By now, everyone knows my thoughts on coronavirus.

Every day brings stranger news, especially for children.

This is what schools will look like when pupils return to class in Pinellas County, Florida, home to Clearwater on the west coast of the state. I don’t blame the administrators, because they are only following state guidelines. Nevertheless, this is just wrong in so many ways, even if teachers are the ones who wear masks, not the pupils:

How dehumanising and sad for children to be at the mercy of public health officials — and notional ‘science’.

What bets that we look back at this in ten or 20 years time and say, ‘What were we thinking?!’

I also wonder what the extended effect of these policies will have on more vulnerable children.

I hope they are only temporary and not in place by 2021.

Melbourne.

One thinks of it as an agreeable Australian city, home to middle-class gentility, often satirised to great effect by Melbourne native John Barry Humphries, AO, CBE (creator of humorous fictional characters e.g. Dame Edna Everage, Sir Les Patterson). Humphries moved to England and has lived in London for the past 40 years.

Melbourne is also home to MasterChef Australia.

Nothing bad happens in Melbourne, one would think.

Except that COVID-19 moved in.

Now everything has changed, rather suddenly.

One can imagine that Barry Humphries is relieved that he left but might empathise with the residents, who are enduring a dystopia in his once-home town.

Jeffrey Tucker, an American who enjoyed his travels in Melbourne, wrote an article dated August 4, 2020, for the American Institute for Economic Research, ‘Madness in Melbourne’.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine, unless indicated otherwise.

Tucker begins by describing the Melbourne of his travels:

A happy, civilized, highly educated people are here living amidst modern architecture, inspiring bridges, and natural beauty, a place where even the police are kind, and when you ask them for directions they reply with a smile, and when you say thank you, they say “No worries.”

Now things are much different:

The Premier has imposed a vicious police state without precedent in this country’s history. His name is Dan Andrews (a sweet-sounding name that masks the tyrant he has become), and he tweets out pictures of empty streets to brag about what he has achieved in the name of suppressing a virus. 

Even though it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, Melbourne’s anti-coronavirus measures give pause for thought. Tucker received the following lockdown information from a friend. Emphases in purple mine:

    • Police may now enter anyone’s home without a warrant.
    • Curfew 8:00pm.
    • $1,652 fine if outside without “a valid reason” – an amount being raised by the day
    • Can’t visit any family or friends.
    • $200 fine for no mask (mandatory masks at all times).
    • Can only exercise once per day, for up to 1 hour
    • Only one person per household, per day can leave the house (including for groceries).
    • Can’t go more than 3 miles from your home.
    • Weddings are illegal.
    • No gatherings of any size.
    • Army is on the streets fining/arresting people.
    • “Since March 21, a total of 193,740 spot checks have been conducted by police across Victoria.”
    • Protests/activism is illegal; people have already been arrested for peaceful gatherings.
    • Media is EXTREMELY biased, calls protesters “right wing conspiracy nutjobs” and won’t allow discussion of whether these lockdowns are right or not
    • Several thousand people were placed under house arrest and unable to leave for ANY reason, with food rations delivered by the army, leading to appalling levels of personal trauma. 
    • Australia won’t release how many fines they’ve given out, but an ABC news report says it’s over $5.2 million so far.
    • Streets of Melbourne are empty, even in a city of 5 million+ people. People are HATEFUL to each other, everyone is cannibalising their neighbours (calling police to report any little infraction of the rules and turning on each other like some socialist hellhole).
    • Billboards outside on the street that say in capital letters: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? STAY HOME.” They feel extremely oppressive, like we’re being yelled at by a very oppressive government.
    • The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews shows complete and utter disdain for us, constantly blaming us. He’s blamed children (yes, really) for not taking this seriously enough. Every chance he gets, he tells us it’s OUR fault the virus is spreading (even though that’s what viruses do – they spread)
    • It’s not just the Victorian Premier – the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is just as terrible. He’s encouraged all of this, and he was responsible for the first lockdown.
    • 1984 dystopian language: billboards everywhere saying “Staying apart keeps us together.” Have they gone mad?
    • There’s probably more but at this point I honestly lost track of all the insanity that’s happened.
    • All because 147 people died in the state of Victoria (total population is 6.359 million), almost all of the deaths are over 70 with comorbidities, same as everywhere else in the world

This is lockdown ideology at work. It is tyranny without limit, at the expense of all human dignity, decency, and rights. The politicians make a desert and call it health. 

You also need a ‘worker permit’ when going to your place of employment (see banner in the police video below):

 

Shane Patton, the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, says that the time for leeway is over. Now there will be fines and interventions where applicable:

There are consequences. I want to be really clear on that.

He says that there are people calling themselves ‘sovereign citizens’ who are ‘baiting police at checkpoints’. On such occasions, Commissioner Patton says, police have had to break their car windows in order to get them to provide their personal details.

He also stated that police will arrest people for infringements of the current coronavirus rules. He did cite the incident where a maskless 38-year-old woman, with no prior criminal record, struck a policewoman in the head when confronted. That is wrong. But mandatory masks are not 100% correct, either. We were not meant to walk around wearing masks, indoors or outdoors.

So much for Dame Edna’s Neighbourhood Watch. In a year or two, one could make an incredible dystopian television series on what is happening in Melbourne during these restrictions.

Jeffrey Tucker concludes his article with this (emphases mine):

Perhaps the other states in Australia will observe the destruction in Victoria and learn to take another path when the virus first arrives in their territory, as it surely will. Lockdowns are not science; they are brutality.

I cry for the once-great city of Melbourne this day. May there be justice. And may its future political leadership be granted some modicum of decency and wisdom.

All the rest of us can do is watch and pray for the people of Melbourne and surrounds.

The power of prayer is great. Don’t let anyone steer you wrong on that score.

Anyone living in Melbourne is more than welcome to comment.

Bible openThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (as cited below).

Romans 13:1-7

Submission to the Authorities

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

——————————————————————————————————————

Last week’s post largely concluded Romans 11, in which Paul wrote that God will one day lift his judgement against Israel for unbelief in His Son and bring His people into the Church in great numbers. As such, Gentiles are not to become boastful about their position in the Church. Nor are they to hate the Jews, God’s rightful heirs of His covenants, Old and New.

That is a hard truth for some to accept. However, it is what Paul tells us will happen.

In the first half of Romans 13, Paul tells us what our relationship as Christians is to society at large.

These are among the most important verses in the New Testament, but, for whatever reason, the Lectionary compilers omitted them from readings used in public worship.

These days, one must offer an apology for a long post. My advice here is to grab a cuppa and a snack.

John MacArthur explains why Paul moved from the spiritual to the temporal (emphases mine):

If all Paul wanted to focus on was the matter of justification, he could have ended the epistle in chapter 11, but he doesn’t. He goes on to deal with the implications of the doctrines, which have been laid down in the first 11 chapters, which implications we are now looking at. And so it is essential that a Christian understand that his relationship to authority, his relationship to government, and those who are over him is dramatically impacted by his salvation. We are called to live as model citizens, that we may reach the world around us with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ

In other words, how you behave under the authorities in your country, your nation, your city, whatever it is, will demonstrate your faith, the legitimacy of your faith, to that society. And so we are to submit then to the king, to the governor, to anyone who is over us in authority.

We’ve had more than two months of ‘protests’ and, dare one say it, outright insurrection in Seattle and Portland.

Some might empathise with the destruction of public property and general anarchy.

However, Christians are not called on to participate in or to support lawlessness that results in chaos, loss of life and destruction of property, including businesses.

We know that insurrections have taken place throughout history. The United States was created on the back of insurrection. MacArthur thinks that was unbiblical; elsewhere, he said that some of his ancestors were Canadian. Through that filter, one can see his point. He says:

The truth of the matter is, and you need to think about this – the truth of the matter is that our own nation was borne out of a violation of this biblical text. Now that may throw you for a loss, but that’s the fact. Our nation was borne out of a violation of this text, in the name of Christian freedom.

That does not mean that God doesn’t overrule such violations and bring about good, which He did in this case, but that doesn’t justify the means.

