Why I Believe Jews Are God’s Chosen People


I believe Jews are God’s chosen people, and in this post I’d like to explain why I believe this. Jews are described very well in Peter’s first epistle:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Indeed, Jews are called out, chosen, made holy, have received God’s mercy, and are walking as light in the midst of darkness. Here are a couple more passages which mention and describe God’s chosen people:

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined* according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).

Therefore, as the elect* of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

*Some translations use the word “chosen” here.

Would you agree that each of the above passages describe Jews? Why not? After all, the apostle Paul, an ethnic Jew, says that true Jews are those whose hearts have been circumcised:

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

Statements abound on the internet, made by Christians, claiming that all Jews are God’s chosen people, and by this they mean ethnic Jews. This flies in the face of what Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly.” On the other hand, Paul affirms who really is a Jew: “…but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit.”

Only those who are circumcised in heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can live out the callings of God’s chosen people described in I Peter 2, Ephesians 1, and Colossians 3. Are some ethnic Jews part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes. Is this true of all ethnic Jews, or even a majority of them? No. Are some non-Jews (ethnically speaking) part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes.

Notice the verses immediately preceding Colossians 3:12 where Paul speaks of God’s chosen (or elect) people. He says that God’s people “have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11). He then goes on to say, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved…” God’s chosen ones are simply those who are in Christ, and ethnicity is not a factor at all.

Circumcision of the flesh (a major identifying trait of ethnic Jews) is meaningless under the new covenant, and meaningless when it comes to the role and identity of God’s chosen people:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love… For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 5:6, 6:15-16).

Remember that true Jews, Paul says, are those who are circumcised in their hearts. And Paul says elsewhere, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…” (Philippians 3:3).

Ultimately, why is it that God’s chosen people are chosen today? It’s because we are in Jesus, and Jesus is the chosen One!

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:1).

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘” (Matthew 3:16-17).

The following passages further demonstrate why all ethnic Jews are not God’s chosen people, but why all who are in Christ are God’s chosen people:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire‘” (Matthew 3:7-10).

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12).

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.’ …They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.’ …You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:19, 39, 44). 

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people’” (Acts 3:22-23).

How can those who are in outer darkness, who don’t receive Jesus (God’s chosen One), whose father is the devil, and who are “utterly destroyed from among the people” — how can they be God’s chosen people? And how is it that thousands of Christians are ready to roll out the accusation of “replacement theology” as soon as someone says that Christians are God’s chosen people? It’s a phenomenon of our time.

To Review

1. God’s chosen people are a holy nation, called out of darkness into God’s light, proclaim God’s praises, have obtained mercy, have an inheritance, and are called and empowered to obey Christ’s commands.

2. Ethnic Jews, who are only outwardly Jews or circumcised in the flesh, are not Jews in the eyes of God. Those who are circumcised in their hearts are Jews inwardly, and are Jews in the eyes of God.

3. Among God’s chosen people, there “is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised,” and all that matters is being made a new creation in Christ.

4. The circumcised in heart, who Paul says are Jews in the eyes of God, are those who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Jesus Christ.

5. All ethnic Jews (and others) who reject Jesus are children of the devil and not Abraham, are in outer darkness, do not know the Father, and are utterly cut off from God’s people.

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Why I Embrace Christian Zionism


There was a time when I was a stranger to Christian Zionism. I was on the outside, I was in the darkness, and I was very much missing out on the blessings found in Christian Zionism. Then God, in His mercy, added me to the family, and to the number of those who have embraced Christian Zionism for the last 2000 years. I haven’t been the same since!

The author of Hebrews described this great transformation about 1950 years ago to his audience at the time, members of the early church:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

I am a Christian Zionist because I am a Christian who has been brought to the heavenly Mount Zion, the one that is connected to the heavenly Jerusalem, to Jesus as our Mediator, to the body of Christ, and to the new covenant. This Zionism is glorious, and it’s all about the blessings and promises found in Jesus.

At the same time, I’m not a Christian Zionist. It all depends upon the definition, and one’s covenant perspective. I’m not a Christian Zionist if one goes by the following definitions:

[1] Zionists seek to support, facilitate and advance the return of the Jewish people and sovereignty to their native homeland–the land of Israel. Christians who see the regathering of the Jewish people in their land, as well as the establishment of the sovereign nation of Israel in 1948, as the literal fulfillment of biblical prophecy are known as “Christian Zionists”. Christian Zionists see the Jewish people as the “apple of God’s eye”–His Chosen people, and hold firm that God’s promises, established in the Abrahamic Covenant, remain in effect today.

Christian Zionists are “Biblical advocates” for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Furthermore, they stand in firm, diametrical opposition to land concessions of any sort which involve the forfeiture of the holy land of Israel as it is a sacred manifestation of the promises of God to the people He calls the “apple of His eye”. Christian Zionists also seek to stand with Israel, showing her unconditional support, solidarity and love whilst praying for her spiritual return to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who “foreknew” her.

Mikael Knighton, Christians Standing With Israel, 2007 (Source)

[2] “Zionism [is] the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel… Jews of all persuasions, left and right, religious and secular, joined to form the Zionist movement and worked together toward these goals. Disagreements led to rifts, but ultimately, the common goal of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland was attained. The term “Zionism” was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum.” (Jewish Virtual Library).

