Revelation 8 (Guest-Blogger Mary Vanderplas)

Revelation 8 (Guest-Blogger Mary Vanderplas)

I am very pleased to welcome my first guest blogger, someone who regularly comments on my blogs, Mary Vanderplas.  She is a former Presbyterian Minister and is now the Chaplin at Florida Hospital in Leesburg, FL.  Although we regularly disagree with one another, Mary regularly inspires me to look at things from a perspective that I might not otherwise.  Several times we have entered into discussion about apocalyptic language, and I feel that her knowledge surpasses mine regarding this topic.  In some ways, I regret starting into the Revelation blog series, since there is so much that I still have to learn (and unlearn) regarding this particular book.  Every time I began writing about chapter 8, I said to myself, “Mary should be writing this one.”  I asked Mary if she would do this, and she agreed.  I don’t necessarily agree with every word she’s written, but her perspective and insight is spectacular, and since I always enjoy reading her comments, I felt like the audience of this blog might appreciate her thoughts as well.  So here it is!

Revelation 8

Take some time now to read chapter 8 of Revelation.  I would recommend that you also go back and read the ending of chapter 6, where the sixth seal is opened by the Lamb.  After an interlude in which John presents a vision of the church in chapter 7, he returns in chapter 8 to the opening of the seals.

Well, is your heart warmed by John’s imagery?  Just when you probably thought that things couldn’t get any worse – what more could possibly happen after the coming-apart-at-the-seams of the whole cosmos (6:12-17)?! – you turn the page, only to be met by a whole new set of visions of terrible events.  What is going on here?

With the opening of the seventh and last seal (8:1), one would expect the end to come post haste.  Instead, the final seal leads into seven trumpets.  The trumpets, like the seals, originate in a scene of heavenly worship – conveying that the events are not random occurrences, but part of God’s plan for history.  Before the visions of disasters are presented, there is a pause, silence (8:1).  Likely John’s purpose was dramatic effect: a break in the action to prepare readers for the visionary fury to come – i.e., “Take a moment to catch your breath, folks, and then hang on!”  Beyond this, it was a feature of some apocalyptic traditions to have the cosmos returning to a state of primeval silence before the end.  Remember that John the prophet was writing in this literary genre and borrowing heavily from the apocalyptic traditions that were already popular in his day.  Also, in view of the heavenly scene he pictures, in which the prayers of the saints are part of the worship of heaven, it is at least possible, I think, that the interlude of silence is a divinely-instigated shushing: “Quiet, please, so I can hear the prayers of my children.”

The heavenly scene of worship reflects the worship of the earthly temple, in which the burning of incense figured prominently.  Here, in a striking image, the prayers of the saints ascend in the smoke of the incense (8:4).  The pleas for deliverance and cries for justice on the part of God’s beleaguered saints in those tiny churches in Asia were, lest anyone doubt it, “getting through.”  Indeed, their prayers were a part of the heavenly worship; and the saints themselves were intimately connected to this other world.

More striking still is that the pleas and cries of God’s struggling saints have an effect.  Notice the images John uses to convey that their prayers “shake things up” on earth:  “Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” (8:5).  Viewed from the perspective of heaven, their prayers precipitate the unfolding of events leading up to the coming of God’s kingdom and justice.  Thus, in a real sense, their prayers for the final victory of God are answered – though not immediately.

John next presents the visionary scenes of disaster.  Here again, he draws from a store of images in the scriptures and the traditions of Jewish apocalyptic thought in describing his visions of what will take place just prior to the end.  The sounding of trumpets was a part of the worship of the temple and had a variety of other associations in Israel’s history, including calls to battle, announcements of victory and liberty, use in celebrating the advent of a new year, use in conquering enemies (remember the battle of Jericho and the pivotal role the blowing of trumpets played in God’s victory over Israel’s enemies – see Joshua 6), calls to communal repentance.  The sounding of trumpets had become a featured part of prophecies announcing the coming day of the Lord and conclusion of history.  Here in John’s revelation the image speaks particularly of the judgment that will come upon the enemies of God’s people and upon the whole earth.

