Friday, October 18, 2019

Wider Circulation of Dreams

A follower of Jesus will sometimes believe that the dream is for the wider body of Christ, or for their nation. When a dream that speaks to the dreamer is shared with the wider body of Christ the processes for interpretation and testing of the dream are different. The dream should be submitted to the elders who oversee the dreamer. In a way, the dreamer loses control of their dream.

The content of the dream cannot be challenged, because the dreamer saw what they saw. However, two questions need to be answered.

  • Is the dream appropriate for sharing with the church or the nation? It should only be circulated if the dream is from God and the interpretation is relevant to the people who will read it.
  • Is the interpretation clear and correct? The message of the dream usually comes through the interpretation, so it is important that the interpretation is accurate.
If a dream is to be shared widely, then the interpretation needs to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If it comes from the flesh, the interpretation could lead the body of Jesus astray, even if the dream is from God. This means that the interpretation should be tested in the same was as a prophecy is tested.

A prophecy and the interpretation of a dream are both messages from God mediated by the Holy Spirit, so they can both be subject to human error. For the protection of God’s voice, they need to be tested. We must guard against assuming that because a dream is vivid and clear that its interpretation is clear.

People can be mistaken about the interpretation of a dream. The person who received the dream will be likely to interpret it through their own experience. This is fine if it is a message for the dreamer, but it is dangerous if the dream is for the wider church.

When a person gives their dream to the body of Jesus for its edification, they lose control of the interpretation of the dream. The church is responsible for ascertaining that the dream is appropriate for sharing, and that the interpretation is correct. In some cases, the elders of the church may decide that the dream should be shared, but propose a different interpretation that they believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If the dreamer objects to that interpretation, they could ask the elders not to share the dream. The elders should respect such a request.

Testing Dreams

God speaks through dreams, so it is important that we understand them well. This means that interpretation and testing of dreams is essential.

Some dreams are personal. Others are for the body of Christ or for a nation.

Testing Dreams
The interesting thing about a dream is that the content of the dream cannot really be challenged. The reality is that the dreamer saw what they saw in the dream, and no one can say they are wrong about what they have seen.

The most that a friend can do is challenge the source of dream. An insightful friend might suggest that a dream did not come from God, but came from the spiritual powers of evil. They might say that it came from the dreamer’s flesh, perhaps because they had overeaten.

The other problem with the content of a dream is that the dreamer might not have recorded it accurately or clearly. They might accidently leave out some key details from their account of the dream. Gentile questions by an honest fiend might clarify the details of the dream.

Interpretation of Private Dreams
The interpretation of a dream is different, because it is a human activity with potential for error, so testing of the interpretation of a dream is essential.

If the message of the dream is personal, the person receiving the dream will often be in the best position to interpret it, because they have the context within which it was received. If the dream is for their guidance, their current situation and the experience they are going through will be important for understanding the dream.

If the person receiving the dream is unable to interpret it, they should seek advice from a friend with insight into dream.

Once the interpretation of a dream has been worked out, a wise person will seek confirmation from others whom they trust that the interpretation is correct, before acting on the interpretation of their dream.

We tend to assume that a message received through a dream can always be trusted, because the message came directly from God without human intervention. However, the message of a dream is understood through interpretation and that is a human task that can go wrong. So, testing of dreams is as essential as testing as prophecies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nagel on Value

In his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel says that the materialist world view cannot explain human moral values.

Real value—good and bad, right and wrong—is another of those things like consciousness and cognition, that seem at first sight incompatible with evolutionary naturalism in its familiar materialism form (p.97).

Value judgments and moral reasoning are part of human life, and therefore part of the factual evidence about what humans are capable of. The interpretation of faculties such as these is inescapably relevant to the task of discovering the best scientific or cosmological account of what we are and how we came into existence (p.106).

We are the subjects of judgment-sensitive attitudes, and those judgments have a subject matter beyond themselves. We exist in a world of values and respond to them through normative judgments that guide our actions. This, like our more general cognitive capacities, is a higher development of our nature as conscious creatures (p.114).

We Know Better

Matt Taibbi gives an interesting warning in article called Permanent Coup.

I am not a great fan of Donald Trump. His morals are weak and his Christian faith seems to be convenient. Some of his business practices were probably corrupt. However, all this was well known when he was elected President, by a process that complied to the constitution, even if it was not totally fair.

So, I find it bizarre that from the day he entered office, and perhaps before, the Washington establishment and the security system were trying to undermine his presidency, as if they knew better than the people who voted. It seems like his presidency will be corrupted from beginning to end.

If they believe in democracy and a system with presidential power, I don’t understand why the political establishment would work so hard to invalidate the outcome of an election, especially when it limits the ability of the president to act at critical times.

Some of Donald Trump's policies have been unwise. He has appointed some odd people to his team (perhaps there are few with the necessary experience that he can trust). But why waste energy on a drawn-out impeachment process, when the people can decide if he is not fit for office in the election next year. Surely that is the democratic solution.

I presume that part of this hostility is payback for Obama. His presidency was weakened, not just by his inexperience, but also by accusations about his birth certificate and being a secret Moslem.

I can only presume that the next Democrat elected as president will have a torrid time, as Trump supporters go for payback too.
All this bad behaviour makes a powerful nation look foolish. Jesus said,

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand (Mark 3:24).
Thinking about where all this rancour, lying and media manipulation will lead is scary.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Fed Actions Speak Loudly

Last week, in addition to pumping $82.7B to prop up the repo market, the Federal Reserve announced it would be expanding its balance sheet with a $60B/month Treasury buying operation for the next few months.

Sven Henrich of the Northman Trader notes that this is equivalent to $720B a year. He explains that this is more than the entire US military budget, the largest military budget on the planet.

He comments,

Take these actions and place them anywhere else in history (2000, 2007, any time) and this would be called an emergency intervention program.
This raises a serious question. If the US economy is as strong as the government is claiming, why is the Fed taking such serious actions? Actions usually speak louder than words.

Kurds and Syria

Christians who have watched a few news clips, but often know very little history, are getting stirred up about the Kurds, and claiming that Donald Trump is betraying them. They want US troops to remain and protect them.

I don’t often say this, but on this one, Donald Trump is right. Further US meddling in Syria, whatever the motivation, will just add more harm to the harm that the US has done in the region.

A few myths about Syria and the Kurds need to be exposed.

  • More of the same will not help in Syria. The UK, France and the United States got involved in Syria in another of their “regime change” plans. The game plan was for their special forces to train fighters to be paid with Saudi money to fight against the Syrian government. They allowed Turkey to channel a large number of Sunni jihadis from all of the world to support their plan.

  • Like most US war efforts in recent years, this vile plan failed when the US, French and UK special forces ended up training, supplying and paying radical Sunni Moslem groups associated with Al Qaeda. This has been a disaster for the Syrian people that the nation will take years to recover from, long after CNN has lost interest.

  • The Kurds have a long history of being manipulated and used by Western powers, and then being betrayed. Nothing has changed. The US, UK and France will no allow a Kurdish political state to be established on the borders of their NATO ally Turkey. To establish a better future, the Kurds should stop relying on fickle Western powers, and learn to live at peace with the people they live among.

  • Before the first World War, some Kurds assisted Turkey with their persecution of Assyrian and Armenian Christians. This is one reason why they are not trusted by their neighbours.

  • Donald Trump did not defeat ISIS, despite his claims. The US unwittingly contributed to the emergence of ISIS when it treated Sunni allies in Iraq really badly, by using them, and then deserting them. With more rational policies, ISIS would never have existed.

  • The United States cynically and deliberately allowed ISIS to advance deep into Syria in an attempt to bring down President Bashar al-Assad. Unfortunately, this plan unravelled, when ISIS got out of control.

  • Although not reported by the Western Media, by the time Trump got serious about defeating ISIS, most of the hard fighting against ISIS was done by the Syrian Arab Army west of the Euphrates, and Shia militias in Iraq, while the US just dropped bombs.

  • The US allowed ISIS to gain control the important Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, by bombing the besieged Syrian defenders, then pretending it was a mistake.

  • The Kurds did not defeat ISIS, as many of the western media are claiming. They were mostly reluctant fighters. They only fought seriously, if they were paid more money.

  • Rather than engaging in street by street fighting, their tactic was to block the roads out of a town or city, and then wait while the US bombed the crap out of the people within, civilians and ISIS fighters. When the pressure got too intense, they let the ISIS forces escape in the direction that US advisers wanted them to go. This is why so many ISIS forces are still free and ready to fight.

  • The ancient Syrian city of Raqqah was almost wrecked by US bombing using this tactic. Large numbers of civilians were killed.

  • Many of the areas currently controlled by the Kurdish forces are populated by Arab peoples, not Kurds. They are being held as bargaining chips. In a few places, Kurdish forces have engaged in ethnic cleansing.

  • The Kurds have been well paid for every battle the fought. They have kept their uniforms training and massive amounts of military equipment that the US supplied them for their work.

  • Christians who are worried about the persecution of local Christians have woken up a bit later. The radical Sunni groups that the US supported in Syria have been persecuting Christians and destroying churches in Syria for years. Church’s with links back to the days of Paul in Damascus have brutally treated. I cannot understand why a Christian nation would support groups that are hostile to Christian, but the US did the same in Iraq too.

  • The Western media do not acknowledge it, but President Assad has led a secular government that protects all religious minorities. He is the one who has been seriously protecting Christians, but liberal western media are not interest in that.

The US, French and UK should get out of Syria, before they do more harm, and let the Syrian people decide their own fate. So, I am pleased that Donald Trump is at lost doing what he promised to do before the election, and withdrawing from his nation’s stupid war.
Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, the US is imposing sanction on Syria to prevent the destruction and infrastructure that they destroyed from being rebuilt. That is ugly.

I cannot understand why a superpower that cannot govern itself, and is tearing itself apart, thinks that it should decide what is good for other nations. The evidence of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, not to mention Cambodia and Vietnam, show that these do-good efforts produce greater disasters, than the problem they try to solve.

According to the news today, the Syrian Arab Army is moving into areas of NE Syria to protect the Kurds from the Turkish invasion. If this is confirmed, it is their best hope. Over the last fifty years, Syria has accepted large numbers of Kurdish refugees and given many of them citizenship, which few other nations are willing to do. Hopefully, the western trouble makers will allow this to happen and not destabilise this negotiated peace to spite the Russians who have helped it happen.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Book Is About To Close On The Late Great United States Of America

Michael Snyder in the Book is About to Close on The Late Great United States off America says:

We live at a time when “evil” is called “good” and “good” is called “evil”, and just about every form of human degradation that you can possibly imagine is absolutely exploding in our society. For years I have been warning that if we stay on the path that we are currently on, there is no future for America. I think that a lot of people assumed that I was exaggerating, but I wasn’t. Other societies throughout human history have believed that they could stay ahead of the consequences of their evil ways, but of course the truth is that justice is a relentless predator. We have completely rejected all of the values that this nation was founded upon, we have embraced wickedness on an industrial scale, and the blood of millions upon millions of our victims cries out to us from the ground. And those that would dare to warn us to turn from our evil ways are some of the most hated members of our entire society.
I doubt that dreams shared towards the end of the article will appear on the Elijah List.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Nagel on Cognition

In his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel says that the materialist world view cannot explain human cognition and why it is reliable.

The natural internal stance of human life assumes that there is a real world, that many questions, both factual and practical, have correct answers, and that there are norms of thought which, if we follow them will tend to lead us toward the correct answers to those question. It assumes that to follow those norms is to respond correctly to values or reasons that we apprehend. Mathematics, science and ethics are built on such norms.

It is very difficult to make sense of all this in traditional naturalistic terms. This points to a further expansion of our conception of the natural order to include not only the source of phenomenological consciousness—sensation, perception and emotion—but also the source of our active capacity to thing our way beyond those starting points (p.72).

But once we come to recognise the distinction between appearance and reality, and the existence of objective factual or practical truth that goes beyond what perception, appetite, and emotion tell us, the ability of creatures like us to arrive at such truth, or even to think about it, requires explanation (p.73).

The likelihood that a process of natural selection would have generated creatures with the capacity to discover by reason the truth about reality that extends far beyond the initial appearances, as we take ourselves to have done and to continue to do collectively in science, logic, and ethics. Is it credible that selection for fitness in the prehistoric past should have fixed capacities that are effective in theoretical pursuits that were unimaginable at the time (p.74)?

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Nagel on Consciousness

In the later chapters of his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel claims that the current materialist model cannot explain the human mind, consciousness, rationality or moral assessment.

Consciousness is the most conspicuous obstacle to a comprehensive naturalism that relies on the resources of physical science. The existence of consciousness seems to imply that the physical description of the universe, in spite of its richness and explanatory power, is only part of the truth, and that the natural order is far less austere than it would be if physics and chemistry accounted for everything. If we take this problem seriously, and follow out its implications, it threatens to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture (p.35).

Mechanisms of belief that have a selective advantage in the everyday struggle for existence do not warrant our confidence in the construction of theoretical accounts of the world as a whole. I think the evolutionary hypothesis would imply that although our cognitive capabilities could be reliable, we do not have the kind of reason to rely on them that we ordinarily take ourselves to have in using them directly—as we do in science. In particular, it does not explain why we are justified in relying on it to correct other cognitive dispositions that lead us astray, though they may be equally natural, and equally susceptible to evolutionary explanation. The evolutionary story leaves the authority of reason in a much weaker position. This is even more clearly true of our moral and other normative capacities—on which we rely to correct our instincts (p.28).

Our own existence presents us with the fact that somehow the world generates conscious beings capable of recognising reasons for action and belief, distinguishing some necessary truths and evaluating the evidence for alternative hypotheses about the natural order. We don’t know how why this happens, but it is hard not to believe there is some explanation of a systemic kind—an expanded account of the order of the world.

We go on using perception and reason to construct scientific theories of the natural world even though we do not have a convincing external account of why those faculties exist that is consist with or confidence in their reliability (p.31).

An account of their biological evolution must explain the appearance of conscious organisms as such.

Since a purely materialist explanation cannot do this, the materialist version of evolution theory cannot be the whole truth. Organisms such as ourselves do not just happen to be conscious. Therefore, no explanation even of the physical character of those organisms can be adequate which is not also an exploration of their mental character. In other words, materialism is incomplete even as a theory of the physical world, since the physical world includes conscious organisms among its most striking occupants.

So long as the mental is irreducible to the physical, the appearance of conscious physical organisms is left unexplained by a naturalist account of the familiar type. On a purely materialist understanding of biology, consciousness would have to be regarded as a tremendous and inexplicable extra brute fact about the world.

Selection for physical reproductive fitness may have resulted in the appearance of organisms that are in fact conscious, and that have the observable variety of different specific kinds of consciousness, but there is no physical explanation of why this is so, nor any other explanation that we know of. (p. 45).

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Seasons

Our lives are affected by various types of season.

  • The natural seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring have different effects in different parts of the world. Their impact has declined as people have moved away from rural areas into cities with air conditioning and urban transport.

  • Each life has changing seasons: birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parent, grandparent, waning, death.

  • The Christian life has season: new birth, growing spiritually, mature servant of God, wise elder (1 John 2).

  • Churches pass through seasons: first love, overcoming, luke-warm, compromised lamp removed (Rev 2,3).

  • The most common pattern of seasons that nations, churches and people can pass through are blessing, forgetfulness, idolatry, rebellion, curse, disaster, repentance, rescue, obedience/blessing (Deut 8).

But one thing is certain. The Holy Spirit does not go through seasons. He does not have a season where he cannot be bothered doing anything and another when he is keen to be active. The Holy Spirit is always active, seeking to advance the Kingdom of God, regardless of what season is people are in.
For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him (2 Chron 16:9).
If we are in a bad season, we should not be looking for the Holy Spirit to begin a new season, he does not, as he is always active. We should be striving to get back into the season of first love, of obedience and blessing, of mature servant, so he is free to work in our midst.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

God is not Erratic

I am uneasy about prophecies that say God is doing something new, this month or this year, that he has not done before. This makes him seem impulsive and erratic, which is not true.

God is not erratic. He knows what he is doing, and he has a plan.

If God is able to do something new that he has not done before, there are two possible reasons.

  • Something has changed in the spiritual realms. For example, God was able to pour out his spirit at Pentecost because Jesus had dealt with sin and ascended and sat down at the right hand of God. Before that, he could only send the spirit sporadically. Likewise, God was able to restore Israel in the time of Nehemiah, because the seventy sevens under judgement/curse were complete. Changes in the covenant conditions opened the way for God to do new things.

