Ezekiel 34 – Introduction -1

shepherd-carrying-sheep

My wife and I were reading in Ezekiel 34 a few nights ago.

During the reading, it occurred to me that this passage is very New Testamental.

By that I mean, many phrases within this passage are directly addressed in the New Testament.

You know, I would consider this passage to be very modern, dare I say it – even applicable to us today.

Lets read the first three verses to get a gist of the passage, and then let me know what you think!

Ezekiel 34:1-3

1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?
3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.

It seems the Lord is using the picture of the shepherd/sheep to describe the spiritual relationships between the leaders of Israel (both political and religious) and the “rank and file” of Israel – what we might call “the laity” in today’s Christian environment.

The principle complaint against the shepherds was that they fed themselves, to the exclusion of feeding the flock. Of course the leaders fed some of the flock, but as we will see, it wasn’t an enviable condition to be in if you were a sheep!

The shepherds of Israel ate the fat.

It seems that the word fat in the first phrase of the charge may be translated as milk (some translations use “curds”). This would show a progression of abuse on the part of the shepherds as to what they demand from the sheep. Since the milk of the sheep was not restricted from the shepherds, the Lords complaint must be regarding the abuse of this privilege.

Excessive taxation and the demand of religious obligations was “milking the flock”, in a very real manner. Today when we talk of “milking it”, I think we are using the term in a similar manner.

The shepherds of Israel clothed themselves with wool.

shepherdcarrysheep4

Sheep are to supply wool. It is one of their principal functions. So again, the issue must be the abuse of the privilege. In the same way that the milk supplied a temporary need, the wool supplied a more permanent benefit to the shearers. But the next phrase seems to indicate that those that were giving the benefits of milk and wool were not being fed, which reinforces the original charge against the shepherds. They (the spiritual leaders of Israel) were taking from the flock, but not feeding them!

The shepherds of Israel slaughter the fat ones.

The final function of a sheep is to supply food to the owner. It seems the shepherds fed these particular sheep. Please understand this is not an enviable position to be in.

If you were starving, at least the shepherds of Israel were just using you (taking milk and wool), instead of intending to kill you.

I suppose a question comes to mind…

How do you see the Good Shepherd?

  • Does the Good Shepherd require milk, wool and meat from His flock? Selah.
  • Is He demanding more than you can supply?
    • Do you feel that you are not able to satisfy the demands of the Master?
  • Do you worry about His intentions?
    • When things are going well, do you worry that you are being set up?

Jesus rescuing lamb

By asking these questions to the sheperds of Isreal, Ezekiel is condemning these actions. The character of God in not such, that His intent is to simply take take take.

He does expect fruit from His followers, which is simply the natural outgrowth of abiding in Him. He feeds us, clothes us and provides life, that we might produce fruit for His glory.

Consider the difference. The true Shepherd is fundamentally different than the shepherds Ezekiel is preaching about in this passage. In the follwing posts, I hope we will find the contrast to be obvious!

Let us give thanks for our Good Shepherd!


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Chatting with a Dispy – Introduction

mount-olives-split-2

As many who follow this blog may know, I used to be a single minded, zealous dispensationalist.

My passion for “the truth” was unassailable, and I would keep myself from any teaching that might weaken my biblically pure understanding of “the truth”.

To be anything other than a “dispy” was a sign of theological weakness and compromise with the world.

Looking back at my attitudes and actions, I was an offensive blow hard that built walls around people, and tore down bridges of discussion.

I lived in this condition for decades and only by the grace of God, did I allow myself to consider other biblically based opinions.

Currently I consider myself a post dispensational Christian.

A more important lesson learned was not simply a theological understanding, but the manner of discussion when chatting with fellow believers of a different stance. The Word is clear, and provides a challenge for this writer!

Gracious words

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person

With Gentleness and Respect

1 Peter 3:15

…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

After this shift in my eschatological thinking and manner of discussion, a brother in the Lord asked if I would visit with a brother who held to the dispensational doctrines. The discussion was to center around Zechariah 14.

I gladly accepted the invitation.

This and following posts will provide to the reader the discussion as it occurred. I have changed the web site owners name to “Brother” for the sake of his privacy, and each of my responses are italicized and indented for clarity sake

With that introduction, lets meet together at our next post to begin chattin’ with a “Dispy.”

Thanks for visiting and as always, I love getting comments from those who read this blog.

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 6

Question GIF

Welcome back my friends.

I have finally got a chance to get back to my bottomless pit study. I am looking forward to this portion, since I hope it is the passage that holds the most information!

Lets get started!

Rev 20 :1

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain

Questions

  • Is this the same angel as in Rev 9:1?
  • How heavy is this chain?
  • What is the key made of?

