Category Archives: Bible Teaching

The Beginning of the Gospel — Post by Michael J. Findley

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This is the record of the life of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1

The Jews knew the Law, the Old Testament, and understood the Messiah. This introduction to the first gospel ever written, just a few years after the resurrection of the Messiah, was either a declaration of the power of God or absolute blasphemy. To the Jewish audience and non-Jews who understood Judaism, this was the clearest possible declaration that Jesus had the legal authority to be the Messiah.

Since many people have attempted to write an orderly account of the events that have transpired among us, just as they were passed down to us by those who had been eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning, I, too, have carefully investigated everything from the beginning and have decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-4

Written after Matthew, probably before Mark, and decades before John, Luke was the only gospel writer who did not personally witness the life of Jesus on earth. Luke’s gospel is based on careful investigation of eyewitnesses. This provides us a different point of view, probably a Greek point of view. Because of his Greek name, many also assume that Luke was not a Jew. Since many people attempted to write about the Messiah, we know that the Spirit of God did not see fit for most of these attempts to survive.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1

Mark is the gospel to the Romans, written decades after Matthew and Luke were well known. It was intended to communicate as much information as possible to very busy people who, at least on the first read, would not spend much time with yet another religious book. However, Romans were used to multitasking and assimilating written material.

So what is this beginning of the gospel? It immediately relies on the authority of the Old Testament, “As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet…” Mark 1:2

Under Solomon, Israel controlled the eastern Mediterranean and sent trading ships far beyond any boundaries the Romans knew. They defeated a million-man army out of Egypt and Africa. Israel still existed as a nation, unlike Assyria, Persia, the Hittites, the Babylonians, and the other kingdoms of the Middle East.

Jews friendly to Rome lived throughout the Roman Empire, including in Rome. The Jewish temple of Herod was larger, covered in gold and the most magnificent building in the entire Roman Empire. The thick, tall walls combined with the water supply of the pools of Bethesda made Jerusalem more defensible than any city in the Roman Empire, including Rome. Jerusalem was also rebellious and difficult to govern. For these and many other reasons, the average Roman was very much of aware of the Jews and their prophets, even if they did not know Isaiah by name.

The Romans also believed in a recent creation by God, or gods, as described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The Romans believed in just laws and just administration of those laws. Though Roman beliefs were very different from taught by Moses and in the Torah, Mark believed that he could omit Creation and the Law from his gospel and go immediately to Jesus the Messiah based on the prophets and the testimony of John the Baptist.

Decades later the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were known throughout the Roman Empire and available to anyone who was interested. John wrote the final gospel to the philosophical Greeks to combat Gnosticism. He took a very different approach, beginning with Creation and Jesus as the Creator.

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And God was the Word. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made which was made. John 1:1,2.

Creation is where God’s revelation to the Jews begins.

In the beginning, God created the universe. Genesis 1:1

The entire universe came into existence by God speaking it into existence. God did not wave a wand, cast a spell, or use intermediates such as angels. God did not think the universe into existence. God spoke it into existence. Without creation, there is no gospel.

For by him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether they are kings, lords, rulers, or powers. All things have been created through him and for him. He himself existed before anything else did, and he holds all things together. Colossian 1:16,17

He holds everything together by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

“What happened to the Messiah’s promise to return? Ever since our ancestors died, everything continues as it did from the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately ignore the fact that long ago the heavens existed and the earth was formed by God’s word out of water and with water, by which the world at that time was deluged with water and destroyed. 2 Peter 3:4-6

All Scriptures are from the International Standard Version.

Image Credit: The Four Evangelists — Painting by Jacob Jordaens  1625–1630. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen (2005), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

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To Glorify God — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:14

Let your light shine before people in such a way that they will see your good actions and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Every believer I know agrees that every thought and action should glorify God; many with a shrug. because it should go without saying. But many who call themselves believers simply are not living this way.

However, when the woman saw that the tree produced good food, was attractive in appearance, and was desirable for making one wise, she took of its fruit and ate it. Then she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate some, too. As a result, they both understood what they had done, and they became aware that they were naked. Genesis 3:6,7

“If you think it’s the wrong thing for you to serve the Lord [Wrong; certainly not. Inconvenient at times. It’s just that serving the Lord isn’t always the thing I want to do.], then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve—the gods whom your ancestors served on the other side of the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose territories you are living. (Certainly not. My gods were only invented a few years ago.) But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

There will be suffering and anguish for every human being who practices doing evil, for Jews first and for Greeks as well. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who practices doing good. Romans 2:9,10

Who are you to tell me that doing what I enjoy is evil?

