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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics Israel

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks

–a short study on Daniel 9:24-27 by Jim Gibson

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:24-27)

These four verses found in Daniel constitute one of the most controversial passages found in the Bible. From the early church fathers to the modern commentaries, this prophecy has been interpreted with a plethora of views. There are those who maintain that this prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes in approximately 168 B.C. However, many place its fulfillment during the time of the life of Christ. Still, others say that its ultimate fulfillment extends to the time of the antichrist toward the end of the church age. Let’s see if we can wade through the maze of difficulties that this passage presents and, hopefully, discover its true intent and meaning.

Before I begin to explain this passage of Daniel’s prophecy, I will share with the reader the more popular dispensational view.

Categories
Bible prophecy hermeneutics

Final judgment in the new heaven and new earth

A study on 2 Peter 3 verses 10 – 18

This is the final part of a 3 part study. Part I and Part II are found here. I ended the last study of this chapter (in part II) with verse 10.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

It is worth repeating here that I don’t believe that the phrase “the heavens shall pass away” describes the destruction of the starry heavens (all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos), but instead, at most, it describes a renovation of the earth and its atmospheric heavens, at the time Christ returns in judgment and to govern the earth. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? and Scientific evidences in the Bible: Information or misinformation?

I do believe that the Lord may return at any time. Yet I don’t hold to some futuristic interpretation of Bible prophecy with its secret rapture before a 7-year tribulation under the AntiChrist. Instead I believe it is possible that we are chronologically somewhere near the period of time in Revelation 20 called the battle of Gog and Magog.  The so-called ‘millennium’ (a word not found in the Bible but derived from the expression “a thousand years” in Revelation 20) I believe is symbolic for the period of the church age, also called the time of the Gentiles.

That period is about to end with the imminent return of Christ. This is what is meant by “the Lord will come as a thief in the night”. Those who are prepared however, like the 5 wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), will not be surprised. Those who profess salvation, i.e. attend church or claim to be Christian in spite of their disbelief in the scriptures, are like the 5 foolish virgins, of whom the Lord will say, at His return, that He did not know them. The reason for that is because they are professing but not confessing Christians. They are the unsaved ‘Christians’. I think we may be surprised that there are so many.

Then we have the expression “the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” This has been taken by many to mean that God destroys the Universe down to its very foundations, the atoms themselves. I take a different view, but a view held by the Reformers.

Categories
Creation/evolution God's sovereignty hermeneutics

Time in the mind of God

A study on 2 Peter 3 – Part II

Part I can be found here.

Possibly one of the most quoted and most widely interpreted verses in the Bible in relation to the chronology of the Bible from Creation to final Judgment is the 8th verse of chapter 3 of Peter’s second epistle (letter).

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (my emphasis added in bold)

Some have used this to re-scale the length of the Genesis 1 creation days from 24-hour days to 1000-year days. This feeble effort to try to get the creation chronology of the Bible to fit in with the alleged billions of years of the secular chronology is referred to as the day-age theory. But it makes very little sense as the second part of the verse reverses the order and thus using the same type of logic you would have to say that a 1000 years in the Bible really means a 24-hour day.

673px-aristotle_altemps_inv8575
Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition. Credit: Wikipedia (Public domain)

Another problem is an understanding of what time is. Since the Greek thinkers, like Aristotle, time has been given a linear deterministic feature where past, present and future are referred to in a real sequence. But that is not the way the Hebrew mind operated.

God’s consciousness is a world consciousness in which everything that takes place is treasured and held fast in the eternal and is therefore as indestructible as ‘matter’. Without a world consciousness, all the history of humanity and of the universe would end in nothing; for a people, however, for whom life and history is everything, the concept of a divine world consciousness is as necessary as the concept of eternal being was for the Greeks. For the Israelites, the world was transitory, but Jahveh [Jehovah] and his words (and deeds) were eternal (Isaiah 40.8).1

… the Semitic concept of time is closely coincident with that of its content without which time would be quite impossible. The quantity of duration completely recedes behind the characteristic feature that enters with time or advances in it.1 (Emphasis in the original)

… time is for us an abstraction since we distinguish time from the events that occur in time. The ancient Semites did not do this; for them time is determined by its content. Time is the notion of the occurrence; it is the stream of events.1

This verse, 2 Peter 3:8, was written in Greek but by the Apostle Peter, a Hebrew. Therefore we should expect he writes with a Hebrew way of thinking. Reading the verse in context with those that precede it, it simply means that God does not view time the way we do.  In the preceding verses, it is made clear that God is not in a hurry to bring about the promised judgment. Judgment may not happen immediately but it will come at the time appointed. So God was telling the believers back in Peter’s time (and us now by extension) not to be too anxious because the Christ will return at the appointed time.

Considering that God is outside of time He does not view time the way we do. More than that; it is a Greek way of thinking to see time as a linear sequence. This verse reflects a Hebrew way of thinking to see time as the contents of the events themselves. To the earth observers the events may take thousands of years to unfold, in a linear fashion, but to the mind of God, and a Hebrew way of thinking, the events have already happened. They form a whole set, because what God says will happen, in our realm, has already happened for Him.

Categories
Age of the Earth Creation/evolution hermeneutics

Was the earth created from ice?

A study on 2 Peter 3 – Part I

Secular science describes the formation of the planet Earth from a condensation of dust from a solar nebula some 4.6 billion years ago. That alleged orb resulted in a hot rock spinning in space that eventually cooled enough to form oceans about 3.8 billion years ago. The evolutionary origin theory also describe it cooling even further to the point of a “snowball” due to the early faint sun, which presents a paradox. The sun – in its alleged evolution – had much lower power output resulting in at least 20 to 30% less sunlight at the earth’s surface, making subzero surface temperatures, hence entirely ice-covered. In fact, they claim 3 separate periods total glaciation of the planet during its history.

snowball-earth-mit
Snowball Earth. Credit: MIT

What does the Bible tell us, in particular? Let’s look at 2 Peter 3.

Categories
Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Will Jesus return literally in the clouds?

There are several passages in the New Testament that on the surface would seem to indicate that when Christ returns He will do so appearing in the clouds above. You may have heard the expression or read the Bible verse about the believers being “caught up together … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  Or you may have read “Behold, He comes with clouds” (Revelation 1:7).

jesus-in-the-clouds

No doubt the Second Coming concomitant with the resurrection of the dead—both of the saved and the unsaved—is yet to happen. But do the Scriptures mean, literally, that Jesus will appear in the clouds all around the earth, simultaneously, so that all people can see Him? My personal eschatological belief is that that is not the case. I explain below.

In the Old Testament we read that the God of Israel said

2 Samuel 23:4 He that rules over men must be just ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; (KJVER used throughout)

The only just ruler is God Himself. His countenance is as bright as the sun in a cloudless sky. Also He controls the environment including the weather and the clouds.

Job 36:26-33 Behold, God is great, and we know Him not, neither can the number of His years be searched out. 27 For He makes small the drops of water [i.e. clouds]: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: 28 Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly. 29 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of His tabernacle? 30 Behold, He spreads His light upon it, and covers the bottom of the sea.  31 For by them judges He the people; He gives meat in abundance. 32 With clouds He covers the light; and commands it not to shine by the cloud that comes between. 33 The noise thereof shows concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.

Hebraisms in the Scriptures

In the Bible there are found many Hebraisms, which are Hebrew idioms or expressions. Even in the New Testament, which was originally written in the Greek language, we find many such expressions. For example,

Categories
Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Israel of God

In a prophecy given by the prophet Hosea the Lord said:

Hosea 11:1  When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt.

flight-into-egypt-01The Lord refers, in the first part, to the nation of Israel, while in its infancy, God called out of the land of Egypt. But the second part is a prophecy of Christ Jesus, the Son of God who, in a parallel way, God also called out of Egypt. This happened after Mary and Joseph had taken the infant Jesus down to Egypt to protect Him from King Herod, who sought to kill Him. Only after Herod died did Jesus return to Israel from Egypt.

Matthew 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My son.

The nation called Israel really started with the conversion of Jacob to becoming a man of God. After his conversion God called him Israel. From him, i.e. his children, came the 12 tribes of Israel.

Categories
Cosmology Creation/evolution hermeneutics Meaning of life

When will God reverse decay in the Universe?

In biblical creationist discussions and presentations we often talk about the restoration of the Universe back to its original perfect uncursed state that it had before the Creator destroyed the perfect paradise. That Curse was put on all creation and we see that the removal of the Curse is an integral part of understanding the message of the Bible, especially the gospel.

It was because of Adam’s original sin that the Universe was cursed and altered in a way that brought forth all types of imperfections in all living creatures, resulting in sickness, disease, mutations, death, violence and the many sins of mankind.

The usual image used to illustrate this is to show that sin caused the world to be corrupted but later God will remove the Curse and restore the perfect paradise of His original creation. See illustration below.

marred-by-sin
The world now is not that perfect world that God originally created. Death, pain, disease, suffering are intruders on God’s perfect creation. But the Scriptures give us hope, that through Christ, of the restoration of the world back to the same state in a new heaven and a new earth after Christ’s second advent. The world will be restored back to the same state that it once had before Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.

The usual scripture we cite is Romans 8:21,22:

Categories
Belief in God Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Only in Jesus is found the way, the truth and the life

In John chapter 14 Jesus tells His disciples not to be worried because He has a plan and that plan includes a place (actually a ‘residence’) in heaven prepared for them.

John 14:1-4 Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Firstly, Jesus identifies Himself as God  (verse 1). He speaks with full knowledge as only the omniscient God can. Here He speaks in absolute terms. He does not say “If you stay away from sin, or if you are good, then I will give you a mansion in heaven”. No, His language is definite. The disciples were chosen and from the moment they were saved they had this promise of eternal life in heaven. But they were not saved until later, which we read in John chapter 20. That was after Jesus’ resurrection.

John 20:21,22 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you. 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Holy Ghost:

It was then they were born again as real Christians. Jesus breathed His Spirit into them that they might be saved and have the Holy Spirit indwell them. This was a pivotal point in the lives of the disciples as it is in the lives of those saved by God now. All saved Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives the believer an understanding of spiritual things (John 14:26). But at this time, in John 14, they did not have that understanding. Jesus said,

John 14:4,5 And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we know not where You go; and how can we know the way?

Even though Jesus spoke of preparing a place for them in heaven, they did not understand.  Jesus even said that they knew where and the way they knew also. But they didn’t have the understanding of the Holy Spirit to recognise it at that time.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him [Thomas], I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me.

Categories
Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Holy Spirit: Indwelling or Filling?

All saved Christians receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes some get a big dose of it at salvation, sometimes some get it at another time, but all believers have the Spirit of God dwelling in them otherwise they are not of Christ. (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)

romans-8-9Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon their rebirth–their salvation.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel [good news] of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.

No believer can be without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh [i.e. not controlled by the flesh], but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

The Apostle Paul hits it from two sides. If you are saved the Spirit of God dwells in you and if you don’t have the Spirit of God in you then you are not saved. God wanted the message to be very clear.

Some ask for the Holy Spirit, others just get zapped the moment they receive Jesus Christ, but all get the Holy Spirit regardless of their circumstances. Read Holy Ghost Baptism. It is given as a seal (or proof) of salvation and as the power to witness for Christ.

Categories
Belief in God Biblical doctrines hermeneutics Trials and temptations

Can saved Christians be overcome by Satan and lose their salvation?

Some erroneously teach, in my opinion, that a saved regenerated believer in Christ can lose his salvation and become un-born-again, unregenerate, through some action on his or her own part. While discussing this one day with a Christian brother, who believes such is possible, I asked him for a biblical text in support of the idea. He gave me 2 Peter 2:19 and 20.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants [slaves] of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage [enslaved]. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

Reading that passage it does almost seem to support such a notion, except when you put it in its original context. And also it brings up a concept centred on the meaning of the word ‘overcome’ as used in the Bible. Since we are admonished (2 Timothy 2:15) to rightly handle the word of truth, let’s look into this matter a little more. (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)

opening-teaser

2 Timothy 2:15 Study [Be diligent] to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The Authorized version uses the word ‘dividing’ which I believe captures the point very precisely. We need to divide truth from error.