<>HEL. ~3850 words. Purim is March 9 – 11, 2020 – Adar 14... Published on February 14, 2020 on the eTPL website as February article.
March: A Tale of Two Rivers
An eTPL29 Exhortation
Zechariah 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
There are two Rivers of Destiny featured in the scriptures, and both are highly symbolic streams. One exists at the present time – and the other remains to be created in the near future due to tectonic changes underneath and surrounding Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The first one is the Jordan River – named Yardan, meaning “a descender from Dan.”
The other is the River of Life which originates from beneath the Throne of God in the future Temple at Jerusalem – and flows eastward into the Salt Sea, healing its waters.
It is described extensively in Ezekiel 47, along with several of its unique features.
Each of these streams has its own flora and fauna.
The Jordan River is flanked by trees of many species, both fruit and forest. They provide shade for animals and men, fruit for the tables of the populace, and stability to the soils of the banks of the river.
But they are not in place for any specially-established reason during the present age; these have only limited, largely unrecognized, and sporadic utility for universal healing – a feature which is realized to be the opposite effect of a special, divinely-engineered FOREST of the future age ...
We are not aware than any of these trees and shrubs of our times now produce any varieties of natural medicines for the healing of disease.
Perhaps they do, but if so, they are largely not yet discovered.
On the other hand, the second river – the River of Life – has not yet been established.
It will depend upon the tectonic changes generated probably by the Olivet earthquake described as happening when Jesus’ feet touch the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming.
The description of that event is recorded in Zechariah 14:4 - “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley, and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”
In the understanding of architectural interpreters of Ezekiel 40-48, the tangible real estate of Mount Moriah particularly will be raised up to an elevation much higher than the surrounding hills of Jerusalem of today, and will be the source of the River that is indicated.
This physical change contrasts with the present elevation of the Temple Mount, which is lower than all the surrounding hills by a few hundred feet.
We intend to consider intensively the constitution and makeup of these two rivers in this exhortation ...
The Jordan River
The Jordan River originates in the Golan Heights and on the slopes of Mount Hermon in northern Israel with waters from the Hasbani River of Banias and Dan.
Surface waters which collect on the Golan Heights to the east are drained by its streams toward its southwestern waterfalls which carry that water rapidly down to the Jordan River in the Lake Hula region north of Lake Kinneret.
The most notable source of Jordan is at Banias, near Caesarea Philippi, located just south of Mount Hermon. There, the melted snows of Mt. Hermon tumble out from crevices in the rock scarp, issuing a powerful flow of the pristine product of the runoff of spring and summer.
That source of Jordan is tamed by an extensive series of long, dammed pools, which slow and moderate the water’s turbulence to prevent erosion of its headwaters.
From this source, the river flows southward for 156 miles (about 251 km) through Lakes Hula and Galilee (Lake Kinneret) to the Dead Sea – a direct line of approximately 90 miles – “as the crow flies.”
The waters if the Jordan Valley drop below sea level at the same longitude as the city of Safed in the mountains of the Galilee to the west before they enter Lake Kinneret (about 500 feet below sea level), and attains a level of some 1290 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea surface.
The Jordan’s stream-course is mostly narrow and rapid at the outset, but increasingly becomes meandering and serpentine as it tumbles southward, much in the character of an “older,” more mature geologic streambed, and carries tons of silt which it deposits along its lower course as it flows through the lower Jordan Valley.
At the present time, the river is grossly contaminated by the waters of the Yarmouk river entering from the east (from northern Jordan) – a condition which qualifies the Jordan River as being among the top 100 most polluted streams in the world.
Rehabilitation of the river would require several decades according to experts who have studied the problem.
Such a costly plan has not been presented for the river’s improvement.
We see the Jordan River as a realistic symbol of human life apart from a relationship with YHVH. It illustrates graphically the symbolic beginning of life in relative purity – but gradually and progressively moving toward maturity, contamination, compromise ... and death.
The famous river begins its life in hopeful purity and strength as its youthful waters tumble forth from rock crevices, uncontaminated, originating from the melted pure winter snows of Mt. Hermon – taking on the character of a newborn infant beginning its life in vibrant health, in the great prospect of a vigorous course, and with rapid progress in all its endeavors.
It begins its life as the clear, lively waters of a geologically “young” stream, but soon inches toward maturity as it traverses its upper course quickly drops below sea level and empties into the Kinneret.
There it re-energizes for a moment and passes with some mature strength into the valley of the lower Jordan – a tortuous pathway, meandering ever more listlessly in its journey toward complete maturity and old age, now increasingly more polluted and contaminated, only a small fraction of its content finally reaching the Salt Sea – the lake of death and dissolution – there to evaporate completely away, only its non-volatile salt content remaining in that Sea and contributing forever to that saltiest body of water on earth, now completely “dead,” – unable to sustain life of any kind.
It illustrates the hopelessness and futility of life apart from godly blessing or devotion.
The River of Life
Contrasting with the River Jordan we consider the vibrant, productive, healing waters of the River of Life which in future ages shall issue from the Throne of God atop Mount Moriah of the Kingdom age, flowing vigorously and freely toward the sunrise of a glorious age.
Its lively stream of life-giving (fresh) water is also destined for the Salt Sea but will have a better effect than any contribution by the Jordan River.
In reality, that blessed stream is to be created as an integral blessing of the Kingdom of the LORD, originating probably from the moment when His feet stand upon the Mount of Olives – the location from which He ascended to the heavens two millennia in past time.
We refer of course, to the supernatural events of the end-time when Jesus Christ reveals Himself to His People for the first time in two millennia...
This River seemingly reaches its fully operational, functional stage at the completion of the Edifice of the Kingdom which is to be established there – the House of Prayer for all people of Isaiah 2:3: “... the mountain of the LORD ... the house of the God of Jacob.”
The Apostle John describes his observation of the flourishing stream as an integral part of his description of the precincts of the Temple as described in Ezekiel 47.
But in the terminal portions of the Apocalypse, we find another reference to this vibrant and productive stream: Revelation 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
These are, I believe, our only records of this miraculous River of Life which originates there and ends at the waters of the sea of death, reducing its level of salinity – its salt content – returning the same back to chemical neutrality (or balance), renewing its life-giving powers, giving new vitality and vibrancy to its waters, bringing its surface level up to the level of the other seas of the world, and making it a productive incubator for an abundance of species of fishes.
Along its banks as it flows from Zion toward the east in its journey of less than thirty miles, the river becomes deeper as John explores its watercourse, where his narrative instructs us as to the orientation of the House of Prayer being “toward the east” (verse 1), and additionally, “behold, there ran out waters on the right side” (verse 2).
A “man” holding a measuring line, who is a guide to John at this point, leads him, wading in the waters of the river and measuring the depth as they proceed.
At a distance of 1000 cubits (about 1500 feet) from its origin, the waters are “ankle deep” (verse 3).
At an additional distance of 1000 cubits, the water measures “to the knees.” (verse 4).
At 1000 cubits further, “to the loins” (verse 4).
In verse 5, ... he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, “a river that could not be passed over.”
Having established this fact, the man with the measuring line brings John to the “brink” of the river – the saphah in Hebrew – a term which is translated in the next verse as the “bank” of the river.
Now, as he stands upon the bank of the river, the prophet notes, “at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.”
However, before John can comment upon the abundant trees – the forest which is flourishing on both banks of the river – the measuring man describes the “waters” more precisely and tells John of the river’s final destiny – the waters of the Eastern Sea.
The destination is identical to that of the Jordan River – but the resultant condition induced by the River of Life has a polar opposite effect, as we shall see...
The next four verses are concerned with these waters and their beneficial effects...
Ezekiel 47:8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
Eze 47:9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
In other words, the River is a river of LIFE exclusively – unlike the Jordan, the River of Death – which now terminates at the lowest point on the earth’s surface in a morass of futility and hopelessness!
Eze 47:10 And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the Great Sea (the Mediterranean Sea), exceeding many.
Eze 47:11 But the miry places thereof and the marishes (the lower levels – the swamplands) thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.
These benefits are astounding!
They result in a complete reversal of the deadness of the Sea which seems always to have existed.
The waters are “healed,” and support aquatic life in great proliferation!
Only one limited area remains salty, perhaps as a reminder to the people of that age of the former character of the entire body of water (?).
The “man” reinforces multiple times not only the destiny of the flowing waters of the River of Life (the Dead Sea) but also the numerous effects of its healing waters – the abundance of aquatic life that it shall support in that future day ... all the fishes of the Great Sea “... and every thing shall live whither the river cometh” (verse 9).
In these words, the analogy of the healing waters as the healing hand of the LORD Jesus Christ to the people and the organic life of the world at large are illustrated!
Even the much-depressed surface level of the waters of the formerly “dead” Sea is an indication of the full restoration of the universal benefits that shall accrue from His blessings of that day ... essentially the restoration of the Garden which God had originally planted “eastward, in Eden.”
But those are not all the benefits of the living, vibrant, pristine waters of the River of Life.
Verse 12 details the wonderful effects that those waters now exert upon the flora of the new age: Ezekiel 47:12 -And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed (that is, not be exhausted, but shall be plentiful): it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
It has long been our personal conviction that during the Millennial Kingdom of our LORD, while there are still mortal populations who will be subject to human illness, and prevailing (but limited) fatal diseases, that YHVH’s ultimate “medicine” will be ONLY the “leaves” and other extracts of natural plants, some of which have already become known through the astute observations of men and women of science in the present day – and even by some who are considered “shamans” or “medicine men” of the uneducated masses of folklorists.
Why should this be true?
It is a commonly recognized feature of humanly manufactured “medicines” that virtually ALL of them are limited by the unwanted side effects which they invariably cause, usually accompanying even minimal effective doses given under close supervision.
As every reader is aware, some of the television “commercials” for modern medicines contain endless warnings to prospective patients which sound like the casualty list of atomic warfare, advising great caution by patients who are prescribed nearly any one of thousands of prescription drugs!
The frightening toxicity of these – aside from any “curative” qualities – is devastating.
Multiple undesired effects of prescription drugs cause thousands of deaths each year; many manufactured drugs seem to cause far more health problems than they are intended to solve.
Thousands of lawsuits are launched each year to compensate victims for these drastic side-effects of legitimate pharmaceuticals upon their unwary victims.
The “wood of life” – the trees of life – which will lavishly be supported by the River of Life will drastically change that cloudy outlook for “the practice of medicine” during the Kingdom age – all the way to its end, to the time when ... God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4
Visualize such a day!
At the slightest hint of any physiological challenge of any kind, each can instantly be countered by an application of “kingdom medicine” – the leaves and extracts of various plants, their leaves, their bark, their roots – and complete healing be achieved at little or no inconvenience or expense (or danger from unwanted effects!) by the then-knowledgeable Saints who pervade and efficiently supervise all society in that age.
Surely in that age, these will be providing care and health coverage for all the earth’s remaining mortals as these fortunate subjects of that day elect to enter a life of godly service to the divine Representative Who they then will be able to behold literally, and Whose words they will be able to hear personally, and understand as He speaks to them righteousness ... and godliness ... and peace ... and with compassion!
Caring for them as no earthly parent could ever do, these fortunate survivors of the human race shall bask in the abundance of blessings continuously poured upon them by their Great Benefactor and His Immortal Helpers! Their ready application of the perfect curative properties of the Wood of Life which flourishes alongside the River of Life will bring certain and perfect healing for the fortunate population of the New World of the day...
The wonderful phrases of Revelation 21: 1 -8 come readily to mind:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
<HEL> ~3200 words. An eTPL29 Exhortation Posted March, 2020.
April: A Crucial Discussion of Isaiah 26: 19-21
An eTPL30 Analysis
We confess to our own inability for many years to arrive at a satisfactory understanding of portions of the last three verses of Isaiah 26 – verses 19-21. Several options seemed possible but none was entirely satisfactory – all lacked a satisfying conclusion...
We have long ruminated on the mysterious “chambers” of verse 20: “Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast ... and the immediate action (verse 21) of the LORD coming out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity....”
Note carefully that in these words we see a certain forward progression from “My people” entering into their chambers, to the LORD “coming out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.”
The last phrase is entirely clear; it is an event which we have expected and hoped for during long decades of recent time.
We must keep that sequence of events in our minds as we try to understand these three verses... Isaiah 26: 19-21.