  • Humans have changed their attitudes/behaviour. God was able to send Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, because they humbled themselves and cried out to him for deliverance. The Holy Spirit fell on the household of Cornelius, because they turned to Jesus and sought his blessing (Acts 10:44). When humans turn to Jesus and change their behaviour, then the Holy Spirit is free to move.

We are not living in a time when Jesus had done something new (he continues to be seated at the right hand of God). We are not in a time when a season of curse/judgment on the earth is coming to an end. So if God is able to do something new in our time that he has not been able to do before, it will be due to the second reason. It will be due to changes in human attitudes or behaviour.

The implication of many prophecies is that the Holy Spirit will not move, until God has changed his mind. The reality is that he can only move in a fuller way, if we have changed our attitudes or behaviour. It depends on us, not on him.

If the Holy Spirit is not moving in the way that we would like, the problem is not with him, it is with us. He is not erratic, but we often are.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Thomas Nagel on Materialism

Thomas Nagel is an atheist and professor of philosophy at New York University. I have just read his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. The book is a hard read, but he has some interesting comments about the weakness of the evidence for evolution.

For a long time, I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes (p.5).

What is lacking, to my knowledge, is a credible argument that the story has a nonnegligible probability of being true. There are two questions. First given what is known about the chemical basis of biology and genetics, what is the likelihood that self-producing life forms should have come into existence spontaneously on the early earth, solely through the operations of the laws of physics and chemistry? The second question is about the sources of variation in the evolution process that was set in motion once life began. In the available geological time since the first life forms appeared on earth, what is the likelihood that, as a result of physical accident, a sequence of viable genetic mutations should have occurred that was sufficient to permit selection to produce the organisations that actually exist (p.6)?

The available evidence is very indirect, and general assumptions have to play an important part (p.7).

Doubts about the reductionist account of life go against the dominant scientific consensus, but that consensus faces problems of probability that I believe are not taken seriously enough, both with respect to the evolution of life forms through accidental mutation and natural selection, and with respect to the formation from dead matter of physical system capable of such evolution. The more we learn about the intricacy of the genetic code and its control of the chemical processes of life, the harder these problems seem.

Again; with regard to evolution, the process of natural selection cannot account for the actual history without and adequate supply of viable mutations, and I believe it remains an open question whether this could have been provided in biological time merely as a result of chemical accident without the operation of some other factors determining and restricting the forms of genetic variation.

With regard to the origin of life, the problem is much harder, since the option of natural selection as an explanation is not available. And the coming into existence of the genetic code—and arbitrary mapping of nucleotide sequences into amino acids, together with mechanisms that can read the code and carry out its instructions—seems particularly resistant to being revealed as provable given physical laws alone (p.10).

Friday, September 27, 2019

Promises

Jesus came to fulfil God’s promises to the Jews. Of course, part of that promise was that the Jews would bring blessing to the entire world. Unfortunately, most of the Jews rejected Jesus gift. However, God’s plan has not changed. The time will come when most of the Jews will come to faith in Jesus (the fullness of the Jews ), and they will then bring even greater blessing to the nations, by releasing the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Negative Interest Rates

Negative interest rates are immoral.

Interest rates are the price of the future.

Governments do not have authority to set prices. If the government tried to make me sell my house for $10,000, I would be very upset. If they set the price at which I could sell my car at $1000, I would be sure that was wrong.

Most people would prefer to put their house or car on the market and see what they could get. By forcing me to sell at a set price, the government is robbing me of the difference between that price and what I could get on the market. The ability to set prices, allows the government to rob one person for the benefit of another. Setting prices is a form of theft.

Setting a negative price for the future, governments are expressing a lack of confidence in the future.

By setting the price of money, the government is stealing from some people, for the benefit of others. By setting a negative price for the future, the government is robbing some people for the benefit of others. Debtors benefit, whereas savers suffer.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Angels and Spirits

When describing beings that exist in the spiritual world, the Bible uses words that we use to describe the physical world in which we live. It has to do this, because human language does not have words to describe the spiritual.

The word most often translated as “spirit” means breath or wind. (ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek). The wind is unseen, but has a powerful effect. Breathe is associated with life. These words tell us that spirit being have powerful effects on life, but it does not tell us anything about the substance from which they are made.

The same applies to the word for angel (malak in Hebrew and angelos in Greek). These words are often translated as angel, but the basic meaning is “messenger”. Malak describes a representative or ambassador who carries a message or represents another person. Some malak are spirit and others are physical (human). Many of the malak in the Old Testament are human. See Jos 6:25, Jud 11:14, 1 Sam 11:3.

The word malak or angelos tells us what these beings do: they carry messages and represent another person. The name does not tell us about the substance from which they are made. Spiritual messengers represent God, who is spirit, so they are spirit too.

Because we have seen movies and read illustrated Bible stories, we have a picture in our minds of what angels are like. We tend to think of an angel as a man (sometimes a woman) with wings and face that glows brightly. Those pictures go way beyond what the word malak and angelos mean.

The angels in the Old Testament could make themselves appear like humans when they came to talk to people. That explains how they appeared, but it does not tell us what they look like in the spiritual world where they operate. It tells us that they can operate between heaven and earth.

The word angel tells us nothing about the moral character of a being. Paul was attacked by a messenger (angelos) of Satan (2 Cor 12:7). Angels can be good and evil.

The word “seraph” is interesting. It is a Hebrew word (saraph) with no English equivalent, so Bible translators transliterate it as seraph. In Hebrew, seraph means burning or bright. So, the word tells us that these beings are hugely different from physical beings on earth, because they appear to be brighter than any physical being.

Cherub is another transliteration of a Hebrew word – kruwb. This Hebrew word is rare and no one really knows what it means. Artists and illustrators have tended to portray cherubim as childlike creatures with wings, so that is how we imagine them, but that goes way beyond the meaning of the word.

The Holy Spirit has allowed many people to see events in the spiritual realms, but he has to reveal them in a way that can be understood by people whose minds are locked in a three-dimensional world. Humans we live in a three-dimensional world, so that is the only way we can think. So, people who see into the spiritual world see it as if was three dimensional. They see it that way, because the Spirit has to reveal it to humans that way. If we saw it as it really is, we would just see it a blur, because our imaginations cannot see in multiple dimensions.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Why did Paul Die?

I have been reading again the story of Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts.

The thing that has struck me is that Paul was really keen to go back to Jerusalem before he went to Rome. This is odd, because I am sure he did not expect to change the minds of the people who were wanting to tag the Jewish rites onto the gospel. Or maybe he did hope to persuade them.

Anyway, as he travelled back to Jerusalem, he was warned in various places that this visit would end with his arrest and imprisonment.

And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me (Acts 20:22-23).
When he got to Caesarea, the warning was even more specific. A prophet named Agabus tied Paul’s belt around his feet, and said,
The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles (Acts 21:11).
His companions wanted Paul to stay away from Jerusalem, but Paul was not dissuaded.
I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13).
Clearly, the Holy Spirit warned Paul that he would be arrested, but also encouraged him to go on regardless. Why did the Holy Spirit lead Paul into a situation where he would be imprisoned for several years? This would place a dampener on his ministry and limit his ability to preach the gospel and strengthen churches. It would prevent him from taking the gospel to Spain as he had planned. It seems like the waste of a good man.

My guess is that the reason the Holy Spirit allowed Paul to be imprisoned was that his ministry had been so effective that he was in danger of becoming an archbishop or mini-pope. He had planted numerous churches. The believers in those churches look up to him as their leader. He was skilled at resolving theological disputes. If he had continued in his ministry as it was, he was in danger of being raised up to a place that God did not want him to be, and where he did not want to be.

Once Paul was imprisoned, and eventually killed, the young church had to stand on its own feet and rely on the Holy Spirits. The numerous people who had travelled and worked with Paul had to step up and preach the gospel and share the truth in the way that he had taught them. Others would have to take the gospel to Spain.

This is multiplication. A good seed dies, so that many can be raised up. This is how the Holy Spirit prefers to work. He prefers working through a multitude of ordinary people to relying on a few superstars.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Understanding Good and Evil

Many people have an incorrect view of good and evil, because they see the world in terms of political power.

Many Christians see the world this way.

Others see it the other way around.
These two views argue obsessively and continuously, but they are both wrong. And they both produce spiritual blindness.

The correct view of the world is the following.

Political processes empower the spiritual powers of evil.

The Holy Spirit works through his people to establish the Kingdom of God without using political power.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God (Psalm 146:3-4).

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Endless Wars

Dr Stephen Wertheim is an historian with interesting thoughts about endless war.

American war-making will persist so long as the United States continues to seek military dominance across the globe. Dominance, assumed to ensure peace, in fact guarantees war. To get serious about stopping endless war, American leaders must do what they most resist: end America’s commitment to armed supremacy and embrace a world of pluralism and peace.

In theory, armed supremacy could foster peace. Facing overwhelming force, who would dare to defy American wishes? That was the hope of Pentagon planners in 1992; they reacted to the collapse of America’s Cold War adversary not by pulling back but by pursuing even greater military pre-eminence. But the quarter-century that followed showed the opposite to prevail in practice. Freed from one big enemy, the United States found many smaller enemies: It has launched far more military interventions since the Cold War than during the “twilight struggle” itself. Of all its interventions since 1946, roughly 80 percent have taken place after 1991.

Why have interventions proliferated as challengers have shrunk? The basic cause is America’s infatuation with military force. Its political class imagines that force will advance any aim, limiting debate to what that aim should be.

Armed domination has become an end in itself. Which means Americans face a choice: Either they should openly espouse endless war, or they should chart a new course.

Rather than chase an illusory dominance, the United States should pursue the safety and welfare of its people while respecting the rights and dignity of all. In the 21st century, finally rid of colonial empires and Cold War antagonism, America has the opportunity to practice responsible statecraft, directed toward the promotion of peace. Responsible statecraft will oppose the war-making of others, but it will make sure, first and foremost, that America is not fueling violence.

Shrinking the military’s footprint will deprive presidents of the temptation to answer every problem with a violent solution. It will enable genuine engagement in the world, making diplomacy more effective, not less. As the United States stops being a party to every conflict, it can start being a party to resolving conflicts.

Hawks also warn that restraint will produce chaos, dooming the “rules-based,” “liberal international order.” Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, President Trump’s envoy for Syria, recently told a version of this tale when he pounded the table in anger at Americans’ objections to “endless war.” “Literally scores and scores of American military operations,” he said, “undergird this global security regime and thus undergird the American and Western and U.N. values system.

But there’s a reason no one can connect the dots from unceasing interventions to a system of law and order. After decades of unilateral actions, crowned by the aggressive invasion of Iraq, it is U.S. military power that threatens international law and order. Rules should strengthen through cooperation, not wither through imposition.



Monday, September 16, 2019

My Approach

I have studied the Bible intently for more than forty years and tried to absorb its message, while seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discover everything he has hidden for our benefit. I prefer to read the Bible more than people writing about the Bible. Everything that I write comes out of my seeking.

I don’t develop a theme and then use a concordance to look up prooftexts to support a theory, as many writers do. I believe that is a flawed method, and dangerous too, because you can find a prooftext for almost anything if you look hard enough and are willing to twist a bit.

Accordingly, I am not very interested in responding to demands for proof texts from people who do not “know” the scriptures. I am wary of people who say “That is not in the Bible”, because that assumes that they have read the scriptures in their entirety and absorbed everything.
Nor am I interested in arguing about what I have written, because I find that it leads nowhere.

I share what I have discovered for the benefit of people who are interested in learning. I am not interested in persuading people those who disagree with me. If they do not like what I have written, they are free to ignore.

http://kingwatch.co.nz

Saturday, September 14, 2019

How Evil Spirits Operate (6) Angel’s Weapons

Angels work together in unity, so they usually outnumber the evil spirits, who are always competing with each other. The angels are guided by the Holy Spirit, so they always know exactly what to do. Their main weapon is words. Due to the cross, they have authority on their side. If the people they are working with have submitted to God’s will, then together they have authority over any evil spirits that are attacking. They can speak to them and tell them, “You are not allowed to do that”, and they have to obey.

Angels also have the power to restrain spiritually evil spirits. It is hard to imagine what that is like without thinking in physical terms. It seems they can offer spiritual restraint. For example, at the flood, some evil spirits were locked up by the holy angels in a spiritual prison (1 Pet 3:19).

God sometimes get his angels to deceive evil spirits by pretending to help them. Evil spirits are mostly followers, so they are not very creative or clever. They just keep doing the same things over and over again. The angels have the creativity of the Holy Spirit behind them, so they can come up with creative new ideas, that really appeal to the evil spirits. They adopt these ideas, because they like them, but do not realise that they will actually benefit.

Deceiving angels can easily stir them up to attack nations that are opposing God, because destroyer spirits like the idea of attacking and destroying other nations. They think it will give them greater power, but don’t realise that the same thing will happen to them, and they will all be defeated.

Friday, September 13, 2019

How Evil Spirits Operate (5) Gog

A spirit called Gog is described in Ezekiel 38,39 and in Revelation 20. I assume that Gog is a spirit who has developed a skill at commanding big groups of government-spirits to work together to do evil. They commit to following him, because he offers them opportunities to enhance their power. He uses violence and power to keep them in line. If one tries to pull out of an alliance, Gog would set destroyer spirits against. Of course, if they all rebel against his leadership, he would be powerless to keep them in line.

These spirits are all using stolen authority, so they are always vulnerable, because their power over others depends on them being more violent, or more clever than those they control. Other spirits will always be stepping up to have a go against them. This is why the spirits in control have changed throughout history. Satan (accuser) has had times on top, but Death and Destruction have been on top at other times. I guess Gog will have a time on top of the heap, but it does not last.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

How Evil Spirits Operate (4) Destroyer Spirits

Destroyers-spirits are spirits who love destroying things. They have developed skills in stealing, destroying and killing people and things. They form gangs with a leader who is the best destroyer rising to the top. This destroyer leader looks for opportunities for the gang to do it stuff.

The destroyer leader forms a gang of destructive spirits to work together and take the destruction of God's creation to a new level. It becomes their leader, because it is the most ruthless and effective at destroying things. Once spirits join his gang, they are afraid to leave, because the leader is so ruthless and violent. The destroyer leader looks for opportunities for his gang to do its stuff. Whenever there is big violence going down, they will be there. They enjoy murder and any other kind of destruction that they can think of.

The book in Revelation describes a spirit called Abaddon (Destroyer), who is released from the abyss, to bring some of the destructions on earth. The gang of destroyer spirits he leads attempt to destroy and kill everything. They try to destroy God’s created world. Wrecking rivers and seas, and destroying the land. They also attempt to kill and torment people by inflicting them with sickness and starting destructive wars. Abaddon tried to destroy the earth at the time of the flood, but was restrained.

Leaders of destroyer spirits will often join them up with Gog because he provides good opportunities for violence and destruction.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How Evil Spirits Operate (3) Government-spirits

Government-spirits are often called “principalities and powers”, but those names do not explain much, so I prefer to call them what they are. A government-spirit controls the leaders of a city or nation. It get controls by leading a group of spirits that work in the hearts and minds of the leaders. The spirits would include spirits of pride, control, love of power, anger, etc. These spirits submit to the government-spirit for the benefit of getting to manipulate a nation. This gives the government-spirit great power.

A government-spirit leads a gang of spirts and uses them to control the political leaders of a nation or city. They will use whatever will work with the particular leaders they are dealing with. Spirits encouraging pride, love of power, control, hatred, anger and deception will often be part of the gang.

When a government-spirit is spiritually defeated and loses power, it will keep on trying to be a government-spirit without any success, because it has lost his supporters, who made it powerful. It will mope around talking about its past glories, but totally confused about how it might get its power back. This forlorn spirit will become powerless and feeble.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

How Evil Spirits Operate (2) Same but Different

I presume that evil spirits are all the same as each other. When they were created, there was no hierarchy amongst them, but after the fall, they established roles and a hierarchy to go with it. They get a role when they discover a particular way of operating. Some spirits develop skills at promoting a particular sin, so that gives them a name. Others get a place in the hierarchy of spirits that gives them additional power and authority. This place establishes their role.

Without the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, evil spirits are cut off from the wisdom that angels need to operate effectively. The Holy Spirit ensured that they worked together in unity. Cut off from his wisdom, evil spirits fall into disunity and struggle to escape it. They only way that can avoid disunity and confusion is forming hierarchies and allowing themselves to be bullied by the spirit that leads the hierarchy.

These groups and hierarchies are always fluid, because spirits are always rebelling against their leaders, and trying to take their place.

Monday, September 09, 2019

How Do Evil Spirits Operate (1)

Evil spirits mostly work by putting thoughts and ideas in the mind of a person and stirring up their desires. They can also effect changes in their physical bodies, mostly sickness.

