Contending For The Faith

September 17, 2009

Horner Bible Reading Plan: Six Months Later

I’ve now been following the Horner Bible Reading Plan for six months, sticking to it on a daily basis with few exceptions.  Now at day 183, I’m nearing the end of Deuteronomy (List 2), the last list to complete.  When I restart with Genesis in a few days, I plan to try reading two chapters a day, at least in the easier narrative chapters.

Retention of all this reading comes gradually, yet after several reads through shorter lists such as Proverbs and the New Testament Acts and Epistles, I note and recall many more details (that went unnoticed with once-a-year readings), such as the following:

  • Colossians (chapter 2) makes reference to a church in Laodicea; this reminds me of Revelation 3, the church in Laodicea a generation later.
  • Proverbs has many statements echoed in the New Testament.  Proverbs 25:6-7 speaks to a matter Jesus mentioned, to not seek the highest place of honor at the table.  Proverbs 25:14 is a clear mention of something later said in Jude 12.

Proverbs 25:14 (NIV) — Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.

Jude 12 — speaking of the false teachers, says “They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind”

  • Similarities and contrasts in Paul’s letters to, in list 3, the Corinthians, versus the Philippians and Thessalonians of list 4.  One really gets a feel for Paul’s heart, his affection for the Phillipians, and his care for (and frustration with) the immature Corinthians.  Paul writes similar things to the Thessalonians and Corinthians; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:5-9, and 1 Corinthians 9 (including verses 12 and 15).

One Old Testament “connection” that could only come from a combination of different readings:  on the same day I read Judges 20 (list 8), the destruction of most of the tribe of Benjamin, I also read 2 Chronicles 14 (list 9), which details a military event that includes many Benjamites.  A good combination of readings to show that indeed the tribe of Benjamin recovered from its near-destruction several centuries earlier.

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August 21, 2009

Bible Details Matter

Filed under: Bible Study,John MacArthur,S. Lewis Johnson — Lynda O @ 6:20 am
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Regular Bible Study and repeated readings of the Bible really help with understanding scripture and its meaning and context, and increase our ability to discern truth and error in the teachings of our pastors/teachers.  Consider the following example from my recent readings.

2 Thessalonians 3:17-18 (ESV):  ” I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

The previous day I had read chapter 2, which begins thus:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (ESV):   Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

It is clear from these verses, and the rest of 2 Thessalonians 2, that someone had sent a forged letter claiming to be from Paul, in which they claimed a false doctrine:  that the day of the Lord has come.  The reason for Paul’s closing comment in 2 Thess. 3:17 is also clear:  his original handwritten letter had some distinguishing feature by which the Thessalonians could recognize his writing as compared to a forgery.  As John MacArthur remarked, Paul must have had a unique signature that was not easy to duplicate.

All of this is so straightforward, so why do I even bring it up?  Something as simple as this can be twisted to teach something completely unrelated, as I have seen from a not-so-solid pastor.  Twice in the last fifteen years he has preached through the book of Hebrews, and both times he began his series with an “introduction” message that included many great “proofs” for authorship by the apostle Paul.  One of the “proofs” he cited is that Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18, said “this is the sign …. it is the way I write.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all,” and in the book of Hebrews the author closes the letter with the same phrase “Grace be with you all.”  This pastor then proceeded to show many examples (even having the congregation actually turn their Bibles to each of these passages) where Paul closed his letters with that same phrase “Grace be with you all,” and also showed how the non-Pauline epistles did not end with that same phrase.  In the pastor’s thinking, Paul’s comment to the Thessalonians that “this is the way I write” is directly connected with the next sentence “Grace be with you all.”  Therefore, any epistle that ends with that same phrase, including the book of Hebrews, must be showing Paul’s special mark of authenticity.

