Major Message: Minor Prophets

Major Message: Minor Prophets

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

MAJOR MESSAGES FROM A MINOR PROPHET: AMOS 

Who’s The Prophet?

  • Shepherd and fig tree farmer. 
  • Lived on the border of northern and southern kingdoms 
  • The North was ruled by Jeroboam the 2nd who brought wealth and prosperity to the people 

What Are His predictions?

  • Warning Israel, Judah, Benjamin and all nations of a coming destruction described as “the Day of the Lord.” 

What Was His Purpose?

  • He about the oppression of the poor, sexual immorality, greed, and corrupt government In the Northern kingdom 
  • The wealthy Israelites had become apathetic and spiritually lazy 

SIMPLE CHAPTER BREAKDOWN 

  • 1-2 messages to the nations and Israel 
  • 3-6 poems expressing the message to leaders and people 
  • 7-9 God’s judgment is explained 

SKY HIGH SNAPSHOTS 

  1. The 9 chapter book spends time circling the surrounding nations and pointing out their evil. He starts with the nations furthest away from the people and works his way closer to the target, the Northern tribes.
  2. Amos expresses God’s anger towards Damascus, Gaza, Ammon, Moab, Edom, and even Judah 
  3. Finally, the primary audience is shocked to hear that they (Northern territory) are the source of God’s anger as well 

Top 2 Practical Lessons From The Book 

Our lives will also be lessons for future generations. When they look back they will either say, 

“we ought to live as they did” or 

“we ought not live as they did.” 

PLUGGING IT IN 

“WHAT DOES GOD NEED FROM US?”

  1. God needs more fig tree farmers. He needs community preachers in the form of plumbers, school teachers, electricians, nurses, surveyors, dentists, accountants, mechanics, and engineers. 
  2. We need more preachers. It’s more common than it was, but there’s a great need for gospel preachers in the LORDs church. Amos spoke for God, but he was in the minority.
  3. We need more elders. Great elders are rare. It’s been said and proven to be true, “The church will never outgrow the shadow of her leadership.” 
  4. We need more seriousness. Not more piety, not an immovable allegiance to man’s tradition, more people who take their God seriously. 

Amos in a sentence: 

“Service does not mean salvation if our service is not from the heart.” 

Real faithfulness means worship that is holy— not habitual. He wants committed people, not costume parties. He wants our attention to be placed on our purity, not our performance. 

Let The World Be The World And The Church Be Different

Let The World Be The World And The Church Be Different

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Many of us were startled by an automatic alert sent to our phones last Saturday morning, alerting us of potential violence and danger in our usually serene city. The reason was a planned protest and counterprotest, a racially-charged event centering on a horrible incident that happened almost seventy years ago in another state. Predictably, it stirred up some division and exposed extreme and racially-prejudiced views from some.

The world prefers to keep people divided on the basis of race, gender, political affiliation, and the like, and uses such tools as identity politics (Brittanica defines this as “political or social activity by or on behalf of a racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, or other group, usually undertaken with the goal of rectifying injustices suffered by group members because of differences or conflicts between their particular identity or misconceptions of their particular identity and the dominant identity or identities of a larger society”) and tribal alliances. Subject to human biases, emotions, and subjectivism, easy to misjudge and assume others’ motives and intentions, it becomes a massive roadblock to oneness and unity.

But we would expect no less from the world. Who is the prince and ruler of this world? He is a murderer (John 8:44), a devourer (1 Pet. 5:8), a sinner (1 Jn. 3:8), and a deceiver (2 Co. 11:3,14). Chaos, disorder, and division serve his purposes quite effectively.

In the midst of such mayhem, the Lord has the church in this world to be a beacon and light (Mat. 5:13-16). What an opportunity we have in the midst of the world’s divisiveness to show a people united on the foundation of truth, regardless of our race, background, education level, economic strata, or any other way the world wants to divide us. We won’t compromise the eternal truth of God’s Word, but we will stand together on that even however difficult or unpopular. We will live by 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” We will honor His objective and follow His blueprint to achieve it.

When an onlooking world gets a glimpse of us in action, red, yellow, black, and white, working in love, harmony, and acceptance of one another, they will find an alternative to the world’s hate. When they see the poor esteemed and accepted as much as the well-to-do (Js. 2:1-8), they will see a bright alternative to a cold, status-conscious world. If the church will be the church, we can help the world–one searching person at a time. But the world will always be the world. We should not expect them to show us the way to be one. Their ruler wants chaos. Ours wants peace.

