How does a person find God? Someone suggested it’s like leading them into a dark room and encouraging them to find a light switch on the wall.
I have some experience going into total darkness and finding the switch, but I’ll only enter if I know where the switch is. Can a believer tell or show someone else where the switch is?
I think that’s the wrong question. God is the light of the world. There is no darkness in him, and he is not in darkness.
Where, then, does darkness come from? The simple answer is that darkness comes from Satan, and if people are looking for a switch, then the switch must be the light of God in a believer.… Read the rest
Construction of the ark, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)
According to Romans 1:18, the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. It seems at first that Noah’s flood could be Exhibit A.
Except that a careful reading shows that nowhere in the Genesis account of the flood does “wrath,” “anger,” or any synonym occur!
The first time “anger” occurs in the King James Bible is Genesis 27:45 to describe Esau. “Wrath” first occurs is Genesis 39:19, which describes Potiphar after his wife accused Joseph of attempted rape. Abraham asked God not to be angry in Genesis 18:30 when the two were bargaining over the fate of Sodom.… Read the rest
Moses and the burning bush / Raphael, ca. 1515
Fire appears in the Bible a lot.
- God is like a refining fire (Malachi 3:2).
- His word is like a fire and like a hammer that breaks the rock (Jeremiah 23:29). Three friends of Daniel spent some time in a fiery furnace.
- Elijah called down fire on the men sent to arrest him (2 Kings 1:10, 12).
- James and John wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54).
- Tongues of fire appeared over 120 people in the upper room on Pentecost (Acts 2:3).
- And during the Exodus God appeared as a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21-22).
… Read the rest
Hannah’s Prayer in the Temple / Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (mid 19th century)
Jonah is the story of a disobedient prophet who repented. Eli is the story of a disobedient priest who did not. Jonah comes across as petulant even when he finally did God’s bidding. Eli seems in nearly all of his dealings as a very godly man. Jonah’s story is familiar enough that I won’t summarize it here, but I suppose many fewer readers even know who Eli was.
We first encounter Eli in the first chapter of 1 Samuel, where he is a bit player. Hannah, a barren woman taunted by her husband’s other wife, prayed silently, but in great anguish, at the tabernacle.… Read the rest
Ecce Homo (Behold! The Man) / Antonio Ciseri, 1871. “The humble king they named a fraud, and sacrificed the Lamb of God.”
God is all-powerful, but when he chose to use his power to become a man, he also chose not to use power like other men. It is Satan who turns power into something coercive and egocentric.
It would be nice if we could say that Christians understand the situation and exercise power as Jesus did. Unfortunately, we can truthfully say no more than that some do, and they successfully imitate Christ maybe only some of the time.
… Read the rest
Two Old Men Disputing / Rembrandt, 1628. The two old men are often interpreted as Peter and Paul
In Fiddler on the Roof, the rabbi’s son asked if there were a proper blessing for the tsar. “A blessing for the tsar? Of course. ‘May God bless and keep the tsar—far away from us.”
I imagine someone asked one of the ancient temple singers if there were a proper blessing for the Gentiles. The answer was almost as short, but profoundly different:
“Oh praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud him all you peoples! For his merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever.” – Psalm 117 (NKJV)
Who are Gentiles?… Read the rest
This picture was also taken from eastern Colorado, but we traveled for hours before the mountains looked this close.
When I was in high school, my dad went on sabbatical and obtained a visiting professorship in California. He decided to buy a trailer and camp across the country with the family to get there from northwestern Ohio. It turned out to be a great idea, but the trip got off to a terrible start.
The absolute worst night came in eastern Colorado, where the official state map had shown a camping place. The state highway to get there turned out to have been abandoned.… Read the rest
Many people in the church today simply assume that all humanity is one large family, with God as its Father. They take offense at the thought that maybe some people are not God’s children.
Do they realize that they are taking offense at Jesus himself? Oh well. Religious people have always found Jesus offensive.
… Read the rest
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”
That familiar quotation is falsely attributed to Blaise Pascal, but it’s a reasonable paraphrase of what he actually wrote.
It’s true, no matter who put it in those words. Trouble is, sinful man has tried to fill it with something else—anything else—besides God since time immemorial.
What “spiritual” atheists think about God
I recently came across an article that talks about a remarkably high percentage of atheists who nonetheless consider themselves somehow “religious” or “spiritual.”
… Read the rest
Christ Enthroned: West Portal, St. Colman’s Cathedral, (Cobh, Ireland)
The kingdom of God is not like other kingdoms or nations. Since time immemorial, when one nation has invaded another, the invaded nation knows. Eventually so does everyone else who cares at all.
Most of you can probably name the years for the last two or three times Germany invaded France. It doesn’t have to be an invasion with armies, either. Regardless of where you stand on immigration, you have to know that a lot of Latin America has taken residence in the US.
Has there ever been any kind of invasion on earth where it was not clear just who was invading?… Read the rest