Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:17

Is there any time to get anything? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last time, we looked at Matthew 24:16 and I made the case that this verse makes more sense in a localized context. All I am trying to show is that the text fits better in the first-century than it does in the 21st or any other century. (And be assured, so many centuries have thought this text described their time.) Today I am going to argue that more of the same is going on with verse 17.

“Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, “

So if this is about the end of the world and a great cataclysm of that sort, then what point would there be in going back to your house? “Oh my! The world is coming to an end! Let me get my lamp from inside!” (In modern times, we might say iPhone or tablet) It does make sense in the ancient world and in the first century.

In that world, the rooftop was practically another room of the house. People would be there and would see the Romans and would also see them withdrawing. Why not wait? Because you don’t know how long they’ll be gone and you gotta get out of town. You didn’t have a car that you could drive in or an airport to fly out of. You had to hoof it or ride some animal.

Not only that, but there would be several people out in the streets. If this is a Roman invasion going on, everyone is going about doing something. Many Jews would be making military plans and in Jerusalem, there would likely always be traffic to and from the temple.

Jesus is telling people to not wait. Go. Go now. This is the hour that you need to escape. If you stay behind and the Romans catch you, it’s not going to go well for you.

Keep in mind that last time we covered this, I did say that many evangelicals will think that the more cosmic verses have to describe a more, well, cosmic event. I get that. I used to hold the same stance. I can’t anymore and I will explain when I get there. If you’re skeptical though, I hope you can at least see that these verses so far in this little section make the most sense with the kind of interpretation I am giving.

We shall continue next time.

Deeper Waters Podcast 2/29/2020

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Around the time a young man enters middle school, he starts to go through a physiological change where all of a sudden, those girls who had cooties before immediately become super appealing to him. While he looked at them with disdain before, now he looks at them wanting to know them better. Not only that, their bodies are changing at the same time and a man wants to know what exactly lies underneath all those clothes.

Now there are a few ways that a man can find this out, other than checking out a book on anatomy. He can either date the girl and seek to marry her and on the wedding night see what that girl looks like underneath, or he can try to seduce her before marriage, or if he doesn’t care about that girl in particular and any girl will do, he can look at porn.

In the past, porn used to be something hard to look at. You had to sneak down to the magazine rack at the store or else go to that hidden room at the video store. A lot of planning would be required in order to get your fix. Well, that was then and this is now.

The age of the internet has brought about pornography so much so that now we have rule 34. If it exists, there is porn of the internet on it somewhere. Pornography is a click away. You can access a woman’s body from any computer in your home.

Or heck, who needs your home? Just take your tablet or phone and you can do the same thing. Teenagers especially now have an easier time getting porn than they ever did before.

It’s had an effect sadly. It’s hard to find a man whose life has not been damaged by porn use. Women have to suffer it too as they are increasingly pressured to match what the young men see in their pornography videos. Not only that, I suspect the reasons I hear so many commercials for ED and see so many products for it is because men have trained themselves to get aroused at pornography videos.

Some men want to help out and in my travels on the internet, I found some of those men. Keep in mind that in saying all of this, I know porn is becoming an increasing problem for women who watch it as well today. I hope many skills can be transferable, but today, it’s looking at men. One such man who wants to help will be my guest this Saturday. His name is Shane O’Neill

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Shane O’Neill has a graduate degree in apologetics from Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity and He is the Editorial Director for Proven Ministries. Proven Ministries works with organizations, churches, families, and individuals to see a revival of sexual dignity throughout the entire Bride of Christ. 

We are also working on getting the webcam working so hopefully we can go to YouTube live and Facebook live to do these shows. If you struggle with porn or know someone who does, which is incredibly likely, please be listening to this show. Hope to see you then.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:16

Why should we go to the mountains? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re in the Olivet Discourse and for our next verse, we’re asking if this fits better with a first-century milieu or with a more modern one. Keep in mind, the modern outlook is that this fits the end of the world. I have already said the text says end of the age, but I’m going to be assuming some people still have this mindset. Let’s look at the verse.

“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. “

Okay. So let’s start with an obvious question. If the world is coming to an end, who cares if you’re in the mountains? Are mountains somehow immune to the end of the world?

Second, why would only those in Judea flee? Does Jesus just not care for the people in Samaria or for those in His home of Galilee? Does He just not care for the rest of the world? Why is this focused on Judea?

Now, if you look at this as if it is a first-century event, then it makes sense. You flee to the mountains not because the world is coming to an end, but because you need to escape the onslaught on Jerusalem and the temple. It also makes sense about why Samaria and Galilee or anywhere else are not mentioned. That’s not where the battle is.

Yet a question arises. If Rome is already here, how can anyone flee? That’s a good question. The answer is that in the middle of the attack, at one point the Romans did withdraw. It’s still not known why they did, but they did. Christians knew what Jesus said and they followed it. They took to the mountains immediately and ran off. In doing so, they escaped. Had any Jewish person done the same, they would have been safe. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

Keep in mind we are asking about which context fits better. At the start of this section, we are seeing that a local context fits much better. I would hope that even my futurist and dispensationalist readers would be able to look at that and say that here at least to them, they can understand why the local interpretation would be compelling. I can grant when we get to later verses why people think a futurist one is more compelling, such as when we talk about cosmic imagery, but I will argue that that cosmic imagery is not what modern Western people think that it is.

But that is for the future. It will be a little bit before we get there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Final Fantasy IV and Fighting Together

Are we battling alone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Saturday, I was at my men’s group and the leader started talking about finding our own ministry. What can we bring to the cause of Christ that is ours? What are our skills? Immediately, I thought of Final Fantasy IV.

I have played the Final Fantasy games for years. IV is as far as I’m concerned the best one of them all. The story is absolutely gripping and it has tremendous replay value to me. Today when I play Brave Exvius on my phone, I get super excited when I see something coming up from Final Fantasy IV.

So for now, put the men’s group meeting on hold and let’s go with another thought. In this one, my wife has a friend who was going through a hard time and she was wanting to know how to fight alongside him. Prayer is the best way in this case, but it occurred to me that the whole theme was once again fighting together.

Now in most Final Fantasy games, there is a whole party that travels together and so one very rarely fights alone, but I thought that in IV, there is an emphasis on fighting together. I really want to try to do this without spoilers. After all, if someone hasn’t played this awesome game, I want them to play it for themselves and be as amazed by it as I was and am. I honestly sometimes wish I could have a mindwipe of sorts so I could play through the story again and be surprised.

So where are some places where this theme shows up?

One is where the best friend of the main character gets hypnotized. In this, he kidnaps the love interest of the main character for the villain and she’s held hostage. When she’s rescued, he’s broken free of the mind control at that time. He has shame for what he’s done, but the girl has forgiveness and grace and asks that they all fight together, which does happen. When the final battle comes, the best friend is one of the people there.

It happens when one of the party members who vanishes for awhile shows up again out of nowhere and rejoins. Their plea is that they have learned the greater power of evil is at work. It must be confronted together. Once again, the concept of joining forces is there.

It happens even when one of the villains who is what we call an honorable villain, in that he wants the fight to be fair, and this isn’t a trick move. He even heals the party entirely immediately before the fight. After being beaten, he says he now sees that weak people can join forces and be strong.

It happens when at the end, two characters are asked to leave the party for their own safety. Indignant, they walk off the vessel only to show up when the party arrives. Each of them points out their unique contribution to the team and states that they have to fight for their common cause, to which the leader agrees.

I notice the same thing in Christian apologetics. It is a foolish person who thinks he can answer everything. Sometimes people send me questions about science as science, for example, and I always point them to someone else. Yes, people. Just because someone is an apologist doesn’t mean they have an exhaustive knowledge of everything and can answer anything.

Instead, I just join forces with others. I try to know a specialist in most every area that I can refer someone to. Likewise, when someone needs a specialty from me in some area I am skilled in, I am able to give it.

An atheist in a debate group yesterday posted about how his life is and said Christians seem to think they live in some Marvel type universe with events going on all around them. I actually agree with that. In the universe I live in, there is a battle going on between good and evil and I am happy to take my side in the battle. I am also thankful that I am not alone. I am with my friends.

We fight together.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Primal Loss

What do I think about Leila Miller’s book published by LCB Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The kids will be alright if the parents split. Right? I mean, the experts all told us it was for the best for the children. If the parents are happy, the children will be happy. Right?

Those children are now speaking and they are not happy. They are speaking about the damage that the divorce caused them. These are people who even if they have gone on to have functional lives, still carry the scars of divorce with them even into their own marriages and other relationships.

Now let’s be clear on something. This does not mean that divorce is never a sad necessity sometimes or the unforgivable sin. I believe that if there is a marriage where both people want to work for the good of the marriage, then they can work for it and reach it. This can include even in the case of an actual affair. There could still be times of separation that are needed, however, such as in the case of physical or sexual abuse.

