Nothing to See Here:  Healthcare Fraudfeasors are Like Missing Links

Nothing to See Here:  Healthcare Fraudfeasors are Like Missing Links

(The Evidence of Nothing, Again:  Medicare, Medicaid, and Missing Links)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Duckbill-skeleton.Hypacrosaurus-AlbertaCanada

Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that [Austin’s] Hon. Catherine Mauzy of the 126th Judicial District Court of Travis County has ruled Dr. Richard Malouf of ASDC Holdings, LLC responsible for 1,842 unlawful acts under the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act. Dr. Malouf operated orthodontics clinics for many years in the Dallas area and billed tens of millions of dollars to Texas Medicaid. The Court found that Malouf fraudulently billed Medicaid for services that were actually provided by a different doctor, including over 100 billings he filed [for supposed service performed in America] while vacationing out of the country. … As a result of the court’s order, Dr. Malouf is liable to Texas for approximately $12 million, plus attorney and court fees.(1)

How is this ruling like an echo, of a prior report in Acts & Facts, more than a dozen years ago?

In 2008, in an article titled “The Evidence of Nothing”, this jurist reported on a similar situation, that was tried in (and appealed from) federal district court, but this controversy involved Medicare fraud—as opposed to the recent case, involving Medicaid fraud.(2)

This Medicare fraud case involved years of federal court proceedings, with one of the appeals being decided last year [i.e., 2007]. Part of the convicting evidence was nothing–literally nothing, when there should have been something. In the related cases of Okoro and Akpan … Victor Okoro, M.D., in concert with others, was accused of fraudulent Medicare billing practices, which conflicted with his “medical missionary” trips and a bogus charity called the Sisters of Grace.(2)

In the appellate proceeding’s affirmance of the fraud findings, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals commented on Dr. Okoro’s Medicare fraud:

Although some of the patients |in Texas| received physical therapy treatments and some were examined by Okoro, each patient signed blank sign-in sheets and blank patient forms. In addition, Okoro signed most of the forms himself, yet many of the patients testified that he had never examined them….Okoro signed patient documents that stated that he had treated those patients on specific dates and at specific times on which Okoro could not possibly have rendered services. For example, many of the dates on which Okoro alleged that he provided services were dates when he was in Nigeria.(3)

To prove that Dr. Okoro was absent from Texas, at times when he was billing the Medicare program for “services” never performed, his air travel records (including international air travel records) documented him departing and returning to Texas via airports.(2),(3)

Thus, the federal prosecutor used these records to show Okoro’s ingress to and egress from Texas, over the relevant timeframe of the Medicare billings.(2),(3)

Yet just as important, from a circumstantial evidence standpoint, was the government’s proof of “nothing” on other legally important dates. The federal government’s trial proof included official government records with absences of entries on the dates in question, showing that Dr. Okoro was not recorded as having re-entered the United States in time for him to have performed the medical services for which he billed Medicare.(2)

Some might object that this is an “argument from silence”, and it is.(4)

Yet the forensic force of this “silent” witness can support a sentence of felony jail time.  But how can examples of “nothing” become admissible evidence at trial?

Federal Evidence Rule 803(10) provides this forensic proof option:

“Absence of Public Record or Entry. To prove the absence of a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, or the nonoccurrence or nonexistence of a matter of which a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, was regularly made and preserved by a public office or agency, evidence in the form of a certification in accordance with rule 902, if necessary, or testimony, that diligent search failed to disclose the record, report, statement, or data compilation, or entry.” |emphasis added|(4)

Evidence Rule 803(7) is similar, but it applies to admitting as trial evidence the fact that regularly recorded “business records” have a relevant “absence” of an entry, as well as where and when a documentary “nothing” is forensically important.(2)

So, how are these healthcare fraud cases, of “the evidence of nothing”—that prove “something”—relevant to creation science controversies, such as the notion that simians procreated humans via the mystical magic of “natural selection”, an animistic “process” that functions as materialism’s “creator”?

Consider the relevance of the Federal Evidence Rules that govern the adjudicatory admissibility of “nothing, when there should be something” to the evolutionists’ problem of “missing links.”

When examining the quixotic quest for missing links, it is like déjà vu–literally nothing, when there should have been something.

To use the logic of Rule 803(10), a diligent search for these so-called transitional form fossils over a period of 150 years has failed to disclose them. What kind of empirical evidence is that, regarding the origin of earth’s life forms? The years of diligent search indicate a glaring absence of molecules-to-man evolutionary phylogeny in the fossil record. In other words, the empirical data of earth’s fossils, if analyzed forensically, show that evolutionary phylogeny notions are just empty imaginings, refuted by the evidence of nothing.(2)

Geologist-paleontologist Dr. John Morris once summarized the importance of what the global fossil record contains, and (moreso) what it does not contain.

Evolutionists often speak of missing links. They say that the bridge between man and the apes is the “missing link,” the hypothetical ape-like ancestor of both. But there are supposed missing links all over the evolutionary tree. For instance, dogs and bears are thought to be evolutionary cousins, related to each other through a missing link. The same could be said for every other stop on the tree. All of the animal types are thought to have arisen by the transformation of some other animal type, and at each branching node is a missing link, and between the node and the modern form are many more. If you still don’t know what a missing link is, don’t worry. No one knows what a missing link is, because they are missing! We’ve never seen one.(5)

In other words, if the evolutionists were correct about their simian-to-human evolution theory, they should have found “missing links” by now—but they have not—and it’s been more than 160 years of hunting at taxpayer expense!(2),(5)

This argument from silence is an absence in the evidentiary record–a “nothing, where there should be something” if evolutionary theory were true. But evolutionary theory is not true, so the real world’s fossil record has been providing irrefutable evidence, by the absence of missing links, for a long, long time now.(2)

Now consider the outcome, in this part of the Travis County 126th District Court’s recent ruling, in the Malouf case.

The Court finds and IT IS ORDERED that Defendant Malouf is liable for 1,842 “unlawful acts”, as defined by the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act,  …

[and] that the State of Texas have judgment against Defendant Malouf for the following civil remedies and penalties: $538,228.45, representing the amount of any payment provided under the Medicaid program as a result of unlawful acts,  …

[plus] $9,210.000.00, representing the statutory minimum civil penalty for each unlawful act committed, … representing two times the amount of the payment received as a result of unlawful acts, …

[plus] the State has the right to recover [attorney] fees, expenses and costs reasonably incurred in obtaining the remedies outlined in this order.(6)

And to think that such a serious outcome was proven, in part, by “the evidence of nothing”—while Dr. Malouf was vacationing abroad.

No wonder evolutionists bristle–as the “science deniers” they are–when they are reminded that the so-called “missing links” are still missing.

