In Daniel 9, for example, he delivered the all-important pronouncement to Daniel regarding the rest of redemptive history, as unfolded in the incredible vision of the seventy weeks. And now the message of Christ’s forthcoming birth was so critically important that Gabriel again announced it.

Gabriel delivered the most astounding and significant birth announcement ever. And it was even more incredible because he brought it directly from the throne of God. Luke 1:19 says, “‘I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God.’” This high-ranking angel of God came down out of heaven to a Galilean town called Nazareth. And that town, population several thousand, was quite obscure to the outside world. Galilee, an official region north of Jerusalem, was recognizable to most people; therefore, Luke gave his readers a better idea of the town where Christ would grow up by identifying it by regional location.

One of the remarkable facts about Galilee’s role in the story of Jesus’ birth is that the region was not the center of Jewish culture and religion. In fact, it tended to be more Gentile in its orientation, with a significant non-Jewish population surrounding the area. That’s why the district north of Jerusalem was called Galilee of the Gentiles. It’s quite intriguing that when God made the direct, formal announcement of the coming of His Son, the promised Jewish Messiah and King, it came to a part of Israel that was intersected by many Gentiles. We can almost paraphrase God’s intention this way: “My Son will come to a family from Nazareth in Galilee, because He will be the Savior not only of all Jews who believe, but also of believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation.”

The Person of Divine Choice

Luke’s account of Christ’s birth announcement continues its divine perspective by reporting God’s choice of the special person who would be Jesus’ mother. That person is identified as “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary” (1:27).

Not only did the Father send an angel to a small, obscure town in Galilee, to one specific house—He also chose one of its residents to have a major role in the birth of Jesus. That person was a young teenager named Mary. The name Mary is the Greek form of the Hebrew Miriam and means “exalted one.” Beyond that, we know virtually nothing about Mary’s background, because the Bible does not tell us anything. (For a profile of Mary, see chapter 7 of my book In the Footsteps of Faith [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998].)

In Luke’s account, “virgin” is the Greek word parthenos, meaning “one who has had no sexual relations.” As we alluded to in chapter 1 of this study, the term was never used of a married woman. So we can be certain that Mary was truly a virgin. And in that regard, Mary’s marital status followed the normal Jewish practice, which was in turn patterned after Roman law of that day. Girls were engaged at twelve or thirteen years of age (around the time of reaching puberty) and married at the end of the engagement period. That practice ensured that adolescent girls maintained their virginity until marriage.

When you think about it, God’s sovereign choice of Mary to be the mother of Jesus is most astonishing. Out of all the women He could have chosen—queens, princesses, sisters or daughters of the wealthy and influential—He chose an unknown, unassuming young woman named Mary from an obscure village called Nazareth. But God’s plans and purposes often do not unfold in the manner we, as humans, would have selected.

The Divine Blessing to Mary

As amazing as any announcement’s messenger might be, and as fascinating as the identity of the primary recipient is, the most important aspect of any announcement—what people really want to know—is the content. And the content of most everyday pronouncements is usually fairly mundane, often striking us as boring and uninspiring. That is certainly not true regarding the introductory content of Gabriel’s announcement.

Luke 1:28–30 confirms that the angel’s incredible message is indeed from God and contains His blessing: “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’”

In keeping with Luke’s simple, unadorned narration, Gabriel merely entered the house and greeted Mary with a benign “hello” (usually translated “hail” or “rejoice”). Mary, who was apparently alone and preparing food at the time, must have received the angel’s greeting as a definite understatement. But there was a reason the greeting did not come with elaborate heavenly fanfare or intense drama. Divine wisdom undoubtedly knew a low-key introduction would prevent Mary from panicking. After all, she had never seen an angel before; and such a phenomenon could have frightened her, since she was an inexperienced youth. So a calm, reassuring, human-style voice was best for this most special situation.

Gabriel’s next statement clearly and immediately revealed that the divine blessing sovereignly bestowed on Mary was nothing less than God’s grace. However, for centuries the Roman Catholic Church has not embraced that truth, but instead has misled its adherents by accepting the Latin Vulgate Bible’s inaccurate translation of Luke 1:28. During that time, Catholic commentators, writers, and theologians have propagated the familiar but wrong rendering, “Hail, Mary, full of grace.” That has led millions to accept the seriously erroneous belief that Mary is the source of immeasurable grace, which she bestows on others.

Simply reading and understanding the entirety of Gabriel’s opening statement easily refutes that heresy: “‘highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’… ‘you [Mary] have found favor with God’” (vv. 28, 30). Those words are not praising Mary for her inherently virtuous, godly, or worthy character. The angel’s message to her simply said that God had freely chosen to give grace to Mary—that is what made her favored and blessed.

Gabriel had to use such an expression because, before God, Mary was unworthy in her own strength. That means she was a sinner, and sinners need God’s grace. In that sense, Mary was just like you and me—she had no grace to dispense, because she needed the saving grace only God can give. Therefore, she was the recipient of grace, not the source or bestower of it.

Mary did not respond with pride or smug self-satisfaction, as the Catholic view might suggest, but instead she reacted to Gabriel’s statement with humility and perplexed pondering. “But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was” (v. 29). The angel’s appearance did not shake Mary as much as did the nature of his words. “Considered” refers to a state of mind that is disturbed, confused, and perplexed. But why would Mary have reacted that way to the message? Simply because she knew she was a sinner who did not deserve to receive God’s grace. That’s why later she praised God and called Him, “God my Savior” (v. 47).

Mary knew what all righteous, believing people know—that she needed a Savior. And that is probably the best indication we have that Mary was a true believer. All genuinely righteous people are distressed when they face God (or in Mary’s case, one of His holy angels) because they know they’re sinners. As she pondered Gabriel’s message, Mary very well may have asked herself over and over, Why would God ever want to choose me, an unworthy sinner, to be the recipient of His amazing grace? Why would the Lord single out me for such special privilege? To her, it was staggering; nothing on earth could have prepared her for such a breathtaking opening announcement.

Even though Mary’s primary response to Gabriel’s words was one of perplexity and serious pondering, she also reacted with fear. Such supernatural appearances always generated a certain amount of fear and trembling in the human witnesses (Luke 1:13; 2:10). Therefore, it was appropriate that the angel would give Mary some words of assurance: “‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God’” (1:30). Gabriel was not coming to Mary in judgment, so there was nothing for her to fear.

God affirmed that He had extended His grace to Mary for no other reason than it suited His good pleasure and perfect plan. The issue was not Mary’s individual worthiness or human merit; it was God’s sovereign choice. God exercised the same prerogative centuries earlier when He spared Noah and his family from the Flood: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8).

Mary later acknowledged God’s incredible grace and mercy toward her: “‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name’” (Luke 1:46–49). She uttered those words of praise, not as the “blesser,” but as the “blessed.”

God’s special blessing to Mary, granted in the opening act of the wonderful drama of Christ’s birth, boldly highlights the truth that the Lord gives no grace to those who refuse Him. But as with His unique graciousness to Mary, He grants abundant grace to His chosen ones.

The Divine Child

The astonishing appearance of the angel to Mary and the wonderful truth that God had shown great grace to her were just the beginning phases of Gabriel’s momentous announcement. Luke 1:31–33 unveils to Mary for the first time what the essence of God’s extraordinary work in her life would be: “‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’”

That is the fourth part of the divine announcement—Mary will be the virgin mother of the divine child, Jesus, the King and Redeemer.
If the angel’s initial statement that Mary had found favor with God jolted her and caused her much serious reflection, imagine how much more shocking these new words were to her. If it was challenging for Mary to comprehend divine grace extended to her, it must have been even more difficult to grasp that she would conceive God’s own Son in her womb.

Mary knew only one way to conceive, and that was to have sexual relations with a man. But she had never had a marital relationship, a fact she attested to with the simple question, “‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’” (v. 34). That was her euphemistic way of affirming that she was still a virgin.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what other reactions Mary had to this latest news, but we can reasonably guess her thoughts were something like this: Well, maybe I’ll conceive right after Joseph and I are finally married—after the celebration is over and the marriage is consummated. Surely this news can’t be fulfilled any other way. Humanly speaking, such thoughts would be understandable, because no young woman would think she could have a child without the involvement of a man.

But Mary is not left to wonder and speculate how Gabriel’s words will be fulfilled. He provided a most amazing answer to her question—“‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible’” (vv. 35–37).

Gabriel was explaining his earlier words (v. 31), which were only a general reference to the virgin birth. However, like another angelic statement in Matthew 1:23, those words were taken from the Greek translation for Isaiah 7:14. Thus, Gabriel’s explanation to Mary was the beginning of a fulfillment of that well-known prophecy: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” His elucidation supports the conclusions we drew in chapter 1 of this study, namely, that Jesus had to be born of a virgin to be the Son of God and a genuine Savior of sinners.

