Finally I was able to get there.


My place of employment always hires extra help in the Spring; this year was no different, but for once we got some help in my department. I have a tendency to not want the new people to go through the same exclusionary practices that I experienced, so I say hi to them or at least treat them like they are part of the team (Yes, that means I torment them just as I would do anyone else.)

One day as I was passing through the lunch room I see one of the new guys reading his bible. I stopped momentarily to ask what he was reading. I understand the sarcastic response is “a bible” but without explaining my question, which I suppose I should have, the question was more specifically meant to be, “what are you studying and what are you getting out of it?” I remember that he was reading out of the gospel of Luke. I did not know at that time that he was coming to my department.

Why is any of this important?

For one, I have learned that there about six people who work there that claim to be “Christians”. That word has come to mean little or nothing because of its vagueness, and the oddity that many in this nation of mine seem to believe that merely living here makes you a Christian. That kind of belief tells me that you know nothing about having a relationship with Jesus Christ and that you are a follower of him. Look up the word follower and you will find it also means to pursue; one who pursues goes after or walks behind Christ with him as the leader. Now how many of those, so-called Christians, are followers? Of those six only one cares anything about talking about Jesus or their relationship with the Father. I find that to be very discouraging and do not waste my time talking with Pharisees.

This is why I was elated to have this new guy join us. On the first day he joined us we found reason to talk about our savior Jesus Christ. I even told him that I had prayed that God would send me someone who I could communicate with. I think we both agreed that God hand his hand in him being there.

He invited me to his church to join in their Wednesday evening bible study. When I finally was able to get there he was not, but that is okay.

Pastor Marcus, who my friend tells me is very skillful with the Greek and Hebrew, was starting brand new in the book of Daniel. While I am not an expert in Daniel, I am skillful and consider myself well versed in the end times. Daniel, along with several other old testament prophets, plays an integral role in defining the events of these last days.

I must tell you that while I enjoyed it, we flew through the book. Pastor tends to expect his audience to have done their preliminary reading; I had. When he got to the part where Daniel explains to Nebuchadnezzar about the iron legs pastor ran right along tradition and declared that this was the Roman empire.

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever read the book of Daniel? If so, and you were paying attention, then you know that the Roman empire was not mentioned or defined as being the iron legs, in any way. If you are going to emphasize how important it is to read and understand the context then the person leading the group should either be honest and say they do not know, or not give false information merely because it is tradition.

Later, I wrote this pastor a short letter. I introduced myself and how I came to the bible study. Then I told him how much I enjoyed it and that I would be back, and I have been. I also told him how I ran across Glen Beck, then on national television, explaining by comparison on a white board how Jesus of Nazareth and Mahdi of Islam paralleled each other. This information was new, poignant and alive to me, and the author of the book from which Glen Beck had obtained this information was sitting right there and spoke about it all with clarity. I obtained two of his books, and from that point on my understanding began to grow. I told the pastor that it was like the lifting of a fog bank from my mind and suddenly the Revelation and end times events all began to make sense. Joel Richardson, the author of the Mideast Beast, defined the iron legs as the Islamic Caliphate, and gave solid reasons to defend that position.

Pastor Marcus wrote me back, and this I was not excoriated for my “opinion or lack of understanding” but was thanked for informing him about this author, as he had never heard of him before. Pastor Marcus, in person, informed me that he did some research on Joel Richardson and became convinced that he needed to read these books of his.

I cannot begin to tell you how that made me feel. No one, for several years now, has given me much credence. Oh I notice how with every post I get a new follower, and yes that does say that the Father is giving me credence with some, but sadly I do not know any of you. And honestly, how many, who enthusiastically started following me still do?

The second week of my attending Pastor Marcus’ bible study.

I already had a heads up that this week we were covering Hosea, Joel and Amos in one night. That is like watching a bullet train go by and then having someone ask you to verbally paint a picture of the happenings that you saw in the twelfth window of the third car. Really, I did not notice any windows and it seemed as though it was one long car.

