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Teddy

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Teddy last won the day on April 9 2017

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  1. Teddy

    Why Golgotha?

    A PLACE CALLED GOLGOTHA by Teddy L. Desta “And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified Him there; and they took two others with Him and crucified them on either side of Him.” John 19: 17 They crucified Jesus at a place called Golgotha (in Hebrew) or Calvary (in Latin). The translation of the name means the Skull. Then we have to ask: Why did God choose this place with a strange shape, and therefore with a strange name? It cannot be a mere accident or coincidence that the place be called the Skull to reverse the fall of mankind. If not by accident or coincidence, then what is the reason for God to choose, of all places, a place called the Skull for the greatest event in human history? Back to Eden From the beginning, God planned that man should always live in His presence, always listening to His voice and responding to His commands. But as we read in Genesis chapter 3, the first man, Adam, disobeyed God’s commandment by virtually seeking an independent life free from God’s voice. When Adam, deceived by the devil, ate the fruit from the forbidden tree of the knowledge-of-good-and-evil, he became wise-in-his-own-eyes. The consequence of Adam’s disobedience was severe. Because of Adam’s original sin of rebellion, God cursed the earth. God banished Adam from His presence, kicking him out of the Garden of Eden. The earth fell under God’s curse. Man became alienated being on earth. Satan, instead of man, became the ruler of this world. Sin, sickness, decay, and death became the new normal on earth. Worse still Adam’s disobedience introduced a sin-nature into the human race. Mankind is born with the perpetual inclination to rebel against the will of God, with the bent to choose the evil over the good. The sin-nature became the source of strife among the human family and the cause of the wrath of God on wicked communities. Adam’s choice to be wise in-his-own-eyes became mankind’s undoing. Forward to the Future The good news in the midst of the gloom-and-doom of the fall is that same day God has made a promise of redemption. God’s promise, as progressively revealed, was designed to undo the sin-nature to restore mankind back to Himself. Keeping the promise, in the fullness of time, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the world (Gal. 4:4). Jesus, through a life of total obedience and submission to the will of God, was sent to achieve the complete antidote to Adam’s disobedience and its dire consequences. God sent Jesus to pay fully for the original sin of Adam (i.e., atonement), to take out the sin nature from man’s heart (i.e., sanctification), to remove the curse from the earth (i.e., restoration), and to bring mankind into full fellowship with God (i.e., infill with the Holy Spirit). Discerning God’s way to achieve these goals holds the key to understanding the mystical meaning of the cross and Golgotha. Unlike Adam’s choice of autonomy, Jesus’ life was the opposite. Total surrender and submission to the will of God marked Jesus’ life. It became God’s will if by one man’s (namely, Adam’s) disobedience sin, death, and pain entered the world, that the obedience of another man (namely, Jesus Christ) provide the antidote for their removal from the world (Rom. 5:19). That God will defeat the devil at its own game, made Jesus’ life, starting from His birth in a manager total surrender and submission to mark to His death on a rugged cross to God’s will. “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil 2: 7-8 It is clear now that God’s design was to defeat the devil by his own devices. Jesus took it back from the devil living a life of full surrender and obedience to the will of God. The Cross on Golgotha As the ultimate sign of His total surrender to His Father’s will, Jesus embraced death by crucifixion. To do the will of God, Jesus showed a readiness to be spat upon, flogged, stripped naked, and nailed to a rugged cross. Jesus did not defend Himself in the face of blatant lies. He refused under intense provocations to vindicate Himself. He remained on display—naked—on the cross, while the citizens of Jerusalem looked at Him the full day. Because of the manner of His death, according to their customs, the Jews considered Him cursed of God and the Romans as one of the worst criminals they have to deal with. The place where God made His Son to die, Golgotha (also known in Latin as Calvary), is not accidental. The name means the skull, and as the result it carries a deep spiritual meaning. This name God purposefully selected to underline the original sin, the sin of rebellion against the will of God, and what it takes to reverse the fall from grace and restore humanity to full fellowship with Himself. To atone for original sin and to achieve the total reversal of its consequences, Jesus surrendered His will by agreeing to go the path of crucifixion, to die on a hill called, the Skull. That day, Jesus, metaphorically, became the Skull as He emptied Himself of the self. In submitting to a humiliating and agonizing death on the cross, Jesus has to empty His mind of the self-centered mindset, as He has to get rid off of rationality, self-preservation, and self-respect, etc. By emptying His head, Jesus, hence, became a skull of sorts in the eyes of his enemies and friends. When, thus, Jesus let God’s will take over completely in His life, He passed the test of obedience to God’s will. To reverse the original sin of Adam, which is disobedience, we see Jesus accepting God’s will, how bitter and painful it might have been. Calvary became the place where Jesus, by totally surrendering His will to the Father’s will, reversed the Fall. At Calvary, God dethroned the self and enthroned the Holy Spirit in the heart of man. Jesus’ through an act of obedience that led to His death, He opened the way for the Holy Spirit to come and indwell the heart of man. Jesus atoned for the original sin, satisfying the demands of a just God. His death provided a remedy for the sin-nature, providing full access to Grace that will help people to live a holy and surrendered life. The devil ensnared Adam presenting him with the Lie, making him disobey God. God used Jesus to reclaim for humanity which the devil has stolen. But Jesus’ life was also a pattern for others to follow. Jesus Our Pattern Jesus’s life was also an exemplar for total submission and obedience to God’s voice and Word. Jesus has now made possible the way back to the full presence of God which Adam had lost for his progeny. Jesus’ life on earth set a pattern how to live a surrendered life that is pleasing to God. For example, Jesus followed only what He saw His father in Heaven was doing (Jn. 5:19). To do the Father’s will was His sole pleasure (Jn. 32-34). Jesus, through His life of total surrender and submission, reversed not only the Fall but also created a pattern of life for the children of God to emulate and follow (Phil 2:5, Heb 12;1-2, 1 Pet 2:21). Hence, the Spirit of God will say to us. It is this pattern of the life of utter surrender and obedience to the will of God that the Holy Spirit emphasizes today, saying: My people in your day I AM also looking for those who will willingly go the road of the SKULL I went. I AM looking for an Isaiah who for the Word of God’s sake said “Yes” to My order. He walked naked and bare-footed for three years; and to obey Me. I AM looking for another Hosea who despised the shame of being called a sinner and married a woman of no repute. He allowed Me to prophecy to Israel through his act. I AM looking for a Jeremiah who said yes to look foolish for My sake by wearing a yoke, and by buying a real estate when all round him was only war and terror. I AM looking for an Ezekiel who did not mind for My sake to appear lunatic in eating the ration of famine. My servant did not hesitate to lie on the ground, by a roadside, for many months in full public view to do My will. I AM looking one like the Virgin from Nazareth who shunned death by stoning to say “Yes” to her God that the Messiah be formed in her womb. She was not ashamed to nurture the Son of God. She was not ashamed of Him to stand by His cross when He died a humiliating death. From the outset, she has allowed the Sword of God to cleave her heart. Yes, I AM looking for servants who will gladly embrace the shame and rejection of their age. I AM looking for those who go for Me all the way of the SKULL. I AM looking for those who for the joy set before them will despise the shame and carry their cross outside the gate. To these I will give an imperishable name. To these shall belong the glory and the power of the kingdom—forever. “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded (=head-less) for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Rev 20: 4 Wanted: A HEAD-LESS GENERATION. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx PTL (2005)
  2. Psalm 46 says how God will be with us in testing (stormy) times. Our prayers are with you. God bless.
  3. "To this end the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (1 Jn. 3:8) Cancer is the work of the devil. We, all, agree, in prayer to destroy the cancer in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
  4. Even in poking fun at someone (something) is 'taking advantage of some weakness' in the character. Sacramental naming can take satirical twist, O'Connor is equally good in such art.
  5. On good quote about naming characters in fiction: " According to Flannery O'Connor, naming is inextricable with seeing, and seeing with truth. Inasmuch then as fiction is truth-telling, says O'Connor, "the accurate naming of the things of God" is its moral basis. Further, "accurate naming" is an artistic aim which can be met, she argues, only by "trying to see straight" {Letters 131). This accurate naming and straight seeing both depend upon a relationship with transcendence, which for her was "an unlimited God who has revealed himself specifically" and who "has a name" {Mystery 161). O'Connor's God is neither an abstract speculation nor a theological idea; he is "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," who calls each particular being by name. His own name is "I AM," the name of pure being, of "actual existence in its absolute perfection" which "stands alone as a frightening mystery at the core of reality" (Gilson 63). The name before all names is both noun and verb, complete, personal, and unlimited. Thus, "the accurate naming of the things of God" in fiction requires language which attempts to see straight to the heart of a reality known by name, by I AM." (Archer 18) Emily Archer. "STALKING JOY": FLANNERY O'CONNOR'S ACCURATE NAMING." Christianity and Religion.
  6. Question Lynnmosher: Does this kind of self-publishing gives the author legal protection in terms of copy rights? Are such ISBN recognized by libraries? How much it costs?
  7. One good quote about naming characters in fiction: " According to Flannery O'Connor, naming is inextricable with seeing, and seeing with truth. Inasmuch then as fiction is truth-telling, says O'Connor, "the accurate naming of the things of God" is its moral basis. Further, "accurate naming" is an artistic aim which can be met, she argues, only by "trying to see straight" {Letters 131). This accurate naming and straight seeing both depend upon a relationship with transcendence, which for her was "an unlimited God who has revealed himself specifically" and who "has a name" {Mystery 161). O'Connor's God is neither an abstract speculation nor a theological idea; he is "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," who calls each particular being by name. His own name is "I AM," the name of pure being, of "actual existence in its absolute perfection" which "stands alone as a frightening mystery at the core of reality" (Gilson 63). The name before all names is both noun and verb, complete, personal, and unlimited. Thus, "the accurate naming of the things of God" in fiction requires language which attempts to see straight to the heart of a reality known by name, by I AM." (Archer 18) Emily Archer. "STALKING JOY": FLANNERY O'CONNOR'S ACCURATE NAMING." Christianity and Religion.
  8. The name of the character need inherently imply the character (trait, nature, habits) of the character (person). In naming there must be a creative and empowering process. That is biblical.
  9. Teddy

    Acting Prophecy (Part V)

    Acting Prophecy (Part V) by Teddy L. Desta The Abomination of Desolation: A different meaning A word study of the two words which make up the abomination of desolation will help us to discern the meaning of Jesus when He put the fulfillment of this sign in the last days. Importantly a word study is helpful to see the application of the term to the mystical temple of God, namely the body of the believer. Word study help us the connection between acting prophecy and the sign of the abomination of desolation. The word study delves into the figurative, symbolic, and typology language of the Bible. Word study: Sanctuary/ temple Up-to-now, the temple/ sanctuary (mentioned in association with the abomination of desolation) has always been understood in terms of a physical structure, either a Jewish temple or a Christian sanctuary (church building). But when the Prophet Daniel speaks of the abomination of desolation, he does so in association with the sanctuary (temple) of the Prince (Dan 8: 11). But the sanctuary of the prince (Messiah’s) can be taken as His body. It this body, as the temple of God, which gets desecrated by an act of Satan. This form of understanding of the term sanctuary/ temple has ample biblical basis. In the New Testament, the believer’s physical body is called the temple/sanctuary of God or a tent/ tabernacle (Jn. 2:21; 1 Cor. 6: 19 –20; 2 Cor. 5:1; 2 Pet. 1:14; Acts 8: 47 –50; Is 66: 1-3). It is this kind of mystical understanding of sanctuary/ temple which holds the key to unlock the true meaning of the vision of Daniel and Jesus’ reference to it in association with the last days. If the prophet spoke of the sanctuary of the Prince (v. 13) in case of the Prince’s (Messiah’s) body as the temple of God, then we will no longer be referring to a literal temple/ sanctuary where the abomination of desolation manifests. Word study: Abomination Abomination in its Biblical usage can be one of two things. It can mean sin, idolatry, uncleanness, and disobedience, something repugnant and objectionable to God (Deuteronomy 7:25, 26, Isaiah 44:19; Deuteronomy 32:16 2 Kings 23:13; Exodus 8:22; Deuteronomy 22:5; Deuteronomy 23:18; Deuteronomy 24:4, Leviticus 18:27). The dictionary definition reflects the biblical sense: “Anything hateful, wicked, or shamefully vile; a detestable behavior; an object or state that excites disgust and hatred; a hateful or shameful vice; pollution.” (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary) In the second sense, it refers to a condition where a person becomes a reject of his community. It can refer to rejection related to some type of taboo, sickness, calamity, or ignominious act, etc. ((Genesis 46:34; Exodus 8:26; Psalm 88:8). “You have taken my friends from me. You have made me an abomination to them. I am confined, and I can't escape.” (Psalm 88:8) See also Psalm 38 and Job 17:6. So, in which of these two senses of the word should we understand the abomination of desolation in the context of Daniel 8:12-13? In which way is the body (person) of the Prince become an abomination? Is the prince committing some dreadful sin the eyes of God to become an abomination? Or, is it that the Prince is afflicted by Satan to become an abomination in the eyes of all around him? “When Daniel undertook to specify an abomination so disgusting to the sense of morality and decency, and so aggressive against everything that was godly as to drive all from its presence and leave its abode desolate, he chose this as the strongest among the several synonyms, adding the qualification "that maketh desolate…" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Frank E. Hirsch) Word study: Desolation What about the word “desolation”? In which sense should we understand it? If this is the meaning “abomination of desolation” gives under proper word analysis, then which interpretation makes more sense: - An impious king, the Anti-Christ, will sit in a physical temple of God receiving worship as god. This causes the spiritual pollution of the temple, making the faithful to abandon it? Or, the Holy Spirit departs from the temple; making the sanctuary an “empty” or desolate place. - The Anti-Christ physically bulldozes the Temple in Jerusalem or churches, razing the sanctuary of God to earth. - The Prince’s body is the ultimate temple of God. Its body is desecrated by an affliction unleashed by Satan. His personhood is brought low, humiliated. The desolation is his social and psychological devastation. But is Jesus referring to a physical temple, either a Jewish temple to be built in Jerusalem or to the physical structures of the church of Christ in general? But the New Testament gives us clue on this. In the New Testament the overwhelming application of the temple of God in the new dispensation is the body of the believer: "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?' (Acts 7: 48-50). “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (1 Cor. 6:19). Given these examples, it becomes plausible to reason that what becomes desolate because of the abomination is the body of a believer-person as the ultimate temple of God. In the case of Daniel 8:13, the person of the Prince is made desolate, is reduced to misery. The Prince, in the eyes of society has now become an abomination and his soul is devastation (desolation). The laments in Psalms 38, 88. And 102 describe such desolation of a person. The misery Job has experienced serves as a type for the Prince’s desolation. Jeremiah’s dirges are other good examples (see Lamentation 3). The Psalms of David speak about Christ prophetically. Many Psalms describe Christ’s suffering and resurrection (Luke 24:44). The Psalms represent the suffering of Christ mostly in terms of sickness and deep humiliation. (see for example the Psalms 13, 22, 38, 69, 88, 109). The prophet Jeremiah had a life of humiliation. Jeremiah had a humiliating sickness (15: 18, 20: 18, 30: 12-14). His suffering – humiliation and rejection – was so deep that some Jewish