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New Horizons

February, 2002: Marching to Zion

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People Who Say and Do Strange Things

Although the language of rap music is always changing, one thing remains constant. It is "virtually indecipherable to those outside the rap world" (Tonya Pendleton, "Under Raps: Decoding the Hidden Meaning of Hip-Hop," Philadelphia Daily News, July 28, 1997, p. 37). For instance, if someone says that he is "crazy straight" and that he is speaking "word life," he is talking about making good money and claims to be telling the truth (interpretation provided by Pendleton).

Of course, this is intentional. When the rapsters use their insider language, those on the outside won't understand what is being said, especially those who aren't hip (i.e., parents). While holding the outside world at arm's length, this subculture can continue to fortify and pass on its vision, narrative, and identity. Read more

Called to Suffering

There is a theme in the Bible so pervasive that it virtually defines the Christian life. That theme is suffering. Christians are not exempt from suffering. Pain and sorrow are real. We're not Stoics, Christian Scientists, or Muslim fatalists. Job confessed, "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1 NKJV). Calvin wrote perceptively: "There is no time in which God does not invite us to himself."

On their missions trip, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in the churches, encouraging and exhorting the disciples to remain true to the faith, telling them, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22 NKJV). Some encouragement that is! Paul taught the Thessalonians concerning their afflictions, "You yourselves know that we are appointed to this" (1 Thess. 3:3 NKJV). Read more

To Share Christ's Sufferings: Blasphemy or Blessing?

Most Christians agree in principle that in various degrees we must all suffer disease, disappointments, other hardships, and eventually death just because of God's curse on life and the world on account of sin. We also learn from the Scriptures to trust that the sufferings experienced by Christians are part of God's program of separating us unto himself from the world, and that no bad experience or any hostile creature can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:31-39). Furthermore, we can understand that some hardships are likely to occur "for his name's sake" when we openly confess Christ and live for him before the world, persevering against temptation and opposition.

But a due modesty (and perhaps a fear of irreverence) restrains us from claiming so baldly and boldly for our own, Paul's description of his apostolic sufferings in Colossians 1:24—"I fill up what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh on behalf of his body, which is the church." And this is only one of a number of places where Paul identifies the difficulties attending his career as Christ's own sufferings (see also 2 Cor. 1:5; 4:10-12; Gal. 6:17; Phil. 3:10). Read more

A Beast Before You

Sometimes our cows understand us. When we bring new hay, they come running. But they don't always understand us. Sometimes the cattle kick at us. Once a cow had twine wrapped around her hoof, and she didn't understand our attempt to take it off. She didn't understand being separated from the others, or being put in the shed, or our handling of her hoof, or our cutting away of the twine. She just didn't comprehend our concern for her, and she struggled against us.

We can act like cows when we don't understand how God is treating us. In Psalm 73:22, Asaph confesses, "I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you." Read more

Harold Camping's Kingdom Hall

In 1843, people sold their homes and businesses in anticipation of the imminent return of Christ. They were the followers of William Miller, a self-taught Bible student from New York. Miller understood the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 to refer to the number of years until the return of Christ. Previously, scholars had agreed that this prophecy was fulfilled in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. But Miller insisted that it would be fulfilled in his day.

In 168 B.C., just as God had prophesied through Daniel, the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes entered Jerusalem to punish the Jews. He put an end to sacrifices at the temple, and rededicated the temple to Zeus. Daniel 8:14 does not literally refer to 2,300 "days" (KJV, NKJV), but to 2,300 "evenings and mornings" (NASB, NIV, ESV). From the time that Antiochus entered Jerusalem until the temple was cleansed and proper sacrifices were reinstituted, roughly 2,300 days passed. The number of evening and morning sacrifices that were prevented totaled roughly 2,300 (of each). Either reading of the text, then, finds fulfillment in history. Read more

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