Martin Collins points out the potential dangers of a recent trend called "social scoring"—the rating of a person's influence by such criteria as the number of social media followers on Twitter and Facebook. The effect will be to create a 'caste system," as media platforms or government bureaucrats implement automated algorithms to determine whether one is 'trustworthy' or not—calculated by how comments, likes, or dislikes conform with politically correct dogma. When the dubious social score is paired with FICO data, a person's ability to take part in normal economic activity (buying and selling) may be jeopardized. Social scoring would hold free speech hostage as illiberal political agendas would punish citizens for "politically incorrect" behavior. Lacking God's moral compass, the world judges harshly and unfairly, posing a grave danger for God's called-out ones and those suspected of harboring old-fashioned moral standards.
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.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on our prayers for God to "bless the electronics," asks whether the marvels of modern electronics are really a God-send or something less than a blessing. Perhaps some of us need to change our thinking about electronic devices as we strive to stay awake while awaiting Christ's return. At this critical juncture, time management has become a "must have," not an option. Because our time is our life, we must be careful to avoid wasting precious time using various electronic devices. Although TV-watching may have modestly decreased, electronic demands on our attention (for example, via cellphones, I-Pads and computers) have more than filled the gap. The amount of time gobbled up by the combined sources of electronic media is mind-boggling, as well as mind-numbing. We need to carefully consider whether the Internet is really a blessing or a potentially life-threatening curse—another pull we are forced to resist.
Martin Collins, reflecting on some of the dazzling recent accomplishments of technology, cautions us not to swallow the deceptive Satanic evolutionary hypothesis taught in our public schools that mankind is becoming smarter than ever before. While Daniel proclaimed that knowledge would increase in the end times, he did not debunk the stellar accomplishments of ancient civilizations such as the Great Pyramid, a structure whose measurements indicate the circumference of the earth and its axial movements, all done without the aid of computers. Moderns have never replicated the knowledge possessed by the engineers of these great pyramids. Not a primitive folk, but one enjoying superior knowledge, informed by God Himself, constructed this structure, occupying 13 acres, 481 feet high (50 stories tall), containing 2 ½ million blocks of stones, some weighing 7 tons. In many ways, moderns, using technology for destructive purposes, are more ignorant than their ancient counterparts.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the horrendous prospect of surrendering our control to a driverless vehicle, maintains that Americans treasure their freedom of movement despite the "Nanny State's" insincere protestations about safety as it attempts to camouflage seizing power. The number of actual "on-the-road" situations which can occur is so high that no amount of programming can enable the driverless vehicle to be safe, even when it utilizes artificial intelligence, the fastest computers and the highest level of sensor sophistication and redundancy. The highly resilient and flexible human brain—under the control of a responsible person—remains the best facilitator of safe driving. While politicians desire to control everything, Christianity wants to instill self-control. Paradoxically, when we yield to God's sovereignty, He wants to cede control over to us, teaching us to develop self-control as a habit, enabling us to have dominion over the earth , handling it responsibly. On the night of Passover, Jesus taught the disciples to avoid imitating the narcissistic Gentile leaders who love to lord it over other people, demanding their obedience and service. Our Savior's leadership style emulated the servant, esteeming all others over self. Agape love dispenses with the way of control and selfish ambition. God's way consists of self-discipline and rigorous self-mastery, as exemplified by Jesus Christ, who never relaxed His self-control—even in the prospect of His impending crucifixion. Those who aspire to follow Jesus Christ must emulate His example of rigorous restraint.
Martin Collins observes that the Globalist war on cash is underway with the ultimate objective of taking away freedom and privacy for all. Though Globalists claim that the target of these measures are drug dealers and black market arms merchants, their true target is control of the world's wealth, 'legitimatizing' their right to steal the wealth of all the unsuspecting citizenry through electronic manipulation, maliciously controlling or 'regulating' what people can buy or sell. Consequently, the Globalist "banksters" can track all our purchases, can freeze our accounts for any reason, can levy confiscatory fees or taxes, can impose negative interest rates on our savings, and can confiscate all currency and re-issue less valuable electronic currency, driving up inflation, and destroy our privacy, eerily similar to the Mark of the Beast of Revelation 13.
Bill Onisick reminds us that God never intended work to be a curse, but instead an exhilarating experience unleashing creativity. This inventiveness has led to the creation of the wheel and axle, compass, combustion engines, electricity, computerized technology, the internet, etc., placing us once again on the verge of erecting a new tower of Babel, with an exponential ability to commit sin on a greater scale than ever. No matter how advanced our technology becomes, mankind's genius is vastly inferior to God's capabilities. Mankind, from the time of Adam and Eve to the present, has always tried to prove itself better than God. The current focus of technology, fusing human brains with computerized intelligence, threatens to put applied science on a collision course with God's plan for mankind. Technocrats have plans to make work obsolete and perhaps render mankind irrelevant and obsolete through artificial intelligence, making it difficult to distinguish the created from the synthetic. Interestingly, the Beast of Daniel is composed entirely of metal—perhaps an emblem of mankind's idolatry with manufactured things. When humans start to worship the things they make instead of the Creator who gave them the ability to craft these things, they place their faith in destructible, perishable things. As God's called-out ones, we cannot love a decaying, perishable world; our confidence needs to be in the indestructible, imperishable Creator, who can give us abundant Eternal life.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on some final exams given to 8th graders during the early 20th Century in Salina, Kansas, appearing frequently on the Internet, marvels at the dearth of practical thinking and reasoning skills demonstrated by the clients of today's 'progressive' educational system. Pupils a hundred years ago often demonstrated more skill at cause-effect relationships, geographical knowledge, historical details, phonetics, and meteorological concepts. 'Progressive' liberals, citing the 'reliable' Snopes.com, complain that these questions were too fact- and date-oriented, as well as too U.S.-centric. Liberals ignore the fact that 'progressive' education has failed to teach basic skills and knowledge and principles of sound reasoning. 'Progressive education' does away with cursive handwriting, home economics, memorizing times tables, phonics, spelling, drills and time tests. History and social studies have been yanked leftward, smearing the accomplishments of the Founding fathers, branding them as racist. 'Progressives' have dumbed down civics, government, and economics, again aligning them hopelessly leftward, away from the concepts of checks and balances, the rationale for the Electoral College, the basic economic principles. Instead, students are taught "techniques" they can use to score high on standardized tests. What is missing in 'progressive' education are practical life skills which would safeguard individuals from being led around by the nose.
John Ritenbaugh begins by reiterating the six principle points of the universal Edenic Covenant: (1) establishing God as Creator, (2) presenting awesome gifts (such as our planet earth and our lives, (3) presenting us with our task of taking care of the earth, (4) establishing the marriage relationships through our original parents, (5) establishing the definition of sin and warning of its ultimate results, and (6) sanctifying the seventh day as the Sabbath for special instruction from God. He then delves into the horrendous consequences of sin, through the literal and figurative application of the term "nakedness," implying loss of innocence as well as the condition of shame and guilt. All figurative references to uncovering nakedness connect to idolatrous adultery or impurity of sins and transgression, including that of Adam and Eve, who fell from a state of intimate contact with God to profound estrangement between themselves, their Creator and virtually all of creation. The mark of sin, impossible to conceal, acquired by Adam and Eve, is a mark also borne by all their progeny, generating guilt and fear part of our mental repertoire, making us fearful of being exposed for what we really are. It is impossible to escape God's scrutiny. All of the sufferings of the present time had their origin in the Garden of Eden when our parents, greatly gifted by God in that they had a personal relationship with the Creator, sinned, seemingly in secret. But, their sin did not take place in a vacuum, no more than our sins do. They radiate out as ripples on water or spores of yeast in the leavening process. All Eve did was to take a bite of food, but the world has never been the same since that event. No one gets away with sin; the consequences reverberate endlessly. All of us will eventually be compelled to give an account of our behavior to our Creator. We will be able to blame only ourselves for our sins. We will not be able to blame our genetic make-up or our environment or Satan for our mistakes.
