29 April 2016

Book Review: God Against the Gods: Storytelling, Imagination and Apologetics in the Bible - Brian Godawa

God Against the Gods - Brian Godawa God Against the Gods: Storytelling, Imagination and Apologetics in the Bible by 4 of 5 stars

While Godawa is best known for his many fictional books and writings, I, being not much of a fiction reader usually, am only familiar with a couple of his non-fiction writings like this. Not too many months back I had read his When Giants Were Upon the Earth: The Watchers, the Nephilim, and the Biblical Cosmic War of the Seed and since I thoroughly enjoyed it, I approached this title with similar expectations. Well, those expectations were met.

Again, Godawa presents a look into the culture and writings of the ancient Hebrew and their surrounding neighbors, and in doing so, presents us with a deeper understanding of many texts of Scripture that, when taken too literally, become confusing.

The premise is, the ancients wrote in a literary style that we are not necessarily expecting from them, and until we recognize this fact, we are prone to misinterpret what the writers were trying to get across in Scripture. This has been a big problem in the modern church for decades upon decades, and Godawa joins the ranks of many, many other writers delving into these topics.

28 March 2016

The Sky is NOT Falling: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism - Pt 4

I've spent the past three previous posts examining the issue of misunderstanding language in the New Testament that had an established symbolic meaning in the Old Testament, and the kinds of issues that causes in modern interpretations of biblical prophecy and the nature of "end time" events. In this final installment, I will examine a couple more examples, and then we'll close out this series.


Moving on, Amos gives us a prophecy against Israel, fulfilled in 722 BD when Sargon II of Assyria attacked them.
Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light…Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18, 20 ESV)

27 March 2016

The Sky is NOT Falling: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism - Pt 3

Coming on the clouds
We pick up in this, part 3, with continuing to examine additional Scriptures that use world-ending symbolic language that is actually speaking of  national/political judgment by using cosmological terms to represent the powers.

As discussed originally, this kind of symbolic language of the Old Testament seems to get all but lost on many modern readers when it comes to their understanding of the same usage by Jesus and the Apostles in the  New Testament. We start this part looking at Jeremiah.


Moving on to Jeremiah 4 we find a prophecy against Jerusalem at the time, a prophecy that was fulfilled not too long afterwards when Nebuchadnezzar II took over in 586 BC. I will touch on just the highlighted versus from this section:

Behold, he comes up like clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles-- woe to us, for we are ruined! (Jeremiah 4:13 ESV)

25 March 2016

The Sky is NOT Falling: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism - Pt 2

In part one of this series we began examining how cosmic language - sun, moon, stars - was not always considered literal heavenly/planetary bodies like we tend to assume today. In the ancient worldview, this language was symbolic and used frequently to refer to rulers, leaders, nations and the like. We ended by looking at some quotes from theologians of the past on this approach We pick up now by looking at how another aspect of it is seen as related to Israel’s surrounding pagan nations that worshiped these celestial bodies – or more precisely, worshiped deities represented by these celestial bodies. 

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.  (Deuteronomy 4:19 ESV – see also 17:3)

24 March 2016

The Sky is NOT Falling: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism - Pt 1

In this short series, I would like to take you on a brief journey through some of the apocalyptic and symbolic language found in the Old Testament Scriptures. I will be taking a look at the types of verses that set the stage and lay the solid ground-work for understanding the New Testament prophecy verses that seem to confuse so many readers of the Bible these days. 

Sadly, when it comes to the New Testament Bible prophecy scenario, so many readers are oblivious to how so much of the same language is used frequently in Old Testament prophecy, and so they total miss and misunderstand what is being said by this language. 

Probably the biggest cause of this, is the fact that so much attention is given to the New Testament writings alone, and so people get a truncated understanding of language. Instilled in the hearts and minds of so many believers is this false dichotomy that the Old Testament was for those old people, and the New Testament is more for us. And due to that, people have misused and abused so much of the New Testament that it has made the gospel message so twisted. But worse yet, it has made the stories of the New Testament to be taken out of context fully.

22 February 2016

The Book of Enoch's Influence on the New Testament (Pt 5)

In the last part we looked at what Jude had to say about the judgment of the angels in chains and now I turn the attention to 2 Peter 2:4-11

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked...; then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. (2 Peter 2:4-11 ESV)

As we found in Jude, we have angels who sinned and were cast in chains awaiting judgment, followed by a mention of Noah, which reveals to us that the timing of this sinning of the angels was prior to the flood, and this is then followed by again mentioning a connection with Sodom’s destruction, and he also connects that to the lust of defiling passion and despising of authority in his own time.

While this section is usually understood by scholars as borrowing from the Jude passage, note that Peter adds a bit more to it than Jude, and that extra information he mentioned adds even more to the obvious connection between this verse and the Book of Enoch as his source.

