Hatred

~How Do I Press On After Being Rejected as “His” Minister~

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Have you ever walked out of a church service in a daze? You know the message was good, but you don’t know what it was about. You tried to understand what the preacher was getting at, but you’re not quite sure. You look at your Bible, look at the preacher, look back at your Bible and are a little confused. He didn’t help you understand what God was saying.

header_claritypreaching

Could any of this uncertainty be because you knew the preacher before he excepted his calling? Maybe it has everything to do with how you and the preacher willfully participated in sin together before the pastor or preacher was regenerated into a vessel of honor. Maybe it’s because of the taste morsels of gossip coming from those trusted friends that have an ought against him. I went to preach a “YOUTH” day service at such a church on Sunday and the rejection of the adults prompted me to search scripture to try and gain some leverage on this matter. I always want to improve my level of maturity in Christ.

To reject someone is to refuse to accept them. For example, if a man applied for a job with a company and they decide to not accept his application then they have rejected him.

The word rejection means that someone is either in the process of being rejected (not accepted) or has already been rejected.

Most people want to be liked so it is difficult when we are not accepted. This rejection may be because of the way we look, our personality or our behavior. To be rejected is an unpleasant thing to be cast on to you. It can be extremely hurtful.

Rejection by those close to you

Rejection from those close to you can be extremely painful because we trust these people more than others.

Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”  

Mark Ch.6:4  NIV

Jesus says in this verse that a worker for God (prophet) is never honored in his hometown. But this didn’t slow down his work for God, as this work was far more important than being respected or honored by others. If family, neighbors or friends don’t respect your work for God then don’t let this rejection stop you from serving God.

Overcoming rejection through teamwork

When the disciples travelled through the countryside, they did it in pairs. As individuals they probably could have reached more areas of the country but Christ didn’t want this. He decided that as a pair they could encourage and strengthen each other, especially when they were facing rejection. When we are facing rejection we can get strength from God but he also encourages us to meet our needs by teamwork with others.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians Ch.3: 9  NIV

Serving Christ requires us to work with others – as a team.

Overcoming rejection by drawing close to God

Christ gave an example of complete trust in God.

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.  1 Peter Ch.2:23

The example of Christ was one of absolute non-resistance to evil and complete trust in God. He could have avoided all his trials (Matthew 26:53), but he knew that the path of salvation lay through suffering and death, and like a good shepherd , he led the way. He overcame the rejection by others by putting complete trust in God.

Rejection of others

We are told by Paul to not reject others but rather accept each other.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  Romans Ch.15:7

Accept other believers and don’t reject them on the basis of some trivial matter.

Rejection by God?

God promises never to leave or forsake us.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews Ch.13:5  NIV

God confirmed to Israel that we had not left them:

For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.  Psalm 94:14  NIV

Paul made a similar point to the first century believers:

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel:  

Romans Ch.11:1-2  NIV

Even though Israel had rejected their Messiah and had refused to listen to Paul’s preaching, God’s promises were still relevant. If it is true for the Israelites then how much more so for the believer! God will never leave us or forsake us, providing we do not leave him.

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”  Hebrews Ch.12:5-6

Silence – Rejection by God?

Job suffered a lot in his life. He was especially upset because God was silent and gave no reasons for his suffering. Job misinterpreted this silence as meaning that God was rejecting him. This apparent rejection by God bothered Job even more than any suffering he was going through.

“Only grant me these two things, O God, and then I will not hide from you: withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors.  Job Ch.13: 20 – 21  NIV

Job didn’t want God to “withdraw your hand far from me”, in other words, reject him. God’s silence does not mean he has rejected us. Sometimes we will intervene in our lives in unseen ways.

Rejection of God

Sometimes, through our actions and thoughts we can make the mistake of rejecting God. This can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Selfishness

Sometimes selfishness can lead us to rejecting God. The Israelites did this:

You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’  

 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’ “

Malachi Ch.3:13-15

So here is a case showing the people’s arrogant attitude toward God. They basically rejected God saying “It is foolish to worship God and obey him. What good does it do to obey his laws, and to sorrow and mourn for our sins ? From now on, as far as we are concerned, Blessed are the arrogant, for those who do evil shall prosper, and those who dare God to punish them shall get off scot-free”.

So, we can see from these verses that selfishness is a rejection of God and all that he represents. Is that the same with us sometimes? Do we sometimes ask “what good does serving God do for me?”. If we do then our focus is selfish. Our real question should be “What good does serving God do for God?”

  1. Trusting our own judgement more than God’s judgement

There are many people in this world who ignore the evidence of God’s existence. The Bible tells us that these people are foolish.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.Psalm 14:1

There are others who are wicked because they refuse to live by God’s commandments. We become like these people when we rely more on ourself than on God.

  1. Trusting other humans more than God

Some people put church leaders or other people before God.

This has happened in the past as well. For example in the time Of Samuel. The true king of Israel was God. However, the nation of Israel wanted another king.

Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the LORD at Mizpah and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’  But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.”  1 Samuel Ch.10: 17-19  NIV

Israel rejected God by asking for a human being instead of God as their guide and leader. If we look at history we can see that men and women have continually rejected God. This practice continues even today. We need to look at our lives and decide what is our highest priority. If we push God aside and treat someone or something else as being more important then we are rejecting God. There are many examples in the Bible for us to learn from and they all teach one thing – God should be foremost in our life.

  1. Not taking up God’s offer of salvation

God loved us so much they he gave us his only begotten son. Jesus perfect life, his truthful words and his sacrifice of love are designed so that we sit up and take notice and follow the example of Jesus. If we do this we are taking up God’s offer of salvation.

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone [cornerstone]; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?  Matthew Ch.21:42  NIV

However, if we ignore God’s gracious gift of his son, then we rejecting God himself.

Summary

As we might expect, the people whom God condemns are those who do not recognise their need and who are unwilling to submit to God and His word. Such were the Pharisees:

They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.  Matthew Ch.23:4

Such men are self-righteous and have lost their sense of dependence upon God. They may be divided into three classes:

  1. Those who ignore God’s word completely, who are willingly ignorant:

Like the people who lived in the days of Noah, they refuse to heed the warnings given by those who preach the way of righteousness. They deliberately choose to remain in darkness. Noah had certainly preached to his contemporaries, but when the flood came “they knew not”. They knew all right; they had heard the message, after a fashion. But inasmuch as they did not want to know, their ears had been shut to Noah’s saving message. The disciples were told to “shake the dust off their feet” when leaving the houses of such people.

