Tag Archives: God

Picture Christmas

A picture can speak a thousand words. This picture proclaims the complete meaning of Christmas. It is God’s message through the baby born in a manager. That manager was located in the city of King David, Bethlehem, Israel.

The wise men saw the star prophesied by Balaam. It was an astronomical star within a nearby constellation. This particular constellation and its brightest star represented the coming messiah, who would rule the world. As God revealed it to Balaam:

"I see him, but not now;
 I behold, but not near;
 A star shall forth from Jacob,
 A scepter shall rise from Israel."

Those wise men followed the brilliant star that symbolized God’s new born king who would reign forever. That is why they brought him presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those were gifts only given by ambassadors of other countries to honor kings and other royalty. According to one scholar, the wise men were well known ambassadors from Rome’s rival empire Parthia, which was east of Israel.

What did they do when they found the baby who had been born in the manger and wrapped in an old wick from Israel’s national menorah. That menorah was so big that when it was lite its light illuminated all of Jerusalem and beyond. Those men with their military entourage bowed down to honor the king-messiah who was the light of the world. In his light all humanity would be blessed with the knowledge of God and with eternal life.

Before this could become reality, the cute baby would have to grow up and live a sinless life. He would have to fulfill God word and will without compromise. And in the end, Jesus would have to suffer consequences of humanity’s breaking God law. Those consequences include pain, injustice, hate, mockery, betrayal, and death. The wages of sin is death. Just consider the world around us. Consider the reason for divorce, abandonment, alienation, isolation, lying, and division … anything but unity, peace and good. And, notice what was not mentioned: sickness and physical death. Death is more than a biological end. It continues beyond the grave.

Furthermore, let’s consider the kind of death new born king would suffer for humanity. Those who committed crimes against the Roman Empire ruled by Caesar were severely punished. Individuals, groups, even village and cities who rebelled against the Roman rule were either killed or enslaved. Leaders of insurrections were usually crucified. Because Jesus was accused of insurrection by Jewish officials and because they demanded the death penalty, Pilate had him crucified. What was his crime according to Rome’s local overlord, Pilate: He was king of the Jews. 

God brought Jesus into the world to be sacrificed for the sins of all people. He suffered every form of punishment for every human being. All have sinned, and deserve punishment. Whether for a little lie or a habit of lying, for stealing a toy or robbing a bank, for immorality of every kind, for lying in wait to seduce someone or lying in wait harm, for killing an animal for fun or murdering a fellow human, Jesus suffered the slow death by execution on a cross for all crimes of all people for all time.

The good news is Jesus conquered death in all of its forms. God raised him from the dead. Just as those who saw the empty tomb, ate with him and received his instructions after rising from the dead, and who saw him ascend into heaven, we can know the son of God who lives forever more. Because he lives, we too can know God, experience His love, His forgiveness, and His life. To have a relationship with God is eternal life. That life begins now.

by Daniel Downs

Persons, Families & Jobs

By Daniel Downs

It would be ease to say there are only two types of persons, two types of families, and two types of career paths. Anyone who would dare make those claims would be labeled naïve or plain dumb. In our complex society, a view such as there are some people who do well in life and those who do not, or, some people grow up in homes in which a can-do mentality infected every cell of their being as well as their future, while there are others whose surroundings are permeated by every form of can’t. Their life and happiness either thrive or shrivel with achievement, lack of success, or possibly over-achievement. And, then, there are those whose life work is realized and those who are always seeking to make it to the end of the next pay check. That is not to say ever person who achieves the American dream or realizes their life mission becomes rich or doesn’t have financial difficulties. A low to moderate income is not as big a deal to him or her as to the one who is lost in the black hole of modern culture alienated from his or her best self, a hopeful future, life enhancing relationships–or simply life purpose. However, living well is of paramount importance.

Living well could simply be defined as being born into a good family, growing up well, learning well, pursuing and achieving one’s life work, marrying a good partner, raising kids after one’s own image and likeness, not divorcing, maintaining good friendships, contributing to the good of others and society, living in right relationship with author of life, having hope for an eternal life with God, and having more good memories than painful ones at the end of life.

