Friday, April 24, 2015

If Hebrews that says it's appointed for men to die once, and some have died twice and others have never died, is there an inconsistency in the bible?

Does the Hebrews 9:27 verse present an inconsistency in the bible?

The short answer is “no.” There are no inconsistencies in the Bible. There are some things that we can’t reconcile without further study, but they can be reconciled. Seeming differences between the Gospels, for example. Did Peter cut off the soldier’s ear or not cut off the soldier’s ear? Was Jesus in the tomb three days or two days? Was Jesus hung on a tree or a cross? Did Judas die by hanging or falling? These are trivial issues and are easily reconciled by any thinking person with a bit of study.

There are other seeming inconsistencies we can never reconcile, but God has reconciled them in His mind. The Trinity / God is One, and the Doctrine of Election / Man’s responsibility for Sin are two that God has settled in His mind in his category. God’s word is perfect and a Bible believing person will always trust it to be true. He will allow his mind to be malleable while studying and praying over any questions he or she may have, and then allow the Spirit to take the lead in answering. God has promised good gifts (Matthew 7:11), and asking the Spirit to help you understand God’s word better is something He delights in doing. (John 1:9, Ephesians 1:18).

Hebrews 9:27 says, And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

I did some research because I always wondered about that verse. We cannot take it literally, since there have been exceptions to it already. So what can it mean? Allow me to share with you some thoughts. This essay is not just about the Hebrews verse, but as a template of showing you how to think about the Bible, if I may be so bold.

First we think. We take it slow and we think. (Psalm 19:15).

This verse about dying once is a perplexing verse. Why? We know that Enoch never has died.

Hebrews 11:5- By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

We know that Elijah has never died-

2 Kings 2:11. And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

We know that millions of people who are raptured alive will never die-

1 Thessalonians 4:17 says “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Alternately, we know that many have died twice. There are people in the bible who have died and have been resurrected. (And who never wrote a book about their trip to heaven, by the way). There is nothing that indicates the group of individuals who were given life a second time did not also fall into death a second time. The scriptures don’t say they were translated. The scriptures don’t say they didn’t die a second time.

Between the Hebrews verse and the plain examples from scripture of people who never died and people who have died twice, it seems that there is a contradiction. Yet that’s impossible since there can be no contradictions in the bible! So the verse can’t be an absolute.

If the Hebrews verse is NOT an absolute, it must be a general rule with obvious exceptions. The exceptions exist and are obvious.

The Berean Call magazine explains this:
Hebrews 9:27 says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." "Men" is generic, speaking of all mankind. That the Lord, of His own will and sovereign choice, has, on occasion, brought back to life individuals (temporarily) does not affect this general ruling. Both Elijah and Elisha raised individuals from the dead by the power of God. Jesus raised a number of people from the dead. Again, these exceptions did not change the ruling under which humanity lives (and dies), as Hebrews 9:27 summarizes.

The fact that the Lord Jesus walked on water (Mt 14:26) or that Elisha made the head of an axe float (2 Ki 6:6) did not overturn the law of gravity. In short, we need to discern the plain meaning of the Scriptures.

In a John MacArthur Q&A he addressed this very question. I like how he re-stated it at the beginning, "The question he's asking is how can it be that the Hebrews 9:27 passage is all inclusive"
QUESTION: Okay, my name is Todd Draa and, let's see, in the Bible when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, I've been reading about that and then Hebrews 9:27, I saw that it said, "And inasmuch as it is appointed men to die once and after this comes judgment," how could we explain that because Lazarus was dead but then had been raised from the dead, so that would mean he would have to die a second time?

JOHN: Yes, good question, Todd. The question he's asking is how can it be that the Hebrews 9:27 passage is all inclusive, "It is appointed unto men once to die," if Lazarus in fact died twice? I'll ask you a question, Todd. What about Enoch? He didn't die at all. So you've got at least one person who never died at all, and you've got Lazarus who died twice and you have not only Lazarus but a lot of other folks who died twice. In fact, anyone who was ever raised from the dead died twice. When Jesus died on the cross, it says the graves were opened and all kinds of Old Testament saints came back to life, so they had to die twice.

