Tag Archives: Satan

The Millennial Kingdom

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The return of Christ looms ever nearer. We have seen “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars” (Luke 21:25) – blood moons[1] on significant Jewish feast days, the Great American Solar Eclipse,[2] and the “Revelation 12 Sign”[3] that will appear over Israel on September 23, 2017.  All over the earth, we have “distress of nations, with perplexity” (Luke 21:25). North Korea flexes its nuclear muscle while Iran builds up its arsenal of short-range missiles near Syria’s southern border with Israel,[4] and Russia continues to build up its forces in the area while aiding Iran in its weapons development. The US and other western nations distress and are perplexed over this not, knowing what to do short of starting another world war.

The solar eclipse experienced on August 21, 2017, some suggest, is an omen against the United States of America. Some prophecy scholars say that lunar eclipses are signs for Israel, while solar eclipses are signs for the gentile nations. It may be coincidental, but worth noting that only four days after the Great American Eclipse (August 25, 2017), Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas and Louisiana coasts dumping over 9-Trillion gallons water on the Texas coastline. The unprecedented deluge shut down over 22 percent of the US oil refining capacity.[5] As of this writing, hundreds of gas stations all over North Texas are running out of gasoline (due to media incited panic), and those that still have gas have raised their prices from 20-40 cents per gallon. Refineries on the Texas coast will remain closed for two to three weeks until assessments can be made to bring them back online. It may be months! The economic impact of this storm will be felt for months, and that does not include the impact to human lives. Added to that is the looming threat of Hurricane Irma building up strength in the Atlantic. This is only a small sample of “the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).

Things are just warming up “as travail upon a woman with child” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Soon – hopefully very soon – Jesus will return for His Bride, the Church, to take her home with Him.[6] Not long after that “… shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Most end-times prophets seem to focus on the events leading up to and into the 7-year Tribulation, which follows the Rapture of the Church. Such conversation tends to overshadow the happy ending that lies beyond the seven years with a cloud of gloom and dread. However, the story does have a happy ending that is lost in the details of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the mark of the beast, the coming Antichrist, famine, plagues, death, etc. Why walk into a dark tunnel with no light at its end! The good news is that the Utopia for which everyone yearns is what lies just beyond those dreadful seven years.

At the end of the book of Revelation, “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13; John 1:1), mounted on a white horse (Revelation 19:11) leads a mounted army of His saints, all on white horses (Revelation 19:14). His appearance is awesome, and He descends to crush the nations of earth “and he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). The world looks for a leader to rule all the nations of the earth and to usher in an era of universal peace. However, they seek for such a leader in a man. That will never happen! Instead, the leader they will follow will lead them to certain destruction. “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (Revelation 19:19). It is a misnomer to call it a war or even a battle because it will end as soon as it begins. “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:20-21).

Not all who remain on earth will die at that “battle.” Certainly, not every person on earth will be enlisted in the “armies” of the “kings of the earth.” There will be survivors that will require governance. The army of saints (“set apart ones,” i.e., the Bride that was taken at the Rapture) that returns with Christ will be “priests” (“intercessors” between the people and Christ), and they will rule with Him for 1000 years (a millennium).

Some say there is no millennium. What one believes about that is not a salvation issue. However, Revelation 20 affirms a 1000-year period no less than six times (Revelation 20:2-7).  If the 1000 years was stated once or even twice, one might say it is allegorical,[7] but when it is repeated six times, we can take it as literal and certain. Interestingly, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, records creation in six (literal) 24-hour days with God resting (cessation of work) on the seventh day. I believe the Bible teaches a young earth of about 6000 years with a 1000-year rest during the millennial reign of Christ on earth as recorded in Revelation 20. Perhaps the six-fold repetition of 1000 years is not accidental. The Apostle Peter wrote, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8, emphasis mine). Please note that the Apostle employs simile here. He is not saying that “a day is a thousand years” or that “a thousand years is a day.” The Apostle merely points out that God is timeless, i.e., eternal. Likewise, the psalmist proclaims, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). Therefore, I find it interesting that six times the 1000-year timeframe is repeated here. Creation was completed in six days, and God rested on the seventh day; the earth has existed for six millennia and now one millennium remains to “rest” and culminate creation.

What will take place during this final millennium? For one thing, evil will be removed from the earth. Satan is incarcerated in the “bottomless pit” so that he can no longer “deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:3). Missing from John’s report is what happened to “the beast” (aka Antichrist) and the “false prophet.” Since they are humans used by “the Dragon,” my feeling is that they are killed in the final battle because at the end of the thousand years, Satan is loosed on the earth once more (Revelation 20:7) and, once again, his defeat is immediate. Then it says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10, emphasis mine; also see Revelation 19:20-21 above). At the end of the 1000 years, the beast and the false prophet will be raised again with the rest of the “dead” (Revelation 20:5) to face the Great White Throne Judgement (Revelation 20:11-15).  I cannot say with certainty, but my guess is that they will be the first on the docket for judgment.

