It’s all your fault!

man in shop with wine bottle

The little man at the off licence was to blame for all the world’s evils according to a 1975 comedy sketch on the BBC’s “Rutland Weekend Television”. So he was arrested and taken to court, where he was charged with “fascism, racial prejudice, Any Questions, crime in society and the unfair distribution of wealth.” Despite his protestations of innocence he was taken away and hanged. The sketch was only humorous because it was so absurd. There was no way the owner of one small shop could ever be the cause of the world’s most intractable problems.

Yet it has become fashionable to blame one small country for all the world’s ills. Yesterday hundreds of anti-Israel activists mostly from Europe attempted to fly to Israel to protest. Those that made it were presented with a letter by the Israeli foreign ministry thanking them for their efforts. It read:

Dear activist,

We appreciate your choosing to make Israel the object of your humanitarian concerns. We know there were many other worthy choices.

You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime’s daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives.

You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world.

You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians.

But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear.

Therefore we suggest to let you solve first the real problems of the region, and then come back and share with us your experience.

Have a nice flight.

Israel is not perfect, neither is the UK, nor any of the countries that the activists flew from. As Jesus reminded us, before criticising others we need to get our own house in order.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6v41-42)

Israeli Field Hospital in Haiti
Israeli Field Hospital in Haiti - 2010

Israel is involved in international disaster relief and medical care (see photo); it’s scientists are experts in irrigation technology and pharmaceuticals, and most of us rely on Israeli discoveries to power our computers and mobile phones, but when compared to Biblical standards Israel, like every other country, has some way to go. Nevertheless when delving back into Israel’s Biblical past we find that in instructing Israel to keep His commands, God says through Moses:

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you …” (Deuteronomy 7v6-8)

Unsinkable!

Icy waters

Today, 15th April 2012, is the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean, accompanied by the tragic loss of over 1,500 lives; a loss still keenly felt by the families and descendants of those who were lost.

The Titanic was a great ship, a pinnacle of human endeavour. At the time she was the largest man-made, moveable object in the world. She was built by a dedicated team of engineers for the White Star Line at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, and was said to be unsinkable. Yet human fallibility and the power of nature were overlooked in the pride of human achievement. One survivor, Eva Hart, a 7-year-old girl from England, had been travelling in second class with her parents. Her mother Esther was troubled by the claims that were being made about the ship. Eva later recalled her mother’s comments: “I don’t like this ship, because a vessel called unsinkable was flying in the face of God.”

Although designed to hold thirty-two lifeboats, only twenty were on board. The White Star management had been concerned that too many boats would spoil the beauty of the ship. Those twenty boats could only hold 1,178 people. That day the Titanic was carrying 2,200 passengers and crew. So even if her lifeboats had been fully loaded, many were destined to drown.

On the evening of 14th, Titanic’s two wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride received ice warnings from ships in the area, which tragically went unheeded. However, once the ship had been holed Jack Phillips bravely stayed at his post sending distress signals and requesting help almost until the ship finally went down.

The story of the Titanic closely mirrors our present society. We think our way of life is unsinkable. We feel we can live as we please, and in one sense we should all be allowed free will, but we must never forget that our decisions and actions have consequences, good and bad. So how good of our Creator, having a deep love for us His creation, to have given us guidelines for how to make the right decisions and how to get the best out of life, and warnings so that we might avoid disaster. Not only that but He came to teach us in person, living amongst us for over thirty years before paying the penalty for my rebellion, and yours! As the scriptures tell us, “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1v2)

Sea travel is now guided by an international agreement, the Safety of Life at Sea, which, had it been around in 1912, may have averted the Titanic disaster. Today’s society has the Bible, a fascinating book of history, prophecy, poetry and most of all divine instruction for a happy life, but has our society learnt to heed its warnings and live accordingly, or do we still say, “It will never happen!”

“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For … how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2v1,3)

The Passover Lamb

The Cross
The Passover Lamb

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the first day of the Easter weekend. Cadbury’s Creme Eggs have been in the shops for months, and families are packing for the Easter getaway.

This year Easter falls at the same time as the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover). In fact that famous Easter meal, the Last Supper, was actually a very Jewish Passover meal, where a Jewish rabbi and his twelve students recalled the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. This meal was a bitter-sweet occasion for the rabbi as only he knew that he would leave there to face torture and death. It was to be his life for ours, his goodness and purity for our wrongdoing and rebellion. Just as Jewish people around the world remember the Passover lamb that gave its life to save the lives of others, here we have Jesus – his real name was Yeshua – who had lived a spotless life, but gave it so that others may be free, forgiven, accepted and loved by their Creator. In so doing he fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew King David and the prophet Isaiah.

Another rabbi, Sha’ul, or Paul the apostle as he’s more commonly known, writes about this event, but in doing so he leaves a challenge for us all.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t only look out  for your own interests, but take an interest in others too. You must have the same attitude as that of Yeshua the Messiah:

“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:3-11)