Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Book Plunge: Did God Really Command Genocide?

December 15, 2014

What do I think of Copan and Flannagan’s newest book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

godcommandgenocide

First off, I wish to thank Dr. Copan for sending me a copy of this Baker book for review purposes. I will state up front that I see Flannagan and Copan both as good friends, but I earnestly desire to avoid allowing any bias to cover my review. It will be up to the reader of this review to determine if I have done so.

The book starts with a question of what atheist Raymond Bradley calls the Crucial Moral Principle. This principle goes as follows:

It is morally wrong to deliberately and mercilessly slaughter men, women, and children who are innocent of any serious wrongdoing.

Most of us would in principle have no problem with that statement. In fact, in principle, neither would Copan and Flannagan. Yet that is the statement that must be dealt with as it looks like the text does have commands from God to do just that. Now of course it could be that some might say those events are just a made-up history, but in the book, Copan and Flannagan do take the task of assuming for the sake of argument that this is a real historical narrative. In fact, so do the atheists they interact with in the book. It is a way of saying “Let’s assume that there was a conquest of the Promised Land as the Bible declares. How do we reconcile that with the idea that God is a God of love?”

Some people reading the start will be wondering about the beginning. Why are we having a discussion on inerrancy? Why a discussion on what it means for the Bible to be the Word of God? All of this is important, because it is about how we are to process the information in a text and too many people have an idea that if the Bible is the “Word of God” then somehow the ordinary rules of language don’t apply and everything must be applied in a “literalistic” reading.

From there, we get into the conquest itself. Is the text using hyperbolic language? Copan and Flannagan argue that it is simply because if you take in a literalistic sense, the accounts immediately contradict. For the sake of argument, one could say there are contradictions in the text, but let us not say the writers were fools who would notice a blatant contradiction right in their midst. Many of the commands also involve not destroying, but rather driving out. The commands were also limited to war within the holy land itself.

Naturally, the authors argue against those who want to use the Bible to argue against the hyperbolic interpretation. They conclude this section by looking at legal and theological questions concerning genocide and show that by legal definitions used of genocide today, the events that took place in the Conquest really don’t work.

The third part of the book starts with Divine Command Theory. I will state that while I believe everything God commands is necessarily good and we are obligated to do it, I do not hold to DCT. I think this section does deal with several bad arguments against it and that makes it worthwhile in itself. It’s also important that you can be someone who does not hold to DCT and it will not detract from the overall position of the book.

For instance, let’s suppose you take my position and yet think that if God commands something, it is good. Then the rest of the part will still work for you. It asks if God could command events like the deaths of innocent human beings. The authors use some excellent examples about how in even our time we could picture a president commanding such an order and not condemn them. For instance, suppose on 9/11 three of the planes have hit and we know the fourth is on its way to the target. This plane no doubt commands innocent human beings, but would we understand a command from the president to have it shot down knowing innocents will die? Note that is not saying it is necessarily the right decision, but that it is an understandable decision.

The authors also deal with what if someone claimed this today. For the authors, the principle known earlier as the crucial moral principle holds if all things are equal, but if you think God is telling you otherwise, you’d better have some excellent evidence. Most Christians today would say you do not because even if you hold to God guiding people personally today and even personal communication today, most would not hold to prophecy on the level of Scripture being given today and if God commanded you to kill someone, that is not a position to hold to.

So what makes Moses and the conquest different? One is the preponderance of what are called G2 miracles. These are miracles that you could not just explain away as sleight of hand if true. For instance, when the water of the Nile turns to blood, the magicians can repeat that so yeah, no big deal. When the Red Sea parts and the whole of the Israelites pass through on dry land and the waters drown the following Egyptians, yeah. That’s not so easily explainable. The same for manna falling from the sky every day for forty years and the wonders that took place around Mount Sinai. The average Joe Israelite soldier had good reason to think Moses had some divine communication going on.

