Book Plunge: Armageddon Part 4

How do you read Revelation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

At the start, this chapter looks promising. Ehrman does give an important consideration on context when reading. As he says:

When you change the context , you change the meaning . That is true of written words as well as spoken . If you read in a science fiction novel that a highly toxic virus has accidentally leaked from a top secret governmental lab and infected the entire water supply of New York City , you’d pretty much know where the story’s going . But if you read it on the front page of the New York Times , you might well get going yourself . The literary context of words is therefore just as important as their historical context . A science fiction novel is not a newspaper article ; a short story is not a haiku ; a limerick is not an epic . Every genre of literature involves an unexpressed contract between the author and her readers . Both writer and reader know the rules of this particular game , understanding what is to be expected and how expectations can be met . If the rules are bent or even virtually twisted out of shape , the reader can at least see what the author is doing and grants her the freedom to do so . Even so , there are limits . You will not find serious biographies of FDR that discuss his peace negotiations with the Martians and you will not find nineteenth – century novels comprised of highly compressed metaphors adjusted according to the requirements of rhyme and meter to fit within fourteen lines.

It’s really difficult to see something to disagree with here. Ehrman rightly says we need the literary and historical context of Revelation. Too many interpreters of the book today read it like it was written for modern times. God left a book and the main audience for the book was apparently not the people it was sent to, but a distant generation thousands of years later.

He does talk about Daniel and says there never was a Babylonian King named Belshazzar. However, he was a historical figure as we now know and could have more been described as a crown prince and perhaps a co-regent, but the best word Daniel could find was king. Now here’s something to consider. Why did Belshazzar offer Daniel the third highest position in the land? Why not #2?

Answer: It was not his to give, unless he wanted to abdicate his position. He was the son of Nabodinus, who was the king at the time and when he was away, Belshazzar would be in charge. Ironically, Belshazzar was such an unimportant figure that his name didn’t show up in later historical writings. After all, he never was the main guy sitting on the throne, and yet he shows up in Daniel. Both of these facts actually argue AGAINST a later date.

He also says it couldn’t have been written at the time of the Babylonian Exile because Aramaic wasn’t being used in Israel. However, Daniel is not writing from Israel. He is writing from Babylon and Aramaic certainly was used in Babylon at the time. Ehrman writes as if all scholarship agrees. By this, he could mean secular scholarship, and perhaps they do, but we should still look at the evidence. Furthermore, where did Daniel come from? Who was this figure that was so prominent that a later author chose to use that name instead of his own?

Ehrman, however, does get something else right in what he says about Revelation and its message:

In broad terms, the “transcendent truths” conveyed by Daniel and John are very similar. The world is a hostile place for the people of God, who are experiencing (at least in the author’s view) intense persecution. In light of their suffering, it may appear that God is not actually in control. But he is. There is evil on the earth now, but God has planned to destroy it and his plan will soon be carried out. In the near future he will obliterate those who are harming his people and exalt his chosen ones, giving them power and dominion over the other nations, forever and ever.

This is the point where a Baptist preacher would say “That’ll preach.”

He goes on to explain an example using the Whore of Babylon. He sees this as Rome, but I disagree. After all, the Beast in Revelation represents Rome in some sense, but the Beast hates the harlot. Why? The harlot has to be someone else that Rome would war against. However, she also has to represent a force that was opposed to Christianity. Now let’s see. Is there anyone in the Old Testament described as a harlot and yet also warred against Christianity in the New Testament times that the readers would know about?

Yep. Israel.

This is the only interpretive point I disagree with him on. I do agree with him that the first beast in Revelation 13 is Nero Caesar. I also agree that the second beast represents cult imperial worship of the emperor.

