Is Adam Historical (Part 2)

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For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

1 Timothy 2:13

Last Wednesday (4/24/2013) I wrote about how many evangelicals are reconsidering the historicity of the biblical Adam. I had planned to write about why I consider belief in Adam’s historicity to be essential to the Christian faith. I’ll deal with that issue in two parts. Today I’d like to share why I’m comfortable affirming that Adam was a historical individual, the first and unique man created by God. Later this week I’ll discuss some of the theological implications of rejecting Adam’s historicity.

First, let me be clear that I believe a person can have authentic, saving faith in Jesus Christ while rejecting the historicity of Adam. While I think the issue of how we interpret Genesis 2-3 is vitally important I consider it an “internal” discussion between believers in Christ and not a reason for division. While I may strongly disagree with a brother or sister who rejects that Genesis 2-3 presents a narrative account of actual, historical events I would not reject such a person a non-believer simply on that issue. I am completely convinced that if we consider the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God we must conclude that Adam was a historical figure as described in the Genesis account, but such a belief is not necessary for true salvation.

As I stated in the first article in this series (see here), my belief in the historicity of Adam is based on a number of presuppositions. The first and most central of these is, “I accept the overwhelming evidence (both internal and external) that the Bible represents a trustworthy and supernatural revelation given by an all-powerful, all-knowing God who exists independent of and outside of linear time.” I recognize that since my reasons for accepting Adam’s historicity are based on the testimony of the Bible, my arguments will do little or nothing to convince those who reject the Bible’s authority or trustworthiness. For those of you who affirm the authority and divine origin of the Bible, here are my reasons for accepting Adam as a historical person.

  1. There is nothing in the literary form of Genesis, chapters 2-4 that would cause us to understand it as anything other than a narrative of actual, historical events. The events described (the creation of Adam, Eve, their temptation and fall, their expulsion from Eden, the birth of their children, the first murder, etc.) are given in exactly the same manner as events in other Old Testament narratives whose historicity has been confirmed by modern archaeology. The writer of Genesis (Moses) recorded the events of Genesis 2-4 in the same way he recorded events in the lives of the patriarchs and the Exodus.
  2. Adam is affirmed as a historical person in genealogies in both the old and new testaments (Genesis 5, First Chronicles 1, and Luke 3). Genealogies were of great importance to the Hebrew people, being the primary mechanism for the inheritance of land and their identification as God’s special covenant people. It is extremely unlikely that a “mythical” person would be given a place in a genealogy.
  3. The length of Adam’s life is given in Genesis 5:5. While not impossible, it seems odd that such a concrete fact would be recorded about a mythical person.
  4. God, speaking through the prophet Hosea, refers to Adam and to his sin of rebellion as a historical event. The testimony of this latter Hebrew prophet confirms his understanding of Adam as an historical figure.
  5. Jesus gives every indication of understanding the Genesis account of man’s special creation literally. When challenged by the Pharisees in Matthew 19 on the issue of divorce, He responded, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
  6. The apostle Paul affirmed Adam’s historicity multiple times. In Romans, chapter five, he states that it is through Adam’s sin that death entered into the world. In First Corinthians 15, he affirms that the first man (Adam) was created from the dust of the earth and became a living being. In First Timothy, chapter 2, he refers to Adam who was formed, “before Eve” and was not deceived as she was. There is nothing in any of Paul’s references to Adam to indicate that he understood him to be anything other than who the author Genesis presents him as; the first, uniquely created man.

I think the testimony of scripture, both old and new testaments, is very clear. There is nothing written to indicate or even imply that Adam is either mythical or symbolic. The scriptures present him as the first man and the father of the race of man.

In the next article I’ll conclude with a discussion of theological implications of rejecting the historicity of Adam. Stay tuned…

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Is Adam Historical? (Part 1)

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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)

Last week I was reading a blog post by Peter Enns titled, “Framing the Evangelical Discussion of Adam and Evolution.” Enns was recently asked to present a paper at the northeast regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on his book, “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins.” His blog post of April 8, 2013 gives the major points of his paper, and by extension, his book on Adam and human origins.

I’ve noticed in the last few years a growing number of Christians (laity, clergy, and theologians) who identify themselves as “evangelicals” but are increasingly interested in accepting the theory of evolution and denying the biblical account of Adam and a literal understanding of the first few chapters of Genesis. This represents a radical departure from traditional “evangelicalism” which has historically affirmed both special creation and the historicity of Adam as the first created man. Enns agrees saying, “Already among their [evangelicals'] ranks is a critical mass of thoughtful, yet quiet, people who are eager to find ways to move beyond the current impasse [on the issue of Adam and evolution].”

I am especially troubled by what Enns describes as his starting point for addressing the conflict between evolutionary theory and the historicity of Adam. He writes:

“My starting point for how I handle this issue of Adam is twofold: (1) I accept the overwhelming scientific consensus concerning evolution, and (2) our considerable knowledge of how ancient stories of origins functioned.”

To be honest, everyone’s perspective on any issue is framed by certain presuppositions (i.e. background beliefs). Enns has identified two of his presuppositions (above) that frame his evaluation of the Biblical account of Adam. I reach very different conclusions about the doctrines of special creation, a literal understanding of Genesis, and the historicity of Adam because I begin with completely different presuppositions.  Here are some of them.

  1. I accept the overwhelming evidence (both internal and external) that the Bible represents a trustworthy and supernatural revelation given by an all-powerful, all-knowing God who exists independent of and outside of linear time. God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible is often called “special revelation.”
  2. God has also revealed Himself in creation (sometimes called “natural revelation”).
  3. God cannot lie, as it would violate His very nature (Numbers 23:19).
  4. Since God cannot lie, both of His revelations (the Bible as “special revelation” and creation/nature as “general revelation”) must be in perfect harmony.
  5. Man has developed systems for interpreting and understanding these revelations. Theology is a system designed to interpret special revelation (the Bible) and science is a system designed to interpret general revelation (creation/nature).
  6. Since both of these systems (theology and science) are developed by man, they may lead to conclusions that are incorrect..
  7. Because both of God’s revelations must be in perfect harmony, any apparent conflict between those revelations (the Bible and creation/nature), is the result of a problem in man’s interpretation of those revelations (i.e. either our theology is wrong, or our science is wrong, or both).  God’s revelation in the Bible and creation/nature is never “wrong.” However, only our interpretations of these revelations is frequently wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m by no means calling Peter Enns a fool. I’m particularly conscious of Jesus’ warning in Matthew 5:22 not to do such a thing. I do, however, strongly disagree with his self-stated “starting point” for handling the issue of Adam’s historicity. I think that a critical examination of any topic must begin with, “the fear of the Lord,” which, “is the beginning of knowledge.” Having a fear (awe and reverence) for God necessarily includes having a high regard for His revelation of Himself in the Bible. Therefore, the proper starting point for examining the question of Adam’s historicity is to first determine what the Bible says about it.

On Friday, I’ll discuss why I’m convinced that an acknowledgement of Adam as a historical person is essential to the Christian faith.

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Social Justice and Our First Love

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But Jesus said, “Leave her alone; why berate her for doing a good thing? You always have the poor among you, and they badly need your help, and you can aid them whenever you want to; but I won’t be here much longer.”

Mark 14:6-7 (The Living Bible)

Picture the scene; Jesus is having supper with his disciples at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany. A woman comes into the room with an expensive bottle of perfumed oil which she proceeds to break open and pour onto Jesus’ head. The guests at the table are immediately angry. This foolish woman has “wasted” this valuable resource (other accounts place its value at nearly a year’s wages for a common laborer). Doesn’t she know that this treasure could have been sold and the proceeds used to provide for the poor?

Rather than rebuking her, Jesus rebukes her critics, asserting that what she has done is a “good thing.” I think we can learn much from this story about Jesus’ view of what our priorities should be.

We live in an age when many young Christians are extremely fervent for social causes. They are passionate about promoting social justice, ending slavery, providing for the poor, and easing the struggles of the oppressed and downtrodden in both the inner city and the third world. They reflect attitudes common among their generation, often termed “Millennials” by social scientists. I think that their attitudes toward the poor are laudable and represent a well-deserved rejection of the insular and self-centered mindset common among many Christians in my generation (“Baby Busters”).

However, this story illustrates that while concern for the poor is a good thing, it is not the most important thing; Jesus is! As His disciples, our lives and attitudes should be centered on Him; especially on worshiping and adoring Him as this woman did with her singular act of worship. Our “good works” (like pursing social justice) should be an outgrowth of our love for Jesus, not the central focus of our Christian lives. It is too easy to make even a “good thing” into an idol and God has declared that He will not tolerate the worship of any other god.

Consider Jesus’ warning to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-4;

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

Revelation 2:2-4 (ESV)

This church was doing “good things,” but they had abandoned their first love! We need to be careful that in our zeal for doing “good things” for Jesus that we don’t allow those “works” to become idols that usurp His rightful place in our hearts. Only He is worthy of our worship, devotion, and adoration; not any works of our hands, however good they may be.

Jesus goes on to warn the Ephesian believers;

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

Revelation 2:5 (ESV)

The “works” that Jesus wanted the Ephesian church (and us) to do are not the pursuit of social causes, but simple acts of worship for the Son of God, like those of that anonymous woman at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany.  Then, out of our deep love and devotion for Him, should flow our compassion for the poor among us and our care for them.

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Don’t Despair! God Will Deliver!

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“So Moses told the people what God had said, but they wouldn’t listen anymore because they were too dispirited after the tragic consequences of what he had said before.”

Exodus 6:9 (The Living Bible)

It’s easy to understand why the Hebrews were dispirited. Moses had come to the elders to proclaim the message that God had heard their cries and was going to deliver them from slavery. Not only that, He was going to lead them to the land He had promised to give them – a land flowing with milk and honey.

The next thing they know, they’re forced to gather their own straw to make the same number of bricks (because Pharaoh is so angry with them).

Is it any wonder that when Moses again came and tried to encourage them with God’s promises of deliverance that their response was essentially, “Whatever.”

Either Moses had failed to give them God’s whole message of His plan for Egypt, or the elders of Israel had simply failed to hear the portion they didn’t want to hear. God had not promised an “instant” deliverance from Egypt. He had said to Moses:

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go except under heavy pressure. So I will give him all the pressure he needs! I will destroy Egypt with my miracles and then at last he will let you go.

Exodus 3:19-20

Some Christians (even pastors and evangelists who should know better), in their zeal to see people put their trust in Jesus, have painted a false portrait of the Christian life. They’ve given the impression that if a person places their trust in Jesus and follows Him that the rest of their life will be perfect. God will give them health, wealth, a happy marriage, obedient children, etc., etc., etc.

That’s not what Jesus promised. He didn’t promise an “instant” deliverance from this world and all of its problems and trials. In fact, He warned the disciples that in this world they would experience trials. He said that anyone who wanted to follow Him should first measure the cost of doing so. God’s grace and forgiveness are free and unearned, but following Jesus often comes at a steep cost. It may cost you the very things the false teachers of the “prosperity gospel” promise; your health, wealth, marriage, children, relationships, and even your very life!

So why do we choose to follow Jesus? Because He is the only one who can rescue us! He has promised that even with all the trials and persecution we encounter in this world…

  • He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6)
  • He has overcome the world (John 16:33)
  • He is preparing a place for us in His eternal kingdom (John 14:2)
  • He will return for us (John 14:3)
  • We will live with Him forever in a creation restored to it’s original perfect state. (Revelation 22:1-5)

That is why, even though our lives as Christians may be filled with trials, that we can rejoice – even in the midst of those trials. We, like the apostle Paul, “count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus [our] Lord, for whom [we] have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that [we] may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)

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Rejoicing In The Lord

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I cry to the Lord; I call and call to Him. Oh, that He would listen. I am in deep trouble and I need His help so much. All night long I pray, lifting my hands to heaven, pleading. There can be no joy for me until He acts. I think of God and moan, overwhelmed with longing for His help. I cannot sleep until You act. I am too distressed even to pray!

Psalm 77:1-3 (The Living Bible)

Have you ever felt like this? Too often Christians feel condemned when they find themselves hurting and confused. Maybe it’s because we’ve believed the unbiblical teaching that once we place our faith in Jesus the rest of our life is just one big party. Nothing could be further from the truth! We live in a world that has been horribly damaged by sin and we live with those consequences every day.

But what about Paul’s admonition to, “Rejoice in The Lord always,” in Philippians 4:4?  How do we reconcile the fact that we’re often confronted with trials that leave us bewildered and grieving with the biblical command to rejoice in the Lord always?

It’s by understanding what it means to “Rejoice in the Lord.”

Rejoicing in the Lord does not mean denying the reality of the emotions that we feel when we’re besieged by trials and hurting. It doesn’t mean that we confront our grief and pain with a false stoicism or fake giddiness. We’re not commanded to rejoice in the pain!  We must rejoice in the Lord, not in the trial!

We rejoice in The Lord when we acknowledge that even in the midst of our suffering He is still in control. Our Father cares for us and has always been faithful in comforting us and rescuing us. We rejoice in Him when we remind ourselves of His mercy and grace towards us in the past. That’s exactly what the Psalmist does in verses 11-12 when he says:

“I recall the many miracles He did for me so long ago. Those wonderful deeds are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them.”

Psalm 77:11-12

He goes on to list examples, the better to remind himself of God’s faithfulness in the past:

“When the Red Sea saw you, how it feared! It trembled in its depths… Your road led by a pathway through the sea – a pathway no one knew was there. You led your people along that road, like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.”

Psalm 77:15, 19-20

If you are in pain or distress today, rejoice in the Lord by reminding yourself of His promises. Remember the mighty deeds He has performed for His people in the past. Be comforted in the knowledge that He is the same God today as He was then and will certainly pour out His grace and mercy on you.

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Not Worth A Nickel…

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“Heaven and earth shall disappear, but My words stand sure forever.”

Mark 13:31 (The Living Bible)

A few days ago I wrote about the importance of having an “eternal perspective.” One way we cultivate that perspective is by recognizing that everything around us, even our most prized possessions, is temporary.

My wife and I enjoying going to estate sales. I’m a believer in the adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” To be fair, though, Carol still thinks that many of my “treasures” are still junk!  Even so, we enjoy visiting estate sales, especially on Saturday mornings when all of the items are half off the marked price.

Estate sales are very different from “garage” or “yard” sales. Instead of gathering all of the sale items into one area, everything in the house, garage, etc. is left in its original location. Furniture is arranged in each room. Books are on bookshelves. Clothing is hanging in closets. Kitchen items are in drawers, cabinets, and spread out on countertops. It’s very much like walking into someone’s home for a visit, except everything you see is for sale.

A few years ago, Carol noticed that I was very quiet after visiting a particular estate sale. As we drove home I explained how depressed I’d been at the sale. I was in the basement where several boxes filled with miscellaneous “treasures” were arranged on tables. Each box was marked, “all items 5 cents each.” I vividly remember looking through those boxes and thinking, “There’s nothing in here that I’d pay a nickel for.”

That’s when it hit me…

I suddenly realized that I was wandering through someone’s home, examining what had once been their most prized and treasured possessions, and I couldn’t find anything worth buying, even for a nickel. Then I thought that someday people would be wandering through my house, pawing through boxes of my “treasures” and thinking the same thing – there’s nothing here worth even a nickel.

I left that estate sale with a renewed sense of how foolish we are to invest our time and treasure in acquiring more “things” when the ultimate destiny of those “things” is to crumble into dust. Our concern needs to be for things that are eternal and will persist beyond this life. Jesus challenges us,

“Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. ”

Luke 12:33 (NKJV)

I’m thankful that of all the things I have, the one “thing” that I will carry with me into eternity is God’s Word. Everything else will disappear, but His words will stand sure forever!

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Developing an Eternal Perspective

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It is a wonderful thing to be alive! If a person lives to be very old, let him rejoice in every day of life, but let him also remember that eternity is far longer and that everything down here is futile in comparison. Young man, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it! Do all you want to; take in everything, but realize you must account to God for everything you do.

Ecclesiastes 11:7-9 (The Living Bible)

I’m convinced that the main reason for most of man’s misery is our lack of an eternal perspective. Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon (the Preacher) laments the utter futility of everything he has observed in his life.

  • The wicked are often rewarded in life with riches and abundance, and then lauded by men after their deaths in the very cities where they committed their crimes!.
  • The poor are oppressed and forced to struggle for every mouthful.
  • The fastest do not always win the race.
  • The strongest do not always win the battle.
  • The most skillful are not always famous.
  • The wise are often poor and fools are often rich.
  • The wise and the fool, the rich and the poor, the wicked and the righteous all face the same destiny – death!

In fact, on the surface, Ecclesiastes can be a confusing and depressing book to read. Solomon spent his life searching for happiness and satisfaction by pursing wisdom, folly, riches, sex, gourmet food, and strong drink, only to declare that everything is “vanity” or futility. So much of life seems to be unfair!

We often come to the same conclusion. What is point of striving? Why bother to do what is right? Death comes to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. Shouldn’t we just, “eat, drink, and be merry?”

The ultimate reality is that death is not the end of our lives. We need to live with an eternal perspective. No matter how unfair things appear during our earthly lives, we can be confident that God is a righteous judge. He is the ultimate defender and comforter. We can be confident that He will ultimately set everything right.

No matter what happens to you today, live with an eternal perspective. Remember that this life is just a fleeting moment in the vast stretch of eternity. We must live with eternity in view and strive to please our Heavenly Father above everything else. That’s why Solomon concludes Ecclesiastes with these words:

“Here is my final conclusion: fear God and obey His commandments, for this is the entire duty of man. For God will judge us for everything we do, including every hidden thing, good or bad.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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It’s Not About You! (or me either)

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Then Moses went back to The Lord. “Lord,” he protested, “How can you mistreat your own people like this? Why did you ever send me if you were going to do this to them? Ever since I gave Pharaoh your message, he has only been more and more brutal to them, and you have not delivered them at all!”

Exodus 5:22-23

God had promised Moses that he would be used to deliver Israel from their bondage to the Egyptians. I’m sure he thought it would only take one meeting with Pharaoh, maybe with a brief “staff turns into snake” demonstration, and the next day the people would be leaving Egypt for their new home.

But that’s not the way it turned out.

Pharaoh’s response was to become increasingly cruel to the Israelites, forcing them to produce the same number of bricks but without providing them with straw. As a result, they accusing Moses of making them “a stench” in Pharaoh’s nostrils. Moses, in turn, goes to God and essentially asks, “Why?”  Why isn’t God keeping His promise the way Moses thought He would? Why are things worse for God’s people now than they were before?  Why is all of this happening???

If we’re honest, we’re also pretty quick to ask these questions when God doesn’t act when and how we expect Him to act.  Right?  I know I have.

God responds to Moses:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. ‘I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Exodus 6:1,6-7

Moses and the Israelites were angry and confused because their perspective was wrong. They were viewing their situation only in terms of how if affected them. They forgot that fundamentally it wasn’t about them, it was about God’s glory. God was orchestrating events so that He could demonstrate His power to both the Egyptians and the Israelites; so that He would be glorified and everyone would know that it was Him who had delivered Israel.

When we’re in the midst of a trial we’re often guilty of having the wrong perspective. We focus on how we’re being affected, on our own pain and suffering. We need to shift our focus and look for how God can be glorified in the situation, either by sustaining us through it or delivering us from it. In any case, fundamentally it’s not about us. It’s about God and His glory being demonstrated in the situation..

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Letting Him Be My Defense

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The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

(Psalm 18:2-3)

What is your reaction when you’re falsely accused?  How do you respond when someone has treated you unfairly?

I hope it’s not like me.

I’ve spent many sleepless hours, tossing and turning in the wake of false accusation. When I’m treated unfairly my first response is to defend myself. My mind races with “what-if” and “worst-case” scenarios of what might happen in the days to come. I’ve even been known to mutter curses under my breath and wish the worst on my accusers, fantasizing about how I might confront them and tell them what I think of their baseless claims. It’s amazing what vile poison can rise up in us when our pride is affronted by unjust treatment.

Not exactly the picture of a godly man, is it?

I’m not asking for sympathy. I realize that when I respond this way I am allowing my human nature (my “flesh”) to take control. When I find myself wallowing in self-pity over unfair treatment I should be comforted in the knowledge that my Master, Jesus, was also treated unfairly. Instead of allowing my mind to paint pictures of vengeance on the canvas of my thoughts, I need to practice what the scriptures teach and, “[bring] every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5b) It was He who, “…as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” (Acts 8:32) He promised us that, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

To be more like Jesus; do I dare to reach so high? Perhaps I’ll reach a bit lower and cry out, “Oh, to be more like David.” Except for Jesus, who was more unjustly persecuted than him? He had only done good for Israel, and yet King Saul sought his life. When David played his harp to comfort the tormented king, Saul arose and cast a javelin at David – trying to kill the one who only wanted to serve him. Later, when Saul and his troops hunted David in the wilderness, David refused to lift his hand against the king – even when Saul was helpless before him.

David was content to allow the Lord to be his Defense, his Rock, his Fortress, and Deliverer. He knew that only the Lord could deliver him from his enemies and silence his accusers.

I pray that God would give me a heart filled with compassion for my accusers, the grace to endure unfair treatment, the strength to silence vengeful thoughts, and the courage to refrain from defending myself and allow Him, the righteous judge, to be my defense.

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Praying For Our Leaders

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O God, help the king to judge as you would, and help his son to walk in godliness. Help him to give justice to your people, even to the poor. May the mountains and hills flourish in prosperity because of his good reign. Help him to defend the poor and needy and to crush their oppressors. May the poor and needy revere You constantly, as long as sun and moon continue in the skies! Yes, forever!

Psalm 72:1-5 (The Living Bible)

This psalm, written by King David, looks far beyond his own son Solomon and anticipates the reign of the Messiah; a time when God’s kingdom will be fully established on the the earth. However, as I read it this morning, I was stuck by how this would be an appropriate prayer to offer for our own leaders, especially our president.

I’ve made no secret that I disagree with most of President Obama’s policies. I believe that his stance on many issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, entitlements, etc.) is unbiblical. I did not vote for him in either the 2008 or 2012 election. If the constitution permitted him to run for a third term, I’m confident that I would still cast my vote for the opposing candidate.

However, I’m disturbed by how many Christians are unashamed to move beyond criticizing President Obama’s policies and insult and mock him as a man. Several years ago I was guilty of this myself and The Lord convicted me with this passage of scripture from Exodus 22.

You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people

(Exodus 22:28)

Jesus did not hesitate to rebuke and expose the hypocrisy of the scribes, pharisees, and the temple priesthood, but He never made insulting remarks about the high priest or the Roman emperor. When Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin he apologized for calling the high priest a “whited wall” because he did not know that Ananias was the current high priest (Acts 23:3-5). I think the scriptures are clear that we have no right to curse or insult a ruler of the people, even when they are corrupt (like Ananias) or openly oppressive (like Caesar).

Beyond that, as Christians we are commanded to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us].” (Matthew 5:44). I’m convicted by how often I fail to hold up our regional and national leaders in prayer. I’m quick to criticize them, but less quick to pray for them. I confess that my attitude and actions are unbiblical and demand repentance.

Father, I lift up those You have appointed as leaders over our region, our state, and our nation. I pray that You would draw them to Yourself and fill them with Your wisdom. I pray that You would use them to implement Your will for our country. Help me to faithfully lift them up in prayer and keep me from cursing or insulting them when I disagree with their policies. Thank You that You have permitted me to live in a country where I have the freedom to be engaged in the governing of our nation, but help me to remember that my true citizenship is in Your kingdom, not in any earthly nation.

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