• November 28, 2017 /  Uncategorized

    Name means “Who is like Yahweh?”  He gets mentioned in Jeremiah 26:18, which God uses to protect Jeremiah.  He gets quoted in Matthew 2:6 regarding the birth of Christ.

    Main Idea(s)

    The sins of the two kingdoms are great, and there will be judgment, even exile on each.  The Lord will bring repentance and redemption to his people, but has a greater plan to bring it to all nations on Earth.

    Target: Israel and Judah

    Time Period

    • Contemporary of Hosea, Isaiah and Amos, and maybe Joel.
    • The book takes place in the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

    Famous verses and fragments

    2:11, 2:12-13, 4:1-5, 5:2, 6:6-8

    Notes

    Chapters 1-3   Sins and Announced Judgment

    • Chapter 1 – Which nations does this prophecy target?
      • Does this prophecy start slowly or quickly?
      • What are the sins? Where are they manifest?
      • What is God going to do as judgments?
      • What does Micah think of this? V 8
      • Is repentance called for yet? What of v 9?
      • Vv 10-16 – note alliteration
    • Chapter 2 – What are the sins?
      • What is God going to do as judgments?
      • What do vv 6-11 tell us about the lives of people in Israel/Judah?
      • Does the Lord offer restoration?
      • What is implied in verse 13?
    • Chapter 3 – What groups of people is God particularly condemning in this chapter?
      • What are their sins?
      • What does he compare these groups to?
      • What is their religion like?

    Chapters 4-5     The Kingdom of God over all Nations and his Messiah

    • Chapter 4 – What part of Scripture does the beginning of this Chapter remind you of?
      • What is promised here?
      • How does it compare with the current situation? Future situation? Vv 9-10
      • Why should it give Judah confidence?
    • Chapter 5 – what do vv 2-4 tell us about the Messiah?
      • What do vv 5-6 tell about how the victory over Assyria would be?
      • What will God do with his people as a result? Vv 7-9
      • What will God do with his people as a result? Vv 10-15
      • What does this point to in God’s future plans?

    Chapters 6-7   A Call to Repentance

    • Chapter 6 – what is the form of the Lord’s complaint? Vv 1-5
      • What does He appeal to?
      • What should the response of the people be? vv 6-8
      • What was their injustice against God? How did He summarize it?
      • What was the punishment?
    • Chapter 7 – What is Micah’s lament at the present situation?
      • What is his consolation? Vv 8-10
      • For the end of the chapter, what will God do with Judah?
      • What will the effect on the nations be?
      • How does this show us God’s covenant faithfulness to his people?
  • November 24, 2017 /  Uncategorized

    Name means Dove.   Aside from what we know about him from 2Kings and the Gospels, this book is all we know about him.

    Main Idea(s)

    Jonah is a book about how gentle but firm God can be.  It takes place in Bible history at just the point where Assyria has become a significant threat to the Northern Kingdom.  Jonah would rather see his enemies destroyed than converted; God would rather see them converted than destroyed. And rather than destroy Jonah, he provides experiences to teach him to be like God at heart, a lesson that Jonah does not seem to learn.

    Target: Mostly Assyria, but it reflects on Israel, the Northern Kingdom

    Time Period

    • Contemporary of Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and Amos.
    • The book takes place during the reign of Jeroboam II.

    Famous verses and fragments: None

    Questions

    1. How do we know approximately when the Book of Jonah was written?
    2. How do we know that it is not a parable?
    3. Why could you call Jonah a book of questions?
    4. What did the following parties care about? Mariners, Ninevites, Jonah, God.
    5. Why does Jonah not want to preach at Nineveh?
    6. Can you think of anyone else who fell asleep in a boat in a storm?
    7. Why are the mariners exceedingly afraid in 1:10?
    8. Did the mariners sin in throwing Jonah overboard? In what ways did the mariners’ knowledge of God grow?
    9. Of what psalms does Chapter 2 remind you? What themes get developed?  Does Jonah repent?
    10. Should the miraculous nature of Jonah surviving in the big fish give us any problems?
    11. What did the Ninevites do to show earnestness in repentance?
    12. How well do the Ninevites and their King compare to the Northern Kingdom?
    13. Why does Jonah want to die?
    14. Does God answer Jonah directly in chapter 4?
    15. How do the mariners and the Ninevites compare to Jonah in righteousness?
    16. Did Jonah understand God well?
    17. What is God’s lesson to Jonah? (and us)
  • November 22, 2017 /  Uncategorized

    =================================

    Name means Servant of Yahweh.  We don’t know anything about him.

    Main Idea(s)

    Edom is convinced that they will never face judgment for their sins against Judah, particularly those that happened when Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon.  The Lord says their destruction will be total, and that the land of Edom will be the Lord’s.

    Target: Mostly about Edom, but it reflects on redemption for Judah

    Time Period

    • Contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.
    • The book takes place after the Destruction of Jerusalem.

    Famous verses and fragment: 5

    Notes

    Verses 1-4 – Introduction

    • Can you think of other books that talk about Judgment on Edom?
    • Vv 3-4 What reasons did Edom have for confidence?

    Verses 5-9 – Thoroughness of the Judgment

    • What would happen at their judgment? How total would it be?  What of their defenses would fail?
    • How do you destroy an incredibly strong defense? Betrayal
    • Babylon, Arabs, Nabataeans, Selucids, Jews, Romans

    Verses 10-14 – Reasons for the Judgment

    • Brotherhood with Israel/Jacob – even after so many generations? What of earlier history?
    • Vv 12-14 Eight “you should not have” – Why this literary device?

    Verses 15-16 – The Day of the Lord

    • What does “the Day of the Lord” mean here?

    Verses 17-21 – Salvation for Israel

    • Is there any hope for Edom?
    • What hope is there for Israel/Judah?
    • Calvin: “Now it is certain that this prophecy has never been completed…” What then?
    • Why does the book end with “And the Kingdom shall be the Lord’s?”
    • Spiritually, what does this book teach Christians today?
  • November 15, 2017 /  Uncategorized

    Amos

    Name means Burden or Burden-bearer.  Amos tended sheep and sycamore figs – likely a poor man.

    Main Idea(s)

    Israel is a nation filled with wealthy people who do what they want and don’t want to hear the Word of God.  God will be a roaring lion to them, if they might be properly frightened into returning, but they will not listen.

    Target: Mostly about Israel, but Amos was from Judah

    Time Period

    • Contemporary of Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, and maybe Joel.
    • The book takes place in the reigns of Jeroboam II and Uzziah.

    Famous verses and fragments

    3:3, 3:6-7, 5:18-20, 5:24, 8:11-12

    Notes

    Chapters 1-2   Total Judgment on the Near East

    1. Syria – attacking Israel , the judgment is exile
    2. Philistia – 2Chr 21:16, the judgment is destruction
    3. Tyre – possibly same incident; Hiram – destruction
    4. Edom – Hatred of Israel; Envy; Wrath – destruction
    5. Ammon – brutal attacks on Israel – exile
    6. Moab – revenge for 2Ki 3:27 against Edom – destruction
    7. Judah – rejected the Law of the Lord – exile
    8. Israel –
      • slavery, cruelty, adultery, idolatry
      • appeals to past care of Israel
      • Silencing the prophets
      • Leading to destruction and exile

    Themes

    • For Three transgressions and Four, I will not turn away its punishment
    • Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar level the Near East
    • Judges the others, then comes in for the target, Israel
    • Not exhaustive but representative sins

     

    Chapters 3-6     Calls for Repentance

    1. 3-4 The Case and the Warning Shots
      1. What do you think about verse 3:2?
      2. What is the point of the questions in 3:3-6?
      3. How can 3:7 be abused?
      4. Why go proclaim in foreign lands? 3:9
      5. How bad will the destruction be?
      6. 4:1-5 – What’s the attitude of the well-off in Israel?
      7. Fivefold “yet you have not returned to me.”
      8. What do verses 4:12-13 tell us about God?
    2. 5:1-17 The Lament
      1. V 1-3, how bad will it be?
      2. What is he telling them to avoid in v 4-7?
      3. 5:8-9 Why does God appeal to his roles as Creator and Sustainer to support his judgment?
      4. V 10-15, what sins are rebuked, and what does God ask them to do?
    3. 5:16-6:14 You don’t really want the Day of the Lord…
      1. What do verses 5:16-20 tell you about the Day of the Lord?
      2. V 21-27 What does God think of their worship?
      3. 6:1-8 What does God think of their personal peace and affluence?
      4. What does 6:9-10 mean?
      5. 6:11-14 What will the judgment be?

    Chapters 7-9    Five Visions

    1. Locusts, Fire, and Plumb Line – what is the point of these three visions as a group?
    2. Interaction with Amaziah – what is Amaziah’s point? Amos’ response?
    3. Basket of Summer Fruit – must be used immediately – God will not delay
      1. What problems does God have with their religiosity? What will He do?
      2. What is a famine of hearing the words of the Lord? 8:11-12
    4. The Lord at the Altar
      1. 9:1-4 What does He threaten?
      2. V 5-6 On what basis, or because He is what?
      3. V 7-10 Why does God recall what he did for Israel?

    Restoration – 9:11-15

    1. Who will God restore?
    2. Why?
    3. Will the blessing be great or small?
    4. What great promises are given?
  • November 6, 2017 /  Uncategorized

    Joel

    Name means The Lord is God

    Main Idea(s)

    God uses a disaster of locusts and perhaps a few other things to get the attention of Judah over her sins.  He call them to repent.  When they repent, he blesses them.  There is a greater blessing, and greater judgment coming.

    Day of the Lord – 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14

    Target: Judah

    Time Period

    • We don’t know
    • Possibly the same time as Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, which would place it in the reign of Jeroboam II
    • Between books of Hosea and Amos, which are the same time period – see Amos 4:6-10

    Famous verses and fragments

    2:13, 2:25, 2:28-32, 3:14

    Notes

    Chapters 1-2:11 The Total Disaster of the Day of the Lord

    • What nation is this about?
    • Is it a judgment for sin?
    • V 8 – Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth
    • V 9 – Bad enough that the House of the Lord is not offering
    • Priests, elders – Corporate repentance, fast, solemn assembly because of the Day of the Lord
    • No crops, animals dying
    • Locusts or men in Chapter 2?

    Chapter 2:12-17 A Call to Repentance

    • Intensity
    • Corporate and individual repentance
    • Everyone must come, even those recently married
    • V 17 – Priests appeal to the Lord for His honor

    Chapter 2:18-27 Mercy Given

    • Blessings of Food, Water, for man and beast
    • V 20 – Assyrians?
    • Restoring the losses from the locusts
    • So that we might know God

    Chapters 2:28-3:21 The Greater Day of the Lord Revealed – the Judgment of the Nations

    • Quoted in NT
      • Ac 2:16-21
      • Spirit on all flesh
      • V 30-31 – God changes the order of things
      • Christ will come to save Jew and Gentile alike
    • 3:1 – Bring the exiles of Judah and Jerusalem – the people of God
    • 3:2 – Valley of Blessing (2Chr 20) or Judgment?
    • 3:3-13 He judges the sins of the nations
      • 3-6 Note the sins
      • 7-8 Judgment
      • 9-13 They try to fight God
    • 3:14 – God is deciding about the nations – the Day of the Lord
    • 3:15 – God is changing things: there will be a final judgment
    • 3:16 – God saves his own people, but not the heathen. The land will be holy, and they will know that the Lord is God.
    • V 21 – Salvation “And I have declared their blood innocent, That I did not declare innocent, And Jehovah is dwelling in Zion!”
  • July 31, 2017 /  Uncategorized

    Hosea

    Name means Salvation, Joshua – The Lord is Salvation

    Main Idea(s)

    Hosea’s life is a picture of how the Northern Kingdom of Israel is in its relationship with God.  Israel needed to repent of their sins, particularly their idolatry, but they would not repent, so God would send them into exile in Assyria, with promises of return and repentance.  God is shown as sovereign over the repentance of His people.

    Time Period

    • Kings in Judah – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
    • King in Israel – Jeroboam II
    • Other contemporaneous prophets/books – Isaiah and Micah

    Famous verses and fragments

    2:23, 4:6, 6:1-3, 6:6, 8:7, 10:8, 10:12, 11:1, 13:4, 13:14

    Notes

    Chapter 1

    1. Puzzle – God wouldn’t command someone to do evil – nonetheless he wants Hosea to be a visible sign of how God is abused as a husband of Israel.
    2. He identifies Gomer
    3. Gomer means to end (in the sense of completion or failure)
    4. Jezreel – dispersion, sowing
    5. 2Ki 10:30 – Jehu did God’s will partly, and for his own reasons.
    6. Lo-Ruhamah No Mercy
    7. Lo-Ammi Not My People
    8. Vv 10-11 & 2:1 Promise of redemption – reunification of the people of God.

    Chapters 2-3

    Other places in Scripture where Israel is pictured as an unfaithful wife – Jer 2-3, Eze 16 & 23 (Is 50, 54 – marriage).  Adultery frequently compared to idolatry.

    1. Vv 2-13 The reality
    2. What God would do vv 14-23
    3. v 16 Husband vs Baal (slave-lord)
    4. vv 22-23 scatter vs sow
    5. Ch3 – redeeming her. V 4 – exile.  Note David in v 5.

    Chapter 4 – The point made

    1. Lists their many sins against God vv 1-3
    2. Vv 4-6 all are rotten – Priest, prophet, average person
    3. Vv 7-end Adultery, spiritual and actual is the rule in Israel for leaders and average people.

    Chapter 5 – Priests and Princes can’t help

    1. Vv 1-9 – Beth Aven – Bethel, home of the calf-idol – sacrifice is not enough
    2. V 10 Judah also rebuked
    3. V 11 – human rules inadequate, as is Assyria (King Jareb – great/contending)
    4. God’s wounds are intended to make us seek him for healing

    Chapters 6-7 Mostly on Continued Impenitence

    1. Vv 1-3 Repentance – allusion to Christ
    2. V 5 – death from the prophetic word
    3. V 6 – mercy not sacrifice
    4. V 7 – men/Adam – both tell us something
    5. Ch 7:1-10 – do you see yourself properly? Analogy of a baker and an oven, and growing weak
    6. Corruption of leaders and people
    7. Vv 11-16 reliance on foreign nations rather than God. (Who to favor? Assyria or Egypt? See 9:3)

    Chapters 8-10  No more Calf-Idols, or reliance on Foreign nations

    1. God at war with the Calf-Idols, and Idolatry of the Temple, and the line of Jeroboam vv 1-6
    2. Rejection of their worship, and Judah’s strongholds (v14)
    3. Ch 9 – Egypt or Assyria? Playing the harlot.
    4. Vv 7-17 Punishment is coming – falling on the children, exile
    5. Ch 10 – prosperity only led to more disobedience & idols – the calf-idols to be taken to Assyria.
    6. V 10-12 God’s plan for repentance.
    7. Vv 13-15 and the kingdom will be ended. (Shalmanezer, king of Assyria)

    Chapters 11–13 The Historical Appeal for Repentance

    1. Vv 1-7 Analogy to a child, teaching and rebellion, exile
    2. Vv 8-11 Compassion and return
    3. 11:12-12:6 Complaint against Ephraim/Judah, and comparison to Jacob who found God at Bethel
    4. Vv 7-14 Rich Ephraim vs the God who sends prophets (10,13)
    5. Ch 13:1-3 Idolatry
    6. V 4 Rescue from Egypt
    7. Vv 10-11 Giving a king, taking it away – God is king.
    8. Vv 12-16 The exile will come suddenly (& a special promise in v 14)

    Chapter 14 God has the Last Word – Ultimate Repentance

    1. Not Assyria
    2. Not Idols
    3. Not our many sins
    4. Not our might
    5. God will restore and strengthen

    Final note: this book is mostly on the Northern Kingdom Israel, but Judah gets rebuked in 4:15, 5:5, 5:10-14, 6:4, 8:14, & 12:2.

  • January 19, 2017 /  Uncategorized

    My wife wrote this as well.  It is my view, though I would have written it differently.

    for those that sympathize with us on this topic, we need an argument that is akin to a “Regulative Principle of Congregational Activities,” if we wanted this to be really strong.  I.e., if the Bible doesn’t explicitly or by good and necessary consequence authorize a session to do something with their congregation, it is therefore forbidden.

    One thing that is certain, though.  The use of distinct groups in the church doesn’t do much good, and makes us look like a voluntary association where you can get what you want and avoid/downplay the rest.

    =======================================

    These are issues that David and I have stood mostly alone on for the past 18 years. Some people have been mystified about our stand, and some people have misunderstood us. Some have been offended at our lack of support for their ministries. Some have said we are overly restrictive with our children or don’t want to let other people teach them. A few have put mild pressure on us or our children. At the very least, most people in the congregation and denomination disagree with us about these things. We do not think it is likely that we will convince anyone of our beliefs, but we’d like you to try to understand our reasons for our beliefs.

    Informal vs official groups

    First of all, we have to distinguish between a group that is initiated by the members themselves on an informal basis and one that is an official ministry. Of course, we should encourage members getting together for fellowship, including fellowshipping around the Bible. For example, a group of four single women had a regular Bible study together for several years and built relationships to last a lifetime. Many teens planned their own social times together, trips to Ocean City, ice skating, parties, etc. Sometimes they would plan these events entirely on their own, sometimes they had the help and/or participation of parents or other interested adults who would assist in planning, driving, chaperoning, or whatever was needed. Fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ is a great blessing.

    Breaking up the Body

    The problem comes with officially breaking up the body of Christ. The church is supposed to be together and one, when we worship, learn, serve, and fellowship. As we would not tolerate dividing the church on the basis of race, education, or wealth, so we should not divide it on the basis of age or gender. “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand,’ I have no need of you.’…there should be no schism in the body.” The parts of the body are created to function together. We should not separate the body parts, amputate one peer group in the body and have it go meet by itself.
    The two covenant groups ordained by God for our edification, socialization, and “comfort” are the family and the church. We should not splinter or fragment them.

