In Genesis 22, God tests father Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac on the mountains of Moriah. Abraham shows himself willing, which was all God really required. The test surely shows Abraham’s faith. And unslain Isaac, himself willing to die and figuratively rising from the dead, surely foreshadows the Son of God Who truly died and actually rose from the dead.

But what of the ram caught in the thicket and offered in place of Isaac? Like the lambs and bulls and goats appointed under the law which came later, does this beast not also prefigure the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world?

The great I AM WHO I AM spoke to Moses out of a burning yet unconsumed bush. What a a marvelously “incarnationally flavored” theophany; the divine and human natures united in the one Person of Christ! Does not the thicket entrapped ram have the same flavor?

The eternal Son allowed Himself to be caught in a thorny thicket of wicked human hands which put a crown of thorns on His head. And in place of not only the ancient son of promise, but of all those who like Isaac are children of promise (Galatians 4:28), He was offered once for all.

And that once for all offering of Himself was on the same mountain ridge which was called Moriah when Abraham was tested. There was the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite where David was divinely commanded to offer sacrifces (2 Samuel 24:18-25). There Solomon’s temple, where the blood of countless foreshadowing beasts wold be spilled, was built. Abraham called the name of the place, “the LORD will provide.” In that place the ultimate Provision was made.

Both the scapegoat and the slain goat of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) speak of the One Who was slain and carried our sins far away. That is, He both fully propitiated divine wrath and fully expiated human guilt. The rich depth of divine articulation is likewise revealed here in Genesis 22, and indeed throughout Scripture.

How profound and wonderful is the fulness of the atoning work of Christ, satisfying both the righteousness of the thrice holy God and the needs of guilty, corrupt sinners! It requires that the written word of God be an intricate tapestry deeply dyed with Gospel ink. Truly, every jot and tittle speaks of Him!

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Time Will Be On Our Side

That disordered jumble of surreal activity, replete with bizarre events and persons impossibly present, transpires in almost no time at all. And when we awake, it is often with the thought, “I was just in the middle of a dream!”

More likely that dream occurred in the fractions of a second before full waking consciousness returned to the sleeper, even if the dream was one in which hours, days, or more time elapsed.

Like all speculation, conceptions about the heavenly life requires caution. God has promised His people an eternity of adoring and serving him in perfected holiness and bliss. There will be no death, no pain, no crying, no blemishes of any kind.

But what about two of the most rudimentary aspects of created reality: time and space? Will they be the same hereafter as they are now? Yes and no.

The incarnation has no end. Jesus is alive forevermore as the God/Man: His deity unhampered by His true manhood, His manhood glorified but never morphing into deity. His people will be resurrected to be like Him forever, their bodies made incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

Which leads to the assertion that spatial dimension and duration in time will still exist in that heavenly realm of things now utterly inconceivable, but of which the blessed Holy Spirit gives even now some knowledge (1 Cor. 2:9,10; 13:12).

Otherwise how can a body be a body at all? The walking legs of a resurrection body will still move one from point A to point B, taking X time for the trip, like Jesus’ resurrected body did. The voices of resurrected bodies will make music with the structure of heavenly orchestration, not by chanting one “eternal note.” Resurrected hands will move in time and space as they are employed in His service which will never be in vain nor tedious.

Now here’s the deep speculation: time and space will be subject to the redeemed! In this earthly existence, we are tyrannized by the urgent, ever frustrated by the short and long term ravages of time’s inexorable passing. Likewise height, length, and width can hinder us with difficult obstacles.

Perhaps in Heaven it will be possible – to some extent – to “take time at our own pace,” exercising dominion over it in ways we can’t conceive now.

Consider this: The world population is nearing eight billion. Death comes to over one hundred people per minute worldwide. Avoiding the doctrinal error of universal salvation, suppose thirty (hopefully many more per hundred!) of them are taken to Heaven by the angels as was Lazarus (Luke 16:20-22), there to see their wonderful, glorified Redeemer face to face.