Leila has seventy correspondents she has talked to about this matter. Each of them are asked about eight specific topics. They are left anonymous although details about each can be found in the back. No names are given.

The following are the eight topics.

1. Effects of the divorce.
2. Feelings as child vs adult.
3. View of marriage.
4. Are children resilient?
5. Speak to your parents then and now.
6. What society should know.
7. The role of faith in healing.
8. To those facing divorce.

After this, she has stories of hope of people who overcame divorce in their own marriages and are now happily married. Then, she has a section on what the Catholic Church teaches on divorce. The former section contains several short stories and the latter section is just a few pages.

The stories in the book of what the children went through are gripping and painful to read. They need to be read though. They need to be heard. These are people being raw and candid and not writing to impress. They’re not normally going on and on about themselves or being overdramatic. They are expressing the pain they have as a result of the divorce. They are urging people to work on their own marriages.

There are some further steps I would like to see from a book like this.

First off, I understand this is by a Catholic writer reaching Catholics, but I would like to see this work broadened beyond that. I would like to see Protestants and Orthodox included as well as other religions and even secularists. Is the role of divorce in the lives of these other people the same? Will an atheist be hurt by the divorce of their parents?

I also think this will be good for people outside of the Catholic tradition who read the book. Divorce hits all people groups and all people groups need some help with it. I would like to know what people in my Protestant tradition would say to these questions as well as what other people would say in other faiths or no faiths?

Sometimes, I also thought the large number was good, but it could also be good to have a book that would have fewer correspondents, but those would be far more extensive. Perhaps a sit-down style of interview such as could be found in a Lee Strobel book on the topic.

I would also like to know what encouragement would be given to couples who don’t have children and are considering divorce. If the reason given is the kids will be damaged, what happens if kids aren’t involved? What reason is given then?

Still, this is a book that needs to be read. We need to hear about the effects divorce has on a culture. No. The kids are not alright.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Opening Thoughts On God and Play

Does God play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just a couple of nights ago, I went to bed wondering why it is that I, like so many of us out there I am sure, have a tendency to not do things I should be doing and instead spend more time on secondary things. Why is it that so many times God doesn’t seem as enjoyable as other things? Why is it that many of us don’t really think of Bible reading as something done for joy?

We all know we need to be about the work of the kingdom, but we don’t have much about the joy and the fun of the kingdom. If anything, many in our culture view God as a killjoy. This is especially true when it comes to sexual taboos. Some people speculate that a lot of Christians and God Himself live with this great concern that somewhere out there someone might be enjoying themselves.

What if we have it backwards, which I think we do? What if instead of being a killjoy, God is out there trying to optimize the joy that we have? The sexual rules, many of us know, aren’t to hold us back from fun. They’re to preserve a deeper level of joy than would be thought before and to keep us from just using random people for our own enjoyment. We might get some joy out of such an activity, but it is a wrong way to get joy since it treats people like objects.

Chesterton said years ago that God has no problem with what we call the monotonous. The sun rises every morning because God is like a small child who sees it rise and then says, “Do it again!” “Do it again!” “Do it again!” All daisies look alike because God has never got bored with making one of them.

Jesus says in John 5 that He is working and His Father is always working. What if we replaced it with playing? What if part of the reason God does all He does is for joy? After all, there was no need for creation. God was not lacking anything. There was nothing wrong with God or no task He was assigned. Why create? For joy.

What if it is as Lewis said years ago? Our desires are not too strong. They are too weak. We are far too easily pleased. What if we actually hold notions that God doesn’t want us to enjoy our own lives?

This isn’t far-fetched. For my senior sermon when I was in Bible College, I preached on wonder and someone told me about the cover of Moody magazine from a recent issue. “Is It Right To Enjoy My Life?” It’s a sad commentary on Christian culture where such a question has to be asked.

While we are to delight in God, He also gave us other things. Paul tells us in 1 Tim. 6:17 that God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment. This is also talking about material possessions. Nothing wrong with enjoying them. The reason we work also is so we won’t have to work. We look forward to that time of leisure. Play is something that is done just for its own sake.

There is much to play with. Chesterton once said he would answer skeptics on the problem of pain if they would answer on the problem of pleasure. Why does the world have multiple colors? God could have created a world without them easily. We are made to have to eat and drink, but that doesn’t mean food and drink had to taste good. We are made that the species has to reproduce, but that doesn’t mean that reproduction had to be turned into a fun event.

