“… [Jacob’s] love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah…” (Genesis 29:30 NIV)
One of the most painful things in life is to love someone who does not love you in return. One person in the Bible who experienced unrequited love in this way was Leah, who was married to the Old Testament patriarch Jacob. He had actually been tricked into marrying her, even though it was her younger sister, Rachel, whom he loved. Jacob did end up marrying Rachel as well (we won’t go into a discussion here on whether these multiple marriages were advisable, even under the cultural traditions of the day); and Leah was left with the heartbreak of knowing that her husband did not feel for her what she felt for him.
Now Rachel, who was loved by Jacob, was unable to bear children at first; but Leah bore Jacob his first son. She thought, surely my husband will love me now. And she named her son, Reuben, which sounds like the Hebrew term for the phrase, “[God] has seen my misery.” She had a second son, and she named him Simeon—which means “One who hears,” because, she said, “the Lord heard that I am not loved, so he gave me this son, too.” Then she had a third son and she named him Levi, which means “attached,” for she thought, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” But, alas, it was not to be. How pathetic this seems from a natural point of view, and how painful it is that such a story would be included in the Bible!
Leah’s story is difficult even to read, for it’s impossible not to feel terrible for her. But the reason it is in the Bible is that we all have Leah/Jacob moments in our lives, don’t we? And people can be cruel. Perhaps it is in a marriage or some other relationship. It could be rejection from a husband or wife, a friend or coworker, a brother or sister— even a child who has grown up to be ungrateful and rebellious. Just because we serve the Lord does not mean that we are exempt from this kind of pain or that it doesn’t hurt deeply.
Thank God that Leah’s story does not end there. She bore Jacob a fourth son, and somehow the lights went on; because she named him Judah, which means “praise” in Hebrew. She realized, at that point, that Jacob was not all that! She didn’t have his love, but she didn’t need it; because she had the love of God, and that could not be taken from her! No wonder she said, “This time I will praise the Lord”!
“[Leah] conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ So she named him Judah…” (Genesis 29:35 NIV)
Leah, who was one of Jacob’s wives in the Old Testament, knew the deep pain of loving someone who did not love her back. That someone was her own husband. But after pining for Jacob and bearing him three sons in the hope that he would finally notice her and love her, Leah sadly realized that would never happen. More importantly, she finally understood that although Jacob didn’t love her in the way he loved her younger sister, Rachel, God did love her with an everlasting love! This caused her to exclaim, “This time I will praise the Lord”! And she named her fourth son, Judah, which means “praise” in Hebrew.
In the midst of pain— and rejection is painful— the best thing we can do is praise the Lord, as Leah did; and the Lord will help us to move on and be fruitful and joyful despite what is going on in our lives. He holds us and does not turn us away. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother, and he can understand the pain of love that is not returned. That is why Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He had come to his own, and his own did not receive him. Instead, he was rejected, spat upon, beaten and ultimately crucified; and he subjected himself to all of this pain, for you and for me. Oh, how he loves us! And oh, how he understands the pain of love spurned.
We are exhorted in Scripture to “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21). That means that we have to live and work and breathe and trust in God’s love for us every day; because the love of the Lord is steady, deep, and everlasting; it is sweet, strong, and unchanging. If we were to depend on people for our emotional well-being, our lives would be a roller coaster ride; but God’s love remains the same when we’re on the mountaintop and when we’re in the valley; when we’re successful and when we trip and fall.
In the end, Leah got her eyes on God and said, “I’m going to praise him!” And that is the secret for you and me; for the best way to be ministered to by the love of God when the enemy of our souls wants to take us to that place of despair is to praise the Lord for his endless love. While you may be experiencing hurt because of what someone may have done or said, you can have deep-seated joy within; because the Lord is not going to let you go. Jacob will just break your heart every day; but Jacob is not the be all and end all of life; Jesus is the one who must hold that place in every believer’s heart.
Oh, and one more thing: Rachel did end up bearing two sons to Jacob; and Leah’s and Rachel’s sons all became the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. Can you guess which was the tribe from which Jesus descended according to his natural lineage? That’s right: It was the tribe of Judah, which means “praise.” Little did Leah know what was in store for her progeny, all because she chose to look to God rather than others for fulfillment, direction, and purpose in her life. We can do the same.
