The King of Israel

The King of Israel

THE DESTINY OF Jesus Christ was made clear to his mother Mary before he was born. The angel Gabriel appeared to her with a startling message: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:30–33). King David was Mary’s ancestor, who reigned over Israel a thousand years previously. God had made promises to David which are recorded in 1 Chronicles 17 and 2 Samuel 7, and centred on a special descendant: “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your

Religion Causes Wars!

Religion Causes Wars!

“Christianity preaches ‘Love your enemies’—but what about the crusades, inquisitions, persecutions and wars that have been conducted in its name? When you think of all the violence that religion is responsible for, is it any wonder that people turn away from it?” WHAT CAUSES war and conflict? There are many factors, including economic, ethnic, territorial, political, sociological and religious. To simply blame religion and leave it at that is far too simplistic and crude; it is not real analysis and it is not a real answer. To illustrate this, let’s consider two alternatives. Wars sometimes result from differences of political opinion—so should we say ‘politics causes wars’? Does that mean human beings should therefore abandon politics because politics is ‘bad’? Again, wars often result from economics—they are fought over resources such as land, oil, water and so on. So should we say ‘economics causes wars’?  If no one would make

Jesus in the Book of Acts

Jesus in the Book of Acts

This is the tenth and final article in a series in which we examine this fascinating Bible book. You can catch up with the previous articles at www.gladtidingsmagazine.org. JESUS IS THE central figure of Christianity, and he appears throughout the whole of the Bible, both in the Old Testament (as the promised Messiah) and of course in the New Testament which revolves around his life and teaching. The Acts of the Apostles is the account of the activities of the church after Jesus rose from death and ascended to heaven. In Acts Jesus is spoken of by the apostles, and he also speaks to them on occasion. The teaching of the apostles about Jesus is strikingly different from the teaching of many modern churches. The picture of Jesus in the apostles’ speeches is very consistent, from the speech of Peter at Pentecost (Acts 2) to the defences of Paul to

How to Be a Saint

How to Be a Saint

I ONCE KNEW a man who ran a second-hand bookshop. He loved books and would read anything that came into the shop. So when someone brought in a Bible he sat down to read it, even though he was an ardent atheist. Next time he saw me he wanted a word: “Tell me about David.” “King of Israel,” I said. “A great man. The Bible calls him a ‘man after God’s own heart’” (1 Samuel 13:14). “Aha!” he said. “Do you know what David did to Uriah?” (He’d been reading 2 Samuel 11 and 12.) “Seduced the guy’s wife, and then had him killed to cover it up! And you say he was a great man?” I tried to explain how this shows that even someone as great as David can fail and commit a horrible crime, which shows that even the best of us fail at times; that David

Hosea

Hosea

THIS IS A prophecy about God’s love for His people Israel. Through the sad story of his own miserable marriage, Hosea shows his people how they have been like an unfaithful wife in their dealings with God. Israel’s Failure Hosea had to warn Israel, especially the Northern Kingdom termed ‘Ephraim’, that God would punish her because of her disobedience. In this book, several symbols describe Israel’s failure as God’s ‘wife’: •             Her goodness had disappeared—like a ‘morning cloud’ (6:4); •             Like a ‘silly dove’, she had turned first to Assyria, then to Egypt, for help—instead of to God (7:11); •             She had once been like ‘grapes in the wilderness’, when God first took her (9:10); now she had become like a barren fig tree (9:16) (compare Mark 11:13 and Luke 21:29-31); •             She would now have to plough a lone furrow, without God (10:11). Israel, instead

Being Christlike

Being Christlike

TO BE A FOLLOWER of Christ is to try to be like him. In the Apostle Paul’s words, it is to put on Christ like a garment: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). It is to take off your old way of life, and put on a new one. In another of Paul’s letters he says “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts” (Romans 13:14). The Christian is a new person, a ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17), changing their ways of thinking and living to match Christ’s requirements of his disciples. The First Step The Christian life starts with baptism—immersion in water. This is crucial. Paul explains that baptism is a symbollic way of putting our old way of life to death and giving birth to a new way of