Category Archives: Bible

Sermon on the Mount: The New Currency

By Daniel Downs

In the last post on Jesus’ Sermon given from Mount Gerezim, the discussion about its relevance for today was continued. The topic was spiritual food. For those on the journey to the heavenly city, spiritual food is more important than the natural kind. You know the saying: you are what you eat! Those on the journey know they will not get there without still being alive unto God.

For the spiritually poor, consuming and living God’s word is a matter of utter survival. More crucial than society’s socialist welfare program is God’s welfare plan for our lives. It too is a cradle to beyond the grave plan encompassing our material and spiritual needs and rights. The really good part is that God promises to coach us through the challenges and celebrate our successes. Because God is a good provider, the poor do not remain needy.

Maybe that is why Jesus directed his sermon to those who would be blessed of God. (See the links below to the previous four posts.)

In his next sermon point, Jesus’ focus on the divine economy turns to currency. Currency is something of specified value used in the trade of goods and services. In a barter economy, people trade their stuff for other people’s stuff. As in our modern economy, the ancients used money for buying and selling desired goods and services. As you can see, giving and receiving is part of the divine design for humans in this world. What we often overlook is the other type of currency we are expected to use in God’s economy, which is summarized in the following verse:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”(Matthew 5:7)

All previous parts of Jesus’ sermon focused on a state of being as it relates to God and to a lesser degree to others. Here the emphasis is on a dynamic of giving and receiving.

In the previous four posts, Jesus taught that acknowledging one’s spiritual poverty leads to acquiring personal property in God’s kingdom. This was followed with the assurance that when in the state of mourning for one’s failures God would be there to comfort and to restore. The benefit of sorrow and repentance is the development of a right attitude about oneself. The name for the realization of one’s log-size flaws is called humility. Gentleness towards others is the desired outcome. It is realizing that others deserve as much understanding and compassion as oneself. The practice of this divine virtue is equivalent to a mortgage for earthly property, which property God promises to give. Of course, sowing righteousness or justice produces a harvest of satisfaction. The motivation to do so comes in the state of being hungry for it. This kind of hunger is a combined result of the poverty and guilt, a poverty of right relationships because of sin, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, and the like.

What is amazing about knowing God is the fact that it is a relationship based on God’s demonstrated mercy, compassion, and loving-kindness. The evidence of our experienced relationship with God is a character formed in the His likeness, that is God being merciful, compassionate, and kind. This also we find in Luke’s version of Jesus sermon:

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

Here the adjective “merciful” describes more than a “state of being” it is a way of acting towards others. To be merciful is to show mercy as God has demonstrated it to oneself.

According to the perspective of Matthew’s gospel, the degree to which our lives exemplify God’s mercy is the degree to which we are perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

The Bible is full of examples of mercy. The model of God’s mercy is the Exodus, which was the eventful emancipation of the Jews from poverty and misery of slavery in Pharaoh’s Egypt, and its capstone is the redemption of the Gentiles from bondage to the evils of sin. The dessert of divine justice for human crime (sin) against the law of God was completely satisfied by the sacrificed life of Jesus. This is the supreme example of God’s mercy mediated through one sinless man, Jesus.

Yet, Jesus demonstrated the kind of mercy God expects the blessed citizens of His kingdom to give. The gospels show Jesus healing the sick, comforting the bereaved, and even feeding the hungry. He was kind towards lepers, prostitutes, and IRS agents of his day. He sought to bring them into the righteousness of God’s kingdom through compassion rather than condemnation. Like the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-36), Jesus went out of his way to bind up the wounded and to facilitate their restoration to physical and spiritual health. The Spirit by which he accomplished it then is the same God who is accomplishing it today.

When Jesus was instructing his audience about the currency of mercy, he may have had in mind more than the biblical canon. He may have had in view some popular extra-canonical texts as well. Consider the following teaching in the Testament of Zebulun:

“And now, my children, I bid you to keep the commands of the Lord, and to show mercy to your neighbors, and to have compassion towards all, not towards men only, but also towards beasts. For all this thing’s sake the Lord blessed me, and when all my brethren were sick, I escaped without sickness, for the Lord knows the purposes of each. Have, therefore, compassion in your hearts, my children, because even as a man doeth to his neighbor, even so also will the Lord do to him. For the sons of my brethren were sickening and were dying on account of Joseph, because they showed no mercy in their hearts; but my sons were preserved without sickness, as ye know. And when I was in the land of Canaan, by the sea-coast, I made a catch of fish for Jacob my father. (5:1-5).

“I was the first to make a boat to sail upon the sea, for the Lord gave me understanding and wisdom therein. And I let down a rudder behind it, and I stretched a sail upon another upright piece of wood in the midst. And I sailed therein along the shores, catching fish for the house of my father until we came to Egypt. And through compassion I shared my catch with every stranger. And if a man were a stranger, or sick, or aged, I boiled the fish, and dressed them well, and offered them to all men, as every man had need, grieving with and having compassion upon them. Wherefore also the Lord satisfied me with abundance of fish when catching fish; for he that shares with his neighbor receives manifold more from the Lord. For five years I caught fish and gave thereof to every man whom I saw, and sufficed for all the house of my father. And in the summer I caught fish, and in the winter I kept sheep with my brethren. (6:1-8)

“I saw a man in distress through nakedness in winter-time, and had compassion upon him, and stole away a garment secretly from my father’s house, and gave it to him who was in distress. Do [the same], my children; from that which God bestows upon you, show compassion and mercy without hesitation to all men, and give to every man with a good heart. And if ye have not the wherewithal to give to him that needs, have compassion for him in bowels of mercy…. Because also in the last days God will send His compassion on the earth, and wherever He finds bowels of mercy He dwells in him. For in the degree in which a man hath compassion upon his neighbors, in the same degree hath the Lord also upon him.” (7:1-4; 8:13).

Another interesting statement is found in an ancient Hebrew work by the title Sirach. There are some significant variations in a number of translations, but the following is one version of the statement:

“He that practices kindness offers fine flour, and he that doeth mercy sacrifices a thank-offering.” (35:2)

This statement seems reminiscent of biblical texts like “I desired mercy and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6) or possibly “To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3)

What is certain is that any one person in Jesus’ audience would have recalled one of those statements when Jesus later utters the following quote, “Go learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice’.” (Matthew. 9:13 & 12:7)

The second part of Jesus’ sermon point under consideration may be put this way: Blessed are those who gain in what they trade. Because they give mercy they also receive mercy. They also receive many other benefits. According to Zebulun, God threw in a health plan and a food distributorship.

More important, God regards giving mercy as an act of spiritual sacrifice, a sacrifice of loyalty and thanksgiving.

It is God himself first gives humanity the currency of mercy, compassion, and loving-kindness. God invests mercy in us so that we can trade it with others. Being a good Father and capitalist, He expects a return on His investment. He also expects us to go and do likewise (Luke 10:37).

Previous Sermon on the Mount posts:

Sermon on the Mount: Any Relevance Today,
From Weeping to Laughing,
Property Rights.
Sermon on the Mount: Spiritual Food

Sermon on the Mount: Spiritual Food

By Daniel Downs

In my previous three posts, the relevance of the Sermon given by Jesus on Mount Gerezim was discussed. It is still important today because of God’s concern for both those who are spiritually and materially poor. The blessed are those who discover God and His welfare plan, which includes gaining a challenging yet comforting coach and divine rights to property. (See Sermon on the Mount: Any Relevance Today, From Weeping to Laughing, and Property Rights).

Jesus also taught that spiritual food would produce a high quality of life. In this part of the sermon, Jesus focuses on the quality of life the blessed are expected to live. As recorded in the gospel of Matthew, he said:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Mt. 5:6 NASB)

Here Jesus uses metaphorical language. Just as natural it is to feel hunger pains. It is natural for the blessed of God to strongly desire the presence of God. In a world filled every kind of immorality and injustice as well as arguments to justify them, it is impossible for God’s people to be unaffected. Because of this reality, thirsting for God’s righteousness is as natural as thirsting for cold water amidst a scorching summer day. Within our daily struggle with unrighteousness and our seeking first His righteousness, we find the presence of God the enabling power to live the way of Christ.

It is in this interactive relationship with God that His righteousness develops in us.

Notice, however, Jesus did not say blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God’s presence. It is in seeking the righteousness of God that His presence is experienced. That is what Paul meant when he wrote:

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:6-7 NASB)

Yet, one of the rewards of our faith is knowing God. A real relationship is not based on belief or faith alone but experiencing the presence of the other person. How can we have a relationship with another (i.e., parent, child, spouse, friend) without being with, communicating with, and doing things with the other person? It is no different with our heavenly Father. The obvious difference is physically seeing God, but waning of feelings is normal in all relationships.

The calling of the prophets provides us with the best example. For many of the Hebrew prophets had visions and dreams in which saw and heard God is a tangible way. They saw, heard, and felt God in a physiological manner. Overtime their descriptions of received revelation were limited to hearing the voice or word of the Lord. The reason is the prophets like us live a spiritual life through the flesh in a physical world where God is not physically visible. Being satiated with the materiality of nature is the human norm. In order for God to acclimatize them to His presence and will, they had to become familiar with Him in a physical way. Once familiar with God, they only needed to perceive the words of His voice. They otherwise lived according by a commitment to God by faith.

One important caveat is the fact that Jesus is God’s physical revelation of His nature and will for our life and future. There is no excuse for immorality, injustice, deception, or unbelief in God.

Nevertheless, the promise to those who do belief and follow Jesus’ way of righteousness is fulfillment. God does keep His word. When we keep our part of the covenant, God will be able to fulfill His part. Because He does, our hunger and thirst for His righteous is satisfied. This is the same spiritual food Jesus ate (Jo. 4:24).

