Keeping Ranks

” 33 of Zebulun there were fifty thousand who went out to battle, expert in war with all weapons of war, stouthearted men who could keep ranks;” (1Ch 12:33 NKJ)

I’ve been thinking about this passage since I read it yesterday. How much this truth should inform our thinking about our lives as Christians! Paul uses the metaphor of a soldier in a couple of different places:

” 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2Ti 2:3-4 NKJ)

” 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph 6:11 NKJ)

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One Random Arrow

“And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle; but you put on your robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.  Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, saying, “Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.”  So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “Surely it is the king of Israel!” Therefore they turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out.  And it happened, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.  Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am wounded.”  The battle increased that day; and the king was propped up in his chariot, facing the Syrians, and died at evening. The blood ran out from the wound onto the floor of the chariot.”  (1Ki 22:30-35 NKJ)

God had told King Ahab through the prophet Micaiah that he would die if he went to battle against the Syrians that day, in punishment for all his sins.  Ahab refused to listen, and instead listened to the prophets of the false gods who always told him what he wanted to hear.  He thought he could cheat the odds by disguising himself, but a random bowshot hit him in the joints of his armor and killed him.

We so often think we can cover the tracks of our own sin, that we can be clever enough to evade consequences.  But it’s really only the mercy of God that stands between us and full exposure, full consequences.  It’s only the mercy of God that our loved ones, our friends, or our churches don’t know all the deepest sins we commit, the things we think in the dark, the things we say to our friends that we think will never get back to anyone else.  All God has to do is lift His grace a little bit from you so that you in your pride speak your mind, because every sinner deep down thinks he’s justified for the things he thinks, the things he lusts after, the hate and envy he has in his heart.  We think we can disguise ourselves and escape consequences, but one random arrow is all it takes.  Someone peeking in through the window at night; an overheard conversation; a mis-sent text message; a tweet that was supposed to be private accidentally made public.  Someone you thought was a friend who’s always secretly resented you, who tells someone else the thing you told him in confidence.  And suddenly the whole world is looking at your shame.

God’s mercies are new every morning, though.  He is a good and gracious God.  I know this by the simple fact that most of my sins are not known to the world.  He is longsuffering.  So the sinner should take heart by this, and repent, and bend the knee, and beg for God’s grace, and He will certainly give it.  He does not break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax.  The humble and contrite sinner he will receive, but the stiff neck He will break.  Or pierce with a “random” arrow.


The Curse on Humanity and Woman’s Desire

Pastor Sam Powell (full disclosure:  my brother, in case you didn’t know already!) wrote an article taking issue with the translation that the ESV has adopted of Genesis 3:16 and the nature of the curse God pronounced on the woman.  I have a couple of issues with it, however.  Given that Sam is taking issue with a published position paper of the RCUS, his own denomination, I think an answer is warranted.  The issue he raises has multiple implications, and is one we need to be clear over.  My intention is not specifically to defend the ESV translation, which does perhaps do a bit more interpreting than we like a literal translation to do, but rather to ask some questions about the conclusions Sam reaches in his article.

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The Humility of God

I was thinking this morning about the paradox of Jesus coming to earth as the express image of God, God’s perfect representation as the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Word of God, but coming as a servant, in humility. But how does this humility and service teach us who God is, who is high and exalted above all?
And then this morning at breakfast I read this psalm:
 “Psalm 113:1 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD!  2 Blessed be the name of the LORD From this time forth and forevermore!  3 From the rising of the sun to its going down The LORD’S name is to be praised.  4 The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.  5 Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high,  6 Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?  7 He raises the poor out of the dust, And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,  8 That He may seat him with princes– With the princes of His people.  9 He grants the barren woman a home, Like a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!”  (Psa 113:1-9 NKJ)
Look at that!  Our high and glorious God, above all heavens (verse 4) shows his even greater glory and greatness in that He, God, humbles Himself!  Speaking even before the Incarnation, apart from the humanity of Jesus, God condescends to notice and take up the cause of the poor and weak, the widow and the orphan.  He humbles Himself to serve us.  The error is not in thinking that God would serve us, the error is thinking that we can dictate to God how it is that He serves us.
And that means that it is when we humble ourselves and serve others, especially those lower than us in station, those we may view as unworthy of our time and attention, that we are most like God.  Not just most like Jesus in His incarnation, but like God in His divine eternity.
Of course that shows us what real humility looks like.  Not saying, “Oh poor, no-good, stupid me.”  Not in saying, I have nothing to offer so I’ll just stay at home by myself watching TV.  But in seeking the good of others, especially those viewed as lower in power, prestige, or status than ourselves.  Humility might not look “nice” the way we think of it.  Humility might look like smashing the idols of the heathen, destroying their empires, breaking their bow and their chariot, because doing so gets their boot off the neck of the poor and needy.
And of course Jesus in His incarnation is the fullest representation of what this really looks like.  He who dined with the despised, who healed the sick, who cleansed the lepers, but who resisted the proud, who rebuked the self-righteous, who kicked over the tables of the greedy- Jesus in His incarnation perfectly revealed to us the true nature not only of true and righteous man, but also revealed to us who God really is.

Race in America, and the Real Problem

We live in a cursed and fallen world.  That proposition shouldn’t require more evidence than looking around us.  There is no hope for this world outside of the gospel of Jesus Christ; the whole Old Testament and the history of Israel demonstrates that you cannot change people’s hearts by law.  The perfect law of God given through Moses did not change the hearts of the people.  The laws of America sure aren’t going to, either.  Neither will protests, riots, or elections.

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I didn’t say White Nationalism

In the previous article, I said I think nationalism is a good thing.  I find it important to note, however, that I did not say “white nationalism.”  That is important to note, not just for those who oppose nationalism who might be tempted to mischaracterize my argument, but also for various alt-right types who might be tempted to overcharacterize what I said.  I am in favor of nationalism.  I am not in favor of white nationalism.

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