John Ritenbaugh, focusing on the 16th word in the American Pledge of Allegiance, "Republic" asserts that the United States is thankfully not a democracy (that is, popular or "mob" rule) but instead a representative republic in which citizens elect representatives to establish public policy. The Founders deliberately chose this system of governance, realizing that democratic procedures invariably led to confusion and chaos. The Founders established a "non-political" Supreme Court to act as a safeguard against rash, unconstitutional policies. While the Founders conceived of the Justices as conservative-minded Constitutionalists who deeply respected established jurisprudence, a number of important Justices in the Twentieth Century have turned to Count into a body whose mission is to determine public policy regarding prayers in public schools, abortion rights, definitions of marriage, and the such. These humanist Justices moved the United Stated from a God-fearing to a secular nation. In the crucial Supreme Court hearings currently taking place, the pendulum could swing back to a more conservative position for the first time since the New Deal.
Martin Collins, focusing on Paul's third trial before a secular ruler, following the inconclusive decisions before Felix and Festus, points out that King Agrippa was of a more decisive character. He sought to implement Paul's appeal to Caesar without delay. Speaking to the King, the Apostle stated his pre-conversion experience as a Pharisee, his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, and his post conversion commitment to execute his God-ordained commission. In the process, he refuted the false charges of violating the laws of the Torah, committing heresy and blasphemy, and committing treason against Caesar, the same charges previously levelled against Jesus Christ. Agrippa, an erudite individual with a keen understanding of Jewish customs, listened intently as Paul refuted all the false charges. In the end, he claimed to be "almost persuaded' by Paul's testimony and acknowledged that Paul was innocent. He would have acquitted him if he had not appealed to Caesar. In reality, what appeared to be a series of disappointing judicial set-backs for Paul was actually the outworking of God's strategy to place the Apostle before even higher levels of secular leadership. As God's called-out ones, we must learn to follow in the footsteps of Paul, being willing to trust God when the here-and-now in our experience appears problematic, knowing that God is sovereign over all.
Richard Ritenbaugh, analyzing the news about the open position on the Supreme Court, suggests that the upcoming appointment could possibly tilt the court in favor of conservatives for the first time in decades. Senator Orrin Hatch's hint that Amy Coney Barrett, a staunch Roman Catholic and a Professor at Notre Dame Law School, may be the President's nominee, leaves abortion activists and gay marriage advocates running scared. As the far-left attempted to editorially lynch Clarence Thomas, they will also relentlessly skewer Barrett, who is no feminist. Even if she should be seated on the Court, three caveats suggest that the tilt back to morality may be blunted: First, the 1973 Supreme Court which upheld Roe vs. Wade had a moderate to conservative tilt. Second, politics rather than the Constitution has been playing an increasingly larger role in the decisions rendered by judges. And third, the justices may find themselves squeamish to take an abortion case, caving in as John Roberts did on compulsory insurance.
Richard Ritenbaugh, citing God's command in Deuteronomy 16:18 for the Israelites to appoint judges in their gates, analyzes the prospects of Trump appointees to be seated on the United States Supreme Court. From the left to right political spectrum Judge Gorsuch is slightly left of Clarence Thomas, but to the right of everyone else, including his old mentor Anthony Kennedy, for whom he clerked many years. Many have evaluated the nominee's views as originalist, comparable to the late Justice Scalia, who did not believe that justices were free to interpret law according to their own whims or to accommodate so-called "changing times." Consequently, Judge Gorsuch sided with the decision that Hobby Lobby was not liable to pay for contraception, and has ruled against euthanasia and abortion, claiming that life is valuable. If confirmed, he would serve as a counterweight to activist judges who push same-sex 'marriage' and other 'progressive' aberrations. His resume is sterling, and he has a good rapport with the public (except for a number of unhinged lawmakers.) Because of his impeccable record, his nomination is likely to go smoothly, but the approval process for future potential appointees may not go so smoothly because they will be replacing liberal 'activist' judges. The prospect of originalist Judges who eschew using the court to make social policy terrifies ' Progressive' lawmakers.
