Here is what I've been thinking: OT Israel and early America didn't have strict border control. They invited people to come and work. That was part of the pathway to greatness.
Of course, rampant social programs mean this is not possible as people are coming for handouts. Thus, amnesty & crazed border control is just a symptom of a larger issue: the stupidity of the welfare state.
Moreover, guys with guns on the border not only can keep people out, they can keep people in. That means that when you do want to escape the clutches of tyranny you can't...at least not wiz out your papers!
In sum, big borders is still big government, and it is still dangerous.
This next week I get to speak about one of my favorite subjects: my kids and our experience in adoption.
Mark Hamilton, one of our elders at Providence Church, teaches a course on ethics at the university as part of his philosophy core. In it he has one section designated to the issue of abortion. He asked me to come and talk about the flip side of it (i.e. adoption).
If you are interested, the synopsis of my talk is listed here.
Review of the Covenants to this Point
For the last several weeks we’ve been tracing the Covenant of Grace through the pages of Scripture. We’ve been emphasizing that each particular covenant we meet in Scripture enlarges and expands the original gracious covenant made in Genesis 3. Rather than introducing a change in God’s plan and a distinctly new epoch of history, we see fluid development God’s gracious plan of redemption.
Adam, having broken the first covenant (i.e. the Covenant of Works/Covenant of Life), was given a second chance. God entered into a second covenant, wherein he promised life and salvation through a Savior.
After the flood, God reaffirmed his covenant with Noah. God furthered this covenant by promising to never send another flood. God demonstrated his kindness by rescuing Noah & his family and by ensuring that the promised Messiah would come (i.e. all life would continue).
In time the earth seemed to have run amok again. It also appeared that God had given up on man by his dispersing the nations in his wrath. In that dark hour God appeared to Abraham & entered into a covenant with him. In this covenant we see with greater clarity to the scope of this covenant. God established this covenant with Abraham and his children.
To reiterate this, the Lord instituted circumcision. This rite had a twofold purpose: it served as a sign, pointing to our need for cleansing (life & salvation), and it served as a seal, confirming to each child & person the fact that they belonged to God.
The Covenant at Sinai & the Giving of the Law
A person standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai would have been amazed and grateful. They had been in bondage for a long time, and it might have seemed like God had given up on them. Now, they had witnessed some of the greatest miracles of all time. Millions of people had been freed, protected, and assured of God’s loving-kindness.
How should they respond to God’s kindness? How could they do to show their gratitude? God showed them exactly what would please Him most in the publication of His law.
It is important to recognize the continuity in the covenant that is established at Mt Sinai. For what happens here is a significant movement forward in the unfolding of God’s plan. The giving of the law is so significant that some have seen it as a break of God’s plan up to this point and an initiation of a new era whereby God’s people now gain salvation by keeping the law. This, however, is not true. The continuity with the overall plan of God is seen in a number of ways:
1) God’s promise to Abraham was that he would become a great nation, as numerous as the sand on the shore. The throngs camping out at the bottom of this mountain are a realization of this (or at least a partial one).
2) The people are standing on the very edge of the land which was promised to them through Abraham.
3) God had just graciously delivered the people out of Egypt solely because He had “remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob.”
4) The requirements of the covenant were still the same: God required perfect obedience. To Abraham God said, “Walk before me and be blameless.” To Israel God gives his moral law and they respond by saying, “All that the Lord has said we will do.”
Instead of being a new era, the covenant at Sinai simply reiterates God’s promise to save His people and clarifies how the redeemed should live in light of it.
Why did God give the law?
Up until this time the rules that governed God’s covenant had been defined by the “eternal truths.” God was a spirit, so they were not to make images. God had rested on the Seventh day of creation, and set it as a pattern to be observed by the people. Man was made in God’s image, and the one who harms the image bearer was worthy of death because it is essentially an attack on the One whose image he bore.
Although the moral law of God had been set forth since the creation, they were easily blurred by the corruption of man. At Mt. Sinai God publishes his 10 words to specifically spell it out so that there could be no blurring of the line. (Note: The law is good, it still is applicable today--3 uses of the law)
A blood bath
At the foot of Sinai the people vow to follow God and the law God had given (Ex 24:3, 7). Immediately after a most gory ceremony commences. Moses sprays the people with blood drawn from the animals that had been sacrificed. Why does he do this? Think of it as a blood shower; they are, for all practical purposes, “washed in the blood.” God knows that their devotion will not measure up, but He has provided a covering of blood.