The visionary “seven angels” designated (by God) to blow the trumpets likely reflects the traditional seven archangels in Jewish thought, though John’s interest here is confined to communicating that God’s plan for the fulfillment of history is brought about through the terrors that are to come.

The images John uses to describe his visions of the disastrous events to come may have had some connection to natural disasters in the real world that he and his listeners/readers inhabited.  What is most telling, though, in terms of what John is saying to his readers is that these images reflect to some extent the story of the exodus at the beginning of Israel’s history.  There, as you may recall, God sent a series of grievous plagues on the Egyptians for the purpose of persuading Pharaoh to repent and let God’s people go (see Exodus 7-12).  Some of the trumpet disasters here in Revelation 8 (and continuing into Revelation 9) – specifically, hail and fire, sea turning to blood, darkness, and locusts – match the plagues in the exodus story.  Thus, the trumpet disasters, like the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians, are pictured by John as judgments against the enemies of God’s people as well as a means of liberation.

Think about how the churches in Asia, tiny and marginalized as they were, harassed and persecuted by imperial Rome, would have heard/read these visionary trumpet plagues.  As bad news eliciting fear and trepidation?  Possibly, I suppose, since the imagery is dire and the pictured judgment/destruction cosmic in scope.  But more likely, I think, these struggling congregations would have read them as good news, as the means of their ultimate deliverance from their Roman oppressors.  It’s a bit like going through physical therapy after an injury.  One can endure the pain, knowing that a positive outcome – namely, use of the injured body part – will ensue.  (As I write this, I am two weeks shy of finishing a course of physical therapy to rehabilitate a broken wrist.  While I am not quite ready to conquer the world – well, in a manner of speaking – I have hope.)

The issue here in Revelation 8 is the manifestation of God’s justice as history is brought to a close.  As the imagery John uses makes clear, the terrors to come are not merely tragedies but the judgments of God because of human sinfulness.  What is particularly envisioned is divine judgment of the evil empire, the punishment of oppressive and arrogant worldly power that sets itself against and seeks to destroy the church.  But evil empire acting to persecute God’s people (Pharaoh, Rome) is not all that stands to be judged.  All arrogant and oppressive earthly powers are hereby served notice:  “Time is running out.  You will not be allowed to go on forever doing violence to the powerless.  You will be judged and punished by the One whose power is incomparably great and whose authority you are under and who hears the cries of those you so cavalierly abuse.”

Eight years ago I went with a group from my denomination on a mission trip to southern Africa.  While there, we visited various local churches and church leaders with whom churches here in the United States are partnering for the purpose of helping the people of these countries with basic physical needs as well as spiritual needs.  In one of the countries we visited, the cries of the people for justice were loud and piercing.  Widespread poverty, homelessness, unemployment, even confiscation of property and imprisonment of those who dare to challenge the ruling powers characterizes life there under the rule of a thoroughly corrupt and oppressive government.  The Christians are particularly subject to harassment and abuse at the hands of the authorities; and when we met with them, they talked about and prayed for God to act to deliver their country and punish their oppressors.

It will happen, says the revelation of John.  For the people of that country, for all people in every place and time where power is arrogantly asserted and used for self-serving ends and where the rights and dignity of God’s children are trampled and their needs ignored.  The God of exodus justice will not be silent, but will act to judge and liberate.  He will hear the cries of “How long?” (6:10) and will respond with deliverance for the world.

Lest any become smug, as though the message of God’s judgment is for those other people, John’s pictures remind us that the whole creation must endure the terrors of divine judgment preceding the coming of God’s kingdom.  (This echoes Paul’s words about the whole creation suffering under the weight of human sin, subject to decay and death, and awaiting its deliverance – see Romans 8:19-23.)  There is, therefore, no room for a mentality that would exclude anyone from God’s mercy expressed as salvation or that would put anyone above God’s justice expressed as judgment of sin.

John’s revelation suggests, too, that the trumpet plagues are not displays of divine vengeance for the purpose of destruction, but rather expressions of divine justice, the purpose of which is to stimulate repentance toward the goal of restoration.  (Could this be the meaning of only a fraction – one-third – of the creation and its human inhabitants being destroyed?  See 8:7, 9, 11, 12; also 9:18.)  The terrors of God’s judgments thus reveal the heart of God for every single one of his rebellious children and (perhaps) his ultimate plan to bring every lost one of them home.

What is assured is that no earthly powers, however strong and threatening, however much in control they may appear and even be in our present circumstances – none of them will be able ultimately to thwart God’s plan to judge and liberate, to eradicate evil and establish his just and peaceable kingdom.  For it is God who is really in control, who governs our existence and guides the destiny of us all.  To use Paul’s metaphor in Romans 8, the creation is “groaning in labor pains,” and there is no stopping the bundle of new life from coming!

Sources:

Arnold, Clinton E.  Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Volume 4, Hebrews to Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Boring, M. Eugene.  Revelation.  Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1989.

Evans, Joseph.  “It’s Coming.”  http://day1.org/3039-its_coming.print.

Metzger, Bruce M.  Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993.

Peterson, Eugene H.  Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination.          New York: HarperCollins, 1988.

The Discipleship Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version including Apocrypha.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.

 

 

Comments
  • Lanny A. Eichert July 18, 2011 at 1:00 am

    “the traditional seven archangels in Jewish thought” you wrote.

    I’d ask what are their names?

    Is there warrant for such “Jewish thought” in Old Testament Scripture?

    Doesn’t the entire Bible name only ONE archangel and the word itself (its prefix) exclude all others?

    Must be the reason I disagree with your reference of churches in the context of the Tribulation of the Revelation is because your (and Alice’s) background in Presbyterianism (and perhaps Reform) thought. Must I remind you again of Jesus use of the future tense: “upon this rock I will build my church” in Matthew 16: 18 because it, the ecclesia, wasn’t YET built AND the absence of the ecclesia in the gospels through Acts 2: 40 AND that Luke wrote both a Gospel account as well as the Acts account without once using ecclesia in the Gospel account while reserving its use for the Acts account exclusively after 2: 40? (I recognize Acts 7: 38 as an exception and allow Israel briefly only in TYPE while in the wilderness.)

    If you allow for “Jewish thought” why don’t you see John 14: 2 & 3 as a reference to the Jewish marriage week tradition and see that Christ takes His Bride from the earth to His Father’s house before the Tribulation WEEK, 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 & 17 (where incidentally archangel is singular)? I mean, they are there in His Father’s house for that whole week. Therefore they that “came out of great tribulation” 7: 14 cannot be members of the ecclesia. Furthermore, if you play the Exodus plagues, trumpets, and temple worship into it which is all Jewish (and not Christian) why can’t you restrict the seven years ( two 3 1/2 year periods) Tribulation to unbelieving Israel and the unbelieving world which by God’s grace produces the 144,000 witnesses and the great multitude of chapter 7 via the two witnesses of chapter 11?

    • admin July 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      Hi Lanny! How is your wife doing?

      • Lanny A. Eichert August 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm

        Debbie left us today at 4:48pm and I was there as she took her last breath. I sang to her both in the morning and in the afternoon from the hymnal. Hymns for the living church, Grace Bible Church, Given to Debbie Eichert, Church closed July 1987. In other words all the old songs we have loved.

        Just a little bit before she actually died I told her I would sing over her when she was dead the Doxology:

        Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him, all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen. Amen

        And I did sing it, but unfortunately an half hour later after making numerous phone calls, but I did remember to sng it.

        Lanny

        • admin August 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm

          I think it is amazing that you are able to sing at a time like this. It demonstrates great faith in God’s ability to reunite the two of you. I’m sure the grief will come, but praise is the default position for you two. I’m sorry to hear that you will be without your dear love. Your comments made me wonder… how long after the heart stops does a person continue to hear? Perhaps she heard it. You never know…

    • Mary Vanderplas July 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      Lanny,
      Thanks for your reply.

      You’re probably right about our differing backgrounds accounting for the fact that we have widely different views as to how Revelation should be interpreted. As I’ve said before in responding to Alice’s blogs, I think Revelation needs to be read as a letter written to churches in Asia at the end of the first century by a prophet named John. He wrote for the purpose of bringing a word from the Lord to these churches for the crisis they were facing under the heavy hand of imperial Rome. The visions as described by John functioned to interpret their present experiences of suffering from the perspective of what was going on behind the scenes of history, what God was doing to bring his plan for the world to completion. Thus, John’s prophecy wasn’t concerned with predicting particular events in some far-off time in world history. Rather, it was concerned with addressing the present concerns of these first-century Christians and announcing the “ultimate future” in which the victory of God over evil will be finally accomplished. John drew on the language and imagery of the scriptures and of apocalyptic writings to communicate the meaning of his visions. The symbolic language was an effective vehicle for communicating things about the heavenly world that cannot be communicated using ordinary categories of thought and language. And the imagery he used would have been familiar to at least some of his original hearers/readers, who were acquainted with this literary genre.

      The questions you ask are, in my view, the wrong questions, bespeaking a faulty understanding of John’s purpose and of the largely nonliteral language of the book. Moreover, I think your assertions about Israel and the church being sharply separated and having two different futures are not in line with what the Bible teaches about there being one body in which Jew and Gentile belong together. I don’t understand your dismissive attitude toward “Jewish thought” or your comment about my “playing the Exodus plagues, trumpets, and temple worship into it.” The fact is that Revelation is permeated with allusions and echoes of the Old Testament (John’s scripture) and that Jewish thought, particularly the imagery and patterns of Jewish apocalyptic, had no small influence on the content and communication of John’s message. Plague imagery, trumpets, and temple imagery, are in the text, as large as life. In my view, an accurate interpretation of John’s message demands attempting to discern the meaning of the images he used.

      • Lanny A. Eichert July 20, 2011 at 12:38 am

        Mary, “playing the Exodus plagues, trumpets, and temple worship into it” is something I see beyond doubt part and partial of the Revelation and verifies why it is God’s program specifically for National Israel and NOT the Universal Church, which by then was also largely Gentile. Also, I don’t think we disagree regarding that the time of what is described beyond chapter 3 is future to the recipients of the first century. I also assume you are familiar with the “near and far” views of prophecies, that is, that there may be two fulfillments to a prophecy, one close to the time of the prophecy and another quite further in the future (as in Isaiah 7: 14), so I am perplexed why you seem to refuse chapters 7 – 19 as having a sure element by design that is yet even future to us today.

        Also then, to me it would make sense when applying “Jewish thought” to view John 14: 2 & 3 as a (Jewish) marriage week event regarding the identity of the Bride of Christ as the Universal Church. Of course, to do so would put the Bride of Christ in heaven away from the tribulation of 7 – 19. The fact of it being a prophetic week would coincide with the seven years of the Tribulation.

        Do you really deem all the above far too literal? Certainly God’s church people understand the pictures, types, and ensamples of the Epistle to the Hebrews. We have an undeniable Jewish heritage, but we are not Jewish.

        Asking questions about the term archangel was to bring Bible truth to interpretation and rid it of mere tradition, a worthy endeavor, I’d think. It also adds a measure of respectability to the apostolic text, meaning that we are not dealing with John’s imagination, but the very individual words of God Himself as He designed for John to pen them. I cannot emphasize enough that you, Mary, and Alice also, be very careful what you do with each one of God’s individual words. Matthew 4: 4

        • Mary Vanderplas July 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

          Lanny,
          I don’t agree with your dispensationalist interpretation of Revelation or of scripture generally. In the first place, I don’t think the dispensationalist claim of a sharp separation between Israel, God’s earthly people, and the church, God’s spiritual people, squares with what the Bible teaches. The New Testament repeatedly affirms continuity, not separation, between the people of God of the old covenant and the people of God of the new covenant. It sees the church as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, and God’s purpose of redemption as the gathering of one people, made up of both Jew and Gentile. Also, I don’t agree with Dispensationalism’s insistence on literalism in interpreting scripture. When it comes to interpreting the biblical prophecies and promises to Israel, literalism prevents seeing what the New Testament clearly affirms: that many of the prophecies to Israel have been fulfilled in the coming of Christ and the gathering of his church.