John Ritenbaugh, acknowledging that sometimes the pace of the Feast of Tabernacles can be wearying, reminds us that God has commanded His people to rejoice and to develop a beneficial fear and respect for Him. Enjoying the feast to the hilt physically does not necessarily mean we had a good feast. If we do nothing to make a fine feast for someone else, we probably will not have a good feast. God commanded the Israelites to offer more sacrifices at the Feast of Tabernacles than at all the other Holy Days combined. We attain spiritual regeneration by participation. After the Babylonian captivity, people felt more inclined to serve than before, having cultivated a new appreciation for what they had lost—namely, God's precious law. Just because we are keeping God's festivals does not necessarily mean we are in sync with God's Law or His purpose for our lives. God commissioned Amos to write a powerful, stirring message to the ten northern tribes, warning them to prepare to meet their God and to change the attitudes which were polluting God's feasts. Israel, in the time of Amos, had drifted into the same moral cesspool as the modern Israelitish nations have today, laden down with corruption and bloodshed, just as America's Supreme Court has made sodomy and murder the law of the land. Amos warned against exalting symbolism over substance, clinging to Bethel as a religious shrine, while neglecting the fact that Bethel was the location where God renamed Jacob to Israel. God wants each of us individually to go through the same transformation as our father Jacob—from conniving schemer to a totally converted and submissive servant.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that political correctness is a kind of programmed conditioning, undertaken by leftist 'liberal' 'progressives' to convince people to override their common sense and the evidence of their five senses, coercing gullible people to ardently believe that a blue barn is flaming red while a flaming red barn is sky blue, or that evil is good and good is evil. 'Progressives' would have us believe that gender is a matter of choice, made possible by cutting appendages off and augmenting others by chemicals. 'Progressives' would have us believe that gun-free zones prevent violence. 'Progressives' would have us believe that the economy is robust and healthy when the national debt has never been higher and hopelessly out of control. 'Progressives' would have us believe that Black Lives Matter (an organization funded by hateful white billionaire and former Nazi-collaborator George Soros) seeks to protect black lives, when in reality it delights in massive black abortions, condones 500 black-on-black homicides in Chicago annually, but hysterically foments rage when any policeman wounds or shoots a black man under any circumstances. The proponents of Black Lives Matter want to brainwash the community to accept the fiction of police brutality, while enabling unscrupulous politicians to gain control of the inner cities as their domain. 'Progressives' may hypocritically denounce terrorists with black masks and scimitars, but graciously condone terrorists with white masks and scalpels who have murdered millions of innocent babies in the name of 'Women's rights.'
John Ritenbaugh, citing Zach Carter's article in the Huffington Post, in which James Comey explained why the rich and powerful, like Hillary Clinton, are not prosecuted for felonies which would place the average citizen behind bars, concludes that for many years, our nation's lawmakers have drafted two sets of laws—one for the wealthy and influential and another set for the poor and lower social rank, especially the black community. Possessing crack cocaine in the hood or ghetto will bring an offender a lengthy prison sentence, while a suburbanite white snorter, using powdered cocaine, having greater legal resources (such as, expensive career trial layers) gets off with a slap on the wrist. This disparity of legal protection has been practiced for more than a century; if you are famous enough or wealthy enough, you walk free; the general goes free; the private goes to jail. Hillary Clinton was clearly guilty of criminal intent, but was not prosecuted because the rich and powerful protect one another. When whistle blowers have identified instances of felonious behavior among high ranking governmental figures, the Obama administration has harassed and threatened them. America's legal system, showing partiality to the wealthy, famous, and powerful, has already been condemned by God's standards, and will be accountable for the evil it has brought upon our people.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the recent decision to not bring felony charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by the Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Head of the FBI, James Comey, in spite of overwhelming evidence, illustrates the gross miscarriage of justice at the highest levels of government in the land. The ire of the courts instead is directed against photographers and bakers who refuse to soil their consciences by accommodating disgusting sexual perversions such as homosexual weddings. As the leaders of Israel in Micah's time despised justice, distorting all that is right, judging under the influence of bribes, the leaders of modern Israel have also perverted justice, giving a pass to the guilty and condemning the righteous. God's Law condemns all forms of partiality, whether tilted toward poor, wealthy, or famous. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey specifically points to one Federal law, Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. One would think that this law would apply to both the rich and the poor, but in sin-sick America, this apparently is not the case. Sadly, our leaders do not realize that their brazen crimes have driven God's hedge of protection away from our land.