[Photograph of author, below, in Bosque County Museum (Clifton, Texas), lecturing on Biblical creation-based providential history, while debunking evolutionary mythology]

JJSJ-CliftonMuseum-NST-lecture

References

  1. Ken Paxton (Attorney General of Texas). “Court Awards Millions for Texans in Medicaid Fraud Lawsuit”, press release posted at www.TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov (May 14, 2020) – accessed May 14, 2020.
  2. Johnson, James J. S. 2008. The Evidence of Nothing: The Silent Witness of Evolution’s Missing Links. Acts & Facts. 37(4):4-5, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/evidence-nothing . No one should think that their international travel records are “private” or undiscoverable. See Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. When Travel is Restricted, Be Honest and Trust God. ICR News (April 4, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/when-travel-is-restricted-be-honest-and-trust-god .
  3. Trial in federal district court began in September 2002. One appellate ruling was published as United States v. Akpan, 407 F.3d 360 (5th Cir. 2005), and a later appellate ruling appears at United States v. Okoro, 213 Fed. Appx. 348, 2007 WL 98804 (5th Cir. 2007) (non-precedent). Quotations are from United States v. Akpan, 407 F.3d at 364-365.
  4. Federal Evidence Rule 803(10). The Federal Rules of Evidence have been cloned, with only small modifications, by the 50 states. According to Rule 102, the Federal Rules of Evidence are supposed to be applied “to the end that the truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined.”  This article focuses mainly on Evidence Rules 803(7) and 803(10), which respectively govern the admissibility as evidence of an absence of information that could have been (but was not) entered into a regular business record or an official government record.
  5. Morris, John D. 2006. What’s a Missing Link? Acts & Facts. 35(4), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/2709/ .
  6. Order Granting the State of Texas’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, in Cause No. D-1-GV-12-000863, State of Texas v. ASDC Holdings, LLC (ASDC), 126th District Court, Travis County, Texas (Hon. Catherine A. Mauzy, May 12, 2020), posted at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/images/admin/2020/Press/D-1-GV-12-000863%20Order%20on%20State%27s%20Motion%20for%20Partial%20Summary%20Judgment.pdf?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= .

Medicare-fraud.bar-graph-comparison.AARP

Alpine Agility of Careful Caprids

Alpine Agility of Careful Caprids

James J. S. Johnson

MountainGoats-Tetons.high-balancing

When America’s president must make decisions about how to transition from a shut-in citizenry (and shut-down economy)—to post-isolationist advances toward resuming business-as-usual activities,(1)—it is time to learn a lesson about balance. And balance is what we see in the athletic agility of mountain goats, adroitly ambulating alpine ascents of the Rocky Mountains.

Indeed, mountain goats provide creation science “gems”, plus a picture of how we need balance in the political arena, when healthcare concerns (including panicking citizens) must be balanced against the need to restore America’s economy and other vital aspects of normal daily living.(1)

Why are mountain goats a picture of this problem? Because safely balancing a mountain goat’s body, on steep alpine slopes—and safely balancing the most vital needs of a nation’s people—are high-risk situations, facing opposing forces and potential disasters. How do you balance healthcare risk shut-ins against society-destroying shutdowns?

To appreciate this comparison, mountain goats must be appreciated within their real-world habitats, just as the U.S. president (and other government officials) must make decisions that match real-world realities (not just speculative models). Context matters!

Also, both situations—high-altitude mountain goats and high-stakes governmental decision-making—indispensably need God’s providential blessing, in all the many details, or else disaster awaits.(2)

In other words, mountain goats provide sure-footed creation science exhibits of how much we need God’s wisdom and His providential blessings, to safely journey through each day’s rocky challenges.

Consider, first, the agility of a mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), the sure-hoofed bovid that habituates the heights of North America’s Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range.(3)

For those of us who admit to some fear of heights, the Mountain Goat is an animal to be admired …   This shaggy animal, its back hunched in a manner somewhat suggestive of a Bison, is a master at negotiating the steepest of precipices. Mountain Goats are truly alpine creatures. They commonly rest on high-elevation snowfields and find most of their food among the plants of alpine meadows. Their hooves are structured to [optimize] balance and grip; the outer hoof is strongly reinforced and the bottom is lined with rubbery material, making the whole structure rather like a good hiking boot. These animals nonchalantly cross dizzying ledges, sometimes even at a trot.(4)

MountainGoat-on-cliffrock.Journal-o-Mtn-Hunting

In fact, the high-altitude dexterity of the mountain goat is so phenomenal that it routinely spends most of its time on precipitous terrain steeper than a 40o angle, and sometimes at pitches steeper than 60o!, especially during winter.(5)

Furthermore, the leg bones of the mountain goat are engineered to maximize a functional mix of precision balancing (such as perching all four hooves on a small spot), front-forward pulling power, propulsion leverage and maneuverability (for running and jumping), and stability (due to a low center of gravity) against tipping over.(5)

A mountain goat climbs with three-point suspension. … Lifting one limb at a time [it] frequently pauses to assess the situation, tests the footing, and if needed turns back and selects a different route. Slow, sure consistency allows life on rock steeper than the angle of repose. Because they are most likely the ones to find themselves in a tight spot, kids do most of the go-for-broke climbing. Although a kid might take four or five missteps per year, it salvages the situation almost every time.(5)

Thus, the mountain goats are aptly designed for moving on rocky slopes. Mountain goats are instinctively careful, and they apply their characteristic agility, as they test their environment. (Indeed, when predatory cougars try to attack them, the God-given instinct of mountain goats to flee, successfully, is often implemented by their agility and speed in and up these jagged rocky slopes and precipices!)

But without the right physical traits for maintaining balance on rugged rocks—traits which God installed on Day 6 of Creation Week—mountain goats could not thrive, as they do, upon the harsh talus slopes and felsenmeer of their high-elevation habitat.

“The [mountain goat hoof-print] track’s squarish imprint is created by the hoof’s spreading tips. The sides of the toes consist of hard keratin, like that of a horse hoof. Each foot’s two wraparound toenails are used to catch and hold on to cracks and tiny knobs. … The front edge of the hoof tapers to a point, which digs into dirt or packed snow when [it] is going uphill. In contrast to a horse’s concave hoof, which causes the animal to walk on the rim of its toenail, a [mountain] goat’s hoof has a flexible central pad that protrudes beyond the nail. The pad’s rough texture provides [skid-resistant] friction on smooth rock or ice yet is pliant enough to impress itself into irregularities on a stone. Four hooves X 2 toes per hoof = 8 gripping soles per animal. As [mountain] goats descend a slope the toes spread widely, adjusting tension to fine-tune the grip. … This feature makes them more likely to catch onto something. It also divides the downward force of the weight on the hoof so that some of the animal’s total weight is directed sideways. Because there is less net force on each downward [pressure] line, the foot is less likely to slide. Think of it as the fanning out of downward forces over numerous points of friction.”(5)

In a word, BALANCE.

Carefulness is indispensable in the interactive details of every movement. God purposefully designed high-elevation mountain goats for balance, because living life among high alpine rocks is a high-risk lifestyle.

Yet the same is equally true to balancing the healthcare concerns and economic necessities of everyone within American society.  Legitimate needs of both business opportunity “freedoms” and societal “security” are deliberately balanced with the God-given personal liberty rights of individuals.