          I don’t refuse to see John’s prophecy as having a future aspect. What I object to is any interpretation of Revelation that fails to take into account John’s concern with the situation of his readers and with the future that affects them – not with events in a distant historical future. John saw the “ultimate future” that was revealed in his visions as being near – which of course turned out not to be the case. I object also to interpretations of Revelation that fail to understand the symbolic nature of much of the language and that see in John’s prophecy a literal, chronological description of the way things will be at the end.

          In my view, the book of Hebrews offers compelling evidence against a dispensationalist interpretation of scripture. Dispensationalism is built on preserving the old arrangements and reinstating these old arrangements for Israel. The book of Hebrews emphasizes the fulfillment of the old covenant in the new, of which Christ is the Mediator, and the now obsolescence of the things that characterized the old covenant. Inasmuch as Dispensationalism both clings to the old and doesn’t grasp the finality of the new, it is a less-than-acceptable approach to interpreting scripture.

          The “apostolic text” reflects the influence of “mere tradition.” It also reflects the thought processes of the very human authors God chose to communicate his message. Revelation isn’t a journal of John’s subjective experiences, but neither is it a compilation of “the very individual words of God Himself as He designed for John to pen them.” God didn’t write the Bible; people did. To acknowledge that scripture has a human as well as a divine element is not to treat it with less than reverence as the vehicle of God’s self-revelation. And not to take the Bible literally (in the misguided sense of regarding every word as true and inspired, or of interpreting every passage according to the most plain, concrete, and obvious meaning) does not mean that one does not take it seriously.

          • Lanny A. Eichert July 21, 2011 at 5:17 am

            The seemingly literal Old Testament prophetic promises made to Israel are much too literal in expression to be anything else but literal and isolated to national Israel. Take a closer look at them again. Luke’s two historical accounts separate National Israel and the Universal Church as do the remaining three Gospels.

            Matthew 4: 4 “not by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” mandates we view each and every word as God’s choice spelling as does 2 Timothy 3: 16 “is given by inspiration of God” that is God breathed.

            Mary, when did the “called out assembly” begin? Remember Matthew 16: 18 “I will build” when you answer this question in the misguided sense of regarding every word as true and inspired.

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 19, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Last four days, she’s not been out of bed having been weaker than usual, but just a little stronger each of the last two days. After the first two days of being wiped-out, I asked the doctor if there was any correlation between her weakness and the stopping of the antibiotics. He said no. Today he said her calcium level was elevated which could explain her lack of energy and gave medication to stop excessive calcium accumulation. Her bowel continues to leak and last Friday the wound care people tried something that didn’t work as well as if they had left things as they were: in fact, her fecal leakage doubled. I wish they hadn’t done that on a weekend, since they change the wound dressing Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, meaning three days on a weekend between changes. So today he tried something different again this time which over the seven hours I was there to observe looks like a better idea that seems to have reduced the leakage some. If the leakage doesn’t stop by the healing of the opening in the bowel, bacterial infection will kill her. Antibiotics are only useful for short periods because bacteria become resistant to them.

    Since she had indicated slight improvement of strength to me, I conspired with physical therapy this morning. They have a bariatric wheelchair they have suggested she use and she has been delighted to use it, but it offers too much support, I think, so I wanted to get her sitting up with no back support like they did at the previous hospital making her sit on the edge of the bed, but this time on a physical therapy “table” and to do that I figured to get her lifted to a regular wheelchair, transported down to the gym, and then lifted to the table, promising the bariatric wheelchair as a reward afterward. We did it with some resistance from her in the process after the fact. Just to let you know the last four days of weakness and inactivity had broken my heart and I’m sure she felt the set-back, too.

    She’s been a miracle having survived over two months (May 2nd to now) leaking from the bowel, I don’t want her to loose the momentum and begin to quit. The doctors had already suggested once that we let nature take its course (nice way of saying let her die the inevitable death due to fecal leakage and infection) and I think her determination has won the day with them thus far. They do recognize the body has healing capacities that may range beyond their understanding. We’ve been praying to God to work miracles and on one Sunday almost a month ago her leakage deminished 75% and stayed constant.

    Nobody knows how many leaks she has, but the wound care people visually spotted one (and I’ve actually viewed it) and that’s the one they’ve been trying to isolate.

