Kristin is a member of Edgerton Protestant Reformed Church in Edgerton, Minnesota. A 1999 Scholarship Essay.
The advent of the World Wide Web, or the Internet, is undoubtedly the most extensive global change that our world has experienced in the last decade. Like the television in the 50’s, the Internet of the 90’s has swept across the country, entering homes at a rapid pace. Homes without access to the Internet have become more and more difficult to find. President Clinton’s goal that “every home be connected to the Internet” by the 21st century appears to be being met. Any major business, organization, church, or other group is also sure to have its own website. Students of all ages are quickly replacing books with the web as their primary source of information. An individual who wants to find out the weather forecast or last night’s baseball scores is now more likely to turn to the Internet than to the TV or newspapers.
There is no getting around the fact that the Internet, or cyber world, is now a real, integral part of our society. The question for us as Christians now is, “How do we evaluate and respond to this new, inescapable phenomenon?” Some, recognizing its usefulness, its wealth of information, and its unprecedented aid to communication, have heralded it as “the best thing since sliced bread.” Others, recognizing the great dangers and obvious pitfalls which it brings, have been quick to proclaim it “of the devil,” declaring that it should have no place in Christian homes.
As Reformed (and always reforming) Christians it is our calling to be fully informed and aware of both the strengths and weaknesses, blessings and dangers of the Internet, so that we might be able to use it wisely and carefully, to the glory of God.
The dangers of the Internet are real and many, and need to be taken very seriously. We all know that our world is full of all sorts of gross sins and sinful lifestyles. Every abomination imaginable is taking place somewhere “out there.” For those of us who live in small, “Reformed” communities it has been possible to live a semi-sheltered life, without encountering many of these gross sins. The birth of the cyber world, however, is making this much more difficult. The Internet contains absolutely every type of worldliness, making access to it as easy as the push of the button—for adults and children alike. The Internet is the world at our fingertips.
This constant access to anything in the world has fast become an addiction for thousands of individuals. The cyber world activates and reinforces “real-world” addictions such as gambling or pornography. Countless men/boys have turned to the web as an easy and unobtrusive way to gratify their sexual lusts. At the mere click of their fingers they have all the unclothed women they could want. Numberless women, on the other hand, flock to the chat-lines and on-line forms of communication (addictions unique to the Internet), where they can flirt, fantasize, and pour out their hearts to unseen “soul-mates.” Online relationships evolve rapidly and passionately as women search for the communication and intimacy that may be missing in their own lives.
Needless to say, these addictions of both males and females have already broken up many marriages and hurt countless more. One devastated woman wrote how her husband divorced her after finding an online “soul mate” on a Christian bulletin board service. He was convinced that it was “God’s will” and was married a week later to this new woman he’d never met. His former wife wrote, “I never thought this kind of thing could happen, but it does, even in Christian families.
Another news clip renders a woman found dead and buried near the trailer of a man she’d met online, and had gone down to meet (without her husband’s knowledge). Still another report tells of a young 12-year-old boy, who shot and killed his mother and then himself, after she took him to a counselor to talk about his Internet addiction problem.
The number of alarming reports such as these is growing quickly. It is easy for us to think that this is all stuff that is happening “out there,” but we need to be warned and to realize that the dangers are also very real for us. Our sinful natures, too, could easily become addicted to the sinful allurements of the Net.
Apart from the fear of Internet addiction or gross misuse, for the Christian parent or teacher there also is the question of whether or not it is possible to safely use the net at all (for educational purposes and such). Many parents and teachers, seeking to assist in their child/student’s education have found it very difficult to use the web without running into obscenities along the way. USA Today told the story of a mother who recently ran a web search with her daughter. She entered the words, “I love horses,” and an article on bestiality was included in the results.
Researchers at Focus on the Family found similar results. The researchers ran Internet searches using the most innocent words they could think of, such as “kids’ toys.” But every Internet search engine they tried failed to limit its selections to kids or toys. Innocuous sites such as “Kids’ World 2000,” “Cabbage Patch Kids” and “Dr. Toy’s Best Children’s Products” were always accompanied by a site(s) such as “Erotic Escapades” or “Sex Hunters.” If selected, these lurid sites would reveal explicit pornographic images without so much as a warning.
Many companies are selling “blocking software” to protect kids/teens from encountering these objectionable sites. However, while these devices may provide a measure of assistance, we cannot expect them to provide anywhere near full protection. Consumer Reports recently analyzed the five biggest Web “babysitters” on the market. The results of their study were very discouraging. After selecting 22 easily accessible, objectionable sites they tried to access those sites while using the blocking software. Six of them were still accessed while using Cyber Patrol. Cybersitter let eight slip through. Surf Watch came up first, with only four sites appearing, but Internet Explorer failed to block out 19 of the 22, and Net Nanny didn’t block any at all. A catch-all device is currently no where to be found. All forms of sinfulness are not only accessible on the web for us and our children, but can sometimes be almost difficult to keep from encountering.
The world of filth contained on the web is enormous and all-encompassing. Pornography, violence, Satanism, bestiality, every form of religion or cult, gambling, and many other types of sinfulness are all found on the web. The danger of addiction to the Internet, its chatlines, its forums, or any of its other devices is open to each one of us, by nature.
While the evils of the Internet are great and many, we also need to look at the positive aspects of the web. There are also many good, plausible virtues of the cyber world which can be used for many beneficial purposes. While we do not “look for the small bits of good among the bad” (such as looking for the good in pornography) as many advocates of common grace do, we can and should distinguish the good from the bad in every area of life. As with the television or radio (which also contain an abundant share of filthiness), the Internet contains both junk and “good stuff.”
The positive aspects of the Internet are many. As I sit typing this article, Widor’s Toccata in F, taken from the Internet, plays in the background. The complete works of Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Handel (including the complete Messiah), among most other composers are also available on the Internet. Sites such as the “Cyber Hymnal” have almost every hymn available for our listening enjoyment, along with valuable information about the composer and why/when the hymn was written.
Our Protestant Reformed web site has been used to inform many individuals about our churches and the Reformed truths of the scripture. Its current records show that it has been cited 18,878 times during its few years of existence so far. Articles/pamphlets which it contains can also be used for our own edification, as well as for witnessing purposes. Other denominations also have their own similar sites which we can use for our enrichment and education, as well as to aid our ability to have a knowledgeable and beneficial discussion with someone from another denomination.
An article in the Reader’s Digest told the story of a young boy whose life was saved after his mother found the correct diagnosis for his illness (which local doctors were unable to identify) through an Internet “cry for help.”
These are only a few, specific examples of positive uses of the Internet, but there are countless more. Its current, world-wide information stores are immensely useful in doing any type of research. Teachers and students everywhere are finding its resources invaluable as a research/information aid. For example, a fourth grade classroom I recently visited was studying the country of Switzerland. Through the use of the Internet it was possible for each of the students to connect to a Swiss email pen-pal their age. They also were able to keep tabs on any current events/weather there, as well as to order food samples from shops in Switzerland—all online. This classroom study provides merely one example of the valuable role the Internet can play in education and research.
The Internet also provides a wealth of practical, everyday uses. The maps from a recent trip I took were all taken directly off the Internet. If we had chosen to fly instead of driving, an easy way to find out all the cheapest airfares there would have been to check on the Internet. The weather forecast, current news, ads, and yellow pages are all found on the Internet for quick and easy, practical usage.
The electronic “chat-rooms” (whose negative uses were mentioned earlier) also have many positive applications. Family get-togethers, forums for sick children to share experiences, long-distance prayer groups, and cyberspace home-school classrooms can all be included in the list of positive applications in this area.
The high-speed level of communication possible through these chat rooms as well as electronic mail have done wonders in increasing the amounts of communication between family and friends from around the world. They are also a very beneficial and useful tool in the area of mission work.
As you can see, the positive, beneficial uses of the Internet are many. We must, however, be aware of all the sinful filth and common misuses of the Internet in order to use it properly. For the Christian who is aware of the dangers and is determined to use the web properly, it is possible to steer clear of the trash found there. It should not be necessary to overlook or cast aside this great gift from God because of the evil that is found alongside of it. If, however, there is a Christian who struggles within himself to fight against dangers of the internet, perhaps he needs to listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:9, “If thine eye (in this case, the Internet) offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”
As a general rule we do well to listen to Paul’s words in Romans 14:14, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus Christ that there is nothing unclean of itself but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”
As with every area of life, our Christian calling concerning the use of the Internet is to be on guard, aware of the dangers, cautious and wise in our use. As I mentioned earlier, the Internet is the world. It contains everything the world contains—both positively and negatively. Our calling, as with the rest of our walk in this world, is to be discerning. The dangers are real and many but should not hinder us from using this gift of God. When used wisely and properly the Internet can be an immensely beneficial tool used for our edification, the benefits of those around us, and God’s glory. Soli Deo Gloria.