The Era of the Resurrection of the Dead
The first verse of this trilogy reads as follows...
Isaiah 26:19 - Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
This text addresses the time when “Thy dead men shall live,” so it obviously refers to the era of the resurrection of the responsible dead at the Second Advent.
All the details of these verses refer to that crucial time...
Earlier verses of this chapter give summary details of the historical scattering of Israel and of her restoration and resurrection in the end time.
Now we come to the actual time of the Second Advent, and its integrally-connected resurrection of the responsible dead of all ages...
Danger to Israel on the Increase
At the present time, it should be readily apparent that the people of Israel are in a greatly increasing degree of jeopardy from their enemies round about. Their deepening danger has in a sense been similar to that of a woman in the natural distress of childbirth, her labor pains now coming more and more frequently and with greater intensity as her deliverance comes. These are signals of the approach of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the birth of a new age!
By its consistent victories, the Israeli state has developed steadily toward this terminal destiny of imminent final delivery from its enemies, and is now on the cusp of redemption itself.
These earlier, singular advances of the Jewish state shall pale into insignificance compared to Messiah’s work in bringing Israel into the light of His countenance – into the full light of His glory and purpose. Luke 1: 71-74; Isaiah 11, q.v.
The Tension Builds
The tension builds as we have seen especially during the beginning years of this twenty first century – their enemies growing steadily stronger, their forces increasing their vile threats, their armaments improving and compounding against God’s People. Hamas and Hezbollah, along with the PLO and the Pales******* are aching for victory over the hated “Zionist entity.”
So how may we view the outlook as of today?
Our tentative conjecture is in the following details...
It proposes an explanation which may be entirely valid. On the other hand, we have no crystal ball, so these suggestions may not come about at all. We dedicate our studies diligently to look ever forward, with high expectancy. Please take our view for what it’s worth.
As the year 2020 came in, a sudden and drastic change of an entirely different kind came about in the world to confuse the picture and to move events forward, hopefully, toward the Believer’s and Israel’s final redemption.
This series of events places us at the present time...
The prospects now upon the threshold may well soon bring about that glorious state of things for His People ... the victorious conditions prophesied in Isaiah 25: 6-8, q.v.
In early January 2020, the news of a new virus having arisen in China becomes prominent in the news media. Apparently many Chinese citizens of Wuhan Province have succumbed to it and great numbers are becoming gravely ill with the respiratory devastation of a new Coronavirus, later to be designated Covid-19.
At the time, the US economy was at a boiling point. The Dow Industrials were about to soar upward through the dizzy heights of 30,000! Unemployment of all sectors was at a near all-time low. Wages were rising nicely. Consumer confidence was at a high water mark. The president’s approval rating was very high. The opposition party (the Democrats) was (and are) in disarray...
Skipping over the details of the dramatic rise of this epidemic, we advance about two months – to early March 2020.
At that time the American president, recognizes the gravity of the epidemic – that it is now a pandemic (worldwide in scope) – and amid some controversy, has already cut off travel to and from China and other nations where the virus has become established. He begins to tighten other limitations.
He insists that the US population undertake self-isolation – the separation of citizens from others in public places by at least six feet.
Spring school terms are canceled.
Public businesses begin to close, including hotels, resorts, restaurants and bars.
Infections of Covid-19 ravage the passengers of cruise liners.
Airlines cancel thousands of flights, reducing service to a minimum.
The economy begins to shrink precipitously as people start to avoid large gatherings such as sporting events and religious services.
The president advises that the citizens exercise the best practices of isolation of themselves from each other in order to suppress the transmission of the mysterious, invisible, and deadly virus.
This measure reduces travel even more sharply. Much of the nation’s commerce halts.
Gas prices start to fall ... and the NYSE stock prices show signs of imminent collapse, as the Dow Industrials drop by a thousand points a day.
Complicating the economic picture, oil prices also begin to fall sharply.
Saudi Arabia asks Russia to join the Saudis in cutting crude oil production, hoping that action will stabilize prices (a ploy which has worked well in the past). But Russia refuses, ostensibly in an effort to keep oil prices so low that the American oil-shale fracking operators, especially, would be forced to cease their operations.
The price plunges to around $20 per barrel of West Texas crude oil. (Russia is said to “need” oil to be priced at $80/bbl or greater in order to break even. But Putin insists they keep pumping crude!)
There is widespread panic among the world’s population as families begin in earnest to isolate themselves and limit their exposure to other people as much as possible.
As of today, March 26th, the three members of our immediate family rarely venture outside our home except to visit a doctor’s office – and have not done so for almost two weeks...
We are in self-imposed isolation within our home.
We have entered into our private rooms and are seldom emerging for any reason.
And so have approximately 30% of all the other people in the world according to a Fox News report earlier today!
It is this phenomenon that we now address.
After a few days of self-isolation, we have come to realize that we have read a prediction of these precise conditions in our Bibles.
The pointed words of Isaiah 26 come racing from the back of our minds as descriptive of our current state of affairs.
Why hadn’t we thought of this connection before now?
The prophet wrote, in the second verse of the trilogy, Isaiah 26:20 - Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
We suddenly realized that we were experiencing this condition at the present time ... and that the details of its onset as described by Isaiah perfectly fit our present circumstances – and the stance of perhaps nearly all Believers throughout the world!
After all, we have been expecting the termination of these days (this dispensation) for several years, and realize soberly that the day of its arrival is possibly very, very near.
That expectation includes the sudden arrival of the LORD from heaven to start His conquest of the earth’s heathen peoples ... and the conclusion of Israel’s conflict with her neighbors on all sides (round about her).
The verse warns of his “indignation” being leveled against the evil enemy or enemies.
The last verse in the trilogy spells out the dedicated objective of our expected LORD...
Isa 206:21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth (eretz) for their iniquity: the earth (eretz, usually Israel) also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain (i.e., be un-avenged).
Have His People Already Begun to Execute His Bidding in this Affair?
We believe that “His people” along with many others of the whole earth may already be fulfilling at this moment in time the clear directives of verse 20 - in our preparations for the events of the certain revelations of this 21st verse!
We are convinced that the earth in general is overdue for its great purging, and cleansing.
The Second Advent of the LORD from heaven shall be the first palpable act in the execution of these serial judgments upon the peoples of the earth, in which He has suddenly instilled such a depth of universal fear and panic.
We believe the above proposal bears readers’ most sober attention.
It may still take some indeterminate length of time for the events to unfold.
Our Father is in complete control – and doesn’t have to hurry His plans for our benefit.
Our mission is to remain firmly in control of our lives and those of our loved ones as best we can ... and to trust implicitly in His judgment in this present crisis.
It may well be that the moment for which we have longed has finally arrived – the imminent return of the LORD Jesus Christ to the earth, executing His objective of bringing it into subjection to the Almighty in every way.
Think about it!
In just days the Lion of Judah may actively be in fierce conflict with His initial foes, and rapidly be establishing His reign of peace and righteousness upon the earth as foretold by all the prophets of Israel throughout God’s word!
The prophecy of Isaiah 26: 19-21 is a terminal forecast. Its fulfillment will result in the fruition of The Hope of Israel, which is labeled upon each of His baptized believers – validated by the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant marking our bodies – i.e., his shed blood identifying those men and women of Covenant ... all of us praying fervently for His appearance and Kingdom.
<>HEL ~1700 words. An eTPL30 Analysis Published March 26, 2020.
An eTPL30 Analysis
If there be any accurate, overall exposition of this great Prophecy, we believe it must lie in a verse-by-verse analysis. After many previous, attenuated attempts we now undertake the task in the faith that we shall gather much profit from such an approach. At this time we shall consider only the most detailed account of the prophecy – that of Luke 21...
Luke’s account of Jesus’ words begins in Luke 21:5. He writes the narrative of the details foretold by Jesus as He spoke to His disciples on the western slopes of the Mount of Olives, which overlooks Temple Mount, where stood at that time the Temple of Solomon as rebuilt and refurbished by Herod the Great. It is said to have been the most beautiful temple ever created.
Although not indicated in Luke, the accounts of Mark 13 and Matthew 24 inform the reader that these words were spoken as he addressed His followers at a location on the slopes of Olivet overlooking the Temple.
We begin our verse-by-verse discussion here...
Luke 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, 6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
To whom was the Master speaking here? It is evident from the tenor of the remainder of the chapter that He was speaking to His disciples – not to the Scribes, Pharisees, or Sadducees. His followers who were standing there with Jesus at that moment, would in future time, behold the Temple demolished and completely destroyed in their day. We know that the event did occur in presumably the 37th year following 33 AD.
The Temple was completely destroyed; even the stones were broken apart because the Romans had heard rumors that, secreted in the joints of the masonry, were hidden gold and gems of great value. Thus not one stone was left standing upon another!
Luk 21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
Note well that there are two distinct questions in this sentence...
1. When shall these things be?
2. What sign will there be when these thing shall come to pass? Note that Matthew adds a phrase here: “... and of the end of the world?” But it is an additional aspect of the second question.
Jesus frames His answer in a narrative of things to come, leading them to the conclusions which He shall make ... the answers He shall give.
Luk 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
Luk 21:9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
As the already restive Jews grew more rebellious, anarchy also drew nearer. By 70AD their level of resistance had grown to the frame of a full-blown rebellion against Rome. There were many claiming to be the Messiah Who would lead them to victory over the Romans – just in the manner in which they had expected Messiah to appear when Jesus appeared among them as the Paschal Lamb – the polar opposite of a strong, rebellious leader, an emancipator, a physical savior. Instead, He must first fulfill His role as a spiritual Savior; he fulfilled that role perfectly in His personal life and sacrifice on the tree of Golgotha.
So He warned them not to follow after those false Messiahs – not to be deceived by their claims of being their Christ (Savior). His final phrase of vs. 8 indicated a certain crescendo of such claims as the culmination of that time approached.
He also warned that the time would be one of “wars and commotions” – of unrest and rebellion on every side. The events should grow to a terrifying level for those who had not received Jesus’ reassurance. But these events had to run their course ... and go on and on as if interminable. The end of this matter would be prolonged ... and exhaustive; but it must be met by them with patience.
Luk 21:10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
Luk 21:11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
His narrative seems to move forward to our end-times ... to an era of many wars between the nations of the earth. That description best fits the beginning years of the 20th century, when national mobility and mobilization rapidly had reached the efficiency levels to that of moving large armies over long distances, along with their supportive logistics of supplies, food, and ammunition.
It would be the era of enormous armies combating each other over vast distances and protracted time.
Nations and kingdoms would fall by the dozens ... recall that in WWI not only did the Austro-Hungarian Empire crumble – so did the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
In WWII the Third Reich was destroyed along with the Italian hegemony over many regions of Africa. The Japanese Empire was terminated by two unthinkably powerful explosions of a new thermal weapon of war – a weapon which brought into focus the possibility of the destruction of all mankind for the first time. The end was surely approaching!
At the same time there would be “great earthquakes” – physical tremors, subterranean rumblings – crustal shifts, including volcanic activity and physical tumult on land and sea, including tsunamis. Science has determined that the incidence of earthquakes and volcanoes has increased rapidly toward the end of Century 20 and into the beginning of Century 21.
The Pacific “Ring of Fire” has particularly awakened with an obvious increase in the incredible pressures of the various geographic “plates” which form its boundaries.
Pestilence and famine would be evident in a frequency more accelerated than ever before. A case in point at this moment is that of the enormous city-sized locust swarms of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula ... and stretching as far east as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The famine that is expected to result this year will be nearly unheard-of in human affairs – that compromise coming upon an indigent population that has historically been sub-standard in food production.
But there comes now another societal “earthquake” unprecedented in all human history – being revealed publicly only near the end of WWII – the Nazi Holocaust of 1933-1945: twelve years of intensive, intractable, unrelenting persecution and murder of God’s People in the nations of their dispersal. In an era of “enlightenment,” when the Jews were becoming more and more “assimilated” (or so they thought!), they were rounded up by thugs handling vicious police dogs and armed with official papers for the arrest and confinement (and murder) of the innocents of Europe – the lowly Jew, the accused perpetrator of every crime that could be conceived – poisoners of wells, thieves of the children of their Gentile neighbors, blood-libelers, subverters of whole governments, masters of financial manipulation, and master-cheaters in every field of endeavor.