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Mary and Alice, since I assume you both are wider readers than I am and especially you both being Presbyterian in background, I’d be curious to know if you know of any pre-Nicean or post-Nicean reliable writers even through the Reformation who discuss Luke’s use and non use of ecclesia in his two historical accounts. Alice, you may have your quirk with your Amazing Hope, but I have my quirk with a Limited Church. Previous to moving to Utah, I had not recognized Luke’s usages, but only explained the seemingly literal Old Testament prophetic promises made to Israel as much too literal in expression to be anything else but literal and isolated to national Israel and impossible to the Universal Church. Utah Mormonism gave me cause to see the isolation between Israel and church; and now it is so very obvious to me that I wonder why I don’t remember reading it elsewhere.

  • admin July 19, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Pre-Nicean and post-Nicean covers all writers in all time – can you be a little more specific?

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Well, that is my question: has any historical church writer at all addressed Luke’s use of ecclesia in Acts and its absence in his Gospel? Perhaps it was NOT an issue to even address until our modern day and the rise of dispensationalism.

    • admin July 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      I don’t recall reading about Luke’s use of ecclesia in Acts and its absence in his Gospel. What does this have to do with dispensationalism? I’m curious as to why you are wondering about this. I see dispensationalism in more of a widening circle than a linear thing. But I don’t know what that has to do with the gathering of believers. You’ll have to connect those dots for me.

      • Lanny A. Eichert July 20, 2011 at 1:08 am

        Alice, I was just looking for more information on the subject and hoping maybe you and Mary might have read something on the subject. Luke’s two historical accounts help me separate National Israel and the Universal Church and I was just trying to use you two as a short cut for more information. Reformed people look at dispensationalism as a relatively new opposing theology. For me the gathering of believers, due to the distinction of believers into specific groups, will occur in phases separated in time. You know me to be dispensational, so the first gathering is John 14: 2 & 3 and 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 & 17 meaning only the Universal Church taken to heaven. That’s only the first phase of the First Resurrection.

        • admin July 20, 2011 at 9:38 am

          Well if I stumble upon anything, I’ll send it your way… sorry I’m not much help in this.

          • Mary Vanderplas July 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm

            Lanny,
            I have taken a close look at the prophetic promises to Israel – in the light of the New Testament’s understanding of the fulfillment of prophecy and not from the biased viewpoint of Dispensationalism, which argues that no promise to Israel could be fulfilled in relation to the church. God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 is said to have been fulfilled in Christ (see Galatians 3 and 4). Not only Christ, but all believers, both Jew and Gentile, are the seed of Abraham. Christ’s coming was the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7:13-16 – see Luke 1:31-33. The promise of a restored temple (Ezekiel 40-48) is a prophecy of the dwelling of the Lord in the midst of his people (Revelation 22). Dispensationalism’s insistence on interpreting these and other prophetic texts in the Old Testament in the most literal and concrete sense possible stems from its assumption of a radical separation between Israel and the church. Without this prior assumption, there would be no reason not to acknowledge that many of these prophecies to Israel have been fulfilled in the coming of Christ and the gathering of his church.

            I fail to see that Luke’s two accounts separate a national Israel from the church. Jesus himself was born from among the Jewish people and many of the Jews responded to him in faith and repentance. The twelve disciples – who formed the nucleus of the church – were all from among the Jewish people. Your question about when the church officially began is irrelevant, in my view. There is continuity between Luke and Acts, not discontinuity. In Matthew 16:19 God’s kingdom authority is seen as passing through Jesus to his disciples and then to the church built upon their foundation.

            Matthew 4:4 – This is a statement about living by the word of God, not a statement about every word of the Bible being true in the literal sense and directly from God. (If you insist on taking every word in its literal meaning, do you see God as having a mouth?)

            2 Timothy 3:16 – It doesn’t say here that “God-breathed” means that God dictated every word. The fact is that the Bible is both a human and divine book.

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 22, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I fail to see that Luke’s two accounts separate a national Israel from the church, you wrote. I ask you, Why did Luke not identify the believers in his gospel account as members of God’s church? Why didn’t the other gospel writers do the same? If Spiritual Israel ( a known concept even to believers before the incarnation) was the Universal Church and the LXX used ecclesia in reference to Israel, why didn’t the four gospel writers? It should be evident that ecclesia was reserved by the Holy Spirit for another distinct group. 2 Peter 1:20 & 21, which also points to the fact that Scripture is MORE God’s choice of words than the human authors’.