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live….
Isa. 55:1-3a (ESV)

Changing the Language of Public Discourse: The I-ARI Institute

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Israel is trapped in the defeatist and self-effacing rhetoric of contemporary public discourse. I am happy to report, however, that with the help of some very talented and politically astute colleagues in Israel and America, I have founded the Israel-America Renaissance Institute, and one of its functions is to overcome this lethal character of contemporary public discourse. What’s wrong with it?

It’s boring, its weak, and it allows the enemy to set the terms and rules of engagement. Its rhetoric of “peace,” “security,” and “democracy” is self-effacing. The word “peace” appeals to the weak, people who fear violent death. Fear of violent death is most prominent in regimes that have forsaken their spiritual ideas and ideals—regimes steeped in materialism where the Mall and the sports arena have taken the place of the church.

The “peace” people seek in such regimes means nothing more than comfortable self-preservation­—security plus commodious living. Peace and security have become the shibboleths of the declining secular democratic state.

Israel’s government fixates on security. Its timid and pedestrian politicians emphasize security because there’s nothing controversial or distinctively Jewish about this mantra. Security is the legitimate concern of any country. You don’t have to think out of the box. But has Israel’s fixation on security made her more secure? Has it elevated and energized Israel’s morale—the first ingredient of a nation’s ability to defend itself? I don’t think so.

Security is not a defining national goal, one that distinguishes Israel from any other country. It’s not a positive goal that inspires people with national pride. It doesn’t strengthen our ancient faith and fighting spirit.

The one thing lacking in Israel is a goal that systematically invigorates the nation’s collective memory and political creativity, that enhances her identity as the world’s one and only Jewish commonwealth—the nation that gave mankind the Book of Books, the Torah. Yes, it was the Torah that liberated men and nations from idolatry and paganism. It was the Torah, by its lapidary sentence in Genesis that man is created in the Image of God that elevated humanity and proclaimed the moral unity of the human race denied by Islam. This should be Israel’s message, conveyed quietly, as on cat’s paws.

While Islam’s arrogant leaders trumpet Allah, Israel’s leaders should unpretentiously refer to God’s sacred Covenant with the Patriarchs and quote the benign teachings of Isaiah and other prophets. They should softly remind Jews and Gentiles of the centrality of Eretz Yisrael, both in God’s Covenant with the Patriarchs and in the teachings of the Prophets, and they should project a partnership of Jews and Gentiles in building the Jerusalem Temple. Nor is this all.

Israel’s leaders should speak and act in a manner that does justice to what Gentile scholars and statesmen have said about the Jewish People, for example by Harvard graduate John Adams, the second President of the United States and perhaps the most learned of America’s Founding Fathers, who fondly declared: “The Jews have done more to civilize men than any other Nation. They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited the earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a bauble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily than any other Nation, ancient or modern.”

Of course this praise should be said to Jews, but it will be heard abroad, and it will inspire Israel’s Christian friends and perhaps make Muslims stammer and stutter.

Further, Israel’s leaders should sometimes quote the presidents of America’s colonial colleges, such as Ezra Stiles of Yale and Samuel Langdon of Harvard, who were learned in Hebrew, conversed with Rabbis, and regarded the Hebraic Republic of antiquity as an excellent model of government. In fact, prominent Catholic and Protestant Hebraists in Europe praised the laws of the Hebraic Republic as the wisest and most just in history. The great English polymath and Hebraist John Sheldon proposed that Britain scrap its parliament and substitute the Sanhedrin!

Surely discreet references to such historical facts would enhance Jewish national pride on the one hand, and disconcert Israel’s enemies on the other. And it will also bolster Christians in America harassed by the politically-motivated atheism currently sweeping that country—with the encouragement of a post-American president whose left-wing supporters are undermining the American Constitution and trashing what Lincoln deemed the heart and soul of America—her theologically inspired Declaration of Independence.

I have virtually finished a book on the subject, showing that Christian Hebraism profoundly influenced America’s foundational documents, and I believe Israel owes it to America to help her restore her ancient faith. This is a major purpose of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI) mentioned earlier and which I am currently heading.

We shall have more to say about our Institute in future articles. But I want to reiterate one of its goals: to change the subversive language of contemporary public discourse, as we have begun to do in this article. We want to encourage Israel and America to go on the ideological offensive against the enemies of our God-given rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—immutable rights proclaimed in America’s Declaration of Independence whose authors were educated in colleges that emphasized Hebraic studies in order to better understand the Bible of Israel.

The Israel-American Renassaince Institute website is at

Noah’s Ark Being Rebuilt In The Netherlands

An industrious contractor is rebuilding Noah’s Ark. It’s not clear whether Johan Huibers has heard from God, but he has witnessed several floods overtaking his hometown of Dordrecht. With the onslaught of global warming, flood waters keep rising to ever higher levels.

Huibers claims he is not only concerned about rising flood waters. He also wants people to know about the true and living God.

While Huibers envisions floods of curious people coming to tour the Ark, local officials and business owners are seeing visions of economic growth. Huibers’ profits from a previous ark project were over $1 million, which leads one to believe that the town folk’s visions were inspired.

Tourism is a good thing. If making a part of biblical history real to people generates tourist trade, the gracious God, who delights in the prosperity of His people, probably won’t mind some who are not to benefit as well.

Maybe, they will also get a glimpse of the eternal light that will profit throughout eternity. That seems to be the ultimate goal for rebuilding Noah’s Ark.

If interested, the New York Times report about Huiber’s project can be read at

Gov. Kaisch & Lt. Gov. Taylor On CSI Ohio: The Common Sense Initiative

In March, Gov. John R. Kasich won his second major legislative victory. This was a major step toward cutting government red tape and tearing down barriers to job creation by signing into law Senate Bill 2, legislation establishing CSI Ohio: the Common Sense Initiative.

S.B. 2 (Hughes) essentially codifies Kasich’s first executive order signed on January 10, placing Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in charge of CSI Ohio and developing a process for holding state agencies accountable for promoting flexibility, balance, transparency and consistency as rules and regulations impacting businesses are developed or renewed.

“Seeking the right balance of regulations that makes Ohio businesses competitive while protecting the health and safety of our citizens is our goal and this bill certainly helps us accomplish that,” Kasich said. “Ultimately this is a huge victory for job creators who want to locate, grow, expand and create jobs right here in Ohio.”

S.B. 2 received broad bipartisan support following a 32-to-1 vote in the Ohio Senate on February 23 and an 81-to-14 vote in the Ohio House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 2.

Highlights of Senate Bill 2 include:

Business Impact Analysis: CSI Ohio will require agencies to adequately address the purpose of each proposed rule or regulation and the adverse impact to business.

JCARR: Allows the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review to invalidate proposed rules when agencies fail to justify a regulatory benefit.

Customer Service: CSI Ohio will require state agencies to develop customer service standards and integrate them into the job descriptions and performance evaluations of employees.

In a previous interview, Taylor responding to the newly passed bill, said:

“This is common sense and it is encouraging to see the legislature support CSI Ohio and our process of cutting through the red tape and eliminating burdensome, costly and duplicative rules and regulations,” Taylor said. “This will help us revive Ohio’s economy and improve our business community’s ability to put their job-creating ideas into action.”

On Saturday May 14, the Business Journal Daily also interviewed Lt. Gov. Taylor about CSI and its reception by Ohio business. A video of the interview can be watched by clicking here.

Thanksgiving, Roots of Freedom

Thanksgiving is a unique national religious holiday. It was the first religious celebration for the settling and founding of the American state. As noted in previous posts, the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation was in 1619 at the Berkeley Plantation state. The plantations were states because they formed civil societies based on natural law. Later in colonial history, the plantations began forming constitutional forms of governance as well as a confederation. In 1776, all plantation states came together to create the United States of America and to form the first national constitution. All of which, conformed to the Law of Nations.

All of the plantation states were formed based on two-part compacts. Like our national compact consisting of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, the plantation states (colonies) were founded by a written covenant. The Plymouth Combination is the most famous version.

Although Thanksgiving became a national holiday in the 1960s, there have perpetual proclamations like the Berkeley Plantation Proclamation and many national proclamations like the Continental Thanksgiving Proclamation, for example President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. Throughout American history, each and every Thanksgiving Proclamation has been a call for collective gratitude to the biblical God with whom the governed consented to covenant with at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Therefore, it behooves Americans to continue to repent of wrongs done against God and to offer thanks for helping our ancestors to gain the freedom and inherent rights. Like Esau of biblical history, we have in large measure forfeited our birthright for bread and circus. It might be a good time to reflect on how to regain that birthright of independence as defined in the natural law Declaration of Independence and the Bible.

As a starting point, we might consider the Proclamation given by President George Washington:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted’ for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Washington also was known to preach biblical sermons to the troops when he though necessary during the Revolutionary War.

Sermon on the Mount : Property Rights

By Daniel Downs

As mentioned in the first post, the gospels of Matthew and Luke contain two versions of a sermon proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth most likely from Mount Gerizim. This is where Moses told half of the tribal elders of Israel to reiterate the blessings for the keeping the law as the Israelites passed from the wilderness into the promised land (Deuteronomy 27:11-12; 28:1-14).

In the Sermon, Jesus pronounces blessings to the poor who faithfully follow God’s way. Those who do so become rich in two ways: First, their relationship with God makes them full of His presence and power enabling them to live according to the divine law. Jesus’ apostle Paul called it being filled with the Spirit. (Read his letter to the Ephesians) Second, they gain legal rights to the material and spiritual benefits of citizenship in the Kingdom of God. This means they have access to resources of the Creator. (See first post titled “Sermon on the Mount: Any Relevance Today?)

Jesus proceeds by pronouncing that those who mourn and weep will laugh again. In the world, problems arise whether because of mistakes, wrongdoing, injustices, natural disasters, or other forms of loss. Like Job, God comforts and restores. (See the second post titled Sermon on the Mount: From Weeping to Laughing)

The next blessing pronounced by Jesus is only recorded in the gospel of Matthew. It goes like this:

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5: 5).

