There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. —Soren Kierkegaard. "…truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity–it is simply true and that is the end of it" – Os Guinness, Time for Truth, pg.39. “He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” These words from the closing verse of the Book of Judges, and seem offered as the only excuse for all the grim and tragic deeds told of during that dark period. From them it is pleasant to turn to the Book of Ruth, which, while dealing with the same period, portrays its softer side, draws pictures of days of peace and joy within the land.
The story is of the tribe of Judah; and it is noteworthy that though Judah was the strongest tribe of the twelve, there is little mention of this tribe in the Book of Judges. Perched securely among the southern mountains, the men of Judah escaped most of the invasions which crushed their brethren to the northward. Judah had no such heavy need of deliverers.
Yet even the Book of Ruth begins with a scene of misery. “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled that there was a famine in the land.” To escape this a man of Beth-lehem, named Elimelech, left his home, and with such of his flocks and herds as still survived the increasing scarcity, passed over the Jordan into the land of Moab. With Elimelech in his dreary journey into exile, went his wife Naomi, and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion.
And the Lord said unto Abraham, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward, for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
A special blessing for a memorable occasion. Abram had settled a family dispute. He had said, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, for we be brethren”; and hence he received the blessing which belongs to peacemakers. The Lord and giver of peace delights to manifest His grace to those who seek peace and pursue it. If we desire closer communion with God, we must keep closer to the ways of peace.
Abram had behaved very generously to his kinsman, giving him his choice of the land. If we deny ourselves for peace’s sake, the Lord will more than make it up to us. As far as the patriarch can see, he can claim, and we may do the like by faith. Abram had to wait for the actual possession, but the Lord entailed the land upon him and his posterity. Boundless blessings belong to us by covenant gift. All things are ours. When we please the Lord, He makes us to look everywhere and see all things our own, whether things present or things to come, all are ours, and we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
40:8 This is a glorious affirmation of the total sufficiency and eternal existence of God’s word. Regardless of the decay of nature, human frailty, and changing circumstances, God’s word is sure. He gives absolute promises which certainly will be accomplished. His word lives and breathes in the hearts of those who, through the ages, have been regenerated.
40:8will stand forever The impermanence of human life is contrasted with the permanence of God.
40:8 the word of our God stands forever. The permanence of God’s word guarantees against any deviation from the divine plan (55:11). He has promised Jerusalem’s deliverance (v. 2) through His coming (vv. 3–5), so it must happen that way (cf. Mt 5:18; Lk 16:17).
40:8 — “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Critics have attacked the Bible for centuries, but it still stands. They die; it remains. Their works are forgotten; it still generates front page news. We can bank our lives on the trustworthy Word of God.
8 The opening words repeat the commencement of the previous verse, but the conclusion is different. The thought climaxes in the assertion that God’s word is enduring. Whereas the plot of heathen kings against Judah will not ‘stand’ (see Isa. 7:7), the Lord’s word will.
Ver. 8. The grass withereth.—The decay of the material:—
Viewed in its immediate relations to the context, the “flesh,” which is grass, is the vast population of the Babylonian empire. The “goodliness thereof,” which is the flower of the grass, is the pomp and pride of the Babylonian civilisation. The “Word of the Lord” is that prophetic word of the future glory of Israel and her Messiah-King which seems to have found a grave of oblivion beneath the overshadowing growth of Babylonian splendour.
I. The necessary decadence of all that is simply material and earthly.
1. The world had never looked upon a more splendid civilisation than that which greeted the eye of the prophet as he looked down in vision upon the great empire of Nebuchadnezzar. For a thousand years Babylon had been the seat of empire, but under her present sovereign she had risen to a glory of which her founders had never dreamed. Nebuchadnezzar, following in the footsteps of Nabopolassar, his illustrious father, had extended his empire by conquest until he was in fact as well as in name, “King of men.” Northward, he held all Assyria in subjection, and reigned to the limits of the frozen zone. Southward, he had subjugated Egypt with its vast empire, and reigned to the limits of the equatorial belt. Tyre, with all her world-wide commerce, was his vassal, and so his fame had been carried to the remotest borders of the great west. This vast empire it was now the ambition of Nebuchadnezzar to consolidate and unify. For this purpose he had opened long lines of communication between its remotest parts. Canals, one of which was five hundred miles in length; highways across the great deserts connecting with the hills of Arabia and the Mediterranean Sea, with caravansaries, fortified garrisons, wells of water, &c., at all needed points; walled cities along the great thoroughfares as storehouses and resting-places for man and beast—these were amongst the wise provisions for bringing the people of various nationalities and races into the cordial relations of mutual interchange and commerce. But the purposes of the great conqueror went further than this. To give stability to his empire he sought to bring about an amalgamation of all the races and a unification of all the religions within his realm. This was the significance of the image of gold which was set up in the plain of Dura, and which all were required to worship on penalty of being thrown into the furnace of fire. And when, in obedience to the Divine voice, the prophet declared all this might and glory to be but as the evanescent and fading flower, you and I, if we had been present, would have looked upon him as some misanthropic churl. And yet, what were the real facts in the case? Within less than forty years from the time to which the prophet alludes, the city was captured and pillaged, the seat of government removed, and the empire distributed among the conquering allies.
2. We find ourselves to-day in the midst of a civilisation as much more splendid than that of Rome as the latter was superior to that of Chaldea. In all that constitutes true greatness; in all that is at once beneficent and beautiful; in liberty, in philanthropy, in literary and æsthetic culture, in adventure of science and perfection of art, there seems scarcely anything more to be desired. Humanity seems at last to have attained its goal. Culture is in its richest and most perfect flower. We are ready to say, “Surely this consummate civilisation of our race shall not wither like that of Babylon or Rome!” Has it any elements of durability that its forerunners had not? The answer to these questions will be found in the answer to another, namely, whether this civilisation shall root itself simply in that which is material, or shall be permeated by that which is spiritual and Divine? For amidst all the decadence of the past, there has been ever that which could not perish, which was not subject to change, and which had the power of communicating its own stability to all that came under its influence.
II. The stability of that which is spiritual and Divine. “The Word of the Lord.” Other things undergo mutations, but it abides ever the same. It has also this marvellous property, that it communicates the elements of its own permanence to all that comes under its influence. It is thus like a seed cast into the soil, which takes up inert matter, incorporating it with itself, and thus imparting to it the life which is immanent in itself. Of this life-containing, life-imparting power of the Word of God we may find beautiful illustration in the history of the decline and fall of the empires to which we have referred. Look first at Babylon. Is there anything that shall survive the wreck of the imperial city? Yes, there is a captive people, despised, toiling as slaves in the erection of the splendid architectural monuments of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Few and feeble apparently they are, overshadowed by the countless hosts of Chaldea. But they are believers in the Word of the Lord. That Word has, as an incorruptible seed, found a lodgment in their hearts. It has imparted to them its own immortality. Babylon, that rejects this Word, shall perish; but Israel that believes it and lives upon it shall survive. That which we have seen to be true in this respect of Babylon was equally true of Rome. The eternal city was “laid on heaps,” but from the ruins came Christianity in all the beauty of undying youth. The Vandals that destroyed everything else had no power over it. Nay, in the breasts of the very slaves whom they bore to their northern homes, they carried this incorruptible seed. The religion of the slave conquered the master; and hence came that hardy type of Celtic and Saxon Christianity which made the north of Europe the seed-bed of the Reformation. There are preserving salts which, taken up into the pores of the frailest grass and the most delicate flower, do, as it were, transfigure them in their beauty and so preserve them for ever from decay. And thus the religion of Christ has power to give immortality to that which is most fleeting and evanescent. It lays its wand upon that frail flower of physical beauty which lasts but for a day, and it transforms it into the undecaying beauty of the resurrection. It enters into the pulses of youthful ardour and enthusiasm, and makes them beat high and warm in pursuits that can never be interrupted and from motives that never pall. It lifts ambition to a higher plane. It gives to all the activities of the soul their normal and healthful development. It brings the favour of God which is life, and His loving-kindness which is better than life. And what it does for individuals it does in a certain sense for nations also. Let the atheistic materialism, which is seeking to supplant Christianity, become the dominant influence in this country, and Ichabod is written upon all our institutions. The fate of Babylon and of Rome will be ours. The nation and kingdom that will not serve God shall perish. (T. D. Witherspoon, D.D.)
The flower fadeth.—Progress in decay:—
There are at least two sides to everything. To everything in morals there is a dark and a bright side. Every truth is a revelation of God—a Theophany—a Shechinah. And as the Divine pillar in the Exodus had sometimes an aspect of cloud, and sometimes of fire, so is it with all truth. Its appearance alters with our own changes of character or condition; to the eye of sense it may be a Shechinah of gloom, to the eye of faith a Shechinah of glory. Thus is it with our text.
I. Let us contemplate it first by the eye of sense. Let us sit solemnly together in the shadow of the Shechinah. How depressing seems the thought! What a tender and fragile growth is “the grass”! How short-lived all the goodliness of “the flower of the field”! Yet such is human life!
1. “The flower fadeth!” How impressive the truth when we think of others—the beloved of home and life! Where are the happy children who sat with you in the school, and went forth in your holiday?—the men and women who shared with you life’s heavier tasks and strangely saddened joys? How many of them do you meet to-day?
2. “The flower fadeth!” How impressive the truth when you think of yourselves! Where now is the bounding heart of your childhood? Where the unclouded hopefulness of youth? As the tide of time rolls on, first, youthful beauty fades like a flower. Then activity declines: the airy step of childhood flags into the slow measures of weary feet! Then strength decays: the right arm loses its cunning, the form bends under its load! Meanwhile, even the moral man seems to share the infirmities of the physical; the tender affections are chilled, the glorious intellect unhinged or exhausted. And it is all saddening—this withering of the human blossom, and the heart recoils from its emblem—a fading flower! Let us so live that it may be said of us truly, “His glorious beauty was a fading flower.” For the fading flower hath fulfilled well its ministry! Was its life long or short; was its beauty great or little; was its sphere wide or narrow; the flower had done well the special work God gave it to do. Richly varied and full of splendour was the flora of the now barren Palestine in the days when Isaiah swept from his harp this requiem to the withering flower! In nothing, perhaps, are there more notable differences than in the spheres and services of flowers. In the wild howling desert the stately palm waves its radiant flower-tuft, and many a lowly plant and shrub open fragrant blossoms. And amid Polar ice-fields and in the fissured lava of volcanoes come forth these sweet children of the summer in their ministry of beauty and of love. Meanwhile, earth’s fairer fields are beautified, like old Eden, with their blessed omnipresence. They are all of different classes and uses; but each, in its own season and sphere, makes its little life a blessing—and the air of heaven is sweeter, and insect-life is fed, and the heart of childhood is thrilled with joy, and the soul of wearied manhood is made happier and holier, because of the silent yet earnest ministries of the fading flower!