    God as having a mouth? is not even a fair question from you. We both know figures of speech do occur in literal statements; and true purpose statements also contain facts. Therefore “every word that proceedeth” means every word that came from God. In our context it is the Holy Bible. You and I are responsible to each and every single individual word and spelling God caused to be included in the original autographs.

    Your question about when the church officially began is irrelevant, in my view, you wrote. What is irrelevant about “I will build” of Matthew 16: 18? Do you believe the Word of God is “I will build” or don’t you? If the Bible is both a human and divine book, the future tense cannot be a mistake. I think it would be a very telling question for you to answer.

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand. And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 37: 19 – 23

    The verses previous to these, verses 16 & 17 prove the Book of Mormon (stick of Ephraim) is equal to the Holy Bible (stick of Judah) and is another testament of Jesus Christ here in Utah for these poor Mormons that don’t understand the context and the interpretation given in the text by God Himself. They, Israel and Judah, shall no longer be divided into two kingdoms, but they shall be back in their own land, Israel, with one king ruling them from Jerusalem. This is the Davidic Covenant. David (vs 24) will be their literal king and David is Jesus Christ, the Son of David, a perfectly acceptable form of David literally. How is this fulfilled in the Universal Church? Why isn’t this Revelation 20: 1 – 7 the literal thousand years, which number is written in verses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, six times? How many promises (prophecies) are there of the restoration of the Israel to the promised land as a victorious kingdom with one King? (Genesis 41: 32 when God repeats Himself)

    How fancy do you have to be to make this other than a literal fulfillment? The two literal sticks serve to mean literal Israel and literal Judah in a figure of speech, not the Book of Mormon and the Holy Bible. What are YOU making them: Israel and the Church?

    • Mary Vanderplas July 23, 2011 at 9:57 am

      “David will be their literal king and David is Jesus Christ, a perfectly acceptable form of David literally.” You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Either “David” is King David literally, or it’s Jesus Christ (nonliteral reading of the word.) This shows just how impossible it is to sustain the Dispensationalist argument that all of these prophecies will be fulfilled literally in a future earthly kingdom that is the nation Israel.

      I’m not making “Israel” and “Judah” anything other than they are/were: two kingdoms in the long ago past who were God’s people and to whom God revealed things concerning what was going to happen to them (their future) through a prophet named Ezekiel. Whatever fulfillment any of the prophecies might have beyond their future is related to the coming of God’s kingdom and the dwelling of God with his (one) people, not to any millennial reign of national Israel. (Elements of Ezekiel’s visions are used by the prophet John in Revelation to predict the ultimate future and the victory of God.)

      Luke doesn’t refer to the followers of Jesus as ekklesia because the church had not yet officially begun in the time of Jesus. However, the nucleus of the church was present then in Jesus’ disciples and in the others who heard his message and responded in faith. The fact that the church didn’t officially begin until Pentecost does not constitute proof of the Dispensationalist claim of a postponement of the kingdom and an intermediary age of the church (a claim which masks a prior assumption of a radical separation between Israel and the church.). Christ’s work through the apostles was directed to the salvation of Jew and Gentile alike. There is one people of God, and only one redemptive purpose.

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 25, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Mary, Pentecost, I’m glad you see, is the birthdate of the Church. Now I say with a smile some day maybe you will take that where I do, perhaps when you’re older. And the same with Luke, meaning in reality the Holy Spirit (God wrote the Book). 1 Timothy 4: 15

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 28, 2011 at 12:35 am

    admin says:
    July 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm
    Hi Lanny! How is your wife doing?

    After what I wrote July 19, 2011 at 12:15 am BAD NEWS TODAY. It’s a Humpty Dumpty story: All the medical profession cannot put her back together again.

