The "God of the Old Testament" receives a great deal of criticism from some quarters because, allegedly, He makes statements that contradict New Testament teaching, and He also seems cruel, especially toward non-Israelites. Examining a question that brings both of these criticisms into play, David Grabbe argues that God's command for Israel to execute total war on the Canaanites has a rational—and yes, Christian—explanation.
John Reiss: This past Wednesday, Veterans Day, was the 96th anniversary of what was originally known as Armistice Day, proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson to commemorate the cessation of hostilities ...
Mike Ford, reflecting on the inordinately high casualties of the American Civil War, far more extensive than all of the other wars combined, compares the devastation to another civil war between Judah and Israel, recorded in 1 Kings 14 and II Chronicles 11, a tragic war where more than 500,000 soldiers lost their lives because the leadership turned away from God, embracing disgusting forms of idolatry. After Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam, after seeking unwise counsel, provoked a split or secession of the northern tribes of Israel under the leadership of Jeroboam, who promoted the worship of golden calves in a counterfeit Feast of Tabernacles in Bethel and Dan and appointing his own unscrupulous priests to administer the pagan services, which promoted sodomy and male temple prostitutes. When King Abijah earnestly appealed to God at the beginning of a devastating siege, repenting of the foolish God-rejecting policies of his father's administration, God heard his intercessory prayer; Rehoboam's army was soundly routed, suffering 500,000 casualties, and Judah basked in a short-lived peace. Abijah had three good years but was suddenly cut off because the victory went to his head, and he didn't move forward, removing the idols and outlawing the disgusting pagan religious practices. One successful act of faith is only something to build on, not merely a motivation to rest on laurels. We need to make sure that we move forward in our spiritual battles, extirpating any idol that comes into our lives, separating us from God.
Martin Collins, continuing his expose of the methods the elite have used to murder those incompatible with the new, emerging 'communitarianism,' reports that Henry Kissinger has praised Barack Obama as the agent of the New World Order, committed to a sinister agenda of genocidal reduction of the world's population through bacteriological warfare , famine, toxic vaccines, and other methods. The elites, including Bertrand Russell, Henry Kissinger, Thomas Ferguson, and John Rappoport, have always regarded population as a "political" problem, requiring bold initiatives from abortion to genocide to keep the planet 'habitable.' In their warped and misguided neo-Malthusian mindset, they have created a shadow government to carry out Satan's mandate to destroy beings created in God's image. Thankfully, the Creator will have the last word on this issue, making sure His offspring will learn the ways of war no more.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the prophetic comments of Christ in Matthew 24:4, reminds us not to be troubled about the wars and rumors of wars, likening them to the Braxton Hicks false labor pains. As they increase in frequency, we should take note, especially as we have access to the worldwide web, giving us a front row seat on world upheaval. Up until World War I, we had long periods of peace. As each armed conflict continued, the periods of peace were severely truncated. Today, the world is embroiled in 41 armed conflicts, and the frequencies are increasing. We are now at the beginning of sorrows.
Ronny Graham, reflecting on the attack on Pearl Harbor, recounts the story of the band of brothers (Paratroopers E-Company ) trained to rush into battle in the winter of 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge and D-Day. The sense of purpose and the bonding of these brothers could not have happened had not Pearl Harbor been bombed, unifying modern Israel. Brother Reuben had been attacked by Satanic forces, requiring Reuben's brothers to come to his aid. Like E-Company, the Israel of God is again in full combat against the axis of evil. Our adversaries are not physical, but principalities or demonic forces. Realizing that God has provided everything we need, we can be as bold as Captain Spears, ready to give up our lives if need be, assured that Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan. We need to band together as brothers in this mortal combat.
