A Short Post on Compassion

Help!

I originally wrote this as an assignment for a Reformer’s Unanimous challenge. It is quite short, but I thought y’all might like something more quick and to the point for a change. 🙂

2 Chronicles 28:1-15
1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father:
2 For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.
3 Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
4 He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
5 Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.
6 For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.
7 And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king’s son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that was next to the king.
8 And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.
9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, and said unto them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven.
10 And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?
11 Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.
12 Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against them that came from the war,
13 And said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for whereas we have offended against the LORD already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, andthere is fierce wrath against Israel.
14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation.
15 And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.

The reign of Ahaz in Judah was marked by great sins and rebellions against God. And as with the other kings, and as with every other nation that has ever existed before God’s just throne, he was duly punished – and also in typical fashion, by another unrighteous kingdom: Israel.

Israel did not ever have a single king that walked wholly before God, and yet time and again God used them to deal justice upon Judah. How powerful of an illustration this is for us! We, who are rebellious and despicable in nature, are still used of God to bring others to the right. Not just in our example, showing them what to avoid, but also in teaching, God still uses us.

But in this particular instance, Israel went far beyond God’s intended judgment: they extended themselves beyond His justice and worked for their own pride and well-being. They took Judah captive. This was not in God’s will, and He told them so.

He told them that they did not themselves hold the law in their hands: they were merely executing it. He did this by pointing out their own failures to keep the law. They were unworthy to take justice into their own hands, although their hands could still be used to execute God’s justice.

In like manner, we are often put into positions in which it is our God-given duty to train, rebuke, challenge, and punish others. Whether in the family, in the church, or in the government, we must bear in mind that we do not master the law: the law is our master. And we must show compassion to those under our jurisdiction by following God’s justice rather than our own.

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And So All Israel Shall Be Saved

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Image via Wikipedia

For some reason over the past couple years, people have found it incumbent upon them to ask what my views were on Israel. Yeah, right, as if you really wanted to know. * shakes head *

But evidently, they do. And they aren’t talking about my fascinating views on biblical government and Old Testament Israel (though there are a few nice people who listen to me ramble on about that), they want to know about what my views are on Israel as a nation in the current day scheme of things and in the future. * sigh *

This is one of the topics that I honestly avoid, actually, mainly because I haven’t found hardly anyone who agrees with me. 😛 But then, if I don’t talk about it… how do I know? Right.

So here I am, prodded at last into posting my views on this gnarly subject.

Before I launch in, though, I would like to establish a bit of common ground…

We all believe that anyone can be saved, right? That to do so, we call on the name of God? (You know what I mean by that.) Whether or not you are Calvinist, you should be able to agree with that on some level, since the Bible says so.

So we would all agree that no one will be saved merely because they have a specific ancestry, right?

Good. 🙂

(If you don’t, you probably won’t get much out of this article, but you can send me an email explaining why you think that if you want, though I might not answer with anything more than an “interesting,” haha.)

There are tons of places in the Bible that deal with this issue, and I can’t go through them all. Far from it. I won’t even be able to scrutinize the ones I do bring up in any great depth. Simply too much there, and too little time.

I would like to start off by quoting three passages that have a common phrase:

Acts 15:8-9 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Romans 3:22-24 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

These are only representative samples of a crucial theme throughout the Bible, because this is the heart of what the New Testament is. The New Testament’s glory is in its all embracing invitation: God’s kingdom is no longer a nation on earth – it now transcends national borders and lineages.

But what is Israel right now?

Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

It isn’t necessarily that nation over in Palestine or even descendants of Abraham… at least not fleshly.

Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Now, there are two passages that are key to this subject, and they must be taken together. I would love to do a verse by verse commentary on them, but that will have to wait (I do actually plan on doing that someday, though). The first is Romans 10-11, and the other is Hebrews 8.

Romans 10:1-3 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Paul is talking about the Israel everyone thinks of: the Israel of his fleshly kinsmen. This is made obvious by the context: they aren’t saved.

And then Paul explains what they are missing: they have a false trust.

Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

They are trusting in their own righteousness that they have in and of themselves as Jews, rather than the righteousness of God through faith.

Romans 10:17-21 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

They were told, they knew, it was made clear to them, but they rejected it, and now, have lost it. They are no longer the nation of God.

Now here we get into some fascinating stuff.

Romans 11:1a I say then, Hath God cast away his people?

Paul asks a natural question: does this mean that now Jews can’t be saved (as some believe)?

Romans 11:1b God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Obviously God didn’t make it so that Jews can’t be saved… Paul is one!

Romans 11:2-5 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

There is a remnant of Jews who are saved… by grace through faith. Not just Paul. They are not a lost cause: they just need to change the object of their faith. Being a Jew doesn’t make them saved.

Romans 11:13-15 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is actually also a ministry to the Jews: he hopes that by preaching to the Gentiles, he will provoke the Jews into listening to the Gospel. A Jew being saved is like life from the dead in a whole new way.

Romans 11:17-24 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

What is this tree? Well, obviously it isn’t the nation of the Jews, because we don’t become a part of the Jewish nation when we are saved… we become a part of Christ. And the Jews who aren’t saved don’t stop being a part of their lineage… they simply are not a part of God’s family.

John 15:1-2, 5 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

The tree here is the True Israel. The Kingdom of God, that is not of this world. We, being Gentiles, have become a part of it by faith, and those who were of it, who did not stand in faith, but instead stood on their lineage, were cast out (as a whole). They can still stand by faith, though, and become a part of the true Israel again.

Romans 11:26a And so all Israel shall be saved…

Ah, but some say in the future, the nation of of the Jews will turn en masse to God and be saved. And then in that future, God will work with them as a nation on Earth. They generally point to this phrase right here for their support of this idea.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is saying just the opposite.

Romans 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

What is this covenant? What covenant did God make with Israel in which He said He would take away their sins? Now we turn to Hebrews 8 for the answer:

Hebrews 8:6-13 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

I highlighted some key phrases there, but the whole thing is one cohesive whole that needs to be read over and over and over again. Powerful and amazing passage, that.

Paul is looking back at a promise that God made with the Jews in the Old Testament. He said that the Jews would reject the covenant that they had, and that God would replace it with a new one… with a whole new system. In this system, the Kingdom of God is no longer based on lineage, but on faith. Everyone in the Kingdom of God, in the New Israel, will be righteous, made righteous by God himself, not by sacrifices and lineage.

And so… all Israel will be saved. Is saved, actually, because he is talking about now. He is talking about the New Testament. This is the New Covenant!

Romans 11:30-32 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

The Jews as a nation rejected God and His covenant, as prophesied. And because of that unbelief, God brought in the New Testament, bringing mercy upon the Gentiles. Upon us. He rejected lineage as a criteria for His kingdom, so that He could have mercy on everyone.

Romans 11:33-36 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

God’s View of Gun Control

The year was 1984. The cloaked Arab slid through the dense Jerusalem crowds. His heart would have been pounding, but his religion and experience in this sort of thing overruled his more natural nervousness and fear. He glanced across at his partner on the other side of the square; he was ready. Where was the third? Panic gripped his heart, but then he saw the other member of his team. Why were his palms sweaty? He brushed them off, leaving dirty smudges on his hands. He had mowed down crowds of innocents before with no qualm, why would now be different? He gritted his teeth against his urge to hesitate, and threw back his cloak. The bark of his machine gun exploded across the dusty street, sending death biting into the Israeli populace. His two team members opened fire on his signal and joined him in what they thought would be carnage. Suddenly flashes and sharp cracks echoed around him, and a burning pain ripped through his chest. Six shop owners had returned fire with their sidearms. His two comrades fled as he lay in a pool of his own blood… and died. Only one Israeli had fallen with him. After that, terrorists preferred long range attacks on Israel: machine-gunning armed civilians was too risky.

That is my rendition of a true, historical, factual event that really did occur. ‘The Seven Myths of Gun Control’ by Richard Poe was my source for the history of the event. This book is highly recommended by me to help you to understand clearly, from many statistics, logic, and history, how gun control increases crime.

Here is my article on the subject.

I could go about this in the same way that the aforementioned book did. I could use perfect logic, irrefutable statistics, and solid research, gleaned from reputable sources. But that has already been done quite well, and the best I can do right now is refer you to them. I am instead going to take a different tack.

I am going to look at it Biblically.

Basically I am going to be examining the question: Is it a crime to own and carry weapons?

If it is a crime, then of course government should punish those who do so.

If it is not a crime, then what sort of justification does government have to prohibit it?

Basically put, a crime is a sin that government can punish. Many sins it cannot punish (if you disagree with that, I hope you get out of the lunatic asylum soon 😛 ). Many sins it can (if you disagree with that, you are an anarchist, and that is a whole different discussion). The debate is which sins it can and cannot punish, for the most part.

Of course, if something is not a sin, it cannot be a crime. This is something that is painfully obvious, but which many many people miss utterly.

If God does not tell us that something is a sin, it is not a sin.

If God commands someone to do something, it is not a sin.

So, if God tells someone to carry a weapon, or if He does not tell them not to, then it is not a sin for them to carry a weapon.

And is therefore also not a crime. And government cannot punish them for doing so.

Now, of course, it is impossible for someone to prove that something is impossible or non-existent (theoretically). And so of course I might have missed it…

But.

