Bible Text for Today

The Mount Forest House Church brings you something to think about from the Bible:

(you can click on the speaker icon following the text and listen to an audio recording of the chapter where today’s text is found)


Why not try our Bible Reading Plan, to read the whole Bible over three years? Its updated a week at a time each weekend.

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Now please scroll down to check out our earlier blogs…

Why study Leviticus?

To some Bible readers, Leviticus is quite a challenge. It seems to be very detailed, and also mainly a record of God’s expectations of His people Israel. But in fact, those details can be very revealing, even for us as 21st century Christians.

We have therefore added, in our Resources Section, an extract addressing this subject from Bible Studies magazine. Although originally published in 1938 the content should stir the mind of anyone wanting to see Christ “in all the Scriptures” (Lk.24:27). Click HERE to check it out. The advantage of reading this online is that all the Scripture references can be seen just by clicking on them.

Allow yourself plenty of time to review this material, and be prepared to meet a few expressions and spellings that are less used today than they were in the 1930s. We expect you will, however, agree that the subject matter, and the thought-provoking treatment of the topics by Dr Doodson are well worth the extra effort.

For those who prefer to read on Kindle, click here for a link to this material on that device. There is more information about the author in the preface to the Kindle book.

The Rights and Wrongs of War

It’s all very well to say the choice between war or peace is obvious. But what do we do when we want peace but we are surrounded by those who want war? The Psalmist of the Bible was in exactly that position; he said: “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!” You’ll have to check out Ps.120:1 to see the correct response.

If we read Ps.22 or Ps.69 we can immediately see they describe the violent opposition that Jesus faced. And the prophet Isaiah gives His response (Isa.53):

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Jesus taught we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt.5:43,44). It is in times of war that this teaching is really tested. When we see the brutal treatment of innocent sufferers, who would not wish to stop it? The big issue of taking up arms is addressed in our comments HERE. Those written statements are now put to the test.

What should we do? What would make a real difference? If the people who are acting so cruelly became true Christians, obedient to Christ, that would be the real solution. Have we prayed for the rulers and generals who are making war, that they would be saved from an eternal punishment for their actions and completely changed, so that they instead seek peace and pursue it (Ps.34:14)?

Context

Our usual calendar text seems so appropriate today, even though in the normal production process the calendar is prepared a year or two in advance. What do you think?

Reality Check!

This question may have occurred to you, even though it wasn’t on your mind when landing on this page! Please check out this short video (Opposite of Christianity? ). If you find it helpful, please share it with those you think will benefit from watching it. If it raises further questions in your own mind, then by all means share those questions with us (using the Contact link in the top menu)

I wonder…

I wonder as I wander, out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor ord’n’ry people like you and like I.
I wonder as I wander, out under the sky.

These lines are attributed to John Jacob Niles, who wrote them back in the 1930s. They ring true today. If you have heard this sung, the melody will reinforce your memory of the words. It has been said that music is the language of the emotions.

Christians may have similar feelings when they recall Ps.103 (just click on this reference to read the psalm. Today, the popular song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin ring out the truth of the opening lines of that psalm.

At this time of year many people are thinking about what is called “the nativity”, by which is meant the amazing reality that God the Son became man, born as a baby to poverty-stricken Mary, and brought up by humble carpenter Joseph. As Niles verse accurately states, God did this so that mankind could benefit from Jesus’ death. Not just for some of mankind, but for all; “like you and like I”.

The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled at present to be launched by December 25th. If all goes well, it will be able to observe the result of the formation of the earliest stars. In Genesis 1 the Bible record relegates the formation of the stars to a minor place, in the words: “He made the stars also”. The Psalmist wrote in his song:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Ps.8)

To our minds, the miraculous formation of the universe leaves us feeling rather insignificant, mere mortals on this tiny planet. But as we wander around it and observe the grandeur of God’s creation, should we not pause to wonder about why God sent His Son to be our Saviour, in fulfilment of plans made before the physical universe came into being (1 Pet.1:18-21; Eph.1:4; Heb.2:14)?

World Developments in Context

Those, perhaps the minority of Bible readers, who read the Old Testament prophetic books, may miss some of their pointedness because of a lack of awareness of the historical context in which the prophets first spoke. Some of the books make the setting quite clear. For instance, Haggai was speaking to the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. So we can date his words quite well. It still needs an appreciation of why the Jews had been led away captives in the first place, how long they had to stay there, which world leader would issue a command for them to return, etc. All these matters can be found by further study. Then there is the matter of broader context; what was going on in the nations generally.
This is worth noting when we read Jeremiah. It is helpful to know that there had been three competing world powers during his times. Egypt still considered itself a major player. Assyria, which Jonah hated so much (perhaps because he understood how cruel they would be to Israel), was declining in power and having to battle the up-and-coming Babylonians. The good king Josiah of Judah seems to have made a fatal mistake in deciding to try to ward off the Egyptian armies when they were on the way to fight on the side of the Assyrians against the Babylonians (2 Kgs.23:29). The first round of those battles may have been a draw, but eventually Egypt would be forced back to its own borders and then subjugated to Babylon, after the Babylonian armies ruthlessly took out the Assyrians.
Against that historical background you can see why those who listened to Jeremiah telling them in advance that the Babylonians would be victorious were unsure which side to back. Even after Nebuchadnezzar taught those in Judah a lesson and carried away their king (Josiah’s grandson, Jeconiah), they still seemed to hold out hope that Egypt would be the one to help them. Yet God made it very clear that Nebuchadnezzar was being used to punish other wrong-doers – and those in Judah, who had turned from God to become idol worshippers, would not escape. The alternatives were to capitulate straightaway and change their ways, or to suffer Babylonian domination of a worse sort. They chose wrongly and suffered. Only after 70 years was Jeremiah’s accurate prophecy fulfilled when King Cyrus (king of the empire that conquered the Babylonians) told the Jews to return (see Jer.25:11,12; Dan.9:2; Ezra 1:1). Not many did. It is instructive to compare the books of Nehemiah (who did return) with Esther (who did not).
Now we see China and Russia increasingly opposing the USA. We can see alignments developing between other nations and the super-powers.  Perhaps surprisingly, little Israel continues to be a focal point for the world’s attention; its boundaries are perpetually challenged, and it’s right for us to ponder why.
When Christ described world conditions that will prevail before His return to earth, He already knew such things (see Matt.24, Matt.25). His warnings will make absolutely sound reading in the context of those times. And before His feet are on earth again, He will come to the air and take disciples away from the conflicts on earth (1 Thess.4:15-18). That more immediate prospect is the context Christians should be focused on right now.
So context matters. Happy reading!