Like a mountain goat perched atop a precarious precipice, safeguarding those God-given rights and freedoms is no lackadaisical endeavor.  The securing of those fundamental freedoms was not (and is not) easily obtained, nor is it easy to maintain those freedoms amidst the ubiquitously power-greedy politics of both the business community and governmental enterprises.(6)

May God give enormous and timely wisdom to governmental, business, and other organizational decision-makers, and providential prudence in exercising their respective powers, as families and individuals try to responsibly make the best of our real-world predicaments. (7)

MountainGoats-Tetons.high-balancing

References

  1. The president, who faced criticism for playing down the threat from the virus in its early stages, has chafed at the devastating economic impact of the strict social distancing measures his administration has recommended. The guidelines are set to stay in place through the end of April. The president will then have to decide whether to extend them or start encouraging people to go back to work and a more normal way of life. ‘I’m going to have to make a decision, and I … hope to God that it’s the right decision’, Trump said. ‘It’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.’” Staff writer, “Using his own ‘metrics,’ Trump says ending U.S. shutdown is biggest decision yet”, The Japan Times (April , 2020). Posted at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/04/11/world/us-donald-trump-shutdown-coronavirus-economy/#.XpYUTlVKjIU – accessed April 14, 2020. See also Steve Holland & Jeff Mason, “Trump suggests he may scale back closures soon despite worsening coronavirus outbreak”, Reuters.com (March 22, 2020). Posted at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-trump/trump-suggests-he-may-scale-back-closures-soon-despite-worsening-coronavirus-outbreak-idUSKBN21A0C6 — accessed April 14, 2020.
  2. Job 39:1-2; Psalms 104:18 & 127:1.
  3. The rope-like “backbone” ridge chain of North America’s West is called the Western Cordillera. Included in its geographic system are the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range, the primary high-elevation range of most North American mountain goats. George Constanz, Ice, Fire, and Nutcrackers: A Rocky Mountain Ecology (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2014), page 215.
  4. John Kricher, Field Guide to Rocky Mountain and Southwest Forests (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), pages 235-236. As illustrated in Job 39:1, Israel’s mountain goat is named for how this bearded climber masters its rocky alpine habitat:  ya‘alê-sâla‘  literally means “ascenders of cliff-rock”. See also Psalm 104:18a.
  5. Constanz, Rocky Mountain Ecology, 224-226, with quotes from 225-226.
  6. Psalm 11:3; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 12:18; Proverbs 29:2. Powerful perils and disastrous deceptions swirl in and around pandemic politics, which is tainted by lots of fake science. See 1st Timothy 6:202-21a, with James J. S. Johnson, “Hot Fudge Sundaes and Cherry-Picked Statistics”, ICR News (April 19, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hot-fudge-sundaes-and-cherry-picked-statistics .
  7. 1 Timothy 2:1-3; Psalm 127:1; Deuteronomy 1:15; Proverbs 14:34.

 

 

Have You Thanked a Fish-Farmer Lately?

Have You Thanked a Fish-Farmer Lately?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Scottish-salmon.fishfarm-netpens

Animals who benefit our lives should be appreciated, as well as the hard-working humans who employ those animals in ways that bless us.  But, of course, our primary appreciation and gratitude should go to God Himself, Maker of animals and ourselves.

Recently I published an article about Scottish aquaculture — and what heroes the aquaculture folks are, nowadays, as first-line-of-defense workers for critical times. (See “Fish-Farming Feeds Scots, But It’s Not Getting Easier”, ICR News (posted April 21st, AD2020) at  https://www.icr.org/article/fish-farming-feeds-scots-but-not-getting-easier  — where I posed the question:

When was the last time you thanked a fish farmer for tending to coast water net-pens, braving unpleasant weather and workplace hazards, to ‘farm’ aquatic ‘livestock’ such as salmon, trout, or shellfish for your dinner?”

Just like livestock husbandry, the aquaculture industry appreciates high-risk capital investment, labor-intensive maintenance costs, and (potential) profitability of its “farm” animals – see Proverbs 14:4.   Yet, as the old saying goes:  “If your input exceeds your output, your upkeep is your downfall.”  So, whenever operated as a profitable operation, offshore aquaculture often yields large-scale harvests and handsome profits, all over the world.

Another example, from a few years ago, of such high-risk enterprise harks from Indonesia.

Indonesia-seabass.fishfarm-netpens

According to The Fish Site ( www.thefishsite.com , Indonesia decided to undertake a major offshore fish-farming operation, to expand its seabass production.  Of course, Indonesia need not “reinvent the wheel”, so the Norwegian fish-farming netpen model is being used for this investment capital-intensive operation.  Specifically, The Fish Site report says:

“The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is to build three offshore aquaculture facilities in 2017 in a hope to produce an additional 1,500 tons of seabass annually. The ministry’s director general for aquaculture, Slamet Soebjakto, said the facilities would be built in Sabang, Aceh; Karimun Jawa, Central Java; and the southern coast of Java between Cilacap and Pangandaran, with a total investment of Rp 141 billion (US$10.5 million), reports the JAKARTA POST. ‘The figure will cover everything, including the automatic feeder machines, fish nets and the cost of establishing floating bases and docks,’ Slamet said. The construction of the offshore facilities, the model of which has been adopted from Norwegian models [which have been developed mostly in Norwegian salmon “farming”], is expected to be completed in eight months, Slamet added. The facilities will be jointly operated by state-owned fishery firm Perikanan Indonesia and local fisherfolk associations.”

[Quoting The Fish Site, January 3, 2017, posted at http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/28623/indonesia-to-expand-seabass-production-with-offshore-facilities/ .]

Previously this Indonesian fish-farming enterprise (using Norwegian netpen technology) was reported, in “Indonesia Intends to Build Offshore 3 Sea Bass Aquaculture Facilities”, posted at https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/indonesia-intends-to-build-offshore-3-sea-bass-aquaculture-facilites / .

Fish-farming, like landlubber farming, is no easy business.  Let’s be thankful for those who work long and hard, and incur risks we don’t think about, just so we can have godo food to eat.

And, above all, thank God for good food that He providentially provides to us, to both the just and the unjust of this world (Acts 14:17).

JJSJ-with-Dungeness-Crab

WHO Should Pay for Sloppy Science

Sloppy Science Isn’t Free, So WHO Should Pay for It

James J. S. Johnson

Climate change is impacting human lives and health in a variety of ways. It threatens the essential ingredients of good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter – and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health. Between 2030 and 2050, [anthropogenic] climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhœa and heat stress alone. The direct damage costs to health is estimated to be between USD 2-4 billion per year by 2030.4

If the WHO bases serious human healthcare forecasts on faulty evolutionist (i.e., uniformitarian/deep-time) assumptions about “anthropogenic” climate change—based on evolutionary models that can err (and sometimes do) in embarrassing gaffs,5 how can world leaders (like President Trump) trust them to be reliable “experts” in other human health matters?

As recreational reading, many have enjoyed science fiction novels, such as War of the Worlds. But funding what plays out to be science fiction, while exacerbating public health threats around the world, is one form of science fiction that some prefer to avoid paying for.2,5,6

In effect, sloppy science can become too expensive to justify its price-tag.

It’s one thing to promote educated guesses—based on flawed scientific theories or models—but it’s quite another to expect a suffering nation (who appears to have been misled regarding the true etiology of the Coronavirus pandemic) to pay additional millions or billions of dollars, for what is shown to be sloppy science.