II. To the eye of faith the Shechinah is glorious. Indeed, did these tides of time roll over a sinless world, every premonition even of our mortal decay would awaken only joyful anticipations and emotions. For what, after all, is a flower? Is it in itself a perfection—a consummation? No! far from it! It is, at most, a phenomenon of progress! And its decay is only the passing away of a good thing, giving place to a better! The great end and purpose of all vegetable life is the perfected seed! And analogous to this is the progress and development of man’s mortal life. Its earthly offices and uses are only for the strengthening within of the spiritual and immortal; our present life, with all its activities and enjoyments, is but the flower-form of a being whose fruit-form or seed-form is in an after and higher life! And death itself is no more than the falling of the petals from the well-set fruit. Therefore, as the wise husbandman grieves not when his orchards shower their gay blossoms, but rejoices, rather, because this is but a prophecy and promise of the golden wealth of autumn, so we should not grieve when, in the development of man, the mortal flower-leaves fall away from the swelling fruit of immortality!
1. It applies to individuals. Fruit is always of greater value than flowers. Therefore, the trained intellect, the calm judgment, the sanctified affections, the subdued passions, the strong, regnant conscience of the mature man, are worth incalculably more than the fiery impulses, the hot and headlong passions, and all the prodigal bloom and aroma of his younger and fairer life. It applies as well to communities or nations—to that organic life of the race which constitutes its oneness. Here, too, the fruit is worth more than the flowers.
2. The world has had its radiant spring-time and its gorgeous flora. In Rome, Greece, Persia, Egypt, Assyria, Judæa, human nature put forth splendid blossoms until the whole air was fragrant with intoxicating aroma. The old philosophy, the old mythology, the old arts and eloquence and poetry—the whole power and passion of the young imperial genius of old time gave to earth the seeming of a fairy palace filled with shapes and sounds of surpassing splendour. And verily that weird glory hath passed away! But have we lost by the decay? Are earth and life sadder than in those heroic times? Would you exchange your printing-press for all the pencils of old artists, and the tongues of old orators, and the harps of old minstrels? Would you barter railroad and telegraph and steamship for all the radiant dreams of the old idealists? Would you give up your simple Christian faith for the old gorgeous mythology?
3. We are considering the whole of earthly life as the flower-form, rudimental to the heavenly fruit-form; and the analogy between flower-life and man-life is manifold.
(1) Flowers differ widely in their beauty and glory. Among species ranking as equals, how the lily differs from the rose; and both from the violet! And so is it of humanity. It has its roses, and lilies, and violets; and now and then a magnificent or monstrous aloe, and always its countless myriads of flowers of the grass. And although to the eye of sense the value of flowers is according to their outward manifestations; yet, true wisdom regards colour and aroma as only phenomenal of progress. Presently the petals, alike of the grand flower and the tiny blossom, will wither, and of both the value seems only in the accomplishment of their Maker’s purpose with the fruit or the seed. So God accounts of His children. The king, the conqueror, the man of imperial gifts and genius will die as fades the great aloe, and the humble pass away as the flower of grass. And then the search, as material for the Judgment, will be the fruit or seed of the developed character.
(2) Flowers differ widely in their seasons and spheres of influence. Fair children die like snowdrops in the early spring. Then come the summer flora. Men in the meridian splendour of their powers passing away, as vineyards and orchards and meadows shower their prodigal blossoms. Nor is the human winter without its flowers of exquisite fragrance and beauty. We have them in our midst, men whose grey heads are our crowns of glory. And as in their seasons, so in their spheres, men, like flowers, differ. At the foot of the awful arctic glacier did our heroic Kane find blossoms of delicate beauty; and in the dreariest waste of Sahara the eye of the fainting explorer grew bright as it fell on a bursting flower. So is it of human influence. In the loneliness of obscurity, in the humiliation of poverty, in the dark chamber of patient, unpretending suffering, have saintly spirits wrought a gracious work.
(3) Meantime, human life and flower-life are alike, mainly because both are phenomenal of progress. Earthly life is short, and we would not have it longer. The season of flowers is full of peril to the tender germ of fruit. Having perfected the seed, nature’s next care is to disperse or distribute them. Some are borne away on their own airy wings, and as they float up in the sunshine, freed of their heavy earthy beauty, the perfected seed, as a spiritualised blossom, seems fairer than all flowers! Some are borne across oceans, and take root in other continents. Such is the progress and development of that whose young life was born of a fading flower! Oh, to a prescient eye what possibilities, what colours of beauty, what forms of majesty, what felicities, what glorious hopes, what ineffable fruitions, are embosomed in a seed! And analogous to thus—but immeasurably more wonderful—are the embryonic powers, and shall be the development of the human soul in the after-state! (C. Wadsworth.)
We expect the leaves to fade and fall in October. They have had their full time of growth and unfolding, and their fair share of the beauty and blessedness of the world. But there is nothing to prepare us for the fading of the blossoms of early summer. When, therefore, we see the flowers fading on the ground and the blossoms falling from the tree, our feelings receive something like a shock. The contrast between the death of these fair creations and the bright overflowing fulness of life around fills us with a peculiar sadness. A premature fate, we feel, has overtaken them; they have not had their full share of the feast of life.
1. Looking exclusively at the fact itself, there is nothing but sadness in the fading of the flower. It seems a wanton destruction of so much life and beauty; and we are apt to ask, “To what purpose is this waste?”
2. But much as we mourn all these fading flowers, the human as well as the natural, we cannot wish them to abide for ever. It is the fading flower that is so wonderfully beautiful. Fix its beauty unchanged, and you make it an artificial flower, a dry mummy. It is the fleeting human blossom that is so tenderly dear. We love each other more devotedly owing to the shadow feared of man that falls upon and consecrates our love; because we must soon, we know not how soon, be parted. We should feel everlasting flowers to be utterly incongruous in a world of change and decay; their steadfast continuance, when there was no reason for their continuance, would weary and offend our minds.
3. But the truth of the fading flower has another and a brighter side. It is not all death and desolation. We shall pass at once out of the shadow into the sunshine when we consider the reason why the flower fades. The flower fades that the fruit may take its place. The fading of the flower, rightly viewed, is therefore a natural and necessary phenomenon of life. In itself it is joyous, and not grievous. In the unfallen Eden the fading flowers suggested no thought of gloom to Adam, but only of bright progress from life to fuller life, from a lower to a higher stage of development and perfection. Viewed, then, in the light of Him who hath brought life and immortality to light in His Gospel, and free from the cloud of sin, the fading of human-life and of flower-life is not in reality sad, but joyful. Man dies, but his life on earth is only for the formation of the eternal life. Every gift we receive is but a promise; every beauty we behold but a prophecy; every pleasure we enjoy but a foretaste. The Christian’s whole life is but the earnest of the inheritance that awaits him. We see by faith, although we are slow of heart to believe it, that our very losses and privations are ministering to a noble and goodly development pregnant with an everlasting promise. Death itself is the act of blossoming. It is a scientific fact that it is the dying plant alone that flowers. Blossoming is the highest point in plant life. When it has produced its blossom it perishes. In human life it is so likewise. Our existence here is but a daily dying, the continual production of a blossom, within whose petals as they wither is expanding the immortal fruit; and death is but the final falling of the sere petals from the fruit when it has set. It is not destruction, but development; the mortal not destroyed, but putting on immortality.
4. Then, consider that the blossom belongs to the plant itself, the fruit to the race. The blossom is the end of the selfish life; the fruit is the beginning of the unselfish.
5. Further still, the plant that flowers is confined to one spot; but when it fruits and seeds it gets wings, as it were, and can fly away from its natal place to long distances, as you have often seen the thistle-down or the fleecy parasol of the dandelion do, to make the wilderness and the solitary place to be glad, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose. Is it not so in human life? That death which seems to bound our life, in reality gives us wings, and takes us out of this cramped and narrow sphere of change, and sorrow, and sin, into the freer air and larger sunshine of God’s everlasting kingdom. The fruition of life is not the limitation, but the freedom and enlargement of life. And who knows what life and beauty and blessedness to others may spring from seed dropped by our losses and death? Looking thus at this life as only the flower-form of our being, we see the reason of its brevity. The life of the blossom is short because it has to prepare the way for the fruit; and the season in which it is put forth is dangerous to the formation of the tender germ. We should welcome the growing infirmities and decays of life as signs that summer, the season of fleeting glories, is passing away, and that autumn, the season of enduring fruition, is drawing nigh. They proclaim to us that now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.
6. But I reserve the grandest thought connected with my theme to the last. The flower fades and falls off the plant, but it does not altogether vanish; it does not perish utterly. Some part of it, larger or smaller, according to the species, remains behind to form the nucleus of the fruit. In every case the lower part of the central and most important part of the blossom is left, and it is out of it that the fruit is formed. A good deal of the fleeting flower, indeed all that is essential in it, is thus made permanent in the enduring fruit; and the fruit itself may be looked upon as a more perfect and lasting blossom, retaining the colour, and fragrance, and grace of form that distinguished the blossom, but superadding qualities, such as nutritiousness and flavour, which the blossom lacked. Is not the analogy here very instructive and consoling? Not only do all our sanctified losses turn to gains, but the gains are largely composed of what we lost. We take up with us into every stage of our advancing progress what was best and most serviceable in the previous stage; and in the fruit of our achievements we can trace much of the fair blossoms of hope and aspiration which led to its formation. Nothing that is really good in human life ought to be thrown away as useless when we have outgrown it. The good of childhood ought to remain in manhood. The enthusiasm, the freshness of interest, the innocent simplicity, the spirit of hope, inquiry, and wonder which characterise our early years, ought to endure late in life, under the calmer and quieter outside of maturity. Let us not mourn, then, that so many fair and precious things pass away from us as we go on to our immortality; for nothing that is really essential to our well-being shall perish utterly, but shall be absorbed into our souls and become their eternal wealth. (H. Macmillan, LL.D.)
The thought of death is not to be dwelt upon morbidly in the manner of Swift, who said, “I was forty-seven years old when I began to think of death, and the reflections upon it now begin when I wake in the morning and end when I am going to sleep.” But it is well for us to have the thought at hand. (W. R. Nicoll, LL.D.)
The Word of our God shall stand for ever.—The higher criticism:—
I. What is meant by “the Word of our God”? You answer, “The Bible.” I think not. At least, and certainly, to Isaiah it could not mean more of the Old Testament than he possessed—a mere fragment of the Book in our hands. Even to Peter it could not have meant all the records we have, seeing that some had not been written when he repeated the prophet’s statement. What, then, are we to understand by this phrase, “the Word of our God”? Simply, truth. Truth in its very widest sense, whether in the Bible or out of it, is “the Word of God.”
II. Higher criticism proposes to solve for you and me, what we have neither the time nor ability to do for ourselves, to what extent interpolation has gone on. It is a strictly honest, unbiassed, sincere scrutiny into the claims, history, authorship, date, and language of the books of the Bible.
III. What will be the result? Only good. If we are honest we shall want only the truth; and after the examination is completed truth will stand more grandly than ever before us.
IV. Our attitude toward higher criticism may well be for these reasons—
1. One of welcome. We rejoice in every honest and reverential inquiry for truth.
2. One of hope. The future of our faith looks all the brighter from the discussions and questionings of to-day. Men are beginning to think. An interest is awakening in the vast questions that relate to our higher life.
3. One of confidence. Are we wise in our fear for the safety of “the Word of our God”? Does “the Word of our God” need our defence? Is not He pledged to its security? That which cannot stand the test of criticism had better go; but truth, “the Word of our God, shall stand for ever.” (J. E. W. Cook.)
The enduring Word:—
“The Word of the Lord endureth for ever.” How do we know that? Certainly, not in the same way as we are sure of the universality of death. We know it to be true if we believe two things—
1. That God, the perfect moral being, exists.
2. That He has spoken to man. The Word of God, speaking in conscience, in revelation, is like God Himself—above the waterfloods of change; it lasts. (H. P. Liddon, D.D.)
The passing and the abiding:—
I. Since the Word of our God shall stand for ever, the Bible will remain.
1. Think of the Bible as history. “The Old Testament is supported by the exhumed records of the kings of Egypt and Babylon and Nineveh and Moab. We are now shown in the Boulag Museum at Cairo the very body of the Egyptian king who oppressed Israel. At a hundred points confirmatory evidence has been dug out of the Assyrian ruins. In the day when the Bible was attacked by unbelief, there appeared out of the very ground hosts of defenders. God’s Providence supports His Book.”
2. Think of the Bible as to philosophy. John Stuart Mill will tell us, “It is impossible to find in the ideas of any philosophy, even the latest, a single point which is not anticipated and ennobled in Christianity.”
3. Think of the Bible as to science. It is true, as one has said wisely and wittily, that “the intention of Holy Scripture is to teach us to go to heaven, and not how the heavens go.” And yet the great astronomer Sir John Herschel will tell us: “All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more strongly the truth contained in the Sacred Scriptures.”
4. Think of the Bible as to morals. Those words of James Russell Lowell, spoken so bravely at a dinner in London, before a company of sceptics, are well worth treasuring: “The worst kind of religion is no religion at all. And those men, living in ease and luxury, indulging themselves in the amusement of going without religion, may be thankful that they live in lands where the Gospel they neglect has tamed the beastliness and ferocity of the men who, but for Christianity, might long ago have eaten their carcasses like the South Sea Islanders, or cut off their heads and tanned their hides like the monsters of the French Revolution.” This Bible, the Word of God, which history substantiates, which philosophy cannot anticipate, which science reinforces, which is the source of all true morals and secure civilisation, is to abide.
II. Since the Word of our God shall stand for ever, the kingdom of Christ is to endure and conquer. For the very heart and kernel of God’s Word is the revelation of the certainly vanquishing kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
III. Since the Word of our God standeth for ever, heaven will shine on us at the last. (W. Hoyt, D.D.)
“The Word of our God”:—
All explanations can be reconciled by suffering the prophet to express his own ideas, without any adventitious limitation and admitting, as the only sure conclusion, that by “Word” he means neither promise, nor prophecy, nor Gospel merely, but “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). There is a tacit antithesis between the Word of God and man; what man says is uncertain and precarious, what God says cannot fail. Thus understood, it includes prediction, precept, promise, and the offer of salvation; and although the latter is not meant exclusively, the apostle makes a perfectly correct and most important application of the verse when, after quoting it, he adds, “and this is the Word which is preached (εὐαγγελισθέν) unto you”; that is to say, this prophetic declaration is emphatically true of the Gospel of Christ. (J. A. Alexander.)
The Bible its own defence:—
A well-known Presbyterian minister is reported to have said, “We must defend the Bible.” Must we? The Bible is badly off when it needs your defence or mine. I stood on the “Big Four” railway track the other day watching the Cincinnati and Cleveland express pass by. A young bee, called out by the warm April winds and bright spring sunshine, flew toward the train. Supposing I had rushed for a club or a rifle, and had run down toward the approaching express, crying aloud, “I must defend the cars from that bee’s attack,” would you not have said, “Get out of the way; let the train defend itself”? The Bible is its own best defence. (J. E. W. Cook.)
8. The grass withereth. This repetition is again added for the purpose of bringing to nought the glory of the flesh, but at the same time contains within itself a highly valuable consolation, that God, when he has cast down his people, immediately raises up and restores them. The context therefore runs thus: “The grass indeed withereth and perisheth, but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” After having learned how empty and destitute we are of all blessings, how transitory and fading is the glory of the flesh, the only consolation left for us, that we may be raised up by the word of the Lord, as by an outstretched hand, is, that we are frail and fading, but that the word of the Lord is durable and eternal, and, in a word, that the life which we need is offered to us from another quarter.
But the word of our God shall stand for ever. This passage comprehends the whole Gospel in few words; for it consists of an acknowledgment of our misery, poverty, and emptiness, that, being sincerely humbled, we may fly to God, by whom alone we shall be perfectly restored. Let not men therefore faint or be discouraged by the knowledge of their nakedness and emptiness; for the eternal word is exhibited to them by which they may be abundantly supported and upheld. We are likewise taught that we ought not to seek consolation from any other source than from eternity, which ought not to be sought anywhere else than in God; since nothing that is firm or durable will be found on the earth. Nothing is more foolish than to rest satisfied with the present state, which we see to be fleeting; and every man is mistaken who hopes to be able to obtain perfect happiness till he has ascended to God, whom the Scripture calls eternal, in order that we may know that life flows to us from him; and indeed he adopts us to be his children on this condition, to make us partakers of his immortality.
But this would be of no avail, if the manner of seeking him were not pointed out; and therefore he exhibits the word, from which we must not in any respect turn aside; for if we make the smallest departure from it, we shall be involved in strange labyrinths, and shall find no way of extricating ourselves. Now, the word is called eternal, not merely in itself, but in us; and this ought to be particularly observed, because otherwise we could obtain no consolation. And thus Peter, a faithful expounder of this passage, applies it to us, when he says that “we are regenerated by this incorruptible seed, that is,” says he, “by the word which is preached.” (1 Pet. 1:23, 25.) Hence we infer, what I mentioned a little before, that life is prepared for the dead who shall come thirsting to the fountain that is exhibited to them; for the power which is hid in God is revealed to us by the word.
Ver. 8.—The Word of our God shall stand for ever. Amid all human frailty, shiftingness, changefulness, there is one thing that endures, and shall endure—God’s Word (see the comment on the first part of ver. 6). In the sureness of God’s promises is Israel’s exceeding comfort.
Vers. 9–11.—The time of Israel’s restoration has drawn nigh. The preparation has been made. The voice calling to preparation is silent. The promises are now on the verge of receiving their accomplishment. It is fitting that some one should announce the fact to the nation. Isaiah calls on the company of prophets living at the time to do so (ver. 9). They are to take up a commanding position, to speak with a loud voice, and to proclaim the good tidings to Zion, to Jerusalem, and to the cities of Judah (comp. ch. 44:26). The terms of the proclamation are then given (vers. 10, 11).
8 This verse repeats the points made in the previous two verses and drives them home with the powerful final statement. The Spirit that breathes out destruction for all human pride is the same Spirit who speaks the eternal Word of life over all withered and faded human hopes. Here is the paradox introduced at the beginning of the book: if I insist I am permanent, then I become nothing; if I admit that God alone is permanent, then he breathes his permanence on me. Whatever may lie ahead for the Israelites, they may know that God’s word of promise will not fail them.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J., eds. (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Is 40:8). Thomas Nelson.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., Whitehead, M. M., Grigoni, M. R., & Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 40:8). Lexham Press.
Yesterday, we reflected with Solomon as he pondered the meaning of life, even to the point of believing there was nothing new under the sun. But we must not lose sight of the fact that for the one made a new creature in Christ, every new day is a day of new mercies. In a chorus of a very familiar hymn, believers sing “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy Hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
The hymn writer took his cue from Jeremiah. Jeremiah was given the task to announce God’s judgments against a disobedient Old Testament Church. He lamented the fact that his people had exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols (Jeremiah 2:11). The book of Lamentations is filled with his tears. He is filled with grief at Zion’s devastation and degradation.
But in the middle of the third chapter, he pauses and calls to mind the memory of God’s devotion to His people. And that brings hope out of hopelessness. He remains confident in God’s promises and compassions. That must be our focus day by day. Are you looking to the LORD for His daily new mercies? Will you remember that for each new day this year?
Suggestions for prayer
Do you have a hymn book nearby with “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in it? If so, sing that hymn!
Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
Shelly envied her friend. Nell seemed to feel God’s nearness and find comfort in His presence daily. Shelly had invited God into her life too yet He often felt distant and she wondered why.
God’s Word holds the answer. It says:
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8
Just how do you come near to God? How do you enter into His presence and feel His nearness and draw on His comfort?
Start with offering your thanks to God for His blessings in your life. Even when life is difficult find the blessings, however small they seem, and thank Him for them. God says we enter His gates with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving opens the door.
Next, begin to praise God for the faithful characteristics of who He is. Praise Him for His compassion toward you. Praise Him for His mercy and His forgiving heart toward you. Praise Him for His faithfulness and the fact that He can always be trusted, even in the dark. Choose to praise Him for His graciousness toward you.
Cultivate a thankful heart. Keeping the faithfulness of God in clear view through deliberate praise will open the door to His presence in new ways.
Begin today. Loosen the doubt and the lack of trust from your heart by going through the gate of thanksgiving.
Loosen the fear and skepticism from your heart by praising God for who He is. Take time to let the truths of His character penetrate your heart. He is good and He is faithful.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name, for the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4 & 5
Prayer: Father God, My heart is hungry to feel Your presence close to me. Help me to enter into Your presence through the gate of thanksgiving. Remind me to draw near to You with praise for the wonderful qualities of who You are. You are good, Father God. I trust You to come near to me as I declare Your blessings and Your character. Let these truths penetrate my heart, shape my thinking and change my attitudes today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
When the edge of their fury was dulled and its heat cooled, the Israelites repented the extremity of their vengeance against Benjamin. They were horrified at the thought that one tribe should utterly disappear from among the twelve, so they sought to reëstablish the six hundred outlaw Benjamites of Rimmon. Yet in the heat of anger each Israelite had vowed never to let any woman of his family wed with a Benjamite. How then might these lone six hundred fighting men rear families.
A crafty method was found which, neither breaking the vow nor yet preserving it, seemed to satisfy the not over-delicate consciences of the time. One city of Israel had neglected the common cause and sent no warriors to the war. This city was suddenly attacked, destroyed, and its marriageable women presented to the Benjamites. As there were not enough of these unhappy victims, the remaining Benjamites were secretly instructed to go to the city of Shiloh, where the maidens held a yearly “feast of the Lord” by dancing in the fields. The Benjamites rushed suddenly forth upon these damsels and carried off as many as they needed for wives. Then the elders of Israel stood between the plunderers and the vengeance of the astonished fathers of Shiloh. Thus was Benjamin reëstablished among the tribes.
Skeptics point to variations in the most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament in an attempt to disqualify their reliability. But is this truly the case? How can we reconcile the variations? How can we be sure of what the original copies said about Jesus, even if these original manuscripts are no longer available to us? J. Warner answers these questions in this video from a stage presentation from his book, Cold-Case Christianity.
As Russia prepares invasion: Israel may rescue up to 75,000 Ukrainian Jews from ‘Gog-Magog’ war As an estimated 100,000 Russian troops mass on the border of Ukraine, Israel is preparing to evacuate some 75,000 people living in eastern Ukraine who are believed to be eligible for Israeli citizenship In addition, an estimated 10,000 Israeli nationals are currently in Ukraine. A closely guarded secret, handed down for three centuries, predicted that this political crisis would be the precursor to the War of Gog and Magog.