*1997 scholarship essay
An increasing move is being made in our day to leave the traditional form of worship, which we know, for new, contemporary forms of worship. What are these trends? WHY are they present? Are they wrong? What does the Bible have to say on this subject? How are we to respond?
First of all, what are contemporary forms of worship? Essentially, contemporary worship is a form of worship that makes its appeal to the unchurched people who have little or no church background, or to young people who are bored with the traditional forms of worship. In an effort to draw in more people and/or to keep the old, many churches have begun to adjust their services in an effort to make them more appealing to these groups.
Having spent one year at Dordt College, I have seen this very plainly among the young people there. “Praise and Worship” services held in the chapel there on Sunday evenings became a church replacement for many of the students there. These “services” consisted solely of singing, primarily of shallow songs filled with emotion- based words and repetition. The audience spent the majority of the time clapping, waving their hands, swaying, or hugging “the friend next to them.”
Although a popular church replacement among students, those services were not officially labeled as such. Other Dordt students attended a newly revised actual church service in town to which 1/2 hour of praise and worship style music had recently been added.
Another example can be seen in Pella, Iowa. According to Rev. Mark Beach from the First Christian Reformed Church (CRC) there, a 5th CRC is organizing there with the deliberate intention of implementing a “contemporary worship style” in order to draw unchurched people to its services. He comments on that:
“You start to change things in your services. The non-religious haven’t much of a feel for the holiness of God, so you do away with silent prayer and expressions of our littleness. Secularists don’t like to confess their sins, so you remove the service of penitence. Without confession of sin, you hardly need the grace notes of assurance of pardon: out it goes. In general, you assume that the non-religious like things simple and upbeat. That’s where much of the popular culture is, after all, so away with lament, away with hard questions, expressions of anguish, dark ambiguities of any kind. While you’re at it, away with creeds and confessions, away with explicit references to Christian doctrine, or to the history of the Christian church.”
In essence what these churches are doing is trying to make church less religious to appeal to the less religious people. This of course is impossible. Making a church service non-religious is like making a basketball game non-athletic. The more it changes, the more it loses its original form.
In addition to the few examples I have given, there are many other variations of modern contemporary services. Many churches substitute “dialogue” for sermons, which can be either groups on stage discussing a topic, or else discussion between the minister and the congregation. Some churches substitute dramas for the entire service, so that “Go Down Moses,” for example, may replace a sermon on Exodus. Or we hear news about “Clowns for Christ” and their fantastic services for Christ.
The exact form of contemporary worship methods varies slightly from church to church, but all contemporary methods of “worship” have some basic characteristics.
First of all, the idea that the unbeliever needs a boost of therapeutic self-esteem is central. In other words, they believe that the unbeliever needs to be built up emotionally from church in order to enjoy it. Thus the “negative,” unpopular teachings of total depravity or our sinfulness are done away with. No mention is made of God’s holiness or justice, but only of His love, and how He can build up our lives and solve our problems. One who has attended such a service might say, “Now I understand what the Christian faith is all about: it’s not about repentance, or humbling one’s self before God—it’s got nothing to do with boring doctrines; it’s not about the hard, disciplined work of mortifying our old nature and learning to make God’s purposes our own. The Christian faith is mainly about celebration, fun, personal growth, and five ways to boost my self-esteem.”
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, they all express the attitude that man has the right to make up his own rules regarding worship. Not Scripture, not God, but man is the authority.
WHY are we seeing these trends? What reasons do people give for putting their innovations above God’s? Michael Horton, in his book, Putting Amazing Back into Grace, lists 6 reasons commonly given by advocates of contemporary worship styles. They are as follows:
1. The Evangelistic Motivation: what is attractive to the unchurched?
2. The Contemporary Argument: worship has to keep up with the times; the archaic turns people off.
3. The Pragmatic Argument: we have to do what it takes to bring the people in and keep them there.
4. The Domestic Argument: children get little out of the conventional service, so let them have their own.
5. The Emotional Argument: the services are dull! Do something to liven it up!
6. The Ecumenical Motivation: people learn from each other.
Churches improve by sharing with other churches. The pulpit and pew both contribute. One person “up there” can’t do it all alone. One denomination can’t know it all. Old ways don’t have all the answers. Let’s share!
While these arguments may overlap, they clearly show the type of thinking which underlies the current contemporary church movement.
What must be our reaction to these attitudes? Quite plainly, we can do none other than to reject them wholeheartedly. The Bible alone must be our guide throughout this life. We must never pretend to be wiser than God by setting our own methods of worship based on what we think is best, or will draw the most people. The Heidelberg Catechism speaks concerning this in Lord’s Day 35,
“What doth God require in the 2nd Commandment? That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His word.”
The Bible is plain on what is required for worship— the preaching of the Word. That must be the central part of our worship, not singing programs, lively clapping and arm-waving, emotion-centered personal growth messages, or any other form of “worship.”
I Corinthians 1:21 says, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” What kind of preaching? Of a buddy God who loves us all and will solve all of our problems if only we will allow Him? Verse 23 answers that question for us: “We preach Christ crucified.” The preaching of Christ crucified is the preaching of a just and holy God who hates and punishes sin. Christ’s death is the clearest example of His just hatred for, and punishment of, sin. As this passage says, to the world this is “foolishness.” “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (vs. 27).
We can know that God does not tolerate worship which He has not commanded from a few examples given us in the Bible. The first case seen is God’s rejection of Cain’s offering. Since his offering was not what God had commanded, He had no tolerance for it. Likewise, the kingdom of Israel was torn by God from Saul because he offered the sacrifice without waiting for Samuel to do it as God had commanded.
Thus we can see, that contemporary forms of worship are wrong, first of all, because they pretend to be wiser than God who has chosen the preaching of Christ crucified to be the means of salvation.
Secondly, the contemporary forms of worship are wrong because of the view of God which they display. Man’s worship is determined by his understanding of God. Michael Horton says, “What we believe about God and salvation ultimately determines the object, focus, fervor, and direction of our worship.” Contemporary forms of worship show, through their worship, that they view God as a cream puff, or a big buddy, rather than a holy God. This is shown through their services where the focus is always on man and His welfare, rather than the great and holy God. Their worship reflects that they view God as kind and compassionate (which He certainly is), but also that He is harmless, morally insincere, and robbed of any holiness that matters. This is not the Biblical view of God which we must have. If we have the correct view of God, it will certainly become manifest in our worship to Him.
How will a proper attitude toward God become manifest in our worship to Him? John 4:24 speaks clearly concerning this: “God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” We read in Psalm 29:2 to “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” That verse tells us what is beautiful in God’s eyes. He delights in holiness, and that is the mood He commands us to be in for worship. Psalm 95:6 records, “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker.” As we can see, the Bible repeatedly reveals God to us as a holy God whom we must worship with deep reverence and awe, not with the happy-go-lucky, care-free, man-centered attitude shown in the contemporary forms of worship which seek to appeal to man.
In another place in his book, Michael Horton asks the following questions:
“If Jesus Christ entered at the back of our church on Sunday morning, would we all clap our hands and dance and sing, ‘Happy days are here again’? Would we show Him our ‘God is rad, he’s my dad’ sweatshirt? Or would the room be suddenly filled with awe-stricken silence?”
The answer is obvious. Our worship must be reverent or it is not directed to the real God of the Scriptures. It must be obedient in every aspect if it is to have God’s blessing.
It is important, too, to remember that the Reformation has always stressed the principle that we are to include in worship services only what is COMMANDED by God. We may not include anything as long as the Scripture does not directly forbid it. Rather, we may include something only if God clearly introduced it. Only God has the authority to determine how He is to be worshipped.
We must not accept these new, contemporary forms of worship, but rather, let us “stand fast, and hold the traditions which we have been taught” (II Thess. 2:15). We must be sure also to teach these truths to our children so that when they are old they “will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). May our worship of God always be God-centered, based on what He commands in His Word, worshipping Him as holy God. May we always “serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28, 29).
Beach, Rev. Mark. The Outlook.
God—The Holy Bible (KJ Version) Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1975.
Gritters, Rev. Barry. Public Worship and the Reformed Faith. Byron Center: The Evangelism Society.
Horton, Michael. Putting Amazing Back into Grace. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996. ♦
This is the first prize winner of the Beacon Lights writing contest in the high school and younger category.
Sarah plopped into her favorite easy chair and closed her eyes. What a wonderful feeling just to lay back and relax! It was this great carefree feeling that she looked forward to each Sunday. Just a chance to ease off and catch her breath. “Wasn’t it great of God to give us this day?” she thought.
