"THE BOOK OF JOB" Introduction The Book of Job has long been praised as a masterpiece of literature. Consider these quotes: "Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job." (Victor Hugo) "...the greatest poem, whether of ancient or modern literature." (Tennyson) "The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language." (Daniel Webster) What is it about the book that prompts such praise? Most Christians I know don't feel that way about the Book of Job. Perhaps it is because many tend to neglect the Old Testament altogether. Yet Paul wrote of the value of the Old Testament scriptures: For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Ro 15:4) Note that the Old Testament was written for our learning, that it provides patience and comfort, and as such can be a source of hope. This is especially true with the story of Job, to whom James referred when seeking to instill patience (cf. Jm 5:10-11). Because the Book of Job is so often neglected, yet presents a valuable lesson and is so highly praised by even people of the world, Christians should certainly take the time to study this portion of God's Word! THE PLACE OF JOB IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: Job is the first of five books commonly referred to as "The Books Of Poetry". These include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Called such because they are written in poetic style in contrast to the narrative style of most other books, they are also often referred to as "Wisdom Literature" (especially Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes). Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) offered this concise summary of the five books: * Job - How to suffer * Psalms - How to pray * Proverbs - How to act * Ecclesiastes - How to enjoy * Song of Solomon - How to love Now let's take a look at the Book of Job in particular... AUTHOR AND DATE OF WRITING: Who wrote the book, and when? No one really knows. Jewish tradition attributes the book to Moses, and other authors have been suggested (Job, Elihu, Solomon, Isaiah, Hezekiah, and Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe). "All that can be said with certainty is that the author was a loyal Hebrew who was not strictly bound by the popular creed that assumed suffering was always the direct result of sin" (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown). Because the author is unknown, it's date has been hotly debated among scholars. Some think it was written before Moses (pre 1500 B.C.). Others put it at the time of Solomon (ca. 900 B.C.), and some even as late as the Babylonian Exile or later (post 600 B.C.). The uncertainty of author and date does not nullify the book's inspiration, for it is affirmed in the New Testament. Paul quotes from it on several occasions in his writings (cf. 1Co 3:19 with Job 5:13; and Ro 11:35 with Job 41:11). For the Christian who accepts the inspiration of the New Testament, such evidence is sufficient. THE HISTORICITY OF THE BOOK: Even though inspired, are we to take the events described in it as historically true? There are several reasons for believing that they are: * The style of the opening and close of the book certainly conform to other Biblical narratives that are historical (cf. 1:1 with 1Sa 1:1 and Lk 1:5). * In Ezekiel 14:14, Job is mentioned along with Noah and Daniel, two other figures of history. * James, the Lord's brother, refers to Job as an example of perseverance (Jm 5:11). THE SETTING OF THE BOOK: The historical events appear to be set in the "Patriarchal" period (i.e., sometime between Noah and Moses). There are no allusions to the Law of Moses in the book, but there is a mention of a flood (22:16). Job functions as a priest in offering sacrifices for his family (1:5), similar to what we find with Abraham (cf. Gen 12:7). His longevity is typical of the patriarchs (42:16; cf. Gen 11:22-26,32). For such reasons I would place him somewhat contemporary with Abraham (i.e., ca 2000 B.C.). THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK: It is common to suggest that the purpose of the book is to answer the age-old question, "Why does God allow the righteous to suffer?" That is certainly the question Job raises, but it is worthy to note that he himself never receives a direct answer. Nor is one given by the author, other than to answer Satan's challenge, "Does Job fear God for nothing?". We are privileged to know of the challenge of Satan, and that God allows Job to suffer in answer to that challenge, but Job is never told of this. Therefore, I suggest that the purpose of the book is: To answer the question, "How should the righteous suffer?" While Job's questions and complaints often come close to charging God with wrong, he never crosses the line and humbly submits to God when told that the answers to his questions are beyond his ability to understand. Thus the book shows us how the righteous should bear up under suffering ("You have heard of the perseverance of Job" - Jm 5: 11) SOME LESSONS FROM THE BOOK: In his study on the book (The Book Of Job, Quality Pub.), Wayne Jackson offers the following lessons to be gleaned: * The book defends the absolute glory and perfection of God - It sets forth the theme echoed in Ps 18:3 ("I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised"). God is deserving of our praise simply on the basis of who He is, apart from the blessings He bestows. Satan denied this (1:9-11), but Job proved him wrong (1:20-22; 2:10). * The question of suffering is addressed - Why do we suffer? Who or what causes it? Why doesn't God do something? Not all questions are answered, but some important points are made: - Man is unable to subject the painful experiences of human existence to a meaningful analysis - God's workings are beyond man's ability to fathom. Man simply cannot tie all the "loose ends" of the