California Saw ‘Surreal’ Winter Wildfires Over The Weekend Over the weekend, strong offshore winds (70-80 mph) ignited multiple wildfires across California. On Friday night, a fire sparked in Big Sur’s Colorado Valley, dubbing it the “Colorado Fire”. The National Weather Service’s Bay Area branch described the fire activity as “stubborn” and “surreal”, suggesting that “the long term drought is acting like a chronic illness where even recent rains and cold winter [weather] isn’t helping to keep fires from developing.”
What’s behind Putin’s arrogance and gumption? Time is always on the Russian leader’s side. Putin’s dictatorship has overlapped five American presidents. He reportedly told then-President George W. Bush in 2008, “Ukraine is not even a country. Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and the greater part was given to us.” There is concern an escalating situation could transform into a World War III, especially if Putin uses Belarus, which borders two NATO members, as a starting block for attacking Ukraine.
More mysterious rumbles reported in Tucson area People from as far southeast as Vail to as far north as the town of Oracle reported the boom. That’s about a 65-mile range. Residents say they felt two of them right around 1:15 p.m. Linda Marie wrote on my Facebook page, “It sounded like something fell on my roof. It rattled my house.” Sharon Richardson Spall left a message, “Yes! I heard it and it sounded like a boom and it seemed like the top floor of my house shook. It also happened sometime last week. Maybe Friday? These mystery booms have been happening for years. They’ve been described by many like an earthquake but don’t register as one on the seismometer … That’s the case with Monday’s boom.
Donald Trump For Speaker Of The House One thing Republicans can count on is, should they manage to retake power, there will be a bunch of firing down their own trench. Circular firing squads are not unique to the GOP, but they have all but been perfected by it. It’s unclear as to whether or not Trump wants to be president again, but what is clear is he wants to be a player. Speaker of the House would make him the ultimate player. The Republican legislative agenda would move because of him. It’d die at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as long as Biden resides there, but Trump could get Biden and Democrats on record as being against a great many popular proposals.
Leftist Indifference to Christian Genocide On November 17, 2021, the State Department removed Nigeria from its list of Countries of Particular Concern, that is, nations which engage in, or tolerate violations of, religious freedom. It did this despite several human rights organizations characterizing the persecution meted out to Nigeria’s Christians as a “genocide.”
This List Seems Endless And Now Runs Into 2022 All the way back on November 19th of 2020, we reported on ANP in this story titled “‘Communist Coercive Methods For Eliciting Compliance’ Being Used Against Americans Under The Guise Of Fighting Covid-19 – If You Think 2020 Was Crazy, You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet! Signs 2021 Will Be Totally Insane” that during a livestream on COVID, a German Doctor named Andreas Noack had police break into his house, with guns pointing straight at him, for doing a video report that went against the globalists COVID narrative.
Their Covid Narrative Is Falling Apart Their Covid Narrative is falling apart, piece by piece; more and more people simply just don’t care anymore. It’s about time. In many ways the outbreak of COVID-19’s “Omicron” made up fear porn for compliance variant set in motion the crumbling of the mainstream virus narrative.
Defunding the police and the vilification of law enforcement are killing morale and leading to a nationwide Ferguson Effect.
As much as they deny and assert otherwise, the Democrats own the Left’s “defund the police” sentiments, and this includes the Biden administration. During the 2020 summer of riots orchestrated by Black Lives Matter and antifa, Democrat leadership didn’t condemn the destruction caused by these riots, but rather defended the somehow noble intentions and cause of the rioters.
The Leftmedia’s infamous lie regarding the rioting and mayhem was that it was all “mostly peaceful protests,” which seemed to epitomize the cognitive dissonance of the Democrats. In fact, when BLM thugs demanded the defunding of the police, not only did many Democrats fail to object, but in several instances they obliged the lunacy, claiming it was the right thing to do.
In reality, Democrat city leaders and politicians effectively gave over the keys of the asylum to the inmates, and the all-too-predictable result was spiking crime that is now roiling many of America’s largest cities.
After decades of a steadily declining crime rate, many cities have seen violent crime suddenly jump to levels not seen since the early 1990s. The Leftmedia and many Democrats pin this on two primary culprits — the pandemic and, more insidiously, “systemic racism.” The second charge is pointedly directed at America’s law enforcement in general. That is the fundamental message of the entire BLM movement, which began in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in 2013, but gained a national following after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
Even Barack Obama’s Social Justice Department couldn’t pin anything on Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s death, but that didn’t stop a false narrative from being taken up by the mainstream media and repeated more broadly across leftist-dominated popular culture that racist policing was the big problem. BLM began a campaign of highlighting blacks who died in altercations with police, regardless of the reason, to push the dubious narrative of systemically racist police. What this soon created among law enforcement was what has come to be known as the “Ferguson Effect,” wherein vilified police began to back off proactive policing in order to avoid getting caught up in a situation where they are smeared as racists simply for doing their jobs. That, in turn, led to rising crime and lost black lives.
Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, the Ferguson Effect spread nationwide, and police departments in cities such as Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and others once again began to actively pull back on policing, sometimes at the demand of city councils and mayors. Now those cities’ residents are paying the price, as crime — especially violent crime such as homicide — is spiking.
Furthermore, it appears to have become open season on cops. The intentional killing of police officers jumped 59% this past year, as 73 were killed in the line of duty, the most since 2011. And it seems that the problem is only getting worse. Last December alone, 25 officers were killed. Two NYPD officers were murdered in an ambush just this past weekend, bringing the year’s nationwide total to five already.
So with crime steadily becoming one of Americans’ top issues, Biden plans to address the problem by — get ready for this — implementing a police reform agenda. That’s right — the root of the problem is not the criminals being let off easy by a bunch of George Soros-funded soft-on-crime district attorneys, and it’s not Democrat city ordinances that decriminalize such things as shoplifting and drug possession. No, it’s racist cops.
In the coming days, Biden plans to sign an executive order that Republican lawmakers contend will only make matters worse. “These hard-left policies are extremely ill-advised, dangerous to Americans, and would only further demoralize law enforcement,” states a letter sent to Biden signed by seven GOP senators including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. “We are baffled as to why this Administration would want to implement this EO, which is tantamount to defunding the police.”
The Washington Examiner reports, “If implemented as written, the order would prevent police departments from purchasing flash or stun grenades, which are nonlethal tools used by law enforcement to disorient suspects in dangerous situations. The order also bans armored cars, which police use to navigate in active shooting situations, almost all drones, and long-range acoustic devices.”
Furthermore, “The draft order’s enforcement structure [denies] local police departments access to money from the Community Oriented Policing Services grant program and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant program if police departments don’t comply with many of the order’s provisions.” And compliance means “supporting alternatives to arrest and incarceration” and the implementation of the Lefts’s favorite buzzwords — diversity, inclusion, and equity.
In other words, Biden is not really aiming to tackle the problem of rising crime. Instead, President Unity is intent on transforming the very foundation of the American justice system in order to align with his party’s agenda of “social justice.” In this dynamic, it’s not about prosecuting and holding individuals to account for their own actions, but about judging individuals based primarily upon their group and social identity. As a result, the pursuit of real justice is set aside for a caricature of justice that produces actual injustice.
If Biden follows through with his executive order as it is, don’t expect to see the spiking crime rate abate anytime soon.
According to a new book, Communist Chinese intelligence officials have paid some $31 million to Joe Biden and his family.
“It now involves very public, very emphatic lies,” wrote the author, a former cabinet secretary. “Breaches of trust. The subversion of truth. The possibility of criminal wrongdoing. And so we face the identical question today that we faced a generation ago: Is this president — is any president — above the law?”
The author concluded that there’s a time and a place for anger: “Even during times of comfort and ease, there is an appropriate moment for anger at the proper things, and with the proper person. In our time, the thing is corruption, the person is the president. These are not pleasant matters, but they are supremely important ones.”
He wasn’t talking about Joe Biden, though. The author, William Bennett, was talking about Bill Clinton in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky affair more that two decades ago. The title of his book? The Death of Outrage.
Outrage does seem to have died these days — at least among those who most ought to feel it. How might we conservatives feel if our president, the standard-bearer of our party, was found to have received some $31 million from our foremost geopolitical foe and the greatest threat we face to the American way of life? Because that’s apparently what Joe Biden and his family have received in recent years from the Communist Chinese — and they’ve received it, as author Peter Schweizer says, “from individuals who are linked to the highest levels of Chinese intelligence” and “for no apparent legitimate business activities.”
Schweizer, an investigative journalist notable for his book Clinton Cash, made the charge during an interview Sunday on Fox News’s “Life, Liberty & Levin” show, and he’s provided additional details in his new book, Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win.
“There’s no question in my mind,” Schweizer says, “that [the Bidens] were targeted by the Chinese, and for the life of me, this is unprecedented. I don’t know of a time in American history where the American first family has had this kind of a financial bond with a foreign intelligence service, particularly a foreign intelligence service that wants to defeat the United States in global competition.”
Not surprisingly, Biden’s wastrel son, Hunter, is at the center of it all. Schweizer’s information reportedly comes from emails gleaned from the infamous Hunter Biden laptop. You know, the one he abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware; the one whose contents were, according to all those lousy deep-state Democrat intelligence hacks and their fellow-travelers at Politico, a product of “Russian disinformation.”
In one of Hunter’s emails, in which he’s referring to a wealthy Chinese businessman whose key contact was the Chinese Communist Party’s vice minister for state security, he writes, “I don’t believe in the lottery anymore, but I believe in the Superchairman.”
So far as we can tell, there’s been no rebuttal from Joe Biden or his defenders to these very serious charges of influence peddling. So, again, where’s the outrage?
If, as expected, Republicans retake the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections, it would seem that Joe Biden and his dealings with the Communist Chinese are due for some serious congressional oversight. The Constitution, after all, considers bribery to be among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” of impeachable offenses.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was complete with “Dolores Umbridge” berating visitors about masks.
The Harry Potter novels have stood the test of time and remain a great and incredibly culturally influential work of fiction. Author J.K. Rowling is a self-described left-wing feminist, but she’s not a radical and has even received a lot of hate from her own side for pushing back against the “transgender” movement. She may have had some other point in mind, but her Harry Potter series contains some themes that conservatives love — she vividly illustrates the true awfulness of fake news and the oppressive fascism that all too often comes from the administrative state. It is the last thing that makes this relevant to my family’s recent vacation to Universal Studios in Orlando, which features a number of Harry Potter rides and attractions based on the movies.
We knew going in that masking would be required in some circumstances (while indoors or in line for a ride), but from the moment we exited the van in the parking garage to walk across the bridge into the park, we learned just how unpleasant that policy would be. More on that in a minute.
Fans of the novels or movies will recognize the name of Dolores Umbridge. Introduced in the fifth novel, she is a bureaucrat from the Ministry of Magic sent to “restore order” at Hogwarts, the school of magic Harry and his friends attend, after the Dark Lord returns. The Ministry denies the truth that Voldemort is back, and Umbridge’s task is to enforce that narrative at the school.