All of Gabriel’s words about the divine child, Jesus, constitute a summary of the entire person and work of our Lord and Savior. The summation appears rather simple on the surface, but the complexity of each facet challenges our ability to grasp and appreciate all that the angel said to Mary. It is truly awesome to contemplate Jesus’ saving work (in His name), His perfectly righteous life, His title of deity, and His kingly position—all in the same concise overview.

Jesus’ Saving Work

First, the angel gives a preliminary indication of the Child’s saving mission. Jesus’ name itself comes from the Hebrew Yeshua, which means “Jehovah saves” (Matt. 1:21). (The God of the Old Testament was a saving God, and His people knew it; 2 Sam. 7:23; Job 19:25; Isa. 44:21–23; 45:21; Hos. 14:2; Joel 2:12–13; Jon. 2:9.) Later in Luke’s description of the Incarnation, he reiterates and underscores the point that the Child, Jesus, was the long-awaited Savior: “‘For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’” (2:11); “‘For my [Simeon’s] eyes have seen Your salvation’” (2:30); “And coming in that instant she [Anna] gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (2:38). And later in his Gospel, while chronicling Christ’s ministry in Perea, Luke conveyed in Jesus’ own words the reason He came: “‘for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’” (19:10).

Jesus’ Perfectly Righteous Life

People use the word great in reference to all kinds of things: “Have a great day.” “That was a great film.” “That would be great.” But such frequent uses of this and other similar adjectives tend to water down and trivialize the very notions we try so hard to communicate. Consequently, we often have to struggle with additional adjectives to fully convey what we mean.

That’s the impression Luke 1:32 gives with Gabriel’s simple statement that Jesus would be great. Certainly there must be a more gripping way to describe the upcoming life of the Messiah. Some commentators would say it’s better to translate the Greek word for “great” as “extraordinary.” Or it might be better still to substitute the adjective splendid. Then additional terms, such as magnificent, noble, distinguished, powerful, and eminent, come to mind; but they still don’t allow us to speak as excitedly as we ought about the life of Jesus. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit regarded the simple designation “great” as sufficient to describe the extraordinary life of the divine child.

But is Jesus’ greatness of life the same as John the Baptist’s? After all, Luke earlier reported the angel’s words that John would “be great in the sight of the Lord” (1:15). Those words came true; however, John’s greatness was a quality God granted to him. In contrast, Jesus’ greatness is a quality not merely granted to Him, but inherently possessed by Him.

Christ’s greatness is best understood in relation to what the apostle John wrote about Him:

But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:

“Lord, who has believed our report?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,

Lest they should see with their eyes,

Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,

So that I should heal them.”

These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

(John 12:37–41)

John’s second quotation from the prophet is from Isaiah 6:9–10, when Isaiah witnessed God’s glory in the temple and spoke about Him. But when did Isaiah see the glory (or greatness) of Christ? He saw it at the same time he saw the glory of God, because the glory of Christ is the same as the glory of God. The prophet Isaiah knew that one day God was sending the Messiah, His Son, to live a perfect life among His people and to save them from their sins (Isa. 7:14; 9:6–7; 53:4–6). He had a preview of the same glory of Christ that the apostles later witnessed and wrote about (Matt. 17:1–8; John 1:14).

When Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would be great, he meant that Jesus would manifest the very glory of God. That is, people would see the attributes of God displayed through His perfectly righteous life. Whenever you study Luke or the other three Gospels, you see God in every picture of Christ. He talks like God, acts like God, thinks like God, performs miracles that only God could do, teaches truth only God would teach, and responds with the love, goodness, wisdom, and omniscience that only God could possess. And it all begins with the birth of the divine child.

Jesus’ Title of Deity

The angel continues in Luke 1:32 his summary of the person and work of Christ: “[He] will be called the Son of the Highest.” “Highest” was simply a title for God, clearly indicating that nobody is higher than He is. Mary and other righteous Jews were familiar with that title because it is used throughout the Old Testament. In fact, the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek term used by Luke is one many of us know: El Elyon, “God Most High.” That title refers to God’s sovereignty and the fact that no one is higher, more exalted, or more powerful than He is.

To identify Jesus as the Son of the Highest is to declare that He has the same essence as the Most High God. Hebrews 1:3 says this about Jesus: “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” Jesus told His disciples, “‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9). And He boldly asserted to His Jewish opponents, “‘I and My Father are one’” (John 10:30).

Gabriel announced, and the New Testament confirms, that Jesus unquestionably was and is worthy of His divine title, because He truly is the Son of God. But His story does not consist only of His amazing birth, extraordinary life, sacrificial death, and miraculous resurrection.

Jesus’ Kingly Position

The story of Jesus will wonderfully conclude with His sovereign rule over earth and heaven. “‘The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end’” (Luke 1:32–33). The story of redemption will culminate with great precision in the glorious reign of Jesus Christ on David’s throne over the nation of Israel, by which He will establish an earthly Kingdom for a thousand years, followed by an eternal Kingdom.

As we saw in our study of the genealogy of Jesus, God sent Him to earth with the proper credentials to rule. He offered His Kingdom to His people, but they spurned it and then rejected and executed Him. However, Christ will return in glory and with omnipotence to establish His Kingdom (Rev. 19:1–21:8).

The Old Testament writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, foresaw the coming of Christ’s Kingdom. For example, David writes, “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession’” (Ps. 2:6–8). In 2 Samuel 7:12–16, God told David he would have a Son who would reign for-ever. And that Son was not Solomon, but the Messiah, Jesus, as confirmed by the genealogies in Matthew and Luke.

The Bible promises that all believers will be part of Christ’s Kingdom. Even though God will take us to heaven through death or the Rapture, He will include us in the millennial Kingdom. Others will be saved during the Tribulation and become members of the Kingdom. Christ will return, kill the unbelieving, and then establish His earthly Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and truth. And once the final rebellion of Satan and his followers is crushed and they’re sent to the Lake of Fire, the Lord will establish His eternal Kingdom. The magnificent words of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” perfectly describe the conclusion: “He shall reign forever and ever!”

The angel Gabriel’s divinely dispatched announcement to the young Mary undoubtedly surpasses in significance any earthly news bulletin that you or I will ever hear. In five clear and concise sentences, Gabriel summarizes all of redemptive history. The proclamation’s key elements—such as God’s amazing grace to Mary and the attributes of the divine child—ought to remind you daily that the baby once born in Bethlehem now rules your heart and will eventually be your King in the glory of heaven. What monumental truths![1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). God in the manger: the miraculous birth of Christ (pp. 27–40). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.

Loved to Perfection — VCY America

Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

John 13:1

This fact is essentially a promise; for what our Lord was He is, and what He was to those with whom He lived on earth, He will be to all His beloved so long as the moon endureth.

“Having loved”: here was the wonder! That He should ever have loved men at all is the marvel. What was there in His poor disciples that He should love them? What is there in me?

But when He has once begun to love, it is His nature to continue to do so. Love made the saints “his own”—what a choice title! He purchased them with blood, and they became His treasure. Being His own, He will not lose them. Being His beloved, He will not cease to love them. My soul, He will not cease to love thee!

The text is well as it stands: “to the end.” Even till His death the ruling passion of love to His own reigned in His sacred bosom. It means also to the uttermost. He could not love them more: He gave Himself for them. Some read it, to perfection. Truly He lavished upon them a perfect love, in which there was no flaw nor failure, no unwisdom, no unfaithfulness.

Such is the love of Jesus to each one of His people. Let us sing to our Well-beloved a song.

Loved to Perfection — VCY America

December 14 – A house, father, and son — Reformed Perspective

“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.” – 2 Samuel 7:13–14 

Scripture reading: Psalm 122

A good king, president or prime minister can undoubtedly make a difference. Try to imagine the changes in Israel a few years after David became king! Enemy nations had been driven back. Strong borders were established. Tensions between tribes were subdued. A new capital city, Jerusalem, had been established.

There was, however, one thing that David was not allowed to accomplish. David had hoped that he could build the temple, a house for God in Jerusalem. But God told him that rather than David building Him a house, God would build David’s house (2 Samuel 7:11). It would be his son, Solomon, that would build the temple. Also, David’s sons, if they kept God’s commandments, would rule Israel forever! God even promised that He would be like a Father to the son of David! Sadly, however, David’s descendants did not end up keeping God’s law. They began to rule wickedly and even to encourage idolatry. They failed to keep their side of the covenant. Finally, even the kings ended up in exile as slaves, far from the promised land.

That story, however, ends with a glimmer of hope. Jehoiachin, the last king of Judah, was spared and allowed to eat at the emperor’s table (2 Kings 25:29). Though they were far from home, God preserved the line of the kings of Judah so that Jesus Christ could be born as the true Son of David (Matthew 1:16). Though the merely human sons of David were incapable of maintaining a kingdom, the Son rules all nations forever!

Suggestion for prayer

Pray “…for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2).

Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel.

December 14 – A house, father, and son — Reformed Perspective

Advent – JOY — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

During this time of Advent take some time to give yourself a digital cleanse. Look up from your devices for someone to specifically connect with.


“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,   as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Communicating is at an all time high in our digital world of social media and information access! Yet real connecting seems to be slipping. Loneliness is trending higher in recent years than ever before.

Oh, Facebook gives ample opportunity to display just how “happy” we really are with our smiling selfies and the cool places we check in at. But the loneliness and isolation many feel is not uncommon.

God invites us to reach out to others and faithfully take charge of handing out His favour, His grace, through the means He has given us.

Someone around you is lonely this Christmas Season. Maybe your own heart is longing for belonging.  Advent gives us a road map out of the barren Land of Lonely. It’s a map that leads us to Jesus and to one another.

As we hand out favour to those around us simply because we have received the unmerited favour (grace) of God, we find a new level of true JOY.

  • Use your gift of compassion to reach out to someone who is alone right now.
  • Use your gift of finances to ease the burden of someone struggling to pay the rent this month.
  • Use your gift of hospitality to open your home to someone needing the warmth you have to offer.
  • Use your gift of encouragement to write some special notes this Christmas.

Advent is the time of year when we pause and think not only of the Christ child –  but of the Savior of the world! This Jesus offers us unmerited grace and invites us to share it with others.

Make a quiet decision to look around on the path you are on today and really see who Jesus has put alongside you. Tell Him you will be His faithful steward, freely passing out the grace He has given to you.

“Jesus and Others and You – what a wonderful way to spell JOY.”

PRAYER

Father God, Today I want to make the choice to find someone in the Land of Lonely and as my offering to You, faithfully give away Your love and grace. I know that when I put You and others before my own self focus, I find an unusual map that leads me out of the Land of Lonely too. Fill my heart with the desire to truly see others and to freely pass out the grace I have received. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

TAKE ACTION

During this time of Advent take some time to give yourself a digital cleanse. Look up from your devices for someone to specifically connect with. Invite Jesus into your own lonely places and ask Him to walk with you there. Then ask Him to open your eyes to see someone who needs to know His love this week. Use your gifts to offer grace in one of its many forms.

By Gail Rodgers
Used by Permission


Further Reading

•  Life Can Bring Joy out of Sorrow by Norma Becker
•  Fully Surrender to the Lord
•  Salvation Explained

Advent – JOY — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

The Bible and its Story: The Night of Terror

The advance of the Israelites down the Egyptian shore of the Red Sea kept them still within Pharaoh’s reach. When he heard of the opportunity thus offered, his rage and hatred grew hot within him. Why had he not slain them all, and Moses also, to avenge his son? Suddenly he resolved to do so. He summoned his armies and pursued.

‎In their march the Israelites had reached a place called Pi-hahiroth, with mountains barring their forward way, and the sea upon their left. There, toward evening, they saw the furious, fast-driving Egyptians coming up behind. There was no path left open for flight. The timid and terrified Hebrews thought that death was surely upon them, and they cried out in despair against Moses: Why had he not left them in quiet in Egypt; suffering was better than death; they had foreseen this end!

‎Moses rebuked them bravely, promising God’s aid; and all through the black night that followed, God protected them. The pillar of cloud which had guided them, went now behind and shut them out from the sight of the Egyptians, while the fire within the cloud gave light to the Israelites. So throughout that night of terror the two huge encampments lay close together, separated only by God’s hand.

by Julius A. Bewer; Charles F. Horne

The Wonder of the Season (Part 2): Christmas countdown

WHEN DOES THE HOLIDAY SEASON REALLY START?

Elesha Coffman

THE MASKS OF BARBARA St. Barbara traveled in disguise to elude persecution. Celebrations of her day include costumes and masks like these held by students in Beirut.

ST. BARBARA’S DAY: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR

if retail promotions are any indication, Christmas begins as soon as the last bags of Halloween candy have been moved to the bargain bins. Our Christian ancestors, however, had other ideas.

The first church official to propose special activities for the pre-Christmas period was Perpetuus, bishop of Tours, in 490. To help his flock prepare for the holiday, he advocated fasting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Martinmas (November 11) to Christmas Eve. This practice, which mirrored Lent, spread slowly throughout France, Spain, and Germany. Then it crashed into Rome.

Roman attention to the Advent season trailed Perpetuus by about 100 years, and it took a radically different tone. While much of Western Europe, and at least portions of the Christian East, fasted, Roman Christians celebrated. Perhaps it seemed odd to them to approach Christ’s birth as somberly as they did his death. By the eleventh century, though, Rome had come around, and Advent meant no feasts, no recreational travel, no marital relations, and no weddings. (These prohibitions were dropped in recent centuries.)

The men in this 16th-c. image symbolize the Incarnation. Just as they are safe in the fire, Mary conceived without being consumed by “the fire of the Godhead.”

THREE YOUTHS IN FIERY FURNACE: JIM FOREST

MODERN ADVENT

Sometime during all of this, the start date for Western Advent slid back two weeks, to the Sunday closest to St. Andrew’s Day (November 30). As a result, Advent can last anywhere from 22 to 28 days, though for the sake of year-to-year consistency, Advent calendars start with December 1. Yet not everyone kicks off the Christmas season at the same time or in the same way.

A ONE-HORSE OPEN BOAT St. Nicholas arrives in Amsterdam by sea. From here, he’ll ride his white horse through town to greet the children and pay a special visit to the queen.

DUTCH ST. NICHOLAS: KIM KAMINSKI / ALAMY

In the Orthodox Church, Advent still includes fasting, and in most places it lasts from November 15 to December 24. The Armenian Orthodox Church is an exception; its members fast for three of the seven weeks between November 15 (St. Philip’s Day) and January 6 (Epiphany).

St. Barbara’s Day, December 4, signals the beginning of the Christmas season in Syria, Lebanon, and parts of France and Germany. Some Middle Eastern customs for the day resemble an American Halloween—children dress up in frightening costumes and go door-to-door collecting candy and other small gifts. This activity has no relationship to the story of St. Barbara, in which her father locked her in a tower, killed her for her Christian faith, and was then struck by lightning. Not that it matters; historians now doubt that St. Barbara even existed.

Dutch children leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace to collect presents left by Sinterklass. If they leave straw for his horse, they might get a sweet treat as well.

ST. NICHOLAS SHOES: SHUTTERSTOCK

JOLLY OLD ST. NICK

St. Nicholas’s Day, December 6, inaugurates the Christmas festivities in Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, and parts of Germany. On the night of December 5, St. Nicholas—accompanied, oddly enough, by a little demon—brings gifts for good children, who set out shoes or stockings for him to fill. The Dutch make the biggest production of Nick’s arrival, gathering to watch his ship land in Amsterdam, then seeing him off on his flying white horse. Obviously, a lot of this pageantry crossed over to America, except that our St. Nicholas arrives via the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and doesn’t deliver his gifts until December 24.

Swedes wait until St. Lucy’s Day, December 13, to commence Christmas observances. Lucy, who supposedly died in Italy in 304, became a Scandinavian favorite when that region converted to Christianity, beginning in about the eleventh century.

Strange or silly as some of these customs might seem, I’d rather have my calendar structured around the traditions of my faith than around corporate budget forecasts. I don’t care how much retailers worry about fourth-quarter earnings. If they play Christmas music before Thanksgiving, they won’t get my money.

Elesha Coffman is an assistant professor of church history at Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.


St. Lucy’s Day

HOW THE ITALIANS AND SCANDINAVIANS BROUGHT US THE SWEETEST HOLIDAY CELEBRATION OF THEM ALL

Carla Barnhill

THE CROWN OF CANDLES: The centerpiece of the St. Lucia costume, the flaming wreath represents either the flames that could not consume Lucy or the flames that lit her way through the catacombs, depending on which version of the story is told.

CHAD EHLERS / ALAMY

’tis the season of obscure saints and feasts. The Feast of St. Lucy, also known as St. Lucia Day, is celebrated on or around December 13. Unlike the less-well-known feast days that pepper the December calendar, St. Lucia Day has made its way to the church basements and fellowship halls of Lutheran and Covenant churches all over the United States.

A MARRIAGE OF MYTHOLOGY

The specifics of St. Lucy’s story are a bit muddled, but most sources say she was a young Italian woman martyred around AD 310. Lucy was engaged to a man who turned her over to the Roman authorities when she refused to compromise her faith or her virginity before their wedding.

