Entitlement Extreme!

The USA just cut all funding to UNRWA.  BBC news (1.Sept.2018) carried this headline: “Palestinians brand US aid cut to UN group ‘a flagrant assault’.”

An “assault”?!  What?!  Behind this comment I see an entitlement mentality that is very deep rooted in their society.  Why do the Palestinians feel that we have to support them?

And, as long as I’m asking a couple questions, here are a couple more.

Why is there a UN group (UNRWA) devoted to a refugee group of a single people, while all other refugees in the world are handled by a different UN group?

Why is UNRWA still around, and continuing to expand its own charter to include more and more Palestinians?

Why is UNRWA still active in the West Bank and Gaza when both those areas are independent Palestinian controlled and run areas?

Okay, just so you know, UNRWA is an UN group devoted solely to helping Palestinian refugees.  It began formal operations on 1 May 1950, not quite two years after the surrounding Arab countries invaded the newly formed Israel (also formed by UN mandate).

Now I don’t disagree that the Palestinians need help, I just question what is really going on?  There is something really fishy (to use some slang) going on.  The above questions point out some of this, and the Palestinians suggestion that we (the USA) somehow ‘owe’ them support is beyond understanding.

The comment from the Palestinian leaders is consistent with the type of language they use to fire up the media to champion their cause.  The phrase ‘a flagrant assault’ is an emotionally laden phrase that immediately puts most people on their side.  (So why does the media fall for this and use such tactics themselves when they champion a cause?) Such emotionalism is usually used to provide a smoke screen over what is really going on.

Personally, I find UNRWA as being counter productive.  There doesn’t seem to be any impetus for any of the surrounding Arab countries to absorb the Palestinians (actually, a couple countries blatantly said ‘no’) even though this is the norm for refugees from other areas.  Neither is there any impetus for either the rulers of Gaza or the West Bank to set up and run a decent infrastructure as they receive so much international aid.

Yes, there is a problem.  But the problem isn’t that the refugees exist and how can they be brought back to ‘their’ land; the problem is why are there still Palestinian refugees and why are they being used as pawns in the push to drive all Jews into the sea?

This is a hot topic among many so I hope to see other’s commenting!

  • Yosef

 

Headlines: Scallop wars! and Deuteronomy 19

A recent headline on the BBC news site (from 29.August.2018) read, “Scallop war: French and British boats clash in Channel.”  Two things may come to mind when reading this.  First, what are scallops?  And second, why does this matter?

Scallops are a type of clam, and many claim they are delicious and healthy.  (Personally, I don’t see how the delicious and healthy claim can be true.)

Does this matter?  Well, yes, on a couple different levels.

The French basically chased the Brits out of a prime scallop fishing ground, claiming that the Brits were decimating the scallop fields.  Such economic crises have started wars.  But that is not my point.

Legally, the Brits weren’t doing anything wrong.  Not according to agreements between France and Britain that pertained to scallop harvesting.  Yet the French were upset, likely due to their decreasing harvests.  So, does the Bible give us, as followers of Yeshua (Jesus), any guidance about how to deal with this situation?

Actually, yes, God does have some instruction.

In the later chapters of the book of Deuteronomy we find this injunction:

“You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark” Deuteronomy 19:14 (ESV).

This may not be a case of moving a physical boundary, but the issue was over when in time that the Brits would be allowed to harvest.  A time boundary.

Yes, God wants us to respect our neighbor’s possessions.  The 10 statements (10 commandments) also covers this: ‘Do not covet’.  And the well known injunction, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ also covers this.

Another response from followers of Yeshua (Jesus) should be one of, “Yuch! Who wants to eat scallops!”.  Okay, so that is a bit exaggerated, but God does tell us to only eat things from the seas that have fins and scales.  Scallops have neither, so should be left alone to do the job in the sea that God created them to do.

Inevitably, when the topic of restricting what one eats comes up, people will point to Peter’s vision (in the book of Acts, chapter 10) and say, “see, we can eat whatever we want.”

Two quick comments about that.  First, note that this vision occurred years after Yeshua (Jesus) was raised from the dead.  If Yeshua had called all things clean during his ministry, and this vision was restating that point, then I find it interesting that those words of Yeshua had been completely missed by Peter (and the rest of the apostles) for years.  If this is something new that God is telling us through Peter, I’m a bit skeptical for I don’t see God giving commands through one person’s visions anywhere else in the Bible.  (One person’s visions dictating doctrine reminds me of how both Mormonism and Islam started).  If I’m wrong, let me know.  Doesn’t mean He can’t; just that I’m skeptical about it.  And besides, neither Peter nor the Jerusalem church’s elders thought the vision pertained to food (read further in the book of Acts).

So, though God gave ‘all things for food’, we are called to walk in a holy manner (set apart manner).  Let them eat their scallops.  We won’t.  And if it comes to a labor dispute, before joining in, remember that God does not want us to “move our neighbor’s boundary” or covet anything of our neighbors.  This doesn’t apply just to physical things.

Be holy as He is holy.

  • Yosef

Changing Words; Changing Ways; Changing God…

A recent article in the BBC news is about body scanners being used in some Los Angeles (USA) subways.  Subway officials apparently touted the new scanners as ‘voluntary,’  but those refusing to go through the scanner won’t be allowed on the subway.

I don’t know about you, but to me that is a complete changing of the meaning of the word ‘voluntary.’  It has been made into its exact opposite: ‘required.’

This isn’t the only example of words having their meanings drastically changed recently.  It’s happening somewhat frequently, especially by special interest groups wanting to spread their philosophy of life and its rampantly done in politics.

Isaiah 5:20 states, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, …” (ESV).

So what should believers in God and followers of Yeshua (Jesus) do about this?

First, learn to recognize when, where and how this is happening.  Then learn the truth.

Why, you ask?  Because, over time, the new definition of word will become the accepted norm, even when it is against God’s word, or at the expense of a group of people.

Take the onslaught against Israel as an example.

Israel is called ‘apartheid’, yet nowhere in Israel’s laws or culture do you find a people group discriminated against.  That is what ‘apartheid’ means, such as what one had in S. Africa where it was encoded into law that one group of people was lower then another.  We all know that ‘apartheid’ is bad, so when a group accuses Israel as being an apartheid state because of the Palestinian situation, you, as a reader, immediately associate a negative thought with Israel even if there is no truth to it.  (If you want to claim that Israel is an apartheid state because of the lot the Palestinians are in, you desperately need to read about real apartheid, such as what was happening in S. Africa some decades ago.  That was apartheid.  And also about the history of the Palestinians.)

Another example is how we redefine words in the Bible to fit what we want to hear.

Paul writes, in a negative fashion, about people observing different days, seasons and years.  A typical reader, who has heard and is perhaps even knowledgeable in Christian theology, will immediately associate this reference as Paul speaking against observing God’s sabbath or feast days.  ‘Days, seasons and years’ is changed to “Sabbath, feasts, and other ‘Jewish’ observances.”  The whole context of who the letter is being written to, Paul’s beliefs, and Paul’s actions is completely ignored.  The letter is written (mostly) to Gentiles, and the Gentile world back then was full of all sorts of observances of days and times and season.  That was a normal part of gentile life!  And Paul himself is seen observing both the Sabbath and some feast days in the book of Acts!  If he really meant to speak negatively about those things, then he disqualifies himself as someone to be listened to.

Lastly there is Yeshua’s use of the word ‘food’ in the gospel of Mark, where it is written, “…by this he declared all food clean.”  Ignored is the immediate context of what is being written about.  Ignored is also the fact that Jews back then weren’t sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for someone to tell them that pork was to be eaten!  They didn’t even consider it food, just as I don’t consider worms, ants, or insects as food even though others do.  When someone says ‘food’ to me, I don’t start thinking about those things at all.  Not even a smidgen.

In the same way, when the word ‘food’ was mentioned to the ancient Jews, their thoughts were about those things they considered food (which were those things God called clean)!  They would have immediately understood that Yeshua (Jesus) was stating that the washing of hands before eating had no impact on whether a food was clean or not clean, as the Pharisees were claiming.

So, be it in every day life, politics, or reading our Bibles, be aware of changing what words mean!

Shalom,

  • Yosef

 

Free to Say Anything We Want!?

The media is full of news about people using words to hurt.  Trump haters and Trump supporters both vociferously attack one another.  People are taken to court over using a word or phrase others don’t like.  Political correctness is being imposed by those that want it.  How is a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) supposed to respond to this?

Well, first of all, we need to realize that “freedom of speech” is not a Biblical concept.  Not at all.   Rather, we are told to:

  • Don’t bear false witness (don’t lie about others; don’t repeat gossip; don’t disparage another’s reputation; don’t exaggerate when bearing witness to another’s failings).  See Exodus 20:16.
  • Don’t mention other gods.  See Exodus 23:13.
  • Don’t call anyone a fool.   See Matthew 5:22 – spoken by Yeshua (Jesus).
  • Encourage one another.   See 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
  • Only talk in an edifying manner.  See Colossians 4:6.

In this we can see that as people of God, we don’t have ‘freedom of speech.’  Rather, we are told to control our speech and words in all circumstances.  In this way we show ourselves to be full of the Holy Spirit and to be written in His “Book of Life.”

This doesn’t mean that we can’t share opinions, if done correctly.  Discussing differing opinions, be that in life, politics, or religion, sharpens our understanding and often shows us where we may be wrong.

It is when we ignore the above that things happen like what has happened in the last few weeks: tempers flaring and violence, such as: a teenager had his ‘pro Trump’ cap ripped off his head (and the perpetrator isn’t even charged with assault); another teenager is reprimanded for having a ‘pro Trump’ T-shirt on in school (not in violation of the dress code); a known charity personage has to resign because of a misunderstood comment about burkas.  (By the way, I use these examples because they are fairly recent, not because I’m trying to make a political point.)

True freedom comes from walking in God’s ways, and His way is to use encouraging speech!  And doing so also shows love to one another.

So, watch your tongue, and encourage one another in Messiah Yeshua!

Shalom,

  • Yosef

Breaking News: Kosher Slaughter Outlawed!

Okay, so that isn’t an actual headline; at least not for this country (USA).  However, this is a headline that has appeared in several different forms in different European countries in the very recent past.  In fact, kosher slaughter was just in the news in regards to Austria wanting to require Jews to register before they can purchase Kosher meat (and also requiring Muslims to register before purchasing halal meat.)

What is ‘kosher’?  The word ‘kosher’ doesn’t actually appear in the Bible.  It refers to meat that has been raised and processed in accord with all Biblical (and traditional) commands.  God gives us a list of ‘clean’ animals to eat in the Bible.  These lists form the backbone of what ‘kosher’ is.

The root of the argument against allowing ‘kosher’ meat slaughter is the actual method of killing the animal.  Kosher requires the slitting of the throat with a very sharp knife.  Most nations, however, require the animal to first be ‘stunned’, usually by firing a large metal object into the animal’s brain, and then butchering it.  Those arguing against kosher say that kosher slaughter is inhumane.  Odd; – no animal ever survives kosher slaughter, yet it can and does occur that animals survive and are still conscious after being ‘stunned’.  However, I digress from the point I want to make.

Throughout history nations have started attacking the Jews by attacking the practices of not eating pork; circumcision; and kosher slaughtering (in old times, the normal practice was to slit an animals throat, but kosher requires a certain disposal of the blood whereas the nations use the blood).  The attacks on these practices have always been harbingers of full scale antisemitism to come.

Also, in Europe, as well as in this nation, the attack against the practice of circumcision is full blown.  (I remember many years ago when my oldest son was born.  There was no synagogue around, so we asked the hospital to circumcise our son.  This was in Germany.  I remember coming to visit my wife that evening after she saw the doctor.  She was basically in tears because of the way the doctor treated her, because ‘how could she request such a barbaric procedure!’  – I must admit, after I saw how the doctors did the procedure, I actually agree – what they did was barbaric!  As opposed to our second son who was circumcised by a Mohel (professional Jewish person who does circumcisions).  It was quick, clean, and not traumatic as it was when the doctors did it.)

Why should this concern Christians?  Aside from the point that nowhere in scripture is the command to eat Biblically clean rescinded, such attacks against Judaism are only the start.  Next is the attacks on Christianity… Oh, wait, that has already started!  If you haven’t noticed such attacks in the news over the last many years, then this post won’t help you.

So, wake up all!  Attacks against the Judeo-Christian belief are in full swing and only going to get worse.  Decide what you believe (hopefully according to God’s Word) and stand up for it!  And pray for others that we may all stand with Yeshua (Jesus) when trials come.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15 (ESV)

“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”  Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

And be thankful for all things, including that we live in a time where we have the Word of God; can blog about His Word; and can send help to others around the world easily.

  • Yosef