Saturday, January 31, 2009

Left Behind

It’s become very vogue to chortle at the Left Behind series of books by LaHaye and Jenkins and their subsequent movie adaptations.  Even many who share a dispensational (i.e., pretrib premil) eschatology, seemingly in order to fit in with the hep-cat-yo-dog-g*money über-relevant cool kids crowd have taken up the laugh track.


You can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes.

I’d like to go on record as saying that I liked the series overall.  Granted, the prose was…pedestrian.  And the theology was a bit sensationalistic and took some fairly healthy leaps of poetic license.  But come on, guys…it was a series of fiction books.  Let’s all take a deep, cleansing breath, step back a bit, grab ourselves a nice, tall glass of ice-cold milk, and just chill.


Can we do that, mayhap?

Understanding that it was written for the broadest audience possible, I can excuse the somewhat less-than-inspired writing. (On that note, I find it more than a bit ironic that all the hep-cat-yo-dog-g*money über-relevant cool kids, who put such a galactically huge emphasis on “contextualization” and “reaching and engaging the culture, duuuuude” got and get their underbritches all in a bunch over the purposeful accessibility of the Left Behind series… Things that make you go, “hmmmmmmm…”)  And I can excuse the leaps the series makes – they’re adapting a prophetic scenario that, quite frankly, defies full visualization, and the authors didn’t do a singularly terrible job of filling in the gaps.

Mostly, the reaction against Left Behind has its genesis in and is fuelled by that segment of the church which hates severely dislikes isnt’ a huge fan of dispensational eschatology.

Okay, fair enough. Come up with your own fiction series, then, which emphasizes your own eschatological distinctives and go about your way.

What the Left Behind series illustrated (and actually continues to illustrate) is that there is a vast reservoir of interest in Biblical prophecy in America – people are very curious about what the Biblical scenario is and how it intersects if at all with their lives and current events in general.  Should they rather get that information from the Bible itself – or at least from good, solid scholarly sources? Sure. But the fact that they’re so obviously and hugely interested in the subject in the first place is a very telling thing – and, frankly, when someone gets interested in Left Behind, they usually want to dig deeper – which means that they usually begin to ask questions that they didn’t even know how to ask before and seek out the answers in more reliable avenues.

Or at least, that’s been my experience here on the glorious west coast of Michigan.

Which is an incredible thing; West Michigan is a hotbed of both Reformed (and therefore usually a- or post-millennialism) and Emergent Christianity – two houses which in today’s climate tend to be decidedly hostile to dispensationalism (with, of course, notable exceptions).  The hippest churches tend toward a very decidedly nonchalant attitude towards eschatology altogether.

And yet, even here in West Michigan, Left Behind remains a very popular fiction series.

That says something.

Oh, yes, I know, you can shake your head in mock despair and say that what it reveals is the rampancy of Biblical nescience, if only they’d get a hold of towering theological treasures like Blue Like Jazz and The Apocalypse Code they’d be cured of their benightedness…

…I choose not to assume that it means that the rank-and-file are, as a group, idiots.

Instead, I believe it speaks to a real hunger to know more about the Lord, and about what His Word says about history – they want to know, especially now, that there is a God in heaven who knows, who cares, and who is sovereignly moving the great and small events of life toward a determined (and ultimately very hopeful) end.

Left Behind tapped and continues to tap into that vast groundswell.

And so I say again, overall, I liked the series.

Excellent job, Tim and Jerry.  Excellent job.

And to the hep-cat-yo-dog-g*money über-relevant cool kids who spare no hauteur attacking both the books and their authors – get a hobby.  Seriously. You’re embarrassing yourselves.

STR: “We Must Continue To Ask One Question”

Stand To Reason has an absolutely excellent blog.  If you haven’t subscribed to their RSS feed yet, you should do so.

Right now.

Stop hesitating.

Really, it’s that good.

The latest blogpost is titled, "Abortion: We Must Continue to Ask One Question,” and it’s yet another out-of-the-ballpark homerun.

It’s logic, to quote VIKI in the (really, really bad) movie adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s magnum opus, I, Robot: “The logic is inescapable.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Okay, okay…I know this isn’t original with me, but I can’t remember where I first read it or who first wrote it.  So a global “HT” to whichever genius it was who thought this one up.

