Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Thought #2

In line with my post of yesterday, that I would simply post prophecies about Christmas from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, here is one for this first real Sunday of Advent.  Some of these will be borrowed from other sites; in this case, it is

Jesus will be born in the town Bethlehem. Prophecy: Micah 5:2. Fulfilled: Luke 2:1–7.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent Advancing

I try to post during Advent, which starts tomorrow.  Right now, I have no inspiration; perhaps prophetic scriptures?  I thought about writing about Christmas movies, but I don't think I have enough and most of them have nothing to do with Advent!  I mean, ELF?  Bad Santa? 

Yes, a scriptural approach sounds best.  So let us start with Isaiah 9:6:'

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Let It Go, Let It Go

A little girl in the neighborhood likes to take walks with me and the dogs.  Right now I don't get home early enough to beat the "dark," so those trips are curtailed, but up until a few weeks ago we walked quite a bit.  In fact, she took to hanging around waiting for me, which was annoying me and I had to turn her away some times, due to fatigue or just not wanting to walk in the neighborhood. The dogs do not do well in the subdivision--too many stray dogs and cats, for one, so I take them elsewhere.

Anyway, being nine, she is in love with Frozen.  On one of our last walks, she sang the song the whole way, often at the top of her voice.  She is in chorus and gets to do solos.  She actually has a pretty good voice but tries to sing in that pop star style.  I had to tell  her the next time we walked that we wouldn't sing this time.

I bring this up because I heard a student paper on this movie and its lesbian themes (what?) but yes, people go there.  Instead, I direct the reader to this blog, where the writer explores it from another perspective and obviously loves the movie.

I still think I like Beauty and the Beast better, but just a tad, and I haven't seen Frozen twice yet.  Both are quite good, both are about love of other and its saving power, rather than the old "believe in yourself" stuff.

I received Jesus and Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias today and look forward to reading it, after my debacle mentioned in the previous post.  What I have been meditating on is the internal vs. external.  Christianity is about the external becoming internal; the external God saves the internal soul; modern quasi religions focus on delving within to find something that will "save."   How much must one look inside, how deeply, to find this salvation? 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ezekiel 37

Below is my lesson for Sunday, Nov. 30, on Ezekiel 37.

I.                   I recently had an experience where I was asked to be on a panel about religion.  I was the token Christian, and appeared with a Muslim, a Buddhist (of Jewish background), a Jewish woman, an agnostic (also of Jewish background), and an atheist (of Catholic background).  Interesting that four of us claim Jewish background, although Jews are such a minority.  It was a disturbing yet interesting experience that I am still trying to sort out.  But the bottom line had to do with knowledge and revelation.  What do we know and how do we know that we know it? (not just belief, which can, as the atheist pointed out, sometimes be a copout). 

II.                Visions.  The Bible has many accounts of dreams and visions being used to communicate a specific message to a specific person.  Sometimes those are meant for another group, as in this case:  Ezekiel is to tell his vision, or at least the meaing of it (37:12) to the people of Israel.  Ezekiel’s audience of exiles in Babylon would have been the audience. 
a.      Dreams are for sleeping, and usual specific to the person or situation, as when Joseph was given two dreams for the protection of Mary and Jesus.  It is bad exegesis to try to get some kind of personal meaning out of these dreams.  Does God use dreams today? 
b.      Visions are given when the person is awake, and they are highly symbolic, visually.  They are therefore not literal—that is, this vision does not really happen, and God explains them in the context, but the visual symbolism adds to their power.   This passage has one of the most powerful visual symbols in the Bible—old skeletons coming back to life, not just as skeletons but as an army of full, fleshly, muscular bodies.
c.       Many times the person getting the vision or dream does not accept it immediately.  Moses in Exodus 3 is an example. 
d.      What are we to do with the dream or vision?  Look for the explanation God gives, and don’t go any further with it.  In this case, the meaning is clearly explained.
e.       God loves the human body and human sensibilities.  These visions are testimony to the eye’s power and the human ability to imagine.
f.        The purpose of visions and dreams is to give guidance and direction and to foretell the future.  They do not exist for the intellectual superiority or personal knowledge of the receiver.