If Zionism is the belief in the Jewish people’s right to return to their homeland, then a Christian Zionist should simply be defined as a Christian who supports the Jewish people’s right to return to their homeland… The actual theology of Christian Zionism, also known as Biblical Zionism, supports the right of the Jewish people to return to their homeland on scriptural grounds… Christian Zionism is confirmed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures… Christian Zionism differs with Replacement Theology which teaches that the special relationship that Israel had with her God in terms of her national destiny and her national homeland has been lost because of her rejection of Jesus as Messiah, and therefore the Church has become the new Israel.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Vice-chairman of the Board, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, “Christian Zionism 101 – Giving Definition to the Movement.” (Source)

[3] “Christian Zionism is a belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy.”

Wikipedia, March 2014 (Source)

John Hagee, the founder of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), is recognized as a well-known leader in this movement known as Christian Zionism. CUFI’s theme verse is Isaiah 62:1. “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, til her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” (Source) It doesn’t take much digging around to understand how Hagee interprets this verse and applies it to the present day. Shhh – don’t tell him that righteousness and salvation have been shining out from Jesus and His church like a blazing torch for the last 2000 years!

Earthly or Heavenly Zion?

You may have already noticed how incredibly preoccupied the Christian Zionist movement is with earthly Zion (Israel). This movement is heavily invested in political/earthly Israel, political/earthly Jerusalem, and the old covenant. This is essentially where this movement goes off track.

Did you notice the very first word in the passage from Hebrews early in this post? It’s a mere conjunction, but it’s very important. It’s the word “but.”

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”

Through a basic language rule, we know that the author of Hebrews is contrasting something he said earlier. Let’s take a look at the previous few verses:

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling” (Hebrews 12:18-21).

What did he describe here? He described the scene at Mount Sinai where the law code and the old covenant was given to the people of Israel through Moses. The following contrast is shown:

Mount Sinai = physical (able to be touched), earthly, old covenant…
Mount Zion = spiritual (not able to be touched), heavenly, new covenant…

In light of this passage, how does the Christian Zionist movement align itself? Where does it stand in light of what Paul says in Galatians 4:21-31?

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

The Christian Zionist movement has hijacked both terms that it carries, “Christian” and “Zionism.” For decades it has tried to tell the world that Christians are obsessed with a certain land, a certain country, a certain city, a certain race of people, and a Zion that is of this world. It has suppressed new covenant truths, such as God not showing favoritism to one race over others (e.g. Romans 10:12), and has promoted and financially supported injustice and ethnic cleansing, all in the name of Christianity and before the eyes of a watching world.

Biblical Zionism, according to Galatians 4 and Hebrews 12, is aligned with heavenly Jerusalem, Jesus as our Mediator, His church, His shed blood, transformed hearts, freedom, God’s promises, and the new covenant.

This is the Christian Zionism that I embrace.

Echoes of Mount Sinai in the Book of Revelation


Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”

What point(s) did John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wish to get across to his initial readers when he distributed the book of Revelation to seven churches in first century Asia Minor? What themes are weaved through the book? In considering these questions, keep in mind that the full title of the book is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Proposal: One of the Holy Spirit’s aims in Revelation is to guide the early church in navigating the transition period from one covenant (the old) to the next (the new), especially as that period was drawing to a close. This period lasted roughly 40 years (30 AD – 70 AD, parallel to the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.

Basis (one of several): The same imagery that was present at the giving of the law, the old covenant, is echoed several times in the book of Revelation (4:5, 8:5, 11:19, and 16:18). This post will highlight these passages and their significance.

Parallel Scripture Passage:In that He says, ‘a new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13, 1st century AD).

Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai

Just before examining these passages in Revelation, let’s look at Exodus 19, the passage I believe they echo:

In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly  (Exodus 19:1-18).

So we see that God reminded them of how He bore the people of Israel “on eagles’ wings”* out of Egypt and to Himself. God was establishing a covenant with them at this time, and He called them to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”** This gathering was marked by thundering and lightning, the sound of a loud trumpet, thick smoke, and the whole mountain quaking greatly.

*Compare to Revelation 12:13-14, where the persecuted womanwas given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”

**Compare this with John’s opening greeting to the seven churches, where he says that Jesus “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6).

Four Passages That Echo Mount Sinai in Revelation

The same cosmic phenomena present at Mount Sinai are seen again in the book of Revelation. Observe the following passages, with some brief notes on their likely significance:

1. Revelation 4:4-5

Around the throne were 24 thrones, and on the thrones I saw 24 elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

As we noted in our study of Revelation 4, the 24 elders may very well “depict the 12 patriarchs of Israel and the 12 apostles, who represent the redeemed of both covenants now united in Christ.” This seems to be substantiated by the names of the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles found written on the gates and walls of the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12-14). So it appears that this covenant-establishing imagery takes place in the presence of elders representing both the old and the new covenant ages.

2. Revelation 8:4-6

And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

This scene takes place at the opening of the seventh and final seal (Rev. 8:1). An angel with a golden censer offers the prayers of the saints, along with incense, upon the altar before God’s throne (verse 3). We proposed in our study of Rev. 8 that these prayers are linked to the cries of the martyrs for God to avenge their “blood on those who dwell on the earth” – Rev. 6:10 (see this post for a more complete study on this subject). It seems likely that the seal judgments are poured out in response to the prayers of God’s people. Therefore, the covenant-establishing imagery of Mount Sinai appears here because the prayers of the new covenant community were about to result in the old covenant system reaching its demise.

3. Revelation 11:19

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

Just as the scene we examined in Rev. 8 takes place at the opening of the seventh seal, this scene takes place at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Loud voices declare, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” The 24 elders are present at this scene (Rev. 11:15-16).

