I thank God that you are doing better in health. I only just saw in yesterday's email posting that you have had to see a cardiologist before so I am going to be praying specifically for your health from now on. I will also be praying for your job too. Thanks for sharing those burdens with me.
Thank you very very much for keeping me in your prayers, sir. I rely greatly on them. And I am very honored to continue to remember you in mine.
And thank you for the response. It seems to jump out at me from everywhere not only that we should not be shy of diligently working out the precise times that the Holy Spirit is signifying in prophecy but that we should actually be diligent to do so as the Scriptures say. While I waited for your response, I remembered Daniel's diligence in working out the prophecies regarding the captivity in Babylon:
"In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years."
(Daniel 9:2 NIV84)
And that passage in 1 Peter teaches that he was not the only prophet who tried to work out chronology in the prophecies. I also remembered Simeon and Anna the widow prophetess:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
(Luke 2:25-38 NIV84)
Simeon was waiting for the advent of Jesus Christ. As were Anna and "all who
were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."
So, clearly, we have strong examples of people who took God's Word to heart and sought to understand His Timetable so that they could live by His Times as well. I am very grateful to see all this now. It gives me confidence to continue to try to understand the chronological information in the Bible about the Second Advent and to teach it as well.
In SR1 p13, you say:
However in verse fourteen of Genesis chapter one, the raqiyah, or firmament, is now the place of the sun, moon and stars. Significantly, the exact Hebrew terminology used in verse fourteen is raqiyah-hasshamyim, "firmament of the heavens". The difference is a substantial one, for it suggests that these shamayim, or "heavens", are in some sense distinct from those referred to earlier.
Could you explain further? I am getting from here that the heavens that existed
before the Genesis Judgment were different from the ones that were made after
and that at least part of that difference is that they now house the sun, moon
and stars. I understand that the earlier universe was completely devastated and
only the Earth was rehabilitated for human existence but weren't there a sun,
moon and stars before? In my thinking, the original universe probably had no
special sun or moon or stars since everything was full of light and there was no
darkness. Is that what you mean, sir? Is there more that you can tell me?
Yours in our very dear Lord and Redeemer
You're very welcome my friend!
As to your question, when you say "In my thinking, the original universe probably had no special sun or moon or stars since everything was full of light and there was no darkness", I think that is a legitimate assumption.
My point in the paragraph quoted is to make it clear that there are three "heavens" in biblical usage, and that the "heavens" which are beyond the atmosphere are merely #2 of three – the third heaven being the third (see the link: in SR 1: "the three heavens")
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I'm having difficulty reconciling these verses. On one hand there are verses that state that God will destroy the earth and recreate a new one and a new Universe. Then there are other verses that state that the earth will abide forever. I do know and understand that Scripture does not contradict itself. But how would I reconcile the seeming contradictions I find in the verses I list below?
2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
2Pe 3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Isa 24:1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
Isa 24:20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
Isa 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
How does one reconcile that with:
Ps 104:5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
Ec 1:4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
I was doing some research and there were several interpretations. One I disagree with is the word "new". They were saying that the word "new" means" renovated, and not literally new, like we are a new creation in Christ. The problem I have with that is that the Universe will be recreated and not renovated because I believe that there is NO sun in the eternal state. So if it was simply remodeled, that wouldn't make sense. The sun would still exist like a remodeled earth, but it doesn't. And I know that there are several interpretations for the word "new" and "forever" in the Hebrew and Greek, I just have trouble putting them in context.
There a two issues here:
1) Old Testament prophetic expression and the phrases translated "forever" in many English versions do not necessarily mean by that word in the actual Bible what we mean by it in English. See the link: "The word 'forever'". One biblical phrase which makes clear what the Bible really means is "from the ages to the ages" – which is often rendered "forever" – but it means, in biblical terms, "kingdom come". So there really is no contradiction seen from the biblical point of view that everything will remain as it is until "the end", and there is an "end", which is also a new beginning, i.e., the end of history (the end of the Millennium).
2) At that point, the universe will be completely destroyed as some of the passages you quote make clear; but it will be replaced by a "new heavens" and a "new earth", a cosmos in which only "righteousness dwells". But even though the earth will be destroyed completely, what replaces it will be "earth", the "new earth", but still "the earth". Think of it this way: our present body may be completely destroyed and/or turn completely to dust (as surely has been the case for Adam and Eve etc.), but in the resurrection in their new bodies Adam will still be Adam and Eve will still be Eve. This is analogous to what happens to the earth; it is still the earth; but it completely transformed into something much better, just as in the case of our resurrection bodies. So in this case focusing too much on "new" and not enough on "earth" can be misleading. Much of this has to do with the way we think in English and what we imagine is possible and not possible from English. The word "all" as used in scripture is another case where foisting English sensibilities and suppositions onto scripture can lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation (see the link: "The Hebrew word for 'all' ").
This age comes to an end; this earth comes to an end; this body comes to an end. But the age to come, the earth to come, and the resurrected body to come truly are "forever" in every conceivable way, regardless of issues of language and interpretation
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I am not sure I understand or agree with all of what others have wrote regarding this subject, although I could agree with some of it. They seem to zero in on the word "forever", which only speaks to the two verses I supplied in my previous email, which seems to declare that the earth will never cease to exist. This does nothing to address the Scriptures that show that this earth, the universe and even the elements that make up all things will come into a state of non-existence.
In the following verse the Scripture uses the word "create" in referring to a new heavens and earth. The word "create", as used in Scripture appear to indicate (please correct me I'f I'm wrong) something brought into existence from nothing: Isa 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
And from of the context of the statements from those who hold that the earth is going to be renovated or remodeled that: "The earth still exists, it's just remade." Flies in the face of the definition of the word "create". These bible teachers compare it to a marshmallow and taking the burned skin portion off when all the while you have a fresh marshmallow underneath it. Toe me, I find that a poor argument because of the word "new" (kainos) literally means NEW in the exact sense of the word.
I get a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on my door, and I'm trying to help teach them in the TRUTH of scripture by being someone who seeks to help and convert them of their wrong beliefs and doctrines in the chance that they might be saved one day. How would you reconcile the differences in a "teaching situation". I believe that this means more than just saying something about this subject, it needs to be able to be taught using Scripture. This is where I need your assistance in this subject in the hope that I can use what you've taught me and apply it to elsewhere. Thanks in advance!
God Bless you and your ministry,
In the Bible – and in theology – two things can be and often are true,
even if that offends pedestrian human logic. So for example
predestination and free will are both true – in fact you can't have one
without the other. But people who don't understand the power of God and
who are not willing to look into the truth to understand often won't
accept one or the other. This is a similar thing in that the new earth
is created anew from nothing (ex nihilo) and is new in every way;
however, it is still the earth. The example I gave you of the
resurrection body really is a true parallel: it is created anew in every
way, and yet we are still us. So forever (meaning history "to the end of
history") does come to an end with the eternal state when a new forever
begins (one that never ends); but the earth itself both ends (looking at
things from the standpoint of the present physical earth) and endures
forever (looking at things from the point of view that the Lord will
recreate the earth and it will be "the earth" even though it will be
much better in every way). This may be uncomfortable for some folks, but
as the passages you adduce make quite clear, it's no good pretending
that only one thing is true when both things are clearly true. The right
approach is to investigate and see how it is in the infinite power and
wisdom of God that both can be and actually are true (Heb.12:26-27).
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I got sent this email from a friend of mine. He said this article proves that the earth will literally exist forever, and not a completely new earth. This is probably the last time I'll be speaking on this subject. I know what you've said thus far is true, there are just some arguments left that I still have trouble reconciling. Here is what was written:
"Will Our Earth Ever Be Destroyed? HAVE you ever wondered, ‘What is the future of our earth?’ Because of what they see happening to our beautiful planet, many people believe that our earth may not survive. Indeed, today the earth is being ruined by the abuse of precious resources, such as water, forests, and the delicately balanced atmosphere. Also, some scientists warn that the earth and all life on it may be threatened by such things as a large meteorite, an exploding star, or the exhaustion of the sun’s hydrogen fuel. Scientists believe that the earth will gradually—perhaps over many billions of years—lose the ability to sustain human life. The Encyclopædia Britannica describes this as “the irreversible tendency toward disorder.” Happily, the Bible assures us that Jehovah God will not allow our earth to be destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. As Creator, he has limitless “dynamic energy,” so he can sustain the universe indefinitely. (Isaiah 40:26) Thus, you can put faith in these words: “[God] has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” “Praise him, you sun and moon. Praise him, all you stars of light. . . . For he himself commanded, and they were created. And he keeps them standing forever.”—Psalm 104:5; 148:3-6. God’s Purpose for the Earth It was never God’s purpose that the earth be abused and polluted as it is today. Instead, God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, and placed them in a beautiful garden. Of course, their Paradise home would not have remained beautiful on its own. God assigned them “to cultivate it and to take care of it.” (Genesis 2:8, 9, 15) What delightful and satisfying work God gave to our once perfect parents! But God’s purpose for the earth involved much more than caring for that original garden. He wanted the whole earth to be transformed into a paradise. That is why God gave this command to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”—Genesis 1:28. Sadly, God’s purpose was opposed by a proud angel who came to be known as Satan. He craved to be worshipped by Adam and Eve. Using a snake as his mouthpiece, Satan got them to rebel against God’s rulership. (Genesis 3:1-6; Revelation 12:9) How their selfish lack of appreciation must have hurt our Creator! But one thing that their rebellion did not do was change Jehovah God’s purpose for the earth. He states: “My word that goes forth from my mouth will . . . not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isaiah 55:11. For good reason, Jehovah has allowed Satan’s rebellion to continue down till our day. During this time, mankind has been able to experiment with many forms of self-government, and the results have proved that independence from God, as promoted by Satan, is a total failure.*—Jeremiah 10:23. On the positive side, during the millenniums that have passed, God has blessed certain upright humans. He has also preserved in the Bible a record of the consequences of either obeying God or rejecting his rule. In addition, Jehovah has done wonderful things for our future benefit. He has lovingly provided mankind with a Savior by sending his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us the best way to live and to give his life for us. (John 3:16) Because Jesus did not deserve to die, his death has been used by God as a legal basis to buy back what Adam and Eve lost, namely, the prospect of everlasting life in an earth-wide paradise.* To that end, Jehovah God has established a heavenly government to rule over all mankind, and he has appointed his Son, the resurrected Jesus Christ, to be King of that Kingdom. This marvelous arrangement will ensure that God’s purpose for the earth is fulfilled.—Matthew 6:9, 10. Thus, you can have absolute confidence in these wonderful promises recorded in the Bible: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” “‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’ And the One seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’”—Psalm 37:9, 29; Revelation 21:3-5. The Bible Does Not Contradict Itself Some, though, may wonder, ‘How can we harmonize the above-quoted Bible texts with other verses that seem to speak about the earth’s coming to an end?’ Let us consider some examples. Such an examination will demonstrate that the Bible does not contradict itself. Long before scientists recognized the “tendency toward disorder” in all physical things, a Bible psalmist wrote: “You [that is, God] laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; and just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.”—Psalm 102:25-27. In recording these words, the psalmist was not contradicting God’s everlasting purpose for the earth. Rather, he was contrasting God’s eternal existence with the perishability of all the matter that God had created. Without God’s eternal renewing power, the universe—including the solar system that we depend on for stability, light, and energy—would descend into total disorder and ultimate destruction. Thus, if left to itself, our earth would “wear out,” or come to a permanent end. There are other verses in the Scriptures that may also appear at first glance to contradict God’s stated purpose for the earth. For example, the Bible speaks of heaven and earth as ‘passing away.’ (Revelation 21:1) Surely these words do not contradict Jesus’ promise: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) What, then, does the Bible mean when it speaks of heaven and earth as ‘passing away’? The Bible frequently uses the expression “earth” in a figurative sense, meaning human society. For example, consider the following verse: “All the earth continued to be of one language and of one set of words.” (Genesis 11:1) Obviously, “earth” here refers to the people who were living on the earth. Another example is Psalm 96:1, which according to the King James Version states: “Sing unto the LORD, all the earth.” Clearly, in this and many other passages, the word “earth” is used figuratively to refer to people.—Psalm 96:13. The Bible sometimes likens the ruling powers on earth to the heavens or to heavenly bodies. For example, the oppressive Babylonian rulers were described as being starlike because they elevated themselves above those around them. (Isaiah 14:12-14) As foretold, the figurative Babylonian “heavens,” or ruling class, and “earth,” the supporters of that rulership, came to an end in 539 B.C.E. (Isaiah 51:6) This allowed repentant Jews to return to Jerusalem, where a “new heavens,” a new ruling body, ruled over “a new earth,” a righteous society of people.—Isaiah 65:17. The Bible’s words about heaven and earth ‘passing away’ apparently refer to the end of today’s corrupt human governments and their ungodly supporters. (2 Peter 3:7) That will open the way for God’s new heavenly government to bless a righteous new human society, for “there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to [God’s] promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13. Thus, you can have faith in God’s promise that our earthly home will last forever. Moreover, the Bible shows what you must do to share in that wonderful time when the earth will be transformed into a global paradise. Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Why not make it your goal to examine what the Bible teaches about the future of the earth and humankind? Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be delighted to assist you in this regard."
What are your thoughts on this?
The article you sent me is typical of the kind of sloppy thinking and poor exegesis of which modern-day evangelicalism is replete. It quotes Psalm 102:25-27, a verse which absolutely describes the incineration and replacement of the old with the new – in the same way that the resurrection body will be absolutely new and yet "us" at the same time – and then says this:
In recording these words, the psalmist was not contradicting God’s everlasting purpose for the earth. Rather, he was contrasting God’s eternal existence with the perishability of all the matter that God had created. Without God’s eternal renewing power, the universe—including the solar system that we depend on for stability, light, and energy—would descend into total disorder and ultimate destruction. Thus, if left to itself, our earth would “wear out,” or come to a permanent end.
What does this even mean? The only person who feels that the passage
cited might seem to "contradict God's everlasting purpose for the earth"
is the person who made up the idea of an "everlasting purpose for the
earth" in his own imagination. The Lord has a purpose for CHRISTIANS.
