Book Sale

Friday 31 May 2024

King As Evangelist


Imagine what a blessing it is to a nation, and its people, to have a king like this:

“It happened quite the contrary with one in the province of the Mercians, whose visions and words, and also his behavior, were neither advantageous to others nor to himself. In the reign of Coenred, who succeeded Ethelred, there was a layman in a military employment, no less acceptable to the king for his worldly industry, than displeasing to him for his private neglect of himself. The king often admonished him to confess and amend, and to forsake his wicked courses, before he should lose all time for repentance and amendment by a sudden death.[1]

People wonder why there is still so much trust among the population for the ruling classes, despite everything we have learned about how they are bought and paid for by various interests. Well the answer is simple. It is because we are descended from a long line of people who had good, not perfect, but good and decent rulers that actually took care for the things of God, and for their nations.

Here we have Bede writing this account of a king, Coenred, who was concerned for the soul of one of his military men. This man was highly regarded by the king because of his work ethic and abilities, but this king did not like how this soldier acted in his private time. So, he warned him and exhorted him continually to repent and turn to the Lord, before it was too late.

Imagine how different our nation would be, if our government leaders cared for the souls of their civil and military servicemen, more than they cared about their own advancement, wealth and privilege? Imagine the blessing this would bring on the nation. It was a culture like this that caused the western nations to advance beyond the rest of the world. China was more advanced militarily and in knowledge at this point in history. But it didn’t have godly kings like this, that were turning small backwater kingdoms at the edge of the civilized world, into the foundations for great societies.

You have to be a modern supremacist to think that we have advanced in every way, we truly have not.

List of References

[1] The Venerable Bede. The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (pp. 158-159). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.

Thursday 30 May 2024

Reading Comprehension, Indoctrination and Israel Part 2 - Replenishment Theology


Replenishment Theology

I had not intended this to be a multi-part series, however I was reflecting on a passage today which teaches that Israel and the Church are the same thing, and I thought I might as well turn this into another piece.

One of the mistakes the Judaizers, that is those who say you have to be circumcised and convert your ethnicity to join Israel, make is they deny one of the blessed promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ when they say that the Church is not Israel. Some make the mistake of thinking that we who identify the Church as Israel teach replacement theology or something like this. But nothing could be further from the truth. The message is not that the Gentiles replace Jews to become the people of God. The message is, and always has been all the way through the Bible, that unbelievers are replaced with believers, fruitless branches are replaced with fruit bearing branches, dead olive branches are replaced with new, living, olive branches.

This is why all of the generation that came out of Egypt was removed from Israel, by dying in the wilderness, but Rahab, Ruth, and Obed-Edom, all of whom were not Israelites by birth, can be accounted as part of Israel. In fact, not only as part of Israel, but Rahab the Canaanite and Ruth the Moabite, are accounted in the lineage of the Messiah himself (Matt. 1). Israel has always been a tree that replenishes itself, under the good stewardship of the gardener, or vine dresser (Isaiah 5:1-5, John 15:1-6). This is why there were only just over seven thousand true Israelites in Israel the days of Elijah, because not all Israel is Israel, only the branches which are connected to the trunk, the Lord, revealed as Jesus, the Son of God, in the New Testament (Rom. 11:1-5), are true Israel. Only true believers are true Israel, to put it more simply. This has always been the case with God's people. 

What the work of Jesus did was not create a new and second people of God, but simply made a new way for people to become part of Israel. No longer do you need to be circumcised and submit to the law, you simply need to trust in Christ. Paul outlines how one of the hopes and gifts of the gospel is full-fledged citizenship in the commonwealth of Israel,

“11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:11-22).

This passage is like a anvil and hammer which smashes any assertion that true Israel is a physical nation centred around a place in Canaan, rather than a spiritual entity based around the Lord Jesus Christ. What Paul says here is very simple: once you were not citizens of Israel, but now in Christ Jesus you are.

“11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (vv.11-12).

Before our salvation, we Gentiles were:

1.     Separated from Christ,

2.     Alienated from Israel,

3.     Strangers to the covenants of promise,

4.     Having no hope and without God.

Now that we are saved we not separated from God and have full citizenship in his people.  

Salvation does not exist outside of Israel. Because Israel is the covenant people of God (remember Jesus is God), the believers in the covenants of promise, and those who have the hope of being saved by God. Before our salvation we Gentiles were excluded from Israel, and if you wanted to join you had to become Jewish first. 

