Monday, October 10, 2016

Why does He still love us?

Have you ever read something that affected you with equally opposite emotions? This was my response to Ezekiel 16. In this passage, God describes to Jerusalem His great love for her people and their subsequent turning away into spiritual adultery. The description of the first is beautiful while the second is hideous.

God describes Jerusalem as a new born baby who was left in a pool of blood and about whom nobody cared. He loved that child and rescued her from death. But even after His many gifts and expressions' of love toward her, Jerusalem chose to seek "love" from others. The description is hideous and not one I care to describe right now.

Click here to read Ezekiel 16.

At the very end of the chapter, after sending judgment on the people of Jerusalem, God takes a remarkable action. Despite their unfaithfulness to Him, He announces His choice to keep His covenant with them and forgive them by atoning for their sin. This relationship between God and the Jewish people is amazing. But so is His relationship with Christians. Despite the sins which we are ashamed of, God has loved us and atoned for our sins through the gift of his Son Jesus. It brings up the age old question. After all we have done, why does He still love us?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rejected Silver

While I am driving, I hear radio advertisers talking about the value of investing in silver. No matter what day it is, it is the best time to invest because "silver may double in value this year!" There is no doubt that pure silver has value once it has been refined. But what if the impurities could not be removed from the metal? It would be rejected as unusable.

Jeremiah 6:29 (NKJV)

The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
The smelter refines in vain,
For the wicked are not drawn off.
People will call them rejected silver,
Because the LORD has rejected them.”

During Jeremiah's ministry, the Jewish people who lived in Jerusalem were known for their impure lives. God described Jerusalem as a place of oppression (6), a well full of wickedness (7), people who could not heed or delight in God's words (10), covetous (13), unable to blush (15), unwilling to listen (17), and stubborn rebels (28).

Despite God's great patience and warnings from prophets, the people of Jerusalem would not turn from their sins and obey the God who loved them. Because of their habitual sin-filled lifestyle, they got to a place where they were too wicked to change their ways. Every attempt to refine them was unsuccessful because they were not interested.

There comes a time when even God gives up on certain people. Just as a metal worker rejects impure silver after multiple attempts, so God rejected the wicked people of Jerusalem. It is a sober warning that God's warnings must be taken seriously because his mercy will last for only so long. Judgment came to Jerusalem in the form of a violent defeat by another nation. For those who reject God's ways today the final judgment will be even worse (Rev. 20:11-15). Take heed to God's warnings and turn to Him before it is too late.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Prince of Peace and Family Conflicts

Those of us who have experienced the new birth know very well that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Through his death in our place, we have been forgiven for all our sins. And as a result, we are no longer enemies but have peace with God. This peace is a wonderful thing to experience. But it is readily apparent that not all people know this peace--even some who are very close to us.

This conflict is explained by Jesus in Matthew 10:34-36.*

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN's ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD"
Jesus came to reconcile man to God. But that peace, provided by the Prince of Peace, is not given to all indiscriminately. Those who continue in their sin and choose to rebel against God will never acquire it. This causes a problem for those of us who are on God's side. We often experience the brunt of the rebellion's anger against us because of our allegiance to Jesus. Our new life is a constant conflict with their lifestyle and goals.

This conflict can affect even the closest family relationships. Jesus said that following Him would bring division between father and son, daughter and mother, and many other relationships. We hate the division and if we could change things we would! We would love to share God's peace with those closest to us. But this deep seated hatred for God and his ways often wins leaving believing family members with great sadness.

But amidst this great sadness, there is one who can give peace despite the great conflict. That person is Jesus, the Prince of Peace. While at times the conflict worsens and our hearts are troubled, he promises to "keep him in perfect peace who trusts in Him." He also calls believers to "cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you." And when we take these difficulties to the Lord in prayer, with thanksgiving, Jesus promises "the peace of God that passes all understanding."

It would be easy for a believer facing family opposition to lose hope and become discouraged. Perhaps this describes you today. Please take some time today to not only understand the conflict but also to seek the peace that Jesus offers to you. He cares for you!

*Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Is that what you want?

This Tuesday, Ohio voters will make their voices heard at the polls. Some have suggested that conservatives should vote for Ohio Governor Kasich so that Donald Trump does not win Ohio's 66 delegates. The strategy is interesting because it might work. But is that what you want?

1. First of all, recognize that these ideas are based on flawed political polls. While we do rely on the media for information, these polls have often been wrong. Relying on the media and pollsters and voting for someone other than a true conservative in effect eliminates our voice in the discussion. Is that what you want?

2. If conservatives tried to beat Trump by voting for Kasich, there may be other consequences. For instance, Kasich might win Ohio and be convinced to continue running. That would most certainly continue the division amongst the Republican candidates. Is that what you want?

3. Think of another consequence. If none of the candidates have the required 1237 delegates at the end, it would lead to a contested convention. Instead of having a candidate who best reflects the will of the people, we would be turning the vote over to the party which has disappointed us with their most recent decisions. Is that what you want?

