Jesus’ Bloodline

jesus bloodline

angelofsweetbitter2009, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: There is much undue controversy regarding Jesus’ bloodline.

Fictional works such as The Da Vinci Code make the claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had children, thus perpetuating Jesus’ bloodline to present times. Atheistic criticisms also argue that there is a discrepancy between the two lists of Jesus’ ancestors, which means that the Biblical account is contradictory and likely false.

As to the first, it is hardly worth dignifying the claim with a response. All that is appropriate to point out is that Jesus Christ was the supernatural incarnation of God on earth and God had already taken the nation of Israel as His bride. To marry and procreate with another would call into question the arguments that the Lord makes against Israel, saying that they were and will be impatient and not wait for their true husband (thus leading to the great falling away).

The second argument is worth more attention since it addresses Jesus’ bloodline as it is actually mentioned in the Bible. In Luke and Matthew there are two different genealogies listed.

In Matthew, Jesus descends from Adam and from Adam’s descendant  David, through his son Nathan. This is the natural and legal bloodline of Jesus Christ through birth.

In Luke 3:23, the verse reads “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,” and it follows with Jesus’ bloodline all the way back to Adam through David’s son Solomon. This phrase “as was supposed” is key to understanding this genealogy  In Greek it translates to “according to Law”. Since Joseph married Mary, Jesus was legally Joseph’s son but not actually (as Mary had a virgin birth).

Jesus is legally recognized as being the rightful inheritor of the royal line through Solomon as well as physically being of the line of the priesthood through Nathan. Jesus Christ is simultaneously the High Priest and the King, as the two are united in one person.

The Meaning of Easter: Bible Verses and Historical Research to Find Answers

easter traditions

Sea Turtle, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: With Easter fast approaching, more and more people are revisiting the holiday to understand its meaning and relationship to the Christian faith. But the only way to understand the true meaning of Easter is to examine both the Bible and history.

The Real Meaning of Easter

A search for the real meaning of Easter will usually yield articles and commentary reminding Christians that the holiday is supposed to represent the resurrection of Jesus Christ and does not have to do with chickens and bunnies. These elements, it is argued, are secondary to honoring Christ’s victory over the cross.

The thesis of this article argues the contrary: the real meaning of Easter has everything to do with eggs, bunnies, and chickens. The holiday that actually marks Christ’s resurrection is generally forgotten and, what’s more, usually doesn’t even fall on the same day as Easter. The first portion of this article examines the pagan roots of Easter traditions. We examine the name of the holiday itself, the Easter bunny, and the history of Easter eggs. In the second part of the article, we look at Bible verses about Easter and how Christians today not only usually ignore the resurrection of Christ but also celebrate a holiday that God has forbidden in the Bible.

Easter Traditions

Easter traditions are quite varied depending on what part of the world you live in and what (if any) church you attend.

In the Christian tradition, the 40 days prior to Easter are called Lent. Believers are supposed to engage in a period of fasting, repentance, and prayer. The week immediately preceding Easter is known as Holy Week with Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday commemorating the Last Supper. Good Friday marks the day which, according to the Christian Easter traditions, Jesus was crucified. Easter Sunday is supposed to be the day Christ resurrected and Easter is followed by a 50 day period called the Easter Season or Eastertide which ends with Petecost Sunday which is the date that Christ was said to have returned to heaven.

Setting aside the issue of days, which we shall return to later, the name of the holiday itself is problematic. The word “Easter” comes to us from the Old English Easterdaeg, which itself descends from the Proto-Germanic term Austron. Austron was a goddess of fertility and the spring, and her name is formed from a root meaning “to shine”, especially at dawn. The pagan feast of Easter was celebrated at roughly the Spring Equinox to honor and hope for fertility and growth in the coming year.

Easter Bunny Origins

The symbol of the rabbit became associated with the traditional Easter holiday around the middle of the 19th century, yet the associations and relationship to the fertility festival existed for many years. In ancient times, the rabbit was considered a hermaphrodite. It was said that the rabbit could reproduce without losing its virginity so the early church quickly connected it to the Virgin Mary.

Rabbits are ancient symbols of fertility since they give birth to large litters in the first few days of spring. As such, the easter bunny’s origins lay with the Spring Equinox celebration in honor of the fertility goddess.

History of Easter Eggs

Eggs are an obvious and old symbol of fertility which pre-date the Christian Easter traditions. The practice of dying eggshells has been around for thousands of years and was first put into service by Christians in Mesopotamia when they dyed the eggs red to represent the blood Christ shed on the cross.

Many Christian churches have formally adopted eggs into their Easter traditions. They say that the egg is shaped like a stone and is symbolic of the empty grave. The egg is also said to symbolize new life with the resurrection. Yet outside of Christianity it has seen wide use as a direct symbol for fertility. Ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for a celebration which fell on the Spring Equinox.

Christian churches have made parallels between Christ’s resurrection and the eggs, making the history of Easter eggs intertwined with that of the traditional acknowledgement of the Christian event. But they have no direct connection to the event Christians are supposed to be celebrating and instead are related to a pagan fertility celebration.

Easter Bible Verses

There is but one verse in the Bible where the word “Easter” is used. This is in Acts 12:4 where it reads “And when he had apprehended him [Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. In verse 3 we are told that this occurred within “the days of unleavened bread” which is Passover.

In Greek, this word “Easter” is pascha. The Strong’s Concordance gives four definitions:

“1) The paschal sacrifice (which was accustomed to be offered for the people’s deliverance of old from Egypt)”

“2) the paschal lamb, i.e. the lamb the Israelites were accustomed to slay and eat on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan (the first month of their year) in memory of the day on which their fathers, preparing to depart from Egypt, were bidden by God to slay and eat a lamb, and to sprinkle their door posts with its blood, that the destroying angel, seeing the blood, might pass over their dwellings; Christ crucified is likened to the slain paschal lamb”

“3) the paschal supper”

“4) the paschal feast, the feast of the Passover, extending from the 14th to the 20th day of the month Nisan”

Elsewhere this is translated as “Passover”. What is interesting, and perhaps critical to note, is that 1 Corinthians 5:7 states that we should “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” Christ became the Passover lamb that was slain to mark our deliverance from bondage.