  1. Those who deliberately distort it or reject God’s word:

The Lord refers to blasphemers against the Holy Spirit, for whom there is no forgiveness. These are “false prophets” who present a distorted gospel and invite men to believe in a hope founded upon the quicksand of human reasoning.

  1. Those whose lives do not sincerely attempt to reflect God’s word:

They are hypocrites, who act out a part when it serves their purposes; their piety is based upon self-interest. The Lord has a stern warning for those who hear the word of God but either ignore its directions, or manipulate its teaching to suit themselves:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.   Matthew Ch.7:21

It is evident that although God’s love for man was such that He willingly provided His Son to give his life for our sakes, the very lengths to which He went are a vivid reminder that God does not tolerate disobedience. It is not in man’s interests that He should do so: God wants us to be obedient to His commands, because He knows that this is to our eternal advantage.

~Ferguson,Texas, California, New York-America-Your Plan Is Exposed~

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I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.”

– President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014

“There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?”

– President Barack Obama, July 19, 2013

A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed

Mr. Nolan,

When I first responded to you, I didn’t think that it would cause people to reach out to me and voice their opinions. I’ve never been on the internet in my life and I’m not fully aware of the social circles on the internet, so it was a surprise to receive reactions so quickly.

I learned that some of the responses on your website were positive and some negative. I can only appreciate the conversation. Osho once said that one person considered him like an angel and another person considered him like a devil, he didn’t attempt to refute neither perspective because he said that man does not judge based on the truth of who you are, but on the truth of who they are.

Your words struck a chord with me. You said that my perspective is different and therefore my words have a sort of value. Yet, you’re talking to a young man that’s been judged unworthy to breathe the same air you breathe. That’s like a hobo on the street walking up to you and you ask him for spare change.

Without any questions, you’ve given me a blank canvas. I’ll only address what’s on my heart. Next month, the State of Texas has resolved to kill me like some kind of rabid dog, so indirectly, I guess my intention is to use this as some type of platform because this could be my final statement on earth.

I think ’empathy’ is one of the most powerful words in this world that is expressed in all cultures. This is my underlining theme. I do not own a dictionary, so I can’t give you the Oxford or Webster definition of the word, but in my own words, empathy means ‘putting the shoe on the other foot.’

Empathy. A rich man would look at a poor man, not with sympathy, feeling sorrow for the unfortunate poverty, but also not with contempt, feeling disdain for the man’s poverish state, but with empathy, which means the rich man would put himself in the poor man’s shoes, feel what the poor man is feeling, and understand what it is to be the poor man.

Empathy breeds proper judgement. Sympathy breeds sorrow. Contempt breeds arrogance. Neither are proper judgements because they’re based on emotions. That’s why two people can look at the same situation and have totally different views. We all feel differently about a lot of things. Empathy gives you an inside view. It doesn’t say ‘If that was me…’, empathy says, ‘That is me.’

What that does is it takes the emotions out of situations and forces us to be honest with ourselves. Honesty has no hidden agenda. Thoreau proposed that ‘one honest man’ could morally regenerate an entire society.

Looking through the eyes of empathy & honesty, I’ll address some of the topics you mentioned. It’s only my perspective.

The Justice system is truly broken beyond repair and the sad part is there is no way to start over. Improvements can be made. If honest people stand up, I think they will be made over time. I know the average person isn’t paying attention to all the laws constantly being passed by state & federal legislation. People are more focused on their jobs, raising kids and trying to find entertainment in between time. The thing is, laws are being changed right and left.

A man once said that revolution comes when you inform people of their rights. Martin Luther King said a revolution comes by social action and legal action working hand in hand. I’m not presenting any radical revolutionary view, the word revolution just means change. America changes as the law changes.

Under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution all prisoners in America are considered slaves. We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery. That was the reason for the protests by prisoners in Georgia in 2010. They said they were tired of being treated like slaves. People need to know that when they sit on trial juries and sentence people to prison time that they are sentencing them to slavery.

If a prisoner refuses to work and be a slave, they will do their time in isolation as a punishment. You have thousands of people with a lot of prison time that have no choice but to make money for the government or live in isolation. The affects of prison isolation literally drive people crazy. Who can be isolated from human contact and not lose their mind? That was the reason California had an uproar last year behind Pelican Bay. 33,000 inmates across California protested refusing to work or refusing to eat on hunger-strikes because of those being tortured in isolation in Pelican Bay.

I think prison sentences have gotten way out of hand. People are getting life sentences for aggravated crimes where no violence had occurred. I know a man who was 24 years old and received 160 years in prison for two aggravated robberies where less that $500 was stole and no violence took place. There are guys walking around with 200 year sentences and they’re not even 30 years old. Its outrageous. Giving a first time felon a sentence beyond their life span is pure oppression. Multitudes of young people have been thrown away in this generation.

The other side of the coin is there are those in the corporate world making money off prisoners, so the longer they’re in prison, the more money is being made. It’s not about crime & punishment, it’s about crime & profit. Prison is a billion dollar industry. In 1996, there were 122 prisons opened across America. Companies were holding expos in small towns showing how more prisons would boost the economy by providing more jobs.

How can those that invest in prisons make money if people have sentences that will allow them to return to free society? If people were being rehabilitated and sent back into the cities, who would work for these corporations? That would be a bad investment. In order for them to make money, people have to stay in prison and keep working. So the political move is to tell the people they’re tough on crime and give people longer sentences.

