Bible History: Epic Hero, Isaiah

Dinner Topics for Friday

A Moment on the Life and Times of the Epic Hero, Isaiah

When you understand a few things about this towering prophet and epic hero—Isaiah—it is easier than you think to liken his writings to your own life and times.

isaiah3When Lehi and his family departed for the New World in about 600 B.C., Jerusalem was ripe for destruction.  Isaiah’s fifty-year ministry came to a close almost one hundred years before that, but his far-reaching influence had barely begun. Not only was Isaiah a mighty prophet, but he was also a statesman, who served as adviser to four kings of Judah.

1. Under Uzziah, Judah was a strong military power.

2. Then King Jotham further fortified the nation.

3. King Ahaz was idolatrous; he engaged in human sacrifice of his own children.  In the political realm, he tried to appease the Assyrian terrorists by offering them tribute money from the treasures of the temple.

4. Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, tried to cleanse the land of his father’s idolatry.[1]

Meanwhile the powerful and brutal Assyrians had conquered the kingdom of Israel in the north, and moved upon Judah, putting Jerusalem under siege.  To safeguard the city’s water supply, Hezekiah constructed a conduit which still exists today.

As the Assyrians were themselves threatened by Egypt, Hezekiah sought an alliance with Egypt.  But Isaiah warned that Egypt could not be trusted, and prophesied of the Assyrian destruction and Judah’s future peace and prosperity.  Hezekiah remained steadfast and trusted in the Lord by following Isaiah’s counsel.  The prophecy was fulfilled, once. It will be fulfilled again, for Isaiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Assyria was a prefiguring, or type, of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming of Christ.

Thus were the times of Isaiah fraught with wars and contention, as were the times in ancient America, and as are events of our day.  The names of the main actors are different, but the scenes and drama are repeated throughout history.  Much of what Isaiah saw in his day is not unlike what we see in modern times.  These repeated patterns, or type-scenes, are the key to understanding Isaiah’s vast prophetic world view— a window to the future.

Isaiah Spoke of Five Eras

1. His own day. 

Consider his perspective.  Unlike many self-absorbed persons of our day, Isaiah knew that his grand and sweeping visions were “not about him.”  He did not get caught up in the tumultuous moment of his day, but was able to see the total picture.

isaiahlds2. Birth and ministry of Christ in the meridian of time.

Right in the middle of an interview with the wicked Ahaz, Isaiah by command of the Lord, gave the glorious prophecy of the birth of Christ that is famous throughout all Christendom.

3. The Last Days (our times.) 

Isaiah describes why we are losing our liberty, due to uninformed citizens. (Isaiah 5:13)  He vividly describes the corruption, evil, and immorality of our day …even Political Correctness. (Isaiah 5:20) In Isaiah 29, (2 Nephi27), the prophet saw ahead nearly 3,000 years and described in detail  the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the nineteenth century.

resurrected Christmed

4. The Second Coming.

Isaiah’s writings are fraught with prophecy regarding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to usher in the Millennium.

5. The Millenium.

Lamb and Lion resizeWMIsaiah saw world events as God sees them; he described them, in some ways like a journalist, but more as a poet, using breathtaking imagery.  Isaiah’s superb literary skills are worthy of his subject.  Isaiah’s work is the finest epic literature ever written.  But there is much more to it than that.

His writings are not a mere history, nor will casual perusal unlock the treasures therein.  To limit oneself to a hasty scan would be to walk thirsty past the wells of salvation.

The Savior regarded Isaiah so highly that He gave a commandment, to “search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”(3 Ne. 23:1)

So how does one read Isaiah?

— Pray for the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Christ.

— Keep in mind that the overarching theme of Isaiah is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

— Remember Isaiah’s broad world view, which encompasses at least five different eras in the scriptural spectrum.  Look for the big picture, rather than dwelling on fragments that you may not fully understand.

— Search for themes. Do not try to read Isaiah chronologically.  Let each chapter stand alone, and find its theme.  Chapter headings give helpful clues.

— Research the footnotes.

isaiah4bibletext— Look for parallels, like reading today’s newspaper.

— Remember types and symbols. For example, Babylon means “the world.” The vineyard of the Lord means “Israel.”