The Gaia Solution

What we are talking about here is the suggestion that climate change problems will be resolved, simply because (it is imagined) the world’s environment may inevitably be tuned to self-correct. The proposal was developed by Dr Lovelock in the 1970s and has been refined by others. Lovelock adopted the name Gaia, as in mythology she was supposedly a goddess who controlled the Earth. It is a bit unfair to use the rather shorthand description of the hypothesis in our first sentence. The scientific community would have good reason to take issue with it, since the proposers and rejecters of the hypothesis have armed themselves with more supporting data than would fit in all the blogs on this website! In terms of explanatory value, the Gaia hypothesis is rather frightening, as it seems it’s outworking would currently necessitate either a significant reduction in human population, or reversion to pre-industrial age living standards, or both! Is the human race even facing extinction? Yet the hypothesis assumes continuity of life, but without explaining Life’s origin (a fatal flaw also in the belief of some that everything can be explained by evolution, because nothing can evolve until it exists).

The Gaia hypothesis is not intended to have any religious merit; it is supposed to be purely based on natural science observations. However, reportedly noted adversaries of the hypothesis include well-known atheists. Atheists object to such hypothetical Gaia-type conclusions in part because they do not think the universe, or even our small corner of it, is purposeful. They believe, with great confidence, that random purposeless events are the cause for what we can now see and experience, and biologically DNA conveniently secures continuity of favourable outcomes. So the idea that there may be some inbuilt aspects, actually designed to favourably correct unwanted changes in the Earth’s environment is immediately rejected. Christians should have no such problems with the thought of design being evident in the universe, but that doesn’t mean they should just accept a secular Gaia-type hypothesis. If you’re interested, read on HERE.

Meta…what?

The company that owns the world’s largest social media platform is changing its name to Meta. Although meta is a prefix long used in English, what it means and why it is used are not subject to uniform views. For instance it can mean “beyond”, or “behind”, or “after”, or “changed”. Really, it is what comes after the prefix that helps us understand why it used. Thus, metadata refers to large scale data sets that may reveal greater insights about trends and developing concerns that are not apparent when looking at the detailed data one by one. There seems little doubt that the decision by Facebook’s owners to invest multi-billions of dollars in “metaverse” projects indicates why they have chosen their new name. But what is the metaverse?

Metaverse is a combination of meta and universe. It is intended to describe how technology can enable people to experience interactions not possible in the real physical universe. One aspect of the metaverse is the use of virtual reality to engage in games, or even business communications. Instead of interacting by being physically with other people, an electronic substitute is used, often called an avatar. The avatar may be given abilities to compete or communicate that are beyond the restrictions of normal life. By virtual reality, it is implied that something is very nearly, but not quite, the same as the real thing. As long as we don’t forget what the reality is, a close substitute can be very helpful. But often it seems the objective of virtual reality is to move a person into a completely unreal world, where they can be absorbed in experiences that can never be physically realized. And it also absorbs lots of time!

So much for the scene-setting, although we shall not do justice here to the potential benefits of clearer communication as technology moves on. We are more concerned about unexpected and unwanted downsides. The metaverse may be a surprising development for you or me, but it is no surprise to God! The idea of people wanting to escape from the drudgery and unwelcome limitations of real human existence is not new. For millennia there have been some who would try to enter a spirit world, to gain information or insights that others would not possess. God condemned such exploits, which often masked the intent of the evil adversary of God, Satan. See Deut.18:9-14. In a demonic twist he now induces people to exchange the real world for an imaginary one, and he deceives people into thinking evil is fun, whereas being in strong control of your thinking is made to appear boring. Check out 2 Tim.3:13 or Tit.3:3 or Col.2:18-23 for starters to verify these issues (and contact us if you need more references). In this context, the increasing use of hallucinogenic drugs and absorbing fantasy games is to be expected.

This is a website that attempts to give a biblical perspective, a Christian viewpoint, that addresses real-life concerns and interests. So, we must draw attention to Bible instruction like Peter’s words: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.1:13). Or again: “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Pet.5:8). Or the words of the Lord Jesus: ““But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap” (Lk.21:34). The battle is for the mind, and if allow our attention to be devoted to the unreal but attractive challenges of augmented reality or virtual reality, we may find our headsets are robbing our heads of their proper purpose! Christians are not immune to the drawing power of imagery, that can entangle them again in unprofitable pursuits (2 Pet.2:20). Entertaining ourselves in a virtual world cannot improve our usefulness in the real world, the world of people who need a Saviour to deliver them from eternal loss, not just a reduced point score or poor competitor ranking in a forgettable game. Paul summarizes the real battlefield: “… we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor.10:3-5). And if we are to succeed in taking the thoughts of others captive, we must start by carefully managing our own!

Many more examples could be cited, all indicating Christians need to be mentally alert, living in the expectation they will soon stand before their Maker. That may not leave us much time to spend in the metaverse!

The Church of God in action