Friday, January 20, 2012

The Signs of the Times

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Background
After rebuking some Pharisees and contradicting God's Law, Jesus took a side trip to the region of Tyre and Sidon. There, He reluctantly healed a woman's demon-possessed daughter after He called her, and her people, dogs. Soon Jesus left that region to go back to Galilee, where He fed 4000 with seven loaves of bread and few small fish.

The Signs of the Times
To a large extent for us today, Biblical veracity comes down to prophesy. None of us were around to witness Jesus, and many of us lack the "feeling" of the presence of God, or the feeling we had once felt no longer exists. The only evidence which should be incontrovertible is prophesy. If words written long prior to Jesus accurately reflected His life and times, then faith can be renewed and even the most bull-headed skeptic must bow in contrition (at least if they are honest). Unfortunately, that is not what we find, such as we will see in this study.

Mark is theorized to be the earliest Gospel, and Mark 8:11-13 is a good example of why. There, the Pharisees test Jesus, asking Him for a sign, to which He tells them no sign will be given to this generation. Of course that is dead wrong based on the Biblical accounts of Jesus working many miraculous signs, but at least Mark's message is simple and short.

Matthew 16:1-4 records the same confrontation, but Matthew added the Sadducees to the group, and said that only one sign would be given; the oh-so-problematic sign of Jonah. But Matthew did not stop there. Proving himself to be somewhat of an aggregator of knowledge, Matthew spliced in a condemnation of the Pharisees and Sadducees; that they could interpret the weather yet could not interpret the signs of the times.

Luke does not exactly cover this episode, but Luke does contain Matthew's same condemnation about knowing the weather yet not knowing the signs of the times. If we remember from a previous study, it appeared as though Luke had edited the "sign of Jonah" the first time Matthew had mentioned it. It may be that Luke edited this anecdote as well due to the reference to the "sign of Jonah" again, and so we see in Luke 12:54-56 that he skipped the Pharisees' request for a sign and instead directed the condemnation at the crowds following Jesus:
He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?" NIV
Wrap your head around this: Jesus, speaking to a highly illiterate crowd (literacy rates were well below 10% back then), calls these people hypocrites for knowing how to interpret the weather signs (which they would have encountered every day of their lives) but not knowing how to "interpret this present time" (which is an implied reference to prophesies in the Scriptures). These people had to rely on the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes to tell them what was in the Scriptures and to inform them what were the prophesied signs, if any, occurring in their times, but here we see Jesus berating them for not knowing something which they were obviously not taught. Luke made a major blunder here.

Now, we are in the meat of the text! I hope you are hungry, because there is a 24 ounce (0.68 kilogram) porterhouse steak of prophesy coming your way!

Going back to Matthew's version, where instead Jesus focuses His attack more rightfully on the Pharisees and Sadducees, it appears that Jesus had expected them to realize "the signs of the times," which implies a connection to prophesies not only about Jesus, but about the events which were then occurring at that time.

So which prophesies might this implied reference refer to? John Gill, one of the great Christian Bible scholars, suggested these signs in his exposition on this verse:
"the ending of Daniel's weeks, the various miracles wrought by Christ, the wickedness of the age in which they lived, the ministry of John the Baptist, and of Christ, the great flockings of the people, both to one and to the other, with divers other things which were easy to be observed by them"
Working from the end to the beginning, we have already discussed the inaccuracies in the prophesies of people flocking to Jesus, some of the issues with Jesus' ministry, and the issues with John the Baptist leading and preparing the way and representing the foretold reappearance of Elijah. The charge that the times were wicked enough to warrant being a sign is the essence of subjectivity. The recorded miracles of Jesus, such as the feeding of the 5000 and walking on water, have proven to be highly questionable. That brings us to "Daniel's weeks."

The reference to "Daniel's weeks" comes from a prophesy in Daniel 9. The big picture is in Daniel 9:24:
"Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy." NIV
The word for "sevens" is literally the word for weeks, but the content which follows makes literal weeks an obviously wrong translation. Another interpretation of "sevens" is years, making this a prophesy about 70 years, but given the lack of everlasting righteousness being established so soon after the building of the Second Temple, this interpretation seems wrong. So in this case, the context makes it reasonably clear that these weeks are actually sets of seven years according to the day-year interpretation. All of these things are supposed to be accomplished by the end of seventy sevens, or 490 years.

The phrase "to put an end to sin" is literally just that, and is applied specifically to the Jews as the phrase "for your people" establishes. How can we be certain? Minus the "weeks" timeline, this concept is echoed in other prophesies, such as Ezekiel 36:24-36 and Ezekiel 37:21-28. These prophesies state that the Jews (Israelites) will never sin again after some certain point of time, among other things.

The phrase "to anoint the most holy" sure appears to be a reference to Jesus, right? There are a couple problems with that interpretation. The first is semantics based, because "most holy" comes from a pair of Hebrew words which refer to a holy place or a thing, more like a temple, a sanctuary, or even the city of Jerusalem itself, than a god-man. The word "place" should come after "most holy." Coincidentally, this couples well to the coming Third Temple which was prophesied in Ezekiel 40-46. The second problem is even bigger...timing.

The Times
Daniel 9:25 tells us specifically that the starting time of the 490 years began from when the decree was given to rebuild Jerusalem. The Persian leader Cyrus the Great made that decree. Being extra generous, we will use the date in which the Second Temple of Jerusalem was completed, 516 BCE, although the decree was probably around twenty years before that.

So add 490 years to 516 BCE and you get 26 BC, that "BC" stands for "Before Christ" in Christian lingo. According to Daniel's prophesy, it was before Jesus that transgressions and sins would end, atonement would be made, and there would be everlasting righteousness. This is an epic prophesy failure.

These dates come from secular historians, but Jewish history states that the decree to build Jerusalem came much later, around 370 BCE, and vehemently maintain that the Second Temple stood for 420 years. Add 490 years to that and you get 120 CE. If you subtract seven years, 113 CE is when a foreign power conquered Israel. And since 120 CE, the Jews have never sinned and have had everlasting righteousness. Wait, that is not right either. Is this the actual prophesy failure?

No. Strangely enough, Jewish scholars, apparently contradicting their own Scriptures, suggest that the timeline instead begins with the destruction of the First Temple, and that Cyrus the Great was the anointed leader to come after 49 years. This trick aligns that fateful last seven years of prophesy with the start of the reign of the tyrannical High Priest Alexander Yannai (103 BCE). The problem is that Yannai's reign lasted twenty seven years, not seven, and we are again lacking an everlasting righteousness.

You might think that with all of these mixed up dates, Biblical scholars would shy away from associating this prophesy with Jesus, but they cannot do that, given that Jesus Himself referenced this specific prophesy in Matthew 24:15-20, Mark 13:14-18, and (a slightly modified version in) Luke 21:20-24. Jesus uses it to point out signs yet to come...

