“As automatic as panicking.”, April 29, 2013
“As automatic as panicking.”, April 29, 2013
“Twist! Look out!”
I spun and swung wildly as the crack of a Colt revolver split the air. Sluefoot Sue had both her firearms out and was shooting at something below me. To my astonishment tentacles rose out of the Thames and wrapped themselves around the Catfish. Each time one of Sue’s bullets struck them they disappeared under the water again, but when she paused to reload they re-emerged and began to reach for me, climbing the Catfish sub. I hastily winched myself over toward the dock but a tentacle grabbed hold of my leg just as I started to unhook the harness. It flung me down on the dock and started dragging me to the edge.
“Hey, boss lady!” Dobbs, Sue’s assistant, hollered out from inside the workshop. I was just able to see a pump-action shotgun cartwheel through the air and land in Sue’s gloved hands. Just before it began to blast me deaf, I realized that it was in fact no ordinary shotgun, rather had some sort of gattling action, and a bit more. I hoped I would get a better look at it rather than end up 20,000 leagues under in some sea monster’s maw.
Vote for your favorite Oliver! Comment below to make your choice: Curly-headed stalwart or figure of romance.
Here’s a very brief comparison/contrast of Balaam versus Jonah. You let me know what you decide, because frankly, I don’t know what to think about these two guys, except for a couple of observations I’ll make after my list.
Balaam: Summoned by kings with promises of reward.
Jonah: Summoned by God with no promise of any kind.
Balaam: Asked to curse people he didn’t know anything about, or care about, even after God said, “They are blessed.”
Jonah: Sent to hereditary enemies of his people, very nasty folks who should be dead.
Balaam: Told to curse the people so bad things would happen to them.
Jonah: Told to warn the people so that bad things might not happen to them.
Balaam: Went with the ambassadors even though he knew he couldn’t do what Balak wanted
Jonah: Tried to run as far as he could in the other direction
Balaam: Smacked his donkey around and failed to see the Angel of God standing ready to kill him until the donkey talked to him.
Jonah: Almost got the ship’s crew killed and spent 3 days and 3 nights in the great fish (Hey, they both have animal encounters!)
Balaam: Soaked Balak for multiple sacrifices trying to get paid, but failed to curse the children of Israel
Jonah: Seems to have wandered about bleached, bloated, and in rags, shouting his warning, and got the Ninevites to repent.
Balaam: Whispered in Balak’s ear that he could use hot women and cool idols to get Israel in big, big trouble.
Jonah: Sat on a hill in a stick booth under a gourd vine (till it shriveled up and blew away), apparently still hoping the Ninevites might get blasted into nothingness.
Balaam: Got killed by Joshua and his army
Jonah: Got a lecture on loving his enemies and went on to bigger and better prophesies.
Here’s what I did conclude that sort of tips the scales in Jonah’s favor. The sailors Jonah tried to get killed by running all got “saved”! (They sacrificed to the Lord and made vows.) That seems as if it would not have happened if Jonah had done the right thing in the first place. Jonah pretty clearly repented inside the fish, though he did have a backsliding incident up on the hill. (The part where he still wished those people would be dead!) God never really tried to reason with Balaam, but he did have patience and compassion with Jonah. I am more confused than ever about Balaam, but I kinda think I can identify with Jonah, and hope for mercy and grace like he got in spite of my stubbornness. Both these men had a gift from God, and it all came down to how they used it.
Here are a few verses I found that might help you make up your mind in the Balaam vs Jonah controversy.
“Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of the Lord, either good or bad, of my own accord. What the Lord speaks, that I will speak.” (Numbers 24:13)
“Therefore, flee to your place now. I said I would honor you greatly, but behold, the Lord has held you back from honor.” (Numbers 24:11)
Some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. (Revelation 2:14)
The sons of Israel also killed Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, with the sword among the rest of their slain. (Joshua 13:22)
But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3)
Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. (Jonah 1:10)
But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (Jonah 4:1-4)
He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. (2 Kings 14:25)
Rembrant, Balaam’s Ass, Wikimedia Commons, public domain in the US
Michaelangelo, Jonah, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain in the US
Scriptures from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Assuming something to be true then using that assumption as a “proof” is the essence of circular reasoning. The issue is not the nature of the evidence, but the honesty of the observer. For example all dating systems assume deep time to be true. One very clear example is dendrochronology or tree ring dating. Bristlecone Pines (BCP) have been cataloged with almost 9,000 continuous rings, adding older dead trees to the rings of living trees. That is presented as “proof” of 9,000 continuous years. Without questioning the almost 9,000 continuous rings, this is assuming one ring=one year. For the past hundred years one ring has equaled one year. Using written human history, we can reasonable assume one ring=one year for over 3,000 years. But a tree ring is a growth/dormant cycle, not a year. In rain forests even today, there can be as many as 6 cycles per year, producing 6 rings per year. Even uniformitarians must admit that the Ice Age had a different climate and dendrochronology would not be valid during the Ice Age. That is circular reasoning. Assume that the Ice Age was at least 10,000 years ago, then assume that dendrochronology is valid for 10,000 years. The Bible records a worldwide flood about 2300-2400 BC. The Ice Age would follow that and last at least 500, perhaps 700 years. During that time period there would be many more growth/dormant cycles per year than the one per year we are observing now.
