Book Sale

Monday 31 July 2023

Oppenheimer, A Distasteful Event


Image: Unsplash

The Oppenheimer movie has come at a pretty interesting time. A time where the gloss of the American sheen has well and truly tarnished in the eyes of many. Countless people in the world are victims of the United States financial and pharmaceutical industries and are tired of Hollywood's twisted lecturing and hectoring. That's not even counting the people who are victims of the U.S. war machine that perpetuates war for the profit of their weapons industry. People we should count because they are many and have suffered much. For too long the West has largely ignored how the globalist empire has crushed smaller nations through the United States, but now many people in the West are victims of other American industries.

So, rah rah America is falling flat for more and more people. And a big movie promoting the awesomeness of the United States with the atomic bomb is about the worst PR America can have right now. Especially considering there was never any military reason for dropping the two atomic bombs anyway.

This was known at the time, and Vox Day has shared a fascinating article on his own blog showing how this was discussed in the American media. So you cannot call this liberal revisionism. Japan had sued for peace months before the bombs were dropped because they feared being conquered by Russia. A valid thing to be terrified about. America responded by ignoring their pleas for peace and inflicting further suffering...the era of American dominance of the world had begun.

The first time I heard facts along this line, several years ago, I rejected them. Because they are pretty worldview shattering. But I've learnt so much since then about how our own side committed so many atrocities. And how all out for war many of the western leaders, especially Churchill and Roosevelt, were. They were in the business of dominance. They were in the business of crushing any and all competition as thoroughly as possible. They lusted for war in a way that is thoroughly disturbing.  

America is no longer a power that can get away with doing what it pretty much likes. So many people around the world have been woken up in the post-Trump era to how much of a lie the idea of the “liberal West” is. A lot of people today are far more aware of the injustice of the forever wars, and more and more nations are breaking away from the dominance of Washington. This means that many of the past crimes of the American government are going to be increasingly given new light and new framing. It is terrible to think that the crimes of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were not only whitewashed, but celebrated. And it is going to fall flat for a lot of people in today’s post covid world to see Hollywood and some U.S. elites still celebrating these crimes against humanity.

There was once a time when those of us who did not like these events would say, “well America was forced to do this, because they needed to save lives…” “They had good intentions…” “They were choosing the best option of a bad selection…” But it is becoming increasingly clear that they just wanted what every other world empire wanted: complete dominance, and they were willing to kill innocents to get it, just like many other empires.

There is much to love about America. Much to love. But the constant war machine is not among those things. 

Saturday 29 July 2023

Sydney Shootings Out of Control


Image: Unsplash

I have seen at times on U.S. media how American commentators who are anti-gun often lift up Australia as a model for Americans to consider for anti-gun legislation. But Australia is not the gun free utopia that many leftist Americans might think it is from progressive media influence. As this Guardian report illustrates, 

Canterbury shooting: police say Sydney gun violence out of control after man shot dead in ‘targeted homicide’

A man has died following a targeted shooting in Sydney’s southeast overnight, sparking concern’s the city’s underworld gang war is escalating and retaliatory gun violence is out of control in some areas.

The deputy commissioner of NSW Police, David Hudson, said there had been a concerning increase in tit-for-tat shootings over the past few years and police were doing everything they could to stop it.

“A few years ago, we had a lot of drive-by shootings,” he told 2GB this morning.

Related: High-profile lawyer Mahmoud Abbas shot outside Sydney home in ‘brazen’ attack

“That’s escalated over the last couple of years to actually doing targeted homicides and that is of significant concern to us.”

He said there were varying motivations behind each of the shootings but most had links to organised crime networks and Sydney’s lucrative illicit drug trade.

“Most of the shootings that have occurred have come down to the drug distribution networks within Sydney,” he said.”[1]

Now, don’t get too excited by this article. It is not like many Australians live in fear of shootings. These high rates of gun crime are generally limited to certain areas of the major cities. Sydney is Australia’s largest city and has some very famous precincts which are known for their criminal activities. Though not as often, there are occasionally some high-profile shootings in rural areas as well. However, most Australians will never see a gun brandished in anger and do not live in fear of such an encounter.

But I suspect, contrary to what many Australians think, nor do most Americans live in fear of gun violence. Though I have never been to America, I have friends who have been there, and they had no issues in their wide travels across the nation, and they did not see many Americans living in anxiety and worry. I am sure that gun crime is relatively concentrated in certain areas there as well. Just as it is in Europe. It just happens that America’s population is more than 10 times that of Australia, and because American media is so influential it gives Australians a distorted sense of danger. Though I am sure some cities in the United States really are more of a concern.

But anyway, here is some information for my American friends if you are told by anti-gun Americans that Australia has gotten rid of gun crime. We have not. It is still a big issue in certain parts of our country.  

List of references

The Bold Man of God


I gave a talk recently at an event for a friend, and I was asked to encourage people to speak the truth boldly. So to encourage people I decided to talk to them about one of my favourite heroes of the faith from Church history. Here is an excerpt from the talk that I gave:

“There are so many examples of bold preachers of the word in history. One of the most inspirational men I have ever read about in history was Michael Sattler. He was a Benedictine Monk in the early 1500s, in the time of the Reformation. For those who don’t know what the Reformation is, it was a massive cataclysm in the church in the late medieval era where people started to really challenge the coercive and corrupt nature of parts of the church.

Sattler, along with a few other humble men, was one of the first Christians in history to push for the free church movement. If you choose where you go to church today. If you are free to have a pastor that preaches from the word and not just tradition. If you are a member of a church where the members are all given a say. Then you have Michael Sattler and men like him to thank. He was one of the very earliest Anabaptists.

-        He and his friends believed that Christians should not use violence to coerce the conscience.

-        He and his friends believed the Word of God was the only authority in the church.

-        He and his friends believed that Christians should be free to meet with like-minded believers and choose to be baptized.

-        He and his friends also believed that they should challenge corruption in the church. And he wrote about this. He and other pastors published a famous confession, The Seven Articles and boy did it get a response. Far more than they expected.  

He was for peace, non-violence and for Christians to be free to follow the word according to their conscience, “For these Anabaptists, the true Christian is the person who is transformed from within and obedient to God’s Word. Stated differently, the true Christian is one whose conscience binds them to obey the word of God.”[i]

How do you think they treated him for defending the word of God? That’s right they burnt him at the stake.

He was a highly respected man in his community, known to be of good character, and well-loved because of this. But as soon as he challenged the narrative they cancelled him, in medieval style:

“On the day of execution his tongue was cut out, he was torn seven times with red-hot irons, and eventually burned… On Wednesday Michael’s wife was taken out on the waters of the Neckar. She could not be turned away from her faith by any human grace or words. In great joy and strong faith she accepted and suffered death. God be praised! Thus she was drowned.”[ii]

We actually have his final words recorded and here are some of them:

“Therefore, you servants of God, in case you might not have heard or read the Word of God, would you send for the most learned (men) and for the godly books of the Bible, in whatever they might be, and let them discuss the same with us in the Word of God. If they show us with Holy Scripture that we are in error and wrong, we will gladly retract and recant, and will gladly suffer condemnation and the punishment for our offense. But if we cannot be proved in error, I hope to God that you will repent and let yourselves be taught.”[iii]

He refused to deny the word of God, and he warned his oppressors to repent and trust in God. He stood boldly till the end. If he could face that level of opposition, being brutally tortured to death, what is stopping us from being so bold? This is our legacy in history, the great men who proclaimed the word of God and the women who also stood strong in their own way. This is also our legacy in the Scriptures.”

There are so many great heroes of the faith throughout history. There would be many people who are not aware of this man, just like the people at the event I spoke at. And there are the countless individuals that none of us are aware of, because their names were not recorded. One day we shall get to hear their stories in heaven. It is good to see this legacy of faithfulness in history going back into the times of the Scriptures. May we add to this legacy and inspire many people around us and even some people in the future.


List of References 

[i] Littlefield M and Grant T., Defending Conscience, p25.

[ii] Ibid, p26.

[iii] Ibid, pp26-27.

Thursday 27 July 2023

The Armour of God


Image: Unsplash

I was watching Pilgrim's Progress the animated version recently and I especially loved how they visualised Christian's battle with the dragon. It is entertaining and it drives home how important the armour of God is. Here is a passage from something else I am writing on this topic: 

“To stand a chance in this spiritual war we must wear the armour of God. At the time that I am writing this chapter, I have been reading the Iliad, which recounts the famous battle of Troy. Every time a soldier prepares to go out to battle, he places on his armour so that he will not be defenceless. No matter how skilled the warrior is he does not go to war without his armour, otherwise he is vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. In one of the scenes Homer describes, a warrior throws their spear at the hero, Hector, and it says that the spear hit him straight in the head, where his helmet took the full force of the projectile. This is what good armour does.   

