What Was Promised to Abraham?

This post gathers certain passages for the record—the goal of which is to compile what all was promised to Abraham.  Here are the passages, with a few notes in red.

Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
NOTE:  This was not just about Abraham and his descendants, but about “all the families of the earth”.  Obviously, this is speaking of events that would occur after Abraham’s death, for he did not come into contact with “all the families of the earth” during his lifetime.

Genesis 12:5b …When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
NOTE:  Here it says “to your offspring”, but we shall see in Genesis 13:15 (below) that it is stated “…to you and to your offspring.”

Genesis 13:6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together,
NOTE:  Abraham’s possessions were great.  You will see this in Isaac and Jacob, etc., but there are also hints of this in the fulfillment of all this prophecy about turning Abraham into a great nation and blessing the entire earth through him.  Riches are nowhere included in the explicit promises made to Abraham, but they may well have been implied in the promises to “bless” him.

Genesis 13:12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.
NOTE:  This word “forever” does not mean “endless eternity”, but “to the age”.  That is, to the end of the age–whenever that would be.  The promise did not exceed that amount of time.  I believe that that age ended completely in 70AD, at which time God took all the faithful away to heaven and destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple, and much of Israel.
16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.
17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
NOTE:  Regarding the offspring, we may wonder whether this is a reference to his literal progeny, or perhaps to those who would come to believe in God as a result of what all God was doing through Abraham and his progeny—or both.

Genesis 14:14   When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.
NOTE:  Again, here is Abraham being blessed with possessions–to which Melchizedek will testify below

Genesis 14:17  After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,
Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
NOTE:  Notice that Melchizedek, whom I suspect was a divine given special charge over the earth, brings bread and wine to Abraham and blesses him.  Melchizedek’s priesthood will later be replaced by Jesus “on the order of Melchizedek”.  Jesus also gave bread and wine to his followers.  Melchizedek, I believe, was known throughout the world as a sun god (Shamash, for example), and at the end of the story, God and Jesus will light that heavenly Jerusalem, it having no need, therefore, of the “sun and moon”.   But this would also be true before that Heavenly Jerusalem, that New Jerusalem, would be opened for their inhabiting.   So says Isaiah 60:19 The sun shall be no more
    your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
    give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun shall no more go down,
    nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
    they shall possess the land forever, (“to the age”)
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
    that I might be glorified.
In other words, these people were going to walk by a different “light”–a better light.  And Jesus, of course, was called the “light”.  Let us note also that Abraham’s victory over his enemies was part of this blessing.  And this would be part also of this special time of blessing that God had been foretelling to Abraham—except in this case, it would not be military conquering, but the conversion of men’s souls unto righteousness from unrighteousness.


Genesis 15:1  After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.  And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.  12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.
NOTE:  God tells Abraham about what will happen in Egypt, but he doesn’t mention any details about the later Babylonian ransacking of Jerusalem and the ensuing captivity.  Note that his offspring would come out of Egypt with “great possessions”, which seems to be a continuance of the blessing theme.
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.
NOTE:  See the Wikipedia map, roughly showing the area selected.

Genesis 17:1  When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting (to the age) covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
NOTE:  “Establish” here is in the future tense.  God had already made the promise, but this is something different.  He was referring to something he would yet do future to this conversation.  In other words, this establishing had not yet been done.  The question of when it would be established is important.  In verse 8 just below, he says “I will give…” and not “I have given”.
And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting (to the age) possession, and I will be their God.”  And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”  15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.

Genesis 18:10  The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.  …….17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
NOTE:  Again, it’s not only Abraham who is in view, but “all the nations of the earth”.  We see this being played out in the First Century through the work of Jesus and the apostles.

Genesis 22:15  And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
NOTE:  I plan to get back to vetting this, but I suspect that the second “offspring” here is a reference to Jesus and to what is mentioned here:  Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Genesis 26:2 And the Lord appeared to him (to Isaac) and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Genesis 26:15  14 He (Isaac) had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him.
NOTE:  The theme of great possessions continues to Abraham’s son, Isaac.

Genesis 26:24 24 And the Lord appeared to him (to Isaac) the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
NOTE:  Abraham had also built an altar after first receiving this promise.

Genesis 27:26  Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son
    is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
    and of the fatness of the earth
    and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
    and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
    and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
    and blessed be everyone who blesses you!
NOTE:  This is likely more than the good wishes of a father for his son.  The last couplet, for example, is surely a restatement of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3.  It says, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse.”  Is it the case, then, that this “fatness of the earth” and “plenty of grain and wine” is implied in the “blessing” that had been promised to Abraham?  Likely, yes.  This, of course, is a bit troubling in light of this modern “prosperity gospel”.  But it is what it is.

Genesis 28:6  Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!”
NOTE:  Here Isaac blesses Jacob with the same promises given to Abraham by God.

Genesis 28:10   Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
NOTE:  This is new.  This promise to “bring you back to this land.”  This is what was reiterated again and again in these promises.  This prophecy that they would “spread abroad” may also have been new.  It might not have been intended as the general idea that they would continue to grow, but that they would be passively acted upon by God.  The Hebrew word here is parats, and it’s the first time it’s used in the Bible.  While it’s not always used this way, it’s frequently used of God “breaking forth” on or against somebody to do something to them by way of punishment.  (Read about the word and its uses here.)  I wonder, therefore, whether this is a reference to their ultimate dispersal throughout the world in the Babylonian captivity.

Genesis 35:5 And as they (including Jacob) journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth.
NOTE:  After a delay, Jacob now builds an altar in response to God’s promise, as had Abraham and Isaac before him.  Perhaps the timing of what follows is not coincidental to this fact.
God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you. 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.
NOTE:  God still has something future in mind, for he says “I will give to you…”  Further, it is significant, I think, that Jacob was the heir, stead of the firstborn Esau, for this “deceiver” was now named Israel, after “prevailing” in a wrestling match with God and insisting that God bless him.  This tenacity is what won him the name by which the descendants of his grandfather Abraham would become known (Israel).

Genesis 36:6  Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojournings could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)
NOTE:  Jacob, Abraham’s grandson is blessed with riches.

Romans 4:13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

 

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The Promises of Long Life

The purpose of this post is merely to list passages that seem to promise long life to the righteous/wise, as well as any other passages that may be highly relevant to this topic.  Note that there is a lot of conditional language in these passages–of the sort, “If you will ____, then you will live long.”  The obvious questions will be, then, whether these promises were fulfilled as one might, from a plain reading, expect them to be fulfilled.

This is all relevant to my assertion that in the Matthew 27:51-53 mass resurrection, Jesus raised up all the faithful from Adam forward in order to “live in the land” of Israel again for another generation (until 70AD).

Deuteronomy 5:33  You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

Deuteronomy 6:1 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules[a]—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

Deuteronomy 11:8  “You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, and that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Deuteronomy 22:6 “If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.

Deuteronomy 32:46   he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Psalm 92:14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Proverbs 3:1  My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.

Proverbs 3:7 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.
NOTE:  This reminds me of the Ezekiel 37 Dry Bones prophecy and the Matthew 27 mass resurrection.

Proverbs 3:13  Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.

Proverbs 9:10  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
    and years will be added to your life.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Psalm 34:11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken(This brings to mind the Dry Bones prophecy of Ezekiel 37, and its fulfillment in Matthew 27.)
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;  (Here we have redemption tied together with living “many days” in verse 11.)
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Proverbs 10:27  The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.

Ecclesiastes 7:15 In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.

1 Kings 3:14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.

Proverbs 22:4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

Proverbs 13:3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
    he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 4:10 Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many.

Psalm 55:23  But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.

 

 

 

 

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Obedience Was Necessary to Bring About the Promises Made to Abraham

Contrary to the wildly-popular opinion of many today, God has always been concerned with the behavior and obedience of those who call themselves believers.  And this goes all the way back to the Garden, from where Adam and Eve were expelled because of their disobedience.  It also applied to Abraham, who was blessed “because” he obeyed.  And the promises made to him were contingent upon the obedience of his offspring.  Let’s take a look:

He says to Abraham:

Genesis 22:18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

And again to Isaac:

Genesis 26:4b And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

There is no blessing to be had without obedience. Indeed, God had said of Abraham’s descendants:

Genesis 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

If there is no obedience, there is no way to bring the promise.  And that’s a big deal, because it is famously known that the Israelites were terrible at keeping God’s commands.  How, then, could the promises to Abraham be kept if his descendants would not comply with God’s commands?

This was the big point of giving the indwelling Spirit—that these people who had disobeyed again and again would finally fulfill the necessary obedience. Note verse 27 below:

Ezekiel 36:22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

To this people, who had famously disobeyed and been careless, he says:

27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

That’s what was going to be different.  They had failed to make it happen on their own will—even though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had done so.  So God was going to make it possible by putting his own Spirit in them to give them a boost.  But the culture to which he made this promise was an old one, having spanned multiple generations, with many of them dead and only a few of them living.  How, then, would he fulfill this?

We know that he gave the indwelling Holy Spirit to the living believers beginning in Acts 2, but was not this promise made also to many who had since died?  Yes, it was.  He had promised to bring those people back into the land, and to bless not only them, but all the nations of the earth.  This would happen at the mass resurrection in Matthew 27:

Matthew 27:50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

For this prophecy (repeated again and again in the Old Testament) to be fulfilled, these people had to be brought back into the land, given the indwelling Holy Spirit, and to live out their lives righteously—unlike their first go at it.  Without their obedience, how could the nations be blessed through them?

This time, they would obey:

Jeremiah 32:37Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting (to the age) covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

Again, this time, unlike before, they would be careful to obey:

Ezekiel 37:12  Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” ……21 then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.  …….24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.

Read that last line again—very slowly.  Let that sink in.

These people, now with the indwelling Spirit, were expected to obey—and not only that, but were supernaturally empowered to do so!  How is it that now so many millions of Christians, claiming to have this very indwelling are so adamant that their obedience to the rules and statues is not mandatory?

 

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Did Those Raised in Matthew 27 Stay in the Land?

See also:

What Was Promised to Abraham?
The Promises of Long Life

I had long assumed that those “many people” resurrected in Matthew 27:51-53 must have ascended to Heaven with Jesus in Acts 1, but now I’m increasingly certain that they remained in the land, living out the long-awaited restoration of Israel.  I think they stayed in the land, not only serving as a “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), but living out these “gather you” and “gather them” and “restore your fortunes” prophecies from the Old Testament for that generation from 30AD to 70AD.

Here are several passages (some of them lengthy) that give me this idea.   There are certainly other passages to be discovered, but these are plenty to lay the foundation.  There are many relevant terms used here, which I will analyze elsewhere as time allows, as to keep from clogging up the texts below with too many notes.  The one exception is the first excerpt below, in which I have listed twice—the first time, with no vocabulary notes, and the second time with those notes in pink.)

Be sure to see my conclusion at the bottom.

Deuteronomy 30:1  “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take   you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
NOTE:  This may seem like God is only talking to the living about things that will happen in their own lifetimes, but read the other passage below and see if something bigger doesn’t come to mind.

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(The excerpt above is here repeated–this time, with vocabulary notes.)
Deuteronomy 30:1  “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore (Hebrew: שׁוּב / shuwb–return, bring back, restore.  ) LXX Greek: πάλιν / palin– afresh, again, anon, once more, back, backwards, restore) your fortunes( שְׁבוּת / shĕbuwth— captivity, captives ) and have mercy on you, and he will gather קָבַץ / qabats–gather, collect, assemble ) you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered ( Hebrew: פּוּץ / puwts— scatter, disperse.  LXX Greek: διασκορπίζω / diaskorpizó– scatter, winnow, disperse, waste  ) you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you(qabats), and from there he will take  ( Hebrew: לָקַח / laqach–to take, get, fetch, lay hold of, seize, receive, acquire, buy, bring, marry, take a wife, snatch, take away.  LXX Greek: λαμβάνω / lambano–receive, take, have, catch.  See its NT usage hereyou. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
NOTE:  These terms should be searched and studied throughout the OT and in the NT (that is, the Greek renderings of the terms).  After a precursory study of such, I expect that a great deal of overlap in the language will be discovered, which suggests to me that this is a major Bible theme—the restoring of the people of Israel to the land at the resurrection of Jesus.

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Nehemiah 1:9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’
NOTE:  The ESV, shown here, misses it when it says “in the uttermost parts of heaven.”  There were only two such humans about whom this rendering could be speaking:  Enoch and Elijah.  Had they rendered it “to the uttermost parts of heaven”, this would accurately refer to the Jews spread across that portion of Planet Earth that God had called “dry land” and “Earth”, and had covered over with the raqia/firmament/heaven.


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Isaiah 40:24  Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me,
    that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
    calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
    and because he is strong in power,
    not one is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
While this passage is traditionally taken as an encouragement for those who find themselves spiritually discouraged, I believe it likely had something much bigger in view.  I believe it was likely about the restoration of Israel back to life in 30AD.

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Isaiah 43:5  Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

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Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.
“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“This is like the days of Noah to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
12 I will make your pinnacles of agate,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your wall of precious stones.
13All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
14 In righteousness you shall be established;
you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
15 If anyone stirs up strife,
it is not from me;
whoever stirs up strife with you
shall fall because of you.
16 Behold, I have created the smith
who blows the fire of coals
and produces a weapon for its purpose.
I have also created the ravager to destroy;
17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
NOTE:  To some, this may not seem like the same gathering of the resurrection, but don’t miss the line in orange, for it is quite similar to the New Covenant language in Jeremiah 31: 34   And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.

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Jeremiah 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds (These are divine overseers who had shirked the responsibility of watching over Israel as Yahweh had directed.  See here and here.) who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them (These are Jesus’ apostles, and perhaps also the elders of the ekklesias.) who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. (This is Jesus.) In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’  “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country (This is where Bashan/Mt. Hermon is–the main entrance to Sheol/Hades.  This is a reference to bringing their spirits back from the dead.) and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’  (This is a reference to getting their bodies back from where they had died.) Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

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Jeremiah 29:10  “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
NOTE:  I assume that this “visit” is in the incarnation of Jesus, who is the one who raised them from the dead, bringing them back into the land.

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Jeremiah 30:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” ………..31:1 At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”……….For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
Behold, I will bring them from the north country
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

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Jeremiah 32: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. 42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. 43 Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ 44 Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”
NOTE:  The language in green sounds like the indwelling Spirit language elsewhere.  And the sentences in orange make it sound like business as usual—as opposed to them being brought back into the land only to leave it forever a few days thereafter.  As to the part in blue, I wonder if we’re being told that they would have children, too—which would certainly raise some questions.  Now, I suppose that “children” could be a figurative reference to those who would come to believe because of their witness, but I think that’s unlikely at this point.  And this causes me to wonder whether they were resurrected back into their own reconstituted human bodies, and not into glorified bodies.  (If I have the model right, they would be glorified later–only if they “overcame” and “endured to the end”–at 70AD.)