Then you have the people that Jesus raised, the son of...the daughter of Jairus and the son of the widow of Nain, you have the ones who were raised by Elijah the prophet from the dead. All of those people died twice. Then you have to answer the question of what about the Rapture, a whole population of Christians aren't even going to die once. They're going to be raptured to heaven.

So what we assume then from all of that biblical data is that the statement of Hebrews 9:27 is a general statement to which there are by God's design certain exceptions. And we need not fear that. It's still true that it is appointed unto men once to die. That is the norm...men die. It is extremely unusual when they don't die. And we can count on death. In fact, in history you can count the history that didn't die by just counting Enoch and maybe Elijah was translated in a whirlwind, but there are less than a handful...out of the millions and millions that have died. And of those who have died twice, that's also a very small group of people who were raised from the dead. And yet in the future there will be a whole group of Christians who will miss death because of the Rapture. We'd like to be in that group, wouldn't we? But we just know that the principle of Hebrews 9 is still true that men die and they die once and then they face God's judgment. So we take it as a general principle in that regard. Good question.

Perhaps that resolves it for you. Some bible questions bear more digging. Some seemingly unresolvable issues need patience as the Spirit works all the threads together to knit a fuller understanding in our mind. But there are no inconsistencies in the Bible. After all, scripture cannot be broken. (John 10:35).

At least now you have my thinking on how I interpret the Hebrews verse and how, when we are presented with a seeming inconsistency we can rely on the Spirit and the Bible for an explanation, commentaries for supplement, and each other as iron to sharpen our interpretive skills. Above all, the Bible is true in its whole and entirety. If we don’t understand something or if we differ in interpretation, the issue is with us, not the Lord!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stay strong true believers! We may be few in number but we have All Might behind us!

Does it feel like there are only a few obviously Christian believers at your local church? Does it feel like we puny humans are trying to stem the tide or heresy that is coming in a tsunami? It must have felt that way to the Ephesians, too.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” (Revelation 2:2-3).

The first century church at Ephesus was planted by Paul, who was its pastor. Ephesus was a cosmopolitan city, sophisticated and beautiful. It was at the terminus of several major thoroughfares, was located on a gulf for a healthy seafaring export-import trade, and was a major commercial center. Its population was approximately a quarter of a million people.


In addition to being a major commercial center it was also a major religious center. Though many gods were worshiped there in addition to the emperors of Rome, the temple of Artemis was the main attraction. The temple was three times the size of the Athenian Parthenon, and held 25,000 people. It was in Ephesus that the Sons of Sceva were overcome by devils whom the sons had tried to cast out, demonstrating clearly the difference between false idols and the true God. Here was where Paul’s two- year, three month church planting effort and teaching bore fruit when the new Christians burned their idols and books equivalent to 50,000 pieces of silver. It was here that the reaction to the encroachment of Christianity on a pagan culture sparked a two-hour riot at the temple of Artemis. (Acts 19:23-20:1).

The worshipers at the church at Ephesus must have felt hemmed in by heresy and surrounded by pagans, especially by the time the letter in Revelation was sent, a generation later. It was a letter sent to a struggling church, weary of being the bulwark against sin and heresy.

But remember Elijah who thought he was the last believer left. The LORD said 'I have reserved yet 7,000 who believe'. (1 Kings 19:18). We are not alone! We might be tiny in number in one location but the Body is large, and thriving.

Also, in the latter days, there will be terrible times, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. There are many warnings regarding the latter days about people following myths, man-made schemes, building fortresses of their own philosophies! (1 Timothy 1:4, 2 Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:14). He said it would happen and it is happening. We take comfort in even the seemingly 'bad' events because if His word is true for the bad then it is all the more so for the good! His word is true and He knows who are His and He knows whom to call to account.

We do not have to worry about results. We only have to proclaim. As the LORD said to Ezekiel in Ez 2:3-5

"I am sending you to the Israelites and the rebellious nations who have rebelled against me. The Israelites and their ancestors have transgressed against Me to this day. Their children are obstinate and hard-hearted. I am sending you to them, and you must say to them: this is what the LORD God says. Whether they listen or refuse to listen- for they are a rebellious house- they will know that a prophet has been among them."

We are not prophets nor is the church Israel, but we take the point, in speaking the truth no matter the outcome the LORD is glorified because while some will repent when we speak His word, others who refuse, when they stand before Him trying to defend their actions, He will say 'I sent you ministers and lay people to speak the truth and you refused to listen.' They will know they have no excuse.

Just as He knew each Ephesian and who had not grown weary in the biblical day, in our day the Lord Jesus as Head of our church knows and sees the hearts of those who cannot tolerate evil and those who persist in the doing of good. We must not lose our love for Him, for each other, for the wayward ones, and for the work. We are in a battle, but the victory is His. I praise Him for this opportunity to speak the truth in love, speak His words and stand on His name.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

America's decay is speeding up, and more links to edifying essays

Here are some interesting links for you.

I don't think anyone would disagree with this first article-

America's Decay is Speeding Up
As one who loves America -- not only because I am American, but even more so because I know (not believe, know) that the American experiment in forming a decent society has been the most successful in history -- I write the following words in sadness: With few exceptions, every aspect of American life is in decline. "Decay" is the word.
Yup.

I'm not a huge fan of the magazine below but this article is good-

7 Unbiblical Statements Christians Believe
We don’t often stop to consider the magnitude of what the Bible represents. It is literally God revealing Himself and communicating Himself to mankind in written word. Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Bible was inspired and authored by the Holy Spirit of God using human instruments. And many Christians believe that—in its original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic—it is without error and fault. However, there are many things that Jesus-following, Church-going, Bible-believing Christians believe that are completely unbiblical. How does this happen? Often, we’ll hear someone quote a statement that sounds nice to us, and we’ll begin repeating it as though it’s biblical truth without ever researching it in Scripture.
You're a theologian, OK?

3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Allowed to Be Theologically Dumb
The Christian cannot be a passive theologian who has idle thoughts about God here and there. Christians are called to be active theologians who are constantly trying to learn more about the God we worship.   ...  It’s about time Millennial evangelicals start loving the God who created them more than a god they’ve created.
I love Dr Robin Schumacher's articles. His blog at The Christian Post is titled The Confident Christian-

Predestination and God’s Sovereign Choice
Dan Delzell’s Christianpost article, Predestination and God's Desire to Save Everyone, reminded me of a statement made by theologian Loraine Boettner in his classic book on predestination: “The doctrine of Predestination has been made the subject of almost endless discussion, much of which, it must be admitted, was for the purpose of softening its outlines or of explaining it away.”[1]  I mean no disrespect at all to Mr. Delzell when I say that, only that his article – written from the Arminian point of view – is definitely something crafted to take the punch and sting out of what I believe the Biblical doctrine of predestination truly means.
Ugh, it sickens me to see what is being sold in Jesus' name-

The Marketing And Exploitation Of The Cross: Commercializing Christianity
The gospel in America has been hijacked, replaced with another gospel, a gospel of greed. When news broke regarding Creflo Dollar’s plea for Christians (namely those who follow him) to donate to the purchase of a 65-million dollar jet, it not only raised eyebrows, it settled within the hearts and minds of the faith’s leading accusers that Christianity has become nothing but an ends to gaining great wealth at the expense of its followers. And they would be right, to a degree.

Re-posting a testimony, but deliberately deleting references to Jesus-

His Absence Changes Everything
... I battled against that bottle for hours - finally flinging it aside, not from a place of faith that things would get better in life, but from one of fear that I would fail in my attempt and find myself in even worse straits than the current moment contained.
Moms...

These Aren’t The Best Years of Your Life
A friend with a stroller was walking through town when an older woman stopped her to see the baby. After admiring her, the granny said, “These are the best years of your life; too bad you’re too tired to enjoy them!” Mothers with small children often hear this–at least the first part.

Truth in the church is so yesterday-

Contend Mondays: Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies
As I’ve mentioned, not only is the world a mission field, but the visible church is as well. The battle is for truth through rightly divided scripture and sound doctrine. If you’ve tried to correct a brother or sister in Christ, you are familiar with the desire to set them free from lies. ... Exposing error seems to have no place in the church these days despite what scripture says (Ephesians 5:11).


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The precision of prophecy

The lord God is great. His Son Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us, is great. His Spirit is great. I praise Him and all His ways!

He set for a plan since before the foundation of the world. He is the architect of history. He elects people to salvation according to His plan, in the fulness of time He sent His Son, (Galatians 4:4) and now He is drawing to a close this era of history as we or the next generation prepares to go through the next phase of His perfect prophetic plan.



In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:11)

We all know the marvelousness of the Scriptures being fulfilled in Jesus. For example, He was praised as He entered the holy city on a colt. (Mark 11:3, Zechariah 9:9). We know the precise amount Judas was paid to betray Jesus, for that was prophesied (Zechariah 11:12). We know the scriptures were fulfilled when Jesus cried out, "I thirst". (John 19:28).

And many more.

I particularly enjoy these following two prophecies. They have not been fulfilled yet, but they will be.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, (Romans 11:25, NIV)

Other translations say the "fullness of the Gentiles". The word fullness according to Strong's is from the Greek plḗrōma meaning "sum total".

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9-11)

Again, the Greek word is from pleroo, meaning fulfilled or completed.

Since before the universe was even created, the LORD our God had a perfect number in mind of those who will fulfill the number or quota of people who will be part of His Bride, the church (Romans 11:25). And He also had a perfect number in mind of the number of Tribulation saints who will be martyred. Nothing is out of control with God. He isn't looking down and thinking, "Yah, the church looks big enough, let's cut it off here." Or He is not looking down at the people being beheaded during the Tribulation and saying "Whoo, we better put a stop to this." Nothing is a surprise to Him because He planned it down to the very last inch...the very last dust mote...even down to the last person.

The Church will be full when His number is reached. Only He knows what that number is. For the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Not only because He loves His children but because He knows the certain, exact, precise number of martyrs He will allow. When that number is reached, He will return and end it at Armageddon.

Isn't it wonderful to know that He has everything so meticulously mapped out? Not that it absolves us of doing our duty, of working diligently among the brethren and for the lost, and studying His word. But whatever happens, He is in control, and so precisely, that when the 5 billionth, 3 hundred millionth, 6 hundred thousandth, and third person is saved, (or whatever His number is) we will be raptured. He knows what the number is, who will fulfill that number and when that number will be reached. He is worthy to be worshiped! His mind, His plan, and His ability to manage all things in heaven and earth makes Him worthy.

Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'" (Isaiah 44:7-8)


Monday, April 20, 2015

Thoughts on Economic Collapse and Tribulation economy

Someone asked me about the economy in the Tribulation, and wondered if the global and American economy will collapse prior to the Tribulation or not.

It's speculation, because the Bible doesn't specifically say how we will get from here to there, only what will be. I do like to be aware of what the bible says about the seemingly near event on the prophetic timeline, the 7 years of Tribulation. (The rapture is the very next event. I also enjoy thinking about the Millennium which will occur after the Tribulation such as the peaceable kingdom, and the temple and the King's Highway, and New Jerusalem, etc).

As for the economy, it's an interesting question because the Bible prophesies that during the Tribulation, the antichrist's right hand man, the False Prophet, will enforce a mark on people. The mark is one of worship. No one will be fooled, they will know it is a mark of allegiance to and worship of the Beast. (Revelation 14:9). The enticement to take the mark is that one may then participate in the economy, buying and selling. If one refuses the mark, they may not buy or sell. (Revelation 13:16-17). Further, they will be identified as an enemy of the state and be killed (Revelation 6:9-11, Matthew 24:9).

It's an interesting question, isn't it, about financial collapse. The collapse of '07-'08 was incredible, and the subsequent years even more so. I had read a Christian economist who said recently that with the derivatives bubble, college loan bubble, fiat currency and massive outstanding debt, it is OBVIOUS that America, and most nations in fact, are being held up by the supernatural power of God. Nothing in traditional economics makes sense enough to explain how we are going on as we are for so long.

As for the Tribulation economy, that's interesting too. There IS an economy during the Tribulation. The global economy does not collapse until Revelation 18. Or, at least, it might have partially collapsed prior to then and been rebuilt according to Antichrist specs, with a one world economy and mark of the beast currency. Yes, Revelation 6:6 shows that currency is so inflated that it costs a day's wage to buy one loaf of bread. But Rev 18 shows a highly advanced trade in luxuries. I believe this shows that the wealth gap will widen so much that many poor starve to death and the love of the rich grows cold in not caring. If Jesus emphasized compassion on the poor and generosity toward same in both the OT and the NT to the degree He did, the antichrist will emphasize the opposite. So there will be an economy, it just won't look like it does now.

As a brief rabbit trail, you might already know that the sex trafficking and slave trade is growing all across the world. Poverty adds to this sad fact. Many daughters are being sold because people are so poor they cannot afford to feed kids. In Greece a few years ago when their economy nearly failed (before the EU bailout) the problem of abandoned kids was huge. You note in Rev 18:13 one of the luxuries being traded will be slaves. I believe that when the poor become utterly destitute in the Tribulation economy, slavery will blossom massively and that will be the reason why. No food, and in order to get money, they will sell anyone, even their mother. After all, love will wax cold. (Mt 24:12)

I read a prophecy minister's essay once who thinks that it will be the event of the rapture itself that will trigger the collapse. The sudden removal of thousands or millions of Christians from the economy will certainly put a dent in it. However I'm not so sure the rapture will collapse it completely. Jesus said the way was narrow and few find it. I think there are way fewer Christians who will be taken in the rapture than people think. I think the loss of workers will dent the economy, maybe enough to re-structure it, but not collapse totally. After all, the antichrist only has 7 years, 3.5 actually, to make the Mark of the Beast economy prophesied in Revelation 13:16-17 come about and healthy enough to see such massive collapse as we do in Rev 18. He has to have something to work with to begin with in order to revive the economy.

And think on this, right now gargantuan amounts of money go toward social programs to help the sick, the poor, the disadvantaged. When the Christians are removed, and the Spirit withdraws His restraining ministry, (2 Thessalonians 2:7) then compassion, generosity, and love will cease (2 Timothy 3:1-5). All that money being poured into cancer research and orphanages and welfare and social justice programs will be re-diverted. There will be no compassion, (Matthew 24:12) therefore no money needed to help anyone at any time through any compassion program. It will be the end of philanthropy, effectively freeing up trillions of dollars.

It has been interesting (but sad) to see the drought bloom in CA, and all the while we in GA received 5-6 inches of rain this week alone. Drought has a slow-moving but ultimately devastating impact to economies. CA's economy is the largest in the US, much of it from agriculture. Personally I think it will be drought that does us in here in America.

You remember the American Dustbowl here in the US during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It sparked one of the most massive internal migrations we have ever experienced in the US
Historians have since clarified some of the dimensions of the misnamed migration. Numbers are elusive but it is safe to say that 300-400,000 Oklahomans, Texans, Arkansans, and Missourians moved to California and settled there during the 1930s. This would have been a significant population transfer in any era but was particularly momentous in the context of the depression when internal migration rates for other parts of the country were low and when high unemployment made any kind of relocation risky. (Source)
Look at this interesting article about drought's economic impact.
Drought produces a complex web of impacts that spans many sectors of the economy and reaches well beyond the area experiencing physical drought. This complexity exists because water is integral to society's ability to produce goods and provide services. Impacts are commonly referred to as direct and indirect. Direct impacts include reduced crop, rangeland, and forest productivity, increased fire hazard, reduced water levels, increased livestock and wildlife mortality rates, and damage to wildlife and fish habitat. The consequences of these direct impacts illustrate indirect impacts. For example, a reduction in crop, rangeland, and forest productivity may result in reduced income for farmers and agribusiness, increased prices for food and timber, unemployment, reduced tax revenues because of reduced expenditures, foreclosures on bank loans to farmers and businesses, migration, and disaster relief programs.
In short, the entire economic situation is a myriad of intertwined causes and effects. They go back a long time and they are set in motion through the sovereignty of the Lord. It brings praise for the Lord to mind when I realize how precise He is to have developed all these events together to draw us ever closer to the Tribulation hour. He raises up kings and sets them down. He raises up nations and strikes them down. He thrives economies and He impoverishes them. He will perform what He has decreed.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  (James 5:1-5)

The only economy is the one in Jesus: repentance, faith, belief, and being doers of the word. This economy will always thrive, never become impoverished, and sustain itself at the magnificent Hand of God.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Locusts and bees and flies, oh my! Insects in the Bible

It's spring, and that means birds are back, yay! It unfortunately also means bug season.

I walked around the yard and over to the pasture and I pass wasps busily building nests, carpenter bees buzzing, bumble bees in the wildflowers, fleas trying to get on my cats, flies, and moths circling the spotlight.

When I came back inside, I settled down to Facebook to see what was what and who was who. People like to post photos with quotes on them. Often, far too often, the quote is from someone who is a false teacher or at least, on the path and is currently not highly trustworthy. I've often wondered how far to go in adding my 2¢.

Today I made three comments regarding the Truth, which were not totally affirming of the posted quote but offered an alternate view. I thought of the term "gadfly." According to Wikipedia,
A gadfly is a person who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions.

The term "gadfly" was used by Plato in the Apology to describe Socrates's relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse.During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato's writings, pointed out that dissent, like the gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high. "If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me," because his role was that of a gadfly, "to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth."
I don't see my role as that, to purposely whip people into a fury, but often in employing the gift of discernment the results evidenced are emotions that range from irritation to fury. Sometimes people are stung when you offer that their favorite teacher is really a false teacher, or their pet doctrine is unbiblical, or their method isn't aligned with what the bible says. Some examples of gadfly questions or statements might be:
  • Are you sure you want to continue doing altar calls?
  • Did you know that Billy Graham preached a different Gospel?
  • Is Beth Moore the best curriculum we can find or are there others that would be more biblical?
  • I don't think free will means what you think it means
  • Is it possible that LifeWay has become untrustworthy and sells things with heretical doctrine in them?
The thought about gadflies brought me to a biblical reference about gadflies in Jeremiah 46:20.

"Egypt is a beautiful heifer, but a gadfly is coming against her from the north." (NIV)

Yes, the gadfly cometh. LOL. I got to thinking about animals in the Bible in general. We think of leviathan, or the great fish that swallowed Jonah, or the bears that tore up the mocking boys, or the lions that David fought, but what of lowly insects?

Locust


The bible mentions them frequently. Some of the plagues God put on Pharaoh and his people were insects. The Plague of Gnats, the Plague of Flies (Exodus 8), the Plague of Locusts (Exodus 10).

John the Baptist ate wild honey and locusts in the desert. (Matthew 3:4). God even likened Himself to a moth once. (Hosea 5:12). But what of other insects in the Bible?
INSECTS: we find at least 23 names of insects or words referring to them: ant, bald locust, bee, beetle, cankerworm, caterpillar, creeping thing, cricket, crimson, flea, fly, gnat, grasshopper, honey, hornet, locust, louse, (lice), moth, palmer-worm, sandfly, scarlet-worm, silk-worm.

These can be referred to about 12 insects, which, arranged systematically, are:
Hymenoptera, ant, bee, hornet;
Siphonaplera, flea;
Diplera, fly;
Rhynchota, louse, scarlet-worm;
Orthoptera, several kinds of grasshoppers and locusts.

The word “worm” refers not only to the scarlet-worm, but to various larvae of Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, and Diptera. “Creeping things” refers indefinitely to insects, reptiles, and beasts. In the list of 23 names given above honey and bee refer to one insect, as do crimson and scarlet. Sandfly has no place if “lice” be retained in Ex 8:16 ff. Bald locust, beetle, canker-worm, cricket, and palmer-worm probably all denote various kinds of grasshoppers and locusts.

The Eng. language seems to lack appropriate names for different kinds of grasshoppers and locusts, and it is difficult to suggest any names to take the places of those against which these criticisms are directed. See under the names of the respective insects.

See also SCORPION and SPIDER, which are not included here because they are not strictly insects.

Source: Day, A. E. (1915). Insects. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 1473). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

In 1915, swarms of locusts devastated Palestine. An American Colony photographer took this picture of a fig tree that the locusts had stripped bare. The picture starkly illustrates the kind of damage these insects would have inflicted during the locust plague in Egypt and in the other instances that the Bible mentions of locust swarms. ‎Exod 10:4–19, Deut 28:38, Joel 1:4, Joel 2:25, Amos 7:1, Rev 9:3–7
‎Image by Matson Photo Service, from Library of Congress. License: Public Domain

The Bitterness of Pharaoh

God used insects as the dividing line to show Pharaoh Who is in charge of creation.
‎After the third and fourth plagues there could no longer be any doubt as to the power of Moses, and very little doubt as to his divine authority. When the plague of lice came, Pharaoh’s magicians tried to imitate it and failed, and they confessed to him that they believed that Moses had the power of a god. In the plague of flies, Moses for the first time drew a dividing line: the flies did not come into the houses of the Israelites; they pestered only the Egyptians.

‎Strangely indeed must Pharaoh have felt his position. He, the absolute monarch who had always had his way in everything and been all powerful, who was called a god by his people, he was now told by his own learned men that there was another more powerful than he, that there was a real God acting against him, and that he must yield. The Bible and its Story, Volume 2: The Law, Leviticus to Deuteronomy, Horne, Charles, Bewer, Julius

In Isaiah 7:18 we read,

In that day the LORD will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

Flies were a serious problem.
As the plague is represented as filling the houses of the Egyptians, it is likely that the house-flies (Muscidae) are intended. In the warm climate of Egypt these insects are an annoyance that can hardly be overstated. The manner in which they assemble in dense clouds at such a sun-trap as Akaba, for instance, is almost inconceivable, and the irritation they produce is heightened by the knowledge that they are capable of carrying an infectious sort of ophthalmia, which is a prevalent disorder amongst the Bedouins, from person to person. Owing to the softness of the skin in the warm climate, the house-fly of Egypt is soon able to effect a penetration in tender parts, such as the corner of the eyes, and the vulnerable point speedily becomes a throbbing mass of these abominable insects, who are thus enabled to suck the blood and produce festering sores.
The other term translated by the word fly is zebub. It occurs in Eccles. 10:1, ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour;’ and here the term is probably generically used for the swarms of flies, which speedily cause corruption and pollution in anything capable of being attacked by them in the East. The ointments spoken of are perfumed unguents and cosmetics, so largely used in these countries.
The second passage where zebub occurs is in Isa. 7:18, ‘the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.’ [See under BEE.] This word zebub has been identified with the modern Arabic ḍebab, which is a name given to a species of gad-fly. A species of Tabanus, or ‘breeze fly,’ is stated to be common in the valleys of the Jordan and the Nile, and is very injurious to animals. To this genus our ‘horse-flies’ or ‘clegs’ belong, which are armed with an arrangement of lancets enabling them to make a clean incision for the purpose of blood-sucking.
Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (pp. 100–101). London: The Religious Tract Society.

God is amazing as Creator. Everything He created was very good. (Genesis 1:31). Insects didn't bite, suck blood, cause disease, or pollute the food and ointments (Ecc 10:1). Yet sin entered the world and the ground was cursed and creation was polluted with thorns and sweat and blood and death. Yet even then, God uses insects to carry out His will and He uses them in general as symbols of His might and His plan. Insects individually might be lowly, but when God uses them, they are mighty!

A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, (Psalm 24:1)


I hope you have enjoyed this short survey of insects in the Bible.

Here are some photos of the insects I have met in my yard...

Bee. EPrata photo

Fire ants. EPrata photo

Fly. EPrata photo

Wasp. EPrata photo