I know many people believe you should pray on the armour every day, and this is good to do. If you do this, don’t let anything I say dissuade you from continuing this practice, because it will reinforce in your life the importance of living as God wants us to live. But I do not think this is Paul’s implication from the passage. Rather every aspect of the armour of God is an aspect of how we should live our Christian lives to frustrate the Devil’s schemes. We should:

Fasten on the belt of truth. If you live in lies you cannot defeat evil, it will consume you. Jesus is The Truth, his people must be people of truth. If you allow yourself to believe lies, if you allow lies of any kind to fester in your life, then you will be easy pickings for the devil, who used lies to bring down the first man and woman with incredible success and ease.

Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Fight hard for righteousness in your own life. We should be motivating ourselves to aim up in personal sanctification. If we allow sin in our lives we give the devil a foothold, as Paul told us before, as Balaam shows us as well. We also need to recognize that true righteousness comes from being found in Christ, and therefore we must lay hold of his righteousness by faith and work out the righteousness he gives us in faithfulness. The confidence we have to live holy lives actually comes from knowing that we have been made holy by him and not by our own efforts. We have been washed clean, we do not need to live in guilt and defeat.  

Be ready with the gospel of peace. The gospel which breaks down the kingdom of darkness and extends the kingdom of Jesus. The gospel message is peace to those who are being saved. But to the enemy it is a terror because it tells him that he has been defeated, he is being defeated, and he will be defeated. Therefore, the people of God can hold their heads up high and walk in godly confidence, because they know that their enemy has been defeated, and the devil is defanged for all who believe. We need to be ready to share this message of freedom from sin in every context that we can.

Hold the shield of faith. The kind of faith which saves us is also the kind of faith that sustains us, not because of what is in us, but because of how it directs us to God and relying on him in truth and in power. Trust God, ask him to work in your life, trust him to protect and surround you with his guardian angels. Believe in him and believe him because doubt can be consuming, it can steal your joy, your confidence, your sense of God given purpose and drive. We need to be people of faith, because our Lord Jesus was a man of faith, and faith is the only way we can take hold of the power of God in our lives.  

Helmet of Salvation. Do not forget how you have been saved and in whom you have been saved. You have been rescued from the power of Satan and brought back under the power of God. Keep coming back to the fact that you are rescued from Satan’s power, he has no more legal right to you, he can no longer accuse you, he has no hold of you. Give him no opportunity.  

Sword of the Spirit. Practice with the sword of the Spirit regularly, knowing that Jesus defeated the Devil with scripture. Too many Christians are poorly versed in the word of God when the Bible is actually their most important weapon for counteracting the attacks of the evil one. The world is full of lies, so washing your mind with the sword of the Spirit is a vital way of counteracting these lies and allowing your faith in God to grow. It will help change how you think, and when you think different you can act different, and when you act different you can reject the ways of this world passed on to you by you forefathers.  

Prayer. If I was asked, what is more important, praying or reading the Bible, I would answer: “Pray the Bible, that is most important.” Pray regularly, Paul says without ceasing. This means always default back to prayer and never give up on it. Because prayer enables you to tap into divine power, that you otherwise could not access. It unleashes blessings in your life and enables you to resist the evil one and his temptations.”  

Christianity has been so successful for so long not because it has contained within it secret techniques that can make you more powerful. But because it is a simple faith that can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, at any time. It is a faith you can take with you to work, to school, to the shops, or on vacation, and on holidays. It does not require mystic abilities or incredible intelligence. It simply requires you to practice the simple and basic disciplines that every faithful believer from its foundation has practiced. And when you don’t get these perfectly right, you can come to the Lord in prayer and repent, and he will forgive you and empower you for a new day.

Christianity succeeds because it is thoroughly reasonable, but it points to something far beyond reason, that we are in a spiritual battle and the more diligent we are to follow the way of our Lord, the better off we will be. Apply the armour of God to your life so that you are not vulnerable to the evil one. We are currently living in his domain and need every advantage that we can get.    


Wednesday 26 July 2023

Death and Christianity


Image: Unsplash

My father-in-law died today, and he was a Christian, but it is still sad and especially hard for my wife and her extended family. But those of us who believe can take comfort in these words,

“50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”[i]

The resurrection of Christ secures all of us who believe a sure hope, a sure salvation and the knowledge that we will be those who believe and with our Lord once again. For this reason we can never despair, even if now we are sad at the loss of those we love. One day we shall gain far more than we could ever lose. 


[i] 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

The Essenes Were MGTOW?


Image: Unsplash

Were the Essenes MGTOW? That is men going their own way*. Look how Josephus describes them,

“2. For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essens. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essens reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence, and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man.”[i]

Of course the actual ideology of MGTOW did not exist in first century Israel. But it is interesting how they did not believe women could ever be faithful just like MGTOW men. This is not the view of the Scriptures, and it is not the reality of this world for many people. This, is the view of MGTOW men today, however, who will often talk about how you cannot find any good women anymore, or ever trust a woman. This is clearly false and a massive over-correction to the ills in our society today. Which have as much to do with men, as women, if not more so with men. 