Reckoning time as we know it now, should we imagine that each of those thirty gets only a half a second with Jesus before the next saint arrives in Heaven, or should we imagine time somehow subject to each one’s ability to savor that glorious meeting?

Remember our observation about dreams, but replace the grotesque and desultory with perfect beauty, order, and wonder.

And maybe the resurrected Christ’s mysterious vanishing and appearing (Luke 24:31, 36; John 20:19) preview new powers of the resurrection bodies of the redeemed, made like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21). Children and the young at heart imagine flying through the air. Perhaps in glory, flight will be among your minor abilities – if anything in Heaven can be called minor!

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2,3)

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Deeper State?

According to the historically accurate usage of the term, Iran is not a theocracy. It could be called an “allah-cracy,” and one which appears to be dissolving at present. It is an allah-cracy and not a theocracy because as an Islamic republic it does not honor the God of the Bible. Let me explain…

Iran and other Muslim nations were not founded to revere the THEOS from Whose name (in the Greek new testament, written early in the first Christian century) the term THEO-cracy is derived. Instead, the so-called republic of Iran, ideologically antagonistic to Christianity and other religions, honors its god Allah presented in the Koran of Muhammad who died in June of the seventh Christian century.

The former Soviet Union, which existed for about seven decades of the twentieth Christian century, might be described as an “a-theocracy.” It was a state founded upon a-theistic, Marxist ideology – also consciously opposed to Christianity. That bump in the road of humanity’s annals (like other a-theistic, communist states which have come and gone to no one’s sorrow) was built not on the Rock of ages, but on utopian sand.

ANCIENT Israel – think Moses, the prophets, and David – was indeed a theocracy. It was established on earth by them and other servants of the God of the old testament, Who is the same new testament THEOS referenced above. Even that state failed! Yet throughout its existence the earnest expectation of its faithful citizens was for the coming of the unfailing, eternal kingdom of God.

One of those faithful citizens, the prophet Malachi, predicted the time when the very King of that heavenly kingdom would come into His earthly temple. When He did so c. A.D. 26 He was heralded by John the Baptizer. Both the herald and the King Himself preached the same thrilling message: “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

And so as the prophet Daniel had predicted c. 600 B.C., that kingdom came with power in the days of the Roman empire. After accomplishing the earthly part of His Messianic mission through His unlawful execution by the soldiers of Tiberius Caesar and His bodily resurrection from the dead to which hundreds of eye-witnesses testified, the King ascended victoriously into heaven.

From that place of supreme exaltation, and though He is presently unseen, He rules over all. The glorious reality which Daniel and all the old testament writers foresaw and foreshadowed is writ large and with crisp clarity in the new testament of the God of Abraham…of Job…of Noah…of Enoch, Seth, Abel, and of Adam and Eve the first parents of all mankind, who all are now invited by the King to His everlasting banquet.

And what did King Jesus command His subjects, whom He loved unto death? He told them to pray to His Father and their Father thus: “Your Kingdom Come!” Now alive forevermore, having all power in heaven and earth, He their good Shepherd King continues to love His subjects, cherishing them as His younger brothers and sisters. He has commanded us to make disciples of all nations by the power of His Gospel, proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

And so like the mustard seed of His parable which grew into a great tree, that divine kingdom came, is coming, and will have no end. It continues to fill the earth by the peaceful yet inexorably prevailing power of the Prince of peace, displacing rivals without blood reddened swords or any modern equivalents. Like that plant in the parable, birds now nest in its branches. That is to say, temporal earthly kingdoms derive protection and benefit from its abiding presence and strength.

When nations reject the King of king and Lord of lords they are held in derison by Him. He sits in the heavens and laughs at them! They find only frustration, confusion, and failure. When they humbly “kiss the Son” (Psalm 2) they find blessing, prosperity, and peace.

Yes Lord! Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

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Whose Sports?

Women’s sports are dying an excruciating death. What should we expect, when any human can be reckoned as a woman? What do the words man and woman mean in such a mad world?

