Posted in theology

Loyalty: An almost forgotten virtue

By Elizabeth Prata

Loyalty. How often do we hear that word these days? Not so much. How often do we see it displayed these days? Even less.

Loyalty is defined as “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.”

In my growing up days, the 1960s, in the business world loyalty was everything. The employee worked all their working lives for a business, say, IBM, and in return the company was loyal to the employee. The atmosphere was like a family and the employee worked until the then-retirement age of 65. At the end when retirement loomed, the employee received a thank you and a retirement dinner and a gift of a gold watch. Loyalty was a thing.

Nowadays, we have job jumpers all over the place. Whenever an employee believes a better opportunity lay elsewhere, they think nothing of hopping over to it. While it is normal to seek a better opportunity, few people realize the heavy financial investment a business makes in an employee to train them, pay them, insure them, and offer benefits to them. Thoughtless departures for a transitory better opportunity is normal in this new millennium.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of jobs held during a lifetime for younger baby boomers (born between 1957 and 1964) has greatly increased. On average, men will have 12.6 jobs whereas women will have 12.3. It used to be just a few jobs, 3 or 4.

On the other hand, loyalty from the company to the employee has also diminished. Too often we tragically read of middle managers being fired while top managers reap financial rewards with fat salaries and cushy benefits. Or long-term employees being fired just before tenure is available or just as retirement looms.

In friendship, loyalty often evaporates too. When the chips are down, people you thought were your firm friends are nowhere to be found. Paul said that his friends deserted him-

2 Timothy 4:16, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them.”

Barnes’ Notes says of the 2 Timothy 4:16 verse,

“No man stood with me – Paul had many friends in Rome (2 Timothy 4:21; compare Romans 16); but it seems that they did not wish to appear as such when he was put on trial for his life. They were doubtless afraid that they would be identified with him, and would endanger their own lives. It should be said that some of the friends of the apostle, mentioned in Romans 16, and who were there when that Epistle was written, may have died before the apostle arrived there, or, in the trials and persecutions to which they were exposed, may have left the city. Still, it is remarkable that those who were there should have all left him on so trying an occasion. But to forsake a friend in the day of calamity is not uncommon, and Paul experienced what thousands before him and since have done. Thus, Job was forsaken by friends and kindred in the day of his trials; see his pathetic description in Job 19:13-17;”

He hath put my brethren far from me,
And mine acquaintance verily are estranged from me.
My kinsfolk have failed,
And my familiar friends have forgotten me.
They that dwell in my house, and my maids,
Count me for a stranger.
I am an alien in their sight.
I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I entreated him with my mouth.
My breath is strange to my wife.
Though I entreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.

“Thus, the Psalmist was forsaken by his friends in the time of calamity; Psalm 35:12-16Psalm 38:2Psalm 41:9Psalm 55:12. And thus the Saviour was forsaken in his trials; Matthew 26:56; compare, for illustration, Zechariah 13:6. The world is full of instances in which those who have been overtaken by overwhelming calamities, have been forsaken by professed friends, and have been left to suffer alone.” end Barnes Notes

“To forsake a friend in the day of calamity is not uncommon” – Albert Barnes on 2 Timothy 4:16

On the plus side, we do read in the Bible of great loyalty. Eliezar was Abraham’s servant. They were tight. Abraham was so sure of Eliezar’s loyalty, he sent him abroad to find a wife for Isaac. He was SO sure of it that he considered Eliezar would continue to be loyal even after Abraham had passed away, considering him his heir.

Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi was such that she stuck with Naomi even though Naomi was sour, difficult, and traveling to a new place under a new-to-Ruth God. Jonathan was loyal to David under extremely adverse circumstances.

Social capital is real. It is the value of the positive relationships shared among people. It is founded on trust, reciprocity, mutual understanding through committed relationships. I don’t mean just love relationships, but workplace relationships, friendships, relations among club members, sports teams etc. It’s about human sociability – our ability to work together and to solve complex problems, and to form the groups that make up society. People accumulate social capital by investing in people, listening, caring, involving. If you borrow tools from your neighbor and he borrows them from you, your social capital has been established because your relationship is based on trust and reciprocity.

Some people have more social capital than others, they are regarded as “pillars of society”. These folks are seen as trustworthy (relational capital), or wise (intellectual capital) or useful (having expertise). Have you ever noticed when a group is together, say, trying to solve a problem or brainstorm, and everyone is gabbing all at once, but when one certain person begins to speak everyone stops talking to listen to them? They have a greater amount of social capital.

But what if something happens to damage the person’s reputation?

Social capital can be very easily destroyed. It can take a long time to build social capital through repeat positive actions and interactions, but it can be destroyed by a single action. Generally social capital is lost or damaged by anything that reduces feelings of goodwill or disrupts networks. Any action that is antisocial. Anything that makes people feel less social, sharing, giving, or caring towards their fellow humans. These actions could be things like a betrayal of trust, selfish acts, perceived indifference or exclusion, violence or threat of violence, or deceit or deception. Source

THAT is when loyalty is tested. If a colleague was in hot water with the boss, would you publicly stick with her? (Hypothetical situations among believers- we don’t expect loyalty from unbelievers, they love the world, like Demas). We often edge away when someone we know has done something antisocial, or even just made a faux pas. We don’t want to be associated with them, lest our own reputation be damaged, too.

We often speak of Christian persecution, of being martyred for the faith. Or even lawsuits against us or our business, or being jailed. Big, traumatic things.

Those things are surely difficult trials, but God has not appointed hard persecution to everyone. But everyone in the faith makes decisions every day that either enhance or hinder our walk. Making these little decisions on how and when to uphold our testimony is the walk. Satan tries to influence us bit by bit to lower our standards where they’re important. Eventually, these little compromises add up.

For example, if someone you know at work or at a club or other gathering, even church, has fallen into hot water, do you edge away? Do you decide, ‘hm I’ll walk down the other hallway so I won’t run into them and have to talk to them.’ ‘I don’t want to be seen with them so I’ll make up an excuse to get out of our weekly coffee gathering…’ It’s ridiculously easy to fool our own conscience, but we don’t fool God.

Are you a loyal friend only when it’s all good vibes? What about bad vibes times?
Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

In secular society we may have accumulated social capital, but in God’s economy we are all equal at the foot of His cross. We love without reservation and through thick and thin. Our loyalty should be steadfast. When we are loyal to our believing friends, co-workers, family, we are not only being loyal to them. We are being loyal to the Savior in them.

Was it easy for Ruth, Jonathan, or Paul’s friends to stick with him? Not at all. In fact, loyalty to Paul must have made more than one of his friends re-think being with him. It is human nature to look to self-preservation first. In Acts 14 after they dragged Paul out and left him for dead, he rose up and went back in, lol. Then Barnabas loyally stuck with Paul and the next day they both went to Derbe.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

Soon we will have to make more and more decisions like these. We may not all be destined for martyrdom or even jailing for the Name. But as the world’s noose tightens it comes against us in a thousand smaller ways. Will you be loyal to your friend in the face of unpalatable circumstances? Will you visit her in jail?Will you continue to support her in love even though her reputation suffers badly? Will you sit with her in the pew?

A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24). Barnes’ Notes says

It is not the multitude of so called friends that helps us. They may only embarrass and perplex. What we prize is the one whose love is stronger and purer even than all ties of kindred.

Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times. Will you be a loyal friend to a sinner? Because, you are a sinner too.

Posted in theology

Ladies to avoid: Some Discernment essays

By Elizabeth Prata

A couple of days ago, Allie Beth Stuckey spoke a good word summarizing her Episode 749 of podcast Relatable. She said the overt demonic visuals of the recent Grammy Awards dance (let the reader understand) is dangerous, but more dangerous is the soft teaching of women like Jen Hatmaker or Glennon Doyle. Listen to her teaser summary here or the whole episode here.

This week also, Amy Spreeman & Michelle Lesley at A Word Fitly Spoken in their recent February 8 segment called The Pew, warned against Jennie Allen and her organization called IF:Gathering.

This reminds me that I’ve done several essays about these women and what they teach. I always forget to unearth my previous blogs for your consideration. I should circulate them more. So with that in mind, I thought this might be a good time to unearth them and present them to you in conjunction with good reminders from Allie Beth, Amy, and Michelle.

Do listen to Allie Beth’s explanation of why teaching like Hatmaker’s or Doyle’s is so dangerous. Are we not warned in the very third chapter of the holy Word that satan is subtle? That he is crafty? In the 4th chapter of the Bible are we not warned that sin is crouching at the door waiting to have you?

Use all your mental faculties to read the word, understand the word, meditate on the word and apply the word. This is training in discernment and it is necessary to keep from stumbling. Hebrews 5:4 tells us this-

But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil.

Discernment doesn’t happen overnight, it takes training to develop it and constant application to hone it. We need to be careful who we follow and whose teachings we absorb. Our sinful flesh likes to heap up teachers whose sinful teachings match our own desires. A false teacher’s doctrine will be subtle and it does ensnare us, but only because we like what they’re selling within our own sinful desires.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, (2 Timothy 4:3).

I wrote about Glennon Doyle in 2014, warning about her, and concerned she had gained a massive following.

Be discerning about mommy bloggers, for example, Glennon Doyle is not a Christian

Two years later Glennon came out as gay. Case closed.

Discernment Case in point: Glennon Doyle Melton comes out as gay

I did a 4-part series in 2014 on IF:Gathering and the women of She Reads Truth. Parts 3 & 4 detailed the issues with IF:Gathering-

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 3

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 2

IF:Gathering – updated review four years later

If:Gathering: more information, including video claiming direct revelation

These may be worth your while to read as well. I wrote them before I was doing a podcast, so it doesn’t have a ‘listen button’, but I will try to record them over this weekend and add one.

Many Christian Celebrity Moms are Distorting Biblical Motherhood; Part 1 (discusses the problem, and uses real life examples of Joanna Gaines, Diana Stone, Rachael Myers, Beth Moore etc).

Many Christian Celebrity Moms are Distorting Biblical Motherhood; Part 2 (discusses the solution)

I do many types of essays, from natural history to encouragement to doctrinal to discernment. There are two things that get me riled up in discernment. One is how ‘Christian’ celebrity moms have presented a feminist lifestyle under sinful cover of ‘doing ministry’ and have distorted true biblical motherhood (see above essays). The other that upsets me is ‘Christian’ Bible teachers who claim to have had direct revelation. See this essay:

“God Told Me”: About those whispers to the heart…

Well I hope any of these essays help you. As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, make a comment below or shoot me a message or email. Thanks for reading and listening!

Posted in theology

Great Cities of the Bible #3: Rome

By Elizabeth Prata

Great Cities of the Bible #1: Damascus
Great Cities of the Bible #2: Babylon
Great Cities of the Bible #3: Rome
Great Cities of the Bible #4: Jerusalem

Remains of the Roman Forum. EPrata photo

This is the third of a 4-part series on the Great Cities of the Bible. I’ve written about Damascus and Babylon in the first two parts. Damascus first because it is among the first cities mentioned in the Bible and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. And I chose Babylon second because its presence from Genesis to Revelation dominates the Bible’s spiritual and historical landscape.

Now we turn to Rome. GotQuestions notes that – “Rome is not mentioned in the Old Testament but figures prominently in the New Testament. Although the city of Rome is not often directly mentioned, every place and event in the New Testament has Roman rule as its background.

Part of the reason I’m doing this series is because we tend to be myopic in our day and age, thinking we are the most advanced or the most sophisticated or our culture is the best. It’s hard to physically go see that in Babylon because it is mostly a ruin now. Damascus is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the Arab world, but sadly, the ongoing war has destroyed much of it by now. However ROME! Ahh, Rome, one can wander the streets and see many buildings from the Bible days intact. One can envision Paul standing up in court…writing his ‘Jail Epistles’ (Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon). We can visit the Colosseum where so many Christians were martyred.

Underfloor of the Roman Colosseum, where many Christians were martyred. EPrata photo

Rome is both the city and was an Empire. It is urban setting and also a character itself in the Bible history. It is a city past from Bible days, a thriving city today, and it is an Roman empire future in prophecy. Rome was the oppressor of the Jews in Judea but its engineered roads allowed for the dispersed believers to bring the Gospel out to the world.

It was first called The Eternal City (Latin: Urbs Aeterna; Italian: La Città Eterna) by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, and the expression was also taken up by Ovid, Virgil, and Livy. Rome is also called “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World).


Rome is also known as the City of Seven Hills, due to the hills that it is founded on and provide a backdrop. This may become important later when in prophecy, discussed more in the postscript.

For almost a thousand years the continent’s people were either one of the unfortunate tribes conquered and absorbed into the vastly growing Roman empire, or were one of the privileged Romans citizens enjoying the engineering marvels the Romans invented and especially Pax Romana (widespread peace) during the 200 years of the Empire’s height. Paul the Apostle was a Roman Citizen, and this fact allowed him to escape one of the intended beatings, to stand in a Roman Court and plead his case, and at the end, legend says, given the less painful execution of beheading.

Rome was said to be founded around 625 BC in the areas of ancient Italy’s center known as Etruria and Latium. Etruria was home to the mysterious people of the Etruscans (from which we get the name Tuscany). Not much is known of the Etruscans, except they were a sophisticated culture, master bronzesmiths, their tombs were expertly painted, they formed city-states all over Tuscany as far south as Rome, and began sewer and other construction projects in Rome. It is said that the Etruscans had a heavy influence on the conquering Romans.

For about a hundred years or so, this merging and overlap of the Etruscans and the Romans led to the period known as the Age of Kings, which came to an end when the Etruscans disappeared, and the Roman Republic was born. (510 BC). It was during this time that Romans codified their laws and were led by the citizens (upper class senators and knights).

They continued to expand their empire with masterful military strategies and successive victories. By 338 BC they had conquered the entire Italian peninsula and a few years later gained control of the Mediterranean as a dominant maritime power.

The time of Jesus’ birth through his death & resurrection, the rise of the Church, and the last of the first generation witnesses (31BC to 90 AD and beyond) was known as the Imperial Rome era. During this period, Rome saw decades of peace, prosperity, and expansion. Its maximum land expansion occurred in about AD 117, near when Apostle John died. Its empire spanned three continents including Asia Minor, northern Africa, and most of Europe as far north as Scotland.

