David Maas, focusing on Old and New Testament scriptures which establish the permanency of God's Word and His immutable Laws, examines our current, precarious state as God's called out ones having two minds—spiritual and carnal—in mortal combat until one permanently perishes. We share some of the same miserable, almost hopeless characteristics experienced by Siamese twins conjoined at the brain. Our conjoined carnal twin is pulling us incessantly toward sin and death. Unless we, with God's help, bifurcate our two opposing natures, our two warring minds, we will die spiritually. The only part of us that will survive through the grave is our character—our thoughts, the contents of hearts, what we think about all day long. This 5th installment of the "W's and H's of Meditation" focuses on some strategies to guard our spiritual legacy box. Proper meditation can strengthen and solidify our memories. If we systematically and incrementally stockpile God's Word (the mind of Christ) into our nervous systems, even though our outer man is (progressively) decaying and wasting away, while our inner self is being renewed day after day, we will nurture our spiritual legacy. Meditating on the Word of God, storing it in our nervous systems and absorbing it into our characters, will ensure the secure protection of our spiritual legacy box. The Mind of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, God's Holy Spirit, is our spiritual legacy box, the treasure we now carry around in earthen vessels but will translate to dazzling spiritual bodies at our resurrection into God's Kingdom.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on a classic radio program Lights Out in which one episode featured a terrifying accident in a laboratory in which a growing chicken heart could not be stopped until it consumed the entire earth, asks whether people think God is so irresponsible that He would allow something to come into existence He could not control. Most of modern Israel has been afflicted with a blindness of God's purposeful intent, even though it is eminently clear in both the public revelation (the creation itself, Romans 1:20) and the private revelation (God's Holy Scriptures unlocked through God's Holy Spirit). The apparent reason for Israel's current blindness is an adjustment on God's part to allow the "fulness of the Gentiles" to occur (Romans 11:25. Because God has purposely chosen to keep Himself invisible, even though His works proclaim ample evidence of a purposeful builder or designer, some presumptuous fools think they can call God into account, advising Him of better ways to manage His work. Even though the evidence from creation is insurmountable, people deliberately want to disregard it because accepting it would require that they submit to His will, something which the recalcitrant carnal mind from Adam and Eve to the present day is loath to do, preferring to satisfy its selfish, greedy desires. Our carnality wants wiggle room to dominate and to focus on the here and now rather than the ultimate purpose for which we were created. The lying, carnal mind, despite the testimony of creation and scripture, claims that if God exists He has no plan or purpose, ignoring God's stated intention of creating mankind in His image. Obviously, the majority of Israel, still under spiritual blindness, is oblivious to this intention. We must resist God-denying insanity of atheistic, 'progressive' evolution-based humanist education permeating our culture, reinforcing our rebellious carnal nature.
Martin Collins, focusing on Romans 1:18-20, reiterates that those who refuse to acknowledge the Creation's public revelation that God exists are totally without excuse. Mankind plagiarized every one of his inventions and innovations from a design God had already patented. Recently, the copycats developed 1.) a bionic handling assistant based on the elephant, 2.) a material that is both lightweight and tough, based on the principle of deer antlers, 3.) an adhesive that attaches and releases, based on the principle of a gecko's feet, 4.) devices to increase visual acuity based on the gecko's eyes, enabling clear night vision, 5.) a multi-focal lens based on the design of the human eye, and 6.) synthetic radio- chip cochlea, based upon the structure of the human ear. As scientists move away from acknowledging God as the Creator, and as humanists continue to denigrate the Bible, mankind will misuse these marvelous 'inventions' copied from God's Creation, or evil purpose, bringing on tribulation and self- destruction unless God mercifully intervenes.