In verse 19 we see probably the most explicit reference connecting the old covenant to the prophecies in the book of Revelation. John sees a vision of God’s temple housing “the ark of His covenant.” In ancient Israel, the ark of the covenant was a centerpiece of the temple and the old covenant. Located in the Most Holy Place, it represented God’s presence: “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel” (Exodus 25:21-22). For further significance, see Numbers 7:89, 10:33-35; Joshua 3:13, 7:6-11; Judges 20:27; II Samuel 6:2; II Kings 19:15; Psalm 28:2, 80:1.

When the dust settles from the barrage of judgments in Revelation, what does heaven shout? “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). This did not suddenly become true because some buildings fell in 70 AD. Remember that Paul told the Corinthian church this was already their reality and that they were “the temple of the living God” (II Cor. 6:16). The downfall of Israel, Jerusalem, and the temple in 70 AD, however, did remove the far less glorious old covenant system which competed against, and greatly opposed, this reality. It was a stunning and vivid demonstration that God had chosen the glorious new covenant over the inferior old covenant (see Hebrews 8). This was the time for rewarding God’s “servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear [His] name, small and great” (Rev. 11:18).

Several verses earlier, John witnesses an actual earthquake that kills 7000 people in“the city” (Rev. 11:13), already identified in verse 8 as Jerusalem (“the great city…where also our Lord was crucified“). As we noted in our study of Revelation 11, Josephus records one awful night in early 68 AD when “a prodigious storm” took place in Jerusalem, marked by “the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake.” Josephus adds that the Jewish zealots allowed the Idumaeans to come in and help them slaughter some of their fellow Jews who opposed their rebellion against the Romans. Between this slaughter and the earthquake, 8500 people died that night (Josephus, Wars 4:4:5, 4:4:7-4:5:1).

4. Revelation 16:17-21

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon meneach hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. 

Just as the scene we examined in Rev. 8 takes place at the opening of the seventh seal, and the scene in Rev. 11 takes place at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, this scene takes place at the pouring out of the seventh bowl.

John sees the great city, Jerusalem, divided into three parts. As we noted in our study of Revelation 16, this is a flashback to Ezekiel 5:1-12, when the prophet was required to shave his head and divide it into three parts, and was told by God: “This is Jerusalem” (Ezek 5:5).  One third of his hair was burned, one third was chopped up by the sword, and the last third was scattered into the wind. This was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. at the hands of Babylon, and Josephus records the same tragedies in 70 AD at the hands of Rome (1.1 million Jews killed by the sword or by fire, and all the survivors exiled or sold into slavery). Jerusalem was also divided between 67-70 AD into three warring factions: [1] the Zealots, led by Eleazar [2] the Galileans, led by John of Gischala, and [3] the Idumeans, led by Simon.

Just as an actual deadly earthquake took place as foretold in Rev. 11, actual hail – “about the weight of a talent” (i.e. 75 – 100 pounds) – also fell as foretold in Rev. 16. Josephus wrote of large stones shot from catapults by the Roman armies into the temple complex in Jerusalem, which the watchmen in the city reported as appearing white in the sky:

“Now the stones that were cast were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two furlongs and further. The blow they gave was no way to be sustained, not only by those that stood first in the way, but by those that were beyond them for a great space. As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came by its brightness” (Josephus, Wars 5:6:3).

Josephus also records that the watchmen on the wall, when they saw the stones coming, would shout, “The Son cometh!” After a while the Romans learned to blacken the stones so that they couldn’t as easily be detected, and many more were crushed by these stones. J. Stuart Russell, in his 1878 book titled The Parousia, offers this explanation for the words of the watchmen (p. 482):

“It could not but be well known to the Jews that the great hope and faith of the Christians was the speedy coming of the Son. It was about this very time, according to Hegesippus [110-180 AD], that St. James, the brother of our Lord, publicly testified in the temple that ‘the Son of man was about to come in the clouds of heaven,’ and then sealed his testimony with his blood [in 62 AD]. It seems highly probable that the Jews, in their defiant and desperate blasphemy, when they saw the white mass hurtling though the air, raised the ribald cry, ‘The Son is coming,’ in mockery of the Christian hope of the Parousia.”

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In his book, “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” Steve Gregg also sees the connection between Mount Sinai and Revelation, as he shares concerning Rev. 4 (p. 88):

“The lightnings, thundering and voices (v. 5) recall Mount Sinai, where God first established His covenant with Israel [Exodus 19:16; cf. Rev. 8:5, 11:19]. Similar phenomena are mentioned here to suggest the end of that covenant and its replacement with another. The writer of Hebrews (citing Hag. 2) likened the overthrow of the first covenant (publicly demonstrated by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70) to the time of its establishment at Sinai, but the latter would be accompanied by even more fearful phenomena (Heb. 12:18-29).”

Steve Gregg also shares David Chilton’s comparison of Revelation 19:1-6 with Revelation 11:15-19 (which we have already examined). Chilton indicates that very similar subject matter is established “in the two passages which represent the closing visions of the two major sections of the book” (p. 440):

1. loud voices…in heaven (11:15; 19:1);
2. the declaration of the commencement of the reign of God (11:15, 17; 19:1, 6);
3. the twenty-four elders fall on their faces and worship (11:16; 19:4);
4. the avenging of the blood of His servants is announced (11:18; 18:24; 19:2);
5. reference to God’s servants…who fear Him, small and great (11:18; 19:5);
6. loud noises, including thunderings (11:19; 19:6).

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Check out the first two posts in this mini-series:

1. Revelation 6 and Luke 23: Hide Us From the Wrath of the Lamb
2. The Avenging of Righteous Blood (Deuteronomy, Matthew, and Revelation)

New WordPress Theme, Facebook Page, and Personal Site


In this post, I’d like to briefly share some information about this site’s new theme, a new Facebook page for this site, and a personal website.

New WordPress Theme (Motif)

A few days ago I switched to a different WordPress theme for this site. Previously I was using the “Under the Influence” theme. I didn’t know until I was browsing alternate themes that “Under the Influence” was retired in 2012 and was no longer being updated. I’m now using the “Motif” theme, which is fully responsive (for optimized viewing on computers, tablets, and smartphones).

I welcome any feedback you have on the new theme, including the site’s appearance, how the pages load, and anything else you might observe (or find to be a challenge). The background picture, by the way, is the same one found at the top of a post I wrote last September featuring St. Paul, Minnesota’s downtown skyway.

Downtown St. Paul 02 - Copy

You’ll probably notice several additions to the sidebar, and a couple of changes as well, including the search widget at the top. The previous header image is no longer in the header position, but it can be seen at the top of our About page. My wife created it about a year ago, and I think she did a great job:

cropped-adamfufilledpic1.jpg

New Facebook Page for Pursuing Truth

One of the additions in the sidebar is a new Facebook page for this site. It was also created just the other day and I haven’t yet announced it on my personal Facebook page or anywhere else. If “liking” Facebook posts, comments, and pages is one of your hobbies or addictions (just kidding), do feel free to “like” the new page:

https://www.facebook.com/KloposmasmPursuingTruth

Personal Website

My wife’s skills are also on display at a personal website I created last fall. The home page was “under construction” for several months, mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing. This site, Pursuing Truth, is hosted on WordPress.com, but my personal site, www.adammaarschalk.com, is hosted on WordPress.org. WordPress.org has a much different setup, with certain options (e.g. plugins) not available on WordPress.com.

Most of the design work was done by my wife, and she also created the neat photo slideshow on the home page. I know I’m biased, but I do think she could have a good future ahead of her in web design.

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Thank you, as always, for visiting and participating here, and I hope you find the content to be a blessing, educational, and of value.

Revelation: The Land (“Ge”) Is Referenced 22 Times More Often Than the World (“Kosmos”)


It’s well-known that the book of Revelation foretells, among other things, a series of frightening judgments falling upon an entity known as Babylon the Great and “the harlot.” Just as importantly, Revelation also portrays beautiful worship scenes and glorious destinies and realities for God’s people. Regarding the judgments, Does John picture them being poured out upon the entire planet, or upon a particular location?

Jonathan Welton, author of the book “Raptureless,” has created another helpful graphic illustrating the fulfillment of Bible prophecy (See his previous graphic on Daniel 2 illustrating that God’s kingdom has come). Titled “John’s Olivet Discourse: A Look at the Writings of John,” Welton’s graphic [1] makes a case that the book of Revelation contains John’s version of the Olivet Discourse [2] shows some of John’s time tables [3] notes an important principle of Bible interpretation, and [4] shows that John speaks far more about local events in Revelation than he speaks about global events.

We can also add Revelation 1:1 and 1:3 to Welton’s list of time statements made by the apostle John:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

The last part of Welton’s graphic is very informative. The following chart takes the numbers he provides (plus a couple more that I looked up) and allows us to see how focused John was on local events in the book of Revelation compared to his gospel account:

John’s books Number of chapters in each book Number of times John uses the word “kosmos,” meaning the entire planet Number of times John uses the word “ge,” meaning the land (a region)
The Gospel According to John 21 57 3
I John 5 17 1
II John 1 1 0
III John 1 0 0
Revelation 22 3 67

In other New Testament passages where the word “ge” is translated as “earth,” many assume that those passages are speaking about the entire planet. We need to be more careful with this assumption. One instance where it appears is in Luke’s version of the Olivet Discourse (Luke 21:23). There, Luke is clearly speaking about Israel. Some Bible versions translate this word as “earth,” while others translate it as “land.” Here is how Luke 21:23 reads, in context:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people” (Luke 21:20-23).

The same word that Luke used in reference to Judea is the one that John used 67 times in the book of Revelation.

18 Case Studies on How John Used “Ge” to Speak of 1st Century Israel in Revelation

In 2010 I wrote a 3-part series tracking this phenomenon throughout the book of Revelation. The phrase “those who dwell on the earth” appears 10 times in Revelation, and at least a couple dozen more times in various forms. This series presents 18 case studies showing when and how this expression is used, examining the context in each case, and seeing how it’s used elsewhere in Scripture. A strong case is made that this expression in Revelation indicates 1st century apostate Israel. This series can be seen here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. If you have the time to read it, I believe you’ll find it informative.

A Final Note on How John Used the Word “Kosmos” Three Times in Revelation

Although it’s fun and enlightening to see how John used the word “ge” so many times in reference to the land of Israel, it’s also enlightening to see how he used the word “kosmos” to speak of the planet on which we live. Two of these instances concern those whose names are, or are not, written in the Book of Life. This is a global reference, as it ought to be, for the body of Christ is global and the message of the gospel is for every nation, tribe, language, and tongue. The third reference is to the kingdom of God, its triumph and greatness over all the kingdoms of this world (planet), and the eternal and universal reign of Jesus Christ:

1. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Rev. 11:15)
2. “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
3. “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev. 17:8).

The Avenging of Righteous Blood (Deuteronomy, Matthew and Revelation)


Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”

Recently my friend, Jerry William Bowers Jr., posted the following status on Facebook:

Revelation simplified:

Revelation 6:10, 16:6, 17:6, 18:24, 19:2, 20:4 speaks to the avenging of righteous blood.

