And Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision,
and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it.
(Habakkuk 2:2 [ASV])

Eight Souls
In the age when men lived to be nearly a thousand years old, wickedness became so great that God only saved eight people.

Power Of Prayer
A look at prayer and and its great importance to a genuine Christian.

Prayer: Standing In The Gap

An Open Letter To Black Lives Matter:
How to avoid being ensnared in the ongoing Federal operation 'Ni--er Catcher' and 'Black Snare', run out of the US intelligence community and certain sections of Law Enforcement. These operations do exist, though naturally not with those pejorative titles. They are not legal, nor are they officially recognized but key people in high positions run these operations that specifically target Black Americans and certain White Americans who seek justice, truth and use their rights to bring these things back to our once great nation. The impetus comes from the US Intelligence community - LE does the footwork. This is what they did to so many civil rights leaders back in the 60's and 70's. They have honed their skills for the technology of the 21st century.

An Open Letter To Senator Mikulski And The Senate Select Committee On Intelligence

Last Updated
  18 Sept

Watson's Web
Biblical Perspective For Our Times

For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words,
of him shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in his own glory,
and the glory of the Father,
and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:26 [ASV])

I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I
 shall not be moved.
(Psalms 16:8 [ASV])

Mark can be reached

18 Sept


(Note: This was written a couple of weeks ago for insiders) I want to just take a minute and show you something from the CBO that just came out. It's about the whole US fiscal situation. It bears watching. Why? As I said a few days ago (to insiders), I suspect, just a suspicion mind you... but I suspect that one the reason the stimulus talks are proposing such meager amounts is because there is real concern over the debt. Key leaders in Congress may have been given a kind of 'reality check' briefing on the US debt situation that you and I will never be allowed to see.

The details of these kinds of problems, the real ones,  are often kind of 'hidden' in some of the data coming out of the government. Keep in mind, when the news is really bad and they are forced to report it, they will often try and 'bury it' deep inside their reports and hope that no one notices it.

This time, the bad news is put right up in the first pages in the 'at a glance section'.

Deficits. CBO projects a federal budget deficit of $3.3 trillion in 2020, more than triple the shortfall recorded in 2019. That increase is mostly the result of the economic disruption caused by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and the enactment of legislation in response. At 16.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit in 2020 would be the largest since 1945. The deficit in 2021 is projected to be 8.6 percent of GDP. Between 1946 and 2019, the deficit as a share of GDP has been larger than that only twice. In CBO’s projections, annual deficits relative to the size of the economy generally continue to decline through 2027 before increasing again in the last few years of the projection period, reaching 5.3 percent of GDP in 2030. They exceed their 50-year average of 3.0 percent in each year through 2030.

Debt. As a result of those deficits, federal debt held by the public is projected to rise sharply, to 98 percent of GDP in 2020, compared with 79 percent at the end of 2019 and 35 percent in 2007, before the start of the previous recession. It would exceed 100 percent in 2021 and increase to 107 percent in 2023, the highest in the nation’s history. The previous peak occurred in 1946 following the large deficits incurred during World War II. By 2030, debt would equal 109 percent of GDP.

Outlays. Federal outlays are projected to equal 32 percent of GDP in 2020, 11 percentage points (or about 50 percent) above what they were in 2019 and the highest percentage since 1945. Projected outlays fall relative to GDP over the following four years, as pandemic-related spending wanes and low interest rates reduce net interest outlays. In the second half of the projection period, outlays rise from about 22 percent of GDP to 23 percent in 2030. That change results from increased spending for major entitlement programs because of the aging of the population and rising health care costs, as well as from increasing net outlays for interest due to rising interest rates and debt.

Revenues. Federal revenues are projected to fall from 16.3 percent of GDP in 2019 to 15.5 percent in 2021, primarily because of the economic disruption caused by the pandemic and the federal government’s response. Revenues rise after 2021, reaching almost 18 percent in 2030, as a result of the expiration of temporary provisions enacted in response to the pandemic, scheduled increases in taxes, and other factors.

Changes Since CBO’s Previous Projections. CBO’s estimate of the deficit for 2020 is now $2.2 trillion more than the agency estimated in March 2020—mostly because of recently enacted legislation. CBO now projects a cumulative deficit over the 2021–2030 period of $13.0 trillion—$0.1 trillion less than the agency projected in March. That 10-year decrease is the net result of changes that go in opposite directions. Lower projected wages, salaries, and corporate profits, as well as recent legislation and other changes, increase deficits, but lower projected interest rates and inflation reduce them (see the appendix). - CBO

Chart below from CBO

Well, no one saying much about it, but debts have just got to be an issue when Congress and the Senate meet and are briefed behind closed doors. As much as I would like to have another stimulus check and I know millions of Americans would too, and many of them need one, it may not be the best for the country. It's wallowing in debt and as strong as the SS America is, another couple of shipping crates full of debt on her fiscal deck may have her listing to one side or even send her to the bottom.

Debt is a major issue. But another one? Jobs. As we all have heard, many job are not going to be coming back. Perhaps not for many years. That is going to make life hard if not impossible for a whole lot of people. Crime is rising in our cities and not totally because of the protests. I keep reading stories of 'mass exodus' from major cities and the price of rural real estate rising as people flee the cities. With the rise of Telecommuting, living in major cities may slowly become a thing of the past for some. 

But jobs... man that is I think going to be an issue for a lot of folks. Jobs and then paying the rent...

Interest rates, speculative bubbles, Federal deficits. I could go on and on about them, but to a guy who is 30 days from eviction, it does him no good. He may start to understand why he is going to be homeless, but it does not prevent him from being homeless. This is one reason I cannot vote for the two party system. It is this system, in my view and the fiscal irresponsibility of years and years of politics as usual that are dragging the US into the fiscal abyss.

...I do believe skilled analysts will look back and point to the destabilizing impact of prolonged ultra-loose monetary policies stoking speculative finance, distorted asset price Bubbles, and general Monetary Disorder. The fixation on consumer price indices slightly below target in the face of such historic Bubbles will be a challenge to justify. - Credit Bubble Bulletin (29 Aug, 2020)

I could not agree more. This can only end badly... for everyone. Like the bottle that no one can snatch from a drunkard, so it has been with politicians and establishment economists with the easy money debt-machine. Both get downright belligerent if you try and take that 'bottle' away.

Americans, when it boils down to it are no better. They put those guys in there time and again and you know what? Despite all the screaming about debts and deficits many have done for years, the politicians never talked about it at election time. So the titanic just kept on sailing right into the iceberg, captain piloting the ship with bottle firmly in hand. The only difference I saw between the two parties was the label on the bottle.

No, I suspect that many commentators may be right, we may coming to the end game on this whole dance of debt. Sure, we can chug along a few more years, but I suspect the damage done because of these lockdowns will be permanent. I hope I am wrong and I admit I might be, the US economic machine has in the past been very resilient. Still... tell me where all those people who lost jobs and will yet lose their jobs will find new ones with all the businesses now closing up. Who is going to open up new ones in this lockdown environment that some places seem determined to continue? How much of the lock-down mentality is 'political', hoping to get new leadership in the Country by smashing up the economy in order to blame the current leaders for the economic disaster for which they are largely, not responsible?  I don't know, but the politics of 'lockdown' seem to be a dark reality today and all sides seem to be playing it.

New leadership in DC isn't going to get the waiter, cook, bartender or mechanic his job back. Yelp just did a report this month on the economy and shows just how permanent many of these job loses are.

No, the economy was doing quite well. That is until Lockdown Mania hit the country.

The lockdown hangover may wind up being a new wave of homeless camps arising on the ashes of those poorly advised and quite possibly, politically motivated policy decisions.

We will have to see. 

Note: This piece is personal commentary and should not be taken as any kind of financial advice.

15 Sept

Job Part XIII

Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite,
 and said, If one assay to commune with thee,
wilt thou be grieved? But who can withhold himself
from speaking? Behold, thou hast instructed many,
And thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
Thy words have upholden him that was falling,
And thou hast made firm the feeble knees.
But now it is come unto thee, and thou faintest;
It toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.
(Job 4:1-5 ASV)

The second of the major speeches begins after Job's pitiful lamentation in chapter three. Eliphaz as the Temanite speaks and gently rebukes Job for his self pity.

Well, Job's state was pitiful and Eliphaz begins, not by expressing his condolences or his sympathy, but by starting to rub salt into his wounds!! He remarks that Job, whom many looked to in the past for comfort in their affliction now has to bear up under it and instead of being strong, he faints. This is the view of a man who obviously knew Job and understood how important a pillar he was in his community. But Eliphaz only see's things from a very limited and human perspective as he passes judgment on Job without all the facts. He basically calls him weak when Eliphaz himself has not experienced what Job has gone through. He had not as the saying goes, 'walked a mile in Job's shoes'. So therefore his words lack sympathy and the love of the friend he professed to be.
Is not thy fear of God thy confidence,
And the integrity of thy ways thy hope?
Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished,
being innocent? Or where were the upright cut off?
According as I have seen, they that plow iniquity,
And sow trouble, reap the same. By the breath of God they perish,
And by the blast of his anger are they consumed.
The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion,
And the teeth of the young lions, are broken.
The old lion perisheth for lack of prey,
And the whelps of the lioness
are scattered abroad.
(Job 4:6-11 ASV)
How verse six is rendered has been a matter of considerable debate. The KJV doesn't make the meaning clear. There are many ways to translate it. Let me give you a few. These comments/renditions are quoted from both Barnes and Clarke's commentaries
Dr. Good renders it,
Is thy piety then nothing? thy hope
Thy confidence? or the uprightness of thy ways?

Noyes renders it,
Is not thy fear of God thy hope,
And the uprightness of thy ways the confidence?

Rosenmuller translates it,
Is not in thy piety and integrity of life
Thy confidence and hope?

In the Vulgate it is translated,
“Where is thy fear, thy fortitude, thy patience, and the integrity of thy ways?”

In the Septuagint,
“Is not thy fear founded on folly, and thy hope, and the evil of thy way?

I think Coverdale hits the true meaning (Clarke): Where is now thy feare of God, thy stedfastnesse, thy pacience, and the perfectnesse of thy life?

I tend to like Clarke's the best but Noyes is also good. The next verse (7) asks the question of Job as if in a subtle accusation of some secret sin, who ever perished being innocent? A good question and one that their earthbound minds could not give a godly answer to, only a kind of philosophical one; that good men get good things in life and evil men evil things. But as we who know our Lord and our Bibles understand, this is not always so clear cut in this wicked world.

Eliphaz ascribes his limited human understanding to God's actions and opines that God always blasts the wicked. At the consummation of this age, yes. But in Job's situation his words hardly apply. Eliphaz was clearly quoting a common belief of his time that the wicked are always punished for all to see.

The lion metaphor (vs. 10-11) clearly is meant to be a symbol of powerful and wicked men or rulers. Using lions as metaphor for wicked rulers and men of power was common in scripture (see Psa 7:2; Psa 10:9; Psa 17:12, etc.; Eze 19:3, Eze 19:5; Nah 2:12; Zep 3:3, etc.). Eliphaz is saying that when they do wickedness, God breaks their power and their whelps (Princes) are scattered when they have no king or kingdom to rule over, at least this is how I read the passage. Yet The Pulpit commentary has this interesting aside on this passage and what Eliphaz may be hinting at in his speech.
That commentary says that Eliphaz may be darkly hinting that Job may have some secret sin and could make him be numbered among these kingly 'lions'.

Now a thing was secretly brought to me,
And mine ear received a whisper thereof.
In thoughts from the visions of the night,
When deep sleep falleth on men,
Fear came upon me, and trembling,
Which made all my bones to shake.
Then a spirit passed before my face;
The hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still,
but I could not discern the appearance thereof;
A form was before mine eyes: There was silence,
and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man
be more just than God? Shall a man
be more pure than his Maker?
Behold, he putteth no trust in his servants;
And his angels he chargeth with folly:
How much more them that dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust,
Who are crushed before the moth!
Betwixt morning and evening they are destroyed:
They perish for ever without any regarding it.
Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them?
They die, and that without wisdom.
(Job 4:12-21 ASV)

Eliphaz who was probably considered quite wise in his time, relates a spiritual experience; a vision of sorts to Job that he had one night. It scared him. Clearly he saw something that he could not quite discern stand before him. Then he heard a voice asking if a man can be more just than God? His rebuke in recalling this vision, appears to be a subtle one to Job.

Since Job has not acknowledged the 'sin' he was being punished for, his lack of confession, implies that he thinks God is at fault and he is more just than God - this appears to be the view Eliphaz is alluding to. That Eliphaz had such a vision shows that he was known of by God. It does not necessarily mean that God approved of the person but that God had enough concern for them or someone they were dealing with to send a message to them. Consider Laban (Gen 31:24), Abimelech (Gen 20:3) and Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel Chapter 2) as well as many others - each were not known as saints per-se, yet God spoke to them. Eliphaz may have been relating an event in his own life where he was rebuked by God in such a fashion, but the text does not make this clear, only that some kind of vision with the referenced message was given to him.

Eliphaz then goes on to compare a self-righteous man with God's servants and his angels, whom God puts no trust in and even charges with folly. So we mere mortals who dwell in houses of clay (our human bodies) how can we stand in judgment of God and level accusations at him? How can a 'clump of mud' like mankind be more pure, more just than God? This is Eliphaz's round about accusation at Job who has not confessed to any wrong which 'obviously' he has committed or he would not have lost all and be forced to sit on an ash heap scraping his sores with a potsherd. This appears to be the implication Eliphaz is making in his speech.

We will continue out look at Job next well God willing!

10 Sept

Note: This was written back in April 2015. As we move towards election day and we are seeing all manner of stories, censorship, fake news, lies, political speeches and various kinds of digital 'flatulence' enter into the debate, I was poking around some of my old writings and figured this old article many be of help to some readers here who may need to get to that special place and 'get real' about what they are hearing, reading and seeing and what this and most US elections are all about.

I Can't Help You

There comes a time when you just have to throw up your hands and say, "I can't help you." What I mean is this. I get a lot of questions, not so much here on the site but from others. The truth is, trying to answer some of the questions people have is very complicated and one just has to do something that most people are not willing to do in order to do get some real understanding.

You see, I am a man with no illusions. I mean that NO ILLUSIONS. I cannot cater to those who hold them. I never went into politics because I lack the capacity for self deception that is needed to lead other based on political ideology. I also lack the capacity to deceive others along the same lines. To understand our world today, it takes an inner intellectual (not spiritual) hardness - a cold, razor sharp eye that is not big on fluff, spectacle, mendacity, front, show and misdirection. If you are the kind of person who has that razor sharp no-nonsense attitude or wants to be like that, this site will be of tremendous help to you.  This is why I don't subscribe or belong to any political party. This is why I don't like modern denominationalism, I am not big on transitory social movements, trends and fads either. Like I said, I reject illusion and a serious person who wants to cut away the baloney in today's world must take this brutally intellectually honest stance. It takes a kind of mental discipline to get to that place. Many folks are not emotionally equipped to get there.

Having illusions only leads to delusions and delusions to deceit. I lack the capacity for self-deceit. Some call this suspicion or negativity or a glass half-empty mentality. I don't. I guess the way I see it is like this - give me the negative stuff up front. Don't tell me that what used to be a glass of water that is now shards of glass floating in a puddle of water is a 'glass half full'. Tell that to the delusional, but not me. Let me digest the hard truths and let me deal with it that way, I am sometimes pleasantly surprised when things are not as bad as they seem but I will never be bitterly disappointed.

In politics it is always best to have no illusions. Not about a candidate, party, platform, issue groups - nothing.  Do you want to cut through the issues and figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth? If you really want to, one of the best ways is to follow the money. But I have found that if a person follows the spirituality of a person or a group, this too is an even better indicator of where a person or group will lead you. If you follow the money you can quickly discover where a party or person will go. You can tell if they are lying to you. Do you see a guy who is campaigning on cutting defense spending taking tens of millions from defense conglomerates? He is probably lying to you. Now he will find a politically palatable way to make you think he tried to keep his word, but the truth is, if he's taking their money, he is far more likely to raise, not lower those budgets. Both parties know how to play the political game and know how to protect each other to keep key donors happy – brothers, they do it all the time.

More and more what you see in the news with the two party system is akin to shadow boxing. Much of it is fake and scripted. But at times following the money - this is not an easy task with the very sophisticated (and semi and quasi legal ways they do it) ways money is laundered these days.

But nothing of any substance happens in politics without a check being written in America. Why did Obama support gay marriage? Someone wrote him a check. Why are Black men still being shot down in cold blood? Because no one is writing any checks to stop it. This is the cold hard reality that most of my countrymen still don't understand. Why has the war on terror been fought? Because someone (big defense contractors and security firms) saw billions in contracts and wanted to see those contracts grow. Why has surveillance grown to what it is today? Because those big contractors are making billions from it, they know who to pay to keep the system in tact. I am not saying that the motives are always evil, only that the money is often one of the most important determining factors.

Do you want to know where defense budgets will go? See who is donating to whom and how much. Find out what systems need funding and a congressional go-ahead.

Our Intelligence agencies, our Media organizations, our big advertising and 'spin' making firms are all in the business of forming YOUR opinion. They make and are paid enormous amounts of money to massage, create and change your opinion on matters that could make or cost those with power and money; a great deal of it. Those men would not be paying top dollar for those services if they did not work. They pay them because they do. You will never know which 'scientific study' is fake or done in a way to come to a pre-arranged conclusion that will make someone money.  A lot of scientific organizations, who are dependent on elite money push various theories (often just plain false) because if they don't, their funding gets cut. Dear readers, this is the way the game is played. This is why I have said to you in the past that if you read something in your mainstream news papers and sites, it is because for the most part, someone with deep pockets paid for you to read it. They want to change your opinion, support a false narrative, keep you buying this or stop buying that, support this policy and against that one.

This is why I tell so many folks who ask me questions that 'I can't help you'. It isn't that I don't want to, it is that I simply cannot do it until you jettison your illusions and delusions. Fall out of love with our political leaders. Stop looking at them with starry eyes and look at them with a critical one. Ask the tough questions and don't just accept talk and promises as a response to a problem. You want a solution? Demand one rather than a heart rousing speech, written by someone who you don't even know who is skilled in the art of psycho/political-lingusitics, dutifully read by the politician you are so in love with who will forget it five minutes after he spoke.

No brothers, the times of deception are already here. Most people don't believe they can be deceived and they are like a slave who does not see the shackles on his feet and the rope around his waist about to carry him off to God knows where. One of the very first things you must do to avoid delusion and deception is to have no illusions. Reject them all. ALL. Once you do that, you will be in a far better position to see, discern and understand the world we live in and not fall into the traps laid by the devil and his imps. You will never understand our world or escape the coming deception until you reject illusions (lies falsehoods, fanciful thinking, misplaced optimism, etc) and stand up like a man and take the truth like a full grown man (or woman). Leave illusions for children, they can afford them up until they get up to about 10. You can't, not as a Christian living in these times.

May God grant all of you grace and peace and discernment in these difficult and deceptive times and remember the last days deception encompasses the whole world. Just about everyone gets snared in it, it is so thorough and enticing. Those that don't get fooled get killed.

And I saw another beast
coming up out of the earth;
and he had two horns like unto a lamb,
and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth
all the authority of the first beast in his sight.
And he maketh the earth and them that
dwell therein to worship the first beast,
whose death-stroke was healed. And he doeth
 great signs, that he should even make fire
to come down out of heaven upon the earth
 in the sight of men. And he deceiveth them
that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs
which it was given him to do in the sight of the beast;
saying to them that dwell on the earth,
that they should make an image to the beast
who hath the stroke of the sword and lived.
And it was given unto him to give breath to it,
even to the image of the breast,
that the image of the beast should both speak,
 and cause that as many as should not worship
the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, the small and the great,
 and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond,
that there be given them a mark on their right hand,
 or upon their forehead; and that no man
should be able to buy or to sell, save he that
hath the mark, even the name of the beast
or the number of his name. Here is wisdom.
He that hath understanding, let him count
the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man:
 and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six.
(Rev 13:11-18 ASV)

And the great dragon was cast down,
 the old serpent, he that is called
the Devil and Satan, the deceiver
of the whole world; he was cast
down to the earth, and his angels
were cast down with him.
(Rev 12:9 ASV)

And the beast was taken,
and with him the false prophet
that wrought the signs in his sight,
wherewith he deceived them that
had received the mark of the beast
and them that worshipped his image:
they two were cast alive into the lake
of fire that burneth with brimstone:
(Rev 19:20 ASV)

But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse,
deceiving and being deceived.
(2Ti 3:13 ASV)

Or know ye not that the unrighteous
shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Be not deceived: neither fornicators,
nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate,
nor abusers of themselves with men,
nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards,
nor revilers, nor extortioners,
shall inherit the kingdom of God.
(1Co 6:9-10 ASV)

Brothers and sisters, if you are not wise enough to get past these 2nd grade deceptions that are played out in our political system today, you will never survive the 'university level' deceptions that will be heading our way. You will wind up as spiritual road kill and have no one but yourself to blame...

.... and pay for it.

And another angel, a third,
followed them, saying with a great voice,
If any man worshippeth the beast and his image,
and receiveth a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand,
he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God,
which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger;
and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone
in the presence of the holy angels, and in the
presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their
torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they
have no rest day and night, they that worship
the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth
the mark of his name. Here is the patience
of the saints, they that keep
the commandments of God,
and the faith of Jesus.
(Rev 14:9-12 ASV)

The spirit expressly warns us of considerable deception in our times, yet Christians are being tossed to and fro with all manner of bizarre doctrines, fake religious leaders and politicians whose main talent is the art of deceit.

Time to grow up and be ready to accept the whole truth like a man.

Why are so many Christians still flunking 2nd grade discernment lessons?

The lack of sound doctrine, the lack of intellectual and spiritual honesty and minds that are too hooked into the world and the way it does things rather than the Kingdom and the way God wants them done.

8 Sept

Job Part XII

With kings and counsellors of the earth,
Who built up waste places for themselves;
Or with princes that had gold, Who filled their houses
with silver Or as a hidden untimely birth I had not been,
As infants that never saw light. There the wicked
cease from troubling; And there the weary are at rest.
There the prisoners are at ease together;
They hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
The small and the great are there: And the servant
is free from his master. Wherefore is light
given to him that is in misery, And life unto
the bitter in soul; Who long for death, but it cometh not,
And dig for it more than for hid treasures;
Who rejoice exceedingly, And are glad,
when they can find the grave?
Why is light given to a man whose way is hid,
And whom God hath hedged in?
For my sighing cometh before I eat,
And my groanings are poured out like water.
For the thing which I fear cometh upon me,
And that which I am afraid of cometh unto me.
I am not at ease, neither am I quiet,
neither have I rest; But trouble cometh.
(Job 3:14-26 ASV)

Here we continue as Job continues to curse the day he was born. His troubles were great - hardly anyone's were greater and God had allowed it all upon his servant. Job who had been faithful to God was now confounded and confused. Moreover as we can read in this sad poem, Job was extremely depressed. His mental and emotional state were certainly with good cause, seriously downcast. 

In the above we see Job is wrestling with his fate. He mentions kings who build their massive tombs for their journey to the after life and filled them with treasure. We saw this in the ancient world, particularly Egypt where the Pharaoh's built pyramid's and tombs to take their wealth with them when they died. Job is comparing all of these people who died and passed over to place where he envisioned there was no longer any sufferings. The stillborn (as we talked about in the last section) and now these kings - they all are now finished with the sufferings of this life in this very early theological view.

Job then recounts how death eventually conquers all of us mortals and that the great and the small, the servant and his master - they are all joined in death
(vs 18-19).

This is a depressing view, but one that can only come from one who has suffered - truly suffered. They understand - they see things in a different light. They know as the Preacher (Qoheleth - Ecclesiastes) said, that if we look at things in a temporal way - nothing matters - all is vanity. Hence Job's desire that his sufferings would end in his quick arrival to the grave. This was Job's hope in his depressed and suffering state - death.

To long for death? This is how Job describes the mindset of those whose sufferings are great enough that they should seek death and even rejoice when death comes knocking (vs 22). This is a pitiful mindset but one that can only be understood by those who have suffered.... really suffered.

But we deal with some of these issues today when we talk about physician assisted suicide for those who are in constant pain with no hope of recovery. Let us be real - some of us suffer to such a degree where death indeed is looked upon with great favor. For those who have no hope in Christ and see nothing other than this world, such a view can be better understood and we must remember - the whole idea of a resurrection and an afterlife where the soul survives the body, is not one that is clearly taught in the Old Testament nor in pre-Old Testament times, which is when Job may very well have been written .

So as we read Job's words and his rather dark outlook on life and death, keep that in mind. Even in Christ's time the issue of the Resurrection of the dead was not fully settled among the Jewish priesthood, there was still considerable debate. In fact, the Apostle Paul understanding the intricacies of this contentious issue, used the controversy to his advantage during a hearing.

But when Paul perceived that the one part were
 Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried
out in the council, Brethren, I am a Pharisee,
a son of Pharisees: touching the hope and
resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
And when he had so said, there arose a dissension
 between the Pharisees and Sadducees;
 and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees
say that there is no resurrection, neither angel,
nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.
And there arose a great clamor: and some of the
scribes of the Pharisees part stood up, and strove,
saying, We find no evil in this man: and what
if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel?
(Act 23:6-9 ASV)

This was still a controversial subject even after the statement in the book of Daniel confirming the resurrection. So as we read Job's words and the utter despair that is in them, keep that in mind.

Other saints as well who were highly regarded by God got 'down in the dumps' so to speak on an emotional level. One was Elijah, who was deeply depressed and this after a major spiritual victory over the prophets of Baal. I am sure you all know what happened. Elijah defeated these false prophets in a public display and greatly embarrassed them and their key patron, Jezebel. Elijah was quite theatrical about the whole affair and mocked the false prophets of Baal. But in so doing and in winning the contest (found in 1Kings Chapter 18), Elijah won some powerful enemies. This is always the case when the Lord is with someone. The devil's imps will move against them - guaranteed. They don't know they are being used of the devil - not most of the time -  but that is the nature of the devils work - to deceive and he is most adept at it.

So Elijah had to deal with Jezebel who was highly agitated when she found out what Elijah had done and threatened to kill him. Elijah did what any sensible person would have done... who had forgotten that the Lord was on his side... he ran!!

Yet the Lord was still with him and protected him, fed him and guided him in his flight. Let's take a look at the passage because in it we see that prophets as well and those whom the Lord deeply loves and honors can get depressed too.

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done,
 and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah,
saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also,
if I make not thy life as the life of one of them
by to-morrow about this time. And when he saw that,
he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba,
which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness,
and came and sat down under a juniper-tree:
and he requested for himself that he might die,
and said, It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take away my life;
for I am not better than my fathers.
And he lay down and slept under a juniper-tree;
and, behold, an angel touched him, and said unto him,
 Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold,
there was at his head a cake baken on the coals,
and a cruse of water. And he did eat and drink,
and laid him down again. And the angel of
 Jehovah came again the second time,
and touched him, and said, Arise and eat,
because the journey is too great for thee.
And he arose, and did eat and drink,
and went in the strength of that food forty days
and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
(1Ki 19:1-8 ASV)

Two things are of note in the highlighted portion above, one is Elijah's deep depression (even after a mighty victory!) and his humility. Elijah was not putting himself on some pedestal. Thinking he could change the world, he realized he could not.

My point here is that many a saint, godly man, prophet, pastor, priest and preacher and lay saint has had to go through a kind of 'valley of death' on an emotional and psychological level. God has to strip us bear and down to our mortal 'skin and bones' self before he can remake us into the kinds of useful vessels that are fit for labor in the Lord's kingdom.

Let's end this weeks section on Job with one observation. Many "name it and claim it" pastors use this Job 3:25 as an accusation against Job. They say (I have heard many use this passage) that if Job had not had 'fear' in his heart, God would not have allowed this to happen and that his fear was the main cause of his sufferings. But such an interpretation contradicts the whole thrust of the book, for God was testing Job not because he was full of fear but because of his righteousness and satan's accusations. Moreover, we cannot read too much into Job's words because they are framed as poetry and as such were meant to convey general idea's not convey sound doctrine. Granted, fear is of the enemy and is from a theological perspective, a key enemy of faith - and we must do our best to banish fear and embrace faith. On that level the faith pastors are correct. But to ascribe Job's sufferings to this fear is disingenuous.

We will continue our look at Job next week, God willing!

4 Sept

Job Part XI

After this opened Job his mouth,
and cursed his day. And Job answered and said:
Let the day perish wherein I was born,
And the night which said, There is a man-child conceived.
 Let that day be darkness; Let not God from above seek for it,
Neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness
and the shadow of death claim it for their own;
Let a cloud dwell upon it; Let all that maketh
black the day terrify it. As for that night, let thick darkness
seize upon it: Let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
Let it not come into the number of the months.
Lo, let that night be barren; Let no joyful voice come therein.
Let them curse it that curse the day, Who are ready
to rouse up leviathan. Let the stars of the twilight
thereof be dark: Let it look for light, but have none;
Neither let it behold the eyelids of the morning:
Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb,
Nor hid trouble from mine eyes.
(Job 3:1-10 ASV)

We continue our look at Job by commenting on his song of sorrow that he sung after all the disasters had befallen him. Job was utterly broken and cursed the day he was born. He honestly wished he had never been born. The poetry is remarkable because he asks that the day of his birth be a day of darkness (vs. 4,5,6,9) and that God not regard the day of his birth and that it not even be counted has having existed (vs. 6).

Reading some of the commentaries has been disappointing on this passage. One tries to make it out that Job had no right to say such things or sinned badly in so doing. I cannot help but wonder what these people would have said and done if their kids had all been killed, all their wealth gone and they were sitting in the city dump scraping their skin with a rusty old lid of a can of soup, all the while looking like some kind of deformed monster out of a horror movie. No, brothers, I am not going to be too hard on Job at all. He went through all flesh and blood could endure and maintained his integrity and faith in God and only had to endure it because he was seen as an upright man in the eyes of God.

But it stands to reason that Job was very depressed and as we see, wished he had never  been born. This may not be the right way to feel, but he was human - fully human and in light of what had happened to him, his feelings should be understood in that light.

Yet we must not read too much into this passage. This is the, if I may use this word - the 'ravings' of a man who has lost all and may have been in serious physical pain day and night. Can we sit in judgment of Job? I will not because his friends as we shall see, did just that and were rebuked by God for their criticism of his faithful servant. I will hardly criticize Job, lest the Lord put me to the test and see how I hold up under such horrible disasters as Job had to endure. I don't think any of you reading here can honestly say that you have have had to endure the kinds of things that Job did and the trails not being the cause of any sin, crime or shortcoming on your part. Job did not curse God as Satan was hoping, but instead cursed the day he was born.

Many of you may or not know this, but some religions don't celebrate birthdays. Why not? See Ecclesiastes (7:1). The passage in Ecclesiastes is a passage that needs to be taken in context. First that Solomon (who almost certainly wrote it) was endeavoring to find wisdom and in his search found many uncomfortable and yes, depressing truths he saw back in his days. But the passage in Chapter 7 is better understood in light of the first part of the verse and not just the last part of it.

Moreover that book needs to be quoted from with care because in it Solomon is describing his search for wisdom and using his initial, rather than final conclusions in that search and throughout that book, he keeps saying 'vanity of vanities all is vanity', basically saying that everything is futile. So we must be very careful about a few of the preliminary conclusions of Solomon in that book because of the nature of the work.

Why died I not from the womb?
Why did I not give up the ghost
when my mother bare me?
Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breast,
that I should suck? For now should I have lain down
and been quiet; I should have slept;
then had I been at rest,
(Job 3:11-13 ASV)

Here Job continues his dirge and it is a kind of dirge because the subject of death permeates the whole passage. He asks why he didn't die in the womb. "Why wasn't I a miscarriage?", he asks. He wanted to know why his mothers knee's did not block up his entry into this world so that now he would be dead and not have to deal with all this pain and sorrow he was now going through. But again, let's take a look at Ecclesiastes the same idea is expressed there as well.

Wherefore I praised the dead
that have been long dead more
than the living that are yet alive; yea,
better than them both did I esteem him
that hath not yet been,
who hath not seen the evil work
 that is done under the sun.
(Ecc 4:2-3 ASV)

The ideas expressed by Job were not unknown to the eastern mind and the wisest of the wise also said basically the same thing particularly when they saw the suffering, pain and injustice that transpires here on earth.

Well, we will look at the rest of Chapter three with God's good grace next week!

1 Sept

Hunger Watch

I think one issue that is not talked about much that should be these days.

In Yemen, things are grim. Already saddled with a war, famine and the diseases that usually go with a long running conflict, now there is also COVID-19. So the country has got some big issues. Some of the issues are getting worse because there is a lack of funding. As 'rich' nations focus in on collapsing economies aid money will become more scarce.

Here is the latest from the Famine Early Warning Network

Key Messages

Ongoing conflict continues to disrupt livelihoods, reduce access to income, and drive poor macroeconomic conditions in Yemen. The Yemeni Rial has been depreciating in recent months, contributing to further increases in already above-average prices of food and non-food commodities. Overall, an estimated 17 to 19 million people are expected to be in need of humanitarian food assistance in 2020. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are widespread.

