Friday, February 27, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

One of the most impressive stories in the entire Bible is the tale of Joshua when he battled against the Phoenicians. The Bible says on this matter:

"It was then that Joshua proceeded to speak to Jehovah on the day of Jehovah’s abandoning the Amorites to the sons of Israel, and he went on to say before the eyes of Israel: 'Sun, be motionless over Gibeon, and, moon, over the low plain of Aijalon.' Accordingly the sun kept motionless, and the moon did stand still, until the nation could take vengeance on its enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun kept standing still in the middle of the heavens and did not hasten to set for about a whole day. And no day has proved to be like that one, either before it or after it, in that Jehovah listened to the voice of a man, for Jehovah himself was fighting for Israel."
-Joshua 10:12-14

If this is to be believed, the rotation of the earth was halted for "about a whole day". This seems impossible, doesn't it? The Bible doesn't think so. "Sun--moon--stood still, in the lofty abode thereof. Like light your own arrows kept going. The lightning of your spear served for brightness." (Habakkuk 3:11) Jehovah inspired the prophet Habakkuk to reiterate this fact, proving that it really happened.

When you think about it, too, Jesus did say that "with God, all things are possible" even this because "to [Jehovah] the day belongs, to [Jehovah] the night belongs. [Jehovah Him]self prepared the luminary, even the sun." (Matthew 19:26; Psalm 74:16) If Jehovah owns the day and the night and the sun, why can't he stop all of that from moving and still preserve life like a child can make a coin start spinning and then make it stop? No, it is not impossible.

Are their any extra-Biblical sources that verify this account though? Let us see.

What Does Science and History Say?

If Joshua had a long day then it would be logical to think that in other places around the world, there would be accounts of a long dusk, dawn, and night. Are there any records throughout the world that prove this?

Researcher David Nelson writes: "Chinese history speaks of Yao, their king, declaring that in his reign the sun stood so long above the horizon that it was feared the world would have been set on fire" and then he fixes the reign of Yao at a given date, which corresponds with the age of Joshua the son of Nun.[1]

Another Researcher, Harry Rimer, says, "In the ancient Chinese writings there is a legend of a long day. The Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico have a like record, and there is a Babylonian and a Persian legend of a day that was miraculously extended. Another section of China contributes an account of the day that was miraculously prolonged, in the reign of Emperor Yeo. Herodotus recounts that the priests of Egypt showed him their temple records, and that there he read a strange account of a day that was twice the natural length."[2]

One other researcher, Immanuel Velikovsky, wrote, "In the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan--the history of the empire of Culhuacan and Mexico, written in Nahua-Indian in the sixteenth century--it is related that during a cosmic catastrophe that occurred in the remote past, the night did not end for a long time."[3] In a footnote, Velikovsky writes that the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan were written more then 1000 years before the Common Era. Further, Velikovsky had a theory that at some time in the middle of the second millennium B.C., one of two things occurred. The earth was interrupted in its regular rotation by a comet, or the terrestrial axis was tilted in the presence of a strong magnetic field, so that for several hours the sun appeared to moving from the point-of-view of someone on earth.

Other theories as to the cause of Joshua's Long Day have been presenting, one popular one being that Jehovah God Himself stopped the rotation of the earth.

Unfortunately, we cannot know how Jehovah extended the day, but ancient history lends support to the Bible record.

Scientifically, too, evidence has been discovered that lends support to Velikovsky's theory that a comet, asteroid, or meteor stopped the turning of the earth. One expert, V.L. Westberg wrote in a review to a book on this subject, "I feel a more realistic theory is to examine the possibility of a huge meteor or asteroid plunging into the earth's mantle slowing it down about one revolution while the inner molten core continued to rotate and eventually pull the mantle back in speed. [The writer of the book] recounted how Newton demonstrated how the earth could be suddenly slowed down without appreciable shock to people."[4]

Some scientific findings lend support to this theory. There exist a large sink area between Hawaii and the Philippines with long fracture lines in the ocean bottom radiating outward to the continents. The effect of such a crash would be maximum at the equator on slowing the earth and would result in huge tidal waves which might help explain studies on California's sand deposits.

However, this is just one theory. I do not necessarily believe this theory or support it. Anything as to the cause of Joshua's Long Day is possible. However, this proves that science and history do lend support to the account at Joshua 10:12-14.

The Power of Jehovah Knows No Bounds

However Jehovah stopped the rotation of the earth, we know that it is indeed possible. Many people look at the miracles in the Bible and make themselves disbelieve them because they are too logic-minded.

"What is impossible with men is possible with God."-Luke 18:27

Jehovah can do anything. He flooded the entire earth, effectively destroying all wicked people. (Genesis 6:17; 7:19-20) He sent an angel to destroy 185,000 Assyrians in one night. (2 Kings 19:35) He even made a day shadow retreat ten steps, something else that is not humanly possible. (2 Kings 20:9-11) Yes, with God, everything is possible, even making the rotation of the earth stop for one whole day.

Praise Jehovah!


[1] The Cause and Cure of Infidelity, pp. 26-27.

[2] The Harmony of Science and Scripture, pp. 269-270.

[3] Worlds in Collision, pp. 45, 46.

[4] Ibid., p. 76

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is the Roman's Road the Way to Go?

It is said that everything that a Christian needs in order to accept salvation and learn what God requires is embodied in the book of Romans. Many people preach nothing "except Jesus Christ, and him crucified" and nothing else. (1 Corinthians 2:2, New English Translation) Is this really the way to go? Is our message exclusively "Jesus Christ, and him impaled"?-New World Translation

While the death of Jesus Christ was a major point of the teachings of Paul, John, James, and Peter in the Christian Scriptures, this was not the only thing they wrote about. Many times they wrote about Christian conduct, the Last Days, the apostasy, the importance of faith. Jude originally wanted to compose his letter to talk about "the salvation we hold in common" but realized that it was more important to speak on "put[ting] up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones." (Jude 3) The circumstances dictated his message.

Paul's example in the book of Acts is paramount. When making a speech in front of a pagan audience, he did not immediately start in on a "Roman's Road" direction, how to gain salvation, but he started on a point which they would understand. (Acts 17:22-29) He then went onto more of a "Roman Road"-ish topic.-Acts 17:30-31

The Bible is a big book. There are many points contained in the inspired Word that we do well to mediate on. "For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4) Jehovah gave us the entire Bible. He didn't just give us the book of Romans nor did He just give us Matthew-Hebrews. The Bible contains priceless wisdom and teachings on many things.

"Jesus Christ, and him impaled" is a very, very important topic. Jesus Christ died for a number of reason, one being that it would help in the furtherance of Jehovah's purpose, namely, a heavenly kingdom. Due to his faithfulness, Jesus Christ is King of that heavenly kingdom. (Psalm 2:6; 110:1-2; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 12:5, 10) If he had not died, the purpose of the kingdom would not be able to be fulfilled. The preaching of that kingdom was the main concern of Christ's teaching.-Luke 4:43; 8:1

So, while a "Roman's Road"-ish message is important, Jesus died for our sins and "there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved", that is not all that we talk about. It is "to be witnessed to at its own particular times." (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:6) Jesus Christ told us that we should preach the "good new of the kingdom" and, while the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ as an essential aspect of that message, it should not detract from the rest of that good news.-Matthew 24:14

I Did Not Want to Go to the Meeting

I remembered, though, Paul's admonition continue to "consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near" and so I went. (Hebrews 10:24-25) Afterwards, I couldn't be happier that I made that decision.

The talk was entitled, "Lovers of Pleasures or Lovers of God?" based off of 2 Timothy 3:1, 4 by a visiting brother. The talk was very good, I really enjoyed it. The article in The Watchtower about Jesus Christ based off of John 14:6, "I am the Way and the Truth and Life. No one comes to the Father except through me" was very nice and interesting. We had our bound volumes and WT CD-ROM's come in and I personally approached the brothers and sisters to give them their copies, instead of having them come to us.

I found that after the meeting, I was so happy and in good-spirits. Jehovah's holy spirit really works wonders, does it not? And I know that Jesus, as head of the congregation, was with us as we worshiped. (Matthew 18:20) I thank Jehovah God through Jesus Christ my Lord for all of the things He has done for us and the spiritual food He has provided for us!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Are Jehovah's Witnesses False Prophets?

Many people look at predictions that Jehovah's Witnesses made based on misinterpretations of Bible text and say that they made false prophecies. This is a very serious matter. If these were prophecies that the Jehovah's Witnesses were making then they are certainly not people that deserve to be listened to.

"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."-Deuteronomy 18:20-22, King James Version

If a prophet makes a false prophecy, then they are deserving of death. How can you know when someone has made a prophecy? "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD." Yes, there is a difference between a prediction and a prophecy although many will argue that the line is thin. Even if that is so, the line is still there and maybe not as thin as many may think.

Take two examples from the Bible. One is a true prophet and one is a false prophet. Both made mistakes but only one was worthy of death.

The first is Nathan, a true prophet. The Bible says:
"And it came about that, when the king dwelt in his own house and Jehovah himself had given him rest from all his enemies round about, then the king said to Nathan the prophet: 'See, now, I am dwelling in a house of cedars while the ark of the true God is dwelling in the middle of tent cloths.' Upon that Nathan said to the king: 'Everything that is in your heart—go, do, because Jehovah is with you.'

"And it came about on that night that the word of Jehovah came to Nathan, saying: 'Go, and you must say to my servant David, "This is what Jehovah has said: 'Should you yourself build me a house for me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house from the day of my bringing the sons of Israel up out of Egypt to this day, but I was continually walking about in a tent and in a tabernacle..."

"'...And Jehovah has told you that a house is what Jehovah will make for you. When your days come to the full, and you must lie down with your forefathers, then I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, which will come out of your inward parts; and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom. He is the one that will build a house for my name, and I shall certainly establish the throne of his kingdom firmly to time indefinite."-2 Samuel 7:1-6, 11-13

Nathan here made a prediction and, even though a prophet, was not executed as if he had made a false prophecy. This shows that people can make predictions about the future and not be false prophets.

A striking feature of false prophets is that they claim to have some type of divine revelation. Take Hananiah for example.

"Then it came about in that year, in the beginning of the kingdom of Zedekiah the king of Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet who was from Gibeon, said to me in the house of Jehovah before the eyes of the priests and of all the people: 'This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said, "I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two full years more I am bringing back to this place all the utensils of the house of Jehovah that Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon took from this place that he might bring them to Babylon."' And '"Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, and all the exiles of Judah who have come to Babylon I am bringing back to this place," is the utterance of Jehovah, "for I shall break the yoke of the king of Babylon."'...At that Hananiah the prophet took the yoke bar from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke it. And Hananiah went on to say before the eyes of all the people: "This is what Jehovah has said, 'Just like this I shall break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon within two full years more from off the neck of all the nations.' And Jeremiah the prophet proceeded to go his way."-Jeremiah 28:1-4, 10-11

Hananiah was later put to death by Jehovah for being a false prophet. (Jeremiah 28:15-17) Nathan was not put to death. This showed that not all predictions are prophecies and are not warranting death nor do they warrant the person being ignored.

