The Application of the Biblical Law to Civil Government

Some general, perhaps random, thoughts on…

The Application of the Biblical Law to Civil Government 300px-Decalogue_jekuthiel_sofer_1768

  1. The Bible addresses the proper role of Civil Government in both the Old and new Testaments
  2. That Civil Government as a Divine Institution
    1. Is implied in the Dominion Mandate (Gen 1:26-28) when it established mankind as a regulatory institution that rules over “every living thing” including mankind.
    2. Is clearly defined as such in Romans 13 where rulers are called God’s ministers for good.
    3. Borders of civil jurisdiction fall within the scope of divine providential determination (Acts 17: 26-28).
    4. Civil jurisdictions will face divine judgment and will survive the present earth and exist in the New Heavens and New Earth.
      1. “It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in that day than for this city.”
      2. He shall call all the nations before him and shall “separate THEM,” the sheep from the goats.
      3. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the Nations.
      4. Among our eternal rewards will be the rule of cities and assemblages of cities, i.e. geographic regions.
  3. The OT establishes applicable principles and limits for civil government.
  4. As stated above, God will judge Civil Jurisdictions
    1. Cities
    2. Nations
  5.  Limits
    1. Cities of Refuge
      1. Civil government should provide for and place appropriate limits on acts of personal retribution.
    2. Eye for eye
      1. Civil government should place limits on the extent of punishment for specific offenses. The punishment should not exceed the magnitude of the crime.
        1. This is the meaning of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
    3. The most extreme punishments should be prohibited except in the case of clear and verifiable evidence
      1. In the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall every word be established.
      2. Degrees of provability are acceptable for determination of guilt but severity of punishment is limited by the degree of certainty of the evidence.
      3. Death Penalty limited by degree of certainty
  6. Concerning the death penalty, it was first given to Noah (Gen 9:6) for all mankind and only in the case of murder. According to the biblical passage, this was for the preservation of the dignity of human life and its significance and sanctity as creatures made in God’s image.  Apparently this is a punishment that is appropriate in all cultures IF properly applied.  The fact that other offences were not initially added but were added under the Mosaic covenant is an indication that these are not a necessity for mankind as a whole, though they might be considered in certain cultures and under certain circumstances but only as limitations, not as mandatory prescriptions and then, ONLY when rightly understood and applied and with great caution.
  7. God’s patterns of government serve as our patterns, showing where civil government’s proper functions and legitimate limits are.
  8. Specific application of biblical legal prescriptions and proscriptions.
    1. Human civil government shall not exceed the biblical design.
      1. What God authorized for civil government is right. In other wise, if God authorized a certain penalty a particular offense, then that offense may be regulated and the punishment inflicted upon the offender shall not, if applied, exceed the penalty biblically prescribed.
      2. There should never be any penalty that exceeds the magnitude of the crime.
      3. Death penalty may be permitted for certain offenses but we must endeavor to understand
        1. The nature of the offense actually being punished.
          1. For example, was the death penalty for homosexual acts merely a condemnation of the sexual behavior or was it a condemnation of the idolatry associated with the acts? And we must ask under what degree of evidence could this most extreme penalty be applied?
        2. The application of the principle of the law versus the application of the form of the law. Sometimes it is wise to adapt the principle being addressed into a more contemporary form or expression.
        3. The proper application of the specific restrictions and related punishments.
          1. With regard to whether what are perceived to be the extreme regulations of moral behavior should be applicable to us today there are several points to be considered.
          2. It is a common objection that biblical law should not be a guide to our concept of civil government because of such extreme punishments as the death penalty for homosexuality, adultery, etc. under Moses. This seems to be outrageous to our modern mind. It is a challenge to engage this topic because of the emotional dynamics on all sides but it may be helpful to consider these points:
            1. Some moral law should not be civilly implemented but should be left to the conscience of the individual as long as the behavior presents no harm to others or to society as a whole. This is a biblical principle by the way in that persons not born Jews could adopt the Jewish religion but on a strictly voluntary basis.  And, the Mosaic moral code, though it was a vast improvement over that of the surrounding cultures, it was only enforceable within Israel.
            2. Moral law, which is advisable to implement civilly, cannot be effectively implemented civilly without a social consensus.
        4. The application of the law as practiced by the Jews. For example, though death by stoning was authorized in scripture for disobedience to parents, it was never carried out in a single circumstance, but rather served as reminder of the severity of the offense and a warning of its deleterious effect on the culture.
        5. The biblical context of the regulation.
          1. Some laws and associated penalties were transitional in that they were a lessening of severity from what had previously been practiced.
          2. In some cases, what seem to be strictures on women, for example, are actually an elevation of women from what was previously practiced and was practiced at the time by surrounding cultures.
          3. Some biblical regulations are to be understood not as God’s ideal prescriptions, but as His regulation of man’s fallen condition in an imperfect world. For example, God “hates divorce.”  We can properly conclude therefore that he does not approve of it, yet, he divorced Israel and he regulates divorce, permitting it in certain circumstances in both Israel and the church.  Why does he permit and regulate divorce? Not because he approves of it, but because of the “hardness of your hearts,” Jesus said.
  9. A rejection of the present applicability of biblical law to present society because some portions are perceived to be extreme, does a great disservice in disconnecting society from the many redeeming aspects of biblical law when properly applied to culture. The following ideas are not just good ideas but ideas with divinely sanctioned:
    1. Representative constitutional government
    2. Separation of powers
    3. Limited civil powers
    4. Due process
    5. Equal Justice (the equality of all men before the law)
    6. Proper treatment of the disadvantaged
    7. Proper treatment of livestock
    8. Laws against bribes and prohibitions of financial gain resulting from holding a position of power
    9. Self determination
      1. Private property
      2. Whosoever will…
      3. The numerous scriptures on enjoyment of life
    10. Respect for the rights, liberties, and property of others
      1. Restrain your unruly ox
      2. Do not commit murder
      3. Do not harm your neighbor with a lie
      4. Do not steal
      5. Do not covet your neighbors’…
  10. These principles, applicable to just civil government, are drawn ALMOST ENTIRELY from the Old Testament.

