Friday, February 18, 2005

A Plague of Locusts

This post is from my previous blog, Ear to the Heavens. Enjoy.

The Revelation Chapter 9, Verses 1-11

“1 Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

"7 The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. 8 They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. 9 And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. 10 They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is ‘Abaddon,’ but in Greek he has the name ‘Apollyon.’”

Recently, I have completed a screenplay based on the book of The Revelation. Unlike many other screenwriters who have previously tackled the material, I have wanted my tale to be a matter-of-fact action/adventure/thriller that adhered more-closely to the original text.

My brother and I have seen just about every movie there is about the end times and have yet to see one done well or one that didn’t stray so far from the source material as to be downright ludicrous. My ultimate goal for the screenplay is to see it made into a professionally done film with quality that is on par with Hollywood's best. I have also hoped to make an accurate telling of the story that will entertain and maybe educate - not merely to convert unbelievers through the medium of fear.

So, I studied a lot. I've already taught the book of The Revelation many times before and I felt I had a solid grasp of the material. But of course, every time I've studied or taught the book, I've discovered something new that alters my understanding of it. So it was, during the time I worked on the screenplay, I discovered many little things in the text that made me pause to consider my then-current understanding. But there is one thing in particular that really stood out.

When I got to dealing with the locusts in Revelation 9, I had no idea where to start or how to work them into the storyline. The passage has always been one of interest. I can hearken back to those who believed The Beatles were somehow connected to Revelation 9 because of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's avant-garde piece on The Beatles' White Album called Revolution 9. They also believed the locusts were The Beatles because of the description found there in the passage: they had long hair like women, but faces of men; their breastplates were interpreted to be electric guitars and the stinging tails were the cables that ran from their guitars to their amps; their loud music affected two thirds of the world and caused pain for 5 months, etc.

This particular interpretation was of little or no use to me. I was quite sure I couldn’t get Paul McCartney to appear in my movie.

I needed to fictionalize the account of the locusts without betraying the original meaning of the text. I didn't want to allegorize them as helicopters, etc. It was obvious, to me, from their description that they were demonic at the least. So I began to meditate on the locusts and who they might be.

What I ultimately discovered helped me put together some of the most bizarre passages of scripture into a clearer picture that I had never seen before.

Genesis 6, verses 1 and 2 read, "Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose"

Genesis 6:2 says that the sons of God - the ben elohiym - took whichever women they wanted as wives because they were beautiful. The Hebrew "ben elohiym" is a term that speaks directly of the angelic realm. “Ben elohiym” translates to “Sons of God” and is used only of those beings that are “directly” created by God: Adam and the Angels.

Let's hold our thumb here in Genesis for a moment and look at an interesting verse in Jude. Jude verse 6-7 says, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

I believe that the passage in Genesis 6 speaks of the same angels spoken of in Jude - angels who left heaven, took on a human-like form, and then took for themselves human wives.

Genesis 6:4 reads, "There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."

These unions of fallen angels and humans resulted in numerous mutations - giants that were the “mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” I suggest that this is the historical basis for Greek and Roman mythologies. Apollo, Hercules, and Zeus: these characters were likely based on the genetically corrupted offspring of human women and angels. The giants spoken of in this passage were the ancestors to the Moabites, the Ammonites, and in particular, those like Goliath.

The Hebrew word that is translated as “giants” is “Nephilim” from the root word, “naphal” which means “cast down, or fallen.” “Nephilim” means “fallen ones.” Are these giants the offspring of “fallen” angels, the ben elohiym – those spoken of in Genesis 6:1&2 and Jude verse 6?

Genesis 6:9 reads, "This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God."

Finally, Genesis 6:12 reads, "So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth."

It would seem that Noah was pure and undefiled as described above in verse 9. Yet, as indicted in verse 12, the rest of the world had, “corrupted their way on the earth.”

Was God’s reason for destroying the Earth to purify it of demonic corruption and to save Noah and his family from it? There are those who suggest that Satan hoped to corrupt the human race by defiling it and, in so doing, prevent the coming of the Messiah. Although his evil plan was delayed by the flood, it would seem that Satan tried again as indicated in verse 4, where it reads, “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward…”

It would seem that these fallen angels were involved with human-kind not only before the flood, as described in Genesis chapter 6, but also after the flood. Did their corruption of the human race involve not only intermarriage, but also the promotion of godless sexual behavior, like that described in Genesis 19 and spoken of in Jude verse 7? Was the godless hedonism of Sodom and Gomorrah demonically influenced?

Sodom and Gomorrah were huge cities and would be ideal places to concentrate a plan devised to corrupt all of human flesh once more.

Let’s leave Jude for a moment and go to Romans, the first chapter, verses 26 and 27.

