05
Mar
18

Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 12, Part 3

Satan, from Gustave Doré illustrations for Milton's Paradise Lost // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

A remorseful Satan, from Gustave Doré’s illustrations for Milton’s Paradise Lost.

v. 9: In a metaphorical sense, it is true that the kingdom of heaven is in our hearts (Luke 17:21), and that if our hearts are wicked, every place is hell (as with Milton’s Satan), but it is literally true that heaven is a place (in as much as we can understand its nature) just as earth is a place.  One can be kicked out of it, as with Satan, or one can choose to leave it, (Philippians 2:6-7) come to earth, and return to it (Acts 1:9-11) as Christ did.  Although Satan used to make frequent trips to earth before the time of Christ (Job 1:7), he now lives on earth because he has been kicked out of heaven, hence the angel’s words: “[W]oe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath” (12:12).

There is just not enough material in the Bible to put together a really convincing story about Satan’s history, but here is my best attempt.  Satan is one of the angels of heaven to whom God gave  a considerable amount of power and authority.  He had already declared himself the enemy of God and turned to evil by the time of Adam and Eve, but he still seems to have had a place in heaven.  In the first chapter of the book of Job, when the angels of God gather in heaven, Satan appears with them, and God does not ask him what he is doing there but rather where he has been (as if Satan were late, or as if God were expecting an official report from him).  Perhaps God was tolerating his presence in heaven as he tolerates wicked rulers on earth for a time.  Nevertheless, the coming of Christ to earth sounded the death knell for Satan; therefore, he tried to destroy Christ but to no avail.  Then, when Christ ascended to the throne of God, Michael led a great war and cast Satan out of heaven.

Speaking of Milton, if the brief history above is correct, Satan rebelled against God but was not kicked out of heaven before the fall of humanity (as he is in Paradise Lost), but rather he was kicked out after Christ’s ascension to the throne of God.

v. 12: The voice in heaven says, “[W]oe to the earth and the sea….”  Notice that Beast I rises from the sea (13:1) and that Beast II rises from the earth (13:11).

v. 13: Satan tried to destroy the Church itself soon after his forced exile from heaven.  Historically, I would expect this to mean that there was a severe persecution of the Church relatively soon after Christ’s resurrection.

v. 15: The refuge in the wilderness seems like a place of absolute safety, a place where Satan could no longer threaten the woman, but in v. 16 the earth has to step in and save her from Satan’s river.  Therefore, I do not believe she has yet flown to the wilderness when Satan tries to drown her.

v. 17: Satan gives up on the idea of destroying the Church as such, and turns instead to persecuting the individual members of the Church, “the rest of her children.”  The first of her children is Christ (Romans 8:29).  Perhaps his method of persecuting them was to resurrect Beast I.  Historically, I would expect that this might not look any different than when Satan was trying to destroy the Church.  In other words, in both instances Christians were persecuted.  However, on the former occasion, the persecution was fueled by hatred of Christ and the hope of extinguishing his Church, whereas on the latter occasion the persecution was fueled only by hatred of Christ.

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22
Feb
18

My paper about God’s existence has been published in the journal, PHILOSOPHIA.

Philosophia

 

My paper, “Æternus Est: Divinity as a Conceptual Necessity in the Principle of Causation,” has been published in Philosophia: Philosophical Quarterly of Israel.

The final authenticated version is available online at PHILOSOPHIA.

The paper argues that the principle of cause and effect is logically incompatible with atheism.  Below is an except from the abstract:

“The modern belief that mindless forces can be ultimate efficient causes of natural events is a conceptual impossibility. Thus, every force ultimately governing the universe must be a mind corresponding either to the polytheist’s or the monotheist’s generic definition of divinity, and monotheism’s eternal mind will always be the most complete and justifiable explanation for the existence of the universe as a whole, even for the existence of the gods themselves.”

Below is a free pre-print (i.e., the whole paper before being formatted for publication).

 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE PREPRINT

This paper is an extended treatment of an idea that I presented at Harding University’s 2015 Lectureship.  Below is a video recording of that presentation for anyone interested in watching it.

18
Feb
18

A review of my book, THE GLORY OF KINGS, on “THE ODD WEEKEND PREACHER”…

A very thoughtful and gracious review of my book, The Glory of Kings: A Philosophical Defense of Christianity, has appeared in the blog, “The Odd Weekend Preacher: Musings of a Gentleman Theologian.”  PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ IT.  While you are there, check out the many other interesting posts on his blog!

