Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The first and last women mentioned in the bible

Jezebel, Byam Shaw, 1898.
I recently studied the four women of Revelation. My favorite books are Genesis and Revelation. I love firsts and lasts, the beginnings and endings of things. The 4 women of Revelation are the Jezebel of Rev 2 representing the pagan church, Woman clothed with the Sun in Rev 12 representing Israel, the Whore of Babylon of Rev 17 representing the apostate church, and the Wife of Rev 21 representing the true church.

So here is how the Holy Spirit extended my thinking some more. I was thinking about the covenant of marriage as described in the bible and reading some passages from the bible.

I took a break and was watching a tv show online from 15 years ago that used to be on the Pax channel, called Hope Island. It is a family oriented drama, a kind of faith show. It is an excellent show, the best scripted drama Pax ever put on, and it got high reviews and fan raves. So they canceled it right away. But enough about my grief.

In the episode I was watching, two main characters are getting married. She is 25 and still lives at home, not with her intended husband-to-be. Even by 1999 standards this was unusual. So the ceremony was concluded with all due gravitas and it was good, and I got to thinking about marriage and what it means to be a wife.

And then I realized that in my penchant for thinking of extremes, firsts and lasts, that if I learned in my study time a few days ago the last woman mentioned in the bible is "Wife/Bride".
Whore of Babylon, Russian engraving, 1800s

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” (Revelation 22:17)

The first woman mentioned in the bible was wife also!

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:22-25)

God takes marriage very, VERY seriously. In watching the very good clip of Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation explaining why gay marriage doesn't exist, it hammers the point home even more. And not just homosexual marriage, bigamy or polygamy is an affront to God. Divorce is also, if done under any conditions but the allowances given in the bible. The first woman is mentioned as wife in Genesis and at the end in Revelation the entire human history is seen to be God's gathering a wife for His Son.

Margaret Murray Prior, 1882 wedding dress
It also brings home the importance of women in God's plan. Complementarians know this, but egalitarians don't. God loves His people. He made two genders and two genders only. This is for many reasons, some obvious and some known only to God. But one thing is sure, one reason was so that we could unite and form a marital union ordained by God, grown by God, and pleasing to God.

And pleasing God is the thing for which we are made.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10).

Angels are an amazing part of the created order

Angels figure very, very prominently in the NT. People don't really know this, or they overlook angels int he created order. At the other end of the scale, some are so preoccupied with angels they nearly fall into angel worship.

In terms of the Providence of God, if Ezekiel's wheels within wheels are a kind of visible/invisible machinery of providence (as Spurgeon described it in his sermon "God's Providence" #3114), then perhaps the other angels are also a kind of visible/invisible machinery of God's providence, like we glimpsed in Jacob's ladder. (Genesis 28:12)

Dr RC Sproul has two lectures available on angels, part 1 & 2. He said the Greek word for angel appears in the NT more often than does the Greek word for sin (hamartan├│). It also appears more often than the Greek word for love (agape).
Chris Koelle Book of Revelation Graphic Novel

Sproul taught from Hebrews and Colossians and also 2 Kings, and said it was obvious given the texts devoted them that there had been a problem in the first century of people giving them junior deity status and ascribing worship to them, with even Paul & Silas being mistaken for angels.

But with all the warnings not to overestimate angels in their position, neither does the NT deny the importance of them, Sproul said.

He also said something interesting,
Part of the problem we have with angels, is that we tend to associate angels with the supernatural realm. We think of the angels as being a supernatural being. In one sense it is correct to call angels a supernatural being. In another sense it's quite dangerous to refer to them as supernatural beings, because the one thing that's clear in the scriptures about the nature of angels is that they belong to nature. They belong to the created order. Angels are not divine. Angels are creatures, part of the original creation that God made. In THAT sense, angels are natural beings.
The reason they are looked at as supernatural beings is because of their constituent nature. The bible tells us they are creatures, but they differ from us and animals and plants in that their nature is a spirit nature rather than a physical or a material nature. Because they are spirit beings under normal circumstances, they remain invisible to the naked eye. Unless they manifest themselves in a kind of angelophany, their basic nature is invisible, dwelling in a realm that is invisible to us.
RC Sproul
Sproul said, how often do we think of angels? Of course we're not to adore them, or be preoccupied with them, but we are to give them due meditation, as they are an important part of the order and are referred to frequently in the bible. He said we need to be thinking about why there is such a heavy concentration of angels at certain times in history.

This was something that was brought to my attention back some years when I listened to John MacArthur preach through Revelation. It was an eye-opening series in many ways.

Sproul's lectures focused on the angels as messengers and angels as ministering spirits. But that is not all they are. Angels are also vehicles of Judgment. It is angels who mainly bring the judgments of Revelation. For example,

Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. ... Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:2, 6-7)

In addition to angels being part of the machinery of God's providence, messengers, ministering agents, judgment-bringers, they are also warriors.

Archangel Michael fighting the Dragon, Durer 1497
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven (Revelation 12:7)

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)

Angels are an amazing part of the created order! I recommend both of the Sproul lectures. They are about 25 minutes each.

RC Sproul: Angels Part 1
RC Sproul: Angels part 2

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones also has a series on angels, here
S. Lewis Johnson preached about angels from Hebrews 1:4-6, Angels Worship the Son!
John MacArthur preached "Angels- God's Invisible Army"

Enjoy learning about angels, our ministering helpers, messengers of God, fighters against evil for our Holy Trinity.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Ryan Anderson explains why gay marriage doesn't exist

Here is a 4-minute clip well worth watching for its logical, lawyerly speech regarding marriage. The responder is Ryan Anderson. Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

The homosexual man at the microphone is asking why he, as a married gay man, can't have the same tax advantage when it comes time to file IRS tax returns, as a heterosexually married couple.




Anderson is brilliant in his response. The homosexual man doesn't seem to understand the underlying principle of what Anderson tried to get at three times, so finally Anderson answers the gay man's question within its limited scope. But he does that brilliantly too.

Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh
. (Genesis 2:23-24)

Anderson said in part:
Marriage is a union of sexually complementary spouses, a permanent, exclusive union- man & woman, husband & wife, mother & father. If you're not interested in entering into that sort of union, you're not being discriminated against.
What you're asking us to do is redefining marriage to include "the adult relationship of your choice." The relationship of your choice happens to be a same-sex couple. There are other adults who want to redefine marriage to include a relationship of their choice, which may be the same-sex throuple, or the opposite sex quartet.
It's like this. There is the color red. Red is known, it is certain. It is defined "of a color at the end of the spectrum next to orange and opposite violet, as of blood, fire, or rubies."
EPrata photo
Now say some people came along and wanted to add yellow to the color red. They agitated for it, proclaimed, exhorted, fought for yellow to be added to red, just because they thought that would be good.
EPrata photo

And say that they were successful in getting yellow added to red. You don't have red anymore. You have orange.

Because red and yellow make orange. Once you mix another element into the red, it becomes something else, and the old definition won't fit anymore. People will not recognize the old thing because now it is a new thing.

Once you add same-sex humans to the old definition of marriage, it isn't marriage anymore and it isn't recognizable.

The homosexual man asked as a final question, why he, Anderson didn't think that he, the gay man, had the right to get married.

Anderson concluded with this:
It's not that you don't have a right to get married, it's that what you are seeking out, isn't marriage.


Mission: Peru

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

We just prayed over and sent our 12-member mission team off to Lima, Peru. May God bless their steps and carry their words on the wind of the Spirit. Lord, may You loosen their tongues so they boldly speak of the Savior. May angels minister to them, and smooth their way. Prepare divine appointments and receptive hearts. May You keep them in Your hand as they go out and share the Gospel to the ends of the world.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Historic Centre of Lima, Peru. Wiki CC. Photo by Martin St-Amant



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Scripture photo: drink offering


Easton's Bible Dictionary: Drink Offering
Consisted of wine (Numbers 15:5; Hosea 9:4) poured around the altar (Exodus 30:9). Joined with meat-offerings (Numbers 6:15, 17; 2 Kings 16:13; Joel 1:9, 13; 2:14), presented daily (Exodus 29:40), on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9), and on feast-days (28:14). One-fourth of an hin of wine was required for one lamb, one-third for a ram, and one-half for a bullock (Numbers 15:5; 28:7, 14). "Drink offerings of blood" (Psalm 16:4) is used in allusion to the heathen practice of mingling the blood of animals sacrificed with wine or water, and pouring out the mixture in the worship of the gods, and the idea conveyed is that the psalmist would not partake of the abominations of the heathen.
What is a drink offering?
Answer: The first recorded occurrence of a drink offering was that given by Jacob in Genesis 35:14, right after God changed his name to Israel. Drink offerings were also included with burnt and grain offerings in God-ordained sacrifices, including the morning and evening sacrifices of Exodus 29:40.

One-quarter hin, about one quart, of wine was poured out into the altar fire for each lamb sacrificed (Numbers 15:4-5). A ram sacrifice required one third of a hin (Numbers 15:6), and a bull required one half (Numbers 15:10).  It has been speculated that the offering of an animal, grain, oil, and wine—the smoke making a “soothing aroma to the LORD”—is a metaphor for providing food for God, an important cultural requirement in the Middle East. What we do know is that the pouring out of a drink offering is a metaphor for the blood Jesus spilled on the cross. Jesus spoke to this directly in Luke 22:20 when He instituted the New Covenant. He picked up a cup of wine and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the need of a drink offering, His blood literally pouring out when the soldier pierced His side with a spear (John 19:33).

Paul took the metaphor further, twice using the image of a drink offering to describe his own service. In Philippians 2:17, he challenged the church in Philippi to live a life worthy of his dedication to them. In 2 Timothy 4:6, he sensed the end of his ministry, again comparing his efforts to wine poured out of a vessel onto an altar. 





Saturday, July 26, 2014

River in China runs blood red

In 2012 there was a spate of bodies of water turning blood red, and interest in the phenomenon was high.

February 2012: Beirut River runs red.  (a factory had illegally dumped red dye.)

August 2012: A lake in France turned red. ("Scientists say the blood red lakes in southern France are actually a natural phenomenon. Camargue, France is a river delta where the Rh├┤ne meets the sea. The picturesque area is home to numerous salt flats, and it is this concentration of salt that will occasionally stain red the region's normally blue water.")

September 2012: Yangze River in China runs red ("officials have no idea why, or officials say it may have been caused by recent floods stirring up silt upstream. The Environmental Protection Bureau is also looking into potential industrial pollution or sewage breaches.")

The other day a river in China turned red and interest is again high. I can only guess this is because Revelation says that rivers shall run with blood.

The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. (Revelation 16:4).
Source

River In China Mysteriously Turns Bloody Red Overnight
Residents in Zhejiang province said the river looked normal at 5 a.m. Beijing time on Thursday morning. Within an hour, the entire river turned crimson. Residents also said a strange smell wafted through the air. ... Inspectors from the Wenzhou Environmental Protection Bureau said they have not found the cause of the incident, although water samples seem to indicate the suspicious color was a result of illegal dumping in the river....  “We suspect that somebody dumped artificial coloring in the water because he thought the typhoon yesterday would cause heavy rain, and nobody would notice [the color],” Jianfeng Xiao, Chief of the bureau told China News.  “It turned out there wasn’t heavy rainfall yesterday, so the evidence is left behind,” Xiao said.  Xiao said there is a paper manufacturer, a food coloring company and clothing-maker a long the river.

Cases like these are usually due to illegal dumping.

But whenever something like this happens, hits on the blog go way up. On the one hand, I'm glad that people are so interested in prophecy! The bible speaks of future things almost a third of the time.
Fully 17 of the Old Testament's 39 books are classified as prophetic: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. All of the other 22 books are also filled with prophecy. Source
It's a significant topic and one that is definitely worthy of study and attention. On the other hand though, too many people are willing to proclaim it a sign, and overlook the obvious.

For example, a river turning red is NOT a fulfillment of Revelation 16:4, because we have not been in the Tribulation for ten chapters. We are not in the Tribulation now, and none of the other signs have happened.

Even in Revelation 8:10 which prophesies a third of the rivers on earth turning to blood, happen because of a star falling from heaven.

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. (Revelation 8:10)

And at that time, also a third of the seas will turn to blood as well. One cannot pick and choose which prophesies are fulfilled. Either it happens the way the bible says, or it is not a prophecy. It's some food coloring manufacturer dumping dye.

Secondly when it does happen, a third of all the earth's rivers will turn to blood. And the verse says what it says, the waters will become blood. Not salt making it look like blood, not illegally dumped dye, not silt from a typhoon, but actual blood.

I'm so grateful that people become so interested in biblical prophecy when these strange things happen. I'm personally fascinated with the sky sounds of the apocalypse, myself. Others are fascinated with the large bird and fish die-offs that had occurred a few years ago. Yet it's our responsibility to rightly teach how to study prophecy, and not become hand-wringing, pickers and chooser bell ringers when they happen.

The most important thing is to always point to the certainty and safety of life in Christ. Once we repent and are justified by faith in Jesus as Resurrected Savior, He will always hold us in His hand. We become legal heirs and sons of God. Our life changes from one of despair to one of hope and joy. Our future is also spoken of. It does not include rivers running with blood or fish die-offs or starvation or other prophetic wrathful things. Our future is one of hopeful prophecy, like this:

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:6-12)

Or this prophecy:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ (Revelation 23:7)

Or this:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

So when you come across someone who is interested in a strange phenomena, and connects it with bits of prophecy they have heard, teach them the true prophecy from the bible, show them why it can't be happening now. Connect their interest in prophecy with Jesus and His Gospel. It is one reason He gave us prophecy, to warn of judgements to come for the ungodly- and ultimately to educate about the One who spoke it, Jesus Christ.


Common ground with false teachers doesn't exist

These are brief excerpts from a tremendous sermon by John MacArthur in 2012 called


Creative Commons, source
And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. (Jeremiah 14:14-15)

Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.'" ...“I did not send the prophets, (Jeremiah 23:16-17, 21)
John MacArthur: You think that’s gone away? That hasn’t gone away.
False teachers are described graphically in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament like this:
The description of them goes like this, “They are leaven. They are whited tombs, whited walls, graves concealed, broken pots covered with silver, tares, wolves in sheep’s clothing, wells without water, they are presumptuous, natural brute beasts to be taken and destroyed, they are filth spots and scabs, immoral, covetous, cursed children, clouds in a tempest to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever, deluded dreamers who defile the flesh, spots on your love feasts, clouds without water, trees without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, raging waves of the sea foaming out their own shame, wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness. They are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts, their mouths speaking great swelling words, cloaks over sin, sensual and without the Holy Spirit.” (source)
That’s a sad state. That’s counterfeit religious authority. Why would you be looking for common ground with them?
 The answer is obvious. Common ground with false teachers doesn't exist.
Clerical collar on a table in a pub. CC. Source
Listen to the entire sermon. It's good.