    Biblical authorization

    The church is supposed to be limited to functions and ministries that have Scriptural warrant. The elders should not go beyond their biblical mandate, creating groups within the church that have no Scriptural basis. There are no instructions for or examples of youth groups or women’s groups in the New Testament. (In Philippi, where there was no synagogue and presumably no men following the God of Israel, the women met on the Sabbath for prayer.) In the Old Testament there is 1) Rehoboam foolishly looking to his peers for advice, rather than older men and 2) the group of youths who harassed Elisha, an example of negative peer influence.

    One on one ministry

    One on one relationships are like the joints and ligaments, “from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Col 2:19 “But speaking the truth in love [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ-from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Eph 4:15-16

    The context of Titus 2 is not women leading Bible studies for other women as part of a church ministry, but older women developing relationships with younger women and teaching them informally how to walk with the Lord. We have appreciated women in the church who have taken the time and interest to do this with our daughters. We are also grateful to adults who have reached out to and spent time with our sons.

    Most people do not open up and discuss practical, personal heart issues in large groups. This intimacy comes more often in situations that are one to one or in groups of three or four. Trust is developed and more effective ministry done here than in formal peer groups.

    Often, after an initial interest, group meetings tend to be poorly attended. Some people say they want more fellowship, but after awhile other priorities in life compete. This is why we see the pattern of trying a peer group, interest flags, and a few years later something new is tried. Of course, we should keep trying to meet the individual needs in the congregation. We might have more success with individual initiated outreach, such as one on one or small group Bible studies, prayer partners, fellowship times, etc. People may be more likely to develop close relationships, open up, and grow together in these types of contexts.
    We have also tried to emphasize to our children the importance of family to family fellowship, especially having people in our home and serving as a family. A major way children are supposed to learn is by being with their parents and seeing their example.

    Our heavenly Father’s family

    As parents delight in seeing their whole family together, the Father delights in seeing His family together in unity, and not only in Sunday morning worship. All ages, all races, all classes, people of all cultures and levels of income and education together. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are strongest integrated in our diversity, we are weakest segregated into our peer groups.

    We need each other and we need to cross pollinate and learn from each other. What the women need to hear from the Bible, the men need to hear too, and we need to hear from each other. The Proverbs are full of exhortations to young people to look up to and learn from the wisdom of older people. Older people also need the perspective and enthusiasm of younger people. We become near-sighted when we only hear from our peers.

    Direction from the Bible, not culture or tradition

    Actually, youth groups and women’s groups are a modern, American concept, coming from an emphasis on Baptist individualism, rather than reformed covenantalism. But we should look to the Bible for our models, not other churches or denominations, lest we be like the Israelites who wanted a king so they could be like all the other nations.

    God’s ordinary means of reaching covenant children is through parents and pastors. Everyone else should normally be in the role of supporting these God-ordained instruments. Experiences such as retreats are wonderful for building relationships across the denomination, but we should not be looking primarily to the mountaintop experiences of retreats for our children or for ourselves. Though these experiences can be inspirational and occasionally pivotal, typically mountaintop experiences do not persist, and we should not think that ordinary church and family are not good enough. We should expect and pray for great things through the ordinary weekly preaching of the Word, and we all should eagerly anticipate Sunday worship and fellowship.

    Disadvantages of peer groups

    To the youth, we may be sending the wrong message, i.e. Christianity is cool and a fun time with my peers. Our children should be encouraged to love the church across peer group lines. To persevere in Christ, they need to hear from older saints about God’s faithfulness through tribulations. Given the option, which we don’t give her, our daughter Grace would rather go to Sunday school with her friends. Then she would not have heard Sarah, choking back tears, tell how she learned that God does answer prayer when He gave a child to her sister-in-law. Grace was deeply impressed by this.

    Teens often have an immaturing effect on one another. They tend to reinforce each other’s silliness, pride and overconfidence that they know it all. Teen hormones and the desire to impress each other sometimes distract from the message of Scripture. It takes a majority of teens with a strong Christian walk to pull a group up. It’s far easier to pull each other down. As one of my public school colleagues put it, they all tend to reduce to the lowest common denominator. It is good to encourage young people to mingle with older, more serious adults.

    Peer group meetings can compete with family time. I think this is especially true for male household heads. Their time is so limited and they need to spend free time with their wives and children, rather than feel obligated to “support the ministry” of a men’s group.

    Exceptions

    I guess we really confuse people because we are willing to make exceptions where we think it is warranted or other considerations are more important. For example, though I love coed wedding and baby showers, I can see how it is sometimes more appropriate to have a women only party. Our sons went on a backpacking trip where issues were taught on that were best not discussed in mixed company. Our children benefitted from attending TFY and ECHO. Finally, Sunday schools began as an outreach to unchurched children, and there is also a place for youth groups and women’s groups that are outreaches to unbelievers.

    What we all should agree on

    Even if few agree with our stand against youth groups, women’s groups and age-based Sunday school, we hope people can at least agree that everyone’s priority should be meetings when the whole church is together. It is not right that people make room in their schedules for time with their peers, but do not have time for social events, evening meetings, or midweek meetings that are for the whole church.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope I haven’t written in an offensive tone. I’m sure you realize that these issues are not primary issues for us. There are so many more important aspects of Trinity that we greatly value. It’s true that we can all respect one another, as the motives of all of us are to do what pleases the Lord.

  • August 10, 2015 /  Uncategorized

    The following was written by my wife.  I agree with her on the matter.  This is not to justify the sins of the North which were many before, during, and after the Civil War.  It is to point out that the main reason that that the Southern States, and the South as a culture fought the war was to preserve an unbiblical form of slavery that was race-based, permanent, did not give effect to slaves becoming Christians, and was based on kidnapping (a capital offense).

    Because of those that still defend the honor of the South among Christians, there is a need for repentance among churches that defend the motives of the South in the Civil War, and their peculiar type of slavery which exceeded the evil of most other nations in its design.

    And now, what my wife wrote:

    Southern Slavery and the Civil War

    The more I look into these issues, the more upset I get about 1) Christians defending the sin and evil of Southern slavery and 2) Christians distorting history about why the Civil War was fought.

    Part  1  Southern slavery was unbiblical, wicked and cruel.

    The slavery of the Old Testament was similar to indentured servants, not Southern slavery.  A debtor became a slave for 7 years to work off his debt.  At the end of 7 years, he was liberated with a gift of material goods to help him get restarted in life.  He was a human being with rights.  He could not be beaten to death.  If a master had sexual relations with a female slave (where did all the “mulatto” slaves come from?)  he had to marry her.

    Southern slavery existed because of kidnapping.  Kidnapping is an offense of the 6th commandment, Thou shalt not kill, and is punishable by death.  Life for life- you steal someone’s life, you lose your own.  Southern slavery was in perpetuity, down through the generations.  At minimum, slaveholders should have released slaves who became Christians and thus brothers, sending them off with material gifts.  Biblically, it was a great sin to have a slave who was a brother Israelite for more than 7 years.  (Bill Edgar states that slaveowners even denied baptism to their Christian slaves.)

    So how would you like to be kidnapped, taken to another continent, permanently separated from your family, and forced into a life of hard labor for the rest of your days .  If you marry and have children, then they will also live lives of bitter hard labor and their children too.  The grand majority of slaves were forced to work on cotton or sugar plantations, doing only what their master tells them to do, getting only what he chooses to give them. They were kept in line by fear of whipping, execution, or their worst fear, separation from their families- wives permanently separated husbands, small children permanently separated from parents- this was commonly done.  A minority of slaves who had proven they were cooperative were rewarded with the easier life of a house slave, slave craftsman  or personal servant.  These slaves had an incentive to serve well, otherwise they would be demoted back down to field slaves.

    Would you say to these brethren, yes, your  situation is lamentable, it is a tough providence, but you’re in the system now, you’ll just have to make the best of it?  Or would you try to correct the injustice, as Scripture commands us to do and seek to free the oppressed?

    People also give the ridiculous argument that these were slaves taken in war.  Maybe this could be considered if Americans actually fought a war with Africans and brought the slaves home as booty.  It cannot refer to Europeans, Arabs, and Africans raiding African villages to capture Africans, in order to get rich selling them into slavery, a market incentive provided by America.  This counts as kidnapping, not taking slaves in war.  (Do these same people who say Southern slavery was legitimate because the slaves were taken as booty in war think it would have been fine to bring back Germans from WWI and WWII as booty to be our slaves?  Or is it only acceptable in modern times if it’s blacks who are enslaved?)

    People also make the ridiculous statement that most masters were kind and most slaves were happy.  Some were happy with their masters providing for them, many desperately wanted to be free.  You can read the memoirs of slaves after the Civil War, as well as consider how many were killed trying to escape or executed after recapture.  The greatest fear of the slaveholders was a slave revolt- hardly a picture of happy, loyal slaves.  Yet even if we can picture kind masters and happy slaves, unjustly depriving a human, made in the image of God, of liberty is cruel.

    Virginia was one of the states where it was against the law to teach slaves to read, thus keeping blacks in a subservient role, not allowing them to advance intellectually.  (Everyone knows that with education comes a greater yearning for freedom. )  I find this particularly abhorrent because it denied  slaves the opportunity to read the Bible.  As the Puritans said, the most important reason to learn to read is to be able to read the Bible.