Unlike many other conquering empires, Rome allowed worship of personal gods. They were a pantheistic society. We remember in Daniel 1 when Nebuchadnezzar besieged and conquered Jerusalem and carried off its captives, “among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.7 Then the commander of the officials set names for them; and for Daniel he set the name Belteshazzar, for Hananiah Shadrach, for Mishael Meshach, and for Azariah Abed-nego.” (Daniel 1:6-7). The practice of forced assimilation was common. The boys were given new names, forced to eat what was eaten by the natives, and forced to worship what the natives worshiped, namely, the king. But unusually for an Empire, that was not Rome’s practice.

Definition: Assimilation is one outcome of acculturation. It involves the complete adoption of the ways of life of the new cultural group, resulting in the assimilated group losing nearly all of its original or native culture.

Rome practiced assimilation. Captured peoples from the many wars were brought to Rome as slaves but allowed to practice their religion and maintain their culture. The building in Rome called The Pantheon was originally a temple built for all Roman gods, then later any gods. Pan means “all” and “theos” means “gods”.

The Pantheon in Rome, one of Rome’s best preserved buildings to this day. EPrata photo

The Roman Empire was a primarily polytheistic civilization, which meant that people recognized and worshiped multiple gods and goddesses. Despite the presence of monotheistic religions within the empire, such as Judaism and early Christianity, Romans honored multiple deities. They believed that these deities served a role in founding the Roman civilization and that they helped shape the events of people’s lives on a daily basis. Romans paid allegiance to the gods both in public spaces and in private homes. While the Roman state recognized main gods and goddesses by decorating public buildings and fountains with their images, families worshipping at home also put special emphasis on the deities of their choosing. Source

The Jews in Judea were overseen (oppressed) by Rome, which sent it governors and soldiers to keep the peace, but largely (except for taxes to keep up the empire) they were allowed to continue as they were and that included worship.

Romans built things. Bridges, temples, mansions, aqueducts, and roads. They had sewers, hot and cold running water, and spas. They had colosseums for their beloved games. It was the roads that allowed the dispersing Christians to take the Gospel to the outermost parts of the empire and beyond. It was the spread of the Latin language in the huge Empire that allowed folks to understand one another when sharing the Gospel with natives. The Roman influence on art and architecture was massive and stands to this day. They loved games and competitions, and they built amphitheaters to play them in. The round and oval stadiums we see today are derived from the Romans. They even held “naumachia” in them, or sea battles. They engineered a system where the amphitheaters could be flooded to host maritime competitions with ships!

Because of their sophisticated government, art, engineering, culture, and lifestyle, the Romans often referred to all other tribes as “barbarians.” They deeply believed they were a superior race to the Germanic tribes or the Celts, both of which they had conquered. However, the Romans for all their marvels and sophistication in the arts, were still pagans, which means, barbaric themselves. Any culture that enjoys live bloody competitions to the death, which invents crucifixion as a method of execution, or dips Christians in tar and sets them alight for garden illumination, is barbaric themselves. No veneer of art or poetry or law can hide the fact that without Christ, any society will die. And the Romans did. After its Pax Romana era came to a close, the city declined until 410 when the Visigoth King Alaric successfully sacked the city of Rome. The “Eternal City” was no more.


After Alaric and the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome slowly fell under the political control of the Popes, and in the 700s, Rome became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Even today, Vatican City is a sovereign state inside Rome. The Pope is one of the very the last absolute monarchs on earth. An Absolute Monarchy, which Vatican City is governed by, is defined as “a form of government in which a single person—usually a king or queen—holds absolute, autocratic power. In absolute monarchies, the succession of power is typically hereditary, with the throne passing among members of a ruling family.”

Absolute monarchies, where the monarch is the final authority, are few and far between these days. There are currently five, excluding subnational monarchies: Brunei, Eswatini, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Vatican City.”

In Revelation 17:7, we read that Babylon the harlot is riding on a beast having seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads are called seven hills or seven mountains in verse 9. Everyone at the time that passage was written was so familiar with Rome being called the city of seven hills it is likely that they understood this to be Rome. As Daniel 2 describes the flow of the world empires from beginning to end in a vision of a statue, will the last empire be a revived Roman Empire? One that includes an absolute monarchy, that already exists today, led by a false prophet (of the Catholic Church?) Many think so.

Further Reading

Book- SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. (I’m reading this book. It’s good).

Essay- Rome and the Apostle Paul

Essay: What is the significance of Rome in the Bible?

Sermon: The Rise and Fall of the World part 3 (if you are interested in the revived Roman Empire)

Posted in theology

The Great Cities of the Bible #2: Babylon

By Elizabeth Prata

Great Cities of the Bible #1: Damascus
Great Cities of the Bible #2: Babylon
Great Cities of the Bible #3: Rome
Great Cities of the Bible #4: Jerusalem

Ruins at Babylon. By Osama Sarm – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Babylon. City of mystery, history, prophecy. The very name Bab-iliu means “the gate of the gods” in Akkadian, which is the oldest recorded Semitic language and the most common language of the ancient Near East until the eighth century BC.

It was founded on the great river, Euphrates, about 200 miles north of where the Euphrates joins the Tigris and drains into the Persian Gulf, two of the 4 great rivers flowing out of Eden to “water the garden”. (Genesis 2:14).

Babylon was a sacred site dedicated to the (false) god Marduk, the city’s patron god. Often Marduk’s name is included with the title ‘Bel’ to Marduk’s name to indicate supremacy of all the gods. The city’s inhabitants celebrated Marduk at the start of their new year with a festival noting his ascension as king of all gods and his seating in his temple in the city.

Marduk was mentioned in the Bible in Jeremiah 50:1–2 where Yahweh ordered Jeremiah to declare:

Babylon has been captured;
Bel has been put to shame; Marduk has been shattered;
Her images have been put to shame; her idols have been shattered.’

For two thousand years Babylon dominated Mesopotamia.

The Lexham Bible Dictionary indicates that Babylon was a “cultural and political center of Mesopotamia during much of the second and first millennia BC. Located in modern-day Iraq along one branch of the Euphrates River, about 59 miles southwest of Baghdad.

Babylon Past

Throughout the entire Bible, Babylon stands as a dominating presence as an actual historical empire but also as a symbol of spiritual apostasy and evil opposition to God and His people. Its name Babel is first found in Genesis 11:9,

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth’

Babylon is the Greek form of the name Babel. Babylon began its ascent in 2300 BC to greatness but really exploded in cultural and architectural wonders during the reign of Hammurabi in 1792 BC, the sixth king of his line. During his reign and later his son’s reign, numerous temples were built and irrigation channels were excavated. King Hammurabi also conquered all of the surrounding cities, including the famous city of “Ur” where Abraham had lived centuries before.

Hammurabi (standing) receiving his royal insignia from Shamash (or possibly Marduk) By Mbzt – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

But like many cities, Babylon then began to decline, and this up and down swing continued until Assyria was finally defeated. It then reached another pinnacle during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II and entrenched itself as one of the most important cities in the Near East.