Chuck Colson, former advisor to the President once said that they were passing laws to be tough on crime, but they didn’t even know who the laws were affecting. It wasn’t until the Watergate scandal and Colson himself going to prison that he learned who the laws were affecting. Colson ended up forming the largest prison ministry in America. He also foreseen in his book THE GOD OF SPIDERS & STONES that America was forming a new society within its prisons. Basically, that prison would become a nation inside this nation. He predicted that over a million people would be locked up by the year 2000. The book was written in the 8O’s. Now, its 2014 and almost two million people are locked up. It’s not that crime is the issue. Crime still goes on daily. It’s that the politics surrounding crime have changed and it has become a numbers game. Dollars & Cents. You have people like Michael Jordan who invest millions of dollars in the prison system. Any shrewed businessman would if you have no empathy for people locked up and you just want to make some money.

I don’t agree with the death penalty. It’s a very Southern practice from that old lynching mentality. Almost all executions take place in the South with a few exceptions here and there. Texas is the leading State by far. I’m not from Texas. I was raised in California. Coming from the West Coast to the South was like going back in time. I didn’t even think real cowboys existed. Texas is a very ‘country’ state, aside a few major cities. There are still small towns that a black person would not be welcomed. California is more of a melting pot. I grew up in the Bay Area where its very diverse.

The death penalty needs to be abolished. Life without parole is still a death sentence. The only difference is time. To say you need to kill a person in a shorter amount of time is just seeking revenge on that person.

If the death penalty must exist, I think it should only be for cases where more than one person is killed like these rampant shootings that have taken place around the country the last few years. Also, in a situation of terrorism.

If you’re not giving the death penalty for murder, then the government is already saying that the taking of one’s life is not worth the death penalty. Capital murder is if you take someone’s life and commit another felony at the same time. That’s Texas law. That makes a person eligible for the death penalty The problem is, you’re not getting the death penalty for murder, you’re actually getting it for the other felony. That doesn’t make common sense. You can kill a man but you will not get the death penalty……if you kill a man and take money out his wallet, now you can get the death penalty.

I’m on death row and yet I didn’t commit the act of murder. I was convicted under the law of parties. When people read about the case, they assume I killed the victim, but the facts are undisputed that I did not kill the victim. The one who killed him plead guilty to capital murder for a life sentence. He admitted to the murder and has never denied it. Under the Texas law of parties, they say it doesn’t matter whether I killed the victim or not, I’m criminally responsible for someone else’s conduct. But I was the only one given the death penalty.

The law of parties is a very controversial law in Texas. Most Democrats stand against it. It allows the state to execute someone who did not commit the actual act of murder. There are around 50 guys on death row in Texas who didn’t kill anybody, but were convicted as a party.

The lethal injection has become a real controversial issue here of late because states are using drugs that they’re not authorize to use to execute people. The lethal injection is an old Nazi practice deriving from the Jewish Holocaust. To use that method to kill people today, when it’s unconstitutional to use it on dogs, is saying something very cruel and inhumane. People don’t care because they think they’re killing horrible people. No empathy. Just contempt.

I understand that it’s not popular to talk about race issues these days, but I speak on the subject of race because I hold a burden in my heart for all the young blacks who are locked up or who see the street life as the only means to make something of themselves. When I walked into prison at 19 years old, I said to myself ‘Damn, I have never seen so many black dudes in my life’. I mean, it looked like I went to Africa. I couldn’t believe it. The lyrics of 2Pac echoed in my head, ‘The penitentiary is packed/ and its filled with blacks’.

It’s really an epidemic, the number of blacks locked up in this country. That’s why I look, not only at my own situation, but why all of us young blacks are in prison. I’ve come to see, it’s largely due to an indentity crisis. We don t know our history. We don’t know how to really indentify with white people. We are really of a different culture, but by being slaves, we lost ourselves.

When you have a black man name John Williams and a white man name John Williams, the black man got his name from the white man. Within that lies a lost of identity. There are blacks in this country that don’t even consider themselves African. Well, what are we? When did we stop being African? If you ask a young black person if they’re African, they will say ‘No, I’m American’. They’ve lost their roots. They think slavery is their roots. Again, its a strong identity crisis.

You take the identity crisis, mix it with capitalism, where money comes before empathy, and you’ll have a lot of young blacks trying to get money by any means because they’re trying to get out of poverty or stay out of poverty. Now, money is what they try to find an identity in. They feel like if they get rich, legal or illegal, they’ve become somebody. Which in America is partly true because superficially we hail the rich and despise the poor. We give Jay-Z more credit than we do Al Sharpton. What has Jay-Z done besides get rich? Yet we see dollar signs and somehow give more respect to the man with the money.

A French woman who moved to America asked me one day, ‘Why don’t black kids want to learn?’ Her husband was a high school teacher. She said the white and asian kids excel in school, but the black and hispanic kids don’t. I said that all kids want to learn, it’s just a matter of what you’re trying to teach them. Cutting a frog open is not helping a black kid in the ghetto who has to listen to police sirens all night and worry about getting shot. Those kids need life lessons. They need direction. When you have black kids learning more about the Boston Tea Party than the Black Panther Party, I guarantee you won’t keep their attention. But it was the Black Panther Party that got them free lunch.

People point their fingers at young blacks, call them thugs and say they need to pull up their pants. That’s fine, but you’re not feeding them any knowledge. You’re not giving them a vision. All you’re saying is be a square like me. They’re not going to listen to you because you have guys like Jay-Z and Rick Ross who are millionaires and sag their pants. Changing the way they dress isn’t changing the way they think. As the Bible says, ‘Where there’s no vision the people perish’. Young blacks need to learn their identity so they can have more respect for the blacks that suffered for their liberties than they have for someone talking about selling drugs over a rap beat who really isn’t selling drugs.

They have to be exposed to something new. Their minds have to be challenged, not dulled. They know the history of the Crips & Bloods, but they can’t tell you who Garvey or Robeson is. They can quote Drake & Lil Wayne but they can’t tell you what Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton has done. Across the nation, they gravitate to Crips & Bloods. I tell those I know the same thing, not to put blue & red before black. They were black first. It’s senseless, but they are trying to find a purpose to live for and if a gang gives them a sense of purpose that’s what they will gravitate to. They aren’t being taught to live and die for something greater. They’re not being challenged to do better.

Black history shouldn’t be a month, it should be a course, an elective taught year around. I guarantee black kids would take that course if it was available to them. How many black kids would change their outlook if they knew that they were only considered 3/5’s of a human being according to the U.S Constitution? That black people were considered part animal in this country. They don’t know that. When you learn that, you carry yourself with a different level of dignity for all we’ve overcome.