Obviously this pastor completely missed the seemingly obvious point of 2 Thessalonians chapters 2 and 3.  Paul’s concern was to show the Thessalonians some physical way to distinguish his letters from that of a forgery.  The closing phrase “Grace be with you all” could just as easily be put into a forged note as into a real note, and the words themselves say nothing as to the genuineness of Paul’s authorship.  After all, I know many people who sign their letters with “In Christ,” or “Regards,” but does that mean that all such letters were written by the same person?  As to the authorship of the book of Hebrews, I’ll go with John MacArthur’s and S. Lewis Johnson’s teaching on this: we don’t know who wrote Hebrews, but it was not Paul.  S. Lewis Johnson made an interesting point here, in a brief reference to the topic:  the style of writing of Hebrews is very different from Paul’s letters, and this is much more clear in the original Greek texts.  (From which it is also safe to infer that the above pastor doesn’t know Greek, at least not that well; and considering that he is self-taught, never went to seminary, that too makes sense.)

I don’t know the Greek language, but as a layperson who studies God’s word (in my own language, English) I can study it for its context and meaning, and along the way discern whether what a pastor-teacher says agrees with what the Bible says in its context, its meaning.  Some examples of such discernment are of course easier than others, and the pastors that demonstrate many obvious errors (as with the pastor cited above) easily prove themselves to be poor teachers and even false teachers.  Of course we can all find something we don’t agree with, or some factual error.  I’ve even found a few factual errors, in the use of certain sermon examples / illustrations, from John MacArthur and S. Lewis Johnson; though in these the error was with the illustration itself and not related to any actual biblical teaching.  After all, all teachers are only human and without perfect knowledge; but some are much closer to the truth than others.

August 5, 2009

“Whenever You’re Speaking To Me”

The title here is from a Don Francisco song, with the following joyous lyrics:

There’s nothing I’ve heard that compares with your word,
the strength in it can set me so free.
There’s joy deep inside, that can’t be denied,
Whenever you’re speakin’ to me.

Every day as I spend time in God’s word (which nowadays means reading a set of 12 different chapters, about 40 minutes each day) I continue to find great encouragement to keep pressing on in the Christian walk. When so often I feel discouraged, and long for the rapture to be away from this wicked world, I find the strength to carry on. When on Sunday afternoon I was especially bothered about the local pastor’s disparaging remarks regarding premillennial eschatology (such as a passing comment that, oh, the book of Revelation contains a lot of symbols, it can’t be taken too seriously), the reading time again refreshed my spirit, to continue on with hope in God’s final deliverance.

The following are specific examples from recent readings (day 142). I read, as in today’s reading from Luke 8, of the Gadarene demoniac freed from demons, longing to go with Jesus; Jesus did not let him, but instead told him to go and tell others what God had done for him. In the same chapter I read of the fearful disciples on the boat, while Jesus slept in the storm, and then Jesus calmed the storm. I read in Hebrews 11 and 12 of the great saints of old, and the example they give to us, for holy living. The holy living theme continues in Titus 1, a place of wickedness much like today’s world, and yet Titus had to remain in that situation to put it in order, to do the work of God in a dark world. I read in the historical books (Joshua 8, 2 Kings 3) of mighty ways in which God delivered His people and brought victory against Israel’s enemies. Isaiah 6 shows the full awesomeness and glory of God, a scene similar to that of many others in the Bible who reacted with great fear at seeing a glimpse of the holy God. Amos 9 tells of judgement to come, as well as great deliverance for God’s people Israel in the final days after the great tribulation. Then (list 12) Revelation 7 tells of the vast number of peoples who will be saved in that last day, the 144,000 Israelites and the uncounted multitude from every nation, who come out of the great tribulation.

Spurgeon spoke of the great blessings that come from knowing God and how through that we grow in our faith:

“Every believer understands that to know God is the highest and best form of knowledge; and this spiritual knowledge is a source of strength to the Christian. It strengthens his faith. Believers are constantly referred to in the Bible as people who are enlightened and taught by the Lord; they are said to “have been anointed by the Holy One,”1 and it is the Spirit’s peculiar office to lead them into all truth, so that they might grow in their faith. Knowledge strengthens love as well as faith. … Knowledge also strengthens hope. … Knowledge supplies us with reason for patience.

Like Don Francisco, I can sing:

‘Cause like the rain from the sky on a thirsty land,
Your word brought life to a dying man.
From desert to garden,
condemnation to pardon,
and all of the praise goes to You!

and

With Your spirit inside and Your Word as my guide,
I’ve got a sense of direction so strong.

