Covenants and moving of nations

It’s said, “Amos was written 3000 years ago, and it speaks to issues as current as tomorrow’s newspaper.”

What disgusted the prophets back then are daily occurrences all over the world today. There is no society to which Amos’ words would not apply.

“Hear this, you who are swallowing up the needy, who intend to make the poor of the land fail, and who are saying, ‘When will the New Moon fade so we may sell grain, and the Sabbath conclude so we may market winnowed wheat?’—shortchanging the measure, raising the price, falsifying the scales by treachery, buying the poor for cash, and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling chaff mixed in with the wheat” (Amos 8:4-6 ASV). Continue reading “Covenants and moving of nations”

Social reform or restoration of covenant living?

Amos has long been the favorite of social reformers; his voice speaks with power and clarity against injustices in life.

“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Judah, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have rejected the law of Jehovah, and have not kept his statutes, and their lies have caused them to err, after which their fathers did walk” (Amos 2:4 – ASV) . Continue reading “Social reform or restoration of covenant living?”

Covenant living

Marshal Keeble, a much beloved preacher of an earlier generation, was asked why he called all men “Brother”. Keeble’s replied that all men are his brothers, “If I miss ‘em in Christ, I’ll hit ‘em in Adam.”

In Genesis 1:27 we learn that mankind is created in God’s image:
“And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (ASV) Continue reading “Covenant living”

“Social Gospel” or “Covenant living”?

The “Social Gospel” is not about church “socials” or potlucks; that thinking is based on equivocation. The Social Gospel was developed by Walter Rauschenbusch, mostly as a reaction to the socio-political times around World War I. Lectures from 1917 were printed in “A Theology For the Social Gospel.” A poor summary would be preachers lining up folk to vote for political candidates who share their values, as an expression of the social gospel.

The basic idea attempted to apply Continue reading ““Social Gospel” or “Covenant living”?”

Covenant faithfulness and kindness

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 – ASV).

I often wonder what Bible critics are reading when I read their conclusions about God, especially in the Old Testament, being a surly, arbitrary brute. I wonder how they miss the connections being made in the Old Covenant and its relationships. Had Israel kept the covenant, they would have found the highest ethical standard of living known in the ancient world, especially when compared with other such “codes.” Continue reading “Covenant faithfulness and kindness”

Longsuffering, loving-kindness and justice

“Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; … And in the fourth generation they shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full” (Genesis 15:13-16, ASV).

That’s what God said to Abraham. Why do four hundred years pass before Abraham’s descendants inherit the Promised Land?

Because God loved the people of the land, even knowing someday the inhabitants of the land would reach a degree of evil they would have to be removed. Just as there was no place for Nazi Germany in the modern world, the peoples of Canaan likewise would reach a level of evil that could not be tolerated to continue. Continue reading “Longsuffering, loving-kindness and justice”

The grounds of Israel’s ethics and ours

God calls on his people to act in accordance with his own character and nature. Often we read in the Old Testament how the behavior of the Israelite was tied to his/her national story with God. For example: before God gave the people the Ten Commandments and the 613 laws of the covenant, he grounded it all in the founding story.

“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2 KJV).

The central event of the Old Testament is the exodus from Egypt and Sinai. God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery and the covenant formed at Mt. Sinai were the founding events and documents of the nation of Israel. Through the exodus and at Sinai, they became a nation. Continue reading “The grounds of Israel’s ethics and ours”

Tragic moral choice

In ancient Greek theater, tragedies were quite popular, a common plot, or sub-plot, requiring the hero to defy or disobey one Greek god in order to obey another.

Life is not a Greek tragedy where obedience to one god may require disobedience to another. For the Bible believer, we have one lawgiver and judge (James 4:12), and while it occasionally seems otherwise, his moral requirements do not put us where either way, whether we do or don’t, we stand condemned.

With the recent election still on our minds, we often hear of folk not liking either candidate (or party) say they voted for the “lesser of two evils.” It’d likely be more accurate to say they voted for the less objectionable of two less than ideal choices. Sometimes in life we get stuck with less than ideal choices (whether in politics or other areas of life), and the “lesser of two evils” kind of thinking seems to feed the idea we are sometimes forced to choose between two (or more) immoral alternatives. No matter which we choose, we are acting immorally and stand in transgression against God. We feel we can only choose the “lesser of two evils” or hope that our choice will “promote the greater good”, as there seems to us to be no moral solution. Continue reading “Tragic moral choice”

Suffering and evil

Most folk I know view tragic suffering as evil. But is it?

I think most Bible beleivers consider moral transgression as evil. Although many others don’t (consider Situation Ethics’ / Relativism’s / Pluralism’s denial of a universal morality).

Starting from a biblical basis of morality and ethics, we understand that, being made in the image of God, everyone has an inherent right to be treated with dignity and respect. Such a basis increases our sensitivity to calamities and difficulties of life. When people hurt, we tend to view it as a bad thing. Unless we follow the Community Organizer’s Bible, Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:

“RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective.)” Continue reading “Suffering and evil”

The System

Matt, a fine young man I watched grow up, made a comment that got me to thinking. Matt’s heart aches over the current situation in Ferguson; it is broken at the comments expressed by some who cheer the grand jury’s decision not to indict. Matt sees clearly what so many are forgetting, that a young man was killed. There is nothing to cheer in this, one way or the other.

What jumped out at me in Matt’s comments was: “…read the comments of way too many white people desperately holding on to the lie that the system is fair.”

“The system”… how it developed is a discussion for another time. What touched me is Matt’s underlying heartfelt plea that the system might be “fair.” Continue reading “The System”