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Early in my Christian life, I heard this truth: “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” Honestly, I gave it very little thought—actually, no thought at all. It was just a factoid plugged into the multitude of things I was learning about the Lord, but it had no impact on my life.

Well, recently that verse has come back into my mind. Here it is in Scripture with a bit of context:

“I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:9–10).1

The Christian God is a cattle rancher, but He owns much more than cattle. Every beast in the field is His.

The context in which this verse is found concerns Israel’s idolatry. Pagans at that time offered animals or food or money to their gods in order to placate them—and still do. The Lord was telling His people that they were making their offerings to appease Him like pagans, but He didn’t need food from them. One of the reasons He states is this:

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” (Psalm 50:12–13).

If He were to need food from them, the people whom He had created and chosen, He would be dependent on them. That’s not how it works. That would put them in the position of exercising some kind of control over Him their God and Creator. Thus, He would no longer be sovereign over all things but subject to His people. So, no, the Lord God Almighty doesn’t need anything at all from His people or anyone else. He is perfectly self-sufficient.

But the Lord possesses more than cattle, birds, and the beasts of the field.

“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Psalm 24:1–2).

The earth belongs to Him. Everything that dwells on the earth belongs to Him. Thus, you belong to Him. For Christians, this ownership is not onerous but marvelous.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

This sounds like a wondrous thing, doesn’t it? It is. Glorious. However, it may offend your sensibilities, but He can do to you, for you, and with you whatever He pleases. Sometimes that means calling you to speak on His behalf or go somewhere for Him. Sometimes that means discipline. Sometimes that means suffering.

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:5b–6).

I thought the word “chastises” was a bit ambiguous. Perhaps “vanilla” is a better word. So, I looked it up. The constellation of meanings around chastises includes flogs, whips, and scourges.

It is a very good thing that the Christian God is a God love, mercy, and compassion, isn’t it? Can you imagine a Creator who didn’t possess these positive attributes? Yes, He disciplines us, but it is for our own good and His glory.

There is no get-out-of-being-God’s-possession card where a Christian can sail through life on a cloud of love and pleasantness. It’s a difficult life.

Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13–14).

I thought I would look up the different meanings in Greek of the word “hard.” They are crush, suffer, oppress, and afflict.

Welcome to the Christian life. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b).2

Glory awaits.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (2016). Crossway Bibles except where otherwise noted.

2The New King James Version (1982). Thomas Nelson.

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So, here I am, recipient of two COVID-19 vaccinations and being encouraged to get a booster. Scientists are concerned about a Delta variant. After two injections, I still am under the mandate to wear a mask. I have serious doubts that this third shot will have much effect as the virus continues to mutate. Will there ever be an end? There are twenty-four letters in the Greek alphabet. How many variants will there be? How many vaccinations must we receive?

So, I wonder.

Without embroiling myself in the no-vax-yes-vax controversy, as a believer in the Lord God Almighty and His sovereignty, I must hold to the truth that He has either caused or allowed this deadly corona virus to wreak its havoc. He could have prevented it. He could kill it.

He has not. He may have caused it. He may be the force pushing those mutations.

So, we frail humans are forced to ask, “Why?”

I can offer no answer to this question. Only that God knows all things. He is sovereign. He is good. He is love.

My wife and I watched a movie recently in which there was a scene at a graveside service. The father of his dead grandchild and daughter was wondering aloud how these terrible, senseless murders could be part of God’s plan. “How could it be part of anybody’s plan?” he asked.

The one who was created asks his Creator if He knows what He’s doing. The pot questions the Potter.

Oh, we weak, unknowing, ignorant humans who think we can put the Creator of the heavens and the earth on the witness stand so we, in all our arrogant, insufficient, unbelieving knowledge can pepper Him with questioning accusations. It is wise for me, in a godly and loving way, to encourage those on that prosecution team to read the Book of Job, when that suffering man put the Lord on the witness stand. In His response, God didn’t go down the list of accusations one at a time in order to defend Himself. In fact, He didn’t attempt to defend His actions at all.