August 4, 2009

A Look at Some Free Bible Software

Filed under: Bible Software,Bible Study — Lynda O @ 11:37 am
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I recently discovered two great, free bible programs: e-Sword and TheWord. These programs have actually been around for awhile; I started hearing about e-Sword on some Christian message boards, and since have downloaded and tried them out.

Both programs have a basic program which includes KJV and basic functionality, and many optional modules to add additional Bible versions, commentaries, dictionaries and more. E-Sword appears to have more overall modules, including several available for a small fee in addition to the many free modules. TheWord does not have any maps yet, though I noticed it has a category for that in the download section; no doubt they will add map modules in the future. In both cases, the free modules are often public domain material, such as Spurgeon devotionals, Matthew Henry commentary and Scofield reference notes.

TheWord has an importer utility that can import and convert e-Sword modules. However, it only works with earlier versions of e-Sword. The current version of e-Sword, version 9 (just released this May), has its databases completely redone in new formats. Also, earlier versions of e-Sword apparently had the ability to show Bible text in paragraph format, in addition to the verse-line format. That feature was accidentally omitted from the current version, and when I inquired about it, they acknowledged this mistake and said it would be added back to the next version.

Paragraph format text, along with footnotes and the “headers” included in a translation, are important features to me, and for this TheWord is the winner. TheWord allows you to display the text in either verse-line or paragraph format. You can also adjust the settings to show the footnotes at the bottom of the chapter, or in-stream at the verse, or as numbers that show the footnote when you move your mouse over the number. TheWord also displays the text with many small blue-colored links throughout — cross-references based on similar words and/or ideas in some other part of the Bible. These also display in pop-up windows when I move my mouse over the link.

E-Sword has one great feature, but the lack of paragraph formatted text makes it of limited value. The “bible reading plan” option allows you to create one or more “reading plans.” You can define each reading plan to all of the Bible, or any specific books. The default option is one chapter a day, though you can change it to other time periods. Using this feature, I was able to set up 12 reading plans, one for each list I read in my modified Horner Bible Reading plan. When you select each list from the drop-down, it shows the full text for the first day’s chapter. A check-box at the top of the screen allows you to mark a reading as completed, so the next day when you access the list, it shows the correct chapter. (Obviously it helps to set up the reading plan when you actually start reading the chapters. In my case, I was in the middle of several of the lists, and it takes quite a bit of time to go through each day’s reading and “check it off” to get to where I’m actually reading.)

Given the format limitations of E-Sword, however, I found an even better way to quickly access my 12 daily readings in TheWord. I already have an Excel file “calendar” that lists all the chapter readings. A one-time save to CSV format, then loading the CSV file into Wordpad and removing the commas, gives a basic text file with each day’s readings, line by line. With TheWord running in another window, I just go into the wordpad file, and highlight and copy each scripture reference on the schedule — for instance, highlight “Isaiah 1” and copy to clipboard. TheWord displays a pop-up window in Wordpad (or whatever program you’re using to copy to the clipboard), with the full text displayed, and a link to “go” to the full view in TheWord. It only takes a few seconds to highlight, copy, then click “go” and I’m reading the full chapter, with my paragraph formatting, in TheWord. I also maximize the text window for easier reading.

TheWord also has a way to import text files (stored in rtf format), and create book entries from these. I tested it out with the transcripts from some S. Lewis Johnson messages, one message per file. Each file (transcript) is considered a chapter in the “book” and you can easily link to any of the chapters, or search for text anywhere in the book. Once the first few chapters of the book are setup, you can easily modify the chapter names, and add new chapters anywhere in the sequence. So if one had the time and desire, with TheWord you could add all of SLJ’s transcripts (or any other pastor or book series transcripts available online) as various books (each book having all the transcripts in a sermon series), to have all of the material easily accessible and searchable.

TheWord is available for free download at: http://www.theword.gr

July 16, 2009

Why Satan Must Be Released (Rev. 20:3)

I’ve just completed S. Lewis Johnson’s 37-part eschatology series, which cleared up and explained more questions I had concerning the tribulation and the Millennial kingdom.

One interesting item is the purpose of the Millennial Kingdom age (in SLJ’s message 35). Revelation 20:3 states that, after having been bound, Satan must be released for a short time. The Greek term for must indicates logical necessity; it is not that Satan will or shall be loosed, but that he must. In considering this text, S. Lewis Johnson points out that in each successive “age” or dispensation, God gives man some additional “help” to answer the human objection of what was lacking in the previous dispensation. Each successive age removes another human excuse, as again and again man still fails miserably even with extra assistance, showing his true wickedness and depravity.

In the “age of conscience” (from Adam to the flood), man lacked human government and its restraints: basic capital punishment. So the “age of human government” (Noahic era) answered that objection with new directives (Genesis 9). Then came the era of divine principles — the Abrahamic covenant, and the Mosaic covenant (the law) — and again man failed. Our present Church Age answers the previous system’s objection: our inability to keep the law. Now we have divine enablement with the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. Yet even this is not appropriated by all (only by believers), and is not perfectly appropriated even by believers. Thus, as the scriptures tell us, this age will end in general apostasy.  As S. Lewis Johnson explains it:

Well, someone might say after this age is over, the reason that this age ended in general apostasy is that we had satanic opposition. Surely, we had divine enablement, but we had satanic opposition and Satan’s opposition is too much for us.

The next age, the Millennial kingdom, addresses the current-day objection of “the devil made me do it,” by the binding of Satan. So the Millennial kingdom gives man every possibility to succeed. Man has more than the divine enablement of the Church Age, he actually has Christ reigning on the throne in Jerusalem, with only resurrected saints and living believers entering the kingdom. It is a time of true peace, Israel in the land, worshipping, with Jesus reigning there; the Gentiles come to Jerusalem for the feasts (Zechariah 14, Isaiah 66), and the people have long life spans in the manner of the pre-flood age. Man also is free from demonic influence during this time. Yet the end of it proves even further that, left to himself, without Satan’s influence, man still rises up in rebellion against God. Every inducement to do good, and every human excuse for man’s failure, has been tried by the end of that age.

Thus we see the logical reason why Satan must be released. There is sin and death in the Millennial kingdom; it is not the final consummation of God’s plans. Satan’s “second coming” accomplishes two purposes: it demonstrates Satan’s utter incorrigibility, and it demonstrates human depravity.

Now, what then is God demonstrating through all of these ages? Well, he is demonstrating the sinfulness of the human heart. He is demonstrating original sin. He is demonstrating condemnation. He is demonstrating the fact that it is impossible for a man in the flesh to please God. So I think that probably is the explanation of that statement, And after that, he must be loosed for a little season. There is a logical necessity for God to demonstrate that even though Satan is not here, still man is sinful and rebels against the revelation of God.

 

July 15, 2009

Some insights from S. Lewis Johnson

Filed under: Bible Study,eschatology,S. Lewis Johnson — Lynda O @ 6:36 am
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I’ve really been enjoying listening to S. Lewis Johnson, to his messages from Genesis, as well as his 37-part eschatology series. Here are a few good thoughts to remember:

From the end of Genesis 3: Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed. The Lord clothed them with the animal skins. Then the Lord Jesus took that shame of nakedness on the cross — He was naked on the cross, taking on Himself that shame that Adam and Eve originally experienced.

From Genesis 4: Cain was the first seed of the serpent, and Abel the first righteous one to die. S. Lewis Johnson considers the issue of what Eve said when she gave birth to Cain, pointing out that some have constructed the Hebrew to say that she thought Cain was the promised seed. SLJ does not hold to that view (a view I first learned from John MacArthur), but does agree that Eve clearly expresses her understanding as a believer, that God was the one that gave her the child.

From both the Genesis and Eschatology series, I’ve learned about the significance of the creation and its curse — and the necessary reversal of the curse on the creation. In Genesis 3 the curse is pronounced on mankind, and in Christ that curse is reversed. So too the creation was cursed, and that curse will be reversed, at the renewal and restoration, when our Lord returns everything to the ideal condition of Genesis and the Garden of Eden, as described in Revelation 21 and 22. Paul in Romans 8 speaks of the creation itself groaning and in travail, waiting for the renewal.  As S. Lewis Johnson says:

the whole of this creation will be refashioned, and we shall have a glorious refashioned earth upon which the Lord Jesus will rule and reign in righteousness and in justice.

Jesus also speaks of this in Matthew 19:28 — that at the renewal of all things, the disciples will also sit on twelve thrones;  here again is a reference to the renewal of the creation as well. It is indeed very reasonable to see that, just as He redeemed our souls and will resurrect and give us physical bodies, so He will also redeem and restore creation to that “utopian” condition.

Amillennialists are so plagued by the Greek notion that anything physical cannot also be spiritual, that physical means sinful and carnal and material. Yet in this life we see it all the time, that the physical and spiritual co-exist. SLJ tells a great “parable” (from a true event) about a gathering of preachers at a banquet, enjoying fried chicken while discussing their views of the future kingdom.

If the kingdom of God can exist now on the earth in a 200-pound preacher full of fried chicken without any reprehensible materialistic connotation, perhaps it also can exist in eating and drinking under more perfect conditions in a future millennial kingdom.

To the amillennialist charge of “how ridiculous” a millennial kingdom would be, with resurrected saints walking around and interacting with non-glorified saints (those still living in their natural bodies), the most obvious answer is: well, Jesus Himself in His resurrected body interacted with non-glorified bodies, coming and going for 40 days.

I encourage everyone interested in good Bible exposition to read and/or listen to S. Lewis Johnson, a great resource for Bible teaching. Some of the audio files are of poor quality, from original tape recordings in the 1970s, but for the most part the audio is good. The SLJ Institute also has transcripts of all his messages.

June 18, 2009

Great Christian Influences

This is a common topic on Internet blogs and message boards: list your favorite Bible teachers, or list the ones you’re most influenced by / learned from, etc.

Over time I find this list changes, and it’s always interesting to see the lists from others. Many of the names are unfamiliar, though over time I begin to hear more about those individuals. My own list is much smaller than others, those who obviously have been studying from many Christian teachers over many years.

Here is my own list of those great influences:

  • John MacArthur
  • Phil Johnson
  • Charles Spurgeon
  • S. Lewis Johnson

I’ve studied some from a few other names during the last 12 months– R.C. Sproul, Jim McClarty–but these are the important ones, and really more than I have enough time for in any given week. Unlike the Cal.vini.st  blogger, I don’t have an iPod to do podcasts, so I’m sticking with the “old” technology of MP3 files played on my computer, or burned to CDs and CD-RWs to play on the home DVD player or the car stereo.

My typical week includes:

  • listening to at least two John MacArthur sermons in my car, CD-RW discs with WAV files — currently listening to his Revelation series, up to chapter 16.
  • reading Charles Spurgeon devotionals (from Alistair Begg’s “Truth for Life” daily devotional emails), and reading a few sermons from the 1855 New Park Street volume
  • reading some of Pulpit magazine  and Teampyro blogs
  • listening to S. Lewis Johnson MP3s: half a sermon (about 23 – 25 minutes) each weekday morning before going to work.  I just started his series through Genesis.  Also, listening to MP3s of SLJ’s eschatology series, usually one message each weekday, on my PC at work (currently finished up through number 20 out of 37)

I’ve especially come to appreciate S. Lewis Johnson recently — a name I had often heard in the last several months, as being of like theological views to John MacArthur and Grace Community Church (baptist, Calvinist, dispensational). He really was a great teacher as well, with great depth of teaching (what I also appreciate about John MacArthur), and now I hope to listen to all of his messages, available on the Believer’s Chapel website (link here), and I’ll start by going through from Genesis to Revelation, all of his scripture-book messages.

May 13, 2009

More Bible Reading Observations

I’ve completed day 55 in the Horner Bible Reading plan, and continue to be amazed at all the cross-references and overall view of God’s word discovered through this reading plan. The cross-reference texts sometimes come a few days apart, but close enough together to remember. For instance, just five days after reading Luke 2 – a passage that ends by describing how Jesus grew in stature and favor with God and men — I read 1 Samuel 2 and an interesting, similar verse (1 Samuel 2:26) about young Samuel. Recently I read Zechariah 4, about the lampstand and two olive trees; the next day I read Revelation 11, which describes the two witnesses as being the two lampstands and two olive trees. I had learned about this parallel a few weeks ago, from a John MacArthur MP3, Revelation 11 sermon, but here I actually read the two passages, and only a day apart. This also goes to show that we need not hold rigidly to Horner’s actual ten list plan; I would not have even been reading Zechariah 4, but only the one prophecy passage of Isaiah, in the 10 list plan. Yet the overall concept still holds, of multiple genre readings that highlight the overall themes in God’s word.

A few more “gems” from recent reading:

  • 1 Samuel 5 shows some of the darker history concerning God’s covenant with Israel, when the ark is captured. The same day reading of 2 Chronicles 7 showcases the high point, the dedication of Solomon’s temple, in which was placed that same ark.
  • Review of Israel’s history is common: Judges 11 includes a reference to Moses’ time and the battles for land, and later conflict with the Ammonites. Acts 7 is Stephen’s speech to the Jews, a summary overview of a lot of their history. Now I’m reading Exodus, the beginning of the conflict with Pharoah; 1 Samuel 6 includes the Philistines talking about that past event, Pharoah hardened his heart, and then when God “treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?”
  • Frequent references to the surrounding nations and their gods: Judges 9:6 mentions the “gods of Aram” (Arameans); in 2 Kings 12, they’re still dealing with the Arameans and the king of Aram

I continue to make slight changes to my actual reading. After reading through just the minor prophets this time, for next time I’ll add Ezekiel to that list — to even out the lengths of the two lists. Soon I’ll implement a switch in List 12 (Acts) to alternate between Acts and Revelation. To even out the two epistle lists without Revelation, I will move Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians from list 3 to the beginning of list 4.

Like others who’ve come to enjoy this reading plan, I cannot go back to only reading three chapters a day — the typical required reading of the typical “Bible in a year” plans. I’ve recently heard about the “Bible in 90 Days” plan, from people who prefer reading the Bible sequentially for context, and found the reading schedule online. That schedule shows even more why I prefer my multi-list reading: the 90-day plan involves reading up to 16 chapters a day, all in the same place in the Bible. Often the reading starts and ends in the middle of a chapter, and just remembering where to start and stop would be difficult to remember — print-out list definitely required. The multi-list plan is easy enough to remember, with small post-it notes at the starting point for each reading. I just move the sticky note to the end of the chapter to mark the next day’s starting point. Whereas even on the 90 day plan you don’t read any of the New Testament for the first 60 days, here I’m always reading four selections out of the New Testament. Even better, this plan has no ending point; you start each list over individually, but the overall reading continues its flow.

I do my daily readings with my “smallest” Bible, an NIV hard-back Topical Study Bible. Soon — well, in the next two months — I plan to buy a basic ESV Bible (courtesy of E-Rewards “dollars” redeemable for $15 of Borders Rewards), and that should work even better, a smaller Bible to carry around. Plus it would be nice to have an ESV version, as I’ve heard good things about the ESV translation and have read a little of it online.

April 9, 2009

More From Daily Bible Readings

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 7:04 am
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Continuing from the previous blog, some more gems from my daily Bible readings:

Prophecy, Near and Far-term

The prophecy books have many “telescoping” events that unfold God’s plan in the near and far term.

  • Isaiah 11 has many references to Christ’s second coming, such as verses about the millennial kingdom (verses 6 through 9) and verse 11. Yet in the New Testament Paul also applies verse 10 to Christ’s first coming.
  • Isaiah 13 includes the frequent “Day of the Lord” language of future judgment, words similar to Revelation (and Matthew 24), yet then returns to the historic situation of the Medes in verse 17.
  • Isaiah 14:2 also has a future reference: “Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And the house of Israel will possess the nations as menservants and maidservants in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors. ” This too looks forward to a future restoration; “rule over their oppressors” clearly hasn’t happened yet (they never ruled over anybody after return from Babylon, or anytime from then till 70 A.D.), and it can only mean the nation of Israel, just as it says “the house of Israel.” Again, the church is a group called out of every nation, and the church clearly doesn’t “rule over their oppressors” in any sense of meaning.
  • Hosea 13:14 has the great verse that Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15, a wonderful reference to the future resurrection: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”

Joel 1 describes terrible famine conditions, and verse 11 specifically refers to the wheat and barley:

Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed.
This reminds me of the similar famine description in Revelation 6:6, the third seal:

Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

Joel 2 describes a locust army, a parallel to Revelation 9. Joel 2:19 further includes a statement of future reference: “The Lord will reply to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. ” The “never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations” hasn’t happened yet, and is in keeping with the overall context of a future event. The contrast between “you” and “the nations” makes it clear that this is in reference to Israel, a specific nation, and not “the church;” in the Bible, the church is God’s elect called from every nation, tribe, and tongue, a group that comes from many nations.

My reading through Acts included this passage in Acts 15: 15-18, a quotation of Amos 9:

The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: ” ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ that have been known for ages.

Amillennialists love to quote this passage as a fulfillment of the Amos 9 text. But as I simply read the text, James doesn’t say that anything is fulfilled — he simply says that what he and others observe is in agreement with the Amos passage, that Gentiles are coming to the Lord and being saved. What James quotes is slightly different from the Amos text, so he must have been quoting the Septuagint.

The original text says “in that day I will restore” whereas James says “After this I will return and rebuild.” The Septuagint version’s “return” clearly implies a second coming, since Christ cannot “return” until after His first coming. In the original text, “in that day” is in the context talking about a future time. James simply shows agreement about the Gentiles being included and saved, and nothing more should be read into the actual words.

Isaiah 18:7 — chapter talking about Cush. What is this verse saying? It may be talking about the end times, even the millennial kingdom:

At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers– the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.

 Distinction between Israel and Others

Several places in Genesis describe the covenant made between God and Abraham, and specifically promise the land to Abraham and not just to his descendants:

Genesis 13:15, All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. Genesis 17:8, The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.Later Bible passages tell us that Abraham himself never possessed the land, so, as MacArthur and others have pointed out, such promises make no sense unless there is some future fulfillment, a future earthly kingdom in which Abraham himself will also enjoy and possess the land.

The book of Acts consistently shows distinctions between the two groups of believers, and always keeps the same language, the same terminology, as for instance:
Acts 13:26 — Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.
Acts 14:1 — At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.

Acts 14 has some other interesting points. In verse 14 it refers to Barnabas as an apostle, in the statement “apostles Barnabas and Paul.” Does this mean that Barnabas was considered an apostle? I had forgotten this verse. Acts 14 also has many references to the church, with the use of “elders” (verse 23) and “the church” (verse 27).

April 8, 2009

More From My Daily Bible Readings

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 11:51 am
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After the last several months of Bible study — specifically from listening to various John MacArthur radio shows, plus his Revelation series (up to chapter 11 now), and all of Jim McClarty’s 112-part Eschatology series — I now am really enjoying my daily Bible readings of 12 lists (see my recent blog), as I notice and understand so much from simply reading so much of the Bible. After all the years of following “read the Bible in a year” plans, I see how limiting that was, to read the Bible “only” once in a year. As a fairly quick and good reader, there simply is no reason to restrict Bible reading to just that, and the frequency really helps to understand and remember more. I’ve heard that Charles Feinberg (seminary professor, great influence on John MacArthur) regularly read the Bible four times a year, for many years. I’m not sure if I want to do just beginning-to-end reading every three months, but certainly on my modified Horner Bible reading plan I’ll get through all parts of scripture at least twice, and most sections three or four times or more.

Now for a few observations from the last several days of reading:

God’s Sovereignty
The history books really show God’s sovereignty in action. Consider Joshua 11:20, about the conquest of Canaan: “For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” In 1 Kings 11:14-17 we learn how God raised up an adversary for Solomon, in an event that required planning for many years before it happened; the young Edomite boy is spared from a battle fought in the time of David and Joab, to cause problems for Solomon, yet the planning began even before Solomon was made king and before he fell into sin.

History – Place Names and Tribal References
Through multiple readings of the history books I’m recognizing more place-names, as well as many references to the tribes of Israel and their importance. Genesis 14:14 mentions “Dan” as a place, long before the later tribes or sons of Jacob were born. Amos 1:2 says the “top of Carmel withers,” and in the same day I also read 1 Kings 18, today, which features Mt. Carmel in the story of Elijah and the false prophets. Joshua 17 mentions Gilead, a place received by the descendants of Manasseh, and the people thus named Gileadites. Then 1 Kings 17:1 tells us that Elijah the Tishbite was “from Tishbe in Gilead.” Genesis 14:1 mentions the name “Elassar;” the reference may be completely unrelated, yet I recall the name from Tolkien’s names in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

1 Kings 12:28-30 describes the sin of Jeroboam, the calf idolatry. This time I especially note the reference to Dan. I’ve learned from other reading and studying that the tribe of Dan was especially associated with idolatry (and a likely reason why Dan is omitted from the list of the 144,000 in Revelation 7), so here is one clear reference to their early idolatry.

Various Book and Chapter Themes
Matthew 12: here I recall what I heard from an Arnold Fruchtenbaum MP3, in which he explains how in Judaism the teachers had decided that there were three types of miracles that Messiah would be able to do: cast out a demon from a mute person; heal a leper, and heal a man born blind. In Matthew 12 Jesus does one of these very things: he casts a demon out of a mute person. As Fruchtenbaum explains, in the following verses where the Pharisees claim that Jesus casts out demons by Beelzebub, and Jesus mentions that blasphemy of the holy spirit will not be forgiven, Jesus is mentioning a particular sin committed by those Jewish leaders, a national sin of rejection. The people did wonder after Jesus did this great miracle (casting the demon from the mute), yet they followed their leaders. Then, as Fruchtenbaum well pointed out, starting in Matthew 13 Jesus started speaking in parables.

1 Kings 14 tells of two different men named Abijah: the first, the son of Jeroboam, who became sick and died and was the only good one found in Jeroboam’s house; and second, Abijah the son of Rehoboam, who later ruled and was wicked. Both kings apparently had named their firstborn son the same name.

Romans 15 has focus on Paul’s special ministry to the Gentiles

2 Timothy 2 has warnings against arguing, and arguing over useless words. Job 16 includes Job’s rebuke to Eliphaz for this very thing. Job 16:3: 3 “Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing?”

Angels are a big reference in the readings, including several chapters in Genesis; Hosea 12 with a reference to the Angel of the Lord (the Lord God, the angel, that Jacob wrestled with); and Acts 12. Acts 12 shows by example the use of angels for believers as well as unbelievers. In the same chapter, an angel rescues Peter from the clutches of Herod, and later another angel strikes Herod down and kills him.

Acts 18 describes meetings with many Jews of the diaspora, just as a matter of fact in their daily lives. Priscilla and Aquila are Jews from Italy; Apollo is from Alexandria. These are learned Jews, who know their scriptures and customs, even though they’ve always lived in these other parts of the world.

Special verses
Finally, several verses that “stand out” and grab my attention in the readings:

Job 12:11 — Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?

Psalm 12:8 — The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.

Proverbs 13:5 — The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

Proverbs 13:24 — He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Acts 14:14 — refers to “apostles Barnabas and Paul” — an interesting verse. Does this mean Barnabas was considered an apostle?

Romans 15:4 — For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

 a great verse, “encouragement of the Scriptures”

2 Timothy 1:12 — great verse, and here I think of the song that has the KJV version of it.

For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Proverbs 16:6 — “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.”

Joel 2:13 — a verse I recognize from a song by the group Lamb, in its chorus:

 “Rend your hearts and not your garments, turn again unto the Lord, Though your sins may be as scarlet, they’ll be as white as snow. Rend your hearts and cry aloud, let your voice be heard, those who call on His name will be saved.”

Joel 2:13 includes the first part of this chorus:

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Acts 16:4 — shows the early church and accountability

As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.

1 Cor. 1:30 — It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

2 Timothy 3:15 — and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. — the scriptures can make you wise for salvation

2 Timothy 4:5 — “work of an evangelist” —

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Here I think of the “biographical sketch” recently done of John MacArthur, in which Iain Murray ascribes the quality of evangelist to him. True Christian leaders do more than just stand up every Sunday and preach a message.

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