The Romans threatened to force her into prostitution unless she renounced her faith. She refused. But when the authorities tried to physically move her, they couldn’t. Plan B was to stack wood at her feet and burn her, but the flames had no effect. Finally, a soldier ran a spear through Lucy’s throat to make her stop her proclamations of faith, but this, too, failed to kill her. At last, Lucy was given last rites, and only then did she die.

In another, less-violent version of the Lucy story, she earned her place in the litany of saints by bringing food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. To light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible, Lucy fashioned a candlelit wreath for her head.

Eventually, Lucy’s story made its way from Italy to Scandinavia, most likely with missionaries who came to evangelize the Vikings. The story of a young girl bringing light in the midst of darkness no doubt held great meaning for people who, in the bleak North Sea December, were longing for the relief of warmth and light.

CANDLE HATS AND COFFEE

Today Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Italy, and a handful of Slavic countries still celebrate St. Lucia Day. With the exception of Denmark, most Scandinavian countries treat the holiday as a secular event, with local city governments and schools electing official “Lucias” who visit shopping malls, walk in parades, and hand out treats to children and senior citizens. In Italy, Lucy is said to ride on a donkey and bring gifts to good children during the night.

In the United States, the main event is the Lucia procession, usually held at a church on the Saturday or Sunday closest to December 13. Originally an inhome family ceremony, the processional now features an older girl—the chosen Lucia—dressed in her white gown, red sash, and crown of candles and leading a processional of girls of all ages who then serve coffee and St. Lucia buns (a sweet roll made with saffron) to the other women of the church. As the girls process, they sing a Lucia song that describes the light overcoming the darkness.

And the girl who gets to wear the gown and lead the processional? She is the church’s version of the prom queen. Being chosen as St. Lucia is a cherished honor among girls at these churches, one they long for from their first processional when they hold a single candle.

Whether the story is one of true martyrdom or simple saintliness, the Feast of St. Lucy has found its way into Scandinavian-American culture as a mainstay of the Christmas season. [1]


[1] Barnhill, C. (2012). St. Lucy’s Day: How the Italians and Scandinavians Brought Us the Sweetest Holiday Celebration of Them All. Christian History Magazine: The Wonder of the Season, (no. 103), 7.

[1] Coffman, E. (2012). Christmas Countdown: When Does the Holiday Season Really Start? Christian History Magazine: The Wonder of the Season, (no. 103), 5–7.

14 Dec 2021 News Briefing

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Russia threatens to deploy nukes in Europe
Russia said on Monday that it may deploy nuclear missiles in Europe because it claims NATO is doing the same. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s state-run RIA news outlet that it saw “indirect indications” that NATO was nearing deployment of intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe, so it would be “forced” to do the same,

Jews are dressing up as Muslims to pray freely on Temple Mount, Israeli media reveals…But is it real?
A Channel 13 news report released on Monday revealed that Jews were disguising themselves as Arabs in order to enter the Temple Mount and pray unabated. The report went viral on social media throughout Israel. But is it a real phenomenon or was the entire expose state-backed propaganda? “It is worth it to establish here our nation,” the young man answers. “The ultimate goal is to build the Temple here. For the Temple, I am willing to risk my life.”

US defense bill could open way to Taiwan joining RIMPAC naval exercise
Taiwanese naval ships could join next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) for the first time under a defense policy bill for fiscal year 2022 passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

‘Y’all pray for Mayfield’: Town grieves in tornado aftermath
“It blew my mind when the sun came up,” Shreve said, when he and others returned over the weekend to salvage what they could and traded stories of survival in the parking lot. “I don’t see how this town can recover. I hope we can, but we need a miracle.” “I can’t recognize it, it’s not recognizable,” she said. “I can’t even identify what I’m looking at, it’s that bad.”

Biden’s approval rating on key issues sinks even lower
Biden’s job approval rating continues to fall as voters grow increasingly dissatisfied with his handling of key issues, according to a new poll. Just 36% of respondents said they approve of Biden’s handling of crime, a steep 7% drop from 43% in late October, according to the results of an ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted Dec. 10-11 and released Sunday.

See all asteroids near Earth with NASA’s new real-time tool
Numerous asteroids and comets orbit through the solar system, some even approaching the Earth – and now, you can see their orbits and locations for yourself, thanks to NASA’s new interactive Eyes on Asteroids experience.

Tropical depression outside PAR maintains strength, track
The tropical depression outside the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) maintained its strength, as it continued to cross the Pacific Ocean toward the country on Monday morning, Dec. 13, said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). PAGASA said the tropical depression has maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness up to 70 kph while moving westward at 10 kph.

Turkish lira plummets to new low, dragging central bank to the rescue
Turkey’s lira crashed as much as 7% to a record near 15 to the dollar on Monday before whip-sawing back after the central bank intervened, gripped by worries over President Tayyip Erdogan’s risky new economic policy and prospects of another rate cut.

Some Hospitals Drop COVID Vaccine Mandates to Boost Staffing
Some of the country’s largest hospital systems have dropped COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees after a federal judge temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

‘We Have to Rely on Our Faith’: Kentucky Declared a Disaster Area after Tornadoes Swarm
The search for victims continues after a weekend swarm of dozens of tornadoes left a path of destruction through five states. (Screengrab image) In Mayfield, Kentucky, workers on the night shift at Mayfield Consumer Products were in the middle of the holiday rush, cranking out candles, when the word went out: “Duck and cover.” Before and after photos show what happened next. At least four twisters hit Kentucky, including one with an extraordinarily long path of more than 200 miles, possibly the longest in U.S. history.

Biden White House censored its own video feed to appease China by editing out Taiwan minister’s map
Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang’s video feed was cut during a presentation on Friday at President Joe Biden’s virtual Summit For Democracy after she showed a map displaying Taiwan as a different color than the Chinese mainland.

Tropical Storm “Rai” forms east of Philippines, landfall expected over Caraga or Eastern Visayas
Tropical Storm “Rai” formed on December 13, 2021 east of the Philippines as the 22nd named storm of the 2021 Pacific typhoon season. The system is expected to continue intensifying over the next 3 days before it makes landfall over Caraga or Eastern Visayas on December 16 with maximum wind speed near 165 km/h (100 mph), according to the JTWC.

Long-duration storm system to produce heavy snow across much of the U.S. West
A prolonged Atmospheric River will produce heavy snow across much of the U.S. West through Wednesday, December 15, 2021. Snowfall of 60 – 150 cm (2 – 5 feet) or more is likely in the Sierra Nevada, with 30 – 90 cm (1 – 3 feet) expected across much of the western terrain. This will lead to dangerous travel through the mountain passes, NWS Weather Prediction Center warns.

COVID Rules Responsible For Causing 23% Decline In Your Children’s Cognitive Abilities Find Disturbing Study 
According to a disturbing new study, social distancing, facemaks and other such COVID rules are responsible for causing a 23% decline in children’s cognitive abilities. The study also found a similar reduction in the development of children’s communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal.

BREAKING: Air Force discharges 27 for refusing COVID-19 vaccine
It has just been revealed that the US Air Force has discharged 27 people after they refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19. It’s believed that these 27 are the first service members to be removed under the vaccine mandate imposed by the armed forces.

Revealed: “Woke” schools now using the same grooming tactics that are used by predators to seduce kids 
The ‘woke’ nonsense that the left is imposing throughout our society is not just goofy or outright insane in some cases, it is extremely dangerous and it is harming the youngest and most vulnerable among us: our children, who happen to be the future of our country.

Dead pilots, vaccine tyranny, and the exopolitical Artificial Intelligence origins behind the plot to depopulate planet Earth – NaturalNews.com
…now over 111 dead commercial pilots through September of 2021, where there were only 6 dead pilots during the entire year of 2020. (And just 1 in 2019.) What’s killing all the pilots? The answer is obvious: It’s the vaccines.

When Resistance Becomes Duty 
As the government is cranking up the pressure in its final battle to salvage the COVID-19 narrative, there is no getting around civil disobedience anymore.

Los Angeles Police Union Boss Warns Tourists to Stay Away as City Descends Into Third-World Dystopia 
The head of the union representing officers of the Los Angeles Police Department is taking the extraordinary step of warning tourists to stay away from the crime-ridden city during the holiday season, with a crime wave and poor conditions blighting the once-great American city.

This December Marks 33 Years Since My Older Brother Died After Taking Anthony Fauci’s ‘Miracle Drug’ AZT That Was Nothing But Pure Poison
In December 4th, 1988, my older brother Bob who was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, closed his eyes and died in his bed at Beth Israel hospital in New York City. Not from AIDS, but from liver failure and a heart attack. He was 33 years old. His 6′ 6″ frame was stripped to the bone at 120lbs, looking more like a concentration camp victim than a hospital patient he was so emaciated.