While not the most likely scenario, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be possible in the event that food imports are significantly disrupted for a prolonged period of time. Food import levels observed to date in 2020 have been lower than average, a trend that is expected to persist through 2020 due to declining revenue streams. These trends have contributed to the progressively deteriorating food security situation in Yemen, raising the risk that a Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur should there be a more significant and prolonged disruption to imports.

Due to the restrictive operating environment and resource constraints, WFP has scaled down assistance such that beneficiaries in northern Houthi-controlled areas are being reached every other month instead of monthly, which has reduced assistance by effectively cutting benefits in half. Previously WFP was reaching around 12 million beneficiaries monthly. However, in  April, with the scaling back of assistance in Houthi-controlled areas, WFP reached a total 8.6 million beneficiaries. As a result of limited ability to compensate for ration cuts, an increasing number of households in Houthi-controlled areas are likely facing difficulty meeting their basic food needs. - FEWS

This is the world's worst humanitarian crisis and it shows no signs of abating. As a result, hunger and disease will continue to be a major problem for the people of Yemen. The biggest threat? It's not Covid-19 but the ongoing civil war that has been raging for years. You will find on the above link a chart for trends in Airstrikes on Yemen. Then there is the 'collapse' of the Yemeni currency, the Riyal (chart on link). This makes buying things much harder on people. FEWS thinks the worst case scenario comes when...
...significant declines in commercial imports or conflict that cuts off food supply for a prolonged period of time would likely lead to food security outcomes in line with Famine (IPC Phase 5). Given that this significant and prolonged disruption is not expected during the projection period, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is not the most likely scenario. - FEWS
Another area of concern? South Sudan.
The need for sustained, large-scale humanitarian food assistance remains high across the country. Food insecurity is most severe in conflict-affected areas of Jonglei, Lakes, and Warrap, as well as in parts of Upper Nile, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria, and Central Equatoria. FEWS NET anticipates that Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is likely in areas of highest concern during the lean season, especially in parts of Jonglei and Upper Nile where outcomes are already severe and household coping capacity has been eroded due to the 2019 floods and/or recent conflict. In these areas, there are pockets of at-risk households with few productive assets and limited to no access to a functioning market who can experience rapid deterioration in acute food insecurity in between food assistance distribution cycles. - FEWS
With nations like Sudan and Yemen, where health services are not readily available, any reporting on Covid-19 case frequency probably should not be relied upon to give an accurate picture of the scope of the pandemic's reach. While we don't know the full scale of the pandemics effect on folks we can say that it is present is having some effect on the population.

Then there is concern for a place one would not ordinarily consider as being vulnerable. That being China. Granted, there is no food shortage now, but the recent floods have caused many to be concerned about China's food supply. How bad were they? Pretty bad and we should not rely too much on China's government to give the world an accurate picture. They would not be inclined to spread news that serious price increases or even food shortages were coming to the Chinese people. And we need to keep in mind that China's information flow is strictly controlled using 21st century Communist authoritarian methods.

News reports however say that grain output and purchases have fallen. There are also some anecdotal reports of food hording. What may be an indication of concern by China's leadership, are not the highly scripted official reports (propaganda) coming out of government, but things like a national campaign against food waste. The Japan Times as an interesting story called "China’s crusade on food waste triggers rare anxiety over supplies", that you all may find of interest. The causes for this concern? Floods, Locusts, Worms, Covid-19 and Drought. But China may also be concerned over being vulnerable to the 'food weapon' and that it could be used against her with regards to trade.

Let's take a look and see what the US China Economic and Security Commission has to say about this issue as it effects trade.

Severe Flooding Threatens Recovery,
Compounds Agriculture Sector Challenges

As policymakers sought to revitalize the economy and forestall a second contraction from a collapse in global demand, successive waves of flooding along the Yangtze River and its tributaries led to at least 158 dead or missing, displaced millions more, and destroyed $20.5 billion in property. Flood damage combined with anticipated crop loss to pests and resurgence of African Swine Fever has impacted agriculture prices, driving up futures of staple grains and pork. Outside of the agriculture sector, severe flooding inhibited transportation in some provinces, delaying production and shipments, including of medical equipment bound for export to help combat COVID-19.

Risks from severe flooding are compounded by extensive damming along China’s waterways. The vast majority of some 98,000 dams and dikes on China’s rivers date from the Mao-era.  Many of these smaller dams are not structurally sound, creating unsecure reservoirs that could overflow or break through the dams, exacerbating downstream flooding.

Officials from China’s Ministry of Water Resources indicated continued heavy rains in August could result in further flooding. Floods have damaged 3.53 million hectares of farmland, submerging nearly 20 percent of China’s arable land.  After anticipating a bumper crop in early June, threats to staple grain harvests quickly drove up futures, particularly for maize, widely used in animal feed.  Coupled with a return of African Swine Fever which devastated China’s hog population and drove global pork prices up by 40 percent in the first half of 2019, rising agriculture commodity prices could threaten to spur consumer inflation even as the economy copes with deflationary pressure from decreased export demand. China’s Ministry of Agriculture is reportedly contemplating releasing stores of maize reserves to address rising prices and potential shortages, though China’s government regards this information as highly sensitive and is unlikely to publicize details. China has also accelerated purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, working to fulfill China’s purchase commitments under its Phase One trade deal with the United States.  However, projected purchases still remain below China’s commitments for 2020. - US-China Economic and Security Review Commission

I recoil at thinking what intelligence officials may have discovered and not released to the public. While none of this portends a famine, it does mean that food prices in China could be a problem. So let us keep an eye on this issue. I think both the US and China will be careful about doing anything to exacerbate the situation, so official statements on either side may not be all that regular or give us an accurate picture.

What about the US? Let's take a look at the latest Drought monitor. Yes, we see this chart regularly around the web. But there is something a little different now. Now Iowa is the nation's largest corn producer and its Secretary of Agriculture is concerned enough about the drought issue a statement on future crop quality and storage. The reason? Derecho. A strong harvest was expected this year... no more. Millions of acres across the state are reportedly affected. The full scale of the damage will probably not be known for some weeks yet. Any good search engine will yield up results with Iowa Mike Naig and Derecho as your search terms. No, famine in the US is not going to be the result of this, but this could effect prices and exports.

Then there are other issues related to food. Issues that are not often discussed with regards to it. Here is one  - grabbing farm land from the poor man.

The following is from the site on events in Uganda.
...violently evicting people from their homes and causing untold humiliation and grief to thousands of farming families residing in Kiryandongo district, Uganda. The land grabs are happening on abandoned national ranches, which have long since been settled and farmed by people who came to the area fleeing war and natural calamities in neighbouring areas. The local people are being displaced without notice, alternatives or even negotiations and are now desperately trying to save their homes and lives. -
What is interesting and telling is that with some of these companies, determining who (exactly) owns them is not always easy. The story explains this issue.

But in these times of locusts, drought, war induced famine and these land grabs, the issue of 'Big Food' is one that is not often covered as much as 'Big Oil' or 'Big Tech'.

The world has got a slew of troubles and many of them are not on the front pages. Floods in Niger and Pakistan and let's not forget about some of the issues that could arise as a result of Hurricane Laura. Covid-19 is also having an effect as pandemic control methods in some nations and it is causing difficulty in people getting food and working in order to get the money needed. Take Ethiopia as an example. Movement restrictions cause economic harm to many, particularly for migrant workers.

Then there places like Lebanon, where the UN is concerned that much of the population could face food shortages. They want to prevent what they see as a potential food crisis. Then there is Syria, where the pandemic's outbreak is reportedly very severe.

Time would fail me to talk about other places where food is an issue, like North Korea where reports are that people must turn their pets over to the government... for food. Yet, one must always be careful about stories like this as there may be an agenda behind it. But there are a few stories around the web about it.

Food may not be making the major headlines for us here in the States and food prices have thankfully remained stable thus far during this pandemic. But with the flooding, droughts and locusts the whole issue of food security is one we all need to keep our eyes on.

Perhaps some of you roll your eyes when people speak and write on the issue of hunger, famine and food prices so high that one can no longer pay for rent. If that is the case, it is probably because you take the food on your table for granted. So my brothers in Christ, if you are indeed a true brother or sister in Christ, bow your head in humble thanksgiving next time you sit at table and remember those who are going hungry in our troubled world today.

Brother Mark

27 Aug

Job Part X

Now when Job's three friends heard
of all this evil that was come upon him,
 they came every one from his own place:
Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite,
 and Zophar the Naamathite, and they made
an appointment together to come
 to bemoan him and to comfort him.
(Job 2:11 ASV)

We don't know how long it took for his friends to show up. A few days, weeks or longer. What we can safely ascertain was that they were true friends of Job. When men who are highly esteemed and are in the rich man's club meet with misfortune, they are usually immediately and completely shunned and shut out of that society. This did not happen here. They came to see Job - they met with him and made an 'appointment' as the translators render the word. They came not to rail against him or to rub salt into his wounds as is the habit of false friends, but to comfort him in his distress.

Eliphaz is an old Idumean name. He seems to have come from Edom and they were famed for their wisdom back in those days
(Oba 1:8; Jer 49:7). The name Eliphaz means God of Gold (H464).
Bildad was a Shuite and Shua was a descendant of Abraham by one of his concubines (See Gen 25:2-6) and Abraham sent these descendants away to the East. This was clearly one of his descendants. Bildad's name meaning is not clear but the BDB says it means 'confusing love'. The location of these people (Shuites) is not certain, but may have been located in Modern Syria along the Euphrates. Though I have never heard it mentioned, I wonder if it could be another name for Susa, located not far from where Job's Uz was considered to be by some. I am no anthropologist, ancient historian or linguist so I cannot say with any certainty.

Zophar was a Naamathite. We know little about him. There was a Naamah who was a descendant of Lamech and was the sister of Tubalcain (Gen 4:22). Keep in mind that this genealogy occurred before the flood. Later, Joshua conquered a place called Naamah (see Josh 15:41), which was probably in Jordan. Little is known for certain about him though there is considerable conjecture by commentators.

I know many of you don't like these little geographical and historical anecdotes, but these place names and people have names and they too are part of scripture, so I will try and times to delve a bit into them because sometimes, they can lead to interesting truths that are buried and are not discernible if we don't take the time to study. So, for those of you who may not like these digressions, I apologize but bear with me. The scriptures may not tell us much about who these men were, but since their speeches and questions to Job make up the better part of the book, I thought it important to get just a bit of background on them. But one thing that is probably true about each, they were all probably men of substance and standing in their particular countries. Perhaps being eastern, Kings, princes or tribal leaders. For example, the Septuagint renders Zophar as being King of the Minaians (Barnes).
And when they lifted up their eyes afar off,
and knew him not, they lifted up their voice,
and wept; and they rent every one his robe,
 and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
So they sat down with him upon the ground
seven days and seven nights,
 and none spake a word unto him:
for they saw that his grief
 was very great.
(Job 2:12-13 ASV)

So we see here that all of these men apparently arrived together and the appointment we read about earlier perhaps was one where the three of them would meet to travel to see Job. They came to where he was and did not recognize him. So disfigured was he, that they did not know who their friend was! But leprosy can do that. It stands to reason that a considerable time frame passed. Several weeks for the message of Job's trouble to get to them, time to make arrangements and time to travel to see Job. There were no airlines or trains back in those days. Moreover we cannot be certain how far they had to travel, being uncertain of many of the exact locations.
Once they got there, they could only weep for their friend and his misfortunes. They did the ancient eastern tradition of tearing their garments to show extreme distress and in keeping with those customs, poured dirt on their heads (Josh 7:6; Lam 2:10; Acts 22:23).
They sat with him for seven days and seven nights and were silent. This shows just how deeply they were moved and amazed by the fall of Job's fortunes and health. This seven days of morning is not some poetic device, but is meant to mark a real time period and was not uncommon in the East (Gen 50:10; 1Sam 31:13). The sorrows that Job had experienced were too deep for mere words to express.
Next week God willing, we will get to the major speeches and begin with Job's Song of Sorrow in Chapter three.

25 Aug

Persecution Watch

Christians in Beirut are reportedly under siege as some are trying to take their land after the horrific blast recently. Aid to the Church in need has a story called "Beirut: Christians defy land-grabbers" that you all may find of interest. It is hardly surprising that in times like these people will try and take advantage of those who have lost all.

In Nigeria, more Christians have been killed by Fulani Herdsman.
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News)  - “ Amid a groundswell of domestic and international condemnation of unchecked violence by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, 37 more Christians were killed in Kaduna state so far this month, sources said.

Following the slaughter of 33 Christians in Zangon Kataf County in early August, Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kachia County on Monday (Aug. 17) killed four Christians and kidnapped their driver... Morning Star News
In Iran a Pastor and his wife fled the country after losing an appeal to a 10 year prison sentence.

The ICC is also reporting that China is using the pandemic as an excuse to crack down on Underground Catholics.
08/20/2020 China (International Christian Concern)  - “ Although COVID-19 has no longer grabbed the headlines in China, the Chinese government is using the pandemic to target underground Catholics to coerce them into joining the state-sanctioned churches. Those who fail to comply risk closure.

While most public places have open and restrictions have been lifted, the authorities continue to place churches on hold on re-opening. As the Feast of the Assumption is considered one of the major Catholic celebrations along with Christmas and Easter, hundreds were expecting to gather in their parish churches for celebrations and greetings.

However, according to UCA News, hundreds of underground Catholics in mainland China were stopped from celebrating the Feast of the Assumption on Aug. 15 in the latest example of communists suppressing Christians under cover of COVID-19. - ICC
The Tablet is reporting a general trend in the persecution of Christians in a story called "Prayers and Solidarity for Persecuted Christians".

Around the world persecution takes open as well as more subtle forms, like in Malaysia.
Among the Bibles confiscated were the Malay-language ones that the Bible Society of Malaysia had imported from Indonesia. Approximately 10,000 others also were confiscated from Gideons International, which places free copies in hotel rooms and elsewhere.

While ethnic Chinese Malaysian Christians can obtain Bibles in Mandarin without difficulties, historically the government has placed more red tape around the Malay Bibles.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi clarified in April 2005 that there was no ban on Bibles translated into Malay. However, they are required to be stamped with a disclaimer: “Not for Muslims.” The word translated in English as “God” is translated as “Allah” in some Malay Bibles, which is illegal as non-Muslims are prohibited from using the term “Allah.”
In India, the drumbeat of Persecution continues.

But Russia as well is cracking down on Christians. This from Forum 18
In the calendar year 2019, there were at least 100 prosecutions across Russia under Administrative Code Article 5.26, Part 4 ("Russians conducting missionary activity") and Part 5 ("Foreigners conducting missionary activity"), according to Forum 18's analysis of available court records.

Overall, this is roughly similar to 2018, when there were 105 such known cases, but 2019 and the first half of 2020 have seen a shift towards more prosecutions for Muslim religious activities, and the first known prosecutions of Catholic and Methodist individuals and organisations.

Of the 100 cases known to have reached court in 2019, 15 involved organisations and 85 individuals. Seventy-six resulted in conviction and nine in acquittal, while judges closed or sent back 15 cases. 2019 therefore saw a conviction rate (for those cases which reached a verdict) of 89.4 per cent. All those convicted received fines (except for one Muslim community which was given a warning), though a few of these were later overturned on appeal.

Of the 15 foreigners charged under Article 5.26, Part 5 ("Foreigners conducting missionary activity"), eight were ordered deported (three by means of enforced expulsion, meaning that they were sent to Interior Ministry detention centres for foreign nationals before departure). - Forum18
In Kazakhstan, two Churches were confiscated by city authorities. The reason? The land is to be seized to make a new kindergarten. You can read about that story here.

Time would fail me to talk about all of the incidents going on in the world today. The Church in many parts of the world is under serious attack. For those of you interested, the Gatestone Institute has their monthly update on persecution around the world that can be found  in a piece called "We Have No Mercy on You People": Persecution of Christians, July 2020.

Let us never forget to pray for our persecuted brethren in Christ!!

20 Aug


Can anything good come from this pandemic? I think this is a legitimate question, particularly in light of all of the trouble it has caused on so many different fronts, not least of which the economic. But can we see anything good out of this? I think one thing in particular that should not be underestimated.
First of all, I think this county's and the world's preparation for biological warfare and an artificially released pandemic was very poor. The world just was not ready for it. It took many months even before masks were widely available when this pandemic started. The whole medical system just was not ready for the influx of patients with significant medical needs. While reports were done on the issue of biowarfare for national level leaders, little action was taken to prepare the nation for this. This is a real threat and one I have long seen as being one that was most important to deal with. One of my old duties back for a short time in the military was to deal with this kind of warfare (Chem-Bio-Nuke). But not from an intelligence view, but from a preparation point of view.

That was long ago and much of what I learned I have forgotten, but not the importance of this issue. What kind of troubled me a few years ago when I was poking around trying to see what kind of guidance was available from the National Level was the dearth of officially available literature on this for ordinary people, for cities, counties and other groups who would need such information - reliable information if they needed it in very short order. I have done some searches on this before and came up with goose eggs - zero - zip - nada. It may be out there, but it wasn't at all easy to find.

What if in 2024 a new virus comes out. But this one is killing 30% of those infected and spreads so fast in the body that once a person gets it he either kicks it in the first 10 hours or he's going to be filler material for a coffin. People are dropping like flies all over the country. No one goes out of their homes, not even the postman. You can't get food, you can't go to work, the guys at the local power station refuse to go to work and 30% of them are dead or soon will be. Sewer treatment fails, agriculture slowly dries up. You get the picture.
So if there is any good that comes of this pandemic is that now nations can have some kind of reference point and new checklists of things to do and not do during a pandemic can be developed based on actual experience. The bad part of this is that some governments seem to be learning the wrong lessons. They are trying to force all of these measures on people that in my view are really not needed. This virus is not that deadly to the vast majority who get it. Yes, it can really hit you like a ton of bricks, but the vast majority do recover, though full recovery is something that is being studied and may take many months for some. Long term damage to some internal organs has been noted.

So this virus is nothing to snicker at. It's really bad news. But in this respect it's good news. It has forced the world to consider more carefully measures needed to protect its citizens from something that could one day be designed and deployed by hostile powers for which those who developed either have a natural immunity (genetically targeted) or have been able to inoculate or otherwise protect their own people from. This is the world we are entering into.
So compelling led-bottomed leaders to get busy and come up with an effective bio-defense plan I think is probably the most positive thing to come out of this. Better they plan with a disease that has such a low mortality rate than plan with the streets literally piling up with corpses. Look at all the political movers and shakers and famous people who caught it and those who have died. There are many pieces on the web about them. The NY Post has story on all the celebrities who have passed on. I think some of you may find similar stories of interest. An African Jazz legend I liked Manu Dibango died. Another actress whom I liked when she was a co-star on a great old time British TV series called 'Hadleigh' (Hillary Dwyer - last name also Heath) who later in life became an addiction counselor also died from complications from the virus. I am sure many more are gone that are not on the list. I say this not in praise of stars, but to say that it often takes those kinds of deaths to raise awareness and the world needs a workable bio-warfare plan that does not mean continual marital law, censorship and some of the extreme 'people control' measures that we have seen. That political leaders should not politicize any pandemic as I think many have done here in this country - on both sides of the political aisle most recklessly; politicization (and financialization) that I believe has actually cost lives.

Certainly some of these methods of control and limiting contact and movement may be necessary for a very short time but they should be exactly commensurate with the real threat involved not a convenient excuse to control people, censor speech, see how far they can push people or make money jabbing people in the arm with a vaccine that probably will only be effective for a few months, if at all. In short, pandemics should not be used by the powerful as an excuse to institute well known methods of authoritarianism.

So this is one positive thing I see. I think in this age of Biowarfare, an age that has been with us for some time, it could soon be taken to a new level. Before such warfare was not generally used to target people. That appears to be changing. We will have to see how the world's leaders deal with the new scientific knowledge their nations now posses before we can get a glimpse of what the future holds.

Yet our Bibles tell us that plagues and pestilences will be part of the scene in the last days. So this may be an indication as to where the world is heading on this front.

Then said he unto them,
Nation shall rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom;
and there shall be great earthquakes,
and in divers places famines and pestilences;
and there shall be terrors and great signs from heaven.
But before all these things, they shall lay their hands on you,
and shall persecute you, delivering you up to the
synagogues and prisons, bringing you
before kings and governors for my name's sake.
(Luk 21:10-12 ASV)

The word Pestilences is the Greek word loimos (G3061) and it means plague. Yes, we are moving into those times. We are not at the end yet, let no one shake you in body or mind, but we are rapidly moving in that direction (Luke 21:9). Also, I don't think it a coincidence that war and pestilences are mentioned so close together in the passage.

Think Biowarfare.

Brother Mark
18 Aug

Job Part IX

Then said his wife unto him,
Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity?
renounce God, and die. But he said unto her,
Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.
What? shall we receive good at the hand of God,
and shall we not receive evil?
In all this did not Job sin
with his lips.
(Job 2:9-10 ASV)

We left off last time and saw Job had fallen pretty far. He was, as many commentators describe a leper as well has having lost all his property and children. They apparently all fell in Satan's power when he was allowed by the Lord to wreck havoc in Job's life. The only person left was his wife and we can now see why Satan kept her around and did not remove her as well.

The devil knows us all well and he knows to a pretty strong degree who he can depend on to do his work. And Job's wife's satanic exhortation to Job was just that, it was exactly what Satan wanted and had accused Job of before the Lord's throne, that if God touched his flesh he would curse God (Job 2:5). It as as though she were channeling the devil with her words.
How often those closest to us can be a very serious stumbling block!
Job rebukes her evil words and tells he she speaks like foolish or vile (Hebrew - nabal) person speaks. As an aside here, there is a person in the OT named Nabal and he was 'evil in his doings' (1Sam 25:3). He railed at David when he needed help and even accused the Lord's anointed of being a runaway slave (1Sam 25:10). He was also known as a man of Belial (1Sam 25:25) and the passage remarks that his actions reflected his name, he was a 'Nabal'. So we get the sense here that foolish means a little more than it does today, that being senseless and gullible. No, there is a connotation of evil, godlessness and vileness that goes with the word as well. One look at how the word is used in the OT gives us that impression, for example, 'The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God'. The same word is used (H5036)
Job then remarks wisely that good and evil come from the hand of the Lord and that they must accept both from his hand. What wise words those are! It's hard to understand at times, particularly when we have suffered or have undergone some great misfortune, but we must step back and remember that God is in control and if he is bringing or rather allowing evil into our lives it is for his purpose.
And we know that to them that love God
all things work together for good,
even to them that are called
according to his purpose.
(Rom 8:28 ASV)

We have the benefit of the Apostolic exhortation. Job did not. But clearly he knew the Lord well enough to understand that God was in control and whatever he was going though, God will eventually see things right.

Now brothers, to wait upon God as Job had to for vindication in the eyes of others that his trial was not the result of some gross sin or secret iniquity that had brought all this disaster on him, that is FAITH. Faith sometimes means just that... waiting on the Lord to do what he promised. Other times it means doing something one has been commanded to do, despite all the opposition and the 'it doesn't make sense' protestations as well as all the evil accusations and detractors we face (as Job will soon face). It means doing what God says (obeying his commands) or here, waiting on God in faith and putting up with a rash of snide remarks and thinly veiled accusations from those who called themselves friends. For us, the waiting can be the hardest part.
But Job here did not fall into the trap of the devil and the last part of verse 10 bears this out despite all of this evil and tribulation in Job's life he did not sin with his lips or charge God foolishly.

Let us all remember Job when we have to go though life's trials. God knows all. He is not asleep at the wheel. He knows what is in our lives and what is coming. As hard as it may be to understand, we must often go through things to teach us or to show us things. Some of us have to go through this kind of aych e double el so that we can find out we have false friends and false brethren who won't stand with us or the Lord when things get rough. Better to find out now than during real tribulation. When God puts us through a trial, let us all be sure we are in a learning frame of mind and that whatever God wants to teach us, we are quick learners.
It may shorten the time span of your hours of woe.

We will move on to the next section of Job and meet his three friends in the next section, hopefully and God willing to be posted next week!

13 Aug


We are to be sojourners here on earth. This world is not our home. This is one reason why Christ warned us that we are not of this world. We are of another world if we have been born into the Kingdom of God.
So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners,
but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints,
and of the household of God,
(Eph 2:19 ASV)

These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
 but having seen them and greeted them from afar,
and having confessed that they were strangers
and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things
make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own.
And if indeed they had been mindful of that country
from which they went out, they would have had opportunity
 to return. But now they desire a better country, that is,
a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them,
to be called their God;
for he hath prepared for them a city.
(Heb 11:13-16 ASV)

We don't belong here. I am reminded of times long ago when I just never felt I 'fit in' with others. I suppose we all feel that from time to time, but with me there were times it has been pretty intense and God just reminded me that I am correct in my assumption - I am not one of them. Can an eagle converse with dog? Or a falcon with a chicken? They have nothing in common. So it is with we saints often with those of this world. We will find that in time, we just don't 'mesh'. We have been born into a different family and a different spiritual kingdom. We are different and quite frankly, are supposed to be.
But that does not mean that being in this world cannot rub off on us or even contaminate us. It can and this is something we just have to watch for and we must not let that happen. I am reminded of how many Israelite's lived in the time of Jeremiah. There were many who lived in, or rather fled to Egypt. They rebelled against God (which was common) and against the word of God and sojourned there. You can read the reasons for their sojourn there in Jeremiah chapter 42 and 43. I won't repost the passages here. Suffice it to say, that Jeremiah told them what to do and they chose not to do it but to go to Egypt instead.

But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land;
so that ye obey not the voice of Jehovah your God,
saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt,
where we shall see no war,
nor hear the sound of the trumpet,
nor have hunger of bread;
and there will we dwell:
now therefore hear ye the word of Jehovah,
O remnant of Judah: Thus saith Jehovah of hosts,
the God of Israel, If ye indeed set your faces
to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;
then it shall come to pass, that the sword,
which ye fear, shall overtake you there
in the land of Egypt; and the famine,
whereof ye are afraid, shall follow hard after you there
in Egypt; and there ye shall die.
So shall it be with all the men that set their faces
to go into Egypt to sojourn there:
they shall die by the sword, by the famine,
and by the pestilence; and none of them shall
remain or escape from the evil that
I will bring upon them.
(Jer 42:13-17 ASV)

I post this by way of prelude. Israel as usual went into rebellion because she failed to listen to those whom he sent to warn them of their ways so that they could change them. They were told not to go to Egypt - they were warned what would happen if they did. What did they do? You guessed it. They went to Egypt to escape the Babylonians. God told them not to fear the king of Babylon and yet they feared him rather than the severe warning from the Lord that Jeremiah had laid out to them on this very subject.
But this was the spirit that had infected ancient Israel. They refused to listen to prophets. Even after they besought Jeremiah to pray for them (42:2) and he relayed to them what God told him after this prayer, they still rebelled.
This should be a lesson to all of us. That running when we are told not to is not such a good idea. I often hear people say that they want to leave the US for reasons many of you know. I fully understand this view. I very often feel the exact same way. I am not wild about living here and never wanted to come back to the US in the first place. But this is where God wants me, has put here and I am to stay until I get further orders. Running off to Latin America or Europe, Australia or Africa may be something I would like to do, but it is not something God wants me to do; at least not now. The same goes for many of you. Unless you have been given direction to flee out of the country, I don't think it advisable. When it is time to go, be assured - God knows exactly how to let his people know. I doubt very seriously any of you who sincerely serve the Lord will have to ask anyone about what God wants you do when that day comes. You'll be much more concerned with the logistics of such a move rather than the spiritual imperative of it.
But this remnant of Israel rebelled. Once they did the Lord sent them another word. It was a frightening word to Judah and to those who fled to Egypt.

For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt,
as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword,
by the famine, and by the pestilence;
so that none of the remnant of Judah,
that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn
there, shall escape or be left, to return into the land of Judah,
to which they have a desire to return to dwell there:
for none shall return save such as shall escape.
Then all the men who knew that their wives burned incense
unto other gods, and all the women that stood by,
a great assembly, even all the people that dwelt
in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah,
saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken
unto us in the name of Jehovah, we will not hearken unto thee.
But we will certainly perform every word that is gone
forth out of our mouth, to burn incense unto
the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her,
as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings
and our princes, in the cities of Judah,
 and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then had
 we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.
 But since we left off burning incense to the queen of heaven,
and pouring out drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted all things,
and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven,
and poured out drink-offerings unto her, did we make
her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink-offerings unto her,
without our husbands? Then Jeremiah said unto all the people,
to the men, and to the women, even to all the people
that had given him that answer, saying,
The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah,
and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye and your fathers,
your kings and your princes, and the people of the land,
did not Jehovah remember them, and came it not into his mind?
so that Jehovah could not longer bear, because of the
evil of your doings, and because of the abominations
which ye have committed; therefore is your land
become a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse,
without inhabitant, as it is this day.
Because ye have burned incense, and because
ye have sinned against Jehovah, and have not obeyed
the voice of Jehovah, nor walked in his law,
nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies;
therefore this evil is happened unto you,
as it is this day.
(Jer 44:13-23 ASV)

The stubbornness of the people can be seen here. As another prophet put it, they were a rebellious house (Eze 3:9). They were truly a hard-headed bunch and the Lord had had enough. He warns them again but this time, he gives them a sure sign so they can know whom they are dealing with. They ran to Egypt to escape the king of Babylon did they not?

And this shall be the sign unto you,
saith Jehovah, that I will punish you in this place,
that ye may know that my words shall surely
stand against you for evil: Thus saith Jehovah,
Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of
Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into
the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave
Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of
Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, who was
his enemy, and sought his life.
(Jer 44:29-30 ASV)

They would run from the fire only to wind up in the firepit. Here is what Matthew Henry says about this passage.
He gives them a sign that all these threatenings shall be accomplished in their season, that they shall be consumed here in Egypt and shall quite perish: Pharaoh-hophra, the present king of Egypt, shall be delivered into the hand of his enemies that seek his life - of his own rebellious subjects (so some) under Amasis, who usurped his throne - of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (so others), who invaded his kingdom; the former is related by Herodotus, the latter by Josephus. It is likely that this Pharaoh had tempted the Jews to idolatry by promises of his favour; however, they depended upon him for his protection, and it would be more than a presage of their ruin, it would be a step towards it, if he were gone. - Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible
This is most telling on two levels

First the level of rebellion that had infected the people. This was nothing minor, they firmly and publicly rejected the Lord who brought them out of the land they ran back to for safety. They wanted to worship the queen of heaven (probably Astarte or perhaps Egyptian version of it). The Lord was sore displeased and had decided to do away with them... in a permanent fashion. There really does come a time when God gets totally fed up and destroys those.... even those whom he once called his own. Their rebellion and idolatry had won them a one way ticket to his judgement. This was exactly where Judah was at this point in time. Adam Clarke has an interesting comment on just how this was fulfilled for those of you interested.

Don't go Back To Egypt!!

Don't do it. Going back to Egypt is bad news. Remember this was where Israel was enslaved and God had to send in a deliverer to save them and lead them to the promised land. Yet here they are many generations later after having forsaken the Lord and committing multiple abominations in the land, God sends in the enemy to invade, destroy, scatter and even kill the rebels.

For us, Egypt is the world we have been saved from and out of. We like Israel of old are on our way to the promised land that God has promised to us. But we must not ever think about going back. Remember how many began lusting after the things in Egypt after they had been delivered (Numbers Chapter 11). The Lord was sore displeased.

Brothers and sisters. This nation and world is sliding into rank rebellion. Sins, abominations and idolatry of many kinds have become a spiritual cornerstone to much of America. They take pride in doing those things God hates, not unlike the Israelite's of old. They had (and have) no intention of repenting, despite the pleadings and warnings of the Lord.

Many Christians have headed back to Egypt after having tasted of the heavenly gift. This was the warning the author of Hebrews made to the Jewish audience who clearly were about to apostatize.

For as touching those who were once enlightened
and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made
partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted
the good word of God, and the powers
of the age to come, and then fell away,
it is impossible to renew them again
unto repentance; seeing they crucify
 to themselves the Son of God afresh,
and put him to an open shame.
(Heb 6:4-6 ASV)

Heading back to Egypt is bad news. Chances are most who start back are on a one way trip. Don't assume that they will ever be able to get their lives back right with God again. In most cases, they simply won't be able to. Why not? Simple. When a person rejects the way of salvation to this degree, it is often also a major insult to the Holy Spirit. What do I mean?

A man that hath set at nought Moses'
law dieth without compassion on the
word of two or three witnesses: of how
much sorer punishment, think ye,
shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden
under foot the Son of God, and hath counted
the blood of the covenant wherewith he was
sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done
 despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know
him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me,
I will recompense. And again, The Lord shall
judge his people. It is a fearful thing
to fall into the hands of the living God.
(Heb 10:28-31 ASV)

It was bad enough in the times of Moses, it is much worse for us today. Serious sins against the Holy Spirit fall into the unpardonable category of sins and are most, most serious (Luke 12:10).

Again...Don't Go back to Egypt!

It's the place of idolatry and mystery religion. It was a place of extreme corruption. It was also a place where God's people were literally enslaved. Judah in the time of Jeremiah wanted to go back - and back they went thinking they would find salvation there. Instead they would find famine, the sword and the grave.

So today's interlude today is about our times and what is happening in the country today. I believe that chaos and trouble we are seeing is God ordained and that he is using the enemies of this country to chastise us to perhaps get the country to repent. I don't think such repentance is likely barring some very serious suffering that compels some devastating lifestyle changes in the lives of million of Americans. Even then, I don't think most will even consider that they will indeed be held accountable for their deeds. Satan is very good and muddling the lines between good and evil and making the most wicked man think he is doing 'God's will'. We put ourselves in the gravest of danger when we underestimate the devils power of persuasion and his power to deceive. He is remarkably adept.

So let us pause and consider these thing as we watch the chaos in the nation. But this is just the beginning of planned and internationally coordinated pre-election chaos I think. What do I mean? Consider this. Have you heard about one reason why Trump's rally's were so poorly attended? Well, you have all heard about TikTok, do your own search on that company and the Trump campaign.

Everyone is raving about Russia's interference, but other countries (and wealthy international billionaire-players) are even busier and they have a lot more 'pull' in power circles here in the US by virtue of their deep economic relationship with the US and its major corporations. It's other countries as well who had paid millions to political campaigns to people who once sat in the White House. They want those kinds of people back in the White House and to get rid of this President who is taking nation's like China to task. Check out a story called "Shipments of nearly 20,000 fake driver's licenses seized at Chicago airport" out of a local Fox affiliate.  So as you watch all of this well organized 'chaos' in American's streets consider who really benefits from it all and what their real agenda is. Hint: Some of these international interests - they don't give a hoot about police brutality and cop shootings except to exacerbate those problems in order to get unwitting dupes out into the street to create more havoc and destabilize the nation.

So hang on, I just think we are going to see many strange and unheard of events in this country as rarely seen before, during and even after this election, regardless of who wins.

On the election, the DNI has a short piece on his site on election interference. It was just released. It's nothing new to any of you (insiders) here, I came up with the same assessments long ago. They say Russia wants Trump to win and China wants Biden. But these are things I have hinted at for some time. Russia would not want Biden in because he is perceived to be too close to Ukraine. Biden's son if you recall, reportedly got a cushy job there and Mr. Biden sat on the National Security Council during the US supported violent coup there. China wants the trade spat to end. This is not rocket science. Here is the DNI's news release. Below is a snippet.

At this time, we're primarily concerned with China, Russia and Iran -- although other nation states and non-state actors could also do harm to our electoral process. Our insights and judgments will evolve as the election season progresses.

  • China is expanding its influence efforts to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China's interests, and counter criticism of China. Beijing recognizes its efforts might affect the presidential race.
  • Russia's persistent objective is to weaken the United States and diminish our global role. Using a range of efforts, including internet trolls and other proxies, Russia continues to spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process and denigrate what it sees as an anti-Russia establishment' in America.
  • Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions and divide the country in advance of the elections. Iran's efforts center around online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content. - DNI
But I see this as little more than a boomerang for the country. We have been doing dirt like this to other nations for decades, particularly in places like Latin America. Now the the boomerang is heading right back in our direction with added force and speed. I think the nation is heading into spiritual payback time... and those 'interest payments' may turn out to be worse than the original bill for our deeds.

So let us keep our eyes on Christ and remember that much of what we are seeing in the country is God ordained. He is calling America out and hoping that she repents. The good news is that it appears that some are at least trying. A prayer walk and cease fire has been organized in Baltimore, which is on track for another year of record homicides.

Violence more and more is being seen in many cities across the land, police stations being burned, mass shootings at cookouts, police exchanging fire with protestors. The nation is slowly descending into the very chaos its sins cry out for and its enemies are working to increase.

Let us all pause and consider the times and remember this.

...Don't go back to Egypt.

Brother Mark

11 Aug

Job Part VIII

And Satan answered Jehovah,
and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath
will he give for his life.
(Job 2:4 ASV)

In the last section, we saw how Job kept his integrity despite the devil having moved against him with no cause. The debate about Job and his righteousness, despite all the trials Job had faced was not over. Satan was not going to give in. He still was doing his best to question Job's faithfulness and loyalty to the Lord. Satan destroyed his property and even his children while essentially accusing Job of only loving God because of the bounty he had given him. Satan then moves on to the next target, Job's very life and health. But we must remember that he has to get permission first. The phrase 'skin for skin' is not one that is clearly understood today and may have been an old idiom from the times of the patriarchs. But the meaning at least generally is clear. Albert Barnes says this is a proverbial expression, meaning essentially that a man will give up all he has to save his life. The implication is clear and here is what Adam Clarke says about it as he paraphrases the Jewish Targum
Thou hast only destroyed his property; thou hast left him his life and his health. Thou hast not touched his flesh nor his bone; therefore he is patient and resigned. Man, through the love of life, will go much farther: he will give up one member to save the rest; yea, limb after limb as long as there is hope that, by such sacrifices, life may be spared or prolonged. This is the meaning given to the passage by the Targum; - Adam Clarke (1715-1832)
This is probably the best way to look at the unusual idiom of 'skin for skin'.

But put forth thy hand now,
and touch his bone and his flesh,
and he will renounce thee to thy face.
(Job 2:5 ASV)

Again, we see how the devil operates. His agenda is clear - to tear down one of God's servants, to accuse him falsely and to get the Lord to act against him... and by extension, us. Now I want us to remember something in this passage, that Satan is saying (accusing) that Job would curse God to his face if he touched his flesh. The importance of this satanic accusation will be made clear later. Satan is basically telling the Lord that if he is allowed to touch his very flesh - his health - he will curse God.

And Jehovah said unto Satan,
 Behold, he is in thy hand;
only spare his life.
(Job 2:6 ASV)

Here the Lord grants Satan's request. This on the surface seems like a bad thing for Job. In fact it is, but there is a good side to this. What the Lord was doing was expressing his supreme confidence in his servant Job, but to satisfy his accusers, he had to put Job to the test and this was indeed coming.

So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah,
and smote Job with sore boils
from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
 And he took him a potsherd
to scrape himself therewith;
and he sat among the ashes.
(Job 2:7-8 ASV)

So after once again, getting his permission slip from the Lord, Satan wrecks yet more havoc in Job's life, touching this time, not his property, but his flesh. His affliction was a serious one, it may not have been life threatening but it was painful and clearly most embarrassing. Boils all over ones body - he had to have looked like he was accursed of God by others after all that had befallen him, a subject that will take up much of the rest of the book of Job. The word for boils probably should be mentioned here. It is actually two words - Sore and Boils. The words in Strong's are H7451 and H7822.
So Job had this all over his body, his arms, face, legs, back, everywhere and it had to be very painful. He probably had trouble sleeping with all the boils and pain all over his body.

We do not know for sure what disease this was. Some have surmised that he had Leprosy and this is why he had to sit down among the ashes - he may have been outside the city where the ones nobody wanted (like Lepers) dwelt. A few expositors agree on the Leprosy diagnosis.

K&D Commentary agrees pretty much with the leprosy assessment. These boils are spoken of in the Law. In
Exo 9:9-11; Lev 13:18; Deut 28:27, Deut 28:35, we find something very similar. In fact, in Deut 28:35 we note such a physical condition, being smitten with boils from head to toe was a sign of divine displeasure. But we must keep in mind that the events in Job probably pre-date the giving of the Mosaic Law.

The disease had to be very loathsome, as he he had to take a piece of pottery, perhaps some broken old shard of a clay pot to scratch/scrape himself. Why this is needed is not clear, but probably for two reasons. One to scrape away the puss and foul biological accumulation that was the result of the boils and probably to scratch himself, for it probably itched. Others see another reason as well, to show his grief in a way that was common in the east, to show it by external actions.

Sitting down among the ashes as well may be a sign of such an outward expression of sorrow and humiliation. We cannot be sure, Commentators do not agree, but it is not inconceivable that this refers to the rubbish heap on the outskirts of town where the trash was burned.

By all outward appearances, Job looked accursed. But unless one had access to the divine throne room, no one knew exactly what the cause of Job's misfortune was.

We will continue out look at Job next week, the Lord willing!!

6 Aug

Econ Watch

Weather we wish to accept it or not. Economic issues are of great importance in our times. They are also believe it or not, of some prophetic importance. When money is talked about here, it is not about greed or making a profit off of this stock or that great investment. Rather, I try and bring issues that are of importance both prophetically and in our day to day living. We cannot ignore the issue of money in either realm. For one day, the whole money system will be 'Satan-ified' and no one will be able to buy or sell save that he have the mark of the devil.

The False Prophet (a powerful demonic entity) is the one who causes all to worship the beast and his image. Religion and economics come together in a full-court satanic press in the last hours of this age. I have long talked about and said that I believe that the fall of Babylon and the institution of the mark of the beast are very closely related. In fact, I strongly suspect that it will be that gigantic economic catastrophe of Babylon's fall that will basically compel the world's leaders to come up with a solution to the destruction of so much wealth evaporating and the glut of IOU's directly related to the Babylon's fall. I think Revelation chapter 14 gives is a strong hint of this, if one see's the clear sequence in Rev 14:8ff. Babylon falls and then comes the warning not to take the mark. One hour these ten kings have to their plan to destroy the harlot. They have to have a 'follow on' plan once she is gone. The Mark of the Beast may be a big part of it. Given the global nature of commerce and its increasing digitization, some kind of one world global economic system like this is something that anyone can see is not only possible, but probable in our future. So on that note lets take a look at some events in the economy today. Despite all the talk of recovery, it is very ugly out there...

Let's talk just a moment about the eviction tidal wave that is coming. Now in my county they won't start hearing such cases in the courts until Aug 31st. Without some kind of extension on the moratorium there is going to be some trouble out there. The good news is that here in this county, it has set up an assistance fund for those impacted by the virus. States and local governments will have to do something if they want to avoid a trainwreck and a significant increase in homelessness. But in my state, as long as the state of emergency lasts, there is a statewide moratorium on evictions that applies under certain conditions. So this State is not not such bad shape if one is a renter and lost their job or got their hours seriously cut. This will help those who worked in shops that were forced to be closed. It does not help landlords who have their own bills to pay. I only use my home state as an example as many of the same things are probably happening on many other states as well but are just not making big headlines.

Then there is the whole Brick and Mortar meltdown thing. What is going to happen to all of those stores that have been closed for months. I have a mall that is a stone's throw from where I live and it was dying before the pandemic. It's closed and when it will reopen is anyone's guess. With all of these retail chains going broke, it may never do so. Here is an SEC filing for one major Real Estate Trust that deals with Shopping centers. You can scroll down and see how much they lost... before the lockdowns took full effect. On page 47 of that link they mention their concerns for the future. So this whole retail Brick and Mortar retail meltdown is no dark fantasy of some obscure bloggers. It's real and it looks like its going to get worse.

The only bright side is that eCommerce is doing very well. For much of this you can only blame many of these retail chains. They like it has been said of the dinosaurs of old, just did not adapt to the new environment. I have long said that if I were running a chain of stores like say Sears I would have really pushed eCommnerce hard and got drivers in all the major cities to do what Amazon is doing now. They already had the presence, the warehousing, the deals with suppliers. Instead, they have just about gone out of businesses. Last count I read was that Sears-Kmart will soon be down to under 100 stores nationwide.

But this in my view is what happens when companies rely too heavily on various forms of borrowing. It's what I see wrong with much of the US economy. This includes a great many companies in the so called 'new economy'  - many of them don't make money. Do a search on on 'Wall Street Unicorn start up and debt' and see what you find. I am not knocking debt but rather, the over reliance on it. This has been a national obsession. What do I mean? I won't bore you with another US debt chart. But will pass on that this President has followed in the footsteps of all recent US Presidents and raised the US deficits significantly. When Inaugurated, the US debt stood at $19.9 trillions. Today it stands at $26.5 trillions (that Treasury link strangely ceased working - here is another one  - here as well). What does it cost just in interest on this kind of debt?

Chart Source: US Treasury
Treasury's Interest
                                                exepense chart ao 7-20
Does anyone care? There are some 'deficit hawks' in the Senate who seem to be holding up the latest stimulus  bill and making it far less ambitious and this is one reason why.

We will hear much wailing and gnashing of teeth because leaders don't open up the coffers and start giving away more money, but the American economy even as big and resilient as it is can only stand so much of a 'debt drag' on it. The key I think that very few are talking about is that we are indeed having some issues with financing ourselves even with the usual way of it - borrowing. These days the Fed is buying just about everything to 'calm' and support the markets. It's bond buying programs can be read about in many mainstream sites and blogs. I won't recount the issues here other than to say that when a nation like this has the kinds of debts we have accumulated coupled with the continual need to borrow more, there comes a time when the market - not the Fed - but the market (those wanting a real return on their investment) become less enthusiastic about lending to someone so heavily indebted and with no realistic plan to deal with it.

               Source: BEA

This is why I see the Fed's move as part of the end game for the US dollar. In my view what we are doing is not all that dissimilar to what they did in the Weimar Republic and what Zimbabwe has done with its currency. It's just far more sophisticated and deceptive. We just keep on printing it and much of that money heads right over into the stock market and drives the price of stocks to the moon for companies that don't, haven't and some are not likely to ever make any money. My view? It's the scam economy. If you got friends who will 'lend' you money on the Street, you too can be a corporate billionaire. You never have to make a dime in profit, just wow them with a great prospectus, scratch a few well heeled backs and you too can become a billionaire and when it all comes to the end, you can sell your stock at the highs and retire wealthy.

This is what our economy has descended to in my view, a system that looks too much like some kind of White Collar quasi-criminal enterprise to me to be comfortable with. Honest money, honest work with people that build and create often are sidelined in favor of moguls at 'Debt Inc.' a closed circle of economic elitists who decide which companies are allowed to exist, which ones get squeezed, which community will grow and which turns into a slum. Don't get me wrong, rarely are laws actually broken. They are just maneuvered around to such degree that what the law was designed to prevent, transpires in a 'legal' way. We have in my view, turned a good, well functioning economy into a racket any mobster would be very comfortable in and be totally familiar with. It's due for a complete collapse. When, no one can say. The world is still afraid of America and the consequences of shifting its trading from dollars to something else. Two tried and died (Saddam and Ghadffi) and two more have tried and got onto America's 'manure list' (Putin and Xi).

So what does this mean? Don't write the US economy off yet. This current dance of the debtors can last a good while longer. As long as they can keep the value of the dollar on the global markets high and tradable for goods and services, the US should be OK from a purely economic perspective. Given the situation in much of the world, the US currency is still by far one of the least ugly ducklings out there, despite its ocean of red ink. So let us be clear, right now the dollar is holding up fairly well despite some of the recent events regarding it and the economy in general. But what happens when the dollar starts to sink in value and reflects the true state of American finances?

Let's go back to the Bible and get an old time example. Keep in mind that there were no schools on economics back in the olden days, Even thousands of years after this, the basics of economics were not studied or really known. We have the benefit of 6000+ years of human history and can see many of the cause and effect relationships in certain economic and monetary actions. So let's go back to the times of the patriarchs. It is hardly an exact example, but one I think still fitting to remember in our times.

 And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt,
and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for our money faileth. And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle,
if money fail

And they brought their cattle unto Joseph;
and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses,
 and for the flocks, and for the herds, and for the asses:
and he fed them with bread in exchange
for all their cattle for that year.
(Genesis 47:15-17 - ASV)

There was a famine in the land and from the text it appears that first they may have had some money but then it ran out. Even if they had it, money does not appear to be what people were taking in exchange for real goods. Weather it failed because it ran out or failed because people were not taking it anymore for bread, the effect is the same. For us today, it would be kind of like money and paper towels become essentially of equal value. This is what happens when a currency fails. Whatever the mechanics behind it that caused it in the above passage, it ceases to be that key medium of exchange for trade and purchases. People just cease to accept it. Now I am not necessarily saying this is going to happen to the US dollar, though some prophets have predicted just such a thing. One many years ago said this would happen and that the US would go into a time of reflection and that she would try and rise again to her old heights but could not... ever again. 

My point is that I see a time when our whole system will go into crisis, we are already seeing it in many parts of the country in education, in the economy, in jobs, in the riots and protests. I just think things are going to get so much worse until the nation acknowledges its sins and turns from them and turns its face towards God. As I see no repentance, just the same old sins and abominations being given the stamp of approval, so the nation I suspect will see more trouble and even tribulation on many fronts including the economic one as the years pass and the nations sins continue to overflow in the cup of her deeds.

This is why I ask you all to keep your eyes on the obvious and listen less and less to explanations as to why what looks to be totally off kilter is (according to these 'explanations') perfectly fine... like the nation's fiscal situation and her deficits. There is nothing normal about this scope of the nations debts any more than there is anything normal about a man with a tree trunk growing out of his forehead. Whatever explanations are given in either case, both are crying out for some kind of corrective action.

My view is that the nation's debt situation is a reflection of the whole national psyche. It's 'have a good time now' and pay it back never. Borrow, party, fornicate and dope oneself up with a credit card till you can't borrow anymore. This mentality is true for a lot of American's. In government, it's shift trillions of dollars to corporate and wealthy donors via government contracts and sweetheart regulations while in office and pays for it with deficits. Party now and don't worry about paying for it; this seems more and more to be the fiscal mantra of the day. But this licentious attitude towards finance will have a very bitter end for many of us. Everyone thinks the government will come in and solve the crisis and bail them out. The days that they can continue to do that are not eternal. When the economy has to rely of the Fed to take in reams of debt to 'stabilize' the economy, the signs of the 'end game' to this ridiculous and tragic economic model touted by so called 'economists' are clear for all to see.

What happens when that great economic bastion of the last days falls and all the commerce that goes with it is gone forever? Something will have to take its place. What will it be? Perhaps the scriptures are telling us that in the book of Revelation.

And he causeth all, the small and the great,
and the rich and the poor,
and the free and the bond,
that there be given them a mark
on their right hand,
or upon their forehead;
and that no man should be able to buy or to sell,
save he that hath the mark,
even the name of the beast
or the number of his name.
 Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding,
let him count the number of the beast;
for it is the number of a man:
and his number is
Six hundred and sixty and six.
(Rev 13:16-18 ASV)

Economics and religion will become seriously intertwined in that final system. Let us keep our eyes open and watch.

Also keep this in mind, when the economics of Joseph's time failed, the saints too were deeply effected. These kinds of things can and will effect us all. So let us be wise as serpents in these times and get before God about our finances lest we get caught in a snare of our own making.

Note: This piece is personal opinion and commentary and not financial advice. Please make wise and informed decisions, preferably with some kind of professional advisor before making any important financial decision.

4 Aug

Job Part VII

Then Job arose, and rent his robe,
and shaved his head,
and fell down upon the ground,
and worshipped; and he said,
Naked came I out of my mother's womb,
 and naked shall I return thither:
Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away;
blessed be the name of Jehovah.
In all this Job sinned not,
nor charged God foolishly.
(Job 1:20-22 ASV)

When we left off last time, Job had gotten a heavy load of bad news. His kids were dead, his wealth stolen and much if not all of what made him an important man in his times was gone, all in one single day. Disaster had struck Job. Moreover Job hardly deserved such treatment, being a righteous man. Yet it did happen and it happened to him.
How did Job react? I think some of us would have gotten mad at the Lord and wonder why he did not protect us or why he did not do this or allow that and had just been pretty upset with God. But God was not the source of his troubles. The source of his troubles was Satan, but Job did not know that. Instead of charging God foolishly, he tore his overcoat, which was a sign of extreme distress. This was not just common among the Jews but was also a custom throughout the ancient world as evidenced in many ancient writers. He also shaved his head, another expression of deep sorrow. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped God. The passage is clearly showing that Job was in deep distress. He did not take all this loss with a ho-hum attitude. He lost his children and his wealth and Job was as human as the rest of us. He felt deep, deep sorrow and his behavior was meant to reflect that.
Job then says, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.". This is a powerful perspective on life and Job is spot on. The idea is one that Paul sets down in his writings.

for we brought nothing into the world,
for neither can we carry anything out;
but having food and covering
we shall be therewith content.
(1Ti 6:7-8 ASV)

Even today we have a saying 'You can't take it with you', or as some have said, "When was the last time you saw a U-Haul van pull up to a cemetery"? The last may be full of a little dark humor but the idea is the same. There is nothing here on earth you can take with you when you die.
Facing trials? Things not going according to YOUR plans? Had a horrible day at the office? Just get a pink slip? Find out your daughter is hooked on opium? Brothers, as bad as these things are, no one down here escapes trouble.

Again it came to pass on the day when
the sons of God came to present
themselves before Jehovah,
that Satan came also among them
to present himself before Jehovah.
And Jehovah said unto Satan,
From whence comest thou?
And Satan answered Jehovah, and said,
From going to and fro in the earth,
 and from walking up and down in it.
(Job 2:1-2 ASV)

Again the angels or more linguistically accurate Benay Elohim have assembled to present themselves before God. This appears to be a periodic occurrence. How often, it if is scheduled or the result of a summons, we are not told. We only know that this is the second time it has happened with relation to Job. Verse two is very much like Verse 1:7 and may be a standard answer that certain classes of angels reply to God when asked before they give greater detail.
And Jehovah said unto Satan,
Hast thou considered my servant Job?
for there is none like him in the earth,
a perfect and an upright man,
one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil:
and he still holdeth fast his integrity,
although thou movedst me against him,
to destroy him without cause.
(Job 2:3 ASV)

Once again the Lord starts to 'brag' about his servant Job. I always like the way this next phrase reads, "there is none like him in the earth". I tell you, I would like to have a report about my character from the Lord like that! It is something we should all strive for, to be pleasing to the Lord and get an excellent report from him. The Lord this time had even more to be pleased about. Satan came in and made a total wreck of Job's life and yet Job maintained his faith in God and his personal integrity. Note that the Lord himself marks that Job's trials were completely without cause. This was not about Job and often when we go through trials, it is not about us or our behavior. God has is own reasons for bringing them that he sometimes reveals and sometimes does not.
No one likes trials. I certainly don't. But when we look back on them, sometimes we get a better understanding as to why we go through them.

Sadly as we will see in the following verses, because of the devil, Job's trials were just starting.

We will continue our look at Job next week, God willing!!



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