That leads to one more timeline theory: According to Nehemiah 2, Artaxerxes gave a commission to rebuild Jerusalem in 444 BCE (Jehovah's Witnesses claim 455 BCE instead, while Seventh Day Adventists claim 457 BCE). Add 490 years to that and you get 46 CE (or 35 CE according to the Jehovah's Witnesses or 33 CE via Seventh Day Adventists). Despite this timeline being essentially useless to Daniel such that it hardly seems to be an answer to his prayer (Daniel 9:20-23), at least this is in the right range. So let us review the signs.

The Signs
Daniel 9:25-27 is the rest of the prophesy; the events leading up to the perfection achieved at the end of those 490 years. These verses are written so haphazardly as to make it extremely difficult to assemble the proper meaning and timing, especially when translators throw in punctuations which are not in the original Hebrew. Here is how I would render it as clearly as possible:
From the time when the order is given to rebuild Jerusalem, in 49 years there will be an anointed leader (a.k.a. a messiah), and the city will continue on for another 434 years during turbulent times. After those 483 total years, the anointed ruler will be cut off. A foreign leader and his people will capture the city, and will rule it for 7 years until his per-ordained fate. He will make cooperative promises with many of the people during that time. Yet rebellions and blasphemes will be frequent during his reign. Approximately 3.5 years into his rule, he will stop the Temple sacrifices and set up an abomination in the Temple which will last until the end of his reign. At some point, he will destroy the city and the Temple, like a flood, in battle.
Where did Daniel come up with these numbers? Of course, it is difficult to say. Some secular scholars and liberal Christian scholars have suggested that this is an ex eventuex prophesy written after the events sometime in the second century BCE, and that it (the last week of the prophesy in particular) aligns to the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the associated Maccabean Revolt (171 BCE), but this requires Daniel to be really bad with dates; off by around 70 years in his timeline even with the most-favorable timeline given above.

I think that there may be a better fitting, but completely overlooked explanation.

If the authorship of the prophesy is much older than the second century BCE, written closer to the time when Daniel supposedly lived, maybe even by Daniel himself, I would suggest instead that it could be an echo of the Old Testament history. The 49 years could represent the time from when David was anointed to become the future king (1 Samuel 16:13) up to the end of his forty-year reign (1 Kings 2:10-11), but there is no specific date given for his anointing to be certain. More precise, however, is that from Solomon's reign to the time when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem was approximately 433.5 years according to the chronology in 1 Kings and 2 Kings, which is pretty darn close to 434 years. It could be that Daniel was forecasting that history would repeat itself. However this time, after a seven year tribulation period instead of a seventy year exile, the cycle of repeated history would end, and everlasting righteousness would be established.

Now, onto the signs:
  • An anointed one (a messiah, a.k.a. a ruler chosen by God and anointed with oil, reference Exodus 29:7, 1 Samuel 10:1, 1 Samuel 16:13) will rule in 49 years
  • There are anointed rulers for the next 434 years
  • The anointed ruler will be cut off, replaced by a foreign ruler (or at least a non-anointed ruler)
  • That foreign ruler will rule for seven years (Romans ruled it for well over seven years)
  • That foreign ruler will make promises to many
  • That foreign ruler will put an end to sacrifices and offerings in 3.5 years (Sacrifices continued to the Temple destruction in 70 CE)
  • That foreign ruler will set up an "abomination which causes desolation" in the Temple which will remain there until his preordained end.
  • Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed at some point by this foreign ruler's people
  • At the end of this seven-year rule, God will make atonement for the Jewish people, put an end to sin, and establish everlasting righteousness.
Collectively, this is one huge failure of prophesy. Yet with so many tempting elements, and with Jesus Himself referencing this specific prophesy in Matthew 24:15-20, Mark 13:14-18, and (a slightly modified version in) Luke 21:20-24, Christians cannot ignore it and cannot accept that it is a failure. The product of this contradiction results in some of the most contemptible attempts at Biblical scholarship you will ever find.

For example, one scholarly view is that Jesus was the ruler of the final seven years, where the anointed Jesus was cut off (killed) during that seven years, He had made a covenant with many people, His sacrifice put an end to sacrifices, He had made atonement, He had established an everlasting righteousness, and the Temple was destroyed...eventually (30+ years later).

Contrast this with another popular Christian scholarly view where the ruler during that final seven years is actually the Antichrist, who will rule after the Church is Raptured. It is the Antichrist who will make a covenant with many, will stop the sacrifices and offerings (even though Jesus had already made them unnecessary and somehow even the Rapture of the Church does not convince the Jews enough that the Christians were right to make them stop sacrificing on their own), and will attack Jerusalem and the Temple. This view holds that the first 483 years of Daniel's prophesy has already happened (culminating with Jesus) and did happen sequentially, but that this final set of seven years is (obviously) still yet to occur, which makes absolutely no sense other than making people feel better about a failed prophesy.

For Christian scholars to study the same four verses of prophesy and come up with both Jesus and the Antichrist being represented in the same words is simultaneously hilarious and sad. Yet this shows you the lengths that believers will go to in order to mold these Old Testament prophesies into what they want them to be instead of simply believing what they are actually saying.

38 comments:

  1. literacy rates were well below 10% back then

    Do you know this for sure? If so, how? The following professor, in contrast, writes of the time: "Writing in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew was widespread and could be found at all levels of society."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Millard

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    1. Hi tom sheepandgoats, thanks for the comment.

      Of course, I do not know it for sure, having not lived back in those times. However, I researched this question on many Christian websites. One of the best explanations I saw was at Evidence for Christianity.

      I am not suggesting that people were stupid back then. Clearly anyone from any social level could have learned to read and write, just as anyone could today. But Professor Millard's conjecture is not fully fleshed out in your quote. Is Millard speaking of urban dwellers or rural people?

      Jesus was addressing people in rural environments and small towns here. There was practically little reason for anyone to learn to read and write in such environments. There were no great libraries in that region. Employment was almost exclusively based on craft work and farming, not anything requiring extensive literacy. Paper was still somewhat of a luxury item. They already had priests and scribes to tell them what was in the Scriptures. In short, there was little need or specific advantage to be literate in those times in that region.

      Then, of course, there is literacy and then there is literacy. There is quite a difference between someone who is simply functionally literate who can do a little reading and writing as necessary compared with someone who is able to read and write well enough to provide exegesis on Scriptures and interpret prophesies. You, and Professor Miller, would find it a very difficult undertaking to produce proof that the literacy of the time and of the region of Galilee, was of a quality and a quantity such that Jesus' rebuke of the crowds was actually warranted.

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    2. That address for Evidence for Christianity is:

      https://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/index.php?option=com_custom_content&task=view&id=4172

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  2. I'm not sure why I or he would have to. Generally the prerequisite skills of the audience are inferred from the speech itself. If Galileo gave a speech, you would not demand from me proof that his audience was scientifically literate enough to comprehend it. If Mozart gave a speech in which understanding of musically scoring seemed to be required, you would assume that his audience had it. Why should it be different with Jesus? Whatever else he may or may not have been, he certainly was an adept speaker and teacher. And an adept teacher speaks to his audience, if only to keep them as his audience.

    Encyclopaedia Judaica, contrasting literacy among Hebrews with that of surrounding nations,(where, as you say, only the most privileged classes had reading ability) states. “The difference was no doubt due to the simpler alphabetic system of writing used by the Hebrews. . . . The importance of alphabetic writing for the history of education must not be overlooked. It ushered in a break with the traditional scribal cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and second-millennium Canaan. To be literate was no longer the identifying and exclusive characteristic of a class of professional scribes and priests, versed in the abstruse cuneiform and hieroglyphic scripts.”

    I would think the Encyclopaedia Judaica would be a good source regarding Jewish ways of life at the time. True enough, I was not there. Nor were you. But in view of the numerous verses both OT and NT that imply widespread reading ability, why arbitrarily insist that they did not have it?

    Also, I've answered your comment on my blog. Please follow the link back. There's been a misunderstanding.

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    1. Hello again Tom.

      Your examples of the audiences for Galileo or Mozart and the assumption of the speech representing the audience is not logical. Here is why: You set up Galileo or Mozart as, well, giving speeches, as in some kind of advertised lecture on a college campus. In that circumstance, yes, we could expect a high degree of scientific or musical literacy in those audiences. However, that is not at all what is represented in the Gospel story. Jesus did not have His disciples advertise some speech where Jesus promised to reveal how everybody was failing to interpret prophecy. No. Jesus was just wandering around, speaking about a variety of topics, and attracting many people due to His alleged healing powers (not necessarily for His exegesis skills).

      I never said "only the most privileged classes had reading ability," and in my earlier reply I even commented on how anyone could have become literate. The Encyclopaedia Judaica only points out that it was easier to be literate using the Hebrew alphabet. It does not connect that with the overall literacy rate, especially as it varied in urban and rural environments and what that rate was in the time of Jesus. Just because we have public high schools in the US does not mean everyone is a high school graduate, right? We even force kids to go to school up to a certain age, and we live in a society where literacy is more useful than ever, and yet in 2003 only about 86% of the population had at least basic literacy, and only 13% had higher-level "full prose proficiency."

      I do not "arbitrarily insist" that they did not have widespread literacy. I go off of what the majority of historians have indicated in their research. It seems odd that you would consider that "arbitrary."

      Perhaps more to the point, let me ask you, what literacy rate do you think that they had back then? By literacy rate here, I am speaking about the ability to study and interpret the Scriptures for themselves, high prose proficiency literacy, such that it would validate your claims.

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    2. I would expect that the particular audience Jesus addressed, not necessarily to the person, possessed literacy skills necessary for him to be able to make the point he did. Otherwise, why make it? And I don't believe the examples of Galileo and Mozart are so easily dismissed as you suggest. Yes, of course, they might more likely speak in some prearranged session. But that wasn't the point. Were there to be some record of Galileo discoursing matters of science on a hilltop, I believe you would assume the place must somehow have been a favorite haunt of scientists. Or perhaps it was Science Friday on the hill. You would labor to find an explanation. I do not think you would say: 'wrap your head around this....the idiot is speaking science to people who can't possibly understand him.' You would credit Galileo with the good judgment not to speak science unless there were sufficient numbers in the audience who could understand him. Well, I do the same with Jesus. He was a good teacher. I see no reason to assume that a good teacher would teach like a bad one.

      So his speech alone is evidence to me that his audience was reasonably capable of following him, even if means little to you. Add in a few authorities like Encyclopedia Judaica and Prof Millard, and the picture becomes tenable. You don't need all the authorities to line up with you....that's never going to happen for an unpopular position. Just a handful will do.

      You postulated a society which operated as was typical with ancient peoples: "These people had to rely on the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes to tell them what was in the Scriptures." That's how the "traditional scribal cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and second-millennium Canaan" operated. The point made by the Encyclopedia Judaica is that Hebrew society then was modeled differently, a notable deviation from that status quo, in which literacy was more widespread.

      Jews then laid emphasis on teaching their law and history to their children. Says Deut 6:6-9: "And these words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you must tie them as a sign upon your hand, and they must serve as a frontlet band between your eyes; and you must write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates." You must do it, You don't bring your child to the scribes so they could do it.

      When parents read with and to children, children pick up reading skills as readily as they pick up the first, even 2nd and 3rd language spoken around the home. It happens independently of any public high school. Reading ability is not that big of a deal if you have a society which values reading. And I believe they did, because their law, history, tradition, and moral code is conveyed by reading.

      Perhaps, on average, literacy then was even superior to ours. (perhaps...just speculating) I'm not sure how old you are, but you may recall popular reaction to the Ken Burns series The Civil War. People were amazed at how the common soldier could write more expressively than all but a handful of educated people today. And this during a time when public schools were a rarity.

      I don't even agree with you that the scriptures, in the main, are especially difficult to understand. They may appear so today because people attempt to read certain doctrines into them, doctrines which aren't there. But if one rids oneself of such doctrines, understanding scripture becomes a much easily task.

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  3. I apologize Tom, as I do not think I did a good enough job explaining why your logic is faulty. The reason you can assume the audience of Galileo would be science-minded is that he would lecture in a manner in which the attendants vetted themselves. In other words, if I heard that Galileo was speaking, (aside from being shocked that he was still alive) I would decide if I wanted to go based largely on my interest in astronomy. On the flip side, if we have reports of Galileo wandering the streets (like Jesus wandering the countryside) speaking to random crowds in the marketplace, we are under no such obligation to think that there was a vetting process for the knowledge possessed by the crowd.

    Furthermore, according to the Gospels, the attraction to Jesus was based not only on His teaching, but almost equally, if not more so, for His healing and exorcisms. If Galileo could also make the blind see and cast out demons, would we be right to assume that only the science-minded sought an audience with him?

    Another problem with your theory is that the crowds were reportedly not homogeneous. It was not only a Jewish audience, but also contained Gentiles from the surrounding lands, at least if we can believe the Gospels.

    Allow me to throw out a similar, and more accurate, example: If the Dalai Lama gives a speech, do you assume that only people well-versed in Buddhism are in the audience? Obviously not.

