The Tablets of the Heart

The Tablets of the Heart
Vol: 148 Issue: 31 Friday, January 31, 2014

The Mount of the Beatitudes stands near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee and is the most likely spot for Jesus to have preached the Sermon on the Mount. It isn’t an actual ‘mountain’ as we’d understand it, but rather a large hill.

The reason that this is believed to be the exact location of the Sermon is because of its incredible acoustics. Along the slope there is a meadow that has the shape of a shallow bowl.

The effect is really quite amazing, as I’ll demonstrate when we visit the Mount of the Beatitudes during our upcoming Israel tour. A person standing in the center of that bowl’s voice carries everywhere within the rim of that bowl as if it were an amplified stadium.

The last time I was there, Peter Lalonde had me hike down that slope to the middle and read the Sermon on the Mount aloud, so I can’t tell you how clearly my voice carried from personal experience. I can only tell you I wasn’t speaking any louder than I would have spoken in my living-room.

Looking back up at our group, they were far enough away that I couldn’t clearly distinguish their faces. Many of those who were on that tour with us were in their 60’s and 70’s. But all of them said they could hear me as clearly as if I were standing beside them.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about that acoustical effect of that place is a sense of awe. To think not only that I was standing in the place where Jesus once stood, but also that I was standing in a place specifically designed by God for His use in giving one of the most important sermons of His earthly ministry.

It is the place where Jesus stood when He proclaimed His mission statement:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

Jesus came to fulfill the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant and to fulfill the purpose of the Law. In Genesis 15 we read of the covenant agreement between Abraham and God.

“And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” (15:5-6)

But Abraham was a man of the Chaldees, a merchant from Ur, and business is business, so, where’s the contract?

“And he said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (15:8)

Since Abraham WAS a Chaldean, the Lord instructed him to prepare a blood covenant according to the customs of the Chaldees.

“And He said unto him, Take Me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto Him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.” (15:9-10)

These animal parts were used to form a somewhat grisly aisle through which, by custom, the two parties to the covenant would walk hand in hand while reciting its terms. It was also an object lesson in what fate would befall the one who broke its terms.

The Bible says that Abraham prepared the covenant and waited for God to come so they could seal the bargain together. Instead, Abraham had a vision. In it, God recited the terms of the covenant while passing through the aisle in the form of a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, in effect, signing the covenant on both sides.

If the covenant was broken, somebody had to die, and God made Himself responsible for both parties. It was there on the slopes of that hill near the Sea of Galilee that Jesus explained that He came to fulfill the terms of THAT covenant — on behalf of Abraham’s seed.

It was always God’s intent to write the law on the hearts of His people. In Deuteronomy 6:6 we read:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”

Jeremiah speaks of a day when this will become a reality: “‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD.

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people'” (Jeremiah 31:33).

The writing of the law on the heart is finally accomplished by the fulfillment of the Old Covenant at the Cross and the establishment of the New Covenant whereby believers are grafted onto the olive tree of Israel.

I actually stood in the place where Jesus made that monumental announcement! It was awesome beyond description.

Many Christians see the Beatitudes more as idealistic guidelines than reality. Others take the opposite view; that the Beatitudes form a list of do’s and don’t’s regarding salvation.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” If you want the kingdom of heaven, it seems, one must be poor in spirit. But what does “poor in spirit” mean to believers who see themselves as the “King’s Kids?” Seems a bit contradictory, but only until you remember that the purpose of the sermon is to write the law on men’s hearts.

The prophet Micah writes:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

The ‘poor in spirit’ are those who recognize they are unworthy of entrance into heaven by virtue of their own sin nature, that there are no good works they can do to thereby purchase admission on their own, and that Jesus Christ paid the price of redemption on their behalf.

If you are a Blood-bought believer, you’ve already acknowledged your spiritual poverty and your dependence upon God’s riches. This isn’t a goal that stands before you, its your present state of reality — together with the attending promise, “for theirs [yours] is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. ” Why would believers ‘mourn’? We’re saved, we’re joyful . . . we’re told to be joyful because of the certainty of spiritual comfort. Paul writes, “that you sorrow not, as others who have no hope”.

Do you care about the lost? Why? And when one dies in his sins, do you not mourn? The Beatitudes are not a future goal to the Christian, but a state of present reality.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness — this one is a tough one for Western Christians. (Fortunately, believers are joint-heirs with Christ, so they inherit the universe.)

In context, however, “meekness” means to have a submissive heart. Jesus said,

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Meekness can best be described as “strength under control” which is the characteristic Jesus said would “inherit the earth.” Meekness is not something to be attained, it is the current state of those who trust that Jesus has everything under control.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Uh oh! How does one manage this while navigating this lost and sin-sick world?

The pure in heart have holiness written on their hearts. There is a lot more involved here than the avoidance of sin. The heart is our center of being.

Jesus describes it in Mark 7:21-23;

“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.”

But also from within springs that holy desire to pursue God and be like Him. To be ‘pure in heart’ is not to accomplish the impossible by living a perfect life — it is the desire to get back up again after we fall. The ‘pure in heart’ shall see God. To be pure in heart is not a goal to be attained — it is the present state of the believer.

The Law of Moses was written on Mount Sinai on tablets of cold, hard stone. The Sermon on the Mount represents the place where God, now and forever, writes His laws on the tablet of the heart.

“Tetelestai!”

Note: Today’s Letter takes us on personal experience in Jack’s life.  Alf Cengia’s, “The Illegitimate State of Israel” analysizes a popular viewpoint of Christianity that misses the mark of our Lord’s overall plan for His people.

Higher and Higher. . .

Higher and Higher. . .
Vol: 148 Issue: 30 Thursday, January 30, 2014

The government of Israel announced that the ministry of health will launch a domestic pot-growing operation to grow and manage Israel’s exploding medical marijuana industry.

The Jpost is reporting that Israel’s decision to grow domestic pot will last two years, after which the government will take another look at it.  The reason the government wants to grow pot is to bring the price down – imported marijuana costs ten times as much.

It gives one pause to wonder: where would they import pot from?  Mexico?  California?  Canada?  Why would it cost more to import a pot plant than it would a tomato plant? 

Actually, a tomato plant should cost MORE.  Pot is a WEED.  I looked it up.  It is a fairly aggressive weed that will grow wild without too much attention. 

And from what I’ve been able to read and what I know of Israel’s multi-tiered agricultural environment, if it can be grown anywhere, it would grow in Israel better.

