Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Constable’

Parallels Between Israel’s Exodus and Christ’s Second Coming

November 26, 2010 Comments off

Ezekiel 20:35-36 — And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God.

As has often been observed by Bible teachers, and I’ve noticed in my own Bible readings, the similarities between the book of Revelation end-times judgments, and the past judgment plagues on Egypt, are striking.  Both accounts involve descriptions of ruined water, famine and pestilence, locusts, and frogs, for instance.  As a biblical response to naturalist-minded believers, this parallel is a strong argument for the very supernatural power behind the future judgments.  These events will not be the result of man’s technological innovation, nuclear war fallout or any other disaster that man can inflict on this planet — any more than the plagues in Egypt were of man’s doing.  The fact that the people in Revelation 6 cry out for the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of God, from the wrath of the Lamb, ought to be obvious enough proof that the people there realize just Who is responsible for their plight:  not mankind in some global nuclear warfare.

All of the above texts show implicit similarities and parallels — we can see the similarities, but nothing explicit in the texts to link Egypt with the future.  In my recent Bible readings (in a modified Horner Bible Reading), though, I noticed a direct mention of the similarities between the two events.  I especially noticed Ezekiel 20:36 — which makes an explicit comparison between the Exodus from Egypt and the Second Coming judgment.  Where Exodus and Revelation describe actual plagues on the land and people, and the rest of the Pentateuch describes the wilderness wanderings, Ezekiel 20 tells us that Israel will face judgment, at the Second Coming, similar to that previous one.  So here we even see a parallel sequence between the two events:

Past (Exodus) Event Future (Second Coming) Event
1. Great plagues of judgment on the Egyptians Great plagues of judgment on the whole world
2. Israel removed from its land of sojourning Israel removed from its land where it was gathered in unbelief
(Daniel 9:27, 2 Thess. 2:4, Matt. 24:15-21, Rev. 11:2)
3. Israel tested and tried in the wilderness Israel regathered (ref. Matt. 24:31) and tried/judged in the wilderness
(Ezekiel 20:35-36)

It’s an interesting parallel, if I read and understand the scripture correctly.  However, I checked a few commentaries, such as the MacArthur Bible Commentary and Thomas Constable’s online commentary, and these both see verse 35 as referring to the Jewish dispersion of the present age. Yet Constable’s commentary, citing Scofield, does see verses 36 to 38 as referring to the future Great Tribulation:

“The passage is a prophecy of future judgment upon Israel, regathered from all nations . . . The issue of this judgment determines who of Israel in that day will enter kingdom blessing (Ps. 50:1-7; Ezek. 20:33-44; Mal. 3:2-5; 4:1-2).”  (The New Scofield.)

When taken as a whole, I don’t see how verse 35 is referring to the present day scattering, when the previous verse (20:34) clearly begins a section describing a gathering of the people who had been previously scattered:  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out.  In verse 35 they have already been regathered, so the commentary notes for verse 35 in the MBC and Constable don’t make sense of the narrative sequence.  Instead, it seems that verse 34 begins with the current situation (the countries where you are scattered) and takes us into the future, when they are brought out and gathered — a yet future event.  It even could be said that all of this is future, since some biblical texts indicate a scattering of the Jews during the tribulation:  a first gathering in unbelief (begun in 1948) to allow the building of the tribulation-era temple and the seven year covenant with antiChrist, then a scattering at the mid-point of that 7 year covenant, followed by a regathering (in belief) during the Great Tribulation / Day of the Lord and preparation to enter into the Millennial Kingdom.  Such is my original understanding, as shown above, and so I still find this an interesting sequence, especially considering the parallel to the Exodus from Egypt and its sequence.

Mark Hitchcock: Bible Study in Esther

July 30, 2010 Comments off

Recently I’ve listened to a Bible Study series through the book of Esther, one done by Mark Hitchcock two years ago.  This was done as a ten-part Wednesday night series, a straightforward book study series of this interesting narrative account.  As I listened to this series, I often recalled some of the content of the biblical fiction book “One Night with the King,” which I read several years ago (and was later made into a movie) — a very fictional account that portrayed Esther in a much more positive light than the reality indicates.
Like any good Bible study series, this one provides a great deal of background information, concerning the time period, the culture and the characters.  The story took place, I learned, during a ten year period from 483 to 473 B.C.  In Bible chronology the story comes after Ezra chapter 6, but before Ezra 7.  Esther 3 – 10 take place during 11 months, from 474 to 473 B.C., about 5 years after chapter 2.  In between chapters 1 and 2, King Ahaseurus left to a great battle against the Greeks — and suffered great defeat.  Mordecai likely refused to bow to Haman out of his own personal pride, reflecting the age-old enmity between the Amelekites  / Agagites, and the Jews.  The book of Esther continually refers to the two characters as “Haman the Agagite” and “Mordecai the Jew” to bring out the contrast.  The Persians were one group of rulers, interestingly enough, who did not claim divinity for themselves.  Haman’s decree (chapter 3) was issued by the scribes on the day before Passover.  Chapter 4 takes place shortly afterwards, and so Esther’s request for all the Jews of Susa to fast actually meant that they would have to skip Passover and fast when they should have been feasting.  Yet Esther and the other Jews in Susa seem unaware even of the fact of Passover on their calendar.

Among some of the interesting points made early in this series:  Hitchcock believes that Mordecai and Esther were unregenerate Jews — certainly good citizens, patriotic type Jews, but nevertheless unbelievers.  He suggests this as one of the reasons why God’s name is never mentioned in the book, and points to the obvious contrasts of Mordecai and Esther, with the behavior of other well-known Jews such as Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah.  Unlike Daniel, Esther ate ceremonially unclean food; she also willingly joined a pagan king’s harem, had unlawful relations with a man not her husband, and later married this non-Israelite.  Not only does the book of Esther never mention God, the book also never mentions prayer or repentance.

When I looked up the book of Esther in an online commentary — Thomas Constable — I noted great similarity in content.  It’s possible that this particular commentary was among Hitchcock’s source material.  The MacArthur Bible Commentary (MBC) gives a somewhat different stance, leaving some of the story details to the benefit of the doubt.  For instance, the note for Esther 2:8 simply says that it is impossible to tell if Esther was forced or joined the harem voluntarily.  From my reading of Esther 2:8, “was taken,” and subsequent verses that describe Mordecai coming near to check on her as much as possible, it seems at least possible that she was taken by force — a story version developed to great extent in the fictional tale, “One Night With the King.”  Regardless of how it  happened, of course, Esther and Mordecai certainly continued a very secular life afterwards — and yet the events were a part of God’s great providence in bringing about deliverance for the Jews at that time.  In the overall summary, MacArthur notes the differences in Esther’s conduct as compared to Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, yet allows the possibility that we may not have the complete story concerning their lives afterward.  The MBC also gives more explanation concerning why Mordecai wanted Esther to hide her identity, due to a letter against the Jews, from the time of Ezra.

The book of Esther nevertheless stands as a great example of God’s providence and His determination to save His people, even using unregenerate people to play their part in preserving the Jewish nation.  This series from Mark Hitchcock is also valuable as one that makes the connection between what God did for His people Israel at that time, and the great future plans that God yet has for national Israel.  Haman is a type of the antiChrist, to be compared both with Hitler and the future antiChrist.  Hitchcock even mentions Barry Horner’s Future Israel and its basic message concerning God’s (future) election of Israel, and relates the story of Esther to great texts including Jeremiah 31 and Romans 11.

Practical Bible Study Tips

July 2, 2010 Comments off

In the spirit of J.C. Ryle’s exhortations concerning Bible reading and study, I continually seek ways to improve my reading and study habits.

From J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion (chapter 5):

Let us resolve to “read the Bible more and more” every year we live. Let us try to get it rooted in our memories, and engraved into our hearts. Let us be thoroughly well provisioned with it against the voyage of death. Who knows but we may have a very stormy passage? Sight and hearing may fail us, and we may be in deep waters. Oh, to have the Word “hid in our hearts” in such an hour as that! (Psalm 119:11).

Let us resolve to be “more watchful over our Bible-reading” every year that we live. Let us be jealously careful about the time we give to it, and the manner that time is spent. Let us beware of omitting our daily reading without sufficient cause. Let us not be gaping, and yawning and dozing over our book, while we read. Let us read like a London merchant studying the city article in the Times—or like a wife reading a husband’s letter from a distant land. Let us be very careful that we never exalt any minister, or sermon, or book, or tract, or friend above the Word. Cursed be that book, or tract, or human counsel, which creeps in between us and the Bible, and hides the Bible from our eyes! Once more I say, let us be very watchful. The moment we open the Bible the devil sits down by our side. Oh, to read with a hungry spirit, and a simple desire for edification!

So here are some practical thoughts, from new study techniques I’ve tried recently:

  • Keep all study notes in a (portable) hardbound notebook.

Previously I only kept my notes on the computer, type-written form, at a computer I often use during the week. For a long time I simply added notes to a basic Wordpad text file, and more recently tried an electronic journal program, “Red Notebook.” But of course the computer isn’t always available at the moment I have the thought or study note — and this loses the immediacy. Writing notes down in multiple locations is also problematic — one notebook works, regardless of where I am.

So I’m finding that, just as the print copy (portable) Bible works better for reading than online Bible software, the hardbound notebook offers the same advantages.

  • During daily Bible reading, jot down verse references for interesting Bible passages

I’ve mentioned this before, but again find it helpful, especially when put in one location instead of various scraps of paper which I may or may not later transfer to a computer text file.

  • Go back and re-read previous notes. Follow-up with the specific verses and look up more information in commentaries.

With a notebook always available, it’s easy to glance back through the last few days of notes, when I have time to do further look-up, and to get blog ideas. My main study references now include the overall notes in the MacArthur Bible Commentary, as well as a complete online Bible commentary (all 66 books) from Thomas Constable — a great resource.

List of Bible Books and Sermon Series

June 29, 2010 5 comments

Since I enjoy book-by-book and verse-by-verse Bible teaching, especially in MP3 sermon format, I have created an Excel file to help organize the available resources, for future Bible study.  My list includes each book of the Bible and associated Bible teachers who taught through part or all of that Bible book.  For each teacher I list the number of messages in the series, and note if the series covered only part of the book.  For my purposes I looked at several preachers that I’m familiar with.  The list includes John MacArthur and S. Lewis Johnson, as well as the other teachers at Believers Chapel, plus material from preachers affiliated with John MacArthur (Don Green, Steve Lawson, Bruce Blakey, Lance Quinn), and a few other recommended names including Mark Hitchcock, Thomas Constable, and Ray Stedman.

A few observations from the complete list:

  • John MacArthur has the greatest number of messages, and the most complete coverage of the New Testament.  He actually has preached through all of the New Testament books (gospel of Mark still in progress), yet I did not include his sermons for books covered early in his ministry, especially since better series exist for those books, from more mature (better delivery style) preachers.
  • S. Lewis Johnson has the most coverage for the minor prophets — and when you include Dan Duncan, Believers Chapel has the most extensive coverage for all the Prophets:  all books except Lamentations, Nahum and Zephaniah.  Believers Chapel also generally has the most coverage for all the Old Testament: most of the history through the time of King David, plus most of the prophets, and decent coverage for Proverbs and even some Psalms.
  • Thomas Constable has audio sermons available for several Old Testament books, but in many cases the complete series are only available with payment for audio CDs.  Yet Constable also has a complete 66 book commentary of the whole Bible, in PDF format.
  • Thomas Constable, plus Ray Stedman and Mark Hitchcock nicely fill in some of the spots neglected by others, such as Ruth, Esther, 1 Samuel 1-15 (pre-David),  Nehemiah, Job and Ecclesiastes.  Yet a few gaps exist, books I could not find audio sermons for, including the Kings and Chronicles and some of the smaller Old Testament books.  Further study of those books can always be done with material from J. Vernon McGee, or through print resources such as commentaries from Thomas Constable and Alexander MacLaren.

Click the following link to see the actual list:

Bible Teaching Series List

Highlights from Bible Readings: Scripture Thoughts for Today

June 24, 2010 Comments off

Lately my Bible readings (modified Horner Bible Reading System) have included some great readings in Genesis (list 2), Ruth and 1 Samuel (list 6), Jeremiah (list 7), and Romans (list 3).  Now for some highlights:

The despair of people, just before God works great things in their lives:  Naomi (Ruth 1:20-21), and Jacob (Genesis 42:36).

Ruth and Genesis also nicely fit together in another interesting way, as in the day which included both Ruth 4 and Genesis 38.  Genesis 38 of course tells the story of Judah and Tamar, ending with Tamar’s birth to twins, one of whom is Perez.  Ruth 4, verse 12 and again in verses 18-22, again mentions Perez and then completes the lineage from Perez (Genesis 38) to King David.

Speaking of Ruth, Thomas Constable has a good four part series through this interesting book.   I recently listened to the first part, a good introduction to the characters and the story.

Stones as Witnesses

In the Pentateuch and history lists I’ve come across many incidents of stones setup as memorials or witnesses — for agreements between people, as well as witnesses between man and God — such as in Jacob’s journeys in Genesis: Genesis 31:45-53, and again in Genesis 35:14.  Early in 1 Samuel, chapters 6 and 7 also feature two such incidents of stones used as witnesses:  1 Samuel 6:18, after the Philistines returned the ark to Israel, “The large rock, on which they set the ark of the LORD, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.”  Then 1 Samuel 7 has Samuel setting up a stone (1 Samuel 7:12), called Ebenezer, after a great victory over the Philistines.  I also recall the “stone as witness” theme from recent reading through Joshua (Joshua 24:2-27).  The people saw rocks as something more permanent than themselves, part of God’s creation that was always there, like the mountains and hills, to “witness” in the future.  Even when men had forgotten the thing witnessed, those rocks were still there.

So during these readings, when Romans 9:32-33 also refers to stones, as in “a stumbling stone,” the “rock of offense” that Paul quotes from Isaiah 28, in the context of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah, the imagery of a stone has that much more meaning and depth.  Beyond the basic understanding that stones can get in our way and trip us up, lies the rich history and meaning that the people of Israel associated with stones, straight from their own history, from their own prophets and leaders, even back to Jacob–Israel himself.

Benjamin — both the person and his descendants — also has received frequent mention.  Today’s readings, for example, featured Benjamin himself (Genesis 45), then Romans 11:1 (Paul “an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin”), then 1 Samuel 9 (introduction to Saul the soon-to-be king), and again in Jeremiah 37:12 — “Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there.”  Jeremiah chapters 37 and 38 also frequently mention the “Benjamin Gate” in Jerusalem.