Throwback Friday: A Tale of Two Shepherds

This essay first appeared on The End Time on November 17, 2011

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Prophecy of the Shepherds

sheep grazing at dawn

The LORD said to me, “Take again for yourself the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces.
“Woe to the worthless shepherd,
Who leaves the flock!
A sword shall be against his arm
And against his right eye;
His arm shall completely wither,
And his right eye shall be totally blinded.” (Zechariah 11:17).

That is the Antichrist. In Daniel 11:36 we see more about this foolish, worthless shepherd.

“Then the king [the foolish shepherd] will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.”

“Jesus said of this worthless shepherd, “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.” (John 5:43)

O, such blindness to reject the True Shepherd for a man of character so evil, so foolish, so worthless! What they gave up:

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11).

Look what He does for His sheep! “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25)

He is the Good Shepherd!

“Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:1-18)

You can be in the flock, cared for by the Overseer of Souls! You can be carried in the bosom of the One who lives in glory! If you repent of your sins and submit to the Shepherd, you will be.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:28)

Follow Him!

Glory to Jesus, the Highest!

“My Real Mom”

nine-kopfer-297655

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

As my day working in an elementary school goes along, I hear kids talking to each other. They chat in the halls coming in for the day, they talk in the gym as they await the opening bell, they talk at lunch and at recess… Sometimes I overhear snippets of what they share with each other as they pass me. What kids say is at turns funny, silly, or heartbreaking. This essay is about one particular phrase I overhear that just breaks my heart.

We all know that nuclear family depicted in The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie, for example, have expanded to include all manner of blended configurations. Divorce is rampant. People marry and divorce for all kinds of reasons, and some don’t even try to stick it out. If a set of parents stay together over the course of a child’s life, that is the miracle now. Divorce is a violent act.

Kids chatting with each other will say, if they have parents that are divorced and one or both spouses have remarried, for example,

My real mom is getting a new job
My real dad doesn’t live with us

They distinguish the step-parent from the original parent with that heartbreaking word “real.” Kids know. It’s true that nothing can ever, ever replace the real parent. I’m not talking about foster-child cases or adoption, though the lack of the biological parent in a child’s life will also leave wounds, but different ones than divorce. I do not mean to disrespect any step-parents. I know you work hard to provide a loving home for your blended family. It’s just that, the fact is, there is only one real mom, only one real dad. Divorce affects the children tremendously.

As for divorce being a violent act, I don’t mean that people act violently after a divorce because they are in turmoil. I mean that it’s a violent act because divorce itself is a violent act. In the secular world we know that divorces at best are almost always emotion-filled, bitter experiences. At worst, they are war. And it IS a war, in the flesh on earth, for booty (furniture) and for territory (house) and for captives (children.) It’s also a spiritual war in the celestial realms to directly attack one of the most important foundations Jesus laid down: the family. Let’s look at the language the Bible uses:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

Cleave is to adhere, cling, or stick fast. If you use wood glue and then after it dries, if you want to separate the two pieces that you made into one, you have to tear it apart by force, and they never come apart cleanly. There are splits in the wood, pits, damage.

The oft-used phrase during marriage vows, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” comes from Matthew 19:6 NIV. The World English Translation puts it this way: “So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” Tear apart. We see in Genesis that the man and woman (not man-man nor woman-woman) who are to be married cleave, stick, become ONE flesh. Splitting that apart causes damage because to separate something that has become one, into two, is violent. It requires tearing, pulling, splitting, cutting.

Marriage is a covenant between three people: man, woman, God. A covenant is an eternal promise, a sacred thing. God discusses it here, “You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. (Malachi 2:14). Satan hates any and all Godly covenants. Therefore marriage and the family become prime targets for satan’s evil will to be done

So why is divorce so violent? Satan is behind it. God said: “I hate divorce…” (Malachi 2:16). What God loves, satan hates. What God hates, satan loves.

