3 Practical Reasons David Chose Jerusalem—and 1 That Trumps Them All

Thirty-three miles east of the Mediterranean Sea on a limestone plateau in the Judaean Hills rests one of the oldest cities in the world: Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is mentioned 660 times in the Old Testament and 141 in the New—more if you count all its synonyms like Zion, city of God, and Salem.1

No city has been written and sung about as much as Jerusalem.2

Or fought over. [Read more…]

Constantine, Conspiracy, and the Canon

Dan Brown’s bestselling conspiratorial thriller The Da Vinci Code seems like ancient history now. At its peak of popularity, the novel set records both for sales and for irritating scholars with its view that Jesus and the 12 apostles held to gnostic heresies. The book’s bizarre plot focuses on Jesus’ bloodline extending through a child born by Mary Magdalene. Within that narrative, Brown asserts that the New Testament canon was determined by the [Read more…]

Are You a Drunk Preacher? You Are When You Use the Bible This Way.

By David Helm

Scottish poet Andrew Lang once landed a humorous blow against the politicians of his day with a clever line indicting them for their manipulation of statistics. With a slight alteration in language, the quip could equally be leveled against many Bible teachers today: “Some preachers use the Bible the way a drunk uses a lamp post … more for support than for illumination.” [Read more…]

A Brief Primer on Christian Mission

The word mission is used today in a plethora of contexts. Diplomats, fighter pilots, and some elementary school teachers refer to their work as a mission. Virtually every business, from auto-parts distributors to fast-food restaurants, possesses an articulated mission statement. [Read more…]

Consistent Inconsistency in the Book of Revelation

The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (1867) by Francesco Hayez 1

Is the book of Revelation a linear chronology of distant future events? Or does the book describe the Roman persecution of Christians and Rome’s destruction of the temple—events that occurred in John’s lifetime? The first view opts for a mid-AD 90s authorship (long after the temple was destroyed), the second supports a pre-AD 70s authorship (when the temple was still standing). Each of these readings is complicated by Revelation 11:1–2:

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.”

Taken literally, these verses indicate the Jerusalem temple still stands—apparent proof that Revelation was written before ad 70. If so, the idea that John is describing the Roman persecution and invasion—empowered by Satan and his hatred for the Church—must be valid. However, while the defense of this view takes this passage literally, most people who prefer to see Revelation written before ad 70 read the rest of Revelation symbolically, matching John’s descriptions to some feature of the Roman Empire and its caesars.

Those who read Revelation in terms of distant future events often point to the mid-90s authorship. They prefer a symbolic reading of Revelation 11—a departure from their preference for taking the rest of Revelation quite literally (even to the point of describing futuristic military weaponry in John’s visions).

Who is the literalist now? It’s difficult to be consistent in the book of Revelation.

The Early Church Father Clement of Rome offers us clues for understanding how this passage might be understood. Clement wrote long after the Jerusalem temple had been destroyed, but he used the present tense when speaking of the temple (1 Clement 40–41). He does this to strike an analogy between the orderly worship of the temple in times past with a current concern about worship. The same may be true of Revelation 11:1–2. It’s not unusual for biblical writers to speak of a past event in language that sounds contemporary. In other words, the temple might be long gone, but references to it serve some other literary or theological purpose taking center stage in the writer’s mind. Nonetheless, this doesn’t exclude the possibility of interpreting Revelation in light of events in Rome. It just proves that neither approach can be fully accepted.

When reading a complicated book like Revelation, it’s helpful to address where views deviate in their interpretive approach. It might be more revealing than we ever expected.

***

why is the bible hard to understandDr. Michael S. Heiser is a scholar-in-residence for Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software. He is the author of The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible and has taught many Mobile Ed courses, including Problems in Biblical Interpretation: Difficult Passages I.

This article is excerpted from Dr. Heiser’s book I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible.

Discover more fascinating aspects of the Bible with Dr. Heiser

Keep exploring the strange, perplexing, and mysterious aspects of the Bible with these excerpts from Dr. Michael S. Heiser’s The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. Or dive deeper into the supernatural world of the Bible and pick up a copy of The Unseen Realm today.

 

 

 

Is the Jezreel Valley the Stage for the Final Battle?

It’s been called the “heart” of the promised land—a 141-square-mile triangle in the north-central area of Israel.

Today, the Jezreel Valley is Israel’s breadbasket. A beautiful plain of fertile fields and winding roads, it’s hemmed in by rolling mountains that offer stunning scenic views. [Read more…]

Before You Preach a Narrative Text, Study Your Hero

Samson Slaying the Lion (1628) by Peter Paul Rubens


You will preach narrative far better if you know this literary archetype.

The Bible is full of stories, and most of them revolve around a hero. From Abraham to Moses to Deborah to the True and Better Hero, much of Scripture is a hero’s journey. [Read more…]

666: What Theories Add Up?

If there’s one part of the Bible virtually everyone has heard of, it’s 666—the “number of Beast.” And if there’s one thing no one can agree upon, it’s what that number stands for. We see 666 in Revelation 13:18: “let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” [Read more…]

Jesus, God, a.k.a., the Name


It only takes a few words to produce dramatic theology. In the short letter we know as 3 John, the apostle is writing to a beloved friend, Gaius (v. 1). He commends Gaius for ministering to fellow believers who were strangers because “they have gone out for the sake of the name” (v. 7). John doesn’t use the phrase “in Jesus’ name” or “the name of Jesus”; it’s simply, “for the sake of the name.” Why this phrase? Is John trying to keep a secret? [Read more…]

How to Display Lexicon Entries in Outline Mode

Digital resources offer many advantages over their print counterparts: portability, accessibility, and exportability, to name a few.

Another rather obvious plus is: electronic resources use no paper! With print books, publishers have to concern themselves with page count. Thus, in an attempt to conserve space, information may be crammed on a page making the reading more challenging. [Read more…]