The next verse accurately forecasts that time of extremity for the Jews. There was exercised a new twist in Jewish persecution (but it had been practiced at times in past history): the Jews of every village were herded together and forced to go into their local synagogue. The doors were barricaded ... and the building torched, burning alive all the screaming, terrified Jewish occupants of the village along with their Rabbi.
In addition, the Nazi regime constructed over six hundred “prisons” (concentration camps - see following verse) into which they entrained millions of the poor, destitute Jews of Europe under the pretense of “resettlement” for their own protection. Upon arrival at Bergen-Belsen, or Auschwitz, or Sobibor, they were immediately separated into (1) those who would be gassed and incinerated immediately and (2) the more able-bodied who would be enslaved and made to work on a sub-human diet until they dropped dead at their workplaces.
The Prophet Jeremiah wrote several lines in his prophetic scroll which tell the whole story:
Jeremiah 30:7 – “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his (the enemy’s) yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: 9 But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their King, whom I will raise up unto them.”
Yes, there will be some who deny the accuracy of that application; so be it. There has never in the annals of humanity been a similar period of intense, protracted, concentrated, needless, vehement persecution of any ethnic group that has approached the mendacity and tenaciousness of The Shoah of that era.
And now that millions of the Jewish People have reestablished their polity in the Promised Land, the possibility of a surpassing event being forced upon them is an impossibility – for, once they have “returned” to His Land (the land of the children of Israel), as he foretold in Micah 5: 3, no power on earth will ever be successful in persecuting them again (cf., Amos 9:11-14).
That physical return of the Jews to their Land constitutes the first stages of “returning” to God, as Micah 5: 3 says: God would abandon (give them up) UNTIL she who travailed would bring forth (i.e., the nation was reborn/resurrected), that ONLY THEN might they return. Every Bible student realizes that the People were required to wait for the expulsion of the Ottoman Turks before they would be permitted to return. Only then could the Almighty “... raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.”
Thus it has been!
May I point out the indelible words of Amos referred to above...
Amos 9:11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: 12 That they (Israel) may possess the remnant of Edom (the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.), and of all the heathen (including Moab and Ammon, and others), which are called by my name (Israel contains the most common name for God –el – in the entire Bible), saith the LORD that doeth this. 13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
That halcyon time, once attained, shall never end for Israel, for it is precursor to the Second Coming of God’s Son, and the physical and spiritual redemption of Israel, His People!
But returning to the immediate text, please note the faithful execution of this prophecy upon the People:
Luk 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
Luk 21:13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
Luk 21:14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
Luk 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
We believe the exigencies and hardships of the Jews would in some instances pass over to the People of the Ecclesia of Christ in a small but significant way. During WW I brethren of Christ were treated despicably for the sake of Christ – forced to wear the army uniform, subjected to demeaning tasks, beaten by their fellows, persecuted for bearing the name of Christ – which was their honor. A well-known booklet testifies to the maltreatment of one such member; its title is A Test Case for Canada.
Others have said that the scriptural answers demanded of them by the governmental authorities (draft boards, etc.) seemed to have been given them divinely as they stood their ground and refused to be inducted into the military forces. After all is said and done, no advanced preparation (no effective meditation) could have been made for most of the questions aimed at us! Those sincere words of deeply held faith cannot have failed to leave a mark upon the Inquisitors...
Luk 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
Luk 21:17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
Luk 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
All these dreaded results fell upon Jews over the ages.
But they were suffered by Gentile believers in Christ as well.
As to vs. 16, we think of the vapid but fatal convictions even of the parents of some Objectors to the teachings of the Church of the Middle Ages for example. Many were put to death and not protected by their own parents! These faithful ones were indeed hated of all men for the sake of Jesus...
The last phrase of vs. 18 does not protect one from personal hurt or discomfort – both psychological and physical – but it indicates that they should survive these temporal blows and overcome them even to life in the future age.
Temporal deliverance, no matter how much desired, was not forthcoming for some, even as in the ages of extreme persecution such as the Catholic Inquisition – the most notable period that is thinkable for Believers of all ages. The recorded words of Jesus by Luke address all those years and include, in our opinion, all Believers as well as the Jews.
The next several verses seem to move abruptly backward in time to Jesus’ day. He warns His listeners – both the everyday Jews of Judea and the Baptized believers ... they must persist against the enemy; and persistence requires patience.
Luk 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
Luk 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Luk 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
The immediate future would bring “the days of vengeance” as He writes in the next verse. The preparatory months would see a great Roman army led by General Vespasian encompass Jerusalem, taking up positions of offense, preparing to overrun the City and destroy its people.
But suddenly, the Romans withdrew – allowing a time-slot of withdrawal from the city intended in vs. 21 – a time to “depart out” of the City and escape. Events in Rome (the suicide of Nero) demanded that Vespasian return to Rome to be made emperor, but the new monarch continued the policies of his predecessors – the overthrow of the Jewish revolt in Judea!
Josephus Flavius, I am told, wrote that none of the Christian followers of Jesus were taken by surprise when the Romans returned the second time with a vengeance under General Titus. All of them had fled the City and were delivered from the death and destruction that was coming!
You see, it DOES make a difference just what we believe and act upon!
Luk 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance (for their rejection of Jesus, 37 years earlier), that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
The “things written” were largely the prophecies of Moses in Deuteronomy 28: 15-68, which would befall a disobedient People in the coming years of servitude and desolation. They would terminate in the dispersion of His People to all the countries of the earth for nearly interminable time to come, ominously termed “the times of the Gentles.”
But these shall be “fulfilled.”
And the fortunes of His People should turn about abruptly and permanently!
Luk 21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
Luk 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
At the terminal point of all those terrible punishments for disobedience, His people would begin to see signs of hope. These “signs” would be both heavenly and earthly: “... in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.” But they would not be confined to the heavens, for also “upon the earth (should there be) distress of nations ... with perplexity – the seas and the waves of humanity roaring. The word is G-2278, echeo (ay-kheh-‘o) which means to reverberate, to roar, to make a loud noise. The “noise” of the end-time could not be better described – a time in which every weak nation claims to be “strong,” and outlandish claims are made by the puniest of peoples.
Luk 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
The era of supreme unrest would be unprecedented in human history. Wars would rage and multitudes be slain in the name of heathen philosophies such as Fascism, Communism, Japanese Imperialism, and Islam. There would be no pretense of a human solution of these difficulties.
Then, later, came an unknown and invisible invader – a living, one cell organism of 120nm (nanometers) diameter on average, and covered with unusual projections similar to golf tees covering its bizarre surface. It would become known as Coronaviurus-19 or Covid-19. It would strike fear and dread into the hearts of every man and pervade the earth as none had done before. It would quickly strike the old and the vulnerable population – those compromised already in some way – and take down tens of thousands of victims across the world. Its prospect was to be more virulent than the plague of 1917-1919 (Spanish Influenza); and it had no known medicinal enemy – no therapy, no vaccine, no remedy. It was a fearful plague which effectively quarantined half the world’s population.
The next phrases of Luke’s record came suddenly to the front of the line of challenges, literally causing men’s hearts to fail them for fear (some committed suicide rather than face it) for the coming plague. And the powers of heaven – the political heavens this time – were incredibly shaken (and stirred, and poured out, and dissipated) with the prospects.
Luk 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
We believe the history of mankind has now reached the passing events of verse 26 ... and that perhaps the next great event will be the “Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory!” Only the length of our wait is unknown...
Luk 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
The Master’s words as recorded by Luke now spell out the most definitive “sign” of all these omens – the “shooting forth” of THE Fig Tree (Israel) and all the trees (the nations round about Israel which were formed artificially in the same time frame as Israel – the proximate Islamic States of the Levant).
This would be the sign of “summer” – a fitting reference to the times of refreshing spoken of by Peter in Acts 3: 19, in which he strongly advised his hearers to ... Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and told them without hesitancy of the Event of the Ages which should bring this about ... Acts 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
Let’s listen to his words...
Luk 21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
The Olivet Prophecy is, in my opinion, perhaps the most difficult of all the Biblical prophecies – the most difficult to unravel when the various accounts (three in all) are placed side by side. It is a comparison which I have not been capable of reconciling to my own satisfaction, upon every attempt. So I have decided on this brief commentary on the longest and most detailed of the three accounts (that of Luke) ... and to leave further reconciliation to other, more capable minds. It may be a relatively simple task, but so far it has eluded all my efforts.
<>HEL ~3800 words. An eTPL30 Analysis Published April 13, 2020
June: Increasing Threats to Israel from Hezbollah and Jordan
An eTPL30 Analysis
May 29, 2020
Events tending toward conflict between Israel and its enemies round about are rapidly accelerating, which we observe through the lens of Bible prophecy as rushing headlong toward the confrontation that the prophets foretold universally for the end-time.
It is as if the birth-pangs are coming closer and closer together – and with increasing intensity...
Bellicose “warnings” of a “great war” are flowing out of Lebanon at a much faster rate as Israel continues to patrol the skies over Lebanon regularly. The big political dog in Lebanon is now Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, whose parliamentary faction practically controls the destiny of the small enclave. Yesterday Nasrallah warned Israel that any airstrike on members of Hezbollah in Lebanon would “not pass without a response.” Ominously, he added that Hezbollah has “military capabilities that did not exist before 2006.” He added that it would be "the end of Israel."
All these threats are accelerated by Israel pressing forward with its plan to annex 30% of the so-called “West Bank” – i.e., Judea, Samaria, the Jordan River frontier and the northern Dead Sea.
That decision is thought to be in staunch acceptance by Israel of the Trump “Deal of the Century” on all counts.
It has not set well with King Abdullah II of Jordan either, who has said it could be “disastrous” for the peace treaty that has been in effect between Jordan and Israel for several decades. He is understandably exercised by this affront to the Pales******* because nearly 70% of Jordan’s population is made up of Arabs who formerly inhabited Judea, Samaria, and the other portions of what is today Israel. So there is a constant undercurrent of unrest in Jordan that is always simmering just under the boiling point...
However, Hezbollah and Jordan combined can possibly wage an effective war against Israel ... and they are well aware of that fact.
That notion might hold more hope if these two powers were joined by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. And markedly so if they were joined (as they would be) by the forces of the PLO which now nominally control the “West Bank,” and its sympathizers who number hundreds of thousands of Israeli Arabs in Israel proper – a scattered force which would have to be reckoned with by Israel in any such a conflict...
The two terrorist groups (Hamas and Hezbollah) are reputed to have more than 200,000 missiles mounted on launchers and ready to send into Israel on a moment’s notice. These could not be defended against by the missile shields that Israel now has in place; Israeli defenses would be overwhelmed.
Many of these rockets have now been converted to “smart missiles,” which have been modified to utilize the GPS navigational network. This means that they would no longer be flying blindly toward Israeli territory, but doubtlessly would be targeted on cities such as Tel Aviv and Haifa – and on the Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona.
The PLO Executive Committee met in Ramallah on Thursday where it was addressed by its Secretary-General Saeb Erekat who told the Jerusalem Post that the Pales****** leadership was in “marathon discussions and intensive contacts” with several friendly countries to bring them up to date on the perceived dangers of the Israeli annexation plan. They believe their only hope of thwarting it is to gather an international coalition that will reject Israel’s intention to annex the land.
At the same meeting, the PLO Executive Committee re-stated PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent announcement that “all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US” are now renounced (Jerusalem Post). We should say that condition is not new; the PLO has long since abandoned the stated principles of the so-called Oslo Accords reached with Yasser Arafat in 1993 in Washington.
Nasrallah was quick to invoke Syrian concern as well. He said that although the leaders of Syria believe it not to be in their best interest to involve itself in a war with Israel, that the "patience and endurance of the Syrian leadership with Israeli aggression has limits."
All these increased threats are being triggered by Israel’s steadfastly moving forward with plans for the annexation which Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu promised if re-elected. Well, he has been “re-elected” in a strange kind of (divine?) way (by huge, broad and unlikely compromises with political foes) and has been installed as prime minister for the next 18 months, after which he will be succeeded by General Benny Gantz (Blue and White party).
Netanyahu is strongly driven by his own political savvy – by which we mean that he realizes that he had better consummate the annexation of territory quickly, before President Donald Trump reaches the end of his first term – because there is an outside chance that Mr. Trump could lose the election (that possibility always exists).
Such an outcome could mean accession to the US executive position by a member of the Democratic Party, which has morphed into an anti-Israel, socialist group of advocates influenced by the likes of congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka “AOC”).
Bibi Netanyahu reasons that if the annexation shall have been successfully accomplished by early November, that there is no possibility of any incoming US administration successfully reversing it within the international community (the UNO) or in any other way. It will be a “done deal.”
Observe carefully now how Israel is being boxed into a tighter and tighter corner – the real-time threats of the Islamic peoples round about them increasing by the day and hour! The threats that the Arabs are making are a clear statement of their concrete intentions – just as the assertions of Adolf Hitler boldly set forth in Mein Kampf also were statements of true and deadly intent against the Jews of Europe.
The Trigger Point of the Second Advent
Our consideration of this entire affair is influenced by our understanding of the Trigger Point of the Second Advent – an event which will lead to the direct, personal intervention of the returned LORD Jesus Christ in the political turmoil of the Middle East – an intervention which will in our view accomplish, firstly, the physical liberation of His People from the oppression and threats of the nations round about Israel...
The prophecy is found in Isaiah 59. Isaiah’s scroll voices the almost poetic realization of affairs of Israel with its neighboring states in the end-time.
Israel has only half-heartedly defeated its Islamic enemies since 1973, when its final victory was swift and decisive – and proved to the world that Israeli ambition and armament could take care of any such threats (by God’s grace – but that was unrecognized by many Israelis).
Since that time Israel has seemed to be almost half-hearted in its own defense, allowing missiles and fire balloons and terrorists to enter its territories with seemingly limpid and inadequate responses.
Isaiah’s prophecy seems to indicate the Almighty’s rather dim view of this response from His People: Isaiah 59:16 - And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him.17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon His head; and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly, He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompence to His enemies; to the islands He will repay recompence.
And how shall this be accomplished?
The prophet’s next phrases, in our opinion, outline the triggering events of the Return: they forecast Israel’s future universal “fear” (respect, admiration, loyalty) for the name of the LORD from the west ... to the rising of the sun – an entirely new mien for Israel indicating their newly-discovered truth about their Messiah which had gone unrecognized for 2,000 years ... that Jesus Christ IS that Messiah whom they thought to have slain forever – now returned to them as Joseph of old, forgiving, gracious, magnanimous and unimaginably powerful, to “save (us) from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us” as Zacharias the priest prophesied of the babe which Mary should bear (Luke 1: 71).
Their resultant, newly-adopted faith in Him, and their professed recognition of Him, is recognized in the next phrases...
Isaiah 59:19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a Standard against him.20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.
One might argue that Israel shall not have “turned from transgression,” meaning, we believe, their insistence that Jesus was NOT Messiah when He came at the first: their denial of Him as Savior (Messiah).
But as Zechariah 12 and 13 foretell, that recognition of Him will burst to the forefront of their conscience when they behold His supreme might and power, His lightning victory over an enemy that they had been reluctant (or possibly unable) to combat – and the nail-prints in His hands! – Unmistakable marks concretely identifying the One Who shall have intervened in their extremely dangerous circumstances of that day.
What is that dangerous circumstance?
It seems to be exactly what the enemies round about Israel are today drumming to the world: that they intend to overrun Israel with its sheer force of arms (missiles) and fleshly efforts – with endless human waves of their feeble forces (“Let the weak say, I am strong!” Joel 3:10).
How can we be sure of that outcome?
Well, that’s easy! The Redeemer shall have come to Zion – the clearest statement of the Second Coming to be found in the Old Testament!
And that momentous event results in a “saving” that far transcends the physical deliverance of Israel from its enemies on the ground. It brings the immediate bestowal of a New Covenant with them in accord with the next verse ... and their sure habitation of the First Dominion of the Kingdom of God on the earth!
Isaiah 59:21 As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.
People so blessed, and endowed with His favor and compassion cannot fail to be successful, and to give eternally to the Almighty the praise and the recognition and the appreciation that He demands ... and which He deserves!
<HEL> ~1800 words. An eTPL30 Analysis. Published as June eTPL prophecy article: May 29 2020...
July: Hearts, Brains, and Hearing
Well did the Psalmist say, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14
Under the particular scrutiny of those marvellous works is the sense of hearing, being one of the five senses with which humans have been endowed.
Ideas are transmitted via the agency of words: not exclusively by words, but words are the pre-eminent means. A man wishing to convey a thought to another often does so by the medium of words, be they written or spoken; the words comprise the thoughts that a man wishes to convey from his intellectual centre to another man’s intellectual centre.
This operation is often done by uttering words vocally, a marvellous process.
One man speaks words by uttering sounds with volume, frequency, annunciation, and tonality. The person to which he is speaking receives the words through his ears. The ears have a wee drum which has its own little drum stick that exactly replicates the volume, frequency, annunciation and tonality of the words being heard, and then relays the thoughts to the brain which stores them in the appropriate compartment of the brain for future recall.
Then the brain does a most extraordinary thing: it sends the received data to the heart for moral processing. The heart will assess the data and relay that judgment to the brain. The brain will then direct the legs, meaning the direction of physical activity based on the data input from the heart and brain.
The Heart-Brain Communication has been the subject of extensive studies in recent years of which the following is the executive summary of one such study.
“Traditionally, the study of communication pathways between the head and heart has been approached from a rather one-sided perspective, with scientists focusing primarily on the heart’s responses to the brain’s commands. We have learned, however, that communication between the heart and brain is actually a dynamic, ongoing, two-way dialogue, with each organ continuously influencing the other’s function. Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in four major ways: neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions). Communication along all these conduits significantly affects the brain’s activity. Moreover, our research shows that messages the heart sends to the brain also can affect performance.”
Reiterating, the heart communicates with the brain and body in four ways:
Neurological communication (nervous system)
Biochemical communication (hormones)
Biophysical communication (pulse waves)
Energetic communication (electromagnetic fields)
It is safe to conclude that as the brain is the seat of the intellect, so the heart is the seat of morality, influencing the brain's ultimate resolve in the decision-making process.
It is to be noted that the Hebrew understanding of words per se differs significantly from that of a 21st century Gentile of western culture. Whereas a Gentile regards a word as a somewhat ethereal entity that serves its function and then dissipates into the ether, a Hebrew considers a word to be a concrete and tactile entity that once uttered exists and remains a relevant force forever.
The Hebrew gets this reality from the very process of creation.
Gen_1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Note that there was no process or angelic involvement in the act of creation, God “breathed out” a command and his breathed-out word became a concrete reality, viz., “and God said….” Whatever God said became a concrete, tactile reality.
Note that, “and God said” is stated eight times in Genesis 1, and on each occasion whatever God said immediately became a reality.
Genesis1:6 “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.”
Gen_1:14 “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Gen_1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
Gen_1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
Gen_1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
It is to be noted that what God said immediately came into existence without any creative process; what God said simply became a tactile, concrete reality. That is, the breathed-out Word of God is the pure definition of Holy Spirit power … the power of God engrafted into God’s servants at their baptism. Luke 3:16 “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:”
Note: “baptize you with the Holy Ghost” – indicates God’s Word engrafted into His children.
1Samuel 3:19 “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.”
One can imagine the young Samuel catching God’s words as tangibles for spiritual ingestion, so they didn’t fall to the ground. Samuel was internalising God’s words.
The Scriptures engage our inquires because of how many times the words harken, hear, heard, and hearing, plus the responses of those who hear, make their appearances with such frequency.
Of particular note is the fact that the expression “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear” appears sixteen times in the scriptures, once in the Old Testament and fifteen times in the New Testament. Of the fifteen times in the New Testament, it was expressed by the Lord Jesus on every occasion, a fact that gives the expression most particular stress that commands our attention.
We may also note that significantly, the seven letters addressed to the seven Ecclesias of Revelation chapters two and three include that expression. We may well note that all people (with the exception of those who are hearing-impaired – or who are intellectually impaired) have “ears” capable of utilizing the sense of hearing; there is no physical or practical reason preventing anyone with ears not to hear. Yet we note that the expression includes this caveat: “he that hath ears to hear.”
So then we must of necessity conclude that there are those with ears who don’t hear.
Well may we ask, “how can this be so?” It is a truly worthwhile enquiry, and satisfying the enquiry with the solution not only answers the query, but it also discloses the depth of the intimacy that the Father of lights desires to have with his children.
We need to be very aware that it is by the Father’s grace that those who claim God’s paternity over them are given, “hearts to perceive,” “eyes to see,” and “ears to hear” – and that there are those with hearts, eyes and ears to which God denies perception of His word and His works.
Consider the words of Moses from his third and final address to the children of Israel prior to his death and to the children of Israel crossing over the Jordan into the Land proper under Joshua: Deuteronomy 29:2 “And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; 29:3 The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: 4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.”
God Himself has withheld perceptions from hearts, eyes, and ears … and this amongst the people whom He regards as His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22).
It is the Prophet Ezekiel that discloses why perceptions are withheld: Ezekiel 12:2 “Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, the house of Israel, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.”
Those who choose to rebel against God’s “word” will forfeit the God-given gift of ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to understand. Though well able physically to hear the words spoken, they will be unable to perceive the Word’s meaning and consequently the Word’s implications.
As God withholds the knowledge that words impart, so He is also able to impart knowledge without the recipient actually having heard the words being spoken to him, or having read them in his studies.
Matthew 16:13 “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? ‘14 And they said, ‘Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.’ 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.’”
Peter’s response had not come to him by human agency, neither by the spoken word or the written Word. It had been engrafted into his consciousness without his being aware that he had received it. If we are locked into the thinking that all we know about God’s word has come to us because of the finely tuned sophistry of our intellect or our diligence in study, we are claiming we are saved by works, that our own hand has saved us.
God’s word tells us something different!
James, the Lord’s half-brother, grew up in the same household as Jesus Himself. Joseph had fallen asleep in death, and as Jesus was firstborn, He had assumed the role of head of the house. We can take it as we read it – that so much of what James writes were lessons he heard around the dinner table. James then offers this vital information in his epistle.
James 1:21 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
James discloses that the Word of God is “engrafted” as one of the means of imparting the knowledge of the Word.
Jesus Himself does so also, in words that are difficult to misinterpret. He details for us that the “things of the Kingdom” grow within His children without the children knowing how … or are even aware of it. Mark 4:23 “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”
God will give to a man whatever he wants to hear, and whatever he wants to listen to.
If a man wants to listen to the word of God in great measure then he will be given the word in even larger quantities than he asked for: “Unto you that hear shall more be given.”
Genesis 2:16 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
That commandment was issued to Adam before Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs. Eve was the first being that was not created directly from the earth. Eve was not present when God issued that command. It is important to remember that Eve was subordinate to Adam and it was Adam that told her of God’s command.
Eve was supposed to (and was created to be) “an helpmate” for Adam, and was to obey his word. We know what happened. Along came the serpent with his blandmishment, “Ye shall not surely die.” You eat that fruit and you will be the same as the Elohim, the serpent claimed.
Eve listened to the word of the Serpent and dismissed the word of God, hence the Master’s directions to His servants, “take heed what ye hear.”
This was the first and fateful sin in the Garden. God has given His Word, a Commandment issued to Adam from God, and passed on to Eve by Adam; but Eve did not take heed to what she heard, and then regrettably, Adam ALSO harkened to the word of the Serpent related to him by Eve!
Our Master has left for us a most extraordinary truth , and related it to us in Mark’s narrative: Mark 4:26 “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”
The Master is not giving a lesson in horticulture but was using the planting and growth to maturity of the planted corn seed as analogous to the steadily growing seed of God’s Kingdom within His children, those with ears to hear.
The man plants his seed and goes about his routine of day to day activities – the managing of a Godly family home life and tending to his crops and herds, As he does so, even while he sleeps, the corn grows and he “knows not how.”
So it is with the words of God’s Kingdom growing within the man, even as he sleeps, and he “knows not how.”
Such an embracing expression of the depth and intimacy of the Father’s love for His children … engrafting His Word into the hearts and minds of those with eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to understand, all characteristics that God Himself has gifted to His children and based on the reality that these children have chosen to hear God’s words to the exclusion of all other words!
Such a profound intimacy between a Father and his children, and such a profound expression of God’s abiding love for His children! It is a reality that causes his children to know that all that we need to serve God acceptably originates in God and is gifted to us by Him.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that the article of Faith, the gift of God to His children, involves the whole man. The intellect, the emotions, and the physique must all be working in perfect unison and in the order as noted above.
There must first be an intellectual comprehension of God’s requirement of us. (Intellectual)
Comprehension must then result in identifying the moral imperative. (Emotional)
Moral imperatives will then result in Godly activity. (Physical).
Intellectually, Emotionally and Physically … the whole man is involved in the expression of faithfulness: Romans 4:6 “ Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
All these result in the carefully nurtured faith that God has gifted to His elect. The sins of the elect are forgiven, covered and not imputed to them. Such a glorious blessing!
1Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you: but ye are washed (made and declared clean), but ye are sanctified (set apart for a special purpose), but ye are justified (declared to be righteous) in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (which dwells within us).”
Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed (we know not how) belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (walking by faith).” <> As submitted by PH. ~2900 words. Published by permission…
August: Fear, Panic, Rage ... and Violence
An eTPL31 Exposition
In times like today, in which a frightening pandemic rages through the world, fear is widely generated. It is partially because of the unknown factors of the disease – its invisibility, its potential lethality, its possibility of being anywhere, and of one catching it from nearly anyone.
A well-known result of fear is panic – not knowing where to turn or what course to take forward.
If that emotion persists and becomes severe, often rage develops as a result of the panic – a lethal mixture of fear, panic, and rage.
At that point in the cycle, almost anything can happen; irrational behavior, personal suspicion, xenophobia, hatred, and even unprovoked personal attacks are possible.
That is our concern during the present crisis.
Whether it was generated by fear we cannot tell, but a somewhat similar scenario developed when, in Minneapolis a handcuffed black man already in police custody and unarmed was killed by prolonged pressure on the arteries in his neck. George Floyd was essentially murdered while in custody. The result was a degree of panic among members of his community which took the designation of Black Lives Matter … and immediate enragement toward the policemen who perpetrated this crime. The incident has led to demonstrations both nationwide and worldwide among sympathizers – demonstrations which are ongoing even today, including pillaging, looting and burning – wanton destruction of the private property and lives of innocent people in the vicinity of the incident as well as far distant from it as well. Like so many human faults, it is both irrational and inexcusable.
Previous to this incident we have witnessed the similar development of the #MeToo Movement which resulted primarily from accusations of a movie producer, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual abuse of multiple women in the movie industry. It was reinforced by the revelation of numerous crimes by Bill Cosby against many female acquaintances; he is still in prison after being convicted.
Both of these incidents have moved forward to the ultimate state of rage among many people who have personally adopted the causes and been motivated to become violent activists against them.
Violence. That’s the active word here, the fourth member of the deadly syndrome.
Back to our consideration of the pandemic – we wonder when violence will result from the frustrations of the shutdowns and restrictions which governments have imposed on citizens for their own protection. Civil disobedience of government-prescribed protective measures has already been widely observed – and these may be the first stages of the terminal reaction: violence.
We refer to wantonly careless mass gatherings at bars, parties and on beaches by huge groups of people who are not following the guidelines of self-distancing, face-masking, and avoidance of contact with others. They seem to believe that their actions can have no adverse effects – that somehow they are personally immune to the virus!
But let’s be honest in this consideration. From the beginning day of being alerted to the oncoming breakout of sickness, there was no ‘correct’ way to handle this new viral infection.
There was absolutely no rational basis for ANY proposed solution in those earliest days except self-isolation; there was no vaccine against it; there was no known medicinal agent that was effective against it; even the clinical management of the disease could not have been realized in the first stages (no one knew in advance, for example, that many of the hospitalized patients would require respiratory assistance (ventilators), and that these were nearly non-existent in the numbers that would be needed). No one could have believed that the number of intensive care facilities was far short of what would soon be needed. Or that there would be a woeful shortage of simple items such as protective face masks, face shields, and personal protective items of clothing.
The first thought which springs to mind in the medical community with any such challenge is: stay away from it – as far away from it as possible. Isolate. Self-distance … no matter how inconvenient or difficult … for ultimate protection … at least until some basic clinical determinations can be arrived at.
The result of even the somewhat limited ‘mixing’ of the populous has resulted in the pandemic coming roaring back to life in a second wave of infections (or perhaps it is an extension of the first wave? – no matter).
And that abrupt resurgence has triggered serious consideration of reversing the tentative openings of the society that have been authorized.
The world is in deep trouble … but many folk simply do not seem to understand it, or believe it.
The coronavirus exhibits no feelings whatever. Every warm human body is its target … rich or poor, in good health or compromised in some measure; it is pan-racial. It is non-selective in every sense, although certain ethnic groups have been markedly more affected than others (reason? – unknown). And in certain random cases, after-effects of grave implications mysteriously persist in many victims even after they are considered as being recovered from the infection … shortness of breath, weakness, anatomical lung changes, pulmonary hypertension, strokes, and blood clots in various organ systems.
A New Thing in the Medical World
We are witnessing a ‘new thing’ in the medical world, dear readers. As we have already stated (in previous articles) we personally believe that the Almighty is issuing some of His final warnings to the world in general – to that wonderfully diverse society of beings that He has created and to whom He has given life and an expected range of existence.
Most of all, He has offered immortality to any who will seek out His Plan and dedicate himself to its pursuit. But in so doing, a degree of self-sacrifice is necessary, and that seems to be the strongest deterrent to widespread acceptance of His offer!
But there are other serious factors. Mankind in general has either ignored God’s will in these matters and prefers to go his own way perhaps because the ultimate outcome does not become apparent for a long time. Even when the end of life comes for many folk, they blatantly deny its reality, insisting on their own ignorant expectation of an infinite extension of their life in an heavenly paradise in direct contradiction of several of the teachings of God’s Son, the Lord, Jesus Christ.
That latter practice – corruption of His word – seems worse than one’s ignoring it; because they not only have neglected His will … they have superimposed their own will upon His stated laws of life and death.
And the same principle applies to matters of civil conduct. For centuries mankind followed the dictates of his flesh and broke God’s laws of morality on an individual basis.
Then something drastically changed.
In the mid-twentieth century several nations passed laws allowing a practice which had been forbidden for centuries among ‘civilized’ nations – the abortion of unborn children on a legally-allowed basis, approved of by lawmakers on a nationally-recognized basis.
It was a new departure from the earlier individual disobedience of God’s principles.
Another drastic change inexplicably was instituted – one which had been forbidden in ‘civilized’ countries for thousands of years – the several conventions of sexual deviation, including homosexuality, bestiality, lesbianism, transsexualism, and same-sex ‘marriage.’
Until only a few decades ago, all these practices were condemned in ‘proper’ cultures (and officially still are in Islam, for example, although widely present in that culture, according to the best information). Although all of them were personally indulged in by individuals in private, their general acceptance was not sanctioned in polite society.
That, too, has changed. All those illegitimate pursuits are now legally allowed by many nations as a matter of lawfully sanctioned conduct. The rebellion against the Almighty’s clearly stated principles of morality are being flouted by entire nations on legal grounds.
The Ten Tribes of Israel were overrun and taken captive and scattered into Assyria (after many had been killed in their war of desolation) directly due to their infatuation with Ba’al, Molech and Ashtaroth – the stone idols of those idolatrous neighbors round about her – representing a ‘religion’ which involved not only sexual immorality of every sort, but inclusive of infant sacrifice as well – a practice parallel to today’s license for fetal abortion.
The practice will not be tolerated by the Almighty for long as has already been demonstrated by His utter destruction of the entire human population (except eight souls) by water in the time of Noah, and in the incineration of Sodom and Gomorrah during the time of Lot. Those demonstrations should be reason enough for mankind’s avoidance of those practices.
The Principle may be Coming Home
All the above examples of acceptable crumbling social or moral norms have been a result of the resistance of a fraction of society against the mainstream conviction of what is right and proper in many cases.
We can see a similar wave of discontent in our own community which we need to discuss on a mature spiritual plane.
Brethren worldwide have long voiced a desire to see our global community become one in name and creed; these have been preponderantly of the “Amended” persuasion, but not entirely.
Proponents have achieved at least nominal “reunion” over most of the globe except in North America where a small group of believers called “Unamended” members reside.
In the mid-twentieth century a continent-wide effort was mounted to discuss reunion between the two parties with some seeming success at first. Committees were appointed by a congress of the Ecclesias to represent the two camps on a sanctioned basis. The committees were composed of seasoned, experienced, knowledgeable brethren of both spheres of influence.
Some success seemed to be forthcoming. But in the end, just when the seal of approval was about to be attached to the agreement, members of the Amended group voiced the sentiment to their Unamended counterparts, “Welcome to the Amended fellowship!”
But that had not been the agreement, the details of which are much too complex to elaborate here.
The writer was not directly involved in the negotiations but was strongly associated with the Unamended committee members and received accurate reports of their experiences. It followed that the Amended brethren had misapprehended the agreement to some extent and drawn the wrong conclusions.
The initiative ended abruptly at that time and the committees disbanded.
But the desire of a few holdouts to “reunite” did not expire. Certain brethren of both parties desired to carry forward the initiative in extended discussions.
One or two seemingly valid sporadic conferences were held … and seemed to reflect some progress; but then, they too ended without agreement.
None of these subsequent discussions were held under the sanctions of the majority of the Ecclesias of both parties. In a sense they were “kangaroo” approaches carried out at the ‘grass-roots’ level; but be that as it may.
Eventually an initiative known as the North American Statement of Unity (NASU) was arrived at and was touted as holding the solution to actual reunion between the two groups.
Without going into extensive detail, the printed documents were circulated to all Ecclesias whether or not they had been involved – or even in favor of further discussions – and these were asked to review the agreements and discuss them in depth on the Ecclesia level.
The reaction in both the Amended group and the Unamended group was mixed.
Several Ecclesias in both camps responded right away by acceptance of the documents as a reasonable pathway for further discussion. Others did not respond right away so it was assumed the documents were under consideration. Still other Ecclesias viewed the documents as inadequate to their concerns and rejected them outrightly. I recall that about thirty Unamended Ecclesias rejected the NASU documents and opted out of further discussion. Some (I should say most) noted internally conflicting statements of ‘responsibility’ of various degrees and offered that reason as their grounds for rejection. But a deeper current involved the definition of the nature of man.
But the NASU committees persisted. They arbitrarily offered the holdouts a period of three years to ‘come around’ for lack of a better term. But the resistance did not relent.
I seem to recall that near the end of that period of time, when the holdouts had not agreed to accept the NASU documents, some changes were made and a new set of agreements was issued under the title NA08 (my recollection may be a bit inadequate here, so bear with me). It essentially changed nothing in the Unamended holdouts’ view but seemed to indicate that the NA08 folks were not giving up – that they ‘would be back.’
The result has been disappointing to many in both camps. I am told that recently a North American denominational publication carried an article in which it was revealed that a significant number of our brethren have just given up and walked away from their local congregations. I have personally not read the article but heard of it from a reliable source.
Is that reaction to the seemingly impossible ‘reunion’ effort a result of fear? … or is it already rage? Could it lead to violence?
Such a drastic move away from one’s long-term affiliations seems to be born more of rage than mere fear. And we wonder whether the next step might be about to be unleashed … violence!
We do not expect physical violence … at least, not at first. But ‘violence’ can take many forms, such as vilification and accusation, unchecked disfellowshipping, avoidance of former brethren.
Some folk will just not accept rejection of their desires for others to conform to their demands.
The result has even split families in the most heart-rending ways. I will not go into further details.
Can the failure of some Unamendeds to agree with the UA08 lead to even greater animosity … or violence?
We do not know. But we fear that our fractured community has not heard the last of this messy disagreement – this failure of a few to capitulate to the demands of the many.
But as for me, dear ones, I am one of those who deeply believes all these ‘solutions’ are and have been unworkable – and present me with the moral necessity to reject what I believe to be unscriptural views of some key doctrinal matters. It is a matter of my own personal salvation in my view.
As for me, I will not give up one jot or tittle of The Truth as I learned it and believe it to be valid.