He looked at the one accusing Him in the eye and asked him, instead, to defend himself, asking, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:2–5a). 1

Where was Job when the Lord created the earth? Um, he hadn’t been born yet. Better, he hadn’t been created yet. He had no hand in forming the earth and undeniably had no knowledge whatsoever of how to do so. He didn’t offer advice or counsel to the One laying its foundations. He had no knowledge of how the creation occurred nor how he could have contributed to it. None whatsoever.

Am I being too flippant in addressing the reader who has suffered the loss his or her loved ones in this pandemic? I trust what I write here has not done this.

As Scripture says, in the middle of trials, I endeavor to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

In times of suffering and loss, I must believe Jesus when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

I must surrender my understanding to the truth that is in the Lord’s Prayer:

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

May the Lord bless you as you surrender to His sovereign will as the earth is shaken by the onslaught of COVID-19.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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In this article, we will consider a being that possesses power that we cannot conceive. Mankind created the most potent force yet possible for humans, nuclear power. However, many powers not produced by us exist over which we have no control. Hurricanes. Tornados. Earthquakes. Floods. We work to mitigate their effects, but that’s all we can do. As formidable as these unstoppable forces are, they pale in comparison to the potency the Lord God Almighty exercised when He brought into existence the universe, all it contains, and the forces at work within it. We humans cannot comprehend this. A thermonuclear blast is but a balloon popping in comparison.

We are also considering a being who possesses unreachable holiness. This reality is as incomprehensible to us as His power. He is perfectly sinless. Unconditionally pure, true, and good. No fault in Him about anything at all, which has been true about Him, well, for eternity. The closest I get to grasping this truth is after I have sinned because I realize how very much unlike Him I am. I sin so naturally in my thoughts, something hateful or selfish. Sometimes, I just want to sin and to blazes with the consequences. I am very thankful for Paul’s confession.

“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:21–25). 1

As I read this, I noticed for the first time that Paul wrote, “I find it to be a law…”

A law. So, we’re toast. As if we didn’t already know that.

Thus, we have a God whose power is incomprehensible, whose holiness is unreachable, and human beings whose sin is abominable. We can’t do a single stinkin’ thing about it. We are as unable to do that as we are to match God’s power. We just can’t obtain the perfect holiness of God.

Does the word “abominable” rub a bit the wrong way? Overstated? In the context of sin, the word abomination is used only once in the New Testament, and Jesus said it.

“The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. ‘And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God’” (Luke 16:14–15).

What is exalted among men? In this case, it’s the love of money. But we know what else is exalted in this world. The love of status, popularity, beauty, and power.

Good thing none of us have problems with these abominations.

So, we serve and worship a God who has so much power that we cannot comprehend it. He possesses perfect holiness and sinlessness which we cannot obtain, no matter how hard we may try. Shocker of shockers, He loves us, we who are soiled with those abominations, with a love that is eternal, that will never fade or die. He will never stop loving us. We know this because of a startling truth. God is love, straight through. He could no more stop loving us than He could stop being God. Thus, He forgives. He is compassionate. Merciful beyond our capacity to grasp. His character is so infused with love that He Himself died to wash away our abominations. In addition, He gives us His holiness, and we become as holy as He. Because we are now holy, we can come into His presence. This is all free.

He won’t give us all His power, however. He keeps that for Himself, although He does work it through us. His primary concern is our relationship with Him. If He were to give us His unlimited power, I can’t imagine the dreadful results. We already struggle with getting holiness right. Foolish people, we think we can possess rightness before God, somehow, all on our own.

But He forgives that one, too.

1All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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“God don’t never change,” sang Blind Willie Johnson in a song recorded a little over ninety years ago, in 1929. Was Blind Willie’s theology on track? Yes, it was. The Lord said the same thing about Himself.

