Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rosh HaShanah 5771

The LORD spoke to Moshe, saying, "Speak to the children of Yisra'el, saying, 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest to you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.'" Leviticus 23:23-25

Rosh HaShanah 5771, the Jewish New Year (according to the Jewish civil calendar) begins on the sunset of Wednesday, the 8th of September, 2010.

"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the chief angel, and with God's shofar. The dead in Messiah will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words." I Thessalonians 4:16-18

Thursday, June 17, 2010

End Time Cosmic Blackouts/Signs

This article, like the previous one, is seeking to illustrate the possible danger of "over-cross-referencing", or turning passages into "parallel passages" on the basis of appearance only without contextual support.

Like the problem with the "general judgment theory" in the previous article, passages containing references to cosmic displays and blackouts are often assumed to be speaking of the same event. The cross-reference column in the margin of study Bibles is sufficient to show that the passages involved are assumed to be cross-references on the basis of similarity of words only without regard to context or usage. This problem seems to run across the various viewpoints on end-time chronology.

Here is a list of twelve such passages (not an exhaustive list) in a suggested sequence . . .

Isaiah 50:3
Joel 2:31; cp.Acts 2:16-21
Revelation 6:9-11
Isaiah 34:4
Revelation 8:12
Joel 2:10
Revelation 9:1-11
Revelation 16:10-11
Joel 3:12-17
Matthew 24:29
Isaiah 24:23
Isaiah 13:9-10.

I would suggest that there are at least ten different prophesied cosmic events spoken of in these passages, if not twelve! Just allow the passages in context to speak for themselves before attempting to correlate them. Trying to make them fit into a presupposed "system" will only produce great frustration. I would also suggest that some of the wording concerning end-time cosmic events is so broad that we may conclude that there will be a constant barrage of cosmic disturbances before and throughout the Day of the Lord.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

General Judgment Theory or Various End-Time Judgments?

This article is an example of the danger discussed in the previous article concerning the potential misuse of cross-referencing and the parallel passage approach.

Charles Hodge, in his Systematic Theology (Volume Three, Eerdmans, 1975, pp.844-850), advocates what has been called "the general judgment theory", that is to say that there is one general end-time judgment at which everything that must be determined is determined. Hodge's approach is built on the notion of a "general resurrection" (p.847), a topic which I will not deal with here except to say that the same danger of forcing resurrection passages to all be parallel is involved with Hodge's assumption. In the pages cited, Hodge lists many Bible verses that contain the word "judgment" or some form of it. His assumption is that any verse that contains this word (and is not already completed historically) must be a parallel referring to one single event. His presentation does not prove his point, it merely presupposes it. The same approach would apply to his treatment of the concept of resurrection. I am only citing Hodge because his approach is illustrative of that of many, if not most, preachers and theologians who in turn influence many people with this teaching.

But, if we look at the Bible itself and allow each passage to make its own contribution before we start trying to systematize, we see a different picture. Please note, I am not saying that we should not systematize, I am saying that Bible passages should not be systematized until we have allowed them to speak for themselves in context according to authorial intent.

For example, the "Great White Throne Judgment" of Revelation 20:11-15 is presented as taking place after the 1,000 reign of Christ and the throwing of Satan into the Lake of Fire (v.1-10). The judgment of Satan, therefore, is a distinct event from the Great White Throne. The location of the Great White Throne Judgment is only specified as being at "a great white throne", but other than that it does not say where this happens. It will not be on earth or in the first heaven, for they have passed away (v.11, and 21:1). We might assume this will only leave the second and third heavens as possible locations, and the third heaven is not likely because only unsaved people are being judged at the Great White Throne and they will not enter in to the third heaven. This leaves outer space or some dimension currently unknown to us for whatever reason/s. The purpose of this judgment is to assess the works of the unsaved dead whose names are not written in the book of life (v.12,15). Their works do not determine their lostness, which of course was already determined in that they did not receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ (John 3:36). Rather their works determine the measure of their experience of torment in the Lake of Fire forever, as illustrated in Luke 12:47-48.

The "Judgment Seat of Christ" is a judgment for believers in Christ (Second Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10-12). Some have even suggested that the "judgment seat of Christ" in Second Corinthians 5:10 is a different judgment than the "judgment seat of God" in Romans 14:10, even though I would actually see these two as valid parallels proving the deity of Christ. The basis of this judgment is the works of the believer, and the purpose is that the believer will receive reward or loss of reward (First Corinthians 3:9-15) in heaven and the coming Kingdom. This judgment must take place by Revelation chapter four, because reward crowns (Revelation 2:10) already appear on the heads of believers in heaven by Revelation 4:4 and beyond. While much more can and should be said about this judgment, this data suffices to show that the Judgment Seat of Christ does not occur at the same time, place, or for the same purpose as the Great White Throne Judgment, so they cannot be the same event.

Revelation 20:4-5 and Daniel 12:1-2 describe a different resurrection and judgment that take place after "the time of distress" for Israel (Dan.12:2) and before the start of the 1,000 year Kingdom (Rev.20:4). This is a reward judgment of believers also, but a different one from the Judgment Seat of Christ as that takes place by Revelation chapter four and this does not take place until chapter twenty.

Other judgments could be mentioned. Alva J. McLain included a listing of eleven different end time judgments in his class notes. Others have observed even more. But these are sufficient to show that "the general judgment theory" cannot be true because it has yielded to the temptation of forcing Bible passages to be parallel when they are not. The danger in this is that it robs the church of greater precision in preaching that in turn robs individual believers of insight, joy, assurance, and motivation for sanctification.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dangers of the Parallel Passage Approach

The observation and utilization of cross-references in the Bible is a valid and necessary principle of biblical interpretation. Some cross-references may be verbal, others conceptual, and still others because of extended parallel accounts. When used correctly, cross-references can properly inform one another.

There can be a danger, however, in turning the use of cross-references or parallel-passages into its own interpretive approach, or at least in exaggerating it.

Consider these possible dangers of turning this principle into an entire approach.

(1) It is often assumed that this is a biblical method even though the Bible itself never speaks of it.

(2) It can overlook other important interpretive principles that are more primary, such as observing context or grammar.

(3) There is a danger of reading into a text an interpretation drawn from another text. It may even tend to foist some preconceived interpretation from one passage upon another.

(4) It forgets that every passage makes its own contribution first, before it can be correlated with other passages.

(5) It falls prey to the fallacy that similarities must be parallels (Ocam's razor). Interpreters must not assume that because two or more things look similar that they are parallel, or identical.

(6) It wrongly presupposes that the natural reading of a passage is the one that fits best with other passages. It is more correct to conclude that the natural reading of a passage is what fits best with its own context.

(7) It seems to compel interpreters to force scriptural details to fit together rather than to allow each passage to make its own contribution. The systematizing of biblical truth must not be the imposition of a system over the Bible in order to make things fit. Systematic Theology must have large enough categories to allow passages to teach their own truth. This requires new categories to be considered in the compilation of Systematic Theology (for example, "Gentile-ology" and "Israelology" in addition to "Ecclesiology").

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Daniel's People...Daniel 9:24

I want first to refer readers back to two previous articles. On December 11, 2009 I wrote about the dangers of "reinterpreting" Old Testament passages rather than "interpreting" them according to their own intention. In that article we clarified that New Testament writers do not deny, contradict, or change ("reinterpret") the intended meaning of Old Testament texts. On December 21, 2009 I used Isaiah 7:14 as an illustrative test case, showing that Matthew used this passage in the same way Isaiah intended it - Matthew did not "reinterpret" Isaiah.

Now, from Daniel 9:24, we observe the introduction to Daniel's record of the prophecy of the "70 Weeks". Daniel 9:24 records, "Seventy weeks have been decreed FOR YOUR PEOPLE AND FOR YOUR HOLY CITY". Daniel's "holy city" is Jerusalem. Attempts to make this a "heavenly" or "spiritual" Jerusalem do not work for the entire context through Daniel 9:27 specifies the city of Jerusalem. New Testament passages, such as Hebrews 12:22 do not change or reinterpret Daniel 9:24.

Daniel's "people" are in particular the people of the house of Judah, i.e. the Jewish people. Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity as one of them. Daniel's prayer and resultant prophecy of chapter nine are in the context of praying according to the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the end of the 70 years of captivity for the Jews (9:2). There is no shift in the identity of Daniel's people as we come to 9:24. The 70 Weeks of Daniel's prophecy are for the Jewish people, Daniel's people. Attempts to reinterpret "Daniel's people" to include the Church are improper attempts change the intent of Daniel's prophecy. New Testament passages like Romans 2:28-29, Romans 11:17ff., Second Corinthians 3:6 and others indicate that Church-age believers are grafted into (joined to and participate in) Israel's covenant promises. Such passages do not redefine Israel as the Church (nor does Galatians 6:16). Neither are such passages reinterpreting "Daniel's people" to include Church-age believers in the 70 weeks of Daniel's prophecy.

So, Daniel's people are the Jews and his prophecy centers on Jerusalem. The details of all 70 Weeks of Daniel's prophecy, including the 70th Week (9:27), pertain to Daniel's people - not to the Church.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Iranian "Harsh Blow" on February 11?

This just in today . . . "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejead says the nation will deliver a harsh blow to 'global arrogance' on this year's anniversary of the Islamic Revolution." This would be February 11.


Friday, January 29, 2010

From London with Love??

These pictures are of Muslims marching through the STREETS OF LONDON during
their recent "Religion of PEACE Demonstration" !!