The Infinitesimal Drama of the Virgin Birth

Incomprehensibly constrained to the size of a pinhead, the Lord of the Universe marches down through the ages and arrives Immanuel in a young girl’s womb.

From the first glorious image of Adam through patriarchs and kings, Matthew parades the central march of God’s history before us and brings us to a place of wonder – a few cells in a wonderful dwelling.

“Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected
So we might know that Love would go that far?”

That whole long march, funnels down and focuses like a laser on this tiny point.

Matthew 1.

Music taken from the album “Music inspired by the Story” 2011.  Song sung by Francesca Battistelli.

Hidden

The  Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory (John 1:14).

We are creatures variously described in the bible as an earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7); a branch (John 15:4), a member of His body (1 Cor. 12:27) but even in those descriptions there is something more than just a creature described.  We contain God Himself in some way, just like the body of Mary did and the earthly body of Jesus did and now the heavenly body of Jesus does also.  When you are born again a connection occurs with God that is beyond a simple creature/ creator relationship.  Its the relationship of a family.

So if that is the case then why are we not all Supermen?  Surely we should be imbued with astonishing, miraculous powers and be able to conquer the world, etc.

I think that some of us will be in positions of power in the ages to come if we are found worthy of that.  The way we are found worthy is by continuing to abide in the crucified Christ for crucified is the way He has chosen to live through us in this age (Gal. 2:20, 6:14).

God is regularly misunderstood, spat at, despised and dishonoured in this world for so He has chosen that it should be.  His aim is to have a remnant that love Him not because they have to, or because there is anything to gain in this life by doing so or even because we will have a great position in His kingdom to come but simply because He loves us and is lovely.  Its the great romance at the heart of a lot of films.  We are being wooed by Him who appears to us in pauper’s clothes but is in fact the prince of the realm.  He asks us to join Him and be like He is, with the glory hidden in a jar of clay for a time (2 Cor. 4:7).

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.  

Colossians 3:3,4.

He is worth waiting for and He thinks you are too.

Star Gazing

I find the science behind the Star of Bethlehem fascinating. I have always loved astronomy and Psalms 8 and 19 are among my favourites. The heavens declare the glory of God in more ways than one.

If, like me, your faith is not a blind one but uses the reason that God has given us all to bolster it and if you, like me, enjoy scientific truth searching then I think this will encourage you.

The truth is that God announced His first coming with clear signs in the heavens – which you can see now using computer software that you can buy off the shelf. These include the Star of Bethlehem which turns out to have been a particularly close conjunction between Jupiter and Venus (the second and third brightest objects in the night sky after the Moon) that took place on June 17th 2BC.

I won’t repeat here what Rick Larson has dealt with in depth in his excellent website and DVDs. To understand what I have written below I strongly recommend you read the materials at that site first.

I have created two short stories below based around pivotal events which led to the Magi (or the three wise men as they are more commonly known) leaving their city in the East and coming to a stable in Bethlehem in Judea some time up to 2 years after the star appeared. You can read that story in full in Matthew’s gospel chapter 2 verses 1-12.

The first story deals with a hypothetical lesson taught by the old testament prophet Daniel to the children of his fellow Jewish captives in Ancient Babylon about 585 BC. During this lesson, which presumes knowledge about the stars from previous lessons, Daniel explains how the Magi would know when the Messiah was coming.

The second story tries to describe the reaction of the successors of the Magi, many generations and centuries later, when they finally see the events occurring in the heavens that they had been awaiting so long.

[The Magi themselves are a fascinating study in their own right. The empire appropriate administrative systems that Daniel and his fellow Jewish exiles (Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego) put in place lasted for over a thousand years from about 600 BC to 500 AD surviving numerous dynasties and bringing untold blessings to the peoples of central Asia for all that time (Gen. 12:3). But that needs another blog.]

Daniel the Prophet Teaches Messianic Astronomy

Asenah was looking forward to today’s lesson with his super “uncle” Daniel. It was going to be on his favourite subject: Astronomy. His uncle could be scary at times but he knew so much that was fascinating and never more so than when it came to the stars. He knew all about the names of the stars and the wandering stars and the comets and meteors and eclipses and….. and well everything there was to know about everything in the sky above them. So Asenah was excited.

“Today, I am going to teach you something very special about the coming Saviour of the world.” Daniel said. Asenah knew that the stars contained a very ancient story in them about this coming Messiah who would be his people’s salvation as well as that of the whole world.

“You know that God named the stars as our esteemed prophet Isaiah and a writer of the psalms has said. So can you tell me which stars are connected with the coming King?”

Asenah and the other students knew the answers, this was an easy question. He put his hand up.

“Go ahead Micaiah, son of Shadrech” Daniel had asked Asenah’s brother for the answer.

“The wandering star Jupiter, the King of the wandering stars, and Regulus the king star in the constellation of Leo, the symbol of the tribe of Judah.” Micaiah answered.

“Very good, Micaiah. Those are indeed the two main stars associated with the coming King.”

“Anyone else want to tell me what a conjunction is?” The question that Daniel asked this time was not so easy but still several hands went up.

“Yes, Samuel son of Meshach, what is your answer?”
Samuel was one of the brighter ones in the class. He answered confidently: “A conjunction is where a wandering star and a fixed star or another wandering star meet up and dance together.”

“Well done Samuel, that is true. So today I am going to speak to you about triple conjunctions and one to look out for in particular.”

At this stage Daniel brought down one of his large star charts and spread it out on the table in the middle of the classroom. On it was drawn an accurate picture of the part of the sky above them that included the constellation Leo:

(Daniel’s star chart might not have been quite like this but would have contained the same details)

“As you know, I have a lot of these charts.”, Daniel said, stating the obvious (they were all around the classroom from floor to ceiling), “You also know how I told you what Shem, the son of Noah, told our father Abraham about the coming Messiah, how he was to look out for His signs in the heavens.

We know from our fathers the importance of the king star, Regulus, and the king wandering star (or planet as you could call it), Jupiter. You also know that Jupiter, the king planet wanders in and out among the 12 constellations of the tribes of Israel doing dances with them. So, now I am telling you, that when you see the king planet Jupiter doing a dance around the king star Regulus in the constellation of our tribe Judah – when it crowns the king star with a triple conjunction – then know that the Messiah is about to come.”

Asenah never forgot that lesson.

The Capital of the Parthian Empire 3 – 2 BC

Melchior was on star gazing duty that evening. He and his Magi companions and ancestors had been observing, taking notes and drawing up star charts for centuries now. Always the focus was on the king planet Jupiter and the king star Regulus. For over 500 years they had continued to look for the predicted dance and so often it had seemed tantalizingly close. But over the last 9 months it had finally happened.

In September of the previous year, Jupiter passed as close as it ever has to Regulus and went on its way.

Jupiter passing Regulus in September of 3 BC

In December it was half way through the constellation on its way westward when it turned back for its second pass by Regulus. It reached Regulus this second time in February. In the middle of May it went back for its third pass thus fulfilling the requirements of a triple conjunction for the first time in all the centuries they had been looking for it.

So now Melchior was out again observing and his companions had joined him because something remarkable had started happening in June. Venus was coming closer to Jupiter and tonight it looked like they would be so close they would be indistinguishable from each other. Such a close conjunction was a rare sight, but it was even more significant after the triple conjunction that had been happening over the previous 9 months.

Melchior wondered if the Messiah had been conceived in September and was being born tonight in Bethlehem in Judea as the prophet Micah foretold. These were indeed exciting times!

Jupiter and Venus in an extraordinary conjunction on June 17th, 2 BC.

The three Magi loaded up their camels. They were taking a visit to the neighboring Roman empire on a mission to see their new born king. The king planet would lead their way westward.