But now we are “are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” Once we were not citizens of Israel, but now, through Christ, we have become full-fledged members of the household of God. The household of God is another name for the people of God. We were once not citizens of the people of God, now we are. We were alienated from Israel, but now we are full-fledged citizens with the saints. And this household is build, “…on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (vv. 20-21).

I find it hard to understand why someone could miss this. But it makes a lot of sense when you understand that 1) people have been indoctrinated, and 2) indoctrination can override basic comprehension. Paul switches from talking about citizens of Israel to citizens of the “household of God,” these are different words right, so they must be different things? Those who are taught that the Church and Israel are different things will latch onto this difference in the passage. But are they different things? No, they are different names for the same thing; the people of God. The word citizen is what connects the ideas. We once were not citizens of Israel, but now we are through Christ. We have not replaced Israel, we have been blessed with the gift of citizenship in the chosen people of God.

What Paul says in verses 11-18 shows how God achieves this for us,

“14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:14-18).

These verses show what it is that God has done with Israel and Gentiles. He has made a way in him for them to become one people in him by faith. Israel is now no longer a nation based on ethnic identity, it is a nation based on faith in Christ, a spiritual nation, with a spiritual citizenship, spiritual Israel. What Jesus has done has changed the nature of Israel, he hasn't replaced it. God has taken the two who were separated, Jew and Gentile, and made them one in him,

“14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

"One new man in the place of the two..."

What was two is now one. He does not say that Gentiles have now replaced Jews, he says that Gentiles and Jews have been brought together in one body. Call this people Israel, call it the church, call it the city of Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22-24, Rev. 21:9-14), call it the bride, call it the vine, call it the olive tree, call it the flock, call it the sheepfold, call it household of God, whatever you call it, it is one body in Christ.

Replacement theology is a slur. There are some people who assert it as a fact on the basis of some parables of Jesus that say God will replace the rebellious tenants of his vineyard with better tenants (cf. Matt. 21:33-46). But God is not replacing Jews with Gentiles here, he is replacing non-believers with believers, he is replenishing the tree because he only wants branches that bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Jesus tells us this, 

"43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them" (Matt. 21:43-45). 

It is clear Jesus is teaching here how the leadership of his people will be taken from the dead branches of the Pharisees and replaced with the fruitful branches of his disciples.  

Those who say the Church is not Israel are denying one of the great promises of God to all who believe in him: that they are granted full citizenship in the Israel of God, the people of God, God’s treasured possession. The tree is Israel, we have been grafted in, never let anyone deny you your re-birthright. It is yours in Christ Jesus, no matter your ethnicity.   

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Reading Comprehension, Indoctrination and Israel


Do you remember in high school, maybe as late as grade 10, when we had to do these rather silly comprehension tests in class. How many of us saw them as a little degrading, because they were so basic? You would be given this short paragraph, maybe written in the form of a newspaper article, or a chapter from a textbook, and it would describe something that had happened. Maybe it was describing how a government was planning to build a dam, or it was telling some kind of news story about an event that happened, or just some other basic account written by someone. And you would be asked to read this and then answer some questions on the page below about what you had just read. How many of you thought, “Why are we being asked to read this? It is so basic what this is saying. This is high school, not 5th grade.”

Perhaps, however, those comprehension tests were more necessary than we thought? Because there are some basic and fundamental themes in the Scriptures pertaining to who God’s people are that many people do not seem to understand still. 

To be fair, this is also a result of indoctrination. Some people have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with a particular belief, that they cannot see how large parts of the Bible not only do not support their favoured doctrine but clearly contradict it. They have been trained to read the Bible through a lens, and that lens is powerful. When someone is emotionally invested in that lens it is almost impossible to break through by simply making an argument. Which is part of why I introduced my piece the way I did, some people might find this introduction a bit insulting or even arrogant, which is good, now you are a little bit angry, emotional or offended, and this might help break through the programming; possibly at least. Sometimes you have to get people emotional for them to be open to listening.

One of those passages which is key to understanding the Bible is Genesis 16. If you miss what this passage is saying, a lot of the rest of the Scriptures will be confusing to you. Or more accurately, you will confuse much of what the rest of the Bible says about the nature of God’s people. It is not an accident that the Apostle Paul harkens back to this passage in his own writings to outline the difference between being of the people of God and not of the people of God. Let’s have a look at it and examine why this is the case.  

We see this happen at the start of the passage, Sarai gives her servant girl to her husband Abram to be his wife,

“1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.”

The first thing this passage teaches us is that the lineage of God’s people will not come about by the flesh. Another way to put this is that Abram cannot fulfil the promises of God through the flesh. All this achieves is to cause him and Sarai trouble.

Many Christians want to criticize Abram here for sinning by laying with this other woman. But what he did was not a sin in the Old Covenant era. He did not just have sex with this woman, it says she became his wife. The Old Testament permitted polygamy, even if it was never the ideal. That is not the error that he and Sarai made.

The error they made was thinking they could fulfil God’s promise through the flesh. God had already promised Abram that he would be a great nation (Gen. 12:1-3), with lots of descendants (Gen. 13). God told him he was going to have more descendants than he could count (Gen. 15:1-6). Abraham and Sarah probably thought that they had permission to fulfill this promise by their own means. The error Abraham made was listening to his wife instead of trusting the promises of God, the same error that Adam made. Man cannot fulfil the promise of God, only God can.

But the child they were going to receive was not going to be of the flesh, but of the promise. This passage is teaching us that it is not the children of the flesh which count in God’s economy, it is the children of the promise. All seeking to fulfil the promise through the flesh did was bring contention, and division in the household, and as a result Hagar is kicked out.

Next we read this,

“7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone's hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

The second thing we see here is that in some way God even cares for the children of the flesh. They are not the covenant people, but they are not outside his blessing. Doesn’t Jesus tell us that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust? What this is showing us is that very early on God has an intention to bless the Gentiles, to bless the nations. He promised in Genesis 12 that through Abram the nations would be blessed, and in this passage we see the beginning of the nation of the Ishmaelites and that God is blessing these people.

So, we have here two foundational truths now: First, it is about the children of the promise, not the children of the flesh. Second, God is going to bless the Gentiles nations as well, because he has a heart for people born outside of the line of promise.

Lastly, we see this,

“13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.”

We see here that God cared for Hagar and Hagar called out to the living God and was saved from death by him. Hagar is outside the line of the covenant people, Paul is going to show this in Galatians. Though she is not in the line of the covenant people, God still had mercy on her, saved her, and she called upon the name of the Lord as a result and praised him. 

The covenant people may think there is something special about them because they are the covenant people and let this go to their heads. But they should not forget that the covenant people exist to bless the people of this world. Hagar is blessed because she is connected to Abram. How many women were kicked out of homes just like her in this era? The number is outside our ability to know, but we know it would have been high. This kind of human jealously between women in harems is well documented and understood. But Hagar, by virtue of being in proximity to Abram, is blessed.

So, this passage gives us three of our big themes of scripture. In fact foundational themes:

1.     Salvation and blessing is about the promise of God and faith, not the flesh. Or to put it another way, you cannot fulfil the promises of God through the flesh.

2.     God cares for the Gentiles.

3.     The Gentiles are blessed by the covenant God made with Abraham.

If you miss this, you will make the mistake of the Pharisees and end up in the error that God’s blessing carries on through Abraham’s descendants because of their flesh. But this is not the case. It carries on through his descendants through their being in the covenant of blessing. It has nothing to do with the flesh, and everything to do with faith and trust in God and his promises. Those who trust God are in the covenant blessings, those who do not are under a curse, no matter their genetics.

Which is why Paul says in his day that Jerusalem, the capital city of those descended from Abraham and who claim to be his people, is represented by Hagar:

“21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than those of the one who has a husband.”

28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman” (Gal. 4:21-31).

In Genesis 16 Hagar and the child of the flesh are outside the covenant. Whereas, the future child of promise, Isaac, is in the covenant. The flesh, or being physically descended from Abraham, counts for nothing when it comes to being considered God’s people. You can be living in Jerusalem, and be physically descended from Abraham, but if you do not believe in Jesus, the ultimate child of promise, you are outside the covenant people, you are not of the Israel of God. Only those who trust in the promise by faith are in the people of God.