I can think of only two reasons why Luke didn’t include it in his gospel. One possible reason is it was never part of Jesus’ sermon. The author of Matthew’s gospel included it because he was a Jew who had been trained to regard humility as a godly trait. Even though this blessing may not have been part of Jesus’ sermon, it was expected of those faithful to the law of God. Another possible reason is this: Being a citizen of the Roman Empire, Luke was trained to regard meekness as weakness. Romans regarded themselves as members of a superior race and culture than most others, for example, citizens of the always subjugated people of Palestine. This is the more likely reason.

The uniqueness of this part of Jesus Sermon is not just its singular mention in Matthew’s gospel; it is more exceptional because it was a quote taken from Psalms 37, which was itself the summation of a law of God:

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret because of him who prosper in his way or because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it only leads to doing evil. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. Yet a little while and the wicked will be no more; you will look carefully for his place and he will not be. But the meek will inherit the earth and will delight themselves in abundance” (7-11).

The above verses point the familiar reader back to Exodus when the Jews were delivered from the injustices of slavery in Egypt. The Jews were not forced into slavery just as a punishment for any wrong done while in Egypt. Rather, it was because they were foreigners whose population greatly increased. There large population made a paranoid dictator fearful about their allegiance. That is, Pharaoh feared they might join Egypt’s enemies to attacking and conquering Pharaoh and his empire. The easiest way to eliminate such a potential threat was to control all aspects of their lives, which meant to enslave them. (Exodus 1:8-11)   In this context, waiting on the Lord meant to continue being faithful to God and covenant law while waiting for God to execute justice. However, God told Abraham the Jews would be enslaved for 400 years in Egypt for two reasons: (1) their sins would lead them into it, and (2) the divine justice concerning the unrelenting sins of the Canaanites would take 400 years for completion. After which time, God promised the freedom of Jews and their right to possess the land previously promised to Abraham and to his descendents. (Genesis 15:13-16; Joshua 24:14; Deuteronomy 9:5-6; 12:29-31; 18:9-12)

The moral of the story is waiting in the right way leads to inheriting the promised land.

Inheriting and possessing land over which God reigns also will result in peace, freedom, and prosperity (Deuteronomy 7:12-14; 12:10; 25:19; 28:1-14). Because this promise included all faithful citizens of God’s reign, the collective or societal benefit of protection from enemies was implied. Yet, the individual aspect of the implied benefit was personal space within the land. Inclusive within this landed space was peace, a benefit of unhindered movement resulting from societal protection and prosperity; a related benefit was freedom of movement and work resulting from protection. Because God’s law required the promised land to be apportioned to each family according to need, title to that land was part of the inherited possession (Numbers 33:51-54). Prosperity didn’t equate to being as wealthy as Pharaohs, Caesars, Herods, or other tyrants. Prosperity meant having enough to meet the need of family and self as well as an abundance for tithes, offerings, showing hospitality to strangers, and helping others as need arose.

Jesus’ apostle Paul refers to the same when writing to the believers in Corinth about wealth and helping those suffering lack in Jerusalem because of famine. In the context of redemptive investments, Paul states that Jesus became poor that they (Corinthians and all believers) might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). He then defines what he meant by rich:

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having sufficiency for every need, you may have an abundance for every good work” (9:8).

By good work, Paul meant investing in the needy believers in Jerusalem. By doing so, they were cheerfully fulfilling kingdom law and increasing future returns all in the spirit of meekness. (Leviticus 25:35-37; Proverbs 19:17)

The ancient model of meekness was Moses (Numbers 12:3). Yet, Moses stood against Pharaoh face to face as God commanded. Moses led the Jews and others out of Egypt toward the promised land. Moses gave Israel the law of God. Moses led the warriors of Israel. Moses commanded the execution of Jews who had rebelled against the command and law of God. Moses interceded on behalf of the people in the face of God anger and judgment. Moses cared deeply about all of Israel. Moses trained Joshua for future leadership. Moses stood up to the opposition of jealous family members and others. However, the meekness of Moses was not defined by his courage. It was his caring and especially his obedience to God. God defended Moses against all opposition as Moses turned to God. That is, Moses trusted God. He trusted God because God carried out His word. Therefore, he was faithful to God. As a result, Moses waited on God. The one exception when he was angry about the faithless complaining of the people Moses went beyond God’s instruction. God used this as an object lesson by forbidding Moses from leading the Israel into the promised land. (Numbers 20:1-12)

In other words, not waiting on God leads to wrongdoing resulting in adverse consequences no matter who you are.

Notice, inherent in the English word “wait” consists of two implications: (1) it refers to duration of time during which a person waits for another person to respond, act or fulfill an agreement, or vise versa. (2) It more importantly refers to service to others i.e., to wait on a king, waiting on tables, etc. Just as Moses fulfilled both, those who heard Jesus’ sermon would have understood the same applied themselves. Waiting on the Lord meant waiting on God to act to enrich their lives with His wonderful presence and power, to comfort them during time of suffering, to lead them into possession of the benefits of the promise land.