    But how about this: Given that I am not 100% sure, and ignoring the majority of Christian(!) scholars on the subject, let us assume that your point is valid and accurate, and that people should have known the "times," including Daniel's Weeks (which is really the focus of this post). You say that it is easy to understand, so, please, if you would be so kind to do so, explain Daniel's Weeks relative to Jesus, showing how everything was fulfilled exactly to the letter.

    The literacy rate is really a very minor issue when compared with the prophesy.

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    1. Well....if we've reached no agreement on a very minor, straightforward issue, what's the likelihood we'll do so for an more complex issue, one with far more nuances, loose ends, and red herrings? So although I've enjoyed this discussion, as I hope you have, I'm not really up for expanding it into new territory. It would take forever, consume huge amounts of time, and almost assuredly lead to stalemate, just as this smaller discussion has. Sorry, I just don't have the energy. Hope you don't mind. Call me chicken if you must.

      But if I was to respond, I'd begin my research with a book published by Jehovah's Witnesses, whom I respect, entitled Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophesy. You can likely get one from JWs when they next visit. Possibly you have gone through it already. But that would narrow the subject down for you, at least insomuch as I'm concerned.

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    2. No, I would not call you chicken, but I am not sure if you can fully appreciate the irony of your reply, Tom.

      Just one reply before, you state "I don't even agree with you that the scriptures, in the main, are especially difficult to understand" and conclude that understanding Scriptures is a very easy task.

      In this reply, you recognize that there will be divergent views on Scriptural prophesy (unlike Jesus) and, instead of tackling the task yourself, you would rely on experts you trust to provide the interpretation, like "traditional scribal cultures."

      I wonder what makes you feel that people would have chosen any different course of action back then?

      Anyway, a parting recommendation for you is to read 2 Kings 22-23. In that chapter, you will find the tale about how the priests found the long-lost Book of the Law, and that it was a really big deal! Josiah read the entire Book of the Law to the people. That is just something to keep in mind before you attempt to use Deuteronomy 6:6-9 again to suggest anything close to everyone having Scriptures handy in their own houses for the purpose of teaching.

      Thanks for your time, Tom, and I wish you all the best.

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    3. Wise Fool:

      I'm not going to allow myself to get drawn into long conversation. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not.

      However...... :-)

      I didn't really say I would rely on experts I trust. I said I would begin my research with a certain source.

      Moreover, even as I wrote it, I suspected that "I don't even agree with you that the scriptures, in the main, are especially difficult to understand" might be opening up a can of worms. So let me qualify the statement:

      1) I take it back.

      2) You really aren't the typical recipient I had in mind. You have a vested interest in a certain position. I don't say your position is hogwash or nonsense or anything of the sort. You've certainly put much time, energy, and research into building what you have. I'm just not up to trying to wrench it apart brick by brick, as if that were somehow my place. I'm old enough to know, as probably you are, that anything complex can be presented in a positive or negative way. You have an agenda to paint biblical things in a negative way. I have one to paint them positively. We're not polar opposites. I suspect we would find common areas of agreement. But we are opposites in many respects.

      Yes, yes, I know about 2 Kings. That society ebbed and flowed. There were high and low points. If you have acknowledged not being 100% sure of all you say, so do I. And I will even concede that Jehovah's Witnesses are inclined to OzzieandHarrietize those ancient Israelites a bit. I mean, a guy that lies on his side with barely a stitch of clothes staring at a brick for weeks on end is not your typical family guy. There were strange doings back then, no two ways about it.

      Still, I don't see why they must be painted as cavemen or why, when all cylinders were firing, they wouldn't have reflected life as Prof Milliard states.

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    4. Fair enough Tom. :-) A couple of points to clarify:

      If I have portrayed the people in Jesus' time as "cavemen" then I have grossly overstepped my bounds. A lot of times in our modern society we have a tendency to equate illiterate with stupid, or backwards, or unsophisticated. The people back then were every bit as smart as we were. The Jews, in particular, had a remarkable oral tradition to transmit learning about God which far exceeds anything in our culture today. (Check into the history of the Talmud.) I suspect that they had pretty good knowledge of the Torah in general, probably due to that commission in Deuteronomy and that great oral tradition, but I have not seen evidence suggesting widespread distribution of Scripture, orally or otherwise, beyond the Torah. The books of the prophets and other writings were not part of the commission from Deuteronomy. From what I have seen so far, it appears to me that these other writings were primarily held in the synagogues, and some of their exact distribution appears to have been regional. (You must resist the urge to comment about this! LOL!)

      "You have an agenda to paint biblical things in a negative way."
      Maybe I am fooling myself, but I do not think I have that agenda at all.

      My first agenda is to get people reading the Bible for themselves, and I hope my posts and book summaries spark that interest.

      My second agenda is to try to take the Bible at its word and present it as such. Interpolating as little as possible, I try to read what it actually says; a perspective which is sorely lacking in the clergy in my experience. A classic example of over-interpolation is shown by a commenter on the previous post "Toss It to Their Dogs."

      Now, because I take it for what it says, I do run the risk of occasionally missing metaphorical meanings when they are not obviously intended. I also do not consider finding a contradiction as meaning that I have a faulty interpretation, which may also put me at some risk, but so far that approach has yielded a remarkably consistent image.

      Lastly, I do try to point out when there are good teachings and good philosophies, and I will readily and anxiously claim that there is a great deal of wisdom in the Bible which we can learn from. I do not feel it is all negative. And even the negative parts can contain lessons.

      Alright, Tom, thanks for the discussion! You are welcome to continue on, or to comment on any other post at any time. Take care,
      -TWF

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    5. Oh, and Tom sorry to go on about this but I stumbled across one more piece of evidence you may be interested in:

      The phrase "teachers of the law" is used 63 times in the Bible, all in the New Testament, 59 times in the Gospels, such as Matthew 2:4. This supports the theory of a scribal culture over that of a home-schooled Scripture learning.

      Cheers!

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  4. I may have been too hasty in assigning you an agenda. I've read and commented only on this one post. I'll try a few more, starting with Toss it to Their Dogs. It makes me wonder if you will refer to Tom Barfendogs, a guy who appears from time to time in my blog.

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  5. TWF:
    I think you should not that typically when this prophecy is utilized a 360-day year is assumed, based on references to a 1260 day period seeming to be equivocated with a three and one half year period ((3 times 360) plus 180 = 1260) in Daniel and in Revelations. These typically put the end of 69 'weeks' at least around the time of Jesus.

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  6. TWF:
    I think you should not that when the "weeks" prophecy is used a 360-day year is assumed based on the equivocation between a period of three-and-a-half years and 1260 days in Daniel and Revelations, possibly also the lunar calendar. This typically put the end of 69 weeks sometime in the lifetime of Jesus (when is based on premises, with the one I originally encountered concluding on the day of the "Triumphal Entry") with the last week pushed off until the very end times.