Lord's purposes together. We must learn to trust in God, no matter the circumstances. - Suffering is not always the result of personal sin - The erroneous conclusion drawn by Job's friends is that suffering is always a consequence of sin. Job proves this is not the case. - Suffering may be allowed as a compliment to one's spirituality - God allowed Job to suffer to prove to Satan what kind of man he really was. What confidence God had in Job! * The book paints a beautiful picture of "patience" - The Greek word is "hupomone", which describes the trait of one who is able to abide under the weight of trials. From the "patience of Job", we learn that it means to maintain fidelity to God, even under great trials in which we do not understand what is happening. * The book also prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ! - His coming is anticipated in several ways. Job longs for a mediator between him and God (9:33; 33:23), and Jesus is one (1Ti 2:5). Job confessed his faith in a Redeemer who would one day come (19:25); Christ is that Redeemer (Ep 1:7)! BRIEF OUTLINE (adapted from Warren Wiersbe) I. JOB'S DISTRESS (1-3) A. HIS PROSPERITY (1:1-5) B. HIS ADVERSITY (1:6-2:13) C. HIS PERPLEXITY (3) II. JOB'S DEFENSE (4-37) A. THE FIRST ROUND (4-14) 1. Eliphaz (4-5)_Job's reply (6-7) 2. Bildad (8)_Job's reply (9-10) 3. Zophar (11)_Job's reply (12-14) B. THE SECOND ROUND (15-21) 1. Eliphaz (15)_Job's reply (16-17) 2. Bildad (18)_Job's reply (19) 3. Zophar (20)_Job's reply (21) C. THE THIRD ROUND (22-37) 1. Eliphaz (22)_Job's reply (23-24) 2. Bildad (25)_Job's reply (26-31) D. YOUNG ELIHU SPEAKS (32-37) 1. Contradicting Job's friends (32) 2. Contradicting Job himself (33) 3. Proclaiming God's justice, goodness, and majesty (34-37) III. JOB'S DELIVERANCE (38-42) A. GOD HUMBLES JOB (38:1-42:6) 1. Through questions too great to answer (38:1-41:34) 2. Job acknowledges his inability to understand (42:1-6) B. GOD HONORS JOB (42:7-17) 1. God rebukes his critics (42:7-10) 2. God restores his wealth (42:11-17) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) What are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, often called? - Books of Poetry - Wisdom Literature 2) Who wrote the book, and when? - We do not know 3) What evidence is there that this book describes an event that actually occurred? - It both starts and ends like other books of history in the Old Testament - Job is included with Noah and Daniel, as figures of history, in Ezek 14:14 - James refers to the example of Job in teaching on perseverance (Jm 5:11) 4) In what historical time frame is the story of Job possibly set? - During the period of the patriarchs, perhaps contemporary with Abraham 5) What is the purpose of this book, as suggested in the introduction? - To answer the question, "How should the righteous suffer?" 6) According to the outline suggested above, what are the three main divisions of the book? - Job's Distress (1-3) - Job's Defense (4-37) - Job's Deliverance (38-42)
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Political correctness is running amok in American civilization. This irrational, self-contradictory ideology is virtually ensconced in culture. Millions have been victimized by this propaganda and intimidated into silence when confronted by ideas and behaviors that are immoral or destructive. This sinister ideology began to assert itself with a vengeance during the turbulent 1960s. In seemingly conspiratorial fashion, socialistic forces strategized means by which to bully mainstream Americans into silent passivity. As Cuban producer, director, and author Agustin Blazquez explains: “Change their speech and thought patterns by spreading the idea that vocalizing your beliefs is disrespectful to others and must be avoided to make up for past inequities and injustices” (2002). While accusing the status quo of censorship, attempting to stifle free speech, and oppress the left, ironically, the left now uses the very tactics they mistakenly imagined in their opponents. Hence, the social liberals in politics, education, and beyond launched “a sophisticated and dangerous form of censorship and oppression, imposed upon the citizenry with the ultimate goal of manipulating, brainwashing and destroying our society” (Blazquez). They have worked their agenda with a shrewd precision that would be the envy of the most sinister dictators of human history—from Nero to Hitler to Stalin.
Strangely, the effort to silence the traditional Christian values that have characterized America from the beginning has been accompanied by inconsistent and self-contradictory accommodation of Islam. Immediately after 9-11, the forces of political correctness sought to minimize the obvious connection between Islam and the attack by insisting that Islam is a peaceful religion, and by promoting Islam in public schools and encouraging the construction of Mosques throughout the country. Even as Christmas cards, Christian prayer, and allusions to Christianity in American history were being challenged across the country, an elementary school in Texas permitted a girl to present an overview and show a video about her Muslim religion to her classmates; a public middle school in San Luis Obispo, California had its students pretend to be warriors fighting for Islam; and a school near Oakland, California encouraged 125 seventh-grade students to dress up in Muslim robes for a three-week course on Islam. Consider the attack by Islamic gunmen that killed 12 people at the offices of a French satirical newspaper in Paris. The event evoked reactions that sought to lay blame on “disrespect for religion on the part of irresponsible cartoonists” and “violent extremists unrelated to Islam,” rather than placing blame on Sharia law, Islam, and the Quran (McCarthy, 2015; Packer, 2015; Kristof, 2015; “All in With…,” 2015; Tuttle, 2015).