That said, it’s utterly hilarious…and painfully close to the truth.

I know the subject of the stimulus package has received much press.  Many of Americans are confused about it.  Please allow me to attempt to lift any confusion:

Subject: Stimulus Payment Info.

This year, taxpayers will receive an Economic
Stimulus Payment. This is a very exciting new program that I will explain using the Q and A format:

Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment??
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q. Where will the government get this money?
A. From taxpayers.
Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?
A. Only a smidgen.

Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China?
A. Shut up.

Below is some helpful advice on how to best help the US economy by spending your stimulus check wisely:

If you spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China.

If you spend it on gasoline it will go to the Arabs.

If you purchase a computer it will go to India

If you purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala (unless you buy organic).

If you buy a car it will go to Japan.

If you purchase useless junk it will go to Taiwan

And none of it will help the American economy.
We need to keep that money here in America. You can keep the money in America by spending it at yard sales, tattoos, or going to a baseball game, since those are the only businesses still in the U.S.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


obamanation5 Romans 13 is clear: if we are to be Biblically faithful Christians, we must pray for our leaders.

And that doesn’t mean, “pray that Air Force One has an…ah…mishap…while the Messiah is embarked thereupon…” either.

It means to pray for our leaders for wisdom, protection, and that we can as Christians live quiet and peaceable lives.

I’ll be perfectly honest: President Obama terrifies me on several levels. In just the first few days, he undid all the pro-life and pro-national-security work that the Bush administration took eight years to build and protect, and proceeded to pay back his political allies with several über-liberal executive orders.

And that’s just the beginning, folks.

While Senator McCain’s economic plan was irresponsible and unworkable (read: really bad), Obama’s is either a nightmare of Cecil B. DeMillean proportions or the manifestation of a Keynesian’s wildest hopes and dreams (read: really really bad), depending on how historically and economically literate you happen to be.

Even so, we are commanded to pray for the president and his family.

I’ll be transparent and point out that along with praying for his health, safety, and prosperity, I do pray that, ultimately, his contrabiblical policies fail.  Hey, sorry, dude – I love my country.  I’d like to still have one to bequeath to my son one day.

All that said, there are reasons to be very optimistic and joyful, even over the next four years.  And if you need help coming up with reasons to be thankful for Obama’s inauguration, I give you Erik Raymond’s “5 Reasons I am thankful during Barack Obama’s Inauguration

Good, great stuff there.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Social Justice

I love the Stand To Reason blog. Actually, the whole ministry. But the blog is particularly awesome.

Friday’s post, “The Most Important Social Justice Issue Of Our Time,” was particularly good – though of course certain persons like Brian “Orthodoxy Schmorthodoxy!” MacLaren and the Rev. Dr. Lawrence Russel TaylorTM PhD, Esq., Etc., Etc., Etc., ©2009, would heartily disagree with it – since to their thinking, the best way to defend babies in the womb is to exponentially increase the number of abortions by voting for the candidate who with a swoop of his messianic pen galactically increases federal funding (read: MY tax dollars, and YOURS, too, whether you agree with these…individuals and support a woman’s right to kill her child or not) for abortions.

I kid you not.

At least the Rev. Dr. Lawrence Russel TaylorTM PhD, Esq., Etc., Etc., Etc., ©2009, seems to truly believe that the best way to reduce abortions is to increase abortions.

{{insert blank stare here}}.


Great article over on STR.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Atonement in the Talmud

So the other day, a friend of mine and fellow pastor, Jim Bomkamp, asked me to consider posting the following article here. The author is an elder at Jim’s fellowship, Calvary Chapel Green Bay, named Dave Reynolds.

Interesting stuff…

Evidence for Christ’s Atonement from a Surprising Source: The Jewish Talmud


A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I determined to get away for a weekend, and I asked Dave, one of the church elders, to do the Sunday teaching for me. This document contains the fantastic message that he gave that morning. I have only edited it to cause it to be more Internet-friendly and apply more specifically to the blog reader.

The information that I will share with you today has existed for many hundreds of years, but is virtually unknown in Christendom. Some believers[1] have discovered this information and are now making it known.