The capital city of the Church is Jerusalem, Zion, the city of God. But it is not the city in the land of Canaan, that is a city of spiritual slavery. It is the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of freedom. Paul bases this teaching on passages like Genesis 16. Which lay out these foundational truths: only the child of promise counts as being part of God's people, not the child of the flesh, and the responsibility of the child of promise is to reach the unsaved. The unsaved are those who think the flesh is all that counts. They must be taught it is only faith in the promises of God that counts and makes you his people.

If you understand this basic teaching from all the way back in Genesis you can say with John the Baptist, who knew this before the gospel of Jesus was fully explained by the Apostles, this:

“7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham” (Matt. 3:7-9).

The flesh counts for nothing when it comes to being the people of God. Only the promise, only faith. All who trust in the Lord are in Israel, all who do not are not. This has been true since the days of Abram, before he was even called Abraham, “father of many”. As the children’s song says, “Many sons, had father Abraham. Many sons had father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord.” Only those who trust in Christ are accounted among the people of God, Israel. This is among one of the most basic and consistent teachings in Scripture, but many deny it. Those who do make the error of the Pharisees. They mistake what it means to be children of Abraham. 


Saturday 25 May 2024

The Key to Understanding Babylon in Revelation?


I do not think it is possible to answer every question about the book of Revelation, but some things are much easier to see than others. The key to getting fruitful interpretations out of the book of Revelation, compared to fruitless ones, is to interpret the book through the Old Testament passages that John’s writing is harkening back to. Yes, he wrote the visions he saw, and those visions consist of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God, and fully represented in the Old Testament, as well as the New. So, the key to understanding what these passages are saying is by comparing Scripture to Scripture.  

Notice this passage from Zechariah 5, and how it informs our understanding of the woman, Babylon, in Revelation.

“1 Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! And he said to me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.” Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side. I will send it out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.”

A Vision of a Woman in a Basket

Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.” And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.” And behold, the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket! And he said, “This is Wickedness.” And he thrust her back into the basket, and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening.

Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. 10 Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” 11 He said to me, “To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it. And when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base” (Zechariah 5:1-11).

An angel here explains to Zechariah that all of the evil in the land (of Israel) is in this basket and is here represented by a woman. Elsewhere evil is represented by a man, like in 2 Thessalonians 2, or Revelation 13, but here it is represented by a woman. God is going to take the evil of Israel and build a house for it in the land of Shinar, which is Babylon.

Why is this interesting? Because in Revelation 17 we read this, 

“1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” 6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:1-6).

This woman had gone from Israel and grown as a force in Babylon, becoming powerful, wealthy and treated like royalty. A force that is now called “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” A force that is drunk with the blood of the saints and witnesses of Jesus. A force that is at work still in Babylon in the days of John and a force which was against the Church and its Lord Jesus Christ.

There are many ways to identify this force. But one way is to see where the Bible says it originated. Where did it originate? Among the sins of the land of Israel. What is even more interesting is that Ezekiel 16:1-3 God directly ties Israel with Babylon, he says there, “16 Again the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, 3 and say, Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.” “Your father was an Amorite…” This is a reference to Abraham, who came from the land of the Chaldees and was an Aramean, Arameans were a subgroup of the Amorites. The first empire of Babylon was founded by Hammurabi the Amorite, it was an Amorite kingdom and power. So here we have another direct link of Israel with Babylon. The Israelites were descended from a man who came out of Babylon, “Ur of the Chaldees” (Gen. 11:28).

Now, this is not conclusive of course, much more could be said, and much more would need to be examined. But here we have a situation where there are two direct links with Israel and Babylon. One from Israel’s origins, and the other from the woman in Zechariah chapter 5 to the woman named Babylon the Great in Revelation 17. Now follow these threads. Look into the text and see if there are any other connections in scripture which point to the identity of Babylon in Revelation being associated with Apostate Israel. You might find it fascinating what you find. But the key to understanding this passage is in comparing what John says about the whore, Babylon, to how the Old Testament identifies the whore, or unfaithful bride. Who was the unfaithful bride in the Old Testament? The answer is obvious.

Friday 24 May 2024

Signs Was Smarter Than We Thought


Dave Cullen has shared an interesting alternative theory on the 2002 movie Signs starring Mel Gibson and Jaquin Phoenix, by M. Night Shyamalan on his youtube channel. I always liked this movie, I thought it was interesting, and that the twist about the water wasn’t that bad. I do remember them making fun of it in an episode of Stargate SG-1, “Why would aliens who are allergic to water invade a planet that is 70% water?” But I always liked the way that Shyamalan explored spiritual themes in his early movies and thought this was one of his better ones. The water twist didn’t diminish the other clever aspects of his story.