Before Martin Luther King was killed he drafted a bill called ‘The Bill for the Disadvantaged’. It was for blacks and poor whites. King understood that in order to have a successful life, you have to decrease the odds of failure. You have to change the playing field. I’m not saying there’s no personal responsibility for success, that goes without saying, but there’s also a corporate responsibility. As the saying goes, when you see someone who has failed, you see someone who was failed.

Neither am I saying that advantages are always circumstancial. Sometimes its knowledge or opportunity that gives an advantage. A lot of times it is the circumstances. Flowers grow in gardens, not in hard places. Using myself as an example, I was 15 when my first love got shot 9 times in Oakland. Do you think I m going to care about book reports when my girlfriend was shot in the face? I understand Barack Obama saying there is no excuse for blacks or anyone else because generations past had it harder than us. That’s true. However, success is based on probabilities and the odds. Everyone is not on a level playing field. For some, the odds are really stacked against them. I’m not saying they can’t be overcome, but it’s not likely.

I’m not trying to play the race card, I’m looking at the roots of why so many young blacks are locked up. The odds are stacked against us, we suffer from an identity crisis, and we’re being targeted more, instead of taught better. Ask any young black person their views on the Police, I assure you their response will not be positive. Yet if you have something against the Police, who represent the government, you cannot sit on a trial jury. A young black woman was struck from the jury in my case because she said she sees the Police as ‘intimidators’. She never had a good experience with the Police like most young blacks, but even though she’s just being true to her experience, she’s not worthy to take part as a juror in a trial.

White people really don’t understand how it extreme it is to be judged by others outside your race. In the book TRIAL & ERROR: THE TEXAS DEATH PENALTY Lisa Maxwell paints this picture to get the point across and if any white person reading this is honest with themselves, they will clearly understand the point. I cannot quote it word for word, but this was the gist of it…

Imagine you’re a young white guy facing capital murder charges where you can receive the death penalty… the victim in the case is a black man… when you go to trial and step into the courtroom… the judge is a black man… the two State prosecutors seeking the death penalty on you… are also black men… you couldn’t afford an attorney, so the Judge appointed you two defense lawyers who are also black men… you look in the jury box… there’s 8 more black people and 4 hispanics… the only white person in the courtroom is you… How would you feel facing the death penalty? Do you believe you’ll receive justice?

As outside of the box as that scene is, those were the exact circumstances of my trial. I was the only black person in the courtroom.

Again, I’m not playing the race card, but empathy is putting the shoe on the other foot.

The last thing on my heart is about religion and the death penalty. There are several well-known preachers in Texas and across the South that teach their congregations that the death penalty is right by God and backed by the Bible. The death penalty is a governmental issue not a spiritual issue. Southern preachers who advocate the death penalty are condoning evil. They need to learn the legalities of capital punishment. The State may have the power to put people to death, but don’t preach to the public that it’s God’s will. It’s the State’s will.

If God wanted me to die for anything, I would be dead already. I talk to God everday. He’s not telling me I’m some kind of menace that He can’t wait to see executed. God is blessing me daily. God is showing me His favor & grace on my life. Like Paul said, I was the chief of sinners, but God had mercy on me because He knew I was ignorant. The blood of Abel cryed vengeance, the blood of Jesus cryed mercy.

There are preachers like John Hagee in San Antonio who have influence over thousands of people, who not only attend his church, but also watch his TV program, and hear him condoning the death penalty. Hagee doesn’t see his Southern mentality condones the death penalty, not the scriptures. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that condones the way Texas executes people today.

Southern preachers use scriptures like God telling Noah, ‘Whoever shed’s man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed’. ‘That’s murder. Under Texas law, you cannot receive the death penalty for murder. There is no such thing as capital murder in the Bible, where murder must be in the course of another felony. Yet, they preach capital punishment is God’s will. Even if you’re guilty of capital murder in Texas, it doesn’t mean you’ll receive the death penalty. People get the death penalty when a jury has judged them to be a ‘continuing threat to society’. ‘That means they are deemed so bad that they have no hope of redemption or change in their behavior. That is the only reason a person gets the death penalty. They are suppose to be the absolute worse of the worse, so terrible that they cannot live in prison with other murderers.

That in itself is contrary to the whole Christian faith that believes no one is beyond redemption if they repent for their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ. For a Christian to advocate the death penalty is a complete contradiction.

As easy as it is for a preacher to stand up in the pulpit with a Bible and tell thousands of people the death penalty is right, I challenge any preacher in Texas, John Hagee or any others to come visit me and tell me that God wants me to die. Martin Luther King said, ‘Capital punishment shows that America is a merciless nation that will not forgive.’

Again, Mr. Nolan, this is only my perspective. I’m just the hobo on the street giving away my pennies. A doctor can’t look at a person and see cancer, they have to look beyond the surface. When you look at the Justice system, the Death Penalty, or anything else, it takes one to go beyond the surface. Proper diagnosis is half the cure.

I’m a father. My daughter was six weeks old when I got locked up and now she’s 15 in high school. Despite the circumstances, I’ve tryed to be the best father in the world. But I knew that her course in life is largely determine by what I teach her. It’s the same with any young person, their course is determined by what we are teaching them. In the words of Aristotle, ‘All improvement in society begins with the education of the young.’

A Matter Of Perspective

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It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that most notably stated, “all progress is precarious and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” I had never contemplated my personal success as precarious progress, or that my success to this point could bring any non-materialistic problems, but I now find myself, like many of my fellow successful, young, black men, in a moment of crisis

The exact contours of my story do not parallel every young successful black male’s life, for some their path diverged in high school or college, for others they did not feel like an anomaly until they took their first job after school, and still for some the crisis has yet to make itself apparent. By way of example, I have several black male friends who recently graduated from law school and are trying to figure out what their impact will be with their newly attained degree. At the same time, I have black male colleagues who work at major Wall Street firms and are now trying to figure out where they should be spending their time and energy. Yet, despite the differences, the common threads of educational attainment, exceptionalism, and ambition are apparent. And now many of us have realized that we are in a metaphorical no-man’s land, where no one can guide us or point the way.

 

We are now forced to make it up as we go along and for many of us this is a nerve-wracking reality. Up to this point, we simply did the next logical thing, graduated from high school, went to college, took a career-oriented job track where we would be an associate for a few years before trying to move up, or went to professional school where we would pass the requisite exams and enter our professional careers. But now that we are here, where there is no next logical step, simply a vast number of opportunities, many of us find ourselves trying to answer the larger questions of life, like what I am supposed to do while I am alive, in order to gain a sense of direction.

I am sure that everyone who continues to be ambitious and pursue ever far-fetched goals eventually comes to the place that I just described. So, what makes it a crisis for young, successful black men, but simply a part of life for some others? The short answer is that it is a crisis because there are so few examples of high levels of success from which black men can mold a path.

Over the last 200 years of American history, there has been one African-American male President, one African-American male Attorney General, one African-American male Secretary of State, and two African-American male Supreme Court Justices. There is currently one African-American male governor, there have only been four in American History. Five (0.83%) of the Fortune 500 CEOs are African-American men. Approximately 1% of all law firm partners are African-American men. There has been one African-American male Surgeon General in American history. And fewer than six percent of all high-ranking military officers are African-American.

All of these statistics are an attempt to paint the picture that these laudable successes reinforce the crisis. The rarity of these accomplishments sends the message to similarly aspiring black men that getting into these positions comes with no guidebook, nor general path. Some might suggest that for many of the positions I cited there is no general path for anyone because so few people ever rise to those levels of success. However, this critique misses the point. For each position I named, there is a more or less common route, but those routes have not applied to African-American men who attained those positions.

I want to switch the tone from my perspective to a spiritual perspective to gaze into the scriptures to see how God views using peoples perspective verses His.

Exodus 14:1-14

The Message (MSG)
The Story and Song of Salvation

14 1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon.

3-4 “Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.’ Then I’ll make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn again and he’ll chase after them. And I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”

And that’s what happened.

5-7 When the king of Egypt was told that the people were gone, he and his servants changed their minds. They said, “What have we done, letting Israel, our slave labor, go free?” So he had his chariots harnessed up and got his army together. He took six hundred of his best chariots, with the rest of the Egyptian chariots and their drivers coming along.

8-9 God made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, determined to chase the Israelites as they walked out on him without even looking back. The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with them where they had made camp by the sea—all Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots and their riders, all his foot soldiers there at Pi Hahiroth opposite Baal Zephon.

10-12 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!

They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.

14 God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Whether that question is posed during a business meeting, a church council, or a family discussion, it often springs from a sense of exasperation in trying to comprehend why someone has acted in a certain way. More often than not, the answer is a matter of perspective.

If we had been among the Israelites leaving Egypt after four hundred years of slavery, we would likely have seen Pharaoh as part of the problem–and he was. yet God saw something more. Inexplicably, the Lord told Moses to take the people back towards Egypt and camp with their backs to the Red Sea so Pharaoh would attack them. The Israelites thought they were going to die, but God said that He would gain glory and honor for Himself through Pharaoh and all his army, “and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord”.

When we simply cannot understand why God allows circumstances that threaten to overwhelm us, it’s good to remember that He has our good and His glory in mind. If we can say, “Father, please enable me to trust and honor you in this situation”, then we will be in concert with His perspective and plan.

Your words of pure, eternal truth
Shall yet unshaken stay,
When all that man has thought or planned,
Like chaff shall pass away.

Faith helps us accept what we cannot understand……

Lance Gross Shares Letter To George Zimmerman: This Is ‘What It’s Like To Be A Black Man’

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Stevie Wonder won’t be performing in Florida anytime soon.

In the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal, the singer said he would not be performing in the Sunshine State until its Stand Your Ground law is “abolished.” He also said he would not be performing in any other state that recognizes the law, which some say contributed to Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012.

“I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” Wonder said Sunday while performing in Quebec City. “As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”
Zimmerman Letterr-LANCE-GROSS-GEORGE-ZIMMERMAN-large570

George Zimmerman’s recent acquittal in the fatal 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has sparked widespread protests and reactions across the country, with many of Hollywood’s elite leveraging their social influence to add their voices in response to the trial’s verdict.

Actor Lance Gross is the latest celebrity to weigh in on the jury’s decision. Gross took to his Instagram account on Sunday to share an open letter, written by Alex Fraser, that was addressed to the 29-year-old former neighborhood watchman:Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder for fatally shooting the teen on Saturday evening. Following the verdict, the Department of Justice released a statement on Sunday detailing that they’re continuing to evaluate whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges against the neighborhood watchman.


Some people are too quickly satisfied with Jesus’ blessings, others are never satisfied with Jesus’ blessings. These extreme types remind me of two stories.
A food editor of the local newspaper received a telephone call from a woman inquiring HOW LONG to cook a 22-pound turkey. “Just a minute,” said the food editor, turning to consult a chart. “Thank you very much,” replied the novice cook, and hung up!
In a region of Mexico HOT AND COLD SPRINGS are found side by side. Because of the convenience of this natural phenomenon the women often bring their laundry, boil their clothes in the hot spring and then rinse them in the cold spring. A tourist watching this procedure commented to his Mexican guide, “They must think mother nature is generous to freely supply such ample clean hot and cold water.” The guide replied, “No, señor, there is much grumbling because she does not supply the soap.”

hopeless and depressed group of lepers had huddled together outside one of the many villages on the border of Samaria and Galilee. They were marked men and possibly women, for their inflamed, scaly, splotchy skin condemned them as people to be avoided. Their common misery forced different races of outcast together, in spite of inter-racial hatred, as, in a flood, wolves and sheep will huddle close on a spot of high ground.
It was a despised fellowship drawn together in mutual wretchedness and in permanent separation from others. [They were outcast like many in third world countries who have AIDS are today.] Into this deplorable seemly hopeless scene walks Jesus and lives are given the opportunity to change. Those lives that day sought and received external physical change for that was all they were after. Being satisfied they went on their way. Those that did missed out on the greatest blessing Jesus offers to the one who returns to Him.
May I ask you a personal question? Have you too been satisfied with the external blessings that you have received from Jesus and gone on about your life? Or, in your gratitude, have you returned to Him and received an internal change that is eternal and for which you are continually grateful?