 

Easter Dates

Matthew 26:2, Mark 14:1, and John 19:14 all document that Christ was crucified during the Passover holiday. We of course recall the choice the crowd was given to free one of the prisoners for Passover, either Christ or Barabbas.

Passover itself is 14 days after the Spring Equinox. We see in Exodus 12:2 that the first month of the old calendar is Abib, which begins on the Spring Equinox. In Deuteronomy 16:1 it states that the “in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” We see also in Number 9:4-5 that the children of Israel were commanded to keep the Passover on the 14th day of the first month, which is 14 days after the Spring Equinox.

In 2013, the Spring Equinox was on March 20. 14 days later, on April 3 marks the beginning of the Christian Passover.

So what we have is a celebration of a pagan fertility holiday on a date other than the actual date of the Christian Passover.

What is more uncomfortable for us is the fact that Passover is a High Sabbath day, which makes it holier than the normal Sabbath. Christ became the Sabbath for the faithful (Hebrews 4:8, Colossians 2:16-17) and so his resurrection marks a High Sabbath in Christianity.

The servants of God are commanded to “keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant” (Isaiah 56:6). And those who do not honor the sabbath (Jeremiah 17:27) are destroyed.

The Biblical Meaning of Numbers

Martin LaBar, Flickr.

Martin LaBar, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: People have long searched the Scripture for deeper meaning. One somewhat neglected area of study has been the Biblical meaning of numbers. If each word in the Bible is the direct revelation of God, then each word must have significance and meaning for the believer. As a result, there must be a Biblical meaning behind what numbers are used since there are no coincidences or mistakes with God.

 

 

Below is a table that describes the Biblical meaning of numbers as I have found them in the Scripture. You are encouraged to do your own research to determine if the numerology and meanings are correct, or if they have any relevance to your understanding of the word. Before I present the full table, there is some justification behind a few of the numbers.

 

For instance, I claim that the number one denotes unity and new beginnings. We can see this with the first and only begotten Son, the first light, the first day, and so forth.

 

The number two can actually mean union or division, depending on its context. We see the Biblical requirement for two witnesses before condemning someone to death, the like example of the two witnesses in Revelation, but also we see phrases such as “double minded” and having a “double heart” which imply division.

 

I claim that the number three has a spiritual meaning of divine completeness and perfection, as exemplified through the Trinity.

 

The Biblical meaning of number four is the Creation and the world. We see this with references to the four winds, the four corners, the four seasons, and so on.

 

Five is generally grace, which first manifests itself in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) which serves as God’s story of delivering the people into the promised land through his grace. Five is also the leading figure in the numbers given for the tabernacle measurements.

 

Six denotes man. Man was created on the sixth day, he works six days out of the week, his day is a multiple of six, and all men who stand against God are emphatically marked by six.

 

The meaning of seven is spiritual perfection. Seven regulates the periods of gestation and incubation for animals, humans, birds, and insects. There are seven trumps, seven seals, seven vials, and 7,000 who were chosen of God.

 

Eight is a new beginning. The eighth is a new first, as seen in music, colors, days of the week, and the first day after the Lord’s rest.

 

Nine denotes judgment, or spiritual fruit (the end result, the evaluation of the final product). It is 3 x 3, or the result of divine completeness. The number nine or related numbers are seen in all instances where judgment is the subject.

 

Ten represents the testimony and the law; there are ten commandments we all must follow and when ten is used, it is generally alongside a subject of finality.

 

Full Table of the Biblical Meaning of Numbers:

 

No.

Meaning

1

Unity; New beginnings

2

Union; Division; Witnessing

3

Divine completeness and perfection

4

Creation; The world; Creative works

5

Grace; God’s goodness; Pentateuch (first five books)

6

Weakness of man; Manifestation of sin ; Evils of Satan

7

Resurrection; Spiritual completeness; Fathers perfection

8

New birth; New beginnings

9

Fruit of the spirit; Divine completeness from the Father

10

Testimony; Law and responsibility

11

Disorder and judgment

12

Governmental perfection

13

Apostasy; depravity and rebellion

14

Deliverance; Salvation

15

Rest

16

Love

17

Victory

18

Bondage

19

Faith

20

Redemption

21

Exceeding sinfulness of sin

22

Light

23

Death

24

The Priesthood

25

Repentance; The forgiveness of sins

26

The Gospel of Christ

27

Preaching of the Gospel

28

Eternal life

29

Departure

30

Blood of Christ; Dedication

31

Offspring

32

Covenant

33

Promise

34

Naming of a son

35

Hope

36

Enemy

37

The word of our Father

38

Slavery

39

Disease

40

Trials; Probation; Testings

42

Israel’s oppression; First advent

44

Judgment of the World

45

Preservation

50

Holy Spirit; Pentecost

60

Pride

66

Idol worship

70

Punishment and restoration of Israel; Universality

100

Election; Children of the promise

119

Spiritual perfection and victory 7*17=119

120

Divine period of probation

144

The Spirit guided life

200

Insufficiency

600

Warfare

666

Antichrist

777

Christ

888

Holy Spirit; The sum of Tree of Life

1000

Divine completeness and Fathers glory

4000

Salvation of the world through the blood of the Lamb ( Those who chose between Christ and Antichrist)

6000

Deception of Antichrist; Second advent

7000

Final judgment; Zadok

144,000

Those numbered of Israel

Amazing Grace: Lyrics and History

Amazing Grace

Richard Johnstone, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Amazing Grace is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. Its message of redemption through the mercy of God have inspired the faithful since it was first penned.

The English poet and Christian leader John Newton wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace in 1779. Newton himself matured without any particular religious conviction, but once during a storm he weathered as a sailor in the Royal Navy, he was so terrified that he cried out to God for mercy. This act of repentance and humility eventually put him on the path for theological studies.