The open promotion of Islam across the country has become widespread as footbaths are being installed in universities and other public facilities, traffic in New York City is disrupted by Muslims performing prayer rituals in the streets, public school classrooms and extracurricular activities are altered to accommodate Ramadan and daily prayer rituals, and the capitol lawn is given over to a Muslim prayer service involving hundreds. Any who dare even to question these proceedings are instantly pummeled and castigated as intolerant and “Islamophobic.”
As an example, consider the nationwide brouhaha that surrounded the construction of a mosque near ground zero. Despite what the left alleged, participating in a public rally to voice opposition to the construction of a mosque was not “bashing Islam” or being intolerant and “Islamophobic.” In 1941, the World War 2 generation was not being “Japophobic” when they went to war with Japan because Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor, killing some 2,400 of our young men, and wounding a 1,000 more. Nor were they “Naziphobic” when they sought to deter Germany from its attempted conquest of Europe and eventually America. Even to suggest such is ludicrous. They were merely facing reality—an ability today’s social liberals seem to lack, coupled with their complete naiveté regarding the sinister threat posed by Islam. What if Japanese living in America had sought to erect a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine over the wreckage of the USS Arizona?
Make no mistake, true Christians do not hate Muslims, nor harbor prejudice or ill will against them. Rather, informed Christians and Americans simply recognize the fundamental threat that Islam poses to the freedom to practice one’s Christian beliefs without fear of reprisal. Indeed, taking steps to minimize the spread of Islam is itself the exercise of First Amendment rights. It is a sincere attempt to discourage the spread of religious views that are antithetical to liberty and the Christian principles on which America was founded—and on which her perpetuation depends. The American Founders recognized this fact.
THE FOUNDERS ON ISLAM
Father of American Jurisprudence and New York State Supreme Court Chief Justice James Kent noted that “we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply ingrafted [sic] upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those imposters”—referring to “Mahomet and the Grand Lama” (The People…, 1811, emp. added). Did you catch that? The moral fabric of America is “deeply engrafted” on Christianity—not the false religion of Islam. Labeling founders of false religions “imposters” is not “hate speech;” it is simply describing reality.
James Iredell, appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by George Washington, felt sure that Americans would never elect Muslims, pagans, or atheists to political office when he demurred, “But it is never to be supposed that the people of America will trust their dearest rights to persons who have no religion at all, or a religion materially different from their own” (1836, 4:194, emp. added). Father of American Geography, Jedediah Morse, explained the intimate connection between America’s freedom and the Christian religion:
The foundations which support the interests of Christianity, are also necessary to support a free and equal government like our own. In all those countries where there is little or no religion, or a very gross and corrupt one, as in Mahometan and Pagan countries, there you will find, with scarcely a single exception, arbitrary and tyrannical governments, gross ignorance and wickedness, and deplorable wretchedness among the people. To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy (1799, p. 14, emp. added).
Here is an extremely wise, insightful, and sobering admonition—if we will listen and learn. The portrait that Morse painted has not changed in the intervening 200+ years. Muslim nations across the world are still “very gross and corrupt,” with “tyrannical governments” and “deplorable wretchedness among the people.” Is that what Americans desire for their own lifestyle? Does even the politically correct crowd wish to live in such a country? They do not. Yet, they foolishly hasten the deleterious transformation of our country.
In his masterful refutation of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, Elias Boudinot, who served as one of the Presidents of the Continental Congress, offered a blistering assessment of Islam in its contradistinction to Christianity:
Did not Moses and Christ show their divine mission, not only by the nature and effects of their doctrines and precepts,...but also by doing good, in the presence of all the people, works, that no other men ever did…? But Mahomet aimed to establishhis pretensions to divine authority, by the power of the sword and the terrors of his government; while he carefully avoided any attempts at miracles in the presence of his followers, and all pretences [sic] to foretell things to come…. [The laws] of Mahomet and other impostorshave generally been compiled by degrees, according to the exigencies of the states, the prevalence of particular factions, or the authority who governed the people at his own will. Mahomet made his laws, not to curb, but humor the genius of the people; they were therefore altered and repealed from the same causes…. [W]here is the comparison between the supposed prophet of Mecca, and the Son of God; or with what propriety ought they to be named together? The difference between these characters is so great, that the facts need not be further applied (1801, pp. 36-39, emp. added).
Ethan Allen exposed a fallacy of Islam in his discussion of the fact that the providence of the God of the Bible “does not interfere with the agency of man,” whereas
Mahomet taught his army that the “term of every man’s life was fixed by God, and that none could shorten it, by any hazard that he might seem to be exposed to in battle or otherwise,” but that it should be introduced into peaceable and civil life, and be patronized by any teachers of religion, is quite strange, as it subverts religion in general, and renders the teaching of it unnecessary… (1854, p. 21, emp. added).
He also warned against being “imposed upon by imposters, or by ignorant and insidious teachers, whose interest it may be to obtrude their own systems on the world for infallible truth, as in the instance of Mahomet” (p. 55, emp. added).
