Thursday, April 22, 2021

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine the Mark of the Beast?

Some have said that the COVID-19 vaccine is the Mark of the Beast. Is there any truth to that? Is that what the Bible says? The Mark of the Beast is mentioned in a few verses in the Book of Revelation. Among other things, it refers to preventing commerce to people without the Mark. Multiple sources are now discussing restricting travel and other activities without a "vaccine passport". So, does it follow that the COVID-19 then is the Mark of the Beast?

The assertion is based on this verse.

Rev 13:16 -17 It (the Beast) also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark,



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Kanye West [5]
I have been searching the Internet to find out who exactly is saying the COVID-19 vaccine is the Mark of the Beast. Many see it as a well known fact that Evangelical Christian leaders are saying it - Washington Post [1], but I only found a couple names, the most familiar being Kanye West, "It all started with Kanye West."- CrossTalk [2], ChristianPost [3]. However, I don't think Kanye came up with that by himself. A less familiar name is Louisiana Pastor Ronnie Hampton of New Vision Community Church  - Christianity Today [4]. Or pastor Guillermo Maldonado of Miami megachurch King Jesus International Ministry. Some blame a Youtube video (unavailable) by Lackey (no first name). Or Gab founder Andrew Torba - Washington Post [1].

It is difficult to search the Internet for things that happen on social media. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instgram all have policies against misinformation. They can remove content they find offensive, leaving the trail of evidence impossible to follow. It's called Ephemeral Content [6]. The Washington Post [1]  article quoted above penetrates the social media fog better than I can.


But What Does The Bible Say?

Let's look more closely at what Revelation actually says about the Mark of the Beast

Revelation 13:15-18 11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. 12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who live on it worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of the sky to the earth in the presence of people. 14 And he deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause all who do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

Mark on hand or forehead

Verse 16 says the mark, whatever it is, will be on a person's right hand or on their forehead. Vaccinations are given by injection in the upper arm. It just isn't given in the hand or the forehead.

Worship the First Beast

The Beast that  causes everyone to get said Mark is the second Beast. The first 10 verses of Revelation 13 describe this first Beast as being worshiped, having a deadly wound which healed, gets his power from the dragon, speaks blasphemies, has power 42 months, and makes war with the saints. The second Beast causes everyone to worship the first Beast, calls fire down from heaven, and is known by his number, 666. Many teach that the second Beast is a religious figure, probably the Pope. It is clear that these two Beasts are not in power now. I do believe we are in the end times, so they may be alive today, but until someone brings fire down from heaven, those Beasts are not on the scene yet.

Note that the first Beast is worshiped. This is reminiscent of emperor worship in the first century AD. Christians who would not give the sign of worship were thrown to the lions. I see emperor worship as a type of the Mark of the Beast.

Bust of Domitian

Under Domitian (81-96 AD) in the time of this letter, emperor worship was compulsory for every Roman citizen. The burning of the pinch of incense was rewarded by a certificate which had to be renewed annually. Failure to produce a certificate meant being branded as Christian and this opened the way, if the magistrates so decided, for the death penalty on the ground of treason. - attributed to James Allen “What the Bible Teaches – Revelation” - That Pinch Of Incense [7]




The Timing 

Many events must take place before the Beasts show up. God's judgment of man is pictured as seven seals, beginning in Revelation 6. The seventh seal is made up of seven trumpets. And the seventh trumpet is made up of seven bowls or vials of wrath. The pattern for the seals, trumpets, and bowls is that the first six are described without a break, then a pause, then the seventh. This is shown graphically in the chart below from Chuck Missler [8]. The Mark of the Beast occurs during a five chapter pause (Rev 10-14) between trumpet #6 and trumpet #7. The first four seals are also known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, during which one quarter of mankind is killed. The fifth seal is large scale martyrdom, the sixth seal is signs in the heavens. The seventh seal is opened in Revelation 8, and the seven trumpets begin. After the sixth trumpet there is a pause, it is then that the Beasts rise to power.

The Book of Revelation [9]


Immunity Passport
While researching who said the vaccine was the Mark of the Beast, I found many who recognize the vaccine is not the Mark of the Beast, but who described it as conditioning for the Mark, a trial run to normalize it. Certainly many people have concerns about the vaccine itself, but also fear another trending development - the vaccination passport aka immunity passport, which reminds me of the emperor's certificate of loyalty. And with high tech manipulation, the immunity passport could indeed morph into the Mark of the Beast.