The short recap:

Hosea

Hosea and his relationship with his wife (Gomer) is representative of Israel, not just in turning it’s back on God, but in running after everything that is not God, just to satisfy the flesh. Isn’t that what adultery, or cheating is? Hosea is ordered to take a wife from the prostitutes, those who help to satisfy the burning desires of the flesh to do what it wants. Hosea has children with her but has to go and buy her back on several occasions. His children have names that are hugely significant. The first is named Jezreel; the name of the valley where God will judge the nations in the last days. The last two have the prefix Lo added to their names and it means NOT! Not loved and No longer having compassion on Israel. The book speaks of the judgment against Israel for turning their backs on God, and yet ends by changing their names back and telling of how he will show mercy on them again.

That went by quickly

Joel

I anxiously awaited Pastor’s comments on Joel. If you have read it then you know it is another one of the prophets speaking about judgment upon Israel. Joel chapter two opens with:

Joel 2:1-3 NASB Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, (2) A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations. (3) A fire consumes before them And behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them But a desolate wilderness behind them, And nothing at all escapes them.

To be honest, Joel took on a whole new meaning to me when I finally really saw what Peter did on the day of Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the promised comforter that would empower them, they (possibly 120 “disciples”) were doing something they had never done before, speaking in heavenly languages (tongues) and the people on the street heard this, and heard it in their own tongue. Does what I just said mean that the disciples were speaking in French and Swahili? Perhaps, or not. Does it matter? They were obedient and receptive, and the Holy Spirit fell over them as Jesus said it would.

Peter declared, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” and he went to quote a part the verse, out of context, to the religious crowd.

Joel 2:28-29 NASB “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. (29) “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Of all the things pastor could have talked about he focused on this. He told the guys sitting in the room that they were not to pull scripture out of context and use it to prophesy as Peter did. I suspect that the men there needed to hear some strong wisdom about jumping ahead of the cart. Pastor also talked about the judgment that is predominant in this book also.

Amos -

We barely made it Amos and he reiterated that we were to have done our reading and should have an understanding of what Amos speaks of; again, judgment.

When the meeting was over the pastor came over to talk with me. He thanked me for the recommendation on the author Joel Richardson and noted how I had tried to speak to him the previous week. I took the opportunity to say how much I love the prophesy of Joel 2:28-29, and told him that I put a little different spin on it when I talk about it. I told him that though it is a prophecy embedded in the end times, that Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, kicked the door open by saying, “this is that!” The Holy Spirit moved that prophesy into the present. Now the question is really, What are you doing with it and if not, why not?

As usual I am compelled to say, that what I am talking about will be relatively meaningless unless you have a faith and hope in Jesus Christ. That would mean that you are a follower of Jesus Christ and in active pursuit of him. Should you need to do that, ask Jesus Christ to come into your life and give you a life with the Father. Turn from your sins, as a believer you have a new clean heart, and the garbage of the world is no longer you, and it no longer owns you. To say repent of your old ways has a couple of connotations.

  1. You need to be honest, today is great day to start. Tell God that you have made a mess of your life and need him to come into your life and run it. Give it over to him, you were screwing it up anyway.

  2. 2. He will begin to heal the wounds that have brought you to where you are now, but again, being honest and turning those things over to him will move that along quicker. My own personal experience was one of trying to fix things myself (it is the nature of man to do things on his own, regardless of how inexperienced and ineffectual we are at fixing ourselves.) God had to use someone else to reopen an old wound from my youth in order for me to see it and allow God to heal it. I honestly had no idea how to gain relief from the pain that wound caused me, and I had no idea that I had made agreement with it.

  3. Break your agreements you have made with the enemy. As followers of Christ, one that studies the scripture, I know that I have an enemy and that he is trying to steal (everything from me) destroy me, and kill me in any way possible. I am hoping that this gives you some insight to understand that death and damage come in many ways and forms. I am not asking you to stay in relationships that are not safe, but to understand that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are designed by Satan himself; he merely uses people as tools to meet his end (and that is to take you out or out-of-the-way.)

  4. If you have given Jesus Christ control of your life then you have a good heart. Jesus even describes you as a good tree and it is not the pattern of a good tree to produce bad fruit. I can give you a number of reasons to explain the biblical concept of a good heart, such as the Apostle Paul’s statement that you are now flesh of his flesh and he is perfect.

  5. As a follower of Christ you have a hope! A hope in what? That he will come and retrieve those that are his. He rose from the dead just to prove his point. He got collected back to the Father and he used that as an example of how adamant the Father is about upholding his word. He has spent the last two thousand plus years establishing that he is believable. He will come and gather us up; we call that the rapture.

about eating food sacrificed to idols


Only days ago I read where a large number of food producers in America were now sending products to the market, manufactured under Halal-certified standards. Standards that are mandated under Sharia law.
If Islam were to exist in this country like every other religious or unusual practice, and those who chose to follow Islam’s way did so because they wanted to, then go right ahead, but that is not what is happening. This nation, founded on principles of freedom is rapidly losing that freedom through overhwelming governmental and religious terrorism.
An example:
Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: October 8, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document.
The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one of the most significant decisions made by President Obama — to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/world/middleeast/secret-us-memo-made-legal-case-to-kill-a-citizen.html

Another example may well be the introduction of permissible foods into every market place. Are we there yet? No, but Costco has added Halal-certified foods into the mainstream, right next to a “regular” chicken. My father saw this piece of news, and with feathers ruffled pointed it out to me. I informed him that this is nothing terribly new. See below; taken from Islam, an informational page in Wikipedia

The leading North American halal food producer and distributor in the United States is the Midamar Corporation. Midamar is the first company in the USA to slaughter halal beef in USDA inspected plants.{Midamar Milestones} This company has been in operation since 1974, and it is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the home of the oldest mosque in the Americas still standing. The children of Muslims who settled in Iowa around 1900 discerned a need to start producing halal beef and chicken catering to the tastes of American Muslims.
Since 1991, mainstream manufacturers of soups, grains, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, prepared foods, and other products, as well as hotels, restaurants, airlines, hospitals, and other service providers have pursued the halal market. These companies purchase halal-certified products. Halal certification tells Muslims that their ingredients and production methods have been tested and declared permissible by a certification body. It also allows companies to export products to most Middle Eastern countries and South East Asian Countries. The oldest and most well-known halal certifier in the United States is called the “Islamic Services of America”. Something that companies which intend to export halal products must keep in mind, when choosing a certifier, is whether or not the certifier is recognized by foreign governmental bodies.[10]
In 1986, the “Islamic Meat & Poultry Company” was founded in Stockton, California. Islamic Meat & Poultry is a halal-only, U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected, hand-slaughtering and meat-processing facility. This company follows the principles of slaughtering and meat-processing according to the Islamic Shariah.[citation needed]
In 1993, Mr. Ahsan Mohyuddin founded the “Halal Meat & Food Corporation” in Bladenboro, North Carolina.[citation needed]
Also in Europe, several organizations have been created over the past 20 years in order to certify the halal products. A survey recently published by a French association of Muslim Consumers (ASIDCOM) shows that the market of halal products has been developed in a chaotic way. The certification organizations do not have a common definition of “halal” nor agreed upon control procedures and traceability. The controls implemented by individual agencies are all very different: it can go from an annual audit of the slaughterhouse to checking each production with permanent controls in place and on-going independent.[11]

But wait a minute, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, therefore a Christian. Attempting to live my life as peacably as I can, here in the land of the free, so why should this affect me?

For one, maybe it is because we are losing our freedoms. Our government is throwing constitutional freedoms right out the window, and Islam, with its Sharia law, is hell bent on taking over the world. Will they? That is yet to be seen.

Consider how this effects the Christian community, and its scriptural standpoint.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13 NIV (1) Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. (2) Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. (3) But whoever loves God is known by God. (4) So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” (5) For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), (6) yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (7) But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. (8) But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. (9) Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (10) For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? (11) So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. (12) When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. (13) Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Let’s attempt to examine this, one bite (humor) at a time.
Verse 4:
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”
“Food sacrificed to idols”
We understand that Halal (Arabic: حلال‎ ḥalāl, “lawful”) is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law (Sharia, الشريعة الإسلامية). (Wikipedia)

Part of what makes it permissible to the Muslim is the manner in which it is slaughtered.
According to the laws of Ḏabīḥah halal, certain prerequisites must be met before an animal is slaughtered: (Wikipedia)
The act of taking an animal’s life is called a “sacrifice”. A statement of practice from the ENA meat packing company. How Halal meat is prepared. From ENA meat packers.
The animal must not be a forbidden substance as per the Quran.[1]
The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the Qiblah (or Kaaba). Dhabiha: method of slaughter Turning of the head towards the Qiblah
The slaughter itself must be done by a sane (mentally competent) adult Muslim, Jew, or Christian as they are considered “People of the Book” (Arabic: Ahl al-Kitāb‎); this is a point of consensus amongst Muslim scholars. They differed however concerning whether Sabians and Zoroastrians are also included under People of the Book as stated in Surah Al-Maa’idah, Ayat 5. Modern authors have proposed that Christians aren’t included in this dispensation, due to the Paulian doctrine of the Trinity. This proposal does not hold much weight however, as the trinity and ascription of a son is mentioned several times disparagingly in the Quran, yet the verse 4:5 was one of the last to be revealed.
All Muslim scholars hold that mentioning God Almighty (Allah Akbar) name at the time of slaughter is a must, they differed as to whether or not forgetting to do so or leaving it off intentionally at the time of slaughter rendered the sacrifice void and thus the meat forbidden for consumption. They also agree that if other than God’s name is mentioned then this would be forbidden, due to the verse “Eat not of that (meat) on which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced.” [Al-Anaam 6:121]
Thus an animal slaughtered by a Christian who did not mention anything at the time of slaughter would be permissible to some, while other scholars would hold it impermissible. (Wikipedia)
Dhabīḥah (Arabic: ذَبِيْحَة‎ ḏabīḥah IPA: [ðæˈbiːħɐ], or Zabiha) is, in Islamic law, the prescribed method of ritual slaughter. The precise details of the slaughtering method arise from Islamic tradition educated by the prophet Muhammad, rather than direct Quranic mandate. It is used to comply with the conditions stated in the Qur’an:

The Kaaba (Arabic: الكعبة‎ al-Kaʿbah IPA: [ʔælˈkæʕbɐ], English: The Cube)[1] is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam.[2] The Qur’an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham and his son Ishmael, after Ishmael had settled in Arabia.[3] The building has a mosque built around it, the Masjid al-Haram. All Muslims around the world face the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are. One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if they are able to do so. Multiple parts of the Hajj require pilgrims to walk seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction (as viewed from above). This circumambulation, the Tawaf, is also performed by pilgrims during the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).[2] However, the most dramatic times are during the Hajj, when, officially, about 6 million pilgrims gather to circle the building on the same day.[4][5]
In terms of verse 4: “about eating food sacrificed to idols:”
God gave distinct directions about NOT eating foods sacrificed to idols, but that was under the law.

Paul also spoke about it, because, while the Idol does nothing for the recipient of that food, eating it does bring about a consciousness of the act, the symbolism, and their god. God, being a jealous God, is not the least bit interested in sharing you with something associated with another god; we call that Idolatry.

Paul spoke about our liberty, but he also spoke about the hazards of using that liberty as a license. So, if I have the freedom to not worry about where some meat came from and what it was dedicated to, and my lack of concern causes someone who is weaker to fall away from God because they cannot now justify a good reason to serve the living God, just because they saw me eating something questionable, absurd as that seems. I also have the directive to not exercise my liberties in front of you.

So the question then is: If I eat your Halal-certified food, I am then partaking in your worship, your symbolism, and your false god?
I might be, especially if I am aware of it, and I can certainly see how some weaker Christians might stumble over this. Until just a few days before the writing of this I was not even aware of such certifications on food.
Is the method of slaughter a bad thing? No more than any other, except that they declare the name of Allah over it, and specifically point this animal toward the Ka’aba, in image, an idol, and that was forbidden under the law. If I am not under the law, then why would the Ka’aba be a problem to me? Because God did not say “you shall have no other God’s before me” just to practice speaking. To the modern day Christian that could imply the Television if it takes his place. And there is always the possibility of you stumbling, because they seem to honor god for providing and they honor the animal for giving it’s life that they may live.

Verse 4: “There is no God, but one”
In some ways I have already touched upon this. God is a jealous God, and if you read the scriptures then you saw how angry he got at people carving up a stick and worshipping it, as if it brought them life. God berates these things that have no arms to provide for you, and no lips to speak to you, and yet you waste your time falling over yourself before them.
An example of how preposterous idol worship can be comes to mind. Remember when the Philistines captured the ark? No, then read this.
1 Samuel 5:1-5 NIV After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. (2) Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. (3) When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. (4) But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. (5) That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

Verse (5) For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), (6) yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (7) But not everyone possesses this knowledge.