There are two human sexes and only two. A person might wear clothing that pertains to the opposite sex, abuse hormones, disfigure HIMself or HERself, but that person remains the sex to which HE or SHE was born.

So go ahead, social media platforms or whoever. Censure, condemn, call this “hate speech.” What party is the real hater? Is it the shrill, minuscule minority that have articulated and now are attempting to fully normalize what is not only clearly abnormal, but stark raving insane?

Where is the love for all the (real) young women and girls who want to compete with their peers in athletic events, only to have their hopes dashed again and again when boys or young men outperform them because male physiology and female physiology plainly differ? Sounds like those women and girls are victims of cruel, codified hatred.

Where is the love for the millions of employees who recognize insanity when they see it, but are fearful of employers who have caved to that shrill minority? Why don’t you “captains of industry” stand up for the truth for a change?

You might even find your workforce more productive since they don’t have to consume energy making sure they use pronouns according to the insanity you’ve endorsed, and worrying about being punished or fired for speaking freely or acting according to their consciences. How hateful you big bosses must be, making the workplace so oppressive for so many!

Where is the love and respect for women who don’t want to find some perverted and/or predatory man lying in wait when they go into that once safe place heretofore commonly called the ladies’ room? Let’s get back to where public restrooms are either for men only or for women only, and flush this insanity down the nearest toilet of any kind.

Where is the love for God and His word on the part of certain lily livered cowards (or greedy charlatans) who are wolves in sheep’s clothing occupying lead positions in the churches? To what extent will the great Day reveal that this cancer came into our society because YOU failed to be faithful? Judgment begins with the household of God.

O Lord God! Raise up many true ministers of your Word to fearlessly preach and teach the truth without compromise, whatever the consequences!

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What Year is It Again?

“Bishop Hippolytus of Rome ( c. 170 AD – c. 235 AD) wrote a commentary on the Book of Daniel sometime around 202 AD in which he claimed:

‘The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the Kalends of January, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus…This puts the birth of Christ at December 25th, 2 B.C.’

Julius Sextus Africanus claimed the same date in his Chronographiai, which was written around the same time as Hippolytus.” — Joshua Gibbs, teacher of classical literature at Veritas School in Richmond, Virginia

If Professor Gibbs and other scholars are correct, our Gregorian calendar is off by a couple of years. Meanwhile, some want to replace A.D. (Anno Domini, “year of our Lord”) with C.E. (“common era”). And other calendars exist.

Despite these quibbles, the first advent of Jesus Christ has become the historical anchor by which we reckon our common journey into the future…it is “common era” to the whole world because of Him!

Why will it not be 12 A.M. New Year’s day 246 that shortly sweeps through the globe’s time zones, counting the signing of the American Declaration of Independence as year 1? Why isn’t year 807 about to begin, setting as year 1 the drafting of the Magna Carta, so foundational to the blossoming of the enjoyment of freedom by many? Why will Friday January 1 be the first day of 2021, and not 1021 or 3021?

It is because of the birth of the Potentate of Time, as one hymn writer praised Him. It is because of the recently observed nativity of the Son of God Who brings true and everlasting freedom (cf. John 8:36). That transcendent, miraculous event utterly eclipses all other historical events, just as His eternal kingdom already has spread to every corner of the Earth, and inexorably continues to grow!

Enjoy your inescapably Christo-centric holiday on Friday, and may the whole 2,021st year of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be the year which brings His richest blessings of grace to you.

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No Prognosticator Here

Here are a couple of statements from an early Christian leader. He left this Earth and all its woes and sorrows approximately A.D. 65:

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

In the almost 2,000 years since Paul of Tarsus was martyred (according to tradition) by that wantonly savage beast, Roman emperor Nero, Christians have been comforted in times of bereavement, strengthened in times of fiery persecution, and filled with exhilarating hope in times of disappointment and dreariness by those words Christ’s apostle wrote long ago in letters to his fellow Christians in Corinth and Philippi.

