The “New Normal”

“The new normal”:  the current buzzword describing the changes made in our culture and society by the presence and effect of COVID-19.  Wearing masks and gloves, wiping down surfaces which may have been touched.  “Social distancing.”  “Sheltering at home.”  Jobs lost, businesses closed, lives changed.  A good portion of our culture and economy destroyed.  A tremendous amount of food thrown away or destroyed because the transportation needed to move it to market was closed down – and, I fear, the worst is yet to come from that.

Actually, there is nothing “new” in all this, after all.  Oh, perhaps the exact circumstances are unique, but this is not the first time in our world’s sad history that a “new normal” has happened.  And it won’t be the last.

The very first time happened very early in that history, and, no, I do not accept the evolutionary idea that everything “just happened.” I do accept Genesis 1-3 as reliable, factual history.

And, in that history, although not a lot of detail is given, “normal” was an innocent and sinless Adam and Eve living in paradise, having fellowship with their God and Creator, Genesis 1-3.  The idyllic environment of the earth at that time can be used to explain a lot of things, like dinosaurs, that secular “science,” with its basic assumption that there couldn’t possibly have been a God to create it, has completely misunderstood.

The first “new normal” occurred when Adam and Eve disobeyed a simple command of God and were thrown out of the Garden.  They lost fellowship with God and their whole life and future, as well as that of their descendants, was radically changed.

“Normal” then became a sinful race living more or less, mostly more, in disregard of their God and Creator.  Romans 1:21-31 is a description of this first rebellion.  It’s also applicable to a lot of cultures throughout history, and of ours in this year of our Lord 2020.

The next “new normal” is described in Genesis 6-9, when God determined to judge an increasingly wicked and perverted human race with a great flood.  Though unbelief tells us this was just some local overflow of streams or rivers, these four chapters of Scripture record that God told Noah several times that He would destroy the world that then was, Genesis 6:7, 13, 17; 7:4, 11, 12; 17-23; 8:9, 21; 9:11-17.

In Matthew 24:39 and Luke 17:27, the Lord Jesus confirmed the universal scope of the Flood.  And Peter, in 2 Peter 3:5, 6, also refers to it, and prophesies of another, yet future total destruction of the earth, this time by fire.

The next “new normal” happened a few hundred years later, in Genesis 11.  In Genesis 9:1, 7, God told Noah to, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth,”….”be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.”

In Genesis 11, we read that men migrated from the east to a plain in Shinar [which became known as Babylon], and they dwelt there, v. 2.  As they considered their situation, v. 4, they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Genesis 10 records the the genealogies of Noah’s three sons, as they indeed began to multiply and fill the earth, and it says that each son fathered descendants according to their families, according to their languages, vs. 5, 15, 31.

Genesis 11:1 tells us that the whole earth had one language and one speech.  So, their “normal” was rebellion against God’s command to multiply and fill the earth.  They had settled in one place.  The chapter tells us the origin of all the different languages of our world.

I do have a different view of the “tower” they built.  It’s commonly thought that they were trying to reach and get into heaven.  That may be, but if it’s true that there was some sort of atmospheric “canopy” around the earth, Genesis 1:6: “expanse,” then it may be that, prior to the Flood, their view of the heavens was blurred or blocked.  After the Flood, this “expanse” was gone, I think, as part of the Flood, then, all of a sudden, there was this whole new world, so to speak, “out there,” and they built this tower to get a better view of it, much like telescopes today are built in higher elevations.  No doubt, knowing the perversity of man, what began as wonder and curiosity deteriorated into worship.

As I said, a different view of it all.

But there was a “new normal” associated with it, as well.  In Genesis 11:5, we read, the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.  And the LORD said, “Indeed, the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing they propose to do will be withheld from them.  Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they nay not understand one another’s speech.”…Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”

Their “new normal” was that they were scattered all over the place, and some with whom they had worked now spoke what we would call “gobbledy-gook” and they couldn’t understand each other.  But there were some who spoke the same new language and so they settled down together and, in effect, started over. What they could have, and should have, done voluntarily was done for them.

I believe Romans 1:18-32 describes the situation that arose out of Babel and became the scene out of which God chose one man – Abraham – through which He would work eventually to reclaim the human race, a race that had turned its back on Him.  Abraham was the next “new normal”.

Then, after Abraham, the next “new normal” was that God rescued a bunch of slaves out of the greatest country of its time, and led them to their own country, a country He promised to them and to their descendants “forever:” Genesis 17:8; 48:2-4; Exodus 3:8; 6:4; 13:5, 11; Leviticus 14:34; Number 34 (which gives a detailed list of the boundaries of the Promised Land – the only such listing for any country in the history of the world.  Even after all this time, Israel still lives within those boundaries.  How many other nations have come and gone in that time?); 1 Chronicles 16:15-19; Isaiah 19:18-24.