Whose Fault Is It Really?

Leck and The Finger 1Who’s to blame for the current mess that is the US Presidential Race?  Why are we looking at a very real possibility of a race between a probable felon and confirmed serial liar and a blowhard egotist who hesitates when asked to condemn the KKK?

Well there is plenty of blame to go around, but when you boil it all down…

Is it Obama’s fault?

Well of course it is.  No seriously, it is.  No one has done more to divide the country and to put up walls between left and right than Obama.  He pretended from day one to want to hear and benefit from all sides in any debate. But in the end, what he meant was, please come over and agree with me so we can work together in my vision of a “fundamentally transform[ed]” America.

Is It the Democrats?

Sure.  Who has done more to block progress and bipartisan action than Harry Reid, who wouldn’t even allow a budget to come to a vote on the Senate floor?

What about Republican Obstructionism?

Of course, that has played a part too.  Republicans, who had every opportunity to put forward real proposals and solutions to a variety of problems, even if it was clear they would be struck down, often chose to simply spend their energy blocking the opposition, thus being tagged with the well-deserved moniker, The Party of No.

Conservative Purism?

There is a time to block and a time to resist, but when you can’t even work within your own party to come to agreements on action that could be productive if passed, you have failed.  The best has become the enemy of the good.

But The Real Culprit Is Not Often Mentioned

The Church. That’s right the followers of Jesus.  We are the real foundational reason things are falling apart around us.  “But wait, we are the victims.  We are the persecuted. Don’t you see how the world is forsaking our values and persecuting us for our beliefs, even forcing us to make cakes for gay weddings? (What a bunch of whiners!) Don’t you recognize the culture wars and how badly our side is doing?”

Yes, I certainly do.  Look at those footprints on your back.  Look at those bruises from being run roughshod over and remember the words of Jesus.  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”  As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”

Oh yeah!  The reason the earth is not salted is because the salt has not salted it.  The reason society is rotting is because the preservative that can restrict its natural tendency to degrade has neglected or altogether abandoned its responsibility of performing its preserving work in every aspect of culture and society. And it has substituted something other than Christlikeness, and called it salt.  Self-righteousness is not salt.  Isolationism is not salt.  Defensiveness is not salt.  Unkindness is not salt.  Compromise of principles in the conduct of our families and businesses is not salt.  Always looking to tear down rather than strengthening the things that remain, is not salt.