To do so would be to turn away from what I believe to be the valid corridors of salvation so graciously offered by our Master and the Apostles in their New Testament teachings, unto another master … but to whom? Thou, oh Lord, hast the words of salvation! We can turn to no other…
We have already witnessed the fear of those who seek to impose their view of a basis for reunion; it seems to be a morbid fear of losing control over others. And we have seen evidence of the rage and the violence that has been generated by that fear. And we want no part of it. We must stand with a firm decision made upon the basis of the scriptures of truth as we understand them. <>HEL ~2,550 words. An eTPL31 Exposition. Published July 26, 2020, in the Prophecy section of The Prophecy Letter.
September: THE GLORY DEPARTS
[ N. B. This article is presented as a timely consideration that the Glory of God's presence with His people is about to be realized once more ... with the personal return of the Lord, Jesus Christ to the earth. In that spirit we commend this discussion for your study. - Ed.]
The ministry of Ezekiel was one of extreme rigour and great personal hardship. It was undertaken at one of the two lowest ebbs of Jewish history, those of the Babylonian and Roman exiles, yet, amongst all the doom and gloom Ezekiel gave a certainty of future glory for the remnant. It was Ezekiel’s lot to advise Judah that David’s throne was to be abolished because of relentless idolatry, yet it was also his lot to advise both Judah and Israel that there was to be a restoration of David’s throne and that the Kingdoms reunited would be subjected in glory to the King of glory. He also advised them that the restoration of David’s Throne was to be a long time into the dim and distant future.
Judah’s continuing defiance of God was the reason for the Kingdoms demise. It had also been the reason for the demise of the Northern Kingdom of Israel 135 years earlier, an object lesson lost on Judah. The history of both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah throw the goodness and severity of God into bold relief.
Israel had rejected God as King and ceased to be a Theocracy, in which Yahweh Himself was King. Israel became an Autocracy ruled by a succession of mortal kings.
By way of background to the final overthrow of the Kingdom as related by Ezekiel consider the following.
Taken from the beginning of Saul’s ascension to the throne to the final overthrow of the southern Kingdom of Judah, a period of 433 years elapses. At the death of Solomon the Independent northern Kingdom of Israel separated from the southern Kingdom of Judah.
Israel had 19 Kings over a period of 298 years, Judah had 20 Kings over a period of 433 years.
Between both Kingdoms the 39 kings ruled for a combined total of 731 years. Of the 39 kings only seven received the Divine approbation, which is to say only seven of the 39 Kings were described as having done “that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh.” None of the approved Kings were from the Northern Kingdom. The combined total of the years the approved Kings reigned was 234 of the 731 year total.
The bald statistics are that the Kingdoms were ruled over by evil Kings for 68% of their existence. Only 18% of the Kings received divine approbation. These were God’s Kingdoms and God’s Thrones and God’s land, the land that had been covenanted to Abraham and his seed.
Not a very good record.
As Paul was to tell the Corinthians and us, 1Corinthians 10:11: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition,”
Ezekiel himself was of the tribe of Levi and belonged to the Aaronic priesthood. In BC597 he was taken into exile along with 10,000 others along with King Jehoiachin: 2Kings 24:14 – “And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land. 15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.”
Ezekiel’s wife was taken with him and they were settled in a Jewish enclave named Tel Abib near the river Chebar, most likely a tributary of the River Euphrates, about 100 Km south of Babylon.
The Jews of the exile amongst whom Ezekiel lived were as obstinately defiant of God’s Word as those that remained in the land. The record of Ezekiel makes that very plain,
Ezekiel 33:30 – “Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.”
The people loved to hear that which they acknowledged as the Word of Yahweh from the lips of Ezekiel, they pretended to be thoroughly moved to love, but they clung to their idolatry and self serving ways. “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (Matt 15:8)
Ezekiel addresses himself to Israel. Though ministering in the Kingdom of Judah his prophetic utterances embrace both northern and southern Kingdoms.
The people of Judah had seen the example of the dissolution of the northern Kingdom of Israel as God’s punishment for their incessant idolatry. The northern Kingdom had been removed in three readily identifiable phases.
First there was the removal of portions of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh during the reign of Menahem by Pul, the King of Assyria, recorded in 1 Chronicles 5:26.
Phase two saw the removal of people from the tribe of Naphtali and those of the region of Galilee during the reign of Pekah by Tiglath Pileser of Assyria as recorded in 2 Kings 15:29.
The third and final phase and the complete dissolution of the Northern Kingdom were brought about by Shalamanezer, when Sargon was King of Assyria. He besieged Samaria, capital of the kingdom, and removed captives from all over the land to Assyria. 2 Kings 17:6 and 18:9-12.
The lessons of the staged dissolution of the Northern Kingdom were lost on those of the Kingdom of Judah even while their own staged removal was actually taking place. The people of Judah clung tenaciously to their idols. The perplexing feature of Judah’s religious opinion was that it was perfectly acceptable to serve more than one God, a concept known as syncretism. Syncretism is the acceptance and internalising of two opposing ideas.
The people of Judah felt that is was quite acceptable to sacrifice in the temple of Baal and then come and appease Yahweh by offering Him a sacrifice as well. That was common throughout the history of both Kingdoms and inevitably resulted in the exclusion of Yahweh from religious life altogether. They also felt that they were at liberty to serve Yahweh in any way they saw fit, a fact noted in a few verses from 2 Kings 18:
2Ki 18:19 – “And Rabshakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? 20 - Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? 21 - Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him. 22 - But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?”
It’s important that we recognise those failings because they are as much a temptation now as they have been since Cain killed Abel.
We deduce from Ezekiel 1:1 that Ezekiel, being a priest related to Zadok, began his ministry “when he began to be about thirty years of age.” It was the age at which a priest by birth entered the priesthood and also was the age at which our Lord began His ministry.
In Ezekiel 3: 17, Yahweh tells Ezekiel that he has been appointed a watchman. His ministry had some very distinct features, among which was the fact that he taught by means of enacted parables.
In some of the enacted parables he typified Israel; in some of them he typified God. We wish to particularly consider Ezekiel as a type of Christ. The hallmark of Ezekiel’s preaching was the Glory of God, the symbol of God’s presence among His people, and at the same time, that which was to be manifest in the people. He references God’s Glory 24 times in his work. He alone saw the Glory depart in vision, and he alone saw it return in vision, the effulgent glory of God manifested in the exalted Son of God in glory.
So that it would be known that Ezekiel the watchman spoke the Word of God, something most particular happened to Ezekiel. He was struck dumb by God,
Ezekiel 3:26 – “And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house. 27 But when I speak with (through) thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.”
When Ezekiel was permitted to speak, the words he spoke came directly from the mind of God. The people knew this; remember our previous reference, “Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD.”
That which was true of Ezekiel was also true of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the words of John 7:16-18: John 7:16 – “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."
Men of flesh, even the Lord Jesus Christ during the time of his earthly ministry have no innate glory; we are required to reflect God’s glory by conducting our day-to-day lives in faithful obedience.
The words spoken by Jesus came directly from the mind of God as did Ezekiel’s...
As well as enacting parables, Ezekiel also had five very specific visions. Once Ezekiel was introduced in 1:1 his name was only ever mentioned once more throughout the prophecy, and that was when he was mentioned by God in the second person telling Israel that Ezekiel was his prophet.
Throughout all enacted parables and throughout all visions, Ezekiel is nominated as “son of man.”
He is so-named 93 times throughout the prophecy. That same title appears 89 times throughout the New Testament and in the NT it refers exclusively to the Lord Jesus Christ. Unambiguously, Ezekiel was a “type” of Christ.
We have noted that Ezekiel alone saw in vision both the departing and the return of God’s glory. How do we define God’s glory?
God’s Glory has as its base his unimpeachable righteousness, His undeviating morality. God’s physical power and glory is predicated on His integrated immutable morality. If God’s morality varied at all we would have a chaotic universe, worlds in collision; but with God there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning. God’s singular, unchangeable morality is the base upon which His power is employed. God’s glory is founded on His immutable moral self. When we speak of God’s Glory, we speak primarily of His Moral Glory, from which moral glory emanates His Physical power and glory.
God's glory, the Shekinah glory, present in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary. was an indication of God’s presence within the nation. As the people had turned their back to God, so His glory would be withdrawn from the nation.
The Cherubim of the Glory of God is seen departing from the Temple and its precincts, in several stages:
(1) (Ezekiel 9:3): "Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been [that is, in the Most Holy Place], and moved to the threshold of the temple."
(2) (Eze 10:4). "Then the glory of the LORD rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD."
(3) (Eze 10:18,19) "Then the glory of the LORD departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the LORD'S house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them".
(4) (Eze 11:23). "The glory of the LORD went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it."
This, apparently, is the last time the Glory of God was seen in Ezekiel's day. Thus, in preparation for the judgments soon to fall on the city, Yahweh was – by stages – removing the Glory of His Presence from the doomed city. The stages of removal, and the intervening periods of waiting, were surely intended to offer a final witness to the people and a final appeal for their repentance:
Ezekiel 18:21 – “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? “
It is remarkable that, 600 years later, the Lord Jesus Christ (who was the Glory of Yahweh) was made manifest as “the Word made flesh.” When Jesus addressed his farewell to the city of Jerusalem, he said: "Look, your house is left to you desolate" (Mat 23:38). The glory was departing from Israel, again, in anticipation of another destruction of a city and a temple which had turned its back on its God. And this it did, in reality, when Jesus took his leave from his disciples and was taken up from the Mount of Olives, on the east side of the city (Acts 1:9; cp. Ezekiel 11:23).
But, of course, as with the final vision seen by Ezekiel – in Ezekiel 43 – the Glory embodied in Jesus Christ will also return to its city in the Last Days: "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) "Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem..." (Zechariah 14:3, 4).
The final time Ezekiel sees this Glory is in his vision of the Restoration: "The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple" (Ezekiel 43:4, 5).
What personal exhortation can be gleaned from the very brief consideration of Ezekiel’s prophecy? “All these thing happened for our example and admonition.”
What lesson do we accept and internalise?
Ezekiel witnessed the departure of the glory of God, the symbol of God’s presence among the nation. The apostles saw the departure of the manifestation of God’s Glory, Ezekiel’s anti-type, the Lord Jesus Christ, ascending into the clouds from Mount Olivet East of the Temple.
We need to distinguish the Glory of God morally from the effulgent Glory of God.
At the moment we can’t locate or see the effulgent glory of God indicating God’s presence. The effulgent Glory was in the Most Holy Place, The effulgent Glory of God was in Christ when He experienced the transfiguration. We can see evidence of God’s Glory but cannot locate it specifically. The heavens declare His handiwork; but we cannot go and visit God’s effulgent Glory, yet God’s moral glory is even now manifested in the earth...
Joh 17:1 “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.”
Also: John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”
God’s moral Glory is manifested in His children. That reality is evidenced in this reality from our Master’s words just prior to His arrest and crucifixion: John 13:31 “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
God’s moral glory is manifest in the depth of the love we have for each other, a depth of love that demonstrates who really are children of God. The love that our Master showed for us in laying down His life must likewise be seen in us. If we indeed bear that love for each other, we shall share in our Master’s Effulgent Glory at His return. Peter Horne, Australia
Published as the “prophecy” article September, 2020.
October: An Examination of Tarshish in the Scriptures
As reprinted from The Advocate
An important example for any Bible student is the Bereans, who received the word with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:11, ESV). This example applies to any Bible study, including prophecy, which can be a challenging and humbling undertaking, especially when evidence surfaces that does not fit with an existing understanding that may be long-held.
One case where evidence suggests a different-than-traditional interpretation of prophecy is the identity of Tarshish, which is mentioned twenty-five times in ten Old Testament books. The identification of Tarshish matters when trying to determine its role in prophecies, whether fulfilled or future. In this article, we undertake a study about the identity of Tarshish, and, comparing Scripture with Scripture suggest that it is not possible to identify with certainty the location(s) of Tarshish. Then we will examine why Tarshish is sometimes identified as Britain. Finally, the reader is encouraged to consider the implications of an alternate identification.
The Usage of “Tarshish” in the Bible
The entry for Tarshish in Strong’s Concordance (#8659) states, “probably the same as #8658 (as the region of the stone, or the verse); a place on the Mediterranean, hence the epithet of a merchant vessel (as if for or from that port); also the name of a Persian and of an Israelite.” This entry suggests three distinct usages of the word Tarshish in the Old Testament, depending on the context: a location; a description of a merchant ship, and a person’s name. These occurrences are summarized below.
