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AnthemProtest 250By now, everyone has heard the news reports about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem, the president tweeting that such behavior is offensive, and that the kneeling players should be fired. This resulted in a media backlash claiming that the players have free speech rights protected by the Constitution and that the president is encouraging the violation of those rights.

As a U.S. Army Veteran who served eight years active duty and nine years in the Reserves, I bring this issue up not to take a position on the kneeling, nor on the president’s statements, but because this is an excellent moment for us to practice the skill of discernment. I want to stimulate people into thinking for themselves, to pierce through hyperbole and hysteria, and to differentiate the reality from mere perception—to separate fact from fiction.

First, let’s lay out the facts as I know them:

  • Some players have knelt during the National Anthem to make a statement of protest
  • Some U.S. citizens have found this irritating, disrespectful, and offensive
  • The emotional discomfort that some experience, and their subsequent reactions, is the purpose of the kneeling
  • The outrage and complaining against the kneeling has further fueled…

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It is the holiday season and I just received this email about Bible holy-days (holidays):

I recently watched the "God and your brain" seminar DVD. It was very informative and I want to thank you for putting together such insightful information. During the seminar the topic of God's Law came up, and I'm wondering if you could clarify your thoughts on whether Christians should observe the 7th day Sabbath, and the Feasts (Passover, ULB, shavuot, tabernacles, etc.). Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.

Thank you for your question.

I separate the Sabbath, which began in Eden, from the Feast Days, which began 2,500 years later at Sinai.

My understanding of the instructions to Israel, regarding their annual festivals and sanctuary service, is that it was a grand play, a theater, a drama, with costumes, stage, props, and a script (Torah); all designed of God to enact the greater reality of the plan of salvation. The annual feast days were basically a yearly progression from the entrance of sin into the world, through the history of God’s work to heal and save and the ultimate elimination of sin and the restoration of the universe into unity with God again.…

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A theologian recently posed the following question to me:

What was the purpose of the "ceremonial law"? Why is it "changeable" (or "fulfill-able; what was "fulfilled)?

When White says "The Holy Spirit saw good not to impose the ceremonial law on the Gentile converts, and the mind of the apostles regarding this matter was as the mind of the Spirit of God," (AA194), that implies there was a time when it WAS imposed, with serious consequences for disobedience. How would your approach handle such situations? (I use this example as your EGW quote above specifically excludes the ceremonial). Sincere question, if you've the time.

Thank you for your sincere question, and one that is very reasonable, given how God HAS used imposed laws in human history, as you mention.

Keeping in mind all the previous Bible and EGW quotes about God’s law being the law of love, the simple answer is – because sin damaged the mind of mankind such that we could no longer properly comprehend God and His law, thus He stepped in and communicated in a way they could comprehend, in order to protect and lead them back to Him and His design.

As Paul states:

“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made NOT for the righteous, but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me” (1 Tim. 1:8-11, NIV).

Why? Because we needed a diagnostic instrument to inform us of the sick condition of our being, as Paul says elsewhere, we would not know what sin is if it wasn’t for the law.…

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I have been thinking a lot about how God is a God of love and not a cruel God. I have gotten to a point that i cant think past, What was the point of God putting the tree of the Knowledge of good and evil in the garden. I just don't see the point in it. the only thing that could come out of that tree was death but still God put it there.

To put it into perspective its like a loving father creating the perfect environment for his new born child to live and grow, but then he puts chocolate bar in the middle of his house that he has injected poison into. Would not a loving father protect his children from death rather than putting it in the middle of their habitat?


A confused listener

Thanks for sharing how this message has been a blessing. The key to understanding the Tree of Knowledge is understanding God’s law. Do you see and understand God’s law as the design parameters upon which life is constructed, like the law of gravity, laws of thermodynamics, law of liberty, law of worship, law of love, the construction protocols for life, etc.? Or, do you consider God’s law to be arbitrary rules, like human laws, with no inherent consequence for breaking them except as arbitrarily determined, legislated, and enforced?

If we consider God’s law like human law, then we look at the Garden and wonder what is going on. We falsely conclude that God was setting them up, or God introduced something harmful in their path, just waiting for them to stumble over it.

But there was nothing poisonous about the fruit; it was not physically harmful in any way, so the analogy of the poison candy doesn’t really work. That comparison makes it appear that something dangerous and deadly was put in the garden. But this is not so. The tree was not dangerous or deadly. What was dangerous and deadly was to break trust with God, to believe lies and act on them, to deviate from His design for life, and to choose to change themselves from beings operating upon the protocols of perfect love to beings operating upon fear and selfishness.…

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