What Do You See?

The account of Saul enquiring of a necromancer in 2 Samuel 28 has puzzled many a scholar. What is it saying? 2 Samuel 28:13, “What did you see!”

1 Samuel 28:6 The sin is not in seeking to know. If we seek the Lord to know His counsel He will make it known [Romans 9:23; Colossians 1:27]. This was done through enquiring of

  1. God’s prophet [2 Kings 21:10] or
  2. The High Priest through the Urim [Light] and Thumim [Truth]. These are 2 Elements of the Priest’s breastplate. The ‘U’ is actually the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the ‘T’. He is the Alpha and Omega [Revelation 1:8]. He is the Light and Truth – John 1:9; 8:12; 14:6] or
  3. In dreams [Genesis 20:6].

But God was not speaking to Saul anymore, so he sought to know the future through forbidden means. The Philistines used divination to determine what to do with the Ark of God found in their possession [1 Samuel 6:2] but this was absolutely forbidden in Israel [Deuteronomy 18:10, 14].

“You must not allow a sorceress to live” [Exodus 22:18].

The Soothsayer

1 Samuel 28:7 [She was a] woman that hath a familiar spirit [a necromancer] at Endor. The incantations she practiced were known as divinations [the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means].

1 Samuel 28:8 [Saul] came to this woman at night and said, “Use your ritual pit [your divination] to conjure up for me the one I tell you.”

The bodies of the deceased are buried in the earth and, in the practice of necromancy, the spirits are said to ascend from there. “like a spirit speaking from the underworld; from the dust … as if muttering an incantation.” [Isaiah 29:4]. Interestingly, according to the Septuagint, Saul instructs the woman, “Practice divination by the divining spirit within you.

We have 1 New Testament example Acts 16:16, 18, which Paul identified as a demoniac spirit: ” a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying.” Then Paul confronted the spirit of divination in her, commanding “in the name of Jesus Christ … come out of her.”

Prophecy vs Divination

Scholarship teaches that the word “prophecy” is used in the New Testament when speaking the counsel of God whereas divination is always false prophecy and not of God. The word, divining, itself, speaks to the temporary madness or emotional fury that is exhibited. The word “mantis” [viz. the praying mantis insect] comes from the same Greek word representing a form of prayer [but not to God!] It is never used of Christian prayer! Remember, 1 Samuel 28:6, God did not answer.

What Sawest Thou? Was it Samuel?

1 Samuel 28:13 The woman called the apparition she saw “god” or a spirit being. The woman, alone, saw the apparition [1 Samuel 28:12-13].

Considering the passage unadorned by imaginative explanations, we cannot affirm that this was, indeed, Samuel. But, for our Catholic friends, we read in The Book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 46:23, “And after this he [Samuel] slept [died], and he made known to the king [Saul], and shewed him the end of his life, and he lifted up his voice from the earth in prophecy to blot out the wickedness of the nation.”

The Grave

There was no return from Sheol [the grave: Job 7:9; 2 Samuel 12:23]. This passage appears to be the only exception [if indeed it was Samuel: 1 Chronicles 10:13]. But Tertullian called this apparition “a rivalry of truth by an unclean spirit.” Luther called it “the devil’s ghost” and Calvin, “it was not the real Samuel but a specter.”

When Samuel alleged to have visited the scene, Saul was at Gilboa. Samuel’s body was laid to rest in Ramah in the territory of Benjamin, about 20 some miles south. It was believed that the spirits of those who died were held awaiting a final judgment [Luke 16:22; Ephesians 4:8-9] and could not leave [Luke 16:26].

This chamber in Sheol for God’s saints is now vacant! [2 Corinthians 5:8].

Present Day

Today such divination is even practiced with the Ouija board, but getting our counsel from anyone but God and in any other way than by and through God’s Word is forbidden because it is demoniacally deceptive, misleading those that practice it away from God! [Titus 1:14; 2:1].

Referring again to the Septuagint, in 1 Samuel 28:3 & 7, a “divining spirit” is interpreted with the word “ventriloquist.” So, Saul saw nothing and what he heard came from the woman? The woman was surprised to learn this was Saul whom she said was noticeably terrorized by the very thought of God. Saul was not at all at peace, but now seeks the God that so frightens him! He didn’t want God [that follows repentance]. He wanted to know the future.