When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were appointed and authorized by Congress to negotiate a treaty with the Muslim terrorists who continually raided American ships off the coast of North Africa, they met in London in 1786 with the Ambassador from Tripoli. On March 28, they penned the following words to John Jay, then serving as Secretary for Foreign Affairs, reporting their conversation with the ambassador:
We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise. That it was a law that the first who boards an enemy’s vessel should have one slave more than his share with the rest, which operated as an incentive to the most desperate valour and enterprize [sic], that it was the practice of their corsairs to bear down upon a ship, for each sailor to take a dagger, in each hand, and another in his mouth, and leap on board, which so terrified their enemies that very few ever stood against them, that he verily believed that the Devil assisted his countrymen, for they were almost always successful (“Letter from the…,” emp. added).
While the Founders were supportive of “freedom of religion,” they were not for encouraging false religions (i.e., all non-Christian religions) to spread in America, or to be given “equal time” with Christianity, or allowed to infiltrate civil institutions (see Miller, 2013). Consider U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story who was appointed to the Court by President James Madison in 1811, and is considered the founder of Harvard Law School and one of two men who have been considered the Fathers of American Jurisprudence. In his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Story clarified the meaning of the First Amendment as it relates to religious toleration and Islam:
The real object of the [First—DM] [A]mendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy [of one denomination—DM] the exclusive patronage of the national government (1833, 3:728.1871, emp. added).
Samuel Johnston, Governor of North Carolina and Member of the Constitution ratifying convention in 1788, attempted to allay fears that anti-Christian ideologies may infiltrate our elected officials:
It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans, pagans, &c., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, but in one of two cases. First, if the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves (as quoted in Elliot, 1836, 4:198, emp. added).
John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams and distinguished for his significant contributions to the Founding era and thereafter, summarized the attitude of most Americans and Founders toward Islam in his brilliant “Essays on the Russo-Turkish War” written in 1827. In these essays, we see a cogent, informed portrait of the threat that Islam has posed throughout world history:
In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust, by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE. Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him [Genesis 16:12—DM]. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus (1830, 29:269, capitals in orig., emp. added).
Observe that Adams not only documents the violent nature of Islam, in contrast with the peaceful and benevolent thrust of Christianity, he further exposes the mistreatment of women inherent in Islamic doctrine, including the degrading practice of polygamy. A few pages later, Adams again spotlights the coercive, violent nature of Islam, as well as the Muslim’s right to lie and deceive to advance Islam:
The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force (29:274).
No Christian would deny that many Christians in history have violated the precepts of Christ by mistreating others and even committing atrocities in the name of Christ. However, Adams rightly observes that one must go against Christian doctrine to do so. Not so with Islam—since violence is sanctioned:
The fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion, is the extirpation of hatred from the human heart. It forbids the exercise of it, even towards enemies. There is no denomination of Christians, which denies or misunderstands this doctrine. All understand it alike—all acknowledge its obligations; and however imperfectly, in the purposes of Divine Providence, its efficacy has been shown in the practice of Christians, it has not been wholly inoperative upon them. Its effect has been upon the manners of nations. It has mitigated the horrors of war—it has softened the features of slavery—it has humanized the intercourse of social life. The unqualified acknowledgement of a duty does not, indeed, suffice to insure its performance. Hatred is yet a passion, but too powerful upon the hearts of Christians. Yet they cannot indulge it, except by the sacrifice of their principles, and the conscious violation of their duties. No state paper from a Christian hand, could, without trampling the precepts of its Lord and Master, have commenced by an open proclamation of hatred to any portion of the human race. The Ottoman lays it down as the foundation of his discourse (29:300, emp. added; see Miller, 2005).
These observations by a cross-section of the Founders of the American Republic represent the prevailing viewpoint in America for nearly 200 years. Only with the onslaught of “political correctness” have so many Americans blinded themselves to the sinister threat posed to their freedom and way of life.
When General George S. Patton was waging war against the Nazis in North Africa during World War 2, he had the opportunity to observe what Islam does for a nation, particularly the female population. In his monumental volume War As I Knew It, writing from Casablanca on June 9, 1943, Patton mused:
One cannot but ponder the question: What if the Arabs had been Christians? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing. Here, I think, is a text for some eloquent sermon on the virtues of Christianity (1947, p. 49, emp. added).
The Founders of the American republic were hardly “Islamophobic.” Rather, they wisely recognized the fundamental threat posed by the teachings of the Quran to the American way of life. As pursuers of truth, they believed Islam to be a false religion that should no more be encouraged to thrive in society than belief in Peter Pan’s Neverland. They viewed Christianity as the one true religion (see Miller, 2010). Indeed, mark it down, if Islam is given free course to alter the laws and public institutions of America, it logically follows that America will become just like the Islamic nations of the world. It is naïve and foolish to think that Islam can eventually become widespread in America and America remain the same country she has been. It is only logical and obvious to conclude that when America’s institutions are altered to accommodate Muslims, Islamic influence will, in time, dominate the nation. Then how will Christians be treated? The answer is self-evident. Look at how Christians are treated even now in Muslim countries around the world. Ask yourself this question: “Is there any Muslim country on Earth where I would choose to live?”