Josephus even notes that there are some Essenes who recognized how extreme this was and took wives, and sought to live with them in a holy way. Their reasoning? If every man avoids women the human race would die out. Of course, there is never going to be a society where every man rejects women in totality, at least I find this highly unlikely. So what is really going to happen to those that shun women is that they and their ideology will die out, and they will fail to have much impact on the future. Which, praise God, will be the end result of MGTOW. 

Some of the MGTOW ideas might live on after them, but they will not really take great hold in this world, because most men love the company of a good woman. And there are still a lot of really good women, and many men know this. And their ways will outlast those who shun women out of fear. The MGTOW ideology is as bankrupt as the Essene ideology.

It's important to note that just because MGTOW men oppose feminism, and the imbalance in the family courts and many other ills in society, does not make them good. There is nothing the devil would like more than for western men to give up on family altogether. It is the engine of society, it is necessary and good. Which shows that at the end of the day MGTOW is just Satanic ideology as well. MGTOW vs Feminism is Satan vs Satan. Don't choose either side. Choose the right path: good old fashioned Christianity. It rejects both ideologies. 

*edit: MGTOW's are men's right activists that are to men, what feminists are to women.  That is they tend to lay much of the blame for society's ills at women's hands, just as feminists place it at men's hands. 

List of References

[i] Josephus, Flavius. The Wars of the Jews; or the history of the destruction of Jerusalem (p. 156). Kindle Edition.

Monday 24 July 2023

Who Are The Danaans?


Image: Unsplash

If you have read the Iliad you will know that one of the names for the Mycenean Greeks that fought at the battle of Troy is the Danaans. They fought alongside the Argives, which is the other main name with which they are referred to. So, who are the Danaans? Because of the similarity of their name to one of the tribes of Israel in the Bible, I could not help but wonder if there is any connection between them and the Danites of biblical history.

According to Greek mythology the Danaans comes from a man named Danaus who was one of the key leaders of the ancient city of Argos. Encyclopedia Brittanica tells us,

“Danaus, in Greek legend, son of Belus, king of Egypt, and twin brother of Aegyptus. Driven out of Egypt by his brother, he fled with his 50 daughters (the Danaïds) to Argos, where he became king. Soon thereafter the 50 sons of Aegyptus arrived in Argos, and Danaus was forced to consent to their marriage with his daughters. Danaus, however, commanded each daughter to slay her husband on the marriage night. They all obeyed except Hypermestra, who spared Lynceus. Being unable to find suitors for the other daughters, Danaus offered them as prizes in a footrace. (According to another story, Lynceus slew Danaus and his daughters and seized the throne of Argos.) In punishment for their crime the Danaïds in Hades were condemned to the endless task of filling with water a vessel that had no bottom. The murder of the sons of Aegyptus by their wives is thought to represent the drying up of the rivers and springs of Argolis in summer. Lynceus and Hypermestra became the ancestors of the royal line of Argos, which included Perseus and Heracles.”[1]

So, according to Greek legend the Danaans descend from a man who fled from Egypt, to Argos in Greece. What is really fascinating about this is the precise time when he is said to have fled to Argos from Egypt, “Danaus was credited as the inventor of wells and is said to have migrated from Egypt about 1485 B.C. into that part of Greece previously known as Argos Dipsion.”[2] The reason I find this so fascinating is that some scholars argue that the Israelites fled Egypt around 1450 B.C.[3] This corresponds to a people called ‘Dan’ leaving Egypt roughly around the time that the Greeks believe the “Danaans” left Egypt. This would mean that some of the Israelites either went another direction to the rest of the Hebrews from the beginning of the Exodus, or did not stay on the same course as the rest of the Israelites, or left some time after them[4]; which some scholars have suggested about the Danites and appears to be indicated by the plethora of references to Dan in various parts of Europe in the ancient world.

To show this concept is supported by some of the evidence, it is important to mention how archaeologists have uncovered a deep connection between the Danites and the Greeks. Indeed, it appears they were far more intermingled than was previously believed:

“Tribe of Dan: Sons of Israel, or of Greek Mercenaries Hired by Egypt?...