Amazing Grace likely didn’t have any music when it was first written. The chorus may have just been chanted by church congregations. In Britain, the song wasn’t very popular, but it was extremely influential in America’s Second Great Awakening in the 19th century.

The Lyrics to Amazing Grace:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Jesus and the Fig Tree

  Madame Ming, Flickr.


Madame Ming, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Two slightly different stories of Jesus Christ cursing a fig tree are presented in the New Testament. The timeline of events holds significance for what message is being taught.

Christ’s curse occurs in two places: in the book of Matthew and the book of Mark.  The passages are as follows.

Matthew 21:10-22:
Matthew 21:10  And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
Matthew 21:11  And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
Matthew 21:12  And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
Matthew 21:13  And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Matthew 21:14  And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
Matthew 21:15  And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
Matthew 21:16  And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
Matthew 21:17  And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
Matthew 21:18  Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
Matthew 21:19  And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
Matthew 21:20  And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
Matthew 21:21  Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
Matthew 21:22  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Mark 11:11-26
Mark 11:11  And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
Mark 11:12  And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
Mark 11:13  And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
Mark 11:14  And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
Mark 11:15  And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
Mark 11:16  And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
Mark 11:17  And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Mark 11:18  And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
Mark 11:19  And when even was come, he went out of the city.
Mark 11:20  And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
Mark 11:21  And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
Mark 11:22  And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
Mark 11:23  For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Mark 11:24  Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Mark 11:25  And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Mark 11:26  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Analysis – Why did Jesus Christ Curse the Fig Tree?

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem riding on a donkey (as we find in the prior verses).  Zechariah 9:9 documents that the true king will ride to Jerusalem on a donkey, preceding the day when the Lord destroys the enemies of Israel. Upon his arrival, he casts out people who polluted the temple.  In Matthew 21:13 Jesus states “It is written” and quotes a composite of two verses: Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.  This chapter of Isaiah promises salvation to any who keep pure the Sabbaths and the house of God while Jeremiah calls on Israel to repent from idolatry and of polluting the house of God.  The lesson of the cursed tree is in relation to the entire Christian community and refers to a particular struggle between false gods and the true God.  Matthew 21:16 has Jesus saying “Have ye not read” and this refers to Psalms 8:2.  It reads “Out of the mouth of babes and suckling has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”  The enemy, naturally, is Satan (the word “Satan” in Hebrew means “Adversary” or enemy).  The lesson of the tree concerns the struggle with Satan and those who serve him.  Any time figs are utilized in the Bible, it refers to the controversy between Civitas Dei and the Civitas Diaboli – those who serve God and those who serve Satan.  We find in Genesis 3:7 that after the serpent (which is Satan as documented in Revelation 12:9) tempted Adam and Eve, they discovered that they were naked and sewed together aprons of fig leaves to hide their sin.  The enemies of God and those who Satan actively utilizes for his purpose are bad figs, those who serve God are good figs.  Jeremiah 24 has God giving Jeremiah two baskets of figs that look the same, but in one basket are good figs and in the other are bad figs.  God promises to provide for the good figs and to destroy the bad.

In Mark, the order of events is changed.  Jesus enters the temple first, then leaves before throwing out the moneychangers.  After leaving Bethany he is hungry but finds no fruit, kills the tree right there, then goes and casts out the moneychangers.  This documents that the exchange between Christ and those in the temple is related to the teaching of the tree; the apparent contradiction serves to draw attention to the importance of the lesson.

So what does this mean for the curse?  We have some information so far: Christ has an exchange with enemies of God – bad figs, who run the temple.  To say very plainly that the identification of the bad figs with the priests is accurate, since this same group would plot to crucify Christ and would later conspire to murder Paul.  Just as Christ cast out the moneychangers, he strikes the fig tree and promises the disciples that they can do the same.  Further, his words to the disciples state that they can cast down mountains, which in prophecy have signified nations and governments.  The first lesson of the tree is that Christ gives his followers power over their enemies so long as they believe in that power.  The believer has power over their enemies with the aid of Christ (Luke 10:19).  The interaction of the Old Testament verses and books that are quoted in these passages show that the lesson instructs us that God takes care of his own, even if this means casting down governmental powers.

But why did the tree have no fruit?  We can find the answer by looking at the Parable of the Fig Tree, which discusses a fig tree without fruit:
Matthew 24:31  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:32  Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
Matthew 24:33  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Matthew 24:34  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
It appears also in Mark in similar words.  In Luke, we see this:
Luke 21:29  And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
Luke 21:30  When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
Luke 21:31  So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Luke 21:32  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
Fig trees are not planted with a seed, but are set out in shoots.  So when the fig trees are set out, the final generation is near and Christ will return soon.  The second lesson of the tree was to demonstrate that the time of the end is not yet.  Matthew 17:10-13 discusses this fact – if people received John the Baptist as Elijah, then the time would have been right.  The scribes said “Elijah must come first” before the end, but Elijah did come but was rejected.  Christ kills the tree because it is not yet time, but he is hungry for that time.

How Old is the Earth?

how old is the earth really

FlyingSinger, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: How old is the earth according to the Bible? What happened at Creation? Is the earth, as some people claim, only 6,000 years old? How do you explain dinosaurs and times before mankind? Many people miss the deeper meaning, for if you don’t understand the beginning you will never understand the end.

Let’s see what the how old the earth is according to the Bible:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

When were the heaven and earth created? In the beginning. I know it seems pedantic, but sometimes the obvious needs to be restated. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the world was created 6,000 years ago. How old is the earth, really? Fossils and archeological records state that the earth is billions of years old. God’s Word states it as well.

Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the waters.

The Hebrew language doesn’t have a verb for “to be”. Most of the time where you see “was”, it’s placed in italics, which means that the translators have added it to the text so that the passage makes sense. As you can see in Genesis 1:2, the verse makes little sense if it read “and darkness upon the face of the deep”. But notice that the first “was” isn’t in italics. This is because it is in the original language, but not in the way that the English implies.