1. God gives both the law and sacrificial system at Mt Sinai.
2. There is a distinction between covenant failure & covenant rejection
3. God begins to “dwell” with his people after this covenant in the form of the tabernacle. The law facilitates the relationship.
The Davidic Covenant: The covenant of kingdom
The author of the book “The Lord of the Flies” was once given an interview about his classic work. During the interview he commented that his intention was to write a book that gave a real depiction of what kids would be like if they were left to themselves. His book depicts how a bunch of boys devolve into raw pagans who have no sense of civility. It is only when the captain from a rescue boat shows up that the children regain a sense of morality.
Anyone who has kids knows exactly what William Golding had in mind. If you leave the room for a few minutes, it will not be long before your children start fighting.
Both Golding’s book and your regular home life illustrate the need for a righteous authority figure. It also illustrates part of the reason why God raises up David and establishes His covenant with him. If the law given in the mosaic covenant was going to be obeyed, it requires a king would administer it (Davidic covenant).
Israel was “prone to wander” and “do what was right in their own eyes.” This was much owing to the fact that “there was no king in Israel.” So, get a king and all will be well, right? Nope. Israel wanted a king like the “other nations.” They chose for themselves a robust looking fellow named Saul. He was the very picture of military might. But, in the end, Saul turned out to be an evil tyrant who oppressed the people and became to them a source of agony. God gave them what they wanted, a king like the other nations.
The people of Israel needed a unique king: a righteous one. God rejected Samuel and raised up David, a man after His own heart. He would be the Shepherd of God’s people who would go on to usher in and establish the kingdom of God.
In 2 Sam. 7 we read how David wanted to build a house for God. But these plans are halted. Instead, God says he will build a house out of David. In sum, the Lord vows to enter into a special covenant with David, promising him that he shall have an eternal dynasty.
The king though, is not just one who ensures righteousness within his land. He also is one who fights. Thus, the king of Israel was one who subdued nations and fought God’s battles.
It is easy to see how the king then becomes a messianic figure. It is easy to see how the covenant of David finds its fulfilment in Christ. He is the only Son of David who ensures an eternal dominion of perpetual peace.
The last post spoke of the ministry of the Spirit in the OT. In reading it, one may wonder if the Spirit of God dwell in the people of Israel like it does today?
The OT does not typically use language that is quite frequent in the NT, such as walking in the Spirit and living by the Spirit. For the most part “The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times was selective and temporary.” Perhaps the only real OT passage that may indicate the Spirit’s indwelling of the redeemed is found in Psalm 51, where David sings, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”
The light of the New Testament helps us though. The NT reminds us that regeneration is only accomplished by the inward working of the HS. It is the HS who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. So, for this reason the Spirit must have indwelt all of the OT saints.
Nevertheless, the OT’s view of the HS is mainly anticipatory. It looks forward to the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh and the new covenant wherein the law of God would be written on the heart. This, of course, comes to its fulfilment in the Pentecost outpouring.
Thus, in theological terms, it is said that the Spirit dwells in NT believers in a qualitatively different way than he does in the OT believers. It is not a quantitative difference, as all believers everywhere have the Spirit’s presence. It is a qualitative difference.
John Piper gives a good illustration:
Picture a huge dam for hydroelectric power under construction, like the Aswan High Dam on the Nile, 375 feet high and 11,000 feet across. Egypt's President Nasser announced the plan for construction in 1953. The dam was completed in 1970 and in 1971 there was a grand dedication ceremony and the 12 turbines with their ten billion kilowatt-hour capacity were unleashed with enough power to light every city in Egypt. During the long period of construction the Nile River wasn't completely stopped. Even as the reservoir was filling, part of the river was allowed to flow past. The country folk downstream depended on it. They drank it, they washed in it, it watered their crops and turned their mill-wheels. They sailed on it in the moonlight and wrote songs about it. It was their life. But on the day when the reservoir poured through the turbines a power was unleashed that spread far beyond the few folk down river and brought possibilities they had only dreamed of.
Pentecost is like the dedicatory opening of the Aswan High Dam. Before Pentecost the river of God's Spirit blessed the people of Israel and was their very life. But after Pentecost the power of the Spirit [increased significantly and] spread out to light the whole world. None of the benefits enjoyed in the pre-Pentecostal days were taken away. But ten billion kilowatts were added [and now enables] the church to take the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to every tongue and tribe and nation.
At the very outset of Scripture we see the Spirit of God “hovering over the waters.” His presence in creation was most prominent and implicitly, most active. It was the Spirit, some say, keeping everything together and doing the work of dividing.