I personally found the last section to be the most fascinating and this is about violence in history and its link to Christianity. The authors cover the Crusades particularly and show some contrasts between Islam and Christianity and also point out that the Crusades have not been hanging over our heads for centuries. If anything, the usage of them is a more recent argument.

They also deal with the idea of religious violence and show that much of the violence we have seen is in fact political though often hidden under a religious veneer. Included also in this section is a piece on the question of pacifism and if there can be such a thing as a just war.

Copan and Flannagan have provided an excellent gift to the church in this book. Anyone interested in studying the conquest of the holy land and wanting to deal with the question of religious violence in general will be greatly benefited by reading this book and keeping it in their library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Blood Moon Lunacy

April 2, 2014

What do I think of Holding’s book on the blood moon theory? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In the interest of full disclosure for a review, J.P. Holding who wrote “Blood Moon Lunacy” is my ministry partner. I am always one of the first to get a copy of his book so that I can review it as well. In this one, Holding looks at the theory propagated by people like John Hagee. The idea is that when there is a tetrad, that is, a group of four blood moons, that take place on Jewish holidays, then that means there is something about to happen with the Jews. These blood moons are also accompanied by a solar eclipse which means they’re not really tetrads, but we’ll let that slide.

So is there any credibility to it?

Nope.

Holding points out that Hagee knows that there are seven times that this kind of occurrence has taken place, yet he only tells about three of them, which is awfully convenient. Just do your best to ignore the data that doesn’t suit your theory. Also, note that many times where one would have expected something like this, it never happened, such as 70 A.D., 135 A.D., or the holocaust.

Hagee also neglects to mention that many of these eclipses would not have been visible in Israel or even worldwide. Some of them would even be visible in only the arctic areas. Hard to imagine this being Hagee’s sign for the world if the world cannot even see them.

Unfortunately, Hagee has had this kind of reputation before. Holding points out that in past books he has predicted many events would take place and in fact, they haven’t, but shortly thereafter a new book will come out and it will use the same arguments and this time for a different event. There will be no apology or admission of fault for the past mistake.

This is something that always makes me wonder about these “prophecy experts.” No matter what, they are consistently wrong, and yet we still keep referring to them as experts. Why is that? Would you consider going to a doctor who was consistently wrong? Would you want a lawyer to argue your case who consistently lost? Would you follow the advice of a stockbroker who was consistently mistaken? Yet people are often willing to support even global policy on the words of people who are wrong regularly.

Of course, my answer to this is to suggest people look at the futurist hermeneutic with suspicion. That is one reason I accept a Preterist hermeneutic where I interpret prophecy based on ones that have already been fulfilled, which means to not read them in a wooden and literal sense.

Unfortunately, too many Christians will be paying attention to blood moon theories instead of paying attention to Scripture itself and not looking into the claims of people like Hagee who are misleading the church and filling them with fear.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again. When people like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and John Hagee are no names in the Christian community and people like Mike Licona, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, and others like them are household names in the Christian community, we will experience the growth that we should in the church.

I highly recommend Holding’s book for showing the errors of John Hagee.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

End Times Hopscotch

January 27, 2014

Are we really reading the passages the way they were meant to be read? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was asked to reply to a video found here. I think it is important to respond to such videos because frankly, the end times can be scary for a lot of people. When I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist, I found it frightening also. Yeah. It’s kind of neat thinking the rapture can happen at any time, but kind of frightening too, and what about all those people left behind? What about all the destruction to come on the Earth? What about the antichrist?

With movies like “Devil’s Due” coming out, we can be sure end times mania is not far from people’s minds. That and I understand that a remake of Left Behind is in the works. It can hardly be the case that a ruler in the Middle East will sneeze without prophecy experts showing up immediately. Unfortunately, these experts have a great track record of being wrong as J.P. Holding of Tektonics shows in this video and in this video.