Perhaps we Christians need to be people of more joy. We have earned a reputation of being Puritans with regard to pleasure. (Which is indeed a false notion. The Puritans were really a very fun-loving people.) If anyone is having joy in this life, it should be the Christian. Why aren’t we?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:15

What is the abomination that causes desolation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today we’re going to talk about the abomination of desolation. As per our usual approach, let’s start with the verse.

” So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) “

Obviously, there is some editing here by Matthew as Jesus would not say “Let the reader understand.” Matthew wants you to go to Daniel to understand what’s going on. Before we look at the abomination itself, let’s notice something else in Daniel.

13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.

This is from Daniel 7. Notice that this is about the coming of the Son of Man. The Olivet Discourse is also about the coming of the Son of Man. In both cases, where is the Son of Man coming to? He’s approaching the Ancient of Days. He’s not going down. He’s going up. Keep that in mind as most people read coming and assume coming to Earth, as if the disciples had a concept of Jesus even leaving Earth at the time.

As for the abomination, in Luke 21:20, Jesus connects desolation with another event.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.”

There are many different interpretations of what the abomination could be, not notice that in each case Jesus says the disciples will see it happen. By referring to the holy place, He means the temple. This doesn’t mean every disciple had to see it, but it does fit well with that generation seeing it.

It is often thought by dispensationalists that this will refer to a third temple, but there is no basis in the text for the temple being destroyed and a third temple being built and then the third temple being destroyed. After all, this passage began with the destruction of the temple. Thus far then, if we are looking at the destruction of the temple and seeing when all these events took place, which will come again later, we are looking at a first-century context.

What could fit the abomination? It could be an act of sacrilege that is done in the temple such as by John of Gischala or others. It could refer to the shedding of blood in the temple from humans. After all, at this point, the Romans didn’t care and would go in and kill anyone even in the holy place and the most holy place. Either one would render the temple as further unfit for the purpose that it was built.

Keep in mind, our question is to ask if a first-century fulfillment makes sense. Since we know that temple was destroyed in the first-century, so far, we are on a pretty good track. Dispensationalists have to postulate a third temple which really makes no sense since Jesus was talking about the temple that His disciples saw and not a future temple that they would not have understood at all.

On another positive note, the prophecy is starting to get more specific and we are getting into verses that people think don’t fit a first-century context. I hope at the end readers will see that they do fit such a context. One reason I am an Orthodox Preterist is the text drives me to that understanding.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should Christians Care About Economics?

What difference does economics make to a Christian? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christians are not supposed to be of the world. Right? If so, should we care about economic policy? Should we not be busy with matters of the Kingdom? What difference does it make to us about economic theory?

I say all of this because we are in 2020 and this is a presidential election year and as has been said before, “It’s the economy, stupid.” This is one of the big drives for a vote this year. Some think the economy is doing great. Others have their concerns about it.

Another area of contention that is often had is how to help the poor. A mistake I think made here is to assume that one side does not want to help the poor. I am a highly committed capitalist who does want to help the poor. I don’t doubt my friends who are more socialist want to help the poor. What I doubt is their methodology. They may have good intentions, but good intentions do not necessarily equal good results. Too often, it is not assumed that I have good intentions in promoting capitalism. (Since I count myself among the poor, it’s hard to see what benefits I am getting.)

While we are to be about the Kingdom, we are also to be living in the world that is. It is not the sinful world as if anything in this world is pure evil. We are to seek the welfare of the society that we are in and strive for the best. That includes learning good economics.

My wife had a friend once who asked why it is here in America that there are fewer Black or Hispanic or Asian dolls. Why are they white? The assumption was that this was racist. I said it’s not racism, but it is rather supply and demand. Most people here in America are white and girls who play with dolls assume their children will be the same race as they are. If you went to Africa, black dolls would sell out. In Mexico it would be Hispanic dolls and in China it would be Asian dolls. If we are going to say it’s racism here, then it would have to be anywhere else.

There are plenty of great works on economics that can be read from all perspectives. Some are very capitalist. Some are very socialist. Economic thinking is also really a lot of fun. If you can learn to think well on economics, you can learn how to think better in every other area.