The sixth commandment, forbidding murder, is rare among the Ten Commandments in that a clear and short line can be drawn between its commission and its horrible consequences. Yet, as John Ritenbaugh shows, some people—even nominal Christians—find ways to justify killing their fellow human beings, as well as themselves.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing on the civil government's sword or power to impel or inflict hurt, reads a poem by Marine Chaplain Dennis O'Brien, which claims that the soldier is the source of democracy and liberties. Our culture is obsessed with war (political wars, economic wars, drug wars, etc.) relying on conflict, strife, and brute force as the ultimate way to resolve all conflicts, with the spoils going to the victor.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that the immediate penalty can more quickly be seen in the violation of the Sixth Commandment than for any other commandment. The startling annual statistics of suicide, murder, and abortion reported in the United States dwarf into insignificance the cumulative military deaths in the entire Iraq War. The prohibition against killing in Exodus 21 refers to pre-meditated murder. Cities of refuge were allowed for accidental killings, serving as jails or house arrest. False witnesses in a capital murder trial would forfeit their lives. Ancient Israel had a supreme court (in the office of the High Priest) to decide murder, injury, and damage cases, with the punishment matching the gravity of the damages. Jesus magnifies the Law in Matthew 5, moving beyond the behavior into the motivating thought behind the deed, warning that we do not retaliate in kind, arrogating God"s prerogative for revenge to ourselves. In this context, there can be no such thing as a "just" war. Consequently, the Christian is not permitted to engage in mass homicide on behalf of the state. We must remember that the Bible is not written for the world at large, but for God's called-out ones (John 6:44), the Israel of God, the Family of God, or a Holy Nation, equipped to understand the truths of scripture through the power of the Holy Spirit, opening the mind to divine knowledge, transforming the fleshly heart to a spiritual heart. Because our citizenship is in heaven, we are ambassadors forbidden to fight in the conflicts of the countries in which we have our embassies, taking our marching orders only from Jesus Christ.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that the Father and the Son are two distinct beings, not co-equal as the trinity doctrine proclaims, but having a superior-subordinate relationship, with the Son deferring to the Father in all things. Likewise, we will be in the same God Family, but in subordinate positions to the Father and the Son. The Son provides the blueprint for us, aggressively submitting to the will of the Father, using the Holy Spirit to bring every thought into captivity. Sometimes we may do right and not receive smooth-going, as demonstrated by the harrowing experiences of the apostles. In imitating Christ, we have to learn to endure hardness, battling a life-and-death struggle with our carnal minds, totally submitting to God by walking perpetually in the Spirit, being transformed from carnal nature to the glorious character and image of God. Our submission to the Father and Christ will never end, just as Christ's submission to the Father will never end.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: The news of the week involved the latest verbal blunder of televangelist Pat Robertson. ...
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting that one perennial theme of the major and minor prophets is the deplorable faithlessness of Israel, depicted as a fickle, spoiled, pampered, well-dressed streetwalker, suggests that the day of Israel's calamity is right upon the horizon. To the remnants of this decadent civilization of modern Israel, God's begotten children, God provides the book of Proverbs as an antidote. Wisdom is inextricably linked with fear and reverence for God. Without wisdom, genius and brilliance is useless at best and dangerous at worst. Wisdom warns us not to let the world squeeze us into its mold. Unfortunately, as a nation, we have rejected wisdom in favor of foolishness, bringing about major devastating calamities: famines, pestilence, earthquakes, cosmic disturbances (graphically depicted in Deuteronomy 32, Jeremiah 4, and Ezekiel 2-3,6-7) upon our apostate faithless people after the prior devastation of Gentile nations who didn't have a relationship with God.
Scattered within the Bible's pages are clues about the Beast, but one stands out: his frequent connection with war. Richard Ritenbaugh analyzes types of the coming Beast to build a composite picture of what we can expect of the coming world ruler.
Of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the red horse may be the most easily interpreted. Richard Ritenbaugh shows, however, that while war is predominantly contemplated, the rider of the red horse is also responsible for the escalating violence on the homefront.
John Ritenbaugh highlights a dangerous flaw in our evaluation of religious truth. If the God of the Bible (who cannot lie and is not a God of confusion) were involved in the religions of the world—mainstream Christianity and Islam - there would be no strife between them. The bitter fruits indicate that the god of both of them is not the God of the Bible, but instead the god of this world, Satan the Devil, who inspires warfare and adversarial relationships. The false teachings of this world's belief systems can adversely erode and destroy the faith in members of the greater church of God. "The Way" is distinct from the world's belief systems, polluted by the tolerant and inclusive attitudes of the liberal far left - a position shockingly embraced by a large segment of evangelical, born-again Christians.
Richard Ritenbaugh discusses the pivotal holy day, the Feast of Trumpets, a day looking back to three holy days in which God deals with individuals and looks forward to three holy days in which God works with progressively larger groups. This day is a memorial of shouting or blowing of trumpets. Teruw'ah (the shout of the shofar) is often associated with the sound of war, symbolizing the Day of the Lord, the real war to end all wars, the time Christ will subdue and render judgment to all the evil hostile forces (governments under Satan's influence) on the earth, bringing rewards to His called out ones. Although these events will take place with relative quickness and speed, the whole time sequence will take some time to completely unfold. If we remain faithful, this day will have a positive outcome.