This is also why I think it’s important that people get their bearings straight on eschatology. Even if you come from a different view than I, at least know what you believe. That way, you won’t be able to be blown around by everyone who comes along with a new interpretation.

So let’s look at this video that I’m writing about together.

The video starts early saying not many people know what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus Christ and therefore, they are in danger of being deceived.

As an orthodox Preterist, I think too many already are unfortunately. A first century event has been turned into an event sometime to occur in the distant distant future. Now some people hearing me identify myself as a Preterist might wonder what I’m talking about. For that, I recommend that you go here and here. I’m sure the makers of this video will count me as one deceived. Oh well if they do. In order to do so, they will need to address my criticisms.

Next we are told that on the day Jesus returns, there will be a polar reversal. What I’m wondering immediately at this is not about the polar reversal (Although I am wondering what passage of Scripture says this), but rather about that word “return.” Are we talking about the second coming or return? Are these one and the same?

This is a problem I have with futurists often. What do the words mean? Does the rapture count as a coming? Is it maybe a half coming since Jesus never fully comes to Earth supposedly but just appears? If this is a return, then is it the event described in Matthew 24? If so, then that leads to even more concerns. Paul ties in the return of Jesus with a mass resurrection in 1 Thess. 4 and in 1 Cor. 15. Nowhere in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we read anything about a resurrection. Why would Jesus not mention that and that be the main event Paul mentions?

According to the video, Isaiah 24:20 says “the Earth will shatter and crack and split open. The earth will stagger like a drunk, and sway like a hut in a storm. The world is weighed down by its sins. It will collapse and never rise again.” Immediately after this, the speaker jumps to Revelation 6:12.

Shouldn’t we finish looking at Isaiah 24 first?

You see, this is what I call Biblical hopscotch. You take one passage here and then hop over to another passage and then hop to one more passage never staying in any book for long to get a real taste of it. Imagine going to a restaurant and going to a buffet line and just taking a little piece of so many foods but never really sitting down and enjoying a meal. That’s the kind of picture that is taking place here.

So the futurists I meet are all about taking the text “literally” (A term that is highly misunderstood and as I show here led to disaster for the opponents of Jesus. Most people don’t understand that literally really means “According to the intent of the author.”

The video wants to move past Isaiah 24. I don’t. If we take it literally, then what happens? The earth is split. The text says cracked and shattered as well. And yet, somehow, the Earth supposedly has remained in one piece. Well maybe it’s not that literal…..

It’s literal except for the times that it contradicts the theory apparently, and then it’s not literal.

What’s going on is that the prophet Isaiah is giving descriptions of judgments on the nations around Israel. The language is apocalyptic to describe in cosmic terms the political events that will take place. An example of this is Isaiah 13.

9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.

This sounds to many people like the end of the world. It’s not. It’s judgment on Babylon. Some readers might be thinking “Well obviously, Isaiah is talking about a Babylon that will show up in the far far distant future.” Why think that? Israel was concerned about Babylon then and this can show a fulfillment.

In Isaiah 23 we start to hear about the destruction of Tyre. Why think the prophet will suddenly interrupt this to talk about the world being destroyed? Listening to many of these end-times experts, you’d think the only time on Earth that the prophets were concerned about was a distant time when followers of YHWH supposedly won’t even be on Earth! (Save for “tribulation saints.”)

And besides, if the Earth is never to rise again, then how can it be that Christ will rule on the Earth? Is Christ going to rule over ruins? I thought His Kingdom was supposed to be a glorious Kingdom!

Once again, if you read it in a wooden sense, it cannot be consistent.

So let’s go on to Revelation 6.

In the NIV, the passage cited reads “12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”

We’re given a detailed scientific account of what’s supposed to happen. Okay. I’m not a scientist. I can’t comment on that. Savvy readers who are skilled in the sciences are welcome to leave a comment about the matter. I am sure of this point.

If one star were to fall and hit the Earth, we would be doomed. I’m also quite sure that if the sun turned black, we wouldn’t be able to see the moon at all to tell what color it is.

The speaker goes to Psalm 97:5 that says the mountains melted like wax before the presence of the Lord to illustrate this.

Little problem there. Psalm 97 has everything in present tense. It is describing realities going on right now. The point is not global upheaval. The point is that all creation is to submit to the ruler YHWH. If the way the video reads the Psalm is the way we are to read it, then Psalm 98:8 will be an exciting time when the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy.

Okay. That would be a cool video to see.

Now we jump to Revelation 16:20 which says that every island fled away and the mountains were not found. Then there’s an immediate jump back to Revelation 6:15.

Exactly how are we to read the book of Revelation? Can we just jump wherever we want to and apply it in whatever method we want to?

Interestingly, 6:15 speaks of evil people who go to the mountains and ask them to hide them from He who sits on the throne and the wrath of the lamb.

You know, those mountains that the video just said had crumbled and the ones that Revelation 6 says were removed from their place prior….

Yeah. I don’t get it either.

The video then tells us that the global earthquake will cause every building to fall. Isaiah 30:25 calls it the day of the great slaughter.

Really?

What else does Isaiah 30 say?

Well actually, it’s not a prophecy of destruction at all!

“23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”

Note that it says the land will be rich and plentiful. We are told streams will flow on every mountain (Those mountains that had either crumbled or been removed) and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun! (The moon that was supposed to be blood red and the sun that was supposed to be dark) and the sun will be seven times brighter. (Yes. That dark sun will be seven times brighter.)

And you know, if this was really a time of great blessing, it would not be a blessing for the sun to be seven times brighter in a wooden sense.

And what’s going to happen? God will heal his people. This is not judgment! Unfortunately, too many people will just hear what the vid says and not really look up the references. Understandable unfortunately, but a mistake.

Next, it’s back to Revelation 16:21 and hailstones about 100 pounds each falling.

So apparently in this time of great prosperity for God’s people, there will be giant hailstones falling on the Earth. Seriously. On what grounds does one have the right to jump from Isaiah 30 and suddenly go back to Revelation 16 like this?

Okay. Now we move on to Matthew 24:30 with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens. Every one will see him and He will come on the clouds. The video also goes to Revelation 1:7 saying everyone will see Him, even those who have pierced Him.

All of whom, by the way, are dead now….

And let’s talk a little bit about coming and clouds. These are words of judgment as well which show that the deity is acting. In 2 Samuel 22, David describes a past event and says

“7 “In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Notice that David is talking about a past event, but read through the books of Samuel and you will not find this literally taking place. You will not find God hitching up his angels to go on a ride and shoot arrows at the bad guys. What will you find? David’s enemies regularly got judged, and often through natural means. But for the ancients, the deity (or deities) were involved in everything. Notice also the language David uses. He speaks about the Earth shaking and the foundations of the heavens trembling. This is language of destruction, but we have no record of a great earthquake in the lifetime of David.

We see the language of coming in Exodus 3

“7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”

God has come to rescue His people? But God Himself didn’t show up in Egypt. It was Moses who showed up and performed the works of God.

And in Matthew 26:64, Jesus says this to the high priest at his trial.

““You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.””

Note what Jesus says. From now on, Caiaphas will see this. This is not a one-time future event. This is going to be a continuous event. Note also that Jesus will be coming and at the same time, sitting at the right hand. How is this possible, unless coming is a way of saying that Jesus will be judging! This court that has convened to judge Jesus will actually be judged by Jesus. Caiaphas himself will see this.

So either, this has happened, or else Jesus gave a false prophecy. Your choice.

And in Revelation 2:5, we read this to the church in Ephesus.

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

So if this church does not get its act right, the second coming will take place?

Now of course, the video goes to 1 Thess. 4 and we hear about the rapture. Therefore I am once again wondering about the viewpoint of the video. Are they post-tribulational? Are they mid-trib? Yet they say the Christians will be saved from this terrible wrath. How can that be if this wrath has already started and the Earth is reeling, which is necessary since they say this is how every eye will see Jesus? Again, I am confused.

And as for meeting him in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord, does that mean we are always going to be remaining in the air? Once again, the text is to be taken literally, except for when it is not to be taken literally.

The video also goes to 1 Cor. 15 yet my question still remains, where in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we see this resurrection take place? Why did Jesus leave out such an important detail?

The video then says that we will all be gathered with the Lord to defend Israel. (Kind of odd that Jesus leaves out that bit too about defending Israel. Kind of odd especially since passages like Matthew 24 actually describe judgment on Israel and not a hint of deliverance. In fact, Christians are told to flee Israel at that time.) The text jumped to for this is Rev. 19 and Zech. 14:4.

We’re told Jesus and His army, notably us, go out to wage war against the many arab nations and the antichrist, that figure who has not been spoken about this time, but is apparently enjoying a successful career reigning where every building has been destroyed! Apparently, all these tanks of the enemy are going to fight just fine despite the sun being darkened.

We go to Joel 3:16 for this one.

“The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.”

What is going on in Joel? Well, we’re not told. Joel is a difficult book to date. Some date it to the 6th century. Some date it to the 9th. It does describe present realities going on and an army that God will defend His people from. Note however what is said in verse 18.

“In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias.”

Those mountains again. They’ve been destroyed and they’ve been removed both, but now they’re going to drip wine. Let’s hope this doesn’t interrupt the singing they’re supposed to do in Psalm 98.

We go back to Rev. 19 long enough to hear we’re riding on white horses and dressed in some fine white linen. (Note that Rev. 19:8 says that fine linen stands for righteous acts of God’s people. I mean, yeah, the text explicitly tells you that the term it uses just a few verses later is symbolism but hey, details, who needs them?) From there we jump back AGAIN to Joel 2 and start at verse 4.

4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?

Now some of you might have caught on to that I look at the whole context and figured “Aha! I have you now! Look at what is said in verse 2!

” a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.”

Never was in ancient times and never will be in ages to come! This must be a grand climatic final battle!

Well, no.

For one thing, the author assumes history will keep going because there is a time after when this will supposedly never be again.

But this is typical hyperbolic language. If you’re going this way, you have some problems. For one thing, consider 1 Kings 3:12 when this is said to Solomon.

“I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”

So realize what this means! By this interpretation, Solomon was wiser than Jesus was. Do you want to say that?

For another example, look at 2 Kings 18:5

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”

Wow. No king like him before or after. (Did Hezekiah trust in God more than Jesus did?)

Yet in 2 Kings 23:25 we read

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”

So did the writer of Kings totally forget about Hezekiah who he wrote about just a few pages earlier, or is this just hyperbolic language used to describe a great event?

In 2 Chronicles 30:26 we read about Hezekiah’s Passover that

“There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

Yet in 2 Kings 23:22 we read about Josiah’s Passover that

“Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed.”

The same situation is being described. It’s hyperbolic language.

So what about the rest of the passage?

Noteworthy is the sun and moon are darkened and the stars no longer shine. Will they make up their minds what they’re going to do? If Isaiah 30 had been taken in its full context, the sun would be seven times brighter. Now it’s no longer shining. Did it burn itself out or something? The stars will no longer shine? I thought they had all fallen earlier! What’s going on?

And heck, I think it’d be pretty sweet to see armies of horses entering buildings through windows! Why can’t I see a vid of that?

The vid goes on to talk about the antichrist and his mark and false miracles and the Lake of Fire. (And apparently, this army is advancing just fine despite the sun being dark.) And hey, at least this video gives us a really cool fire-breathing Jesus!

So what’s the next passage in this vid? Ezekiel 39:6. It reads “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

Well isn’t that special?

Let’s see what else the text says!

Speaking to Gog, the villain in the passage, we hear that

“3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

So apparently, this army of the future will be fighting with bows and arrows. They will also fall on the mountains of Israel. (Will those mountains again decide what it is that they’re exactly doing? Are they crumbling? Are they being removed? Are they singing?) The animals and carrion birds will eat the armies as food. (Because those animals will surely survive well in a devastated wasteland where they can’t see because there are no lights in the sky shining.)

Then in verse 9 we read

“Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. ”

So these wooden weapons will be burnt and used for fuel. Sure, the vid shows tanks and not shields and clubs and spears but hey, details. Who needs them?

Hopscotch continues with Revelation 20 and the binding of satan. So satan, a spiritual being, is being bound with a chain and locked up somewhere. Once again, the language is meant to be metaphorical and it’s important to note it doesn’t take the Son of God to defeat the devil. One angel can do it. The great power raised up against God can be dealt with by one angel. (Empowered by God of course)

Then we go to Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats. The problem with a passage like this being used is that it leads to a works salvation when not understood properly. The reality is that these good deeds are not done to obtain salvation. They are done because one already has salvation. Such misuses have produced unnecessary fear in the hearts of Christians who simply want to know they are in the right with God.

I have seen a longer version of this vid where there is an ending with a message of salvation. That’s important to have, but still lacking. It ends with a “Sinner’s prayer” and then says go find a good born-again church. (If you’re a new Christian, how are you to know what that is?) Our churches today unfortunately stress highly the concept of having conversions. They do not stress discipleship.

And besides, I’m concerned that this focus of evangelism will only work if you already accept the premise that the Bible is true. If you don’t, it’s just fearmongering. The apostles went a different route. They said Jesus is the risen Lord and King of the universe. Caesar is not! Get in line!

How much better off we’d be if we got that message instead?

What can be learned from this. Always check the context! We’ve found a great game of hopscotch going on in the biblical text, but the interpretations just do not hold up. There has not been given a methodology whereby we are to know how one is to apply which text where and listening to this kind of material, you’d think the only time the prophets were interested in talking about was this time in the future.

I am increasingly concerned more and more with a church that is caught in Last Days Madness, but is not growing in the knowledge of who Christ is and learning what it means to say Jesus is the resurrected Lord or learning more about their Bibles and how they have been handed down. Christians today often cannot defend the resurrection of the Lord, the central foundation of the faith, but they can sure bring out their charts and graphs to explain the end times!

Unfortunately, videos like this just add to the hype and in my opinion, increase the biblical ignorance. The Bible is a rich literary work that needs to be read in its proper context. When we treat it like a document written in our way of speaking, we do it, and its divine author, a disservice.

Keep in mind that in this post, I have certainly not disproved a futurist or dispensational approach. I disagree with those, but that is not my intent here. My intent is simply to show that I think a sort of sloppy reading of the text has taken place. Such reading has had a history of producing apostates of the faith who still insist other Christians read in a wooden literal sense. Let us seek to return to treasuring the Bible as the rich work that it is and realize understanding it is not a simplistic approach, but a difficult one that will require our time and effort.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

All Things Work For Israel?

February 16, 2012

Who are we that love the Lord? Let’s talk about it tonight on Deeper Waters.

This is another one of those blogs where I’d just like to share my thoughts on a topic I’ve been pondering and get some feedback on it. One of my favorite passages in Scripture that is most assuring to me is when I get to Romans 8 where we are told that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.

As I thought about it one night, I started wondering just how it is that Paul knew this truth. It seems simple to us, but what was there behind it? I started asking the question about who those are who love the Lord and then remembered that if I was reading Romans, chapter 9 immediately starts off with talk about Israel.

What if all those who love the Lord are what Paul wishes to call Israel?