When I first came across this information, I was surprised but joyful, and it greatly encouraged my soul. Nevertheless, I began to have some doubts, because it just seemed “too good to be true,” and I have a tremendous predisposition to believe that if something seems too good to be true, it usually isn’t true. However, when I went to the original source documents, I found to my surprise that they say exactly what they were asserted to have said, and were not the products of wishful thinking, as I feared they were.

This information lends compelling credence to the fact that the world of Judaism changed forever in the year 30 AD. Specifically, I will share with you today four documented miraculous occurrences that began to manifest themselves in the year 30 AD.

Historical background/sources

The Talmud

In order to make sense of this information, I will need to spend some time establishing the historical and spiritual background from a Hebraic perspective. For the source of this incredible story is a collection of documents known as the Talmud. What is the Talmud? There are actually two versions: The Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem (or Palestinian) Talmud. Both consist of two parts: the Mishnah and the Gemarra. The Mishnah, or codification of laws, is written primarily in Hebrew, and is identical in both versions. The Gemarras, sets of lengthy and rambling commentaries on the Mishnah, were both written in Aramaic, and differ somewhat between the Babylonian and Jerusalem versions. The Jerusalem Talmud consists of writings that were assembled between about 300 BC and about 400 AD, while the Babylonian Talmud was started at the same time as the Jerusalem Talmud, but completed about 100 years later. The Babylonian Talmud is more well-known and commented upon than the Jerusalem version, owing largely to the fact that the rabbinic academies of Babylonia survived those in Palestine by many centuries.

For many hundreds of years, the Talmud has been the principal subject of Jewish study. There is no direct analogy between the Talmud and anything in Christian literature. While Jewish people have studied and revered it for centuries, they do not seem to regard it with the same reverence as the Hebrew Scriptures. However, they do regard it with more reverence than we Christians would regard the great exegetical classics and commentaries of the Christian faith.

Just to make this perfectly clear, let me say that I do not regard the Talmud to be a holy book, or in any way inspired by the Holy Spirit in the same way as the Bible. Nor do I recommend that any Christian study it the way we should study the scriptures. However, I do think that since we Christians have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel[2], it behooves us to understand some of the background, as long as we approach that study carefully and prayerfully, always keeping in mind that all scripture points to the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) and his redemptive work on our behalf.

Why should we care?

Why am I bringing this message to you today? There are two primary reasons:

To bolster our faith

First, I found this information to be personally encouraging, and my hope is that it will bolster your faith, as it did my own. The world teaches us that the Bible is a collection of myths that are perhaps useful to some people for the purpose of teaching general moral principles. However, this viewpoint ignores that fact the historical archeology keeps revealing more and more as time goes on that these so-called myths are actually factual events that really occurred. This information from the Talmud is like a literary archeology that confirms important elements of our faith, even though it was written by people who had no interest whatsoever in advocating or advancing the Christian faith.

To have a witness for our Jewish friends

Secondly, I hope this information will provide powerful opportunities to witness to our friends that are Jewish. It does virtually no good to witness to Jewish people using the New Testament scriptures, since they are taught from childhood that the New Testament is invalid. However, if we can witness to Jewish people starting from the Old Testament (particularly the Torah) and from the Talmud, documents that they are predisposed to believe, we have a better chance of actually engaging them in a discussion that leads to a chance to present the gospel.

Four miraculous events starting forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem

The amazing text from the Talmud that we shall consider this morning reads as follows:

The rabbis taught: Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the lot never came into the right hand, the red wool did not become white, the western light did not burn, and the gates of the Temple opened of themselves, till the time that R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: "Temple, Temple, why alarmest thou us? We know that thou art destined to be destroyed. For of thee hath prophesied Zechariah ben Iddo [Zech. xi. 1]: 'Open thy doors, O Lebanon, and the fire shall eat thy cedars.'"[3]

Yom Kippur

The first two of the miraculous events described in the Talmud have to do with Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. Let’s look to see the Biblical description of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16:

1Now the LORD spoke to Moses after (A)the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the LORD and died.  2The LORD said to Moses: "Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter (B)at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the [a]mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for (C)I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.  3"Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a (D)sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.  4"He shall put on the (E)holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments) Then he shall (F)bathe his body in water and put them on.  5"He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel (G)two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.  6"Then (H)Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household.  7"He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting.  8"Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the [b]scapegoat.  9"Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering.  10"But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make (I)atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.  11"Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering (J)which is for himself and make atonement for himself and (K)for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.  12"He shall take a (L)firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground (M)sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil.  13"He shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the (N)mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, (O)otherwise he will die.  14"Moreover, (P)he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it (Q)with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.  15"Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering (R)which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.  16"(S)He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.  17"When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel.  18"Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and (T)put it on the horns of the altar on all sides.  19"(U)With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it.  20"When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat.  21"Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and (V)confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.  22"The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.  23"Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off (W)the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there.  24"(X)He shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on (Y)his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people.  25"Then he shall offer up in smoke the fat of the sin offering on the altar.  26"The one who released the goat as the scapegoat (Z)shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp.  27"But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, (AA)whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire.  28"Then the (AB)one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp.  29"This shall be a permanent statute for you: (AC)in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not (AD)do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you;  30 for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to (AE)cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.  31"It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may (AF)humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.  32"So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father's place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on (AG)the linen garments, the holy garments,  33 and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for (AH)the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34"Now you shall have this as a (AI)permanent statute, to (AJ)make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year." And just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so he did.

Miracle #1: The taking of the lots

The first miracle has to do with the taking of the lots for the two goats on the Day of Atonement, as mentioned in verses 7 and 8:

He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting.  "Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the [b]scapegoat.

It’s interesting note that the word “scapegoat” in our language has come to mean the opposite of its original intent!

The Talmud gives more detail on exactly how the rituals described in Leviticus were to be performed:

MISHNA: “He shook the box, and took out two lots. On one is written, "to Jehovah"; on the other is written, "to Azazel." The Segan (a priest second-in command to the high priest) is at his right, and the head of the family [see above] on his left. If that of Jehovah was taken up by his right hand, the Segan says to him, "My lord the high-priest, raise thy right hand." If that of Jehovah was taken up by his left hand, the head of the family addresses him: "My lord the high-priest, raise thy left hand." He placed them [the lots] on the two he-goats, and uttered: "To Jehovah a sin-offering." R. Ishmael says: It was not necessary for him to say "sin-offering," but "to Jehovah" sufficed. They responded: "Blessed be the name of His kingdom's glory for ever."[4]

The Talmud further elaborates: “Why had he to shake the box? That he should not have intentionally taken that for Jehovah in his right hand (as it was a good omen if he took it up by chance).[5]

Not only was this ritual done exactly the same each year, but it was also recorded whether the lot for the Lord was taken up by the high priest’s right or left hand.

Now, the Talmudic passage cited previously states that, for the forty years preceding the destruction of the Temple, the lot for the Lord NEVER came into the high priest’s right hand. What is the probability of that happening? Well, since there were only two lots in the box, there is a fifty-fifty chance each year that the stone for the LORD would come up in the right hand and a fifty-fifty chance of it coming up in the left hand. Now the laws of probability state that the probability of consecutive events happening is the product of the probabilities of the individual events. So the probability of the stone coming up in the left hand two years in a row is 1-in-2 squared, or 1-in-4. For it to come up in the left hand three years in a row would be 1-in-2 cubed, or 1-in-8. The probability of the stone coming up in the left hand for forty years in a row is 1-in-2 to the fortieth power, or one in one trillion, nine-nine billion, five hundred eleven million, six hundred twenty seven thousand, seven hundred seventy six. That probability is the same as predicting the exact second some random event will occur sometime within a period of thirty five thousand years.

Clearly, something extraordinary started happening in Israel in 30 AD.