When an evil spirit gains control of the persons will, it enables them to control the person's choices and manipulate their body. They can make a person exhausted or tired.

Some spirits prefer to remain detached. They can then move from person to person and have a go at them all at the same time. A deceiving spirit might find this a convenient way to operate, because they could deceive a group of people moving around them and planting the same lie in them all, so they are deceived together.

Evil spirits can move from person to person. They are always looking for an opportunity to do greater evil, so if they see a better opportunity in another person, they will take it, and enter them. Of course, if they have control of a person, they may be reluctant to leave, because they do not know if they will be able to get control of the new person. There are benefits for them in having control, but they are free to go to another person, if they think they can benefit.

In principle, a person can deliver him/herself if they renounce the spirit and command it to leave in Jesus’ name. However, it is really hard to do on your own. Especially if the spirit has control of your will. It can give thoughts that confuse the victim, making it hard for them to resist it. That is why it often better to have two or three people praying against the evil spirit.

Jesus promised that there is greater authority when two or three are praying together. However, the key to deliverance is the victim renouncing the right of the spirit to be there. Once the evil spirit loses the authority that they have over their victim, they have to go. Of course, they will try to get their place of authority back, by tempting the person to fall into sin again, so it is good to have other people praying for the victim and encouraging and supporting them.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Who Allowed It?

Many Christians have a false understanding that God controls all events that happen on earth. The technical name for this false doctrine is meticulous providence.

Problem emerge with this view when evil things happen. Those who believe that God controls everything meticulously explain evil by saying that God allowed it, because they don’t want to make him responsible for evil. Saying “God allowed it” is a way of keeping God in control, without leaving him responsible for the evil, but it does not work.

I teach that God gave authority over the earth to humans when he gave them freedom. It could be said that he allowed humans to have authority on earth.

The consequence is that humans are responsible for everything that happens on earth. In addition, humans made the situation on earth worse by submitting to the spiritual powers of evil and letting them go to work on earth.

So, whenever something evil happens, we should not say that God allowed it. We should say that humans allowed the spiritual powers of evil to do it.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

More Gems from John Lennox

Here are some more Gems from John Lennox.

Scientism

Science needs a health warning.

Scientism is the problem. It is the belief that “Science is the only way to truth”. It is logical nonsense, because it is not a scientific statement, so if it is true, it is false.”

Serious scientists realise that it cannot deal with first and last things, how did things begin, what are we all here for, what is the purpose of life.

Statements by scientists are often not statements of science.

Science has great cultural authority in the modern world. But it should have no authority in other realms.

Einstein said, “A scientist is a poor philosopher”.


Explanation

People wrongly believe that science is coextensive with rationality.

Two possible answers to the question of why is water boiling.

  • Heat transfer from flame of ignited gas.
  • I want a cup of tea.
There is more than one kind of explanation of the automobile.
  • Laws of combustion and mechanical engineering.
  • Henry Ford
Two levels of explanation are needed for any phenomena.
  • Science physics.
  • Agency, Intention.
It is absurd to suggest that physics tells you everything that you need to know about boiling water.

Assuming that physics/chemistry explains everything is a philosophical mistake.

The law of gravity does not explain gravity. Not one knows what gravity its. The laws of gravity are a means of calculating gravitational effects. Newton realised it does not explain what gravity is. No one knows what energy is.

Science is not an exhaustive explanation, even within science. itself.


Language

The greatest pointer to God is language. Mathematics is an elegant language.

  1. There is a text at the heart of experience that we are capable of understanding.
  2. We are language producers.
  3. The universe can be understood by the language of mathematics.
Einstein said that the only incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.

Abstract science emerged in the west, but not in China. By Christians who believed the world was created by God and therefore understandable.


Nothing

Leibniz said the ultimate question is why there is something and not nothing.

Scientists have to get something out of nothing, and they have nothing to do it with. To deal with this, scientists have redefined Nothing: Nothing is a Quantum vacuum.

God created the universe out of nothing, but he is not a physical being. He is Spirit.


Mind

How does a set of abstract symbols in a human mind explain the universe out there. This seems unreasonable, to a materialistic world view.

Scientists believe that the brain is the end product of a mindless, unguided process. Therefore, why should we trust anything that a mind produces.

John Gray – an atheist said.

Modern humanism is that faith that though science, humankind can know the truth and so be free. But if Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true, this is impossible, because the human mind supports evolutionary success, not truth.
CS Lewis said,
We have done brilliant science by thinking about the universe, but we haven’t thought about the process of thinking.
Can the mind be reduced to physics and chemistry? If the mental is merely physical, it cannot be fully explained by science.

Evolutionary naturalism implies that we should take any of our convictions seriously, include the scientific word picture on which evolutionary naturalism depends.


World View

The are two key world views.

  • One begins with particles, mass-energy and nothing. Explanation must be bottom-up. The human mind is derivative from physics and chemistry.
  • In the other mind is primary – the mind of God.
    In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God.
    Mass energy is derivative.
The key choice is:
Mass energy is derivative V Mind is derivative.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Science and God

Although John Lennox is a pure mathematician, he is a great communicator, especially on the issue if God and science. This talk called “Has Science buried God?” is a good example of his work. Anyone who is interested in science and apologetics should listen to it.

The following are examples from his talk.

Scientism is the problem. It is the belief that “Science is the only way to truth”. It is logical nonsense, because it is not a scientific statement, so if it is true, it is false.”

Wittgenstein said that the greatest deception of modernism is that laws of nature are explanations of the phenomena of nature. They are not. They are simply descriptions of what normally happens.

The meaning of the word faith has been redefined in a devious way to mean belief where there is no evidence. This is wrong. Everyone understands evidence-based faith. Christianity is evidence-based faith.

Real faith is commitment to people or facts, based on evidence. eg you have faith in the surgeon operating on you.

Faith is essential for science. Scientists need faith in the rational intelligibility of the universe. That is a belief. Science cannot prove it, because you have to believe it because you have to believe before you can start doing science.

Atheism is a belief system. If the brain is the result of an unguided random process, why can anything it determines be trusted?

Atheism undermines the capacity of the human mind/brain to be trusted as reliable.

I really like the section at the end, where he discussed information.
A materialistic world view has a serious problem with information because it seems that it cannot be reduced to physics and chemistry, yet it is at the heart of the universe. He says that physics and chemistry do not have the explanatory power to deal with meaning and language.

When language is involved, we never argue downward to chance and necessity, or physics and chemistry. We always intuitively respond by assuming there is a mind behind it.

We live in an information age. Information is difficult to define, but it is mostly agreed that information is not material. However, scientists who believe that the universe is purely material, are finding that information is fundamental, but it is not reducible to physics and chemistry. That means science cannot explain everything.

He tells the story of a reductionist scientist who sees the words “Roast Chicken” on a menu, assumes they have meaning, because a mind is behind them, but when researching the hugely complicated language known in DNA, he assumes it is the result of chance and necessity.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Women and the Bible

I have always believed that both men and women can be elders in the church. In my book Being Church Where We Live, I explain how they can work together in the body of Jesus.

I have just read a book by Lucy Peppiatt called Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts. This is one of the best books on the scriptures dealing with the role of women that I have read. She examines them thoroughly in a dispassionate and calm way, without being overbearing. I recommend this book to anyone interested in these themes.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Intellectual Property

The Bible legitimises physical property, but it does not legitimise intellectual property.
Ideas are from God. Intellectual Property is a creation of the state.

Intellectual property is difficult to protect beyond the borders of the state that authorised it. Accordingly, intellectual property has been taken always been taken over by others, who develop it further. This has mostly been good for the world.

  1. Following the industrial revolution, British businesses complained that their technology was being stolen by upstart companies in the United States. This theft was one of the causes of the rapid growth of the American economy, but most Americans have forgotten that.

  2. South Korean businesses took US technology and began manufacturing microwaves and other small appliances when their economic growth was getting underway.

  3. Large technology companies have always stolen technology from small technology companies. They pay royalties to their large competitors but they don’t bother paying royalties to small companies that cannot afford legal battles against them. Microsoft got established as the dominant player in the computing industry by stealing the technology of small competitors.

When US companies deliberately moved their manufacturing to China, they were naive if they thought the Chinese would not take and use their technology. No US businesses were forced to move to China, so they have no basis for complaint. They understood when they entered China that the legal system was different. If they really cared about their intellectual property, they should have kept it in-house where it could be kept safe.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Prayer for Kings

Paul urges us to pray for Kings and people in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4), but we need to be careful how we pray. Many Christians assume that electing Christians as political leaders, or their kings becoming Christian, will advance the Kingdom of God, and they pray for those things. The problem is that political power is an obstacle to the Kingdom of God.