References

  1. Lauren Fedor & Katrina Manson, “Trump Suspends Funding to World Health Organization: U.S. President Accuses Health Body of ‘Covering Up’ Coronavirus Outbreak”, Financial Times (April 15, 2020). Posted at https://www.ft.com/content/693f49e8-b8a9-4ed3-9d4a-cdfb591fefce — accessed April 15, 2020. Accumulating evidences appear to show personal liberty-stifling politics, socialized healthcare economics, and population control agendas–harnessing the world’s COVID-19 pandemic–include more than recklessly sloppy science and bureaucratic bungling. See Hanne Nabintu Herland, “The COVID-19 Scandal: Billionaire Bill Gates and WHO: Hanne Nabintu Herland Sounds Alarm Over Oligarch ‘Pandemic Expert’”, WorldNetDaily (WND.com: April 22, 2020), posted at  https://www.wnd.com/2020/04/covid-19-scandal-billionaire-bill-gates/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=wnd-newsletter&utm_campaign=dailyam&utm_content=newsletter ; accessed April 23, 2020.
  2. James J. S. Johnson,  “Hot Fudge Sundaes and Cherry-Picked Statistics”, ICR News (April 19th AD2020), posted at  https://www.icr.org/article/hot-fudge-sundaes-and-cherry-picked-statistics / .  Regarding how bait-&-switch bluffers and fraudfeasors often pose as “experts”, see James J. S. Johnson’s “What Good Are Experts?” Acts & Facts, 41(11):8-10 (November 2012), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/what-good-are-experts .
  3. Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We The Live? (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1976), pages 199-200. Almost a half-century ago Dr. Schaeffer warned that the political managers of the scientific community would select sociological outcomes that they favored, then they would skew/fudge their “science” (falsely so-called) to fit the sociopolitical agendas that they preferred to advance, as if their political goals provided the proper method for producing “science”.
  4. World Health Organization, “Climate Change. Health Topics”. Posted at https://www.who.int/health-topics/climate-change#tab=tab_1 – accessed April 15, 2020.
  5. James J. S. Johnson, “Signs of the Times: Glacier Meltdown”, Acts & Facts. 49(4):21 (April 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/signs-of-the-times-glacier-meltdown / .
  6. 1st Timothy 6:20-21.

HotFudgeSundae-with--Cherry.Braums

Moravian Log Cabin Days

Moravian Log Cabin Days,  in a North Carolina Forest

 Dr. James J. S. Johnson

 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’.   (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

log-cabin.similar-to-Moravian-style-cabin

[NOTE:  this is not the cabin I lived for 1/2 a year, but it looks similar in size and style.]

This adds another episode to the “Pilgrim Geography” series, first announced in Remembering Peer Pressure Testings  during Junior High Years,  in Reisterstown and Wards Chapel, Maryland” [posted at https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/remembering-junior-high-years/ ].


NOTE:  The memoir below is excerpted from “Czech into Texas; From Bohemian Roots, to a Moravian Log Cabin, to the Lone Star State”, ČESKÉ STOPY [Czech Footprints], 13(1):15-22 (spring 2011).


 Czechs, and folks with Czech ancestors, have been coming to Texas for more than a century.  However, some of us gladly claim our Czech ancestral lineages, yet must do a bit more documentation to prove we are genuine  “Tex–Czechs”,   —   and I resemble that remark.    Yet part of my Czech heritage (which includes both Moravian and Bohemian elements)  includes living in a 17th–century Moravian immigrants’ log cabin (see photo of similar cabin below) during a cold and snowy winter,  prior to my “immigration” to the Lone State.  . . .

MORAVIAN   LOG   CABIN   DAYS

After completing junior college in Maryland (Montgomery College at Germantown), I needed to transfer to a four–year university, to complete my undergraduate studies.  Skipping the irrelevant details, I transferred to Wake Forest University in North Carolina, in the fall of AD1980   —   specifically in the historic “twin cities” of Winston–Salem, with emphasis on the “Salem”.

Originally, Salem was a Moravian colony (settled by Moravian Brethren Protestants of the 1600s), located near a site that would eventually be named “Winston”.  The industrial town of Winston grew up and out, eventually enveloping the smaller Moravian settlement of Salem, so the combined metropolitan area became known as “Winston–Salem”, North Carolina.  Tobacco was “king”, there, as the brand-names “Winston” and “Salem” still attest.

Salem-NC.restored-building 

    Salem (restored Moravian town in N.C.)            

Salem, to this day, has a “historic” Moravian town (located by Salem College) which preserves many of the 17th–century Moravian customs and culture, such as Moravian cuisine, Moravian beeswax candles, the multi-pointed 3-D Moravian Christmas stars, etc.

During part of my time attending Wake Forest University, I drove home to Raleigh (where my wife was employed) on the weekends, but rented a cheap place to live that was within driving distance to the university. At first this involved living at a trailer park but that proved to be too expensive to continue beyond the first semester.  So, before the spring of AD1981, due to “student poverty” (if you’ve been there, you know what I mean!), I needed to secure a new form of “student housing”, for my non–weekend lodging.  What I found (and used into the early summer) was certainly “cheap”, but sometimes your “bargain” is not what you expected.

This new “student housing” turned out to be a 17th–century Moravian log cabin.

Moravian-LogCabin

The dark–brown log cabin was located in a woods five miles from Wake Forest University’s campus, somewhat behind the house of the current owner  (who rented it real cheap,  but “you get what you paid for”).  This five–mile distance was not flat, and I especially recall two steep hills, because  (on days when my car wouldn’t start) I often used a bicycle, unless snow and ice conditions made walking an easier form of travel (which was frequent).

Thankfully, there was a McDonald’s located at the midpoint between my log cabin and the university campus, so I routinely bought a bottomless cup of coffee there, as I warmed up and enjoyed the bright interior lighting, which was easier to read by (when doing homework) than was reading by candlelight or firelight.   The McDonald’s also had running water (for hand-washing), a flush–toilet, and sturdy dining chairs for hours and hours of reading and writing (all the while getting free refills on my coffee).   Yet, probably best of all (for studying), the McDonald’s had very good interior lighting, for reading and writing.  Half the time my Moravian log cabin’s scintilla of electricity didn’t work, for reasons I still don’t understand, so electric light in the cabin was unavailable about as often as it was available.  Many evenings I did my reading and writing by candlelight and/or by firelight, i.e., reading by the firelight put out by the frenzied dancing of warmth-radiating flames blazing in my fireplace.

So, for the spring semester of A.D. 1981, as well as for the summer term of A.D. 1981, a Moravian pioneer’s log cabin was home for me, during week-days.  (On weekends, if my car worked, or if I could get to a bus station, I went home to Raleigh for the weekend, to the apartment where my wife and step-daughter lived.)  This arrangement was rather Spartan, on week-days, as will be explained below.  However, it became apparent that this arrangement must change before the fall semester, due to an addition to our family!  Specifically, my wife became expecting during January A.D. 1981. In time, our son was born in mid-October.  During the final portion of her pregnancy, we needed a new home that was within commuting distance to the university, yet in a city where my wife’s company had an office (so we prayed for an intra-company transfer of her employment).  Just before the fall semester, we moved to Greensboro (N.C.), which was close enough for me to commute to Winston–Salem (to attend school), and for my wife to work at her new (i.e., transferred) employment, at her company’s Greensboro branch office.  But, meanwhile, during January to September (about half of A.D. 1981), I lived five days a week  in the 17th century log cabin, which was located inside a wooded area too far to receive mail delivery form the U.S. Postal Service.

The log cabin itself was a simple Moravian settler’s cabin:  one room,  plus a “loft” (where I found a freshly shed snake-skin, left recently by a very long snake!).  No refrigerator: yet the entire cabin was like a refrigerator, unless a large fire was burning in the fireplace!   One bed.  One chair.  Wood floor.  Two shelves attached to the log walls (one for books, one for food).  Rudimentary electricity had been added to the cabin,  by the cabin’s owner,  to allow for only one electric item to use electricity.   (The qualifying word here is “rudimentary”.)  Lots of bugs and spiders.  Especially lots of spiders.  For example, one could plug in the lamp, to use a light bulb in a lamp (for reading).  Or, one could use the plug for an electric skillet (to heat food).  But not both at the same time.  Also, “multi-strip” electric–chord devices apparently overloaded the circuit, causing the wee flow of electricity to cease, sometimes for days.   (So forget using a multi–strip.)   So, to heat up food, the lamp’s light-bulb provided light to see, while the light was on. (During wintertime the daylight disappears quickly, so light becomes an important issue).   After canned food was poured into the electric skillet, I could light a candle.  Then, seeing by the light of the candle, unplug the electric light–powered lamp, and plug in the electric skillet.  After cooking the food, which can be eaten directly from the electric skillet, unplug the skillet, and plug in the lamp.   Or, eat by candlelight.  (Even today I have fond memories of reading my Old Testament Hebrew Bible by candlelight and/or firelight.)