I guess I have more questions than answers for this verse, but to think that the chain is a literal physical(?) chain that somehow restricts spiritual beings seems farfetched to me.

Rev 20:2

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

As an aside, a brother has also asked about the thousand year teaching and if Satan is bound at the present time. To avoid being distracted from the bottomless pit study, I will post something on that topic after this study.

Rev 20 :3

and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

chain gif

What happened to the chain?

Did the chain have any part in sealing the dragon in the pit?

Satan was thrown into the bottomless pit. This is the first time any one is described as actually going into the pit – earlier, some locust type creatures escaped the pit.

Regarding the thousand year topic, and the phrase “deceive the nations no more” see my next posts. I want to focus on the pit for now, though there be many topics in this passage that call out to me to my distraction!

We know that the dragon is (or will be) in the bottomless pit. This verse tells us that. Golly, even this verse states that the pit is simply a temporary confinement for the dragon, since he will be loosed at some time. What I can’t seem to find out is if any other creature actually is thrown into the pit.

If the pit has some characteristics of the grave associated with it in John’s mind, it might make some sense when death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire. I think that since the pit is associated with sheol/gehenna, the bottomless pit may actually give up her dead into the lake of fire. It seems to make some sense to me, but I am open to comments.

This study has been interesting in my opinion since it shows the shallowness of my understanding of one topic in this difficult book. As you surely noticed through the posts, I had more questions than answers.

This is acceptable in my mind, since we are dealing with a symbolic book, crafted by the Spirit of God through a man Jesus loved.

The message of the Bible is an eternal message, a message that needs to be studied and wrestled with to make it your own. Time and effort is required to understand the message, and we have less than a century to do it in our lives.

Garfield

It is not a Garfield comic, that can be understood in 3 seconds and as quickly forgotten!

I suppose the only thing I know for sure is that the pit is a place I want to avoid.

He has made that possible!

Thank you Jesus!


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Faith – Introduction

Faith 2

I was in Sunday School class early this morning and had the opportunity to discuss Christian maturity with the teacher. As we chatted, we wandered off into the subject of faith.

For the next few posts, I hope to delve a little into the concept of faith, and its real world applications for our lives.

Faith

He had told me there are a number of Greek words in the New Testament that are translated “faith” in our English Bible, and I let him know I thought otherwise.

So I came home and did a quick study, using the Blue Letter Bible web site. The following table gives a summary of the New Testament Greek words used when describing our English word “faith”.

Strongs # Greek Transliterated English Equivalent
New Testament (Greek) for “faith”
G571 ἄπιστος apistos that believe not, unbelieving, faithless, unbeliever, infidel, thing incredible, which believe not
G1680 ἐλπίς elpis hope, faith
G3640 ὀλιγόπιστος oligopistos of little faith
G4102 πίστις pistis faith, assurance, believe, belief, them that believe, fidelity
G4103 πιστός pistos faithful, believe, believing, true, faithfully, believer, sure not tr
G6066 ὀλιγοπιστία oligopistia littleness of faith

faith 4

I’m glad he challenged me to look it up and I think we were both sort of correct.

The root word found in each of the above greek words is pistos/pistis, and when checked in that web site I like (see above), both are derived from the Greek word “peíthō”.

Strong’s Definitions
πείθω peíthō, pi’-tho; a primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy, to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively, to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty):—agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) conflent, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield. (Boldened words will be topics for next few blogs)
As our study progresses into each of the greek terms defined above, I would like to explore the concept of faith.
For the short term, I would like to consider the root word peíthō, as it is the most interesting of the greek words above, primarily since it has been the word I have been recently studying.
Watch for my next post – I hope you will AGREE to come visit.

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – Thousand Years Part 2

Question GIF

Let’s continue in our second post based on the “Questions I’ve Been Asked”, regarding the binding of Satan, and more specifically, the term “a thousand years” in the book of Revelation.

You see, a brother asked me about the thousand year teaching in the Book of Revelation and if Satan is bound at the present time.

I hope I can address these concerns properly.

Let’s read the passage one more time.

Rev 20:2

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

As I mentioned at the end of our last post, this next question has been the most influential in my understanding of the passage.

1000-22.) Does the literalness of a passage increase due to the use of a precise number?

When John is writing this passage, he uses a specific number, and because of this, must mean what he writes, right?

(And isn’t that a cool gif? —->)

We must take his description of the thousand years literally since he specifically uses that specific term and did not modify it by using terms like “approximately” or “about” or “more than”. I must have heard this argument a million times! – Literally a million times!!!