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Ezekiel 11:14  And the word of the Lord came to me: 15 “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ 17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
NOTE:  See again the New Covenant language of this new heart and spirit.  Many will likely dismiss this passage as not being about those living in Ezekiel’s day, but about those living at the time of Christ.  To be fair, however, it does say “I will gather you” and “I will assemble you” and “I will give you the land of Israel.”  Ezekiel certainly knew how to say “them” if that’s what he had meant instead of “you”.

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Ezekiel 20:33  “As I live, declares the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God. 37 I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. 38I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
39 “As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord God: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols.
40 “For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord God, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. 41 As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. 42 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers. 43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed.
NOTE:  Verse 38 (in purple) seems to show the unrighteous amongst the dead Jesus being purged, and not included in that number that would be raised in Matthew 27.  Indeed, the text there is careful to tell us that it was “many holy people” who were raised.  .

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Ezekiel 34:11  “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

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Ezekiel 36:24   I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.  33 “Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. 34 And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. 35 And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.
37 “Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
NOTE:  How does the section in blue relate with the worldwide famine mentioned in Acts 11:28?  We must be very careful to notice that they were not going to be saved from “famine” but from the “disgrace” of it.  And I note that in the Acts 11 famine, money was sent to them from all over the world—the nations paying tribute to God’s chosen people, finally!

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Ezekiel 37:11  Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” ……21 then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.  …….24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
NOTE:  Again, the section in orange raises the question of children.  It also raises another important question:  What does “shall dwell there forever” mean?  That is, shouldn’t we expect to find this ongoing community in Israel to this day?  Yes, we should if the word for “forever” here actually meant “without ceasing for endless eternity”–but it doesn’t.  Read about the word ‘owlam here.  Not surprisingly, when the Septuagint translates this passage, they use αἰών (aeon or eon) for ‘owlam.  Aeon, however, literally means “to the age”, and not “without end”.  Thus, if these people had stayed in the land “to the age”, it would have literally satisfied this prophecy.  And I believe the age ended in 70AD.

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Zephaniah 3:17  The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the Lord.

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Zechariah 10:6 “I will strengthen the house of Judah,
and I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
and they shall be as though I had not rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.
Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior,
and their hearts shall be glad as with wine.
Their children shall see it and be glad;
their hearts shall rejoice in the Lord.
“I will whistle for them and gather them in,
for I have redeemed them,
and they shall be as many as they were before.
Though I scattered them among the nations,
yet in far countries they shall remember me,
and with their children they shall live and return.
10 I will bring them home from the land of Egypt,
and gather them from Assyria,
and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon, till there is no room for them.

 

CONCLUSION

If it turns out to be true that Jesus raised up all the faithful Jews out of Sheol/Hades and brought them back to life again to live for a generation in the land, this is a really big deal.  It’s an indescribably major event that was heavily predicted, yet not once mentioned explicitly in the form of historical narrative in the New Testament.

Could this be?  Or should we rather be operating on the cognitive bias that says, “If something that big had happened, we’d have been told about it?”

Well, that one’s tricky, because we were told about it in advance many times, as this present article demonstrates.  But someone will insist on historical narrative to settle the matter.  Surely, they will argue, we would have been told had this actually happened.  But not so fast!  The Ark of the Covenant disappears from the story, and we’re not explicitly told when.  Perhaps it was in 587 BC when Nebuchadnezzar ransacked the Temple and:

2 Kings 24:13 and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the Lord had foretold.

But we are not told explicitly.  And that’s a really big deal.  Indeed, this happened in 587 BC, and not one Bible author from that time forward thinks to tell us what happened to the Ark?  That it would have been destroyed would be a big deal.  Or captured–or preserved, for that matter, yet we don’t hear a peep.  Was not the very Temple built to house that Ark?  Yet its disappearance did not merit even one line of text in the entire Bible.  Neither a jot nor a tittle.

And let me remind the reader that we would have zero historical narrative about the mass resurrection of holy people in Matthew 27 if it were not for these scant three verses:

Matthew 27:51  And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

This event is a really big deal, and hardly anyone would ever figure out that it must have happened, when figuring solely from the Old Testament prophecies about it.  Imagine, then, that verses 52 and 53 were missing from Matthew.  Who among us knows the Old Testament well enough to suspect that such resurrection had occurred?  Indeed, even having these two verses included in the New Testament, a great many believers today remain clueless about this magnificent event!

And so am I now trying to wrap my head around the possibility that something quite different was happening in Israel from 30 to 70 AD from what is normally believed.  I have saved on passage in this regard for last.  Suppose that the following were fulfilled shortly after Jesus’ resurrection:

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,[a]
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.
Who are these that fly like a cloud,
and like doves to their windows?
For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the Lord your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.
10 Foreigners shall build up your walls,
and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you,
but in my favor I have had mercy on you.
11 Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.
12 For the nation and kingdom
that will not serve you shall perish;
those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14 The sons of those who afflicted you
shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
a joy from age to age.
16 You shall suck the milk of nations;
you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever, (“to the age”)
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.
22 The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the Lord;
in its time I will hasten it.
Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound(He freed the spirits of the dead Jews from Sheol/Hades.)
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.[c]
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
but you shall be called the priests
(See Revelation 20:6 …but they will be priests of God and of Christ…  And Isaiah 66:21And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. )
of the Lord;

they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.
Isaiah 62:1
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the Lord in remembrance,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
The Lord has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink your wine
for which you have labored;
but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the Lord,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10 Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.
11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
“Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
12 And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.

Isaiah 64:1  Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
NOTE:  When Jesus died, the veil in the Temple–symbolic of the firmament/raqia that separated God from man–was torn, and there was a great earthquake.

as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?  (They had been a long time in Sheol/Hades.)
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt inthe hand of our iniquities.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Be not so terribly angry, O Lord,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautifulhouse,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12 Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord?
Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?

Isaiah 65:1 I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that was not called by my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and making offerings on bricks;
who sit in tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat pig’s flesh,
and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;
who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all the day.
Behold, it is written before me:
“I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their lap
both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they made offerings on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills,
I will measure into their lap
payment for their former deeds.”
Thus says the Lord:
“As the new wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, ‘Do not destroy it,
for there is a blessing in it,’
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
I will bring forth offspring from Jacob,
and from Judah possessors of my mountains;
my chosen shall possess it,
and my servants shall dwell there.
10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks,
and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,
for my people who have sought me.
11 But you who forsake the Lord,
who forget my holy mountain,
who set a table for Fortune
and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you to the sword,
and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter,
because, when I called, you did not answer;
when I spoke, you did not listen,
but you did what was evil in my eyes
and chose what I did not delight in.”
13 Therefore thus says the Lord God:
“Behold, my servants shall eat,
but you shall be hungry;
behold, my servants shall drink,
but you shall be thirsty;
behold, my servants shall rejoice,
but you shall be put to shame;
14 behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart,
but you shall cry out for pain of heart
and shall wail for breaking of spirit.
15 You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse,
and the Lord God will put you to death,
but his servants he will call by another name,
16 so that he who blesses himself in the land
shall bless himself by the God of truth,
and he who takes an oath in the land
shall swear by the God of truth;
because the former troubles are forgotten
and are hidden from my eyes.
(This chapter, I believe, is about how God would choose which of them to raise again to life and which to leave condemned.)

17 “For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
(People who would otherwise have warred against one another would live in peace together, but the serpent, whom I believe was bound during this time, this s0-called “millenial reign with Christ” that lasted 40 years, would be removed from the scene.

Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.
“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;
he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood;
he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol.
These have chosen their own ways,
and their soul delights in their abominations;
I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight.”
Hear the word of the Lord,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy’;
but it is they who shall be put to shame.
“The sound of an uproar from the city!
A sound from the temple!
The sound of the Lord,
rendering recompense to his enemies!
“Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
(YES!  Israel was indeed “born” from Sheol immediately on the day that Jesus himself was first raised.)

For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
says the Lord;
“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
says your God.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
11 that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”
12 For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.
15 “For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the Lord shall be many.
(I think this is foretelling the judgment of Satan and his forces, both divine and human, at 70AD, as that generation came to a close.)

17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the Lord.
18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations.
(This is  a reference to the missionary work of Paul and others, which happened during this 40-year period.)
20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.
(I suspect that all the faithful Jews did come to Jerusalem to worship.  Further, note here that some would be taken for priests and Levites.  Does this signify that some manner of business was to continue in the Temple at this time?  I haven’t yet studied the matter.)
22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the Lord,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23 From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the Lord.
24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
(The final verse is an intriguing way to end the book of Isaiah–and I’m not sure at this time the event and time to which it refers.)

In summation, I believe that the final 6 chapters of Isaiah goes out with a bang, foretelling the restoration of Israel into the land from 30AD to 70AD.

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Which Version?

Some hold that “the one true church” began in Acts 2 and continues to this very day, alongside many false churches.  (Let them identify which one they think is the real one, and then we can discuss it.)  Meanwhile, others prefer to think of the whole of all the church varieties constituting a massive church, despite the differences in their thinking and practices.

These two views, however, don’t work together.  They cannot both be right—and I suspect that they are both wrong.

Meanwhile, there are those who prefer to take an evolutionary view of “the church”, in which it keeps upgrading itself in various ways throughout the centuries.  So where Acts 2 began what we might call Version 1.0, they would now have us at some supposedly-advanced iteration such as 3.9 or 1789.2.  It’s just a concept, of course, so the actual number wouldn’t matter all that much.  Regardless, that’s their concept.  So when you hold them to account as to why their church is lacking some certain feature of the original ekklesia of Jesus, they think nothing of it, for they hold no expectation that the church now and the church then ought to match—at least not in whatever particular regard is in view.

This way of thinking, of course, makes it exceedingly easy to cover up the differences, for in it, the differences are taken as accomplishments predetermined by God to be accomplished over time.  So if you ask them about their “teen ministry”, for example, and how it seems on its face to be contrary to Paul’s teachings on unity in 1 Corinthians 12, don’t expect them to be alarmed at that observation, for they’ll see it as a needful and righteous evolution beyond where Paul and the church were at that primitive hour in its history.  Never mind that the apostles themselves didn’t seem to exhibit any such progressive view during their own tenures;  “that was then, and this is now,” seems to be the newthink.

Well, OK, let’s run with that.  Suppose that it were to keep progressing such that God eventually does away with this, that, and the other thing, such that the only thing that he eventually chooses to focus on would be the personal righteousness of the individual believer.  Suppose that that were held as non-negotiable, but that all the normal trappings of “church” were eventually dispensed with.  Would that evolutionary outcome be acceptable?  Or is it a predetermined conclusion that there simply must be a corporation and a building and a staff and a bank account and sermons and so forth?  In other words, is this really a pursuit of what God wants, or are the wants of the congregants also important as things evolve?  Sure, you can call it progress all you like, but if it’s not pleasing God, is it really progress?

Now, lest I be misunderstood, I think that this extreme degree of change (in which all that counts is how the believer conducts himself) is indeed what God seems to have had in mind, and that he accomplished this immediately at 70AD, skipping all the denominational business altogether.  And since it was immediate, it wasn’t evolutionary at all, and did not depend on people to figure it out.  I think that he immediately stopped supporting the regular business of the ekklesia on Planet Earth, having moved the whole crowd up to the Heavenly Jerusalem, that Holy City.  And anyone on Planet Earth since who wants to go there can signify such by living in godly and righteous fashion, honoring God with his thoughts, words, and deeds.

If I’m right about this (and obviously, I think I am), that puts us currently in Version 0.0 of church–regardless of whatever way the various believers see it.  Those who think they are members of Version 1.0 (Catholics are probably a good example of this, though not the only), simply deceive themselves into thinking that the obvious changes and evolutions are indeed the original practices and teachings.  They are cheating, for the differences are self-evident.  And those whose view is that they are in Version 437.2 of “the church” can easily deal with whatever fault may be found in it all by appealing to the soon-to-be-released Version 437.3, which they are certain that God is working hard to bring about in good time.

As I have said before, however, very few indeed seem interested in adopting a reality-based view of the true state of things.

 

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What’s The Point?

Someone will rail against this Temporary Ekklesia Theory, thinking it ridiculous that Jesus would not plan his church to be a perpetual body upon Planet Earth.  This is ironic, of course, as the same person will go to a church that ignores a great many of the original teachings, and that features several new teachings, invented by people other than Jesus and his authorized apostles.

So by their words, they supposedly uphold the original, but by their practices, they depart from it.  This is the (poor) position that they try to bring to bear against this Theory.  They don’t realize what they are doing—or worse, they realize, and simply don’t care.

The fact of the matter is that it is impossible for them to replicate many of the original features of Jesus’ ekklesia—for many of them required interaction with God, who no longer powers such features.  Even so, some of these they try to replicate (powerlessly) anyway, while others are strangely ignored under some inconsistent and seemingly-arbitrary reasoning.

Another tactic I have noticed is that of downplaying the original role of the apostles, so as to make it seem less a severe change that the church should have suddenly been without them from 70AD forward all these years.  The more they can discount the knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and importance of the apostles, the easier their case for an ongoing church seems to them.  So they insist on keeping going with a watered-down version of the original, telling themselves that it’s not watered down.

Then there are those who want to argue that the apostles are exceedingly important, but that they have since been completely and adequately replaced by their own writings, as found in the commonly-accepted canon of scripture.  Obviously, however, the scriptures do not perform signs, miracles, or wonders in the apostles’ place.  Nor do they travel about checking and teaching and correcting and rebuking as needed.  It is hardly a serviceable substitution.

 

Posted in State of the Church, Stumbling Blocks, Theory Implications | Leave a comment

Figurative Uses of Water Language in the Old Testament

This article is about how the Old Testament texts sometimes use “water” language figuratively.  (I’ll handle the New Testament passages in another article so that this doesn’t get unmanageably long–as it’s already a substantial article.)

Now, water is very important to both ends of the Bible story.  Consider its role at the conclusion:

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea (θάλασσα thalassa) was no more.

Whatever this is meant to convey, it’s obviously a big deal, because a Planet Earth with no sea would be quite a different place–whether it’s intended literally or figuratively.  I contend that the “sea” here was not intended to be a literal reference to any of the oceans of Planet Earth.  I also contend that the water/sea language at the beginning of the story was not intended literally, either:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (מַיִם mayim) And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.  And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters (מַיִם mayim), and let it separate the waters (מַיִם mayim) from the waters (מַיִם mayim).” And God made the expanse and separated the waters (מַיִם mayim) that were under the expanse from the waters (מַיִם mayim) that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.  And God said, “Let the waters (מַיִם mayim) under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters (מַיִם mayim) that were gathered together he called Seas (יָם yam) . And God saw that it was good.

The point of this present exercise is merely to demonstrate that terms such as water and sea are used figuratively or metaphorically at times in the Bible.  I don’t mean to suggest that they are always used non-literally, mind you.  Again, the simple point of this exercise is to show that ruling out their metaphorical use in the beginning and end of the story is unfounded.

What remains here, therefore, will be a list of passages in which I contend that the use of such terms is figurative.  Some of what follows will be quite obviously figurative, and some will be debatable.  I’ve typically listed the passages first, with notes indented thereafter.  I have also made mention of various connections that may exist in the texts.

OLD TESTAMENT PASSAGES

Mayim occurs 585 times in 525 verses in the Old Testament.  You may look into it here. Here are some notable cases of metaphorical use, with notes following each excerpt.

Psalm 18:16 He sent from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of many waters (מַיִם mayim).
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
    and from those who hated me,
    for they were too mighty for me.

The introduction to this Psalm of David says that it was written, “…on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.  It would seem that verses 16 and 17, therefore, are a classic case of Hebrew parallelism, whereby both verses refer to the same thing in different ways.  If I’m right about this, the “waters” are David’s “strong enemy”.  Thus, we have a case in which “waters” refers to beings.

Psalm 69:14 Deliver me
    from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
    and from the deep waters (מַיִם mayim).
15 Let not the flood sweep over me,
    or the deep swallow me up,
    or the pit close its mouth over me.

Here the “deep waters” are associated with “enemies”, “the flood”, “the deep”, and “the pit”.  It is hard to imagine a scenario in which “waters” here could be taken literally.

Psalm 77:16 When the waters (מַיִם mayim) saw you, O God,
    when the waters (מַיִם mayim) saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water (מַיִם mayim);
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea (יָם yam),
    your path through the great waters (מַיִם mayim);
    yet your footprints were unseen.

Something simply must be figurative in this passage, for literal waters are not “afraid” and do not “tremble.”  If water here is a reference to beings, then the fear and trembling are literal.  And if water here is to be taken literally, then the fear and trembling would have to be poetic devices to describe the grand occasion (of the parting of the Red Sea), most likely.

Psalm 104:He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters (מַיִם mayim);
he makes the clouds his chariot;
    he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
    his ministers a flaming fire.

This passage is packed with figurative things.  For example, are God’s ministers (servants) literally “a flaming fire”?  No, not literally.  And does the “wind” really have “wings”?  No, not literally.  What should make us think, then, that the beams of God’s living quarters are literally laid on the waters (H2O)?  There is certainly enough figurative language here to obligate us to consider that the waters here might not be literal.

Psalm 124:1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—
    let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
    when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
    when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
    the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
    the raging waters (מַיִם mayim).

Here the “waters” language is employed to speak of aggressive people.

Psalm 144:7 Stretch out your hand from on high;
    rescue me and deliver me from the many waters (מַיִם mayim),
    from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
    and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

Here the “waters” are unrighteous foreigners.

Psalm 148:1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters (מַיִם mayim) above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

In this psalm, the heavenly beings (including angels) are commanded to praise God.  It would seem here that “waters above the heavens” is a reference to certain heavenly beings.  And I note that the psalmist does not seem to expect that the waters below the heavens should praise God.

If you keep this in mind–that is, that the “heavens” here is a reference to angelic beings–then it raises the question of whether the next passage below should be understood in like fashion.  Or was the speaker in Proverbs 8 speaking literally?

Proverbs 8:27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea (יָם yam) its limit,
    so that the waters (מַיִם mayim) might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30     then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
    rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.

Unlike Psalm 148 above, this passage is talking about the waters below the firmament.  The psalmist had told the waters above it to praise God.  In Proverbs 8, however, we see that the “waters” below had been given a “command”, and that a “limit” had been “assigned” for the “sea”.  Once again, this puts us in a spot where we are forced to admit figurative language.  Either the words like “command” and “assigned” are being used figuratively for creative acts (rather than communicative acts), or the “sea” and “waters” here are beings that can be communicated with.  In either case–whether “water” and “sea” are figurative, or whether “assigned” and “command” are figurative–we have figurative language in a passage using “waters” and “sea” language.

Isaiah 17:12 Ah, the thunder of many peoples;
    they thunder like the thundering of the sea (יָם yam)!
Ah, the roar of nations;
    they roar like the roaring of mighty waters (מַיִם mayim)!
13 The nations roar like the roaring of many waters (מַיִם mayim) ,
    but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away,
chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind
    and whirling dust before the storm.
14 At evening time, behold, terror!
    Before morning, they are no more!
This is the portion of those who loot us,
    and the lot of those who plunder us.

Once again, “sea” and “water” imagery are used to speak of other people who will be rebuked by God, and who will flee far away.  This also brings to mind certain creation language about limits, boundaries, and commands not to be transgressed, such as in Proverbs 8:29 above.

Isaiah 57:20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea (יָם yam);
    for it cannot be quiet,
    and its waters (מַיִם mayim) toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Wicked and restless people are in view here, likened to the tossing sea and its dirty waters.

Jeremiah 47:1 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh struck down Gaza.“Thus says the Lord:
Behold, waters (מַיִם mayim) are rising out of the north,
    and shall become an overflowing torrent;
they shall overflow the land and all that fills it,
    the city and those who dwell in it.
Men shall cry out,
    and every inhabitant of the land shall wail.
At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions,
    at the rushing of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels,
the fathers look not back to their children,
    so feeble are their hands,
because of the day that is coming to destroy
    all the Philistines,
to cut off from Tyre and Sidon
    every helper that remains.

The “waters” here are the onslaught of a military attack–or perhaps, a reference to the people who will comprise that attack.

Jeremiah 51:54 “A voice! A cry from Babylon!
    The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans!
55 For the Lord is laying Babylon waste
    and stilling her mighty voice.
Their waves roar like many waters (מַיִם mayim) ;
    the noise of their voice is raised,
56 for a destroyer has come upon her,
    upon Babylon;
her warriors are taken;
    their bows are broken in pieces,
for the Lord is a God of recompense;
    he will surely repay.

Here the “waters” is a reference to the noise of the people of Babylon.

Ezekiel 26:19 “For thus says the Lord God: When I make you a city laid waste, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you, and the great waters (מַיִם mayim) cover you, 20 then I will make you go down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you to dwell in the world below, among ruins from of old, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set beauty in the land of the living. 21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord God.”

In this decree against Tyre, God likens the ruin that will bring them down to Sheol to a flood of “great waters”.  Surely, this is not intended literally, for the verses that precede this passage make it plain that the city will be ravaged by war.

Hosea 5:10 The princes of Judah have become
    like those who move the landmark;
upon them I will pour out
    my wrath like water (מַיִם mayim).

Here God foretells his judgment against the “princes of Judah”–which might actually be a reference to angels who were supposed to be overseeing that tribe.  He uses the word “water” to describe this judgment.  Is this suppose to evoke images of overwhelming floods and multitudes of attackers as elsewhere?

Amos 5:8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    and turns deep darkness into the morning
    and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters (מַיִם mayim) of the sea (יָם yam)
    and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name;
who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
    so that destruction comes upon the fortress.

(Note:  This “pours them out” language is repeated in Amos 9:5-6)
Again, the watery language is used forebodingly of a coming destruction.  Is this supposed to evoke images of Noah’s flood?  Or rather, is it supposed to evoke images of the hordes of violent beings spoken of elsewhere?  Or is it, perhaps, both?  (And yes, this raises the very good question of whether we are to understand all the “water” passages in the Noah’s flood story as being strictly literal H2O, or whether there might have been some angelic beings involved in that somehow.  I’m not suggesting that there were, mind you, but merely that the question is naturally raised in the process of this investigation.

Now, back to Amos 5.  Interestingly, later in the same chapter, an alternative use of water appears—this time not telling about encroaching and restless hordes, but about righteousness and justice:

Amos 5:24 But let justice roll down like waters (מַיִם mayim),
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

This could be more judgment talk, but it might also be a reference to what things would be like once Jesus had been given all authority.  (This deserves more study, for which I do not currently have time.)  This idea may draw further support in the passage that follows below:

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled
    with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    as the waters (מַיִם mayim) cover the sea (יָם yam).

Here the watery language is used to tell of something good, and not of something bad.  As it is written in future tense, it makes me wonder whether it’s not speaking of how things would be once Jesus arrived.

Zechariah 14:8 On that day living waters (מַיִם mayim) shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea (יָם yam) and half of them to the western sea (יָם yam). It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

As with Habakkuk 2:14 and (perhaps) Amos 5:14 above, here we see something new and good.  These living waters–obviously not literal–were to flow out from Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ appointment to all authority.  Zechariah was careful to designate that these waters were “living”, and we would do well to catch the distinction–just as we may distinguish between “angels” in the New Testament and “holy angels”, the latter of which are called such so that the writer can make sure that the reader knows it’s one of the good guys.

As to these “living waters”, I won’t get off on a tangent here, but you can view the passages where such phrase is used.

 

CONCLUSION

This concludes the Old Testament passages I have chosen to list.  It may well be that other “water” and “sea” passages in the Old Testament were also intended figuratively, but it is difficult to know which are which in some cases.

I think that this exercise is sufficient, however, to make it pretty clear that God and his prophets did make figurative use of “water” and “sea” from time to time.  Further, a good bit of that figurative use seems to paint a picture of surrounding hordes, either invading or threatening to invade upon good people.

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Adam, Satan, God, and Sin: Working the Puzzle

In this post, I’m going to introduce a line of investigation that could take me years to complete.  It’s an expansive puzzle, and I embark upon it having little idea how foolish it may one day seem to me–just as I have no idea just how right it may someday prove to be. So, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I’m going to put forward an hypothesis I’m considering.   I’ll show you the various puzzle pieces in a moment, but first, let me get right to the gist of what I’m investigating:

HYPOTHESIS:  Adam had made a deal with Satan, in writing, and this is the “handwritten code that was against us”—that Jesus canceled by his perfect sacrifice, “nailing it to the cross.”  (Colossians 2:14)

Now, I promise to tell you everything I know about this at length, but first, I’m going to set the stage with a few puzzle pieces in order to demonstrate why I think this hypothesis is worth pursuing.  Here are a few questions that I have never heard any traditionalist answer to my satisfaction.

  1. We read in explicit terms that Eve ate the forbidden fruit before Adam did.  How is it, then, that the entry of sin and death into the world is charged to Adam (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22), and not to Eve?  Could it be that some sin other than the eating of the fruit is what is in view here?
  2. God is the forgiving sort, right?  Just look at how he dealt with people like Abraham, Moses, and David!  So, if humankind was in need of forgiveness from God, why would God have to make a sacrifice to himself in order to do it?  Do you have to make sacrifices to yourself in order to forgive those who sin against you?
  3. It’s a famous fact that God is the true Creator and that he is above every created being.  Further, God had appointed man to “subdue” the Earth and to “have dominion” over every living thing on it. (Genesis 1:28) How is it, then, that Satan had come to be known as “the ruler of this world”?  Jesus called him that three times in John’s gospel.  (John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11)  Who had handed over the rule of the world to Satan, when did it happen, and under what circumstances?  Was that rule ever to come to an end?  And if so, how and when?
  4. The Law of Moses did not come until long after Adam and Eve’s sin.  And the Law of Moses was not given to the Gentiles, but only to the Jews.  How can that “handwritten code that was against us” (Colossians 2:13-14) have been the Law of Moses?  And if it wasn’t the Law of Moses, then what was it, and where was it written?

I’ll probably discover more issues like these as time goes by, but these are plenty to demonstrate that common Christian belief doesn’t have a very good handle on topics of this nature.  So now, I’ll get to a quick list of evidences that I believe may support the hypothesis above. Here they are in no particular order.

The Handwritten Code

The King James and several other translations are careful to state that whatever this document was, it was handwritten.  You can compare many translations here.  You’ll see why this is important next, but for now, let’s be careful to note that many translations rendered it explicitly in the same way the KJV does here:

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

The Greek word translated as “handwriting” here appears only once in the Bible.  It is cheirographon (χειρόγραφον).  You can read all about it here.  I’ll get into its significance here in some other article some day when I have more time.  But for now, let it suffice to say that Paul used special care to distinguish handwriting from regular writing.  But why?

Writing With Ink and Paper

Here’s the crux of the hypothesis I’m exploring.  It’s from a widespread Ancient Near Eastern book called The Book of Enoch, or 1 Enoch.

1 Enoch 69:9 He [a fallen angel-type named Penemue] taught men the art of writing with ink and paper, and through this many have gone astray, from eternity to eternity, and to this day. 10. For men were not created for this, that they should confirm their faith like this, with pen and ink. 11. For men were created no differently from the Angels, so that they might remain righteous and pure, and death, which destroys everything, would not have touched them; but through this knowledge of theirs they are being destroyed and through this power death consumes them.

Notice here that it wasn’t the mere act of writing that was considered a sin, but “that they should confirm their faith like this, with pen and ink.”  What was that all about?  And whatever it was, note that it has something to do with death.  Had this particular act of writing not commenced, it is stated that death would “not have touched them”.

So, again, what was this all about?  There’s no obvious reference to any sort of writing in the Genesis 2-3 account of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden.  Is this Book of Enoch just some bogus book, then?  Is it that easily settled?  Well, if it’s that easy, then how do we explain why the New Testament quotes 1 Enoch, and why a great many allusions to 1 Enoch appear in it?  The book was widely circulated and known in the First Century among believers.

Given that, you can choose either to shut down this investigation, or to look further into it.

The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (2 Enoch) presents a motive for Satan to be vying against Adam.  In the following passage, God is the speaker:

2 Enoch 31:1 Adam has life on earth, and I created a garden in Eden in the east, that he should observe the testament and keep the command. 2 I made the heavens open to him, that he should see the angels singing the song of victory, and the gloomless light. 3 And he was continuously in paradise, and the devil understood that I wanted to create another world, because Adam was lord on earth, to rule and control it. 4 The devil is the evil spirit of the lower places, as a fugitive he made Sotona from the heavens as his name was Satanail (Satan), thus he became different from the angels, (but his nature) did not change (his) intelligence as far as (his) understanding of righteous and sinful (things). 5 And he understood his condemnation and the sin which he had sinned before, therefore he conceived thought against Adam, in such form he entered and seduced Eva (Eve), but did not touch Adam.

So, God had conceived a plan to make a second world, in addition to the Earth.  He had put Adam in charge of the Earth.  Satan, however, being already condemned for his sin and confined to the Earth, plotted against Adam.

The Second World

Now, regarding that second world, we are told more in 2 Esdras 7.

2 Esdras 7:[50] For this reason the Most High has made not one world but two. [51] Inasmuch as you have said that the righteous are not many but few, while the ungodly abound, hear the explanation for this. [52] “If you have just a few precious stones, will you add to them lead and clay?” [53] I said, “Lord, how could that be?” [54] And he said to me, “Not only that, but ask the earth and she will tell you; defer to her, and she will declare it to you. [55] Say to her, “You produce gold and silver and bronze, and also iron and lead and clay; [56] but silver is more abundant than gold, and bronze than silver, and iron than bronze, and lead than iron, and clay than lead.’ [57] Judge therefore which things are precious and desirable, those that are abundant or those that are rare?” [58] I said, “O sovereign Lord, what is plentiful is of less worth, for what is more rare is more precious.” [59] He answered me and said, “Consider within yourself what you have thought, for the person who has what is hard to get rejoices more than the person who has what is plentiful. [60] So also will be the judgment {Syr Arab 1: Lat [creation]} that I have promised; for I will rejoice over the few who shall be saved, because it is they who have made my glory to prevail now, and through them my name has now been honored.  [61] I will not grieve over the great number of those who perish; for it is they who are now like a mist, and are similar to a flame and smoke–they are set on fire and burn hotly, and are extinguished.”