“26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

“27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

In context, Paul is talking about those who have forsaken the self-manifested evidence of God and sought after the lusts of the flesh. God “gave them up” to the basest acts of hedonism, including homosexuality.

A side note…

God is a God of passion and conviction and desires that we be people of passion and conviction.

The Revelation 3:15-16 reads, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

If we love Him, he desires that we love him with all our heart! “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.” (Mar 12:30) As a result, the scripture is clear that if we seek God and love him, He will reinforce that love.

Likewise, if we hate God, it would seem He wants us to do it with our all. In the Exodus story, Pharaoh hardened his heart 7 times before God hardened his heart even more.

It’s as though the Lord is saying, “Do you love me? Then love me with all you have! Be passionate about it. Here, let me help you love me more. Do you hate me? Then don’t be wishy-washy about it- hate me with passion. Here, let me help.”

Now, let me get back to my original point.

In Jude verse 6, we read “kept not their first estate” and verse 7, “going after strange flesh” which reminded me of Romans chapter 1, verse 27, “leaving the natural use.” How are angels related to human homosexual behavior?

It was interesting to me that Jude verse 7 likens “the angels which kept not their first estate” to “Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh.” Jude seems to make a correlation between the two.

With this in mind, there seemed, to me, to be a tie-in between the homosexual behavior in Sodom and Gomorrah and “the angels which kept not their first estate.” So again, I ask, was the godless hedonism of Sodom and Gomorrah demonically influenced? Were the fallen ben elohiym there in Sodom and Gomorrah encouraging “fornication, and going after strange flesh?”

Remember that screenplay?

I began with the premise that perhaps someone was spelunking in a deep cave when suddenly confronted by escaping winged demoniacs. So I asked the question, “where is the deepest cave on earth.” My research led me to discover that most deep caves have very narrow passages and forcing a thick black cloud of demoniacs through such tight spaces didn’t seem very viable from a story-telling perspective. So, I killed that idea. (After all, I’m claustrophobic and climbing around in caves is not my idea of a good time.)

Out of frustration, I went to my favorite internet search engine and I searched on the phrase, “deepest place on earth.” Every search engine return was about some deep underwater trench. Wet demoniacs didn’t seem viable, either. I tried again.

This time, I entered the phrase, “lowest place on earth.” I was surprised at the returns I received. It seems the lowest place on earth, below sea level, is the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the location of the former Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a place of destruction. Standing there, on its shores, is like standing at ground zero in Hiroshima, or at the World Trade Center.

Needless to say, The locusts from Revelation 9 aren’t locusts as we know or understand. They have a King! “And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.”

Apollyon appears only this one time in scripture, and it is a proper name. This King of the locusts is named, Apollyon. But, the meaning of that name is closest to the Hebrew word Hebrew word found in Job 31:12, “'abaddown” which translates, “place of destruction, destruction, ruin, and abyss.” His very name means “place of destruction.”

The place where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood is most definitely a “place of destruction.” This is another apparent connection between Sodom and Gomorrah and Revelation 9.

In Jude 6 we read that the angels are “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” The word “unto” is from the Greek word “eis” which can be translated “for” or “towards.” The implication is that there is a purpose in the reservation of these fallen angels. They are being held for some future event – in chains which must be unlocked at some point.

I believe the future event is the torment of mankind for 5 months during the Great Tribulation.

I believe that the angels reserved in chains (Jude 6) were in Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed it. I think that they were in the great cities of that day, continuing to do all they could to corrupt mankind and somehow thwart the plan of God.

I believe those same fallen angels have been imprisoned in that very spot, under the Dead Sea, awaiting the moment when an angel from heaven will descend into that “abyss” – that place of destruction - with a key to release them onto mankind during the Great Tribulation.

In short, I believe that Jude’s angels in chains are the locusts of Revelation 9. And those angels have been imprisoned in chains and darkness for 4000 years awaiting their release upon humanity. Imagine their hostility and their rage!

Now, I was able to write the scene in the screenplay. What is the premise I wrote surrounding these locusts? You’ll have to see the movie.

But wait!

Some will argue that none of this is possible because angels are not corporal beings. Yet there is no biblical evidence to support that idea. Are angels spiritual beings? Yes. Are they bound to that dimensional realm? Apparently, they are not. Can they take on a corporal form when they cross into our dimensional realm? Apparently, yes. There is enough scriptural evidence of human and angel interaction to suggest that angels can take on a physical human form.

There are a lot of bible scholars who reject this. They seem to be ashamed of spiritual or supernatural things. Their intellect stands in the way of accepting what the scripture clearly seems to state. To them, for the sake of reason, there must be a rational, temporal explanation for things and anything with the slightest hint of the “strange” or “unusual” is shunned.

What I find strange about this attitude is that we're talking about a religion in which we believe that one man paid for the sin of the entire world by hanging on a Roman cross and that that man rose from the dead amidst angels 3 days later - causing the dead to rise and walk the streets of Jerusalem - and then 40 days later ascended without mechanical aid into the heavens and there, He sits at the right hand of God as our advocate against the accusations of a fallen angel. How much more bizarre can you get?

Many scholars try to explain that Genesis 6: 1-2 is referring to a “Godly line” of Seth that intermingles with pagan women of the line of Cain, etc. How that possibly explains the gigantism described in verse 4 is a mystery to me. Not only that, but there is no indication that there was ever any Godly line and how Godly could they be if they married ungodly women? No, the corruption spoken of in Genesis 12 was far greater than sinfulness. They had corrupted all flesh. There was more going on here than mere disobedience.

The reality is, there are some very strange things going on in the Bible, and Paul states clearly, that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the spiritual realm. There is real power and activity behind the scenes that must be recognized and appreciated. Our God is greater than all of that, and He resides in us by His Spirit, so we need not fear that realm, but we must also acknowledge that it exists and that it interacts in a very real way with our temporal dimension.

I will not give spiritual minions more prominence than they deserve, but I will not turn a blind eye to it either.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Two Witnesses (Part 3)

This post is from my previous blog, Ear to the Heavens. Enjoy.

I offer one more thought.

If Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses, and they have been witness to the transfiguration, the resurrection, the ascension, and the demonstrated wrath of God, then what about being eyewitnesses to the mercy and faithfulness of God. If they are witnessing to Israel just before they are to go into the wilderness to lean on God and trust Him for everything, then isn’t it important that they know and have faith in the mercy and faithfulness of God? Shouldn’t they know that God keeps His promises and is able to deliver them?

I am always intrigued by the appearance of God as a man in the Old Testament. What an amazing and gracious God we have that He would descend from Heaven to fellowship with us. Abraham was so blessed to have known and seen God.

So was Joshua.

One of the other interesting appearances of God as Man - the theophany – is the night before the attack on Jericho. Joshua is alone when he confronts a soldier and, at first, he challenges the man, not knowing whether he be friend or foe. The soldier, who is the Lord, tells Joshua to take of his shoes for the place on which he stood was holy ground.

How often had Joshua heard Moses tell the story of his first encounter with God? As Moses stood before that burning bush, the Lord spoke, saying, “put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou stand [is] holy ground” (Ex. 3:5) Joshua is instantly aware of whom it is he faces and his response is one of immediate worship.

My attention is always drawn to similarities in the biblical record. It is there that I look for some correlation that might bind the story together. It is interesting that so close to this appearance of the Lord in human form, just as it was so in Genesis 18, there is also the appearance of two men.

In Joshua, these two men are spies sent by Joshua to survey the land and, in particular, Jericho. When in Jericho, these two men are taken in by Rahab, the harlot. She hides them in the reeds of her roof and later lowers them down the outside wall with a scarlet cord. They report back to Joshua, but offer no information of strategic value. In fact, Joshua is given his “battle plan” by the Lord and the report of the spies is irrelevant. They seem to have had only one purpose: to arrange for the safety of Rahab.

Once the walls of Jericho fall, these two men are sent in by Joshua to rescue Rahab and her family. The rescue of Rahab shows God’s mercy towards a common harlot and God’s faithfulness to keep His promise.

What if these two men…?

Yes, they could have been anyone. Besides, what could possibly be the connection between these two men and the two who appeared in Sodom?

The obvious connection is that they were both sent on rescue missions. But is there more?

In the opening verses of Matthew’s gospel, we are told the lineage of Jesus Christ. In that lineage is Rachab, or as we know her in Joshua, Rahab, the harlot. Is it possible that these two spies are sent in to protect and preserve the lineage of Jesus Christ by saving Rahab from Jericho’s fate?

Rahab was a Moabite. Over and over again in Numbers, the plains of Moab are described as being by Jericho. Jericho was a Moabite city.

Remember the two men who rescued Lot. God could easily have destroyed Sodom without coming to earth in human form. But, to demonstrate that God is just, Lot, whom God saw as righteous, needed to be rescued. The bartering between God and Abraham over the number of righteous required to invoke God’s mercy on the city is further evidence of God’s justice.

After their escape from Sodom, Lot and his daughters found refuge in a cave. Lot’s daughters conspired to have children by getting Lot drunk and then going in and sleeping with him. Ultimately, the two girls were impregnated.

“And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same [is] the father of the Moabites unto this day.” (Gen 19:37)

Lot is Rahab’s ancestor, and in turn, one of Jesus’ ancestors. Again, the lineage of Jesus was protected when Lot was rescued.

Is it possible that God sent his two witnesses, Elijah and Moses, on these rescue missions throughout history to preempt disaster by saving Jesus’ ancestors from certain destruction and, at the same time, create witnesses to major events that point to the character and qualifications of Jesus to assume the throne?

Is it possible?

Imagine the testimony those two witnesses might have.

Two Witnesses (Part 2)

This post is from my previous blog, Ear to the Heavens. Enjoy.

But authority must be backed by power or it is impotent.

Peter writes in 2 Peter, chapter 3, that the scoffers of this world have willfully put out of their minds the judgment that God brought on the world long ago: the flood. Nineveh, no doubt, knew of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. When Jonah cried, “40 days and then destruction,” Nineveh’s king knew what to expect and he repented. Today, many have no regard for God. They neither believe in Him nor accredit anything to His glory. The thought of the return of Jesus Christ and the coming judgment is foolishness to many.

So perhaps, part of Moses and Elijah’s testimony is about the power of God and His judgment. Maybe, part of their testimony is as to the ability of Jesus to punish the wicked and destroy those who oppose Him. Jesus spoke of cosmic world-ending events and the Revelation prophesies coming judgments of fire and hail. What might Moses and Elijah have seen that would give them credibility as witnesses when it comes to God’s judgment?

Let’s take a moment to think about the eternal nature of God. It’s easier for us mere mortals to imagine time as a unidirectional dimension, or as a half dimension; in other words, we can go forward in time, but not backward. God, however, inhabits eternity and is not constrained by our dimensions – including time. He exists outside time. Therefore, where He exists, there is no passing of time as we imagine. Therefore, being unconstrained by time, it is possible for God to know the end from the beginning as He exists at both places on the time line at once. The great “I AM,” is eternally “present.” There is no beginning or end for He encompasses all of time. Imagine then, if it were His will, that God could open a door anywhere in the time line and interject Himself into it. If such a thing is true, then couldn’t the Lord interject Himself and any one inhabiting eternity with Him into any place along the timeline?

So back to the original question: What might Moses and Elijah have seen that would give them credibility as witnesses when it comes to God’s judgment?

Genesis 18:2 speaks of Abraham saying, “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground…”

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.” (Genesis 18:16)

“And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.” (Genesis 18:22)

“And there came two angels to Sodom at even;” (Genesis 19:1)

“And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring [them] out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.” (Gen. 19:12-13)

“And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.” (Gen 19:15-16)

“Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” (Gen. 19:24-25)

Perhaps, by some supernatural miracle beyond our comprehension, these 2 men are Moses and Elijah, now witnesses to the destructive power of God’s judgment? These two men are also eyewitness to the Justice of God. Lot, who was considered righteous because he was grieved by the decay all about him, was saved by God. God proved he would not destroy the righteous with the wicked.

Again, I would never teach this as doctrine, but is it a possibility? Of course it is. Is it important? That’s up to you. To me, it further magnifies my God and is further proof of the divine nature of God’s Word. I can’t and won’t believe that the details are insignificant. Why 2 men and not 1, 3, or 4? I believe God has given us all the information we need to put the puzzle together, we just need to find the pieces and recognize how they fit.

If one begins with Moses and Elijah dressed in white atop the mountain with the Lord, then how far a stretch is it to assume the two men in white at the ascension are also Moses and Elijah? And then, how far a reach is it to think that the two men at the tomb are also they? Soon, these things seem to be oh-so-connected.

End Part 2

Two Witnesses (Part 1)

This post is from my previous blog, Ear to the Heavens. Enjoy.

" the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." Deut. 19:15

The Revelation is a perplexing book. Many theologians and scholars have taken stabs at the meaning of the book. In the end, most who strive to understand it will find themselves adhering to one of, or a variation of, the 4 major interpretations: the Pretorist view, the Historist view, the Futurist view, or the Allegorist view. This usually is the result of the individual seeking help in interpreting the meaning from a mainstream commentary. Whatever the view held by the author often becomes the view held by the reader.

Without opening Pandora’s Box - a debate over which mainstream interpretation may or may not be "correct" - let me say this: they all have their flaws and none of them are likely to be totally correct. In the end, no one can understand prophecy in it's entirety until it has been fulfilled. Even then, there are passages in the New Testament that we are explicitly told are the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, yet few could ever have pieced the prophecy and fulfillment together on their own.

In the end, regardless of your "position" it should be a flexible one and no one should be dogmatic to death on the matter. One day we shall all understand clearly, but for now we need to be willing to accept our interpretation may ultimately prove to be incorrect.

I currently adhere to a variation of the Futurist view. However, unlike most "futurists" or dispensationalists, I do not believe that The Revelation is written in chronological order, and I think there is a lot of overlapping and cascading going on in the seals, trumpets, and bowls. Although I do believe that most of The Revelation is prophesy that is yet-to-be-fulfilled, I am not as interested in the chronology of the events as much as I am the meaning of events and symbols.

It is almost impossible to begin to understand the symbols in The Revelation without a solid understanding and knowledge of the Old Testament. There are some 800 references to the Old Testament in The Revelation alone. It is also important to understand the prevalent culture at the time and place of The Revelation's writing.

One popular point of contention among many scholars, regarding symbols and events, is the identity of the Two Witnesses that appear in Rev. 11:3-13. For many, these are allegorical characters, but to most futurists, these witnesses are real people. For the purpose of this writing, we will assume the two witnesses are real people.

Most futurists identify the first of the two witnesses as Elijah based on the supernatural powers that are described in Rev. 11: 5- 6 and because the scripture says that Elijah will return before the Messiah returns. (Mal. 4:5)

Again, based on the powers that are described in Rev. 11: 5- 6, many argue that the second witness is Moses. It is important to note, regardless of the similarity in abilities, God can grant these abilities to anyone, and it need not be Moses and Elijah just because they, too, at one time, had similar abilities.

Others argue that the two witnesses are Elijah and Enoch because these are the only two men in history who did not die natural deaths before being translated to Heaven. They argue that because Hebrews states that it is given to a man to die once and then be judged (Heb. 9:27), Moses cannot come back lest the scripture would contradict itself.

Well, I believe that the verse in Hebrews is speaking generally. The way things generally work, is that most men die once and then are judged. However, there are exceptions to this. The widow of Nain's son (Luke 7:11-15), Jairus’ daughter (Mar. 5:22-45), Lazarus, Tabitha, and others are all exceptions to this, meaning that it is not a hard a fast rule, but a principle. The point is, we are not reincarnated, but are given one life to live. For some that life is momentarily interrupted by death, but they can be miraculously resuscitated by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, in principle, Moses remains a viable candidate. Let us also not forget the struggle over the possession of Moses' body by the archangel Michael and Satan (Jude 1:9). Could it be that Michael was charged with retrieving Moses' body for a future purpose?

Other than the fact that Enoch didn’t die a natural death, there is no evidence anywhere in the scripture that supports Enoch as the second witness. However, there is substantial evidence that points to Moses as the second witness. In fact, I hope to show that the scripture clearly identifies Elijah and Moses as the two witnesses.

For a moment, let's focus on the purpose of a witness. When Christians speak of witnessing or being a witness, what we really mean is proclaiming or sharing a personal experience with others. Generally we equate witnessing with proselytizing.

But the job of a witness is to testify.

In its original context, and still today in our justice system, to be a witness meant to come before a court and testify as to events witnessed that might indict or absolve an individual of having broken the law.

So, whereas Deuteronomy demands that the guilt of an individual be attested to by two or more witnesses, two or more witnesses might also establish the innocence or testify that an individual had kept the law.

In the case of Jesus, two false witnesses had come forward and made false accusations before the Sanhedrin. (Matt 26:60-62) These men were of ill-report but the Sanhedrin overlooked their credibility to accomplish their goals: the death of Jesus and the security of their place as the ultimate religious authority in the land.

So, what is the identity and the role of the two witnesses described in the eleventh chapter of The Revelation? They are not just there to proclaim or to proselytize, but to testify. Testify to what? Who are they and what have they seen that they might possibly be testifying to? And to whom are they testifying?

Jesus opens the scroll in Rev. 6, breaking the seals on the deed, claiming ownership of the Earth. The ensuing trumpets announce the coming king, and these two witnesses are there to testify to His legitimacy, credibility, worth, and right to lay claim to the earth. Contrary to the middle-of-the night railroading that Jesus underwent at His death, here are two credible witnesses proclaiming His innocence, purity, and perfection in the light of day.

The scripture tells us that the two witnesses are in Jerusalem. So, they are testifying according to Jewish law to Israel. Jesus is described in
John 1:45 as the one whom the Law of Moses and the Prophets did write. And who would make more credible witnesses to Israel than those who epitomize the law and the prophets: Moses and Elijah?

Everyone points to the description of the witnesses’ powers in Rev. 11:5-6 as the key to their identity. Yes, Elijah called consuming fire from Heaven and caused a three-and-a-half year drought. Yes, Moses turned the Nile to blood and was there when God sent nine other plagues on Egypt. The parallels are undeniable. However, while for most this is evidence enough of their identity there is even stronger evidence as to the identity of these witnesses – the Word of God.

Rev 11:4 reads: “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” This is a direct reference to a passage in Zechariah. In Zechariah, chapter 4, Joshua, the priest, asks an angel the meaning of the two olive trees and an angel responds, saying, “These [are] the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” Zech .4:14.

Moses and Elijah were most definitely anointed to do the work of God. But the scripture goes on, “standing by the Lord of the whole earth.” What relevance does this have?

“And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. (Mat 17:1-3)

So, here we have a clear picture of two anointed ones standing “by” the Lord of the whole earth, an obvious fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah. Combine this picture with the described supernatural powers described in Rev, 11:5-6 and it would seem hard to dispute that the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah. Zechariah 4:14 points to that event on the mountain top with Jesus. Surely, then, the two olive trees in Revelation must also be Moses and Elijah.

I want to note a subtle difference between the two verses describing the olive trees. The verse in Zechariah speaks of the olive trees as the anointed ones who stand “by” the Lord of the whole earth. Moses and Elijah stood by Jesus when He was transfigured. But look at the verse in Revelation. The olive trees are now “before” the God of the Earth. Jesus has ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father. They now stand “before” Him, not by Him. For me, this makes the appearance of the two witnesses a future event.

(Notice that Revelation 1:4 is a reference to Jesus as God- yet another place we can point to that identifies Jesus as God if we tie this into the transfiguration.)

The next question remains: what are these two witnesses testifying to? Undoubtedly, they are testifying to the character and qualifications of Jesus Christ to assume the throne. But one cannot testify to that which is hearsay, rather they must be eyewitness to the events that point to Christ’s true identity. How is this possible?

Well, for one, we know that Moses and Elijah were eyewitnesses to Christ’s transfiguration. They saw Jesus glorified by God and heard the Lord’s voice when He spoke of Jesus, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” So, Moses and Elijah can testify to the fact that God miraculously identified Jesus as His Son, the Messiah.

But what other things might they testify to in order to establish the character and qualifications of the Christ – to affirm Jesus’ legal right to ascend to the throne as Lord of the whole earth?

The Resurrection. Paul tells us that without the resurrection, Christianity is meaningless. “And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.” 1Cor. 15:14. So, bearing witness to the resurrection would be vital in affirming Jesus as the Messiah.

Luke tells us, “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:” Luke 24:2-4 While the other Gospels speak of angels or men inside and out of the tomb, Luke is clear that two men in shining garments were present.

Perhaps these 2 men are Moses and Elijah, now witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus?

For those who might argue that these were angels, the word that Luke uses is “aner” which means man. The Hebrew and Greek words for angel are more generic terms that can refer not only to the angelic realm, but also to human messengers and ambassadors. These words are translated to mean one or the other based on context. When the scripture says “angel” it may refer to men or angels, but when the scripture says “men,” it cannot refer those of the angelic realm. In this instance, when Luke says these are men, they are just that: men.

The Ascension. Jesus prophesied many times that He was from the Father and would ascend back to the Father (John 3:13, others), and only the Messiah would be able to do so. The ascension was an important fulfillment of prophesy that aided in identifying Jesus as the Messiah.

Again, Luke writes, “And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;” Acts 1:9-10. Again, perhaps these 2 men are Moses and Elijah, now witnesses to the ascension of Jesus?

If this be so, Moses and Elijah would be able to testify in Jerusalem that Jesus had been identified by God as His Son (transfiguration), that He had overcome sin and death (resurrection), and that He has ascended back to the Father from which He had come (ascension).

End Part 1

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Noah's Lonely Calling

This post is from my previous blog, Ear to the Heavens. Enjoy.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language defines "typology" as:

1. The study or systematic classification of types that have characteristics or traits in common.

2. A theory or doctrine of types, as in scriptural studies.

It is widely held by biblical scholars that the scripture contains literary "types."

One of the definitions in that same dictionary for "type" is: "a figure, representation, or symbol of something to come, such as an event in the Old Testament that foreshadows another in the New Testament."

Noah is often regarded as a "type" of the Christ. This is not to say that Noah was the same as Christ, but that Noah foreshadowed the coming One in character and circumstance.

I believe typology, literary foreshadowing, is further evidence of the Bible's divine nature. There is no way that Moses could have known or predicted the person of Jesus accurately enough to have written such striking similarities in the character of Noah. And even if one were to argue the authorship of Genesis, there is no doubt that the text existed 275 years before Christ in the form of the Septuagint.

There are several ways in which Noah is generally regarded as a type of Christ.

Noah’s name means "comfort". Jesus Christ came to be or comforter.

Noah built the ark of wood through which his family was saved from God's wrath and ultimately the ark “came to rest.” Jesus' death on the wooden cross saved the family of God from the coming wrath of God and He delivers them into His rest.

Noah was a righteous man, "upright in his generations." Some believe this means Noah's genealogical line was undefiled by the Nephilim. Whether this is true, or not, Noah followed and trusted God, regardless of a defiant and unrepentant world he lived in. Jesus was undefiled, having lived a perfect and sinless life. And, like Noah, Jesus was a righteous man in the midst of a Godless world.

Noah walked with God and was obedient even as others most likely laughed and scorned him as he built the ark. Jesus was laughed at and mocked, too, but that didn't keep Him from being obedient – even unto death.

I'm sure there are other ways, too, in which Noah can be considered a type of Christ. Noah planted a vineyard. Jesus is the vine. It can be inferred that Noah was a prophet-preacher and a voice of righteousness in his day. Jesus was a prophet-teacher and most definitely a voice of righteousness in His day.

There is another way I believe that Noah is a type of the Christ that requires a little digging and a little help from our counselor to find.

As I have written before, I believe that every number, every word, occurs in the scripture for a purpose. There are many theologians and scholars who agree that numbers in the scripture often have a meaning.

For example: the number 1 is often representative of God, the beginning, or unity. 3 can represent the Godhead (trinity), divine completeness, or perfection. 6 is the number of man (666 is the number of man elevated to the place of God). 7 can symbolize perfection, completeness, the day of rest (used 600 times in Bible). And the number 8 often speaks to a new beginning, or resurrection.

Jesus lived for 33 years. .33 is one third. The scripture is full of the number 3 and things that are divided into thirds. Three appears in nature over and over again. We are created in three parts: body, mind (soul), and spirit.

Is it a coincidence, or was Jesus’ death at that age intentional to point to His being one third of the Godhead? Being of the third heaven? Rising from the dead on the third day? Coming into the last third of human history?

Jesus laid down his own life. He could have done so at any age. Jesus spoke often of “His time.” Was there intent beyond our understanding in the time which He laid down His life?

Let’s get back to Noah for a moment.

There is a lot of information about Noah’s age and the time of the coming flood, etc. that must be there for a reason. If this were just a historical account written by men, one might understand the occasional interjection to point out someone’s age. But, if we believe that this is a manuscript authored by God Himself, then we need ask, why are the years recorded there?

The scripture tells us that Noah was 600 years old when the flood came. (Gen. 7:6)

When God told Noah to build the ark, the scripture tells us that there would be 120 years until the flood. (Gen. 6:3) (Many argue that this is the Lord declaring the age to which man would live. However, this makes no sense in context of the passage. God is talking about man’s wickedness and the coming destruction. In context, it makes more sense that God is telling Noah that he has 120 years to accomplish the task that God is giving him. See Psalm 90:10, also.)

Simple arithmetic reveals, then, that Noah was 480 when he first learned of the coming flood. (600 – 120 = 480)

In the midst of all this narrative, we are reminded that Noah had sons. In the fifth chapter of Genesis, we are given one of those long genealogies that many just skip over. But at the very end of this particular genealogy, we are told that Noah was 500 when his sons were born (Gen 5:32) – a fact we might miss if we read the story of Noah out of context, apart from the surrounding text.

In the Jewish culture, there is a thing called Bar Mitzvah, which means “son of the commandment.” The Bar Mitzvah celebration is rather new, but the concept of a boy becoming a man at the age of 13 is an ancient one. It is suggested that it far precedes Abraham and the birth if the Jewish nation.

If such a custom were in place in Noah’s culture, then his first-born son, Shem, would not have been of an age to help Noah with the Ark until he was 13.

If Noah was 480 when he first learned of the flood, and began work right away on the Ark, then he would have worked for 33 years before his son Shem was of age to assist him. (500 + 13 = 513 – 480 = 33)

I know the scripture doesn’t come right out and say it, and therefore, I can’t be dogmatic about it, but…

Is it possible that just as Jesus worked alone and completed his work on the cross in 33 years, that Noah worked alone and completed his work on the Ark in 33 years?

Could Noah’s Ark have been completed and stood as a testimony of the coming judgment for 87 years? Is this another hidden yet discernable way in which Noah is a type of the Christ?


My brother recently suggested that when Jesus spoke of “this generation,” that He might have meant 80 years, and not 40 as many have previously suggested. My brother draws this from Psalm 90:10 where David defines a full life as 80 years.

In reference to the end times, if Jesus was talking about a future generation that was 80 years, plus seven years of tribulation…87 years.


Some references:

Authur W. Pink, "Gleanings in Genesis," Chapter 12, Kessinger Publishing

Patrick Fairbairn, "The Typology of Scripture," Kregel Publications

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

An Introduction

This post is from my previous blog, Ear to the Heavens. Enjoy.

In my personal study of God's word, I have discovered things that, to me, are evidence of divine authorship. I do not believe there to be any one man or group of men who could coordinate with one another over time and space to author such a perfect document. No human mind is clever or intelligent enough to architect such information.

When I first really submitted myself to God's call on my life, I decided to read The Revelation. I had always been intrigued by end-times prophecy and I wanted to dig in and finally see for myself what it was all about. I used a popular commentary to help guide me through it, and when I was finished, I decided to start at the beginning and read the whole Bible.

Naturally, I started in Genesis.

As I read, I began to notice ideas that culminated in The Revelation had their genesis in, well, Genesis. The Bible, I was soon to discover, was a beautifully detailed tapestry with "threads" or concepts that ran its breadth and width. Tiny details I read yesterday would later reveal themselves as puzzle pieces crucial to the completion of the whole picture. Numbers that once seemed unimportant or irrelevant, names in genealogies that were unpronounceable, or tiny, seemingly-frivolous details would jog a memory of another passage and suddenly, it all clicked. Now, when I stood back and looked at the whole, there came into focus a bigger picture that had previously been obscured.

There is a passage in Proverbs that reads, "[It is] the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings [is] to search out a matter."
Pro 25:2. There is a popular Bible teacher who uses this verse as a proof-text for what I am describing: God has concealed certain ideas in His word that He makes known to those who will diligently seek them out. Sometimes, there are things in the scriptures that only become visible when we have been faithful to explore and desire to know them, and then, and only then will the Holy Spirit illuminate them for us.

I'm not talking "code" here. I'm not talking about using a computer to decipher some hidden meaning in the original Greek or Hebrew texts. I'm talking about details in the manuscript that occur in the natural reading of the text. Little descriptions, or a number, or a detail of an event that contribute to seeing the big picture: ideas that come into focus when all the details of the narrative are known and realized.

Imagine having the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle laid out before you and, after staring at them for hours, you suddenly see how they fit together. The light bulb goes on and everything clicks into place. The pieces were always there, and some of them you knew intimately. You just didn't realize previously how they were related to one another.

Often, the understanding comes as a powerful experience. It's as though the Holy Spirit has just poured an understanding into me that I previously did not have. With it comes joy and the immediate worship of God and His wisdom.

What I have come to discover in addition to the divine nature of the Bible, is that every detail, number, name, etc. is there for a purpose. Our God is perfect. This means He is perfectly efficient and has not wasted a single jot or tiddle in the text. Every word - even every name in those seemingly-endless generations - is there as a critical piece of the integrated whole.

Maybe you're familiar with those logic puzzles in the crossword puzzle books? They are usually a grid with certain facts across the top and certain facts along the left-hand side. You are given clues, like "Bobby is not the one with the blue coat." With every clue you make a mark on the grid, hoping that, at some point, you get enough information to figure out what color Bobby's coat is.

What some people call contradictions, I call clues. The whole picture comes from knowing what is and what isn't. For instance, if A is true and B is true, then we can infer that C is true. Or, if A is true and C is true, then we know B isn't true. By simple deductive reasoning, we can get a clearer picture of the entire picture painted by scripture.

I've also learned, that there are a lot of ideas held dear in the church that are simply not Biblical, and a lot of ideas that knit the Bible together as an integrated whole that the church has just plain missed.

Some of these ideas, revelations, insights, teachings - whatever you want to call them - I've shared with a Bible study group that I taught for 8 years and to small public groups to whom I've had the privilege to speak. As a result, many have asked me to write them down so they can read them over and, in turn, share them with others.

Maybe someone besides me has discovered these same things. I'm not claiming any kind of uniquely divine insight, but I've never heard or read about them and they certainly aren't mainstream ideas in the church. Some of the ideas may have been touched on by others before me, but I don't know to what extent they've ever flushed them out. Like I've said, they're new to me.

I've never taught these ideas as "gospel," but rather possibilities to be mulled over and considered. In some cases, I can't point to any one definitive passage in the scripture that proves or disproves the idea, so I can't and won't be dogmatic about it, unless it is definitive. I can say, that in most cases, it's not a stretch to piece the scriptures together and make the inference that these concepts are there. I will say that there are some widely accepted ideas in the church that have less biblical foundation than the ideas I'm sharing here.

Ultimately, I would ask that you remain teachable and have an open mind. Be willing to accept there maybe more to a passage than you've realized before and, ultimately, that you should allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart about the legitimacy of the teachings I will share.

Stay tuned. It's about to get interesting.