Beginning with Revelation 20:7, the scene jumps to the end of the 1000 years. John records nothing of what takes place during the 1000 years except that the Bride of Christ – those that died in Christ, the martyrs for Christ, and the raptured saints – “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years,” and “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, 6). That implies that there will be some on earth to rule. Furthermore, when Satan is released at the end of 1000 years, he goes “out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:8). That says that the population of earth will be replenished to the point that there are “nations” living in peace and harmony without satanic influence. But what will that be like, and what can we expect? For that, we need to look elsewhere in the Bible.

First of all, the millennial reign of Christ will be an autocratic form of government where Christ’s reign will be absolute with zero tolerance for lawlessness. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:15-16, emphasis mine). The image of a sharp sword coming from His mouth symbolizes the authority of His Word – He is the Word (John 1:14). That He rules with “a rod of iron” indicates no tolerance for any opposition to His authority. “His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne [speaking of Jesus] as the days of heaven. If his children [those whom He rules] forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes” (Psalm 89:29-32). Although He will rule with absolute authority, He will be a kind and benevolent monarch. “And I will set up one shepherd [speaking of Jesus] over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David [speaking of Jesus]; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David [speaking of Jesus] a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it” (Ezekiel 34:23-24, emphasis mine). “And David my servant [speaking of Jesus] shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them” (Ezekiel 37:24, emphasis mine). “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, emphasis mine).

Secondly, because there will be no tolerance for lawlessness, the millennial reign of Christ will be characterized by universal peace. Today the world clamors, “peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14), but when Christ reigns, the world will know true peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, emphasis mine). He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). “And he [speaking of Jesus] shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).

Thirdly, not only will there be universal peace on earth, but the earth itself will be renewed as in the time before the Fall (Genesis 3). God says, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17). In the renewed earth, the “curse” will be reversed. Animals will no longer prey on one another and even little children will play with what used to be venomous snakes (Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:25).  “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Death for the inhabitants of the earth, those who survived the Tribulation and their progeny, will practically be unheard of. “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 65:20, emphasis mine). People will live long lives as before the Flood. Only the “sinner,” i.e., the lawbreaker will have his life cut short by “the rod of iron.” Someone who is a hundred years old will be considered a “child.” Of course, those who returned with Christ at the end of the Tribulation, will come back with “glorified” bodies and never again experience death.

Fourthly, like the Garden of Eden, all the earth will once again be fruitful. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1). “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13).  Everyone will have houses and enjoy the fruits of the labor. “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:22, emphasis mine). “And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil … And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:24, 26). “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim” (Joel 3:18). “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos 9:13).

What a wonderful world that will be! Jesus will rule from His throne in His Temple in Jerusalem, and the Utopia of which everyone dreams will exist throughout the earth. However, very few of earth’s inhabitants will enter that renewed world. Those who call upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior right now will be leaving this earth very shortly. After that follows seven horrible years of Tribulation where the majority of the population will perish. At the end of that time, Jesus will return with His saints to reign on earth.

Reader, would you like to see that new world? If you cannot claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the odds are against you making it through the Tribulation that will soon come. Why not secure your place in Christ’s coming millennial kingdom and beyond. Read my page on “Heaven.”

Notes:


[1]  “Perhaps This Year!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/12/29/perhaps-this-year/

[2]  “Coming Soon!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

[3]  Ibid.

[4]  “Iran Building Weapons Factories in Lebanon and Syria, Israel Says” – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/world/middleeast/iran-missiles-lebanon-israel-.html

[5]  “Gasoline spikes after Harvey shuts down Gulf Coast refineries” – http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/348692-gasoline-spikes-after-harvey-shuts-down-gulf-coast-refineries

[6]  “Not Expecting to Die” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/30/not-expecting-to-die/

[7]  “Is the Bible Allegory?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/08/27/is-the-bible-allegory/

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, End Times, Evangelism, Gospel, Heaven, Religion, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (1)

john3_1_jesusandnicodemus

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.(John 3:3)

                   This passage, recorded in John 3:1-21, is the first of seven discourses spoken by Jesus and recorded by John. Certainly Jesus preached many more sermons than the seven recorded by John, but these seven, as least for John, uniquely demonstrated the deity of Jesus. Indeed, John records, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31, emphasis mine).

                   The passage opens with the introduction to the audience – one man, Nicodemus, “a man of the Pharisees … a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1). His name means “conqueror of the people”[1] or “victorious among his people.”[2] Given the strength of his name, it seems strange that “The same came to Jesus by night” (John 3:2). At a glance, it seems as though Nicodemus came by stealth to avoid detection by those more adamantly opposed to Jesus, but that is not the case. “The Pharisee may have chosen this time in order to be sure of an uninterrupted and leisurely interview. During the day, Jesus would be busy and there would be crowds (crowds of common people!). Not so at night. Then there could be a long, private discussion.”[3]

                   At this point in his Gospel, John had not detailed many of Jesus’ miracles or any of His teachings. Certainly, turning water into wine (John 2:1-12) rates highly as the first of His seven signs. From there, Jesus celebrated the first Passover of His ministry by turning over the tables of the moneychangers at the Temple (John 2:13-22). His action drew fire from the “Jews” who challenged Him: “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” (John 2:18). Apparently, Jesus made Himself known during this time, although John provides little detail. “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did” (John 2:23).

