July 2020

Good Tidings

Top ImageYesterday, I received both good tidings and bad. One was a forwarded WhatsApp voice message and the other an internet link.

Isaiah 52:7

Three weeks ago the Holy Spirit led me to re-read Isaiah 52:7: ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

What I took away from this was that

I should focus my writing, at least for now, on encouragement, hope, and love. I guess that this is a pretty good mandate for all of us.
So, bearing this in mind, I now wondered how I should respond to the very disturbing voice message passed on to me.

The Voice Message

The message was from a man who claimed to have been informed by his GP that those living in Gauteng were about to experience the full might of the pandemic that has stalked us for the last three months. He went on to say that the virus was causing bizarre conditions not previously witnessed and that we should all place ourselves back into Level 5 lockdown. He added a lot of fear-inducing detail and advice. The timing coincided with the latest pronouncement by our Minister of Health of what he called the pending COVID-19 ‘storm’, and this gave the voice message an appearance of legitimacy.

The ‘bad news’ went viral and I even had it forwarded to me by a friend now living in the United States. Fortunately, the doctor who was ‘quoted’ as the source got to know about the message and immediately disclaimed it. The guilty party then owned up and made a public apology, claiming that the message was only intended for his immediate circle to shock them into being more careful. Hmmmmm!

My Response

I am writing about this because the dissemination of this sort of ‘news’ is such a serious issue. The message must have caused fear and anxiety to rise in everyone who heard it. This wave of fear will continue to many more people as it continues to be passed on, despite the disclaimers made. It was a blatant lie in parts and, at best, misinformation from someone not qualified to advise others on such matters. Any caution it could have instilled was overwhelmed by the negative effects of fear, anxiety, and anger.

However, it has made me think about the many people who must have received the message but did not pass it on. So, to those folks (hopefully you dear reader) I say:

  • Well done for exercising common sense, for applying logic and identifying the several ‘red flags’ that indicated that the message was ‘fake’.
  • Thank you for not passing it on ‘just in case’ it was true; you prevented many people from experiencing anxiety, fear, and confusion.
  • Thank you for acting responsibly.

The Good News Internet Link

The second communication I received yesterday was from my son. He sent me THIS. I scrolled down over page upon page of good-news stories from around the world. Not anecdotes or testimonies, but mini-presentations of things happening in our world that are positive, innovative, productive, and world-bettering. Now, this is something worth forwarding to others.

The Gospel

The news items in the ‘beautifulnewsdaily’ collection are economic, medical, financial, and so on. We Christians have good news that tops them all and is always worthy of being shared.

God reigns. Peace has been restored between the Godhead and humanity through Jesus Christ of Nazareth. All who believe can be saved. God is with us now and we can be with him eternally.
So, again: ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”’

Footnote

I have previously written in more detail about the real plague of false news and I strongly recommend that you read THIS, even if for the second time 😉

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TruthTalks: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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‘Wisdom has built her house. She has hewn out its seven pillars’.

In THIS post Dr Christopher Peppler talks about the possible origins and links between the pillars found on earth today and then reflects on what he considers the true biblical meaning of the seven pillars of wisdom.

If you have ever wondered about the reference to wisdom in Proverbs 9:1, or are curious about the strangeness of the 7 major obelisks found around the world today and their heritage, then you will love this TruthTalks podcast episode. Please subscribe, like, and let others, and us, know if you do.

Click on the play button to listen or go to www.truthistheword.com for more. Until next time, Admin

#covid #endtimes #RaptureAnxiety

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The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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“The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” sounds like the title of an unpublished Dan Brown novel. There is one famous book by that title, written by T.E.Lawrence (a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia). However, what I want to write in this article is neither a novel nor an autobiographical historic account.

The phrase comes from Proverbs 9:1, which reads, ‘Wisdom has built her house. She has hewn out its seven pillars’. A little while ago I decided to do some research into this verse. I thought this would be an interesting distraction from the COVID-19 obsession of our days. It took me down some strange paths, but in the end, it yielded insights that apply to us right now. So join me in my little journey of discovery.

Not Much of a Clue

I discovered that few people have much of a clue of what the seven pillars represent.
Some say that the text presents a figurative ‘house’ where wisdom sets out her banquet of good food. Others say it refers to the seven pillars thought by the ancients to support the flat disk of the earth. Yet others speculate that they are a reference to seven sections of the book of Proverbs. Some Jewish scholars teach that they are the seven sciences of the ancient schools of knowledge, the ‘hokmot’ in rabbinical literature… and so on.

I do not think that any of these proposals make much sense, either logically or biblically. However, some commentators have attempted to locate the meaning of the seven pillars in the bible. There are two main lines of thought here, one from the Old and the other from the New Testament. The idea that James 3:17 is a list of the seven pillars of wisdom is unlikely to be valid mainly because it assumes that James is giving the inspired interpretation of Proverbs 9:1 without any real evidence for this or reference to the proverb.

Seven Pillars of Proverbs 8:12-14

The second attempt to find the meaning of the pillars in scripture is the contention that Proverbs 8:12-14 lists seven virtues attributed to wisdom. However, this passage contains no reference to pillars. We would have to combine Prudence and Discretion to construct a list of exactly seven. We would also have to ignore other elements of the passage that others could take as additional ‘pillars’ of wisdom.

Jeremiah 43:13

So, after exploring those cul-de-sacs, I back-tracked and turned my attention to the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah 43:13  records how the people of Israel were wanting to establish an alliance with Egypt. However, God warned them, through Jeremiah, that he was about to send the Babylonians to punish Egypt. Verse 13 reads: ‘He will break down the sacred pillars standing in the temple of the sun in Egypt, and he will burn down the temples of Egypt’s gods’.

The ESV version of the bible translates the words ‘sacred pillars’ as ‘obelisks’. Most translations provide ‘Heliopolis’ as an alternative to ‘temple of the sun’. This set me off down another path of discovery.

The Obelisks of Heliopolis

An obelisk is a monolithic (Carved from one rock) four-sided pillar with a pyramid-shaped capstone. They were mostly huge constructions weighing many tons and reaching up into the sky. Some scholars believe that their creators styled them after ancient phallic symbols. However, the imagery is more of a giant needle piercing the heavens and connecting the physical to the spiritual worlds.

A suburb of the modern city of Cairo, Egypt has what remains of the temple city of Heliopolis. Archaeologists have found evidence of the location of Sacred Pillars. One stood in the centre of the layout and the others were in pairs in front of the entrance to the temple. Roman emperors later scattered five of these across the globe.

One giant pillar still remains in the Cairo dig, five were exported to different locations around the world, and one did not leave the quarry.

The Location of the Five Exported Pillars

Istanbul, Paris, London, and New York each have one obelisk. A fifth stands in Saint Peter’s square in the Vatican (Rome). Cairo is home to a sixth one (still on its original site).

So that makes six accounted for and currently standing. The seventh was to be the largest of all, but it cracked during the process of hewing it from the quarry and so was left there in its incomplete form.

Interestingly, the largest of all obelisks ever made was erected in Washington in 1848 and is known as the Washington Monument. So, the largest planned sacred pillar in Heliopolis was never completed, but the largest of all obelisks ever made was constructed millennia later in Washington DC.

Now here is where the story sounds like it was written by Dan Brown…

Symbols of Idolatry

Dan Brown, and many others, have speculated on the possibility of an ages-long international conspiracy to control the world. Illuminati, Billionaires, China, and even reptilian shape-shifting aliens feature in these mythical tales. One of the key ideas presented is that these powerful conspirators have established secret signs of their dominance in plain sight in the major power centres of the world. if you consider that:

  1. Rome, and the Vatican in particular, is the power-centre of Roman Catholicism, a major international religious system.
  2. London is the financial power-centre of Europe.
  3. New York the financial capital of North America.
  4. Paris is the power-centre of one of the former major world colonising powers and is today Frances’s most important centre of commerce and culture.
  5. Istanbul used to be called Constantinople, the capital city of both the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire, and once a Crusader state. It was greatly contested by both Islam and Christiandom as a power-centre and economic and cultural hub.
  6. Washington is the political and military power-centre of the United States of America.
  7. Cairo is the site of the original temple of the sun-god Ra.

Absent from the list are any important locations in China, Russia, Australia, Japan, and the 3rd world in general.

A Whole Lot of Breaking Going On

Perhaps I need to state that I do not endorse conspiracy theories of any kind – they irritate me. I have given you the above information because I find it interesting and because it sets the scene for what I want to set out now as the main point of this article.

Sometimes God sends judgement upon people and nations that do not respond to his calls to repent and change; Noah’s flood and the Babylonian scourge of Egypt (Jeremiah 43:13) are evidence of this. However, God does not pour out judgment upon his faithful people and nor does he execute judgment on the ungodly without first warning and exhorting them to repent.

I think that we are currently in a period where God’s warnings are sounding out loud and clear and judgment is near. The devastation of the world’s ecology, the drastic decline of truth, integrity and morality in most of society, plus inequality and neglect of the poor and needy are all signs of this. And now the COVID-19 plague is most likely the latest of several biological warnings to humanity.

Severe Warnings Solicit Change or Obdurance (stubbornness)

One of the lessons from history is that when dire warnings come, some change for the good while others become even more committed to their ungodly ways (Revelation 16:11).

I do not think that God sent Isis terrorists to fly hijacked airliners into the Twin Towers in New York. However, I do believe that through that disaster he worked on the hearts and minds of individuals and nations to prompt them to carefully consider lifestyles and priorities. The world-psyche changed on that day in history. I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is another such event. Politics, business, education, and the church will never be quite the same again; and hopefully, we will be better for what we learn and experience.

The True Pillars of Wisdom

As I concluded my journey from ‘pillar to post’ I arrived at three significant passages in the New Testament that reveal the true pillars of wisdom. They are:

  • 1 Timothy 3:15-16 ‘God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth’.
  • Galatians 2:9 ‘James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars…’
  • Revelation 3:12 ‘Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God’.
The church is the true Pillar of Wisdom in a world that is being shaken and warned;  the solid support of truth, integrity, love, and wisdom. And all who are born again of the Holy Spirit, who are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, are part of the church.
We have an important role to play in these times whether we physically meet for worship or are locked in or released into society.  Either way, we can live and speak out our role as pillars of society. We do this by pointing others to Jesus as Saviour and Lord and by speaking and living what he modelled and taught.

These are difficult and challenging times for everyone, but for those who constitute the church, these are significant and important times of change.

So stand tall O pillars of wisdom.

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TruthTalks: Pray to God and Love Each Other

 

1 Peter 4 :7-11 summarises as ‘pray to God and love each other’

In times of confusion and crisis, it is difficult to know what to do. Are the end times upon us? How do we handle ourselves and speak to others? Should we warn them or fill them with hope? Is this perhaps an opportunity as well as a trying time? Is there good news at the end of this all?

In THIS post Dr Christopher Peppler offers practical advice and good Godly sense on how to get through this new society we have found ourselves in. To listen to the podcast which talks of it and goes into a bit more detail please click on the play button below.

And of course subscribe, like and share with others. Until next time,

Pray to God and love each other,
Admin

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Pray to God and Love Each Other

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If I had to summarise 1 Peter 4:7-11 in seven words it would be ‘pray to God and love each other’.

I have been pondering on this passage for a couple of weeks now and appreciate Peter’s simple yet inspired directives for community living. What he wrote two millennia ago is good for any generation, but particularly applicable in this Corona-pandemic world in which we now live.

This post is more of a short bible study than an article. I have been blessed by studying this passage of scripture and I hope you will too. Here is the text:

1 Peter 4:7-11 ‘The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen’. NIV

The Structure of the Passage

Sometimes it helps to break a passage down into its parts. In this case, a simple structure would be:

  • Vs 7  (I)  The end is near
  •          (II)  pray with understanding
  • Vs 8  (III) Love one another because love covers shortcomings
  • Vs 9  (III.1) Offer hospitality
  • Vs10 (III.2) Serve each other with the gifts God has given
  • Vs 11(III.2.1) Preach as though God were preaching
  •          (III.2.2.) Serve in the strength God provides
  •          (IV)  To God be the glory

The End Is Near

Throughout the New Testament, believers are reminded that the end is always near. We don’t know when we are going to die and we don’t know when Jesus is coming again. So, in a practical sense, the end is always at hand. This is very real in these current times when death seems to be lurking everywhere around us.

Peter wrote this letter just seven years before the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, so the end of the Jewish religion as they knew it was very much at hand. In some ways, our situation today is similar in that our daily lives and the practice of our church life will probably never be the same again.

The way we meet and interact will be impacted for a long time by the new reality.