In his letter, Paul told Timothy to pray that kings and people with authority would leave us in peace and tranquillity, and allow us to get on with living godly and holy lives. God wants this to happen so we can get on with sharing the good news of Jesus. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, not a king or political ruler.

We should pray for our own situation so that political powers will not take away your freedom to share the gospel.

Kings always crave for the allegiance and adulation of their subjects. Politicians mostly think that they know better than the rest, but they pretend to believe in democracy, so they also chase after the support of their people. This gives us a little authority in their lives, which empowers our prayers.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Prayer

Praying is always good.  However, our prayers will always be more effective, if we pray into situations where we have authority. They will also be more effective if they are precise, rather than vague and general.

It is good to pray that people come to salvation. However, it is better to pray more precisely, if we can. If we listen to the Holy Spirit, he will tell us what he wants to do in people’s lives. We can then pray for his will to be done. That will be more effective than vague general prayers.

Likewise, it is good to pray that the kingdom of the world will become Christ’s Kingdom.  However, we will never see our prayers being answered, because our request is too vague. I think it is better to ask the Holy Spirit what he wants to do to advance the Kingdom of God in the situations where we have interest and influence. If we pray for those things, we will be praying according to God’s will, so we are more likely to see our prayers being answered. That will encourage us to press on further.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Father Forgiveness

I presume one exists somewhere, but I can’t imagine a father who punishes his son for every single mistake, misdeed or error that he makes. Even bad fathers forgive their sons, over and over again. That is what fathers do. They try to teach their sons how to avoid making useless mistakes that will wreck their lives, but they don’t punish every mistake.

Jesus explained that God is our father, so like human fathers, he is willing to forgive his children for their misdeeds. Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother 500 time (70x7). I am sure that God is willing to do that too. Her does not work on a “one strike and you are out” rule. A theology that has no room for God’s forgiveness (without punishment) is a distortion of the truth.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

God and Blood (10) Conclusion

God is gracious, loving and kind. He does not require the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins. He forgives freely. A clear confirmation is given in Eph 5:2.

Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Paul confirms that Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to God. But it was not a blood sacrifice, equivalent to what was offered on the bronze altar outside the Tent of Meeting. Those blood sacrifices were to satisfy the spiritual powers of evil. Blood is demanded by the spiritual powers of evil. They love inflicting pain and death on humans, so they demand the shedding of blood whenever they can.

Jesus sacrifice to God was a sweet-smelling aroma. It is the equivalent of the incense offered on the golden altar inside the Tent of Meeting, which symbolised loving obedience. Jesus obeyed his father without complaining, because they loved him. Loving obedience was the sweet-smelling aroma that Jesus offered to his father on our behalf. God does not demand out blood. All he wants is our allegiance.

Our loving obedience is also a sweet-smelling aroma that pleases God (Rom 12:1).

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

God and Blood (9) Hebrews

The letter to the Hebrews speaks about what happened on the cross.

1. Dealt with powers of evil – both their accusations and their ransom demands.

a) Propitiation of the spiritual powers of evil (hilaskomai).

He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb 2:17).
b) He has redeemed us from captivity to the spiritual powers of evil (apolutrosis).
He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15).
2. God forgave our sins and forgot them.

Sins were forgotten by God (mnaomai).
Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more (Heb 10:16-17).
Sins were forgiven by God (put away) (aphesis).
And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary (Heb 10:16-17).

Monday, August 19, 2019

God and Blood (8) Jesus

In Romans 3:24-25, Paul summarises the achievements of Jesus’ death on the cross.

They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as a propitiation in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint, God passed over the sins previously committed.
There four main points in this passage.
  • In forbearance, God passed over sins previously committed (passed over, not punished). He did not need bloodshed to be able to forgive.

  • Declaring those who trust in him to be righteous. This is a gift. Being justified by his blood saves us from the accusations of the accuser (Rom 5:9).

  • Redemption that is in Jesus the anointed (setting us free from the bondage of the spiritual powers of evil).

  • God set forth Jesus as a propitiation (not for himself, but for the spiritual powers of evil who demanded death and blood for sin).

God was happy to forgive human’s sin, because he is gracious and kind, and willing to give his people another chance. It was the spiritual powers of evil who demanded blood as a condition for letting the people go free.

God did these things to demonstrate his righteousness. He was generous and forgiving. In contrast, the powers of evil were cruel and unforgiving. They demanded the shedding of human blood.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

God and Blood (7) Tabernacle

The tabernacle was the place where God lived with his people. The purpose of the blood sacrifices was to satisfy the spiritual powers of evil as a confirmation of God’s deal to let them have the death of his son when he came in the future. The blood from the animal sacrifices was a guarantee that God would keep the deal that he had made for the rescue of his people. See Tabernacle.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

God and Blood (6) Passover

At the first Passover, the Israelites were rescued from slavery to Egypt and the spiritual powers of evil and became God’s possession.

  1. They had to be freed from Pharaoh’s power. If they went into the desert to worship God, they would be outside Pharaoh’s domain. They would be shifting their allegiance from him to God. That is why he did not want to let them go, and fought hard to prevent it. In the end, he had to give in to the greater power of God. The children of Israel were delivered from Pharaoh by force.

  2. God also did a deal with the spiritual powers of evil. The people belonged to them too. If God just took the people, he would be stealing what was theirs. This is the reason for the blood. They demanded a ransom of blood. They claimed that the price of a life is blood, and refused to let the people free unless a ransom was paid in blood.

I presume that God offered them the blood of his son as a ransom, with the blood of the lamb as down payment guaranteeing final payment when Jesus would die. The spiritual powers of evil must have accepted the deal and agreed to let the people go. Blood was the ransom price for one man. The blood of a god was the ransom price for all men.

Some of the powers of evil were upset, so they took the lives of the Egyptian children to get the blood that they wanted.

Friday, August 16, 2019

God and Blood (5) Isaac

The spiritual powers of evil tried to trick Abraham into killing his son Isaac. They wanted blood. God did not require it. I have explained this incident at Isaac.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

God and Blood (4) Abraham

Abraham was rescued by God when he changed his allegiance to him. He demonstrated his new allegiance by leaving his family and travelling towards Canaan. Abraham was justified by faith when he obeyed God. No blood was required (Gen 12:1-9).

The incident described in Genesis 15, where Abraham cut animals in half, he was not an offering of blood to God, rather he set them out so that God confirms the covenant by passing through between them. God did not require blood from Abraham. He offered his presence as confirmation of the covenant with Abraham that he had already confirmed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

God and Blood (3) Noah

The standard Christian teaching is that God’s covenant with Noah required the shedding of human blood, but this is misleading. After giving Noah permission to eat the plants and animals that grow on earth, God said that humans should not eat meat with blood in it (Gen 9:4). There were good health reasons for this command, because meat which has not had the blood drained from it will spoil quickly in the heat and go rotten.

Genesis 9:5-6 goes on to speak about the blood of humans. I have given a very literal translation.
The blood of your life

I will require
from the hand of every animal.
I shall require it
from the hand of the human
his brother
I shall require
the life of the human.

The one shedding the blood of a human
His blood shall be shared,
because he made him in the image of God.
These two verses are used to justify the death penalty for murder, but the passage has several problems.

First of all, the word usually translated as “require” is “darash”. Its basic meaning is tread or to frequent, and thus to seek or inquire. Require is not the usual meaning of the world. Most translators assume that inquire or frequent would not make sense, so they use “require” instead. I wonder if the word “inquire” is used because the spiritual powers of evil are inquiring or demanding a right from God.

These verses also stand out because they have a chiliastic format common in Hebrew poetry. Ideas are expressed forward and backwards, using the same words.

These words are not God’s standard. He loves life and does not take lives, unnecessarily. God does not want blood to be shed to pay for a person killed.

  • He established the penalty of community exclusion, not a death penalty. If the excluded person leaves freely, blood will not be shed.

  • God established a process by which the victims family request a ransom from the murderer, instead of excluding. God allowed this, so he did not demand blood.

The last phrase said that he created humans in the image of God implies that God is not speaking.

