"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Of Wine And Wineskins (2:22) INTRODUCTION 1. When Jesus was questioned about fasting, He replied with three illustrations... a. Bridegroom and friends - Mk 2:19-20 b. Patches and garments - Mk 2:21 c. Wine and wineskins - Mk 2:22 2. The illustration most remembered is that of wine and wineskins... a. Jesus used it to show the incongruity of mixing His gospel with the Judaistic system b. Others have taken the illustration much farther, often to teach things Jesus did not [One might make a broader use of the illustration of wine and wineskins, but the end result should not contradict Jesus' own use of it. Taking a closer look, let's first note some...] I. IMPLICATIONS OF THE ILLUSTRATION A. NEW WINE IMPLIES NEW BLESSINGS... 1. Jesus implied His teaching would be like new wine, requiring new wineskins 2. This "new wine" would include blessings for those who believe in Him 3. For example, true forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice - cf. He 10:10-12 4. Also, the blessing of the Spirit in some new way - cf. Jn 7: 37-39 -- New wine: new blessings for those who would be His disciples B. NEW WINESKINS IMPLIES NEW STRUCTURES... 1. Jesus intimated that His blessings would be packaged anew in new wineskins 2. The "new wineskins" would be the means by which blessings are presented and preserved 3. For example, through baptism instead of circumcision - cf. Co 2:11-13 4. Also, through a spiritual tabernacle rather than a physical one - cf. He 9:9-11 5. Jesus gave His apostles the "structure" by which He wanted His blessings to be presented and shared (i.e., apostolic doctrine) - e.g., Ac 2:42; 1Co 4:17; 11:2; 14:33-37 -- New wineskins: new structures by which those blessings would be enjoyed [Once we properly understand the implications of Jesus' use of wine and wineskins, we are less likely to misuse it should we make broader application. Allow me, if I may, to offer four...] II. EXTENSIONS OF THE ILLUSTRATION A. SOME PUT JESUS' WINE IN OLD TESTAMENT WINESKINS... 1. That is what Jesus said would be inappropriate in regards to fasting 2. That is, trying to force Jesus' "wine" into the wineskins of the Old Testament 3. Even so, note some examples in which people have done this: a. Ritualistic fasting instead of appropriate fasting - Didache 8:1-2 b. Separate priesthood instead of the priesthood of all believers - 1Pe 2:5,9 c. Instrumental music instead of making melody with the heart - Ep 5:19 d. Infant baptism, based on the OT rite of circumcision - cf. Col 2:11-12 -- Early on, many have tried to enwrap Jesus' "wine" with OT "wineskins" B. SOME PUT JESUS' WINE IN THEIR OWN WINESKINS... 1. Others try to package Jesus' "wine" in the wineskins of modern concepts 2. They respect the "aged wine", but feel it needs to be re-packaged 3. Thus the frequent call for change, in such areas as: a. Church organization (denominationalism, sponsoring churches) b. Church worship (modern dance, praise teams) c. Church work (social programs, family entertainment) d. Church leadership (popes, metropolitan bishops, priests, team leaders, women pastors) -- This attitude fails to appreciate the value of the original "wineskin" C. SOME PUT THEIR OWN WINE IN JESUS' WINESKINS... 1. Then some believe the Spirit is guiding them to new revelation 2. While they may respect the "old wineskin", they want "new wine" 3. Thus the call to update the teaching of the church, in such areas as: a. New doctrines (social gospel, liberation theology, health and wealth gospel) b. New lifestyles (divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, same-sex marriages) -- This attitude fails to appreciate the value of the original "wine" D. SOME PUT THEIR OWN WINE IN THEIR OWN WINESKINS... 1. Some believe the Spirit guides them to make total changes 2. Changing both the message (wine) and the organization (wineskin) 3. Examples of such extreme makeovers include: a. Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists b. Others with their parachurch organizations -- This attitude reflects disregard for both the original "wine" and "wineskin" CONCLUSION 1. Many believe we can simply discard the "wine" and "wineskin" Jesus gave... a. That we can repackage His wine with wineskins as we see fit b. That we can even replace His wine with new wines of our own 2. Dare we presume to believe that we can improve on anything Jesus has given us...? a. The blessings which are all-sufficient to life and godliness? - cf. 2Pe 1:3 b. The structures which have presented and preserved these blessings? - cf. 2Ti 3:16-17; Jude 3 3. After two millennia, Jesus' "new wine" is now "old"... a. But like literal wine, the old is better than the new b. Best served from the container in which it has been preserved Rather than coming up with "new wine" and "new wineskins" of our own making, we should seek that given by Jesus and His apostles. Therefore the words of Jeremiah seem appropriate... Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'" - Jer 6:16
"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Jesus Questioned About Fasting (2:18-22) INTRODUCTION 1. The nature of Jesus' ministry caught the attention of many... a. He healed the sick, cast out demons - Mk 1:34 b. He traveled from city to city, preaching in the synagogues - Mk1:39 2. The attention of religious leaders led to close scrutiny... a. As when the scribes took issue with His claim to forgive sins - Mk2:6-7 b. As when the scribes and Pharisees took issue with His dining with sinners - Mk 2:16 [Not just Jesus, but also His disciples were scrutinized. When His disciples were not fasting like other men's disciples, Jesus was asked why...] I. THE NARRATIVE A. JESUS QUESTIONED REGARDING FASTING... 1. Why did His disciples not fast? - Mk 2:18 2. Both disciples of John and those of the Pharisees fasted - ibid. 3. Fasting was commonly practiced at the time a. The Law of Moses ordained one fast, on the day of Atonement - Lev 23:26-32 b. But Jews fasted on many other occasions, for different reasons, lengths, and degrees of abstinence
- cf. "Fasting In The Old Testament" c. In the first century, many Jews fasted twice weekly
- cf. Lk 18:12; Didache 8:1 -- Since it was so common, why did the disciples of Jesus not fast? B. JESUS' RESPONSE REGARDING FASTING... 1. He first gave the illustration of friends and the bridegroom - Mk 2:19-20 a. Friends with the bridegroom do not fast while he is with them, it is time for feasting! b. When the bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast 2. He then gave the illustrations of new cloth and new wine