Upon introducing herself, she tells the students, “I’m sure we’re all going to be very good friends.” Spoiler alert: They weren’t.
Umbridge is a sickly sweet and proper British lady who loves pink and kittens, but she’s also a sadistic and power-hungry villain who vigorously censors the truth and severely punishes those who speak it, all while never deviating from her polite manner that often includes cute little “ahems” and giggles.
As part of her relentless crackdown, she issues more than 100 “Educational Decrees” that prohibit all manner of previously free activities. Soon after arriving, she’s given even more power as the first Hogwarts High Inquisitor, whereupon she recruits an Inquisitorial Squad — students and staff who will snitch on others and help enforce her reign of terror.
Thankfully, after being revealed as a flagrantly bigoted racist, she’s eventually given her just deserts, though she doesn’t change her ways and shows up in subsequent books.
All that setup is because my family encountered Umbridge, so to speak, on the walk into the park on the first day. A sickly sweet British lady came on the loudspeakers to announce that face coverings would be required while indoors and in line for and on all rides, regardless of vaccination status. “And enjoy your day,” she cheerfully concluded. She might as well have ended with the bit about being “very good friends.”
Fine, fair enough. Universal Studios is a privately owned business, albeit in the Free State of Florida, and it has the authority to set its own rules. At least we don’t have to wear masks outside, we consoled ourselves. But the park elected to be as obnoxious as Umbridge and her inquisitorial squad.
The mask announcement was played literally every 30 seconds while on that bridge walking to the park every day, and every five minutes in the park. I timed it. Not including numerous other announcements or instructions from park staff, that means over the course of four days in the park, we heard “Umbridge’s” spiel roughly 500 times.
Just like the character in the movies, “Umbridge” politely interrupted anything and everything, only without the “ahem.” That included other masking announcements from park staff. And it included the videos and interactive features that are part of the immersive attraction of Universal. Ride operators inquisitorial squad members were likewise dogged in enforcing masks, chastising us if we pulled them below our noses to prevent fogging up our 3D glasses on a simulator or hoped to go without them as our roller coaster left the station.
That’s right — you might catch COVID without one while traveling 70 m.p.h. in the back of a roller coaster. Never mind the crowds of unmasked thousands wandering around the rest of the park.
The worst two instances I encountered were the unmasked staff member who told me to mask up while we were both outside (“Where’s yours?” I asked him), and the power-tripping young inquisitor who smugly proclaimed over the speakers that he was watching surveillance video of the line and could see many of us without masks over mouth and nose. Fail to comply and you’ll be thrown off the ride you just waited two hours for, he said, or maybe even escorted out of the park.
Enforcement was incessant, and it cast a shadow of aggravation over our whole trip.
As for “Umbridge,” what made her constant haranguing worse is that Universal Studios seems unaware — or at least unwilling to admit — the similarity between this regular admonishment and the fact that the voice announcing it is so akin to one of the worst villains in the entire Harry Potter series. As I rhetorically asked my teen kids, “Don’t they know Umbridge is the bad guy?”
We joked that an “attraction” ought to be the scene from the movie where she forces Harry to write “I must not tell lies” repeatedly while the quill magically but painfully etches the words into the back of his hand. I must wear a mask, we teased park-goers could write.
Perhaps all this made her the perfect voice for the COVID tyranny of today, though we can’t say that was the Harry Potter immersive experience we thought we had paid a small fortune to enjoy.
All in all, the trip was an irritating example of exactly what commentator Dennis Prager so aptly describes as the disdain the two parties have for the other. “Watching half of our fellow Americans accept and engage in such irrational behavior (not to mention sometimes hysterically enforce it, as myriad social media videos attest) not only depresses the rest of us; it frightens us,” he writes. Where and when does the insanity end?
This national embarrassment is contributing in a major way to supply chain issues, making it more than just California’s problem.
When one hears the phrase “Great Train Robberies,” it evokes images of black-and-white silent films and choppy chases on horseback, maybe even a damsel in distress tied to a train track. But in California, it’s a gritty reality that stems from a deleterious leftist worldview.
What is going on?
The Union Pacific Railroad Company’s trains are routinely being robbed by gangs. These miscreants are tricking the safety protocols by pulling a hand lever break, causing the trains to slow to a crawl. The rest of the nefarious crew, armed with bolt cutters, easily breaks into the vulnerable train cars, where they quickly grab what they can. They throw the rest of the merchandise onto the tracks so that other opportunistic scavengers can pick through the leftovers. It looks like a garbage heap. Union Pacific wrote a letter to the Los Angeles County district attorney pleading with him to start prosecuting these crimes that are devastating the supply chain.
Governor Gavin Newsom visited the trash-strewn tracks of downtown Los Angeles on January 20. After picking up a few pieces of trash, he said to the gathered reporters: “I see what you see. I see what you’ve been covering. I’m asking myself, ‘What the hell is going on?’ We look like a third-world country.” As National Review’s Dominic Pino pointed out, this does a disservice to third-world countries. At least they are trying to change their circumstances through the enforcement of law and order. California is doing precisely the opposite.
Why is it happening?
The biggest reason that this massive-scale crime is allowed to occur over and over (there’s been a 356% rise in this type of crime over the past year) is largely due to criminal-first legislation and the intentional miscarriage of the law by progressive prosecutors like George Gasćon. Theft of goods that amount to $950 can be pleaded down to only a misdemeanor. This is hardly a deterrent for thieves to stop their impropriety. Then you have Gasćon who uses justifications like “systemic racism” and “equity” to instill no-bail and soft-on-crime policies. Often the same criminals who were arrested for looting the trains one day are back at it the next because there are no consequences worth mentioning for their crimes.
Can it be stopped?
It can, and it’s the federal government’s job to dispatch the FBI to do it.
Packages from Amazon, REI, UPS, and other companies are going nationwide. According to the editors at National Review, “Fully 40 percent of goods imported into the United States come through ports in Southern California.” These thefts are further crippling the supply chain, which is driving up inflation and keeping the shelves empty in the rest of the country.
Because these crimes are not limited to California, the feds don’t have to worry about the bureaucratic red tape or indolent prosecutors to effectively prosecute these criminals. So far, there have been no obvious indications that the FBI has decided to act. One can only hope it’s because agents are quietly already building cases against these criminals.
More than one out of every five Medicaid dollars goes to someone who’s ineligible.
We don’t know who did it first, but surely in the earliest days of our Republic there was some shyster who figured out a way to game the system and keep his ill-gotten gains without being caught. That mindset continues to this day, but the problem is that the honeypot is so massive that the government can’t possibly rein in the fraud and, while a few people are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, many more get all the good, soft chocolate chip or peanut butter ones.
The problem is so rampant in the Medicaid program right now that a sampling of cooperative states done by Hayden Dublois and Jonathan Ingram of the Foundation for Government Accountability shows that more than one out of every five Medicaid dollars goes to someone who’s ineligible.
“Virtually all improper payments are due to eligibility errors, administrative oversights, or outright fraud,” they write. “And because eligibility errors make up more than 80 percent of improper payments, countless individuals are receiving Medicaid benefits for which they are not eligible.” They also add, “Equally concerning is that an overwhelming number of improper payments are due to eligibility errors, signaling that these are not simply administrative blunders.” It’s worth noting that, according to Dublois and Ingram, the improper payment rate for Medicaid has surged from 5.8% in 2013 to 21.7% last year.
This data did not escape the notice of The Wall Street Journal, which editorialized that before the government takes on Joe Biden’s Bilk Back Better — our moniker is more apt than theirs — perhaps they should work to get the Medicaid house in order. The Journal warns, “Before Congress spends billions of dollars on tomorrow’s Great Society, it should deal with the fact that Medicaid cannot account for more than $1 out of every $5 it spends.”
And as if the Medicare fraud wasn’t enough, we’re getting more and more reports about criminal grifters trying to cut themselves a piece of the COVID relief pie they don’t deserve — to the tune of almost $100 billion. In just the last few weeks, we’ve heard about schemes from college football players claiming to be unemployed and of Marilyn Mosby, state’s attorney for the City of Baltimore, being accused of scamming up $90,000 in order to make down payments on not just one, but two Florida vacation homes. Mosby, who is paid $248,000 a year, is on the docket for allegedly claiming COVID-related financial hardship in order to make those early withdrawals from her retirement account.
And it’s not just Americans trying to fleece the government. Power Line’s John Hinderaker recently detailed a COVID scam perpetrated by members of Minnesota’s Somali community. This scheme shamefully involved money intended to feed children that instead paid for homes, cars, and travel by those accused of the fraud. Considering they hail from what’s been considered the most corrupt nation in the world, though, perhaps graft is all they know.
Regardless, as Hinderaker concludes, “American taxpayers are the biggest suckers in world history.” But some of the blame has to go to the bad apple bureaucrats at the state and federal level who don’t want to cut themselves out of the easy job of pushing paper by doing the work of making sure people are eligible and spend their funding properly.
A comprehensive study of the Dairy State’s 2020 presidential election says “rules were bent.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board is no shy critic of Donald Trump and no fan of the Trump-inspired conservative populism that has remade and reenergized the Republican Party. So it’s nice to see that its members are finally paying attention to the results of the 2020 election — especially the razor-thin margin of Joe Biden’s victory.
In its lead item on today’s editorial page, the Journal’s board suggests that a recent report out of Wisconsin is worth our attention. It writes:
If curious Republicans want to know what really happened in 2020, this is the best summation to date. Released Dec. 7, it was written by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a policy shop with conservative bona fides that supported many of Mr. Trump’s policies. A Wisconsin judge this month said ballot dropboxes are illegal under state law, in a challenge brought by WILL.
Its report on 2020 wallops state officials for bending election rules amid the pandemic. That mistake put ballots into legal doubt, due to no fault of the voter, while fueling skepticism. Yet the stolen-election theory doesn’t hold up. President Biden won Wisconsin by 20,682, and mass fraud “would likely have resulted in some discernible anomaly,” WILL says. “In all likelihood, more eligible voters cast ballots for Joe Biden than Donald Trump.”
That’s entirely possible. But it’s far from certain, especially in light of certain troubling facts that WILL uncovered. For example, in the overwhelmingly Democrat stronghold of Milwaukee alone, roughly 169,000 absentee ballots were cast. That’s about three times the total that were cast in the 2016 election. And given that only 0.2% of Wisconsin’s absentee ballots were rejected in 2020, which is a colossal drop from the 1.35% of ballots that were rejected in 2016, think about it: Wisconsin rejected only two absentee votes for every 10,000 cast, whereas in the prior presidential election, officials rejected more than 13 per thousand. In a state decided by the slimmest of margins — Joe Biden got 49.45% of the vote compared to Donald Trump’s 48.82% — the near nonexistence of faulty ballots strains credulity and demands skepticism.
The report also notes that Wisconsin used ballot drop boxes, which a state judge recently ruled were illegal. The report further notes that “many clerks didn’t sufficiently log chain of custody,” and it notes this critical finding: “Statistical analysis estimates that dropboxes maybe raised Mr. Biden’s turnout by 20,736.” And that right there is his margin of victory.