Martin Collins, reflecting on the Creation account in Genesis, notices evidence of patterns suggesting an artist systematically filling a canvas, populating it according to a certain order of species equipped to multiply. Mankind, the highest rung of physical Creation, has always displayed a knack for genius-level intelligence, as is seen anciently in the invention of the Lycurgus cup, wherein colors in the cup indicate the presence of poison. Today, engineers develop optical materials from bird feathers, utilizing nano-structures of light rather than pigments to generate color. Automobile manufactures copy biomimetic structures, inspired by the impact-resistant skull, to make automobile frames stronger. Engineers have copied the nose-structure of the Kingfisher beak to make bullet-trains more aerodynamic and shock resistant. Other engineers have produced surveillance cameras based on the structure of Swift bird wings. Engineers have copied bat-sonar, enabling blind people to navigate more safely by means of ultra [sound] canes. The military has also employed this principle for its ComBat surveillance plane. Scientists and engineers often mimic God's patterns and structures when creating 'modern' technology.
Ronny Graham, focusing on Mathematics as another part of creation that low-information scientists are loath to attribute to God, points out that mature scientists such as Albert Einstein have proclaimed that the more they study science, the more they believe in God. Physicists see order and regularity in nature, seeing the ubiquitous pattern of the golden ratio unifying the shapes of rose petals, sunflowers, pine cones, sea-shells, the human body, the pyramids, the dimensions of Noah's ark, the rings of Saturn, and the Milky Way. The fingerprint of God, including the pervasive number 7, is seen in the gestation cycles of many animals, the musical scale, the colors of the visible spectrum, the seven days of creation and the frequent appearance of the number in the Scriptures, showing completion and perfection. No matter where one looks throughout the universe, he will see God. If people observe us, will they also see God?
Martin Collins warns against accepting the secularist doctrine that technology demonstrates the primacy of human intelligence over anything else. If we measure intelligence as the ability to adequately respond to challenging situations, humans are faring no better than ancient civilizations. As a matter of fact, archeology has demonstrated that even in technology, modern man has some gaping deficits in comparison to earlier civilization. Humans have never invented anything new, but have relied on biomimicry—mimicking what God had already created in nature. As examples, consider that Velcro mimics the adhesive properties of the cocklebur, e-readers mimic the properties of luminous butterfly wings, and medical tape inspired by spider silk which will not damage the flesh when peeled off tender skin. God created these intricacies from nothing. It is important for us to distinguish the creation from the Creator, giving the honor and worship to the Creator and not the creation.
Clyde Finklea, focusing on Psalm 19:1, which proclaims that the heavens (the firmament) proclaim the glory of God, and on Isaiah 6:3 which avers that the entire earth reveals God's glory and perfection, reminds us that the pinnacle of God's Creation, beings created in His image started out as mud sculptures, into which He breathed the spirit of life. The vastness of the universe has not even been tapped with the accuracy of the Hubbell telescope, which helps us to estimate that it would take eight minutes to travel to the sun at the speed of light and 20 billion light years to travel to the edge of Milky Way, not even scratching the surface of Creation. David proclaimed that we are awesomely made, with the human brain, for example, containing 10 billion nerve cells. God is bringing many sons to glory, implanting His character traits through the means of His Holy Spirit, including the multiple aspects of love described in I Corinthians 13. As our sanctification process comes to full term, we will see our Creator as He is, having attained the same glorified state. In response to this, all we can say is "Wow"!!!!!!
Martin Collins, emphasizing that God does not do anything randomly, reveals that even scientists advancing the so-called chaos theory have discovered that disintegration and breakdown (entropy) proceed according to orderly laws. Dr. James Gleick, in his exposition of the Butterfly Effect, observes that even an apparently chaotic event like falling water is governed by predictable laws of physics. Amazingly, some deluded scientists, with all this substantiation of order, continue to advance the evolutionary hypothesis—an untenable position that order can somehow be the product of chaos. God is a God of order and not confusion; all He does follows a specific order—summarized by the adage, a time and a place for everything. One does not laugh and joke at a funeral nor weep uncontrollably at a wedding. Likewise, there is nothing inconsequential or out of place in God's Word, including 1.) the order of Noah's entering and leaving the ark, 2.) the order in which Jacob placed his servants and family in his meeting with Esau, 3.) the order in which Jacob and Moses blessed the tribes of Israel, 4.) the order in which Abraham and Lot separated their families and assets and 5.) the order in which Joshua dispatched the tribes into the Promised land. God made careful distinction between light and darkness, creating boundaries between clean and unclean, profane and holy, insisting that the time He has made holy be kept in a different manner from the rest of the time cycles. The Sabbath serves as the basic time-marker of the week, the year, and the Jubilee. To everything there is a season when the appropriate behavior is expected. God's called-out ones strive to yield to God's timing, realizing that the steps of a good man are ordered by God.