- Mk 2:21-22 a. New cloth is not sown on an old garment, or the tear is made worse b. New wine is not put in old wineskins, or the old wineskins will burst 3. Jesus' explanation was two-fold: a. First, it was inappropriate for His disciples to fast while He was with them b. Second, ritualistic fasting would be out of sync with His "new doctrine" (Mk 1:27) -- The trappings of Judaism would be incompatible with the religion of Jesus [So was Jesus saying that fasting would have no place in the New Covenant? Here are some observations taken from the text and other passages related to fasting...] II. SOME OBSERVATIONS A. JESUS INDICATED HIS DISCIPLES WOULD FAST... 1. With His illustration: "...they will fast in those days" - Mk 2:20 2. When Jesus' ministry on earth was over, some fasting would be appropriate -- Thus Jesus did not rule out fasting altogether B. HE TAUGHT FASTING THAT PLEASES GOD... 1. In His sermon on the mount - Mt 6:16-18 2. Done not to impress men, but to please God -- Thus Jesus expected His disciples to fast C. EARLY CHRISTIANS PRACTICED FASTING... 1. The church at Antioch, as they ministered to the Lord - Ac 13: 1-3 2. The churches of Galatia, when they appointed elders - Ac 14: 21-23 3. The apostle Paul, as part of his ministry - 2Co 6:5; 11:27 4. Husbands and wives, by mutual consent - 1Co 7:5 -- When joined with prayer, fasting apparently is suitable for Christians D. WHEN FASTING WOULD BE PROPER TODAY... 1. Whenever circumstances require God's help a. These may be occasions on an individual level 1) When faced with difficult temptations 2) When faced with the serious illness of a loved one b. These occasions might be on a congregational level 1) As when appointing elders 2) As when sending out missionaries 2. Whenever circumstances call for much prayer a. Is not God more likely to answer our prayers if we are persistent? - cf. Lk 18:1-8 b. Is not God more likely to respond if we fast in the proper manner? - cf. Mt 6:17-18 -- Not as some ceremonious ritual, but when appropriate for the occasion CONCLUSION 1. Richard Foster (Celebration Of Discipline) wrote that in a culture where the landscape is dotted... a. With shrines to the "Golden Arches" and an assortment of "Pizza Temples" b. Fasting may seem out of place, out of step with the times 2. Views about fasting usually go to extremes... a. "Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason, and others have utterly disregarded it." - John Wesley b. Some consider fasting unnecessary, something to be ignored; others think it should be bound as a matter of faith (like baptism) 3. From this brief study we have observed... a. There is a place for fasting, but its practice would not be ritualistic b. For the disciple of Christ, fasting is left primarily to individual discretion c. When properly understood and practiced, it can be a valuable spiritual discipline d. A way to humble oneself before God; when joined with prayer, a way to solicit God's help - cf. Ezr 8:21-23 We do well to carefully study the subject of fasting (cf. "Fasting - A Special Study"). It would be a shame to have a spiritual tool at our disposal and not make use of it as disciples of Christ...
Obviously Not the Bible
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
In the wake of the best-selling book, The Da Vinci Code, questions have arisen about certain “lost books” of the Bible. Many want to know why the books we find in the Bible are there, and why other books are not. The simple answer to such an inquiry is that the 66 books in the Bible can be proven to be inspired by God, while the others can be proven not to have come from God.
Numerous books allege to be part of the divine collection—books such as the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Infancy Gospels, the Protevangelion, 1 and 2 Clement, Shepherd of Hermes, and so on. Some of these apocryphal books claim to be “additions” to the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Others claim to be epistles from men like Barnabas or Paul. A brief look at a few selected passages in one of these writings quickly reveals a few of the more obvious reasons why these books did not make it into the biblical canon.
In the first Infancy Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as a young boy who does amazing things. On one occasion, while playing with some other boys, Jesus’ playfellows ran and hid from Him. Upon finding them hidden in a furnace, He turned them into goats. The women watching the scene begged Jesus to turn the goats back into boys, which Jesus promptly did (1 Infancy 17:10 in The Lost, 1979, p. 54). About two chapters later, 1 Infancy states: “Another time, when the Lord Jesus was coming home in the evening with Joseph, he met a boy, who ran so hard against him, that he threw him down; to whom the Lord Jesus said, As thou has thrown me down, so shalt thou fall, nor ever rise. And that moment the boy fell down and died” (1 Infancy 19:22-24 in The Lost, p. 57). Narratives such as these directly contradict the personality of Christ as presented in the canonical gospels, and are evidence of the lack of divine inspiration in such works.
Jesus did not turn his playmates into goats, nor kill boys who bumped into Him. Neither did God allow any pertinent books to be left out of the canon of Scripture. Truly, “all things that pertain to life and godliness” can be found in the 66 inspired books of the Bible.
I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist—Really?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
As I travel around the country delivering seminars on God’s existence, I am frequently engaged in conversations with people who understand that atheism is founded on many disproven assumptions. In the course of the discussion, the person will often say, “Atheism is founded on so many unproven assumptions. It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian. I just don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” This sentiment was explicitly expressed by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek in the title of their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist (2004). While I understand and appreciate the motivation behind such a statement, I would like to suggest that it is ill-advised, and would urge Christians to reconsider framing the discussion in such terms. Here is why.
It is unfortunate for Christianity that numerous people misunderstand the basic concept of faith. For many in Christendom, faith is a warm feeling in their hearts when they have failed to find adequate evidence to justify their beliefs. Dictionaries have done much to ingrain this false definition of faith into modern Christianity. For instance, Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary states that faith is “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof” (1988). The American Heritage Dictionary gives as a primary definition of faith: “belief that does not rest on logical or material evidence” (2000, p. 636). The idea that faith is a fuzzy, emotional feeling that is divorced from logical thinking and “material evidence” does not coincide with what the Bible actually says about faith (cf. Sztanyo, 1996). As Sztanyo correctly noted: “There is not a single item in Christianity, upon which our souls’ salvation depends, that is only ‘probably’ true. In each case, the evidence supplied is sufficient to establish conclusive proof regarding the truth of the Christian faith” (1996, p. 7).