This second world, therefore, was to be for those that God would consider to be “the righteous.”  He was going to separate them out from the rest of humans, putting them in this second world.  Satan, however, had opposed this, and by some scheme, had held captive the spirits of the dead.

The Captives/Prisoners

Here are some brief evidences that the dead were considered “captives” and “prisoners” in Sheol/Hades.  And note further that the righteous among them were expecting to be delivered by God at some point.  But how had they gotten into this prison?  By what law?  By what decree?

Psalm 68:18 You ascended on high,
leading a host of captives in your train
and receiving gifts among men,
even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there.

Isaiah 49:8 Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages,
9 saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Job 3:11 “Why did I not die at birth,
    come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
    Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet;
    I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,
14 with kings and counselors of the earth
    who rebuilt ruins for themselves,
15 or with princes who had gold,
    who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,
    as infants who never see the light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
    and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners are at ease together;
    they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
19 The small and the great are there,
    and the slave is free from his master.

Psalm 79:8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
    let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
    for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
    for your name’s sake!
10 Why should the nations (That is, the dead of the nations who are around us in Sheol) say,
    “Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
    be known among the nations before our eyes!
11 Let the groans of the prisoners  come before you;
    according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
    the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will give thanks to you forever;
    from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Revelation 6:9  When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
NOTE: Those in view here are obviously martyrs, as per verse 9.  They should not be mistaken, however, for the whole set of the faithful in Sheol.  1 Enoch 22 details four areas of Sheol, in which “the spirits of the souls of the dead should assemble….till the day of their judgment and till their appointed period, till the great judgment comes upon them.” (1 Enoch 22:4)  Two of those areas were for the unrighteous, one for the righteous, and the fourth for those like Abel, who “make their suit, who make disclosures concerning their destruction, when they were slain in the days of the sinners.”  (1 Enoch 22:12)  It is this area that seems to be in view in Revelation 6:9, and not the area for those righteous having no disputes.  While these in view here had been declared righteous (“given a white robe”), they were still in waiting.   

2 Enoch 40:9  And I measured out the whole earth, its mountains, and all hills, fields, trees, stones, rivers, all existing things I wrote down, the height from earth to the seventh heaven, and downwards to the very lowest hell, and the judgment-place, and the very great, open and weeping hell. 10 And I saw how the prisoners are in pain, expecting the limitless judgment. 11 And I wrote down all those being judged by the judge, and all their judgment (and sentences) and all their works. 41:1 And I saw all forefathers from (all) time with Adam and Eva (Eve), and I sighed and broke into tears and said of the ruin of their dishonour: 2 Woe is me for my infirmity and (for that) of my forefathers, and thought in my heart and said: 3 Blessed (is) the man who has not been born or who has been born and shall not sin before the Lord’s face, that he come not into this place, nor bring the yoke of this place.  42:1 I saw the key-holders and guards of the gates of hell standing, like great serpents, and their faces like extinguishing lamps, and their eyes of fire, their sharp teeth, and I saw all the Lord’s works, how they are right, while the works of man are some (good), and others bad, and in their works are known those who lie evilly.

Regarding this last passage–and particularly the part highlighted in green–let us note that Enoch understood that one did not have to go to Sheol/Hades if he were sinless.  But again, where is this written in any decree from God that is recorded in the Bible? I have never found such a decree.

Now, in that first of the captives/prisoners passages above (Psalm 68:18), we see that Jesus was eventually to let the righteous out of Sheol.  But if he was supposed to let these people out, how had they come to be there in the first place?  Remember, Sheol/Hades was the realm of Satan:

2 Enoch  31:4 The devil is the evil spirit of the lower places, as a fugitive…

By the time that Jesus arrives, however, Satan is being called “the ruler of this world”—and not only of those lower places (of Sheol/Hades).  How had he got control of not only what was below the earth, but what was on it?

The Accuser/Adversary

There is considerable legal language used in the texts about all these things.  I won’t go into it all here.  Indeed, I have not even studied it all exhaustively myself.  But let me point out just a little bit of it here:

Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Job 31:35 Oh, that I had one to hear me!
    (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
    Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!
36 Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;
    I would bind it on me as a crown;
37 I would give him an account of all my steps;
    like a prince I would approach him.

Regarding the Job passage, it’s important to note that Chapters 1 and 2 tell us explicitly that Satan was the one accusing Job before God.  This “indictment” to which Job refers causes one to wonder whether there had also been an indictment or some other legal document in the case of Adam.

Now, considering this general topic of legal language, let’s reconsider the passage that started this entire discussion:

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Whatever was this “handwriting of ordinances”, I doubt very seriously that it had originated with God, but with the accuser, the adversary, Satan.  Note how 2 Esdras (just below this paragraph) says that evil was “sown” into Adam’s heart, and how it has since corrupted many.  Whatever the particular evil in question was, who shall we suppose had “sown” it into Adam’s heart?  Surely it was not God who did it.   And how strange it would be for us to conclude that Adam had sown it into his own heart.  The short list of remaining suspects, therefore, is Satan.  So let’s look at what 2 Esdras says would come from this sowing:

2 Esdras 4:30 For a grain of evil seed was sown in Adam’s heart from the beginning, and how much ungodliness it has produced until now–and will produce until the time of threshing comes! 31 Consider now for yourself how much fruit of ungodliness a grain of evil seed has produced.

He went out of his way to point out that it had had a very large effect of ungodliness.  Interestingly, the 1 Enoch passage about the writing with ink and paper makes a similar statement.  Note the blue highlight here:

1 Enoch 69:9 He [a fallen angel-type named Penemue] taught men the art of writing with ink and paper, and through this many have gone astray, from eternity to eternity, and to this day. 10. For men were not created for this, that they should confirm their faith like this, with pen and ink. 11. For men were created no differently from the Angels, so that they might remain righteous and pure, and death, which destroys everything, would not have touched them; but through this knowledge of theirs they are being destroyed and through this power death consumes them.

Had this fallen angel, here called Penemue, also given Adam the idea to write some particular sort of thing?  That is, isn’t what’s in view here more than just learning the skill of writing?  Doesn’t the problem in this passage lie in exactly what they were writing?  Aren’t we told that it had something to do with “confirming their faith”—whatever that was supposed to mean?

Had Adam been suckered into some sort of rash contract?  Had he made some sort of boast on behalf of all his progeny to come?  He had somehow bound all of his descendants over to some sort of legal arrangement by which Satan would become the master of all who would act outside of faith with God?

These are just speculations, of course, for so far, I have not discovered any of the details of this “writing with ink and paper” that had caused such a problem.  The reason I speculate as I do, however, is that it took one perfect person to nail this handwritten code to the cross.  Up until Jesus, nobody had been worthy to do it.

I want to be careful not to overstate myself here, but this brings to mind the language of Revelation 5, concerning the unsealing of a certain scroll:

Revelation 5:And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”…..And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

I say I want to be careful, because I’m not certain that this particular scroll that was being opened was this “handwriting of ordinances that was against us”.  The reason I cite this passage, rather, is because Jesus’ perfection and his conquering of evil had made him worthy to do a thing that nobody else could do.  And this brings me back to the Colossians 2 passage we have been considering all along.  Look how Jesus is said to have humiliated those certain “principalities and powers” that seem to have had something to do with this ‘handwriting of ordinance that was against us”:

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

For the record, I believe that this “triumphing over them” was quite likely the “binding of Satan”, and that it happened on the very weekend that Jesus was resurrected.  I believe that Satan and his various rebel cohorts (divine beings) were bound in the pit–held captives in their own jail–until they were let out at about 66AD “for a little while.”  It was only then that Peter would write of Satan:

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Was it an oath?

Several times as I have pondered what might be the nature of whatever ill thing had been set into handwriting, I have wondered whether it might have been some manner of boast or oath.  These passages come to mind:

2 Enoch 49:1 I swear to you, my children, but I swear not by any oath, neither by heaven nor by earth, nor by any other creature which God created.  2 The Lord said: There is no oath in me, nor injustice, but truth.  3 If there is no truth in men, let them swear by the words, Yea, yea, or else, Nay, nay. 4 And I swear to you, yea, yea, that there has been no man in his mother’s womb, (but that) already before, even to each one there is a place prepared for the repose of that soul, and a measure fixed how much it is intended that a man be tried in this world. 5 Yea, children, deceive not yourselves, for there has been previously prepared a place for every soul of man.

Matthew 5:33 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

James 5:12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

Had Adam fallen under condemnation by way of an oath?  If not Adam, then where would we find the basis for such passages?  And how shall we understand the nature of the evil involved in such oaths.  Indeed, Jesus says (Matthew 5:37) that anything beyond yes or no “comes from evil”.  Oh?  Well, we can certainly take his word for this; after all, he should know.  But why is it evil?  One gets the feeling that there’s probably something behind this—some story.  But where’s the story?

Was it a boast?

I’ve also considered a couple of boasts from scripture, and whether Adam’s handwriting incident might have been something similar in nature.  Here’s what I have in mind:

Jephthah.  Judges 11:29-40.  Jephthah makes a rash vow to God that he’ll if God will do such and such, Jephthah will sacrifice the next thing that walks out the door to his house.  What was he thinking?  He probably was not thinking, actually, for what family man would have (being clearly minded and careful) risked such a vow?  Yes, he might have been mindlessly expecting some animal to come out, but did he not know, or should he not have known, the risk that a human might have been involved?

Peter.  This one, I’ll simply paste here in its entirety, for it reminds me more of something that Adam might possibly have done.

Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

With this one in particular, I wonder about the state of Adam, who had possibly had little experience with himself.  In Peter’s story, he directly contradicts Jesus’ predictions—not just once, but twice!  Obviously, Peter is either overestimating his own loyalty and strength of conviction, or is underestimating the pressure that will be brought to bear upon him–and possibly both.  Even so, he makes the boast, not just once, but twice.  And we know the story; we know that he fails to keep this promise.

Might this have been something similar to what happened with Adam?  Might he have overestimated the righteousness of humankind, and bound them into some contract of subjection to Satan if they should fail to be righteous?

Perhaps a hint of this exists in the following passage from 2 Enoch, wherein God recounts what happened in Eden:

2 Enoch 30:And I appointed him a name, from the four component parts, from east, from west, from south, from north, and I appointed for him four special stars, and I called his name Adam, and showed him the two ways, the light and the darkness, and I told him: 14 This is good, and that bad, that I should learn whether he has love towards me, or hatred, that it be clear which in his race love me. 15 For I have seen his nature, but he has not seen his own nature, therefore (through) not seeing he will sin worse, and I said After sin (what is there) but death?

I don’t know.

At this point in my investigation, I simply don’t know the exact nature of whatever grievous thing had been written.  It was not, however, something insignificant, for its cancellation is tied to the very crucifixion of Jesus—one of the greatest events in all of history.  If it was not the Law of Moses that was canceled, and if it was not this contract with Satan that I’ve been speculating about, then what was it?

I have written here about “captives” of Satan, and have asked the question of how it was that they got this way.  Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but earlier in the very paragraph we have examined again and again, there is a reference to captivity:

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Note that this particular captivity is not merely one of misguided human activity, but also one of what the ESV here calls the “elemental spirits of the world”. You can examine the language of the verse yourself, and you’ll see that “elemental spirits of the world” seems to be a stretch of translation.  There is no Greek word in the sentence that we would normally translate as “spirits”, so boo on the ESV for doing that.  Indeed, they don’t render the same word, stoicheîon (στοιχεῖον) in the same way elsewhere.  Here (below) are all six instances of stoicheîon in the New Testament.  As you read, note that some form of the word “element” appears in each case, yet the second word in red (where there are two) is not directly from the Greek, but is inserted in interpretive fashion:

Galatians 4:3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.

Galatians 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ

Colossians 2:20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

An entire book could (and should) be written about stoicheîon, but there’s no room for that here.  While the ESV struggled badly enough with rendering it in the first five instances, the last two are quite ridiculous.  2 Peter 3 already has a context of the destruction of the ungodly–and smacks considerably of the language of 1 Enoch, which book tells a great deal about how these corrupting angel-types who had intervened upon the Earth, causing great moral destruction, were going to be judged.  Even so, the ESV ignores all of that, and translates a word that works just fine as “elements” as “heavenly bodies” instead.  But there is not one iota of linguistic evidence in the Greek that supports such a choice.  Rather, the ESV is grasping at straws for a way to understand this passage, and opts to make it an end-of-the-world matter, rather than and end-of-Satan matter, which is what I believe Peter intended.

With the end of Satan would come the end of angel-types teaching evil principles to humankind.  No longer would humans be ensnared/enslaved by these worthless principles—at least not from being persuaded by angels to that end.  No, if humans were going to be ensnared thereafter, it would be completely their own doing–from their own evil desires.  And I want you to note the words in orange that appear in the first four (of seven) passages above.  They all mention this enslavement in one way or another.  If this is mere coincidence, what a coincidence it is that it would happen in 4 of the 6 stoicheîon passages!

Indeed, the coincidence may be even greater than that, for Hebrews does mention enslavement and escape a few times, including a very intriguing mention in Hebrews 2:13, which may have further relevance to this present topic.  And meanwhile, there’s an even stronger case to be made for the context of the 2 Peter passage above, for it mentions such enslavement in the chapter immediately preceding the 3rd chapter discussed above.  It speaks of people having been enslaved, and enticing others into such enslavement.  Look at the language here:

2 Peter 2:17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

The “fiery” end that was to come was the end of this sort of entanglement, whereby evil angels, who taught to humankind what ought not be taught had rule over the Earth.  Our question, of course, is how all that had gotten started in the first place, and it seems more complicated than that Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit on a whim one day.

We simply do not know the whole story.  But I’m not done looking, for it is almost certain that more remains to be gleaned from the Ancient Near Eastern texts (including the Bible) than what I yet understand about all this.  I look forward to getting to the bottom of this—if its bottom can be gotten to.  And if my speculation about some sort of “deal with the devil” is wrong, I look forward to replacing it with something more plausible.

 

Please pardon the unpolished nature of this article.  It was suppose to be a 10-minute project just to outline the idea, but it turned into a live study session.  (And that was about 5 hours ago.)  So goes my life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The New Testament Timeline (IN PROGRESS)

The goal of this post is to provide for the reader a rough idea of what I think was the timeline for the major New Testament events that are particularly relevant to the Temporary Ekklesia Theory.  I’ll add hyperlinks for supporting articles as time allows, but from the following, you can at least get the idea of my current model of understanding.

I’m sorry this is so sketchy at first, but time is limited, and I’ve got to start somewhere.  I’m telling myself that I’ll fill in the details bit by bit, starting soon—but we’ll see how it actually goes. Continue reading

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2 Esdras on the Ages

While many are preoccupied with the question of whether certain extrabiblical Ancient Near Eastern works are “scripture”, I’m more concerned with the question of whether they are true.  Many of these were documents that were well-known to the apostles and prophets of the First Century, and if we want to understand the Bible, we need to understand the culture of their day.

I add to the pile of evidence, therefore, the following passages from 2 Esdras (2 Ezra) concerning when the ages were to change over. I hope to return to this article later to add some commentary, as well as some cross references to certain Bible passages.

When the “Shepherd” Comes

2 Esdras 2:33. I, Ezra, received a command from the Lord on Mount Horeb to go to Israel. When I came to them they rejected me and refused the Lord’s commandment. 34. Therefore I say to you, O nations that hear and understand, “Wait for your shepherd; he will give you everlasting rest, because he who will come at the end of the age is close at hand.  35. Be ready for the rewards of the kingdom, because perpetual light will shine on you forevermore. 36. Flee from the shadow of this age, receive the joy of your glory; I publicly call on my savior to witness. {Other ancient authorities read [I testify that my savior has been commissioned by the Lord]} 37. Receive what the Lord has entrusted to you and be joyful, giving thanks to him who has called you to the celestial kingdoms. 38. Rise, stand erect and see the number of those who have been sealed at the feast of the Lord. 39. Those who have departed from the shadow of this age have received glorious garments from the Lord. 40. Take again your full number, O Zion, and close the list of your people who are clothed in white, who have fulfilled the law of the Lord. 41. The number of your children, whom you desired, is now complete; implore the Lord’s authority that your people, who have been called from the beginning, may be made holy.”

Jacob and Esau

2 Esdras 6:7. I answered and said, “What will be the dividing of the times? Or when will be the end of the first age and the beginning of the age that follows?” 8. He said to me, “From Abraham to Isaac, {Other ancient authorities read [to Abraham]} because from him were born Jacob and Esau, for Jacob’s hand held Esau’s heel from the beginning. 9. Now Esau is the end of this age, and Jacob is the beginning of the age that follows. 10. The beginning of a person is the hand, and the end of a person is the heel; {Syr: Meaning of Lat uncertain} seek for nothing else, Ezra, between the heel and the hand, Ezra!”

Destruction of Jerusalem

Compare the following to Jesus’ sayings about the destruction of Jerusalem.

2 Esdras 6:20. When the seal is placed upon the age that is about to pass away, then I will show these signs: the books shall be opened before the face of the firmament, and all shall see my judgment {Syr: Lat lacks [my judgment]} together. 21. Children a year old shall speak with their voices, and pregnant women shall give birth to premature children at three and four months, and these shall live and leap about. 22. Sown places shall suddenly appear unsown, and full storehouses shall suddenly be found to be empty; 23. the trumpet shall sound aloud, and when all hear it, they shall suddenly be terrified. 24. At that time friends shall make war on friends like enemies, the earth and those who inhabit it shall be terrified, and the springs of the fountains shall stand still, so that for three hours they shall not flow. 25. “It shall be that whoever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world. 26. And they shall see those who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death; and the heart of the earth’s {Syr Compare Ethiop Arab 1 Arm: Lat lacks [earth’s]} inhabitants shall be changed and converted to a different spirit. 27. For evil shall be blotted out, and deceit shall be quenched; 28. faithfulness shall flourish, and corruption shall be overcome, and the truth, which has been so long without fruit, shall be revealed.”

At the Day of Judgment

2 Esdras 7:113 But the day of judgment will be the end of this age and the beginning {Syr Ethiop: Lat lacks [the beginning]} of the immortal age to come, in which corruption has passed away, 114. sinful indulgence has come to an end, unbelief has been cut off, and righteousness has increased and truth has appeared. 115. Therefore no one will then be able to have mercy on someone who has been condemned in the judgment, or to harm {Syr Ethiop: Lat [overwhelm]} someone who is victorious.”

First Age Predated Humankind

2 Esdras 9:18. For there was a time in this age when I was preparing for those who now exist, before the world was made for them to live in, and no one opposed me then, for no one existed; 19. but now those who have been created in this world, which is supplied both with an unfailing table and an inexhaustible pasture, {Cn: Lat [law]} have become corrupt in their ways. 20. So I considered my world, and saw that it was lost. I saw that my earth was in peril because of the devices of those who {Cn: Lat [devices that]} had come into it.

12 Parts to the Age

2 Esdras 14:10. The age has lost its youth, and the times begin to grow old.  11. For the age is divided into twelve parts, and nine of its parts have already passed, 12. as well as half of the tenth part; so two of its parts remain, besides half of the tenth part.

 

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Angels as Shepherds: Part 2

In my previous article, I argued from the Bible that the “shepherds” mentioned in the some of the Old Testament passages of the Bible were not human elders or judges of Israel, but angelic beings, having been put in charge by God.  In this present article, I’d like to give you some more evidence to consider.  This time, I want to show you some extrabiblical evidence about what the Ancient Near Eastern culture was reading and thinking regarding these “shepherds”.

Below is a lengthy passage from the Book of Enoch (also called 1 Enoch), and it makes a Continue reading

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Parousia: Coming or Presence?

While Preterists continue to hash out the details of what all is fulfilled and in what way, there is an ongoing debate over the meaning of this word parousia.  It is the word used here of Jesus’ return:

Matthew 24:As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming (parousia), and of the end of the age?”

Many Preterists (but not all) have taken a view of the word that does not point so much to a second visit by Jesus to the earth, but a time of continual presence here, wherein he lives richly in the lives of believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  They claim that this parousia began in 70AD (or perhaps in 66AD) and that it continues today.

This model does not have Jesus on the earth in his bodily form (as he left the earth), but in spirit.  He does not hold court in any place on earth, where he may be visited and seen and heard and questioned.  Rather, in their view, he holds court in the hearts of believers, invisibly.

I find this view terribly dissatisfying on these two counts in particular:

  1. How is it any different (really) from what was happening from the Pentecost of Acts 2 up until 70AD?  It is reduced to a mere token with no substance.
  2. Is the rampant disunity among Christians today, and the corruption of so very many of the churches really what we would expect from a model in which Jesus rules over his kingdom of believers at the personal level of their own hearts—interacting with each in real-time?

Jesus has a real body, just like angels and just like glorified humans.  Why would he not bring it with him?   And if he had promised the apostles that he was leaving to prepare a place for them, and that he’d return to take them to where he was, why, then, would he then abandon that place and set up shop on the earth?  Just imagine the disappointment of the apostles, who, after being taken off to heaven, would realize that Jesus was leaving his body in heaven to come down to the earth in order to indwell all the believers with his spirit!  Oh, I’m quite aware that they’ll tell me that Jesus remains in heaven, too.  But again, see my number 1 point above.

It makes no sense.  Is it not clear to us that we are not yet in heaven ourselves?  Is it not clear to us that we cannot go to God with a question and get a clear, decisive, and immediate answer, as could those who walked up to Jesus in the flesh in the First Century?  That kind of communication is much to be preferred to whatever is available now, for in that case, there would be no wondering about “what the Spirit is saying to our hearts”, as many wonder today at their own risk.  Whether one understood Jesus or not, his actual words would have been clear, and could be recorded for posterity.

But he does not hold court today on Planet Earth, and says nothing in public.  There are no current statements from him that can be quoted. What an unusual case this would be to have a single ruler over the entire Planet Earth for nearly 2,000 years now, having never made one public statement in all that time!  This idea of his “kingdom on Earth”, therefore, significantly strains the normal language.

Further, those who consider themselves in his kingdom and pray to him believing that he gives them answers have a terrible track record of getting things right.  It is as if they were working but from their own imaginations, and rarely stopping to check the results of their work.  If what we see about us in Christianity today is indeed the “spiritual kingdom” in which Jesus is keeping a “presence” (parousia), it is worse than what they had in the First Century under the apostles, prophets, and evangelists!  But who would think it right that the fulfillment of all things should be a worse state than before the fulfillment?

No, we are not yet in heaven.  And it’s still true that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven”.  No living humans are in that kingdom.  And what a sad commentary it is on anyone’s understanding of that kingdom that they would claim that their own church is indeed that very kingdom!

 

 

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Angels as “Shepherds”: Part I

I contend that certain divine beings, which I will call angel-types were referred to as “shepherds” frequently throughout the Bible.  There are about 111 “shepherd” passages in the Bible.  In several instances, literal shepherds (with sheep) are obviously in view, but in other instances, the term is being used figuratively of someone other than literal sheep herders.  When we read about things like “shepherds of Israel,” for example, many wrongly assume that what was in view were the various human leaders who were set over Israel.  I contend, however, that these are references to angel-types who had been given various roles of oversight over humans, and who were corrupt and doing a poor job of it.  The aim of this article is to demonstrate the high likelihood that many of these “shepherd” mentions are talking about God’s extreme dissatisfaction with the job the angel-types were doing of overseeing the various nations of the earth.

Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Posted in Anatomy of the Angels, Angels, Role of Angels, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 144,000 Were NOT From The Great Tribulation

The “144,000” of Revelation 7 are NOT those who come out of the great tribulation. It’s easy to make errors while reading the Bible, and this one’s a common one.  Fortunately, however, this one is easily demonstrated and put away.   Here’s the text; look for the word “AFTER” in red below (vs 9).
 
Revelation 7:After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants[a] of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
5
12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
7
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8
12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
A Great Multitude from Every Nation
 
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Two groups are envisioned here. The first we are specifically told are “from every tribe of the sons of Israel”. This vision is shown, and it was specified to John that these Jews had been assembled “from every nation” (vs 8). This does not mean that they were gentiles. No, they were faithful Jews whose ancestors had been deliberately scattered across the Earth in previous generations by Yahweh, for the exact purpose of spreading the fame of Jesus’ coming and re-coming to the Earth.  At some point in time (you’ll have to figure out when), they were to be sealed, apparently at such a time as they had totaled to some “full number”.
For whatever reason (you figure it out), God wanted John to see a vision of this group first. Then, after John saw that vision, he saw another—a greater multitude that had come out of the tribulation.  This passage, therefore, has two visions, and not just one.  That’s the common and simple error under which so many erroneously operate.
 
Thus does John in his visions of those eternally approved by Christ see the Jew first, and then the gentile.   Now, regarding the location of each group, the location of the Jews is not given, but the gentiles are specifically said to be standing before God’s throne in heaven.  Further, the first group is numbered (whether you think the numbers are figurative or literal), but the second group was said to be innumerable.
 
The 144,000 are shown again later, this time with Christ at his arrival on Mt. Zion. There they are identified as those “redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb. This is very important.  Here’s the text.
 
Revelation 14:Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.
Though it would have been nice to have this “firstfruits” information in Revelation 7, we do get it here.   And this does not present a huge problem for us if we are indeed the diligent sort who will go search out the entirety of a topic in the scriptures before drawing adamant conclusions about it.  And on that note, it’s important to note, however, that in no place are we told that those coming out of the great tribulation—John’s second envisioned group—were “firstfruits”.  No, only the 144,000 were firstfruits.  This means they had to come first.  Indeed, if they were going to return with Christ in 70AD, they had to be resurrected from Sheol/Hades before the great tribulation, which began in 66AD.  So, when was that resurrection?  Is there any mass resurrection on record before 70AD?  I’ll get to that shortly, after I set up another fact for your consideration.
The identity of this group causes a real problem for many Preterists as they see no opportunity for so many to have been taken out of the world in order to come back to the Earth with Christ at his return.  And to be specific, John tells us two specific things about this group’s redemption.  He says that they were  both “redeemed from the Earth” (14:3) and “redeemed from mankind” (14:4).  As to the latter, to be redeemed “from mankind,” if taken at face value, is to be taken away from the the place where mankind generally resides.  In my view, this is more likely a reference to being removed from the planet, than to being removed to some remote location on the planet.   And as to the former, being redeemed “from the Earth,” this might seem to back up the idea of them having been removed from the Planet, but I suspect it may be a reference to them having been redeemed from inside the Earth–from the underworld. (I’ll post another article to support the opinions expressed in this paragraph, as time allows.)  I think that these people were redeemed “from the Earth” (that is, from the underworld) here:
Matthew 27:50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
This would have been the event at which they were “redeemed from the Earth”.  And although it is not mentioned in Acts 1, I believe that they ascended to Heaven with Jesus at that time, which was the event of their being “redeemed from mankind”.  These two events, roughly forty days apart, may be generally understood as the “First Resurrection” of Revelation 20:4-6.  Here is the commonly mistranslated passage with the keyword highlighted in red.
Revelation 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.  (ESV)
 
Many people misunderstand both the nature of this First Resurrection and the identity of those so raised because nearly half the translations of that latter passage make it appear as if only martyrs are in view, and not the “whole house of Israel”. This, too, is a simple problem (getting the translation of Revelation 20:4 right), yet so few seem to go to the trouble to look it up and nail it down. Indeed, I’ve even seen people who have looked it up and seen that not only the martyrs were in view, and still go off and say that only the martyrs were in view. For some reason, it is very hard to keep some folks on the straight and narrow, even after demonstrating the facts to them.  (For more on the proper translation and interpretation of this passage, read this post.)
Regardless, that important “and” is missing from about half the translations, giving the wrong impression that only the martyrs were in view.  See it for yourself here.
These 144,000 were the faithful from Abraham’s seed.  They were not only to reign with Christ during the time of Satan’s imprisonment, but they were to return with him at his second coming, which was to happen at the end of the great tribulation.
 
Enoch, expressing the fullness of their number by different math from John’s, has them coming back with Christ, too:
 
1 Enoch 1:9. And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of ⌈His⌉ holy ones To execute judgment upon all, And to destroy ⌈all⌉ the ungodly:And to convict all flesh Of all the works ⌈of their ungodliness⌉ which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners ⌈have spoken⌉ against Him.
And we need not worry at this juncture over whether 1 Enoch is inspired, for Jude attests to the authority of this very passage by quoting it verbatim. (Jude 14-15)
 
Now, let us be careful to notice that at this coming in judgment, some they would “destroy” and others they would only “convict”.  This is a very important distinction, because a great many believers have a model of the second coming that has the Christians being taken off to heaven and the rest of mankind totally destroyed.  They don’t have a model in which “all flesh” would become merely convicted, yet that is exactly what is prophesied here.  And this model, I note, does not seem to rule out a Second Coming (70AD) in which the greater population of the Earth is allowed to survive here.
Secondly, we need to be careful in identifying the “ungodly” in Enoch’s language, for if we are hasty, we will take it as a reference to any human who is not righteous.  If this were the case, however, who would be left (undestroyed) to be “convicted”?  Indeed, the righteous would not be freshly convicted by this coming in judgment, for they had previously been under conviction in order to be converted to Christ in the first place.  No, the “ungodly” here is not a reference to humans, as we might assume, but a reference to the angel-types who had sinned. His “all flesh” refers to humankind, which is obviously a different group from the angels.
 
And that brings us to my model for the return and judgment at 70AD.   It was primarily a judgment against the fallen angels, as per the sentence pronounced in Psalm 82.  It was also a judgment against those in Israel who had been unfaithful as God’s chosen people, and had gone over to Satan.  The faithful among the Jews (who had previously died), were going to be raised in 30AD (with Jesus) and would come back with Jesus for that Judgment. 
 
In the vision of this return and battle in Revelation 19, these 144,000 appear (probably with other angels) as “the armies of heaven”.  Please read this passage carefully:
 
Revelation 19:14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.
These “nations” striken down are not to be understood as the peoples themselves (for Jesus did not strike down any culture on Earth in 70AD other than that of Israel) Rather, each country was known by the gods (the lesser elohim) that that had been appointed by Yaweh to rule over it. These were the ones who were to be struck down. And that’s what Jesus did at his return; he changed the world order by removing those unjust “shepherds”, so as to become the only and eternal shepherd—to which all the people of the Earth could gather if they please.
Posted in Anatomy of 2nd Coming, Anatomy of Redemption, Anatomy of the First Resurrection, Anatomy of the Second Resurrection, Anatomy of the Tribulation | Leave a comment

A Little Humility Is In Order

The Bible has about 35,000 verses. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that each verse had one and only one bit if information in it, that gives us a metaphorical jigsaw puzzle with about 35,000 pieces in it. But it doesn’t stop there, for it’s impossible to rightly interpret many of those pieces without also understanding the Ancient Near Eastern culture and its writings. So out come 1 Enoch and Jubilees, and a host of other works that, whether you consider them “scripture” or not, were known by, quoted by, and believed by many of the Bible writers. So let’s just estimate that we’ve now brought our Bible puzzle up to 50,000 pieces.

50,000 pieces to be understood and linked together just as God sees them, and not as some modern dabbler might like to force them together.

This is no simple task. In fact, here’s what most Christians do when they are reading and happen upon a verse they do not understand: they ignore it. But this task does not call for ignoring, but for researching each and every piece of the puzzle. And that research will necessarily entail the proving from time to time that we have had things wrong before—that we have jammed together two pieces that don’t belong together, or that we have left a gap where none is called for.

This is no casual task, and no full-time preacher is ever going to solve it. in fact, who can find one who WANTS to solve it? Are not most trained to leave the hard parts alone? And don’t their parishioners want it that way?

So in a discussion forum about how the pieces are properly put together, it SHOULD be unheard of that a participant should be found who is disinterested in hearing challenges to how he has put the pieces together, and who is disinterested in hearing someone else demonstrate a different way that fits better—whether about one piece or 100 or 1,000 pieces. The person who thinks he has it all more or less in place is just plain stupid. We all have gaps in our theories. We all have some pieces jammed into the wrong spots. We all have biases that TEMPT us not to listen to a better model. We all have the temptation of pride.

Sadly, almost nobody understands the true scope of the puzzle, and almost nobody is going after understanding it all. Rather, people seem to pick but a few pieces of the puzzle, and interest themselves primarily with those pieces—arguing with others over them, while having no clue how ignorant they are of the whole picture. People leave churches over such things, and then build new church only paces away, which differs boldly over a handful of puzzle pieces, while leaving the thousands upon thousands of remaining pieces unexamined.

Some will stupidly defend, claiming that that Bible is not meant to be understood, that certain statements in it ought not be taken as actual communications of fact, or that the best way to understand it is to decide NOT to understand it. All of that, however, is irrational, and charges God and his prophets with being the authors of confused senselessness. (And how ironic it is that even Jesus and his apostles are thrown under the bus for their talk of an immiment second coming. Even the respected CS Lewis resorted to this, calling them ignorant and deluded.)

So those who don’t understand—-rather than seeking to learn for themselves—tend to put the blame on God and the authors instead of themselves. How arrogant and misguided that is!

Meanwhile, there are myriad models—none completely right—regarding how the puzzle fits together. And among those working the puzzle, very few seem to understand the need to DEMONSTRATE how the pieces fit. Far too many think that their own say-so constitutes evidence—that their own belief is evidence unto itself—-as if they, unlike everyone else—-could not possibly have a wrong belief.

I realized a few years back that “I am most likely wrong about many things”. And this epiphany has done more to help my Bible study efforts than any other. This has led me to a practice of studying far more possibilities before deciding where a piece of the puzzle belongs—-and it has also led to the discovery of MANY points at which my previous understanding was in error—as well as the correction of those errors.

Yes, I duke it out with others, but it’s about discarding vain belief in search of weighty evidence to take its place. It’s about giving up bias and taking a reality-based approach instead. It’s about demonstrating facts, and not merely assuming them. And this way of thinking always leaves the door open to the possibility that it has got some pieces in the wrong places. So when challenged, it says, “OK, show me.” And those challengers who cannot demonstrate—who cannot show—or worse, who do not even WANT to show—-they are not taken seriously, because they derive their beliefs by another process that is not empirically or logically sound.

Meanwhile, that camp that insists that they understand it all by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that anybody who disagrees with them must be unregenerate—-well, just give them all a Bible quiz and then ask them to explain how the Holy Spirit has misled them so as to disagree with ONE ANOTHER on where this or that piece of the puzzle should go. I’ve never heard a responsible explanation of this.

It’s a giant truth table, folks. Mr. Red Letter Reader will never have a clue that so much of Jesus’ language is a continuation of the same themes from the OT and from the ANE literature—yet he will be so proud of himself and his devotion to the red letters. He will grossly overestimate his own understanding, because that’s what cognitive/moral misers do. They do not tend to make time for entertaining the proposition that they might just be wrong about some things.

So as we ponder what really happened in the Bible and what time it is now, we would do well to guard ourselves against the foolishness of assuming that we have it all more or less figured out. If an attitude of wisdom about such were to prevail, even a handful of funded researchers could get a very long way in the next decade or two. But that’s not how people tend to think. They would rather vie for popularity than to go about the mundane and tedious business of demonstrating how their positions are correct. So they tell and tell, but rarely show and show. And telling—-especially to an audience of co-tellers—-almost never works out well.

I have seen famous people stumble and run away when called upon to demonstrate how their assertions are accurate. This paradigm of demonstration is simply NOT widespread—-in the community of Preterists, or anywhere else. If a person were to hold his own tongue, and refuse to assert anything that he cannot demonstrate to be true, what a colossal difference that would make. Yet far too many get their kicks out of floating their pet theories without responsibly vetting them first. This is not proper for a people professing respect for God and Jesus.

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The Nature of the Bible Texts: Something Worth Pondering

Preterists have figured out that the second coming of Jesus happened circa 70AD, even though there is ZERO historical narrative about that event in the Bible. They figured it out largely based on the prophecies that it was GOING to happen, rather than on the testimony of historical witnesses that say they SAW it happen. Yes, they have a scant witness in Josephus, later quoted by a few others who found it reliable, but make no mistake: the bulk of the Preterist proofs rest on the reliability of what Jesus, his apostles, and so many others before them prophesied.

So why is that? Why would God deliver us a Bible with no eyewitness testimony as to the events of 70? Indeed, is this not a stumbling block for millions of Futurists who expect that if it had been so, they would have been told?

But instead, it’s as if God delivered the Bible through the generations from then to now saying, “Here’s some evidence; YOU figure it out.”

So here’s what I’m submitting for your pondering: What if the Bible is like that in a LOT of ways, and not just about 70AD? What if there’s a LOT that can be figured out by careful and wide-scoped examination, but is not otherwise obvious to the casual reader?

And then the irony: What if a lot of PRETERISTS, having figured out 70AD pretty well, are making the SAME mistake as the Futurists on other issues? What if they are settling for a “we don’t know” when they actually COULD deduce and infer their way legitimately into other various conclusions?

Let me remind you that there are many mysteries yet to me mined from the scriptures. Though a few may have figured some of this out, a great many consider things like the following to be not yet understood:

–When and why was Satan created?
–How did he come to be “the ruler of this world”?
–When was Sheol/Hades created and why?
–What all happened in Sheol/Hades and who was in charge of it?
–When was the “First Resurrection” of Revelation 20?
–Why doesn’t Genesis 1 follow the natural order of the cosmos better? (Plants before the sun?)
–What all did the Bene` Elohim/Sons of God/lesser elohim” do?
–How did they rule over the nations, and why did lifeless, carved idols come about?
–Why is the church today so very much different from the church of the First Century? What does God think about that?
–Where did the evil spirits come from?
–Are extrabiblical works, such as 1 Enoch, Jubilees, etc. considered scripture by God?
–Why would the ancient writers use language like “four corners of the earth” or “circle of the earth”? Did they not know any better, or were they talking about something else?
–Why are words like sun, moon, and stars anthropomorphized in the Bible? Is it “just” poetic language, or are we being told something else?
–Why did Paul say that the whole world had been evangelized, when we know that he only got as far as Spain? And we know that the Americas and the Far East were populated at that time?
–What was happening with all the angel-type beings that is not happening now? What would it have been like to live at such a time?
–Why would the First Century believers need all the super-human gifts and spiritual activity that we read about, and us not need them at all in our time?

What if some of this—and many other important questions—CAN be figured out from the documents we have?

I get the feeling that lots of Preterists are more or less “done” putting the puzzle together, but the way I see it, 70AD is the ****EASY**** part. The work is just beginning; it is not over or nearly over.

So what if God does have a “You figure it out” attitude about what he delivered (book-wise) to our generation? And what if we’re not all that busy figuring it out?

I don’t intend to be fearmongering with all this, like you’re going to hell if you’re not trying to figure out the timing of the First Resurrection. Nope. Just trying to prod some good thinking about all this. I hope I have 20 or 30 years left to live, and I hope to figure out a LOT more by the time I’m gone. And I hope to meet many others with the same desire.

Posted in Reflections, Theory Implications | 1 Comment

Understanding “The Testimony of Jesus” of Revelation 20:4

One of the most important verses regarding the events of the “end times” is this one below.  Much hinges on how it is interpreted.  In this present post, I intend to correct a very common misinterpretation of it.  Note the phrase in red.

Revelation 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Just who might these people have been, who were beheaded “for the testimony of Jesus”?  The most popular and easy-to-understand answer would point to those who, after the Acts 2 Pentecost, were beheaded for preaching Jesus.  Interestingly, the first of the New Testament martyrs is Stephen (Acts 7), but he could not be counted strictly under this verse, for he was stoned, and not beheaded.  Continuing through Acts, therefore, we come to James in Acts 12.  Even here, however, we are left with some uncertainty, for all we are told of James’ death is that he was killed “with the sword”.  It is not certain that it was specifically by beheading.  Moving forward, we find no more mentions of martyrs in Acts.  Nor do the epistles have any mention of beheading.  So while the idea could be a right one—that we’ll find the aforementioned beheaded martyrs in the years from Acts 2 forward, we have not one example of such in the texts.

Now, at this point, we could begin to question this word “beheaded”, to see whether it is reasonable and honest to take the word as a reference to anyone who was killed by hacking, stabbing, cutting, etc.  In this case, James could be included, but still not Stephen.

Of course, the reason we’d go looking in the New Testament for these martyrs is that we have a general perception that people started testifying about Jesus when he started calling disciples and apostles—and not before.  This idea, however, is bad one.  Consider these passages:

John 12:37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
    and understand with their heart, and turn,
    and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

Here the apostle John tells us that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Jesus.  And in the following passage, Matthew has more than one prophet in mind, having spoken of Jesus ahead of time:

Matthew 2:23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

And again:

Matthew 26:56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

And here it is in Jesus’ own words:

Luke 18:31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.

Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

And here is explains a great deal of material about himself, not only from the Law of Moses, but also from the writings of the prophets:

Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

In fact, theses were apparently not mere casual mentions of the coming Messiah in the writings of the prophets, for Jesus seems to have held these writings as something of a plan for his time on Earth:

Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.

With this, he has opened up to us pretty much the entire list of writers from the entire Old Testament.  How many of these were martyred for their roles in testifying about him ahead of time?  And how many came to believe in Jesus as a result of this pre-testimony?  Look what Philip said:

John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

So there’s enough evidence to rattle the idea that the only important “testimony of Jesus” occurred AFTER his bodily appearance on the Earth.  But there’s more—and it should be compelling to you.  Jesus seems to have had a strong focus—for some reason—on the murders of those who had prophesied before.  Consider these passages:

Matthew 23:29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

Matthew 23:31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

Luke 11:47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute, 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.  [Note that all this killing is here being associated with the very generation in which the words were being spoken–and upon which the imminent judgment was coming.]

Why were all these martyrs so important to Jesus?  Why such a focus on them?  And why associate them in some way with that very generation, when most of those martyrdoms were brought about by previous generations?

Well, that brings us back to Revelation 20, doesn’t it?  Judgment for those murders was imminent—and those who had been so murdered were about to be raised from the dead in the First Resurrection, along with all the other saints from Adam to Christ.

The fact of the matter is that the “testimony of Christ” had been going on for a very long time.  It was not something that began in 30AD or so.

 

Posted in Anatomy of the First Resurrection, Anatomy of the Judgment | 2 Comments

Sheol/Hades in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

Below are mentions of Sheol from several apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works.  This is a simple list, perhaps with notes here and there.  Generally, I make no claim as to the veracity of what is written here.  Read and believe at your own risk.

1 Enoch 51:1 And in those days shall the earth also give back that which has been entrusted to it, And Sheol also shall give back that which it has received,
And hell shall give back that which it owes.

1 Enoch 56:8 In those days Sheol shall open its jaws,
And they shall be swallowed up therein
And their destruction shall be at an end;
Sheol shall devour the sinners in the presence of the elect.’

1 Enoch 64:10. Now they shall say unto themselves: ‘Our souls are full of unrighteous gain, but it does not prevent us from descending from the midst thereof into the †burden† of Sheol.’

1 Enoch 99:11. Woe to you who spread evil to your neighbors;
For you shall be slain in Sheol.
12. Woe to you who make deceitful and false measures,
And (to them) who cause bitterness on the earth;
For they shall thereby be utterly consumed.

1 Enoch 102:5. And grieve not if your soul into Sheol has descended in grief,
And that in your life your body fared not according to your goodness,
But wait for the day of the judgment of sinners
And for the day of cursing and chastisement….9. I tell you, ye sinners, ye are content to eat and drink, and rob and sin, and strip men naked, and acquire wealth and see good days. 10. Have ye seen the righteous how their end falls out, that no manner of violence is found in them till their death? 11. “Nevertheless they perished and became as though they had not been, and their spirits descended into Sheol in tribulation.”

1 Enoch 103:5. Woe to you, ye sinners, when ye have died,
If ye die in the wealth of your sins,
And those who are like you say regarding you:
‘Blessed are the sinners: they have seen all their days.
6. And how they have died in prosperity and in wealth,
And have not seen tribulation or murder in their life;
And they have died in honor,
And judgment has not been executed on them during their life.”
7. Know ye, that their souls will be made to descend into Sheol
And they shall be wretched in their great tribulation.
8. And into darkness and chains and a burning flame where there is grievous judgment shall your spirits enter;
And the great judgment shall be for all the generations of the world.
Woe to you, for ye shall have no peace.

2 Baruch 11:6 Would that you had ears, O earth,
And that you had a heart, O dust:
That you might go and announce in Sheol,
And say to the dead:
7 “Blessed are you more than we who live.”‘

2 Baruch 21:19 How long will that which is corruptible remain, and how long will the time of mortals be prospered, and until what time will those who transgress in the world be polluted with much wickedness? 20 Command therefore in mercy and accomplish all that you saidst you wouldst bring, that Your might may be made known to those who think that Your long-suffering is weakness. 21 And show to those who know not, that everything that has befallen us and our city until now has been according to the long-suffering of Your power, because on account of Your name you have called us a beloved people. 22 Bring to an end therefore henceforth mortality. 23 And reprove accordingly the angel of death, and let Your glory appear, and let the might of Your beauty be known, and let Sheol be sealed so that from this time forward it may not receive the dead, and let the treasuries of souls restore those which are enclosed in them. 24 For there have been many years like those that are desolate from the days of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and of all those who are like them, who sleep in the earth, on whose account you did say that you had created the world. 25 And now quickly show Your glory, and do not defer what has been promised by you.’ 26 And (when) I had completed the words of this prayer I was greatly weakened.

2 Baruch 23:3 For as you have not forgotten the people who now are and those who have passed away, so I remember those who are appointed to come. 4 Because when Adam sinned and death was decreed against those who should be born, then the multitude of those who should be born was numbered, and for that number a place was prepared where the living might dwell and the dead might be guarded. Before therefore the number aforesaid is fulfilled, the creature will not live again [for My spirit is the creator of life], and Sheol will receive the dead. 6 And again it is given to you to hear what things are to come after these times. 7 For truly My redemption has drawn nigh, and is not far distant as aforetime.

2 Baruch 48:14 Be not therefore wroth with man; for he is nothing
15 And take not account of our works; For what are we?
For lo! by Your gift do we come into the world,
And we depart not of our own will.
16 For we said not to our parents, “Beget us,
Nor did we send to Sheol and say, “Receive us.”

2 Baruch 52:2 And why therefore do we again mourn for those who die?
Or why do we weep for those who depart to Sheol?

2 Baruch 56:5 And as you did previously see on the summit of the cloud black waters which descended previously on the earth, this is the transgression wherewith Adam the first man transgressed. 6 For [since] when he transgressed, untimely death came into being, grief was named and anguish was prepared, and pain was created, and trouble consummated, and disease began to be established, and Sheol kept demanding that it should be renewed in blood, and the begetting of children was brought about, and the passion of parents produced, and the greatness of humanity was humiliated, and goodness languished.

2 Baruch 83:17 And every possession of riches of this time is being turned into Sheol alone,

3 Baruch 4:1 And I Baruch said, Behold, Lord, Thou didst show me great and wonderful things; and now 2 show me all things for the sake of the Lord. And the angel said to me, Come, let us proceed. (And I proceeded) with the angel from that place about one hundred and eighty-five days’ 3 journey. And he showed me a plain and a serpent, which appeared to be two hundred plethra in length. 4 And he showed me Hades, and its appearance was dark and abominable. And I said, 5 Who is this dragon, and who is this monster around him? And the angel said, The dragon is he 6 who eats the bodies of those who spend their life wickedly, and he is nourished by them. And this is Hades, which itself also closely resembles him, in that it also drinks about a cubit from 7 the sea, which does not sink at all. Baruch said, And how (does this happen)? And the angel said, Hearken, the Lord God made three hundred and sixty rivers, of which the chief of 8 all are Alphias, Abyrus, and the Gericus; and because of these the sea does not sink.

3 Baruch 5:1And I Baruch said to the angel, 2 Let me ask thee one thing, Lord. Since thou didst say to me 3 that the dragon drinks one cubit out of the sea, say to me also, how great is his belly? And the angel said, His belly is Hades; and as far as a plummet is thrown (by) three hundred men, so great is his belly. Come, then, that I may show thee also greater works than these.

2 Esdras 4 And he said to me, “If I had asked you, “How many dwellings are in the heart of the sea, or how many streams are at the source of the deep, or how many streams are above the firmament, or which are the exits of Hades, or which are the entrances {Syr Compare Ethiop Arab 2 Arm: Lat lacks [of Hades, or which are the entrances]} of paradise?’
8. perhaps you would have said to me, “I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into Hades, neither did I ever ascend into heaven.’
9. But now I have asked you only about fire and wind and the day–things that you have experienced and from which you cannot be separated, and you have given me no answer about them.”
10. He said to me, “You cannot understand the things with which you have grown up;

2 Esdras 4:33. Then I answered and said, “How long? {Syr Ethiop: Meaning of Lat uncertain} When will these things be? Why are our years few and evil?”
34. He answered me and said, “Do not be in a greater hurry than the Most High. You, indeed, are in a hurry for yourself, {Syr Ethiop Arab Arm: Meaning of Lat uncertain} but the Highest is in a hurry on behalf of many.
35. Did not the souls of the righteous in their chambers ask about these matters, saying, “How long are we to remain here? {Syr Ethiop Arab 2 Georg: Lat [How long do I hope thus?]} And when will the harvest of our reward come?’
36. And the archangel Jeremiel answered and said, “When the number of those like yourselves is completed; {Syr Ethiop Arab 2: Lat [number of seeds is completed for you]} for he has weighed the age in the balance,
37. and measured the times by measure, and numbered the times by number; and he will not move or arouse them until that measure is fulfilled.’ ”
38. Then I answered and said, “But, O sovereign Lord, all of us also are full of ungodliness.
39. It is perhaps on account of us that the time of threshing is delayed for the righteous–on account of the sins of those who inhabit the earth.”
40. He answered me and said, “Go and ask a pregnant woman whether, when her nine months have been completed, her womb can keep the fetus within her any longer.”
41. And I said, “No, lord, it cannot.”
He said to me, “In Hades the chambers of the souls are like the womb.
42. For just as a woman who is in labor makes haste to escape the pangs of birth, so also do these places hasten to give back those things that were committed to them from the beginning.
43. Then the things that you desire to see will be disclosed to you.”

2 Esdras 8:51. But think of your own case, and inquire concerning the glory of those who are like yourself,
52. because it is for you that paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, rest is appointed, {Syr Ethiop: Lat [allowed]} goodness is established and wisdom perfected beforehand.
53. The root of evil {Lat lacks [of evil]} is sealed up from you, illness is banished from you, and death {Syr Ethiop Arm: Lat lacks [death]} is hidden; Hades has fled and corruption has been forgotten; {Syr: Lat [Hades and corruption have fled into oblivion]; or [corruption has fled into Hades to be forgotten]}
54. sorrows have passed away, and in the end the treasure of immortality is made manifest.
55. Therefore do not ask any more questions about the great number of those who perish.

2 Maccabees 6: 23. But making a high resolve, worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and the gray hairs that he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he declared himself quickly, telling them to send him to Hades.

3 Maccabees 4: 8. Their husbands, in the prime of youth, their necks encircled with ropes instead of garlands, spent the remaining days of their marriage festival in lamentations instead of good cheer and youthful revelry, seeing death immediately before them. {Gk [seeing Hades already lying at their feet]}

Baruch 2:[16] O Lord, look down from thy holy habitation, and consider us. Incline thy ear, O Lord, and hear;
[17] open thy eyes, O Lord, and see; for the dead who are in Hades, whose spirit has been taken from their bodies, will not ascribe glory or justice to the Lord,
[18] but the person that is greatly distressed, that goes about bent over and feeble, and the eyes that are failing, and the person that hungers, will ascribe to thee glory and righteousness, O Lord.

Baruch 3:[10] Why is it, O Israel, why is it that you are
in the land of your enemies,
that you are growing old in a foreign country,
that you are defiled with the dead,
[11] that you are counted among those in Hades?
[12] You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom.
[13] If you had walked in the way of God,
you would be dwelling in peace for ever.

Ecclesiasticus 14:12 Remember that death does not tarry,
and the decree {Heb Syr: Gk [covenant]} of Hades has not been shown to you.
…16. Give, and take, and indulge yourself,
because in Hades one cannot look for luxury.
17. All living beings become old like a garment,
for the decree {Heb: Gk [covenant]} from of old is, “You must die!”
18. Like abundant leaves on a spreading tree
that sheds some and puts forth others,
so are the generations of flesh and blood:
one dies and another is born.
19. Every work decays and ceases to exist,
and the one who made it will pass away with it.

 

 

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Adam’s “Untimely Death”

Here’s an interesting passage in one of the apocryphal books, 2 Baruch, stating that Adam’s sin brought “untimely death” upon all.

2 Baruch 54:15 For though Adam first sinned and brought untimely death upon all, yet of those who were born from him each one of them has prepared for his own soul torment to come, and again each one of them has chosen for himself glories to come. 16 [For assuredly he who believeth will receive reward. 17 But now, as for you, you wicked that now are, turn you to destruction, because you shall speedily be visited, in that formerly you rejected the understanding of the Most High. 18 For His works have not taught you, nor has the skill of His creation which is at all times persuaded you.] 19 Adam is therefore not the cause, save only of his own soul, but each of us has been the Adam of his own soul.

In what way was it “untimely” for Adam to die?  Had it previously been planned that he would live longer—and that all his descendants would live longer?  Let’s turn to Genesis to find out:

Genesis 3:22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

The Hebrew word here for “forever” is עוֹלָם (`owlam).  Its meaning is not as clear as we might like, but we can gain some intriguing insight when we take a look at how the Septuagint translated it into Greek.  There it reads εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, which literally means “to the age”.  (Read more about that here.)   I’m currently pondering the possibility that the “forever” here in Genesis 3:22 indicates that the Tree of Life would have enabled Adam (and who knows how many others) to live to the end of the age into which he was Created—that is, until 70AD.  If this turns out to be true, it should significantly inform our understanding of Sheol/Hades and its purpose.

Anyway, while I’m still trying to sort it all out, consider this:  What would be the effect upon the world if the wicked were allowed to live for 4,000 years or so?  We know little about Adam’s later life, and whether he chose to continue defying God, or whether he changed his mind and became consistently obedient.  Either way, he lived 930 years, nearly a quarter of the years of that age (provided that we start counting that age at the creation).  Imagine some evil counterpart, determined to practice evil in multiple ways, living for 4,000 years.  How many such people could exist without utterly ruining anybody’s chances of living a decent life on the Earth?

It appears from the accounts of Noah’s flood that at that time, wickedness abounded, and the state of the Earth was so bad that God decided to hit the reset button, as it were.  Saving out only Noah and his family, he wiped out the rest of humanity, sending their spirits to Sheol to await the great day of judgment that was to come at the end of the age.  It was there in Sheol, “in the midst of the Earth” that God was working another great plan:

Genesis 48:16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

Abraham’s descendants, who were eventually supposed to be as numerous as as the stars in heaven (Genesis 15:5), were being collected in Sheol, and not on the surface of the Earth.  Perhaps there was an original plan to amass them all alive on the face of the Earth, but with this “untimely death”, they would have to be gathered into Sheol—or as it was often put, “Gathered to his people”:

Genesis 25:8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

Here is an account—whether it is true or not, I cannot say—of the archangel Michael explaining at the death of Adam forward that all the righteous would be raised from the dead on a great day in the future.

Apocalypse of Moses 13:1 And Seth went with Eve near paradise, and I they wept there, and prayed God to send his angel and give them the oil of mercy. And God 2 sent the archangel Michael and he spake to Seth: ‘Seth, man of God, weary not thyself with prayers and entreaties concerning the tree which floweth with oil to anoint thy father Adam. For it shall not be thine now, but in the end of the times. 3 Then shall all flesh be raised up from Adam till that great day,-all that shall be of the holy people. Then shall the delights of paradise be given to them and God shall be in their midst. And they shall no longer sin before his face, for the evil heart shall be taken from them and there shall be given them a heart understanding the good and to serve God only. But do thou go back to thy father. For the 6 term of his life hath been fulfilled and he will live three days from to-day and will die. But when his soul is departing, thou shalt behold the awful (scene of) his passing.’

Please pardon the abrupt end to this post, as it is a work in progress.  I’ll post more as I discover it, and as time allows.

 

 

 

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Sheol/Hades Overseen by Angelic Beings

This page is a listing of evidences for the model by which an underworld existed, inhabited by angel-type beings who oversaw its operation.  What you will find below is excerpts from scripture with a few notes.

Luke 16:22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
The dead could not have been carried by angels to the various sections of Hades/Sheol unless angels had access thereunto.

Hebrews 2:5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.
Under the age that was then about to change over, the Earth was subject to the rule of angels.  This included Hades/Sheol.  This was the order of things.

2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
As we shall see, angels were in charge of such incarcerations.  See also Jude 6 below:

Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

Revelation 9:1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit (Lit: pit of the abyss).
Here a fallen angel has the key to a section of the underworld.
He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.
I doubt that these were literal locusts.  They were likely evil spirits.
They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. 11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.
The pit had a “king”.  Abaddon/Apollyon was used both as the name of the person and the name of the region of the underworld he oversaw:

Job 26:6 Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering.
Here Sheol and Abaddon are associated.

Job 28:20 “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding?  21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air.  22 Abaddon and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’
Here Abbadon and Death (Maveth) speak.  So now we have Abaddon, Sheol, and Death linked together.

Job 31:12 for that would be a fire that consumes as far as Abaddonand it would burn to the root all my increase.

Psalm 88:10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in Sheol,
    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
Here Abaddon is associated with Sheol, the departed, and darkness. 

Proverbs 15:11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lordhow much more the hearts of the children of man!
Once again, Abaddon is associated with Sheol.

Proverbs 27:20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfiedand never satisfied are the eyes of man.
This could be figurative language, or it could be an indication of the character of these two beings.

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit (Lit: the abyss.  No word for “pit” here in the Greek) and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
Here an angel has the key to the pit of the abyss.

Revelation 1:18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Here Jesus has the keys to Death and Hades.  He had once promised to give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19).  Then Jesus was granted all authority in heaven and earth.  (Matthew 28:18ff)  At this point, all kingdoms were in subjection to him.  This is why he would have the keys to the underworld.

2 Esdras 7:85 The fifth reason—because they will see the dwelling places of others, guarded by angels in great silence.
This is a reference to that section of Sheol that was reserved for the righteous.  It was guarded over by holy angels, and remained in great peace, unlike the rest.

2 Esdras 7:86 The sixth reason—because they see the torment coming upon them from now on.
This torment was administered by angels, as we shall see.

2 Esdras 7:95 The fourth order—understanding the peaceful rest that they now enjoy, gathered in their resting chambers, guarded by angels in deep silence, and understanding the glory that awaits them in their last days.
Again, we see the righteous under guard in Sheol.

The following is an extended passage from Isaiah, foretelling the destruction of Satan’s fortress in the underworld:

Isaiah 24:1 Behold, the LORD will empty the earth (erets) and make it desolate (empty),
and he will twist its surface (turn it inside out) and scatter its inhabitants.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
as with the slave, so with his master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower;
as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered;
for the LORD has spoken this word.

Matthew 12:29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

The following verses tell of how the Earth had been destroyed by those who were soon to be destroyed themselves

Revelation 11:18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
The reference to “the nations raged” will be important later.

4 The earth mourns and withers;
the world languishes and withers;
the highest people of the earth languish.
5 The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.
7 The wine mourns,
the vine languishes,
all the merry-hearted sigh.
8 The mirth of the tambourines is stilled,
the noise of the jubilant has ceased,
the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
9 No more do they drink wine with singing;
strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10 The wasted city is broken down;
every house is shut up so that none can enter.
This is Satan’s city in the underworld.  See verse 13
11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has grown dark;
the gladness of the earth is banished.
12 Desolation is left in the city;
the gates are battered into ruins.
Christ would free the captives–the prisoners.  See Matthew 27:52-53
13 For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth
This is something that was to happen inside the earth, and not on its surface.  Examine these passages, which are all references to the underworld.  
among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done.
14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.[b]
15 Therefore in the east[c] give glory to the LORD;
in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, “I waste away,
I waste away. Woe is me!
This is Israel speaking from Sheol, in a common theme of being cut off in Sheol.  For example:

Psalm 79:Do not remember against us our former iniquities;[a]
    let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
    for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
    for your name’s sake!
10 Why should the nations (That is, the dead of the nations who are around us in Sheol) say,
    “Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
    be known among the nations before our eyes!
11 Let the groans of the prisoners (there is much talk in scripture about the prisoners in Sheol needing to be set free) come before you;
    according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
    the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will give thanks to you forever;
    from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

For the traitors have betrayed,
with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”
Those in charge of Sheol had somehow betrayed the faithful dead.
17 Terror and the pit and the snare
are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!
This is a reference to the binding of Satan and the other Sons of God (bene` `elohim) who were with him.
18 He who flees at the sound of the terror
shall fall into the pit,
and he who climbs out of the pit
shall be caught in the snare.
For the windows of heaven are opened,
and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken,
the earth is split apart,
the earth is violently shaken.
See Matthew 27:50ff
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man;
it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it,
and it falls, and will not rise again.
21 On that day the LORD will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
22 They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
We see from Isaiah that this incarceration was not only for Satan himself, but for the rest of the “kings of the earth” who had rebelled with him.

23 Then the moon will be confounded
and the sun ashamed,

Acts 2:20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

for the LORD of hosts reigns
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.
God Will Swallow Up Death Forever

Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

25 O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
Satan’s domain in the underworld was destroyed.  Note that it was a “city”, and not just a single house.  It also had a “palace”, signifying that Satan ruled over many.

———————

 

 

 

 

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“Forever” or “To the age”? New Testament

Have you ever been puzzled by a passage that uses the word “forever”?  Well, what if “forever” is not the most accurate translation?  The following passages I have listed here as a reference because there is something quite significant about them.  The words translated for us as “forever” may actually some some significance that we would never see if we did not go looking into the Greek.  As you shall see, the phrase εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα literally means “to the age”.  This αἰῶνα is the word from which we get “age” (αἰών, or aiōn, which should remind you of our English word “eon”). This should bring to mind the various discussions about the change of the ages that was imminent in the New Testament writings, such as where Jesus says:

Matthew 12:32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

And where Paul says:

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

They were in a time of transition from one age to the next.  And that discussion centered around use of the word αἰώνSo our big question is this:  Is this just a meaningless coincidence that the term we read translated as “forever” and “never” stems from αἰών ?  Or should we consider the possibility that what was meant by εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (to the age) had in view the end of that age, as opposed to an unending eternity?  Our answer to this question is certainly not without its consequences, for changing “forever” to “to the end of this age” will force us to reconsider just what was meant by certain sayings.

This is the question I am now studying.  For now, I list the following passages for the record, without commentary.  The following represent every instance of εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα in the New Testament.  Before I get to that, however, let me give one interesting note.

The word “forever” often appears in our translations where εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (to the age) appears in the Greek.  Sometimes our translations say “forever and ever”, and that appears thus in the Greek:  εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, which is literally rendered, to the ages of the ages.  This saying, which is how it reads in 1 Peter 5:11, and others like it, probably do have eternity in view, which gives us all the more reason to wonder whether the simpler form, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (to the age), may be intended to speak only of the time remaining in any given age.

Matthew 21:19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. Lit: No longer to the age be any fruit from you.
Matthew 21:19 καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν μίαν ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ ἦλθεν ἐπ’ αὐτήν καὶ οὐδὲν εὗρεν ἐν αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ φύλλα μόνον καὶ λέγει αὐτῇ μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ ἐξηράνθη παραχρῆμα ἡ συκῆ

Mark 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” Lit: not to the age has forgiveness
Mark 3:29 ὃς δ’ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος

Mark 11:14And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. Lit: may no one to the age eat fruit from you again
Mark 11:14 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῇ μηκέτι εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἐκ σοῦ μηδεὶς καρπὸν φάγοι καὶ ἤκουον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

Luke 1:55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Lit: to Abraham and his descendants to the age.
Luke 1:55 καθὼς ἐλάλησεν πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν τῷ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Lit: shall not thirst to the age
John 4:14 ὃς δ’ ἂν πίῃ ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος οὗ ἐγὼ δώσω αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ διψήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἀλλὰ τὸ ὕδωρ ὃ δώσω αὐτῷ γενήσεται ἐν αὐτῷ πηγὴ ὕδατος ἁλλομένου εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον

John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Lit: he will live to the age
John 6:51 ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ζῶν ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς ἐάν τις φάγῃ ἐκ τούτου τοῦ ἄρτου ζήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ ὁ ἄρτος δὲ ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω ἡ σάρξ μού ἐστιν ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς

John 6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Lit: will live to the age
John 6:58 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς οὐ καθὼς ἔφαγον οἱ πατέρες καὶ ἀπέθανον ὁ τρώγων τοῦτον τὸν ἄρτον ζήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

John 8:35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. Lit: 1) does not remain…to the age. 2) remains to the age
John 8:35 ὁ δὲ δοῦλος οὐ μένει ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ὁ υἱὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

John 8:51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” Lit: will not to the age see death. NOTE:  Caution should be taken here not to over-read this.  That is, this should not be taken as a promise that those in view WOULD die at the end of the age, but rather that they were protected throughout the remainder of the age.
John 8:51 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ἐάν τις τὸν ἐμὸν λόγον τηρήσῃ θάνατον οὐ μὴ θεωρήσῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

John 8:52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Lit: he will not to the age taste of death.
John 8:52 εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι νῦν ἐγνώκαμεν ὅτι δαιμόνιον ἔχεις Ἀβραὰμ ἀπέθανεν καὶ οἱ προφῆται καὶ σὺ λέγεις ἐάν τις τὸν λόγον μου τηρήσῃ οὐ μὴ γεύσηται θανάτου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

John 10:28 I give them eternal (αἰώνιος) life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Lit: they will not to the age perish.  NOTE:  Caution should be taken here not to over-read this.  That is, this should not be taken as a promise that those in view WOULD perish at the end of the age, but rather that they were protected throughout the remainder of the age.
John 10:28 κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Lit: shall not to the age die. NOTE:  Caution should be taken here not to over-read this.  That is, this should not be taken as a promise that those in view WOULD die at the end of the age, but rather that they were protected throughout the remainder of the age.
John 11:26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα πιστεύεις τοῦτο

John 12:34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Lit: remains to the age.
John 12:34 ἀπεκρίθη οὖν αὐτῷ ὁ ὄχλος ἡμεῖς ἠκούσαμεν ἐκ τοῦ νόμου ὅτι ὁ Χριστὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ πῶς λέγεις σὺ ὅτι δεῖ ὑψωθῆναι τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τίς ἐστιν οὗτος ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου

John 13:8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Lit: not to the age shall you wash…
John 13:8 λέγει αὐτῷ Πέτρος οὐ μὴ νίψῃς μου τοὺς πόδας εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς αὐτῷ ἐὰν μὴ νίψω σε οὐκ ἔχεις μέρος μετ’ ἐμοῦ

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, Lit: be with you to the age
John 14:16 κἀγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἄλλον παράκλητον δώσει ὑμῖν ἵνα μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. Lit: not eat meat to the age
1 Corinthians 8:13 διόπερ εἰ βρῶμα σκανδαλίζει τὸν ἀδελφόν μου οὐ μὴ φάγω κρέα εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἵνα μὴ τὸν ἀδελφόν μου σκανδαλίσω

2 Corinthians 9:9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Lit: endures to the age.  NOTE:  This should not be taken as a statement that Jesus would only remain righteous until the end of the age.  Rather, the point is that that which Jesus had “distributed freely” upon the Earth was going to remain until the end of the age.
2 Corinthians 9:9 καθὼς γέγραπται ἐσκόρπισεν ἔδωκεν τοῖς πένησιν ἡ δικαιοσύνη αὐτοῦ μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. Lit: to the age of the age
Hebrews 1:8 πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεός εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου

Hebrews 5:6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” Lit: you are a priest to the age.
Hebrews 5:6 καθὼς καὶ ἐν ἑτέρῳ λέγει σὺ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ

Hebrews 6:20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Lit: a high priest to the age.
Hebrews 6:20 ὅπου πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν εἰσῆλθεν Ἰησοῦς κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

Hebrews 7:17 For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” Lit: a priest to the age.
Hebrews 7:17 μαρτυρεῖται γὰρ ὅτι σὺ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ

Hebrews 7:21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” Lit: a priest to the age.
Hebrews 7:21 ὁ δὲ μετὰ ὁρκωμοσίας διὰ τοῦ λέγοντος πρὸς αὐτόν ὤμοσεν κύριος καὶ οὐ μεταμεληθήσεται σὺ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

Hebrews 7:24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Lit: continues to the age
Hebrews 7:24 ὁ δὲ διὰ τὸ μένειν αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἀπαράβατον ἔχει τὴν ἱερωσύνην

Hebrews 7:28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. Lit: made perfect (complete) to the age.
Hebrews 7:28 ὁ νόμος γὰρ ἀνθρώπους καθίστησιν ἀρχιερεῖς ἔχοντας ἀσθένειαν ὁ λόγος δὲ τῆς ὁρκωμοσίας τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον υἱὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον

1 Peter 1:24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” Lit: remains to the age.
1 Peter 1:25 τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα κυρίου μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν τὸ ῥῆμα τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν εἰς ὑμᾶς

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Lit: lives to the age.
1 John 2:17 καὶ ὁ κόσμος παράγεται καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία αὐτοῦ ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

2 John 1:1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: Lit: with us to the age.
2 John 1:2 διὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν μένουσαν ἐν ἡμῖν καὶ μεθ’ ἡμῶν ἔσται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

 

If you have pondered this as you have read these passages, you can see that taking a literal translation would definitely have its consequences in how we interpret things.  For example, Jesus would not still be serving as high priest, but would have completed that role at the end of the age.  That one might not be so hard to swallow;  after all, we know that he “hands over the kingdom to the Father” at the end of the story.  (1 Corinthians 15:24)  Another consequence that’s perhaps more intriguing are these promises that those who would believe would live to the end of the age.  We can immediately find exceptions in the martyrs from 30 to 70, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that they are not what Jesus had in mind.  It causes me to wonder whether the gifts of healing were intended to keep lots of Christians alive during those 40 years, to see his return.  And it also brings to mind that many among the Corinthians were “weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” because of their sin.  These were those who did not meet the condition of continual belief, and who would, therefore, no longer be qualified to live to the end of the age.

My own personal jury is still out on this overall question of interpretation, but I must say that it’s intriguing enough to be worth listing the possibility for the record.

NOTE:  This same exact phrase  (εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα) occurs over 200 times in the Old Testament, where it is just as intriguing.  For example:

Genesis 3:22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” Lit: live to the age
Genesis 3:22 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός ἰδοὺ Αδαμ γέγονεν ὡς εἷς ἐξ ἡμῶν τοῦ γινώσκειν καλὸν καὶ πονηρόν καὶ νῦν μήποτε ἐκτείνῃ τὴν χεῖρα καὶ λάβῃ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ φάγῃ καὶ ζήσεται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

And:

Genesis 6:3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” Lit: live in man to the age
Genesis 6:3 καὶ εἶπεν κύριος ὁ θεός οὐ μὴ καταμείνῃ τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τούτοις εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτοὺς σάρκας ἔσονται δὲ αἱ ἡμέραι αὐτῶν ἑκατὸν εἴκοσι ἔτη 

I’m working on listing all these passages in the same fashion as the ones above.

 

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Pieces of the Sheol/Hades Puzzle

In my research about Sheol/Hades, a few bits of evidence have emerged that need to be accounted for and fitted into the overall puzzle.  This page is where I keep track of these pieces.  Please pardon the mess below; I post it not because it is polished, but because it may be useful to you.

Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
By what model can those in Sheol leave it and then return to it? Continue reading

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Sheol and Hades are NOT “The Grave”

One very common misunderstanding is the idea that “Sheol” simply means “the grave”.  It does not.  Both Sheol (Hebrew) and it’s New Testament counterpart, Hades (Greek) are references to the underworld and the beings who ran it.  That’s right, the Bible agrees somewhat with the mythologies that there was an underworld at one time.  Even Jesus spoke of it as if it were quite real.  Even so, many are made uncomfortable by it all, and seek to interpret the Bible in such way as to erase any details that they find unsavory.  One of the most common ways of doing this is simply to assume that every time Sheol is mentioned, it is interpreted as “the grave”. Continue reading

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Satan Was Bound In 30 AD

This unpolished article is a list of annotated excerpts that evince the binding of Satan in 30 AD.

Let us begin by establishing that as of the time of the Last Supper, Satan had become “the ruler of this world”.  So said Jesus at least three times that evening:

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. Continue reading

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Sun, Moon, and Stars as Angels

The following article is from my Bible Investigation website, and seems to belong on this site as well.  It’s a couple of years old, and is slightly edited in the version that appears below.

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This article will fall far short of definitively answering the question it poses.  And it will most certainly fall short of answering all the further questions that will naturally follow the evidences I will show herein.  Rather, the goal of this article is to raise these questions for the consideration of the reader.  As you will see, the questions are prompted by the very texts of the Bible.

Is Genesis 1 really about literal sun, moon, and stars? Continue reading

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