Richard Ritenbaugh, acknowledging that only fools are blind to the marvels of Creation, observes that even empirical science has substantiated the need for six factors to support life: 1) crust, 2.) temperature, 3.) moon, 4.) star with a stable energy source, 5.) core, and 6.) right planetary neighbors. The earth, having all these prerequisites, displays the magnificent design demanding an Intelligent Creator (Romans 1:18). Human nature, without God's Spirit, follows a trajectory into ignorance and stupidity. If people do not believe in God, they will believe in anything, following the darkness of their unregenerate hearts. God has called some individuals now, crafting them as His workmanship, equipped for good works and the opportunity to be in His family. Unlike the Protestant notion that the end of the spiritual creation process is baptism, to be capped off with grace and eternal security, God's true Church teaches that the salvation process has merely begun, with the Sabbath being an integral part of sanctification. The Sabbath, a hallowed time of restorative rest, provides an opportunity for God's called-out sons and daughters to develop a relationship with Him, reflecting on the spiritual as well as the physical creation. Far from being a period of lounging, the Sabbath rest generates spiritual energy and develops a trusting relationship with the Creator. As God's called-out ones, we must not use the hallowed time for our carnal pleasures, but for renewing our relationship with our Creator. Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is a major key to our spiritual growth.
Ronny Graham, in part two of his message, "Seeing God in Creation," again focuses on Romans 1:18-20, emphasizing that humans can deduce God's presence from His creation. Hebrews 11:3 adds that the Invisible has created the visible. Hebrews 11 shows that Abel, Noah and Abraham displayed their faith by their works. Two theories of creation have tried to jettison God out of the process. The Big Bang Theory posits that some billions of years ago a brief but massive blast catapulted matter from a tiny confined source to the outer regions of the universe, ultimately accounting for the stars. Scientists remain unable to explain the cause of this explosion, simply asking people to have faith in an unproven theory. Darwin's theory of the Origin of the Species, hypothesizing that humans evolved from "lower" animals, cannot account for the present-day coexistence of these lower animals with humans. When we compare these flawed theories to the Biblical account in John 1 and Genesis 1, we have clear explanations for daily, seasonal, and yearly cycles—phenomena the Big Bang and evolutionary theories cannot explain. The unknown energy and the mind behind these cyclical patterns is God. The regularity of these cycles imply a faithful Creator. Sadly, even those scientists who advance "intelligent design" seldom attribute it to God, referring to it as Mother Nature, or some such abstraction. They refuse to acknowledge that God made all things through the Word of His Power. Thankfully, God has given His Faith to those whom He has called, enabling them to believe in Him. If we believe God, we will manifest our faith through obedience.
Mike Ford, exposing one of the most colossal frauds that ever existed, the global warming hoax perpetrated by pseudo-science, warns us that it has morphed into the fastest growing religion in the world. Proponents of this bogus religion claim that, if we can control our output of carbon dioxide, regulate bovine flatulence, and drive electric cars, we can prevent the oceans from rising, the polar ice-caps from melting, hurricanes from forming, and drought from spreading. President Obama, the Alarmer-in-chief, has proclaimed climate change the biggest danger on the earth, far greater than ISIS and the threat of nuclear war. Michael Bloomberg blamed climate change for Hurricane Sandy while Hillary Clinton attributes Hurricane Matthew to climate change. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and failed Presidential candidate Al Gore have called for stiff fines and imprisonments for climate change deniers, using techniques of harassment and intimidation not unlike the Spanish Inquisition. None of the dire warnings made by Al Gore have ever materialized; as a matter of fact, a large segment of the scientific community fear Global cooling and a new ice age. Climate always changes over time, but human contribution to this change is negligible. Being good stewards of the earth should not lead to the imbalanced practice of making mother-earth our goddess. God, the inventor of climate and weather patterns, is sovereign over the climate and weather; He knows a few more things about it than Al Gore, Barack Obama, or Michael Bloomberg. The nation that obeys God will have favorable weather and climate; the nations that disobeys God will not. Worshiping the earth and rejecting its Creator will bring about disappointing results.
