David C. Grabbe: The gospel accounts show that God gave John the Baptist the responsibility to "prepare the way of the LORD, make His paths straight" (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4). When he preached the good news of God's Kingdom ...
God often works through disasters, natural and manmade, letting His people know His displeasure with their sins. John Ritenbaugh argues that the terrorist attacks of September 11 are a divine warning, especially to His church, to return speedily to a right relationship with Him.
David C. Grabbe: Is it possible for this nation to have full measures of both individual freedom and national security? Judging by the heat-speaking missives aimed at the government by the mainstream and alternative media in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, such a scenario is an obscure dream. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: This morning marked the eighth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center buildings in New York City by Islamic fundamentalists. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: The United States of America suffered a savage blow yesterday, September 11, 2001, by an as-yet unknown terrorist group. ...
In this special address following September 11, 2001, John Ritenbaugh warns that America, like ancient Israel described in Amos 4-5, has drifted so far from God's way that they do not have a clue as to what to repent of. Tuesday morning, the leadership of America (both political and spiritual) essentially absolved itself from any culpability, refusing to acknowledge that our national collective sins were at least a contributory cause for this horrible occurrence. This tragic disaster, hideous as it was, provides a wake up call to the nation, but more importantly to God's church (Joel 2:17) to provide a witness.
The September 11 bombings were certainly tragic and terrible. Some have since asked, "Was God involved? Is He to blame?" John Ritenbaugh soberly answers some of these tough questions, concluding that God certainly allowed them to occur for our ultimate and eternal benefit.
John Ritenbaugh, while concurring that New Orleans is unquestionably one of the most dysfunctional venues in North America, with the murder rate 10% above the national average, the home of numerous perverted sex, immorality and perverted lifestyles, we must exercise caution at jumping to conclusions, making the inference that the suffering of people involved in the wake of the storm was a judgment from God. For one thing, the French Quarter (and Bourbon Street) was relatively unscathed. Even though generally speaking, disobedience automatically brings punishment while obedience brings blessing, the entirety of physical Israel has enough guilt from sin to pass around. We need to be sobered by these disasters, realizing our culpability for this wrath of God (Dies Ire). The devastations (Katrina and Rita) are displays of His wrath. If God really wanted to get rid of New Orleans, it would have looked like Sodom and Gomorrah. God actually exercised incredible restraint and mercy considering the magnitude of our national sins. These natural disasters should lead us all to reflect and repent.
Richard Ritenbaugh observes that incidents of terrorism are on the rise, occurring two to three times a day, many of which are not reported by the Mainstream media. These gruesome incidents, perpetrated within the Israelitish nations by foreign immigrants with a Satanic, insane, Jihadist agenda, are exponentially on the increase. Many have blamed the spike in terrorism on religious fervor or tolerant left-wing politics, but the most compelling explanation of all is that God is allowing these acts of terrorism as punishment for our peoples' forsaking the Covenant with Him and despising His holy law. Part of the curses listed in Leviticus and Deuteronomy identifies terrorism and harassment from the strangers in Israel's midst. If our minds are continually seeking God and trusting His providence, He will provide protection, allowing us to dwell in the secret place of the Most High.
David C. Grabbe: ...By this accounting, it has been a pretty good year. For the time being, we can relax. We have "peace and safety." Right? It all depends on who or what is our biggest threat. ...
David C. Grabbe: Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States of America removed the ban on homosexual sex. ...
What is in store for the nations of Israel? Is their future promising or bleak—or both? This article concludes a three-part series on the people of Israel.
John Ritenbaugh, lamenting that the course that America is taking has destroyed her virtue, claims that breaking the first commandment is the worst sin because its violation is the epitome of self-centeredness, putting the self before God, the most blatant form of idolatry. The secular humanists, infiltrating education, entertainment, and government, boldly placing their reprobate minds above God's holy law, have undermined the virtue and sullied the purity of America. In 1972 and 2003, the satanically inspired Supreme Court of the United States respectively "legitimatized" murder (of innocent unborn babies) in the name of 'women's rights' and sodomy (calling same-sex marriage a right in the Constitution) as the law of the land. The seven things God absolutely hates, recorded in Proverbs 6:16-19, have been boldly practiced by secular, humanist, 'progressive' leftist media, educators, entertainment, politicians, and judges for the last 50 years. This nation is a mere shell of its former greatness, and has been begging for God's wrath. Our Heavenly Father will not keep His patience forever.
