Archives For Theology

In an extended parable, God remarks on the heartlessness of people who fail to give newborn children the proper compassionate care that they should receive:

Eze 16:4 And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

 5 None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.

 6  And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

This passage makes clear that God wants compassionate care given to newborn babies so that they would live. When such care is not given to them, it reveals the heartlessness of those who refuse to pity them and have compassion on them.

Arguing from the lesser to the greater, how much more heartless is it not just to fail to give compassionate care to newborns but also to take steps to kill them. In the same way, aborting an unborn baby displays the heartlessness of those who put to death a human being who is helpless, innocent, and undeserving of such inhuman treatment.

O God, please bring to an end the heartlessness of abortion and infanticide. Have mercy on these helpless babies. Work in the hearts of those who are doing these heartless things so that they will repent and believe in your Son.

Come quickly, O Christ, for the sake of these who are being mercilessly slaughtered. Hear their cries, O Father.

 

 

 

 

A godly minister and his godly wife believe very strongly that everyone should be buried. They think that cremation is wrong in the sight of God. The minister and his wife both die before their three children do.

The surviving son of the minister is an ungodly man who actively promotes evil in the sight of God. A year later, he is killed in a car accident.

His two sisters and other family must decide whether to have him cremated or buried. What should they do?

Knowing the strong convictions of his parents, should they have him buried even though he was not a believer? Since his parents are already dead, does it make any difference what their beliefs were?

In 2 Chronicles 22, Scripture provides an instructive passage that reveals another important consideration about the importance of burial that pertains directly to what these family members should do.

Jehoshaphat, Ahaziah, and Jehu

Jehoshaphat was a godly king of Judah (2 Chron. 17:3-6). When he died, his son Jehoram became king (2 Chron. 21:1). Jehoram was a wicked king (2 Chron. 21:6).

When Jehoram died, his youngest son Ahaziah became king (2 Chron. 22:1). Like his father, Ahaziah was a wicked king (2 Chron. 22:3-4).

While Jehu was rendering God’s judgment upon Ahab, a very wicked king of Israel, Jehu had Ahaziah killed (2 Kings 9:27; 2 Chron. 22:9). His doing so was from God (2 Chron. 22:7).

In a striking statement about the aftermath of the death of Ahaziah, Scripture reveals that Ahaziah was buried for an instructive reason:

2Ch 22:9 And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.

Those who slew Ahaziah at the direction of Jehu buried Ahaziah because he was the son (grandson) of godly king Jehoshaphat who sought God wholeheartedly. Out of consideration for the godliness of Ahaziah’s grandfather, Ahaziah was buried when he died even though he himself was a wicked king.

Application

Just as Ahaziah was buried out of consideration for the godliness of his predecessor, the sisters and family of the wicked son who died in the accident related above should choose to bury him out of consideration for the godliness of his parents and their strong beliefs that burial is the only right thing to do. Even though this minister’s son was a wicked man himself, his surviving relatives should not choose to cremate him because his parents, even though they have already died, would not have approved at all of having their son cremated, were they still living.

Choosing to bury people who are from godly Christian families but themselves are not godly is supported by what Scripture reveals was done in the case of Ahaziah after he had been killed. The surviving relatives of such people should not choose to cremate them.

First Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5 both record one of the most important events in world history. A close comparison of those two inspired records of that event provides a profound insight about the importance of music.

The following table provides a verse-by-verse comparison of the passages. It is clear from that comparison that the author of 2 Chronicles provides information about musical ministry that took place on this occasion about which the author of 1 Kings 8 makes no mention.

1Ki 7:51 ¶ So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the LORD. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the LORD. 2Ch 5:1 ¶ Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God.
1Ki 8:1 ¶ Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.  2 ¶ Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.
2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 Wherefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king in the feast which was in the seventh month.
 3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark.
 4 And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. 5 And they brought up the ark, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up.
 5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. 6 Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
 6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. 7 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims:
 7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. 8 For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.
 8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. 9 And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day.
9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.
10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,

11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place:

 

(for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:

  12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)

  13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever:

that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;

11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.
 12 ¶ Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. 2Ch 6:1 ¶ Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
13 I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever. 2 But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever.

I’m confident that probing why this information is provided in the one account and not in the other will provide valuable insights about what the Bible teaches about music. I’m going to save my thoughts on the significance of this comparison for a later post.

Scripture warns high-level civil authorities not to consume alcohol because it puts them at risk of failing to fulfill one of their key responsibilities:

Proverbs 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Only God knows how much justice for afflicted people has been perverted by leading civil authorities who have not heeded this divine instruction. If you are a leading civil authority over people, you should not drink alcohol so that you can faithfully provide justice to afflicted people.

