Return of the LORD as Lightning?

 Lightning

We were at a Bible study a while back, chatting about Matthew 24 and the Lords soon return.

I had just been studying this passage and some of the words contained in the passage that may have been understood differently by the Lord’s audience than by us. Let’s consider the verse first..

Lightning out of the East

Matthew 24:27

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

One of these words is astrape. (Strong’s definition and verse list can be found at end of post.)

By the time we got to verse 27, I had to speak up, since what I found out earlier seemed to apply.

There is a teaching nowadays that implies that the Lord’s appearance will be like a local lightning strike – quick, bright and destructive. This may be true based on many passages, such as

2 Thessalonians 2:8

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

But this passage in Matthew may not be reinforcing this teaching.

Lightning from a Candle?

Consider Luke 11:36 below. The same word (astrape) is used, but if translated as “lightning” would read as..

 Lightning from a Candle

Luke 11:36

If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lightning with its rays gives you light.”

Now that don’t make no sense, now does it? So whats the point?

This word (astrape) may be understood to describe a shining, such as a sunrise or such. If so, this may be the better understanding of Matthew 24:27. This makes a bit more sense, since the Lord’s statement refers to the “astrape” coming out of the east and shining even to the west.

Literal Lightning (as an aside)

Literally speaking, lightning comes from the the sky and touches the ground, that is, it travels vertically, not horizontally! (By the way, if I wanted to be scientifically accurate, lightning travels from the cloud to the ground and then from the ground to the cloud again, but I don’t think Jesus was trying to be that literal.)

On the other hand, the sun does rise in the east and illuminates the west.

The point is that when the audience of Jesus’ day heard this reference, the idea may possibly be that of a sunrise. The sun rises in the east, and travels/shines to the west. If so, the Lord is describing His coming in a number of ways.

  1. It will be relatively slow (that is, if compared to a lightning strike!)

  2. It will be evident to all.

  3. It will be welcomed.

  4. It will expel darkness.

Lightning or a Sunrise

 Sunrise

The imagery of the Lord’s coming as a sunrise is used again in 2 Peter 1:19. Notice that 2 Peter 1:16, setting the topic of the passage, is describing the power and the coming of the Lord.

2 Peter 1:16-19

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”
we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

His Coming

His “coming” is not necessarily as simple as I first thought.

His “comings” referred to in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the book of Revelation are past events. (Only one of the churches mentioned remain to this day.) The candlesticks have been removed!

His coming described in James 5:7-9 may be referring to a past event. Compare the James passage with Jesus words on His coming in judgement to the Jewish nation. The judge is standing at the door! (gates in this translation!)

Matthew 24:33

So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

Mark 13:29

So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

James 5:7-9

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

His coming will surprise many. (Most likely myself!)

I think this little study has helped me see one thing. The how and when of His coming is so unimportant issue when it comes down to it.

The issue is to daily be ready.

I am ashamed of being so often distracted from focusing on that day when I shall be with the Lord.

Peace be unto you


Strong’s definition and verse list

G796 ἀστραπή astrape (as-trap-ay’) n.
1. lightning
2. (by analogy) glare
[from G797]
KJV: lightning, bright shining
Root(s): G797

Verse list

Matthew 24:27

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 28:3

His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.

Luke 10:18

And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Luke 11:36

If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

Luke 17:24

For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.

Revelation 4:5

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings[fn] and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,

Revelation 8:5

Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings,[fn] flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Revelation 11:19

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Revelation 16:18

And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.

Party Time at the Visitation

 PARTY TIME AT THE VISITATION When will God visit his people?

Many times I have stood in a church while the congregation sings of the return of the Lord and the party we will all have.  A song I experienced in church recently used the term “the visitation of the Lord” in the context of a party.

Got me to thinking!

Note that this blog post is primarily a list of Scripture verses.  To those who want to get to the intent of the post, do a search (Ctrl f) for “multitude of verses”.

Otherwise, Consider the Bible and the message it has for us concerning God visiting His people!

Exodus 32:30-35

The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold.
But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”
But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.
But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”
Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.