The false view that faith is “a leap in the dark” without adequate evidence is the concept that Christians have in mind when they say that it takes more faith to be an atheist than to be a Christian. According to a proper definition of biblical faith, however, it is only because of the rational justification and logical evidence available that true Christians hold to their beliefs (see Miller, 2003). What it takes to be an atheist is not biblical faith. To be an atheist, a person must choose to completely deny the concept of biblical faith and adopt an irrational allegiance to that which has been repeatedly disproven.
When Richard Dawkins states, “Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don’t have to make the case for what you believe” (p. 306), he manifests his lack of knowledge of what biblical faith is. Biblical faith is based on truth and reason, as the apostle Paul succinctly stated in Acts 26:25. The prophet Isaiah underscored this fundamental fact about biblical faith when He recorded God’s invitation to the Israelites: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord” (1:18). Luke, in his introduction to the book of Acts, pressed the point that Jesus’ resurrection was attested by “many infallible proofs.” For one to believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the resurrection requires faith—based on infallible proofs.
Throughout the Bible those who had great faith were commended (Luke 7:9), and those who had little or no faith were sharply rebuked (Matthew 8:26; Mark 16:14). In fact, the Hebrews writer clearly stated that “without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6). Faith is a desirable characteristic by which a person assesses the available evidence and comes to a valid conclusion based on that evidence. By allowing the greater religious world and the skeptical community to redefine faith as something negative, we have done a serious disservice to the biblical concept of faith.
If atheists truly have faith, they should be commended for it; but they do not have faith. Instead, atheism is a failure to assess the evidence correctly and come to the proper conclusion. It is the exact opposite of true faith. Romans 1:20 shows the contrast between biblical faith and atheism. That verse says: “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” In this passage, faith means coming to the proper, rational conclusion that there is a God based on the evidence of His creation. Irrational belief in spite of the evidence leads one to conclude that there is no God. To arrive at this atheistic conclusion is to kick evidence, reason, and faith to the curb and adopt a baseless form of improper reasoning supported only by subjective human whim—an approach that, sadly, will leave atheists “without excuse” on the Day of Judgment.
The philosophy of atheism is fraught with logical inconsistency and error. It cannot account for the beginning of the Universe (Miller, 2011); it cannot give an adequate explanation for the obvious design in our world (Fausz, 2007); atheism completely fails to offer a satisfactory explanation of human morality (Lyons, 2011); and human freewill defies an atheistic explanation (Butt, 2010). To cling to atheism in the face of such overwhelming evidence takes an irrational belief that is motivated by something other than a sincere quest for truth and knowledge—it certainly is not true faith. So, in order to help the greater religious world and the skeptical community to understand what true faith is, let’s not misuse the word or attribute to atheism something it cannot rightly claim to have.
REFERENCESAmerican Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Butt, Kyle (2010), “Biologist Uses His Free Will To Reject Free Will,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2855.
Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin).
Fausz, Jerry (2007), “Design Rules,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=591.
Geisler, Norman and Frank Turek (2004), I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books).
Lyons, Eric (2011), “The Moral Argument for God’s Existence,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4101&topic=95.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Blind Faith,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=444.
Miller, Jeff (2011), “God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3716.
Sztanyo, Dick (1996), Faith and Reason (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/far.pdf.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1988), (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster).
God and the Tsunami
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The death toll is staggering: 150,000 and counting. On December 26, 2004, an underwater earthquake—which registered at 9.0 on the Richter scale—resulted in massive tidal waves from the Indian Ocean, wreaking death and devastation across portions of a dozen nations (Djuhari, 2004). Tsunamis are a series of very long waves generated by any rapid, large-scale disturbance of the sea. Most are generated by sea floor displacements from large undersea earthquakes (“Tsunamis,” 2004).
As shocking as this event may seem, many other natural disasters have occurred in human history that exceed the recent tsunami in their toll of death and destruction. For example, throughout China’s history, extensive flooding has occurred countless times as a result of the mighty 3,000-mile-long Hwang Ho River. Several of the most terrible floods, with their ensuing famines, have been responsible for the deaths of more than a million people at a time. The southern levee of the river failed in Hunan Province in 1887, affecting a 50,000 square mile area (“Hwang Ho,” 2004). More than 2 million people died from drowning, starvation, or the epidemics that followed (“Huang He,” 2004).
In reality, such events have occurred repetitiously throughout the history of the world, and continue to do so—constantly: hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tornados, floods, tsunamis, droughts, and volcano eruptions. In fact, natural disasters kill one million people around the world each decade, and leave millions more homeless, according to the United Nation’s International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (“Disasters...,” 1997).
This circumstance inevitably elicits the pressing question: “Why would God allow such loss of life, inflicted on countless numbers of seemingly innocent people?” The number one argument marshaled by atheists to advocate their disbelief in God is the presence of widespread, seemingly purposeless suffering. They insist that if an infinite Being existed, He would exercise His perfect compassion and His omnipotence to prevent human suffering (e.g., Lowder, 2004; cf. Jackson, 2001). Even for many people who do not embrace formal atheism, the fact that God apparently seems willing to allow misery and suffering to run rampant in the world, elicits a gamut of reactions—from perplexity and puzzlement to anger and resentment.
But the Bible provides the perfect explanation for such occurrences. Its handling of the subject is logical, sufficient, and definitive. It sets forth the fact that God created the world to be the most appropriate, suitable environment in which humans are enabled to make their own decisions concerning their ultimate destiny (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). We humans have been provided with the ideal environment in which we may freely accept or reject God’s will for our lives. All instances of natural disasters and nature’s destructive forces are the result of specific conditions that are necessary to God’s providing humanity with this ideal environment.
God is not blameworthy for having created such a world, since He had a morally justifiable reason for having done so. Human existence on Earth was not intended to be permanent. Rather, the Creator intended life on Earth to serve as a temporary interval of time for the development of one’s soul. Life on Earth is a probationary period in which people are given the opportunity to attend to their spiritual condition as it relates to God’s will for living. Natural disasters provide people with conclusive evidence that life on Earth is brief and uncertain. [NOTE: For further study on this thorny issue, see Thompson, 1997, and Warren, 1972.]
Christians understand that no matter how catastrophic, tragic, or disastrous an event may be, it fits into the overall framework of soul-making—preparation for one’s departure from life into eternity. Likewise, the Christian knows that although the great pain and suffering caused by natural disasters may be unpleasant, and may test one’s mettle; nevertheless, such suffering is not intrinsically evil. Nor is it a reflection on the existence of an omnibenevolent God. The only intrinsic evil is violation of God’s will. What is required of all accountable persons is obedience to God’s revealed Word (given in the Bible)—even amidst pain, suffering, sickness, disease, death, and, yes, tsunamis.
REFERENCES“Disasters: A Deadly and Costly Toll Around the World” (1997), FEMA News, [On-line], URL: http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/stats.pdf.
Djuhari, Lely (2004), “Asia Rushes to Bury 67,000 Tsunami Victims,” Seattle-Post Intelligencer, December 29, [On-line], URL: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/apasia_story.asp?category=1104&slug=Quake Tsunami.
“Huang He, or Hwang Ho” (2004), Britannica Student Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article?tocId=9274966.
“Hwang Ho” (2004), LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://32.1911encyclopedia.org/H/HW/HWANG_HO.htm.
Jackson, Roy (2001), “The Problem of Evil,” The Philosopher’s Magazine Online, [On-line], URL: http://www.philosophers.co.uk/cafe/rel_six.htm.
Lowder, Jeffery (2004), “Logical Arguments From Evil,” Internet Infidels, [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/evil-logical.html.
Thompson, Bert (1997), “Divine Benevolence, Human Suffering, and Intrinsic Value,” Reason and Revelation, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/198.
“Tsunamis” (2004), National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), [On-line], URL: http://www.noaa.gov/tsunamis.html.
Warren, Thomas (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God? (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Dating in Archaeology: Challenges to Biblical Credibility
|by||Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.|
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series on “Dating in Archaeology.” Part I is titled “Dating in Archaeology: Radiocarbon and Tree-Ring Dating.”]
“Biblical historical data are accurate to an extent far surpassing the ideas of any modern critical students, who have consistently tended to err on the side of hypercriticism” (1949, Albright, p. 229).
“Archaeologists now generally agree that their discoveries...have produced a new consensus about the formation of ancient Israel that contradicts significant parts of the biblical version” (Strauss, 1988).These statements represent the conflicting messages that characterize the field of archaeology. In Albright’s era, archaeologists’ interpretations of field excavations ordinarily corroborated biblical information. It was common for prominent archaeologists such as Nelson Glueck to confidently affirm: “...no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference” (1959, p. 31).
Prior to the 1970s, interpretations of archaeological explorations generally heightened the Bible’s credibility (Davis, 1993, 19:54-59). Since then, however, the amiable relationship between archaeology and the Bible has deteriorated dramatically. It is commonplace for the new generation of archaeologists to spurn the historical credibility of the biblical narrative (see Dever, 1990, 16:52-62).
Archaeology, therefore, presents a challenge to those who contend for the integrity of the Scriptures. How are we to respond? On what basis do many archaeologists repudiate the historicity of the biblical text, and how reliable are their methods? To answer these and other questions we must have a basic understanding of the science of archaeology.
A “MOUND” OF EVIDENCE
Though much surface exploration occurs, we often associate archaeology with excavation. Most excavations involve a “tell,” which is the Arabic word for “mound.” More descriptively, the word traces back to the Babylonian tillu, which meant “ruin heap” (Albright, 1949, p. 18). Similar to the Indian mounds of North America, tells are artificial hills composed of the cultural remains (e.g., pottery, tools, weapons, statues) from different settlements on the same site.
Stratification—the Making of a TellThe cross section of a tell resembles a layer cake, with each layer representing an occupational level. These mounds were not formed merely by the natural drifting of sands, or by the gradual accumulation of debris. Though these were factors, catastrophes such as war, fire, or earthquake destroyed a settlement. Then, new settlers leveled the ground, and rebuilt on the same site. The layer of debris from the previous city formed a stratum, which generally measured from about one to five feet thick (Free, 1969, pp. 6-7). This caused the ground level of the new settlement to be several feet higher than the previous one. Also, the cultural remnants of the older settlement lay underneath the new.
Over the years, this process was repeated until several successive strata were formed, and the mound rose higher. As the height of the mound rose, the occupational area generally decreased (though sometimes the reverse occurred; Albright, 1949, p. 17). When the site was finally abandoned, wind and rain leveled the top and eroded the sides, until a city wall or other structure halted the erosion process. The shape of these mounds resembles a truncated cone (see Unger, 1954, pp. 19-21). Most important biblical sites have this characteristic form, which trained archaeologists readily recognize.
Excavation and DatingOnce a tell has been identified, then comes the arduous and fastidious task of excavation. There is more to excavating one of these mounds than merely removing each successive occupational layer, since artifacts from one stratum can intrude into another level. Archaeologists, therefore, have developed methods that help them identify artifacts with their proper stratum (see Kenyon, 1957a, pp. 75-80; LaSor, 1979, 1:237-240). These methods also assist them in developing a sequential chronology of the tell, since artifacts from the top layer represent the most recent civilization and the bottom layer represents the oldest. But how do they assign specific dates to these levels?
Often, and especially for ancient dates, radiocarbon and dendrochronology (i.e., tree-ring dating) are employed, whose deficiencies have been well-documented (see Major, 1993). For more recent dates, archaeologists generally rely on a sophisticated dating system based upon pottery, which is used extensively in Syro-Palestinian archaeology. Sir Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), the famed Egyptologist, first introduced this method, and William Albright, the distinguished American archaeologist, refined it further. Pottery serves well for dating purposes for at least two reasons: (1) it was relatively inexpensive, and thus plentiful; and (2) pottery styles underwent frequent changes (see LaSor, 1979, 1:241-242; Laughlin, 1992; Wood, 1988). This system associates the marked changes of pottery styles with different archaeological ages (see Figure 1).
|Figure 1: Cross section through an idealized tell showing
pottery types, and successive layers of settlement from ancient to
modern times. The evolutionary-based archaeological timescale on the
right comes from Silberman (1989).
ARCHAEOLOGY AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY
The Age of the EarthFirst, there is a discrepancy between the archaeological and biblical estimations of the Earth’s age. The chronologies supplied with the genealogies from Adam to Abraham prohibit the Earth from being as old as the archaeological timescale indicates. While it is true that genealogical rec~ords occasionally may contain gaps, this does not negate the force of the chronologies attached to them. If Seth were, for example, a distant relative of Adam, nevertheless, Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born (Genesis 5:3). We cannot dismiss a priori biblical chronology simply by assuming genealogical gaps.
The archaeological timescale indicates a Paleolithic era which dates back to 700,000 years ago. Further, archaeologists generally recognize a Neolithic settlement at Tell es-Sultan (Jericho) which dates to about 8000 B.C. (Wood, 1990, 16:45). Since the Flood would have destroyed any orderly remains of antediluvian civilizations, the remnants of ancient societies preserved in mounds (as those at Jericho) most likely accumulated after the Flood (Vaninger, 1985a, 20:34). Such a timetable forces the Creation back several thousand more years than allowed by biblical chronology.
Conquest of CanaanSecond, biblical and archaeological dates of some historical events are in conflict. A classic example of this chronological tension is the conquest of Canaan. The Bible indicates that 480 years transpired between the exodus and the fourth year of Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 6:1). We can date his reign with reasonable confidence at 971-931 B.C., which places the date of his fourth regnal year at 967 B.C. This would place the date of the exodus at 1447 B.C. Allowing for the 40 years of wilderness wandering prior to the Israelites’ invasion of Canaan, the initial stages of the conquest occurred around 1407 B.C.
However, archaeologists generally believe that the Israelites entered Canaan about 1230-1220 B.C., nearly 200 years later than the biblical date (Bimson, 1987, 13:40-42). Again, excavations at Jericho, the first fortified city conquered by the Israelites (Joshua 2-6), are at the heart of this controversy. John Garstang was the first to employ modern pottery chronology to explore this biblical site. He uncovered a residential area in the southeast slope of the tell, which he called “City IV.” This city had been destroyed by a violent conflagration. Based on pottery in the destruction debris, and other artifacts in the nearby cemetery, he associated City IV with the first city Israel defeated in the conquest. Garstang dated this destruction level to the late 15th or early 14th century B.C., and he believed that the invading Israelites caused the destruction, in harmony with the biblical record (Joshua 6:24; Wood, 1987, p. 7).
Kathleen Kenyon critiqued Garstang’s work in 1951, and did additional excavation at this site during 1952-1958. Kenyon disagreed with Garstang’s date of the destruction level, and placed it at c. 1550 B.C., many years before the biblical date of the conquest. She further contended that in 1400 B.C. there was no fortified city for Joshua’s army to conquer, and that the archaeological evidence does not agree with the biblical description of a large-scale military incursion contemporary with the destruction of Jericho (Kenyon, 1957b, p. 259). Kenyon based her conclusions largely upon the absence of pottery typically used around 1400 B.C.
Subsequently, scholars have critiqued Kenyon’s work and have vindicated the conclusions of Garstang, and, by implication, the biblical chronology (Wood, 1990; Livingston, 1988; see also Jackson, 1990). Kenyon’s conclusions, however, caused Jericho to become the classic example of the difficulties with correlating the biblical account of the conquest with the archaeological record. Pottery stands at the center of the interpretive and dating discrepancies of the conquest.
PROBLEMS WITH ARCHAEOLOGICAL METHODS
Evolutionary AssumptionsAs a rule, archaeologists endorse evolutionary assumptions that the Earth is ancient and that man developed gradually—both physically and intellectually—over millions of years. Kenyon attributed the development of the Jordan Valley to vast terrestrial movements two million years ago (Kenyon, 1957b, p. 23). Albright discussed in detail the “...artistic evolution of Homo sapiens,” which first began around 30,000 to 20,000 B.C. (1942, pp. 6-10). Allegedly, as man slowly “evolved,” he learned how to manufacture tools from stones, and gradually developed the ability to make pottery. With his discovery of fire, he learned to fashion tools from copper and iron. Thus, archaeologists assume that centuries transpired before man graduated from stone tools and weapons to metallic implements.
This, however, is an assumption that is plainly at odds with biblical revelation. Man was highly intelligent from the dawn of Creation, and possessed the ability to manufacture tools and musical instruments (indicative of artistic ability) from metals (Genesis 4:20-22). Further, the descendants of Noah retained the technical ability for making tools and weapons, which would allow for rapid cultural recovery and restoration after the Flood (see Vaninger, 1985b, 22:67). The tower of Babel is an eloquent, and infamous, witness to the postdiluvians’ technical abilities (Genesis 11).
In addition, the divinely prompted dispersion from Babel would account for the cultural disparity between ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian cultures. Researchers have found virtually no evidence of unsophisticated cultures in Egypt; advanced civilization in that region veritably explodes onto the historical scene. In contrast, Mesopotamia exhibits a clear cultural development from simple societies to more advanced civilization (Vaninger, 1985a, 22:38). This has puzzled archaeologists for many years. But, the ancient dispersion could account for these disparate cultural developments.
Evidence indicates that an aggressive transfusion of culture from the Near and Middle East into Egypt occurred in ancient history, which directly corresponds to biblical information (cf. Genesis 11:8-9; Albright, 1949, pp. 71-72). Those who migrated to Egypt obviously carried with them both culture and technology more advanced than those possessed by the people who remained in the Mesopotamian region. Accordingly, highly developed civilizations, and cultures which used stone implements, were contemporary; they were not separated by millennia. Even today, some cultures remain isolated from advanced technology, and continue to employ implements generally associated with the so-called Stone Age (see Livingston, 1992, 5:7). Thus, evidence of settlements using stone tools does not demand an ancient Earth.
Paucity of EvidenceSecond, we must recognize that archaeological evidence is fragmentary and, therefore, greatly limited. Despite the amount of potsherds, bones, ornaments, or tools collected from a given site, the evidence reflects only a paltry fraction of what existed in antiquity (Brandfon, 1988, 14:54). Unearthed data often are insufficient, inconclusive, and subject to biased interpretation. The current debate about the time of the conquest is a case in point. Archaeological data alone are inadequate to determine the exact date, or cause, of Jericho’s destruction. Therefore, we should listen with cautious skepticism when archaeologists appeal to evidence that conflicts with the biblical text.
Presuppositions of ArchaeologistsThird, the paucity of archaeological evidence provides fertile soil for imaginative—and often contradictory—conclusions. We must not overlook the matter of subjectivity in interpretations. Regarding this matter, Jesse Long Jr. correctly stated that “...presuppositions and assumptions determine interpretive stance and often color conclusions” (1992, 134:12). He further added that “...the new archaeological consensus [regarding discoveries contradicting significant parts of the biblical version—GKB] may be more a reflection of philosophical assumptions than the concrete evidence of sherds and stones” (1992, 134:12).
Inexact ScienceFinally, archaeology is an imprecise science, and should not serve as the judge of biblical historicity. The pottery dating scheme, for example, has proved to be most helpful in determining relative dates of strata in a tell. But, at best, pottery can place one only within the “chronological ball park.” John Laughlin, a seasoned archaeologist, recognized the importance of potsherds in dating strata, but offered two warnings: (1) a standard pottery type might have had many variants; and (2) similar ceramic types might not date to the same era—some types may have survived longer than others, and different manufacturing techniques and styles might have been introduced at different times in different locales. Further, he mentioned the fact of subjectivity in determining pottery typology: “...in addition to its observable traits, pottery has a ‘feel’ to it” (1990, 18:72). Therefore, we must recognize archaeology for what it is—an inexact science with the innate capacity for mistakes.
Indeed, archaeology is most helpful in biblical studies, often confirming and illuminating biblical texts. We must be aware, however, of its limitations, and deficiencies. The dating methods employed (e.g., radiocarbon, dendrochronology, pottery, and others) are imperfect, and are always based upon certain assumptions. Further, we should be aware of the current anti-biblical trend among many archaeologists. As with any scientific discipline, we need not sift God’s Word through the sieve of archaeological inquiry. Archaeological interpretations are in a constant state of flux and often wither as grass, but God’s Word abides forever.
Albright, W.F. (1949), The Archaeology of Palestine (Hardmondsworth, England: Penguin Books).
Bimson, John (1987), “Redating the Exodus,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13:40-68, September/October.
Brandfon, Fredric (1988), “Archaeology and the Biblical Text,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 14:54-59, January/February.
Brantley, Garry K. (1993), “Pagan Mythology and the Bible,” Reason & Revelation, 13:49-53, July.
Davis, Thomas (1993), “Faith and Archaeology: A Brief History to the Present,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 19:54-59, March/April.
Dever, William (1990), “Archaeology and the Bible: Understanding Their Special Relationship,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 16:52-62, May/June.
Free, Joseph (1969), Archaeology and Bible History (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press).
Glueck, Nelson (1959), Rivers in the Desert (New York: Grove Press).
Jackson, Wayne (1990), “The Saga of Ancient Jericho,” Reason & Revelation, 10:17-19, April.
Kenyon, Kathleen (1957a), Beginning in Archaeology (New York: Praeger).
Kenyon, Kathleen (1957b), Digging Up Jericho (New York: Praeger).
LaSor, W.S. (1979), “Archaeology,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:235-244, revised edition.
Laughlin, John (1992), “How to Date a Cooking Pot,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 18:72-74, September/October.
Livingston, David (1988), “Exodus and Conquest,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 1:13-17, Summer.
Livingston, David (1992), “Was Adam a Cave Man?,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 5:5-15, January/February.
Long, Jesse C. Jr. (1992), “Archaeology in Biblical Studies,” Gospel Advocate, 134:12-14, December.
Major, Trevor (1993), “Dating in Archaeology—Radiocarbon and Tree-Ring Dating,” Reason & Revelation, 13:73-77, October.
Silberman, Neil Asher (1989), “Measuring Time Archaeologically,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 15:70-71, November/December.
Strauss, Stephen (1988), quoted in: Long, Jesse Jr. (1992), “Archaeology in Biblical Studies,” Gospel Advocate, 134:12-14, December.
Unger, Merrill (1954), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Vaninger, Stan (1985a), “Archaeology and the Antiquity of Ancient Civilization: A Conflict with Biblical Chronology?—Part I,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 22:33-39, June.
Vaninger, Stan (1985b), “Archaeology and the Antiquity of Ancient Civilization: A Conflict with Biblical Chronology?—Part II,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 22:64-67, September.
Wood, Bryant (1987), “Uncovering the Truth at Jericho,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, pp. 7-16, premier issue.
Wood, Bryant (1988), “Before They Were Sherds,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 1:27ff., Autumn.
Wood, Bryant (1990), “Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?—A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 16:45-57, March/April.
Homosexuality Continues Its Assault On Our Society
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
The homosexual community has tried almost everything in its power to make their sinful lifestyle appear legitimate (Romans 1:18-32). Homosexuals have suggested that since some animals exhibit homosexual tendencies, it must be a “natural” way of life. Same-sex defenders have suggested that homosexuality is genetic, and those who are engaged in it cannot help themselves due to their genetic composition. Others have proposed that it is not genetic, but it is helpful and constructive to a society, and that all “loving” homosexual relationships should be affirmed.
In truth, all of the attempts to justify homosexuality have failed miserably. Homosexuality is a chosen, sinful lifestyle that is destructive both to individuals and societies that allow the practice to thrive. Many Americans understand the destructive nature of homosexuality and have repeatedly tried to protect our culture from the practice. Those efforts are consistently being undermined by many governmental authorities in high places. Recently, Pete Yost, Associated Press writer, reported on the White House’s latest attempt to encourage homosexuality. He noted that the Attorney General said, “President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman” (Yost, 2011)
In addition to the Barack Obama’s reversal of his stance on the federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, the state of Hawaii recently added new legislation encouraging homosexuality. Hawaiian governor Neil Abercrombie signed a law stating that, starting January 1, 2012, homosexual couples will have all the same rights as heterosexual couples (Neisse, 2011).
Such legislation and support for the sin of homosexuality is on the rise, and seems to be increasing by the day. Sadly, that means that our society cannot expect to be a nation that is “under God” and receive His blessings if it continues to promote and condone such sinful behavior. The apostle Peter reminded his readers that God turned “the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes [and], condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6, emp. added). As Christians, we must love our nation and fellow citizens enough to remind them that homosexuality is a sin. We must care enough for our nation to do all that is within our power and moral responsibility to dissuade our nation from accepting such aberrant, destructive behavior. We should pray that the Lord will be patient, and pray that He will give us courage to “open our mouths boldly” to preach the truth about homosexuality and its eternally devastating consequences.
REFERENCESNiesse, Mark (2011), “Hawaii’s Governor Signs Civil Unions Into Law,” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41746743/ns/us_news/.
Yost, Pete (2011), “White House Reverses Policy on Rule Banning Recognition of Same-Sex Unions,” http://www.theledger.com/article/20110223/NEWS/102235037/1410?Title=White-House-Reverses-Policy-on-Rule-Banning-Recognition-of-Same-Sex-Unions.
Bear One Another’s Burdens, or Just Bear Your Own?by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
How do Galatians 6 verses two and five harmonize? According to the apostle Paul, Christians are to “[b]ear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). However, only three verses later, he writes: “For every man shall bear his own burden” (6:5). Skeptic Steve Wells, author of the popular Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, categorizes Galatians 6:2 and 6:5 as contradictory verses (see Wells, 2015). Bible critic Dennis McKinsey comments on these verses, saying, “Gal. 6:2 says that we should bear one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ, while three verses later we are told that everyone should bear his own burden. So who is to bear our burdens?... One can’t help but ask why people would be obligated to aid the poor if every man is supposed to bear his own burden” (1995, pp. 86, 430). So are Christians to “bear one another’s burdens,” or is the child of God to “bear his own burden”?
First of all, though skeptics generally seem rather unconcerned for the original language in which the Scriptures were written, oftentimes consulting the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek gives the reader a better understanding of the text (see, for example, Lyons, 2009). In Galatians 6:2 and 6:5, though the same English word [“burden(s)”] is used in the King James translation, the fact is, different Greek words were used in the original manuscripts. In verse 2, “burdens” is translated from baros, meaning “weight,” or figuratively, an “experience of someth[ing] that is particularly oppressive” (Danker, 2000, p. 167). In verse 5, “burden” is from fortion, meaning “that which constitutes a load for transport,” or “that which is carried and constitutes a burden” (Danker, p. 1064, emp. added). Many modern versions have attempted to show readers the difference in the two words by translating baros as “burden(s)” in 6:2 and fortion as “load” in 6:5 (NKJV, NASB, ESV). Though further explanation to the alleged conundrum is still necessary, noting the difference in the Greek should cause skeptics to reconsider their KJV-based accusations.
Second, Galatians 6:2 and 6:5 do not represent an either/or command. If it is possible for the Christian both to (1) bear his own burden/load, while at the same time (2) help bear another’s burden, then both commands must be followed, without assuming that one command must be obeyed to the exclusion of the other. Consider how the Bible writers condemned laziness (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:5; 21:25). Paul even went so far as to say, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, emp. added). At the same time, the child of God is to give to the poor (Proverbs 28:27; Luke 3:11). Paul instructed the penitent thief to “labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28, ESV, emp. added). Are we to work to take care of our families and ourselves? Yes. Are we to help others who are genuinely in need (i.e., who have burdens that they are unable to bear alone)? Yes. Should lazy busybodies expect to receive physical help from Christians? Not necessarily. (They should “work in quietness and eat their own bread.” If anyone is capable of working, yet willfully chooses laziness instead, “neither shall he eat.”) In short, the Christian takes his personal responsibilities seriously (he “bears his own”). At the same time, for those whose burdens of life are more than they can carry, the Christian joyfully comes to their aid to provide them various kinds of physical and spiritual assistance.
There are some responsibilities that no one can carry for us. No one can become a Christian for someone else. No one can worship for another. And no one will be able to “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” for someone else. Rather, “each one” will receive “the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, emp. added). Therefore, “Let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Galatians 6:4). Just as a soldier is expected to carry his own “load” in battle, the servant of Christ the King recognizes his individual responsibilities to the Lord. At the same time, as soldiers assist fallen comrades on the battlefield in hopes of saving their lives, dedicated servants of Christ look to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
REFERENCESDanker, Frederick William, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, (2000), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Lyons, Eric (2009), “Does God Tempt People?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=2679.
McKinsey, Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Wells, Steve (2015), The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/gal/6.html; http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/burden.html.
When will these things be?
What do the predictions mean in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21?“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:1-3 // Mark 13:1-4; Luke 21:5-7).
Herod’s temple had been under construction for forty-six years (John 2:20). The Jews were proud of its grandeur. It was made of white limestone and large sections were overlaid with gold.
When Jesus said the temple would be destroyed, His disciples wondered when that would happen.
Much confusion has been caused by strange interpretations of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Let us carefully examine these predictions in the light of other passages on the same topics.
First we must notice that the disciples ask two separate questions. (1) When will the temple be destroyed? (2) What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?
To avoid misunderstanding we must notice which question is being discussed in different parts of the passage. Sometimes there is confusion and people think, for example, that something about Jerusalem applies to the second coming.
When will the temple be destroyed?
Jesus warns His followers: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations” (Luke 21:20-24 // Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20).
In 66 AD, Cestius surrounded Jerusalem to put down a rebellion, but suddenly he discontinued the siege and left (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 19, Section 7). When that occurred, the Christians left Jerusalem because of the warning of Jesus. In 70 AD Jerusalem was surrounded by Titus. After a long siege in which many people died of starvation, the city was taken and the temple was set on fire by the soldiers, although Titus had instructed them to spare the temple. After the fire, the temple was torn apart stone by stone to get the gold that had melted and run between the cracks. It is estimated that there were 50 tons of gold on the temple walls. During the siege, the dead bodies of those who died of starvation were thrown over the walls, and when the city was taken, blood flowed like rainwater in the streets.
Eusebius, who wrote his church history about 300 AD, states that all Christians had left Jerusalem before the siege (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Chapter 5, Section 3).
When will heaven and earth pass away?
Although Jesus gave clear signs about the destruction of the temple, He did not know when the end of the age would be: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:29-32 // Matthew 24:34-36).
The temple would be destroyed in that generation, but only the Father knows when the earth will pass away.
When Christ returns, heaven and earth will be destroyed.
Jesus continues: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:35-39).
Thus, at “the coming of the Son of Man” “heaven and earth will pass away”.
Only the Father knows when the end will be. He has put this “in His own authority” (Acts 1:7). It will be “in His own time” (1 Timothy 6:15).
Thus Christ’s followers must always be ready. “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming -- in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning -- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37). “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:40-44).
Many false teachers claim to know when Christ is coming. But Jesus says His followers do not know the time of His coming.
There are also false teachers who want to separate the coming of Christ from the destruction of the world. But the two will occur at the same time according to this passage.
Peter also writes that heaven and earth will be destroyed when Christ returns. “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:3-7).
Peter relates the “promise of His coming” to the destruction of the heavens and the earth. Since we do not know when Christ will come, the time might be short or long. In the meantime, sinners have an opportunity to repent: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8, 9).
But whether the time be short or long, the end will come: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10-13).
Jesus says certain things are not signs of His coming.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:6, 7). Amazingly, some false teachers even claim that the various things Jesus says are not signs of his coming, are signs of His coming! I once heard a radio speaker quote this verse to that effect, but as he read, he skipped over the part: “but the end is not yet”! Beware of false teachers! They twist the Scriptures.
Someone who claims to know when Jesus is coming, is a false teacher.
Jesus warns: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them” (Luke 21:8). In every generation there are people who claim to know that the time has drawn near. And, as Jesus predicted, they deceive many. Why? Because many do not listen to what Jesus says: “Do not follow them.”
With John we can say: “It is the last hour” (1 John 2:18) and with Peter: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7) because since Pentecost we are in “the last days” (Acts 2:17) and Jesus can come at any moment. But anyone who claims to know more than that by saying: “The time has drawn near” (Luke 21:8) is a false teacher.
Only the Father knows when the end will be. We must always be ready.
Everyone will see Jesus when He comes.
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:23-27).
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7).
Thus someone who claims that Jesus came in 70 AD is a false teacher, as are Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim that He came invisibly in 1914.
When Jesus comes, everyone will see Him. Do not be deceived.
The signs of Jesus’ return occur as He is coming.
When those signs appear, it will be too late. The time for repentance is passed. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30, 31).
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:25-28).
Thus, when the sign of the Son of Man appears, the lost will tremble and the saved will rejoice. Jesus will come as a thief in the night. We must be ready. Once the sign of the Son of Man appears, it will be too late.
What then is the reply to the two questions? (1) The temple would be destroyed in that generation. His followers recognized the signs and left Jerusalem. (2) No one knows when Jesus will return, thus we must be ready at all times. Maybe there will still be thousands of years, or He may come right now! The end of all things is at hand. Are we ready?
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
Bible Reading January 9 (World English Bible)
Gen 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
Gen 9:2 The fear of you and the dread of you will be on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the sky. Everything that the ground teems with, and all the fish of the sea are delivered into your hand.
Gen 9:3 Every moving thing that lives will be food for you. As the green herb, I have given everything to you.
Gen 9:4 But flesh with its life, its blood, you shall not eat.
Gen 9:5 I will surely require your blood of your lives. At the hand of every animal I will require it. At the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, I will require the life of man.
Gen 9:6 Whoever sheds man's blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in his own image.
Gen 9:7 Be fruitful and multiply. Bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply in it."
Gen 9:8 God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying,
Gen 9:9 "As for me, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your offspring after you,
Gen 9:10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the livestock, and every animal of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ship, even every animal of the earth.
Gen 9:11 I will establish my covenant with you: all flesh will not be cut off any more by the waters of the flood, neither will there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth."
Gen 9:12 God said, "This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
Gen 9:13 I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth.
Gen 9:14 It will happen, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud,
Gen 9:15 and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Gen 9:16 The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."
Gen 9:17 God said to Noah, "This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."
Gen 9:18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ship were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham is the father of Canaan.
Gen 9:19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these, the whole earth was populated.
Gen 9:20 Noah began to be a farmer, and planted a vineyard.
Gen 9:21 He drank of the wine and got drunk. He was uncovered within his tent.
Gen 9:22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.
Gen 9:23 Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it on both their shoulders, went in backwards, and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were backwards, and they didn't see their father's nakedness.
Gen 9:24 Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done to him.
Gen 9:25 He said, "Canaan is cursed. He will be servant of servants to his brothers."
Gen 9:26 He said, "Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Shem. Let Canaan be his servant.
Gen 9:27 May God enlarge Japheth. Let him dwell in the tents of Shem. Let Canaan be his servant."
Gen 9:28 Noah lived three hundred fifty years after the flood.
Gen 9:29 All the days of Noah were nine hundred fifty years, then he died.
Mat 5:1 Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain. When he had sat down, his disciples cJame to him.
Mat 5:2 He opened his mouth and taught them, saying,
Mat 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mat 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Mat 5:5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Mat 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Mat 5:10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mat 5:11 "Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Mat 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.
Mat 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden.
Mat 5:15 Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.
Mat 5:16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Mat 5:17 "Don't think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn't come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Mat 5:18 For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.
Mat 5:19 Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mat 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mat 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, 'You shall not murder;' and 'Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.'
Mat 5:22 But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.
Mat 5:23 "If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you,
Mat 5:24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Mat 5:25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.
Mat 5:26 Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there, until you have paid the last penny.
Mat 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;'
Mat 5:28 but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Mat 5:29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.
Mat 5:30 If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.
Mat 5:31 "It was also said, 'Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,'
Mat 5:32 but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery.
Mat 5:33 "Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,'
Mat 5:34 but I tell you, don't swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God;
Mat 5:35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Mat 5:36 Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can't make one hair white or black.
Mat 5:37 But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.
Mat 5:38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'
Mat 5:39 But I tell you, don't resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Mat 5:40 If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.
Mat 5:41 Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
Mat 5:42 Give to him who asks you, and don't turn away him who desires to borrow from you.
Mat 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'
Mat 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,
Mat 5:45 that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
Mat 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same?
Mat 5:47 If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don't even the tax collectors do the same?
Mat 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.