The 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz begins a special season for the Jewish faith (Israel) to which we, as believers in Christ, have been grafted in (Romans 11). The fast of the 17th of Tammuz, (Shivah Asar B’Tammuz), is the beginning of a three-week season of mourning that commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem and the First and Second Temples.
A 21-day period of teshuvah (repentance) is called Bein haMetzarim. This is translated “between the straits” (between the days of distress), or The Three Weeks. This twenty-one day period of mourning and fasting begins with the 17th of Tammuz and ends with the 9th of Av.
During this period, the Orthodox will limit celebrations and enter into a more solemn season of prayer. This solemn rite is not without hope. Zechariah 8:19 prophesied an outbreak of joy and hope…
“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
The fast of the fourth month, The fast of the fifth, The fast of the seventh, And the fast of the tenth, Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts For the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.’
This season is especially remembered because of the destruction of the First Jewish Temple (Solomon’s Temple) in 586 BC by the Babylonians, and the destruction of the Second Temple (built by Ezra and Nehemiah) by Titus and the Romans in 70 AD. Both events occurred on the 9th of Av, nearly 655 years apart. But the 9th of Av holds other significance in the life of the Jewish people. Other historic events of significance are associated with this day…
Rabbinic tradition says (Mishnah Taanit 4:6) that ten of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land (all but Joshua and Caleb) brought back a negative report on the Promised Land (Numbers 13), and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness ensued . The night the people cried out in unbelief marks the first 9th of Av becoming a day of mourning for all time.
Following the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans subsequently crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt, destroying the city of Betar and killing over half-a-million Jewish civilians (approximately 580,000). This took place on 9th of Av, 135 AD. Following the revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, along with the surrounding area.
In 1096, at the decree of Pope Urban II, the First Crusade commenced, unleashing anti-Semitic fever across Europe resulting in 10,000 Jews killed the first month in France and the Rhineland.
Jews expelled from England… 1290.
Jews expelled from France… 1306.
Jews expelled from Spain… 1492.
Germany entered World War I… 1914. Most historians also believe that the events surrounding the end of World War I led directly to World War II and the Holocaust, wiping out nearly 1/3 of the earth’s Jewish population.
Nazi SS Commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from Adolph Hitler for “The Final Solution” resulting in the Holocaust… 1941.
The deportation of Polish Jews by Hitler… 1942.
… and I could go on.
Yet it was this season when they expected
the coming of Sar Shalom… the Prince of Peace!
I am praying in these days, as we move toward the 9th of Av (sunset July 31st through nightfall August 1st) that Jesus the Prince of Peace would protect Israel and His Church, and that soon He would come.
Recently at our church, our young people performed the great musical The Sound of Music. It is the classic story of the von Trapp family’s escape from Nazism in Austria after Germany usurped Austria into the German empire in 1938 — an event known as the Anschluss.
One of the by-products of doing this timeless musical was the opportunity to teach our children a little bit of history about World War II and the Nazi regime…
A history many in our nation have obviously forgotten.
The National Socialist German Worker’sParty (ie: the Nazi Party) rose to power following Germany’s defeat in World War I. The Nazis played upon the discontent of the people in attacking big business and capitalism, and used class-warfare as a tool to further its popularity by establishing a culture of entitlement and ideological superiority. Racism was also a key element in the spread of this toxic ideology, and resulted in the Holocaust… the death of six million Jews.
Socialist… Sound familiar?
For the first time in our nation’s history, we not only have candidates who are promoting socialist beliefs, but have an openly socialist candidate running for the highest office in the land.
Have we become so short-sighted that we won’t heed the hard-fought lessons we have learned in the last 80 years? Has our education system become such a cesspool of ideologues and history revisionists that our children are being brainwashed into believing that socialism is the answer to all of the problems that ail us as a nation? Oh sure… socialism has its appeal — after all, who doesn’t like FREE STUFF???
The problem is that nothing — N O T H I N G — is free. Even “free” stuff is costing someone, somewhere.
Take education for example. One of the mantras we are hearing is for “free education/free college”. Well, if college becomes free, one would have to assume that all of those things it takes to keep the doors open — lights, heat, electricity, etc. — are all going to be free as well.
And how about those salaries? If we are going to offer free college, would it not be reasonable to assume that all of the college faculties will be doing their jobs gratis? That means janitors, security, administration, and yes… professors. So, all of these (mostly highly) trained and educated people are going to put in their 40+ hours per week with no paycheck to show for it? Sure, there are those states where some college is being offered for “free” (TN being one that offers 2 years of community college for “free”). However, “free” is still not free… it ultimately comes at the expense of the taxpayer.