An Explanation and some References

The above stories about Daniel and the Magi are mainly based on information that you can find at Rick Larson’s excellent website Bethlehemstar.com. If you haven’t already read the material on that site please do so before asking me any question about this post since most of the answers to your questions can be found there.

However, some of the above stories are at least partly speculation. I will deal with some of the more speculative points below.

  1. There is no direct evidence that Noah’s son Shem interpreted the gospel in the stars to Abraham. They were both alive at the same time on earth (Shem lived to a very great age) and it is possible that Abraham met Shem. Some scholars believe that Shem was Melchizedek (see Genesis 14:18–20 and Hebrews 7). But there is no biblical evidence to suggest that Shem told Abraham what to look out for nor that Abraham subsequently passed down that information to his descendants so that Daniel knew it. It is a nice idea though, it could have been true. Either way, we are left wondering why the Magi were so knowledgeable about the star that had appeared for just one day (June 17, 2BC) and why they thought it was so special.
  2. The gospel in the stars is a theory that many people have problems with. I like it and think that it glorifies God to say that He has written the gospel in the constellations. But since we have the bible it is not something I get hung up about. If you don’t agree I don’t blame you. Just don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is no better explanation that I know of for the Bethlehem Star than the one described in detail at Larson’s site. I have written more about the gospel in the stars in this post.
  3. There is a good reason to believe that each of the 12 tribes of Israel had a corresponding constellation. The connection between the constellation of Leo and the tribe of Judah is one of the more obvious ones. I am slow to say what the other ones are but, take it that Daniel and the Magi would have taken some of this for granted even if, these days, Christians are (understandably) not inclined to look to the constellations. Again, Rick Larson does a good job of dealing with this problem.

The pictures in this post are screen shots from a computer application called Starry Night: Complete Space & Astronomy Pack available online. I love the way it is possible to verify the positions of the stars and planets on any night in history (or in the future) using a computer program. God created the universe with such order inbuilt.

Oh, and yes, the implications of this are that Jesus was actually born on June 17th, not December 25th.

Being Grateful for the Everyday

We need to count our blessings and be grateful for the things we take for granted every day. Most of Ireland’s citizens live like kings with freedom to worship, a government that’s accountable to them and a host of public services which the most needy never have to pay for. We also need to remember why this is so.

Come out of your foolish fears and preoccupations stoked by baseless conspiracy theories and count your blessings:

  • Education- subsidised and free
  • Health care-public and private
  • Justice & security- Gardai with integrity, courts where justice is served, fair judges
  • Fresh flowing water
  • Secure food supplies
  • Elaborate and effective waste removal and treatment systems
  • Elaborate dwelling places with all sorts of facilities such as:
    • Hot showers
    • Electric ovens
    • Central heating
    • Flushable toilets
    • Comfortable furniture and beds
    • TV
    • Computers
    • etc.
  • Motor vehicles
  • Mobile phones
  • Holidays
  • Recreational trips
  • Parks maintained for our pleasure
  • Eating out
  • Freedom of worship
  • Freedom of assembly
  • Freedom of speech (and writing!)
  • Accountable government
  • Transport systems
  • Greenways and tourist attractions, etc.

We also need to remember our history and why we enjoy such freedoms. To say that we owe most if not all of our current wealth, security and freedoms to the United States is not the ravings of a man with some kind of imagined agenda. It is the plain truth to those who have open enough minds to appreciate it.

In the last century the United States were the only reason in the end that we won the first and second world wars. The alternative of losing the second world war would have been fascist rule in Ireland under a demon possessed and lunatic dictator. Also in the last century the US pursued a series of wars and political and financial campaigns against the USSR and its allies (unpopular with many at the time) which held back the spread of another fascist regime. Many Eastern Europeans are old enough to remember what life was like under communist rule. It would be worth your while talking to them. Believe me you didn’t want to live under that system (maybe watch the Sky series Chernobyl if you need reminding).