The Message

But, if this were not Samuel, how could the prophecy given be so spot on accurate? [1 Samuel 28:17, 18]. The simple explanation would be that Saul related to her what Samuel told him while still alive [1 Samuel 20:19-24].


So there are three explanations:

  1. It was a mere deception on the part of the necromancer—a magic act.
  2. She was indeed clairvoyant and could predict the future.
  3. It was Samuel.

I lean toward #1. For when it comes to prophecy, would God allow a necromancer to speak for Him!?

“I the LORD will answer … myself!” [Ezekiel 14:7 ESV ].

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A Devotional Thought

Here’s a devotional thought worthy our attention: 2 Timothy 4:16-17a KJV “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me.” This is the King James but let’s look more closely at what Paul told Timothy.

The Expositors Commentary along with more recent scholarship interprets “My first answer” to mean Paul’s court hearing now at the end of his life. The word “answer” means “defense.” He was being arraigned but knew that this time he would not be freed [2 Timothy 4: 6].

What was his crime? “By me,” he confessed, “the Lord commissioned and enabled me that the Gospel message might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear.” [2 Timothy 4:17].

But Paul informed Timothy, “no one stood with me.” Paul, like the Savior, had no one there to speak in his defense [Matthew 26:56]. Did he not say he wanted to partake of Christ’s sufferings!

But the next thing he told Timothy is what stands out here: “I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”  Paul didn’t hold it against anyone for not showing up during his arraignment.

  1. The words “I pray” were not written. I don’t think this thought was directed at the Lord. When life’s final moments are pending, its best to approach already with a forgiving heart.
  2. The words are in the form of a wish, as if Paul were telling Timothy, ‘”It’s Okay. I don’t fault anyone for not being here.

Paul was so forgiving of the many [Philippians 1:13-14] that might have been available as defense witnesses. He had 2 reasons.

  1. He wrote confidently, ” Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me.” reminds me of Romans 8:31b, 33a: “If God be for us,who can be against us? … Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” [Matthew 10:19].
  2. Paul, also, knew he was soon to go home. “I have finished what God had called me to do! My fight is over. [2 Timothy 4: 7].

In verse 7 Paul is writing with emphasis. I, also, believe we will know when this moment has arrived for each of us as believers and it will be Okay.]

In verse 7 he writes in this “perfect” sense 3 times: “fought, finished, kept.” This form emphasizes completeness, finality, and permanence.

  1. His fight with the judaizers was over, finally, completely and for good.
  2. His race was run and there would be no other.
  3. And, as unexpected as this might sound, coming from Paul, the last temptation was won! [I thought only I am tempted!] The last act of Satan to undo him was defeated. Paul is going home!!

These are the final thoughts of an elderly saint to his spiritual son. He has mellowed over the years. He has learned to be more understanding and accepting of the ambivalence of youth [Mark 15:39 comp 2 Timothy 4:11]. He is very much like a father now [1 Timothy 5:23].

“And for those believers I might have expected to support me in this moment but were not here,” I can imagine Paul thinking, “it’s Okay, son. Don’t give it any thought:”

I’m going home!


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What It Means To Be An American

What makes me an “American?” Or asked another way: Is there such a thing as the American Cultural Experience and am I a part of it?

People come to America for many reasons. Some do not seem to know or care to know what that American experience is. They come to get what they can get because they heard the word “free.” Others identify the American way of life as the way to freedom from political oppression. They want to share in our freedom—to give back and not just get. They contribute to the dream of our forefathers.

What it means to be American should never be lessened in importance! We ought to be ever improving as a society without altering our identity as Americans. In evolutionary terms: We must remain the same specie but better “fit” or adapt at caring, dealing with poverty and illness—and, culturally, a people united under a common flag.

An American cultural experience, as a way of life, was once based on a simple constitution that has over time been extended beyond that simplicity. The Federal Register includes 438 agencies and sub-agencies in which federal authority has been delegated to non-elected officials. This means unelected persons with no allegiance by oath to this Constitution. As history will show, some had not honored it in practice. We know this because the more we are regulated, the less free we are. The American cultural experience, that a revolutionary war was fought to defend, is being regulated out of existence. What is basic to being American is hereby being redefined. Even  some would rewrite our national history to legitimize changes that impugn (and even criminalize) what it has always meant to be American.