This was prophesied in Deuteronomy 32:43, and would occur in Israel’s “END” (Deuteronomy 32:20) in their “Latter end” (Deuteronomy 32:29).

Matthew 23:34-36 very clearly says this would be fulfilled in their own generation.

It just doesn’t get any simpler than that!

I agree with Jerry’s summary, and would like to develop it further. During the last several years of studying eschatology, one thing I’ve enjoyed immensely is allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. It’s an enlightening exercise. To give one example, I was taught for a long time that Isaiah’s imagery of a wolf lying down with a lamb is both unfulfilled and a literal reference to the animal kingdom. However, I’ve now come to understand, by allowing Romans 15 to interpret Isaiah 11, that this is presently fulfilled in Christ, who broke down the wall of division between Jews and Gentiles so that all may find their hope in Him (see “Romans 15 Shows That Isaiah 11 Is Fulfilled“).

Deuteronomy 32: Prediction of Israel’s End and Judgment for Murdering God’s People

Jerry’s status is also an appeal to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, in this case concerning the theme of the blood of the martyrs. Let’s take a look at the passages he referenced in Deuteronomy 32, plus one more (verse 5). There Moses is speaking to Israel (Deut. 31:30), which he very interestingly addresses as “heaven” and “earth” (Deut. 32:1).

“They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, because of their blemish: a perverse and crooked generation” (Deut. 32:5).

And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith‘” (Deut. 32:20).

For they are a nation void of counsel, nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! (Deut. 32:28-29).

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people” (Deut. 32:43).

Does anything jump out when noting Moses’ language in verse 20? Recall what Jesus said to His Israelite audience in Matthew 17:

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me” (Matthew 17:17).

Moses predicted that at the time of Israel’s end, they would be a perverse and faithless generation. Jesus ministered in Israel to the same generation that was overthrown by the Romans in 70 AD, and He called that generation “faithless and perverse.” It would seem that Jesus intentionally invoked Moses’ words in Deut. 32:20. The apostle Paul did the same thing when addressing the Philippian church, as he used the exact same phrase Moses used in Deut. 32:5.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14-15).

Matthew 23: Jesus’ Own Generation Responsible for The Blood of God’s Servants

We turn now to Jesus’ prediction in His woes upon the Scribes and Pharisees. He declared that they “build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous” (Matt. 23:29), and that they “are sons of those who murdered the prophets” (verse 31). Jesus went on to say:

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matt. 23:34-36).

Moses, in Deuteronomy 32, predicted that God would “avenge the blood of His servants” at the time of Israel’s end. Jesus told the religious leaders of Israel that they would be held responsible for “all the righteous blood shed on earth” (or land, that is, Israel’s land). He made it clear that their generation would experience that judgment.

Revelation: The Avenging of the Blood of God’s Saints, Prophets, and Apostles

In the book of Revelation, as John is shown a series of judgments being poured out, we see this scene in heaven:

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:9-10)

Many believe or teach that the judgments of Revelation will be poured out in our own future and upon the entire globe, but who did Jesus say would be held responsible for all the bloodshed of God’s servants? What generation did He say would experience that vengeance? Without a doubt, it was His own people (Israel) and His own generation. As the outpouring of judgment progresses in the book of Revelation, we see how God answers the cries of the martyrs:

Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due” (Rev. 16:4-6).

So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement” (Rev. 17:3-6).

They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.’ “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” …And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Rev. 18:19-24).

For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her” (Rev. 19:2).

In our series on the book of Revelation, we noted that “the great city” was first identified in Rev. 11:8 as the place “where our Lord was crucified.” This is a positive identification of Jerusalem as “the great city” spoken of in the book of Revelation. It’s no wonder that “in her was found the blood of prophets and saints…” This is the very thing that Jesus said in Matthew 23 would be true of first century Jerusalem. This is also the time when the apostles lived and ministered (Rev. 18:20).

The great city, Babylon the Great, was called “the mother of harlots.” Did Jesus not refer to His own generation in Israel as “a wicked and adulterous generation” (e.g. Matthew 12:39, 16:4)? Did Jeremiah not use similar language to describe ancient Israel during times of apostasy? Was it not legitimate for God to use the language of adultery against an unfaithful nation that was in covenant with Him? Had first century Israel not become as awful and wicked as their ancient enemy and conqueror, Babylon?

See our study on Revelation 17:1-6 for the significance of the harlot imagery that John used, the garments that the harlot wore, the words on her forehead, the rich Old Testament background for all these things, and the harlot’s close partnership with first-century Rome.

The Apostle Paul Prophesies Judgment and Tribulation Against the Israel of His Day

In light of everything we’ve discussed above, it’s also good to take note of what the apostle Paul said to the believers in Thessalonica who were suffering and enduring persecution at the time of his letters (52-54 AD):

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (I Thessalonians 2:14-16)

“…[We] ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thessalonians 1:4-8).

Paul affirmed that the time had nearly come for the inhabitants of Judea to experience God’s wrath “to the uttermost” for killing Jesus and the prophets. Their opposition to the gospel was “contrary to all men” and was a great hindrance in the quest to spread the gospel among the Gentiles. It would be “a righteous thing with God” when they were repaid with tribulation, and it would result in them receiving rest. Jesus had promised to come with His angels in judgment and in His kingdom while some of His disciples were still alive (Matthew 16:27-28).

To Review

1. Moses prophesied that God would “avenge the blood of His servants” upon a faithless, perverse, and crooked generation at the time of Israel’s “latter end” (Deuteronomy 32:5, 20, 29, 43).