They promise not merely the continuation of self conscious existence, but also of life that is LIFE indeed. They promise the personal, full fruition of God consciousness, of seeing Him in Whose presence there is fullness of joy, of being with Him at Whose right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

Now here is a prediction. In this Orwellian, Newspeak time where linguistic IEDs are hidden in the landscape of open conversation, Christians expressing their hopes that extend beyond the grave will be counted as “entertaining thoughts of suicide.” (This despite the fact that Paul’s words refer to physical death, but say nothing of death by suicide: recognized by Christians as a sin against God our loving Creator and a horrible tragedy whenever it occurs.)

Is the day coming? On that day, suffering Christian, tell the wrong person how you long to be with your Savior in Heaven and be prepared to be denounced or reported as a danger to yourself and society, a threat that must be removed, an “extremist” whom the DHS or whatever new or expanded agency of the ever ballooning nanny state must control.

Since my predictions are quite fallible, I can only hope that I am dead wrong. Oops, I better use a different word for emphasis. I hope I am plain wrong. That’s more appropriate here on the threshold of the drab, colorless, humorless, oppressive society we might become.

As Paul might have written (transliterated from the Greek) ME GENOITA! Translation: May it never be! God forbid!

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Proverbially Speaking

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

In the original language of these two proverbs, the words translated WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE overlap in meaning. Together they teach us that reverently honoring our Creator, Provider, and Judge is foundational for the prudence, discretion, and life skill which is often manifest in people with little formal education.

On the other hand, it is also the only starting point on the journey to becoming learned. And no academic institution owns that journey’s many roads – some toll free, all scenic. Whether his field is history, one of the so called natural sciences, or art even a highly “educated” person is ultimately a fool, commonly an arrogant one, without that crucial fear of the LORD. That fool despises sound wisdom and instruction just as God’s infallible and redemptively aimed proverbs predict.

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Big Brother

At the time, Judah the son of Jacob knew only that the man from whom he and his brothers had purchased sustenance in Egypt was the pharaoh’s prime minister. When that food ran out, Jacob told his sons to go back to the man and buy more.

At that point Judah reminded Jacob that this man of great authority and strange ways had solemnly warned the brothers that he would not deal with them again unless Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest, returned with them. Jacob, at the time thinking he had already lost another son (Joseph) protested in anguish of heart.

So Judah made a daring promise to his father. He volunteered to sacrifice his own welfare with these courageous and loving words: “I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.”

Perhaps you are acquainted with the outcome of the poignant account. Judah did not have to bear perpetual blame, for Benjamin was not lost. The pharaoh’s prime minister turned out to be the very Joseph whom Jacob thought to have been killed by wild animals. Joseph sent Judah, Benjamin, and all his other brothers back to their father Jacob with food and riches. He proclaimed to them that what they had meant for evil (selling Joseph into bondage), God had meant for greater good.

Another courageous elder Brother, moved by unfathomable depths of love, volunteered to be surety for the redemption of not just one, but an untold multitude of the patriarch Jacob’s spiritual descendants. Unlike Christ’s ancestor Judah, He the Root and the Offspring of David had to follow through on what He promised His Father He was willing to do.

Because of His incarnational dignity and infinite value, the prevailing Lion of the tribe of Judah was able to bear the weight of perpetual blame once for all time. His broken body and shed blood is spiritual food; Heaven’s most precious riches for those dwelling in a spiritually hungry and impoverished land.

What those who crucified Jesus meant for evil, God intended for the eternal good of many.

“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…” (Hebrews 2:11)

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The Almost and the Actual

In Genesis 22 God has recorded the account of how He severely tested Abraham’s faith. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, but stopped him from doing so “in the nick of time” when He saw that Abraham was willing to do even that, if God required it. Abraham passed that test of faith with flying colors.

What might escape our attention is Isaac’s similar faith and obedience. Isaac was not a baby or a toddler at this time. He was a youth, able to ask intelligent questions of his father and able to carry a bundle of wood. Meanwhile, Abraham had been 99 years old at the time of Isaac’s miraculous conception.

