Christmas imagery is filled with Heavenly Choirs musically heralding the Savior's birth. One problem with that: it never happened.
There is zero evidence that angels sing. I know, I know, I'm trampling
all over your cherished childhood memories. Tough. It's simply not found
But wait, what about the Heavenly choir at Bethlehem? There was none. Matthew's Gospel talks about the Magi, but no angels. It's Luke 2:8-12 that tells us about the angels:
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping
watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel SAID
to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great
joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been
born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to
you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and SAYING,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Then the angels left and went back to heaven.
Well, okay... What about IN HEAVEN? Ah, ha! like in Revelation. Nope. Sorry. In the great picture of worship around the heavenly throne of Revelation 4, the angels before God SAY, "Holy, Holy, Holy."
In chapter 5, "...many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands,
and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the
living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were SAYING: “Worthy is the Lamb."
Why? Why don't angels sing? I think it's because singing--music--is
an inherently human action. Animals exist in the completely earthy
realm. Angels exist in the purely spiritual realm. Humans are
amphibians; we exist in both worlds at once. Music moves us; to joy,
sorrow, sometimes to tears. We don't just play or sing music; we FEEL it. I don't believe angels truly comprehend music.
So, sorry I had to break your heart. But I take theology seriously. I
take the same stand on other "doctrines of men" that have no foundation
in scripture, as well.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am speaking from a Biblical perspective. If you
are an unbeliever, feel free to indulge your imagination. For those of
you who claim to accept the Bible as God's Word, knock it off.
twelve men he would train over the three years of his ministry.He did not
choose Priests or Rabbis. Nor did he choose Generals, or Kings. He chose
ordinary working men to carry the Gospel message to the world. It’s still
true today; God uses ordinary people to do his work.
Among America's Founding Fathers why does the name of Benjamen Franklin stand out? I mean, he didn't defeat the British Army, like Washington. He didn't compose the Declaration of Independence, like Jefferson. Other than womanizing around France just what did Benny do? Think about it. Of all the names appended to that famous declaration, I'll bet the only one you're sure of is John Hancock. All the others have faded into the mists of time. So why do we remember Franklin?
I figure he had the greatest Press Agent in history. None of his myriad disasters were ever held against him. Every time he flopped face-first into the mud he came up smelling of roses. Don't believe me? Ha! That's because you are just another in the long line of suckers taken in by Franklin's Press Agent. Allow me to adduce some evidence.
First; Poor Richard's Almanac. Franklin wrote and edited that scandalous rag. I mean, c'mon! Aren't there already billions of poor people in the world? Do we really need an "Almanac for Dummies" to HELP people get poor? Hardly. But Benny's Press Agent made sure this piece of yellow journalism went down in history as some sort of great literature.
B; Franklin's Electric Kite. What a monstrous toy that was. "Here son, look what I got for your birthday. Why don't you go out and fly it in this storm? Be sure to hold on to the key!" ...And you thought lawn darts were dangerous. But does Franklin get any blame? Never. Why, he's a great American Inventor; that's what he is. Again, good press saves a shoddy reputation.
But the absolute cruelest invention Franklin ever foisted upon the young republic was Daylight Savings Time. This evil concept still causes untold misery across these United States. Oh, sure; everybody loves Fall Back. Set your clocks back one hour and deceive your body. You can even stay up late and squander that extra hour. The next morning you'll wake up feeling great. Your body will thank you for "sleeping in." And you'll continue to enjoy that great feeling as your body grows accustomed to this luxury... Like a diver sinking deeper into the rapturous ocean depths. Ahh, the peaceful sleep of the long winter months.
Then Spring arrives. It's a time of rejoicing. Winter's icy grip begins to thaw and the world is fertile and green once more. Skip, tra-la! Yeah, but don't forget Mister Franklin's ticking time bomb. Like a diver coming to the surface without decompression, you suddenly lose an hour of sleep. Horror! Your body writhes in agony. "Why, oh why, are you doing this to me?" It's like Guido the Enforcer shows up at your door and beats those wonderful winter months of slumber out of your body.
Phooey! It's all a cruel joke, and I'm not looking forward to starting the cycle again this week. You may hail Benjamin Franklin as one of our greatest Founding fathers. I think his Press Agent just did a great job of image-building on an historic blunderer.
Ancient Jewish Baptism had two purposes, first for repentance, second, when starting in ministry. John baptized for repentance. He called people to turn from their wicked ways and follow God’s way. IF JESUS DIDN’T NEED TO REPENT WHY DID HE GET BAPTIZED?
The New Testament came about in the cultural milieu
of the First Century. It was a cosmopolitan world catalyzed by Eastern
mysticism, cultural Hellenism, and hard-headed Roman engineering. These
three cultures are found in the background of the New Testament.
have been raised with a Roman Greek bias in their thinking. Most of us
do not recognize this bias until it is pointed out to us. Culturally, we
have been trained to think like Romans and Greeks. We often find the
Eastern—in our case, Hebrew—mindset difficult to understand.
it’s helpful to examine, briefly, the cultural differences between the
three. Let’s say you buy a new car. You tell your friends about this new
car. Cornelius, the Roman, asks, “how does it work?” Right? The Romans
built aqueducts, water wheels and bread-making factories. Did you know
the Romans had a coin-operated vending machine for dispensing perfume?
They did. They were marvelous engineers and western civilization owes
them a lot.
Your Greek friend, Aescalus,
he has a different question for you. He wants to know, “what does your
car look like?” Greeks are big into art, symmetry, form. That is their
cultural bias and their first thought.
But Daveed, your Hebrew friend, he has a completely different question. He’s not interested in the mechanics of how your car works or the aesthetics of what your car looks like. Daveed has a highly practical question, “what is your car good for? What does it do?”
Greco-Roman cultural bias can be a hindrance when it comes to
interpreting the Bible—both Old and New Testament. If we approach the
Bible asking Greek and Roman questions: “What did Jesus look like?
Exactly how does Christ’s death on the cross effect redemption?” we are
asking the wrong questions. The Bible answers Hebrew questions: “What
did Jesus do? Why did Jesus have to die?”
A road map does not tell you at what temperature to fry eggs. Ask the right questions if you want useful answers.
In religious talk, the term “flesh” is considered a naughty word. When someone is living a life that dishonors Christ it is common to hear “he’s living in the flesh,” or “she’s acting fleshly.” After all, the scripture says; “in my flesh is no good thing.” RIGHT? Why then does John the Apostle say of Jesus the Christ; “the Word became flesh?”
Mercedes Benz is currently running a quite clever commercial featuring ol' Scratch offering a young man a devilish deal. Sitting in a stylish coffee shop, the kid observes a billboard being posted across the street featuring the newest Mercedes. He lusts to own it. Suddenly Beelzebub appears; "Make a deal with me kid, and you can have the car and everything that goes with it." Visions of fame, fortune and manly coolness dance through the young man's head. "What do you say, kid?" the devil prompts. By then the billboard has been completed, revealing the amazingly reasonable sticker price of under 30,000 Smackeroos. "Thanks," the kid replies, "but I think I got this." Ha! The evil one is vanquished and dispatched to the nether world in an angry puff of oily, black smoke.
Ha, ha. Clever, right? I love this commercial. It is witty and plays on turning the old, established, cultural deal-with-the-devil mystique on its ear.
It does something else. Our wealthy, ever-at-ease culture no longer sees any need for God, salvation or heaven. This commercial reveals the flip side. Neither do we need the ole seducer and his tricks to give us an illicit leg up these days. We got this.
Au contraire, we do not. We are fallen creatures. Even the atheists agree that the world ought to be better. That it is not, is the consequence of sin. Not the devil's sin, or Hitler's sin, or Bin Laden's sin; yours, mine. We are not what we ought to be. That is why the world is not what it ought to be.
God offers a changed heart and eternal life to all who call upon the name of Jesus the Messiah in faith. Surrender your will to him and he promises to make you a new creature. Reject that, as so many loud voices demand today, and the alternative is eternity in Hell. Don't like that? Tough toenails. I don't like death or taxes, either. Disbelieving in Hell is about as effective as disbelieving in death and taxes.
God's Love and Wrath are two sides of the same coin; the fire that warms also burns. it depends on where you stand in relation to it. Hell serves a good and practical purpose.
It is not just God's torture chamber for people he doesn't like. C.S.
Lewis called Hell God's tourniquet on evil. Evil cannot be allowed
free reign forever. It cannot be permitted to go on polluting God's
creation. It must be judged. It will be contained. But neither will God force anyone to obey. Hell is the place for the people who insist "my will be done." Hell is God's answer, "Very well, thy will be done."
"God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
The choice is yours. What are you going to do about it?
It seems that Heaven is slipping, not keeping up with the times. As a
culture we seem to have outgrown the need for Heaven as a place of
comfort. In the words of Reverend Ike, we no longer desire "pie in the sky, bye-and-bye when we die." We want our pie NOW; "with ice cream on top."
Older Christian spirituals and hymns like "Go Down Moses" and "I'll Fly Away"
reflect the sorrow of living in this vale of tears. They express a
longing for a better place: Heaven. We don't sing those songs much
anymore. There's a good reason for that. After all, what's Heaven got
that we havn't got already? Is there universal healthcare in Heaven? Are
there DVRs? luxury cars with Bluetooth connectivity, satellite
navigation and connected drive?
...Not that I've ever read about.
days Heaven simply doesn't come off too well in a comparative match-up
with modern technology. At least not the pictures of Heaven found in
sermons and popular culture. And after a hundred years of Hollywood the
pictures of gold streets and pearly gates are... well, sort of lame. The
pseudo-Biblical pictures are part of the problem. In fact, the word
"Heaven" is itself a misnomer. The Bible never speaks of a place called
Heaven. The word used is plural; heavens, and speaks more of all you can see in the night sky than of some sort of Cloud 9.
the fact is Heaven has become a term for the presence of God. Though it
is not specifically Biblical, it is at least useful. But it does not
answer the original question; Is Heaven showing its age? is it out of
date, passe? Not at all. As a society we are simply focused on the wrong
things; things that won't last. We walk by sight and not by faith.
got a new iPhone 5 this year. For the first time I have a
top-of-the-line phone instead of a pay-as-you-go burner. I'm already
wondering if I should trade it in for an iPhone 6 when they come out.
And that's the problem with technology. There's always something newer,
something better. We never reach Nirvana. We are in a relentless,
never-ending quest for the best all the days of our lives.
have you noticed this gollywog, super whamodyne, technologically
wonderful world is rather high maintenance? Boy, don't you pay for
upkeep, repairs and replacement. To paraphrase the Bible, "the iPhone
withers, the leather upholstery fades but the word of our God stands
And that's my point about Heaven. You can
ignore it. You can compete with it. You can ridicule the concept. Like
it or not Heaven is still there. Heaven is simply code for "where God
is." Forget the marvels and toys; when your life wears out, the question
of Heaven will enjoy a sharp new reality for you. Jesus said "In my
Father's house are many mansions. I'm going to prepare a place for you,
that where I am you may be also."
You want Heaven? You need Jesus. That sounds Heavenly.