“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). 1

Some Christians think that the Lord God Almighty changed between the Old and New Testaments. He was the punishing God of wrath in the Old Testament. He drowned every living thing in the world when He flooded the earth. “Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:23). He obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah with fire. He called for Israel to completely destroy several people groups: the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. (Deuteronomy 20:16–18). He was cruel and merciless. It’s embarrassing, they think, that the Christian God is like this. The God of the New Testament does not behave this way. He is loving, forgiving, and merciful.

However, many of the same Christians, if one of their loved ones was murdered, would be calling for the killer to face the death penalty. They would probably agree that it would have been a good and just thing if Hitler or Stalin would have been killed in infancy. We can judge others worthy of death, apparently, but the Lord cannot.

So, they believe things have changed since the beginning of the New Testament era and the birth of Jesus, our loving Savior. God is a God of love and is not “cruel.” Somehow, they ignore the word “wrath,” both in Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s. The citations are too numerous to list here, but here two good examples, the first from Jesus, the second from Paul:

“Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people” (Luke 21:23).

In this passage, Jesus is referring to His own people, the Jews.

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6).  

God’s wrath is coming against those whose sins have not been washed away in the blood of Jesus.

However, perhaps the most stunning truth concerns the actions of Jesus, whom many consider only gentle and kind. He is a lamb, after all.

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’” (Revelation 6:15–17).

The wrath of the Lamb?

If you read last week’s article, you may remember that we considered the seemingly contrasting truths of Jesus being the least as well as the greatest, the vulnerable Lamb as well as the Almighty God. Now, we are being asked to wrap our heads around the truth that Jesus is the Lamb who is wrathful and destructive.

God don’t never change. He was wrathful and destructive in the Old Testament. He remains so in the New Testament era. He has always judged as righteous those who believe in Him, all the way back to Noah. Thanks be to the God of love and justice who has rescued us from the wrath to come. What an amazing God.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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We trust people who keep their word. We can do business with them. If a kitchen remodel is needed, we make sure to hire someone reliable, someone who does what they have guaranteed in their contract. We don’t want the worker to leave the job site with the sink sitting on the floor, never to return. Such betrayal angers us; surprises us. I guess we shouldn’t be shocked. We have trouble keeping our own promises.

The account in Genesis 15:1-21 about God making covenant with Abraham, His promise to give him and his offspring the land, is deep and lovely. The Lord wanted to prove to Abraham that He would keep this promise when he asked, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” (Genesis 15:8).1 The covenant was enacted according to the cultural mores of the time. The covenant-makers would cut animals in two and walk between them, as if to say, “May this happen me if I do not keep my part of the covenant.” However, when God and Abraham made their covenant, Abraham didn’t walk between the sacrificed animals. Only the Lord did. Abraham actually fell asleep—the perfect metaphor for us. We may as well be asleep concerning our need to keep our commitments to God. We Christians try but are simply unable to do so.

One example of our inability to be faithful to a promise are the vows exchanged when we are married. We swear before our future spouse, the ones gathered, and God, that we will love, honor, cherish, and remain faithful to him or her alone. All husbands and wives have failed to keep these promises. What does it mean when the spouse says, “Honey, I will always love you.”? It’s a sad truth, but I say and do things in my marriage that are quite unlike the acts of someone who cherishes another. I’m not sure how long it took for me to fail to keep my word, as sincere as I was when I spoke it. A few hours after our marriage? A few days? “Always” didn’t last very long.

So, a question. When God makes promises, does He keep them?

This is but one example, but it is huge. He promised a Savior and Redeemer thousands of years before Jesus arrived. He’s the only one who is able to do such things.

This is His promise to love us, which He will always keep:

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23).

God’s love never ceases. That means after we sin. His mercies are inexhaustible; they will never, ever end. Have you ever sinned since you’ve been a Christian? Of course, you have. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). I don’t know about you, but when I sin, I don’t feel good about myself, and I especially don’t feel good before God when I pray. I’m unhappy that I’ve let the Father down—again. What is wrong with me? How can the Lord possibly love someone who did that again? This is when I say back to the Lord what He already knows. His love is steadfast and never ceases. His mercy never ends. I take comfort in this parable that Jesus taught:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10–14).

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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Last night, Laurie and I watched the movie, Sully, starring Tom Hanks. It was our second viewing. After Captain Sullenberger had safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, an enormous deal of attention was focused on him and the incident. None of the passengers, flight crew, or pilots died in the landing. Understandably, everyone he met thanked him and called him a hero. In one scene, an employee of the hotel in which he was staying asked if he needed anything. The captain wondered if his uniform could be dry cleaned before the following morning, even though the hour was late. It was the clothing he had been wearing in the cockpit that day, and all that he had. She was surprised. This may not be a direct quote, but she said something like, “Dry cleaning? Captain Sullenberger, I would give you the hotel if I could.”

This heroic landing occurred only a little over seven years after the horrors of 9/11. New Yorkers were incredibly grateful that a potential tragedy had ended happily. What Sullenberger did was extraordinary. The press called it The Miracle on the Hudson. He was loved and hailed as a hero, as he should have been, for his skill and good judgment that day. One hundred and fifty-five people were saved. They were all preparing themselves to die in an awful, fiery plane crash. If I had been one of them, I’m sure I would want to thank Captain Sullenberger, too—probably hug him, if I had the opportunity. I would be standing and applauding among the hundreds or thousands if he were to be honored in public. It was right and good and proper.

One hundred and fifty-five lives.

I don’t think it would be difficult to imagine the overwhelming joy and relief the passengers and crew felt, to be facing death one minute and rescued a few minutes later.

Similarly, It would not be difficult to imagine how grateful one would be after being saved from drowning in a flood or rescued from being burned alive from a fire. We would be thanking our rescuers over and over again, I am certain. One moment we are readying ourselves for pain and death, and the next, instead, we are being told, “You’re gonna be all right. We’re taking you home.”

As I thought about the accolades being given to this heroic captain, it caused me to think about the multitudes in heaven that will be present to offer accolades to the One who rescued multitudes from death. Not just the passengers and crew of an airliner. Not just the people of a city or a nation. There will not be thousands or even ten thousand. There will be “myriads of myriads,” whatever number that is. This is our beloved brother John trying to explain the numbers he witnessed.

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’” (Revelation 5:11–13).1

Amen. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. He rescued us from the pain and darkness of eternal death. We are sons of our Father, the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of all things. Co-heirs in a kingdom with His Son, Jesus. We have been given His very righteousness and are without spot or blemish before Him. We shall reign with Him forever and ever.

Can you imagine the thanks, the gratitude?

I cannot.

But I will give it. I will give it for eternity.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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In a day where the flow of profound thoughts has been clogged by the plaque of current events, I would like to offer a truth that ranks high among those that define our limited comprehension of things unseen.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).1

If the reader has never attempted to contemplate eternity, I encourage him or her to do so now. Take a few seconds. That’s all you will need. We mortals cannot conceive of anything without a beginning, nor anything without an end. God did not give us this ability, which is what the verse says: “…he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Everything the Lord God Almighty does has eternity about it and within it.

Let’s begin with the nature of God’s life. The life He gives to those who know and obey Him is eternal—as eternal as He is. To consider the character of that everlasting life, we must add love. If you are a Christian, not only will you live for eternity, you will be loved and cared for by your Creator, time without end. This life with the Lord assumes beauty and wonder because as the verse above said, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” He is wonderful—such a common word but let us read it here in its beauty.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

We will be with Him and in His overwhelming presence and glory forever. I think that if we were to experience that fullness in our earthly bodies, our brains and bodies would surely explode. It’s a good thing we will have new, eternal bodies there!

