How Idolatry Ruined Israel

goldencalf1 Corinthians 10:1-14

I want to continue looking at Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians regarding eating food sacrificed to idols and the extent of Christian liberty. Previous three posts can be seen here,

PART 1
PART 2
PART 3

Just to recap, the Corinthians believed they could maintain their previous, non-Christian relationship with the pagan culture of Corinth. That attitude further convinced them they were at liberty to join in the ceremonies and other festivities of the pagan temples. In fact, given the tone of Paul’s letter in regards to the matter, they were rather insistent about their participation.

That insistent attitude, however, was ruining their testimony with unbelievers, as well as leading other Christians astray into idolatry. Rather than telling them they have that liberty, yet to be mindful of the so-called “weaker brother,” the standard interpretation of these passages, Paul confronts them with a sharp rebuke telling them to get out of those places altogether. Their liberty does not give them that right; in truth it was really a false, self-serving liberty.

Over the course of 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul, I believe, presents his case for the Corinthians rejecting their false liberty  around four broad areas, 1) It was a danger to believers, 2) It disqualified one’s overall ministry, 3) It ruined Israel, and 4) It disrupts the fellowship of the brethren.

With this post, I come to the third area Paul presents as to why the Corinthians must get out of the temple and stop eating idol food. That is, idolatry ruined Israel.

Paul breaks down his argument along three points,

The Record of Idolatry – He begins by directing his readers back to the OT history of Israel. That he would bring up the OT is interesting. He is primarily interacting with gentiles when he writes the Corinthians, offering correction to individuals who wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with the OT at all. Paul, none the less, instructed them in the history of Israel, because the OT is so vital to understanding the promises of Christ and how they relate to the Christian Church. There is application to be made from God’s dealings with Israel who were His people, to the Christian Corinthians who are also His people.

The Corinthian church came from somewhere. Their existence is anchored in history, so Paul is essentially instructing them in that history. Additionally, Christ was there as well with Israel. That of course is because Christ is God, and like he was with Israel, so to is He with the Corinthians.

There are similarities between the Israelites and the Corinthians. Just as the Israelites were called out from bondage to Egypt, Christ called out the Corinthians from bondage to sin. Just like God protected and provided for Israel in the wilderness, so also Christ protects and provides for the Corinthians.

However, in spite of having God and Christ with them – seeing the cloud of glory, seeing the miracles, and having God provide directly for them – Israel involved themselves with sinful, idolatrous activity. They are what Paul describes as examples from whom the Corinthians can learn by observing God’s dealings with them.

The Warning of Idolatry – As Paul notes in 10:7, Israel engaged in building a golden calf as recorded in Exodus 32. He goes on to remind the Corinthians how they also committed sexual immorality in Numbers 25, complained against God in Numbers 21, and also complained against God’s chosen man, Moses, in Numbers 16. Each one of those instances involved elements of pagan worship. They worshiped false gods, engaged in sexual immorality, and ultimately reject God and Christ.

Those OT events stand as examples, or illustrations, the Corinthian church needs to ponder. They should learn from their tragic example. Just like Israel had first hand experience with the true and living God when He brought them out of Egypt, the Corinthians did as well, especially in experiencing salvation. With that in mind, Paul is warning that they need to consider their slouching toward disobedience with their abuse of liberty. As he writes in 10:12, the Christians needed to take heed, lest they fall into idolatry and incur the judgment of God. Their continued persistence in participating in pagan temple could at any moment destroy them as a church.

The Call to Put Away Idols – Paul then finishes up his warning by reminding the Corinthian’s in 10:13 of God’s promise to take care of His people. He does so by writing that none of them will be overtaken in a temptation, and will never be tempted beyond what they are able to bear.

This verse is misunderstood. The typical view of what Paul is stating here is taken as him telling the Corinthians that when hard trials come their way, particularly in their individual, personal lives, God won’t give them more than they can handle. In reality, however, that isn’t always true: sometimes a person does get a lot and they can’t handle it on a personal level at all.

That is not at all what Paul means with this verse. In the context of our discussion about them abusing their liberty in the pagan temples, the Corinthians would be tempted to involve themselves in the temple ceremonies because it is cultural. As I noted in a previous article, they would see the temple, not merely as a place of idol worship, but as a cultural center where those who want to get ahead in society would gather to be seen and heard and to gain influence among peers. If they were to cut themselves off from those opportunities, there could be severe, financial and cultural repercussions. At least that is the worry on the part of many in the church.

However, the greater good they could do is flee from the blatant idolatry in those temples. The Corinthians need to cut their participation in those places out of their lives, and if they experience uncomfortable persecution and financial hardship, God is faithful, writes Paul, to help them. He provides the way of escape, as it were.

The much greater harm is the idolatry itself. For just like it destroyed the nation of Israel over the course of their history, it too will certainly destroy the Corinthians. That is why Paul commands them to flee from idolatry. It is not a matter of the extent of their Christian liberty, but obedience to the Lord.

Truth or Territory – A Book Review

truthTruth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare
Jim Osman
227 p., paperback

Shortly after I came to know the Lord, I began attending a Baptist church that had an unhealthy fixation with spiritual warfare techniques. Leaders modeled such practices as praying hedges of protection around individual people, their homes, and our church, binding Satan, and identifying territorial demons who ruled over neighborhoods and cities.

I remember once how a prayer walk was organized during which members of our church marched around the parameter of the state university campus in our town in a “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” fashion binding demons and claiming authority over the place in Jesus’s name. Thankfully, the campus wasn’t too big, because I just remember it being blazing hot that day.

On another occasion, a deacon teaching our Sunday school class solemnly warned us of how foolish it is to leave your house or dorm room without spiritual protection from God. He lectured us on the importance of praying a hedge around ourselves and our families so as to prevent demonic influences in our lives.

Still another time, we had a Southern Baptist “evangelist” named Sam Cathy come to our church to lead a series of revival services for the week. Each evening he entertained us with his fantastic adventures fighting demons. He told us of how demons were typically behind every sinful choice a person made. He told us how he commanded demons to tell him their plans, and in one case, the demons were arranging homosexual liaisons for a particular pastor with the intent of bringing him to be the president of the SBC and exposing him in a devastating, nationwide scandal.

My church was supposed to be a non-Charismatic Baptist church, mind you; yet the books of Frank Peretti and the counseling of Neil Anderson shaped the spiritual environment.

What I was taught about the devil, demons, and spiritual warfare is not isolated. The average church-goers today, both charismatic and non-charismatic, believes genuine spiritual warfare involves binding Satan, identifying and fighting off territorial spirits, and praying up hedges of protection around themselves and their families. This extremely misguided perception of our enemy is why Jim Osman’s book is an important polemical work addressing the topic.