Let’s consider how the book begins. It starts with the first chapter about how the gospel is for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Keep in mind that in Rome at the time, it is quite likely that the Jews had just returned from being exiled out by the emperor and Paul was dealing with some who were thinking “We already have a church. We’re Gentiles. What about them?” There could have been some strong anti-Semitism going on here.

How does he begin? He begins by talking about how the Gentiles went away from God. Those Gentiles who are Christians should literally thank God because their past is not too pretty. Polytheism, idolatry, and homosexuality would have been abundant in the ancient world. The first was a theistic error. The second was a specifically religious sin. The final would tear apart the very family unit.

Okay. The Jews are liking this. Not so fast! Chapter 2 shows Paul doesn’t let them off the hook. They’re not exactly saints. In some ways, they’re worse because they have the Law and they have the covenant promise of circumcision and even while having the Law, sometimes the Gentiles are doing better than they are. Also, they have the commands straight from God and they still violate them!

Romans 3 begins then with what is the advantage in being a Jew? First, they have the very oracles of God. Notice that Paul says first. There is a second, but he never explicitly mentions it. Instead, he gets on his first point with the idea of “How does this help us with righteousness?” He shows that all are equally condemned and that salvation cannot come through the Law. Well how are we to be saved then?

For that, we bring in exhibit A, Abraham, the friend of God. If it worked for Abraham, it works for everyone. Paul makes a master argument establishing that the righteousness Abraham was credited with was granted to him before the covenant of circumcision was given! Thus, one can be righteous and be uncircumcised since Abraham was! Abraham was instead declared righteous by faith!

The next chapter is our response and how God reached out to us and why it was necessary. We have peace with God that Adam ruined for us. Christ was the perfect representative of the human race and he was what Adam had been meant to be. Adam had reached out for equality with God and lost it. Jesus willingly did not consider his equality something to be grasped, and thus it was truly declared of Him in His earthly life.

If this is all true, and we are all covered, why not sin anyway? We have grace! It has been said if you are ministering and people do not hear a message of antinomianism sometime, you really haven’t touched on grace. Of course, Christians are not anti-Law. Paul wasn’t. They are pro righteousness however and holy living exists apart from the Law. Romans 6 is about how we left a lifestyle behind that would have given us a death sentence. Let us not serve it any more!

Then comes Romans 7 where we hear about the futility of righteousness by the Law. Some have said in Romans 7 Paul is talking about himself. I’m skeptical of that claim. Others have said it is about Adam, but as I have thought about it, what if it was really Israel he had in mind? Now follow me with this to chapter 8.

Chapter 8 is about forgiveness, but also how all of this extends to the restoration of creation. He then gives us the verses this blog is about, but notice he speaks about those who God called. If Paul has been talking about the benefit of being a Jew throughout this, who would he have in mind? Who was it that was called in the Old Testament? It was Israel. Those who love the Lord are Israel!

Have I thought it through the rest of the way? No. That is still being pondered, but I do notice that Romans 9:1 is the first time in the book that Paul uses the word “Israel.” Until then, he has been just saying “Jews.” Could it be that Paul is not wanting to say that because someone is a Jew, they are automatically Israel? Could it be that Paul is wanting to widen the categories so that Gentiles can be truly Israel and this could help explain the “All Israel shall be saved” verse? Is it that those who truly love God and are the “remnant” are the true Israel and the Gentiles in Rome should in fact be friendly to the Jews because these Jewish believers are true Israel?

This is an exciting idea I think and I am going to be pondering it further, but for now I wanted to get the idea out there. All things work for us who love the Lord perhaps we are all now the Israel of God. The promises given to them apply to us and their past is ours. Keep in mind Paul does speak to a church with several Gentiles in 1 Corinthians 10 but at the same time says “Our forefathers passed through the Sea.” Has the gospel broken down the barrier between Jew and Gentile so much that a Gentile can be considered Israel?

Just something to think about.

In Christ,
Nick Peters