Thoughts on Murder and End Times

Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech!  For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me.  24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”    Genesis 4:23-24

I’ve started re-reading my Bible starting with Genesis 1.  I have tended to research the Bible for instruction on different issues to do my best to write accurately for God’s purposes.  I just haven’t been reading it like I suggest people often should; read it from start to finish like any other book.

I started doing that years ago for the exercise of writing my own Biblical timeline.  Time references are amazingly abundant on the Old Testament.  It’s tedious but not difficult to construct a timeline of who lived and died when, etc.

So…back to re-reading starting with Genesis.  After the Fall of Adam and Eve, the first real sin of note is Cain murdering Abel.  He was punished and received a mark that showed no one should lay a hand on him for his sin.  There weren’t that many people in that day, and they were all related.  Everyone knew everyone and talked.  It was probably not too different from a small town with all the attending small town gossip.

Continuing in the “family tradition,” Cain’s great-great-great-great grandson Lamech killed a man too as seen in today’s verses from Genesis.  Lamech was born 874 years after Creation.  Sometime after that was when he committed the world’s second recorded murder.  Lamech was Noah’s father, born 1056 years after Creation.

Genesis 5 is the Genealogy of Adam and his offspring.  Then we get to Genesis 6, which is the prelude and explanation for the Flood, which happened 1656 years after Creation.  Genesis 6 describes how the sons of God, who the Book of Enoch identifies as the Fallen Watchers (angels) decided to mate with human women, producing what we now call the Nephilim.

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.    Genesis 6:4

God saw how wicked mankind had become and resolved to kill everyone except Noah and his family.  The wickedness mention is not detailed, although I have no doubt it included sexual sins and all types of violence, including murder.

So, aside from The Fall, the only sin that gets specific mention is murder.  More murder is implied in Genesis 6:4.

Why is it important to recognize this?  Jesus told us so in Matthew 24.

For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.     Matthew 24:38-39

End times will be preceded by events very like those described in Genesis 6; murder and overall wickedness.

What do we see happening right now?  Increased lawlessness and murder.  Crime rates and shootings have skyrocketed in the shadow of pandemic racial tensions.  Matthew also provides some other detail about end times.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.    Matthew 24:9

Such things are happening now.  See my recent article Thought Police, which describes a Massachusetts school board’s official, published policy of encourage students and faculty to rat out anyone over incidents of bias and microaggression.  Obviously, those are subject to interpretation.

Murder.  It’s how things really started going south after The Fall.  It’s how things are degenerating now.  Are we looking at harbingers of end times?  It pays to watch as Jesus instructed us all to do, and then put our faith and our peace in God.

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”    Psalm 91:1-2

I ran across this interesting YouTube video by Dr. Michael S Heiser.  He talks about how you never read anything in the Old Testament about demons being cast out.  It simply didn’t happen.  The question he then poses is if people saw Jesus casting out demons and thought that this is what the Messiah did.

He explains this using Psalm 91, which is about God being the psalmist’s refuge and fortress.  Verse three starts a listing of all the things God will protect us from:

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.

Psalm 91 has a unique story behind its discovery among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It was in a jar among four other psalms not included in the Bible.  Those other four are exorcism psalms.  That begs the question of why Psalm 91 was stored with those.

All the things listed in Psalm 91 starting in verse three are phrases that, in Hebrew, denote false gods, demonic beings.  The Septuagint records it as a Psalm of David, although he is not credited in our common Bibles.  David and Solomon were thought by many to have had power over evil spirits.  When Jesus came along and started casting out demons, the thoughts of many were indeed that this must be the Messiah, heir of David.

Heiser also reminds us that this is the psalm Satan quotes to Jesus to convince Him to tempt God and leap off the temple.  Heiser says that this wasn’t just a temptation by Satan.  He was fishing for information.

His is a principle that we seldom recognize; God is omniscient, and Satan is not.  God can see throughout time, and Satan cannot.  He knew who Jesus was and what His purpose was, but not the specific plan itself.

Satan tries to put Jesus into a dilemma over how to respond without tipping His hand.  If He says, OK, I’ll do it and the angels indeed save Him, Satan will think Jesus can’t be killed.  Killing Jesus would then be off the table in Satan’s own planning.  But Jesus being killed is the plan!  He needs to let Satan wonder what’s going to happen and how to deal with Jesus!

