Contending For The Faith

March 27, 2009

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture

Filed under: Bible Study,eschatology — Lynda O @ 1:49 pm
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Something I am really beginning to understand and appreciate, is the simple concept that we interpret scripture “with scripture.” We don’t need to look outside the Bible to find the answer to something, to allegorize or “spiritualize” some unintended meaning from a text. Instead, look to the Bible itself, and so often one passage can be explained, or understood more clearly, by looking at similar passages elsewhere in scripture.

Jim McClarty said something similar, specifically in connection with Revelation, in his eschatology series message #108 — that all of the symbolic imagery and figures used in Revelation can be found elsewhere in the Bible, either directly or alluded to elsewhere in scripture, and explained. How true this is, and so amazing! For just a sampling of things I’ve learned through further study on this subject:

  • Revelation 9 — the locust army of Revelation 9, the fifth trumpet, has a parallel in Joel 2.
  • Revelation 12 — The woman crowned with the sun, moon and 12 stars relates back to Genesis 37, Joseph’s dream in which the sun, moon and 11 stars bowed down to him; his father Jacob interpreted it, as “your father and mother and brothers” and so we understand that the woman represents Israel
  • Revelation 20 — The description here, of what happens at the end of the thousand years, including the reference to Gog and Magog, fits perfectly with Ezekiel 38 and 39.
  • Revelation 6 and 9 — The golden altar in heaven is the parallel (the real thing) to the golden incense altar in the Mosaic tabernacle and temple. This was the altar of incense, representing prayers and our access to God — always in connection with the brazen altar of burnt sacrifices. In Revelation 6, the fifth seal has the souls under the altar, and their prayers for vengeance going up to God. Then in Revelation 9 the golden altar represents God’s vengeance, in the sixth trumpet judgement.
  • The plagues described in Revelation remind us of similar plagues done to Egypt
  • Rev. 14:19-20 — the great wine press of the wrath of God, has its parallel in Joel 3:9-15. Zechariah 14:1-9 also describes similar events of Armageddon, the Day of the Lord

Interpreting scripture with scripture is not limited to prophecy, though in this area it is especially helpful. I see how very true it is that Revelation is a Jewish book, literally filled with many Old Testament references to help explain it, references which those who know their Old Testament can understand.

It is exciting to see it all unfold, how Bible verses in one place relate to other parts of scripture and reveal new details in God’s word. The Bible is such a great treasure, God’s word to us, with so much in it that we can always keep learning and studying it, always growing in our understanding.

Here, too, I appreciate the great cross-referencing Bible reading plan from Professor Horner. Daily reading from different sections of the Bible, and always in different combinations of readings, is a great way to let scripture interpret scripture, bringing things to mind that we might not have thought about. I mentioned some of these “connections” in my last blog–similarities between Joshua and Peter, for instance, or the connection between Acts 5 (an actual event of people suffering for the name of Christ) and Romans 5 (the doctrinal background, suffering produces perseverance).

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Bible Reading, Day 5

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 7:23 am
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Acts 5 reminds me of what I read in Joshua 4 yesterday. Joshua 4:14: “On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.” In Acts 5, the Lord does many great miracles and exalts Peter as a leader, so that people would even put the sick on beds on the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on them (verse 15). Peter is clearly the leader in Acts 5.

Now to Joshua 5:14-15 — the man with the sword, “captain of the host of the Lord.” Is this a theophany/Christophany? Joshua falls down and worships him (here I reference John in Revelation–twice he fell down to worship an angel, and was rebuked for doing so), and in verse 15 the man tells him “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” — similar to the description of God with Moses at the burning bush.

Matthew 5:35 — do not swear “by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” — I had forgotten this part of the verse. Not only are heaven and earth significant, but also Jerusalem.

At the end of Acts 5, the apostles rejoiced that they had been found worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. Immediately afterward I read Romans 5, and verse 3 says: “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.”

Romans 5 gives more explanation of what it means to suffer, what is good about it. The apostles in Acts 5 rejoiced in their sufferings, and certainly they did persevere, as the rest of Acts tells us. Romans 5 is the theology and doctrine of it, and Acts 5 shows it in action.

March 26, 2009

Bible Reading Observations, Day 4

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 10:59 am
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I’m now on day 4 of the Horner Bible reading plan, easily reading through 12 chapters each day. It’s great to get brief readings from so many different parts of the Bible and see how they relate to each other.

Here are a few of my observations, from day 3 and day 4 readings. For these days I read the third and fourth chapters of Genesis, Joshua, 1 Kings, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Hosea, Matthew, Acts, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians.

Genesis 3, the fall, gives the curse on women –“your desire will be for your husband” — and as I’ve learned from a John MacArthur sermon, the “desire” here is the same as in Genesis 4, where Cain is told that sin is crouching at the door and desires to have him: the desire to rule over the husband. Isaiah 3 describes judgement against Israel and a scene where the women rule and control, where the men are weak.

