Martin Collins, informing us that during the horrendous Bubonic Plague pandemic in 1348 which destroyed 1/3 of Europe's population, the only segment of the population which remained unscathed were the Jews, who observed God's Quarantine Laws in Leviticus 6 and Leviticus 13. These laws, while specifically applying to Leprosy, applied generally to all contagious diseases, including the common cold. The sick person was to stay segregated until he was fully recovered, a determination made by a Levitical Priest, serving as a public health official as much as a religious official. If the gentile population had followed the sanitation and quarantine laws outlined in scripture, the epidemics and pandemics would be non-existent. God's called-out ones must realize that to isolate oneself because a sore, discharge or something potentially communicable does not carry shame or stigma but is an act of outgoing love. The common cold should be regarded the same way one regards influenza or whooping cough. If we find ourselves afflicted with nasal discharges, we shouldn't diagnose our malady as something not serious or "just an allergy," taking a chance on infecting others. Under no circumstances should anyone come to services sick, no matter how minor the ailment may seem. Remembering that quarantine is an outgoing act of love, we should follow God's Health Laws without question
Martin Collins, observing that the greatest epidemic of the 21st Century may be the use of drugs, focuses not on the plague of illicit drugs but on the danger posed by prescription drugs, offered to a gullible public by a pharmaceutical industry more interested in profits than in individuals' health and well-being. Investigative reporter John Rappoport, citing a study conducted by the late Dr. Barbara Starfield, notes the deaths caused by prescription drugs now exceed those caused by automobile accidents and have, over the years, come to exceed casualty-of-war statistics. In addition, pharmaceutical companies push vaccines which have never been properly tested onto a fearful public. The Center for Disease Control admits that the average drug may contain up to 70 side effects, with some having more than 500 negative reactions. The Bible does not condemn physicians, but it pulls no punches on worthless physicians who misdiagnose (Job 13:1-5). The mortality rates stemming from the misuse and abuse of prescription drug certainly indicate that mis-informed physicians are still with us. God's called-out ones must exercise discernment when considering health care alternatives which heal rather than poison. God has given us the herb for food and healing (Genesis 1:29 and Revelation 22:2).
Apart from the coverage of the U.S. presidential election, the Zika virus was this summer's major news story, casting a pall over the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Richard Ritenbaugh covers the history and substance of the Zika virus, concluding that the sensational headlines obscured the fact that the relative handful of infections did not make it a threat.
The devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 have not garnered as much concern as the subsequent crisis involving the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. David Grabbe ponders, not just the effects of this catastrophe on Japan's economy, but also how Tokyo will react on the world stage as a result.
It seems counter-intuitive to think that the world's population is shrinking, but trend lines show the possibility of a 95% reduction in population over the next 500 years. Charles Whitaker examines the reasons for this precipitous decline, asserting that God's Word prophesies an altogether different scenario.
The last of the Four Horsemen, named Death, rides a ghastly pale horse and is accompanied by Hades. In this concluding installment, Richard Ritenbaugh explains these symbols, reiterating that the horsemen picture God's judgment due to man's rejection of His way of life.
David C. Grabbe: If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? (Amos 3:6) ...
John Ritenbaugh points out 700 references to the act of eating, all providing contexts or vehicles of serious spiritual instruction. Banquets invariably provide springboards for instruction, from Abraham's entertaining of angels, to Joseph's banquet for his brothers, to Esther's banquet for Haman to Belshazzar's feast featuring the handwriting on the wall to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Banquets- eating or refraining from eating- not only display God's faithful provisions and human righteousness, but eating (or refraining from eating) displays tests of a person's morality such as Adam and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit, the sign of keeping the covenant (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) and Christ's refusal to be tempted by food (Matthew 4). Eating reminds us that God's provision and human need also apply on a spiritual level.
John Ritenbaugh draws parallels between earthy (or physical) and spiritual things. The cleanliness laws in Leviticus, prescribing washing, cleansing, and quarantine procedures, apply to the spiritual dimension as well. God will not tolerate uncleanness, either spiritually or physically. Spiritual sin and filth (physical or spiritual) is the primary contributory cause in devastating diseases such as AIDS or E. Coli contamination. We, as priests-in-training, have the sobering responsibility of keeping our bodies, our quarters, our thoughts, and behaviors clean and pure. Like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we need to flee uncleanness wherever the source.
For the past 40 years sexual sins have topped the list of social issues in America. Divorce is at an all-time high. John Ritenbaugh examines the seventh commandment, the penalties paid for breaking it and how to become faithful to God in the keeping of it.
Jesus Christ's prophecies of rampant disease are being echoed by experts predicting worldwide epidemics. In spite of man's advanced health care systems, epidemics are on the rise, and the world as a whole is not prepared. God, however, promises protection to those who are faithful to Him.
AIDS and all its ramifications on society impacts the church too. John Ritenbaugh discusses what he has learned about this dreaded disease, as well as showing us how Christ's sacrifice applies in this situation.
Prior to the study of Lamentations, John Ritenbaugh, focusing on the subject of alleged out-of-body experiences, provides scriptural corroboration of their impossibility. In the opening chapter of Lamentations, Jerusalem, personified as a widow who has had to endure watching the destruction of her family, must also endure the mocking, derisive scorn from the captors. Although the United States, like Jerusalem of old (indicted for committing spiritual harlotry), has piously presented itself as the guardian of righteousness, it has, through its perverted media, exported more sin around the world than any other culture. Its humiliation and sudden fall will ultimately be apparent to even the basest pagan and most degenerate heathen. Trusting in adulterous political alliances or technology instead of God will bring devastating humiliation.
John Ritenbaugh observes that the people to whom Amos addresses have the mistaken assumption that because they have made the covenant with God that they complacently bask in a kind of divine favoritism—God's country, God's people, God's church. God's holy and spiritual law, describing and defining His standard of holiness, His character, nature, or essence, serves as the template into which our character needs to be formed or molded. The combination of the redeeming and the law-giving aspects of God's nature determines the plumb line against which all of us are judged. Jacob's descendents, embracing false religion (after the idolatrous, syncretistic manner of Jeroboam I) have severely placed a strain upon God's patience. As members of the Israel of God, we must assiduously measure up to God's plumb line, insisting upon positive moral purity in all our thoughts and behaviors, avoiding sin by doing good—a course that will put us totally out of sync with the rest of society—a society ripe in sin and immorality, begging for harsh correction.
John Ritenbaugh, expanding on God's swearing by His Holiness, adds that when God looks upon people who call themselves by His name, He expects to see certain family characteristics- exemplified by holiness, purity, and morality. Amos indicated that God could not identify these characteristics in people appropriating His name. God's called out ones are obligated to avoid defilement from any source whatsoever, taking special care not to mix God's truth with worldly tradition and rank paganism, forming a syncretistic religion. Amos, using the unflattering image of cows of Bashan, censures the women of Israel (normally the safeguard for the family morality) for abandoning morality, living exclusively for pleasure, materialism, and self-centeredness (often at the expense of the poor and needy), while practicing devoutly a form of syncretistic religion. God, through His prophets, warns that God (with a motive of love) will chasten His people with increasing severity until they repent and begin to reflect His characteristics.
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