commentators identify Isaiah’s the Suffering Servant with Jeremiah. For that reason, we can think that Jeremiah partook in the Messiah’s suffering. In the New Testament we find the Apostle Paul with a humiliating affliction which is like the Messiah’s and Jeremiah’s. Paul describes it as “a thorn in his flesh” or a “messenger of Satan” (2 Cor 12: 6). His affliction Paul calls the “death of Christ” and “the stigmata of Christ” he carried around in his body (2 Cor. 4:10; Gal 6:17). Isaiah (49:7) also notes how God uses the deep humiliation of His Servant as the occasion to make the high and mighty of this world to bow down to His Servant. The Prophet Amos (9: 11) writes that God will restore David's tabernacle from the rubble it is reduced to. The Prophet Zechariah (12:8)remarks how God will use the deeply humiliated one to be God-like, David-like. Humiliation changing into glory is repeated through the imagery of a branch arising from a stump of a tree. The Prophet Zechariah in a vision about the high-priest (Zech. 3) sees a deeply humiliated prince-high priest. That is if we take the soiled garments of the high priest as figurative speech about his bodily contamination. God -- in a form of vindication/ resurrection -- orders the casting away of the filthy dress in exchange for a glorious raiment. God actualizes a radical transformation in the life of the prince-high priest. It is a journey from the pit of degradation to the bliss of glory. It is the same idea then that the Apostle Paul expresses in Philippians 3: 19 and 21. "For he will transform the body of our humiliation into the image of his glorious body, according to his great power by which everything has been made subject to him." (Phil. 3:21) So, it is more appropriate to understand the image in Zechariah Chapter 3 about the High Priest in the context of a bodily humiliation (i.e., an affliction that typifies the stinking nature of sin to God) instead of simply saying the High Priest, in behalf of the people's sin is feeling ashamed, standing accused by Satan. It is better to interpret the imagery as another depiction of the suffering/ humiliation and restoration/ resurrection of the Prince as depicted in Isaiah 52: 13 - 53:12. Also the Apostle Paul repeats the same theme of cross-to-glory principle using a different approach. Paul writes in 1 Cor 1: 26-29, showing how God uses what the secular world considers moronic, despised, and feeble to shame the world's power and wisdom. The Apostle may have Isaiah’s 53 humiliation when he writes these words. If a Christian is chosen in partaking of (fellowship in) the Christ's sufferings, then that person must rejoice, because the humiliation will be followed by eternal glory (Phil 3: 10-11; 1 Pet. 4: 13-14; 2 Tim 2: 11). This identification with Christ’s’ suffering will enter a new phase in the last days, where evil will break forth with all its power. This is because the ultimate abomination of desolation takes place only during the Great tribulation in the End-times. Interestingly, End-times events have also associations with Israel's second-set of feasts which appear in autumn every year. The holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Suckoth will be fulfilled in their prophetic meaning only in the last days. For example, Rosh Hashanah (i.e., Feast of Trumpets) prophetically represents the Day of Warfare of the last days. Rosh Hashana, in its anti-type or end-time prophetic fulfillment, is the start of the time of the Tribulation which Jesus taught in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21). Part of the Great tribulation is the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the temple of God. However, the abomination of desolation may not be a material idol to be set up in the future man-made temple by the anti-Christ. At least in the context of its applied meaning, it means a humiliating sickness manifesting in the Prince's body. It is the same affliction as typified in the acting prophecy of the Apostle Paul.] [Note: I see the abomination of desolation of the end-times from two approaches. I have dealt with the political dimensions of the term in my interpretation of Daniel Chapter 8 which is available on this web site. Here, I have discussed the term, in its equally important application, as a form of bodily affliction, as exemplified in the acting prophecy of the Apostle Paul.] ============================================================================================================================== Glory be to God © Teddy L. Desta, 2017 - 2055. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Teddy L. Desta and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
  10. Teddy

    Acting Prophecy (Part IV)

    Acting Prophecy (Part IV) by Teddy L. Desta Before we investigate the nature of St. Paul's acting prophecy ministry, we first need to do a digression. The digression on the abomination of desolation how it has been understood in the past and how we should look at it in a narrower sense as applying the life of the Apostle Paul. Next we do a biblical word study on the two words which make up the term abomination of desolation. 2.1 The Abomination of Desolation One of the most cryptic signs of the last days is the abomination of desolation. This mysterious sign is first mentioned in the visions of Daniel (chapters 8, 9, 11 and 12). In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus mentions the abomination of desolation as one sign of the End Times (Matt 24 and Mk 13). Regarding the meaning or interpretation of the abomination of desolation, we can study the issue from two angles, namely the historical and prophetic. Many Bible students consider the sign of the abomination of desolation in the past tense, as some event which has already fulfilled this prophecy. I mention two events in association with this sign, both involving some desecration perpetrated against the temple of God in Jerusalem. I tie the first historical event to the invasion and persecution the Greco-Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes launched against Israel in 168-165 BC. The invader committed a sacrilege against the temple of God in Jerusalem. He set up a Zeus statue in the temple of God and sacrificed a pig on the altar of God, profaning the temple. He persecuted faithful Jews, inciting a revolt led by the Maccabees. After a furious struggle to last some three and a half years, the Maccabees defeated Antiochus and restoring their temple for service. Because Jesus spoke about the sign of the abomination of desolation still, there have been other attempts to identify historical events that fulfill this sign. The second historical event associated with the sign of the abomination of desolation is the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in AD 70. The Roman general, Titus, totally razed the Temple, killing many Jews and banishing the rest from the land. He carries Temple vessels to Rome as war booty. At least according to one line of interpretation of the End-Times, Preterism, it is this action of Titus which fulfills the sign of the abomination of desolation. For Preterism, when Roman soldiers carried army banners on the temple ground and gentiles set foot on Temple holy grounds that polluted the Temple. That was a sacrilege (abomination). The events of AD 70 left the Temple and the land desolate. Because of the action of the Romans, the Holy Land remained trampled under the feet of gentile nations almost for 2000 years, until the birth of modern Israel in 1948. Israel took control of East Jerusalem and the Temple area only in 1967. On the location where once the Temple stood now stand mosques built by Muslims around AD 700. There are many other Bible scholars, commonly known as Dispensationalists and Futurism, who say Jesus’ words about the abomination of desolation (Mat. 24, Mk 13:14, Lk. 21) refer to the End-Times. Dispensationalism and Futurism believe this sign will fulfill with events associated with Jesus’ Second Coming. For Dispensationalism/ Futurism, evil men which destroy the temple of God, the likes of Antiochus Epiphanes and Titus, are shadows of the Anti-Christ who will rise in the End-Times. The Anti-Christ will unleash great persecution of Christians. He will set up himself in the temple of God, declaring himself as a god worthy of human worship. Dispensationalism/ Futurism takes this aspiration by the Anti-Christ as fulfilling the sign of the abomination of desolation. Many scholars supporting this line of interpretation, they state that the Antichrist will set up himself as God in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. However, there are also a few other prophecy teachers who uphold the view that the sign of the abomination of desolation refers NOT to a person, but to some form of false doctrines which will cause apostasy among the churches of the last days. The doctrinal error inspired the spirit of the Anti-Christ, will infiltrate and pollute the churches. Thus, the doctrine of error is the “abomination” and the spiritual havoc it causes is the “desolation.” Hence, it is the apostasy, which is the abomination of desolation, the doctrine of error, which is the End-Times abomination of desolation. (See Thess. 