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Shofar, So Good

The shofar trumpet mentioned in the Bible was made from a ram’s horn. It was blown by the priests of God for various purposes. Like today’s siren, which makes a loud, attention-getting sound, the blast of the shofar also demanded people’s attention. Those who heeded could say, (pardon the pun), “shofar, so good!” and be saved from serious injury or death.

However, if people heard the warning but failed to take heed, they would suffer the consequences.

In some communities today, a siren is sounded simply to announce twelve o’clock—high noon. But sirens are also considered critical public safety components to sound warnings of tornados, tsunamis, or other dangers, warning citizens to take shelter and be spared injury or death. These warning sounds, whether a piercing shofar blast or deafening siren, are for our good, that we may respond in a proper way.

I’ve seen news reports of a siren failing to give warning of an approaching tornado. In such cases, those who are appointed to sound the alarm are held accountable. If they failed by dereliction of duty to sound the warning, they were held accountable for any resulting destruction, injury, and death.

However, people sometimes foolishly fail to heed the warning. They are accountable for the results of their own actions, having received a warning but having failed to heed it.

Shofars and other instruments have been used as signal instruments for millennia. They produced loud noises that could be heard far and wide. The message could be a warning of an approaching enemy, or a simple direction for movement or deployment of troops, or other useful purposes.

With the noise of thunder, lightning, and a very loud shofar sounding, the people of Israel trembled at the awesome sights and deafening sounds when God gave His commandments at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16 and 20:18).

At the famous battle of Jericho, the first city conquered as Israel entered the Promised Land, the “walls of the city came tumbling down” (Joshua 6) at the blast of shofars and a great shout. Joshua also utilized the shofar in defeating the vast armies of Midian and Amalek with only 300 soldiers (Judges 7).

The shofar was also used for ceremonial religious purposes, announcing celebratory events such as the anointing of a king, and for military purposes. One military use was the job of the watchman, stationed at a guard outpost, watching for invaders. The watchman sounded the alarm to warn the people so armies could be quickly mustered for defense and battle.

The book of the prophet Ezekiel tells of Ezekiel’s commission from God to be a watchman for the rebellious House of Israel (Ezekiel 2:3; 33:7), to sound the shofar alarm for Israel to either repent of sinful behaviors or suffer the punishment of captivity. But, Israel had already been taken into captivity by Babylon about 150 years before Ezekiel’s prophecy. God doesn’t make mistakes, so we must conclude that this warning was for the future. And indeed, it is.

In Ezekiel 33, the function of a watchman is described. When the watchman sees the sword coming, he must blow the shofar to warn the people of Israel. If the people hear the sound of the shofar but fail to heed the warning and turn from wicked ways, they will suffer the consequences. But, if the watchman should fail to sound the warning, the people are not warned, and the blood of those that perish will be on the watchman’s head. 

The ancient tribes of Israel have grown into modern day nations, as shown in our booklet, The United States and Great Britain In Prophecy. Also don’t forget to watch “The Apostles’ Amazing Journeys” for more insight on this subject! The modern-day nations of Israel are being warned to repent of disobedience to the commandments of the Almighty God before they suffer the consequences of war and captivity. Will you heed the watchman’s shofar warning?

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/shofar-so-good

Shame of Face

For anyone keenly observing today’s world scene, an undercurrent of shamelessness soon becomes very clear. You’ll see it in everything. Political shenanigans, movies, popular music, and—this being the “Information Age,” after all—the “blogosphere,” where anyone can air his or her views, gripes, and opinions, without reservation. And this culture is becoming more disturbing all the time.

Coarse language, scatological content, irreverent comments, and sarcasm rule the discourse. As you walk through a shopping mall, you may hear language coming from young people, girls as well as boys, that would shock a salty old sailor of yesteryear. Even professional broadcasters and pundits of the 24-hour news cycle on cable and satellite often use foul, sexually charged words and expressions. Their most publicly-stated opinions and evaluation of others are disrespectful and even profane.

Modesty seems to have met an untimely end in dress and fashion. We see ragged jeans, revealing tops, bare shoulders, and plunging necklines or yoga pants that leave nothing to the imagination. Styles change, and fads come and go, but good taste should never go out of style.

The profligate life styles of many rich and famous people from movies, television, professional sports, and even prominent politicians are a sordid mess of infidelity, impropriety, and instability—all of which plays out on social media with millions watching, and often emulating, their aberrant behavior.

Perverse behaviors, taboo for millennia, are being pushed upon society as acceptable “lifestyles” in an astounding way. Elementary school curriculums are teaching that these perversions are normal, even encouraging prepubescent children to “choose” a gender other than their actual God-given gender. Some states even prohibit counseling to help those who have gender confusion or sexual dysfunction to embrace normal behavior. College courses in diversity, including transgender options, encourage gender confusion.

Constant exposure to such degradation has a searing, scarring effect on the collective conscience of society. Subject matter or actions that would once make an ordinary person blush are now common place and accepted. The concept of one’s actions causing shame or disgrace, remorse, self-reproach, or feelings of guilt has certainly been diluted to the point of being a rare response.

Are we better off as a people slogging through this immoral muck? I think not!

The Bible addresses this kind of behavior. During a period of national sinfulness in ancient Israel and Judah, the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush…” (Jeremiah 8:12). That could have been written about our day.

The prophet Daniel, in a heartfelt prayer about conditions in his time put it this way, “…O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.… O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day…” (Daniel 9:4–7).

The Psalmist in Psalm 44:15 spoke with a fervent and repentant attitude.“My dishonor iscontinually before me, and the shame of my facehas covered me….”

While, as individuals, we cannot change the downward spiral of society or the language and immoral activities all around us, we can make changes in our own lives. The Apostle Paul said it well: “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.… Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 
finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:3–10).

In instructing the believers of his day, Paul said this as well: “Let your speech always bewith grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). Notice, not “peppered with profanity.” Is it important? These are the words of Jesus Christ on the subject: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

If we are to please God, we should conduct ourselves and express ourselves in a manner that will be pleasing to Him. In doing so, we can avoid “shame of face” as we stand before Him in the judgment.

Our booklet What is a True Christian? is available, totally free of charge. Also, be sure to check out “What is the Greatest Love?” to learn about what so much of the world is missing but so desperately needs.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/shame-of-face

What are You Afraid of?

People have all kinds of fears. Even the bravest among us, though they may not like to admit it, have a fear or two lurking in the mind. Whether it be a common one, like the fear of public speaking (Glossophobia), or a quirky one like the fear of clowns (Coulrophobia), fears are unpleasant. What are you afraid of?

Most of us are able to function normally, maintain a job, have a family and generally enjoy life despite having things we’re afraid of. But some are paralyzed by their fears, and may suffer some degree of incapacitation, unable to live a normal life.

What should we do about our fears?

Of course, there are healthy fears that keep us from doing foolish and dangerous things, like swimming in waters infested with alligators, walking carelessly on the edge of a cliff, or letting our child throw rocks at a hornet nest. These fears help us take sensible precautions. We toss out food that we suspect may be spoiled. We fill the gas tank so our car won’t stop in the middle of a busy freeway. Having common sense healthy fears helps us take prudent measures to ensure our safety and the safety of our family.

But irrational fears are another matter. Fears such as Disposophobia (the fear of discarding things, leading to extreme hoarding), or telephonophobia (the fear of talking on the phone), cause debilitating anxiety.

Fear is an emotion based on our perception of a threat or danger, whether real or imagined, whereby we experience distress and anxiety.

So, how should we handle fear? Franklin D. Roosevelt is often quoted for a statement he made in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1933. He said, “…the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” That statement inspired confidence in a time of uncertainty during the Great Depression. But is that statement entirely accurate? Should we be afraid of fear? Should we be fearless? Are there some things we should fear, and, if so, what are they? And what should we not fear? And how do we conquer our fears?

I’ll leave the therapies to the psychologists, but I refuse to believe that our response to fear comes from a “fight or flight” response mechanism we inherited from fictional evolutionary caveman forbears. But, there are some plain and simple statements in the Creator’s book, the Holy Bible, that we should consider.

For instance, 1 Peter 2:17 says we should “Fear God.” The word “fear” in this instance really means to revere and be in awe of God. But 1 Peter 1:17 says, “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay herein fear….” The word fear in this instance is phobos, which means to be exceedingly afraid. Life is short, and death stares us all in the face, but Jesus Christ became flesh that “through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14–15). The follower of Jesus Christ can trust Him, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5–6).

Knowing God loves us, we can abide in Him, and His love is perfected among us, we can have boldness, for “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:16–18).

A true Christian receives God’s Holy Spirit, and “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

So, we have nothing to fear if we have awe and reverence towards Almighty God.

Common sense tells us we need to identify our fear, and face it. You can face yours, and there is help. Be sure to read or listen to “Fear, Frustration or Faith?” and “Do You ‘Fear’ God?” today!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/what-are-you-afraid-of

The Freedom Trap

Of all the values society holds dear today, freedom must top the list! As we look around our nations and communities, what freedoms do we value? We value freedom of speech, freedom of travel, and freedom to act as individuals. We cherish freedom of choice—in marriage, family, religion, and myriad other things. Many even seem to value freedom from marriage, freedom from children, or freedom from religion, and the list goes on seemingly endlessly. But does freedom have a “price”?

We memorialize freedom in our Independence Day celebrations. And we use freedom in our mottos—for example, “Live free or die” is the motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Yes, freedom seems to be an ubiquitous value the world over. And if people or nations do not currently have freedoms, they desperately long for them!

Yet with all the freedoms afforded to our modern society, are we happier than we were in the past when there were arguably fewer freedoms? Are we truly more liberated today? In our societal rush to become free from the shackles of religion, is it possible that we have become entrapped through making freedom and liberty our new “gods?”

In a recent article for PJ Media, author and commentator D. C. McAllister pondered over the idea that “The idol of freedom is the cause of our loneliness.” In her article, Ms. McAllister drew the following profound conclusion about our freedom to choose for ourselves:

“While individualism and self-interest are fundamental to our happiness as politically free people, they have a dark side when out of balance. This was a concern of Alexis de Tocqueville when he commented on the development of the American democracy. Individualism had a way of separating the much-needed bonds of society. Left unchecked, families would no longer be close. Friendship would degenerate into relationships of convenience not commitment. Communities would fray. Selfishness and narcissism would drive away empathy and self-sacrifice. Intimate social connections would be lost.”

Is this not what we are witnessing in society today? Ms. McAllister went on to identify the crux of the problem:

“When morality is rejected and the subjective becomes the standard for truth, the subject [that’s us] is instantly and permanently isolated. He is living on an island of one… Freedom from a relationship with God has plunged us into existential angst and a loss of significance. Freedom from virtue, judgment, law, and regulating moral principles has cast us into a sea of abandonment.”

Is there any wonder why, in this age of freedom, there is less happiness, more hatred, and higher rates of drug use and suicide than, perhaps, ever before? In our quest for the ultimate freedoms, we have cast off the virtues and values that can truly make us free!

In a sad twist of irony, much of society has thrown off Judeo-Christian values and their source—the Bible. These things hold the keys and outline the path to true freedom and happiness. The teachings of the Bible reveal that it is actually God’s truth that will set us free (John 8:32), not our opinions or feelings. And, contrary to the beliefs of much of modern Christianity, God’s law—including the Ten Commandments—is called “the perfect law of LIBERTY” (James 1:25)! If we seriously consider this, we should see that adherence to God’s laws would actually begin to free society from crime, murder, hate, depression, exhaustion, loneliness, and so many other modern plagues.

Society has allowed its relentless pursuit of freedom to become its most important priority today, placing it above friends, family, colleagues, allies—our neighbors, whom we are to love even as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19). The idolatrous pursuit of freedom has become a painful trap that is actually holding society captive. But there is another, happier, more fulfilling way within our reach! To find out more about this way be sure to watch our illuminating and encouraging telecast “What is Freedom?”

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/the-freedom-trap