“The empire had been founded by Nebuchadnezzar’s father Nabopolassar (r. 625-605 BCE) after his victories over the Assyrian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar II would go on to even greater things, including the capture of Jerusalem in 597 BCE. The Babylonian king then set about making his capital one of the most splendid cities in the world”. Source World History Encyclopedia

A reconstruction of the blue-tiled Ishtar Gate, which was the northern entrance to Babylon. It was named for the goddess of love and war. Bulls and dragons, symbols of the god Marduk, decorated the gate.
By Rictor Norton –, CC BY 2.0,

Hanging Gardens

The most famous of these improvements to the city were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, “ancient gardens considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and thought to have been located near the royal palace in Babylonsays Encyclopedia Britannica. Though no one is quite sure where they were within the city, there were enough descriptions of them in classical literature to know that they likely existed, though no one is exactly sure of what they looked like.

The Gardens were said to be ‘hanging’ because perhaps they were perhaps on a tall ziggurat with terraces, “were set upon vaulted terraces. They were also described as having been watered by an exceptional system of irrigation and roofed with stone balconies on which were layered various materials, such as reeds, bitumen, and lead, so that the irrigation water would not seep through the terraces.”

A short video about the Gardens-

In Daniel 4:30 we read the perhaps most famous story about Babylon, where King Nebuchadnezzar admires his city from his palace rooftop, saying “‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal house by the strength of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”

Barnes’ Notes says: “He greatly enlarged the city; built a new city on the west side of the river; reared a magnificent palace; and constructed the celebrated hanging gardens; and, in fact, made the city so different from what it was, and so greatly increased its splendor, that he could say without impropriety that he had “built” it.

Yet…the very next verse says that King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and self-glorification was a mistake.

While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

The city “under Nebuchadnezzar, who died B.C. 561 after a reign of forty-three years, attained great splendour. In the reign of Belshazzar the capital was taken by Darius the Median (Dan. 5:25–31), who entered it unexpectedly at the head of an army of Medes and Persians, as Isaiah (21:1–9) and Jeremiah (51:31) had predicted some 170 years before. Then began the decay and ruin of this proud city, and the kingdom of Babylon became a part of the Persian empire. In course of time the “great city” became “heaps,” and “an astonishment, and a hissing, without an inhabitant (Jer. 51:37–58).

“Many of the Jews who had been carried captive to Babylon remained there, notwithstanding the decree of Cyrus. After the destruction of Jerusalem there was established at Babylon a school of Jewish learning of great repute.” SourceEaston’s (1893) In Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History.

Babylon future

Babylon is mentioned in Revelation numerous times. We read in Revelation 14:8, “and another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality.

Babylon was not only a city in history, not only an empire that rose & fell, but the name Babylon is also figurative of an evil commercial-governmental system and an evil spiritual system.

Roy Gingrich interprets both the actual and the symbolic nature of Babylon:

“The fall of Babylon (Rev 14:8)-

“(1) The announcement—Another angel (other than the one in verse 6) announces the soon coming fall of Babylon. The “Babylon” mentioned here is not the religious system of chapter 17 -that “Babylon” was destroyed at the mid-point of “The Seventieth Week”. The “Babylon” mentioned here is the capital city of the political-religious-commercial system of chapter 18, which city and system will be destroyed when the Seventh bowl is poured out. God destroys her because she made the nations drink “the wine of the wrath of her fornication,” that is, because she caused them to commit spiritual fornication, which is punished by God’s wrath.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (p. 69). Riverside Printing.

Gingrich continues-

The destruction of religious “Babylon” as an ecclesiastical system, chapter 17. In the days of Nimrod, Gen. 10:8–12, and his wife, Semiramis, around 200 years after the Flood, two great systems came into existence, a God-defiant political system and a God-defiant religious system, the one founded by Nimrod and the other founded by Nimrod through his wife, Semiramis. These two systems are often called Political Babylon and Religious Babylon because they had their beginnings in Babylon, the one in the building of the city of Babylon and the other in the building of the tower of Babylon. The city of Babylon is the symbol of organized political rebellion against God and the tower of Babylon is the symbol of organized religious rebellion against God.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (pp. 76–77). Riverside Printing

“These two systems in varying forms, have continued on side by side down through the centuries, hating one another but for the sake of self-advancement, exchanging favors with one another. During the Middle Ages, these two systems were seen in the Holy Roman Empire and in the Roman Catholic Church. Today, they are seen in the United Nations Organization and in the Ecumenical Church Movement. During the first half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, they will be seen in the Revived Roman Empire [“the Scarlet-colored beast,” Rev. 17:3] and in the rejected Lacodicean church] [“the great whore,” Rev. 17:1]. It is very helpful in understanding Rev., chap. 17, to know that “the scarlet-colored beast” and “the great whore” of chapter 17 are the final forms of two great God-defiant systems which have been in existence for over 3,000 years.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (pp. 76–77). Riverside Printing.

–end Gingrich quote

Babylon both actual and spiritual offer many lessons for us. Whenever I think of Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” I often think of ‘Babylon & Jerusalem’. In the NT Babylon is always mentioned negatively, as a seat of evil, ungodly power. It signifies the world and its forces in opposition to God. It is often contrasted with “New Jerusalem”, in which God will finally reign supreme with no opposition ever again.

We will live in the city GOD built, not a city made by man like Assyria’s Damascus, Caesar’s Rome or Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. It will be a pure city, devoid of anything detracting from the glory of Jesus and his Light.

Babylon present

Whatever became of the actual, historical city of Babylon? It no longer really exists. It is a ruin, though it was opened to tourists again in 2009. There is not much to see. It is estimated that only about 5% of the old city has been excavated.

Babylon would stay under the Persian Empire’s rule for two centuries before Alexander the Great then conquered Babylon in 331 BC. He had plans to make Babylon the capital of his empire but died there in 323 BC before his dream came into reality. Alexander’s generals divided his empire among themselves immediately after his death. This is how general Seleucus obtained the historical city of Babylon. Not long after, he moved most of the population to his new capital Seleucia, which left the city decaying and deserted. Source

Will Babylon the city rise again? Only the Lord knows. Babylon the metaphor for an economy and an ecclesiastical system will indeed rise again to uncontested dominance, and be part of the major events prophesied to occur in the future, if the Babylonian system even can be said to have disappeared in the first place. Yet “Babylon” actual and Babylon figurative will finally be squashed in the future when Revelation events occur and Jesus’ wrath wipes out the evil system. The Lord as always, reigns supreme.

There will be no king looking out from his own rooftop and congratulating himself on his achievements. There will be no pagan priests celebrating a false god on a mythical throne. There will be no garden except the one the LORD himself planted, meaning, the world. It will be pure, verdant, and full of peoples who acknowledge Jesus as the supreme Lord of Lords and King of Kings. What a day that will be!

Posted in theology

The Great Cities of the Bible #1: Damascus

By Elizabeth Prata

Great Cities of the Bible #1: Damascus
Great Cities of the Bible #2: Babylon
Great Cities of the Bible #3: Rome
Great Cities of the Bible #4: Jerusalem

This begins a 4-part look at some of the Great Cities of the Bible. Cities are cities, but they are also seats of Empires, also they can be backdrops or even characters in the Biblical narrative. I chose the cities of Damascus, Babylon, Rome, and finally, Jerusalem to take a closer look at.

Damascus is one of the first cities mentioned in the Bible and the oldest continuously lived-in city in the world. Babylon dominated the Near East during its time, but also is symbolic of the struggle since the Fall of man vs. God. Its backdrop flows from Genesis to Revelation! Rome was at its height during the New Testament times, was the site of 4 Epistles written there, and perhaps will be at another height again if the prophecy about a Revived Empire will indeed be Rome as many interpret. And of course I chose Jerusalem because God set His name upon it, and it will be remade new as our eternal future home!

Modern Day Damascus is in Syria. It is the capital of Syria, and people have been living there since about 8000BC. When the Arameans arrived in about 3000 BC it went from villages to a notable city. That’s old!

We may think of that area of Asia as dry and dusty desert, but Damascus is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, as well as being ancient and notable. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. To be sure, its dry and desert-y east is bordered by the Syrian-Arab desert and the west is bordered by the mountains of Lebanon. The mountains bar much rain from dropping on Syria. The mighty Euphrates, which represents more than 80 percent of Syria’s water resources, flows through far to the east of Damascus. Therefore, for Damascus to stay hydrated, the even more important river Barada River is the river on which the city of Damascus relies. Irrigation from the Barada River by aqueducts built during Roman times helps things along.

This river is divided into numberless channels and is distributed throughout Damascus and the region immediately about it. In almost every house there is a fountain, and one can stand still almost anywhere and listen to the murmur of the hidden streams that pass under and through the city. Source: Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, p. 274.)
Barada river, Damascus. Shadi Hijazi photo, CC use

Barada is identified as Abana. This river is mentioned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 5:12), when Naaman argued that its waters would be better than the Jordan for curing his leprosy.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia for the ‘Abanah’ AKA Barada says-

A few miles southeast of Suk Wady Barada the volume of the stream is more than doubled by a torrent of clear, cold water from the beautifully situated spring ‛Ain Fijeh (Greek, “fountain”), after which it flows through a picturesque gorge till it reaches Damascus, whose many fountains and gardens it supplies liberally with water. In the neighborhood of Damascus a number of streams branch off from the parent river, and spread out like an opening fan on the surrounding plain”.

Speaking of those gardens, we read from the 1894 book “Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles”:

“No wonder the Moslems look upon Damascus as an earthly paradise. It is encompassed by gardens and orchards. These cover an area of over twenty-five miles in circumference. Here grow olive, fig, walnut, apricot, poplar, palm, cypress and pomegranate trees. In the above view we have a scene taken from the Jerusalem road in the western part of the city, and looking to the north a ridge of Anti-Lebanon is seen straight before us. In the richness of its soil, in the salubrity and semi-tropical character of its climate, in its varied vegetation, we find the reason for the constant association of Damascus with the thought of gardens.”

“It has been for four thousand years a garden. It is surrounded for miles with this splendor of verdure. Its gardens and orchards and far-reaching groves, rich in foliage and blossoms, wrap the city around like a mantle of green velvet powdered with pearls. The apricot orchards seem to blush at their own surpassing loveliness, and the gentle breezes that rustle softly through the feathery tops of the palms are laden with the perfume of the rose and the violet. Tristram, in his account of what he saw, says:”

“Tall mud walls extended in every direction under the trees, and flowing streams of water from the Barada everywhere bubbled through the orchards, while all was alive with the song of birds and the hum of bees. The great apricot trees were laden and bent down under strings of ripe golden fruit.” Whatever changes may be made by the hand of man in Damascus, whatever changes in government and in commercial activities, the city is sure to be for all time a paradise of fertility and beauty.”

In the Bible, Damascus is first mentioned in a casual comment in Genesis 14:15 (early!). It was the situation when Lot was taken prisoner and Abram had to go rescue him.

And he divided his men against them by night, he and his servants, and struck them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

Damascus is mentioned again in the very next chapter, Genesis 15:2. Abram noted that the only heir he had was his servant Eliezer. And Abram said, “O Lord Yahweh, what will You give me, as I go on being childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?

I mentioned the Arameans above, that Damascus in Syria didn’t become notable as a city until the Arameans settled it. According to Pulpit Commentary, “The Syrians of Damascus are known in the Hebrew, AramDammesek; that is, Aram-Damascus. The inhabitants of these regions and of Mesopotamia were descended from Aram, the son of Shem, son of Noah. (Genesis 10:22)”. See how old this region is? It is really amazing.

Damascus in mentioned frequently throughout the Old and New Testaments. Damascus played a major role in waging wars against Israel. From around 900 to 721 BC Syria was a terrible fearful opponent of Israel David was much occupied with subduing uprisings and incursions from Damascus, Syria throughout his Kingship. He eventually subjugated the Arameans but they rose again after the death of Solomon.

At various times, Israel and Judah made pacts with those who controlled Damascus (1 Kgs 15:18–20). War between Asa of Judah and Baasha of Israel led Asa to use the treasury of the temple and his personal wealth to pay for the support of Damascus against Israel (1 Kgs 15:19, 20).” Source The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

When you look at the city in terms of the entire history of the Old Testament, you see how much of a role the Lord had Damascus play in the intertribal wars, alliances, rising and falling of kingdoms, and all impacting the Israelites. In fact, Damascus and Israel joined forces around 734 BC to attack Judah. The war almost destroyed Jerusalem, and evil King Ahaz of Judah asked Assyria’s king Tiglath-pileser to come defend Judah from the attack.

Eventually, Damascus was conquered by Alexander the Great and the city’s fortunes declined. It was taken over in 64BC in Roman times by Pompey. That is when the aqueducts were built that shuffled water from the critically important Barada river to water the great gardens and continue cultivating the crops.

In the New Testament Damascus is mentioned several times but always relative to Saul/Paul, his trip to Damascus, and his conversion. (Acts 9:1–25; 22:5–11; 2 Cor 11:32, 33)

However, despite the 8000 years of history we can trace back to Damascus and the nation of Syria itself, there is one stark piece of prophecy which we can possibly say has not come to pass within all that history yet: Isaiah 17:1 says that Damascus will be destroyed. Never has that ancient city been uninhabited. The prophecy says that the city will be razed and made into rubble, so that no one will live there.

Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.(Isaiah 17:1-2).

Was this prophecy completely fulfilled during 732 B.C. when the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser subjugated Syria? Has the city ever been so deserted that wild animals feel safe to wander about and even lie down?

Or was it a partial fulfillment, the rest to come at a future time? Whatever the answer, we know that 2 chapters later, the Lord promised good to that region of the world. In that day…Isaiah 19:24-25 says,

In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom Yahweh of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

Barnes’ Notes, “That is, the three shall be united as one people. Instead of being rival, hostile, and contending kingdoms, they shall be united and friendly; and instead of having different and jarring religions, they shall all worship the same God. The prophecy rather refers to the spread of the true religion, and the worship of the true God.”

And what a day that will be! The tumultuous epochs of this ancient, beautiful but war-like city shall finally find peace, and so shall all the inhabitants of the earth.

Posted in theology

Kay Cude Poetry: Hymn and food for thought

By Elizabeth Prata

Today’s piece from Kay Cude is inspired by the hymn And Can it Be? by Charles Wesley, (his lyrics appear on the art and also below), and the sermon The Divine Summons by John MacArthur. Kay Cude is a Texas poet. Used with permission. Here is Kay Cude’s Artist’s Statement:

“Sometimes in the midst of our sanctification as we face some very inflexible, but necessary trials, we may find that we need the comfort of the deep sustenance that comes through feeding upon sound, Biblical truths that are richly expressed in many of the “old” hymns.  I know that I do.”

“I am still moved by “And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley and find that Pastor MacArthur’s “The Divine Summons” goes hand-in-hand with it as instruction and edification for we whose circumstances compel us to return to the study of God’s sovereign act of salvation and the reassurance that it is God’s work in us and none of our own.”

Painting by Vasily Golinsky, “The Crucifixion of Christ” (1890-1900)

And Can it Be? Charles Wesley, 1738

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love Divine!
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.
’Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness Divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Posted in theology

Potpourri: In the beginning, The Chosen, One Anothering, Eschatology

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

GENESIS is where it’s at!

I love the ministry of Answers in Genesis. The first book of the Bible is so important to understand and believe literally.

As John MacArthur has said, “If you don’t believe in the literal 6 day creation, when does your belief in what Genesis presents kick in? Chapter 3? Chapter 6? Chapter 11? You see, that is analogous to the issue of creation. You can observe the way things are now but that doesn’t tell you anything about how they became what they are. Creation cannot be understood any other way than by believing the revelation of the creator. And that’s your first test when you open your Bible. I am absolutely astounded at how many people who call themselves Christians, who lead large and effective Christian ministries, don’t have any position on Genesis 1 and 2 except that they find it hard to believe it. And I ask them, “At what chapter do you kick in?” When do we finally get you on board? Is it Genesis 3? Do you buy that? Or maybe 4? What I’m saying is, creation has no connection at all to science, any more than the behavior of Lazarus could in any way reveal how he was raised from the dead. Creation is not a scientific event, cannot be explained scientifically as if natural law played any part. Creation was a massive supernatural miracle…” Source- The Theology of Creation

Here is Answers in Genesis, a ministry I love, with an essay exploring the Effects of the Fall on the Physical Creation: A Biblical Analysis. They look at pre-Fall, the Fall and the Curse, then the effects present day of the former, and last, gloriously, the Restoration!


The Chosen: G3 Ministries discusses the issues with the television series The Chosen, in this fourth episode of Season 3 of the G3 Podcast, Josh Buice, Virgil Walker, and Scott Aniol discuss the television series The Chosen and its connection to Mormonism, the 2nd Commandment, and the way truth is communicated through art and media.

Pastor Gabriel Hughes of When We Understand The Text (WWUTT) has been reviewing The Chosen individual episodes on his podcast. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Responding to listener questions here.


I am fervent that the serious Christian should study eschatology, come to a gracious, settled conclusion of the Last Things, as they are known, and then live with the end in mind. We do not want to be counted as believers who are like the pagans, who mock last things and judgment by saying things like where is the promise of His coming? All things are going on as they have been! Why study eschatology?” (2 Peter 3:4). The different stances generate some heat, I know, but still, last things comprise almost 30% of the entire Bible. Study it!

Here is a GotQuestions article explaining eschatology;

Here is an article from Ligonier’s TableTalk Magazine about Eschatological Living. It’s a very short article: here is one quote:

Kingdom citizens, therefore, are looking ahead while living in the present. The believer longs for Jesus to usher in the kingdom in its fullness (Rev. 21–22)

Here is a John MacArthur sermon called The Grim Reality of the Last Days. I call my blog The End Time because we are IN the end of days, which are between Jesus 1st and His 2nd coming. Understanding what is ahead for the non-believer hopefully will undergird your evangelism. Remember, none of the people to whom an angel appeared could stand and cowered in fear, and they came in friendliness! Imagine a sinner facing the full glory & wrath of Jesus Himself as the Lion!! No, live in eschatological fervor on behalf of the glory of God and for those who do not know Him.


The above is a word for one anothering, or commitment to each other in the Gospel, fellowship Gospel style. Alistair Begg has some things to say about how we should love one another in this devotional

If you like the Puritans, John Owen has a fantastic book called Duties of Christian Fellowship: A Manual for Church Members. In a short 96 pages, “In just a few pages “it sets out in very concise terms the responsibilities all Christians have, first, to their pastors, and then second, to one another within the fellowship of the local church”. Unavailable at Reformation Heritage Books and out of stock at Amazon, but can be read online at Monergism or downloaded as a .pdf from the same site 🙂


Here is Hymnology’s Youtube channel of season 4. The hosts explain the origin of a hymn or its meaning, then sing it. Phillip Webb sings and the music is just beautiful. Strongly doctrinal music in church and in life is a must.

We should not listen to music coming from heretical organizations such as Elevation or Bethel. Michelle Lesley comments here, and also explains further “Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours” here

Be kind to one another, live as if this day could be your last for the Lord (because one day, it will be!), and watch out for what you watch on media 🙂 Thank you for reading! I appreciate you.

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

Avoid the victim mentality

By Elizabeth Prata

Do you have a victim mentality? Photo by Alice Alinari on Unsplash

I was saved as a 40-something adult, never having attended church or had been involved in religion or ‘churchy’ things. I spent 18 months following Joel Osteen then rejected him when I actually got a Bible and began comparing his teachings to it. I moved to Georgia and began listening to Woodrow Kroll in “Back to the Bible”, Adrian Rogers, then John MacArthur. Solid men. I was grateful for this time of firming up my faith before I started attending church, because when I got there…

The first ‘Bible study’ I was exposed to in church was “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. I was told “It will completely change me…” “Powerful…” and all the hype. Nope. Here is a good review of that ‘study’ from Critical Issues Commentary. Blackaby was the one who in modern times of the Southern Baptist Convention church (SBC) set the course toward mysticism and contemplative prayer. I praised the Lord he had given me time & space to develop discernment before I was thrust into the soup of rotten Bible studies.

The second one was a Kay Arthur inductive study which at the time (2007-2008) was good. But the next one I was exposed to, heavily and pressingly, almost forced, was Beth Moore. I was attending a SBC church and at the time (2010-onward) Moore was reaching Everest heights of popularity. There was no escaping her studies, books, simulcasts, retreats, and conversations about the latest thing she said or did or taught. She was everywhere. Like Blackaby, Moore’s studies focused on self.

I was surprised and dismayed by the constant emphasis on self by Moore and Blackaby, and other studies I saw people doing or did myself. I’d spent 42 years before salvation studying myself and I was thoroughly sick of myself. I wanted to know about Jesus.

Along with the emphasis on self, as time went on, these studies inevitably drew a focus on our injured self. Sin was described as ‘messiness’, not sin. We know messes can be cleaned up by ourselves. Maybe that was why the term caught on. Sin needs repenting to God for, but if I’m a mess, or my life is a mess, or I’m in a mess, just clean it up, no Jesus needed.

And further away from the Godly terms of sin and repentance, we went not only in studies but also in conversation, from messiness to victim. My life is a mess because I’m a victim, not a sinner. It’s all someone else’s problem, not my fault! You see how the drift away from Biblical standards of behavior, from commonly understood terms, and from His commands to stay close to the word have gone from ‘mortifying sin’, to ‘my life’s a mess because I’m a victim.’

Here is one example of the victimhood mentality from recent days. Lysa TerKeurst wrote-

@LysaTerKeurst: “Your heart is much too beautiful of a place for bitterness. They made choices that hurt you. And chances are, those choices are an indication of their brokenness, not yours. Remember, it should be God’s words, not their words, that reveal the truth of who we are.”

The heart is not beautiful. Mark 7:21-23 says

or from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Meg Basham commented on TerKeurst’s tweet, saying: “The heart is deceitful above all things, & desperately sick; who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart'” Jer. 17:9-10 Bitterness is bad, but so is soft-focus spiritualism that teaches women to see themselves only as victims, only as sinned-against rather than sinners.

I don’t know TerKeurst’s work well at all, but quick perusal of recent posts showed many in same vein—women’s great struggle is dealing with pain others are inflicting ON them. Hence my comment. Only one post in 2022 about dealing with your own sin. Only one the year before…

thinking further, if you’re gonna weight these things for general audience, how much should focus be on teaching how to deal with sins in our own lives vs how to react to other people’s sins hurting us? Because for Christian women’s books, breakdown seems 75% their sin, 25% mine. –end @MegBasham

So these days, a commonly understood state of woman, even after conversion, is not having to constantly deal with our own sin, but rather its watered down definition-change to messiness. This diminishes sin’s potency. Then the word changed to victimhood, meaning other people are the problem, not us. Then enter the latest iteration- misogyny, defined as dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. The mentality now is we are the way we are due to everyone else’s hatred of us.

If you listen to these modern women who craft Bible studies, you soon get the idea that all men hate all women and all institutions are prejudiced against the female sex. That, it’s everywhere. And every time you encounter something distasteful against you, just call it “misogyny” and it’s the reason you’ve been hard put by- rather than probably your OWN sin nature as the root cause of your current issue.

It never occurs to these women Bible teachers who teach soft victimhood, that everyone is hard put by at some point in our lives. Everyone has something happen to them that is distasteful or worse, a crime. Everyone has something they can claim victim status about. Sadly these days, many women do claim it, whether it’s real, exaggerated, or sadly, just made-up.

That is because everyone is a sinner. Sometimes what happens to us is our own sin being reaped against ourselves. If you’re disobedient at work, or fail to produce, or a rule-breaker, you’ll be fired. That’s not misogyny, that’s the natural consequence of your own sin. Other times it’s pure injustice for no reason. A drunk driver rammed your car and someone died. It’s an injustice but nothing to do with anything you did or chose or said. That’s the world- it’s evil. It’s under the temporary dominion of the evil one. (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But if you have a victim mentality, you will see your entire life through a perspective that things constantly happen ‘to’ you. Victimisation is thus a combination of seeing most things in life as negative, beyond your control, and as something you should be given sympathy for experiencing as you ‘deserve’ better. At its heart, a victim mentality is actually a way to avoid taking any responsibility for yourself or your life. By believing you have no power then you don’t have to take action. 


If you believe you’re a victim, then you think you don’t have to take action. If don’t have to take action, you don’t have take Godly actions like resisting temptation, repenting, pursuing holiness, and the like.

No, resist the victim mentality and avoid ministries that focus on the ‘something bad’ that happened to you. You’re not a victim. You are a trophy of grace, a person made in the image of God who has been given the gift of mercy because you’re saved from His wrath against your sin.

We are all sinners. We all have a past, we all do wrong things, and we’re all totally depraved. Once we are born again, all those sins are forgiven AND they are forgotten by Jesus.

A Bible study is not an extended therapy session about yourself, your wounds, the ‘toxic relationships’ holding you back. It is an opportunity to learn more about the triumph of Jesus on the cross and His ongoing gracious ministry to His people.

Get off the fainting couch and make strong strides in your sanctification by resisting temptation, killing sin, and being strong to forgive. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Posted in theology

Ecclesiastes emptiness

By Elizabeth Prata

“Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all besides.

Source of that quite: Seek Him in Trouble Job 23:3, Morning and Evening Spurgeon Devotional

That was true for me. I spent decades searching. For what, I didn’t know. Just to fill a gnawing emptiness. Husband, got one. House, got one-and a new one at that. Fancy! Fulfilling job, yup. Awards for said job, yes.

I was still unhappy. Why was I unhappy? Wasn’t that the American dream? Why did I cry silently and uncomprehendingly in the deep of the night? Why did I feel empty with all these glittering achievements and societal tokens of success heaped around me?

So I concluded, in my logical mind, that I must be approaching life wrong. I decided to abandon “The American Dream” and live a different way. Husband had not been in the picture for a few years, so I decided to sell or rent the house, take a leave of absence from my teaching job, and sail off with a new boyfriend in his yacht. I was living ‘off the grid.’ Yeah,’ that’s the ticket, step away from the lifestyle of 2.5 kids and white picket fence work till retirement then take a cruise. I wanted to cruise now! So we sailed off on our yacht and saw sunsets and dolphins and lazed our way down the eastern seaboard and anchored in The Bahamas in blue clear water and put our feet up and said ‘ahhh, this is the life’.

Except it wasn’t.

A permanent vacation! A fancy yacht! A waterfront cabin to go back to! Why was I unhappy? Why did I crawl from our berth to sit in the cockpit under the moon and weep? What was missing? I had love, money, my own yacht, and all the free time I wanted. It was all empty leading to more emptiness.

So we returned to the cabin and decided to travel more. THAT is the way, see the world! We saw Europe, the US, Mexico, Canada. I decided that learning about what I was seeing was the way to go. I took classes in bookbinding, Italian, journalism. Used it to deepen my knowledge when we traveled.

Still unhappy. So, MORE knowledge. Advanced degree, got it, and with a 4.0 grade point average too.

Still tears. Why, Why WHY?

I decided that having a purpose in life was what mattered. I had a waterfront home, no debt, plenty of money, and a loving husband (the sailing boyfriend and I got married eventually). I started a business that kept me very busy for almost 6 years. I earned awards in my industry, notoriety, and community respect.

I was busy. I was involved. I was feted. I was still yearning for a something I did not know. A something that would wipe away all the feeling of…dare I say…pointlessness? Why did I feel that life was pointless if I had everything that the world told me would make me happy?

Graciously, the Lord reached down to me in my pitiable state and rescued me from His wrath for my sin. My new mind (the mind of Christ) was now allowing me to see WHY I’d felt empty all those decades, despite the many achievements, goals, and desired & whims I fulfilled. I could see the world clearly now. It held only a polluted and corrupted allure.

The true allure is Christ. He is glory, perfection, and holiness itself. He is beauty, kindness, and love. THAT IS WHAT WAS MISSING! Or should I say “Who” was missing. Jesus fulfills completely. He makes our vision clear, the heart happy, and the soul filled. He gives us that transcendent vision of external seeing that we now observe the world for what it is- a passing corruption. He gives us the point to life, His glory and our enjoyment of Him. he gives us opportunities for real success, sharing His Gospel so souls can be saved.

Solomon said it: “All is vanity”. All else besides Christ is vanity. Pursuing the things I did, thinking they would fulfill me, did- but only for a time. Then they palled as I sought another vanity coming over the horizon. I pursued THAT one, only to find I was striving after wind.

You cannot grasp wind. But you can grasp Jesus, the ROCK.

I recommend the book of read Ecclesiastes. Deeply study it.

Further Reading:

Ecclesiastes: Overview

Exposit The Word: Sermons through Ecclesiastes

Summary of the Book of Ecclesiastes

Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End book, by David Gibson

Posted in theology

But the Proverbs 31 woman had a career!

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

For a Christian woman to choose a career outside the home that voids her duties at home is sin and bad for the family. The Bible outlines that a wife’s role is to be helpmeet to the husband and mom to the kids, very present and involved, totally focused in raising the little humans and serving the husband, serving at home- if at all possible.

This stance always receives heat. The women who are opposing this doctrine say the verses I share to support this stance are taken out of context (like the woman’s comment below). Or they try to claim the verses don’t really say what they say. Yes, they do say what they say.

That one often gets thrown into the conversation at some point. “But, but, but the Proverbs 31 woman!” Liberal women and feminists like to claim that the Proverbs 31 woman was a self-sufficient sharp business woman who grew her business AND who incidentally had kids and a husband. They say that the Proverbs 31 woman busted that glass ceiling, was an entrepreneur extraordinaire, and who did it all- had a fulfilling career while managing her house.

Is that what’s really going on here? The Proverbs 31 woman as a model of professional career woman? Let’s take a closer read on this woman.

Proverbs 31 opens with King Lemuel (probably Solomon) dispensing to the son in wisdom some life lessons. That’s verses 1-9. Verse 10 begins advice on the qualities of a proper wife. Please note that the oracle is delivered by King Lemuel but he ascribes the wisdom to his mother.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says of verse 31:1-9 “When children are under the mother’s eye, she has an opportunity of fashioning their minds aright. Those who are grown up, should often call to mind the good teaching they received when children.

The first thing the King says is that the son should find a woman who fears the Lord. Fearing the Lord means a healthy reverence for Him mixed with gratitude and knowledge of our position before Him: justified sinner saved by grace.

Albert N. Martin wrote: “There was a time when even the unconverted would refer to a Christian as a “God fearing man.” With this theme so prominently and frequently mentioned throughout the Scripture—both Old and New Testaments—it is regrettable that in our day it can be rare for a sermon to be preached on this most important topic, let alone an entire series.

The God-fearing women, too.

Then we read in Proverbs 31:10-11 her worth. Verse 12 picks up with what she does that earned her such laudatory language:

She deals bountifully with him for good and not evil All the days of her life.

‘Him’ means the husband. This begins the umbrella for the actions the wife takes on behalf of her husband and family. What is the “good” she does him? Proverbs goes on with specific examples of the “good” she does the husband. Gill’s Exposition explains:

she will seek his interest, and promote his honour and glory to the uttermost; all the good works she does, which she is qualified for, and ready to perform, are all done in his name and strength, and with a view to his glory; nor will she do any evil willingly and knowingly against him

The Proverbs 31 wife focuses on the husband’s good to the extent that she even sacrifices her self. (Ephesians 5:24). Women today say, “but, but what about her identity!?” Our identity is in Christ, the husband’s is too. (Romans 21:1, Luke 9:23). His identity is so submissive to Christ he would be ready to give himself up for his wife. (Ephesians 5:25). The Bible calls upon all of us to self-sacrifice for Christ. We all do so, just in different ways. It is difficult to focus on your husband’s well-being to the extent shown in verse 12 if you also have an outside job.

DISCLAIMER: I am not saying it’s sin for a wife/mom to hold an outside job. It is not. Many circumstances dictate a family’s personal decision for a Christian wife to work outside the home. I AM saying that if at all possible (and all things are possible with God) that the Bible says that wife, especially when she has kids, should strive to make it her priority to be at home with the kids and to serve the household as her primary orientation. Like a compass needle pointing north as the default.

EPrata photo

Now, the chapter goes into details of the wife’s daily tasks. Verse 13 says:

“She searches for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight.”

While our tasks may be different today than in Bible days, for example we don’t spin wool to make clothes, but we do drive to the store with the kids in tow so they can get new pants. Below is a description of how a Proverbs woman spun wool.

In spinning, the distaff is held tightly against the woman’s body by her left arm. So constant an occupation is spinning, that many women have loops sewed to the left side of their dresses to provide additional support for the handle of the distaff. Wool is spun in a variety of thicknesses, the left hand pulling the desired amount of fibers from the mass of wool and the right hand spinning the spindle in a clockwise direction.

In other words, her hands were always busy. Verse 14b says,

She brings her food from afar

This means rather than settling for the easier option and convenience of a more expensive foodstuffs nearby, she will expend energy to go afar to get a better price or quality.

And she rises while it is still night, And gives food to her household And a portion to her young women.

Women have said to me that here, since the Proverbs 31 wife has servants, that gives her time to have a career. Well, first of all it was a royal household. Second, it was common for households of any size or status to have servants. Modern women who make this claim forget that we ALL have servants. Our lives are easier than the Prov 31 wife. Her backbreaking work of washing laundry (no running water, gather the water, gather the wood, light a fire, boil water, stick your hands in boiling water and scrub on washboard…) is representative of just one task. We have servants in the form of cars, washing machines, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, dry cleaners, etc. Having maidservants does not mean she had time for a career. Despite having maidservants, this wife still gets up early and works for the household.

She makes plans for a field and buys it; From the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

As we saw in the verse above about bringing her food from afar, the Proverbs 31 wife is careful with money. She wants to contribute financially to the household without it impacting the household. We know this because “she looks well to the ways of her household” verse 27. She appears to have a skill in agriculture she’s decided to employ. She doesn’t buy the first field she sees, but makes a plan. She’s prudent.

We know she gets up early but we see next she works late into the night. ‘Her lamp does not go out’ (verse 18) is not meant literally. No one can work 24 hours straight, but it’s figurative to show she is industrious in doing for her household and the people in it. This wife has worked hard to ensure warm clothing for the cold season,

She makes linen garments and sells them, And gives belts to the tradesmen.

Linen was difficult to make and expensive. That she has extra to sell shows her diligent productivity. Like, do you have an Etsy shop? Same. But she is also generous, giving to the poor.

The Proverb concludes:

She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
As for her husband, he also praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done excellently,
But you have gone above them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears Yahweh, she shall be praised.
Give to her from the fruit of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

An honest reading does not allow room for the wife described in this proverb to have two careers, one as a professional woman somewhere in the economy, and another at home. An honest reading would show the reader that the Proverbs 31 wife works at home, near the home, for the home. Her excursions to the marketplace are to buy food, get flax, or to sell her wares. She has a vineyard, many of you ladies have a garden, do canning, or preserving. Some of you give away some extra at church, being generous, or even sell a bit extra on Facebook marketplace.

This activity is vastly different from the “CEO ministry” wives and moms of today running their own non-profit corporation working 40-50 hours a week outside the home, according to their statements on tax records.


In Praise of the Virtuous Woman
“This poem is an acrostic. Although the object of praise is the virtuous woman, the original audience of the piece was again the young man. The opening question in 31:10 implies that the reader ought to find such a wife for himself. The woman is trustworthy (31:11), industrious (31:13–19), intelligent (31:16, 18), and kind (31:20). She adds dignity to the family (31:23, 25) and has much foresight and prudence (31:21, 26). For all this she is much loved in her family and is the real center of the home (31:27–29). Above all she fears God (31:30).”

The final verse speaks eloquently against the tendency to regard her role as of inferior significance.” Holman Bible Handbook (pp. 358–359).

Being a wife, serving one’s husband, if God so gifts a woman, is God’s work. Being a mom and staying home to raise them, should God bless a wife, is God’s work. It’s not less-than. It might feel menial, and it is sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. The Proverbs woman DID have a career: wife and mom.

Further Reading