Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dove-Like Israel

Israel and the Holy Spirit are both likened to a dove, as if to say that they belong to the same species. The Holy Spirit is God. We too are partakers of the dove-like divine nature (II Peter 1:4).

The Bridegroom says to the bride who is a symbol of His nation, “You have dove’s eyes (Song 1:15).” Why is Israel called a dove? “Song of Songs Rabbah,” a Jewish book of wisdom, explains:

“The dove is faithful. Israel was likewise faithful to the Holy One, praised be He, at Sinai. For they did not say that ten commandments, or twenty or thirty were enough for them, but they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do and be obedient (Exodus 24:7).”

The dove is distinguishable among all other birds. Israel is likewise distinguished by deeds.

The dove is modest. Israel is likewise modest…

The dove does not leave its nest even if someone has taken its brood. Israel likewise continues to visit the temple site even though the Temple has been destroyed.

The dove journeys and returns to its nest. Israel likewise “shall come eagerly like birds from Egypt and like doves from Assyria (Hosea 11:11).

Others are attracted to the dove; likewise, converts are attracted to Israel.

The dove, unlike other birds, offers its neck fro slaughter without struggling; children of Israel likewise give their lives for the Holy One, praised be He.

The dove does not leave its mate; Israel likewise does not leave the Holy One, praised be He.”
Belong to the dove, like Israel of God!

(Wurmbrand, Richard., 100 Prison Meditations Cries of Truth from Behind the Iron Curtain, Living Sacrifice Books, Bartlesville, OK, 1982, pg 178)

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Noble Beast

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Zechariah 9:9

And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. Mark 11:7

In the East in the time of Jesus the ass was a noble beast. In the ancient days Jair, who judged Israel, had thirty sons who rode on thirty asses (Judg. 10:4), and Abdon had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy asses (Judg. 12:14).

The ass was the beast on which kings rode when they came in peace; only in war did they ride upon horses. The entry of Jesus was the claim to be King.

(Barclay, William., The Mind of Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco, United States of America, 1960, pg 186)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Measure for Measure

Clearly, there is irony in that many of the punishments meted out by God in the Hebrew Scriptures were measure for measure. The reader immediately notes that the divine punishment fits the crime. For instance, the Egyptians drowned children in the river, so God drowned them in the sea. Miriam, Moses’ sister, disparaged Moses “because of the Cushite woman he had married (Numbers 12).” The Cushites (Ethiopians) were very dark-skinned, and Miriam’s punishment was that she became leprous, or “white as snow.” Miriam became deathly white for making critical remarks of a dark-skinned person.

The Israelites whined that the manna was not sufficient and demanded meat in a most despicable way (Numbers 11). They went on to say that they remembered (evidently, fondly) the free fish they were accustomed to eat in Egypt. God’s punishment was to give them meat until “It is coming out of your nose and makes you nauseous.” The ingrates died “while the meat was still between their teeth.”

(This paper appeared in Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, Vol. 13:3, Sept. 2000, 258-285. ©2000, by Hershey H. Friedman, Ph.D. & Bernard H. Stern)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Animal Horn Symbolism

Animal horns have traditionally functioned as adornment, weaponry, and musical instruments, especially in combat and ceremonial ritual. Because of their military and political associations, horns have come to symbolize courage, honor, power, and strength. Battle helmets have long been crowned with horns, as have kings’ crowns. From ancient times, the hallowed horn has trumpeted declarations of war and victory, coronations, alarms, and calls to assembly. …

The generic term for “horn” in Hebrew is keren. In ancient Israel, the altar, representing God’s presence among the people, had horns on its four corners, which were often anointed with blood, much as the Israelite kings were anointed with a horn of oil. The phrase “horn of David” (keren David), refers to the Messiah, who like David will be anointed with a horn of oil.

Frankel, Ellen, and Betsy Platkin Teutsch. 1992. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., pg 76

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Motivations for Learning

"The Greeks learned in order to comprehend. The Hebrews learned in order to revere. The modern man learns in order to use."

God in Search of Man by Abraham Heschel, p. 34.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Doing vs. Knowing

William Barrett, in his book Irrational Man explains that one of the most fundamental differences between the Western, Hellenistic mind and the Hebrew mind is found in the area of knowing vs. doing.