This Tuesday, I will not use the suggested strategy. Instead, I will vote for the candidate I believe will do the best job as president. That candidate is Ted Cruz. He is a conservative that has a proven record. If that is what you want, then vote accordingly.

The Arch of Kerguelen

This blog is named after the French territory, Isles de Kerguelen, in the South Indian Ocean. About 15 years ago, I came across the island on a map and read up on its history. You can read about it here. That also led to me writing two fictional children's stories about Kerguelen's voyage to the Desolation Islands. Interesting stuff ... at least to me.

One of the most interesting aspects of the island is the Arch of Kerguelen in Christmas Harbor. The 300 foot arch once proudly marked the harbor but has since fallen. On occasion, I will peruse Google for new pictures of the island or see what is happening there in the news. This afternoon, I found this artist's rendition of what the arch must have looked like when the island was discovered many years ago. Beautiful!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Who are the Sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4?

Both Peter and Jude mention angels who sinned and were judged by God. In both cases, the angel incident is coupled with another sinful situation mentioned in the book of Genesis. Peter mentions the Flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude also mentions the immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of that, some have linked these sinful angels to an immoral event which happened just before the Flood (Gen. 6:1-4).

"Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."

Here is a synopsis of what happened:
  1. Daughters were born and the sons of God noticed their beauty.
  2. The sons of God had marital relations with whomever they chose.
  3. God was not pleased with what happened.
  4. God gave them only 120 years until the judgment of The Flood.
  5. Nephilim existed at this time.
  6. The offspring became powerful men.

You now can understand why this passage has been difficult to interpret. But don’t be dismayed. Good men have differed as to how they have interpreted this passage. And some have changed their position back and forth. It is a difficult passage but one that God placed in the Book of Genesis for us to learn from. So, let’s take some time to learn God’s lesson from it.

Question: Who were the sons of God?

The sons of God were fallen angels. 1

The first interpretation says that fallen angels left their God-given role in heaven and chose to have relations with human women. The off-spring of these relationships were the Nephilim, a super-human race of people. What evidence is there for this interpretation?

a. The title “sons of God” refers to angels in other Old Testament books (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Dan 3:25).

While we are used to being called sons of God in the New Testament, “in the Old Testament the phrase ‘sons of God’ always refers to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).” 2 So, it would be natural to assume that angels are being talked about in Genesis 6.

b. It fits with New Testament usage (2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6).

It would seem that Peter and Jude had this passage in mind since they both referred to sinful situations recorded in the book of Genesis. “We are told in these epistles, ‘angels when they sinned’ (Peter), and ‘angels who did not keep their domain’ (Jude) were judged by God. In Jude especially, the comparison is drawn between the angels’ improper activity and the gross immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah when they ‘went after strange flesh.’” 3

c. Holy angels do not marry but fallen ones might.

One of the biggest obstacles to this view is that angels are spirits who only occasionally take human form. And consider “that Matthew 22:30 declares, ‘At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.’ However, the text does not say ‘angels are not able to marry.’ Rather, it indicates only that angels do not marry. Second, Matthew 22:30 is referring to the ‘angels in heaven.’ It is not referring to fallen angels, who do not care about God’s created order and actively seek ways to disrupt God’s plan. The fact that God’s holy angels do not marry or engage in sexual relations does not mean the same is true of Satan and his demons.” 2 Satan and his demons seem to actively push humans toward immorality and sexual sins.

“However, while angels are spiritual beings (Hebrews 1:14), they can appear in human, physical form (Mark 16:5). The men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to have sex with the two angels who were with Lot (Genesis 19:1-5). It is plausible that angels are capable of taking on human form, even to the point of replicating human sexuality and possibly even reproduction.”2

d. Early Hebrew commentators favored this view.

Commentators say that “earlier Hebrew interpreters and apocryphal and pseudopigraphal writings are unanimous in holding to the view that fallen angels are the 'sons of God' mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4.” 2 This doesn’t guarantee that this is the correct interpretation but does say something.

The sons of God were the descendants of Seth.

This interpretation says that “the sons of God” were descendants of the godly line of Seth and that “the daughters of men” refers to the ungodly descendants of Cain. But what evidence is there to support this interpretation?

a. The previous chapters differentiate the ungodly line of Cain and godly line of Seth.

Genesis 4 records the downward spiral of Cain and his descendants. Genesis 5, however, records the godly line of Adam’s other son, Seth. Since these two groups were just differentiated, it seems that they could be the two groups referred to in Genesis 6. “Moses, having enumerated in order, ten patriarchs, with whom the worship of God remained pure, now relates, that their families also were corrupted.” 5

b. They took wives (normal marriage union).

The Hebrew word for “took wives” is the normal word for the marriage relationship and not an immoral relationship. This would fit better with the normal idea of a human man and woman being in a normal relationship.

c. There is no other reference to angels in the context.

Nowhere else in this passage is there any reference to angels. It seems strange that angels pop up all of a sudden with no other reference to them.

d. The angels in heaven “neither marry or are given in marriage” (Matt. 22:30).