Miracle #2: The crimson strap

In addition to the ritual of the lots for the goats, the Talmud describes another ritual concerning the goats that was also performed annually:

MISHNA: “He tied a tongue of crimson wool to the head of the goat that was to be sent away [the scapegoat], and placed him opposite to the gate through which he was to be transferred; and the one to be slaughtered, opposite to the place of its slaughtering. He went to his bull a second time, putting his hands on him, and confessing in these terms: "I beseech thee, Jehovah, I have committed iniquities, transgressed, and sinned before Thee, I and my house, and the sons of Aaron, Thy holy people: I beseech Thee, Jehovah, forgive the iniquities, transgressions, and sins which I have committed, transgressed, and sinned, I and my house, and the sons of Aaron, Thy holy people, as it is written in the Torah of Moses Thy servant: 'For on that day shall he make atonement for you, to cleanse you from all your sins, that ye may be pure before Jehovah.'" They respond after him: "Blessed is the name of His kingdom's glory forever."[6]

Symbolizing the scapegoat's throat having been slashed, a "crimson strap" was tied to each horn and passed under his throat during this ceremony. Before being led away to the wilderness, the crimson strap was tied to one of the Temple gates.[7]

Before the destruction of the original Temple, there was a High Priest named Simeon the Upright. During the years of his priesthood, according to the Talmud, “And the tongue of crimson wool, during the time of Simeon the Upright, always became white. But after Simeon the Upright, sometimes it became white, sometimes it remained red.”[8]

But the Talmud states that during the forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple, “the red wool did not become white.” This would not have been alarming had it happened for two or three years in a row, but as the years piled up during which the crimson wool remained crimson, there was an increasing feeling of impending doom both for the Temple and for the Nation of Israel. Again, like the first sign, this sign persisted for the last forty years of the existence of the Temple.

Miracle #3: The western light of the Menorah

The Talmud said that “The rabbis taught: Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the lot never came into the right hand, the red wool did not become white, the western light did not burn, and the gates of the Temple opened of themselves."[9]

The Menorah, or Candelabra, was purportedly the one fashioned by Bezalel in the book of Exodus:

Exodus 25: 31 "Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.  37 "Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39 A talent [g] of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

The Menorah stood approximately six feet high, and was placed in the Holy Place on the south wall, with its branches facing east-west.

The Jewish Encyclopedia has this to say about the daily ritual concerning the Menorah:

The cleaning and refilling of the lamps, except the two most easterly, were performed by a priest every morning. If the priest found them extinguished, he relighted them. The two eastern lamps were left burning till after the morning service, and were then cleaned and refilled (Tamid iii. 9; Yoma 33a). The Ner ha-Ma'arabi (the Western lamp), also called "Ner Elohim" (I Sam. iii. 3), was left burning all day and was refilled in the evening. It served to light all the lamps. The Ner ha-Ma'arabi contained no more oil than the other lamps, a half-log measure (1 log contains the liquid of six eggs), sufficient to last during the longest winter night (Men. 89a).[10]

Prior to 30 AD, the Western Lamp would sometimes stay lit throughout the night, and sometimes not. However, from 30 AD. onward, the Western Lamp was never found to be lit in the morning on any day for the next forty years when the priest went in to tend to the Menorah.

Once again, as this went on longer and longer, the Jewish leaders increasingly interpreted it as a sign of impending disaster.

Miracle #4: The temple gates

Recall how the Talmudic passage described the opening of the Temple gates.

“…, and the gates of the Temple opened of themselves, till the time that R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: "Temple, Temple, why alarmest thou us? We know that thou art destined to be destroyed. For of thee hath prophesied Zechariah ben Iddo [Zech. xi. 1]: 'Open thy doors, O Lebanon, and the fire shall eat thy cedars.'"[11]

This occurred nightly for the forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple. These gates were most likely the Nicanor Gates, whose initial opening is described by the great Jewish historian, Josephus:

Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner, [court of the temple,] which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now, those that kept watch in the temple came thereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshewed the DESOLATION that was coming upon them” - (IV,5,3).[12]

The gates were fifty cubits high and forty cubits across[13], so you can imagine the surprise and alarm caused by their mysterious self-openings.

The significance of forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple

So what cataclysmic event occurred in 30 AD. to set off the miraculous things just described? It was the crucifixion of the one for whom the Temple was built in the first place. The one who, when asked by his followers about the beauty and majesty of the Temple, responded, “2"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."[14] Why is it that the writers of the Talmud never associated these events with the rejection of Messiah? We may never know, but we can thank God that these things were recorded in the Talmud, and that by them, some of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob may come to know that the calamitous events described came as the result of the rejection of the promised Messiah. We can pray that this knowledge will bring about the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation by the blood of the Lamb.


In this article, we looked at the odds of just one of these four miracles occurring continually every year for the forty years leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The odds of all four occurring simultaneously for those forty years would be the product of multiplying that statistic times itself four times. Simply put, from a mathematical and statistical perspective, there isn’t even a computer invented today who could manipulate a number so large: this had to be a divine miracle intended to testify of Yeshua’s atonement to Israel.

The fact that the source is the Talmud, and that the Jews were the enemies of the Christians when the Talmud was written, proves that this is no hoax foisted by Christian sympathizers. The fact that the Jews still do not get the significance of any of these things beginning to happen the year that Christ was crucified is further evidence of the validity of these things.

Further sources for study online:


[1] Reiland, Robert, “Jewish – Christian Biblical Coverup,”

2 Romans 11:17

3 The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,




7 Reiland, Robert, “Jerusalem After Gibson’s Movie Ending,”

8 The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,

9 The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,

[1]0 The Jewish Encyclopedia,

[1][1]The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,

[1]2 Josephus, Wars of the Jews.

[1]3 James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, John Chisholm Lambert, A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels,

[1]4 Matthew 24:2

[1] Reiland, Robert, “Jewish – Christian Biblical Coverup,”

[2] Romans 11:17

[3] The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,

[4] IBID.

[5] IBID

[6] IBID

[7] Reiland, Robert, “Jerusalem After Gibson’s Movie Ending,”

[8] The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,

[9] The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,

[10] The Jewish Encyclopedia,

[11] The Babylonian Talmud, Book 3, Chapter 4,

[12] Josephus, Wars of the Jews.

[13] James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, John Chisholm Lambert, A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels,

[14] Matthew 24:2

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Long Dark Night is Over

This will be my next phone.  Oh, yes.  It will be.

The long dark night of the Palm platform is, gloriously, over...

Different Fruit

I'm finishing prepping for our Thursday evening service (verse-by-verse through the Old Testament), and I ran across this gem from Jon Courson in his commentary on Deuteronomy 20:19-20

When the Israelites went to battle, their axes were not to fly indiscriminately. That is, they were not to cut down any fruit-bearing tree. This is a good word for us because in our battle against principalities and powers, against the devil, our Adversary, if we’re not careful, we can cut down trees that bear fruit, other believers, denominations, or churches who might have an entirely different flavor than ours, but from which we can be nourished. Wise is the believer who says, “Lord, help me to see what I can glean from that group, what I can learn from those people.”

So much of what I’ve learned has been from trees that, in my own fleshly tendency, I would have chopped down. Wouldn’t it be something if all the energy we expend analyzing ministry and criticizing Christians was harnessed against the real enemy? Yes, there’s a war to wage, a battle to fight. And some trees are apostate indeed. But others have fruit that we can glean, through which we can grow, from which we can gain strength for the battle against the enemy of our souls.

Courson, J. (2005). Jon Courson's application commentary : Volume one : Genesis-Job (596). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The French Connection

Notice, in this article, the difference between the Pro-Israeli demonstration and the Pro-“Palestinian” one.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Villify ‘Em All!

Right off the bat, let me state I’m no huge Gary De Mar fan.  He’s pretty solid as long as he stays on the topic of history – specifically American history as viewed through a Biblical lens – but he has a tendency to veer off into tirades about eschatology, pontificating on the merits of postmillennialism and preterism.

He’s perfectly entitled to so so; postmil and (non-Hymanaean) preterism are both theologically orthodox positions.  And I suppose I’d get more out of his stuff if he’d come up with newer, better arguments; but he doesn’t, and I just don’t want to read the same hackneyed platitudes over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and again and again and again…and again

Look, Gary, I get it.  Margaret Macdonald invented the entire rapture thing out of whole cloth, Edward Irving was a boob, Darby was a flake, Paul really didn’t mean what he sure did seem to think he meant when he talked about us not being appointed to wrath which is to come…etc.


Move along, or come up with something else – something which isn’t so easily answered and which hasn’t already been dealt with a googolplex times over.

Sheesh.  It’s enough to make me think postmil preterists don’t have much else to offer the discussion.

But that having been said, so long as Gary refrains from knocking over pretrib straw men, hastily righting them, and then gleefully knocking them over once more, he’s actually got some good stuff to say.

