Revelation 1:10-13, A Loud Voice

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia:  to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea,”
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands, One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. (NKJV)

John might have been in exile, but he wasn’t alone.  Other than that he was a prisoner, we don’t know anything about his situation on that island, except that it was Sunday and he was “in the Spirit.”  I doubt that means what seems to be a lot of what is associated with that in our time; perhaps he was simply musing about the Lord, you can do that in the midst of the most mundane and boring tasks as well as in church.  In fact, it makes those tasks much better.  Regardless, suddenly he’s aware of a Presence.  He’s not alone.  He hears a voice.

Sometimes the Lord speaks very quietly.  He did that to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11, 12.  There had been a violent, stormy wind, an earthquake, and then, lightning, but Scripture tells us that the LORD wasn’t in those things.  After all these things, there was a still small voice, or as someone has translated it, “the sound of a gentle quietness”.  That seems to be strange, but sometimes after a lot of noise and commotion, silence is all the more noticeable.  The Lord sometimes speaks quietly.

Not here.

John hears a loud voice, as of a trumpet, v. 10.  In fact, Scripture often represents the voice of the Lord as noticeable and attention-getting.  John himself later describes it as having the sound of many waters, v. 15.  Ezekiel 1:24; 43:2 also describe God’s voice like that.

In our culture, at least some folks seem to think God has to speak in a timid, hesitant voice, lest He offend someone.  Better yet, He doesn’t speak at all.

But He does speak.

He speaks in the calamities and catastrophes which happen because we’ve told Him to go away.  He’s telling us to pay attention to what happens when we defy and deny Him.

One of the advantages of being old is that I can remember a time when it wasn’t like this.  People could leave their doors unlocked.  Women could walk down the streets at night and be safe.  I used to wander around at night – in an area of town which is probably a very high crime area today.  No problem.  Yes, there was crime, but nothing like we see today.  The high school I attended, which was in the “tough” part of town, had a rifle range in the basement, with live ammo.  I qualified as a marksman there.  Never any hint of trouble.  You could buy rifles at the local dime store.  Rifle racks in the cabs of pickup trucks were common – complete with rifle(s).  The boys all carried pocket knives.  No biggie.  Now, people are terrified if a person tries to take a nail file onto an airplane.  And guns?  Why, to some people, they are the greatest evil in our time.

What happened?

The 1960s.

People decided drugs were cool.  Love should be “free.”  “Free speech” meant filthy speech.  We should throw off those old puritanical hang-ups of decency and modesty.  We rejoiced in the “new morality,” which was just the old immorality brought up to date.

We decided we knew better than God.

We jumped off the cliff.

We had no idea what we were doing.

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Violence Against Women

A lot of attention has been paid recently, and rightly so, to the video of the despicable brute who knocked his fiancee against the railing of an elevator and then dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator.  This “man” (I can’t think of a word that as a Christian I can use to describe him otherwise) is a sports figure and a lot of discussion has centered around what should happen to him.  My own opinion is that at the very least he should be banned from participation in any sport at any level and in any way, for the rest of his life.  And to be held up to disgust and revulsion as the scum that he is.  Probably, neither will happen.  In fact, I understand that there’s some talk about making him a “mentor” to younger players on the team.  *sigh*

Unfortunately, he isn’t the only perpetrator of violence against women and there have been several incidents since then in which men have been asked to resign for their positions because of it.

What does one expect in a society where women are referred to as “bitches” and “hos”?  Where there is no respect whatever for them as women?  Where they have no respect for themselves, but have been persuaded by feminism that they have a right to be as vile as men think they have the right to be?  Violence against women is only a small part of the price of “free love”.  And I’m not blaming them for what happens to them.  It should never happen to them.

There was a time, not so long ago, when such violence was generally unthinkable.  It happened, to be sure, it’s always happened, but there was an overriding understanding that a man does not hit a woman.  Women were to be protected, to be cared for, to be respected.  They were the wives we swore to love, honor and cherish, the mothers of our children, the heart of our home.  All this has pretty much been relegated to the trash heap of history.

There’s an Old Testament incident which, in my opinion, illustrates perfectly one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why there is so much violence against women.  It’s found in 2 Samuel 13.  Though I won’t quote it here, you should stop and read it.  It won’t take but a couple of minutes.

Briefly summarized, the story is this:  David had several sons by different wives, as well as at least one daughter, a beautiful girl named Tamar.  One of her half-brothers began to lust after her and it began to affect him physically.  One of his friends noticed this and asked him what was wrong.  The brother confessed his desire for his half-sister.  This friend gave him an idea about how he could satisfy that desire.  Well, he did so and there is a telling verse which is the verse I’m thinking of for this post:

Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her, 2 Samuel 13:15.

When she protested against this treatment, he had her bodily removed and the door locked after her.

This OT incident speaks perfectly to one reason for violence against women today.  When the main thing a couple has is their sexual experiences, when that’s gone or diminishes, there little or nothing left.  They have nothing else in common to keep them together.  Often, as we saw in Amnon’s case, “love” quickly turns to hate.  The man feels cheated or disgusted or something, so he takes it out on the woman.

Sexual fulfillment was meant to be the consummation of a marriage, not the commencement of a “relationship.”  That word in itself speaks volumes.  No longer is a couple “courting,” though that phrase went out before I was born.  They’re in a “relationship.”  They’re not married; they’ve just moved in together.

Life consists of so much more than what happens in the bedroom.  Make no mistake; God created us as sexual beings, but because of what happens when it all goes sideways: violence against women, among other things, He also created the situation in which it’s to be enjoyed.  If there’s nothing but sex in a “relationship,” when that goes, then there’s nothing left.

As long as the attitude prevails that “it’s just sex,” the situation will never improve.

This no doubt is a complex problem, but the main cause is the promiscuous and immoral attitude so prevalent in our society.  Until that improves, the situation will remain the same, or get worse.

The few words of this post won’t solve the problem, but they propose a starting place.  Nothing physical without or apart from being married.  And it doesn’t deal with the problem of abuse of the wife in marriage.  My own view is that such men ought to be shot, but then I tend toward an Old Testament view of justice.

This would also mitigate the situation with rape.  The current discussion about “when does yes mean yes?” etc., would be greatly reduced if there were no sexual expectations apart from marriage.  I understand, as things are currently going, that this will never happen again.  It would, however, be a start.

 

Where’s God??

God is seldom involved directly in what happens in this world.  He created it with physical, natural and moral laws, which are sometimes called “second causes.”  In other words, if a farmer wants a harvest, he must plant seeds – and do the other things necessary to the seeds to grow.  God has also made it so that actions have consequences.

Man isn’t a puppet or robot.  In spite of all the discussion about “free will vs. divine sovereignty,” there are very few who disagree with the idea that we make choices, all of the time.  These choices have consequences.  Since the 60s, there has been an increasing effort by liberals and unbelievers to distance this country from the political and religious principles upon which it was founded:  “There are no absolutes,” “What’s true for you may not be true for me,” “Get rid of all those old Puritan hangups.”

The result of all this is seen in the increasing violence and immorality in our country, aided and abetted by a liberal media which flocks to scenes of horror – the latest shootings, for example – like vultures to carrion.  And I’ve noticed an increase in profanity in the little network television that I watch.  Words are being used that were seldom heard anywhere in my youth.  Kids in elementary school use words that were seldom heard anywhere in my youth.  A lot of television is little more than softcore pornography.

The High School I went to had a rifle range in the basement (ROTC) with rifles and live ammo.  And, yes, they were locked up when we weren’t using them.  I qualified as a marksman on that range.  Guns were everywhere and easily and legally available.  The local department store likely sold them.  Further, the fellows almost all carried pocket knives.  This HS was the “tough” school in the city, yet there was NEVER any trouble with guns or knives.  Liberalism hadn’t yet succeeded in destroying the moral foundations of America.

For years, we’ve told God that He’s not welcome in our schools, our government, our society, or even in many churches, which have become interested in what they call “social justice,” rather than spiritual redemption.  For the most part, God has allowed us to go our foolish, sinful way – with the sad and horrifying results we see all around us.  Yet when these things happen, the first question often is, “Where is God?”

God gave us what we want; He has left us to our choices.

 

The First “Bible Study”

Genesis 3:1-4

It’s interesting to me that the first “Bible study” in Scripture was initiated by Satan.  Granted, Adam and Eve didn’t have “Scripture” as we understand it, but they still had words God had given them – and I don’t suppose that we have a complete record of everything that was said.

Anyway, the tactics Satan used were so successful, as he thought, that he’s used them ever since in his attacks against the Word of God.

1.  Doubt.

“has God said,….”? (NKJV)  The NASB has it, “Indeed, has God said,…?”

So, we hear:

“The Bible was written long after the events it supposedly tells about.”
“The Bible was just written by a bunch of priests to oppress the people.”
“Jesus never existed.”
“A God of love would never do that.”
“That’s just Paul’s Rabbinic prejudice showing through.”
“Paul took the teachings of Jesus and turned them into something Jesus never intended.”
Etc., etc.

We might ask a question ourselves.  Why DID God give the restriction against the one tree?  There are several reasons.  The main one, I think, was to remind Adam, though he was, in effect, lord of all he surveyed, was to remind him that he was still just a creature, and as such, was to obey his Creator.  This was a very simple restriction, nevertheless.  Some will say that the most important reason was so that Adam could have a choice.  That is also true.  Adam and Eve were the only human beings who ever truly had anything approaching “free will.”  They knew nothing of evil.  They had no sin in themselves, and their wills hadn’t yet been corrupted by the Fall.  If anything, they were disposed toward good, that being all they knew.  Still, God didn’t create robots or puppets.  The final reason for the prohibition was what happened whey they did eat of that tree.

2.  Distortion.

Satan presented God command negatively:  …you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  That’s not at all what God said.  In 1:29, He said to them, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; for you it shall be for food.”  In 2:16, 17, we have more of the conversation, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat; for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

Adam and Eve were given a whole world as their pantry.  Everything was theirs for the enjoying, except one lone tree.  But Satan focused on that one tree, as if that prohibition were the whole conversation.

So, today, people have the idea of Christianity that it’s all about giving up fun and good times.  It’s all dreary church services and long faces.  As one man told me, “God forbids all the things we want to do.”

The Scripture says that God gives us all things richly to enjoy, 1 Timothy 6:17.  The Christian has found that to be so, and that all the things the world enjoys, those “good times”, just last for a while, cf. Hebrews 11:25.  When they are over, they leave in their place only heartache, headache, and life-ache, to say nothing of their eternal consequences.

3.  Deviation – although this was Eve.

She added “touching” to God’s command.  Here was the first legalism – the first “list” of “don’t”.  Some have suggested that this was Adam’s idea.  Who knows?  Perhaps it was just to “protect” God’s Word, to make it less likely to disobey.  Still, it was presumption, as if the Word itself weren’t enough.

4.  Denied.

“You shall not die,…”  A blatant denial of God’s plain statement.

But you can’t just deny God’s Word; you put something in its place, which leads us to

5.  Dismissed.

Satan gave a totally different meaning and message that what God had given.  He said that not only would they not die, but that they would become godlike themselves.  The idea is implicit that they wouldn’t need God, they could decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, what is good or evil.

He neglected to mention that they would become powerless to do good, at least as God defines it, and programmed, as it were, to do only evil – again, as God defines it.

Mankind today, even though it may deny any such being as a devil, has certainly bought into his lie.  Pornography, abortion, marriage equality, immorality of all kinds, violence, bloodshed, the list could go on and on.  Greed and injustice in business.  Political malfeasance on all levels.  Deceit, false advertising – “this product will make you look young and beautiful.”  Why don’t such advertisers use models who aren’t already “young and beautiful”?  Youngsters killing each other.  On and on.  The Bible has pretty much been thrown out, and the devil’s lie put into its place.  With pretty much the same result as the first time it happened.

Because

as much as man denies it,

The wages of sin is death, Romans 3:23.