Joel and the Blood Moon

Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.”  Joel 3:10

The Book of Joel comes to us from the 9th Century B.C., Joel ministered in the northern kingdom and has been seen as the Holy Spirit-encounter Book with Joel, the “Prophet of Pentecost”, because of his prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to those who will be saved by Christ as recorded in Acts in what is called as being fulfilled at Pentecost.

Joel bWhat was he about? Joel warned his people about a devastating plague of locusts resulting in extreme famine; it will illustrate God’s judgment unless they repent. This is about what happens when we ignore God’s directions and the consequences of losing everything.  Even in this message of desolation from a locust plague, the exhortation of God to repent there is hope, the promise that God will restore (Joel 2:28; 3:1-13; Acts 2:16).

Joel was the visionary kind of prophet who could glimpse God’s eternal wonders in his temporal life. He ministers as God’s spokesman during a devastating locust plague, which took everything–those bugs ate all the crops, ruining the economy and starving the people only because the people lusted for their sins.  He uses this occasion to warn them of the foreboding “Day of the Lord” when God would act directly, punishing the people, which He did when they went into captivity. God’s love and His judgments go together, because we can repent and He allows us to come back.  He is not petty, and He blesses us both in the material and in His steadfast Love and robust spirituality (Psalm 30:5; Joel 2:12-13, 28-31).

Most of these statements are in a “figurative language,” like it is raining cats and dogs, as the moon turns to blood (meaning red, as in Lunar Eclipse as the earth’s shadow passes over the moon, reflecting the sunsets and sunrise of earth to its surface. Thus.

We are to look for the literal meaning first before attempting to interpret it as symbolic. Context is the key!

“Day of the Lord” means the Lord’s deliverance and salvation for Israel, and this is the final Day of Judgment where God settles all accounts and injustices.  For Joel, it was a warning of what will come, which it did in the captivity.

For Amos, it was God’s hope to come when repentance was given.  Just as the climax was in 722 B.C. and 586 B.C. But, as Joel showed us God’s mercy and Amos God’s judgment, there is hope.  God will have His faithful remnant as Joel pointed out, a victory over darkness and sin will be achieved after God intervenes in the world with judgment and destruction of His enemies, and rewards and blessings to those who are in Him.

Isogesis” is reading into a text what isn’t there. Interpreting it by different rules than a consistent understanding from the Bible. Using a presupposition to arrive at the meaning, by ignoring the language and culture it was used in.

For us, this Day started with the resurrection of Christ and His victory over sin and the coming of the Holy Spirit. It comes to its consummation and fullness after Christ’s Second Coming and Judgment–the anticipated eschatological climax of the events of life, time, and space (Isa. 2:11-20; 13:9-13; Joel 1:15; 3:14-21; Amos 5:18-20; Luke 1:68; 1 Thess. 2:1-3; 5:2; 2 Peter 3:9-11).

The main point is to tell us to “Rend Your Heart”

To listen to God, to repent of sin.  Then, Hope, so as not to be discouraged, but to remain faithful and vigilant.  For the Christian, it is also an encouragement and a warning to follow God’s directions or dreadful consequences will result by our own doings.  As Christians, we are chosen by Him to be in Him as His possession in love.  He called us out of our darkness into His Light by His mercy; He sets us apart to be holy participants in His Kingdom.  Thus, we are called to show this wonderful, incredible place we have in Him to others by our goodness, attitude, and deeds-and, if necessary, with words (Heb. 12:14).

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That term may not mean what you think it means?

If you really loved the Lord, and you love real Truth, and took to heart God’s Word the Bible, then you will do your best due diligence to find out what our Lord is really saying. Never seeking your way or pride or to force your assumption into God’s most precious Word! Right? Yet many do!

We have the “popular problem,” with exegetical and or biblical Eschatology, as most people do not go to and take from the Bible; rather, they read into the Bible. Or what many people today seek-to just relate it to their personal traditions or trends or theological ideas or worse feelings.

Yet, the Bible means what it means, says what it says! It real true Truth. “True-Truth” is mathematical and has a definitive answer; Scripture indeed has the definitive answers too-If we are willing to look. Most of the time they are in plain sight, because the Bible says what it says and means what it means.
But sometimes we get to a term such as “beast” and wonder what that is. So we must ask, what is that, and don’t assume. A little careful research in quality sources will reveal it and its real truth. The real truth is not always what my denomination or theological framework or my favorite preacher or author has to say, or some comparison of it. Nor is it my truth or what is relative to my feelings, personal thoughts, or ideas predicated by my hurts or outlook or worldview.

Real “Exegetical Eschatology” simply means we go to God’s Word and take from it and not read into it.

With “our” truth, we go to God’s Word and read in our will and ideas, what is in it for us, and respond to how we felt at that time with a caring attitude to what the real truth is. In true-Truth we go to the Bible as surrendered beings, seeking to know and glorify Christ because He is Truth as is His Word. This is the science of Inductive and Exegetical Methodology. We get to the real Truth as revealed in God’s Word versus what we want to or feel may be true. After all, we are removed two thousand years from these times not to mention the language and cultural barriers from the original writings of the Bible from which we glean.

Our goal in our postings is: What did these words from Scripture mean to the human authors used by the Holy Spirit as well as the hearers at the time, not from a newspaper today that is at a different time, culture, and language.

This is what real effectual factual truth is in action and in application, asking the question what the bible clearly says in its actual meaning and context not what we think it should say.

 

Do you read from the Bible or read into the Bible? Do you know the difference?

 

What is Biblical Eschatology?

 

It is the study of our Christian beliefs concerning the End Times and the Second Coming of Christ as taught by an rightful, truthful and logical exegetical analysis of Scripture.

For us, this means when we go to the Bible, we realize it is a book written in a different time and language and to a different culture using images, symbols, and metaphors that we may not know as well as we think today.

Thus, we are to assume a passage is literal until we get to a term that does not make sense or fit.

Like, saying to a non-English speaker, it is raining cats and dogs, this statement will not make sense to them, just as beast will not make sense to an American Christian two thousand years removed. Thus, we will assume and may get it wrong; yet, with some due diligence of investigating, of what did that mean to the original hearers; like, what did John thought it meant. And, we can find that out very easily.

So what do we do? We seek to do our very best to actually read the Bible right and seek its truth, in context, actual word meanings, while leaving our assumptions aside. This is the art and science of the logic of ‘induction,’ Inductive Bible study!

Our other main goal is the application of what Francis Schaeffer said as “true-Truth!” What does the Bible really say?

Not what I think the truth is, but willing to lay one’s truth aside for an honest investigation should not be feared; if you are right, Scripture will pan you out. If you are wrong, wouldn’t you rather be right on the side of the Bible, regardless of what others may think, or your own pride that may need to be swallowed?

Then if you still feel your truth is correct and you did your homework, you are better off. But what usually happens is that we push our truth forward, ignoring logic, sound reasoning, and biblical exegesis such as, what did these terms and ideas mean in their original languages, set in their contexts, genre, and cultural meanings?

So when we read the Bile, especially areas that may not make sense to us, or what we just always assumed it meant, or what the popular books and so called Bible teachers say, we are to investigate. What did these words from Scripture mean to the human authors used by the Holy Spirit as well as the hearers at the time, not from a newspaper today that is at a different time, culture, and language. This is what real effectual factual truth is in action and in application, asking the question what the bible clearly says in its actual meaning and context not what we think it should say.

 

Do you read from the Bible or read into the Bible? Do you know the difference?

 

THE WICKED ARE RAPTURED FIRST

AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 24:41-42

You’ve probably heard the stories. A bus is heading down the highway when the bus driver and several passengers suddenly disappear causing the bus to veer off the road in a horrific explosion of broken glass and twisting metal. One of the pilots of a jet airliner disappears forcing the other pilot to take over the controls just in time to keep from crashing. It dawns on everyone that millions have vanished from the earth in an instant, leaving all those remaining with a sick feeling of dread.

Is this really what the Bible teaches will happen at the end of time?

Many evangelical Christians believe that a day will come when the saved will be removed from the earth without having experienced death, leaving behind all those who do not know Christ. I do not believe the Bible teaches this “Doctrine of the Rapture.” I’ve seen the supposed biblical evidence for it and I am not convinced.

In this post, I want to focus on Matthew 24:40-41, a passage that is often used to support the the rapture. I want to show that, in reality, this passage teaches exactly the opposite of what proponents of the rapture doctrine teach. The text reads:

“Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.”

It may appear that these words support the doctrine of the rapture as described above. However, those who interpret it this way have committed one of the classic errors of biblical interpretation; they have ignored the context in which these words are found. To understand that context, we must look at the words immediately prior to our text. Jesus says:

“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mat 24:38-39).

Jesus is comparing the days of Noah with the days immediately leading up to His second coming. Here is the key: Jesus says, “they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” The phrase “took them all away” is a translation of the word HEREN in Greek and it literally means to be “lifted up,” “taken up,” “carried away.” Our English word “rapture” comes from an archaic French root that originally referred to the “act of carrying away.” So, Matthew 24:40-41 is in fact talking about a rapture.

Here is my question: in the days of Noah, who were the ones raptured? Obviously, the wicked are the ones taken away by the flood. They are the ones who were eating, drinking, and getting married. They are the ones who “did not understand.” It is the wicked who are raptured by the flood unto destruction and the righteous remain in the safe protection of the ark.

Now, let’s read the text again:

“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left” (Mat 24:40-41).

If we take the context seriously, we are left with no choice but to understand that the ones taken are the wicked. Jesus is simply using another example to say the same thing he just finished saying in the Noah example. Two men will be in a field and suddenly, the wicked will be “raptured,” “taken away,” and the believer will be left in safety. Two women are grinding at the mill; the wicked woman is taken while the redeemed woman is left behind in safety.

If this is a correct interpretation of Matthew 24:41-42, then it dismantles one of the key arguments used by those who support the idea that it is the Christians who are taken first and that the wicked are left behind.

Dr. Greg Waddell
Director of Institutional Improvement
Mid-South Christian College
DrGregWaddell (at) gmail.com

See his Blog: www.SpiritOfOrganization.com

The Four Main Views of Revelation 13:1-4

 

The Preterist view: They see the dragon in this passage as an invading power looking for allies in its evil quest. That power is Rome as it invades Israel. Some in this camp see this as the looming judgment against Rome for its slaughter of the righteous and invasion of Jerusalem. Others see this as Satan’s role influencing Rome. The sea is seen as the Gentile world or the pagan empires of Daniel. Most see this as the characteristics of an individual antichrist figure such as Nero or Rome. The healed wound is seen as the Nero resurrection myth being mocked, or the various emperors; others see this as the results of Rome’s violent wars and insurrections, and attempts of civil war. Some even speculate that Rome was wounded by the spread of Christianity and its assault on evil and its oppressive ways and/or the victory of Christ on the cross (Phil. 4:22). The worship of the beast and dragon is seen as Satanism, emperor worship, and the false gods of Rome. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as a parallel to Daniel chapter seven, and an amalgamation of Daniel’s four beasts, meaning the Gentile nations and their collaboration and future attack on Israel.  The sea is seen as confusion and/or the great masses of humanity. Others see this as a European or Mediterranean power. The beast is the antichrist and he revives the Roman Empire. The characteristics are seen as the false charm and charisma of the antichrist as he deceives the masses. In addition the lion, bear, etc. describe the various empires coming together and their influence and hedonism. Most see these events as happening after the Tribulation. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as a collection of the succession of political and social evils coming together for evil purposes in various times and places. The characteristics, such as the lion and bear, are seen as the activity of Satan and legislative actions of evil, persecutions, oppressions, or the rise of Satan against the world and the Church; some see this as corruption in the Church, or false religions, or both. The sea is seen as the Gentile world, corruption and paganism versus faithfulness and God (Is. 17:12; 60:5). The wound is seen as Rome and other evils recovering from the backlash of faithfulness and the rise of the Church, and/or the death of Nero. “Who is able to make war with him” is seen as the recovery and resilience of evil in Rome by the rise of Domitian. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as an allegory involving the four beasts of Daniel, chapter seven, who blaspheme holiness and those who are faithful. The beast is seen as Roman paganism and the priests who propagated it. Others have seen this as the Catholic Papacy and/or oppressive ecclesiastical power, or perhaps the emperors of Rome. The sea is seen as the Gothic invasions; others as the various kingdoms of Rome. The seven heads are seen as the saying that Rome was built on seven hills.  The wound is seen as the hurts from paganism or the wounds to the Church because of apostasy, and the death of the beast, seen later, is the last of these pagan emperors, Julian, when he was killed.

Exegetical look into Revelation 13:1-4

 

  • Dragon stood…shore of the sea coming out of: Meaning a vicious, killing monster and refers to the attempt of Satan to mock God by attempting to create His creation. This is also an image of summoning a powerful demon. Satan brings his representation out of the chaos of the sea counter to God’s creation out of the chaos of nothing. It is interesting to note that Satan cannot create matter or bring something from nothing; he can only recruit, manipulate, and deceivingly use what God has already made, turning it into bad (Gen. 1; Col. 1:15-17; Rev. 11:7, 12:9,17; 13:15).
  • Beast coming out of the sea: This is meant to represent a messianic figure. Sea is a Jewish metaphor for what is frightful and terrible; it was also a colloquialism (saying) for a dwelling for monsters and things inexplicable and/or hostile (Job 7:12; 41:1; Psalms 74:13; 89:9-10; Is. 27:1).
  • Beast was a maxim meaning a persecuting power and/or a people who are demonic and evil. This term does not denote a singular person being an antichrist although the theme as John uses in 1 John does apply as opposing Christ. These two metaphors, beast and sea put together in this literature type refer to the tenacity, fierceness, and repulsiveness of this beast. In John’s time this also represented the Romans or any secular, pagan authority because Rome was birthed near the sea in its Mediterranean location as compared to the inland Asia Minor churches. Also, a symbol of Rome was an eagle with 12 wings and three heads coming out of the sea (Dan. 7:3; Rev. 11:7; apocryphal book 4 Ezra 11).
  • Ten horns … seven heads … ten crowns: Each of these is a metaphoric parallel to the nature of Christ. For example, horns means leadership, power, and authority; head is wisdom and position as well as domination; ten crowns is counter to Christ’s many crowns (Ex. 6:14; Num. 1:16; 27:2; Jos. 6:4; 1 Kings 1:49-51; Rev. 19:12). The beast is acting like the counterfeit of Christ—who is the image of God; the beast is as an image of Satan in his character seeking to trick people into believing that the real God is obtuse, when in fact the devil is. Seven heads was also a saying that Rome is a city built on seven hills (Psalm 2:7; Col. 1:15-18; Heb. 1:3).
  • Blasphemous name: Infers that his name is not worthy, whereas in contrast, Christ is worthy. Roman emperors had a tendency to take the  titles of deities for their title, such as Domitian, who took it to an extreme (perhaps a contemporary of John, if a late date is in view of his penning of Revelation), was addressed as Dominus et Deus noster meaning “Our Lord and God” (John 1:14; Phil 2:9-11; Col. 2:9; Rev. 19:12).
  • Leopard…bearlion: John is drawing images and characteristics from Daniel’s four beasts. Leopard also meant “being swift” and “military conquest;” bear meant “ferocious strength” and “stability;” and a lion meant “power” and “dominion” (Dan. 7:2-7; Rev. 12:3; 17:8-11).
  • Dragon gave the beast his power: Satan empowers the beast whereas in contrast God empowers and is Christ, who empowers us (John 5:21-23; Rev. 3:21; 5:12-13; 12:10).
  • Fatal wound…been healed: A counterfeit theme to the Resurrection of Christ that is the proof and means for evangelism, but Satan can’t duplicate it so some how it is imitated or faked. Some see this as the recovery power of the beast. This is also of the theme of Nero.
  • Was astonished: Somehow, this is the means that the beast uses (trickery) so people become amazed with and are attracted to be followers, going away from God and goodness (Rev. 17:8).
  • Men worshiped: This is also a counterfeit to true worship whereas, in contrast, people worshiped what is wrong and evil. People are attracted to the conniving and scheming of evil rather than to the centrality of Christ (John 5:23).
  • Who is like the beast: A counterfeit of praise, taking praise that is meant for God, twisting and perverting it (Ex. 15:11; apocryphal book Judith 6).
  • Who can make war against him? This may be an expression of the tenacity, persistence, recovery, and resilience of evil, as we say now, “you can’t fight city hall.”

Revelation 13:1-4: What are the Contexts?

During this time in history, Nero died (in 68 A.D.) by either suicide or murder, and a rumor was instituted that he would come back in vengeance on the aristocracy to destroy them and all those who doubted or came against him. Many Romans were in fear of his expected return. Then, during Domitian’s reign (81-96 AD), a cult leader, claiming he was Nero, rose in power in Asia Minor where these seven churches were, so this imagery was already in people’s minds through literature and circumstances. This person also made an allegiance with the Parthians, making himself the perfect antichrist figure. He was hunted down and executed. The Jews wrote oracles predicting that Nero would return to terrorize the Christians and prevent Jewish conversions just as some Christian groups used Hitler, Russia, and other groups to make their point and create fear. The early Christians greatly feared Nero, who had thousands of Christians put to death, and the prospect that he might come back was terrifying (called the Nero redivivus myth, Latin for “renewed or “living again”). 

In fact, Nero’s name was used as a term for the antichrist, which we will see later in this chapter. This image was so terrifying that for hundreds of years, most all of the great early scholars, including Augustine, Jerome, and many modern scholars too like Barclay and F.F. Bruce, believed that Nero was to whom John was referring and was the antichrist. Perhaps, John is borrowing from the news of his day or popular myths and this form of apocalyptic literature to make his point and show us how Satan works so we do not buy into his game. By the way, antichrist means anyone who opposes Christ, as a term it is found in First and Second John but nowhere else including in Revelation, although it can be argued that the theme of antichrist is found here. This is why we are to look at what the symbolisms refer to or are pointing to and not the meaning in English or what symbols themselves may mean in our day, else we get caught in vain speculation and miss the point that Christ has for us. 

Even though this passage is about the contrasts of Satan, many commentators have seen this figure of the beast as the person of the antichrist. However, there are some severe interpretive problems with this view. For one, the passage does not say it is the antichrist; nowhere in Revelation is there an antichrist personality other than representations of those who oppose Christ and fight His people. This points us to an antichrist in purpose but not a specific personality. (The Greek word for antichrist means “opponent to the Messiah;” in Scripture, it means anyone who opposes Christ, not necessarily a specific person – 1 John 2:18-22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7. In 2 Thess 2:3, “man of lawlessness” refers to rebellion, but again, not to a specific person. What some commentators have done is take several passages out of their context and string them together to create their position). In this way, anyone who opposes Christ is an antichrist as it is defined elsewhere in Scripture and by John. Thus, many read into the passage their views rather than seeing what this actually says in the original language and what would be understood by John’s readers in this type of literature and images.