Category Archives: Religious Issues

The Birthday Club Ventures to Shipshewana

This fall’s birthday adventure took us all the way down to the golden corn fields of northern Indiana and a little corner of the world where time seems to have stopped about a hundred and fifty years ago!Shipshewana (affectionately called “Shipshe” by the residents) is home to one of America’s thriving communities of Amish folks.  There are about a third of a million Amish people living in the United States now, mostly in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.  They are most easily recognized by their head coverings, simple, modest dress  and style of transportation, which is exclusively horse-drawn carriages. (They will not own—but will ride—on other forms of transportation, such as school buses for the children.) If you want to take a tour of the town, they offer horse-drawn buggy rides!Or, you can eat sitting in a buggy at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in the little burg of Middlebury, which is where the girls took me for wonderful, old-fashioned buffet lunch of great country (and Amish-style) cooking!If you go to northern Indiana’s Amish country, I definitely recommend enjoying some of their excellent food, but come hungry, because you will get very full!  🙂

Besides yummy food, there are all sorts of interesting shops to visit,  so save some time to explore their wonderful assortment of homey craft stores. They’re also famous for their simple but sturdy, hand-crafted furniture. Susan’s youngest daughter married a young man whose mom works in Shipshe, so we stopped by for a visit!I always think of Grand Rapids as having a lot of Christian influence, but for those of us who love Scripture, Shipshewana is a shopper’s paradise!

The focus of the afternoon was a visit to Menno-Hof, a museum of Mennonite and Amish history. Menno-Hoff is a warm combination of personally guided segments of the tour and  state-of-the-art audio-visual explanations.  As I have baptist/brethren roots, I felt a real connection with the “anabaptist” movement that eventually spawned the Mennonite and Amish communities, although it wasn’t clear to me from reading the information at the museum if they believe the Gospel…the wonderful good news of salvation by faith alone through Christ, or if they are somehow depending on their humility, modesty, good works, and self-denial and to qualify them for heaven.  (If you are Amish and read this, please feel free to explain the Amish position to us, will you? Do you believe you are saved by being a faithful disciple, or do you pursue God’s holiness as an expression of gratefulness for his salvation?) We couldn’t do the museum justice in less than an hour or two, and it would have been easy to linger for longer, although the girls had more in store yet!One popular myth about the Amish is that if a farmer has an eligible daughter, he paints his front gate blue, which means young men may come ‘a courting! Although this is apparently not really true, The Blue Gate Restaurant capitalizes on the long-standing fable, and they serve wonderful food…such as you could imagine a mother might serve up to a favored prospective beau for her daughter! It was the  perfect place to stop in for our birthday party, and to experience some of their popular peanut butter, custard, and pumpkin pies. Diet alert for sure!! In all, we had another spectacular day, and I can heartily recommend visiting Shipshe sometime if you’re looking for a quiet, cozy place to relax and reflect.    The Amish folks live plain, simple lives, but everything we saw was pleasant!   Even their public restrooms (like the Blue Gate’s) were clean and beautiful!    And, everywhere we looked, there was something to lift our hearts to God!            So, if you’d like to get away from the frenetic pace of life sometime,          consider an afternoon or weekend retreat in an Amish community!

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Meditating on The Commands of Christ

I know the Ten Commandments were given by God Almighty to Moses during the world’s most awesome mountain top experience, and that orthodox Jews honor 613 Mitzvot (laws derived from the Old Testament), but in the New Testament, did Jesus ever command us to do anything?  I mean, did Jesus ever command anybody to do anything?  I always think of Jesus as perfection incarnate, Immanuel, God with us…full of grace and truth, mercy and humility…the first to forgive and the last to condemn…and that doesn’t seem like someone who would be quick to order people around. But, when I started reading through the New Testament to answer that question, I discovered that there are over 400 accounts of Jesus commanding somebody to do something, and I know that in each history lesson there are spiritual truths God wants us to understand and apply to our own lives today, not because he’s bossy, but because he wants us to be good…to learn how to love the Lord above all else and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Ultimately, obeying the commands (or imperatives, if you’d rather) of Christ will not only bring glory to God but make us happy too. So, I’m embarking on a study to meditate my way through the commands of Christ, which I hope to publish each Sunday, and I hope you will join me. Please, please share your thoughts too, so that this study will be as rich and complete as possible!

Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Rise Up, My Love (306): Of Spices, Mountains, and Endings

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” The bride desires for her husband to be like a young stag and make haste…to what location? “The mountains of spices.” This is the last picture painted for us…the last “snapshot” in the bride’s album…the last poetic rose in the bride’s bouquet…the last lilting melody in this song of all songs.

What are the mountains of spices? We are! I blush to consider that we should be given such a beautiful name, but we must remember that the Song of Solomon was a love song written by Solomon (and our greater than Solomon) for his bride, and “mountains of spices” is the name God chose for his bride to use in describing herself at the end of this book, so let’s consider all that it means and aspire to fulfill this high calling.  The words “mountains” and “spices” are used multiple times earlier in the Song, and these references give the clues we need to understand what the bride is saying. First, let’s consider what the spices represent. From 4:12—16 we learn that the bride is like a protected garden, designed by the master gardener, watered by the Word, filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and whose aroma wafts out like heavenly spices. In 5:1 we find the husband enjoying his garden wife and taking pleasure in the spicy fruits found in her.

In Song of Solomon 5:13 we hear the wife likening her beloved’s beard to a soft bed of spices. Oh, to be able to look into the face of God and with the touch of faith feel the very presence of the fragrant Holy Spirit upon him. The lush physical and spiritual imagery intertwines beautifully to portray the exquisite delights of both physical and spiritual communion. The spices are physically the scents and textures of the wife’s body, but spiritually the spices are the tangible evidences of the Holy Spirit’s fruit developed in our lives, fruits which the Son relishes and which also feeds the souls of others (see 5:1). So, the “spices” are the fruits of the Spirit.

What are the “mountains”? Twice earlier, the word “mountain” has appeared in reference to something other than the bride, and twice earlier the term appears in reference to the bride. In 2:8 the husband comes leaping over the mountains to join his wife and calls her out to enjoy, explore, and reign over his kingdom with him. In 4:8 the king invites his wife to climb to the top of the mountains with him and gain a heavenly perspective. In the first instance, the mountains are huge obstacles which the husband overcomes with ease in order to reach out to his beloved; in the second instance, the husband invites his wife to conquer great things with him so that she will share his passionate vision.  What is a mountain? It is something massive, grand, impressive. Mt. Everest is so big it can reach through the clouds and kiss heaven’s feet. Mountains are spectacular: they fill people with awe and a sense of wonder. Mountains are a force to reckon with…to be conquered by or to conquer. Mountains are immovable apart from the work of God in response to faith. Mountains are majestic. Mountains should humble us and cause us to praise this one whose massive hand is so large that the whole world could fit inside, and Mt. Everest wouldn’t even look as big as a hangnail. What a mighty God we serve!!

Yet, this infinitely great Creator calls us his “mountain of myrrh” in Song 4:6, and the bride invites her beloved to enjoy her as “a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether” in Song 2:17. In this last poetic picture, we see the wife calling her husband to come unto her and enjoy her…no longer upon the mountains of “Bether” (separation), but upon the mountains of spices. She has grown from a garden into a mountain…a mountain of spiritual delights.  Oh, beloved, are we mountains of spiritual delights? Massive. Immovable. Majestic. Abounding. Able to feed the soul of our mate? Notice that the bride, after a timeless length of time, still refers to her husband as a “young stag.” Dear wife, is your passion for your husband as fresh and fervent as it was at the marriage altar? In your heart, is your love still young? Does our longing for our Savior still burn as hotly as it did at first? Though we may have found our true loves (if we have indeed found both a spouse here on earth and our bridegroom in heaven), we must ever seek them still! “Let her be as the loving hind and the pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love” (Proverbs 5:19). As we close the study of this greatest of all love songs, may this picture linger like a sunset in our hearts. May we be like mountains of spices where our beloved spouse can graze with abandon and be always ravished with our love! Amen!

Source List:

Berry, George Ricker, Ph.D. The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.

Brown, Francis, D.D., D. Litt. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1997.

Carr, G. Lloyd. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984.

Chapman, Gary D. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1995.

Cowman, L.B. Streams in the Desert. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.

Criswell, W.A., ed. Criswell Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979.

Davidson, Francis. The New Bible Commentary. Great Britain: Billing and Sons Ltd., Guildford and Esher, 1953.

Delitzsch, Franz. Commentary of the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950.

Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. V. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1991.

Glickman, Craig S. A Song for Lovers. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1976.

Gordis, R. The Song of Songs and Lamentations. KTAV, 1974.

Green, Jay P., ed. The Interlinear Hebrew-Aramaic Old Testament. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985.

Grolier Inc. The Encyclopedia Americana. . Danbury: Grolier Inc., 1995.

Guyon, Jeanne. The Song of the Bride. Auburn: The Seed Sowers, 1990

Harley, Willard F., Jr. His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-proof Marriage. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse/Revell Audio, 1995.

Henry. Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. McLean: MacDonald Publishing Co., 1706. (Can’t find current date)

Hirshberg, Arabic Etymologies. VT 11, 1961.

Hocking, David and Carole. Romantic Lovers: The Intimate Marriage. Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, OR. 1986.

Ironside, Harry A. Addresses on The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1973.

Lockyer, Dr. Herbert. Love Is Better Than Wine. Harrison: New Leaf Press, 1981.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997.

MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

McPhee, L.M. The Romance of the Ages. Grand Rapids: Gospel Folio Press, 1939.

Murphy, Roland. Toward a Commentary on the Song of Songs. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 39, 1977, pp. 441.

Nee, Watchman. Song of Songs. Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1965.

Origen. The Song of Songs Commentary and Homilies. Translated and annotated by R.P. Lawson. Vol. 26 of Ancient Christian Writers, edited by Johannes Quasten, S.T.D. and Joseph C. Plumpe, Ph.D. Westminister, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1957.

Patterson, Paige. Song of Solomon. Chicago: Moody, 1986. Phillips, John. Exploring The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1987.

Richmond, Gary. A View from the Zoo. Waco, Texas: Word Book Publisher, 1987.

Smalley, Gary. Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships, Seminar, 1993

Spence, H.D.M., and Joseph S. Exell. The Pulpit Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950.

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Morning and Evening. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. The Most Holy Place. Pasadena: Pilgrim Pub., 1974.

Taylor, J. Hudson. Union and Communion. Edinburgh: R. and R. Clark, Limited, 1929.

Tenney, Merrill C., ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977.

The American Heritage Dictionary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.

The Encyclopedia Americana. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc., 1995.

The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book—Childcraft International, Inc., 1980.

Torrey, R.A. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. New Kensington: Witaker House, 1996.

Trent, John. Love for All Seasons. Chicago: Moody Press, 1996.

Truth and Praise, Inc. Hymns of Worship and Remembrance. Belle Chasse, LA: Truth and Praise Inc., 1950.

Webster, Noah. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language: College Edition. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1966.

Wilson, William. Old Testament Word Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978.

Young, Robert, LL.D. Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Zlotowitz, Meir, and Scherman, Nosson. Shir HaShirim. New York: Mesorah, 1977.  

“This dwarfish age is not likely to esteem this book [The Song of Solomon] as it ought to be esteemed; only those who have lived near to Jesus, have drunk out of his cup, have eaten his flesh and drunk his blood, only those who know the fullness of the word ‘communion,’ can sit down to this book with delight and pleasure; and to such men these words are as wafers made with honey, manna, angels’ food: every sentence is like gold, and every word is like much fine gold.” —Joseph Iron, quoted by Spurgeon in, The Most Holy Place, p. 295.

Afterword: I would be happy to hear your response and welcome any insights or comments! Thank you, and God bless you as you continue to pursue our heavenly bridegroom!

CITYFEST: Let’s Remember!

Grand Rapids’ Ah-Nab-Awen Park was overflowing with thousands of Christians and seekers in search of fun and spiritual life this past weekend.  Some 450 churches and Christian organizations worked together to provide a weekend festival of family-friendly activities and entertainment, carnival-style booths with food (for sale) and lots of (free) information,  worship music, and great messages by Luis and Andrew Palau.  Alan and I came in time to see some incredibly daring stunt riders  doing flips and flights on their motorbikes. Over the course of the weekend, there were about a dozen famous Christian singers and bands sharing music and great stories of faith from their lives.

The high point for me was hearing the message by Andrew Palau, the son of evangelist Luis Palau. Andrew said that until he was 27, he ran away from God and tried to deny His existence, although the net effect was to become a frustrated, unhappy alcoholic. I’m not sure the circumstances of his conversion, but he shared that later he and his entire family were in a plane crash where an American Airlines jet broke into 3 pieces on a beach in Jamaica. Everyone survived, but from that day on, he realized the uncertainty of life, the certainty of death, and the importance of sharing the fact that God offers eternal life to everyone who will put their trust in Jesus. At the end, there was an invitation for people to join in a prayer of repentance and confession, and a sea of lights twinkled on when the opportunity was given to express a need for God’s help. It was a beautiful weekend, and an unforgettable evening, and I’d like to ask for Christians to continue praying for everyone who came to Christ that night.If you didn’t happen to be in Grand Rapids last weekend or make it to CITYFEST but are interested in hearing the message on “How to Get to Heaven” or would like reading materials to help you grow in your faith, you can access these resources here:

https://www.palau.org/

Also, I was also happy to hear that a movie is coming out next month (October) about the life of Luis Palau, who—as a little boy in Argentina—came to faith and has spent a lifetime sharing his joy in the Lord around the world. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s the link to the movie:

https://www.palauthemovie.com/

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:30-31

Would you like to become a Christian? If so, just ask! Pray something like this:

Dear God,

Thank you for loving me so much that you sent Christ to die for my sins, and the sins of everyone in the world. Thank you for the promise that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as their savior from sin will not perish but will have everlasting life. I know that I have sinned and broken your laws many, many times. I believe that Jesus died in my place, to pay for my sins, and that you will forgive me based on what Jesus has done for me. I give my life to Jesus, asking him to become not only my savior but my lord. I gratefully accept the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ. Thank you! Thank you for loving me and forgiving me. Thank you also for the precious gift of your Holy Spirit to guide me into all righteousness and goodness. Thank you for the Bible to teach me your truths. Help me to pray, to read your Word, the Bible, and to find other believers so that we can encourage each other in our faith. I love you! Amen.

 

Learning to Focus at Church

Did you enjoy your Labor Day break? Are you ready for all the activities of fall?
I love this super short video! My friend (Jane A.) posted it on her Face Book page a while back, but I want my blog friends who aren’t on FB to be able to see it too. Such good advice! If you don’t have a church home at this point, this fall might be the perfect time to start going again. Growth, healing, and love are done best in community…even though no community is perfect!

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

P.S.—If you don’t have a church home and live in the Grand Rapids area, I’d love to have you visit our church, Calvary (on the Beltline). Let me know, and Alan and I can meet you there and introduce you to our Sunday school class if you have time! In big churches, being part of some smaller group—like a Sunday school class, the choir, or a life group—really helps a person feel a sense of belonging.

What Do You Think of the Viceroy’s House?

Some movies I hear about and await with eager anticipation until they hit the video stores, but sometimes there’s a gem out there that nobody seems to have ever heard of, and I thought Viceroy’s House was going to be one of the latter!  I discovered it at Family Video and rented it because it was listed as a biography, which I especially love! The movie was a highly moving account of Lord Mountbatten, the English viceroy sent to help India with the transition from British rule to independence.

Viceroy’s House stars Hugh Bonneville (of Downton Abbey fame) and was based on the books Freedom at Midnight and The Shadow of the Great Game—The Untold Story of Partition (neither of which I’d read).  It was directed by Gurinder Chadha, an Indian woman who lost family members during the terrible conflict surrounding the partition (2017, not rated but I would give it a “PG”), so I assumed the depiction was fairly accurate.  Until! Until I got home and started researching the movie for this review. One of the harshest criticisms came from an article published in “The Churchill Project” by Hillsdale College, which happens to be a Michigan school with a reputation for scholarship that I admire.  According to the author, Andrew Roberts, “In one way, it is rather like a Downton Abbey of the East, with plenty of below-stairs intrigue—the palace had more than 500 servants—and Hugh Bonneville (who played the liege of Downton) portraying Viceroy Mountbatten alongside a crisp-accented Gillian Anderson as his Vicereine, Edwina.” “When the film concentrates on the melodrama of a handsome new Hindu manservant falling for a beautiful Muslim girl, it combines Bollywood romance with a good deal of period character.”  “But whenever it gets involved in partition politics, it is historically and politically repugnant, promoting conspiracy theories and peddling vile falsehoods.” Roberts goes on to set the political record straight according to his research, which completely convicts rather than exonerates Mountbatten.  Roberts goes even further than the movie in citing gory details of horrifying viciousness and atrocities between the Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus, which makes me understand better how moderate Hindus today in India (at least according to our tour guide last fall) will marry Christians but not Muslims.  After a lot of study and thought, I was not only appalled by what I read, it made me keenly aware how easily I can be misled into believing something that is political fiction when mingled with facts. To me, this is most critical spiritually, where the world has become full of people who tout religious falsehoods as truth…and take in billions of people!

Do you have a source for spiritual truth? I believe the Bible is the only reliable resource for teaching true spiritual realities for many reasons, but perhaps the most important are: 1. When you study the life of Christ, he truly was morally good and wise. (Compare him to the historical biographies of other religious leaders. What did they teach? What did they approve? How did they actually live? Some were really awful! There were a few outstanding religious leaders out there, but no other who was without sin and blameless.) 2. Jesus, unlike every other religious leader, rose from the dead. He alone claims that He can grant us eternal life based on faith in His death to pay for our sins and His resurrection. Therefore, I choose to follow Jesus and believe that He speaks the truth, regardless of what others write or say about him today! How about you?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).

“The number who died in the appalling violence following India’s independence and its partition is still disputed, but most historians believe it was a million civilians or more. What is not in doubt is that they died in the most horrifying circumstances. Arson, torture, mass rape, desecration of temples and indiscriminate murder were commonplace after the Indian Empire was divided in 1947 along religious lines into two separate nations, India (mostly Sikh and Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim).

“As many as 12 million people were uprooted in the largest human migration in history, as civilians found themselves on the wrong side of the new border and traveled to their new nation state, often encountering—and butchering—those of different religious persuasions heading in the opposite direction. The bloodbath followed a nationalist struggle that had lasted for decades and will forever remain a dark stain on Britain’s colonial legacy, with accusation and counter-accusation being thrown over the question of responsibility” (Andrew Roberts, https://winstonchurchill.hillsdale.edu/fake-history-viceroys-house/(All photos from the movie, Viceroy’s House. In all fairness,  I believe it was the intention of the director to make the public aware of this horrifying historical event, although it appears that her political viewpoint may be quite skewed.)

 

Have You Considered the Relationship Between Israel, the Church, and the Middle East?

Published just in time to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary, Darrel L. Bock and Mitch Glaser have collaborated as editors on a book explaining the current conflict in the Middle East from a biblical viewpoint. Written by theologians on both sides of the Atlantic in meticulously researched articles, the book walks us through the conflict step by step, explaining not only the historical background but the present situation and future prophetic promises concerning the role of Israel in the world: “God always intended to use the Jewish people as his bridge of redemption to a sinful and broken world” (Dr. Darrell Bock, 262).

As an evangelical Christian, I have always believed the Old Testament teaching that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance. What I didn’t realize is that I am part of the 82% of white evangelicals who hold this position, but according to a Pew Research Center poll, less than half that many Jewish or Catholic Americans agree (187). I was a little amazed, but then it occurred to me that if you don’t believe the Bible, then of course you wouldn’t have any particular basis for believing the Jewish people have any right to an independent nation of their own. However, as recently as 2017, the FBI reported that Jewish people are subjected to more hate crimes than any other religious group in America, and the statistics aren’t much different in Europe (197). Even for those who don’t believe the Jewish people have a “right” to the land,  doesn’t it seem good that every group of moral, law-abiding people deserves to have a haven of refuge where they can “secure domestic tranquility,” just as we have in America?

I loved this quote from an AIPAC document, pointing out the shared values between America and Israel: “Both nations were founded by refugees seeking political and religious freedom. Both were forced to fight for independence against foreign powers. Both have absorbed waves of immigrants seeking political freedom and economic well-being. And, both have evolved into democracies that respect the rule of law, the will of voters and the rights of minorities.” Perhaps these common values are shared by many nations around the world, but I deeply appreciate being able to live in a land that enjoys democratic rule “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and I am thankful for other countries that provide similar freedoms. As far as I know, Israel is probably the truest democracy in the Middle East. Would you agree?

Finally, the book is written from the perspective of God’s love for all, and I’d like to end with Mark Bailey’s conclusion: “If one is not careful, one will look through the colored lens of politics and end up despising either the Arabs or the Jews, or both. A proper gaze through a biblical lens will engender a genuine love for Palestinians, Arabs, Israelis, and Jews alike as people created in the image of God, the object of his love, and all viable candidates to receive the love of Christ through our proclamation of the Gospel message” (201).

By the way, if you’ve never read the Bible, and wonder why anybody thinks Israel “deserves” their own state, here are a few passages about God’s giving the land of Canaan (present day Israel) to Abraham (the “Father” of modern Jewish people).

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee” (Genesis 13:14-17).

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

Of course, Muslims and Jews both descended from Abraham, and this is part of the problem. I’m not sure if the Koran has anything to say about which land belongs to whom, but in the Bible, a distinction is made between Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael (via Hagar, progenitor of the Muslims) and Isaac (via Abraham’s wife, Sarah, progenitor of the Jews):

 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year” (Genesis 17:15-21).