Tarshish as a location
2 Chronicles 9:21
2 Chronicles 20:36-37
Isaiah 23:6, 10
Ships of Tarshish
1 Kings 10:22
1 Kings 22:48
2 Chronicles 9:21
Isaiah 23:1, 14
Tarshish as a person
1 Chronicles 1:7
1 Chronicles 7:10
“Ships of Tarshish”
It is important to notice that the epithet or expression “ships of Tarshish” does not denote a particular location. That is, “ships of Tarshish” should not be understood as ships that always sailed to or from a specific location named Tarshish. Only once does the Bible mention that “ships of Tarshish” went to Tarshish (2 Chronicles 9:21). The Bible also states that Jehoshaphat made ships to go to Tarshish (2 Chronicles 20:36), which were presumably “ships of Tarshish,” as was Solomon’s navy, which were “ships of Tarshish” per 2 Chronicles 9:21. Both navies were constructed in Ezion-geber (1 Kings 9:26; 2 Chronicles 20:36). The “ships of Tarshish” built by Jehoshaphat were destined for Ophir (1 Kings 22:48), possibly on the east coast of Africa.1 And, in Isaiah 23:1, 14, as well as Ezekiel 27:25, the Mediterranean port city of Tyre welcomed ships of Tarshish. These references show that “ships of Tarshish” could be built in Ezion-geber by Israelite kings; and could sail to Tarshish itself, as well as Ophir and Tyre, which are locations in very different bodies of water – the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Thus, “ships of Tarshish” has to be an epithet or term used to describe large sea-going vessels, as these ships did not sail to or from Tarshish exclusively, a conclusion on which historians tend to agree.2 As such, we cannot identify the location of Tarshish from the phrase “ships of Tarshish.”
Isaiah 2:16 mentions “ships of Tarshish” in connection with cedars of Lebanon, oaks of Bashan, lofty mountains, hills, high towers, and fortified walls, all in the context of the pride of man (vss. 11-15). Thus, “ships of Tarshish” are grouped with other large, tall objects representing pride. In this context, it is sensible that “ships of Tarshish” would be large ships, but “ships of Tarshish” do not specify a location. Likewise, Psalm 48:7 likens kings who came to, but fled from Mount Zion as ships of Tarshish broken by an east wind. This reference to mighty kings would make sense if “ships of Tarshish” were mighty ships, but here again, Psalm 48:7 does not refer to Tarshish as a specific location. Isaiah 60:9 says that “ships of Tarshish” would transport “thy sons” (Jews) to the land of Israel “from far.” This verse does not state where these ships originated; but they were destined for Israel, not Tarshish.3
Tarshish as a Location
The references to Tarshish as a location do not state clearly where Tarshish was situated. There are no obvious geographic markers to identify Tarshish in any of the verses. Below is another table with these references and what they tell us about the location of Tarshish. (While reading the table, consider whether the evidence identifies Tarshish as a specific nation or location).
Tarshish as a place and what we learn about the location of Tarshish
2 Chronicles 9:21 Ships of Tarshish went to Tarshish and returned every three years bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.
2 Chronicles 20:36-37 Ships could sail from Ezion-geber to Tarshish.
Psalm 72:10 Kings of Tarshish, along with kings of coastlands, will bring gifts to Christ. Implied is that Tarshish is in a coastal region (“isles” in the KJV).
Isaiah 23:6, 10 The Tyrians could travel to Tarshish, whose inhabitants are described as living in a coastal region (“isles” in the KJV). Verse 10 simply states that Tarshish had land.
Isaiah 66:19 Refugees from the land of Israel will be sent to Tarshish, as well as Pul, Lud, Tubal, Javan: to the isles afar off.
Jeremiah 10:9 Silver was sourced in Tarshish.
Ezekiel 27:12 Tarshish traded silver, iron, tin, and lead in the Tyrian markets.
Ezekiel 38:13 Sheba, Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with the young lions of Tarshish, ask Gog why it is invading Israel. Implied is that Tarshish may be in the same geographic region as Sheba and Dedan.
Jonah 1:3; Jonah 4:2 Tarshish is west of Joppa, reachable by ship, and was where Jonah was heading.
Tarshish may reference several different locations. There must have been a location in the Mediterranean Sea where Jonah sailed (west of Joppa, in the Mediterranean Sea). Even then, we do not know with certainty where that Tarshish was. Furthermore, the fleet of ships that Solomon sent to Tarshish was probably a different Tarshish than Jonah’s destination, as Solomon’s animal cargoes are not found in the Mediterranean basin, and Solomon’s ships probably did not circumnavigate Africa and sail to the Mediterranean Sea. It would not be feasible to launch ships from the Red Sea to sail to the Mediterranean, given the distance, the unlikelihood of the route around Africa to the Mediterranean being known to Solomon, and the relative ease of navigating the Mediterranean from the shores of Palestine, should Solomon have wished to do so.4 Thus, the Tarshish known to Solomon was probably different than the Tarshish known to Jonah.
Since Tarshish seems to refer to multiple locations, and as only the references to Jonah’s Tarshish are clear as to the relative location (west of Joppa), Bible students should not conclude that Tarshish, when cited in other references in the table, must refer to a clearly defined location. It is impossible to distinguish between Jonah’s Tarshish and Solomon’s Tarshish in these other references. Moreover, it is possible also that another reference to Tarshish might refer to a location different from where Jonah sailed and from where Solomon sent his ships. In sum, the context of the verses mentioning Tarshish as a location do not provide any clear guidance as to the location of Tarshish in each verse.5
Tarshish as Britain?
Some [scholars] have suggested that Tarshish is Britain. Without quoting any of these sources (so as not to be perceived as critical of anyone), the reasoning as to why Tarshish is Britain goes something like this:
Tarshish is west of Joppa (Jonah 1:3)
Tarshish is an island nation (Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 23:6)
Tarshish is a maritime power (Isaiah 2:16)
Tarshish traded tin with Tyre (Ezekiel 27:12), the ancient capital of the Phoenicians; and the Phoenicians obtained tin in southwestern Britain (notably Cornwall).
Regarding Point 1, merely knowing that Tarshish was west of Joppa does not give any definitive clue to the identity of Tarshish. There are many locations west of Joppa. Furthermore, there was likely also a Tarshish somewhere in the Red Sea area where Solomon sent his ships.
Point 2 states that Tarshish is an island nation. However, according to Strong’s Concordance, the word translated as “isles” (Strong’s #339) means “a habitable spot; dry land, a coast, an island.” Gesenius’s Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon agrees and says that this Hebrew word means “habitable land as opposed to water, the sea and rivers;” and “maritime land, whether the sea coast of a continent, or an island.” Thus, an “isle” does not have to be an island. There is nothing in the context of Psalm 72:10 and Isaiah 23:6 (or any Tarshish references) to imply that an island is mentioned rather than a coastal mainland. As mentioned previously, Tarshish probably has reference to multiple locations.
Point 3 is addressed in the subsection above pertaining to the ships of Tarshish. To conclude that Tarshish is a maritime power on the basis of the phrase “ships of Tarshish” is incorrect, as the term “ships of Tarshish” describes large seagoing ships rather than a specific location.
Point 4 asserts that because tin was mined on the southwest coast of Britain by the Phoenicians, and the Phoenicians (whose principal seaport was Tyre) were supplied with tin by Tarshish per Ezekiel 27:12, then Britain must be Tarshish.
To make the case that Tarshish is Britain, there must be evidence that the metals mentioned in Ezekiel 27:12 (silver, iron, tin, and lead) must have been supplied by Britain to Tyre in the time of Ezekiel by a seafaring people (the Phoenicians). Bible students who affirm this premise tend to focus solely on tin, and rely on classical Greek writers, who mention something about the existence of mysterious tin islands near Britain.
Recent scholarship, however, does not support the premise that the Phoenicians ever visited Britain. British archaeologist Timothy Champion, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton, states, “The archaeology of the Phoenicians is now reasonably well established (Aubet 1993; Moscati 1988). Phoenician maritime activity certainly extended beyond Gibraltar into the Atlantic, and there was an important colony on the site of the modern city of Cadiz [in Spain]. How much further northwards along the Atlantic coast of Europe Phoenician merchants ever sailed is unknown. The direct archaeological evidence for the presence of Phoenician or Carthaginian traders as far north as Britain is non-existent, and the most recent review of Phoenician activity in the west does not even bother to consider the question (Aubet 1993).”6
He goes on to state in his article that the documentary evidence of the classical Greek authors has provided the basis for speculation about Phoenician activity in the waters of northwestern Europe. He also quotes a classical Greek author (Diodorus Siculus), who stated that the production of Cornish tin was in the hands of the locals of Cornwall, and its transport to the Mediterranean was organized by local merchants, by sea (across the English Channel) and then overland to France and down the Rhone river. In email correspondence with this author in September 2019, Professor Champion continues to affirm the lack of evidence for a Phoenician presence in Britain.7
One of the sources quoted by Professor Champion is Aubet (1993). Maria Aubet is Emerita Professor of Archaeology at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. Her book, The Phoenicians and the West was translated into English and printed in 1993, then reprinted in 2001.8 Aubet makes the point that there is considerable archaeological evidence for Phoenician settlements in the Mediterranean basin as well as Phoenician exploration in the Red Sea area. She does not mention anything about Phoenician trading activity north of the southern Spanish coast. She also notes that there were great mineral reserves containing tin in Anatolia (Turkey), on the island of Elba, and in Tartessos (a region in Spain), all of which were in the Mediterranean region, and as such would have been accessible to Tyre.9 Therefore to identify Tarshish with a specific location because that location contains tin (i.e., Ezekiel 27:12) does not appear justifiable, as there are multiple locations that could have provided tin to Tyre.
Finally, Aubet notes that when the Phoenicians expanded into a territory, it was not just for ore, but also for the land, agricultural output, out of demographic necessity, etc. Furthermore, the production of metals requires a whole series of complex processes, from extraction, transport, smelting, making alloys, finishing, [to] marketing. From extraction to sale, the process was enormously expensive and required considerable ore deposits to be economically viable. The two major constraints were production capacity and distance.10 Thus, it is implausible that the Phoenicians would have “visited” Britain to mine ore because they only planted permanent settlements and for reasons that were not just limited to ore production; and the cost to produce ore in Britain and ship it to Tyre would likely have been prohibitively expensive, given the great distance.11
In this article, we have considered how Tarshish is presented in multiple ways in the Scriptures. It is a word that has different meanings, and can refer to a location, although the location is not clearly identifiable from any of the contexts. There appears to be at least two locations for Tarshish (west of Joppa and in the Red Sea area). Other references to Tarshish are ambiguous as to which of these two locations, if any, are referred to. Tarshish is also contained in the expression “ships of Tarshish,” which were ships that did not necessarily originate in or sail to a location named Tarshish; therefore, this expression cannot be used to identify Tarshish as a location. It does not appear possible to identify with any certainty a single location for Tarshish.
Tin is mentioned in Ezekiel 27:12 as being sourced from Tarshish and traded with Tyre. There were at least three primary sources of tin in the Mediterranean region (in Anatolia, the island of Elba, and Tartessos), which could have provided tin to Tyre. Furthermore, at least three archaeologists who have studied the Phoenicians relatively recently – two of whom are British – conclude that there is no historical evidence (archaeological or from Classical Greek writers) that the Phoenicians ever visited Britain. Cornish tin was likely transported to the Mediterranean by local merchants through France. The Phoenicians did not “visit” an area; rather, they placed permanent settlements strategically, and not just to mine ore. Thus, the notion that the Phoenicians made forays to Britain (or islands near Britain) to mine tin is improbable. As well, the cost of producing and shipping ore from Britain to Tyre would most likely have been prohibitively expensive.
What does all this mean for Bible students today? The viewpoint that Tarshish is Britain has currency among some Bible students. However, this viewpoint does not seem to be well-supported. Any predictions about unfulfilled prophecies pertaining to Tarshish should probably be done very carefully, as it is not possible to identify the location of Tarshish with certainty through any particular Bible verse.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Malachi 4:1-3
By Jonathan Farrar, Binbrook, ON
1 The name Africa, derived from the Latin Aphir-ic-a, is a cognate [root word] to the Hebrew Ophir. See Stieglitz, R. (1984), “Long-distance seafaring in the ancient Near East,” [The Biblical Archaeologist, 47(3), p.141]. See also https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ophir for a discussion of several other possible locations.
