Posts Tagged ‘prophecy’

Book Plunge: The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?

September 1, 2014

What did I think of David James’s book responding to the Harbinger? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Most people who read my material know I am not a friend of dispensationalism. I consider it to be a belief that has zero Biblical support and think that orthodox Preterism awaiting the return of Jesus and the bodily resurrection is the true message of Scripture in regard to eschatology. This does not mean that dispensationalists are my enemy. I married one. (Although she does hope my view is the true one.) I have many friends who are of a futurist persuasion. 

Despite this, if I’m cruising around on Facebook and see some sensationalism on the walls of Christians friends, it usually has to do with end times. Just this past week, I’ve had to deal with the claim that Jesus said the name of the antichrist was Barack Obama (And I am no fan whatsoever of The Empty Suit) and that Obama is also planning to implant RFID chips in people which as we know just has to be the Mark of the Beast!

Unfortunately for the dispensational camp, the sensationalists usually do carry the day. Right now, one of the big items going around is Blood Moons. I still remember being in a Christian bookstore with an aged pastor talking to the clerk about wanting to read the book on it and about his excitement with “Biblical Prophecy.” 

Sadly, I’m sure books by N.T. Wright, Mike Licona, and William Lane Craig are being neglected while Christians read spiritual junk food.

Another big one in recent times was the Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. Cahn is of the opinion that he saw a message from God that everyone else missed in the 9/11 attack and the following economic collapse and all of this was said to happen according to what was written in Isaiah 9:10. Of course, this is done by selective usage of facts and horrible Scriptural interpretation, but hey, details. Who needs them?

It’s natural that a Preterist like myself would condemn such a work.

It’s a breath of fresh air that a dispensationalist like David James does.

Yes. James’s book is definitely worthy of praise. James does not go in for any of this in the book. He has nothing against Cahn as a person, but he does think that Cahn’s idea of America being given a warning of judgment starting with 9/11 has no backing whatsoever. He does think that Cahn is right in that America needs to repent, and I do agree with that point, but the warning has not happened the way Cahn thinks it has.

Naturally, James and I disagree on a number of points. We could probably sign the same statements on the veracity of Scripture and of course, we would agree on the great creeds of the church. Each one of us has a viewpoint that falls within the realm of orthodoxy. Still, I would not agree with his view that much of prophecy is future with the rapture of the church coming and I would not agree with his views on Israel. (I also don’t care for the term “replacement theology.” I prefer the term “Grafting in theology.” God did not replace Israel. He expanded it beyond what it was to include people in all places, of all languages, and all cultures, and all times.)

That’s what makes it so wonderful. This isn’t a battle of dispensationalism vs. Preterism. This is good interpretation vs. bad interpretation. This is also a danger of getting into the sensational. In a private email with James, I even told him that as I was thinking about futurism, I decided to use Blood Moons as an example and said “Suppose for the sake of argument that these were true messages from God. So what?”

Seriously. So what?

Are we to say that if you knew Jesus Christ was going to return in say, a year, that you’d suddenly start living differently? Then you have a problem right now. If you are truly living a Biblical life, and to be fair none of us truly are definitively, then it should not matter to how you live your life really if you know Jesus will return tomorrow or if it will be 1,000 years from now. Your marching orders are still the same.

Fortunately with the Harbinger, James has done his research and he has done it very well. He looks at each and every piece of information given by the prophet in the story and shows how it doesn’t line up. He shows that Cahn is highly selective in the material that he chooses to presents and ignores quite often the historical, linguistic, and cultural context of the information. In many places, he is quite loose with the facts.

James also looks at Cahn’s behavior since the publishing of the Harbinger and how many times, while he denies being a prophet (And probably the son of a prophet) and denies that this is really a prophecy about America, his actions seem to say otherwise. There are many chances he’s had to clear it up naturally and it hasn’t been taken.

Also, later in the book, he shows Cahn is entering quite dangerous territory with using material that could be considered more occultic in nature, like the Zohar. While I have no problem with extra-biblical sources, I do think some can be quite dangerous at times not because of challenging ideas, but if there’s the possibility of the occult, we must be careful. Even if it is not so, Cahn gives a more dangerous spin as inspiration seems to play a role into what goes into the Zohar.

James also deals with the idea that America is a covenant people. As I have said, a covenant requires agreement by two parties. Anyone can stand up and say they’re in a covenant with God. It isn’t one until God returns the deal somehow. No one can force God to be in a covenant. He is the initiator of the covenant. 