After eating, use the snow outside to “wash” out the skillet.  (Presumably, if the “dish–cleaning” wasn’t perfect, whatever food germs remained in the skillet, till the next meal, should get cooked to death whenever the skillet was next fully heated up for the “new” food.)     The cabin had thick walls of mortared blackish–brown square–cut logs, forming an interior rectangle of about ten feet by twelve feet.   No indoor plumbing!  (No details beyond that  — except I’ll note here that cold, snowy winter nights are not a good time to have urgent digestive issues!)  And, thankfully, for winter weather, the cabin had a very efficient fireplace.  (The woods next to the cabin supplied all of the firewood needed, month after month.)   In the spring and summer, however, the inside of the cabin was so cool (compared to the outdoor weather) that it felt like air conditioning.  Cheese and pimento keeps (unspoiled) for weeks in a cabin life that, without any refrigerator.   It’s amazing how much cheese and pimento (or peanut butter) one can eat, day after day, week after week, month after month, if you have enough saltine crackers to go with it! (Because I ate so much of it then, I won’t eat it now.)

pimento-cheese-on-bread    saltine-crackers

peanut-butter-on-bread

Prior to the fall semester (of A.D. 1981) I gave up my week-day lodgings at the Moravian log cabin, when we rented an apartment in Greensboro (North Carolina), from which I could commute to the university, while my wife worked in Greensboro. Surely my college education would have been impossible without my wife working, to put me through school – so she deserves my unending gratitude for this and many other lovingkindnesses to me (over the past three-decades-plus).  And during this time our daughter (my step-daughter, if you want to get “technical”) attended school in Greensboro.  In October of A.D. 1981, not that long after my “Moravian log cabin days” concluded, our energetic baby boy was born.

  “IMMIGRATING”   TO  TEXAS

             This “Czech-into-Texas” journey is now about over. After Wake Forest University, I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for my first doctoral program.  Even during that time, however, I kept an eye on Texas (since my wife is a native Texan; need I say more?).  After completing my first doctorate, I accepted a challenging job in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  In A.D. 1986, our family relocated to the greater Dallas area, where we have been ever since.

So, biogenetically speaking, I (providentially) finally got my “Czech into Texas”.


 

 

 

India’s Under-appreciated Hero: Colonel Ole Bie

Colonel Ole Bie, A True Friend of India (Especially India’s Widows)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.   (Psalm 102:18)

Here is my limerick about the under-appreciated contribution made to India, about 200 years ago, by Colonel Ole Bie, Norwegian-born Danish trade colony governor of Serampore, a Lutheran who supported Baptist missionary William Carey (and other Christian missionaries) in their efforts to share the Gospel of Christ in India (including Bible translations and the establishment of Serampore College)   —   as well as to promote the Genesis Mandate (by politically opposing the then-prevalent widow-burning custom called “sati”) for Adam’s descendants to “be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth”.

In time, after much lobbying of the British colonial government, a political victory was gained (to protect the lives of India’s widows).  Consequently, many families in India today can trace their genealogical existence back to widows who were allowed to remarry — and who, as remarried, later gave birth unto children (of their second marriages).

baby-in-the-womb

COLONEL OLE BIE, A TRUE FRIEND OF INDIA

India, long ago, traded with Danes;

‘Twas win-win, with both nations’ gains;

Labored Bie, Carey, and Roy,

Sati’s threat to destroy —

Ending those life-quenching banes.

See James J. S. Johnson, “Contending for the Faith and the Genesis Mandate”, ACTS & FACTS, 43(5):19 (May 2014), posted at  https://www.icr.org/article/contending-for-faith-genesis-mandate  .

Because every human life is precious to God, even if a single (and “unsung”) life is a inconspicuous as a water-drop.  [ See  https://pinejay.com/2019/12/05/is-your-life-like-a-drop-of-water/  .]

OleBieChurch-Serampore-India.monument



 

 

Is the Septuagint a backdated scam?

Forensic / Linguistic Judgment:  the “Septuagint” O.T. Translation-Texts are Backdated Misrepresentations

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.   (2nd Corinthians 2:17)

LXX IS AN UNRELIABLE BACKDATED GREEK TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE’S OLD TESTAMENT HEBREW TEXT

(limerick by JJSJ)

Septuagint texts often err;

Did translators just fail to care?

A provenance sham?

A forgery scam?

Check out its history, if you dare!

Image result for septuagint david daniels

YouTube  by  DAVID W. DANIELS  (re Septuagint’s misrepresented provenance)

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBFXozZ_Zhc  

For a surprising report of Biblical text research and forensic analysis, of what is commonly called the “Septuagint” (or “LXX”), check out this journal article:

https://creationresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/crsq-summer-2019-tomkins.pdf

“Extensive Messianic Prophecy Corruptions and Flood-related Chronology Errors Disqualify the Septuagint (LXX) as a Reliable Source for Creationist Research”, Creation Research Society Quarterly (summer 2019), 56(1):40-47, by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, David W. Daniels, & James J. S. Johnson.

Also, this book  (by  scholar  David A. Daniels)  is highly recommended:

DWD-book.Did-Jesus-Use-LXX


POST-SCRIPT:  for a limerick regarding how Biblical texts were corrupted and advocated, by Westcott & Hort, and their ilk, see “Critiquing the ‘Critical Text’ Critics”, posted at https://pinejay.com/2019/01/10/critiquing-the-critical-text-critics/ .

Remembering … Junior High Years

REMEMBERING  …  JUNIOR  HIGH  YEARS

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’.   (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

Remembering Peer Pressure Testings  during Junior High Years,  in Reisterstown and Wards Chapel, Maryland

When I think back, on days gone by,

Such as my years, in junior high:

Peer pressure dares, and snobby sneers;

God’s grace my guide, not foolish peers

Rich victories won, as time hiked by.

This limerick begins a “Pilgrim Geography” series, recalling how God has providentially blessed me in various places, along life’s journey as I trek about this earth as a “pilgrim” belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ.

During my junior high years I was confronted with a lot of ugly peer pressure (i.e., opportunities to sin), which repulsed me and nudged me toward the more-independent pathway of “daring to be a Daniel”  —  when peers mocked my teen-aged piety (as if I had a loser lifestyle, as a “jerk” who would never become “popular”) saying NO to opportunities for immorality.

(Although one doesn’t always know who is watching  —  https://wordpress.com/post/leesbird.com/95265   —  personal moral integrity is often showcased when “no one” is watching.  Besides, it’s never true that “no one” is watching, because God always observes us, even when human eyes and ears don’t.)

Needless to say, I have no regrets that I repeatedly refused “dares” to compromise my personal integrity for the fleeting comfort (and false “value”) of peer “acceptance”/approval.

For a few Old Testament Scriptures, that inform God’s children of their privileged calling as “pilgrims”, see Genesis 47:9; Exodus 6:4; and Psalm 119:54.  In the New Testament, see especially Hebrews 11:13 and 1st Peter 2:11.