Published February 7, 2020. Awhile back I came across an interesting headline in Forbes magazine: "Success Will Come and Go, but Integrity Is Forever." The article pointed out that building integrity takes years, but it only takes seconds to lose. How true.
Billionaire Warren Buffett says that when you're looking for someone to hire, you should look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. Then he adds, "But the most important is integrity, because if they don't have that, the other two qualities, intelligence and energy, are going to kill you."
Moses had integrity. The Bible describes him as "Moses the man of God" (Deuteronomy 33:1 NKJV). And when Moses the man of God temporarily left the scene, it was complete chaos. He left his brother, Aaron, in charge of the Israelites while he went up to Mount Sinai to receive the commandments.
But while Moses was away, the people went to Aaron and basically said, "Hey, you know what? We need something we can worship."
So Aaron told them, "Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me" (Exodus 32:2 NLT). Then Aaron took all of the gold, melted it, and formed it into the shape of a calf.
When the people saw it, they said, "O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!" (verse 8 NLT).
Meanwhile, Moses was up on the mountain. And when he came down and saw what they were doing, he said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?" (verse 21 NLT).
So why were the people worshiping a golden calf? They came from Egypt, and Egypt essentially was idol central. They had all kinds of images they worshiped, and the people were used to this sort of thing. So they reverted to it.
We see from this story that one man, Moses, lived a godly life and influenced millions of people. On the other hand, one man, Aaron, lived a compromised life and had a horrible influence on others.
Not only that, but Aaron lied. He said to Moses, "You yourself know how evil these people are. They said to me, 'Make us gods who will lead us. We don't know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.' So I told them, 'Whoever has gold jewelry, take it off.' When they brought it to me, I simply threw it into the fire – and out came this calf!" (verses 22–24 NLT).
George Washington said that it's better to offer no excuse than a bad one.
Aaron initiated this. He was responsible, but he didn't take responsibility for his actions. It was on his watch that he helped the people commit idolatry. He should have stopped them cold and refused.
And to make matters worse, he wrapped it in religious jargon to do away with the guilt. He said, "Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!" (verse 5 NLT).
This still happens. People will make sure they carry out a token spiritual action like giving thanks before a meal, but then they'll go commit a gross sin. God doesn't want to hear their grace at mealtime. Rather, God wants them to repent.
We find a fascinating passage in the Old Testament book of Amos, where God says, "Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living" (5:23 NLT).
Did you know there can come a point when you're singing praises to the Lord and God effectively says, "Stop already! I don't want to hear it. Your lifestyle contradicts what you're singing. What you're doing is offensive to me"?
That's what was happening when the Israelites presented a burnt offering and worshiped the golden calf. God was saying, "I don't want your burnt offering. I don't want you to worship false gods. I want you to love me with all your heart."
What a contrast Moses and Aaron were. Moses set an example that the people could follow, while Aaron set a bad example. Moses was known for his decisiveness, conviction and doing what was right. Aaron, on the other hand, was known for his indecisiveness, weak will and desire to fit in.
You see, Aaron didn't want to offend anyone. In the same way, sometimes we're afraid to make a stand because we don't want to offend.
Don't do that. Make a stand. Do what is right, not what is easy. In fact, sometimes when you do what is right, it's very hard.
A man or woman of integrity does the right thing whether or not someone is watching. When Aaron was with Moses, he was "godly." And when he wasn't with Moses, he was pretty ungodly. He gave in, and he led the people in their sin.
Sometimes we're the same way. When we're around strong believers, we're strong – kind of. But the moment we're away from them, we crumble.
Find strong Christians to be around. And in time, you need to be that strong believer yourself.
The highest compliment we can pay is to describe someone as a man or woman of God. May that be said of us, not just by casual acquaintances, but by our family and close friends, by those who know us well.
"I am only one, but I am one," said Edward Everett Hale. "I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."
Make your stand for what is right, and God will bless you for it.
Posted on December 13, 2019. Let's be honest. Some people will open their gifts this Christmas and be disappointed. They'll pretend to be happy when they're not.
But even if you do receive what you wanted, what you hoped for, most likely there will be a cooler, newer version of it that comes out in a few months. And over time, you may not even remember some of the gifts you received.
