Did God send us a message? That’s what I wanted to talk about…God’s message through the prophets. (But I’ll shortly get interrupted by pirates using our Casual English Bible maps on a porn site. Notice will come at an ironic moment while I’m writing this. So, stay with me.)
Of course, the prophets were talking to their own people during the 700s-500s BC. But I’ve just paraphrased my way through Jonah, Joel, Obadiah, and Habakkuk. I had paraphrased Isaiah earlier. And it’s hard not to see warnings for our country, the USA, and for other nations throughout the world.
In a nutshell, this is the message I get from those prophets and from the others in the Bible.
You don’t look like God’s children. There’s no family resemblance. You were loving once. Kind. Compassionate. Just. But now you’re hateful, unpredictable, inconsiderate, and selfish. So, you have hell-on-earth to pay. The consequences are already in motion. You can’t escape that. Brace yourself for what’s coming. But there’s still time to save yourself.
Not “save yourself from the consequences.” But salvation in some other form. If not physical, perhaps spiritual. If not of this world, perhaps of the next. But salvation is the promise for those who embrace God and the family resemblance that comes with it.
Let me tell you what the ancients had to brace themselves for: the death of the nation.
Assyrians wiped the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel off the map in 722 BC. Prophets predicted it.
Babylonians did the same to the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah in 586 BC—one of only two times in known history that Jerusalem was leveled. Romans did it again in AD 70.
Bible maps and porn on one website you don’t wannna visit
Well, this is interesting timing.
I got to this point in writing this article about where we may be headed, and I saw a reminder notice on my calendar to follow up on what is called a takedown request. Sometimes people use our stuff illegally, posting it on their websites. And I have to tell them to take it down.
No one (so far) has more egregiously misused the Casual English Bible I’m paraphrasing than a website featuring our Bible maps with incredibly naked women.
Cue Dean Martin
Long ago a singer named Dean Martin had a TV variety show. One regular sketch involved a pretty woman coming out dressed in a bathing suit or a bikini. She delivered just one line: “I’ve got a tattoo of the United States all over my body.”
That was Dean Martin’s cue to sing a few lines from an appropriate song. Or inappropriate, depending on your response to the joke.
I remembered wondering back then if they would ever think to use lyrics from the theme song for a TV Show I enjoyed, “The Littlest Hobo.” About a dog. I don’t think they used it, but it’s an example of the kind of lyrics he matched to the lady’s line.
“Traveling around from town to town
Sometimes I think I’ll settle down
But I know I’d hunger to be free
Rovin’ is the only life for me”
I get it. It’s crude, but funny. And it’s funny because it’s true. Guys are guys, whether they’re in lust or in love. Christian guys are in love, right? That’s our hope, if not our experience.
But Bible maps with naked women? I don’t get it.
It’s not funny, though odd. The maps aren’t relevant to the ladies. And the ladies seem distracted. So, what are the two doing on the same page?
Why these people are pirating our maps and displaying them this way seems senseless. Who’s going to look at a map of the Judean Hills posted beside pictures of what amount to the Women of Moab (Numbers 25)?
Could those people possibly have thought their website was doing us a favor, and helping the sales of our maps?
And do they think they might qualify for a charitable deduction?
Regardless, publishing our copyrighted maps without our permission is illegal.
Beyond that, I sure don’t want any of you searching for our maps, only to end up dancing in the mountains of Moab.
Well, that’s where we are in this world, huh?
The last sentence in the Bible book of Judges describes us perfectly:
“So, everyone did whatever they wanted” (Judges 21:25).
Going to court?
Here’s what happens. If the pirating folks don’t take our maps off that site, I’ll have to call my lawyer. Intellectual property rights are his thing. He’s expensive; bad news for me. But he is one incredible attorney; bad news for the pirates who live in a country that enforces copyright law with fines and jail time.
I don’t want to go there. Our maps aren’t intended to lock people in jail.
This dilemma seems to put me in the position that God was in with the ancient Israelites—ancestors of today’s Jewish people. The people did wrong. God warned them to stop. They didn’t. God brought the hammer down, though he didn’t want to.
Try reading some of the prophets. Maybe one of the short books I just finished paraphrasing. They have just a few chapters each. I love Habakkuk. Just three chapters with a powerful closer.
See if it looks like the warnings God gave the ancients are warnings fit for us today. And think about whether their consequences will one day be ours as well.
I’m not saying we should all join some conservative Christian group and fight abortions, books we don’t approve, and election results we don’t like. There are Christians on the other side of each of those issues.
Maybe we shouldn’t start by minding someone else’s business instead of minding our own.
Instead, I wonder if this would be a good time in the history of humans for each of us, individually, to calm ourselves long enough to listen to the Spirit that the Bible says God has placed inside each of us (Joel 2:28).
Clearly, we need all the Help we can get.
P.S. I got no love from the website or its host. So, I just tagged my lawyer who is engaging his takedown specialist. All I wanted to do was paraphrase the Bible. But there’s nothing that simple in this messed up world. I don’t know who is behind this offending website, but I hope it’s not a priest, a Baptist, or a relative.