We really want to believe that we live in a sanitary world, where nothing interrupts our peace, and yet we surrounded with a world occupied with its own mindset. Focused upon their own gods they do not care how their goals impact you. Am I being narrowed minded, no more so than God, but God does give us the freedom of choice. We are free to follow after him or not. There are of course repercussions for that bad decision; an endless life of hell with agony.
One of things we have to settle in our minds is the fact that God is real, and that there is a promised return for following him. How can you know this? God has proven himself to be true. He has done what he said, and done it publicly. Jesus, his Son, and God himself, did exactly what he said. The Jews even attested to this when they could argue any better than to say the works that Jesus did were of the devil. Jesus, did things that, even to them, only God could do.
Isn’t it odd that over 500 years after the death of Jesus, Mohammed comes along with his message in opposition to the cross and Christianity.

What we are dealing with is God’s plan for the end, and we need to be focused upon that. What I see people reacting to, with anger, is people and government. How do you justify your actions when our directive is to PRAY. Yes, God gave us brains and mouths, so with them we speak out against a government that chooses to throw away due process for an American citizen.

If we are going to react with such emotion then let’s get people educated, react at the ballot box, and get some people in government that have a backbone and are willing to keep this nation free and out of debt.
Sadly, I think that is impossible now; you prevent a landside before it happens, not during.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone ask, “why doesn’t the bible speak of the United States in end times events?” Maybe it is because we become an Islamic nation, ruled by Sharia law, where Christians are killed, and this country becomes the base of warfare against the Jews.

It was recently in the news that the Ohio prison system, in response to Muslim prisoners, has implemented Halal foods exclusively for them. You should be aware that the prison systems are the biggest recruiters of converts to Islam here in the United States.

Do you not realize that, scripturally speaking, something is holding back the evil in the world from completely dominating, and Islam is only a part of that team, a major part yes, but still a part. That force, spoken of in second in 2Thessalonians, is a handful, so to speak, of praying people, who are passionately standing against demonic forces that are going to have their way for a relatively short time. Do not think that Islam’s short, violent reign will not be the norm, for Jesus himself tells us that no man would survive their reign if God did not shorten time.

There are three separate gods, not one God in three persons.


What some groups teach about Jesus and the Bible’s response

Adapted from Rose Publications, Christianity, Cults & Religions, 7th Edition

My disclaimer upfront: I do not agree with this belief. I am though reaffirming my beliefs and hoping to impact others. Another thing you need to know about me is that I am just a guy that is trying to put intelligent thought down on paper; something that I have never been very good at. So if you are going to criticize, be kind.

One of the decisive responses to a statement like this is: Deuteronomy 6:4. It says, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

As with all scriptures this requires faith. Faith becomes a little easier when like the children of Israel God demonstrates who he is and what he can do for you, on a daily basis. But here we are so many years later, surrounded by a sea of doubt and unbelief.

The children of Israel are dead, there descendents live on, but they have been infiltrated, and integrated into the unbelief of the nations that they were to have conquered. Now comes Isaiah the prophet. God wanted us to understand who he is, and speaks through one of his prophets in an attempt to convey who he is and his plan.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 NIV)

One might miss the significance of this when considering who God is until you look attentively at the word Immanuel; for that word means: God with us.

Now how do I integrate what Isaiah said into an argument against the concept that there are three separate gods. How does God, the almighty, stay where he is, and present himself here on earth as a child. He attempts to establish this by having a virgin give birth, and giving the child a name that signifies that he, the child, was God.

Thoughts about a virgin birth:

  1. Who is going to believe you, especially when you are betrothed?

  2. The women folk have ways of telling if you are telling the truth, as humiliating as that can be, and it is hard to believe that they did not scrutinize this young girl thoroughly.

  3. This is not only impossible in mans eyes, but God also tells anyone who will listen what the sex of the child will be. In today’s modern world Doctors can determine what the sex of the child is before it is ever born. It was not that long ago that the sex of the child was totally random.

Consider that God himself wanted us to know and believe; look at Isaiah 43:10.

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. (Isaiah 43:10 NIV)

God testifies about himself, saying: Before me there was no god formed, nor will there be one after me. How would anyone but a supreme being be able to make such a bold statement?

