Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Bible Says Get out of Iraq, part 3

In part 1, I discussed the implications of biblical passages (Revelation 18, Jeremiah 50-52, and others) which warn us to flee Iraq because of the destruction that will come upon it. In part 2, I discussed how these passages are an echo of the past command given to the Israelites that they should return to their homeland and help rebuild the temple, the prophecy of the punishment that they would receive for disobeying this command, the amazing fulfillment of the prophecy, and the conclusion that the literal interpretation of the Bible is reliable. In this post I will talk about the broader lesson that we can learn from Revelation 18, various interpretations of the “whore of Babylon” and two reasons why scholars may overlook the literal interpretation of it.

Babylon Symbolizes Rome?

In Revelation 13 it describes a beast “having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy”. This is the leader of the one world government, called the “man of lawlessness” or the Beast. This is the same beast which is described in the book of Daniel as being the fourth of four beasts, each representing a four kingdoms—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The “whore of Babylon” is described as the woman sitting upon a “scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” (Revelation 17:3)

Verse 9 of Revelation chapter 17 says that the seven heads represent seven hills (mountains). Scholars connect this with seven hills in Rome. The NIV study Bible note says, “It is perhaps significant that Rome began as a network of seven hill settlements on the left bank of the Tiber. Her designation as the city on seven hills is commonplace among Roman writers (e.g., Virgil, Martial, Cicero).”

Verse 18 says, “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17:6 says that the woman is “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”. These statements also fit the description of Rome at the time that the book of Revelation was written and possibly in the future (a revived Roman Empire).

Revelation 18:3 says that “the kings of the earth have committed adultery with her”. Adultery is used as a symbol of idolatry. In the Roman world, when a nation was conquered by the Roman Empire, it was allowed to keep its god(s) and a temple to its god(s) was then erected in Rome. But the conquered nation had to accept all of the other gods of the Empire as well, thus creating a single religion for the whole world.

Babylon Will Never Be Rebuilt

Jeremiah 51:26, 43 indicates that Babylon would be destroyed and never again inhabited. Isaiah 13:19-21 indicates that Arabs would not pitch their tents there. These prophecies have already been fulfilled (with astounding accuracy) of the ancient city of Babylon—Arabs living in Iraq do not live in there because they are superstitious about evil spirits living there. So the conclusion by some is that Revelation 17 and 18 can’t be talking about the real Babylon because it according to Bible prophecy it can’t be rebuilt or inhabited again. But …

Babylon is Associated with Rome

The “whore of Babylon” IS NOT THE BEAST, but she rides on it. So this only indicates an association—not that she is Rome. The Hebrew word for “Lucifer” in the KJV and “morning star” in modern versions is used only one time in the entire Old Testament (Isaiah 14:12), and it is in context of the city of Babylon. Since Satan is “the prince of this world” (John12:31, 14:30), it is reasonable to say then that literal Babylon is the “great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth”. Revelation 17:16 makes it clear that the beast and the whore do not represent the same thing, because the horns of the beast will turn against the whore.

Revelation 18:2 says that Babylon “is become the inhabitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit”. The superstition of the Arabs is more than just a superstition! Look again at Jeremiah 51:26, 43 and Isaiah 13:19-21. These prophecies about Babylon never being inhabited again clearly refer only to human inhabitants, not spirits (or animals).

One does not have to look far to see satanic influence in the governments of the world and how the world is moving toward a one world government and an adulterous one world religion just as in Roman times. Satan is clearly using Muslim fundamentalism to make all fundamentalists (including Christian fundamentalists) look like intolerant fanatics who should be made second class citizens since they do not accept an absolute pluralistic society. I even heard conservative commentator Michael Savage make a comment to the effect that the evils of Islamic fundamentalism are proof that Christian fundamentalism is bad.

Literal Babylon does fulfill Revelation 17:6. Christians have been persecuted in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and in the current situation. The most likely interpretation, however, is that this refers to Christians being persecuted all over the world as a result of the satanic influence on the governments of the world. Babylon may be considered the capital of Satan’s kingdom in this world even though Satan’s throne (or seat) is in Pergamos. (Revelation 2:13)

The other thing that skeptics do not take into account here is that the term “Babylon” is sometimes used to refer to the ancient city of Babylon and sometimes it is used to refer to the entire region of Mesopotamia (or the nation of Babylonia). Nebuchadnezzar (called the king of Babylon in Daniel 1:1) was the king of the entire Babylonian Empire, not just the city of Babylon. There would be no point in giving a commandment to “get out of her” (Revelation 18:4) if this is referring only to a city that remains to this day uninhabited by humans.