Martin Collins, reflecting on the devastating locust plagues described in Joel, marvels that the prophet, instead of promising a silver lining on a very black cloud, affirmed that things were going to get intensely worse before they got better. Nevertheless, Joel, whose name means Yahve is God, in the middle of his prophecy, promised a marvelous blessing which would satisfy His people. This prophesied blessing, which became Peter's first words of his Pentecost sermon on Pentecost in 31 AD, was that God would pour out His Spirit, prompting young men to prophesy and old men to dream before the awesome Day of the Lord. Only a type of Joel's prophecy was fulfilled in 31AD and much more is yet to be fulfilled. Joel described a gruesome locust infestation that totally ruined the economy of the nation, placing the citizenry in a state of hopeless, panicked despair. Because Judah had taken God's blessings for granted, He removed His hand of protection, something we see happening in our morally bankrupt culture today. God, in His sovereignty, is guiding His creation to its ultimate purpose, including the devastating plagues and afflictions, designed to motivate repentance and obedience. God represents both mercy and justice. When sin becomes a dominant condition of God's people, God's judgment is not far away, either in the form of political oppression or natural disaster. For a repentant people, there will be restored fellowship and tranquility. The 1915 AD locust plague in Palestine had all the biblical proportions, including the sky darkened with adult locusts, eating everything in their paths. The locust plague Joel described is only a foretaste, symbolic of a more devastating judgment to befall the earth in the future Day of the Lord. Both disaster and grace are tools God uses to motivate repentance, and the wise will act accordingly, turning to God in sincere, contrite, humble, heartfelt repentance, rending their hearts rather than their garments, leading to total conversion and change of mind.
Most Bible students are not familiar with the prophet Hananiah—or perhaps he should be called a false prophet. In his interactions with Jeremiah, a true prophet of God, Hananiah made a significant mistake: prophesying good when God had called for destruction. David Grabbe explains that, while God's will is to do good—eventually—the timing of matters makes all the difference.
At some point in the near future, the modern descendants of Israel will learn of their true identity—and have to face the consequences of that knowledge. Using the prophecies of the Second Exodus, David Grabbe reveals that God will do what is necessary to bring Israel to the spiritual condition and the physical location that He has purposed for her.
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.
John Ritenbaugh maintains that the best matrix for salvation (or to come out of Babylon) is to diligently seek God, a connection lost in the Garden of Eden. Christians must rigorously practice their faith, having their senses trained, growing from immaturity to maturity. Sanctifying implies growing into perfection. We cannot seek God by standing still, but must continually pray, study, meditate, and fast, growing daily in grace and knowledge. Our biggest danger at this time is to be lured into spiritual drunkenness by the pagan Babylonian system. Our God is not what we say we worship but whom we serve. We dare not be at ease in Zion, settling on our lees- tolerant of sin and blind to our spiritual state- practical atheism or prudent agnosticism. God teaches us that the uncleanness from this world can be transferred from one person to another, but holiness cannot be transferred from one person to another.
John Ritenbaugh explores the second chapter of Lamentations, preceding the first chapter in time sequence, describes the stunning and disorienting shock of seeing the total systematic devastation and utter destruction of something formerly considered indestructible, and realizing that God was responsible for the devastation. The prophets and the religious leaders bear the greatest blame for this destruction by providing a quasi-religion (with smooth and feel-good teachings condoning sin) and not teaching the Law of God.
John Reid asserts that if we understand that the "heart" represents what we are, who we are, and how we conduct our lives, then the condition of our spiritual heart should be of the utmost importance to us. The condition of our heart (our inner and core being) reflects the condition of our conversion. Overcoming (a change or conversion of heart) and spiritual growth is an individual rather than a collective matter. We can't hide the subtle intents or motives of our heart from Almighty God. We need to prepare our hearts, our minds, our very core beings, everything we do unto the Lord, aggressively putting away the pernicious attitudes and behaviors that are against the character God wants us to develop. Studying God's Word with effort and energy, diligently applying these words to our lives, will help us to properly prepare our hearts, developing character and becoming faithful stewards of God.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates Christ's superior qualifications as High Priest. After the change from the Aaronic to the Melchizedek priesthood, it was also necessary to bring about a major change in the Covenant. The flaw in the Old Covenant was not in the law, but stemmed from the fleshly, deceitful, carnal hearts of mankind. All zealous rededications to the Old Covenant (such as that of Josiah) ultimately failed. In order to fulfill the New Covenant, God has had to perform a heart transplant operation, replacing the deceitful stony heart with a pure undefiled heart (a heart predisposed to keep God's law in both the letter and spirit by means of His Holy Spirit), enabling us to incrementally know God and to absorb His divine nature), an event prophesied by Jeremiah. The Old Covenant made no provision for the forgiveness sin, nor did it contain any means for man's nature to be transformed into God's divine nature.
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes that the essential core of the human heart is evil, self-centered, responding to Satan's wavelength, placing us into slavery and psychological bondage. Our freedom lies in (1) the conviction of God's Holy Spirit of the reality and hideousness of sin (2) a conviction of righteousness (influencing conduct) and (3) a conviction of judgment and retribution. Real repentance and conviction should dramatically augment prayer, study, meditation, but most importantly application.
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