And why do we owe so much to the USA? It is because fundamentally it is founded on Christian principles. The biblical basis of the US constitution, culture and philosophy is undeniable. It was written by people who (whether they or their ancestors) had paid a high price for their religious freedom escaping persecution from anti-Christ organised religion in Europe. Obviously they weren’t perfect in their implementation of it, and are still not, but if it wasn’t for the land of the free we wouldn’t be.

We have a bad habit in this land of knocking everyone and in particular the US. There is no doubt that there are some individuals (some in high places) that are an embarrassment to that nation and what it stands for. But we would do well to remember here in our national pride just how small and insignificant a nation we are and how much we are at the mercy of much larger powers. We don’t even bother to maintain an effective deterrent army to protect ourselves, such is our trust in the US and its allies in NATO.

Our lifestyles, culture and freedom were made secure with US (and British) lives which, even publicly, we have only just begun to acknowledge. When they won the war they didn’t come in to our country to take over, strip our assets and send them back to the mother country like the USSR did in Eastern Europe. Instead they supplied industry, jobs and supported our freedoms.

And the main reason they did this was because their nation was, and is, fundamentally Christian.

A Rising Tide

I have felt encouraged by a number of words recently from various sources that are indicating that the Lord is moving, or about to move (depending on where you are) in a new way. This has been referred to as the “Third Wave” by some (e.g. by Sean Booth) and is foretold in a 1947 prophecy given by Smith Wigglesworth and by others.

In Reinhard Bonnke’s autobiography, he relates a story about what a rising tide can do. He was down by the pier where a large ship was moored. It was several thousand tons in weight. He was amazed to find that he could cause it to move simply by leaning against it. This would, of course, have been impossible if the ship was on the river bed or on dry land. But because it was lifted by the tide he was able to do what otherwise would have been impossible.

In Psalm 8:2 David says:

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength

I was reading a commentary on this verse which drew a similar analogy to that drawn by Reinhard:

The work that is done in love loses half its tedium and difficulty. It is as with a stone, which in the air and on the dry ground we strain at but cannot stir. Flood the field where it lies, bury the block beneath the rising water; and now, when its head is submerged, bend to the work. Put your strength to it. Ah! it moves, rises from its bed, rolls on before your arm. So, when under the heavenly influences of grace the tide of love rises, and goes swelling over our duties and difficulties, a child can do a man’s work, and a man can do a giant’s. Let love be present in the heart, and “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God ordaineth strength.” Thomas Guthrie, D.D.” (Emphasis added)

Some people call the move of the Spirit that we are speaking of “revival”. Whatever you call it, it will be a move of love.

During this kind of work of God, watch the babes move mountains. God prefers it this way:

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.

Matt. 11:25, 26

Confirmed by Paul:

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

1 Cor. 1:18-29

I am very encouraged that this third wave is, even now, happening around us. The best qualification you have to be part of it, is awareness of your weakness and inability for “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10).

Oh God! Open our eyes that we may see what you are doing in these days!

  1. God has prepared the agnostic: If you can see it, you should be able to understand that God has used the pandemic to prepare people the world over. It has taken them off the hamster wheel, brought their mortality to the front of their minds and left many of them with nothing else to do but seek God and ask the big questions of life.
  2. God has judged the church: The US election has also been used by God. It has removed so many idols. Many big names called prophets by the people have been proven wrong. Those who have stood at the front of large congregations (including a whole nation in one prominent case!) tempting people to look to them rather than Christ have been taken down. The congregations have not been able to meet and the prophets have been proven wrong. In their place are the ordinary, the looked over, the despised who open their homes to the lost.

Oh God! Open our eyes that we may see what you are doing in these days!

More Distractions

Yesterday I was sent the same video by two friends. In the video a woman with a self confessed ignorance of the subject pointed out, in bordering on hysterical tones, that the ingredients in the Astra Seneca vaccine being developed in the UK included some that she found objectionable.