The FDA Orders The Us Post Office To Seize Packages Containing Ivermectin 

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Aaron Siri produced documents which show that the US Post Office is illegally holding packages suspected of containing Ivermectin.

Russia Warns of Full-Scale War in Eastern Ukraine, Blames Kyiv – WSJ
The recent deployment of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border and Moscow’s indication that it could intervene in the event of a full-scale war in eastern Ukraine are dimming hopes for a peaceful resolution of the conflict that has festered for seven years and cost thousands of lives.

England Becomes Latest Nation To Demand Their Citizens Receive COVID Booster Shots In Order To Be Considered Fully Vaccinated 
It doesn’t take much intelligence to see that, regardless of whatever COVID variant pops up next, that the New World Order will not relent in their desire to make you receive the global government injection. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t stop you from getting COVID, which the shots do not, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t stop you from being hospitalized, which the shots do not, and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t stop you from dying from COVID, which the shots do not, either. You see, this is not about a virus, it’s about the vaccine.

‘Fully vaccinated are a major source of COVID virus transmission’: virologist, former HHS advisor 
There has been a dramatic underestimation of the evolutionary capacity of SARS-CoV-2 when it is put under widespread immune pressure.

China Vows To Open Fire on US Troops That Come to Taiwan’s Aid
China’s military “will heavily attack U.S. troops who come to Taiwan’s rescue” if a war between China and Taiwan breaks out, a possibility that is increasingly likely as the Communist regime readies its war machine on Taiwan’s borders.

Study finds 5G technology a ‘significant factor’ in higher COVID case and death rates 
A study recently published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) proposed that wireless communications radiation, including 5G, may contribute to COVID-19 symptoms.

In Nearly Every Nation On Earth Around The Globe, Governments Are Waging War Against Their Citizens
Across America and around the globe, the world we live in exists in a state of war on every level of society, and it is not a ‘battle against COVID’, not by a long shot. It is a spiritual battle against the people, with the end goal being global enslavement in preparation of the arrival of Antichrist. CVS Health, which owns 10,000 retail pharmacy locations as well as Aetna, is now partnering with Microsoft so Bill Gates can view your medical records, and more importantly, your vaccination status. Oh yeah, man, that’s what’s up.

South Korea to Use Facial Recognition Cameras to Track COVID Cases, Ensure Mask Compliance
Authorities in South Korea are set to use the country’s facial recognition camera network to track people with COVID in real time and ensure they are wearing face masks.

Nano BioChips From DARPA in Covid “Vaxx’s” Which Are Tracking Devices, DNA Barcoding and Branding of Humans, Etc. Creating New Artificial Molecules & Creating a New Species From Humans: GMO Patentable Humans
The CRISPR-associated Cas-9 protein is an enzyme that acts like a pair of molecular scissors. It is capable of cutting strands of DNA.19 It is relevant to this inquiry because it allows the cutting and replacing of parts of DNA

Source: https://www.raptureready.com/2021/12/14/14-dec-2021/

Headlines – 12/14/2021

‘What the hell was that?’: Netanyahu annexation announcement caught Trump off guard

Olmert supports foe Netanyahu after Trump savaging, calls ex-president ‘pathetic’

How Trump helped Netanyahu by cursing him – analysis

Israeli West Bank annexation halted in 2020 with 24-hours to go

Labor MK, minister vow to keep pushing Western Wall deal amid reported shelving

Troops shoot and kill Palestinian man during West Bank arrest raid

Taxi driver to be charged with aiding terrorist in Jerusalem stabbing

Israeli jets bombed chemical weapon sites in Syria in March 2020 and June 2021

Netanyahu: ‘A grave mistake’ if Israel updated US before striking Iranian sites

Bennett, on landmark UAE visit, meets crown prince to discuss booming ties, Iran

Saudi and Iranian experts hold ‘security dialogue’ in Amman

Turkey’s Central Bank intervenes as currency hits record low

As Turkey’s Currency Collapses, Erdogan’s Support Sinks Even in His Hometown

Orban: Western Europe ‘Experimenting on People’ by ‘Mixing Huge Masses of Muslims with Christians’

Ilhan Omar Bill to Require State Department to Monitor ‘Islamophobia’ Moves Forward

Congress must do more to stop China’s military-industrial spying on US campuses

Tibetans Chain Themselves to Olympic Rings to Protest Beijing Genocide Games

Biden Censored Taiwan Map at ‘Digital Authoritarianism’ Panel on Purpose

Vladimir Putin Calls Soviet Collapse a ‘Tragedy,’ Violation of Russian ‘Sovereignty’

Russia says it may be forced to deploy intermediate nuclear missiles in Europe

Biden Says He’s Willing to Lose His Presidency Over Sticking by His Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal, Says Deaths of US Servicemembers Were Inevitable

Kamala Harris Announces $1.2B Private Sector Investment in Central America as Border Crisis Continues

‘Conflicted Congress’: Key findings from Insider’s five-month investigation into federal lawmakers’ personal finances

Jan. 6 Panel Votes to Recommend Contempt Charge for Meadows

More Than Double Registered Voters than Town Population – Pima County, AZ 2020 Election Integrity Hearing Provides Evidence Of Thousands Of Fraudulent Votes

USPS built and secretly tested a mobile voting system before 2020

Israeli tech removes drone threat from Pope mass

Spain orders 30,000 people to seal themselves indoors as volcano spews toxic gas

Indonesia issues tsunami warning after quake of magnitude 7.5

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near El Pacayal, Mexico

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Tingloy, Philippines

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits southeast of Easter Island

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Tadine, New Caledonia

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 31,000ft

La Palma volcano in the Canary Islands erupts to 25,000ft

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 21,000ft

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 20,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 19,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Semeru volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Nevados De Chillan volcano in Chile erupts to 12,000ft

Tropical Storm “Rai” forms east of Philippines, landfall expected over Caraga or Eastern Visayas

An atmospheric river is forecast to deliver up to a foot of rain and feet of snow to California

Kentucky officials struggle to count the dead after tornadoes: ‘We’re still finding bodies’

Kentucky tornado aftermath: At least 74 dead, over 100 still missing

Factory workers threatened with firing if they left before tornado, employees say

OSHA opens probe into deadly Amazon warehouse collapse in Illinois

Photo from tornado-damaged home lands almost 130 miles away

“This Isn’t a Natural Disaster”: Climate Scientist Michael Mann on Deadly Tornadoes in 8 States

Russia vetoes UN resolution linking climate change as threat to international peace and security

Amazon’s Bezos predicts only limited number of people will get to remain on Earth

UK Police Chiefs Consider Declaring Their Own Forces ‘Institutionally Racist’

‘Argument over backpack’ sparks shooting outside West Charlotte High School, police say

San Francisco’s vaunted tolerance dims amid brazen crimes

Flash-Mob Thefts Planned on Snapchat and Other Apps, Police Say

Convicted Hoaxer Jussie Smollett Facing Multiple Lawsuits: Chicago Police Sue for $130K

Boy Scouts secure $800 million from Chubb insurer for sex abuse settlements

Newspaper Says Alibaba Has Fired Employee Who Accused Former Co-Worker of Sexual Assault

‘Sex Guru’ Still Preaching to a Million Followers While He’s on the Run from the Cops

VR porn use on the rise as female users triple from 2019 to 2021

Japanese Scientists Claim Vaccine Removes ‘Zombie’ Cells Behind ‘Aging-Related Diseases’

U.K. Sees First Death of a Person With Omicron as Government Warns of Wave of Cases

Sao Paulo says it has fully vaccinated 100 percent of its adults. Will it be enough to stop omicron?

Two-dose vaccines don’t induce enough antibodies against omicron: research

Wayne Root: If the Vaccine is So Great, Why are So Many People Dropping Dead? Heart Attacks Skyrocket, Children Suffer Heart Problems, Soccer Players Dropping on Fields, ICUs Overwhelmed From Coast to Coast

160,000 Side Effects From Pfizer COVID Vaccine Recorded In Initial Months Of Rollout Reveals FDA Documents

Nicaragua receives China vaccines after cutting ties with Taiwan

Some Hospitals Drop Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates to Ease Labor Shortages

Air Force discharges 27 for refusal to get Covid vaccine

Rep. Perry: Biden’s Unconstitutional Vaccine Mandate Hurts Military

Arizona sergeant warns plan to fire unvaccinated corrections officers could result in another Waukesha attack

Supreme Court again leaves state vaccine mandate in place for healthcare workers

U.S. Supreme Court rejects religious challenge to New York vaccine mandate

Philadelphia rolls out COVID-19 vaccination requirements for indoor dining establishments

Norway bans serving of alcohol in bid to halt Omicron outbreak

Jobless tourism workers protest travel bans, demand compensation

Hong Kong to require quarantine camp stay for travellers from US

South Korea to use facial recognition to track COVID-19 patients

Wendy Rogers Calls New Zealand PM ‘Lenin With Hair’ over Covid Response, Claims ‘Satanic Communists’ in U.S.