John MacArthur on the scriptures regarding divorce:

In Matthew 19, Jesus states that God ordained the institution of marriage, and He has decreed that in every marriage, the husband and wife are to become one for life. Divorce destroys the marriage and thus breaks asunder a union God Himself has established (Mark 10:9). “I hate divorce,” says the Lord (Mal. 2:16). Jesus’ teaching on divorce is clear. He restricted divorce under most circumstances, and He forbade the remarriage of those who divorce on improper grounds, calling such remarriage adultery (Matthew 5:32). … So God’s utter hatred of divorce is very clear in Scripture. Nonetheless, there are two extraordinary cases in which Scripture teaches that God does permit divorced people to remarry.

Those cases are if the spouse commits adultery and if the unbelieving spouse abandons the believer. (1 Corinthians 7:14). That’s it. God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16).

When two people are united, they become one flesh. Ripping apart one flesh back into two is painful and creates wounds, deep wounds. It seems strange in my 58 years of life I’ve watched divorce go from a stigma whispered about to an almost respectable sin, as Jerry Bridges had termed the so-called lighter sins, such as gossip or worry.

We Christians talk a lot about homosexuality, and also hammer on about pre-marital sex. But divorce is an event that occurs under the umbrella of sins, too. So many casually divorced people sit in the pews, remarried to boot, with few words said about this sin. If a believing spouse has divorced for a reason not listed above, he is in sin. If a spouse has remarried after a spiritually illegal divorce, he remains in sin.

Someday, children will not describe their family as having ‘a real mother’ or ‘a real father’. Divorce is a sin. It is also a violent act that directly contradicts the standards for moral behavior Jesus set forth.

If your marriage is on the rocks, Jesus can heal it. He ordained it, He witnessed it, and He keeps you in His fold. As His sheep, He has already regenerated your heart once from pagan to Christian. He can help you two get back on track and re-ignite your covenant love for one another. Here is a page of testimonies and resources of couples who had been on the brink of divorce, but who are thriving as a united couple now.

Further Reading

To a Spouse Considering Divorce

How Should a Christian View Marriage and Divorce?

Why Does God Hate Divorce?

Left Behind in Labrador

Youtube offers endless hours of entertainment for those wanting a brief escape. My cousin posts a positive and humorous vlog every day, which I enjoy watching. Then I might browse videos showing funny antics of children or animals.

One Vlogger I enjoy is Don’s Family Vacations, who focuses a lot on tips for cruisers. I don’t enjoy traditional large ship cruising, but I enjoy his tips anyway. He’s kind, engaging, and the information about the Cruise Ships is interesting.

He stresses in several of his vlogs that the Cruise Ship always leaves on time. If you attend an off-ship excursion, be sure to arrive back at the dock before they take in the gangway and cast off. They will leave you behind.

This is from Cruise Critic:

Far be it from us to take joy from another’s misery, but we admit there’s something inherently amusing about passengers sprinting the length of the dock — often to the mocking cheers of those already onboard — when they realize they’re late getting back to their cruise ship. Usually these aptly named “pier runners” are lucky. They throw themselves across the gangway, and the doors close behind them. Others, however, aren’t so fortunate. Mistakes happen, in spite of the best-laid plans; if you find yourself still on dry land while your ship is sailing off into the sunset, it’s not the end of the world. Check out our tips and advice for how to avoid missing your ship, how to prepare in case you do miss it and what to do if your cruise ship leaves you behind.

Sometimes I go on Youtube to watch short vlogs of people running to catch the ship, always in vain. I look at the pier runners as the ship steams away, thinking about their predicament of being in a foreign country without resource. It must be scary to arrive from your excursion to an empty, deserted pier! Cruise Critic did say,

What must those people with unfortunate timing think? How awful to be left behind. According to Don of Don’s Family Vacations, they must somehow get home using their own money and resources. Once the passenger has missed the ship, the Cruise Line is not responsible for them any longer.

I laughed along with the  observers in these videos, until I remember that once, I’d been a pier runner too!

My husband and I took a cruise that wasn’t a cruise. We traveled as passengers aboard an icebreaker/ferry/cargo ship in Upper Quebec and Labrador. (Relais Nordik). At that time, there were few roads connecting the villages that dotted the shoreline of this large Province, and the boat acted as ferry, mail boat, grocery delivery, and human transportation from one port to another. In between the towns after Sept-Iles, there was only tundra.