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  7. Thanks for the comment Felix. If you have got any other prophesy where God pauses a prophesy from occurring sequentially like He said it would happen, you might just have something. But given that there is no such reference case, that makes lunar versus solar calendars a little unimportant.

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  8. Off the top of my head, the closest thing that I can think of is the chiasmus interpretation of the prophecy of Tyre where the outer parts are regarded as destruction from Nebuchadnezzar and the inner parts with destruction from "many nations" (in this case typically taken to mean Alexander the Great's army). That said, I think the "gap" position has some warrant, at least here, as the order the events are written mention the destruction of the temple by the "people of the prince" and then states that sacrifices will be halted and and then an abomination, meaning it would have to be rebuilt so that it could be rebuilt after the former so that there would be sacrifices to cut off and a place for the "abomination" and time for wars and desolations.

    That said, I think the shorter year is worth mentioning for the Hebrew use of a lunar calendar alone,

    Daniel 9 is probably one of the messier texts in regards to both the number of interpretations and translations with the way the "weeks" and events are partitioned.

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  9. Hi Felix. I apologize, but I have got a lot on my plate in life right now (thus the terse response above), so, while I think I know which prophesy you are referring to, I am not certain, as I do not remember a timeline given on the prophesy I am thinking of.

    Would you mind citing the verse?

    Thanks

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  10. Ezekiel 26. Hope you do well with whatever is on your plate.

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  11. Felix, I applaud you for actually digging into the Bible. That is great! Keep it up!

    Ezekiel 26... I have summarized it as this in my chapter-by-chapter summaries:

    " On the first day of the month in the eleventh year, God told Ezekiel to prophesy against Tyre. Because Tyre rejoiced at the destruction of Jerusalem, God will send Babylon to utterly destroy them. They will be plundered, killed, and reduced to a flat rock. They will never be rebuilt. People all along the sea will lament its destruction. God will take them to the grave, and they will not return to the land of the living. They will never be found again."

    And, as you may know, Ezekiel 25-26 continue on against Tyre, although most Christian interpretations like to substitute Satan into the equation around there. Anyway...

    There is no timeline given in the prophesy, though it begins with a pronouncement of when the prophesy was given. I will spare you the secular scholarly interpretation of why that may be the case. ;-)

    Without a timeline, such as Daniel's weeks, or God's promise to Abraham, it is hard to say that this is a direct and applicable comparison.

    Complicating that matter for you even more is that the chapter's last verse is:

    "I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more. You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the Sovereign LORD." NIV

    Yet Jesus and Paul both managed to find Tyre.

    I would also challenge you by citing another Ezekiel prophesy, chapters 40-48. There you will find the establishment of an everlasting, terrestrial Temple, with the restoration of animal sacrifice. That is going to be a little difficult to reconcile with Jesus' one-sacrifice-takes-care-of-it-all-forever approach. Best wishes to you Felix.

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  12. TWF:
    I'm aware of both of those. On the point of the temple prophecy, the only interpretation that seemed to square well with Christian doctrine is that Ezekiel 40-48 was a very long conditional 'prophecy' for the exilic generation of the Hebrews hinging upon an 'if' in the passage that has long expired. That said I don't believe I'm particularly trying to convince you of this prophecy's validity, just make some comments on how I have heard the weeks prophecy interpreted, not being the best qualified to explain the reasoning put behind these interpretations. Presently I think I'm sitting very much on the "even the demons believe and tremble" side of belief and so, if I am motivated to convince from any idea, it's there.



    Thanks for responding again. It's great you keep up with this blog's comments. Hope, when you have more time, someone who has studied longer might have discussions with you, especially since the "Calvinist" interpretation played a role in your decisions regarding belief.

    Thanks again, hope things go well.

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  13. The only other resolution that I know is by having the prophecy declaring Tyre to be forever destroyed as centering on the presently ruined south of the island while the modern city is "Sur", taken as a separate city. This is probably a weaker argument.

    Another is that later rebuildings do not count as they were as a "Phoenician city-state" but as and by foreign powers such as Rome, the Crusaders, and the Caliphate.



    A "better" one is the talk of being lost never to be found and destroyed forever is simply ancient hyperbole to emphasize how much damage will be wrought.

    Quoting 'Tektonics.org'

    What then of "built no more"? Previously I followed the appeals that went as far as using Mulsim Crusaders as fulfillment, but I now see than as unnecessary. It is here where I now bring in specific insights learned from observation of ancient use of hyperbole, especially in oracles of war. Consider first this statement from Ramesses III:

    I slew the Denyon in their islands, while the Tjekker and Philistines were made ashes. The Sherden and the Washesh of the sea were made non-existent, captured all together and brought on captivity to Egypt like the sands of the shore.
    Ramesses speaks of the Sherden and Washesh being "made non-existent" but then goes on to say that they were captured. Is this contradictory? Of course not. The "made non-existent" part is manifestly "trash talk". In the Victory Stele of Merneptah, we also see trash talk like, "Ashkelon is conquered, Gezer seized, Yanoam made nonexistent..."

    Clearly literal descriptions (conquered, seized) are mixed with clearly metaphorical ones (made non-existent), and that is what I now argue we have here. The threat to be "built no more" is trash talk like that of Ramesses speaking of his non-existent, captured people.

    In fact, Ezekiel goes on a skein of what we now regard as "trash talk" in the next several verses:


    Islands shaking and trembling at the sound of a fall, the princes descending from their thrones and sitting in dust (signifying actually the fear of other nations over Tyre's conquest); the figures of desolation and of water flowing over, and descent into a dungeon -- all of these bespeak ancient "trash talk" and threats like that of turning Edom's streams into pitch (Is. 34:9).

    Therefore there is no need for my previous arguments with respect to the identities of the ancient and modern cities, or never "finding" the city again. Ezekiel does not predict a permanent destruction but uses the ancient metaphors of war to describe the seriousness of Tyre's predicament."

    This latter reasoning, however, I'm certain will be found deficient as the quotation of the Stele is not entirely congruous to the primary statement in question.
    It would be nice if there were some greater concensus.

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  14. The only other resolution that I know is by having the prophecy declaring Tyre to be forever destroyed as centering on the presently ruined south of the island while the modern city is "Sur", taken as a separate city. This is probably a weaker argument.

    Another is that later rebuildings do not count as they were as a "Phoenician city-state" but as and by foreign powers such as Rome, the Crusaders, and the Caliphate.



    A "better" one is the talk of being lost never to be found and destroyed forever is simply ancient hyperbole to emphasize how much damage will be wrought.

    Quoting 'Tektonics.org'

    What then of "built no more"? Previously I followed the appeals that went as far as using Mulsim Crusaders as fulfillment, but I now see than as unnecessary. It is here where I now bring in specific insights learned from observation of ancient use of hyperbole, especially in oracles of war. Consider first this statement from Ramesses III:

    I slew the Denyon in their islands, while the Tjekker and Philistines were made ashes. The Sherden and the Washesh of the sea were made non-existent, captured all together and brought on captivity to Egypt like the sands of the shore.
    Ramesses speaks of the Sherden and Washesh being "made non-existent" but then goes on to say that they were captured. Is this contradictory? Of course not. The "made non-existent" part is manifestly "trash talk". In the Victory Stele of Merneptah, we also see trash talk like, "Ashkelon is conquered, Gezer seized, Yanoam made nonexistent..."

    Clearly literal descriptions (conquered, seized) are mixed with clearly metaphorical ones (made non-existent), and that is what I now argue we have here. The threat to be "built no more" is trash talk like that of Ramesses speaking of his non-existent, captured people.

    In fact, Ezekiel goes on a skein of what we now regard as "trash talk" in the next several verses:


    Islands shaking and trembling at the sound of a fall, the princes descending from their thrones and sitting in dust (signifying actually the fear of other nations over Tyre's conquest); the figures of desolation and of water flowing over, and descent into a dungeon -- all of these bespeak ancient "trash talk" and threats like that of turning Edom's streams into pitch (Is. 34:9).

    Therefore there is no need for my previous arguments with respect to the identities of the ancient and modern cities, or never "finding" the city again. Ezekiel does not predict a permanent destruction but uses the ancient metaphors of war to describe the seriousness of Tyre's predicament."

    This latter reasoning, however, I'm certain will be found deficient as the quotation of the Stele is not entirely congruous to the primary statement in question.
    It would be nice if there were some greater concensus.

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  15. Sorry for so many. "unmotivated" responses.

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  16. Felix, thanks for the replies. Sorry for the delay. I do not sensor any objections to my conjectures, but I have had to put on comment moderation to handle the SPAM which still makes it by Google's filter. For some reason it always seems to be the nastiest stuff that slips by, and so I am erring on the side of caution. Thanks for tolerating the moderation. Also note that I am traveling around a lot, so it will be difficult at times to reply, or even to approve your comments, in a timely fashion.

    May I suggest to you that the Ezekiel 40-48 Temple prophesy is not so easily swept aside? As I recall, there is indeed at least one spot, if not more, later on in the prophesy with a qualifying if. Indeed, consideration of "if" is critical to understanding many prophesies, such as the most infamously overlooked "ifs" (in my book ;-) regarding David's throne of 1 Kings 2:4, 1 Kings 8:25, etc., with the "for ever" essentially being defined in verses like Proverbs 29:14. I am sorry. I digressed. It is so easy to do here. Where was I... oh yes. If. If the prophetic offer was made by God in earnest (which would necessarily be the case based on God's attributes, right?), then truly Jesus' blood was not necessary, and philosophies built around verses such as Hebrews 10:4 crumble apart. For if this Temple could have gone on forever with ritualistic sacrifice of animals for the explicit purpose of atonement, it proves that Jesus' blood was not necessary, and that the blood of animals can take away sin. Not to mention, there are the several odd theological questions which center around God making a plan and offer which He knew would be impossible for us mortals to keep... So, while one can, with some level of justification, simply explain that this is not a failed prophesy because it was an offer contingent upon acceptance and adherence by the Israelites (and they did not keep up their end of the bargain), there are larger issues which the mere presence of the Holy offer creates.

    As for the trash talking, it is definitely a valid point, but it comes with an unintended consequence. The quote you provided said"

    "Ezekiel does not predict a permanent destruction but uses the ancient metaphors of war to describe the seriousness of Tyre's predicament.

    At first glance, this looks perfectly logical, but what you have to realize is that this is an implicit confirmation that the language being used in the Bible was nothing more than the language that was being used at the time, and that makes it a very difficult case to argue that it really does have a divine origin. I mean, this is God we are talking about. I would expect a notable difference. A hip hop artist and a scientist may speak the same language, but I would expect them to express that your life is in immanent peril using very different words. Is that reasonable?

    Of course, there are other philosophical angles I could argue too, like if "never" is hyperbole, how do you have any assurance that "eternal" is in fact eternal and not just a long time, like I spent an eternity in line at the DMV. :-) The more certain the words are to mean what they say, the more reliable God's Word is, and visa versa.

    Best wishes.

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  17. In my head I was thinking if this temple were be built it would only be incidental to the death of Christ as the actual second temple was that Old Tsestament texts set in the post-exile period (Zechariah and Haggai, in particular) of Israel present as being constructed at YHWH's command. The Israel presented in Ezekiel 40-48 does, however, appear more difficult to square away with the New Testament interpretation of Old Testament prophecies (that is, Christ being killed at all in such an Israel).

    On your second point I am somewhat undecided. I would think whether or not what the words stated would come to pass would be more important in determining if there was the message of a divine figure. The language would simply be an accession to the people of a period for the sake of understanding or simply to speak in a way to resonant with the listeners. To bounce off your analogy, the difference between a scientist writing a paper for his peers and a book for pulp consumption both dealing with the same subject. If there seems to be circularity in this, please point it out.

    Best wishes to you, too. Sorry for my messy commenting.

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  18. Hi Felix.

    Funny that I messed up with the homophone last time... sensor versus censor. :-)

    I would not go so far as to say that Jesus absolutely could not be woven into the Ezekiel 40-48 Temple (and many faithful scholars have tried that!), but there are some peculiarities with such an approach. You mention it being difficult for Jesus to have been killed in such a Jerusalem. Knowing the prophesies, my impression is that I am not certain that would be such a restriction, but that is a whole other discussion! Other potentially weird things include for example:

    - Presumably, you are fine with the interpretation that this is a terrestrial, earth-based eternal kingdom, meaning that you take the New Heaven/New Earth in Revelation (and Isaiah) to be metaphorical. (This comes into play with God's knowing the end from the beginning...)

    - You have God restricting access to Himself.

    - You have God's restriction on uncircumcised Gentiles gaining access to the Sanctuary.

    - Restrictions on sweaty clothes

    - You have the Zadok lineage being the exclusive priests.

    - You have God holding an eternal grudge against the other Levites

    - Keeping the Sabbaths (Obviously that may not be a big deal to you, depending on your denomination.)

    (For reference, all but the first point are in Ezekiel 44. There more oddities beyond this chapter.)

    So, for me, I have put all of this information together and come up with the conclusion that while it may be possible to work Jesus into the Ezekiel Temple, it just does not seem very likely. In many ways, Christianity offers the antithesis of what is represented in these chapters.

    The best argument I can give you in support of the Ezekiel Temple prophesy is that God gave that prophesy in order to create a certain reaction in His people in order to orchestrate some master plan. However, I am sure you can see how such an approach sets off a red flag for skeptics.

    As for the language, indeed, God would need to speak at some lower vernacular level in order to be understood. Yet I do not think that is a sufficiently strong. (Not that my argument is at all conclusive either!) For example, Neil deGrasse Tyson could easily spin off into territory way over my head, but he has a wonderful skill of being able to articulate complex topics in a manner which are easier to be comprehended. Yet, all the while, you can tell Neil is a pretty smart dude, and he uses vocabulary with a distinction from the "common folk."

    No need to apologize about the comments. :-)

    By the way, back to what you were originally referring to, the lunar/solar calendar thing, that gets really complicated. You likely know that there are adjustments made every so often to keep the seasons in the correct spot on the lunar calendar. As I remember researching this post, different denominations used different counting standards, and it all got really too complex to wrap up into this one post. So I avoided it. You may notice that in the "The Times" section, I just referenced what specific denominations suggested as the dates, letting them decide which calendar to use. :-)

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  19. TWF:

    On the point of language I should have specified. In the case of the scientist writing in a paper, the language would be technical and figurative speech limited, while in the case of the popular book, the language used would be somewhat looser yet still accurate. However, attempting to read the latter sort of text as the form would result in an incorrect reading of idioms, figures of speech, etc.. This would also hold if a reader from a significantly different population read the same popular book, because they would likely not understand and so misinterpret idioms, etc. even if they read the reader was literate in the book's language.

    What would be integral to ascertaining whether the writer was a competent scientist, however, would be if the information was accurate--at least in relation to scientific understanding at the time of the work's writing--only when reading a given work as the correct sort of work and not as another sort (i.e. not reading an idiom as a technical statement, not reading a British turn-of-phrase or slang stiffly). The reason I pointed out circularity, however, is that one reason a figurative reading is advanced in this case is because--if the prophecy is stating Tyre will will never be rebuilt and Tyre was the city which covered the whole island--there is a Tyre at present and determining whether or not the source being divine is dependent on determining whether or not the prophecy came true (here being the equivalent of the scientist being known to be competent based on whether or not he presents accurate science), which is naturally dependent on the interpretation of phrases such as "forever".

    If I want to be technical on my (I think) unorthodox interpretation of the Ezekiel temple prophecy, it is only stated that God will dwell in the temple forever and, even if the grudge against non-Zadokite preserves in the form of disallowing them from serving as the priests, it is not stated that the priesthood must. Or, alternatively, I might argue forever is used of actually temporary situations. For example, although a slave may vow to serve his master forever, it is obvious that a slave will eventually die and so cannot serve forever.

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  20. A better example however, may be in this following passage from Leviticus 17 (ESV):
    1And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them, This is the thing that the
    Lord has commanded. 3If any one of the house of Israel kills an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or kills it outside the camp, 4and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord, bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people. 5This is to the end that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. 6And the priest shall throw the blood on the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 7So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore.

    8“And you shall say to them, Any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice 9and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it to the Lord, that man shall be cut off from his people.

    Here is an emphatic statement that the Isrealites will "forever" and "throughout their generations" be required to bring their sacrifices to the tent of meeting, also would demonstrate a transient use of even emphatic terms as the tent of meeting was eventually done away with. Thus "forever" can mean "not forever" or "until a given order of things is no more". So, when the Tent of Meeting was done away with and there was a temple where sacrifices were to be offered, the seemingly everlasting regulation was done away with. Thus a given situation lasting "forever" (such as God dwelling in Ezekiel's temple or his everlasting grudge against non-Zadokite's or even a period in which men live under the law that is said to be perfect and endure forever) may not, at least in the language of the Old Testament.

    As for the the terrestial/earth-based kingdom, I think a widespread Christian interpretation is the New Heavens and New Earth in Isaiah represent the 1000-year Messianic range, which will then be followed by a final judgment and the creation of a an actually new heavens and earth which will also feature a terrestrial reign, but actually enduring without end with each man in a final state (the saved and unsaved in their respective states of glory and pleasure, and shame and suffering).

    In regards to the Ezekiel temple being antithetical to Christian understanding apart from "forever" talk, I don't feel it's particularly more stringent or incongruous than the procedure of the first temple and tent of meeting.

    Thank you for responding, hope I typed what I meant comprehensibly.

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  21. Thanks for the comment Felix. I appreciate your opinion, even though I disagree with it. ;-)

    (By the way, I was wondering how long it would take you to point out the Tyre ruins. In some ways, it is a valid argument, yet it fails in others, and whatever bias one has for Tyre, one finds the answer one seeks.)

    I could probably spend a good few hours elaborating on all of the various nuances of issues throughout the Ezekiel 40-48 prophecy, but I am not sure that would be beneficial to either of us at this point. In fact, I would really like to expand into other prophesies, and paint a cohesive picture for you of what was really going on, but its been my experience such discussions online tend to meander around a little too much to truly be valuable to either party.

    You have made about as strong a case as one can make in a short space. In my opinion, your argument does not fully consider the context which better defines whether or not "forever" means until "until God changes His mind" or actually forever.

    Take, for example, your example. You pasted in Leviticus 17:1-9 ESV, but it appears from your argument below it that you were referencing a different version, as you quoted "forever" and "throughout their generations" even though the ESV verses do not use those words. One can only presume that the ESV authors interpreted the original Hebrew sources, or perhaps their Latin sources, such that different words were better suited to the intended meaning.

    Then, of course, is the form of argument that many Christians are familiar with regarding the Law. What is the "spirit" of that ordinance? Is it really about bringing the sacrifice to a certain place, or is it instead trying to ensure that the Israelites do not fall back into their pagan practices again? Leviticus 17:7 in NIV would seem to support that latter case:

    "They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.'"

    Indeed, one could easily follow the spirit of this law forever, despite not being able to follow the letter of the law given a Tabernacle/Temple issue.

    So, as best as I can offer, I would suggest that you take some elevated degree of caution in evaluating the Ezekiel 40-48 eternal references with the mindset that "because it would not match New Testament information, it must be a kind of 'temporary forever'."

    Indeed, visa-versa would apply to an overly hasty evaluation on my part as well. However, I do have what I believe to be a more solid foundation; the rest of the Old Testament. Even your own words implicitly recognize that the unchanging God of the Bible has changed, as you acknowledged the differences:

    "In regards to the Ezekiel temple being antithetical to Christian understanding apart from "forever" talk, I don't feel it's particularly more stringent or incongruous than the procedure of the first temple and tent of meeting."

    I know, I know. It is a dispensational thing. Different strategies for different times, each serving their purpose. ;-)

    Maybe so. It does not appear to me that the text supports that, but maybe so. I have been wrong before...