Bill Onisick describes the development of a robot having self-awareness, able to recombine knowledge, and generalize, providing an artificial intelligence which could make the human being obsolete. Some have concluded that artificial intelligence could be a greater threat to human existence than the atomic bomb or germ warfare. Human beings have never stopped falling for Satan's con of convincing them they could be like God, beginning with Adam and Eve and the abortive Tower of Babel. The system of Babylon is still hell-bent on ousting God, 'replacing' Him with human ingenuity, overpowering the scattering of languages with translating machines, replacing all forms of work, deemed a curse by liberal-progressives. Human workers can be replaced by general purpose robots for less than an annual salary of a human. China is working to replace every type of human career with a robot. Greed has replaced human labor with machine labor. One could speculate that much of the havoc wreaked upon humans in Revelation 9 and Matthew 24 may be carried out by autonomous weapons. Even the Beast could represent artificial intelligence which loathes humanity.
David Grabbe, suggesting that the Spirit of Babylon actually predates the Babylonian civilization, and was actually the spirit the Serpent foisted upon Mother Eve, convincing her to assert her will over her Creator. The Spirit of Babylon is couched in brazen outlook of the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, the femme fatale who dared to assert her free will, building and destroying, crushing the influence of Eden, destroying the 'hated' Patriarchal system, turning males into females and females into males, as depicted in Inanna's devoted disciples, Madonna and Lady Gaga. The spirit of Inanna/ Ishtar/ the Queen of Heaven is very old, and has permeated the world's culture from the dawn of civilization. Our forebears, because they flirted with the spirit of Babylon, found themselves literally in captivity by the Babylonian system. We as God's called-out ones cannot afford to be mesmerized by this Babylonian desire for self-aggrandizement in defiance of God's sovereignty.
Joseph Baity, commenting upon Google's nefarious desire to rank websites according to 'truthfulness,' points out that Google, along with any other search engine, government influenced or not, is hopelessly influenced by the Babylonian system, and is consequently out-of- sync with real truth. God alone possesses truth and we must seek this truth as we would seek precious gems. Pride, the kind that undid Satan, could be described as disagreement with the truth. If we have pride, we will not be privy to God's truth, but will be clouded in self-deceptive haze. In order to hear God, we must acknowledge that without Him we can do nothing, realizing that Jesus Christ is the Way and the Truth. Without God's Holy Spirit, our carnality is perpetually at war with the truth. As we face the new Tower of Babel, via the Internet and managed news sources, we must listen carefully and critically, to ensure that we do not heed a lie, and, acting on it, compromise God's truth.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on Mike Adam's blog post "I miss America," warning that 34 precious freedoms have disappeared over the past 40 years which will never come back, marvels that this frightening erosion of freedom has taken place seemingly within a nanosecond. Though we are living in the terrifying climax of a technological revolution, Satan has been meticulously and carefully preparing for a war against Almighty God for millennia, stepping up the pace as technology (from the time of Gutenberg until now) has developed exponentially, taking our breath away. Human life is short, but Satan's life is a great deal longer, and he can prepare new generations of human beings to carry out his deceptive, mendacious plans, bold and ambitious, (attempting to educate people on a worldwide basis, instilling into them his lies and misinformation). We can be thankful that God has placed limitations on Satan's ability to destroy mankind.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the cumulative effects of Satan's long-term miseducation project, affirms that humanism is a powerful, fully functioning religion, responsible for the 'normalization' of abortion and other perversions, and a white-hot hostility to God and His sovereignty. Advances in technology, such as the Gutenberg press in 1439 to the internet in 1969, have been mixed blessings and curses, used for both good and evil. Gutenberg's press, instrumental in augmenting the impact of the Protestant Reformation, made the mass, ubiquitous distribution of the Bible possible throughout the entire world. The 17th century could be said to be the fountainhead of exponential communication progress, turning the oppressive ecclesiastical and the stultifying feudal world upside down, leading to the immigration of the Israelitish peoples to the western hemisphere, often in an effort to safeguard a base for religious liberty. At the same time, Satan, aware of his limited time to destroy, has been using the same advances in technology, advancing his agenda to neutralize religious liberty, replacing it with a so-called progressive, humanistic agenda attempting to destroy God's sovereignty and marginalize or destroy God's called-out ones.