More than Just Conservative (4)

If it is true, as Berman believed,[1] that we are approaching the end of an era, then it is incumbent on Christians to begin to rethink their covenantal heritage. They must begin to offer an alternative to the present collapsing social order, and this alternative must be self-consciously judicial. Christians must become judicial revolutionaries, not simply defenders of the present legal order. If we remain on the deck of this sinking ship claiming that it is in principle conforming with biblical principles, we shall go down with it. Sticking with the status quo means sure death by drowning.[2]

No one likes change. We all like things to go on just as they have, because that means we don’t have to contemplate interruptions to our normal procedure. But history shows that when people hang on doggedly to an untenable ideological, philosophical or theological position, doctrine or practice, they ultimately get swept away in an onslaught, which only reveals the stupidity of their position. Karl Marx is not so fashionable in the West, since 1991.

And if we believe in the Church that the Bible is the text-book for our faith and practice, then how have we applied this to the nations of the world?  Is the Bible God’s text for the nations, or does He only want it applied to individuals, families and the Church? (Remember this: the terms “nations” is used over 450 times in the scriptures.) And if we believe that God judges everyone and everything that is hostile to Him, we had best open our eyes to the scriptures, along with the affairs of the world, to see how these two are intersecting.  We may find some conflict.

If there is a wholesale contempt for God and His Word displayed amongst the nations of the world, there will be judgment on those nations as a consequence. The Bible shows us in many places, God turning up the heat on nations that have held Him and His Word in contempt.

Think of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible says that “…the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground” (Gen.19:24-25). God held them accountable for their contempt of Him.

No doubt there may be some who will claim, “That was the Old Testament.” Yes, it was. But Jesus also said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted” (Mat.15:13), and He wasn’t speaking of potatoes. Ultimately, nothing will be able to stand against the kingdom of God, and God can be relied on to back up His Word, as He repeatedly did in the Bible.

Christians are glad to be conservative politically, when it means conserving those things that have Biblical legitimacy. But the Christian wants to do more than merely conserve. He wants to GROW things, especially those things that correspond to his Christian faith. Think of this:

All over the world, classrooms are being scrapped as retarding influences. Many employers of the 21st Century know that college degrees represent little of value; often a negative value. One of the most liberating developments of the early 21st Century is the broad realization that schooling retards both learning and education. Through the internet, real accelerated learning is becoming decentralized and de-institutionalized. So are people. Children and adults are learning how to learn, how to think, and how to make long-term plans for a long-term future. What they want to do now is build, and perhaps re-build some of the things destroyed by counterculture.[3]

I’m not interested in trying to preserve public education; I look forward to the day when it collapses. Why? It’s not in the Bible, it’s hostile to God and family life, is detrimental to children and their education, and is an utter waste of billions. But I am overjoyed at the prospect of millions of children being successfully home-educated by their parents. Then, we’ll really see some great strides forward for children, families, churches and for the nations of the world.

But if that is the way ahead with education, what about other things? What about how we deal with criminals? Why shouldn’t we think about crime Biblically?

That would mean three things: restoring restitution (the notion that thieves should pay back at least double what they have stolen), capital punishment for capital offenses such as murder, and getting rid of gaols, which have no place under Biblical law. Aspects of Biblical law as it applies to criminal activity are found throughout the first five books of the Bible, but especially Exodus 20-23 and Deuteronomy 6-27.

Gaols are very expensive places for taxpayers to maintain. They are also places of oppression, violence and sexual abuse, low productivity, and they do nothing for the victims of crime, who’ve suffered loss. Victims of crime suffer loss from criminal activity, having to pay for legal assistance, then suffer loss through having to pay for the maintenance of criminals in gaol. But if criminals had to pay restitution to their victims (at least double) it would probably teach them very quickly that crime doesn’t pay.

This is one of the reasons Biblical law is so liberating for godly people. The Bible actually calls it “…the law of liberty” (James 2:12).

The notion that we could once again embrace Biblical law may seem revolutionary to some. But society is in such decline, and there is such disenchantment with the judicial outcomes we are presently seeing in the community, that it may not be long before we see societies ready for the reinstatement of Biblical law. This happened in King Josiah’s time (II Kings 22-23), and it could very well happen today.

We might hardly know ourselves.

 

 

 

[1] Harold Berman, “Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition,” 1983, p.v.

[2] Gary North, “Authority and Dominion,” 2012, Vol.6, p.1637.

[3] Geoffrey Bodkin, “The Reasons for Optimism,” Part 2, 19/12/2012. (See www.westernconservatory.com)

What Does the Bible Say about the End of the World?

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When Christians hear the phrase the “end of the world,” most assume it’s a reference to a great end-time prophetic event like Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ, or the cataclysmic end of heaven and earth as a prelude to a New Heavens and New Earth. Actually, the phrase “end of the world,” as in the end of the physical world, is not found in the Bible. There is Psalm 19:4, but in context “end of the world” is a geographical description: “Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world.” The same is true of its use in the New Testament (Acts 13:47Rom. 10:18).

The “end of the world” appears several times in the King James translation of the Bible. The Greek word kosmos, the word we would expect to find for the translation of these “end of the world” passages, is not used. Modern translations render the passages as the “end of the age” because the Greek word aiōn not kosmos is used. The New King James translation remedies the translation error of the original KJV by translating aiōn as “age” and not “world” (Matt. 13:39404924:328:20). Aiōn refers to a limited historical period, not the physical world (1 Cor. 10:11). Kosmos (“foundation of the world,” that is, the physical world) and aiōnōn (“consummation of the ages”) are used in Hebrews 9:26, a time when Jesus had been “manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” It seems odd that the translators of the KJV translated two different Greek words in the same verse as “world.” The New King James corrects the error.

Ephesians 3:21 is often quoted to support the argument that the world will never end. It may teach this idea, but not based on the KJV translation that’s as follows: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” The Greek word kosmos is not found in the passage. Here’s a more literal reading: “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations age [αἰῶνος] to the ages [αἰώνων]. Amen.”

Jesus’ appearance on earth as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), not just Jews but the nations (4:42), coincides with the consummation of the ages, a first-century reality. In fact, the writer to the Hebrews opens his epistle with the claim that he was living in “these last days” because of the first coming of Christ in the world (Heb. 1:2). The tabernacle had become incarnate (John 1:14) and personalized (2:13–22) in Jesus Christ. Peter uses similar language when he writes, “For [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world [kosmos] but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you” (1 Peter 1:20). Paul tells his Corinthian audience that “the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future

Finally, a book that explains the meaning of these two seemingly mysterious chapters (Ezekiel 38-39) by using the Bible instead of today’s newspaper headlines!

Peter writes from the vantage point of his day that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter. 4:7; cf. 1:20). This can hardly be a declaration that the end of the physical universe was about to take place. “At hand” tells us that whatever this end is, it was near for Peter and his first-century audience. Jay E. Adams offers a helpful commentary on the passage, considering its historical and theological context:

[First] Peter was written before A.D. 70 (when the destruction of Jerusalem took place)…. The persecution (and martyrdom) that these (largely) Jewish Christians had been experiencing up until now stemmed principally from unconverted Jews (indeed, his readers had found refuge among Gentiles as resident aliens)…. [H]e refers to the severe trials that came upon Christians who had fled Palestine under attack from their unconverted fellow Jews. The end of all things (that had brought this exile about) was near.

In six or seven years from the time of writing, the overthrow of Jerusalem, with all its tragic stories, as foretold in the Book of Revelation and in the Olivet Discourse upon which that part is based, would take place. Titus and Vespasian would wipe out the old order once and for all. All those forces that led to the persecution and exile of these Christians in Asia Minor—the temple ceremonies (outdated by Christ’s death), Pharisaism (with its distortion of O.T. law into a system of works-righteousness) and the political stance of Palestinian Jewry toward Rome—would be erased. The Roman armies would wipe Jewish opposition from the face of the land. Those who survived the holocaust of A.D. 70 would themselves be dispersed around the Mediterranean world. “So,” says Peter, “hold on; the end is near.” The full end of the O.T. order (already made defunct by the cross and the empty tomb) was about to occur. [1]

Adam Clarke (1762–1832) writes the following in his commentary on 1 Peter 4:7: “Peter says, The end of all things is at hand; and this he spoke when God had determined to destroy the Jewish people and their polity by one of the most signal judgments that ever fell upon any nation or people. In a very few years after St. Peter wrote this epistle, even taking it at the lowest computation, viz., A. D. 60 or 61, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. To this destruction, which was literally then at hand, the apostle alludes when he says, The end of all things is at hand; the end of the temple, the end of the Levitical priesthood, the end of the whole Jewish economy, was then at hand.” [2]

The end of the age was the real end of the world, the world of old covenant Judaism, and the inauguration of a new era where God no longer speaks in types and shadows but “in His Son” (Heb. 1:2). There was such a dramatic transference from one age to the next that Peter described it as “the end of all things.”

The use of this end-time language is “typical Jewish imagery for events within the present order that are felt and perceived as ‘cosmic’ or, as we should say, as ‘earth-shattering’. More particularly, they are regular Jewish imagery for events that bring the story of Israel to its appointed climax. The days of Jerusalem’s destruction would be looked upon as days of cosmic catastrophe. The known world would go into convulsions: power struggles and coups d’état would be the order of the day; the pax Romana, the presupposition of ‘civilized’ life throughout the then Mediterranean world, would collapse into chaos. In the midst of that chaos Jerusalem would fall.” [3]

Jerusalem was the redemptive center of the then known world: “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her’” (Ezek. 5:5). The Jews lived “at the center of the world” (38:12). To be far from Jerusalem was to be at “the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). For a Jew, Jerusalem was the center of life (2:5–11). Medieval maps show Jerusalem to be the geographical center of the world because it was the center of redemptive history. Isaiah predicted that the nations would look “to the house of the God of Jacob” for redemption and instruction:

In the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains and will be raised above the hills; and all nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths” (Isa. 2:2–3).

The nations did look to the “house of Jacob” for their redemption. Paul writes that the gospel “has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26). The “mystery of godliness” had been “proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world” (1 Tim. 3:16).

The Early Church and the End of the World

Shows that some of the earliest writers, most likely writing before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34)

Christians writing less than 100 years after the destruction of Jerusalem and the dismantling of the temple understood that Isaiah 2 was looking forward to the ministry of the gospel in the world among the nations. Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic words when He said, “Come to Me” (Matt. 11:28). Consider the brief commentary of Justin the Martyr (c. 100–165):

And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are to come to pass, He speaks in this way: “For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never will they learn war” [Isa. 2:3–4]. And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we might not lie or deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ. [4]

Irenaeus (c. 130–200), another second-century Christian writer, taught that Isaiah 2 was fulfilled at the time of “the Lord’s advent,” that is, the first coming of Jesus. You will notice that he believed that the message of “the new covenant” had a worldwide impact before Jerusalem’s fall:

If any one, however, advocating the cause of the Jews, does maintain that this new covenant consisted in the rearing of that temple which was built under Zerubbabel after the emigration to Babylon, and in the departure of the people from thence after the lapse of seventy years, let him know that the temple constructed of stones was indeed then rebuilt (for as yet that law was observed which had been made upon tables of stone), yet no new covenant was given, but they used the Mosaic law until the coming of the Lord; but from the Lord’s advent, the new covenant which brings back peace, and the law which gives life, has gone forth over the whole earth, as the prophets said: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; and He shall rebuke many people; and they shall break down their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and they shall no longer learn to fight.” [5]

Tertullian (160–225) makes a similar application when he argues that it is “among us, who have been called out of the nations,—‘and they shall join to beat their glaives into ploughs, and their lances into sickles; and nations shall not take up glaive against nation, and they shall no more learn to fight.’ Who else, therefore, are understood but we, who, fully taught by the new law, observe these practices,—the old law being obliterated, the coming of whose abolition the action itself demonstrates?” [6]

With the advent of Jesus and the ministry of the gospel to the nations, earthly Jerusalem would no longer be the geographical center of the world. The world had come into view, so much so that Paul could write that the gospel had been “proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Col. 1:23; cf. 1:6Rom. 1:810:181 Tim. 3:16d). The temple and the city of Jerusalem were shadows of better things to come. The tabernacle was a “copy and shadow of heavenly things … according to the pattern which was shown [to Moses] on the mountain” (Heb. 8:5). Jesus is the “true tabernacle” (8:2). The “new covenant . . . made the first [covenant] obsolete” (8:13). The writer to the Hebrews describes it this way: “But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear” (8:13). The word translated as “ready” is actually the Greek word engus, “near.” James C. DeYoung writes:

The total impression gained from the accumulation of evidence from Jesus’ teaching and prophecy concerning the rejection and doom of Jerusalem, as well as from the teaching of Galatians and Hebrews is that the significance of Jerusalem in the history of redemption had come to an end with the death of Jesus. Thus, the antithesis between the earthly and heavenly Jerusalem is based upon the cross of Christ. Jerusalem’s rejection and crucifixion of her Messiah, whether viewed retrospectively by the Apostles, or prospectively by Jesus himself, formed the basis for the pessimistic view of the future of the city. Thus the investigation of the relevant passages from the Gospels has shown that the Christian break with Jerusalem came long before her destruction in A.D. 70. [7]

Jesus is the center of redemptive history. He far surpasses anything the temple of stone and the sacrificial system of bloody animals were thought to be. “We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (10:19–20).

  1. Jay E. Adams, Trust and Obey: A Practical Commentary on First Peter (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1978), 129–130.[]
  2. Clarke’s Commentary on The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 vols. (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1810), 2:864.[]
  3. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996),362.[]
  4. Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” Chapter XXXIX: Direct Predictions by the SpiritAnte-Nicene Fathers, 1:175–176.[]
  5. Irenaeus, “Proof Against the Marcionites, that the Prophets Referred in All Their Predictions to Our Christ,” Against Heresies,” Book IV, Chapter 34.[]
  6. Tertullian, “Of Circumcision and the Supercession of the Old Law,” An Answer to the Jews, Chapter III.[]
  7. James Calvin DeYoung, Jerusalem in the New Testament: The Significance of the City in the History of Redemption and in Eschatology (Kampen, Netherlands: J. H. Kok, 1960), 109–110.[]

More than Just Conservative (3)

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores His captive people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad (Ps.53:6).

Mount Zion is a hill in Jerusalem, just outside the walls of the city. While it was significant in the Old Testament and especially in King David’s time as the high point of Jerusalem, the term “Mount Zion” has a different meaning for Christians today. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that “…you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels…” (Heb.12:22).

Why is this?

Jesus made a very disturbing declaration to the Jews, before they crucified Him. He said that “…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it” (Mat.21:43). Thus we can safely say that the church has received the kingdom of God.

For the church, the geography of Mount Zion is insignificant, but its symbolism is still very relevant. Now, the Church has become the centre-point of God’s purpose, and the promises in the Old Testament relating to Mount Zion and Israel, now apply to the Church. Paul writes in Ephesians that “…the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph.3:10), and that the church is “…the pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim.3:15).

What has this got to do with conservatism? A lot.

Unless the church is accurately promoting Biblical truth, there is really little hope for the world. If the people of Mount Zion (the church) are rebellious, wayward, deceived or asleep, the truth will not be effectively communicated to the world.

This should deepen our resolve to get off our backside and get busy communicating the truth of God, firstly within and to the church. That way, the church can learn how to be more obedient to God, and how to teach sinners the ways of God.

The Old Testament promises to Israel were extremely important, and have been appropriated by the church. But what have we done with them? Have we taken them seriously? I don’t think so.

Through Isaiah in 700 BC, God said that

…many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa.2:3).

Later through the prophet Zechariah, God said “…many peoples and mighty nations will come and seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favour of the Lord” (Zech.8:22).

There is nothing outside the realm of God’s kingdom. Thus there is nothing about which that we can safely say, “Oh, we don’t need to be bothered about that.” The Bible never teaches a sacred/secular dichotomy. That’s why I’ve been trying to communicate that economics, welfare, education, law, government, the conduct of foreign affairs and every other human activity are aspects that God wants to redeem and change, for His glory.

This requires our obedience, first. We in the church can’t expect the people and nations of the world to give up foolish ideas and practices, if we haven’t rejected them, beforehand. Otherwise, we’re promoting hypocrisy.

Now is the time for a legitimate indoctrination to occur. The people of God (the church), getting immersed in the scriptures and learning how to live them out in real life. That way, we will have the ability to say to the international community, “This is how you do it.”

John Piper says the Coronavirus is a Sign of the End Times

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While the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says we should “have our senses trained” (5:14), the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily to assess whether what Paul was saying was true or not (Acts 17:11), and John says to “test the spirits, to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1), it seems that today’s Christians are easily led astray by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14), especially when it comes to Bible prophecy.

It appears that no one is immune. Consider John Piper whose book Coronavirus and Christ includes this chapter: “Awakening Us for the Second Coming.” The chapter begins with this true statement: “the history of the Christian church is littered with failed predictions of the end of the world.” He then writes the following, claiming the Coronavirus is a sign that Jesus’ return may be near

Jesus said there would be pointers to his coming—like wars, famines, and earthquakes (Matt. 24:7). He called these signs “birth pains” (Matt. 24:8). The image is of the earth as a woman in labor, trying to give birth to the new world, which Jesus would bring into being at his coming.

*****

Paul picked up this imagery in Romans 8:22 and referred the birth pains to all the groanings of this age—all the miseries of disaster and disease (like the coronavirus). He pictured us in our diseases as part of the labor pains of the world.

Piper’s not alone. A majority of Christians and pastors believe we are living in the last days. Consider the following results of a recent survey:

LifeWay found that nearly nine out of 10 surveyed pastors viewed the end times prophecies of the Bible as being showcased in current events.

This included around 83 percent of respondents believing that Jesus was referring to current events when discussing the rise of false prophets and false teachings, traditional morals becoming less accepted (79 percent), wars and national conflicts (78 percent), earthquakes and other natural disasters (76 percent), and people leaving Christianity (75 percent).

The survey also found that 56 percent of surveyed pastors believed Jesus would return within their lifetime, versus 20 percent who did not believe it would happen in their lifetime.

Referencing Matthew 24:7–8 and contending that Jesus was referring to some distant end-time series of events is not an interpretive possibility because Jesus was answering questions asked by His disciples about the destruction of the temple and the end of the age (Matt. 24:1–3), that is, the end of the Adamic and Mosaic ages (αἰώνων/aiōnōn) (1 Cor. 10:11), not the end of the world (kosmos).

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Wars and Rumors of Wars will help you search the Scriptures to see what Jesus said about famines, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, and other supposed end-time signs refer to our generation or a past generation.

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There were wars and rumors of wars in the lead up to the temple’s destruction in AD 70 as well as earthquakes, famines (Acts 11:27–28), and even plagues (Luke 21:11). The clincher is that Jesus said that the generation then alive would not end until all the events mentioned in the Olivet Discourse took place (Matt. 24:34). The birth pangs were related to that generation not 50 generations later.

The timing is the key to understanding the passage, otherwise a perpetual state of fear, disappointment, and inaction set in. Why bother with this world since Jesus is about to rescue us from all our troubles? All we must do is hold on a little while longer and all the bad stuff will go away, and we won’t have to do anything to fix what’s wrong. Our inaction becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jesus was warning His first readers that these common signs were not end-of-the-world signs because they are common to every generation. Consider the following from science and science fiction writer Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame:

Is this really the end of the world? Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods?

No, we simply live on an active planet. Earthquakes are continuous, a million and a half of them every year, or three every minute. A Richter 5 quake every six hours, a major quake every 3 weeks. A quake as destructive as the one in Pakistan every 8 months. It’s nothing new, it’s right on schedule.

At any moment there are 1,500 electrical storms on the planet. A tornado touches down every six hours. We have ninety hurricanes a year, or one every four days. Again, right on schedule. Violent, disruptive, chaotic activity is a constant feature of our globe.

Is this the end of the world? No: this is the world. It’s time we knew it. [1]

“Let’s Stop Scaring Ourselves” by Michael Crichton
Parade magazine, December 5, 2004.

John Piper’s end-time views are part of a long line prophetic prognostications gone wrong.

Charles Wesley Ewing, writing in 1983, paints a clear historical picture of how prophetic interpretation based on current events turns to confusion, uncertainty, and in some people unbelief when it comes to predicting an end that disappoints:

In 1934, Benito Mussolini sent his black-shirted Fascists down into defenseless Ethiopia and preachers all over the country got up in their pulpits and preached spellbinding sermons that had their congregations bulging at the eyes in astonishment about “Mussolini, the Anti-Christ,” and to prove their point they quoted from Daniel 11:43, which says, ‘And the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.’ Later, Benito, whimpering, was [shot and later] hung by his own countrymen, and preachers all over America had to toss their sermons into the scrap basket as unscriptural. [2]

Ewing goes on to mention how Hitler’s storm troopers took Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, North Africa, and set up concentration camps where millions of Jews were killed in what has become the modern-day definition of “holocaust.” Once again, preachers ascended their pulpits and linked these events to Bible prophecy and assured the church-going public that Hitler was the antichrist and the rapture was just around the next bend. When the allies routed the Nazis and drove them out, sermons were once again tossed out or filed away to be revised at some future date hoping people’s memories would fade.

The next end-time-antichrist candidate was Joseph Stalin, the leader of godless Communism, a movement hell-bent on conquering the world. “But on March 5, 1953, Stalin had a brain hemorrhage and preachers all over America had to make another trip to the waste basket.” [3]

The Coronavirus is real and deadly for many people like other viruses throughout history. But it is not the plague (that killed tens of millions) or the Spanish Flu or even the Hong Kong Flu that killed more than a million people in 1968 and 1969 or any natural disaster or cosmic signs like “Blood Moons.”

The Coronavirus is one among numerous diseases that affect us. I agree with John Piper that the Coronavirus is a wake-up call for people who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because the next eschatological event in our life will be our death, if not from a virus, it will be from something else.

We will not get out of this world alive, “inasmuch it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

  1. Michael Crichton, “Earthquakes: Fear and Complexity” (San Francisco, CA: The Independent Institute, November 15, 2005.[]
  2. Charles Wesley Ewing, “The Comedy of Errors,” The Kingdom Digest (July 1983), 45.[]
  3. Ewing, “The Comedy of Errors,” 45–46.[]

More than Just Conservative (2)

The Judeo-Christian and constitutionally mandated relationship between government power and individual liberty is not balance. It is bias – a bias in favour of liberty. All presumptions should favour the natural rights of individuals, not the delegated and seized powers of the government. Individual liberty, not government power, is the default position because persons are immortal and created in God’s image, and governments are temporary and based on force.[1]

For as long as I can remember, Christians in Australia have tended to vote for conservative political parties. There is nothing wrong with that, because the conservative parties have generally been somewhat closer to the scriptures in their policies, than the Labor Party.

But we have to be much more than merely conservative. Why?

Biblical law provides us with God’s law, and Jesus Christ in the New Testament never annulled or abolished it. In fact, He said

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Mat.5:17-18).

God’s law is not a law based on pragmatism or expediency, but is the law of our Creator, given to Moses in 1,500 BC. We must work towards the implementation of the law of God, beginning in the church, but also in the social and political sphere. This might take a while-maybe generations.[2]

How would that work out? It’s easy.

Think of education. What if State education was steadily abandoned in Australia, and parents once again took the responsibility for educating their children? That would be in accordance with the Bible (see Deut.6). That would mean the sale of public schools to the highest bidder, the elimination of public funding for all forms of education, the elimination of seven government departments nationwide, the removal of hundreds of thousands of publicly funded teachers and public servants from the public payroll, with a saving to the taxpayer of many billions annually.

Public education today costs the taxpayer $15,000 per child, per year. Not any more.

Universities? Funded only by students.  You want tertiary education? OK, but you pay for it.

Think of health. This is a personal and family responsibility, according to the Bible. What if every public hospital in Australia was sold to the private sector, so there was competition for patients?

Need some other kind of medical help? No problem. Go to the professional you wish to see and pay for their assistance, as we always used to do. All of a sudden, the competition/profit factor would be re-introduced to health, the level of service would rise as providers of various kinds competed for patients in a free market, and the cost to the taxpayer plummeted.

You require a hospital visit? You’d need to pay. No Medicare, no government involvement whatsoever. No more public funding for abortion. Abortion would become a capital crime punishable by death, because it’s murder. We would have about 90,000 extra new Australians annually, and if their parents didn’t want them, changed adoption laws would make adoption actually simple and easy. (There are thousands of Australian couples who cannot have children, but would love to adopt).

What about welfare? Once again, a personal, family and Church responsibility, according to the scripture. So, we would need to work towards the progressive elimination of all of Social Security: Family Payments, Baby Bonuses, the dole, and other methods of government social manipulation. Costs would fall, savings would rise, and the result of the savings in these three areas would be massive tax cuts, nationwide. The nation would hardly know itself.

There’s more, a lot more. What about the progressive elimination of the standing army? We would no longer have thousands of fit, able men who are paid by the tax-payer to go on exercises, or sit around polishing their boots and machine-guns, along with all the other expenses, like low-cost housing, and all the other add-ons that cost tax-payers millions. Furthermore, standing armies have a long history of being used by governments as instruments of oppression against “dissidents.”

Forget that. Replace that system with a militia based on volunteers, who work like everyone else in the community, but are armed to the teeth with their own weaponry. (That’s what the Swiss have, and nations don’t tangle with them, for obvious reasons).

In terms of immigration the Bible says that

you shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt (Ex.23:9).

Why not let anyone come here that wants to with no waiting time, subject to infectious disease checks and their willingness to make a Trinitarian confession? Oh, and they can bring Granny, too.

Eliminate the Reserve Bank to prevent the manipulation of interest rates, and ensure that for every dollar banks lend, they have a dollar in the bank. Remove ties between government and banks: no more “to big to fail.” They’re on their own.

What about we also get rid of the ABC? That would save the taxpayer $2 billion a year. The sale of the land, buildings and assets would add more.

Why would we do that? Well, no nation ever needs a taxpayer funded broadcaster, which is a recipe for inefficiency, not to speak of political manipulation. Broadcasters should compete in the free market. That way they stay efficient and very close to the market, or goes broke: simple as that.

What about we progressively close other government departments, and sack the bureaucrats? Don’t need ‘em anymore. Oh, and there’s more. Privatise the railways, selling the land. No more public transport. All of this pushes assets right back into the private sphere, taking the burden off taxpayers. And no more public funding of political parties.

Tax rates are really plummeting now, rushing back towards 10%, flat. Now, we’re really talking!

Before any of this could happen, I freely acknowledge that there will have to be a social revolution. Not one with guns and violence, but an ideological, intellectual and spiritual revolution, that would have to have its powerful beginnings in the Church. The Church will have to get re-acquainted with the law of God, and be ready to obey it. That’s what we’re here for: bringing the leaven of the kingdom of God into the community.

Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy (Hab.3:2).

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                              I want to be more than a conservative, because the Bible is much more than conservative. It’s a book for free people.

Do you want to be free? You’ll need to read the Bible, and obey it. There has never been a document in human history that has brought about such freedom, when people have obeyed it. But freedom always pre-supposes responsibility and obedience to God.

Is this a foolish fantasy? Only if you don’t believe what God said to Joshua:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).

 

 

[1] Andrew Napolitano, “Where is the Outrage?” Lew Rockwell’s website, 7/6/2012.

[2] See Gary North’s commentary on Exodus: “Authority and Dominion” (6 volumes), 2012.

‘Biblical Scholar’ Claims Virus is a Sign of the End

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“A biblical scholar said the new coronavirus outbreak is a precursor to End Times prophecies, warning that the pandemic is a ‘very serious foreshadowing’ of what’s to come.”
What’s worse? The government of “experts” who have locked down our nation because of a virus or “a biblical scholar” who is misinterpreting the Bible and misleading people on the end times?

They are both bad, but misreading the Bible is worse since it is authoritative. And what makes it so bad is that there is a nearly a two-millennia track record of similar claims that have turned out to be wrong. Here’s the argument:

In an interview with The Christian Post, Mark Hitchcock, author of over 30 books related to biblical End Times prophecies, said Scripture is clear that “there will be plagues in the End Times.” He cited Luke 21:11Revelation 6:8, and the prophecy of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, where the fourth rider kills one-fourth of the Earth’s population with pestilence and the “wild beasts of the earth.”

“In fact, Scripture tells us these plagues will kill 25% of the people in the world. It’s literally going to be biblical proportions,” the Dallas Theological Seminary professor said.

These types of wild predictions never seem to stop. I have a library full of books making similar claims going back centuries.

Doomsday Déjà Vu

There has been a large appetite for end-time books in the modern era—from Oswald J. Smith (1889–1986), who in 1926 predicted that Mussolini was the biblical antichrist,14 to Edgar Whisenant who was emphatic that the rapture would take place in 1988. Doomsday Déjà Vu is a short history of prophetic speculation going back generations, and it’s FREE!

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As I mentioned in a previous article, pestilences and plagues are not unusual. They can be found in the Old Testament, secular history, and the era leading up to Jerusalem’s judgment in AD 70. For example, the Roman historian Suetonius wrote that there was such a “pestilence” at Rome during the reign of Nero that “within the space of one autumn there died no less than thirty thousand persons, as appeared from the registers in the temple of Libitina.” [1] This description fits the context of what Jesus said would happen to that generation.

If the Olivet Discourse is describing events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem that took place within a generation (Matt. 24:34Mark 13:29Luke 21:32), then Revelation must be given a similar interpretation since it is parallel to Revelation 6. James M. Hamilton, Jr., a premillennialist, writes that “the opening of the seals in Revelation 6 corresponds to what Jesus describes in the Olivet Discourse in the Synoptic Gospels.” [2] I agree. See my books Is Jesus Coming Soon?, Last Days Madness, and Wars and Rumors of Wars.

The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation

The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation explains that the doctrine of the rapture does not have biblical support. There is no Bible passage that states the church will be taken to heaven before, during, or after a seven-year period.

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In Revelation 6:13­–14, we read, “the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”

If this is a description of physical stars, there would be an immediate end to the earth, and yet we find the earth is still intact in Revelation 8:10 where “a great star fell from heaven.” If one star hit the earth, the earth would be vaporized in an instant. In fact, if a star like our sun gets close to earth, the earth would burn up before it hit. How could the earth survive if a “third of the stars of heaven” had been thrown down to the earth (Rev. 12:4)?

Jesus is using language that was understood by the people of His day. The Hebrew Scriptures are filled with similar symbolic “sign” (Rev. 1:1) language. There is dramatic end-of-the-world language in Zephaniah that is directed at Jerusalem and Israel (Zeph. 1), a local judgment described using de-creation language.

John Lightfoot makes the point that seemingly end-of-the-world language is a common feature in the Bible and most often points to the end of the social, religious, and political status of a nation:

The opening of the sixth Seal [in Rev. 6:12–13] shows the destruction itself in those borrowed terms that the Scripture uses to express it by, namely as if it were the destruction of the whole world: as Matt. 24:29–30. The Sun darkened, the Stars falling, the Heaven departing and the Earth dissolved, and that conclusion [of] ver. 16 [in Rev. 6]. They shall say to the rocks fall on us, &c. doth not only warrant, but even enforce us to understand and construe these things in the sense that we do: for Christ applies these very words to the very same thing (Luke 23:30). And here is another, and, to me, a very satisfactory reason, why to place the showing of these visions to John, and his writing of this Book [of Revelation] before the desolation of Jerusalem. [3]

When was this judgment that included plagues to take place as Luke states (21:11)? Jesus had His present audience in view as He made His way to the cross:

Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed” [Matt. 24:19Luke 21:23]. Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, “FALL ON US,” AND TO THE HILLS, “COVER US” [Isa. 2:19–20Hos. 10:8Rev. 6:16] For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:28–31).

When was the tree dry? Jesus identified Israel’s leadership as a fruitless tree (Matt. 21:18–2224:32) that would need to be cut down if it did not bear fruit (Luke 13:8–9). These religious representatives of that generation chose Caesar over Jesus (John 19:15). Peter described that generation as “this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40).

Does the fact that the prophecy regarding plagues and wars are irrelevant in the Christian’s life?” Not at all. They are part of the human condition. Even though this virus is not an end-of-the-world sign or event, it should get our attention that we are mortal and almost any unforeseen event could lay us low and even kill us. Eternity for us is but a heartbeat away, “inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). There is no rapture rescue for us no matter what befalls our world.

Covid-19 is not a sign of some eschatological end as Mark Hitchcock claims.

So many things are happening in our world today: Israel is back in their land, the Middle East is constantly in turmoil, globalism is occurring — all of these things are signposts and point to what the Bible predicts about the soon coming of Christ. We don’t know when He’s coming; it could be today, it could be five years from now.

As a Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and an advocate of dispensationalism, Hitchcock should know that his system teaches that there are no signs preceding the “rapture of the church” since according to dispensationalism, the “rapture” is an any-moment event. It was an any-moment event 1500, 1000, 500, 250, 100 years ago when none of today’s so-called signs existed including Israel being back in their land, something the New Testament never mentions as a sign.

Prophecy speculation of the dispensational kind has changed over the years. It’s all about “signposts.” Prophecy writers have been posting these “sign posts” for nearly 2000 years. It’s long past time to stop and to get business with kingdom work.

Hitchcock mentions “the soon coming of Christ.” The New Testament makes it clear that the judgment coming of Jesus against Jerusalem was “near” or “at hand …  right at the door” (James 5:8–9) for that generation.

  1. C. Suetonius Tranquillus, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Nero, 39.[]
  2. Hamilton, An Interview with Dr. James Hamilton. For further discussion of this point, see James M. Hamilton, Jr., Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 166–167. Also, Louis A. Vos, The Synoptic Traditions in the Apocalypse (Kampen, Netherlands: J.H. Kok N. V., 1965), 181–188.[]
  3. John Lightfoot, The Whole Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot Containing “The Harmony, Chronicle and Order of the New Testament,” ed. John Rogers Pitman, 13 vols. (London: [1655] 1823), 3:337.[]

More than Just Conservative (1)

The Israelites had experienced firsthand the institutional effects of a social order governed by a law-order different from the Bible’s. They had been enslaved. The God who had released them from bondage announced at Sinai His standards of righteousness – not just private righteousness but social and institutional righteousness. Thus, the God of liberation is simultaneously the law-giver. The close association of Biblical law and human freedom is grounded in the very character of God.1

Political conservatives tend to trace their ideological history back to people like the Englishman Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who pointed out in his era, the dangers of the French Revolution. There is nothing wrong with that, but they could go a whole lot further. They could include Oliver Cromwell (who successfully defeated Charles I of England), Stephen Langton (who wrote the Magna Carta, in opposition to King John), and many others.

But the real basis of political conservatism should be traced to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. Why? Because it is here that we gain the proper understanding of the need to conserve and protect individuals and legitimate social institutions (such as the family and the Church) against the ravages of a tyrannical, humanistic state.

And it is here that the true political conservative gets his authority. The history of government has always been about the struggle between liberty and bondage, and the Bible has commonly been at the forefront of this debate. This explains why the tyrants of history have tended to be haters of the Biblical God.

People cannot truly know themselves or each other without the Bible, neither can they correctly understand anything of the human condition without the Bible. It wasn’t written by us, (though God inspired a number of human writers to put pen to paper). It was written by our Creator, Who describes us as reprobate sinners, needing a Saviour, His Son. When we come to the knowledge of this fact, we begin to understand our utter incapacity to deal with ourselves and society, outside of the God of the Bible.

When political conservatives ignore the God of the Bible and the Exodus, they lose all capacity to speak authoritatively to society. They’re just another politician. This is the tragedy of the modern era; few political leaders willing to accept the Bible as their text-book for liberty, and apply it to society. The Church hasn’t consistently applied it; why should we expect politicians to?

But this can and must change. How? By the impetus and pressure from faithful Christians within the Church, who understand the claims of Christ on every society, and that every society that ignores Christ’s commands only prepares itself for His judgment.

This means the education and instruction of Christians in the scriptures must move to a whole new level. We must consider a lot more the implications of applying the whole of scripture to the era we live in. To education, to health, to welfare, to law, to defence and foreign affairs, and economics. The Bible speaks clearly to these matters. That means we have got to get busy to find out what it means to obey Jesus Christ in realms we haven’t considered much in the past.

This is all a part of us preparing to give a good account to God. It’s all part of serving the generation we are a part of, and providing society with the leaven of the kingdom of God.

I’m a political conservative, but I believe Christians must be much more than that, just reacting to the grim excesses of the politics of the Left. What the world really needs is an articulation of the political and social implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He can bring liberty to every individual and nation of the world, but always and only on His terms.

It was God Who brought about the Exodus. When He called Moses, He said

I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their suffering (Ex.3:7).

The Bible makes it clear that every person is a slave of someone. Whose slave are you? Nations are the same. And like individuals, those nations that run from God run invariably into bo8ndage. That’s what communism brought to the Soviet Union, but the West today really isn’t too far behind; it’s just taken us a lot longer to dig ourselves into a similarly deep hole.

But let’s not dwell in this hole of our own making, a moment longer than we have to. Let’s get back into the light of God through Biblical obedience. That’s what He’s always wanted us to do.

I will walk at liberty, for I seek your precepts. I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed (Ps.119:45-46).

 

1. Gary North, “The Sinai Strategy,” 1986, p.19.