So I ask, What does it mean to be an American? What makes an American an American?

The Statue of Liberty describes those coming here as “yearning to breathe free.” The Declaration of Independence used the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to describe this. It has always been American to be a free people and that “yearning” has been transformed into a national patriotism that professes, “I am American!”

But how is this a cultural idea? Hamilton called the U.S. Constitution essential to our freedom which makes this Constitution a vital aspect of the American cultural experience:

Alexander Hamilton enlisted the help of political writers …  to pen a series of essays convincing the American people that the new Constitution was essential to their liberty. These are known as “The Federalist Papers”  (Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. p. 75)

Culture defines the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular society. Culture is the collective achievements of any society or nation, which for America, is described and envisioned in our Constitution and the importance we ascribe to it. [Wars have been fought on its account.] To disregard the provisions in the U.S. Constitution is to enlist in a regulatory system of control and deny Americans those freedoms described in that constitution. In other words: To change the culture is to change what it means to be American!

There are those who talk of democracy as foundational to our way of life but that word has been painted with a broad brush stroke that includes a hundred other nations. We are more than a democracy. We are a constitutional republic with a Bill of Rights and a separation of limited government powers.

To be American, means to have a distinct cultural experience that defines freedom in terms of our faith and that gives voice to our opinions. We even can redress grievances—disagree—with the government publicly.

Culturally, also, being Americans means we can climb up out of a lower class into a higher one—a higher economic bracket, a better career, if we choose. We can improve ourselves. Our roles in society are not culturally defined. There is no defined class system in America.

In the Federalist Papers #14 James Madison wrote concerning the U.S. Constitution,

“To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness. … Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate.” [The Federalist Papers. Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.]

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What If

Have you ever reflected back on choices you have made and wondered “What if” I had chosen ‘B’ instead of ‘A’? How would life be different now? I have—which has led me to research the “what if’s” in Scripture—if there are any.

Looking at this question from a theological point of view: Is there such a thing as God’s “permissive” will that a believer might choose instead of His “perfect” will for their life? Is it possible to take the wrong path at that cross roads and end up living with God’s “second best”?

Oh, by the way: There is a “perfect will” of God mentioned in Romans 12:2 and according to Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:9, God works best in our “weakness.” Might this mean, God never planned to leave us to our own devises? [Hebrews 13:5]. There is no “permissive will” mentioned to my knowledge.

What If

The phrase: “what if” has the word “if” in it. Scripturally, the word “if” is always forward looking. It speaks of some future possibility or probability. If it references the past in the New Testament it speaks of what is not factual or never happened: “…if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” [Galatians 1:10].

“What if” is more like “if only.” I found a couple “only if’s” but the only “if only” expressing regret was: “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt.” [Exodus 16:3] which is not a “what if” in our sense. It is only an “if only.” The first [what if”] regards choices; the latter [only if], circumstances. Beside, biblical examples all look forward, not backward in time—as our “what if” does.

The problem with “What if” is that it points to a condition with an unknown result where as in the New Testament “if” points to a condition with a known outcome. “If a man walks during the day, he won’t stumble.” [John 11:9]. If the result is unknown, it is future [Acts 8:31]. So, if any believer wants to torment themselves about theoretical possibilities that could never happen because—well, they never did happen and because choices have a shelf life [Our resources of time and energy abundant in youth seem to diminish with age] all this reminiscence just amounts to so much regret. God bless your sweet heart.

We read a “what if” Paul used arguing for grace. Romans 3:3 is worth looking at first in the NIV: “What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?” compared to the NET: “What then? If some did not believe, does their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God?” The NET is better since it separates out the “what” from the “if” in good Hebrew fashion: “what would be the case, then, “God’s faithfulness is unchanging.”

In Genesis 18, 6 times Abraham, interceding for Lot, sought to stay God’s judgment on Sodom, arguing “what if.” “What if there are fifty godly people in the city?. 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place…” [Genesis 18:24ff]. But as we will shortly point out in the grammar: this is using the phrase in a future possible setting not looking back on choices made asking whether or not Lot’s decisions may have impacted God’s will for his life.