Until now, authorization for the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain and provide other relief for patients – adults and children – with severe illness has been supervised and authorized for specific patients by Dr. Yehuda Baruch, a psychiatrist at the government’s Abarbanel State Mental Health Center in Bat Yam.

Currently, medical marijuana is supplied exclusively by local growers to some 6,000 patients authorized by Baruch, but there are predictions that doctor and patient satisfaction is so high that the number could reach 40,000 in 2016.

Members of the Israel Pharmacists Association have been pressing for permission to distribute medical marijuana to authorized patients through their pharmacies. Although the Israel Police has urged that supplies be imported rather than locally grown because customs agents could minimize their reaching illicit users, the ministry decided that in the near future, no imports would be allowed.

This is where it gets a little bit confusing.  Indeed, this is where it becomes a lot confusing – SO confusing that many countries are either rewriting their marijuana laws or scrapping them altogether.  

Once marijuana is recognized to have a legitimate, recognized medical use, it becomes much harder to justify cracking down on “illicit” users.  

Marijuana is unique among illegal drugs in that it is less harmful physically than any chemical pharmaceutical, is virtually impossible to overdose on, is not known to have ever killed anyone and may actually provide certain health benefits.

In Canada, superior and appellate courts in Ontario have repeatedly declared Canada’s federal marijuana laws to be of no force and effect.  Currently, one can be arrested for possessing marijuana in Ontario, but is unlikely to be prosecuted.

Now Israel is considering importing marijuana.  Israel!  The Apple of God’s Eye.  The place where He located His Temple. 

Marijuana for His Chosen People? 

Assessment:

I was once challenged to prove from the Bible that pot-smoking is inherently sinful.  It was a surprisingly difficult challenge.  As Christians we are required to obey the law.  So it is a sin to smoke pot.  But the sin is evidently law-breaking.  Not smoking pot.

The Bible also seems to contain injunctions against drinking – but the injunctions are actually against drunkenness – not drinking.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)

“Deceived”, and thereby, “not wise”.   But that is not the same as ‘sin’.

Deuteronomy 14:26 commands the Israelites, as part of the celebration of their first fruits:

“And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.”

It would seem that there are times, therefore, in which God evidently approves of wine or strong drink, under certain circumstances.  So it isn’t the drink that is sin. Or even the consumption of strong drink that is sin. 

That only leaves time and circumstance.  Clearly, it is better not to drink, and one can extrapolate from that obvious fact until it becomes sin. 

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:” (Proverbs 31:4)

Are we not, as Christians, princes, priests or kings before the Lord?  But then in the very next verse, we read:

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” (Proverbs 31:5)

And,

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” (1st Timothy 5:23)

What does THAT mean?  Clearly, there are times when strong drink and wine are appropriate, according to the Scriptures.  And just as clearly, there are times when it is not.  And for some people, there is never a time when it is appropriate.   

Alcohol addiction has ruined uncountable millions of lives.  What about marijuana addiction?   I can’t say.  I don’t know.

The Book of Revelation is the only place in the entire Bible where there is any reference to the use of drugs. But in the Book detailing the final hours of the last days, drugs are mentioned twice.

Revelation 9:21 outlines in a nutshell the reasons for the judgments coming on the earth during the Tribulation.

 “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

The word translated in the Book of the Revelation as ‘sorceries’ has a unique and interesting etymology. The word usage is intriguing, when one considers the fact the Book of the Revelation, although put to paper in the latter part of the first century, is an account of events that are still future.

And it grows increasingly obvious that it is near future. . . The word translated as ‘sorceries’ in Revelation 9:21 and again in Revelation 18:23 is a different root word than used elsewhere in Scripture.

Elsewhere, as in Isaiah 47:12 or Acts 8:11 the word ‘sorceries‘ comes from the root words ‘keseph‘ [Hebrew] and ‘magea‘ [Greek] — both of which mean ‘magic arts’.

But uniquely, in the Book composed for the generation that would experience its contents, the word translated ‘sorceries‘ comes from the Greek word ‘pharmakea‘ from which we get our English word ‘pharmacy’. ‘Pharmakea’ means, ‘the use or administration of drugs’.

One would assume rampant drug abuse was not on the minds of the English translators poring over the old Greek manuscripts in 1611.  Neither is there historical evidence of rampant drug problems in AD 87 when John was receiving the Revelation on the Isle of Patmos.

Pretty incredible, when you really think about it.  Particularly when one consider the word occurs only in the Book detailing the judgments of God on a Christ-rejecting world in the last days. 

The Prophet Daniel was given similar visions regarding the last days, visions that troubled him greatly, since he could not really understand what all the symbols, heads, horns, beasts, etc., were all about.   

Daniel asked the revealing angel what the things he had written down meant, but the angel told him that the vision was not for his time, or any future time except the last time.  And just to make sure he understood it, the angel told him twice.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)

“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:8-9)

Here Daniel was given five separate prophecies:

  1. The words will be “shut up” or unintelligible;
  2. The Book itself will be ‘sealed’;
  3. It will not be unsealed until ‘ the time of the end’;
  4. The unsealing will occur as international travel increases
  5. Overall knowledge will suddenly increase exponentially.

The Apostle John continues the theme, predicting that all this will take place at the same time that the entire world is laboring under a drug-induced deception.

And it is in this context – think about it! – in THIS context that ISRAEL has decided that NOW would be a good time for the Chosen People to start growing pot.

Tick. . .tick. . .tick . . . 

Note: The Super Bowl has brought the discussion of legalized marijuana to the forefront this week and we are glad to have Jack’s take on the subject as the absurdities grow.  What is not absurd is the science of Genesis.  J.L. Robb’s “Why I Believe in God” gives us some of the higher proofs that science agrees with God’s Word.

Does The Bible Forbid Women Preachers?

Does The Bible Forbid Women Preachers?
Vol: 148 Issue: 29 Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We have been collecting reader’s questions on various topics of general interest for several years now.  One question deals with whether or not women should keep silent in churches.

This is not exactly the kind of question I want to deal with verbally — that’s too much like juggling with nitro glycerin — one stumble on a topic like that and BOOM!

The question is a good one, but the answer is fraught with minefields that are much harder to navigate extemporaneously than they would be in a column where I have the luxury of making sure I say it right.  You can’t un-ring the bell, as the saying goes.