Back in the 1990s when we were aboard, conditions were primitive. The sole aim of the ship was to transport cargo and passengers, not to cater to people boarding the boat as a cruiser. We slept in a quadruple bunk room, ate with the crew, and played cards or watched the scenery because there were no on-board activities. Now, the Ship has nicer cabins for people who want to take the route as a cruising passenger, they suggest shore excursions, and provide dinner seatings with set tables and everything! It’s still rough and tumble though. The ship is still mainly a ferry. Due to variable and potentially rough conditions, the cruise line disclaims a specific return time shorter than a 36-48 hour window, lol.

The run went from Rimouski to Blanc-Sablon, and included Anticosti Island

I collect shells. At one stop, we walked the beach and I noticed that Canada grows some giant scallops! The shells cast up on the beach were 3 to 4 inches across. I got absorbed looking at all the shells on the beach. I saw some species I’d never been able to collect, and there were other species I wasn’t familiar with. Time passed.

Gradually I noticed that it was quiet. Too quiet. Everyone had left! Oh no!

I ran as fast as my short legs could go, and I saw the ship with engines on and lines casting off. The crew was trying to take in the gangway but my husband was standing on it and wouldn’t let them. I got up there and ran up the ramp and they withdrew the gangway and we were off. That was a close one!

They said that on this route, if we’re left behind, we’re supposed to knock on doors of the few homes until one of the homeowners takes pity on you and lets you sleep there till the ship is on the return route. When the ship returns you can get back on and resume your journey. Depending on where the ship left you behind, it may be 2-4 days until it returns.

As I hustled up to the ship I was wondering what I would do if I was left behind. I had a nasty knot in my stomach and I was breathing hard, and it wasn’t just from the running! I was almost left behind to dwell in a unfamiliar land

It makes me wonder even more about the people who will be left behind when the real ship sails. The real ship I’m talking about is the Ship of State, the Church. Paul said in Romans 11:25,

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,

The term ‘full number’ is from the Greek pleroo, and means full number, completeness. The word was usually used in reference to a ship and its full number of crew. Admiralty law at the time banned any ship from sailing until the full number of necessary sailors were staffed to man it.

What will it feel like to be left behind for those people in the world who aren’t saved, and have some familiarity with Christianity? Maybe they’ve heard someone give the Gospel, or know of the rapture and left behind from the books or movies. The devastating feeling the cruiser has in the pit of their stomach when they’ve been left behind at the pier will be magnified a million-fold. You’ve been left behind on earth. There will be no running to catch the ship, for it will disappear in the blink of an eye. One moment here, the next…gone.

There is a solution that will ensure your participation in the rapture. When it sails will it have you in it? The solution is to repent of your sins. Ask Jesus to forgive them, and lay your life down at His feet. Once you trust in Jesus as the Savior King, then He will consider you not an enemy any more but a sheep in his fold.

Don’t be a pier runner.

Here are some fictionalized versions of what the rapture might look like.

Is it OK for Christians to be vegetarians/vegans?

I receive questions from time to time and usually answer them via email. This was on a topic not often raised (in my sphere) so I thought I’d answer it here as well as having answered the person individually.

Q. I have a question.

Lately I have been reading about health benefits of eating primarily vegetables and eliminating or reducing meats and dairy from a person’s diet. I listened to one of John Macarthur’s sermons on seducing spirits from 1 Timothy 4, and it does say everything God created is good.

Meat and dairy seem to be linked to many of the diseases we have in this country and western civilization. For health reasons is it ok for a Christian to refrain from certain foods?

I would think we are free to choose based on health reasons, but 1 Tim 4 says everything God created is good. So I wonder.

A. Thank you for your question and for your long readership of my blog! I appreciate both so much.

collage
The 1 Timothy 4 verse mentioned above is in verse 1-5,

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

The false teachers were forcing an asceticism on the Ephesians that the Bible doesn’t command or even suggest. The John MacArthur Study Bible note says,

The false teachers’ asceticism contradicted scripture, which teaches that since God created both marriage and food, (Genesis 1:28-31, 2:18-24, 9:3) they are intrinsically good (Genesis 1:31). and to be enjoyed with gratitude by believers. Obviously food and marriage are essential to life and procreation.

