Contrary to the lyrics of a popular Christmas hymn, it was probably not a silent night. As Joseph and Mary walked into the stable, they found themselves surrounded by various loud and dirty animals, each clamoring for food and space in the dingy shelter. The young couple may have wondered why Mary had to give birth in such an unrefined place. Only nine months earlier, they had been visited by an angel who foretold the coming of the long-promised Messiah through Mary’s virgin womb. As Joseph and Mary had come to realize, those angels had not included information about just where this world-changing birth would occur.
Now they knew. But as the new parents laid their precious child in that manger, they probably scarcely knew how symbolic such an act would be. Yes, the Creator of the entire universe — the Master Architect of everything in existence — was now resting in a rough-hewn wooden trough located in a crudely-built animal barn. As the newborn Jesus gasped his first breath in that stable, God knew that His plan for our redemption would be fully accomplished with Jesus’ last dying gasp on the cross.
We live in an age of sexual scandals. It seems almost every area of society is marked by the stench of lies and infidelity. It’s not that more scandalous activity is occurring than did in the past (Ecc. 1:9), but there is little doubt that in the Internet era such scandals are far more likely to be exposed.
Perhaps no other realm is more infamous and more despised for its sexual hypocrisy than that of politics. The sexual integrity of many of our nation’s politicians has been compromised. And yet many of them still hold their political offices; some even seek higher ones.
Many evangelical Christians are now wondering whether a politician’s sexual history should affect their ballot box decision. Should such scandals matter to Christians seeking to vote in a way that is faithful to Scripture and glorifying to God?
It will help at the outset for me to affirm that the world of the Bible is the real world, where God is free to act within and to interact with His creation. Herein donkeys talk, axe heads float, people are raised from the dead, and fish swallow people.
When most people think of the Book of Jonah, they think of Jonah being swallowed by the “whale.” And yet, the great fish only occupies about 11 verses in the entire account. Thankfully, the Book of Jonah has a more poignantly theological focus than merely chronicling a fish swallowing a man. In reality, the story is not even about Jonah. God is the main character in the book of Jonah, and the real story is about His compassion on a reluctant prophet and a city full of heathens. The Book of Jonah shows Israel that salvation is not only for them.
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2: 20-22)
It seems lately there’s been a lot of talk among Christians centered around the election scheduled for this November. There is a real sense of anxiety over the potential results, with some Christians predicting the increased persecution of those who would speak the Word to a culture that hates God. These concerns are very real, and the results may have very serious implications in our lives. But we must remember our lives do not belong to us, anyway (1 Corinthians 6:19). We can say with the Apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Christians can take comfort in the knowledge that even the most unjust and oppressive regimes have no power but that which God has given to them (John 19:11). Even though political leaders may ignore Him or reject Him, God is the ultimate sovereign wherein all authority is derived. Although Christians may be persecuted, they can rest in the sovereignty of God over the world and the rulers thereof. The Lord will always preserve His remnant.
11:1-2 – Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.
The Great Flood had destroyed all life on Earth except for Noah and his family, who were then tasked with multiplying and filling the earth. Naturally, all of Noah’s descendants would speak the same language. Moses does not present this as a bad development, but rather in a matter-of-fact statement. It was not mankind’s common language, but rather the attitude and ambition of mankind that would cause God to see their single language as a liability. The passage implies mankind’s common unity of purpose. God saw that not only were humans speaking the same language, they were of the same mind, too. In verse 2, we see that humans had not fully obeyed God’s command to Noah and his sons: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). Obedience to this command was obviously important to God because he had commanded Adam and Eve to do the same in Genesis: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). But mankind tends to embrace stasis rather than change, so the postdiluvian humans decided to band together rather than disperse and fill the earth as God had commanded.
“The lordship of God, however, cannot be confined to God’s love, for the Scriptures call attention to another dimension of the story. God expresses his kingship also in punishing his enemies, in judging those who resist the overtures of his love. Some of God’s subjects rebel against his kingly rule and his sovereign love. Their recalcitrance and rebellion will not ultimately succeed. The story line of the Scriptures indicates that evil will be destroyed and pacified. The subjects who refuse to bow the knee will be judged, and God’s rule over all and glory will be manifested in judgment as well” (Schreiner, The King in His Beauty, pp. xiv).
Studies indicate that many of today’s young people have little to no desire to adopt and embrace the faith of their parents. As a result, many of these same young people are also avoiding the political battles of their parents generation. They are increasingly apathetic toward politicians who campaign on hot-button cultural issues, especially when those politicians are not living consistently with their public personas. Young people are fleeing from the candidates they perceive as religious hypocrites.
However, the dwindling number of religious youths hasn’t been directly caused by hypocritical politicians. There is another, greater reason for the youth exodus from churches, namely postmodernism and a retreat from historical orthodoxy and Scriptural truth.
After creating a beautiful paradise for Adam, God encouraged him to enjoy all of its bounty, except for that of one tree: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”1 But because of mankind’s propensity to idolize self, this idyllic Eden was not to last.
Self-idolatry, however, is not limited to mankind. Isaiah recounts the story of Satan’s fall from Heaven, writing that Lucifer’s damning sin was his desire to exalt himself to equality with God: “I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.”2 In this account, we see that Satan’s own weakness is how he tempted mankind. Satan wanted equality with God, and that’s exactly how he enticed Adam and Eve. History inevitably repeats itself when the creature rebels against the Creator. In other words, error loves company.
Sadly, children born with physical defects make some people uncomfortable. Even more heartbreaking is the reality that this discomfort often turns to disgust and drives people to abort/murder their innocent children on account of physical problems. However, this idea that some people are lesser because they have physical deformities is a lie refuted by Jesus Christ himself. In John 9, we learn of a blind man who Jesus healed, but not before addressing His disciples’ mistaken idea that the man was blind because he or his parents had sinned:
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:1-3, NKJV)
Through these words, Jesus informed his followers that not all physical ailments are punishments from God. Rather, he taught them that physical disabilities are often used by God as amplifiers for His glory (John 9:3).
Studies continue to show that the tide of public opinion is turning against abortion. In that sense, pro-lifers are steadily winning the fight as more Americans recognize the evil of abortion. But in another sense, pro-lifers lose the fight each and every time an innocent child is murdered.
Pro-life activists are selfless and courageous people. They possess the strength of conviction needed to boldly stand against the American abortion juggernaut on behalf of the voiceless unborn. Their stance against the prevailing tide of murderous injustice has doubtless served to ignite a movement that, Lord willing, will continue to grow and expand until those unborn humans who are the most weak and vulnerable among us are finally valued and protected by law.