— Savor the exquisite imagery. Ponder the themes and the layers of profound meaning.

— Liken the scriptures to yourself.  And liken them to the nations and the global scene.

— Be Patient. To plumb the depths of Isaiah’s inspired writing is a lifelong quest.

The Savior desires us to search the words of Isaiah (whose very name means “Jehovah saves”), for they expound the power of His Atonement and our rescue from the fallen state. Furthermore, Jesus knows there are blessings and treasures that await us if we but seek them. 

Isaiah knew this, too, when he said,

Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

(Isaiah 12:3)

Copyright 2010 by C.A. Davidson


       [1]CES, 1981:Old Testament Student Manual, Religion 302, pp.131-135

Advertisements

History Heroes: Columbus and the Israel Connection

Dinner Topics for Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus—the History Hero who revived Judeo-Christian heritage in America

History Facts

Columbus and the Connection to house of Israel

keyLittle known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ.

Columbus Day, October 12, has been observed as an official U.S. holiday since 1934. The year 1992, marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s first landfall in the New World.

columbus5Since then, many of the epic stories that make up our great American history have been purged from the schools. The rising generation is growing to adulthood with little or no knowledge of their rich heritage of liberty and their Judeo-Christian roots. October 12, if observed, no longer has much to do with the far-reaching significance of Columbus’ discovery. Like the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, Columbus Day is being overshadowed these days by the new state religion: Islam.

Even those who did study some basic history during the 20th century, however, did not have the opportunity to know the epic hero who was Christopher Columbus. Little known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ. Following are excerpts from an article by Shirley Heater which documents inspiring facts about this nearly-forgotten hero. Truly this is a story to save in your personal “Treasury of Epic Stories”, to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Christopher Columbus: Man of Vision and Faith

by Shirley R. Heater

Was the discovery made by accident, or was Columbus led by God? The Book of Mormon says he was led by the Holy Spirit, and now we have confirmation of this in Columbus’s own words, as well as additional new insights. An authentic Columbus manuscript has gone virtually unexamined until recent years. In Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, translated into English in 1991, he provides his own answers about Divine influence in his accomplishments.
Christopher Columbus, as he is known to English speakers, was born Christopher Colombo in the seaport of Genoa, Italy, in 1451.
His sailing career began when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He became a skilled seaman and navigator on merchant ships which traveled the Mediterranean Sea. In 1476, he joined his brother Bartholomew in the Portugal city of Lisbon, where they worked together on map-making. His Portuguese name was Cristovao Colom.

During his eight years in Lisbon, Columbus expanded his sailing experience into the Atlantic Ocean. He married, became the father of a son, Diego, and shortly thereafter was widowed. It was also during this period that his “vision” of sailing to new lands and saving lost souls germinated. He sought backing for his proposed venture from King John II of Portugal who turned him down.

columbusreachesamerica2Undaunted, he went to the port city of Palos de la Frontera in Spain, taking his young son with him. They were befriended by the friars of the monastery at La Rabida and then at Las Cuevas in Seville, who embraced and encouraged his ideas. His name took on the Spanish form, Cristobal Colon.

The magnitude of his intended enterprise soon opened the doors to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Their interest did not wane even though other matters kept them from following through with their approval for seven years.

During that prolonged period, he made his home in Cordoba (Cordova) where he met a young woman who became the mother of his second son, Ferdinand. [Note: He is still known throughout the Spanish-speaking world as Cristobal Colon Christopher Columbus, the English form, comes to us by way of the early colonists. Whatever the version of his name–Cristoforo, Cristovao, Cristobal or Christopher–the meaning is the same: “Christ bearer” (Sale 1990: 254n)].

Isaiah and the Isles of the Sea
 
Columbus and Nephi [from the Book of Mormon] had special regard for Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet most often quoted or referred to in both Columbus’s Book of Prophecies and the Book of Mormon. More intriguing is the fact that Nephi and Columbus selected the same portions of Isaiah and that each saw himself fulfilling those prophecies.

The Book of Mormon identifies the seed of Lehi as a remnant, a branch broken off which will be restored to the knowledge of their covenant and their Redeemer (e.g., 1 Nephi 4:15-17). Nephi and his brother, Jacob, are the only Book of Mormon writers who crossed the ocean, and they uniquely view their promised land as an island. Nephi, who delighted in the words of Isaiah (2 Nephi 11:8), “likened” them to his people (2 Nephi 8:3) in their literal fulfillment.
When Columbus was led to the “isles of the sea,” the door was opened to the lands occupied by the remnant of the Book of Mormon people. This set events in motion for the eventual restoration of the knowledge of the covenants.

columbuslandingLost Tribes and Other Sheep

Through Columbus’s writings, it is obvious that he fully expected to find the lost tribes of Israel (Wiesenthal 1973:61). He saw himself as “Christ-bearer” (the meaning of his name Christopher), God’s messenger to bring a knowledge of the Savior to the lost tribes
Particularly noteworthy is Columbus’s inclusion of John 10:16 in his Book of Prophecies: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen [fold], and I must bring them also; they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (Brigham 1991:264-265). It is with great foresight that he believed that the “flock” would not just be “Israel after the flesh” but that a “spiritual Israel” would be formed of all who would come to Christ (208-209).

When Jesus visited Lehi’s descendants, he told them that they were the other sheep of which he had spoken and that he had still other sheep (3 Nephi 7:20, 24-26). He also told them that those Gentiles who repented would also be numbered among his people (v. 37). There are specific promises in the Book of Mormon to restore the Lamanites to “the knowledge of their Redeemer, … and be numbered among his sheep” which are yet to be fulfilled (Helaman 5:104). This restoration was set in motion when Columbus was led to the New World, followed by Gentiles who brought the “record of the Jews” 0 Nephi 3:155-161). It will culminate when they receive the Book of Mormon and the two books “grow together” (2 Nephi 2:17-23).

The Jewish Connection 

columbuslandsWas Columbus Jewish? There are several proponents of Columbus’s Jewish heritage, with varying viewpoints. Some believe “What there is abundant circumstantial evidence that Columbus was of a Jewish background, at least on one side of the family” (Fuson 1987:16).
The description of Columbus in the Book of Mormon as “a man among the Gentiles” could be interpreted either as a Jew or a Gentile (1 Nephi 3:145).

Columbus is seen either as a converso, a converted Jew (Madariaga 1949:54-65,119-135), or a marrano, a professing Christian who was still a secretly-practicing Jew (Wiesenthal 1973:124-133). Whether or not he was of Jewish ancestry is an interesting proposition. Columbus’s writings are abundantly interwoven with professions of faith and belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior (Brigham 1991:179-181), and he affirms his faith in a letter to the king and queen of Spain (182-183):

Columbus’s mission was permeated with a “Jewish flavor.” Many Jews supported his venture, providing maps, instruments and finances. Many crew members are believed to have been Jewish. In anticipation of finding the lost tribes on his first voyage, Columbus took along a converso, Luis de Torres, an experienced interpreter who “knew how to speak Hebrew, Chaldean, and even some Arabic” (Fusan 1987:100-101).

columbusUpon arrival in the New World, Hebrew was probably spoken in an attempt to communicate with the natives. In the log of his first voyage, Columbus linked the beginning of his voyage to America (early morning of August 3rd) and the expulsion of all professing Jews from Spain (effective at midnight of August 2nd) (Fusan 1987:52). The Jewish people were hopeful of finding a new place of refuge (Wiesenthal 1973:88). The New World was to become a haven for Jews and a new promised land. In fact, the first refugees came in the late fifteenth century; many were marranos (Sachar 1992:10).

Columbus also desired to free Jerusalem from the Muslims and restore the Holy Land to the Church. This could only be financed by discovering new lands and gathering enough gold, silver and precious stones (Fusan 1987:34). However, he knew that his desire to bring freedom to the people of the Old Testament could ultimately come only through their conversion to Jesus Christ.

Part 2: Columbus, Prophecy, and the Holy Spirit

Gallery

Critical Thinking: Defining Biblical Worldview, Judeo-Christian Culture

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Critical Thinking Skills: Defining Biblical Worldview, Judeo-Christian Culture Worldview: What is Yours? Stacey Long American Family Association “I grew up in a Christian home and made a profession of faith at a very young age, but when I got to … Continue reading

Judeo-Christian Culture: Biblical Quotes on Strength and Mercy from Psalms

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Biblical Quotes on Strength and Mercy from Psalms

KJV BibleKing James Version

Psalm 61

David finds shelter in the Lord, abides in the Lord’s presence, and keeps his own vows.