On the other hand, sometimes we receive gifts that we don't appreciate at the moment, but they grow more valuable to us over time. It might be something your child or grandchild made for you. Then five or 10 years later, that gift is precious to you.
Or maybe when you were a kid, your grandparents put money into a savings account for you instead of giving you gifts. You didn't like that very much back then because you wanted a toy instead. But then 25 years pass and you check your balance with the accumulated interest. You say, "Thank God for Grandma and Grandpa."
Like some gifts that grow more precious with the passing of time, the gift God has given to us, the gift of eternal life the Bible calls "the indescribable gift," only gets more precious.
God gives us a life worth living on this earth. Jesus came that we might have life in all of its fullness. Yes, it is the promise of life after death – and what a glorious promise that is. But it's also the promise of life during life. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10 NLT).
Christmas marks our lives. We think of last Christmas and remember loved ones that were with us that are not with us now. There's something about the Christmas season that causes us to think about these things.
And as we get closer to eternity, we start thinking a lot more about the next life. God's gift to us, the gift of eternal life, is the most valuable of all gifts.
Jesus came to be born in the manger and to give his life as a ransom for many by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Speaking of himself he said, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45 NLT).
He came to Planet Earth on a rescue operation to ransom us. We were under the power and control of the devil, and he paid the ransom, which was his own life. He paid that price so we could be made right with God.
The birth of Jesus Christ was such a significant event. And I think when you get to the raw truth of what took place, it's actually a far more appealing story.
We sometimes take the Nativity story and almost treat it as though it were a children's story. We forget that it's a historical event that actually happened.
Christmas has a lot to do with promises. Going back to the very beginning, God promised Adam and Eve that a Deliverer would come one day. God promised the prophet Isaiah that a virgin would conceive and give birth to the Savior. And God promised Mary she would give birth to that Savior. Evidently God wants us to know that he keeps his promises.
And Christmas is a promise. It's a glimpse of something greater. That's why we want to make every effort – and make sure we've leveraged every opportunity – to share the true Christmas story about the indescribable gift God gave to the world. Don't be intimidated by it or be afraid to share what you believe.
When you're with friends and family this Christmas season, take advantage of opportunities and leverage them for God's glory. Because as Christians, we want people to have this indescribable gift that we have.
Remember what this message is all about. It is not about the presents or decorations. It is not about any of that. The message of Christmas is Immanuel, God is with us.
At this time of the year, there are a lot of reasons people get depressed. Maybe their family has fallen apart. Maybe they're going through a divorce. Maybe they're alone. Maybe they're very sick. Things happen that can cause us to be in the doldrums.
Yet God is with us. He's with us in our pleasure, and he's with us in our pain. He's with us wherever we are, and he has everything that we need.
You are known to God and loved by God. He desires a relationship with you, and that is why he sent his son to be born in a manger on the first Christmas.
Jesus was born so that we could be born again. He left his home in Heaven to make a home in our hearts.
And that is what we're really longing for. We're not longing for Christmas but Christ, not merriment but the Messiah, not goodwill but God himself, not presents but his presence in our lives.
George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” When you tell the truth about homosexuality today, you can be sure that the central tools of deceit—name-calling and bullying—will be unleashed.
I recently was having a respectful conversation with a homosexual activist, but after I made a point he couldn’t answer he called me a “bigot.”
I asked, “What’s your definition of bigotry?”
He said, “Fear and intolerance.”
I said, “The definition of bigotry is not ‘fear and intolerance.’ It’s making a judgment without knowing the facts. I have written a book about the problems with same-sex marriage and the destructive medical consequences of homosexual behavior. So my convictions on those issues are based in fact not ‘bigotry.’ With all due respect, if anyone is engaged in bigotry it is you for judging my position as wrong without even knowing why I hold it.”
He was also falsely equating my opposition to a behavior as prejudice toward people who engage in that behavior. That’s the central fallacy in virtually every argument for homosexuality—if you don’t agree with homosexual behavior, you are somehow bigoted against people who want to engage in that behavior. How does that follow? If conservatives and Christians are “bigots” for opposing homosexual behavior, then why aren’t homosexual activists bigots for opposing Christian behavior? And if we are bigots for opposing same-sex marriage, then why aren’t homosexual activists bigots for opposing polygamous or incestuous marriage?