I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. Romans 12:1,2

To the messenger of the church in Laodicea, write:
‘The Amen, the witness who is faithful and true, the originator of God’s creation, says this:

‘I know your actions, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. Since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich. I have become wealthy. I don’t need anything.” Yet you don’t realize that you are miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore, I advise you to buy from me gold purified in fire so you may be rich, white clothes to wear so your shameful nakedness won’t show, and ointment to put on your eyes so you may see. I correct and discipline those whom I love, so be serious and repent! Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me. I will give a place to sit with me on my throne to the one who overcomes, just as I have overcome and have sat down with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:14-21

All Scriptures are from the International Standard Version (ISV)

Public domain image from a painting by  John Rogers Herbert

 

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Music In The Early Church — post by Michael J. Findley

lastsupperJesus and the disciples attended Jewish synagogues and temple worship. These services included stringed, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The book of Psalms was the hymn book of the second temple. After finishing the Passover meal they sang a hymn, presumably not a Psalm, and presumably without instruments, before walking across the Kidron Valley to the garden of Gethsemane. Until forced out, first century Christians continued to worship in synagogues and follow Jewish customs.

Paul wrote to the new Gentile converts “Let the word of the Messiah inhabit you richly with wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and singing to God with thankfulness in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 and “Then you will recite to one another psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; you will sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts,” Ephesians 5:19. This admonition was taken by some to mean antiphonal singing, with either two choirs or dividing the congregation into two parts and alternating the parts of the hymn or song.

Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to Trajan (61-113) about the proper punishment of Christians. “They had been accustomed to come together on a fixed day before daylight and to sing responsively a song to Christ as God.” (AD 112?)

Five times in the book of Revelation a song is sung in heaven; 5:9, 5:11, 14:1, 14:3, 15:3. Harps are played heaven. Revelation 5:8, 14:2, and 15:2. The musical instruments of Babylon are condemned, Revelation 18:22. Trumpets in heaven are sounded, but not used as musical instruments. Zechariah 9:14, Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Hebrews 12:19, Revelation 1:10, 4:1, 8:2, 6,7,8,10,12,13, 9:1,13,14

Justin the Martyr wrote (AD 155?) in his Apology to the Emperor Chapter 13 “to use [material possessions] for ourselves and those who need, and with gratitude to Him to offer thanks by invocations and hymns for our creation …”

“Chapter 41. The crucifixion predicted And again, in another prophecy, the Spirit of prophecy, through the same David, intimated that Christ, after He had been crucified, should reign, and spoke as follows: Sing to the Lord, all the earth, and day by day declare His salvation. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, to be feared above all the gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols of devils; but God made the heavens. Glory and praise are before His face, strength and glorying are in the habitation of His. Give Glory to the Lord, the Father everlasting. Receive grace, and enter His presence, and worship in His holy courts. Let all the earth before His face; let it be established, and not shaken. Let them rejoice among the nations. The Lord has reigned from the tree.”

Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome, approximately AD 235? “Then, rising up after supper, the children and virgins having prayed, they shall sing psalms. Then the deacon, holding the mixed cup of the offering, shall say a Hallelujah Psalm. Then, the presbyter having commanded, ‘And also such-and-such Psalms,’ after the bishop has offered the cup with the proper thanksgiving, all shall say “Hallelujah” as the Psalms are sung. And they shall say: We praise Him who is God most high; Glorified and praised is He, Then, when the Psalm is completed, he shall give thanks over the bread, and shall give the fragments to all the believers.”

Music had only two purposes in the earliest Church. It was used to instruct, build up, edify, believers. It was also used in direct address to God to worship God. There are no recorded instances of performing music to please those who listened. Performing music just to please the listeners has been condemned as a sin by thousands of pastors for over 1500 years. At the same time, music to glorify God is essential to worship in the Christian Church. The Spirit of the prophet must be controlled by the prophet and this includes music.
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Review of Lumen5 by Mary C. Findley

Lumen5 is an online video creation package we are currently subscribing to. For many years we hoped that we could quickly and easily create videos based on our blog and our books. We have purchased equipment and programs and tried free and paid services to do our video work. People often pay more attention to videos than the printed word. We wanted to reach as broad an audience as possible.