III.             The first vision.
a.      Unnamed valley; implied to be a valley after a battle.  The army has been destroyed and not buried, which is deplorable in ancient times; they have rotted and become nothing but very dry skeletons due to exposure.  No possible life.
b.      “Can these bones live?” Interesting that it implies that the bones have life-giving properties (blood in marrow) that may not have been known then.
c.       “O Lord GOD, You know.”  Short answer but much meaning.  This struck me as much as the rest of the story.  Of all the religionists on my panel, I respected the agnostic the most (although she was dismissive of her version of Christianity).  If you are going to reject Christ, the most you can say otherwise is, “I don’t know,” which is what agnostic means.  Everyone else was as dogmatic as Christians are expected to be.
                                                              i.      In other words, “I don’t.”  This is Ezekiel’s confession of limited knowledge of the present, past, and future.  That is where we start.  While most of us would admit we don’t know everything, we act as if we do.  The issue of Ferguson, MO, which has lit up the media and social media, is a good example.  We all think we know more than we think we know.  I have chosen not to write anything on social media about it because I don’t know, despite what I hear and read, which is as much as anyone.  We simply don’t know as much as we think we do.  Ezekiel is probably thinking, “NO WAY,” but also says, “You know, Lord.” 
                                                            ii.      An admission that God does know, which is faith.
                                                          iii.      A submission  to God’s knowledge and revelation. 
d.      Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the bones, that breath would come into them and they would live, and they began to re-animate; he had to prophesy a second time for the actual living.
e.       They became an army, which speaks to what they had been and would be—purposeful, organized. 
f.        Breath-wind-spirit have symbolic connection in the Bible.  See John 3:8 and Acts 2:2, where the Holy Spirit is symbolized as wind (not a transparent Asian woman as in The Shack!)  Greek word is pneuma and Hebrew is ruah. 
IV.              The meaning of the vision. 
a.      God doesn’t let us go crazy with this.  I remember the old song “The foot bone connected to the ankle bone,” etc. and an old stop-action cartoon of this, but the skeleton’s were fighting.  That is not what is described here.  The army doesn’t fight, and they are not skeletons, and it may have taken a long time in Ezekiel’s vision.
b.      “I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.  I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.  Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.”
c.       This and the next vision seem to be more focused on the eternal rather than post-exilic—the end times when Israel is restored to the land then at the end of 70 years.  The exile could be seen as the grave, but that could be stretching the analogy.
V.                 Second visual symbol, 15ff.
a.      This is not a vision but an action Ezekiel is supposed to perform before his audience as an object lesson. 
b.      Two sticks are joined, symbolizing the rejoining of the two subkingdoms.  Judah would go back to the land, but Israel would still be scattered. We see this in that Mary and Joseph are in the line of Judah, but Saul/Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin and lived in Antioch (Turkey), not Judah, as that tribe had been scattered. 
c.       The two significant points in the explanation are that
                                                              i.      The scattered will be joined together (same idea as the bones)
                                                            ii.      The nation will not be divided (like Germany after the cold war)
                                                          iii.      A descendant of David will be the leader.
1.       This leader, unlike those in the previous chapters, will be “My servant” and a good shepherd. “  A shepherd as a leader is different from a pagan king or military dictator; David was a shepherd, Jesus is the good shepherd
2.      They will be cleansed (purified) and cease their idol worship.  
3.      This descendant will be a prince forever.
4.      He will “cut” a covenant of peace with them.
5.      He will set his sanctuary among them (interestingly, the last several chapters of Ezekiel are about the temple/sanctuary)
d.      These conditions were somewhat fulfilled after the exile, but not perfectly, because they were still living in a sinful world.  Not all came back; they did cease idol worship, but a descendant of David was not their king yet.
e.       Why David?  Block says, “Yahweh’s restoration of his flock and appointment of David is not motivated primarily by pity for the bruised and battered sheep of Israel, but from his covenant with his people.”  In this case, God’s faithfulness to his covenant and promises, that is, his utter truthfulness and dependability, are more the issue and driving force behind what will happen than pity for the exiles’ state or the historical memory of the greatness of the kingdom under a charismatic king. 
f.        Why David?  The Bible is unlike the accounts of kings and rulers in that part of the world at that time.  It tells the truth, warts and all.  David is popular but loses his popularity; David is prone to excessive violence, lust, deception, humiliating others; David is not a good father; David is close to God (but not always), but in no way godlike, which other civilizations had; things that pagan kings would have been praised for (killing someone to maintain power and get his wife) are shown as great evils.  No wonder the Jews didn’t fit in! 
g.      Why David?  His heart trusted, and God made a promise, but not because of who David is.  Jesus clarified this is Matthew 22:41-46 when he asked the Pharisees how the great David could call his own descendant Lord.  They were stumped.  The descendant of David would be greater than David; David would be a bringer of the Messiah.
VI.              Bringing it together.
a.      Application #1:  God loves the human body.  We are the ones who have trouble with it.  Our bodies allow us to serve.  Our bodies are good in andof themselves. God will resurrect the body, just as he does the dry bones. 
Psalm Psa 139:13  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
Psa 139:14  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psa 139:15  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Psa 139:16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
b.        Application #2:  God knows.  Step back.  This was a wake-up call to me to state my thoughts as thoughts, not absolutes.
c.       Application #3:  God restores the most destroyed to usefulness and wholeness in a way we cannot understand. 
Isa 61:3  to grant to those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
d.      Because we cannot know, and because God does restore, never stop praying for that restoration.  Humanly speaking there may be no options, no way.  Many who profess atheism, I perceived do so because of great pain, great questioning, as well as great pride.  Arguing won’t speak to him, but the Holy Spirit can revitalize him spiritually. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Long Lost Relatives

Last night was the premiere of my first secular, fully produced play, Long Lost Relatives.  It went famously.  I was so proud of the director and actors and crew, and I know the next three performances will be even better.  Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm and 2:00 Sunday.  It is at the City Park School Auditorium, which you will have to Google to find, but it's right next to the post office on Thornton Avenue in Dalton.  You can even park in the post office parking lot. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kallmann's Syndrome: Let's Talk

I have blogged now for over 7 years and am coming close to my 1250th post.  I deleted one the other day because the link was broken, and there are probably others, I should delete.   I like to provide links to other things I like. 

The two most popular posts are one reviewing, from a scholarly perspective, Twelve Angry Men.  My word, that gets a lot of hits--sometimes hundreds in a week.  The other is my "coming out of the closet" about Kallmann syndrome, (not Kallman's, as often seen).  Here is that link.

The comments to that post are better than the original post. 

I would like to encourage anyone who comes to this blog because of the title to feel free to talk to each other.  Although there are groups for us on Facebook, they might not work for anyone.  If anyone has some medical news, ideas for endocrinologists, or thoughts about living with KS, please comment here. 

There is a lot of emotional pain with this "disorder," "syndrome," or "genetic condition"--take your pick.  That is reflected in the comments.  It is exacerbated by its rarity, so that it is unlikely anyone will meet another person who will admit to having it.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Internet Ramblings

The Internet is a wonderful tool for a scholar, but is full of so many distractions that I waste valuable time.  How many versions of "Did you know these celebrities are left-handed?" or "Ten famous actors who were butt-ugly when they were teenagers?" can we take.  And why am I tempted by some of them?  Just now I went to the weather channel to see the forecast (in disobedience to a literal interpretation of James 4) and saw a link:  Hundreds dead in Texas.  And I bit.  But my old laptop is so slow that it didn't get there, so I thought better and skipped it.  Hundreds of what?  And aren't hundreds of people dead everywhere?  Anyone who is not alive is dead, so that would be billions, not hundreds, anyway.

And speaking of butt ugly  . . .

I allowed myself to see those ridiculous, vulgar, pornographic pictures of Kim Kartrashian.  That's an image I'll never be able to erase.  What is wrong with that girl?  What is wrong with anyone for looking at her, and her husband for approving of this stuff.  Anything for a buck, I suppose.

Now, there may be some people who think that the person who posts to this blog is schizophrenic, or that someone hacks it and posts.  No, it's all me--the Bible studies and the sometimes tasteless remarks.  I am not nearly as tasteless as I could be, what goes on in my head.  The reality is I was raised in a pretty earthy environment and while I don't like real profanity and scatology and really despise hearing God's name in vain, even the OMG acronym, I have eschewed some of the Victorian niceties and decided that sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade, or a ho a ho, in this case. 

Unfortunately, that phrase is believed to have racist origins, although it does not, and is often avoided for that reason.  Using it is my way of saying that it doesn't and we shouldn't assume words are bad when they aren't.  On the other hand, I know as well as any one that communication is about the receiver, so outside of using it here for rhetorical purposes (i.e., to make a point about language), I would not do so. 

Which comes to my last observation of the day before I dig into doctoral work that I am displacing with these ramblings.  We had a well known person come to speak to campus last night, whom I will not mention, but he has written a memoir about growing up in the south as a poor African American and achieving success as a writer.  The campus book club read the memoir and I attended the discussion yesterday; I had read about 15% of it and will go back to it when I have more time (post dissertation).  At one point in the book he refers to Irish Twins.  I thought this was interesting because it is an ethnic slur on the Irish, but the book is about racism.  HUMMM.  Is it part of the human condition that we see our own experience of prejudice and racism but not that of others?

Ezekiel 25-32

Ezekiel 25 to 32

Overview and Analysis:

These are seven nations who had been enemies and sometimes allies with Israel, but they were all rejoicing at some level that Israel/Judah had been captured and destroyed, finally, by Babylon (up to this point they had been secure).

25: 1-7
Ammon:  They rejoiced that Judah was destroyed. 
Do not rejoice at the destruction of your enemies.
God’s protection over Israel despite his judgment of them.
Ammon is city in Jordan.
Example:  25:3 The Ammonites say, AHA! when the temple was profaned

Moab.  Given to enemies and not remembered. People of the East
Example:  25:8:  Moabites said “The house of Judah is like the others.”

25:12 a reference to II chron 28:17 during the reign of Ahaz.

Philistines (where the word Palestine comes from).  David fought the Philistines but also worked with them.

Ez. 26
26:2:  Tyre (loosely Lebanon) said of Israel that “she is turned over to me”

Against Tyre.  Who were they?  Coastland empire, very wealthy and successful in trade..  They would be forgotten and not found (end of chapter). 

The following is from Wikipedia (easy source!)

The commerce of the ancient world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre. "Tyrian merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and they founded their colonies on the coasts and neighbouring islands of the Aegean Sea, in Greece, on the northern coast of Africa, at Carthage and other places, in Sicily and Corsica, in Spain at Tartessus, and even beyond the pillars of Hercules at Gadeira (Cádiz)".[16]
The city of Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare and extraordinarily expensive sort of purple dye, produced from the murex shellfish, known as Tyrian purple. This color was, in many cultures of ancient times, reserved for the use of royalty, or at least nobility.[17]
Tyre was often attacked by Egypt, besieged by Shalmaneser V, who was assisted by the Phoenicians of the mainland, for five years. From 586 until 573 BC, the city was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar II[18] until Tyre agreed to pay a tribute.[19]
In 539 BC the Achaemenids conquered the city, and kept it under their rule until 332 BC, when Alexander the Great laid siege to the city, conquered and razed it.[20]
In 315 BC, Alexander's former general Antigonus began his own siege of Tyre,[19] taking the city a year later.[21]
In 126 BC, Tyre regained its independence (from the Seleucids)[22] and was allowed to keep much of its independence, as a "civitas foederata",[23] when the area became a Roman province in 64 BC.[24] Tyre continued to maintain much of its commercial importance until the Christian era.

End of Wikipedia material

28:24 Sidon judged for despising Israel

Ez 29:  prophecy against Egypt for not being a dependable ally of Israel/Judah—a faulty reed. 
The Lord tells Ez. In verse 17 that the Tyrian kingdom didn’t fall but Nebuchadnezzar would go against Egypt. its former glory would be gone, verse 15-16.  This is related to the fact in Jeremiah that some of those left over in Jerusalem wanted to go there, and Jeremiah did get taken there in Jeremiah 43; in verse 8 and following there is a prophecy about Egypt that goes along with this

EZ 30:  Rest of prophecy against Egypt, in specifics about cities

Ez 31:  More prophecy against Egypt, with metaphor of a tree.  I think it is saying that just as Assyria was a large protective tree and fell, so will Egypt.

Ez. 32:  Sort of summary that all of these nations around them will be conquered by Babylon

29:6 Egypt, because they were not a dependable ally; Jeremiah 25:15 ff - he was preaching the same message; in the mouth of two witnesses it shall be established; actually Amos preached same


Thought 1:  protection of Israel.  When God makes a promise, it sticks eternally.  Abraham in Genesis 12 and 15, other places in Exodus and Deuteronomy

Not replacement theology - Although Baptist generally have less trouble with this, we need to be careful because it leads, unknowingly, to anti-semitism and a misrepresentations of other Scriptures.  Replacement theology says that the church replaced Israel.

Equally, I think it is important to remember that most or much of the OT is promises to Israel and we should not misinterpret verses in the OT as pertaining to us.  This is probably where as a Bible teacher I differ from a lot of others, because I don’t think we can just take a verse from the Old Testament (which is more likely to be called the Hebrew Bible now, so anyone reading this, you can make that replacement and just know that the persons for whom this is written are used to the former designation and know that I recognize that the term Old Testament is not entirely correct—it is the older one, not the replaced or obsolete one).  This is also not to say I am a proponent of premillenialism, only that it is entirely clear to me that the Jewish people didn’t get thrown away in Acts 2 or anywhere else.  See below for borrowed material on this matter.

Question: "What is replacement theology / supersessionism?"

Answer: Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in Gods plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer Gods chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism).

Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God's blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?

The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings are valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God's program during these past 2000 years of dispersion.

After the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan. The first event at this time is the tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The world will be judged for rejecting Christ, while Israel is prepared through the trials of the great tribulation for the second coming of the Messiah. Then, when Christ does return to the earth, at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him. The remnant of Israel which survives the tribulation will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on this earth with Jerusalem as its capital. With Christ reigning as King, Israel will be the leading nation, and representatives from all nations will come to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King—Jesus Christ. The church will return with Christ and will reign with Him for a literal thousand years (Revelation 20:1-5).

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament support a premillennial/dispensational understanding of God's plan for Israel. Even so, the strongest support for premillennialism is found in the clear teaching of Revelation 20:1-7, where it says six times that Christ's kingdom will last 1000 years. After the tribulation the Lord will return and establish His kingdom with the nation of Israel, Christ will reign over the whole earth, and Israel will be the leader of the nations. The church will reign with Him for a literal thousand years. The church has not replaced Israel in God's plan. While God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).

Read more:

Thought 2:  We can know God’s glory through judgment or through good blessings.  Israel had known the blessings and rejected it, now would know it through judgment.

Corollary:  God’s glory in judgment was shown on the cross.  We like to think and preach that the cross was about us (even us individually, as people say, if I was the only person on the planet, Jesus would have died for me, which may be true but also smacks of fantasy and narcissism—how could an individual be the only person on the planet?)

The cross was about the plan and glory of God and we are part of that.  Judgment was carried out there and we get the blessings side of the glory of God. 

Thought 3:  In this passage today the two kingdoms/nations/ethnicities that get the most prophecy are Tyre and Egypt.  It is understandable about Egypt, since they had enslaved Israel and not been the most helpful allies over the years (as today, interestingly).  But why Tyre, and why so much? 

Apparently Tyre was an incredibly wealthy and therefore proud nation of people.  This is seen in the descriptions Ezekiel gives it, and as a person living in very poor conditions, the wealth of Tyre must have been well known and well displayed all over the region.  While Judah and other nations are suffering at the hands of Babylon, Tyre is showing off its wealth—but not for long.

The lesson in the quarterly focuses on this, so I want to talk about pride.

Thought 4:  Let’s first discuss what pride is.  Being proud is not exactly the same as pride.  When I say I am proud of my son or proud of my students who do well, I essentially mean that I am pleased, happy, full of joy at their success.  It’s an expression of approval to them.  It doesn’t necessarily mean I take credit for it, it’s all about me.

However, when it crosses the line into “I am the one responsible for this, they wouldn’t have done it without me, it’s all about me, and let’ leave God’s blessings out of it” it goes too far and becomes Biblical pride. 

The old saying is “the center of ‘sin’ and ‘pride’ is ‘I.’”  I would say self-sufficiency is the core of pride.  I am sufficient, I can do it without help, I did it without help, and therefore I am better than others are thoughts related to pride.  Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz about our “self addiction” and that’s the word I come back to.  It’s our constant going back to Me, Me, Me and the center of everything. 

The Bible speaks a lot about real pride and its evil consequences, because pride dismisses God in one’s heart even when the mouth might make religious references. 

The opposite of pride is dependence and thankfulness. 

So, what does this say about Ezekiel? In a passage that has baffled interpreters, in 28:11he moves into a description of the king of Tyre that is taken to be about the origins of Satan. 

A lesson about Satan is outside the realm of today.  In this context, the way the king of Tyre acts is an object lesson or type of how Satan operates and how he went from who he was to who he is now, and the key sin was pride that lead to rebellion.  He took what he was as a creation but rejected the source of it and believed he was the source of it.

I am not sure if we are supposed to take this entirely literally in this context, or figuratively because of its connection to a real king, but the emphasis is that
1.    Satan is created being (not a coexistent one), probably an angelic one.  He is not equal with God, and has no relation to Christ (Mormons teach he and Jesus were brothers, which is just plain weird)
2.    His core is pride and rebellion
3.    He will be judged

Thought 5:  It is interesting to me that the Middle East today is still very much like this picture in Ezekiel.  Some of these people groups still hate Israel or have tension-filled relations with them. The only exception might be Edom/Ammon, which would constitute the modern day nation of Jordan, and they seem to get along all right with Israel, despite its closeness (other side of the Jordan.)  A gentleman I teach with and who is a Presbyterian minister gave a lunch talk on his trip to Jordan and Petra and I was fascinated by it.  It is a Muslim democratic country.  That being said, there is plenty, plenty of tension and hatred toward the Jews, much of it misunderstood in US today and the level of anti-Semitism is rising worldwide, which is as the Bible indicates. 

So, the takeaways—What do you think they are?

In final burst of honest, these passages are upsetting.  Why so much destruction?  I find this so disheartening and not something that draws me to the Christian faith, which seems to have nothing to do with these prophecies of judgment over whole civilizations because of Israel, even though Israel/Judah was disobedient.   

Text of my presentation at Southern States Communication Conference on Open Educational Resources

On April 8 I spoke at SSCA on the subject of Open Educational Resources.  Here is the text of my remarks. The University System of Geo...