Down the hall her parents were taking their traditional Sunday nap. Her younger brother John (14), and sister Rachel (6) were also in their bedrooms dozing. The whole house was quiet.
Quietness always nudged Sarah’s mind into the thinking zone, usually thinking about all the ups or downs of the past week. Today, however, her mind was on the sermon that morning. It just refused to leave her mind. It had been on observing the Sabbath day. Sarah had always been quite sure that this was one of the commandments that she always kept. She never worked on Sunday. But the minister’s sermon made her feel as if she were doing something wrong. He had said that resting on Sundays does not mean we are just to relax and do nothing. He said we should be busy with spiritual activities, such as reading the Bible, studying scriptures, or praying. “Surely he can’t mean a nap on Sunday is wrong!” Sarah thought indignantly. “What may we do on Sundays?”
Determined to define her boundaries, Sarah prayed a quiet prayer. “Lord, teach me Thy purpose with regards to this day,” she prayed. “Help me to do Thy will and not my selfish own.”
Quietly, so as not to waken her family, Sarah slipped on a pair of sandals and crossed the road to her Uncle Lee and Aunt Pat’s house. She knew Uncle Lee would be awake.
As if he’d been expecting her, the door opened on the first knock. He greeted her with a warm smile. “Hello Sarah. Nice to see you. Won’t you come inside?”
“Good ol’ Uncle Lee, always there when I need him,” thought Sarah, slipping out of her sandals and heading towards the living room.
“So what has prompted this surprise?” Uncle Lee inquired.
“Actually, I need to talk,” Sarah confessed. “I would like to discuss the sermon this morning. I’m not sure I fully understood it.”
“Glad to talk,” Uncle Lee responded, “Where would you like to begin?”
“Well,” Sarah began, “I guess I just want to know what Sunday is all about. If it’s not meant to be a day of rest and relaxation, what is it? Doesn’t the Bible say that Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest?”
“Sarah, Sunday is a day of rest. We know that is what the Bible says. What you need to understand is what the Bible means by ‘rest’. The Bible is not referring to physical rest, but spiritual rest. As Christians we try very hard to walk in God’s ways throughout the week, but it takes much energy. It is like a runner who runs many miles. He may start out with much energy but he can’t go on forever. He needs to stop and take a rest. After a thorough rest with some water or food he will be able to run some more.
“Christians are the same way. We need Sundays. That’s why God gave them to us. We can fight about what is legitimate or not legitimate to do on Sunday, but we are missing the point! Sunday is our day to become spiritually refreshed and ready to face another week. During the week we have so many things to worry about. We are so busy with our jobs, food, clothing, or friends that it becomes hard to keep God always before us. We need Sundays to draw closer to God. In drawing closer to God we realize our purpose here in life. Realizing our purpose, we become calm and trust God to take care of our troubles here below. Without Sundays we would soon lose sight of the big picture and would soon become more concerned about the here and the now.”
There was a pause as Uncle Lee allowed these words to sink in. As if on cue, Aunt Pat appeared with a tray of milk and cookies. “Help yourself’ she said, pulling up a chair. For a few minutes there was silence as all three, lost in thought, munched on Oreos.
Finally Sarah spoke. “You know, I’ve really been wasting my Sundays by just sitting around, haven’t I? Maybe that is why you always seem to be so much closer to God—because you spend so much more time with Him.”
“There is more to it than just how you spend Sundays,” Uncle Lee replied thoughtfully. “It’s a lifestyle. When God works in one’s heart, causing him to realize that in spite of his great sin God chose him to be His own child, paying for his sin by the death of His own son… Well, it causes you to want to do everything for Him. Not only are Sundays spent with Him, becoming spiritually refreshed for a new week, but throughout the week as well we seek to please Him all the time. We spend time with Him in the morning and at meal times. Personal devotions are also very important.”
“So it’s like this,” Sarah said, “During the week it’s like we are running a race. To keep us going spiritually strong we need to spend time in devotions with God. Sundays are our refreshment breaks where we spend the whole day being spiritually built up, by going to church and studying the Bible, etc. This way we become spiritually energetic, ready to face a new week, or run a new race.”
“Exactly!” exclaimed Uncle Lee with a broad smile. “Or another way you could look at it is like this: We are soldiers. During the week we have to fight in a battle. On Sunday we prepare our weapons and ammunition, making sure we are totally prepared for the battle ahead. Daily devotions are just little stops or rests long the way.”