2:11-12; 1 Tim. 4: 1-2; 2 Tim. 4: 3-5, 1 Jn. 2:18-27; Jude; 2 Peter; Rev 3: 1-6, 3: 15-18). 2.2 The Abomination of Desolation: An Alternative View Here we consider an alternative third viewpoint. This viewpoint starts by calling attention to the following two important facts. First is what the Lord Jesus said about the abomination of desolation. Jesus noted three ideas about the abomination of desolation. - The abomination of desolation is not a new prophecy by Jesus, but it has its roots in the visions of the Prophet Daniel. - Jesus admonished, particularly his reference to the term abomination of desolation requires discernment. Meaning the readers/ interpreters must not rush themselves for a glib answer. Hence, we can assume that there is a veiled meaning to the term that requires careful study and interpretation. - The manifestation of the abomination of desolation will serve as a sign of an impending calamity. People who can discern this sign for what it is, Jesus advises leaving the place as fast as they can. This sign, therefore, will be a major red light to warn to take the necessary steps to escape the calamity which closes upon people like a trap. Therefore, based on Jesus’s admonishment about exercising discernment in searching the meaning of the abomination of desolation, we look closely at the term from its origins. We find the first mention of the abomination of desolation in the eighth chapter of the book of Daniel. Without setting aside the importance of the historical understandings of the term, we explore an alternative meaning based on a different perspective. The perspective is that of interpreting prophecy/ visions outside their historical confines (as done by many in the past) by entertaining a spiritual/ global/ metaphoric (figurative) meaning which carries relevance to the times we live in. There are possibilities to take the vision in Daniel Chapter 8 as God’s broad-brush depiction of world history. It presents human history as a clash between two powerful forces. This great clash, which will characterize history from God’s perspective, God presents as types and metaphors. If we move away from the historical model of interpreting this vision, we will arrive at the territory of discerning “essence meaning.” “Essence meaning” focuses on decoding the symbolic in the literal, pinning down the anti-type from the type, and discerning the grand scheme of things of God. Hence, the readily recognized clash between the Persians and the Greeks becomes something more modern based on type versus anti-type. Persia versus Greece then becomes the clash between the forces of the ‘religious mindset’ as represented first by the Persians and the ‘secular mindset’ (i.e., Greeks). Hence, first, the clash between Persia (represented by the ram) and the Greek (represented by the he-goat), and the subsequent conflict between the Greek (little horn) and the Jews (Prince/ temple) can foreshadow the perpetual struggle between the secular and the religious well until the end. The vision also shows that history from God has an end or goal. The vision intimates that the world will not grow better, but worse. At the end of history when the secular powers grow wicked and profane, an arrogant and anti-God Satan-inspired leader would arise. Instigated by Satan, the Evil Genius will challenge the Prince, overthrowing and trampling the Prince’s sanctuary. The abomination of desolation will pollute (desecrate) the Prince’s temple. After the completion of a set time, the desecrated temple will be cleansed of the abomination of desolation and restored to its former dignity.
  11. Teddy

    Acting Prophecy (Part III)

    Acting Prophecy [Part III] by Teddy L. Desta Paul as an Acting Prophet Paul’s ministry and life as an acting prophet has hardly attracted the notice and recognition of students of the Bible. Such an oversight has its reasons. Scriptural passages dealing with this aspect of Paul’s life and ministry either have been interpreted in isolation to each other, or else were given quite mundane explanations. This study discloses the acting prophetic aspect in Paul's life and ministry. The study shows the vital theological and eschatological implications of Paul's life and ministry as an acting prophet. Paul, perhaps soon after his salvation (and before he left for the seclusion of the deserts of Arabia) he had come to recognize a unique calling on his life from God, He writes: "God wanted to reveal His Son through me that I might preach him among the gentiles." (Gal. 1:16). Here we have to pause and reflect. What does "revealing Christ in me to preach Him to the gentiles" mean? Does that refer to Paul’s preaching and writing ministry, making Jesus known to the Roman world? Does it mean Paul showing Christ-likeness through a life of holiness and endurance in the face of persecution? True. Paul did reveal Christ to the world by all those means. But as to be shown in the following sections, the import of his above quoted words goes beyond word ministry or exemplary life style. Yet, the above quoted words of Paul have deeper implications. As cross-references to other similar passages will show, Paul’s above quoted words have some relation to the ministry of acting prophecy. This is the claim that, Paul was used by God as an acting prophet to manifest (express) in his life/ ministry an aspect of Jesus Christ which must be expressed beyond the written and proclaimed word. This is the argument that what Paul meant by "God wanted to reveal His Son through me that I might preach him among the gentiles" (Gal. 1:16) is also in the form of physicality, in the mode of acting prophecy. Paul’s life (body) could have been used of God to incarnate (flesh out) an aspect of the life of the Messiah to constitute an acting prophecy. Exhibit 1: Paul writes to the Galatians, reminding them when he first appeared before them to preach Christ to them: "…Before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you." (Gal. 3: 1) As commonly interpreted do these words mean that Paul presented Christ crucified in a graphic form? Is he referring to their experiencing where he succeeded in presenting before their mind's eyes Jesus suffering and dying on the cross, moving them to emotions? That is possible, but not likely in what he means as Paul recognized that he lacked the gift of eloquence (2 Cor. 10:10). On the other hand, thinking in terms of acting prophecy will give us a better sense about the meaning of Paul's words to the Galatians. The following words can give us a clue taking us in the direction of acting prophecy. This what Paul reminded the Galatians: “You know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh you despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” (Gal 4: 13-14) Here there is physicality, a possible acting prophecy element. The Galatians can see and sense some physical infirmity in Paul when he appeared among them. The natural reaction on their part, he states, should have been despising and rejecting him. That something in him, then, must have been something which society will not normally tolerate. His words, "received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” could mean two things. The most common interpretation is that the Galatians showed a heaven-inspired tolerance and generosity in accepting him. But it is possible in accepting Paul in that loathsome infirmity is like accepting the despised Messiah of Isaiah 53. To support the second interpretation, there are other places where Paul writes about his infirmity in connection with Christ's suffering. Exhibit 2: Commenting how others perceived his physical appearance and bearing, Paul notes how the Corinthian despised him. He notes about them, where they talk about him, saying, "For his letter, say they are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible" (2 Cor. 10: 10). When Paul writes the following words, he may not only be referring to his physical appearance due to the hardship he endured in his missionary journeys. It may equally has something to do with his physical infirmity. "We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world--right up to this moment." (1 Cor 4:13) Exhibit 3: It is this same idea that Paul also expressed when he wrote about his "thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan given to him to keep him in a humble and weak state." This was the affliction which exposed Paul's life to weakness, reproaches, and persecution (2 Cor. 12: 7-10). Paul must also be referring to this bodily infirmity when he wrote about the mark (i.e., stigmata) of Christ which he said he carried in His body as a "cross" (Gal. 6:17). He called it a brand/ mark of Christ implying as if this ‘mark’ was meant to identify Christ in His suffering, as no other thing would do. It is as if this ‘mark’ fulfills what has been said of the Messiah, and hence its observation as in Paul’s body, was meant to serve as an incontrovertible identifier, a prophetic signature, or marker of the Messiah and his suffering. Regarding the suffering of the Messiah, part of Isaiah’s descriptions reads as the following, ‘He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as root out of a dry ground; he has no majesty nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with sickness (grief); and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed not. Surely he has borne our sicknesses (griefs) and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted…’ (Is. 53:1-4). For example, according to some commentators on the humiliation of the Messiah their remarks are poignant. Keil and Delitzsch in their commentary on Isaiah 53 made the following remarks, - ‘The impression produced by His appearances was rather repulsive, and, to those who measured the great and noble by a merely worldly standard, contemptible.’ - ‘They saw in Him ‘one stricken’ i.e., afflicted with a hateful, shocking disease.’ Barnes in his Notes on the Old Testament contains the following observations on the despising and rejection of the Messiah (Is. 53:3). - The Messiah was regarded as the last of men, that is the most abject and contemptible of mankind (Jerome). He was one who ceases from men, who ceases to belong to the number of men; i.e., the most abject of men (Hengstenberg). - ‘From the sight of his suffering, as it being so offensive that people would turn away in pain – as in the case of a leper; or it might be, that he was so much an object of contempt, and so unlike what they expected that they would hide their faces and turn away in scorn.’ - He was crushed, broken into pieces by calamites and trials, indicating his sever inward and outward sufferings. As the LXX renders it, ‘He was rendered languid,’ or feeble. He was as if crushed to the earth. In short, the unique afflictions, sorrows, disdain, and rejection, which the Messiah carried, was to be mirrored in Paul as an acting prophet (cf. 1 Cor. 4: 9-13; 2 Cor. 4:10-12, 12:6-9; Gal. 3: 1; 4: 12-14, 6:14,17; Phil. 3:8-11, 21; Col. 1:24; 2 Tim. 2:9-11). So when, Paul also writes to believers in Colossi, saying, "I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and make up that which was lacking in the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church." (Col. 1:24), Paul is drawing parallel between his infirmity and Christ’s suffering. For example, writing to the Corinthians, he said, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which we live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4: 10-12). For example, the resurrection and glorification of Christ came out of the depth of his obedience, accepting suffering and humiliation in the meantime (Phil. 2: 6-11). Paul also expresses readiness and willingness to participate in this messianic process, death experience followed by glorification. “That I might know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil. 3: 10-11). This type of life which Paul desires -- in participating in the suffering of Christ and experiencing Christ resurrection power – gets support from Peter’s words: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pet. 4: 12-14) The argument here is that Paul’s level and degree of participating (partaking) in Christ’s suffering is unique. That means Paul did not only preach Christ by word also by manifesting the Messianic sufferings bodily. Paul’s bodily affliction was a ‘revealing of Christ,’ or part of Paul’s ‘fellowship in His suffering,’ or Paul ‘carrying the death of Jesus in his body.’ Paul in his affliction etched out (or, fleshed out) the Messiah. Paul in his humiliation made the prophecy about the messiah's humiliation experiential, manifest for all to see. Therefore, among the churches where he ministered, to see Paul in his sickness was to watch 'in real time’ the shame and rejection of the Messiah as painted in Isaiah 53. That consists of the acting prophecy of the Apostle Paul. In the next section, I will discuss the connection between the Apostle's infirmity and Daniel's end-time prophecy about the abomination of desolation. The abomination of desolation is one of the horrors of Satan in last-days. We will discuss how Paul's "thorn in the flesh" foreshadows this important last-days sign.
  12. Teddy

    Acting Prophecy (Part II)

    Acting Prophecy [Part II] by Teddy L. Desta Acting prophecy in the OT Period Here are a few examples taken from the ministries of selected OT prophets. Exhibit 1: The Prophet Isaiah walked naked and barefooted for three years to prophesy a coming captivity (Is. 20). Exhibit 2: Jeremiah was ordered to buy a piece of property in the land soon to be overtaken by the enemy (Jer. 32: 6-15). God told Jeremiah to remain single for life (16:1-4), to bury his linen belt by the river Euphrates and fetch it after many days (13:1-11), to break an earthen pitcher in front of the people (v. 19), and to wear a yoke on his neck to signal a coming captivity (vv. 27, 28). Exhibit 3: God made Ezekiel dumb for a season (3:22-27). God also made him to lie alternately on his sides on the ground, in full public view, for about a year. Meanwhile, Ezekiel was ordered to eat a famine ration (4:1-17). We read also how Ezekiel carried his baggage as a refugee would do and leave town (12:1-16). Ezekiel lost his wife by a sudden stroke of death (24:15-24). All these happened in Ezekiel’s life by the order of God so that the Jews in exile would know what awaited their compatriots and their temple back home. Exhibit 4: God ordered the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute and ransom her back from her desertions (1:1-9, 3:1-5), in order for God to illustrate His long forbearance with disloyal Israel. Exhibit 5: God directed the prophet Zechariah to break his shepherd sticks, and to put his wage, the 30 units of silver, in the temple (Zech. 11: 7-14). This was to symbolize the yet the future rejection of Jesus, the Great Shepherd and his betrayal for 30 units of money (Matt. 27: 1-10), etc. Hence, serving God in the capacity of acting prophecy exposed the prophet to misunderstanding at best and to open ridicule and vehement persecution at worst. If preaching confronting the nation for its sins needed courage, acting prophecy, on its part, required much more. For Isaiah to walk for three years naked and barefooted, or for Jeremiah to wear a wooden yoke on his neck for weeks, or for Ezekiel to lie in catatonic position for many days, might have made them a laughingstock of their generation. Neighbors might have spoken behind the back of Hosea saying that he was a false prophet who indulged his lust under the cover of the prophetic. Friends might have ridiculed Jeremiah or Paul for remaining single for life. As the above-cited examples show, ministering through acting prophecy could easily prove highly agonizing to the one who is called to such a ministry by God. As it involves the willingness to forgo one’s good standing in the eyes of the community, acting prophecy is tantamount to committing a social suicide. The price of incarnating (i.e., acting out) God’s prophetic message is costly to the soul of the prophet. The act amounts to accepting death to one’s ego or the crucifixion of the self. To paraphrase Jesus in this case, the prophet who ministers to God this way must hate himself and carry his cross on a daily basis (Matt. 10: 38, 16:24). And to quote the Apostle Paul (who is a New Testament acting prophetic), the servant should be willing to be crucified to the world and allow the world to be crucified to him (Gal. 6:14). Acting Prophecy in the New Testament For those who know the Bible well, acting prophecy seem to have been more common in the OT period than it has been in the NT period. The only easily recognizable examples from the NT are the following: Exhibit 1: Jesus ordered the disciples to get him a donkey for Him to ride it into Jerusalem as He came to the city to be crucified. Jesus riding a donkey was a prophetic act. It represented Jesus as a humble King and a Prince of Peace (Zech. 9:9-10; Jn. 12:12-16). Exhibit 2: The prophet Agabus tied his hands and feet with a rope to indicate the imprisonment of Apostle Paul if he continued on his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-12). What the Prophet Agabus did was an act-message from the Holy Spirit to inform Paul what he would face if he insisted going to Jerusalem. Exhibit 3: There is one more NT acting prophecy which has not received any attention in this light. This is the prophetic meaning and importance the "thorn in the flesh" of the Apostle Paul. The rest of the paper focuses on this important acting prophecy aspect of the life of Paul. The study shows how much Paul was not only the greatest missionary-evangelist-theologian, but an unrecognized acting prophet on the model of OT prophets.