The Bible oftentimes speaks in polar opposites: good and evil, light and darkness, heaven and earth. A pair of opposites like these, called a merism by theologians, is destruction and restoration. Citing many prophecies, Charles Whitaker points out that restoration often follows swiftly on the heels of God's wrath, providing us with hope that God's blessing will come sooner rather than later.
John Ritenbaugh, comparing human behavior in the wake of natural disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, to unnatural disasters, such as bombs and military attacks, suggests that in the latter devastations people become dispirited, listless, as though they had lost their reason for living. Sadly, what has happened to our socio-cultural milieu in the past 70 years has been a systematic undermining of morality, and a bizarre redefinition by leftist, progressive social engineers as to what constitutes normal and as to what constitutes abnormal. In this nation five unelected judges, three of them bitter feminist women, have, at least in their woefully deficient, reprobate minds, nullified or abrogated God's Edenic Covenant with mankind, which established marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Earlier these reprobate justices rejected God's prohibition on murder, allowing abortion of millions of unborn children These amoral, secular, 'progressive' humanists have made themselves total arbiters of morality, pushing a hopelessly twisted form of pragmatism, thinking they have no accountability beyond this current life. We cannot expect the current compromised, corrupted aggregate of pandering elected politicians to be in sync with God. What the secular, 'progressive' humanists have not factored into their equation is that God is still alive, and that there are consequences for what they and we have done. God Almighty, not the United States Supreme Court, will have the final say in this matter.
Kim Myers, reflecting on Amos’s prophecy to ancient Israel in Amos 5:11, castigating the leaders for their shabby treatment to the poor and destitute in society, draws a parallel to America’s leaders today, allowing or creating situations in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, leading to record numbers of our citizenry succumbing to homelessness, poverty, and drug addiction. Like ancient Israel, modern Israel (including America) takes advantage of the poor, using the illegal immigration tidal wave for profit and political power. When a nation loses its morals, people feel free to take advantage of one another, especially the poor. God hates governments which take advantage of the poor, a segment of the population people find easy to take advantage of because they are trusting, helpless, and dependent. In God’s Church, we also have poor, meek, and handicapped individuals. We are mandated to love the brethren, treating them as we would a blood relative. All of us could improve our sensitivity to people’s needs, especially when we have the financial means at the Feast of Tabernacles, sharing our time, treasure, and compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. We do not have to be wealthy to be hospitable, but we should not be stingy or cheap when we have the means to serve one another. We have a mandate from Almighty God to let brotherly love continue through our hospitality and generosity.
John Ritenbaugh, asserting that the term leadership never explicitly appears in the King James Version of the Bible,while the terms follow and follower are abundantly distributed, concludes that any form of leadership must be preceded by following. God tells us what we are to follow in the Covenants, legal entities, unfortunately, that neither the ministry nor the membership have exhibited much interest in studying. Because of lack of covenant knowledge, Israel (both ancient and modern) have been perennially cursed with a massive breakdown of leadership. The whole body from head to feet is sick, covered with putrefying sores; we are a people laden with iniquity. God places the blame for the lack of leadership on the shepherds: the ministry, the President, Congress, Supreme Court Justices, heads of Corporations, heads of educational institutions, mayors, city council members, and perhaps the most important shepherd of all, the parent. Our first parents Adam and Eve totally botched their child-rearing responsibilities, but our father Abraham provided us a better example of how to lead our families, pointing them to the laws of God. Our citizenry has rejected God's laws and have wallowed in a mire of incessant lies. Consequently, the world is hopelessly lost morally and spiritually. God's called-out ones must separate themselves from this despicable anti-God mindset. We need to qualify to lead by internalizing the contents of the covenants, not only believing God, but doing what He says, realizing that the covenants are not as complicated or complex as Satan has lead his 'ministers' to believe. God's word—the Bible, and especially the book of Deuteronomy—provides the keys to true leadership. The world's 'Christianity' has largely rejected Deuteronomy, especially the binding commandment to keep God's Sabbath forever. For those yet uncalled, God is truly not in their minds; we cannot afford to emulate them.
Richard Ritenbaugh, acknowledging that it is tough to be a Christian, especially during a time when the United States Supreme Court, staffed by a majority of justices who have been given over to a reprobate mind, have deemed murder) the law of the land, caving into radical Feminist and Homosexual lobbies, while removing God from the equation. In so doing, the Court has attempted a de facto annulment of the Fifth Commandment in the name of women's rights by authorizing the death, through abortion, of some 58 million babies—to date. This death toll is higher than that of all the 20th Century holocaust, pogroms and gulags combined. Furthermore, the Court has perpetrated a frontal assault on God's sacred institution of marriage by sanctioning "same-sex marriage," in effecting putting its stamp of approval on (homosexual) sodomy, thereby attempting to abrogate the Seventh Commandment. When the Supreme Court so totally perverts justice, pushing a toxic liberal progressive agenda, it demonstrates the hopelessly debased state of this nation's ethics. What compounds the gravity of the matter is that these justices should have known better. Psalm 75 reveals that God both promotes and removes individuals from positions of power and He has the final say as to how power will be administrated. If an aggregate of 'justices' continue their collision course with the will of God, these evil men and women will bring a curse on our nation. As God's called-out ones, let us show gratitude to Almighty God for our calling, and for our understanding of His purpose for us (especially, since this knowledge seems to be out of grasp for 7 billion others). God promises to have our right hand; He has given us an iron-clad promise never to leave us as along as we remain true to His Covenant. God is the only one who decides the fates of mankind and He will ultimately bring true justice to the entirety of mankind.
Richard Ritenbaugh, focusing on the concept of justice, asserts that real justice with fairness and equity (at least in the human sphere) is becoming rare. Divine justice, on the other hand, because Christ died for our sins, leans toward kindness and mercy. The Founding Fathers of the United States used biblical principles in the judicial system of the colonies, deriving 34% of their quotations and allusions from the Bible for their documents. The Puritans studied the scriptures assiduously, believing that if their principles would be incorporated into our laws, government would function smoothly and effectively. Sadly, those principles which were once implemented into our laws are being corrosively eroded and destroyed, as is manifest by the Supreme Court's endorsement of Roe vs. Wade, ushering in legalized murder on a massive scale. God created the universe, giving laws that would sustain life and promote happiness. All authority for law and justice resides in God; when God is taken out of the picture, darkness and chaos dominate. God clearly delineates good from bad and right from wrong. What He commands is good. The things which God forbids are bad for us. If God says something, it should never be thrown aside. Laws have penalties when they are transgressed. God, not a hanging judge, prefers that a sinner repents and gives them time to change and repent. God's laws, designed to create a better life and more perfect life and character, are not an end in themselves, but should become integrally a part of us. When sin becomes woven into our character, life becomes complicated; sin or crime has domino consequences, rippling through many generations. We never commit sin in a vacuum, but inevitably involve our family and ultimately bring curses to the rest of the entire human family. Sin destroys life. Execution of judgment is relegated to constituted authority, not presumptuous vigilantes or those who become involved in blood-feuds. The law should be executed with equity, with no partiality, favoritism, or
John Ritenbaugh, illustrating the tragic state of pastor's withdrawing from their responsibility of preaching God's unadulterated word, plays a recording of a spoof from an Australian comedy show, mocking the politically correct pastors who may water down the Ten Commandments to "the Ten Negotiating Principles," or perhaps "Ten Helpful Suggestions." When pastors have abandoned their responsibility to uphold God's Law, government has historically stepped in to fill the gap, basing their decisions on humanistic preferences rather than biblically-based morality. The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, although crafted by men of nominal Christian persuasions (some of them having roots in the Separatist and Puritan experience of desiring religious liberty and even a kind of theocracy) and Deists (believing in God by inferring it from design and order in nature), did not establish the Constitution as a