Dean Davis

“I Will Come to You”: An Amillennial Interpretation of John 14:1-3

The amillennial interpretation of this text supplies a truer, richer, and far more comforting meaning than that of our dispensational brothers. The Lord is not speaking here of a pre-tribulation rapture, but of a three-fold coming to his disciples: first at the moment of their new birth, second at the moment of their death, and finally at his Parousia at the end of the age. When the heart of the Bride is troubled, let her meditate on all three, but especially on the eternal union that will be hers at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7).2

This is one of the most comforting eschatological texts in all sacred Scripture. It is also one of the most controversial, since our dispensational brethren claim that here the Lord is speaking of a secret rapture of the Church. Let us therefore look first at the text itself, and then at the dispensational arguments.
An Amillennial View
The disciples are troubled. Jesus has just said that one of them will betray him (John 13:21-30), and that another, their leader, is about to deny him three times (John 13:37-38). Worst of all, he has told them that soon he will go away to his Father, and that they themselves cannot join him (John 13:33, 36). Aware of their fears (and forgetful of his own), he therefore devotes the remainder of the Upper Room Discourse to preparing them for what lies ahead.
He opens with three commands: “Let not your hearts be troubled: Believe in God, believe also in me” (v. 1). The antidote to their fears—and ours—is implicit trust in the character, sovereignty, promises, and salvation of God; and not only of God, but also of his Christ, in whom all of these precious gifts and remedies are found (2 Cor. 1:20).
Next, he makes a very special promise, a promise designed to cheer their hearts and calm their fears:
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. – John 14:2-3
To benefit from these words we must understand Jewish marriage customs, which were very much in Jesus’ mind when he spoke them. Broadly, an ancient Jewish marriage had three components. First came the betrothal. Here the parents of a young man arranged a suitable marriage for their son. This involved the father paying a “bride-price” to her parents, after which the families usually exchanged gifts and drank a cup of wine to seal the marriage covenant. At this point the couple were legally married. Next there came the waiting period. During this time—which could be quite lengthy—the groom prepared a house (or rooms) for his bride, sometimes on his father’s estate. Meanwhile, the bride prepared herself to live and serve with her husband as a skillful keeper of his home. Finally, there came the wedding ceremony. On the night of the marriage the groom and his friends would make their way in a joyful procession to the bride’s house (Matt. 25:1f). When they arrived, she and her maids would join the groom, after which they would typically return to his father’s house for the marriage ceremony, the marriage feast, the consummation of the marriage, and more festivities when the couple emerged from the chuppa, or bridal chamber, to join the party. Henceforth they would live together as husband and wife.
Time would fail us to discuss all the ways in which the Holy Spirit drew upon these ancient customs in order to depict the romance of redemption in Scripture. For our present purposes, however, only one thing is needful: to see that here, in John 14:2-3, Jesus was doing that very thing. He knew that at Calvary the Father would pay the bride-price. He knew that immediately afterwards he himself would return to his Father’s heavenly house to prepare a dwelling-place for his Beloved. And he knew that at the appointed times he would return to receive her to himself, so that she might be with him where he is (Matt. 25:1-13).
Keeping the Didactic New Testament (DNT) in view, let us carefully probe Jesus’ exact words, for they are eschatologically richer than we may think.1
First he says, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places” (v. 2). The reference here is two-fold: not only to heaven above, but also to heaven up ahead: the new heavens and the new earth that he will create at his return. In this two-fold house there are (and will be) many dwelling-places. In other words, in both of these realms God has carefully prepared, or will prepare, not physical shelters, but spiritual niches: spheres of life and service specifically designed for each of his dear children. And there are many such niches, for both the world up above and the world up ahead will be filled with a great multitude whom no man can number, drawn from every nation, people, tribe, and tongue (Rev. 7:9f).
Next, Jesus assures the disciples that “I go to prepare a place for you” (v. 2). Again we have a two-fold meaning. First he goes to prepare a place for the saints in heaven above.
Read More
Related Posts:

Amillennialism: An Eschatology for These Last Days

Amillennialism is indeed an eschatology perfectly suited for these last days. Opening a window onto the one true Consummation, it lets in light from God’s one true future, pouring it into the perplexing present, and filling the souls of the saints with clarity, conviction, joy, and the zeal of Christ himself.

Are we living in the last days?
Yes, I know we are, for the Bible says that we have been ever since the Son of God came into the world to purchase our redemption (Heb. 1:1-2).
But are we living in “the last of the last days”? Are we nearing the final scenes of world history, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Consummation of all things?
Yes, I think we are, and in this essay I want to explain why—and why I also believe that amillennial eschatology alone will adequately prepare us for them.
The Last of the Last Days
For two millennia the Church has encountered what our Lord referred to as the beginning of birth pains (Matt. 24:8). These include wars, rumors of war, famines, earthquakes, pestilence, the deceptive teachings of false christs and false prophets, and the ebb and flow of persecution. All such things are part and parcel of the Great Tribulation, out of which the sovereign God has been faithfully rescuing his beloved children for generations, uniting them by faith with his Son, and planting them safely on the Zion up above, where they eagerly await the glories of the Zion up ahead (John 4:22-24; Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:18-24; Rev. 7).
Today, however, the universal Church is witnessing a notable intensification of the birth pains. Christendom is in collapse. European churches stand largely empty. Whole denominations, rich with Christian history and culture, are now infected with the spirit of the age and slide into compromise and apostasy. Outspoken (and soft-spoken) atheism is on the rise, even in America, a historic citadel of the faith. The Western intelligentsia speaks openly of a “post-Christian” society. As in the days of Noah and Lot, world culture swiftly descends into lawlessness: gratuitous violence, murder, polymorphous sexual immorality, theft, kidnapping, slavery, drug abuse, lying, profanity, greed, fraud, fanaticism, and anarchy. Meanwhile, the persecution of biblically faithful Christians increases. Courts, universities, employers, political parties, and media outlets drive believers to the margins of society. Freedom of religious speech, practice, and assembly is curtailed, if not canceled. While estimates differ widely, all agree that thousands of believers are dying annually for their faith. Day by day the souls of the martyrs flow into heaven, taking their place beneath the altar of God (Rev. 6:10).
But in the midst of all this gloom there is good news as well. Just as God promised, where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. Yes, the true spiritual Church is a little flock, but the glory of the Lord remains upon her. She alone is the one true hope of the world: a city set upon a hill, a light shining in the deep darkness that covers the peoples. Through the global preaching of the gospel, men and women of every nation are coming to the brightness of her light and streaming into the City of God. Amidst the raging storm the Lord is still building his Church (Is. 60 1-3; Matt. 16:18, 24:14; Rom. 5:20).
But are the birth pains really coming to an end? Has a world mysteriously pregnant with eternal life reached transition? Is the day of delivery upon us? Are the Parousia, the Consummation, and the rebirth of the universe now at hand, even at the door (Matt 24:33)?
No and yes. No, because we have not yet witnessed three special signs that our Lord taught us to look for—signs that herald the imminence of the end. But yes, if we pause to consider why they may soon be upon us.
Consider first the Great Commission. The Lord said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt. 24:14). Has the Church reached the whole world with the gospel? No, not yet. According to the Joshua Project, there are currently more than 17,000 people groups in the world, of which about 7,000 remain technically “unreached.” This is over 40% of all people groups, 2.9 billion souls. It is a staggering number, largely representing the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Communists, and animists who inhabit the so-called “10/40 window.”
We must remember, however, that the gap between “reached” and “unreached” has never been smaller; that the pool of potential missionaries has never been larger; that people movements are continually springing up in many lands; and that modern advances in communications technology are bringing the gospel to multitudes, thereby facilitating rapid church growth even in supposedly “closed” nations. Yes, much work remains to be done, and many pioneer missionaries are needed to do it. Nevertheless, it is not wishful thinking to say that today’s Church is powerfully “hastening” the coming of the Lord, and that the completion of the Great Commission is near (2 Peter 3:12). Says the Joshua Project, “We are within range of penetrating every people group on the planet with the light of the gospel, and with more momentum than ever before in history.”1
Secondly, it is also true that we have not yet seen the large-scale conversion of God’s ancient covenant people, ethnic Israel—a blessed hope which I believe is indeed promised in Scripture (Rom. 11). However, the stage is certainly set for it. Globally, anti-Semitism is on the rise. Many of the sons of Jacob have returned to their former homeland, a staggering feat of providence that can hardly be without redemptive significance. Ethnic Israel’s spiritual wealth is inversely proportional to their material: From Christ’s perspective, they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked—and deeply loved (Rom. 11:28; Rev. 3:17). Even now there is a great famine in their land, such that one day soon—perhaps amidst the birth pains of persecution and war—multitudes of Jews will finally cry out to God’s greater Joseph: first for forgiveness, and then for food, drink, and the perfect safety of a far better homeland where righteousness dwells (Gen. 45:1-28; 2 Peter 1:13).2
Finally, it is also true that the Man of Lawlessness has not yet been revealed, and that the Last Battle and the greatest tribulation have not yet begun (Matt. 24:9-28, 2 Thess. 2:3-12; Rev. 11:7-10, 13:6-10, 16:12-16, 19:17-21, 20:7-10). As never before, however, there are signs that the final clash of the kingdoms is drawing near. I have just cited rapidly increasing lawlessness, apostasy, and persecution, all of which may well herald, or even presently fulfill, the “rebellion” of which Christ, the apostle Paul, and the Revelator all spoke (Matt. 24:4-28; 2 Thess. 2:1ff; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Rev. 9:20-21, 16:8-11).
Alongside these we also observe a fresh upsurge of the Babylonian tendency in world history (Gen. 11:1-9; Dan. 7; Rev. 13, 18). Guided as if by an invisible hand, an emerging network of powerful elites—corporate, governmental, bureaucratic, military, scientific, educational, journalistic, and technocratic—militates against democratic and nationalist impulses, working instead toward a Great Reset of human nature and society. What’s more, recent history has shown that by means of powerful propaganda this network is quite capable of manipulating huge swaths of humanity toward their chosen ends. Though God’s prophetic word indicates that their path to a global utopia will be strewn with the thorns of war (Dan. 11:36-12:13; Rev. 17:16), it is nevertheless clear that the unthinkable has now become thinkable: A final world empire, ruled by a final world tyrant holding the family of nations in a twofold iron grip: the hope of heaven on earth, and the fear of annihilation for those unwilling to comply. Happily, the gospel continues to go forth with good success to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, so that new churches are springing up in their midst. Yet even as it does, a world-system given over to idolatry—and drunk with pride, wealth, sensuality, and the lust for power—grows increasingly hardened. Like Egypt of old, at any moment it could turn en masse against God’s eschatological Israel, thinking to pursue her to the death through a Red Sea of religious cleansing.
Amillennialism: Scripture’s One True Eschatology
Yes, the Church may well be entering the last of the last days.3 But if so, it’s more important than ever that she be anchored to the Bible’s one true eschatology. My conviction, defended from Scripture in two books and several essays, is that this high honor rightly belongs the amillennialism, the classic eschatology of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant communions.
Read More
Related Posts:

An Alien Gospel: What are Christians to Make of UFO’s?

We live in turbulent times. We have come to expect the unexpected, even the bizzare. The Internet woos us with reports of UFO sightings and alien abductions. NASA and SETI continue to probe the heavens for signs of intelligent life. Offerings from Hollywood focus mankind’s hopes on space travel, cosmic demigods, and visitations from above. But wise Christians, grounded in biblical cosmology, will not be taken in. 

