Monday, 31 May 2010

The Day of the Lord

Paul's concept of the day of the Lord seems to go beyond what happened at the destruction of the Temple and city of Jerusalem in AD70.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Millenium - Outside the Book of Revelation?

"It is interesting that the millennium - the 1,000 year reign of Christ - is mentioned in only one place in Scripture and yet tends to be the defining point in end-times beliefs," said Joshua Club.

The thought occurred to me that a helpful exericize therefore might be to see what impression the rest of the Bible gives you if you try to ignore for the moment the mention of the 1,000 years in Revelation - and then see if it reconciles.

If something is indeed meant to be such a defining point in end-times doctrine, then it also ought to be able to be as clearly substantiated elsewhere in the Scriptures, one would think.

The Pacifism Question

The purpose for military action by Israel under the Old Covenant was to execute God's judgments.

So the question is not, "Should a nation ever go to war?" but, "Is judgment ever called for?"

If judgment is sometimes called for at a personal or domestic level, then why not also at an international level?

When You Feel Mistreated

"There are times in life when we feel that we have been mistreated by others. Sometimes it is true that someone has deliberately mistreated us, but sometimes it is just a matter of our perception of what occurred!

For instance, you know that children often feel mistreated just because Mom made them wash the dishes or Dad told them to go to bed or clean up their room before their favorite cartoon was over. Now anyone with common sense will realize that the parents are making decisions that are in the best interests of the child and preparing them for the realities of life and responsibility. They will eventually appreciate their parent’s “tough love.”

Unfortunately, even adults sometimes do not know the difference between a deliberate mistreatment and feeling mistreated just because they did not get their own way! There are many people, who complain continuously about how they have been abused by others, when all it is, is that they would not let them have their own way in the situation. People who regularly behave like this are usually selfish and self-centered, with a victim’s mentality.

This is not how Christians should behave. God makes provision for every situation and circumstance you find yourself in: if people are treating you badly- whether real or imagined – the Lord tells you to walk in love and in forgiveness. He tells you not to murmur or whine or complain.

In fact, when you complain, you bring judgment upon yourself, because with your complaining, God says that you are judging the other person and His Word already says that if you judge, you will be judged with the same measuring stick!"

- Dr Rodney Howard-Browne

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Romans 11:26 Shall All Israel Be Saved?

"And so all Israel shall be saved"

When Paul said, "And so all Israel shall be saved", I could be wrong, but I think he meant in effect, "And that's the manner in which the prophecies about Israel's salvation are finding their fulfillment".

I don't think Paul meant that there will come a nationwide revival in Israel during some special dispensation aside from the dispensation of the Gospel.

A lot of end-timers are using this particular Scripture to portray a grandiose picture of Israel's future.

Some of the end-timers imagine this grandiose future will happen before the second coming (because they realize no-one can be saved after the second coming).

Other end-timers claim it will happen after the second coming and during the Millenium (because a nationwide revival in Israel doesn't quite fit their picture of events during what they call "The Great Tribulation"). Therefore they invent the heresy that Jews can be saved a different way, even after the second coming. Whenever a prophecy doesn't quite fit their "Great Tribultion" picture, they tend to just slot the Scripture into "The Millenium" or into some future period when God makes special provisions aside from the Gospel exclusively for Jews.

And other end-timers probably haven't given it enough thought.

Here's what I think Paul may have meant - but I'm not 100% sure:

I think Paul's objective in the chapter may have been simply to explain God's presentday dealings with Israelites.

Perhaps it had become necessary for the Romans to hear such an explanation - because Paul needed to warn the Roman believers against becoming conceited.

Perhaps they were at risk of boasting over the Jews because they themselves were receiving salvation but Israel was missing out.

Some Roman believers may even have been thinking it was no longer possible for any Jewish individuals to be saved at all.

Others may have been confused - thinking God hadn't kept His promises to Israel.

So in order to correct their ideas and attitudes, Paul needed to explain God's present-day dealings with Israelites. He needed to explain the manner in which the Messianic prophecies had been fulfilled - to clear-up any confusion.

First of all, Paul explained that God had not made it impossible for any Jews to be saved - because Paul himself was a Jew.

Secondly, Paul explained that God's Messianic promises to Israel had not failed - they were fulfilled in the sense that all Jews who believed were being saved, and the rest had become hard-hearted. Paul quoted some Scriptures to prove that it was destined to happen this way.

Thirdly, Paul explained that he was trying to provoke his own countrymen to jealousy, in hopes of saving some of them - in his own generation. So Paul was asserting the distinct possibility that Jewish people could still be saved, if they believe.

Fourthly, he told the Roman believers not to become too proud about their own position with God, seeing God is still able to save any Jew who believes.

Fifthly, Paul explained the manner in which the mysterious prophecies about the Messiah and Israel's salvation had been fulfilled - they were fulfilled in the sense that some Jews had believed and received while the rest became hard-hearted - and at the same time many Gentiles had also believed and received - and both shall continue side-by-side until the end. That's how the prophecies were fulfilled.

And then he said, "...and so all Israel shall be saved..."

Notice he didn't say, "and then all Israel shall be saved..." No.

He said, "And so [not, 'and then'] all Israel shall be saved.

In other words, he was saying, "And that is the manner in which all Jewish people can [still] be saved".

He wasn't meaning to say: "And then (after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in) God's attention shall revert back to Israel and then every single Jewish person will be saved." No.

He said: "And so [in that manner, which I've just described to you] the prophecies about Israel's salvation are being fulfilled".

Paul never mentioned any special future period for Israel in which God will again revert His attention to them in terms of offering them a different method of obtaining salvation outside of the general Gospel.

Paul was explaining the presentday dealings of God with Jews - he was not forecasting a special future period for the Jews in which God will begin to deal with them according to a different program other than the Gospel.

In this chapter Paul was not dealing with a future fulfillment of as-yet-unfulfilled Messianic prophecies - he was dealing with fulfilled prophecy: he was explaining the manner of God's presentday dealings with Jews. Jews can still be saved along with Gentiles, and in that manner, the prophecy has been and is being fulfilled.

There doesn't appear to have been anything more or anything less than that, in Paul's treatment of prophecy.

So that eliminates the need for some of the wacky heresies such as God having some different future program to procure the salvation of Israel aside from the general Gospel.

Of course I'm not 100% sure that I've grasped Paul's line of thought accurately though. Any comments?

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Linear KJV Harmony of the Olivet Discourse by William S. Hall

Framed on Matthew 24:1-14 conjoined with parallel passages from Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-38.


And Matt 24:1, Mark 13:1

[Jesus Matt 24:1 / as he Mark 13:1]

went out Matt 24:1, Mark 13:1

[and departed from the temple: Matt 24:1 / of the temple, Mark 13:1]

and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. Matt 24:1 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, Luke 21:5 one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! Mark 13:1

And Matt 24:2, Mark 13:2

[Jesus Matt 24:2, Mark 13:2 / he Luke 21:5]

answering Mark 13:2 said Matt 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:5 unto Matt 24:2, Mark 13:2

[them, Matt 24:2 / him, Mark 13:2]

[See ye not all these things? Matt 24:2 / Seest thou these great buildings? Mark 13:2]

verily I say unto you, Matt 24:2 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which Luke 21:6 there shall not be left Matt 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6 here Matt 24:2 one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Matt 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives Matt 24:3, Mark 13:3 over against the temple, Mark 13:3

[the disciples Matt 24:3 / Peter and James and John and Andrew Mark 13:3]

came unto him Matt 24:3 and they Luke 21:7 asked him Mark 13:3, Luke 21:7 privately, Matt 24:3, Mark 13:3 saying, Matt 24:3, Luke 21:7 Master, Luke 21:7 Tell us, Matt 24:3, Mark 13:4 but Luke 21:7 when shall these things be? and what Matt 24:3, Mark 13:4, Luke 21:7

[shall be the sign Matt 24:3, Mark 13:4 / sign will there be Luke 21:7]

[of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Matt 24:3 / when all these things shall be fulfilled? Mark 13:4 / when these things shall come to pass? Luke 21:7]

And Matt 24:4, Mark 13:5, Luke 21:8

[Jesus Matt 24:4, Mark 13:5 / he Luke 21:8]

[answered and said unto them, Matt 24:4 / answering them began to say, Mark 13:5 / said, Luke 21:8]

Take heed Matt 24:4, Mark 13:5, Luke 21:8

[that no man deceive you. Matt 24:4 / lest any man deceive you: Mark 13:5 / that ye be not deceived: Luke 21:8]

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; Matt 24:5, Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8 and shall deceive many. Matt 24:5, Mark 13:6 and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. Luke 21:8

[And Matt 24:6, Mark 13:7 / But Luke 21:9]

when Mark 13:7, Luke 21:9 ye shall hear of wars and Matt 24:6, Mark 13:7, Luke 21:9

[rumours of wars: Matt 24:6, Mark 13:7 / commotions, Luke 21:9]

[see that ye be not Matt 24:6 / be ye not Mark 13:7 / be not Luke 21:9]

[troubled: Matt 24:6, Mark 13:7 / terrified: Luke 21:9]

for Matt 24:6, Mark 13:7, Luke 21:9 all Matt 24:6

[these Matt 24:6, Luke 21:9 / such Mark 13:7]

things must Matt 24:6, Mark 13:7, Luke 21:9 first Luke 21:9

[come to pass, Matt 24:6, Luke 21:9 / needs be; Mark 13:7]

but the end Matt 24:6, Mark 13:7, Luke 21:9

[is not yet. Matt 24:6/ shall not be yet. Mark 13:7 / is not by and by. Luke 21:9]

Then said he unto them, Luke 21:10 For Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8 nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:10 and there shall be Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8 famines Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11 and troubles, Mark 13:8 and pestilences, Matt 24:7, Luke 21:11 and Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11 there Mark 13:8 shall be Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11 great Luke 21:11 earthquakes Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11 in divers places, Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11 and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. Luke 21:11 All Matt 24:8 these are the Matt 24:8, Mark 13:8

[beginning Matt 24:8 / beginnings Mark 13:8]

of sorrows. Matt 24:8, Mark 13:8 But Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 before all these, Luke 21:12 take heed to yourselves: for Mark 13:9 then Matt 24:9 shall Matt 24:9, Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 they Matt 24:9, Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 lay their hands on you, and persecute you, Luke 21:12

[deliver Matt 24:9, Mark 13:9 / delivering Luke 21:12]

you up Matt 24:9, Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 to Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 the Luke 21:12

[councils; Mark 13:9 / synagogues, Luke 21:12]

and into prisons, Luke 21:12 to be afflicted, and shall kill you: Matt 24:9 and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: Mark 13:9 and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Matt 24:9

[and ye shall be Mark 13:9 / being Luke 21:12]

brought before Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 rulers Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 and Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 kings Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 for my Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12 name's Luke 21:12 sake, Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12

[for a testimony against them. Mark 13:9 / And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Luke 21:13]

And the gospel must first be published among all nations. Mark 13:10 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, Mark 13:11 settle it therefore in your hearts, Luke 21:14 take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, Mark 13:11

[neither do ye premeditate: Mark 13:11 / not to meditate before Luke 21:14]

what ye shall answer: Luke 21:14 but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: Mark 13:11

[for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Mark 13:11 / For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, Luke 21:15]

which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. Luke 21:15 And then shall many be offended, Matt 24:10

[and shall betray one another, Matt 24:10 / Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; Mark 13:12 / And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, Luke 21:16]

and kinsfolks, and friends; Luke 21:16 and shall hate one another. Matt 24:10 and children shall rise up against their parents, Mark 13:12 and Mark 13:12, Luke 21:16

[shall cause them Mark 13:12 / some of you shall they cause Luke 21:16]

to be put to death. Mark 13:12, Luke 21:16 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17

Matthew 24:11-12

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matt 24:13, Mark 13:13 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matt 24:14

Luke 21:18-20

18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

19 In your patience possess ye your souls.

20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

But Mark 13:14 when ye Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14 therefore Matt 24:15 shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14

[stand Matt 24:15 / standing Mark 13:14]

in the holy place, Matt 24:15 where it ought not, Mark 13:14

[(whoso readeth, let him understand:) Matt 24:15 / (let him that readeth understand,) Mark 13:14]

then let them Matt 24:16, Mark 13:14, Luke 21:21

[which Matt 24:16, Luke 21:21/ that Mark 13:14]

[be Matt 24:16, Mark 13:14 / are Luke 21:21]

in Judaea flee Matt 24:16, Mark 13:14, Luke 21:21

[into Matt 24:16/ to Mark 13:14, Luke 21:21]

the mountains: Matt 24:16, Mark 13:14, Luke 21:21 And Mark 13:15, Luke 21:21 let Matt 24:17, Mark 13:15, Luke 21:21

[him Matt 24:17, Mark 13:15 / them Luke 21:21]

[which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

Matt 24:17, Luke 21:21/ that Mark 13:15]

is on the housetop not Matt 24:17, Mark 13:15

[come Matt 24:17/ go Mark 13:15]

down Matt 24:17, Mark 13:15 into the house, neither enter therein, Mark 13:15 to take any thing out of his house: Matt 24:17, Mark 13:15

[Neither let Matt 24:18 / And let not Mark 13:16]

him Matt 24:18, Mark 13:16

[which Matt 24:18 / that Mark 13:16]

is in the field Matt 24:18, Mark 13:16

[return Matt 24:18 / turn Mark 13:16]

back Matt 24:18, Mark 13:16 again for Mark 13:16 to take Matt 24:18, Mark 13:16 up Mark 13:16 his Matt 24:18, Mark 13:16

[clothes. Matt 24:18 / garment. Mark 13:16]

Luke 21:22

22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

[And Matt 24:19 / But Mark 13:17, Luke 21:23]

woe Matt 24:19, Mark 13:17, Luke 21:23

[unto Matt 24:19, Luke 21:23 / to Mark 13:17]

them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! Matt 24:19, Mark 13:17, Luke 21:23

Luke 21:23-24

23 for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

[But Matt 24:20 / And Mark 13:18]

pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, Matt 24:20, Mark 13:18 neither on the sabbath day: Matt 24:20 For Matt 24:21, Mark 13:19

[then Matt 24:21 / in those days Mark 13:19]

shall be Matt 24:21, Mark 13:19

[great tribulation, Matt 24:21 / affliction, Mark 13:19]

such as was not Matt 24:21, Mark 13:19

[since Matt 24:21 / from Mark 13:19]

the beginning of the Matt 24:21, Mark 13:19

[world Matt 24:21 / creation which God created Mark 13:19]

[to Matt 24:21 / unto Mark 13:19]

this time, Matt 24:21, Mark 13:19

[no, nor ever Matt 24:21 / neither Mark 13:19]

shall be. Matt 24:21, Mark 13:19 And except Matt 24:22, Mark 13:20

[those days should be shortened, Matt 24:22 / that the Lord had shortened those days, Mark 13:20]

there Matt 24:22 should Matt 24:22, Mark 13:20 no flesh Matt 24:22, Mark 13:20 be saved: Matt 24:22, Mark 13:20 but for the elect's sake, Matt 24:22, Mark 13:20 whom he hath chosen, Mark 13:20

[those days shall be shortened. Matt 24:22 / he hath shortened the days. Mark 13:20]

And Mark 13:21 then if any man shall say Matt 24:23, Mark 13:21

[unto Matt 24:23 / to Mark 13:21]

you, Lo, here is Christ, or Matt 24:23, Mark 13:21 lo, he is Mark 13:21 there; believe Matt 24:23, Mark 13:21

[it Matt 24:23 / him Mark 13:21]

not: Matt 24:23, Mark 13:21 For Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22 there Matt 24:24 shall Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22

[arise Matt 24:24 / rise Mark 13:22]

false Christs, and false prophets, Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22 and shall shew Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22 great Matt 24:24 signs and wonders; Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22 insomuch that, Matt 24:24 if it were possible, Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22

[they shall deceive Matt 24:24 / to seduce, Mark 13:22]

even Matt 24:24 the Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22 very Matt 24:24 elect. Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22 But take ye heed: Mark 13:23 behold, I have Matt 24:25, Mark 13:23

[told you before Matt 24:25/ foretold you Mark 13:23]

all things. Mark 13:23

Matthew 24:26-28

26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

But in those days, Mark 13:24 immediately Matt 24:29 after Matt 24:29, Mark 13:24

[the tribulation of those days Matt 24:29 / that tribulation, Mark 13:24]

[shall the sun be darkened, Matt 24:29, Mark 13:24 / And there shall be signs in the sun, Luke 21:25]

[and the moon shall not give her light, Matt 24:29, Mark 13:24 / and in the moon, Luke 21:25]

[and the stars shall fall from heaven, Matt 24:29/ And the stars of heaven shall fall, Mark 13:25 / and in the stars; Luke 21:25]

Luke 21:25-26

25 and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:

[and Matt 24:29, Mark 13:25 / for Luke 21:26]

the powers Matt 24:29, Mark 13:25, Luke 21:26

[of the heavens Matt 24:29 / that are in heaven Mark 13:25 / of heaven Luke 21:26]

shall be shaken. Matt 24:29, Mark 13:25, Luke 21:26 And then Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and Matt 24:30 they Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 shall Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 see the Son of man coming in Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27

[the clouds Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26 / a cloud Luke 21:27]

of heaven Matt 24:30 with Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 great Mark 13:26 power and Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 great Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 glory. Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 And Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27 then Mark 13:27 he Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27 shall Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27 send his angels Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27 with a great sound of a trumpet, Matt 24:31 and Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27 they Matt 24:31 shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27

[one end of heaven to the other. Matt 24:31 / the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Mark 13:27]

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:28

[Now learn a parable of the fig tree; Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28 / And he spake to them a parable; Luke 21:29]

Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; Luke 21:29 When Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28

[his Matt 24:32 / her Mark 13:28]

branch is yet tender, and Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28

[putteth forth leaves, Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28 / When they now shoot forth, Luke 21:30]

ye Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28, Luke 21:30 see and Luke 21:30 know Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28, Luke 21:30 of your own selves Luke 21:30 that summer is Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28, Luke 21:30 now Luke 21:30

[nigh Matt 24:32, Luke 21:30 / near Mark 13:28]

at hand. Luke 21:30

[So likewise ye, Matt 24:33, Luke 21:31 / So ye in like manner, Mark 13:29]

when ye Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31 shall Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29 see Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31 all Matt 24:33 these things Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31 come to pass, Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31 know Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31 ye Luke 21:31 that Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31

[it Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29 / the kingdom of God Luke 21:31]

is Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31

[near Matt 24:33 / nigh Mark 13:29, Luke 21:31]

at hand, Luke 21:31 even at the doors. Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29 Verily I say unto you, Matt 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32 that Mark 13:30 this generation shall not pass Matt 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32 away, Luke 21:32 till all Matt 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32 these things Matt 24:34, Mark 13:30 be Matt 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32

[fulfilled. Matt 24:34, Luke 21:32 / done. Mark 13:30]

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33 But of that day and Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32 that Mark 13:32 hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32

[of heaven, Matt 24:36 / which are in heaven, Mark 13:32]

neither the Son, Mark 13:32 but Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32

[my Matt 24:36 / the Mark 13:32]

Father Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32 only. Matt 24:36

Matthew 24:37-41

37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Luke 21:34-35

34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Mark 13:33-34

33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

Watch Matt 24:42, Mark 13:35, Luke 21:36 ye Mark 13:35, Luke 21:36 therefore Matt 24:42, Mark 13:35, Luke 21:36 and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man, Luke 21:36 for ye know not Matt 24:42, Mark 13:35

[what hour your Lord doth come. Matt 24:42 / when the master of the house cometh, Mark 13:35]

Mark 13:35-37

35 at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

Matthew 24:43-51

43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:1-46

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Luke 21:37-38

37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

38 And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.

Jesus' Attitude Towards the Old Testament Law

I see many occassions when Jesus explained the Law, but none where He annulled the Law. He corrected misunderstandings of the Law, but never annulled the Law. He confronted Jewish traditions which nullified the commandments of God, but never Himself annulled the Law.

If Jesus' statements about food were intended as an annulment of the food laws, wouldn't Peter have known that? He lived with Him for three years! Why then was Peter so surprised when the Lord later told him in a vision to "arise, kill and eat"? At first Peter objected to it. He had to be told three times!

So when Jesus said, "It's not what goes into a man that defiles him," those words don't annul any food Laws, do they? Didn't those words merely correct the Jewish leaders who were stressing over food Laws but were justifying adultery and murder? Jesus' intention was to put the food Laws back in their proper place as originally intended by the Law - rather than to completely annul what the Law had to say about food.

Jesus' words "...alter or ignore no Jewish law; they merely stress the obvious point that it is the disobedience, not the food itself, that is the essence of the violation".

I don't think Jesus was going around having roasted pig on the spit, do you? If He was, Peter failed to notice.

Jesus was ministering exclusively to the lost sheep of Israel under the old covenant. Whether or not those food Laws carry-over into the new covenant is a separate topic. The focus here is, What did Jesus actually say at the time.

This has ramifications for contemporary moral and political issues such as homosexuality and left-leaning policies. If it is thought that Jesus sometimes annulled the Law, then Jesus' statements about giving-up possessions and giving to the poor might be applied as the charter of a new economic system, as a new morality superseding the capitalism of the Law. In that case, you could use Jesus' words to justify socialism, or you could justify altering any part of God's Law you choose on any topic not restated by Jesus.

But if it can be shown that Jesus always upheld and never violated the Law, then Jesus' statements about giving-up one's possessions would need to be understood in the context of the capitalist ethics of the Law; and Jesus' silence about an immorality according to the Law would not mean He was condoning it. In which case you wouldn't see centre right policies as conflicting with any of Jesus' statements; and you wouldn't justify homosexuality.

[That the Law was capitalist in its economic ethics is established by the commandment: "Thou shalt not steal" - thus establishing the ethic of private property. And the Law instituted no enforceable large-scale redistribution of wealth as is done under socialism/communism beyond the Law's requirement of the flat-rate tithe. And the Law was against homosexuality.]

I've noticed that the people who turn-up at gay rights marches are often the same sorts of people who turn-up at pro-choice marches or anti-conservative marches. All of it is rooted in the same thing: lawlessness. And many of them - and even ministers - are claiming a basis for it in the words of Jesus. They call it "social justice" and "grace" and "compassion" and "tolerance" and "fairness".

That's why I think, particularly in Victoria, considering current trends in that State's political, legislative, ethical, moral and religious climate, that it will help considerably if ministers are deliberate in their choice of words when explaining Jesus' attitude to God's holy Law as revealed in the four Gospels.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Understanding Messianic Prophecy

The Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah seemed to combine themes of His birth, miraculous ministry, death and resurrection and Kingdom all in the same context.

John's father Zechariah viewed his own son as the fulfillment of Messianic promises, including promises of delivering Israel out of the hand of its enemies - even though the Messiah - the Lord Jesus - was not yet born.

So as John Wesley explained in his note on Rom.11:26: "Yeah, the Deliver is come; but not the full fruit of His coming".

Zechariah could call the full spectrum of Messianic prophecy fulfilled - even though the full fruit of that might have yet to be played-out historically over thousands of years.

Is that the sense of Messianic prophecy? Or is there a truer interpretation?

Will All Israel be Saved?

"...and so all Israel will be saved".

Is that a prophecy about a future nation-wide revival in Israel?

One explanation I heard is that it means, "In this manner can all elect Jews be saved". It is claimed that it comes out of left-field to think Paul would suddenly introduce the idea of a nation-wide revival. It is claimed the background was that the Roman believers were becoming conceited in their election against Jews and were even thinking that Jewish people could no longer be saved. So Paul wrote to them to explain the manner in which it was still possible for a Jewish person to be saved.

Another explanation I heard is that the Romans thought it was somehow a failure of God's promises that Israel was not being saved. So Paul sought to explain the method of God's dealings in the matter, thereby demonstrating the faithfulness and wisdom of God.

I personally don't think Paul was prophesying a future, nation-wide salvation of the Jews. I think he was explaining the manner of God's dealings with Jews, as it stood even back in the first century. A Jewish person could still be saved, and whenever Jewish people do get saved, it benefits Gentiles no less than how they have benefited through the Israel's unbelief.

When Paul quoted the prophet saying that the Lord would turn ungodlilness away from Jacob, my feeling, based on the flow of Paul's argument, is that Paul wasn't implying some special future period in Israel's history when there will be a nation-wide revival - rather, I think Paul was merely pointing-out that it was and still is always part of God's plan to turn Jewish individuals away from ungodliness. The door of repentance is still open for Jews! And that fact demonstrates God's faithfulness to His promises, not a failure of His promises.

Jesus Explained, Not Annulled, the Law

A lecturer at a Bible college in Melbourne - a theologian and author, and an ordained minister - said that there are "some [cases] where he [Jesus] seemed to annul an old law, e.g. over food".