2. Jesus repeatedly denounced His own generation as “perverse”, “faithless”, and “adulterous.” Paul told the Philippian church that they were shining as lights in the midst of “a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:14-15).

3. Jesus told the religious leaders of Israel that their generation would be held responsible and judged for all the righteous blood shed on earth (Matthew 23:29-36).

4. John was shown a scene of martyrs crying out for their blood to soon be avenged “on those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 6:10).

5. John then sees seven bowls poured out “on the earth” (Rev. 16:1), and one of them causes the rivers and springs to become blood in order to judge those who had “shed the blood of saints and prophets” (Rev. 16:4-6).

6. John also sees a harlot dressed like a high priest of Israel and “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:3-6).

7. In Revelation 18:19-24, John sees the great city, earlier identified as Jerusalem (Rev. 11:8), overthrown and made desolate (see Matthew 23:38). The holy prophets and apostles, and all of heaven, were told to rejoice over this scene because God had avenged them on her, and because “in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.

8. In Revelation 19, John sees a heavenly scene in which there is much rejoicing over God’s righteous and true judgments, because He had judged the great harlot and “avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her” (verse 2). With the harlot judged and put away, John sees that “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (verse 7).

Revelation 6 and Luke 23: Hide Us From the Wrath of the Lamb


Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”

My favorite series on this site is our in-depth study of the book of Revelation. Many of the chapter-by-chapter studies are rather lengthy, and buried within these posts are some very interesting mini studies (in my opinion).  Over time I would like to pull out some of these little gems and present them briefly, one post at a time. They will be added to the “Revelation” page on this site as they are posted. This is the first such post.

Revelation 6:15-17 Is the Fulfillment of Luke 23:27-30

One can learn a lot and gain a lot of insight by comparing Scripture with Scripture, or letting Scripture interpret Scripture. Consider John’s description of the opening of the 6th seal judgment, Revelation 6:15-17 in particular:

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:12-17)

Comparing these verses with an earlier prophecy by Jesus in Luke 23:27-30 is very enlightening:

And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”

  • Question #1: Who did Jesus say would call upon the mountains to fall on them because of His wrath and judgment?
  • Answer #1: The daughters of Jerusalem, and – even more so – their children (note the word “they” in reference to the children).
  • Question #2: When did Jesus say this would happen?
  • Answer #2: During the lifetimes of the ladies who were weeping as Jesus walked past them toward the cross, and during the lifetimes of their children.

In Luke 23, Jesus foretold what would happen to His own people, and to His own generation. In Revelation 6, John saw a vision of the same scene playing out during the great day of the Lord’s wrath. This was not to be a global event, nor was it to occur thousands of years later. It would, and did, occur in the same place where Jesus walked and lived, and upon His own generation which largely rejected Him.

Echoes of Hosea

The same prophecy was once given by the prophet Hosea concerning Israel:

“Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. The thorn and thistle shall grow on their altars, and they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us!”, and to the hills, “Fall on us!” (Hosea 10:8).

This is one of many indications in the book of Revelation that the judgments were directed at apostate Israel and the “evil”, “wicked”, “faithless,” and “vile” generation that Jesus often spoke against.

The Significance of “The Kings of the Earth”

Revelation 6:15 speaks of “the kings of the earth.” Note that the Greek word for “earth” here (“ge”) can be, and sometimes is, translated as “land.” This can be understood as the Promised Land, i.e. Israel, and there is no doubt that this is the meaning in Luke 21:23, for example, where this same word is used:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains… But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people” (Luke 21:20-23).

The expression “those who dwell on the earth” occurs frequently in the book of Revelation, and ample evidence points to this being a unique reference to first century Israel, as outlined in this 3-part series (here, here, and here).

F.F. Bruce on Revelation 6:16 and Luke 23:30

F.F. Bruce (1910-1990), well-known Bible scholar from Scotland, regarding verse 16 in Revelation 6:

“The best commentary on the present passage is found in our Lord’s words to the ‘daughters of Jerusalem’ on the Via Dolorosa (Lk. 23:30).”

(“Revelation” in International Bible Commentary, p. 1608, published in 1986)

Josephus on The Final Days of the Roman Siege on Jerusalem in 70 AD

On July 31, 70 AD, after a five month siege, the Romans succeeded in penetrating the final wall around Jerusalem and burned the temple to the ground. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, but the surviving Jews retreated to the Upper City of Jerusalem, where Josephus says that many continued to plunder, ambush, and assault their fellow Jews. The victims were too weakened by famine to resist, and quite a few were killed senselessly. Josephus tried to persuade them to surrender to the Romans and spare what was left of the city, but he was only laughed at. Josephus records that some put on happy faces “in expectation, as they said, of death to end their miseries.” Many Jews sought refuge in the caves and underground caverns, hoping to remain hidden once the Romans would reach the Upper City:

So now the last hope which supported the tyrants and that crew of robbers who were with them, was in the caves and caverns underground; whither, if they could once fly, they did not expect to be searched for; but endeavored, that after the whole city should be destroyed, and the Romans gone away, they might come out again, and escape from them. This was no better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans (Josephus, Wars, 6:7:3).

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See here for our complete study of Revelation 6:

Part 1 (Rev. 6:1-8)
Part 2 (Rev. 6:9-17)

Daniel 2: The Kingdom Is Here


Jonathan Welton, the author of the book “Raptureless,” has created a neat illustration of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation of it in Daniel 2. I very much agree with the main conclusion: “The kingdom is present; the kingdom is growing. We are in the kingdom age… and we are the King’s ambassadors.”

Daniel 2:44 is indeed a pivotal verse, as it states clearly the timing for the setting up of God’s eternal kingdom:

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

As many scholars agree, Rome was the fourth kingdom depicted in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. Rome was preceded by Nebuchadnezzar’s own Babylonian kingdom (#1), Medo-Persia (#2), and Greece (#3). These were successive empires, and the Roman empire ceased to exist in 476 AD (Sources: BBC History, History Learning Site, Rome.Info, Wikipedia, About.com’s Ancient History). Daniel, a true and faithful prophet, recorded that God’s kingdom would be set up before all four of those kingdoms ceased to exist.

By the year 600 AD the final earthly kingdom revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision had been gone for more than 100 years. By 1500 AD that fourth kingdom had already been gone for a full millennium (1000 years). What are we to make, then, of popular teachings which say that, as of the year 2014, God has not yet set up His kingdom? We are now 1538 years beyond the parameters of Daniel’s prophecy: “And in the days of these kings…” If God’s kingdom has not yet been established, it would seem that Daniel was not a true prophet.

The problem, however, is not with Daniel, but rather with premillennialism and any other school of thought which says that God’s kingdom is not yet here, or that when it comes it will take on earthly characteristics (e.g. a temple and a spiritual headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel) that the world has not yet seen.

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

Daniel 7 Reveals the Timing of the Kingdom

Coming back to Daniel, he later had a vision of four beasts, the fourth of which was “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong,” and having 10 horns (Daniel 7:7). Daniel also foresaw “One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heavento the Ancient of Days – a picture of Jesus’ ascension.

I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

In the rest of the chapter, Daniel sees or is told three times that the kingdom would be given into the hands of the saints:

But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (verse 18).

I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (verses 21-22).

Then the saints shall be given into [the fourth beast's] hand for a time and times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (verses 25-27).

Parallel to this is Revelation 13:1-8, where John also saw a beast with 10 horns speaking blasphemous things and making war with the saints and overcoming them for 42 months (which is equal to 3.5 years, and also equal to Daniel’s “time and times and half a time”). In our study of Revelation, we saw how this was fulfilled in Nero and his 3.5 year campaign of persecution against Christians in the Roman empire from November 64 AD – June 68 AD (see here and here). In Daniel 7 then, we first see that Jesus received the kingdom immediately after His ascension, and then we see that God’s kingdom was set up and given into the hands of His people during the days of the fourth kingdom/beast, Rome.

The Gospels Reveal the Timing of the Kingdom

John the Baptist and Jesus, in their day, repeatedly proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. Then Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 16:27-28) and the crowds (Mark 8:34-9:1) that He would come in His kingdom while some of them were still alive.

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matt. 16:27-28; see also Matthew 10:23).

In Luke 21 Jesus described a series of events which were to occur before the temple would fall (Luke 21:5-7) and before His generation would pass away (Luke 21:32). According to Jesus, when His disciples saw those things take place, they could be sure that God’s kingdom was near.

Then He spoke to them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29-31).

Matthew 21: The Parable of the Tenants

The Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46) is also important in regard to when God’s kingdom was to be established, and we see in this parable a parallel to Daniel 7. Jesus, speaking to the chief priests and elders of the people (Matt. 21:23), exposes the vinedressers (the stewards) of God’s vineyard for their long-term persecution, beating, and killing of God’s servants, and for finally conspiring to kill Him and attempt to seize His inheritance. Jesus continued the discussion in this way:

“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:40-44).

Jesus thus proclaimed that the kingdom would be taken away from the corrupt Jewish religious leaders at the time of their judgment for shedding the blood of God’s saints and God’s Son. (This judgment was to fall upon Jesus’ own generation, according to Matthew 23:29-37.) It was at this time that the kingdom would be given to a fruit-bearing nation, the church.

As in Daniel 2, Jesus is the rock that crushes His opponents. In this case, faithless Israel, except for a remnant, had set itself up in opposition to Him, and the Rock would fall and “grind him to powder.” This happened with the destruction of Jerusalem, Israel, and the temple in 70 AD. At the same time, Jesus is a mighty Rock and fortress for those who trust in Him.

Hebrews 12 Reveals the Timing of the Kingdom

The author of Hebrews spoke of the kingdom that his audience was receiving in the first century (Hebrews 12:28), and he pointed out that it was a kingdom which could not be shaken, unlike those things made with hands which could and would be shaken (verses 26-27). I believe this was a reference, in particular, to the temple in Jerusalem, the worship center for old covenant Judaism. The context bears this idea out. Ten verses earlier we read that the saints had not come to Mount Sinai, where the old covenant had been established (verse 18), but they had “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant…” (verses 22-24). If we compare this with Galatians 4:21-31, we see that earthly Jerusalem was in bondage and was about to be cast out (verses 25 and 30), but the heavenly Jerusalem is said to be the mother of God’s people (verse 26). Here is what Hebrews 12 has to say:

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:18-29)

To Review

1. Daniel 2 reveals that God would set up His kingdom before Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome had all expired as kingdoms/empires.
2. Daniel 7 reveals that Jesus would receive His kingdom at the time of His ascension to His Father’s throne. It also confirms that God’s kingdom would be put into the hands of His people, the church, during the time of the Roman empire and immediately following a vicious campaign of persecution meant to eradicate the church.
3. John the Baptist and Jesus repeatedly proclaimed that the kingdom of God was near in their day. Jesus promised to come in His kingdom while some of His disciples were still alive, and He revealed that His kingdom would be given to His church at the same time it was taken away from rebellious Israel at the time of their judgment.
4. Hebrews 12 reveals that God’s people were receiving an unshakable kingdom in the first century, and that they would receive it at a time when all that could be shaken would be shaken.