Also, if you truly want to help the poor, you need to find which methods truly do help the poor. The little boy trying to help the butterfly break free earlier by poking a hole in its home might be thinking he is helping, but in reality he is killing the butterfly regardless of his intentions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This election cycle as in all others, it’s always good to be informed. Go get some good books on economics if you want to be. Don’t just go with what you read online or listen to on the radio. Really study some economic theory from some of the greatest minds in economics. Your intentions are not enough. You need a method that produces good results and for that, you need to study economics.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:14

Has the Gospel been preached to the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. So now we’re getting somewhere aren’t we? I mean, the Gospel hasn’t been preached everywhere has it? There are still unreached people groups out there aren’t there? If that’s the case, there’s no way we have a first-century fulfillment is there?

Let’s start with Luke 2. In this passage, a census went out to all the world. Really? They got the census over in China and Australia? The people living here in America had to come and be registered? When we hear about the world in the Gospels, we have to consider the context and many times, it refers to the Roman Empire at the time.

Paul in Colossians 1:23 said that the Gospel had been proclaimed to every creature under Heaven. In Romans 1, he says the whole world has heard about the faith of the Romans. Again, we have to ask if this is something literal or not.

Now some might say that there is a dual fulfillment going on. I plan on getting to that later on. For now, all I have to do is show there is a first-century fulfillment to the text. Let’s also take a little look at what it means of the end shall come.

Again, if we are talking about the end of the world, then it’s quite odd that Jesus still goes on to talk about all these events that will happen after the end of the world. Maybe the end of the world just isn’t that big of a deal. If we’re talking about the coming end of the age, it makes more sense. We will also see as we go through that several predictions do not make sense with an end of the world scenario. They do make sense with a first-century localized scenario.

Some of you will be wondering about how this goes with taking the text literally. That is a concept that is highly misunderstood. Literally does not mean in a wooden sense but rather according to the intent of the author. Jesus is here speaking as if He was an Old Testament prophet. That kind of language was common in the Old Testament prophets.

Next time, we will see what happens in verse 15.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Richard Dawkins on Eugenics

Should you trust a biology professor on eugenics? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Richard Dawkins has a penchant for saying things that aren’t too bright. Now in all fairness, when he writes a book that focuses on science, it’s really quite fascinating reading. I like reading this Dawkins. Even if I don’t agree with him, it’s enjoyable and I see a great love nature in him.

Yet sometimes he steps out of that and that’s when things go wrong. Think The God Delusion. Think Outgrowing God. (Which my ebook response to is coming out soon.) Think The Magic of Reality. In all of these books, there is talk about theology and it’s consistently bad.

Or think about statements he’s made. Dawkins has said he couldn’t condemn the mild pedophilia that he experienced at a boarding school growing up. (Prediction, within a few years, Dawkins will be seen as someone ahead of his time, though still with bigoted viewpoints in thinking pedophilia is harmful at all. There have already been TED talks trying to normalize this awful practice.) He has also said that if a baby is diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring such a child into the world if you have a choice.

So after awhile, you realize that he’s fine when studying zoology, but when he goes outside of that area, disasters happen. Such is the case with a statement he made yesterday on Twitter. Dawkins has decided to talk about eugenics this time.

“It’s one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It’s quite another to conclude that it wouldn’t work in practice. Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn’t it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology.”

I will leave it to the scientists to discuss if eugenics would work on humans or not, but I find this kind of statement disastrous. For one thing, Dawkins overlooks that ideology could be factual just as much. There are moral facts out there. Perhaps it’s a moral fact that one shouldn’t try to farm the human race to breed superior humans and weed out weaker ones and deny them a right to life.

We can also be sure that Dawkins does not see him as one of the humans that would be eliminated with eugenics. Those who advocate eugenics tend to see themselves as the superior ones. It’s the same way I approach the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. If you believe in your cause, lead by example.

Now to be fair, Dawkins does go on to say that he thinks a eugenics policy would be bad and shouldn’t be done, but quite likely most people will not read the follow-up comments unless they are separate tweets themselves, which they are not. That is their fault if they are not, but sadly, Dawkins will still have stuck his foot in in his mouth and people will run with it.

However, whether it would work or not is irrelevant. Why bring it up if it is wrong? I am sure we could come up with a plan of an untraceable murder and it would work, but it should still not be done. It is fine for Dawkins to want to defend science, and really he should, but eugenics is much more an ideology than it is a science. It might be fine to breed dogs or cats or horses a certain way, but humans are different.

It’s important to consider that humans are different and if we agree (And sadly, not all do), then we have to ask what is the basis of this fact? Because we’re smarter or more evolved or something of that sort? Could it be there’s something all humans uniquely share that makes us different? Maybe. Just maybe.

In Christ,
Nick Peters