The problem was that “quickly and easily” part. We tried voice recordings. We tried live capture “talking head” videos. We tried greenscreening. (Yes, one wall of our garage is painted green.) We tried just capturing cooking adventures, backyard hummingbirds, and learning 3D programs. Every step of the way we hit snags and things took longer and longer while the message still wasn’t getting out.

That’s what we have always wanted, you see. To get the message of the truth of God’s Word out to as many people as possible. We have blog views from all over the world. People in maybe 20 countries have bought our books. But we want to get the message to more people, always.

Enter Lumen5. It’s a website where you can plug in the URL of a blog post or a few paragraphs of text, and the program will attempt to sort them into a maximum of about 40 screens of about 140 characters (roughly a 5 minute limit) each and pick out appropriate video and images. Its choices are sometimes downright weird but doing your own searches among their hefty collection of images and footage is easy and modifying the text position and style is also simple.

You can’t really create a video of substance in 5 minutes but you sure can in about an hour. All the visuals are public domain or Creative Commons licensed. You can add in your own visuals as long as they meet the specs.

Videos:
– filetypes: mp4, mov, gif
– maximum duration: 20 seconds
– maximum filesize: 50 MB
– minimum resolution: 480px by 480px
– framerate: 24-30fps (we don’t currently support 60fps)
– preferred MP4 video codec: H.264
– preferred MP4 audio codec: AAC

Our system may support other codecs, but we recommend H.264 and AAC. H.264 supports 8bit color depth. We don’t support alpha channels, green screens/chromakey, or masks.

Images:
1920 x 1080px.
– filetypes: jpg, png, bmp, webp
– maximum filesize: 50 MB
– minimum resolution: 480px by 480px

Right now there are limits, like only about 5 fonts. But they have a facebook community page where they are very responsive to questions, complaints, and kudos. They are working to add more options.

The free version has reduced size videos but everything else seems to work. There is a $50 monthly subscription option for larger video dimensions that can be put up into subscription services.

I see this as a way to teach all kinds of skills, to create book trailers, to advertise pretty much anything. At this point we are happily seeing what we can do with the program. It looks good. Many people are already selling promos, including major companies. Others create cat advice videos, corporate training, and a little of everything. And people are paying for these videos. It’s exciting to think that soon they might be paying for ours.

 

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Excerpt from Under the Sun: A Traditional View of Ancient History


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After the flood, the most rapid, massive cultural change on record is the Exodus. The time of the Exodus was a dramatic change for every culture on earth that we know about. Thousands of years before the label “Second Intermediate Period” existed, Jews, then Christians, then Muslims, understood that the Exodus was the destruction of all of Egypt. Understanding that the Second Intermediate Period was a result of the Exodus validates not only the Exodus, but the entire Old Testament as an accurate historical record. Secular Humanists refuse to acknowledge that the Exodus and the Second Intermediate Period are linked because the link validates the history of the entire Old Testament.

The Exodus ended Egypt’s thirteenth dynasty. The Exodus ushered in the Second Intermediate Period (SIP). An Egyptian document, the Ipuwer papyrus, describes conditions similar to several of the plagues and an invasion unopposed by an Egyptian army. The Exodus records both the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red (Reed) Sea and the Amalekites moving west toward Egypt. During the Second Intermediate Period Egypt was controlled by foreign Asiatic invaders. The loss of the entire Egyptian army explains why chariots and horses have never been found in any Middle Kingdom tomb.

The Exodus, which destroyed Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, left Egypt open to the Hyksos invasion. Foreign Asiatic invaders ruled Egypt during the SIP, with a capital just south of modern Cairo. Using a term from Josephus, modern archaeologists name these foreign rulers Hyksos. If they were the Amalekites, that certainly explains Balaam saying that Amalek was first of the nations (Numbers 24:20 NASB). Also, Amalek was headed towards Egypt when they met the Israelites as they left Egypt. With the CC date for the Thera eruption by 14C dating in the middle of the 17th century BC and the margin of error for 14C dating in the middle of 2nd millennium BC is roughly 100-150 years before than the actual date, that would place the Thera eruption at roughly the same time as not only the Exodus but also the Hyksos invasion of Egypt.

The Exodus began what archaeologists call the Second Intermediate Period for Egypt. This world wide cultural change fits well with Ussher’s 1491 BC date for the Exodus. The eruption of Thera destroyed not only the Aegean Sea Cycladic and Minoan civilizations, leaving the Mycenaean dominant but damaged every culture of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian world. The Exodus was near the beginning of what is known in China as the Shang dynasty. The unknown beginnings of the Shang empire are centuries earlier. But China sees the Shang dynasty replacing the Xia empire about 1491 BC. The rest of Asia, the rest of Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia, Japan, and Oceania still have no written documents. In these areas, our understanding of life after the Exodus is just as obscure as life before the Exodus. The many artifacts are difficult to interpret and date. Perhaps they were Ice Age, while Israel was in Egypt, or even after Israel was a nation.
The Second Intermediate Period in Egypt and the conquest of Canaan and the Judges for Israel was a time of severe upheavals for the subcontinent of India. India still had no written language that we know of. But this is the time of constant, pervasive warfare recorded centuries later in the Rigveda and the Mahabharata. Whether the Harappans were destroyed by Aryan invaders, internal warfare, natural disasters, or simply intermarried peacefully into the Vedic Culture, the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization was gone by (perhaps because of?) the Exodus 1491 BC. Without any certain links to other cultures outside of India at this time, it is impossible know if the Harappan culture still existed at this time. The CC views the era after the Exodus as the Vedic Age throughout India.

It is not even possible to agree on a name for this age for the Indian Subcontinent. Some scholars insist that this is the Aryan Age. Others, infuriated with this title, insist that there never were any Aryans in India. They believe this is the Vedic Age and only the Vedic Age. Still others, in an attempt to placate both, call this the Aryan/Vedic Civilization, which infuriates both groups. Still others call this time the Hindu Vedas period. Whatever you choose, many knowledgeable scholars will strongly disagree with your choice.

We know that the Indus Valley Civilization ceased to exist somewhere around this time. The major civilization moved from the modern southern Afghanistan/Pakistan/ Northwest India region east across the Himalayan mountains to the modern Bangladesh region and the Ganges River. It is impossible to be certain if this was a sudden or gradual transition. The Dravidian culture began during this time farther south in the area of modern central India.It is likely that the Exodus coincided with the eruption of a volcano on the island of Thera in the Aegean sea. This eruption, which destroyed much of the existing Cycladic and Minoan cultures, made the Mycenaean culture dominate in the Aegean Sea. The Mycenaean culture, which already existed, controlled the Aegean Sea after this eruption. The Second Intermediate Period in Egypt, the period of the Judges in Israel, the rise of the Mycenaean culture in the Aegean, and the rise of Phoenician culture in the eastern Mediterranean were all a result of the Thera eruption and the Exodus.

The historic birth of the nation of Israel, the Exodus, was not two million people walking nearly single file. It was a mass of terrified people with carts and animals (carts were mentioned as given to Lord at Sinai And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons… Numbers 7:3) crossing all at the same time. Unlike the Hollywood movies and Bible story books (which at times make the Bible seem like a fairy tale), they crossed en masse. Only a massed crossing would allow two million people with animals and carts to travel ten to fifteen miles in a single night.

Organization came later. Anyone who could not travel quickly rode in a cart or on an animal. They had an opening wide enough for all of children of Israel, about two million plus animals, to cross at nearly the same time. According to one manual of the USMC, one day’s forced march carrying gear is about twenty miles. It is a reasonable assumption that the wagons and pack animals made this a light crossing. That is, the children of Israel carried very little gear on their persons. Also, as slaves, they were used to hard work. Since parts of the Red (Reed) Sea are less than 15 miles across, this is a possible, though very difficult, crossing in a single night.

A very wide pathway also explains why Pharaoh’s army was deceived into following them. It was large enough to appear to be a permanent, or at least long term change to the sea. Pharaoh would have caught the Israelites before they reached the far shore. Except the dry ground Israel walked on turned to mud under the wheels of the Egyptian chariots.

