We hear that hate and inhumanity in the throngs of people chanting “Gas the Jews!” outside the Sydney Opera House. We watch it as privileged 20-somethings aggressively tear down Israeli hostage posters. We witness it as U.S. members of Congress refuse to condemn the ruthless murders of 1,300 Jewish civilians. The war resulting from the Hamas attack is a reminder of a world befallen by sin and sadness—that the sin that entered the world through one man still flourishes today. We are, so it seems, doomed to repeat the darkest elements of history until Jesus returns.
In a terrifying scene at the Dagestan airport in Russia, pro-Palestinian crowds stormed an airplane carrying passengers from Tel Aviv. More than 20 people were injured, 60 were arrested, and flights from Tel Aviv to Dagestan are suspended indefinitely.
Elsewhere in the world, at Cornell University, police are investigating a series of online threats against Jewish students, prompting the school to hire extra security for the Jewish Center and kosher dining hall.
Two weeks ago, 40-year-old Rabbi Samantha Woll was murdered outside her home in cold blood, and synagogues across the country are doubling up on security measures in the face of rising and blatant antisemitism.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has recorded 312 antisemitic acts between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23 alone, and the group reports that such acts are up by 388 percent since 2022.
In the streets of New York City, London, and Washington D.C., among others, activists rally to support Hamas’ bloody attacks on Israeli civilians, calling them “freedom fighters” as reports of murdered families, beheaded babies, and tortured hostages continue to roll in.
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By Michael Kelley — 2 years ago
What’s the last thing you think about before going to sleep? Do you number sheep? Do you count in reverse starting at 100? Do you think about your schedule for the morning? Or do you drift off with your phone in your hands?
Probably you have some kind of routine. And at the risk of disrupting that routine, I wonder if you might take that chance as your eyes are starting to close to do something else. Take those last few moments to pray. But pray about what?
Though the substance of your prayers might be anything, let me suggest that those moments before you sleep are a wonderful chance to pray through some specific promises from God’s Word. So tonight, why not remind yourself of something other than the number of sheep in the pen and your 8 am meeting agenda?
Here are three truths to form your prayers as you fall asleep tonight:
1. Thank you, Lord, that you do not sleep.
In a way, every single night we are reminded of our own weakness because we actually have to go to sleep. Whilst some find that Sleep Statistics can help them learn more about their patterns, for others it isn’t so easy. It’s the way we were made. God hard-wired our physical bodies to not only desire but to need, rest. That in and of itself is a lasting testimony of our own frailty. But when you consider just how vulnerable we are when we are asleep, you get a double sense of our own weakness.
Now that might send you spiraling into a paralysis of anxiety. Or, you can take the opportunity to thank the Lord that even though you are drifting off to sleep, He never does. He is awake. Wide awake. Just as He has been and will be for all eternity.
What better comfort is there in the midst of our own weakness than confessing that though we are weak, He is strong. Though we are dependent, He is self-sustaining. Though we might slumber, God is ever alert:
I lift my eyes toward the mountains.Where will my help come from?My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;your Protector will not slumber.Indeed, the Protector of Israeldoes not slumber or sleep (Ps. 121:1-4).
By Anthony Roukema — 2 years ago
If, in fighting the good fight, we begin to look like the world in our use of words—if we become saltless salt and lightless light—what purpose do we have in the kingdom? We may be fighting for Christ but not have the spirit of Christ.
Words are weapons. They are either weapons used in the service of God and His kingdom—weapons that are brandished in love for God and our neighbor—or they are weapons used in the service of the kingdom of this fallen and sinful world—weapons wielded in love of self and hatred of God and neighbor. This is simply the reality of what words are. In our current context, this reality powerfully confronts us, and we struggle with how to wield our words. We live in the middle of a swirling vortex of political conflict, social unrest, clashing values systems, a culture war, and a global pandemic, and the power of words as weapons through social media has been exponentially increased. Through the means of various forms of social media, words as weapons are used to mobilize, encourage, scare, advocate, anger, inform, judge, punish, reward, lament, and rejoice, and all on a massive scale and with dizzying speed. How do we navigate through this daunting and sometimes overwhelming reality, and how do we ourselves wield a weapon like this that is powerful and so easily and readily available?
The ninth commandment (Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20) speaks into this reality and shows us the way forward, and it shows us the gospel for life. It says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This is courtroom language, where one can serve as a witness who brings testimony that is false and brings harm and even death to another person. The commandment is stated negatively (what God calls us not to do) but it can also be stated positively (what God wants us to do). Throughout Scripture, God calls us to protect, build up, restore, and heal others with our words. Read through Proverbs (especially chs.12–14) to see how words are to bring life and not death, to be used by the wise in contrast to their use by the fool. Our words are to be gracious, seasoned with salt (Col. 4:5–6); they are to be truth and they are to build up, as fits the occasion, that they may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:25–32).
The way we use our words reveals our hearts, it reveals the kingdom values that govern us, and it reveals the principle of life that animates us and forms and directs our hearts. A saltwater spring or a freshwater spring, a good tree or a bad tree, a heart that is earthly or fleshly—operating according to the principles and practices of fallen Adam—or a heart that is heavenly and spiritual—redeemed in Christ and renewed by the Holy Spirit and operating by the principles and practices of the new life we have in Jesus Christ.
By Michael Carlino — 3 months ago
Why is it that God is so patient with the hard-heartedness of mankind after the flood? In short: the Noahic covenant! Yahweh is clear that post-flood mankind still has the same heart problem that has wreaked havoc on the earth since the original transgression in the Garden. So, the fear and dread he puts in the animals towards humanity, combined with the death penalty for murder, as well as the command to be fruitful and multiply, are all concrete expressions of God’s common grace, whereby he promises to not wipe out humanity again in his wrath, and he curbs the effects of sin so that humanity does not destroy itself (see Gen. 9:1–7).
In last month’s theme on Genesis 1–11, I dealt with the Noahic covenant in some detail by engaging David VanDrunen’s teaching on it in relation to the covenant of creation/works/human nature/law. I made the case there that I found his interpretation and application of the Noahic covenant to be far too modest, insofar as he teaches that it holds out no hope of attaining the new creation and is merely a stopgap for sin which preserves the first creation. In essence, he singles the Noahic covenant out so that it alone accounts for how God rules over creation universally post-fall until new creation, and in so doing he is guilty of counting the limited word count of the Noahic covenant, without weighing its role within the larger narrative of Scripture.
In this essay, I aim to briefly highlight the Noahic covenant’s placement and role within the larger metanarrative of Scripture from a Progressive Covenantalist perspective. I believe VanDrunen would largely agree with the first three points to be introduced in this article, but would have significant reservations on points four and five, which I will unpack in part two. This is because he sharply demarcates common and redemptive grace and sees the Noahic covenant as non-redemptive. I however believe it brims with the promise and hope of the protoevangelium (“first gospel” promise) from Genesis 3:15.
As I stated in the previous essay, we must read each biblical covenant on its own terms and in keeping with its placement within the biblical storyline. In the words of Stephen Wellum, “By tracing out the covenants in this fashion, we are able to see how the entire plan of God is organically related and how it reaches its culmination and fulfillment in Christ . . . we will rightly see how the parts of God’s plan fit with the whole.” To that end, I contend a proper understanding of the Noahic covenant is that it: (1) reaffirms the creation covenant, (2) reminds God and man of Yahweh’s promise to never destroy the earth in judgment again, (3) remains in force until Christ’s return, (4) renders two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man, and (5) reveals Yahweh’s covenant faithfulness while anticipating the greater glory of the new covenant. Again, in today’s essay I will discuss the first three points, and in tomorrow’s followup essay I will unpack points four and five.
The Noahic Covenant…
…Reaffirms the Covenant of Creation
The word covenant does not appear in the opening chapters of Genesis until Noah enters the scene (Gen. 6:18; 9:9). Peter Gentry has highlighted the important difference between “creating a covenant” (karat berit) and “renewing/establishing a covenant previously created” (heqim berit). He also rightly observes that only the latter phrase heqim berit is used for the Noahic covenant (Gen. 6:18; 9:9, 11, 17) as opposed to the normal expression for the creation of a covenant (karat berit). For example, karat berit is invoked when Yahweh initiates the Abrahamic covenant, but by using the language of heqim berit in the Noahic covenant God’s means “to affirm (verbally) the continued validity of a prior commitment—that is, to affirm that one is still committed to the covenant relationship as established or initiated previously.”
This logic raises the question: if the first time(s) the word “covenant” is used in Scripture is Genesis 6 and 9, how can God speak of reaffirming a previous covenant? It is here that the Reformed tradition has rightly affirmed an original covenant of works/Adamic covenant, or what we Progressive Covenantalists would rather call the Creation covenant. A crucial prooftext for understanding the Noahic covenant to be a reaffirmation of a creation covenant is Hosea 6:7, which reads: “But like Adam [Israel and Judah] transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” Passages like this one give sound biblical and theological grounds to conclude God made a covenant with Adam as the vice-regent of creation, one that Adam failed to keep.