“I would very much like to know if you have a response to the biblical commands according to our Father for the role of a woman in and out of a church setting? I desire to serve the Lord but I am being told so many different responses to what I AM OR AM NOT allowed to do my head is spinning! I am at a standstill because I do not want to dishonor God. . .

. . . For example, my husband and I recently visited a church where an elderly woman was teaching Sunday school. My husband would not stay because it was not being taught by a man. I respected my husband’s action, but felt very uncomfortable. Thank you for your attention to my email.  . .”

This is one of the most divisive subjects I can think of.  More church schisms have occurred over the role of a woman in the church than probably any other single issue.

First, let us define the question at hand.  It is not whether women are of equal value to men.  Neither is it because they could not minister effectively.  The question is essentially if it is permissible for a woman to teach in church, according to the Bible?

Let us first dismiss the first two objections for clarity’s sake before addressing the actual question in detail.  The Bible teaching regarding church order is rooted in the Bible’s teaching about the order of the family.

Ephesians 5:22-24 are some of those really, really difficult verses, mainly because they are  almost NEVER argued in context.  

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

That makes it sound like the husband is The Boss, doesn’t it?  That’s the product of selective interpretation.  Back up one more verse and get the actual context:

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21)

Do you see it?  The command is to submit one to another — NOT to subordinate the wife or elevate the husband. These are task-oriented designations.  Ephesians 5:21 tells us what — 5:22 and forward tells us how.  Marriage and ministry are so inter-related as to be almost indistinguishable in organizational structure.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”

That’s a tall order.  The Lord’s ministry was devoted to nurturing the Church and then willingly gave His life.  Galatians 3:28 spells out the equality between men and women in no uncertain terms:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The Creator created male and female as equals, but He designed them to complement, rather than compete with each other.  They are designed by the Creator for different jobs.  That is a truth that was self-evident until relatively recently.

The Greek term used for submission (hypotasso) suggests a voluntary submission based on a commitment to proper order.

It does not imply an organization based on inability or inferiority.  Indeed, this term seems to have been chosen by Paul to honor the unique value of the wife.  Paul thereby affirms both value and order, both equality and subordination.

Men and women have equal responsibility to communicate intimately in marriage relationships.  This is seen in God’s plan that marriage is to be a companionship of equals (Genesis 2:24).  Equality between the sexes, however, has NEVER meant “the same.” 

That used to be self-evident.

Assessment:

The models for family and church interrelate for two reasons.  First, these are the two God-ordained institutions in which we find the spiritual resources for full Christian maturity.  Second, these two institutions have unique ability to reveal God to a world blinded by sin.

And so family and church share the central place in God’s economy.

The Scriptures frequently interrelate the family and the church. Paul clearly tied the two together in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.

What Paul is saying is essentially that if a woman is unwilling to wear the symbol of her right relationship to her husband as the family “head,” she forfeits her privileges of praying and prophesying in church fellowships.  Paul links a woman’s ministry in the church directly to her submission to her husband.

Paul makes the same point when outlining the credentials for that of a bishop or pastor.  A man who doesn’t rule his family well is unfit to pastor a church.  Proper family order is a prerequisite to pastoral leadership.  The Bible intentionally interrelates church and family for both husbands and wives.

It isn’t that the Bible forbids women to preach or teach.  Women in the New Testament engaged in significant ministry, performing valuable service in sometimes-difficult situations.

Both Priscilla and Aquila spoke privately to Apollos at Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26), correcting his incomplete and flawed theology. Nobody said they were forbidden to teach.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul identified sixteen significant helpers in ministry (16:1-16), and at least ten of them were women.  Lydia financed and help strenthen the Church at Phillipi as well as churches at Euodia and Syntchye. (Acts 16:13-15; Philippians 4:2-3)

Women played a major role in the Lord’s ministry.  Luke recalled with appreciation their financial support and company with Him (Luke 8:1-3).

When it comes to the role of women in the church, here’s what we can learn from the New Testament.  First, there is no mention of women serving as pastors.  Second, there are no instructions for women pastors. 

And third, (and this is where I gulp and draw a deep, deep breath) the Bible expressly forbids women pastors.

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

In context, this doesn’t permit women to teach in a pastoral role, thereby usurping the role of a man and undermining the family order. The family order is the basic model for both church and civil government.

It isn’t about a woman’s ability, or temperament, or equality, but it is about the family and the role God has assigned each partner. (Titus 2:3-5; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14,15) The family order is itself based on the heirarchy within the Trinity.

Within the Godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all fully and completely God, one God in three Persons, each with a specific ministry.  The Bible says that Jesus is co-equal with the Father, yet the Bible reveals there is an hierarchy among them.

Jesus declared in John 20: 21 “As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.”  The Bible there are two primary tasks: creation and redemption.

Regarding creation, God the Father planned it. Jesus spoke creation into existence and He maintains it.  The Holy Spirit “hovered upon the waters” (Gen. 1:2) to complete creation’s process.

In redemption the pattern continues.  God the Father planned it and He elected to salvation. Jesus accomplished redemption by His death.  The Holy Spirit applies the work of Jesus.  Thus in the activities of God there is a division of labor and focus, yet total equality.

That is the model for both marriage and the church.  Equality is based on which design model one happens to be and subordination is an issue of task orientation.  This is the way God designed it to work.

There is no reason why a woman cannot teach in a Sunday School or even serve as an associate pastor.  But the Scriptures mandate that the senior pastor MUST be a man. 

However, in most churches, the God-given order has been replaced with a new, enlightened social order that makes the ridiculous claim the equality among the sexes means “the same”. 

Men and women are obviously different and things that are different are NOT the same.

But once one has accepted that premise that things that are different CAN be the same, it isn’t that much further a stretch to accept that alternative families are the same as traditional families and alternative marriages are the same as traditional marriages.

And now we see what the Left means when it calls itself “progressive.”  Follow the progression they advocate and where it leads.

First the family, then the church and then . . . well, like I said, these are things that used to be self-evident.

Originally published: August 15, 2012

 

Three Felonies a Day

Three Felonies a Day
Vol: 148 Issue: 28 Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A few years ago, a Boston-based civil liberties lawyer wrote a book entitled “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.”   According to Harvey Silverglate, that is how many felonies the average American unwittingly commits in the course of a normal business day.

By design, the law is built up over time by court decisions, statutes and regulations. Sometimes even criminal laws are left vague, to be defined case by case.

Technology exacerbates the problem of laws that are so open and vague that they are hard to abide by, to the point that we have all become potential criminals.