…The discoveries have rekindled a longstanding academic brawl over the origin of the Danites. Were they really just a tribe of Israel that was left in the cold, found a conveniently isolated city and conquered it? Do they have anything to do with a mysterious kingdom called Danuna mentioned in ancient writing found in Turkey? Or maybe with the Denyen – a faction of invading Sea Peoples, according to ancient Egyptian sources? Or with the Danaoi, one of the Greek tribes? Or are these all one and the same? The findings at Tell el-Qadi (now Tel Dan) suggest they could well be…

Among the Aegean influences in the city of Dan, Ilan identified pithoi (large storage vessels) in several of the houses, along with pottery, figurines and ritual items originating in the Aegean, Syria and Egypt…

The finds indicate that the peoples living in Dan were a mixed bunch who brought their eating habits, grooming practices, weapons of choice, and their gods with them to the city.

Cultic chamber with bird bowl…

…Inside the putative sanctuary in Dan were fragments of a ceramic bowl to which a ceramic bird's head was attached, called a “bird bowl”. A similar find was made at Tel Qasile (this is a good point to note that the Philistines who lived there are also thought by some to be of Aegean origin).

Ilan postulates that these Aegean-style artifacts in Dan suggest the presence of worshippers hailing from the Aegean—perhaps the Denyen, Danuna (or Danaoi in Greek), in short, one of the ancient Greek tribes. The Denyen/Danuna were also one of the so-called "Sea Peoples" of Aegean origin who invaded Egypt, as described in Ramesses IIIs mortuary temple relief (1175 B.C.E.).”[5]

This quoted article suggests the possibility that the Danites actually originated in Greece, or that they originated among the Sea Peoples that spread into the land of Canaan during the Bronze Age Collapse. But let me postulate another possibility.

I suggest that the ancient legend of the origin of the Danaans from Egypt is based on some level of truth. So either at the same time that the Hebrews left Egypt, or while they were in the wilderness wandering for those 40 years, a segment of the Danites left the larger body of Israel and migrated through Libya (likely via sea) and then on to Argos and eventually settled in Greece permanently. They intermingled with the Greeks and became a part of the Greeks, but remained in close contact with their Israelite relatives, who they traded with extensively. We know that there was trade between the land of Canaan and the Greeks, because the Bible itself mentions this,

“4 What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will return your payment on your own head swiftly and speedily. 5 For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their own border.”[6]

We also know that prominent Danites intermingled greatly with the Philistines who were also Greek settlers in Canaan, “The most famous Danite in the Bible is Samson, a quite essential archetype of a Greek hero: He is very strong, his power resides in his long hair, he tells riddles and he hangs out with Philistine women,” Ilan points out.”[7] Having read much of the Iliad now, I could imagine one of the Danaan heroes telling a tale of his achievements akin to the life of Samson.  

Of course, having escaped from corrupt kings in Egypt, the Danites would have quite the emphasis on freedom, “When Pausanias visited Argos in the 2nd century CE, he related the succession of Danaus to the throne, judged by the Argives, who "from the earliest times ... have loved freedom and self-government, and they limited to the utmost the authority of their kings":…”[8] The Israelites after the Exodus did not have kings, and they also had a large emphasis on individual liberty in their own nation. It is not inconceivable that this influence went with them to Greece.  

Of course, this being such ancient history, without complete records we cannot be certain. But it is interesting to consider and it is interesting to wonder, just how far did the promise of Abraham go, that he would be the father of many nations? We know about the Israelites and the Arab peoples, but how far beyond this did the fulfilment go? Were the Danaans related to the Danites? Some of the evidence indicates that this may be the case.

List of References


[3], It is true that this date is an estimate, and is debated amongst scholars. But 1446 B.C. lines up with the Bible’s internal chronology, give or take a few years in the counting.

[4] I think this last option is the least likely personally.

[6] Joel 3:4-6.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Let The Yes Campaign Do Their Thing

Image: Unsplash

Sometimes it is best just to let some one make their case, and that is all you need to do to undermine their position. When it comes to the yes campaign for the "Voice to Parliament" all we need to do is just let the 'Yes' campaign make their case and they will turn Aussies off in spades.
Australia has either the highest, or one of the highest, rates in the world of people being born from overseas living together in one nation, most of this is in three or four major cities. And we live pretty peaceably.
But still this is how we get attacked.
Let them amplify their position. It will turn people off:

"Ex-ABC host Kerry O'Brien launches scathing attack on 'racist' Australia and the media over the Voice to Parliament at event with Stan Grant
Former ABC anchor Kerry O'Brien has slammed Australia as a 'racist country' and heavily criticised the media and politicians, as he promoted a Yes vote for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Kerry O'Brien, best known for the 15 years he spent hosting the ABC's 7.30 Report and anchoring its election coverage, on Wednesday evening joined ABC journalist Stan Grant on stage for a City of Sydney event, described as the 'official launch of our campaign to support the Voice'.

