Monday, December 23, 2013

Countdown to the Cross

Events in the week leading up to the crucifixion.

Sabbath
  • Simon's Feast (John 12:1-11)
Sunday
  • Triumphal Entry (John 12:12-19)
Monday
  • Fig Tree Cursed (Mark 11:12-14)
  • Temple Cleansed (Mark 11:15-19)
Tuesday
  • Withered Fig Tree Noticed (Mark 11:20-26)
  • Confrontation in the Temple (Matthew 21:23–22:46)
  • Woes on the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23)
  • Widow's Mites (Mark 12:41-44)
  • Visit of the Greeks (John 12:20-50)
  • On the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24, 25)
Wednesday
  • No Public Appearance
Thursday
  • The Last Supper (Luke 22:7-38; John 13, 14)
  • Instruction and Prayer for His Disciples (John 15–17)
  • Gethsemane (Mark 14:26-42)
  • Arrest (John 18:2-12)
Friday
  • Trial (Matthew 26:57–27:31; Mark 14:53–15:20; Luke 22:54–23:25; John 18:13–19:16)
  • Crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-37)
  • Burial (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)
Sabbath
  • Soldiers Stationed at the Tomb (Matthew 27:62-66)
Sunday
  • Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18)
  • Walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32)
  • Appearance in the Upper Room (Luke 24:33-49)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The West in Daniel 11

Bible prophecy is history foretold. In no chapter of the Bible is more history detailed than in Daniel 11, written around 535 B.C.

There has been over the years a lot of interest in identifying the kings of the north and south in Daniel 11. But much of the chapter, though not explicitly labeled as such, actually focuses on a third compass point: the West. The spotlight of prophecy moves to the west in 64 B.C. when Syria becomes a province of Rome. And not until the time of the end does the chapter shift its attention back to the kings of the north and south.

The section on the West is reproduced below with my attempt at identifying the players. I've replaced pronouns with the names (in bold) of those most likely referenced, and I've added a few bracketed comments.


16   But Pompey, that cometh against Antiochus XIII Asiaticus, shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
17   Julius Caesar shall also set his face to enter with the strength of Alexander’s whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall Caesar do: and he shall give him the daughter of women [Cleopatra], corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.
18   After this shall Caesar turn his face unto the isles [Pontus, North Africa, and Hispania], and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.
19   Then Caesar shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
20   Then shall stand up in Caesar’s estate a raiser of taxes [Augustus] in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
21   And in Augustus’ estate shall stand up a vile person [Tiberius], to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
22   And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant [Jesus].
[This literary climax mirrors Gabriel’s earlier commentaries that culminated with “the Prince of princes” in Chapter 8 and “the Messiah the Prince” in Chapter 9. At this juncture, before continuing with the narrative, the angel backs up to give us a little more background.]
23   And after the [161 B.C. Jewish] league made with the Roman Senate, the Republic shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
24   He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and the emperor shall forecast his devices against [or from] the strong holds [Rome], even for a time [that is, one prophetic "year" of 360 prophetic "days" (literal years) extending from the decisive battle of Actium in 31 B.C. (verse 25) to the founding of Constantinople in A.D. 330 (verse 29)].
25   And Octavian shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south [Mark Antony] with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.
26   Yea, they that feed of the portion of Mark Antony’s meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
27   And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
28   Then shall Octavian return into his land with great riches; and Nero’s heart shall be against the holy covenant; and Vespasian, and his son Titus, shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
29   At the time appointed Constantine shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
30   For the ships of Chittim [suggestive of the Vandal naval attacks, a reference to the barbarian invasions as a whole, the first major blow being the Gothic victory over the Romans at Adrianople] shall come against Valens: therefore Theodosius shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant [the pure gospel]: so shall Theodosius do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with the bishops that forsake the holy covenant.
[After the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, the prophetic narrative continues with the leading western rulers.]
31   And arms shall stand on Clovis’ part, and his army shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
32   And such [the pontiffs] as do wickedly against the covenant shall Pepin, Charlemagne, and their successors corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
33   And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
34   Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
35   And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
36   And the king [Louis XIV] shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
37   Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
38   But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
39   Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Venturing Beyond Scripture

Sometimes I come across a document that expresses what I want to say better than I myself can say it. Such is the case with the article excerpt linked below in regard to the subject of hermeneutics. Written by Edwin E. Reynolds and Clinton Wahlen in the "Minority Report" of the NAD Theology of Ordination Study Committee Report, November 2013, this section addresses an underlying reason for conflicting opinions in the church in regard to belief and practice. The implications of this fundamental difference in approaching Scripture extend beyond the limited context of ordination addressed in the larger document. I've taken the liberty to highlight portions of the text for emphasis. I cannot express how important this matter is, and how a failure to understand it leaves us susceptible to many a deceptive error.

Differing Approaches to Biblical Interpretation

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Date of the Crucifixion

To determine the date of Christ's crucifixion, we need to find a Passover Day that fell on a Friday, and we'd like it to be in the year AD 31 because that is the year indicated by the seventy-week prophecy of Daniel 9. (For information on the seventy-week prophecy, see on the 2300 days.)

Passover was always on the 14th day of Nisan, also known as Abib, the first month of the Jewish religious calendar. The months always began with the first sighting of a crescent moon following the new moon. (I'm using the term "new moon" to refer to when the moon was first unable to be seen.) According to astronomical records, there was a new moon on March 12 (our calendar) in the year AD 31, and the full moon came on March 27. Depending on when the crescent was first observed, the 14th day of the Jewish month would have landed sometime around March 28. I don't think we could stretch it to Friday the 30th. So this month doesn't seem to fit what we're looking for. Furthermore, it is doubtful that Passover in those days was ever observed that early in the year. They needed ripe barley for the wave sheaf offering, and according to the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, barley is not usually ripe in Israel until later in April. So it looks like this month wouldn't qualify as the first month of the year anyway. They often had to add a thirteenth month to keep the calendar lined up correctly with the seasons.



The next new moon fell on April 10 of that year. If the new crescent was first observed in the evening of what we call April 13, the first day of Nisan would have been counted from sunset on April 13 until sunset on April 14 of our Gregorian calendar. The fourteenth day of that first month, Passover Day, would have been celebrated from sundown on Thursday, April 26, until sundown on Friday, April 27. That makes Friday, April 27, AD 31, the most likely date for Jesus' crucifixion. And Sunday, April 29, would have been the day of His resurrection.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tests of Fellowship

"The Lord does not require that any tests of human inventions shall be brought in to divert the minds of the people or create controversy in any line." GCB January 1, 1900 par. 11

"Very many will get up some test that is not given in the word of God. We have our test in the Bible, – the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 'Here are they that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.' This is the true test." GCB April 16, 1901 par. 8


"Do not present theories or tests that Christ has never mentioned and that have no foundation in the Bible. We have grand, solemn truths to present. 'It is written' is the test that must be brought home to every soul." CCh 327


"Satan will lead men to manufacture false tests, and thus seek to obscure the value of, and make of none effect, the message of truth. The commandment of God that has been almost universally made void, is the testing truth for this time.... But all man-made tests will divert the mind from the great and important doctrines that constitute present truth." Ev 212


"Some had been bringing in false tests, and had made their own ideas and notions a criterion, magnifying matters of little importance into tests of Christian fellowship, and binding heavy burdens upon others." Ev 215


"In the commission to His disciples, Christ not only outlined their work, but gave them their message. Teach the people, He said, ‘to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’ The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man’s theories and conclusions, or for church legislation. No laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority are included in the commission. None of these are Christ’s servants to teach.” DA 826

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jesus Knows

"Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul. You may say, I am sinful, very sinful. You may be; but the worse you are, the more you need Jesus. He turns no weeping, contrite one away. He does not tell to any all that He might reveal, but He bids every trembling soul take courage. Freely will He pardon all who come to Him for forgiveness and restoration.

"Christ might commission the angels of heaven to pour out the vials of His wrath on our world, to destroy those who are filled with hatred of God. He might wipe this dark spot from His universe. But He does not do this. He is today standing at the altar of incense, presenting before God the prayers of those who desire His help."

The Desire of Ages, p. 568

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Justinian's Imperial Letter, June 6, 533

"The Emperor Justinian, Victorious, Pious, Happy, Renowned, Triumphant, always Augustus, to John, Patriarch, and most Holy Archbishop of the fair City of Rome:

"With honor to the Apostolic See, and to Your Holiness, which is, and always has been remembered in Our prayers, both now and formerly, and honoring your happiness, as is proper in the case of one who is considered as a father. We hasten to bring to the knowledge of Your Holiness everything relating to the condition of the Church, as We have always had the greatest desire to preserve the unity of your Apostolic See, and the condition of the Holy Churches of God, as they exist at the present time, that they may remain without disturbance or opposition. Therefore, We have exerted Ourselves to unite all the priests of the East and subject them to the See of Your Holiness, and hence the questions which have at present arisen, although they are manifest and free from doubt, and, according to the doctrine of your Apostolic See, are constantly firmly observed and preached by all priests. We have still considered it necessary that they should be brought to the attention of Your Holiness. For we do not suffer anything which has reference to the state of the Church, even though what causes the difficulty may be clear and free from doubt, to be discussed without being brought to the notice of Your Holiness, because you are the head of all the Holy Churches, for We shall exert Ourselves in every way (as has already been stated), to increase the honor and authority of your See."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

2300 Days

Here's a chart of the time prophecy of Daniel 8:14 as it is explained in Daniel 9:21-27. The key to understanding the prophetic time periods in Daniel and Revelation is that one prophetic "day" represents a full year of actual time.


Friday, September 20, 2013

True Education

"Now, as never before, we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this, we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God." E. G. White, Christian Educator, August 1, 1897

Because of the importance of understanding true education, and because of the wealth of material we have on the subject, I have started a separate blog devoted exclusively to it. You'll find my True Education blog at educateforeternity.blogspot.com.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Michael the Archangel

Michael is mentioned five times in the Bible. Here is an excellent summary of what we learn from those five references:

What the Bible Says About Michael

No created being could fit the Bible's description. The name Michael is an unmistakable reference to the divine Son of God.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Wedding Ring

"Some have had a burden in regard to the wearing of a marriage ring, feeling that the wives of our ministers should conform to this custom. All this is unnecessary. Let the ministers' wives have the golden link which binds their souls to Jesus Christ, a pure and holy character, the true love and meekness and godliness that are the fruit borne upon the Christian tree, and their influence will be secure anywhere. The fact that a disregard of the custom occasions remark is no good reason for adopting it. Americans can make their position understood by plainly stating that the custom is not regarded as obligatory in our country. We need not wear the sign, for we are not untrue to our marriage vow, and the wearing of the ring would be no evidence that we were true. I feel deeply over this leavening process which seems to be going on among us, in the conformity to custom and fashion. Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married. In countries where the custom is imperative, we have no burden to condemn those who have their marriage ring; let them wear it if they can do so conscientiously; but let not our missionaries feel that the wearing of the ring will increase their influence one jot or tittle. If they are Christians, it will be manifest in their Christlikeness of character, in their words, in their works, in the home, in association with others; it will be evinced by their patience and long-suffering and kindliness. They will manifest the spirit of the Master, they will possess His beauty of character, His loveliness of disposition, His sympathetic heart."

Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 180, 181

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The 1290 and 1335 Days

Daniel 12 contains three prophetic time periods:  3 1/2 times (or 1260 days), 1290 days, and 1335 days. In this post I will not explain the 1260 days. We will focus only on the other two time periods. Everything here is based on the premise that the 1260 days extended from AD 538 to 1798. We also assume that one prophetic day equals one literal year.

To find the starting date for the 1290 days we begin with the observation that two answers are given for a single question asked in Daniel 12:6.

Question:  "How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" (verse 6)

Answer #1:  "It shall be for a time, times, and an half." (verse 7)

Answer #2:  "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." (verse 11)

Because both answers address the same question, both periods mentioned must have the same ending point, which the text refers to as "the end of these wonders." From that ending point it is easy to count back 1290 years. That tells us that the 1290-day prophecy began in the year 508. Now what about the 1335 days?

It is clear from the text that the 1290 days and the 1335 days have the same starting point.

"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days." Daniel 12:11, 12.

Notice that when the 1290 days ended, one must still "wait" until the end of the 1335. Both prophecies are dated "from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away and the abomination that maketh desolate set up." So we simply add 1335 years to their common starting point, and we find that the 1335-day prophecy ends in the year 1843. At that time Daniel would stand in his lot (verse 13).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Letter 51a

September 11, 1874

We are forming characters for heaven. No character can be complete without trial and suffering. We must be tested, we must be tried. Christ bore the test of character in our behalf that we might bear this test in our own behalf through the divine strength He has brought to us. Christ is our example in patience, in forbearance, in meekness and lowliness of mind. He was at variance and at war with the whole ungodly world, yet He did not give way to passion and violence manifested in words and actions, although receiving shameful abuse in return for good works. He was afflicted, He was rejected and despitefully treated, yet He retaliated not. He possessed self-control, dignity, and majesty. He suffered with calmness and for abuse gave only compassion, pity, and love. 

Imitate your Redeemer in these things. Do not get excited when things go wrong. Do not let self arise, and lose your self-control because you fancy things are not as they should be. Because others are wrong is no excuse for you to do wrong. Two wrongs will not make one right. You have victories to gain in order to overcome as Christ overcame.

Christ never murmured, never uttered discontent, displeasure, or resentment. He was never disheartened, discouraged, ruffled, or fretted. He was patient, calm, and self-possessed under the most exciting and trying circumstances. All His works were performed with a quiet dignity and ease, whatever commotion was around Him. Applause did not elate Him. He feared not the threats of His enemies. He moved amid the world of excitement, of violence and crime, as the sun moves above the clouds. Human passions and commotions and trials were beneath Him. He sailed like the sun above them all. Yet He was not indifferent to the woes of men. His heart was ever touched with the sufferings and necessities of His brethren, as though He Himself was the one afflicted. He had a calm inward joy, a peace which was serene. His will was ever swallowed up in the will of His Father. Not My will but Thine be done, was heard from His pale and quivering lips.

We long and pray that the grace of God may come into your hearts. We want you to make an entire surrender to God. . . . May God help you all to walk humbly and carefully is our prayer.

–Letter 51a, 1874, pp. 2, 3, 4.
(To "Dear Children, Edson and Emma White," September 11, 1874.)
3MR 427, 428 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The 400-Year Prophecy and the Fourth Generation

Question:  How long were the children of Israel in Egypt?

Answer:  215 years

To come up with that answer we have to do a few calculations. Let's start with the prophecy given to Abraham:

"And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." Genesis 15:13-16

Two measurements are given:  four hundred years, and four generations.

Before we look at the four-hundred-year prophecy, we notice that Israel's sojourn in Egypt was to last for four generations. We can confirm that that turned out to be the case. Levi and Judah represent the generation that went into Egypt. Moses and Caleb represent the generation that left Egypt.

Exodus 6:16-20
1. Levi
2. Kohath
3. Amram
4. Moses
     1 Chronicles 2:3-5, 18
1. Judah
2. Pharez
3. Hezron
4. Caleb

So what about the 400-year prophecy? Stephen confirmed the accuracy of that time measurement in Acts 7:17. "But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt." Stephen didn't leave us to guess what that time period was that God had promised Abraham. "And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years." Acts 7:6

In order to reconcile all these statements, we need to isolate the main points:

1. Abraham's seed were to sojourn in a strange land for four generations.
2. Abraham's seed were to be afflicted and treated evil for 400 years.

Examples of Abraham's seed being treated evil may be found in Genesis 27:41; 31:7; 37:28; 39:20; and Exodus 1:11. The first instance of Abraham's seed being mistreated was when Isaac was mocked by Ishmael in Genesis 21:9. Paul described it as persecution in Galatians 4:29. From that event we may count the predicted 400 years to Israel's deliverance from Egypt.

Another inspired reckoning of this period is given in Exodus 12:40, 41. "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt."

Paul clarified that the 430 years began with God's promise to Abraham. "And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect." Galatians 3:17

So the law was given 430 years after God's promise was made to Abraham. The law, of course was given on Mt. Sinai at the time of the Exodus. Abraham received God's promise when he was 75 years old in Genesis 12:1-5. From that time we can reckon 430 years to the Exodus.

Starting from God's promise to Abraham we may count 25 years to Isaac's birth (Genesis 21:5), then sixty years to Jacob's birth (Genesis 25:26), then 130 more years to the time when Jacob's family moved to Egypt (Genesis 47:9). That adds up to 215 years from Abraham's entrance into Canaan until his descendants moved to Egypt. Of the 430 total years, that leaves 215 remaining years as the amount of time the Israelites actually spent in Egypt. That fits well with the time span of four generations.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Contemplating the Life of Jesus

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18.

"It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ." The Desire of Ages, p. 83.

You may have at one time seen in an old academy Bible textbook a summary of Jesus' character traits based on statements from The Desire of Ages. What a blessing that has been to me over the years! I'm now providing a link to that file so we can all think on these things:

The Character of Christ

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Prophetic Time Periods of Revelation 9

The fifth trumpet actually has two different 150-year time prophecies.

The first one is mentioned in Revelation 9:5 and extends from when Mohammed announced his prophetic mission in Arabia until the Islamic headquarters were moved to Baghdad, outside Roman territory, bringing a reprieve to the Christian empire.

The second 150-year period is mentioned in Revelation 9:10 and goes from when Osman I (or Othman I) first invaded the territory of Nicomedia until the year in which the Byzantine emperor could rule only by permission of the Turkish sultan.

The sixth trumpet extended from that point in time until the Sultan finally acknowledged his dependence upon the European powers, 391 years later.



Friday, July 12, 2013

Why Jesus Came to Earth

"He shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29

"He was manifested to take away our sins." 1 John 3:5

"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Titus 2:14

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." 1 Peter 2:24

"Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Acts 3:26

"He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." 2 Corinthians 5:15

"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification." 1 Thessalonians 4:3

"That we might be partakers of his holiness." Hebrews 12:10

"The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God." Ed 125

"The very essence of the gospel is restoration." GW 213

"Those who believe in Jesus Christ are changed from being rebels against the law of God into obedient servants and subjects of His kingdom." FE 332

"God has expended amazing sacrifices upon men, and mighty energies for the reclaiming of man from transgression and sin to loyalty and obedience." YSRP 168

"Christ came to mediate between God and man, to make man one with God by bringing him into allegiance to His law." 1SM 229

"Christ came in human form to show . . . that ample provision has been made to enable human beings to live in loyalty to their Creator." Signs of the Times, August 2, 1905

"God has made provision through the death of His beloved Son, that every soul may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work." YSRP 152

"God loved the world so dearly that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would accept Him might have power to live His righteous life." 1SM 223

"Through the plan of salvation, Jesus is breaking Satan's hold upon the human family and rescuing souls from his power." PK 586

"The work of Christ was to take from the claims of Satan his control of man." MS 1, 1892

"Christ desires nothing so much as to redeem His heritage from the dominion of Satan." COL 174

"The Redeemer of the world came from heaven to help man in his weakness, that, in the power which Jesus came to bring him, he might become strong to overcome appetite and passion, and might be victor on every point." 3T 488

"Jesus came to bring moral power to combine with human effort." 1SM 262

"Jesus in the synagogue spoke of the kingdom He had come to establish, and of His mission to set free the captives of Satan." DA 255

"To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized - this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life." Ed 15, 16

"The burden of disease and wretchedness and sin He came to remove. It was His mission to bring to men complete restoration; He came to give them health and peace and perfection of character." MH 17

"'Be ye therefore perfect' (Matt. 5:48) is God's word to us. And in order that we might obey this word, He sent His only-begotten Son to this earth." IHP 166

"Christ came to make us 'partakers of the divine nature,' and His life declares that humanity, combined with divinity, does not commit sin." MH 180

"Jesus came to our world to bring divine power to man, that through His grace we might be transformed into His likeness." TMK 229

"Christ gave His own life that men and women might be lifted above the cheap, common, perishable things of this world, to the life which measures with the life of God." RH 11-6-1900

"He came to our world to give us an example of how we should work, and what spirit we should bring into our labor." COL 331

"It was in our behalf that Christ came to this world to make known the will of His Father, and to show human beings what they must become before they can stand before God in the heavenly courts." UL 341

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Give Bible Readings


I was delighted to discover that this book is now available as a free PDF download. Prepared by the General Conference as a textbook for personal evangelism classes, it served for many years as the standard training manual for Bible work.

View and Download

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Revelation Chiasm

The book of Revelation is introduced in its first verse as "the revelation of Jesus Christ." It tells the behind-the-scenes story of Jesus' heavenly ministry throughout Christian history. In the context of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, His work involves redemptive, judicial, and confrontational aspects. The book of Revelation covers each aspect and in fact is structured according to these three facets of Jesus' work. Here is Revelation's seven-part structure, outlining the three features of Jesus' heavenly ministry:

1. Redemptive (3 chapters)
    2. Judicial (4 chapters)
        3. Confrontational (4 chapters)
            4. Synopsis (1 chapter)
        5. Confrontational (4 chapters)
    6. Judicial (2 1/2 chapters)
7. Redemptive (3 1/2 chapters)

Notice the mirror relationship of the two halves of the book. This thematic structure is called a chiasm. Here's how the 22 chapters of Revelation are laid out. For more detail, see patmospapers.com.


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Seven Miracles in the Gospel of John

A decade ago, when I was working on the chiasm in Revelation, someone suggested to me that there might be a chiasm in the gospel of John. After a little investigation I found one, and as in the book of Revelation, it has helped me see some thematic emphasis in the book.

I found that John records only seven of Jesus' miracles. Since Revelation is full of sevens, and Revelation's chiasm has seven sections, it makes sense that John structured his gospel around the seven miracles of Jesus that he records.


Six of the seven miracles are recorded exclusively by John. The other three gospel writers don't mention them. But the central miracle in John's gospel, the feeding of the five thousand, is the only miracle recorded by all four gospel writers.

John tells us two reasons for his gospel in John 20:30, 31.

Here's a brief look at these seven miracles, and their chiastic relationships:






The lessons that Jesus gives in the narrative that follows each miracle, provides the thematic structure of the book.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Important Is It to Know the Truth?

"Our salvation depends on a knowledge of the truth contained in the Scriptures." COL 111

"I saw that the saints must have a thorough understanding of present truth, which they will be obliged to maintain from the Scriptures." EW 262

"All who join the ranks of Sabbath-keepers should become diligent Bible students, that they may know the pillars and ground work of the truth. . . . With what care should everyone come to the study of the Scriptures! With what determination to know all that it is possible for him to know of the reasons of every point of the faith." 10MR 171

"We should exert all the power of the mind in the study of the Scriptures and should task the understanding to comprehend, as far as mortals can, the deep things of God." GC 599

"They need to go deeper and deeper into the study of the things of God." RH April 15, 1915

"We do not go deep enough in our search for truth. Every soul who believes present truth will be brought where he will be required to give a reason of the hope that is in him. The people of God will be called upon to stand before kings, princes, rulers, and great men of the earth, and they must know that they do know what is truth. They must be converted men and women." TM 119

"Our people have been regarded as too insignificant to be worthy of notice, but a change will come. The Christian world is now making movements which will necessarily bring commandment-keeping people into prominence. . . . Every soul will be tested. . . . Every position of our faith will be searched into; and if we are not thorough Bible students, established, strengthened, and settled, the wisdom of the world's great men will lead us astray." 5T 546

"This light should lead us to a diligent study of the Scriptures and a most critical examination of the positions which we hold. God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting. Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill-defined ideas of what constitutes truth. Their faith must be firmly founded upon the word of God so that when the testing time shall come and they are brought before councils to answer for their faith they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear." 5T 707, 708

"But there must be earnest study and close investigation. Sharp, clear perceptions of truth will never be the reward of indolence. . . . It is essential for old and young, not only to read God's word, but to study it with wholehearted earnestness, praying and searching for truth as for hidden treasure." COL 111

Friday, April 12, 2013

Having Ears to Hear

On more than one occasion Jesus said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35). And in His letter to each of Revelation's seven churches Jesus said, "He that hath an ear, let him hear" (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). And once again in Revelation 13:9 we find the words, "If any man have an ear, let him hear."

Of the Bereans we are told, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).

"If there is a point of truth that you do not understand, upon which you do not agree, investigate, compare scripture with scripture, sink the shaft of truth down deep into the mine of God's Word. You must lay yourselves and your opinions on the altar of God, put away your preconceived ideas, and let the Spirit of Heaven guide you into all truth." Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 413.

"There are many among us who are prejudiced against the doctrines that are now being discussed. They will not come to hear, they will not calmly investigate, but they put forth their objections in the dark. They are perfectly satisfied with their position." Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 413.

"As a people we are called individually to be students of prophecy. We must watch with earnestness that we may discern any ray of light which God shall present to us. We are to catch the first gleamings of truth; and through prayerful study clearer light may be obtained, which can be brought before others.

"When God's people are at ease and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favor them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward to receive the increased and ever-increasing light which is shining for them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light. We are living at a time when Satan is at work on the right hand and on the left, before and behind us; and yet as a people we are asleep. God wills that a voice shall be heard arousing His people to action." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 708, 709.

"But as real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received from God's word, and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative, and seek to avoid discussion." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 706, 707.

"They have felt that investigation should not be permitted, that it would tend to dissension and disunion. But if such is to be the result of investigation, the sooner it comes the better. If there are those whose faith in God's word will not stand the test of an investigation of the Scriptures, the sooner they are revealed the better; for then the way will be opened to show them their error." Testimonies to Ministers, p. 105.

"Our brethren should be willing to investigate in a candid way every point of controversy. If a brother is teaching error, those who are in responsible positions ought to know it; and if he is teaching truth, they ought to take their stand at his side. We should all know what is being taught among us; for if it is truth, we need it. We are under obligation to God to know what He sends us. He has given directions by which we may test every doctrine,–'To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.' If the light presented meets this test, we are not to refuse to accept it because it does not agree with our ideas." Gospel Workers, pp. 300, 301.

"When a message is presented to God's people, they should not rise up in opposition to it; they should go to the Bible, comparing it with the law and the testimony, and if it does not bear this test, it is not true. God wants our minds to expand. He desires to put His grace upon us. We may have a feast of good things every day; for God can open the whole treasure of heaven to us." Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 416.

"No matter by whom light is sent, we should open our hearts to receive it with the meekness of Christ. But many do not do this. When a controverted point is presented, they pour in question after question, without admitting a point when it is well sustained. O, may we act as men who want light!" Gospel Workers, p. 301.

"The truth will be criticized, scorned, and derided; but the closer it is examined and tested, the brighter it will shine." Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 201.

"The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions." The Great Controversy, p. 607.

"When a brother receives new light upon the Scriptures, he should frankly explain his position, and every minister should search the Scriptures with the spirit of candor, to see if the points presented can be substantiated by the Inspired Word." Gospel Workers, p. 303.

"We are on dangerous ground when we cannot meet together like Christians, and courteously examine controverted points. I feel like fleeing from the place lest I receive the mold of those who cannot candidly investigate the doctrines of the Bible. Those who cannot impartially examine the evidences of a position that differs from theirs, are not fit to teach in any department of God's cause." Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 411.

"The rebuke of the Lord will rest upon those who would bar the way, that clearer light shall not come to the people. . . . Let no one run the risk of interposing between the people and the message of Heaven. This message will go to the people; and if there were no voice among men to give it, the very stones would cry out." Gospel Workers, p. 304.

"In 1844, when anything came to our attention that we did not understand, we kneeled down and asked God to help us take the right position; and then we were able to come to a right understanding and see eye to eye. There was no dissension, no enmity, no evil-surmising, no misjudging of our brethren. If we but knew the evil of the spirit of intolerance, how carefully would we shun it!" Gospel Workers, p. 302.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Essential Christian Confession of Faith

What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? Matthew 22:42
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15

Q. To what did John the Baptist bear record? John 1:34
A. “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
Q. What did Nathanael confess? John 1:49
A. “Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.”
Q. What was Peter's great confession? Matthew 16:16
A. “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Q. What did all the disciples assert? Matthew 14:33; John 6:69
A. “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God."
A. “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."
Q. What was Martha's testimony? John 11:27
A. “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”
Q. What did God Himself declare? 2 Peter 1:17
A. “For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Q. What truth did Satan challenge? Luke 4:3, 9
A. “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.”
A. “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.”
Q. Why did the Jews condemn Jesus? John 19:7; John 10:36
A. “The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”
A. “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”
Q. What was the issue at His trial? Luke 22:70
A. “Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God?”
Q. What doubt was hurled at Christ on the cross? Matthew 27:40
A. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
Q. What did the Centurion confess? Matthew 27:54
A. “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
Q. What does Christ's resurrection declare about Him? Romans 1:4
A. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
Q. What truth did the Ethiopian eunuch believe? Acts 8:37
A. “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Q. What was Paul's message? Acts 9:20
A. “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
Q. What was the burden of John's gospel? John 20:31
A. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Q. Who can overcome the world? 1 John 5:5
A. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Q. What question is left for us? John 9:35
A. “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mystical Interpretation

"The truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and darkness by learned men, who, with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed. These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that Jesus declared: 'Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.' Mark 12:24." GC 598, 599

"No one is to put truth to the torture by cheap imaginings, by putting a forced, mystical construction upon the Word. Thus they are in danger of turning the truth of God into a lie." Letter 207, 1899

"It was His design that His disciples should take the plain, unadulterated truth for the guide of their life. They were not to add to His words, or give a forced meaning to His utterances. They were not to put a mystical interpretation upon the plain teaching of the Scriptures, and draw from theological stores to build up some man-made theory. It was through putting a mystical meaning upon the plain words of God, that sacred and vital truths were made of little significance, while the theories of men were made prominent. It was in this way that men were led to teach for doctrines the commandments of men, and that they rejected the commandment of God, that they might keep their own tradition." 5BC 1089

"The leaders of Israel professed to be the expositors of God's word, but they had studied it only to sustain their traditions, and enforce their man-made observances. By their interpretation they made it express sentiments that God had never given. Their mystical construction made indistinct that which He had made plain. They disputed over insignificant technicalities, and practically denied the most essential truths. Thus infidelity was sown broadcast. God's word was robbed of its power, and evil spirits worked their will." DA 257

"History is repeating. With the open Bible before them, and professing to reverence its teachings, many of the religious leaders of our time are destroying faith in it as the word of God. They busy themselves with dissecting the word, and set their own opinions above its plainest statements. In their hands God's word loses its regenerating power. This is why infidelity runs riot, and iniquity is rife." DA  258

"It was his [Lucifer's] policy to perplex with subtle arguments concerning the purposes of God. Everything that was simple he shrouded in mystery, and by artful perversion cast doubt upon the plainest statements of Jehovah." PP 41

"In the days of Christ the rabbis put a forced, mystical construction upon many portions of Scripture. Because the plain teaching of God's word condemned their practices, they tried to destroy its force. The same thing is done today. The word of God is made to appear mysterious and obscure in order to excuse transgression of His law. Christ rebuked these practices in His day. He taught that the word of God was to be understood by all. He pointed to the Scriptures as of unquestionable authority, and we should do the same. The Bible is to be presented as the word of the infinite God, as the end of all controversy and the foundation of all faith." COL 39, 40

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Creed Power

"Rome withheld the Bible from the people and required all men to accept her teachings in its place. It was the work of the Reformation to restore to men the word of God; but is it not too true that in the churches of our time men are taught to rest their faith upon their creed and the teachings of their church rather than on the Scriptures? Said Charles Beecher, speaking of the Protestant churches: 'They shrink from any rude word against creeds with the same sensitiveness with which those holy fathers would have shrunk from a rude word against the rising veneration of saints and martyrs which they were fostering. . . . The Protestant evangelical denominations have so tied up one another's hands, and their own, that, between them all, a man cannot become a preacher at all, anywhere, without accepting some book besides the Bible.... There is nothing imaginary in the statement that the creed power is now beginning to prohibit the Bible as really as Rome did, though in a subtler way.'--Sermon on 'The Bible a Sufficient Creed,' delivered at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Feb. 22, 1846.

"When faithful teachers expound the word of God, there arise men of learning, ministers professing to understand the Scriptures, who denounce sound doctrine as heresy, and thus turn away inquirers after truth. Were it not that the world is hopelessly intoxicated with the wine of Babylon, multitudes would be convicted and converted by the plain, cutting truths of the word of God. But religious faith appears so confused and discordant that the people know not what to believe as truth. The sin of the world's impenitence lies at the door of the church." The Great Controversy, pages 388, 389

Friday, March 1, 2013

666

In the ancient Babylonian mysteries the sun was the supreme deity, and all the other gods and goddesses were but different manifestations of that one god. The moon represented the female aspect of the pagan godhead, and all of nature was worshiped as the offspring of that mystical union. Thus a triad formed, consisting of a father, a mother, and a child. This arrangement could be seen wherever heathenism spread, from its probable origin with Nimrod, Semiramis, and her son, to Egypt, Greece, Rome, and around the world.

The actual basis of the mysteries was astrology. Every pagan god was an impersonation of some heavenly body, whether a planet or a constellation. In the serpentine pathway of the planets through the zodiac, the heathen envisioned a seven-headed dragon. Identified in Revelation 12:9, the ultimate object of all pagan worship is Satan. The superstitious pagans, living in fear of their gods, performed acts of worship in order to appease and placate them.

Each astrological deity was assigned a number. The heathen figured they could conciliate the gods by wearing a charm or an amulet representing the deity they wished to please.


The amulet shown here displays the numbers 1-36, arranged in a magic square. All the deities associated with those numbers were therefore represented. Since the celestial sphere was made up of 36 divisions, the number 666, which is the sum of all those numbers, took in the entire system of pagan worship.

The book of Revelation tells us that 666 is the number of the beast. It is the number of his name, and it is the number of a man. He that has understanding is invited to count the number (Revelation 13:17, 18).

The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet are the three manifestations of the Babylonian system of worship (Revelation 16:13). As the number that represents the whole Babylonian system, 666 is therefore the number of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.

The sun, as the grand centerpiece of all the starry host, was personified in its deified human priest on earth. Thus the kings of Babylon, and later the kings of Pergamum, and eventually the Roman emperors, were worshipped as the living manifestation of the sun god, the personal embodiment of its cult. As high priest of the sacred mysteries, those royal personages carried the title of Pontifex Maximus. As the pontiff represented the whole system, 666 was therefore the number of his name.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Uriah Smith on the 2520

THE "SEVEN TIMES" OF LEVITICUS 26
(Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1912 ed., pp. 784, 785)
Almost every scheme of the "Plan of the Ages," "Age-to-come," etc., makes use of a supposed prophetic period called the "Seven Times;" and the attempt is made to figure out a remarkable fulfilment by events in Jewish and Gentile history. All such speculators might as well spare their pains; for there is no such prophetic period in the Bible.
The term is taken from Leviticus 26, where the Lord denounces judgments against the Jews, if they shall forsake him. After mentioning a long list of calamities down to verse 17, the Lord says:
"And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins." Verse 18. Verses 19 and 20 enumerate the additional judgments, then it is added in verse 21:
"And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me: I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins." More judgments are enumerated, and then in verses 23 and 24 the threatening is repeated: "And if ye will not be reformed by me these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins." In verse 28 it is repeated again.
Thus the expression occurs four times, and each succeeding mention brings to view severer punishments, because the preceding ones were not heeded. Now, if "seven times" denotes a prophetic period (2520 years), then we would have four of them, amounting in all to 10,080 years, which would be rather a long time to keep a nation under chastisement.
But we need borrow no trouble on this score; for the expression "seven times" does not denote a period of duration, but is simply an adverb expressing degree, and setting forth the severity of the judgments to be brought upon Israel.
If it denoted a period of time, a noun and its adjective would be used, as in Dan. 4: 16: "Let seven times pass over him." Here we have the noun (times) and adjective (seven): thus, shibah iddan; but in the passages quoted above from Leviticus 26, the words "seven times" are simply the adverb sheba, which means "sevenfold." The Septuagint makes the same distinction (in the Greek, using the noun and adjective) in Dan. 4: 16, etc., but in Leviticus simply the adverb.
The expression in Dan. 4: 16 is not prophetic, for it is used in plain, literal narration. (See verse 25.)