When clear thinking Americans examine Islam’s doctrines, and assess the behavior of its adherents over the centuries, they are merely doing what any rational person does every day with respect to a host of ideas. The honest heart naturally desires truth. Truth has nothing to fear. The God of the Bible wants truth contrasted with error so that all sincere persons can discern the truth and distinguish truth from falsehood (1 Kings 18:21; Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). Christianity is inherently a religion of truth, reason, and logic (John 8:32; cf. Miller, 2011).
"Islamophobia” is an irrelevant, concocted notion. It is a prejudicial, “red flag” word created by the left to stifle any hint of an inherent threat posed by Islam to the American way of life. In the words, again, of Agustin Blasquez: “It’s one thing to be educated, considerate, polite and have good manners, and another to be forced to self-censor and say things that are totally incorrect in order to comply with the arbitrary dictums of a deceiving and fanatical far-left agenda” (2002). As the deterioration and complete breakdown of traditional American (Christian) values climax, the destructive perpetrator—the left—is strangely eager to enable Islam to trample underfoot any Christian vestiges that remain. [NOTE: Ironically, if Islam were to take over America, many of the pluralistic ideologies championed by the left would be the first to be eliminated—from feminism to homosexuality.] To borrow the title of James Burnham’s book (1964), the suicide of the west is nearly complete. Or as D.T. Devareaux’s disturbing political cartoon depicts, Islam is happy to serve as the hammer finger on the weapon of Liberalism used by Uncle Sam (who upholds Western Civilization) to terminate his own existence (“The Art of…,” n.d.).
Adams, John Quincy (1830), “Essays on Russo-Turkish War,” in The American Annual Register, ed. Joseph Blunt (New York: E. & G.W. Blunt), 29:267-402,http://www.archive.org/stream/p1americanannual29blunuoft.
Allen, Ethan (1854), Reason, the Only Oracle of Man (Boston, MA: J.P. Mendum).
“All In With Chris Hayes” (2015), “Terror Attack in Paris,” MSNBC, January 7,http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/terror-attack-in-paris-381379651841.
“The Art of D.T. Devareaux” (no date),http://plancksconstant.org/es/blog1/2009/06/the_art_of_dt_devareaux.html. See “The Study of Revenge: The Polemical Artwork of D. T. Devareaux,”http://plancksconstant.org/es/blog1/2008/02/devareax.html.
Blazquez, Agustin (2002), “Political Correctness: The Scourge of Our Times,” NewsMax.com, April 8,http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/4/4/121115.shtml/.
Boudinot, Elias (1801), The Age of Revelation (Philadelphia, PA: Asbury Dickens).
Burnham, James (1964), Suicide of the West (New York: John Day Company).
Elliot, Jonathan, ed. (1836), Debates in the Convention of the State of North Carolina, On the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury), second edition,http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwed.html.
Iredell, James (1836), The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, ed. Jonathan Elliot (Washington, D.C.: Jonathan Elliot).
Kristof, Nicholas (2015), “Is Islam to Blame for the Shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris?” The New York Times, January 7, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/opinion/nicholas-kristof-lessons-from-the-charlie-hebdo-shooting-in-paris.html?_r=0.
“Letter from the American Peace Commissioners (Thomas Jefferson & John Adams) to John Jay March 28, 1786” (1786), The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib001849.
McCarthy, Andrew (2015), “Don’t Blame the Charlie Hebdo Mass Murder on ‘Extremism,’” National Review, January 7, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/395876/dont-blame-charlie-hebdo-mass-murder-extremism-andrew-c-mccarthy.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Violence and the Quran,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1491&topic=44.
Miller, Dave (2010), Christ and the Continental Congress (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Miller, Dave (2011), “Is Christianity Logical?” Reason & Revelation, 31:50-59, June,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=977.
Miller, Dave (2013), “Were the Founding Fathers ‘Tolerant’ of Islam?” Reason & Revelation, 33:26-28,32-35, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1116&article=2128.
Morse, Jedidiah (1799), A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America (Hartford, CT: Hudson and Goodwin),http://www.archive.org/details/sermonexhibiting00morsrich.
Packer, George (2015), “The Blame for the Charlie Hebdo Murders,” The New Yorker, January 7,http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/blame-for-charlie-hebdo-murders.
Patton, George (1947), War As I Knew It (New York: Houghton Mifflin).
The People v. Ruggles (1811), 8 Johns 290 (Sup. Ct. NY.), N.Y. Lexis 124.
Story, Joseph (1833), Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston, MA: Hilliard, Gray, & Co.).
Tuttle, Ian (2015), “The Rush to Blame the Victims in the Charlie Hebdo Massacre,” National Review Online, January 7, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/395912/rush-blame-victims-charlie-hebdo-massacre-ian-tuttle.
"Contradictions" Regarding the Ark of the Covenant
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
How does the “20 years” reference in 1 Samuel 7:2 harmonize with the fact that the ark was not brought from Kirjath-jearim until 2 Samuel 6:4—more than 40 years later?
Even though God’s Word can be substantially communicated from one language to another, the translation process is sufficiently complex to the extent that many of the subtleties of the parent language are lost in translation. These subtleties rarely, if ever, involve matters that are critical to the central purpose of revelation. However, apparent discrepancies on minor details can surface that require a careful re-examination of the actual linguistic data of the parent language (in this case Hebrew) in order to dissolve the apparent discrepancy.
The individual clauses of 1 Samuel 7:2-3 are linked in Hebrew by “waw consecutives” that bring the statements into close logical and temporal connection. The three verbs of verse two are a continuation of the infinitive, which points to the main sentence being resumed in verse three (“and Samuel spoke”). The gist of these grammatical data is that the writer is informing us that after the ark’s capture, the people endured Philistine oppression for the next twenty years. Though all Israel “lamented after the Lord,” He allowed the Israelites to continue their suffering at the hands of the Philistines for 20 years—at which time Samuel called upon the nation to put away its idols.
First Samuel describes the final years of the period of the judges. The reliance upon the ark as a sort of mystical talisman brought swift military tragedy, precipitating yet another period of foreign oppression by Israel’s enemies due to their own apostasy. This period of Philistine preeminence went on for twenty years before the lamentations of God’s people were finally heard. At the end of the twenty years, Samuel called on them to couple their lamentations with genuine penitence (1 Samuel 7:3). When they put away their idolatry (vs. 4), they once again enjoyed the services of the judge (vs. 6), who assisted them in throwing off Philistine oppression by military defeat (vss. 10ff.).
Thus the twenty years refers—not to the total number of years that the ark remained in Kirjath-jearim—but merely to the number of years the ark was in Kirjath-jearim before the Lord chose to hear the people’s lamentations and provide them with intervention through Samuel.
"God’s Not Dead": A Movie Review
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Kyle Butt, M.Div.
On March 21, 2014, the movie God’s Not Dead was released in 780 theaters across the country. Since then, more than 1,000 other theaters began showing the film, which grossed over $41 million in less than one month—pretty good for a movie with a budget of only $2 million (God’s Not Dead, 2014a).
Though many Christians and pro-Christian organizations around the country have been fairly complimentary of the film, general reviewers have not been so kind. RottenTomatoes.com rated the movie with one star, as only 15% of the Web site’s approved critics gave the movie a positive review (God’s Not Dead, 2014b). Although the Hollywood Reporter had a few positive things to say about the movie, in their “bottom line” they referred to it as a “simple-minded sermon” (Farber, 2014). Claudia Puig of USA Today has alleged that “the contrived premise of God’s Not Dead is anything but credible.” Puig dismissed the idea of a professor at a respected academic institution ever criticizing religion as “primitive superstition,” saying, “Even if a teacher believed this, it’s highly unlikely he would declare it to a class full of students” (2014, emp. added).
The fact of the matter is, belligerent criticism of theism and Christianity has been occurring on college campuses all over the country for years, and it is very appropriate for God’s Not Dead to raise awareness of such bullying from various intolerant, liberal professors. Sometime ago a gentleman, who had been a student at a well-known university in the southeastern United States, visited with us after one of our lectures and recounted how, at the beginning of one particular semester, a science professor asked students in the class to stand up if they believed in God. Seven individuals out of a fairly large class rose from their seats. The professor then went on to say that by the end of the semester not one of them would stand up when he asked that question. Sure enough, toward the end of the semester the professor posed the question again, “How many of you believe in God?” Only one student stood up. Several months later, another student from the same university confirmed that the same thing happened in one of her classes. There was obvious bullying and intimidation taking place. The often-overlooked fact is, theistic, creationist, and Christian-oriented students and professors are frequently the target of liberal, atheistic, and/or evolutionary professors and department heads (e.g., Kingkade, 2013; Bergman, 2008; Stein and Miller, 2008; see also Miller, 2011).
Perhaps the most powerful and pervasive message of God’s Not Dead is that any person who calls himself or herself a Christian must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ. The hero of the movie, a young university freshman named Josh Wheaton, is willing to sacrifice his relationship with his fiancée, his university career, his future job, and his reputation to stand up for God’s existence. In a subplot, a young Muslim student is willing to sacrifice her family relationships for her belief in Christ. A freshman student from China is consistently urged by his father to stop thinking about “foolish” religious ideas and concentrate on his grades, but the young man refuses. And the girlfriend of the antagonistic atheistic professor breaks off their relationship because of her religious convictions.
This message of sacrifice is both biblical and extremely important in our increasingly self-centered society. Jesus said: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me…. For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34,38). In all of our years as Christian apologists, we have seen countless “Christians” bowing to the secular standards of our day, afraid to stand for the truth of the Bible and God’s existence. We could recount stories of college freshmen too afraid of ruining their reputations or of getting a bad grade to stand up for their belief in God. We could tell of university professors who were so very concerned about tenure, their salary, or their teaching positions that they refused to speak or write about their faith in Christ because of the possible repercussions. How many school teachers have allowed their Christian influence to be silenced because they might lose their job? It truly is a shame to see the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and the complete dedication of His early followers who “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41), and then witness certain “Christians” today who will not even acknowledge in public that they believe in God or His Word. Any faithful Christian would have to say “Amen,” to the movie’s main message that following Jesus requires complete sacrifice to His Will.
