RESPONDblogs: Happy, Hope-filled Halloween!

I love the creative way these guys have expressed the history of All Hallows’ Eve. Take a look.

 

 

All Hallows’ Eve was a vigil designed originally not to glory in the forces of darkness at all. But rather as a brief pause before the celebration of the lives of those who have gone before. The brilliant people who had used their lives to point to the true hope of the world – Jesus Christ.

 

 

“The future is futile for forces of evil, and so they did scorn them in times Medieval.”

 

 

“The triumph is not with the forces of night, it dawned with the one who said…I AM THE LIGHT.”

 

 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

 

Have a great day, today!

RESPONDblogs: Fresh Water for Africa + a Faith Upgrade for Us

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In the 13 years that Kingfisher has been visiting Africa, I have seen firsthand the devastation that dirty water wreaks on human life. Dirty water holds every manner of disease for those with no option but to drink it. The effect on human life is sobering. Suffering – hardship – sickness – death. On the other hand – I’ve also seen the joy and the health that flourishes when a fresh water supply is made available to a community of people.

 

This year at Kingfisher Church Network – we are investing in fresh water for African communities. We are investing in LIFE. We aimed at the target of helping 13 villages in Malawi and Mozambique to find their own fresh water supply. We smashed our target – so we will be able to help many more people than originally planned. This is so exciting. But you know – the background to this project is also interesting in itself.

 

Back in 2010 – the Kingfisher National Director for Malawi – Charles Mithowa – challenged us to think about how Kingfisher could enable fresh water supplies for various remote villages where a water well did not exist. The remote community of Mulanje – close to the border with Mozambique – was one such community crying out for fresh water.

 

In my naivety – I returned back to the UK with intentions to get water wells built for the folks in Mulanje. Did I have the first idea what was involved? Beyond digging a big hole and suddenly finding fresh water at the bottom? No. Not at all. I had no experience – no information – just a heart to help.

 

That heart to help led me to seek help from charities like Pump Aid and World Vision. Both of these organizations were incredibly helpful, spending time helping me understand the issues. The long and the short of it was this. They had a schedule for building water wells in Malawi. If I wanted to get on THEIR agenda – and contribute funds – I would be sure of helping many communities in Malawi. Unfortunately – the Mulanje community did not qualify. What a shame I had rashly promised fresh water to them!! Despite my disappointment – we contributed funds towards a Water Aid water pump for Malawi. Water Aid built the pumps – people in Malawi benefited. And I resigned myself to the fact that – we had failed in getting a water well built for our friends in Mulanje. Yet I made the decision to leave the problem in God’s capable hands.

 

That was a good decision because the story was not over. The end had not yet been written.

 

While I was wrestling with NGO’s and Charities…Charles Mithowa received word that his Malawian  Government was offering a practical training course in the creation of sustainable water purification systems for remote villages. The purification system uses easily accessible materials combined together in a particular way…and the Malawi Government teach key community leaders exactly how to build this purification system themsevles. As long as these leaders were willing to pay their way (in Africa – there is NO free lunch). Charles Mithowa – a wonderful and inspirational man – jumped at the chance.

 

He galvanized Kingfisher Church into action. Kingfisher Centre in Limbe allocated a field for Maize cultivation – they grew the crop, harvested it and sold it at market to raise funds. Once the funds were raised – Charles contacted the Malawi Government and informed them he could pay his way to learn how to build water purification systems.

 

Fast forward to summer 2012. We returned to Malawi. And Charles showed us how a bucket, a car battery, a filter, some sand and some chemicals could save people’s lives. I met folks whose lives had been changed by the use of this new water purification system in their villages.

 

At this point I realized that my weaknesses and my lack of knowledge and wisdom was no barrier to God’s wisdom and his plans being worked out. My limited capabilities are clear. But God’s unlimited resources make my  lack of resources insignificant. When he plans to change lives for good – it happens one way or another. The question is – will I get on HIS agenda.

 

Mulanje got fresh water – just not thru my little plan of digging them a water well. Instead today they use a filtration system that they look after and manage.

 

And the great news is that – Kingfisher Church in Malawi is working to share this basic but life changing technology to many many more villages across Malawi and Mozambique. We in Kingfisher Church UK have the privilege of contributing funds to help make it happen.

 

So where is the response to the spiritual skeptic in this blog? I think this time it might be a bit of insight into my own journey of faith…

 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21, NIV

 

What impossible goal are we facing? What dreams are in our heart?  If He wants it to happen – He will bring it about. He is not limited by our lack of wisdom or resources. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He cares for the flowers in the fields and His eye is on the sparrow. But He has his own timeline and His own way of bringing things about.

 

The real question is – what about me? Am I getting past my own agenda, and aligning myself with His? This is the most sensible thing to do – because in the final analysis “it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Wouldn’t we rather be on the prevailing side, rather than on the side of our own little plans and missions in life? The things that are so important to me, yet they are here for a little while and then like an early morning mist…they are gone.

 

In my experience – in this Water project, but in many more situations besides, He is trustworthy. He is creative. And He will never let you down when you put your life in His hands.

 

Kingfisher Church is here – http://www.kingfisher.org.uk/

You can find Pump Aid here – http://www.pumpaid.org/

World Vision is here – http://www.worldvision.org.uk/

RESPONDblogs: Abortion – How Might God Feel About It?

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I was shocked yesterday to read an article published by the Independent Website, Independent Voices Page. Ann Furedi is making a case for a removal of all legislation around abortion. But her core reasoning for this change of legislation is shocking to me.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/abortion-is-safe-and-it-should-be-as-available-as-easily-as-contraception-9808803.html

 

Ann says, “Abortion should be recognized for what it is – a safe and necessary healthcare procedure that, usually, is no more complicated than many of the minor procedures carried out in general practice….Abortion is safe and it should be available as easily as contraception for women who need it….why have a law at all?”

Abortion has become safe for the mother – it is not safe for the unborn baby by definition. Why have a law? To protect the rights of the unborn baby – that is why. Do they not get a say in all of this? Do they not have any rights?

 

The response may come – the fetus does not have the same rights as the mother. Well – I think what the Bible reveals about God’s perspective may challenge our society’s perspective.

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” Jeremiah 1:5, NIV

 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:13-14, NIV

 

I’m sorry – but God loves the mother who is in a difficult position, the woman who has suffered unspeakable trauma and finds herself pregnant. And the mother who is caught short…and wishes she could wind the clock back a few days.

He also loves that developing person.

So the case that Ann Furedi is making seems SO contrary to God’s perspective on human life…it is breathtaking.

 

How should one respond? I think our response should be marked by two attitudes:

 

1 – Forthrightly Standing Up for the Voiceless One

God does not make a distinction between fetus and baby. All he sees is a conceived person.

And yet – I am a realist. I know the pressure on GPs today. And I know that the number of children aborted each year is climbing in the West. They are the silent suffering voiceless minority. This is the holocaust of our times.

It is important that the woman’s position is heard and understood. But that developing person has needs too. Clearly their physical needs are being provided by the woman carrying them – her body’s systems are nurturing them from conception onwards. But their right for respect and value needs to come from outside. From our society and the laws and the caring organisations that adhere to them.

Yet it’s not society that determines the value of anyone – whether it be a developing baby or a young woman. That job is God’s. And he stands up for these voiceless ones.  And I think he firmly calls followers of Jesus Christ to do the same.

 

2 – Showing God’s Grace and his Forgiveness Unconditionally to EVERYONE Involved

Perhaps we have seen the way that Abortion Clinics and their staff are sometimes persecuted by aggressive folks who seem to lack discernment or empathy for the people who work at the Clinic and visit there.

I think God’s heart for everyone involved was captured by Kathy Troccoli in a song she wrote called, “A Baby’s Prayer”. The song  cuts thru all the shouting, and all the raised emotions in the Abortion Debate. It gives a small voice to that voiceless invisible child whose future is to be cut cruelly short. It touches the heart of the God who created that child in the first place.

