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Isaac and Ishmael’s Genesis Toledoth, and Ishmael Among the Believers

September 27, 2013 1 comment

Reading again through Genesis in my daily readings, I’ve been more attentive to the toledoth statements (“these are the generations of”), from my recent reading through Henry Morris’ Biblical Creationism and P.J. Wiseman’s book on Genesis and Archeology.  After Genesis 11, the lengthy section on Abraham’s life ends with “the generations of Ishmael” (Genesis 25:12) followed by “these are the generations of Isaac” in verse 19.

Per the tablet understanding of the Genesis book, then, Ishmael was involved in the writing of this portion of the early history.  This chapter tells us that they were together at the time of Abraham’s death.

From Institute for Creation Research, the following “study note” on this point:

Genesis 25:12-16 seem to represent the toledoth of Ishmael, quite possibly a record kept by Ishmael which he gave to Isaac at the time of their reunion at Abraham’s funeral. At this time, Ishmael would have been ninety years old, with his twelve sons each now established in small “nations” of their own, as “princes” of those tribes. After Ishmael’s death, Isaac then added his own comments concerning them (Genesis 25:17-18), before terminating his own toledoth with his signature at Genesis 25:19. Ishmael died fifty-eight years before Isaac died; and, like Abraham, was “gathered into his people” (Genesis 25:17), indicating that he died in faith. Ishmael’s “nations,” though not all clearly identified historically, undoubtedly dwelt mainly in northern Arabia.

P.J. Wiseman’s New Discoveries in Babylonia About Genesis also notes the tablet authorship of this section of Genesis and how the events (Genesis 12 up to Genesis 25) matches the lifetimes of Ishmael and Isaac:

The series of Tablets 7 and 8 (11.27 to 25.19) were written by the two brothers Ishmael and Isaac.

The latest chronological statement (Gen 25.1 to 4) refers to the birth of Abraham’s great-grandsons, and of their growth into clans. Ishmael died forty-eight years and Isaac one hundred and five years after Abraham.

As Abraham would seem to have married Keturah soon after Sarah’s death—which occurred thirty-eight years before Abraham died—this period of thirty-eight years added to the remaining one hundred and five years of Isaac’s life, is a most reasonable period to assign for the birth of Abraham’s great-grandsons by Keturah.

This indicates that the history recorded in these tablets ceases just before the death of Isaac, whose name is given as the last writer, for Isaac survived Ishmael by fifty-seven years and records his death.

As I read the toledoth statements in Genesis 25 I also recalled S. Lewis Johnson’s observations during his Genesis series.  Dr. Johnson’s Pentateuch series (Genesis and From Egypt to Canaan) took the earlier view that Moses wrote all of Genesis himself (rather than compiling much of it from the previous tablet sources), and he may not have been aware of the tablet theory and the archeological and internal text evidences.  (The tablet compilation theory gives a much better explanation of the overall flow of Genesis, including especially the seeming contradiction in Exodus 6:3, for instance.) Yet in the description of Ishmael’s life, the statement that “he was gathered to his people,” SLJ considered the possibility that Ishmael was a believer – noting that we know Esau was quite another matter:

 And Isaac and Ishmael unite in the burying of Abraham.  Now Ishmael was excluded from the covenantal blessings, in the sense that he was rejected for Isaac so far as the seed was concerned; but he was given distinctive blessings.  It was said that Ishmael should have twelve princes and that he would become a great nation.  So God did bless him.  Furthermore, we shall read in a moment that Ishmael was gathered to his people as well; and it’s entirely possible in the light of the statement in verse 17,  “These are the years of the life of Ishmael 137 years and he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people,” that even though Ishmael was rejected as the one through whom the seed would come, but nevertheless he did have a definite faith in the Triune God and may well be numbered among those who are the saved.  It is different with Esau as the New Testament makes plain. …. Ishmael was something of a loner, but nevertheless his life ends with the statement “he was gathered to his people.”

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The Pre-Wrath Rapture View (Comparison/Contrast with Pre- and Post- Trib)

September 24, 2013 2 comments

I’ve recently been studying the pre-wrath rapture view, a more recently developed variation on the post-tribulation rapture. (The early proponents, Robert Van Kampen and Marv Rosenthal, published their books in the late 1980s.  Other proponents include Alan Kurschner and Pastor Ryan Habbena of Signet Ring Ministries.  As noted in this article, Steve Anderson’s pre-wrath view is considered ‘off’ and not part of the standard teaching.) This view attempts a compromise between the original post-trib rapture timing and the later developed pre-trib view.  As with post-trib, the pre-wrath view places the rapture immediately before the Day of the Lord (the wrath that we’re not appointed to).  Like the pre-trib view, pre-wrath (at least some of its proponents) understands Revelation 3:10 as complete removal — but recognizing that Revelation 3:10 does not mean removal from the full 7 year period.  Also similar to pre-trib, pre-wrath has a (shorter) interval of time during which the raptured and resurrected saints first go to heaven and have the Bema Seat judgment, while the world is experiencing the trumpet and bowl judgments.

The pre-wrath view also takes a similar approach to pre-trib, in its interpretation of the “unknown day” and the “thief in the night.”  While recognizing (as with post-trib) that the rapture is not truly an “any moment” event and that certain things must happen first, yet pre-wrath switches to pre-trib in terms of the “thief in the night” reference, reasoning that since we can know when the 70th week starts and when the 3 1/2 months starts and could count the days until the end of them, the rapture couldn’t take us by surprise in a “thief in the night” way — and therefore the rapture must be at some unknown time during the 42 months.  The standard post-tribulation view (as I understand so far) is that believers may not know the exact day/time when the 70th week starts; the 42 months (the midpoint) will probably be known to a fairly close time period.  However, the texts that speak of the “thief in the night” and other similar references are talking about unbelievers being taken by surprise.  Yet the context of these passages show that believers, those who believe and understand God’s word, will not be taken by surprise but will be prepared and eagerly anticipating Christ’s Coming while recognizing that it does mean experiencing persecution before that happens.

On the positive side, the pre-wrath view emphasizes the literal hermeneutic common to all futurist premillennialists, paying close attention to the details given us in the prophetic texts.  They especially focus on the sequence of events in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21), trying to correlate the sequence with the seals in Revelation 6, and also try to account for the 1260 days (the 42 months of the Great Tribulation, the second half of Daniel’s 70th week) plus the later time periods mentioned by Daniel: the 1290 days and the 1335 days.  According to pre-wrath, the rapture occurs in connection with the sixth seal, at some time near the end of the 42 months, and the trumpets and bowl judgments occur next, in sequence, and are the “Day of the Lord” wrath.

This view also puts forth another explanation of the two groups in Revelation 7.  Whereas a common pre-trib idea is that the 144,000 are Jewish evangelists who go forth throughout the world during the Great Tribulation, proclaiming the gospel – and the next scene of the vast multitude is the result of their evangelistic work, those who come to faith during the Great Tribulation and are subsequently martyred and seen in heaven, pre-wrath says (correctly) that the 144,000 are sealed so as to give them divine protection from the judgments about to come upon the world. According to pre-wrath, the rapture occurs here, and the scene of the vast multitude in heaven, before the throne of God, is showing the resurrected and raptured saints.  They especially connect the scene here back to the fifth seal, which showed the souls of the martyrs still waiting for God to take action, and that they are given white robes (but not yet wearing the robes); thus in Revelation 7, when they are wearing their robes, indicates that the rapture and resurrection has occurred and they have their resurrection bodies and thus now wearing the white robes.  That may indeed be the correct interpretation of the vast multitude in Revelation 7, as the follow-up from the fifth seal; it certainly seems to make more sense (per the literal, grammatical historical hermeneutic) than saying the 144,000 are evangelists and the second group their converts, when the emphasis in the text is on the 144,000 being sealed for their protection.

Where pre-wrath does not work, though, is in the details, including the placement of the rapture.  As this blog article point outs, the pre-wrath view is inconsistent in its handling of the 42 months:  Israel and the unsaved experience the full 42 months of the Great Tribulation, the time which starts with the antiChrist setting himself up in the temple (the Abomination of Desolation; what Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2) and the time of his rule and persecution; but the church believers are raptured out at some unknown point shortly before the end of that 3 1/2 years.  Revelation 13:5-7 establishes that the beast is allowed to exercise authority for 42 months and to “make war on the saints and to conquer them” during that time.  It clearly is all or nothing: either the saints (believers) are present OR absent from the 42 months period; but trying to end it before the 42 months for one group and not for the other is inconsistent.

Time, Eternity, and Everything Under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 3)

September 20, 2013 Leave a comment

From Dr. Barrick’s Ecclesiastes study, some interesting observations from Ecclesiastes 3.

The familiar poem in Ecclesiastes 3 – a “poem on time” – has a chiastic structure, and Barrick explains this.  I’ve seen similar descriptions of the chiasm structure as, for instance, in Dan Phillips’ God’s Wisdom in Proverbs, also in reference to Solomon’s writings.  See the full description in this PDF.  Verse 1 forms a chiasm:

A   for everything
…..     B  an appointed time
…..    B’  a time
A’   for every event

The following verses continue the chiastic structure, noting the contrasts, starting with the positives (giving birth and planting) then the negative (dying and uprooting). Verse 7 reverses the order: negative first, then the positive.  A few different ideas have been suggested regarding the last phrase, of throwing stones versus gathering stones, but we’re not entirely certain what Solomon was referring to on this point, only that one is a positive action and the other a negative one.

Themes throughout Ecclesiastes include the idea of eternity – set in our hearts, yet natural man cannot understand what God has done.  “Under the sun” is another common theme – and we are to rise above the sun, above the natural understanding of this world.

Regarding Solomon’s comments about those who are oppressed and have no one to help them, some commentators ask ‘how could Solomon understand oppression’?  After all, he was a king and if there were any oppression he could certainly do something about it.  But we understand the larger perspective of Solomon’s experience: he could travel anywhere and observe oppression elsewhere outside of his own kingdom. Even human kings are not omnipresent, but they appoint judges, governors over the people rather than directly deal with all the responsibility themselves – reference Jethro’s advice to Moses, as well as the account of Jehoshaphat’s government in 2 Chronicles  19:4-8.

Everyone has their disadvantages.  Solomon’s disadvantage was his great wealth and power, that he really could have whatever he wanted.  Like Solomon, we learn to turn our disadvantages into advantages.  Other relevant scriptures here include 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 about our God of all comfort  “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

The Judgment by Fire in 2 Peter 3

September 16, 2013 2 comments

A recent topic has come up in my recent studies, both from S. Lewis Johnson’s 2 Peter series, and Robert D. Culver’s Daniel and the Latter Days.  Culver’s Appendix 1 “The Time and Extent of the Coming World Dissolution”  considers two issues in 2 Peter 3:1-10.  First, is Peter referring to what happens at Christ’s Return, or to what occurs at the end of the thousand year millennial era?  Second: the extent of the fire and destruction: complete annihilation of the Earth and a completely new Earth, or a renovation?

In the 2 Peter series Dr. Johnson shared reasons in support of the idea that the text is referring to Christ’s return, and in characteristic fashion also provided the reasons for it being after the 1000 years.  Culver treats this question (and the first answer) in more depth, referencing several of the same points.  For instance:

  1. The Old Testament prophets speak of a judgment by fire, that immediately precedes the beginning of the future Messianic kingdom.  (Joel 2:30-31; Malachi 3:1-3, 4:1)
  2. The Old Testament repeatedly states that disturbances in the material heavens, of a type identical with those described by Peter, shall transpire immediately before the establishment of the kingdom.  (Isaiah 34:4, 13:13, 51:6; Haggai 2:6-7; Joel 3:16)  Culver further notes the citation of Haggai 2:6-7 in Hebrews 12:26 – “yet once more” – not twice – “will I make to tremble not the earth only but also the heaven.”
  3. The New Testament writers likewise affirm a judgment of fire associated with the Second Advent.  (2 Thess. 1:7-8; Revelation 16:8-9)
  4. The coming kingdom shall occupy a regenerated earth from its beginning; therefore the purifying effects of this prophetic dissolution must be at the beginning, rather than at the close of the Millennium. (Isaiah 65:17-25, 66:22-24)
  5. The immediate context of 2 Peter 3:10 is the Second Coming itself, not something to take place 1000 years later.  Peter addresses the argument of the skeptics, “Where is the promise of His coming?” and speaks of Christ’s coming.
  6. A perpetual and continuous kingdom such as is repeatedly promised demands that no such destruction as is often urged be placed at the end of the Millennium to interrupt the continuity of that kingdom.  This is another good point from Culver’s book: the Kingdom of God is not limited to the first 1000 years. The first 1000 years is the period when Satan is bound before his final destruction, when fallen people in non-glorified bodies will be around, and the time between the two resurrections.  But the Kingdom itself continues into the Eternal State of Revelation 21.  Regarding the perpetuity of the kingdom, reference Luke 1:32-33; Daniel 7:18, 2:44, 7:14.
  7.  In 2 Peter 3, Christians are exhorted to godly living, based on this predicted dissolution, as though this is something they should expect to see if they live to the end of the present age – rather than it being something at least 1000 years away.  (Reference also the similar moral lesson in Mark 13:32-37; Matthew 24:42-51; and Luke 21:25-26 – the Olivet Discourse.)

The Nature and Extent of the Cosmic Changes

Culver is another of a few teachers who suggest a renovation of the Earth instead of annihilation and complete remaking of the earth.  Dr. Vlach has also addressed this issue at his blog, along with the related idea of the New Creation model.  S. Lewis Johnson in his Revelation series also referenced this idea:

He describes the makeup of the new creation in verse 1, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth:  for the first heaven and the first earth passed away; and there is no longer any sea.”  Not “another earth and another heaven,” but “a new earth and a new heaven.”  In fact, the adjective that he uses, the adjective “new” here, one of several adjectives for new, particularly one of the two primary ones is a word that means something like fresh, a fresh heavens and a fresh earth.  And the sense that one gets from it is that there is a correspondence between the new heavens and the new earth and the present heavens and the present earth.  But the new one is a fresh one, a correspondence that is suggested by other things in the word of God.

In my own regular Bible readings, when I come to 2 Peter 3 I have noticed also, that Peter makes comparison to the first judgment and change to the Earth, the flood:  “the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.”  Yet the actual Earth is the same as then, the same actual planet — with plenty of the scars, the evidences, of that great deluge and what great destruction happened then. Then the comparison to “the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire” suggests a parallel event: not annihilation but a remodeling, a renewal, of the same actual planet.

Dr. Barrick’s Ecclesiastes Series

September 12, 2013 2 comments

I’m now going through one of Dr. Barrick’s teaching series, a Sunday School class from about three years ago, on the little-taught book of Ecclesiastes.  Consisting of 19 audio lessons (unfortunately missing the audio files from Ecclesiastes 11 and 12), the study also includes “notes” PDF documents used in the classes – including the notes for the last two chapters.

My only previous study experience with Ecclesiastes was several years ago, a sermon series from a local (and basic, superficial teaching level) church in which the pastor’s overall conclusion was that the book of Ecclesiastes describes life from the viewpoint of unsaved man.  That pastor also considered Solomon’s salvation doubtful or questionable.  As I’ve since realized from regular reading and study in many other Bible books – and Dr. Barrick brings out this point very clearly in the Introduction – no books of the Bible are authored by lost men, and the three books authored by Solomon  (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) clearly show that Solomon was a believer.  God may have used a donkey and a false prophet to verbally express His word at a point in time, but that is quite a different matter than the written word of God and all associated with that idea of the canon of scripture.  Solomon’s three books reflect three main periods of his life: Song of Solomon in his youth, Proverbs in his adult life, and then Ecclesiastes late in life, after Solomon had gone astray for a time (1 Kings 11) and then was brought back into relationship with the Lord – at which time he wrote Ecclesiastes, reflecting back on that time of his backsliding.

The introductory material is interesting, in which Dr. Barrick points out many interesting things about the book of Ecclesiastes.  One surprising point:  the Jews include the reading of Ecclesiastes in their celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, a festival of great joy.  Dr. Barrick also lists several theological topics found in Ecclesiastes – this in response to one of his seminary professors years ago, who had told the class that Ecclesiastes had no theological value:

  • God’s Sovereign Control Over Man
  • God’s Providential Grace
  • God’s Eternality
  • God’s Creatorship
  • God’s Perfection
  • God’s Justice and Holiness
  • God’s Abode
  • God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience
  • God’s Omnipotence
  • God’s Preservation of His Saints
  • Reverential Fear of God
  • Obedience Before Sacrifice
  • God’s Word

As a Sunday School class with some interaction, it’s not the easiest to listen to – since the comments from the class participants are off-microphone, and sometimes Dr. Barrick himself moved further away from the mic.   Aside from the silent pauses though, most of the content comes through clearly – and the six page documents for each session also provide excellent study material, in-depth summaries of the audio material.

The Future Restoration of Israel: 12 Points In the Biblical Argument

September 9, 2013 8 comments

From Robert D. Culver’s “Daniel and the Latter Days”, the following list of 12 related points: what the scriptures say regarding “the restoration of Israel to the land and the conversion of the nation, to be followed in the Millennium by the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises distinctive to that nation.”

1.  Numerous Old Testament predictions which treat of a repentance and restoration of Israel in eschatological times which is distinct and separate from that which followed the Babylonian captivity.  Reference:  Hosea 3:4-5; Ezekiel 37:11-28

2.  The perpetuity of the nation of Israel, in spite of repeated apostasies and restorations after divine chastening.  Reference:  Lev. 26:44-45; Numbers 23:9; Jeremiah 30:10-11; Jeremiah 46:27-28; Amos 9:8-11

3.  Isaiah 11:1-12:6an Old Testament prophecy which in unmistakable and utterly unambiguous language predicts a national restoration of Israel in yet future Messianic times.

Verses six to nine following describe conditions in that final kingdom of earth’s history, the Millennial kingdom. It is a time of universal peace and prosperity among all of God’s creatures. Verse 10 adds that the peoples of the earth shall seek Christ, in that day–something, by the way, which can never, and will never, take place during this present age.

4. The Scriptures speak of a restoration of Israel which will be absolute and permanent.  Amos 9:14-15

5.  Jesus predicted events in the future which presuppose the restoration of Israel to Canaan and the re-establishment of the ancient tribal organization of the nation.  Reference Matt. 19:28 and Luke 22:28-29Unless the nation of Israel is to be revived and restored, this prophecy has no meaning at all.

6.  In his most important eschatological address, Jesus suggested that a period of Jewish rulership of their ancient city, Jerusalem, would follow on the conclusion of this age, which He called “the times of the Gentiles.”  Luke 21:24

7.  It was the plain belief of the apostles, even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, that the kingdom would be restored, as of old, to Israel.  Acts 1:6

8. The Apostle Paul declared that a time is coming in which “all Israel shall be saved” and that in such a context that the national repentance and conversion of the nation, if not national restoration, is a necessary inference.  Romans 11:25-26

9.  The Scriptures describe a future time when a temple of God in the Jewish city of Jerusalem shall be appropriated by God as His own and be misappropriated by Antichrist.  Revelation 11:1-2; 2 Thess. 2:3-4

10. The Revelation predicts a resumption of God’s dealing with Israel in the sealing of 144,000 Israelites, organized according to their tribal divisions.  Revelation 7:1-8

11.  The prophets speak as if the honor of Jehovah God is at stake in the restoration of Israel in a final and permanent way.  Ezekiel 36:21-22

12. The Bible reveals that the very worthiness of God as the object of the faith of the patriarchs, requires that He yet restore Israel and fulfill the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Romans 11:28; Lev. 26:40, 42-45; Jer. 33:25-26

Classic Premillennialism Resources: The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony

September 5, 2013 3 comments

As a follow-up to my recent post listing many online books from classic premillennialists, here is another interesting resource with current-day reference to these teachers: the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony (Reformed, Protestant, Puritan, Prophetical, Expository, Doctrinal). Based in England since its founding in 1918 (with representatives in Australia, Canada and New Zealand – but apparently nothing in the U.S.), the group meets monthly; each meeting brings new topics and hour long messages from the various members.  As stated on their website: “We hold regular meetings and publish material on the subject of eschatology. The works of men such as Benjamin Wills Newton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, JC Ryle, Dr S.P. Tregelles, Dr C.Y. Bliss, George Müller and David Baron are promoted.”

Among their past meetings is an interesting series from 2012, “Bible Lands in Bible Light”: ten messages about “God’s Purpose for …” with separate messages on Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Israel.  The British accent takes some getting used to, and at least some of the speakers are older age (indeed this is the one troubling thing, an indication that this group may not continue long-term, since the current speakers are quite advanced in age — perhaps reflective of the current secular climate in Great Britain), such that the lectures move at a slower pace going through lots of background material; but still very interesting topics.  Some of the messages in the “Bible Lands in Bible Light” are featured in text, summary form in their recent quarterly magazines.

SGAT main website:   Basic information about the group, as well as a collection of audio MP3s from their meetings over the last few years.

SGAT quarterly magazine and a few premillennial articles in PDF format (including their PDF of Dennis Swanson’s article, Charles H. Spurgeon and Eschatology, which is also posted at Phil Johnson’s Spurgeon site)

SGAT Facebook page also includes updates of their upcoming meetings, their video messages and PDF magazines