According to the Strong’s Concordance, this word “was” is:

H1961
hâyâh
haw-yaw’
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary): – beacon, X altogether, be (-come, accomplished, committed, like), break, cause, come (to pass), continue, do, faint, fall, + follow, happen, X have, last, pertain, quit (one-) self, require, X use.

The word means “become” or “come to pass”. The verse should read “And the earth became without form”. The same Hebrew word is used in Genesis 2:7 where it says that man became a living soul.
So much is lost in the translation. The phrase here in 1:2 in Hebrew is tôhû vâ bôhû. Tôhû in Hebrew is:

H8414
tôhû
to’-hoo

From an unused root meaning to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), that is, desert; figuratively a worthless thing; adverbially in vain: – confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, (thing of) nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness.

Bôhû is this:

H922
bôhû
bo’-hoo
From an unused root (meaning to be empty); a vacuity, that is, (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin: – emptiness, void.

Bôhû is an undistinguishable ruin. It’s something that’s so desolate and destroyed that you can’t even recognize its original form. This phrase here, with the word hâyâh means that the earth was not created tôhû, but became tôhû. Let me document.

Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

This word “vain” in the Hebrew manuscripts is tohû. It says here that He did not create the earth tohû, which is to say desolate. I want to take you to the book of Job, in chapter 40.

Some say that the Bible states that the world is only 6,000 years old when in reality God says that it’s considerably older. As you read this, I want you to think very carefully.

Job 40:15-24 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pieceth through snares.

Some say that this is talking about the hippopotamus or the elephant, but how well do you know either of these creatures? The hippopotamus lives in the water and the mud since it doesn’t have any sweat glands. Its tail is small, not at all like a cedar. The elephant lives in the plains and takes food up with its trunk to eat, and doesn’t graze like an ox. Its tail is like a limp piece of rope, not strong and big like a cedar tree. There’s only one animal that fits this description, and that’s a dinosaur. I’ve heard one person try and say that the behemoth is Satan, but this doesn’t make any sense since God is showing Job different kinds of animals and how Job should be like some of them in dealing with trouble. Why would God tell Job to be like Satan? He wouldn’t.

I also want you to read the part where it says that God made the behemoth when He made Job. Don’t skip over that, it’s very important. Job existed as far back as the dinosaurs, which was billions of years ago. His fleshly body didn’t, but his soul did. So did Jeremiah’s:

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Isaiah 49:1-2 Listen to me, you islands; hear this you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth He has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of His hand He hid me; He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver.

So did yours.

Ephesians 1:4-6 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.

Ephesians 1:11 In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.

Romans 8:29-30 For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.

John 15:26-27 When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me; but you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Revelation 17:8 …The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.

We existed in what Peter called “the world that was”:

2 Peter 3:6 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

The King James reads:

2 Peter 3:6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.
Peter then goes on to say that the world that is now is reserved to be destroyed by fire. Some say that Peter is talking about Noah’s flood here. Is this the case? The word “perished” in the Greek:

G622
apollumi
ap-ol’-loo-mee
From G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: – destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

The word means “to destroy fully”. Noah’s flood didn’t fully destroy the world, since vegetation still grew (the dove and the olive branch). When we ask, how old is the earth according to the Bible, we have to keep this in mind. This full destruction, let’s take a look at it:

Jeremiah 4:23-26 I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.

The context of this vision that was granted to Jeremiah was God’s anger at His people. He said that they were fools, only practicing evil and not knowing how to do good. Basically God was saying that His people were ignorant, since God destroyed the world once before to get rid of evil and they’re thinking He won’t do it again.

This again isn’t Noah’s flood. Man still lived after that, and the flood didn’t blot out the lights of heaven. And think about this, there were towns then. Cities. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

Special Study in the Greek: Themelios and Katabolê

The phrase “the foundation of the world” appears often in the New Testament, but they sometimes mean different things. Two Greek words are translated as “foundation”; the first is themelios and the second is katabolê. The noun themelios is present in Luke 6:48 and 49, Luke 14:29, Acts 16:26, Romans 15:20, 1 Corinthians 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Timothy 9:19, 2 Timothy 2:19, Hebrews 6:1, Hebrews 11:10, Revelation 21:14 and Revelation 21:19. This word is never used concerning the world (kosmos) or the earth (gê). The verb for this word, themelioô occurs in Matthew 7:25, Luke 6:48, Ephesians 3:17, Colossians 1:23, Hebrews 1:10, and 1 Peter 5:10. Only once is it used concerning the earth, and this is in Hebrews 1:10. A review of all of these verses show that they are the correct terms for “to found” and “foundation”.

The noun katabolê occurs in Matthew 13:35, Matthew 25:34, Luke 11:50, John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3, Hebrews 9:26, Hebrews 11:11, 1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8, and Revelation 17:8. The verb for this word, kataballô occurs in 2 Corinthians 4:9, Hebrews 6:1, and Revelation 12:10. A review of these verses (especially 2 Corinthians 4:9 and Revelation 12:10) will show that katabolê and kataballô are not the correct terms for founding and foundation. Instead, the correct translation should be “casting down” or “overthrow”. Consistency calls for the same translation in Hebrews 6:1, so that instead of “not laying again” it should be “not cast down”. That is, that the foundation was already laid for repentance and should not be cast down or overthrown, but was to be left and progress made unto the perfection. Equally so, the noun katabolê ought to be translated as such, to be something along the lines of “ruin” or “disruption”.

It is interesting to note that all occurrences, with the exception to Hebrews 11:11, the word is connected with “the world” and the word should therefore be rendered as “the disruption (or ruin) of the world”. This clearly refers to the condition stated by tôhû vâ bôhû. This is further confirmed by the fact that the phrase, which occurs ten times, is associated with the preposition apo, which means “from” seven times, and the preposition pro, which means “before” three times.