covenant with Almighty God, but did build into it common sense checks and balances so that if a moral populace lived by it, our people should be governed with the least amount of friction. Sadly, the populace has drifted from an ethical and moral climate into a relativistic, secular humanist point of view. Morality now consists of toleration for mass infanticide (termed abortion) and homosexual sodomy (called gay rights), enforced by a government voted in by people with a narcissistic, agnostic, or atheistic humanistic mindset (virulent secular humanism) which has totally displaced Christianity (real or nominal) as the dominant religion of our land, marginalizing anyone who insists on basic human ethics, let alone God's 'pesky' (because it is intolerant of sin) commandments.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, in which the seasoned demon Screwtape instructs the novice demon Wormwood on the best practices to corrupt mankind, advocating a gradual piecemeal corruption (like a frog boiling to death as the water incrementally rises from simmering to boiling), suggests that the leadership of the current government, beginning with the President and his handlers, is enacting Executive orders to box in the citizenry, preparing to restrict the movements of all enemies of the State. On July 1, 2014, President Obama, evidently savvy about the impending collapse of the dollar, placed a hold on the money retirees have earned over a lifetime by calling Social Security payments a "benefit" or "government gratuity" instead of recognizing it as money that has been hard-earned. Government has also thumbed its nose at Almighty God, forbidding churches and organizations which 'receive financial help' from the government to discriminate against homosexuals and other individuals who manifest lifestyles condemned in the Scriptures. An extremely ignorant, partisan, corrupt Federal judge in Kentucky deceitfully asserted that "long held beliefs" do not trump the Constitution (a document which is ironically silent about 'homosexual rights' or any other perversion.)
John Ritenbaugh observes that, even though Western (Israelitish) governments are comparatively less tyrannical than their Gentile counterparts, they too have their ways of establishing influence over the populace. Gentile governments have historically exterminated more human beings than have disease or natural causes combined. Sadly, the American government is moving toward a Gentile-type tyranny at the helm of a President who does not share Western values. Aside from the mystery and confusion of his birth origin, President Obama spent a large portion of his formative life outside of the United States, absorbing Muslim and collectivist values and loyalties. He has never been a product of the ghetto (even though he has appealed to that segment of American society); he has been a product of an upper middle class family with loyalties to Marxist socialism, intending to 'transform' this country into a collectivist state with decidedly Gentile ways of dealing with its clientele, including destroying the opposition by vilification, criminalization, and ultimate extermination. The current far left Democrat Party plan of 'exporting' millions of children from South America into the United States is to create a population of dependents beholden to the 'benevolent' ruling party. The leaders of this same party, having adopted the political correctness poison from the secular progressives, establishing homosexual unions, radical feminism, and a tolerance for mass murder of infants (abortion), now are playing the Republican Party like a violin. For the past half century, the progressives have had almost complete control of public education, softening the culture for the acceptance of socialism and collectivism though political correct Orwellian doublespeak. The handwriting is on the wall, forecasting dangerous times ahead for Christians.
John Ritenbaugh, continuing his commentary entitled "A Government to Fear," reiterates that the secular-progressives have had great success demanding that the civil courts rebuke people acting on matters of conscience, while at the same time they are destroying school prayer, removing replicas of the Ten Commandments from public institutions, enforcing abortion (murder), feminism, homosexuality, and lesbianism with a defiant, cavalier, in-your-face haughtiness, claiming that the doctrines of the Bible are out of date. The 'religious' communities of America are so hopelessly biblically ignorant that they have learned to tolerate wickedness and immorality, accepting it as a norm, putting a stamp of approval of an Executive and Congress which lie as a way of life." Today, our courts have tilted away from the concept of equal justice before the law to a tyrannical jurisprudence which endorses and enforces wickedness and immorality.
The content of Ecclesiastes 4 is a series of comparisons based in the everyday life of a society—from the gulf between the powerful and those they oppress to the various attitudes that people bring to their daily work. John Ritenbaugh explains that Solomon provides these comparisons to indicate the choices we should make to live better lives in alignment with God, even in an "under the sun" world.
John Ritenbaugh, stating that Ecclesiastes 3 expresses awesome possibilities for the future, also points out that Ecclesiastes 4 reminds us that there are harsh realities for those living under the sun, making compromise with the world inviting. Many of God's servants, including Elijah and Jeremiah, had their crises of faith, desiring to flee from their responsibilities and commitments. Living in this world can be discouraging and downright difficult because of the presence of evil, but God urges us to contentment, reminding those called out that He has gifted us to withstand the many tests of our faith. Solomon witnessed the hopeless corruption of the legal system of his time. Freedom only works when its constituents behave morally, but will self-destruct as its constituents behave immorally. Solomon observed that undesirable extremes exist in the work ethic continuum, including excessive competition, greed, laziness, sloth, miserliness, and selfishness. The balanced work ethic combines industriousness with contentment, as well as a willingness to share work and the fruits of work with others. Solomon warns that fame, power, and political success are fleeting and fickle, and the demise is quickened by pride. Each political victory carries the seed of its own destruction, producing a harvest of discontent and resentment. We live our entire lives in a world under the sun, forcing us to trust God in an attitude of faith and contentment for the variety of experiences which shape and develop our emerging Godly character.
How can we evaluate whether our Feast is 'good' or not? Using God's criticism of Israel's feasts in Amos 5, John Ritenbaugh shows that the pilgrimage locations of Bethel, Beersheba, and Gilgal provide instruction about what God wants us to learn from His feasts.
For being such a religious book, the Bible contains an unusual number of references to harlotry! John Ritenbaugh uses this information to provide understanding of the motivations of Babylon the Great, the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18.
And [God] called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; and the LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it. ...
David C. Grabbe: Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States of America removed the ban on homosexual sex. ...
With the birth of the International Criminal Court (ICC), America is caught in a dilemma. The U.S. desires a global economy but shies away from global government in all its forms. Charles Whitaker illustrates why America should continue to shun the ICC and anything like it.
In this keynote address of the 2000 Feast of Tabernacles, John Ritenbaugh, drawing on descriptions in Amos 2, suggests that those entrusted with leadership (power within the community, power within the nations) are taking advantage of their positions, metaphorically raping those who have no power. Most notably, an American president, who for the sake of his own personal ambition, hoping to remove the stains of his personal sins from the consciousness of people worldwide, attempted to broker an obscene Middle Eastern oil deal, artificially cutting the supply in order to make prices rise, thereby inflicting economic hardship on the backs of the powerless, making them serfs or slaves to the federal government (I Samuel 8:17) The Feast of Tabernacles depicts a time when all this kind of self-indulgent chicanery will come to a permanent halt.
John Ritenbaugh warns that it is possible to have an enjoyable feast, but not keep the feast properly, failing to derive any spiritual profit. God expects the Feast of Tabernacles to be the spiritual high of the year. Paradoxically, if we go to the Feast with the goal of physically enjoying, we may lose out on both the spiritual and physical benefits. The attitude and purpose for keeping the Feast should focus upon the spiritual: serving, growing, overcoming, transforming, and producing spiritual fruit. The lesson of Amos 5 indicates that going through the motions, perhaps superstitiously acknowledging the historical ambience of the event, but in a smug, carnal, self-indulgent mode - without including the spiritual component - makes the entire event an abomination.
