Saturday, January 30, 2010
When you are given a list of turns and distances to a particular destination, getting the first turn right is the most critical. If you make a wrong last turn, you may only end up on the wrong street. Whereas if you make a wrong first turn, you could end up in another state. The same is true with various Bible passages. If you get some passages wrong, you will have only slightly different views. But if you get the “pivotal passages” wrong, you will end up with a completely different “big picture” in many cases.
Daniel 8 & 9 is one of the "pivotal passages" in the Bible because what you believe the phrase "the vision" in Daniel 9:23 is referring to will greatly affect what you believe about the historical and prophetical portions of the Bible.
In order to understand a passage in the Bible we have to accomplish two things…
(#1) We must be able to understand what the Bible passage says, and the translators have helped by creating versions in our native tongue.
(#2) We must be able to understand what the Bible passage means, and this is where commentaries can come in handy.
We often expect the clergy to be better at knowing what a passage means (#2 above) because they have had extensive training. This may be the case. But we all have a good chance at knowing what it says (#1 above). It is our job to make sure that what we are told the passage means matches up with what it says. If a commentator (no matter how eloquent or famous) tells you a passage means something that does not align with what it says, I would suggest seeking another answer.
So I ask you, when you read Daniel chapters 8 & 9 in one reading, do you agree that the plain meaning implies that the prophecy recorded in Daniel 9:24-27 is somehow connected to the vision recorded in Daniel 8?
I believe that “the vision” in Daniel 9:23 and “the vision” in Daniel 9:21 both refer to the vision of Daniel 8, since that agrees with the natural reading of the text and because Daniel 9:24-27 (the only other thing "the vision" in Daniel 9:23 could possibly be referring to) records a prophecy and not a vision.
(Daniel 9:21-23) Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Daniel was greatly distressed by the vision of Daniel 8 and did not understand it. I believe Daniel 9:21-23 says that Gabriel is coming to help Daniel understand the vision of Daniel 8 by giving him a prophecy. Somehow, the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 must help explain the vision of Daniel 8.
Now, when you read commentaries that attempt to explain what Daniel 8 & 9 means, make sure it matches up with what the passage says (that the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 helps to explain the vision of Daniel 8).
Friday, January 29, 2010
Part of the process of determining what a passage says is to correlate the various Bible passages that deal with the same subject. We need to determine which verse in one passage correlates with which verse in another passage. I have correlated the vision of Daniel 8 and the prophecy of Daniel 9 below. Notice that the ending of the prophecy of Daniel 9 correlates with the ending of the vision of Daniel 8...
Daniel 8 Complete Vision
Interpretation of Vision8:3: Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
8:20: The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.8:5: And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
8:21: And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.8:8: Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
8:22: Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.8:9: And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.
8:23: And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.8:11: Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
8:24: And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.8:12: And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
8:25: And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
Daniel 8 Vision Ending
Daniel 9 Prophecy Ending8:11: Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host...
9:25: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.8:11: ...and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
9:26: And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.8:11: ...and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away...
9:27: And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease...8:12: And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
9:27: ...and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate....
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Am I a Calvinist, you ask. This is a common question among Christians. My first reaction to this question is that I become very uneasy since it seems very similar to when the Corinthians were saying “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas.” The truth is that all Christians are “in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” We are not “of” anyone else.
Now I know that people are not asking “are you of Calvin” when they ask “are you a Calvinist”, but the plain meaning of such a question seems to mean that you agree with everything that Calvin says. If I knew everything that Calvin believed, I am sure that I would disagree with some of his teachings. So no, I am not a Calvinist if that means that I agree with everything Calvin said.
In actuality, I think what people are asking when they ask “are you a Calvinist” is “do you believe the TULIP”, the acronym for Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints. They are not asking, I think, if you agree with everything Calvin taught. But in that case, it would seem more proper to be called a TULIPist and not a Calvinist.
Am I a TULIPist, you ask. The plain meaning of such a question seems to mean that you are asking if I believe that the TULIP gives the best description of the way things are. Although the TULIP is fairly eloquent in describing the way things are, I believe there is a much better explanation. I guess I must call it the FPCJG, the acronym for Foreknow, Predestinate, Called, Justified, and Glorified.
The Bible says “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
That passage in Romans 8 seems to be the clearest and simplest explanation of the ways things are. So I guess I would say I am a FPCJGist!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I received this response to my post Am I a Calvinist?...
I think that anyone who asks that question is 99% of the time asking it in the sense of TULIP/Sovereignty of God. Most people don’t have any idea what other beliefs Calvin had. Culturally I think that the term Calvinism has become synonymous with the Sovereignty of God in the salvation of men – they have come to mean the same thing. So my view is… you know how the question is asked and what it means in the Christian culture… so that’s what I mean when I respond that I’m a Calvinist, not that I believe or ascribe to any of his other beliefs.
Under that definition of Calvinism, I am a Calvinist. But I do not think the belief in the sovereignty of God should be attached to a man. And it even seems odd that Calvin was chosen.
It is true that the term Calvinism has become synonymous with the Sovereignty of God in the salvation of men as defined in the TULIP. If you discuss Calvinism with anyone the TULIP will come up.
But Calvin did not come up with the acronym. Best I can tell, the acronym TULIP was thought up by Cleland Boyd McAfee in 1905 (about 340 years after Calvin died). So if the term Calvinism really means an agreement with the TULIP, then it would be better called McAfeeism.
Now the original five points derived to counter Arminianism were produced by the Synod of Dort (about 55 years after Calvin died). So if the term Calvinism really means an agreement with those five points, then it would be better called Dortism.
If the term Calvinism really means an agreement with the Sovereignty of God in the salvation of men, then it would be more appropriate to be called Sovereigntyism.
Although I consider myself a Calvinist (if that means I believe in the sovereignty of God in the salvation of men), I personally prefer Romans 8:29-30 over the TULIP to describe what I believe.
From now on, when I am asked "Are you a Calvinist", I think I will answer "I acknowledge the sovereingty of God."