“For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show great signs and wondersso as to deceive, if it were possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”(Mt. 24:24)
Most Christians are familiar with these words, and most do indeed watch for false prophets. But their focus is limited: They are on the alert for human false prophets rising up out of the earth (Rev. 13:11f).
But in these dangerous last days, here’s a question well worth asking: Could it be that some of those false prophets will be evil spirits coming down from the sky, masquerading as highly evolved extra-terrestrials who are not out to blast us, but to “bless” us with their redemptive wisdom from the starry deeps?
Well, if you know anything about the great red dragon, whose tail sweeps stars down to the earth—and who is styled as the deceiver of the whole world—you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) put it past him (Rev. 12:4, 9).
And yet, many Christians are double-minded on this subject. They ask, almost rhetorically, “Who’s to say that extra-terrestrials don’t exist? Surely in a universe as big as ours there must be other intelligent life forms out there! Isn’t it a bit arrogant to think that we, and we alone, are ‘the ones’”?
Those are good questions, questions I myself have asked. But in devoting a couple of years to the study of biblical cosmology, I was stunned to learn something of great interest, and—in credulous times such as ours—of great practical importance: I learned that, Yes, we really are “the ones”!
Very briefly, let me make that case.
What Shape is Your Cosmos?
Did you know that prior to the sixteenth century no one in the Western world believed in aliens? In part, that’s because no one believed in the Big Bang or cosmic evolution. But in larger part, it was because no one believed that space was infinite or centerless or curved; no one believed it was shaped like a saddle, a hyper-cube, or a multi-dimensional toroid. (Not to worry, modern cosmologists who dream of these “high things” can’t even imagine them themselves, 2 Cor. 10:5). Instead, they believed that God, in six literal days, created the universe as a great but finite sphere, revolving around a stationary earth that served as home for the apple of his eye: us! And where did folks get such an outlandishly man-centered idea? You guessed it: from the Bible (plus like affirmations from Aristotle and other ancients).
Now, please consider the following historical fact carefully: Belief in aliens came in when belief in biblical geocentrism went out. It came in when Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and all their followers demoted the earth from the place of cosmic centrality bestowed upon it by the Word of God. Interestingly, the first scientist to let the alien genie out of the cosmological bottle was Johannes Kepler, who speculated about the inhabitants of the moon in a book aptly called Dream. Four hundred years later, the dreamers at NASA and the SETI program are still at it!
If, then, we truly desire to understand the Bible’s verdict on the question of extra-terrestrials, we shall first have to re-examine its testimony about the purpose and structure of the universe. And as unpalatable as it may be to modern man, that testimony is actually quite clear, compelling, and (to my mind) comforting.
Read More
Related Posts:

The Message of The Consummation: Christ, The True Center

Who or what is your center? To whom or what are you devoting your life’s time, talent, treasure, and energies as you journey through this world toward the hour of your death or the day of my Son’s return? Have you considered him: his life, his miracles, his teachings, his death, his resurrection, his exaltation, his people, and his book? Is he not, far and away, the world’s best candidate for every man’s true center? Will you not therefore turn aside and see this great sight (Ex. 3:3)?

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will wail and mourn and beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a loud blast of the trumpet; and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the skies8 to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31).
These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken to his disciples shortly before his death on the cross. In them he promises that he will one day come again to the earth in order effect what theologians refer to as the Consummation of all things. At that time Christ will raise the dead, transform the living saints, judge the world in righteousness, and create new heavens and a new earth, the eternal home of the redeemed.
In the paragraphs ahead I want to highlight the central elements of Christ’s return as they are reflected in his words to the disciples. And then I want to ask a two-fold question: Why has God structured the Consummation this way, and what are we, who continue to make our journey through this life, meant to learn from it?
First, there is a darkening. God literally extinguishes the sun, moon, and stars. The result is thick darkness, the kind that engulfed the earth-in-the-deep at the dawn of creation, and a kind that will recall the spiritual darkness that engulfed all mankind through the fall of Adam (Gen. 1:1-5; Col. 1:13). But as it was in the beginning, so here: The darkness sets the stage for the appearing of light: the Light of the World, the One who will now separate all light from all darkness forever. In that day sinners will recoil from the Light, but the saints will declare that it is exceedingly good (Gen. 1:1-5; Eccl. 11:7; 2 Cor. 4:6).
Secondly, there is an appearing: above all of the Son of Man, but also of the sign, the power, and the glory that will accompany him. Because of the one Resurrection, every eye will see him (Rev. 1:7). But with the seeing of the eye, there will also be a seeing with the mind. In his Light, all will see light (Ps. 36:9). The spiritual truth that was previously made known to men and nations through creation, conscience, Christ, Scripture, and the proclamation of the Gospel will now appear: palpably, powerfully, and inescapably (Josh. 4:23-24; Is. 45:20-25; Gal. 6:16; Eph. 3:4-6; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:15).
Thirdly, there will be mourning. It will emanate from all who previously suppressed the knowledge of the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Yes, there will mourning over the loss of the things they worshiped in life, over the final collapse of the City of Man (Rev. 18). But far more dreadfully, there will be mourning over the loss of their eternal souls (Mark 8:36). Scripture itself anticipates their lament: “If only I had sought the Lord when he could be found; if only I had called on him when he was near; if only I had believed and obeyed the light by which God tested my love of the truth. For now the door is shut, and the thing that I feared has come upon me” (Job 3:25-26; Is. 55:6; Prov. 3:20-33; Matt. 25:10; John 1:9; 3:16-21; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 1:18-19; 2 Thess. 1:8; Rev. 1:7; 18:1-24).
Fourthly, there will be gathering—a gathering of his elect, a gathering of his enemies, and so a gathering of all nations (Matt. 13:30, 24:31, 25:32; Luke 19:27). It is a gathering unto judgment: unto eternal reward and eternal retribution (Matt. 25:31-46). But above all, it is a gathering unto truth: the truth about what each human being did with the light he was given during the days of his pilgrimage upon the earth (Luke 12:47; John 3:16-21; Rom. 2:1-16).
Finally, there will be centering. At the Parousia the luminaries above will be dissolved, and the earth below will be consumed in fire (Is. 34:4; Zech. 14:6; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 20:11). And then the true Center will be revealed: the High King of Heaven, seated on his glorious throne, with all men and all angels gathered before him, awaiting the final disposition of all things. Thus shall all mankind realize that the One now enthroned at the center of the physical universe is the One who has always been enthroned at the center of his Father’s affection, purpose, plan, and work. Thus shall all mankind behold the Son of God for who he is, and for what God appointed him to be: the Alpha and the Omega: the divine Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Ruler, Judge, Re-creator, Light and Life of the world.
Do we understand why God has structured the Parousia this way? And do we understand why he has told us all these things ahead of time?
Yes, in so speaking he means to instruct, equip, warn, and encourage his believing people, thereby strengthening faith, inculcating diligence, and instilling hope. But beyond this, he also means to address the unbelieving world: all people who are not yet his people. By structuring the Parousia as he has, and by revealing its structure in his Word and through his Church, he is asking beloved sinners everywhere these all-important questions:
“Who or what is your center? To whom or what are you devoting your life’s time, talent, treasure, and energies as you journey through this world toward the hour of your death or the day of my Son’s return? Have you considered him: his life, his miracles, his teachings, his death, his resurrection, his exaltation, his people, and his book? Is he not, far and away, the world’s best candidate for every man’s true center? Will you not therefore turn aside and see this great sight (Ex. 3:3)? Will you not earnestly inquire as to who he is and why he came? And will you not keep on asking, seeking, and knocking until you have found out for sure (Matt. 7:7-8)?
“Beloved sojourners, I tell you the truth: When the High King of Heaven comes again he will indeed be the absolute center of all things. And no tongue or pen will be able to describe the joy of those pilgrims who sought and found the Truth, and then made him the absolute center of their lives” (John 14:6; Jude 1:24).
Dean Davis lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., and is the Director of Come Let Us Reason.
Related Posts:

The Heart of Biblical Cosmology

The Father has the Son in his heart, and he has chosen to place the Son at the heart of his plan for the entire universe. In other words, biblical cosmology is really a love story, a story of God diligently seeking to exalt his dear Son by making him the glorious and beloved creator, sustainer, redeemer, ruler, judge, and re-creator of all things.

. . . that all should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.(John 5:23)
Cosmology is the study of the origin, structure, purpose, and destiny of our universe. Now that’s a topic to wrap your head around!
I’m guessing that most folks today doubt we can ever be sure about such lofty and complex matters. But here’s a thought to consider: Doesn’t the very fact that we’re able to ponder these questions imply that our minds were actually created to find the answers? Cosmological skeptics may moan and groan, but surely it is not without significance that nearly all of us remain incurably curious about cosmology!
Could it be, then, that we we were meant to behold and enjoy the one true cosmology—and that any religion or philosophy that hopes to win the allegiance of thoughtful people must offer us one?
No doubt. But if that cosmology is to prevail in the war of the worldviews, it will have to be a good one: clear, comprehensive, logical, well-supported by good evidence, and full of hope for a suffering humanity that knows there’s a Supreme Being, but is having difficulty discovering his truth about the world he created.
Having studied naturalistic, pantheistic, and theistic cosmologies for many years, I have concluded that biblical cosmology meets all these criteria, and that it does so far better than any other contestant in the ring. Indeed, I’m  convinced that here we reach the spiritual and philosophical home our hearts were made for.
Yes, its teachings run hard against the grain of  the cosmological “wisdom” of modern man. And yes, because of this, many Christians are reluctant to study, formulate, embrace, and defend a deeply biblical cosmology.
However, such cosmological conflict should not surprise or demoralize intellectually hungry believers. Has not God said that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to him, and that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men? In such a world, does it make sense for the lovers of truth to let the majority rule?!
If, then, Christians would only dig a little deeper into these matters, and let the Spirit of Truth perform His wonderful work of illumination, I believe they would find, to their amazement and joy, that in his Word God  really has graciously granted us the full spectrum of cosmological truth for which we, by our very nature as creatures in his image an likeness, are ever hungering!
In this post I’d like to tackle first things first by looking at the heart of Biblical Cosmology: the One who dwells in the heart of God the Father, and whom the Father has placed at the heart of all things: the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christ-Centered Cosmology of the New Testament
In order to understand the full-blown apostolic cosmology—which caps and completes biblical cosmology as a whole—we must begin at the beginning: the glory of God.
As we know from many passages in Scripture, one of God’s great purposes in creation was that the universe should be a theater for the display and enhancement of his glory. Even a cursory look at the apostles writings reveals that they fully understood, embraced, and proclaimed this sublime truth.
Thus, in a doxology that appears in his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul writes, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36)!
Clearly, the expression “all things” is comprehensive, taking in the universe as a whole, and viewed from every conceivable angle: its framework, furniture, inhabitants, and entire history. By divine decree, all are meant to redound to the glory of God (Eph. 3:21, Phil. 4:20, 1 Peter 4:11, 2 Peter 3:18, Jude 25, Rev. 5:13, 7:12).
While this theme does indeed pervade the Old Testament (see Ex. 14:4, Psalms 19:1f,  Isaiah 24:15-16, 66:18f), the New Testament takes it to an entirely new level, opening it up like a flower in full bloom.
With Jesus leading the way, his apostles henceforth spoke of the glory of God in terms of the tri-unity of God. In particular, they revealed that it belongs essentially to the very nature and activity of the triune God that each of the three Persons should seek the glory and honor of the other.
Scriptural evidence for this amazing tendency abounds. Jesus said that the Father loves the Son, and has bestowed upon him any number of divine prerogatives “…so that all should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).
Similarly, concerning his own life and ministry, he said, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (John 7:18, 17:1).
As for the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus taught that, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14; Matt. 12:32).
These few citations supply but a tiny glimpse into a pervasive NT motif: In all their work before men and angels in the great theater of the cosmos, each Person of the Holy Trinity seeks the pleasure, glory, and honor of the others (Matt. 12:32, John 5:19-23, 8:29, 14:31, 16:13-15, Phil. 2:1-11). Through the active, mutual, other-oriented love of each member of “the Holy Family,” God is ever seeking the glory of God!
Christ, the Firstborn Over All
Keeping these ideas in mind, let us turn now to the theme at hand: the Christ-centered cosmology of the NT. We will begin by looking at two passages of great cosmological importance.
The first is found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Seeking to clarify for them the nature and work of Christ, he writes:
He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17).
Clearly, the primary thrust of this rich text is to exalt the deity of Christ, which Paul accomplishes simply by enumerating some of his divine prerogatives. To this end he identifies Christ as “the image of the invisible God,”the one in whom we finite humans can best behold the glorious face of the infinite and invisible Father (John 14:9, 2 Cor. 4:6).
Similarly, he identifies Christ, along with the Father, as the eternal Creator, through whom not only the heavens and the Earth, but also the angelic hosts, were made (John 1:1-3, 1 Cor. 8:6).
Finally, he identifies Christ as the cosmic Sustainer; the one who holds all things together in their appointed form and structure, and the one who also guides them to their appointed ends (Heb. 1:1f, Rev. 6:1f).
We must, however, take special note of a subtle yet central aspect of Paul’s teaching here. Almost as if in passing, he states that God not only created the universe through Christ, but also for Christ. What might this cryptic remark mean?
In part, Paul has already supplied the answer, having identified God’s Son as “the first-born over (literally, “of”) all creation.” As commentators have often pointed out, this expression cannot mean that the pre-incarnate Son was the Father’s first creation, for the context itself (along with many other NT passages) declares that the Son existed before all things, and that all things were created through him. Such things would include, of course, the angels, with whom some of the Colossians were apparently confusing Christ.
Read More
Related Posts:

The First Works

Here is good news: The Lord is committed to guarding the rose. He has given us a new heart, a holy heart; and he has told us that he will watch over it with all of his heart. He has sealed it for himself. He has said, “I am a jealous God.” The triune God of the Bible has sworn: Though dark, secret loves beckon and entice my children and my Bride, they will not prevail.

But I have this against you: You have left your first love.So then: Remember the place from which you have fallen,and repent and do the first works.(Revelation 2:3-4)
This word arrived as a gut punch to the Ephesians. It can do the same when we read it today.
Before it hit, the Lord was all commendation, praising these busy Christians for their toil, endurance, and holy intolerance of evil. After it hit, he did the same, lauding them for their hatred of the lawless works of the Nicolaitans. But in between there came a stern and urgent reproof, flashing like dark lightning against a deep blue sky. What can account for it?
When I asked myself this question, a memorable poem by William Blake came to mind:
O Rose, thou are sick.The invisible wormThat flies in the night,In the howling storm,Hath found out thy bedOf crimson joy:And his dark secret loveDoth thy life destroy.
When people looked at the Ephesian rose, all seemed well. These believers were abounding in the work of the Lord. What’s more, to judge from the King’s commendations, they were doing their works in the Spirit and power of the Lord. This should give us pause: Though the Lord may be granting us fruitful labors, it also may be that a dark and dangerous love has begun to creep, worm-like, into our bed of crimson joy: into the life of love that was purchased for the Bride of Christ by his blood.
But what exactly was the nature of that invisible worm? And how was it enticing the Ephesians to leave their first love?
Perhaps we find our answers in a story about Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38ff). The Lord had come to town. Martha invited him into her home for dinner. Her sister Mary sat herself at the Lord’s feet, listening to his words. But Martha was distracted with her many preparations.
What’s more, she was angry. With an unholy boldness that shocks the reader, it is written that she came up to the Son of God himself and said, ““Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Tell her to help me!” But the Lord, wise and gentle, answered with firmness: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is truly necessary. I’m saying this because Mary has chosen the best part, and it will not be taken from her.” 
Is this how it was with the Ephesians? Yes, their service was partly in the Spirit; but was it also partly in the flesh? Was it partly motivated by a sincere love for the Lord, but also by some “dark, secret love” that was creeping into the sacred space?
Read More
Related Posts:

John 3:16: A Pearl of Great Price

God is love. Throughout all eternity the three divine Persons have known and delighted in one another, living together as a Holy Family bound in perfect love. But the love of the triune God is also focused on his creation, and in particular on us human beings, creatures uniquely fashioned in his own image and likeness, and who therefore have the ability to know and love God. In our text Christ is telling us that God the Father has gone to extraordinary lengths to make this precious ability ours once again.