The point was, no one has the right to force an asceticism on anyone, and all foods should be gratefully received because when God made them, they were good.

In Acts 10:10-15 God declared all foods clean, meaning the dietary restrictions placed on the Israelites was lifted.

On the more practical side of things, everything God created was good. Key detail: was. In the original creation, everything was perfect. When Man sinned and fell from grace, pollution and death entered the world. Botulism, salmonella, e coli, and other diseases cause us to select and prepare food very carefully. Our compromised human immune systems and tendency toward disease means we have to watch what we eat, especially if we have been diagnosed with celiac disease, diabetes, or other food-related conditions..

It falls to an individual’s Christian conscience as to what foods you would like to consume and how clean the conditions are when you prepare it.

I myself refrain from eating meat for both financial and taste reasons. I’m also a celiac and so for health reasons have to restrict gluten from my diet. There are many reasons one may want to restrict certain foods from their diet.

Because food restrictions are not prohibited nor commanded in the New Testament for NT believers, it falls in the gray area of Christian liberty. Even within these matters where there are no details, the Bible gives guidance.

Paul wrote about the law of liberty in Romans 14 and one of his examples was food. See the verses below.

For one man has faith to eat all things, while another, who is weak, eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Rom 14:2-4.

In his example of those who eat only vegetables being ‘weak’, don’t worry, he is not saying vegetarianism is a character flaw, lol. The context is one where the Christian who was refraining from eating meat was afraid to get involved in eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. That’s no longer an issue since even the last remnants of the sacrificial system have dwindled away.

1 Timothy 4:3 says, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Here we see that food only becomes an issue when someone holding to some kind of authority imposes restrictions upon another. This is wrong, for God declared all foods clean. (Acts 10:15-16).

So if the question is one of personal conscience, health, or desire, and is not biblically forbidden, then not eating meat becomes a question of individual liberty, i.e. individual choice. As long as we’re not doing something that might cause a weaker brother to stumble, or judging someone by what they do/don’t eat, and we’re not violating a biblical prescription, then we may eat or not eat as one feels is physically wise and spiritually acceptable.

It’s worth noting that in the original creation, man was a vegetarian. He will be again in the future Millennial Kingdom.

Here is a resource John MacArthur recommended on the topic of dietary restrictions for the Israelites,

There’s an excellent paperback book called None of These Diseases, a little paperback by Dr. S.I. McMillen. Some of you may have read it. It’s very helpful in telling you why God gave Israel many of their laws regarding communicable diseases and dietary laws and what they could eat and so forth and so on.

Here is Ligonier Ministry with an essay on Christian Liberty guiding the believer when it comes to gray areas-

4 Principles for the Exercise of Christian Liberty

Friends, weigh in. What has been your experience with eating or not eating certain foods? (a different topic from the spiritual discipline of fasting)

Comments welcome below.

Physics and the Bible

Men have been yearning to learn of the mysteries of life, the universe, and our world since the beginning. Genesis 4:20-22 recounts the start of livestock husbandry, musical instrument making, and metal forging. By Genesis 11:3-4, not long after the Flood, people were building with the invention of bricks and mortar. They were also once again rejecting God and substituting their own selves for the deity as had occurred in Genesis 3.

This sinful attitude has never abated. In Romans 1:23 we read that man ‘exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.’

Man sees himself as God and as such he looks for answers within himself, using his own capabilities, never acknowledging that life itself is a gift from above, as is power (John 19:11) and even the conscience. (Isaiah 30:21, Romans 2:15).

But that doesn’t stop today’s scientists for looking for answers in all the wrong places. Or, they look for answers to the big questions of life in the right places, but fail to see or acknowledge God as the originator, author, architect, and ultimate Source.

Answers to the deep mysteries of life are not scientific, because they are supernatural, being originated from God. Science can only go so far.