John Ritenbaugh observes that, in every biblical covenant, God gives responsibilities in order to be in alignment with Him. If we fail to meet the responsibilities He has given to us, God will penalize us. Every covenant we find in Scripture outlines promises, responsibilities, and penalties. As members of the Body of Christ, we have been given specific tasks to carry out, placed in that Body where we can be the most productive. God is currently at work producing leadership in an organization which will follow Him, calling people into His family one by one, meticulously crafting it into a perfect organism. God is showing the same precision in His spiritual creation as He did in the physical creation. God did not create the universe and then just walk away, paying less attention to us than the earth (as magnificent as it is). Everything God made works (including our ultimate spiritual creation) perfectly. Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, upholds and tends His spiritual creation right now. As God used Noah to build an ark (Noah perhaps had no idea as to what an ark was and what rain was), God has also called us to complete a project to which we are totally oblivious. Though we are in much ignorance as to how the end project will emerge, God has provided us tools to finish what He has called us to do. By reviewing God's patterns, we can see that we are part of the same project to which Noah and his family, progenitors of Christ, had been called. The ark, a protective enclosure or place of sanctuary, recurs perennially in Scripture, as the basket, protecting Moses, another Christ figure. Joseph, another Christ figure, was transported in a kind of ark (a coffin) into the Promised Land. The Ark of the Covenant is a protective enclosure, shielding God's treasures. The church metaphorically is an ark, a structure protecting God's called-out ones until the time of resurrection into His family. As Noah could not see God, but still did what He commanded, walking by faith, trusting Him totally, we, as
David Maas recounts a recent experience in which he was able to appreciate the beauty and construction of a previously enigmatic symphonic work by spontaneously discovering its leitmotif (recurring musical pattern), which had eluded him for over 4 2 years. God's signature, the repeatable pattern of the recurring number seven, can be seen in astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, genetics, and all other sciences, which are merely alternate expositions of the mind of God eternally present before the foundation of the world. God's perennial leitmotif, the recurring 7, analogized by the ascending 7 note musical scale, is embedded throughout Scripture, beginning with the seven days of creation (with a 24/7 cycle beginning in Genesis 1;14) and the weekly Sabbath, the appointed times outlined in Leviticus 23, including the Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, the counting for Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the last Great Day, as well as the embedded patterns of seven revealed in the gematria of the Hebrew and Greek texts. The Bible itself has a seven- part division with 22 books (using the Jewish numbering) in the Old Testament, containing the Law, Prophets, and Writings) and 27 books in the New Testament, containing the Gospels, History, Letters, and Prophecy, adding up to 49, or 7 times 7. God's called-out ones, by keeping the seventh say Sabbath, have been metaphorically plucking a harp of seven strings on a weekly basis since their calling, every year rehearsing God's appointed Holy Days, spiraling and ascending continually to a higher level of understanding. The new song sung by the 144,000 will likely be based on existing spiritual motifs and scales practiced throughout the sanctification process, motifs to which the rest of the world is oblivious.
John Ritenbaugh, citing Romans 1:18-20, asserts that, even though the existence of the Everlasting Deity can easily be accessed by reason and observation, Satan, having worked feverishly through philosophers and educators in the western world, to where Jacob's children had migrated, employing the distorted 'luminaries' (such as Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Marx), succeeded in deceiving and dumbing-down the overwhelming majority of the citizenry in the world to accept immorality as the norm and righteousness or morality as the aberration. Philosophers and educators have been Satan's chief tools in recent history. God has allowed Satan to do his work, realizing that all humans, including Adam and Eve, Job, Abraham and his offspring, desperately required testing, adjustment, and character-shaping. God does things in patterns; the kind of rigor our original parents Adam and Eve were subjected to as well as all the subsequent biblical luminaries, is the same kind of rigor. His current work—- the Israel of God, the called-out Church—is subjected to. We are now the chief focus of God's work on this earth.