When we ask ourselves, “How old is the earth according to the Bible?” we must ask ourselves how old is this age and what does God’s Word say about the overall plan for Creation? The answer actually supports the claim that the earth is 4.6 billion years old.

The 12th Imam: Muhammad al-Mahdi

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Who and what is the 12th Imam?

With all the hype about the 12th Imam (mainly hype for the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad), we decided to investigate. Here is your comprehensive guide to the 12th Imam.

What’s an Imam?

In the religion of Islam, an Imam is a leader or prophet. According to the Shiites, only Allah can appoint an Imam. An Imam is the true political and spiritual leader of the Muslim world, and each serve as a sterling example for the rest of humanity. Imams are the prophet Muhammad’s successors and, as such, are said to possess divine authority and insight.

An Imam is the direct descendent of the prophet and to date, there have been 11 Imams.

Who is the 12th Imam?

The 11th Imam, Hasan Al-Askari, had a son with the granddaughter of an Emperor in the 13th century. Some say that her name was Fatima, others Nargis Khatoon.  The son was named Abu al-Qasim Muhammad, but is called Muhammad al-Mahdi – Mahdi means “the Guided One” and Mahdi is said to have been in subterranean hiding since he was about five years old.  The Hadith prophesies that he will return shortly before Judgment Day. It’s said he will appear after a three year period of tyranny, chaos, and disorder. After his return, he will rule over the world for seven years while bringing total peace.

In the literature of Sunan Ibn Majah, Mahdi and Jesus are one and the same. In Ahmadiyya Islam, the terms “Messiah” and “Mahdi” mean the same and apply to the same person.

Why does the 12th Imam matter now?

Ahmadinejad has openly called for Mahdi’s return. While Half Sigma has received feedback from people that suggests Ahmadinejad doesn’t really believe in this Mahdi stuff, HS has asked the obvious question: why spend so much time talking about it? Especially in front of the UN.

The media, as usual, either ignores the issue or gets it wrong.

Glenn Beck and others have gotten it wrong, sort of. They suggest that Ahmadinejad will create three years of chaos in order to spur Mahdi’s return and that Mahdi is the Antichrist because he comes in with chaos and destruction.  The media figures who notice the rhetoric coming out of Iran get the story wrong when they say that Mahdi must be the Antichrist because of his destructive nature. We would suggest, on the contrary, that Mahdi may be the Antichrist because he brings peace. If Mahdi and Jesus are said to be the same, and St. Paul tells us that the Antichrist will sit in the seat of Moses pretending to be God, then we must assume that, if there is a Mahdi, this entity would be interested in appearing as peaceful and Christ-like as possible.

Our concern should be with the preceeding three years of darkness.

Outside of this sparse coverage, the media has ignored the issue. There are three possible explanations. First, the idea is too bizarre to them to explain it. Ahmadinejad is crazy or lying, and the idea of having to explain to a modern secular society that there’s a fellow trying to develop atomic weapons so he can bring in three years of darkness before the apocalypse is uncomfortable. Second, the idea is not bizarre to them and is so common that it doesn’t even deserve a mention. After all, most western ideologies see themselves as, one way or another, launching a revolution, a genocide, or a union strike that will create a period of unrest before a bright new future emerges. The idea of an impending “war to end all war” followed by a peaceful progressive future isn’t that alien, even if it’s dressed in Shiite garb.  Even Glenn Beck does it when he calls for the “third spiritual awakening” in America before we turn back to God and repent of our ways – his tri-part history of the Republic is creepily similar to the tri-part narrative of revolutionary movements; remember friends, they didn’t call themselves “The Third Reich” for nothing.  Third, they’re lazy and didn’t bother paying attention to any of the speeches. The third is the least plausible possibilities, since there’s at least one person on staff at a major news outlet somewhere who’s assigned to watch Glenn Beck.

Should Christians be Socialists?

Angelofsweetbitter2009, Flickr.

Angelofsweetbitter2009, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Gregory Paul has joined a long line of people who criticize conservative Christians for being against socialism. He’s argued that Jesus and Christianity are self evidently socialistic and that any support of capitalism will contradict Biblical teachings.

Jay W. Richards at the Washington Post has responded to Mr. Paul by saying that there really aren’t that many Christian supporters of Ayn Rand and that Mr. Paul’s arguments are based on misleading interpretations of Scripture. This misleading interpretation stems from some overlooked verses and the fact that the state is nowhere to be seen in this Christian socialism Mr. Paul describes.

Unfortunately, Mr. Paul and Mr. Richards both miss the mark completely.

First, both men share a particular assumption about Christianity that leads them both to error. Both Richards and Paul assume that the Biblical teachings they’re reading are concerned primarily about the physical world. Most discourse in our time that argues against socialism centers on the role of the state (which colors Mr. Richards’ argument that Rome is not enforcing socialism so therefore it must not exist). Those who defend the assumed right wing position do so from a vantage point of comparing state intervention to non state intervention. This materialistic assumption drives Mr. Paul to make his strange Protestant ethic argument – that some Protestants got together and imagined that God must be happy with their Protestantism so he was blessing them through economic growth. For both Richards and Paul, God and the followers of God are incredibly materialistic. The faithful in Richards’ world automatically become capitalists because the Roman government wasn’t redistributing wealth. The god of Mr. Paul’s world is naturally socialist because the “Christian economics” talked about in the Bible discuss how people weren’t needy.

They miss the mark in that the faith is hardly about the material at all, but the spiritual, which our age has banned from all serious discussion. Mr. Paul stumbles on the general lack of discussion about economics by accident when he notes that “the only” mention of Christian economics in the Bible is this set of verses about people not being needy and how only the Christian community shared with each other. The materialism of both authors is rather striking when you notice that Mr. Richards fails to address how the conflict with socialism is one of faiths and that Mr. Paul regurgitates a twisted version of Max Weber’s argument (Weber argued that Protestantism and capitalism influenced each other because the doctrine of predestination meant that Calvinists could never be sure if they were saved, so they began to seek out signs of their salvation in the world. Weber was very clear that we could never be sure which triggered which, if there was a trigger, just that they influenced each other and that the long term trend was a removal of the spiritual from the physical – at which point we would quit caring about God and salvation and just pay attention to the money).

This confusion leads, second, to Mr. Paul’s psuedo-Weberianism. He falls into Weber’s trap and thinks only in terms of the material.

Third, it leads Mr. Richards to make the stock responses to socialism that every capitalist has ever made. It’s about government intervention, taxation, etc. He could have handled this a lot better by pointing out the real source of the conflict. Every genuinely socialist theorist has been an atheist. (What’s fascinating is that most genuinely capitalist theorists have also been atheists.) Proudhon called on revolutionaries to worship Satan because he was the first to rebel against established authority. Marx proclaimed that all communism begins with atheism and all communism was an atheism. Saul Alinsky, in our own time, dedicated one of his books to Lucifer. All one must do to demonstrate the utter incompatibility of socialism and Christianity is to quote any socialist theorist on the topic of religion. Remember, religion, as they tell us, is just a product of capitalism and when we do away with capitalism we’ll do away with faith too. We just have to believe.

The Rapture Won’t Happen on May 21, 2011

SODOM & GOMORRAH: In times of uncertainty, people flock to those who claim answers or special insight.  It’s only natural to crave a firm response to the world’s corruption.  This author is concerned that if those responses prove to be false, people will become even more disenchanted.

A California minister by the name of Mr. Harold Camping has used the large audience of his Family Radio company to convince a lot of people that Jesus Christ will return on May 21, 2011.  Once here, he will rapture the believers while the sinful and corrupt world suffers for five months until the final judgment on October 21.  This is inaccurate.  There will be no rapture.  Christ will not return on May 21.  Judgment will not take place on October 21.  When Mr. Camping is proven wrong, people will react one of two ways.  Either they will go back to the Word for answers, or they will say that Christianity is wrong because, as the billboard down the street says, “The Bible guarantees” that Christ is returning this month.

It is impossible for man alone to destroy a faith, even a false one.  All we can hope to do is to provide a consistent argument before the fact.  In other words, we can provide answers to Mr. Camping’s teaching before May 21.  After May 21, there will no doubt be several explanations and justifications but it will be the critics before who hold the most credibility.

Thus far, responses to Mr. Camping have been weak.  Critics simply point out that “we can’t know” per the Book of Matthew, where Christ says that no man will no the day or hour, and that the day will come as a thief in the night.  Mr. Camping has answered both of these arguments, but his critics just float them out as if these two claims can be enough to convince his followers.  Our endeavor must be greater.  We must strive to dismantle Mr. Camping’s entire system of thought so that no stone is left standing atop another.

1. World History

If we should pick a place to begin, it should be the beginning.  This is true in religion as it is in anything else.

Mr. Camping asserts that the earth is approximately 13,000 years old.  He calculates this by going to the Second Book of Peter 3.8 where it reads that one day is as a thousand years with the Lord.  He then adds up the days of creation in Genesis and the time that has passed since then to argue his 13,000 years.

This 13,000 year old story assumes that creation and the rebellion of Satan has all come to pass within this short amount of time.  His account ignores what the Bible says about the actual age of the earth.

First, in Genesis 1.2 it reads “And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” In verse one we read that the creation took place in the beginning, and then in verse two we see that the earth was without form and void.  However, the word “was” here is not “was” in the original Hebrew.  The Hebrew language lacks a verb for “to be”; this is why in several other places the various verb forms for “to be” are in italics because the translators have added them for ease of reading.  Here in this first part of Genesis, the word “was” is not in italics, so it must be an actual Hebrew word.  It is hayah in Hebrew, which means “became.”  This is especially crucial because the following phrase “without form and void” is tohu va bohu in Hebrew.  Tohu is a confused wilderness, a desert.  Bohu is a ruin or mess.  We know for a fact that God is not the maker of confusion and that one cannot ruin something that does not exist, so we must understand that an event took place to cause the earth to become tohu va bohu.

This event is mentioned several times in the New Testament.  Christ speaks very plainly about how He knew some “before the foundation of the world” and that these some would be selected to carry out his plan.  This word “foundation” is interesting in Greek.  It is katabole which means “deposition” or “founding.”  It is directly related to the word kataballo which means “to throw down.”  This is a political phrase in the Bible; it means the founding of a new order and the casting down of an old.  This is a very different word than the Greek themelios which relates specifically to a substruction of a building.  We see this meaning very plainly in verses like Luke 6.48 where Christ speaks of construction.

The deposition that this speaks of was discussed in Ezekiel 28.  Here we read about a prediction against the King of Tyrus, who was “in Eden” and who was set as a guard over the throne of God but was cast out because of his pride.  The widely interpreted, and correct, view is that this King of Tyrus in Eden was Satan himself.

Mr. Camping does not look beyond the timeframe of this age.  He sees only the struggle between Satan and God within this particular period of time; he assumes that it began then and will end then.  We are faced with a God who chooses His elect, who does not inform His elect, and who raptures them regardless of their spiritual orientation while believers who attempt to reach Christ are condemned because salvation is entirely in God’s court.  He chooses.  We must wait and see if we make the cut.  As we will discuss in the next section, this leaves many things unanswered.

2. Neo-Calvinism

Mr. Camping adopts a fairly traditional line, which ironically explains his insistence that the truth is just now being revealed in full and that he has access to that truth.

The Calvinist line of thought argues that there is a small body of elect Christians is saved while the large majority of people are condemned.  We cannot know who is saved and who is condemned because God is mysterious and chooses the elect based on His unknowable plan.  Anyone who asserts a doctrine of free will is arrogantly entering God’s domain and attempting a do-it-yourself program of salvation.