I. THE LEPERS’ CRY, 12-14a.
II. THE HEALING OF THE OBEDIENT, 14b.
III. THE RETURN OF THE THANKFUL, 15-16.
IV. THE LORD’S REACTION, 17-19.

While Jesus was headed toward His crucifixion He passed through Samaria. The Jews had no dealings nor friendship with these mix breeds and considered that even meeting them made one [ceremonially] unclean. But it seems that the diseased and afflicted of all races joined together in leper colonies. Verses 11-13 begin the story of the encounter Jesus had with ten lepers. “And it came about while He was on the way to Jerusalem; that He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
Levitical law prescribed the distance that lepers were to be separated from non-infected people (Lev. 13:38-46; Num. 5:2-4). Thus in order to be heard they had to cry aloud. It must have been an effort for one of the effects of leprosy is a hoarse whisper. Desperate need though often gives the body heightened physical power.
Their cry for mercy indicates that they had some knowledge of Jesus. They had heard stories of the Compassionate Healer that ministered health to those with incurable physical debilities. They had heard He was coming or perhaps they recognized Him, but in any case they addressed Him from afar.
They called Him by name, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us.” The word Master in the Greek means “Chief Commander”[ έπιστάτα -epistáta]. They recognized that Jesus was commander and chief even over disease. The question was would Jesus have mercy. Would one such as He help those such as them? Those who have been beaten down by people and difficult circumstances in life don’t often find persons capable and compassionate enough to help.
So they cry out for mercy because in Him they experienced a germination of hope and faith touching them in their desperate need. But even their dire situation had not caused them to look at their deeper even more serious need, so they called out for Him to meet their physical need. They want Jesus to be nothing more than a fixer of life, a healer of body and circumstances. As earthy and fleshy as their desires were, they did open themselves up to Jesus so that His mercy could touch them. Jesus’ mercy is ever ready to flow into every situation and life, just as water naturally flows to the lowest levels.

The answer to the ten lepers comes quickly from what we discover in verse 14a. “And when He saw them, He said to them, Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
Jesus seems to have approached the lepers for it was when He saw, not when He heard, that He spoke to them. Jesus was not one to cry aloud in the streets, nor does He simply cure from afar but He draws near to those He heals that they may see His kind face and be touched by His compassion and love.
His command to show themselves to the priests recognized and honored the law (Lev. 14:1-32), as the unclean had to be declared clean to reenter society. But the main purpose of His command was no doubt to test and thereby to strengthen the lepers’ faith. For them to set out to the priests while they saw and felt themselves full of leprosy would seem absurd, unless they believe that Jesus could and would heal them. He gives no promise that He would heal but asks for obedience and in the obedience there was the implication of healing. He utters no outward word of sympathy. His compassion is not released through His words or treatment. He simply speaks a command. [Maclaren, Alexander. Expositions of Holy Scripture. Baker. Grand Rapids. 1974. pp. 128-129.]
You too may be told to be obedient and never experience the compassion that Jesus has for you. Yet never doubt that His direct commands come from a heart of love. We too will sometimes be asked to act on the assumption that Jesus will grant our request even when we see no evidence of it. We too will sometimes need to set out in obedience as we, so to speak, still feel the leprosy or affliction.

II. THE HEALING OF THE OBEDIENT, 14b.
In the second half of verse 14 we learn what occurred on the walk to Jerusalem. “And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed.”
The ten of them set off at once. They had gotten the word they wanted from the Lord and thought little more about Him. So they turned their backs on Him and headed off. How strange the experience must have been. For as they walked in obedience to His command they begin to feel the gradual creeping sense of soundness returning to their bodies! How much more joyful and confident their steps must have been as health returned and asserted itself in their bodies! The cure is sent forth in silence from Christ. His very thought and their obedience to His word effected the cure. He willed, and as they walked in obedience to His word, it was done.
The lepers responded in faith and Jesus healed them on the way. Many times our spiritual, mental, emotional and yes physical healing comes to us as we respond in faith to Jesus’ forth-right commands. Be it to wash in the Jordan [2 Kings 5:1-14] or to minister the Word of life to a neighbor or in far off Africa, we need to heed His word to us. Is your trust in God so strong that you will act on what He says even before you see evidences that it will work? I hope we do not need to be reduced to the desperate need of a leper to be so inclined.

III. THE THANKFUL RETURN, 15-16.
Verse 15 records the one recipient with a responsive, grateful soul. “Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice.”
One man was moved by gratefulness to acknowledge the significance of what had been done for him. When he realized that he was healed, thanksgiving and praise awakened within him. So he turns back to offer praise. Was it disobedient to turn back to give thanks? It is never disobedient to be thankful. A grateful heart knows that its first and highest duty is to give thanks. How like us all this scene is. God does something marvelous and we hurry away clutching our blessings and never cast a thought back to the Giver!
What a miracle had occurred. The awful incurable disease that had rob them of life and isolated them from life was taken away in a simple act of obedience. You might have expected all ten to return rejoicing and praising Jesus and thanking Him for a new start in life, but only one does. This leper’s voice had returned to Him and His loud public praises were very different from the strained croak of his plea for healing. He knew that he had two to thank, God and Jesus. He did not yet realize that these two were one.