There is something else in the first words of this passage that we need to note. The word ‘end’ in ‘the end of all things is at hand’ is the translation of the Greek word ‘telos’, which is equally well translated in other contexts as ‘goal’. This reminds us that there is a bigger picture to be seen. Creation is moving rapidly towards a divine goal, the eradication of evil and the creation of a new HeavenEarth. These present times are trying, and in some cases heart-breaking, but they are part of an escalation towards the ultimate good. This escalation includes warnings and tribulations as well as spiritual revival.  We are part of it; we are the witnesses and the interpreters of God’s great purpose.

Pray With Understanding

The second part of verse 7 is complex, but the essential meaning is that we should be clear-headed and alert to what is happening around us to be able to pray with understanding. Prayer is communicating with God and seeking his heart, mind and will. The Lord Jesus included in his model prayer the request that God’s kingdom should come and that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We can best pray this when we are aware of what is happening in our world. The current pandemic has brought with it a degree of irrationality and fear that is not clear-headed. We need to guard our minds and hearts against this.

Another way of understanding this complex verse is the way the NLT puts it as,

‘be earnest and disciplined in your prayers’. In times like this, we can’t do much to change our circumstances, but we can pray; so now is a time for disciplined prayer.

Love One Another

Verse 8 starts with the words ‘Above all’, which is best understood as, ‘most important of all’. The verse then goes on to instruct us to love each other deeply, indicating that the injunctions that follow are not superficial, but deep and meaningful expressions of Christian love.

I am pretty sure that the phrase ‘for love covers over a multitude of sins’ does not mean that acts of love pay for the sins in our lives. We cannot earn God’s favour as this is freely given in Christ Jesus. My understanding is that Peter was drawing from Proverbs 10:12, which reads ‘Hate stirs up trouble, but love covers over all wrongs’. If we love someone enough then we are prepared to overlook offences, moods, and irritations. In this way, we can get along with each other and express a genuine attitude of self-giving towards them.

Offer Hospitality

One way to love one another is to offer hospitality. In normal circumstances offering accommodation or meals to other Christians is natural and an expression of our love for them. In these times of social-distancing, face masks, and special restrictions, this form of hospitality is mostly impossible. However, what we can do is:

  • Contact others by Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, phone etc. just to say we are thinking of them, praying for them, and wanting contact with them. Many people are experiencing loneliness and isolation right now and we can help with acts of techno-hospitality.
  • We can also organise the delivery of food or treats for folk we know are deprived; in times of great need, this form of hospitality is almost as good as a supper around your table.

Serve Each Other With The Gifts God Has Given

The manifestations and ministries of the Holy Spirit in and through us are administrations of God’s grace. The first example Peter gives of demonstrating love is to offer hospitality and the second example is to serve each other with the ability God gives. Peter then provides us with two applications:

Preach As Though God Were Preaching

The word chosen in verse 11 is ‘speaks’ but the context indicates that preaching rather than just general talking is in mind here. Peter uses phrases like ‘uttering the oracles of God’, which the NIV translates as ‘the very words of God’. Not all are called or equipped to preach, but those who are should express deep love to the children of God by committing themselves, as much as they can, to speak as though God himself was speaking. The greatest joy for any preacher is when someone says to them after a sermon, “It was as if Jesus were speaking directly to me”. More than anything else we need in these days is to hear God speaking directly to us.

Serve In The Strength God Provides

The second application of ministering to others is to serve them with the strength that God provides. Preachers speak under the anointing of the Holy Spirit so that others may hear as if God himself were speaking to them. Those who serve others in the strength that the Holy Spirit provides, lovingly minister as though God himself were ministering. Only some of us can preach, but all of us can serve.

To God Be the Glory

Peter ends his instruction to us by stating that the purpose of speaking and serving is that ‘in all things, God may be praised through Jesus Christ’. Then he ends with the words

‘To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.’

The anointing that enables a preacher to speak as though God himself were speaking is from the Holy Spirit, not the preacher. The power to serve others in a way that they become aware that God himself is ministering to them is from the Holy Spirit, not the one performing the service. When people realise this, then it is not the preacher or the server they praise, but Jesus Christ the Lord.

Conclusion

So, what can we do in these days when the end seems palpably near? We can:

  • Pray with understanding and with minds and hearts cleared of fear and confusion.
  • Love one another by:
  • Offering caring contact and techno-hospitality
  • Serving each other with the Holy Spirit’s gifts, by:
  • Preaching as though God himself were speaking
  • Serving in the strength he provides.

In this, God and not fear and confusion will be glorified.

May God bless us and be with us.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.