The preceding passage occurs just after the golden calf had been destroyed, and Aaron tried to explain how the calf came to be.

Exodus 32:24

So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

I would find that to be hilarious if it wasn’t so true to the human nature.  We so often want to either blame someone else of simply deflect responsibility.  Aaron cast the gold in the fire, but the calf simply came out.  But this isn’t about Aaron!

I was listening to this passage the other day when verse 34 literally jumped into my ears – remember I was listening to the Word so I couldn’t say the words jumped off the page – but forgive my wandering….

 PARTY TIME AT THE VISITATION

Anyway I wondered to myself – when might this visitation be?  Could it be the end of the world?

The Lord states that He will judge His people – those who sinned will be blotted out of His book.  Then the Lord commands Moses to lead the children of Israel into the land. He informs Moses that the angel of the Lord will lead them into the land.

Then He adds, Nevertheless…..

What?  I thought judgement was declared in verse 33.  Is the Lord simply reiterating the same truth?  Or is He declaring a specific day of visitation upon the Israelite’s?

I think the latter, for the following reasons.

A quick review of the term “visit” in the Old Testament reveals some very interesting information.  Take a quick look – I have emboldened portions of the verses that describe God doing the visiting.  (For the sake of brevity, I have not included numerous Old Testament passages that include the concept of visiting, but are defined as times of punishment.)

A Multitude of Verses

Genesis 50:24

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Genesis 50:25

Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Exodus 13:19

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph[fn] had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.”

Exodus 32:34

But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

Isaiah 23:17

At the end of seventy years, the LORD will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth.

 

Jeremiah 15:15
O LORD, you know:
remember me and visit me,
and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance take me not away;
know that for your sake I bear reproach.

Jeremiah 27:22

They shall be carried to Babylon and remain there until the day when I visit them, declares the LORD. Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.”

Jeremiah 29:10

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

Jeremiah 32:5

And he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I visit him, declares the LORD. Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed’?”

 PARTY TIME AT THE VISITATION

As you can see, there is a multitude of verses that link God with visiting his people, usually in judgement, although a few verses do describe visiting with salvation.

This is the background of the New Testament message, and if Jesus speaks of visiting, or a time of visiting, or a day of visiting, the people of Israel most assuredly connected with this thought.

   Party time at the visitation

Therefore consider the Old Testament background when you read the following passage.

Luke 19:44

“…and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

I ask again, When was this visitation Moses speaks of in Exodus 32:34?  I have a hard time thinking that the party atmosphere is appropriate!

Thanks again for coming to visit.  I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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Sun Moon & Stars – Matthew 24:29

A brother asked me about Matthew 24, you know, about the sun, moon and stars falling from heaven.

The passage goes like this…

Matthew 24:29

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

meteor showerWell, I told him what I thought and he seemed to consider my answer with some suspicion, almost as if I had my head on backwards. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate the challenge, if only for my own learning and research. So off we go to the Word to consider passages that use the same terminology. Scripture interprets Scripture and we have to remember that the Master came to earth to fill the three offices of Prophet, Priest and King. As the preeminent Prophet, He was anchored in Old Testament thought and speech, communicating to an audience steeped in the Sacred Writings.

With that said, I have done a quick search for the three words “sun”, “moon”, and “stars” in the Old Testament, hoping to find a clue to base my understanding of the Lord’s message.

The full passages, from the Old Testament prophets, are found in the end notes of this post since they are somewhat lengthy, and I want to get to the meat of the matter.

The verses I found are

  • Isaiah 13:10

  • Ezekiel 32:7

  • Joel 2: 10

  • Joel 3:15

As an aside, as a young Christian, I believed that the New Testament was the “be all and end all” of everything I needed to be concerned about. The Old Testament was important, but we have more important information in the New Testament. I think that is like saying the roof of a house is more important than the walls of a house. How can I say that? Without the Old Testament, the New Testament would be completely hollowed out.