  13. Teddy

    Acting Prophecy (Part I)

    ACTING PROPHECY [Part I] by Teddy L. Desta This paper discusses the subject of the much-overlooked subject of acting prophecy. It discusses acting prophecy in the contexts of both the Old and the New New Testaments. In a groundbreaking way, the study presents the Apostle Paul as an example of NT acting prophet. Taking a new look at the Apostle's life and ministry, the study argues Paul's acting prophecy aspect of his ministry carries portent for End Times signs. The Prophetic Prophets are called of God for a two-fold ministry: To forth-tell and foretell. In the first sense, prophets are called to expose and rebuke the sin among the people; to impart knowledge and build up faith; and console and inspire hope (Mic. 3:8; Is. 40:1;1 Cor. 14:3). If the priest was God’s instrument to maintain godly order and ritual in the daily life of the nation, on the other hand the prophet was the national moral barometer. Whenever God saw His people veering off course and abandoning holy covenant, or languishing in a merciless captivity, He sent them a prophet for an answer. As we read in the OT, the forth-telling prophetic ministry is paradoxical. Amid luxury and national success, they diagnose pride and sin, and call for repentance. And during disaster and ruin, in the midst of the darkest hour of defeat, they preach a glorious restoration and hope. In short, serving God in the prophetic office required nothing less than an eagle-sighted insight affirming faith, an extreme moral courage to expose corruption, an unselfish love of people and country, and a unique temperament of long suffering and unlimited sacrifice. In the NT period, God’s message to call people away from a life of sin to holiness in Him extended to all nations beyond the Jews alone. God's call to individuals and nations from sin to holiness, from perdition to salvation, went out by the ministry of the apostles and then by the church body which Jesus has established to be a light and salt in the midst of the earth. The Gospel of Christ in calling people from a life of sin to a life of righteousness is prophetic at its core. The church as the carrier of the Gospel is prophetic. (See Matt. 3:7-10; LK. 13: 1-5; Acts 2:38-40, 16:40-41; Rom. 2:5; Jam. 5:1-5). Prophets, both in the OT and the NT, besides declaring the sins of the people and calling them to repentance, they also reveal the future, disclosing what would happen to individuals, communities, nations, and the earth in some future time. In many cases, God's future-related prophecies are conditional. People can avert God's prophesied judgement through repentance. Similarly, they can lose His promised blessing because of disobedience. (See Jerm 18:8; Is. 2:18) The Prophetic: Mode of Delivery and Risks As prophets are called to deliver God’s message to their generation undiluted, their message has rarely been in the mainstream and hence popular. The prophet’s call is a commitment to God to call sin, "sin", whenever the prophet does this, he runs a risk to his life which could arise from any quarter. The king, the priesthood, or the common people could persecute the prophet feeling confronted or threatened. They choose to silence the prophet by any means instead of abandoning their evil ways. They ridicule, imprison, banish, and even kill the prophet. As the OT and NT show, prophets are not popular. Rather, they are misunderstood; they are outcasts of their generation (Matt. 23:29-30). Prophets have conveyed their messages in three main modes: preaching, writing, and prophetic action. In terms of risk, to write down God’s message can be considered the safest of the three methods. However, the most usual mode of delivery has been that of preaching (proclaiming) the Word of God, which is the most risky to the prophet. As Scripture amply attests, when God’s prophets confront their community or the leadership through preaching, reception has been rarely warm and open. Rather rejection and persecution were the common lot of the prophets (1 Chr. 16:7-10, 18:23-27, 24:20-22, 36:15-16; Is. 50:5-8; Jer. 28:10-11, 29:26-28, 37:11-21, 38:6, 28; Am. 7:10-17; Mk. 6: 16-29). On the other hand, the third mode of delivery that of acting prophecy was a less used and a less known method. It is this less known mode that we will look into in some detail in the following sections. This mode of prophecy draws our attention because it has something to say to us about one important sign associated with the End Times, namely the abomination of desolation. What is Acting Prophecy? On occasions, God told His prophets to carry out a strange action or to enter into a bizarre lifestyle in order to reach the ears and hearts of His people. The intention of such a bizarre act or lifestyle on the part of the acting prophet, therefore, was to arouse puzzlement and questioning on the part of the community to the point where they will be forced to seek meaning and explanation from the prophet. Acting prophecy seemed to be God’s radical way of grabbing the attention of His people. God employed this style of communication for three main purposes. First, to symbolize sin, hence convict people of their sin (Jer. 19). Secondly, to prefigure a coming event, so that the people can avoid judgment (Is. 19; Ezk. 12:1-11). Thirdly, to communicate some hidden spiritual truth (Is. 7: 13-14; Zech. 11:7-14). To preach an unpopular message may require an amount of extraordinary courage and faithful delivery of the words of God. But to obey God in acting (fleshing) out His message, as it involves enacting a bizarre looking act in full public view, it can prove an agonizing decision for the acting prophet. It can surely lead to misunderstanding, rejection, and even persecution. As the following examples show, serving God in the area of acting prophecy, in the OT or NT periods, always required self-denial bordering on the heroic.
