A Special People?

A Special People?

We have children of a certain age – 4 and 7. So I can relate to Jami, the author of this blog on a child’s piano recital. She humorously points out that she wants her children to know they “aren’t that great”. “You’re not better than others”.

I'm Better Than YouShe somewhat convincingly suggests that this is the message of Christ. It’s a great blog, and it inspired me to try to tackle this important topic myself, however imperfectly, because Jami’s blog raises a question that is at the heart and core of my book – “The People of the Sign”.

Why does God seemingly tell Israel, in Deuteronomy 7:6, the opposite of what Jami proclaims as the message of Christ?

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Isn’t telling one people they shall be raised above all others the opposite of what Christ tried to accomplish? Isn’t Christ’s approach to this at the heart of why the Pharisee’s hated Him, and killed Him? Isn’t this question at the heart of all religious strife on this planet today, as evidenced by the highly explosive situation in the Middle East, focused on Israel?

This is a blog, not a treatise on theology, so at the risk of oversimplifying I’ll discuss just two quick points on why there is no contradiction between Moses and Christ.

First – if you want to find evidence of progressive revelation, that God has been raising mankind, the way parents raise children, here it is. Every parent knows you fill your children with love in infancy. You make sure they know that they are THE most important thing in your life. This statement by God is 100% in alignment with that principle.

Life is hardBut does that relegate Moses to “baby talk” – a lovingly told divine lie, a bait and switch, in which the baby later learns “it’s a cruel world, and I know I told you that you were special, but you really aren’t?”

There is a parallel verse that can help us answer this – Exodus 19:5

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

Here we see, clearly, that God conditions such elevation. The same principle of “you are a special treasure above all people” is outlined in Exodus 19:5, but with a caveat. “If you will indeed obey”. Is God interested in being obeyed? Not so much. He is interested in the results of obedience. His laws are “great making”. The greatness part comes as a result of the learning that comes from obeying God’s holy and perfect law. And it does elevate the keepers of it above others, because they do become great.

And, in fact, the New Testament also addresses Christians as “a special people, a royal priesthood”. And there is a whole lot of theology that tries to deal with the seeming contradiction I raised above. The New Testament writers after Christ, especially Paul, and the religion that was constructed upon an imperfect understanding of what Christ brought, have wrestled with this question down to our day.

A major problem with Judaism is that, as a result of historical failure to keep the law they wrote a never ending series of protective laws, to ensure it was kept. A major problem with Christianity is that Divine Law was thrown out altogether. Today, we are still trying to figure this out, but it’s really not that hard. Check out my blog on a little known book called The Secret of Divine Civilization for a practical example of this.

HumilityWe are trending toward World War III because religious fanatics have so twisted and overheated the hearts of millions of followers that they are willing to risk global conflict to prove that they, not the modern nation of Israel, are the chosen ones of God. Secular society, on the other hand, abandons all Divine guidance.

At the center of all this is the world’s only Jewish State – and a people who, after 4,000 years and millennia of suffering, may be closer than we think to the answers to this conundrum. These are, in a sense, The People of the Sign – since the Sign in the name of my first book refers to the Sign of the Covenant God made with Israel – the Sabbath. But the answer to why I believe they are close to a breakthrough will have to wait for another day.

The Mastermind

The Mastermind

The MastermindTurkish leaders have produced an Anti-Semitic movie called “The Mastermind”, which resurrects the old lie about Jewish domination of the planet. What can I say about such a topic that hasn’t already been said? Not much.

So I’ll just give voice to my opinion that there is a Mastermind – a divine Being who holds the whole world in His hand – and has foretold the future of mankind, and its segments, such as the Jews and the Muslims and the Christians, and the Nations that have formed around and out of these major religions.


Was Buchenwald part of the Jewish masterplan?

So while the new movie “The Mastermind” tells one version of the story, here is, in my view, a snapshot of why that story seems credible to one set of religious fanatics. The verses below are not the evil master plan of world domination, written and followed by those tiny tribes known as The Jews and the minor regional player known then, and now, as Israel. History shows us that they were decimated by the Holocaust and that the world threw the handful of survivors, barely clinging to life, onto the destitute shores of the postage-stamp-sized piece of desert real-estate they have claimed as their homeland.

Yes, they have worked hard to build a nation for their tiny sliver of mankind on that tiny sliver of land. But now, as it has been throughout their history, they look to God to grant them what He wishes them to have, rather than take it by conquest. Those whom Psalm 2 calls “The Heathen” would do well to recognize and honor this version of the story.

Psalm 2 – King James Version: Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

bytdvd house of david City of David Commons

Biblical Zion – the City of David. Per Turkey a building block of the Mastermind’s evil plan

I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

The random Virtue card I pulled to close out this blog with was Purposefulness.  Honestly. Seriously. After fully drafting the above. As is the case with Psalm 2, and its fulfillment in broad daylight today – you simply can’t make this stuff up.

“Purposefulness is being aware that each of us is here for a reason. We value our lives by discovering the part we are uniquely meant to play. We discern our intention and focus on it mindfully”.

Amen.Celestial Signs of the Covenants

Shabbat Nowruz

Shabbat Nowruz

Shabbat Shalom / Happy Nowruz

Nowruz Nah RuzNowruz is the new year celebration for Iranians which comes on the Spring Equinox – which is today. It is a time for joy, hope, celebration, presents. President Obama called out “Happy Nowruz” yesterday, as this day arrived in the region formerly known as Persia, due to the Earth reaching that designated place in its orbit around the sun. This day is also significant to the Zoroastrian Faith, The Baha’i Faith, and others.

Lunar Eclipse 2015 / Blood MoonToday also, however, happens to be the first Jewish Sabbath after the recent elections in Israel. And it comes during a cycle of Blood Moons that many believe have historic prophetic significance. In other words, this day is at the center of a swirl of real-world and symbolic happenings. Let’s take stock of the situation

Israel faces greater uncertainty in the region, including the fear that the $5B in funds to rebuild Gaza, and the efforts of Abbas at the UN continue to pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. The Middle East Forum recently published an excellent summary of this – a balanced representation of the challenges facing the new government in Israel. Obama and IranHere in America the President and other elected representatives are at odds over what is to be done in the region as he pursue negotiations with Iran that many feel will lead to disaster. One reason this seems to be a valid concern is related to the New Year beginning now in Iran. Their New Year holiday coincides with that of the Baha’i Naw-Rúz, and they are a sizable religious minority in Iran, to which I happen to belong. And yet Iran has a long history of persecuting the Baha’is – including murder, terror, torture and incarceration. This does not bode well for the future of mankind.

Thankfully, there is a God in heaven who will see to it that His Will is ultimately fulfilled.

The random virtues card I drew was cooperation. “Working together for the good of all… the willingness to stand side by side and use the different gifts each of us has to offer.” Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.” General Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th President of the U.S.A.


Dwight D. Eisenhower EisenhauerFrom the linked article above “The Eisenhauer (German for “iron hewer/miner”) family migrated from Karlsbrunn, Germany, to North America, first settling in York, Pennsylvania, in 1741, and in the 1880s moving to Kansas. Accounts vary as to how and when the German name Eisenhauer was anglicized to Eisenhower.”

Two thoughts come to mind. Christ was to return with a Rod of Iron, to set up 1,000 years of peace. And and “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks:” which would require an Eisenhauer.

Netanyahu has been referred to as a modern Churchill, who also comes to my mind in this context, but I had not thought to compare him to Eisenhower, who served in WWI and was the supreme allied commander in WWII. It was the US entry in WWII that ultimately saved what was left of the Jewish population in Europe and elsewhere, enabling the establishment, in 1948, of the Jewish state, which collected the desperate and dying remnant of the people still clinging to the Covenant of Moses.Juif

There is much in the news about Netanyahu’s approach to cooperation, and a two-state solution. The controversy is related to whether more pressure should be put on Israel or its enemies to cooperate. Many feel that a certain minimal standard of cooperation needs to be applied to both parties, rather than the path taken by my heritage-nation, Sweden for there to be more cooperation by the Israeli’s.

Beat their Swords into PlowsharesThese are important topics, because, to reverse the Iron hewer’s quote,  only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can prevent the need for force, as men look towards the dawn of eternal peace.


Je Suis Charlie Who?

Je Suis Charlie Who?

My Bachelor of Arts degree features a major in Theology and a Minor in French. This odd combination qualifies me for very, very little. It does, however, lead me to reflect on what is just below the surface of the current Je Suis Charlie meme sweeping the Western World.

Searching for truthDr. David Wainwright, may he rest in peace, not only taught me French, he was one of my most respected mentors and an accomplished public speaker, who wasn’t afraid to address topics others avoided. I often reflect on a sermon he gave in the 80’s for the church that sponsored Ambassador College, where I was studying. He used the layers of the onion to symbolize how ignorance and misinformation must be stripped away to uncover truth.

What interested me most is that his analogy was true to the onion. There was nothing inside.  He didn’t put defined boundaries around Truth, which is why he was such a powerful mentor. He left it up to the individual, even within an organization generally comprised of people telling us exactly what to believe.  The balance between a collective and personal view is a topic that fascinates me.