The earth is a home for US. WE are the point. Jesus died for US, not the
earth. We will be made entirely new, and so will the earth – for our
I see that this is a JW text. Note what they say at the end: "the Bible shows what you must do to share in that wonderful time". By this they mean "abandon faith in Christ and become a JW" – but that leads to hell.
I would strongly counsel you to avoid getting involved in any argument with this group on these grounds. This is playing on their home field where the goals at both ends produce points for them; the best you can do is not allow a score – which means wasting your time and doing no good. Find out what they think about Jesus Christ. Do they understand that He is God as well as a human being – because otherwise He could not have survived bearing the sins of the world? See what they think of these passage:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 NKJV
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
John 8:58 NKJV
I already know that they have butchered these passages in their phony
"Bible" (e.g., they say "a god" – but there are no "gods" only God);
have them compare these passages to any other Bible version and have
them explain why they are right and everyone else in the world is wrong.
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I committed some time to reading your responses on the firmament as I was reading Psalm 148:4:
Psalm 148:4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Praise Him, highest heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!
I have looked at the etymology and I thought that the origin of the word
firmament, raqiy'ah רָקִיעַ, could perhaps be explained quite literally
in the context of Genesis 1:6 and 7. What I mean is the following - let's
imagine a three-dimensional area totally immersed in water. If we were to divide
the waters, what would we do? We would insert some sort of a solid plate to
separate the waters.
In this respect I see this imagery as quite understandable - this is what the Lord did by putting the sky between the waters. Now the sky may not seem a solid barrier (although I understand that it may seem as such if we look at the skies from the earth), but the role it has been given is exactly as if it was a solid barrier - hammered out/stretched out to separate the waters. I'm not sure if I presented my image clearly here.
In the grace of our Lord,
Good observation on the raqiya – I'll post it at some point when I deal with topically similar issues.
How can Hades be beneath the sea, unless it is some sort of
interdimensional/or physics bending thing? Beneath the ocean is the
earth crust and then core/Lake of fire? So something like :
Earth is only planet, no outer space as we know it, light of God's glory lighting everything up, the Lord and angels live (so to speak) on Earth.
1) Angel rebellion
2) God separates into what we now call 3rd heaven (keeping in mind at the time no outter space existed as we think of it)
3) Flooded the universe
4) Lake of Fire created in center of Earth
5) Waters separated by created atmosphere and outter space, plus creation of the Sun means light again
Not sure if 3 or 4 came first. There is also possibly a huge amount of water on earth in a physics bending thing that we don't see physically. And I guess originally there was no big ocean on Earth or even sun or other stars/planets, the universe oriented differently. And the flooding of the universe with water (I suppose ex nihilo water), the atmosphere and space pushed some water into the Earth's crust and other water away from the Earth. At first it would seem like this can't be a lot of water compared to such a large expanse of the atmosphere plus outer space, but it might be physics bending thing again. So the 'waters above' are beyond space (space including stars,, sun, Milky Way, the visible universe that astronomers map out for us - the secular world's idea of the 'known universe beyond earth' , etc), while the waters below are the water on earth (and a bit under in aquifers)? Is the idea that Hades is in the ocean, and the Lake of Fire in the center of the earth-since the sun was created after the creation of the Lake of Fire? Then on the water above, the spiritual geography must orient differently than what we can physically see if the Throne is always above the earth but the Earth is round. (Sort if like the idea of time dilation in principle). I suppose we might almost think of how scientists theorize on the alternate physics bending reality of other dimensions-not that I am saying that is true, but that the Spiritual orienting of geography bends in a way? I am already pretty sure distance as we humans think of it is a narrow way to look at it. I really am trying to understand,
I'll give you a link to the illustration of the "heavenly geography" at
Ichthys below, but first, here's a reply to your synopsis which seems to
sum up all of your other questions (feel free to write back about any of
a) How can Hades be beneath the sea, unless it is some sort of interdimensional/or physics bending thing? Beneath the ocean is the earth crust and then core/Lake of fire?
*A: "The world" or "this cosmos" which is at present "in the power of the evil one" (1Jn.5:19) consists of "the heavens and the earth"; however, Hades (which is described biblically as being "under the earth") and the third heaven (which is described biblically as "above the heavens and the earth") are NOT "of this world". That means that they are nowhere that can be found by materialistic scientific investigation. To transit from this world to either of the other two venues requires a special passageway (cf. "Jacob's ladder" and the "entrance to the Abyss"); these are both undetectable by and non-accessible to physical means. So perhaps thinking of these other two places as "another dimension" is not a terrible way to look at it, except that modern physics which (string theory) does "believe" in other dimensions does not see them as non-physical or as not of the universe we can see – but they are not; not at all. And, incidentally, the present universe is going to be completely obliterated to the subatomic level at the end of the Millennium – but not Hades and not the third heaven.
b) Earth is only planet, no outer space as we know it, light of God's glory lighting everything up, the Lord and angels live (so to speak) on Earth
*A: Earth is the only planet with intelligent/moral (meaning "image of God") life; I would be very surprised to learn that any other place in the material universe has any life on it whatsoever because of what happened when God judged it. But God can do anything He pleases.
1) Angel rebellion
*A: As it says in Genesis 1:1: "The very first thing God did was to create the heavens and the earth". How long a time elapsed before Satan rebelled, how long before he became arrogant, how long he managed to get a third of the angels to follow him, how long they ran riot on the earth (the original seat of the throne of God) before the judgment whose after-effects are seen in Genesis 1:2, and how much time elapsed between the judgment and the six day restoration, no one can say (because the Bible is silent on the subject); but it could easily have been many eons.
2) God separates into what we now call 3rd heaven (keeping in mind at the time no outer space existed as we think of it)
*A: The third heaven (and Hades) as areas existed from the beginning of God's creation – apparently; we are not told of their subsequent creation so we conclude that they were created when God created everything else "first thing"; before Genesis 1:1, there was God, but no world (and no third heaven or Hades).
3) Flooded the universe
*A: This happened after the devil and his angels had been holding sway on earth for what seems to have been a very long time and took place simultaneously with the blacking out of the world.
4) Lake of Fire created in center of Earth
*A: That is possible. In Daniel 7:10, we see the river of fire flowing out from God's throne, filling (we conclude) the lake of fire; but there is much in the picture given in Daniel chapter seven which is telescoping the eschatology (e.g., 1st and 2nd Advents combined; see the link: "Prophetic Foreshortening"). I think it is certainly possible that the lake of fire was part of the original creation – just as the tree of knowing good and evil was part of the original re-creation. Neither was necessary – if no one rejected God's will. But both provided good incentive to stay away from what He prohibited.
5) Waters separated by created atmosphere and outer space, plus creation of the Sun means light again
*A: This happens during the six days of re-creation. The separation of the waters takes place on the second day; the "lighting up" of sun and moon and stars takes place on the fourth day. I don't find anything in the Hebrew inconsistent with the physical orbs of sun, moon and stars already being present, but with their being "turned on", so to speak, at the time indicated so as to concentrate the light already created in verse one (after all, the moon merely reflects light).
c) Not sure if 3 or 4 came first.
*A: see answers above
d) There is also possibly a huge amount of water on earth in a physics bending thing that we don't see physically.
*A: see answer a) above.