What Jehovah's Witnesses do is look into the Bible, find what it says, study any chronology, and then tell us when something is going to happen based on their studies. This is no different then what the prophet Daniel did. The Bible says, "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus of the seed of the Medes, who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reigning I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years." (Daniel 9:1-2) Daniel was not given divine revelation but followed the same course as Jehovah's Witnesses. He studied the available Scriptures and was able to ascertain when certain events would take place. In this way he was able to see when the Jews would return to Jerusalem.

The biggest question that deserves an answer and which will be key in determining the status of Jehovah's Witnesses as false prophets or not is if they claim to be prophets. Have they ever said, "This is what Jehovah has said" or "The utterance of Jehovah is"? If they have and their prophecy did not come true, then they are indeed false prophets. Have they claimed divine inspiration? Let us look at some of their past statements.

"We have not the gift of prophecy."
-Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1883, page 425

"Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build."
-Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, 15 December 1896, page 2080

"It is not our intention to enter upon the role of prophet to any degree, but merely to give below what seems to us rather likely to be the trend of events—giving also the reasons for our expectations."
-Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, 1 March 1904, page 3327

"Many students have made the grievous mistake of thinking that God has inspired men to interpret prophecy. The holy prophets of the Old Testament were inspired by Jehovah to write as his power moved upon them. The writers of the New Testament were clothed with certain power and authority to write as the Lord directed them. However, since the days of the apostles no man on earth has been inspired to write prophecy, nor has any man been inspired to interpret prophecy."
-From the book "Prophecy" Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1929, pages 61-62

"The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic. It invites careful and critical examination of its contents in the light of the Scriptures."
-The Watchtower, 15 August 1950, pages 262-263

Obviously, Jehovah's Witnesses have never claimed to have any divine revelation from God in what they write or teach. Like Daniel, though, they have searched the Scriptures to see what the Bible says will happen. Sometimes they have misinterpreted certain Scriptures but then again, who hasn't?

Many religious groups have made "prophecies"--actually, predictions--of things that would occur, some even giving specific dates. These include Lutherans, Baptists, Anabaptists, Presbyterians, Mormons, Assemblies of God, the Anglican Church, Catholics, and more. Jehovah's Witnesses are not the only group who have ever made predictions based on their understanding of Bible text that proved to be wrong. However, many lay more blame on Jehovah's Witnesses then any other religious group due to the fact that they hate us, thinking of us as a unorthodox.

Some argue that Jehovah's Witnesses have gotten too specific, choosing certain dates as the return of Christ. To them, this is what characterizes us as a cult? Well, look at three people who predicted times for the return of Christ who are well respected religious leaders.

"1836 [will be] the end of the non-chronos, and of the many kings; the fulfilling of the word, and of the mystery of God; the repentance of the survivors in the great city; the end of the 'little time,' and of the three times and a half; the destruction of the east; the imprisonment of Satan."
-John Wesley Wesley's Notes of the Bible, written throughout his life, 1703-1791

"I sincerely believe that the Lord draweth nigh. We may have another year, maybe two years, to work for Jesus Christ, and, Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe it is all going to be over ... two years and it’s all going to be over."
-Billy Graham, 1950 at a rally in Los Angeles, California

"Christ has given a sign by which one can know when the Judgment Day is near. When the Turk will have an end, we can certainly predict that the Judgment must be at the door."
-Martin Luther

Martin Luther, Billy Graham, and John Wesley were not false prophets. They did make predictions based on their interpretation of the Bible that turned out to not be true but that does not make them guilty of false prophecy. They are guilty, though, of making these things seem as if they were without a doubt.

Jehovah's Witnesses, on the other hand have always told people that their interpretations of events could be wrong.

"We are not prophesying; we are merely giving our surmises . . . We do not even aver that there is no mistake in our interpretation of prophecy and our calculations of chronology. We have merely laid these before you, leaving it for each to exercise his own faith or doubt in respect to them."
-Regarding 1914: Zion's Watch Tower, January 1, 1908, page 4110

"The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year."
-Regarding 1925: The Watch Tower, January 1, 1925, page 3

"'What about the year 1975? What is it going to mean, dear friends?' asked Brother Franz. 'Does it mean that Armageddon is going to be finished, with Satan bound, by 1975? It could! It could! All things are possible with God. Does it mean that Babylon the Great is going to go down by 1975? It could. Does it mean that the attack of Gog of Magog is going to be made on Jehovah’s witnesses to wipe them out, then Gog himself will be put out of action? It could. But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975.'"
-The Watchtower, 15 October 1966, page 631

If Jehovah's Witnesses have never falsely prophesied, why do people treat them so bad? These people are against any belief system that does not conform to theirs. Many of these people know better, they know that Jehovah's Witnesses have never made false prophecies but they attack them anyway. These people, called apostates, used to be Jehovah's Witnesses and then stopped for various reasons. These then turn around and attack us--sometimes physically! Why? I do not know. However, Brother Charles Russell said it best:

"All who cut loose from the Society and its work, instead of prospering themselves or upbuilding others in the faith and in the graces of the spirit, seemingly do the reverse--attempt injury to the Cause they once served, and, with more or less noise, gradually sink into oblivion, harming only themselves and others possessed of a similarly contentious spirit...But while we are willing that others should go anywhere and everywhere to find food and light to their satisfaction, strange to say, those who become our opponents take a very different course. Instead of saying in the manly fashion of the world, 'I have found something which I prefer; goodbye!' these manifest anger, malice, hatred, strife, 'works of the flesh and of the devil' such as we have never known worldly people to exhibit. They seem inoculated with madness, Satanic hydrophobia [rabies]...They are ready to say and write contemptible falsities and to stoop to do meanness."

We as Jehovah's Witnesses try to take this with a grain of salt, knowing that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ said, "Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you." (Matthew 5:11-12) No matter what people say, Jehovah's Witnesses are not false prophets.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Second Isaiah?

Many scholars believe that Isaiah 1-39 and Isaiah 40-66 were written by two different people, one before the fall of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. and one after the fall of Jerusalem. One reason they claim this is because of of the change in writing style in the two "halves" of the book. Is this a problem?

Absolutely not!

From chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66, there is an immense change of subject from these two "halves". 1-39 are more pronouncements of destruction to Judah and surrounding evil nations, while 40-66 are reassurances of restoration. (Isaiah 34:5-8, contrast Isaiah 55:12-13) Furthermore, certain phrases that are nearly unique to Isaiah are a good indication of the oneness of the two "halves". For example, the term "the Holy One of Israel" is found 12 times in chapters 1-39 and 13 times in 40-66. Throughout the rest of the Bible, that phrase is found only 6 times!-Isaiah 12:6; 54:5

Another indication of the book having been written by one author is the fact that Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul quoted from all parts of the book of Isaiah and accredited the one man. Obviously, Jesus would have been aware if Isaiah had been written by two different people.

Why, though, do critics make this charge and why are the so adamant about it? Because, if it is true that Isaiah wrote the entire book, it presents problems. You see, the book of Isaiah makes a startling prophecy which is very detailed and very accurate. And the prophecy was written nearly 200 years in advance!

"[Jehovah], the One making the word of his servant come true, and the One that carries out completely the counsel of his own messengers; the One saying of Jerusalem, 'She will be inhabited,' and of the cities of Judah, 'They will be rebuilt, and her desolated places I shall raise up'; the One saying to the watery deep, 'Be evaporated; and all your rivers I shall dry up'; the One saying of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out'; even in my saying of Jerusalem, 'She will be rebuilt,' and of the temple, 'You will have your foundation laid.'

"This is what Jehovah has said to his anointed one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, to subdue before him nations, so that I may ungird even the hips of kings; to open before him the two-leaved doors, so that even the gates will not be shut: 'Before you I myself shall go, and the swells of land I shall straighten out. The copper doors I shall break in pieces, and the iron bars I shall cut down.'"-Isaiah 44:26-45:2

This prophecy is of interest because it foretells--in great, accurate detail--the fall of Babylon and the restoration of Jerusalem. It even names the man who is to accomplish this--Cyrus. Did this prophecy come true?

Two hundred years after Isaiah, the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. One night, while a wild party was going on, the gates of Babylon were left open. Then a man, Cyrus the Great, diverted the water of the Euphrates River, making the protective water moat drain until Cyrus and his armies could cross on foot. This army walked right through the open gates of Babylon and took the city, virtually without a fight. Then, this new world power, the Medo-Persian world power, allowed all of the captives to return home, including the Jews. They even gave a command saying that the temple should be rebuilt. All of this happened as Isaiah foretold.

Now, in the book of Isaiah, yet another prophecy is awaiting fulfillment.

"And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea."-Isaiah 11:6-9
This is one of the first detailed prophecies about a coming paradise earth in the Bible.

In the second part of Isaiah, another prophecy regarding the same thing is uttered.
"Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: 'Look! My own servants will eat, but you yourselves will go hungry. Look! My own servants will drink, but you yourselves will go thirsty. Look! My own servants will rejoice, but you yourselves will suffer shame. Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart, but you yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart and you will howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit...For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation. And I will be joyful in Jerusalem and exult in my people; and no more will there be heard in her the sound of weeping or the sound of a plaintive cry.'

"'No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear.'"-Isaiah 65:13-24

Yes, our God, Jehovah, has promised an earthly paradise where all men will live in peace under the reign of Jesus Christ. He used His holy spirit to inspire Isaiah to write these things. He used the same Isaiah to write the first and second half of this book. The harmony throughout the book testifies to this. People who want to discredit the great prophecy mentioned at in Isaiah 44-45 will use any means necessary to make it seem unauthentic. However, we, with a little study and meditation, can surely see the hand of Jehovah on the same man--Isaiah!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Are We All Sons of God?

I have heard many people say that they are a son or daughter of God and for many years I believed that this was the case. However, the Scriptures do not teach that. We are not all Sons of God. How can we come to this conclusion?

In the Bible, there are only a handful of people and two groups that are called God's Sons. The first group were the faithful angels. "Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you do know understanding...When the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?" (Job 38:4, 7) Further, Israel as a group is called a Son of God.-Deuteronomy 14:1; Isaiah 43:6

The people that are called Sons of God are Adam, Solomon, and Jesus. (Luke 3:38; John 10:36) Solomon is a special case. He was called God's son when he was king of Jehovah's nation, Israel. And even then, he was not called God's son until God bestowed that title upon him, showing that this was not something he was from the very beginning of his life. (2 Samuel 7:14) The nation of Israel was a collective son of God because they were a "holy people...special property, out of all peoples" and because Jehovah had helped them along from the very beginning after He made the covenant with Abraham.-Deuteronomy 14:1-2*

After Israel lost this privilege, it was given to others--Anointed Christians. They were not, however, full sons of God. "God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman and who came to be under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, that we, in turn, might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5) Did all humans become adopted sons of God after Jesus' death, as some may argue the Scripture as saying? Paul says, "You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus."-Galatians 3:26; 4:6-7; John 1:11-12

Now, we must find out if this applies to all Christians, Anointed and the Great Crowd, or only to one group. Do we all become God's sons (by adoption) upon faith in Christ? No.
"For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: 'Abba, Father!' The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together." -Romans 8:14-17
Paul promises that these will be joint heirs with Christ and that they will be glorified, both of which do not apply to the Great Crowd.