1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

5 For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.

Psalm 62

David praises God as his defense, his rock, and his salvation—The Lord judges men according to their works.

1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.

5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.

7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.

10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.

12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

Gallery

Judeo-Christian Culture: Stress Relief Ideas, Survival Guide for Hard Times

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Stress Relief Ideas—Your 9-Point Survival Guide for Hard Times By David Dickson Hang in there! Better days ahead. Accidentally ripping your brand-new shirt or losing your math homework is one thing. Losing a loved one is quite another. … Continue reading

Quotes on Foundation of Faith: Key to Peace

Dinner Topics for Friday

Quotes from Christian Leaders on Foundation of Faith:

Prayer and Scripture Study: Key to Peace

 

Boyd K. Packer: Scripture Study—Key to Protection

ScripturePoetryMake scripture reading a part of your regular routine, and the blessings will follow. There is in the scriptures a voice of warning, but there is also great nourishment.

If the language of the scriptures at first seems strange to you, keep reading. Soon you will come to recognize the beauty and power found on those pages.

Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”5

You can test this promise for yourself.

We live in perilous times; nevertheless, we can find hope and peace for ourselves and for our families. Those living in sorrow, despairing at the possibility of children being rescued from where the world has taken them, must never give up. “Be not afraid, only believe.”6 Righteousness is more powerful than wickedness.

Children taught an understanding of the scriptures early in life will come to know the path they should walk and will be more inclined to remain on that path. Those who stray will have the ability to return and, with help, can find their way back.

If you are set on a course of faith and activity in the Church, stay on course and keep your covenants. Continue forward until the time when the Lord’s blessings will come to you and the Holy Ghost will be revealed as a moving force in your life.

If you are presently on a course that points away from the one outlined in the scriptures, let me assure you there is a way back.

Jesus Christ has prescribed a very clear method for us to repent and find healing in our lives. The cure for most mistakes can be found by seeking forgiveness through personal prayer. However, there are certain spiritual illnesses, particularly those dealing with violations of the moral law, which absolutely require the assistance and treatment of a qualified spiritual physician.

Repentance is individual, and so is forgiveness. The Lord requires only that one turn from their sin, and “[He] will forgive their iniquity, and … remember their sin no more.”10

As the repentance process is completed, you will come to understand the meaning of Isaiah’s promise about the Atonement: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”11

Just as chalk can be removed from a blackboard, with sincere repentance the effects of our transgression can be erased through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That promise applies in every case.

The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel.

Paul and others warned about the trials of our time and the days yet to come. But peace can be settled in the heart of each who turns to the scriptures and unlocks the promises of protection and redemption that are taught therein. We invite all to turn to the Savior Jesus Christ, to His teachings as found in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

I bear certain witness of the scriptures as a key to our spiritual protection. I also bear witness of the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, “that through him all might be saved”12 who will be saved. The Lord’s Church has been established on the earth once again. Of the truthfulness of the gospel I bear witness. Of Him I am a witness, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thomas S. Monson: Faith and Prayer Key to Peace—We Never Walk Alone

family6prayingThere will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone. Fear replaces faith.

When you find yourself in such circumstances, I plead with you to remember prayer. I love the words of President Ezra Taft Benson concerning prayer. Said he:

“All through my life the counsel to depend on prayer has been prized above almost any other advice I have … received. It has become an integral part of me—an anchor, a constant source of strength, and the basis of my knowledge of things divine. …

“… Though reverses come, in prayer we can find reassurance, for God will speak peace to the soul. That peace, that spirit of serenity, is life’s greatest blessing.”2

The Apostle Paul admonished:

“Let your requests be made known unto God.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”3

What a glorious promise! Peace is that which we seek, that for which we yearn.