But if Jesus annulled the food Laws of the Old Testament, wouldn't Peter have known that? Why then was Peter later so adamant that he shouldn't arise, kill and eat, even when he was told to by the Lord Himself in a vision? Why should he have been so surprised at the Lord's command in the vision, if he'd already heard the Lord annulling the old food Laws while He was still with him?

It seems to me that nothing Jesus ever did or said during His ministry was intended as an annulment at that time of any of the food Laws - or any other point of Moses' (God's) Law.

Jesus taught that food alone cannot defile a man - that it's the attitude of man's heart that defiles him. But that didn't categorically mean Jesus was annulling the original intent of the food Laws. He was merely bringing proper perspective back to those Laws.

That was then - because at that time Jesus was ministering exclusively to the lost sheep of Israel who were under the Old Covenant, not to Gentiles who would later be grafted into a new covenant.

The manner in which the food Laws - and any other point of the Law - applies or doesn't apply in the new covenant, is another topic. But the point here is that during Jesus' earthly ministry, nothing He did or said was ever intended as an anullment of any point of the Law. Rather, He explained the Law.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Mark 1:14,15 - Did Jesus Refer to Daniel's Prophecy About the 70 Weeks?

MARK 1:14,15
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

John Wesley's explanatory note:

The time is fulfilled - The time of my kingdom, foretold by Daniel, expected by you, is fully come.

I'm wondering whether this could refer to Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks, and the possible eschatological implications of that.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

I Thessalonians 2:1-12 - Who was He Who Did Let?

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that someone at that time was still hindering a particularly wicked person from fully doing his thing - and he assured them that they already knew who it was who was hindering him.

"And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed..." (IIThessalonians 2:6-8a).

After that person would be removed, then the particularly wicked person would be able to start doing his thing.

So that's why I commented that we probably won't see all the world's religions and nations unite anytime soon - unless Paul's statements about the hinderer are still to be fulfilled in future and unless the hinder gets removed soon.

But actually I sometimes wonder whether all that may have already happened, because:

1. It had to happen while the temple was still standing;
2. The first-century Thessalonians knew who the person was who was hindering it;
3. It had to coincide with a great falling away, which indeed happened in the first century;
4. The process was already underway in the first century (the mystery of iniquity did already work, it's just that there was a hindrance);
5.there was a ruler at that time who seems to fit the description - Nero Caesar (Nero opposed everything to do with God or any other religion; he claimed to be god; Roman idols were erected near the temple; under his rule it became practically impossible to buy or sell unless you worshipped Caesar; and incidentally, the number of Nero Caesar's name was known to add up to 666 - that system of numbering is even documented in non-Christian literature from that era); and
6. The purpose was to send delusion, which Paul said was happening to Israel at that time.

I do not feel comfortable however saying Nero - or Vespasian, Titus nor anyone else in first-century Rome - was that sinful man: I just think the view is worth considering, seeing the Temple hasn't existed since then, and seeing Paul said the first-century Thessalonians knew who the person was who was hindering it.

Anyway, even if it is yet to happen in future, notice Paul assured the Thessalonians that things couldn't escalate to the point that that wicked person could start doing his thing until after the hinderer had been removed. So that means until we know for sure that the hinderer has been removed, then we have no way of knowing for sure that world events are about to escalate into Great Tribulation, no matter how bad things get.

Unless we know for sure the hinderer has been removed, then what we are seeing is just the same old usual cycle of good and evil as they have always risen and fallen over the centuries. Things can't escalate yet, unless the hinderer has been removed. That would be why predictions keep flopping.

Among those who say it is still to happen in future, some say the hinderer is the Body of Christ. But that implies a pre-Tribulation secret rapture, which presents a problem because the Great Tribulation and a pre-tribulation secret rapture aren't even mentioned in the Bible.

Others say it's the Holy Spirit. But that also presents a problem because Jesus said, "Lo I am with you alway, even until the end of the world" - He didn't say anything about withdrawing the Holy Spirit.

Others say the hinderer is present politicians and law and order. But that presents a problem too, because Paul told the Thessalonians in the first-century that they knew who the hinderer was. How could they know him if he wasn't born until our generation?

It seems to leave only one possibility: the hinderer had to be someone who was known to the Thessalonians in the first century; and immediately after that person's removal, the wicked person began opposing God and all other religions; he began asserting his own position as god - and all of this happened simultaneously with a "great falling away" which Paul mentioned in one of his epistles was already taking place.

If that's so, then the one last great sign that had to happen before Jesus could come, has happened. And ever since then, there has been no more prophetic events which need to happen before Christ could come. He can now come at any hour!

I'm not saying this view is right, by any means. Please understand that. I don't feel entirely comfortable with it for some reason. So it may well still be future. I'm merely questioning whether it's possible to predict the return of the Lord based on the popular modern interpretation of those verses and current events such as seeing a sign on a Gold Coast mosque which read "Join all religions make one Nation".

Pastor Harry and Anabelle Walker

I enjoyed fellowshipping with sister Anabelle Walker and her husband Pastor Harry. He is the last surviving speaker of the Bundjalong language

Iceland Volcano - Sign of the End?

I just saw a documentary on SBS TV about a volcanic erruption in Iceland in 1783. It lasted 8 months. 80% of Iceland's sheep died. 50% of cattle died. The atmosphere became poisoned all over Europe. It even caused the worst famine in faraway Japan. An estimated 2 million people died worldwide. 2 million! It was the worst volcano in recorded history. But it wasn't the end of the world. That was 227 years ago.

This year 2010 we saw another volcano in Iceland. This time no sheep died. No cattle died. No famines were caused. There was no damage to property. No-one died - not one. But preachers were alarmed, calling it a sign that we were in the last hours of the last days. They called it an escalation of end-times signs. The Internet was a-flurry with end-times warnings. Some Christians in America started storing food for the last days.

Lol! Amazing - an Icelandic volcano causing 2 million deaths was not a sign of the end of the world, but another Icelandic volcano causing zero deaths is a sign of the end. Only modern end-timers - lol!

I'd like to start telling end-times jokes instead of Irish jokes - but the difference is, Irish people can take the joke and laugh at themselves, but end-timers get furious! They react as if you've just blasphemed. I reckon they'd just about have you tried for heresy and treason if they could!

When I asked a preacher a few months ago why the erruption was a sign of the end, I was called a scoffer. I was told I must be blind. I was unfriended on Facebook. One person invoked Yaweh to rebuke me. That was only three months ago yet we've nearly forgotten the volcano already.

You can see the funny side can't you? It doesn't mean I don't like end-timers - I know they've got darling hearts. It's just funny! Don't you think? Zero deaths vs 2 million deaths. At least the Irish can laugh at themselves.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Symbols in the Book of Revelation

I think the meanings of symbols in the Book of Revelation probably had the same meanings that the same symbols had in the Old Testament. The Bible is a unified document.

For example, since locusts in Joel were symbolic of a destructive army, then in Revelation locusts probably doesn't mean helicopters - it was probably just a symbol of some form of destruction, such as military destruction, the same as in Joel. That's how John himself might have understood the symbol.

Since in Daniel stars falling represented the disruption of everyday life and political upheavel, then in Revelation stars falling probably didn't mean comets - it probably just meant everyday life being disrupted and nations falling, same as in Daniel. That's how John's first-century readers might have understood the symbol.

Seeing beasts in Daniel represented rulers and kingdoms, then in Revelation beasts probably meant rulers or kingdoms too.

Comets falling might cause men's hearts to fear. But the Bible said all the stars of heaven fell and the heavens themselves were rolled-up! It's not just talking about a partial meteor shower! All the stars fell! The earth couldn't sustain life for a millenium after such an event, if it was fulfilled literally.

Comets can't be a fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel which said that the little horn would grow up to the stars and throw some of them down to the earth and step on them. That had to be symbolic. A human being couldn't have caused asteroids. And remember, this is the ruler who destroyed the Temple and city. They certainly didn't have technology back then that could cause asteroids!

Stars are part of normal everyday life. The stars are one thing that never changes from generation to generation. So when the Bible says the stars will fall, it was probably simply a symbolic way of saying everyday civilian life as it had been going-on for generations would be severely disrupted in a given location for a given time.

Stars also symbolized leadership. So when the Bible says the little horn will grow up to the stars then throw many of the stars down to the earth and step on them, it probably meant this ruler would expand his political control over a wide area and through military conquest even overthrow many nations that had been established for generations.

John was familiar with such Old Testament symbols, so in the Book of Revelation the angel probably used the same symbols in order to make the meaning of his message clear to John.