Silverglate describes several cases in which prosecutors didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand technology. This problem is compounded by a trend that has accelerated since the 1980s in which prosecutors have trended toward abandoning the principle that there can’t be a crime without criminal intent.

Silverglate offers as one example the story of a Massachusetts man who was charged with violating that state’s wiretap laws.  His company’s mail server routinely intercepted and copied emails as part of the process of shuttling them through the internet.

That is exactly how our own mail servers work. That is how ALL mail servers work.  The mail is copied, transmitted and then the copy is immediately deleted.  There is no criminal intent.

Prosecutors chose to interpret the ISP’s role of momentarily copying messages as they made their way through the system was no different than wiretapping private communications.   The case went through several rounds of litigation, with no judge making the obvious point that this is how ISPs operate.

After six years, a jury found the defendant, Bradford Councilman, not guilty.   But not until after Mr. Councilman went broke defending himself.

Under the English common law we inherited, a crime requires intent.  But that protection is gradually disappearing.   Silverglate writes in his book:

“Since the New Deal era, Congress has delegated to various administrative agencies the task of writing the regulations,” even as “Congress has demonstrated a growing dysfunction in crafting legislation that can in fact be understood.”

Here is how it works in practice.  Prosecutors identify a defendant they want to ‘go after’ and then they sift through the various laws to look for a violation they can use to prosecute under.

Recently a number of states have passed laws against cyberbullying.   The legislation was enacted in response to a heart-breaking case in which 13-year old Megan Meier committed suicide after supposedly receiving messages from a sixteen-year old boy named Josh Evans.

The two teens had been exchanging messages for about six weeks, but Evans’s messages had grown steadily more hostile. According to reports, his last message to Meier was that she was “cruel” and a “bad person.”

But it turned out that Josh Evans didn’t exist.  He was really Lori Drew, the mother of another teen with whom Megan had been fighting.  Meier, who had battled depression all of her young life, hanged herself in a closet.

When investigators uncovered the whole story, the public was outraged because there was nothing to charge Lori Drew with.  So they passed local ‘cyberbullying’ laws while the Congress debated national legislation.

The law would prohibit using the Internet to “coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.”   

The Omega Letter regularly causes emotional distress to somebody.  It is not possible to stay true to the Word of God without causing emotional distress in some quarters.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ ‘is the way, the truth and the life, and that no man comes to the Father’ but by Jesus.  That can cause a substantial amount of emotional distress to those who believe otherwise.

After all, if the only way to heaven is through Jesus and one is a non-Christian, that means that no matter how many times a day they pray or perform other religious duties, then they won’t make it. But saying so is offensive.

Three felonies a day.  I can do that standing on my head.

Assessment:

One might assign evil intent to lawmakers but I don’t think so.  In the Megan Meier case, one can only assume that lawmakers were genuinely attempting to right a wrong while ensuring protection for other potential victims.

But there is another law in operation here, known as the Law of Unintended Consequences.  The Bible explains it this way.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” 

It is a principle God thought was so important that He included it twice – Proverbs 14:12 and again in Proverbs 16:25.   

There are so many different laws aimed at protecting so many different groups that it is all but impossible for a person to make his way through the day without breaking at least some of them. 

We’ve seen how easy it is for a clever prosecutor to identify a target and then look for a law to prosecute him under when Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby was charged with felony perjury because he couldn’t keep the details of a ten minute phone conversation from two years previous straight.

Libby was being investigated over the Valerie Plame Affair in which prosecutors were attempting to blame senior members of the Bush administration for ‘outing’ Plame as a CIA agent.

By the time Patrick Fitzgerald convened a grand jury, he already knew that the leak came from a career civil servant at the State Department and NOT anyone in the Bush administration.  The leaker, Richard Armitage, was not even a Bush supporter.

But once Fitzgerald identified his target (which was any senior member of the Bush administration), finding a law under which to prosecute him was child’s play.  

The Bible says that during the last days, being a Christian will once again become a crime as it was during the early days of the Church.  Under the present-day legal code, that is already true. 

It is illegal to preach or teach certain tenets of Christianity in public in America.  It isn’t “illegal” in the sense that there is a law making Christianity a crime – what is illegal is offering offense to a person – whether intended or not.

We are living in the last days before His return. Although the Rapture precedes the Tribulation judgments that is not the same thing as saying that nothing bad will happen as long as the Church is here. 

It only means that the Rapture will precede the revelation of the antichrist – not necessarily his system.  The concept of political correctness as we understand it today was among the first things Jesus addressed in His reply to the question, “what will be the sign of Thy coming”?

“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10)

Jesus said that when these things begin to come to pass, to look up and lift up our heads, for our redemption draws near.   For nine years, we’ve been recording on a daily basis events that dovetail precisely with the prophecies of Scripture for the last days.

When we started out, the idea that the Omega Letter would ever have to worry about censorship or that we would ever have to worry about being prosecuted for telling the truth was laughable.  That was then. This is now.

And thirteen years later, nobody is laughing anymore.

Note: In today’s Letter, Jack injects some of his humor into a frightening possibility in our future.  Wendy Wippel’s “Butterball Meets the Missing Link” shows that regardless of the lack of evidence, people will hold tight to their favorite lies.

The Final Trip

The Final Trip
Vol: 148 Issue: 27 Monday, January 27, 2014

Dr. Sam Parnia is two years into his three-year study of the biology behind the ‘out of body’ experiences reported by survivors of cardiac arrest that had been resuscitated after clinical ‘death’.

The study, known as AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation), involves the collaboration of 25 major medical centers through Europe, Canada and the U.S. and will examine some 1,500 survivors of cardiac arrest.

Dr. Parnia’s methodology is simple. Emergency rooms involved in the study were equipped with certain objects visible only from the ceiling, since the majority of those claiming out of body experiences said they could see what was going on as they hovered over their own bodies.

Dr. Parnia is one of the world’s leading expert on the scientific study of death. Dr. Pin Van Lommel is the other leading expert on death. 

Dr. Van Lommel’s interest in death was piqued in 1969 following the successful resuscitation of a patient. Everyone was very pleased, he said, except the patient, who was extremely disappointed.

Dr. Van Lommel described it this way:

He was extremely disappointed. He spoke of a tunnel, of colors, of a light, of a beautiful landscape and of music. He was very emotional.

At the time, nobody had heard of a near-death experience. Such a thing, an NDE, didn’t exist.