The reason for her objection to the ingredients being used is that at least one of them (MRC-5 see above table) was derived from some processes carried out many years ago which involved an innocent child that was probably murdered.

Of course, as Christians, we are well aware of the murder of another innocent person and God’s wonderful ability to redeem that murder and through it bring about the salvation of many (John 3:16 anyone?).

But that perspective is not one that can be applied here it seems. It seems that many people now have to be afraid and resist with all their fear the potential life saving consequences of the death of the innocent. As if there wasn’t any possibility of redemption when it comes to abortion or vaccines.

But let everyone be convinced in their own mind.

I’m just saying that there are different ways of looking at things.

Your viewpoint shouldn’t be used to create fear or division among us nor should mine. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people sowing fear and division with their strongly held positions about all sorts of things nowadays.

I was reading this passage from Hebrews (Chap. 13) this morning and I believe it has some relevance:

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating certain foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 

For our hearts to be strengthened by grace we need to realise how little we really know about all that God saves us from on a daily basis. Some people, much better qualified than I, have spent a lot of time looking into what we ingest or put on or into our bodies. Very little, if any, of it is uncontaminated by exploitation, injustice, murder and other crimes. If our hearts aren’t strengthened by grace and mercy we have nothing. None of us are in a position in this fallen world to get every aspect of our lives right. We all depend on grace.

I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 

Paul in 2 Cor. 11 nails it on the head (as you might expect).

Don’t be distracted! Leave alone the things you know nothing or little about and don’t be sowing fear and discord among people. Concentrate on hearing what God is saying to you. We have disciples to make and a kingdom to see come from heaven to earth. You are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus with a wonderful ability to do things only you can (Eph. 2:10). Don’t follow the crowd. Follow Him.

Here is something simple and true:

Thank God He loves you.

Praise God He is in you.

Worship Him so you can know what His perfect will is for you.

Do that perfect will.

Repeat 7 times a day or before you say or do anything in response to this or any other post.

Appearing in Court

Over the last 30 years or so I have been in court many times. I have appeared as an expert witness in many murder, drugs and terrorist cases including in the UK Crown Courts north of the border. Even as I write this I am engaged in a major murder trial which involves months of work analysing and assessing technical evidence.

The justice system is set up in this country to make it easier to acquit the innocent than to condemn the guilty at least in criminal cases. It is up to the prosecution to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. It is rare that a jury will go on to convict the innocent though it does happen. In other words, we can generally trust our judges and judicial system not to do injustice.

However, the belief systems of the people involved and political pressures can lead to decisions being made by judges which defy most people’s common sense or sense of what is right and wrong. Nowhere is this more obvious (to me at least) than in the ruling of the Irish Supreme Court in March 2018 that the child in a womb has no rights because they are not actually a child until they come out of the womb. Try telling that to any mother.

So can courts based on western democratic systems get it wrong? Absolutely.

Does that mean they will get it wrong when it comes to the many cases that President Trump has brought to try and dispute the election of Joe Biden in the US? Well that would seem unlikely for a couple of reasons:

  1. There are numerous courts involved. All these cases have to be taken at State (not Federal) level first. A lot of these courts will have judges and jurists on them who are favourable to President Trump. The federal Supreme Court is also loaded with people who have conservative values and beliefs. There should be no reason for the President’s supporters to doubt their rulings if some of the cases get that far.
  2. The cases are usually quite simple and don’t depend on value based judgements. There were either lots of fraudulent votes or there were not. Notwithstanding the few State variations on how to accept or deny postal votes, it shouldn’t be that hard for the prosecution to disprove or the defence to prove there were fraudulent or improper votes cast or included in the election of Joe Biden.

It is possible that some of the many accusations of fraud will be upheld by the courts as legitimate. Whether there will be enough to overturn the Presidential election results as are currently being presented in the main stream media is another question.

A lot of people think there is too much at stake to let it go, no matter how improbable the likelihood of success.