Fed Loses Control As Consumers Now Expect 10% Inflation For Key Staples

Nigel Green: Fed’s Major Policy Shift Will Spook Markets

Source: http://trackingbibleprophecy.org/birthpangs.php

Mid-Day Snapshot · Dec. 14, 2021

“From The Patriot Post (patriotpost.us)”

THE FOUNDATION

“The mild voice of reason, pleading the cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is but too often drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the clamors of an impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate gain.” —James Madison (1788)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

Vaccine Mandates and Religious Exemptions

SCOTUS rejects another chance to weigh in on states eliminating religious exemptions to COVID vaccine mandates.

Thomas Gallatin

In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an emergency request brought by healthcare workers in New York objecting to that state’s vaccine mandate for medical workers that intentionally excludes religious exemptions. This is the second such emergency request rejected by the Court. Back in October, the justices rejected hearing a lawsuit brought by healthcare workers in Maine seeking religious exemption to their state’s vaccine mandate. What gives?

Similar to the Maine case, the healthcare workers in New York sought exemption from the COVID vaccine mandate based on their religious objection to abortion. The suit contended that “abortive-derived fetal cell lines” were used in developing the vaccines.

For its part, the state of New York claimed that the COVID vaccines themselves do not contain aborted fetal cells, but also acknowledged the “HEK-293 cells — which are currently grown in a laboratory and are thousands of generations removed from cells collected from a fetus in 1973 — were used in testing during the research and development phase of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.” The state also argued, “The use of fetal cell lines for testing is common, including for the rubella vaccination, which New York’s healthcare workers are already required to take.”

Furthermore, New York observed that Catholic leaders including Pope Francis have given their approval for receiving the COVID vaccines.

Writing for the Court’s three dissenting members, Justice Neil Gorsuch not only disagreed with the majority’s rejection of the case but further noted that he would have ruled against the state. He contended that New York’s actions show clear animus toward religion. “Even if one were to read the State’s actions as something other than signs of animus,” Gorsuch stated, “they leave little doubt that the revised mandate was specifically directed at the applicants’ unorthodox religious beliefs and practices.” He also highlighted the fact that several other states have been able to meet “COVID-19 public health goals without coercing religious objectors to accept a vaccine.”

The justice wasn’t done. Warning of the nature of political leaders to abuse emergencies for the “collective good,” Gorsuch alluded to wars: “Pandemics often produce demanding new social rules aimed at protecting collective interests — and with those rules can come fear and anger at individuals unable to conform for religious reasons.”

Gorsuch also blasted the majority for failing to address the issue, writing, “We should know the costs that come when this Court stands silent as majorities invade the constitutional rights of the unpopular and unorthodox.”

But it’s not all bad news when it comes to challenges to COVID vaccine mandates. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt recently announced, “The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Department of Justice’s motion for stay pending appeal in our lawsuit against the vaccine mandate on healthcare workers, meaning our injunction will stay in place.”

Moreover, thanks to shortages of nurses and other workers, as well as continued court setbacks for Biden’s mandate, many big hospital systems have dropped vaccine mandates. Not that long ago, nearly a third of healthcare workers remained unvaccinated.

Finally, while the Court has once again dodged weighing in on religious exemptions in relation to these COVID vaccine mandates, it seems that at some point the Court will eventually be forced to take up one of these cases. It’s apparent that some state leaders will continue to push against religious liberty rights at any opportunity that arises.

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Pelosi’s Never Gonna Say Goodbye

The speaker has grown awfully fond of that gavel, but the American people seem more than ready to desert her next November.

Douglas Andrews

What is it about ancient politicians and their death-grip on power? What is it that keeps them from knowing when enough is enough? Nancy Pelosi, the 81-year-old San Franciscan speaker of the House, doesn’t appear the least bit interested in pondering these questions.

Pelosi, who, like Muhammad Ali, has already hung on for a few fights too many, has plans to hang on for a few more. Rather than turning things over to a more youthful, more energetic generation of leftists, Pelosi plans to stay in office at least until after the midterm elections, and possibly beyond. As her dearest pals over at The Most Trusted Name In News™ report:

[Pelosi] is planning to file and run for reelection in her San Francisco district next year — at least for now — in keeping with her pattern of deciding about staying in Congress after the elections, when she likely will have won an 18th full term.

And sources familiar with Pelosi’s thinking say she isn’t ruling out the possibility of trying to stay in leadership after 2022, despite her original vow to leave as the top House Democrat. She’ll devote much of next year to raising money for Democrats as they try to hold their narrow majority, those sources tell CNN, adding to the nearly $1 billion her office calculates she has already raised for Democrats in her time as leader.

It’s hard to know what’s more depressing: that Nancy Pelosi won’t go away, or that she’s raised so much money from so many useful idiots. But there’s an upside to all this: She’s on borrowed time as House speaker. A recent poll from CNBC paints a miserable picture for Pelosi’s party.

According to the survey, President Joe Brandon’s unpopularity seems to have arrested itself at 41% approval to 50% disapproval, but he’s now under water in the only metric on which he’d previously been afloat: his handling of the coronavirus, from which he foolishly declared our independence during the 4th of July holiday. (It’s true that many millions of Americans no longer live in mortal fear of COVID-19 or its variants, but none of this is thanks to the Democrats, who now identify as The Party of the Permanent Pandemic.)

Elsewhere, Biden’s handling of the economy is at a dismal 37% approval to 56% disapproval, and even his tepid approval among those who voted for him has slid from 80% to 69% since April. Of course, the people’s disappointment with a sitting president rarely fails to fasten itself to his party, and this certainly seems to be the case with Scranton Joe.

What should worry Nancy Pelosi more than any of these numbers, though, is her party’s standing on what’s known as the generic ballot question. When survey respondents were asked which party they’d prefer to be in control of Congress, they went 44-34 for Republicans. That’s a historic margin, and it’s up from a mere two-point Republican advantage in CNBC’s October survey. (When Republicans poll near or even with Democrats on this question, they tend to do well in the coming election. When they poll a whopping 10 points ahead of Democrats, well, that has the makings of a serious shellacking.)

Why would Nancy Pelosi decide to stick it out at this point? Because she has no choice. She’s the captain of the House Democrats’ ship, and she has been for nearly 20 years. If she bails now, it’d be a sign to every other wavering Democrat to abandon that ship — to say nothing of the stench of cowardice that would come with such a capitulation.

In late November, in fact, Pelosi sent a letter to donors and grassroots supporters that said, “We are preparing for victory one year out.”

This is delusional, and everyone but Nancy knows it. When it comes to that speaker’s gavel, the American people may just have to pry it out of her cold, dead hands.

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Thankful for you

During what has been a challenging year for us all, we hope you know how much our Patriot Post staff appreciates your support of our year-end fundraising. It takes time to meet this goal, and we are tremendously grateful to those of you who continue to invest in our mission year after year.

As we work to close out the current campaign, if you are able to financially assist us, would you make your gift today?

Every penny counts and is put directly toward our 2022 operations budget.

Thank you in advance for considering this need. If you have already sent in a recent contribution, thank you!

Chinese Hypersonic Missiles Pose a Huge Threat

It’s difficult to overstate what a game-changer this new capability will be for our national security.

John J. Bastiat

The U.S. military prides itself with being the most advanced fighting force in the world. Is it?

The Chinese could offer a compelling case otherwise, at least when it comes to hypersonic missile technology. For example, China has already conducted two tests of its new, nuclear-capable hypersonic glide missile, a weapon for which the U.S. has no parallel — let alone a defense. General John Hyten, retiring vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained that the test missile “went around the world, dropped off a hypersonic glide vehicle that glided all the way back to China,” impacting its test target. Hyten went on to say, “They look like a first-use weapon; that’s what those weapons look like to me.” We’ll add the punchline that the general has used his wise discretion not to deliver: That’s because they are.

These weapons have no defensive use. They are purely offensive weapons, designed for first-strike surprise. Additionally, unlike conventional ballistic missiles, which follow trajectories dictated solely by gravity, hypersonic glide weapons are designed to take advantage of plasma physics and aerodynamics to “bounce” off the earth’s atmosphere to maneuver while en route to a target, all at speeds exceeding one mile per second. Experts also believe China’s nuclear arsenal will exceed 1,000 warheads by the end of this decade. If these warheads are deliverable by hypersonic missiles — delivery capabilities Russia likewise has recently touted — then this newly acquired capability by China poses an unprecedented threat to U.S. national security.

The U.S. pioneered hypersonic technology, beginning with the X-15 in the late 1960s. But its commitment to advancing this technology has flagged for well over a decade, even as adversaries like Russia and China have maintained Manhattan Project-like zeal to develop hypersonic capabilities to destroy their enemies (read: us). As Hyten noted, the evidence of these differing commitment levels can be observed by the fact that China has conducted hundreds of tests of hypersonic weapons over the past five years, while the U.S. has conducted only nine.

For its part, the Biden administration has all but discontinued the U.S. hypersonic program, apparently to show Chinese President Xi Jinping we can beat China with one arm tied behind our back. Or something. Setting aside the grim humor, the seriousness of China’s efforts to produce a fielded array of nuclear-tipped hypersonic missiles capable of reaching any target on the planet within 45 minutes or less cannot be overstated. But it gets worse.

The immediate threat isn’t so much that China would use its hypersonic, nuclear-tipped technologies on the U.S. homeland, but rather that it would use its hypersonic weapons conventionally, in the South and East China Seas, to destroy U.S. carrier fleets deployed to defend Taiwan. Recently speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum, U.S. Space Force Vice Chief of Space Operations General David Thompson highlighted the revolutionary nature of this new threat, likening it to a “magical snowball.” He explained: “If I’m throwing a snowball at you, the instant that snowball leaves my hand you have a sense of whether or not it’s going to hit you. But a hypersonic missile changes that game entirely.”

Not only are these weapons maneuverable, but because they can travel sub-orbitally, their paths are even more unpredictable, as Thompson further elaborated: “I’m going to throw the snowball, it’s going to go around the world and it’s going to come in and hit you in the back of the head. … And so every launch — regardless of where it’s headed — now has the potential that it could be a threat.”

Imagine, for example, China’s initially launching a hypersonic glide weapon ostensibly in a direction completely away from a U.S. carrier, only to destroy that carrier from an entirely different direction less than an hour later. Worse, because of the maneuverability of such a glide weapon, its intended target could not be definitively determined until only moments before impact. And at the speeds these weapons would impact, warheads wouldn’t even be needed for conventional strikes, removing complex warhead fusing issues from the equation. For example, the energy transfer alone would be enough to take out an entire carrier.

The bottom line is that merely to declare that the U.S. must develop defenses to counter this new technology is to grossly understate the urgency of addressing the threat. As of this year, China has the largest navy in the world, solely based on numbers of ships. By itself, this massive naval buildup has been cause enough for concern, as China — which has made no secret of its plans for regional (first) and global (at some point) hegemony — looks to expand its global power projection capability. But coupled with hypersonic weapons, China’s open aggression on the world stage is unlikely to abate, but rather to accelerate.

Simply put, the urgency of matching and blunting the asymmetric impact of this game-changing weaponry China and Russia are feverishly working to field is impossible to exaggerate.

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Olympics: Other Nations Join U.S. ‘Boycott’

A diplomatic proscription is a paper tiger. China’s abuse is not going to stop.

Emmy Griffin

In a world where the qualifications for countries to participate in the Olympics ostensibly include not having outstanding human rights violations on the books, places like China should be banned from participation. And yet, in a world where the International Olympic Committee is also in cahoots with the Chinese government, not only is that country permitted to compete, but it’s hosting the Winter Olympics in February.

President Joe Biden announced last week that the United States would be participating in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. This was after several phone calls and meetings with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping regarding Taiwan were unsuccessful. The reasons given for the boycott cited China’s human rights violations. Biden even accused the Chinese of genocide. Other world leaders have joined the diplomatic boycott. The countries so far are Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

China is deserving of this censure. Communist government officials are, in fact, perpetrators of great human rights violations. They are committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslims. An independent UK tribunal has evidence of forced sterilization, enslavement, and even organ harvesting as a means of killing off minority populations.

This is not really news, though. The U.S. has been aware of these crimes against humanity but largely ignored it for the sake of the almighty dollar. The tipping point for the U.S. vis-à-vis a diplomatic boycott was due in part to China’s geopolitical threats against Taiwan and the attempted disappearing of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a top Chinese official of sexual impropriety.

The Women’s Tennis Association has gone so far as to pull its tournaments out of China. The WTA remains unconvinced that Peng Shuai is safe and free. Its voice is just the latest in the call for action against the Chinese government and its brutal tactics. The Boston Celtics’ Enes Kanter Freedom has been raucously calling out China’s human rights violations along with criticizing the NBA for its tacit support of the regime.

This past week, Freedom’s voice was joined by former NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins. In a video with Freedom, Wilkins said: “History is written in two ways: One, you can sit on the couch and watch how it’s written. Or two, you can do something about it and write history. Which side are we taking? What is happening to the Uyghur people is one of the worst human rights tragedies in the world today. We cannot stay silent.”

However, the effort of athletes standing up to China seems somewhat fruitless.

This diplomatic boycott is merely a symbolic show of protest. In other words, it’s a paper tiger. It is only as much an offense to China as it feels shamed by the boycott. The government is not going to back down from what it’s already doing. In fact, one Chinese official declared that Australia wasn’t invited anyway. (Honestly, Australia isn’t well known for its winter sport prowess, nor is it exactly a free country right now itself.)

Western countries are heavily invested in the money they receive from China. Biden himself is compromised from money procured by his son Hunter. They have no real incentive to actually do what is necessary to curtail Chinese aggression. Last week, the Biden White House seemingly cut the feed of a Taiwanese presenter showing Taiwan a different color on a map than China. Biden’s lackeys deny the allegation, but appeasing dictators is not out of the realm of possibility for this administration.

That’s not to say that a full boycott would persuade the Chinese to desist. They are very aware of how weak our president is and will probably take this opportunity to try to become the world leaders. They have also shown no hesitation with saber-rattling or weapons testing. However, a full unified boycott would signal to China that its bullying can only push countries so far. Regardless, it’s a delicate situation that our aging president is not equipped to handle.

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Promises Matter

Keeping trust whether it’s our word to other nations or politicians promising things to Americans.

Harold Hutchison

The United States is facing a lot of problems. Whether it’s Russia’s aggressive moves in Ukraine, the horribly tragic situation in Afghanistan, China’s various misdeeds, or the various domestic issues, a lot of them come down to one thing: Promises.

When it comes to Ukraine, America has only one option: To defend that country. We made promises, once at the end of the Cold War to get Ukraine to give up former Soviet nukes, and one in 2008 about NATO membership. While we can debate how wise those promises were, the promises were made, and they need to be kept. We’ve already broken our word once on Joe Biden’s watch — the development of a pattern of such word-breaking can only be to the detriment of our national security interests.

Similarly, many of our issues with China surround ambiguity about promises. The United States made a massive promise of arms to Taiwan in 2001. It hasn’t been fulfilled, particularly in the area of submarines. Ironically, the situation involving Australia and France’s canceled submarine deal is a chance to fix that. We’ve also let China get away with breaking promises in areas like trade.

But the country also faces problems from promises at home that weren’t kept. Nowhere has this been more evident than with the pandemic. Many Americans have been fed up with the double standards that emerged. We are almost 21 months past the end of “15 days to slow the spread” that we were told was needed when the pandemic hit America in 2020, yet has life returned to normal, or have the goalposts been moved? We’ve seen the promise that those given power won’t abuse it get broken on numerous occasions.

Those broken promises were compounded by a failure on the part of those who claimed leadership positions in the Republican Party and the conservative movement to keep what were implicit promises to protect their supporters from the abuses. Worse, many purported “leaders” failed to call out the outright lies, vicious smears, and hatred spewed by the Left.

The good news is that there are signs the wake-up call has been heeded and that the Republican Party is adapting. Tim Scott, for instance, has shown ways to fight back without some of the side effects that came from the dose of political chemotherapy that Donald Trump applied to the GOP.

For all of his faults in his personal life, Trump has grasped the importance of keeping promises — at least in the political arena. This is why, unlike a lot of his critics, he retains a lot of support. This is something from which those who wish to take the mantle of leadership should learn.

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Newsom’s Opportunistic Attack on Guns

California’s governor says he’ll use the Texas abortion law as a model for undercutting the Second Amendment.

Thomas Gallatin

“I am outraged by [the] U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’s ban on most abortion services to remain in place,” California Governor Gavin Newsom huffed over the weekend. “But if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way.”

So, a woman hampered from being able to easily end the life of her preborn baby is the one harmed? Yikes. This sort of logic is that upon which an agenda is built — the concept of special rights for some. It results in devastating consequences, namely the government-sanctioned ending of the lives of the most innocent among us, the preborn.

It is indeed ironic that Newsom claims to be acting to protect lives when his efforts will cost lives. Moreover, he’s pushing to severely limit Californians’ access to their Second Amendment rights using the Texas law that actually does save lives by limiting abortions.

