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The Treasures of Darkness, Part 1

I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel” (Isa. 45: 3).

Diamonds are one of the hardest natural substances known.  Billions of years old, diamonds form deep in the earth, under tremendous pressures and temperatures [1].  They are considered among the most valuable gemstones in the world, and are mined only with great difficulty.

Diamonds from Catoca Mine, Angola, Author Helgi (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

But the treasures of darkness which God promises us are infinitely more precious.

Literal and Figurative Darkness

The word “darkness” can be interpreted both literally and figuratively.

Strong’s Concordance informs us that darkness is not only to be found in mines (Job 28: 3).  Darkness was over the surface of the deep at Creation (Gen. 1: 2).  Darkness was one of the plagues God caused to fall on Egypt, giving it a supernatural dimension (Ex. 10: 21).

The word can, also, be used to signify ignorance; confusion/perplexity; doubt, depression, and mourning; secrecy; evil and sin; death, destruction, and judgment.

What treasures can these possibly yield?  Let us examine them one at a time.


…[T]he fool walks in darkness” (Eccl. 2: 14).  But “…wisdom excels folly As light excels darkness” (Eccl. 2: 13).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9: 10).  Wisdom is, therefore, the first treasure of darkness. Read more…

Faith After Bombing

WARNING:  Graphic Images

On May 13, 2018 suicide bombers detonated explosives at three Indonesian churches, killing 15 people and injuring many more [1A].

The churches targeted were St. Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, the Indonesia Christian Church, and the Surabaya Central Pentecostal Church.  According to Indonesian National Police, the bombs used were of a type known as “Mother of Satan”, the explosive of choice for ISIS.

Two years later, the injured continue to heal and the relatives of those murdered continue to mourn.  But their faith is indomitable.

Relatives of the 2018 Surabaya bombing victims, Author Surabaya Municipal Police, Source (PD as published by Govt. of the Republic of Indonesia per Article 43 of Law 28 of 2014 on Copyrights)

Read more…

Coronavirus Deaths and Lax OSHA Enforcement

Washing hands, Author Beat Ruest (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

As we struggle to flatten the coronavirus curve and reduce deaths from COVID-19, lax enforcement by the Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may actually be a factor contributing to such deaths [1].

Infectious Disease Standards

In 2005 the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) petitioned OSHA for a rule addressing pandemic influenza [2].  In 2009 AFSCME sought a rule addressing occupational exposure to infectious diseases.

OSHA had already put controls in place for bloodborne pathogens that required hepatitis vaccinations by healthcare workers; the use of masks and gloves; and the disposal of contaminated needles.  Before that, hepatitis had killed 300 workers annually.

Trump Administration Cutbacks

When the Trump Administration came to power, OSHA’s agenda changed.  Rule-making and oversight were put on hold.  The focus was now placed on rolling back existing regulations.

Currently, OHSA has the lowest level of inspections in 50 years.

Coronavirus and Meat Plant Workers

Meat workers are stationed in close proximity to one another.  Enhanced cleaning and social distancing of workers slow production, so are not always attractive to plant operators.

Over 640 cases of coronavirus have been linked to a single Smithfield pork factory in South Dakota [3].  Four workers at a Tyson chicken processing plant in Georgia have died from the virus; two more have died and 186 tested positive at a Tyson pork plant in Iowa [4][5].

Cargill, Sanderson Farms, and Perdue have all reported illness [6]. Read more…

“Our Good Shepherd” by Jaimee Hatcher

“Good Shepherd”, stained glass window at St. John’s Methodist Church, Davenport, IA, Author Robert Bruce (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The following message is by Jaimee Hatcher, Esq, the Director of Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP), an urban ministry serving the poor.  As those of you familiar with this blog know, I helped found CLCP’s predecessor.  CLCP remains dear to my heart.

For more on clinics like CLCP, please, click on “Christian Legal Aid” (above).

“Clinics are closed.  Calls have slowed down.  Clients are still being served. Thanks to our faithful staff and volunteers we are still able to assist clients with pressing legal matters to the best of our ability.  In times like these it is of the utmost importance for us to lean on the “Christ” in Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia.  One client that we were able to assist this week said she comforts herself with the 23rd Psalm every morning and night.  I was reminded a few weeks ago in a sermon of our Good Shepherd’s purpose and mission to bring us all home safely.  Our Good Shepherd provides for all of our needs, gives us necessary rest, restoration, protection, discipline, and reward.” Read more…

Lean on Me – Coronavirus and the Poor

A yellow fever epidemic struck Philadelphia in 1793, killing over 5000 [1].  Nearly half the city fled.  Public services were so stressed that city government collapsed under the strain [2].

In the absence of a crisis plan, Mayor Matt Clarkson pleaded with residents for clothing, food, and donations [3].  Volunteers responded generously.  They organized a fever hospital and a temporary home for children orphaned by the epidemic.

Members of the Free African Society were especially selfless.  Black nurses tended to the sick; black men buried the bodies – white and black – others were afraid to touch.

Coronavirus and Food Banks

In an average year, America’s food banks struggle to feed over 46 million (including 12 million children, and 7 million seniors) [4].  During the coronavirus pandemic, that figure has skyrocketed.  Food banks are desperate for supplies, as a result.

Meanwhile, farmers have been destroying crops and discarding milk, because of disrupted supply chains [5].  The USDA plans to offer $16 billion in grants to farmers and ranchers [6].  The USDA will purchase $3 billion in meat, dairy, and produce to distribute to food banks and charities.

Coronavirus and Community Health Centers

The community health centers that treat America’s poor and uninsured are close to buckling, in the face of this pandemic [7].

Indications are that African Americans and Hispanic Americans are particularly vulnerable to the virus [8].  This may, itself, reflect the disparity of medical and other resources in our society.

A.  Staffing

Often short-staffed to begin with, the community health centers that serve our inner cities and rural areas have been hard hit by layoffs and furloughs.

For many, these non-profit clinics are the only source of medical care.  Now, they screen patients for the coronavirus, as well.  If hospitals are overwhelmed by a surge of patients, such clinics will be hard-pressed to absorb the overflow.

Read more…

Salt of the Earth – Coronavirus and Ordinary People

The coronavirus crisis has turned a spotlight on so called “ordinary” people – the farmers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, deliverymen, and cashiers who support the rest of us.  Those in food production and delivery who so long toiled in anonymity have suddenly been recognized as heroic.

Ordinary people have always, of course, been important to God.  They are the backbone of society, the salt of the earth (Matt. 5: 13). Read more…

“Easter Peace Meal” by Joseph Veneroso

“The Tears of St. Peter” by El Greco (1587-1596), Museo Soumaya at Plaza Carso, Mexico City (PD-Art, PD-Old)

“…Peter does not dare believe –
his guilt too strong,
his faith too weak –
unworthy of love
much less redemption, he confesses,
‘Lord, you know everything.
You know I love you.’
And finds himself suddenly
commissioned to forever feed us
from the fountain
of forgiveness…

We are Emmaus bound,
downcast and discouraged,
without hope or happiness
till a Stranger opens our minds,
sets our hearts on fire,
sits with us at table,
and breaking bread,
bestows on us
and all the world
amazing grace.”


Prosecutorial Misconduct in the Trial of Christ

“Sanhedrin in Session” (1883 encyclopedia illustration), Author Wrongkind707 (PD-Art, PD-Old)

In First Century Jerusalem, the Great Sanhedrin was a court both of civil and criminal jurisdiction, comprised of 71 judges.

During the trial of Christ, there were multiple instances of procedural error and prosecutorial misconduct.  Here are some:

Illegal Arrest

  • The use of an accomplice to effectuate an arrest was forbidden.  Since Judas had aided Christ in His ministry, he would have been considered such an accomplice [1A].

Improper Timing

  • Christ was tried for a capital offense during Passover, though this was forbidden [1B].


  • The Sanhedrin was lawfully in session only between the morning sacrifice at 9AM and the evening sacrifice at 3PM.  Christ was arrested and tried there during the night [1C].
  • Contrary to Jewish law, Christ was examined by a single judge at each of two private preliminary hearings – first by Annas, Pres. of the Sanhedrin (John 8: 12-14), then by the High Priest, Caiphas (John 18: 15-27) [1D].  However, private preliminary hearings and the use of a single judge were forbidden as fostering secrecy and bias [1E].
  • Jewish law required two sessions by the Sanhedrin for condemnation, a day apart [1F].  A sentence of death had to be deferred until the following day, in the hope that some argument in favor of the accused might come to light.  This requirement was ignored in Christ’s case.
  • The Sanhedrin had already met three times with a view toward plotting Christ’s death (John 7: 45-52; John 11: 45-49, 53; and Luke 22: 1-2).

Fluid and Unsubstantiated Charges

  • Not only were the charges against Christ vague, they shifted continually.  These included treason against the nation of Israel (Mark 14: 57-60), blasphemy (Mark 14: 61-64), “perverting” the nation of Israel (Luke 23: 1), forbidding tribute to Rome (Luke 23: 1), fomenting riot (Luke 23: 5), and treason against the Roman Empire (John 23: 12).

Hampered Defense

  • Christ was given no time to prepare a defense, to which He had a legal right.

Read more…

Allegations Against the Son of God

“Christ before Pilate” in the style of Hieronymous Bosch (c. 1520), Princeton University Art Museum (RKDimages – Artwork No. 250254) (PD-Art, PD-Old)

The religious hierarchy of Christ’s day feared His power and envied His influence.

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do?  For this Man works many signs.  If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation’ ” (John 11: 47-48).

But Pilate answered them, saying, ‘Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’  For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy” (Mark 15: 9-10).

For that reason, they sought repeatedly to entrap Christ, ultimately resorting to false accusations against Him.

That He Plotted the Destruction of the Temple

Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none.  Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none.  But at last two false witnesses came forward and said, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days” ‘ ” (Matt. 26: 59-61).

That He Disrespected Abraham

Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.  But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.  Abraham did not do this’ ” (John 8: 39).

Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’ ” (John 8: 58).

Read more…


1849 cholera prevention poster by NYC Sanatory Committee, under sanction of the Medical Counsel, Source New York Historical Society (PD)

In the course of human history, hundreds of millions have died of widespread infectious diseases.

In the mid-1300s, the bubonic plague or “Black Death” killed 20 million.  In the 1600s, smallpox wiped out an estimated 70% of the Native America population [1].  In 1918, influenza a/k/a the Spanish flu killed 50 million worldwide [2].

Yellow fever, typhus, typhoid, malaria, measles, and HIV have all taken their toll [3A]. Read more…