I am, presently, involved in a study of the Apocalypse, and at this point I’m considering what John saw in chapter four. In previous studies in this chapter, we’ve looked at John’s call to come up and enter the open door. John was taken in vision to behold the Lord sitting on his throne, and he witnessed sights that were difficult to describe, such as a rainbow that resembled an emerald in its brilliance. Around the throne were twenty-four other thrones upon which elders sat, whom I’ve concluded were the captains of the twenty-four courses of priests inaugurated by David, when he brought the Ark of the Testimony to Jerusalem for a permanent residence. Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: fire
Laodicea was built by Antiochus II, King of Syria, in honor of his wife, Laodice. The city is approximately 11 miles west of Colossae and 99 miles east of Ephesus. According to Strabo, it was situated on a main trade route, from which it drew its great wealth and commercial importance in Asia Minor. Late in the third century BC or early in the second, Antiochus the Great transported 2000 Jewish families into Asia Minor from Babylonia, thus testifying of a large Jewish population there in the first century AD. No doubt the displacement of the Jews included Laodicea. The city suffered from earthquakes, and a major quake destroyed much of it cir. 60 AD. However, when Nero offered to rebuild Laodicea, its rich inhabitants declined, intending to rebuild on its own. Paul mentions the church of Laodicea in his letter to Colossae, saying he had not visited them in person (Colossians 2:1), but Epaphras, a teacher and friend of Paul, labored in the Gospel among both Colossians and the Laodiceans (Colossians 1:7; 4:12-13). Evidently, Paul wrote to the church of Laodicea, and his concern for them in particular may indicate his epistle was written at the time of the earthquake mentioned above (Colossians 2:1; 4:15-16). Read the rest of this entry »
In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus tells the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The second character mentioned in this story, of course, is a beggar named Lazarus (Luke 16:20-21). According to the text, he is full of sores, which seems to represent the fact that he is a sinner (Luke 15:1-2), whom the Pharisees and other Jewish authorities would never entertain at their tables, where discussion of the word of God was made. Read the rest of this entry »
According to Jesus’ own words (Luke 12:49), he came in order to send fire upon the earth, but what does he mean? During the days of John the Baptist, John claimed that the Messiah was about to arrive on the scene, and he would baptize folks, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16). God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24), which, if used in the context of Jesus’ baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire, must have something to do with judgment (cf. Mark 9:43-48) and refining or purifying (cf. Malachi 3:2-3). The sense seems to be that some believers are unable to endure persecution that inevitably comes with obeying Jesus (cf. Luke 12:4-5, 8-12). Read the rest of this entry »
Jesus tells us in Luke 12:5 the God has to power to cast folks into hell, and implies that he will do exactly that when some folks are judged. The question is, however, does Jesus mean what so many modern Christians understand him to mean? The Greek word Jesus used for hell is gehenna (G1067). The word is derived from Hinnom, the name of a valley just off the southwest wall of Jerusalem. It was a place where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children to the Phoenician god, Molech. King Josiah destroyed its altars and filled it with dead bodies in order to make it unclean for any kind of worship. Later the Jews turned it into a garbage dump where they burned the city’s refuse. Read the rest of this entry »
Jesus steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 9:51). He sent messengers (James and John) into a village to prepare for him (Luke 9:52, 54), but the people would not receive him (Luke 9:53). The folks in Samaria held only to the Torah for their Scriptures, and because they celebrated the same three great feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) as the Jews at Jerusalem, they refused to extend their hospitality to Jesus and his disciples (Luke 9:53). They would not have celebrated Hanukkah or Purim, which aren’t mentioned in the Law, and which had meaning only for the Jews who worshiped in Jerusalem. Therefore, what Luke 9:53 tells us is that the Samaritans took offense, because Jesus seemed to prefer the Jews at Jerusalem over them, because he made it obvious that he intended to celebrate the next great feast of Leviticus 23, the Passover, at Jerusalem and not with the people of Samaria. Read the rest of this entry »
Most folks, today, who believe the Bible look for the Day of the Lord to arrive soon, but given the geocentric information offered in the New Testament, what would such an event look like today? What do the Scriptures say about this day, and should we understand them literally or is there another way to see them that fulfills what we are told, but doesn’t destroy everything God created? Peter writes about the “world that then was” as he speaks of the judgment of the Flood, implying that ‘the heavens and earth’ existing in Peter’s day were different from what we would have found before the Flood. Yet, not only did Noah’s ‘heavens and earth’ pass away to make room for that which Peter knew, but Peter tells us to look for yet ‘newer heavens and a newer earth,’ different from what existed in his day. In other words, the scriptures speak at least twice of God making new heavens and a new earth, the final one coming with the Day of the Lord in which Christ would come. What does all this mean, and can we know?