In my next post (which will be next Thursday), I will talk about the broader lesson that we can learn from Revelation 18.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Bible Says Get out of Iraq, part 2

In part 1, I discussed the implications of biblical passages (Revelation 18, Jeremiah 50-52, and others) which warn us to flee Iraq because of the destruction that will come upon it. In this post, I will discuss how these passages are an echo of the past command given to the Israelites that they should return to their homeland and help rebuild the temple, the prophecy of the punishment that they would receive for disobeying this command, and the amazing fulfillment of the prophecy.

The Israelites had already been punished for their idolatry by being taken captive by the Babylonians for seventy years. The captivity had ended (because the Medes and the Persians had conquered them) and King Cyrus gave the decree that the people who were taken captive could return their own countries. God sent prophets at that time and previously to say that Jewish people should return to land of their forefathers. But some of them had become comfortable in Babylon and they had successful businesses. So they disobeyed.

Leviticus 26:17-18 warns, “…they that hate you shall reign over you…and if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.” Leviticus 26:21, 28 says, “…I will bring seven times more plagues…and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.” This was written by Moses, long before the captivity. God told Ezekiel: “For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, 390 days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.” If one takes the total figure, 430 years (each day representing one year) and subtract the 70 years of captivity, one gets 360 years. If this remaining punishment is multiplied by 7 at the end of the Babylonian captivity, then this makes 2520 years of additional punishment. According to Grant Jeffery, if each year is counted as 360 days (as it was at that time), then this figure is exactly the number of days from the end of the Babylonian captivity (536 B.C.) to the rebirth of the nation of Israel on May 15, 1948! Isaiah 66:8 says, “Who hath heard of such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as Zion travailed, she brought forth children.”

The Bible isn’t some old book that has no relevance for political leaders today. How can you ignore a book that predicts events even in recent history with such astounding accuracy? As I said in my previous post, God will require our blood for the 50 million babies that have aborted in this country (Genesis 9:5, 6).

What about the idea that “Babylon” is really symbolic, and does not really refer to the modern day nation of Iraq? Dozens of prophesies about the gathering of the Jews back into the land of Israel are sprinkled throughout the books of the prophets. Bible believing scholars at one time thought that this meant Christians being gathered into heaven at the coming of the Lord (because the reestablishment of the Israelite nation seemed extremely unlikely). While I agree that there is a broader lesson that is being taught in Revelation 18, time and time again, the literal interpretation of biblical prophecy has always been proven right. Revelation 18:4 should be no exception. In my next post (which will be next Thursday), I will talk about the popular alternative interpretation of Revelation 18. I should point out that Grant Jeffery probably does not agree with my interpretation of this passage or my political position on the war in Iraq.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Bible Says Get out of Iraq, part 1

I have a word from the Lord. It is beneficial for politicians to look to the Bible for answers to political questions instead relying on one’s own knowledge and wisdom above God’s.

Turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 18. (Read the whole chapter, if you have time.) Verse 2 says, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen…” Verse 4 says, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Is this clear enough? This passage is also backed up by Jeremiah 51:6, 45, 58.

The lives of 3000 American soldiers would have spared if President Bush would have paid more close attention to the Scriptures. If we pull out now we can be spared more deaths. We do not have to worry about the terrorists in Iraq. God will pay them back double (verse 6) “and her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; she shall be utterly burned with fire” (verse 8). We just need to get out of God’s way so that he can accomplish this, “for in one hour is thy judgment come.” (verse 9) Jeremiah 51:42 says, “The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof.”

The sentiment that we should help the Iraqis is good one, but the Bible says that it is hopeless! Jeremiah 51:9 says, “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth up to heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.”

The liberals say that the “Christian right” politicians who use the Scriptures to guide their policy have caused the unnecessary deaths of 3000 American soldiers. I say, “Which Bible are you reading?” The problem is that we are not following the Scriptures closely enough. If ignoring an obscure passage like Revelation 18 has cost us 3000 lives, how many lives will God require of us for the injustice of legalized abortion, which is condemned by dozens of well-known Bible verses? The Bible guarantees that the blood of every one of the 50 million babies that have aborted in this country will be avenged (Genesis 9:5, 6).