And the Greatest Blame of All Rests Squarely in One Place

The Pulpits of America.  Pastors and teachers who are more concerned about building their personal kingdoms or losing a few donors rather than feeding the sheep God has put under their care are False Shepherds, hirelings at best and idolaters at worst.  Those who do not equip and commission witnesses into the culture with real wisdom, grace, and lives invested into the world around them as servants to a needy world are a disgrace to the Gospel of Christ.

And that does not just mean that we are to testify against the pervasive rottenness.  It means we are to sanctify the society.  We are to join hands with it.  We are to come alongside it and help it in its struggle to produce a functioning society that is stable, productive, and peaceful.  We have no right to confront until we have served.  We have no right to rebuke until we have been kind.  We have no right to judge until we have thoroughly judged ourselves, and the pastors and preachers must lead by example and train by the solid uncompromising Word of God applied first to the House of God.

Some think they see God’s hand in raising up a Donald Trump to take a stand against the tide of insanity that is breaking down our culture.  To this I say, if that is the case, it is to our everlasting shame.  Indeed, God has raised up the ungodly before to accomplish his ends, but if we look into the scriptures, he usually raises them up to judge his own people, and then turns to judge the very instrument of judgment that he raised up.

This is all unnecessary, but may have become necessary to eventually bring us to our senses by God’s mercy.  In any case, there is only one reason the world around us is rotting away.  Only one reason Christians are the subject of increasing abuse.  The salt has lost its saltiness.  And the reason the salt has lost its saltiness is that the pulpit has lost its power.  And the reason the pulpit has lost its power is that the shepherds have forsaken their assignment.

Applicable Scriptures: Mat 5:13; Mat 13:33; Luk 6:356; Rev 3:2 Ezk 34:1-10; Joh 17:17; Mat 7:35; Joh 7:24; Mar 10:42-43; 1 Pe 4:17; Gen 1:28; Eph 3:10; Psa 96:3

So What Should We Think of Heaven Now?

Now that Alex Malarkey, I was always a little bothered by that name, has said that his story in The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is a fabrication, what should we think of heaven?

I must say, I always suspect these stories.  Not that I believe that they are all lies, but I suspect many are something besides the truth.  They can be anything from real experiences to outright lies, demonic deceptions, or over active imaginations. Imperfect understandings, or misinterpretations of real experiences, may also explain some of the content of these accounts.  I suppose the possibilities are endless.

I don’t assume that all are false.  The scripture which some use to say that no one has gone to heaven and returned does not apply.  “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” John 3:13 (NKJV) is not saying that no one has gone to heaven and come back.  It is saying that no one has “ascended” to heaven.  Many have been taken to heaven but only one has “ascended” to heaven under his own power.  Elijah was “taken” to heaven and later paid a return visit at the Mount of Transfiguration along with Moses (Mat 17).  Evidently, Paul was later “caught up” into the third heaven (2 Cor 12:2), but couldn’t talk about the things he saw.  John visited heaven in The Revelation and told of many things that he saw and heard but many of them seem to be in highly symbolic language.  Real visits to heaven are certainly a possibility, so, though I am always somewhat cautious about the tales we are told by those who purport to have made the trip, I hold open the possibility of a real experience, knowing that our present knowledge is limited, and we should not form our opinions about heaven from these stories apart from the biblical revelation.

In a story similar to Alex’s, Todd Burpo writes about his son Colton’s alleged experience. Colton gets a halo and a set of wings while in heaven.  Oops!  Is this the biblical heaven or the Renaissance heaven, or the cartoon heaven?  Definitely not the biblical one.

With all the sad family dynamics in the Alex Malarkey story (the parents are now divorced) it is hard to know what is really happening.  Did Alex dream this stuff up on his own? Did the father more or less extract the details of the story from the boy?  Did Alex volunteer that he had “been to heaven” or did someone ask him whether he’d been?  Since the boy has received no money from the book, as the mother says, is this retraction simply an act of conscience on the part of the boy or an assault on the father?  If it is the latter, is it motivated by the mother?  As my mother and grandmother liked to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”  My heart goes out to the family.  I’m glad Alex is apparently coming clean.  I hope this will provide a caution to Christians when we hear stories that seem to be real.  Christian gullibility is not a virtue and it doesn’t enhance our witness.  Hyper skepticism isn’t helpful either, of course.  Sometimes, we should just withhold judgment and point people to the real source book on these matters.

The Bible has much to say about heaven.  There are some plain declarations and even more things implied.  A great book that delves fairly comprehensively into what the Bible says about heaven is Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  It is a wonderful book and it makes me wonder why anyone would want to settle for the questionable and fairy tale versions when we have such a good source already in most of our libraries and another outstanding interpretation of that source so readily available.

I heartily recommend Alcorn’s book, but even then, not all answers will be available until we arrive at our final destination.  As Bob Dylan said, “Silvio, I gotta go, find out something only dead men know.”  And as an even better source once said, “We know in part… We see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:90-12).

LH

One of Two Things Necessary for a Successful Revolution

Mubarak in PrisonHeadlines today are saying that deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak may soon be released from prison.  It is difficult to see how anything but disaster can ensue.

What we’re seeing unfold in Egypt is a bright and shinning testimony that it is not enough to desire to throw off a despotic government in order to produce an orderly and free society. Successful revolt requires one of two things:  1) Some overwhelming power or leverage that will harness or suppress the will of the people, or 2) A social consensus that can produce an orderly replacement to the displaced system.

The Bolshevik Revolution had option number one.  While it is true that there was consensus for the revolt itself, the revolution would never have held without the ability to crush descent afterward.  The poor and oppressed suffered the ravages of Communism, not because they continued to believe in the party and its rulers, or even its ideals, but because they chose to suffer rather than engage the monster they or their forbears had created.

The French Revolution collapsed into utter chaos, like so may of the revolts in the Arab world over the last few years, because there was no adequate social consensus on how the new society was to function.

The American Revolution produced a stable society that has continued through good times and bad because there was a sufficient consensus and core philosophy capable of holding it together.  The core philosophy has morphed over the years but were it to dissolve the U.S would be buried under the rubble of a forgotten dream.  What Abraham Lincoln called the “last best hope of earth” would be no more.

This is true, not only of violent uprisings but also of political transformations of any kind.   From the smallest adjustment, to the grandest renovation, to the violent revolution, the only way to insure successful change without oppression is to win in the public marketplace of ideas, to erect a common system of values which the people honestly hold in common. Those who drive radical change without that consensus only lay the foundations of despotism through the creation of chaos.  Political movements that are driven only by what they are against rather than what they offer in return will ultimately fail.

Please hear this clearly.  Consensus to revolt or even bare political victories are not sufficient to insure success.  There must be a design, or at least a foundational set of values in the minds of the populace from which they can bring forth a society capable of maintaining freedom in order or the revolution will fail.  When it fails, despotism will take its place because no society can long endure chaos.  Those who wish to redirect or transform any trend must first win the hearts and minds of the public.  Without that, they are only sowing seeds of destruction.

LH

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Thoughts on the Immigration Reform Debate

On June 28, 2013 I posted the following thought on the current immigration reform Border BostonGlobe.com.jpgdebate.  It prompted a question from a friend which led to the previous article, What Would Jesus Say About Borders?

Facebook Post:

The proposed immigration bill reportedly requires those desiring citizenship to get in the back of the line facing a 13 year process to the realization of their dreams. They must pay fines for their violation of the current immigration laws. They must pay their taxes. Some say they are not required to pay their back taxes, but that is absurd. We are all already required to pay our taxes, back taxes included. How is it that they would be an exception? If there are weaknesses in the proposal, Republicans should address those with real solutions that have a chance of addressing the problems, but, I am ashamed to say, many would rather simply obstruct any change other than for improved border security. The reality is, border security has greatly improved and, if handled rightly, immigration reform can improve the system in great need of repair. Obstructionism is the easy path. Any idiot can raise objections. It takes real work and courage to propose and develop real solutions.

LH

What Would Jesus Say About Borders?

map-world 022A Facebook friend, troubled, I presume, by the ill treatment of those who are here in the U.S. without legal status, who have only come here to have a better life asked me this question, “What would Jesus say about borders?”