And John's first-century readers might also have been familiar with the same Old Testament symbols and their meanings - so the meanings of the symbols in Revelation might have been immediately clear to them also. That's what John intended. There wasn't meant to be any mystery about it. It wasn't meant to be a guessing game. We probably weren't meant to rely on 21st-century newspapers in order to make sense of the symbols. The Bible was already there to explain the symbols!

In Biblical symbolism, locusts often represented destruction, such as by an army - but it wasn't meant to describe the literal, physical appearance of the army. Stars falling represented calamity, such as political calamity - it didn't mean the physical stars were literally falling. John - and the seven churches - might have understood that symbolism.

Even the moon turning red probably may have had nothing to do with the physical moon. One verse says the moon will become red; another verse said the moon will cease giving any light at all. If that was talking about the physical moon, then it's contradictory because the moon can't look both red and black at the same time. But if it's simply a symbol of calamity and political upheavel, then it's not a contradiction - it makes sense. A red moon could symbolize blood shed and a moon not shining might symbolize 'lights-out' - a way of life being destroyed.

When a symbol already had an established use in Scripture, I question the hernemeutic that looks to events in today's newspapers, or to today's engineering, to give a new meaning to the symbols.

If locusts symbolized destruction through an army, it probably wasn't intended to describe the physical appearance of the war machinery - that is, John probably wasn't attempting to describe helicopters. Locusts described the fact of war, not the physical appearance of the engineering that would be used in the war.

Great men of God throughout the history of the Church often avoided the mistake of "newspaper exegesis". Instead, it is obvious in their commentaries that they used the meanings of Old Testament symbols in order to understand the meanings of symbols in the Book of Revelation. They used the Bible to explain the Bible.

But many modern eschatologists are using current affairs - the newspaper - to try to make sense of Bible-prophecy. They don't see the locusts and stars as symbols. They think John was seeing helicopters and attempting to describde them. They think the universe is literally going to fold-up. And that's why their predictions always flop - because the newspaper keeps changing, but God's Word never changes.

Use the newspaper to understand the Book of Revelation, and your predictions will flop. Use the Bible to understand the Book of Revelation, and you'll avoid repeating the same cycle of flopped predictions.

Newspaper exegesis says: Locusts = helicopters. Bible exegesis says: locusts = destruction, such as by an army. Newspaper exegesis says: Stars falling = comets. But Bible exegesis says: stars falling = political upheavel. Newspaper exegesis says: universe being rolled-up = literal end of the physical universe; Bible exegesis says sun and moon going dark, stars falling etc = upheavel in society.

As one Bible Interpretation Hint says: 'If it is new [not in the Bible] it cannot be true." Lol!

Back to the Bible - that's what I'm trying to do - in regard to interpreting the symbols in the Book of Revelation.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Rev.6:6 - Was It An Idiomatic Expression?

I was telling my dad how Wesley's explanatory note on this verse says it must have been filled at a time when the Grecian measure and Roman penny were in use, and in a place where they were in use; to which dad replied, "Unless it was an idiomatic expression". It was good that dad pointed-out to me that I should go through that thought-process before arriving at a conclusion. Dad then mentioned the parable of the workers being paid a penny for a day's labour. I think dad's implication was that it mightn't therefore be idiomatic but might be real.

What do you think - was it an idiomatic expression? I think it probably wasn't - because there are actually two separate statements here, which are similar. It seems to me therefore that either they both had to be idiomatic sayings of the day, or neither of them were.

But even if it was an idiomatic expression, it still means the prophecy can only be fulfilled at a time and in a place where the idiomatic expression was in use. To my knowledge, the expression is not idiomatic in modernday Europe, or America or the Middle East.

"A measure of wheat for a penny"; and "three measures of barley for a penny" sound to me like literal measures, and literal pennies. And if so, then as Wesley explained, the literal interpretation necessitates that it was fulfilled somewhere in the Roman Empire soon after the time of writing.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Essence of the Gospel Message - Especially as Pertains to the Theme of the Coming Kingdom - Luke 1:67-75

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
72To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

Here's another idea for further thought - about Messianic prophecies, the return of Christ and the coming Kingdom.

Let's imagine a military General promised, "I shall return", and the oppressed people take comfort in knowing that the general will subdue their enemies when he comes. The day the General returns, people are declaring every man to his neighbour that the promise has been fulfilled and the day of their liberation from their enemies has come. But it may take several weeks, or longer, before all their enemies are actually subdued. Nevertheless, the announcement was still true that the day of their promised liberation had come on the day the General arrived.

Perhaps in a similar way, the Messianic prophecies of God's coming judgment and coming Kingdom were indeed fulfilled when Jesus was born in the manger in Bethlehem - but in like manner as the military General's landing was only the start of his promised mopping-up operation, so the birth of Christ, and the earthly ministry of Christ, and the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Christ, were only the beginning of the total fulfillment of the full-package of the Messianic promises - the remainder being fulfilled throughout Church history to a limited extent perhaps, but ultimately and fully at the return of Christ.

The Gospel as a message comprises of the package-deal message, even though the ultimate fulfillment of each of the components of the message may in history be separated by thousands of years or longer. But of course there is an individual receiving of the full package deal in a spiritual, intrinsic, down-payment sort of a way, in the here and now. Perhaps there may even be corporate realizations of many aspects of the promises in regions, or in times of history. But the fullest sense of the promises won't be received until the coming of Christ and His Kingdom. Nevertheless, intrinsically the promises were fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

So when Zechariah prophesied that the birth of a baby fulfilled the promises that Israel would be delivered out of the hands of their enemies, it was as true as it was to say a country's promise of liberation was fulfilled the moment the military General's feet landed on the beach. Yes, Jesus' birth, in fact even John's birth, intrinsically fulfilled or in a sense heralded the promise to deliver Israel out of the hand of all their enemies - but historically it won't happen in fulness until the return of Christ. It will also only happen for the remnant who believe. Some of the remnant may experience it to varying degrees and at various times before the return of Christ too. It may also be experienced in a spiritual sense. But in any sense, it's true to say the promises were fulfilled by Christ.

It could be the same with end-times prophecy, such as Malachi, Daniel and the Olivet Discourse, and maybe even the Book of Revelation. Perhaps some events which historically may end-up being separated by thousands of years or longer, are described almost as if they were a single event - because the package-deal is intrinsically one and the same even though God in His longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, has extended the time.

Maybe that's why Jesus' answer to the question of His coming and His answer to the question of the destruction of the Temple make the events seem like one event - because intrinsically they are, even though historically they have ended-up being separated by a period of time.

Maybe that's why Daniel's prophecy about the mountain filling the earth sounds like something that happened right away, when historically the coming of Christ as a baby and as a prophet and as the Lamb of God to take away our sins - and His coming as King of kings and Lord of lords - may end-up being separated by thousands of years.

Maybe that's why Malachi's prophecy about Elijah coming and the Lord suddenly coming to His temple - before the great and noteable day of the Lord - are both made to sound almost like one day - because intrinsically that was the package-deal message of the day, even though historically there may be a time-period of thousands of years, due to God's longsuffering, not willing that any should perish.

If so, then regardless of where we are at in the timeline of ultimate history, our message is and should be still intrinsically the same - the same as John's, Jesus's, and the Apostles'. Hallelujah! It's the same Gospel message!

It's a message of fulfillment and of yet-to-be fulfilled, at the same time. It's a message of redemption and of judgment. It's a message of individually receiving Jesus and of the imminent ultimate realization of His kingdom - both intrinsically wrapped in the same packaging, as on offer, although the historical timing will differ, by how long nobody knows.

If so, then let's recover the same message of hope, of joy, of gladness, of realization, of promise - hallelujah!

Just an idea for further expansion.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Jesus Explained and Upheld the Law of the Sabbath - Matthew 12:1-12

None of Jesus' actions nor statements about the sabbath meant that He was breaking, improving on, or replacing the Law of the sabbath. Rather, Jesus' statements about the sabbath explained the Law of the sabbath.

Jesus was ministering to Jews who were still under the Old Covenant, and His statements need to be understood in that context.

The manner in which the spiritual meaning of the sabbath finds fulfillment in the lives of New Testament believers is another subject. But the point in the Book of Matthew and in this particular Blog post is that Jesus refuted the Pharisees' wrong application of the Law of the sabbath by explaining, upholding, obeying, and fulfilling the true meaning of the law of the sabbath - and at the time, He expected His disciples also to do no less.