A great many Americans feel that they do not have to submit to the government. John Reid brings the Bible's viewpoint into this discusssion.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing upon a generally pessimistic treatise, read in the annual cyclical Jewish tradition, during the Feast of Tabernacles, illustrates the disillusionment that love for this world will inevitably bring (I John 2:17). Realizing that the world is passing away, our priorities should be on fearing God and keeping his commandments. The temporary booths (short lived and quickly deteriorating) at the Feast depicts our temporary and impermanent, often unpleasant and disappointing (Hebrews 2:10) earthly pilgrimage or sojourn, contrasted with the permanence of Christ's rule and our future eternal life. (Romans 8:17-18). Without living for God's purpose for us, this life is absolutely meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Hebrews 1:10-12)
John Ritenbaugh focuses upon a singular disaster to befall modern Israel, involving captivity-largely as a result of its shameless toleration of rising violent crime. God ordained capital punishment, but because of the flawed legal system, with the exceptions for insanity, youth, and police mistakes, the deterrent value has been rendered ineffective in modern Israel. The prison system, actually producing academies for learning crime, is pitifully inferior to God's system of justice. Nevertheless, resisting civil governmental authority (a buffer against chaos) is tantamount to resisting God's authority. People who reinforce in themselves the habit of rebellion (resisting God's as well as man's authority) will be mercifully terminated in a lake of fire. Jesus, by emphasizing the spirit of the law, places deterrents on the motive- preventing the actual murderous deed from ever taking place. Brooding anger, bitterness, resentment, revenge, and scorn constitute the activating motives for actual murder. We need to develop the maturity and faith to allow God to take vengeance rather than presumptuously taking this prerogative upon ourselves. Christ teaches that we also need to learn to (with the help of God's Holy Spirit) proactively promote peace by attending to the physical needs of our 'enemies,' responding as Christ would respond.
John Ritenbaugh focuses upon the topic of exercising ones legal rights, examining scriptures pertaining to the subject, including taking a brother to court, submitting to civil government, paying taxes, responding to lawsuits, and dealing with corrupt court systems and unfair settlements. As Paul (through the brave intervention of his young nephew) is miraculously rescued (by half a cohort of Roman soldiers commanded by Lysias) from the mob in Jerusalem (who had taken a rash vow to murder Paul) and taken to Caesarea (where he was tried for sedition before Felix), he uses every trial as an opportunity to bear witness to Christ, preaching the Gospel. As Paul successfully confutes the spurious sedition charges, he introduces Felix to the particular (exculpatory) tenets of The Way.Felix (fearing a possible insurrection of the Jews) puts Paul in protective custody. After a private conversation, Paul unwittingly pricks the conscience of Felix, keeping himself incarcerated until the appointment of the next governor, Festus, to whom he would appeal (as a right of a Roman citizen) to Caesar.
John Ritenbaugh points out that Amos severely chides Israel for exalting symbolism over substance, superstitiously trusting in locations where significant historical events occurred: Bethel- the location of Jacob's pillar stone and Jacob's conversion; Gilgal- the location where the manna ceased and the Israelites partook of the produce of the land; and Beersheeba —the location from where Jacob journeyed to become reunited with his family. Consequently, Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheeba became associated with hope, possession, and fellowship. Amos seems to suggest, "it's not where you are, but what you are — or what you become." Instead of superstitiously regarding these locations like the shrines of Lourdes or Fatima, God's called out ones need to make permanent internal transformations in their lives. Likewise, going to a particular site for the Feast of Tabernacles is worthless if our lives are not permanently transformed by a close relationship with God, motivating us to keep His laws, and reflect His characteristics.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that when a person contemplates revenge, he makes an enemy of God. Amos, like a circling hawk, makes dire pronouncements on all of Israel's enemies but reserves the harshest judgment for Israel, who should have known better, having made the covenant with Almighty God, but profaning their calling and drifting into moral complacency. God's church, the Israel of God, must realize that closeness to God comes with a weighty responsibility. God's justice is the same for everybody; He is no respecter of persons. The church is warned not to mix His truth and pagan (or worldly) error in the manner of Jeroboam I. We desperately need to cultivate (with the help of God's Holy Spirit) an ardent love of the truth. Modern Israel, prosperous and indulgent, is chastised for covetousness, indifference to the poor, and perversion of justice.
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