Yet, for just over 200 years, America was the beacon of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For millions of people around the world, it still is.

For that reason, one can say, rightly, that the Revolutionary War gave birth to the Great Republic.

The French also had a revolution, within two decades of America’s. The principal French players in this and a few American Founding Fathers travelled back and forth to exchange ideas. General Lafayette helped America’s Revolutionary troops greatly.

The difference between America’s and France’s respective revolutions lies in the content of their constitutions, which largely say the same thing with a few exceptions. The French constitution separates church and state. America’s guarantees freedom of worship. The American Declaration of Independence clearly states that powers to the citizen come from ‘Nature’s God’, ‘their Creator’. America had deist leaders. For the most part, France had atheists at the top at that time.

But I digress.

Some of the Western world has been riven by urban uprisings this year, 2020, protesting against the brutal death of a man who had a police record and, for one conviction, served five years in prison.

The colour of this man’s skin has revived the awareness of blots on Western history: slavery, colonialism and police brutality.

MacArthur wrote the sermons I’m citing here in 1985, when Ronald Reagan was president.

Yet, much of what he says still holds true today.

This is what he says about injustice and what should be the Christian response, according to Paul’s words:

We are to be – and listen carefully, this is an important thought – we are to be the conscience of the nation by godly living and faithful preaching. We confront the nation, not through political pressure, but through the word of God. That’s how we confront the nation. We preach against sin. We preach against the evils of our time. But it is preaching and godly living that is our calling.

For some, that will be insufficient.

MacArthur goes on to define the society in which Jesus and St Paul lived:

Look at Christ for just a moment as we build a foundation for this passage. Look at Christ. He came into a very interesting world. He came into a Roman Empire where slavery flourished. Slavery. You understand that. Slavery. There were three slaves – approximately three slaves — to every free man. He also came into a world that was dominated by absolutism in terms of rulership. Men were absolutely monarchs, absolute rulers. After the end of the Roman republic, when the Caesars came in and took power, they ruled with absolute authority. And although Julius Caesar was murdered in the Roman Senate in 44 BC, this only accelerated the centralization of power. The Roman Senate declared Augustus proconsul and tribune of Rome for life, and he had absolute and total power. He was commander-in-chief of all soldiers, he stood above the senate, and he controlled all civil affairs.

So Jesus came into a world dominated by slavery and by one man rule, the absolute antithesis of democracy, which we believe to be so dear. All the power of the state was in one man’s hands.

You had the same thing in Palestine, where the ruler of Palestine, who was placed there as sort of a puppet king under Rome was a man by the name of Herod. Herod was an Edomite. Herod was not a Jew. That Edomite ruler of Palestine, the king with great power, had the single authority to demand that every single baby in a certain region be massacred, and nobody could stay his hand. He had absolute authority over life and death. He murdered his whole family, his mother, his wife, his sons, and no one held him accountable.

In the time that Jesus came into the world taxes were exorbitant, and those who worked in the taxing process who sold themselves to Rome for money, exacted exorbitant taxes out of the people, overcharged them. In fact, you remember don’t you, that Zacchaeus when he was converted, immediately said I’ll do what? I’ll pay back everything I’ve extorted how many times? Fourfold. Which was rather typical of the kind of thing that went on, tax collectors were extortioners. So there were unjust taxes. There was unjust rule that heard nothing from the people. In fact, Caesar August[us] decreed that all the world should be taxed, and tried to collect … from everyone.

Furthermore, Jesus came to His people, the Jews, in a very unique situation for them. They were chattel for the Romans. They were an underprivileged and oppressed minority. They had no voice in Roman government, they had to pay heavy taxes to their Roman taskmasters. Now that’s the world Jesus came into. They didn’t even know anything about democracy, about voting, about certain quote-unquote “freedoms” that we enjoy.

And what did Jesus say? He said this. “Render to Caesar” what? “The things that are Caesar’s.” You give the government its due. And to God, what? The things that are God’s.

He did not come with power and force to overthrow the Roman tyranny. He did not seek social change. He did not attempt to eliminate slavery. He did not come with political or economic issues at stake. They were not the concern of his life and ministry. He did not come to bring new government, to bring democracy, to wave the flag of Judaism, even. His appeal was ever and always to the hearts of individual men and women, not their political freedoms, not their rights under government.

He did not participate in civil rights. He did not crusade to abolish injustice. He preached a saving gospel, so that once a man’s soul or a woman’s soul is right with God, it matters very little what the externals are. He was not interested in a new social order, but in a new spiritual order, the church. And he mandated the church to carry on the same kind of ministry.

And listen, their problems in those days were far more severe than ours, far more severe. Even people living on relief today have cars, TVs and modern conveniences.

Uprisings were not allowed in that era. The Romans relied strongly on maintaining order. Any Roman governor who allowed uprisings was called back to Rome from his post. He might have gone on trial. He risked imprisonment. In some cases, he could be put to death. In any event, he spent the rest of his days as a social and political outcast.

Moving on to today’s passage, Paul makes it clear that we must be subject to our governing authorities, because God has given them to us to maintain order (verse 1).

Naturally, the first question most of us have upon reading that is about totalitarian dictatorships. MacArthur has an answer:

You say, “What about the cruel governments? How can you say that about communist governments? How can you say that about Adolf Hitler? How can you say that about abusive kinds of government? How can you say that those are ordained of God?” Well let me answer it by saying this. I didn’t say it. I just read it. The Bible said it. So I’m off the hook, folks. This is not my problem. There is no power but of God.

And then the other side of it is, the power that is, is ordained by God. “You mean in our nation that’s what it says?” If it is a power, it’s ordained by God. Well you say, “What about the cruel abuses?” Listen, the cruel abuses and the injustices and the wrongs of governments are no reflection of God’s holy nature, and no reflection of God’s holy will, any more than divorce in a marriage is a reflection of God’s holy will. But marriage is no less an institution of God. And though there is apostasy in the church, the church is still an institution ordained of God. But the apostasy is no reflection of the nature of God.

No, abuses do not deny the sacredness nor the divine trust and authority in any of God’s institutions, be it the home, the church, or the government. Frankly, men abuse all God’s gifts, don’t they? And wicked rulers are part of God’s plan to punish wicked nations, and to allow evil to run its course toward destruction. If the truth were known, and perhaps someday in heaven, God has designed by His sovereign purpose and will a reason for every government that exists on the face of the earth. Some are for the benefit of those who have done well. Some are for the punishment of those peoples who have done evil. We cannot second-guess why God institutes a certain kind of government in a certain place.

God has ordained government to protect and preserve men, to protect their life and their property. To do that, there must be the role of government to repress evil, to repress crime, and to hold up and honor those who are virtuous and good. So Paul says, “The powers that be are ordained by God.” The powers that be are not — I hope you know this — the will of the majority. The majority only reflects the sovereign purpose of God. The powers that be are God’s design. And that means any governmental power in any form.

So here, beloved, is reason number one why we submit to the government, because the government is in place by the decree of God. It is the time for God to do in a nation what He chooses to do. It is expressive of the divine will. Sometimes He wants to punish a nation. Sometimes He wants to prosper a nation. Sometimes He wants to bless a people. Sometimes He chooses to judge a people. But government in all its form is by divine decree.

Therefore, those who resist authority — be it good or bad — are going against God’s will. As such, those people will fall under His judgement (verse 2).

MacArthur referred to a Russian emigré, Georgy Vinz, who had spoken at his church. This was the faithful Christian response during the repressive days of the former Soviet Union:

Way back in 1839, Robert Haldane, writing in his wonderful commentary on Romans wrote, “The people of God, then, ought to consider resistance to the government under which they live as a very awful crime, even as resistance to God, Himself,” end quote. It’s quite a remarkable statement, and one which I mentioned to you last week, is whole-heartedly ascribed to by Georgy Vinz and those who have come out of Russia to tell us that the dear Christian brothers and sisters in Russia will make no resistance against their government. And if they are imprisoned, it will be simply and only because of their love and proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wow. That is quite something.