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the massive deceptions blinding our citizenry from the true dangers of the economic and cultural wars which threaten our quality of life, questions whether advanced technology is an acceptable tradeoff for eroded morality. Our technology has made possible annihilation of millions rather than thousands of people, having built faithfully on the foundation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Satan, now, has the power to wipe out entire nations. Our patriarch Abraham was much better off than the distinguished citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah who lived in comparative luxury. The belief that technology has made us better is really a facade, masking the reality that intangible factors of love and hope have hopelessly deteriorated. Thankfully, although Satan has been allowed limited power over mankind, God's purpose for mankind will prevail. God will allow Satan to wreak havoc, using him as a tool to bring the oblivious, naïve, Western world to repentance. Even though we are in God's hands, we cannot live carelessly, but always must be mindful of Satan's deception.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: We live in the Information Age. News hits us from the four corners of the earth, making the journey in mere minutes. Images flash before us on the screens of televisions, computers, and phones. The Internet hums and thrums ...
Martin Collins, focusing upon various interpretations of who or what constitutes antichrists, examines several characteristics of this group of beings, including fostering deception and confusion, preventing fellowship, and creating intense spiritual conflict. Realizing that our real enemies are not human beings at all, but demonic principalities emanating from the spirit of darkness, we are mandated to put on the whole armor of God, embracing the truth. The mystery of evil and lawlessness has been extant from the beginning of the early church, recognized by Paul and John. Some teachers in the early church actually attained leadership and influence in the teaching of noxious false doctrine. Ultimately, the being or order emerging as the antichrist will be motivated directly by Satan. Historically, antichrist teachers have proclaimed that Jesus was only a man, or that He had a phantom body and never really experienced death. The syncretistic new religion of Chrislam is actually a prime example of antichrist doctrine. The false prophet and the great political leader in Revelation 13 and 17 will both be worshipped by people duped by Satan to believe a strong delusion. We need to be on guard for antichrist influences attempting to penetrate the greater church of God. We are admonished to test the spirits, realizing that heretical tares have been permitted to test our faith. The spirit of the antichrist is alive and well today, attempting to sabotage our spiritual welfare and steal our spiritual crown.
Our age is more technologically advanced than any that man has previously known. ...
John Ritenbaugh, focusing upon the statement of Almighty God in Psalm 50 that He needs absolutely nothing from us, proclaims God's absolute sovereignty and power over everything. Surprisingly, mankind refuses to acknowledge God in their daily dealings. Unfortunately, mankind will marshal their 'brilliance' and 'intelligence' in technology to nearly wipe life off the face of the earth. Young people (and all of us) must make a choice in favor of God's will for us. We have the freedom of choice to set our destiny, and must bear the consequences of our choice. The book of Deuteronomy is perhaps the most important guide to Godly choices. God has urged that we choose life (keeping God's commandments), requiring an act of the will as we are confronted with alternatives. Only those who choose to live life as God lives will live eternally. Life consists of a constant stream of choices, leading to the development (or destruction) of character. Young people must choose: (1) the right set of standards to live by, finishing high school, refraining from premarital sex, and staying faithful to our lifelong partners once we become married. (2) To work to develop a continuous relationship with God- the source of eternal life. (3) To develop a strong relationship with their parents, submitting in respectful humility. (4) Their friends wisely. (5) Carefully choose the occupation they will go into, making proactive preparations, choosing according to our talents, and (6)Have the right relationship with the opposite sex.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon the technological and linguistic changes that have occurred in the short span of one century, marvels at the drastic decrease of our attention span and the corresponding degradation of language. The dramatic shift in orientation from words to pictures has weakened thought and the transmission of ideas, "dumbing down" our culture toward drabness, unaesthetic plainness, and imprecision. Because virtually everything we know about God comes through words, this denigration of language (the vehicle transmitting spiritual truths, metaphorical bread or food) could prove highly detrimental to our spiritual welfare. Spiritually, relying exclusively on images leads to shallowness of thought at best and idolatry at its worst. The Word of God, however, provides depth and nourishment leading to salvation and eternal life. Through God's Spirit, we need to learn how to process the Word of God effectively and efficiently.