21 February 2016

The Book of Enoch's Influence on the New Testament (Pt 4)

Now, let us return our attention to the passage in Jude that we mentioned earlier. This is one of the few stronger passages that show an even clearer dependence on the Enochian texts.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14-15 ESV)

This is a direct quoting of 1 Enoch 1:9, but one thing worth noting is that Jude states here that what Enoch is doing in this verse is prophesying. Referring to a verse from Enoch as being a prophecy sure feels like he is adding much more weight to it than if he was just quoting it as a secular type source like we see occasionally in Scripture. The other thing that is notable in studying both books further, is that Jude does not simply quote a verse and move on, but in fact continues to follow the content patterns of 1 Enoch along with allusions and echoes of its phrases and language throughout his letter.

Both books share the primary apocalyptic theme of the punishment of the ungodly. And they both do so by pointing to an evil in their day and stating it is a fulfillment of a past prophetic proclamation. Not only do both books appeal to ancient judgment examples as a connection to the promised judgment coming to the present ungodly company, but they both look back to the same ancient corruption of the angelic watchers who corrupted humanity.

20 February 2016

The Book of Enoch's Influence on the New Testament (Pt 3)

We left off last time in starting to look at the "Son of Man" discussion, so let us now pick up by looking at another example of the Son of Man theme that is beyond what we are told in Daniel. It can be found in 1 Enoch 48:

And at that hour that Son of Man was named in the presence of the Lord of spirits….Even before the sun and the signs were created, before stars of heaven were made, His name was named before the Lord of spirits. He shall be a staff to the righteous and they shall steady themselves and not fall. And he shall be a light of the Gentiles, and the hope of those who are troubled of heart. (1 Enoch 48: 2-4)

Could it be that Paul was drawing from this Enochian storyline when in Romans he speaks of such things as:

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. (Romans 11:11 ESV)

And then he goes on to discuss Gentiles coming to faith along side of the remnant - i.e. the righteous who steady themselves in Christ so as not to fall? Hopefully you are starting to see that there is an uncanny amount of similarities presented in the Book of Enoch.

19 February 2016

The Book of Enoch's Influence on the New Testament (Pt 2)

We ended in the last part with a little diversion on determinism in Hebrew thought, so now back to the path at hand. What benefit does the Book of Enoch provide for us when it comes to our canon of Scripture? Well, the most obviously answer comes from one of its primary uses by people today, and that is its relationship to the ongoing debate into the true meaning of Genesis 6 and the sons of God taking daughters of man as wives.

The Book of Enoch obviously sees the sons of God as indeed angelic entities procreating with human women and creating a hybrid race of giants. This is the common view on Genesis 6 that the ancient Hebrews and early church held, and the Book of Enoch is a key source for further promoting this understanding.

When it comes to this book in general, some quote it as if it were Scripture, while others condemn it as total myth and heresy. But if we find that it has been influential on some biblical writers and has influenced them in the writing of our canon of Scripture, then it would demand further consideration, would it not?

18 February 2016

The Book of Enoch's Influence on the New Testament (Pt 1)

I would like to step outside of the Bible in order to step back into the Bible - well sort of something like that. I’d like to start by stating these basic principles that I believe most everyone would agree with. The Bible was written by an ancient people of a different time, culture and mentality than us. We know and understand that there are many things we struggle to understand in the scriptures because of this fact. And because of this, we take to the study of ancient writings, people and times. But, as we know, not everyone does this sadly.

The battle continues over the opinions on the creation account and the book of Genesis. Studies in the writings from the surrounding nations at the time period of the writing of Genesis give scholars insight into the types of writing styles and language use for the period. Through this, alternative meanings can be discovered for words we thought we understood already.

The same principle is applied to our study of Scripture elsewhere - we have to understand the culture and it’s use of phrases, idioms and terminology, in order to best understand what was written in Scripture at the time.

I wish to take a look at one piece of influential literature, an ancient writing that you have probably at least heard of its name - the Book of Enoch. I hope to show you how this writing, which was lost or ignored by the church for nearly two thousand years, was actually a key influential writing that had a big impact upon our New Testament Scriptures.

Now, when it comes to the discussion of extra-biblical literature like this, people tend to have different reactions. Mention something like the Apocrypha to a Protestant - their instinct is to raise their fists in preparation for a fight. When you bring up Jewish writings that come from the biblical period, people either simply ignore or dismiss them as useless, or simply deny they contain any truth at all, and think instead that they contain error and myth.

We may hold to inspiration of Scripture, and we believe all of Scripture is true, but such a view does not require that we view everything outside the Scripture as necessarily false. Some people do exactly that, particularly when it comes to other scripture-like material from days of old. “If it was true, why did the early church not include it in the canon?” some may ask.