Biden likes to crow that he beat Donald Trump by seven million votes, but total votes is and always has been a meaningless statistic in American elections. The electoral vote is all that matters, and there Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by just 43,000 spread across three states: Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin.
Could it be that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s money was enough to swing those three states into the Biden column? In her book Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections, Mollie Hemingway paints a compelling picture of a deeply flawed and undemocratic election that was decided more by money than by traditional theft. As her colleague John Daniel Davidson writes: “[Hemingway] doesn’t argue or allege that the election was stolen, but that it was corrupted by corporate media, Big Tech censorship, the courts, and Democratic activists. Taken together, it all amounted to heavy-handed election interference of a kind we have never seen before.”
And that’s it in a nutshell. Democrats used $419 million of Zuckerberg’s money to flood the zone with votes in Democrat-controlled areas and infiltrated supposedly nonpartisan election offices with their operatives. What a shock that Basement Joe Biden managed to win three decisive states by the slimmest of margins.
If the chaotic and largely unregulated bulk-mail ballot fraud that occurred in 2016 is allowed to become the new normal in 2020 and beyond, Republicans will be hard-pressed to win national elections — and they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
For starters, weak-kneed Beltway Republicans need to stop saying “the election was fair.” It wasn’t, and they shouldn’t be afraid to say so.
San Fran Nan decides against riding off into the sunset: Apparently, retiring to her new Florida home can wait, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced her reelection bid. “While we have made progress much more needs to be done to improve people’s live,” Pelosi stated on social media. “This election is crucial: nothing less is at stake than our Democracy. … I am running for re-election to Congress to deliver For The People and defend Democracy.” There’s little doubt Pelosi will win her deep-blue San Francisco district, though the prospect that the soon-to-be 82-year-old will hold onto the speaker’s gavel looks increasingly dim with Democrats polling well behind Republicans nationally. In fact, Leftmedia pundits seemed to express a collective groan at the news, with CNN’s Bakari Sellers saying it’s time for the California Democrat to “hang up the cleats,” adding, “part of being a great leader is knowing when it is time to turn the reins over.”
San Jose requires liability insurance for gun owners: San Jose’s city council passed a resolution yesterday requiring firearm owners to purchase liability insurance as well as pay an annual fee, the dues of which will be used to fund “violence-reduction initiatives.” Democrat Mayor Sam Liccardo justified the blatant Second Amendment violation by suggesting that gun owners are a liability. “Why should any city subject itself to litigation? Because now-common horrific reports of shootings throughout the nation do little more than elicit a performative parade of prayers and platitudes from Congress. Because problem solving must be elevated over political posturing.” He defended the implementation of fees against gun owners by stating, “While gun rights advocates argue that gun owners should not have to pay a fee to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms, [the] Second Amendment does not require the taxpayers to subsidize folks to own guns.” He’ll soon get to argue that in court.
SCOTUS takes up cases on separation of powers and property rights: On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two important cases. One involves the Environmental Protection Agency’s abuse of the “navigable waters” jurisdiction that it has applied to nearly every body of water including ponds, puddles, and dry creek beds. For 15 years, an Idaho couple has been battling to build a small home on their property after the EPA declared it a “wetland” despite the fact that there is no water on the land. The second case involves the Federal Trade Commission and its decision to block Axon Enterprise’s $7 million acquisition of another company, even though the deal’s price tag came well below the $84 million threshold required for reporting acquisitions. Axon contends that the FTC abuses the separation of powers inherent to the American governmental system because it acts unilaterally as judge, jury, and prosecution. The FTC argues that Congress removed federal district courts from any jurisdiction over constitutional challenges. Axon counters that forcing citizens “to endure constitutional injury before they can vindicate their rights is antithetical to our constitutional traditions.”
Biden scraps his employer vaccine mandate: The Biden administration announced it has dropped the COVID vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the mandate, saying that OSHA had exceeded its authority by imposing such a broad and sweeping rule. While noting the Court’s ruling for the decision to withdraw the rule, the Biden administration stated, “The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.” In other words, Team Biden is working to find ways to implement future mandates that won’t get blocked by the Court.
Government & Politics
This will surely get her ratings back up: Kamala Harris to attend inauguration of incoming socialist Honduran president with anti-Semitic ties (Fox News)
No confidence: Biden’s numbers turn negative on every major issue (Hot Air)
Emails reveal scientists suspected COVID leaked from Wuhan lab — then quickly censored themselves (New York Post)
Three negotiators leave team working on Iran nuclear deal because Biden is being too soft (Daily Wire)
A devastating update on the situation in Afghanistan now that the Taliban are in charge (Not the Bee)
Around the Nation
The SAT goes fully digital in bid to stay relevant and accommodate modern sensitivities by making it less stressful (The Blaze)
Oregon Governor Kate Brown pushes executive clemency for criminals despite rise in violent crime (Post Millennial)
A Boston man is “fighting for his life” in “desperate need” of a heart transplant but the hospital is refusing to give it to him because he’s not vaccinated (Not the Bee)
Odds & Ends
While Biden tries to smother the economic recovery he inherited, red states continue to see more jobs and lower unemployment (RNC)
How Ukraine’s military compares to Russia’s border forces (Newsweek)
“Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” —Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
“There were more illegal border crossings in Dec. 2021 than Dec. 2020, 2019 & 2018 combined. Proof that America First policies kept America more secure and the Dems’ radical policies have effectively rolled out the welcome mat for those who seek to come to this country illegally.” —former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Dumb and Dumber
“I think [inflation] is going on in other industries, where you have big corporations that are taking certain steps to increase their profits on the backs of the American people.” —Senator Mark Kelly
“The president tiptoed around an organized Republican revolt over masks, mandates, vaccine passports and even the vaccine itself, as he worried that pushing certain containment measures would only worsen an already intractable cultural and political divide in the country. The nation’s precarious economic health, and the political blowback that Mr. Biden and members of his party could face if it worsened, made him all the more cautious. So rather than forcing Americans to get shots, he spent months struggling to accomplish it through persuasion.” —The New York Times
A Trip Down Memory Lane
“I’m not joking when I say this, if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot.” —Joe “Stupid Son of a B**ch” Biden, January 2021
Leftmedia: Circling the Wagons
“I don’t think [Biden] should apologize to the American [people]. … He should acknowledge he’s human, because that happens sometimes when people ask you endless stupid questions from one particular place, and sometimes you just lose it for a second.” —”The View’s” Whoopi Goldberg
“To be fair, being a ‘stupid son’ is basically how Peter Doocy got his job.” —The Daily Show
“Peter Doocy … is indeed a dumb son of a b**ch.” —Jimmy Kimmel
Non Compos Mentis Award
“Since the onset of the pandemic, China has worked hard to not only contain the virus, but also contributed to closing the equity gap by supporting other countries with many different supplies, including great vaccines.” —Bill Gates
“If Joe Biden can stop Florida from administering life-saving monoclonal antibody treatments, why wouldn’t Republican Governors be able to unilaterally stop doctors in their states from performing life-ending abortion procedures?” —Charlie Kirk
Lines have been drawn and positions made clear. After two weeks of high-level talks, Russia and NATO remain poles apart on how to define pan-European security moving forward. Moscow has presented its vision in writing, while Washington falls back on archaic Cold War clichés.
Judicial Watch Director of Investigations & Research Chris Farrell appeared on “Weekly Briefing” on One America News to discuss why the American public doesn’t have faith & confidence in the FBI in the wake of January 6, the Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot, and other cases.
Data, transparency, and surveillance. That is what has been missing from the greatest experiment on humans of all time throughout this pandemic. Now, military medical whistleblowers have come forward with what they claim is perhaps the most accurate and revealing data set on vaccine safety one could possibly find.
The pro-pharma politicians and media claim the CDC’s pharmacosurveillance tool “VAERS” is not good enough to trigger investigations into the shots because anyone can supposedly submit a vaccine adverse event entry. Thus, all the concerning safety signals from VAERS are being ignored, even though that system was put in place as a consolation to the public for absolving vaccine manufacturers of liability. Well, now some military whistleblowers are coming forward to present data that, if verified, would signal extremely disturbing safety concerns about the vaccine that make the VAERS data look like child’s play.
On Monday, during Sen. Ron Johnson’s five-hour hearing on a “COVID-19: Second Opinion,” Ohio attorney Thomas Renz, who has been representing clients suing the vaccine mandates, presented DOD medical billing data from the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) that paints a shockingly disturbing picture of the health of our service members in 2021.Attorney Thomas Renz reveals what multiple DoD whistleblowers have provided on the safety signals they are seeing \n\nThese numbers are mind blowing! \n\n@SenRonJohnsonpic.twitter.com/gs4fhwF1Po
According to the military, DMED is the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch’s (AFHSB) “web-based tool to remotely query de-identified active component personnel and medical event data contained within the Defense Medical Surveillance System (DMSS).” In other words, it contains every ICD medical billing code for any medical diagnosis in the military submitted for medical insurance billing during any given period of time. Three military doctors have presented queried data to Renz that shows a shocking and sudden spike in nearly every ICD code for common vaccine injuries in 2021.
In a declaration under penalty of perjury that Renz plans to use in federal court, Drs. Samuel Sigoloff, Peter Chambers, and Theresa Long — three military doctors — revealed that there has been a 300% increase in DMED codes registered for miscarriages in the military in 2021 over the five-year average. The five-year average was 1,499 codes for miscarriages per year. During the first 10 months of 2021, it was 4,182. As Renz explained to me in an interview with TheBlaze, these doctors queried the numbers for hundreds of codes from 2016 through 2020 to establish a baseline five-year average. These codes were generally for ailments and injuries that medical literature has established as being potential adverse effects of the vaccines.
Renz told me the numbers tended to be remarkably similar in all those preceding years, including in 2020, which was the first year of the pandemic but before the vaccines were distributed. But then in 2021, the numbers skyrocketed, and the 2021 data doesn’t even include the months of November and December. For example, some public health officials speculate that COVID itself places women at higher risk for miscarriages. But the number of miscarriage codes recorded in 2020 was actually slightly below the five-year average (1,477). However, they were not drastically below the average on any one category in a way that one can suggest it reflects lockdown-related decreases in doctor’s visits, which somehow led to an increase in 2021 diagnoses.
The database has all the ICD codes for both military hospital visits and ambulatory visits. The data presented by Renz so far is all from the query of ambulatory diagnosis data.
Aside from the spike in miscarriage diagnoses (ICD code O03 for spontaneous abortions), there was an almost 300% increase in cancer diagnoses (from a five-year average of 38,700 per year to 114,645 in the first 11 months of 2021). There was also a 1,000% increase in diagnosis codes for neurological issues, which increased from a baseline average of 82,000 to 863,000!
Some other numbers he did not mention at the hearing but gave to me in the interview are the following:
myocardial infarction –269% increase
Bell’s palsy – 291% increase
congenital malformations (for children of military personnel) – 156% increase
female infertility – 471% increase
pulmonary embolisms – 467% increase
All these numbers are among the ambulatory visits because those are where the vast number of diagnoses in the military occur. However, Renz did say the increases were indicated in the hospitalized patients as well. I have seen one of the sworn declarations from one of the military doctors, and it states as follows, “It is my professional opinion that the major increases incidences of the above discussed instances of miscarriages, cancers, and disease were due to COVID-19 ‘vaccinations.'”