Consider

If all the Old Testament quotations and allusions were obliterated from the New Testament, the books would have no coherent message. Some single verses in Matthew 24, for example, refer to THREE Old Testament passages. Three passages crammed into one verse!!!*

Without the Old Testament, the Jewish nation (if you could argue that a Jewish nation would exist?) would have no history, culture or religious life that the Messiah could communicate within. The Old Testament set the context of the Master’s teaching and prophecies.

So with all that said, lets look at each of these passages.

stars_falling_from_the_skyFirst off, as a younger believer, (hey – I’m still young Jerry!) when I saw these type of Old Testament verses, I would consider them to all be referring to one event, and that event was the same event that Jesus prophesied of – the end of the world. I really didn’t consider the context of the passages because it just seemed so obvious. Maybe I was wrong. (Hint – Yup, I was wrong!)

Passage #1 Isaiah 13:10

Isaiah 13:10

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Lets see if Isaiah is directing this to anyone specific.

Isaiah 13

1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

Chapter 13 is the beginning of a section in Isaiah directed to the nations. The first nation to be dealt with is the nation of Babylon.

But how is the Lord going to bring about this judgement?

Isaiah 13

4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.

The Lord musters the kingdoms of the nations. He even names them for us! Interesting side note that the Lord defines the force He is mustering as multiple nations. This is precisely what occurred when the nations of the Medes and the Persians, joined together to defeat Babylon. (The Medes became the dominant people group within this cooperative effort.)

Isaiah 13

17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

The Medes and the Persians are the nations that the Lord used to obliterate the Babylonian empire, in one night!

So, in the midst of a passage where the Lord is speaking to a specific nation (Babylon) about other nation(s) (the Medes and Persians), He refers to the sun, moon and stars being darkened.

What gives?

Option 1 – Literal Darkening of the Sun Moon and Stars

During the siege, the smoke would be so heavy that all light would be obliterated from sight. Considering the poetic nature of so much of the Old Testament, this option doesn’t hold much weight in my mind. Especially since the takeover of Babylon was so dramatic and quick. In one night the nation fell and the Babylonian governing authorities were eliminated.

Not much to see here folks – Lets move along!!

Option 2 – Literal Dissolution of the Sun Moon and Stars

Obviously, the sun moon and stars were not darkened permanently or even temporarily. I have never found any record of the sun, moon, and stars being darkened during the siege of Babylon.

The stars did not literally cease to exist. I am thankful for the sun hanging around. I just can’t imagine being cold all the time! I left Canada for the warmth of Texas. I love da sun!

Option 3 – Symbolic Representation of Authorities

Story time!

A long time ago in a world far far away, before the Jewish nation was formed, a young boy had a dream. In this dream he referred to the sun moon and stars.

Genesis 37

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

When Israel (Jacob) heard this dream, he was shocked. As head of the family, Jacob was the authority over the entire clan. It was obvious that Joseph was stating that he would be the authority in the future. Jacob bowing to his Son? What arrogance! What pride! What accuracy!!

This dream greatly influenced the Jewish nation and the prophets took this phrase (sun moon and stars) and used it to describe earthly authorities of their time.

If so, and since Jesus was the greatest prophet ever, he may have been leaning on these passages when He spoke of the sun moon and stars being darkened in Matthew 24. (Hint – Isaiah 13 is accepted by most scholars as the passage Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:29)

With that, I will leave you with the remaining 3 passages. (I’m not gonna do all the work for you!)

Check it out (and consider!) to see if there is consistency in the interpretation I am suggesting.


*An example of three Old Testament verses referred to in one New Testament verse can be found in Matthew 24:15. That verse alludes to Daniel 8:13, Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11.

By the way, this isn’t all that rare in the New Testament! Don’t even get me thinking about Revelation – That is nuts!!!


Full Passages

Isaiah 13

1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.

3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.

4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.

5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:

8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.

13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.

15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.

16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.

17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.

19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.

22 And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

Ezekiel 32

1 And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.

3 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net.

4 Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee.

5 And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height.

6 I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee.

7 And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.

8 All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.

9 I will also vex the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known.

10 Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall.

11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee.

12 By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall, the terrible of the nations, all of them: and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed.

13 I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside the great waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them.

14 Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord GOD.

15 When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am the LORD.

16 This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament her: the daughters of the nations shall lament her: they shall lament for her, even for Egypt, and for all her multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

Joel 2

1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.

6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:

8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.

9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.

10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Joel 3

1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;

5 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:

6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.

7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:

8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

9 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:

10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

20 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.


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Purpose of Prophecy – Mark 15:43-46

brown book page

Biblical prophecy has a purpose. Am I sure I get it?

A few days back I was listening to Mark 15 and a few verses grabbed my attention.

Mar 15:43-46

Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

In that passage, Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus, wrapped it in fine linen and placed it in a tomb.

OK – so did he perform this action out of obedience to the Word?

Did he see an Old Testament passage and decide to take action to fulfill the prophecy? The text says that Joseph “took courage”, but does not define the motivation of the action. Was it simply to bring some honor to his Rabbi, or was it due to his seeking to obey Isaiah 53:9.

Isaiah 53:9

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

In this instance, the text seems to teach that the fulfillment of the prophecy was not Joseph’s objective.

If so, this particular prophecy in Isaiah was not given to inform prior to its fulfillment, but after its fulfillment.

Well – if that is generally true of prophecy, do we in the modern church look at Biblical prophecy correctly?

Do we try to find out the future for our own purposes? Granted, some information – the Olivet discourse comes to mind – was given to the apostles prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, that they might escape the judgement of God through the Roman armies on the nation of Israel.

Even considering the Olivet discourse though, might the higher purpose of that prophecy be somewhat different from merely saving the disciples lives? After all, most of the apostles were going to be martyred, and persecution was going to fall on the church shortly after the fall of Jerusalem.

I suppose the general thought of trying to figger out the future is very popular among western Christians of a certain stripe. I admit I used to delve heavily into future forecasting, but am now considering the wisdom of that attitude.

A year or so back, a particular passage in John got me thinking. Actually, when I read it carefully, it created more questions than answers! Jesus is talking to His disciples, telling them of a particular future event and actually lets them know WHY He tells them.

 John 13:19

I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

Did you catch it? “…that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”

The purpose was to direct the disciples faith to the person of Christ after the fulfillment of the prediction, not to instruct them on how to save their own bacon. Not for some temporal reason, but to direct the attention to the Messiah.

Could this be the highest purpose of prophecy?

Should we consider this to be the primary focus of prophetic interpretation?

When we come to a particular prophecy in the Word, would this concept Lightning help us to know the heart of God better?

Would it help us to rest in Him instead of hurrying about protecting ourselves from what we think may happen?

Lets consider Biblical prophecy to be a gift, not to primarily inform us of future events, but direct our attention to the One who is faithful!

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Nation or Church – Jeremiah 31:35-37

 

Why are you such a heretic?heretic

A brother recently asked me what I thought of Jeremiah 31:35-37. You see, I am considered somewhat of a heretic among my fellow believers.

Well, lets consider the passage below.

I have included the full paragraph in order to follow Jeremiahs train of thought. (choo chooooo)

Jer 31:31 – 37

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—

not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):

“If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the Lord,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”

Thus says the Lord:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the Lord.

heresyTo give all y’all some background on this, I am presently attending a great Sunday School Class where the majority of attendees subscribe to a dispensational framework of understanding future events. I have let all know that I have left that teaching, and they have been gracious to allow me to remain in the class.

Occasionally, a question or passage comes up that makes my thinking seem so unbiblical, and this passage definitely argues for a future existence of the physical nation of Israel!

So, how can you think so wrongly Carl, when the passage above is so clear!

NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY

One item of importance to note is that Hebrews 8:8-13 gives us commentary that is pertinent to the subject of Jeremiahs prophecy. I will use the ESV to show the portion in Hebrews that is being quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34

Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 

not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

I don’t know of any New Testament passage that supplies such a long quote of an Old Testament passage as in Hebrews 8. It is truly remarkable. The author of Hebrews must have some great message to tell his Hebrew Christian audience to take up so much room in his short letter.

Let’s read the next verse!

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away

WHAT? Vanish away can’t mean what I think it means!!

Greek AlphabetThe Strongs concordance states “vanish away” = ἀφανισμός aphanismós, af-an-is-mos’; from G853; disappearance, i.e. (figuratively) abrogation:—vanish away.

I do admit that the verse speaks of the covenant vanishing away, and not the nation per se, but on what was the nation of Israel established upon but the old covenant? If the old covenant has vanished away (and it has), upon what is any future nation based upon?

SUN AND MOON CEASING

Lets get back to the original set of verses in Jeremiah. Jeremiah said the physical nation of Israel would continue until the sun and moon ceased to exist. If the author of Hebrews is correct, what is going on?

The prophet was careful in his word choice. Lets consider Jeremiah 31:36 one more time.

“If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

We have a problem here if “the seed of Israel” is synonymous for the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which became the nation of Israel. The ordinances (sun and moon) are still sticking around and the nation of Israel ceased to exist in 70 AD. We got problems!

Lets consider another passage that may shed light on this issue. In John 8, Jesus tried to correct a misunderstanding in His day when he spoke of Abraham’s seed.

John 8:37-42

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.

I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.

But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.

You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 

Jesus was trying to correct a misunderstanding about the true lineage of faith, and that it does NOT depend on physical seed, but on spiritual seed. (Abraham’s children do the works of Abraham.)

As a matter of fact, a little later in the New Testament, Paul labors to show us that the true seed of Abraham is Christ in Galations 3:16

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 

So when Jeremiah brings up “the seed of Israel” we do not have the freedom to assume he is referring to a physical lineage. The “seed of Israel” has not ceased to exist as a nation, since true Israelite’s, such as Peter, John, Paul (and thousands more) trusted in the promised seed, the Savior.

The physical nation ceased to exist in AD 70, but I think it was on old wine sack that just couldn’t carry new wine – It just refused to accept the new wine.

But God did not let the nation cease to exist. The physical nation of Israel “vanished away”, but God’s promise did not cease to be fulfilled. Peter uses an Old Testament passage (Exodus 19:5-6) describing the newly born nation of Israel and applies it to the church.

 Exodus 19:5-6

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

So in answer to my brother, I believe Jeremiahs prophecy is holding true, and that the seed of Israel has not ceased to exist as a nation. The true nation of Israel, in God’s eyes, consists of faithful believers before and after the cross, trusting in His promises.

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Popular Prophecy

Biblical prophecy sure is popular!

End of the World 2A few days back I was browsing the internet, that great stealer of time and thought, and came across a list of known “End of the World” prophecies that have hounded the church since the very earliest days of the church.

I will attach the list below only after I bring to your attention that the end of the world for both you and me is definitely within our lifetime! I can absolutely guarantee that once you lifetime is complete, the effect of the end of the world will be accomplished. This is what we need get ready for.

Prepare to meet your God!

End of the World 1The end of the world may be centuries away. I can guaran-dog-tee you are gonna meet God in the next few decades (or less!) Don’t let the sensational fear mongers grab your attention. Daily be in touch with Jesus, seek to obey His will, walk humbly with Him and grow in the knowledge of His ways. Note that if you are not growing in the knowledge of His ways, you can be certain you are regressing and falling away.

According to the list below, we have missed many of the the “ends of the world” it is embarrassing!!

Predictions of the Second Coming-page-001Predictions of the Second Coming-page-002Predictions of the Second Coming-page-003Predictions of the Second Coming-page-004Predictions of the Second Coming-page-005Predictions of the Second Coming-page-006Predictions of the Second Coming-page-007Predictions of the Second Coming-page-008

 

 

Promises to Israel – 4. A Conclusion

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In a previous post “Promises to Israel – Introduction” we considered a central question.

Should the nation of Israel expect realization of Old Testament promises in the future?

I suggested that God supplied three promises to the people of Israel in the Old Testament. Each of the following promises have been discussed in previous blogs.

  1. Promises to Israel – The Land
  2. Promises to Israel – The Seed
  3. Promises to Israel – The Nation

Let’s wrap up and try to provide a conclusion.

A SIMPLE CONCLUSION

The conclusion of the matter is that each of the three central promises of God to Israel (via Father Abraham) have been fulfilled physically. The people of Israel enjoyed the status of nationhood and resided in all or part of the land for centuries. Jesus the Christ is the seed upon all the faithful flock to.

Abraham’s physical offspring received the physical promises.

Joshua 23:14

14 “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things[a] that the Lord your God promised concerning you.

All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.

Although Joshua was reminding the people of his day regarding the fulfillment of the promise of the land, this sentiment is also applicable for the promise to Israel of nationhood and the seed.

Abraham’s spiritual offspring (the Body of Christ) can look to the faithfulness of God to the physical offspring of Israel and learn much.

But we have so much more in the way of promises. So much more.

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Promises to Israel – 3. The Nation

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In a previous post “Promises to Israel – Introduction” we considered a central question.

Should the nation of Israel expect realization of Old Testament promises in the future? 

I suggested that God supplied three promises to the people of Israel in the Old Testament

  1. Promises to Israel – The Land
  2. Promises to Israel – The Seed
  3. Promises to Israel – The Nation
  4. Promises to Israel – A Conclusion

This post will address the Promise of the Nation.  So, “let’s get at ‘er”

THE NATION PROMISE

The promise of a nation, I feel is an extension of the land promise in some regards. (“Promises to Israel – The Land“) First off, the Lord stated that He would make Abraham a Father of many nations. We sometimes forget that, and the promise completely came to fruition with the many (mostly extinct) nations that grew out of Abraham’s physical seed. Consider the family tree below. Patriarch+Lineage+Abraham+through+Joseph.JPG?format=original

Kingdoms included the Ishmaelites, Edomites and those of Abraham’s last wife, Keturah. Dang – for a man who had all his children so late, his posterity is huge!!!

The promise of nationhood may be found in the following verses

Genesis 12:2-3

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 17:5-6

No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham,  for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.

But what does it mean to be a nation? What was the Lord implying when He promised this?

One distinguishing feature of a nation is a governing body of authorities, a government, combined with laws and statues to frame a social order which defines the nation. A nation has to have a territory to reside in. A nation usually possesses, to varying degrees, a unifying culture, language and religion.

Abraham’s family, in Egypt possessed a unifying culture, language and religion. But without laws, statutes, and a land to reside in, they were simply a really big family, twelve tribes from the loins of Israel.

The laws and statutes came at Sinai under Moses. The land came during Joshua’s time. So could we say that between Sinai and Canaan, the Israelite’s were a nation without land?

But let us leave that for another post – The point is that the Lord fulfilled His promise in creating a nation of the family of Abraham. His word was true and faithful. He kept His word.

 Exodus 33:13

Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.

Deuteronomy 4:6-8

Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

II Samuel 7:23

And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods?

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Promises to Israel – 2. The Seed

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In a previous post “Promises to Israel – Introduction” we considered a central question.

Should the nation of Israel expect realization of Old Testament promises in the future? 

I suggested that God supplied three promises to the people of Israel in the Old Testament

  1. Promises to Israel – The Land
  2. Promises to Israel – The Seed
  3. Promises to Israel – The Nation
  4. Promises to Israel – A Conclusion

This post will address the Promise of the Seed.  So “let’s get at ‘er”

THE SEED PROMISE

Growing up with the KJV, I always read the following verses with “seed” being used instead of “offspring”. Paul makes a deal about this in Galations. I am using the ESV below (and throughout the post) for clarity sake.

This promise is murky in my mind, and I am thankful we have an Apostle defining the intent of the promise in Galations 3.

Murky, cause it seems to emphasize Abraham’s genetic offspring, that is, all of his children. This isn’t Paul’s point in the New Testament. Paul emphasizes “the seed” as referring to Christ, not “the seeds”, referring to the multitudinous children of Abraham.

The offspring in this verse are linked directly to the promise of the land. We’ve considered the land promise and if this was the only verse relating to the “seed”, we might conclude that when the land was forfeited, the offspring would be effected somehow. (After all, where would the offspring settle without the land?)