 

But if I should die, before I wake,

I pray her soul you’ll keep.

Forgive her Lord she doesn’t know,

That you gave life to me.

 

This is the heart of it. Life is a God given gift to each of us.  Let us do what we can to nurture and support each other through that life. Whether my life is just starting in the womb, or whether you already have some decades under your belt.

RESPONDblogs: Where is GOD in the Midst of the Ebola Outbreak?

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With almost 4500 deaths from the Ebola virus in Western Africa to date this year, it has become a concern for many people. Myself included. I have lots of friends in sub-Saharan Africa – specifically the countries of Malawi and Mozambique. I am concerned for their safety. I’m glad they live a distance away.

 

Ebola is – by all accounts – a brutal virus. It would be natural for some people to ask the question – if God exists – how could he create such a vicious, microscopic killer? It’s a good question!

 

I’ve been reading some articles this week written about Ebola by:

  • Andrew Fabich, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Liberty University.
  • Doctor Fazale Rana, who has a PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Ohio University

 

What is a virus?

It is basically a strand of rogue DNA (or RNA, the cell’s DNA messenger) with a protein coat around it. This microscopic organism exists to insert its genetic material into the cells of its host. The genetic instructions from the virus essentially reprogram the cell on insertion.

The end result is that – the cell continues to function and reproduce – but the cells that it reproduces now contain the newly reprogrammed DNA from the virus.  This – I guess – is a simple picture of what infection is all about.

 

Are viruses always destructive?

Apparently not!

Mammals have a pair of genes that lead to the formation of the Placenta, and they appear to come from a virus. You could therefore argue that a virus is essential for animal reproduction.

Also, natural processes in the Earth’s oceans rely on viruses for the cycling of nutrients.

And as Microbiologists are becoming more and more adept at using and modifying the building blocks of life, they have found that viruses can be used like ammunition to combat dangerous and resistant bacteria. If the bacteria is infected, its cells break down, the bacterial infection is cured. And so on.

 

So what is Ebola?

I am reading that Ebola is a strand of genetic material composed of messenger RNA in a thin protein coat.

It is thought that – perhaps the Ebola virus originated in the African Bat population. But no one is exactly sure. The first human case of Ebola was detected in 1976.

What is fascinating tho, is this. The genetic material that makes up the Ebola virus – has been discovered to be part of the genome of Guinea Pigs and Wallabies…and a number of other mammals.

Could it be that what is now a dangerous virus, was once intended for good and healthy purposes? It has somehow become displaced from its intended place and function. It is striking that the virus is composed of the cells communication mechanism. Has it become subverted in some way? What was once good…has become tainted…dangerous…poisoned (in microbiology terms!).

 

So Where is God in the Midst of the Ebola Crisis?

I have no doubt that many (not all) of the caring profession who are treating the sick and the dying are people of faith in Jesus Christ. And so – in one sense – Jesus is right there caring for the sick. God is at the centre of this crisis – bringing hope and comfort in the midst of awful suffering.

But in another sense – I cannot help but wonder whether mankind has itself to blame for much of its suffering – Ebola included. God’s not to blame – we are. Now – I certainly don’t mean that each person who has contracted Ebola is to blame. Of course not – these people need care and attention, not criticism!

I am pointing to a wider issue that the Bible raises about mankind in relation to its Creator.

The Bible points out in Genesis that – when people got a real taste for rebelling against God – there was a devastating result on God’s good Creation.

 

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.”

Genesis 3:17-18, NIV

 

Some people might blame “Darwinian Evolution” for the appearance of deadly viruses. It is certainly true that the existing virus mutates (but it stays as Ebola, it doesn’t become something else). Others may shrug their shoulders and say – “I dunno why these deadly viruses exist. But if God existed – and he was as loving as the Christians say he is – then surely he would do something to help?”