                   So, it seems that Nicodemus had at least heard of Jesus. Perhaps he witnessed the miracles of Jesus, and heard Him teach. Now he comes to Jesus by night for a private meeting. “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2). Nicodemus addresses Jesus with the sincere title of respect. “Rabbi” acknowledged Jesus as “Master,” that is to say, “Master Teacher.” What little he knew of Jesus instructed him that He was more than an ordinary man. Jesus, he concluded, came “from God” because “no man can do these miracles … except God be with him.”

                   Nicodemus assessed correctly, but Jesus was not interested confirming what He knew to be fact. Nicodemus was not unlike the other “Jews” in many respects. “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25, emphasis mine). Instead, He went right to the heart of the matter. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, emphasis mine). “Again” is a poor translation of the Greek anōthen, which means “from above.” Being “born from above” is in keeping with what John penned in the prologue to his Gospel. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13, emphasis mine). Nicodemus clearly understood the term “born,” genneithei, in the normal sense of procreation (John 3:4), but he missed the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ message.

                   To clear up the confusion, Jesus affirms John’s statement in the opening chapter. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). Jesus prefaces His statement with “verily, verily,” i.e. “truly, truly.” Coming from God incarnate, this makes the statement immutable – it is unchangeable. Rebirth is not a matter of external changes, but rather it is a transformation from within, and accomplished “from above” through the saturation of the Holy Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). We are all born of flesh. That is by design. The spirit of man died at the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), and thus we are excluded from “the kingdom of God.” Only the rebirth of our spirit can fit us for heaven.

                   The “teacher of Israel” failed to grasp the lesson the Master taught. This called for further instruction. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:11-12, emphasis mine). Jesus addresses Nicodemus (thee). “We speak that we do know.” Some commentators suggest that Jesus refers to Himself and His disciples. However, at this point in His ministry, His disciples were novices; there was little that they “did know.” Indeed, His disciples did not receive “full knowledge” until after His resurrection, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Therefore, I believe the “we” Jesus refers to is the Trinity. I conclude that from His statement in the next verse: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). He, the Son of Man, has direct knowledge “from heaven,” from the Creator Himself (John 1:1-3). When Jesus said, “ye receive not our witness,” the “ye” in the KJV indicates that the Greek, second person personal pronoun is plural. Jesus did not single out Nicodemus; He referred to all the “Jews,” i.e., the religious establishment to whom Jesus later referred to as “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16, 24).

                   The rebirth is simple; Jesus explained. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Jesus referred to Jewish history recorded in Scripture, the Torah to be precise. Numbers 21:4-9 records the time when the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness complained against God and Moses for the free food God provided daily. “And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6). The Hebrew word translated as “fiery” is śârâph, which means, “burning.” The same Hebrew word (seraphim) is applied to the angelic creatures witnessed by Isaiah in his vision of God on His throne (Isaiah 6:2, 6). In the case of the Hebrew Children, it referred to the burning bite inflicted by the venomous snakes. It may also imply the copper color of the serpents. We derive this from the instructions given to Moses. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Numbers 21:8-9, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated as “brass” is nechôsheth, which means “copper.”

                   The act of looking upon the bronze snake on the pole when bitten included recognition of the sin that brought about the snake bite, and the faith to believe that simply looking upon the likeness of the serpent on the pole would result in healing and preservation of life. In the same way, Jesus compared the simplicity of the rebirth. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15, emphasis mine). Once again, this reaffirms John’s assertion, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12, emphasis mine).

                   If one has a red-letter edition Bible, verses 16-21 are attributed to Jesus. However, man, not God, inspires red letters. While many Bible scholars agree that Jesus spoke these words, to me this seems that John added his commentary to expand on what Jesus said. It seems redundant that Jesus would say, “That whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life (v. 15), and then repeat “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (v. 16) in the next sentence. Regardless, the Holy Spirit, inspired these words through John’s pen, so they remain God’s Word whether they were spoken directly by Jesus, or whether John, through the Holy Spirit, expounded on Jesus’ words.

                   The teaching is clear. “That old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” (Revelation 12:9) inflicted a deadly bite on mankind in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) from which there is no cure.  “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Death is antithetical to God who is life (John 1:4; 14:6). Simultaneously, God is holy and cannot tolerate sin. Yet, He loves His creation too much to allow it to “perish,” i.e., die, with no hope for reconciliation.  So, “He gave.” His gift stemmed not from man’s merit, but from His love. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis mine). “He gave His only begotten Son.” The burden of sin was too great for any man to bear, so God Himself took on the insurmountable debt of man’s sin. “And the Word [who was God] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God became man so “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Greek word translated “perish” is apótai meaning “to destroy fully.”  The verb is in the aorist tense indicating that it occurred in the past and its effects continue into the present. It is in the middle voice indicating that the subject is acting on itself, and it is in the subjunctive mood meaning that the action is contingent, probable and eventual. That all means that man in the past brought eventual death and destruction upon himself contingent on what he does with the gift God offers.

                   As in the beginning, it comes down to two choices: the tree of life or the tree of death, aka the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For the children of Israel in the wilderness it was to look upon the bronze serpent and live, or doubt and die. We all have the curse of death upon us. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We also have a choice. “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The other choice is unbelief. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, emphasis mine). We are “condemned already” because, to begin with, we are all born of the flesh, but not of the Spirit. Then, we are “condemned already” when we reject the gift of salvation God freely offers.

                   “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).  The condemnation was accomplished at the Fall. God’s solution was to take on human flesh to pay the “wages of sin.”  He paid the debt with His own innocent blood. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats … sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14, emphasis mine). He did all the work. The choice to believe  or not believe is ours.

                   Nicodemus took Jesus’ words to heart. In the end, he came to His defense. At the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews wanted to arrest Jesus, Nicodemus spoke up for him. “Nicodemus saith unto them, … Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (John 7:50-51). After they crucified Him, Nicodemus accompanied Joseph of Arimathaea in the burial of Jesus, without regard to his Pharisaical reputation (John 19:38-40). He made the choice to believe. We have the same choice.

Notes:


[1]  Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenbert, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, (Tel Aviv, Israel, Jewish Studies for Christians, 2015), 32-33.

[2]  Definition from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.

[3]  Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel According to John, Revised, (Grand Rapids, MI, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 187.

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Time Confusion

Time Spiral

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. (Job 38:4)

“Yea, hath God said” (Genesis 3:1) remains Satan’s first line of attack on the Word of God, so it is not surprising when I get questions like the following:

I know that you believe in a young earth, but it seems to me God was around before He did His creation of earth and us. The Bible says He framed the worlds! So my question is: how old is the universe, and how long ago before creation was it when the devil and his fallen angels were kicked out of heaven? I’m confused because it seems that the devil was in the Garden of Eden, so when did he arrive on earth?

The question stems from a very superficial understanding of Scripture. Note that the appeal to Scripture was taken out of context, quoted only in part, and then misapplied in much the same way as Satan did when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

So what does the Scripture really say? “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). The Greek word translated “worlds” is aiōn, and it properly means “ages;” so this is not speaking of other planets, stars or galaxies, which were not created until Day Four of Creation (Genesis 1:14-19). The writer of the book of Hebrews referred to the predetermined “ages” in God’s plan from the beginning of Creation to the culmination in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Revelation 21:1).

God is eternal; He has no beginning and no end. God is not confined to time; He “created” time: “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1), God started time; therefore He is not constrained by time. God says, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14) – the Self-existing One. God’s eternal nature is a difficult concept for us, who are bound by time, to fathom. Nothing existed before time except God. God existed before time in the measureless realm of “eternity,” and He will exist when time ends in eternity. God is present in the past, present and future all at once, but He has revealed Himself to us in time through His Creation, through His Word (the Holy Bible), and through The Word (Logos), Jesus Christ – God incarnate. These things, as Hebrews 11:3 says, must be accepted “through faith,” “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

 We should not worry, if we cannot understand everything about God. Some things we cannot possibly know, because they are beyond our ability to comprehend. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Through His Creation, His Word, and The WORD, God has revealed all that we need to know to have an effective relationship with Him.

 God created time “In the beginning” around 6000 years ago. The Bible does not explain exactly at what point in Creation God created Satan and the other angels, but we can infer from other passages in Scripture that it was early enough in the six-day creation week that they witnessed Creation. For example, in God’s response to Job we read, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 7). “Morning stars” and “sons of God” are metonyms often used in the Old Testament to refer to angels. From that, we can infer that Satan was created before Day Six on which day man was created, and he had free access to the Garden of Eden.

For other articles about God’s eternal nature and the creation of Satan see the following:

“No Time Like the Present” https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/01/18/no-time-like-the-present/

“Time for Pride to Grow” https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/12/01/time-for-pride-to-grow/

“How Art Thou Fallen” https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/05/04/how-art-thou-fallen/

“Why Satan?” https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/11/02/why-satan/

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Easter’s Wrong!

Shocked

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (Acts 12:4)

The two highest church attendance days are Christmas and Easter. Easter probably wins the high attendance day of the two since it always falls on a Sunday. Neither day is historically accurate, but Easter typically comes nearer being right than does Christmas. Both holidays (holy days) come to us thanks to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in its attempt to “Christianize” the pagan celebrations of Saturnalia, which celebrated the return of the sun, i.e. the days getting longer, and Ishtar, whose origin is rather convoluted but basically has its source in the ancient fertility goddess of Babylon from whence come the icons of Easter eggs and bunnies.[1]

The pagans celebrated their “Queen of Heaven” on the first day of the week (Sunday) following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Some form of this religious practice was observed by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. By the time the RCC came into power, pagans continued the practice, so, in order to accommodate the pagan population, the Church put a Christian spin on the celebration. There are several parallels that can be made between that pagan religion and what we believe as Christians.[2] Jesus was born of a virgin, He died, He was buried, and He rose again. Superficially, the pagan story sounds familiar, but this should not be surprising since Satan is the ultimate counterfeiter. Jesus said, “He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).  Since the celebration of Ishtar fell around the time as the Jewish Passover, and considering the parallels, it was not difficult to remake the pagan celebration into a Christian one. (Oh! Don’t be so shocked! We still do that today. In order to attract the “world” we adopt worldly practices, bring them into the church, and put a Christian face on them. Sometimes “Christian” events look no different than rock concerts. The only differences, if you can hear them, are the words of the songs. And for those of us who love the “old hymns” many of the tunes of those good old hymns originated in pubs and saloons. So, this is not unique to the RCC.)

Despite the title I chose for this article, my purpose here is not necessarily to bash our observance of Easter. (I prefer to call it “Resurrection Day” or “Resurrection Sunday.”) I believe that it is right and proper that we celebrate the Advent of our Lord and His death, burial and resurrection – the resurrection being key. They are highly significant events that altered the course of history and the destiny of man. But if we are going to celebrate these very special days, we should at least try to be “biblical” about it rather than “traditional.” Arguably, Christmas could remain as December 25th. While widely accepted by biblical scholars that the birth of Jesus probably took place around mid-September (more likely around the celebration of the Jewish Feast of Booths or Sukkot), counting back nine months would bring one to around December 25th as the time of conception, which would also be the actual “incarnation” when God came to be “with us” (Emmanuel) as a human embryo.

Easter, however, does not always line up exactly with Passover as is the case this year. Jesus was crucified on Passover. Jesus said, “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2, emphasis mine). The Jewish day began at sundown, around 6:00 PM, unlike our western day which begins at midnight. On the afternoon before the Passover, Jesus sent His disciples to make arrangements to celebrate the Passover Seder (Matthew 26:18-19). “Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve” (Matthew 26:20, emphasis mine). “When the evening was come,” Passover had begun. After they had  finished the meal, Jesus went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives where He was arrested in the middle of the night – it was still Passover – and illegally tried and sentenced to death by crucifixion (Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 18-19). Jesus died at the ninth hour, 3:00 PM (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:44-46), at the same time that the Passover lamb was being sacrificed at the Temple. It had to be this way in order to fulfill the Law of God given to Moses (Deuteronomy 16:1-6).

So, Jesus died on Passover, at precisely the right time in order to fulfill the Law of God and make a once for all atonement – a covering – for our sins. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11, emphasis mine). “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins]” (Hebrews 11:28, emphasis mine).

Biblically, then, Easter (Resurrection Day) should be celebrated in association with and very closely linked to the Jewish Passover. “Easter” is nowhere found in the Bible except as mistranslated in our beginning verse above (Acts 12:4). The Greek word translated “Easter” in this verse is pascha, the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew pesach or Passover. Evidently the translators of the King James Bible were taken in by centuries of RCC tradition.

“Easter” is not biblical, and it becomes painfully obvious especially this year. As noted above, Easter is the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This year, the vernal equinox took place on March 19. The first full moon after that will be on March 23, making the 27th Easter Sunday. The problem is that the Jewish calendar is lunar, not solar. Nissan (Abib in the OT) is the first month of the Jewish religious calendar, and Passover is celebrated on Nissan 15. This year, 2016, Nissan 15, Passover, begins on Friday, April 22 at 6:00 PM and goes to 6:00 PM Saturday, April 23. We are celebrating Resurrection Day nearly one month before Passover, and that, to me, just seems wrong. You cannot have “resurrection” before the Passover sacrifice! If we were being biblical instead of traditional, we should be celebrating Resurrection Day on Sunday, April 24. Instead, we will just go with the flow and celebrate it according to the Roman Catholic tradition. This is why, especially this year, Easter’s Wrong.

Notes:


[1]  See “The Pagan Origin of Easter” http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org/tracts/tract1.html

[2]  Ibid.

 

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Says Who?

After the Flood

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,   (2 Peter 3:3)

“Scoffers,” as defined by the Apostle Peter in the context of this verse, are those who reject the teaching of Scripture concerning the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, but more generally, scoffers ridicule all teachings of Scripture. Scoffers become, as the Apostle Paul described, “fools” – “Professing themselves to be wise” (Romans 1:22). A “fool,” as defined by the Bible, is one who “hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). While the world has always had a good number of “foolish scoffers,” it seems, to me at least, that their ranks have swelled in these “last days,” or perhaps they have just gotten more brazen. The open and unapologetic Christian will sooner or later encounter scoffers that will mock and challenge one’s faith in the Word of God. When that happens, Peter says, “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis mine).

Recently I had an electronic exchange with a scoffer pretending to be a Christian. (“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:20) This scoffer mocked the account of the Global Flood recorded in Genesis. He questioned the construction of the Ark, the collecting of the animals, the supposition that dinosaurs were carried onboard and the logistics of taking care of the menagerie. He asserted that dinosaurs did not live at the same time as the biblical account of the Flood, then chided that it made “me ashamed that fundamentalist Christianity is part of our culture, that these ‘adults’ actually live in a mass fantasy world, manipulated by others in their own fantasy world, some of whom have PhD after their name” – referring to creation scientists. He continued, “Don’t you realize that the New Testament gives us permission to abandon the fantastic myths of the Old Testament, and that the only teaching of Jesus is compassion, for which we don’t need a Bible, or for that matter, a religion?” (emphasis mine)

Proverbs teaches us to “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” (Proverbs 26:5) I assumed the scoffer to be “Christian” from his suggestion “that the New Testament gives us permission to abandon the fantastic myths of the Old Testament.” Although I found it rather astounding that a “Christian” would only accept less than one-third of the Bible. Obviously, he does not know his Bible very well, which is not something for which to be proud, if one really is a Christian. Consider the following:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (John 1:1-3, 14)

Obviously, that is talking about Jesus, but compare that with Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Here the New Testament (NT) claims that Jesus IS God. That being the case, consider the following:

But from the beginning of the creation God made them [Adam and Eve] male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. (Mark 10:6-8, emphasis mine)

For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. (Mark 13:19, emphasis mine)

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44, emphasis mine)

In the verse above Jesus was referring to Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent [the devil] was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? … And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (emphasis mine)

But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, (Matthew 24:37-38, see also Luke 17:26-27, emphasis mine)

Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Matthew 10:15, emphasis mine)

But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. (Matthew 11:24, emphasis mine)

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Mark 6:11, emphasis mine)

But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:29, emphasis mine)

For as Jonas [Jonah] was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:40-41, emphasis mine)

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58, emphasis mine)

By now, it should be obvious to even the most Bible illiterate that Jesus, who is God the Creator, affirmed the “myths” of the Old Testament (OT). Not only that, but being God Himself, He is also Author of those “myths.” The NT says that ALL Scripture is “breathed out” by God.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, emphasis mine)

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21, emphasis mine)

The writers of the NT only knew the OT as “Scripture.”  So, how did they view the “myths” of the OT?

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 3:9, emphasis mine)

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8, referring to Genesis 3:1-5, emphasis mine)

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7, emphasis mine)

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (1 Peter 3:20, emphasis mine)

And [God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; (2 Peter 2:5-6, emphasis mine)

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7, emphasis mine)

By faith they [Israel] passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. (Hebrews 11:29-30, emphasis mine)

So, the NT confirms all of these “myths.” What then should we do? Discard the New Testament? If Jesus is who the NT says He is, then the scoffer needs to rethink his prideful arrogance. If all the accounts of the OT are simply myths, then Jesus was either misinformed, which precludes His omniscience, or He was lying. In either case, He would be disqualified as God because God, by definition, is all-knowing, and He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18)

If the scoffer really is a “Christian,” (which I doubt), he should take into consideration that the NT confirms the OT miraculous accounts. Therefore, at least by NT standards, the OT is true. If the OT is true, then science rightly practiced will validate what it has to say about Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the division of nations, as well as all other fantastic accounts of the Bible. The Institute for Creation Research does scientific research that confirms what the Bible has to say about creation and other matters of science. The Bible is not a science text book, but when it speaks on scientific matters, it is accurate and trustworthy. The scoffer knows neither the Bible nor science.

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A Day Is A Day

Evening and Morning Was One Day

Evening and Morning Was One Day

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4)

In a previous post, No Gap, I discussed the “Gap Theory” compromise of the biblical creation account.  The Gap Theory is only one of several compromises of theistic evolution.[1] Another popular compromise is the “Day-Age Theory.” This offshoot of theistic evolution maintains that God used long ages – billions of years – and evolution to create rather than the six literal days stated in the Bible. The Day-Age Theory attempts to stretch the days in Genesis 1into six long periods of undetermined time. “[The] ‘days’ of creation were interpreted figuratively as the ‘ages’ of geology.”[2]  In order to back up that assertion, the proponents of the Day-Age Theory will cite the psalm above or 2 Peter 3:8: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Besides the hermeneutical problems with this view, a logical dilemma arises that refutes any form of theistic evolution. To see this, one must have a clear understanding of who God is and what His attributes say about Him. To begin with, God is inconceivably great beyond anything the human mind can imagine. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, emphasis mine). Considering God’s “thoughts,” one of His attributes is that of omniscience; He is “all-knowing.” Hence, He innately knows all that can be known, and there is nothing He does not know. “Shall any teach God knowledge?” (Job 21:22). “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him?” (Job 40:2). “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Since that is so, why would God need to take billions of years to create by means of evolution, slowly developing from a single cell one thing, and then the next, and then the next, etc. until in the end He evolved man? That makes God out to be something of a mad scientist experimenting in a laboratory to see what He can come up with next. God does not need to experiment! God has nothing to learn; He has no need to practice. Besides all that, billions of years of evolution also involves billions of years of death. This is contrary to God’s nature. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4, emphasis mine). God is concerned with life, not death. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26, emphasis mine). If death existed before the completion of creation, God would have erred when He said that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Besides that, death before the fall creates greater theological problems. (I deal with this issue in No Gap.)

In addition we must consider God’s omnipotence; He is “all-powerful.” There is nothing He cannot do. “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14). “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Given that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, i.e., there is nothing impossible for Him, it is not unreasonable to believe the Genesis literal six-day account of creation. In fact, given His omniscience and omnipotence, He could certainly have created in an instant what He took six days to create.

Simple logic with a basic understanding of God’s nature refutes theistic evolution and the Day-Age Theory. Furthermore, these compromises fail when applying proper hermeneutical principals. A plain reading and understanding of the text of Genesis 1, as I explained in No Gap, precludes any possibility of long ages. The Hebrew word, yom, for day can only mean a normal 24-hour day. To further stress this point, God encapsulated the completion each creation day between the boundaries of “evening and morning.” There is no other way to interpret this narrative without pulling in from outside sources information not contained within the text. This system of hermeneutics is known as eisegesis – reading into the text what is not there.

The proponents of the Day-Age Theory in attempting to legitimize their compromise will cite 2 Peter 3:8 and Psalm 90:4, but when properly interpreted, in context, these passages speak of God’s eternal nature and have nothing to do with specifying time limits. God is not bound or limited by time; His transcendent nature places Him outside and inside of time simultaneously. Therefore, one day with Him is like one thousand years and one thousand years is like a day. Peter employs a literary device known as simile; otherwise he would have left off the “like.” Likewise Moses in his psalm says, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4, emphasis mine). But when God says He completed the work in one day, He means one day. So, why did He take six days to create rather than an instant? He created in six days and rested on the seventh day to set the pattern for our work week – six days of work, one day of rest. Have you noticed that the seven-day week is ubiquitous around the world? Furthermore, He wrote it in stone: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word yom for “day” used here in the Fourth Commandment, is the same word yom used in Genesis 1. God was not talking about long ages when He gave this commandment, and He was not talking about long ages when He gave His creation account.

Another argument offered by the compromisers suggests that Genesis uses “poetic” language. This argument falls apart simply by comparing the narrative text of Genesis 1-4 with the literary style of parallelism employed in the Wisdom Books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon). One does not even need knowledge of Hebrew to see the difference. So, claiming that Genesis 1 employs poetic language is a weak argument in support of a sad compromise.

No long ages fit into the narrative of Genesis 1. The Day-Age Theory compromises and weakens the Word of God. It is a diabolical instrument of Satan to create doubt for God’s Word, and disparage the very character and nature of God. There is no gap in Genesis 1, and there are no long ages. A day is a day, plain and simple.

Notes:


[1]  Henry M. Morris, “Evolution and the Bible,” http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-bible/, accessed 10/23/15.

[2]  Ibid.

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Marring the Image

This photo appeared on my Facebook News Feed. I have no idea who is pictured in this photo.

This photo appeared on my Facebook News Feed. I have no idea who is pictured in this photo.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

The image above appeared on my Facebook news feed recently. Naturally, there were many negative comments made about the young man, who I seriously doubt any of the commentators knew personally. What surprised me was what one young (I presume) lady said in his defense. In part she said, “The guy aint [sic] a pedophile, a murderer or a rapist, he has body modifications, so get over it. It is his body, his decision and he is not harming anyone.” How she knows that I haven’t an inkling. My guess is that she knows him as well as the other commentators, but what struck me was her assertion that “it is his body, his decision and he is not harming anyone.” All three points of her assertion are debatable, so let’s begin with that.

“It is his body.” Is it really? The best place to start is at the beginning. On the sixth day of creation, the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).  The Hebrew word translated “image” is tselem and it means an illusion, or resemblance – a representative figure. In other words, we were created to “look” like Him. God has a human body; His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. We were also created in His “likeness.” The Hebrew word translated “likeness” is demûth meaning resemblance or similitude. The commentator Albert Barnes notes that this implies a “‘likeness,’ in any quality.” Adam Clarke said:

The image and likeness must necessarily be intellectual; his mind, his soul, must have been formed after the nature and perfections of his God. The human mind is still endowed with most extraordinary capacities; it was more so when issuing out of the hands of its Creator. God was now producing a spirit, and a spirit, too, formed after the perfections of his own nature. God is the fountain whence this spirit issued, hence the stream must resemble the spring which produced it. God is holy, just, wise, good, and perfect; so must the soul be that sprang from him: there could be in it nothing impure, unjust, ignorant, evil, low, base, mean, or vile. It was created after the image of God … Hence man was wise in his mind, holy in his heart, and righteous in his actions.

So, as I look upon the young man in the picture, I see the image of God albeit marred. We take offense when we see some work of art vandalized. Our sensitivities are bruised when we see graffiti on public structures or buildings. Why? Because deep inside we know that the vandals do not have to right to disfigure the work of another. It is just wrong! In like manner, our bodies are God’s work of art! He created each one individually to bear His resemblance. The psalmist beautifully phrased it this way:

– I will praise thee [God]; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

– My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

– Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14-16)

Can we really say that our body is our own to do with as we wish – that it’s our decision? The Bible teaches otherwise. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Some may object, “Paul is addressing Christians.” Yes, and I see many “Christians” following the pattern set by pop culture. Again, I do not know anything about the young man in the picture. For all I know, he may claim to be a Christian. One thing is sure, God knows. The point, whether he is or isn’t a Christian, is that he has taken it upon himself to vandalize the image of God that he bears; he has no “right” to do that. Having been created in the image of God, he has free will to do as he wishes, and he has reasoning abilities to distinguish and decide how to exercise his will. But just as any vandal, he does not have the right to disfigure, damage, or destroy another’s property. God’s creation – all of it – is His property.

Who does it harm? Well, think of the possibilities. First of all, this person obviously has a low regard of his own worth. I am no psychiatrist or psychologist, but it seems obvious to me that he is desperately trying to draw attention to himself. He feels invisible otherwise. No one really sees him, so this is one way to shout, “Here I am! See me?” Someone who has a low regard for his own life will certainly not have a high regard for someone else’s life. The young lady who defended him saying that he is not “a pedophile, a murderer or a rapist,” had nothing on which to base that assessment. A pedophile has no regard for the value of a young child’s life. A murderer has no regard for the life of another human being. A rapist does not value the great worth of a woman. None of these sociopaths value the lives of their victims, and upon close examination, none of them value their own lives.

Someone who is willing to distort and disfigure their own appearance cannot be trusted. Some of the commentators on the Facebook post noted that this young man would have a lot of trouble getting a job. Is it any wonder? Unless one is running a tattoo parlor or a pot house, how many employers would be willing to put a face like that on their business? How many (sober) moms out would entrust a young child to the care of someone that looks like this? Yes, I hear the outcries of the self-righteous saying, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1 taken out of context). The “judging” in this case refers to God’s judgement, which is reserved solely to Him. But God, as part of His image, has given everyone the ability to “judge rightly,” i.e., discern. Further down in that same passage Jesus says, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6). Obviously, one has to exercise a certain amount of “judgement” to discern what is “holy” and who are the “dogs” and what are “pearls” and who are the “swine.” Likewise we, even in our fallen state, have the ability to make certain judgment calls. In teaching about “false prophets” Jesus said, “[By] their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). What is “fruit” but what a tree puts forth that can be seen and tasted. In the winter, when the trees have all lost their leaves, I can’t tell one tree from another; but when the summer comes, and I see the fruit that a tree is bearing, I know what kind of tree it is. Even if I were blind, I would still be able to smell and taste the fruit. People are the same; if they “look” messed up, they probably are, and they have the potential of harming others.

Now, I do not want to cast a broad net. I realize that people make mistakes that they later regret and their lives change, but the outward scars remain. I also realize that there are some people who look really good on the outside, but inwardly they are rotten to the core. A recent case in point were the would-be ISIS terrorists shot down in Garland, Texas by police before they were able to carry out their act of terror. The two men came from Phoenix, Arizona where neighbors in their apartment complex testified that these were two really nice guys. They were friendly toward their neighbors, helpful, hard workers, etc. – certainly not the kind that would attempt to commit such an atrocity. It goes to show that you cannot always judge by what you see; but most of the time you can.

Leaving the judgment of the heart to God, let’s focus back on just the image in the picture. Here is the image of God, distorted, disfigured, damaged and permanently scarred. What would possess someone do that to themselves? May I suggest Satan? Consider that Satan was created as a high-ranking angel, an archangel to be exact. In ranking, he was next to God (See “Why Satan?”). He, along with all the other angels, was created before God created man on Day Six of creation. He observed God’s care in the creation of man. He noted that God created man in His own image — not so the angels including Satan (Lucifer was his name). Lucifer watched as God gave to man dominion over all of His creation (Genesis 1:26-29), and now the angels were to serve man: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Oh! How this must have galled Lucifer! He has hated man ever since, and his goal from the beginning has been to mar the image of God – to destroy that which God most cherishes. When I look on the face of this young man, I see a young man so deceived by Satan that he succumbed to Satan’s bidding to mar the image of God that he carries. This image saddens me deeply. What saddens me more is when I see “Christians” ignorantly fall for the same deception – piercings, tattoos, immodest dress, vulgar language, etc. What kind of “fruit” do they exhibit? Appearances do matter. No one can judge the heart except God, but we are to bear His image and His likeness, and we cannot do that when we follow that pattern of the world that Satan displays as “pop culture.” Whose image shall we bear? Shall we persist on marring the image of God, or shall we remember that we “have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10).

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