Isaac could have easily overpowered his aged father and fled when he became aware of what was coming. Instead he proved willing to present his body a living sacrifice.

So Abraham was willing to give his son, and Isaac was willing even to die in obedience to his father.

A little over 2,000 years ago there was an even more miraculous conception. When He became a young man, the fruit of that blessed womb also carried some wood, the wood of a cruel instrument of execution. He also had questioned His Father on the way to a death He would not escape. He had asked, in Gethsemane, if it were possible that He not endure unimaginable pain and be sacrificed.

It was NOT possible – if sinners were to be forgiven. There would be no reprieve for this obedient Son. The loving Father went through with the sacrifice by which many would be saved. The Son loved His Father and He loved the ones He came to save, as an angel told Joseph, the carpenter who would serve as the blessed earthly dad of the Christ child:

“…Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (from Matthew 1)

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Two Big Ologies

THEOLOGY, having the greater Subject, is the study of our Creator and His works of providence and redemption. It has been called the queen of sciences and all other sciences are rightly pursued only in recogntion of its primacy.

ANTHROPOLOGY, having the lesser subject, is the study of humanity – God’s creature made in the divine image. Especially in light of the incarnation, it is best regarded as a sub-heading of theology. Man cannot be known aright apart from his Creator. Nor, for that matter, can anything be known properly apart from God.

The holy Bible is the primary text for both disciplines. And we are capable of error in both disciplines when we drift from that primary, authoritative text. Some errors introduce ideas that are utterly alien to the Bible – for example “reincarnation” as taught in certain Eastern religions, or the idea that any form of religious devotion is divinely acceptable so long as the devotee is sincere.

But most errors twist Biblical truth out of shape, cf. 2 Peter 3:16. Egalitarianism is such an error in anthropology. The truth it twists is the one expressly stated at Genesis 1:27 and 9:6 and preceptively revealed in the whole counsel of God. Namely, every human being whether male or female or of whatever ethnicity is a spiritual being having the high dignity of bearing God’s image.

The rest of the story so to speak is that our equality is not a cookie cutter equality. A five foot tall female gymnast and a seven and half foot tall pro basketball player are quite unequal in physical stature, but spiritually both bear the image of God.

In regard to the two sexes, God has added differences to that fundamental equality. Men and women differ not only in the obvious physical ways, but in ways less tangible. Generally speaking, men and women differ in how they think and in emotional traits. Similarly, we see differences added to the basic equality of divine image bearing as we observe the families, tribes, and nations of mankind.

Analogy: A ceramic worker might use the same lump of clay to make a cup, a saucer that holds cups, and a dinner plate. God took of the flesh of the first man Adam to make the first woman Eve. The entire human race is their offspring. So out of the same “divine image lump” the Almighty Potter sculpted us all. But we don’t all have the same gifts, callings, or roles.

Egalitarianism is the error of insisting on an equality that ignores these secondary differences. When a society is infected with it, the erosion of the “nuclear” family and its distinct roles for fathers, mothers, and children as well as various forms of destructive ungodly social trends and even social engineering follow.

Comparing the two major revolutions of the late 18th century of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is illustrative. The colonial Americans’ declaration of independence is not only the matrix of the U.S. constitution, it is a document that reveals their world view, ethos, and passion. It asserts that core human equality which comes from the Creator and goes on to profess bedrock dependence on His providence.

Despite the flaw of chattel slavery which ended about “four score and seven” years after its founding, America became the land of the most personal liberty and opportunity ever experienced in history, and a beacon of the same for the rest of the world. May it remain so.

The French revolution was rooted in a-Theistic sophistry. Its motto of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood) sounds attractive. But since it despised the Biblical doctrine of God the Creator and humanity the divine image bearing creation – endowed with certain rights by the Creator – the fruit of that revolution included baseless, jealous denouncements of the upright simply because of their prosperity, the insatiable guillotine, and the Reign of Terror.

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