 

I am more inclined to see rogue, weaponised genetic material like Ebola as Biology’s example of the “thorns and thistles” that the Bible points to. We live in a word which has gone wrong because of mankind’s rebellion against God. All of creation is groaning as a result. Disease and genetic material  turned dangerous could just be one of the awful symptoms of the bigger problem.

 

Can we find a cure for Ebola? I hope so! According to my Microbiologists…there is hope.

 

But the big picture is – who knows how long you and I have to live on this planet? How long will our world last? Dunno. But I do know that we are secure when we put our trust in the Creator and Saviour Jesus.

 

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

Hebrews 1:10-12, NIV

 

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

John 14:2, NIV

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

I love the clear and simple approach here.

And let me add – extraordinary events happen every week in the UK. Just ask any National Lottery winner. The likelihood of winning the jackpot is vanishingly small statistically. The thought of winning is…well…extraordinary! It would certainly transform ones life! Yet someone does hit the jackpot…every week…like clockwork…

Maybe Christianity is similar. Perhaps all we need to do to benefit from Christianity’s extraordinary claims…is simply to play the game…to buy a ticket…to dive in? We’ve got nothing to loose and everything to gain…

RESPONDblog: Did Jesus Ever Claim to be God?

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Someone said to me this week, “Jesus claimed to be the Son of God but as any critical thinker would agree, that phrase is not supposed to be taken literally. What he meant was, we are ALL derived from God.”

 

I’ve got a few friends who will readily concede to me that “Yes Stuart, Jesus was a great man. But that’s as far as it goes.” That got me to thinking. Does any evidence exist in the Gospel texts to suggest that Jesus believed himself to be God himself?

 

I think there is – and as I lay this out, I’m adapting an argument made first by J. Warner Wallace.

 

Lots of evidence exists in the new Testament Gospels to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth believed himself to be God. Yet so many people in the 21st century can miss this evidence. Why? I think there are three good reasons

 

1 – because many people make the mistake of judging Jesus without reading what the Bible says about him.

 

2 – because the Gospels are ancient documents written at a specific place and time in history. The words aren’t timeless in themselves (although many of the truths expressed thru the words are). The words themselves actually make sense in the context of that 1st century Jewish culture.

 

3 – because a lot (tho not all) of Jesus claims to divinity are TACIT CLAIMS. In other words – the claim was understood by his 1st century hearers as implied without being completely and overtly stated. If these claims are implied to 1st century hearers…we need to do a little bit of work to “get them” in the 21st century in a completely different culture.

 

So what statements does Jesus make – as part of his teaching – that 1st century hearers understood to mean he was implying that he was God himself?

 

 

FIRST – Jesus made Statements related to his Place of Origin.

Have you ever had an inspiring mentor or teacher? They are good things to have in life. Our mentors and teachers have – I suspect – always been of the same kind of stuff as us. Flawed, gifted human beings. Yet Jesus taught that he was distinct from his hearers.

For example:

Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. 24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be,[a] you will die in your sins.” John 8:23-24

 

Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” John 18:36-37

 

What I’m saying here is that Jesus was a unique teacher – not just for his wisdom and insight. But also because he distanced himself from his audience.

 

 

SECOND – Jesus made statements about his Position and Authority

What we see time and again in the gospels, is his tendency to teach about his divine position and his authority. He made statements that point to him having authority over his hearers.

For example:

“The Son of Man will send his angels…” Matthew 13:41.

This is an interesting one – the name Son of Man was often used by Jesus to refer to himself…and it builds into the case I am making here – because altho it sounds like a pretty mundane title to our ears (aren’t we all sons of men?) to 1st century Jewish ears it pointed to a prophecy from the Prophet Daniel  who speaks of the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven…given authority and rule over the whole world. His hearers understood what he was linking himself to…and they didn’t like it one bit. You can read about that encounter in Matthew 26:64.

 

“I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man[a] will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. 9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. Luke 12:8-9.

So here the angels belong to God…but in our previous quote…the angels belong to Jesus.  This would be inappropriate unless Jesus and God were one and the same.