Here is my response.

“What would Jesus say about borders?” I suspect from other things that you have said that you wonder whether he might see borders as antithetical to the oneness of humanity and as an expression of selfishness and unloving isolationism and nationalistic arrogance.  In the present circumstances, I think that is a very reasonable question.   I believe that Jesus addresses all those issues in a variety of ways and that borders, rightly administered, are no hindrance to the righteousness that Jesus would call us to.  As a matter of fact, I believe that, particularly due to our present condition, borders are necessary to the fulfillment of God’s intention for mankind on the earth.

There are at least three main questions here.  What would Jesus say about the existence of borders at all?  What is the purpose of borders?  And, what would Jesus say about how we should conduct the business of borders?

As far as I know Jesus didn’t directly address the question of borders, but there are implications in his teachings that can guide us, and then there is the context of his life which points back to the Old Testament for his thought framework, which has quite a bit to say.  Additionally, there is the development of these ideas by his earliest followers, particularly his apostles.  I take all of this as information on what Jesus would think of borders.

Before beginning let me be clear, there is a huge distinction to be made between whether borders should exist and how the civil governments and people within those jurisdictions should conduct themselves with respect to those borders.  If, indeed they should exist, that does not mean that we yet understand their full and proper purpose, or that everything we do with respect to borders is right.

I would like to start at the end of the book, not with Jesus words per se but with a principle that I believe he certainly embraced.  Three times in the book of Revelation, reference is made to “every tribe and language and people and nation.”  In one scene (Rev 5:9) the redeemed are before the throne of God worshiping him for their salvation. There are those from every “tribe, language, people, and nation” expressing their gratefulness for the great deliverance they have received.  Then in the middle of the book (Rev 13:7) the story is told of the earth falling under a malevolent influence that makes war on the redeemed and oppresses all the peoples of the earth of every “tribe, people, language, and nation.”  Finally, there is the story of the power of the good news that goes out to, again, “every nation, tribe, language, and people” (Rev 14:6).  It seems that, not only in this life are the distinctions acknowledged, they continue into eternity.  The idea here is this:  God has designed people groups to fill unique rolls in the family of man.  There are certain divine purposes fulfilled better by one culture than another.  This should make us all humble in dealing with other peoples and respectful of them as peoples in the providence of God.  Though, biblically speaking, the gospel has universal application, that does not mean that westernized Christianity is to be superimposed over all cultures.  This has been a mistake by a significant portion of western mission work over the last few hundred years.

We see from this that the purpose of mankind is not entirely uniform but is a composite made up of unique contributions from each people group. The very fact that nations are mentioned is an indication that borders are in play.  Territories are designated as the places where these divine expressions will emerge which will uniquely give honor to the Creator and Redeemer, bless the others, and contribute to the overall purpose of mankind.

This is stated more explicitly in the writings of Paul.  He said, in Act 17:24-28,  “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.”

Here we see the oneness of humankind and its diversity.  This in itself is an expression of the very nature of the Creator who declares himself to be ONE (Deuteronomy 1:6), yet reveals that within himself there is diversity when he says to himself, “Let US make man in OUR image…” (Gen 1:26).

God has designed civil government to serve in the fulfillment of the first commandment to tend the earth which God has placed under man’s care (Romans 13:1-4; Genesis 1:26,27,28).  This involves a number of legitimate functions, some of which Jesus acknowledged directly, the most familiar being the payment of legitimate taxes in “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…”  He also recognized limits on civil authority in the remainder of that statement “… but unto God the things that are God’s.”  There are limits on Cesar’s power and there are human responsibilities that no civil authority can usurp.

One of the limits of power has to do with the geography of its jurisdiction, its civil borders.  The existence of civil governments implies boundaries, otherwise there would be no way to determine where one government’s power ends and another’s begins.  By acknowledging the legitimacy of civil government, Jesus is acknowledging the proper determination of boundaries.