    The slave market in America and the Caribbean was huge.  The world had never before seen kidnapping on such a grand scale.  Nothing in history can compare with the size of the system of slavery in place in America and the Caribbean, not to mention the African Holocaust- millions dying in the forced overland march, left unburied, millions dying on the ocean voyage, chained in their own feces and urine.  For over 300 years. And it was a system that was entirely race-based.  Most Southerners, and some Northerners, despised all blacks, considering them an inherently inferior race and fit only for servitude.  Read the speeches and writings of Southerners in the 1800’s.  (And this is why even poor Southern whites who did not own slaves supported the institution.)

    How can people be so up in arms over the tyranny of Lincoln, when the tyranny of the Southern plantation owners was much more horrible?  Scripture is full of scathing condemnation of those who build their wealth by oppressing those who cannot defend themselves.  The opulent lifestyle of the Southern upper class was built on the backs of those who were unjustly in bondage.  The great hypocrite, Thomas Jefferson, so eloquent about all men entitled to the right of liberty, admitted that he could not free his slaves because it would mean financial ruin.  While it is commendable that a few godly men like Stonewall Jackson taught their slaves the Bible, they should have also freed them and sent them off with material gifts, according to Biblical pattern.  If it left them impoverished, it is better to be poor in this world then be guilty before God of the oppression  of unjustly denying liberty to a fellow Christian.

    God hears the groaning of His children who are unjustly enslaved, even as He heard their groaning in Egypt.  The Southern Presbyterians, rather than remaining silent or participating in such a great evil, should have denounced Southern slavery and excommunicated slaveholders, as the RPCNA did.  And Scripture calls us to repent of and ask forgiveness for the sins of our forefathers.

    Part 2  To say that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery is to perpetrate a lie and attempt to rewrite history.

    Yes, the North fought the war initially and primarily to preserve the Union.  But the South seceded primarily over the fear that slavery would be not only limited, but abolished.  That is what they themselves said.  Anyone can read the primary source  documents.

    Along with their Articles of Secession, four states issued Declarations of Causes, to explain their reasons for secession.  (Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi)  Look them up on the internet and read them.  The predominant reason given is the fear that slavery would be abolished.

    Texas:

     She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.

    In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color– a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

    By consolidating their strength, they have placed the slave-holding States in a hopeless minority in the federal congress, and rendered representation of no avail in protecting Southern rights against their exactions and encroachments. They have proclaimed, and at the ballot box sustained, the revolutionary doctrine that there is a ‘higher law’ than the constitution and laws of our Federal Union, and virtually that they will disregard their oaths and trample upon our rights.

    We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

    Mississippi:

    Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin. That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.

    South Carolina’s Declaration goes on at length about states’ rights.  After several paragraphs they explain the state right that is threatened- the right of negro slavery, which they say was guaranteed them in the Constitution.

    According to themselves, the Confederates were fighting to protect the institution of slavery.  Fearing the North was going to abolish that institution, they were fighting for their state right to own slaves.

    Here is a quote from a speech given at the Virginia Secession Convention. From Wikipedia:

    At the Virginian secession convention in February 1861, Georgian Henry Lewis Benning, who would later go on to join the Confederate army as an officer, delivered a speech in which gave his reasoning for the urging of secession from the Union, appealing to prejudices and pro-slavery sentiments to present his case. He outlined the reasons why Georgia had decided to declare secession from the Union, and urged Virginians to do the same:

    What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North-was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery. … If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished. By the time the north shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that? It is not a supposable case … war will break out everywhere like hidden fire from the earth, and it is probable that the white race, being superior in every respect, may push the other back. … we will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth; and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination. That is the fate which abolition will bring upon the white race. … We will be completely exterminated, and the land will be left in the possession of the blacks, and then it will go back to a wilderness and become another Africa… Suppose they elevate Charles Sumner to the presidency? Suppose they elevate Frederick Douglass, your escaped slave, to the presidency? What would be your position in such an event? I say give me pestilence and famine sooner than that.

    As for our discussion about why Virginia seceded, there was no imminent invasion by Lincoln of Virginia at that point.  There wasn’t a federal army at that point.  They voted to secede in response to Lincoln calling up volunteer militias from each state, including Virginia, after the ‘fire eaters”  (i.e. hotheads) in South Carolina fired on Fort Sumpter (preempting  those on both sides who were trying to negotiate.  The” fire eaters” forced the hand of  both sides into a war that especially devastated the South.)  Virginians stated they could not go to war against another Southern state. It seems their decision was driven by regional loyalty, as opposed to state loyalty or national loyalty.

    What prompted the South to secede was the election of a president- a president they loathed the way we loathe Obama.  Ideologically, what they feared was the abridgement of their right to own slaves, upon which their economy and lifestyle depended and upon which their social order depended (i.e. their sense of superiority)  Ironically, Lincoln and the Republican Party were not at the time at all interested in interfering with slavery in the South, only in its expansion to new states and territories.  Perhaps the South was correct in fearing that total abolition would eventually come, but the Southerners who pressed for secession actually hastened the demise of slavery as a result of the Civil War.

