Tag Archives: covenant

Man of Dust – Genesis & Ancient Near Eastern Origins

Recently, I have been in discussion with someone regarding the “dust” and “death” found in the beginning of Genesis, specifically Adam (man) being made of the “dust” of the ground and thus returning to it. What is this saying?

Before I start, please allow me to assert that I believe in a honest handling of God’s Word, and the need to “study to show ourselves approved RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORLD OF TRUTH” (2 Timothy 2:15). That being noted, I do not want to impose an understanding that is not there, and I want to find the most “literal” understanding of the text possible, what is known as ‘sensus literalis’.

The words of Mr. R.C. Sproul, a well known Bible teacher, fit rightly here:

There is much confusion regarding the “literal” sense of Scripture…To interpret the Bible “literally” in the classic sense requires that we learn to recognize in Scripture different genres of literature. Poetry is to be interpreted as poetry, and didactic passages are to be interpreted according to the grammar of the didactic. Historical narrative must not be treated as parable, nor parable as strict historical narrative. Much of Bible prophecy is cast in an apocalyptic genre that employs graphic imaginative language and often mixes elements of common historical narrative with the figurative language.” (1)

This is where we must do the proper legwork. Sure, we can just pick up Genesis as 21st century Westerners and demand that the Scriptures make the points we want them to make about the things we want them to detail, as many do. Or….we can be honest and humble in our reading and studying and realize the ancient world is vastly different than ours. The concerns of those times are different than ours, and therefore the details of writing are as well.

Coming to an agreement concerning what type of genre the book of Genesis comes to us as is an rather intriguing study. The book ‘Beyond Creation Science’ by Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn, first opened my eyes to taking a step back and really looking at the culture from which Genesis comes and the details it notes- finding Genesis to be more prophetic and apocalyptic than I had initially thought. Then reading through Dr. John Walton’s lectures on Youtube surely opened my eyes to understanding the concept of Genesis as a ‘temple text’ and it’s details in that environment rather than what I initially thought they meant.

Again….we must decide…do we really want the truth out of the text, essentially what it “literally” says, or are we content with just making things up and keeping our own view? That is exactly what has spurned by studies, and led me to the views I hold today.

Author Robert Gundry exhorts us in this regard:

…we must presume that the text as it stands had a meaning for the author and his first readers. We want to discover that meaning. The path to discovery lies along the line of historical- grammatical interpretation, which assumes that the language of the Biblical text, including its symbolic language, grows out of and speaks to the historical situation of the writer and his readers. To take a non-referential view of language, may open up possibilities of contemporary interest and deconstruction play, but it blocks the path of historical understanding.”

So…in my honest study, I have begun to look at the world of the Ancient Near East. Most within ‘critical scholarship’ have now begun to point those who want to understand the Book of Genesis in this direction. Granted I have made these remarks before, have written about understanding the Bible “literally”, (2) and defended these positions in debates- yet herein I want to show the proper understanding of the creation of man and the story that tells- from the Ancient Near East to the overly Hellenistic Western world.

The ANE audience hardly was concerned nor would have attempted to explain in graphic detail how God had made man, save for understanding the function of man in the world. Genesis serves as a ‘polemic’, or argument against the cultures of the Ancient Near East, as blog writer T.E. Hanna notes,

Rather than adopting the mythologies of the surrounding Ancient Near East, the Hebrew cosmologies were written as a criticism of them. As theological education for an emerging Israelite nation, the purpose of these narratives was to emphasize the nature of the God of Israel in contrast to the surrounding polytheism, while also conveying His superiority over competing religions.”

Now that we have made ourselves somewhat aware of the context of the Book of Genesis, let’s begin to take a look.

Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 1:24-31.

Here we read that God made all the animals and then goes about to create man – In His Image, and to have dominion over all of that which God created.

As one becomes familiar with the Ancient Near East, we would see that this Genesis story runs contrary to the contemporary understanding of that culture. As Wheaton proffessor, Dr. John Walton has noted, “In Mesopotamia the cosmos functions for the gods and in relation to them. People are an afterthought, seen as just another part of the cosmos that helps the gods to function. In Israel the cosmos functions for people and in relation to them. God does not need the cosmos, but it is his temple. It functions for people.” (3)

I have a writing on this called ‘The Ancestral Story of the ‘Image of God'(4) which can be found on the internet, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the work of Mrs. Rebekkah Devine (or Giffone as I note in my article). When I came to understand how in Genesis man was set up as the ‘image of God’ in contrast to the way the ANE viewed man, I was amazed. Man is created to display the glory of God, not the idols, nor the “created things” that man turns into idols.

Now let’s take a look at Genesis 2:4-9.

Studying out the details of “heaven and earth” in Scripture is a praiseworthy study. Verse 4 here gives us a beginning of understanding the way this phraseology was used by the ancient Hebrews, and essentially was was being ‘made’ by God in this account. Surely you don’t believe that what God is saying here is that the ‘heaven and earth’ has a genealogy, do you? Oddly some have made some strange interpretations, yet if you study out the term in its context and usage- you find this term simply applies to God’s people.

What we are reading in Genesis chapters 1-3 is the “creation story” of the one True God and how He formed His “heaven and earth”.

In Genesis 2:7 we have, God ‘forming’ man (adam) out of the ground. The text reads: ‘v’yyitzer YHWH ‘Elohim ‘et ha’adam ‘aphar min ha’adamah’ – or in the English – “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.”

There are some who simply would rather avoid dealing with the historicity of the writing and would assert that this is talking about God materialistically forming man out of ‘dust’, just as they would say that this text is talking about the material creation of Heaven and Earth. If you are ok with imposing a foreign interpretation on the text, that would have hardly been understood by the ancients, then there is nothing I can show you. However, after searching for the definition of the term ‘dust’ (which in Hebrew is ‘aphar’ meaning ground, earth, ashes, or powder), then reading all the passages in Scripture that apply that term, I did not find much clarity as to what is saying. Therefore I turned to historical context for clarity.

It is interesting to further note that in Ancient Near Eastern literature not only is man debased, but the creation of man is usually of the clay of the ground and the blood or spit of the gods- both good and evil. In the Biblical text, man is created of the earth and then God breath’s life into him- giving man a dignity above all other created things. Surely a radical thought in the Ancient Near East that most modern people miss the point of.

A writing that further helped provide clarity pertaining to Genesis :4-7 was an internet writing by Don Stoner. You can access that writing by visiting this link: http://www.dstoner.net/Genesis_Context/Context.html

So in Genesis chapter 2, man is created by God forming him of the dust of the ground, earthy, and is animated as a ‘living soul’ once God breathes into him.

In Genesis 3:14 as well as 3:19, we read that the serpent will go on his belly and eat “dust’ all the days of his life, and Adam after the fall is told he shall return to the dust.

First of all this is where you should begin to notice that this book is a foreign text and not intended to be taken literal. If you hold to a literal walking/ talking serpent that is cursed by God to travel on the ground, then you need to consult the local psychologist.

After noting that simply point, we can begin to search out what the text means in its proper context.

‘Dust’ as used through Scripture and historical context also carries the thought of humility and desperation. When Adam and Eve sin and suffer “the death” due to sin, they are ashamed and hide themselves from God- no longer freely roaming in the blessedness of God’s garden as He provided to them. This will later be the story of fleshly Israel as well- they violate the command God gives them and thus suffer shame.

Adam and Eve are now “dead”, as God told them the day they eat of the tree they shall surely die. God provides them with a covering and removes them from the Garden where they enjoyed God’s presence and possible “immortality” through the Tree of Life. From dust they were created, to dust they shall return.

It is when we study out the “resurrection of the dead” that these things get hopeful. The “resurrection of the dead” will undue the damage of the garden.

Adam and Eve had a beautiful & free relationship with God- based on the “covenant” of one law- don’t eat of that tree- be His image- they failed and died in that covenant relationship- thus returning to dust.