Here are those links:
Chart of the heavens and Hades
The waters above
The geography of heaven and hell.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hi Dr. Luginbill,
I did read your email and check out the links. Just a few follow up questions (sorry if I missed the answer to one of these, just let me know if so):
1) The water barrier itself must also not technically be physically a part of this cosmos, right?
2) If outer space itself (with the sun and other planets, etc) is not the firmament that divided the water away and now permanently divides the water barriers (if outer space already existed), what is the firmament? Or is it outer space being the firmament as outer space is recreated/restored as the waters move away and expose it (outer space)? Or is it something invisible that pushed the waters away, that just didn't affect other physical things much (compared to completely displacing the water)? Or maybe the firmament was a unique one point in time thing that only pushed the waters apart (not affecting other physical things as much), and actually doesn't exist now in this cosmos.
3) Why do you think the water in the Deep was frozen? (You can have darkness and heat-turn off the light and turn on the heater)
4) What do you think about this idea: Then on the third heaven/waters above, the spiritual geography must orient differently than what we can physically see if the Throne is always above the earth but the Earth is round (from our POV). (Sort of like the idea of time dilation in principle-except here with space dilation/bending of physics of spiritual world).
Last thing: I was reading the Four Horsemen part of the Tribulation. It makes sense that Europe would not flinch at the 3rd Horseman. Europe appears to be completely to the left of us, even their conservatives, with the strong top down government control and regulation of things. And they have a history of combination of church and state. Not that I blame them, I think the top down approach will work when the Lord is in charge. Just noticing that they are used to those approaches, and see the right over here as extreme. At least that is what I gathered previously... I am counting the days I go without media until I don't even think about it
Thanks for your help,
Thanks for your patience, my friend.
On your follow-ups:
1) Since the water flooded the cosmos and since it is above the two heavens (atmosphere and space) but not above or in the third, I would classify it as part of this cosmos; it is represented by the "sea" in the presence of the throne in the third heaven as seen in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 which, as can be seen from e.g. Revelation 15:2, is a port to viewing events in this cosmos.
2) The firmament gets its name from its appearance to us on earth, the rounded sky above looking something like a "plate". The "firmament" is both the sky and the universe beyond the earth; in its two parts it divides the lower, earthly waters – which actually water the earth, going down into the sea and returning into the earth's atmosphere (cf. Eccl. 1:7) – from the "waters above" which form the cosmic barrier between the corrupted world on the one hand and the residence of God in the third heaven on the other. The first heaven is the earth's sky/atmosphere, the second is the spatial universe; together these two are called in Hebrew shamayim, that is, the "dual" heaven, aka the firmament, which separated the waters on the second day and acted to uncover the earth and "drain" the universe, "outer space", for the functioning of the heavenly luminaries et al.
3) Freezing in the absence of any light or heat is a normal consequence. Certainly, God could have prevented that, but His purpose was the restraint of any further demon influence in the cosmos until such time as there was re-creation. The Spirit is seen restraining this influence in Genesis 1:2. Since restraint was the purpose, not only allowing freezing but preventing warming until the next phase of the plan of God makes perfect sense.
4) I'm not sure I understand the last part, but if I'm reading the first part #4 right, it seems to me to be a good perspective. Clearly, since we are talking about non-dimensional things here, the third heaven can be right above the clouds and also impossibly far away at the same time; it is reached by "Jacob's ladder" and accessed in what is apparently no long time by angels traveling to and fro (also the ascension and also believers after death, etc.), yet it is clearly nowhere visible in this cosmos.
I don't have anything to say about Europe or its politics (or our politics), but of course it is fair to say that everything we see happening along with all trends and tendencies are laying the groundwork for the soon to come Tribulation.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Just wanted to ask your interpretation of 1Peter 3:18,19 concerning Jesus Christ went to preach to those spirits in prison since the time of Noah. There are many opinions from various denominations, and honestly I'm playing safe with my congregation touching this passage. Did the spirit of Christ went to Hades during three days prior to His resurrection or Peter was just narrating that Jesus in the spirit preacher through Noah during the flood as evangelical view.
I would appreciate if can give your view concerning this passage.
Thanks for your ministry.
Good to hear from you.
As to your question, I have written this up in some detail, so I would ask you please to have a look at the links and write me back if you have any questions:
The Descent of our Lord into Paradise (in BB 4A)
Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Hell (1st Peter 3:18-20)
The bottom line is that the spirits in this passage are fallen angels
incarcerated in Tartarus (aka the Abyss, a compartment of Hades) for the
offenses committed in Genesis chapter six (and / or other offenses
against the "ground rules" of what the evil one's minions are allowed to
do). They did not see the outcome of the first advent, so our Lord
proclaims to them (from paradise across the great gulf between the
compartments; cf. Lk.16:26) that He has successfully redeemed human kind
at the cross. In other words, this "victorious proclamation" (hardly
"preaching") is the bad news for them that they have lost the war, even
though it will be another three thousand years before history wraps up
from that point.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.
Revelation 9:2 NKJV
Does this smoke invite us to think that there may be fiery torment in the Abyss as well? Especially considering that Hades appears to have had an interim Paradise for those who died believing. Perhaps there is something of Fire in it too that speaks to the Fire in the Lake of Fire too?
Possible. But on the one hand, angels have no physical bodies in the sense that we do; and on the other hand, angels are creatures of light – so that being plunged into darkness must a terrible thing for them (analogous to solitary confinement for human beings). The fallen angels will no doubt be thoroughly miserable in the lake of fire, however.
You wrote: "While we humans possess both a spiritual and a material
part, angels, are primarily spiritual creatures. The absence of true
corporeality such as we humans possess is in many respects a blessing
for it spares the angels the pain, suffering and tears which are the
common heritage of mankind since the fall. But this lack of corporeality
seems to have left many of the angels wondering what might have been as
they observed the animal life of the original earth prior to its
cataclysmic destruction as a result of Satan's rebellion (and subsequent
restoration during the seven Genesis days)."
Do you think then that the original earth was inhabited by animals?
Yes indeed. I have theorized and still think it most likely that dinosaurs etc. are the result of satanic genetic experiments (compare the Genesis six experiments with human beings).
You wrote: "Scripture neither mentions nor records the length of the
interval between God's confrontation of Satan's coup and His judgment
upon the primeval world, but it is entirely possible that this period
was aeons long in human terms. Such a grace interval would demonstrate
beyond any shadow of a doubt who had chosen for God and who for Satan,
as the devil commenced his earthly reign over what had been the original
paradise, the original "Eden" (i.e., the pre-Adamic earth). Given the
demons' longing for physical bodies and the integral part in Satan's
plan that the satisfaction of that desire played, it is not unreasonable
to suppose that much of the fascinating fossil record we now possess
from that archaic earth is a result of the devil's manipulation and
misuse of earth's original fauna for just such purposes: the Bible's
identification of Satan with reptiles (dragons, serpents), and his
obvious fascination with the same (cf. Gen.3), make the possibility of
this theoretical satanic origin of the terrible, powerful creatures of
pre-history all the more conceivable."
I want to understand this point - what is the distinction between "God's confrontation of Satan's coup and His judgment upon the primeval world"? Do you mean here that God confronted Satan's coup d'etat, but didn't immediately judge the world?