I love science and I see God’s fingerprints all over it. The Bible is not a book of science, but it is a book of answers. If you have a biblical worldview, science fits right in. It’s the secular worldview that makes scientists perplexed when things don’t fit in, because they look, but do not see. (Matthew 13:13).

The BBC Documentary Atom is a multi-part series narrated by British physicist Jim al-Khalili. He makes particle physics and quantum physics understandable. Well, he makes a lot of it clear, lol, but not all of it is clear in my puny mind. That doesn’t matter, because where I fail to make connections scientifically, I can see the answers biblically. And that’s enough.

Example #1.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about. Early in the series, the narrator is describing the scientists’ upset of discovering that everything is made up of atoms. Then they got more upset learning that atoms are (seemingly) mainly empty space.

1957 atom. Source

If you picture a football field, with the center being the nucleus, and a soccer ball rolling around the edge of it, that’s the proportional distance. How does the electron know to remain in orbit around its designated nucleus? Why doesn’t it dance off to another location, and what holds it there? These questions were posed in the documentary. There is a scientific answer. But also, there is a biblical answer.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17.

Jesus holds the electrons in their place.

Example #2.

In this section of the documentary, al-Khalili explains how genius Paul Dirac sought the unification solution before Feynman came up with it. Dirac is quoted as saying “a physical theory must have mathematical beauty”. The disparity between special relativity and quantum mechanics was not just inconvenient to Dirac, it was downright ugly.

The soul thirsts for God and not just a utilitarian God. We intuitively understand that God is orderly. His perfections include symmetry, and beauty. If the world emerged from a bang and chaos, why did it evolve to produce such beauty everywhere? The universe must be harmonious, it just seems right to believe this, as Dirac was sure of.

As RC Sproul explained in his lesson titled Recovering the Beauty of the Arts,

Will our art be beautiful or ugly? Harmonious or cacophonous? Orderly or chaotic? Once we see that God is the foundation of Beauty, since He Himself is Beauty, we shall see that God is the ultimate artist. He spoke and worlds were created. His word of order triumphed over the chaotic abyss present in Genesis 1:2. Any example of creation points to His majestic artistry.

God made the worlds beautiful and pronounced it all good. Dirac’s quest for a harmonious resolution of all things is an innate understanding that beauty comes from the Originator of it, God Himself. Not just colors and such, but even the laws of nature are beautiful, harmonious, and elegant.

Example #3.

One issue that the documentary raised is that the laws operate differently when looking at the grand things in Einstein’s special relativity and at the small world of quantum mechanics. Space and time laws operate differently than the laws at the small level as the atom. It drove Einstein crazy that the physical laws at the macro and the micro were different. Physicists try to reconcile these two in a unification theory, which they think they have reached. This unifying theory is called quantum electrodynamics (QED) “and is the first theory where full agreement between quantum mechanics and special relativity is achieved.”

In a third example from Atom, Dirac sought his unification theory through his mathematical equations, and discovered something stunning. al-Khalili said, “Another universe exists where we never noticed before. There is a mirror image to our universe, where properties are reversed. For every particle that can exist, there is a corresponding antiparticle with the same mass, but exactly the same in every other way- a mirror of the universe.”

I don’t understand Dirac’s equation above, and I have a hard time understanding matter and antimatter. But biblically I do understand a parallel universe. Think of the Transfiguration. Peter, John, and James are atop Mt Olive with Jesus, and when Jesus is transfigured, He is suddenly talking with Moses and Elijah, who have appeared out of nowhere.

And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. (Matthew 17:3).

Or of Elisha’s chariots-

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17).

Note that as the two men appeared, they were already talking with Jesus. Jesus exists in all places at once- He is omnipresent. Heaven is that alternate universe Dirac and other scientists have discovered. It is next to us, close, somewhere in a parallel dimension. When we die, our bodies remain here, but our soul goes there. A multiverse does exist, one that’s here and one that’s there where the dead go. Who are living. Matter and antimatter? I don’t know, but I am sure the two worlds, exist, not because of an equation, but because Jesus told us there was.

In a fourth example from Atom, physicist Richard Feynman pushed the envelope further than Dirac. He played a large part in developing the next phase of quantum mechanics. Like Dirac’s antimatter equation before, the intent of Feynman’s new theory was unification. He aimed to explain how everything works, through the electromagnetic field. Once again, the theory is called quantum-electrodynamics, or QED.

Feynman diagram

QED is difficult to understand, said Feynman. Even he didn’t understand it, he said. But at root, it explains that empty space isn’t empty. Even in a vacuum, there is stuff and the stuff is heaving with activity. Atoms borrow energy from the future, and pay it back again very quickly. This exchange is repeated billions of times with many matter and antimatter particles being created and destroyed very quickly. But what it tells physicists is that ultimately the activity of these electrons popping in and out of existence, are simply leftovers of a deeper more permanent reality.

Yes. That’s called heaven. ‘Empty space’ is seething with energy we can’t feel and particles we can’t see. For example, angels both holy and unholy are spirit beings, but pop into physical existence. Somehow. The deeper, more permanent reality is the one that’s there, after death. The reality we experience in this temporary tent called a fleshly body is the impermanent one.

A final unification of these two realities that the physicists feverishly seek, will be completed after the universe is melted in a fervent heat and remade. (2 Peter 3:10). Life in heaven that’s going on now with Jesus, the angels, and dead souls, and life on earth, with living people breathing and working and consciously producing what they (we) believe is finite reality, will unite.

To conclude this journey through physics and the Bible, Physicist Hendrik Casimir discovered that in that so-called empty space, there exists a mysterious force that eventually, for example pull two inert metal plates together. Like the wind that pushes the sails of a boat, the stuff that emptiness is made of is pushing the metal plates together. This is called the Casimir Effect. al-Khalili said of the Casimir Effect,

“The fact that nothingness, real emptiness, could exert a small force, is surely one of nature’s greatest magic tricks.” ~Jim al-Khalili, Atom, part 3

The biblical view of this is not that a force that connects all things is a magic trick, but that it is the scriptures explaining God to us.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. (Hebrews 1:3).

The Bible is not a book of science, but it is a book of answers. Where physicists are stumped, or marvel at mysteries, or deem the foundational properties of God’s work as a magic trick, we understand that He revealed Himself to us through His creation. It is wonderful that men seek to understand through harmonies of art, music,and science, but ultimately the answers are contained in God’s mind, and insofar as He has revealed some answers to us, we can and should read them in His word. Where science fails, and it does, many times, we believers have the knowledge of Him who created all things, and is before all things. Sadly, peering into the great mysteries didn’t bring Dirac closer to God, it actually hardened him into worshiping the creature instead.

If we are honest — and scientists have to be — we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can’t for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. ~Paul Dirac, Fifth Solvay International Conference (October 1927)

Dirac’s fundamental belief, as he answered a student’s question, was not that there is an intelligent God who made all things and upholds all things, but that

 the laws of nature should be expressed in beautiful equations.

Dirac was a genius, who advanced our understanding of how the universe works in measurable and interesting ways, but he is dead now. Now he knows the truth. He has the answers, but they are not helping him in any way.

Jesus is the answer, He is before all things.

For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)

Praise, for kings will shut their mouths

Chris Powers at fullofeyes.com and on Patreon, recently created this illustration based on an Isaiah verse. We praise the Lord for all His ways, not just on Sundays but every day.

He was, and is, and is to come.

Illustrator and artist Chris Powers wrote:

Isaiah 52:15, “…he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.”

May it be so…..

Below you can read the string of thoughts from my journal that led me to this text in Isaiah and, eventually, to today’s picture.
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Surely there is at no time a divorce between the Son’s outer form or experience and His revelation of the Father. Surely, the Son is no less the perfect image and radiance of God’s glory when He is stripped and beaten than when He is transfigured in splendor. Surely, the face shining like the sun in full strength and the face marred beyond human recognition are both the face in which we see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God….and no less in one than in the other.