Osman is the pastor of Kootenai Community Church in northern Idaho. Like me, he came to the Lord in Christian circles that had an aberrant perspective of the demonic. He was taught the same superstitious nonsense I was taught about fighting Satan. Methodologies that Osman rightly identifies as more akin to Harry Potter novels than biblical Christianity.

His study is broken into four parts (all beginning with the letter “E” so you can remember them).

Part one is where Osman establishes the biblical principles regarding spiritual warfare. He opens by bringing us to our starting point, the authority of holy Scripture. As he points out, one’s personal experience often trumps Scripture, especially among the modern spiritual warfare practitioners.

He then provides a brief overview of 2 Corinthians 10 and explains how our battle with spiritual forces has to do with defending biblical and theological truth and nothing at all with taking back physical territory allegedly held by a hierarchy of demons. He ends the first section discussing our true enemy that is a spiritually lethal combination of the Devil, the world, and our flesh.

The second part exposes the key, unbiblical practices of spiritual warfare teachers. He spends five individual chapters exploring what he calls “carnal weapons,” that he defined in the first section in his study of 2 Corinthians 10. Those five practices are praying hedges, hexes, binding Satan, rebuking Satan, and spiritual mapping. Osman thoroughly goes through each one, looking over the proof-texts spiritual warfare experts use to defend them and explains why many of them have nothing whatsoever to do with “spiritual warfare.”

Part three explains four important biblical perspectives that comes along with spiritual warfare teaching. He answers three questions, Can a Christian be demon-possesed?, Is Christ’s authority ours?, and What about exorcisms? The fourth perspective is what the Bible teaches regarding spiritual warfare and Christian sanctification and he answers the notion that demons are the source of a person’s sin problems.

Lastly in the fourth section, Osman spends a couple of chapters examining Ephesians 6 and the whole armor of God. He provides an exposition of the passage, contrasting what Paul actually taught on the subject of spiritual warfare and what spiritual warfare proponents teach. It is a well done part of the book.

In my opinion, pastor Osman has provided Christians with a valuable apologetic resource. He is training Christians how to think about spiritual warfare by addressing a topic that is pretty much avoided because no one really knows exactly how to interact with the claims put forth by a number of alleged spiritual warfare experts. His book not only debunks their assertions, but also gives the reader a much needed response in dealing with a pervasive false teaching that has infected numerous congregations. It is well worth the investment.

Let’s Talk About the Christological Hermeneutic

emmausI want to discuss a Twitter exchange I had with some Reformish acquaintances concerning the so-called Christological Hermeneutic (CH for our purposes here).

My exchange began when I had tweeted out a link to Matt Waymeyer’s blog article entitled, Luke 24 and the Christological Hermeneutic.

In his article, Waymeyer explains how the CH is a manner of interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures that seeks to find references to Christ on almost every page. “In this way, truths revealed about the Messiah in the New Testament are seen as the key to discovering the real meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures.” Proponents claim Luke 24, that tells the story of Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, is a proof-text that demonstrates the interpretative priority of the NT when reading the OT. Jesus and the Apostles, then, interpreted the OT according to the CH and set a model for the Christian church to follow.

Waymeyer then lays out three reasons why Luke 24 is not presenting for us an interpretive filter through which to read the OT,

  • There is no record of which OT texts Jesus cited when speaking to the two disciples. Advocates of the CH then wrongly assume that Jesus is referencing OT passages that do not explicitly mention Him as the true Messiah of Israel.
  • When Luke writes that, “He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures,” it is believed that “all the Scriptures” means that all the Scripture of the OT must speak of Jesus in some fashion. The words, “all the Scriptures,” however, are better understood as the entirety of the OT Scriptures entailing the three main divisions: The 5 books of Moses, the writings, and the prophets. In fact, Luke 24:44 even suggests this is what Jesus did when he stated, “all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled”
  • Luke 24:27 specifically says that Jesus spoke about “things that pertain to himself,” meaning he directed the disciple’s attention to those clear, undeniable passages that spoke of Him. Jesus was not presenting an interpretive grid that grants permission for Christians to adopt a typological and Christological hermeneutic that finds Jesus in the pages of every portion of the OT.

In response to my tweeting out that article, I had a number of fine men leave me some challenging objections. I thought I would offer a fuller response here at my blog.

– Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 10

The first couple of objectors raised 1 Corinthians 10:4 where Paul talks about Christ being the spiritual rock that followed Israel through the desert. Because he uses the word “spiritual” at least 3 times in the opening verses, it is only clear that Paul is modeling the CH for the readers of the NT.

Some thoughts in response. First, 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 is in the middle of a section of Paul’s letter in which he is telling the church at Corinth to get out of the pagan temples and to leave off attending their idol feasts. As he lays out his case as to why they should abandon the pagan festivals at Corinth, Paul explains that one of the main reasons is idolatry destroyed the people of Israel. That is his point here in chapter 10.

Next, because Paul is warning the Corinthians about their idolatry when participation in the pagan feasts and temple ceremonies, he draws their attention to the history of Israel and how their flirtation with idolatry led to their physical and spiritual demise. In the same way Israel’s idolatry ruined them, the idolatry the Corinthian Christians were engaging in at the temple festivals will ultimately bring them to ruin.

Last, the word “spiritual” does not mean Paul is spiritualizing the historical events that happened to the people of Israel. The point he is making is simply that Israel’s provision came from a spiritual source, that being God. He provided the water, the food, and the protection, pictured as a rock, and yet the children of Israel left off trusting in his provision and committed idolatry against Him.

Because Jesus is God, and in the same way He was there among the Children of Israel present in the rock that protected them, He is also among the Christians at Corinth. Paul exhorts them to recognize that truth, see the example that Israel was for them in their sin, and to flee from following their ways into idolatry.

– Romans 5:14 and Christ as a type of Adam

Another challenger pointed me to Romans 5 and Paul’s discussion about the imputation of Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteousness. Specifically I was asked a series of questions pertaining to Romans 5, “Did all die in Adam? If so when? How do we know? Was it true before Paul wrote? was Adam a type of Christ? Did he become such only at the very moment Paul penned Rom?” Let me provide a couple of responses to them.

Did all die in Adam? If so when? How do we know? Was it true before Paul wrote? – I’ll cover the first four questions quickly because they are all related to the extent of Adam’s sin. I have to confess that I am not quite sure how my inquisitor believes those question demonstrates the CH and a typological approach to reading the OT through the lens of the NT.

At any rate, we know all men died in Adam because that is what God said to Adam in the garden if he were to eat of the fruit, “In the day that you shall surely eat of it, you will die,” Genesis 2:17. Certainly my challenger does not believe the OT is vague or unclear about the extent of Adam’s sin? Paul even explains as much in Romans 5:12 when he writes how physical death is a stark indicator of the extent of Adam’s sin. The whole OT bears out that theological truth throughout its pages.

Was Adam a type of Christ? Did he become such only at the very moment Paul penned Rom? – I believe he is referencing Romans 5:14 which states, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

The key question I have in response is, what does Paul mean when he says Adam is a type of Him who was to come? Is he modeling for us an overarching principle of the interpretative priority of the NT over the OT? I don’t think so; certainly not in the manner the CH requires. The word “type” just means “example” or “pattern,” and in the context here of Romans 5 and Paul’s teaching on imputation, he is saying that Adam imputed his sin to those who were his people, i.e. all humanity, in the same way that Jesus imputed His righteousness to those who are His people, i.e. all who believe in faith.

– All heroes in the OT were shadows of Christ. Matthew 12:40

Still another objector chimed into the conversation by tweeting out that he believed all heroes in the OT were shadows of Christ. He referenced Matthew 12:40 where Jesus states, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Three thoughts,

First, I don’t necessarily disagree with that idea. I even noted in a previous article that I believe types of Christ exist in the OT. But those types that foreshadow the coming of Christ and the work of redemption He will accomplish are generally rather clear with a discernible anti-type in the NT. For instance, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and David, can all be consider true types of Christ and we draw that conclusion because events in their lives clearly depict Christ’s ministry. So put another way, a student doesn’t have to go on a type hunt in order to determine if some OT person is a type of Christ.

That said, however, are all OT heroes types of Christ? Not necessarily. Gideon could be labelled a hero, but I would not necessarily call him a type of Christ. I would say the same thing regarding such individuals as Samson, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah for instance. And Jonah wasn’t really heroic. God had to make him go to Nineveh and while he eventually went, he grumbled all through his ministry to the people there. The only real connection to Christ is God sending a massive fish to swallow Jonah. In the same way God delivered him from his watery tomb, so too will God deliver Christ from His.

Lastly, recognizing OT types, however, is far different from a typological hermeneutic that results in the CH and the principle that gives interpretive priority to the NT over the OT. Just because we can recognize an event or person from the OT as foreshadowing the life of Christ does not mean we are to depart from a normal, historical-grammatical approach to a CH approach to the Bible that allows the NT to reinterpret and spiritualize what is recorded in the OT.

– Are We Required to Preach Christ When Preaching the OT?

One final challenger asked about preaching Christ when we preach from the OT. In other words, shouldn’t we be faithfully pointing people to the Jesus of the NT when we preach the OT? Personally, I don’t think so. Of course we should proclaim Christ when the OT passage under consideration warrants it, but that won’t be all the time. One would be hard pressed to faithfully present Christ from the story of Abimelech in Judges 9.

Now that doesn’t mean there are no spiritual truths to be found in such passages, just that it is not about Jesus. Now I understand that is like dragging nails against a chalk board in the ears of my Reformished friends because they have been fed this idea that ALL sermons, even ones from an OT narrative, must have a Christ-Gospel focus when a preacher preaches. But really? The plan of redemption is certainly an important component to the plans of God, but if the passage directs our attention to God’s sovereignty, or his justice, or His dealings with man’s sin, it would be amiss to downplay those truths just to pull together some fanciful interpretation that is supposedly Christ focused when such is not the case at all.

As a Christian, I am much more concerned about handling accurately the Word of God. I believe a Christian is gravely mishandling the Scripture when we manufacture types and shadows that don’t really exist. We not only dishonor the Lord who gave us the Bible, but we do a great disservice to those who hear us preach.

Plagiarism Hunters

plagiarismThe latest evangelical “scandal” in recent weeks has been the discovery of plagiarism on the part of New Testament scholar, Peter O’Brien.

O’Brien, who is the professor emeritus at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, has written a number of popular evangelical commentaries. The first one I ever secured was a handsome copy of his fabulous work on Colossians from the Word series which I picked up used for like 10 bucks. He has also written on Ephesians, Philippians, and Hebrews for the Pillar NT commentary series.

His works are extremely well-done; being both well researched and crafted in a readable style that even lay-level individuals can benefit from, not to mention that he is conservative, an increasing rarity for commentary writers these days. The charge of plagiarism is almost laughable considering that O’Brien has the reputation of being an expert scholar in his field of NT studies.

According to this article, the story began over in Korea when a NT scholar published 22 commentaries in less than 7 years. Such an amazing accomplishment obviously raised red flags of suspicion. His work was challenged, and he was taken to court over the matter of plagiarism. When egregious examples were uncovered, in his defense, the Korean fellow pulled O’Brien’s commentary on Hebrews as proof that commentators often cite other commentators without attribution. In the case of O’Brien, he allegedly cited William Lane’s commentary on Hebrews in a number of places without noting it.

I agree with Stanley Porter’s take on the issue that he lays out in his article, that given the demand for Christian publishers to produce commentaries, the lack of competent scholars to write them, and the glut of commentaries already in print, a failure to properly cite sources is a real possibility among commentators. The question is whether or not it was intentional, as if the guy is a lazy, glory seeking slob, or accidental, which happens to everyone at some time or another.

In regards to O’Brien, I happen to side with the accidental conclusion. He’s gone on record insisting that any plagiarism was completely unintentional and seeks to correct it. I happen to take him at his word.

That being said, however, there is a squad of truthers who inhabit social media and the bloggosphere who insist any hint of plagiarism in any person’s work only reveals the dark heart of a cheating scumball. It doesn’t matter how small the alleged plagiarism may be or the explanation of how such horrific malfeasance could have crept in under the nose of the writer, nothing can be done except to savage the person publicly and burn his or her career to ash.

mobDoug Wilson is one who has come under the rancorous scrutiny of a particular blogger who has made destroying his ministry a white whale. Charges of being a serial plagiarist have been leveled against him. No matter how he tries to explain himself (see HERE for instance), he is considered such a villain, that his accuser is to be unquestioningly believed even though it has been soundly documented she is making stuff up against him.

Now I don’t want people to misunderstand me. I think plagiarism is bad. Even as a low level internet blogger, I do my best to cite my sources and provide link backs to individuals who may have influenced my thinking on some issue. In fact, I had an anonymous avatar plagiarize me once. The faceless entity cut and pasted an article I wrote answering a particular point of apologetics and posted it to a web forum in response to an atheist he was haggling with about the existence of God. I wouldn’t have even known about it if it wasn’t for another atheist who recognized it as my writing and alerted me to it.

I expect everyone who is a serious writer/researcher/publisher to take plagiarism seriously, primarily for the reason we should guard against any sloppy laziness on the part of writers, and to have the backs of those clever individuals who were clearly plagiarized.

But I think we need to keep in mind that when it comes to theological writing, especially commentary publishing, if there are dozens and dozens of commentaries on the book of John (and this can be over the course of centuries), how many ways can a scholar comment upon John 3:16 before he begins to repeat what others have already stated? If a scholar ever reaches a place where he is attempting to be fresh and novel with his theological commenting for the fear of a plagiarism scandal brewing around him, he is beginning to wander into dangerous territory.  The idea of “fresh” and “novel” usually gets us N.T. Wright’s views on justification and the cranks over at Biologos.

Additionally, should our immediate response to any and all instances of alleged plagiarism be to conclude that it is truly the work of a sinister scoundrel? Can no one be extended the benefit of the doubt? If they are apologetic and equally embarrassed can we just say, “Go back and fix it and be more careful the next time?”

Sadly, the one area where I believe plagiarism is an uncontained wild fire is among Bible preachers and teachers. That is because it is really easy for overworked, beleaguered pastors who don’t manage their time well to scour the online sermon prep sites in order to pull their message together. Study time is finished in a snap and the pastor can return to the more important things like hospital visitations and organizing the local shelter outreach.

I am familiar with a pastor who preached mediocre messages that felt like he hurriedly tossed them together on a Saturday afternoon. However, one Sunday the message was coherent and somewhat heartwarming. It even had an alliterated outline and a powerpoint presentation to go along with it. Soon it became noticeable to everyone when he started preaching these well crafted sermons every week both Sunday morning and evening.

Knowing what the guy’s preaching was like for a number of years before this marvelous change caused people to wonder how he found the time to spend on study, especially to add an accompanying powerpoint presentation. It wasn’t until one thoughtful congregant bothered to Google his outline and quickly uncovered the website from where he was copying his sermon.

Now discerning people, at least discerning people who have a deep, abiding love for integrity, would be aghast at such a revelation. I’ve spoken with some folks from my orbit of friends about this situation and they would insist on the pastor’s immediate dismissal for basically being an embezzling thief. Harsh.

Instead of him being confronted for thieving other people’s intellectual property, however, the greater majority of the church saw his copy-catting sermon notes as an inventive way to invest wisely in his sermon prep. He didn’t have to spend valuable time sitting at a desk all day slaving over a Bible lesson. What a tragic way for a pastor to think about ministering God’s Word.

Unfortunately, the internet, with its never ending sermon prep websites are never going away, and it will forever be a welcoming temptation. Logos is also another big culprit that adds to this problem as well. Pastors and teachers need to rediscover the seriousness of study and the impact their labor in the Word of God has in their pulpit and among the people they shepherd. That passion is only stirred when churches see the importance of sound, doctrinal preaching drawn from the exegesis of Scripture. Encourage your pastors and Sunday school teachers along those lines.

And of course, the plagiarism witch hunters aren’t helping either with their life destroying crusades. If they could take it down a notch, that’d be better for everyone all around.

The 10 Myths of Teen Dating – A Book Review

10mythsThe 10 Myths of Teen Dating: Truths your daughter needs to know to date smart, avoid disaster, and protect her future.

Daniel Anderson, MEd, with his daughter Jacquelyn Anderson, MEd

254 pages, paperback.

 

 

 

On occasion I receive promotional emails from publicists plugging an author and the new book he just wrote. They’ll ask me if I would be interested in a copy so I can write up a review for my tremendously high quality, but low trafficked blog. Typically I give them a pass, because the books I am offered are usually oriented toward women issues or topics I have absolutely no interest in, like red hot Amish romance novels.

Recently, however, I was contacted about a book written to debunk the myths of teen dating. My interest was stirred with that offer for a couple of reasons.

First, the book is specifically aimed at the parents of teen girls. I have two girls who will be teenagers in a few years, and any club I can obtain to beat back the hordes of hormone riddled boys intent on grabbing them by the hair and dragging them away is appreciated. And secondly, the book is advertised as helping parents navigate the dark, murky waters of teen dating where all sorts of unsuspecting peril lurks underneath the surface ready to pull a father’s little princess to the drowning depths below. So yes, obviously I have an interest.

I responded with my mailing address and promised the folks that I would read over the book and provide a review, so here we are.

The author is a fellow named Daniel Anderson, and according to the bio blurb on the back cover, he is a veteran high school teacher in Oregon who was troubled by the way teens conducted their dating lives. If the teen dating scene is anything like the various raunchy, teenage angst movies that dominated the late hours of early era HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax that I used to sneak watching as a kid, I can completely understand his concern.

His adult daughter, Jacquelyn, who is also a school teacher, participated with the writing as well. She provides her perspective and color commentary on what it was like to be raised by her parents as each dating myth is debunked.

In the introduction, Anderson further explains that over the course of his high school teaching career he watched teenagers date each other and what he saw was not pretty. He was so moved by what he was witnessing he started teaching his students about dating relationships. Eventually, he accumulated enough material that he was able to pull together the book I hold in my hands.

Anderson picks, in no particular order, what he considers the top 10 dating myths teen girls evidently struggle with. Each chapter explores and debunks one of those myths.

They are,

1) If I had a boyfriend I would be happy
2) I should trust my feelings
3) I’m in love
4) Sex will enhance my relationship
5) Love and sex are the same
6) Sex comes without consequences
7) It’s okay to break up and get back together
8) He will never hit me again
9) A rebound relationship is just what I need
10) Serial dating and living together will help me stay married

Now. Does Anderson and his daughter debunk the myths? Well, I suppose so. Each chapter is filled with lots of statistics about teen pregnancy, divorce rates after couples live together, and how premarital sex will ruin a girls life. If you are looking to get academic like information about teen dating, packaged in a readable style, the book pulls together a lot to mull over.

But honestly, any number of relationship themed books meant to address the terrible blight the American hook-up/dating culture has pushed on to the average teenager will contain similar information. Laura Schlessinger, Focus on the Family, and Family Life Today, all offer a cornucopia of books addressing how girls and guys are to navigate the teenager dating scene. I’m sort of at a loss as to what this particular book is meaning to offer that those other ones did not.

What I was expecting with this book, after receiving the promotional email discussing it, was a helpful presentation on how to navigate our teen daughters through the dating/courtship rituals while honoring Christ. At least that is what I took away from the email I received. Maybe I read too much into it.

Regrettably, I was disappointed, because the book had none of that at all. The focus was not on Christ at any point, and the Christian worldview took a backseat to the statistical presentation. In fact, the author even stated that the book would intentionally avoid focusing upon the Christian faith in his introduction under the section, “The Bible is Not Enough.” He explains how he is a Christian, but his perspective as a teacher in a public high school in the very liberal city of Portland, Oregon, provides him a unique clarity as to how the secular world views the Christian faith.

Even though he believes “the ancients” (what he calls the wisdom of the Bible) have a voice to be heard in the discussions regarding teen dating, the Bible is not enough in our modern culture. (Evidently, guys and gals were different before the 20th century, who would’ve thought!?). “I think the Christian community often believes that the word no, some extra prayers, a few sermons, and the spiritual bromide of Scripture are all that every person needs for a better life,” he writes. “What is missing from Christian writing on sex and dating,” he laments, “is scientific information and practical tools to help your daughter.” His book is designed to correct that deficiency in Christian relationship literature, or so he claims.

I am not sure what Christian books he read in research for his, but they cannot all be lacking a discussion of scientific and statistical data when it comes to relationships. He mentions Josh Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but certainly that can’t be the only one he read?

Like I noted above, there are tons of Christian dating/relationship books on the market; and I have read over a lot of them given my circumstances raising five kids. Everyone I have read definitely employed the data-mining of statistical and scientific information interwoven with the discussion of the biblical text. I mean, Focus on the Family practically thrives on statistics about sex and dating.

As a Christian father who seeks to raise his family in the fear and admonition of the LORD, statistical and scientific data is really a secondary issue for me. I could care less how many couples who live together before marriage wind up getting divorced. What I care about is focusing my children on what God thinks about the purposes of relationships between boys and girls. I place a high premium on boys and girls dating because God places a high premium on boys and girls getting married. Sure. Getting pregnant as a teen girl has grave circumstances, but I want my sons and daughters to understand that sex outside of marriage is sin before a Holy God, not just that having sex could lead to pregnancy and messes up their lives in the future.

I thought this book was a missed opportunity. While the information presented by Anderson may be statistically scientific, and perhaps helpful, I believe the readers would had been better served if it had been interpreted and applied through a Christian worldview. Ultimately, what girls, and even the guys, need is a right relationship with the Lord. Only the Gospel can orient their hearts to think correctly about dating.

Even if a girl or guy has the best, most truthfully accurate information about busting dating myths, unless they have a desire to act upon that information, it is pointless to know. Only a spiritual change can apply that knowledge correctly, and the means for obtaining that spiritual change was completely ignored in the pages of this book.

Defeating the Ostrich Spirit’s Cruel Kicks

ostrichDuring a deliverance session at Quickening House of Vision I heard the Lord say something I had never heard before: “Bind the ostrich spirit.”

I hesitated for a moment because I was not familiar with that demon, but I obeyed. I took authority over the ostrich spirit, commanded it to cease and desist its operations against the woman, told it to leave her home and stop its harassment in the name of Jesus.

That night, she wasn’t jarred awake at 3 a.m. like most other nights. She slept soundly for the first time in a long time. I decided to study out this ostrich spirit because I believe in attaining Scriptural backing for what I hear in the Spirit.

Since the spirit world is more real than the natural—and since spiritual things often manifest as natural things—I decided first to seek understanding on what an ostrich is. What I discovered intrigued me: an ostrich is a big, flightless bird. Although they are big, they’re flightless, which means they can’t fly because their wings are small and unable to lift their weight.

Even though they can’t fly, they can run really fast. Their strides can be anywhere from 10 to 16 feet when they move. And their legs can be formidable weapons, even killing an enemy with one blow of their foot.

Understanding Ostrich Motives

Are you getting the picture of how this spirit works? Let me break it down for you. A bird in Scripture is a symbol of a hateful religious spirit (Revelation 18:2). A fowl is a symbol of a fat lazy person (1 Kings 4:23). The Bible offers us clear warnings of both these evil doers, and the ostrich has characteristics of each.

The ostrich is flightless, so in its fat laziness, it has lost the ability to reach its full potential as a bird. It is easily angered, and strikes out against anything it perceives as threatening it. According to myth, ostriches stick their heads in the sand, believing they are hiding from danger when in reality they are not and remain fully exposed.

The ostrich is mentioned 10 times in Scripture and it’s almost never good.

In his distress, Job called himself a “brother of jackals and a companion of ostriches” (Job 30:29). Job 39:14,16, tells how ostriches are terrible mothers, abandoning their young and treating them cruelly. Isaiah 34:13 says that when God brings judgment, he turns houses into the “haunts of ostriches.” Jeremiah 50:39 speaks of how ostriches live in the desert and places that will never be inhabited again. And Lamentations 4:3 says that ostriches are cruel and mean.

An ostrich spirit, then, will usually attack at night and is associated with the spirit of desolation. It’s a fake bird spirit, in a sense, as it’s a big, stupid flightless bird. An ostrich spirit sets out to put you in a cage, operates in the realm laziness, and works to make you fat. The ostrich spirit wants to bring you into desert places, destruction and ultimately death. It assails you with its nocturnal attacks, constantly kicking you while you are down with its big meaty leg.

Overcoming the Ostrich Spirit

Ultimately, you overcome the ostrich spirit like you do any other spirit. You submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). In this case, you do that by pleading the blood of Jesus over your life, taking authority over ostrich operations.

You must be careful not to give heed to lying voices attacking your mind, not to isolate yourself in a wilderness place while you are under the ostrich’s attack, and stick your head in the hot sand. Beware the ostrich may chase you after an onslaught of other spirits that have left you wounded or left you for dead as the ostrich comes in and kicks you over and over again.

Pray this prayer to help overcome the ostrich spirit: Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for Your protection. I repent for any open doors in my life that allowed the ostrich spirit in. I was really, really dumb to leave that door open to let ostriches wander in from the outside. I thank you, Lord, that I am free from the kicking feet of the ostrich. I know who I am in Christ and He is in me. I submit myself to You and resist every manifestation and attack of the ostrich, in the name of Christ.

ostrich2In case you were wondering, this article is complete parody, taken from this ARTICLE which is regrettably not parody.

Gleanings from Judges [11]

judgesnine

Abimelech: The Renegade King – Judges 9

The legacy Gideon left at his death was sour. His conduct the remaining 40 years he lived after defeating the Midianites was far from godly. In fact, he behaved himself a lot like the pagans God had called him to conquer. For instance, he had the men give him an earring from the spoil they took from the Midianites and with them he made an ephod that became like an idol for the Israelites (8:27). The Bible tells us that ephod “became a snare” for Gideon and his family.

Additionally, after he led Israel to victory over the Midianites, the people wanted to make him king. Gideon refused, but the lifestyle he chose reflected something of a psuedo-kingship. The writer of his record calls him Jerubbal the son of Joash, suggesting that Gideon took upon himself a dynastic title.

He was also something of a womanizer, using his prestige as the conqueror of Midian to gather wives and concubines to himself like a king. Gathering wives was an unusual occurrence among private citizens and it is expressly forbidden by Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Judges 8:30 says Gideon had 70 sons, which may be an idealized number because in Canaanite mythology, the false god El and Asherah supposedly had 70 sons. Hence, the number 70 could be a dig at Gideon’s character.