Of course, all of the above is too simplistic a definition of life for modern people living in such a complex society of great cultural diversity and political sophistication. Let’s face it; today even human nature is no longer something definable. At least that is what modern academies and other social institution now teach.1

What about jobs? What does a definition of life have to do with jobs? Let’s try to define jobs. Jobs enable people to pay bills. Jobs are what people must do in order to maintain sanitary, healthy and safe environments. The instruments used to maintain a complex society maintained are jobs. Jobs are statistical outcomes generated by the science of political economy. Jobs feed the machine of government and corporation, but machine continues to exist on a diet meaningless people. As such, jobs are dime-a-dozen sink-holes. They are the abode of the masses. Jobs may be necessary activities but they offer an exciting swirl in the black hole of modern culture’s progressive void. For some, jobs are necessary evils. Nevertheless, jobs are symbols of life led by the anti-Christ, merely a number of a man (or a woman).

Remember, your social security number. Few, if any, can buy or sell without it. Citizens of most nations also are required to have a similar national id number.

What the world needs now is not a devilish political economy that maximizes power, wealth, security, or other special interests of an unmoral and relatively few persons. What we all need is simply a society and culture that maximizes life—a life lived well. Such a simplistic society would probably look like human nature at its best.


May I suggest a starting point to begin the work of reconstructing for such a society? The founding fathers of our nation and most societies started with God. A real relationship with the non institutionalized and black-boxed God and His Christ might be the best way to start the process of recreating personal life, family, government, and culture.


1 Massimo Pigliucci, “Is There Such A Thing As Human Nature?” Science 2.0, November 18, 2008, accessed July 21, 2012, http://www.science20.com/rationally_speaking/there_such_thing_human_nature.

Resurrection, Relationships, and America

By Daniel Downs

Jesus is risen!

Today, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the Jew. The celebrants rejoice in his victory over the consequences of sin, which is death. For first century Christians, this fact was cause for hope for eternal life, and it is still cause for the same hope now.

But, what is life? Surely, it is more than bodily functions such as breathing, thinking, going here and there… In the book of Acts, the author recounts a forty-day period during which time Jesus renewed his relationships with disciples, family and others. Acts also presents an eyewitness account of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. His resurrection and ascension depicts the ultimate restoration of Jesus relationship with God.

Being redemptive, Easter is a celebration of the restoration of our relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

The first chapters of Genesis show us that a human relationship with God was the divine intention of the Creator. Because humans were created in the likeness of God, we have the capacity such a relationship. Genesis goes to depict the reason for human existence. In sum, we exist to serve the Creator by overseeing nature, which implies partnerships with other humans. When natural and holy, these relationships accomplish God’s purposes. For example, the family serves the need its members, establishes and perpetuated human society, and thus fulfills part of the divine plan. Economy and education actually are both natural products of inter- and intra-family relations. However, the complexity of the web of societal institutions creates the artificial need for governmental services beyond the basics. Government is composed of representatives of all related families of a given society, and those representatives serve to fulfill common need of all families. The common and basic needs include protecting the lives and property of those served.

A paternal government cannot exist when families are fulfilling their created functions and roles. Oppressive governments exist as a result of the death of moral relationships. Divorce is the result of moral crimes, and moral crime ends in alienation and death. The artificiality of modern institutionalized society is a major contributor to the alienation and death in society, its families, and the moral decline that produces it. Mutually beneficial godly relationships are the essence life now and forever.

America certainly needs a resurrection that only God and Jesus can perform.

Jews and Christians Celebrating Deliverance


This is an unusual year… The Feast of Passover in Israel begins this coming weekend as Christians in the Western nations gather to celebrate Easter. The two holidays seldom coincide, but their significance is closely intertwined.