So Heiser finds Satan’s tempting Jesus is more than a simple case of temptation.  It was part of the chess match between God and Satan.

I encourage you to follow the link above and hear the whole explanation from Heiser himself!

Pulling the Thread

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.    John 14:6

BeautyBeyondBones published an interesting article this past week.  She asked her readers for their thoughts about aliens…and where God fits into that topic.

I didn’t think about it when I first read the article, but I suddenly realized she made a very innocent mistake.  We shouldn’t ask how God fits into anything.  We should ask how everything fits within God’s universe.  It’s a subtle difference in phrasing, but the perspective shift is critical.

Anyway, my response was how I’m certain that aliens are possibly demonic.  I also think that they may be the fallen Watchers, angels that joined Satan in his rebellion.  I think this is an attempt to deceive us and take our eyes off God.  Satan is the shady guy in the alley going, “Pssst!”

I felty a little bad about my reply, because I wrote a comment to her about how the Vatican’s official policy is to, one, be ready to minister to them.  Two, they think that an alien race may be more advanced in their knowledge of God than we and teach us a more insightful Gospel.  The Vatican may even require its members to change their faith in accordance with the alien’s teachings.

That’s pretty bizarre, but I’ve read quotes from Vatican officials to that effect.  You can read my article It’s a Real Fight.

The reason I feel a little bad about writing that comment on her blog is that she’s a devout, died-in-the-wool Roman Catholic.  I’ve met very few people with her incredible faith.  We’re friends, and I didn’t want her to think I was trashing Catholicism in general; I wasn’t.  I was just reporting the facts.  I wasn’t trying to single out Catholicism at all.

It isn’t just the Vatican that has gone astray on some of its teachings.  All church organizations have their errors in teaching.  Some churches have gay priests/pastors in defiance of clear Biblical teaching that God considers sexual sins a big deal.  You should read some of the punishments in the Old Testament for different sexual sins.

Too many churches have ignored Genesis altogether by taking the stance that God could have used evolution to “create” man.  But here’s the too-obvious question, which I must admit I missed; If death came into the world through sin, and that through one man, how could evolution take place to produce man?  Evolution is based on inferior life dying to make room for the new, improved evolved life.  How could death arrive before man whose sin brought it into the world?

Both the alien and the evolution questions are the same in form; they’re a thread begging to be pulled.

Consider your faith as a very nice, knitted sweater.  Then some shadowy voice in a dark alley in your mind goes, “Pssst!  See that ugly thread sticking out of your nice sweater?  Why you don’t give it a little pull?”

And you do.  Except that once you pull on it, it doesn’t come off.  It just comes out.  You keep pulling at it until your sweater, your faith is ruined.

That’s how evolution has worked.  If we accept evolution and pull on that thread, we find ourselves having to pull it a bit further, asking how could the Bible be right about Creation?  How could it be a mere 6000 years old, as the Bible shows us with all its listings of the years of the generations?

We ask the question, “How does God fit into this?”  And so it begins.

We, in our “wisdom”, decide that maybe the Bible didn’t mean literal days in the Creation story.  Maybe that was just symbolic language.  Maybe there are other cases of symbolic language in there too.  May Noah’s Flood wasn’t really a world-wide flood, just a very widespread but local flood.

Did Moses really part the Red Sea or did they just find a shallow crossing they could easily wade across?

And so the thread keeps getting pulled, until the sweater is unraveled and we decide Jesus didn’t do any miracles or rise from the dead (I mean, c’mon!  Really?) and isn’t the Son of God Who paid for our sins.  He was just a really good man who taught us really good things.

Aliens?  How does God fit into aliens?  Maybe Genesis got it wrong again.  Maybe God didn’t create the sun, moon, and stars for us to know “times and season.”  Maybe the universe really is too big to not have produced life elsewhere!  Maybe humanity is supremely arrogant to think that we’re the only sentient life in the universe instead of humbly, thankfully realizing God made it all for us; a loving gift for His most prized part of Creation.

Pulling threads is a dangerous game.  Yes, it only looks like a small thing hanging out there.  Except that it isn’t.

As I’ve said countless times, read your Bibles and learn how God made everything.  Learn to see how everything around you has to fit into His narrative and not the other way around!

What About Conspiracy Theories?

The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.    Proverbs 14:15

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.    Proverbs 22:3

What Should We Make of Conspiracy Theories? is about taking a careful, measured approach to conspiracy theories.  I sometimes write about things that fall into the conspiracy theory file.  I’m never 100% sold on any of them, although I think that they all bear watching.  Why?

The ones I address usually have to do with possible links to end times prophecy.  One needn’t go off madly over each one; just watch as Jesus instructed us in Matthew 24:

23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand…42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what [g]hour your Lord is coming.

Here’s an example.  I am not the only one to suspect that aliens are actually demonic.  Abductees often exhibit the same trauma as those who have suffered possession or oppression.  If one looks at the broadest arc of history, we can start with the Book of Enoch.  While not a part of the Bible, it was found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Jude quotes it in his New Testament letter.

Enoch tells of the fallen Watchers who were led by Lucifer in their revolt against God.  There is a list of several by name and the secret things they taught humans; metal working, music, etc.  I realized it sounded very much like a list of the Greek gods and their areas of “expertise.”  Were the Greek gods real?  Were they fallen Watchers leading humanity astray as they had with other false gods of the Old Testament?

Will they return, not as gods, but as aliens with technology and “wisdom” like the ancient Greek gods?  Will they, as aliens, be the gods of our scientific age just as they were gods of ages past?

Consider that question in light of the Vatican’s L.U.C.I.F.E.R. Device.  It is a binocular, infrared telescope at the Vatican Observatory in Arizona.  What is it for?  A couple reporters went there to find out.  The short version is this – you get better pictures of UFOs with infrared imaging than normal light.  That according to the Vatican officials there.  They also speak of the possibility of eventually engaging aliens who may know more about God than we do.  While the Vatican may not initially require members to change their beliefs, they think that time may come.

See my article It’s a Real Fight.

There are other conspiracy theories about technology, specifically AI, that may be used in controlling populations.  I watch for those, because such abilities would play into the hands of the one world leader prophesied in Daniel and Revelation.

As I said to start out, I’m not 100% on any of these things.  I see possible patterns that may connect with end times, which Jesus warned us to keep watch for, and…I watch.

Let me give you my three categories for evaluating conspiracy theories.  First are the well-reasoned, well-spoken individuals who seem to make sense.  These are perhaps worth a further listen.

Second is the other end of the spectrum.  This is people who are not well-spoken, have no facts, and are armed with only suspicion.  Excited proclamations form the basis of their claims.  Nothing more.

Third is the group that falls in between.  They are not well-spoken and are also excitable.  However, if you listen carefully, they seem to have some facts to verify.  Their manner may be like the second group, but their untrained intelligence has put a few things together worth noting.  I remember watching a lengthy, highly edited and energetic YouTube video about the Nephilim.  The guy was a bit hard to take, but I realized he was dealing in a lot of factual information, so I watched.

Like I said, the style of the second group with the facts of the first group.

All this is to encourage you to watch for what is happening in society, in science…anything.  It is also to urge you to study your Bibles so you can perhaps see things it talks about in the world around you.  When you do, don’t jump in with both feet!!  Formulate your hypothesis or carefully evaluate someone else’s.  Keep an open, if critical mind…

…and WATCH!

Proof of Jesus’ Resurrection?

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit.  51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split…    Matthew 27:50-51

This is something I’ve wanted to write about.  I saw an article a while back which listed at length non-Christian sources documenting Jesus life, death, and reports of His resurrection.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it again.

Then today I saw this video on YouTube – Stunning Proof of Christ’s Resurrection – covering roughly the same material.  It isn’t as detailed as the article I read, but it at least gives a very good overview.  It mentions in brief several secular sources as well as noting how the Gospels and New Testament epistles withstand historical scrutiny as well or better than other readily accepted ancient works.  There is also a very brief piece about archeological evidence supporting the Biblical account of Jesus’ death.

Honestly, I will disagree with the title of the piece.  I’d prefer to call it “evidence supporting” Jesus’ resurrection.  The Bible’s authenticity has been shown time and again.  It needs no proof.  However, evidence agreeing with it can be helpful in witnessing to those who have not yet accepted Christ.

Proof is absolute, and I don’t think we can offer that.  Additionally, absolute proof requires no faith, and faith is the foundation of any relationship, especially one with God!

Coral grown in the shape of chariots

Here’s an example of evidence in support of the Bible; The Exodus Case by Dr. Lennart Moller.  He documents many archeological finds that fully agree with the Biblical account of the Exodus.  For example, there is an underwater causeway between the Nuweiba Peninsula on the eastern shore of the Sinai Peninsula going across to Saudi Arabia.  Littered along it are corals that grew over chariots wheels, cabs, and human and animal skeletons, the remains of an army.  The chariot wheel designs seen are in keeping with Egyptian chariots of that time.  There is much more!

I recommend the book very highly!

Still it is not proof!

Compelling evidence is what has swayed many prominent atheists to come to faith in Christ.  Foremost is C.S Lewis.  He is known as a Christian writer, but he was an atheist who set out to prove God doesn’t exist.  He eventually came to the only conclusion he could and accepted Jesus as Savior.

Lee Strobel is another.  He was an investigative journalist who set out to prove whether God is real.  He expected to find a lot of evidence He does not exist.  He found the opposite.  His research is the background for his first book in a series, The Case for Christ.

Follow the link above to the video.  You should find it very helpful in understanding why your faith is well-founded…or why you should dig deeper and come to faith!

A Church Rejects the Bible

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.    2 Timothy 3:16–17

Pastor Josh Scott of a progressive church in Nashville, TN has come out in saying that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God.  He says that “Saying that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, it absolves us of our responsibility to do what our ancestors did, which is to wrestle.”

This statement simply demonstrates a lack of understanding and recognition of world history.  He thinks that we should wrestle with issues and conflicts as our ancestors did!  Here’s the rub – our ancestors have committed atrocities since the beginning.  Cain wrestled with his relationship with God instead of simply accepting Him and that relationship.  The result was the first murder in human history; Cain killed his brother Able out of spite.

The Children of Israel wrestled in the same way after receiving God’s promise of prosperity, protection, and a “land flowing with milk and honey.”  Somehow, they couldn’t see their way to accepting such a benevolent relationship and suffered the consequences for hundreds of years!

Dachau

Let’s fast forward to the last hundred years, most notable World Wars one and two.  Mankind wrestled with politics, us vs. them, racial prejudice and hatred.  That wrestling produce millions of lives lost and millions more irreparably ruined.  That wrestling produced the Holocaust.

And Scott thinks this wrestling is good??

Scott also complains about the “divinely sanctioned” genocides recorded in the Bible.  It is true that those things happened, but to say they happened and ignore the entire situations is intellectually dishonest at the worst, ignorant at best.

The two such instances I can recall outright are first, Israel’s dealings with the Amalekites.  Second, we have the genocides recorded as Israel displaced the indigent peoples of the Land of Canaan.

The Amalekites.  This from Deuteronomy 25:17-19.

 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.

This refers back to Exodus 17:8-14

Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became [e]heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”

This was an unprovoked attack by the Amalekites as the Israelites were making their way under God’s direction to Mt. Sinai.  God told Moses to record this incident and promised to blot them out.  Exodus recorded the first first part of the story, and Deuteronomy records the final execution.

By the way, another of Scott’s problems with the Bible is that he sees it more as a library collection of unrelated works, whereas it is actually one document, consistently recorded over centuries.

Then we have the multiple genocides of the occupants of Canaan.  But let’s get some context from Numbers 13.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”

Bringing back a sample of fruit…

26 Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Then they told him and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there… 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Giants?  Where did they come from?  Let’s go back to Genesis 6:

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

There is evidence of the Nephilim North America too!

And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

A great evil occurred here.  The fallen angels, Satan’s cohorts, came to earth and took women, having sex with them.  This produced what many refer to as the Nephilim.  They are the bastard children of those beings who revolted against God, their Creator.  The Flood wiped out all mankind, but the Nephilim were produced again after The Flood.  The Book of Enoch goes into great detail about the Fallen Watchers and their doings with women.

The giants of Canaan were their descendants.  Of course, they needed to be wiped out!  God had done that once with The Flood but promised to never send another such flood.  The Israelites were to be His means of ridding the earth of this evil.

See?  The Bible is consistent book to book.  Genocides occurred, but they were the result of the evil of those who were wiped out.