Unfortunately, the sad reality is more people will read Cahn’s junk food than will read James’s antidote, and this is a shame. In our society, too many people only want to read or pay attention to that which agrees with their own conclusion and do not show any proper interaction with the other side. I am sure James’s character would also be attacked if more people knew about this book. (Well obviously, he’s just resisting the Holy Spirit.) Such is the way of thinking, or rather non-thinking, in our culture.

While I disagree with James ideologically, I find in this book he is entirely level-headed and not going for the sensationalist stuff that too many dispensationalists are and sadly, that group that is sensationalist becomes the group that most people perceive the whole as being like. I only wish there were more out there who were like James. While we disagree on many issues, our disagreements will focus more on Scripture than anything else. I urge dispensationalists, preterists, and everyone in between to read this book. If you know someone who has read the Harbinger, get them to read this one as well.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Apostles Creed: Born of the Virgin Mary,

April 22, 2014

Was the Bible truly talking about a virgin birth? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

“The virgin shall be with child.” So reads the passage in Isaiah 7:14 and immediately many Christians see this as talking about Jesus. Is this the case? Well, no.

So Matthew got it wrong?

Also, no.

Then how can both of those be accurate?

In Isaiah, Isaiah was telling King Ahaz that the king should not join a group of other nations in uniting against the enemy of Assyria. He was so insistent that the king should not do this that he even told the king to ask God for a sign, something that would not normally be encouraged. Ahaz seeks an excuse then and says “I will not put God to the test.” Isaiah then tells Ahaz that he’s going to get a sign anyway. What is that sign? The virgin will be with child!

What does he mean by virgin?

The Hebrew word is Almah and yes, it does mean a young woman. It does not necessitate that the woman is a virgin, but in many cases the woman actually is a virgin. Isaiah at this time is referring to a woman who was known and is saying that that woman will give birth to a child. It is quite likely someone who Isaiah himself would be marrying. The sign would be that by the time this child was old enough to choose right from wrong, in other words, an age of moral accountability, the team of nations together would have already fallen.

Indeed, this is what happened. Therefore, we have a fulfillment of prophecy.

So no, this is not talking about Jesus.

Yet when the Scriptures are translated into Greek, when the translators got to this verse, they chose to translate Almah as Parthenos, which is the word for a virgin. Therefore, when Matthew uses the word, it does indeed a woman who has not had sexual intercourse and when he writes out his Gospel, he sees the virgin birth of Jesus as a fulfillment of this prophecy.

But how can this be?

Remember, for other objections to the virgin birth, one is encouraged to go here. What Matthew is doing is taking an event in the past and saying that he sees a reenactment as it were of what happened in the past. This is actually a way of giving honor to the account. It was important to find past precedent for current events.

An example in Matthew’s Gospel is when Jesus tells the Pharisees that Isaiah was right when he prophesied about them saying “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

What was going on? Jesus was looking at an event in the prophet’s time and seeing a reenactment of that same event in his time. For the Jews, Scripture was always speaking and it was honorable to find parallels to past events being going on in the lives of the people of the time.

So was Isaiah prophesying about Jesus? No.

Was Matthew wrong in using this passage? No.

What was right is how a fulfillment was going on.

Those interested in seeing more are recommended to check Richard Longenecker’s “Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period” and Sandy and Walton’s “The Lost World of Scripture.”

In conclusion, Matthew saw the event in his time and thought of the passage in the past. Even if it was not what Isaiah had in mind, it would have been perfectly acceptable to exegetes of his day to interpret Scripture in this way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sense and Goodness Without God: Part 11

January 15, 2014

Can a compelling case be made for prophecy? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’m not a fan of prophecy ministries.

Really. I’m not.

My position as I have said is a Preterist of the orthodox variety which I have defended here and my reasons for Preterism itself can be found here.

So when I see many prophecy ministries that focus on what is going on in Israel today and who is the next target to be the antichrist, I really can’t take them seriously at all. So many prophecy books will be gathering dust in the back of Christian bookstores soon, but their writers have already cashed in and will write again on the next topic.

For all these prophecy experts, it’d be nice to see them get something right.

So when Carrier critiques prophecy, in many cases, I agree. Yet not in all. I do admit the Bible contains prophecy, though I don’t think it necessarily had the distant distant future in mind. I do think the coming of Christ was prophesied and Jesus is a fulfillment of the Scriptures. Yet I try to be very conservative with that.

One point Carrier brings out I find quite odd is the idea of selection bias. Maybe the Jews just chose those books that happened to have fulfilled prophecies in them and threw away the ones that didn’t.

This is a proposition without evidence. If Carrier wants to say this is a possibility, well that’s fine, but do we have any evidence this possibility took place? Besides, if the Jews were wanting to improve their image, they could do any number of things, such as write a detailed prophecy after the fact. (And to be fair, many think that happened in a book like Daniel) They could also clean up their own image in their sacred books. Why would someone have sacred books that regularly recorded their own failures if they were trying to make themselves look good?

Now Carrier says one of the best cited prophecies is the destruction of Tyre prophesied in Ezekiel. Now it could be, but I honestly rarely see this one used. I suppose most Christians would instead look at prophecy fulfillment in the life of Jesus.

Carrier tells us Ezekiel was likely producing propaganda to get on the good side of Nebuchadnezzar. Does he have evidence of this? Does he really think King Nebby was going to be paying attention to a lone priest out in the area preaching to the people? Carrier also tells us that Ezekiel could likely have intelligence about the king’s plans to attack Tyre. These are a lot of coulds, but there is no evidence given for them.

Note also that in Ezekiel 26:3 we are told that many nations will rise up against Tyre. Babylon is just one nation and is just the start. Babylon wore Tyre down a good deal, but did not conquer, hence Ezekiel 29:18. Babylon did a lot of work, but got no reward. The final victory would not be theirs. (And by the way, if this prophecy was shown to be wrong supposedly in the book, wouldn’t this one have been retracted per Carrier’s theory?)

Instead, who did destroy the city? Alexander the Great, and did so with the people of many nations in his army. Of course, Tyre did become something again later on, but did not reach its past glory that it had. The prophecy has language of hyperbole to be sure, and part of the problem with many people reading texts like this, atheists and Christians both, is a wooden literalism. The irony is that atheists often condemn Christians for this and then do the exact same thing.

Now if I was to point to a prophecy, I’d point to Daniel 9 and Matthew 24. For those interested in those prophecies, I highly recommend The Preterist Podcast by my good friend DeeDee Warren. You will find the most extensive look at Matthew 24 there and Daniel 9 is her next project.

Next time we discuss matters, it will be Carrier’s case for atheism.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Sandy Prophecy?

November 1, 2012

When a natural disaster strikes, how are we to understand the situation? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Let me say at the start that this post is not meant to give any consolation to people who are suffering from Hurricane Sandy. Prayers are with you. If you are hurt by this now, this is not the post for you to read at the time. This is providing a rational answer to a question that is risen and is not meant to deal with current emotional suffering. That is the area of a good counselor instead.

A friend of Deeper Waters told me yesterday that her brother is someone who is highly into prophecy and thinks that Hurricane Sandy is a fulfillment of prophecy. Now I have in the past stated that my view on prophecy is that of orthodox Preterism. For all who don’t understand that view, my position is that Jesus Christ is going to physically return some day and that there will be a future resurrection of all the dead. I will put a link at the end of this post to the web site of DeeDee Warren, the best I know of to explain Preterism.

Also, with regards to what I was told yesterday, I have indicated numerous times that I am politically a conservative and that I do vote conservative. It is not essential to this post that you agree with either of the viewpoints that I present. I can easily picture a liberal who is a futurist agreeing with what I have to say.

To begin with, I’m not sure what prophecy Sandy is said to fulfill as none was given, but I do know the habit of going to the Bible, finding one verse that agrees with you, and then wresting it from its historical context and plopping it right down in modern times and saying that it is a fulfillment of prophecy, because we all know that in ancient Israel 2,500 years or so ago, God was warning them about a hurricane that would happen in a totally separate country today.

This does not mean the prophecies are irrelevant to us if they have already been fulfilled. We can still see a precedent on the kind of behavior God universally opposes, particularly when He speaks about behavior outside of Israel. Why? Because that nation is not one that is under the law of Israel that is civic and ceremonial, although to be fair, most of the criticisms of Israel were the failure of the moral law.

The problem is that when we have these disasters, there is always someone claiming it was a fulfillment of prophecy. It doesn’t matter that this “prophecy” has been fulfilled several times before. This time, this is it. This is our generation! We are the one! It’s irrelevant that every other generation has had someone who has thought that before. We are obviously the exception this time.

Of course, this could be the generation that the kingdom comes into full realization. We should always be open to that. We dare not proclaim it without clear revelation from God however. We play a dangerous game when we do that. There were numerous books that were written that showed Saddam Hussein was the antichrist. Some were saying Bin Laden was the antichrist. What are those books doing now? They’re gathering dust on bookshelves somewhere. They have embarrassed the Christian faith and the authors are going to go out and try it again. To use an extreme example, what do you think someone like Harold Camping does to the Christian faith?

Still, I would not be surprised if someone like Pat Robertson will go out or has already gone out and said that the east coast is being judged and Hurricane Sandy is the proof. This lady I was talking to about her brother said that we are being judged with this election. Look at the states that are hit the most. Those states are New York and New Jersey. These states are blue on the map and so they are being judged for supporting Obama.

Now I find this just odd. To begin with, you’d think if this was the kind of thing being done, we’d see the disaster on the West Coast which is even more liberal. We don’t. Instead, we see the hurricane come and people say “Obviously God is directing this hurricane. This hurricane has to be judgment. Why could these states be being judged? Look! They’re both blue states! That has to be it!”

I was also told that hurricanes aren’t common at this time of year. Common? Perhaps not. Unheard of? No. Hurricanes have happened. Back in 1993 here in Tennessee, in March, we had a blizzard come. Blizzards don’t normally come at that time of year and I as a young boy thought I would never see it again. The reality is, I did. I saw it in APRIL of 1996. Should I have concluded both were a divine act of God for some reason? To say something is unusual and uncommon does not mean that it is a judgment of God.

Of course, this does not mean that God cannot use a hurricane to judge, but I need a clear reason to think that it is. What message we can get out of such things is to realize the fragility of life and we dare not grow complacent where we are. We can look at Luke 13 where tragedies happen and the reply of Jesus is “You repent just in case!” (And from my viewpoint of course, they had a really big disaster come 40 years later and unfortunately, they did not repent.)

When we have situations like this happen, it leads to further embarrassment of the Christian faith and more attention paid to non-essentials. As I told my friend yesterday, it is a tragedy that Christians today tend to spend more time seeking to understand who the antichrist is rather than spend that time seeking to understand who Christ is.

Having said that, I do want to make it clear that I have no problem seeing my futurist friends as Christians. I would rather you be right on the Jesus question and wrong on the eschatology question, than be right on the eschatology question and be wrong on the Jesus question. This is an in-house debate. I have no problem with futurists. I’m married to one after all. I do have a problem with dogmatism either way. I have a problem with preterists seeing futurists as second-class Christians and I have a problem with futurists who like to accuse me of just wanting to “Allegorize” or “spiritualize” the Word of God.

Let’s be careful with how we are presenting ourselves to the world and handling our interpretation of Scripture. We must always try to first find out what it meant to the people then before finding the application for our own day and age. If we are reckless with how we interpret it, we will pay the price. Let’s also remember that there are people who are hurting from Sandy and the last thing we need to tell them is that God is judging them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The preterist site can be found here.

Prophecy and Love

June 23, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve decided to take us on a tour lately of 1 Corinthians 13 and see what this magnificently beautiful chapter has to say about love. My wife knows that one of my prayer requests every night is to understand this chapter. Tonight, I’d like to look at the first part of verse 2. It raises the point about having the gift of prophecy.

What do we know about Paul and his view of prophecy? Paul was abundantly clear that prophecy was the greatest of the gifts and he advised the church to seek prophecy. Moses in the Old Testament had a wish that all of God’s people could be prophets and in the New Testament we see at Pentecost the start of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel as to the pouring out of the Spirit would mean that people would prophesy.

Now we’re not going to get to the end of the verse tonight, but Paul’s point here is that if one has prophecy, but they do not have love, then they are nothing. Note that he is not saying that he has nothing. He is saying that he himself is nothing. As important as prophecy was to Paul, love was far more important.

What was prophecy? Today, we can often think of prophecy as simply foretelling the future. To an extent, that did happen in prophecy in the Old Testament especially, but it was not always that. Much of prophecy in the Old Testament is the exhorting of the people to righteousness. It was not so much telling the future as it was giving commentary on the present.

In the New Testament, the closest role could be to that of a pastor. Because someone was a prophet, it did not mean that they were telling the future. It could mean that they possessed a key insight into the message of God at the time and knew how to apply it to the lives of the people. After all, it is doubtful following the rules of 1 Cor. 14 that God would give one prophecy to one person only to have them sit down when He decided to give another prophecy to a different one.

Paul values prophecy because it is involving the proclamation of the gospel. Tongues would be seen as a means of conveying the gospel, but prophecy would be seen as having to do with the content of the gospel. Paul was grateful to God that he had the ability to prophesy. Of course, being an apostle, he did such on a far greater scale, yet at the same time differentiated. In 1 Cor. 7, we find him making a distinction between what he says and what the Lord says. If anyone could say “Thus sayeth the Lord” surely Paul could, but he did no such thing. He simply pointed to his authority as an apostle and we trust today that God did guide this fine evangelist in what he said.

Let us not skip over this part however. Remember what Paul says about prophecy and look at what he says about it after this chapter and what is his conclusion? IF you have prophecy, but you do not have love, you are nothing. You’re not worth talking about. No one should take you seriously at all.

Let us keep this in mind as we pursue what love really is.