By God’s grace, since becoming a Christian (during autumn of my 6th grade year), my earthly pilgrimage (which has included a lot of Providential geography) has been an ongoing mix of life experiences that provide character tests and opportunities to grow in serious loyalty to (and fellowship with) Him, always being enabled by His indwelling Spirit’s all-sufficient grace and guidance (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 4:30), spiced and seasoned with a generous sprinkling of surprises, learning, adventures, joy, and abundant life (John 10:10).

Thank You,  LORD,  for being with me — and shaping my young life then —  through those precious years.


 

Romans chapter 5: God’s Christmas Gift!

God’s  Christmas  Gift:  JESUS !

OBSERVATIONS  AND  INSIGHTS FROM ROMANS 5

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

As sinning humans, we need the gift of redemption in Christ — that’s what Christmas was, historically, all about — and that is why it is just as relevant and vital, today, for us all.

OlafTryggvason-hears-Gospel.wood-sculpture

Good news!

In Christ, as a free gift, we (human sinners) can be made right with God, by Him imputing to us the righteousness of Christ, if we believe His promise that Jesus is the Scripture-prophesied Messiah!  That is the theme and doctrine of Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  This good news, at least in a foreshadowed form, was “promised afore by [God’s] prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Romans 1:2), but now it is clearly presented to all the world (Galatians 1:6-12; Romans 1:16-17).

Romans chapter 5 describes how God has accomplished, in the completed redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-25; Romans 5:8 & 5:12-21; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews chapter 10), what was needed in order for God to be able to justly justify the (otherwise) unjust children of Adam:  we are now “made the righteousness of God” in Christ, because of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself at Calvary!

Crucifixion-3-crosses.sunset-background

In a sense, the 5th chapter of Romans is summed up in this one verse:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift [charisma] of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)

What wonderful news for Adam’s children! What good news for forgiven sinners!  Eternal life is a gift – it is free!  This fits the teaching of Romans chapter 4, that God imputes righteousness to believers.  Righteousness is not earned by good behavior; rather, it is imputed graciously by God.  And the basis of that imputation of God’s righteousness is Christ’s role and finished work as our Kinsman-Redeemer.  That righteousness-imputing redemption was motivated by God’s love and it was accomplished by Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself for us, followed by His resurrection (Romans 5:8-11).

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.   For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.   (Romans 5:8-11)

HolyBible.spine-closeup

However, for this good news to be truly reliable, theologically (and logically), Paul’s explanation of Genesis chapter 3 must be reliable. That means that Genesis must be accepted as trustworthy information, because Paul trusted its history literally (as did Christ Himself – see John 5:45-47!).

Thus, the historicity of Adam (and of the Genesis account of his failure in Eden) is used, by Paul, to argue the efficaciousness of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself for us, in order to provide us with redemption, propitiation, and reconciliation. This requires an analysis of how Adam’s first sin has impacted humanity (and the rest of creation), followed by an analysis of how Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection has overruled that those impacts.

Christ-is-risen!-PPTslide

Death was alien to God’s “very good” creation, until Adam sinned. The trustworthiness of the holy Bible hangs upon the accuracy of this fact: There was no death before Adam sinned. To err about when and why death came to Earth is to err about the theological and historical foundation of the Gospel. The death of Christ, and therefore the Gospel of Christ, won’t make sense if death came to Earth any other way than by Adam’s sin in Eden. If death came first, the New Testament would be worse than unreliable—it would be irreparably wrong about salvation.

Although more could (and should) be said about how and why Adam’s sin triggered death, two major points will be reviewed here: (1) The Gospel of Christ depends on the truth of Adam’s sin triggering death on Earth; and (2) the reliability of the Bible depends upon the truth of Adam’s sin triggering death on Earth. Put bluntly, if death somehow came to earth apart from Adam’s sin, we cannot be confident that Hell is escapable. Those reasons guarantee that this topic is anything but trivial. The stakes are as high as can be.

“Very good” creations don’t “groan”. The original condition of God’s creation at the end of Day Six was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), displaying the perfection of providence. However, the earth is now fallen—the current condition of God’s creation is good (Acts 14:17) yet “groaning” (Romans 8:20-22).  That groaning now includes the reign of sin and death over both humans and animals, a terrible situation that will one day be overcome (1st Corinthians 15:26 & 15:54-56; Revelation 21:4 & 22:3).

What caused this change? God did not leave us to guess the answer: Genesis 3 provides the history of that change; the New Testament (especially in Romans 5 and 8) provides the theology of that change. If we ignore God’s authoritative explanation in Genesis and Romans by relying on theistic evolutionist lies, we inexcusably err.  Why?  Because only the Bible’s teaching of the history and theology of human sin reveals the true etiology of death (Romans 5:12).

Death had a beginning; death is not eternal. In order to have the possibility of death, there must first be mortal life. Accordingly, death could never occur unless and until God created living creatures that were capable of dying. Genesis 1 and 2 describe and report how God created such creatures. At the end of Day 6, all was “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—which means that there could not be any death on earth at that time because death is not morally good (Romans 8:20-22; 1st Corinthians chapter 15). The Bible reports no animals dying before Adam sinned. (Notice that no nephesh-bearing animals were to be eaten by humans until after the Flood, according to Genesis 1:29-30 & 9:1-4.) In short, the Bible clearly reports that it was Adam’s sin that triggered the curse of death, in fulfillment of God’s warning:

Therefore, just as through one man [i.e., Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.…For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin hath reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-14, 17-21, emphasis added)

Death was unknown to Adam and Eve before Adam sinned. Adam had never seen death before. People on Earth today do not personally see Heaven and Hell, yet God teaches us – through His written Word — vital truths about the conditions and importance of eternity. When we are taught what we should believe about such things, our own faith in God’s Word is tested: Either we believe what God reveals to us about the unseen (e.g., heaven and hell), or we don’t. God is pleased to test our faith about such unseen things, just as God was pleased (6,000+ years ago) to use information about unseen realities to test Adam’s faith and loyalty. That kind of testing is the essence of faith (Hebrews 11:1-3).

Notice that, like Adam’s testing by God, God’s testing of our faith and our loyalty to Him (as our Creator) is always coupled with consequences—good consequences for good choices, bad consequences for bad choices.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

Adam, the first human to sin, quickly learned a lot about consequences—the consequences of his sin included a new thing, death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). The Bible teaches, quite clearly, that the paycheck that sin earns is called DEATH.   (Of course, God had already foreseen and fore-planned a redemptive solution to that sin-and-death problem  —  see Genesis 3:15.)

Genesis3.15-Hebrew-text-in-colorConsider how God chose to test Adam’s faith and loyalty. The test was simple: Don’t eat from one specific tree in the Garden of Eden. God designed Adam’s test to have built-in consequences. Adam could make the choice, but Adam could not control the consequences that would flow from that choice. Why not? Because the consequences were built in to the alternative choice options: The good choice would produce a good result (life eternal); the bad choice would produce a bad result (death).

In effect, God designed the gun, including the trigger—but it was Adam who aimed the gun and pulled the trigger, thus starting the dying process (“you shall surely die”, in Genesis 2:17, could be rendered “dying, you will die”) that leads ultimately to death itself. The test was all part of God’s glorious plan for human history, and God foreknew what would happen.  However, Adam’s choice was nonetheless a true test of Adam’s faith and loyalty, because Adam did not experientially know the outcome in advance.