Since Jesus often referred to the Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament, as his authoritative guide to truth by saying “it is written”.  A quick glance of the four Gospels in the New Testament reveals 21 occurrences.  In addition to that, he often references the Old Testament narrative in various ways and appeals to the scriptures to establish his teachings and to answer his opponents who have created a whole new set of laws which he rejects.  So if Jesus continually refers to the scriptures without ever contradicting them, we can safely say that the opinion we find in the Old Testament is his opinion as well.  Not to mention the fact that, as the “word of God,” they are from him as the expression of his own mind who is the original and uncreated “Word of God” (John 1).

What does the Old Testament say about borders?  It says, “Do not illegally move a property boundary marker” (Proverbs 22:28).  This shows not only the legitimacy of establishing boundaries but to the importance of protecting private property.  Jesus also directly affirmed his belief in private property on many occasions.  I won’t burden you with a list here, but his acknowledgement of the 8th Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” should be sufficient for these purposes.

In addition, when God gave the land we now know as Israel to Abraham for him and his descendants, he laid out the borders.  Jesus would have believed this was a divine appointment and so would have acknowledged the legitimacy of borders.  In addition, within Israel, each of the Twelve Israeli tribes had their own designated territory.

We can find other references where Jesus specifically recognized boundaries of cities and territories.  Lines that determine the boundaries of the authority and responsibility of governmental entities are a necessity in order to determine whether a government is properly fulfilling its responsibilities or whether it is meddling inappropriately in the affairs of others.

In closing, I’ll go back to where we began, the last book in the Bible in the very last chapter.   The scripture speaks, in a number of places (Isaiah 65 and 66, as well as in I Peter 3), of a future where the Heavens and Earth will be remade and will be inhabited by the righteous, those who are righteous by virtue of their creation, the angels, and those who are righteous by virtue of redemption through Christ, redeemed humanity.  In that future perfected world, there will be nations.  I say this because, in Revelation 22 we read about a kind of tree that will be planted there whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations.”  Then we will understand what fully healed nations are like and how they should relate to one another to the blessing of all.  I’m looking forward to that day.  There will be no border disputes but there will be borders, even if not physical ones.  There will be certain functions that some nations will fill that others will not.  Until that time comes, in this present fallen world, physical boundaries are needed.

L. H.

The Significance of Penticost

Since today is Pentecost Sunday as traditionally celebrated by the church, I’ve been considering its significance.  Initially a Jewish feast established under Moses, Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost is reckoned by counting 50 days from the Feast of Firstfruits (7 weeks and a day).  According to Leviticus 23: 15, Pentecost (meaning fiftieth in Greek) occurs 50 days after Firstfruits on the day after the 7th Sabbath following.  That means Firstfruits always occurs on a Sabbath and Pentecost always falls on a Sunday. (When I google the Jewish feast dates, they vary each year and do not fall on Sunday. I haven’t figured that out yet because Leviticus seems pretty clear. “Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath…”)

God’s fingerprints are all over this in the numbers of days related to this event.  This strengthens the testimony of His satisfaction with the Firstfruits offering which was declared openly on Pentecost when He released the supply of fullness of the Spirit to the church.

Notice:

  • Pentecost is seven weeks plus one day from Firstfruits:
    • Seven times seven (7 x 7 = 49), seven being the biblical number of completion or perfection, indicates God’s full satisfaction with the sacrifice that brought forth the initial harvest and the end of the Law as a means of establishing righteousness.  The resurrection of Jesus, who could not be held by the grave because death had no claim on him since he died not for his own sins but for the sins of others, occurred on the first day of the week, the day after the weekly Sabbath of Passover week.
    • Adding an additional day to the completion of the 7th week adds an 8thday.  Eight is the biblical number of new beginnings. For example:
      • Noah and his family were 8, saved by the flood from the corruption of the world, which gave the world a new beginning.
      • Jesus was raised on the first day of the week (the 8th day) which gives all who believe a new beginning.
  • The reckoning begins under the Law (Sabbath) and is fulfilled on the first day of the week, the 8th day/Sunday, under Grace.

According to Acts 2, in pouring out the Spirit on Pentecost, God declared the full satisfaction of the Law in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  He declared the establishment of His Kingdom and, by the release of the Spirit, established Christ-followers as true and effective witnesses of all He has done in redeeming us through the sacrifice, resurrection, and glorification of His Son.

Now let us fulfill Christ’s promise and calling in the power of the Spirit: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).