Vicarious Faith

Vicarious Faith

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

David Chang

Joshua, at the end of his life in Joshua chapter 24, summons all the tribes of Israel and their leaders to Shechem. He reminds them of their journey as a nation so far, what all God has done for them since the days of their forefathers, and everything God has done for them from Egypt until that present moment. Starting in verse 14, Joshua calls the people to fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness and to put away the gods beyond the River and of Egypt. 

Joshua issues a challenge to the people, that if it’s evil in their eyes to serve the Lord, to choose that day whom they will serve—whether the gods beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites whose land they conquered. As for Joshua and his house, they will serve the Lord. Israel answers, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods” (v. 17a). They review what they have seen and what they know that God did for them since bringing them out of Egypt. Joshua continues to challenge their response. They respond the same way: “No, but we will serve the Lord” (v. 21). Joshua once again warns them, that by renewing this covenant, they are becoming witnesses against themselves. The words they say are weighty; it is nothing to play around with. The moment they choose God, that decision comes with accountability and responsibilities. Israel answers, “We are witnesses” (v. 22). 

This scene of unity as the entire nation of Israel come together to answer their calling to serve God is incredible. Just imagining all of those people coming together to renew their covenant relationship with God is a chilling image, in a good way. However, the other side of this story, the part that makes this scene a tragic one, is the reality of their eventual disobedience and apostasy. Just a single page after this part of the Bible, we know what begins to take place in Judges. Israel’s continual downfall as they constantly forget their God and stray towards other pagan gods of the peoples they failed to drive out as God commanded them.

Reading this interaction between Joshua and the people of God and knowing what takes place shortly after makes us wonder: how many people in that crowd that day were truly zealous for God?

We do not do faith alone; Christianity was designed by God to be something that we share with each other and with those around us. However, it is also a double-edged sword in that we as participants of this faith journey can mistaken other’s zeal for our own. When things are going well and you see work being done, it is easy for our emotions to get heightened. And there is a sense in which we need to promote that kind of synergy among the members of the Body in all that we do. However, boil it down to the core. At the end of the day, we are accountable for what we do individually. As difficult as it is, we have to constantly challenge ourselves and ask: “Is my faith truly mine? Is this zeal for God that I feel truly my zeal for Him—or is it a momentary passion that I feel vicariously through others?”

It is a dangerous thing, living vicariously through others. Passion in the hands of others does not do much good to us in the long run. The same goes for faith. I wonder just how many people among the number that was present there when the covenant was renewed were truly zealous for God. And I wonder how many in that number was just saying the right things, looking the right way, and just went along with the flow. Feeling the passion and the emotions around them in that moment, mistaking it for their own zeal for God. Living vicariously through others is dangerous for obvious reasons, but it is harmful in that it is deceiving. The deception is that the congregation’s overarching atmosphere, culture, and zeal can replace one’s own true desire for God. Personal zeal for God requires real work, effort, and endurance.

Let us never become a people who lives vicariously through others’ faith. Rather, let us individually be producers and workers for the kingdom, that when we do come together corporately like tonight, the fruits we bear are hundred-fold. 

“Hi-Ho, It’s Off To Work I Go”

“Hi-Ho, It’s Off To Work I Go”

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

The book of Proverbs contains helpful “dos and don’ts” for the gainfully employed working-age child of God.  

Do (For Employees).  

  • Develop the skills that will earn you the notice of your boss or customer base (Proverbs 22.29). 
  • Work diligently to earn a promotion (Proverbs 12.24). 
  • Profit by your industry, not grand schemes that never reach fruition (Proverbs 14.23). 

Do (For Employers). 

  • Be a planner (Proverbs 21.5). 
  • Encourage the input of others (Proverbs 15.22). 
  • Though not micromanaging, be aware of everything happening within your purview (Proverbs 27.23-27). 
  • Champion the rights of your workers (Proverbs 29.7). 
  • Treat your employees so well that they will love you (Proverbs 29.21). 
  • Show your employees what is in it for them to work well (Proverbs 16.26). 

Don’t (For Employees). 

  • Don’t be lazy because you will irritate your employer (Proverbs 10.26). 
  • Don’t be a slacker (Proverbs 18.9). 

Don’t (For Employers). 

  • Don’t be oppressive (Proverbs 28.16a). 

I would be remiss if I did not address the 800-pound gorilla in America’s living room in closing. Our workforce has lost interest in working. Thus, they cannot profit from Solomon’s sage wisdom provided previously. 

It is a biblical expectation that all of God’s children of working age will work for someone else or as their own boss (2 Thessalonians 3.6-12). God is good, sending rain on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5.45), but He only promises Providence to those who seek His kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6.33). Such a person seeking God should be obedient to His commands, including those concerning the necessity of work. Furthermore, even if not for himself, a person should want to care for his family because failure makes him worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5.8).  

In November 2021, the US Chamber of Commerce conducted a poll. 8% of those polled said they would never work again! At the time of publication, more than half of those surveyed said they were not actively looking for work. And this is not a problem for young people. The respondents ranged in age from 25 to 45+. People said they hoped to change industries or were awaiting the allure of a large signing bonus. Despite media reports, theBureau of Labor Statistics shows little has changed.  

It’s anecdotal, but I know of two local businesses that closed because no one showed up. Both were restaurants, even if they were not technically in the same industry (one is fast food and, thus, considered food and beverage, and the other is hospitality industry). I’ve previously discussed this issue in this forum, but it persists. There are still desperate burger joints offering above-minimum-wage pay for a guaranteed 40-hour week, and people aren’t applying. How is this possible? 

These indolent who expect others to look after them cannot expect even God’s children to feel compassion for their self-inflicted plight. As Paul tells us, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3.10 NASB).     

The Local Preacher (Part One)

The Local Preacher (Part One)

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

When taking a look at the book of Acts, many insights can be found about the church. From the Lord’s supper to the appointing of elders, there are many things that can be learned about the Lord’s Church and how it should act. Today there are far too many churches that have left and strayed away from the original design. Since we have one Bible, there should be one church. Out of the many things that can be learned from Acts, one of the most prominent aspects seen is the local preacher in a congregation and how he should behave. 

Today when we look in the denominational world, we see the preachers as a sort of leader in the church. The names given to preachers can sometimes be misleading. But the preacher has a very significant job, and hopefully by the end of this article series we will see that the minister is not too different from the member of the body. He is one that proclaims the word. His main job is to be an example and one who can take the word of God and turn it into something that God’s people can learn, and then apply to their christian walks. By looking at the examples given in Acts about the local preacher, we are able to answer quite a few questions. 

Probably the chapter that contains the majority of these insights is chapter 20, specifically verses 17 through 38. These articles will be an in depth study on this section of Acts, and how it applies to a preacher in a local congregation. 

Acts 20:17, “Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.” Notice that Paul met with the Elders of the church at Ephesus. The word for elder here is the word presbuteros, and we know that this is in reference to those who held the office of elders, and were not just older men. We see this in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6ff. 

To be a successful local preacher it is vital to talk to, and build a relationship with the elders of the congregation. Elders play an extremely vital role in churches, and to be an effective minister we must make sure that there is a healthy relationship between the elders and the preacher. Paul set the example, and now we follow what he has set. It makes sense. The elders are the leaders of the congregation and if the preacher is leading in a way other than what the elders have asked then how will the members react? The preacher must be one that uplifts and submits to the authority of the eldership. Paul was a great man. He had given up so much for the gospel yet even he submits himself under the elders. God knew what He was doing when He designed the church, so it is no wonder that many denominations fall away from the original design, and then run into many issues. 

The local preacher is a member, therefore he must submit to the oversight and leadership of the elders. 

Full Translation Of 1 John

Full Translation Of 1 John

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

It’s existed since the beginning. We’ve heard it ourselves and we’ve seen it with our own eyes. We’ve studied it and touched it with our own hands. This is the word of life, and this life was shown to us. Everything we’ve heard and witnessed and told you about is this eternal life. He came from the father and was revealed to us. We’ve told you everything we’ve seen and heard so you can partner with us. We have this partnership with the father, as well as with his son Jesus Christ. We’re writing this to you to make our joy complete.

The message that we’ve been hearing from him is the same one we’re giving you: God is made of light, and no darkness exists in him whatsoever. If we claim to be partners with him while our lives are defined by walking in darkness, we’re liars and can’t even practice the truth. But if our lives are defined by walking in light, we have partnership with each other. On top of that, the blood of God’s son Jesus gets rid of any and all sins we have!

If someone says they don’t have sin, they’re lying – no truth exists in them. If we admit that we have sin in our lives, he is consistent and morally pure, so he’ll forgive us and get rid of our moral impurity. If someone says they’ve never even sinned, they make God a liar. His word will have nothing to do with them. 