 

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.[a] From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? John 14:6-9

He has talked about the Angels being his…now he is claiming to his followers that….anyone who has seen him has seen God himself.

 

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. John 14:23

Increasingly we are seeing where a Trinitarian understanding of God comes from in Scripture. We don’t have the Holy Spirit mentioned here…but the father and the Son are one and the same…yet distinct somehow.

 

 

THIRD – Jesus Made Statements about his Equality with God

Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.[a] No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. John 10:25-29

Whose hand are we talking about here – Jesus…God’s…? Who is giving eternal life? God the Father…Jesus? The two are enmeshed together somehow. Jesus and God are the same yet distinct persons.

 

 

FOURTH – Jesus never speaks “for God” he always speaks for himself.

At the time of the Old Testament, you had guys going around saying lots of challenging things. Isaiah…Jerimiah. And sometimes they would say something like…that’s what I think…but here is God’s actual words. We see it in phrases like, “This is what the sovereign LORD says”, or “This is what the LORD says”

Fast forward a few hundred years to Jesus time. The people at the time held him up to be a teacher and a prophet. But the irony is, Jesus (who knew the Old Testament tradition backwards and forwards) never used the approach of the Old Testament prophets in his teaching. He never said…”This is what the Lord says”. Instead – he said things like this.

“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again…” John 3:3

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away…” John 16:7

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” John 23:42-43

And on and on it goes thru the gospels. Jesus speaks for himself as a prophet from God. How impertinent! But not if he is actually who he says he is – GOD.

 

 

FIFTH – One day he DID come right out and say the 1st century equivalent to “I AM GOD”

And we can tell that this is what happened based on the reaction of his audience at the time.

His words here would be understood by his 1st century hearers in the context of Exodus 3:14 where the patriarch Moses meets God at the burning bush. And God commissions Moses to free the Israelite people from the Egyptian Pharaoh. And Moses – slightly nervous no doubt – asks who is sending me? And the reply comes.

God replied to Moses, “I am who i am.[d] Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14

 

Okay – that’s the backstory.

John’s gospel reports that one day before a crowd…he gets very specific about his identity with them. And culturally his hearers understood him.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am! John 8:58

Jesus is calling himself by the sacred name that Moses received back in the Exodus 3 days. And we know that his hearers got his meaning…cos they heard it as blasphemy and decided to punish Jesus for it!

At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple. John 8:59

 

While Jesus was often tacit in his admissions about his identity…sometimes he was very explicit…with his “I AM” statement and his “Son of Man” identity.

 

 

 

In summary – there is a powerful cumulative case emerging here.

If we accept Jesus as a great teacher – then we also have to look seriously at his claims of identity. Jesus claimed that he and God were one. And – we see that the intensely mono-theistic Jews who he was speaking to…who could not think of adopting the heresy of polytheism…began to worship Jesus themselves.

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. John 20:28

Why were the comfortable doing that? Because they intuitively got that…God the Father and God the Son were both persons of the one Godhead.

RESPONDblog: But is God Moral?

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I believe that human morals reflect the God who made us.

(You can find my claim here http://tinyurl.com/ohepkmw)

My claim assumes that God is moral. Yet ironically many people would point to the Bible itself for evidence to the contrary!

“The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer.” – Robert A. Wilson

 

I don’t completely agree with Robert A. Wilson. On the contrary. The Bible I read shows God’s kindness and patience and generosity on page after page. Yet Wilson does make an important point.

 

The Old Testament records that, as the nation of Israel is entering the Promised Land, God instructs them to destroy the Amalekites completely. This does not sound like a particularly moral thing to do, does it! Where is the call to “love your enemies”? There’s no love here – it sounds like there is a command to commit genocide. Innocent Amalekite men…women…and children all wiped out. Where is the moral goodness in all of that?