Now, these Anointed Ones are not full sons of God, but only adopted sons. Will they be in this state forever? No. "[God] has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts." (2 Corinthians 1:22) One day they will be full sons of God while now patiently waiting and gladly being sons of God by adoption.

However, there is more! John says that Anointed Christians are "Firstfruits". This means that there must be ones who receive blessings afterwards. Yes, one day, all humans who pass the final test mentioned at Revelation 20:7-10 will be able to become earthly sons of God! Romans 8:19-23 is an indication that those with the earthly hope will one day become children of God.[1]

One other Scripture that proves that point is found in the book of Revelation.
"With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: 'Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away...anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.'" -Revelation 21:3-7
The context shows that those who reside on earth will be God's son.

So, while we are not sons of God as many people claim due to our being separate from God due to sin, this will not be the case forever. In fact, one day we, whether or the Anointed or the Great Crowd, will all have the "glorious freedom of the children of God!"-Romans 8:21

*The Israelites lost their position as a collective "son" after they lost his favor. (See Matthew 23:37-38; John 8:41-47) This is indication that sonship was not just from being descendants of Adam or Abraham but on their spiritual relationship.


[1] Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 999, pp. 5-7

Monday, February 9, 2009

Jesus--The Best Candidate of All

He has cures to all diseases and ailments-"At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness."-Isaiah 35:5-6

He proposes the ultimate healthcare program-"And no resident will say: 'I am sick.' The people that are dwelling in [the land] will be those pardoned for their error."-Isaiah 33:24
"And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”-Revelation 21:4

He provides food and shelter for all-"And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full."-Isaiah 65:21-22

He plans to end all wars-"He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons he burns in the fire."-Psalm 46:9
"And he will certainly render judgment among many peoples, and set matters straight respecting mighty nations far away. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore."-Micah 4:3

He promises to make the death rate drop to zero-"He will actually swallow up death forever."-Isaiah 25:8
"'Death is swallowed up forever.' 'Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?'”-1 Corinthians 15:55-56

He intends to drop the crime rate to zero-"And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be."-Psalms 37:10
"As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it."-Proverbs 2:22

He judges fairly, not based on income or race-"After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: 'Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb'...because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes."-Revelation 7:9-10, 17

He stays calm under pressure-"He was hard pressed, and he was letting himself be afflicted; yet he would not open his mouth. He was being brought just like a sheep to the slaughtering; and like a ewe that before her shearers has become mute, he also would not open his mouth."-Isaiah 53:7

He will never be replaced or kicked out of office-"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite."-Daniel 2:44

Friday, February 6, 2009

Did Jesus Teach "The Truth?"

Did Jesus Teach "the Truth"?

This question might seem odd to some. Of course Jesus taught the Truth! However, what I am referring to is a term commonly used by Jehovah's Witnesses. In reference to their belief system, Jehovah's Witnesses commonly say "the Truth" as in "He found the Truth", "We accepted the Truth", "She was raised around the Truth" or "They left the Truth." The "Truth" to one of Jehovah's Witnesses is the Truth found in the Bible, or exactly what their religion teaches. To them, the Truth in the Bible and the Truth that they teach are one and the same.

Many times, though, people will attack Jehovah's Witnesses and say that they do not have the Truth. They will even say that Jesus Christ did not teach the "Truth" as Jehovah's Witnesses teach it. Is this actually the case? We will look at a belief of Jehovah's Witnesses and then statements that Jesus made concerning that belief to see if Jesus Christ taught it.

A Complete Record?
First we must find if everything that Jesus spoke concerning the Truth (because whatever Jesus spoke is the Truth) is actually contained in the Bible. What does the Bible record say? "There are, in fact, many other things also which Jesus did, which, if ever they were written in full detail, I suppose, the world itself could not contain the scrolls written." (John 21:25) Obviously, Jesus' day-to-day affairs are not contained in the Scriptures. Did he have a favorite place to eat? We don't know. How many people followed him from the time he first began his ministry to the end? The Bible record is silent. Is everything he taught contained in the Scriptures? Probably not.

One man who wrote about Jesus that lived in the time of the Apostles was a man named Papias (Born before 70 C.E.-Died 155 C.E. in Smyrna) who claims to have talked to some Bible writers and other eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. This is certainly possible. Mark wrote his Gospel about 65 C.E., perhaps around the time Papias was born, and, therefore, may have lived on for Papias to grow into adulthood and John died about 100 C.E. Again, it makes it possible that Papias indeed knew Mark and John.

This should be taken into consideration because of something that Papias claims. He says someone who knew Jesus remembered a conversation between the Lord and Judas Iscariot about the coming paradise Earth. After Jesus supposedly gives an illustration about the abundance of food to be found in the coming new world Papias wrote, "But these things are credible to them that believe. And when Judas the traitor did not believe, [he] asked, 'How shall such growths be accomplished by the Lord?' he relates that the Lord said, 'They shall see, who shall come to these [times].'" [1]

The very fact that Papias says that Christ was teaching a paradise earth is noteworthy. Further, it adds some credibility to his claim. It does not, however, verify its authenticity. You see, supposedly, Papias wrote things that contradicted Holy Scripture and added his own interpretation to things Christ and the Apostles taught. But those claims even are not known for sure. None of the writings that we have from Papias today are preserved. We only have the writings of other men that quoted Papias--some of whom did not even like him! Obviously, these people could have misquoted Papias or even added things to his writings to discredit him. Unfortunately, because of this, we can not be certain that the things Papias wrote are correct, even what is quoted above. His writings are obviously of interest, though.

All of this reinforces the fact that all Jesus' words and actions are not quoted in the Bible so this list is not exhaustive. It does give us a basis for determining if the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses are compliant with the words of Jesus because, if they are not, then Jehovah's Witnesses do not have the Truth.