That seems to be the case. After all, coups don't happen overnight. Satan must have gone through a lengthy political process to move a third of angelic kind away from obedience to God into joining him in rebellion. And I hypothesize that there was a period after this revolt when the devil and his angels were running riot on the earth thereafter – allowed by God in order to demonstrate the folly and total depravity of sinful creatures ruling of the world (the same will happen for mankind during the Tribulation).
Ok, so what do you think the confrontation could have involved if Satan and those who followed him were still allowed to run riot on the earth?
We know that Satan rebelled, but we can also posit (as I have done) a
long period of politicking preceding this outright rebellion. Satan
would seem to have taken over the earth as God left as a result, and an
undetermined period of running riot ensued (producing dinosaurs and
other genetic experiments). The judgment leveled on the universe may
have followed some formal decree but we have no evidence of that from
the Bible. For all we know, this hit the devil and his angels like a
bolt from the blue. It seems to be a divine pattern to let things go one
longer than anyone would have expected to prove the point (whether that
point is the total depravity of creatures in rebellion or God's
faithfulness and justice or the stalwart hearts of those who choose for
Him – and here it seems to be a case of all three).
Of course we don't have a play by play; we have to infer. It seems to me that once Satan rebelled, instead of confronting him, the Lord left the earth and moved headquarters to the third heaven. But He did delay judgment out of mercy and to demonstrate the confirmed nature of the rebellion on the part of all who took part in it. Cf.:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. e day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
2nd Peter 3:7-10 KJV
Judgment on the universe came later, after this period of merciful delay (cf. Gen.6:3).
You wrote: "The presence of the
heavens and earth in place at Genesis 1:3 shows this is re-creation: As
God begins to work on the earth in Genesis 1:3, earth (and the heavens
in which it exists) is already in place, an impossibility unless this is
a re-creation (for if it describes the original creation, where then did
the earth come from?)."
I cannot understand this point - if someone assumes that verses 1:3 and onwards refer to the original creation, then they would probably just answer that the earth was created in Genesis 1:1. So both heavens and earth are in place, because they were already created in the original creation - could you explain this argument?
If someone thinks that God creates things which are imperfect as opposed
to perfect, and that then He has to "work on them" until He gets it
right, then the argument is not persuasive. If someone thinks that after
God perfectly creates something there is only darkness thereafter, and
that His perfect creation results in "chaos and devastation" (thohu
wa bhohu), then the argument is not persuasive. In short, for anyone
who believes that "God created" means really "God attempted to create
but then needed seven more days after creation which happened in verse
one in order to get it right", then the argument is not persuasive.
So pointing out original creation in Genesis 1:1 and affirming that it must have been perfect, but that such is not the case in verse two is a real problem for those who don't want to admit what verse two means. The primary method for Gap-deniers in trying to avoid this "truth trap" is to claim that "verse one is a prior summary of what would happen next"; but that does NOT work. Why not? Because the earth is described by the Bible as already in place in verses two and three, and that means that it was NOT created in verses two and three. Rather, it was created in verse one, just as the Bible says it was. And if it was created in verse one and not later, then verses two and three are not speaking of creation ex nihilo but rather of a re-creation of something already present. That logic is inescapable. The only question, therefore, is how long a time period occurred between verse one and verses two and three. Since God no doubt created things perfectly, the devastation and darkness in verse two and the need to completely renovate the world beginning in verse three, means that something major had to have happened. The rest is interpreted from what we know of the satanic rebellion from elsewhere in scripture.
You wrote "Re-creation explains appearance of age: The Genesis gap is
the most likely explanation for the perceived contradiction between the
biblical account of the seven days and the fossil record. The exact
space of time between Genesis 1:1 and God's creation of the angels, or
between their creation and Satan's fall, or between God's judgment on
the original Eden-earth and His restoration of it in Genesis 1:2 are not
recorded for us anywhere in scripture and could well encompass untold
eons of time (a commodity which is felt and measured much differently in
the angelic sphere, after all). In addition, there is also the point
that when God creates, He creates in mature perfection. The plants,
animals, and people (Adam and Eve) created during the six days are all
created in a mature status, thus giving the appearance of age. It is no
great stretch to see the restored "heavenly lights" and reconstructed
earth benefitting from a similar, complete creation that might well give
every impression of a lengthy geological history that does not in fact
comprise real time, in our limited understanding of it (Heb.11:3;
I understand the first part of this point (which helps to reconcile the fossil record suggesting the existence of the earth being much longer than 6000 years), but not the second (starting with "In addition, there is also the point that when God creates, He creates in mature perfection."). Could you explain it briefly and clarify how it's meant to support the re-creation?
I think this is answered above. To use an analogy, if God had to raise rotting bones to bring Adam to life, we would rightly assume that this was a resurrection; the fact that He makes him out of the earth shows that this is an initial creation.
Ok, this is clear, but wouldn't the appearance of age on the earth be authentic - with the pre-judgment fossil record still present, for example? This is also what you indicate earlier, so I'm not clear about this point you wrote:
It is no great stretch to see the restored "heavenly lights" and reconstructed earth benefitting from a similar, complete creation that might well give every impression of a lengthy geological history that does not in fact comprise real time, in our limited understanding of it
This is true, but the two things are not mutually exclusive. However, fossils I would argue are the detritus of satanic experimentation; the universe was perfectly created in the beginning, marred by the after effects of judgment. N.b., it's a mistake to put too much stock into present scientific theories of "how old" these things are; all of the "data" is based upon the assumption that things then were as they are now – not exactly taking a divine universal cataclysm into account (or a worldwide flood either, for that matter).
You wrote: "For only by denying the absolute nature of good and evil
could we ever deceive ourselves into thinking that we are good (and only
by being good could we possibly be "like God")."
After reading and re-reading this paragraph (2. Satanic Lie #2: "I am like God") I understand your line of thought. Two things came to my mind that you can consider. Firstly, upon the initial reading I somehow missed the point that is present implicitly and also expressed in the text, but which perhaps could be said in such a way as to directly link the two issues - that only by ignoring our own depravity can we indulge in pride. Pride is only possible if we ignore what we really are. When I read the paragraph the first time it seemed to me there was a jump from self-reliance and pride to the issue of sin. When I re-read it, I did recognise that you make this connection, so it is only something you can consider adding (suggestion in italics below).
In responding to lie #1 we ignored our own mortality and our need for God's help to overcome it so as to think we had no need of God at all but material things instead. In responding to lie #2 we ignore our own sinfulness and our need of God's help to overcome it so as to think that we are not sinners at all but crave praise for ourselves instead ( - for it is only by ignoring our own depravity and who we really when judged by God's perfect righteousness that we can indulge in pride). A large part of this lie and, indeed, an essential component of it is Satan's preaching of relativism. For only by denying the absolute nature of good and evil could we ever deceive ourselves into thinking that we are good (and only by being good could we possibly be "like God").
The second point, also linked to this paragraph is regarding the issue of relativism. At the end you write that "only by denying the absolute nature of good and evil could we ever deceive ourselves into thinking that we are good". In order to cover all the scenarios you could consider adding "into thinking that we are good - or at least good enough/of an acceptable standing/etc.". The point is that many unbelievers would not call themselves "good", but through relativism would see themselves as "Ok", "not the worst sinners", and all the rest of this sort of nonsense.