(Leviticus 23:9-22, esp 15; Acts 1:8, Acts 2:8, 22-25,30-33, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

LH

The Mistake That Cost Republicans the Election – And Which Can be Corrected

There are many things the Republicans should have done differently over the last several years that would likely have yielded a different result on November 6th. Knowing when, where, and how to take a stand is an admirable trait, but it is not one the Republicans have yet mastered. Too many times an all or nothing approach to critical issues has put them so far on the outs with the American public that they (we) are alienated from the majority of the electorate, and the trend seems to point to a continued lessening of influence rather than to any reversal of a weakened position.

That the Republicans could have lost the Presidential election against Barack Obama, with his colossal failure in the first four years to accomplish much of anything of a productive nature and in light of the continuing incredibly weak economy, is almost inconceivable. The narrowness of the popular vote margin (currently at 50.5% to 48.0%) means that every faction of society alienated by the Republicans is an element that made a significant contribution to this loss. There is one in particular, however, that may stand out above the rest as a colossal failure on the part of the Republican Party specifically, and conservatives in general. That is the failure to embrace and adopt George Bush’s immigration proposal of 2007. Failure to adopt, or to propose a viable alternative, and even more than that, the tone taken in arguing against it, served to alienate a large and growing segment of the populace and to frame the perception of the Republican Party as anti-Hispanic.

George Bush had greatly advanced the relationship with the Hispanic community during his Presidency, receiving the support of 44% of the Latino vote in 2004 according to CNN, significantly more than any of his Republican predecessors. This election, the Latino vote exceeded 10% of the total vote for the first time, and that number will surely be increasing in future elections.

George Bush’s Immigration Reform proposal was both responsible and compassionate. Hardheads shot it down by claiming it was “AMNESTY.” The effect on the electorate was to strengthen the idea that the Republicans don’t care about people. That is a lie, but it is a very real perception and I must say that sometimes it sounds true in some quarters. The stance taken on immigration that made no accommodation for people whom we had welcomed for decades, even against our own laws, seemed uncaring, and it was indeed unjust.

We had an agreement with the immigrants. I tried to raise this point to no avail when I subbed for a friend as a talk show guest on a Christian college radio station where the apparently rabidly anti-illegal immigration host was in high gear against any “amnesty” for illegals. For decades we had laws that espoused one thing and a culture that practiced something else. We had selective enforcement of our immigration laws that said loudly and clearly, “Come on over. We could use your help.” This in effect became a covenant with the people whom we welcomed. Over time, this practice established a kind of relationship and an understanding with them that should not have been taken lightly and which could not be justly reversed at once by new policies forbidding their presence and participation in our society.

There’s a biblical example that is instructive along these lines. The Lord forbad Israel to enter into covenant with the inhabitants of the land he had promised them through Abraham and which they were about to repossess under the leadership of Joshua. After their second battle with and the overwhelming defeat of Ai, the other kingdoms were forced of necessity to gather themselves together for battle against the new tribe. One group, however, the people of Gibeon, recognized another possibility that could insure them peace and avoid the necessity of doing battle with Israel. They conducted a ruse by which a small party of Gibeonites, pretending to be emissaries of a distant kingdom, had come to request a treaty with Israel because of the great exploits of which they had heard by Israel and Israel’s God. Israel’s leaders were fooled and they entered into a covenant which they were then obligated to honor, insuring Gibeon’s safety.  The lesson is that covenants made improperly may be no less binding than any other.

By our actions, we had an implied covenant with the illegal immigrants who had been lead to believe that, though we had laws prohibiting their presence, they were actually welcome and that the chances of them being able to make a new life in this land of opportunity was well worth any risk that they would take in becoming established here. For us to, all of a sudden, change our practice and pivot on a dime was unjust and revealed that we could not be trusted. For this to have been led by Republicans, meant that Republicans couldn’t be trusted. That Republicans can’t be trusted has resulted in the loss of one of the greatest opportunities we have ever had to re-establish our principles at the heart of government in the U.S., and this was a major factor in that loss.