The Bible does not forbid people from bearing arms. And there are very few passages that might be even construed to say that. I might be forgetting some, so if I am missing a couple, let me know in the comments and I will do my best to address them. Thanks!

In reality, the Bible consistently assumes that people have weapons, or that, in a normal situation, they would. And in one place, Jesus actually commands his disciples to carry swords (Luke 22:36-38)! I am pretty sure those weren’t for plowing or making fancy shish kebabs. 🙂 And of course guns are the modern equivalent of a sword.

God gives several laws to the Israelites regarding their swords, such as the one mandating that they all have a special tool on the back to serve as a digging implement (Deuteronomy 23:13). This was to prevent the camp from being defiled, and is thus a sort of ceremonial law, and should not be construed as license for governments nowadays to mandate the manufacture of weapons.

It was assumed that every man had weapons in several places (i.e. Genesis 34:25, Exodus 32:27, Deuteronomy 1:41).

Granted, when Jehoiada masterminded the overthrow of Athaliah and set up Joash in his rightful place as king, he had to arm the Levites who were to guard him (2 Kings 11:10, 2 Chronicles 23:9). But realize however that Athaliah was a murdering tyrant who was mortally afraid of revolt (which is a valid fear for every tyrant), and she might very well have banned weapons (like the vast majority of other tyrants in history), which would explain why Jehoiada had to arm them out of the treasury.

There are multitudinous passages that could be examined on this subject, but they all come to the same conclusions as above given: the Bible assumes that in normal situations the average man owns and carries weapons.

Now I know of two passages that people generally bring up when weapons are mentioned. The first is in the Sermon on the Mount (which is representative of the other similar passages that they bring up), and the other is when Jesus was arrested. First we will talk about the arrest.

Here is a harmony of the gospels (a compilation of a passage from each of the gospels), showing in context with each other everything that is said to have happened in this passage under question:

When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? Then Simon Peter having a sword, stretched out [his] hand, and drew his sword, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”

The passage that most people quote, out of context, is Jesus’ words: “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Or, as it is sometimes put: “All those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

This last version is either absolutely wrong, or not absolutely true. David lived by the sword (which is why he could not build the temple, 1 Chronicles 28:2-3) and he died not by it, but peacefully with his son on the throne. The same for many others (Samuel, who hewed Agag in pieces, and did other similar things, died peacefully of old age), although many of those who lived by the sword did die by it (Joab for one).

In the context of this passage, it is very clear what Jesus was saying: it was God’s will and His will for Him to be taken away. He was laying down His life willingly. God would not fight on His behalf, and He would not ask Him to. And a handful of fishermen would be slaughtered by the trained soldiers if they tried to resist. It is actually very simple: Jesus was protecting them.

As for the other passage, it is in reality the strongest argument that I have found against bearing weapons, although it is weak enough.

Matthew 5:38-47 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have [thy] cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others?] do not even the publicans so?

This is more against using a weapon than having one, but of course they are connected.

The context here is talking about behaving unselfishly, being charitable, and being longsuffering. Now, of course it would be not very charitable or longsuffering for you to shoot someone merely because they called you stupid. That would be merely proving their point. 🙂 But is that really the question?

In NT Israel, a back-handed slap was an insult, an attack on your pride. If you are slapped on your right cheek, then that is a back-handed slap: an insult. Which you are to ignore… and turn the other cheek.

A palm slap is a direct challenge to combat. A serious threat to your life. It is a clear overture of intent to kill. This is a slap on your left cheek: your other cheek.

In other words: ignore insults, but check to make sure that the person isn’t really about to kill you. But what then?

Each of these things listed here are merely superficial, things that are “less than your life” (Matthew 6:25), not your life itself, which is interestingly excluded from the citation of lex talionis: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. The original included Life for Life. The original was also directed towards the government, not towards regular citizens. So it seems that we are supposed to forgive and let things slide as much as possible… up to a certain point.

Which is when we would need a weapon to defend ourselves.

Exodus 22:2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, [there shall] no blood [be shed] for him.

Intriguing…

Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Important.

Now of course at about this point people start panicking: “But then there will be chaos!” “Everyone will be shooting instead of being nice!” “All the criminals will have free rein!” “There will be anarchy!”

Notice that all those are gut reactions, not stemming from any sort of experience or research, but merely from propagandist hype that has embedded its sophistries into the natural instincts of the populace. The fact of the matter is that the exact opposite of all of the above exclamations are true. The reasons why are sadly outside the scope of this article, and I must again refer you to something like ‘The Seven Myths of Gun Control’ by Richard Poe.

If something is outlawed, only outlaws will get it.

No limitation of righteous liberty can bring about anything but tyranny and rampant crime.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser