Biblical Insights

Why Was Zacharias Made Mute and Mary Left Unpunished?

In Luke 1, we have two intersecting pregnancy stories: Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, followed by Mary the (eventual) mother of Jesus. Zacharias was a priest who is described with his wife Elizabeth as being "righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord" (v. 6). However, they were childless and advanced in years.

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On one particular day, when Zacharias entered the temple to perform his priestly duties, he encountered the angel Gabriel. The angel told Zacharias that Elizabeth would bear a son who would turn many people's hearts back to the Lord. But Zacharias questioned Gabriel: "How will I know this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years" (v. 18). Because he questioned Gabriel, Zacharias was made mute until his wife gave birth to their son.

On the surface, this hardly seems fair for at least three reasons:

  1. What the angel said to Zacharias is most unusual. Zacharias and Elizabeth were too old to have children. Wouldn't most of us doubt such a message if we received it?

  2. Zacharias had lived righteously and served the Lord faithfully all of his life. Shouldn't he be given a break for being a little weak in his faith just this once?

  3. Later in the same chapter of Luke's narrative, Mary likewise questions Gabriel when she is told of her pending miraculous pregnancy. However, unlike Zacharias, she is not punished.

I believe that there are at least three possible reasons Zacharias was made mute and yet Mary was unpunished. First, we must consider the nature of the recipients of Gabriel's message. Gabriel may have held Zacharias to a higher standard. After all, he was a priest with many years of walking with the Lord, while Mary was simply a teenager. If anyone should have been able to trust God's abilities to do miracles, it would be the well-trained and well-experienced Zacharias.

Second, the nature of the miracles to be believed was different for Zacharias and Mary. Zacharias was asked to believe something highly unlikely (an old couple having a child), while Mary was asked to believe something impossible (a virgin having a child). The angel might be patient with a person for questioning the impossible, but questioning a holy angel from heaven about something that only rises to the level of 'unlikely' shows a lack of faith from an otherwise righteous man like Zacharias. This rings especially true since Abraham and Sarah's miraculous pregnancy exists as a very prominent precedent of the Lord doing the same miracle.

Finally, and most conclusively, there seems to be a difference in the nature of the questions raised by Zacharias and Mary. After Gabriel, a holy angel of heaven, told him what would occur, Zacharias asked, "How will I know this?" I wouldn't have been surprised if Gabriel had replied, "Because I just told you! That's how you know!" Gabriel's response to Zacharias gives us an important clue as to what was really occurring in Zacharias's heart: "You shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words..." (v. 20).

Mary's question for Gabriel was quite different: "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" (v. 34). It appears that she was not doubting Gabriel's message or integrity (or by extension, the Lord's abilities to accomplish this miracle). Rather, the mechanism of her becoming pregnant did not make sense to her since she had never known a man. Gabriel's response again informs us as to the hidden, spiritual reality occurring in the heart of the one who received the message: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God" (v. 35). In other words, Gabriel explained to Mary how she would become pregnant without knowing a man. Gabriel also told Mary the result of the miracle: she would give birth to the Son of God.

In the end, things worked out well for both Zacharias and Mary. Mary, of course, received the privilege and honor of giving birth to and raising the Messiah of the world. Zacharias found his punishment for his unbelief to be relatively brief. Once he regained his ability to speak, he was filled with the Holy Spirit as he, in reference to his son that would become known as John the Baptist, made one of the most beautiful and meaningful proclamations in all of Scripture:

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us.
In the house of David His servant—
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
Salvation from our enemies,
And from the hand of all who hate us;
To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:68-79).

The 68Mission: Part 3 - What Does It Look Like?

This is the 3rd article in a series called "The 68Mission." The series examines the potential impact of Micah 6:8 on the church today. In "Part 1 - God's Case Against His People," I described how Micah 6 is presented as a covenant lawsuit that God is bringing against Israel in Micah's day. In "Part 2 - The Nature of God's Requirements," I examined the three timeless commands God gives to all people: do justice, love steadfastly, and walk humbly with God.

How does Micah 6:8 relate to churches today?

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An application of Micah 6:8 would have us live in three directions at once: toward God (though humility), toward one another (with steadfast love), and toward the world (with justice). We must always be mindful that God created us for relationships. In Genesis 1:26-27, we relate to God as our Creator, to each other as male and female, and to the world by dominion/management of it.

Micah 6:8 is fundamental to being spiritual. A parallel New Testament verse that describes our spiritual obligation is James 1:27: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." Echoing Micah, James compels believers to let their faith in God permeate their lives and, by extension, the church.

Much has been written about the role of doing social good in the name of Christ without the gospel. And much has been written about sharing the gospel without showing Christ's love through our deeds. We must do both! Peter described Jesus as going about "doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him" (Acts 10:38). And Jesus did not become a human only to be an example of someone who did good deeds; he died and rose from the grave to make us right with God (cf. 1 Peter 3:18).

Could a life—or a church for that matter—be centered on the three principles of Micah 6:8? Could our very reason for existing to be on mission with God to do justice, love steadfastly, and walk humbly? This is The 68Mission.

The 68Mission practices justice by caring for orphans and widows, standing up for those who cannot defend themselves, and rescuing those who are trapped in destructive lifestyles (such as those captured in human trafficking). The message of the gospel must be intrinsically tied to these kinds of actions.

The 68Mission loves steadfastly by becoming a part of a holistic, missional Christian community. A 68Mission church would not be a church with small groups, but a church of small groups—where each member is encouraged to use his or her giftedness to impact people with the love and gospel of Christ. The groups would not focus simply on understanding Bible content, but on the transforming power of God's Word on our relationships with God, one another, and the world.

The 68Mission walks humbly with God by truly submitting to his Word and his Spirit. Like the Jews in Berea, it receives "the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so" (Acts 17:11).

A 68Mission church does not have a number of disparate tasks, programs, or functions, but the mission of God is its function. At its heart, it doesn't exist for the sake of programs, nor does it use programs to try to make disciples of the nations. Instead, it creates disciple-makers through relationships—disciple-makers who come to understand that every day they live is another day to do justice, love steadfastly, and walk humbly.

The 68Mission: Part 2 - The Nature of God's Requirements

This is the 2nd article in a series called "The 68Mission." The series examines the potential impact of Micah 6:8 on the church today. In "Part 1 - God's Case Against His People," I described how Micah 6 is presented as a covenant lawsuit that God brought against Israel in Micah's day.

Micah 6:8 establishes God's most fundamental and universal demands on humans. The requirements placed upon ancient Israel here are essentially the same requirements placed on us. These are not requests, and God has not changed his standards.In an exposition of this verse, Elmo Scoggin writes, "Three very clear, simple, straight-forward principles are delineated.... Each of the principles is to be incorporated into the routine of daily living. They are not to be 'tacked on' to conduct. They are to be as characteristic of the godly person's conduct as they are of God's own conduct."

Principle #1: Do justice. To do justice means to right wrongs. It is looking out for the welfare of our neighbors. In short, it is to treat people like God treats people.One of the best examples from Christian history of someone doing justice was William Carey. He is most widely known as the father of the modern missions movement, but in India he is famous for helping to end the practice of Sati, in which a recently widowed Hindu woman was burned alive on her husband's funeral pyre.

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Principle #2: Love mercy. English translations use different phrases to capture this idea: "to love kindness" (ESV), "to love faithfulness" (CSB), and "to love mercy" (KJV). The Hebrew word used here is the word hesed (pronounced ke-sed), which includes the idea of faithful love in action. It is an incredibly rich word that usually refers to God's lovingkindness expressed to Israel: covenantal, unending, and unconditional. This kind of relationship begins as God seeks after humanity with love and mercy.

When we practice hesed love, we reach out with God's love to everyone: even the most unlovable and most difficult people.

Principle #3: Walk humbly. This command is directed toward our relationship with God. We walk humbly as we recognize God as the Lord of all things. Just as we would be humbled to enter into the palace of a great king, God is the King of all kings. Not only does he allow us to be his humble slaves, but he has even adopted us into his family (Romans 8:15; John 1:12).

Scoggin understands our humility before God to be the bond that ties the first two principles together. He summarizes Micah 6:8 this way: "Walking with God, by his rules, in his paths, after his manner, in proper modesty and humility, with all hindrances removed, so that one is prepared or well-pleasing to God, is possible only when and if one is right with his fellow human beings and with God."

Next in The 68Mission: Part 3 - What Does It Look Like?

The 68Mission: Part 1 - God's Case Against His People

In a recent study of Micah 6:8, I came across a 27-year-old journal article ("An Expository Exegesis: Micah 6:6-8," Faith and Mission Vol. 2, No. 2) written by Elmo Scoggin on the passage. This important verse is part of a larger context—a "covenant lawsuit." God has brought a lawsuit against his people, and he plays four different roles as the case progresses: prosecuting attorney, bailiff, judge, and plaintiff. The list below is a very brief summary of the verses leading up to Micah 6:8.

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  • Micah 6:1 - The defendant, Israel, is called to the stand and challenged to speak up in self-defense.

  • Micah 6:2 - The court issues various witnesses—the mountains and the foundations of the earth—to hear the Lord's complaint.

  • Micah 6:3 - With Israel on the stand, the Lord asks, "How have I made you too weary to serve me?"

  • Micah 6:4-5 - Each year, Israel recited God's deliverance of their lives at Passover. Now, the Lord uses the very same tactic and turns the tables on Israel. He recites their history himself. Scoggin writes, "Why, then, not return, repent, and serve God with joy? Surprise! Israel has become so insensitive to the deeper spiritual values that she now misses the point entirely... The glamor of formal, ritualistic religion has acted as a narcotic that has desensitized God's people to the essence of true religion."

Then we get to the heart of the matter.

In Micah 6:6-7, Israel offers a flimsy defense. "With what shall I come before the Lord?" is more literally translated "With what shall I confront the Lord?" Israel was basically complaining, "How much will you demand of me, God? Do you want me to be crushed by religious burdens so that I bow down before you, God? Shall I sacrifice thousands of year-old calves? Would you be satisfied with ten thousand rivers of oil? Maybe I should offer child sacrifices! How demanding can you be, God?"

Scoggin continues, "What had actually happened was that the Israelites had become very religious in a formal, institutionalized way. They had impressed themselves at least with their religiosity.... Israel knew beyond any doubt that offerings that have no basis in ethics and morality, that have no deep roots in character are themselves an insult, an abomination to God. Israel knew that true religion...must issue from a character base built upon and confirmed by ethical behavior."

Then, in Micah 6:8, the prophet answers Israel: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

God cannot be pleased through the sacrifice of thousands of rams, tens of thousands of rivers of oil, or child sacrifices. And every human heart already knows this instinctively. Moreover, God has made it clear in his Word.

Next in The 68Mission: Part 2 - The Nature of God's Requirements

The Rarity of Repentance

The tenth chapter of the biblical Book of Ezra begins this way:

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"While Ezra prayed and made this confession, weeping and lying face down on the ground in front of the Temple of God, a very large crowd of people from Israel—men, women, and children—gathered and wept bitterly with him. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope for Israel. Let us now make a covenant with our God to divorce our pagan wives and to send them away with their children. We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law of God. Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action” (Ezra 10:1-4).

The longing of every true and faithful servant of God's people is to lead a repentant congregation that stands ready "to proceed in setting things straight." Repentance, however, is rare in our day.

Repentance is dependent on at least three factors being present within us:

  • We must be willing to examine our lives according to God's standards.

  • We must be willing to be humbled.

  • We must be willing to pay the cost of setting our past errors straight and living life God's way from this point forward.

Are we willing to repent? If so, God will visit us and heal us.

How To Understand and Study Scripture

Is there a proper method to studying Scripture? If so, who says that it is the right way?

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The Bible itself tells us how to study it. If you follow three simple principles revealed in one New Testament verse, you'll be on the right path to understanding and studying it for a lifetime.

Avoid These Bad Bible Study Habits

Some people mistakenly believe that Scripture can be instructive but not always authoritative. In other words, they pick and choose what they want to obey. If you're not going to obey God, your heart is not in a position to study His Word correctly. You might have a level of intellectual understanding, but Bible study is more than an intellectual exercise.

Others, sincere in their desire to obey God, nevertheless make a mistake that hinders their own spiritual growth: They try to apply Scripture without first taking the time to understand it.

God's Principles To Studying His Word

In 1 Timothy 4:13, the apostle Paul instructs Timothy with these words:

"Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching."

This verse gives us three clear principles that must be a part of our Bible study habits.

Step 1: Observation = "reading"

Observation answers the question, "What does this passage say?" Many Christians who face difficulties only open their Bibles when all else has failed. In fact, one reason Christians today face so many difficulties is because they have failed to avail themselves of the wisdom of God's Word prior to problems arising.

When we read God's Word, we must accept it for what it says. It is both intellectually dishonest and self-deceiving to knowingly read our preconceived ideas into Scripture. We must never allow our fear of having our beliefs or traditions challenged keep us from observing what the Bible says. As the very Word of God, it is truth, and it stands on the authority of God Himself.

Step 2: Interpretation = "teaching"

Interpretation answers the question, "What does this passage mean?" This is the step skipped most often. On numerous occasions I have often observed Christians read God's Word and then immediately apply it to their own lives without even considering that the passage has a meaning independent of their circumstances. The result is a game of spiritual gymnastics. Here's the problem: If you don't know what a passage means, how can you know how it applies to you?

Every verse and passage of Scripture has a particular meaning, even if that meaning has levels of depth not readily apparent to everyone. To understand a passage to the best of our ability, we must make a good effort to understand its historical and grammatical context.

John MacArthur, in his excellent brief book How To Study the Bible, lists four principles that are foundational to interpreting Scripture:

  • The literal principle - In the formation of Scripture, God used normal speech to communicate to us in a normal way. You should understand Scripture in its literal, normal, natural sense. Figures of speech should be understood as such, and apocalyptic language should be understood as figurative, even though there is a literal truth that is being conveyed.

  • The historical principle - The Bible was written in a historical context. To arrive at your best understanding of a passage of Scripture, try to determine what it meant to the people for whom it was written. A good study Bible or commentary can assist you in this.

  • The grammatical principle - Even without a working knowledge of Greek or Hebrew (the main original languages in which the Bible was written), you can usually determine the grammar of a sentence. A key to understanding Scripture is to determine as much as you can about the verbs, nouns, pronouns, and prepositions.

  • The synthesis principle - Foundational to understanding Scripture is this truth: The Bible never contradicts itself. When properly understood, one passage of the Bible doesn't teach something contrary to what another passage teaches. Since "all Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16), and since God's nature is wholly consistent, then so is His Word. What may appear as contradictions in Scripture can be resolved if we have all the information.

Step 3: Application = "exhortation"

Application answers the question, "How does this passage affect my life?" This question should not be asked until you first engage in observation and interpretation. Otherwise, you may end up like the Christian who randomly flipped his Bible open to the page that read, "Judas hanged himself." So the Christian randomly turned to another passage that read, "Go and do likewise."

The application of God's Word to your life is crucial. Scripture is not properly understood unless it is applied. Remember, God saved you not just so you could gain Bible information, but so you could experience life transformation. He transforms your life through His Word. Let me encourage you to read it, memorize it, meditate on it, and teach it to others. Let the Word of God fill your mind.

One resource that may assist you in studying God's Word is a study Bible. If I had to pick one study Bible, it would be the New Inductive Study Bible. My other favorites include the Life Application Study Bible, Believer's Study Bible, HCSB Apologetics Study Bible, and the MacArthur Study Bible.

May your love of God's Word grow each day.

Why (at least) One Bible Believer Really IS a Bible Believer

Yesterday I stumbled across an article written by Chuck Queen titled "Why Bible Believers Are Not Really Bible Believers." Queen is a self-professed Progressive Christian.

Image from bible.org.nz

Image from bible.org.nz

In the article, Queen remarks that "no self-identified Bible believer actually believes the whole Bible — at least not in the way they claim to." As a Bible believer, I was not disturbed or perplexed by this statement. Rather, I was quite relieved that I had finally found someone who was so enlightened and knowledgable that, even though he does not know me, he can tell me what I really believe.

Queen's issue with ignorant Bible believers (such as myself) is that we claim "that the whole Bible, every part of it, is inerrant and infallible. It all has equal authority." But he quickly adds that no Bible believer actually lives that way.

Queen is correct that no Bible believer perfectly lives out his belief that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. But our inconsistencies lie in the fact that we are imperfect. For example, if we truly and consistently believed that we would be rewarded in the new creation for our faithfulness during this life, we would certainly be more faithful to share our faith and live in holiness. But Queen's contention seems to be less about our own personal fallibilities than it does our belief about the Scriptures.

The personal example Queen gives was his struggle to believe and practice passages like 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (NRSV):

"A woman should learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."

Queen writes, "This text seems to clearly forbid women teaching in a setting where men are present because of their moral inferiority." He explained how he engaged in exegetical wizardry to interpret the passage as being applicable only to a specific situation in first-century Ephesus.

This interpretation rightfully left Queen dissatisfied because, as he acknowledges, Paul bases his argument against a woman teaching "on the creation (man was created first) and the fall (the woman was the one who was seduced)." But then we finally come to the revelation of Queen's philosophy. He writes, "Terrible theology, I concede, but there it is in the Bible."

Queen has made himself the sole arbiter of what is good theology. He has placed himself in a position above Scripture, and he has determined that this particular Scripture is, in his words, "terrible." I should not be surprised at Queen's position since he also claimed that he knows that I do not believe the Bible in the way I think I do. I mean, if Queen is an authority above Scripture, he certainly must be an authority above me.

Having established his theological authority over Scripture, Queen then dismisses the book of First Timothy altogether. He writes, "1 Timothy was written several decades after Paul by someone within the Pauline tradition who clearly did not accept Paul's original egalitarian theological and social vision." On what textual or historical basis does Queen make this claim? None. It's just stated as fact. I surmise that he rests upon the work of other Bible-doubting theologians, but that would be speculative on my part.

Not quite as speculative as Queen's dating of 1 Timothy, though. He writes, "Maybe Paul's original vision put the church at such odds with the social and conventional norms of Roman society that the church became a threat to that society. Out of fear of extinction perhaps they revisited their ecclesiastical practices and theology" (emphasis mine).

Queen claims that Paul's mention of women leaders in Romans 16 (perhaps referencing the deacon/servant Phoebe) and 1 Corinthians 11:5 (women prophets) are ignored by Bible believers. This may be anecdotally true of some Bible believers, but not of me. I have preached through each of the books Queen mentions in his article, and I did not skip a verse. This "troubling" issue of apparent contradictions between different passages attributed to Paul is no contradiction to me at all. First Timothy 2:11-15 is not an isolated rant trying to shut women up, but it is part of a larger context in which Paul deals with the recognized and continual teaching ministry of the church (i.e., elders/pastors). Romans 16:2, on the other hand, references the ministry of a deacon (or alternatively a servant), and 1 Corinthians 11:5 speaks to prophetic declarations made by women as they nevertheless submit to the leaders of the church.

I am not sure what Queen's goal is. He seems to be reaching out to what he calls "good-hearted Bible believers." But I am unsure what he desires to do with them. It seems like he wants to lessen their faith in God's Word. If so, he should tread carefully. Jesus gave a strong warning against those who would cause those who believe in Him to stumble. And Jesus had a much higher view of Scripture than Queen does.

My encouragement for Queen and all of us is to review passages such as Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and Psalm 119. These Scriptures encourage us to love and treasure God's Word. The Bible—every word of it and the entirety of it—is a message from God of His love for you. Let no one discourage you from believing it and accepting it.

Contemporary Parallels to the Third Reich

Yesterday on H2 (History Channel 2) I viewed the documentary "The Rise of the Third Reich." The narrator described it not as the story how Adolf Hitler came to power, but how and why the German people allowed him to do so. I was not surprised to hear about some cultural and political dynamics that, to me at least, parallel the situation in our own day.

Adolf Hitler used a combination of blind devotion and fear to transform a society and ultimately destroy millions of lives.

Adolf Hitler used a combination of blind devotion and fear to transform a society and ultimately destroy millions of lives.

The comparisons between the rise of the Nazis in Germany and certain contemporary political powers is not precise, of course. History does not exactly repeat itself, but it does seem that those who do not learn from history are doomed to suffer similar consequences as did their predecessors.

Below is a brief list of some parallels derived from the documentary. Many of the statements below are not my own ideas, but directly quoted:

  • Berlin had become a swamp of depravity. Everything and everyone was for sale.
  • Things were chaotic. Money was worthless. The atmosphere has become revolutionary. Apocalyptic. Not only money, but all standards have lost their value. Saviors appear everywhere, claiming they have been sent by God to save the world. In German, there is no plural word for Savior. There can be only one.
  • Hitler was a socialist, the leader of the National German Social Workers Party. Socialism has the inherent power of drawing the allegiance of the people to the state.
  • Politically, there were only two viable options for those who wanted to facilitate change: the communist party and the socialist party. No one of substance stood on the side of individual liberties.
  • On February 28, 1933, someone set fire to Germany's parliament building, the Reichstag. Hitler blamed the communists. The middle class, which had been repulsed by some of the tactics of the Nazi's, became frightened by the burning. The press, in lockstep with Hitler, said that the fire was meant to be a signal to all communists throughout the country to begin destroying property, life, and values throughout the land. Through the use of a false flag, Hitler had invented a threat, and now he would use it to crush his opposition.
  • The people gave up their liberties for the sake of security. They did not object to their telephones being tapped, their letters opened, and their desks broken into. People accepted it in order to "clean up" society and rid their land of the communists.
  • By March 23, the communists were all jailed. Hitler became dictator after only 52 days of being named Chancellor.
  • Often for many months parades marched and church bells rang. The idea was to condition the people to cheer, even when there was no reason for it. It is reminiscent of television comedies using laugh tracks for shows that are not funny. It is human nature to go along with the crowd and mimic others. Hitler knew this and manipulated the emotions of the people.
  • The government began officially declaring who was good and who was bad. Undesirable members of society included Jews, disabled people, minorities, and dissenters. Prisoner camps were established for "bad" members of society. Adults that did not use a "Heil Hitler" greeting faced the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp. The result and intent was to make people live in fear. Within 10 months of Hitler's rise to power, 100,000 Germans had been arrested.
  • Children were indoctrinated with Nazi propaganda. The movie "Triumph of the Will" was required viewing in all German schools. Children's hearts were turned against their parents. They were taught that the Führer (and by extension, the Fatherland) was first and family was second. Children were told to turn their parents in to the Gestapo (the secret state police) if their parents insisted that family came first.
  • In the end, Hitler betrayed, impoverished, and destroyed the country that he sought to lead.

Schuyler Bibles: Excellence in Bible-Publishing

Schuyler Quentel NASB

Schuyler Quentel NASB

If you are looking for a high-quality Bible, I would recommend checking out Schuyler Bible Publishers. Although their Bibles are expensive, they are made with great care, knowing that their readers will be handling God's Word.

From their website: "Schuyler Bibles has had one simple mission – to produce Bibles whose quality extends to both Printing and Binding. Often customers are forced to choose between the two. We decided to produce Bibles with the best of both worlds.  Paper quality, legibility and  binding come together to produce the best crafted Bibles available."

Schuyler currently produces the following Bible translations: NASB, ESV, KJV, and NKJV. I preach from the Quentel NASB. It is a big, heavy Bible, but it is easily the best-made Bible I have ever owned. The text is clear, the paper is thick and sturdy, and there are even four bookmarks.

You can learn more about Schuyler Bibles at schuylerbible.com.