Adam could have believed God to avoid the “death” that God warned of, but he chose otherwise. Only then did Adam experience the “dying” condition that God had warned him about. Dying began, as did thorns, pain in childbirth, and, in time, death itself.

But the dying was not limited to Adam! Because God had placed all of the life forms of the world under Adam’s authority (Genesis 1:26-31; Psalm 8), the world fell with Adam and was “cursed” with death (Genesis 3:17-19).

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:20-22)

Consequently, all of the world’s living creatures—both humans and animals—have been “groaning” under the curse of sin and death ever since, although eventually the time will come when Christ’s completely applied redemption will be applied to His believers (1st Corinthians chapter 15), and even to the earth itself to overcome the Edenic curse of death (Revelation 20:11; 21:1-5; 22:3).

Why does it matter?

The New Testament directly links sin’s cause and sin’s cure by tying the Gospel of salvation to Adam’s sin (compare Romans chapter 5 with 1st Corinthians chapter 15).

Crucifixion-3-crosses.sunset-background

And, Christ’s vicarious payment of humanity’s total sin-debt is the redemptive solution to the otherwise-hopeless problem of sin and death — and is available to everyone, as John 3:16 teaches, who chooses to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior! 

Paul’s definition of the Gospel of Christ contextualizes the Gospel as being “according to the [Old Testament] scriptures” (1st Corinthians 15:3-4).  The New Testament Gospel of Christ depends upon the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament (e.g., Isaiah 53; Psalm 16; etc.) being true.

Qumran-Isaiah.scroll

Indeed, the Old Testament is authoritatively relevant, true, and perfect—every “jot and tittle” (Matthew 5:18) of it. Christ Himself said that Moses would judge people after they die according to whether they believed the words of Moses (John 5:45-47).  If the books of Moses, which include Genesis, were authoritatively good enough for the Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:35; John 17:17)—and they were—they are authoritatively good enough for us. And what we believe about death being the consequence of Adam’s sin in Eden is a test of our own love and loyalty to God Himself.

[ ><> JJSJ  March 7th AD2015 ]

Wise-men-still-seek-Jesus.silhouette


 

Obadiah’s Prophecy of Edom’s Downfall

Obadiah’s Prophecy:  Profanity and Pride Goeth before Edom’s Fall

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Though you (thou) exalt yourself (thyself) as the eagle, and though you (thou) set your (thy) nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. (Obadiah 1:4)

GoldenEagle-nest.high-rocks

Introduction

Obadiah’s prophecy focuses on the nation Edom, people descended from Esau, Jacob’s twin brother and rival. This book of prophecy – the shortest in the Old Testament – eventually expands its coverage to Israel’s other neighbors, and even alludes to “the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen” (1:15).  Thus, the book of OBADIAH specifically recounts some of Edom’s wickednesses, noting how these evils are to be punished on the Day of the LORD.(1) 

The key theme of Obadiah is that punishment of Edom’s God-despising prideful profanity, which includes Edom’s merciless and cruel persecution of Jacob’s descendants, is assured and shall be accomplished by God, climaxing in judgment as part of the Day of the LORD (1:15-19).

Also, we see in Obadiah’s prophecy how the rivalry between Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:22-23 & 25:27-34), specifically Esau’s unjust persecution of Jacob (e.g., see Genesis 27:41), continues through time. The ultimate examples of that rivalry, of course, climax in the Edomite (l/k/a Idumean) household of the Herod dynasty, Idumean kings who tried to murder the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:3-19), and who participated in sentencing Jesus to death (Luke 23:8-12; Acts 4:27), and who persecuted the followers of Jesus (Acts 12:1-20).  Unresolved rivalries result in regrettable ramifications (James 3:16).

Little wonder that God declared His hatred for the Edomite people, during the prophetic ministry of Malachi (Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13).  One of the looming themes of “that Day” is how God shall angrily avenge Israel by punishing Israel’s persecutors, including Edom (Jeremiah 49:8-10).

GoldenEagle-swooping-down.NETNS-WildlifeZone

 Exegetical Observations and Comments on Obadiah’s sole chapter

The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard a rumor from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. (Obadiah 1:1)

Obadiah’s prophecy begins by pronouncing divine judgment against the nation of Edom, with God’s justice being executed through warfare that involves heathen (i.e., Gentile unbelievers) nations who combine their armies to attack Edom.

Behold, I have made you (thee) small among the heathen; you (thou) are greatly despised. (Obadiah 1:2)

The verb “despised” (1:2), in some ways, could be called the key to understanding the fate of Esau, and thus also the fate of his descendants’ civilization, the nation Edom. Recall the famous barter transaction between Esau and Jacob, where Esau traded his priceless Messianic birthright, for a bowl of red lentil soup:

Then Jacob gave [nâtan = “transferred”, “transmitted”] Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he ate and he drink, and he rose up, and he went his way [“and he walked”]; thus Esau despised [a form of bâzah] his birthright. (Genesis 25:34)

In that voluntary value-exhibiting transaction, which Scripture qualifies (in Hebrews 12:16) as illustrating Esau’s profanity, we see how Esau “despised” (wayyôbez = “and he despised”) that which was spiritual (i.e., that which is valuable to God), preferring the passing physical pleasures to that which has ongoing value. That is the essence of profanity — insulting God by devaluing that which God has made holy.

In particular, Esau traded the Messianic birthright for a bowl of red soup – that illustrates Esau’s carnal-mindedness. No wonder Esau chose to be a fornicating polygamist (Genesis 26:34-35 & 27:46 & 28:9 & 36:10-18; Hebrews 12:16), preferring wives that were Hittite and Ishmaelite pagans (as opposed to selecting a YHWH-worshipping wife who was raised in the faith of Abraham).

Genesis25.34-Esau-despised-birthright

In the end, by Esau profanely despising the Messianic birthright, Esau forfeited his opportunity to be part of the Messianic lineage – so the Messianic birthright-lineage honor is forever Jacob’s, not Esau’s. As the subsequent history of Esau’s descendants (a/k/a the nation Edom) demonstrates, Edom’s shameful legacy was one long history of despising God, and despising people whom God valued.

This involves the Abrahamic Covenant, which promises cursing of those who curse Abraham’s promised seed (Genesis 12:3). Abraham’s promised seed descends through Jacob (Genesis 27:29 & 27:39-40 & 28:3-6 & 28:13-15 & 35:9-12), not Esau.

The pride of thine heart hath deceived you (thee), you (thou) who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high, who says in his heart, ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’  Though you (thou) exalt yourself (thyself) as the eagle, and though you (thou) set your (thy) nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. (Obadiah 1:3-4)

Edom is compared to the eagle [nešer], who builds his or her nest in a high place, such as in rocky crags at the top of a high cliff or mountainside.  The fact that eagles (and other large raptors) live in high rocky places is no accident – it is a providentially designed behavior that fits the heavy-bodied eagles’ need for assisted airlift, such that eagles detect and ride upon rising thermal air currents, to save energy.(2)

Obadiah1.3-4-eagle-cliff

But, the ability of eagles to majestically soar at high altitudes is God’s gift to eagles – they did not invent (or “evolve”) themselves; rather, whatever wonderful traits they have are traits that God created for them, as their divine Bioengineer.

Likewise, whatever valuable traits we humans may have – and we are blessed with many – are undeserved gifts from God.  So being obsessed with the “pride of life” (see 1st John 2:16, αλαζονεια του βιου, which focuses on biophysical life, not spiritual life) is stupid.  Rather, as God-created creatures, we should be ever-thankful to our Creator, i.e., we should always be grateful for both our biophysical (bios) life and our non-physical (zôê) spirit/soul life.