To properly transition from what has been to what should be requires that a path be set to revise the previous pattern, and to give opportunity for those we had welcomed to either leave freely or obtain a rightful presence. Whether or not this is exactly George Bush’s reasoning, this is in effect what his proposal would have done.
Here are the essentials of George Bush’s Immigration Reform:

  •  Make the borders more secure.
  • Allow those who wish to return home to do so.
  • Allow those who wish to remain to apply for a work permit or residency.
  • Require those who remain to pay any back taxes owed.
  • Require those who remain to pay a reasonable penalty for having broken the laws that were on the books.
  • Create a reliable verification system whereby employers could confirm the legitimacy of any residency or citizenship claims of their employees and prospective hires.
  • Strictly enforce all immigration laws going forward, including and especially those related to hiring of illegal workers, with heavy fines and penalties for employers who violated them.

This was and is a reasonable and responsible proposal. It shows respect both for our laws, our borders, our system of justice, and for the value we place on humanity, especially the less fortunate.

At a time when illegal immigration is at a low ebb, due to the economic downturn which makes immigration less attractive, the Republican party should not wait on President Obama to introduce Immigration Reform, a promise he has failed on so far, and should not wait for a new crisis or new tensions to arise over immigration but should take the lead in establishing a system of reform that will convey both our respect for the law and that will reaffirm our love for our fellow man. Republicans should acknowledge our failure on this front and re-propose the Bush Immigration Reform.

LH

8 Recommendations for Governor Romney’s Monday Night Foreign Policy Debate

Here are 8 things the Governor should do and not do Monday night to demonstrate both President Obama’s incompetency and his own readiness to conduct Foreign Policy.

 

 

1)  Romney should not put all his eggs in the Benghazi basket.  Over focus can leave him looking weak on the broad scale.

2)  On Benghazi, it’s hard to hit a moving target, stick with the known facts – What actually happened? List conflicting reports given, and incompetencies exhibited by the Obama Administration.  Don’t be side-tracked by Obama’s next deflection; just say, “Well there’s another one.”

3)  Be ready with an answer on Syria that doesn’t send our troops or put our weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda.

4)  To demonstrate prudence, qualify answers with, “Based on the information I have at this time…”

5)  Chastise the President for his practice of shunning Netanyahu and stiff-arming Israel.  Emphasize lasting US commitment to Israel.

6)  Draw a parallel on the destabilization of the Middle East in Carter’s and Obama’s mishandling of Iran.  Lay out the path that prevents Iran from obtaining nukes.

7)  Tie Foreign Policy to Economic Recovery:  Promise to reestablish US leadership and dignity in the world, in part by unleashing the power of Free Enterprise, setting an example for the reduction of crushing debt and poverty.

8)  And last but not least, promise never to give a Head of State an iPod as a gift.

LH

The Coming Flood

 

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  (Habakkuk 2:14)

 

When will these days come?  Perhaps when the church is ready to steward the outpouring.  Just as the waters of Noah’s flood of devastation did not come until his boat was ready, this flood of renewal may not come until the church has prepared herself and the Kingdom of God to be ready to receive it.  Since the day of Pentecost, there have been many subsequent outpourings.  Some of them have had long and lasting influence and others have been gone almost as quickly as they came.  In part this seems to have depended upon the readiness of those on whom the Spirit fell.  In order to prepare for “the big one” we should earnestly seek to become that church of which the apostle spoke, the one that stands in “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Eph 4:13) and who makes known to the heavenly powers “the manifold wisdom of God.” (Eph 3:10).

Almost certainly we will need many lesser outpourings to prepare us for the greater one.  We will also need to change the way we see ourselves, the world around us, and of course, the one who made us and redeemed us.  Our current thought processes, our current level of devotion, our present approach to a life of faith, our approach to the world around us will not take us there.  We need a new way of thinking.  We must come to see Christ as Lord of All, not merely the religious realm.  We must see how His life and principles impact every aspect of life and we must learn to implement them in daily life.  We must learn to convey that truth to the world around us, not in a coercive way as rulers, but as servants.  We must both demonstrate and “teach all nations” the full breadth and scope of what it means to live in “all that he has taught us.” (Mat 28:18-20).

“ Repent (translated from the Greek metanoia: literally, to change the mind) therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,  that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,  whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things…” (Acts 3:19-21)

LH