Archive for the 'Bible' Category

08
Feb
18

Seals and Trumpets and Bowls – oh my!

A lot of the teachings that influenced my early Christian life presented the book of Revelation as a mostly chronological account of future events, terrible judgements on the earth, that the church weren’t expected to experience personally because we would be removed from earth beforehand.

This removal occurred through an event known as “The Rapture”, a snatching up of believers from the earth to be with Jesus. While many Christians wouldn’t disagree about the expectation of some version of this future event, there is a deal of disagreement about when it will happen.

My introduction to “The Rapture” was through a pre-tribulation mindset, meaning as I said above, that believers would be taken from the earth prior to the terrible events described through much of the book of Revelation, a period defined as “The Tribulation”, or “the Great Tribulation”.

I don’t recall when or why I started to question that common belief, maybe it was a realisation that throughout Christian history, believers have already experienced extreme persecution and suffering, so why should my generation be different (the rapture was always expected to happen at any time, within my own lifetime)?

I decided to see what scripture said. It was the first time I’d actually undertaken a search of the scriptures for myself, to check what I’d been taught.

 

 

I found that some parts of Revelation are strictly chronological, but a lot of it isn’t. I also found it brought to light problems with what I’d been taught.

 

In this post I want to look very briefly at what I see as the most clearly chronological parts: the progression of God’s final judgements released from Heaven, onto the earth, depicted through the opening of 7 seals, the blowing of 7 trumpets and the emptying of 7 bowls.

I’m not going to look in specific detail at each judgement. I want to address the general issue of how those seals, trumpets and bowls relate to each other. I can only hope that readers will carefully consider what I say below, and check it with scripture (and let me know if I’ve overlooked or misunderstood something).

 

Those earlier teachings tended to draw a strict, straight line of 7 seals followed by 7 trumpets, followed by 7 bowls. Since then I’ve come across other ideas but could never see the validity or the logic of their arguments.

So what did my own study suggest to me?

 

When each of the first six seals are opened, it leads to some kind of event happening on earth, but at first reading, the seventh doesn’t seem to do anything like the previous six, there seems to be no effect on the earth:

“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour”…

However, as we read on it can be seen that the opening of that seal ushers in the Trumpet judgements, which DO result in judgements upon the earth.

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets… So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

I believe that the biblical text describes the opening of the seventh seal as releasing the following trumpet judgements.

 

Like the first six seals, the first six Trumpets result in various catastrophic judgements on the earth, and then (like the last seal) the seventh trumpet seems different. There appears to be no specific, separate judgement released by its sounding, instead  “there were loud voices in heaven” – (note the contrast between these loud voices in heaven with the silence in heaven after the seventh seal).

Those voices announce that: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

After a lengthy interlude the bowl judgements are described. Just as I suggested that the result of the seventh seal is the ushering in of the seven Trumpets, I’d suggest that the blowing of the seventh trumpet brings about the ensuing bowl judgments.

 

In very simplified terms, I see that the trumpet judgements are the result of the seventh seal being opened, and likewise, the bowl judgements are the result of the seventh trumpet being sounded (and by progressive association, the bowls are also linked with the opening of seventh seal).

The following chart is something I drew up over 30 years ago. At the time my ideas were still being shaped by some of the terminology I’d picked up through those popular teachings of the time; such as “The Great Tribulation”.  I’d now suggest that term, as well as the other label “The Wrath of God” be ignored on this illustration. I not only find them irrelevant, they potentially mislead. I include the diagram for it’s overview of the seals, trumpets and bowls, rather than the smaller details.

Following is a rough diagram I drew up more recently as a simplified illustration. What this diagram shows that isn’t evident in the above, is that the final completion of all of the seals, trumpets and bowls, coincide at the same point in time: at the return of Jesus, represented by the final vertical line.

 

I recall I once described aspects of these judgements as resembling those Russian dolls that stack within each other, with the Bowls being stacked within the last trumpet, and the seven trumpets being stacked within the last of the seals.
However that illustration was denounced by one reader, because (he said) the word doll comes from the word idol, and therefore my use of it bordered on the demonic.

 

Someone might ask what the point of this speculation may be – does it really matter?

Maybe not to you or to others, but it helped me make sense of something.

And here we come back to the topic of the previous post and its darkened sun, blood moon and falling stars.  That event is described in Revelation as the result of the opening of the sixth seal, clearly long before the majority of the expected “Great Tribulation” events promoted by those teachings I’d previously believed; and yet Jesus had stated that this would happen “immediately after the tribulation of those days“, soon to be FOLLOWED by the sending forth of His angels with a great trumpet “and they will gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of the sky to the other”.

 

Compare this to: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

And with this:  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

 

[note: these possibly/probably coincide with that last vertical line in the second illustration above]

 

At the least, I think what I’ve written about above well and truly blows a lot of traditional teaching of the rapture and “The Great Tribulation” out of the water. The timing required for those teachings isn’t backed by what scripture says.

But more than that, it helps me make sense of the timing of the Lord’s return, and the gathering of His saints, revealed in those other parts of scripture quoted above.

 

In the traditional teachings I’d previously held, there seemed to be a significant gap between the events of the sixth seal (dark sun, blood moon, falling stars) and the blowing of the seventh trumpet (rising of the dead and the catching up of those still alive) – and what about the post-last trumpet bowl judgements? – but when I recognised the above described relationships between the seals, trumpets and bowls, the perceived disconnect seemed to be mostly resolved .

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22
Dec
17

Apollo 8 Christmas Bible Reading fallout

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

21
Dec
17

NASA Memories

As someone in primary school when the “space race” started, Astronauts and space travel were part of the excitement of growing up.

I wasn’t aware of most of the early manned NASA missions, but I recall when some of the Apollo missions were brought to class attention by a student teacher.
I’m not sure which mission was the first we followed, but the interest was maintained until the early moon landings starting with Apollo 11.

What I remember most about that first landing, was being in a crowded Catholic Club, where a small black and white TV was surrounded by club patrons as we waited to see man land on the moon for the first time. It must have been a weekend night, and my dad’s cricket team had gathered there for post-match drinks with their families.
From memory the TV coverage wasn’t anything exciting – and I seem to recall that the actual landing was broadcast as a message of text across the screen, telling us that “Eagle has landed”. In a way it was an anticlimax. Where were the pictures?

I don’t recall when I first saw any actual footage of Armstrong and Aldrin stepping onto the moon. I have a feeling it was a long time after the event.

Over the decades my interest in the space program remained, not obsessively enough to follow everything going on, but enough to keep an eye on major developments. I was also interested enough that had the impossible happened, and I’d been given the chance to board a NASA mission, I wouldn’t have hesitated. At the time, I even believed I would have eagerly boarded a shuttle mission the day after the Challenger explosion if I’d been given the opportunity.

Now approaching 60, even the wildest dream of becoming an astronaut has long gone, and my age would be the least of the disqualifying factors.
I’ve recently been listening to a series on NASA podcasts that have included details of Astronaut selection. Apparently, for the latest recruitment intake of 12, they received 18,000 applications. Those finally selected had multiple degrees, and an incredible breadth of extreme life experience. After listening to the podcast I had to wonder how any individual could fit so much into the first decade or two of adult life.

[https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP]

Today marks the 49th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 8, crewed by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders (Lovell would later go on to greater fame as the commander of the almost disastrous Apollo 13 mission).

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to leave earth’s orbit, and its crew were the first men to travel to the moon and back.

 

Entering lunar orbit on Christmas eve, the crew each read parts of the creation account from Genesis 1.

 

14
Dec
17

Jerusalem in the End Times

26
Oct
17

How to Study the Bible

An excellent and essential follow-up to Jeff’s previous blog post. I strongly recommend that you go to the complete article on Jeff’s blog via the link at the end of the excerpt below.

According to the viewing stats, yesterday’s post has had 26 views and yet only 3 of those viewers actually clicked on the link to read the full article.

I wrote about similar topics in the following two articles:
Spirit, Scripture and Sholarship

and
Don’t Study the Bible

 

______________________________

anti-itch meditation

Here are some tips for studying the Bible on your own.

–Read the Bible a lot. Over and over. Cover to cover. Try at least once to read it as quickly as possible, like under a month.

–Question everything. Write down questions as you read it, then when you read it again, see how many more questions you get and how many old ones you can now answer. Don’t be afraid to question anything and everything.

–Ignore formal theology. Don’t read merely to find verses to back up or attack doctrines. Just read what it says. Otherwise you’ll miss half the message because your brain is arguing theology.

–Avoid dumb Bible study questions like, “what does this mean to me?” or “how can I apply this to my life today?” They tend to make the Bible all about you. One of the points of the Bible is that it’s about…

View original post 281 more words

25
Oct
17

Why Is Theology Confusing?

An excellent post on Jeff Weddle’s blog.

I think he really gets to the heart of most of the major doctrinal difficulties and disagreements affecting followers of Jesus.

anti-itch meditation

Biblical doctrine is much simpler than human theology.

Most confusing doctrines are confusing because they are someone’s idea of what the Bible says, not what the Bible says.

The problem is that biblical doctrine is straightforward. A little too abrupt and real. It tends to mess with life.

Theologians enter the picture to “clean up the mess” by telling you the Bible doesn’t mean what the Bible simply and clearly says.

The main job of a theologian is to impress you with their theological astuteness. In other words, they prove their doctrinal superiority by being confusing.

“You’re too stupid to understand, that’s why you need us smart theologians.” Is the attitude. We go along with them because they tell us why we don’t have to listen to all those parts we wish weren’t there, which suits our flesh fine.

You know you’re dealing with human theology when you are reading…

View original post 195 more words

12
Oct
17

Are You Sure?

Are you sure that the Bible says what you think it says?

Are you sure it means what you think it means?

Are you sure you’re not adding something that’s not actually there?

Are you sure you’re not relying on someone’s interpretation of scripture instead of what scripture actually says?

Are you sure that your beliefs are actually consistent with scripture?

Are you sure your desire for truth is strong enough to make certain that you can answer YES to all of the above?




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