Along with gathering women, Gideon also took an unnamed woman as a concubine, which suggests she was a mistress. She bore him a son that he named Abimelech, which means, “The king is my father” and he is an unusual character in the saga of the Judges.

All of Gideon’s pagan-like conduct led the people back to a life of idolatry. The people worshiped the Baals and specifically Baal-Berith, which means, “The Baal of the covenant.” This Baal is a significant deity, because His name suggests Israel was involved with a covenant with the Canaanite deity. In this case, it could mean that the Israelites immediately under Gideon’s judgeship were now involved with some established covenant with this Baal.

Now, all of that is introduction that sets us up for chapter 9, which is like an addendum to Gideon’s life. I’ll briefly look at three acts of Abimelech.

Abimelech’s Treachery – [9:1-6]

Abimelech was more than likely a cast off from his other brothers because his mother was a mistress of Gideon and not one of his true wives.

Abimelech goes to his mother’s family and convinces them of the need to make him king. He stirs up a bit of fear with them, asking them what would be better, letting the sons of Jerubbaal-Gideon rule over him, or himself. They of course side with Abimelech.

In order to secure his throne, he then hires a band of 70 thugs, paying them a shekel a piece, to kill off his half-brothers on Gideon’s side of his family. They attacked and killed them and publicly “crowned” Abimelech king.

Abimelech’s Rebuke – [9:7-21]

Abimelech thought he had killed all of Gideon’s sons, but he was mistaken. The youngest son, Jotham, was able to hide himself from the slaughter of his brothers. When he heard what had happened, he went to Mt. Gerizim, north of Shechem, and from the top, yelled down at the phony king and his “army.” He spoke a prophetic parable in the hearing of the men. The parable told about the trees seeking for a king to rule over them. They asked the olive tree, the fig tree, then the grape vine, but all of them refused. The trees eventually asked for the bramble bush, what would be something like a tumble weed, to rule over them, and it said yes. In other words, they chose to make a worthless, annoying weed to rule over them.

Jotham then rebukes them further by reminding the people of Shechem how Gideon had fought for them, defending them from the Midianites. Yet here they are committing this treachery against his family and they will be sorely judged for it.

Abimelech’s Demise – [9:22-57]

Everything is going swimmingly for Abimelech for three years as he plays like he is a big shot king. However, God moves in judgment against him. Verse 24 explains how both groups were duplicitous in the murder of Gideon’s sons, “that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.”

Setting that judgment into motion, Judges 9:23 says that God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem. This was more than just a bad feeling of ill will, but a genuine evil spirit, a diabolical being sent to stir up strife. The Bible tells us that the devils are at God’s disposal. We see the devil sent by God to Job, an evil spirit sent to Saul, as well as one sent to stir up the prophets to lie to Ahab so he would go to war and be killed.

It is like the story of the two atheist college students who heard the old lady next door praying every morning asking God to provide for her during the day. One particular morning, they decided to mock her. She had prayed for God to provide her lunch, for she was very poor. Hearing her request through the open window, the two atheists guys went and bought her a bag of groceries. They left it on the front porch, rang the bell, and ran and hid in the bushes by the door. When the poor lady opened the door and saw the groceries, she exclaimed, “Thank You Lord for this food!” The two guys jumped out and said, “God didn’t give you that food, WE DID!” She replied, “The Lord has sent two devils to bring me my food.”

The strife stirred up by this evil spirit resulted in two events.

First, the men of Shechem would lay in ambush against anyone travelling to see Abimelech and rob them. Secondly, a man named Gaal came to Shechem and led a rebellion against Abimelech. He openly mocked him and the people of Shechem turned their allegiance from Abimelech to Gaal. Upon seeing this, a man named Zebul, still loyal to Abimelech, sent him word secretly as to what was happening.

Moved by anger, Abimelech gathered his army of men, went to Shechem by night and lay in wait. When the city gates were opened the next morning, they rushed the city. Gaal, caught off guard, mustered a group to meet them to fight, but they were beaten and Gaal fled in fear as to what had happened. Then, the next day, when the people went out into the fields, Abimelech attacked them as well. He killed many of them and the leaders and those remaining fled into the temple of Baal-Berith and their Abimelech trapped them all inside and burned them alive, thus fulfilling Jotham’s parable/prophecy.

Next, Abimelech turns his attention to the neighboring town, Thebez, with the intention of burning them down as well. The people barricade themselves in a strong tower. Intending to lay siege upon the tower and burn it like he had at Shechem, a lady at the top heaved a mill stone, a stone maybe the size of a large brick, that struck Abimelech squarely on the head with enough force to mortally wound him. As he was dying, he commanded a young man to thrust him through with a sword so that his final blow would be from the hand of a man, and not a woman.

And thus ended the self-appointed reign of Abimelech.

Disqualifying Your Ministry

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1 Corinthians 9

I have been exploring the extent of Christian liberty as it relates to Paul’s teaching on the topic of eating meat sacrificed to idols from 1 Corinthians 8-10.

Previous posts can be read here, PART 1 and PART 2

In review, Paul opens his argument in I Corinthians 8 by explaining how eating meat sacrificed to idols can be a danger for believers. He confronts and rebukes the Corinthian Christians for their egregious abuse of liberty that was damaging the testimony of their church and bringing reproach upon Christ. They believed that because they understood that idol worship really did nothing spiritually to a Christian, they had the right to participate as believers in the pagan temple rituals of Corinth. Paul spends three chapters in his letter explaining how they were wrong about their participation in pagan temples, and exhorted them to get out of those places and have nothing to do with them.

Beginning in chapter 9, Paul moves to correcting their abuse of liberty by drawing their attention to his personal ministry and missionary endeavors. His ministry as an apostle gave him the right, or freedom, to ask and receive financial assistance from those to whom he ministered. Paul instead relinquished his financial rights so as not to be an unnecessary stumbling block that would hinder the spreading of the Gospel. Likewise, he exhorts the Corinthian believers to not disqualify their ministry in Corinth.

Keep in mind that the pagan temple services were societal and cultural gatherings for those in Corinth. If a person wanted influence, social status, connections, and personal power within the Corinthian social ranks, that person received invitations to any pagan festivals, rituals, or feasts. If he were to forsake those invitations, he not only gave up social prestige and getting ahead in Corinthian society, there was also the possible forfeiture of financial gain.

Considering the argument that the Corinthians would personally lose there social benefit if they were to give up their so-called liberty engaging in temple ceremonies, Paul points to his own life and ministry. In chapter 9:1-14, Paul lays out his reasons why he not only had the freedom, but the very right, to ask for financial gain from the Corinthians, but yielding up those rights brought so much more spiritual benefit for the Gospel’s sake.

He starts out speaking to his apostleship, 9:1-6. Just as the other apostles exercised their right to financial support, and even the support of their wives, so too did Paul and Barnabas have such a right. Next, he points out how soldiers are taken care of by the army, farmers eat the produce of their own fields, and shepherds can partake from their own flock, 9:7. He then points out the scriptural principle that one who plows has the freedom to eat of what it is he plants, 9:9-10.

In like manner, Paul explains how the Corinthians were the product of his ministry and he had a right to ask them for financial support, 9:11-12. And then he states that those who perform sacred duties, which could include both pagan and believing ministers, regularly share from the altar, 9:13-14. In other words, they are supported financially by those who attend the temple or seek out their spiritual services.

Now the question may be asked, “What does financial support have to do with disqualifying someone’s ministry?”

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A couple of thoughts,

First off, Greek and Roman culture valued oratory. In other words, an erudite speaker with the ability to articulate ideas and persuade with his words so that he compelled listeners with the philosophy he presented, would have the potential for a lucrative talent. In fact, he could be paid quite well.

Additionally, the educated leisure class, or those who commonly frequented the pagan temple festivities, believed that anyone who did not charge for his speaking abilities obviously did not have anything substantive to say. The message he presented was essentially worthless. A really good lecturing philosopher would charge for his philosophy talks. Paul countered that thinking frequently during his ministry. For instance, he responded to the Corinthians for this very attitude in 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5.

Yet Paul chose not to charge for his preaching, nor did he care about his speaking talent at all. Instead, he refused his right to receive money from the Corinthians and supported his own way through tent-making and other means. He then points to his custom as an example as to why the Corinthians should put aside any liberty they believed they had with participating in pagan temple rituals and get themselves out of those places.

Paul, then, lays out three broad reasons how the Corinthians can disqualify their own ministry if they would not give up their misguided liberty.

Devalues God’s Calling – 15-18. God had called Paul to salvation; to be HIS apostle who carried the Gospel.  However, if he preached the Gospel, as “under compulsion” (vs.16), accountable to others apart from the Lord, he would be beholden to a big donor or perhaps a group of donors. In other words, the Gospel he preached may not be the true Gospel, but the one his benefactors wished him to preach because they gave Paul money.

Paul on the other hand makes it clear that he is beholden to no living person. He is only accountable to God because he choose to give up his rights when it came to making a living at ministry. While he was entitled to financial support, he saw how it could possibly cause others to doubt the credibility of his overall ministry, thus discrediting God’s calling on his life.

Diminishes His Service – 19-21. Paul turns to explaining how surrendering his rights to be supported for ministry freed him for more service (vs.19). Freed from any obligation to a set of supporters provided him liberty to minister to a wide variety of people.

On the one hand, he made himself like the Jews, or what he describes as “those under law.” He wasn’t unnecessarily offensive to the Jewish people, but accommodated their practices for the purpose of having inroads to their synagogues.

An excellent example of Paul’s ministry in this fashion is seen in Acts 16:1-4 where he has his young disciple, Timothy, circumcised so as not to be an offense to the Jews. Paul certainly recognized that honoring certain Jewish tradition did not add anything to his salvation (vs.20), but it did provide him the ability to attend Jewish gatherings for the purpose of proclaiming the true Gospel.

Yet on the other hand, when necessary, he adjusted his ministry to reach gentiles, or those “without the law,” with the Gospel. He avoided the snobbery that Jews often displayed against the gentiles, like for example Peter’s separation from the gentiles when other Jews from Jerusalem visited with him at Antioch (Galatians 2:11-13).

And just so that Paul was clear to the Corinthians, when he states he is “without the law,” he is not saying he lives a lawless life with no holiness. He is submitted to the “law of Christ,” (vs.21). That doesn’t mean he lives under an entirely different expression of the law of God, but that his ministry is directed by Christ-likeness. Similar to what Paul will later write in this letter in 11:1 to be “imitators of me as I am of Christ,” or how the law of Christ constrains him to bear one another’s burdens in Galatians 6:2.

Damages Others – 22-27. Lastly, Paul explains how continuing with the participation in temple festivities can disqualify one’s ministry by losing the opportunity to present the Gospel to the weak.

Now the question among commentators at this point is who does Paul have in mind when he mentions “the weak?” Is it the idea previously discussed in chapter 8, a person with a weak conscience? A Christian who has a thin faith and lacks the knowledge of God like the strong, and who could easily fall back into patterns of sin from which he was saved? Or does he have something else entirely in mind?

The understanding  that the weak is a person struggling with his conscience on matters like whether or not Christians have the liberty to eat idol food would make sense if Paul’s main argument in 8-10 is for the strong to show love for the weak in faith by giving up their liberty for their sake. But as was established in the previous articles in this study, Paul’s argument is for the Corinthians to totally remove themselves from pagan temples and idol feasts. He isn’t trying to settle a dispute between those with the freedom of knowledge to eat idol food and those still trapped by their weak consciences.

Considering the context here, it is better to understand the weak as not Christians with weak consciences, but as unbelievers who were the social underclass in Corinth and could never prosper from the participation in temple culture from their rituals. The primary reason for drawing that conclusion has to do with Paul’s overall discussion from 19-27.

The illustrations in chapter 9 are used by Paul for explaining how giving up his right to financial support helps him further the Gospel. His reasoning from 19-22 for giving up that right is so that he could reach the lost in all levels of society, Jews, Gentiles, and now the weak. If the weak were already Christians, categorizing them with unbelieving Jews and gentiles is strange.

The point he is making is meant to confront the Corinthians who used their liberty at the pagan temples as a means for their personal financial gain. Their right to be free in regards to temple rituals and feasts not only isolated them from those Christians who could be led astray back into idol worship, but also from the unbelievers who were of a lower social class with no economic ability to participate in those temple practices. For Paul, he relinquishes his financial rights for the weak so he can bring them the saving Gospel, (22-23).

As Paul concludes his thought, he notes the discipline of athletes, (24-27). A runner who wishes to win the gold medal will discipline himself so that he can obtain it. He denies himself leisure time, and instead runs to build endurance. He limits his diet, eating those foods that will strengthen his body. He takes care of his feet, perhaps spending extra money on well-made running shoes.

In the same way, Christians need to discipline themselves, and that would be centered squarely on limiting what perceived liberty they believe they have. In doing so, it will keep them from a disqualified ministry that limits the effectiveness of the Gospel.

Neanderthals, Jesus, and Wine

cavemenSo back toward the end of July, I spent a late afternoon California time chatting with the BTWN guys. We talked about Creation Ministries republishing my article addressing Neanderthal/human hybrids and how Reason to Believe’s teaching on that topic is detrimental to Christian apologetics.