The six-time Walkley winner - who published the Voice to Parliament Handbook with Voice architect Thomas Mayo - told a crowd of about 1,000 people that Australia is a 'racist country' with 'racism in our midst'." 

Whatever one thinks about immigration, and I have been very open about my view on this blog, Australians do not think of themselves as racist, but rather as welcoming and accepting of people from all kinds of backgrounds. And to a large degree that is what we are like. So, if the 'Yes' campaigners continue to attack Australians like this, then they are almost certain to fail to get this disastrous referendum up. Which would be better for our country. So, when they act like this amplify what they are saying, if you are against the Voice to Parliament, because this is your most simple way to make your case that the 'Voice to Parliament' is a bad idea. Because a successful yes vote will embolden and increase such attacks. Let them make your case for you. 

Friday 21 July 2023

Way Less Free


Image: Unsplash

Think about this, this was the offer that Israel was made by God: they would get their land, they would all get a share in the land, they would get looked after by God, the best judge in the universe, the most gracious and wise and just being in the universe, full of mercy and grace. All the people had to do was follow his commands and they would be fine.

Now, some people think this was really hard. But Israel’s law only had 613 laws. 613. That’s a light burden. 

In Australia from federation in 1901 to 2012 on average 109 laws were passed every year. From 2013 to 2022 the average was 139. That equals 12,099 laws + 1,251 laws which equals 13,350 laws, and that is just an estimate. And that is just the federal government.  Our country is addicted to making laws, many of which increasingly restrict our freedom.

This highlights an often forgotten point; the Israelites were far more blessed and free than we could probably ever imagine in our society, where there are laws for almost everything.

Israel had the chance to be ruled solely by the good God, through his priests and judges, but instead they chose, “a king to judge us like all the nations.” They wanted a fallen human king instead.

When you consider this, we really are far less free than we think.

Thursday 20 July 2023

Jonah's Prayer of Faith


Jonah Sermon 2. Jonah’s Prayer Of Faith

You can watch this sermon here.


Last week we started our new mini-series on the book of Jonah with a message titled Broken Instruments. This is such a powerful little book. I think if you spoke to even many non-Christians, they would have some recollection of Jonah and the fish, or as many people remember it, Jonah and the whale. In fact, it is such a well-known story that it is even recounted in the writings of other religions, for example, even the Koran recounts the event. That is how famous this account is.

Last week we noted that God was doing something for Jonah, for the Israelites, for the Ninevehites, and for us. Jonah showed us how God worked through a broken man, from a broken nation, to reach an even more sinful and wicked nation, that did not deserve to be saved. We also saw that God specializes in using broken instruments. People who are imperfect, because when it comes to us fallen human beings, that is all that God has to work with.

I suppose he could just wipe humanity out and start again. Or he could create perfect human beings from scratch with no sinful flesh to do his will. But he has chosen not to work that way. He has great compassion for the people of this world, and has chosen, in his infinite grace and goodness to work with us, even though we don’t deserve it.

And this morning we are going to continue with this theme and expand on it. Because firstly, I think this is the overarching theme of the book of Jonah, that God has great and compassionate mercy for sinners. Secondly this is the theme of this chapter, because we are going to read about Jonah’s own response to his salvation from the fish.

So, let’s see what God has to teach us from this little passage about Jonah’s Prayer of faith, and then we will see how this applies to us today. But first, I want to take us to the book of Zechariah, because there is something there that helps give us some insight into Jonah’s tribulation.

A Consistent Theme – Our theme for the message last week was “Broken Instruments” and it is an important one for us to really focus on, because as I said last week, we can over-spiritualize the heroes of the Bible and miss that they are not superhumans who get everything right, they are there to show us that God works through ordinary people like you and me. God wants us to lift our game, for sure. But he specializes in turning sinners into men and women of God. He used a prostitute, called Rahab, to save the spies in the land of Canaan, he used a murderer, called Moses, to redeem his people from slavery, he gave a sexually immoral man, called Samson, his strength back so he could defeat the Philistines. This is a consistent theme in the Scriptures. Understanding this helps us understand Jonah better. So, in light of this, I want to show you something in Zechariah, because I think it might help us with this passage in Jonah, Zechariah 3:1-10,

“1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. 6 And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

Let’s reflect on a few things from this passage, and then we can come back to Jonah chapter 2 and make some observations there as well.

A Man Accused – Firstly, who is Joshua? He is the high priest of the Israelites. The nation of Israel went through several different phases. First it was led by Prophet/Judges in the era of Moses to Samuel, then it was led by Kings in the era from Saul to Zedekiah, that’s the era in which Jonah lived, and then after the exile it was led by the priests like Joshua the son of Jehozadak and others, and foreign governors. Joshua is one of those leaders, and here he stands accused, before God and Satan, Joshua 3:1,3 - “1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him…3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.”