“What about when we are on vacations?” Sarah asked anxiously. “We are going to be in Florida next weekend. I’ve been looking forward to it all year. Is it okay to go to the beach just one Sunday of the year?”
“Let me ask you a question, Sarah, and let you answer your own question. Remembering Sunday is just one of God’s commandments. Another is not to commit adultery. How will you feel if you marry a man who claims to love you heart and soul for fifty-one weeks a year but then says, ‘Honey, the fifty-second week I’d like for myself. You are satisfied with fifty-one faithful weeks, aren’t you?”’
Sarah laughed. “It’s obvious that no wife would accept such an arrangement! Either a husband loves his wife all the time or he is an unfaithful louse!
“And… I guess that’s the point with Sunday, too, right? If we truly love God we want to be with HIM, our spiritual husband, as much as possible. If on ANY Sunday we are separated from Him and His family, we should feel terrible on that Sunday. So it should never be a CHOICE to be away from His church on Sunday.”
“Well said, Sarah! Let me add this, that being in church is the starting point of all Sunday observance. That is where Jesus Christ promises to feed us. He speaks to us through His ministers. If we have devotions all day long but skip church—unless necessary—we are not loving and obeying our Husband. Nor can we expect His blessing on that lifestyle.”
“I guess that means that I’ll have to give up my vacation to Florida,” said Sarah sadly. “But,” she added, her countenance brightening, “it’ll definitely be worth it.”
“Maybe you should talk to your folks, Sarah. They might make arrangements to be back by Sunday. But if not, you’ll know you’ve done the right thing, and God will certainly be with you and bless you.”
“Okay. Thanks so much, Uncle Lee, for your help! I now clearly see the purpose of Sundays. I can hardly wait to get home and share this with my family!”
“Glad to be able to help, Sarah. Just remember one thing before you go. Remember that one hour spent with God is far more valuable than a lifetime spent without Him” ❖
“About Mount Zion go,
Her tow’rs and ramparts tell;
That ye her strength may know,
Mark her defenses well.
Her royal palaces behold,
That ye her glories may unfold.”
Jerusalem was, is, and most likely shall for years to come be an important city. In Bible times Jerusalem was God’s “Holy City”. It was in Jerusalem that God’s holy temple stood in all its splendor, symbolizing God’s presence with His people.
The city was first called “Salem” and was ruled by the priest-king Melchizedek at the time of Abraham. Melchizedek was an early type of Christ to whom men gave tithes, so already then the city had spiritual significance.
Later David, through his captain, Joash, captured the city. Beginning with David, the royal line continued in Jerusalem, sitting on the king’s throne, until finally Christ came to fulfill the kingly line. Christ rode into Jerusalem as the final King. David’s royal line continued in Jerusalem until 587 B.C. when the king of Babylon took over Jerusalem, destroying the Temple and leaving this beautiful city nothing but debris. In 538 B.C., forty-nine years later, King Cyrus of Persia allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem. They once again took up the task of building the walls and repairing the city. Years later they had the city back on its feet.
By 400 B.C., it was no longer kings who ruled Jerusalem but the temple priests. It was near this time that the Greeks tried to rule Jerusalem. The Jews fought Greece and won complete independence. Although they had fought off Greece, in 63 B.C. Romans took over. They had power over Jerusalem all the way up to, through, and even after Jesus’ time.
Later the Muslims and the British took over. It was not until early 1967 that Jerusalem was made fully independent.
Today Jerusalem is a large, important capital with many industries. There is a wide variety of clothing there and many more modern things. The wailing wall and other ancient places in modern Jerusalem cannot ever compare with the beauty of Jerusalem in Solomon’s day, when Jerusalem with Mt. Zion as its center represented the Church. Even the Jerusalem of Solomon’s day cannot begin to be compared to the beauty of the heavenly Jerusalem which is coming. The earthly Jerusalem was only a type of that glorious Jerusalem in heaven, where God dwells perfectly with His people.
“Zion on the holy hills,
God Thy Maker loves Thee well;
All thy courts His Presence fills,
He delights in thee to dwell.
Wondrous shall thy glory be,
City blest of God the Lord
Nations shall be born in thee,
Unto life from death restored.”
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This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]
Although it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been immersed in news coming from Japan about the 2020/2021 Olympic games, it’s still worth considering how these events are understood in the modern worldview of our country. The “Top Story of the Day” on Monday, August 9 (at least according to my newsfeed), was how […]
One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]
At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]