In a similar vein, many unbelievers would not say that the should be worshiped for their good (the lie: I am like God. I don't need a Savior, rather I should be praised (worshiped) for my good), but in their cases the expression of this lie is about making their own decisions about what is acceptable rather than ignoring God's righteousness and the only true "scale" of good and evil - so they are like God because they usurp the right to establish the basis of judgment, their own scale of righteousness according to which their own score is good enough or acceptable.
Two questions came to me regarding the Satanic lie number 3 ("God needs me").
Firstly - the name of this lie, since many of those who follow it deny God's existence in the first place and in doing their "good" in this world and trying to improve it, they remove God from the equation altogether. The same came to my mind later in the text when you write:
Buying into Satan's propaganda lie #3 and trying to make the world a better place "for God" by one's own self-righteous efforts is not of God and therefore only furthers the devil's purposes.
Many unbelievers try to make the world a better place not for God specifically, but for all other reasons, mainly to feel better about themselves.
Secondly, in this case it's difficult for me to see the direct link between the specifics of this lie and the Jesus' response to Satan His model of prayer for us:
Jesus' response to Satan: Do not put God to the test. He tests us.
Jesus' model prayer for us: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Some other derivative characteristics one often finds in Satan's substitutes for the true worship of God through Jesus Christ include:
"Emphasizing "secret doctrines", mysteries, and esoteric materials.
"Seeking to minimize the sting of death, denial of final judgment, denial of hell.
"Substitution of another god or gods, whether of a different name, or so perverting what the Bible says about the one true God that it amounts to the same thing.
"Promise of "becoming a god" or "like God" or otherwise transcending the mortal plane.
"Denial of the need for a Savior, substituting works or reincarnation.
"Focus on ritual and rote worship instead of true communion with God.
"Emphasis of feelings or ecstatic behavior over scripture.
"Odd, alienating, isolating behavior.
"Intolerance of other opinions and dogmatism not based upon true biblical authority.
Again, this is only a suggestion, but in the following section I would probably put the works system higher up, possibly at the top of the hierarchy, as it is this system which also corresponds most closely to the three satanic lies you discuss immediately above and which is the staple of the vast majority of false religions.
All of the above are helpful suggestions. The approach I took in this section was somewhat generalized. Clearly, it could be expanded into a small book. I'll keep all this in mind – perhaps this is something you will end up doing yourself.
You wrote: "Apparently prohibited from direct, outright destruction of
human beings (otherwise he would long ago have taken this obvious
remedy), and stymied in his abortive attempt to have human beings
slaughter each other to the point of extinction (by God's prohibition of
murder in the wake of Cain's killing of Abel), he now found himself
confronted with the intriguing prospect of introducing a fatal disease,
so to speak, among the growing ranks of the spiritually weak."
The point I'm not clear about here is that Satan was "stymied in his abortive attempt to have human beings slaughter each other to the point of extinction (by God's prohibition of murder in the wake of Cain's killing of Abel)". Cain could have of course been tempted by Satan, but it was still his free will choice, so I'm not sure how Satan could have possibly engineered a world-wide slaughter to lead humanity to extinction. In similar vein, God's condemnation of Cain's act was aimed at his action as a human and not any satanic influence (as in the case of God's condemnation of Satan in Genesis 3).
Satan could have done it without intermediary means except for God's prohibition; Satan could have done it with intermediary means absent God's intervention; the paragraph looks at things from that point of view to demonstrate God's superintendence of history – rather than from an analysis of the "play by play" of what happened in the event.
You wrote: "This awful prospect motivated the "legion" of demons who had possessed the demoniac at Gadara to beg Christ frantically not to have them confined to that terrible place (Lk.8:31; cf. Jude 1:6;Rev.9:1-11; 9:13-16; 20:1-3; 20:7)."
How do we know that the four angels in Revelation 9:13-16 are also imprisoned in the Abyss?
Because they come out of the Abyss: that is what the Greek means / is referring to in this passage, namely, the passageway in and out of the Abyss (see the link).
You wrote: "Genesis 6:3: the Spirit's Restraint:
And God said, "My Spirit will not strive with Man forever in their sinful manner of life - for this [is the way of] flesh. Therefore his days shall be 120 years."
"The divine displeasure evident in the verse above (very odd if the two
preceding verses were only relating normal human procreation which had been
divinely commanded in Gen.1:28) follows directly on the heels of the
intermarriage described in Genesis 6:1-2. Verse three suggests a double judgment
of the most extreme severity. In a mere 120 years (brief by the extended life
spans of the time), God would all but bring the human race to an end. And for
the progeny of those who would survive in the postdiluvian world to come, the
longevity Man had previously experienced (nearly a millennium in some cases)
would be reduced to a scant 120 years, and this would be a maximum norm scarcely
ever approached, and only rarely exceeded. Even in such dire judgment, however,
God's gracious nature is clearly perceptible, because for the one family of
believers left on earth (i.e., that of Noah), the 120 years were an important
grace period that gave the necessary time for the ark - God's chosen means of
deliverance - to be completed. It is ever thus that by the patience of our God
we are delivered (1Pet.3:20; cf. Is.48:9; Rom.2:4; 2Pet.3:9; 3:15)."
This point still make me think - how we can know that this was a double judgment, entailing both the 120 year grace period and limiting the human lifespan to 120 years.
Because this is both 1) the time until the flood took place from that point, and 2) also the general upper limit of human life thereafter (once the dramatic effects of the flood upon planet earth set in and began diminishing human life spans from the near millennial long ones before the flood); it's not for no reason, in my view, that the words cannot be taken not to mean both "of men on earth now" and "of men on earth afterwards"; so the statement is true of human beings then (120 years until the flood came) and of human beings now (few live beyond 120 years).
You wrote: "The current heavenly truce: In the middle of the Great
Tribulation, God will cast the devil and his angels from heaven once and
for all (Rev.12:7-17). Until that time, however, such conflict as there
is between the angelic forces of God and Satan respectively is taking
place exclusively on the earth. "
I cannot understand the point you are making here. You write that the devil and his angels will be cast from heaven in the middle of the tribulation and one would think that your point is that the conflict takes place in heaven and on the earth until that time. But then you write "Until that time, however, such conflict as there is between the angelic forces of God and Satan respectively is taking place exclusively on the earth". Combined, it sounds as if the devil and his angels were to be cast down from heaven in the middle of the tribulation - which means that the conflict would then take place on the earth - and until that time this conflict is taking place exclusively on the earth. I may be missing something here, but at the moment what you're trying to say here isn't clear to me.
There is much we don't know about the interaction between fallen and elect angels. We know that the fallen sometimes assemble in the third heaven; Satan accuses believers there all the time (Job 1&2; Rev.12:10). Further, we do know that the final confrontation wherein the devil and his followers are ejected from heaven and confined to earth must take place not on earth (it results from "war in heaven": Rev.12:7). We have only indirect evidence of other conflict before that time (cf. Dan.10:20-21 – which seems to be both heavenly and earthly in moving from point to point), but whatever it is / has been, such conflicts will only take place on earth (and the sky immediately above it) after the Tribulation's mid-point.
So I’m still not sure why you conclude that until the devil and his angels are cast out all the angelic warfare must be taking place only on the earth.
Because: a) there is no biblical evidence of anything else; b) there is scriptural description of the devil appearing in heaven and also of accusing believers in heaven (something I'm sure the elect angels would have the power to contest); c) the earth is where the "show" is going on; it is to human beings that our Lord came, becoming one Himself, and it is the frustration of God's plan on earth through human beings, the replacements for Satan and his angels, which is the devil's prime objective; d) the way Revelation 12:7 phrases things, it certainly makes it seem as if this battle wherein Satan and his followers are thrown down to the earth and confined here is a new development; NKJV: "And war broke out in heaven".
You wrote: "Since the cherubim stand by the sides of God's chariot-throne in
pairs (when carrying the throne), only two cherubs are fully visible to someone
viewing the scene from the direct forefront, and so it is that they are
represented in that context (cf. 2Chron3:10 where in Solomon's temple the
addition of the two cherubs on the back wall of the holy of holies at a right
angle to the two cherubs on the mercy seat has the effect and possibly the
purpose of making four cherubs visible)."
Firstly, I would probably give a reference to the entire passage - 2 Chronicles 3:10-14. Secondly, I'm not exactly clear about the nature of this representation of the cherubim - verse 10 describes them as "sculptured", but verse 14 says that Solomon worked the cherubim on the veil. So I don't know whether we have here some three dimensional scriptures, or a two dimensional representation embroidered on the veil.
2 Chronicles 3:10-14 (NASB)
10 Then he made two sculptured cherubim in the room of the holy of holies and overlaid them with gold. 11 The wingspan of the cherubim was twenty cubits; the wing of one, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house, and its other wing, of five cubits, touched the wing of the other cherub. 12 The wing of the other cherub, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house; and its other wing of five cubits was attached to the wing of the first cherub. 13 The wings of these cherubim extended twenty cubits, and they stood on their feet facing the main room. 14 He made the veil of violet, purple, crimson and fine linen, and he worked cherubim on it.
These were olive wood carvings placed on the back of the inner sanctum; there are other representations of cherubs in the temple on the veil and on the pillars, but these carvings constituted a huge sculpture mounted on the back wall of the holy of holies.
Thank you for the clarification. Could you point me to some references on this? This issue has been bothering me for a while.
Inside the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. One wing of the cherub was five cubits, and the other wing of the cherub five cubits: ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. And the other cherub was ten cubits; both cherubim were of the same size and shape. The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was the other cherub. Then he set the cherubim inside the inner room; and they stretched out the wings of the cherubim so that the wing of the one touched one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall. And their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. Also he overlaid the cherubim with gold. Then he carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers.
1st Kings 6:23-29 NKJV
The fact that the poles of the ark poked into the curtain (1Ki.8:8) also indicates something about the depth of the two cherubs (i.e., they must have protruded from the back wall significantly in order for the poles to have this effect).
You wrote: "The bullock face (Gentile age) is a picture of Christ the
suffering Servant. The bullock not only bears burdens (as Christ bore
our sins: cf. Is.53:4), but is also the most esteemed sacrificial
animal, whose blood was shed under the Old Testament economy as a
symbolic representation of Christ's promised work on our behalf
I understand the point of the bullock bearing our burdens as a sacrifice, but I don't know on what basis we can link it to the Gentile Age.
The ox corresponds to the generic "cherub" faced cherub in Ezekiel 10. Christ is seen only clearly after the incarnation, the prelude to the Church Age (man-faced), but is more distinct in the Age of Israel (lion face) through the scriptures and the promise of the Messiah; the eagle is associated with the resurrection in Matthew chapter twenty-four (e.g.), and in any case presents a clear picture of ascendance. So the choice of this symbol for the age of least distinction in the representation of Christ is appropriate – that is what the faces are meant to represent, namely, how Christ is manifest in the four ages (as well as representing important aspects of His mission; see the link). Given also that the other three are very clear, that is also evidence of the correctness (by process of elimination) of the fourth.
You wrote: "Their Symbolism: As mentioned above, all four cherub-faces
symbolize Jesus Christ, with each representing that aspect of His
historical mission at the forefront during the age for which they
Overall, I understand your points about the symbolism of the four faces, but I am not certain about linking them chronologically to the four ages you propose. Chronological representations cannot be very clear cut, for example - the Bullock face can be linked to the Gentile age, but it would equally apply to the Jewish age (and it is the Mosaic law sacrifices that taught this symbolism clearly) and then the sacrifice was actually realised when Christ finally came as a human. The lion is a symbol of Judah, but we know that Christ does not come as an avenging warrior until the second advent and this symbolism is never fulfilled in the Jewish age. At this moment I would link the four faces to the symbols you propose, but would not go as far as assigning each face to an age, as they are all linked and each symbol goes beyond one age and has a direct application to others.
Prior to the second advent:
Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."
Revelation 5:5 NIV
Given that they are described in regal terms, we may assume that these (kingly) elders are mimicked in Satan's system by the "thrones" mentioned in Colossians 1:16. On what basis can we conclude that the "thrones" in Colossians 1:16 are a rank of fallen angels? Especially since they are described as created by Christ.
See Angelic Issues VII, Q&A 6/7 (at the link). As to your question about Colossians 1:16 "thrones, authorities, rulers or powers" refers to angels, correct? And the Lord created all angels, the elect and the fallen (as things would turn out). The titles in both cases are earned through meritorious service. So the question is whether Paul is talking about only elect angels (an understandable assumption), or is instead giving a list of fallen angel ranks as a means of demonstrating that the Lord is Lord of all and that all of creation and of human and angelic history was meant to praise Him (in the same vein as Ps.76:10). I take it as the latter, first, because the context is one of Christ's victory over the kingdom of darkness and our deliverance therefrom (Col.1:12-13; and He is Lord over ALL creation, not merely the believing part: the preceding verse: Col.1:15); second, because the first two titles mentioned here are elsewhere only employed for demonic ranks: thrones is never used of elect angels (though this rank mimics the elders), authorities is specifically used of fallen angels only (2Pet.2:10; Jude 1:8; cf. also Eph.1:21 where Paul is doing the same thing as in this passage, that is, proclaiming the Lord's superiority over fallen angels); third, because in this epistle (and parallel and very similar in the companion epistle to Ephesus), Paul is combating Gnostic heresy, so that proclaiming Christ's superiority to fallen angels (which Gnostics were either revering or "doing battle with") was an important part of his message in both letters (returned to in Hebrews with the bulk of its first two chapters).
You wrote: "Since this college of elders must post-date Satan's
rebellions (because it is based upon six clans rather than nine), we
should also understand these twenty-four angels to have gained their
positions through meritorious service in the cause of our Lord. This
should serve as a reminder to all who consider it of the great value of
being and remaining loyal to the Lord, and of the exceptional benefits
promised to those who excel in the struggle in which we are now
Probably true, but the scripture doesn't say how they were nominated.
There is a lot about this area of doctrine which has to be deductive. We know that in the Church meritorious service is everything in determining rank and status and rewards in the resurrection (apostles with their names on the foundations of New Jerusalem, judging before that the twelve tribes on twelve thrones, with two "for whom it has been prepared" serving at the Lord's left and right hand, with crowns of righteousness, life and glory awarded for meritorious service, with gold, silver and precious stones for a fight well fought, but with everything worthless burned up); that being the case, and given that our Lord is not arbitrary in anything He does, we might well ask how else these angels came to their high positions? If it were arbitrary, then that would seem to diminish choice and free will for the angels; but we know they have it / had it - because otherwise there would be no angelic rebellion and conflict which comes entirely as the result of choice.
You wrote: In Ephesians 6:12, these angels (at least in Satan's order of
battle) are referred to as "world-powers" (Greek: kosmokratores),
emphasizing their control as limited to the devil's "cosmos"."
I'm not exactly clear on this - firstly, kosmokratores seems to be a description emphasising the power rather than its limit. Secondly, of what other "cosmos" could any angel exercise the power over?
The point scripture is making is that these satanic officers have power but only within the area ruled by the devil, this kosmos, namely, "the world; that is to say, they are not "powerful" in the third heaven or in the Lord's regime.
You wrote: "Much of the Pauline epistles of Colossians and Ephesians are
devoted to refuting gnostic teachings (e.g., Col.2:8-10; see also
Eph.1:23; 3:19; 4:10; Col.1:19; 1:25ff.; 2:2; 2:20-23), and the epistle
to the Hebrews goes to great lengths to emphasize Christ's superiority
to angels (see esp. chapter 1-2)."
Why did you decide to include all the verse which follow "see also"?
These references all have to do with "fullness" (Greek pleroma) which is a Gnostic concept that Paul is refuting by contrasting it with true divine fullness which has to do with Christ who fulfills all.
You mention the plural in Daniel 10:13 as referring to the fallen angels as the "kings of Persia". This isn't clear to me at the moment. Why should we take this as referring to a rank of fallen angels instead of the kings or kingdom/dominion of Persia? This question again appears in the next paragraph, as you take the sar as being below the "thrones" in rank, which would mean that we have first an angel of the lower rank and then malkhut as the angels of a higher rank. As I wrote, at the moment I don't know on what basis we can take malkhut as an angelic rank, but even if we were to do that, we would arrive at "a prince of the thrones" with prince being lower in rank, when in a designation of this sort we would expect the opposite.
All of the other personalities in this context are angels so this person should be too; also, there is only one human king of Persia but apparently multiple angelic ones. The "king" / "throne" is the commander worshipped as a god; the "sar" is the military commander, equivalent to the archangels in the elect angelic order (Michael is called a "sar" in Dan.10:20). The word malchut means "kingdom"; it's not a rank (melech, "king", is a rank; same root, different word).
Can malkhut not refer to geographical kingdom of Persia, with the sar having having his dominion outlined? Later you write of the angel as the "prince of Persia" and that's how I understood it originally.
sar malchut paras = "prince of the kingdom of Persia"; that is the phrasing in the very first part of Daniel 10:13. But later in the verse we find out that there are multiple "kings of Persia" (מַלְכֵי פָרָֽס). So there is a "prince" and there are "kings", but these are all discrete individuals. The former is the military commander; the later are administrative officials, of higher rank but concerned with administering the devil's realm (his relations with and control of the various nations under Persian control and acting as "gods" behind the temple idols), not with fighting elect angels (analogous to a provincial governor or multiple governors in adjoining provinces who are supported by an army under the command of a general who is technically responsible to them).
You wrote: "Princes (archangel level): These are the sarim discussed
above. Daniel 10:13 and 10:20-21 mention the "prince of Persia" and the "prince
of Greece", from context not only demons, but probably of equivalent rank to the
angel who speaks with Daniel, and certainly of comparable power to the archangel
Michael, whose help is necessary for Daniel's interlocutor to disengage and come
to his help (Dan.10:20-21). Like the elect archangels, these "princes" are high
ranking military officers with significant numbers of subordinates. It is likely
that Abaddon-Apollyon, the demon general of the "first woe", also falls into
this category (Rev.9:11)."
On what basis can we conclude that Abaddon-Apollyon is a sar?
Because of his function: that of high level military commander (which is what a sar is).
You wrote: We only find them mentioned in combination with other demonic
officials, most commonly right after the archai, or "princes",
the demon equivalent to archangels, whose deputies the exousiai
or "authorities" are (1Cor.15:24; Eph.1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col.1:16; 2:10;
A rank of fallen angels seems clearly mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:24, Ephesians 6:12 and Colossians 2:15 - but at the moment I don't know on what basis we can use the other verses as references.
Eph.1:21: "seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly [places] (21) far above every other rulership or authority or power or lordship" = fallen angel ranks (see previous answer)
Eph.3:10: "so that [His] enigmatically intricate wisdom might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" = fallen angel ranks
Col.1:16: "thrones, authorities, rulers or powers, everything was created through Him and for Him" = fallen angel ranks (see previous answer)
Col.2:10: "in Him who is the Head of every ruler and [every] power" = fallen angel ranks
1Pet.3:22: "angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him"
Taken together in particular (and with the other passages whose applicability you acknowledge), the pattern that all of these lists are given to demonstrate Christ's superiority to and dominance over all satanic angelic powers is clear (and even more so when the Gnostic context is taken into account).
You wrote: World-rulers (power level): These are the demon equivalent to
the dynameis or "powers". They are actually called "powers" in the
majority of passages in which reference is made to them (1Cor.15:24;
How do we know that Ephesians 1:21 and 1 Peter 3:22 refer to fallen angels?
Ephesians 1:21 refers to Christ's session whereby He has gained victory
in the conflict with Satan and his angels (cf. Col.2:15 NASB: "When He
had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of
them, having triumphed over them through Him.").
1st Peter 3:22, "angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him", refers to the subjugation of these angelic powers to Christ by means of His victory at the cross (especially in the context of 1Pet.3:18-20: "made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient . . .").
You wrote: The reason for their double imprisonment or this point of
eventual release is not specified, but, on the Genesis chapter six
analogy, some egregious violation of God's ground rules for putting
humanity to the test must be the root cause, probably having to do with
Satan's attempt to forge a one-world pagan state connected with the
construction of the tower of Babel (Gen.11:3-9)."
Is there any biblical evidence we can link the construction of the tower of Babel with these fallen angels?
This is an interpretation of the events described which correspond perfectly to all of Satan's tactics elsewhere. Human beings are naturally depraved, but I don't think it would be correct to interpret this passage in a way that has the devil sitting on the sidelines completely disinterested in this process. Creating a one world state so as to squelch all opposition to his pseudo-religion is a key part of his strategy in the Tribulation; this is essentially the same methodology.
You wrote: "Instead of succumbing to temptation (or, if we do succumb,
instead of refusing to confess our sin, change our ways, and so recover
from our lapses), we ought to remember that Christ died for these sins
of ours precisely to rescue us from this present evil age (Gal.1:4)."
Could you explain in what sense does Christ's death deliver us "from this present evil age"? I assume you mean here not the payment for our sins, but rather something else, but I'm not exactly clear.
This world, this age, this kingdom of darkness are some of the synonymous ways scripture describes being an unbeliever and in the grasp of the evil one here in the world as a result. We believers are delivered by grace through faith, but this "deliverance" is "salvation" by another name.
"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth."
John 17:14-17 NKJV