Newsom plans to create a law based on the Texas formula that would effectively ban “assault”-style weapons and “ghost guns” while using private citizens’ legal action as the enforcement mechanism.

“I have directed my staff to work with the Legislature and the attorney general on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the state of California,” Newsom said. “If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that.”

Rifles of any type are used to murder between 200 and 300 people each year. That’s not minimization. It’s context. Because here’s another irony: Abortions are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in California each year — many times that of all firearms combined.

Unfortunately, while Newsom’s comments are egregious, what he has done is exposed the biggest problem with Texas’s novel anti-abortion law. If a law can be designed with the intention of creating a legal workaround from holding the state accountable for enforcement of a law, then it can be used against conservative interests just as easily as Texas is using it against abortion. Success in court isn’t guaranteed, but this will create serious headaches for gun owners in the meantime.

As for the abortion case, SCOTUS’s decision to not place an injunction against Texas’s new law until it hears the case is the right decision, but that does not by any means suggest that the justices are preparing to uphold the controversial law. The reasoning on SCOTUS’s part is sound. The Wall Street Journal editorial board observes: “The key question: Who can sue whom? S.B.8 was written to be difficult to block before its enforcement, because state officials were meant to play no role. Instead the law authorizes private parties to bring lawsuits. So until somebody tries to enforce S.B.8, where can abortion providers go to seek relief? The Court unanimously agreed Friday in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson that they cannot pre-emptively bring a lawsuit against a citizen who swore he had no plans to try to enforce S.B.8.”

SCOTUS will eventually rule on Texas’s novel anti-abortion law, and it likely will be a ruling that has wide-ranging ramifications either way the Court decides. Until then, Newsom may have merely fired the first shot across the bow.

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On the Web

EXECUTIVE NEWS SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Top of the Fold

  • Military will not punish any officials for drone attack killing seven Afghan children (Daily Wire)

As our Mark Alexander has noted, the disciplinary action needs to be against our military operators’ incompetent commander-in-chief.

  • Open-borders fallout: Texas mother and daughter killed by illegal immigrant smuggler fleeing from police (Townhall)

Politics

  • January 6 Inquisition votes to recommend contempt charges for Mark Meadows (National Review)
  • Biden says he’d be willing to lose presidency over disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal (Daily Wire)
  • Facebook makes shocking admission about its “fact-check” labels in court filing (PJ Media)

Heartland

  • Seventy-four dead, more than 100 still unaccounted for in Kentucky tornado disaster (NBC News) | Factory workers threatened with firing if they left before tornado, employees say (NBC News)
  • California to reimpose universal indoor mask mandate (Fox News)
  • Victims of USA Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar to be paid $380 million in settlement (Daily Wire)

Security

  • Non compos mentis: Air Force discharges 27 active duty airmen for refusing to take COVID jab (Fox News)
  • Biden’s Beijing Olympics boycott sputters as South Korea, other U.S. allies say no (Washington Times)

World

  • Thanks to Trump’s Abraham Accords, Israeli prime minister makes historic UAE visit, stressing “new reality” for region (CNBC)
  • Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai sentenced over banned Tiananmen vigil (The Guardian)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: The uniquely dangerous movement to end the Electoral College (National Review)
  • Policy: How to stop gerrymandering (National Review)
  • Humor: Brave: Chris Wallace comes out of closet as fake news journalist (Babylon Bee)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit Headline Report.

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Editor’s Note: Each week we receive hundreds of comments and correspondences — and we read every one of them. Click here for a few thought-provoking comments about specific articles. The views expressed therein don’t necessarily reflect those of The Patriot Post.

VIDEOS

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Most new insights come only after a superabundant accumulation of facts have removed the blindness which prevented us from seeing what later comes to be regarded as obvious.” —Isidor Issac Rabi (1898-1988)

“China is unfit to host the 2022 Olympics. President Biden missed an opportunity to pressure the IOC to postpone the games and find a new host country. A diplomatic boycott won’t dissuade the Chinese Communist Party from continuing its human rights abuses, genocide against the Uyghurs, and coronavirus cover-up. Once again, Biden is leading from behind and making a face-saving effort rather than taking the bold action necessary to confront China.” —Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts

Tone-deaf: “I don’t mean to sound alarmist, I mean this: Women will die. I’m very concerned about it. Women will die. In particular, women who don’t have economic resources and can’t then travel to places or somehow have access to safe reproductive health care, including abortion.” —Kamala Harris

Trust her — she’s a doctor: “I think that’s ridiculous.” —Jill Biden, who could’ve kept us from this, when told, “Quite a few Americans have some questions about the president’s current mental fitness.”

The BIG Lie I: “I’ve been against that war in Afghanistan from the very beginning.” —Joe Biden (“Biden did not oppose the invasion of Afghanistan… Then a senator from Delaware, he joined his colleagues in a unanimous vote in support of the 2001 authorization of military force against ‘nations, organizations, or persons’ that then-President George W. Bush determined to have helped perpetrate the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” —Fox News)

The BIG Lie II: “Everybody says, ‘You could have gotten out without anybody being hurt.’ No one’s come up with a way to indicate to me how that happens.” —Joe Biden (“Critics do not fault the president for failing to have ‘gotten out without anybody being hurt’ but rather for breaking his own promise not to leave Americans behind, among other things.” —Fox News)

Demagogue: “The bottom line is that the way to avoid this virus is to get two shots and then get the booster shot. … It’s patriotic to get this done.” —Joe Biden (Except that the goal posts keep moving … and moving … and moving.)

Reprehensible: “We should do all we can to help our Kentucky neighbors. God be with them — they are hurting. But do not for one second forget that Rand Paul has voted against helping most Americans most times they’re in need.” —Congressman Eric Swalwell

Braying jenny: “We know Rand Paul is a heartless hypocrite. The people in Kentucky deserve the relief regardless of their buffoonish leadership, but if the Dems don’t use this against him and his party in the future, it is a missed opportunity.” —former ESPN host Jemele Hill

Village idiot I: “Sorry Kentucky. Maybe if your 2 senators hadn’t spent decades blocking legislation to reduce climate change, you wouldn’t be suffering from climate disasters. If it’s any consolation, McConnell and Rand have f’ed over all of us, too.” —producer and director Noel Scovell

Village idiot II: “Tie FEMA aid to US senators from that state’s vote to tax carbon, stop fracking, support solar and address Climate Change. No federal clean up funds for people who have helped create the disaster.” —Noel Scovell

And last… “Visited my local public library this past weekend for the first time in years. Very nice place, though I was surprised to find Orwell’s ‘1984’ misfiled under ‘fiction.’ Being a good citizen, I rectified the oversight.” —Pat Sajak

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TODAY’S CARTOON

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“From The Patriot Post (patriotpost.us)”

Advent- Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 18, The Highest King

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

thirty days of jesus day 18

Further Reading

Though the verse is literally speaking about King David, the relation of David to Christ means the verse also prefigures the preeminence of King Jesus. The throne, through David’s line, would last forever through Christ.

Gill’s Exposition says,

Also I will make him my firstborn,…. Or, “make him the firstborn”; make him great, as Jarchi interprets it; give him the blessing, the double portion of inheritance: so Christ is made most blessed for ever, and has all spiritual blessings in his hands; and is heir of all things, and his people joint-heirs with him. Christ is God’s “firstborn”, or “first begotten”, Hebrews 1:6, being begotten by him, and of him; …even him the Father promises to make “higher than the kings of the earth”; having a kingdom of a superior nature to theirs, and a more extensive and durable one; and even they themselves shall…

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CNN boss Jeff Zucker is captain of sinking ship amid multiple scandals, ratings woes: critics

CNN boss Jeff Zucker’s network is plagued by scandal, embarrassing headlines and struggles to attract an audience as critics wonder if the TV honcho is on thin ice.

Source: CNN boss Jeff Zucker is captain of sinking ship amid multiple scandals, ratings woes: critics

Faith Nation: December 13, 2021

TONIGHT, TORNADO TRAGEDY: PRAYER AMID DEVASTATION AFTER SOME 36 TORNADOES TEAR THROUGH SIX STATES; SCORES OF PEOPLE ARE DEAD AS SEARCH AND RESCUE CREWS TEAR THROUGH THE RUBBLE. PLUS, THE LATEST ON MASK MANDATES AND VACCINE REQUIREMENTS AS COVID CASES INCREASE ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

Source: Faith Nation: December 13, 2021

Maria Bartiromo, Democrat lawmaker spar over Build Back Better agenda, term limits

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., joined ‘Mornings with Maria’ to discuss the cost of Build Back Better and how massive government spending will impact the economy. FOXBusiness

Source: Maria Bartiromo, Democrat lawmaker spar over Build Back Better agenda, term limits