Thursday, February 15, 2007

Know Your Enemy

Satan, a mythical creature standing tall on hoofed feet with a bottle of wine in one hand and the world's riches in the other, or is he the little red nymph who runs around waiting to unleash his pranks on unsuspecting humans? Before we can fight the enemy, we must study his personality. When we learn to discern the attacks of evil, we can then counter-attack using God's weapons.

The Torah names Satan, Azazel, which means Accuser and we see a product of his accusations in the Book of Job both in the Torah and the Old Testament. "The LORD said to Satan, "Whence have you come?" Satan answered the LORD, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face." Job 1: 7-11 RSV
Christians call him Lucifer, the bearer of light. According to tradition, Lucifer was created by God as his light bearer, and as God's wisdom is frequently referred to as 'light', then we can see that Lucifer probably held a high office in God's kingdom; but Lucifer wanted more. Which was his first sin - lust or envy? Only God can know for sure, however, we do know that Lucifer lusted for more power and envied the power of God. Then, in his own pride, he incited other angels to follow him into a revolt against God. So we see 'the creation' fighting against the Creator for the Kingdom. Lucifer and his minions lost and were cast from heaven to the earth.
Lucifer makes his next appearance in the Garden of Eden. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5 RSV
We see in this passage that Satan is subtle; covert in his temptations. This subtly displays intelligence and planning in his temptation strategy. He will weave one tiny untruth in a whole field of truth, but that one untruth will be the key to our downfall. He is also described as a wild creature. At first glance, this may be interpreted to mean that the character outlined in Genesis is not Satan, but in fact an actual serpent or snake, but let us remember that Satan is a creature; that is, he was created. To describe him as 'wild' highlights his previous rebellion.
To validate his subtlety, Satan approaches Eve with a rhetorical, but leading question. "Did God say you shall not eat of any tree in the Garden?" In choosing a question instead of a statement, Satan is fomenting doubt in the mind of Eve. He hopes that this doubt will lead to her confusion. Once he creates doubt and confusion, he can easily lead into his temptation. So, though his device was confusion, his temptation to Eve was the promise of power.
Not only did Lucifer's temptation create doubt in Eve's mind about what God had commanded, but he also created doubt about her own value and worth in God's eyes. Lucifer implied that Eve was not complete as a final product of God's creation, and the implication was that Eve needed something more . By eating the fruit, she would be more knowledgeable - more worthy. Doesn't Satan still use this ploy on today's Christians?
As we move through Genesis, we find the need for spiritual warfare. " I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15 RSV This statement made by God is a declaration of the war that exists between man and Satan.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God's Weapons of Mass Construction

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. " Ephesians 6:12 KJV

Man-made laws set a standard for acceptable behavior within society. Deviation from that behavior requires societal judgement and sometimes punishment. However, problems arise when what is perceived acceptable by one group is unlawful to another group, or what was once unlawful now becomes lawful. Does truth waiver? Are the boundaries between good and evil black and white, or are they ever-changing shades of gray?

Most people will concur that evil exists. There are those whose actions are so heinous, so remarkable, they prompt a consensus of aversion around the world. This is the face of evil. Evil is organic; it lives and left unchecked, it grows. As evil grows it blurs our perception of the boundaries between good and evil by creating confusion.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan asked Eve a question - "Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" Genesis 3:1 RSV His question intended to cause confusion; a stirring up of Eve's inner peace about what is right and what is wrong. It is the same way he operates today.

People today are confused about what is right and what is wrong for the rules to the game continue to change. What was wrong fifty years ago is embraced today, and what was correct then is now condemned. We live in a world where animals have more rights than our own children. Outrageous hatred is given a wide berth by appeasement, and an act of kindness is returned with opportunistic violence. Humanists have lost their humanity and theists are demonized. Democracy has silenced our voices with political correctness, and socialism has made us all slaves for the first five months of every working year. Something must change.

When Moses brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, the people asked God for his laws hoping to obtain salvation by compliance. God had a different plan of salvation, but because the Israelites insisted, he gave Moses the law with the instructions that breaking just one required death. The Israelites failed. Centuries later, God sent his Son to complete His plan of salvation by grace. God allowed the Israelites to try it their way, but it is by grace - God's way - that we achieve salvation.

Today, we are making the same mistakes the Israelites made centuries ago. We want to fight evil our own way. Frankly folks, we are failing. I call on you to fight God's way, according to his plan outlined in his word. To prevail, we must use God's Weapons of Mass Construction.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

In the 7th to 8th Century BCE

The God of war worshipped by the Ammonites requires a sacrifice to combat chaos and provide victory to his worshippers. The Ammonites, people living east of the Dead Sea, named this god Moloch. The Assyrians named this god Ashur. They fashioned their god from metal, and it was hollow inside. A fire set at the feet of the statue would heat the entire metal structure. Then, an infant wold be placed on the outstretched arms of the statue as a sacrifice. While the infant screamed and cried, the priests would chant and sing to their god. Finally, at the end of the ceremony, a lever would raise the arms of the statue dispatching the infant into the fire.

In 1979

During the Iraq-Iran war, the Ayatollah purchased 500,000 plastic keys from Taiwan. Children as young as six years old were given the gaily colored keys and told that they are the keys to Paradise. The children would then be forced to walk ahead of the Iranian army to act as human triggers for the Iraqi laid land mines. The small stature of the children were a convenient trigger as the explosion usually left little to bury.

January, 2007

The holy day of Ashoura was celebrated by the Muslim world. This is the day that the Islamic saint, Inman Huessein was decapitated. In remembrance, Shite infants, children and adults slash their foreheads three times with razors or knives. While the children undergo this procedure, the adults break out into a chant commemorating the venerated saint. The children are then given juice and cookies to quiet their cries.