Enter today’s article, Scapegoating Christians: The New Nazism. In it he uses John Sack’s very disturbing book An Eye For An Eye to point out the somewhat obvious parallels between the progressive and programmatic dehumanization and eventual destruction of political enemies in totalitarian states (like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia) and the hauntingly similar process already at work to marginalize and disenfranchise Christians in today’s America:

The final tactic is to disenfranchise the opposition by keeping them from making a living or holding positions of authority in government, law, and education. The Communists understood the strategic necessity of policing every open gate to the institutions where ideas can get out to the masses without the sanction of the State. Leon Trotsky stated the following in 1936: “The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.” If a person does not follow the Party line, he cannot get a Party job. As government increases its power and reach, there will be more government jobs that Christians will not be permitted to hold if religious ideology becomes a prerequisite for employment.

Guillermo Gonzalez, who received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Washington and did his post-doctoral research at the University of Texas, Austin, and the University of Washington, received fellowships, grants, and awards from NASA, the University of Washington, Sigma XI, and the National Science Foundation, authored nearly 70 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and has had his work has been cited over 1500 times in the scientific literature, was denied tenure (also see here and here) by Iowa State University because he had the audacity as a scientist to question naturalistic evolution. He is not alone.

It’s an interesting read.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Semi-Pelagians Unite!

Sorry for the blogpost title. Some of our more Reformed fellows (e.g., Mark "Blankety-blank" Driscoll) like to equate Arminianism with Semi-Pelagianism - which is exactly equivalent with equating their Calvinism with fatalistic determinism.

So of course, I couldn't resist.


In what can only be described as a tremendous inversion of normal reality, Christianity Today actually published a good and edifying article.

You can imagine how long it took for me to recover; I think the shock of it all nearly did me in.

Again: anyway.

Roger Olson wrote a great article, Don't Hate Me Because I'm Arminian which I think bears reading and re-reading.

My blog-friend Vee clued me in to this article in her blogpost; it was her quote from the article which convinced me when I read it to carefully read & consider the fuller article:

Powell was concerned about my rather firm Arminian beliefs. One day he took me aside and said, “Roger, you should know that Arminianism has usually led to liberal theology.” Like many Reformed theologians, he believed that an Arminian emphasis on free will grants too much power to humanity and therefore contains a humanistic impulse. While I appreciated his implicit admonition, I knew from my own experience that this was not entirely true. Ever since, I have strived to prove that Arminian theology and an evangelical cutting edge can be combined comfortably.

[…]A turning point in my spiritual and theological pilgrimage occurred at a funeral. Aunt Margaret’s Christian Reformed pastor in Kanawha, Iowa, preached one of the most evangelical sermons I had ever heard. He challenged all present to give their lives to Jesus Christ just as Margaret had. Cognitive dissonance finally broke out into complete rebellion against the anti-Calvinist polemics I had heard from Pentecostal leaders and teachers. While I could not agree with all five points of the Calvinist TULIP—especially unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace—I knew that the tent of authentic evangelical Christianity was bigger and broader than I had been led to believe. That conviction strengthened as I drank deeply at the wells of evangelical Reformed theology throughout my seminary and university studies.

Even as I retained my Arminian beliefs, my evangelical mind expanded and deepened as I read Reformed theologians such as G. C. Berkouwer, Bernard Ramm, Donald Bloesch, J. I. Packer, and Francis Schaeffer. They showed me new dimensions of the doctrines of God and of salvation that had been missing or obscured in the Arminianism of my youth and early theological education: the mysterious, holy otherness of God; God’s majestic sovereignty over nature and history; humanity’s utter helplessness to achieve any goodness or even decide to accept the benefits of Christ’s suffering and death apart from grace.

I have since learned that these themes are not absent from classical Arminian theology, but I had to learn them from Reformed evangelicals. I emerged from my theological studies convinced that my Arminian theology, though basically correct, lacked depth and that it could be enriched by the heritage of Reformed Christianity. I also emerged convinced that Reformed theology—especially in its most consistent forms—lacked the marvelous note of God’s universal love for his human creatures so evident in the best of my own Arminian tradition. I was convinced that the evangelical community needs both George Whitefield and John Wesley, and that their heirs need one another to achieve the beauty of balance.

Oh, gooooooooooood...