My children, I’m writing all of this to you to help you avoid sin. But when we do sin, we have someone who came from God and who advocates for us: Jesus Christ, the morally perfect one who gets rid of every one of our sins. He doesn’t just take care of our sins, he does the same thing for everyone in the world! 

We can know for sure that we know him if we do what he’s told us. Anyone who claims to know God but doesn’t do what he’s told us is a liar. The truth doesn’t exist in them. If we do what he’s told us to do, the truth is in us and God’s love is, too. That’s how we know we’re with him. If we claim to be with him, we’re obligated to live by the same standard Jesus lived by. 

Loved ones, I’m not giving you a new commandment here. It’s the same one that’s existed since the beginning of time: love each other deeply. You’ve heard this before. It is new in a way, though. The same truth that existed in Jesus now exists in you. Darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining through. 

If someone claims to be in this light but hates their Christian family, they’re actually in darkness. If you love your Christian family, you’re a part of this light. You don’t trip other people in their walk, either. Anyone who hates their spiritual family lives and walks in darkness. They’re lost because the darkness has blinded them. 

Children, I’m writing to you because Jesus forgave your sins. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’ve defeated the evil one. 

Children, I’m writing to you because you’ve always know the father. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’re strong. God’s word lives in you, and has defeated the evil one. 

My loved ones, do not love this world or anything in it. If you love the world, God doesn’t love you! There’s nothing good in this world. Unhealthy sexual desire, materialism, and unhealthy pride are not from God. They’re exclusive to the world, which is disappearing along with everything in it. Anyone who does what God wants, though, will live forever. 

Little children, the end is coming soon. You’ve already heard that enemies of Christ are coming. Well, many of those enemies are already here. That’s how we know the end is coming soon. They left us, but they were never really with us or they would’ve stayed. They showed their true colors when they left. 

But you have been chosen by the holy one, and you know everything you need to know. I’m not writing to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, unlike those who lie. 

Anyone who denies that Jesus is the chosen king is a liar. Anyone who rejects the father and the son is an enemy of Jesus. Anyone who rejects Jesus rejects his father, too. 

But anyone who acknowledges Jesus partners with the father, too! It’s important that you stick to what you’ve heard from the start. If you do, you are partners with the son and the father. Through this message we’ve been promised eternal life. 

I’m writing to you because people are trying to deceive you. He chose you, and that stands – no one needs to teach you anymore about it. When he chose you, you learned everything you needed to know. His choosing you was true, not a deception. Stick with him. Stick with him so that when he comes back, we can have confidence without having to feel ashamed. You know that he’s morally perfect. 

Look into the kind of love the father gave us: we can be called “God’s children,” and we actually are! The rest of the world doesn’t know us, but that’s because they never knew God. 

We are God’s children right now, but we have no information about what we’re going to be in the future. What we do know is this — when it’s made known, we’ll be just like him. We know this because we’ll be able to see him the way he is now! Anyone who has the kind of hope that comes from him is pure, the same way he’s pure. 

Anyone who continuously, consciously sins is anti-law. Sin itself is anti-law. We’ve known that Jesus was revealed to everyone1 so that he could lift away sin, and sin doesn’t exist for you when you’re partners with him. Everyone who sticks with him avoids sin – if you continuously sin, it means you’ve never seen or known him. 

Children, don’t let anyone fool you. If you continually practice moral excellence, you’re as pure as he is. If you continuously practice sin, you’re an ally of satan. He’s been a sinner since the very beginning. 

God’s son was sent here for a specific reason: to destroy satan’s work. Anyone who joins God’s family for real is able to avoid sin. How? His very essence lives in you, so you’re unable to commit sin because you came from God. 

This is how you can tell the difference between God’s family and satan’s family: if they aren’t practicing moral goodness, they aren’t God’s. If they don’t selflessly love their Christian family, they aren’t God’s. 

This is what you’ve heard from the beginning: you should love each other. Don’t be like Cain, he was evil. He slaughtered his own brother. Why would he do that? Because he did evil things, and his brother was morally pure. 