Ronny Graham, reflecting on the perennial growing season (including the dormancy periods when the leaves fall), focuses on the function of the leaves, both to provide nourishment to the tree by photosynthesis and oxygen for animals and humans. As the sunlight wanes, properties within in the leaf produce a kaleidoscope of color, demonstrating that our Creator is also a consummate artist. God established the symbiotic relationship between oxygen breathers (animals) and carbon dioxide breathers (plants),and He aslso created the healing and medicinal attributes of leaves and herbs, including the Tree of Life described in Revelation 22:1-2.The righteous man in Psalm 1 is metaphorized as a life-giving tree.
Richard Ritenbaugh reflects that the creation offers compelling testimony to the complexities and intricacies which preclude even the possibility of evolution. The symbiosis of the Clownfish and the sea anemone could not have occurred without design. Birds, with their lightweight bones, multifaceted feathers, lungs, beaks, and sophisticated aeronautical brains, could not have simply appeared by chance or natural selection. The DNA strand dwarfs any kind of man-made databank ever made, even having self-correcting enzymes. Evolution is a feeble-brained attempt to get rid of God. Job knew that the earth was a sphere hung in space, an insight that science only discovered in the last hundred years or so. Science has not yet determined the laws governing cloud formations. The secrets of our physiognomy, beginning with a uniting of ovum and sperm, are known only by God. Many of these secrets have been revealed to us in His Holy Word, showing God as a Being of intelligence and purpose, a Being with which we can form a relationship. God designed the creation to work, from the one-celled organism to the complex multi-cellular organism. If God takes such pains to create a snail, imagine what pains He is taking with us, creating us to be His sons and daughters. God's vast power compels us to give Him respect. Psalm 104 depicts God as Creator, the giver and maker of good things, designed to bring us to glory. David admonishes us to praise God for His creation; everything that God made is designed to work together with all the rest of creation. God's creation provides public revelation of God's existence, enabling us to understand something of Him, who is exponentially greater than His creation, including the power of fire, water, wind (hurricanes, and tornadoes). Not only does God sustain us, but the entirety the flora and the fauna through beneficent cycles and seasons are designed to enhance life. God is intimately involved in every aspect of His Creation including enlarging His family through the medium of His Holy Sp
John Ritenbaugh maintains that Ecclesiastes 3:10-15 constitutes a useful roadmap for the confusing labyrinth of life. God's ways are inscrutable to most people; grasping these revelations requires a special gift. Unless God calls us and gifts us with this insight, we will have absolutely no clue as to our eventual purpose, explaining why eternity has been planted in our hearts. God has given gifts to all men. He has revealed to all of mankind knowledge of His existence through public observation of the creation (Romans 1:18-20). It takes greater 'faith' to believe in evolution. God also gave mankind a conscience as a kind of wired-in moral law (Romans 2:14-15) establishing a basic standard of morality. God has given the entire human race a grasp of the concept of eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Only those called by God are given further detailed instructions of God's grand design, making living by faith possible. God will add understanding as we are able to make use of it. Fear of God, the beginning of understanding, holds us on track, keeping us in alignment with God. We must learn that the time and the events God has set are unchangeable; whatever God does endures forever. We must trust God's timing on everything. Compared to our fallible or haphazard timing, God "runs a tight ship." What God has purposed will be done. We are obligated to submit to His creativity, trusting that He will bring to fruition what He has purposed; we are His workmanship, fashioned to perform good works—our permanent assignment regardless of the circumstances. Past, present, and future are inextricably bound together as a continuous stream; God alone controls the historical segments, giving us practical experience as to what works and what does not. The circularity of history provides instructive correction and guidance, enabling us multiple opportunities to repent and overcome. In the life of the called, everything matters. The work of God endures forever. We are known by God; He is in control. Judgment is a prominent t
One of the lessons of Ecclesiastes is that God is intimately involved in the lives and futures of those He has called into His purpose. To this end, He has given His people tremendous gifts that, if properly used, will build their faith and draw them closer to God. John Ritenbaugh encourages us that we matter to God: He wants to see us succeed in life and be prepared for life in His Kingdom.