It was not one of my favourite movies, but I could never understand why so many people hated it so much.  

But the alternative theory proposed by Cullen in this video might explain why. If he is correct, and I think there are good reasons to suspect that he is, then this movie might reveal more about the spiritual realities of our world than is supposed to be revealed. And some people will not like that. The creators of the shows Stargate SG-1 were clearly dedicated to pushing the old Chariots of the gods theory that demonic, angelic and divine beings in history were really visitations of aliens to this world, and it is clear that much of our culture wants to suppress some spiritual truths about the world in which we live. Evil, non-human beings, are already amongst us.

Rather than facing existential threats from space invading aliens, or things like climate change, the most seious threat we face as human beings is from spiritual evil. To be fair you could describe some of these spiritual beings as “extraterrestrial” in some sense of the word. But they are not your classic aliens. This is not a threat that comes from “out there somewhere”, but a threat that is real, immanent and can only be fought with spiritual weapons. I don’t want to give away too much of the video, watch it yourself. It shows that the movie Signs was smarter than we thought.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Siding With The World


I find it interesting that the final two kings of Byzantium were Catholics, not Orthodox. They had always been Orthodox before this, at least as far back as there was a distinction. But what is even more interesting is how many of the church leaders, and people of Constantinople and the surrounding provinces rebelled against these Catholic leaders, and even sided with the Turks in trying to turn over their rule. They actively cried out that they would prefer the yoke of the Muslims to that of the Catholics. This was in the 15th century, about seventy to a hundred years before the Reformation took off.

It is very likely Constantinople would have fallen to Islam eventually anyway, because Byzantium was quickly becoming an unimportant city to the Christian powers of Europe. But it was not guaranteed. The Islamic world had its own issues, was not unified in this era, and faced attacks from various other forces in its region as well. However, this division, and this siding of the Orthodox people in Byzantium with the Turkish Islamic invaders, in multiple ways guaranteed this fall.

As Oman notes about their attitude: "The opinion of the majority of the Greeks was summed up in the exclamation of the Grand-Duke John Notaras—“Better the turban of the Turk in Constantinople than the Pope's Tiara.”[1] It is incredible to think about, but this was the sentiment among many of the Byzantines in this era.

I am not so silly as to say there should not be divisions in the church. There should be, Paul himself says this in 1 Corinthians 11[2]. How else can there be separation from the true and false? But there are those kinds of divisions which are so stupid as to only be seen as the result of the church coming under the judgement of God. The Byzantines choosing the Turks over the Catholics was choosing the worst possible choice for Christianity in Greece, as history has now proven. God must have been giving them over to their foolishness.

I cannot help but see a similar stupid division today in those Christian leaders who choose to side with the secular godless culture, and multiculturalism, over their Christian brethren who call for Christian Nationalism. Of course there are disagreements among the church, there always have been and always will be in this world. But large segments of the Church leadership are siding with the very forces that want to expunge Christianity from society, even if just slowly and methodically through propaganda in education, media and the arts. The church leaders who should be siding with their brethren instead turn against them because of some fear of a resurgent Christianity which might change the order they are used to, while siding with an order that has slowly been poisoning the church already. The inevitable result of this is obvious to anyone with eyes to see.

History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes.

List of References

[1] Oman, Charles. The History of the Byzantine Empire: From Its Glory to Its Downfall (p. 165). e-artnow. Kindle Edition. See less

[2] 1 Corinthians 11:19.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

The Gospel of Jesus Cancels Out Patriarchy?


Ok. Let's evaluate this statement here in this image.

Firstly, I don't know any Christians who do not define human beings, all human beings, in relation to being created in the image of God. None. I have never heard any Christian not have this as their first principle of humanity. I think it is strange that someone would even suggest that some Christians don't have this as their most basic understanding of humanity.

Secondly, does an understanding of the gospel of Jesus contradict Patriarchy? I don't even know how someone could be biblically literate and think that. If we just stick with the theme of creation in relation to the gospel of Jesus, this is what we find:

Genesis 2:18-25,  

"18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[h] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,

because she was taken out of Man.”


24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."