Jack Hibbs, a pastor, said in a sermon that he believes the COVID-19 vaccine is a social control tactic that is conditioning people to accept the mark of the beast. Belief Net [10]

Right-wing pastor Curt Landry posted a video on YouTube on Tuesday in which he told viewers never to accept any vaccine that is created to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus because the vaccine will be a precursor to the biblical Mark of the Beast. Right Wing Watch [11]

The global society has to be conditioned in such a way as to submit to the mark, the beast, and the false prophet, in person or in proxy for the MARK to be effected. Duncan Mango [12]

The objective of such rules is nothing to do with public health; they are intended to exasperate us all to the point where we yield to the indignity of vaccine passports when they are rolled out, just so we can live our lives and be left in peace. Out Of Mind [13]

Digital-format immunity passports would eventually likely normalize digital-format proof-of-status documents. 
Advocates of COVID passports visualize a world where we can’t pass through a door to a plane, workplace, school, or restaurant until the gatekeeper scans our credentials. In no time the public would be conditioned to submit to these demands. 
This digital system could easily be expanded to check not just a person’s immunity status, but any other bit of personal information a gatekeeper might deem relevant, such as banking information, age, pregnancy, HIV status, or criminal history; and all data – your data – could be accumulated into one database.  Clarion [14]
 
Without debate or democratic scrutiny, vaccine passports are quickly heading from unthinkable to unstoppable.
Vaccine identity cards could be demanded ‘in hospitality settings’ — in other words, in pubs.
As ever, in our new Orwellian world, the reverse language is used — restrictions will be lifted for those who comply. Spectator.co.uk [15]
 
No one knows exactly what the Mark of the Beast will be. But it seems likely to me to be a high tech version of the emperor's certificate because that certificate involved worship and commerce. I think China is leading the way on controlling commerce with its Social Credit System [16], a national reward and punishment system; plus China's efforts to create a digital currency - Wall Street Journal [17]. A Social Credit System and a digital currency would give China the power to control all its citizens buying or selling. 

The Mark Of The Lamb


Let's take the focus off the Beasts and put it on Jesus Christ where it belongs. God gave the Revelation to Jesus who gave it to John. Twice, Revelation refers to believers who have a seal on their foreheads, and this seal is the name of the Lamb's Father, that is God Himself. Decide for yourself if these two passages refer to the same 144,000.

Rev 7:3  “Do not harm the earth, or the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

Rev 14 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

Ephesians 1:13 having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise

In the end of days, everyone chooses who to worship, everyone receives a mark. Will it be the Mark of the Lamb or the Mark of the Beast?

References

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/16/covid-vaccine-misinformation-evangelical-mark-beast
2. https://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/ask-roger/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-the-mark-of-the-beast.html
3. https://www.christianpost.com/news/kanye-west-says-covid-19-vaccine-is-mark-of-the-beast-hank-hanegraaff-responds.html
4. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/pastor-dies-coronavirus-days-after-saying-my-faith-has-never-wavered/134595.htm
5. https://www.nme.com/news/music/kanye-west-says-he-had-covid-19-speaks-against-vaccines-2703611
6. https://items.ssrc.org/covid-19-and-the-social-sciences/mediated-crisis/when-video-vanishes-how-ephemeral-social-media-platforms-disappear-protest-journalism/
7. http://youngadults.ccphilly.org/4767-2
8. https://store.khouse.org/products/revelation-an-expositional-commentary
9. https://beyondthefundamentals.com/Document_Files/Revelation_Notes.pdf
10. https://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-the-mark-of-the-beast.aspx
11. https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/curt-landry-says-any-coronavirus-vaccine-is-from-the-pit-of-hell
12. https://duncanmango.wordpress.com/2021/02/26/is-the-covid-vaccine-the-mark-of-the-beast
13. https://www.oom2.com/t74778-why-we-all-must-reject-vaccine-passports
14. https://clarion.causeaction.com/2021/02/24/coming-covid-19-passports-mark-of-the-beast
15. https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/johnson-is-in-trouble-over-vaccine-passports-and-it-s-showing
16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_System
17. https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-creates-its-own-digital-currency-a-first-for-major-economy-11617634118

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Other Kinsman Redeemer

Goel of Ruth
In the book of Ruth, we see an example of the kinsman redeemer, in this case Boaz redeemed Ruth, her mother in law Naomi, and their land. It is a love story complete with drama and a happy ending. And this short story also provides us with a picture (a type or foreshadowing) of Jesus Christ and the church. The phrase "kinsman redeemer" is translated from the Hebrew word "goel", but there is another use of the word goel which is obscured in English. Let's explore this other goel, and see what we can learn about it. 

First, let's review the more familiar goel, the kinsman redeemer that usually come to mind for Bible students. It is based on this verse from Leviticus.

Lev 25:23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me. 24 Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. 25 'If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman (goel) is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.

In this scheme of things, a person could never lose their land permanently. But a kinsman had to redeem the land if a man had to sell. Not just anyone could redeem the person in distress, it had to be family. This is a type of Jesus coming in the flesh to be a family member to all mankind. He is our Redeemer, AND a kinsman. See The Kinman Redeemer [1] for a deeper discussion.



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However, the kinsman redeemer, the goel, had another job but English translations don't show it. The goel is also known as the avenger. Same word, possibly the same person, two functions. In the verse above,  goel is translated redeemer. In this verse, goel is translated avenger.


Num 35:12 The cities shall serve you as a refuge from the avenger (goel), so that the one who commits manslaughter does not die until he stands before the congregation for trial.

The role of the avenger is explained in later verses of Num 35, adding the qualifier "blood" which  is in the Hebrew.

Num 35:19 The blood avenger (goel ha'dam) himself shall put the murderer to death; he himself shall put him to death when he meets him.