Personally I think the US election results (as currently presented) have turned out well overall with the Republicans maintaining control of the Senate and narrowing the Democrats margin of control in the House. Speaking as a European I believe we could all do with a better image of the democracy that has saved us on at least 3 occasions in the last century from fascist rule than that presented in the main stream media of the present incumbent. If Joe does get in they should have less reasons to ridicule him.

Misinterpreting the Times

Jeremiah was a very unpopular prophet.

Actually, he was a full on traitor.

At a time of extreme national crisis, when the very existence of the nation of Israel was at stake, he openly and consistently advocated surrender to the enemy (Jer.38:2, 17).

Throughout his prophecies, he warned people that God was bringing on disaster if they did not repent (e.g. Jer. 17:27, 18:11). Later, as it became obvious that no one was listening (Jer. 18:12 – 17) and when they turned against him (Jer. 18:18), his prophecies became more ominous and certain (Jer. 19).

We now know that God was indeed speaking through Jeremiah as he consistently said He was. But at the time the Word of God through Jeremiah was rejected on every side by both the kings of the time and many of the people.

In one particularly telling scene, Jeremiah gets his assistant to write down all the prophecies that God had given him. During a time of national fasting, his assistant reads from the book the words of Jeremiah (Jer. 36:9-10) in the house of he Lord. These words are full of specific warnings against Israel about the judgements that God was bringing upon them (36:2) and were written by the Lord in the hope that people hearing them might turn back to Him (v.3).

A man called Michaiah, son of Gemariah, hears the words and declares them to the princes of the land (v. 11-13). After hearing these words the princes become afraid (v.16) and decide to bring them to the king (v.20). However, the words that Jeremiah is bringing are so unpopular and against the nation that the princes advise him and his assistant to “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are.” (v.19).

The king’s response is scary. He listened and every few minutes he cut the read sections out with a scribe’s knife and threw them in the fire. Eventually, he burnt up the whole scroll. (v.23).

The bible goes on to say that neither the king nor his close advisors were afraid or showed any symptoms of repentance despite hearing all these words (v.24). Some brave upright men who are called out by name (v. 25) pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll but he would not listen to them. He even commanded that Jeremiah and Baruch be seized but the Lord hid them (v.26).

This story is typical of Jeremiah. Throughout the book the same themes arise again and again:

  1. God warns the people that He is bringing destruction on them because of their sins.
  2. Jeremiah faithfully repeats God’s words. He is also instructed by God on exactly how to make them clear to everyone through everyday life pictures like a potter’s wheel (chap. 18) and smashing a clay pot (chap. 19).
  3. The kings (Jeconiah and Zedekiah)* and many of the people reject the words of the Lord.
  4. Disaster ensues. The enemy comes in, takes over the kingdom and the people of God are reduced to a remnant.

This theme is repeated in graphic and shocking fashion with the people left in the land (Jer. 42-44) after the loss of the king and their nobles to Babylon. They ask Jeremiah for the Word of the Lord (42:1-3) and promise to do whatever he says (v.5). But when they hear what God has said they reject it (43:2-4)!

One of the scariest parts is that they completely misinterpret what happened and why.

They say that the kingdom was taken by the enemy because they had stopped sacrificing to a false god (the “queen of heaven” 44:18). They determined to keep going to Egypt despite God’s words to the contrary. Eventually, even there, the enemy overtakes them and they are destroyed. Only a very small remnant escape as a warning to the others (44:28-30).

Of course, Jeremiah was not the only prophet of God who was right and rejected by the kings of the day. Micaiah, the son of Imla, suffered in a similar way (2 Chron. 18).

All this goes to show is that it is very easy to get it wrong when we are looking at impending disaster or are in difficult situations.

The most important thing to learn from all of this is that you, the President (elect or current) and all his and your friends could be wrong.