 Jesus quoted this passage in Matthew 19, showing in the gospels that he based his understanding of marriage on this passage. This passages teaches that woman was made to be man's best companion. The creation account tells us that woman was created for he relationship with man. This is something the Apostle Paul himself builds off.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:8-12,

"8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God."

Did Paul not understand the gospel of Jesus? He defaults to explicitly patriarchal teaching here. He goes right back to creation to define men and women in relation to each other and God. Which is the Biblically faithful way to define humanity. We were not created to be individuals alone but live in families, or communities. Men and women were created to be paired off. There will be some people who are never married for a variety of reasons, some because of calling, like Paul himself, and others because of the tragedies of this world. But overall man and woman were created to be married together. And Paul says explicitly that, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man…” So, rage against the Bible all you want it teaches patriarchy.

Paul again says in 1 Timothy 2:12-15,

"12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control."

Again, Paul bases his argument on gender roles here not in culture, not in pragmatism, not in a unique situation in Ephesus (though many false teachers assert this) but in creation. He explicitly bases it in creation, "13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor." Paul bases his argument for why men should be the teachers in the church on the created order. He harkens back to Genesis 2 and 3 in this passage, arguably even Genesis 1, as that passage also mentions the man before the woman.

Here we have three passages, all harkening to creation, showing woman's creation in relation to man. This is the word of God, the quote in the picture is simply setting Genesis 1 against Genesis 2. Because modern audiences do not like what these other passages teach, and are desperate to shed them.

What does it mean to be created in God's image? To represent him. And the only way to truly represent him is to fulfil his will, and gender roles come into this, they are not extra. It is an understanding of what the Bible says about the created order for men and women that drives patriarchy, requires it, and praise God we see it resurging.

Just to define it, let me conclude by noting what Peter says. In 1 Peter 3 were read this,

“5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:5-7).

Here we have the basic break down of Christian patriarchy in the home. First, God the father is the true patriarch, this should not need to be said, but it does. Second, we see that Peter says a woman should call her husband “Kurios” which can be variously translated as “lord” (small ‘l’), "master" or "sir". Either way you translate it, it tells us that the wife should defer to her husband. Third, we see that the man should live with his wife in a considerate way because the woman is a weaker vessel. This speaks to her physical weakness compared to the man, but the word translated “vessel” can refer to a fine vase, or house ornament. So, Peter is saying that the men must honour and treasure his wife and treat her will delicacy, because she is more fragile. Here we have a quick summary of benevolent, or Christian, patriarchy. God is king of the home, and the man is to lead his wife in honour of this, and the wife is to likewise listen to her husband and defer to him. 

So, those who say that patriarchy contradicts the teachings or gospel of Jesus Christ, and the idea of humanity being created in the image of God are obviously wrong.

Monday 20 May 2024

How Empires Go Broke


Empires are very expensive business. They also make a lot of money for a lot of people involved. But overall they drain the founding nation of resources, money, men and eventually leave it a broken husk of its former glory. There have been no exceptions to this in history, and Revelation 18 in the Scriptures shows that this will even be the fate of the final global empire.

The fate of the United State's empire was sealed in recent years, when because of their financial aggression against the country of Russia, they created a reason for many other growing economies to start binding together to ensure their ability to continue to trade if America decided to turn on them. This is the BRICS trade alliance, prompted by the American sanctions against Russia. One of the biggest consequences of the United States war against Russia is that many nations have now started to trade for oil in their own currencies, rather than using the Petro-dollar. The Petro-dollar required all nations to trade for oil in US dollars, which enabled the United States to find the money for its expensive wars, domination of many other nations, give it the power to cripple potential rivals or even just smaller countries seeking to break from its power, and gave the US many other financial advantages over the rest of the world. But that power is now broken, and many people do not realize how this has sealed the fate of the end of the United States as the dominant global power.

This illustration from Byzantine history might help show why this is a devastating development for the United States. The Byzantine Empire stood as the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black sea region for centuries. Part of the reason they were so dominant was because of their dominance over all trade in the region. Oman writes,

“The reign of Alexius might have been counted a period of success and prosperity if it had not been for two considerations. The first was the rapid decline of Constantinople as a commercial centre, which was brought about by the Crusades. When the Genoese and Venetians succeeded in establishing themselves in the seaports of Syria, they began to visit Constantinople far less than before. It paid them much better to conduct their business at Acre or Tyre than on the Bosphorus. The king of Jerusalem, the weakest of feudal sovereigns, could be more easily bullied and defrauded than the powerful ruler of Constantinople. In his own seaports he possessed hardly a shadow of authority: the Italians traded there on such conditions as they chose. Hence the commerce of the West with Persia, Egypt, Syria, and India, ceased to pass through the Bosphorus. Genoa and Venice became the marts at which France, Italy, and Germany, sought their Eastern goods. It is probable that the trade of Constantinople fell off by a third or even a half in the fifty years that followed the first Crusade. The effect of this decline on the coffers of the state was deplorable, for it was ultimately on its commercial wealth that the Byzantine state based its prosperity. All through the reigns of Alexius and his two successors the complaints about the rapid fall in the imperial revenue grew more and more noticeable.”[1]

The Byzantine empire had faced many setbacks in the region, from the invasions of the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Magyars, Bulgars, Persian, and more. But it had always been able to use its ability to quickly rebuild wealth to reassert itself in the region. But when their hold on trade in the region was broken, significantly, this advantage was ripped away. The result was devastating.

Oman writes again about the situation less than a couple of centuries later

“The three able emperors who reigned at Nicaea, though they had preserved their independence against Turk and Frank, had utterly failed in restoring administrative efficiency in their provinces. John Vatatzes, himself a thrifty monarch, who could even condescend to poultry-farming to fill his modest exchequer, found that all his efforts to protect native industry could not cause the dried-up springs of prosperity to flow again. The whole fiscal and administrative machinery of government had been thrown hopelessly out of gear.

It was the commercial decline of the empire that made a reform of the administration so hopeless. The Paleologi were never able to reassert the old dominion over the seas which had made their predecessors the arbiters of the trade of Christendom. The wealth of the elder Byzantine Empire had arisen from the fact that Constantinople was the central emporium of the trade of the civilized world. All the caravan routes from Syria and Persia converged thither. Thither, too, had come by sea the commodities of Egypt and the Euxine. All the Eastern products which Europe might require had to be sought in the storehouses of Constantinople, and for centuries the nations of the West had been contented to go thither for them. But the Crusades had shaken this monopoly, when they taught the Italians to seek the hitherto unknown parts of Syria and Egypt, and buy their Eastern merchandize from the producer and not from the middleman.”[2]

After their dominance on the trade in Eastern Europe, and beyond, was broken, Byzantium was no longer able to reform and replenish its bureaucracies and its armies after wars and invasions like it had always done. Even when the Saracens had taken Egypt, the granaries of Rome, and Syria-Palestine from the Emperor Heraclius, Byzantium had still been able to gather the resources it needed not only to survive, but thrive and eventually even reassert itself over the Saracens in many areas of what we today call the Middle East, or Turkey. Their dominance of the trade in the region made them incredibly wealthy and powerful, beyond what they were capable of producing naturally in their own cities and provinces. They held the keys to early medieval wealth and prosperity in many ways. 

But once this advantage was taken away, Byzantium just became another regional port, and it quickly faded in power and was eventually conquered by the Ottomans. It lost the ability to replenish itself, like it has always been able to do. It’s hold on the trade routes, and the seas had given it this ability.

The United States has ruled over a larger segment of the world than any other empire in history and its navy is still the most formidable in the world. But it no longer has the trade dominance it once had. Nations can now very easily bypass it in trading for vital commodities and more, something that was not so easy before the US brought its sanctions on Russia. This strategy had worked so many times against other powers, but this time the nation they sought to strangle was prepared and judo flipped the sanctions back on the US economy. The dominance in trade the US once had is now quickly fading.  

Without this dominance it will not be able to continue to replenish itself, and rearm itself like it has in the past. It no longer has the manufacturing advantage it once had either. And it can no longer bully other economies so easily, at least those willing to be apart of BRICS. This is the significance of losing this economic dominance, this is what it means for the US to lose its near monopoly of international trade advantages with the Petro-dollar. Just as Byzantium did not last in its former glory long after it lost its trade advantage, neither will the US. It will not fade overnight, Byzantium lasted a few more centuries in decreasing glory, but it faded, and so too will the power and dominance of the US. Considering how short its reign at the top was, it's likely their fall will be quicker than Byzantium's. Especially as most of the world production capacity and wealth is now centred on the Asian landmass, a region the US is disconnected from and historically aggressive towards. 