Says Barrett, "The distinction…arises from the difference between doing and knowing. The Hebrew is concerned with practice, the Greek with knowledge. Right conduct is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, right thinking that of the Greek. Duty and strictness of conscience are the paramount things in life for the Hebrew; for the Greek, the spontaneous and luminous play of the intelligence.

The Hebrew thus extols the moral virtues as the substance and meaning of life; the Greek subordinates them to the intellectual virtues…the contrast is between practice and theory, between the moral man and the theoretical or intellectual man."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hebraic vs Western Thinking

Hebraic vs Western Thinking – A Comparison

Western: Life analyzed in precise categories
Hebrew: Everything blurs into everything else.

: A split between natural & supernatural
Hebrew: Supernatural affects everything.

: Linear logic
Hebrew: Contextual or "block" logic "

: "Rugged Individualism"
Hebrew: Importance of being part of group

Western: Equality of persons
Hebrew: Value comes from place in hierarchies

: Freedom orientation
Hebrew: Security orientation

: Competition is good
Hebrew: Competition is evil (cooperation is better)

: Man-centered universe
Hebrew: God/tribe/family-centered universe

: Worth of person based on money/material possessions/power
Hebrew: Worth derived from family relationships

: Biological life sacred
Hebrew: Social life supremely important

: Chance + cause & effect limit what can happen
Hebrew: God causes everything in his universe

: Man rules nature through understanding and applying laws of science
Hebrew: God rules everything, so relationship with God determines how things turn out.

: Power over others achieved through business, politics and human organizations.
Hebrew: Power over others is structured by social patterns ordained by God.

Western: All that exists is the material
Hebrew: The universe is filled with powerful spirit beings

: Linear time divided into neat segments. Each event is new
Hebrew: Cyclical or spiraling time. Similar events constantly reoccur

: History is recording facts objectively and chronologically
Hebrew: History is an attempt to preserve significant truths in meaningful or memorable ways whether or not details are objective facts.

: Oriented to the near future
Hebrew: Oriented to lessons of history

: Change is good = progress
Hebrew: Change is bad = destruction of traditions

: Universe evolved by chance
Hebrew: Universe created by God

: Universe dominated and controlled by science and technology
Hebrew: God gave man stewardship over his earthly creation. Accountability to God.

Western: Material goods = measure of personal achievement
Hebrew: Material goods = measure of God’s blessing

Western: Blind faith
Hebrew: Knowledge-based faith

Western : Time as points on straight line "at this point in time…"
Hebrew: Time determined by content "In the day that the Lord did…"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Emperor Worship

...choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

A Roman emperor was declared divine when witnesses claimed to have seen the emperor’s father ascend to heaven, thus making the emperor the “Son of God.” This process was called apotheosis. The emperor’s diety stood on the validity of these witnesses.

Augustus, for example declared his father, Julius, divine in 29 BC and a statue of Julius was placed in a temple in Ephesus. Augustus then declared himself “Son of God” and the Senate affirmed the declaration.

Emperor worship was increasingly a fact of life in the Roman Empire from the reign of Augustus Caesar onward. As the empire became more and more diverse with multitudes of gods and religions, worship of the emperor as god became a vital form of unification. The people could worship their respective gods freely as long as they would also publicly declare that “Caesar is Lord.” The citizens were also required to bring frequent “sacrificial offerings” of livestock or money to enrich the country’s treasury.

This created a dilemma for Jews and Christians alike who would not worship or sacrifice to any other gods. Knowing that the Jews would never acclaim the diety of the Roman emperor, Herod had persuaded Caesar Augustus to grant the Jews an exemption from the emperor worship requirement. The community of Jesus did not have such an exemption, however, and the early Christians experienced great pressure to participate in processions, festivals and games to acclaim the emperor as god and affirm their loyalty to him.

Many of them, including nearly all of Jesus’ disciples, had to make the ultimate choice—to sacrifice their lives, or to deny Jesus as their Lord and live.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Crown of Life

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12

During the first century, the winners of athletic games would each receive a wreath of olive branches (a tree sacred to the ancient Greeks) or even gold, which imitated the wreath that the gods were portrayed as wearing. The wreath was given in honor of the athletes’ faithfulness and exceptional performance, much like an Olympic champion today would receive a gold medal.

In keeping with the athletic competition metaphor they often used to describe the Christian walk, the New Testament writers used the word stephanos (crown) to describe the reward righteous people will receive for their faithfulness to God. This word typically refers to the winners’ wreath presented during the games as opposed to the word diadem (also translated as crown) that is used only in reference to Jesus (Revelation 19:12) and the Devil (Revelation 12:3).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Running a Good Race

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. I Corinthians 9:24

When Paul was working with the pagan people of Asia Minor, he was dealing with their Hellenistic mindset and aspirations of pleasure and self-preservation. They lacked the foundation of Biblical knowledge and scripturally based cultural traditions. He sought for examples that would translate true principles--such as a zeal for God-- into their understanding.

In the area of athletics and the Olympic games, Jesus’ disciples and Biblical writers found powerful metaphors of the zeal God desires. The games were widely known throughout the Roman world, and the Biblical writers used the metaphor of athletic training and performance to communicate the Gospel message.

By capturing images of the intensity, passion, and focus required for athletic competition, they were able to explain true discipleship to people who were otherwise unfamiliar with God and his Word.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Jealous God

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Exodus 34:14

The Bible, especially the Hebrew Bible, uses the Hebrew root qin'ah, which is normally translated "jealous" or "zealous," to describe God. The word's root meaning conveys a deep passion and commitment for something or someone that leads to a desire to defend and protect.

So when the Bible says that God is jealous, it is not in the sense of petty envy that we often associate with jealousy. When the Bible describes God as jealous, it means that he has a deep love for and commitment to his holiness and honor and an equally deep passion for his people.

Here is another version of the verse above:

You must worship no other gods, but only the LORD, for he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you. NLT

Monday, November 15, 2010

Distilling the Law

Six hundred and thirteen commandments were given
to Moses. . . .

came and brought them down to eleven; as it
is written:

Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle: He
that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteous-
ness. . . [Ps. 15:1-5].

Isaiah came and brought them down to six; as it is

He that walketh righteously and speaketh up-
rightly [33:15].

Micah came and brought them down to three; as it
is written:

It hath been told thee, O man, what is good....
Only to do justly, to love mercy and to walk
humbly with thy God [6:8].

Amos came and brought them down to one: as it is

For thus saith the Lord to the House of Israel,
‘Seek me and live’” [5:41],

[Cited in Nahum Glatzer, The Judaic Tradition (Beacon, 1969)].

[Donna: I think the numbers are more applicable in Hebrew. Nevertheless, this shows the tradition of trying to distill the essence of the law into its most succinct form. We are the beneficiaries of that tradition through the question Jesus answered in Matthew 22:36-40.]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Interpretation and Application of Scripture Part 3

Determining the proper “application” of a passage of Scripture is not an exact science
by any means. For example, Jesus got up before daybreak and prayed (Mark 1:35). The
interpretation is very narrow, and refers to a day in Jesus’ life and what Jesus did that
day. The application of this verse is certainly not that everyone should get up each day
before daylight and pray. On the other hand, the verse certainly emphasizes the
importance of prayer. Furthermore, we should learn from the example of Jesus Christ, so
it is a proper application to say that there will be times when we should get up early and
pray, just as Jesus did.

The “application” of Scripture is determined from its scope, as well as our reason,
logic, and wisdom. It is also important for us to realize that just as there is both a proper
interpretation of Scripture and an erroneous interpretation, so there is both the proper
application of Scripture and the improper application. Just as much good comes from the
proper application of Scripture, so much harm has come into Christendom from the
misapplication of Scripture. Christians must be diligent not only to properly understand
the interpretation of a text, but to properly apply it as well.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Interpretation and Application of Scripture Part 2

Bringing joy. Proverbs 10:1 has a narrow interpretation but broad application: “A wise
son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother."

The “interpretation” is narrow, referring only to sons and the joy they bring to fathers or the grief they bring to mothers. However, the “application” is much broader. Wise children bring joy to the whole family, extended family, and many interested parties, while foolish children bring
grief to people.