We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask. We have the promise: “Pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.”4

Of course, prayer is not just for times of trouble. We are told repeatedly in the scriptures to “pray always”7 and to keep a prayer in our hearts.8 The words of a favorite and familiar hymn pose a question which we would do well to ask ourselves daily: “Did you think to pray?”9

Allied with prayer in helping us cope in our often difficult world is scripture study. The words of truth and inspiration found in our four standard works are prized possessions to me. I never tire of reading them. I am lifted spiritually whenever I search the scriptures. These holy words of truth and love give guidance to my life and point the way to eternal perfection.

As we read and ponder the scriptures, we will experience the sweet whisperings of the Spirit to our souls. We can find answers to our questions. We learn of the blessings which come through keeping God’s commandments. We gain a sure testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us. When scripture study is combined with our prayers, we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

Said President Gordon B. Hinckley, “May the Lord bless each of us to feast upon his holy [words] and to draw from [them] that strength, that peace, [and] that knowledge ‘which passeth all understanding’ (Philip. 4:7).”10

As we remember prayer and take time to turn to the scriptures, our lives will be infinitely more blessed and our burdens will be made lighter.

As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone.

Bible Stories: Enoch, Zion and the Holy Spirit

Bible Stories:

Dinner Topics for Monday

Enoch, Zion and the Holy Spirit

Walk with Me

Behold, my Spirit is upon you. (Moses 6:34)

And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him.  And he heard a voice from heaven. (Moses 6:26-27)

What is it like to hear a voice from heaven? What is that voice like, and how can we hear it?  Elijah learned that the Lord was not in a great and strong wind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in a still small voice.

So this still small voice said to Enoch, “Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off.”(Moses 6:27)

The Lord spoke to Enoch, because Enoch heard Him, and the people did not.  What can cause people’s hearts to wax hard, and their ears to become dull of hearing, and their eyes unable to see?  The Lord is not in the shriek of cell phones, not in the babble of radio, not in the din of TV, not in the raucous revelry of M-TV, not in the sensational imagery of electronic media, not in the roar of the crowd, but in a still small voice.

And the Lord told Enoch, “Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my Spirit is upon you . . . and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.(Moses 6:33-34)

And Enoch walked with God, and built a great city, and it was called Zion.

And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.(Moses 7:16)

And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, ZION IS FLED. (Moses 7:68-69)

 

Dinner Talk Topic:

Enoch accepted the invitation to walk with God.  Will we?

 

Copyright © 2010 C.A. Davidson

 

Critical Thinking Skills, Bible Study, and Guarding against Self-Deception

Critical Thinking Skills, Bible Study, and Guarding against Self-Deception

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog … if you feel like you are.
In a new series from Wretched TV and Radio, the Christian media ministry visited campuses in the nation’s Bible Belt. Untethered documents the delusional thinking of many college students, some of whom say they are Christians.

The following exchange between Todd Friel, host of Wretched’s popular YouTube channel, is typical of students’ beliefs.

Friel: When I die, I am going to go to Graceland and spend eternity with Elvis Presley eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches, if I sing “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog” three times before I die. Am I wrong?

Student: No, it’s certainly a little weird, but …

Friel: Ok, I’m wrong?

Student: No. You’re not wrong.

Friel: I’m not wrong?

Student: What’s wrong or right? There is no wrong or right. That’s what I’m saying.

Friel: So, I’m going to go to Graceland for eternity.

Student: If you feel like you are.

Watch Untethered at youtube.com. Use the search words “wretched untethered.”

Do not be deceived

Ed Vitagliano

AFA Vice President

April 2017 – Well-known celebrities embracing homosexuality. Young people rejecting absolute truth. Widespread biblical illiteracy. And that’s just what’s happening in the church.

For example, one study of the beliefs of members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) found that just 39% agreed that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Even worse, the percentage for pastors was still lower (35%).

It should come as no surprise to Christians living in America that there is a war against the Bible and its truth. Satan has always started his work of deception by asking, “Has God said?” (Genesis 3:1).

America is not the sole location for this battle, of course. It is universal. It is also not limited to 2017 – it is timeless and will only end when the Lord completes His triumph over evil.

Within the church, the fight against deception is both a corporate and an individual battle. The corporate war against error depends on church leadership holding fast to the truth and teaching sound doctrine. Leaders must also continually guard the flock against wolves in sheep’s clothing.

beware of false prophets

However, there is a war for the individual Christian to fight, too. The Bible places a lot of emphasis here, with consistent exhortations like, “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matthew 24:4); “Let no one deceive you” (Ephesians 5:6); and “Do not be deceived” (Galatians 6:7, 1 Corinthians 6:9, James 1:16).

At first glance, it might seem rather strange for Scripture to command us not to be deceived. After all, we tend to think that deception happens because someone tricked us. If someone fooled us, it’s not our fault, right?

Well, God certainly faults deceivers for teaching error. Those who are false prophets and false teachers are condemned in the Bible in absolutely frightening terms. As an example of this kind of language, read the Book of Jude.

But there is no escaping the nature of warnings to individual Christians that they not let themselves fall prey to deceivers. For example, in Matthew 24:4, Jesus said to us, you see to it that you’re not misled.

The reason for such exhortations is simple: The susceptibility to being deceived comes from our approach to God’s truth. The Lord expects us to pursue truth – and holds us accountable for doing so. The following are three passages that bear this out.

 

John 3:19-21 (King James Version)

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.


Here Jesus makes it clear that, when it comes to God’s truth, there are only two directions: toward it or away from it. There are plenty of contrasts used in these few verses: light versus darkness; evil versus righteousness (implied); and truth versus error (implied).

Clearly, Jesus is the light spoken of here, and light is frequently used as a metaphor for God and His truth. From human experience, we know that we see better in the light, and things can only stay hidden in the darkness.

Even Christians sometimes want things to stay hidden (although nothing is really hidden from God). If we want to hide our sins from the light, we tend to avoid His word – and avoid Him. Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill made a similar observation when he said:

 “A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning.”

Again, there are only two directions; to move away from the light is to move into darkness. That is a sure path to deception.

Romans 1:21-28 (KJV)

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;


A similar sentiment is expressed by Paul in this famous passage in Romans. We see the same human stubbornness on the part of pagans, refusing to acknowledge God’s glory and refusing to honor Him. They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18) because they love their sin.

However, there is an additional danger emphasized here. Paul makes clear that the refusal to embrace the truth as God shows it to us only leads to further deception. Rejection of God’s truth sets in motion something like a death spiral into greater and greater darkness. There is no standing still. We are all pulled toward one pole or the other. This is even true for the Christian.

Thus, Paul says, thinking can become a futile exercise; foolish hearts can become darkened; people who see themselves as wise because they reject God’s truth actually become fools; and rebellious minds can become depraved (vv. 21, 22, 28). Deception comes upon those who reject light, even though they do not realize it, and it only gets darker.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (KJV)


Smack in the middle of a passage that most commentators believe applies to the time of the antichrist, Paul’s words here are yet another warning about the nature of sin, darkness, and delusion. Once again, we see the same two categories of people.

First, there are those who receive the truth and “believe the truth.” These are people who have a “love of the truth” that supersedes everything else. This love for the truth enables them to be saved, and, for the continuing Christian life, we might say that their love of the truth allows for sanctification to be ongoing.

Paul identifies a second category of people, as those who “do not receive the love of the truth,” but instead “took pleasure in wickedness.” There are consequences for this, too. Sin deceives the sinner – i.e. there is a “deception of wickedness.” Continuing in this darkness leads to further deception – “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.”

Now, these three passages are probably best understood as warnings to unbelievers who reject the light of God in Christ altogether. On the other hand, as a general principle regarding both human nature and the nature of spiritual things, there is an implicit warning to Christians as well. It is important how we respond to the light of God’s word. It makes all the difference in the world whether we love the truth in order to be sanctified or prefer to love our sin.

 Christians are to take the danger of delusion seriously.

When Scripture says, “See to it that no one misleads you,” “Let no one deceive you,” and “Do not be deceived,” it is a warning against embracing darkness. Christians are to take the danger of delusion seriously.

On the other hand, there is also a wonderful promise.

For those who love Christ above all other things, we really can walk in the light, as He is in the light, “and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

 

Abortion Victim: Fathers

Another victim of abortion

abortion_dadBy Anne Reed
It is a simple fact that conception of a child requires the equal biological participation of a female and a male counterpart – mother and father. The baby is obviously the first victim in abortion. Moreover, the pro-life community has leaned toward spotlighting the mother as a victim – and rightly so. But often down-played or even ignored is the fact that the baby’s father is also a victim of the lies of a culture that advocates abortion.

The Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 violently opened the door for widespread legalized abortion in the U.S. The court focused on the woman’s right to privacy while the personhood of the child in the womb was disregarded. So were the rights of the father.

In the immediate years following this decision, 12 states adopted laws protecting the rights of some  men by requiring the husband’s consent before his wife could follow through with an abortion. Unfortunately, in 1976, the Supreme Court evaluated those state laws, and declared them inconsistent with the basis and decision of Roe v Wade and, therefore, unconstitutional.

Confusion and research
Forty years later, millions of men have been affected by abortion. Many knowingly participated through a wide range of approaches, from passivity to coercion. The men who make up these grievous numbers often are boyfriends and husbands. In other cases, the pregnant girl or woman was faced by pressure from her own father, relatives or friends to “get rid of the problem.” Some men abandoned the mother and crisis pregnancy situation altogether. Others responded with indifference, leaving the mother confused and feeling helpless. Others who were uninformed or deceived came to learn about the abortion after the fact. Still other men fought unsuccessfully for the lives of their unborn children.

Catherine Coyle, Ph.D., has done extensive research on the subject of men who have been harmed by abortion. In her book Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, published in 1999, a man called Dan recounts the inner turmoil he experienced in accompanying his future wife during an abortion (excerpt above). Helplessness and confusion were two common themes expressed by men interviewed in Coyle’s research.

State laws related to abortion disregard the father, thereby communicating that the father has no final influence or authority. He is, therefore, denied the paternal instinct that motivates him to care for his family. One post-abortive father who now counsels post-abortive men wrote, “As I reflect on God’s purpose and role for men found in the Word, I see that because of my choice of participating in this offensive sin of killing my unborn child, I quit life. I taught myself to shortcut life in all decisions in the future (husband decisions, father decisions, job decisions, etc.).”

What makes things worse is that men are more likely than women to go forward in denial about negative emotions profoundly affecting their lives. Vincent Rue, Ph.D., a forerunner in researching the effects of abortion on men, wrote, “Men do grieve following abortion, but they are more likely to deny their grief or internalize their feelings of loss rather than openly express them. … When men do express their grief, they try to do so in culturally prescribed ‘masculine’ ways, i.e. anger, aggressiveness, control.”

Post-abortive men are likely to experience tendencies toward angry and violent behavior as well as an overall sense of lost manhood. Common consequences include broken relationships; sexual dysfunction; substance abuse; self-hatred; ever-increasing feelings of grief, guilt and depression; and dangerous or even suicidal behavior.

Confession and repentance
King David describes the body’s reaction to secret sin: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). John’s first epistle stressed the importance of confession: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). James 5:16 takes confession even farther: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”

One has to wonder what would happen if widespread confession of this sin swept across the nation. What would happen if mighty warriors, expressing strength through weakness, stepped into the front lines creating a massive wave of confession and repentance? How would marriages be affected in the here and now? How would this culture be affected as a whole? Would the hearts of the fathers be turned back to the children?

What if, rather than hiding the truth of past and present sexual impurity, confession and repentance became an igniting fire in our churches? What about those men living inside a fortress of unforgiveness? How many hearts are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, self-justification and resentment? Shame, guilt and blame can be so deep-rooted that these wounded warriors more often than not need fellow soldiers and armor bearers to come alongside them in battle.

Perhaps the real question is, “What would happen if men fought back?” Not with weapons of the flesh, but as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

For a post-abortive father, these steps can light the way out of darkness and despair:
1) Acknowledge your responsibility.
2) Confess to God and at least one other person you can trust.
3) Seek out and use available resources for post-abortion men.

A man struggling with any sin is inclined to keep it secret. However, biblical wisdom tells him not to give in to fear, pride and shame. Forgiveness and healing are attainable. Be a warrior; go after the victory.
An expanded version of this article appears in Patricia K. Layton’s new book Finding Freedom: Healing and Hope After Abortion. It is available at www.surrenderingthesecret.com