Under the Sun is only 99 cents on Amazon

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What Is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Aldous Huxley called his Brave New World, “The nightmare of total organization …” As one of the most widely read books written in the 20th century, many people, like myself, read it as an English requirement without spending much time thinking about it.

“The nightmare of total organization, which I had situated in the seventh century After Ford, has emerged from the safe remote future and is now awaiting us, just around the next corner.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 (Aldous Huxley, about Brave New World, 1932)

When Aldous Huxley contrasted his fantasy world with Orwell’s 1984, he believed that his fantasy world, Brave New World, was more likely to become reality.

“The society described in 1984 is a society controlled almost exclusively by punishment and the fear of punishment. In the imaginary world of my own fable, punishment is infrequent and generally mild. The nearly perfect control exercised by the government is achieved by systematic reinforcement of desirable behavior, by many kinds of nearly non-violent manipulation, both physical and psychological, and by genetic standardization.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

“We who were living in the second quarter of the twentieth century A.D. were the inhabitants, admittedly, of a gruesome kind of universe; but the nightmare of those depression years was radically different from the nightmare of the future, described in Brave New World. Ours was a nightmare of too little order; theirs, in the seventh century A.F. [After Ford], of too much. In the process of passing from one extreme to the other, there would be a long interval, so I imagined, during which the more fortunate third of the human race would make the best of both worlds – the disorderly world of liberalism and much too orderly Brave New World where perfect efficiency left no room for freedom or personal initiative.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

Both 1984 and Brave New World are fantasies of total government control. Only the methods are different. The question Aldous Huxley raised is “Which method is more effective: fear of punishment or desire for acceptance and reward?” “In the light of what we have recently learned about animal behavior in general, and human behavior in particular, it has become clear that control through the punishment of undesirable behavior is less effective, in the long run, than control through the reinforcement of desirable behavior by rewards, and that government through terror works on the whole less well than government through the non-violent manipulation of the environment and of the thoughts and feelings of individual men, women and children.

“Punishment temporarily puts a stop to undesirable behavior, but does not permanently reduce the victim’s tendency to indulge in it. Moreover, psycho-physical by-products of punishment may be just as undesirable as the behavior for which the individual has been punished. Psychotherapy is largely concerned with the debilitating or anti-social consequences of past punishments.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

I, and many others, am not too certain that Brave New World Revisited is not an entirely accurate view of the fantasy nightmare published in 1932. Brave New World ends with John, also called the Savage, hanging himself. John certainly viewed that civilization as an inescapable nightmare. The very terminology of Brave New World is the language of a nightmare. Yet if Aldous Huxley did not believe these principles to be good and desirable, he seems to at least believe that they were inevitable. “…impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously accelerated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new techniques for manipulation, in the interest of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.” Brave New World Revisited

It certainly shows a lack of understanding to deny the influence of evil spirits. It seems odd, even hypocritical, that Huxley believed representatives of organizations are impersonal.  Yet the justifications for total organization spoken by Mustapha Mond, Resident World Controller of Western Europe [one of ten throughout the world], when talking to John, Bernard, and Helmholz in a private meeting to banish Bernard and Helmholz, seem to represent what Aldous Huxley believed in 1931. “Because our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers without steel—and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.” Mustapha Mond Brave New World p. 245

This view, expressed by World Controller Mustoapha Mond, is very similar to the written goals of Secular Humanism. They believe it to be a good goal. Plato’s Republic uses very similar, though not identical, goals for his ideal government. It is similar to the stated goals of the French Revolution, Karl Marx, and even Fascism. All of these found that the reinforcement of desirable behavior through rewards failed to control enough people and turned to force as in the 1984 fantasy. These governments believed in control first and foremost. While reinforcement of desirable behavior was preferred, control was essential and whatever methods were necessary were used. This was historic reality.

Aldous Huxley believed that the tools to manipulate desirable behavior would be improved and become more pervasive. However, even in the total fantasy of fiction, Mustapha Mond had to lie, perhaps even deceiving himself to make his case. The phrase (sentence actually), “they’re not afraid of death” is a lie. It might be that citizens of the Brave New World are too busy and too conditioned to face or even think about death. But the death of John’s mother Linda shows death when they actually faced it. She returned to civilization after living for decades on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico.