What Do Jehovah's Witnesses Believe? What Did Jesus Believe?

God's Name and Glory is of Highest Importance
"Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified."-Matthew 6:9
"Father, the hour has come; glorify your son, that your son may glorify you."-John 17:1
(See also: Matthew 5:16; Luke 10:21; John 12:28; John 17:26)

God created humans, we did not evolve
"“Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?"-Matthew 19:4

Christ is God's Son and is inferior to Him
"If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am."-John 14:28
(See also: John 8:42; John 20:17)

Christ was first of God's creations
"These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God."-Revelation 3:14

Christ's human life was paid as a ransom for obedient humans
"Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”-Matthew 20:28

Bible is God's Word and is truth
"Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth."-John 17:17

Bible is more reliable than tradition
"In reply he said to them: 'Why is it you also overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition?'"-Matthew 15:3

The dead cease to exist, soul not immortal
"He said these things, and after this he said to them: 'Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.' Therefore the disciples said to him: 'Lord, if he has gone to rest, he will get well.' Jesus had spoken, however, about his death. But they imagined he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. At that time, therefore, Jesus said to them outspokenly: 'Lazarus has died.'"-John 11:11-14

Hope for dead is resurrection
"The hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment."-John 5:25-29

Only a "little flock" go to heaven
“Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom."-Luke 12:32
(See also: Matthew 5:3)

Only those receiving the kingdom, the little flock, are born again
“Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”-John 3:3

All others not of "little flock" will live on earth forever
“Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth."-Matthew 5:5
( See also: John 10:16)

It is the duty of all Christians to preach about the kingdom of God
"As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’"-Matthew 10:7
(See also: Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:12)

Satan is the ruler of the world
"Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out."-John 12:31
(See also: John 14:30, John 16:11)

Christians are no part of the world
"If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you."-John 15:19
(See also John 17:16)

Christians are not under or bound by the Mosaic Law
"“The Law and the Prophets were until John [the Baptist]. From then on the kingdom of God is being declared as good news, and every sort of person is pressing forward toward it."-Luke 16:16

Prayers are to be directed only to Jehovah through Christ
"No matter what you ask the Father in my name he might give it to you."-John 15:16
(See also John 16:23)

Special titles are improper
"But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ."-Matthew 23:8-10

There is only one road to life
"Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it."-Matthew 7:13-14

Sound Support from Jesus
Jesus did teach "the Truth" as Jehovah's Witnesses refer to it. It is not made up of a Scripture here and a Scripture there all throughout the Bible. No, indeed Jesus believed what we believe. He taught what we teach. If you would like to learn more about what Christ taught and what Jehovah's Witnesses currently teach, you can write to the appropriate address or by electronic correspondence and Jehovah's Witnesses would gladly, indeed, feel privileged, to help you learn "the Truth"!-Matthew 10:7-8


[1] Preserved in Irenaeus’ Against All Heresies, 5:33:3-4

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Demas--Ran From Death

After talking about Agabus, we can come to the conclusion that the Bible is full of examples of good Christian men and women that we can model ourselves around. And that is true. However, there are also examples in the Scriptures that teach us what not to do. One such is a man named Demas.

Demas was a faithful Christian for a long time, being mentioned on three occasions, all in letters written by the Apostle Paul. "Sending you greetings fellow worker." (Philemon 1:23-24)* Demas must have worked hard with Paul, evidently being a fellow traveler with him. This reveals that Demas must have been a faithful Christian for a long time, since his record of faithful service would allow something like that.

So wonderful was Demas, he was mentioned in another letter possibly going to the same place, couriered by the same person. We read, "Luke the beloved physician sends you his greetings, and so does Demas." (Colossians 4:14) This further reveals that Demas was right there with Paul as he wrote his letters, perhaps being a faithful confidant. Truly, Demas had the rare privilege of traveling with Paul! How he must have burst with joy and excitement as he was asked to travel along with him!

However, things don't turn out so wonderfully in the end. The letter of Colossians and Philemon were written at the same time and sent to Colossae by Tychicus and Onesimus, a runaway slave. (Colossians 4:7-9) This letter, indeed, both Colossians and Philemon, were written and sent between 60 and 61 C.E. while Paul was imprisoned in Rome the first time.

About four to five years later, violent persecution is leveled at the Christians. Paul is imprisoned and sentenced to be executed. (2 Timothy 2:9; 4:6) Then, one of his loyal "fellow workers", yes, Demas, runs away. Why? "Because he loved the present system of things, and [so went] to Thessalonica."-2 Timothy 4:10

Demas was afraid to die. It was that simple.

Now, it would be wrong to make assumptions about Demas. All we know about this poor man is that he "loved the present system of things" enough to fear death, although he had a sure hope. He ran almost six hundred miles across land and sea from death. We do not know if he integrated himself into the local congregation in Thessalonica and continued to worship Jehovah and follow Jesus Christ or anything about him after that. We are not the judges of individuals but we do know that Demas' decision, and the fear that caused him to make that decision, was wrong. It led to the last mention of him in the inspired Word to be negative.

We may be in a similar situation as Demas. Our life may be on the line. Will we be able to stand up for what is right by looking to the prize, "the real life", and be able to stand firm until our death? (1 Timothy 6:19) Only Jehovah, through His spirit, can give us that courage.

*Four other people, Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke, are also mentioned, however, since this article is about Demas the other names have been omitted from this post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Agabus--Faithful in Times of Peace and Persecution

Who is Brother Agabus? Are you ignorant of this man? If you answered yes, you are not to be faulted. Agabus is only mentioned twice in the Holy Scriptures, but what we read of this faithful brother is very faith-strengthening.

The only two times that Agabus is mentioned both occur in the Bible book of Acts. He makes his first appearance in Chapter eleven. We read: "Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus rose and proceeded to indicate through the spirit that a great famine was about to come upon the entire inhabited earth; which, for that matter, did take place in the time of Claudius."-Acts 11:27-28

Agabus was a holy prophet, which shows that he was a very good man. Jehovah didn't just give that responsibility to anyone. Sure, after receiving holy spirit in those days, people would speak in tongues or display some other gift from the spirit but they were generally not considered prophets. The very fact that Agabus was a known prophet shows us that he had been a worshiper of Jehovah God for a long time. In fact, in the Roman Catholic Church and "Eastern Christianity"* he is regarded as a saint. Church tradition holds him as one of the seventy disciples sent forth by Christ at Luke 10:1, although this cannot be verified by the Holy Scriptures.[1]

The prophecy that Agabus made was fulfilled in 45 C.E. during the time of Claudius. However, we find that, because of Agabus' prophecy "those of the disciples determined, each of them according as anyone could afford it, to send a relief ministration to the brothers dwelling in Judea; and this they did, dispatching it to the older men by the hand of Barnabas and Saul." (Acts 11:29-30) Agabus was respected and taken seriously. Due to his faithfulness and prophecy, many of our first-century Christian brothers and sisters were well taken care of. All of this occurred before 45 C.E., just as Agabus stated.

The second time that Agabus is mentioned in the Scriptures is towards the end of the book of Acts, prophesying again. He gave this prophecy in Caesarea: "A certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea, and he came to us and took up the girdle of Paul, bound his own feet and hands and said: 'Thus says the holy spirit, "The man to whom this girdle belongs the Jews will bind in this manner in Jerusalem and deliver into the hands of people of the nations."'-Acts 21:10-11

Both times, Agabus is stated as traveling from Judea to wherever Paul was. It can thus be assumed that Agabus resided in Judea, possibly even in Jerusalem. If this was the case, then Agabus had plenty of opportunities to show his love of Jehovah God. Many things happened to the Christian Jews in Jerusalem. Herod began to persecute the Christian congregation. He killed the Apostle James with the sword. He even arrested the Apostle Peter. (Acts 12:1-5) Through all of this persecution, Agabus stayed strong, undoubtedly being a great source of encouragement to the local brothers.

Even before all of that, if Agabus was already a Christian, he had to endure the opposition from fellow Jews with the other brothers when it became clear that Gentiles were now allowed to be followers of Christ. (Acts 11:1-3) If Brother Agabus was actually a follower of Christ when the Messiah was on earth as the Catholic Church believes, then he had even more opposition immediately following the Lord's death. Things were tough for the disciples, including possibly Agabus, in those days.-John 20:19, 26

We can only assume that Agabus remained steadfast in the Truth up until his death, whenever that was. Surely, his brief mention in this Scriptures testifies to that. But what can we learn from Brother Agabus?

Just like when he traveled all that distance from Jerusalem to Antioch, we can go wherever Jehovah wants us to, as willingly as Agabus proved himself to be. Also, when under severe persecution, we can remain steadfast, relying on Jehovah and His spirit and our Head, Jesus. Finally, we should never let the fear of men bring us down. Surely, this courageous brother, although not mentioned very much in the Scriptures is a wonderful example for us today.-Romans 15:4

*"Eastern Christianity" is composed of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Eastern Catholic Churches.


[1] "New Advent" Catholic Encyclopedia

Monday, February 2, 2009

Does God Torment People in Eternal Hell?

"God is love." (1 John 4:8, 16) Imagine a person is being roasted on a hot iron plate. In his agony he screams for mercy, but nobody listens. The torture goes on and on, hour after hour, day after day—without pause! Whatever crime the victim may have committed, would not your heart go out to him? What of the one who ordered the torture? Could he be a loving person? In no way! Love is merciful and shows pity. A loving father may punish his children, but he would never torture them!

If you were walking in a jail and you saw this torture, what would you do? If you inquired as to what the person was being tortured for and the torturer said, "Because he didn't believe in the judge who could sentence him to this torture," honestly, what would you think about this judge? If you inquired further and the man said, "Well, a while back he got a parking violation that he didn't pay off. He was fined a fair amount and then after he paid the fine we decided to torture him for the next forty years." Wouldn't that be unjust?

Imagine that judge is God. The jailer torturing the man is Jesus Christ. The man being tortured is a man who has just died. Let us say this traffic violator was a doctor who saved countless lives, gave much to those in need, even adopted two children from poor countries, and showed himself to be a good husband, father, friend, brother. In short, he was always helping others. However, this man was not "saved by grace". Is he deserving of being tortured in hell for all eternity? Absolutely not. If "God is love" as the Scriptures say and "perfect is his activity" (Deuteronomy 32:4) then would He be a kind, merciful God if He tortured this man for all eternity because he wasn't "saved by grace?"

Furthermore, torturing people with fire was something that God never even considered. Speaking of people who would burn their children in fire as sacrifices to God, Jeremiah 7:31 says of the practice that this was something that God "had not commanded and that had not come up into [his] heart." Yes, God had never even considered the thought of people being tortured with fire, much less forever.

Even the idea that the soul lives on after death is something completely foreign to the Bible. In fact it says simply, "The soul that sins--it itself will die." (Ezekiel 18:4) At Ecclesiastes 9:5 the Bible says, "For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all!"

The soul dies? The dead are conscious of nothing at all? If people did go to hell after they died then that would completely contradict those verses. Then where does the doctrine of hell come from? From mistranslations of the Bible! There is no hell in the sense that people who claim to be Christians teach. The concepts of hell in the Bible were completely different from what Jesus and the apostles thought of as hell. Plus, ask yourself, is it really a just punishment to torture people for all eternity for something they did for just seventy or eighty years of their life? Let your morality be the judge. If our morality says "no" then God, who is perfect and loving, would likewise say no, right?