The current wars we see in Russia, the Middle East, and building in South China Sea and Taiwan all stem from one original source: the US and its allies are seeking to either maintain US dominance, or take advantage of US dominance while it lasts. But no empire lasts forever. We are watching something like the fall of Rome and Byzantium in our day. 

List of References

[1] Oman, Charles. The History of the Byzantine Empire: From Its Glory to Its Downfall (p. 134). e-artnow. Kindle Edition.

[2] Oman, Charles. The History of the Byzantine Empire: From Its Glory to Its Downfall (pp. 151-152). e-artnow. Kindle Edition.

Saturday 18 May 2024

I Stand With Israel?


"I stand with Israel."

Let's evaluate this statement biblically.

If you had stood by Israel and Moses as they were struggling against Egypt not letting them go, you would have been on God's side, with Israel. 

If you had stood by Israel when they were afraid to enter the land of Canaan and opposed Moses, you would have been standing against God, with Israel.

If you had stood by Israel when they rose up with Gideon, you would have been on God's side.

If you had stood by Israel when they followed Ahab and Jezebel and the four hundred prophets of Baal, you would have been standing against God.

To say this phrase without taking into account Israel's relationship with God and his will is very dangerous. Many Christians state this statement without discernment. And we know that no entity or person should be stood with uncritically or unthinkingly.

Remember even the Angel of the Lord won't blindly state such a thing:

"13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so" (Joshua 5:13-15).

As Christians we need to make sure we stand with God, and evaluate the unbelievers and their causes we support very critically. To yoke yourself uncritically with unbelievers is very dangerous for the Christian, and it can seriously cloud our thinking. It happens to young Christians when they want to date a pretty or handsome unbeliever, and it happens to mature Christians when there is a blindspot in their theology.

Something to think about.


Friday 17 May 2024

You killed Jesus Christ with your sins? Let’s examine that.


"You killed Jesus Christ with your sins" is a slanderous lie. It is one of those evangelical platitudes like many others that people say without thinking through Scripturally. One of those things that is so commonly repeated that people don't even realize what they are saying (though the trained pastors who say it should know better).

Firstly, to accuse someone of a sin they did not commit is slander, it is to lie and bear false witness. Now, think about this: were the disciples guilty of Jesus' death? Jesus said about the Romans who nailed his hands, "Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing" (Luke 23:32-35). So, if he did not want to hold the Roman soldiers guilty who actually crucified him, why would the disciples, who opposed his death, be guilty? The disciples were guilty of cowardice, not standing with Jesus, and many other sins, but the 11 other than Judas were not guilty of his death. It was because Judas was guilty of betraying Jesus to death that he faced a specially harsh punishment from God, and was called the son of perdition.

Did the Apostles consider themselves guilty of his death? Think about it, they understood the gospel better than anyone else, anyone else, better than you and me, and they did not consider themselves guilty of it. They knew who was guilty for his death, and it was not them, it was the leaders of Israel, the Pharisees and others, and they considered themselves witnesses to this crime: 

"22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it" (Acts 2:22-24).

"13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all" (Acts 3:12-16).

Who do they consider guilty? "You crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men..." They considered the leaders of Israel who opposed Jesus and had him killed to be guilty, because that is who was guilty. When Israel's leaders rejected their God, God enacted the curses of Deuteronomy 28, but he also made a way for all of them to escape from these curses. He did this for Jews and Gentiles, all who believe in him are freed from every curse. 

This is important, because you corrupt the gospel when you go beyond scripture. Jesus died for our sins, but we did not kill him. Those who killed him are the one that killed him. The gospel message is not that we all stood with the murderers and participated in the death of Christ. The gospel message is that we all deserved to be on that cross, and he took our place, willingly, of his own accord. He "was pierced for our transgressions", that is substitutionary atonement, he took our place:

"4 Surely he has borne our griefs

    and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

    smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

    and with his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5).


Church leaders who accuse someone of the murder of an innocent man they did not kill, because they are trying to be clever about who killed Jesus, are committing a grievous and evil sin; slander and false witness. We have enough guilt on our heads, without adding other guilt. And you know what, some of those who were responsible for his death were forgiven when they repented too. Such is the mercy of Jesus that he even redeems those who hated him while he was on earth:

"37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:37-41).

When people go beyond scripture, you know they have believed a lie and are being influenced by the chief of liars, beware of nice sounding lies.