Matthew 1:18 NIV

(18) This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

If the writer uses the terminology “found to be” then there is the implication that she was examined. That should dispel all doubt, but it did not. By the way, did you notice that the terminology just changed. Whereas Isaiah, by inspiration, had said that God will give a sign, we now have the young girl pregnant through the Holy Spirit. So if you are counting we now have God the Father, having God the Son, through an act of God the Holy Spirit. But as usual this still takes some faith on your part.

Matthew 28:18 NIV

(18) Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Wait a minute. Even in my limited human mind I know that all authority comes exclusively from God, and yet Jesus now says that all authority, in heaven and on earth has been given to him. How can this be without being God himself?

I am well aware that Jesus now sits on the right hand of the Father in heaven. So how do I rectify this situation now, for Jesus seems to be a separate entity. Even as a Son of the creator of the universe he would have had immense power available to him. From what I gather, the mindset of the hearer when this was written was one with no disassociation between the Father and the son. The son carried the weight of the Father and the authority. The Jewish mindset had no separation between the two. To prove this when Jesus argued that he only did the work of the Father, the Jews picked up rocks to stone him because he had, in their minds called himself God.

John 10:30-39 NIV I and the Father are one.” (31) Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, (32) but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” (33) “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (34) Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”‘? (35) If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be set aside– (36) what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son‘? (37) Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. (38) But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (39) Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

To further establish this Jewish mindset let’s look at the letter to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 1:1-14 NIV In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (3) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (4) So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (5) For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? (6) And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (7) In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” (8) But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. (9) You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (10) He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (11) They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. (12) You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (13) To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? (14) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

So lets’ bring this to a close with a passage from one of Peter’s letters to the church. Peter is writing to the church, when he says, “To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (1 Peter 1:1)”. We who have chosen to give him our trust, therefore our lives, are the chosen. There is nothing elitist about that attitude, it is merely an understanding that God made the choices long before the world began. God did not exclude anyone by making this choice, for there are no parameters that define those that cannot be chosen. God, while the world was yet in sin, sent His only Son, to die for us; all of us. Where is the distinction then? People have to choose whom they will serve. I know, you think you serve yourself and no one can tell you how to live, but God has an answer for that too, for you are slaves to the one you obey. Take the time to read the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans. There you will find many references to slavery, in terms of a change of ownership.

1 Peter 1:2 (NIV)

who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

 We are all merely slaves, who have changed ownership. Chosen because of the foreknowledge of God the Father, and his great mercy. We who have come to him have done so through the sanctifying (that means to be set apart for righteous service) work of the Spirit (The Holy Spirit of God). So that we could serve in obedience to our new owner Jesus Christ.

 Peter assists us in the argument by showing the three personages of God: the Father, the Spirit, and the Son, Jesus Christ.

It may be just that simple, and it may be that they work in such perfect unison and harmony that there really is no difference. I became a huge fan of the book “The Shack” for in it God, in the form of a large, black lady attempts to define this concept to the main character, Mack. It is not a hard concept, and seems perfectly legitimate, but my mind, and yours too, is broken because of sin. Get real, scripture tells us that all creation is broken and cries for it’s time of redemption as well. Understanding that, I have learned that there are some things that I have to take by faith. This faith thing should not be a hard concept for any of us, because we do this on a daily basis. We believe that cars will stop for red lights as we attempt to cross on the green, and that the money we carry around in our pockets will be acceptable as exchange for things, and food. What makes that concept work? Faith in government that backs it. Is that government quickly failing us? Yes.

 I will throw this in for free, because I struggle with the concept of being a slave, everyone in their right mind will, for God made us to be free and to have dominion (That never meant dominate one another).

In all the years I have known the Lord I have never experienced a feeling of bondage. Sure religious zealots have tried to put me and anyone else they can, in bondage, but that is man’s attempt at damage control, for they do not believe that you will do the right thing, and ultimately they do not believe that the Spirit is capable of guiding us, but there always seems to be rules. Some slave owners were very oppressive and gave those they owned no freedoms at all.