MacArthur had this to say on judgement in verse 2:

So government is divinely decreed, and to resist it is to resist God. Now I want to take you to a third thought as we wrap up. Those who resist will be punished. Look at verse 2, again. “They that resist shall receive to themselves judgment.” If you resist the government, you’re going to be punished. That’s the way it is. The word is krima. It’s a word that means judgment.

It’s used in 1 Corinthians 11:29, of the judgment of God. But here it’s used, I think, primarily in reference to the punishment that comes from God through civil authorities, through civil authorities. God has ordained government to punish evildoers. And if you resist the government, you’re going to get punished. Now, if like Daniel, you have to because you have a higher command, then you accept the punishment. But if it’s not in that situation, if it’s just a choice you make to resist, of course, you’re going to receive the punishment. Now that was true in the Old Testament economy.

There is a fine line here between obeying and disobeying those in authority.

MacArthur spoke of Daniel. This is what happened when Daniel disobeyed the king’s orders to eat the finest food and enjoy the finest wine:

Look for a moment in your Bible to Daniel’s prophe[c]y. And here you have a very clear, precise illustration of a man who refused to do what the king said, because it would be in violation of what God had said. And you remember in Daniel chapter 1 that Daniel was taken into Babylon captive with other of the young princes of Israel, and several of them are named in verse 7. Their real Hebrew names are in verse 6, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. And it says in verse 8 that Daniel purposed in his heart he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s food, nor the wine which he drank. Now here you have the occasion where Daniel is instructed by the Babylonian monarch to take the food of Babylon and eat it. To do that would have been to violate that which he knew to be laws revealed by God, for the Jews had very circumspect dietary laws, and he would not defile himself with food that was not prescribed by God. And yet, in all of Daniel’s attitude there’s a spirit of submission.

“He requested,” verse 8 says, “of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” He asks permission. He goes to the one who is over him, under the king, and over him, and he seeks permission. And he gets into a little dialogue. He says, “Let’s try a test. I’ll commit myself to eating what I would prefer to eat, and after a period of certain days, you come back. We’ll look at everybody, those who’ve eaten the king’s meat, and myself having eaten just these vegetables. Ten days will go by and we’ll see who looks the best.”

And this was a wonderful and conciliating way for Daniel to seek to obey God without becoming abusive of this man who was carrying out orders from his king. And so in verse 14, the man consented and ten days passed. And, of course, you know the story. When the ten days were ended and the man came into to check everybody out, Daniel and his friends far and away surpassed all the others and rose to place of prominence.

Now Daniel could have protested. He could have revolted. He could have been disrespectful to the one over him. He could have badmouthed the king. He could have done all kinds of things. But he sought a conciliating means to obey God in the midst of a difficult situation. But he would not compromise. Later on, as you follow through for a moment in the book of Daniel, you’ll remember that three of his friends, of course, in chapter 3, refused to bow down to the idol image. And as a result of that, they had disobeyed the king. They were told to bow down. They would not, because they couldn’t bow down to the king when God had told them to bow only to Him. And so they were caught in the same crux of the same dilemma. And they were true to God and they said, “If you want to throw us in the fire, throw us in the fire. If God wants to deliver us, He’ll deliver us. And if He doesn’t want to deliver us, we still won’t bow down.”

And so there was a no-compromise attitude. But there was a sense of respect in what they said in verse 17. “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace. And He will deliver us out of thine hand, oh king. But if not, be it known unto thee, oh king, that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” They did not speak any evil words against him. They were not disrespectful. They called him by his proper title. And they simply said, “We will not do this. But we are more than happy to suffer whatever consequences you feel are just for our seeming [m]isbehavior.” And, again, their attitude is remarkably conciliating and gracious in the light of what they might have said. As a result of it, chapter 3, verse 30 says, “The king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” They got a promotion because the king surely appreciated men with great conviction. He also wouldn’t mind having people on his team who could walk through fiery furnaces.

And then in chapter 6, we find, of course, that very familiar account of Daniel in the lion’s den. And now it’s moved out of the Babylonian setting, and we’re in the Medeo-Persian kingdom. And by the way, I want to say as a footnote here, there is absolutely nothing wrong for anyone serving in a government position. There’s nothing wrong with serving in a civil government role or a state government, or any other kind of leadership. That is an honored position. And Daniel is the single best example of that in the Scripture. And every time he was uncompromising, he got a greater reputation.

And because of his uncompromising spirit, he was constantly promoted till he finally became the prime minister of the whole nation, the whole kingdom. It is an honorable thing to serve in government. It is not a dishonorable thing. Daniel is an illustration of that. But it was Daniel’s wonderfully conciliating, and yet non-compromising attitude that caused him to prosper. You remember that Daniel prayed. And so those princes that wanted to get rid of Daniel got the king to sign an edict that no one was to pray to anybody, no one was to give obeisance to any other god.

And, of course, Daniel went on with his prayers. He went on with doing what he knew was right before God. And so he was thrown into the den of lions. But he was not at all disrespectful, as you know. And God…verse 21, rather, just before God protected him, “Then said Daniel to the king,” verse 21, “‘Oh, king,'” what? “‘Live forever.’” Long live the king. This seems a strange thing for a man about to be thrown in a den of … lions by this king. But he understands that the powers that be are ordained of God. And he is submissive in a unique sense, and very trustful that no matter what that king does to him, he’s in the hands of God.

God delivered him. At the end of chapter 6, verse 28 says, “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Daniel’s no-compromise approach, along with his friends, meant disobeying the government. But his attitude is a model for all those who come to that…that crossroads of having to face the reality that you can’t do what the government says, or you can’t not do what they say to stop doing. He never wavered from honoring the king, and neither did his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They were never disrespectful.

In fact, just let me give you a little bit of a pattern that I see flowing out of the experience of Daniel. First of all, normally we obey, respect, and do everything in response to and to please those in authority. We are to be model citizens, obedient not only outwardly, but obedient in spirit. Secondly, we resist and disobey only when we are commanded to do something the Word of God forbids, or are forbidden to do something the Word of God commands. And those two things are illustrated in Daniel’s prophecy. He would not do what the Word of God forbid, that is, eat a certain [type] of food. And he would not stop doing what God commanded him to do, and that was pray.

The third princip[le] that flows out of it: Even when government and the Word of God conflict, we should not disobey overtly until we have done all we can to try to resolve the conflict peacefully. Did you get that? To try to resolve the conflict peacefully.

Returning to Paul, he writes to the Romans that rulers are not a threat to good judgement but to bad (verse 3). Do what is good and you will meet well with God’s earthly authority, because He will act only against the wrongdoer through earthly authority (verse 4).

These days, in 2020, it seems local authorities can not even accomplish a prosecution of the wrongdoer, whether in Seattle, Portland or London.

Yet, according to Scripture and to history — excepting some of our most recent events — judges, among them magistrates, are tasked with upholding the law. Admittedly, magistrates by name are much more a feature in English law than elsewhere. However, they are in place in other nations, e.g. those such as Judge Judy who hear cases or night court judges. That is not to demean the magistrates’ significance at all. Those are the lawgivers you fear the most — much more so than a high court or superior court judge.

Matthew Henry explains:

Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil, &c. Magistracy was designed to be,

[1.] A terror to evil works and evil workers. They bear the sword; not only the sword of war, but the sword of justice. They are heirs of restraint, to put offenders to shame; Laish wanted such, Judges 18:7. Such is the power of sin and corruption that many will not be restrained from the greatest enormities, and such as are most pernicious to human society, by any regard to the law of God and nature or the wrath to come; but only by the fear of temporal punishments, which the wilfulness and perverseness of degenerate mankind have made necessary. Hence it appears that laws with penalties for the lawless and disobedient (1 Timothy 1:9) must be constituted in Christian nations, and are agreeable with, and not contradictory to, the gospel. When men are become such beasts, such ravenous beasts, one to another, they must be dealt with accordingly, taken and destroyed in terrorem–to deter others. The horse and the mule must thus be held in with bit and bridle. In this work the magistrate is the minister of God, Romans 13:4. He acts as God’s agent, to whom vengeance belongs; and therefore must take heed of infusing into his judgments any private personal resentments of his own.–To execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. In this the judicial processes of the most vigilant faithful magistrates, though some faint resemblance and prelude of the judgments of the great day, yet come far short of the judgment of God: they reach only to the evil act, can execute wrath only on him that doeth evil: but God’s judgment extends to the evil thought, and is a discerner of the intents of the heart.–He beareth not the sword in vain. It is not for nothing that God hath put such a power into the magistrate’s hand; but it is intended for the restraining and suppressing of disorders. And therefore, “If thou do that which is evil, which falls under the cognizance and censure of the civil magistrate, be afraid; for civil powers have quick eyes and long arms.” It is a good thing when the punishment of malefactors is managed as an ordinance of God, instituted and appointed by him. First, As a holy God, that hates sin, against which, as it appears and puts up its head, a public testimony is thus borne. Secondly, As King of nations, and the God of peace and order, which are hereby preserved. Thirdly, As the protector of the good, whose persons, families, estates, and names, are by this means hedged about. Fourthly, As one that desires not the eternal ruin of sinners, but by the punishment of some would terrify others, and so prevent the like wickedness, that others may hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously. Nay, it is intended for a kindness to those that are punished, that by the destruction of the flesh the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

[2.] A praise to those that do well. Those that keep in the way of their duty shall have the commendation and protection of the civil powers, to their credit and comfort. “Do that which is good (Romans 13:3), and thou needest not be afraid of the power, which, though terrible, reaches none but those that by their own sin make themselves obnoxious to it; the fire burns only that which is combustible: nay, thou shalt have praise of it.” This is the intention of magistracy, and therefore we must, for conscience’ sake, be subject to it, as a constitution designed for the public good, to which all private interests must give way.

That explanation ties in well with Paul’s next verse about avoiding God’s wrath for the sake of conscience (verse 5).

Then we enter into Paul’s dictum on taxes, none of which we like and all of which keep increasing year after year. Paul says we must continue paying them, because the authorities in charge are ordained by God (verse 6).

These are hard verses to swallow, especially the one on taxes, particularly these days when it seems we are paying for everyone but ourselves. Aargh!

Henry’s explanation appears quaint today, even if there was no welfare/dole in his time:

He does not say, “You give it as an alms,” but, “You pay it as a just debt, or lend it to be repaid in all the blessings and advantages of public government, of which you reap the benefit.” This is the lesson the apostle teaches, and it becomes all Christians to learn and practise it, that the godly in the land may be found (whatever others are) the quiet and the peaceable in the land.

I suppose we reap it universally in the UK in some way, but, from what many of us can see tangibly, we do not do so broadly these days.

I would elaborate, but will refrain from doing so under our extraordinary circumstances in 2020.

Paul continues about taxes and other payments due (verse 7), however, we see in our time that little has changed — and not for the better, in terms of tax.

Tax aside, Paul sends an important message: pay as you owe without undue delay, showing honour and respect to those with whom you have dealt in business.

Paul was not the only one in the New Testament besides Jesus to advocate obeying the law. James and Peter also did the same in their letters to their converts.

Peaceful assembly can take place, but violence and destruction are unbiblical. Paying taxes is essential as is giving our neighbour and our businessmen their due.

Do unto others as you would be done by is the rule.

Next time — Romans 14:13-19

Below are the readings for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, August 9, 2020.

These are for Year A in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two options for the First Reading and Psalm.

Emphases below are mine.

First Reading and Psalm — Option One

In this season of Trinity, this choice of first readings has focused on Abraham and his descendants. Today’s passage is the story of Joseph’s abduction. He was one of Jacob’s — Israel’s — sons, who were fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob loved him the most. This angered Jacob’s elder sons who expected preferential treatment because, by right, they were his first heirs. Joseph, who wore the many-coloured coat, was born much later. Therefore, his older brothers conspired to get rid of him. Note the use of the word Ishmaelites in verses 25, 27 and 28. Those were the descendants of Abraham’s illegitimate son by Hagar: Ishmael.

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

37:1 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan.

37:2 This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.

37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.

37:4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

37:12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.

37:13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”

37:14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.”So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. He came to Shechem,

37:15 and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?”

37:16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.”

37:17 The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan.

37:18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him.

37:19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer.

37:20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”

37:21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”

37:22 Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” –that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.

37:23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore;

37:24 and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

37:25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.

37:26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?

37:27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed.

37:28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

Psalm 105, in part, tells the story of Joseph, who, being Pharaoh’s right hand man in charge of the grain stores, ended up saving his once-hateful — now grateful — brothers and their families from famine. Jacob/Israel was not wrong in preferring Joseph to his other sons. More importantly, our loving Lord keeps His covenants.

Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b

105:1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.

105:2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.

105:3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

105:4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.

105:5 Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

105:6 O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

105:16 When he summoned famine against the land, and broke every staff of bread,

105:17 he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

105:18 His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron;

105:19 until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD kept testing him.

105:20 The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free.

105:21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions,

105:22 to instruct his officials at his pleasure, and to teach his elders wisdom.

105:45b Praise the LORD!

First Reading and Psalm — Option Two

Elijah felt he had to self-exile because of rulers Ahab and Jezebel as well as the Baal-worshipping Israelites. It is a shame that this reading did not include verses 19-21, which show that Elijah felt strengthened by Elisha’s joining him for their return. Why ever not? Elisha is integral to the events that followed.

1 Kings 19:9-18

19:9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

19:10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

19:11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;

19:12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

19:13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

19:14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

19:15 Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

19:16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

19:17 Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.

19:18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Here are the next three verses:

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Bible scholars have disagreed about when this Psalm was written. In any event, it is to be sung when God’s faithful are in trouble as a collective group.

Psalm 85:8-13

85:8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

85:9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

85:10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

85:11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.

85:12 The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

85:13 Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

Epistle

Paul discusses the importance of heartfelt belief in and open confession of Christ as Lord. Verse 12 is pertinent in our troubled times this year, 2020.

Romans 10:5-15

10:5 Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.”

10:6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down)

10:7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);

10:9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10:10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

10:11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.

10:13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

10:14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?

10:15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Gospel

Last week, we read Matthew’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. That night, Peter briefly walked on water during a terrifying storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew 14:22-33

14:22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.

14:23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

14:24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.

14:25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.

14:26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

14:28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

14:29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.

14:30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

14:31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

14:32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

14:33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

What an excellent set of readings this week. They tell us of God’s faithfulness, His blessings towards us and the importance of belief in Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

May all of us enjoy a blessed Sunday.

A short post today.

That said, I hope that it provides food for thought.

Most of our leaders are on a losing wicket; they are ‘blinded by science’.

The indefatiguable Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch explains everything coronavirus-related in a nutshell:

That graphic — meme, if you prefer — describes today’s confused thinking surrounding a virus related to the common cold.

This mural in Denver International Airport, the successor to Stapleton International Airport, saw the light of day in the mid-1990s. Strangely prophetic:

It’s time we stopped being Blinded by Science (courtesy Foreigner, 1979), equally prophetic.

Where is it all leading? Few of us know — including our elected leaders.

I was heartened to see two recent videos of Americans of Italian descent object to the tearing down of Christopher Columbus statues in the United States.

Everywhere else in the world — especially Spanish-speaking countries — Christopher Columbus is viewed as a hero.

Not so in today’s United States.

Language alert in the two powerful videos below.

First up is the actor, director and singer Robert Davi. After him, we have an anonymous American of Italian descent who also puts verbal pedal to the metal. Both are short and well worth watching:

Italians did not have an easy ride when they settled in America, which they, rightly, considered to be a land of promise. They — along with many other immigrants during the 19th and early 20th centuries — were not treated well at all.

In fact, a lot of European immigrants — not only Italians — were treated like dirt. They were considered to be too dark, too dirty, too unkempt, too odorous — all because they were poor.

They were called names, the likes of which are not repeated in polite company these days:

But, all of that has been forgotten.

A few factual reminders follow.

When European immigrants landed at Ellis Island outside of New York City for ‘processing’, it was no treat. Many feared the health inspection staff would send them back on the next ship. Their main worry was about married couples or families being separated during that time. A number of extended family members did not make the journey in the first place, because they had health conditions that could prohibit them from entering the country. If you couldn’t walk well or had visible ailments, you didn’t make the grade.

There was no welfare state at that time, either. So, immigrant men and boys had to find work — fast. Lodging was another issue, especially for families. Some had sponsors — relatives — in other parts of the country, e.g. the Midwest or the West Coast. Sponsored immigrants had to find the money to travel further, if they did not have it already.

So, there was no welfare provision for public housing, food or medical care.

NOTHING.

You provided for yourself and your family or you went back where you came from:

The Irish were treated poorly in the Americas even further back, starting in the days of the Thirteen Colonies:

The two groups can combine forces to fight off today’s Marxist revisionism:

The institution of Columbus Day by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 was a national apology for the lynching of 11 Italian immigrants by bigots in New Orleans on March 14, 1891.

Even now, that is still the largest number of people lynched on a single day in the United States. Yes, they were Italian.

The statues of Christopher Columbus in the United States were a further way of apologising to Italian immigrants who had been badly treated during their early years in the United States:

The revisionists do not know enough history of North America.

If they did, they never would have come out with their nonsense:

Christopher Columbus has a lot of support, even in Canada:

A few Britons also replied to Robert Davi’s tweet, moved by his video.

For those who never learned the history of immigration over a century ago, please try to become better informed before accusing everyone else of evil.

Most immigrants had a very hard time settling in, but they worked very hard for what they earned. They also passed those values of hard work and patriotism on to their descendants.

While all was quiet in our streets during lockdown, many changes have no doubt been taking place in relative silence.

One of them was Sheffield Cathedral’s decision to disband their choir. The recently hired choirmaster felt he should resign. The choirmaster was not involved in the clergy’s discussions.

It is unclear what exactly infected the minds of the Church of England clergy during lockdown, but some of the ensuing results, such as this, are questionable.

On Thursday, July 23, 2020, The Guardian reported:

In a break with centuries of tradition, Sheffield cathedral is to stand down its choir in order to make a “completely fresh start” with a new team of choristers that reflects and engages with an increasingly diverse city.

A statement published on the cathedral’s website on Wednesday said “significant change” was needed. The cathedral’s governing body, the Chapter, had decided on “a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion”, it added.

Although the cathedral’s music department had been the subject of a review, the closure of the choir was unexpected and is likely to infuriate traditionalists in the Church of England and classical music circles.

Apart from a handful of adult singers, the current choir is drawn largely from schools in the Sheffield area (including private schools) and mainly performs music from the Anglican choral tradition.

Clicking on the link for the Cathedral’s statement produces a pop-up window stating (emphases in the original):

Sheffield Cathedral is your Cathedral

Your Cathedral has seen many adversities throughout history to present time. Now we are faced with overcoming the challenges of COVID-19. 

Sheffield Cathedral is a beacon of hope for the whole community. People have been gathering on this site for nearly 1,000 years. With your support now, people will be able to gather here for many more years to come.

Please help your Cathedral to continue to be ‘A Place for All People’. Thank you.

The Very Reverend Peter Bradley, DL
The Dean of Sheffield

Well, that no longer holds true for the choir or the choir director, it would seem.

The Cathedral’s statement of July 22 reads, in part (emphases mine):

For some years the Dean and Chapter have been looking carefully at the music offer of Sheffield Cathedral. They have come to the conclusion that there needs to be significant change. This is in order to create a Music Department and Choir ready for the exciting future of the mixed urban community in which we live and work.

With the Diocesan Bishop, Chapter are appointing a new Canon Precentor in August, responsible for Cathedral worship and music. They hope this will bring increased creativity and stability.

Following a review of the Music Department in 2019, Sheffield Cathedral Chapter has decided that a completely fresh start is needed. As a result, Chapter concluded this is the right time to close the current Cathedral Choir.

This decision has not been easy because it will directly impact several colleagues and indirectly impact us all in our close-knit community. However, we believe this is in the best interests of the long-term mission of the Cathedral

For some time, Chapter has been considering a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion. They recognise that this will require flexibility, imagination and experiment …

They look forward to working with our partners throughout our City and Diocese to make this renewed vision a reality under God.

Dean Bradley told The Guardian:

“We need to be engaging with people who are part of this changing city. We believe strongly in equality and giving as many children as possible the opportunity to sing at the highest level.”

The appeal of church music was wide but sometimes “presented in a way that can be seen as elitist”, he said.

Bradley acknowledged the decision to close the current choir would “cause genuine grief”. He hoped that some of the existing choristers would become members of a new choir, which will be formed after the appointment of a new canon precentor this summer.

The new choir will continue to perform music from the Anglican choral tradition but will broaden its repertoire, he said.

“This sort of change in our sort of institution can be immensely painful, but that’s not a reason not to move forward. My view is that many cathedrals will be making similar changes over the next few years.

“It’s going to be a bit torrid for us, but we’re not going to sit in a bunker.”

You can see photos and biographies of the men who made the decision here. Perhaps they should consider making a ‘new model’ — borrowing their words — for cathedral leadership themselves. Given their own logic, they could resign.

But I digress.

Back to The Guardian, which says that one professional vocalist who had sung at Sheffield Cathedral was deeply disappointed by the decision:

James Bingham, a former member of the Sheffield cathedral choir who now works for the Irish National Opera, said he was appalled by the cathedral’s statement, tweeting: “It implies that the Anglican church’s rich choral tradition is to blame for its declining influence.”

“Choral music is one of the great cultural legacies of the Church of England,” he told the Guardian.

The idea that classical music was elitist was misguided, Bingham said. “At Sheffield [cathedral], they’re making amazing music on a daily basis in the city centre that is free to everyone.”

As a student at Sheffield university, Bingham had sung as a choral scholar five times a week for three years. Choirs were strong communities bound together by frequent performance and rehearsal, he said.

“The cathedral choir still holds a big place in my heart. If this had happened while I was still there, I would be heartbroken.”

I agree. I sang in my church’s choir as a teenager, and it was a very close-knit group of people, young and old, male and female.

This was the Cathedral’s tweet on Saturday, July 25:

Good.

You can read more disappointed reactions here.

Another tweet, by way of reply, posted a link to the petition ‘Save Sheffield Cathedral Choir’. When I wrote this post at the end of July, the count of signatories went up and up as I was reading the petition.

The petition explains that the choir is already quite diverse:

In recent years, Sheffield Cathedral Choir has made great advances in encouraging the role of women and non-binary members among the lay clerks and choral scholars of the choir. It also supported a girls’ choir and a Schola Cantorum, serving university student communities. Cathedral musicians, past and present, led the Cathedral’s outreach work which took music across the city. Notably, this included the Sheffield Cathedral Sing! Project, which worked with 2,000 children from 30 primary schools each year, including children of mixed heritage, disabilities, and of socio-economic disadvantage. Through this work, cathedral musicians connected meaningfully with schools from some of Sheffield’s most disadvantaged areas.

The petition also takes exception to the accusation about privately-educated choristers:

Regrettably, the Dean and Chapter’s statement also advances a misleading argument regarding the proportion of choristers at Sheffield Cathedral that were privately educated. Over the last 20 years, privately educated children have typically constituted a minority of the choristers at Sheffield Cathedral. In fact, we are aware that the Dean and Chapter were seeking to establish a formal partnership with Birkdale School, a private school in the city this year. These actions seem to be at odds with the Dean and Chapter’s statements.

The mother of one of the choristers wrote a lengthy explanation of the background to the choir situation on Facebook. That post is a copy of a letter she sent to the Church Times. The Master of Music — choirmaster — who has since resigned was a recent hire. Excerpts follow.

See what changes lockdown can produce:

This is my understanding of what has happened, from my vantage point as a choir parent since 2011:

There was a very short review (perhaps two days?) last summer, but changes were made and the choir went from strength to strength from September 2019 to March 2020, evidenced in Chapter’s unanimous decision to appoint Joshua Stephens as Master of Music, taking up his post on 8th March to everyone’s great delight. However, with the onset of coronavirus, Mr Stephens was furloughed and the cathedral failed to communicate this to any of the choir. Mr Stephens allegedly experienced harassment from the cathedral management and silence from the clergy while furloughed. This was not unusual behaviour for the cathedral as others have experienced the same in the past, but lockdown sharpened the focus and made it more evident. I made a formal complaint but little action was taken, and Mr Stephens resigned at the end of June stating that he was not compatible with the prevailing culture in the cathedral. Chapter accepted his resignation without talking to him to understand his motives. Lay-clerks, parents, and choristers were distraught and begged Chapter to initiate mediation. But instead they decided to close down the choir and start afresh, with no encouragement to ex-choir members to be part of the new vision.

The lady posting on Facebook said that the choir had been considering a tour in Berlin, a wider recruitment programme and a means of providing continuity for boys whose voices were changing.

The clergy apparently did not care too much about the choir during lockdown, although the choristers’ parents did their best to maintain morale:

The choir was energised and optimistic, but during all the pressures of lockdown as well as the fire at the Cathedral Archer Project, the clergy admitted that the music department had “slipped through the net”. Nevertheless choir parents and layclerks kept up morale amongst the choristers with zoom parties on the theme of different composers each week, but there was no communication at all from the cathedral to the choir from the last choir rehearsal before lockdown until 24th June when the Dean talked about bringing Mr Stephens back off furlough and preparing to start up again.

BUT:

Mr Stephens was not copied into that email and he resigned the following day.

HMM:

The fourth Director of Music to leave Sheffield cathedral in five years.

His departure precipitated other resignations:

The cathedral’s Head Steward has also since resigned in protest, as did the leaders of the 100-strong Toddler group last year, and as has one of the choir chaperones, stating that she feels unsafe and unsupported.

Wow.

The first the choristers and their parents found out about the disbanding of the choir was through the media:

Indeed the press heard about it before even the choristers did!

Something is very wrong with the Church of England. They have used coronavirus to make rather unwelcome changes. Our churches are now becoming increasingly politicised.

Instead of offering succour to those who had a hard time getting through lockdown and the loss or illness of loved ones, they have turned their attention to the prevailing cultural movements of the day, rather than to our loving Saviour and merciful God our Father.

How un-Christian. How unbiblical.

I hope to post an update when I find out more news.

On Friday, July 24, 2020, face coverings became mandatory in English shops — and Anglican churches (even with social distancing):

On Sunday, July 26, #CoverYourFace trended on Twitter.

This subject is splitting English public opinion as much as Brexit did four years ago.

This is what it amounts to:

Some of us still remember the early days of lockdown and parts of the NHS which were void of patients. According to the media, the NHS still has few patients:

I love the concept behind the NHS and, in general, the staff, so I don’t want to see it disappear, but over the past decade, something has gone woefully wrong somewhere.

This is where we are today with coronavirus:

Let’s look closer at what Chris Whitty told a Parliamentary select committee at the end of July. Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (equally useless) was interviewing him. Let’s also review what the current Health Secretary Matt Hancock said about masks (Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, is shown at the beginning of the video):

Mmmkay.

I’ve watched all of the coronavirus briefings, the House of Commons debates this year and have read government documents. This is how events unfolded five months ago:

This was the state of play just before July 24:

With regard to masks, I saw the following tweet:

For a helpful compendium on pre-COVID19 mask science, Watt’s Up With ThatWUWT — has a guest post dated July 25: ‘Does Universal Mask Wearing Decrease or Increase the Spread of COVID-19?’

The contents of the post, WUWT‘s author says, is presented ‘for information only’.

The preface reads as follows:

The use and requirements of masks have become incredibly political and partisan. Unfortunately, far too much of science, knowledge, journalism, and even epistemology are becoming political.

Agreed.

The abstract reads as follows. Five months on, past research might come as a surprise to some (emphases mine):

A survey of peer-reviewed studies shows that universal mask wearing (as opposed to wearing masks in specific settings) does not decrease the transmission of respiratory viruses from people wearing masks to people who are not wearing masks.

Further, indirect evidence and common sense suggest that universal mask wearing is likely to increase the spread of COVID-19.

This paper agrees that wearing masks in specific settings (such as healthcare facilities) achieves protective effects, although the masks should not be home-made, must be worn correctly, replaced frequently, and not overestimated.

The WUWT post references 24 papers and arranges them in three scenarios of mask wearing: A (medical/care facilities, including visitors), B (voluntary wearing by members of the public) and C (widespread/mandated wearing among the general public).

You may read the detail at your leisure.

Key points from the article follow.

First, there is a difference in behaviour when wearing masks in a clinical situation versus a generalised one:

When people are told to wear masks in specific situations to protect vulnerable individuals—for example, in pharmacies, nursing homes, and medical buildings—most people are careful to follow rules and recommendations. However, when people are ordered to wear masks everywhere and all the time, proper mask use and handling become significantly less probable. It is possible to enforce mask wearing, but it is impossible to enforce proper mask handling.

Secondly, no mask prevents aerosol flow completely:

Neither surgical nor cloth mask restrains aerosols from escaping at the sides, top, and bottom of the mask.

Masks redirect aerosol flow to all sides. Though we take protective measures, none of these measures protect against viral-loaded aerosols—especially when they can settle downward from above. For example, we know not to sneeze or cough in other people’s direction. And recently, we have also become accustomed to keeping six feet of distance away from others in a frontal arc. Moreover, clerks, cashiers, and other service providers are usually protected by plexiglass barriers. But because these measures fail to protect against viral-loaded aerosols, even ideally worn and cared-for masks might cause more harm than benefits.

Finally, breathing becomes more difficult with the real possibility, if not probability, that masks might retain — and transmit — coronavirus droplets now that many of us are required to wear masks:

All masks make breathing more difficult, requiring more effort to inhale and exhale and potentially causing more viral load to be expelled into the air. Moreover, when a non-contagious person wears a cloth mask, his or her mask accumulates the coronavirus and other germs from the environment. If a contagious person wears a cloth mask, the mask also accumulates some viral load with each breath, and soon, it might discharge more viral load with each exhalation than the contagious person would otherwise exhale—and in more directions

As of now, hundreds of thousands of people are breathing similarly forcefully through masks in public spaces, and other people are inhaling what mask wearers expel.

I then found two articles on Technocracy News.

One, from July 14, is ‘Masks Are Neither Effective Nor Safe: A Summary Of The Science’, a review of 42 papers about various types of masks.

The article begins with this preface from the editor:

Print this article and hand it to frightened mask wearers who have believed the alarmist media, politicians and Technocrats in white coats. Masks are proven ineffective against coronavirus and potentially harmful to healthy people and those with pre-existing conditions.

My wife and I dined out last night in a very empty restaurant and the young waitress was required to wear a cloth mask. I asked her how she was doing with the mask and if there were any side effects. She related that was consistently short of breath (when away from the table, she lowered the mask below her nose) and that she had actually passed out because of it a few days earlier, taking her straight to the floor. Fortunately, she was not hurt. ⁃ TN Editor

The article includes an excellent video in which a doctor explains COVID-19 in a professional way, yet in layman’s terms. Kelly Victory is the doctor’s real name, by the way:

Ultimately, regarding masks, the conclusion is that they can damage our health under a widespread mandate. Dyspnea, mentioned below, is shortness of breath because of inadequate ventilation or lack of oxygen:

In the summer of 2020 the United States is experiencing a surge of popular mask use, which is frequently promoted by the media, political leaders and celebrities.  Homemade and store-bought cloth masks and surgical masks or N95 masks are being used by the public especially when entering stores and other publicly accessible buildings.  Sometimes bandanas or scarves are used.  The use of face masks, whether cloth, surgical or N95, creates a poor obstacle to aerosolized pathogens as we can see from the meta-analyses and other studies in this paper, allowing both transmission of aerosolized pathogens to others in various directions, as well as self-contamination.

It must also be considered that masks impede the necessary volume of air intake required for adequate oxygen exchange, which results in observed physiological effects that may be undesirableEven 6-minute walks, let alone more strenuous activity, resulted in dyspnea.  The volume of unobstructed oxygen in a typical breath is about 100 ml, used for normal physiological processes.  100 ml O2 greatly exceeds the volume of a pathogen required for transmission.

The foregoing data show that masks serve more as instruments of obstruction of normal breathing, rather than as effective barriers to pathogens. Therefore, masks should not be used by the general public, either by adults or children, and their limitations as prophylaxis against pathogens should also be considered in medical settings.

The second Technocracy News article is from June 30: ‘Censored: A Review Of Science Relevant To COVID-19 Social Policy And Why Face Masks Don’t Work’. It is an article written by Dr Denis G Rancourt, a researcher at the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA.ca) and is formerly a tenured professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada. The original version in PDF has more charts, which have not been posted widely online.

Dr Rancourt researched several papers on masks written before the coronavirus outbreak. Unfortunately, he was censored. The Technocracy News editor wrote this preface to Rancourt’s article:

Denis Rancourt, PhD, has published over 100 peer-reviewed studies in his career, but ResearchGate choose to censor and remove this paper because it didn’t fit the narrative of the Great Panic of 2020 over COVID-19. Such censorship proves the existence of an alternative agenda.

Again, this underscores the Technocrat methodology of shaming, ridiculing and censoring anybody that comes forth with real science that refutes their pseudo-science.

Rancourt begins with this introduction:

Masks and respirators do not work.

There have been extensive randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies, and meta-analysis reviews of RCT studies, which all show that masks and respirators do not work to prevent respiratory influenza-like illnesses, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles.

Furthermore, the relevant known physics and biology, which I review, are such that masks and respirators should not work. It would be a paradox if masks and respirators worked, given what we know about viral respiratory diseases: The main transmission path is long-residence-time aerosol particles (< 2.5 μm), which are too fine to be blocked, and the minimum-infective dose is smaller than one aerosol particle.

The present paper about masks illustrates the degree to which governments, the mainstream media, and institutional propagandists can decide to operate in a science vacuum, or select only incomplete science that serves their interests. Such recklessness is also certainly the case with the current global lockdown of over 1 billion people, an unprecedented experiment in medical and political history.

You may read his detailed analysis in more detail.

His conclusion is as follows. He repeats the sentence above about lockdown, which I have excluded:

By making mask-wearing recommendations and policies for the general public, or by expressly condoning the practice, governments have both ignored the scientific evidence and done the opposite of following the precautionary principle.

In an absence of knowledge, governments should not make policies that have a hypothetical potential to cause harm. The government has an onus barrier before it instigates a broad social-engineering intervention, or allows corporations to exploit fear-based sentiments.

Furthermore, individuals should know that there is no known benefit arising from wearing a mask in a viral respiratory illness epidemic, and that scientific studies have shown that any benefit must be residually small, compared to other and determinative factors.

So, there you have it.

Masks and face coverings do not help in the fight against coronavirus. In fact, they may do more personal harm than good.

In closing, I found this comment to WUWT‘s article worthwhile, as it concerns our natural immune systems:

There are basic false questions in play with this current Covid 19 crisis.

Who actually cares if face masks are better at stopping the spread or not? We have among us a virus, it is not so different to other virus, that have come and lodged with us in everyday life. The corona virus is called the common cold, the clue is in the name. We are well set up to fight off virus infections, we have T cells for that; they work very well, particularly if you are young healthy and fit.

That brings us into the core of the face mask question.

There is a false hope being progressed that wearing a face cover will in some way isolate the wearer from infection; clearly that is not possible. Consequently, the authorities have realised the only way to sell the idea a face cover is a good thing, is to make people who do not wear them feel guilty. The argument goes, if you wear a face mask you are protecting others and you are showing how considerate you are.

How sweet is that? Be kind to others wear a mask, virtue signalling taken to a whole new level.

We have survived and thrived without resorting to wearing face masks. I fail to see any reason to change the healthy lifestyles of humanity, simply to pacify the bizarre anxieties of the gullible.

Yes, face masks will reduce some transmission of exhaled contaminated breath. Unfortunately, the unknown consequences of blocking natural development of immunity to a virus infection, could be far far worse. Real world experience tells us, when the European trailblazers ventured into New World lands, they “met” the natives infecting them with everyday European infections, which the natives didn’t have any immunity to, sadly they largely passed away.

We do not want to reinvent that scenario, in a generation or two’s time.

Those who want to wear a face mask are free to do so, those who prefer not to wear one, should also be free not to.

That’s where I stand. Wear one if you feel better, but please don’t look down upon those who prefer to breathe the way nature intended.

For anyone who finds this upsetting, ask yourself if you have worn a mask every winter during flu season.

If you live in the West, you haven’t, so please don’t start now.

Do you ever get frustrated with the all-political, gotcha video interviews with President Trump?

I do.

Well, here’s one that you must watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Dave Portnoy is the founder of Barstool Sports. He’s from Boston — ans excellent city, historically known as America’s Athens of the North — and is also a savvy stock market investor.

He also has delightful rabbits running around in his back garden …

… and enjoys a good al fresco lunch:

For my European friends, Dave’s corn on the cob with mixed white kernels — an American delicacy — is the finest corn you will ever eat. Sadly, this variety of sweetcorn has not yet come to our shores.

But I digress.

On Thursday, July 23, 2020, Dave Portnoy — a sports and stocks blogger — managed to get a 21-minute spontaneous interview with the most powerful man on the planet: President Donald Trump.

One of President Trump’s sons is a big Portnoy fan, so that might have helped grease the wheels in the Oval Office, but this is one interview you won’t want to miss.

Portnoy is self-avowedly apolitical. That might have helped, too. He just sits down with the US president outside of the Oval Office and asks him various questions, including those about power handshakes and regretted tweets:

N.B.: It was so good that President Trump featured it on his personal YouTube account.

Portnoy had this to say about his personal achievement:

I don’t care what your politics are this was an opportunity that couldn’t be turned on. I still can’t believe it happened to be honest.

The president was completely natural. On being asked about his ‘power’ handshakes, he questioned whether Portnoy should have reached out to shake his hand for a power handshake of his own during the coronavirus outbreak. Trump said he wondered what to do: shake or not shake the confidently outstretched hand. So, he admitted, he shook his interviewer’s hand and hoped Portnoy had been tested. Portnoy responded that he had tested negative.

Portnoy took the message on board and refrained from shaking Trump’s hand when he concluded the interview.

Trump said that the tweets he regretted most were the retweets, because, he admitted that he hadn’t checked the sources out well enough to see if they were credible.

His normal tweets, he said, were to counter fake news circulating on certain media outlets.

The funniest bit came at the end when Portnoy asked Trump if he could ring his father, who is rather opposed to the president. Trump gave his consent, as long as it could be done quickly. Portnoy Senior was very cordial towards the president and asked him if he could encourage his son to ring him more often!

If you have time only to watch this in segments at a time, here they are:

ENJOY — and please share Dave Portnoy’s interview with your friends!

Bible GenevaThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Romans 11:25-28

The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation

25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers:[a] a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.

————————————————————————————————————-

Last week’s post discussed Paul’s warning to the Gentiles not to be proud about having been grafted on to the branches of the Church, which he described as an olive tree. The Church — the cultivated olive tree, onto which the Gentiles, the wild olive branch, are grafted — is still intended to be for the Jewish people.

Paul tells the Gentiles not to feel superior over the Jews because the day will come when God will lift His judgement on Israel (verse 25). That will happen once the Gospel has reached all the Gentiles.

Paul calls this a ‘mystery’.

John MacArthur explains (emphases mine):

In other words, God is not finished with that people. It’s only until a certain event takes place. And we are not to be ignorant of that. It’s an essential purpose in the mind of God

And so, Paul with great joy has now arrived at the moment where he will present the single, most hopeful truth that he carried in his heart. It has been a mystery. Notice it in verse 25, he calls it that. “I don’t want you to be ignorant of this mystery.” That is to say it has been hidden in the past. It has been hidden. We know that’s what a mystery is, something hidden in the past and now revealed. Don’t be ignorant of it. Certainly don’t be foolishly wise in your own conceit. In other words, thinking too highly of yourselves, making an undue estimate of your knowledge and importance, not based on fact but based on your own self-conceit, based on being a quote/unquote “know-it-all.” This mystery God will reveal; don’t be a fool and be ignorant of it …

A mystery is something that’s been hidden in the past and is now revealed in the Scripture. And what was hidden in the past was that Israel would be set aside, cut off from blessing, Gentiles grafted in, ultimately Gentiles cut off, and Israel grafted back in to the place of blessing. That mystery we are not to be ignorant of. That mystery has now been revealed through the apostle Paul. And what is the mystery specifically? It’s given right in the verse, the two-part mystery, that blindness in part is happened to Israel. The mystery is that the Jews would not believe. And the word “blindness,” by the way, is really the word “hardened.” It’s the word hardened, resistant. Blindness in part; notice he puts that “in part” in there? Why? Because their blindness was what? Partial. We’ve been saying it all along. That doesn’t mean that the individuals were partly blind; it’s not talking about the degree of blindness. What it means is that the nation was partly blind, that is, there were some who were not blind. There was always a what? A believing remnant, a believing remnant.

So, he says blindness in part is happened to Israel. And that was the point of the first ten verses of chapter 11, to show that their blindness was only partial and God had a remnant. Secondly, it was not only partial it was what? Passing. And that’s how the second feature is given, only until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. “Until” indicates time. “Fullness” indicates number of completion. And so, only until a certain time and a certain completion; therefore it’s only temporary. So the mystery was that Israel was set aside partially and temporarily. The Jew in the Old Testament never saw that. He saw the nation Israel going along as the blessed people of God and someday the Messiah would come and establish His kingdom. He didn’t see their total rejection and their being cut off the place of blessing and a new country or a new nation or a new people, a new ethnos being grafted in, the church, and then becoming the source of witness in the world. And then they being cut off by apostasy and the Jew being grafted back in when the fullness of the Gentiles had come in. And that’s the mystery that Paul is unfolding.

Ultimately:

It is a warning against Gentile pride and anti-Semitism.

Paul states that all of Israel will be saved (verse 26). He paraphrases Isaiah 59:20-21

20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
    to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.

21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

… and Psalm 14:7 (verse 27) …

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
    let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

… as well as Psalm 53:6 (verse 27):

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When God restores the fortunes of his people,
    let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

Matthew Henry elaborates on Paul’s choice of those verses:

… we may observe, [1.] The coming of Christ promised: There shall come out of Zion the deliverer. Jesus Christ is the great deliverer, which supposes mankind in a state of misery and danger. In Isaiah it is, the Redeemer shall come to Zion. There he is called the Redeemer; here the deliverer; he delivers in a way of redemption, by a price. There he is said to come to Zion, because when the prophet prophesied he was yet to come into the world, and Zion was his first head-quarters. Thither he came, there he took up his residence: but, when the apostle wrote this, he had come, he had been in Zion; and he is speaking of the fruits of his appearing, which shall come out of Zion; thence, as from the spring, issued forth those streams of living water which in the everlasting gospel watered the nations. Out of Zion went forth the law, Isaiah 2:3. Compare Luke 24:47. [2.] The end and purpose of this coming: He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Christ’s errand into the world was to turn away ungodliness, to turn away the guilt by the purchase of pardoning mercy, and to turn away the power by the pouring out of renewing grace, to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), to separate between us and our sins, that iniquity might not be our ruin, and that it might not be our ruler. Especially to turn it away from Jacob, which is that for the sake of which he quotes the text, as a proof of the great kindness God intended for the seed of Jacob. What greater kindness could he do them than to turn away ungodliness from them, to take away that which comes between them and all happiness, take away sin, and then make way for all good? This is the blessing that Christ was sent to bestow upon the world, and to tender it to the Jews in the first place (Acts 3:26), to turn people from their iniquities. In Isaiah it is, The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto those that turn from transgression in Jacob, which shown who in Zion were to have a share in and to reap benefit by the deliverance promised, those and those only that leave their sins and turn to God; to them Christ comes as a Redeemer, but as an avenger to those that persist in impenitence. See Deuteronomy 30:2,3. Those that turn from sin will be owned as the true citizens of Zion (Ephesians 2:19), the right Jacob, Psalms 24:4,6. Putting both these readings together, we learn that none have an interest in Christ but those that turn from their sins, nor can any turn from their sins but by the strength of the grace of Christ.–For this is my covenant with them–this, that the deliverer shall come to them–this, that my Spirit shall not depart from them, as it follows, Isaiah 59:21. God’s gracious intentions concerning Israel were made the matter of a covenant, which the God that cannot lie could not but be true and faithful to. They were the children of the covenant, Acts 3:25. The apostle adds, When I shall take away their sins, which some think refers to Isaiah 27:9, or only to the foregoing words, to turn away ungodliness. Pardon of sin is laid as the foundation of all the blessings of the new covenant (Hebrews 8:12): For I will be merciful. Now from all this he infers that certainly God had great mercy in store for that people, something answerable to the extent of these rich promises: and he proves his inference (Romans 11:29) by this truth: For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Repentance is sometimes taken for a change of mind, and so God never repents, for he is in one mind and who can turn him? Sometimes for a change of way, and that is here understood, intimating the constancy and unchangeableness of that love of God which is founded in election. Those gifts and callings are immutable; whom he so loves, he loves to the end. We find God repenting that he had given man a being (Genesis 6:6, It repented the Lord that he had made man), and repenting that he had given a man honour and power (1 Samuel 15:11, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king); but we never find God repenting that he had given a man grace, or effectually called him; those gifts and callings are without repentance.

Paul tells the Gentiles that while the unbelieving Jews are their spiritual ‘enemies’, the Jews as a whole are still the elect, because of the covenant that God made with their forefathers (verse 28).

MacArthur explains:

In other words, when He elected the people Israel and gave promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He bound Himself to keep that promise. Elect is simply to choose. He chose them, made the promise to their fathers and now will fulfill that. So in terms of election they are still His beloved, even though at the present they are enemies. Israel is in a very peculiar position. And don’t you sense in your heart the same feeling? I don’t know how you are but when I look at Israel, when I look at the Jewish people, I have that same sense of dichotomy, that they are the beloved enemy of God. Enemies concerning the gospel but beloved concerning the election of God, promised to the fathers to be fulfilled in the future. And so while for the moment there is a hopelessness as we see their enemy profile dominating, we look to the future when their beloved profile will totally dominate in the moment and time of their salvation.

MacArthur surmises that not every Jew will believe when the time comes, but more will believe than not:

Now may I hasten, having said that, to say this, that when we say “all” we mean the nation Israel, but that does not mean every single individual Jew alive at that time will be saved. There will be some rejecters. But the great mass of them will believe and the small group will be those who refuse to believe. And we know that because of the twentieth chapter of the prophecy of Ezekiel. And in verse 33 of that twentieth chapter, “As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with fury poured out will I rule over you, I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries in which you are scattered with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with fury poured out. I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face; as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness in the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, says the Lord God. I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” He’ll examine every individual, bring them into the covenant. “And I will purge out from among you the rebels and them that transgress against Me.”

So, in that day when God reaches out to redeem His re-gathered people, everyone will pass under the rod and the vast majority will believe and embrace the Messiah and be saved, but the rebels there will be and they will be purged out. So it is a thrilling thing to realize that the time of the salvation of the nation Israel in general is indeed coming to pass. It has to be so. It has to be so.

Paul concludes by saying that God will lift His judgement on the Jews, redeeming them, because He has mercy:

29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now[e] receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

God keeps His promises.

Next time — Romans 13:1-7

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