But as we go forward, there will be much more to disagree with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)



Response To Spiritual Deception in the Highest question 1

Is the KJV the only Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I recently was shown some work from a guy named Robert Breaker who is a KJV-onlyist. He recommended a book that can be found on his web site called “Spiritual Deception in the Highest.” After all, the obvious work of spiritual deception is to get people away from the KJV. (We all know eschatologically the biggest disaster to the devil came in 1611 when for the first time there was actually a Bible.) So if you want to see this work, then you can see it here.

I realize there aren’t as many KJV-onlyists today as there used to be most likely, but they are still out there and either way, this is dealing with issues that many people will still struggle with. I do definitely plan to get back to Life Is A Game, but I figured I could use my skills here to deal with this. Thus, time to look at this work and see the charges that are made.

Bible Question #1: Who was it that saved Shadrach, Messach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace?


Turn to Daniel 3:25. In this verse, Shadrach, Messach and Abednego have been thrown into the fiery furnace. However, they are NOT alone! Another one (a fourth) is there to deliver them !

Let’s start off by looking at this verse in a ‘modern version’. (Notice: the wording in each ‘modern version’ will differ slightly from all the others. But, those small differences, will not materially affect this report).

Suffice it to say that, at the end of Daniel 3:25, a ‘modern’ version has a reading “similar to” the following:

“… and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods …”

“a” son of the ( plural ) gods?! Who is that? What is His name ? Notice how that reading is very vague and “non-descript”.

But, look at this same verse in your King James Bible. The Authorized (KJ) Bible says:

“… and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God“. i.e. Jesus Christ.

It was JESUS CHRIST, THE only begotten Son of God, who delivered Shadrach, Messach and Abednego. Jesus saved them from the fiery furnace; and it’s Jesus who will save you and me from the fiery furnace (i.e. from hell, from the lake of fire ).

The Bible is clear: There is ONLY ONE SAVIOUR: The LORD Jesus Christ, THE Son (capital S) of God (big G). Jesus is the ONLY one who saves from the fiery furnace, NOT “a” son of the (plural) gods (little g). Jesus saved in the past, He does it today, and He will save in the future ! Amen ?

So let’s put this in some context.

The Hebrew word listed here is Ela and is 424 in Strong’s. Now going to BlueLetterBible, let’s see where else this shows up in Daniel.

2:11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.

2:18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

2:19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

2:20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:

2:23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.

2:28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;

2:45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.


Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?


3:15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

I have only covered chapters 2 and 3 here as these terms also show up in 5 and 6 and then stop, though surely it is not because God is not mentioned. It’s interesting that this term only shows up when it is interacting in a pagan environment. Both the Hebrews like Daniel and his friends and the pagans like Nebuchadnezzar use this term. When the Jews use it, it more refers to their God in the singular and when the pagans use it, it refers to the gods in the plural. Sometimes King Nebuchadnezzar will use it to refer to the God of Israel, but only when directly speaking to a Jewish person.

So what is more likely here?

When Nebuchadnezzar is speaking to his fellow pagans, he is not likely to say the Son of God. He is more likely to say a son of the gods, which is the way a pagan would understand matters. Now does this diminish Jesus? Not at all. Assuming that Jesus is the fourth man in the fire, which I have no problem with, this is still painting Jesus as a divine being and a Jewish reader would think that the divine being was a son of God in some sense.

It might be easy for Johnson, the author of the work in question, to paint to a conspiracy, but it’s far more level-headed to just look at the text. The pattern is consistent and rather than seek to impugn someone else, it’s better to just understand why they translate the text a certain way. It might not be as easy, but it is more fitting in Christian character.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: With The Clouds of Heaven

What do I think of James Hamilton Jr.’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

With The Clouds of Heaven

With The Clouds of Heaven is a look at Daniel and the role it plays in the whole of Scripture, which is indeed a major one. I got this book largely because I do have a great interest in eschatology being an orthodox Preterist. So how did it deliver?