The same audience also would have understood the purpose of God’s law of healing. The meek could not possess the earth if hindered by debilitating diseases. Consequently, citizens of God’s kingdom were to expect good health because they faithfully obeyed the law. (Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 7:12, 15) As the law promised good health, God also promised healing even if new diseases occurred. That is why healing was a prominent part of Jesus’ messianic work; the obedient were being restored in order to possess all of the benefits of the promise land.

So it is to be expected today.

The blessings of citizenship in God’s kingdom by covenant through faith in Jesus are promised to all. It is the fulfillment of God’s word to Abraham that through his descendents all peoples would be blessed. The Torah, songs of Israel (Psalms), and the proclamations of the Prophets contain the definition of the intended blessings. In his sermon from Mount Gerizim, Jesus reiterates the blessing. (Matthew 19:27-29; Luke 18:28-30; Mark 10:28-30)

Texas Textbook Battle Over Religion, Is it relevant to Ohioans?

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) is soon expected to vote on a resolution brought by Texas citizen and former local Texas School Board Member Randy Rives. The resolution aims to correct an anti-Christian, pro-Islam bias that exists in some Texas textbooks. The resolution would require textbook publishers to maintain balance in regards to religion. The textbooks with the claimed bias were used between 1999-2003, but it is possible that some of these books are still used in classrooms across the state. Mr. Rives worked diligently to produce appendices to this “Balanced Teaching of Religious Groups” resolution, showing the citations that support this resolution in great detail.

Amazingly, liberal groups are opposed to the Board looking into this and ensuring Texas textbooks are not skewed against Christianity. Liberty Institute works to prevent religious discrimination and is committed to stating the facts in our textbooks.

We will be at the Texas State Board of Education hearing on Friday testifying in support of efforts to protect religious balance and prevent anti-Christian bias in our textbooks. Discrimination by the government on the basis of religion is wrong. We should be thankful we have an elected Board which will actually do its due diligence, represent Texas parents, and ensure that what is taught is not discriminatory.

Why is this of importance to Ohioans? Christians and all other people of religion have a Constitutional right to a religious education and especially to those aspects of our local, state and national history that are religious. Secularists have been seeking to eradicate that heritage and the pro-Muslim bias is suitable to that end. Religious Jews do not because of the Judeo in the Judeo-Christian heritage Ohioans and all Americans should possess.
September 23, 2010

Source: Liberty Institute,September 23, 2010

From Weeping to Laughing : Sermon on the Mount

In the two versions of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his disciples about grief and sorrow. In the version recorded in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (5:4). Luke’s gospel interprets Jesus as saying, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (6:21b). Matthew’s gospel interprets Jesus saying from the internal process of grieving while the gospel of Luke depicts the same as an outward expression.

The question is this: what the heck is Jesus talking about? Is he speaking about grief due to sin? Or is he referring to the loss of a loved through death? Or is he alluding to something else?

The context of both versions seems to point to grief over sin. In both gospels, what Jesus says after the beatitudes contradicts the status quo view of right and wrong. In effect, the practical requirements of righteousness as expressed in the Sermon reveals how most people then and now fail to measure up. It is what Paul meant when he said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Here are a few examples from the gospel of Matthew: Jesus said, “Don’t worry about your life-food, shelter, clothing, transportation, money” (6:25-34). How about “do not have a savings account, an IRA, or 401K, or the like” (6:19-21). Here is another commandment: “Love your enemies; pray not for their destruction but rather pray for God to bless them”. (6:43-47). Here the easy one: “Be perfect as God is perfect” (6:48). How are you measuring up?

Another contextual clue precedes Jesus’ saying about mourning and weeping. Blessed are the poor both in spirit and otherwise refers to the lack of a right relationship with God. What does being poor in spirit mean? It means not being full of the Spirit. If a person is not full of the Spirit of God it usually means that person is full of something else. In writings of the Apostle Paul, the Greek word used for the something else is sarkikos. It is usually translated as carnal, natural, fleshly, or worldly. It actually means ungodly or behavior uncharacteristic of Christ. The essence of sin then is living contrary to God’s way, which the way Jesus teaches in the Sermon..

One of the best examples of a person grieving over sin is found in Luke’s gospel. Jesus presents a parable of two different types of people praying in the Temple. One is a Pharisee and the other a wretched tax collector. The Pharisee tells God about his righteous deeds while the tax collector cries out to God for mercy. Ashamed by the realization of his evil ways, “the tax collector was unwilling to lift up his head toward heaven. Instead, he pounds his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner'” (18:9-14).

Another good example is the woman who repented of her sins by washing Jesus feet with tears and wiping his feet with her hair, which took place in the house of a Pharisee who had invited Jesus to his home for dinner. Entering the house of a Pharisee uninvited was pretty risky. Sinners were not allowed but to allow a immoral woman to touch you even more grievous. But, as Jesus pointed out, his host failed to perform the customary purity ritual of feet washing, but the sinful woman did. She washed his feet with tears of sorrow over her own sins. She demonstrated unusually humility when she wiped his feet with her hair. A woman’s hair represented the glory of her beauty. This unnamed woman did all of it as a silent cry for God’s forgiveness. She was not disappointed. (Luke 7:36-50).

The term mourning usually depicts loss of some sort. The loss of wealth or possession certainly is something about which people mourn. From the viewpoint of political economy, poverty more often than not is the result of sin. Often it is the result of an abuse of power and a result of greed. Communist Russia (USSR) impoverished a majority of its people by its empire building efforts around the world. I have heard of people being impoverished in China and Muslim countries only because of their Christian beliefs. United States government is also impoverishing many citizens by means of its ever-increasing debt spending and, to a lesser extent, its sanctioning of corporate globalism. American empire building is the reason for much of the enormous national debt. Poverty may also be the result of an impoverished mentality. The story of the ancient post-Exodus Jews present one example. Many second and third generation Americans who lived by government welfare is another. Sometimes poverty is the result of illness or similar tragedy. That is why the American founders agreed to the idea of a right “to the pursuit of happiness” rather than a guaranteed right to prosperity.

Because the blessed poor have access to the kingdom of God, their wealth in material things and in spirit is supplied by God. And God delights in the prosperity of His people. (1 Corinthians 8:9; 9:6-11; Ex. 30:5-10)

The vagueness of Jesus’ saying about mourning and weeping most likely was meant to encompass all human grief and sorrow. As the prophet Isaiah foresaw it, Jesus bore all our grief, sorrows, and infirmities (Isaiah 53). Not just for our sins, but for our loss of loved one simply through death, the loss of jobs and wealth, the loss of homes due to some disaster, the loss of health resulting in other losses as well. Therefore, God comforts those whose mourning is directed toward Him. Relatives and friends simply being present while grieving the loss of a spouse, parent, or child is a comfort. Being there proves that not all is lost–not all life is lost. In the kingdom of God, the expectant hope is that one day the grieving will one day be together with their loved one who died. That hope is reinforced when God is manifestedly presence during such a time.

Some biblical examples include a Shunammite’s women’s grief over the death of her son and God raising her son from the dead through the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-37); Jesus raises the dead son of widow in Nain because he saw her weeping and empathized with her loss (Luke 7:11-15); a woman who had suffered a hemorrhage 12 year and spent all her wealth attempting to get healed was instantly healed of her terrible affliction (Mark 5:25-34); and ten men who suffered the extremely painful and crippling disease leprosy cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them and Jesus healed them (Luke 17:11-19).

When people in the kingdom lose jobs, health, or wealth, God makes them laugh. Those taught by God learn to laugh at adversity. When God heals through whatever process, God gives people a reason to laugh. When couples who were unable have children give birth to their first child because of answered prayer, they laugh. (Genesis 17:17; 18:13; 21:1-8) When God provides resources during times of loss, God gives people a reason to laugh. When loss happens, people who seek God find a reprieve from the anxiety of uncertainty. A joyful heart (internal) is like medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Laughter (external) proceeds out of such a heart (Matthew 15:18). Because Jesus is the Great Physician, those who weep now will laugh. (Luke 4:23; 5:31; 6:2b).

By Daniel Downs

Can America Restore Its Judeo-Christian Heritage?

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Do you know that the American Declaration of Independence is a theocratic as well as a political document? Do you know, as Lincoln knew, that the Declaration contains the philosophy of the American Constitution?

The signers of that revolutionary document justified their rebellion against the laws of Great Britain by appealing to a Higher Law, “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Judging, however, from the Senate confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan, neither of these new Supreme Court justices understands or agrees that only God can endow the American people with the rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” and make them “inalienable.” Mr. Obama and his appointees do not understand that without this Higher Law doctrine, the Declaration’s long list of grievances against the British Crown would be nothing more than arbitrary expressions of discontent having no moral justification.

In the absence of that Higher Law, however, the Court can rule that “everything is justiciable,” including those inalienable God-given rights. These smug, know-nothing individuals would strip the Constitution of any moral foundation and open the door to unlimited government or tyranny.

Americans needs reminding that the laws and institutions prescribed in their Constitution were designed to preclude the evils enumerated in the Declaration. The Framers of the Constitution effectively translated into political and institutional terms the theological manifesto of that document.[i] Yet, no one deemed the Government established under the Constitution a theocracy—quite apart from the First Amendment’s clause regarding religion. That Amendment, as initially understood, simply prohibited Congress from establishing a State religion. Revolted by the example of England, the American Founding Fathers refused to sacralize the modern nation-state, which they deemed powerful enough without investing it with religious authority. America’s monotheistic culture was opposed to a state religion.