One more of Scott’s arguments is that people have used the Bible as the justification for slavery, white supremacy, and more.  This is such an inane argument…I can only characterize it as sheer stupidity.  Scott is blaming the Source for others’ misuse of it.  What if you wrote something, and someone else misused your words to promote evil?  Should your writings be blamed and discredited?  Nuff said.

The Bible; consistent and inerrant.  Read it.  Learn it.  Study it.  Otherwise, you might find yourself ignorantly committing the same heresies as Scott.

Another Arab Spring?

Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son.  You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction.  12 He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.  And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”    Genesis 16:11-12

The Real Truth Magazine published an article earlier this month about the 2011 Arab Spring Uprising.  The question being asked in this 10-year retrospective is whether we are due for another Arab Spring.

It started in December of 2010 when a fruit seller was severely abused by the police.  He couldn’t take the oppression anymore and set himself on fire outside a government office.

Arab oppression is so harsh that this one man and his suicide motivated tens of millions of Arabs across northern Africa and the Middle East to protest in their capitols.  Hosni Mubarak was ousted.  Muammar Gaddafi fled for his life, was tracked down, and killed by opposition forces.  Others suffered similar loss of power if not life.

What has the net effect been?  Not much.  Worse, if anything.  Those who filled the power vacuum of those displaced have cracked down as hard or harder to prevent more uprisings.  From the article:

“One of the lessons of the Arab Spring, unfortunately, is that repression works, that the wall of fear can be rebuilt,” Shadi Hamid, a Brookings Institution Senior Fellow, told NBC News.  Egypt’s political outcome portrays that lesson.

Many look at the Arab world and wonder what the answer is.  The heralded Camp David Accord designed to bring peace to the Middle East under President Carter was a noble effort that has joined other such efforts on the garbage heap of history.

Unfortunately, there is no answer.  The Arabs will never get along with themselves or Israel.  Ever.  How can we know this?  God told Hagar and us as much in Genesis 16.

Hagar was the handmaid of Abraham’s wife, Sarai.  Sarai had been promised that she would give birth in her old age to a son who would become a great nation.  Impatient that nothing was happening, she told Abraham to get Hagar pregnant, and that child would be the heir.  Sarai later decided it was a bad idea and tried to get rid of the pregnant Hagar, who fled.

While in the wilderness, God told her what we read in the verses above; call him Ishmael, and life will be rough for him and his.  The conflict between him and his half-brother – and legitimate heir – Isaac.

That’s how it’s been up to the present day.

However, there is hope.  Being Arab does not mean one is doomed.  Anyone who accepts Jesus as Savior will escape that prophecy and will join all believers in eternal life.

See my article We ARE Living in Biblical Times from last September.  The last part of the article deals with how Jesus is appearing to Arabs who are seeking and bring them into His fold.  I’m talking about today!  This is happening currently!  Jesus’ love knows no bounds!

As a group of nations, Arabs will fulfill their destiny.  But, as with us all, we can individually come to Jesus and be saved regardless of nationality, personal history…anything!

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.    I Timothy 2:3-5

Rats!

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!    2 Timothy 3:1-5

In yet another sign of the apocalypse, the residents of Nantucket are ratting each other out.

Who’s got COVID?!?

It seems that exclusive island community off Cape Cod, MA has had a spike in COVID cases.  Fearful citizens are calling the COVID Contact Tracer hotline to report neighbors who are coughing, sneezing, or just not wearing a mask.

Nantucket’s normal year-round population is 11,000 people, living on a 13-mile island located 30 miles south of Cape Cod.

As of June 2020, the average home value was about $2.9 million, according to an analysis by a local real estate company.

The population has soared during the pandemic as people flee large cities and are able to work from home, and an estimated 18,000 people are currently believed to be on the island…

Of course, the population isn’t the only thing that has soared.  So has the number of COVID cases.  The “positivity rate” has spiked to 13.1%, one of the highest in the US.  If you want to see fledgling 1984 in practice, go to Nantucket.  Just watch your butt, ‘cause those people are on a mission.

“I get rat phone calls where people will be like: ‘I know that so and so is positive, and they’re at work and they’re driving around without a mask,’” said Elizabeth Harris, a nurse working at the local hospital in Nantucket who is in charge of investigating COVID-19 cases on the island.

People called out others on Facebook for appearing maskless in public spaces and demanded officials penalize local businesses whose employees did not follow public health guidelines…

“It’s sink or swim for many businesses. Once someone is named, that restaurant could just be out of business.”