Unfortunately, the main message of the movie is overshadowed at times by the failure of the movie to accurately apply it. For instance, although Josh, the hero, is to be commended for his study and some of the effective arguments he used in class, at times during his defense he affirms error. For example, he implies that the Big Bang is scientifically and biblically credible, and that God could have used evolution as the process by which all life (including humans) came into existence. Not only is the Big Bang an unscientific idea (May, et al., 2003a), it is an unbiblical idea as well (May, et al., 2003b;Lyons, 2003). Additionally, the idea that God directed the process of evolution to produce life is equally unbiblical and antiscientific (Houts, 2007), though it is very appealing to our secular culture. In their attempt to make belief in God more palatable (by not making Josh, what Screenit.com calls, “a simple-minded believer who thinks the Earth was created…in just under a week”—God’s Not Dead, 2014c), the producers of the film fail to stand courageously against the foolish theories of cosmic and biological evolution and stand unashamedly for the truthfulness of the biblical account of Creation.
Furthermore, the movie completely misrepresents how God has commanded people to be saved. The clearest example of this false teaching comes at the end of the movie. In a tragic accident, the atheistic professor is struck by a car and is about to die. It just so happens that a denominational minister is on the scene. The minister begs the atheistic professor to call on the Lord, say a version of the “sinner’s prayer,” and receive Jesus into his heart. Yet such teaching is never found in the Bible (Lyons, 2004; Jackson, 2014). God requires faithful obedience to the Gospel plan of salvation in order to receive the gift of salvation (Lyons and Butt). Paul informed the Thessalonians that at the end of time Jesus Christ will be revealed from heaven “with His Mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, emp. added). What the atheistic professor did in the movie to be “saved” is not what the New Testament means when it says to “obey the Gospel” (cf. Romans 6:3-4; Matthew 7:21). Thus, in the very process of claiming to teach that people should be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, the movie producers failed to heed their own message. Not only must we be willing to sacrifice our reputations, careers, and families, we must be willing to sacrifice any manmade doctrine that is not taught in Scripture. We must be willing to leave any group or teaching, even if it goes by the name “Christian,” if and when we find it does not correspond to God’s will found in the New Testament.
Overall, we believe that God’s Not Dead effectively highlights a serious problem in universities across the United States—showing some of the challenges that many Christian students face. We also believe that Christians should take to heart the overall message of the movie: the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the cross. We would greatly caution viewers, however, to understand that the producer’s application of the theme is occasionally lacking. Yes, the movie’s approach to a defense of God’s existence is rational and biblical at times, but then at other times it is both biblically and scientifically unsound. What’s more, the film’s presentation of how God has instructed people to become Christians is at odds with the Bible. We all need to be reminded of the importance of sacrificing everything for Christ, including compromises with the world and any long-held false religious ideas.
Bergman, Jerry (2008), Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth about Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters (Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press).
Farber, Stephen (2014), “God’s Not Dead: Film Review,” The Hollywood Reporter,http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/gods-not-dead-film-review-690393.
God’s Not Dead (2014a), Box Office Mojo, http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=godsnotdead.htm.
God’s Not Dead (2014b), Rotten Tomatoes,http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gods_not_dead/#contentReviews.
God’s Not Dead (2014c), Screen It, http://www.screenit.com/ourtake/2014/gods_not_dead.html.
Houts, Michael (2007), “Evolution is Religion—Not Science [Part 1],”http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=97&article=2299.
Jackson, Wayne (2014), “The Sinner’s Prayer—Is it Biblical?”https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/368-sinners-prayer-is-it-biblical-the.
Kingkade, Tyler (2013), “Deandre Poole Keeps FAU Job After ‘Stomp on Jesus’ Controversy,”Huffington Post, June 24, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/deandre-poole-fau-stomp-on-jesus_n_3490263.html.
Lyons, Eric (2003), “Man Has Been on Earth Since…,”https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=538&topic=56.
Lyons, Eric (2004), “Calling on the Name of the Lord,”http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=775&topic=379.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (n.d.), Receiving the Gift of Salvation,http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Receiving%20the%20Gift%20of%20Salvation.pdf.
May, Branyon, Bert Thompson, and Brad Harrub (2003a), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1453&topic=57.
May, Branyon, Bert Thompson, and Brad Harrub (2003b), “The Big Bang Theory—A Biblical Critique,”http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=56.
Miller, Jeff (2011), “Expelled—Again,” https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3655.
Puig, Claudia (2014), “In ‘God’s Not Dead,’ Message is Lost Amid Melodrama,” USA Today, April 8,http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2014/04/08/review-gods-not-dead/7457995/.
Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).
"Be Not Unequally Yoked"
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Paul admonished the Corinthian Christians, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). This statement often has been applied to the question of marriage, with the subsequent conclusion that Christians are commanded not to marry non-Christians. However, this interpretation creates several problems.