Far more than on any other hero of faith in Hebrews 11, the apostle Paul concentrates on Abraham as the father of the faithful, the Bible's premier example of a human being's walk with God. John Ritenbaugh illustrates how Abraham's faithfulness to God sets a clear pattern for us to follow.
An outstanding feature of Christ's ministry is the many astounding miracles that He performed throughout Judea and Galilee. Martin Collins proposes that Jesus' miracles did far more than merely excite His audience: They declared the Source of His power and His message.
In the church, the argument over evolution was settled long ago, but such is not the case in the wider world. David Grabbe goes beyond the science to what embracing evolution actually says about a person's—and a society's—relationship with God.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that belief or faith is difficult enough to maintain if the doctrines are put in proper order, but greatly confused when the pastor dilutes correct doctrine with "benign" false doctrine derived from the belief systems of the world's cultures under the sway of Satan's manipulation. Seemingly minor changes affect major trajectories in direction. A person's cosmology (his understanding of the nature of the world) largely determines his belief system and attendant behavior. If evolution determines his cosmology, man becomes his own God. Until our cosmology is synchronized with God's (as we think as God's thinks), our spiritual well-being will be in continuous deadly peril. What a person believes shapes his views and behavior. The Axial Period (deriving from sixth- and seventh-century BC Hellenistic thought) has largely shaped the dominant cosmology of today's world.
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes that without the proper emphasis on thanksgiving and praise, our prayers degenerate into the "gimmes" with the emphasis exclusively on self. We need to learn to give God thoughtful thanks in every circumstance, including sickness, health, prosperity, and adversity, all having a useful niche in our spiritual growth if we cultivate the right perspective. While gratitude is a major support of faith, pride is a major exponent of vanity and uselessness. Gratitude is the natural reaction to what God has done. Thanksgiving supports true faith because it helps us to focus on the Creator rather than the created. If we see, hear, taste, and feel God in our lives, we should experience a torrent of praise and thanksgiving in our lives.
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes that in Numbers 16 through 18, God performed several miracles to demonstrate conclusively that not everyone is called to the same function and that He remains the Boss. The events included: (1) The execution of the rebels Dathan, Abiram, and Korah; (2) The sparing of Korah's sons; (3) The lightning bolts zapping the 250 men offering profane fire; (4) The intercessory activity of Aaron stopping the plague from consuming the murmurers; and (5) The budding and blossoming of Aaron's Rod, determining once and for all whom God set apart for the role of the priesthood. God performed these specific acts to demonstrate that He, and not men, has the final word on everything.
John Ritenbaugh explores the source or origin of sin. God gave us a nature oriented to the physical, having a heavy pull toward self-centeredness, totally ignorant of moral responsibility, but capable of being enlightened. Because of this blindness and ignorance, our human nature has a predisposition toward sin - leading to a continuous indwelling struggle, something God intended us to endure, enabling us to build character by resisting its powerful pull. Though influenced by Satan and the world, sin is still a personal choice rooted in pride and vanity (originated by Satan). Christ's sacrifice and God's Holy Spirit provide our only defense against its deadly pulls.
John Ritenbaugh, using examples of Abraham and Moses, indicates that faith, far from being blind, is based on analyzing, calculating, and comparing, adding up from evidence in God's Word, our own experience, and our calling by God's Holy Spirit. When our minds are opened by God, we become instantaneously double-minded, able to see both spiritually through faith and carnally through our senses. Like Abraham and Moses, we must make a choice to turn our back on carnal pleasures and embrace the yet unseen spiritual alternative, overcoming our doubts and fears, rather than emulate Lot, who having a knowledge of the truth, nevertheless, carnally speaking wanted to have his cake and eat it too. One of the reasons God may have decided to work His purpose by faith was that it seems the best way of discovering a person's character.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that keeping the Feast of Tabernacles in a central location enables us to realize that we are involved in something larger than our own salvation- part of a universal and eternal mission, giving us unity toward God's purpose. Jeroboam, motivated by political ambition and self-centered fear, incrementally and surreptitiously established a more convenient idolatrous festival, replacing the Levites, and establishing new centers of worship in order to prevent his people from keeping the legitimate Feast of Tabernacles in Judah. The modern parallel seems quite clear.