But is that how a Jewish man would communicate 2000 years ago (not exactly 2000 years ago, but again, you know what I mean, right)?

John was a man steeped in the Old Testament, and surely knew of the instances the prophets used the very same term. Granted, sometimes the prophets would be defining a population, the result of a census, or a sum of money, and that seems to be an obvious use of the term in a literal sense. But sometimes the prophets used the term “thousand” to define an indefinite time, or an extended time.

Consider the following passages

Deuteronomy 1:11
May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!

Was the LORD going to implement a birth control system once the population grew to a certain point? (Don’t be so sarcastic Carl!)

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Ok, follow me on this – let’s assume that one generation is 40 years (just for giggles!)

OK, lets make one more assumption, and that is that Moses recieved this promise aproximately 2,000 years before the birth of our Lord. I know it was less, but let me make the math easy!

A thousand generations would be forty thousand years. 40,000 years! That means that this promise ceases to be valid in the year 38,000.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad my great great great …. grandchildren have a chance, but honestly, what about my lineage in the year 38,001? (Ok Carl now you are being ridiculous!)

Deuteronomy 32:30
How could one have chased a thousand,
and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
and the LORD had given them up?

Although there are many instances of small contingencies of Israeli men taking on multitudes (I am thinking of Gideon and Jonathon for instance), I don’t know if the exact thousand to one or five thousand to one ratios ever exactly occurred.

The Psalms are very descriptive and poetic and often use terms in a very symbolic fashion – not very much unlike the book of Revelation.

Psalm 50:10
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.

I am sure God owns all the cattle. I guess I need to google the actual number of hills on earth – I am sure it is one thousand exactly!

Again Carl – too sarcastic – tune it down a smidge!

Psalm 68:17
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands;
the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.

Twenty thousand chariots are a lot of chariots!

Psalm 84:10
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Could the psalmist be using “thousand” days as an expression extending beyond two years and 9 months? Why is he so short sigted? I would have used a million instead of a thousand – At least then I would have over 2700 years of being in His courts!

Psalm 90:4
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.

Yesterday and a watch at night are two different spans of time, so if we are goings to be ‘literalists” regarding the use of the term thousand, we need to consider the literalness of some of the other time descriptions being used.

Psalm 91:7
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

The psalmist seems to use thousand and ten thousand interchangeably. Interesting.

Psalm 105:8
He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

The covenant is referred to as being forever and the generations are numbered at a thousand. Is there a hint here that thousand means more than a thousand?

It seems that when the writers of Scripture wanted to define an extended number or time , they used the term thousand.

When they wanted to really blow your mind Scripture writers would use the term “murias”, which comes down into the English language as the word myriad. This term seems to give the impression of an innumerable number.

Although this is a short study, it is rooted in the Old Testament. As I grow as a Christian, I am increasingly impressed with the importance of comparing Scripture with Scripture. especially in the book of Revelation.

I look forward to comments and questions, especially passages of Scripture that may help in understanding this topic better.


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 5

Question GIF

On to the next verse we find in the book of Revelation, and trying to find some answers to the Bottomless Pit question a brother set me on to research. It seems I still have four verses to consider.

I will address the last two in the next post.

Lets consider our first verse.

Rev 11 :7
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

Nagging questions…..

Who is the beast?

  • He fights against the two witnesses (whoever they represent I don’t know, but at the very least they are on God’s side).
  • He is coming out of the pit so he probably smells of death (2 Cor 2:16)

Is his ascension a present activity or is it describing the beasts origin?

In other words, does the beast ascend to make war, or has he ascended previously and John is simply describing the origin/source of the Beast?

The word ascendeth in the Greek is the Strong # G305,

  • verb – present active participle – nominative singular neuter
  • anabaino an-ab-ah’-ee-no: to go up
  • arise, ascend (up), climb (go, grow, rise, spring) up, come (up).

Notice that Johns verb choice is a present active participle. I do not know greek, but from what I can find out, the use of a present tense signifies continuity, or continuously coming out of the abyss.

One website that tries to explain greek grammar states that the present tense signifies “a continuous action, habitual action, often reflects a lifestyle”

(Now I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time considering the continual ascending of the beast as a lifestyle, but the point is taken, that this does not seem to be a one time event.)

Other than defining where the beast is rising from, this verse doesn’t shed much light on the pit.

Rev 17 :8
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

What is going on here?

Dang – I am glad the only thing I have to consider is the portion describing the bottomless pit, cause this thing about “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” is simply beyond me. Also, the book of life thing is confusing for me, so I am glad I don’t have to address that topic!

What I do have to address is the pit.

What does this passage teach me concerning the pit?

  • Well – the beast comes out of it – but we saw that in an earlier passage (Rev 11:7).
  • Could this be the same time, same ascendancy as in Rev 11:7?
  • I think John is describing a different time, this being the time(s) the beast goes into damnation/perdition.
  • Rev 11:7 speak of the beasts ascendancy and seeming success over the two witnesses.
  • This passage speaks of the downfall of the beast.

I am tempted to think that the mention of the bottomless pit is more of a description of this beasts origin, as opposed to defining a physical location. I don’t have much to base that on other than this is a highly symbolic book and trying to identify a location for the pit may be a fools errand.

Also, whatever John is trying to describe escapes me since his verb tenses are confusing to me. The beast shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and yet is not, and yet is.

I guess the one thing that I know is that the pit is a real bad place – real bad! Other than that, I am not seeing much more that this verse is telling me of the bottomless pit.

If you have some input, I would welcome it! Hope to see you again for our final post in this series.


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Conditional Security – 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

1 Thessalonians 3:1-8

1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone,

2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,

3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.

4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.

5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you–

7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.

8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.

Oh how he loved them Thessalonians!

Paul proves his love when he speaks of going without, of sacrificing his brother Timothy and to be left alone in Athens due to his concern over the Thessalonians.

But what was Paul’s concern?

Though he had warned the young believers of distress, pain and suffering to enter into their lives, he was concerned that these forewarned trials might still nullify his work in the believers.

You see, Paul’s concern was their faith. For these believers to be “moved” by afflictions is a threat that Paul could not endure. Would the believers maintain faith in the midst of trials?

It seems Paul’s faith in the Thessalonians faith was a bit weak – but fully understandable, since the Thessalonians faith was being tested, and their faith seemingly hadn’t been tested prior to this. Beyond all this, Jesus is the only One we really can trust to be fully faithful!

Wagging Tail

But what else was Paul trying to infer/imply? It is interesting that the term “moved” in the Greek, generally refers to a dog waggin his tail.

Strongs Concordance

Moved – σαίνω saínō, sah’-ee-no; akin to G4579; to wag (as a dog its tail fawningly), i.e. (generally) to shake (figuratively, disturb):—move.

Isn’t that interesting, that Paul uses such a word. Somewhere else in his writings he refers to troubles as being not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.

Paul is referring to trials “moving” the believer. Is he implying the trials have the potential to control the believer? Like a dog controls his tail? Am I making too much of this?

Maybe.

But if trials have the potential to control a believers life, and if the believer being controlled by these trials would nullify the work of the apostle….

But alas, Paul had no reason to fear that his work in the believers would be in vain. They were standing strong in their faith, exhibiting love to each other and desire for the apostle.

Which implies that apostles work being in vain (empty) would be that they did not stand strong in their faith.

Strongs Concordance

Vain, κενός kenós, ken-os’; apparently a primary word; empty (literally or figuratively):—empty, (in) vain.

Hang on Carl – according to some great Bible teachers, if these Christians were not strong in their faith, they would still be Christians. The work of the apostle would still be evident, just a bit dimmed and blunt.

But not nullified Paul!

Come on – they gotta still be Christians!


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 4

Question GIF

Welcome back friends

In this post, we will continue looking at the question of the Bottomless Pit by delving into chapter 9 of the book of Revelation.

So lets get at it!

Rev 9 :11

They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

Who are “they”?

Verse three describes locusts coming out of the smoke that was released from the bottomless pit, and the following verses describe these “locusts”.

Locust gif

Locusts are a common picture of judgement in the Old Testament. Even as discussed in the previous post, when I referred to Exodus 10:14-15, the darkness was created by the locusts. Joel also describes a locust invasion. I will leave it to the reader to consider if John may be using some of Joel’s writings in these verses.

These “locusts” that come out of the pit have a king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit.

Some of the things to notice about the bottomless pit are

  • There is authority within the “Bottomless Pit”
  • Remember earlier that we found that it took authority to open the bottomless pit.
    • Is the authority within the pit the same as the authority over the pit? (Me thinks not!)

The King of the Bottomless Pit is named. Abaddon

This is very interesting since the Hebrew word that translates Abaddon is G3 Abaddon (ab-ad-down’) n/p.

    • a destroying angel
      • (abstractly) a perishing
      • (concretely) Hades [intensive from H6] KJV: destruction.Root(s): H6 Apollyon

As an aside, it is of note that this angel (Abaddon) is a destroying angel, not necessarily a torturing angel.

If John is considering that the pit represents death, which I think he is, the king of the pit, being a destroying angel, seems to give some weight to the annihilation theory of the existence of the damned.

Of course a little later in our study, death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14).

If I am consistent with John, this would mean that death and hell – that is, hades or the grave – are thrown into the lake of fire to experience the second death.

That is amazing!

Death is put to death!

Jesus did much more than I can imagine, did He not?


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Conditional Security – Jude 5

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

Jude 1:5

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

Can Jude be any less blunt?

Wow – these Israelites, whom Jesus saved out of Israel, were destroyed by Jesus later, due to absence of faith.
Did I read that right?
OK, so Jude may be talking of the people, the family of Israel, the tribes, the entire gaggle of people that were delivered from Egypt. I get that.
But those that Jesus destroyed? No that is not what I think it means!
Jesus destroyed those who did not believe.
Those without individual faith are destroyed by Jesus.
Let that sink in. Can it get any more disturbing to the modern Christian to hear a statement such as this!
OK, lets get back to the point. Could the first deliverance refer to simply being delivered from the tyrants of Israel? I’m thinking the first deliverance was a type, a foreshadowing of a greater deliverance, of a greater salvation, of a greater redemption intended for all who saw the acts of God, heard the words from Moses and internally exercised faith in the God of Israel.
What was the difference between one who was destroyed and one who wasn’t, even though both had been delivered? The duration of their faith separated these two groups of folk – all believed once, some believed continuously.
Only one condition, and that condition is the individuals duration of faith in the Savior, and Jude is preaching this story to believers.
one condition
Seems kinda obvious as to the intent of the author. One condition to avoid destruction in the Christian experience.
And that condition is continuous faith. Dang the people above made the one decision to join the deliverance from Egypt. And were destroyed. By none other that the One who initially delivered them.
Remember Jesus did not say “You must become born again” (referring to a point in time!)
Nope – He didn’t say it that way, and that wasn’t His message.
You must

Be

born again (a state of being!)

Consider!

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 3

Question GIF

Thanks for coming back to our study.

In this post, we will begin to get to the meat of the question by delving into the book of Revelation. This is where the modifier “bottomless” is applied to the pit concept, and is the subject of the original question! (Finally, eh?)

I have continued to underline the English word in each verse that has been translated from the Greek “abussos”. Note that sometimes the word is translated as “pit” and sometimes it is translated as “bottomless pit”.

Lets begin the book of Revelation.

abussos

As an aside, a very interesting layout within the Book of Revelation is the placement and structure of “Abussos” in Revelation.

Consider the symmetry of the Word of God. It is amazing to see the unnoticed structure of the Word and the beauty of the message, not only in the content, but in the presentation of the message!

Abussos in Revelation

A Rev. 9:1-2, Rev. 9:11. Key – Let loose – Locust scourge. The Angel called in Hebrew Abaddon in Greek Apollyon.

B Rev. 11:7. The Beast ascends out of the abyss, overcomes saints
B Rev. 17:8. The Beast ascends out of the abyss. Lamb overcomes (Rev. 17:14).

A Rev. 20:1-3. Key – Shut up – Loosed – Deceive (Rev. 20:8). Serpent, called Diabolos (Greek) and Satan (Hebrew).

Our first verse to consider is found in chapter 9.

Rev 9 :1

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.

Who received the key to the bottomless pit? The fifth angel? The star?

As I glanced at this verse I initially assumed it was the star that received the key to the bottomless pit, but considering the mission of each of the seven angels in the book of Revelation, (see below) it seems possible that the recipient of the key was the fifth angel.

Other translations seem to favor the opposite, that is that the star that fell receives the key to the bottomless pit. I assumed that John may be assigning the term “star” to Satan, but after checking with other New Testament instances of a star falling, came up short. I was recalling Luke 10:18, where Jesus saidI beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Not quite the same, but a study of the word “lightning” in Matthew 24:27 is very interesting! Check out Return of the LORD as Lightning? if interested.

Whoever obtained the key, one principle truth comes through in this verse regarding the bottomless pit. Authority was required to open the bottomless pit! The key was required to open the shaft and representative of authority over the shaft. Think of it this way. Who has a key to your home or apartment. Those that have authority to enter it. A key represents authority.

As another aside, I found it interesting to consider other verses referring to the assignments of the angels in Revelation.

8:7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

8:8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.

8:10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.

8:12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

9:1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit

9:13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God,

11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Back to the topic at hand – that is, the bottomless pit.

Rev 9:2,3

He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.

Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.

Who opened the bottomless pit? Don’t know! (see above)

Some of the things to notice about this verse are

  • Smoke arose out of the shaft of the pit
  • Sun and air were darkened by the smoke.
  • Smoke was like the smoke of a great furnace.

smoke 1 gif

This verse doesn’t teach that the pit is the great furnace. Simply that the shaft of the pit, when opened, spewed forth smoke. This smoke is likened to the smoke of a great furnace.

So many similes and metaphors – Helpppppp!

Darkness and smoke (along with the appearance of locusts) are associated with Old Testament themes of judgement and death.

Consider the following.

Exod 10:14-15

The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again.
They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

Joel 2:2

a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Joel 2:10

The earth quakes before them;
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.

Also, consider Genesis 19:24-28, for themes of judgement, angelic messengers and a description of smoke as of out of a furnace,

Genesis 19:1, 13, 24-28
1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth
13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”
24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.
25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
Could John be thinking of some of these passages when he is penning this portion of the book? He was immersed in the Old Testament. The book of Revelation is full of Old Testament quotes and references. I wonder….
It is important to remember that smoke signifies fire, or at least a lingering burn, and that the smoke is part of that which was burned up.800px-Dachau_006

You know, my wife and I visited Dachau in Germany a few years back and in our exploring of the WWII concentration camp, we stumbled upon a small shrine, where it is said that thousands of Jews rested, in the form of ashes. The rest of their corporeal bodies went up in the smoke! A harsh truth is found in that shrine.
The wickedness of man seems to know no bounds, and the furnaces of Dachau are a testament to that wickedness. Man has no right to take life. He did not create life.
No so with God. The bottomless pit may speak of this judgement.
Hopefully, further study will clarify the “Bottomless Pit” and it’s part in the judgement of sinful men and rebellious angels.
Hope to visit with you during our next post. May God bless you and encourage you in your walk with Him.


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Conditional Security – Hebrews 11:13-16

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Hebrews 11:13-16

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.

16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

They desire a better country!

Because of this desire, that is the desire that the Old Testament saints had, that is their witness of being strangers and exiles on the earth.
Therefore…  Therefore 2
Because these saints did not think of their previous land, (because if they did they would have returned), God is not ashamed to be called their God.
What?
Something is missing here.  The Old Testament saints decided to think and speak of a better country, a better place to be, a better homeland.  This decision to think and speak this certain way impacted God’s attitude towards them. 
God’s attitude was determined by these Old Testament saints decision to think correctly.  And the result of God not being ashamed? He has prepared for them a City
Oh, to have right thoughts, to be aligned with His thoughts in the midst of a busy day, full of distractions,  concerns and problems.   Desire a better country, brother and sister! Desire the heavenly one, where the Heavenly One is.  May He not be ashamed to be called our God.

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – Thousand Years – Part 1

Question GIF

Our first 2 posts under the topic of “Questions I’ve been Asked” have been somewhat controversial!

Lets start this one off with the binding of Satan. (Carl – can’t you find something a bit less debateable?) More specifically, lets look at the term “a thousand years” in the book of Revelation and how it relates to the binding of Satan.

You see, a brother asked me about the thousand year teaching in the Book of Revelation and if Satan is bound at the present time.

I hope I can address these concerns properly.

Let’s read the passage first

Rev 20:2

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

Revelation 20:2 is the first of six references of a thousand years between verse 2 and verse 7. I have argued before that since John repeats himself six times, he must be making a point about the actual length of time that Satan is bound.

But lets think about this.

1.) Does the literalness of a passage increase due to the repetition of a word?

1000 multi

If repetition is a method to emphasize literalness, consider the following passage. Same author – John – writing down the words of Jesus, in describing Himself as a “door”. No Christian I know will say that Jesus is a literal door. (Hint – it is a metaphor for something greater!)

John 10:1-2

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

John 10:7

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

John 10:9

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

I do hope that this one instance (there are many more!) of repetition of a word shows the weakness of this argument. I understand there are differences between the two passages (six repetitions in the book of Revelation, as opposed to only four in John 10), but the point needs to be considered.

Our next post will consider if the literalness of a passage increases due to the use of a precise number? I think understanding the question of precision has actually been the most beneficial for me in this study. I hope you will come join me.

I look forward to comments and questions, especially passages of Scripture that may help in understanding this topic better.


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 2

Question GIF

Thanks for coming to visit and enter into our study on the bottomless pit.

My hope is that with a bit of study and a few choice questions, a bit of clarity may come to some.

So, lets Consider the Bible and what it teaches about the bottomless pit. We will begin with looking at the greek equivalent of the english word “pit”.

The greek word “abussos”, translated pit or abyss, is the direction the current post will follow. The definition is as follows, per Strongs Concordance.

abussos

Strong’s Number: G12
Greek Base Word: ἄβυσσος

Usage: Deep, (bottomless) pit

Detailed definition:

  1. Bottomless.
  2. Unbounded.
  3. The abyss.
    1. The pit.
    2. The immeasurable depth.
    3. Of Orcus, a very deep gulf or chasm in the lowest parts of the earth used as the common receptacle of the dead and especially as the abode of demons.

Where is this greek term “abussos” found in the New Testament Scriptures? This term is used once in Luke, once in Romans and 7 times in Revelation. This post will deal with the first two references.

I have italicized the specific term/terms that “abussos” has been translated as.

Luke 8 :31

And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.

This is the story of the demons and the pigs, where Jesus approached a man by the name of Legion (since he had so many demons in him), and the demons began to deal with the Messiah, (as if they had any bargaining power). The first thing they request is not to be sent to the abussos, the pit.

My initial thoughts about the pit have been justified in this very verse – it is bad, real bad!

Other than that, the primary issues I understand are:

  • Demons are associated with the abyss (pit).
  • Jesus had the authority to send the demons there.
  • The demons knew it.

It is of interest that the demons ended up “down the steep place into the lake and drowned”

The lake is not the pit, (or it would have been called a pit, I suppose), but a certain link between the pit, water and demons might be found. The demons requested to be in the swine, and the Lord allowed it, but the host swine for the demons did not exist long.

Where did the demons go after their host (the pigs) were destroyed? This text gives us no answers to this question!

Rom 10 :7

“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

Paul is directly associating the abussos, “the deep” with death. He takes Dt 31:11-14 and freely translates it into the Christian experience.

Dt 30 11 & Rom 10

First off, notice how Paul interprets Dt 31:13, where he defines “beyond the sea” as descend into the deep (abussos). This connection of the sea with the pit seems to come up occasionally in this study, and it may be beneficial to note.

Rant #1

OK here comes rant # 1 in this post.
As I continue trying to understand the Bible, I am finding it increasingly important to see how the apostles understood the Old Testament.
A number of challenges have erupted in my studies and I realized that I want to depend on my cultural settings to find the meaning in the passage.
This is not wise!

Ticked off

This freedom of the apostles to interpret the Old Testament (differently than I) used to really tick me off, since I was a dyed in the wool literalist.

It was difficult to defend my understanding of some of the promises in the Old Testament. I kept banging up against this type of passage, where an apostle would not interpret an Old Testament passage per Carl’s methods.

How dare they

How dare those apostles!

Instead, let’s consider a few lessons.

  1. The Apostles Consistency
    • The apostles are being consistent with Jesus’s understanding of the Old Testament. Remember when Jesus referred to “the Temple” (John 2:19 -22) being destroyed. Everyone (including me, if I had been present) misunderstood Him. The apostles no longer misundertand Him. (Luke 24:45). If we seek to apply the apostles teaching according to our understanding, we may be missing out on what the message is trying to communicate to us.
  2. My Growing Understanding
    • By that I mean, I am constantly finding passages that challenge my previous understanding of the Biblical message. And this is OK – heck this is great, since it allows me to remain(?) humble. (hahaha!)

As an aside, I heard the story of a highly respected theologian hundreds of years ago, who wrote a massive commentary before he was thirty, and then spent his life defending it. Either he was a genius, or too stubborn to admit error as the Word challenged his beliefs. This approach does not appeal to me. I am convinced that the Christian life is a life of repentance and a willingness to adjust our thinking and actions to glorify God.

Often, it seems that one passage will impact many prior beliefs. My repentance from a wooden literal-ism has brought about more questions than answers. Not a comfortable position to be in as one who prided himself in his ability to answer bible questions! But being stubborn in error is still error!

In conclusion, I am open to corrective teaching, and this blog is one avenue to find that correction. As a matter of fact, I look forward to finding an apostle quote or refer to an Old Testament passage. It makes me stop, consider and evaluate why he may have used that particular passage in his message.

End of Rant #1

With all that said, the points of interest in Romans 10 seem to be

  • Paul associates “the deep” (pit) with “beyond the sea”.
  • The pit is associated with death.
  • No mention of satan, demons, torment, fire, smoke or darkness is mentioned in this passage.

I hope we can continue in our next post, where we will continue with passages in the book of Revelation that address the “pit”.

May you have a great day and continue to seek Him. Hope to see you during our next post – Promise no rants on the next post!


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Conditional Security – 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

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1 Corinthians 1:4-9

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–

6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–

7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I would look at verses that seem to support the eternal security teaching and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these passages.

Today’s passage is found in 1 Corinthians 1:8, but I would like to consider the passage from verses 4 through 9.

Is Paul seeking to instruct the believers in Corinth about eternal security?  Or is he breaching upon their lack of stability?