“At forty-four, Linda seemed, by contrast, a monster of flaccid and distorted senility.” p 223 She choose to escape reality and live entirely in a drug (soma) induced wonderland until her death shortly after her return.””Every one belongs to every …” Her voice suddenly died into an almost inaudible breathless croaking. Her mouth fell open: she made a desperate effort to fill her lungs with air. But it was as though she had forgotten how to breathe. She tried to cry out-but no sound came; only the terror of her staring eyes revealed what she was suffering. Her hands went to her throat, then clawed at the air–the air she could no longer breathe, the air that, for her, had ceased to exist.

“The Savage [her adult son John] was on his feet, bent over her. “What is it, Linda? What is it?” His voice was imploring; it was as though he were begging to be reassured. “The look she gave him was charged with an unspeakable terror—with terror and, it seemed to him, reproach.  “She tried to raise herself in bed, but fell back on to the pillows. Her face was horribly distorted, her lips blue.” pp. 227,8

They were conditioned to believe that death ended everything. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The individual existed solely to support the community. Solitude and independent thinking were heretical. It was a society with no moral purpose or even reason for existing.  Any attempt to obey any form of tradition outside of society’s conditioning was wrong and produced a guilty conscience. Huxley uses the third person omnipotent point of view to explain this.

“In the taxicopter he [John] hardly even looked at her [Lenina]. Bound by strong vows that had never been pronounced, obedient to laws that had long since ceased to run, [marriage and chastity] he sat averted and in silence. Sometimes, as though a finger had plucked at some taut, almost breaking string, his whole body would shake with a sudden nervous start.” p. 186Mustapha Mond shows that this moral vacuum is the result of rigidly enforced choices.

“”The author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published.” He [Mustapha Mond—Resident World Controller of Western Europe; 1 of 10 world controllers] underlined the words. “The author will be kept under supervision. His transference to the Marine Biological station of St. Helena may become necessary.”

“”A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose-well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher casts-make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible.

“He picked up his pen again, and under the words “Not to be published” drew a second line, thicker and blacker than the first; then sighed. “What fun it would be,” he thought, “if one didn’t have to think about happiness!”” p.195

The fantasy nightmare Brave New World government exists solely to produce happiness. This happiness can only be brought about by conformity “”Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, one of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrown by passion of doubt. Happiness is never grand.”” [Mustapha Mond]  p. 246

Like the very real European Dark Ages, the greatest crime is novelty, something new. The established religion of government declares itself to be infallible. “Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.” [Mustapha Mond]   p. 250

“Yes,” Mustapha Mond was saying, “that’s another item in the cost of stability. It isn’t only art that’s incompatible with happiness; it’s also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled.” p. 250

Is this so different from today? Today, people today also claim to believe in science. “”Yes; but what sort of science?” asked Mustapha Mond sarcastically. “You’ve had no scientific training, so you can’t judge. I was a pretty good physicist in my time. Too good-good enough to realize that all our science is just a cookery book, with an orthodox theory of cooking that nobody’s allowed to question, and a list of recipes that mustn’t be added to except by special permission from the head cook. I’m the head cook now.”” p. 251

“Helmholtz laughed. “Then why aren’t you on an island yourself?” “Because, finally, I preferred this,” the Contoller answered. “I was given the choice: to be sent to an island, where I could have got on with my purer science, or to be taken on to the Controllers’ Council with the prospect of succeeding in due course to an actual Controllership. I chose this and let the science go.” After a little silence, “Sometimes,” he added, “I rather regret the science. Happiness is a hard master-particularly other people’s happiness. A much harder master, if one isn’t conditioned to accept it unquestioningly, than truth.” He sighed, fell silent again, then continued in a brisker tone, “Well, duty’s duty. One can’t consult one’s own preference. I’m interested in truth, I like science. But truth’s a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it’s been beneficent. It has given us the stablest equilibrium in history…” p.253 Brave New World, written 1931, published 1932

This mythical “stable equilibrium” has never existed and never will exist without God. Aldous Huxley observed the advances the ruling elite have made. “why has the nightmare, which I had projected into the seventh century A.F., made so swift an advance in our direction?” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

For those who deny God and claim that His purposes cannot be known, the warnings of Brave New World are the best they can do. They understand the results of certain forms of evil. They understand that this vision of the future is a nightmare. But without God, their solutions are only other nightmares of various forms. Without God, there are many other possible nightmare scenarios besides a totalitarian 1984 verses a manipulative Brave New World.

“But as it is written, No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9 quoting Isaiah 64:6 ISV)

“You cause me to know the path of life; in your presence is joyful abundance, at your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 116:11 ISV)

“And since I’m going away to prepare a place for you, I’ll come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am.” (John 14:3 ISV)

“Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we will be like has not been revealed yet. We know that when the Messiah is revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 ISV)

“For everything that is in the world–the desire for fleshly gratification, the desire for possessions, and worldly arrogance–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world and its desires are fading away, but the person who does God’s will remains forever.” (1 John 2:16, 17)

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Isaiah Chapter 3: Culture of Youth and Beauty — Post by Mary C. Findley

430px-August_Riedel_Judith_1840
Sounds like Jerusalem and Judah had it pretty good, right? Look over that list of material provision (support system, food, water) and leadership (military, judiciary, teachers, advisers, craftsmen, and someone who may have been a charismatic speaker or influencer). The use of the phrase skillful enchanter gives us a hint that they weren’t sourcing any of their things or their leaders from the right place.

We worship a culture of youth and have for a long time, and here God gives people what they want, youngsters in charge, with disastrous results. People begin to take advantage of each other and the honorable suffer at the hands of these childish rulers. One guy with an intact coat will be grabbed and thrust into leadership, if anybody can make him do it. Apparently nobody will have much more than a coat in those days. Certainly not a will to give proper leadership.

Verses 8 and 9 make it clear that the people oppose God and flaunt their rebellion. When disaster comes, they can’t pretend it wasn’t their own fault. Public sins have public consequences.

Time to reassure the righteous in verse 10. No matter how bad things seem to get, it will go well with them. And in verse 11 another reassurance we often need when, as the Scriptures say in other places, this question hangs in the air: “Why do the wicked prosper?” God says things will turn bad for the wicked. “Let the punishment fit the crime,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado says. God says the wicked will get what they deserve.

Once again God restates in verse 12 that His people are oppressed because they wanted unsuitable rulers – immature, inexperienced, leading the people down twisting paths.
God will judge these rulers. Make no mistake. I’m pretty sure those crushing and grinding references refer at least in part to taxes. People tend to think that government takes care of the poor with welfare and social services. But it doesn’t work that way when corruption takes hold. God is outraged at the twisted mentality that steals from people who already have too little.

Verses 16-24 detail a culture that should be very recognizable to us today. Is it a sin to want to be beautiful and have pretty things? Look at the words used: proud, seductive. Women can bring down a whole culture by worshiping self, sexuality, beauty. Dressing little girls in revealing outfits is starting them down the road to sensuality without reserve. Females scream about their rights and their freedoms Modesty has become kind of an obsolete term but God hates that mentality.

God will send scabs into that beautiful hair. He will make it fall out, or pluck it out. All that long list of pretty things will disappear and be replaced by stench, coarseness, and disfigurement.

The men they have gotten themselves dressed up for will be dying in battle, trying to save their women, but failing. All that emphasis on self, on attracting attention, will change to mourning and loneliness.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
1. What clues indicate that God’s people were prosperous but not by depending on Him?
2. Briefly explain what kinds of oppression take place when the wrong kind of rulers get into power.
3. What are some proofs that these people deserve what they get when destruction overtakes them?
4. Give examples in modern culture of women lacking understanding of modesty.
5. Do you think women have in some cases made it more difficult for men to protect them? Explain your answer.

Your Turn in the Microcosm
Can you see any way in which Isaiah 3 resembles Leviticus? God spelled out laws, described beautiful garments, and even gave proper age ranges for his different kinds of servants. The story of Nadab and Abihu might help provide an example that parallels how people sometimes respond to God’s expectations. There are rewards and punishments in Leviticus. Step into the microcosm and share your observations on how we should really be seeking God’s blessing or avoiding His wrath.

Image Credit: Artist August Riedel Title: Judith Current location: Neue Pinakothek Source/Photographer: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen Wikimedia Commons

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