Questions I’ve Been Asked – Animals & the Ark – Part 3

Question GIFA while back a brudder asked me about the ark and all the animals that Noah had to “fit” in the ark.

Carl – There is no way in poop that all those animals could fit in the ark – it is foolishness.

In our last post we figgered the room that was available on the ark.

A quick reminder may be best!

Available Floor Space

Using the dimensions supplied by Genesis 6, and converting the cubit to the standard, widely accepted, average, normal, acceptable measurement of 18″ (enough with the qualifiers Carl!), we came up with a floor space. 

With all that said, how much space did Noah have available for all these animals?

450’ (long) x 75’ (wide) x 3 (decks) x 3 (shelves / deck) =303,750 square feet

Required Floor Space

Using a conservative assumption, we choose the average size of an animal that would ride the waves with Noah as the lowly sheep – seemed to be a fair animal to pick on!  This animal could easily reside in a 5′ x 5′ x 5′ “cage, especially if we understand that the animals may have entered into a hibernation for the duration of the trip.  Remember, this is a rescue ship, not a vacation liner, and the efficiencies I am describing are intended to reflect that purpose! 

We also referred to some folks called taxonomers (folks who divide animals up into groups, not the IRS people!) to come up with a conservative estimation for the number of species / animals that would be travelling the high seas with Noah.

If I remember right, that number was 50,000.  Hey – is my sceptic back?  Hope so – that number is just for you!!

50,000 animals will require the following space based on the previous average room required.

50,000 x 5 square feet / average animal = 250,000 square feet

 

Enough Space?

With all these conservative estimates, it is very possible to see the viability of this “box” to carry the required animals.  According to these calculations, Noah had over 50,000 square feet for living quarters for his family and for food storage.  Food for the animals may have been minimal, since I think most, if not all the animals may have entered a type of hibernation during this journey.

Considering the original concern about not enough space for all the animals, spending a few minutes to think of the problem let me see that Noah had quite the pleasure yacht if it wasn’t for the all the animals snoring!  (I am being waggish again!)

How did the animals reach the different parts of the earth?

The animals simply dispersed, finding environments, food supplies and land bridges to accomplish complete dispersion.

Although not the topic of this blog, (and without any solid teaching from the Bible,) it is possible that the concept of continental drift may offer some portion of the explanation of this question.

Why are some species only present in certain areas of the world? 

I like living in Texas.  I am a Canadian, but I have found that I like living in Texas.  It is my certain area of the world I live in

Nuff said?

Anyway, hope to hear your opinion or enter into some discussion with you my friend.  Let me know your thoughts and hope to see you again soon.

Thanks for dropping by.

Hey as I was proofreading, I found a tiny mathematical mistake – Nothing that makes my general argument invalid, but I’m gonna leave the “mistake” in the post for any and all to find – even if you are not my sceptic!

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Questions I’ve been Asked – Animals & the Ark – Part 2

Question GIFA while back a brudder asked me about the ark and all the animals that Noah had to “fit” in the ark.

Carl – There is no way in poop that all those animals could fit in the ark – it is foolishness.

Like I said in the last post, this post will deal with the size of the ark needed for the animals needed passage through the flood. But, alas – it isn’t so straightforward of a problems as I first suspected. Some assumptions need to be made!

Genesis 6

14 “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.

15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.

17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark–you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”

22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

Second problem – How do we estimate the required space needed?

This problem requires some conservative assumptions.  Many scientists claim that the average size of an animal is somewhere between a rat and a sheep.  Lets take the sheep as the conservative estimate.

How much room does a sheep take?

A common method of transporting sheep is by rail.  To transport sheep via rail, it is common to fit 120 sheep within a level of a standard rail car.  A rail car is generally 60′ by 10′, which gives us 600 square feet.

600 square feet/120 sheep = 5 square feet /sheep

Therefore, each sheep takes up, on average, 5 square feet.  We will use this number later!

Remember that Noah built this box with three levels, and a roof.  Seeing that the box (ark) was 45 ft high, each deck had a 15’ ceiling.  Although not applicable for every animal, this space surely allowed for optional shelving.