I believe that these two verses could be the spiritual powers of evil speaking; possibly through Noah perhaps without him realising. They demanded blood for anyone who died. If a person was murdered, they lost a slave. They would demand the payment of the of another slave, even though it made them worse off. This was their warped way of thinking. They love so much they will do anything to get it, even if it harms them. This was not God speaking.

God granted this concession to the spiritual powers of evil, because he had no choice. Humans had placed themselves in their power by disobeying God and submitting to them. Humans had not paid the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded, so he had to concede to their demand, but he did not approve.

Gen 9:5-6 was a concession to the spiritual powers of evil, not a command to humans. It was a statement of the current reality, not a command to implement the death penalty.

The uncertainty about the meaning of these verses means that we should be careful about using them as a basis for a claim that God requires blood from humans who sin. They should not be used as the basis for the death penalty.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

God and Blood (2) Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices to God. Abel offered fat to God (not blood). Cain offered some of the grain he had produced. God looked on Abel’s offering with favour. He was satisfied with fat, because he did not need blood. Cain was jealous of his brother, so he killed him. When God challenged Cain, he said,

What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground (Gen 4:10).
This is interesting. Why was the ground crying out for blood? God created the earth and gave it to humans, but humans sinned and surrendered authority over the earth (the ground) to the spiritual powers of evil. So, the voice crying out from the ground was the spiritual powers of evil. They demanded blood in return for Abel’s death.

God did not require blood as a penalty for Cain’s crime. He said,

Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth” (Gen 4:11-12).
God explained that Cain was under a curse. His sin had given the spiritual powers of evil authority to work in his life and bring harm. They had enjoyed the spilling of Abel’s blood. They would enjoy harassing Cain.

God did not require Cain to pay with his blood. He actually put a mark on Cain to protect him. He acted to ensure that Cain’s blood would not be shed. Cain lived a long time and had many children.

Monday, August 12, 2019

God and Blood (1)

Does God desire the shedding of blood for sin? Many Christians believe that he does, but we need to check the scriptures.
According to Psalm 40:6, God does not require sacrifice and burnt offerings.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require (Hos 6:6).
This is blunt. God does not desire blood sacrifices.
The statement is repeated again in the letter of the letter to the Hebrews.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.

Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law (Heb 10:5-10).

Clearly, God does require the shedding of blood for offerings and sacrifices. Yet blood offerings were mandated by the Old Testament law, so what is going on?

God does not require the shedding of blood. Yet the law does. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that the law specified the shedding of blood for cleansing.

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no freedom (Heb 9:22).
This is interesting. The law requires blood, yet God does not require the shedding of blood. If God does not require blood, then someone else must. Who requires the blood shed for the tabernacle sacrifices? And more importantly, who required Jesus blood to be shed on the cross.

The answer to this question is the spiritual powers of evil who tricked Adam and Eve into surrendering their authority over the earth are obsessed with the shedding of blood. Because they are mean and vindictive, the spiritual powers of evil demand the shedding of blood on every occasion. This is why the tabernacle sacrifices involved shedding of blood. That is why Jesus had to shed his blood on the cross. So the centurion put a spear in Jesus side, and his blood flowed. The powers of evil could make these demands, because they had been given authority on earth by humans. Jesus had to shed blood to deliver us from their power.
The spiritual powers of evil are destroyers.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).
They love bloodshed and death.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Nuclear War

The world has forgotten the terrors of nuclear war. In an article called The Myths and the Silence and the Propaganda that keep Nuclear Weapons in Existence, David Swanson provides a good reminder of the dangers.

When the United States dropped those nuclear bombs on Japan, masses of people were in fact vaporized like water on a hot frying pan. They left so-called shadows on the ground that in some cases are still there today. But some didn’t die at once. Some walked or crawled. Some made it to hospitals where others could hear their exposed bones clacking on the floor like high heels. At the hospitals, maggots crawled into their wounds and their noses and ears. The maggots ate the patients alive from the inside out. The dead sounded metallic when thrown into trashcans and trucks, sometimes with their young children crying and moaning for them nearby.

The black rain fell for days, raining death and horror. Those who drank water died instantly. Those who thirsted dared not drink. Those untouched by illness sometimes developed red spots and died so quickly that you could watch the death seep over them. The living lived in terror. The dead were added to mountains of bones now viewed as lovely grass hills from which the smell has finally departed.

Some of those who were able to walk were unable to cease moaning and holding their arms out in front of them with the skin and flesh hanging off.

I cannot think of any political cause that would justify such terrible suffering.

Read the entire article.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Climate Change (5) Nuclear War

As I said in my first post, I consider that nuclear war is a far greater risk to human life on earth than climate change.

People seem to have forgotten that belligerent military personnel in several nations are constantly poised ready to push the nuclear button. A dozen countries have nuclear weapons. If anyone country launched, others are likely to respond quickly.

The United States has recently deliberately moved nuclear weapons into Europe closer to Russian. The problem with this is that it leaves very little time to decide if a radar signal is a genuine attack, or a false alarm. People will be tempted to launch quickly while they can to be on the safe side.

Modern nuclear weapons are far more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima. A nuclear war in which a couple of nations launched a few dozen weapons would have a terrible effect on the world. I am amazed that people see to mostly have stopped protesting against them.

Total war is prohibited by the Bible. Those engaged in war are prohibited from attacking and damaging the land (Deut 20:19-20). The land belongs to God, so it is not to be harmed (Lev 25:23). An attack on the land is an attack on God. The same protection would apply to women and children. Non-combatants should always be protected.

This prohibition makes nuclear war unacceptable. Nuclear weapons would harm the land and non-combatants. The same principle would rule out many modern weapons. Nuclear weapons and neutron bombs do so much damage that there will rarely be a cause that would justify their use.

The greatest danger is declining empires. When an empire is in decline, the risk of an insecure leader doing something stupid rises enormously. The world was lucky to get through the collapse of the Soviet Unction unscathed. We were fortunate that Mikhail Gorbachev was a good man.

The American empire now sees to be collapsing and its leader seem to be becoming more and more dysfunctional. This is a huge risk for the world. The risk that an insecure American President will lash out to preserve his failing empire is a serious risk. The US has such a large arsenal of weapons that this would be a disaster for the world. It also has a love of war that is dangerous.

I fear that more than if fear climate change.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Climate Change (4) God Missing

A problem with the climate change debate is that God is left out of all discussion. This is foolish, because the scriptures explain that God has a strong influence on the weather.

He provides rain for the earth;
he sends water on the countryside (Job 5:10).
Praise the LORD from the earth,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding (Psalm 148:7-8).
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills (Psalm 147:8).
The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.

The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder (Deut 28:12,23-24).
God has a powerful influence upon the weather. So, if the climate changes, the first thing we should do is ask what God is doing. If the climate is deteriorating, it might because God has been aggrieved and has withdrawn his blessing. So instead of assuming that climate change is caused by humans, we should seek God and find out what he is saying about the situation.

When droughts and storms arise, it could be because we have opened ourselves up to the spiritual powers of evil. They love to kill and destroy. They sometimes use the weather to wreak destruction on earth. If that is the case, we should seek the deliverance of God.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Climate Change (3) Government Control

My main concern about the climate change movement is that it will lead to a massive increase in state power. Those who are concerned about climate change are not satisfied with changing their own practices and persuading others to change too. They want their government to force everyone to change what they buy and how the live. They want governments to force businesses to change the way that they operate. It is not totally clear what changes will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases the quickest. It is easy to point the finger at someone else and demand that the government force them to change.

I suspect the concern about climate change will result in a huge increase in the power of governments, which will spread into all aspects of life. No good will come from it.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Climate Change (2) Gradual

The most important thing is that climate change is gradual. This means that no matter how climate changes, humans will have time to adapt. That will be painful for some people who have to make the change. However, adapting to change is what humans are good at.

Farmers have always adapted to the climate. I grew up on a farm. In the 1960s, we experienced a decade of frequent droughts. We didn’t give up, but change the way we farmed. We stopped growing wheat crops, as there was insufficient moisture. And we got rid of our beef breeding cows, because during dry years there was insufficient grass to feed them. We adapted to a temporary change in the climate. That is what farmers do.

If sea levels rise, people living by the coast may find that their houses are uninhabitable. They will need to migrate to places where they are safe from coastal erosion. This should not be seen as unusual.

People have always migrated when the place where they were living becomes untenable. Abraham migrated from Ur to Canaan. Joseph and Mary migrated to Egypt when they were unsafe in Nazareth.

In the 19th century, crofting in Scotland became impossible due to the enclosure of land by large scale absentee farmers. My great grandparents migrated across the world to New Zealand to find a safer place to live.

More recently, many Americans migrated from the great lakes area to the south to get jobs when the auto industry declined.

Most of the people living in Europe are descendants of migrants, if they go back far enough. People have always migrated in response to trials of all kinds.

With climate change, some places will improve and other places will get worse. People will need to shift from the latter to the former. The dislocation will be painful, but it is what people do.

During the warm period around the year 1000, agriculture patterns in the UK and Europe changed dramatically. People adapted to the slowly changing climate condition. We will have to do the same, if the climate does change significantly.

  • Humans are skilled adapters.
  • Climate change comes slowly.
These factors will enable us to adapt to climate change. It will be painful, and incomes might drop significantly, but humans will adapt. The end of the world will not come.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Climate Change (1) Climate Forecasting

People are saying that climate change is the greatest threat to human life ever experienced. I don’t believe that is true. The greatest threat to life on earth is nuclear war, but more on that in a later post.

Like economic forecasting, climate forecasting is not a true science. The scientific method works by conducting repeatable experiments to test whether a well-defined hypothesis is true or not.

Climate change occurs over long periods of time and affects the whole world, so it is impossible to set up a repeatable experiment to determine if the hypothesis of anthropomorphic climate change is correct.

Climate scientists have to do what economists do. They set up models, with numerous assumptions and equations that approximate the real world to see what results the model produces. The problem is that models are only solvable if there are sufficient restrictive assumptions in place. But the more assumptions that are used, the less the model actually reflects the real world, and therefore the less unreliable the results.

Politicians claim that there is a scientific consensus about climate change, but science does not work by consensus; that’s what politicians try to do. Scientist work by testing well-defined hypotheses with repeatable experiments.
Economists have the same problem. Their models only work if the impose restrictive assumptions that make the models unrealistic. This is why economists disagree about everything.

The world economy and the climate system are both extremely complex, so it is almost impossible to create realistic computer models that reflect their workings accurately. Just as it is impossible to predict the effects of particular economic policies, it is impossible to accurately predict climate change. You can observe trends, but the direction of a trend usually depends on the length of the observation period. It is very difficult to separate the trend from the noise, especially in complex systems, like the weather. And you never know whether a trend will continue, or reverse.

So, we have to be open-minded about climate change. The climate is definitely changing because that is what climate does. Climate is defined as the small changes in the weather that occur over time. However, we cannot be certain whether the changes we observe over time.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Iran

I am not sure why American Christians are so hostile to Iran, because the record of the United States dealings with Iran is fairly ugly.

  • In 1957, the US helped to organise a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government and appointed a hereditary king (Shah=Caesar) to rule the nation.

  • The US helped organise and train Savak, the ruthless security forces that kept the Shah in power.

  • When the Iranian people overthrew the US-imposed dictator in 1978, the US responded by imposing economic sanctions on the new government, which are still in place today. So much for supporting democracy.

  • The US encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in 1982-88. (He was a US client back then). They supported him with satellite surveillance and missile guidance. 200,000 people were killed and half a million were injured. The US turned a blind eye when Saddam used chemical weapons against the Iranians defending their country.

  • The US guided-missile cruiser Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655, a scheduled passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai on 3 July 1988 with a surface-to-air missile. The aircraft, an Airbus A300, was destroyed and all 290 people on board, including 66 children, were killed. The jet was hit while flying over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, along the flight's usual route. The US tried to lie about the position and direction of the flight.

  • The US has encouraged its allies to assassinate numerous Iranian scientists.

If the Iranian government did any of these things, the US media would be screaming for action against it.

I don’t like the religion of Islam. I believe that the gospel of Jesus is infinitely superior.

I don’t like the Iranian system of government, but I am not enthusiastic about a system that throws up a choice between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton either.

I do not see Iran as the great evil that many people suggest it is.

  • The people of Iran are kind and helpful people. Anyone who visits the nation will confirm that. The delegation of agriculture statisticians that I met were intelligent open people, keen to learn.

  • The people of Iran are Moslems from way back, so they are entitled to have a government based on Islam, just as many Americans want their government to be influenced by Christian values.

  • Iran is a democracy. It is not totally fair, but most democracies have flaws. Several Iranian governments have been voted out by the electors. This is different from US allies like Saudi Arabia, Oman and UAW, which are ruled by kings with absolute power.

  • The Iranians have chosen a political system that protects the role of the Koran by giving religious leaders a strong influence in their nation’s government. They are entitled to do that. This seems to be what many Christians want in the United States for their religion by appointing people sympathetic to Christian values to the Supreme Court.

  • Iran has not forcibly invaded another country in the last 300 years. During that time the United States has invaded dozens of nations with military force.

  • Iran has come to the support of its allies were facing an attack by hostile external powers, in Iraq, Syria, and South Lebanon. That is something that most nations have done.

  • The religion of Iran is Shia Islam. Most Islamic terrorism is conducted by Sunni Moslems, including Al Qaida and ISIS. Most Christians don’t understand the difference, but these to religious groups are sworn enemies. So claims that Iran is responsible for the things being done by Sunni Moslems is foolish.

  • Just as in 1776, Americans did not want their lives being controlled by the British, Iranians do not want the United States determining the way that they should live.

  • God has not given the United States permission to judge Iran and destroy it with nuclear weapons, although seems to be what some US political leaders want to do.

We must not forget that God loves the world so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross. God loves the people of Iran, just as much as he loves the people of New Zealand. Like every nation, Iran needs the gospel of Jesus. They will not be won for the gospel by bullying and military power. They need to see God’s people demonstrating his love, by loving their neighbours.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Family Decisions

I do not agree with the common view of among Christians that men should make decisions and women should go along. My advice to couples (which I am still learning) is that husbands and wives should seek consensus on major decisions that will shape their lives. That should not be hard if they both want to do God's will, and they are both listening to his Spirit.

Husbands should listen to their wives, because wives often have insights that a man would miss. Adam did not sin by listening to Eve. His was his failure to check her suggestion with God. But I presume that Adam had already hardened his heart, before Eve spoke or her suggestion would not have appealed to him.

Abigail is a woman that spoke wisdom to a husband that he needed to hear (1 Sam 25). Nabal is a warning to husbands who do not like what their wife is saying. God could be speaking through her.

Small day to day decisions need to be made quickly. They don't need to be complicated by a complex decision-making process. They can be made by the person closest to hand and the greatest interest.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Last Judgment

During the times when kings ruled Israel, judgment was not like a modern courtroom, with prosecutor and defence lawyers, where guilt and innocence are decided on the basis of evidence.

People stood before the king. He would make a decision on the basis of allegiance. He rewarded the people who had given him allegiance and fought with him. He punished those who been disloyal or slacked off. An example is given in 2 Samuel 19. Shimei had mocked David, so he lost everything except his life, and he was lucky to retain that. Mephibosheth and Barzilai had blessed David and supported him, so they received gifts of land.

The great white throne judgment described in John’s vision was not a guilty or innocent judgment before judges. It was a reward scene after a great victory in battle, based on allegiance and service in support of the king. The victorious king is giving out his rewards to the people who have supported him consistently.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Plight and Solution

God created the earth as a place to have fun with the people that he created in his image. That desire has never changed. God still wants to make the earth a garden where he can frolic with his people.

The problem that Jesus came to solve was not human sins, although they had caused many of the problems that he came to resolve.

  • The problem is not God’s anger.
  • The problem was that humans had given up their authority on earth to the powers of evil by submitting to them.
  • Their shift in allegiance had changed the authority situation on earth.
The fall was a shift in allegiance.
  • Adam and Eve shifted their allegiance from God to themselves.
  • The wanted to pick and choose who and they would obey. The wanted to obey God some of the time, other voices at other times. The serpent was able to speak to them, because they had already shifted allegiance in their minds, and were willing to listen to voices other than God.
  • Unfortunately, they were tricked by the devil. Allegiance to self usually become allegiance to the spiritual powers of evil, often without realising what has happened.
Jesus came to earth to resolve a twofold problem created when human withdrew their allegiance to God.
  • The spiritual powers of evil owned the earth. Earth was still a mess, not a garden.
  • The spiritual powers of evil owned the people on the earth. They have the right to poke, deceive and push them into doing evil.
Jesus came to earth to resolve these problems by,
  • Getting back authority over the earth.
  • Getting back the allegiance of the people living on the earth.
The good news is that we are rescued by allegiance (faith).