  • Passover celebrates God’s salvation of Israel from slavery to Egypt
  • Easter acknowledges God’s salvation for mankind from the bondage of sin
  • Passover recognizes the sacrificed lamb that rescued the firstborn son from Egypt’s final plague
  • Easter recognizes that God offered up His own Son to rescue us from sin and grant us eternal life
  • Passover is the climactic event that set the Jewish people on their way to the Promised Land
  • Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection and points to a day when we will enjoy eternal life with Him

As we celebrate Easter this year, we should not only be enriched by the clear connection with Passover, but we should also remember the debt we owe to the Jewish people for giving us the Word of God, the roots of our faith, and most importantly our Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Here is an important truth… God has given us the opportunity to come into relationship with the Living God through Jesus and enjoy eternal life. While salvation first came to the Jews, we as Gentiles have been grafted in so that we can partake of Christ’s blessings.

Source: From an email by ICEJ (International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel) on April 3, 2012. To learn more about ICEJ’s work in Israel, go to http://www.icej.org.

Pastor, Who Are You Voting For?

By Dallas Henry

Have you been asked the question yet? The questions are coming from members of the church I serve. “Pastor, who are you voting for?” Of course, by law, we are not permitted to endorse candidates from the pulpit, but when people ask us, we can legally share our opinions with them and why we have them.

There was a talk show that included a discussion of candidates for president and their faith. The host remarked, “What a person believes really shouldn’t matter because religion and politics don’t mix.”

That is a well known phrase. In any group of people there will be varying political opinions, but it incorrect to say that religion and politics do not mix. In fact, the Bible addresses many political issues. Government was an issue that Biblical writers frequently addressed. Scriptures talk about the role of government, how we should respond to government and, in besides, much of our laws are taken from the Bible. It is fair to say that Christians should be concerned about politics because God seems to be concerned about politics. I Peter 2:13 tells us that we are to submit to the governing authorities and I Timothy 2:1 urges us to pray for those who lead us. Saying that religion and politics do not mix is often an excuse for people who are not involved. It’s interesting that it is okay to sing patriotic hymns in church and politics and religion can mix on that realm, but they cannot mix when we talk about elections and the issues.

It is vital that Christians be involved in the process. We should be concerned about all elections. We should be concerned about who is leading us because they decide what freedoms we have and don’t have and what rights we have and don’t have. But, just how do Christians interact with government? What does the Bible say about issues that relate to this? In this critical time in the history of our country, it is important to be informed and to see what our Biblical responsibility is with government and not to simply withdraw and avoid it all. Remember government is; “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

All citizens have been given the freedom and the responsibility to vote. This freedom is our only chance to voice our opinion. We are all influenced to vote the way that we do for different reasons, but Christians, especially, must guard against the false notion that voting and religion do not mix. A Christian’s faith does come into play in the decision making while voting.

It is important to remember that God, His Word and His Son Jesus Christ are foundational parts of our government and that should never be forgotten. There’s a good reason that In God We Trust is on our currency and a good reason our Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase “One nation Under God” and there is a good reason that The Declaration of Independence speaks of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and of certain unalienable Rights endowed on them by their Creator. We hear a lot today about the separation of Church and state, which is not in our constitution, no matter who many claim that it is.

In a few months the primaries will be over and the various candidates for each political party will have been chosen, on the national, state and local levels. The campaign ads will be over, the commercials will stop airing, for the time being, and then it’s time for Christians to do their homework.

It is important for us to take time and look into the Scriptures and see, first of all, what the Bible has to say regarding the purpose of government, secondly our responsibility as Christians, and thirdly how the church is called to Biblically interact with government.

Romans 13:1-7
“Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God. So that the one resisting the authority resists the ordinance of God; and the ones who resist will receive judgment to themselves. For the rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the bad. And do you desire to be not afraid of the authority? Do the good, and you shall have praise from it. For it is a servant of God to you for good. For if you practice evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword in vain; for it is a servant of God, a revenger for wrath on him who does evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes. For they are God’s servants, always giving attention to this very thing. Therefore give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due.”