  14. Another Look at Daniel Chapter 2 (An outline) By Teddy L. Desta (2008) This paper presents an alternative interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream found in Daniel’s second chapter. The new line of interpretation argues that through t Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, God presents a general outline of political systems that have dominated human history. King Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar — an empire-builder and an absolute ruler — had a dream-vision from God. But when on waking up the next morning, the details of the dream has escaped his memory. Since the dream had left such a strong impression on the king’s mind, he tried to recall the dream, but failed to remember. Believing that his wise men can help him to recall the dream, the king sent for his wise men. He asked them to supply him with the dream and its interpretation. To interpret a dream they could, as it was part of their skill set. Unable to supply his dream, they informed the king that only the gods can help him to recall the dream. The King flew into a rage; he thought they were good for nothing. He gave the order that all wise men in his kingdom should be executed immediately. Since the prophet Daniel and his Jewish friends belonged to the class of wise men, they too were marked for execution. Hearing the King’s decree, Daniel requested for a stay of execution order so that he and his friends could pray to God and bring the King the answer as soon as possible. As Daniel was accorded his request, he and his friends spent the night praying, asking God to reveal the king's dream to them. God answered their prayers. God revealed to Daniel both the King’s dream and its interpretation. The next morning Daniel went in to see the king and recounted to him the full details of the dream and provided him the interpretation. Now we have both King Nebuchadnezzar's dream and the interpretation Daniel gave the king recorded for us in the book of Daniel, Chapter 2. In the understanding or application of Daniel's interpretation there have been quite a strong consensus among Bible scholars. What we read through all Bible commentaries is a similar viewpoint what each of the metallic body parts that constitute Nebuchadnezzar's human image mean. Here I present an alternative understanding of the interpretation Daniel provided the king. The Common Interpretation Bible commentaries in unison interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream the same way. The metallic statute is taken as successive world empires: (i). Gold head: the Babylonian Empire (circa. 606 – 536 BC) (ii). Silver arm and chest: The Medo-Persian Empire (c. 536 – 330 BC) (iii). Brass belly and thigh: The Greek Empire (c. 330- 27 BC) (iv). Iron legs: the Roman Empire (c. 27 BC – 395 AD) (v). Iron and clay feet: The revived Roman Empire destined to rise in the last days. The antichrist will be the ruler of this system. (vi). The Stone: the Messiah and the rise of the Kingdom of God. This line of interpretation, which dominates all Bible commentaries, presents the reader with a simple and clear picture of political history of the world. It covers a long stretch of political history of the world, from the rise of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (c. 600 BC) to the fall of the Roman Empire (395 AD). But after the fall of the 4th empire, the interpretation jumps to the last days (i.e., end-times) the time the Anti-Christ 5th empire is predicted to arise. However, this line of interpretation is problematique as it accepts a long-time gap between the fourth and fifth empires. However, the Bible commentators justify this long time gap based on the prophetic time gap said to exist between the 69th and the 70th weeks of Daniel 9: 24-27. This time gap is said to contain the time lapse between Jesus’s First Coming and His Second Coming. But we have to ask if this “gap theory” is appropriate and applicable to interpreting Daniel 2? If we accept this “time gap” between the 4th and 5th empires, then it means that events of little of prophetic significance would take place between the fall of the Roman Empire (4th kingdom) and the future kingdom of the Antichrist (5th kingdom). But this line of interpretation has one major problem. It leaves out nearly two millennium of human political history, unexplained and unaccounted for. Therefore, it is hard to accept the fact that in a dream-vision that paints the march of world empires would allow little of political-cum-prophetic significance not to take place in a time span which has now lasted for almost 2000 years. The “prophetic time gap” theory essentially leaves out great world empires that have risen on the world stage since the fall of the iron legs regime (i.e., the Roman Empire). These empires include the Byzantium Empire, Arab/Islamic Empire, Ottoman Empire, Spanish Empire, and British Empire. In short, the familiar Bible commentaries in their interpretation of Daniel Chapter 2 ignore equally deserving world dominant powers, excluding even Pax Americana and the former the Soviet Union’s communist empire. Moreover, the “prophetic time gap” theory, if applied to interpreting Daniel Chapter 2, generates tough questions: How can we argue that the Islamic, Ottoman, or British empires have less significance related to the fate of the Holy Land, compared to Neo-Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, and Roman, which all have impacted the polity of the Jews? On what basis can we shunt the latter empires into the “prophetic time gap” as if they have little role in shaping the destiny of the Holy Land? Why is God interested only in the four major empires of antiquity – Neo-Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, and Roman, and He choose to be silent about political empires during what we generally recognize as the Church Age? If we are troubled by the questions posed here, then we find the “gap theory” as an unacceptable application for understanding Daniel Chapter 2. If so, then we should look for a different approach to interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. An Alternative Interpretation The following alternative interpretation sees Nebuchadnezzar’s vision as God’s panoramic view of human political history. According to this new line of interpretation, the dream is a vision that lays out the general contours of the major regime types seen in history, from God’s perspective. This new line of interpretation defends a continuous march of history without any interruption until God’s Kingdom is established in the earth. In short, the new interpretation eliminates the problematique time gap Bible commentators have allowed to emerge between the fourth and fifth empires. The new interpretation takes the multi-metallic statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-vision as an outline of major regime types or governmental forms that have graced political history from the time of antiquity down to our day. The interpretation focuses on decoding the metaphor implied by each body part and the metal that composes the body part. Each body part (with its associated metal) is taken as a representation of a political era (age). The interpretation proceeds in recognizing the nature of each regime type, the transformation from one regime age to the next, and finding examples from secular history that corroborate the recognition. The New Interpretation Let us start by discussing general observations about this dream-vision and how it applies in understanding the march of secular political history. First point: The deteriorating metal quality tells a story about the progress of state power through time. The statue’s metallic imagery implies the decaying quality and strength of central power or the majesty of the ruler. In real political history terms this means that each new phase of human government will present us with a new regime type where the power of the state will be more curtailed. Progressively the common people will start to become more important, creating a more popular government. Second point: God is making a political statement how empires (ultimate form of political power) will continue to decline over time from absolute power to diffuse power. God intimates that as human society progresses towards the end, increasingly the state will lose grip of absolute power, when at the end we notice a weakness and instability in the state system. The Bible does not make clear to us how such loss of power takes place, but only intimates to us only that it takes place.[1] Third point: The Bible also intimates that towards the end of human history, state affairs will deteriorate to such an extent that the states seems to be brittle. That suggests that towards the end the state system will show signs of decay (entailing signs of the breakdown of law-and-order), this happening within nations and across nations. It’s at such a point in human history that God will introduce His world-wide Kingdom. God’s Kingdom will overcome every form of human government it finds standing at the time of its revelation. Metals as Metaphors of Governmental Types As the Daniel in the interpretation part of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream indicate there is meaning in each of the metals and the body parts the metals mark out for distinction. The metals (i.e., gold, silver, brass, iron, and iron-and-clay mixture) as well as the bodily parts (i.e., head, chest-and-arms, belly-and-thigh, legs, and feet-and-toes) serve as political metaphors. These two elements which make the metaphors imply the dominant forms of regime types (i.e., type of governmental authority) as well as progression of world politics until human history culminates in the arrival of the Kingdom of God. The Gold Head Of all the metals constituting the dream statute, gold is superior. So, here we are forced to assume a governmental type which represents the idea of glory and majesty. Because gold has a luster the gold head could represent a ruler or government possessing or depending on charisma and lore. Daniel identifies the gold head with Nebuchadnezzar. You, O king, the king of kings—to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the might, and the glory, into whose hand he has given human beings, wherever they live, the wild animals of the field, and the birds of the air, and whom he has established as ruler over them all—you are the head of gold. (Dan 2: 37-38) By extension, Nebuchadnezzar is a prototype of the absolute king, enjoying full governmental power and the majesty of the office. Antiquity leaders are mainly of this type, whatever the source political power (royal blood, dictatorship, or theocracy), the leader rules by charisma, lore, and fear. The ruler is not accountable to any earthly power, including the people. The absolute ruler is the head of the government and the state. Through him the history and power of the state shines. The Silver Chest and Arms Daniel does not give us much information on the government the silver chest and arms model. He only mentions that as much as silver is inferior to gold, so will be the next empire compared to Nebuchadnezzar’s. "After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours.” (Dan. 2:39) To find out the government type the silver part represents we have to rely on two interpretative helps. First, we should rely on our historical knowledge. We have to scan history to find what general type of government succeeded the absolute rule of antiquity. Second, we have to rely on imagery and metaphor. Here we have to ask what kind of power does the arms and chest suggest in metaphoric manner? In the first case, history shows that the antiquity and classical periods that were famous for their absolute government types gave way to the feudal type of government starting the middle ages. During the middle ages the power of monarchs has been curtailed and their majesty diminished. In that sense, as silver is inferior to gold, feudal kings were inferior to absolute kings. In the second sense, the two arms suggest two ideas. First, arms suggest government that relies on force or war to projects power. Second, the existence of two arms suggest the idea of two major centers of power. The chest as the seat of the heart could in turn suggest the idea of trust and loyalty. Governments during the middle ages easily fulfill these characteristics. Feudal era divided power between the king and the regional lords, and also between the state and the church. The feudal age was characterized by the culture of arms and of war. Knighthood was a way of life. The feudal system rested on fidelity, allegiance, bondage. The feudal system tied peasants to the lord, knights to the lord, and lords to the king, and finally all these to the church by the word of allegiance. It was a system based on devotion of the heart to one’s superior. The Brass Belly and Thighs Here again Daniel is silent about the possible implication of the meaning of the bronze. “Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:39) The only thing Daniel notes about the brass empire is that it will be worldwide in its presence (or influence). This quite limited information from the prophet. It makes us to look at history to find out what type of government, in general, succeeded the feudal era. We have also to check to what extent the metaphor implied by brass applies to this governmental type. First, as much as bronze is inferior to silver, we have to expect the succeeding regime type to have less concentration of power and less majesty in the old-fashioned way. Leaders under this new political dispensation will operate under greater constraint of power and authority. Second, the belly body part implies that this age will rely mainly on emotional ties or appeals to exercise its influence and authority. That means that political leaders in this period will rely less on majesty and lore (like the gold head absolute kings) or on force of arms and fidelity (like the silver arms-and-chest feudal kings). Instead they will draw obedience by either fulfilling the every day needs of the people (focusing on “bread politics” or “voting the pocketbook”) and maintaining relationship with the public through emotional appeals (“moving the bowls” through oratory). Third, the idea of acquiring political power through oratory (“campaigning in poetry”) by moving the emotions of the people is implied in the imagery of the brass. Nearly all musical instruments are made of brass. Hence, we talk of a “brass band.” Fourth, the imagery of the thighs suggests the idea of a long-standing intimacy or relationship that develops between the leaders and the followers. This intimacy is solidified through ideology and political party membership. There is, often, a life time marriage between leaders and followers. Survey of political history reveals that the feudal era gave way to the democratic era. Following the Enlightenment Revolution, many monarchies were transformed into constitutional monarchies or outright republics. Governments were setup through popular elections. The regime type suggested by the brass belly and thighs is likely political democracy which has been widely adopted throughout the world. Politicians operating in a democratic system campaign making appeals, promising better economic future for the country. Citizens often respond by voting their pocketbooks. Politicians in order to win office they must also succeed in making emotional connections with voters. They must be able to move crowds to frenzy with their rousing speeches. The long-term marriage between loyal supporters and their political party is the basis of political power and influence. The Iron Legs As a fourth government type the dream presents a regime that will be noted for its brutality and repression. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron--for iron breaks and smashes everything--and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. (Dan 2:40) The source of political power for this regime is alarming. It will be a regime type that will not be followed out of respect and awe, or out of duty and devotion, or out of expected material gains or ideological commitment. People follow the iron regime out of fear. By the time we get to the iron thigh-and-legs we have come full circle. Both the gold and the iron regime types possess absolute power. However, there is immense difference between the two in terms of their sources of authority. In the first case the throne is legitimized through myth and traditions. In the second case, governmental power is sustained through the unconstrained crushing arm of the state. As we reach the age of the iron regime, government has become unusually strong and repressive. Regimes of this era would accumulate power for the wrong ends. So, we ask does survey of world political history show us any evidence era of democracy followed by the era of repressive dictatorships. The answer is “Yes”. In modern times we have witnessed how liberalism and democracy has been overshadowed by the age of repressive regimes. Dictatorial regimes of various stripes (military, ideological, nationalistic, and religious) have come to power in many countries around the world in the modern era, in the supposed age of liberalism and democracy. Under the age of iron, the individual has become nothing and the State everything. The iron regime era has been a time of personality cult of the state leader, a sort of a self-made Caesar, lifting himself up to a demi-god status, demanding his own worship. Dictatorial or militaristic states started to appear in the modern age at about the turn of the 1900s. Widespread human rights abuses, economic destruction, and war have marked the iron regimes. For example, in the years between the two world wars, iron regimes based on the ideologies of Fascism, Phalangism, Nazism, Communism, and Baathist, etc., came to power in many parts of the world, often overthrowing more representative or benign types of governments. These ideologies become widespread after the end of World War II. For most part of the post-WW II years, a majority of the world population was living in nations led by dictatorial regimes of one kind or another. These regimes which are of recent memory were led by dictators such as Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Franco, Gadaffi, and Saddam, etc. In many places of the world, the era of the iron regime started to phase out beginning the 1980s. The iron regime model (i.e., statism), in particular, suffered its a major defeat when the world’s most powerful totalitarian empire, the Soviet Union, collapsed in 1991. But once the iron regime type started to fade away from the world stage, what type of regime, in general, succeeded it? The Iron-and-Clay Feet and Toes According to the dream, the world did not revert back to the brass age politically once the iron regime age faded away. Instead, it advanced towards the age of an iron-clay mixture regime type. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. (Dan. 2:41-43) Daniel’s interpretation of the iron-and-clay regime type is that it fragments power. In regimes operating under the iron-and-clay model, political power will be weak, because governmental power will be decentralized or diffuse. This is a major step compared to to the statism of the iron regimes which unusually concentrated power in hands of a central state authority. It is as if the highly centralizing iron regimes will implode giving rise to multiple centers of power loosely holding together. Some of the entities will be relatively strong while the other elements will be weak. So, in our survey of world political history we have to ask if in the post-Cold War world (after the collapse of the most famous iron regime, the former Soviet Union), if we have witnessed the decay of central governmental power in many countries around the world. The answer is “Yes”. The post-Cold War period has been noted as the era of ethno-nationalism or “clash of civilizations”. During this era even once powerful nations, such as the Soviet Union, have fragmented into smaller entities, splintering along national and ethnic entities. Highly centralized, authoritarian regimes (many of them communist or militaristic) such as the former USSR, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Libya have fragmented into smaller ethno-linguistic or regional entities. The period has been also noted for its “clash of civilizations.” Armed conflicts have taken place more commonly within countries rather than among countries, as people who used to belong to the same country clashed because of differences in religion, language, or ethnic identity. Identity-based politics have weakened many authoritarian states. The iron-and-clay mixture regime is equally God’s metaphor for failed states which have been common in the post-Cold War era politics. Exactly, as the Divine mind indicated the iron regime type of totalitarian-cum-authoritarian states, in many parts of the world, gave rise to the fragmented or failed system syndrome. The Rolling Stone While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2: 34-35) The dream warns us the iron-and-clay regime marks the end-of-history. Once the era of the iron-and-clay regime ends, God will cause His Kingdom to rise and dominate the world. The stone is of divine origin; it is the metaphor for the Messiah, the chosen of God. The mountain from which the stone arises may be a metaphor of the church. The church will give rise to a power that will crush the human systems of government. The stone regime is the idea of God. It will draw its power to rule from the Divine will, and not from any human will or creativity. It will overcome all its enemies and challengers. It will expand until it covers the earth. It will remain in power forever. The arrival of the stone marks the end-of-history. Glory be to God [1] But the possibility is that rulers become increasingly constrained in their powers because competing centers of power arise within the system, or people’s thinking what government power should be radically changes, etc. These questions and more are the focus of this writing. ============================================================== © TLD, 2017 - 2055. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Teddy L. Desta and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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