Drunk on wine
. Ephesians 5:18 (NIV), says not to get drunk on wine, which leads to
debauchery. The “interpretation” is very narrow, simply forbidding getting drunk on
wine. However, the “application” (with help from the scope of Scripture) would include
getting drunk on any alcoholic beverage, and would even go beyond that to include
anything that compromises us mentally or physically, such as recreational drugs, which
also lead to “debauchery” (the Greek word means reckless abandon, dissipation,

Interestingly, the Old Testament also connects alcohol to reduced sexual
inhibition (Hab. 2:15). Thus a proper conclusion to draw from this verse is that Christians
should not be drunk on wine or other alcoholic beverages, or use recreational drugs or
other such things that lead away from God to a lifestyle of dissipation.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interpretation and Application of Scripture Part 1

J. W. Shoenheit has some very useful words on this topic:

The “interpretation” of a Scripture is what the verse actually means in its context.
However, verses often have a much broader “application” than simply their
interpretation. For example, Colossians 4:1 has a narrow interpretation, but a much
broader application.

Colossians 4:1 (ESV)
Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master
in heaven.

The “interpretation” of this verse is very narrow: slave owners should treat their
slaves justly and fairly. However, the verse is not meaningless to those people who do not
own slaves, it has a broad “application” in the world, which is that people should treat
those they are in charge of justly and fairly. That “application” is fitting for bosses,
guards, parents, military commanders, etc.

We have already seen the difference between interpretation and application in
Colossians 4:1, about slave owners, and there are many other examples in Scripture.
Building Codes. A good example of the difference between interpretation and
application can be seen in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 22:8 (ESV)
When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you
may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it."

The houses in biblical Israel had flat roofs, so God made a law that flat roofs had to
have some kind of railing so people would not fall off. The “interpretation,” of this verse
is very narrow, and applies only to people who own houses with flat roofs. But the
“application,” the instruction we get from this example, is very broad, that it is not right
or godly to build things that are unsafe and can cause injury to others, so we should
provide some kind of safety measure.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hidden in the Word

My guest posting today is from Jennifer Orten. I never cease to be amazed at what treasures are hidden in the seemingly mundane.

Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
Genesis 15:18-21

Egypt - that troubles or oppresses, anguish or tribulation
Euphrates - side beyond, region across opposite side or in Greek,
the good and abounding
- possession, purchase, lamentation
Kenizzites - possession, purchase
Kadmonites - ancients, from the East Hittites - trembling, fear,
one who is broken or fears
- dwelling in villages
Rephaims - the sense of invigorating, to heal or make whole
Amorites - bitter, rebels
Canannites - lowlands, merchant trader; or that humbles and subdues
Girgashites - who arrives from pilgrimage
Jebusites - treading under foot or trodden under foot

Jennifer’s Interpretation: Oppression, anguish, and tribulation [affect] the region across [the sea]. Lamentations of the purchase and possession by the ancients from the East. With trembling and fear, the broken ones dwell in villages to be healed and made whole. The bitter rebels of the lowlands subdue and humble [the inhabitants] as they arrive and tread them under foot.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Widow's Mite

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Matthew 6:2

Jesus had warned his disciples of the scribes’ abusive actions towards widows when he gazed into the courtyard and observed a “poor widow” depositing two mites into the treasury (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4). Here is where we pick up the story of the widow’s mite(s).

A mite was the smallest coin in value and in size. The treasury was located in the Court of Women of the temple, where stood thirteen receptacles for collecting temple tribute and voluntary charitable offerings. Each receptacle was trumpet-shaped–narrow at the bottom and wide at the mouth. Affixed labels on each receptacle identified the type of donation.

Although sacred donations are supposed to be between the giver and the Lord, the metallic receptacles were situated in a public place so that every contribution was accompanied by a loud clanking sound. Every person in the courtyard could hear the giver dropping in his coins, and often eyes would turn toward the sound. This environment provided fertile ground for praise seekers. Donors who sought public acclaim could purchase more than Jehovah’s approbation by making a substantial contribution of heavy coinage. It was simply good for business and good for the image for a person to be seen as a generous and a devout temple-goer.

Perhaps that hypocrisy had drawn Jesus’ rebuke on an earlier occasion when he chastised those who “sound a trumpet” and give their alms (contributions to the poor) to be seen of men. Such people, he said, traded God’s reward for the praise and honor of men (Matthew 6:1-4). Not so with the widow. She had come so quietly that Jesus had to point her out to his disciples. Her two tiny mites would have landed in the treasury like feathers on cotton.