If thieves came to you (thee), if robbers by night  — how are you (thou) cut off!  —  would they not have stolen till they had enough?  If the grape-gatherers came to you (thee), would they not leave some grapes? (Obadiah 1:5-6)

Obadiah emphasizes how thorough the destruction of Edom shall be, in the Day of the LORD – it shall be much more thorough than smash-and-grab felonies by vandals, robbers, or burglars (1:5). Even careful grape-gatherers miss a few grapes, so that a hungry man should be able to find a few “leftovers” after a grape-field harvest (1:6).

How are the things of Esau searched out!   How are his hidden things sought up! All the men of your (thy) confederacy have brought you (thee) even to the border; the men that were at peace with you (thee) have deceived you (thee), and prevailed against you (thee); they that eat your (thy) bread have laid a wound under you (thee); there is none understanding in him. (Obadiah 1:6-7)

Edom is betrayed by Edom’s confederates (literally “men of thy covenant”), illustrating how there is no honor among thieves (i.e., no integrity in how evildoers treat each other). Edom unwisely trusted in alliances with ungodly allies. This folly backfires on Edom.

Edom-map.Teman-noted

Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?   And you (thy) mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. (Obadiah 1:8-9)

Notice the synonyms: Edom, mount of Esau, Teman – referring to places in Edom, which places, nowadays, are located within the southern part of the Kingdom of Jordan, plus perhaps some of Saudi Arabia.

History is full of examples of Muslim nations fighting other Muslim nations (Genesis 16:12 seems to fit this historical reality).  This pertains to Edom, because Genesis 28:9 indicates that Esau “married into” Ishmael’s household, and thus into Ishmael’s violent legacy (and that evil legacy of violence is noted in Obadiah 1:10, as “violence against thy brother Jacob”).

cute thai-indian girl sitting on her bike

So it is unsurprising to see Obadiah’s prophecy that Edom’s own allies will be part of Edom’s eventual (and violent) undoing. The Edomites are guilty of terrible sins of violence against the nation of Israel (1:10).

For your (thy) violence against your (thy) brother Jacob shame shall cover you (thee), and you (thou) shalt be cut off forever. In the day that you (thou) stood on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even you (thou) were as one of them. But you (thou) should not have looked on the day of your (thy) brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither should you (thou) have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither should you (thou) have spoken proudly in the day of distress; you (thou) should not have entered into the gate of My people in the day of their calamity; yea, you (thou) should not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; neither should you (thou) have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither should you (thou) have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.  (Obadiah 1:10-14)

Notice the Hebrew noun, used for Edom’s violence (ḥâmâs = Ḥamās) matches the name of today’s Muslim terrorist group Hamas.  Edom shall be punished for its ḥâmâs legacy, especially violence against the people of Jacob (i.e., Israel).

Obadiah recounts a few examples of Edomites harming Jews, such as when “strangers” (could this be describing Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian invaders, about 600 years before Christ?) invaded Jerusalem, Edomites sided with the invaders (1:11);  Edomites also then rejoiced at Jerusalem’s tragedies (1:12).   Moreover, Edomites plundered Jews’ substance when the Jews were invaded by enemies (1:13) – this is like modern-day looters who mercilessly steal from victims of tornados and hurricanes.

Furthermore, Edomites prevented (and even turned over) fleeing Jews from successfully escaping their pursuing attackers (1:14)  — this is like WWII Quisling-like traitors, who ruthlessly betrayed underground-harboring “Jew smugglers” (like the Dutch Christian family of Corrie Ten Boom).

For the Day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.  (1:15)

This is timeless justice (see Matthew 7:2 & 7:12 & 25:40; Luke 6:31), which climaxes when the Day of the LORD arrives.

Then, the rightful King, the Lord Jesus Christ (Earth’s only legitimate Kinsman-Redeemer) returns to Earth as He promised (fulfilling many O.T. promises), to reclaim and restore it to rightness (judging “the Mount of Esau”, inter alia), and Jerusalem will be restored and secured as Christ’s royal capital city, from where He will rule (on the throne of David, which is an earthly throne, not a heavenly throne!) over all the world.

For as you (ye) have drunk upon My holy, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. And they of the south shall possess the Mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. And saviors [i.e., deliverers] shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.  (1:16-21)

This coming restoration of justice on Earth is certain, “for the Lord hath spoken it” (1:18). The bottom line, as the battle of Armageddon ends (Revelation 16:16-19), is that Jerusalem will be restored to honor and security, because the Lord Jesus Christ justly overcomes all of His enemies, Christ starts a new 1000-year era, and “the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.”

Armageddon-battle.red-silhouettes

Conclusion regarding Obadiah’s prophecy

Esau despised God and God’s values, plotting violence against the channel of Abraham’s promised seed.  Centuries later, Esau’s progeny – in the nation Edom – proudly repeated similar profane wickedness, despising God and God’s values, practicing violent hatred for Abraham’s promised seed, including the ultimate illustration – the Idumean Herods repeatedly persecuting Jesus.  So God hated Edom (and loved Israel).

In particular, as Obadiah recounts (apparently referring to the devastating destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian invaders, which curtailed the rule of Jerusalem by Judah’s tribe – even to the present day!) the people who descend from Esau have a long track-record of guilt for persecuting God’s chosen people, Israel.  The ultimate examples of Edomite-versus Jew persecution occurred when the Idumean Herod dynasty kings persecuted the Lord Jesus Himself, as well as Christ’s apostles.

But God’s powerful judgment shall eventually come to Earth, including to Edom, as part of the larger judgment that occurs on the “Day of the LORD”, a horrendous time of punitive judgment (which includes the battle of Armageddon).

disaster-burning-meteor.doomed-city

Thankfully, Church Age believers will not be eye-witnesses to the horrific bloodshed and maiming and death that will dominate the Day of the LORD.(3)  

However, many of Esau’s progeny, formerly called Edom (and God knows who and where they are today, most likely living in Jordan and part of Saudi Arabia), are doomed to pay for their sin.  This (in concert with many other moving parts) ushers in God’s planned 1000-year era, when “the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.”

Obadiah1.4-Scripture

ENDNOTES

(1) David Olander, The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), especially pages 57-67.

(2) James J. S. Johnson, “Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward”, Acts & Facts, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward . This article cites Obadiah 1:4 in footnote #3.  See also James J. S. Johnson, “‘E’ is for Eagles and Eiders:  ‘E’ Birds, Part 1”, Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, 10-24-AD2016, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/10/24/e-is-for-eagles-and-eiders-e-birds-part-1/ .

(3) See 1st Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16-17; 5:1-5 & 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3, explained in David Olander, The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), pages 11-13.

Genesis25.34-Esau-despised-birthright

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beitzel, Barry J. The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985).

Hindson, Edward E., & Daniel R. Mitchell, editors. Zondervan King James Version Commentary – Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2010).

Jensen, Irving L. “Obadiah” (pages 17-26), in his Minor Prophets of Judah  (Chicago, IL:  Moody Press, 1975).

Johnson, James J. S., “Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward”, Acts & Facts, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward .

James J. S. Johnson, “‘E’ is for Eagles and Eiders:  ‘E’ Birds, Part 1”, Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, 10-24-AD2016, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/10/24/e-is-for-eagles-and-eiders-e-birds-part-1/ .

Olander, David. The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), especially pages 57-67.