I thought Hamilton’s start was excellent at the beginning talking about how we have an assumed background knowledge when we make a statement. This is what we call a high-context society and the social science studies of the NT world are starting to bring this out more. Hamilton uses the example that he started writing this after the Super Bowl in 2013 where the Baltimore Ravens won. No one needs to be told what the Super Bowl is and no one thinks Hamilton is talking about a bunch of birds in Baltimore. Even I who is absolutely clueless on football knows that. Hamilton gives an example of what he said at his church as the pastor (And might I say it’s wonderful to see a scholar being a pastor too). His church does not have Sunday evening services so in the morning he said during announcements:

Warren and Jody are opening their home this evening to all and sundry. Evidently, there’s something happening on television tonight, maybe you know the details, apparently some commercials are going to be aired. If you’d like to watch the proceedings with others from our congregation, you’re welcome to bring a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, or a two-litre to Warren and Jody’s house.

According to Hamilton, when it was said that something was happening on TV that evening, there were smirks and snickers. Nowhere in this do you see the terms “Super Bowl” or “football game”, but everyone understands. I could go further and say nowhere do you see explained what a two-litre is, and yet Hamilton’s audience no doubt understood this term even if a reader unfamiliar with the language would not. Hamilton is also certainly right that many such allusions like he has in the announcements at his church take place in Scripture. A snippet from somewhere can bring to mind a whole passage.

For example, how many of us could be watching a show and hear a saying like “The Prodigal son returns.” When we hear this, we’re supposed to bring to mind the whole of the prodigal son story. None of this needs to be explained. It’s assumed that even if you’re a non-Christian, if you live in a Western culture, you know at least that even if you don’t believe Scripture, what the story of the prodigal son is. You know it’s a story about a wayward son that comes back home.

I appreciate also Hamilton’s insistence that Daniel is rightly in the canon and that a date that is more traditional does matter. I do wish there had been more on this as he compared Daniel with other writings at the time to show that they relied on it and thus it would have been accepted instead of being something new, but it would have also been good to have seen archaeological evidence presented, such as it now looks like Belshazzar was a co-regent and that’s why Daniel was offered the third highest position in the Kingdom. A later writer would not have known this.

The writing on how Daniel is laid out is also very interesting. Hamilton points to several chiasms that take place in the book. It is truly a marvelous work of literature. He also looks at the four kingdoms. I found it interesting on how after Daniel’s explanation of the dream of the statue with the gold head, Nebuchadnezzar makes a whole statue of gold, as if to say that if he is the gold, then he will make sure he is treated like he deserves.

When we get into eschatology, I did not find the stance of Hamilton too clear and what I did find, I do disagree with. I do not think there is anything in Daniel, especially the ninth chapter, about an antichrist figure. I’m convinced that Scripture does not speak of an antichrist person as much as an antichrist attitude. In that, everyone is either for Christ or they are antichrist. It’s interesting that John is the only one who uses the word, and yet nowhere in Revelation do you find anyone described as the antichrist. I in fact think the abomination described in Daniel 9 is that the pure Son of God was crucified in Jerusalem. What happened in the Middle of the week? That was when Stephen was stoned. It’s noteworthy that when that happens, he says he sees the Son of Man (How often is Jesus called the Son of Man outside the Gospels) standing at the right hand of God. Why standing? Hebrews says He sat down. He’s standing because that’s what you do when you judge. Jesus is pronouncing judgment on the Jews who have now killed the first Christian martyr.

This affects how I also read the way Hamilton thinks the rest of the NT interprets Daniel. I do think the section is interesting as it is a contrary viewpoint as far as I’m concerned, but I just don’t find it convincing and I leave it to readers to see the data that Hamilton provides.

If you like to study eschatology, I do think this is an important book to read and there needs to be serious look at Daniel and not just about eschatology, but how it relates to all of us as a whole. While I disagree with a good deal of what Hamilton says, he has done his homework and that is commendable and I do think again, that a church with a pastor who is also a scholar is indeed blessed. If only more of our pastors would strive to be if not scholars, at least be scholarly, we would all be better off.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

%d bloggers like this: