The Bible endorses monuments of some kinds and condemns others.
They erected a pile of stones a day’s journey from the Jordan as a reminder of God’s leadership during the Exodus. In fact, they even set up a similar pile in the middle of the Jordan so that, in times of drouth when the water level dropped, everyone would see that as a reminder that God led them through those dark days.
They set up a stone memorial and called it Ebenezer, “stone of help,” as a testimony to God’s provisions. They had no “graven images,” of course, but they had plenty of other memorials.
They tore down altars to false gods, statues of false gods, and relics used in worshiping those gods.
And they sometimes destroyed something that had been good and noble and holy. Yep. Sometimes, they destroyed a good thing.
Please read on.
“Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1749. Yet because of opposition from local clergymen–man should not dare ‘avert the stroke of heaven’–the lighthouse did not receive protection from God’s thunderbolts for more than two decades.” –The New York Review, May 26, 2016
Imagine the thinking of some people: We shouldn’t protect ourselves from lightning, lest we interfere with God’s judgment.
Abandoning their responsibility, criticizing those trying to help, and blaming their warped thinking on God.
“This is how God set things up.”
Interesting theology, I think we can say.
If we carried that reasoning to its natural lengths, no one should wear seat belts or repair the brakes on cars just in case the Father in Heaven had planned to kill us that morning.
God should always be given a free hand in these things.
“…seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
We hear it all the time and we preachers are not shy about proclaiming divine intercession. One member of the Trinity interceding with the other Two, or even two members of the Trinity interceding with the Third. If I sound unsure about this subject, it’s because there is much that eludes me.
One. The mystery of divine intercession: What does it look like? What’s going on in Heaven when it happens?
This would be a good time for me to describe what I think goes on at the Throne when intercession is taking place. I’ll pass, thank you. This is far beyond my poor powers to imagine.
Some guy in Alabama ticked me off.
I was driving back to New Orleans from two weeks of ministry in Tennessee and Kentucky when I bought a Birmingham (AL) News in Tuscaloosa. At a rest stop in Mississippi, I scanned it and was snagged by a letter to the editor written by an outspoken agnostic.
After reading it and steaming a little, I tossed the paper in the trash. Later, wished I’d kept it just for reference here. So I’m going by memory.
The writer wanted the world to know that the tornadoes Alabama had just experienced proves beyond doubt either that there is no God or if there is, He is a tyrant who delights in doing cruel things.
He was clearly proud of his great letter. Betcha he clipped it and is displaying it somewhere prominently in his house.
I’m wondering now if anyone responded to the editor and answered the letter. Probably not. The Bible cautions against answering fools, and this guy surely belongs in that category.
“No one is taking my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18)
“Now is the judgement of this world; now is the ruler of this world cast out.” (John 12:31)
It was the moment Jesus had come for.
He was headed to the cross.
For Jesus, going to the cross was not Plan B.
God did not shake His head in disgust at mankind’s messing up His pretty plans and decide He would have to take drastic action. “This is not how I had planned it, but those pesky humans leave me no other choice!”
God was not blindsided by mankind’s sin nor thwarted by our human frailties. “Okay, heavenly host—engage backup plan. Everyone–Plan B!”
Did not happen.
The Lord knew from the beginning what He had and who He was dealing with.
“If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:46-47).
I believe in God because I believe in butterflies.
I believe in God because I’ve seen a baby and held one and watched it grow into adulthood. And I have seen him hold babies of his own in his arms.
I believe in God because I watched the sunrise this morning.
I believe in God because of a lack of turbulence. As the earth spins around its axis, as the earth speeds around its orbit, as our solar system zooms through the galaxy, and as the galaxy tears across the heavens at enormous speeds, you and I don’t feel a thing. We can lay a ball on the ground today and it’s still there tomorrow morning, unmoved. I find that truly amazing.
I believe in God because of Jesus.
I believe in God because of the character of Jesus. He told Nicodemus, “No one has been to Heaven except the One who came from there,” pointing to Himself (John 3:13).
I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous or extortioners or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. (I Corinthians 5:10)
They accuse me of stirring the pot, of introducing subjects sure to draw fire, of intentionally being controversial. Nothing I say convinces them otherwise, even when all I did was to state something God’s people hold dear.
Almost all the key doctrines of the Christian faith someone will find objectionable and some will take offense at.
If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. –I Corinthians 15:17
“What If?” is a series of best-selling books put together by Robert Cowley, in which historians look at key events in history and try to imagine what if things had not happened that way.
What if Pontius Pilate had spared Jesus?
That is the title of the chapter by Carlos M. N. Eire, chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. The subtitle reads, Christianity without the Crucifixion.
Eire imagines Pontius Pilate heeding the warning of his wife whose sleep had been disturbed that night by thoughts of “that righteous man.” Her message to the governor said, “Have nothing to do with him.”
So, he asks, what if Pilate had done the right thing and resisted the religious leaders and the rabble who were crying for Jesus’ execution; what if he had released Him?
On one page, underneath a 13th century painting of Pilate with the Jewish leaders is the caption: “The Decision That Made a Religion.” (We can insist that it was the resurrection that “made” the Christian faith, but we won’t quibble over the importance of the crucifixion.)
Eire asks, “What if Jesus hadn’t been nailed to a cross at Pilate’s orders? What if he had lived a long, long life? Or even just ten more years? Or one? What if his person and message had been interpreted differently, as they surely would have been?”