It means joy—not just the kind of joy we have when we experience something wonderful here on earth, as good as it may be. It is an eternal joy that will infuse our beings. No joy in our natural world approaches it.

“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).

Yes. That joy includes sorrow and sighing fleeing away. The Hebrew word for “flee” has with it a meaning of being driven away.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Oh, the things we have done that He has forgiven and washed from us, but which we regret. If we had just not done them. If we had been able to hold ourselves back from saying what we said or doing what we did. Or, contrarily, we should have done but didn’t.

All of that, gone from us for eternity.

He will give us new deep and wondrous names, eternal identities.

“To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17b).

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name” (Revelation 3:12).

Christian, you can see that we must conquer. Oh no, not with force of arms or human strength but with faith. We must believe the truths written above and the salvation and redemption Jesus mercifully supplies. It may be difficult; it may become more difficult in the days to come. But it is not impossible by any means.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24–25).

In Him, with Him, and through Him, we can do this.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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I don’t want to mess your day up too much, but since I must deal with certain truths, I thought I may as well include you on this unique journey with God that you and I are on in this wild and crazy year of 2020. So, consider this:

God bends things.

“Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:13–14).1

The Lord makes things crooked, and we cannot make them straight. But we will keep trying while trusting in Him. What else can we do?

He also brings disease, which, as we have seen, has made things a bit—warped.

Many Christians think that God does only good things according to what we consider good, in our natural understanding. Therefore, He would never cause nor allow a disease, a disaster to bend things, or to make things negative and difficult for us. He is, after all, a God of love. And love would not behave in this way. So, let me say this straight up: Such a view of God is not biblical. Strum through these passages and let’s see if we can hear what may be a sour tune:

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

“The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish” (Deuteronomy 28:22).

In spite of these plain truths, however, I will tell you with sadness that many Christians reject such passages, saying “That’s the Old Testament. Things are different in the New Testament.” Well, then what should we do with Ananias and Sapphira? We can read about it in Acts 5:1-10, which is, by the way, in the New Testament. The Lord took the lives of these two people because of their deceit. Here is what happened soon after that incident:

“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them” (Acts 5:11–15).

Good, wondrous, miraculous things happened after God took these two lives?

Here are some more biblical incidents to consider. This one is about King Herod.

“And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a man!’ Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:22–24).

The Lord did wondrous things after He killed an evil king in front of a crowd.

But one day, the Lord is going to take the lives of many more.

“So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:15).

“After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests” (Revelation 15:5–6).

So much for the cute, baby angel image.

Let me hasten to add that He heals and forgives, too. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (Psalm 103:2–4).

The Lord brings disease, but also forgives and heals. Got Him figured out yet?

Let me know when you do.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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giphy

Alan Turing was a brilliant English mathematician who, using that God-given gift, helped the Allies win the Second World War. The Allies needed to decode the encrypted German radio messages their enemy was sending. Those communications were encrypted by a machine called Enigma. The code-breaking machine Turing and others designed, which defeated Enigma, was a pre-cursor to today’s digital computer. For his efforts during the war, Turing was made an officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

It goes without saying, I hope, that Nazi Germany finds its place of dishonor among other cruel, fascistic nations and regimes throughout the history of this dark and rebellious planet. Nazi Germany was not the first authoritarian rule that tried to completely destroy the members of a race or group, nor was it the last. Germany’s attempt is striking because the race it endeavored to eradicate was the Jews, God’s original chosen people.

I do not know why God allows what He allows and disallows what He disallows; what He causes and for what reasons. No one does, although it may seem that we have more light sometimes than others. This is foolish thinking, truly, since none of us has the eternal viewpoint of the eternal God Almighty. And there is no light on the issue at hand. No mortal knows why God caused or allowed the Second World War, nor the mass slaughter of the Jewish people.

If you have visited this blog before, you may be aware that more than once I have cited these smack-in-the-face realities spoken by the Lord Himself.

“Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” (Amos 3:6).1

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

“Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire” (Psalm 46:8–9).

We Christians may not like these verses. We may try to ignore them. But there they are spoken in as plainly as possible. We must accept them. If that requires swallowing hard and pulling up our boots to do the hard work of thinking about the sovereignty of God, then that is what we must do. We cannot ignore the truth of the words of God.

But back to Alan Turing and the code-breaking machine. Mr. Turing was a homosexual. After the war, he was arrested for indecency regarding this behavior. This law has since been eliminated in Britain, as it should be. One should not be arrested for this sexual sin. But it is a sin, nevertheless. The scriptures that declare this truth are as clear as any in the Holy Writ. It is clearly condemned in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 7, and Romans 1:26-27. In addition, Jesus declared that only two genders exist when He confirmed the creation mandate in Matthew 19:4–5: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”

The point I want to make concerning Alan Turing is that the Lord gave Mr. Turing the mathematical genius he possessed, knowing that he would use it to help defeat Nazi Germany. Thus, we have a man engaged in blatant sin against help defeat an enemy that was also engaged in blatant sins against God. Why would He do this? We do not know, and we may never know, unless such inscrutabilities are made known to the saints in the heavenly kingdom.

Let me close by adding the verse that follow Psalm 46:8–9 cited above which state that the Lord brings desolations to the earth and burns the chariots with fire: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

Amen.

1All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lord God does not think the way we do (Isaiah 55:8-9). Not only are His thoughts higher than ours, His ways not our ways, our thoughts not His thoughts, but His thoughts are so much higher than ours that we simply will not be able to comprehend them, unless He reveals them to us. Thankfully, by His grace, He has made known His thoughts via Scripture. If we look closely, we will find that He will act in ways that we may view as unwise, unworkable, and even doomed to fail—at least at first.

Long ago, we sang a praise chorus based on Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That was it, that one verse sung a couple of times, maybe three if the song leader pressed it. It was a “bring-them-in-from-the-parking-lot” chorus, for those unfamiliar with church-speak. However, again, to my shame, I never bothered to investigate the passage’s context. Here it is:

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

This is the LORD’s doing;

it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day that the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:22–24).1

Do you see why believers are to rejoice?

The builders rejected the stone that the Lord had provided. What stone is this? Paul wrote, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19–21).

The stone is Jesus. Israel, “the builders,” who should have installed this rock, rejected Him.

Jesus told His disciples in Luke 20:9-17 that the rejection in Psalm 118 spoke of Him. He taught them a parable about a land owner who let his vineyard out to tenants and  “went into another country for a long while.” When the harvest was ready, the owner sent his servants to collect some of the fruit. The men overseeing the land in the owner’s absence beat up one servant, stoned one, and killed another. The owner sent more servants, and the overseers did the same to them. Finally, the owner sent his son, whom they killed. Then Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22 about the rejection of the cornerstone. A cornerstone, according to the Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon, is “the cornerstone or capstone of a building, essential to its construction.”2  Israel would reject the One who was crucial to their lives; nevertheless, their plan would fail. His would succeed. He would be installed—exalted—as the cornerstone. This was to be marvelous in our eyes.

It is.

Think about that for a moment. The Lord made the day when He Himself would be slaughtered on a cross. He created the day of rejection of Himself, so His victorious purpose would come to pass. This is not snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat; this is planning the defeat that will lead to a victory.

Who does that?

Counter-intuitive, I-will-plan-My-own defeat thinking.

We—none of us—would ever make a plan so we would purposefully fail in order to gain some kind of victory. The outcome would be too uncertain. It sounds like insanity, doesn’t it? Only one Person possesses the high-as-the-heavens-are above-the-earth thinking as well as the ability, to pull this off.

It was a day the Lord made. It is marvelous in our eyes. We will rejoice.

All glory to the sovereign Creator of all things.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

2Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 87). New York: United Bible Societies.

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