Then what is the punishment for sins? Romans 6:23 tells us: "For the wages sin pays is death." Yes, we pay for our sins upon death. James 1:14, 15 says, "Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it becomes fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death." So we die because we sin, and yet Romans 6:7 says, "For he who has died has been acquitted ["acquitted", NWT and HCSB, footnote; KJV, NIV, and others say "freed"] from his sin." We have paid off our "debt" of sin by dying. Do you torture someone for incurring a debt after they have paid it off? No. They are free to go after they have paid their debt.

What about those Scriptures that plainly speak of people tortured with fire for all eternity? Well, fire in the Bible is symbolic for destruction. So when the Bible says that someone is to be punished with eternal fire, it simply means eternal destruction. One case in point is found for us at Jude 7. "So too Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them...are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire." Are Sodom and Gomorrah actually burning today? No! In fact, they are most likely now underwater, their remains submerged in the Dead Sea! Sodom and Gomorrah are not burning forever, they are destroyed forever, never to be rebuilt.

What we really need to examine, though, is what the Bible says the final end for people will be. According to Peter, "But these men, like unreasoning animals born naturally to be caught and destroyed, will, in the things of which they are ignorant and speak abusively, even suffer destruction in their own course of destruction, wronging themselves as a reward for wrongdoing." (2 Peter 2:12-13) Peter tells us that wicked people will suffer destruction, not eternal torment. Another name for this everlasting destruction is "the second death". In fact, we are told that the second death is "the lake of fire." The lake of fire cannot be hell because "death and hell were cast into the lake of fire."-Revelation 20:14, King James Version

One last point worth consideration on this, fire equaling destruction, is what the Bible says will be the final end to Satan the Devil. We read, "And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur...and [he] will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10) However, Hebrews 2:14 says that Jesus will "destroy him." (King James Version) This falls right into place when we understand the true meaning of the lake of fire. Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire for ever. In other words, he will be dead, yes, destroyed, forever and ever.

What about such Scriptures as Mark 9:43-48? The New International Version has this as:
"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

This is a quote of Isaiah 66:24. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." One commentary says that this Scripture is refers to going out "of Jerusalem to the surrounding Hinnom Valley (Gehenna), where human sacrifice was once practiced (Jeremiah 7:31) and which eventually became the city's refuse heap." [1] What is the verse speaking of? It is not talking about being tortured; it speaks of dead bodies. What is speaks of as not dying is worms--not human lives or immortal souls.

One Bible commentary commenting on Mark 9:48 says, "[The] phrase is taken from Isaiah 66:24. The prophet shows the two ways corpses were usually destroyed: putrefaction and incineration...The juxtaposition in the text of the maggots and fire reinforces the idea of destruction...Both destructive forces are described as permanent ('is not quenched, does not die'): there is simply no way to escape them. In this image, the only survivors are the maggot and the fire--not the man--and they both annihilate anything that falls within their power. Hence, this is not a description of everlasting torment, but one of total destruction." [2] Obviously, the doctrine of eternal torment is debunked from four different angles: 1) Bible Commentators, 2) Moral Reasoning, 3) Understanding the Person of God, 4) Using the Bible Itself. There is no punishment after death for the wicked.

So, is death the end, since it is unconsciousness? No. Acts 24:15 says, "I have a hope toward God, which these men themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous." (See also John 5:28, 29; Revelation 20:12, 13) Almost everyone who has ever lived will have the opportunity to live again in a perfected earth without Satan, sin, and wickedness to get in the way of coming to Jehovah God.


[1] The Jerome Biblical Commentary

[2] El evangelio de Marcos. Analisis linguistico y comentario exegetico, (The Gospel of Mark. Linguistic Analysis and Exegesis Commentary), Vol. 2

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My 10 Favorite Kingdom Songs

*These are not in any particular order, they are just my favorite Kingdom Melodies*

1. Song #4-God's Promise of Paradise
Luke 23:43: "And he said to him: 'Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.'

2. Song #13-Christian Dedication
Exodus 39:30: "Finally they made the shining plate, the holy sign of dedication, out of pure gold and inscribed upon it an inscription with the engravings of a seal: 'Holiness belongs to Jehovah.'"

3. Song #74-Jehovah, Provider of Escape
Psalm 18:1-2: "I shall have affection for you, O Jehovah my strength. Jehovah is my crag and my stronghold and the Provider of escape for me. My God is my rock. I shall take refuge in him, my shield and my horn of salvation, my secure height."

4. Song #87-The Lord's Evening Meal
1 Corinthians 11:23-26: "For I received from the Lord that which I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was going to be handed over took a loaf and, after giving thanks, he broke it and said: 'This means my body which is in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.' He did likewise respecting the cup also, after he had the evening meal, saying: 'This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives."

5. Song #168-Recognizing Earth's New King
Psalm 2:12: "Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way, for his anger flares up easily. Happy are all those taking refuge in him."

6. Song #171-A Victory Song
Exodus 15:1: "At that time Moses and the sons of Israel proceeded to sing this song to Jehovah and to say the following: 'Let me sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has pitched into the sea.'"

7. Song #180-God's Own Book--A Treasure
Proverbs 2:1: "My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself."

8. Song #187-All Things Made New
Revelation 21:4: "And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."

9. Song #205-Christ Our Exemplar
1 Peter 2:21: "In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely."

10. Song #212-We Thank You, Jehovah
1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In connection with everything give thanks. For this is the will of God in union with Christ Jesus respecting you."