Martin G. Collins: While suffering under the tyrannical, secular regime of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi people were more personally free from the murderous, religious radicals of the various Islamic sects. ...
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the shock and awe bombardment in Iraq, focuses upon the original shock and awe display on Mount Sinai, as well as the ultimate shock and awe campaign the world will experience at the second coming of Christ. Descriptions of this calamitous event abound throughout the Psalms and prophecies, depicting in awesome graphic detail the carnage and destruction of the Day of the Lord—the time of which no one knows! When these events begin to unfold (like a thief in the night), they will occur at meteoric speed. We dare not be caught sleeping but must show continual vigilance.
Martin G. Collins: In observing the news coverage for the last week and a half, I am not quite sure whether I am being informed about the blow-by-blow events of a war, a boxing match, or a football game. ...
As anyone can see on television, the war is on and progressing to the Bush administration's satisfaction. ...
Martin Collins reiterates that God alone has the prerogative of giving and taking life. As spirit -begotten citizens and ambassadors of God's Heavenly Kingdom, we do not take up arms on behalf of any nation on the earth. As residents of the country into which we are born we are nevertheless subject to the consequences of our refusal to bear arms. Wars carried out by physical nations are in open defiance against God's law prohibiting murder. Christ and James point out that we are even to love our enemies also created in the image of God. As God's Saints, putting down rebellion on the Day of the Lord, we would be carrying out the mandates of God and not acting with hostile, hate-filled, self-indulgent self-will. War will cease for all time from the world.
Martin Collins, reflecting upon the current massive military build-up, suggests that some social analysts consider war as a basic social system (in what biblical prophecy would identify as the over-arching Babylonian system). Our forebears entered into this Babylonian system after the fateful choice in I Samuel 8, replacing dependence upon God with a dependency upon military might. Conscientious objection to military action requires exercising mature faith, involving submission, loyalty, dedication, and truthful conscientious obedience to God's Law. God has promised that when we (individuals or nations) obey Him, He will fight our battles for us. By not trusting God, Israel and its descendants brought about a perpetual curse.
In concluding this series, Richard Ritenbaugh explains that before the Beast kills the Two Witnesses, they will have accomplished their work. Revelation 11:7-14 contrasts the Beast (a disciple of Satan) and Christ's Two Witnesses, showing stark diametrical contrasts between righteousness and defilement. The 'great city' where they die must be Jerusalem (called in this context 'Sodom' and 'Egypt' for its sinfulness and ungodliness). Humanity, totally given over to carnality, will feel short-lived relief at the Witnesses' death—whom they consider to be tormentors—but stark terror at their resurrection, when 7,000 are exterminated, perhaps many of whom are prominent supporters of the Beast. The glorification of the Two Witnesses will follow the pattern of Jesus Christ.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: However one reads the book of Ecclesiastes, it must be admitted that Solomon's conclusions are spot-on in terms of human reality. ...
We live in a world that has little or no idea what true peace is or how it is achieved. John Ritenbaugh shows how we can produce godly peace even in the midst of turmoil and why it is such an important virtue.
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes that there is a very clear "them and us" demarcation in God's mind regarding which is the true way and which is not. We were formerly children of Satan (John 8:44) until God rescued us from this evil system (Ephesians 2:3), making us at odds with the entire world (I John 5:19). The churches of this world have attempted to appropriate the name of Christ and the grace concept, but then vigorously have thrown out God's law. The acid test indicating God's true church consists of obedience of His laws (John 14:15) including the Sabbath (Exodus 31:16-17), preventing the confusion and shameless compromising (the fruits of disobedience) which characterize the majority of the world's religions.
A reason lies behind the devastating wars that have plagued mankind since the beginning. John Ritenbaugh gives the uncomplicated solution: Men have broken the sixth commandment!
The commandment against murder is the one most universally followed by man. But Jesus shows there is much more behind it than merely taking another's life.
Observing that more controversy exists about the counting of Pentecost than for any of the holy days, John Ritenbaugh suggests the confusion may be a function of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19). Confusion, separation, and division have been our legacy since the Garden of Eden. The major reason for Christ's ministry was to put an end to the quarreling and division, enabling us to be one with the Father and with each other. Three of God's festivals (Passover, Atonement, and Pentecost) have a direct bearing on the principle of unity. As we individually strive to become unified with God, believing in His authority and His doctrines, we will ultimately become unified, in one accord, with our brethren. It is our individual responsibility, enabled by God's Holy Spirit, to follow those things that were revealed by God through His apostles, keeping God's Commandments, rather than following our own inclinations or private agenda.