First, marriage is not under discussion in the context. Great care must be taken to avoid misapplying the principles taught in a given passage. The application of a passage must be accurate. For example, to apply the injunction “taste not” (Colossians 2:21) to eating chocolate would be a misapplication on two counts. First, it assumes that chocolate is included in the category of substances being forbidden in the context. Second, it fails to perceive the fact that “taste not” was what the opponents of Paul were enjoining. They were wrong in their making of a law that God had not made. Likewise, the prohibition of not being unequally yoked would have to be demonstrated to apply to marriage.
Second, if forming a marriage between a Christian and non-Christian is being forbidden, the only way to repent of such an action would be to sever the marriage. The only way to repent of an illicit relationship is to terminate the relationship (cf. Ezra 10:11; Mark 6:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Paul explicitly stated in the context to “come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). But this inevitable conclusion would contradict Matthew 19:9, where Jesus stated that there is one and only one grounds for divorce, i.e., fornication—not marriage to a non-Christian.
Third, if marriage to a non-Christian is forbidden, then non-Christians sin when they marry each other. The non-Christian who marries another non-Christian is guilty of not marrying a Christian.
Fourth, if the Christian sins when he marries a non-Christian, what about that non-Christian whom the Christian marries? That non-Christian would not be sinning since he/she is marrying a Christian. Hence, the very action that is sin for one (the Christian) is righteous and proper for the other (non-Christian)!
Fifth, such an interpretation of 2 Corinthians 6:14 implies that marriage is a “Christian” institution. Yet the marriage relationship was formed by God at Creation thousands of years before Christianity was introduced onto the planet (Genesis 2:24). God’s marriage laws apply equally to all people in all periods of Bible history. No one prior to the cross of Christ married a Christian! Yet marriages contracted prior to Christianity were valid if contracted in harmony with God’s marriage laws (i.e., in accordance with Genesis 1:27, 2:24, Matthew 19:3-12, Romans 7:1-3, and 1 Corinthians 7:1-40).
All persons who choose to be married are required by God to “marry in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). That is, one must marry in harmony with God’s laws, even as children are to obey their parents “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1), i.e., compliant with parental instructions that are in harmony the will of Christ. Marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian may well be fraught with peril. It may be at times inexpedient, unwise, or extremely dangerous spiritually. However, the Bible does not teach that it is sinful.
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul wrote at length concerning the resurrection of the dead, because some of the Christians in Corinth taught “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (vs. 12). As one of his proofs for the Christian’s eventual resurrection, Paul pointed to the fact of the resurrection of Christ, and showed that the two stand or fall together, saying, “if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (vss. 16-17)! After hypothetically arguing from the absurd in an attempt to get the Corinthian Christians to see that their stance on the final resurrection completely undermined Christianity, Paul proceeded to demonstrate that Christ hadrisen, and thus made the resurrection of the dead inevitable. It is in this section of scripture that some find a difficulty. Beginning with verse 20, Paul wrote:
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, emp. added).
In view of the fact that Jesus was not the first person ever to arise from the dead (cf. 2 Kings 13:21; Luke 7:14-15; Matthew 10:8; 11:5), some have questioned why the apostle Paul twice described Jesus as “the firstfruits” from the dead in 1 Corinthians 15. Did Paul err? Was he ignorant of the widow’s son whom God revived at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:22)? Did he not know that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44)? How could Paul legitimately speak of Christ as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”?
One solution to this alleged discrepancy can be found in the fact that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead—never to die again. All who have ever arisen from the dead, including the sons of both the widow of Zarephath and the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:8-37), the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:35-43), Lazarus, et al., died in later years. Jesus, however, accurately could be called “the firstfruits” of the dead because “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Romans 6:9). All others who previously were raised at one time, died again, and are among those who “sleep” and continue to wait for the bodily resurrection; only Jesus has truly conquered death. In this sense, Christ is “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5; cf. Acts 26:23).
Another possible explanation of the difficulty surrounding 1 Corinthians 15:20,23 and Paul’s use of the word “firstfruits” (Greek aparche) is to understand how "firstfruits" was used in the Old Testament. Under the Old Law, the firstfruits were the earliest gathered grains, fruits, and vegetables that the people dedicated to God in recognition of His faithfulness for providing the necessities of life. The Israelites were to offer to God a sheaf of the first grain that was harvested on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover feast (Leviticus 23:9-14). Paul may have used the term “firstfruits” in this letter to the Corinthian church to reinforce the certainty of the resurrection. Just as the term “firstfruits” indicates that “the first sheaf of the forthcoming grain harvest will be followed by the rest of the sheaves, Christ, the firstfruits raised from the dead, is the guarantee for all those who belong to him that they also will share in his resurrection” (Kistemaker, 1993, p. 548). Jesus is God’s “firstfruits” of the resurrection. And, like the Israelites, God will gather the rest of the harvest at the final resurrection. It may be that Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand (by way of metaphor) that Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of our resurrection. It is inevitable—guaranteed by God Himself.
Kistemaker, Simon J. (1993), Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).