Nothing Jesus ever said or did broke the Law or improved on the Law. He exemplified Law-keeping and taught Law-keeping on every point, exactly as it was originally intended.

Matthew 12:2
2 ...which was not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

Only in the Pharisees' minds was it unlawful to pick corn on the sabbath day under these circumstances.

Jesus explained that it was "lawful" - i.e., it was consistent with the law of the sabbath - to do good on the sabbath day - e.g., by healing the sick or lifting a sheep that has fallen into a pit.

Jesus said the Pharisees were condemning the guiltless, i.e., He was saying that His discipls were in fact guiltless under Moses' Law.

In order to explain the true meaning of the Law in regard to the sabbath, Jesus appealed to three sections of the Scriptures: He appealed to the writings of Moses in the Law itself; He illustrated it by an incident in the life of David; and He backed it up with a Scripture from the prophets - plus He added an appeal to a commonsense behaviour which even the Pharisees themselves were doing.

Jesus showed in the Law that the laws of the sabbath were never meant to over-arch the sacredness of other important functions in the house of God. Even under the Law, there were certain things which a person could do on the sabbath day without incurring guilt (verse 5).

An incident in the life of David illustrated the principle that some laws - such as those governing the use of the shewbread in the Temple - were not necessarily enforced in moments of life-and-death emergency.

The prophet illustrated the spirit in which the Law was intended, by saying, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice".

On top of all that, the Pharisees themselves had enough commonsense to lift a sheep from a pit on the sabbath day. Therefore they were actually being hypocritical.

Seeing then that the Law itself, when understood correctly, vindicated the disciples who were picking corn on the sabbath day - how much were they vindicated seeing a greater than the Temple was with them!

The Pharisees were misapplying the Law and hypocritically condemning the guiltless. But the truth under the Law always was that the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath. That was not some new idea which Jesus was introducing - Jesus was merely explaining the truth as it always was under the Law.

The son of man is Lord of the sabbath - without breaking the Law! In fact, the Law itself - and principles in the Law - upholds the Lordship of the son of man over the sabbath!

The Law itself allowed that the Temple and its required functions could over-arch certain requirements of the law pertaining to the sabbath - how much more, now that a greater than the Temple was here! This put the laws of the sabbaths and the disciples' actions that day, in proper perspective.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Daniel 12:4 - What Kind of Knowledge?

For those who claim we must be in the final generation because Daniel 12:4 prophesied an increase in knowledge, my question is - what kind of knowledge?

Although electronic technology has increased in recent generations, other kinds of knowledge may have been lost.

For example, although new jargon in the English language is being invented, old vocabulary is simultaneously being lost.

"In one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college," said Ross Mahan.

Even in languages like Cebuano and Japanese, a lot of older vocabulary is being lost to younger speakers.

The knowledge of herbal remedies is another area where we may be losing knowledge.

And what about practical skills knowledge? Many who know how to operate computer systems have missed-out on skills that were more widely known by previous generations, such as sewing or carpentry.

The knowledge of how to use an electric jigsaw may have increased - but would you say there has been a decline in the numbers of people who know how to make tongue-in-groove furniture?

I've slipped and slided on mountain walking tracks, while hilltribe children laughed at my ineptness and women observed with amusement, while even balancing heavy jars on their heads without using hands. Sure, I might know the Western way of explaining physics - but they obviously knew a thing or two about physics which I didn't know!

Another huge area where we are seeing a loss of knowledge is in languages. Someone has estimated that 90% of the world's 6,000 languages could be lost within 100 years:

"Many linguists predict that at least half of the world's 6,000 or so languages will be dead or dying by the year 2050. Languages are becoming extinct at twice the rate of endangered mammals and four times the rate of endangered birds. If this trend continues, the world of the future could be dominated by a dozen or fewer languages.

Even higher rates of linguistic devastation are possible. Michael Krauss, director of the Alaska Native Language Center, suggests that as many as 90 percent of languages could become moribund or extinct by 2100. According to Krauss, 20 percent to 40 percent of languages are already moribund, and only 5 percent to l0 percent are "safe" in the sense of being widely spoken or having official status. If people "become wise and turn it around," Krauss says, the number of dead or dying languages could be more like 50 percent by 2100 and that's the best-case scenario.

The definition of a healthy language is one that acquires new speakers. No matter how many adults use the language, if it isn't passed to the next generation, its fate is already sealed. Although a language may continue to exist for a long time as a second or ceremonial language, it is moribund as soon as children stop learning it. For example, out of twenty native Alaskan languages, only two are still being learned by children.

Fewer Languages, Fewer Thoughts

Although language extinction is sad for the people involved, why should the rest of us care? What effect win other people's language loss have on the future of people who speak English, for example? Replacing a minor language with a more widespread one may even seem like a good thing, allowing people to communicate with each other more easily. But language diversity is as important in its way as biological diversity.

Andrew Woodfield, director of the Centre for Theories of Language and Learning in Bristol, England, suggested in a 1995 seminar on language conservation that people do not yet know all the ways in which linguistic diversity is important. "The fact is, no one knows exactly what riches are hidden inside the less-studied languages," he says.

Woodfield compares one argument for conserving unstudied endangered plants--that they may be medically valuable--with the argument for conserving endangered languages. "We have inductive evidence based on past studies of well-known languages that there will be riches, even though we do not know what they will be. It seems paradoxical but it's true. By allowing languages to die out, the human race is destroying things it doesn't understand," he argues.

Stephen Wurm, in his introduction to the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing [see access, page 12], tells the story of one medical cure that depended on knowledge of a traditional language. Northern Australia experienced an outbreak of severe skin ulcers that resisted conventional treatment. Aborigines acquainted with the nurse told her about a lotion derived from a local medicinal plant that would cure the ulcers. Being a woman of broad experience, the woman didn't dismiss this claim for non-Western medical knowledge. Instead, she applied the lotion, which healed the ulcers.

This incident and similar ones have resulted in a general search throughout Australia for medicinal plants known to aboriginal people through their languages and traditional cultures. The search has to be fast because most Australian languages are dying. When they go, the medical knowledge stored in them will go too.

As Michael Krauss expresses it, the web of languages is a "microcosm of highly specialized information. Every language has its own take on the world. One language is not simply a different set of words for the same things." Just as we depend on biological complexity for our physical survival, we depend on linguistic complexity for our cultural survival.

Does Mainstreaming Require Language Death?

Some language loss, like species loss, is natural and predictable. No language exists forever. Just as plants and animals have appeared and disappeared over the millennia, languages evolve, grow, and spread, and eventually dwindle and die. Sometimes they're replaced by their "descendant" languages, as Italian gradually replaced Latin. Other times they're forced out, as the ancient Etruscan language was when Latin speakers overran the Italian peninsula.

Language extinction is accelerating today for some of the same reasons as species extinction--population pressures and the spread of industrialization. The global economy often forces small, unindustrialized communities to choose between their traditional language and participation in the larger world. East Africans need to speak Swahili for success; Central Europeans need to speak Russian; and lately, the whole world seems to need to speak English. Sometimes these languages coexist with the local language. More often, they eventually replace it as older speakers die and younger ones adopt the more-useful tongue.

As Nicolas Ostler points out, "Modem media have produced a strange phenomenon, giving children a source of knowledge about the world which is independent of the knowledge that comes from their elders in their own community. [Since] it conveys a sense of wealth that is not available in most places ... it is not surprising that children are seduced by it..."

- Rosemarie Ostler

I think the type of knowledge which Daniel foresaw an increase in is the knowledge of God, and an increase in knowledge about Daniel's prophecy. I think the running to and fro which he foresaw was probably activity in relation to God's Word or to prophecy. That's been the general understanding of this verse, by many great men of God throughout church history (see Wesley's Explanatory Notes; Matthew Henry Commentary; Geneva Study Bible; and Jamieson Faucett and Brown Commentary).

The view that it refers to modern technology is only a modern view. It was never the standard take on that verse throghout church history.

And even if the modern view is the right view, we still can't assert on that basis that our generation must certainly be the last - because we can only compare current increases in the level of technology with past levels - we can't compare it with any future leaps in technology which may come in a future generation.

There was a time when the knowledge of God began to increase in Israel, just as Daniel foresaw. When John began to preach, the people who sat in darkness saw a great light. When Jesus began to preach, a great light shone. Through the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles it came to pass in Israel that no-one needed to say, 'Know the Lord', for they were all getting to know Him. God was writing His laws on the hearts of the multitudes who were being born from above.