As a slave to Christ are there things that you should not mess with? Certainly. I will give you an example. A married person should not allow themselves the thought of exploring another person outside of their marriage. Why? Because we all have weaknesses, and while one person can hug everyone in the office with no apparent ulterior motive, another may struggle with weaknesses, and a perceived lack of acceptance at home. That lack of acceptance may be real, but that comes out our brokenness as humans and our selfish desires to dominate. That is exactly what slavery is based in, a domination of another. The bottom line here is that an extra-marital affair, whether imagined or real can be like alcohol to an alcoholic; one drink is never enough.

What do you mean by idle words, virtually everything we say is idle.


A chance meeting has led me to looking at Matthew’s gospel.

 God has planted me in chapter12 and I find myself focused on verse 36 for several days.

The context of verse 36 is part of his response to “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

These pharisees attributed his work, God’s work, the Spirit’s work, to the devil. A portion of his response includes this: “men will have to give an account for every careless word they have spoken.”

 We have this tendency to take a verse like this and beat people up with it. Another way of stating this would be the laying undue guilt and condemnation upon Christians who will not look at the scriptures for themselves.

 Let’s take a look at the possibilities of what he was talking about.

Matthew was a Jewish oriented writer and part of his mission seemed to be convincing the Jewish believers that Jesus was God, through lineage, prophecy, actions, and words. Chapter12 gives us a taste of many aspects of this.

 One of our first references is the term men that scripture uses.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36 KJV)

One might think that he had turned his attentions back to his disciples, or the crowd that seemed to follow him everywhere. That might be a logical assumption except that he, in verse 34, states: “you generation of vipers”, a specific reference to the pharisees that had challenged him and were still standing before him.

The specific audience is the pharisees, and yet he is also talking to a Jewish crowd of followers, and the fact that Matthew points all this out then by extension applies to us in general. But does it really?

Only seconds before Jesus made this statement of condemnation he made a startling statement, to those that heard it, that was very freeing, and a reference to a future act, the cross and his death.

I tell you therefore, men will be forgiven any sin and blasphemy, but they will not be forgiven for blaspheming the Spirit. Whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will never be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31-32 Moffatt NT)
If you had previously dived into Paul’s letter to the Romans you got a taste of this in his writings, the forgiveness of sins. Now we are dealing with somewhat conflicting messages. One seems all encompassing in terms of condemnation, and the other is blanket freedom from sins. This freedom is not just exclusive to future believers, but inclusive of everyone.

There seems to be a dividing line.

The pharisees were educated and there should be no doubt about that. Paul was one, and his zeal drove him to murder early Christians. (Do not think naively that Stephen was the first and only.) And yet with all their education they could not see or understand that God stood before them. Matthew had the intent of pointing this fact out. Why, with all your education, would you make a statement like this;

“He drives out demons only because their ruler Beelzebub gives him power to do so.” (Matthew 12:24 GNB)
 Revelation 20:13 Indicates that those being judged at the white throne are judged based upon their deeds and not their words.

Here again we have another clue to help us interpret scripture. In Revelation 20 John tells us that he saw those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus, and had not worshiped the beast or received the marks. They (the martyred) came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

These are the tribulation saints. Those who did not believe prior to the harpazo ( I have a little trouble with the term the rapture for it is not in scripture with the exception of the Latin Vulgate.) These saints, as God called them, certainly experienced a judgment based upon their words.

 Were they careless?

It does not seem to matter for when it came to making a final stand for the true God they demonstrated exemplary action. The pathetic aspect of this is that they did not have to go through the “great tribulation”, and that in itself exhibits a carelessness that is mind boggling. Even still God is not bringing about a judgment upon them because of this lack of activity on their part.

As I write this I am thinking about a guy at work, a Jehovah Witness, that does not know the true God, and yet has some vague understanding about God and who he is. One thing for sure is that Jesus is not the brother of Satan. Why wouldn’t a belief system like that not fall under the category of blaspheming against the Spirit. If anything I think what we see here is a God that is much more merciful than most of us imagined.

One other thing to note about these “careless” people. Faults or not they rule and reign with Christ during the thousand years, merely because they finally took a stand and chose God over the beast.

There are other predominant flags here that leads us to an understanding of what and to whom Jesus is talking.

  • Firstly, let’s not just classify them as pharisees but deeply religious people. Now we can extend this to today. We have plenty of those.
  • Secondly, Jesus deemed their words as careless. Perhaps we can substitute thoughtless, derogatory, in opposition, blatantly lacking belief, and therefore in denial of the power of Holy Spirit and therefore God. If you attribute an act of God to the Satanic then are you not also denying the power of God, and perhaps even God himself.

