Out for Blood

The world has been a violent place for thousands of years, but societies around the globe appear to be getting even more violent. Last Sunday in Toronto, Canada, a 25-year-old man drove a rented truck into pedestrians, killing ten and injuring 13 more (The Independent, April 24, 2018). In the USA, hearing or reading news of shootings in schools and at public places feels as though it is becoming routine, with yet another instance just this past week (New York Times, April 23, 2018; Washington Post, April 24, 2018). In Europe, murders with knives, with guns and by fanatics driving large vehicles continue to make news, as well. Last year in Mexico, more than 25,000 people were killed—the highest number of murders in that nation since monitoring began a decade before (AFP, April 22, 2018). What is going on?

There are many theories as to why these mass murders are occurring. They range from a lack of fathers, to violent video games, to easily accessible firearms, and even to sexual deprivation. But are there more fundamental reasons?

The Apostle Paul warned that “in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves… unloving… without self-control, brutal, despisers of good” (2 Timothy 3:1–3). Jesus also prophesied about the end of the age: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). The prophet Hosea connects increasing violence with turning away from God (Hosea 4:1–6), and the prophet Jeremiah warned that when nations forget God, they will reap what they sow (Jeremiah 2:17–19). As societies move away from biblical morality, it is not surprising that the value of life diminishes and violence and brutality increase. The Bible is the moral standard that emphasizes the value of human life and the need to protect it. Without the Bible, “[e]very way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2). However, the Bible reveals this killing and carnage will stop! To find out how this will occur, read “Seven Reasons Why Christ Must Return!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/news-and-prophecy/out-for-blood

Independence for Israel—"Out of All Their Troubles…"

When modern Israel was founded in 1948, the newly-formed nation faced an uncertain future. The eyes of the world were upon it. From the moment Israel’s declaration of independence was signed on May 14, the endeavor was beset by many troubles. War came swiftly—when the new country’s angry neighbors attacked. Seventy years later, what is the condition of the nation that so many threatened to “drive into the sea?”

Israel celebrates its independence today, in conjunction with another holiday memorializing the fallen soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force in the country’s conflicts—and there are many to remember. Most Jews in the Western world recognize Yom Ha’atzmaut, and linking it with Yom Harizikon is a significant reminder of the debt Israelis owe to their armed forces.

Both holidays follow the ancient—and biblical—Hebrew tradition of counting days from sundown to sundown, meaning that the 24-hour period for Yom Harizikon started on Tuesday evening at sundown and ended even as Yom Ha’atzmaut was beginning on Wednesday evening. (Holy days recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are counted the same way).

Israel, having endured much, does well to remember and dedicate national holidays to the sacrifices that have paved its way to success in the modern age. Many Americans have a penchant for their own national holidays commemorating the United States’ establishment and defense, but these Israeli holidays remind that they are far from alone. How especially poignant Israel’s memories must be, whose population today still includes those who lived through their nation’s birth and survival, seeing it with their own eyes and shaping it with their own hands.

It is interesting to note that American culture, in general, has been identified by some as “forgetful” regarding its past, as fewer Americans today are able to answer basic questions about the nation’s history. Much of United States history is marked by monumental internal as well as external trials—and with so much going on within its borders, it can indeed be easy for Americans to forget, and become so wrapped up in the present that even the recent past seems more like “ancient history.” Sadly, that exacts a price.

But it would seem that a young nation like Israel, balanced on a knife’s edge through much of its existence, would be even less able to afford such forgetfulness. Zionism’s history is long, and fraught with highs and lows. Modern Jews do well not to take the future for granted by forgetting the horrors of the past.

But what if there were a connection between Israel and the West that much of the entire world has forgotten? And what if the Holy Bible contained the key to understanding that connection, in prophecies that many find confusing? The United States, Great Britain and Israel today are allies, sharing much in common—including their devotion to the traditions of freedom and liberty they’ve fought hard to achieve and protect, and reflected in their independence and memorial days.

But their connection runs much deeper than that.

Genesis 48 and 49 record the ancient prophetic blessings the Hebrew patriarch Jacob pronounced on his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked … Bless the lads; let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:15–16). They were to become a great nation (Manasseh) and a great company of nations (Ephraim) (v. 19), while from Judah the “scepter would never depart” (Genesis 49:10) and a Savior would come (Micah 5:2).

The descendants of Jacob are scattered abroad, but their identities were once known. Learn of them—and how that knowledge will affect your life—today! Order the free booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.

By celebrating recent history, the people of Israel commemorate the sacrifices and protection of their armed forces. With an eye on the momentous events behind these holidays, whose “religious character… is still in the process of formation, and is still subject to debate,” it is understandable why people would celebrate them. Hopefully they are observed not only with a sense of reflection on the past, but also on the overall plan and purpose God has for all of His people in the future. And it would behoove Israel to consider, as well, to seek a more profound and passionate relationship with celebrations and observances that are at the very root of their culture, yet far older than 70 years: the holy days of the Bible.

Will we remember the role God Himself has truly played in our protection, or will we continue to forget the most important requirements for our many blessings to continue? Will we show the character spoken of in Psalm 34, and cry out to God, who will deliver us from “all our troubles”? We pray so!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/independence-for-israelout-of-all-their-troubles

Spiritual Exam Standards

Most of us have had a physical examination as an annual check-up or for employment, etc. Does God require us to have a spiritual examination?

A physical health examination is the process by which a doctor examines the body of a patient for signs of disease. A routine physical will check common measures of a healthy body: your personal and family medical history, lifestyle behaviors, vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, nervous system, etc.).

There are a few differences depending on whether we are male or female. (Biologically, there are only two sexes, though some try to argue with that fact today!) A few particulars apply to males, and a few to females, but, generally speaking, we all are measured against the same basic, “perfect” health standards.

An examination is a diagnostic, an act of identifying a potential disease from its symptoms and analyzing the cause. If we are above or below certain standards, it indicates we have a disease or condition.

In Old Testament times, the priesthood was responsible for examining the people of Israel to determine if there was leprosy or a plague (Leviticus 13–14).

David, king of Israel, wrote Psalm 26, which shows he understood the need to have his heart examined—a spiritual examination. He said in verse 2, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.” The psalm indicates that he had examined himself in various measures to determine if he was living according to God’s ways. He recognized that, although he strived to walk in integrity, he needed God’s redemption and mercy (v. 11).

The Apostle Paul tells Christians: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

This idea may be foreign to many who call themselves Christian today, who have been told that they do not need to obey God’s commandments and that all they have to do is accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and they are saved “by grace alone” (implying that whatever they do after that doesn’t matter). But let’s examine that idea in light of some scriptures.

Why the need to examine ourselves? Notice further, in 1 Corinthians 11:27–28: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Clearly a person can take the Lord’s Passover (which some call the Lord’s Supper) in an unworthy manner, and be guilty!

We need to know what could make us unworthy! As in a physical exam, there are things the doctor does not want to find because it indicates disease. Similarly, there are things we would not want to find when examining ourselves spiritually. Galatians 5:19–21 speaks of the “works of the flesh”: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; … those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

These sins are common in this modern age! If you are practicing them, you will not be in the kingdom of God! That’s what the Bible says! Did you know that?

Physically, we want our “readings” to be in the normal range. Likewise, in our spiritual lives, there are things we should expect to find. If we have God’s spirit, we should expect to find these spiritual fruits: “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv. 22–23).

Are you “IN THE FAITH”? Examine yourself! To help you in this process, read our booklets What Is a True Christian? and Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. The article “The Danger of False Conversion” may also be helpful!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/spiritual-exam-standards

"Buy" the Truth

The old saying “Truth is a rare commodity” seems truer today than ever before. Truth is always valuable and investing in this commodity is always wise—particularly as it becomes rarer.

Let’s face it: lies, deceits, falsehoods, misrepresentations, omissions and so-called “spin” are rampant. If we have even a modicum of experience, we have grown rightly skeptical of all claims, no matter the source, whether in print, on television or the Internet. Nothing, it seems, can be trusted to be factual or accurate. Everything is suspect. The world is full of liars.

Like all human marketplaces, this “marketplace for truth” also contains half-truths, scams and outright lies. We are all invited to “buy” from this dizzying array. But lies spoil rather quickly. Like a waxed piece of fruit, the outside looks nice, but it may be rotten underneath. Half-truths may last a little bit longer, but eventually reveal what is true and what is not. Only real truth survives.

Lies are at least as old as the Garden of Eden, where the serpent (Satan the Devil in disguise) lied to Eve when it told her that she would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit. Alas, she bought the lie, and mankind has been eating that rotten fruit ever since. Adam and Eve together “bought” the idea that they could decide for themselves what is true and what is a lie. This is the essence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan told Eve, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). In other words, Satan said, “YOU can decide what is right and wrong, what is ‘true’ and what is ‘false,’ for yourself. You don’t need God to tell you! Decide for yourself!” And he even accused GOD of being the liar one verse earlier, when he said “You will not surely die!” (v. 4)—a direct contradiction to God’s warning! (See Genesis 2:16–17.)

In this present age, a person does not need to be particularly astute to notice the partisan wrangling by leaders in many nations. Political parties present their own version of “the truth.” They strongly wrestle to convince the observer that one or the other is totally wrong, and that the other must be totally right! But both may be wrong, and in totally wrong attitudes!

More than ever before, competing “truths” are presented nearly instantaneously—and even live on TV or the Internet. We no longer have the time (or take the time, often enough) to weigh what we see, hear and read, and to “mull things over” or to critically analyze or test what is “fact.”

In this marketplace, the wisdom of old tells us, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). What wonderful advice! But the hard thing is, obviously, identifying the truth in this dizzying array of presentation of truth, half-truths and outright lies!

There is, ultimately, only ONE source of absolute truth. That source is God. Jesus said, “…Your word is truth” (John 17:17). That source can be verified. It can be tested and found to be rock solid. In fact, we are encouraged to “check it out”, as we are told, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It can be proven! The original King James Version even uses the word where it says: “prove” all things!

The word of God, the Bible, declares the truth. Jesus declared the truth, claiming that He IS the truth (John 14:6), that He would give the “spirit of truth to guide us into all the truth” (John 16:13). If we become His disciples (followers), and hold to His teaching, we will “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

Truth is a precious commodity. If we seek Him—and seek to be taught by Him—He will send out His truth, teaching us to walk in it (Psalm 25:5, 42:3, 86:11). We will become “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).

Truth is, indeed, a very precious commodity. Buy it, and don’t sell it! To help you find the truth revealed in the Holy Scripture of God, access our many articles and booklets at the Tomorrow’s World website, all completely free of charge.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/buy-the-truth

Vinegar on Soda

As a child, I remember my first “lesson” in chemistry. Somewhere, I obtained a little plastic boat—it probably came in a box of cereal or Cracker Jacks—into which one could put baking soda and vinegar. The chemical reaction propelled the little boat. Little did I know that this chemical reaction is mentioned in the Bible.

You can do an Internet search and find over 16 million results for “vinegar on soda.” It is a basic lesson in chemistry. Vinegar is an acetic acid, and soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an alkaline. When you mix the two ingredients together, you get a chemical reaction forming carbonic acid, which decomposes into water and carbon dioxide gas. Many extol the uses and virtues of both vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. As a child, I was simply delighted that my little plastic boat was propelled by this chemical reaction.

The Bible uses many analogies, and some involve these substances. For instance, in Proverbs 10:26, it says: “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.” Anyone who has tasted undiluted vinegar has experienced the unpleasant flavor of an acid, with a PH of around 3. Smoke in the eyes is also very unpleasant. And so, a lazy person who is sent to do a job, but who is completely unreliable, is also very irritating.

The Bible gives an analogy about vinegar on soda in Proverbs 25:20. “Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” The International Standard Version translates it: “Taking your coat off when it’s cold or pouring vinegar on soda—that’s what singing songs does to a heavy heart.”

Taking off your coat when it is cold is the exact opposite of what a person should do. You will be cold! Pouring vinegar on soda will make them both neutral (acids and bases cancel each other). So, the vinegar is no longer useful, and neither is the soda. Likewise, a grieving person with a heavy heart needs to grieve and mourn, and they have no use for someone trying to cheer them up by singing songs to them. As stated in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Or, in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it….” There is, indeed, “…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). A person who is mourning needs time to weep and mourn.

So, instead of singing songs and trying to cheer them up, general wisdom says to comfort those with a “heavy heart” by listening with compassion and patience, letting the grieving express their feelings, and not trying to tell them “how” to feel. Much as we would like, we can’t take away their emotional pains or sadness. We just need to “be there for them.”

And though some may even understand there is life and great potential after death, no matter what we go through, we are still human, and we suffer when we experience trials. But, there is also much we can do to help each other stay positive through them.

Each person differs to some degree in how they process a loss or endure some dire circumstance. We can simply ask them what we can do to be there for them and give support as they need it during a time of grief. Simply listening as they express their grief or performing some simple daily task they just cannot handle at the time are probably the best things we can do to help them get through the hardship and emotional pain they are suffering. That will be far more useful than singing songs to try and cheer them up—pouring vinegar on soda.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/vinegar-on-soda