Which ends the general philosophical noodling and gets to the point of this blog – the situation in France. Many Americans find the French rude and stuffy, but I love the language, the culture, and the people. I came to know them quite well living with four different families across northern France, including the Paris region, during a college immersion program. They can be very warm, genuine, and have big hearts. But the individuals aside, when it comes to their collective approach to Islamic Terrorism over the last 50 years there is little to like about France.

Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie

Suddenly everyone knows Charlie Hebdo – the French weekly satire magazine which may have inspired an American equivalent, The Onion, founded in Madison, where I live today. Ironic, since the meme from the Charlie Hebdo attacks is “Je Suis Charlie” – “I am Charlie”. Stripping off the layers of this French onion reveals that Charlie is an American whose last name is Brown. Yes, it’s the peanuts character. Do the French know this, and relate to Charlie Brown, I wonder? Do they have a Charlie Brown style anxiety about identifying with the Jews?

Is that, perhaps, why they tried to exclude Israeli Premier Netanyahu from participating in the recent rallies? Among the people who can legitimately claim “Je Suis Charlie” the Jews should be considered exhibit A. How can the French be so gauche? Where did such attitudes and perspectives originate?

The roots of the modern nation’s conflicted relationship to terrorism may be embedded in France’s own “Reign of Terror“. That, and the focus of their own colonialism may be behind their affinity for the Arab world which over the last 50 years has focused way too much of its energy on hatred for Israel. It goes beyond attacking cartoonists, it denies Israel’s right to exist, and seeks to drive its people into the sea. And while elements of French society are anti-Islam, they pale in comparison to France’s historic antisemitism. France has a long and illustrious history with this particular evil, which became especially visible during the World War II era.

It continues to lurk in the shadows, but can be clearly seen, if you know where to look. A double standard was applied to the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the subsequent attack at a Jewish Supermarket. This hypocrisy goes hand in hand with the false equivalency France applies to Israel and its enemies. There is an old “joke” that Europe has never forgiven the Jews for the Holocaust, which highlights the ongoing tendency to blame the victims of Islamic Terrorism, – when they’re Jewish, which they usually are. For this reason it’s especially important to pay attention to how France ultimately processes the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Will they finally begin to hold the perpetrators, including their culture and beliefs, responsible for the global hatred and murder that is being spawned, or will they childishly and selfishly focus on the handful of their own who fell victim to it? Will this current crisis drive the people of France to peel back the layers of the onion that have formulated their national perspectives in this confusing and troubled age? Or will they continue to scapegoat Israel and the Jews for a problem they, in fact, helped create?

Alan Dershowitz, for example, goes so far as to say the French “Played Footsie with Terrorists“. They’ve done this with Israel too. They enabled the Israeli nuclear program, which arguably has enabled Israel to survive, and thrive, as a beacon of multicultural diversity in a dark region. But France regretted their participation. They are torn, conflicted, and don’t really know who they are or what they stand for.  They don’t want to be seen as Antisemetic, but they still can’t identify with the Jews. Those sentiments run deep. In fact, there are those who believe Arabs imported antisemitism from Christian countries in Europe.

Regardless of where one stands on these various topics, and of the issues of concern in this current wave of French solidarity, I applaud the engagement of the French on the topic of the attack on Charlie. And as Dershowitz pointed out, the US President should absolutely have joined in. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. And there are worse icons we could identify with than a newspaper that adopted Charlie Brown as its muse. But all of us, and at this moment in time, especially the French, need to reflect deeply on who and what we are.  We shouldn’t just “Suis” the latest fad. Reacting to attacks and conforming to mass movements is a fast and effective way to wrap more onion layers around large groups of people.

Diligent independent investigation of the truth is required to emerge from behind the veils of the onion layers, and into the light. If enough individuals engage in this activity, society can be transformed. Civilization has proven repeatedly that when large masses of people quickly adopt an identity they don’t fully understand, there are lots of tears. They flow freely when history crushes the onions we choose to inhabit.

Peeling the onionIn keeping with a blogging promise I made some time ago, I pulled a random Virtues card (from my deck of 100 cards obtained through The Virtues Project) and Courage came up. No challenge making many connections here. I’ll just end with excerpts of the quote from the front of the card and let my readers form their own. After all, each of us lives inside our own unique onion.

It’s helpful, though, as we’ve done here, to reflect upon the soil in which it grew. As you do, do so with Courage. And strip those layers off – one by one.

“Courage transforms fear into determination. It is embracing life fully, without holding back, doing what must be done even when it is difficult or risky. When we are tempted to give up courage supports us to take the next step. Courage opens us to new possibilities, and gives us the strength to sacrifice for what we love. At times we need courage to accept the truth, and to pick ourselves up after mistakes, ready to make amends and try again.”