Security and Confirmation

Verse 8 clearly states that Jesus Christ shall confirm them unto the end, which must surely mean that once a person becomes a true believer, Jesus Christ is responsible to independently supply the believers security and deliver that person to God at their death.  At least that is how I read it in the past and suppose it is the common understanding among those who lean toward the eternal security teaching.

But I do have a few concerns.

I would like to start with Paul’s description of the Corinthians confirmation in verse 6. The passage is telling me that the testimony of Christ was confirmed in the Corinthians. This is the very same word that Paul uses two verses later in verse 8.

So lets consider what is going on in these verses.

TestimonyIn verse 7, Paul states the purpose of the confirmation described in verse 6.  The testimony of Christ – that is the witness/proof of Christ, was confirmed in the Corinthians via the gifts they received, the knowledge and utterance they experienced.  The confirmation had a purpose. The confirmation had two participants, that is, God supplied the gifts, but the Corinthians exercised these gifts of knowledge and utterance. This is important to consider.

In verse 8, Jesus Christ is confirming the believers for the purpose of presenting them as blameless in the day of Christ.

Lets think about this.

Security Synonym?

confirmation 1Is confirmation a synonym (a word that means the same) for security?

As I read this passage in my earlier belief of eternal security, I would have to say yes! But the question begs to be answered honestly.  Please remember that security has synonyms such as safety, defended, protected, sheltered, unharmed and shielded.  Confirmation does not relate to these concepts.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Additional Questions

confirmationIs this confirmation something that is performed only in heaven?  Or is this confirmation something that is being accomplished within the believer’s life?

Of course, if it is some type of mystical confirmation in heaven that is a completely independent activity of Jesus Christ alone without the participation of the believer, then adherents to the eternal security may have a valid argument with this verse.

But if the believer participates in this confirmation by obeying the direction (however imperfectly ) of the Master, following His teaching and seeking His direction, then somehow verse 8 includes a human component, a willingness and desire to conform to a blameless life, under the power and enabling of the Lord.

The greek word used in both verse six and eight has the the root meaning of “to be firm”.

When used of persons, it signifies someone who is trustworthy, someone who inspires confidence.  In verse eight, the verb is in the future tense and active voice. The active voice represents Jesus Christ (the subject) as the doer or performer of the action.

Let me ask this simple question. As Jesus is confirming these believers to be blameless, would it not be obvious to all?  Remember that to confirm someone is to produce someone who is firm, trustworthy, and one in whom you can trust and depend on.

Would not this fruit be evident in the believer’s life?  A life that is becoming more like Jesus. He is certainly firm, trustworthy and One in whom we can place our confidence!

This is most interesting since many in the eternal security camp may speak of those who have no outward witness of Christ living in them as still being believers that are eternally secure and guaranteed entry into heaven, simply due to some statement of belief in the past.

break covenantOf course this is a difficult statement to say in these days of sensitivity, where we must not offend any.  But I wonder what engenders God’s trust in a believer who breaks covenant without concern and who claims a vital relationship with Him in the midst of obvious sin and rebellion.

Consider.

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – OT References

Question GIF

In our first study on the topic, “The Bottomless Pit” I offered a list of verses of all OT references to the English word “pit” terms can be found in a post called “Questions I’ve Been Asked – What about the Bottomless Pit – OT References”)

This so happens to be quite a list, so I have supplied links for each of these words, with a brief definition (Strongs). The term most likely sought in this study is #6 – H7585 sh’owl (Sheol)


1.) H875 ‘er (be-ayr’) n-f.
a pit
especially a well

בְּאֵר (H875)


2.) H953 bowr (bore) n-m.
a pit hole (especially one used as a cistern or a prison)

בּוֹר (H953)


3.) H1360 gebe (geh’-beh) n-m.
a reservoir
by analogy, a marsh

גֶּבֶא (H1360)


4.) H1475 guwmmats (goom-mawts’) n-m.
a pit

גּוּמָּץ, gûmmāṣ


5.) H6354 pachath (pakh’-ath) n-m.
a pit, especially for catching animals

פַּחַת (H6354)


6.) H7585 sh’owl (sheh-ole’) (or shol {sheh-ole’}) n-f.
Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates

שְׁאוֹל, šĕʾôl (H7585)


7.) H7745 shuwchah (shoo-khaw’) n-f.
a chasm

שׁוּחָה (H7745)


8.) H7816 shchuwth (shekh-ooth’) n-f.
Pit

שְׁחוּת (H7816)


9.) H7882 shiychah (shee-khaw’) n-f.
a pit-fall

שִׁיחָה (H7882)


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