Every other type of dating of deep time uses the same assumptions. First assume deep time, and then claim that the evidence proves the assumption. What was the original condition of a radiometric sample? There were no observers. You assume the sample to be millions of years old and then use the sample to prove that it is millions of years old.
The point is, everything around us is evidence of a young earth if you are willing to examine the evidence honestly instead of attempting to use the evidence to prove pre-existing assumptions.
Lot’s story begins before Genesis 19, when he separated from Abraham and chose his land near Sodom. But let’s not call him selfish, or wicked, or anything else bad, for that choice, because the Bible calls him righteous. (2 Peter 2:7) He invited in the angels God sent, tried to protect them, and to act on their warnings. How did that turn out?
Genesis 19:14 says, “Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, ‘Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.’ But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.” Some people have made sermons out of the number of people who could at least have been saved if Lot had used his influence rightly, based on the conversation Abraham had with the Lord about how many righteous people it would take to save Sodom. But as it turns out, Lot couldn’t even make his own wife and youngest daughters just believe and come along willingly to escape destruction. They all had to be dragged out by force, and his wife still didn’t make it. His daughters didn’t turn out so good, either. Through incest they started idolatrous races that hated and fought against God’s people, the Moabites and the Ammonites. Somewhere along the line Lot’s choices didn’t impress the people he had influence over enough to make their own right choices.
Lot and his and his family’s choices stand in contrast to someone who really had no choice. In Joshua 2, it doesn’t say that Rahab chose to invite in the spies and offer to help them. Let’s do call her a harlot, because the Bible calls her that. She ran a business, and the men came to that business, which may also have been an inn. An inn seemed like a safe place for spies to go, usually, but the city fathers found out they were there … and yet, they weren’t there when the soldiers came to arrest them. Rahab may not have known who or what they were until she got some sort of split-second warning and made a split-second decision.
The Bible doesn’t say much about Rahab’s other choices in life, but it does say she had much the same information as Lot on which to base the big choice we do know about. She’d been warned destruction was coming soon. She hadn’t really even been offered a way out, though. She got herself one by bargaining. The spies promised her conditional safety, and she got that promise extended to her whole family.
The Bible says Rahab asked for safety for “her father’s household” which could have been a lot of people, perhaps the same number that Lot had the chance to influence. The condition was, everybody had to stay inside that house. She didn’t even know how or when the city was going to be overthrown. Seems as if the spies didn’t know yet. But Rahab got everybody into her house, much like Noah got everybody into the ark, and had to keep them there.
The very fact that she got them inside means they didn’t think she was joking, like Lot’s sons-in-law did. Did she get them in the day the spies left? Don’t know. Maybe. But days went by before anything happened. Remember that the spies showed up in Chapter 2, and the walls didn’t fall until Chapter 6. The following conversation is not in the Bible, but maybe this is how things went in Rahab’s house during those days.
“Rahab, I forgot my — ”
“Doesn’t matter what you forgot! Stay in the house!”
“Those people are just walking around with that thing under the blue sheet and those trumpets again, Aunt Rahab. Nothing’s happening. Can’t I go outside and play?”
“No! Stay in the house.”
“It’s been a week, Rahab. Can’t we just — ?”
“No! Stay in the house!”
Did you catch the fact that Rahab’s house was built on the wall? Did you catch the fact that the walls of Jericho came a-tumblin’ down? Imagine all these people crouching in each others’ arms with trumpets and shouting and rumbing and crashing all around them.
“But the walls are falling down, Rahab, and your house is on the wall!”
“Doesn’t matter! Stay inside!”
The Bible says they were all saved. “However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:25) Papa, mama, brothers and sisters, maybe even aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces. Don’t know for sure but remember it says her father’s household. A whole lot more people were saved this time than made it out of Sodom.
And there’s an even better result of Rahab’s choice. She became the wife of an Israelite, someone from the tribe of Judah. And the tribe of Judah is the family from which Jesus Christ was born. Good choice, Rahab.