Furthermore, the churches are all corrupt.  In John Calvin’s time, this argument applied to the Catholic Church.  In Mr. Camping’s time, it applies to every church.  The world is corrupt.  The popes are liars.  The only escape from this is a God who reveals directly to the elect and only the elect.  Neither Calvin nor Mr. Camping can know if they themselves are even saved; they spend their lives crying unto God and hoping He will save them.

The Calvinist interpretation fails to take several things into account.  First, it ignores the full version of world history.  In doing so, it focuses on the here and now only.  When interpreting the Bible by looking only to this particular time, you will misunderstand crucial Biblical concepts.  As such, you are faced with verses that tell you that God chooses the elect, only the elect overcome the Antichrist, the elect are chosen before they’re ever born, and so forth.  It is easy for Calvin and Mr. Camping to say that only the elect are saved in light of these verses.  It is easy for them to say that because they do not acknowledge what happened before we were made flesh and why what happened before might determine why some were set aside from others, and why St. Paul could write in Romans 8 that some were predestined and already justified (judged) from before.

Mr. Camping’s Calvinism is dangerous.  Not only does it negate the parts of the Bible, such as John 3.16, where salvation is offered freely to anyone who desires it, but it undermines any possibility of a community of believers.  The unsustainability of the Calvinist Puritans in New England was an example of this.  An invisible body of elect Christians who do not choose to be saved or go to hell is not a belief most people can stomach for very long.  People begin craving outward signs of salvation; they begin looking for ways to confirm their final destination.  Max Weber authored an illuminating work on the subject and how every day Calvinists coped with their eternal uncertainty by looking for confirmation in economic success.  The great moral purity that’s commanded by Calvin’s teaching immediately leads to a demand for a visible body of chosen Christians.  This demand undermines the Christian community because any deviation from the moral purity (which every person will inevitably have) will be seen as a sign that the person is condemned.  There’s a constant “clamping down” on people’s behavior, a constant ostracization of those who don’t fit in, and a constant incentive to find some kind of confirmation of salvation.  This leads, paradoxically for a faith claiming to be salvation via grace, into a faith calling for salvation through works.  Somehow if we plead enough with God, make enough money, abstain from enough alcohol, or work hard enough we will be saved.

The idea of weeding out the impure and the continuous moral improvement of society is the exact theological influence that fuels the secular progressive narrative we find in Marxism and liberalism.  There is a constant progress, a constant striving to be saved, and due to the limitations of the dominant narratives of world history, there is an assumption that salvation will take place within this world.  For all of the Christian critiques of utopian idealism, this new doctrine of Mr. Camping’s has incredible utopian implications.

3. Rapture

Mr. Camping’s utopian idealism is nowhere more apparent than his profession of the rapture doctrine.  In its various forms, the rapture doctrine argues that when Christ returns, he will lift the saved into heaven while condemning those left behind.  There are a few verses quoted to support this theory.

First, there is the account given by Christ in Matthew 24.  There will be two people in the field, one shall be taken and the other left; there shall be two women grinding grain and one shall be taken and the other left.  There are many people who stand in front of congregations today proudly saying, “I want to be the first taken.”  These people do not read verses 38 and 39 that likens these people to those in the days of Noah who were eating, drinking, and taking in marriage until the flood came and took them away.  This new flood is not a flood of water but a flood of lies, otherwise both in the field and at the grindstone would be taken with it.  Those who are taken are swept away by the falsehood.

Second, there are the words of St. Paul in First Thessalonians 4.17 where he writes, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  This word “air” means breath and it can often mean spirit or wind, and is used in similar contexts as the Hebrew word ruach which we find in Genesis 1.2.  This interpretation makes sense in light of the subject of the Thessalonian passage in verses 13 and 14 which is rising like Christ.  Just as Christ was given eternal life in the spirit, so are we.  Those that have risen first are the dead who believed on Christ while those alive at the end of days will be transformed as mentioned in I Corinthians 15.52.

I Corinthians 15.52 is also cited by many who believe that the faithful are raptured before the Antichrist appears.  They say that “last” does not mean the last but rather the sixth, as in the sixth trump of the Book of Revelation.  They argue that this takes place just as Antichrist appears, so that believers are raptured with Christ before the tribulation.  However this too is inaccurate for the Greek “last” is eschatos which means the farthest or final trump.  We see here that there is no period of darkness as predicted by Mr. Camping and other “pre-tribulation” rapture believers.  There is no gap between believers being lifted out and the end of human history.

In Mark 13, Jesus gives a very straight forward account of what will happen when the Word is fulfilled.  The faithful will be delivered up to councils and religious places and be made to give a testimony for Christ’s sake, and this testimony will be given in that hour by the Holy Spirit.  There is no mention of any early escape for the faithful.

Further, St. Paul makes it clear that the believers will not be gathered to Christ until the son of perdition rises up above God and has himself worshipped as God in the temple.  Only then will God begin to prepare the world for Judgment.  It is not, as Mr. Camping has said, that the believers will be lifted first and then God will shake up the earth for Judgment five months later.  The faithful must be here to testify against the son of perdition during the five month period.

Finally, God’s prophet Ezekiel is also clear on the matter.  Ezekiel 13.20 has God telling the false prophets that he is against those that plot against the children to convince them to fly.

The rapture doctrine is dangerous because it leaves believers unprepared for the final struggle against Satan.  It is dangerous because in its popular form, it tells people that Christ will return before Satan, which prepares them to follow the first figure who appears as God.  In a word, it places them into a position to follow the son of perdition who will be worshipped as God.

This doctrine, in the interim, is also dangerous because it gives Christians an excuse to check out.  They do not have to concern themselves with the world, its corruption, or what’s going on around them.  They do not have to work in the field, they can sit back and wait to be lifted out.

4. May 21 – October 21

These developments are complex and numerous.  From a misunderstanding of the chronological order of events to a misinterpretation of election to a utopian abandonment of responsibility and finally to a man with a radio show who predicts that all will be fulfilled just a few days from now.  It is time for us to tackle this last obstacle – his prediction of a real date.

The EBibleFellowship states that we can know.  Critics of course point to Matthew 24.36 where Christ states, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”  Naturally Mr. Camping and his congregation have heard this argument and acknowledge it.  The EBibleFellowship argues in response that Daniel 12.4 informs us that God sealed knowledge from Daniel because that knowledge was supposed to be revealed at the end.

This is true, some knowledge is withheld until the end.  However, this argument is circular.  Mr. Camping tells us that he knows because it’s the end and the Spirit has revealed the knowledge.  He knows it’s the end because he knows the knowledge and he only knows the knowledge because it’s the end.

In Revelation 1.10 we have one of the few explicit accounts of someone living at the end of days.  Here we see St. John transported to the Lord’s Day, which is that final hour where all is fulfilled.  What do we see about knowledge?

First, we see that when the seven seals are unsealed for John, he was offered an open invitation to view only the first four.  ”Come and see” is said only before the first four seals are read.  If we assume that the Word of God is the divine Word, then we must assume there are no accidents or oversights.  Why then would there be an open invitation to “Come and see” only four, while the last three were simply recorded?  This implies that some knowledge is opened to the public while other knowledge is more private.  Only those with eyes to see and ears to hear go to see these seals.

Further, in Revelation 10.4, St. John was witness to the voice of the seven thunders but was commanded to seal it up.  So even here we see that some knowledge is made available to the believers at the end, but that they are not in a position to share it openly.  This means that those privy to the seven thunders can’t write them down for others and certainly can’t go on a radio show to talk about them.  The EBibleFellowship is correct to say that God will not hide his design from those to be delivered before the son of perdition, but these people may not discuss it openly lest unreliable souls fall into the trap of serving the son of perdition while knowing the full truth.  Those that know the full truth are liable to be delivered up to this false one and would commit an unpardonable sin if they were to refuse the Holy Spirit at that time.  It is thus for their safety that these things remain veiled for those who do not have eyes to see.

EBibleFellowship is correct to say that the connection of the scripture that says Christ will come as a thief in the night with the rapture is false because thieves come to destroy.  When the false one comes and the whole world follows after him, and when the events come to pass as they are written the elect will know that Christ will return shortly and it will not be a surprise.  God has indeed forewarned His people; it’s called the Bible and one must read it.

Mr. Camping has done some math to come up with May 21 as the date of Christ’s return.  While numbers are used in spiritually significant ways in the Bible, we should be cautious about anyone who would use them to unveil something that, if true, would not be suitable to be unveiled to everyone.  Furthermore, Mr. Camping’s mathematics are backwards.  He is attempting to take the spiritual numbers and use them to come up with something concrete (a date).

In each place in the Bible where numerics are used to teach, the number belongs first to the concrete (the number of David’s stones or the measurements of the temple in the last four chapters of Ezekiel for example) and then the spiritual is found beneath the physical.  The physical, while true, is used to convey a deeper truth, which is why in Proverbs 25.11 it says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  When God chooses specific words and numbers for some outward teaching, this outward portion is the silver which is a valuable teaching in itself but underneath that is the gold which is more precious.  We may say that if any word is fitly spoken, it must be the Word of God.

EBibleFellowship states “God’s people know [...] that these dates are true and trustworthy only because this information comes right out of the Bible.  Many people are going to trust their churches or their pastors who will assuredly say that they do not have to worry about a date. But none of these things are trustworthy.  The truth is that the only trustworthy thing in the world is the Bible.  This is why as we get ever closer to this date of May 21 in 2011, the big question for each person is, ‘Do you trust the Bible or do you trust something else?’”

People waiting for Christ to appear on the 21st will not be persuaded by this author’s position that the spiritual numeric should not be used to calculate an actual date, especially when no person is supposed to know the date.  They will continue to believe that Mr. Camping’s calculations are biblical until he is proven wrong next weekend.  After that point, Christians must ask themselves, do you trust the Bible or do you trust something else?  People need to do their own research and not believe that someone’s math is Biblical without something more than a guarantee from a person.

This author’s fear is that people will still believe that the Bible guarantees that May 21 is the day for Christ’s return and His failure to appear must mean that the Bible is wrong.  All that will mean is that their teacher was wrong, and there will be a lot of heartbreak on the 21st – especially and even with Mr. Camping.

It’s a Cultural Thing

SODOM & GOMORRAH: One can learn a lot by comparing Japanese reactions to the recent earthquake to western ones.

The Japanese government came out and said that the heavens were punishing them for being greedy.  That was why the earthquake happened, and the general populace should take heed.  It seems that the Japanese don’t mind the idea of an interventionist God, unlike Americans who roundly condemned preachers for saying that 9/11 or Katrina happened because God was displeased with our corruption.

Mind you, these are the same Japanese people who have refrained from looting, follow the commands of the government when it tells them to stay indoors for fear of radiation, and who have generally behaved contrary to westerners in similar circumstances.  That isn’t to say that Japan isn’t about as corrupt as any modern country can be – their government subsists on bribes, they abuse women and children, and they have an extremely high abortion rate.  Nobody is perfect, but Japan tries.

The west, however, has been unshaken by the fact that the earth can explode in such a massive, awesome way as to shorten the day and move coastlines.  Their focus is on what lies within human control: nuclear power.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany announced that there would be a three month moratorium on a standing plan to extend the lifespan of seventeen nuclear plants.  She also insists on closing seven nuclear facilities that were built before 1980.  The European Union has followed up by drafting a plan to test the safety of nuclear power plants in the twenty-seven member states.  China too, betraying their constant desire to become like the west, has stopped approving new nuclear facilities.  There are similar calls being made in the United States.

California residents are buying iodine tablets, a known treatment for radiation poisoning, and students near the state’s coast are monitoring for radiation themselves.  Nobody in the state seems the least bit concerned that the entire rest of the Ring of Fire has had major quakes in the past year, the scale of which would level Californiam cities.  The issue at stake for them is the distant scare of a man-made problem.  The focus is purely on the human, while the orderly Japanese have warned that God is displeased with selfish humans.