The ideas of judgement and the last days (as in Isaiah and Hosea), and Christ’s return (Acts 3 and 1 Thessalonians 3) are major themes in many of the readings so far. Acts 3 mentions the “times of refreshing” and that Jesus must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets (Acts 3:21). In 1 Thessalonians the Lord’s coming is often mentioned, as a hopeful and encouraging thing for His people.

Genesis 4 tells the terrible beginnings of sinful mankind, in the first generations after Adam and Eve — murder, deceit.

Hosea 4 shows sin full-blown, thousands of years later, in a people that God says are full of deceit and murder, a situation similar to that in Romans 1, where God gives them over to their sin and depravity; the people despise wisdom and knowledge.

Hosea 4:17 — “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!” I remember this verse from John MacArthur’s sermon, “A Nation Abandoned by God,”  in which he also related it to Romans 1 and God’s wrath against nations.

On the topic of wisdom, Proverbs 4 continues telling the greatness of wisdom. 1 Kings 4 gives an example from history of the Israelites experiencing God’s blessings, with Solomon the king who seeks after wisdom and writes many proverbs and songs.

Romans 4 contains Paul’s discussion of Abraham’s faith, before circumcision, and how Abraham is the father to the uncircumcised, as well as to the circumcised who are also of the faith of Abraham. This ties in with Jim McClarty’s message #107 (Is the Church Israel? Part 2), which I listened to yesterday. Indeed, just reading Romans 4, it makes perfect sense that Abraham is describing two groups — Jews and Gentiles, both the children of Abraham; and Abraham is the father of many nations. But as the text plainly reads, Paul never equates the two groups as being the same, he never says that believing Gentiles are now Jews. As elsewhere Paul talks of both male and female, slave and free, and Jew and Gentile, all enjoying the same salvation in Christ, yet Paul never says that the males and females, or the slaves and free, lose their distinctiveness such that one of the two in each group somehow “becomes” the other.

March 25, 2009

Professor Horner’s 10-List Bible Reading Plan

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 7:19 am
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This week I started Grant Horner’s Bible Reading Plan for 10 lists, with some modifications into a 12-list plan.   Here is a link to a blog with the full description from Professor Horner’s Facebook group.  I’ve been reading through the Bible regularly since the early 1990s, within a few years after I was saved. I don’t remember exactly when I started “read the Bible” plans, though in my early Christian days I just read and read from different passages of the Bible. The first plan I took from the suggested reading in the “Our Daily Bread” devotional, and even cut and pasted all the monthly listings onto a sheet of paper. In the modern Internet age, for several years I’ve done parts of two different e-mail plans, as mentioned in this previous blog

Horner’s plan, modified from a Chick tract, includes reading from ten different lists, a chapter a day.  Each list is of a different length, and when you reach the end of a list, you go back to the beginning of that list.

The lists are:

  • The Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
  • OT History (Joshua through Esther)
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Wisdom books (Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs)
  • Major and minor prophets (Isaiah through Malachi)
  • The Gospels
  • Acts
  • Major Epistles (Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews)
  • Other NT (1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-2-3 John, Jude, Revelation)

He lists them in a different order, but I’ve found that this chronological order works best for me. The plan is also very flexible and can be modified. Like a few others, I found that the history and prophets lists were too long — 250 days to get through the full lists. So I divided the Prophets readings into the Major and Minor prophets, and for next time through will put Daniel at the top of the minor prophets list–to even out the two lists as much as possible. At first I thought 10 chapters would be too much, and had shifted Acts to the end of the gospel list.

Reading 10 chapters a day really doesn’t take that long, especially when I have all the bookmarks in the correct places in my Bible, so I added an 11th list with Acts — and Revelation, from another person’s suggested change. Next I divided the history books into two nearly equal lists, one of history up through David (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles), and the other for history after David (1-2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther). I’ve set it up as an Excel template and calendar to help keep track of the readings.

So far I’m enjoying it, now on my third day.  The 12 different readings bring out a lot of overall Bible themes as I jump through different time periods of God’s unfolding redemptive plan.  I’ll be journaling my observations from the readings here, so stay tuned.

March 21, 2009

Various thoughts from Bible reading

Filed under: Bible Study,John MacArthur — Lynda O @ 11:42 am

In my reading of John 20 this month (in the reading plan to read John 15 – 21 every day), I consider the parallel passages of the resurrection. Thomas wasn’t there and didn’t believe those who told him. But the other disciples also didn’t believe those who told them — the women — as mentioned in Mark 16:14.

A few great thoughts to remember, from MacArthur’s “Grace to You” radio program.
These are excerpted from a message he delivered to the students at The Master’s College, about how to find a good church.

From the March 20, 2007 show:

“what happens is this dumbing down of a whole culture gets brought into a dumbed-down church environment and there’s very little ability to rise above that, apparently, and to think great and grand and glorious and profound and compelling and searching things about our God.   … You worship God at whatever level your understanding of God allows you.  If you have a superficial understanding of God, then that’s how you worship because the substance of your worship is the content of your belief.”

From the March 21, 2007 show: MacArthur tells the story of a seminar where he and others were given a paper cup, and each person had 45 minutes to construct the cup in a way that told others about themselves. MacArthur put a hole in the bottom of the cup — his explanation later was that he was a conduit for God’s word to flow through him.

March 5, 2009

Daniel 12: The Great Tribulation

Filed under: Bible Study,Daniel,eschatology,John MacArthur — Lynda O @ 12:57 pm
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Now to wrap up the study of Daniel, with a look at the 12th and last chapter. Here I reference John MacArthur’s first sermon on “The Great Tribulation” part 1. 

Daniel 12 opens with a message of hope, with the opening words “and at that time.” Here it is clear that the last verses of chapter 11 refer to the time of the end, for chapter 12 continues without break from the previous events. The next few verses make it clear what will happen: Michael will arise, a great time of distress will come, followed by the resurrection of the dead: some to everlasting life, some to everlasting shame and contempt. As I now have been studying through Revelation, up to chapter 6 in that study, I see even more how the different, parallel passages in scripture describe and give details to the same event in the future, and the very fact that the time of trouble is connected with the resurrection should make it obvious (and here I think of the Preterist error) that this has not happened yet.

Here are a few highlights regarding Daniel chapter 12, from MacArthur’s sermons:

Special distress: The “time of distress” is a special distress, none like any before it, and the term is a Hebrew idiom, a term used and described elsewhere throughout the Old and New Testament: Exodus 9 (verses 18 and 24), Deuteronomy 4:30, Jeremiah’s reference to “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7); also Zechariah 13:8. Jesus describes it in Matthew 24, and Revelation 6 through 19 give the details of the last 3 1/2 years of this time.

The hope comes — Michael, a special defender. Described several places in scripture, he is the one given the “singular responsibility of defending the people of God.” Earlier in Daniel, Michael assisted Gabriel (Daniel 10); in Jude verse 9 Michael is even fighting Satan for the body of Moses. Revelation chapter 12 gives more description here; after the child (Christ) was snatched up to heaven, and after the woman (Israel) fled into the desert to be protected for 1,260 days (another reference to this same 3 1/2 year period of time) — in verse 7 Michael and the holy angels fight against the dragon. Daniel 12:7 also clues us to the time reference, that the events of the previous verses (about Michael coming, great distress, and the resurrection) are for “a time, times, and half a time” — another way of describing the 3 1/2 years.

Next comes a special deliverance: “But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered.” Jeremiah 30 agrees here, as does Romans 11, “and so all Israel will be saved.” Ezekiel 20:33 similarly describes this time of deliverance. As MacArthur points out, not every Jew alive on the earth at that time will be saved; God is going to purge, put them under the rod (Ezekiel 20); Zechariah 13:9 says two-thirds will die. We don’t know how this remnant comes to faith, and the Bible doesn’t give us all the specifics, but one of the key things to remember is the two witnesses set apart by God, in Revelation 11; Revelation 7 and Revelation 14 tell of the 144,000 evangelistic witnesses — 12,000 from each of the tribes — during this time.

A special destiny: the climax to the Tribulation is the resurrection. Some Bible scholars (see, for example, this blog article regarding New Covenant Theology, that the Jews were unsaved, unregenerate and served only as a type of the true people of God) contend that the Jews never had a clear understanding of life after death, but several passages tell us otherwise: Abraham clearly understood (see Hebrews 11:19), also Job 19:25; Isaiah 26:19; Hosea 13, and the words of David in Psalm 16:10. Revelation 20 gives more detail about this very special resurrection, and here a synopsis: the first resurrection has three parts: 1) Christ, the firstfruits; 2) the church at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” and then they who are alive are caught up together to meet the Lord in the air”); 3) the raising of the Old Testament saints, and the Tribulation saints. As noted here, the church is removed and not involved in the Great Tribulation; we weren’t in the first 69 weeks, we aren’t going to be in the 70th either; God is then going to go back to dealing with Israel, then “after the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” The second resurrection has just one part, a thousand years later at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when God raises the bodies of the unjust, and they go into the lake of fire. Now Daniel does not see the thousand years in between, this is part of the flow of redemptive history and progressive revelation. The Old Testament prophets wrote many things they did not understand (as Peter later states), things which often included great leaps from Christ’s first coming to his second, all in the same sentence.

Finally, a special dividend: verse 3 “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” As MacArthur describes it, “in eternity we will be rewarded by the capacity to manifest the blazing glory of God… in eternity we will shine as stars.”

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