Read more good information about this at: http://www.thewidowsmite.org/

Friday, November 5, 2010

Historical Descriptions of Jesus part 3

One final historically recorded description of Christ which shall be mentioned is to be found in a letter written to the monarch of Rome by Publius Lentrelus who was a resident of Judea in the days of Tiberius Caesar. This letter first appeared in the writings of Saint Anselm of Canterbury in the eleventh century A.D.

There lives at this time in Judea a man of singular virtue whose name is Jesus Christ... his followers love and adore him as the offspring of the Immortal God. He calls back the dead from the graves and heals all sorts of diseases with a word, or a touch. He is a tall man, well-shaped, and of an amiable and reverend aspect; his hair of a color that can barely be matched, falling into graceful curls, waving about and very agreeable.... His forehead high, large and imposing, his cheeks without spot or wrinkle, beautiful with a lovely red; his nose and mouth formed with exquisite symmetry; his beard and of a color suitable to his hair...his eyes bright and blue, clear and serene. Look innocent, dignified, manly, and mature; his arms and hands delectable to behold.

(Taken from page 75, Appendix B of The Resurrection Tomb, by E. Raymond Capt.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Historical Descriptions of Jesus part 2

The Archo Volume, further records a description of Jesus Christ in Chapter VIII - Valleus‘s Notes. — Acta Pilati, or Pilate 'A Report to Caesar of the Arrest, Trial, and Crucifixion of Jesus'.

Among the various rumors that came to my ears there was one in particular that attracted my attention. A young man, it was said, had appeared in Galilee preaching with a noble function a new law in the name of the God that had sent him. At first I was apprehensive that his design was to stir up the people against the Romans, but my fears were soon dispelled. Jesus of Nazareth spoke rather as a friend of the Romans than of the Judeans.

One day in passing by the place of Siloe, where there was a great concourse of people, I observed in the midst of the group a young man who was leaning against a tree, calmly addressing the multitude. I was told it was Jesus. This I could have easily suspected, so great was the difference between him and those listening to him. His golden-colored hair and beard gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about thirty years of age. Never had I seen a sweeter or more serene countenance.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Historical Descriptions of Jesus part 1

The first source of evidence comes from The Archko Volume (or the Archaeological Writings of the Sanheidrim & Talmuds of the Judeans). These are the Official Documents made in These Courts in the days of Jesus Christ; translated by Drs. McIntosh and Twyman in 1887 of the Antiquarian Lodge, Genoa, Italy, From Manuscripts in Constantinople and the Records of the Senatorial Docket taken from the Vatican in Rome; Published by Keats Publishing (1975).

Chapter V - Gamaliel - Interview With Joseph And Mary And Others Concerning Jesus; The hagiographa or holy writings, found in the St. Sophia Mosque at Constantinople, made by Gamaliel, in the Talmuds of the Jews, 27 B.C.

It seems Gamaliel was sent by the Sanhedrin to interrogate Joseph and Mary in regard to this child Jesus. Gamaliel is recorded as reporting:

I found Joseph and Mary in the land of Mecca. ...Joseph is a wood-workman. He is very tall. His hair looks as though it might have been dark auburn when young. His eyes are grey, Jesus, He is the picture of his mother, only He has not her smooth, round face. His hair is a little more golden than hers, though it is as much from sunburn as anything else. He is tall. His visage is thin and of a swarthy complexion, though this is from exposure. His eyes are large and soft blue, the lashes are long and his eyebrows are large."


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't Forget To Vote

This drawing is Plate 152 in Currier & Ives Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942. The narrative on 'Historical Prints' reads,"the delightful print that is so often seen today, 'Washington's Dream'". Apparently this was a time in America when the story of "Washington's Vision" was well known.

George Washington's Vision

Various accounts of George Washington's vision and prophecy all agree in content. There have been only minor variations in some details as the story was repeated over the years by those to whom it was related by General Washington.

The place was Valley Forge, in the cold and bitter winter of 1777. Washington's army had suffered several reverses and the situation was desperate. Food was scarce. The Continental Congress was not sending supplies or money. Some of the troops did not even have shoes to wear in the snow. Many soldiers were sick and dying from disease and exposure. Morale was at an all-time low and there was great agitation in the Colonies against continued effort to secure our freedom from England. Nevertheless, General Washington was determined to see the struggle through.