The Parable of the Great Supper is Jesus' response to a fellow dinner guest exclaiming, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" In the parable, Jesus exposes and corrects the ignorance of those who, in their pride, misjudge their true moral condition.
John Ritenbaugh explores the negative symbolism of wine (as representing intoxication and addiction) in Revelation17 and 18. The entire Babylonian system (highly appealing to carnal human nature) has an enslaving addicting, and inebriating quality, producing a pernicious unfaithfulness and Laodicean temperament. As in Solomon's time, each dramatic increase in technology and knowledge does not bring a corresponding improvement in inherently corrupt human nature or morality. In evaluating the influence or teaching skills of Babylon, we must evaluate (1) the character and conduct of the teacher (2) whether the teaching is true, and (3) the kind of fruit it produces. Poisonous weeds cannot produce good fruit. Babylon's (the Great Whore's) anti-God, anti-revelation, man-devised cultural and educational system(the cosmos) is poisoning the entire world. What was crooked from the very beginning cannot be made straight. In order to attain eternal life, we must consciously reject the Babylonian system and consciously conform to God's will.
John Ritenbaugh, taking both a backward and a forward look at the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles, poses the question, "What is so bad about Babylon?" The Babylonian system (code name for the world's political, religious, economic, and cultural systems) poses a menacing danger to God's people, but God wants us to work out His plan within the Babylonian system- obligating us to struggle against its ever-pervasive sensual pulls, a system that had its dim beginnings with the dictatorial, violent, and enslaving rule of Nimrod—the first celebrity rebel of note—a hunter, enslaver, and destroyer of men. The significance of the tower of Babel reflects Satan's overweening pride and hubris (a triumph of human reasoning) to displace God. What man does through his clever inventiveness and creativity will not outlast God's eternal works. If men do not become aligned with God's thoughts, their grandiose plans will not succeed. Coming out of Babylon will undoubtedly require suffering, pain, and self denial, but the sacrifice will pay immense spiritual dividends.
David C. Grabbe: If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? (Amos 3:6) ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: We like to think of ourselves living in the most advanced civilization that has ever graced this fair planet. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Let me say up front that I am not a phone person. ...
Charles Whitaker begins a series of articles on globalism. What is it? Where is it headed? Does it have a balancing counterpart? Who is driving it? What does it have to do with the prophecies of the end time?
Though experts proclaimed the twentieth century the Century of the Child in 1899, from a biblical perspective our social advancements have made life worse for our children. Martin Collins shows how the Bible predicted this of the end-time generations. (Also includes the inset "America's Lost Children.")
Science has ventured into the field of genetics, an area traditionally considered part of God's exclusive domain as Creator. What does God think about this intrusion? Will man create life? How will God react?
Human civilization has experienced two major sociological ages since the beginning of its appearance on the earth. Currently we are in transition to the third age or Third Wave, which has frightening prophetic consequences. However, it's the Fourth Wave, God's soon-coming Kingdom, we need to catch!
John Ritenbaugh explores the various uses of the term "world," ultimately focusing on the negative connotation describing the cultures of this world since Adam and Eve, directly under the influence of the prince and power of the air (Ephesians 2:2, 6:12). The entire world and its cultures are in disobedience to God because of Satan's influence. The world is in deadly antagonism against God, against the way of God, and the people of God because the spirit generated by the unseen prince of this world. It is essential that we stay awake and keep our guard up.