Christians should not have an anti-government mindset because God has established governments that exist. God had a reason for appointing government. Continue reading

The Problem of Global Persecution

By Daniel Downs

In the previous post, Raymond Ibrahim revealed the extent of persecutions of Christians for the month of January throughout the Muslim Middle East. Syrian Christians are concerned about similar persecution, if not genocide, if Al-Assad falls to Islamic fundamentalists, according to a recent article published in The New American.

They are concerned for good reason: homes, businesses, churches, and many persons have been attacked and destroyed by angry Muslims in Iraq and Egypt.

Why are Muslim persecuting Christians? For the same reasons Americans attacked American Arabs and those who liked Arabs, their homes and business after 9-11. (see UMC’s article Post 9/11 Hate Crimes)

Persecution of Jews also has a long history. Jews have been impoverished, abused, and killed by Arabs, Europeans, and even Americans. Hitler may killed more Jews in a shorter period of time than other Europeans but the German Nazis were not the only Europeans to do so. When the Christian church ruled the empire, Jews and rebellious Christians were killed as well.

Regarding anti-anti-Semitism, Americans also have been guilty of persecuting the Jews. I remember stories about Americans harassing Jews while sleeping in their home in the middle of the night. That was during the 1960s fascists and communist movements in Europe and America. More recently, a rabbi was attacked and beaten while traveling near his synagogue in New Jersey, the homes of several others rabbis were fire bombed, and anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on several local synagogues.

While Americans persecute Jews, Muslims and others, Israeli orthodox Jews are persecuting Messianic Jews. According to the Caspari Media Review, local residents in Arad Israel report Orthodox Jews (haeridi) harassing Messianic neighbors and disturbing the peace in their local neighborhood.

Why? For the same reason others of various ideologies and religions persecuted them.

A complex linkage of perceived differences contribute a sense of enmity towards those previously mentioned. Among those factors are contradictory religious or secular beliefs, the legitimation of those beliefs by the state, and current and historical events all of which culminate into a perception that persons of the “other” group are somehow a dire threat or complicit in an evil act. For example, all Arabs are regarded as evil as those involved in the 9-11 terrorism. All Christians deserve punishment because one or a few blasphemed Mohammed or Allah. All Jews are evil because of some injustice perpetrated by some other Jews.

The underlying problem is the propensity of people to violate the laws of God; that is what sin and evil is. It is the opinion of this blogger that America’s founding generation advanced the solution to this problem. They believed that a universal law–the law of God–was already evident in human nature and society, and it was at least possible for human to identify what those laws are. However, the human problem colors and corrupts that human ability, which is why revealed law was deemed necessary. Because all human beings have violated God’s laws, human reason alone cannot be trusted. Moreover, it was understood that most major religions and the societies influenced and shaped by them possessed at least some part of the revealed laws of God. Like the Hebrew prophets and Mohammed as well, the founders of all major religions experienced the moral reforming presence of God. It was in that experience that the laws of God were perceived and the need for their people to conform to the right way of living realized.

The issue is not that all religions are equal or irrelevant as many secularists believe. As a Christian, this blogger believes God’s holiness requires the fulfillment of absolute justice. The just dessert for sin is death. However, the perpetual love of His holiness toward people created in His own likeness drove God to remedy human sin. That remedy is the death of the sinless for all other sinners. Only one man was sinless–Jesus of Nazareth. God offered His only sinless son for all of humanity. Those who reject God’s provision cannot be forgiven for their sin. Even though humanity consistently lives according to the laws of God, past sin or one present sin render him or her worthy of sin’s just dessert. Just as human justice merely forgives a murder who one act was followed with exemplary good citizenship, so too a sinner cannot be merely forgiven for good behavior. Of course, I could be wrong, but those who have experienced life-after-death suggest otherwise.

Another reason for doctrinal differences of various religions is the institutionalization of their original experiences of God and their interpretations and applications of them.

Still another reason for doctrinal differences is simply survival. Both Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others developed different doctrines as a result of challenges and threats posed by problems within their own societies including problems of moral decline and threats of other religious and secular authorities. Thus, the distinctive doctrinal beliefs have been means to protect the religious institution and the followers from external threats. This does not mean all doctrines are either mere human concoctions nor all are divine revelations. It means the real problem is not merely religious dogma but rather keeping God law and applying its principles to social relationships in a mutually beneficial environment of His redemptive love and grace.

If all religious people took God up on his challenge to come and reason with Him about these matters (Isaiah 1:11-20; 55:1-11), could there still exist enduring conflict and injustice? Would the differences matter as much as living in accordance with God’s actual law? The result would be a greater measure of peace than now exists, would it not?

Human Trafficking Awareness

Yesterday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This day was set by a resolution of Congress in hopes Americans would understand that the fight for freedom is not over. This fight is part of our national heritage and identity. It compelled our ancestors to colonize this continent.

Unless Americans remember the right of liberty is rooted in the nature of humanity’s equality and dignity, no legitimate reason exists for continued efforts to liberate enslaved people.

What is the nature of human equality and dignity? The Declaration of Independence defines as created by nature’s God. Because the human best reflects the nature of God, the dignity of every human being is of inestimable worth. Acts of injustice and cruelty reflect the worst of human thought and behavior.

It will take more than one day each year for Americans to reeducate themselves about God, equality, liberty, and law out of which American freedom originated.

At the beginning of this month, President Obama declared January as human trafficking prevention month. During his proclamation, Pres. Obama stated:

As a Nation, we have known moments of great darkness and greater light; and dim years of chattel slavery illuminated and brought to an end by President Lincoln’s actions and a painful Civil War. Yet even today, the darkness and inhumanity of enslavement exists. Millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade….

Fighting modern slavery and human trafficking is a shared responsibility. This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking. Together, we can and must end this most serious, ongoing criminal civil rights violation.

Indeed, it is a crime against God and humanity.

There are a number of organizations and on-line educational sites. They include Polaris Project, A-21 Campaign, humantrafficking.org, Human Trafficking Blog to name a few.

To understand the problem truly, one must retrace the history of the struggle of liberty. A good place to start would be with the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, it tells of the ancient struggle for freedom and how it has been achieved. This is one of the key texts that informed the Protestant reformers, Puritans, English reformers, colonists, preachers, theologians, moral philosophers, lawyers and their laws of nature and of nations, and even our national founding. Human nature and human rights cannot be fully understood without understanding the sacred text about human bondage and freedom.

The Meaning of Christmas

By Daniel Downs

Christmas is a celebration of the fulfilled promise of a new life, a baby. Honoring this new born destiny presents to the world a universal hope. It is about God being with us now and we being with God in the future.

Christmas is about parents, parenting, naming, and the common work of fulfilling God’s revealed purpose for the world; their world of family, our world of common good relationships, and God’s purposed world.

Christmas is thus a celebration of life-giving. Life is God’s gift to the world–to each individual, to each family, and to society. Every morally and materially good relationship contributes to the creation of abundant life for all. This too reflects God’s good will for all people. Its revelation began with the divine promise to Abraham. It was institutionalized through Israel. Its realization was pronounced by angels and manifested in the new born babe of Bethlehem—the one the angels said they would see lying in a lowly manger (Luke 2:1-20). The irony of life is that it always begins in utter helpless poverty, but God gives everyone the natural riches of loving parents, caring society, and nature’s bounty.

Material and monetary gifts as well as profits are meant to serve the prophetic purpose of life-destiny. Even the three wise men brought gifts to the new born babe that not only made him and his family very rich but also provided the means to fulfill his purpose in life (Matthew 2:1-12).

The significance of Christmas is how God reveals and fulfills His part in the destiny of human life. Human destiny is not a search to find oneself. It is not a hunt for life purpose or meaningful work. Human destiny is a divine revelation that is manifest, reinforced, prepared for, and fulfilled. It is the life-work, a multifaceted employment, of living well. Living well is not best defined by financial worth but by the quality of life made and given. A good life is not made alone. The author of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, wrote: “Let us make man in our image and likeness.” If God made us within a community of others, it stands to reason that we must do the same. Good persons are reproduced in a redemptive society of families committed to forming each newly born child into a good citizen of our heavenly Father’s world. In God’s world, the divinely ordained work of living means being and making to be good children, good parents, good spouses, good neighbors, good laborers or entrepreneurs, good citizens. As God provided for Jesus through the magi, God wants to provide everything needed to fulfill our own destiny whether it be with spouse, home, material goods, and understanding of the divine purpose for life. This God did for humanity’s first parent. God gave him a wife, Eve. God gave them a home in the garden. He gave them all of nature’s produce for sustenance. God also gave them trusteeship over all the riches of nature including all living creatures (Genesis 1:26-31 &2:7-24). Then, God gave a world full of families to help each other fulfill life’s destiny.

The apostle Paul referred to Jesus as the new Adam (1 Cor 15:45-49). His birth was the beginning of a new humanity. The accomplishment of his life work ushered in the realization of God’s redemptive plan for all people. The revelation of Jesus his life-purpose was first given to his parents, Mary and Joseph. God’s prepared them to prepare Jesus for its fulfillment. Therefore, the life of Jesus Christ is the model of God’s plan for every parent and child.

Jesus’ life is a revelation and history, albeit a sketchy one, of how God fulfills His plan for the world through one family of chosen parents and chosen child (to be). The life-work of Jesus—the chosen child—could not have happened without chosen parents and the entire lineage of other chosen ones. Both gospels of Matthew and Luke clearly shows the ancestry of Jesus going back through King David, to Judah, Abraham, Noah, and finally to Adam (Matthew 1:1-17 & Luke 3:23-38).

The same is true for all of us. Whether seemingly big or miniscule, our individual purpose in God’s plan for the world is connected to a host of ancestors going back to Adam and Eve. Every one of them was chosen by God for our life-work to be fulfilled.

Like Jesus, every one of us was born to fulfill a specific part in the plan of God for the world.

As the new Adam, Jesus birth represents the rebirth of humanity. Every human being born since Jesus has been represented by Him to God. Everyone has had or will have the opportunity to experience the redemption, reconciliation, renewing, and parenthood of God, who never intended to father only Jesus. God wants all people to become His children, living in His household, under His authority and care. In one sense, all humans are children of God because all exist as God created them to exist. Yet, some children live without parents. Some people who have parents live as though they do not. Others exist without any sense of history, tradition, value, future hope, purpose or legacy, all of which begins in a family household connected to extended family within a society and world of families. Even though some discover it in social institutions like school, workplace, military, social mission, mosque, synagogue, temple or church, membership in them does not equate to being part of God’s household. Without a life forming relationship with God, hearing His defining words, and obeying His law or rules meant to direct behavior and work, no one can claim to be in the household of God. For life in God’s household is eternal and not limited to temporary materiality of the present.

Jesus represents life in the household of God. His birth was the beginning not the end. His untimely death was the means to a redemptive end, the fulfillment of God’s redemption of all people. His resurrection represents the future for a new humanity. As his apostle Paul taught, Jesus was the first born from the dead not the last (Colossians 1:18; Romans8:29). Every one of us will be reborn but only those who have been faithful to God will continue to live in His household.

Wayward people often behave in ways that land them in jail or prison. The faithless and unfaithful also will live eternal life behind bars in the prison called hell.

Jesus is the way of escape in the present.

Christmas is a mass celebration of eternal life. The end of life is to live eternally in and to the glory of God the Father. This is accomplished by living the good life in God’s household, doing what is right, and fulfilling one’s divinely purposed life-work.

What God revealed to Mary and Joseph, to Elizabeth and Zachariah, to Sarah and Abraham was the life work and purpose of their first born child. Each has to live so as to fulfill it. For Jesus to fulfill his life work and its purpose, he has to live without sin to the very end. We too have to learn to do the same. For without holiness (likeness of God) no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14 ). That is, knowone will see Him after this life in heavenly city.

Abraham and the Impossible

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

The Torah tells us that Abraham was extremely old and that Sarah was beyond child-bearing age. Indeed, the Gemara says she had no womb! The distinguished Rabbi Akiva Tatz, a physician and a philosopher, offers a familiar as well as unfamiliar commentary:

“When these two people, totally devoid of any possibility of having a child, were told that they would in fact have a child, they laughed. And a child was born. And his Divinely-given name was “Yitzchak”—Hebrew for ‘He shall laugh.’ Is this a clue to the extraordinary tragedy-preceding triumphs of the Jewish people over their adversaries during the past millennia?

Jews begin where the impossible ends. This tells about Jewish faith or trust in God, because that’s precondition of achieving the impossible. Unfortunately, most Jews today are trapped in the language and limitations of politics, which of course precludes the impossible?

Ever since Aristotle, pundits have defined politics as the “art of the possible.” However, what is deemed possible depends very much on the intellectual and moral character of the politician. Polls in Israel indicate that 80 to 90 percent of the Jews in this country regard Israeli politicians as “corrupt,” by which they mean that these politicians pursue their personal or partisan interests at the expense of the national interest (an old story antedating Machiavelli). In other words, Israeli politicians are little men whose horizon extends no further than the next election. Thoughtful Jews place no faith in politicians. Let’s return to Abraham and the Torah.

The akeida (the binding of Yitzchak recounted in Genesis) reveals Abraham as the prince of faith, of unsurpassed trust in God. Abraham, the first Jew, was tested as no other human being. His test, to paraphrase Rabbi Tatz, was to sacrifice his son for whom he had waited into extreme old age, and in whom he saw the ascendancy of a great and noble people. This same Abraham, after teaching the world that human sacrifice was wrong—Abraham, whose entire personality was loving kindness—how could he possibly slaughter his beloved son? “Beyond the emotional level, the intellectual level was no less difficult—it made no sense, and Abraham, the discoverer of ethical monotheism, was a man of supreme intellectual power. God (HaShem) had promised him progeny from Yitzchak—how could there be a contradiction in the Divine?”

The Kabbalah expresses an even deeper problem. As Rabbi Tatz puts it, “Avraham knew that HaShem did not want this sacrifice (as the verse states: ‘V’lo alsa libi—which I never intended’) as one knows the mind of the beloved—and he was correct. In fact, ultimately, HaShem prevented him from carrying it out! So he had all levels of his consciousness crying out that this action could not be done, and HaShem said to him, in effect, ‘Yes, all that you feel and say is true, but kill him anyway’! That’s a test!? That’s facing the impossible! And Abraham proceeded to do the impossible.

“The result? The impossible occurred, the miraculous manifested. We are told in the Torah that Yitzchak was spared, he climbed off the altar, and a ram was offered in his stead. But we are told in the Midrash: ‘Efro shel Yitzchak munach le’fanai—the ashes of Yitzchak lie before Me’; in a higher dimension, he was sacrificed! Not the ‘ashes of the ram’ but the ‘ashes of Yitzchak’. He became an ‘olah temimah’—a pure, burnt offering.

“The impossible paradox—a man who lives physically in this world, but spiritually in the next, simultaneously! And the qualities of the father and the son live on in the Jewish people—the ability to yield the emotions, the intellect, the entire personality to HaShem in emuna (faith), and the gift of being able to live in a physical world and transcend it at the same time.”

This is Not blind faith. This faith springs from recognizing God as the Creator of heaven and earth, hence from rational trust in His providence. From the father of the Jewish people we learn that whatever the ordeal or suffering is inflicted upon us, it is intended for our ultimate good by a just and gracious God. We must bear in mind that suffering is the spur of self-examination, reflection, insight, and transcendence. The heights of human perfection are not a gift but an achievement requiring the greatest trials of the human spirit.

What is true of the individual is true of the nation. The ordeal of the Jewish people appears endless. Two thousand years of dispersion, persecution, and Holocaust issuing in the rebirth of Israel, but an Israel tormented by bloodthirsty Arabs who, aided by virtually the entire world, are dedicated to Israel’s annihilation. Yesterday by war, today by a deadly “peace process.”

After centuries of Jew-hatred still rampant in the democratic world, only shallow, effete, and “Establishment” Jews can ignore the genocidal war being waged against Israel. Iranian president Ahmadinejad is only the most conspicuous instrument of anti-Semitism: Eisav sonei Yaakov. Even nations in the democratic world have honored this murderous tyrant.

How can Israel stand up to this worldwide hatred of the people who gave mankind the Book of Books? How can Israel withstand such envious and implacable animosity?

Our Prophets and Sages tell us that this period will be one of great trials for Israel. But soon Israel will break the Covenant of Death of which Isaiah speaks. Soon the lies of the “peace process” will be swept away and the truth will emerge from Zion. Only keep faith with the God of Abraham. Sacrifice your doubts and fears and dare the impossible. Soon we shall have the last laugh on our enemies!

Internationally known political scientist, author and lecturer, Paul Eidelberg is founder and president of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI) with offices in Jerusalem and Philadelphia.

Endowed, Not Evolved: Why Man’s Origin Matters to Our Rights

By Gary Palmer

The recent attack against Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s belief that mankind was created by God raises deeper questions than the usual “evolution” questions.

It appears that there is more to these protests than concerns for science or the typical hypersensitivity that many liberals have any time a high-profile leader says anything that disputes their orthodoxy concerning the origin of man. Skepticism about the belief that man is the product of random chance or evolved in the same way as other species strikes at the core of what some people believe about man and government.

In America, the rights of man are inseparably linked to the origin of man. If mankind evolved from the slime of the earth as the result of a completely random mixture of chemicals and elements, then he obviously has no Creator. If there is no Creator, then there is no endowment of rights and the Declaration’s assertion that “all men are created equal” and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” is meaningless. If man has no rights that pre-date government, then any rights we may have are not unalienable and we are simply at the mercy of government.

Moreover, the whole scope and purpose of government is changed. If there are no endowed rights that precede government, the Declaration’s assertion that the legitimate purpose of government is “to secure these rights” is also meaningless. Rather than deriving its power from the consent of the people for the purpose of protecting the people’s God-given rights, government becomes the originator of all rights and the grantor of all benefits and entitlements.

It is clear that the Founding Fathers agreed wholeheartedly with the Declaration’s assertion that we have a Creator whose law of human rights precedes and supersedes all laws of man and government. To believe anything else would deprive them of the firm basis for the form of government they designed: a government whose purpose was to protect their God-given rights and whose power is derived from the consent of the people. Sam Adams and James Otis wrote, “the right of freedom being the gift of God almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift.” They added, “There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the law of nature, and the grant of God almighty, who has given all men a natural right to be free ….”

Alexander Hamilton wrote, “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among parchments and musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” And Thomas Jefferson, the principle author of the Declaration, wrote that the sole basis for American freedom was the conviction among the people “that these liberties are the gift of God.”

Consequently, attacking those who believe that God created man extends well beyond an argument about the origins of life; it is also includes the origins of our government and the relationship between the people and the government as understood and intended by our Founding Fathers. The entire blueprint of the United States is based on a belief that God made man and that He endowed all men, regardless of their race or religion-or absence of religion-with unalienable rights. If man is nothing more than the result of millions of years of random processes, then there is no basis for our rights other than the dictates of whatever government happens to be in power.

If we are not God’s creation, then it is logical to conclude that every supposition for the purpose and scope of government as understood by our Founding Fathers is irrelevant and subject to repeal. If we, as a nation, no longer believe that our rights are endowed by our Creator, then those rights are not unalienable and we have no basis for complaint when federal bureaucrats or activist judges take them away.

In that regard, a politician’s belief about the origin of man could well be an insight into what they believe about our unalienable rights and the power of government over us. A recent Rasmussen poll indicated that 69 percent of Americans no longer believe our current government has the consent of the people to govern.

Consequently, the debate over the origin of man has a deep importance to our nation.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.