Genesis 12:7

Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 15:5 seems to be defining the promise in relation to the volume of Abraham’s offspring. Abraham’s offspring would be innumerable!

Genesis 15:5

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Genesis 17:7 gets hairy – What is He promising? This promise relating to Abraham’s offspring has the intended result of an everlasting covenant of God being God to the offspring.

Genesis 17:7

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

How did this work out? Before we get to Galations, lets consider the story of Elijah.

1 Kings 19:18

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Abraham’s physical offspring resided in the nation of Israel at the time of Elijah, and yet God informed Elijah that a remnant existed within the nation. The apostate nation could not be considered to be included in the “everlasting covenant” since they were apostate. (God was not their God!)

But they were the physical offspring! This distinction is critical to note. Jesus made much of this concept in His teaching.

Matthew 3:9

“and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

 Matthew 8:11

“And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 19:9

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;

 John 8:39-40

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.

Notice that Jesus did not associate Abraham’s children as physically related, that is by blood, but by the actions performed in their lives.

It think my point is obvious and I don’t want to get too distracted so lets move on. (How ‘bout John the Baptist talking about repentance – No – I said I would stop!)

Galations 3:16

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

If Paul’s point is that the covenant promise was between God and His Messiah, things become somewhat clearer. The Christ is the only One who truly established an everlasting covenant for the offspring of Abraham. That is, the offspring of Abraham, those who have the faith of Abraham. Physical lineage was not crucial. Consider Ruth, Naaman, the Egyptians that joined the exodus, Rahab…. The remnant has always existed and that remnant recognized the Savior when He arrived.

OK, so we made a few minor detours going through the post. Sorry bout the remnant rant, but finding that thread of truth through the Word has helped me understand so much!

What is the conclusion of the matter? Does God have any responsibility to the people of Israel?

Oh nooo! That is another problem – Who specifically are the children of Israel today? Can a Jewish person prove his lineage back to Abraham Isaac and Jacob? I understand that it is impossible to trace lineage back to the fathers since all the records were destroyed in the temple fires during the Roman siege. But that is another rabbit trail that I may tackle at a later date.

It looks like the New Testament confirms God’s promise of the Seed to be an accomplished fact in the person of Jesus Christ.

Contact me or make comment to further our discussion in Considering the Bible.  I look forward to your thoughts.

Hope to see you in the next post.

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Promises to Israel – 1. The Land

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In our previous post “Promises to Israel – Introduction” we considered a central question.

Should the nation of Israel expect realization of Old Testament promises in the future? 

I suggested that God supplied three promises to the people of Israel in the Old Testament

  1. Promises to Israel – The Land
  2. Promises to Israel – The Seed
  3. Promises to Israel – The Nation
  4. Promises to Israel – A Conclusion

This post will address the Promise of the Land.  So, as my brother used to say – “Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er”

THE LAND PROMISE

 Genesis 17:8

And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

There you have it – He promised Father Abraham all the land of Canaan. Genesis 13:15 states that the land will be given to Abram and his offspring forever. The verse above speaks of an everlasting possession.

But there seemed to be a condition, as the next set of verses seems to indicate.

Deuteronomy 19:8-10

And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that he promised to give to your fathers—provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you today, by loving the LORD your God and by walking ever in his ways—then you shall add three other cities to these three, lest innocent blood be shed in your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

Joshua 23:15-16

But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”

Even with this condition stipulated, and the nation of Israel rebelling constantly, the Old Testament speaks of God fulfilling His end of the bargain. Remember that this land promise was a bilateral contract / covenant and One of the parties in this agreement kept His word.

Nehemiah 9:7-8

You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.

Joshua 21:43-45

Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

If these verses are to be believed, it looks like the concern over God’s honor is misplaced. He is faithful, and has performed all His promises in relation to the people of Israel in occupying and possessing the Promised Land.

It looks like the Old Testament confirms God’s promise of the Land to be an accomplished fact.  Contact me or make comment to further our discussion in Considering the Bible.  I look forward to your thoughts.

Hope to see you in the next post. 

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