To understand the goel ha'dam, we need to consider the justice system of the time. Unlike our world, there was no police force. For protection, men made blood oaths to protect and defend each other. Such a "blood brother" had your back no matter what. He would fight along side you, and avenge your death - The Life Is InThe Blood [2]. Having no police force meant there was no one to investigate crimes. However there were judges who did hear criminal and civil cases.

Justice for murder and accidental killing is spelled out in Numbers 35 (listed below). One who was responsible for an accidental killing had to flee to a city of refuge before the goel ha'dam found him. The goel ha'dam could avenge a death even if it was accidental. If the slayer made it to the city of refuge, the city elders would protect him from the avenger until trial. If the slayer was found guilty of murder, the city elders handed him over to the goel, who became his executioner. If the slayer left the city of refuge, and the avenger caught him, he could kill him. And the accidental slayer had to live in the city of refuge till the current High Priest died. If he left the city after that, the avenger couldn't touch him.

The hunting down of a murderer is no longer the business of the avenger, but of the state; accordingly, whether there is any relative or not, whether the relative lodges complaint or not, the state must prosecute the murderer - Jewish Encyclopedia [3].

Notice that intent was a big factor in determining accidental killing versus murder, just as it is today. We use the term manslaughter for an accidental death. Notice also how seriously God treats killing. 

Num 35:33 So you shall not defile the land in which you live; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.

This warning is not just for ancient Israel. God, who changes not, is still in charge, and His rules are still in effect. Ancient Israel sacrificed babies to the false god Molech. America has murdered 60 million unborn babies in the last 50 years, which has defiled the land. The estimate of abortions worldwide is 1.6 BILLION - Number of Abortions [4]. The whole earth is greatly defiled. He will not restrain His wrath forever, a reckoning is coming, and probably soon.

 

Typology


We have the book of Ruth as an example of the kinsman redeemer, but we do not have such a story about the avenger, but remember the two are probably the same person (next of kin). In spite of not having a story about the avenger, we can learn more by 
examining the typology of the goel ha'dam, the slayer, and the victim.




It is widely recognized that Boaz, the kinsman redeemer of the book of Ruth is a type of Jesus Christ, and Ruth is the church. Since goel can be redeemer or avenger, the goel ha'dam then also pictures Jesus Christ. The typology doesn't fit with His first coming as the Lamb of God, but it is more fitting for His second coming as King of Kings, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. 


The city of refuge also pictures Jesus Christ, where the accidental slayer can go for safety. Where better to hide than in Jesus Himself?  "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word", Psalm 119:114. And the High Priest also pictures Jesus. Only He is a High Priest that never dies.




That leaves the slayer and victim. In a sense, they picture us as humans. It is perhaps easier to see ourselves as innocent victims, and indeed at some level we are; we need a rescuer. But sadly, we are also the slayers. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Rom 6:23. We need to flee to Jesus, the city of refuge, and hide ourselves in Him. We are responsible for killing Him, yet from the cross, He said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". And we are like the audience of Peter's first sermon, where he said "And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did" - Act 3:17. Because mankind has acted in ignorance, we are guilty of manslaughter, not murder. We can flee to the city of refuge, and abide forever, because our High Priest will never die.

Redeemer AND Avenger


We are more comfortable thinking of Jesus Christ as a loving, forgiving figure. It's much easier to think of the story of Boaz and Ruth picturing Christ and the church than it is to think of Christ as THE Avenger. But many verses speak of the role of Avenger. The most familiar verse would be "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" - Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19. It is not just an Old Testament thing. 

The Jewish view of the Avenger is that he is God's representative, not just of the victim's family, but to the whole community Jewish Encyclopedia [3]. This is in part to execute justice. Remember the land is defiled by the blood of the innocent, and can only be set right by the blood of the slayer. 

When Jesus Christ returns, He will combine the two roles of the goel. He has been redeeming His people, the church, for 2000 years, and views them as innocent. When He returns, He will avenge them. Look at the blood spilled by Christian martyrs. In my lifetime, in America, Christianity in its many forms has been the dominant religion in the country. But in the rest of the world, and throughout history, Christians have been targets of persecution. One estimate is that since the time Christ walked the earth, 70 million Christians have been murdered simply because they were Christians - Christianity Today [5]. 

Of the millions of Christians martyred in the 2000 years of the church’s history over half were killed in the twentieth century, and 80 percent of the cases of religious persecution in the world today are against Christians—and it’s getting worse - Crisis Magazine [6].

However counter-intuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence - Global War On Christians [7]. 

The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, 1883, oil on canvas.
Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme


The number of martyrs will only increase at the end time. After the ride of the infamous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which are the first of seven seals opened by Jesus Christ, the Fifth Seal warns of more martyrdom.

Rev 6:9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and AVENGING our blood on those who live on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also.

 

Summary 

The Hebrew word goel is translated as redeemer or avenger, depending on context. Yet both of these roles of the goel picture roles of Jesus Christ - first as Redeemer of His church, and second as Avenger of those Redeemed, that is the innocent ones. Mankind is also pictured by the slayer, as one who has done manslaughter. As slayers, we must flee to the city of refuge to hide from vengeance. The whole earth is defiled with innocent blood. Jesus Christ the Goel has much redeeming and avenging to do. 