Maybe it isn’t 1984 so much as communist East Germany during the bad old days with the Stasi.  That was the secret police agency of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The Stasi was one of the most hated and feared institutions of the East German communist government.

Am I over-reaching here?  If ratting people out over COVID becomes OK, what else will eventually be OK?  It’s like the old story of how to catch a wild pig.

Put out a bowl of food ad let it get used to eating out of it.  The put a section of fence next to the bowl and let it get used to that.  Eventually, you’ll have built a pen with a gate that the pig happily enters to eat from the bowl, and all you have to do is close the gate.

We’ve seen slippery slopes before.  Most recently has been the gay rights issue and same-sex marriage.  People warned of a slippery slope then and were dismissed.  Now there are news items at least monthly about “throuples,” which is apparently the new name for polygamy.

Ratting people out?  No loyalty there.  No sense of community.  People dividing themselves to try and protect themselves instead of banding together to protect themselves.  Everyone is becoming a traitor to everyone else on the island!

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves…traitors…

Aw, rats!

The Song of Simeon

(Simeon) took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”    Luke 2:28-32

Following is my dramatization, if you will, of the Song of Simeon from my novel, The Substance Hoped For.

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In the priest’s court of the temple sat Simeon.  The rest of the priests went about their duties without paying too much attention to him.  They were either too young to fully realize the significance of who he was or too accustomed to his presence to let it make much difference…anymore.  He was too old to do any real work, but there were a few who still valued his wisdom and sought his council.  His true value was no longer in how many rituals he oversaw or sacrifices he made.  It was in his total experience, his accumulated knowledge.  And one other thing.

Simeon had spoken with God, and God’s replies were not discovered in a temple scroll.  It had been a conversation.  Simeon had been a good priest and found favor with Yahve.  In return for his devotion and righteousness before Him, God had promised something to him; a Personal Favor.  Simeon would not die before seeing the Christ of God in the flesh.

That promise, once made known, had caused no small disturbance among the priests, the sons of Levi.  That meant that the advent of the New Covenant was upon them, and that was a very troubling thought.

While the Children of Israel professed to be anxiously waiting for the coming of the Savior first promised to Adam and Eve and later to their father, Abraham, they were not necessarily ready for it.  This was a race of people whose heritage was waiting.  They had spent centuries and generations waiting for the fulfillment of prophecy.  Sometimes they did it well and sometimes not, but they waited…a lot.  Egypt and deserts had special meanings in their collective memory.  Their heritage of waiting had been passed down through the generations until it had virtually become their religion.

Until Simeon.  With his revelation came the scary realization that the prophecy was at hand.  He was fairly young when it happened, but even so everyone knows that a man will only live for so long.

After the initial flurry of soul-searching, however, most people came to see that nothing was happening right this moment.  The old conditioning set back in, and they waited.  They were perhaps a bit better at the waiting now, because there was a time frame that they could comprehend, but, given Simeon’s youth at the time, this could still take years.  Time dragged on, and the waiting assumed its familiar face.

Most people began to forget Simeon.  They stopped paying attention to how old he was getting, which was the obvious sign that something should be happening pretty soon.  The younger priests had heard the story but had not experienced it firsthand.  It was nothing more than another “bible story” to them, and they gave it no more credence than they did any other.  To them, Simeon was just an exceptionally old priest who should be dying any day now.  It didn’t look like any promise was going to be kept.  He was just a nice guy to have around and humor in what seemed to be his patient disappointment.

As he raised his eyes toward the steps that descended to the Israel Court where only Jewish men and boys were allowed, no one noticed.  When he stretched out his legs, some nearby were merely careful not to trip over him.  As he stood, a few priests cast a quick glance and had only a brief thought that Simeon must be changing his routine today.  When he started toward those steps, he started catching some real, if slight, attention…

Simeon approached Mary, who held Jesus tightly to herself.  She saw his face and the years that it wore.  She was a long while getting past the long, white beard and sallow, wrinkled skin.  She looked beneath the grizzled eyebrows and caught her breath.  His eyes!  They were so unlike the rest of him!  They were strong and warm and loving and… they were young!  They shone and twinkled and smiled at her.