The Gentiles were also grafted-in, and the knowledge of God increased among the Gentiles. Within Paul's own lifetimes it came to pass that the Gospel was preached to every nation under heaven. Within a few centuries, idolatry was virtually eliminated from Europe. And now in 2010 more nations and tribes are hearing about God than ever before.

Daniel's main concern however, was the nation of Israel. His prophecy therefore was most likely fulfilled by the events of the first century, when the New Covenant was first made with Israel, through Jesus Christ. Truly, the knowledge [of God] increased and many began heeding God's prophetic Word - the Gospel.

Since the day of Pentecost therefore, we have been in "the last days", the "last hour". Jesus could come at any hour, irrespective of any increases or decreases in human knowledge be it technology, languages, natural science or anything such like. The son of man cometh at an hour when you think not. And no-one knows the year, season, day nor hour.

Daniel 9:27 & Mark 13:14 - Fulfilled or Future?

May I ask a question about your above explanation, in hopes that through your response I might attain what is lacking in my understanding?

Why do we need to look for a future fulfillment of a prophecy which has already been fulfilled?

My understanding is that although Antiochus Epiphanes did indeed set-up an abomination in the Temple, that was not the abomination which Daniel prophesied about, because Israel did not go into desolations after that event. Daniel's prophecy stated that the setting-up of the abomination would be followed by the desolation of the nation.

Jesus never mentioned a future special seven-year period of God's dealings with Israel, so my feeling is that it takes considerable licence to say that "Jesus predicted that this 'abomination of desolation'...would occur at the midway point..."

There was however one moment in history when an abomination was set-up where it ought not to have been, which was followed by the nation being made desolate for nearly 2,000 years - and that was in AD70, exactly as Jesus predicted.

So why should we expect a future repeat-fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 and of Mark 13:14?

And is it really the "general understanding of prophecy" that it must be fulfilled by a future European ruler? That wasn't the general understanding of men of God like Wesley, Matthew Henry, Jamieson Faucett and Brown. They believed it was fulfilled by the events of AD70, just as Jesus predicted.

The choice with which I am confronted is not a choice whether to believe the Bible or not - rather, it is a choice whether to believe in a modern, popular view or to believe in the general understanding of prophecy adhered to for centuries by many of the great reformers, revivalists, missionaries and evangelists of the Church.

So I'm still left with the question - is there a solid basis in Scripture for the assertion that a temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem before Jesus can return?

I sincerely hope you can help me clear this up, using actual Scriptures, with good hermneneutics, good exegesis, and drawing on generally accepted commentary by great men of God throughout church-history, rather than merely quoting the assertions of a popular, modern view.

Otherwise I will probably tend towards the general understanding of prophecy rather then the popular modern view - meaning, I am considering the view that Jesus could come back today if the Father wills, even though no replica temple has been built.

Daniel 12:4

Has human knowledge increased in our generation?

"In one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college." ~ Ross Mahan

Daniel's prophecy was probably about an increase in knowledge about God generally and about Daniel's prophecy specifically. Running to and fro probably referred to activity in relation to the Word of God or directly to Daniel's prophecy.

Must Jesus Return Within the Israel-1948 Generation?

In my 31 years as a Christian, I've heard so many predictions about the end of the world, and all of them have one thing in common - they've all flopped. So what I am looking for is a Biblical reason why we should be so sure that the predictions which are being bandied around today about our generation are more reliable. Otherwise, I don't want to pass them on! Good idea, don't you think.

A verse popularly used to assert that Jesus must return in our generation is the verse about the fig tree. Do you mind if I express my feelings about that popular assertion, in hopes that by your response I might further enhance my understanding? I wonder how conclusive it really is that Jesus' parable of the fig-tree was a prediction about the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948.

I know figs were once used as an illustration by the prophet Jeremiah. But far from talking about the rebirth of the nation, it was talking about God's decision that Israel should go into captivity (Jeremiah 24).

I know the vineyard was once used as an illustration by the prophet Isaiah. But on that occasion it was a vineyard of grapes and not figs that was mentioned - and neither did it talk about the rebirth of the nation, but rather the destruction of the nation (Isaiah 5).

I know fig trees were mentioned by the prophet Nahum, but that time it was not about Israel, but about the Gentile city of Nineveh. And once again, it was about the destruction of the city (Nahum 3:12).

I know Jesus told a parable about a fig tree that was fruitless for three years. Once again, it wasn't talking about the rebirth of Israel, rather it was a warning to Israel's leaders of the very opposite!

I know Jesus cursed a fig tree. But it doesn't say the event was symbolic about Israel; and even if it was, it didn't prophesy the rebirth of Israel, because Jesus said to the fig tree, "Let no man eat fruit from you henceforth and forever".

So I've observed two things in the Bible about the fig tree: Firstly, a fig tree didn't always symbolize Israel: it also represented a Gentile nation - but a statement was always included which explained the meaning that the fig tree was intended to have in the context; and Secondly, I've noticed that everytime the fig tree was used symbolically in the Bible, it was talking about the captivity or destruction of a nation, rather than its rebirth.

With that background in mind, allow me to now express my current feelings about the parable of the fig tree in the Olivet discourse, which you quoted. Knowing that a fig tree does not automatically symbolize Israel, the first thing I do is look for a statement to indicate that it was intended in this context to be about Israel - but I find an absence of a explanatory statement in the passage which conclusively identifies the fig-tree as Israel.

But even if it IS talking about Israel, I then look for support for your assertion that the blossoming of its branches is about the REBIRTH of Israel (even though in every other symbolic use of the fig-tree in the Bible, the context is always about the captivity or destruction and not the rebirth of a nation). Again, I don't find anything in the Olivet discourse which conclusively explains that the blossoming of the branches is about the rebirth of Israel.

To the contrary, it seems to be about the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, rather than about its rebirth as a nation (because Jesus explained, "So likewise ye, when ye see THESE THINGS come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand". What were "these things"? It refers back to the things Jesus had just finished describing - which was all about the destruction of Jerusalem, not its rebirth. I'm keeping in mind that Jesus was answering the disciples' questions not only about His coming but also about the signs of the destruction of the Temple and city.

But even if the blossoming of the fig tree IS talking about the rebirth of Israel rather than about its destruction, I then look for evidence in the text that events of 1948 could have fulfilled this. But I notice in Luke's account, that He said, "Behold the fig tree, and ALL THE TREES; when THEY now shoot forth, ye see and know..." So Jesus never talked about the fig-tree being the only tree to shoot forth its branches - rather, He mentioned ALL THE TREES. So apparently Jesus wasn't intending to be deliberate in His use of the fig-tree over other trees, in His parable.

But even if He WAS being deliberate in His mention not only of all ALL THE TREES shooting forth their branches but also in His menion specifically of the FIG TREE shooting forth its branches, and even if it does indeed refer to the rebirth of Israel, then it must mean that not only Israel but ALL the nations of the earth would also be rebirth. This did not happen in 1948.

So, is the parable of the fig tree and all the trees a prophecy about the rebirth of Israel in 1948? Dake's Annotated Reference Bible comments: "...this could not possibly be the meaning".

I think there is a perception that the view which you have alluded to has long been the established and accepted view - but actually it's only a relatively recent deviation from what for many centuries was the standard view held by many of the church's great reformers, revivalists, missionaries and evangelists.

For example, John Wesley's Explanatory Notes Upon the Whole Bible; Matthew Henry's Commentary; and Jamieson Faucett and Brown's Commentary do not take the view which you have asserted in regard to the Olivet discourse.

I'm not necessarily agreeing with Dake, Wesley, Matthew Henry, Jamieson, Faucett and Brown, nor am I saying the modern assertion isn't possible. I'm merely expressing my feeling that I don't see the popular modern take on the fig-tree verse in the Olivet discourse as being in itself substantial enough to be used as a basis for the assertion that Jesus must return within the 1948 generation. He said it's not for us to know the years, seasons, day, nor hour.

Am I still doing okay?

Signs of the Times

Do you share my feeling that the literal meaning of the KJV rendering of Rev.6:6 necessitates a fulfillment while the Roman Empire was in existence and somewhere in the Roman Empire?

When I first read that verse in Revelation, it didn't change my eschatological view either - because I didn't have a presupposed view at the time. However, I can remember having a sense for many years whenever reading that verse that the details in the verse - details such as the standard of measurement; currency and the price specified - seemed deliberate, and seemed to set parameters for the timeframe in which it would be possible for the prophecy to be fulfilled.

That's if all the details are applied in their literal meaning. My view on whether or not a text should be taken literally is that a text should be taken literally unless the genre of the literature is a genre which is not meant to be taken literally, such as poetry. But even then, preferably there ought to be something in the text itself that indicates it shouldn't be taken literally. A need to make the meaning fit our presupposed idea is not a legitimate reason for not taking a text literally.

My view of Bible-translation is that a translator doesn't have the right to decide that a particular detail in the original is unimportant. I believe every detail in the original is inspired. So if the original says wheat will sell for "one penny" then it isn't allowable for a translator to change it to read "a day's wages". His job is to translate, not interpret. Even though a day's wages may have been equal to one penny at the time of writing, that isn't the detail which John heard in his vision - he specifically heard, "a penny". The difference can mean thousands of years of discrepancy in the intended time-frame of the prophecy's fulfillment!

Whilst I was reading the Bible on Sunday night, after studying a different topic for about half an hour, I then asked the Lord to teach me something about eschatology. The reason I asked Him, is because nowadays there is so much talk about "signs" and about the current global crisis and the end of the world.

I felt Him say, "Matthew 16". There I found that when the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign, He told them that it's a wicked and adulterous generation which seeks a sign, and that no sign would be given to it, except the sign of Jonas.

So that's the first point I learned - Jesus has no intention of giving unbelievers spectacular signs. That flies in the face of what we're hearing end-times preachers say today: they are claiming that the tsunamis, earthquakes, the volcano, and the global financial crisis are spectacular signs that God is giving to warn unbelievers of the end of the world. When all along what Jesus actually said is, "...there shall no sign be given to it..." When preachers ignore that, and try to see eschatological significance in every disaster that happens, it's no wonder their predictions tend to flop!

Then I read that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not being able to discern the "signs of the times". In other words, the only genuine signs which would ever be given were already in place and should have been evident to them. Obviously these signs had nothing to do with natural disasters!

I also noticed something about the word "times". Jesus was obviously not talking exclusively about the time of the last generation before His return - otherwise, how could He rebuke them for not discerning the signs of the times? Jesus was obviously talking about that time in which they lived.

Then I noticed that in the same chapter, Jesus goes on to speak about His coming. So that sets the scope of the time-period which Jesus was discussing. He was talking about the time in which the Pharisees then lived, and He was talking about all the time inbetween up until the time of His coming. It was in this period of time - inclusive - that Jesus said there would be no sign given. So once again He gave no indication that we should expect natural disasters which would be a conclusive sign of the last generation before His return.

The only extra sign Jesus said would be given would be the sign of the prophet Jonas, which happend to be fulfilled by Jesus spending three days in the belly of the earth followed by His resurrection. The death-burial-and resurrection of Jesus ought to be signs enough! whereof the Apostles were witnesses.

So what I learned on Sunday night is that Jesus seemed to make a disclaimer that any spectacular signs would ever be given which would be conclusive evidence of the last generation before His return.

That ought to put the significance of today's catastrophes in perspective!

Later-on Jesus did mention the signs of earthquakes, famines, wars etc., in Matthew 24. But notice these were not signs that would be given to the Pharisees or to this generation generally - because Jesus had already said that no sign would be given to it. The purpose of these signs specified by Jesus was in answer to specific questions not only about His coming, but also about the timing of the destruction of the Temple.

The language of most of this passage of Scripture is specific to Jerusalem. It isn't talking about Gentiles living in the uttermost parts of the earth! For example, Jesus said they wouldn't even have had time yet to finish preaching in all the towns of Israel before this event happens; and the final sign would be that they would see armies besieging Jerusalem - and then they should flee. That has no relevance to Christians living in Australia at the time of the second coming. But it would be relevant to first-century disciples living in Jerusalem.

He told them to pray their flight wouldn't fall on a sabbath. He said it would be a really difficult time for anyone who was pregnant. Why would Jesus bother to say such things if He was talking about the event of His second coming? In that advent, it matters not what day of the week it is nor whether or not someone is pregnant. But if you're about to flee the city of Jerusalem, then it's relevant! He was answering the question about the destruction of the Temple. And it came to pass exactly as Jesus said.

In the same passage Jesus also talked about His coming - and I don't find it easy to distinguish which of His statements refer to the destruction of the Temple and which of His statements refer to His coming. So it may be that Jesus was saying phenomenon such as earthquakes, wars, etc would also accompany the entire Gospel age as signs to the disciples of the nature of the days - the whole Gospel era is intrinsically the "last hour".

I don't find it easy to distinguish everything in Matthew 24, but at least I can see that the text doesn't prove as conclusively as we've been led to believe that phenomena such as volcanoes, global financial crises, and other catastrophes of 2010 have any value as signs of the last generation before Christ returns or as signs that world-events are about to escalate into great tribulation in our generation. It could happen - but it's not conclusive, based on this text.

So that means the text can't be used as a basis for making predictions about our generation. It's still true that "no man knows the day or the hour" and that "it's not for you to know the years nor the seasons which the Father has placed in His own power".

The term "The Great Tribulation" isn't even in the Bible in the KJV. In modern translations the terms exists - but not in the KJV. The KJV mentions "tribulation" generally, and "great tribulation" specifically at the time of the siege of Jerusalem - but it doesn't mention a special period called "The Great Tribulation" just prior to the return of the Lord.

I've pointed these things out to preachers recently, and they have responded by saying that they feel no need to differ from the generally accepted view. But the thing is, their view has only been the "generally accepted view" since their view was popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible, and by Hal Lyndsey's book, and supported by recent Bible versions. Prior to that, the generally accepted view for centuries was the view expressed in the Matthew Henry Commentary, or in Wesley's Explanatory Notes of the Bible, or in Jamieson Faucett and Brown's Commentary. Our generation hasn't only lost some of the great songs and hymns of the church - it has also lost some of the historically accepted understandings of some key passages of Scripture. And a possible cause - or effect - of this, is that this generation is also by-and-large reading a text which takes licence which obscure the literal meaning in some key passages of Scripture.

Just a thought!

The Lord promises, "Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not". I love it when He does it!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

NIV vs. KJV Eschatology

Rev. 6:6 in the KJV says:

"...a measure of wheat for a penny..."

It was a prophecy about an imment crisis in wheat prices.

Notice three specifics about that translation:

(1) The unit of measure is specified - it was called the "measure" - the Grecian measure (which was more or less equal to one quart, and was the standard unit of measurement at the time of writing);

(2) The currency is specified - it was the "penny" - the Roman denarius; and

(3) The exact price is specified - "one penny".

Now notice how the NIV renders the verse:

"...a quart of wheat for a day's wages..."

Notice three specifics about that rendering:

(1) It made the unit of measurement unimportant, changing it from the Grecian "measure" - to the "quart";

(2) It eliminated any specific currency altogether; and

(3) Instead of specifying the price as "one penny" it broadened the price to "a day's wages" without being any more specific.

The licence taken by the NIV rendering leaves the meaning wide-open for anyone to think the prophecy might be fulfilled virtually anywhere, at any time - regardless of the unit of measurement, the currency, the actual price of the wheat, and regardless of what might be happening elsewhere in the world - so long as in the reader's own locality of concern the price of an equivalent quantity of wheat is equivalent to a day's wages in his location. The problem with that is it makes it virtually impossible to ever really know for sure whether the prophecy has been fulfilled even if we are seeing it apparently being fulfilled before our eyes.

Whereas if we take every point of the KJV translation literally, it means, as John Wesley explained, that:

"This must have been fulfilled while the Grecian measure and the Roman money were still in use; as also where that measure was the common measure, and this money the current coin" [underlining added].

Taking the KJV literally means therefore that the prophecy probably had to have been fulfilled soon after the time of writing and somewhere in the Roman Empire. When the price of one Grecian measure of wheat began selling for one Roman denarius, the readers would therefore know that the prophecy was being fulfilled.

Modern Bible versions such as the NIV may therefore be contributing factors in today's end-times views, and may be a cause of some of today's oft-repeated cycle of failed end-times predictions. But back in the day when the KJV was more widely in use, the standard understanding of many such prophetic passages of Scripture was quite different. Matthew Henry's bible commentary as well as Jamieson Faucett and Brown's commentary agree with Wesley's explanation above.