Joshua is pictured here in this vision as standing before the angel of the Lord, and he stands accused by Satan. It might not seem like a big deal to have the enemy accuse you, but though evil likes to lie, when it can use the truth against you, it will do it with glee. Remember Satan means “accuser”. And like any good prosecutor he can use your own record against you.

Whoever you are as a Christian you can feel the weight of these accusations at times. The devil still seeks to accuse, even though he has no legal right to do so. He loves to whisper things which will defeat us if we listen.  

God’s defense - So how does God defend this man from Satan. Does he say the devil is wrong? No, he says this,

“2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand[e] plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

What does God do? He acknowledges that the devil is speaking the truth about Joshua. Joshua’s record is not clean, his “garments are filthy”. But instead of condemning him, he rebukes the devil and tells the angel to dress Joshua in white.

The only way that any man or woman can survive the accusations of the devil, is to be clothed white by the Lord. Those whom God calls into service for him at any level will often hear the whisper of the evil one that they are not worthy. And what is your only response to that?

Yes that is true, but God has made me clean! Joshua was not made righteous in his own right, but by the grace of God. As the Lord says, “And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” God knows that Joshua is not righteous in his own right. So, God makes him new in his sight, so he can perform his role.

Then God encourages him to live up to his calling, walk in his ways and to keep the charge of the Lord. But the fact that he needed to be made clean shows he had already fallen short. Like Jonah he was a broken instrument. But then God points Joshua forward to a future day when something great will happen, “9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.”

God points Joshua to the day when the sin of the land will be swept away, in one day. We call that day Good Friday, or Easter Friday. It is the true Passover, the only Passover that counts. When God took care of our sins in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  

In fact, Joshua and his fellow leaders will serve as a sign that God will bring his “servant the Branch.” Joshua points to The Joshua, remember Jesus is just Greek for Joshua, who will come and save this people. The righteous branch. There is always hope in the prophets. There is always hope.  

Nowhere here is God denying Joshua’s sin, nowhere here is God pretending Joshua is worthy of this role as high priest in his own right. All the priests had to make sacrifices for their own sins. God is simply showing that he makes his servants righteous, he makes us worthy based on him, and his work. And I think this gives us some powerful insight into our passage from Jonah this morning, so let’s turn to Jonah 2 now.

Jonah An Accused Man (1:17-2:5) – Jonah was also an accused man and we get some real insight into what he was thinking while he was in this “appointed fish”. It’s important to note that this is simply a summary of his thoughts while he was in the bowels of hell. This prayer reads just like a Psalm. Let’s see what he says,

“17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head…”

We spoke a little bit about Jonah being swallowed by the fish last week, and all I really noted about it is that we should not seek to try and explain it in normal terms. This was no normal fish, this was a fish God had appointed for this task. We noted that God was doing something for Jonah, for Israel, for Nineveh and for us. But we shouldn’t just gloss over this situation. We should stop and think about what Jonah actually went through.

Imagine what it was like to be in the belly of that fish, knowing full well, that you were there, because you disobeyed your Lord, and you are under just punishment and judgement. Imagine the horror. Can you imagine how dark Jonah’s mind would have gotten while he was in that fish? Can you imagine the accusations that Satan would have been whispering in his ear? Can you imagine the self-accusations he would have been under?

Stuff like this: “Jonah, you rebelled against the Lord, look at you now.” “Jonah, you are such a loser.” “Jonah, you are literally fish food, this is how you will die.” “Jonah, you deserve this, you are wearing filthy clothes”…which while he was in the fish, was both a literal and a metaphorical accusation. “Jonah, you are a failure.” “Jonah, you deserted your God.” “Jonah, you are not fit to be a prophet.”

Thoughts of anguish would have coursed through his mind again and again and again. It would have been torment. I can only imagine how dark his mind got, though we do have some indication in his own prayer.

We know he was in “distress” how could he not be. We know he felt as if he was in the “grave”, because that is what “Sheol” means. Or as the KJV says, “out of the belly of Hell cried I”. He literally felt like he was in hell, the grave, hades, Sheol. How could you not? This is a dark place to be.

The believer in distress will often feel like they deserve hell or they are in hell. They might even be experiencing hardship that feels like hell. Because, as we saw with Joshua the high priest, the accusation that we are filthy in the sight of God is true. Especially when our life is falling apart, because we ran away from the call of God. It is especially crushing and disheartening for us when our disastrous situation is of our own making. And Jonah was in this situation of his own making.

Jonah got his wish - What is also terribly ironic in this passage is that Jonah in some sense got his wish. He says in verses 3-4, “3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight;…” Remember, why did Jonah run? “3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”

He wanted to flee from God’s presence, well there is no sense of God’s presence in hell, is there? 2 Thessalonians 1:9, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,…” Be careful what you ask for.

So, here was a man who was in the belly of hell, almost literally, and he stood accused. Can you imagine what impact the accuser, Satan, was having on his mind? How he was messing with him in this deep and dark place?

Have you ever been in the depths of despair, or in anguish over your sin, or felt lost in your walk with God, and the devil has swooped in to attack? If you have not, and you live long enough such a day will likely come. So, what should you do?

Turn to Hope (vv.6-9) – Turn to hope like Jonah did,

“6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

No one had more reason to give up than Jonah did. Some had equal reason. Joseph had equal reason to give up when he was in the Egyptian prison. Daniel had equal reason to give up when he was the lion’s den. Samson had equal reason to give up when he was blind and in chains and being made a mockery of.

But none of them had more reason than Jonah. All their situations were pretty hopeless. Except for one thing: hope in God has a supernatural source. All of these men, and many women just like them, have overcome hopeless situations by refusing to give up hope, even when all hope seemed hopeless.

What did Jonah do, when he felt the utmost of despair? This, “7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.” He did what we can sometimes forget to do, he turned to the Lord in prayer and he sought him. Not only this, but he based his prayers in the bowels of hell on the Psalms. I noted before that Jonah’s prayer reads like Psalm, because it is one, but it also rehashes a lot of lines from different Psalms.

He Turned to the Psalms – This is a point that I don’t want to gloss over, that in the midst of his trial and distress, Jonah prayed the Psalms. We did a series on this earlier in the year, but here is an example of it from the Bible itself. Look at these references:

The beginning of Jonah 2:2, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me;” is equivalent to the beginning of Psalm 120:1 – “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. The only difference here is the words are in a different order.

Jonah 2:3, “For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.” Is saying much the same thing as Psalm 42:7 – “7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me” (KJV).  

The beginning of Jonah 2:4 “4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight” is equivalent to Psalm 31:22 – “22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.”

You can keep going through the Psalm and see that in so many of the lines of this prayer, Jonah is quoting or rephrasing his prayer from various different Psalms. Right up to verse 9 which quotes Psalm 3:8, “salvation belongs to the Lord.” Jonah is praying the Psalms, from memory, and he likely chose to write down some examples of this when he wrote this summary of his prayer. He wrote is own Psalm, forged from his experience in the bowels of hell.  

Think seriously about this. When you are put under pressure, what is inside of you will come out of you. When you are in despair do you pray the Psalms? Do you praise God?

Maybe you don’t pray the Psalms, maybe you sing your favourite worship songs to yourself. This is good too. Note, our worship songs are not Scripture, and therefore they are not the exact same thing, but don’t forget that the Psalms were the worship songs of the temple of the Lord.

It is good to have songs of praise on our minds.

The Israelites were not focused on singing the latest music all the time, though they would have written new Psalms. They were focused on singing the same solid truths again and again and again, so that these truths buried deep into their souls, so that when they were under pressure, they could write a Psalm like Jonah’s here, and it reflected the word of God.

Get the word of God into your soul, by memorizing it, pray the psalms and make them part of your walk with God, sing good solid worship songs, and when you are under pressure, just like Jonah, you will overflow with praise for God, and you will likely expect him to do something good.

And God did do something good for Jonah, “10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.”

Application – So how do we apply this sermon?

The brutal and hopeful book. Recognize that there is no book in the world which is more pessimistic about humanity and human nature than the Bible. And there is also no book in the world that is more hopeful for the destiny of humanity, by virtue of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

The Bible is honest in its brutal takedown of human nature. And if you trust in its words, it will also fill you with a hope that nothing else can, and nothing else can take away.

Be careful what you ask for, God might grant it - Jonah wanted to flee from the presence of the Lord, so God sent him into the depths of the ocean.

Meditate on the Psalms Regularly – Make yourself familiar with the Psalms. Sings Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, fill your mind with the truths of God, and you will be better prepared for hard times, and personal struggles.

Conclusion – God was good to Jonah. Jonah did not deserve grace, but then again, none of us do. We all deserve wrath, but we get grace and mercy if we turn to our Lord. Learn to pray like Jonah when you are caught in the consequences of your sins. Learn to turn to God when the devil seeks to attack you and accuse you. And never, ever, ever, lose hope. Let’s pray.