Nineveh and Us

I recently read an opinion that went something like this: “Perhaps God has spared the USA from judgement (particularly over its love affair with abortion) because there are still enough Christians who provide so much funding to missions around the world. I think the statistic was that 95% of all missions giving in the world is from the US (I have not verified this).

I do not believe that the missions giving from the US has somehow saved it from God’s judgment. I think the judgment is underway, and we’re just not seeing it for what it is. For what it’s worth, I don’t think God needs our money, and will raise up missionaries and funds for works that we cannot imagine, and that they will be accomplished outside the box of the modern missionary movement. This movement was and is good, but God is not limited by it, even if it seems to be a tradition that has been with us since the beginning of the church.

Pertinent to the discussion however: I just completed a short series on Nahum, and was struck by this:

In both prophecies against Nineveh (the Assyrian empire), God closes with a rhetorical question (these two books are the only two in the Bible that end in questions). In the first, God asks Jonah, “Have you no compassion?” In fact, Jonah is much more about the messenger than it is about those who received it. He hated Nineveh with good reason. His message offered no hope. His message was one sentence: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). The people repented, God showed mercy, and Jonah hated the whole deal.

Note, though, in God’s question to Jonah, that he mentions 120,000 innocent people and “much cattle.” The innocence of the potential victims, is important, because in Nahum, God calls the Ninevites to account for the innocent victims of their warfare.

In Nahum, God asks the people, “For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?” which is to say, “Have you no limits?”

In the Jonah, God’s mercy and compassion was given (though not offered by Jonah), there were innocent people; in Nahum, God condemns Nineveh for their evil—there is no offer of mercy or repentance. They crushed the innocent.

It is as if Jonah and Nahum are juxtaposed against one another to show the worst case of righteous condemnation by a messenger, and the worst case of evil by an empire.

All this goes to say that God’s patience is long, and the longer a people goes without repentance, the more total the judgment. God’s slowness is no sign of weakness. If you can’t hear a train coming down the track, and can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s not coming, and that with sudden effect.

I also noticed several other things:

  1. God’s judgements are impossible; that is, there is no hint in world affairs that this could happen. The Assyrian empire was as entrenched as sunrise and sunset—it was never going away. Let’s say in 10 years, the capital in Washington, D.C. is paved over to make a Sam’s Club, and the greatest empire in the world in 2025 is run out of Iceland or Zimbabwe. It’s that kind of impossible.
  2. God judges in kind. A hint of the brutality of the Assyrians is shown in their conquest of Thebes. Thebes was similar in protection as Nineveh (using water as a means to buffer against invasion), yet they fell and were brutalised (Nahum 3:10). It is not unlikely that the children of Nineveh suffered the same fate that the Assyrians inflicted at Thebes.

When I say that “God judges in kind,” I mean that, many times, what is done to others is done to the perpetrator. The Assyrians can expect no less than what they did to Thebes (3:10ff).

  1. When I read Nahum 3:10, I think of the millions of children aborted in the West, many who are quite literally “dashed in pieces” in abortuaries. And this is done “at the head of every street,” that is to say, in public, publicly acknowledged and financed. In the West, abortion is not carried out in a dark place away from the authorities, but applauded by them. Add to this the Western export of abortion to the developing world, and we may see ourselves as a modern Nineveh.

I agree that judgment against the West seems to be delayed, except for this: while we are not experiencing the wrath of nature from God for our tolerance of abortion, we are suffering the demographic crises that unrestricted abortion allows. We are not experiencing floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes at an obviously high rate, but we are reaping what we have sown, and our children and their children will live in a remarkably different place than the one we occupied.

China has 15% fewer female children than male; Europe, Japan, and Canada have negative birth rates, and the US is barely treading water in replacing its population.

Could it be that the immigration crisis is God’s certain judgment for eliminating an entire generation of children? By disallowing immigration, Japan will simply cease to exist and be annexed by North Korea or China. By 2020, it is estimated that in Japan there will be more adults in diapers than infants. It is in Japan that sad elderly people rent families on weekends.

