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Some thoughts about the Covid-19 pandemic

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Here are a few observations from Scripture to keep in mind as we seek to respond appropriately, that is, faithfully, to the Coronavirus pandemic.
First, biblical law empowers governing authorities to impose quarantines to protect public health.In ancient Israel, if someone developed a suspicious spot on the skin, he was to be brought before the priest to be examined.If the spot met certain criteria, he was pronounced “clean” and allowed to go his way.If it met certain other criteria—we need not go into the details here—he was “shut up” (quarantined) for seven days and examined again.Depending on his condition, he might be quarantined for another seven days (if there were no changes in the spot), pronounced clean (if the spot was improving), or pronounced unclean (if the spot was growing).In the last case, he was to make his dwelling “outside the camp” for a prolonged, perhaps permanent, quarantine (see Lev. 13:1-46).[1]
The point here is to demonstrate a biblical precedent for a legally…

Idols of our Time

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Thirty years ago, Ted Turner, founder of CNN and the Turner Broadcasting System, declared the Ten Commandments to be outdated.As a substitute he offered the “Ten Voluntary Initiatives” (voluntary initiatives, being less offensive to modern ears.)
During an interview at the time, he cited the second commandment as evidence of the Decalogue’s obsolescence.“No one worships idols anymore,” he said, apparently unaware of the more than a billion Hindus on the planet.
Not being the keenest of Bible students, he was equally unaware of the fact that idolatry comes in many forms besides its most obvious varieties.One needn’t literally bow down before an image carved in wood or stone to be guilty of this primeval sin.The essence of idolatry is to give the first place in our thoughts, affections, and decision-making process to anyone (or anything) other than God.
Not many of us are tempted to worship the gods once revered in ancient Canaanite temples or were thought to inhabit Mt. Olympus, or Oden …

The Joy of a Clear Conscience

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If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? – Genesis 4:7 –
These words, spoken by God to Cain, deal with what may well be the single most profound aspect of human experience – the work of conscience.
Cain and his brother each brought an offering to God, related to his life’s work.Cain was “a tiller of the ground,” and Abel, “a keeper of flocks.” The Lord was pleased with Abel’s offering, but had “no regard” for Cain’s.Why?Because Abel brought his offering in faith and Cain did not (Heb. 11:4).
This difference is intimated in how their respective offerings are described. It is said of Cain, simply, that he “brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.”But concerning Abel, it says he brought the “firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.”This means, as Cassuto explains, that “whilst Abel was concerned to choose the finest thing in his possession, Cain was indifferent.”[1]
Cain held back the best portions for himself and gave the leftovers to God.[2]In so …