We then turned our attention to offering a critique of Darren Doane’s Jesus is Wine hermeneutic he articulated at the ReformCon2016 during the live Apologia radio recording. My focus was not upon the dust up between Apologia and their critics, but upon the typological mindset that allows a person to read the Bible in such a haphazard fashion.

Here’s the episode

BTWN Episode 192

Remember to listen at 1.5x speed because we sound much more intelligent.

A Real Quick Book Review

rapture“17” REASONS Why The Rapture Will Be on September 22nd 2017
by No Man Knoweth
105 pgs., paper
lulu.com

One of the more fun perks I have with working for Grace to You is seeing the myriad of books people will send our ministry. A lot of the books come in manuscript form sent by the author or publisher asking if John would be willing to review the material and write an endorsement for the book. Others have already been published and either the author or publisher want to send a complimentary copy to John or Phil for some reason or another. Sometimes we get multiple copies and I get to snag them for myself.

The really fun ones are those books that clearly emanate from the outer fringes of the so-called Christian world. Generally, those books are sent to us by some well-meaning, but clearly undiscerning listener who believes the book in question just has to be read by John MacArthur because the truths contained therein are so profound and important, reading it will open his eyes to what is really going on in the church or the world or whatever.

For years after it was published, for instance, GTY received at least one to two copies of Gail Riplinger’s, New Age Bible Versions, almost on a monthly basis, with an attached note written by the sender begging John to, “read this book to see the truth of what was happening to our Bibles!” We had a small shelf filled with them until we had to dump them. Those kind of books provide a unique glimpse into the deep, dark bowels of American evangelicalism. Most of the folks here at GTY flip through them, get a laugh, and then toss them out. I however, because I am a fan of unusual and obscure curiosities and conspiracy theories, eat those books up like they are candy cigarettes.

thingSo last week, Phil received a little paperback in the mail entitled, “17” Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be On September 22nd, 2017. He tweeted out a picture of the book; I immediately had to go see it for myself. Thankfully, I was able get it away from Phil long enough so I could skim over the pages to see what those 17 reasons would be. I mean, who is to say the book could be wrong? After hundreds of prophetic date setting books being printed over the years, surely there has to be one that gets all the details right. I’d hate to be that guy who misses out on having all that inside info before the Antichrist and the spawns of hell are unleashed upon the earth.

The book is written by No Man Knoweth, or for my review purposes, Nomak. (I’m only assuming Nomak is a man’s name, so please forgive me if it’s Miss Nomak). The book is in a plain, glossy white cover, (or maybe it is egg shell white, I get my color swatches mixed up), with merely the title in candy apple red printed on the front. I appreciate the humble approach by the author. No fancy designs and pictures that distract from the importance of the information contained within.

Nomak lays out his case in a brief 105 pages as to why he thinks the rapture will happen on September 22, of 2017. With books like this, I believe brevity is the better way to go; get right to the point. Additionally, Nomak avoids all the screaming hysteria typical of the prophetic-date setting genre. That means there is no gratuitous over use of ALL CAPS and exclamation points. It is hard reading a book where I feel as though the author is yelling at me. Instead, Nomak has opted for a more conversational style, using the candy apple red lettering, along with bold italics, to emphasize significant information one should ponder. I appreciated that. He wants to persuade with his arguments, not shout down at people for being idiots.

According to Nomak, he was inspired to write his short book from one Edger Whisenant wrote called, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988. [17 Reasons, i]. The problem with Whisenant’s failed date-setting book was the fact that technology was not at the place in 1988 for the Antichrist to pull off what he needs to do technologically so to deceive the world in a short 3 and a half years of the tribulation. Whisenant did not realize this important point in the 1980s. [ibid].

After that brief introduction, Nomak outlines his 17 reasons and expounds a little bit on each one. I’ll review them in turn here,

#1 – The signs Jesus presents during His Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24, Mark 13. The phrase, know man knows the day and the hour, is really a Hebrew idiom speaking to when Rosh Hashanah will take place on the Hebrew festival calendar.

#2 – The astrological star chart that speaks to the Gospel in the Stars when interpreted correctly will give us the exact date of September 22-23 as the starting of the Jubilee of Jubilee’s fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.

#3 – The 6 Day war in 1967 restarted the prophetic time clock for Israel. 2017 will be the 50th year of the 6 Day war.

#4 – God’s Feasts point to the rapture in September 22, 2017.

#5 – Rosh Hashanah, 2017, will fall in year 5777 of the Jewish calendar. 777 is the number of completion.

#6 – The last ten historical years of Jubilee are all tied to significant events in Jewish history.

#7 – The blowing of the shofar trumpet will take place on September 22, 2017.

#8 – The fulfillment of Revelation 17:10-11, with the seven kings who are fallen being the last seven popes before the 8th, who is pope Francis.

#9 – The four blood moons point to a significant sign in the constellation of Leo the lion (a symbol for Christ), that will have exactly 12 stars in the year 2017.

#10 – The four horsemen of the apocalypse represent the totality of Islam which will rise in power before the rapture. The white, red, black, and green on the pan-Islamic flag.

#11 – Allah is a false god, who is called “the deity.” (he doesn’t really explain how this is a reason, sadly).

#12 – The Ottoman empire represented the feet of clay in the statue of Daniel’s vision, Daniel 2.

#13 – The Ottoman empire will rise again during the end-times before the rapture.

#14 – The rise of Islam’s influence throughout the world. (I think he could have combined #13 and #14 into one point, but I figure that would have wrecked his working title and he would had to have gone back and done a big re-edit).

#15 – Planet X will come to destroy the world. (Google it).

collide#16 – God will give humanity over to a strong delusion to accept an alien messiah. Alien, in the sense of little grey men like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

#17 – Myles, Nomak’s guardian messenger, gave him the 17th reason, which has to do with how Satan is deceiving everyone about the true nature of grey aliens, who are really human/demon hybrids like in Noah’s day before the flood.

mylesNomak ends his book with an exhortation to stand fast in these final days. The end of the world is knocking on our doors, he passionately explains, and we need to go to Jesus to be saved before these events happen or you risk being left behind. He further recommends watching a video posted on the AV Biblebeliever’s youtube channel describing how Roman Catholicism and Islam are connected. In fact, he is so convinced that you will be blown away by the contents of that video, he highlights it several times throughout his book.

He closes his book with a model prayer you can pray, in sky blue font to offset it from the candy apple red font in other parts of his book, in order to be saved. He then signs off telling the reader how he loves us all.

The book is a quick read, and you can obtain a copy for $6.95 at the lulu.com, self-publishing website.