Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Paul vs Luke

The apostle Paul said in Galatians 1:20, "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not." So, who said Paul was lying about the things he said in Galatians 1? The writer of the Acts (supposedly Luke) did.

Luke said that Paul was struck blind and led about by hand and was taught the things he must do and was baptized by the disciples at Damascus (Acts 9: 18-19).

Paul said nothing about being struck blind but that he received a revelation from God and Jesus Christ and that he conferred not with flesh and blood but went into Arabia and returned to Damascus (Gal. 1:11-17).

Luke said that Paul went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples but they were afraid of him and that Barnabus brought Paul before the apostles. Then Paul was with them (the disciples) going in and coming out at Jerusalem  (Acts 9:26-28).

Paul said that he went to Jerusalem after 3 years of preaching his gospel and went to see Peter and stayed with him for 15 days and didn't see any of the other apostles except James. (Gal. 1:18-19).

Luke said that Paul was summoned to Jerusalem about the circumcision dispute and went preaching his gospel to all and then went into private conference with the apostles (Acts 15: 1-5).

Paul said that he went up to Jerusalem by revelation and spoke to the apostles privately (Gal. 2:1-2).

Luke says that the apostles added three things to Paul's gentile converts and instructed that they could learn the rest of the law of Moses by attending the synagogues in every city (Acts 15:19-21).

Paul said that "they added nothing to me" (Gal. 2: 6).

Luke said that Paul was in subjection to the other apostles (Acts 15) Paul said he wasn't (Gal. 2). But, remember that Paul said, "before God, I lie not". No doubt, somebody was lying...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mystery Babylon

There is a key to understanding the book of Revelation and that key is the first verse of the book "things which must shortly come to pass" over 1900 years ago. Once someone understands that "Mystery Babylon" is Jerusalem, the rest is easy.

1 - Mystery Babylon is continually called the "great city" (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10,16,18,19) as is Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8)

2 - It is described as receiving God's wrath (Revelation 14:8,19; 16:19) as is Jerusalem (Matthew 22:7; 23:37,38; Mark 12:9; Luke 13:34,35; 19:27,41-44; 20:16; 21:20; 23:28-31; Acts 6:14; 7:51,52; Galatians 4:21-31; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

3 - It is said to be fornicating (Revelation 14:8; 17:2) as is Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8. In the OT when Babylon was about to be used by God to judge Jerusalem, Jerusalem is said to be fornicating also (Ezek. 16:28, 30) (Jer. 3:1, 6,8.

4 - It is said that outside the city blood flowed for 1600 furlongs (200 miles) (Revelation 14:20), this is the north-south length of the land of Judea. Also, Josephus speaks of rivers of blood where dead bodies were washing up because they were slaughtered by the Romans and remained unburied. He also relates of the blood flow actually putting out fires in houses.

5 - Great hail weighing one talent is said to fall upon men there (Revelation 16:21). Josephus tells of the Roman catapults being used to cast whitewashed boulders over the walls of Jerusalem and they each weighed one talent.

6 - It is described as the great whore (Revelation 17:2), which is fitting for apostate Jerusalem being estranged from God. Again, in the OT, when Babylon was to judge Jerusalem, the prophet Ezekiel and Jeremiah call Jerusalem a harlot, a whore and a whorish woman (Ezek. 16:28, 30) (Jer. 3:1, 6, 8.

7 - It is described as being adorned in OT priestly apparel (Revelation 17:4, 5; 18:16) which is fitting for apostate Jerusalem having a form of godliness but being far from God. Even on the forehead is written "Mother of harlots . . ." just like "Holiness to the Lord" is written on the foreheads of the OT priesthood (Exodus 28:36-38).

8 - It is clearly not literal Babylon, as it is called a "mystery" (Revelation 17:5).

9 - It is being held responsible for the "blood of the saints" and the "blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Revelation 17:6; 18:24) just as Jerusalem was (Matthew 23:29-39; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, see references in #2 above also).

10 - It can be shown that the NT constantly contrasts two Jerusalems:

10a - Heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22) VS Earthly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:21-31).

10b - The city with foundations (Hebrews 11:10) VS the "no continuing" city (Hebrews 13:14)

10c - The city whose builder is God (Hebrews 11:10) VS the city whose builder is man (Galatians 4:21-31)

10d - The Jerusalem to come (Hebrews 13:14) VS the Jerusalem that "now is" (in Paul's day, Galatians 4:25)

10e - The Jerusalem that is above (Galatians 4:26) VS the Jerusalem that is below (Galatians 4:21-31)

10f - The Jerusalem that is free (Galatians 4:26) VS the Jerusalem that is in bondage (Galatians 4:25)

I believe I can carry this contrast on into Revelation and establish the following additional ones:

10g - The Holy City (Revelation 21:2; 22:19) VS the Wicked City (Revelation 17-18)

10h - The Bride (Revelation 21:9; 22:17) VS the Harlot (Revelation 17:15,16)

10i - New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2) VS Old Earthly Jerusalem.

11 - It is said to make war with the Lamb (Revelation 17:14) as is Jerusalem (see references in #2 above) and the first-century Jews (Almost every chapter in the book of Acts!). When Saul of Tarsus persecuted the Christians, Jesus said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (Acts 9:4).

12 - The beast hates her, makes her desolate and naked, eats her flesh and burns her with fire (Revelation 17:16), which is exactly what the Romans did to Jerusalem.

13 - The saints abiding in Babylon were told to escape (Revelation 18:4) as were the saints abiding in Jerusalem at the time of the Roman siege (Luke 21:20-22).

14 - It claims it is not a "widow" (Revelation 18:7), but if it is Jerusalem then it is fitting to be called a widow for she killed her own husband (Jesus).

15 - In its judgment it experiences death, mourning, famine and being burned with fire (Revelation 18:8 which is very descriptive of what happens in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

16 - Her judgment is an act of God's vengeance (Revelation 18:20) as is Jerusalem's (Luke 21:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 10:28-31).

17 - Jerusalem is fittingly called "spiritually . . . Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8 and in the same passage called "the great city" (see #1 above). Sodom was destroyed for fornication, Babylon in Revelation is destroyed for fornication, and Jerusalem was destroyed for spiritual fornication. Egypt was destroyed for holding Israel in bondage, Babylon is destroyed for persecuting the saints and holding them in bondage, Jerusalem was destroyed for persecuting the saints and holding them in spiritual bondage.

18 - The "voice of the bridegroom" and of the "bride" was to be heard no more in her (Revelation 18:23) and these terms are associated with Jesus and the church (John 3:29). Since Jesus told His church to depart from Jerusalem (Revelation 18:4), then the bride was removed and thus the voice of the bridegroom was also removed.

19 - The seven mountains on which the woman, "Mystery Babylon" sits are the seven mountains of Judea on which Jerusalem sits as the capitol city: Mt. Acra, Mt. Gareb, Mt. Ophel, Mt. Moriah, Mt. Bezetha, Mt. Goath and Mt. Zion. Jerusalem is a city of seven mountains (Rev. 17:9).

20 - If Peter remained with the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:7), then he metaphorically calls it Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13.

Thus based on the above reasons I believe that the Babylon of Revelation is an apocalyptic style description of Jerusalem and its destruction in 70 AD and without understanding that, the rest of the book cannot be understood.

The Imminent Return of Christ

Many Christians expect the return of Christ at any time today and his return has been Imminent ever since the pre-millennialism movements circa 1830. William Miller of the Millerite movement had Jesus returning and the end of the present age date set as 1844. Since that time many dates have been set but, alas, no return and no thousand-year reign on the earth has begun.

The New Testament writers are clear about the "soon" return of Christ over 1,900 years ago. Read what they have to say:

When John the Baptist began to preach, he warned everybody to repent because the kingdom of heaven was near (Matt. 3:2). When the people and their leaders came out to see John, he emphatically told them that the Day of Judgment was not far away (Matt. 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-9, 16-17).

After John the Baptist had been imprisoned, Jesus continued to preach repentance. The reason was the same -- the time had come and the kingdom was near (Mark 1:14-15).

When Jesus sent out the Twelve to the people of Israel, they were instructed to preach that the kingdom was near. He warned them that they would be persecuted because of Him. However, Jesus assured them that they would not run out of cities to flee to before He returned (Matt. 10:5-7, 22-23).

When Jesus dined with the Pharisees, He told them that it would be their generation that would be held accountable for all the righteous blood that had been shed on the earth (Luke 11:37, 50-51).

Near the end of His ministry, Jesus told His disciples that if anyone from their adulterous and sinful generation were to deny Him, upon His coming in the Father's glory with the angels, He would reward each one of them for what they had done by also denying them. Then, He flatly stated that some of the disciples to whom He was speaking would not die before they saw Him coming in His kingdom (Matt. 16:27-28; Mark. 8:38-9:1).

When Jesus pronounced His seven woes upon the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, He again stated that their generation would be the one responsible for all the righteous blood that had been shed on the earth (Matt. 23:35-36).

In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus explained to His disciples that their generation would not pass away before it had witnessed the Apostasy, the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world, the end of the age, the desolation of their temple, the overthrow of their nation, the coming of the Son of Man, and the Day of Judgment. He told them that they needed to watch and pray so that they could escape all the things that were about to transpire (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36).

At His trial, Jesus told the High Priest that he would see the day when the Son of Man would be sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62).

Following His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus spoke to the apostle Peter about his own death. When Peter asked how the apostle John would die, Jesus implied that John might not die until He returned. Afterward, John wrote that some of the brothers believed Jesus had said that he would never die, but John countered by indicating that Jesus had only said that he might live until the Second Coming (John 21:18-23).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people that the fulfillment of the prophet Joel's words had come. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an undeniable sign that they were in the last days and that the manifestation of the Day of the Lord was not far away. Peter begged the people to save themselves from their corrupt generation. Some understood the urgency of Peter's words and in response were baptized (Acts 2:1, 16-20, 40-41).

Years later when he wrote to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul indicated that some believers might still be alive to witness the Second Coming (1 Thess. 4:15ff).

Paul told the Corinthians that there was not much time left and that the world in its present form was currently passing away (1 Cor. 7:29, 31). He informed them that the fulfillment of the ages had arrived (1 Cor. 10:11). Later, he said that not all of them would die before the resurrection had occurred (1 Cor. 15:51ff).

When Paul wrote to the Romans, he advised them that the hour had come for them to realize that their salvation was much sooner than originally expected (Rom. 13:11). Then, he told them that it would not be long before God crushed Satan under their feet (Rom. 16:20).

James instructed the people to be patient until the coming of the Lord. Next, he stated that Jesus and the Judgment were coming soon (James 5:7-9).

Paul informed the Philippians that the Lord's coming was near (Php. 4:5).

The author of Hebrews wrote that the Old Covenant was in the process of passing away and that it would shortly be abolished (Heb. 8:13). The regulations of the covenant were only to be applicable until the new order had arrived (Heb. 9:10). The author further informed the Hebrews that when Jesus entered into heaven it had occurred at the end of the ages (Heb. 9:26). The Hebrews were encouraged to meet with each other more often as they saw the Day of the Lord getting nearer. They were then told that the time was very short and that the coming of the Lord would occur without delay (Heb. 10:25, 37).

The apostle Peter told the people that it was the last times and their salvation was ready to be revealed (1 Pet. 1:5). He also informed them that the Lord had been manifested in those same last times for their sake (1 Pet. 1:20). In addition, he said that the Lord was ready to judge the living and the dead and that the end of all things was near (1 Pet. 4:5, 7).

Paul suggested that Timothy might still be alive at the Second Coming when he charged him to remain faithful until that time came (1 Tim. 6:12-14).

Jude warned the people that godless men had slipped in among them. Then, he reminded them that they were in the last times and their situation was just as the Apostles had foretold would happen (Jude 4, 18).

The apostle John told the people that the darkness was passing and the true light was already shinning (1 John 2:8). Afterward, he stated that the world and its desires were currently passing away (1 John 2:17). He told them that many antichrists had come. He then said that their presence was a clear indication that it was the last hour (1 John 2:18).

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John wrote that the events, which were being disclosed, were going to happen soon. He then stated that those who heard, read and took the prophecy to heart would be blessed because the time was near (Rev. 1:1, 3).

When Jesus addressed the church in Ephesus, He warned them that if they did not repent He would come to them very soon and remove their church from its place (Rev. 2:5). He told the church in Pergamum that they also needed to repent. If they did not, He said that He would quickly come back and bring judgment upon them (Rev. 2:16). To the church in Thyatira, Jesus advised them to hold on to what they had until He returned (Rev. 2:25). Jesus exhorted the church in Sardis to wake up or He would come like a thief and they would not know when He was going to come to them (Rev. 3:3). The church in Philadelphia was commended for their endurance. As a consequence, Jesus told them that He would keep them from the hour of trial that was about to occur. He then declared that He was going to come back soon (Rev. 3:10-11). In his message to the church in Laodicia, Jesus stated that He was about to judge them for their lukewarmness and that they should be zealous and repent (Rev. 3:16, 19).

At the end of the book, John was told that the things, which had just been revealed, would soon take place (Rev. 22:6). Following that, Jesus announced that He was coming soon and that those who kept the words of the prophecy would be blessed (Rev. 22:7). Afterward, John was instructed not to seal up the book because the time was near (Rev. 22:10). Jesus again proclaimed that He was coming soon. He then added that His reward was with Him and He would give to everybody according to what they had done (Rev. 22:12). Jesus closed by once more declaring that He would come back soon (Rev. 22:20).

Without a doubt, the smell of imminence was in the air. These passages prove it. Jesus said He was going to come back soon, before His contemporaries had all died off. He did not say that He would return anytime over a period of two thousand years or more. He said soon! All the authors of the New Testament wrote and preached the same thing. Any eschatological approach that claims otherwise, not only brings the consistency of the New Testament into question, but also ultimately calls Jesus and the New Testament writers liars. If they were merely mistaken then they spoke presumptuously and should not be listened to or fear anything they have said, according to the Law: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22).