    “The South felt like a colony of the North.”  They were being outvoted (even when counting slaves as 3/5 of a person)  Nobody likes to be outvoted, but it is constitutional.  Before the Civil War, nothing had been done that was unconstitutional.  Except that the South viewed slavery as a constitutional right.  And they also wanted the North to do a better job of returning their runaway slaves and to better enforce the Fugitive Slave Act – an act which made it dangerous for even legitimately free blacks in the North.  They could be captured and enslaved, with no legal recourse.

    I agree with Lincoln, that the Civil War was a judgment on the nation for tolerating the wicked institution of slavery.  I also think that the tyranny of an expanded federal government is part of that judgment.  But as a tiny side note, since everyone decries Lincoln’s occupation of Maryland, did you know Confederate troops occupied parts of Tennessee and Alabama to keep them in the Confederacy?

    Much as I support states’ rights, I would not have fought in a war to protect my state’s right to slavery, just as I would not fight a war to protect my state’s right to abortion.  Like our Covenanter forefathers, I also would not have fought in a war to keep the South in the Union. But again, like them, I would have helped the Underground Railroad, just as Christians helped Jews escape in WWII and Christians now are involved in the fight against abortion.  Scripture calls us to fight for those who are unjustly oppressed.

  • May 11, 2015 /  Uncategorized

    From the Translators Preface of Calvin’s Commentary on the Book of Zechariah:

    ‘There have been many Commentators before and after the time of CALVIN, but it may be doubted whether any of them possessed his combined excellencies, especially the capacity of being so plain as to be understood by common readers, and of being at the same time so profound as to be interesting and instructive to the most learned; so that his Comments do in this respect retain, in a measure, the character of the book he interprets and explains.  Of his superiority over his predecessors we have the striking testimony of the learned Arminius, who, as he differed from him on several points of no small importance, may justly be considered to have been an impartial witness.  His words are remarkable,–

    “Next to the reading of Scripture, which I strongly recommend, I advise you to read the Commentaries of Calvin, on whom I bestow higher eulogies than Helmichius did; for I consider that he is incomparable in interpreting Scripture, and that his Commentaries are of more value than all that the library of the Fathers transmits to us; so that I concede to him even a spirit of prophecy superior to that of most, yea, of all others.”‘

    The quotation is a translation from the Latin from Merits of Calvin, p. 51, according to the translator of Calvin’s Commentary on the Book of Zechariah.  I have not verified this.

     

     

     

  • December 30, 2013 /  Uncategorized

    This is the outline of a psalm sing that we did at Trinity RPC on 12/29/2013.  It used the red psalter, The Book of Psalms for Singing.

    This highlights why Christians need to sing the Psalms, rather than uninspired hymns, because hymns do not deal with affliction, which is common to man.  Hymns typically deal with lightweight ideas that appeal to those who recognize no problems in their lives.

    If you don’t have affliction now, you will have it later in life, with high probability.  Being a Christian means having a share in the sufferings of Christ.  Look at Psalm 88, and see if that does not describe out Savior on the cross, taking on the sins of all of God’s elect saints.

    Topic Psalm Selection Verses to highlight
    Affliction is Normal 23C Whole psalm – there is comfort amid troubles in the valley of the shadow of death, and enemies
    Affliction is sometimes a test 66B Vv 10-12 How do we react to affliction?  Do we go to God, tough it out, complain, etc.?
    God’s Word comforts us in affliction 119G Vv 49-50 Recalling God’s Word brings peace.  Read it, memorize it, and meditate on it.
    Affliction leads us to learn God’s Word 119I Vv 67-68, 71-72 Often we don’t understand the value of God’s Word, until we are chastised for sin, or afflicted by God.
    Affliction makes us value God more 71A, B, C & D Whole psalm – Calling out to God for help, trouble from enemies, taking hope in God, and the strength that He gives, leading to revival of spirit, and praise to God.
    Affliction leads us to pray 77A & B Vv 1-15 We pray even we seem to get no answer from God, then we remember how God has acted in the past to save his people and us.
    Affliction shows us Christ and His sufferings 88A & B Whole psalm – We gain comfort knowing that the afflictions that Christ bore, and his perfect obedience through them, were necessary for our salvation.
    Affliction helps reveal God’s protection of us 124B Whole psalm – God protects us amid many who would harm us.  He guards and protects his Church.

    I hope you gain spiritual benefit from this.  We really benefited from it today, as it fit in with the sermon, and adult Sabbath School class, without any coordination.