Don’t be surprised, family, if the world hates you. You know you’ve transferred from death to life when you love your Christian family. Those who don’t love their Christian family are still dead. Anyone who hates their Christian family is a murderer — and you know that no murderer lives forever. 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus gave up his own life for everyone. We owe each other our lives, too. Let’s say one of you is living life to the fullest, financially comfortable and stress-free. If you notice that one of your brothers or sisters needs basic necessities and you suppress your feelings of compassion, can God’s love exist in you at all? Children, don’t just say you love each other — prove it by how you treat each other. 

This is how we know we exist in the truth: we can pacify our guilty consciences in front of God whenever our hearts condemn us. God is more powerful than our hearts and he knows everything! Loved ones, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we can be completely confident when we pray to God. If we ask him for something, he’ll give it to us. This is because we do what he’s asked and we listen to his commands. 

These are his commands: believe in his son (Jesus, the king), and selflessly love each other. Everyone who carefully practices those commands is with God, and God is with them. 

This is how you know you’re with him: he gave us his spirit. Loved ones, don’t believe every spirit, but really put them to the test to see if they came from God. You’ll need to test them because a whole lot of fake teachers were sent to the world. 

This is how you know if a spirit came from God: every spirit that comes from God will acknowledge that Jesus was sent to earth as a human. If a spirit refuses to acknowledge this, it isn’t God’s. In fact, it’s the spirit of Jesus’s enemies. You heard that the spirit of Jesus’s enemy was coming — it’s here now. 

Young ones, you are from God and have already beaten these spirits. How? Jesus is far more powerful than his enemies, and he’s with you. These enemies come from the world, so they talk like it — and the world listens to them. But we came from God. If you know God, you’ll listen to us. God’s enemies are the ones who don’t listen to us. This is how you can tell the difference between a legitimate spirit and a fake one.

Loved ones, we should make a habit of showing each other selfless love. This is because love comes from God. Everyone who makes a habit of showing love is part of God’s family. They show that they know God well, too. If someone fails to practice selfless love, they don’t know who God is. God is love. 

This is how we know God loves us: he made it pretty clear when he sent his only son to earth to give us life forever. That was real love — not the same way we love God. No, God loved us so much that he sent his one son for the purpose of taking away all of our sins. Loved ones, since God showed us that kind of love, we owe each other love, too. 

At no point has anyone ever taken a good look at God. But since we love each other, he’s with us. He continues to grow his love in us!  

This is how we know that we’re with him and he’s with us: he gave us his spirit. We were there, we saw firsthand that the father sent his son on a mission to save the world. Whoever agrees that Jesus is actually God’s son is with God, and God is with them. Because we saw him, we came to believe and really understand the kind of selfless love that God has for us. God is love. The one who practices love is with God, and God is with them. 

This love is being matured in us for a reason: so we can be completely confident on the last day when everyone is judged. If we have selfless love, we’re considered to be as pure as Jesus was when he was on earth. Love leaves no room for being afraid. If we mature our love, that love keeps us from being afraid. If we live in fear of judgment day, it’s because we haven’t matured in our love. 

We practice love because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but still hates their Christian family, they’re a liar. How’re you supposed to love a God you can’t see while failing to love a Christian family you can see? It’s not possible. Remember the commands he gave us: we have to love God and love our Christian family, too. 

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the king who came from God should also love everyone who belongs to God. When we love God and practice what he commanded, that’s how we know we love his family, too. We prove that we love God when we do what he’s commanded, and those commands aren’t difficult to live out. 

If you’re a part of God’s family, you’ve already beaten the world. Our faith is how we’ve won — if you believe that Jesus is God’s son, you’ve won against the world already! 

Jesus Christ is the one who came to earth with water and blood — notice that he didn’t just come here through water, but also with his own blood. And the true spirit attested to this, because it’s true. In fact, there are three proofs of who Jesus is: the true spirit, the water, and the blood. All three of these agree with each other. We accept what people say about Jesus when it’s true, but God’s testimony about Jesus is far superior. 

This is what God said: if you keep believing that Jesus is God’s son, you have God’s approval. If you don’t believe God, you make him a liar. It means you never believed what God said about his son. God gave us eternal life, which exists only in his son. If you have his son, you have life. If you don’t have the son, you don’t have life. 

We’re writing this to you so you’ll know you have life forever. This is for those of you who believe the name of God’s son. We can be confident when we talk to God — if we make a request that aligns with his will, he listens to us. We know he listens whenever we ask, and that he’ll give us what we ask for. 

If one of you sees a Christian family member sin (not the kind that causes death), ask God to give them life, and he will. This only applies to the kind of sin that doesn’t cause death. There is a kind of sin that leads to death, and I’m not saying you should pray for someone who commits that kind of sin. Every morally wrong act is sin, but there are sins that don’t lead all the way to death. 