According to Renz, it was the actual clinical experience of the three named doctors and several unnamed doctors that led them to investigate DMED, and their discoveries reflected their experience treating patients with ailments extremely unusual to healthy, young soldiers since the rollout of the vaccines.
I have spoken to one of the whistleblowers who attests to being gravely concerned with seeing young soldiers with sudden metastatic cancers, auto-immune diseases, and heart and circulatory disorders that have caused many soldiers to drop out of various training programs. “These doctors were motivated to explore DMED data due to the numbers of case increases they were seeing empirically,” said the whistleblower, who served in the military for many years. “Some physicians throughout the force (all branches) have been intimidated by commands not to perform the full spectrum of testing and adhere to the regulations, which implicitly direct full workups for EUA vaccination adverse reactions. It will require other military physicians to step forward and share experiences to fully ascertain the enormity of these allegations and engender an investigation to the fullest extent.”
Renz claims he has a video with two witnesses showing the entire process of downloading this data from the database and is prepared to present it in court. He also told me that this is just “the tip of the iceberg,” as the codes have increased exponentially in numerous other diagnosis categories. Renz said his spreadsheet, which includes over 100 medical diagnosis categories, was shared with Senator Johnson and his staff before the Monday hearing.
It’s important to note that these numbers do not represent the number of individual people diagnosed with various ailments, but number of diagnoses codes used in totality at a given time. For example, someone who has a stroke is obviously going to rack up numerous neurological ICD codes over the course of a year with multiple ambulatory and hospital visits. However, the apples-to-apples comparison from the previous five years clearly shows an unmistakable spike in ailments.
If these numbers are verified in the upcoming court cases, then absent some massive military insurance fraud or bizarre glitch in the system, it potentially paints a shocking picture of vaccine safety concerns that would indicate that not only were the VAERS safety signals something that should immediately have been followed up on, but they are plagued by woeful underreporting. The military is a defined, finite, and closely controlled and monitored population. They are also overwhelmingly young and healthy. If allegations of neurological, cardio, and cancer concerns surrounding the vaccines are indeed true, the military would be the most revealing place to discover it, and their data is the most reliable and undisputable.
DMED is quite literally an epidemiological surveillance program designed for the express purpose of detecting surges in illness and injury to make sure the military is combat-ready. It’s about national security even more than public health. Why would the military not have blown the whistle and warned the CDC right away about this data? On the military health system website, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division (AFHSD) is described as “the central epidemiologic resource for the U.S. Armed Forces, conducting medical surveillance to protect those who serve our nation in uniform and allies who are critical to our national security interests.”
How could the blaring and glaring surveillance signals of a lifetime be ignored by the Defense Health Agency (DHA), and how was this not conveyed to the general public? The question is why the military public health analysts have not been communicating with military doctors about the shocking spikes in diagnoses this year and why they have not put out any analysis explaining it.
For his part, Sen. Ron Johnson said at the Monday hearing that he put DOD on notice that it better not delete any of the data. “The Department of Defense, the Biden administration is on notice they must preserve these records and this must be investigated,” said Johnson. Renz testified at the hearing that some of the myocarditis data was slid backwards since the doctors originally downloaded it last year.
Even if somehow these earth-shattering increases have nothing to do with the vaccines, isn’t it important that our government investigate what appears to be a catastrophic decline in the health of our active-duty fighting force? After all, the DMED data was designed for this very purpose. “A person can do a research paper just on this data alone,” said one of the whistleblowers I spoke to. “It was designed for this very purpose. The amount of data points you could query is nearly unlimited.”
The bottom line according to Renz is that the onus of proof is on the government, not on the military personnel and citizens being forced to take the shots. If the manufacturers are exempt from liability for government coercion to use their product, and the only pharmacological safety data we have is completely ignored, then where is the recourse of the people to redress safety concerns? In the opinion of the Ohio attorney, if the shots are safe and effective, then the Pentagon should have no problem explaining the source of these gargantuan increases in instances of numerous illnesses. Transparency is the most potent cure of a pandemic of secrecy.
“Since the Supreme Court shot down Trump’s request to bar the Democrat-led panel from receiving documents from his office, the select committee has obtained those materials. They have yet to make the documents public or even given an update on how far they have delved into them.”
(OAN) A Harvard Law professor compared the January 6 Committee to a tactic used in the 1950s to oust accused communists who had no actual ties to the party. Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz said the panel is not a valid congressional body and it’s actually in violation of legislative rules.
“It reminds me a little bit of McCarthyism, where you had committees like the House Un-American Activities Committee, which didn’t have an appropriate legislative purpose,” he explained. “They were just trying to subpoena people for political and ideological purposes.”
Bitter and bloody was the civil war against Benjamin. The other tribes had supposed that the work of vengeance would be easily accomplished. In their anger they even failed to ask God for aid, consulting the priests only as to the order of march to be followed in the attack they had determined on. The Benjamites, however, were mighty men of war, skilled in hurling stones from their slings. Twice they sallied forth from Gibeah and routed all the armies of Israel, inflicting awful slaughter. Thousands upon thousands perished.
Thus Israel was brought down to humility, and wept and prayed before God. Then an ambush was made ready against the Benjamites. A third time the armies of Israel advanced to the attack, and a third time turned in flight from before Gibeah. But this time the flight was a trick. As the Benjamites rushed forth in pursuit, the men who lay in wait slipped in between them and the city, captured it and set it afire. The Benjamites found themselves trapped in the gorges of the mountains, with enemies all around and above them. Of the entire tribe of Benjamin, men, women and children, those who escaped massacre from their infuriated foes were only some six hundred fighting men, who, breaking through the ambush, established themselves as outlaws, and “abode in the rock Rimmon.”
11 The LORD said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. 2 Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” 3 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.
4 So Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5 and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. 7 But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ 8 And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. 9 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”
10 Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.
12 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.1
7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”
21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
The Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn
29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”
33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.
Institution of the Passover
43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave2 that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
50 All the people of Israel did just as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.124 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.225 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant3 fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,4 and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,5 until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
3:9 God’s fellow workers. Paul may mean either that Christian workers are co-laborers with God or that Christians who are co-laborers with one another belong to God. Paul’s point is clear from the context: God alone is responsible for the success of Christian ministry.
3:9field Represents the people of God, among whom His servants labor (compare 2 Cor 10:13–16). The church community also displays the Holy Spirit’s power to give life and bring growth (1 Cor 3:16).
God’s building Presents a unified picture of the church community. In vv. 16–17, Paul describes the Corinthian believers as the temple of God.
3:9 we. Paul, Apollos, Peter, and all ministers are equal workers in the field, but the spiritual life from that field is entirely by God’s grace and power. God’s building. Paul shifts the imagery from agricultural to construction (vv. 10–17).
3:9. Paul and Apollos are God’s fellow workers, serving God together, while the Corinthians are referred to as God’s field. This term looks back to vv 6–9, which present the image of a tilled field. They are also God’s building, which looks forward to the image of building construction (v 10). Three times in this verse the term God comes first, stressing forcefully that the human instrumentality does not matter. The immature believer would stress human instruments and glory in human achievements, but the mature believer stresses the faithfulness of God as He uses human instruments.
3:9 God is the One to whom all are responsible. All His servants are fellow workers, laboring together in God’s tilled harvest field, or, to change the picture, working together on the same building. Erdman renders the thought as follows: “We are fellow-workers who belong to God and are working with one another.”
3:9. To support his claims, Paul stated that he and Apollos were God’s fellow workers. The preceding context suggests that Paul meant that he and Apollos were fellow workers for God. They formed a team, working together in God’s service. Each one needed the other in order to fulfill the goal, and the goal was of divine design. The Corinthian church, therefore, was God’s field, not theirs. God was the church’s ultimate leader, and its allegiance belonged to him alone.
Paul closed this verse by calling the Corinthians God’s building, speaking of the church as God’s possession under God’s leadership. Both metaphors illustrated the fact that God was building a unified church—one building, one field—not a fragmented, divided church. By quarreling and dividing, the Corinthians struggled to destroy what God was building.
3:9 “we are God’s fellow workers” This refers to Paul and Apollos. This is the Near Eastern metaphor of a family working together in the field (cf. 2 Cor. 6:1). This verse has three possessive GENITIVES: Paul and Apollos belong to God, as does the church in Corinth.
9. For we are fellow workers for God; you are God’s field, God’s building.
a. “For we are fellow workers for God.” Does the term fellow workers denote the relationship between Paul and Apollos or the relationship between these two workers and God? The first interpretation would be translated “fellow workers for God” and the second “fellow workers with God.”
In favor of the first interpretation is the conjunction for that links the preceding verse (v. 8) to the first part of this verse. Paul is saying that Apollos and he are not working for themselves but work for God. They are workers in the service of God, and “are God’s paid servants, rather than his colleagues.”19 From another perspective, the expression fellow worker is linked in other passages to nouns that convey the objective idea. For instance, Paul writes, “but we are fellow workers for your joy” (2 Cor. 1:24) and “Titus is my partner and a fellow worker for you” (2 Cor. 8:23; and see 1 Thess. 3:2).
The second interpretation is, “We also work together with God.” This translation is acceptable as long as the concept of equal partnership is ruled out. God and man are never equals in the proclamation of the gospel, for man is merely an instrument in God’s hand and works not next to him but for him (Acts 9:15).
Many translators present the genitive case in the possessive form (we are God’s fellow workers) and leave unanswered the question of interpretation. Gordon D. Fee observes that the emphatic position of the form God’s, which occurs three times in this verse, suggests the possessive idea. He concludes that “the argument of the whole paragraph emphasizes their unity in fellow labor under God.” Nonetheless, the threefold repetition of the word God in verse 9 does not exclude the possibility that the first use is the objective (“for God”). This possibility is buttressed by two factors: the shift from the first person plural we to the second person plural you makes it probable; the preceding verses (vv. 7 and 8) make it plausible because God is the agent.
b. “You are God’s field, God’s building.” Paul switches from the ministers to the people, from the we to the you. In the Greek, he places the pronoun you at the end of the sentence for emphasis. Also, he continues to use the imagery of a field. Is this field to be considered active in the sense that it produces a crop? Or is it considered passive as, for instance, when it is being cultivated? The second interpretation seems to fit the context better than the first. That is, by preaching the gospel Paul and Apollos cultivated the Corinthians, whom Paul calls God’s field. The Corinthians have to understand that ministers labor in the church not for themselves but for the Lord. “From this it follows that the Corinthians were wrong in yielding themselves to men, when, by right, they belong to God alone.”23
From agricultural imagery, Paul turns to an architectural metaphor. “[You are] God’s building.” Just as a field is being cultivated, so a building is in the process of being erected. The builders do their work for the Lord (see Eph. 2:19–22; 1 Peter 2:5).
9. The work is ultimately God’s, and yet ministers like Paul and Apollos are co-workers who belong to God. God grants blessing, so conversion or spiritual growth comes from him, and yet co-workers are the means by which the growth which stems from God becomes a reality. It follows, then, that the work of co-workers is significant, though, ultimately, all fruit from ministry, all the positive effects from a ministry, are ascribed to God’s grace. Indeed, the church does not belong to Paul or Apollos or any other minister. The church is God’s field, and Paul ‘planted’ that field, while Apollos ‘watered’ it (3:6). Paul changes the illustration and identifies the Corinthians as God’s building (oikodomē). The word building here signifies that the church is God’s temple, and the shift from an agricultural (field) to an architectural (building) metaphor prepares the way for the following verses (3:10–17) in which Paul reflects on the church as God’s temple.
The Christian life is complex. Paul does not believe someone can live all his or her life as what is popularly called a ‘carnal Christian’. At the same time, the lives of believers have times of progress and times of regress. Therefore, believers must continue to live according to the Spirit. We also see the role of ministers in this text. God uses human beings to establish and nurture churches, and their contribution is significant. Nonetheless, human beings should not be exalted or venerated for their labour in ministry, since all growth in the church comes from God himself.
9. Three times in this verse the word God comes first: ‘God’s fellow-workers are we; God’s field, God’s building are you.’ This puts strong emphasis on the divine action. Ministers and those they serve are no more than God’s instruments. All is of God and all belong to God. The Greek translated we are God’s fellow-workers could be understood as ‘we are partners working together for God’ (gnb), which would suit the context very well. Despite its attractiveness, however, we should probably not accept it, for the more natural way to understand the Greek is God’s fellow-workers (cf. Mark 16:20). It is a startling expression, which sets forth in striking fashion the dignity of Christian service. As someone has said, ‘Without God, we cannot; without us, he will not.’
The word for field, geōrgion, occurs only here in the New Testament. It can mean field (‘farm’, Orr and Walther; ‘garden’, neb), or the process of cultivation. There is a similar ambiguity about oikodomē, building, which may signify the edifice or the process of erection. Either sense is suitable here. Paul may be saying that the Corinthians are the field, the building, in which God is at work, or that they are that work in cultivation and building. Incidentally, the metaphor of building is a favourite one with Paul, but it is not often found in the New Testament outside his writings.
9. For we are fellow-labourers with God. Here is the best argument. It is the Lord’s work that we are employed in, and it is to him that we have devoted our labours: hence, as he is faithful and just, he will not disappoint us of our reward. That man, accordingly, is mistaken who looks to men, or depends merely on their remuneration. Here we have an admirable commendation of the ministry—that while God could accomplish the work entirely himself, he calls us, puny mortals, to be as it were his coadjutors, and makes use of us as instruments. As to the perversion of this statement by the Papists, for supporting their system of free-will, it is beyond measure silly, for Paul shows here, not what men can effect by their natural powers, but what the Lord accomplishes through means of them by his grace. As to the exposition given by some—that Paul, being God’s workman, was a fellow-workman with his colleagues, that is, with the other teachers—it appears to me harsh and forced, and there is nothing whatever in the case that shuts us up to have recourse to that refinement. For it corresponds admirably with the Apostle’s design to understand him to mean, that, while it is peculiarly the work of God to build his temple, or cultivate his vineyard, he calls forth ministers to be fellow-labourers, by means of whom He alone works; but, at the same time, in such a way, that they in their turn labour in common with him. As to the reward of works, consult my Institutes.
God’s husbandry, God’s building. These expressions may be explained in two ways. They may be taken actively in this sense: “You have been planted in the Lord’s field by the labour of men in such a way, that our heavenly Father himself is the true Husbandman, and the Author of this plantation. You have been built up by men in such a way, that he himself is the true Master-builder. Or, it may be taken in a passive sense, thus: “In labouring to till you, and to sow the word of God among you and water it, we have not done this on our own account, or with a view to advantage to accrue to us, but have devoted our service to the Lord. In our endeavours to build you up, we have not been influenced by a view to our own advantage, but with a view to your being God’s planting and building. This latter interpretation I rather prefer, for I am of opinion, that Paul meant here to express the idea, that true ministers labour not for themselves, but for the Lord. Hence it follows, that the Corinthians were greatly to blame in devoting themselves to men, while of right they belonged exclusively to God. And, in the first place, he calls them his husbandry, following out the metaphor previously taken up, and then afterwards, with the view of introducing himself to a larger discussion, he makes use of another metaphor, derived from architecture.
Ver. 9.—God’s fellow-workers. Throughout the Bible we are taught that God requires the work of man, and that he will not help those who will do nothing for themselves or for him. The world was to be evangelized, not by sudden miracle, but by faithful human labour (Mark 16:20). God’s husbandry; rather, God’s field, or tilled land. The thought which he desires again and again to enforce is that they belong to God, not to the parties of human teachers. The word “husbandry” may also mean vineyard, and the metaphor is the same as in Isa. 5:1; 27:2; John 15:1; Matt. 13:3–30; Luke 13:6–9; Rom. 11:16–24. God’s building. This is one of St. Paul’s favourite metaphors, as in vers. 16, 17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:20–22; Rom. 15:20; 2 Tim. 2:19 (comp. 1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 21:14).
3:9we are co-workers in God’s service. Paul’s use of the genitive construction, literally “co-workers of God,” could give the impression that Paul intended to suggest that he and Apollos were co-workers with God. However, it is far more likely that he considered them co-workers with one another, both serving God. “Co-workers of God” is a possessive genitive highlighting their relationship to God as his servants. They are employed not by any Corinthian patron but by God. They are working “God’s field” in Corinth, and the Corinthian church is “God’s building.” The string of possessive genitives is designed to underscore, once again, that none other than God can demand their allegiance and loyalty. The Corinthian believers are not many buildings but one. Although they meet in the homes of different patrons and have listened to different teachers, they are one community, one house belonging to God.
3:9 / Paul’s interest in explaining his concerns is evident as once again he begins with the word For. The niv translation of this verse is unfortunate, however. That we [Paul, Apollos, the Corinthians?] are God’s fellow workers may be the farthest idea from Paul’s mind. Literally this verse says, “For God’s we are, fellow workers; God’s field, God’s building you are.” There is a shift in or mixture of metaphors, but Paul’s thinking is clear. He recognizes that he and Apollos are fellow workers, and he recognizes that as fellow workers they both belong to God. They do not labor with God; they are God’s servants, and they labor with each other. Paul’s syntax emphasizes God and God’s priority in the tasks and the doing of ministry. The church is God’s field, God’s building, so that to claim allegiance to or status from one or another of God’s servants is nonsense. With the alteration of images—from field to building—Paul sets up the lines that follow.
9 With an explanatory “for,” Paul picks up the main points of the analogy (that Paul and Apollos are workers together in a common cause and belong to God, and that the Corinthians, therefore, do not belong to either Paul or Apollos because they, too, belong to God) and drives his present concerns home with terse, but pointed, epigrams: “We belong to God as God’s fellow workers; you in turn are God’s field.” At the same time Paul shifts images, “You are God’s building,”362 and thus sets in motion a new phase of the argument, which will be spelled out in the analogy that follows (vv. 10–15 and 16–17).
In speaking of himself and Apollos as “co-workers,” Paul uses another of his favorite terms to describe those who labor with him in ministry. Usually it refers to someone who has worked as Paul’s companion; here he extends the term to refer to another who in a more distant way joins him in the ministry of the gospel. In the Greek text the emphasis is altogether on God: “God’s servants we are, being co-workers; God’s field, God’s building, you are.” To be sure, some have occasionally suggested that by “co-worker” Paul here intended, as the KJV had it, “we are laborers together with God.” But everything in the context speaks against such a view: The emphatic position of the genitive (“God’s”) suggests possession,366 as do the following, equally emphatic, genitives, which are unambiguously possessive; the argument of the whole paragraph emphasizes the workers’ unity as co-laborers under God, an argument that would be undercut considerably if he were now emphasizing that they worked with God in Corinth (a view that is altogether modern and quite out of sync with Paul’s own concerns). It should finally be noted that these new “slogans” serve as the climax of the whole paragraph, in which the emphasis is decidedly on God’s ownership, not on Paul’s and Apollos’s working with God, as it were, in Corinth.
Thus the whole paragraph is tersely summarized with these emphatic words. Everything is God’s—the church, its ministry, Paul, Apollos—everything. Therefore, it is absolutely not permissible to say “I belong to Paul,” since the only legitimate “slogan” is “we all belong to God.”
Because the imagery of ministry presented here is so common in Paul, and because it so clearly reflects the teaching of Jesus as well, one may be certain that Paul would intend these words to go beyond their particular historical circumstances to apply to the church at all times in all settings. Whatever form ministry finally takes, and on that we have been divided for centuries, there can be no mistake as to its nature—servanthood, of the kind exhibited by the Lord himself and his apostle. There simply is no other paradigm.
Paul’s points need regularly to be underscored, for both clergy and laity alike. The church belongs to its Lord, and to him alone; and its ministers must function in Christ’s church in the posture of servants. Paul’s intent here of course is to correct a misguided perception of ministry on the part of a church that was making too much of its ministers. Our need to hear it probably reflects the same realities, although most would think of themselves as above the Corinthian attitude.
All too often those “in charge,” be they clergy, boards, vestry, sessions, or what have you, tend to think of the church as “theirs.” They pay lip-service to its being “Christ’s church, after all,” then proceed to operate on the basis of very pagan, secular structures, and regularly speak of “my” or “our” church. Nor does the church belong to the people, especially those who have “attended all their lives,” or who have “supported it with great sums of money,” as though that gave them special privileges. The church belongs to Christ, and all other things—structures, attitudes, decisions, nature of ministry, everything—should flow out of that singular realization. Moreover, those “in charge” must be ever mindful of who is really in charge. To be a servant does not mean the abdication of leadership, nor, on the other hand, does it mean to become everyone’s “errand boy or girl.” It has to do with attitude, perspective, not with one’s place on the organizational chart. And as Paul will make clear a bit later (4:8–17), it must be “like priest, like people.” Servant leadership is required precisely because servanthood is the basic stance of all truly Christian behavior, modeled as it was by the “Servant King” himself.
9 Paul first reaffirms that he and Apollos are both “fellow workers” of God. Then he switches his imagery from that of agriculture to that of architecture when he calls the Corinthians “God’s field” and then “God’s building.” Such dual images have their root in the OT’s description of the task to which God called his servant and prophet Jeremiah: “to uproot” and to “tear down,” and later “to build” and “to plant” (Jer 1:10; cf. 24:6; Sir 49:7).
With this perspective, Paul undercuts once and for all the statements that were making the rounds in Corinth, cited both in 1:12 and 3:4: “I follow Paul,” and, “I follow Apollos.” Literally these slogans translate, “I am of Paul,” and, “I am of Apollos,” meaning something like, “I belong to Paul,” or, “I belong to Apollos.” As far as the apostle is concerned, believers do not belong to any particular individual, no matter how influential that person may be in someone’s life. We belong to God! We are his field; we are his building. This is a strong warning to any of us who are pastors to make sure that the people under our care do not develop such an attachment to us that we feel as though they belong to us. (Attachment to a human leader, in fact, is one of the chief characteristics of a cult.) If anything, the reverse is true: Paul and Apollos and any other human leaders belong to the people as servants (see 3:21–23 and comments).