Christian or not, every student of history knows that the Bible’s majestic story of creation, fall, and redemption through Christ turned the Roman Empire upside down, laid the foundation for Western Civilization, and even today is transforming people and nations all over the world.
But here is something you may not have known: John 3:16—the most famous verse in the Bible—contains the whole message of the whole book in a nutshell. It’s like a beautiful pearl tucked deep inside a giant clam or oyster. Here, Jesus Christ himself gives us the heart, the core, the very essence of the Word of God.
So then: For folks who may be new to the Bible, here are a few thoughts designed to open up the rich meaning of this pearl of great price.
GOD: This is the Supreme Being whom we encounter in nature, conscience, and the sacred scriptures of the Jewish people, through whose holy prophets he was pleased to reveal far more than nature or conscience ever could. In these scriptures we learn that there is one God—the creator, possessor, sustainer, and ruler of the universe—eternally existing in three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here in John 3:16 Christ is specifically referring to God the Father: He who gave God the Son to the world.
SO LOVED: God is love. Throughout all eternity the three divine Persons have known and delighted in one another, living together as a Holy Family bound in perfect love. But the love of the triune God is also focused on his creation, and in particular on us human beings, creatures uniquely fashioned in his own image and likeness, and who therefore have the ability to know and love God. In our text Christ is telling us that God the Father has gone to extraordinary lengths to make this precious ability ours once again.
THE WORLD: The reference here is primarily to the family of man that God, in the beginning, created to rule with him over the earth, and to journey with him down the long corridor of history. The human father of this family was the man Adam. In the Garden of Eden God tested him, to see if he would love and honor his creator by believing and obeying his word. It was a test of great consequence, since, by God’s wise decree, Adam stood in Eden as the head and representative of both man and nature. Alas, it was a test that Adam failed, with the result that evil, suffering, and death invaded the very good world that God had made. In particular, because of Adam’s plunge into sin, all of his children would henceforth be born in a state of sin: alienated from the life of God, centered on self, driven by dark passions, hostile to God, and disobedient to God in thought, word, and deed. What’s more, because of their sin, many of those children stood—and now stand—beneath God’s righteous anger, and are in danger of eternal punishment. Yet despite the depth of its sin, God still loves this family, just as he did its father, Adam. Indeed, his love is so deep . . .
THAT HE GAVE: It is God’s nature to depend on nothing; it is man’s nature to depend on God. It is God’s nature (and joy) to give to man; it is man’s nature (and joy) to receive from God. As the Bible teaches, God is the One who gives life, breath, and all things to his beloved creations. Here in John 3:16 Christ is speaking of a very special gift. Indeed, he is speaking of the Father’s supreme gift to the sinful family of man: his uniquely begotten Son.
HIS UNIQUELY BEGOTTEN SON: Throughout all eternity the divine Father uniquely begets the divine Son whom he loves. The Son is “God himself from God himself.” With a view to saving sinners from eternal punishment; with a view to begetting them afresh as his own dear children; and with a view to uniting them forever with the Holy Trinity, the Father, in an act of supreme love, gave his Son to the world in the form of the God-Man: the Lord Jesus Christ. Through his incarnation the Son entered the world as a last and better Adam: as the head and representative of the eternal family that God is now creating.
Read More
Related Posts:

What is the First Resurrection of Revelation 20? An Amillennial Reply

Amillennarians believe that Revelation 20:4-6 gives us a final biblical depiction of the Intermediate State. At the moment of their death the spirits of the saints who have persevered in the faith enter Heaven, where they come to the fullness and perfection of eternal life. The Holy Spirit identifies this special coming to life as “the first resurrection” because it is analogous to, and guarantees, a second resurrection (of the body) at the Lord’s return at the end of the age. Herein lies a great a hope for all Christians, a hope that will encourage and enable them to persevere in their difficult pilgrimage through the wilderness of this present world.

     4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat upon them; and authority to judge had been given to them. And I saw the souls of those who were beheaded because of their testimony concerning Jesus, and because of the word of God. And I saw those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead or on their hand. And they all came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years had come to an end.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection: Over these the second death holds no sway, but they will be priests of God and of Christ; and they will reign with him (throughout) the 1,000 years. — Revelation 20:4-6
BY AND LARGE, amillennial interpreters agree that in Revelation 20 the Holy Spirit, for a sixth and final time, has used Old and New Testament imagery to symbolize the Era of Gospel Proclamation: the bloc of time between Christ’s first and second advents.
Accordingly, this chapter also speaks of certain key eschatological events that will occur in that era. In particular, the first of its four sections speaks of the binding and imprisonment of Satan at the beginning of the 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-3). The second speaks of the First Resurrection and the blessings of those who reign with Christ throughout the 1,000 years. Correspondingly, it also speaks of the Second Death of persons who did not attain the First Resurrection or the millennial reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4-6). The third section speaks of the Last Battle and the judgment of Satan, set to occur at the end of the 1,000 years (Rev. 20:7-10). The fourth and final section speaks of the Judgment of all mankind at the Great White Throne, which also occurs at the end of the 1,000 years (Rev. 20:11-15).
In this essay I want to focus on the second section of Revelation 20, found in verses 4-6. Of the four, this is certainly the most difficult and controversial, and therefore merits special consideration. I will begin by offering my own amillennial interpretation, after which I will interact with premillennial views and defend mine at greater length.
An Amillennial Interpretation of Revelation 20:4-6
John has opened the chapter by giving us a revelation of the binding and imprisonment of Satan, both of which will last for 1000 years. Here the Spirit is using the number 1000 symbolically: it is a sign, signifying the entire era of Gospel Proclamation (Rev. 1:1). This era began when Jesus Christ—through his atoning death, resurrection, session, and ensuing heavenly reign—bound (i.e., restrained) Satan from deceiving the nations any longer (John 12, 2 Thess. 2, Rev. 12). Henceforth, Satan can no longer deceive God’s worldwide elect in such a way as to keep them in his thrall, and prevent them from coming to Christ. Similarly, he cannot (yet) deceive the multitude of unregenerate persons in such a way as to gather them together for the Last Battle against Christ and the Church (Rev. 20:7-10). Here we are told that this era will last a long time (1000), but only long enough for the triune God (3) to complete (10) the ingathering of his people (10 x 10 x 10). Once that is accomplished, the end will come (Matt. 24:14).
Having opened the chapter in this way, the Holy Spirit now addresses a question that will naturally arise in the minds of every believer. One thousand years speaks of a long time. What will happen to the saints who die during that season? Our text supplies the answer. The amillennial interpretation is as follows:
Those whom John sees seated on thrones are souls: the souls of the saints who remained faithful to Christ throughout their portion of the Era of Proclamation, died, and entered Heaven (v. 4). In partial fulfillment of Daniel 7:9, at the moment of their death authority to judge was given to them; that is, God authorized them to participate with Christ in the Judgment (v. 4).
Some of these saints died as martyrs, but all were loyal to the Word of God (v. 4). All refused to worship the Beast (i.e., the self-deifying, anti-Christian State); all refused to worship the image of the Beast (i.e., to participate in the religious cultus of the anti-Christian State) (v. 4); and all refused to take the mark of the Beast upon their forehead or their hand (i.e., to identify themselves, in thought and deed, as loyal followers of the Beast).
As a result of their covenant loyalty to the Lord, these saints “came to life and reigned with Christ during the 1,000 years” (v. 4). That is, at the moment of their death God raised their souls to spiritual perfection for life in Heaven with Christ throughout the (remainder of the) Intermediate State. The Holy Spirit identifies this spiritual coming to life as “the first resurrection”. Later on, at the end of the 1,000 years, this spiritual coming to life will be followed by a physical coming to life; the first (spiritual) resurrection will be consummated by a second (bodily) resurrection that will equip the saints for the fullness of human life in the new heavens and the new earth (v. 5).
In speaking of these things, and by way of a warning to all, the Holy Spirit also mentions here the destiny of unbelievers. They too will “come to life,” but only at the end of the 1,000 years, when their souls, previously in Hades, are joined to resurrection bodies and then subjected to “the second death,” which is the Lake of Fire (vv. 5, 14).
Our passage concludes with John identifying three blessings that God has prepared for the saints who attain the first resurrection.
First, the second death now holds no sway [lit. has no authority] over them.
Read More

Ezekiel’s Last Battle (Ezekiel 38-39)

Is the Russian invasion of Ukraine a prelude to the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39? Does it portend the Rapture of the Church, the conversion of 144,000 Jewish evangelists, the onset of the Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, and the return of the Lord to set up his millennial kingdom? In this essay, extracted from my forthcoming book on biblical eschatology (The Great End Time Debate), I reply to these questions with an amillennial interpretation of Ezekiel’s Last Battle. May it remind the Church of the words of her Lord:
“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars: See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but the end is not yet at hand” (Matt. 24:6). May it steady her soul to continue in a soundly biblical hope, and to occupy until he comes (Luke 19:13). 
These mysterious chapters give us Ezekiel’s famous prophecy of the Deception, Destruction, and Disposal of Israel’s great eschatological enemy: Gog and his confederation of evil armies. In the latter days, by divine decree, they all will go up against a people fully restored to the LORD and his covenant blessings, thinking to annihilate them and seize their homeland. But it is Gog and his armies who will be annihilated. Under furious strokes of divine judgment they will suffer complete and everlasting destruction upon the mountains of Israel.
How shall we understand this prophecy?
The answer from our premillennarian brethren is predictable. Embracing prophetic literalism, they argue that Ezekiel is foreseeing a military war against latter day Jews who are spiritually renewed and happily resettled in their ancestral homeland of Palestine. But once again there are telling disagreements among the premillennarians. Some, following the lead of Revelation 20:7-9, place this battle at the end of the Millennium. Others say it will take place just prior to Christ’s Second Coming and the onset the Millennium. This, however, forces the latter group to explain why Ezekiel has the Messiah living in the land before the Last Battle, rather than coming to it afterwards (Ezek. 37:24-25).
There are other problems as well, and of the same kind that appear throughout all Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). As we have seen, the conspicuous use of figurative language warns us against prophetic literalism. But if, in the case before us, the warning is ignored, our text is immediately seen to conflict with other OT prophecies of the Last Battle, entangles us in numerous historical anachronisms, and plunges us into incredulity. For consider: Would (or could) modern armies bring wooden weapons to the field of battle? Would there be enough such weapons for a nation of millions to use them as fuel for seven years (Ezek. 39:9)? If all the people of the land worked daily for seven months to bury the bodies of their defeated foes, how many millions of corpses would there have to be (Ezek. 39:13)? How could the Israelites bear the stench or avoid the spread of disease?
But if prophetic literalism is not the key, what is? The Didactic New Testament (DNT) points the way. As we have seen, according to the NT the Kingdom enters history in two stages: a temporary spiritual Kingdom of the Son, followed by an eternal spiritual and physical Kingdom of the Father (Matt. 13:36-43). Sandwiched between the two stages of the one Kingdom is the Last Battle: a final global clash between the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of Satan, during which, for a brief moment, it will appear to all the world that the Lord’s Church has been destroyed. However, nothing could be farther from the truth, for in fact the Last Battle is the sign and trigger of the Consummation of all things: No sooner has it begun, than Christ himself comes again to rescue his Bride, destroy his enemies, and usher in the eternal Kingdom of the Father (and the Son).
These NT mysteries richly illumine large portions of the book of Ezekiel, including our text. In chapters 33-37 Ezekiel prophesies about the Days of the Messiah, and about the great spiritual renewal that he will accomplish among God’s people. In these chapters the prophet is using covenantally conditioned language to speak of the Era of Gospel Proclamation, during which the Father will bring “the Israel of God” into the spiritual Kingdom of his Son (Gal. 6:16). Later, in chapters 40-48, Ezekiel encourages the saints with visions of the Everlasting Temple (40-42), the Everlasting Glory (43), the Everlasting Worship (43-46), the Everlasting Wholeness (47), the Everlasting Homeland (47-48:29), and the Everlasting City (48:30-35). In these chapters he is using covenantally conditioned language to picture the glorified Church in the eternal World to Come. And what is sandwiched between these two great blocs of prophecy? You have guessed correctly: A covenantally conditioned picture of the Last Battle, cast as the Deception, Destruction, and Disposal of Israel’s most fearsome enemy: the armies of Gog.
Keeping these introductory thoughts in mind, let us now begin our journey through Ezekiel 38-39.
The Deception of Gog (38:1-17)
In verses 1-6 God commands Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog—who is consistently represented as a person—and the seven nations that will join him in the eschatological assault against Israel: Meschech, Tubal, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, and Togarmah. The number is symbolic, indicating that these nations typify the entire world. So too does the fact that they are situated to the north, east, and south of Israel. Rev. 20:7-10 further opens up the meaning, declaring that Gog and Magog will be gathered from “the four corners of the earth.” The message, then, is that Gog—unveiled in the NT as a personal antichrist controlled by Satan himself—will gather together the entire world-system for a final attack against the NT people of God: the Church. Her enemies will mean it for evil, but the all-sovereign God of providence, intent on a final majestic display of his glory, will mean it for good (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28, 9:14-18, 11:36; 2 Thess. 2:1ff).