 

“Therefore, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies in the land he is giving you as a special possession, you must destroy the Amalekites and erase their memory from under heaven. Never forget this!” Deuteronomy 25:19

 

When it comes to issues of death and judgement – I hardly seem qualified to comment. How am I to understand these very difficult and troubling passages from the Biblical record? My compassion naturally goes out to people. So the thought of a whole nation being wiped out is sobering and hard to take.

 

And yet, Scholar Norman L. Geisler, PH.D. puts God’s command into its proper historical context. And I think this context shows God to be absolutely just – he will punish rebellion when he needs to. But it also shows him to be full of mercy – we are not really talking about a whole nation wiped out, here. If people want to escape, God will let them escape.

 

 

First – history records that the Amalekite people were willfully aggressive and immoral. They were not innocent. Their mission was the destruction of Israel. Genocide. The Bible records that the Amalekites took every opportunity to pick off the weak members of the Israelite people whenever they had the chance. There were other nations like this at the time too. Ancient Near Eastern cultures then were often barbaric and brutal and there were no rules for a humane war amongst these nations.

 

Second – the Amalekite people had been given hundreds of years to change their ways. Yet they persisted in their goal – the destruction of Israel. This was a big problem because God’s plan was to bring salvation for the whole world thru this nation of Israel, his chosen people. If the Amalekites would not change their ways – then God’s just punishment would have to be the result.

 

Third – God’s purpose in commanding the destruction of the Amalekites was to destroy an inherently evil national structure. His intention was not to destroy individual people who were willing to repent.

We can see this expressed in the rules of conduct that God gave to Israel. Israel was the only Ancient Near Eastern nation that had compassion and mercy and fairness at the core of their society. Whenever they arrived at an enemy city, they were to first make the people an offer of peace. We have clear evidence that women and children and non-fighting men had the opportunity to leave the city. Only hardened fighting men remained. The remaining people had a choice. Either accept the offer of peace – and live. Or reject the offer and die.

 

Four – there is evidence that people who repented and changed their ways and chose peace, received peace from God. He was good for his word. For example, the Old Testament book of Jonah records a situation where the corrupt residents of the city of Nineveh were to receive judgement. Yet these people repented and their lives were saved.

 

 

So – God is not commanding genocide on the Amalekites at all. He is not arbitrarily wiping out innocent children. Rather – the sobering truth for us is – he is destroying a corrupt national structure that has had time to change its ways and has chosen not to.

 

 

But the fact remains – even though the non-fighting Amalekites were given the opportunity to leave the combat zone, many fighters would have stayed and died. However you try to understand this – God is still commanding the death of people in these passages. How can this be a moral thing for God to do?

 

Again, Norman Geisler helps us to understand God’s command in the light of two important truths.

First – People assume that what is wrong for us is also wrong for God. But that’s not true at all. Why? Well it is certainly wrong for you to take my life. You didn’t make me…you don’t own me. But if God created my life then surely he has the right to do whatever he likes with it? If we cannot create life from nothing – then we don’t have that right to wipe that life out. God has created – and therefore he can.

This is a hard truth to swallow – but I think we intuitively get the principle behind it in other settings. For example – would you agree that an Artist has the right to do whatever he wants with his painting? If he chooses to finish it, sign it and put it in an exhibition then that is fine. However if he decides that he needs to scrap it and start again – he also has that right. Yes?

Here’s another way to look at it. It would be wrong for me to go into your garden, pull up bushes, cut down trees, kill flowers, etc. I could not do that to your garden. But – I am completely justified in doing so in MY garden because I own the bushes, the trees, etc.

The same principle applies with our loving, just God. He has the right to do what he likes – because he made the Universe and he owns it. Thank goodness he is just, caring and compassionate. Much more so than me.

 

Second – technically, God takes everyone’s life eventually. That’s what death is all about. We don’t know when it will happen – but one day we will die. God’s eventual judgement on the corrupt Amalekite people may just have clarified the timeline for them!

 

 

 

In summary – these are difficult issues not to be taken too lightly. They hold sobering truths for us today. Yet when properly understood in their historical context, I think it becomes easier to get a helpful and thoughtful perspective on them.