Therefore the space available for an “average” animal would calculate out to-

5′ x 5′ x 5′ = 25 cubic feet (assuming 5′ vertical allowance for “head room”)

Third problem – How many animals actually boarded the ark?

First off, how many species of animals do we have on earth presently?  Famous taxonomers estimate this quantity at 1,000,000.

The following number of species were not required to be “rescued” since the flood would not completely exterminate their existence. (Note that every living thing in Genesis 6 is defined as “all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die”. Could this imply that aquatic species were not to be considered?)

  • Fish –  21,000 species
  • Echinoderms (star fish, sea urchins, etc) – 600 species
  • Mollusks (mussels, clams, oysters, etc) – 107,000 species
  • Coelenterates (corals, sea anemones, etc) – 10,000 species
  • Sponges,  – 5,000 species
  • Protozoans, – 30,000 species
  • Arthropods (lobster, crabs etc) – 838,000 species
  • Worms – 35,000 species
  • Insects – ????????
  • Amphibians
  • Some mammals (whales, dolphins, etc)

With that said, some experts have defined the number of species that required “rescuing” to as little as 2,000.  Others have been more conservative and stated that 35,000 animals were led to the ark (including the 7 pairs of “clean” animals required by God to be present on the ark!)

Some have expanded the number to 50,000 animals to satisfy the most demanding skeptic.  I hope I have a sceptic reading – I am gonna take that number just to satisfy your skepticism!  So lets go with that number!

But lets go with that number in our next post.  Will I see you there?  (I’m asking that one sceptic out there – Hope you will come visit again.)

Hey as I was proofreading, I found a tiny mathematical mistake – Nothing that makes my general argument invalid, but I’m gonna leave the “mistake” in the post for any and all to find – even if you are not my sceptic!


 

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – Animals & the Ark – Part 1

Question GIFA while back a brudder asked me about the ark and all the animals that Noah had to “fit” in the ark.

Carl – There is no way in poop that all those animals could fit in the ark – it is foolishness.

Well I take that as a personal challenge to find out if it is possible. But lets define the parameters that I need to review.

The question has a few points to it

  • How did all the animals fit into Noahs Ark?
  • How did the animals reach the different parts of the earth?
  • Why are some species (eg a moose) only present in certain areas of the world?

How did all the animals fit into Noahs Ark?

I suppose the first question demands that we determine the size of the ark initially. To do this, we need to refer to the Bible to find the dimensions Noah used for the construction of the Ark. We will find these dimensions in the book of Genesis, chapter 6.

Genesis 6

14 “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.

15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.

17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark–you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”

22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

First problem – What da heck is a cubit?

cubit

A cubit is an old (ancient) form of measurement that, since I found out what it is, have realized that I have used it much of my life without realizing it. When I don’t have a measuring tape on me, and the distance is relatively short, I will “measure” it with my forearm. The cubit was the ancients way of standardizing a measurement, and it is commonly accepted that the cubit was the distance from the elbow to the finger tip of an average man. For me that comes to aprox 18″, and proves that I am average! (1 cubit = 1.5 ft)

So with that said, the ark’s dimensions come to 450′ long X 75′ wide X 45′ high. It is also important to note that this vessel is not considered a boat, but an ark. Noah built a box – a really big box. And this box had three decks, according to verse 16.

So we figgered the basic size, or volume of the ark.

Next post we shall deal with how much space ol’ Noah needed in the Ark for all those animals. In other words, How in poop did Noah fit those gazillion animals into the Ark?

Hope you can come visit with me for the next installment. I think you may be surprised!!!

Thanks for dropping by.


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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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Salaried Pastors? A discussion with a Pastor 1

Quite awhile ago I sent out an email to a number of prominent pastors (8 or 9) within the area I live in.  One out of the nine responded in an effort to minister.  The following  conversation is with that one pastor who sought to help.  I appreciate his willingness to enter into a discussion with me.

This is the initial email I sent out!  The next post will supply my response and appreciation to this pastor.  I am gonna call him Pastor X cause I think it’s cool.


Brother

I am a Christian, having been saved at the age of 21 from a life of drug abuse and alcoholism.  I have sought to walk with the Lord ever since.  If I could take a few minutes of your time, I would appreciate it.

Salary 2

My question is this.  Does the Word of God explicitly instruct any congregation to commit to a pastor a salaried position?

I have been a believer for more than half my life and have been involved (heavily) in Baptist church’s, but have been challenged lately in my studies to find clear direction for this issue.  I would appreciate your assistance with this and await your reply.

Carl


The following text came from one pastor in a local church.


Carl,

Thanks for sending us your email.  The Word of God is clear that salaried positions within the church are entirely permissible.

OLD TESTAMENT BASIS

In the Old Testament, the Levites (those who worked in the temple) received support in the form of food, money, and even lodging.  See, for example, Numbers 18:20-21 and Hebrews 7:5.

Numbers 18:20-21

20 And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.

21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,

Hebrews 7:5

5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham.

THE RIGHT OF SUPPORT

salary 3In 1 Corinthians 9:3-15, Paul argued extensively that those who work hard to sow spiritual seed should be able to reap material blessing as well.  However, Paul did not use that right (notice he calls it a “right”), but rather preached free of charge so that no one could accuse him of preaching the gospel for material gain, like so many false teachers did.

3 This is my defense to those who would examine me.

4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink?

5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same?

9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned?

10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?

14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.

DOUBLE HONOR

salary 1First Timothy 5:17-19 states that the elders who direct the affairs of the church, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching, are worthy of “double honor.”  And why is this? Because the worker is worthy of his wages, and Paul uses the Old Testament image of the ox not being muzzled when he treaded out the grain.

5:17-19

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Clearly, the Bible teaches that it is permissible (and even wise) for a local church to pay those who work hard at shepherding the flock, preaching, and teaching.  In some contexts (like Paul’s), it may be wise for a pastor not to accept a salary.  Bi-vocational work may advance the Gospel further in some instances.  Paying salaries to pastors allows them to concentrate all of their mental and physical energies on doing the work of shepherding, preaching, and teaching, thus allowing them to do these tasks most effectively.

I hope this helped.

Blessings,

Pastor X


Our next post will include my response and appreciation for this pastors desire to help me understand.  Hope you can visit and comment.

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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 4

Temple_JerusalemIn our last post we considered Jeremiah’s message of the temple being the Jewish nations Place of Safety and Permanence instead of the Lord.  Temple worship had become a replacement for proper living.

In this post we want to look Jeremiahs message to the people, describing the temple as their place of absolution.

Lets read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

Consider

Temple_Jerusalem 2

These worshipers were heading into the temple! Why complain about these folks? At least they were worshiping the true God, right?  Jeremiah says to amend your ways. Worship without right living is hypocrisy and worthy of judgement. (And judgement was on its way!)  The Temple of the Lord had become a stumbling block to the nation of Israel.

The second stumbling block for the Olkd Testament believers were that they viewed the temple as their:

Place of Absolution

Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?

Those of Jeremiah’s day were not only seeing the temple as a place of permanence and safety, but also of forgiveness and absolution.  Would I be going to far to think the temple was considered a refuge from judgment and responsibility before God.

Note that the temple is referred to as a “den of thieves”.  A den of thieves is what thieves return to after they perform their evil deeds, in order to hide from justice,  and be encouraged by other thieves to continue in  their merciless acts and faithless lifestyles.

Jeremiah was defining these worshipers as thieves who were returning to their hide-out!  That is crazy!!!

The temple had become a place of refuge for those who had performed “criminal” acts!

Who says the Bible is not relevant for today?  The Word is relevant for today if we are willing to seek the truth.   When we seek relevance through following the culture of our day, devote ourselves to some famous (or not so famous) Bible teacher/preacher or by appealing to false “safety nets” that are gimmicks, it seems to me that we “trust lying words”.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some Bible teacher/preachers that are good, but I fear most are simply using the sacred ministry as a worldly career.  Fully reject those that are using the ministry to have a career, and with the few that may be left, we should constantly remind ourselves that those teacher/preachers are servants of God (1 Corinthians 4:1) and not our masters in the faith. (2 Corinthians 1:24)

Trusting in religious trappings or messages other than in God is the big message I get from Jeremiah!  How many times have you chatted with a believer and you reference your denomination’s position, what your pastor/priest thinks, or the opinion of some famous Christian personality?

How often have you heard a believer tell you that the nation of Israel is Gods Chosen people today?  What happened to the Church as the people of God?  How can God have two chosen people?

Trusting in a future fulfillment of old covenant promises after the Jewish nation rejected the old covenant responsibilities (over and over again), I fear is is simply foolishness!  It seems to me that the old covenant promises were conditional, and having rejected those promises by crucifying the Messiah, the promises of God were taken away from the nation of Israel, and given to a nation/people that would bring forth the fruits (Matthew 21:43).

Read the book of Hebrews to understand the urgency of the writer to convince the Hebrew people to leave behind the Old Covenant and grasp unto Jesus as the only hope.  The nation of Israel had very few days left and the end was upon them.  The Hebrew people would be dispersed and the theocracy would never be reestablished.

Do not seek something that isn’t promised!

Let us not trust in lying words!



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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 3

Temple_Jerusalem

In our last post, we considered Jeremiah’s demands upon the Jewish nation and the three weightier matters of the law that never changes, that God expects from His people.

Temple worship as a replacement for proper living is considered sin, and Jeremiah simply does not mince words in this passage.

In this post we want to look at the idol that the Jewish nation had erected in place of God, the lying words that they trusted in.

How could Jeremiah make such blatant claims as he does in this passage without riling up the very people who assumed they were the most righteous, those who attended “The Temple of the Lord”.

How is it that The Temple of the Lord”, referred to in Jeremiah 7, is applicable to the modern-day Christian?

Lets read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

Consider

These worshipers were heading into the temple! Why complain about these folks? At least they were worshiping the true God, right?

Jeremiah says to amend your ways. Worship without right living is hypocrisy and worthy of judgement. (And judgement was on its way!)

Temple_Jerusalem 2

The Temple of the Lord had become a stumbling block to the nation of Israel.

DON’T TRUST LYING WORDS

What were the “lying words” the worshipers trusted? “The house of the Lord, the house of the Lord, the house of the Lord.”

The worshipers were trusting in lying words which were diverting their trust from the living God to the temple.

They viewed the temple as:

A Place of Safety and Permanence

Consider Jeremiahs core message again

….if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

A conditional promise. Do you see it? If if if if … then.

The Jewish nation had obligations to the covenant they entered into with the Lord at Mt Sinai. Jeremiah was calling the nation to its roots, its past, its obligations and responsibilities. He was not adding tasks or changing the contract. The people had walked away from the agreement, and the prophet was faithfully exhibiting the mercy and long-suffering of the Lord with His people. But the long suffering patience of the Lord was coming to a close and His prophet was warning His people, even as the Babylonians were on the way.

Yes, the Jews of Jeremiah’s day saw the Babylonians coming. It was obvious to all, but the religious Jews refused to acknowledge God’s judgement that was about to fall on their nation and considered the temple (how ironic!) to be their place of protection. How short of a memory we humans have. Obviously they had not learned about using God as a talisman or lucky charm. As a matter of fact, God reminds them of Shiloh later in the passage, and how the Philistines (those dirty dogs!) were able to defeat the Israelites and confiscate the very idol (the Ark of the Covenant) they were trusting in.

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

As an aside, consider how Jeremiah’s conditional promise with the Old Testament nation of Israel could apply to the New Testament nation of the Church.

If is a big word.

Believers today would do well if we considered our relationship with the Lord in the context of “if” when the Word calls for it.

It was surprising for me to realize the extent of that two letter word in the New Testament – Check it out in my ongoing series “Conditional Security”

Join me on our next blog when we find out the Jewish nation also viewed the temple as a place of absolution.



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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 2

Temple_Jerusalem

In our last post, we considered the distraction of the Temple of the Lord.

Jeremiah 7 arrests me, makes me wonder and consider how The Temple of the Lord” is applicable to the modern day Christian?

What did Jeremiah say? First off, let’s read the passage one more time.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

In our previous post, it became obvious that “The Temple of the Lord” supplied an opportunity for deceptive words to be spread about the Jewish nations security.

Jeremiah was calling the nation back to a personal responsibility to the Lord, instead of trusting in simply going to church – I mean going to temple.

Is this call to personal responsibility something new for these Jewish worshipers? Is Jeremiah demanding completely new requirements upon these folk? Were they ignorant of the Lords demands on their lives?

Consider

Leviticus 19 :18

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Lev 19 :34

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 10 :18-19

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Mic 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Zechariah 7:8-10

And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying,

9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,

10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

This concern carried over into the New Testament, When the Lord Himself summarized the “weightier matters of the law”.

Matt 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Temple_Jerusalem 2

When I read this passage in Jeremiah, I can’t help but think of the Lord Jesus while He was on earth, talking to the religious men of His day. Of course, it is obvious He quoted Jeremiah in Matthew 21:13, where it is written “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Check out Jeremiah 7:11 for the connection!)

What I think is awesome is the connection of the thoughts of Jeremiah and the thoughts of Jesus. Three issues are raised in both of these men’s messages, and I’m a thinking they are as follows.

Judgement

It is obvious where Jesus refers to this thought, so compare it with Jeremiah when he states “thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor”

Mercy

Again, the Lord’s reference to mercy is echoed in Jeremiahs statement “ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place”

Faith

Jesus finishes His classification of the weightier matters of the law by referring to faith. Is this Jeremiah concern, when he mentions “neither walk after other gods to your hurt”?

Consider

  • Both Jeremiah and Jesus were addressing a nation on the brink of catastrophe, and seeking to call the nation back to God.
  • Both Jeremiah and Jesus delivered a message that was generally rejected.
  • Both Jeremiah and Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

I am always surprised how applicable the Old Testaments message is for today’s Christian!

Consider the Temple of the Lord and how you relate to it.

Do you hear Jeremiahs message as a rebuke to your dependence on your physical church.

  • When you drive by the building does your heart swell with pride (Hint – That is a problem!)
  • When you enter the building, do you consider it safe, a physical building that encourages a sense of security. (Hint – Might not be a good thing!)
  • Do you act differently in the building than out of the building (Hint – The alarm bells should be ringing in your head!)

Or do you hear Jeremiahs message as a rebuke to your dependence on your spiritual church?

What? What are you talking about Carl? Hang on – let me explain.

I read in the New Testament where the church (the invisible spiritual church) is the body of Christ, a living organism that is comprised of all believers. If you see the church that way, Jeremiahs message is still so applicable.

When you see a brother or sister, how do you relate to them? Do you see them as a potential safety net in case trouble enters your life?

This “fault” in my faith came crashing in on me a while back.

I remember experiencing a very disappointing, troubling time in my life, and I reached out to a brother and sister for encouragement and counsel. I hoped they could assist in a specific way. They rejected my concerns.

My trust was not in the Lord – my trust was in “the believer”.

The Temple of the Lord is a tremendous blessing that believers can live in and with, but we need to trust in the Living God, and not “The Temple of the Lord”!

In our next post we will consider the misplaced trust Jeremiah was preaching about when he preached, “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.”

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Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord 1

Temple_Jerusalem

The Temple of the Lord

I was in Sunday School a few weeks back and we were studying Jeremiah 7. All during the class, something seemed “off”. It is usually a great class, but this particular time, the focus did not seem to be on the passage.

Why is Jeremiah harping about The Temple of the Lord”, when it is obvious that the Jewish worshipers are attending faithfully?

How is The Temple of the Lord”, referred to in Jeremiah 7, applicable to the modern day Christian?

What did Jeremiah say? First off, let’s read the passage.

Jeremiah 7:1-15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.

13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,

14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

What is it that Jeremiah wants from these worshipers?

AMEND YOUR WAYS

  • amend your ways and your deeds
  • if you truly amend your ways and your deeds
  • if you truly execute justice one with another
  • if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place,
  • if you do not go after other gods to your own harm

Only if the nation of Israel amends their ways, will they be able to remain in the land. (see vs 7)

But Carl – The Temple of the Lord – that is the security, the promise, the TEMPLE. How could anything go wrong since the nation of Israel had the blessing and privilege granted to them to have the TEMPLE OF THE LORD.

Verse 8 speaks of deceptive words again, that the nation was trusting in. These words are…

THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD

Wait, the blessing and privilege of having the temple of the Lord in the nation of Israel is becoming a stumbling block to the nation of Israel. At the very least it was a massive distraction. You see, the Lord is not so concerned about edifices, buildings, construction, brick and mortar….

My wife’s favorite verse goes something like this

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Although Samuel was referring to the stature and appearance of David’s first son, the principle applies here. As idolatrous humans, we seek to honor and worship that which we can see, feel and own.

Temple_Jerusalem 2

The Temple fell into that category. And the Temple was to be abandoned, just like the Father abandoned Shiloh. He did it once before. His word is faithful, and looking back upon Jeremiahs time, it is easy for us to see the fulfillment his prophecy. The Babylonians swept in, and the nation was taken away to Babylon for 70 yrs.

Another prophet (and so much more) came on the scene, and recognized the nation of Israel’s spiritual condition. He spoke of abandoning the Temple.

They crucified Him.
The temple was sacked 40 yrs later. Think of it. The mercy of the Crucified One to allow for 40 years to pass, seeking repentance, prior to bringing final judgement on the nation.

I have more to say, but I would like to finish this post simply considering the mercy and kindness of the One who died for me.

He is good.


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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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Did Jesus go to Hell?

hell-awaits-fire-redDid Jesus go to Hell?

What type of question is that?

Three passages seem to tell me that, between the crucifixion and the resurrection, Jesus actually descended into hell.

The passages are as follows.

1 Peter 3:18-20

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The popular teaching goes like this – the spirits are those of Noah’s generation that are in some type of prison at the time of Peter’s writing.  The assumption is that at the time of being put to death in the flesh, Jesus preached to these spirits in prison, before the resurrection. To the disobedient, He confirmed their condemnation and to the righteous He declared His victory, and their subsequent being led out of the prison they are in. (See Eph 4:8-10 below for verses that seem to teach this scenario.)

Another interpretation is that he – Noah, during the construction of the ark, by the Spirit, preached unto the disobedient, who are now spirits in prison.

This seems to make sense to me, since:

  • Whoever “He” is in verse 19, the power of the preaching was by the “Spirit”
  • Peter refers to Noah in the very next verse.
  • Peter is referring to a specific time frame – “while the ark was a preparing”
  • Noah is described as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) and the souls in prison are described as disobedient.

The passage in 1 Peter in not conclusive, to say the least

Lets go on to the next passage and see if it sheds any additional light on this subject.

Acts 2:25-28

For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

The passage of interest focuses on verse 27, where Peter quotes the 16th Psalm, declaring that the resurrection was prophesied.

A major assumption needs to be made if this verse is to teach that Jesus was in the traditional concept of hell. The term used in the Old Testament referring to this hell is Sheol, which by all accounts refers to the grave.

Even within this passage in Psalm 16 itself, with the use of Hebrew poetry (restating the same concept with different words) the psalmist describes what he means when he says “hell”. Hell seems to be synonymous, in this psalm, with corruption. It is commonly understood that Old Testament believers did not have a clear understanding of the afterlife, and Sheol simply meant the grave.

If this is true, then Peter is declaring the resurrection from the grave, not the resurrection from hell.

As an aside, a very interesting study, for those interested, is the number of times the apostles referred to hell in their preaching to the lost. It is true that Jesus preached on hell (gk term hades) very often, but why didn’t the apostles keep up the message? That particular topic is for another time!

Given the last two passages, and the possibility (probability) of alternative interpretations, is this teaching depending on assumptions instead of Bible teaching for support?

The last passage that seems to support the teaching that Jesus visited hell is the following.

Ephesians 4:8-10

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  

(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

captivity captiveWhen Paul mentions that He descended into the lower parts of the earth, is it a safe assumption that he meant hell?  I taught that for decades and assumed it was without fault.  After all, what else could he mean?

I have a greater appreciation for the Word, now that I have finally understood that Paul, along with the rest of the New Testament authors, were preaching the risen Christ from the Old Testament. When a passage like Ephesians 4:9 is compared with the Old Testament, and found to shed light on a weak assumption, I will gladly confess my error.

Consider what I found after a simple search.

Psalm 63:6-11

When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.

They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.

But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

This passage uses the very same phrase Paul uses, and seems to describe Sheol within the context. Simply defining the grave. Nothing to see here folks – lets move along!.

Isa 44:21 – 25

Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that preadeth abroad the earth by myself;

That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

Realizing Isaiah is using Hebrew poetry, the “lower parts of the earth” are coupled with “ye heavens”. The very next verse, Isaiah 44:24, is coupling heaven and earth, and seem to be defining the “lower parts of the earth” as simply “the earth”

At the very least, it would not prove that “the lower parts” are necessarily hell.

One other passage that I find amazing is the following.

Psa 139:12 – 16

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

lowest parts of the earthBased on the passage in Psalm 139:15, the lowest parts of the earth, are referring to the womb. This is an incredible passage in light of Ephesians.

Granted, it is not the exact phrase that Paul used in Ephesians 4:9, but it shows the difference between my independent interpretation (lower parts of the earth = hell), compared with Scripture interpreting Scripture.

In view of the previous three Old Testament verses, Ephesians 4:9 could be referring to

  • “the grave” (Psa 63:9) – This interpretation seems to have some strength based on the passage in Acts.
  • “the earth” (Isa 44:23) – This interpretation would coincide with the incarnation of the Messiah.
  • “the womb” (Psalm 139:15) – This interpretation would also coincide with the incarnation of the Messiah.

I have also understood that Paul may be referring to the class of people Jesus came to be among, that is, the lower class. This is a possibility and a teaching that Paul has brought up in his writings before.

With all of this being said, I find there to be very little Biblical support for the popular teaching that Jesus visited our traditional concept of hell, ie. a holding place of suffering for the lost.

What think ye?

 

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Psalm 91 – Who’s ways?

I was trying to memorize Psalm 91:11 early one morning and noticed that the psalmist referred to God keeping thee in all thy ways.

What?

Shouldn’t God be keeping “thee” in all God’s ways?  Unless “thee” is God also, in the person of the Messiah.

Have I lost you yet?  I hope not.

But I never noticed this wrinkle and it set me off on a bit of discovery.  I wanted to find out who was being talked to, who is talking, who are the promises meant for specifically.

And so I began to insert pronouns into the text to identify the persons speaking or being spoken to.  (Being a bit slow, I find doing this sometimes clarifies the passage for me.)

Psalm 91:11

For he (God) shall give his (God’s) angels charge over thee (Messiah), to keep thee (Messiah) in all thy (Messiah’s) ways.

My memory verse opened up to me.  Jesus is the subject of the Word of God and this passage became a lightning rod for me to dig a bit deeper into the text.  Lets go a few more verses and see what we find.

Psalm 91:14 – 16

Because he (Messiah) hath set his love upon me (God the Father), therefore will I (God the Father) deliver him (Messiah): I will set him (Messiah) on high, because he (Messiah) hath known my name (God the Father’s)
He (Messiah) shall call upon me (God the Father), and I (God the Father) will answer him (Messiah) I (God the Father) will be with him (Messiah) in trouble; I will deliver him (Messiah) and honour him (Messiah).
With long life will I (God the Father) satisfy him (Messiah) and shew him my salvation.

xImagine the first time Jesus read this package of verses, and realized it was written specifically to Him. The entire Old Testament was a direct message to the Son and contained depths we will never understand, since the Word is a relational, personal and intimate message between the Father and Son.

This small glimpse into the meaning of this text though, is a double edged sword.  The message of encouragement to the Son of God the Father’s deliverance as an ever present promise must have given much comfort as He walked among us.

And yet there came a day when all and every circumstance seemed to be screaming that the promise of deliverance was void, null, empty.  No deliverance from death was to be provided prior to the cross.  The cross was the goal.

How upside down for my thinking!  The Messiah knew His day was coming and “He set his face like a flint to Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 50:6-7

I (Messiah) gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

Consider the Messiah’s great faith and love for the Father.  The deliverance spoken of in Psalm 91 was real and the reward of the Father to the Son.  But the deliverance was not as I expected.

You see, the deliverance was not from death, but out of death.   This is the gospel. 

1 Corinthians 15:54 – 56

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” 

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 15 57

Death is the final enemy for us all. 

We are to look on the Messiah’s work on the cross,  God the Father’s great love for us, and the victory of His resurrection. 

This is the gospel and is the great motivator of all holy living and giving of ourselves.  

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