That culture was rooted in the Judeo-Christian heritage, in which not the State but the People are sovereign under God.[ii] If we think within the context of such a culture and maintain intellectual detachment from our present culture of Triumphant Secularism, it will be obvious that the First Amendment does not prevent Congress from passing laws supportive of the ethical monotheism or universal moral principles of the Declaration.

The ethical monotheism of early America was of paramount significance. Many early American statesmen and educators were schooled in Hebraic civilization. The second President of the United States, John Adams, a Harvard graduate and signer of the Declaration, had this to say of the Jewish people:

The Jews have done more to civilize men than any other nation…. They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited the earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a bauble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the Globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily than any other Nation, ancient or modern.[iii]

The curriculum at Harvard, like those of other early American colleges and universities, was designed by learned and liberal men of “Old Testament” persuasion. Harvard president Increase Mather (1685-1701) was an ardent Hebraist. His writings contain numerous quotations from the Talmud as well as from the works of Sa’adia Gaon, Rashi, Maimonides and other classic Jewish commentators.

Yale University president Ezra Stiles readily discoursed on the Mishna and Talmud with visiting rabbinical authorities. Hebrew and the study of Hebraic laws and institutions were an integral part of Yale’s as well as of Harvard’s curriculum. Much the same may be said of King’s College (later Columbia University), William and Mary, Rutgers, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Brown University. Hebrew learning was then deemed a basic element of liberal education.

This attitude was not merely academic. On May 31, 1775, almost on the eve of the American Revolution, Harvard president Samuel Langdon, addressing the Congress of Massachusetts Bay, declared: “Every nation … has a right to set up over itself any form of government which to it may appear most conducive to its common welfare. The civil polity of Israel is doubtless an excellent general model.” (Emphasis added.)

Although Jefferson was no admirer of the Hebrew Bible, he framed the Declaration with a view to galvanizing the Bible-reading public in support of the Revolution. When he became President he supported Baptist churches.

During the colonial and constitution-making period, the Americans, especially the Puritans, adapted various Hebraic laws for their own governance. The legislation of New Haven, for example, was based on the premise that “the judicial laws of God, as they were delivered by Moses … being neither … ceremonial, nor ha[ving] any reference to Canaan, shall … generally bind all offenders, till they be branched out into particulars hereafter.”

Of course, the Jewish roots of the American Constitution should not obscure the fact that America is first and foremost a Christian nation (Barack Obama to the contrary notwithstanding). This was confirmed in a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court as late as 1892! In the case of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, Justice Brewer wrote:

? If we examine the constitutions of the various states, we find in them a constant recognition of religious obligations. Every Constitution of every one of the … states contains language which, either directly or by clear implication, recognizes a profound reverence for religion, and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the wellbeing of the community.

? Even the Constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual, contains in the First Amendment a declaration common to the constitutions of all the states, as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”… [and yet] also provides in Article I, Section 7, a provision common to many constitutions, that the executive shall have ten days (Sundays excepted) within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill. There is no dissonance in these declarations. … They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation…. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people.

? In People v. Ruggles (1811), Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said [in a case involving blasphemous publications]: “The people of this state, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity as the rule of their faith and practice, and to scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order. . . . The free, equal, and undisturbed enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious subject, is granted and secured; but to revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community is an abuse of that right.

? Nor are we bound by any expressions in the Constitution … either not to punish at all, or to punish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the Grand Lama, and for this plain reason, that the case [before us] assumes that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.

Chancellor Kent’s denigration of Muhammad and the Grand Lama is of course shocking. But we were speaking of the Judeo-Christian heritage underlying the Declaration and the Constitution.

This heritage of “natural rights” or of “natural law” has been eviscerated by the academic doctrine of moral relativism and its political counterpart the Progressive Movement. Although the institutional structure of the Constitution remains largely intact, the Supreme Court’s amoral and government-expanding interpretation of various constitutional amendments has spawned unfettered freedom of expression and indiscriminate equality, which have vulgarized and secularized America and buried the meritocracy that was to coexist with democracy. America now has a leveling and meaningless or “evolutionary constitution.” The immutable “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” have been replaced by historical relativism. Evolution has produced a leviathan, a “nanny state,” dispensing “entitlements” which not only stifles entrepreneurship. Rewards without effort undermine the sense of shame.

This is the smug, know-nothing agenda of America’s first anti-American president. Can America overcome this degradation and restore its Judeo-Christian heritage?


[i] I do not ignore the influence of Locke and Montesquieu, whose mentality, however, is hardly conceivable apart from the Biblical tradition.

[ii] This paragraph (except for references to the Torah) is indebted to Professor Will Morrisey in an email to the author. I am especially grateful for his reference to the cultural aspect of the First Amendment.

[iii] Cited in Pathways to the Torah (Jerusalem: Aish HaTorah Publications, 1988), p. A6.2. See Paul Eidelberg, The Philosophy of the American Constitution: A Reinterpretation of the Intentions of the Founding Fathers (New York: Free Press, 1968; University Press of America, 1988, Appendix 2.

Source: Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, September 6, 2010.