Everyone puts limits on marriage—if marriage had no definition it wouldn’t be anything. Recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman is not bigotry, but common sense rooted in the biological facts of nature. That’s why the state recognizes marriage to begin with—not because two people love one another but because only heterosexual unions can procreate and best nurture the next generation.
Everyone also puts limits on behaviors. But opposing behavior is not the same as opposing or “hating” people. In fact, to really love people, we often have to oppose what they do! Parents know this, and all former children know it as well.
Celebrating behavior that leads to disease and an early death is closer to hate than love. According to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control, homosexual men comprise more than 80 percent of sexually transmitted HIV cases despite comprising less than 2 percent of the population. The FDA says that men who have sex with men have an HIV infection rate 60 times higher than the general population. Why should we be encouraging behavior that results in such tragic outcomes? If I have good reason to think you are on the road to destruction—if a truck is about to run over you—the only way to love you is to urge you to get out of the street. If I tell you to keep walking down that road—that I celebrate the road you’re on—how could I hate you more?
But isn’t homosexuality like race? No. Race has nothing to do with behavior, but homosexuality is a behavior! Skin color affects no one, but destructive behavior affects many. Moreover, sexual behavior is always a choice, race never is. You’ll find many former homosexuals, but you’ll never find a former African-American.
So if you don’t approve of a man because of his race, you are a bigot. But if you don’t approve of a man’s destructive behavior, you are wise.
The “born that way” argument doesn’t work either. Not only is the evidence for being “born that way” non-existent, even if it were true, it should have no impact on our marriage laws.
First, after many years of intense research, a genetic component to homosexual desires has not been discovered. Twin studies show that identical twins do not consistently have the same sexual orientation. In fact, genetics probably explains very little about homosexual desires. How would a homosexual “gene” be passed on? Homosexuals don’t pass on anything because homosexual unions don’t reproduce.
Second, while desires are not a choice, sexual behavior always is. So regardless of the source of sexual desires, people are certainly capable of controlling their sexual behavior. If you claim that they are not—that sexual behavior is somehow uncontrollable—then you have made the absurd contention that no one can be morally responsible for any sexual crime, including rape, incest, and pedophilia.
Third, the “born-that-way” claim is an argument from design— “since God designed me with these desires, I ought to act on them.” But the people who say this overlook something far more obvious and important— they were also born with a specific anatomy. We can’t know if our desires are inborn since we can’t remember anything from birth, but we are 100 percent certain that we were born with our anatomy. So why do homosexual activists choose to follow their desires rather than their anatomy? Ignoring your desires may be uncomfortable, but ignoring the natural design of your body is often fatal.
Fourth, being born a certain way is irrelevant to what the law should be. Laws are concerned with behaviors not desires, and we all have desires we ought not act on. In fact, all of us were born with an “orientation” to bad behavior, but those desires don’t justify the behaviors. If you are born with a genetic predisposition to alcohol, does that mean you should be an alcoholic? If you have a genetic attraction to children does that mean you should be a pedophile? What homosexual activist would say that a genetic predisposition to anger justifies gay-bashing? (Don’t blame me—I was born with the anti-gay gene!) Certainly, those that oppose alcoholism, pedophilia and gay bashing are not “bigots”—they are wise.
The bottom line is that the standard arguments for homosexuality and same-sex marriage don’t work. That’s why some homosexual activists will continue to smear conservatives as “bigots” in order to bully them out of the debate and even out of their jobs. In America today, it’s much easier to win with demagoguery than evidence. If you convince the majority that your opponents are “bigots,” then you automatically win even if you’re the bully actually practicing bigotry (read the bigotry and bullying by homosexual activists of conservative but suspended “Teacher of the Year,” Jerry Buell, here, and my own case here).
Will they get away with their bigotry and bullying? Not if Americans start thinking. Thinking people realize that equating homosexuality with race, though presently fashionable, is just as fallacious as calling marriage based in biology a form of bigotry. As G. K. Chesterton pointed out, “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
(This column first appeared on Townhall.com) Follow Frank Turek Blog at CrossExamined.org
Posted on October 25, 2019. We've all experienced indecision at one time or another. Some people are indecisive by nature. Generally, I'm not one of those people. In fact, I tend to be overly opinionated about too many things. I have very strong opinions on the best food to eat, the best restaurants, the best this and the best that. Ask me about anything, and I'll probably have an opinion.
Whether you order a burrito or a burger for lunch, it isn't a life-altering decision. But there are decisions that are much more important in life. Your career choice is a big one. Whom you marry is a very important one.
But next to marriage, your biggest decision of all is what you do with Jesus Christ. There is no more important decision than that one.
In the New Testament, we find the story of an indecisive man, a man who let others do his thinking for him. He tried to find middle ground and appease a bloodthirsty, fickle crowd as well as his own troubled conscience. His name was Pontius Pilate.
The consummate politician, Pontius Pilate tried to make everyone happy and thus made the worst imaginable decision. It's a decision he no doubt regretted for the rest of his life. He faced a question every person ultimately will face: What will you do with Jesus?
After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to the house of Caiaphas. He already had been cruelly beaten and rushed through a hastily prepared appearance before the religious elite of the day, the Jewish Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin was sort of like the Supreme Court of today. The difference was they were religious rulers, because government and religion were intertwined at this time. The Sanhedrin had great power and could decide whether you lived or died.
Jesus appeared before the former high priest, Annas, who had a godfather-like presence over the functioning high priest, Caiaphas. Also, Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, so it was a family affair. Having confirmed that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, they sent him to Pontius Pilate.
Pilate was a not a religious guy. He was sent to rule over the Jewish people, and he didn't like his job. He probably wanted to go back to Rome where all the power and influence were. But he was sent to take on this task and ended up presiding over the most important trial in human history: the trial of Jesus Christ.
He wanted nothing to do with Jesus or with these religious debates. Normally around this time, Pilate would have been kicking back in his winter palace at Caesarea, sort of the Palm Springs of Israel.
But he had to handle this situation with Jesus, whom he had heard something about. At the time Pilate also was under surveillance by order of the emperor, because he was suspected of being a bad governor.
So there was Pontius Pilate, under a lot of pressure from Rome not to mess up and under a lot of pressure from the religious leaders due to past run-ins. That made for a very unusual situation when Jesus was brought before him. And like politicians often do, Pilate tried to find a compromise.
Pilate had heard it all – every lie, every excuse – but he didn't hear it from Jesus. Why? Because Christ was innocent. In fact, Pilate was unnerved at Jesus' calmness in the face of his own death. Jesus talked about truth to the man who did not believe in truth, saying "I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true" (John 18:37 NLT).
But Pilate said, "What is truth?" (verse 38 NLT).
Like a lot of people today, Pilate was a moral relativist. He probably didn't believe in absolute truth. He was a pagan, Roman man, yet truth incarnate was standing before him. All Pilate wanted to do was get out of the situation.
I don't think Pilate disliked Jesus in particular. Maybe he even admired him a little. But for Pontius Pilate, this was all about his political career. If he let Jesus go, it would anger the religious leaders and possibly result in some kind of riot. Then Rome would discipline him – maybe even execute him. For Pilate, Jesus was a political hot potato.
And Pilate was hearing a lot of voices on the matter. His wife had a dream and told him to have nothing to do with Jesus. The voice of the bloodthirsty multitudes cried out, "Crucify him!" And the voice of his own conscience, no doubt, attested to the innocence of Christ. Then he heard the voice of Jesus himself.
So what did Pilate do? He washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, "I am innocent of this man's blood. The responsibility is yours!" (Matthew 27:24 NLT).
There are people who, every time the subject of faith, the Bible, or anything related comes up, just don't want to talk about it. They don't want to deal with it. That's what Pilate was doing, and it ended up damning his soul. He shared responsibility in the worst crime in human history.
Ultimately, when we stand before God, it won't be a sin question; it will be a Son question. It won't be a matter of whether we lived a good life and our good deeds outweighed our bad ones. It's all about Jesus Christ, God's provision for us to get into Heaven.
Someone might say, "I'm not against Jesus. I just don't necessarily believe in all the things that Christians say Jesus is. I sort of admire him, though."
But Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matthew 12:30 NKJV). Christ makes radical claims. He says that he is the very son of God. He says that he is the only way to Heaven.
Do you believe that? Then follow him. Get out of that no-man's-land of indecision and make your decision. Stop letting other people do your thinking for you. The decision Pilate had to make is a decision you have to make as well. What will you do with Jesus?