These are the words of a first-hand observer, Anthony Sherman, who was there and describes the situation: "You doubtless heard the story of Washington's going to the thicket to pray. Well, it is not only true, but he used often to pray in secret for aid and comfort from God, the interposition of whose Divine Providence brought us safely through the darkest days of tribulation."

"One day, I remember it well, when the chilly winds whistled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless and the sun shown brightly, he remained in his quarters nearly all the afternoon alone. When he came out I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual. There seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance. Returning just after dusk, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of the officer I mention, who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation of about a half hour, Washington, gazing upon his companion with that strange look of dignity which he alone commanded, related the event that occurred that day."

Washington's Own Words

"This afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of her presence. A second, a third and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor except a slight raising of her eyes."

"By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed."

"A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed as if it had become filled with sensations, and luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarify, the mysterious visitor herself becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my sight than before. I now began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensations which I have sometimes imagined accompany dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my companion."

"Presently I heard a voice saying, 'Son of the Republic, look and learn,' while at the same time my visitor extended her arm eastwardly. I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a strange scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world - Europe, Asia, Africa and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific."

" 'Son of the Republic,' said the same mysterious voice as before, 'look and learn.' At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing, or rather floating in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some upon America with his right hand, while with his left hand he cast some on Europe. Immediately a cloud raised from these countries, and joined in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and then moved slowly westward, until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people."

"A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose heaving billows it sank from view. A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying, 'Son of the Republic, look and learn,' I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them."

"Again, I heard the mysterious voice say, 'Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh, look and learn.' At this the dark shadowy angel turned his face southward, and from Africa I saw an ill-omened spectre approach our land. It flitted slowly over every town and city of the latter. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each other. As I continued looking I saw a bright angel, on whose brow rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word 'Union', bearing the American flag which he placed between the divided nation, and said, 'Remember ye are brethren.' Instantly, the inhabitants, casting from them their weapons became friends once more, and united around the National Standard."

"And again I heard the mysterious voice saying, 'Son of the Republic, look and learn.' At this the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth, and blew three distinct blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon Europe, Asia and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene: from each of these countries arose thick, black clouds that were soon joined into one. Throughout this mass there gleamed a dark red light by which I saw hordes of armed men, who, moving with the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America. Our country was enveloped in this volume of cloud, and I saw these vast armies devastate the whole country and burn the villages, towns and cities that I beheld springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of swords, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I heard again the mysterious voice saying, 'Son of the Republic, look and learn.' When the voice had ceased, the dark shadowy angel placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast."

"Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel upon whose head still shone the word 'Union', and who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, who I perceived were well nigh overcome, but who immediately taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle."

"Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict, I heard the mysterious voice saying, 'Son of the Republic, look and learn.' As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious!"

"Then once more I beheld the villages, towns and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with a loud voice: 'While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last.' And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned the word 'Union,' he placed it upon the Standard while the people, kneeling down, said, 'Amen.'"

"The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I at last saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I at first beheld. This also disappearing, I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor, who, in the same voice I had heard before, said, 'Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union. With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth, progress, and destiny of the United States."

Thus ended General George Washington's vision and prophecy for the United States of America as told in his own words.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Childish vs. Childlike Faith

Why do we believe that the growth and development of one's faith is so important? For a thousand years, Christian theologians have emphasized the difference between a "child-like" faith (much to be desired) and a "childish" faith. Only the child-like faith quality can truly be strong.

Walter Rauschenbush puts it very well.

"The religion of childhood will not satisfy adolescent youth, and the religion of youth ought not to satisfy a mature man or woman. Our soul must build statelier mansions for itself. Religion must continue to answer all our present needs and inspire all our present functions. A person who has failed to adjust his religion to his growing powers and his intellectual horizon, has failed in one of the most important functions of growth, just as if his cranium failed to expand and to give room to his brain. Being microcephalous [having an abnormally tiny head] is a misfortune, and nothing to boast of."

Walter Rauschenbush, "The Social principles of Jesus" in The World Treasure of Modern Religious Thought, Little, Brown & Co., 1990, pp. 588-589.