Judeo-Christian Scriptures: Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation, part 2

Judeo-Christian Scriptures:

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation,

part 2

Revelation 5: Jesus as the “Conquering Lamb”

lion and lamb-Revelation 5One of the most vivid of these unveilings comes in Revelation 5. Here John stands before the throne of God. The Father, sitting on the throne, holds a sealed book (really a scroll) in His right hand, and a “strong angel” asks the question, “Who is worthy to open the book?”—that is, break the seals (verse 2). John weeps as he beholds that no person is found worthy to open and read the book (see verse 4).

John is informed by one of the elders that “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (verse 5). Yet when John finally sees this “Lion,” it is no lion at all. Rather, what John sees is a “Lamb as it had been slain,” who approaches the throne and takes the book from the Father.

Those gathered round the throne begin to sing praises to the Lamb:

“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (verses 9–10).

Some see in this episode Jesus accepting the divine role of Savior in a premortal setting, while others understand it as Jesus returning to the presence of the Father following His sojourn in mortality.

What fascinates me as a reader of the book of Revelation is the paradox used to represent Jesus as two contrary animals, a lion and a lamb. It is difficult to think of two more different animals to pair together. Lions represent strength and regality, and they had a particular connection with the tribe of Judah (see Genesis 49:9; 1 Kings 10:19–20), from which it was prophesied the Messiah Himself would descend. A lamb, on the other hand, is an animal often associated with docility and meekness, in every way the antithesis of the lion. As if to emphasize the meekness of the Lamb even further, this particular Lamb is slain, or sacrificed, and it is the shedding of the blood of the Lamb that sets in motion the events that John will view next.

Revelation 5, with its images of Jesus as both a “Lion” and a “Lamb,” presents its readers with a riddle of sorts: Can victory be obtained through submission? Can one conquer through meekness? Can life be obtained through death? John’s vision will be, in large part, an attempt to provide answers to these riddles.

U.S. Constitution Series 1: Founding Fathers and Cicero

U.S. Constitution Series 1:

Founding Fathers and Cicero

Cicero was born January 3, 106 B.C.

The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

keyWorldly philosophies endeavor to blur the distinction between good and evil and eliminate accountability. However, the foundation of Natural Law (the law of the Creator) is the reality of good and evil. The U.S. Constitution was successful in creating a free and prosperous society because its foundation of Natural Law is based on moral accountability to a just God. ~C.A. Davidson

5000leapFrom The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

1. First Principle: the Genius of Natural Law

(Notes from pp. 37-47)

What is Natural Law?

The Creator’s order of things is called Natural Law.

The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.

Cicero

Cicero cut through the political and philosophical errors of both Plato and Aristotle to discover the touchstone of good laws, sound government, and the long-range formula for happy human relations. (p.37) He was the only Roman political writer who has exercised enduring influence throughout the ages. He studied law in Rome and philosophy in Athens.

Cicero’s compelling honesty led him to conclude that once the reality of the Creator is clearly identified in the mind, the only intelligent approach to government, justice, and human relations is in terms of the laws which the Supreme Creator has already established.

In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson referred to the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

In Natural Law we are dealing with factors of absolute reality.

Since the Biblical God is the author of Natural Law, the first two great commandments indicated by Jesus Christ provide the standard for government and human relations.

Internal and External Government

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

1. The first great commandment is to love and honor God (the God of Israel).  The simplest way to honor God is to abide by the Ten Commandments. These provide moral absolutes, which if obeyed, build in us a strong internal government, or good moral character.

2. The second great commandment is to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This commandment is based on love. When we serve our fellow man, we are serving God. Jesus taught that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. If we have strong internal government, (we discipline ourselves and do no harm to others, by our own choice), then there is little need for much external government, which forces people to obey the rules of civilization.  Internal government is based on love of God, ourselves, and our neighbors. External force is not based on love.

Legislation in Violation of God’s Natural Law is a Scourge to Humanity

All Law Should Be Measured against God’s Law

ciceroCicero set forth the means by which people may discern between good and evil laws. All laws must be measured by God’s Law, which he described as follows:

Therefore Law [of the Creator] is the distinction between things just and unjust, made in agreement with that primal and most ancient of all things, Nature; and in conformity to Nature’s standard are framed those human laws which inflict punishment upon the wicked and protect the good. (Dr. William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers, p. 135)

It was clear to Cicero as he came toward the close of his life that men must eliminate the depravity that had lodged itself in society. He felt they must return to the high road of Natural Law. They must pledge obedience to the mandates of a loving and concerned Creator. (Skousen, pp. 45-46)

The Following are Examples of concepts based on Natural Law

  • Unalienable rights
  • Unalienable duties
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Limited government
  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances to correct abuses by peaceful means
  • Right of contract
  • Laws protecting the family and the institution of marriage
  • Justice by reparation or paying for damages
  • Right to bear arms
  • No taxation without representation

Principle # 2:  Moral and Virtuous Leaders

Judeo-Christian Worldview: The world before Christ—What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

The World before Christ—What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

The Incredible Impact of Jesus Christ

As bad as things sometimes get, it would be unimaginable if the light of Christ had never been revealed.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe

Christ resurrectedTwenty-five years ago, D. James Kennedy and I came out with a book called, What if Jesus had Never Been Born? It ended up becoming a best-seller.

The message is very simple: Because Jesus was born, look at all these incredible blessings we have throughout the world.

Hospitals, Education

For instance, the Christian church created the phenomenon of the hospital and has created hospitals all over the world. Christianity has inspired some of the world’s greatest music and arts and has expanded education from the elite to the masses – even creating the entity of the university.

Life

Here are just a few examples of Christianity’s influence, fleshed out a bit: Prior to the coming of Christ, human life on this planet was expendable. Even today, in parts of the world where the Gospel of Christ or Christianity has not penetrated, life is exceedingly cheap. Christianity bridged the gap between the Jews—who first received the divine revelation that man was made in God’s image—and the pagans, who attributed little value to human life. Meanwhile, as we in the post-Christian West continue to abandon our Judeo-Christian heritage, life is becoming cheap once again.

In the ancient world, child sacrifice was a common practice. In ancient Rome, babies were often left to die if the father did not want them. Many Christians saved these babies and reared them in the Christian faith and helped turn the tide. Through His church, ultimately Jesus brought an end to infanticide in the Roman world. 

Christianity also helped to cease the gladiatorial contests – where slaves would be forced to fight unto death for the entertainment of the crowds. And Christianity got slavery abolished in the ancient world and then again in the modern world.

Christianity managed to stop the practice in India of widow-burning. Many times a young girl would be married to an older man. When he died, she would be burned to death on his funeral pyre…until the missionaries agitated to put a stop to this. Wherever the Gospel has truly penetrated, the value of human life has greatly increased.

Modern Science

Here’s another example: Christianity and the Bible helped give birth to modern science, beginning in the late Middle Ages. The belief that a rational God had created a rational universe inspired so many scientists to engage in scientific exploration, looking to catalog the laws the Creator had impressed upon His creation.

The early scientists thought of themselves as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” (in the words of astronomer Johannes Kepler).

The Royal Society in England was the first key scientific group – which is the oldest scientific association still in operation – and it was founded in a Puritan college in the 1660s. I have even filmed an interview at the Royal Society in London (on this very thesis).

Virtually all of the founders of every major branch of science were Bible-believing Christians. We document that in the book with a long list. One of those men, Sir Isaac Newton, was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived – and he was a committed believer who wrote more about the Bible and theology than he did about science.

Religious Freedom

Here’s another example: America as a nation was largely settled and founded by Christians for religious freedom, which they eventually extended to people of other faiths or no faith.

George WashingtonGeorge Washington, the father of our country, said that unless we imitate “the divine author of our blessed religion,” meaning Jesus, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

John Adams noted: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The essence of America is that our rights come from the Creator, and our government was established on that foundation. As JFK put it in his Inaugural Address, “The rights of man come not from the generous hand of the state, but from the hand of God.”

Trading our Heritage for a Mess of Pottage

In short, we are heirs to a great civilization, thanks in large part to Christianity and the Bible. Yet, like Esau of old who sold his birthright for a single meal, we seem bent on trading our heritage in for a mess of pottage.

What if there were no Jesus? There would be no salvation, no Salvation Army, no Red Cross, no YMCA. Many of the languages set to writing would likely never have been codified since missionaries would have had no motive to do so.

Many of the barbarians the world over would never have been civilized. Cannibalism, human sacrifice, and the abandonment of children would likely still be widely practiced, as they were before Christian influence.

To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, if Jesus had never come, it would be “always winter, but never Christmas.”

 

YouTube Video, Christmas, and Charlie Brown

Dinner Topics for Monday

This comment was found at the site of this endearing Charlie Brown video:

keyMy wife teaches in a public elementary school and she told me it was amazing how many of the kids don’t even know the original Christmas story. You know, the shepherds and all. We are swiftly becoming a pagan nation. ~David Heesen (Thanks to the public schools~C.D.)

Linus explains: this is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown

In fact, atheists even protested against this Charlie Brown message in a church.  Let’s not be intimidated by bullies who try to keep us from being who we are. Christians have always been persecuted, and it’s not going to go away. Wear it like a badge of honor. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We can take a lesson from Linus, who inspired Charlie Brown. Watch how all Charlie Brown’s friends had a change of heart and caught the Christmas Spirit.

Christmas Gift Ideas: Young Adult Literature Relevant to Today, will Strengthen Faith and Family

 

YouTube Music: Christmas Classic Handel Messiah

Without Jesus Christ, there would be no Christmas.

keyI believe that every world problem may be solved by obedience to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. ~David O. McKay

Classic Handel Messiah

Find Joy in the Reason for the Season

Jesus Christ—King of Kings, Lord of Lords

Christmas Music with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Prince of peace. Isaiah 9:6

Gallery

Judeo-Christian Worldview: 50 Christian Leaders Pray for our President at Trump’s request

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Judeo-Christian Worldview: 50 Christian Leaders Pray for our President at Trump’s request Trump asked 50 Christian leaders to cram into the Oval Office & pray for him By C. Douglas Golden, The Western Journal In the midst of a difficult … Continue reading

Judeo-Christian Traditions: Symbols of Christmas, Hope, and Peace

Judeo-Christian Traditions:

Symbols of Christmas, Hope, and Peace

Christmas Gift Ideas: Young Adult Literature Relevant to Today, will Strengthen Faith and Family

Good News! America is putting Christ back into Christmas. Walmart learned its lesson years ago. This year even the Dollar Store had some nice Christmas cards about the Savior. Here is a short list of Christmas symbols you can share at dinner time.

Christmas Symbols

chstar2The Star: A heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long, long ago- The shining hope of mankind.

The Color Red:

stainglassThe first color of Christmas, symbolizing the Savior’s sacrifice for all

chtreeThe Fir Tree:

Evergreen- the second color of Christmas shows everlasting light and life. The needles point up to heaven.

christmasbellsThe Bell: Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying that all are precious in His eyes.

christmascandleThe Candle: A mirror of starlight, reflecting our thanks for the star of Bethlehem.

christmasbowjpgThe Gift Bow: Tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.

shepherdwstaffThe Candy Cane: Represents the shape of the shepherd’s crook, used to bring lost lambs back to the fold.

chwreathjpgThe Wreath: A symbol of the never ending eternal value of love…having no end.

Keep our precious Judeo-Christian traditions alive!

 

Christmas Gift Ideas: Young Adult Literature Relevant to Today, will Strengthen Faith and Family

Christmas Stories: Gift of the Magi and the Savior Jesus Christ

Christmas Stories:

Gift of the Magi and the Savior Jesus Christ

Of sacrifice and the Savior

Christmas Gift Ideas: Young Adult Literature Relevant to Today, will Strengthen Faith and Family

Alex Mac Farland

gift-of-magi-christmas-hairchain2December 2016 – As I was growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina, my grade school education included learning about one of the town’s more famous past residents, William Sydney Porter. Perhaps you’ve heard of his pseudonym, “O. Henry.” Porter (1862-1910) left employment in his family’s drug store to establish himself as a writer.

He is best remembered for crafting “The Gift of the Magi,” one of America’s best loved short stories. The story has captivated readers around the globe. A young husband and wife are deeply in love but financially poor. Yet each secretly sacrifices greatly in order to buy the other an extravagant Christmas gift – combs for her hair and a chain for his pocket watch. Their sacrifices provide the irony that climaxes this tender Christmas classic.

Their actions certainly demonstrate sacrificial love, but as a child, I was frustrated by it. It was years before I understood the ultimate act of sacrificial love on which O. Henry’s story was based.

The Old Testament book of Isaiah points to the coming Savior in a number of key passages. Isaiah famously speaks of the one who would someday be “led like a Lamb to slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7), and “by Whose stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24). Writing around 750 BC, Isaiah prophesied events from the Savior’s time on earth that we would later read about in the Gospels: He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:34). The Messiah would be God incarnate (Isaiah 9:6, Mark 14:61, John 10:30-33). He would be beaten beyond recognition before being put to death on the cross (Isaiah 52:14, Matthew 27:26-31).

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887Here is where the facts about Christmas might seem to be as hard to reconcile as the ending of an O. Henry tale. Clearly, the Father loves and cherishes His unique and only Son, Jesus. So much so that when Christ was suffering for the sins of the world and dying on the Cross, the Father looked away. Though no one fully understands how, for the first and only time in all of eternity, the Father and the Son were separated. As Christ’s horrific betrayal, woundings, and death culminated, it is a wonder that the wrath of God didn’t erupt onto the entire globe.

The irony is that Isaiah 53:10 says, “It pleased the Father to bruise Him” (literally, “to crush Him”). How can this be? How could God possibly have been pleased with the vicious execution of the One called “His beloved Son”? How could the hateful and brutal treatment of Jesus been pleasing to the Father?

jesus-rock1The wording of Isaiah and similar passages such as John 3:16 show the compassionate heart of the Father: If it means that you would be saved – restored in this life and saved from hell in the next – the Father’s heart in Isaiah 53:10 is essentially saying to all of us, “I did all of this because I love you.”

Unlike the best human writers, God leaves no holes in the plotline of His amazing drama! Think of it: In Jesus’s coming to earth, the Author wrote Himself into the play. And He invites you, through faith in Christ, to enter into the story. Christ’s presence in the Bible and His work through history truly are the greatest story ever told. In love, God sent His Son. In love, the Son died and arose. And in love, we meet Jesus personally.

What makes this more than just a great story is the element no other author could include: The cliffhanger story of Jesus happens also to be…reality.

Alex McFarland is co-host of Exploring the Word heard daily on American Family Radio. He is author of 17 books, and speaks regularly around the U.S. Learn more at alexmcfarland.com and purchase his books at afastore.net.

Christmas Gift Ideas: Young Adult Literature Relevant to Today, will Strengthen Faith and Family

____________________

Judeo-Christian Culture: White House Christmas Tree Lighting—President Trump Honors Jesus Christ, Importance of Family

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Merry Christmas!

White House Christmas Tree Lighting—President Trump Honors Jesus Christ, Importance of Family

President Donald Trump Lights National Christmas Tree: “The birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history.”

Onan Coca

President Trump delivered an amazing speech earlier this week when he and the First Lady lit the National Christmas Tree and welcomed in the Christmas season.

“The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all—the gift of God’s love for all of humanity,” the President said. “Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history.”

From the White House:

Trump unafraid of Merry ChristmasThroughout the years, the Christmas tree lighting tradition has withstood the test of time and served as a symbol of hope through moments of hardship. In 1945, President Harry Truman delivered a Christmas message of optimism during a time consumed by the despair of World War II.

“This is the Christmas that a war-weary world has prayed for through long and awful years,” said Truman. “With peace come joy and gladness. The gloom of the war years fades as once more we light the National Community Christmas Tree.”

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Search for Happiness

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Search for Happiness

David Dickson

I truly believe, no matter what you’re going through, that greater happiness can be yours to claim.

What Is Happiness?

What is happiness, anyway? Is it the feeling you get when someone sneaks a favorite treat into your lunch box? Is it a raise at work? Marrying your eternal companion? Feeling cleansed from sin through the power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement?

Is it all of the above?

“Ultimate happiness, true peace, and anything even remotely close to scriptural joy are found first, foremost, and forever in living the gospel of Jesus Christ”1 ~Jeffrey R. Holland

According to the world, lasting happiness is found by:

  • Achieving financial prosperity, especially if it’s more than those around you.
  • Being popular.
  • Living a life of ease, leisure, and excitement.
  • Traveling extensively and experiencing many of the world’s wonders firsthand.
  • Achieving a position of power or authority in your career, community, or any other setting.
  • Changing your body to look a certain way.

What do those various strategies have in common? For one thing, they’re all linked to circumstances “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”2 . ~Russell M. Nelson

joy and happiness are clearly worth the struggle. And most of us are willing to work at it. Why, then, do so many—including the righteous—continue to struggle?

For one thing, that very struggle is key to why we’re here in the first place.

Here to Grow

 

plant break thru concreteSometimes we think of happiness as a life without problems or hardships. However, a life without struggle would not allow us the growth we came here to experience.

“One’s life … cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. ~Neal A. Maxwell

“… How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!’”5

Clearly we need struggles in life in order to grow, and being righteous plainly doesn’t spare us suffering. Examine the lives of Joseph Smith, Job, the people of Alma, and especially of our Savior Jesus Christ.6

No, righteous living does not spare us from all trouble and trials. None are spared. “For you, the righteous, the Healer of our souls, in His time and His way, will heal all your wounds.”7. ~Neil L. Andersen