Twitter

Category “History”

More Love to Thee

The following hymn, which gained popularity during the 1870’s, was written by Elizabeth Prentiss after two of her children died suddenly of illness in 1856.

Elizabeth, struggling with thoughts of God’s unfairness and in profound grief, was told by her husband that, “Love can keep the soul from going blind.”  Understanding that God is love, and seeing that increased devotion toward him was the solution to her grief, she penned the following verses that would become part of the widely published hymn, “More Love to Thee.”

Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek,
Give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work,
Send grief and pain,
Sweet are Thy messengers,
Sweet their refrain.
When they can sing with me:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

I have been asking the Lord to draw me closer to him, but secretly hoping that it would not involve stress, pain, or struggle. Shortly before reading the above hymn, I read in Hebrews 12:5-11 the following instructions:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;  For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Possibly the Lord is preparing me for chastening, or considering my recent discouragement, helping me through it. Verses 12-13 follow with this encouragement:

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Abortion – The Modern Moloch

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were constantly straying into idolatry, and one false god that snared them is specifically connected to the hideous practice of infant sacrifice. The Ammonite idol Moloch was worshipped first by the Canaanites, who then transmitted their practices to the Israelites. The worship of Moloch, which included ritualized carnal acts as well as infant sacrifice, was associated with intercession for the idol’s favor – a plea for prosperity.

Jewish tradition describes the practice of infant sacrifice:

Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass, having the face of an ox; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.1

This practice is depicted as possibly the worst offense committed by the Israelites, as it is often listed first, and frequently singled out – though it could be included in the general condemnation of idolatry. God, speaking through Ezekiel, said,

Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?2

This offense is so great that, even after its chief perpetrator, Manasseh, repented in his old age and his grandson, Josiah, led a great revival, God still pronounced destruction on the Israelites of Judah:

Now before [Josiah] there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.3

modern molech cartoonThroughout history, Moloch has been portrayed as a proxy for the sacrifice of innocents in order to gain material well-being. In 1923, backlash against a frightening increase in the number  of pedestrian children being killed by motor vehicles led to a St. Louis Star political cartoon entitled, The Modern Moloch, in which a man offers a platter of children’s corpses to the leering grill of a monstrous car. In Fritz Lang’s 1927 blockbuster silent film Metropolis, workers are thrown to their deaths to oil the cogs of Mol0ch, a giant machine that powers the wealthy upper city.  In his volume, The Gathering Storm (1948), Winston Churchill described the near worship of Adolf Hitler and his prewar economic reforms in Molechian terms.

The similarities between this idolatrous infant sacrifice and today’s mass murder of the unborn are revealing. Most abortions are at the alter of modern prosperity – a sacrifice in order to increase the chance of gaining or keeping prosperity. Attempts to keep mothers from seeing imagery of the unborn children conjure up the drowning out of infant cries with beating of drums in an attempt to keep the mother’s “heart from being moved.” The methods of killing are far more cruel than even Rabbi Itzhaki’s chilling description.

Despite American evangelicalism’s fixation on sexual impurity, it does seem “a small matter” compared with the fifty-six MILLION unborn legally killed in America since Roe v. Wade in 1973. By 2020, the number of children killed in the U.S. will be higher than TWICE the current population of Canada. I fear that, even if we experience a revival equal to that of Josiah, the “great wrath” of God will not be stayed, because of “all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.”

God help us.

 

  1. Commentary on Jeremiah 7:31, by Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki, 1040-1105AD []
  2. Ezekiel 16:20-21 []
  3. 2 Kings 23:25-26 []

Thy Broken Body, Gracious Lord

I stumbled across a beautiful little hymn today, squirreled away in the footnotes of a convicting article by C. H. Mackintosh. The hymn was written during the formation of the Plymouth Brethren, between 1837 and 1838, and published in the first brethren songbook, Hymns for the Poor of the Flock. The author is Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, and he penned these words some where around the age of twenty-five. I think this song really brings out both the wonder and importance of the remembrance meeting.

Thy broken body, gracious Lord,
Is shadowed by this broken bread,
The wine which in this cup is pour’d,
Points to the blood which Thou hast shed.

And while we meet together thus,

We show that we are one in Thee.
Thy precious blood was shed for us,
Thy death, O Lord, has set us free.

Brethren in Thee, in union sweet,
(For ever be thy grace ador’d),
‘Tis in Thy name, that now we meet,
And know Thou’rt with us, gracious Lord.

We have one hope—that Thou wilt come,
Thee in the air we wait to see,
When Thou wilt take Thy people home
And we shall ever reign with Thee.

 

Hints for the Lord Almighty

The following quote is attributed to King Alfonso X of Castile, sometimes called “Alfonso the Wise” and “Alfonso the Astronomer.”  It is said that he made these comments in the 13th century while being taught Ptolemaic astronomy:

If the Lord Almighty had consulted me before embarking upon Creation, I should  have recommended something simpler.

Likewise, Richard Dawkins said the following in an interview with The Oregonian:

The recurrent laryngeal nerve is a remarkable piece of unintelligent design. The nerve starts in the head, with the brain, and the end organ is the larynx, the voice box. But instead of going straight there it goes looping past the voice box. In the case of the giraffe, it goes down the full length of the giraffe’s neck, loops down one of the main arteries in the chest and then comes straight back up again to the voice box, having gone within a couple of inches of the voice box on its way down. No intelligent designer would ever have done that.

It seems to me that King Alfonso and Dr. Dawkins are saying the same thing, though Dawkins concludes his longer quote with an unhelpful logical fallacy.

The interesting point here is that Ptolemy was wrong and, consequently, so was Alfonso. It wasn’t poor Alfonso’s fault that period science had the sun in the wrong place, but instead of blaming Ptolemy, Alfonso critiqued God.

Dawkins is doing the same thing. Instead of blaming the shortcomings of modern science, he instead critiques God. As with Alfonso, the period scientific conclusion has ended up being at fault, not the creator. In fact, the shortcomings of evolutionary theory have become a “god of the gaps” in their own right. If the design isn’t understood, blame it on random processes. Of course they’ll be messy! But time and time again these “unintelligent designs” have been shown to be rather clever after all. It’s the process of discovery, not the Designer, that has stumbled through the centuries.

Bergman, J. 2010. Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Is Not Evidence of Poor Design. Acts & Facts. 39 (8): 12-14