And that applies to whatever side of the divide you find yourself on. It was pride – specifically national pride – that caused the people of Israel to reject God’s will for them.

Ask yourself, are you on the Lord’s side? Really? If you are confused and don’t know which side to choose then you might be closer to the Truth than you think.

*Jeconiah rejected God’s words from the beginning and was consistently opposed to Jeremiah. He is sent as a captive to Babylon where he eventually dies. Zedekiah wavered and moved back and forth between supporting Jeremiah and abandoning him to his enemies. The king of Babylon catches him while he is fleeing Jerusalem, kills his sons in front of him, blinds him and takes him captive to Babylon. Neither of them do well.

Fine Dust in the Balance

If like me you have been distracted by an election in a country far away then I hope, like me, that you will be encouraged by the Lord’s view of nations:

Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
17 All nations before Him are as nothing,
And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.

Isaiah 40:15-17

All the nations are as nothing to God, no matter what it may look like to us. The Scriptures are quite clear about this. We need to keep our minds off earthly things:

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Philippians 3:20

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:28

The US Election

In 3 days the world will know the result of the US election. This is an election like no other in a year like no other. Many are praying that there will be a very clear outcome, one way or the other, to reduce the risk of social upheaval.

I have some people asking me about it so here is my tuppence halfpenny’s worth. I hope it helps.

Evangelical voters in the US are facing a particularly difficult choice and need our prayers. I, for one, am glad I don’t have to vote in this election.

There are 2 main components of the election facing all voters:

  • The choice between the 2 parties involved: Republicans and Democrats and the values they stand for.
  • The choice between the 2 men involved: Joe Biden and Donald Trump and their respective characters.

In the first choice the main issue seems to be around conserving or changing the US culture, perception of history and political systems. The US Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”, etc.) and the ideology, culture and history that springs from it and the US Constitution are things that many Evangelicals, reasonable people, and other people of faith in the US, believe strongly in and want to preserve. Many perceive that voting for the Republicans is a vote for that culture, history and philosophy and voting for the Democrats is a vote to destroy all that. This particularly applies to issues such as abortion and race relations but also applies to revising history, concepts of family and gender and other dearly held Evangelical positions.

I have found Ben Shapiro’s writings and podcasts useful when it comes to understanding the Republican view point. The Atlantic and the Economist are good sources if you want to understand the Democrat view point.

On the other point many reasonable people, Evangelicals included, perceive that to vote Republican is to vote in Trump for another 4 years. A lot of reasonable people including Evangelicals would see in Trump’s character and behaviour everything that they would consider the antithesis of the nature of Jesus Christ as described in the Gospels. Many consider Trump to be selfish and a narcissist in a similar way to other dictatorial leaders desperate to hold onto power at any cost (e.g. Putin, Kim Jung-un, Alexander Lukashenko). Joe Biden on the other hand comes across as a reasonable man who does not embody the extremes of the feared Democrat position.

So many Evangelical voters are caught between a rock and a hard place. They only have 2 choices:

  • Vote for Trump and the Republican party and usher in another 4 years of tweets, polarization, ego and damage to the Evangelical testimony in many people’s eyes or
  • Vote for Biden and the Democrat party and all it stands for including the loss of the gains in anti abortion rights, etc. that have been made under the Trump administration.

It is no wonder that John Piper recently blogged that he was not going to vote for either one (though he doesn’t recommend that to anyone).

The most likely outcome from this election will be disillusionment with the whole US electoral system.

Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal 2020

This post is one of a series related to the Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal 2020. In this time of physical contact restrictions the appeal has had to move online for this year which leads to some unique challenges. The needs have never been greater in the recipient countries so please #TeamUpForTeamHope and contribute generously to the appeal this year.

Team Hope CSA 2020

This post is one in a series related to the Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal 2020. In this time of physical contact restrictions the appeal has had to move online for this year which leads to some unique challenges. The needs have never been greater in the recipient countries so please #TeamUpForTeamHope and contribute generously to the appeal this year.