Regret might be expressed in terms of what should have been but wasn’t, often in the form of a wish: Here’s our desert complaint again: “Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt,” [Exodus 16:3]. See also Revelation 3:15.
Yet none of these answer to the expression “What if my choices were different back then..?”

What do we make of Romans 8:29-32 which depicts the foreknowledge of God as foundational to everything God’s grace thereafter perfects in us. Where is the fork in this path?

And if God—like in Israel’s choice of a monarchy over them to replace the theocracy they were living under [1 Samuel 12]—”permits” us to make poor life choices that impact later what level or kind of calling He might give us, does this imply a “second best” life? Remember that David’s kingdom came out of Israel’s request and Christ from David’s lineage. Did God simply salvage Israel’s mistake or somehow leverage their carnality [wanting to be like every other nation: “equity?”] with a plan ‘B’? Yet I do not read anywhere of the wisdom of God ever chucking plan ‘A’ for any reason, else He would never have made it! Even Adam’s sin led to the Cross. I, for one, cannot believe God didn’t know that ahead of time—”before the foundation of the world was laid.” [Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3].

Maybe we sought more out of our Christian life than we appear to have obtained. Sounds a bit like pride? Perhaps, we regret some very bad decisions along the way or that last fight with our spouse left us wondering about something. Hang in there! There is nothing here that God didn’t know about already. And if we think He abandoned us to our own wiles at that precise moment that He—and He aloneneeded to make that choice, whatever it was …sounds like our faith in Him needs strengthening or at the least, have another conversation with Him about all this. Maybe another trial will do it? [1 Peter 1:7].

My advice? Don’t say “What if” because it is unresolvable [you cannot go back!] and only the “enemy’s” opportunity to discourage. We often see as failure what doesn’t appear world impacting or we surmise life would be a little less painful had we made better choices back then, but only God knows

… and He chose us anyway!

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Something New, Something Great, Something Expanded

Isaiah 56:3 reads in the KJV: “Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree [can’t beget children].”

Deuteronomy 23 places restrictions on strangers and eunuchs joining Israel—either for a limited time like the Moabites or indefinitely like the eunuchs. The good news is that under a new covenant with God, everyone will be welcome!

How expansive or granular must we define the words “stranger” and “eunuch” to correctly interpret the prophet? In other words: what is the context of Isaiah 56? Is it Israel? Is it the Church? Is it both!

Isaiah 53:8 speaks in a more general tone of those who had been banished [excommunicated] from the congregation of Israel. The KJV interprets the last part of this verse: “Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.”

Does “gathered” speak of those added to Israel by covenant? Is this the Church [John 10:16 “other sheep”]?

Widen Your Horizon: Look Up!

What’s interesting here is Isaiah’s use of language that hints at a wider scope in use:

  • The term “eunuch” is never used in the law code. It can refer to Egyptian officers [being castrated]. It encompasses intentional body mutilation as well as by accident. It appears more general than what Moses was talking about.
  • The phrase, “the outcast of Israel” is found only once outside Isaiah [Psalm 147:2]. Jeremiah 30:17 defines an outcast as “…whom no man seeks.” Perhaps, Isaiah has expanded his theological horizon to include more than eunuchs and foreigners.
  • The “stranger” Isaiah speaks of is more than just an immigrant [which is another term]. It is a word meaning “unrecognized” because no one paid them attention. This includes aliens but it may encompass a few excommunicates for other reasons. The point is, we haven’t really been introduced yet! I think cliques are seen here as taboo. We are forever meeting someone new and welcoming them into our group!
  • The double name of the Lord: “The Lord GOD” is used here which “indicates something great,” says scholarship. This phrase “saith my master Jehovah” is written 95 times, in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos. [in other words, it is prophetic!]
    In verse 8 the KJV translated “saith” from a Hebrew term mostly found at the end of a sentence, but found here at the beginning. [Here and Zechariah 12:1 are the exceptions.] Why? I like scholarship’s explanation (which supports everything I read about this word): “the expression … is … solemn, … and … stands here at the head [of this verse as] “… a proof that it contains not only something great, but something which needs a solemn confirmation because of its strangeness.”
  • And then there are a couple problems I had in addition trying to understand these verses:
    • The word “joined” was written with 2 “n’s.” [in the Hebrew, you nut!] Okay in Spanish they can trill 2 “r’s” in a different word than 1: perro [dog] and pero [but]. Pero, there is generally no double ‘n’ sound in Hebrew unless the first one ends a syllable and the second begins the next. It’s a question of pronouncing the thing! Hebrew also had contractions, like our “gimme” for “give me.” I just didn’t expect to see the double ‘n’ here.
    • The word “that hath joined” in verse 3 uses a verb beginning with the word “the” which stopped me in my interpretative tracks. One well respected grammarian thinks maybe Isaiah meant to use a different spelling but kind-of got caught in his brain between. [The “but” was my part.] And all this put the word’s accent [according to the Masoretes] on the last syllable, which isn’t usual, either.

A Great Gathering Prophesied!

And then, Isaiah did it again in verse 8 with the word “gather.” According to Isaiah [and this seems clearer] God is going to bring us all together, Israel and stranger and mutilated and everyone [to His gathering].

I love this word “gather” because it is God doing it not you and I, or Israel, or anyone else, making it happen. He did not ask us here to assembly. He assembled us! [It’s passive, for all you students of language. It’s grace for all you theologians!]

On The Sabbath

Read the context. It is a New Covenant, a new day! It’s Sabbath in God’s week. It is time to join the greatest prayer meeting to celebrate “our master” Jehovah! Brueggemann said that it is time to punch out of what he called the “producer-consumer rat race.” It is time to say sayonara to all anxiety and fear and go find a fig tree to sit under [Micah 4:4] —after the prayer meeting [Matthew 11:28].

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Remember The Sabbath And Keep It!

I have been gifted a work by Walter Brueggemann, “Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW.” In his preface he speaks of “A distinct faith identity in the midst of a culture that is inhospitable” to anything that reduces “the requirements of the market.” A few pages on he talks about “the system of commodity” which requires that “we want more, have more, own more, use more, eat more, and drink more.” This is the biblical definition of “greed” or covetousness which Paul called idol worship [Colossians 3:5].

This led me to a greater understanding of the first of the ten commandments. “You shall have no other gods before me” [Exodus 20:3]. Before in Hebrew might be better translated beside, in addition to, being preeminent above. What might confuse us was the word other. It would have been simpler had the Lord said, “You shall serve me, only!” But as unavoidably clear as that is, we need to know that the market place is another god!

What was God saying? Ask any woman about her husband’s girlfriend. God has from the beginning seen Himself as a husband to Israel [Hosea 2:16]. What might we think the word unfaithfulness means in this context [Leviticus 26:40 NKJV]?

The remaining commandments can be understood in this light. Replacing a worship for God with a inordinate affection [greed] for the market place leads to all sorts of corruption culminating in envy, which leads to theft and adultery, and which can—and does—lead to murder—the ultimate “cover up.” And obviously, to saunter down this path means that first we have owned a total disregard for family—mom and dad, hopefully, our first source of wisdom.

How do we avoid this precipice? Well, gather together 1 day in 7 to worship God and fellowship with men and women of like mind. For 1 day in 7 we can “fast” the malls and the soccer fields. I remember the first Sunday night I had to preach while my team was playing in the Super Bowl! I survived.

I just finished reading Carol Roth’s book on a well-thought out plan by the government, along with the coastal elites, to transfer all personal wealth from Main street to Wall street. [A must read!]  In “You Will Own Nothing” Ms Roth, a “recovering” investment banker; entrepreneur … and a New York Times bestselling author, alerts us of this ultimate power grab, which I think we must admit that we saw coming. To quote John Locke, “I have no reason to suppose that he, who would take away my Liberty, would not when he had me in his Power, take away everything else.”

We can and should take steps to be economically responsible toward family as well as pushback on an undeniable evil that wants to control us by impoverishing us. But does this contradict what we just said?

Oh! Contraire!

The best thing we could do to counter such an assault on our personal well-being is go to church!!! Separate out one day per week for God. Fast the media and find a renewed interest in prayer which will prove in more ways than one—our salvation.

Said another way, Whatever they take, don’t let them take your faith [Luke 18:8].