LORD, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth! - Psalm 94:1



References

1. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-kinsman-redeemer.html
2. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-life-is-inthe-blood.html
3. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2162-avenger-of-blood
4. http://www.numberofabortions.com/
5. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/70-million-christians-martyred-faith-since-jesus-walked-earth/38403.htm
6. https://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-global-war-on-christians
7. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/221008/the-global-war-on-christians-by-john-l-allen-jr/


The Law Of Manslaughter


Num 35:9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
10 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
11 then you shall select for yourselves cities to be your cities of refuge, so that the one who commits manslaughter by killing a person unintentionally may flee there.
12 The cities shall serve you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the one who commits manslaughter does not die until he stands before the congregation for trial.
13 So the cities which you are to provide shall be six cities of refuge for you.
14 You shall provide three cities across the Jordan, and three cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be cities of refuge.
15 These six cities shall be a refuge for the sons of Israel, for the stranger, and for the foreign resident among them; so that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.
16 ‘But if he struck him with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
17 And if he struck him with a stone in the hand, by which he would die, and as a result he did die, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
18 Or if he struck him with a wooden object in the hand, by which he would die, and as a result he did die, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
19 The blood avenger himself shall put the murderer to death; he himself shall put him to death when he meets him.
20 Now if he pushed him in hatred, or he threw something at him with malicious intent, and as a result he died,
21 or if he struck him with his hand with hostility, and as a result he died, the one who struck him must be put to death; he is a murderer. The blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.
22 ‘But if he pushed him suddenly, without hostility, or threw any object at him without malicious intent,
23 or had any deadly stone, and without looking he dropped it on him so that he died, while he was not his enemy nor was he seeking to harm him,
24 then the congregation shall judge between the one who fatally struck the victim and the blood avenger in accordance with these ordinances.
25 And the congregation shall save the one who committed manslaughter from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall return him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.
26 But if at any time he goes beyond the border of his city of refuge to which he flees
27 and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger kills him, he will not be guilty of bloodshed,
28 because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the one who committed manslaughter may return to the land of his property.
29 ‘These things shall be a statutory ordinance for you throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
30 ‘If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
31 Moreover, you shall not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who is condemned to death, but he must be put to death.
32 And you shall not accept a ransom for one who has fled to his city of refuge, so that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest.
33 So you shall not defile the land in which you live; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.
34 So you shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the Lord am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel.’”


Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Throne of David And The Daughters Of Zelophehad

King David

Here's a puzzle from the Bible. It says that Jesus will sit on the throne of King David. It also says that King Jeconiah, who is descended from David, will never have a descendant on the throne. So how can Jesus, apparently a descendant of Jeconiah, sit on the throne of David? First let's look at what the text says.

The Lord said to David on his deathbed.

2Sa 7:16  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee:
thy throne shall be established for ever.

It says the Messiah will sit on David's throne forever. 

Isa 9:7  Of the increase of his (Messiah) government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. 

And that Jeconiah's descendants will not sit on that throne, (he is mentioned by name in Jer 22:28).

Jer 22:30 Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man (Jeconiah) down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.'

Chuck Missler sums up the problem this way.

This curse created a rather grim and perplexing paradox: the Messiah had to come from the royal line, yet now there was a"blood curse" on that very line of descent! Koinonia House [1]



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The Beginning of the Solution


The genealogy of Jesus given by Matthew shows Mary's husband Joseph to be a descendant of David, Solomon, and Jeconiah. Does this imply that Joseph was in line to be king of Judah? IDK. If you compare this genealogy to 1 Chronicles 3:15–16, you will note that some kings are actually skipped, basically for wickedness - Genealogy of Jesus [2]. Note also that Jeconiah is also called Jechonias, Coniah, and Jehoiachin. Verses skipped for brevity.


Mat 1:6  And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 

Mat 1:11  And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

Mat 1:16  And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

But the genealogy given by Luke lists the ancestors of Mary. Notice that Nathan, not Solomon is listed. This neatly avoids the blood curse on Jeconiah. Again, verses skipped for clarity.

Luk 3:23  And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, 

Luk 3:31  Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,  

In the Greek, Joseph is named without a definite article, meaning the genealogy is Mary's - ChristianityStackExchange [3]. The phrase "as was supposed" occurs in nearly all English translations; it is taken from enomizeto, meaning "by law", showing Jesus as the legal heir of Joseph - BibleOne [4]. Joseph is considered more of a son than a son-in-law in this case.

So, it took a virgin birth to get around the blood curse of Jeconiah. But does it place Him on the throne of David?




Enter the Daughters of Zelophehad

Five Daughters of Zelophehad


There is an exception to the law of inheritance. If a man has only daughters, inheritance could pass to them as long as they married within the tribe. The daughters of Zelophehad got a judgment from Moses, and set a precedent.


Num_27:7  The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.

Num 36:6  This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry. 

The Bible doesn't record it, but apparently Heli (Mary's father) had no sons, so Mary could actually pass on Heli's inheritance to Jesus - [1]. Note that Heli (really Eli since he was a Jew) means "My God" - Abarim Publications [5]. The only other Eli in the Bible is the High Priest of ancient Israel, whose sons Hophni and Phineas were not righteous men and were rejected by God. Eli raised Samuel as his own son. Samuel became a prophet and judge of Israel, but could not be High Priest because he was not of the line of Aaron - ChristianityStackExchange [6]. The point is that Heli's inheritance passed to Jesus - does that include the right to the throne of David? Having male heirs to pass on one's name was extremely important in that culture, it figures prominently in the story of Boaz and Ruth - The Kinsman Redeemer [7].

Enter The Critics

This paints a nice workaround to the inheritance puzzle created by Jeconiah's curse, but is it necessary? The Zelophehad theory was first presented by C.I. Scofield, circa 1910 in the Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible [8], promoted by Chuck Missler [1], where I first heard it. But first-century Christians believed that Jesus fulfilled the messianic promises of the Old Testament, which included David's throne, without ever mentioning Zelophehad. In fact, the New Testament writers never acknowledge that there was such a problem to overcome - Jeconiah's Whammy [9]. On the other hand, they knew the inheritance laws from experience and didn't need them explained.


Solomon's Throne
The promise to David cited above is unconditional, and looks like God promised an unbroken dynasty from David to the Messiah. It is difficult for me to see it otherwise. It says David's throne would be "established forever". Yet in terms of Solomon's dynasty, Jeconiah was the end of the road. Some scholars insist that kingship can only be passed on through the male line, but not to adopted sons. By that reasoning, Joseph was the royal line, but couldn't pass it to an adopted son - Wikipedia(Davidic Dynasty) [10]. If you accept the Zelophehad theory, the scepter of kingship passed to Jesus Christ  through Mary, but not in a way that satisfies everyone. The Zelophehad theory assumes Mary had no brothers, which seems like a detail that should not be omitted from the record if inheritance, indeed the monarchy, depends on it. Since Nathan was never a king, are his descendants eligible to ascend to the throne of David? And if Nathan's line were selected over Solomon's, did it pass to Heli? An alternate explanation is that the scepter still came through Joseph, but ancestry came through Mary. Going back to David on his deathbed, it appears that the perpetual dynasty is to come through Solomon.
2Sa 7:13  He (Solomon) shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 

 

Coronation Chair
Stone of Scone
Some explain the unbroken succession of Solomon's line survived because the prophet Jeremiah took the daughters of King Zedekiah (Jeconiah's uncle) of Solomon's line, and brought them to Ireland. They married royalty there, and according to this theory, are the ancestors of the British throne, that is the British throne is David's throne. Adherents to this say when Christ returns, He will take over and sit down on an existing throne of David, here on earth - Church of the Eternal God [11]. They neglect the large gaps where an heir of David was not on the throne of England - Hope Of Israel [12]. They say the meaning of Luke 1:32 is that an heir will be sitting on David's throne at Christ's return, but does it really say the throne will exist on earth at the time of the end? With an heir of David on it?

  

Luk 1:32  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 
Also, the Bible also says that Israel will be without a king.
Hos 3:4  For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: 

Some scholars say that when  David received the promise that his house, his kingdom, and his throne would be established forever (2Sa 7:16), it did not mean an unbroken monarchy.

God did not promise an unbroken monarchy but an unbroken line of descendants from David who would be qualified to sit on that throne when it was reestablished. David’s line would not fail before the righteous Branch came to claim His throne (cf. Luke 1:31-33). The genealogies of Matthew and Luke show that this promise was fulfilled as Christ was able to trace both His legal line through Joseph and His physical line through Mary back to David (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-31) - Bible Knowledge Commentary [13].

Meaning, qualified descendants, not necessarily kings. Which brings us back to the daughters of Zelophehad. In the end, the exact meaning of God's promise to David is unclear to me, and beyond my scholarship. When Christ returns, He comes as King of Kings, and will sit of the throne of David. When and where He was or will be given the throne of David is not clear to me. 

I started writing this thinking I had a nice small topic, a lesser known nugget of Bible truth to share, inspired by the teaching of Chuck Missler. But like many things Biblical, I didn't find consensus. But I didn't want to waste all that research, so I tried to cover the different points of view - I still find it interesting, even if I don't have certainty. Until Jesus does return and set the record straight, the best I can say is to do your own research, and draw your own conclusions. And please, share your thoughts with me.

References

1. https://www.khouse.org/articles/1998/73/
2. http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/genealogy_of_Jesus.htm
3. https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/56826/how-could-jesus-be-descended-from-the-royal-line-of-david-if-he-was-born-of-the
4. http://www.bibleone.net/genealogy.htm
5. https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Eli.html#.X8Mx_PlTnIU
6. https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/42394/did-samuel-act-as-a-priest-on-top-of-being-a-prophet
7. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-kinsman-redeemer.html
8.  https://www.christianbook.com/niv-scofield-leather-basketweave-burgundy-indexed/9780195280081/pd/280083
9. https://www.equip.org/article/jeconiahs-whammy
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davidic_dynasty_in_Bible_prophecy
11. https://www.eternalgod.org/q-a-5307/
12. https://hope-of-israel.org/i000057a.htm
13. https://books.google.com/books?id=cndNDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT175&lpg=PT175

Friday, November 20, 2020

On Vultures' Wings

Exodus 19:4 is a familiar verse. It is also the subject of the devotional Hymn "On Eagles' Wings" composed by Michael Joncas - Wikipedia(On Eagle's Wings) [1].