The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.
~ Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Bible has a lot to say about work and a good work ethic. From Genesis to the writings of the apostles, hard work is considered admirable and Godly. Looks at what Solomon had to say in Proverbs…
All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
~ Proverbs 14:23-24
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
~ Proverbs 10:4-5
The Apostle Paul was pretty direct in his instructions to the Thessalonians…
While we were with you, we gave you the order: “Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat.” We hear that some people in your group refuse to work. They are doing nothing except being busy in the lives of others. Our instruction to them is to stop bothering others, to start working and earn their own food. It is by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are urging them to do this.
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
Yet in spite of these warnings, I hear candidates running on a platform that constantly blames the ills of the poor on the rich, and stirs up not just class warfare, but ties it to racial division as well. The idea that penalizing someone who has worked hard in order to subsidize the lazy completely takes away from the incentive to work hard and do well. Why would I want to work hard to be a success if someone is just going to take away my hard-earned income and give it to someone who has not worked for it? It is absurd to believe that when you rob from the rich it is going to somehow benefit the poor in the long term.
The further we run as a society from the teachings and statutes of the Bible, the further and faster we run toward our own destruction. Although seeming to tolerate Christianity initially, the Nazis moved rapidly to quell the voice of the Christian church, while at the same time forming an unholy alliance with Islam. Martin Bormann, Hitler’s personal secretary, once admitted, “National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable“. We are seeing the dark specters of this type of ideology taking hold in our nation, with Christians being put on trial for their beliefs and convictions, while Islam is given a pass and a warm embrace by those in the corridors of power.
In the end, however, it’s quite simple: One cannot forsake the teachings and statutes of the One who established human civilization without severe consequences.
“God has been very good to us. One of the reasons God has been
good to us is that we have done him honor. ~ Justice Antonin Scalia
Although we are a nation founded upon Christian principles, secularists in our society have been trying desperately to take America to the point that we are decidedly “post-Christian”. With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend, the political stakes for the soul of our nation have been raised to a perilous level. The wrong person being appointed to the Court would send us into an abyss of unconstitutional decisions and legislation from which we might never recover. For as Justice Scalia observed…
“That’s the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: ‘The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break.’
But you would have to be an idiot to believe that.
The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things… As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.”
We need a transformation in our country. What is happening societally and politically right now should be driving us to our knees in prayer. The consequences of going further down the rabbit-hole of unGodliness, secularization, and socialism should drive every person who loves this country, and what it stands for, to the ballot box. We have come so far from the horrors of the socialism and subsequent fascism of Nazi Germany, as well as the fear of “The Evil Empire” of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) and the Cold War. I lived through it. I remember the rhetoric and threats. I remember climbing under our school desks during air-raid drills. I remember the nuclear saber-rattling. I remember the images that the words “nuclear holocaust” invoked.
Last week on the blog, I talked about truth, and some history regarding the propaganda machine of the German Third Reich, led by Adolph Hitler. We looked at how a small group of people were successful in deceiving an entire nation — and for a time, the world — with disastrous consequences. I made the comment that I believe that, just as the spirit of Jezebel is alive and well today, manifesting itself throughout our homes, churches, and society, the spirit of deception that fueled the Nazi regime is once again rearing its ugly head in our culture today.Look at some of the evidence…
The rise of anti-Semitism, not just in predominantly Muslim countries, but right here on Main Street America, on college campuses, and within the walls of our government.
All of the controversy surrounding the acceptance of same-sex marriage and the LGBT lifestyle. In recent polls, respondents believed that approximately 20% – 40% of the United States population identified as either gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The fact is, according to the government-sponsored 2014 National Health Interview Survey, people who identify as LGBT make up less than 4% of the U.S. population.
The marginalization of Christian belief. While over 70% of Americans claim to be Christian, the American media and entertainment outlets continue to portray Christians in a negative light. Adding fuel to the fire are those in government who insist on laws and legislation that trample upon the convictions and First Amendment rights of those who believe in Christ.
Selectivity of news. While the media attempts to make “hard news” out of any remotely-negative story concerning a conservative or Christian person, criminal activity and blatant wrongdoing by more liberal personalities is under-reported or absent from media coverage.
While the press clamors to every “gloom and doom” man-made climate change study and school of thought, and the president recently declared that “… the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact”, the UN’s IPCC lead author recently surmised that the majority of climate change is the result of natural variations (nature being nature).
Lack of outcry and action regarding atrocities against Christians. As ISIS burns its way across the Middle East, and threats increase in the United States, our government’s lackluster response is extremely troubling.
To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must
be credible; credible, we must be truthful. ~ Edward R. Murrow
So what happened in America? When did the evening news become the propaganda machine for every left-wing organization and ideology? When did news organizations stop reporting news and begin creating it? What happened to news men and women who could put their personal feelings on the shelf for more than 30 minutes — who reported the facts instead of the slant that made the story more scintillating or politically correct? Sometimes, the truth hurts. Growing is painful (hence the term “growing pains”). Yet, we have become a people that cannot bear the slightest pain, cannot abide a differing point-of-view, and will not tolerate an open debate of ideas. We have moved from a society of laws to a society of suggestions. We have replaced absolutes with abstracts and weakly-framed arguments. We have embraced a twisted dialogue in which words like “excellence” and “exceptionalism” are not to be aspired to, but are to be avoided at all costs.
We have become the caterers to the lowest common denominator.
However, much to the chagrin of liberals and leftists… there are absolutes. There are laws that will not change. We all learned about The Law of Gravity in school. Just because you don’t believe in that law does not mean you won’t be very dead if you leap from the top of Empire State Building. If a motorcycle plays “chicken” with a freight train, there are physical laws that won’t stop the motorcycle from being obliterated.
There is truth in this world.
There is THE Truth.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me. ~ Jesus
So here is the problem: If we are going to have laws, who or what sets the standard? Who gets the deciding vote on what is right or wrong? What makes lying unacceptable? What makes stealing a sin? What makes murder a crime?
If there is no God, exactly WHO makes the rules?
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness…”
~ Isaiah 5:20
The fact is that our basis for law is based upon the Bible — the unchanging, Holy, and infallible Word of God. If we, as a society, have derived our system of law from the teaching contained in the Bible — the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Christ, etc. — then who are we to pick and choose what is a sin, and what is not? When any society loses the authority of a Supreme Being, that society loses the right to have morals. Regardless of why God calls one thing or another a sin, He does so for a reason. When we begin the process of re-labeling acts based on our finite definition of fairness and decency, we begin to remove the safeguards from society on a spiritual level. God gave everyone a free will, and since the beginning of time, individuals have made the choice to make bad decisions, for which there are consequences. However, I believe that when a nation makes unGodliness public policy, that leadership is putting that nation as a whole in the crosshairs of God’s judgment.
The collusion between government entities, the mouthpiece media, and a radicalized education system has become the “unholy trinity” of our culture. Many of the radicals and rebels of the ’60’s and ’70’s have moved on… they are now professors and teachers of “higher learning” at American colleges and universities. The late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin understood that education, in the wrong hands, becomes a weapon when he said…
Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who
holds it in his hands, and at whom it is aimed. ~ Joseph Stalin
When truth becomes subjective, the rule of law becomes irrelevant. The rule of law depends upon a standard of truth. Without that standard, anything goes. The Bible calls things “sin” for a reason. It may not make sense to us, and we may not like it, but certain behaviors, attitudes, and actions are wrong, according to the Word of God. Without truth as a standard, if you are going to say that murder by abortion is ok, then it is only logical to assume that bombing an abortion clinic is acceptable. Without the truth standard, it is impossible to call homosexuality and same sex marriage acceptable, and call discrimination unacceptable. Yet, the insanity of the same-sex marriage argument is the fact that we are seeing instances of Christians being discriminated against for upholding their First Amendment-protected religious beliefs under the accusation that they are discriminating against same-sex couples. Furthermore, many of the same people who are busy defending same-sex marriage are also pushing the acceptance and integration of Islam into our society. Folks… Islam and homosexuality are mutually exclusive. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of North America stated:
“There are many reasons why it is forbidden in Islam. Homosexuality is dangerous for the health of the individuals and for the society. It is a main cause of one of the most harmful and fatal diseases. It is disgraceful for both men and women. It degrades a person. Islam teaches that men should be men and women should be women. Homosexuality deprives a man of his manhood and a woman of her womanhood. It is the most un-natural way of life. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of family life.”
In Islam, the penalty for homosexuality is death.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ~ Jesus
The only real freedom is found in the truth, and the only real truth is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not set the standard… He IS the standard. He is the embodiment of truth (John 14:6), and any ideology or school of thought that deviates from that truth is merely uneducated guesswork and wishful thinking. When we view science, religion, and philosophy from a standpoint of truth — of objectivity versus hostility — we find that the Bible and these disciplines support each other. If we are willing, in faith, to let go of our finite understanding in favor of His infinite plan and design, only then can we find what has alluded civilization for centuries…
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” ~ Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda under Adolph Hitler. As head of the Nazi propaganda machine, Goebbels understood that words carry weight, and that if you keep a narrative in front of the public long enough — regardless of how flawed or seemingly absurd — eventually people will become desensitized to it, and believe the lie.
“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” ~ Joseph Goebbels
Still reeling from the economic hardship that was a result of German’s defeat in World War I, when the stock market crashed in 1929, Germany was one of the hardest-hit nations in the world. Hitler, who had already come to be known as a not terribly significant figure on the public stage, began to emerge as a more serious political contender. In March of 1932, he lost the national election. However, less than a year later, he was made Chancellor of Germany as the result of having a Nazi majority in the Reichstag (German parliament). About two weeks later, the Reichstag building burned, and the arson was blamed on the Communist Party. Through fear and manipulation, a month later, Hitler was given dictatorial power. Over the next two years, Hitler began to lay the groundwork of eliminating his enemies, and going after the Jewish population of Germany. At the Nuremberg rally in 1934, the movie Triumph of the Will was produced, showing a glorious and revived Germany — patriotic and unified. At the same rally a year later, Hitler addressed “the Jewish problem”, and anti-Semitic laws began to be enacted.
Yet, in spite of this, in the summer of 1936, the world showed up in Berlin for the Olympic games, and were enchanted by the glory and graciousness of the people of Germany.
“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” ~ Joseph Goebbels
So how could the rest of world be so duped by one nation? How could the world community be so fooled by the Nazis? How is it that, in January of 1939, Adolph Hitler was named Time Magazine’s Man-of-the-Year for 1938?
Having won multiple film awards throughout Europe, by 1935, Triumph of the Will was required viewing in German schools. Through groups like the “Hitler Youth” and “Hitler Maidens“, young children and teenagers were being indoctrinated into an ideology that put loyalty to the Führer above all. No opposition would be tolerated.
“Intellectual activity is a danger to the building of character.” ~ Joseph Goebbels
We know from history the end result: World War II, the Holocaust, millions of lives lost, the eventual collapse and defeat of Germany.
However, what you may not know is that at no point did the Nazis ever capture more than 37% of the popular vote.
So why did the German people turn the leadership of their nation over to a madman like Adolph Hitler? In a documentary film shown in the UK Holocaust Centre, then-student Margret Breuer made this observation as to why people voted for Hitler…
“… Because he promised so much! If you are out of work and don’t know how to live, and then someone comes who wants to change everything that is going wrong — and people felt like things were going badly. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even have listened to him.”
The lie is big on promises. The lie feeds on physical, emotional, and economic starvation. Where there are “sheep” suffering, there is usually at least one “wolf” in the crowd, ready to prey on the weak and unsuspecting. Once Hitler had a few who would listen, the lie began. Once he had a group of followers who bought into the lie, he had a platform from which to proclaim his message, and gain influence and power. Once he had a seat of power, he could manipulate the media. Once Hitler had control of the media, the lie was blasted from the rooftops, and from every bullhorn, loudspeaker, and radio in Germany.
“So where are you going with this, Pastor?” you might ask.
Last week, I blogged about the spirit of Jezebel. I talked about the fact that, although Jezebel has been dead and gone for centuries, the demonic influence that bears her name is alive and well. Likewise, I believe that the spirit of deception that was operating in Nazi Germany is alive and well, and evident in our country and world today…
Why are we seeing a resurgence in open and overt anti-Semitism in the world today?
Why is it that American Millennials believe that 40% of the U.S. population is LGBT?
Why is it that a conservative’s character can be unjustly assassinated in the media, while a liberal who is caught dead-to-rights knee-deep in scandal is given a pass by the same media?
How can it be that a celebrity can be hailed as a hero for “coming out”, while true heroes who have sacrificed life and limb are passed over for recognition?
Why does our government trivialize the threat of radical Islam in our own country while we watch Christians being slaughtered en masse around the world by barbarians such as ISIS?
As I said at the beginning, this is part 1 of a 2-part blog. At this time next week, we’re going to dive into some tough questions, and find the answers that will help you and I cut through the propaganda, and walk in truth and freedom.