Russia’s population decline (also with a high abortion rate) has made annexation of its extreme Eastern parts by China a likelihood.

We witness the crisis in Europe now, whose leaders see hope in the mass immigration from the Middle East, a hope that someone will pay the taxes and debt of the future.

In the US, the Mexican immigration will continue unabated, no matter who is elected president.

Interesting thing about almost all of the mass-movements of people right now: both the Muslim and Mexican populations tend to be family people, and much less likely to kill their children.

I personally believe that the judgement is already beginning. In North America, we should be learning Spanish.

It seems that no Western leader is willing to say the real reason for allowing nearly unlimited immigration: there are not enough natives in the host countries to carry things on. If a leader admitted it, and someone were awake enough to ask “why?” the only valid answer is that we have forfeited our future by refusing to allow a generation of children to live.

God has not, it seems, granted any of our leaders repentance for this crime.

 

God’s Love in Holiness

David-Wells-Theologian

“No truth today seems more self-evident in our culture than the fact that God is love. But this is not understood in its biblical setting where John immediately defines the nature of this love by saying that Christ was sent “to be the propitiation for our sins” (I Jn. 4:10). Our world today is relentlessly therapeutic whereas God’s is relentlessly moral. In our culture, people think that God is love because he is supposed to be there for them. If he is love, then it is his role to make them feel better about themselves. And if he is love, then he will give them stuff. Maybe a big lottery win.

By contrast, the Bible says God is love because he provided in the Son what his holiness demanded, a propitiation. But this is a jarring and unwelcome intrusion as far as our culture is concerned. It wants God’s love without his holiness. It wants acceptance without atonement, blessing without repentance, God’s therapeutic benefits without the gospel. This, though, is something no one can ever have. And that needs to be heard in the Church, not in muffled ways, but with clarity and forthrightness. 

One of our deepest satisfactions in life, in fact, is to live in the light of the truth that God is both holy and loving. This takes us into the heart of reality. When we are there, we start to think about life in ways that are consistent with who God is. And knowing God’s holy-love is what puts steel into our spines and fire into our hearts. Today, the Church is in need of reform because, too often, it has lost this vision of God.”

David Wells, in Semper Reformanda: Why the Reformation Still Matters, Copyright 2014 Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Inc, 600 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601 USA.

God's Love in Holiness

David-Wells-Theologian

“No truth today seems more self-evident in our culture than the fact that God is love. But this is not understood in its biblical setting where John immediately defines the nature of this love by saying that Christ was sent “to be the propitiation for our sins” (I Jn. 4:10). Our world today is relentlessly therapeutic whereas God’s is relentlessly moral. In our culture, people think that God is love because he is supposed to be there for them. If he is love, then it is his role to make them feel better about themselves. And if he is love, then he will give them stuff. Maybe a big lottery win.

By contrast, the Bible says God is love because he provided in the Son what his holiness demanded, a propitiation. But this is a jarring and unwelcome intrusion as far as our culture is concerned. It wants God’s love without his holiness. It wants acceptance without atonement, blessing without repentance, God’s therapeutic benefits without the gospel. This, though, is something no one can ever have. And that needs to be heard in the Church, not in muffled ways, but with clarity and forthrightness. 

One of our deepest satisfactions in life, in fact, is to live in the light of the truth that God is both holy and loving. This takes us into the heart of reality. When we are there, we start to think about life in ways that are consistent with who God is. And knowing God’s holy-love is what puts steel into our spines and fire into our hearts. Today, the Church is in need of reform because, too often, it has lost this vision of God.”

David Wells, in Semper Reformanda: Why the Reformation Still Matters, Copyright 2014 Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Inc, 600 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601 USA.

Cardiphonia

john-newton

From John Newton’s Cardiphonia:. This book strongly influenced poet Hannah More, of the Clapham Sect, the group (Wilberforce was a member) that was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade in the United Kingdom.