The Lord is said to have breathed life into man, after which he became a “living creature.” Being that the Hebrew word for breath is also the same word for Spirit, it may indicate that the Spirit was the active agent in giving man his generation.
The Spirit of God then appears prior to the flood, where God says that His Spirit would not abide with man forever due to the escalation of sin. This seems to indicate that the Spirit had a role in bringing the judgment upon the earth in the form of a flood.
It isn’t until the Joseph narrative that the Spirit appears again. This time it is when Pharaoh speaks of Joseph’s depth of wisdom to his servants, saying, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”
The next mention of the Spirit comes in Exodus 31 and is similar to its use in Genesis 41. Bezaleel is said to be filled with the Spirit and given the necessary knowledge and craftsmanship for constructing the tabernacle. It should be noted too that Nehemiah speaks of the Spirit being given to the people of Israel in the Wilderness wandering to teach them (9:20).
In Numbers 11 the Lord takes some of the Spirit that is upon Moses and gives it to the 70 elders of Israel. Here may be another indication of the Spirit’s imparting wisdom and skill.
Numbers also records Baalam (Num. 24) and Joshua (Num. 27) as men who had received the Spirit in a special degree. In the book of Judges the Spirit is referenced approximately 6 times as that which empowered the various judges for their particular work of deliverance. In the book of 1 Sam. the Spirit is said to “rush” upon Saul and David at the commencement of their kingly service.
Interestingly, it is not until 2 Samuel 23 that the Spirit is said to “speak through” someone, namely David in his life’s final song. Otherwise, the instances of the Spirit are few in the life of the kings. This certainly evidences something of the apostasy & decay of the nation. However, Nehemiah notes how the Spirit spoke through the prophets and warned the people of their waywardness (9:30). Thus we have the prophetic books which abound with references.
I've dreamed of starting a newspaper for quite some time. And now I am pleased to say that it has commenced. I invite you to check out "The Ashland Free Press." (Better yet, give it a "like" on facebook and catch the articles when they are published.)
To be sure, it is nothing to really boast of. I don't expect it to take off and set the town raving anytime soon either. It is simply a means of satisfying my dream and hopefully it is something that can grow little by little.
All in all, it is the outgrowth of my love of writing and my love for my town.
Here's the plan I kind of have sketched in my mind though: I'd like to write one article a week and gradually work to promote the idea of a second news outlet in town. If the Facebook page garners 300 likes, I'll consider starting a capital campaign to make the A-town Free Press into a printed weekly.
I was asked to participate in today's Election Day Prayer event that is being held downtown. It is put on by Southview Church and the Coalition, a conservative political group here in town. My segment of prayer is to focus on the topic of families. Here is what I plan to say...
As we bow our faces before you we acknowledge that a renewal in our country requires a renewal in our marriages and families. We know that we cannot have the former without first having repentance and reformation in the latter.
We confess that our nation is broken because our homes are broken. We suffer oppression from Pharaohs and Caesars because we have not first had godly mothers and fathers.
So we pray that you would grant us renewal at the grassroots level. May there be a reformation in our land, where we take to heart what it means to be united in the covenant of holy matrimony. May we begin to see that there is nothing more patriotic than the fidelity of a husband and his wife. May you grant us fathers and mothers who, instead of slaying their children, will instead love them and cherish them all their days. May these parents then take up their responsibility to train their children them in the fear of you and not further the decay of our country by handing them over to schools where atheism and relativism are the rule.
As we stand here today, we pray “God save the home.”
But yet, we know that as the king goes, so goes the nation. And for this reason we pray not just for a grassroots revival, but we also pray for our leaders and the policies that they make.
Lord, we ask that you would grant that those who would win out these elections would be restrained from instituting policies that further the destruction of marriage and family in our land. Instead, may they be made to do what is just and promote what is in accord with rule of King Jesus.
We pray that policies that strike against godliness would be revoked. You know how our nation permits (and even encourages) things like divorce, sodomy, and abortion. Moreover, our leaders continue to wrap the chains of debt around us. They oppress our families with heavy taxation. They rip apart families with their welfare programs. All this leads only to death at every level.
So we pray, like our forefather’s before us “God save the king.”
Finally, We pray “God save the church.” Where is the light to be found for our families? It is not in the pure preaching of your word and in the revelation of Biblical Truth. Father, we know that families will only rise out of the ashes when you unleash the gospel and unveil the fullness of its saving power. So we pray that you would raise up godly men to preach your word and send them throughout our nation as heralds of Your eternal kingdom.
All this we pray in the strong name of our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.