Isaiah 19 itself lists a “new normal” for the countries in that part of the world, and describes a situation that cannot be said to have happened yet:

In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.   In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border.  And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.  Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it.  And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.  In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.  In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance,” vs. 18-25.

That last sentence alone….

And it can’t be said that, because God mentions Assyria, all this has somehow happened already.  He was describing the area by the countries the people knew, and even “Assyria” has come down to us as “Syria”.

Two more “new normals”.

One day, a young Jewish man was walking along a shoreline and saw some fishermen.  He said to some of them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17.  He called some others, as well.  From them, He formed what we call, “the church,” and gave them a mission to “preach the Gospel” to all the world.

And, finally,

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy, Isaiah 66:17, 18.

“For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “So shall your descendants and your name [spoken to Israel] remain. Isaiah 66:22.

looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, 2 Peter 3:12.

That will be the last “new normal,” and it will last.

Forever.

Oh, that the Lord would give us eyes to see.  This current situation, this virus, this unsettling, this “sheltering at home,” will not endure.  I don’t know what’s coming or how it will all work out, but I know that the Lord is still on the throne and He will work it out.  He’s preparing for us a new home, John 14:1-3.

Are you ready?

John 3:16: The Neglected Word.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life, NKJV.

Our last post looked at John 3:16 as the most popular and beloved verse in Scripture.  And it is a wonderful truth, as we stated, that grace and mercy have been extended to Gentiles apart from their having to become Jews.  I have nothing against the Jewish people; if you’ve followed me for any length of time, that should be apparent.  They have their own place in the redemptive purpose of God, and it is theirs.  In spite of those who teach otherwise, God is not done with Israel, even though a terrible time does await her.  But, after that time is over, an even more glorious future is promised her by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jeremiah 31:31-34.

This post will focus on one word in John 3:16:  perish.  This thought isn’t nearly as welcome as the thought of the love of God.  However, we cannot isolate one aspect of God’s nature and ignore the rest.  God is love, yes, as 1 John 4:8, 16.  And we are  required to love one another, John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17, which is our Lord’s command, and there are about 15 references to this in the rest of the New Testament.

At the same time, though, according to God’s own testimony about Himself, “love” is not His defining characteristic.  In Leviticus 11:44, 45, God commanded Israel, ‘For I am the Lord your God.  You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. … For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.  You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

“I am holy.”

Holiness.

That is God’s basic nature.  Leviticus 19:2; 20;26; 21:8 and 1 Peter1:16 all repeat this idea.  Further, God is called The Holy One of Israel more than 30 times in the Old Testament.

The word translated, “holy,” means “separate.”  It tells us that God is “separate” from His creation.  He is not part of it or “in” it, as the pantheist or the panentheist tells us.   Pantheism tells us that everything is God and God is everything, hence the worship of trees and such.  The panentheist says that while God is not everything, He is in everything.  Though not the tree Himself, He is in the tree.  Both of those views miss the mark.  God is “separate” from His creation.  He is Spirit, as John 4:24 tells us.  He’s not flesh-and-blood, though the Lord Jesus became that when He came into this world to redeem sinners.  He is not some material “thing,” like wood or stone.  He is Spirit; we don’t even really know what “spirit” is.  God is also separate in the fact that He morally above His creation:  He cannot sin.  Everything He does is right and true and good, though man foolishly and wickedly imagines that he can sit in judgment on the Most High.

And He’s not a figment of our imaginations.  One of these days, we’ll find that out.

So…

What does all this have to do with “perish”?

Because God is holy, He cannot and will not overlook sin.  Even though it may seem like individuals, and groups, and nations, are getting away with their blatant disregard for His Word, it is still true that, it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment, Hebrews 9:27.  Without getting into the various views about that coming judgment, Scripture does clearly indicate that we all, every one of us, will stand before Him in judgment.

Revelation 20:11-15 is one such description:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.  And there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.  And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books.  The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead which were in them.  And they were judged, each one according to his works.  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

That is what it means to “perish”.

This is why the Lord Jesus came to this earth.  It wasn’t just to give us Christmas or Easter, or to fuel arguments over which religion, church or denomination is the “right” one.  It was to atone for sin, to pay that awful penalty hinted at in the word, “perish.”  It was to provide that righteousness, the lack of which is part of the reason people will perish.  It was to take the place of those who believe on Him for salvation.

He died, so that we might live.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

“Essential”

We’re hearing a lot today about “essential” services and people. It seems to me to be typical of a governmental view that has lost all contact with the people it’s supposed to represent. I would venture that the people who are so worried about who is essential and who isn’t are themselves the ones who are not essential.

Everyone is essential to someone….

More Than An “April Fool.”

Originally posted on April 1, 2015.

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April 1, at least in the US, is known as “April Fool’s Day.”  It’s a day when people like to play jokes on other people, to “prank” them, though anymore that doesn’t seem to be limited to one day of the year.  In Luke 12:13-21, our Lord told of a man who was more than an “April fool.”

This incident in the Lord’s life happened because someone asked Him to arbitrate a dispute over an inheritance.  Jesus replied that He wasn’t here for such things, that there was more to life than a lot of “things” and the desire for more of them was to be avoided.  In v. 23, He said, “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.”  This echoes something He said in Matthew 6:25, “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”   I don’t think He meant that…

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The End of Days

Originally posted in May 21, 2013.

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For some reason, my wife and I like disaster movies.  This is not to be confused with movies which are a disaster.  Or maybe it’s just me,and she puts up with it.  She does that, – a lot.  If there’s a DVD with background information on how it’s done, so much the better. I’m fascinated by the “hows” of the disaster scenes.  My comment to my wife is often, “I wonder how they did that.”  One of my favorites along that line is “Dante’s Peak.”  Even knowing how they do the dam rupturing or the highway collapsing and seeing how they “shoot it,” especially since there’s no such highway near the town where they shot the movie, it’s amazing to me that, knowing all that, you cannot tell it in the movie.  It looks real.  Another thing that amazes me is the amount of work it must take…

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What Will We Leave Behind?

Originally posted on September 27, 2013.

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I guess I’m getting old.  Actually, there’s not much “guessing” about it.  I think about death a lot more than I did when I was younger.

Besides, it’s kind of been brought to my attention lately.  I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an elderly neighbor who was found dead in his home.  My next-door neighbor was the one who told me what had happened.  Two weeks later, he died.  He was my age.  [added a day later: Now there’s a “sale” at his house.  Cars parked up and down the street.  People going through the house; strangers dissecting a life now gone.  Got me to thinking about such things.]

Our daughter who lives in Florida was here last week to visit us.  While she was here, she went through a container of things which had belonged to my grandmother and had been in her china cabinet –…

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My Joy, My God, My All

I don’t know what the future holds, or what the results will be with this coronavirus that is plaguing us. I just know that we’re all in God’s hand, and that hand will never fail.

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from Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vine;
Though the harvest of the olive fail,
And food be hard to find;
Though the flock may come to nothing
And no oxen in the stall –
Yet I’ll rejoice in Yahweh,
My joy, my God, my All.

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“A Relationship with God”

Originally posted March 7, 2014

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If you’ve been around more or less conservative churches for any length of time, you’ve probably heard some preacher or personal worker urge people to be saved, so they can “have a relationship with God.”  I understand where they’re coming from, but the truth of the matter is that everyone already has a “relationship” with God.  Now, this DOES NOT mean, as some believe, that we’re already all the children of God.  Nevertheless, from the most outspoken atheist to the most devoted believer, from the newly-fertilized ovum looking for a place to nestle in its mother’s womb to the most elderly person on the planet, whether historic or contemporary, ancient or modern, each and every human being has a “relationship” with God.  To be sure, it isn’t necessarily the same, but it is a “relationship” nevertheless.

What do I mean?

We live in a society which for the most part…

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The Gospel According to Job

Originally posted on August 7, 2014.

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Wait!

What?

Job?

Gospel!?

Job’s about bad stuff!  No way! …

Way!

There does seem to be a negative attitude toward this book.  Possibly that’s because those who are against it have never really read it.  And, I suppose, that might be understandable.  It’s a difficult book to get your mind around.

Just lately, I’ve read comments that the book puts God in a bad light.  Others say that it teaches that God isn’t sovereign, after all.  One blogger recently went so far as to say that he believes that the sovereignty of God is the greatest trick that Satan has ever put over on Christians (!)  Needless to say, I don’t agree with that statement!  Nor, I think, does Scripture.

Now it’s true that Job and his friends didn’t have “the Gospel” as we understand it, but they knew a great deal more about spiritual things than they generally get credit…

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Half A Christ

I posted this more than six years ago, but it’s still true today. There is still much, if not more, confusion about this eternally vital subject.

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“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…,” Acts 16:31.

What did Paul and Silas mean when they said this to the Philippian jailer and then probably later to his household?  Surprisingly, there’s quite a discussion about this, with widely varying views set forth by otherwise equally “Bible-believing” pastors and teachers.  The discussion centers around one particular idea, namely, does one have to “accept” Jesus as Lord as well as Savior, or can one just “get saved” and then later make Jesus his Lord?

This post is a response to an article by Charlie Bing, posted on 1024project.com.  It’s titled “Why Lordship Faith Misses the Mark For Salvation.”  His opening sentence says, “Lordship salvation has a very confused view of the gospel that results in very confused Christians who hold it.”  Then he goes on to make what he considers a detailed case against it.

The first…

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