Balaam professed that the Lord was his God (Num. 22:18). Yet, both Testaments record that he was a wicked man who harmed God’s people greatly (Num. 31:16; Rev. 2:14).

God gave profound authentic revelation about the Messiah through him (Num. 24:15-19). God has even inscripturated that revelation for all time in the Bible.

Theologians have rightly used the authentic revelation given by God through Balaam in spite of his wickedness. We can and should learn doctrine and edify one another through the recorded oracles of Balaam that God has given to us in Scripture.

Similarly, God’s people have used songs or musical pieces that accurately convey truth about God even though they have been written by otherwise perverse people.

Given that the former practice (using divine revelation given through Balaam) is indisputably proper, are there any valid reasons to hold that it is improper for us to use good music that has been produced by ungodly sources? Should Christians use good music from ungodly sources?

God’s dealings with king Nebuchadnezzar when he reigned over ancient Babylon reveal some profound demands that God makes over all governmental leaders of every nation, including American presidents. These demands profoundly refute a grave error that American presidents must not make in their thinking.

The Divine Demand for Social Justice

Daniel poignantly appealed to king Nebuchadnezzar to turn from his sinfulness, including his failures to deal properly with the poor in his kingdom:

Dan 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

Although he was the king over the most powerful empire in the world in his day, Nebuchadnezzar needed to learn that his position of power did not mean that he could do whatever he wanted to poor people—he had to show mercy to them!

Similarly, American presidents must learn from God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar that they must show mercy to the poor. Every American president must make addressing social justice issues in his country a top priority, especially in doing what he can to show mercy to the poor.

The Divine Demand for Humility

When king Nebuchadnezzar became proud in his heart in thinking that the greatness of his city that he had built for his kingdom was the result of his exerting the might of his own power and that he had done so for the sake of glorifying his own majesty (Dan. 4:30), God abased him profoundly (Dan. 4:31-33). After God had humbled him and then restored him, he openly testified that God is able to abase those who walk in pride (Dan. 4:37).

Every president of the US needs to learn from what God did to abase Nebuchadnezzar that any greatness that he enjoys in his presidency is ultimately not because of his own resourcefulness and abilities to conduct an effective campaign and run the country well. Instead, as president, he has been put in that position of immense power by God and allowed to prosper in it so that he would humbly glorify God and govern in His fear.

The Divine Demand for Declaring the Truth about Who Reigns Over All

Nebuchadnezzar was the king of an idolatrous empire that had exalted itself greatly against the God of heaven (cf. Dan. 3). God revealed to him His demand that he had to recognize that God is the One Who reigns over all and exalts whomever He wishes to whatever positions of authority they have (Dan. 4:25).

By dealing with Nebuchadnezzar openly in a profound humiliating manner, God brought him to testify the truth about God as the One who reigns over all (Dan. 4:34-35). Every American president needs to learn from Nebuchadnezzar that God wants him to acknowledge that God is the One who reigns over all and is the One who has exalted him to his position of top authority in our nation.

Conclusion

American presidents must not make the grave error of thinking that because they govern a secular country, they are free from any obligations toward God. In spite of their exalted position over the American people, the divine demands on them remain the same as they were on Nebuchadnezzar.

Every American president must learn from God’s dealings with king Nebuchadnezzar that he must govern in the fear of God by meetings God’s demands upon him.

 

 

Job was a married man who was neither a Christian nor a Jew. God testified on two occasions that he was the most righteous man of his day (Job 1:8; 2:3).

Job did not live in a Christian or Jewish country, and we have no evidence that Job lived under a theocracy. What Job therefore tells us should be the role of civil authorities is profoundly important for a biblical understanding of what civil governments should and should not do.

In Job 31:9-11, Job speaks of what he believed would be the case had he as a married man committed adultery with another woman:

Job 31:9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door;

 10 Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

 11 For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

12 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.

Job specified that his having relations with a woman other than his wife, including his neighbor’s wife, would have been a heinous crime. As a righteous man, Job believed and taught that adultery was a horrific crime.

Job also made known that he believed that adultery was an iniquity that was “to be punished by the judges,” which shows that Job believed that civil authorities would rightly punish any such adulterous relations that he would have had. Because Job did not live in a Jewish country and as far as we know, he did not live under a theocracy, his giving this teaching provides vital revelation for what righteous people are to believe that civil authorities in any nation should do with those who commit adultery.

Based on this revelation that preceded the giving of the Mosaic Law by many hundreds of years, we learn that the Bible teaches that adultery is a heinous crime that civil governments are to punish. The Bible does not teach that adultery is a sin but not a crime.