This is probably the strongest argument against them being angels. Jesus told his questioners that in the resurrection, people will be like the angels in heaven who do not marry. Angels in heaven do not get married, so why would we think that fallen angels would do this either? It would seem odd for fallen angels to take human form (which they can) and then be able to father human children.

e. This describes the indiscriminate marriage of godly and ungodly people.

“It is also consistent with and forms the foundation for a principle taught throughout God’s Word, the extreme importance of marrying only within the family of God (Exo 34:11-16; 2nd Cor 6:14-18). The Bible relates many tragic lessons from the lives of those who did not heed God’s prohibition of ‘spiritual intermarriage,’ eg. Esau, Samson, Solomon. ... As God’s people observed the ways of the world, they tragically were lured away from a relationship with God by the riches and beauty of the women of the world, and all that the world offered. And so, equipped with the blessings of a Godly heritage combined with the skillful application of worldly methods—for a while—the unholy alliance of the ‘sons of God’ and ‘the daughters of men’ resulted in greatness for the offspring.” 3

f. Men are punished in this passage not angels.

God’s response to the situation is to point out that man is flash in a negative way. But there is no mention of angels being judged for their part in the problem. This seems to point to both groups being human.


I honestly don’t know which interpretation is correct. There are compelling arguments on either side. The first involving fallen angels seem a bit too fantastical for me. But with how wicked Satan and demons in their opposition to anything godly, it wouldn’t surprise me. The second idea seems to fit the context but doesn’t explain what sin of the angels referred to in 2 Peter and Jude.

In either case, “children of these marriages, despite pagan ideas, were not god-kings. Though heroes and ‘men of renown,’ they were flesh; and they died, in due course, like all members of the human race. When God judges the world—as He was about to—no giant, no deity, no human has any power against Him. God simply allots one's days and brings his end.” 4

This is the main point in both 2 Peter and Jude. God will judge sin and nobody can get away with it no matter how powerful or what his background – even angels can’t get away with sin. God will judge all men and angels one day and we can count on that. So…

Don’t think that wicked men will get away with their sins.

Do you realize that every wicked man of Noah’s day was destroyed by God in the Great Flood? Do you also realize that all of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone? Why then do we think that God is oblivious to what sinful man is doing? Trust God to be who He is -- both compassionate and patient but also fully aware and doing what He deems best for the situation.

Don’t think that you will get away with your sins.

Secondly, consider your own sin. It is easy to think that this is all about someone else. But for those of you who have not repented of your sin and received Jesus, the precedent has been set. You cannot escape God’s judgement no matter how powerful you are or how great your background. The only way you can escape is by repenting of your sin and believing what Jesus has accomplished for you. He, though perfect, took your sins upon himself and died in your place, so that God could justly forgive you for your sins. Your only hope of escaping judgment is to repent of your sin and cry out to God for mercy because of what Jesus has done for you. Don’t wait until your time comes because then it will be too late.

1 The basic outline was taken from a sermon by Gil Rugh, “Wickedness, Flood, and Covenant,” found at on 2/18/2016.

2 “Who were the sons of God and daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4?” as viewed at on 2/18/2016.

3 “Sons of God in Genesis 6” as viewed at on 2/18/2016.

4 "Genesis" in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament (PocketBible edition)

5 Calvin, John, "Genesis" in Classic Bible Commentary (PocketBible edition)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

You won't get away with that!

As the victim watched the thief run away with his wallet, there was nothing he could do but yell those famous words. "You won't get away with this!" But is that really true? Criminals get away with burglary, abuse, and murder on a daily basis. If they are never caught, how can you say such a thing? You can say it because the Bible says so.

In 2 Peter 2:9 we read that God is able to "keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment." How does he do this? The word “keep” means “to keep under guard.” It gives the idea that God has the wicked on a short leash throughout life and will not let them escape their just reward for their rebellion against Him. Scripture tells us that all of the wicked will one day be judged by the Lord Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). But Peter is not just speaking about the future. God currently keeps the unrighteous under punishment. But how does He do that?

It may seem that the wicked get away with their sins, but He, in fact, gives them over to their sin and allows them to get the results which come from practicing evil. In Romans 1:26-32, Paul describes the results given to those who reject God to pursue evil. He makes it very clear that God does not let them get away with their sins. They progressively get worse.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption.” –Galatians 6:7-8 NASB

Perhaps you have known someone who was unfaithful to his wife. While the momentary pleasure may have been enjoyable and unknown to anyone else, an adulterer never gets away with his sin. As he continues down that path, God's judgment causes him to have a sense of mistrust, a lack of self-control, an addiction to what he can never fulfill. And this wickedness often leads to divorce, multiple marriages, and even medical problems. God will not allow sinful man to get away with his sin now or in the future.

Are you someone who thinks he can get away with sin? Are you under the impression that nobody knows and so you have gotten away with it? Stop deceiving yourself! God will never let you get away with your sin now or in the future. Before you are crushed by the consequences of your sin and face the future consequences, fall on your face before God, repent of your sin, and plead with him for mercy through Jesus Christ the Lord! He is your only hope. Without Him, you will face the just punishment for your sin against God.