You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2015.

bible-wornContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? I wonder.

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

Luke 21:20-24

Jesus Foretells Destruction of Jerusalem

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.


Last week’s post discussed Jesus’s foretelling of wars and persecution.

These verses which follow concern the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in 70 AD. Our Lord foretold the destruction of the temple earlier (Luke 21:5-6):

5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

And so it remains today.

In 66 AD the Jews rebelled against the Romans. This conflict culminated in 70 AD. Our Lord foresaw the city being surrounded by armies and its ultimate destruction (verse 20). The Jews fled to the mountains, and those in Jerusalem left (verse 21).

Jesus said that these events fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (verse 22). Matthew Henry tells us that this was a judgement on the Jewish people for their unbelief and that it also gives us an idea of what His Second Coming will be like for unbelievers: terrible and chaotic.

Jesus went on to say that pregnant women and nursing mothers would be particularly disadvantaged (verse 23). Henry explains:

Woe to them, not only because they are most subject to frights, and least able to shift for their own safety, but because it will be a very great torment to them to think of having borne and nursed children for the murderers.

Our Lord said that the wrath of the Romans would cause the Jews much distress. Henry says:

By the general confusion that should be all the nation over. There shall be great distress in the land, for men will not know what course to take, nor how to help themselves.

Verse 24 expresses a devastating attack on Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Of the deaths, Henry tells us:

It is computed that in those wars of the Jews there fell by the sword above eleven hundred thousand. And the siege of Jerusalem was, in effect, a military execution.

The Jews would be exiled, not just to one nation, as in the Old Testament, but to many:

which made it impossible for them to correspond with each other, much less to incorporate.

The Romans destroyed Jerusalem:

laid it quite waste, as a rebellious and bad city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and therefore hateful to them.

The Wikipedia entry on this siege cites the historian Josephus. The Emperor Titus asked Josephus to negotiate with the Zealots fighting the Romans. Those negotiations failed; after the first, the Zealots had even wounded Josephus with an arrow. After the destruction, the historian wrote:

… truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it.[3]

As for the 1.1 million people were killed:

The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination.[5]

Of the survivors, 97,000 were taken as slaves. The rest fled to countries around the Mediterranean.

Next time: Luke 21:32-38


This final instalment on the events of January 7 – 9, 2015, looks at two of the three police officers who were gunned down during that time in Paris.

Funeral in Martinique

Clarissa Jean-Philippe had only been on the beat for 13 days when Amedy Coulibaly shot her in Montrouge, south of the city, on the morning of January 8.

Her body was flown back to Martinique, where she was born and raised. Her funeral took place in the town of Sainte-Marie at Notre Dame de l’Assomption church on Monday, January 20.

The Mass was concelebrated by the Archbishop of Martinique, the Vicar General and her parish priest.

A large group of French and regional ministers from Martinique, Guadeloupe and Guyana filled the church, decorated with a hundred floral wreaths from various organisations and community groups.

Bishop Michel Méranville reminded the congregation of the tremendous risk and pressure the police, emergency services and firefighters were under.

My prayers go to her family and friends, but particularly her mother. It cannot be easy burying a child, especially in such circumstances.

Charb’s police officer

Stéphane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier had police protection from the time Charlie Hebdo‘s offices had been firebombed in 2011. (This was not the same building they were in this month, although it was nearby.)

Charb’s officer, Franck Brinsolaro, died whilst trying to protect him on January 7.

Following Brinsolaro’s untimely death, Le Monde reported that protection detail takes a special type of officer:

Flexibility, discretion, he has to learn the language and habits of ‘his’ well-known public figure — that’s what they say, often affectionately, of those whom they protect. From morning to evening, they follow them, accompany them. Seventeen-hour days where they share with ‘their’ VIP the close confines of a car, but also a conversation, sometimes a meal.

Abdelhalim Benzadi, who was part of the security detail for Nicholas Sarkozy’s government, says:

We’re in that inner circle, we go on holiday with them, we know their families.

Another officer, Christophe Crépin, told the paper:

With ‘my’ public figure we no longer need to say anything, we know what each other is thinking. It’s a bit like miming.

These officers do their job so well that Charb said in an interview in 2013:

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m the one working as an officer and they’re the ones running Charlie Hebdo.

They do not necessarily look like bouncers or minders. Le Monde said that only the Glock they carry distinguishes them from anyone else.

Franck Brinsolaro’s widow Ingrid told Ouest France newspaper that her husband was:

an understated and discreet man who adored his work.

My prayers go to her and her family in the months ahead.

Lassana Bathily’s calm, cool thinking saved lives in the Hyper Casher attack on January 9, 2015.

The 15 or so hostages he sequestered in the cold room in the supermarket’s basement will be eternally grateful to him for saving their lives. Two young children, a baby and a toddler, were among them.

Calls came nearly immediately for the French government to recognise his brave act with an honour.

The government granted him French citizenship, a passport and a medal on Tuesday, January 20.

Bathily, a practising Muslim, was born in June 1990 in the northwest of Mali. The eldest of three children, he moved to Paris in 2006 to be with his father.

Between 2007 and 2009, he attended technical school in the 19th arrondissement and obtained a diploma qualifying him to work as a tiler. His English teacher Alexandre Adamopoulos remembers him as ‘always smiling, disciplined, participating’.

Bathily intended on pursuing a professional qualification but realised that he needed to work.

In 2009, the French government refused him papers allowing him to stay. As he had arrived illegally, he was told that he would have to leave the country by the end of 2010. He told his technical school teachers. They were able to help him obtain the proper permit in 2011, which he had renewed annually as required by law.

In July 2014, Bathily applied for French nationality. By that time, he had been working for Hyper Casher for four years.

On January 9, 2015, after making sure the group in the basement of Hyper Casher were safe, he left the shop via the goods lift and went in search of the police. At 1:30 that afternoon, they handcuffed him, believing him to be an accomplice of Amedy Coulibaly. He went on to supply the special forces police — the RAID — with details of the building, hostage locations and the store layout as the siege progressed.

Afterward, Bathily received public thanks in speeches by Benjamin Netanyahu and John Kerry. Petitions went online for official recognition.

French president François Hollande personally telephoned Bathily to say that his request for naturalisation:

would be treated with the respect that his heroism merits.

It did not take long. On January 20, at 6:30 p.m. Bathily received French citizenship in an impressive ceremony at Place Beauvau, where the Interior Minister’s offices are.

The ceremony took place in Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve’s large reception room. Le Monde reported that it was full of journalists, VIPs, representatives from the major faiths, various government ministers, including Cazeneuve and Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Both Valls and Cazeneuve spoke to and about Bathily. Cazeneuve gave him two books about France, one of which is a collection of photographs.

Bathily, somewhat overwhelmed by events, listened whilst looking at the floor. Then it was his turn to speak. He told the ministers and audience:

I’m not a hero, I’m Lassana and I’ll stay that way.

He added that the loss of his colleague — and friend — Yoan Cohen deeply affected him:

I lost someone I liked a lot, someone with whom I shared a lot of laughs.

In a televised interview, Bathily said:

It could be a Christian, an atheist or a Muslim, if I see a bad person killing, it hurts me. I didn’t just do it for the Jews. It’s simply inhuman. You can’t let an innocent person be killed.

Of France, he stated:

I like this country because even if you have nothing, even if you don’t have your papers, don’t have money, they help you. It’s a great country. I really like France.

Would that more citizens felt that way.

My apologies. I had intended to write before now about the siege of the printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goële and at Hyper Casher in Vincennes, both of which took place on January 9, 2015.

The hostages’ stories are still worth telling, even though some would consider this old news. Those involved no doubt still have vivid memories of the day. I pray they are recovering.

The Kouachi brothers’ printing plant siege

For most of the day those of us keeping up with the story had the impression that there was only one hostage at the printing company. So did Saïd and Chérif Kouachi.

When the plant’s owner Michael Catalano saw the two men approach his premises armed with AK-47s and a rocket launcher, he told his employee Lilian Lepere to hide.

Lepere, a graphic designer, went to hide in the company’s kitchen. He cooped himself up in the cabinet underneath the sink.

He stayed there, bent over from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., when the siege ended.

Whilst Catalano was reassuring the Kouachis that no one else was in the building, joking with them as a distraction and plying them with coffee, Lepere was building up the nerve to tell someone what was going on.

At one point, he had a close shave when one of the Kouachis entered the kitchen for refreshments. He opened up the refrigerator, right next to Lepere’s hiding place.

The terrorist settled on tap water from the leaky sink. Lepere told reporters:

He took a drink from the sink and I could see his shadow. My back was against the pipe and I could feel the water flowing.

It was like you see in the movies. At that point the brain stops thinking, the heart stops beating, you stop breathing.

Lepere texted his father, requesting that he notify police of what was happening. Afterward, Lepere was able to communicate directly with the police. As the terrorists spent most of the time in Catalano’s office next door, Lepere was able to text their movements and describe the layout of the building to the police.

It might sound straightforward but, as he explained:

I couldn’t use my mobile at first. I was in the foetal position and couldn’t get to it easily.

Then I took the risk. My first instinct was to turn it to silent, then vibrate but I had to make sure it wasn’t touching the cabinet.

The vibrations would have been heard.

When I got messages to my family one of them was [near to] the police so I was immediately reassured to know I was in touch with the outside world.

I knew then I could give them information with my knowledge of the plant.

And I knew that a team would come for me.

I watched the final two hours of the siege on BBC24 as it happened. Terrifying. It really was like a movie. I cannot imagine what Lepere and Catalano must have experienced. A doctor was on hand to treat them after the shootout ended.

Lepere told reporters that he was in no state to attend the rally in Paris that Sunday but that he fully supported it and was thinking of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Casher attacks.

Amedy Coulibaly’s Hyper Casher siege

At 1 p.m. the same day, Amedy Coulibaly attacked Hyper Casher in Porte de Vincennes in Paris. His siege took place simultaneously with that of the Kouachi brothers.

Four men died and, at Benjamin Netanyahu’s invitation, have been buried in Israel. Coulibaly had at least one Kalashnikov and another similar weapon which he placed on the counter. At one point, one of the victims thought he could end the situation. Coulibaly, holding the Kalashnikov, had turned his back to the hostages. The man picked the other gun up off the counter. He attempted to fire at Coulibaly but the weapon jammed, which was why Coulibaly had set it aside. Coulibaly quickly turned around and shot the man in cold blood. The other three had already been killed.

When Coulibaly entered the shop firing away, employee Lassana Bathily, a 24-year old Muslim from Mali, led a small group of customers to the back of the store and down to the basement.

The basement has two cold stores. Nearly everyone went into the same one. Unfortunately, Mikael B and his three-year old son went into the other. Coulibaly sent another shop employee down to summon anyone who was there. The employee told Mikael that he and his son would have to join the others upstairs.

Bathily was able to keep the others in the cold store before escaping in the goods lift to alert police. So that they could be as safe and comfortable as circumstances permitted, he turned off the electricity and shut the door. Two children were there with their parents: an 11-month old baby and a toddler. Both were in good health upon release five hours later.

The mother of one of the hostages knew where her son Ilan was. Instead of risking putting him in danger by texting him, she contacted the police and gave them Ilan’s phone number. This helped police track his and the other hostages’ precise location.

Meanwhile, upstairs, Mikael B said that he and his son witnessed the shooting of the fourth victim. Coulibaly told Mikael to call the media. Mikael’s little boy cried, calling Coulibaly a ‘bad man’. Mikael followed the terrorist’s instructions, and Coulibaly had successive conversations with various media outlets. In at least one, he admitted to killing the policewoman the day before and said he was working with the Kouachis, who had committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre and, that afternoon, were at the printing shop.

Afterward, Mikael turned his phone off. Then, discreetly, he turned it back on and rang the police. He kept his phone on the rest of the afternoon. Near the end of the drama, Mikael said:

It was obvious that the terrorist was preparing to die. He said it was his reward. He had a weapon in each hand and boxes of cartridges nearby. He suddenly began to pray.

My mobile was still on. The police had heard it all. Minutes later the shop grille was lifted. We knew it was the start of the assault.

Up to this moment, the grille at the front door had been down. This, too, was an incredible action-film ending. As I watched it on BBC24, a security specialist guided viewers through what was happening.

The grille went up slowly, then the police threw three flares through the entrance. The security specialist said that these would not harm anyone. However, they would be dazzled and deaf for 30 to 60 seconds, giving police just enough time to get Coulibaly. He ran towards the entrance. Police fired at him. He collapsed.

The survivors, meanwhile, had crouched on the floor, as per police instructions given to Mikael earlier. They thanked the special forces who ended the operation. The Telegraph reported:

The special forces found that Coulibaly had booby trapped the store, leaving a door packed with several kilos of explosives. They also found that he had on him a stockpile of ammunition, submachine guns and automatic weapons.

“The hostages all thanked us,” said Jean-Pierre. “Some of my colleagues had tears in their eyes.”

And, after a day of rest, he was back at work – providing security for the massive solidarity march through Paris.

“I haven’t watched the video of the assault yet,” he said. “I think I might wait a bit.”

Afterward, the hostages in the basement told Lassana Bathily how grateful they were to him for keeping them safe during the tragic ordeal.

Tomorrow’s post has his story.

Meanwhile, the Nouvel Observateur reports that Hyper Casher’s manager Patrice Oualid cannot stop thinking about what happened that day. Coulibaly’s gunfire grazed his arm, and he ran out the back of the shop to get emergency help. If the bullet had hit him differently by a millimeter, he would have died:

I’m alive. My friends are dead. It isn’t easy. I left the shop because I wanted to save my own skin. I rerun the events of that day every night. I’m thinking. I can’t sleep. I keep seeing images and asking myself what I should have done.

Hyper Casher’s owner wants him to reopen the shop to show that the terrorists haven’t won. But Oualid doesn’t want to go back. Nor, he says, do the women behind the tills.

Oualid is now thinking of moving to Israel:

France is my country. I was born here. It was great living here, but no longer. [Israel] is a country at war, true, but it knows how to defend itself.

My prayers go to these survivors and their families.

Families of dead terrorists can have problems if they request burial ground in their country of origin.

After Mohammed Merah — who murdered four paratroopers and one Jewish schoolgirl in 2012 — was shot dead by police following a lengthy stake-out, his family asked for permission to bury him in Algeria. Algerian officials refused their request, even though his father was living there. Merah was buried in Toulouse, the city of his birth.

The family of Amedy Coulibaly — who killed four at Hyper Casher and a policewoman the day before —  asked officials in Mali for permission to bury him there. Coulibaly was born in Juvisy-sur-Orge near Paris but his parents were born in Mali. Malian officials refused, giving no explanation. He was buried on Friday, May 23, in Thiais, a Paris suburb.

As for the Charlie Hebdo killers, Saïd Kouachi was buried in Reims on Friday, January 16. Chérif Kouachi was buried in the Paris suburb of Gennevilliers at midnight on Saturday, January 17. According to reports, no one attended, not even his wife. Kouachi’s grave is unmarked, possibly to deter similar-minded persons from making pilgrimages to see it.

Under normal circumstances, an unmarked grave is not unusual in Islam. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was buried on January 23 in such a manner. It is in keeping with Wahhabi customs.

The following is a reprint of the entry I posted at Orphans of Liberty on January 22, 2015.

It will help us to understand the Islam of today:

The French newsweekly Marianne has featured excellent analyses of the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket attacks. Some of them are in abridged form on the magazine’s new website.

One of their journalists, Eric Conan, looked at the development of radical Islam (16-22 January 2015 issue, p. 16):

After a century of colonial domination, with no leadership since the end of the last caliphate in 1924, the Islamic world was once again in flux, torn between partisans of modernity (a Turkish or Tunisian version of Islam) and those who wanted a return to the glorious past of centuries of rapid expansion by sword and hunting down infidels.

He added that André Malraux understood that events in the 21st century would revolve around this conflict.

Conan says that the author and first Minister of Cultural Affairs never uttered the words often attributed to him:

The 21st century will be religious or it won’t happen.

He went on to cite what Malraux wrote in 1956:

The big phenomenon of our era is the violence of the Islamic eruption. Underestimated by most of our contemporaries, this rise of Islam can be compared analogically to the early days of communism from Lenin’s time. The consequences of this phenomenon are still unpredictable …

Africa will not be unaffected by this phenomenon for long … The Western world hardly seems prepared to confront this problem.

This morning’s RMC talk show discussion revolved around the violence and insularity in France’s poor suburbs. Mohammed Chirani, a consultant in public policy who was closely involved with this demographic between 2009 and 2013, says that those who live there must stop denying the reality of their situation.

He told the other panellists on Les Grandes Gueules that he could not put all of the stark truth in his book Réconciliation Française because most readers would have found it too alarming.

Chirani said that whilst the government can implement programmes in schools to help integrate these children into society, no real progress can be made until families admit that life in these suburbs is violent and dysfunctional. Violence in the streets and at home — notional conflict resolution — will lead some youths to pursue religious extremism. This can stop only when residents of these areas admit they have a problem and start changing their behaviour.

He posited that this continued denial has also led to the many conspiracy theories about the Paris attacks now circulating in households in these vulnerable areas. Teachers emailing RMC — and commenting online elsewhere — reveal that students of all ages are convinced the attacks did not happen as shown on television news. These children receive their news from a handful of popular conspiracy sites and from what their parents tell them.

Clearly, much work needs to be done, but a government educational programme on French values is unlikely to help.

Chirani and his colleagues in the Radicalisation Awareness Network will probably be able to do more. I wish them much success.

One of my readers, Pastor Ashcraft of Mustard Seed Budget, has a great post on forgiving and forgetting.

He suggests we get ‘Holy Spirit Alzheimer’s’:

What I mean by Holy Spirit Alzheimer’s is to forget what we must forgive, to heal the wounds in our hearts, to remember the good and forget the bad, to move on, to stay in relationship with people who have hurt us deeply. When God forgives, He forgets. Would we could do likewise.

He also says that his mother had Alzheimer’s, therefore, using this terminology is not one of disrespect to those who might directly or indirectly be affected by this horrible disorder.

However, last year, I had the opportunity to get Holy Spirit Alzheimer’s and was very glad I did. I also reached out to someone who decided to keep her memory for the time being, if you get my drift. That was disappointing, but I have forgiven her — and forgotten the past.

Life is too short to be holding grudges that have lasted for decades, particularly when they become irrelevant over time.

Bible read me 1Continuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? I wonder.

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

Luke 21:10-19

Jesus Foretells Wars and Persecution

10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers[a] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.


Luke 21:5-9 recounts Jesus’s foretelling the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which took place in 70 AD by the Romans.

In Luke 21:7, one of the disciples asked Him when that would happen and how they would know beforehand. The answer came as follows:

And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

This brings us to today’s verses.

Many agnostics and unbelievers say, ‘If there were a God, my father would not have died, wars would not take place, nor would natural disasters. If there is a God, why does He allow these things to happen?’

Too few Christians know the answer to that question, which is in all the Synoptic Gospels:

Matthew 24

Mark 3:3-13

Luke 21:8 – 18

Everyone who calls himself a Christian should know where to point people in the right direction for the answer.

It astounds me that none of these passages is in the three-year Lectionary.

Too many of us think that nothing bad should ever happen to us or to others. However, we have lived in a fallen world since Adam and Eve’s Original Sin. Events will continue to wax and wane until the Second Coming. Does that mean we should sit back passively? No, let us do what we can to help each other by providing practical help as well as prayers. But none of us should be under any misconceptions; these things are meant to happen — and they will.

Let’s imagine what the disciples thought as they heard Jesus’s words. Remember that the Messiah was to bring the Jewish people into a temporal golden age which would last forever. They would have been confused by His foretelling of wars around the world (verse 10), natural disasters, famine, plagues (verse 11) must have shocked them.

Most shocking must have been His telling them in no uncertain terms that they would be persecuted — for His sake (verse 12). John MacArthur describes the justice system of that era:

Synagogues…contained the Jewish local courts. In every village, in every town there were synagogues. In those synagogues was the dispensing of local justice both criminal and civil. Twenty-three judges usually were required to sit and adjudicate on the cases that were brought to the synagogue court.

To be brought, by the way, before that court was considered a severe discrediting and indignity. The court would listen to the case, the court would make a decision, that is the judge would render his verdict, and punishment was executed immediately on the spot. Generally speaking, since the Romans had not allowed the Jews to have the right of capital punishment, the Jews would have to do something to punish people short of stoning them to death, and so they would scourge them with whips, the way Jesus was scourged, in fact, by the Romans was the typical way the Jews scourged the guilty. One judge would recite an appropriate Psalm, or Old Testament text, that had something to do with the crime committed. The second would count the blows. And a third would command the blows and a servant of the synagogue, he was called, would deliver the blows and they would come immediately upon the adjudication and in full public view.

In the case of these believers, they would not only be scourged, but they would be put in prison.

Jesus tells His disciples that persecution will be their chance to bear Christian witness (verse 13). As to the abject fear felt in these situations, He advised not to be afraid of finding words of self-defence (verse 14), because He will enable them — and us — to speak in such a way that no one can contradict what is being said (verse 15).

Matthew Henry tells us that this wisdom came to the disciples at the first Pentecost:

This was remarkably fulfilled presently after the pouring out of the Spirit, by whom Christ gave his disciples this mouth and wisdom, when the apostles were brought before the priests and rulers, and answered them so as to make them ashamed, Acts 4:1-6:15.

Jesus goes on to say that those close to the disciples will turn them in to the authorities for preaching in His name. Death would be a real possibility (verse 16).

All of this pertains to us, too.

After the Romans destroyed temple, Jewish persecution of Christians ceased. Gentile persecution continued and, as we know, exists today all over the world. In some countries it is more random. In others, it is an everyday preoccupation.

Jesus tells the disciples that people will hate them because those same people hate Him (verse 17). Those who persecute sometimes do it in the name of God, to help Him rid the world of heretics and infidels. Think of the attacks in Paris in January 2015 as the most recent example (as I write).

Jesus ends His discourse by reassuring them that they will perish (verse 18) and that, thanks to their endurance, they will gain their lives (verse 19). He means that they will share eternal life with Him.

The second half of John MacArthur’s sermon tells us what happened to the Apostles and disciples. Jesus’s words were fulfilled. Some of the evidence is in the book of Acts (emphases mine):

The church starts in chapter 2. Peter preaches his first sermon in chapter 3. They’re put in jail in chapter 4. Before anything else could happen as exactly as Jesus had stated. Shortly after that, however, stung by the phenomenal growth of the church, three thousand on the Day of Pentecost and thousands more soon after, you come in to chapter 5, the next chapter in Acts, and what do you read? “The high priest rose up along with all of his associates, that is the sect of the Sadducees, filled with jealousy they laid hands on the Apostles and put them in a public jail.” Just exactly what Jesus said would happen at the hands of the Jews. That’s chapter 5.

You come to chapter 6, you meet Stephen, a servant in the church. Stephen is falsely accused. He is arrested by the Jews. He is put on trial before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council. And then he is, in chapter 7, stoned to death. After his death, you come to chapter 8. How does chapter 8 begin? With a general persecution breaking out against all Christians, spear-headed by none other than a man named Saul of Tarsus. The persecution begins and it spreads.

It finally reaches the Apostles in the twelfth chapter. The first of the Apostles to be martyred is James, the brother of John, and he is executed by the will of the Jews at the hands of Herod, chapter 12.

Soon after that, Peter, Andrew, Philip, James the son of Alphaeus, all crucified. Bartholomew whipped to death and then crucified. Thomas stabbed with spears. And these are the very men to whom Jesus said you will be hated, persecuted and killed. And they were.

Even outside that original circle of disciples, Mark was dragged to death through the streets of Alexandria. James, the half-brother of Jesus and the leader of the Jerusalem church, was stoned by order of the Sanhedrin. Matthew, Simon the Zealot, Thaddaeus and even Timothy were killed for their unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ. It was Clement of Rome, a contemporary of the Apostles, who died around 100 A.D. who observed this, quote: “Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars of the church have been persecuted and executed.”

Jesus said it would happen and it happened. Jesus wasn’t limiting this persecution just to them. He said it would start with them and it would continue. The Apostle Paul says, “All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

As for Saul of Tarsus who underwent dramatic conversion as Paul, the second half of Acts has his story, which MacArthur details for us. At the end:

Eventually he has a harrowing sea voyage and shipwreck. In Roman custody he arrives in Rome. There, Acts 28, local Jewish opposition comes against him. They tracked him even to the end of the book of Acts because they hated Christ. The Romans released him after two years of imprisonment. Acts 28:30, eventually rearrested him and cut off his head under Nero’s persecution.

The world will make our lives a misery to lesser or greater degrees. Regardless of what happens, our Lord will keep us close to Him not only in this world but in the next:

18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Next time: Luke 21:20-24

The French newspaper La Voix du Nord (Northern Voice) has investigated and revealed a few surprising facts about Amedy Coulibaly who held the kosher hypermarket hostage and murdered four people on Friday, January 9, 2015.

Amazingly, Coulibaly financed his weapons in a very ordinary way. He took out a consumer loan from the mainstream lender Cofidis (H/T: L’Internaute).

La Voix du Nord published a copy of his loan application. The article explains that he asked for and received €6,000, which he applied for on December 4, 2014. A weapons specialist told the newspaper that the weapons found at Hyper Casher were worth €6,000 on the black market.

Coulibaly agreed a 60-month repayment plan, the first instalment of which was due on Monday, January 5.

When applying for it, he supplied all the necessary documentation: a copy of his French ID card, his latest phone bill, a Crédit Agricole bank statement, documentation showing his annual pay and a payslip from a company in the Paris suburbs.

He told Cofidis that his title was Project Manager, he began working for the company in May 2007* and that his taxable income for 2013 was €33,714. Some will find that rather modest, but in France, that is rather enviable. In November 2014, he earned nearly €3,000. In these terms, he was certainly middle class.

The newspaper attempted to contact Coulibaly’s employer, but the number is out of service.

A spokesperson from Cofidis told La Voix du Nord that they are under no legal obligation to ask borrowers how they will use a loan. The spokesperson said that the amount Coulibaly requested was an average sum and that most of their customers generally use that size of loan for home improvements.

The newspaper ran another article on January 14 explaining why they revealed this information. It is in response to the online comments saying ‘Useless information’ and ‘Who cares?’

Emphases below are in the original:

Amedy Coulibaly’s savagery during the hostage taking at Hyper Casher at the Porte de Vincennes in Paris nearly made us forget that we didn’t have an operation by someone excluded from our society, someone on its margins. No, Amedy Coulibaly was integrated, lived in an apartment among other citizens in our society, earned a not insignificant amount of money — €2,900 per month after tax — and used all the avenues of a consumer society.

No, he was not necessarily financed by foreign groups. This made him more difficult to apprehend.

The second bit of information is that he contracted this in December 2014. Amedy Coulibaly was mounting his operation, of this there can be no doubt. This means that the attack was premeditated.

These data are neither futile nor useless. The more we know about the lifestyle of the three men who sowed terror last week in terms of the way they prepared their operations — enquiries which must continue in the days to come — the more French society will be able to protect itself in future.

So, let’s not assume that these extremists are poor, marginalised and dependent upon foreign terror cells for money.

Excellent work on the part of La Voix du Nord. Security services everywhere should take note instead of asking for more intrusive powers.

* Was Coulibaly being somewhat economical with the truth here? He was in prison between 2010 and March 2014. However, because of his good conduct, he was allowed to take courses and to work.

Belgium has made a worrying discovery inside its police departments.

This reminded me of what Front National founder Jean-Marie Le Pen said about the Charlie Hebdo attack. He takes the view of a conspiracy theorist. By definition, he is unhelpful. However, he did say:

I do not think the organisers of this crime are French authorities but that they did allow this crime to be committed. For the moment, these are only suspicions.

On Sunday, January 18, Le Monde reported that several searches took place that day in and around Brussels.

A known terror cell broke up the week before, its leader still at large. Belgian authorities say this group planned an attack on police on January 16. Investigations continue.

However, that same day, Le Monde reported that Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure (11th Hour) stated that investigations were taking place concerning

police officers suspected of having links with radical networks.

The public prosecutor’s office is following leads about an investigator said to have links with the radical group Sharia4Belgium, which recruits terrorists. Several of their members are currently appearing in court in Anvers. Le Monde says:

The wife of another police officer had adopted conduct suggesting she was sliding into extremism. A third officer refused to shake the hands of his female colleagues.

Belgium is under considerable tension at the moment, particularly in Brussels and in Anvers, where armed troops are patrolling high profile areas.

At least one Le Monde reader asked about infiltration in the armed forces.

It is not inconceivable that extremist cells are conducting a long march through European institutions.

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you wish to borrow, 1) please use the link from the post, 2) give credit to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 3) copy only selected paragraphs from the post — not all of it.
PLAGIARISERS will be named and shamed.
First case: June 2-3, 2011 — resolved

Creative Commons License
Churchmouse Campanologist by Churchmouse is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,165 other followers


Calendar of posts - The internets fastest growing blog directory
Powered by WebRing.
This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

Blog Stats

  • 1,327,849 hits