2 Two examples of historians who conclude similarly are: 1) Whitney, G. (1872). Handbook of Bible Geography, [London: Hodder and Stoughton, p.378-9]. He states that the term “ships of Tarshish” signified large Phoenician ships destined for long voyages, just as the English ship ‘East Indiaman’ was a general name given to vessels, some of which were not intended to go to India at all; 2) Stieglitz, ibid: note 2 at p.139, who states, “Tarshish ships… seem to have been merchantmen fit for long voyages.”
3 Isaiah 60:9 may have been fulfilled prior to and just after World War II, as in the waves (aliyahs) of immigration to Israel, transport ships were the primary mode of transportation, carrying approximately 100,000 Jews who embarked at European ports.
4 The Wikipedia entry for ‘European exploration of Africa’ suggests that the first circumnavigation of Africa, made by the Phoenicians, did not occur until around 600 BC, which was about 400 years after Solomon’s reign.
5 The individual named Tarshish in Genesis 10:4 is mentioned in connection with other individuals who are understood to have settled in the coastal regions in the north and northeastern Mediterranean.
6 Champion, T. (2001). “The appropriation of the Phoenicians in British imperial ideology.” Nations and Nationalism, 7(4), p.453. In his article, he also notes that a large tin ingot, weighing 158 pounds, now at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, is now thought to be of late-medieval date (p.454).
7 Per email correspondence on 9/21/19, he wrote, “I would still stand by my assertion that there is no archaeological evidence for their presence in Britain .... It is true that the Greek geographer Strabo refers to Phoenicians acquiring tin in islands called the Cassiterides, as I discussed briefly in the article you cite; attempts have been made to identify these islands with the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall, and hence bring Phoenicians at least to the south-westernmost tip of England, but they are now mostly discounted. Tin was certainly an important export from Cornwall, but all the archaeological evidence suggests close contacts with northern France, and production and primary distribution in the hands of local inhabitants.”
8 Aubet, M. (2001). The Phoenicians and the West. [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press].
9 Ibid, note 8, p.80
10 Ibid, note 8, pp. 95-96.
11 Another archaeologist, also British, has written a book, published in 2018, which contains a chapter (“Phoenician Islands”) discussing how an alleged Phoenician presence in northwest Europe became entrenched into western European historical mythology. See Quinn, J. (2018). In Search of the Phoenicians. Princeton: Princeton University Press. About the book, Quinn says, “One of the chapters I most enjoyed writing in this book is about the way that scholars in England concocted fantasies of Phoenician origins for their homeland.” (https://press.princeton.edu/interviews/qa-11132).
<> End of article and notes. Published September 17, 2020.
November: The Conclusions (11)
By way of explanation, this article was the concluding one of a series of New Considerations of Bible Prophecy as published on this website in 2019. Please see the reference to the entire series at end of this article. I believe its currency of interest makes it worthy of reprinting here.
These remarkable events which have been rather hastily reviewed (there is much more source information available!) in the previous ten papers are unmistakably works of divine Providence. They are so numerous and so complex – and so subtly connected – as to be crafted exclusively from Above.
In this editor’s opinion, we are pathetically deficient in our appreciation of His ability as well as His intention to arrange such sequences of events as profound proof of his omniscience if we do not acknowledge such.
In our opinion, such voluminous detail and such perfect sequential integration of related events are a modern reconfirmation of His sovereignty and a sure illustration of His anciently-proclaimed ability to give accurate prophecies of future events – the expression of which is unique to YHVH.
We intend to bring these comments to a conclusion with this paper.
We reviewed the fact that President Truman had recognized the validity of the State of Israel in his declaration of May 14, 1948 ... and that his recognition was parallel to that of Cyrus, who decreed that the Jews should return to their land “which is in Judah.” But Cyrus also decreed specifically that they should build an house there – a reference to the Jews’ reconstruction of their destroyed Temple. Cf., Ezra 1: 2.
President Truman had not addressed the “house” component – only the “land” feature in his recognition of Israel.
On the other hand, President Trump had decreed, as had Cyrus of old, not only the official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in his decree of December 5, 2017, but also the “house” component of Cyrus’ earlier declaration. In his remarks that day he said, “... consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
Now ... we acknowledge that an embassy is not the Temple, or even parallel to it. But is undeniable that the embassy is an house that was linked to the full validation of the Jews’ return to their land, and that it, like the Temple, would stand “in Jerusalem.” Indeed, the “house” selected to be renovated and made suitable for the American Embassy is the existing US consulate in Jerusalem, which is located partially in West Jerusalem and partially in no man's land – in territory essentially claimed by the Palestinian Authority as being part of the “Palestine” of their fantasy! The property straddles the 1949-1967 Armistice line in Jerusalem! (Wikipedia)
It would stand as a repudiation not only to the worldly powers which, to a nation, actively deny Israeli ownership to the Old City but also to the Palestinian Authority – a local group of thugs whose only intention is to grab land and sovereignty from Israel and from its deity, YHVH – for His enemies are THEIR enemies (cf., Psalm 83: 1-3).
The Trump decision was a double slap-in-the-face to all comers!
The Trumpian decree was the first declaration by any major power (besides Israel itself) since the days of Cyrus to affirm Jerusalem specifically as belonging to the Jewish people ... a fact also attested to, in our studied opinion, by the entirety of Scripture.
It is significant also that the decree by the UNO (the Partition Plan) that brought Israel back into being in 1947 was followed in five months with the literal accomplishment of that intention – the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.
In parallel fashion, President Trump’s decree of December 5th, 2017, declaring that the embassy would be moved, resulted – five months later – in the physical deed becoming accomplished!
Such exact timing does not happen by chance!
Now ... readers should consider one additional possibility: Since in the original decree of Cyrus the house was the Temple, could what happened in 2018 (the physical establishment of the house – the embassy in Jerusalem) be a precursor to the future rebuilding of the other house, the Temple? Since we are assured that “the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2) could the first usher in the second? We believe it is not only possible but is certain...
As validation of this principle, consider the following examples ...
None of the examples to which we have referred were engineered by human minds. Nobody was planning them to occur when and as they did. But they happened time and again like clockwork to accomplish the fulfillment of many prophecies for the end-time!
One Jubilee clearly prepares the way and leads to the next ... and the next.
Several examples are...
1. The return to Jerusalem. In the Jubilee of 1867, Charles Warren begins the mapping out of Biblical Jerusalem and discovers the City of David – ancient Jerusalem. In the next Jubilee, Allenby liberates Jerusalem utilizing the maps of the land that resulted from Charles Warren’s discoveries and his entire mission of the previous Jubilee. Fifty years later, Israeli soldiers enter through Lion’s Gate into the Temple Mount and the Old City and Jerusalem is restored to the Jewish people. And still, fifty years later that return is given legal sanction recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city since ancient times!
2. The return of the Land. In the Jubilee of 1867, the Ottoman Empire enacts the law that leads to the release of the land. In the next Jubilee the Ottomans are ousted from the land releasing it to the Jewish people in the terms of the Balfour Declaration. Fifty years later, the Six-Day War brings the most dramatic return of land to the Jewish people in Jewish history. That release was completed on a fortuitous date, too – it was accomplished as the Six-Day War ended – on June 10, 1967. It was the precise one hundredth anniversary of the Ottoman Land Law of June 10, 1867! But to add further amazing proof of its importance, it was the precise day of the end of 2300 evening-mornings of Daniel 8 – a prophecy which had begun with the first significant victory of Alexander the Great against the Persian Empire...!
3. The political return. After the first Zionist Congress at Basel, Switzerland (1897) Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary that he had founded the Jewish state and that it would be realized in fifty years. The UNO finished the plan that will bring Israel back into existence fifty years later to the exact day! And fifty years after that, Jerusalem would be recaptured as the Israeli soldiers entered the Holy City victoriously for the first time in over 2500 years! And fifty years later, the decision by President Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem seems to complete the circle.
Now consider these possible Jubilee dates ...
We must recognize 1967 as being a valid year of Jubilee because that is when Jerusalem was regained as the capital of Israel. The process of their second restoration was essentially completed in that year of 1967 on June 7th when Jerusalem was captured by Israeli soldiers.
Leviticus 25: 9-13 specifies that the year of their return should be specified as a Jubilee year.
It would be interesting to know more about the number of the Jubilee year that occurred in 1967. What number was it? We cannot easily determine by chronological means the number of the Jubilee year as Israel has not kept Jubilee since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD. We seem to have no certain original starting point...
Are there any significant dates near that time of the suspension of Jubilees that might be important – that might inform us of the number of Jubilees that have been missed since that time?
That is possible. Every significant event (nearly all) bearing on Israel and its end-time restoration ends in years ending either 17 or 67 ... just like clockwork.
1517 AD Ottomans conquer Palestine on their way to Egypt (Daniel 11: 40-45).
1867 AD The years of the Stranger and the Man with the Measuring Line (Twain and Warren)
1917 AD The land is liberated from Ottomans by the British army.
1967 AD Jerusalem is returned to Israeli possession and occupancy.
2017 AD Jerusalem is recognized by a great power as being the capital of Israel.
What date is most logical for the beginning of this series? We should think it might be around 70 AD. Investigation reveals that the Roman Generals Vespasian and Titus approached the land intent upon putting down the Jewish revolt in 67 AD – by taking the first villages located in the Galilee on their way to Jerusalem several months later.
Hmmm ... 67AD: a year ending in 67 – the only year so designated!
We haven’t enough information to fill in all the interim years ending in 17 or 67 but suspect that many of them may have been integral to the overall process of Israel’s return.
However, we do know of the concrete anniversaries note above ... and we are pretty sure that 1967 AD must be labeled a year of Jubilee.
In that case, all the previous and subsequent anniversaries ending in 17 and 67 would also be bona fide Jubilee years, whether or not anyone was keeping track of them.
If that is so, subtract 67 AD from 1967 AD, and what is the result? It is 1900 years ... or 38 Jubilees.
That would necessitate 2017 being designated the 39th Jubilee ... correct? (Yes.)
What is the significance of that number? We know of no information about the number of Jubilees that we may expect, so the point may be moot. However, it is seemingly certain that we are now experiencing the end-time events subsequent to the 39th Jubilee, and that the days before The Second Advent are indeed short ... and we can be fairly certain to have discovered bona fide years of Jubilee.
In an earlier paper in this series we noted that there are still other considerations of the principle of the shub – the return – to be discussed.
Here is one of those...
We are struck by the new development by many Jews of today to adopt the tenets of Christianity (sic). By this, we mean that they have come to “see” Jesus as Messiah ... and have come to expect their salvation as being very near. In these convictions, they are correct in a broad sense.
But their understanding of the nature of the Messiah is skewed by “Christianity’s” view of Him, i.e., as God the Son, the third part of a Trinity of gods. That view does not negate their expectation of redemption for those who anticipate it.
But this stark fact illustrates the necessary backward pathway to purer understanding. Recall that we likened the resurrection of a person or a nation to be a retracing of events that brought them to the juncture now being experienced. This pathway backward necessitates their acceptance, first, of “corrupted” Christianity – of the tainted form of dogma which has developed from the First Century doctrines and teachings of Christ and the apostles.
We are aware of the immense body of information which proves the departure of true Christ-ones of the First Century into errors of belief and conduct as induced by “wolves in sheep’s clothing” which came at an early date into the Ecclesia, and “changed the truth of God into a lie.” Romans 1: 25.
The original Ecclesia of Christ consisted exclusively of Jews – converts from the Judaism of the First Century to the true teachings of Christ. After the conversion of the Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, many evangelists traveled to the outer reaches of the Empire to teach the Gospel in centers such as Ephesus and Corinth. When the events of 70 AD came upon the Jews they were scattered from Jerusalem and Israel into all nations and the essentially Jewish character of the Gospel began to ebb and be lost.
So the adoption of the Jews of today of “Christian” principles is no surprise, being the logical, backward journey toward purer roots. Hosea 3: 4, 5 states the endpoint of this process: “The children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince.... Afterward, the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their King.”
The name David was utilized by the prophets to refer to the Messiah, the royal descendant of King David.
That is a stateme