John Ritenbaugh, drawing from his own experiences at taking care of sheep and from Philip Keller's book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, points out that animal metaphors are better understood if one has had real-life experiences with them. Of all the animals, sheep need the most care and are extremely vulnerable to predators, pests, and fear, leading to an extremely dependent and trustful behavior. From the viewpoint of a sheep, the narrator of Psalm 23 expresses gratitude and contentment for the shepherd's watchful care and continuous providence. Occasionally a sheep may not show contentment, "worrying a fence" to look for greener pastures, leading other sheep astray in the process. Shepherds have to deal decisively with this potential hazard. A shepherd realizes that a flock may be made to lie down only if they are free from fear, friction in the flock, pests and insects, and hunger.
John Ritenbaugh warns that the pride of Jacob (or his offspring) coupled with the incredible ability to make tremendous technological advances, blinds Israel to its devastating moral deficit. Amos begins with a description or cataloging of the sins of Israel's enemies, followed by a harsh indictment of its own sins and a roar of wrath (or justice), followed by the encirclement by its enemies and its ultimate fall. Thankfully, after punishing His people, God will redeem them and faithfully fulfill His covenant with them. God, in His sovereignty, will do what He must to bring Abraham's seed to repentance and salvation, including allowing crisis, hardship, humiliation, and calamity. As the Israel of God, we dare not complacently take our special covenant-relationship for granted, realizing that His plumbline (a combination of grace and law) will measure us, testing our spirituality while showing absolutely no favoritism or partiality. We need to see ourselves from God's perspective.
John Ritenbaugh warns us that the book of Amos is specifically addressed to us- the end time church (the Israel of God) - the ones who have actually made the new covenant with God. Having made the covenant, we must remember that (1) privilege brings peril- the closer one draws to God, the closer will be the scrutiny, (2) we can't rest on past history or laurels, and (3) we (the ones who have consciously made the covenant with God) must take this message personally. Absolutely fair in His judgment, God judges Gentile and Israelite according to the level of moral understanding He has given them. No human being can escape the obligation to be human, as God has intended — treating other fellow human beings humanely (not as things or objects of profit). Edom's perpetual nursing of anger (harboring bitterness and hatred continually) against Israel is especially abhorrent to Almighty God- a candidate for the unpardonable sin.
John Ritenbaugh characterizes the spiritual condition of the recipients of the Hebrews epistle as dangerously complacent, drifting into apostasy through neglect rather than from any blatant sin or perversion. Losing their zeal and first love after the manner of the Ephesians, having a complacent disregard for Christ's sacrifice, they were in danger of permanently searing their consciences and losing their vital access to God. The entire eleventh chapter provides examples to bolster their faith and rekindle their first love. The kind of faith described in this chapter is not blind and clueless, but is carefully developed as a result of systematic analysis of available evidence. Abraham, Sarah, and Moses were all motivated to endure by calculating or adding up all the evidence. Likewise God desires and has deliberately planned that we build our faith by the same kind of calculation, analysis, or adding up the evidence.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that Jesus was placed on trial not for what He did, but for what He claimed about Himself. John has provided at least eight separate forms of witness, establishing the veracity of Jesus Christ's identity as God in the flesh. Fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament (over 300 separate prophecies) concerning Christ's identity and the events of His life is overwhelming, compelling, and mathematically irrefutable (The chance of fulfilling only eight of those prophecies would be 1 in 10 to the 17th power or 100 quadrillion). John makes a compelling proposal for belief and faith. The last part of the first chapter of John focuses upon the work of John the Baptist, a physical cousin of Jesus, the forerunner of Christ, who witnessed the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ at His baptism, again establishing Christ's identity as the Lamb of God.
Why is the world's best selling book held in awe by some, in passive discredit by others, and understood by virtually none? Why do the many churches of traditional Christianity disagree about what the Bible says? Have you ever PROVED whether, as the book itself purports, it is the authoritative Word of the Creator God?
Can the existence of God be scientifically proved? Can we know whether God can possess MIND power? Is it rational to believe in God?
The BIBLE—Superstition or AUTHORITY? Did you ever stop to PROVE whether the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God?
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