 The passage tells us that Jesus knew their thoughts. Does that mean that they had not openly spoken the negativity that filled their vile little hearts? What if, even on a small scale, they had broadcast their denials of God and his power?

The pharisees, do they not become the poison that begins to kill the tree?

Alright, you caught me, I left out an aspect of Jesus response to the pharisees; his comments about trees producing good fruit. So, let me interject them for a moment.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. (Matthew 12:33 NIV)
I was trained as a Horticulturalist so this speaks to me on a couple of levels. So I ask myself, how does one make a tree good?
  1. If I want an Apple tree that is what I buy, therefore the tree is expected to produce a particular fruit.

  2. In its early stages of growth, not having reached maturity, I would be foolish to expect fruit. Therefore patience is a virtue, and condemning the tree without giving it a chance to grow is foolish. Jesus was from an agricultural environment and may have had a firm grasp of this. Even if farming was not in his knowledge base he was a carpenter, and who better would have understood trees.

  3. These days we know that certain trees have issues in particular environments.(No duh, are we not the same way.) It is safer, on the part of the grower, to graft a great apple variety onto a variety that may not be known for it’s edibility as much as it is for disease resistance. Hence the trunk of the tree is different from the producing portion. The rootstock (the part in the ground that becomes the anchor in a sense) often resists a common nematode that impacts apple varieties, while the canopy produces a much desired fruit. (This should have a familiar ring to it, as scripture tells us that we believers have also been grafted in.)

  4. Placed in a preferred environment (good soil) the tree knows what to do. Can it be nurtured through fertilization? Yes, and knowledge of pruning techniques that enhance production is essential, for some trees produce on second year growth of wood.

How would you make a tree bad?

That does not even sound right, to a farmer that is counter productive, as a majority of a farmers time is spent fighting against influences that can cause a tree to go bad.  If I wanted to harm a tree, or purposely kill it, then I merely need to withhold water. A lack of water will stress the tree, impacting the fruit and production, and if prolonged and severe enough the tree will not recover from the stress, and die. Isn’t death bad enough?

How does this relate?

Obviously it does because Jesus presented it. Have you not read that in the life of the believer, the word of God is the water. Now picture putting yourself under a self-imposed stress, because of a lack of water. How far do you have to push the limits of non-watering (in a plant, removal of water impacts every aspect of the plants life. Each aspect is essential, and taken together over an extended period, a death stroke) before your chances of recovery are maxed out. The point here is that stressing a plant is a bad thing, and at minimum causes the plant to wilt until more water comes. Now why would you want to intentionally do a similar thing to your own life, and yet we do. Most never water ourselves, and if the Holy Spirit shows himself strong anywhere near most, they cry that they want none of that.

 What did the pharisees say that was so bad?

It is only by Beelzebub .. that this fellow drives out demons.”

 Are you serious, this was a direct affront to the idea that Jesus was God, and even they understood that only God could cast out a demon. This makes me chuckle for people are ignorant enough to say that Jesus never said that he was God. If he did not say it then he was demonstrating it, the pharisee had just watched it happen, and they are now confronted by sights that conflicted with and convicted them of their unbelief.

 There is something that happens in people, and they will not accept responsibility for their mistakes. Seriously, how many times have you heard someone say “I knew that!” or “that is what I meant to say!”. The pharisees did not waste their time saying those things, they take it to the next step; they immediately start plotting to kill Jesus, and Jesus knowledge of this concerns him to the degree that he pulls away from these madmen. (Do not think that Jesus pulled back out of fear. I believe that he knew the timing, and when he needed to ride into Jerusalem on the donkey, as scripture and the prophets foretold, and therefore relocated so as not to provoke unnecessary murder attempts.)

 Calling Jesus “this fellow” is another slap in the face of God. Even if you do not wish to attribute his works to God, they knew his name, and evidence alone told them that Jesus was God, as he had stated.

 The bottom line here is that the blasphemy that is unforgivable is a denial of His name, son-ship, authority, claims, and power; effectively refusing to accept who God is.

That should have rung a bell for belief in the one who raised Jesus from the dead is the key to salvation.