We know that no one in God’s family continues to sin. God’s son personally protects us, and evil can’t affect him at all. We know that we belong to God, but evil controls the whole world. We know that when God’s son came to earth, he gave us the ability to understand the true one. We live in truth through his son, Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and he is life forever. Children, keep each other away from idols. 

The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

John is getting ready to faithfully record more of the incredible (and incredibly bizarre) visions in heaven as Revelation ten begins. However, the text says this, 

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the landand he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” 10.1-4 

This wouldn’t be the first time that partial information is purposefully held back. The book of Daniel is considered to be “Revelation’s relative” and in Daniel 12 we see a similarity. The prophet understands that Israel will be destroyed and, understandably, he would like to know when these things will take place. 

“Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 12.8 

The answers aren’t given and Daniel is left to wonder. The angels goes on to say, 

 “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” 

9-13 

We don’t get to know everything. In fact, we know based on these two accounts that God doesn’t reveal all of the information we’d like to know. We can rest peacefully knowing that God does reveal everything we need to know. For those of us who enjoy a good mystery, there are many to be found within scripture. 

The content shared by the thundering voices in Revelation 10 aren’t revealed in scripture. Perhaps because we don’t need to know these things. Maybe what was being said has already taken place, or maybe the information is beyond our earthly comprehension. God’s Word is a fascinating and incredible collection. It has the ability to save all of us— as well as the tendency to make us scratch our heads. 

Sailors, Subs, Shipwrecks, Sharks, Sinners, And Salvation

Sailors, Subs, Shipwrecks, Sharks, Sinners, And Salvation

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Only 11 survivors outlived him, as he died on November 4, 2019, at the age of 95. When the USS Indianapolis went down in late July, 1945, Art Leenerman was a 21-year-old radarman. After five nights and four days in the Pacific Ocean, where many initial survivors of a catastrophic torpedo attack were eaten by sharks or succumbed to the elements, rescuers arrived. A Dumbo Catalina patrol bomber rescue plane snatched 56 survivors out of the water, thanks to a heroic pilot, Lt. Adrian Marks. Marks’ aircrew saw Leenerman’s “lifeless body in the raft and attached it by a line to the plane. At least they could return his body to his family” (Indianapolis, Vincent and Vladic, 266). They did not want to take up precious space inside the plane and on the wings of the plane, but they did not want to leave him behind. The USS Doyle ultimately raced to the area to pick up survivors, and one by one the survivors were lifted topside from Marks’ plane to the ship.

“The last Indy sailor to be pulled up was Art Leenerman, whose corpse Marks had been towing behind the Dumbo in a raft. Just as the canvas sling crossed Doyle‘s rails, Leenerman sputtered awake, shocking his rescuers. No one was more shocked than Leenerman, who had passed out lost at sea and woke up wrapped in canvas and flying across the fantail of an unknown ship” (270-271).

Sadly, the dead were left behind in many cases, but this choice to bring back Leenerman’s body was life-altering for many. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds inflicted during the sinking and his ordeal in the sea. He married in his 40s, had a son, four grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. But it only happened because someone took interest in him even when he appeared beyond hope.

Every day, we encounter those whom Scripture describes as “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) and “dead in transgressions” (Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13). Struggling in a sea of sin, they need to be rescued–from this present evil age (Gal. 1:4), from the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13), and from the wrath to come (1 Th. 1:10). The idea is of pulling from danger and delivering from peril. Soul-winning depicts such a dramatic mission.

When we take the time and interest to share the gospel, we do something more improbable than Marks and his crew did for Leenerman. We “save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:20). One of the most beautiful things to behold is the transforming power of the gospel. Many of those who went from “death to life” not only survived, but they brought others to safety themselves. Heaven’s shore will be filled with those whom God’s people helped deliver from the deep! 

The USS Indianapolis before its sinking.
It’s Black Friday, Or Is It?

It’s Black Friday, Or Is It?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

We commonly refer to today as “Black Friday.” Though retailers have begun holding sales before the actual day, “Black Friday” retains its significance as the day when most businesses will finally make a profit for the year, moving from being “in the red” (a deficit) to “in the black” (a profit). It never fails to astound me that a nation can go from offering thanks to God for their gifts to enjoying a scuffle over a discounted television in a day. People’s whimsy, however, is hardly unprecedented. Wasn’t Jesus hailed as the Messiah the same week the mob demanded His crucifixion? Humans, admittedly, are inconsistent creatures. 

Some people use the term “Black Friday” to refer to what is also known as “Good Friday,” or the day Jesus bore the world’s sins on the cross. This moniker is because, for a total of three hours, the world was in total darkness. An issue with trying to discern such specifics retroactively is that tradition can often take precedence over Scripture. To pinpoint the year of Jesus’ death in Jerusalem, some have even resorted to using computers and date-calculating software.  

So that I do not fall into the same trap, let me quickly raise a couple of issues that may make a nice and tidy timeline for the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord problematic. In the first place, let me state one undeniable truth. Early on a Sunday morning, the women found the tomb empty (John 20.1). From this one point, we apply Jesus’ words to the evil and (spiritually) adulterous generation seeking a sign: “for just as Jonah was in the stomach of the sea monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Matthew 12.40 NASB). So, Jesus would be in the grave for three days and three nights. 

A Friday crucifixion would not permit three full days and nights. According to religious scholars, a fraction of a day counts as an entire day. How do we know this, though? It turns into a speculative game. As a result, some argue that the Romans crucified Jesus on Wednesday. This alternative is also a possibility. But first, consider another hint. Because they were preparing for a high Sabbath, they had to bury Jesus quickly (John 19.31). That suggests another vote for Friday. Is that correct? What was the last meal Jesus wished to share with His disciples before His crucifixion? It was Passover (Matthew 26.18). Matthew 26.17 states that Jesus sent His disciples ahead to secure a room to eat the Passover meal on the first day of Unleavened Bread. 

A careful reading of the text reveals that everything from the institution of the Lord’s Supper to the death of Jesus occurred on Passover since it occurred between the span of one sunset to the next (e.g., Leviticus 23.32). This coincidence is apropos, given that Jesus was the Lamb of God (John 1.29). Moreover, according to Leviticus 23.5-6, Passover was immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But note Leviticus 23.7. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was a holy convocation on which keepers of Moses’ Law were not supposed to work. In other words, it was a special Sabbath. Aha! 

So, the high Sabbath that led to the quick burial of Jesus was not a typical Saturday Sabbath. This truth creates an intriguing scenario, and the Gospels do provide hints. A regular Sabbath may have fallen after a special Sabbath. Take note of what the Gospels say about women. They went to see where Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus before returning home to prepare spices and perfumes to anoint Him (Luke 23.55-56). These women, according to Luke, kept the Sabbath. But then Mark says something that skeptics say contradicts Luke. After observing the Sabbath, the women purchase spices for Jesus’ anointing (Mark 16.1). But instead of contradiction, it more likely indicates a two-Sabbath week. Whatever the reason, the women could not attend to Jesus’ body as they had hoped until Sunday morning. This day was when they discovered the empty tomb. 

Our conclusion may not please those insisting on specifics, but I believe it allows our Lord’s words to be proven. He spent three days and three nights in the tomb, as He said because that was the sign. It was not an hour or two here and there, coupled with two full days. So, those of you better with math and willing to consult astronomical computer programs can give me a date based on those variables, but until then, we hear the words of Jesus to Thomas Didymus: 

“Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed (John 20.29 NASB). 

“We Are Born Three Times”

“We Are Born Three Times”

Thursday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Jeremiah was a man who faced many challenges and hardships. He was someone who was intimate with failure and let down— but God’s reminder to him is the same for us today. He was designed with a purpose before he was born. 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1.5 

All humans are premeditated in their formation but are born first in the mind of God. That’s something worth thinking about. Our minds are incomprehensible in their complexity and our bodies came stock with a piece of eternity called the “soul.” 

The King of Kings had a hand in every every atom that makes up the body. 

According to ancestry.com

“Your DNA could stretch from the earth to the sun and back ~600 times.” 

Suzanne Bell is a chemist at West Virginia University and she estimates that a 150-pound human body contains about 6.5 octillion (that’s 6,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) atoms.

Jeremiah’s job was to speak on behalf of God to the people of his day. He was created for that purpose. Today our job is the same. A prophet is simply a mouthpiece for God and we were created to be a mouthpiece on behalf of the same God for the people of our day. Since we are fearfully and wonderfully made, according to Psalm 139:13-14, then any purpose other than the one God has given us will fall short every time. Let’s not be the clay that questions the potter.