Verse 16 continues to tell of the exuberant thankfulness of the responsive soul. “And he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.”
Because of His healing he can come much nearer to Jesus now. So he runs to Jesus and falls at His beautiful feet. At the feet of Jesus in a posture of worship he pours out the love in his heart with thanksgiving. Thankfulness brings us close to Jesus and knits our heart to Him.
Jesus healed all ten lepers, but only one returned to thank Him. It is possible to receive God’s great gifts with an ungrateful spirit–nine of the ten men did so. Only the thankful man, however, learned that his faith had played a role in his healing; and only grateful Christians grow in understanding God’s grace. God does not demand that we thank Him, but He is pleased when we do so. He then uses our responsiveness to teach us more about Himself.
Jesus notices those who come back to say, “Thank you.” In fact, according to Malachi 3:16, what we say concerning the things the Lord has done for us, His blessings to us, His faithfulness to us are written in a Book of Remembrance. Some parents keep a book in which to record their children’s first words, first steps, and growth. So, too, the Lord keeps a books recording the words, walk, and growth of His children. The question is, how big is yours? I suggest the Lord needs many volumes to contain the thanksgiving of some of His kids. For others, a single pamphlet will do.
When a prostitute began to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and dry them with her hair, Jesus said to his host, “When I came into your home, you didn’t greet Me with a kiss or wash My feet”—which means that Jesus not only notices what people do, but what they fail to do for Him (Luke 7:44–46). How many blessings has the Lord given me today without my even pausing to say “Thank You”? [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson’s Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 386.]
Again Luke points out that the grace of God is for everybody. This new man was a Samaritan. A race despised by the Jews as pagan idolatrous half-breeds. The heathen and the rejected who have no reason to expect mercy often are deeply touched by kindness when others who always think they deserve more are never grateful for what they do receive.

Be on guard against the “Sins of Babylon” in your fleshly church

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I am confident of the fact that we all know that we are a church contained within our own selves. The building with the steeple and mortar and clay is not your primary church in as much as your fleshly dwelling. Materialisim and fleshly living are Babylonian practices we as stewards of “The Living God” need to beware of. I recently wrote about being slave to the lender and surprisingly I got no response pertaining to its content. We never feel good about our darkness being spoken of, but in-order to render ourselves stewards of healing we need the word spoken. The scripture says faith comes by hearing and how can the people hear without a preacher.

Babyalon

 

Habakkuk 2:6-14

New King James Version (NKJV)

6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him,
And a taunting riddle against him, and say,
‘Woe to him who increases
What is not his—how long?
And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?[a]
7 Will not your creditors[b] rise up suddenly?
Will they not awaken who oppress you?
And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the people shall plunder you,
Because of men’s blood
And the violence of the land and the city,
And of all who dwell in it.

9 “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house,
That he may set his nest on high,
That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!
10 You give shameful counsel to your house,
Cutting off many peoples,
And sin against your soul.
11 For the stone will cry out from the wall,
And the beam from the timbers will answer it.

12 “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed,
Who establishes a city by iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,[c]
And nations weary themselves in vain?
14 For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.

20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The sentence of judgement against Babylon for their character of pride and their action of all-consuming greed (implicit in 2:4-5 and 1:5-7) is clearly and absolutely stated in verses six through 20. Here we have God giving voice to all the victims of injustices in a taunt song against their oppressors. All those nations conquered and plundered by the Babylonians would in due time witness the fall of their conqueror and join in this song of derision and denunciation. The announcement is captured in five stanzas of three verses each all beginning with the denouncement woe. These five woes are not only pronounced against the Babylonians but against the Israelites and all peoples who practice such evils.

I. Greedy Pawnbrokers, 6-8.
II. Secure Extortioners, 9-11.
III. Ruthless Enslavers, 12-14.
IV. Perverse Disgracers, 15-17.
V. Senseless Idol Worshippers, 18-20.

The suffering righteous receive alleviation if they discern the consequences for wicked living. The woes against the vicious wicked begin in verse 6. “Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him, and say, ’Woe to him who increases what is not his–for how long–and makes himself rich with loans?”

Habakkuk said that all those nations (v. 5b) that Babylon has ruthlessly conquered and plundered will one day take up a taunt-song (mãŝãl) against them. This song of ridicule or mockery sung by their survivors is a poetic composition that has parallelism as its principle form of construction. This song is a type of object lesson for those who overstep God’s boundaries.

Woe is an exclamation of disaster because of certain sins (Isa. 3:11, 5:11, 10:5). It was frequently used by the prophets (22 times by Isaiah, 10 by Jeremiah and 7 by Ezekiel and 14 times in the minor prophets, and often by Jesus). The first is directed towards those puff-up proud who acquire goods dishonestly. They became wealthy by extortion. This woe compares the Babylonians to unscrupulous pawnbrokers who lend at exorbitant interest. They sought to heap up for themselves property that was not theirs. It was of course brazen theft. The valuables taken were not the property of the invaders. How long did they think they could continue doing this with impunity? How long would God let them keep It? Since it was not theirs, God sees it as loaned out to them. We will find out it was loaned to them at very high interest rates.

God’s responses to Habakkuk’s question as to the outcome of the conquering wicked continues in verse 7. “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.”

The question in verse 6 about how long they would be rich with the loans of others is answered by two other questions. The first is, will not your debtors suddenly arise? The word debtor/creditor is literally biter. They will bite back and get hold of what is theirs. The word collect is literally shake violently. It is a strong word like the violent shaking of loose leaves and branches by a force five hurricane. Babylon would become plunder or the victim. The plundered will not only get a lockjaw hold on their goods but shake (collect) their oppressor violently to get even more from them. Babylon would now herself be attacked and extorted.

Ambition can be a good thing (Rom. 15:20; 2 Cor. 5:9) or it can be a motivation for greed, selfishness, and abuse. The Babylonians were consumed by selfish ambition and they stopped at nothing to acquire wealth and power. They had hoards of stolen goods plundered from weaker people. God warned them that the owners of this wealth would one day rise up to collect what was due them. The Babylonians then would become the victims.

Some of their crimes are describe more fully in verse 8. “Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you–because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.”

The punishment fits the crime. The looter would be looted for the plundered would rise up suddenly to plunder. There was going to be a boomerang effect and their action would come back to strike them full force. Babylon’s intimidation and inhumanity would recoil on their own heads. They would reap what they had sown (Prov. 22:8; Gal. 6:7).

This reversal of roles would come about because they had ruthlessly shed man’s blood and had recklessly ravaged both lands and cities. Babylon had shed rivers of blood and so her blood would be shed. The nations will plunder the plunderer. The people will do violence to the violent.
materialisim

II. SECURE EXTORTIONERS, 9-11. The second woe is pronounce on the violent extortioners who think they have made their life secure in verse 9. “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high to be delivered from the hand of calamity!”