    She went septic last Friday and they stablized her and she’s making some good recovery, but the real problem is the wound management: it has worsened and the wound is bigger than ever with undermining and necrotic tissue. There is absolutely no hope of healing. They’ve done all they can do and asked us to make a decision. Realizing the hopelessness, we’ve come to terms that we must stop treatment and let nature take its course. She will be dead before mid August. I will miss her very very much.

    • Mary Vanderplas July 28, 2011 at 5:34 am

      I’m so sorry, Lanny. I will pray for you and your wife and for your family.

    • admin July 28, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Lanny, I am so sorry to hear this. Please tell me, is she doing ok emotionally with all this? Also, give me your address (you can email me at alicespicer2003@yahoo.com) so I can send a card.

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Mary and Alice, thank you. She did break into crying when the wound team broke the news to the two of us, because we had put that possibility out of our minds to maintain a possitive attitude for strength and determination. We have a sure hope of eternal glory and that remains unshaken. She has no fear of the crossing.

    Now as far as concerns me, my life for the last five years has been rapped up in caring for her and I fear great loneliness, an empty house, lack of direction and purpose. She was our organizer in everything, but soon I will have to do all that. What time to get out of bed, how to plan meals, what to do with my time. You see, I went from living at home with my parents into the USAF, then to Appalachian Bible Institute, back to living with my parents, then to married life with Debbie. I’ve never experienced life really on my own. Everywhere I’ve been the organization was always done for me.

    • Lanny A. Eichert July 29, 2011 at 12:22 am

      Today we had lots of visitors from churches and the neighborhood at the hospital room. We had a song service, Bible readings, and group prayer. All impromptu. The three unsaved (jack Mormon) ladies from the neighborhood were sort of a captive audience, so pray for the impact of the Word and the Spirit. There were lots of tears and hugs since everyone knows Debbie will die so very soon. Her spirit was very good and still concerned for others as she asked how each one and their children and parents are doing. She was also a tease at times.

      • Mary Vanderplas July 29, 2011 at 5:15 am

        I’m glad that you and Debbie have the support of wonderful friends and church family.

      • admin July 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

        It is good that they have the opportunity to say goodbye while she is still aware of their presence. You are a trooper, Debbie! Hang in there, Lanny.

    • Mary Vanderplas July 29, 2011 at 5:13 am

      Again, Lanny, I’m so sorry. I can only imagine the deep sorrow and fear you are feeling as you walk this path of saying goodbye to your beloved wife. It sounds like you have had a wonderful life together and that, even though your wife has been ill for the past several years, the two of you have enjoyed a deep intimacy made even deeper by your devotion expressed in caring for her needs. The thought of losing her must be so overwhelming and wrenchingly hard.

      I am praying that God will be there for and with you, both in these days and after your wife dies, in ways that you can’t even begin to imagine right now. Thank you for sharing your feelings and fears, Lanny. I know that words can’t touch your pain, but please know that you are cared about.

  • […] It is important to remember the nature of the book of Revelation, categorized as “apocalyptic literature” by theologians, writings that are easily misinterpreted because of the heavy symbolic content.  I highly recommend that one not allow a concept that is firmly established elsewhere in scripture to be refuted depending solely on Revelation, just as an idea refuted throughout scripture should not be established based only on Revelation.  It is interesting, though, to pull nuggets of universal truth from the book, that is, truth that has a wider application than a single, specific time or geographical location, and to speculate about the meaning of some of the symbolism.  But we should remember, it is easy for one to see what he or she wants to see in the book (and I’m no exception) instead of seeing what the angel would have John and the church in seven cities to see, and it is also important to be aware of variation (and corruption) that took place in manuscript transmission.  I’ve written a few blogs on Revelation, and guest blogger Mary Vanderplas wrote a blog on chapter 8, if you would like to read more about Revelation: Revelation 1-2, Revelation 3, Audio/Visual Revelation, Like a Stone, Despite My Amazing Ignorance, He’s Called “God with Us” for a Reason, and Revelation 8 (Guest Blogger: Mary Vanderplas). […]

  • […] Minister and is now the Chaplin at Florida Hospital in Leesburg, FL.  Her first guest blog was Revelation 8 (Guest-Blogger Mary Vanderplas).  Although we regularly disagree with one another, Mary regularly inspires me to look at things […]

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