Or perhaps, in our present state, there is less we can see in one….in the face that shines like the sun, we can see nothing….our eyes are overwhelmed, our faces turn away and hide…….But when that same resplendence clothes itself with flesh…and submits that flesh to be beaten and torn and wounded in the place of enemies….then….then we know what we could not know before. Then we shut our mouths for wonder because that which had not been told to us, we can now see, and that which we had not heard, we understand….

kings

Pleading for a reduced charge

People who are unsaved have a list of charges against them. These are the sins (crimes) they have committed against Jesus during their lifetime. At the end of time, Jesus will assemble all the unsaved and judge them. The judgment is not whether or not they will be going to heaven or hell. The one and only standard against which people are judged is whether they believed in the Son.

They will be judged on their crimes. God keeps track.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12).

For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)

This is not just a New Testament concept. It is in the Old Testament too, seen in the eschatological book of Daniel.

A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. (Daniel 7:10).

Unsaved people are judged according to their deeds they did in life, and their words, and their thoughts. (Luke 8:17, Romans 2:16, Matthew 12:37).

The sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds. (Revelation 20:13).

John MacArthur said of this verse,

The record, by the way, for each person will be unique and so will the punishment. That’s an important thing to think about. Hell is not like some great big hole where everybody gets thrown into the same place with the same level of torment. No. Every person’s life will be evaluated uniquely and every person’s punishment will be consistent with that unique evaluation.
For example, and I need to explain this cause it’s very important to understand there are degrees of punishment consistent with degrees of sinfulness. … So there is a more and a less tolerable punishment, fitting the level of sin.

Knowing this, all this foundation I just laid, that we’re judged on our deeds, thoughts, and words, and that the punishment corresponds in relativity to other how many crimes they committed, let’s turn now to two other verses.

And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60).

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His garments by casting lots. (Luke 23:34).

What does this mean? I’m sorry that after looking at the scriptures and many commentaries, I do not have an answer. I don’t know how this plea turns out in the heavenlies. But my thoughts are, if punishment is relative, and if we plead with God to forgive a sinner’s sin against us, would He remove that sin from their charge, reducing the severity of the punishment by a jot or a tittle? Stephen prayed so. Jesus did as well. It’s worth thinking about.

You’ve heard, no doubt, in the earthly judicial system about a reduced charge. You’ve seen lawyers on TV plea bargaining and listing the charges and then the judge might decide to remove a charge or two and the person serves a sentence with a lesser degree of punishment. There legal terms are familiar to to you.

Recently the adult son of a well-known theologian-pastor was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors. When it came time for sentencing they decided to forego a trial. The judge wiped one felony and two misdemeanors from the list of this man’s charges and the man was only charged with one misdemeanor. He’s serving 18 months of probation and no jail time. Some charges were removed and thus the punishment was lessened.

Jesus commanded in the Lord’s prayer to forgive those who trespass against us. Is it too bold to plea that He remove the charge of those who trespassed against us from their list of crimes thus lessening their punishment? Stephen did not think it too bold. Does God actually do so if we pray it? I do not know.

I do know that when I pray for my enemies, and specifically for God to remove the charge of their crimes against me from the list of crimes which we know are ultimately perpetrated against Him, it is a prayer of grace and humility that changes me.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 4:3).

Can I forgive as God asked us to forgive? Can I pray this as Stephen had? If I think of others more highly than myself, I will.

Gill’s Exposition says of the Acts 7 verse and Stephen:

Lord, lay not this sin to their charge: do not impute it to them, or place it to their account; let it not rise and stand in judgment against them, or they be condemned for it; grant them forgiveness for it, and for every other sin: there is a great deal of likeness between Christ and this first martyr of his at their deaths; Christ committed his Spirit into the hands of his Father, and Stephen commits his into the hands of Christ; both prayed for forgiveness for their enemies; and both cried with a loud voice before they expired; for so it follows here,

Pray for your enemies, for those who have done you wrong. God will dole out the punishment as He wills, the Lord knows, I do not know. But meanwhile, we grow in grace when we think of others more highly than ourselves, even our enemies, and plead with the Lord to remove this charge from their list of deeds and not hold it against them.

angel lamb's book of life