The prophecies in Jeremiah 50-52 and Isaiah 48:20, 52:11 were directed toward the Israelites at the end of Babylonian captivity. The fact that they are echoed in Revelation 18 clearly indicates that they apply to our time as well. I will talk more about this, Lord willing, next Thursday. Interestingly, the message to get out of Iraq (Mesopotamia or Ur of the Chaldees) was also given to Abraham (then called Abram). See Acts 7:2, 3.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Which Day of the Week Did Christ Die?

The “Parts of Days” Theory

The traditionally accepted day of Jesus’ crucifixion is Good Friday. But did Jesus really die on Friday? Consider Matthew 12:40. Many commentaries say that in the Jewish way of reckoning time, a part of a day could be included as one in whole numbers of days. This is reasonable, but if Jesus were crucified and buried during the day on Friday, then even if one would counts parts as whole, there would only be two nights in between the time of the crucifixion and Sunday morning, the traditional time at which it is believed that the resurrection occurred. This would clearly contradict Matthew 12:40.

In contrast, the “whole days and whole nights” theory would require that Jesus would be in the heart of the earth 3 full days and 3 full nights.

There are many other places in the Bible where the phrase “(number) days and (number) nights” is used, but in none of them is there any conclusive proof that I can see of either theory being right. In most of them the number is forty. There is one passage other than the one in Jonah where the number is three. This is I Samuel 30:12. In Job there is one where the number is seven.

Christ Really was Resurrected on Sunday Morning

Suppose that Jesus was resurrected on Monday or Tuesday. First, it is clear that the women arrived at the tomb on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1,2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1). It is also clear from these accounts that at this point Jesus had already been resurrected. It clearly could not have been that women came to the tomb the following Sunday after a Monday or Tuesday resurrection, because that day was the third day since the crucifixion (Luke 24:13, 21).

Day Ordinals

One interpretation of ordinal time periods is that the first begins as the event occurred. So, in this case, everything that happened within 24 hours after the crucifixion would be on the first day, from 24 to 48 hours the second day, and from 48 to 72 hours the third day. Another interpretation is that everything that happened on the same day as an event happened on the first day, everything that happened on the next day would be considered a second day event, and so on. The Jewish day begins when day becomes night. If Jesus was crucified and buried during the day on Friday, this would fit with Luke 24:46 and the second interpretation, but there is still the problem with Matthew 12:40. Both interpretations agree with the way that this terminology is used in Genesis 1. Other third day references include Hosea 6:2, Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 24:7.

Esther 4:16 uses the expression “for three days, night or day” to describe a period of fasting, which according to 5:1 and following apparently ended on the third day or shortly thereafter. This passage does not shed much light on the subject, because the phrase “three days and three nights” is much stronger. That is, it is not necessary that there be any more than 2 full nights, not even an additional fraction of night is necessary, unless a day means a whole cycle of light and dark. In that case, in order for the 4:16 expression to strictly agree with either third day ordinal expression, the fast had to have ended at a precise instant in time, exactly 72 hours later and at exactly sundown. However, the fast could have ended shortly after the end of the third day.

Other 3 Day Expressions

Mark 8:31 uses the expression “after 3 days”. Mk 10:34 says, in modern versions, “3 days later”. John 2:19 says, “I will destroy this temple and rebuild it in three days.” We will return to these expressions later.

Why Friday?

The Gospels clearly indicate that when Jesus was buried, it was Preparation Day, or the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:42). The Sabbath began at sunset Friday evening, of course.

Wednesday and Thursday Dates--The “Special Sabbath” Theory

What if the Sabbath spoken of in the above passages was not the usual Sabbath, but a special Sabbath? (Deuteronomy 16:8, John 19:31) Since the Passover sacrifice and the first of the two special Sabbaths (Exodus 12:16) occur on the first of the seven days of the feast, this means that Jesus and his apostles ate the Passover meal a day or two early, which is confirmed by John 18:28. (The second special Sabbath occurs on the seventh day of the feast.) For the Wednesday crucifixion date, the “whole days and whole nights” theory is employed. In this case, the resurrection would have to have occurred strictly before the Sunday sunrise, or else it there would be four full nights. This theory, however, clearly contradicts Luke 24:21. By the first day ordinal interpretation, the resurrection would have happened on the fourth day, and by the second interpretation it would have been on the fifth day! By no stretch of the imagination could it have been on the third day. Also, if this were true, then why did the women wait until Sunday to go the tomb, when they could have gone on Friday? The Thursday date would agree with both the “parts of days” theory and the first interpretation of ordinal days. But do Jews have two Sabbaths in a row, or is there an exception made when the first day of the feast falls on a Friday? (This would be the preparation day for the regular Sabbath.) I’m not sure, but there is an explanation that is more likely than Thursday crucifixion “Special Sabbath” theory, one which I prefer.

The Darkening of the Sun

Look at Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, 34, Luke 23:44, 45. Note the different wordings of Luke 23:45 in the different versions. The NIV version says that the “sun stopped shining.” Other versions say that the sun was obscured or darkened. The Greek word that is used here is e`klei‘pw. Strong’s concordance says that it means to leave out, leave off, or by implication, to cease. It comes from two words meaning “to leave” and “out of”. The word is used in another passage that clearly means to run out of (money). This meaning applied to the sun implies that the entire sun did not necessarily leave at once, but it is possible that it left portions at a time until it was darkened.

Note that the beginning of the period of darkness began at about the sixth hour and ended at about the ninth hour, which was when Jesus’ death occurred. The commentaries say that this 3 hour period was from noon to 3 P.M. (compare Amos 8:9). Genesis 1 defines a day as being “an evening and a morning”, or a cycle of light and darkness. A whole day and a whole night does not necessarily have to be 24 hours. Consider Joshua’s long day (Joshua 10:1-15) and Hezekiah’s sign (2 Kings 20:9-11). The period of darkness which occurred from the sixth hour to the ninth hour could constitute an extra night (in the “parts of days” theory) and the following period of daylight before sundown could constitute an extra day. Note that the darkness “came over the whole earth (or land)”. This was not a local event. Looking at the second verse of Psalm 22, a psalm noted for its many prophecies about the crucifixion, note that it mentions day first, then (the extra) night, in the same order as happened during the crucifixion. A Friday date for the moment of death would now work with the “parts of days” theory and either of the two interpretations of ordinal days, assuming that He died before the period of darkness was over and rose with the rising of the sun on Sunday. (In the first interpretation, the first day would only be about 6 hours instead of 24.)

The Eight-Day Week Theory

One objection to this is that if the crucifixion began on Friday, and if the period of darkness constitutes an extra night, then wouldn’t this be the beginning of the real Sabbath, instead of what I’m calling the next day? The Scriptures make it clear that it was Preparation Day and that the Sabbath was beginning at sundown. It wasn’t just that the Jews thought that the Sabbath was about to begin (recall the above Scriptures under the paragraph “Why Friday?”). An explanation for this would be that the crucifixion began on Thursday, which became Friday with the noon darkness, and then the Sabbath began with the later sunset. But if this were the case, it is unlikely that the Jews would think to count an extra day in this way and feel the need to bury the body before sunset. Similarly, it is unlikely that the two on the road to Emmaus would have counted the extra day in their conversation in Luke 24:21, but it still would be reasonable for them to have used the term “third day” if second interpretation of day ordinals is correct.

I have a different explanation which I prefer, and that is that the extra day did not count as an extra day of the week. This idea depends on several things, some of which I’m not sure of. First is that the NIV or KJV translations of Luke 23:45 are correct and not the NASV. That is, the Sun was darkened or actually stopped shinning--it was not a sunset. Second is that while a new day always begins when light becomes darkness, the Sabbath can only begin at sunset. There is no verse that that I know of that specifically says this, at least not of a regular Sabbath, but consider how well Deuteronomy 16:6 fits in with all of this (note also the different renderings of this verse). This would mean that for this week, and this week only, there was extra day of the week, making an eight day week. So, if this is all true, the answer to the original question would be that it is a day that has no name. Amos 8:9 could be explained by saying that though the Sun was “brought down”, it did not actually set, but the real reason for the darkness was either that the Sun actually stopped shinning or that it was obstructed by something else besides the horizon. But it seems unlikely that an obstruction other than the horizon itself would constitute an extra day, since this happens all the time with clouds and eclipses and so forth. Again, this was definitely not just a local event. So this idea is probably incompatible with the NASV rendering of Luke 23:45. It could be that Amos 8:9 isn’t even talking about the darkness at the crucifixion at all, but rather some future apocalyptic event.

Other possible explanations involving an extra day could work in conjunction with the “Special Sabbath” theory.

The Heart of the Earth

Another objection to extra day theories is that Jesus’ burial did not happen until after the period of darkness was over, so therefore, the “parts of days” theory fails. But Jesus’ tomb was hardly “in heart of the earth” as Matthew 12:40 says. When taken literally, the heart of the earth clearly means the solid inner core of the earth, which is believed to be composed of nickel and iron. So it is obvious that Jesus was speaking of His Spirit, and not His physical body when He was talking about being “in the heart of the earth” (compare Ephesians 4:9, Romans 10:7, I Peter 3:19). I do not believe that there are any verses in the Bible that count days from Christ’s burial.

The “After Three Days” Objection

The expression “after three days” used in Mark 8:31 and “three days later” in Mark 10:34 would seem to indicate that at least three full daytime periods occurred between the death and resurrection. Even if this were true, this can be explained by saying that these passages are referring to the time of the beginning of Christ’s crucifixion because these refer to when he was killed, not when he died. When Jesus was put on the cross, nothing else had to be done to Him physically in order for Him to have died. In other words, the act of killing Him had already taken place. The third day passages also count from the time that He was killed or crucified or suffered. Applying this interpretation of killing to these passages does not affect the “Eight-Day Week” theory. John 2:19 uses the phrase “in three days” which implies that it would be less than or equal to 3 days. I believe that Matthew 12:40 is the only verse in the Bible that definitively counts days from the moment of death with a lower limit.

Further Significance of the Sun and its Darkening

From beginning to end, the Bible is so rich with symbols referring to Jesus, and one of the most important is that of the Sun. Consider how the Messiah is refereed to as being “the Sun of Righteousness” in Malachi 4:2. It is so appropriate that the Sun would be brought down and/or darkened at His death. More importantly, the Sun rose when the Son rose! There are so many passages in the OT which make symbolic reference to the resurrection in this way (see why Hosea 6:3 follows Hosea 6:2, for example).

Consider also the context of Matthew 12:40. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for sign. Luke 11 records the same occasion, and get this, verse 16 even records that they were specifically looking for a sign from heaven! How ironic! They got the sign that they wanted, but they still mocked Jesus even while it was happening!

Finally consider Revelation 6:12. The darkening of the Sun can symbolize not only the death of the Savior, but also the removal of his presence from the earth during the end times. Passages such as this should be taken as both literal events that will take place and symbolic of Christ.

I have some Christian apologists say that there were historians who recorded the event of the darkening of the Sun during the Passover 32 A.D.


My point in writing this is not to split hairs about times and dates so much as to point out that the Bible should be taken for what it says, even if it seems contradictory. The literal meaning of passages should not be ignored just because they are poetic or because they symbolize something. The Scripture is full of passages that have double or even triple meanings, each of which have equal validity. I thought of the “Eight-Day Week” theory on my own. If anyone reading this finds a commentary with this or similar extra day theories in it, I’d like to see it. I don’t know Greek, so if anyone has knowledge of what the best literal translation of Luke 23:45 is, I’d like to know this. Also if anyone can clarify exactly when the Passover sacrifice and meal are in relation to the first “Special Sabbath”, and if there are any irregularities such as possible cases where two consecutive Sabbaths are not allowed. I’d like to know this too. Also one could theoretically determine when this special Sabbath was in relation to the nearest regular Sabbath in 30 A.D. or in a range of a few years on either side of it (is the exact year of the crucifixion known?) I would appreciate this to help me with further development, modification, verification, or possible abandonment of this theory.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Reverse Timeline Theory

Several months ago I watched the program Breakthrough with pastor Rod Parsley. In this particular program, he had a guest speaker, a Dr. Perry Stone who spoke about “hidden messages” in the Bible. No, this was not one of those episodes about the skip sequence “messages” in the Old Testament collectively called the Bible Code. Stone’s conjecture on this program is that events in Genesis 1-11 foreshadow end time events in reverse order. The strongest point that Dr. Stone makes is that he can prove using this reverse timeline that rapture of the church will take place before the tribulation. The basis of his idea, he says, is Ecclesiastes 1:9 which says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

First of all, the context of the passage in Ecclesiastes 1:9 is that the same things happen over and over again—it is not (at least directly) speaking of a foreshadowing of future events by things that symbolize those events. However, I agree that there are many, many things in the Old and New Testaments which foreshadow future events. One example is the lamb’s blood being put on the doorposts being a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Christ. So I would concede that point without benefit of Ecclesiastes 1:9. However, there is certainly nothing about a series of events occurring in reverse order in this verse. The verse could (if it really were talking about “hidden messages”) just as easily be talking about events in the same order rather than in reverse. This is what one would naturally think. This verse certainly does not declare when in Biblical history one should start looking for the first (or last as it were) event which foreshadows the first end time event. Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that Mr. Stone’s general idea is right.

According to Stone, the tower of Babel incident is a type of the September 11th attacks. He states that both events divided the world. He mentions the connection between the war in Iraq and Babel/Babylon (which is located in modern day Iraq). The Bible does not mention that the tower of Babel was destroyed by terrorists or that it caused a war. He mentions the connection between Babylon and the government of the Beast. If the twin towers (there are two and not one as in the biblical story) are symbolic of Tower of Babel which was located in Babylon, then this would make United States of America the kingdom of the antichrist. There are people who believe this who protest at funerals for soldiers who died in Iraq. You are welcome to their opinion if you wish, but I’ll pass on that. There have been many issues which have divided the world throughout history. The tower of Babel incident could just as easily be a foreshadowing of something else. The day of Pentecost is a reverse of the tower of Babel. That is, languages were “unconfused” and cultural traditions which divided people were soon made obsolete in the church. I don’t see the connection between confusion of languages and the terrorist attacks. I don’t believe that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with it either.

Mr. Stone mentions the connection between the story of how Ham looked upon Noah’s drunken nakedness and modern day issues of homosexuality and drunkenness. As a result, of Ham’s sin, it was not Ham, but his son Canaan that was cursed. I don’t know what this means as far as types of the future, but I just thought I’d call attention to that detail as food for thought. I’ll concede the connection between Canaan and homosexuality, but this has always been an issue. Ditto on the drunkenness (or what he said that it symbolized). Ditto on the connection between abortion and man’s blood being shed (Genesis 9:5). Go back and read Ecclesiastes 1:9 again, Dr. Stone. It says, “There is nothing new under sun.”

Dr. Stone mentions that the dove that Noah sent out during the Flood is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. He mentions that the prophet Joel (2:28-32) prophesied that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit. I would assume that Mr. Stone believes in the Pentecostal movement and supernatural spiritual gifts. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street revival is touted by TBN as being the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy. This out of order in Mr. Stone’s chronology as this happened nearly a century before the September 11th attacks.

Dr. Stone cites the Great Flood as being a type of the Tsunami, and other modern day disasters. Many liberal scholars and unbelievers say that the Biblical Flood was local, Bible clearly states that Great Flood was world wide. With the exception of those living on the ark, God “wipe(d) from the face of the earth every living creature (He had) made.” (Genesis 7:4) No event such as this yet happened, but Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the son of man.” (Matthew 24:37) The pattern of prophetic parallelisms in the Bible is that small things foreshadow big things. There were likely millions of people who perished in Flood and everyone in the whole world was immediately affected. There are two climactic events of the book of Revelation where essentially everyone alive is judged.

The first is in Revelation 19:11-21. Jesus Christ himself strikes down the nations (verse 15) and birds gorge themselves on “the flesh all people” (verse 18). There are many references to this event in the Old Testament, especially Isaiah. It says that there will be so much blood, that the mountains will melt (34:3). In many places it speaks of a time when there will be very few people left alive on the earth. The flood clearly foreshadows this point in history.

The other climactic event is the White Throne Judgment. This is when everyone who is dead is resurrected to be judged. Instead of being drowned in water, people are brought forth out the sea (Revelation 20:13). Like the Great Flood, this is a judgment in which whole world is judged and relatively few are saved.

The striking down of the nations, I would say, would fit the Flood better than the White Throne Judgment. Neither of these interpretations fit with Mr. Stone’s pre-tribulationist eschatology (as you will see in the next paragraph). Nowhere in Dr. Stone’s chronology does he mention these great climaxes in biblical prophecy. They just don’t fit with anything else in Genesis 1-11.

The pivotal claim that Dr. Stone makes in this piece that the translation of Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24 is a type of the rapture in that famous passage in I Thessalonians 4. This claim does make some sense, but it is also connected with the ascension of Christ (which also foreshadows the rapture). But, if Dr. Stone’s theory is correct, we should expect some major cataclysmic event (foreshadowed by the Flood) to happen before the rapture. What else could this be but the striking down of the nations, which happens at the end of the Great Tribulation?

We creationists tend to think that God created everything perfect in the beginning, but because of Adam’s sin, things get worse and worse as time goes along. We tend to believe that millennial reign of Christ will restore the physical state of the earth back to the way it was before the Flood. In particular, the average life expectancy in these two dispensations is similar. Note that in Isaiah 65:17-25 people live longer than now, but they do eventually die. But the millennial reign of Christ is to be a dispensation of peace and the world was full violence in the years just before the Flood. The earth would likely have been more peaceful before Enoch was translated, which was roughly 987 years from the creation of Adam (check my calculations from Genesis 5:3-24 and make sure I’m right). We don’t know the exact number because these numbers are rounded. The 1000 years of the millennial reign of Christ could also be rounded figure.

Now let’s look at what Dr. Stone claims will happen after the rapture. He says that Cain killing Abel is a type of the Great Tribulation. This, he says, is the persecution of the church (which is supposed to be gone). OK, I get it. Another church is formed by new Christian converts after the rapture. I guess that makes sense if you only pick out certain passages instead taking what the Bible as a whole. Anyway, Stone tries to make a connection between the mark put on Cain and the mark of the Beast. The word for “mark” in Greek that is used in Revelation in the phrase “the mark of the Beast” means a sharpening or incision. Eschatologists have speculated that this could mean that this “mark” could be some kind of microchip implanted through an incision in the hand or forehead. The Hebrew word for mark is not that specific. The NAS does not even use this word “mark” in the instance of Cain’s punishment, but rather the word “sign”. This is how that Hebrew word is most frequently translated in the Old Testament in most versions.

Dr. Stone also tries to make some connection between the statements of the murderer Lamech (the descendent of Cain) and the Great Tribulation. The passage reads: “If Cain be avenged seven times, then Lamech shall be avenged 70 times seven times.” It is true that the judgments in Revelation (which occur during the tribulation and not after) occur in sevens. The way I read this is that Lamech is saying that he wants vengeance against God for the punishment he received. This is not saying that Cain received a sevenfold punishment. The figure 490 was the number years declared for the Jews and the “holy city for the finishing of transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” (Daniel 9:24) This 490 year period began with the giving of the order to rebuild the city. Jesus Christ was baptized and began his ministry exactly 483 years after this order just as verse 25 says. There is much speculation about whether the last seven or the last half of the last seven is suspended until the Tribulation. Even if this is true, most of the 490 year period has nothing to do with the Tribulation. It only could end during or at the end of it. I certainly wouldn’t build a whole doctrine around one interpretation or another. 490 was also the number of times Jesus said that you should forgive someone who sins against you. How does that have anything to do with the tribulation? Dr. Stone really grasps at straws when he goes outside the written word for evidence that Cain split Abel’s head with a scythe or something like that which hadn’t been invented yet (Genesis 4:22 gives the impression that Lamech’s son Tubal-Cain invented metal working). This is not the same thing as a beheading (Revelation 20:4).

Lamech was probably born after Enoch was translated (we don’t know for sure because no chronology is given for Cain’s line). Dr. Stone seems to base his chronology upon the order that things appear in the text and not chronological order.

If Abel’s murder is not a type of the Tribulation, then what could it be? Most scholars say that Abel was a type of Christ. Jesus declared that generation (or the race) of his day was guilty of Abel’s murder. The crying out from the ground of Abel’s blood is sometimes paralleled to the blood of Christ crying out on behalf of sinners. This is out of order with Stone’s chronology. I will point out the Stone, as well as most other pre-tribulationists rarely speak of the passage in Revelation 20:7-10 which is what happens immediately after the millennium. I can’t quite see how this fits with the story of Cain and Abel, but it’s no worse than Stone’s interpretation.

Clearly, the conditions on the earth before Adam sinned were totally perfect. This period taken as whole, therefore, more closely represents eternity in heaven and not the millennium. The millennium-Sabbath theory is whole other ballgame. This is beyond the scope of what I want to write about in this article.

In conclusion, even if the reverse timeline theory is correct, it definitely does not prove that the rapture will take place before the tribulation. If anything, it shows the opposite, but this theory is very shaky in the first place. Why waste valuable TV time preaching about “hidden messages” in the Bible, when there are so many people who need hear the message which is not hidden. They need to be convicted in their hearts that they are sinners and they need to see the need for God’s grace.

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

What the Bible has to Say about Covering and Shaving One’s Head

In the Old Testament

There were head coverings for Aaron and his sons called turbans (Exodus 28:40, 29:6, 9, 39:28, Leviticus 8:9-13, Ezekiel 21:26, Daniel 3:21, Zechariah 3:5). It seems likely that these turbans were for all priests (all the descendants of Aaron), but not for the general male Israelite population. An uncovered head was a sign of mourning for a priest (Leviticus 10:6, Ezekiel 24:17). But for the rest of the men, covering one’s head was sign of mourning or shame (II Samuel 15:30, Jeremiah 14:4, Esther 6:12).

Priests were not usually supposed to shave their heads, but they were not to have long hair either (Ezekiel 44:20). Shaving one’s head was also a sign of mourning for males (Job 1:20, Isaiah 15:2, 22:12, Jeremiah 16:6, 48:37, Amos 8:10, Ezekiel 17:18).

Moses put a veil over his head after he had received the Ten Commandments because his face was so bright from having been in the presence of God, that it was blinding (Exodus 34:35). Paul said that this incident symbolizes that a veil was put over their hearts which prevented them from understanding the true meaning of the Ten Commandments. This veil was removed by Christ (II Corinthians 3:14). We have (symbolically) unveiled faces in Christ (II Corinthians 3:18).

The covering of a woman’s face was a sign of prostitution (Genesis 38:15). This is much different from a head covering like the turban the priests wore. This was a veil over the face which was meant to tantalize men (Ezekiel 13:18).

When captive women were taken as wives, they had to shave their heads (Deuteronomy 21:12). This could have been to mourn for the people of their country who were killed by the Israelites in battle. It also could have been a form of purification for the women, since they were “unclean” Gentiles.

Lepers had to cover themselves from head to toe (Leviticus 13:12). This was, presumably, to prevent the spreading of disease.

In the New Testament

The most famous passage about covering of the head in the New Testament is, of course, I Corinthians 11. It says that “Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—just as though it were shaved.” (verses 4 and 5)

I want to point out that no where in I Corinthians 11 does it say anything about a church service. So verse 5 and 13 should apply to every prayer and prophecy, not just in a church service.

Why would Paul use arguments based on Adam and Eve (verses 8 and 9) and the angels (verse 10)? Paul was not changing Jewish custom, but the Levitical priesthood was being done away with (see Hebrews 7:11, 12). All Christians are priests (Revelation 1:6), but it is not the Levitical order. There is a different order (Hebrews 7:17) in which the laws of the Levitical priesthood do not apply (Hebrews 7:18). The Levitical priesthood was only a type of what was to come. Therefore, I can’t say that this is just a cultural issue.

There is some controversy over whether the “covering of the head” refers to something put on the head or hair. The NIV footnote has a different rendering to this effect. What is written in the text seems to support the idea that it is something put on the head. The Greek word for uncovered (177) in verse is the Greek antonym for the Greek word for covered (2619) in verses 7, and cover (two times) in verse 6. These are the only three places in the Bible where this word is used. A different Greek word (4018) is used for covering (of hair) in verse 15. The only other place in the Bible where this Greek word is used is in Hebrews 1:12, speaking of how God will roll up the heavens and the earth as a garment or mantle. The word covered in the NIV of verse 4 is not from any Greek word. The NAS reads, “Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head.” (The word something is italicized because there is no Greek word that this comes from. It is added by the translators just so that the sentence makes sense in English.)

Verse 14 says, “Does not the very nature of things tell you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him”. In this passage, the Greek word for nature (5449) comes from the Greek word for natural (5446) in the passage in Romans 1:26, 27 which speaks of “natural functions” as opposed to homosexual ones.


Paul says, “Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” (I Corinthians 11:13) “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.” (I Corinthians 11:16)