John the Baptist, Jesus, Ananias and Sapphira, and Stephen were all buried by other believers who ministered to them at the ends of their lives. This biblical evidence points to a vital facet of how believers are to minister to one another.

Christians today should not choose cremation instead of burial because they are concerned about or unable to pay the expenses of burial. Instead, based on the biblical record, other believers should step in to provide for the burials of their brethren, whenever it is needed.

Churches, in particular, should take it upon themselves to see to it that they minister to all their members concerning the burials of their own who go to be with the Lord. Churches should have funds specifically set aside to help people in their congregations with their burial expenses, as needed. Special offerings can also be taken, with wealthier believers giving generously to help meet the final expenses of their brethren.

Scripture speaks of burial in at least 140 verses. An analysis of these verses reveals the profound importance of a proper burial.

The following listing is not in the order of the importance of each point.

Divine Commands for Burial

Deu 21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

God commanded that a criminal who was hanged had to be buried. He did not authorize cremation of the criminal’s body—the criminal had to be buried.

Mat 8:22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Luk 9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Jesus commanded that the people of whom He spoke about in this statement must bury their dead.

Divine Example of Burial

Deu 34:6 And he [God] buried him [Moses] in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

God did not bury the body of Moses to fulfill the cultural expectations that were prevalent at that time. God could have dematerialized Moses’ body in an instant, but He chose to bury him instead in a sepulcher.

Divine Favor of Burial

1Ki 14:13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.

Of all of Jeroboam’s children, only one would be buried because God judged him to be someone in whom there was found some good thing toward God. No one else of Jeroboam would be favored with the privilege of being buried.

Divine Judgment of Being Denied Burial

2Ki 9:10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.

As part of God’s fierce judgment on Jezebel, dogs would eat her and no one would bury her.

Jer 14:16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

God’s judgment on these wicked people would resulting in their being denied a burial.

Burial as the Proper Ending of Life

Ecc 6:3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

Without a life of goodness that fills one’s soul and is consummated with a burial as the proper ending of a long life where one has begotten many children, it would be better to be miscarried than to ever have been born and lived.

Renown Bestowed on Providers of Burial

Eze 39:13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. 14 And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. 15 And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog.

God specified that His people who would bury the vast hordes that He would slay would do so to their renown in the day that He would be glorified.

Divine Commendation of One Who Prepared Jesus’ Body for His Burial

Mat 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Jesus promised that Mary would be commended all over the world for what she did in preparing His body for burial.

Divinely Commissioned Proclamation of Burial as A Part of the Gospel Message

1Co 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

The burial of Jesus Christ is a divinely ordained part of the gospel message that we are commanded to proclaim to the whole world. We must be faithful to proclaim the gospel that God has commissioned us to preach and testify.

Divine Instruction about Burial

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

When we are baptized, we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Those who have been buried with Him are the ones whom the Father raises to walk in newness of life.

In keeping with the spiritual realities of what God does when He saves us, we should be buried at the end of our physical lives in entrusting ourselves to be raised from the dead by our Father who judges righteously, even as Christ did.

Conclusion

As these many biblical considerations show, a proper burial is a profoundly important teaching of Scripture. Christians should not have anything to do with the pagan practice of cremation. As much as it is possible, they should honor God by being buried and by burying their own.

 

As an aged man, Daniel the prophet bravely faced the prospect of being thrown in a den of lions because he would not stop praying to God when a law had been passed that outlawed his doing so. When he was thrown into the den, God miraculously protected him all night long so that none of the lions harmed him in any way.

King Darius eagerly went to the den very early the next morning to see what had happened to Daniel. Daniel testified to the king that God had protected him from the lions:

Dan 6:21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

What Daniel testified to the king provides us with vital instruction that goes counter to what many believers today emphasize. Instead of emphasizing to a pagan king how gracious God had been to him to deliver him in spite of his continuing sinfulness as a believer, Daniel declared that God had spared him because Daniel was innocent of any wrongdoing before both God and the king.

Daniel thus gave what many believers today would regard as a shocking testimony that his own excellence in living a righteous life before God and man was the basis for why God spared him. We should learn from this shocking testimony of this exceedingly godly prophet that striving to live a blameless life before God and man is an essential matter for every believer, especially for those in public service.

We should also learn that it is a proper thing to testify to lost people that God has been good to us in part because we have striven to live righteously before Him. Giving such a testimony does not mean we are touting our own goodness in an ungodly way nor does it mean that we depend any less on the grace of God than do those believers who are always talking about the grace of God and constantly deprecating their own righteousness before God and man.