Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern Review- A Lesson in Courage.

When I was growing up, my favorite cartoon was the Superfriends. In spite of the corny dialogue and unrealistic scenarios that abounded in the show, it taught me the value of pursuing justice and righteousness- of always striving to do the right thing. In recent years this element has been missing in many of the Superhero tales. In Batman, for example, it was difficult to figure out at time if Batman was a hero or villain. In Ironman, Tony stark is essentially a playboy devoid of moral guidance who stumbles into the role of Ironman. The Hulk is an angry man who coincidentally does good deeds.

Last Night I watched Green Lantern. I would rate it among the top three superhero movies ever made. Green Lantern has a moral lesson much needed today. It is the story of Hal Jordan, the man without fear. It is a story of how he found his courage. Hal Jordan became Green Lantern because the ring choose him, seeing in him courage that Jordan didn't know he had. The story of Hal Jordan was of how he faced his fears and overcame them to become a courageous man and the Greatest of the Green Lanterns. He first overcame his fear and then defeated Parallax, which was fear personified.

The lesson of courage is one that is much needed today.

Courage is an essential virtue in living and promoting the gospel. It took courage for the early Christians to face the wrath of Rome, the wrath of persecution of priests and kings throughout history, and the wrath of Communist and Islamist persecutors today. Without this courage, the gospel, with its positive fruits, would not have flourished. This is why the Bible condemns fear so much.

Courage is an essential virtue in gaining and keeping our freedom. It took courage for soldiers to sacrifice their lives to fight the enemies of freedom. It takes courage for citizens to stand up to their own government when it is out of control. When those in power seek to exploit to destroy the freedom of the people, the power they wield to bring harm to those who oppose them can be a frightening thing. It takes courage to risk loss of reputation, confiscation of wealth, imprisonment, and even death. In order to beat the forces of oppression it takes strong convictions. The conviction must be backed by strong faith and enough love for the ideal to risk personal sacrifice to advance it.

The message of courage is desperately needed in the culture of fear that currently dominates. We have a culture of fear because there are many powerful people who have vested motives in keeping people afraid. They use fear to paralyze the populace and persuade the people into surrendering their freedom to them. The greatest enemy of their schemes is a courageous people who will stand up to them at the risk of “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” I suspect that if any of these fear mongers were watching Green Lantern, they were rooting for Parallax. Let us be people of courage to stand up against evil.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Apostasy and Restoration of Israel- A Commentary on Hosea 3-4

Hosea chapters 3-4 begins a prophesy the coming judgment and restoration on Israel and Judah. Ch 3 gives us the summary while 4 gives us some details. We see in these chapters that the ancient Israelites used relativism and spin as means to evade the truth so that they could pursue their selfish desires.

In chapter 3, God commands Hosea to buy back Gomer. She had committed harlotry, left Hosea, and ended up as a slave on the market. The history of Gomer parallels that of Israel. As Gomer left Hosea for a season, ended up in slavery and then was redeemed, so Israel would become dispossessed from the land, the temple, and her King for a season, and then become redeemed. Israel has twice been scattered from the land. The first was under the Babylonians and lasted only 70 years, the second was the Roman occupation. The temple was destroyed in 70 and in 135 most of the Jews were evicted from their land. There was no more Jewish state until 1948. Both times, God restored the Jews to the land He promised them.

Chapter 4 begins by laying out the issues that are the grounds for His judgments. These are developed into three layers: relativism, spin, and party-party. These are intertwined in a systematic rejection of the truth. (Isaiah 59;John 3:18-21; Romans 1:18-32)

We see in verses 1-3, the harbinger of moral relativism. The text reads “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery they break all restraint ” They throw off moral norms by simply taking what they wanted, whether it by money or sex, and then using deception and murder to cover it up. The Ancient Israelites rejected the moral absolutes of God's Word to accommodate their selfish nature.

In verses 4-6, we see the spin cycle in full motion. God admonished no one to rebuke one another “For your people are like those who contend with the priest. ” Because ancient Israel rejected the “knowledge” of absolutes of God's Word (v6), they stumbled “Day” and “night” (vs5), and perished. God was going to reject them. This people's heart were set upon iniquity(vs8) to the degree that they actually fed off of it. The spin, the lies, and the harlotries was practiced by both the leaders and the people.

From verse 11 to the end of the chapter a dark picture is painted of people devoted to debauchery, from spiritual adultery to physical adultery to ritual sex. In verses 16, the Lord gives them over to a reprobate mind. “ He lets them “forage like a lamb in open country ”. He admonishes people to leave Ephraim alone, because he is “joined to idols.”