Not only were the Babylonians guilty of unjust gain (vv. 6-8) but they also used that plunder for self-exaltation. A man is motivated to try and build a family and accumulate as much as he can by more or less honest means. Then a vulture swoops in and takes it away because he desires to enlarge his portfolio. He does what ever it takes to place himself beyond the possibility of ruin. Like these banks taking people homes in America right now.

The imagery is that these greedy men wanted to build a fortune, elevate themselves to invulnerable financial security depicted by an eagles nest on high. They sought to build for themselves a secure heritage, inaccessible and impregnable from the attack of others (Num. 24:21, Job 39:27; Jer. 49:16 and Ob. 4). They wanted sufficient enough wealth to deliver themselves from all forms of calamity. But this goal wasn’t just for an individual but for a towering world empire that they built with plunder and covetousness.

The conclusion of the proud way is shame and realizing you have wasted your life. Verse 10 continues the second woe. “You have devised a shameful thing for your house by cutting off (killing) many peoples, so you are sinning against yourself.” (10)

In trying to elevate and protect his house and strengthen his rule by robbery and plunder so that his family might live in security he has done a shameful thing. The result of his heaping up evil gain brings shame and not security to his house.

Instead of lasting glory will come shame and ruin. An estate raised by iniquity is always a scandal to a family. But that is not the worst of it. They also sin against (hata) their own soul for he has brought the retribution of God against his own house (Eccl. 8:8) because he ruined many people. The sentence balances the crime, shame for self-exaltation.

Verse 11 indicates that even the items purchased with plunder would cry out against them. “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework.”

Even inanimate things like the buildings he has erected to his own glory and for the satisfaction of his own pride will cry out because of the injustices perpetrated first to obtain them and then to use them. Even if all other witnesses were killed the stones of the walls and the beams of the woodwork will testify against them (Gen. 4:10, LK 19:40, Ps. 29:9).

Picture a nobleman in the Babylonian army. He wants to rise to a high position and enjoy its rewards–to have an opulent house and to be secure in it. So he cuts down a forest that belongs to somebody else and from the trees of that forest makes great beams for his home. Then he destroys someone else’s home and takes the beautiful stone blocks it was made of for himself. When he finishes he has a beautiful house, a “nest on high” (v.9). But everyone who looks at it knows where the stones and beams came from, and his pride and joy become a cause for shame. When the opportunity arises they will see that the nobleman is treated as he treated others. The exalted nest would be knocked off its lofty perch and the lavish palaces would become a mausoleum, or an above ground tomb. Saddam Hussein’s palaces are a good examples.

III. RUTHLESS ENSLAVERS, 12-14.

Violent injustice is condemned again in verse 12. “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence!”

For the tyrannical oppression of captured peoples, a third woe is called down on the Chaldean conquerors. Here is a nation that has gone from greed, to injustice and now to violence. Not content with what their injustices can procure for themselves they now add crimes of violence to their vices, so great is their lust to have things.

Their cities were built with bloodshed. First the wealth by which the king of Babylon built his magnificent buildings was gain by bloody warfare. Second, capture labor was uncaringly sacrificed to build the structures of the empire. Oppression, murder and tyranny built the nation. Yes, great effort & strength they conquered the world & built an empire, but it was all for naught .

God says that human labor is fuel for the fire for those who build by bloodshed in verse 13. “Is it not indeed from the LORD of Hosts that peoples toil for fire, and nations grow weary for nothing?”

The dirge now turns to the LORD of Hosts and His assessment of the violent scene. The outcome of their crimes against humanity are also crimes against God’s way. Contrary to the proud intentions of the Babylonians the Lord would determine the final outcome of all this toil. All their exhausting work for self-exaltation would be for nothing. Their work would all be consumed in the fire that would bring the Chaldean Empire to an end. God causes the plans and peoples who opposed His way to fail and their eveil life becomes fuel for the eternal fire.

Calamity in the earth is not God’s last word. Verse 14 is the center piece of these five woes. It declares God’s intent to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

In times of old Nimrod had set up a kingdom in Babylon to usurp the power and glory of the Most High God (Gen. 10:10, 11:14). But it passed away. Babylon conquered the known world, but it too passed away. One day again “Babylon” will set up its kingdom (Rev. 17-18) but it will be replaced by the kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15). The Babylonian kingdoms of this world must give way to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, the kingdom of this world that leads peoples away from the knowledge of the Lord God must be conquered, judged and cleansed. The purpose of God in creating the earth was that it might reflect His glory, (Num. 14:21, Isa. 11:9) and in that day it will!

When the Messiah rules in His earthly kingdom, the knowledge of the Lord will be worldwide. Everyone will know of Him (Jer. 31:34). So extensive and abundant will be that knowledge that it will be like water covering the sea. The jagged rocks of injustice and the entangling seaweed of sin will be covered with the deep peace of God’s righteousness.

In 1861, during the US Civil War, author Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC. One day she saw a large number of soldiers marching. Early the next morning she awoke with words for a song in her mind.

In the midst of all the ugliness of war her faith led her to write: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” She grasped that in spite of and even through the ugliness, God was “marching on” toward the day when He will right the wrongs of the ages.

[The prophet Habakkuk came to a similar conclusion. Chapter 1 of his book tells us how troubled he was when he learned that God was going to punish the people of Judah by letting them be conquered by the wicked Babylonians. In chapter 2, God assured His servant that-]

In spite of and even through all the ugliness and wrongs of history–He is “marching on” toward the day when He who rules the universe from “His holy temple” (v. 20) will fill “the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD”.

CONCLUSION

In contrast to the shame and infamy of short-lived Babylon, God promised that one day His glory would cover the earth. The gloom of the preceding and following woes is broken by a ray of light shining in the midst of the darkness of man’s self-seeking. One day God’s presence will fill the earth (Num. 14:21; Isa. 6:3) permeating every place like water. Theoretical knowledge is insufficient. Each person needs an intimate personal encounter with God.

Have you had one?-an intimate personal encounter with God? Does your ambitions and business practices demonstrate that you have? How has your wealth been accumulated? Let your ambitions be of God and find your contentment in knowing Him. Encounter the unlimited God and you will not greedily grasp limited realm of earth.