31
Oct
17

Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 12, Part 2

Below is a timeline of the emperors of Rome from the birth of Christ through the time John is believed to have written Revelation.

JULIO-CLAUDIAN EMPERORS

27 B.C.-14 A.D. : Augustus
14-37: Tiberius  (Christ ascends to heaven here)
37-41: Caligula
41-54: Claudius
54-68: Nero

68-69: Galba [3]
69: Otho
69: Vitellius

FLAVIAN EMPERORS

69-79: Vespasian (The temple is destroyed here-70 A.D.)
79-81: Titus
81-96: Domitian (John writes Revelation here)

96-98: Nerva
98-117: Trajan

 

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun

by William Blake

 

v. 1: This woman gives birth to a son, “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.”  This is a Messianic reference taken from Psalm 2:9 and clearly applied to Christ in 2:27 and 19:15.  The woman, therefore, can only be one of two candidates: Mary or an allegory of the kingdom of Israel.  Both of these gave birth to Christ.  Many of the early church fathers (including Oecumenius) believed she is Mary, but she may also be an allegory of the kingdom of Israel.  For one thing, the crown of twelve stars (representing the twelve tribes of Israel) seems more applicable to an allegory of Israel than to Mary.  Another reason for believing she is Israel is rooted in the fact that the events surrounding the woman later in the chapter are more easily applied to Israel (Spiritual Israel) than to Mary.  Perhaps Mary herself should be considered a type of Spiritual Israel.

v. 2: Israel gave birth to the Messiah.  The birth pangs here might be a reflection of the pain Israel felt under Roman occupation at the time of her deliverance.

v. 4: The second chapter of Matthew records at least one way that Satan tried to kill the baby Jesus.

v. 6: I do not think she fled to the wilderness before the war in heaven.  I think the narrative mentions her safe flight to the wilderness at this point to continue the theme of safety begun in v. 5, thus communicating the fact that both she and her son were given secure refuge from the Dragon.  For the actual order of events, see v. 13 where it says that the Dragon attacked the woman after he lost the war in heaven.

There is a logical sequence of events here:

1) Satan falls from heaven.

2) He attacks the Church in the hope of destroying it.

3) The woman (i.e., the Church) escapes to the wilderness.

4) Satan knows that he cannot destroy the Church as such, but he continues making war on Christians out of bitterness and wrath.

5)  To help him in this, he raises Beast I from the dead.[4]

Therefore, Beast I must come to power and reign at the beginning of the 3½ years that the Church is kept safe in the wilderness.

v. 7: This war is sparked by Christ’s victory on earth and his ascension into heaven to sit on his father’s throne.  It is this event that marks the beginning of the final age on earth; perhaps we should count time from it rather than Christ’s birth.

—————-

[3] The tenure of these three emperors was so short that they do not even come into some lists of the emperors, so perhaps one would be justified in ignoring them altogether in John’s count of emperors.  They all ruled within a single year during which Rome was enmeshed in civil war.  They established no dynasty.  The ruling dynasties of Rome began with the Julio-Claudians, followed by the Flavians

[4] Perhaps Beast I had been instrumental in Satan’s former persecutions (when he had had the hope of destroying the Church) but had been slain.

23
Sep
17

Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 12, Part 1, The Woman Clothed with the Sun

Sadeler, Larry Hunt Bible Commentary, Revelation 12

Jan Sadeler I (16th century) John’s vision of the pregnant woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, and pursued by the dragon.

Below is how I think the narrative of the allegory of this chapter should be read.

September 11, 3 B.C. Christ was conceived. The pregnant woman (v.2) is Mary and/or Israel. The Dragon is Satan (v.9), who tried and failed to destroy Christ from infancy (v.4) through the actions of Herod.

(June) 2 B.C. – 33 A.D.  Christ was born, fulfilled his purpose, and ascended to the throne of God in heaven, beyond the reach of the Dragon (v.5).

 33 A.D.  Upon the occasion of Christ’s ascension to the throne of God, war broke out in heaven, and Michael and his angels defeated Satan and his angels and cast them out of heaven, down to the earth (vs. 7-9).

33 A.D.-?  When Satan realizes he has lost, he is full of wrath “because he knows his time is short” (v. 12).  Therefore, he takes this wrath out on the woman and tries to destroy her, since he can no longer harm her child (v. 13).  Here the woman seems more likely to represent Israel (than Mary), or more precisely, Spiritual Israel, the Church. She is given two wings of the great eagle so that she can fly from Satan and be nourished safely “in the wilderness” for 3½ “times.”  However, before she can fly away, Satan tries to drown her with the river that he belches forth, but the earth swallows the river and she flies to safety.[1]  Once Satan realizes that the Church is now beyond his reach (just as her firstborn son is) he makes “war on the rest of her children, those who…hold the testimony of Jesus,” i.e., individual Christians[2] (v. 17).

05
May
17

My Birthday Post! Revelation 12, Astrology, and Christ’s Birth

 

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years….

-Genesis 1:14

If one believes the story of the magi visiting the baby Jesus, then one cannot entirely discount the idea of astrology.  The word magi refers to a class of people who were, among other things, astrologers, and the magi who worshiped Christ learned of him by means of a star.

Revelation 12:1-5 describes what many scholars believe is an astronomical event associated with the birth of Christ.  Above is a fascinating video by Dr. Michael Heiser illustrating the event.  Heiser believes that it represents Christ’s birth.  Below is a link to the Bethlehem Star website of Rick Larson, who believes it marks Christ’s conception.

 

Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

I favor Larson’s interpretation because, as he points out HERE, nine months after this event Jupiter and Venus conjoined, each contributing “its full brightness to what became the most brilliant star our man [the magus] had ever seen. Jupiter completed this step of the starry dance as it was setting in the west. That evening, our Babylonian magus would have seen the spectacle of his career while facing toward Judea.  No one alive had ever seen such a conjunction.”

This very same conjunction happened again in July of 2015 and moved me to write the following poem while watching it.  The picture is my attempt to photograph it.

 

13
Apr
17

Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 11, Part 3

The Wailing Wall Jerusalem // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

“The Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem,

formally a retaining wall for the temple during Jesus’s lifetime

v. 8: The city “where also their Lord was crucified” is Jerusalem.  So it is Jerusalem that is metaphorically (i.e., “prophetically”) referred to as Sodom and Egypt.  Sodom and Egypt are themselves metaphors for wickedness and tyranny (enslavement), respectively.  But Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2).  So what does it mean to say that the most part of it (all save the immediate temple grounds) will be known for wickedness and tyranny?  There are three divisions of place used here as symbols:  1) The immediate area of the temple, 2) the outer court of the temple and Jerusalem itself, and 3) the rest of the earth, i.e., “the nations.”  The immediate area of the temple (as well as those that worship there) is the true kingdom of God.  The nations are the faithless.  But the outer court of the temple and Jerusalem itself seem to be a hybrid of these other two.  Some part of it must be associated with the kingdom of God because it is Jerusalem, and some part of it must refer to those who are faithless, because it is called Sodom and Egypt and because it is “given over to the nations,” who will trample it for 3 ½ years.  Perhaps the 3 ½ years during which Jerusalem itself (minus the immediate area of the temple) can be called Sodom and Egypt represent a period of time when the majority of those who call themselves Christians will be indistinguishable from those who are the overt enemies of Christ.  Such false Christians would be Christian in name only, as Jerusalem is the holy city in name only in this analogy.  In actuality, it is the very city “where also their Lord was crucified,” making it a fit emblem of the most wicked city in history.

v. 15: This is the last trumpet.  It is fascinating to me that Paul, speaking of Christ’s return, says, “We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1st Corinthians 15:51-52).  I am not saying that Paul’s last trumpet is the seventh trumpet here, but it is tempting.[5]

 

[5] There are problems with this.  See notes on the 1,000 year reign in Revelation 20.




OTHER BOOKS BY LARRY HUNT

THE GLORY OF KINGS - A proposal for why God will always be the best explanation for the existence of the universe.

SWEET RIVER FOOL - Alcoholic, homeless, and alone, Snody despaired of life until a seemingly chance encounter with Saint Francis of Assisi led him to the joys of Christ and the redemption of his soul…

ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD - Enoch had a beautiful soul and walked with God in many ways. This book invites children to imagine what some of those ways might have been while presenting them with a wonderful model for their own lives.

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