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion here! Feel free to comment anytime on any of the posts. Best wishes!

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  22. "1,000 year Messianic ", sorry

    TWF:

    Sorry, I failed to paste that part, had trouble chopping my response into two.

    "And the priest shall throw the blood on the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 7So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations."

    I had a feeling that would be your response, as it appears to be a fairly valid interpretation to say the ban on sacrifices to goat demons/idols. I, however, took it the other way because after stating that an ordinance lasting forever, the text immediately after states that the Israelites are to bring their sacrifices to the Tent of Meeting or face the penalty of being cut off. Thus I think the statements saying that the Israelites shall bring their sacrifices to the Tent and shall no more sacrifice to goat demons/idols as a regulation followed by an explanation for why. Moreover, the section begins by saying "This is the thing that the LORD has commanded" and then states the Israelites are to bring anything they kill "outside the camp" to the Tent of Meeting. Beyond this, sectioning the this chapter into two--concerning a single permanent injunction proscribing that all sacrifices are to be brought to the Tent of Meeting--results in the passage flowing better, not resulting in an orphaned ban on sacrifices to goat idols sandwiched between two injunction to bring sacrifices to the Tent of Meeting. Thus there is v. 3 command, v. 4 consequence for defiance, v. 5 reasoning/purpose, v. 6 explication, v. 7 reasoning, v. 8-9 reiteration of command an consequence, extending it also to "sojourners".

    Alternatively, I may state that because God has made statements banning both sacrifices not being taken to the Tent of Meeting and against sacrificing to Goat idols, both are part of the Law of God. Yet the Law of God is forever and there is an injunction neither to add or subtract from it. Thus, it would seem that every ordinance is to last forever itself. Yet one ordinance (requiring sacrifices be brought to the Tent of Meeting) is distinctly transient, only to last as long as there is a Tent and not a Temple. Thus although each command is to last forever, at least one command does not; if one, then why not more? (Mind you, I'm not sure this idea rightly represents Christian theology)

    Thank you for responding again, hope things go well for you.

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  23. No problem, Felix. Copy and paste errors get the best of us. Thanks for the correction.

    One point I forgot to mention last time: check out http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/isaiah/mhc/isaiah65.htm. By clicking on the different names, you can get many various takes on Isaiah 65. I will let you decide how widespread the Millennial interpretation is. :-)

    I normally try to shy away from the type of defense I am about to use, because it is inherently difficult to accept for a believer, but I think it really explains what is happening in this particular set of Leviticus verses.

    If you know anything about the construction of the Old Testament, you know that it was subject to many revisions and this particular section came to its final form well after the Israelites had left the Tabernacle. My suggestion would be that the verbiage here was written by an author with the Temple in mind. So when the author was writing "forever" and "throughout their generations", it was because that is how the author perceived what would (or should) be going on with the Temple, and that author had no concept of Jesus coming into the mix at a later date.

    In fact, I would further suggest that this Temple-mindset is somewhat intuitive, as we know that this law transferred applicability to the Temple upon its construction.

    So I would venture to say that this was nothing more than the author either anachronistically writing Temple requirements into the Tabernacle story line, or the author simply writing it with the perspective of knowing the requirements directly applied to the Temple through an inherent, implicit transference of laws from Tabernacle to Temple. Furthermore, based on this perspective, I would suggest that the author really did have forever in mind.

    Speaking of the Law, may I suggest reading my study on God's opinion of His Law? I think you may find it interesting, even if you do not agree with my conclusion. ;-) It is a completely different format than my other posts. There is no real challenge or questioning what is in the text. It is just a comprehensive look at the Law as portrayed in the Old Testament.

    Best wishes!

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  24. TWF:
    Figure I might throw another Tyre argument your way for when you have time: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/12/07/Ezekiel-261-14-A-Proof-Text-For-Inerrancy-or-Fallibility-of-The-Old-Testament.aspx#Article

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  25. TWF:
    Sorry just want to make sure my comment worked: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/12/07/Ezekiel-261-14-A-Proof-Text-For-Inerrancy-or-Fallibility-of-The-Old-Testament.aspx#Article

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  26. TWF:
    Although I don't have an exact timeline case, I think in there are parallels in the prophetic utterances of destruction and restoration such as in Hosea 11 (ESV):

    5They shall notb return to the land of Egypt,
    but Assyria shall be their king,
    because they have refused to return to me.
    6The sword shall rage against their cities,
    consume the bars of their gates,
    and devour them because of their own counsels.
    7My people are bent on turning away from me,
    and though they call out to the Most High,
    he shall not raise them up at all.

    8How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
    How can I hand you over, O Israel?
    How can I make you like Admah?
    How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
    My heart recoils within me;
    my compassion grows warm and tender.
    9I will not execute my burning anger;
    I will not again destroy Ephraim;
    for I am God and not a man,
    the Holy One in your midst,
    and I will not come in wrath.c

    10They shall go after the Lord;
    he will roar like a lion;
    when he roars,
    his children shall come trembling from the west;
    11they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
    and like doves from the land of Assyria,
    and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord.
    12d Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
    and the house of Israel with deceit,
    but Judah still walks with God
    and is faithful to the Holy One.

    May all go well with you,
    Felix Zamora

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  27. TWF:

    On the Tyre issue, did I remember to submit this link?: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/12/07/Ezekiel-261-14-A-Proof-Text-For-Inerrancy-or-Fallibility-of-The-Old-Testament.aspx

    Part of the argument presented here is that when it says Tyre will not be built again, it would be fair to say it would not be "built up" again to its former glory. That said, I would recommend going through the whole before responding. I probably could not put their argument as well.

    May all be well with you,
    Felix Zamora

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  28. Hi Felix,

    Not a bad selection of "gap" prophesies, but they are not quite parallels to the Daniel weeks, largely because they don't have declared timelines, which makes them difficult to compare as a likeness.

    Tyre is a odd case, with an apparent retraction, and much later fulfillment to some degree.

    Hosea 11 almost has an implied timeline in it, given its talk of being conquered, and then later God calling back the diaspora. It would "feel" unrealistic to expect this to occur within, say, a year. So tens of years, or maybe a hundred or two, would be a better fit of expectancy based on the prophesy, (at least in my opinion).

    But Daniel's weeks are given as one solid "chunk" of prophesy; "Seventy 'sevens'". The first 69 sevens have already happened (at least according to all faithful interpretations I know of), and did so sequentially. Yet with each passing day, we draw closer to being a full 2000 years from the completion of that final "seven". It just appears to be a little unbelievable to me, especially when coupled to the other collective contrary evidence.

    Best wishes. And I am finally caught up! Feel free to comment.

    -TWF

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