Israel inherited that story, and was provided a covering. They do the same as Adam (Hosea 6:7) and get worse and worse- suffering the fate of returning to the dust and face future judgment (Daniel chapter 12). One writer noted that the “futility” spoken about in Romans 8 is detailing the same “futility” to which creation was subjected in Genesis 3 – it has to do with the idea that it would not do that for which it was designed or intended.

All of this is to note that Genesis chapters 1-3 are not talking about the material creation of the cosmos nor of man, but rather are covenant claims. Genesis is the creation of God’s people- heaven and earth- and how that Old Covenant people were subjected to futility- being of the dust and earthy.

One poet noted, “The sons of Adam are formed from dust; if not humble as the dust, they fall short of being men.

In conclusion, let us praise God for the ‘Second Adam’ as revealed through the New Testament. We, in Christ, do not bear that “dusty” semblance and “death is defeated”! After all as 2nd century Church Father Irenaeus noted, ““The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

This is the goal of our faith- to note that which happened “in the beginning”, the death that comes because of sin, and then rest and proclaim praise in regards Christ’s sacrifice and righteousness. To provide to who would attest to the power of this as the “Christian faith” I will use quotes from 7th century Church bishop Maximus who said, “Christianity is an entirely new way of being human”, and 20th century century German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who remarked, “Christianity is not about religion- it’s about humanity, and making it as God intended it to be.”

Below I will provide a short list of Works Cited. As well as a list of Scriptures that mention “dust” for further study, and of course a host of links that further inform on the context of the Ancient Near East.

Works Cited

  1. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus
  2. https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/how-do-we-literally-understand-the-scriptures/
  3. Dr. John Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve
  4. http://www.academia.edu/9695120/A_Must_Read-_The_Ancestral_Story_of_the_Image_of_God_

Scriptures Pertaining to Dust:

Genesis 2:7; 3:19 – dust; Genesis 3:14; Genesis 13:16; 28:13; 1 Chron 1:9; Genesis 18:27; Genesis 26:15 – translated as earth; 1 Kings 16:2; 2 Kings 13:7 ; Num 19:17; 2 Kings 23:4 – ashes ; Job 4:19; Job 7:21; Job 10:9; Job 14:8 – ground; Job 17:16; Job 21:26; Job 30:19; Psalm 22:15, 29; Psalm 44:25; Psalm 113:17; Lev 14:42, 45 – mortar;2 kings 23:6, 15- powder; Job 42:6; Ecc 3:20; 12:7; psalm 103:14; Neh 4:2, 10 – rubbish; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 47:1; Lamentation 2:10; Nahum 3:18

Websites about the Ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis:

http://www.theologymatters.com/Novdec97.PDF

http://www.newfoundationspubl.org/dust.htm

http://questions.veritas.org/science-faith/origins/what-genre-is-genesis-1-2/

http://tehanna.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/OfDustAndKings_HebrewCosmology.pdf

http://www.indiana.edu/~jsp/docs/2013_14/Bern_Essay_winner_Bloom,%20D.pdf

https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/interpreting-adam-an-interview-with-john-walton

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0825439272/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0825439272&linkCode=as2&tag=michsheiscom-20&linkId=LVYPNGNYCGRJSJSD

http://davidjohnstone.net/blog/2009/12/notes-lost-world-genesis-one-john-walton

http://oyc.yale.edu/transcript/945/rlst-145

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Your Invitation to “The Normal Christian Life”

Your Invitation to “The Normal Christian Life”

For the past couple weeks, the sermons at the Blue Point Bible Church have been focused on what the privileges of being a Christian and having the presence of God in your life means. I, Pastor Michael Miano, felt convicted after a month long journey talking about the wicked and all that entails- annihilation or eternal conscious torment. After spending a month dealing with all the intellectual and emotional aspects of understanding what exactly the final state of the wicked is, and what the “death” of being outside the ‘Kingdom of God’ is, I felt it necessarily for us as saints to spend some time knowing and living in the privileges of a “Christian life”.

Persecution has an interest effect on Believers. Men of God like Alan Hirsch and Shane Claiborne had spent time bringing out the details of how the persecuted church seems to grow and take the call of being “Christian” much more serious that those who live in comfort. It’s commonly understood that when you have no “creature comforts” you are more liable to give you all for the cause. I believe this is what effected men like Watchman Nee, who not only learned from the persecution of the Boxer Rebellion, but he also offered great exposition on what Christianity should look like in our world. It’s been said that, “Watchman Nee realized that being a Christian is altogether a matter of knowing and experiencing God’s divine life in Christ”.

That is exactly it. As I “continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18), which alone reveals that this “life” is intended to be a growth process of learning of His grace and His knowledge, which comes from being “Spiritual discerned (1 Corinthians chapter 2 speaks of this), I desire to know all the more the simple yet complex truth of “knowing and experiencing God’s divine life in Christ”. We endeavor to “die to self” and allow Christ to live through us- Galatians 2:20, and sure enough I am in agreement with Watchman Nee that is is the “normal Christian life”, this and nothing else.

If you are not living a life that is continually offering you reason to praise God for all that you have in Christ, then you might not be living the “Christian life”. I know this might be a harsh exhortation, however the imagery of Revelation chapters 21-22, and the host of other passages in Scripture where we see the ‘requirements’ for living a “Christian life”, do not offer an apathetic approach. This would have been foreign to the Hebrew mind of what it meant to “follow the rabbi”.

Christian martyr Jim Elliot had few things to say about living a Christ-centered life:

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”

“Lord, make my way prosperous not that I achieve high station, but that my life be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.”

“I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.”

“Wherever you are – be all there.”

Wow! Those are some power-packed statements, amen? One of the things I have been harping on in my messages at B.P.B.C. Is how we are called to “make known the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10)” and how we should view that as an immense privilege. The “value of knowing God” surely isn’t an “ordinary” thing. A “full life” is shown through living for the glory of God, as the prophet Daniel says, “…the people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits (Daniel 11:32)”.

Sadly, so many Christians are still questioning and in doubt as to whether or not they are “living in the Light”. Watchman Nee speaks to us about the trouble of trying to sense the value of God working through our life:

“…the trouble with us is that we are trying to sense it; we are trying to feel its value to estimate subjectively what the blood is for us, we cannot do it. It does not work that way. The blood is first for God to see. We then have to accept God’s valuation of it. In doing so we shall find our salvation. If instead we try to come to a valuation by way of our feelings we get nothing; we remain in darkness. No, it’s a matter of faith in God’s word”.

He goes on to explain how important it is to be “born again”, and to be “found in Christ”:

“Are you a man? If your life is on a lower plane than that of God’s life, then you cannot belong to the Divine family…Our only hope as men is to receive the Son of God, and when we do so, His life in us will constitute us as Sons of God”.

Yes, you read that right. No Jesus, No life. Know Jesus, know life!

I invite you right now to live that type of life. If your on Long Island, you can join us on Sundays at 11am, at The Blue Point Bible Church – www.bluepointbiblechurch.org, as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. As we say on our “church card”- Get a life, and visit The Blue Point Bible Church.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

You can listen to our Sunday Sermon podcasts by visiting:

www.buzzsprout.com/11630

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Resurrection of the Dead Ones

Throughout the months of April/ May I preached sermons based on the “resurrection of the dead ones” a topic we find discussed specifically in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Romans chapter 8, Philippians chapter 3, and 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5 to name a few passages. You can listen to that series on podcast by clicking on the following link:

www.buzzsprout.com/11630

For the past couple months I have spent time investigating the resurrection of the dead. I have studied the traditional view (futurist) and have found it wanting. Let’s be clear that we are talking about the the “eschatological resurrection” that was coupled with the “coming of the Lord”.
Earlier today, I sent the following group email to those on my email list detailing Daniel chapter 9 and explaining the connection between Daniel 9 and the “resurrection of the dead”.
“Recently I finished reading through quite a few of Don Preston books detailing the resurrection. I started with “Seal up Vision and Prophecy”, and then moved on to “70 Weeks Determined for the Resurrection”, both which deal with the context of Daniel chapters 9 and 12. I have had discussion with others at The Blue Point Bible Church regarding the details of Daniel 9 and 12 and therefore want to share some of my notes. I will admit upfront, I am still challenging myself in these regards. I have about 3 more books I want to read on the topic- “Daniel in the Preterist’s Den” which will mos[5t likely be a challenge to my Preterist position (there is your reminder to always be willing to challenge your current paradigm), also a book by Jessie Mills detailing the book of Daniel, and I am going to re-review Duncan Mackenzie’s book/commentary on Daniel.

Here is the text we are specifically talking about:
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish trangression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place (Daniel 9:24)”.

Obviously the first thing any read of the text wants to do is immediately begin counting the seventy weeks. In verses 25-27, we are given a sort of time line of fulfillment. The clear start is when the ‘decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem…” which was between 458 B.C. To 445 B.C (read about this in Ezra chapter 7 when Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, gave this decree.
Seventy times seven would be 490 years and many commentators have noted that this brings the reader remarkably close to the date of Jesus’ public ministry, however others have noted that the numbers may be symbolic.

Here are some quotes from Don Preston and some others:

“Simply put, we believe the seventy week period is an indivisible unit. Jehovah gave the starting point, He gave the ending point. Chronological exactness is not the point. As Goldingay, certainly no preterist ,says, “The number 490 is not an arithmetical calculation to be pressed to yield chronological information. It is a figure that puts together two symbolic figures, the seventy years ( a lifetime) of Jeremiah 25:11/ 29:10 and the sevenfold chastisement of Leviticus 26:28. The result is a doubly symbolic figure extending from the beginning of the chastisement in the exile to whenever its seen as ending”.

“The 70 weeks embraces the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70 and there’s no way to fit that in chronologically”. -Jim McGuiggan; Commentary on Daniel

“…the seventy weeks are not absolute mathematical markers. But the passage, while not giving mathematical precision does provide a definite terminus a quo (point from which to begin), and a terminus ad quem (point up to, or ending)….The terminating point of the prophecy is to be shown to be the destruction of Jerusalem as foretold by the Lord in Matthew 24, and settled by his own quotation from Daniel’s prophecy in verse 15- and from this, to the believer in Christ, there can be no appeal”. -Foy Wallace

“It matters not whether we understand the “math” of the seventy weeks. If the elements foretold in the prophecy include the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, then we must submit to that “calculation”. This demonstrates that the seventy weeks were not to be calculated mathematically, but it is a symbolic period of time marked by a beginning point, interim events, and a consummation point, the final destruction of the Old Covenant world in AD 70”. -Don Preston 

Also, there are some who posit that the fulfillment of Daniel took place during the time of the Maccabees, which is in contrast to how first century Jewish historian Josephus would have viewed is and how Jesus would have viewed the prophecy since He points to it in the future of His generation in Matthew chapter 24.

Josephus writes:

“In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them”.

Jesus spoke a bit more specifically when He said:

“Therefore when you see the ‘Abomination of Desolation’ which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-16)”.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are the days of vengeance ,so that all things which are written will be fulfilled (Luke 21:20-22)”.

Therefore, with a bit of information from history, it should not be hard to understand that this “Abomination of Desolation” “… happened in A.D. 66 when Cestus Gallus surrounded Jerusalem, or in A.D. 68 when the Zealots and Idumaeans broke into the city and killed over 8500 people in the Temple area”. 

Yet sadly, due to misinterpretation and a ‘futuristic’ paradigm, many have taken then position that this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled- completely ignoring that fact that Jesus was speaking to a direct audience and warning them “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies”. The views posited by Iranaeus and his student Hippolyptus dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries are in error and have no “contextual justification”. As Don Preston notes, “The very idea of a God that planned and predicted the establishment of the kingdom, at a given time in history, and sent His Son to accomplish that, only to see Him fail, is surely one of the most shameful theological concepts ever invented”

For example, as Don Preston notes:

“Peter affirmed that Israel’s last days, and the attendant blessings, were present in his day. Citing Joel 2:28 following the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:15). Sadly, the millenialists are willing to say that “Virtually nothing that happened in Acts 2 is predicted in Joel 2. This means that Peter’s ‘This is that’ actually means, “This is not that””.

So, I believe there is enough evidence to show that this prophecy was speaking about the Roman armies coming in bringing “the wrath of God” upon His people and their city. Now, I want to briefly lay out the Spiritual significance of this event.

TO MAKE ATONEMENT
Don Preston notes: “Daniel was told that seventy weeks were determined to make atonement. What many seem to miss is that the atonement for sin would not be consummated until the parousia of Jesus, at the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel! In Hebrews 9 the writer calls attention to the typological/ prophetic nature of the ministry of the High Priest. The Old Temple was a type of of the heavenly Temple, and the High Priestly services were a shadow of Jesus’ spiritual services (Hebrews 9:6, 24). Thus, Jesus appeared at the end of the age to sacrifice Himself (Hebrews 9:26). He entered into the Most Holy Place to offer Himself as a sacrifice (Hebrews 9:24, and He would appear again the second time for salvation (Hebrews 9:28)”.
“At what point of time on the Day of Atonement did Israel know that God had accepted their worship? Was it when the sacrifice was killed? No, that was the initiation of the process. Was it when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place? No, that was the ‘mid-point’ of the process, and a time of fearful waiting on the part of the congregation gathered outside the Temple”.

“The reference to Christ’s return to those who wait for Him draws its force in this context from the analogy with the sequence of events on the Day of Atonement. The people waited anxiously outside the sanctuary until the High Priest emerged from the Most Holy Place after he had fulfilled his office (Leviticus 16:17). His reappearance provided reassurance that the offering had been accepted by God

Simply put…. “If the atonement could not be perfected until the parousia of Christ, and if the parousia of Christ was in AD 70…then patently, this means that the seventy weeks could not have been completed 35 years before A.D. 70”.

TO FINISH TRANGRESSION

In the first century, Jesus was making it very clear that Israel was to “fill up the measure of their sin” in places like Matthew 23:29; Luke 11:49 and seen within the context of 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16. Don Preston again notes: “The filling up of the measure of sin/ suffering was not to be completed until the number of martyrs was filled up, and the city guilty of that persecution- Babylon of Revelation- had completed filling the measure of her guilt (Revelation 6:9-11; 17:6; 18:20)”.

PUTTING AWAY OF SIN

The Old Testament context and passage that speaks about when the sins would be taken away from Israel is Isaiah chapter 27, which speaks of when her altars are destroyed. When after Jesus Christ were the altars of Israel destroyed? That’s right folks, in AD 70. Also, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15:54-56, the Apostle Paul details the last enemy to be destroyed- “the death”- which came from The Law- which gave power to “the Sin”. Therefore, when that which gave power to The Law was destroyed- the sin and the death would be destroyed, amen? This should remind us of Daniel chapter 12- the Temple and the City was the ‘power of the holy people’.

 SEALING UP OF VISION AND PROPHECY

I quoted Luke 21:22 above to give context to Daniel 9 as speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, however the verse also offers more insight. This would be the fulfillment of ALL THAT WAS WRITTEN- which includes but is not limited to the prophecies recorded in the book of Daniel.

The “jots and tittles” that made up the Law of Moses (Matthew chapter 5) were in the process of being fulfilled, the Old Covenant was waxing old (Hebrews 8:13) but had not yet passed until all things were fulfilled. Milton Terry noted, “The sealing up of vision and prophet implies the confirming and fulfilling of all the sacred oracles that had spoken of the great day of the Lord and the glorious age to follow, in which the earth would be full of the knowledge of the Lord”.

Don Preston accounts that:
“The Bible gives the divine interpretation of the meaning of ‘seal up vision and prophecy’. In Matthew 24:15 Jesus cites Daniel 9 as the source of His prediction of the coming Abomination of Desolation. The parallel passage in Luke 21:20 reveals the Abomination of Desolation to be, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies”. Then in verse 22 our Lord says, “For these be the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled”.

WHAT ABOUT….EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS?

“Righteousness is a covenantal concept and is not a matter of rocks and trees. It has to do with man’s standing before God, not how green the grass is or how clean the water is”. – Don Preston

In Israel, righteousness stood far away (Isaiah 59:14) and their righteousness was as “filthy rags”. The Law was given to “increase transgression (sin)” which showed Israel their lack of righteousness and their “death”. It is through understanding “the death” of Adam by which we see the importance of ‘righteousness’. The ‘resurrection of the dead’ would be a reversal of this ‘death’ and lack of righteousness which would be revealed through the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:21). It is explained by the Apostle Paul that righteousness could not be achieved by the Law (Galatians 3:20-21), however in contrast to the Law, many were waiting for the revealing of the “hope of righteousness” as we see promised by the prophet Daniel. The righteousness of God was being revealed through Jesus Christ as was written to the Romans:

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe…(Romans 3)”.

The Law and the Prophets promised “everlasting righteousness” as did Jesus Christ, and it was understood that way to be something that would be accomplished through “the new heavens and new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). It is at this point that I must instruct you to get a firm grip on what the “heavens and earth” were according to Scripture (I will assure you it is not the physical heavens and earth that must change, instead it was the covenant that needed to be changed, as I believe I have expressed through this writing alone). It was the Law that brought forth sin and death, therefore in the “new heavens and new earth” there would be no curse as promised in Revelation 21-22.

I believe the words of the ‘Prince of Preachers’ (Charles Spurgeon) are fitting here: “Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, or any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under the new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. xxxvii, p. 354)”.

There ya have it, my brothers and sisters. Daniel chapter 9- FULFILLED! We are now living in the NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH WHERE RIGHTEOUSNESS DWELLS!

“Daniel 9 is a definitive text in the study of eschatology. It gives a positive terminus ad quem (ending point) of all miraculous activity. It dispels all eschatological speculation so rampant in every generation. It allows us to correlate and accept, without wild rationalization, the chronological language of imminence in the New Testament that predicted the coming of the kingdom and the parousia of Jesus in His generation”. -Don Preston

As I was studying through these notes, I came across the following website that details the fulfillment of Daniel 9 in AD 70 as well. Enjoy.

http://www.themoorings.org/apologetics/prophecy/AD70/Dan9.html”:.

In addition to reading about Daniel chapter 9, I also spent time reading through “We Shall Meet Him in the Air: The Wedding of the King of Kings” by Don Preston. In “We Shall Meet Him..”, Dr. Preston deals with the “death of Adam” and offers a commentary on 1 Thessalonians.

In order to attain a proper understanding of the resurrection, as with many of the important Biblical topics, we must start at the beginning of the Bible. Understanding the ‘narrative theology’ that runs through the Scriptures is vital.

It in in his letter to the Corinthians that the Apostle Paul explains the resurrection and brings us back to the “death of Adam”.

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22)”.

We must go back to the garden and gain an understanding of how “all” in Adam died. In Genesis 2:16-17, we read about God telling Adam that “in the day you eat (of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) you shall surely die”. So the question is…..how did Adam die in the day he ate of the tree? He lived biologically for another 900 years, so biological death isn’t the point. As we follow the story, the “type of death” being spoken about and alluded to in “resurrection passages” becomes all the more clear. For example, read through Isaiah chapter 25 and Hosea chapter 13 and determine the “death” being spoken of. What type of resurrection is being spoken of? Is it a stretch to say “national death”? Therefore, when 1 Corinthians 15 uses those verses to support the resurrection it speaks of- WHAT RESURRECTION IS THAT?!?!? Wouldn’t it be the same ‘death’ and ‘resurrection’ as in the passages being used to support the Apostle Paul’s doctrine? What death does Romans 6:23 speak about?

So that establishes the “death” for us. How everyone has become so obsessed with forcing “biological death” on the passages is just WRONG. Now, watch this.

When would the resurrection from this death occur? I established Daniel chapter 9 in the email I shared with you above- which pointed to the literal/historical events as well as Spiritual realities that occurred in AD 70 (The Jewish-Roman War). Go ahead and Read Daniel chapter 12. This passage speaks about “The Time of the End”, the “time of distress such as never occurred since their was a nation until that time”- when there would be the judgment when the book of life is opened- the resurrection of those in the “dust” will occur, and “those who have insight will shine brightly…”. This will be “as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people”. What is the power of the holy people in the time of Daniel? The city Jerusalem and the Temple! This is exactly what Jesus spoke about in Matthew chapter 24 & Luke 21. Go ahead and read that. Notice I am just giving you things to read- yet those things are saying exactly what I believe.

When you think of the current teachings about the “resurrection of the dead”, we are forced to immediately conjure up images of a zombie apocalypse- which I believe God could surely do, however the passages are not speaking about anything even remotely close to that. Instead, metaphor and “prophetic terms” are being used throughout.

The “death” was “national death” the Israel underwent when they violated the covenant (relationship agreement) they had with God. This was called the Law of Moses a.k.a. The Old Covenant. An example you can see in Scripture would be in Isaiah chapter 25 and Isaiah chapter 49.

Under this covenant which was given to “increase sin”, Israel experienced a blessing and a curse. Sin/ transgression of the Law would bring forth “covenantal death”. As per 1 Corinthians 15, resurrection is the time of the deliverance from sin (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). This is the story of Adam all over again. Thus this is referred to as being “in Adam”. Jesus Christ was the first to be raised from the death of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:19). The fact that the passage says that Christ was the “first” is a clue into what sort of death and resurrection we are speaking about. What Christ the first to be raised biologically? Go ahead and read 1 Kings 13:2; 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4; Luke 7:13-15; Matthew 9:25; and John 11:43-44. Houston, we have a problem!

I choose to acknowledge that Christ is true, the Scriptures are trustworthy therefore am able to properly “prove” that the “death” that this speaks of with importance is not biological death. The text literally reads “out of the dead ones” which is from Sheol/Hadean realm to LIFE ETERNAL. Christ was the first to raise out of this death, as the others awaited the time of judgment/ vindication/ resurrection. Again, pointing out the significance of a sign which points to something of greater significance – Jesus’ physical/ biological resurrection was the ‘sign of Jonah’ (Matthew 12:39; 16:2; and John 20:30 to that “wicked generation”.

While we are on that topic, please allow me to share some thoughts on the “substitutionary death of Christ”. When Jesus cried out about God forsaking Him in Matthew 27:46 was a citation from Psalm 22:1. I ask you to read through Psalm 22 and tell me what “death” is being spoken of there. This is the “death” that Christ died on behalf of the people in passages such as Romans 5:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13, and 1 Peter 3:18. THE DEATH THAT IS BEING SPOKEN ABOUT IS THE DEATH THAT COMES BECAUSE OF SIN! WHEN JESUS WAS ON THE CROSS AND ‘SIN’ WAS PLACED ON HIM, HE DIED! HE DIED IN PLACE OF ISRAEL. HE DIED SO THAT NO MORE SACRIFICE IS NEEDED TO TRY AND ‘GAIN’ HIS PRESENCE. That is why the promises of John 3:15-16; John 3:36; John 6:50; John 10:28; and John 11:25-26 are valid. We will surely die biologically, however those of us alive in Spirit (born-again or simply born, allow me to avoid the semantics) will never die Spiritually.

James Jordan made this great statement:

When the New Testament uses Old Testament citations we must go to the Old Testament to see what it meant in the Old Testament. We must interpret the Bible comparing Scripture with Scripture”

It is for that reason, that Full Preterists understand ‘death’ to be a covenant term meaning exile, alienation, and the cut off state from the presence of God. For example, death in Hosea 13:1 spoke about Assyrian captivity. In Isaiah 24:4 they had violated covenant relations with God, in Isaiah 27:7-8 they were sent away, and in Ezekiel 37:11, they were declared dead in captivity/ exile. Clearly, in the Old Testament exile is synonymous with death. Forgiveness is seen as a return from exile (Leviticus. 26:33; 26:43; 1 Kings 8:33-34; Lamentations 4:22; Isaiah 40:1-11; Jeremiah 31:10-12; Ezekiel 36:24).

In my sermon at the following link, I explain that the concern that the Apostle Paul is dealing with in 1 Corinthians 15 is “in what body will they come”.

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/171089-so-have-the-dead-ones-been-raised-victory-part-2

It is necessary that we understanding the different bodies being contrasted in the New Testament. “The body of sin”, “humiliation” and death “in Adam” was Israel under the Old Covenant. We might dare to call it the Mosaic body (“body of Moses”) or Adamic body. Those who would be raised up to “eternal life” would come through the body of Christ. As Larry Siegle explained in his Fulfilled Dynamics broadcast, The TRUTH about ‘Bodily’ Resurrection, “One of the greatest misconceptions about the fulfilled perspective of the resurrection relates to the nature of it. The Bible teaches a bodily resurrection of the dead, contrary to the notion of some who seem to affirm “spiritual” resurrection instead what is not understood by some is the determination of the nature of the “body” under the construction”.

Well, it was RC Sproul who said in his book, The Last Days According to Jesus, “The greatest weakness of full preterism- and what I regard to be its fatal flaw- is its treatment of the final resurrection. If full preterism is to gain wide credibility in our time, it must overcome this obstacle”. Well, then….I pray that I have provided enough information to show you that the “resurrection of the dead” is hardly a weakness to the understanding the Biblical accurate position of Full Pretetrism.

I honestly, have so many more notes and details that I could mention, however maybe we can save that for further discussions. For further study, I would recommend the following resources:

First start with the sheets I gave you (below this article I have placed them) and simply read all the Bible passages I listed. With those in mind, set out to let the language of the Scriptures help you “prove which views are valid with Scripture. Check out Don Preston’s Morning Musing on Youtube entitled “Resurrection of the Dead”. I read “Seal up Vision and Prophecy”, “70 Weeks Determined for the Resurrection”, “We Shall Meet Him in the Air” all by Don Preston (you can order these either from Don’s website or through me by email). Also, a recent resource I have still yet to make my way through studying in the Summer 2013 issue of Fulfilled Magazine which detailed “Resurrection- What Is It?”. You can access that Magazine by visiting the following link:

http://fulfilledcg.com/Site/Magazine/magazine_previous_issues.htm

I gave out info. sheets to the congregation at Blue Point Bible Church with the hopes that they will aid others in explaining the Biblical hope (the resurrection of the dead ones as the hope of Israel and what that means for us). Below you will find a typed up style of those sheets.

What does the term “Nekroi’ mean?

Who are these “dead ones”? And how were they to be affected by the “resurrection”?

What is the “hope of Israel”?

What does the “resurrection of the dead ones” have to do with the gospel?

What is the cause of death of the “dead ones”? (Hint- Hosea 13:14; Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:

How would they (the dead ones) be “raised up”?

Have they been raised up?

What about “me”?

Good links:

www.tektonics.org/esch/rezwreck.php

www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/topical/bible-on-resurrection.htm

http://apostolicpreterist.com/Preterist_Q_A.html

www.ecclesia.org/truth/resurrection.html

“WITH WHAT KIND OF BODY”?

Www.beyondcreationscience.com/index.php?pr=Romans_8_in_Covenant_Context

www.buzzsprout.com/11633

Verses to consider:

Hosea 13; Isaiah 24-27; Daniel 9 & 12; Zechariah 14;1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3; Romans 8; 2 Corinthians 3-5; 1 Thessalonians 4; Acts 3

“Israel suffered THE DEATH under THE LAW of Moses. The Messiah came to bring/ THE LIFE to Israel. Through the Messiah the GENTILES were called to repentance and were offered LIFE and were “raised up” to right standing with God. What was LIFE to them revealed JUDGMENT/DEATH to Old Covenant Israel. At the TIME OF REFORMATION the DEAD ONES would be “RAISED UP” to LIFE and the DEAD ONES along with THE LIVING would be ONE BODY (the body of Christ)” – GLORIFIED!”.

“If forgiveness in Christ is objectively real today, then the atonement is completed. Forgiveness is the direct result of the completed atonement. But if the atonement is complete, Christ has returned, the resurrection has occurred”.

 

I conclude this blog with thoughts by Don Preston

“The real question then, is not how the Gentile Christians in Thessalonica, Rome, Athens, etc, could find comfort in the fulfillment of God’s OT promises to Israel. The real question is how did the modern church get so far removed from understanding the relationship between Israel’s promises and Gentile salvation?”.

Indeed. Praise God for the modern recovery of the Biblical hope. Reformation NOW!

Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,

    Pastor Michael Miano

Image

www.bluepointbiblechurch.weebly.com

 

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Making ‘sense’ of the “Creation Account”

  For the past couple days, I have had the privilege of having Dr. Jeff Vaughn and Tim Martin (authors of Beyond Creation Science) join me on live broadcasts on “The Power of Preterism Radio”. 

  Here are both of the links:

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepowerofpreterism/2014/02/11/discussing-the-creation-account-with-dr-jeff-vaughn

     http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepowerofpreterism/2014/02/12/miano-gone-wild

 I had sought out the wisdom of these men because of the recent debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye dealing with creation. Sadly, Ken Ham representing the “Biblical” model instead forced many presuppositions and ideas upon the Biblical text that are not there- leading many people, even close friends of mine wondering if that is indeed the Biblical account. One friend told me specifically, “Damage control is needed”. Thank God for giving wisdom to men like Jeff and Tim whom were willing to give of their time to offer a true and reasonable response. 

  If you have yet to hear the “hiding” behind “the Bible” that Ken Ham did during his debate, here is a link so you can watch the debate for yourself:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI

 Glory to God answers can be found but they must be sought. 

  Being that we are sort of “snowed in” here in New York, I took some time this morning to watch a video from Dr. John Walton in regards to his view and understanding of Genesis. Dr. Walton is the author of an amazing read- The Lost World of Genesis One. I must say, Dr. Walton’s explanation of Genesis and his discussion was so enlightening that I just had to write this blog and encourage YOU to look into these things. Here is the link to Walton’s video:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUb9P5HXueo

 If that is not enough…Derek Lambert and I will be on our program “Truth Be Told” tonight at 5pm eastern, talking about this video and where we are at in regards to “the creation account”. You can tune in internationally by clicking on the link below at 5pm eastern:

     http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepowerofpreterism

 Also, Monday nights at 7pm, we are doing a book study on “Beyond Creation Science”. If you are around the area, get involved!

   Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,

       His servant,

               Pastor Michael Miano

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Ensuring “Completeness” in 2O14 – RESOLUTIONS

  Each year, except for last year, I try to publicly proclaim my “resolutions” in an effort to “be accountable”. I have found this to be a fruitful exercise which has enabled to me since 2OO6 to accomplish much: wrote a book, began an internet radio program, developed a personal ministry {The Freaked Out Movement}, developed and enhanced my personal understanding of Scripture, and ultimately began my pastorate at Blue Point Bible Church (planting and working in other pastoral positions along the way). 

  So as I prayerfully enter 2O14, I want to share some of my thoughts and goals pertaining to the year. As many of you may already know, I have developed a sort of “motto” for the year – “Beginning with the end, the the ends of the earth”. Basically, as I have come to understand “covenant eschatology” and what the “good news of Jesus” truly is, I have the desire to help others “see” and “hear” it as well. “The Power of Preterism” conference happening at The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.blupointbiblechurch.org) is dedicated to the very purpose. In light of what has been accomplished in and through Jesus Christ (i.e., the New Covenant) let us therefore understand how we shall live. Matter of fact, this morning in my devotionals (there is a resolution beginning strongly right there), I detailed this a bit:

 “If through one man’s life there is little more love and kindness, a little more light and truth in the world, then he will not have lived in vain”. – Alfred Delp

    Read 1 John 4:7-1O; 1 John 5:14-21

 Imagine if we truly begin to live as “the people of God” and allow LOVE to be the defining factor of all that we do. 

 So it’s with that in mind that I begin detailing my “resolutions”.

  RESOLUTION ONE- BECOME MORE DEVOTIONAL IN AM AND EVENING READINGS AS WELL AS PRAYER (which in turn should help focus on living a complete and satisfying New Covenant life – “life to the full”. 

 Upfront I must admit, I like to detail “bucket list accomplishments” at the beginning of the year and add new ones to the list, but herein is the issue- one of my “resolutions” is to organize my paperwork (have not quite gotten back into the “swing of things” since my move to New York), so on this blog I will not be able to detail the “bucket list” info. 

    RESOLUTION TWO- ORGANIZE PAPERWORK AND NOTES (i.e., my “preterist box”) AND WEBSITES!

   I am looking to grow into my “pastorate” this year and truly lead with purpose and conviction and therefore have set some goals in doing so. 

   RESOLUTION THREE – GROW INTO “PASTORATE” 

            1. Get comfortable with my office and begin having meetings there (coffee, juice, soda, etc.. all on hand)   2. Organize rooms and paperwork in each room (make use of the file cabinets!!!)  2. Create a membership file book to be able to know more, help them grow more, and keep in touch better (Thank’s Robin for the awesome idea!)  3. Start utilizing “days before” to get ready for Sunday and clean church often   4. Develop a “new comers packet” 5. Launch *new* website  6. Programs such as Alpha, an open class at the college of high school, “Generations” Youth Program etc.  6. Prison Ministry?!?!  7. Organize and develop our “Prayer Room”  8. Hospital Chaplain or at least ministry for 6 months (develop a schedule)  8. In light of LI’s NBT, connect with other pastors and ministries

  As far as personal ministry goes, I am looking to develop a more “missional evangelism” and life in light of AD 7o for the Freaked Out Movement (http://www.freakedoutmovement.com). I currently have some ideas for marketing and maintaining the lifestyle of a “Jesus Freak” and will be developing and sharing them more as the year goes on. Also, keep an eye out for “The Freaked Out Book Club” as an incentive program for people of all ages to keep on reading! Miano Gone Wild Radio Program hasn’t been as organized as I would have liked this year so I will be looking to organize it- obviously bringing brother Derek Lambert onboard with “Truth Be Told” has been a blessing as well. Look for more to come…

 RESOLUTION FOUR – DEVELOP THE FREAKED OUT MOVEMENT (JFREAKS) & MGW RADIO

  As far as some learning exercises for the year, I have some good ones. I want to begin journalizing the Scriptures– which basically means handwriting the Scriptures into notebooks. This is great for reading comprehension and memorization. I have to thank Jen Fishburne for bringing this awesome idea to my attention- what she calls the “King’s Assignment”. In Deuteronomy 17:15-2O we read:

    “…you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves…..Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel (Paraphrased a bit)”. 

  So, I will begin this effort in February. Please let me know if you decide you might want to do this effort. There is a website dedicated to helping with this effort if you choose to order the books through them to use (I am fine with a regular bunch of notebooks). http://www.graceandtruthbooks.com/category/the-journibles

 RESOLUTION FIVE – JOURNALIZE THE SCRIPTURES

 Also, I am looking to complete classes and so forth over at Fulfilled Covenant Christian Leaders Institute and help Allyn Morton develop the idea for the school a bit more. To be upfront and honest, I am aiming to ask Allyn if I may take a position of authority with the school and develop a full and complete curriculum to train and ordain pastors.        

 RESOLUTION SIX- FINISH AND DEVELOP FCCLI

   Also, looking to revise and republish my book- Freaked Out by the New Covenant

  RESOLUTION SEVEN- REVISE AND REPUBLISH “FREAKED OUT BY THE NEW COVENANT”

 and last but not least, as far as personal study and development I am looking to get through the writings of Josephus, go through Jewish writings such as Mishnah, Talmud, etc.. available at http://www.sacred-texts.com  , and surely learn and teach more pertaining to “hell”. Maybe, I will see you at the Rethinking Hell Conference in Houston, Texas in July. http://www.rethinkinghellconference.com/2014/

  RESOLUTION EIGHT – PERSONAL STUDY AND DEVELOPMENT 

 Well, I am sure I will develop more “resolutions” within the year, but I believe this is a good and busy start. Hopefully I have inspired you to begin a list of your own. If you hold me accountable I will surely hold you accountable as well. 

  Blessings in Christ, 

     Pastor Michael Miano

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The Creation Question that NEEDS To Be Answered! Review of John Walton’s book- The Lost World of Genesis One

“The Old Testament does communicate to us and it was written for us, and for all humankind. But it was not written to us. It was written to Israel. It is God’s revelation of Himself to Israel and secondarily through Israel to everyone else”.

It is a rising notion that when we read the Scriptures we must remember we are reading ancient Jewish documents. Popular writer and theologian, N.T. Wright recently noted, “

“Twentieth-century scholorship has atleast one great advantage over its predecessors…it has been realized that Jesus must be understood in His Jewish context”.

At the advice of many leaders within the Preterist Movement I finally had the opportunity to read and finish John Walton’s book, The Lost World of Genesis One.

After reading I am not sure that John Walton is a preterist but it was encouraging that he sees the importance of what is called “audience relevance”.  As John Walton notes, “The most respectful reading we can give to the text, the reading most faithful to the face value of the text- and the most “literal” understanding, if you will- is the one that comes from their world not ours”.

As I have allowed myself to investigate what is called “Covenant Creationism” I have sought to be intellectually honest. As I begin reading the Bible from the beginning there are a couple contextually issues I run across. The first issue would be the covenantal term “heaven and earth” which is used throughout the Scriptures to speak of God’s covenant with His covenant people- i.e. Dueteronomy chapter 31, Jeremiah 31, and Revelation 21.  Another issue I run across is the context- Genesis is compiled by Moses as part of the Torah. Was the Torah revealed to all the nations? God revealed his truth and promises to Israel- not the other nations (Psalm 147:19 ;Romans 9:4-5; Romans 15:8-13). The “other nations” or Gentiles would come in as a result of the work of Jesus Christ- first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

When looked at through this lens we can explain the focus on Israel that we read from the founding of the tribes of Israel onward. Simply put, the Biblical message is about how God fulfilled His covenant with Israel. Many proponents of Fulfilled Bible prophecy see this at “the end” but fail to be consistent in regard to the beginnings.  I have had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Vaughn, one of the co-authors of Beyond Creation Science, and I asked him “who were those in Adam”. He began to explain the ancient city/state covenants and how most ancient civilizations would have identified themselves by their deity- i.e. Rome= Romulus. Adamites would have been no different leading us into what is called preadamism. Recognizing the Biblical account of “Adam” as the story of the beginning of covenant- Adam being the first covenant man.

One of the thoughts I have had fairly recently is that of the land of Nod. Who was Abel afraid of when he said:

“Behold, you have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me (Gensis 4:14)”.

So who exactly was going to find Cain and kill him in the land of Nod? Consider that is we take this story to be the literal creation story we have Adam, Eve, and Cain…? Where did his wife come from?

This leads us into the preadamite conversation- where they people created before Adam? I personally believe so. I believe the Biblical account of Adam was a creation story- the historical creation of God’s covenant with Adam and through that lineage. So…did the people in the land of Nod have a god? Jeff Vaughn answered this recently by saying:

My guess is that they certainly did, but it would be impossible to prove. Is it possible to determine who the patron of the ancient city of Enoch was? The patron god of Enoch could have been the patron god of the inhabitants of Nod. However, they could have replaced their old god when they founded that city”.

Getting through this discussion is so complicated because as Walton notes in his book,

“Rather than translating the culture, we need to try to enter the culture”. It’s a complicated thing to lose all of our cultural paradigms and be willing to be led by understanding another culture.  For example, John Walton is asking us to consider the Genesis creation account in light of other Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) creation accounts. 

“Comparing the ancient cultures to one another will help us see those common threads even as we become aware of the disnctions that separated thenm from one another”

Does anyone ever ask why we accept the Old Testament creation account over the Book of the Dead or other creation stories? I would imagine half the populace are not even aware of other creation accounts.

The following quotes from John Walton’s book demonstrate the vital need for us to consider understanding the Israelite culture and how THEY would have understood the creation account and challenge our preconcieved notions.

“For the Israelites, Genesis 1 offered explanations of their view or origins and operations, in the same way that mythologies served in the rest of the ancient world and that science serves our western culture. It represents what the Israelites truly believed about how it works, though it is not presented as their own ideas, but as revelations from God”.

“Some Christians approach the text of Genesis as if it has modern science embedded in it or it dictates what modern science should look like. This approach to the text of Genesis 1 is called “concordism”, as it seeks to give a modern scientific explanation for the details in the text. This represents one attempt to “translate” the culture and text for the modern reader. The problem is, we cannot translate their cosmology to our cosmology, nor should we”.

“The ancients would never dream of addressing how things might have come into being without God or what “natural” processes he might have used”.

“The Bible’s message must not be subjected to cultural imperialism. Its message transcends the culture in which it originated, but the form in which the message was imbedded was fully permeated by the ancient culture”.

“In this book I propose that people in the ancient world believed that something existed not by virtue of its material properties, but by virtue of its having a function in an ordered system”.

One of the definitions of the term ‘ontology’ is “a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of things that have existence”. That is precisely what is being discussed here. What type of ontology is happening in Genesis? How would the ancient Israelites have understood this text?

“In a functional ontology, to bring something into existence would require giving it a function or a role in an ordered system, rather than giving it material properties. Consequently, something could be manufactured physically but still not “exist” if it has not become functional”.

What John Walton is seeking to demonstrate is that the Genesis account is using creation imagery in a fashion to explain not necessarily how things came into being but why. This would be referred to as a “functional ontology” and in his book, John Walton seeks to demonstrate this is exactly how the ancients would have understood a creation text. He uses the following illustration:

“As employees we pay little attention to the history of the company we work for. We are more interested in its corporate structure and what responsibility each department has”.

An important thing to notice in the text which is hardly possible for those of us who are not fluent in the Hebrew of Genesis would be the verb Bara that is used for the word ‘create’. There are 2 words used throughout the Hebrew text that is translated as create. Bara is always used for that which God creates, whereas asah is used to say ‘made’.

OT scholar John Walton argues that the Hebrew word “bara” does not mean to create “ex nihilo”, but rather it means to give already existing material a function. Eg. in Gen 1:1, “in the beginning God created” is inherently ambiguous; he believes it should say, “when God began to create” and so in verse 2, “the earth was without form” means that the earth always had existed and God was simply working with pre-existing materials.

“If this is not an account of material origins, then Genesis 1 is affirming nothing about the material world. Whether or not there actually are cosmic waters being held back by a solid dome does not matter. That material cosmic geography is simply what was familiar to them and was used to communicate something that is functional in nature”.

Dealing with the functional origins rather than the material origins, John Walton also notes:

“…Genesis 1 is not an account of material origins but an account of functional origins, specifically focusing on the functioning of the cosmos as God’s temple”.

Moshe Wienfield, a former professor of the Bible at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained Genesis as a ‘temple text’. Utilizing the ancient understanding of deity and how the deity rests in the temple, John Walton demonstrates that the 7 day rest denotes creation as a ‘temple inaguration’. The following links have more information about this topic specifically:

http://ocabs.org/journal/index.php/jocabs/article/viewFile/43/18

http://nearemmaus.com/2012/04/11/john-waltons-ninth-proposition/

The “cosmic temple inaguration view” has validity to it when looked at as an Ancient Near East text and especially in light of what the Jewish historian Josephus had to say:

“However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…” Josephus, Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4, Section 123).

“When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men” Josephus, Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 7, Paragraph 7, Section 181).

As proper “audience relevance” would note:

“I believe if we are going to interpret the text according to its face value, we need to read it as the ancient author would have intended and as the ancient audience would have heard it”.

John Walton isn’t afraid to be challenged either as he writes:

“One of the most common questions about this view comes from those who are struggling with the worldview shift from material orientation to functional orientation (a difficult jump for all of us). In a last effort to cling to a material perspective, they ask, why can’t it be both?”.

His answer actually blew my mind since this is a question I myself have heard many people ask.

“The comfort of our traditional worldview is an insufficient basis for such a conclusion. We must be led by the text. A material interest cannot be assumed by default, it must be demonstrated, and we must ask ourselves why we are so interested in seeing the account in material terms…”

He then accounts the facts that the nature of the verb bara which is used to express “create” in Genesis is functional, the context of Genesis itself is functional, the cultural context of Ancient Near Eastern writings is functional, and clearly when we read Josephus we see the understanding during the time of Jesus Christ was functional- NOT CONCERNED WITH MATERIAL CREATION!

“As a result, it is difficult to sustain a case that the account is interested in material origins if one does not already come with that presupposition”.

And just to again make the point clear:

“Viewing Genesis 1 as an account of functional origins of the cosmos as temple does not in any way suggest or imply that God was uninvolved in material origins- it only contents that Genesis 1 is not that story. To the author and audience of Genesis, material origins were simply not a priority”.

The fact is that in ancient civilication it would have been unthinkable that the deity (in this case the God of Israel) was uninvolved in the creation of all material things- therefore there would have been no need to stress an account of those things. As I have become accumstomed to saying- the Bible was not written to atheists to prove the things about God. Rather the Bible is the historical documentation of how and why God fulfilled His covenant relationship with Israel. Long live FULFILLED ESCHATOLOGY.

Here are a couple ending quotes from John Walton’s book that I thought to share:

“…the Bible upholds the idea that God is responsible for all origins (functional, material, or otherwise), if the Bible does not offer an account of material origins we are free to consider contemporary explanations of origins on  their own merits, as long as God is seen as ultimately responsible”.

“…it is much more important to say that God has made everything work  rather than being content to say that God made the physical stuff. The purpose, teleology (which is the most important part), is located and observed in the functional, not the material”.

“I have proposed that the most careful, responsible reading of the text will proceed with the understanding that it is ancient literature, not modern science”.

So still you ask? “Wny can’t Genesis 1 be both functional and material?

“Theoretically it could be both. But assuming that we simply must have a material account if we are going to say anything meaningful is cultural imperialism. We cannot demand that the text speak to us in our terms. Just as we cannot demand a material account, we cannot assume a material account just because that is most natural to us and answers  the questions we most desire to ask. We must look to the text to inform  us of its perspective. In my judgment, there is little in the text that commends it as material account and much that speaks against it”.

I hope this review helps. Below I will include a couple more links to further your studies on this matter.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

Links:

http://biologos.org/blog/adam-is-Israel

http://planetpreterist.com/content/hermeneutic-covenant-creation-taught-berkeley-mickelsen

http://deathisdefeated.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-covenant-creation-archive

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The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (It’s a COVENANT Thing)

Last week, I had a man who goes by the moniker “RiversofEden” as my guest on Miano Gone Wild. “RiversofEden” holds to a fulfilled perspective that limits all the implications of the New Covenant to “Israel of the Flesh”. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mianogonewild/2013/01/23/miano-gone-wild

Now let’s unpack some things before I get to the ‘meat and potatoes’ of what I am looking to say in this blog post. I hold to what is called “Full Preterism” which means that I believe the entirety of Bible prophecy is in the past. This is simply because of the time statements and the context of what was being prophesied in the New Testament- i.e. the fulfillment of the “hope of Israel”. This is where “RiversofEden” and I stand in agreement. Where we differ is how we come at the context of what is occurring. As I made public yesterday, I think the depth of the view I hold is best summarized as “Covenant Eschatology” which would show that in the New Testament a “covenant” was coming to an end (thus “eschatology” meaning “last things”).  “RiversofEden” and I contrast at this point, since he is very adamant about the fact that the promise of the “New Covenant” in Jeremiah chapter 31 was only made to the houses of Israel and Judah, and therefore had no “ongoing effect” for any other people. While I agree that the promise was to the “houses of Israel and Judah”, I completely disagree that this wasn’t intended to have an effect on “other nations”, i.e., “strangers” or “gentiles”. Allow me to explain.

“In the beginning”, God takes man (adam) and places him in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). The ‘garden of Eden’ is used as metaphor for land of blessing and promise (Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35; Joel 2:3). Through Adam who violated the law given to him, he was removed from the garden and covered by God with animal skins, and given “curses and blessings” (Genesis 3:12-24). Type and shadow of God doing exactly that with Israel? Some have said so. Through Adam comes Cain, Abel, and Seth. After the death of Abel and the driving away of Cain, we only hear the lineage through Seth. Through Seth, Noah would eventually be born. Everyone knows the story of the flood, but oddly many assume this to be a world-wide flood, why? Yeah, something to consider for another time, eh? Noah’s family survives the flood and through his son, Shem, eventually will come Abram (who comes to be known as Abraham).

Abraham is called by the Lord and given blessings (Genesis chapter 12). Abraham has his ups and downs and eventually God establishes a covenant with Abraham (Genesis chapter 15 and chapter 17). The “natural” covenant that God made with Abraham was that his people would possess the land and many nations would come of them, circumcision would “seal the deal” (pun intended).  When God said that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:17-18), it is important to remember that many nations were already in existence (Genesis chapters 10 and 17).

Through Isaac, who as given by the grace and promise of God, his seed would be reckoned (Genesis 21:12 although we know that this is truly done in and through Jesus Christ, Galatians chapter 3).  Isaac would give birth to Esau and Jacob, and the blessings would fall into the hands of Jacob (Genesis chapter 27). Jacob is later named “Israel” and it is through him that the 12 tribes of Israel would come into being.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

So God calls Israel to Himself as He utilizes Moses to lead them out of Egypt, creates a covenant with them, establishes a covering called The Law, and says this:

“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:4-6)”.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6)”.

So…why did God set apart a nation for Himself? Did this have an effect on the other nations?

“May God be gracious to US (Israel) and bless US and make His face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:1-2)”.

“See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will SHOW your wisdom and understanding TO THE NATIONS, who will hear about these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people”. What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-7)”

It is my contention that God chose Israel and set them apart as a people unto Himself to demonstrate (show) His will for the nations-a set apart kingdom of wisdom and understanding! God’s presence was known to Israel, His judgments were demonstrated on and through Israel, and His blessing was upon Israel. Matter of fact this is what Paul says in Romans chapter 9:

  “…the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ…(Romans 9:4-5)”.

“He has revealed His word to Jacob, His laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know His laws. Praise the Lord (Psalm 147:19-20)”.

I call this “Hebrew Exclusivity”, since that is what we read about in the Old Testament. God has chosen Israel and throughout the Old Testament He is dealing with them.  Could others share in this?

“Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you… For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, INCLUDING THOSE BORN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD OR BOUGHT WITH YOUR MONEY, THEY MUST BE CIRCUMCISED. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant (Genesis 17:9-14)”.

Did you catch that? Even the “strangers” had to be circumcised because they would share in the blessings of Abraham’s people. The Sabbath regulations also were mandated for those in the household (Exodus 20:10).

So when Israel went into slavery in Egypt for 400 years and then God was about to demonstrate His will for Israel, wouldn’t you imagine that this had an impact on Egyptians? Well sure enough when Moses was leading Israel out of bondage it is said that some of the Egyptians left as well.

  “Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock and herds (Exodus 12:38)”.

“The Lord said these are the regulations for the Passover: NO FOREIGNOR IS TO EAT OF IT. Any slave you have brought MAY EAT OF IT AFTER YOU HAVE CIRCUMCISED HIM, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat if it (Exodus 12:43-45)”.

Well folks, that about sums it up, doesn’t it? No foreigner may eat of it. If they are circumcised they are allowed. Why? Because they have come into covenant as God had proposed to Abraham and was incorporated into the Law of Moses. (This nullifies the argument “RiversofEden” tries to use when citing verses such as Nehemiah 13:3; Ezra 10:11, 43). When a “foreigner is circumcised he is brought into the covenant relationship of Israel (after all, Passover was a thing for Israel, right?).

God fulfilled the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land and we see that this had an effect on some of those in Egypt who left with the Israelites. They were then circumcised and could participate in the Passover blessings. Interestingly, in the book of Revelation chapter 11 verse 8, the “great city” is “figuratively called Sodom and Egypt”. When compared with Galatians 4:21-31, one can see the parallel of the literal story of Israel leaving Egypt, also the New Jerusalem being persecuted by the physical Jerusalem, but glory to God, Christ is the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).

So, I agree that what is written in the Old Testament and the New Testament were promises to Israel. After all, in Acts chapters 24, 26, and 28, the apostle Paul makes it very clear that all he has spoken about what “the hope of Israel”. That was/is the gospel. “RiversofEden” makes it a point to constantly point out that Jeremiah chapter 31 (which speaks of the New Covenant) was a promise made to the houses of Israel and Judah, and was a part of prophecy. This would therefore mean that under the construct of “ALL BIBLE PROPHECY FULFILLED” and Matthew 5:16-18, Jeremiah chapter 31 must be fulfilled.

Is anyone arguing against that? Nope! Heaven and Earth would not pass away until ALL was fulfilled. Sure enough, in Revelation chapter 20, the “heavens and earth” flee when the books of judgment are opened. What do we see happening in Revelation chapter 21? A “new heaven and a new earth” come down from heaven.

I do believe that the “hope of Israel” was entirely fulfilled in AD 70. “The old order passed away”- remember the “order” when Israel constantly had to be atoned for causing tears), or would be judged and displaced (the mourning that occurred), the sin and death under the Law? Do you remember these things? When is the last time you did them? You don’t! Why? Read Jeremiah 3:15-25.

Just as God chose Israel and made a covenant with her (“heaven and earth”), demonstrated His loving kindness to her in judgment and restoration, which served as an example to the nations- for example, those who followed Israel out of Egypt. The would also happen when God fulfilled all prophecy to natural Israel, the passing of “heaven and earth”, and demonstrated his judgment and restoration- this time in Spirit, at the establishment of the “new heavens and new earth”. Philippians chapter 3 gives a great illustration of the old contrasted to the new. Say goodbye to circumcision of the flesh! A temple made with hands. The “body” of sin and death.

Today, what is called “Covenant Eschatology” espouses these truths that come under constant attack. We believe in the fulfilled prophecies of “Israel of the flesh” and through God demonstrating Himself through judgment and resurrection, i.e, “the hope of Israel”. We can now “put on Jesus Christ”, or better said the “robes of righteousness (Revelation 22:14; Matthew 22:1-14; Isaiah 61:10 ) and “come into covenant with God” (Revelation 22:17).

Blessings in Christ,

Michael Miano

For more “good reading” dealing with this subject, check out these links:

http://donkpreston.com/the-mystery-of-god-revealed-guest-article-by-larry-siegle/

http://donkpreston.com/israel-hope-of-the-gentiles/

http://www.postost.net/2011/01/more-salvation-israel-response-nations

http://www.postost.net/2012/06/salvation-gentiles-antioch-pisidia

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