Sunday, November 19, 2017

Interpretation Gone Awry

The other day I overheard some students talking about the book of Revelation. While I listened to the entire conversation and thus am aware of the context, I will pull out just one statement that was made. The statement spoken by one of the students is as follows:

“…and anyway, the book of Revelation was not written for us to know about the end, but rather to give us hope.”
If you know me at all, then you know that I was about to jump out of my skin. I will admit that I was eavesdropping (in my defense they were talking right next to me during a class break), so I did not attempt to interrupt the discussion. Yet I am flabbergasted that some believe this about Revelation.

The book of Revelation, yes, gives us great hope, but so does Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15 and the two books of Thessalonians just to name a few passages. If Revelation was solely based upon the idea of filling us with hope, then it would not have been written or would at least be considerably shorter!

Why? Because the hope that most of us are referring to is not expressed until the last four chapters of the book and, to be honest, much of that information is spoken of elsewhere in the Bible. This means that, supposing this student was correct, he interprets the first eighteen chapters of apostasy, satanic influence, demonic opposition and martyrdom as our future “hope.”

Do you hope for the plagues which struck Egypt to come against you and your family? Do you hope to watch your loved ones receive the mark of the beast which secures for them an eternal ticket to Hell? Most of us would say no.

The return of Christ at the end of the Revelation account should fill us with great hope and expectation, but we must never dismiss the rest of the book as simply an allegory. This is a real account of a real future which is really headed our way. It may be in our lifetime or may not, but these events will unfold in the exact way John described.

Revelation 1:1 says,

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known…”
The verse does not say “the hope,” but rather “the things.” The book of Revelation is a book which is meant to be understood. John tells us from the very beginning that this book is meant to show us future events, even detailed ones at that. Some argue against fitting the events of Revelation into a timeline, but right here is an example of John the Apostle encouraging you to go crazy on your timetables.

Another Instance of Poor Biblical Treatment

I was reading a book the other day regarding the historical background of the nation of Israel. In it, the author stated that he does not think that it is realistic to say that Israel came out of Egypt with so many hundreds of thousands of fighting men, so he claimed that the word “thousand,” which is mentioned in Numbers, is merely symbolic.

Honestly, this is embarrassing. If students, even scholars, of the Word do not believe what is written, then why do we expect others to ever come to faith in Christ? Treating God’s Word in this way is shameful. We have all at one time or another treated God’s Word irreverently, but to dismiss it is an entirely different matter. Whether that be regarding end times prophecy or the various instances Israel took a census, none of us have the right to interject our own interpretation onto the Bible. God’s Word is simple to understand. I am not saying that it is easy, but it is simple if we take it at its face value instead of reading in all this symbolism (one day = millions of years; a thousand fighting men in numerical value is just “a lot” of people; and so on). We decide to treat portions of God’s Word symbolically when we decide its improbable.


We must be active in our pursuit to know God in the way God has revealed Himself to be in His Word. The only objective way for any one of us to come to know God is by getting into His Truth. There is no other way because there is no other truth.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Long Was Israel In Egypt?

The Bible says in Exodus 12:40 that “the time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.”

Seems clear then, right? Maybe not as clear as you would think. Scholars debate between 430 and 215 years because there is no other source given throughout any portion of Scripture which supports the 430 years. So then, what’s going on? Is there a problem with God’s Word? A contradiction?

First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with God’s Word. It is perfect. That is the standpoint we must always begin our study with. If at first, we do not understand something, then the issue does not lie with God or His Word, but with us. We must work to gain the correct understanding. [Yes, studying the Bible takes work. A lot of it.]

1.      The Septuagint Translation

When the Hebrew Bible was translated into the Greek language as a part of Alexander the Great’s conquest to enculturate the entire world, which began in the third century B.C., the scribes translated this verse with the added phrase, “…and in the land of Canaan.” This means that the verse actually reads that “the time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt and the land of Canaan was 430 years.”

Was this an added phrase? No. This was part of the original document which Moses himself penned. The problem is that, to my knowledge, we do not have any earlier manuscripts than somewhere between the second and third century B.C. Thus, somewhere in the copying process [remember that there was no printing press at this time] this phrase was dropped out for some reason from the Hebrew manuscripts. However, by God’s sovereign hand over the transmission of His Word, He preserved this wonderful phrase in the Greek Septuagint. The Greek Septuagint is also the manuscript that many Old Testament quotations in the New are taken from. I believe that says something to its credibility.

2.      The Genesis 15 Promise

God informs Abraham of future events, specifically dealing with his offspring. The promise is that they will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be afflicted [enslaved and mistreated] 400 years. Some say that God is simply rounding down. However, the problem is that there is no place in God’s Word when He is ever seen rounding a number.

The reason God says 400 here opposed to 430 is because neither number deals with their allotted time in Egypt. 430 years is the amount of time from the promise to the Law (Gal. 3:16-18) which I will touch on in a minute. The 400 years is when the clock begins to tick at the moment Abraham’s offspring, Isaac, first begins to suffer mistreatment from “another people” (Gen. 21:8-10). Galatians 4:29 says “at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit….”

3.      Canaan Belonged to Egypt

The reason the promise in Genesis 15:13 does not distinguish a difference in the land that is not their own between Canaan and Egypt is because during this time Egypt was the dominant world power and Canaan was under their rule. Thus, both Canaan and Egypt are controlled by Egypt. Also, the land of Canaan will not belong to Israel until the book of Joshua, at which point, Egyptian rule has left Canaan to rebuild Egypt because of what God did to them throughout the plagues.

4.      The Fourth Generation

Genesis 15:14-16 is when God is specifically referring to Israel being enslaved under Egyptian rule. What we cannot miss is the fact that God promised to rescue them and bring them out of Egypt in the fourth generation. This is obviously not the fourth generation from Abraham since they did not go into Egypt until Joseph, which was the fourth generation from Abraham. God is referring to the point in which they enter the land of Egypt to the fourth generation having lived there (Ex. 6:14-26).

Scholars have often wondered why the 430 years will not fit into Exodus chapter six. The reason is because God never intended it to. The genealogical timeline makes perfect sense when allowing the text to speak for itself. The four generations were Levi, Kohath, Amram, and finally Moses.

5.      The Law and the Promise

In Galatians 3:16-18 the Apostle Paul tells us that the Law came 430 years after the promise in Genesis 15. How could this be if Israel did not enter into Egypt for another 215 years and then spent another 430 years there? Some say that the promise was transferred and restated to Jacob upon entering the land. This, however, will make no sense as we get into Acts 13.

6.      Paul’s History Lesson

Acts 13:16-20. For the sake of length, I will not quote this passage. The Apostle Paul, writer of half of the New Testament said that God made Israel great during their stay in Egypt and then He put up with them for 40 years in the desert because of their disobedience. The people then entered the land and took over seven nations. Paul says this all took about 450 years.

If Israel was only in Egypt for 215 years, then this makes sense because 400 years (from the time Isaac was mistreated to the giving of the Law) plus 40 years (disobedience in the wilderness) plus 10 years (to take control of the land) equals 450 years. However, if you believe Israel was in Egypt specifically 430 years then you have a problem because you still need to add up a 40 year wilderness wandering and 10 year conquest which would then equal 480 years.


To conclude, if you hold to the idea that Israel was in Egypt 430 years then you need to try and explain away key portions of Scripture. However, if you believe that they were only in Egypt specifically 215 years then you can fully believe every word of the Bible literally without having to stretch Scripture to compensate for supposed gaps. 

Additional readings are listed below. If you read any, please read both "The Four Generations in Egypt" and "Levi to Moses." Those are the clearest and most informative.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Our World in 7 Millennia

Before you read any further please note that I am only speculating [no, not predicting] the future outcome of world affairs based on Biblical references, world events and, what looks to me to be, common sense. But, again, I’m not majoring in prophecy!

Why do I think God has ordered creation in thousand-year increments?

1.     A Day is as a Thousand Years

This is taken from 2 Peter 3:8. The as reveals this presentation of time to be a simile, but I do not think it should be ignored. This however, is not proof by any stretch of the imagination. I inserted this point simply because I wanted seven points.

2.     It Parallels the Account of Creation

There are seven days in the creation account (Genesis 1:1-2:4) and the seventh one is the Sabbath. The Millennial Rule of our Lord is thought to be a Millennial Sabbath—a thousand-year rest for the earth and all its inhabitants.

3.     Church Apostasy is at an All-Time High

2 Timothy 3:1-5 is a clear description of apostasy running rampant throughout the Church in the latter days. Within this passage we see selfishness and sin taken to a whole new level of extreme. People out of control, suing one another for financial gain, easily offended at everything, forsaking the clear teachings of Scripture, celebrating the homosexual lifestyle, lovers of pornography and sex outside of marriage, etc.

4.     The Most Missional Generation is on the Move

Apart from the first century, global missions are at an all-time high! This is the most missions-minded generation in human history according to John Piper and others. God is doing something significant in His Church and He is doing it quickly. He is fulfilling His Great Commission.

5.     Genealogical Dating is Precisely Measured

Contrary to what some may say there are no gaps in the genealogical timelines. Ideas like these cause others to question the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. Genealogies, such as Genesis 5, present us with a clear historical time chart.

6.     The Curse of Babel is Reversing

It is said that by the end of this century half of the world’s languages will be dead. Because of globalization, smaller people groups are having to conform as the world is moving in on them. The seven thousand languages which exist in the world today were brought about because of a curse (Genesis 11) and we are coming to a point in human history in which we can understand one another. The curse is being reversed.

7.     Jesus Told Us When

I always hear people say that we have absolutely no idea when Jesus is coming back. This could not be further from the truth. Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 that “concerning that day and hour no one knows.” Well, we are not concerned with the exact day or the hour. Those two things will be totally unexpected. What I am talking about is the fact that, throughout Matthew 24 and other parts of Scripture, Jesus Himself says that we will know when the time is drawing near.


I am not saying that Jesus is coming back in the year 2041. If this were true, then technically He would come in the year 2034 since that would be seven years sooner (and, coincidentally, 2,000 years after He died on the Cross!). I think it would be cool if this is in fact how God ordered creation, but I do not know that for a fact. There is no exact verse I can point to but, like I previously stated, I believe that, based on Biblical study, world events and a logical analysis, this is a warranted possibility. Could Christ delay for another hundred years? Yes, and He might. Could He delay another million years? Yes, but He won’t. He is coming soon. Are you ready?

Also read: