Conceding to Giants

Once upon a time there was a very large group of people who had settled in a rich and fertile land. After some time, the ruler of the land, a dragon, enslaved those people for 400 years. A deliverer was raised up from among those people. God had sent this man to free his people from the dragon’s clutches of death and tyranny, and to bring them into a land better than the one they were inhabiting as slaves. Through many great and mighty acts the man of God freed the people from the clutches of the dragon, and had brought them to the border of the land they were about to inhabit. This land was promised to them, by God Almighty. But, there was a catch, there were enemies in the land. Giants, in fact, descendants of the dragon. But, no fear, for God had promised them victory, if only they would believe Him and obey Him.

Spies were sent into this land of promise, 12 to be precise, and 10 of them brought back tales of horror and impeding doom if they went in to fight as God commanded them. “There are Giants in the land!” they cried. “We can never defeat them, for they are much too strong and much to advanced. They have total control over all the schools of education and they have indoctrinated all the people into believing in their false gods, and in the virtues of their wickedness. The have taken control over the production and distribution of the economy. They control the health care, and the entertainment, and the military, and even the food supply and the all means of communication. There is not one square inch of all creation under which they have not taken over and used as an advantage for their empire. They are giants and we are but grasshoppers in their sight. We can never win.”

So the report of the 10 had sway over the people, though the other 2 were unconvinced and believed that this God who had redeemed them in a mighty way from the hands of the dragon, would in fact fight for them again and stay true to His promise, and now defeat these dragon descendants. The people did not believe them, or their God. So, God had sworn an oath, in His wrath and anger against His people, that because of their unbelief, they would never enter the land! That generation of people sealed their own fate and sentenced themselves to wander in the wilderness until they died, never to see the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised them. This was a very bad thing.

The next generation born to them, did enter into that land, and began to believe the promises of their God. God fought for them, and they were successful at killing many giants. And slowly over time, as they took control over more and more, they began to build new institutions of education, based upon their God’s law. They also built a better economy, not based upon the unjust weights and measures of fractional reserve banking, but through honest weights and measures backed by real gold and silver. They took control over the judicial system, putting many righteous God-fearing men in positions over the people. They created a godly culture of entertainment and arts, and a national defense and a police force that really sought to protect the people. Places of worship were spread throughout the whole land, so that the people of every tribe could all be taught about God and His law, and how to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

And if it were not for me telling you, you might think that things always continued this way, to get better without any push back or resistance from the enemy. Not so. In fact, this was a very long and arduous project they undertook, spanning many generations. Most of those generations actually became even worse than the people they were supposed to eradicate. Most of the time they did whatever was right in their own eyes, and God sent judgments their way, attempting to purge them from their sins. But throughout it all, God had sent his prophets to his people to tell them of another redeemer to come, one like the first redeemer, but this time it would be the Lord Himself to come. And to ensure His victory, He promised that His law would not just be written on stone, but His spirit would fill them, and His law would be on their hearts.

This Redeemer finally came, and fought against the real enemy that plagued his people with the power of evil and death, the True Dragon. This savior came to bring people life and goodness by dying, thereby killing the Dragon, and reversing evil and death. He rose from the dead to forever make life victorious over death, and good to triumph over evil. He crushed the head of the prototypical Giant, the Great Dragon and promised His people once again, that their mission was to go and kill the giants. He promised them God would put all his enemies under His feet, and he did so by putting the dragons under their feet. They were to fight against them with the power of the Spirit and with the Word of Truth. Yet this time, the land that was promised to them was the whole world! God’s promise had finally been given new power and life, so that the promise would not fail, and the curse of the Dragon would finally be reversed, and the people of the world would no longer follow the dragon, but the Savior. And it was in this manner that God promised His people victory.

And as it is in a great number of stories, there is always a character who thinks he is doing good, but is blinded by the dragons magic. In one particular instance, there are a group of God’s people who are strangely like the group that believed the report of the 10 spies. They believe that the Giants are too big, and too numerous to be defeated. In fact, they believe that it is necessary for the Giants to defeat God’s people, and to take over the earth. And only then at the very end, after everything is destroyed and there is no hope, only then will the savior return to defeat all the dragons and giants, and that by almost destroying this world. But, in a twist, this time the savior would rule from one of the ancient cities of earth, the one that He was killed in fact. But his “reign” will last for 1000 years. In this 1000 year kingdom, the whole thing happens all over again: the good King fails to keep his kingdom from being sieged by the dragon. It is attacked again, and only then at the very end, when that world is about to be destroyed by the dragon, does the Good king destroy it finally to build a new heaven and new earth where there will no longer be any dragons, or giants, or dark magic of death.

Now, if I were a dragon, I think it would be a very advantageous thing to get the enemy to believe that I was going to succeed in my mission, and that any attempt by them to defeat me would be ultimately futile, for then they would be hindering the coming of their savior, who of course is only going to come when it gets so bad that the only one who in fact could do anything about it would be God. That seems like a good little lie to tell these church people, so that whenever they see how bad things are, they will remain in their little churches and wait for the savior to come, instead of actually obeying their God, who promised them victory over me. Ha! They have all believed the lies of the 10 spies again, when in fact if they would have believed the report of the 2 postmillennial spies we might have all been killed some time ago. But as it turns out, because of these people’s unbelief, God had sworn in His wrath that they would not enter His rest. These fools are repeating the same sin again, and yet this time they think that by doing so they are being faithful and obedient. As long as I can continue to get them to believe that there are Giants in the land, and they are grasshoppers in our sights, we have the victory!

The Bible Story is OUR Story

A Latin American theologian has said that the important thing for the student of the Bible is not to understand the text but to understand the world through the text. Of course the second is not possible without the first. In this respect the Bible functions in the life of the Church like the language we use. Of course we have to learn the meaning of words and the rules of grammar and syntax. But when we are actually speaking, writing or reading, we do not attend to these things. We attend through them to the meaning, through which we deal with the situation ‘out there’. All knowing, and all human dealing with the world is conducted by means of a language. We do not think about the language so much as live in it. It is part of ourselves. In an analogous fashion we need to live in the Bible so that its language, its images, its histories, its prayers, its songs become our way of understanding and dealing with the world.

There is obviously no short cut to the recovery of the Bible as ‘Holy Scripture’ for modern secularised Europeans. Much will depend upon faithful biblical preaching by our pastors. And this must encourage the daily reading of the Bible in our homes. When you read a good novel you come to know the hero of the, story as if you had actually met him. No description of him, for example in an obituary notice, can be a substitute for this. It is as you watch him dealing with actual situations and people that you come to know him. So it is, I think, in reading the Bible. As you read and re-read and go on reading, you come to know God. He is the one whose nature the Bible discloses. You come to know him personally. And because this is the whole story from the beginning of the world to its end, I who am now part of this story, feel that I know the one who is the author of the story and that I can trust him. I do not find infallible answers to be questions or solutions for my dilemmas. But I can go ahead, take risks, with the sort of confidence that is expressed in the apostle’s word: “I know whom I have believed”. It is when there are congregations of men and women and children who are living the story now, here, that the Bible will become good news for secularised people.

Quoted from Leslie Newbigin, “The Bible: Good News for Secularised People”

“Third Day” Resurrection

In Exodus 19, Israel came to Mt. Sinai. Verse 1 says it was “on the third new moon” that they arrived at Sinai since they left Egypt. Verses 11 tells us that Israel was to prepare herself for “the third day” when “the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all people. Verses 16-20 tell of the great majesty and glory of God who appeared to Israel on “the third day” on top of Mt. Sinai in fire, smoke, thunder, and lightening. While Moses was on the mount he received the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant. Thus, Israel’s covenant inauguration/renewal ceremony took place on the third day. The prologue to the Ten Commandments reiterates this resurrection theme when God says, “I am the LORD you God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” This is resurrection language. “You were once dead in Egypt, but now you are alive, therefore serve me” is the essence of what God is saying. This proclamation takes place not just on the third day, but on the third day of the third month/third new moon.

“Exodus 19:1 tells us that Israel arrived “on the third new moon” (literally) from the month they left Egypt. They had departed on the 15th day of the first month, so that they arrived at Sinai at the beginning of the week. On the second day, Moses went up the mountain of God, and God told him that He was going to make covenant with Israel. Moses came down from the mountain and told the people, who rejoiced to have the Lord as their God (w. 2-8a). The third day, Moses told God what the people had said, and God told him that He would speak to Israel from the cloud of glory. Moses returned and told this to the people (VV. 8b-9). The fourth day, Moses returned to hear what God had to say next, and God told him to tell the people to prepare themselves to receive the covenant on the third day, which would be the sixth day of the week. Adam was created on the sixth day of the creation week, and was established in covenant with God. Since, as we have seen, the Sinaitic covenant is a redemptive specification or republication of the Old Adamic Covenant (from one Biblical perspective, at least), it is telling that God “re-creates” humanity in covenant with Himself on this sixth day of the week.” [1]

It is interesting that God told Moses to “consecrate the people today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day” (Ex. 19:10). Israel needed to be cleansed from their uncleanness, which is symbolic death. They were symbolically dead in Egypt and needed to be raised to life again, which was to take place on the third day when the covenant was going to be ratified/renewed. Thus we can agree with Jordan that the “process of covenant renewal with man dead in sins and trespasses must involve resurrection.”[2]

This brings us then to Numbers 19:11-13.

11 “Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. 12He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 13Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.”

This passage makes it very clear that death needs to be cleansed from a person on third day, as well as the on the seventh day. This is an obvious third day resurrection motif. But what might not be as obvious is why it is that the cleansing is needed on both the third and seventh days. Jordan gives us insight.

The third day (year, etc.) theme arises from the theology of the week. History begins on the first day, but humanity fell into sin and came under the judgment on [sic] death right away. There is a preliminary judgment and restoration on the third day, and that restoration makes it possible for humanity to become faithful and obedient as we move to the final, seventh day of history. This two judgment, two-resurrection scheme is set forth most fully in Numbers 19, where we read that a person who came into near contact with a human corpse was contaminated by death, just as all of us are contaminated with Adam’s death, and that the unclean person was cleansed both on the third day and again on the seventh. We see here a preliminary cleansing (that is, a resurrection from death contamination) and a final cleansing.[3]

This analysis seems to fit with Jesus’ understanding of the flow of history in John 5. Jesus said “For an hour is coming (future) and is now here (present), when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” The third day cleansing represents Christian baptism (the first resurrection) and the seventh day cleansing represents eschatological cleansing (the second resurrection). A person who has encountered death needs to be cleansed twice, once in the middle of history and once again at the end. The cleansing/resurrection in the middle of history and again at the end of history corresponds to the two cleansings/ two resurrections found in Numbers 19.

“The man who is unclean from contact with a corpse is to be cleansed on the third day and again on the seventh day. This double resurrection pattern is found all through the Scriptures. For instance, in John 5:21-29, Jesus distinguishes a first resurrection, when those dead in sin will hear the voice of Christ and live (v. 25); and a second resurrection, when those dead in the grave will come forth to a physical resurrection (v. 29). The first resurrection comes in the middle of history to enable men to fulfill the duties of the old creation. The second resurrection comes at the end of history to usher men into the new creation. Jesus was raised on the third day, thereby inaugurating the New Covenant in the midst of the week of history. Christians live between the third and seventh days of history, Spiritually resurrected and in the New Covenant, but physically mortal and assigned to complete the tasks of the Old Adamic Covenant. The fact that the law was given at Sinai on the third day, and in the third month, was a provisional anticipation of the third-day resurrection yet to come in Christ.”[4]

Saint Paul also affirms this truth when he speaks of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:23 – each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ will be resurrected.[5]

[1] See James B. Jordan, The Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23 (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 55-56.

[2] Jordan, Law of the Covenant, 56.

[3] Jordan, The Handwriting on the Wall, A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007),130.

[4] Jordan, The Handwriting on the Wall, 58.

[5] David Chilton, Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Fort Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 550-551.

Always Learning and Never Able to Arrive at a Knowledge of the Truth

Some people claim, mostly Deists, that we just simply cannot know the Truth about God because of who He is. He is Infinite, and we are finite; He is Pure, and we are sinful. Our fallen sinful human minds cannot understand the truth about God, and even if we could, even to the smallest degree, we are so corrupt that the message of who God is would get twisted by sinful man and then be used in such a way as to exploit people and make them slaves. These kind of people often have a very anti-government sentiment about them, not trusting any authority figures or powers, seeing them as the  manifestation of Big Brother, The Man, The System, The Beast, whatever they might label government, their attitude is self evident. Government cannot be trusted. Be Aware!

I have a friend who is very much like this, and I write this post in light of some of things that him and I have been discussing. Now what is so ironic about this is, that in rejecting the authority of the Bible, for it has been corrupted by man, and therefore is not trustworthy, authoritative, or a reliable source of divine Wisdom, he has set himself up as that very same authority that he so despises. He has now claimed for himself an attribute that he downright denies the possibility of existing anywhere else, especially in the Bible.

Allow me to demonstrate: He says that God, and Absolute Truth cannot be known because we are too sinful. But is he not making a claim concerning the Absolute Truth that he has already dismissed in his foundational presupposition? Has he not already said that mankind cannot know Absolute Truth? If that is the case, is it possible that we can actually know anything at all? If we can’t know the Truth, then what can we know? And how can we know that we can’t know the Truth? Does this not require an absolute knowledge concerning God’s revelation, a knowledge that is actually impossible to know according to his own presupposition?

Or allow me to say it like this: “Man cannot know God.” In order for this statement to be considered as true, my friend would have to possess all knowledge, or simply have access to all knowledge, i.e., God would have to reveal that truth to him. But since he already said that man cannot know God, he cannot know for sure that man cannot know God. He has shot himself in the intellectual foot, so to say.

All we can know, according to him, is our own experiences. But our own individual experiences cannot dictate to us the Truth, because so many people have so many different experiences. That would mean there could be more than one Truth. If there is more than one Truth, then wouldn’t my friend be a hypocrite for opposing the government who exploits and enslaves and manipulates people? I mean, he is trying to hold them to a standard that “he feels” is right and wrong according to his experience. But if the government is doing what they believe is right, according to their experience, then why is that wrong? If my friend seeks to hold the government accountable for their crimes, doesn’t he have to hold them to a standard of right and wrong that transcends all and that all men are accountable to? And where does he get that standard? From his own experience? Then we are back in the same boat again, for they could arrest him and say that he is an enemy of the State because he is opposing what they feel is the best for them and is most conducive to the benefit  of their experience, which dictates to them the truth.

Since my friend has a gripe against government for their “sins”, and believes that they should be held accountable to that very standard of right and wrong that he employs, he obviously does have a standard of right and wrong that does not generate from within himself and from his own experience, but from outside of himself, and is transcendent. This is his experience, is it not? Now if the truth is known by experience, then his experience now dictates to him that there is a transcendant standard or morality that is binding upon all men. Now the question is, what is that standard, and where does it come from? Historically people have claimed “Natural Law” as their basis for knowing right and wrong. That God created the universe to act in such a way, as well as mankind, that all men know instinctively what is right and wrong. This  is self evident. All we have to do is apply some reason, and we can know what the right and the wrong is.

But not all men reason the same. Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, they all “reasoned” their way to killing hundreds of millions of people. So then, if their reasoning is flawed, doesn’t that also then mean that there are transcendent Laws of Logic as well? And to what do they comport with? How do we know them?  Well these questions are getting a little further away from the topic than I intended. Suffice it to say that all these answers can be absolutely found in the Ontologial Trinity (see Ralph Allen Smith’s book, Trinity and Reality: An Introduction to the Christian Faith. Canon Press: Moscow, 2004).

So what is my point? That my friend does not have all his ducks in a row, to say the least. He has denied the possibility that men can know God, and yet his very experience, which he prizes and esteems so highly, necessitates that God has indeed revealed something about Himself, namely His Righteous Character and Nature, for that is the very thing that mankind sins against. To sin is to fall short of the Perfect Character and Nature of God Himself. And since my friend believes that sin is the reason we can’t know God and the Truth about God, we have another internal contradiction in his thinking, because sin, as I just said, is man’s deviation from God’s self revelation of His own Righteous Character and Nature to mankind. He has at the same time, rejected the possibility of God revealing Himself to man, because of the self revelation of God to man.

This is why the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is so important. Jesus Christ, accurately, truly, clearly, reveals to mankind the Truth about God. Jesus Christ, unlike sinful man, is sinless, and is not from below, not bound to the finite understandings and knowledge of mankind, but He is from above, and possesses Infinite knowledge of all things, especially who His Father is (John 8:12-20). Since He is God, He cannot lie. So whatever Jesus Christ testifies to concerning whatever, it is True. And as such, His testimony is binding upon all men. All men are required to heed the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He speaks with Absolute Authority over the whole creation, and that includes individuals, families, companies, schools and universities, and civil government, etc. He has laid down His perfectly righteous laws that all men are required to obey. His laws are Just, and His rule is just, and righteous, and good. He is the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, it is a good and gracious thing to be under His authority and to be led into the ways of truth, which are like rivers of pure water that refresh the soul. It is a glorious thing to have the mind of Christ and to be able to think God’s thoughts after Him, and to see the world for what it is, and to know that there are true God given answers to the worlds problems. I thank God that this is so.

Now my friend, on the other hand, he yearns for this, and wishes this were true. His passions and desires are to see men come to a knowledge of the truth, and to see the wicked punished, and the righteous prosper. He yearns for beauty to flourish in all areas of life, and to see humanity be united. But the sad fact is, he has rejected the only standard of truth, beauty, and goodness that Truly exists, and rejected the very possibility that there could ever be true unity (which is found ultimately in the Trinity, and is manifested in the Church, which isthe Body of Christ). He is always learning, and nevr able to come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7), because He has rejected the source of all knowledge, which is the fear of the LORD (Prov. 1:7). And he will never be able to come to the beginning of knowledge or wisdom, because he rejects the idea that man can know God (which is also to reject the ability of God to reveal Himself to man). To know God is to fear Him. And since he says He cannot know God, he cannot fear God, and therefore, he cannot know anything Truly. A sad state to be in, especially for one who is seeking to become a teacher. What good is a teacher who cannot even account for how he knows anything to be true at all, since his whole presupposition excludes the possibility of knowing the only One who knows The Truth about everything.