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Can the Lottery Be Dangerously Grotesque?

I was not prepared for what I was about to learn on reading Walter Brueggemann’s Commentary on Isaiah. In his note on Isaiah 2:6b-8, he wrote, “The prophetic tradition, long before Karl Marx, understood that distorting religion and distorting economics provide mutual reinforcement and together seriously impinge upon the character and identity of the community.”1 This is what Jesus, Himself, warned about: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” [Matthew 6:24]. In Brueggemann’s words, You cannot serve “religion and economics.”

For those, as myself, who know little about Marxism, here is an excerpt from his manifesto. For the record: I think Marx is misrepresenting the market as a place of trade but he has shown an uncommon astuteness in describing the greed that has overtaken it. Capitalism—a system in which trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state—Marx contended, “has pitilessly torn asunder the motley … ties … and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’”2 Even the least observant has come to view “Wall Street” as the purest form of greed. Anyone there, is there for one purpose, only, to make money—as much money as possible. The New Testament word for greed—perhaps, you recall—means “wanting more, getting more, having more, wanting more ….” And Paul called it idolatry! “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: (he listed here ) evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” [Colossians 3:5 NIV]

Marx, went on to say, that capitalism “… has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor … in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless and indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade.”3 Here he confused trade with greed, which is a bit like blaming the gun for someone’s murder. But still, if this is socialism, it is a war on the middle class, but not by the poor but the elites. Marx, nonetheless called it “… exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. … The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the [capitalist] over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.”4

In Graham Ward’s edited short work on Postmodern Theology he alerts us to this ever present danger of greed. He sees it in terms of consumerism. To the market dweller, we are only here to spend the money they give us. We serve no loftier purpose. And for this to work, we need to be consumed with an interest in consuming, purchasing—and not just shoes or the latest smart phone!

Ward called it a “fetish” (an excessive and irrational devotion or commitment to a particular thing) writing: “It is significant that the structure of commodity fetishism involves both a recognition that the fetish is a substitute, not the object desired itself [the pleasure is not in having the newest whatever but in the purchasing of it!], and, simultaneously, a disavowal of its substitutional character [we deny that that is what is happening!]. It has the grammatical structure of “I know, but even so. . . .” As Jacques Lacan pointed out, this intrinsic disavowal renders desire itself unstable. The desire can then continually displace itself onto new objects. The pleasure of not getting what you want drives consumerism. Consumerism becomes an endless experience of fetishism – as Marx was inchoately [not fully but in a rudimentary sense] aware.”5

The Progressive idea of economic health is based on a demand side economics: Give people money to spend. As a country we are unaware of the danger, for example, in encouraging the citizenry to attempt to win a lottery worth over three-quarters of a billion (with a ‘B’) dollars! Someone or ones will be momentary happy and then comes “hell.” As Jesus warned, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matthew 16:26]. The lottery is feeding a dangerous beast and only making it hungrier!

And Isaiah, having God’s wise counsel, reported that the economy of the nation of Judah under Uzziah and Jotham prospered, but with that prosperity came a worldview, a Zeitgeist, that excluded God: “Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their chariots.…they bow down to the work of their hands” [Isaiah 2:7]. ] Judah became, what Brueggemann called, “an accommodationist money economy in pursuit of affluence … like all the nations.” 6 They were trapped in an endless cycle of insecurity—needing money to buy weapons to guard a growing treasury. And God was replaced by “the works of their own hands.”7 Their self-reliance was exposed and humiliated, which—the prophet lamented unforgivably—that this forebode their own destruction. “So people will be brought low and everyone humbled—do not forgive them.,” Isaiah excoriated them [Isaiah 2:9].

Some scholars think it harsh of the prophet to claim no forgiveness for Judah but they were beyond repentance having gone through cycles of prophetic warnings, Only repentance could “save” them but this was not on the agenda for a self-dependent society!

“But Jeshurun [Israel] became fat and kicked, you got fat, thick, and stuffed! Then he deserted the God who made him, and treated the Rock who saved him with contempt” [Deuteronomy 32:15 NET].