Romans 7:21 (ESV)

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

“But, blessed be God, though we must feel hourly cause for shame and humiliation for what we are in ourselves, we have cause to rejoice continually in Christ Jesus, who, as he is revealed unto us under the various names, characters, relations, and offices, which he bears in the Scripture, holds out to our faith a balm for every wound, a cordial for every discouragement, and a sufficient answer to every objection which sin or Satan can suggest against our peace. If we are guilty, he is our Righteousness; if we are sick, he is our infallible Physician; if we are weak, helpless, and defenceless, he is the compassionate and faithful Shepherd who has taken charge of us, and will not suffer any thing to disappoint our hopes, or to separate us from his love. He knows our frame, he remembers that we are but dust, and has engaged to guide us by his counsel, support us by his power, and at length to receive us to his glory, that we may be with him for ever.”

 

John Newton, Richard Cecil, The Works of the John Newton, vol. 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 439.

Bahnsen on Miracles: What Makes a Theist?

 

Bahnsen on Miracles

Quote from Greg Bahnsen in his closing remarks in a debate with Dr. Gordon Stein (Stein representing the atheist position).

Audio and printed transcript available here.

The full context of the quote below:

Moderator: Dr. Stein, the final question is directed to you. It reads:
You have said that there has been no adequate evidence put forth for God’s existence. What for you personally would constitute adequate evidence for God’s existence?
Stein: Well, it’s very simple. I can give you two examples. If that podium suddenly rose into the air five feet, stayed there for a minute and then dropped right down again, I would say that is evidence of a supernatural because it would violate everything we knew about the laws of physics and chemistry.

Assuming that there wasn’t an engine under there or a wire attached to it, we can make those obvious exclusions. That would be evidence for a supernatural violation of the laws. We could call it a miracle right before your eyes. That would be evidence I would accept.

Any kind of a supernatural being putting it into appearance and doing miracles that could not be stage magic would also be evidence that I would accept. Those are the two simplest way. I would also accept evidence that logically non-contradictory, and I have not heard any yet here tonight that hasn’t been offered already.

Bahnsen: Dr. Stein, I think, is really not reflecting on the true nature of atheism and human nature when he says, “All it would take is a miracle in my very presence to believe in God.” History is replete with first of all things which would be apparently miracles to people.

Now, from an atheistic or naturalistic standpoint, I will grant, in terms of the hypothesis, that that’s because they were ignorant of all the calls of factors and so it appeared to be miracles. But you see that didn’t make everybody into a theist. In fact, the Scriptures tells us that there were instances of people who witnessed miracles, who all the more hardened their heart, and eventually crucified the Lord of glory. They saw his miracles, that didn’t change their mind.

People are not made theists by miracles. People must change their world views; their hearts must be changed. They need to be converted. That what it takes, and that’s what it would take for Dr. Stein to finally believe it. If this podium rose up five feet off the ground and stayed there, Dr. Stein would eventually have in the future some naturalistic explanation because they believe things on faith, by which I mean that they believe things as which they have not proven by their senses.

On Viewing National Sin

Manton

“There must be not only a constant disposition to mourn over the sins of others, but upon some more than ordinary occasions it must with much seriousness be exercised and set a-work. It is said of Lot, 2 Peter 2:8, ‘He vexed his righteous soul’ in seeing their filthiness with his eyes and hearing their blasphemies with his ears, these were continual torments to him; he could go nowhere but he heard or saw something that was matter of grief to him. That is a sad prognostic of an approaching judgment when a country is so bad that it is made, as it were, a prison to a godly man. Daily a Christian hath his occasions of sorrow. How can we walk the streets with dry eyes when we here shall see a reeling drunkard, there hear a profane swearer rending and tearing the sacred name of God in pieces, a filthy speaker, theatres and the devil’s temples crowded with such a multitude of people, that men may learn more how to please the flesh and hate godliness, and feast their ears with filthy talk? To see people so mad against God, and ready to cast off the yoke of Christ everywhere, this occasions matter of grief and mourning before the Lord. But besides this, there must be solemn exercises, when our eyes must gush out with tears, and we must open the flood-gates. We must wish, as Jer. 9:1, ‘Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!’ There are certain times when this is necessary, as times of great sin, and of judgment felt or feared.[1]

Thomas Manton, 1620-1677

[1] Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 8 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1872), 425.