The nation of Israel, as a whole, was found unworthy to steward God’s kingdom. Jesus, on the other hand, was perfectly obedient, laid down His life, rose again, and was found worthy to receive the kingdom. He came to take it out of the hands of Israel’s leaders, and He placed it into the hands of His church. We have been given the privilege of being the stewards of God’s kingdom. How much is the church being limited in its ability to spread God’s kingdom, and walk in its realities and power, because of the pervasive belief that it hasn’t even come yet?

God’s kingdom has come, and God’s kingdom will remain forever.

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For the record, I agree with everything in Jonathan Welton’s illustration except for this statement:

“Since Jesus (the Rock) crashed into the feet of the statue in His first coming, the kingdom has been present and growing all the way until His second coming.”

Spared Three Times In Five Days


This week I’ve witnessed three car accidents happen in front of me, and have nearly been involved each time, but Friday’s incident was the most bizarre. I’ve also seen the aftermath of an even higher number of accidents this week. Many in different parts of the US, I know, can say the same thing.

Before I share what happened Friday, I should mention that in recent months I’ve been out on the road more than the average person. Since my wife and I moved to Bowling Green, Ohio last August I’ve been driving a shuttle van/Honda CRV (and occasionally dispatching) for a taxi company here. Aside from transporting college students and others in town, I also transport people to and from:

1. the Detroit airport (75 miles to the north)
2. the Toledo airport (30 miles to the north)
3. the Greyhound bus station in Toledo
4. the Megabus station in Toledo
5. the Amtrak station in Toledo
6. the Greyhound bus station in Findlay (25 miles to the south)
7. medical appointments to determine eligibility for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare); the taxi company I drive for is contracted to do this, and it involves waiting for the duration of each appointment before taking the passenger back home; this takes me to Toledo, Findlay, Lima, etc. in NW Ohio
8. and more.

I would estimate that at least 20% of my passengers in Bowling Green are from Saudi Arabia, and I’ve enjoyed learning Arabic words and phrases from them, learning about their culture, and building some neat relationships.

I also tutor on the side through Wyzant, mostly in the areas of ESL (English as a Second Language) and proofreading/editing, and that work also sometimes involves traveling to Toledo, Findlay, etc.

Friday’s Strange Mishap

Friday morning at around 10:00 I was on my way to pick up a passenger who had finished his night shift at an industrial plant. A lady driving a minivan toward me caught my eye because she was sitting in the passenger seat and leaning way over to the side to grip the steering wheel. Even though the road was dry, she lost control, swerved both ways, and then rammed into a snow bank as I was about to pass her.

I immediately stopped, but before I could do anything she got out of the passenger side, ran around to the driver’s side, managed to reverse the van, and promptly drove away. I could see that no one else was in the van. I don’t know how she was pressing the gas and brake pedals, but later I humored myself by imagining she was using a toilet plunger.

Someone who heard the story suggested that she could have been a rural mail carrier, as they sometimes use their own vehicles which are altered in such a way that they can drive via the passenger seat and easily reach into mailboxes. (If anyone reading this post knows how that works, I’d be interested to learn more about it.) However, this incident occurred within Bowling Green’s corporation limit, her van was unmarked, and she was leaning over very awkwardly as she drove. I’m inclined to think she was drunk, but I could be wrong.

I’m glad her final swerve took her into the snow bank, or we could have collided head-on.

Monday’s Near Misses

The roads were especially treacherous in Bowling Green on Monday, after Sunday’s snowfall, and with no salt on the roads.  I experienced numerous “near misses” as drivers had a hard time stopping at intersections, but an accident took place in front of me twice.

In the first incident, I passed over Interstate 75 on a two-lane road, and as I drove down the hill I saw that a car had stopped at a stop sign a little further up and to the right. (There was no stop sign coming up for me.) Then I saw another car come up behind the first one – too fast – and he slid sideways and rear-ended her hard enough to push her into my path. By the grace of God, I was able to swerve to my left and make it around her. They were both OK.

In the second incident, I was stopping at a four-way stop when an SUV approaching from the side slammed head-on into an electric pole just before the intersection. The collision nearly took down the pole, and the wires flopped up and down violently for a few seconds. Because of his speed, my guess is that he didn’t notice until the last second that he had a stop sign ahead of him. He got out a minute later, dazed, but apparently OK, and emergency vehicles were soon there.

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These incidents and others were more than enough “excitement” for one week, but I’m grateful for God’s protection in each case.

Abraham’s Inheritance: Misunderstood


Adam Maarschalk:

Yesterday PJ Miller of Sola Dei Gloria posted an excellent study on Abraham’s inheritance, and how the promises that God made to Abraham are expounded upon as the Old Testament progresses and the New Testament is introduced. This study was originally crafted and posted by Stephen Sizer.

Originally posted on Sola Dei Gloria:

Good message

They say, “where there’s a will, there’s a family” and boy has there been a family dispute over the inheritance of Abraham. Millions and millions of the relatives of Ishmael and Isaac believe they are the rightful heirs. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the longest running dispute in the hands of the United Nations. In fact its over 4,000 years old. It is also the most dangerous military conflict in the world, without any international regulation of the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons held by some of Abraham’s descendants.

And it is undoubtedly the most controversial media story in the world with accusations of holocaust denial, anti-semitism, racism, apartheid and Islamophobia. And, sadly, it is being perpetuated by some misguided Christians… 

Abraham’s Inheritance was Promised

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt…

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