Then Brueggemann wrote, “the triad of money-weapons-idols forms a convergence that is at the core of Karl Marx’s critique of an alienated society.” Wanting to learn more about this alienation, I went to the writings of Ludwig von Mises of the Austrian School of Economics who lectured on Marxism for the Freeman Magazine, delivered at the San Francisco Public Library in 1952. “Don’t think it is possible for a man to practice all his life a certain ideology,” he concluded, “without believing in it.”8 And Judah had replaced the teachings of the Mosaic Law, God’s, so-called, “Old” Covenant with something culturally and spiritually alien to the Lord’s explicit instructions for their life.

“This threefold ‘fullness,’” Brueggemann lamented, “has decisively shifted the identity of the community, which now neither depends upon Yahweh … nor obeys Yahweh. No wonder Yahweh has rejected [it].”9 Judah had been brainwashed into an ideology that replaced Torah.

But Isaiah would take comfort in the prophetic knowledge that someday the truth would win out and God “…will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths” [Isaiah 2:3]. But that was a distant hope, that we now know is written into the “New” Covenant in the Savior’s blood at Calvary.

This, however, does not mean we are not vulnerable to the same Zeitgeist Judah fell victim to. Brueggemann warns, “This analysis, which pertains to an ancient society, is a workable model for our continuing social analysis of our own time and place, an analysis that is at the heart of prophetic faith.”10

1 Brueggemann, Page 28.
2 Karl Marx; Friedrich Engels.The Communist Manifesto . Hewlett-Packard. Kindle Edition.
3 Ibid
4 Ibid.
5 Ward, Introduction “Where We Stand” Page xxi.
6 Brueggemann, Page 29.
7 Isaiah 31:7
8 Ludwig von Mises, Page 37.
9 Brueggemann. Isaiah 1-39, Page 29.
10 Ibid.

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Much More

Romans 5:10. If while we were still enemies we were reconciled with God through the death of His Son, much more rather now we shall be saved in being reconciled by His life.

If God, who is an eternal God, would go so far as to rescue His enemies from death in order to be reconciled as friends with them, this must mean forever, else why would He express such an extreme love!

Much More

If His death removed the sin and reconciled us, what would His resurrection provide!! [Romans 6:4].

Not only does our Lord pour out His love [Romans 5:3] and His Spirit [Acts 2:17], there is a “much more” attached to His many provisions! Not only is He merciful, the Bible uses the plural, mercies, but they are much more, brand new daily, like the manna; so, He is not just faithful, His faithfulness is great [Lamentations 3:23]. Everything about our God is immeasurable or infinite:

  • “To God who is able to do for us what will far exceed anything we might request or imagine…..” [Ephesians 3:20].
  • “in order that in the coming ages of forever He might demonstrate that immeasurable riches of his grace ….” [Ephesians 2:7].
  • “If God did not spare his own Son but instead sacrificed Him in our place, what else would He not grant us!” [Romans 8:32]?
  • The wealth of God’s wisdom and knowledge are beyond our understanding! His decisions beyond logic and what He does on our behalf we could never presume to know [Romans 11:33].

We are:

  • Not only justified but, much more, saved from wrath [Romans 5:9].
  • Not only reconciled to God but, much more, forever [Romans 5:10].
  • Not only forgiven but, much more, free from the sin [Romans 5:15, 17, 20].
  • Not only was the Old Testament Law glorious but much more, Our Lord’s ministry is among us. [2 Corinthians 3:9, 11].
  • Not only is gold valuable but, much more, is our faith in Christ! [1 Peter 1:7].

And there’s even MORE …MUCH MORE! … A Celebration!!! [Romans 5:11 NLT]. Are you ready!!

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

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On The Subject of Monogamy

Those who claim that monogamy is not natural for human beings are simply recognizing the proclivity toward procreation that characterizes the human species, the animalism that the body represents. But, vital to human relations, the soul still exercises an oversight over the body’s impulses because we are more than physical beings, we are social ones, as well. [We might add: we are spiritual ones also, made in God’s Image. This is, however,  not essential to the argument before us.]

The body as a body must necessarily be absolutely selfish, carnal, and it must interpret copulation as the single most important thing for self-preservation. It is in this regard we speak of objectifying another person, seeing them solely in a physical sense [body to body].

But the soul, that makes humans social beings, sees relationships. It is, therefore, because we have a soul, that sexually we are monogamous: only one for only one. Monogamy is a social term—not a physical one. Monogamy is a relational term because it is part of a social contract, a social conversation, one person has with another. To say we are not monogamous requires that we do not believe in the soul—an idea no Christian could maintain.

Can we argue, by social definition, that one man can be in a monogamous relation with more than one woman? After all, we can have more than one sibling or more than one parent and in a social relationship with each. But we may argue that the sexual relation is different in that it is both social and physical. Language recognizes the difference in its terms for love: affection and eroticism. If we believe we have a soul, we consent to this difference as reasonable or a validly recognized distinction. It is the soul of man that now argues against multiple sexual partners or promiscuity of any sort through the emotion of jealousy which is the soul’s claim on its partner for itself.

Social Contracts and Covenants

It is the soul that recognizes social contracts—including the marriage contract. It is the soul that goes into covenant with God. Some argue that it is by the spirit not the soul that we have a relationship with God but this is a distinction without a difference. Are we dichotomous [body and soul] or trichotomous. [body, soul, and spirit] beings is a question debated in freshman seminary classes which soon lose interest because both terms speak to relationships. We like to define our relationship with God as spiritual and with each other as social—that is all.

But society is seeking to evolve past all this, to imagine life without a soul, without a moral contract, to make relations more fluid that can be easily divorced and reestablished in a faultless social environment. Society is seeking to keep relations casual and more animalistic, that is, seeking pleasure rather than partnership—the physical over the social.

Redefining society this way will destroy the very fabric social relations are made of which is a way of saying we have gone from social beings to every man for himself. No society can survive this scenario. The dissolution of the monogamous relationship, and consequently the nuclear family, is a world without a definable social order and a world that cannot appreciate God’s design and desire upon the soul.

But,  then again, speaking of the soul, those who support social change of this kind, are saying man does not have one, anyway.

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10 Reasons for Owning a KJV Bible

The joke goes about the translation of the Bible, “If the King James was good enough for Peter and Paul, it’s good enough for me.” But is this really laughable? Here’s 10 reasons for using the King James over other versions:

  1. The King James Bible is less expensive to buy.
  2. The King James is not under copyright infringement law; so, you can copy all of it if you want in your latest book.
  3. The Blue Letter Bible study app defaults to the King James providing study links to each word. This is not available generally in the other translations.
  4. It is best in a group setting, especially a Bible study, because it is readily available for all. Most churches stock copies of the KJV in pew racks, for example. Use it as notes.
  5. Memorizing scripture means you must choose a translation. Most scripture memorization in VBS and Sunday School programs are in the KJV. The KJV is tried and proven for this important aspect of Christian life.
  6. The Psalms are poetry. as is a large part of the Old Testament, which best matches the rhythmic cadence of the KJV translation. Most Scriptural songs are taken from the KJV.
  7. The KJV is the most popular version among Protestants and universally accepted. It is clear that after more than 400 years, the King James Bible has more than proven its staying power. It’s had a very powerful influence on our language and our literature, to this very day.
  8. Most Christians, doctrinally, support the Verbal Plenary Theory of Inspiration which says the words—and not just the ideas—are inspired, [That’s why we study Biblical languages.] This gives added credence to a literal (word for word) translation of the Bible, like the KJV. Some, so-called, paraphrased translation, are more like a commentary of the Scriptures, rather than the Scriptures. themselves. So, if you are doing a group word study, the King James version gives you opportunity to focus on any word that you want to whereas interpretations of the Bible may not. Often the NIV is like the Message, a free flowing interpretation that makes it hard to locate the word in question. Word-for-Word is regarded as the most accurate. It leaves the least wiggle room for error or misunderstanding.
  9. Most Concordances for Bible study, like Strong’s Concordance, use the KJV as their base translation. For the scholar who wants to dig deeper but is not familiar with the original languages, there is a lot of material if you are familiar with the KJV.
  10. Why change! Churches began using it and stuck with it because it met the needs of believers. If it’s not broke ….

A Summary: The KJV remains the most popular Bible in the English-speaking world. It’s because of its amazing literary qualities, its memorability, and the fact that many of the Study Bible cross references originated with the KJV. To paraphrase the joke: If it was good enough for gramma, it is good enough for me.

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