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.

Griffon Vulture in Flight
Some translations say "carried you on eagles' wings", I like that image. Note that Ex 19:4 reads eagles plural, not one giant eagle. Being an American, I always pictured the Bald Eagle in this verse. Commentaries, written by Americans or Europeans, probably imagined some majestic eagle as well. And they write many lessons about how eagles care for their young, how they teach them to fly and so forth. But Bible scholars no longer think this verse refers to the eagle, but really refers to the vulture.



If you like this (or not), check out my other articles at the
Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.


According to HaAretz [2], this is a problem in translation. "The first translators of the Bible from Hebrew and Aramaic, the Greek translators that created the Septuagint, got it wrong and wrote a’etos, which is the Greek word for eagle." That error has continued to this day. All of the 28 translations on BibleHub(Ex 19:4) [3] translate this as eagle, so why do scholars say it means vulture?

Again from HaAretz [2].

It all began when the Reverend Henry Tristram, a Bible scholar and ornithologist, traveled to the Holy Land in the 1860s. In a book he published in 1867, Tristram wrote that the biblical nesher was not an eagle but a vulture. This was picked up by the Israel Aharoni, a highly influential zoologist working in Palestine in the early 20th century. In his 1923 book Torat Hachai (“Zoology”) he announced the flip and suggested that the word nesher be reinstated to its biblical use, and used to refer to the vulture.

Bible scholar AND ornithologist? Apparently, this caused quite an argument in the Academy of the Hebrew Language, which eventually accepted the ornithology argument over linguistic or poetic ones.

Let's look at some of the technical details, then explore what we can learn from this.

"Bald" Griffon Vulture

Eagle is translated from the Hebrew word nesher - Cambridge Commentary [4], and is used 26 times in the Old Testament - Strong's(H5404) [5]. One reference to note is Micah 1:16 which mentions "baldness as an eagle", which must refer to the Griffon Vulture. It is not actually bald, but has a white downy covering on its head and neck. American Bald Eagles aren't bald either, they have white head feathers.



As an American, I view the eagle as majestic, but not the vulture. It turns out that this is a cultural thing. In the ancient world of the Middle East, the Griffon Vulture was seen as the king of birds. Indeed, it was seen as a symbol of royalty - Biblical Natural History [6]. The Griffon Vulture is actually an amazing bird. 



Griffon Vultures 

  • have remarkable eyesight
  • can spot its prey from three kilometres away
  • have binocular vision
  • are the highest flying bird (37,000 feet! [6])
  • have a wing span of 9 feet or more






So if the word vulture bothers you, think of them as raptors or birds of prey.

Text and Context

One lesson that I see from this change in translating nesher is that we can't entirely escape our own biases or the translator's biases when reading the Bible. It was written thousands of years ago by and for a people who spoke a different language, and had a different history and culture. I don't think that translating nesher as eagle instead of vulture is going to cause a problem for anyone, but learning that fact reminded me I still view parts of the Bible through my modern American lens. Just like the way I misunderstood the symbolism of the Crimson Grub Worm [7]. So, in addition to historical, linguistic, and cultural context, I have to add zoological context. 

A better question to explore is why did God use this image to describe deliverance from Egypt? Because the eagle (vulture) is unclean to eat and a bird of prey. J Vernon McGee [8] says it is not a symbol of God. Sue Nelson (womanofnoblecharacter) [9] says the opposite "The image of God as an eagle (vulture) is found throughout the Bible". The Bible appears to agree with Sue Nelson.

Deu 32:11 Like an eagle (vulture) that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.
12 The LORD alone guided him, And there was no foreign god with him.


Symbolism Of Vultures


"Venue" of vultures
EnglishGrammarHere [10]



What lessons can we see in the symbolism of a vulture picturing God? We can see the vulture as a sign of strength, embodied in the opening quote where God carried Israel on vultures' wings. I have to point out that despite the word picture of being carried on the wings of a vulture, Israel walked out of Egypt. So the word "carried" isn't literal here. Many commentaries speak of God caring for Israel the way that eagles care for their young (and I assume Griffon Vultures as well), emphasizing supremacy, strength and protection [9]. They build nests where no other birds can reach them. They fiercely protect their chicks. They provide all their food. And teach them to fly.

 

 

When they teach them to fly, both parents are involved in the training program. As the little one takes off from that dizzy height and attempts to follow its parent in flight, the eagle (vulture) swoops beneath it and bears the little fellow on its wings when he seems exhausted. [8]

 

Photographer/Artist Zvi Suchet [11] wrote
"I can imagine the vulture’s expansive outstretched
wings lovingly sheltering the children of God."

One other trait of vultures that has symbolic meaning is that vultures feed on carrion, that is feed on the dead. That doesn't normally sound like a characteristic of God, but the picture symbolizes that He brings life from death - Beth Tikkun(2Tim 2) [12]. And this is the hope of our resurrection, that God will bring us from death to life. The Bible records that believers will be strong, swift, and tireless like the nesher. "Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles (vultures), They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary" - Is 40:31. This analogy does break down however, for example, we don't expect God to actually eat carcasses. "Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him" - Luke 20:38.

Conclusion


We see many lessons when we consider the vulture in Scripture. Whether nesher is translated as vulture, eagle, or raptor doesn't really make a lot of difference. But it does alert us that we approach the Bible from our own background, and sometimes we need to strive to see it through the eyes of the authors as much as we can. We also see the symbolism that so many parts of creation point us to some aspect of God, the vulture in this case teaching us of the supremacy, strength, and protection of our God.



More trivia from English Grammar Here [9].
  • Cast of vultures. "The corpse was inspected by a cast of vultures."
  • Kettle of vultures. If you see a group of vultures that flying in the sky. You should call them a kettle of vultures.
  • Committee of vultures. To describe a group of vultures as a committee, they should be landed.
  • Wake of vultures. When you see a group of vultures that are feeding you call them a wake of vultures.
  • Venue of vultures.  Unlike the word, “kettle”, “venue” is used when a group of vultures not flying.

 References

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Eagle%27s_Wings
2. https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-word-of-the-day-nesher-1.5247567
3. https://biblehub.com/exodus/19-4.htm
4. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/cambridge/exodus/19.htm
5. http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/5404.html
6. https://www.biblicalnaturalhistory.org/nesher/
7. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2016/04/i-am-worm-gospel-in-grub.html
8. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mcgee_j_vernon/eBooks/on-eagles-wings.cfm
9. https://www.womanofnoblecharacter.com/eagles-ravens-unclean-birds-bible
10. https://englishgrammarhere.com/collective-nouns/collective-noun-for-vultures-collective-nouns-list-vultures/
11. https://www.zvisuchet.com
12. https://bethtikkun.com/2-timothy-2a/
13. https://annamiticus.com/2012/08/27/16-things-you-might-not-know-about-vultures/

Sunday, November 8, 2020

A Tale Of Two Natures

Consider this short story from the book of Exodus. It takes place after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. The Amalekites come to make war with them. 


Israel at war with Amalek
at Rephidim


Ex 17:8 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.



If you like this (or not), check out my other articles at the
Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.


On the surface, it's a simple piece of history as Israel entered the wilderness. They clearly were not welcomed to the neighborhood.  But if we dig deeper, we can see more meanings. We are told that the stories from the Old Testament are examples for us.

1 Cor 10:11 Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

The word translated "examples" is typikos, rendered in Young's Literal Translation as "types" - BibleHub [1]. Type means an impression or mark, or in the religious sense a pattern, model, or foreshadowing - Strongs(G5179) [2]. The Bible is telling us to look deeper, see the pattern. So let's do that.

The territory of Amalek is not near Rephidim
Allfaith.com [3]
First, let's look at the historical context. As I said above, Israel had crossed the Red Sea, they were in the desert on the way to the promised land. As if ten plagues and parting the Red Sea were not enough, right before the war with Amalek, God caused manna to cover the ground every night and water to come out of a rock, enough water for two million people plus livestock. Then came Amalek. Maybe they just didn't want to share the land (it appears that Amalek went out of his way to make war against Israel, that is, they didn't live nearby), maybe they wanted the water; the Bible doesn't say. 



This is Israel's first fight. In Egypt, they were never told to fight. Their most aggressive act was to plunder the Egyptians for valuables, which the Egyptians were happy to give if it meant rid of Israel. At the Red Sea, again God fought the battle for them, all they had to do was walk to the other side. After receiving water from a rock at Rephidim, Amalek attacked, and Moses told Joshua to choose men to fight. Why didn't God overthrow Amalek like the Egyptians? One answer is that Israel had to start taking responsibility, they had to take the reins of their own future. "When means of help are put within our reach, God expects us to use them. What man can do for himself, God will not work miracles to do for him" - J. Orr [4].  Just like a child needs to learn how to be a responsible adult - they learn little by little from their parents with jobs where they can succeed or fail safely. (Disclaimer: I never had kids, but I think that's a fair statement.) Moses was on the hill, picturing the fact that God was still in the picture for Israel. Like a parent, God was watching over them. 

Another reason why God allowed the Amalek attack was a bit of punishment for Israel. Yes God gave them water out of a rock right before this, but only after the people complained first - Moses thought they were ready to stone him.

Another reason was to show Israel that fighting their battles was both a physical AND spiritual effort. Joshua led the army, but Moses went up on the hilltop. Moses is the spiritual leader of the nation, Joshua the physical leader. They both had roles to play - Spurgeon [5]. It is an expression of faith and works. All nations are like ancient Israel, battling between good and evil. War with Amalek shows that the battle is both carnal and spiritual. It doesn't mean that God abandoned Israel during their battle (punishment), He was still there helping their efforts, pictured by Moses on the hilltop. I think the parallels with modern America are especially strong. As a country, we are fighting a national battle of good versus evil, and our future depends on the choices we make now. The country's problems cannot be solved by purely physical (political) means. Are there enough people holding our leaders hands up to prevail against our Amalek?

We as individuals are also like ancient Israel, we have two natures and have to fight on a personal level, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" - 1 Jn 2:16. And it takes physical effort as well as spiritual effort. And this battle takes place "Between The Ears". There is a continual battle between the flesh and the spirit.

Gal 5:17  For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want.

Aaron and Hur


Moses supported by 
Aaron and Hur

Let's dig deeper by exploring who is represented by the people in this passage. Who or what do Aaron and Hur picture? These are the men who held up Moses' arms. 

Aaron is the older brother of Moses. The name Aaron is unique in the Bible, there is no one else named Aaron. His name is probably derived from the word for light or mountain - Abarim.com(Aaron) [6]. So one interpretation could be God's messenger who brings light.  Aaron became High Priest, and one of the jobs of the priesthood is to teach God's ways. 

Mal 2:7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

Hur's ancestry is unclear. Jewish tradition says Hur was the son of Miriam, Moses's older sister, but the Bible doesn't record it. Hur may have been the grandfather of Bezalel, principal creator of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant - Wiki(Hur) [7]. If Hur was the nephew of Moses, then the three of them would be related, all of one family, whatever that may mean. The name Hur comes from a word meaning heat - Abarim.com(Hur) [8]. Chuck Missler(Exodus #7) [9] says that Hur means light. 

I don't see a definitive interpretation of Aaron and Hur according to the meaning of their Hebrew names. I see some possibilities. For example, both names seem to involve light. This fits well with the golden Menorah in the Tabernacle, the only source of light in the Holy Place, and it fits well with Aaron representing the priesthood teaching the people from the word. These verses amplify that.

Psa_43:3 Send out Your light and Your truth
they shall lead me;
They shall bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacles.

Psa_44:3 For by their own sword they did not possess the land,
And their own arm did not save them,
But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence,
For You favored them.

Psa_119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

Pro_6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the Law is light;
And rebukes for discipline are the way of life

Another interpretation is that Aaron and Hur represent the basic tools of spiritual warfare - prayer and study. Prayer and study picture a two way street, God speaks with us when we study His word, we speak with Him when we pray; and on a more personal level, He is involved with our lives, speaking to us through circumstances - like winning the battle with our own Amaleks. We pray on the mountaintop, and win the battle on the plain.

Amalek


What about the meaning of the name Amalek? "The Amalekites were thus either known as the Nippers or as the Lickers" - Abarim.com(Amalek) [10]. Look at the way they fought with Israel. One might say that they "nipped" at their heels.

Deu 25:17  Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you came out of Egypt, 18 how he confronted you on the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.

Others say that Amalek is derived from amal, which means to toil, or wear down, implying that the Enemy wears us down so we give up making intercession - Axel Sipparch [11].

After the war with Amalek, Moses records two somewhat contradictory things - Amalek is to be blotted out, yet Israel will continually be at war with them.

Ex 17:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; 16 and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.”


The good news is eventually Amalek will be completely defeated, meaning eventually in the kingdom of God. We will overcome, not in the flesh, but in the spirit. The bad news is that this was a fight Israel would keep having, and so will we, in the flesh. In other words, until the kingdom comes, we will have Satan to deal with. One reason that Amalek would always trouble Israel is because Israel didn't deal with them when they were told to. King Saul was told to utterly destroy Amalek; he mostly did, but didn't finish the job. You can read the story in 1Kings 15. Descendants of Amalek keep showing up in Israel's history, nipping at their heels. Haman, the villain of the book of Esther, was descended from Agag, the king spared by Saul, and Agag was a descendant of Amalek. See the Scroll of Esther [12].

Amalek in Hebrew, "blotted" out

Other Typology

Notice that this war occurred after they received water. Water is a Bible symbol of the Holy Spirit, which believers receive at baptism. Because our baptism is like Israel passing through the sea, some say that is when the battle actually begins. Remember, Israel did not fight in Egypt. Only after deliverance from Pharoah, and baptism in the sea (the birth of the nation Israel) did Amalek make war with them. "And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea 1Co_10:2". 

Even Joshua's sword has symbolism. It says he overcame Amalek with the edge of the sword. And this is the word of God, tying it all back to Aaron the priest.

Eph 6:17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 


Conclusion

This simple story of Israel warring with Amalek has much meaning under the surface; meaning for nations, meaning for individuals. The typology of the war with Amalek is rich with symbolism for us today. We all have to fight the Amalek within us, and this story shows us the battle is both physical and spiritual. As a church or as a nation, we win as long as we hold up the arms of our leaders. As individuals, we win as long as we amplify our physical efforts with the spiritual tools of prayer and Bible study. 


References

1. https://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/10-11.htm
2. https://biblehub.com/greek/strongs_5179.htm
3. https://allfaith.com/questions/sinai.html
4. https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/orr/amalek.htm
5. https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/spurgeon/fighting_and_praying.htm
6. https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Aaron.html#.X27Nm_k3nIU
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hur_(Bible)
8. https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Hur.html#.X27Mfvk3nIU
9. https://store.khouse.org/collections/commentaries/products/exodus-an-expositional-commentary
10. https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Amalek.html#.X27Ov_k3nIU
11. https://www.axelsippach.com/beware-of-the-spirit-of-amalek/
12. http://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-scroll-of-esther.html