I’d never heard of anyone remembering things from the moments when they were in cardiac arrest — moments when they were, in fact, dead in scientific terms.

Truth be told, medical school taught me that such a thing is fundamentally impossible. To the medical mind, being unconscious means being unaware.

Later, I would learn that NDEs are part of many cultures, and figure in many religions throughout history. In 1986, I read a book about near-death experiences that got me asking how such a thing could happen, and was it perhaps more common than we knew.

I wanted to know the answers, and there was no scientific data out there to help me. So I did my own study, starting in 1988 with 344 cardiac-arrest survivors.

Of the patients in Dr.Van Lommel’s study, nearly one in five reported some kind of post-death experience. Some reported clear thoughts, memories, emotions and perceptions, others recalled things like light, tunnels, music or beautiful landscapes.

Such experiences, say the medical experts, are physically impossible.  Our thoughts and experiences are the result of chemical interactions taking place within the brain.  On death, the neurons stop firing.

As soon as the blood stops flowing, the cells go into a frenzy to keep themselves alive.  Cell damage begins in less than five minutes and within an hour, the damage is irreversible.   Theoretically, the human consciousness stops when the heart does. 

Not according to Dr. Van Lommel:

Near-death experiences defy current medical logic, which says all our thoughts and experiences are merely the result of electrochemical activity in our brains. When that electromechanical activity ceases, so, too, should our ability to feel and process sensation.

This phenomenon can no longer be scientifically ignored. It is an authentic occurrence that can’t be simply reduced to imagination, fear of death, hallucination, psychosis, the use of drugs, or oxygen deficiency.

Dr. Van Lommel’s team performed a secondary followup study with two groups of cardiac arrest survivors.  One group reported some kind of near death experience – the other group did not.

This study was designed to assess whether the transformation in attitude toward life and death following an NDE is the result of having an NDE or the result of the cardiac arrest itself. In this follow-up research into transformational processes after NDE, we found a significant difference between patients with and without an NDE. The process of transformation took several years to consolidate. Patients with an NDE did not show any fear of death, they strongly believed in an afterlife, and their insight in what is important in life had changed: love and compassion for oneself, for others, and for nature. They now understood the cosmic law that everything one does to others will ultimately be returned to oneself: hatred and violence as well as love and compassion. Remarkably, there was often evidence of increased intuitive feelings. Furthermore, the long lasting transformational effects of an experience that lasts only a few minutes was a surprising and unexpected finding.

Many patients were able to describe events taking place in the emergency room while they were dead. One patient recalled where a nurse had put his dentures when they were removed to intubate after he had been dead for thirty minutes.

Many patients reported experiencing a sort of ‘life review’ that involved every thought, word or deed ever committed during their lifetimes.   Others reported encountering deceased relatives.  

There was a universal resentment at being returned to their physical bodies. Those who reported a hellish experience later underwent a religious conversion.  All lost any fear of death.

I can confirm some of this from personal experience. An old friend passed away a few years back with a brain tumor that was only discovered after he inexplicably slipped into a coma that lasted for several weeks.

When he came back out of it, he was a different man. He told me about spending time with his dad.  He said it was the most wonderful experience he’d ever had.  He had zero fear of death thereafter. He told me he could hardly ‘wait to get back.’ 

Wylie died some months later, with his family around him.  By all accounts he was completely prepared. The hospice doctor was standing by to induce a coma from which Wylie would slip back into death.

Wylie was practically eager, his wife told me.

Assessment:

If these studies prove anything at all, they prove that there is more to this life than simply this physical existence.  Of course, as Christians, we already know that, but it is nice to have a little confirmatory science. 

What should we take away from this as Christians?   Are these experiences necessarily Biblical?  Nope. I don’t think so.   I don’t even think they necessarily have to be Divine. 

They could just as well be an enemy effort at lulling people into believing that salvation isn’t necessary and that everybody goes to a warm and fuzzy place.   

But what we should take away from this is the certain knowledge that you aren’t a body — you have a body.  You have a brain, but your brain is not your mind — it is your mind’s container.

Your mind is the repository of your consciousness, will and emotions – this is the soul – the part that continues after death.   If your soul’s spirit has been quickened, (made alive, or what we call ‘saved’) then to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  

If not, then your soul (mind, will and emotions) will be judged according to the things done in the body and cast into hell.  

Hell is no fairy tale.   It is not a religious bogey-man invented by churches to keep their congregants in line.  Hell is as real as heaven.  Jesus described it as the place where “the fire is never quenched and their worm dieth not.”

Heaven is a real place, too.   It is the place where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

As we approach the end of this present age, we are exhorted to look for the Rapture, the “Blessed Hope” when the Lord Himself will come for the Church and we will meet with the Lord in the air.   

It is the hope of every believer.

But in reality, death is really just an advance ticket to the Big Show. Those already dead return with the Lord and get their resurrection bodies first.  But they are already with the Lord.   

Everybody wants to go to heaven. But nobody wants to die. That’s why the Rapture’s called “The Blessed Hope.”

Because for a Christian, the only scary part being dead is getting that way.

Update: Dr. Sam Parnia is continuing his studies with project AWARE.  This Letter was originally published October 2, 2010.

The Dispensations And the Ages

The Dispensations And the Ages
Vol: 148 Issue: 25 Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15)

The first thing to notice is that if there is an admonition to ‘rightly’ divide the Word of truth, then that is to prevent dividing it ‘wrongly.’

Having established from Scripture the possibility of wrongly dividing the Word, we need to understand what Paul meant by ‘dividing’ the Word to begin with.

The clearest and most obvious division is the one between the Old and New Testaments. Pretty much everybody agrees on that, across the spectrum.

The Omega Letter’s doctrinal worldview is shaped primarily by Dispensationalism, or systematic theology.   Systematic theology views Scripture as unfolding progressive revelation and doctrine.

Dispensationalism means, “the act of dispensing or something dispensed; a specific arrangement or system by which something is dispensed.”  The ‘something’ being dispensed in this case is God’s message.

Dispensationalism is one of those doctrines, like pretribulationism or a pre-trib Rapture, that has no specific bearing on salvation or eternity, in the sense that one needn’t be a Dispensationalist or believe in a pre-Trib Rapture to be saved.

But you wouldn’t know it from the heated debates it spawns among Christians.  So I’ll say it again.  One need not accept either Dispensationalism or pretribulationism to be saved.  But without it, Bible prophecy loses its coherence.

One of the first objections offered to Dispensationalism is also one of the weakest – that Dispensationalism is a relatively recent doctrine.  It isn’t.  It is as old as the division of the Testaments.

But let’s stipulate that the modern understanding of Dispensationalism is relatively recent. If one wants to date it to Darby in the early 1800s or Clarence Larkin in the early 1900s, I’m ok with either one, because it makes no difference to the weakness of the argument.

Until the prophecies for the last days began to take shape in a coherent form, there was nothing around which to form a systematic understanding.

There was no need to seek a deeper understanding of the Scriptures until one became aware of existing misunderstandings.  

The misunderstanding of the Law of Moses wasn’t apparent until Jesus delivered, or dispensed the Good News of the Gospel and explained the purpose for the Law.

The Law was given to convict sinners so that they would recognize the need for salvation by faith, since the Law proves salvation by keeping the works of the law an impossible mission.    

The division between the Dispensation of the Law and the Dispensation of Grace could not be plainer. But when the signs pointing to the soon return of Christ started to take shape, so did the prophetic outline. 

The doctrine isn’t of recent origin, but I’ll stipulate that its rise to prominence is as recent as the resurgence of prophetic fulfillment that demanded its exploration.  

Assessment:

Although we often use them interchangeably, (myself included) there is a distinct difference between an “Age” and a “Dispensation”.  An Age is marked by a period of cataclysmic change to the earth, like the Flood or the change at the 2nd Coming that ushers in the Millennium.

Properly, there are three Ages;  Antediluvian (before the flood)  this present Age (Age of human government: Flood to 2nd Coming) and the Age of Ages (2nd Coming to the New Earth)

But there are seven Dispensations of God’s revelation to man.  God’s administration to man changes as God progressively reveals Himself. 

The Dispensations are divided thusly:

Dispensation of Innocence: It is important to understand the difference between innocence and righteousness.  Innocence cannot be righteousness (or holiness) until tested.  Innocence is one step from either holiness or sin.   Adam failed the test, beginning the next dispensation.

Dispensation of Conscience:  During the Age of Conscience, God permitted man to do as his own conscience dictated.

It shows what man will do when guided only by his conscience. Adam and Eve had no conscience before the “Fall.” Conscience is a knowledge of good and evil, and this Adam and Eve did not have until they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Conscience may produce fear and remorse, but it will not keep men from doing wrong, for conscience imparts no “power.” 

Dispensation of the Patriarchs:  This extended from the call of Abraham through the Exodus, when God gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai.

Dispensation of the Law: This Dispensation began with Moses and lasted for roughly 1500 years before it ended when the Messiah was ‘cut off, but not for Himself,” rending the Temple curtain at the Crucifixion.     

Dispensation of Grace:  This present Dispensation began at Pentecost and is distinguished by the unique indwelling of believers by the Holy Spirit.  During this Dispensation, individual salvation is extended to “whosoever will” by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, ‘lest any man should boast’ (of his own righteousness).  (Ephesians 2:8-9) 

The Dispensation of Grace ends with the withdrawal of the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit at the Rapture (together with the indwelt Church), which allows for the man of sin to be indwelt by Satan.  This begins the 70th Week of Daniel;

The Dispensation of Judgment, the Tribulation:   There are three groups that face concurrent judgments during the Tribulation, not as individuals, but nationally or corporately.

The first to face judgment will be the Church caught up at the Rapture and judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ at the beginning of the Tribulation. (2nd Corinthians 5:10).

Obviously, if the Church is being judged at the Bema Seat, they can’t also be under the judgment of Tribulation.

This period is known as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 3:4-7, Daniel 12:1) during which time the Jews will be judged during the Tribulation under antichrist and saved nationally at the 2nd Coming.

The third group to face judgment during the Tribulation are the Gentile nations.  The Gentiles will be judged at the end by Jesus and divided into ‘sheep’ and ‘goat’ nations based on how they treated Israel.

The ‘goats’ will be destroyed on the spot.  The ‘sheep’ will be permitted to enter the next Dispensation, (which is also an “Age”)

The Millennial Kingdom:  This is a Dispensation in that it marks a shift in God’s relationship to man (Jesus rules Personally) and an Age, in that it marks the end of Human Government at His cataclysmic Return. 

Bible prophecy follows a beautifully organized, progressively revealed plan whose Divine nature is revealed in that it can only be read from back to front;

“telling the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done.”  (Isaiah 46:9-10)

I would not be afraid to mount the argument that there has been more Divine revelation concerning unfolding Bible prophecy in the past six decades than in all the centuries from the conclusion of the Book of Revelation to the restoration of Israel in 1948.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the divisions between each of the Dispensations are distinct and identifiable.  The Dispensation of Grace is clearly divided in Scripture from the Dispensation of Judgment.

The Bible clearly identifies three separate judgments during the Tribulation Period and three different groups to be judged. Each is judged differently and each judgment is rendered at a different time. 

The Jews are judged under antichrist during the Tribulation and are redeemed by the Messiah (Zechariah 12:10) at its conclusion.

The Gentile nations are judged at the end by Jesus Christ, with the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left.  The sheep nations are permitted to go on into the Millennial Kingdom

The Church is judged at the beginning of the Tribulation at the Judgment Seat of Christ which is then followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb.   

Do you see the systematic nature of Bible prophecy? Bible prophecy is by definition Divine revelation, and for the generation that witnesses it unfold, that revelation is progressive; more is revealed with each passing day.

However, if the Church is physically present during the judgment of the Tribulation, the system collapses. 

There is no explanation for how the Church can be overcome by Satan as recorded in Revelation 13:7 without directly contradicting the promise of 1st John 4:4.

John tells me that He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world. 

But the Tribulation Saints are overcome by Satan.  Is He that is in me also in them? If so, this is impossible.  If not, but I am present at that time, is He still in me?  

If He is, then I cannot be overcome.  If He is not, then He forsook me before Jesus came, directly breaking His Promise.

Returning to my earlier point, NOBODY is saved according to what they believe about the Rapture or the Tribulation.   We are saved by grace through faith in the finished Work of the Cross, not by our understanding of Bible prophecy.

But Paul called Timothy “a workman” – a laborer of Christ.  As such, his toolbox is the Word of Truth.  Not all Christians are called to be workmen.  And not all Christians heed the call they are given.

But if one is to be a workman for Christ, he will only be as good as his tools.  I’ve examined the other toolboxes carefully and repeatedly to see if I could find evidence of a similarly clear system. 

Scripture says that God is not the Author of confusion. But the moment that one erases the line between the Dispensation of Grace and the Dispensation of Judgment, the system of progressively unfolding revelation collapses into confusion. 

Where is the Holy Spirit?  I am still indwelt? Are the Tribulation Saints?  Can they be overcome?  Can I be overcome?   What about the Promise? 

Am I judged under the Cross at the Bema Seat?  By antichrist during the Tribulation?  Or both?  Or at the end, with the sheep and goats?  Or must I endure all three judgments?  

Bible prophecy, systematic theology and Dispensationalism are mutually dependent disciplines in that one cannot fully understand any one of them without a grasp of all three.

You needn’t believe it to be saved.  But you do if you want to understand Bible prophecy. 

You can try to invent your own system — lots of them do.   Look at the all the failed efforts to pinpoint the date of the Rapture or to identify the antichrist.    

And in the end, they were all wrong.   The dates came and went.  The candidates rose and then fell. If these workmen weren’t ashamed, they should have been.  

The Apostle Peter explained, “Knowing this first”  that the prophecies of Scripture are of no ‘private interpretation’.  That particular Scripture is often used to refute Pre-tribulational Dispensationalist doctrine by those who have what amounts to their own different and therefore private interpretation.

They were sincere.  But they stepped outside of Scriptural boundaries as necessary to make their scenario work. Those workmen failed to rightly divide the Word.  

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.” (Colossians 1:25-26)

It wasn’t the Bible that was wrong.  But that’s not what their disappointed students thought.

Originally published: May 11, 2010

Faith Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing as Stupid

Faith Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing as Stupid
Vol: 148 Issue: 24 Friday, January 24, 2014

It is no stretch to say that the world as we know it is in trouble, to say the least.  To say the most would be to say that we’re witnessing our physical world, our environment and human culture heading into the early stages of demise.

If our world were a human being, we’d be wondering whether that cough we just heard was the first telltale sign of terminal lung cancer, or whether it was beginning to show signs of succumbing to old age. 

If the earth really is millions, if not billions of years old, and if humanity has been here for a million years or more, then the ‘old age’ argument seems kind of weak.  This sense of impending planetary doom has only been around since about 1948, when we invented stuff like atomic bombs and television.

Before that, it seemed as if the world would go on forever.  Prior to that, there was no planetary sense of impending doom.  There were no marches aimed at saving the planet.  There were no symposiums to discuss the sustainability of life on earth. 

Nobody was afraid of cow flatulence, air pollution, rising seas, global warming, solar flares, planet-killing asteroids or the death of the oceans, prior to 1948.  Prior to 1948, there was no general sense of an impending mass extinction event.

Prior to 1948 there was no Doomsday Clock.  While a Doomsday “midnight” was not even on the horizon prior to 1948, in the years since, the Doomsday Clock’s hands remain set at just before midnight.

And so, to return to the earlier point, sixty or seventy years out of a million years or more is like a split second taken out of a month of Sundays.  On that scale, what we observe during that split second of existence is like hearing a single cough and diagnosing a case of terminal lung cancer.

On the other hand, if the earth is much closer to being just six thousand years old, then the slice of time in which we are making these observations is more significant.  But how could the earth be just six thousand years old? 

More than that, what about the universe?  For example, if God created the universe six thousand years ago, then how can one explain light years?   A light year is the amount of distance a beam of light can travel in a solar calendar year.  

Today a beam of light (in a vaccum) can travel some six trillion miles in one year.  So six trillion miles is a light year and Alpha Centauri, our closest cosmic neighbor, is 4.37 light years away. Expressed as a number, that is 26,000,000,000,000 miles away.

BUT, any effort to estimate the age of anything necessarily involves a number of assumptions; where to start measuring, constancy of rates, contamination of the system, on so on. 

If any of these assumptions are wrong, then so, too are the conclusions reached. Take light years, for example.

If we assume that the current light speed has always been what it is today, then we reach one figure.  If we make that assumption incorrectly, then the universe could be much younger.

But we don’t know if light speed has always been constant — it could have moved more quickly in the past.  And changing the speed of light changes EVERYTHING, like the ratio of mass to energy, for example.

Science doesn’t know.  It assumes.

Another assumption is that time has always flowed at the same rate, a seemingly reasonable assumption.  But Einstein discovered that the rate at which time passes is affected by motion and by gravity.

For example, when an object moves very fast, close to the speed of light, its time is slowed down.  This is called “time-dilation.”  So, if we were able to accelerate a clock to nearly the speed of light, that clock would tick very slowly.  If we could somehow reach the speed of light, the clock would stop completely.

Likewise, gravity slows the passage of time.  A clock at sea-level would tick slower than one on a mountain, since the clock at sea-level is closer to the source of gravity.

The 2006 Indonesian earthquake that spawned the killer tsunami also shifted the earth on its axis slightly, affecting the space-time continuum and causing the earth to move several microseconds forward in time. 

So in real-world conditions, we have empirical evidence that time is not always a constant, even if by microseconds.  Now the question isn’t whether time is reliable, (we just proved it isn’t) but rather, it is a question of how reliable?

Since time can flow at different rates from different points of view, events that would take a long time as measured by one person will take very little time as measured by another person. This also applies to distant starlight.

Light that would take billions of years to reach earth (as measured by clocks in deep space) could reach earth in only thousands of years as measured by clocks on earth.

Imagine that a plane leaves a certain city at 4:00 p.m. for a two-hour flight. However, when the plane lands, the time is still 4:00. Since the plane arrived at the same time it left, we might call this an instantaneous trip.  Except that the plane crossed two time zones.

Still, it was 4:00 pm when you left, and it is 4:00 pm when you arrived two hours later, as measured by universal time, not local time.  There is a cosmic equivalent to local and universal time.  Light traveling toward earth is like the plane traveling west; it always remains at the same cosmic local time.

Since God created the stars on Day 4, their light would leave the star on Day 4 and reach earth on Day 4 cosmic local time.  Light from all galaxies would reach earth on Day 4 if we measure it according to cosmic local time.

Someone might object that the light itself would experience billions of years (as the passenger on the plane experiences the two hour trip).  Except that according to Einstein’s relativity theory, light does not experience the passage of time.

So the trip would be instantaneous.

Another assumption made by science is the assumption that all phenomena can be explained in natural terms.  That assumption by definition excludes the supernatural, an assumption whose flaws are self-evident.

God can, and usually does, use natural laws to accomplish His will, which is the reason that we have a word for when He does not — supernatural.  Since God is supernatural, He is capable of acting outside natural law.

This certainly applies during Creation Week.  God created the universe supernaturally.  He created it from nothing, not from previously existing material.  Today, we do not see God speaking into existence new stars or new kinds of creatures.

God ended His work of creation by the seventh day.  Today, God sustains the universe in a different way than He created it.  The naturalist erroneously assumes that the universe was created by the same processes by which it operates today.

Of course it would be absurd to apply this assumption to most other things.

A light bulb converts electricity into light, but it does not follow that electricity created the light bulb.

Since the stars were created during Creation Week and since God made them to give light upon the earth, the way in which distant starlight arrived on earth may have been supernatural.

Assuming that past acts of God are necessarily understandable in terms of a current scientific mechanism is misleading, because science can only probe the way in which God sustains the universe today.

It is irrational to argue that a supernatural act from the past cannot be true on the basis that it cannot be explained by natural processes observed today.

Assessment:

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

To summarize briefly before moving on, let’s recap what we know and what we don’t know.

We know the Bible says the universe was created in six days.  We don’t know what the speed of light was at the time of creation, so we cannot categorically say that light and distance prove otherwise.

We know that the act of creation was by supernatural means.  We don’t know at what point God spoke the natural laws that now govern the universe into existence.  We know, for example, that science argues the Big Bang created the universe from a single pinpoint.

Evolutionists and proponents of Big Bang compress time, space and matter into the head of a pin, then take the opposite position to argue that the distance between the stars dates the universe. 

In the 1650’s an Anglican bishop named James Ussher published his “Annals of the World“. Bishop Ussher was no ordinary man, but one who was unmistakably blessed with incredible intelligence and insight that he devoted entirely to the study of God’s Word.  (By age 26, Ussher was chair of the Divinity Department at Dublin University.)

While that in and of itself would be worthy of a lifetime achievement award, Ussher went on to full professorship, served as vice-chancellor of Trinity College twice, and, by age 44, was elevated to the rank of Archbishop of Armagh, the highest position in the Irish Anglican Church.

The point is that Bishop Ussher was not just a smart man.  He was an intellectual giant who used his God-given gifts to advance the understanding of God’s Word.

Bishop Ussher’s “Annals of the World” begins at the point of creation, which he determined was October 23, 4004 BC.

Ussher’s arrival at the date of October 23 was determined based on the fact that most peoples of antiquity, especially the Jews, started their calendar at harvest time.

Ussher concluded there must be good reason for this, so he chose the first Sunday following autumnal equinox.

Although the autumnal equinox is September 21 today, that is only because of historical calendar-juggling to make the years come out right.

In September 1752, eleven days were dropped to bring the calendar back in line with the seasons.  Another day was dropped at the beginning of the 19th and 20th century for the same reason.

Ussher’s calculations, made centuries before these adjustments, are vindicated by them.  Pretty impressive stuff for a guy working by candlelight centuries before the advent of a calculator.

The reason Ussher’s work is so accurate was because he relied solely on Scripture as his source of information.

Ussher arrived at the date of 4004 BC by taking known dates in history, and calculating backwards by using the chronologies of Genesis Chapters 5 and 11 and working backwards.  The calculations themselves were so complicated that, in the original documents, they covered more than one hundred pages.

Using Bishop’s Ussher’s calculations, the Prophet Hosea lived from 3197 to 3246, or, BC 808 to 759.  Ussher’s dating is expressed in standard years, although he worked from the perspective of the ancient calendar of twelve months of thirty days each.

At the end of each year, the ancients tacked on five days, and every four years they added six days.  The prophet Hosea wrote,

 “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.” (Hosea 6:1-2)

Further on, the prophet predicted;

“Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.” (6:11)

Hosea began with the Promise of God that “He will heal us and bind us up” — a promise that was fulfilled with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. We date our own calendar counting forward from Christ.

So does God, which brings us back to Hosea’s prophecy. “After two days will He revive us, and in the third day, raise us up,” writes the prophet. Twice in Scripture, God reveals His own reckoning of time.

“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4)

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that ONE DAY is with the Lord AS A THOUSAND YEARS, and a thousand years as one day.” (2nd Peter 3:8)

Using Scripture to make the calculations, Bishop Ussher’s calculation of creation as being 4004 years before Christ isn’t based on the year of Christ’s Birth. But Hosea’s prophecy IS.

Israel’s physical revival has been an ongoing process for sixty-four years as the world’s Jews, including members of the Ten Lost Tribes, are being re-gathered to the land of Israel. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s redemption process is almost complete.

Hosea said of the Jews, ‘AFTER two days will He revive us, and IN the third day . . we will live in His sight.’ And the Apostle Peter taught that;

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

It is clear that God is extending His ‘grace period’ (the Church Age of Grace) to give all men one last chance to accept the gift of pardon that He extends to them, but it is equally clear that His patience is being rapidly exhausted.

Bishop Ussher gave us at least as reasonable an estimate for the age of the earth as the most careful scientific calculations can, given that both arguments are based on assumptions.  The secular scientist assumes that all his calculations are universally correct going back into the impossible, unknowable and incalculable reaches of time.

Bishop Ussher’s calculations were based on the assumption that the Bible is true.  So here’s the deal.

Science used to think the world was flat.  Wrong assumption.  The Bible, on the other hand, always maintained the earth is round.  

Science used to assume that light was static.  It appeared and disappeared, depending.  But the Bible teaches that light is in motion.

Science used to assume that wind moved in a straight line.  But the Bible teaches that wind blows in a circular pattern.  (Ecclesiastes 1:6

Science once assumed air was weightless.  Job 28:25 reveals that the wind has weight.  

We don’t know everything.  We aren’t supposed to know everything.  We are supposed to live by faith.  Here is something else we know.  In every instance where the Bible can be fact-checked on matters of history, archeology, medicine, science, and times and dates, the Bible checks out accurately.

No single claim of Scripture has ever been conclusively disproved, despite the best efforts of every generation of scientists and skeptics since the Bible was first compiled.

If all of science’s assumptions are right, then so are the conclusions reached.  But since science can be wrong, and often is, putting one’s faith in science is what it is.

Faith doesn’t mean the same thing as stupid.

Note: Today’s Letter takes on the question of faith; but faith in who or what?  Alf Cengia’s column, “That Cosmic Conspiracy” also challenges our hearts and minds with where our belief rests.