Focusing on the infamous Pearl Harbor attack, John Reid develops the concept of preparing for total war, including rationing, scrap metal drives, and victory gardens. Spiritually, we are also in a total war, requiring that we mobilize all we have to win the conflict that faces us. We face conflicts on three fronts: 1) the world with its attending lusts and pride, 2) Satan the Devil and his army of demons, with seductive temptations to self-centeredness, and 3) our own carnal mind or human nature. Countering these three deadly fronts, we have the intent and power of Almighty God to save us. Following the example of the apostle Paul, we need to don the whole armor of God, using His spiritual weapons to bring every thought into obedience to Christ, with the intent of destroying the enemy's capacity to make war.
Have you ever considered what it will be like right after Christ returns? What will you do, as a king, to help and govern the people placed under you? Believe it or not, you are already developing those skills!
There is a conspiracy to bring this world under one government! However, Earl Henn shows that its real, "behind the scenes" leaders are Satan and his demons. Humans involved in it do not realize they are being influenced to fulfill Satan's desires!
In this Feast of Trumpets message, Richard Ritenbaugh indicates that God (sometimes referred to as the Lord of Hosts) will marshal an army of resurrected saints who will wage a just war. Trumpets represent a cry of alarm and a call to action. The only time warmaking is just is when God decides, indicating that man's conscience has become so defiled, seared, and perverted that no other solution is possible. God also wages war to defeat His people's enemies (such as the Amalakites) and to put down the Satan-inspired end-time rebellion (Revelation 19:15; Joel 2:1-11).
John Reid, a veteran of the Korean war, knows the horrors of war. We are in a spiritual war right now, and it will only become hotter as we near the end!
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that a recurring pattern God uses is to set apart one group of people to become a blessing to the rest of the world by keeping His covenant, providing a good example. Ancient Israel was asked to purge the land of Gentile customs and practices. In the New Testament, the church (the Israel of God) was asked to come out of the world, having as little contact as possible with its political, educational, and social institutions (with its unseen spiritual influences). Like Nehemiah, our worldview has to stem from a fear of God. Adopting the world's standards automatically makes one an enemy of God. Our enemy is not the people of the world, but the subtle satanic spiritual influences that determine their attitudes and values. Our intimate fellowship should not be with the world, but be concentrated upon God and those who have made the Covenant with God, loving them as we would ourselves.
Throughout the generations, war has been mankind's solution to problems. Is there hope for the future? John Ritenbaugh gives the comforting answer: at-one-ment is possible with God!
Increased war is one of the signs of the end, as Jesus shows in Matthew 24. What is the pace of war in this century? Is the world becoming more peaceful or more violent?
In this sermon on overcoming Satan, John Ritenbaugh reiterates that confusion or lack of peace is the clear fruit of Satan's involvement. It is nearly impossible for righteousness to be produced in an environment of instability and disharmony brought about by selfish ambition, competition, and bitter envy (James 3:16) In confronting our wily adversary (the source of all this confusion), we must maintain constant vigilance (James 4:7, I Peter 3:5-8), resisting unlawful desires, not allowing Satan to have a bridgehead in our emotions. Satan consistently works on our fear of being denied some form of pleasure.If we stay loyal to God, resisting Satan as Job did, Satan's power over us will be broken (I John 3:8, 5:18). Resistance must begin in the mind and thought processes (II Corinthians 10:3-5) where demonic influences try to persuade us to entertain ideas exalting ourselves over the truth or knowledge of God.
John Ritenbaugh warns that Satan's modus operandi has always been to use a lie to promote self-satisfaction over obedience to God. Like the Messiah, we must learn that the way to the kingdom is through self-denial rather than self-satisfaction. We are particularly vulnerable to Satan's disinformation when we feel we are not getting what we deserve or are being treated unfairly. In a world we perceive to be unfair, we need to emulate Christ who endured unfair treatment, suffering for righteousness sake all the way to his death, without complaining (I Peter 2:20-21) The major cause for the confusion and division of the Corinthian church (and the greater church of God) was Satan-inspired self-exaltation, finding excuses other than sin not to fellowship. The opposite of love is not so much hate ? but self-centeredness.
The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment
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