A crooked, leathery hand cupped her face and thin lips smiled for her alone.  She felt as though she had been given a blessing.  Or was it a thanks?  She could not tell.

He broke his gaze from her and beheld the Child.  Jesus looked up at him with the sort of quiet, wide-eyed innocence that children save for new faces.  He even seemed to open His arms to Simeon, who slowly and gently lifted Jesus from His mother’s arms.  He nuzzled the Child playfully, eliciting a laugh from Jesus.  Simeon kissed His cheek tenderly as a father would and then cradled the Infant in the crook of his arm.  With his eyes raised to heaven, he spoke in a voice that was strong but pitched only for this small gathering.

“Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your Word.  For mine eyes have seen your Salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people; a Light for the revelation of the Gentiles, and for the glory of Your people, Israel.”  He looked once more at Jesus, stroking Him as though He was the most Precious Thing he’d ever held.  A sadness entered him, and he turned to Mary.  “Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that is spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.  And a sword shall pierce through your own soul also.”

Once more, the leathered hand cupped her face, and he gently kissed her cheek.  She locked onto his eyes again, but they had changed.  They had aged.  They were still of the same character she had glimpsed moments ago, but they had succumbed to a fatigue that had been held at bay too long.

He handed the Child back to her.  He seemed like a man who had feasted and finally had his fill.  Regretfully, he pushes back from the table, knowing that the great dinner has ended.  It’s time to sleep.

Who Do You Trust?

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.    Psalm 20:7

It’s hard to know what to trust these days.  One news source slants things one way.  Another source predictably trumpets a different perspective.  Headlines and colored graphs try to instill fear in us so we come back to them for more information.

I remember trying to get home from Dallas, TX when America Airlines employees went on strike in the late 90’s.  There were 4-5 connections before I finally got home, but I made it.  One memory burned into my mind was being in one of the countless lines snaking around the terminal when this beautiful woman came striding along, microphone in hand and cameraman in tow.  Raising her microphone like a beacon, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Who’s pissed off and wants to be on TV??”

Apparently, she was out sick the day they taught journalism at journalism school.

News isn’t news.  It’s entertainment at best.  At worst, it’s propaganda to get as many people as possible to follow their tune.  Oh, some self-deluded souls might think they are serious reporters, but they haven’t smelled the coffee yet for all the Kool-Aid they’ve drunk.

There are decent sources around, but you really need to read around and not take everything you see/hear/read as undiluted truth.  Think critically.  Ask questions about how information X could be slanted. Hopefully you read my recent article How to Lie with Statistics.

Some put their trust in CNBC, some in Fox.  Some sit before their favorite source for information like peeping birds, mouths agape, waiting for another worm to be delivered.

We should do our best to understand the world around us; we live here, after all.  Plus, the one news source that is unimpeachable – the Bible – has given us veiled glimpses into the future.  We need to be alert and watch as Jesus instructed us to recognize the signs He gave us.

People are overly fixated on “666.”  Daniel’s prophecies tell us that one will come who will be a world leader and even broker peace in the Middle East, a seven-year treaty with Israel.  But the treaty will be broken halfway into that treaty, beginning the Apocalypse.

Daniel provides the first “rough draft” of end times prophecy.  Jesus gave us something more refined in Matthew 34, often referred to as The Olivet Discourse.  Finally, we have Revelation, which definitely pegs the weirdness meter and is virtually opaque.  How much is supposed to be literal?  How much is symbolic language?  That debate has raged for centuries!

But let’s study it all anyway.  We might not understand it, but of we know it we can recognize it when it happens!

For example, one of Daniel’s prophecies concerned a goat that would race quickly across the world and conquer all.  Daniel asked the angel what it meant and was told it was not for him to understand, just record.

Centuries later came Alexander the Great.  He was the goat.  No, not the Greatest Of All Time.  Did you know Greece’s national animal is the goat?  Not unlike our bald eagle.  You’ve heard of the Aegean Sea?  It’s Greek for the Goat Sea.

One could know Daniel’s prophecies without understanding them…until they happened!

See Daniel; The Ram and the Goat and Daniel; The Ram and the Goat, Continued.

So…where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Some trust in CNN, some in Fox, some in Twitter, but let’s all keep our heads during the turmoil of our times. Let’s all trust in the Lord, our God, the best news source since the invention of writing.

Keep reading Him, studying Him…and trusting Him!!