Have you ever considered what it will be like right after Christ returns? What will you do, as a king, to help and govern the people placed under you? Believe it or not, you are already developing those skills!
The Feast of Tabernacles is a type of the soon-coming Millennium, when Christ will set up His government on the earth. Real peace and prosperity will be the norm. And everyone will have access to the knowledge of God!
John Ritenbaugh poses the question of whether technology really improves our character or quality of life. Are we really better people because we ride around in cars rather than walk? Technology, because of the spin it puts on expectations, can be a great source of discouragement and disillusionment when applying this heightened sense of expectation to God's seemingly slow and deliberate performance. Technology makes us susceptible to the 'quick fix' mentality, expecting dramatic miraculous solutions to all problems, making us susceptible to frauds and even deceptive demonic influence (Matthew 24:24; II Thessalonians 2:9-10; Revelation 13:13). When it comes to developing character, a quick fix miracle will not substitute for patient overcoming. God only works miracles consistent with His purpose (bearing witness to truth), not for any selfish desires on our part.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon themes covered in previous sermons and sermonettes, including commitment and our ultimate goal of becoming a member of the God family, explores sanctification as both a state and a process - a time period between justification and glorification during which overcoming, purification, and holiness takes place with the help and aid of God's Holy Spirit.
John Ritenbaugh focuses upon the typology suggested by Abraham's concealing from Abimelech his true relationship with Sarah. The incident symbolizes Abraham's temptation to compromise his spiritual principles to acquire worldly knowledge (typified by the uncircumcised Philistines). If we hold fast to principles, though it may seem initially uncomfortable and fearful, we will eventually receive respect and even admiration. If we compromise, we will ultimately receive scorn and rebuke from unprincipled people. We also learn from Abraham how to evaluate circumstances as we pray. Isaac's example teaches the positive fruits of living by faith and obedience to God. Ishmael and his descendants (as described by a "wild ass" metaphor) illustrate that persecution is often an intra-family affair, symbolizing our perennial conflict between flesh and spirit.
John Ritenbaugh ponders the qualifier "righteous" when applied to Lot. Unlike Abraham who separated himself from sinful society, Lot seemed to involve himself in the affairs of the perverted city, arrogating to himself the role of a judge, attempting to change the behavior of the people- but nevertheless, attempting to co-exist with sin. Evidently Lot's close proximity to the evil behavior, while not corrupting him personally, gave him a somewhat confused divided attention, compromising the safety and morality of his family, leading him to prostitute his principles to gain favor of the world. When communicating with God, Lot, unlike Abraham, equivocated with God's instructions, looking for conditions and escape clauses, showing him to be a very self-centered, worldly wise, carnal Christian, attached to or compromised by the values of the corrupt world.
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 warns us that where our eyes are fixed upon (looking to for guidance and direction) determines how we will conduct our lives. Like our forebears in Ezekiel 20, we have also been influenced by our father's idols, placing us (ignorantly perhaps) in opposition to God's laws and judgments. Immorality is the natural cause-effect consequence of rejecting God's counsel, forcing one to embrace evil as good and reject good as evil, totally perverting standards of morality. Rejecting the true God automatically leads to idolatry, worshipping the rulerd of this world, a being bent on our destruction. Idolatry constitutes the fountainhead from which all other sins flow, all of which amplify obsessive self-centeredness and self-indulgence. We need to educate our conscience to worship (cultivate a relationship with) the true God rather than misconceptions manufactured by our misguided imaginations.
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 observes that ancient Israel had at the core of its religion (as well as its dominant cultural norm) an obsession to serve or please the self at the expense of justice and truth and the best interests of the socially disadvantaged. Because of Israel's excessive self-seeking and self-serving pride, God threatens to remove His protection, allowing its people to go into captivity. Pride (the catalyst for Laodiceanism) causes people to reject God and to follow idolatrous ways. Israel's leaders should 1) never be content with the way things are, 2) never let care and concern for self take priority over the welfare of others, 3) covet peace with God, but only on His terms, 4) choose things that are more excellent, and 5) embrace morality.
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