In verses 7-9 God elaborates. The battle will occur “after many days” and “in the latter years”—that is, at the end of the Era of Gospel Proclamation. By his providence God himself will summon his foes, emboldening them to gather together against the LORD and his anointed servants (Ps. 2:1-3; Acts 4:23-31; Rev. 13:7). Accordingly, they will go up against a people gathered out of the nations and henceforth resting securely in their homeland and upon the mountains of Israel (v. 8). That is, they will attack the Church: a people called out of the world-wide Domain of Darkness, and planted in the heavenly places in Christ. Because of man’s sin, those places were long a desolate waste (i.e., uninhabited); but now God’s nation dwells there in peace and security with their mighty risen Lord (Eph. 1:3, 2:6; Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 12:22). Observe again from verse 9 the universality and magnitude of the attack against the Church: “Many peoples” are joined with Gog, and together they cover the land like a cloud (Rev. 13:3, 8, 20:9).
In verses 10-13 God elaborates further, this time probing the evil motivations of Gog and his hordes. Seeing both the prosperity and powerlessness of a peace-loving people who trust in God rather than walls and weapons, they will be emboldened “to capture spoil and to seize plunder” (v. 12). So too will many covetous onlookers, typified by the merchants of Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshsish (v. 13; Rev. 18:15-19). These images speak of spiritual conditions in the last of the last days. Hitherto the Church has enjoyed a wealth of adherents, as well as religious, moral, and cultural influence; now, however, all is attenuated. Spiritually speaking, she is no longer “the navel of the earth,” the spiritual center of human civilization (v. 12). The moral force of the Gospel—and the moral influence of the Church that proclaims it—no longer register on the conscience of a lawless world. Accordingly, it now dawns on the rulers of this present evil age that there is nothing to prevent them from seizing, not simply the property, but also the religious, philosophical, and moral high ground of the followers of the Prince of Peace (Matt. 24:12; 2 Tim. 3:1f; 2 Thess. 2:1ff). Foolishly, they decide to try.
Before pronouncing judgment on his foes, God reiterates his decree one final time (vv. 14-17). Yes, Gog will discern the vulnerability of the LORD’s little flock (v. 14). And yes, a multitude of latter-day nations will follow him in the attack, animated by the same spirit that motivated so many of Israel’s former enemies to invade Palestine from the north (v. 15; Is. 41:25; Jer. 1:13-15, 6:22f). But why are these things so certain? It’s because God himself has ordained them, and because he has done so in order to manifest his glory to all mankind (v. 16). As in the Exodus, so at the Last Battle: God will demonstrate his wrath and make his power known upon vessels fitted for destruction, even as he displays the riches of his glory upon (persecuted) vessels of mercy, whom he lovingly prepared beforehand for glory (Rom. 9:22-23, 2 Thess. 1). Over the course of many years the former prophets spoke of these very things. Why? Because God himself had decreed them (v. 17; Deut. 32:34-43; Is. 34:1-6, 63:1-6, 66:15-16; Joel 3:9-14; Mic. 4:19-23). Amidst all their tribulations the saints are invited to take refuge and comfort in the absolute sovereignty of their covenant-keeping God.
The Destruction of Gog (38:17-23)
Having spoken at length of the Deception of Gog, the LORD now unveils his Destruction (vv. 18-23). When the murderous armies attack his beloved land, he will jealously pour out his fury, anger, and blazing wrath upon them, even as he did upon his uniquely begotten Son, so that his chosen people might be rescued from these most dreadful enemies (vv. 18-19; Ezek. 20:33-35; Matt. 27:4; Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2, 4:10).
The first judgment is an earthquake. It is cosmic in scope, affecting seven sectors of the creation: fish, birds, beasts, all men, all mountains, and all human constructs (vv. 19-20; Heb. 12:29, Rev. 11:3, 16:8). In verses 21-22, seven more judgments are announced: sword, pestilence, blood, overflowing rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone (Rev. 17:16). The numbers are clearly symbolic, and so too is the message. The NT decodes it. Ezekiel’s catalog of OT punishments symbolizes the one cosmic judgment by fire set to occur at the return of Christ (Matt. 3:12; Luke 17:29; 2 Thess. 1:8, 2 Peter 3:7, 12; Rev. 20:9). When it comes, all men and nations will see and confess that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the indeed the one, true, living, and altogether holy God (v. 23; 2 Thess. 1:3-10, Phil. 2:9-11).
The Disposal of Gog (39:1-20)
Chapter 39 gives us the Disposal of Gog and his hordes. Verses 1-8 begin with a brief recapitulation of his Deception and Destruction, wherein we learn again of the universality (v. 6), purpose (7), and certainty (v. 8) of the coming judgment. Observe from verse 6 that when it does come, all the earth will be living in security. But when people are saying, “Peace and safety,” sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman; and they will not escape (1 Thess. 5:3).
The theme of verses 9-10 is eschatological pillage and plunder. That the passage is symbolic is clear from the numbers used: six kinds of weapons will be used for fire over the course of seven years. The meaning? Time and again Israel had been pillaged and plundered by her human enemies; the Last Battle will be their last attempt, when fallen man (6) will do his very worst. But here, says God, is where it ends, and where the tables are forever turned. For here eschatological Israel will pillage and plunder all her foes, and for all time; her victory will be complete (7).
The NT unveils the fulfillment of our text. By God’s decree the saints will have a share in the Judgment. “Do you not realize,” asked the incredulous Paul, “that the saints will judge the world” (Rom. 16:20; 1 Cor. 6:2; Rev. 20:4)? In that Day, the glorified Church will pillage her enemies and plunder their illicitly held possessions. When the fires of judgment have performed their work, a world formerly gone over to Satan and his seed will forever belong to the saints of the Most High. The humble will inherit the earth (Gen. 3:15; Dan. 7:18; Matt. 5:5, Luke 4:5-7; 2 Pet. 3:10-13).
The message is much the same in verses 11-16, which describe the burial of the hordes of Gog. The imagery of verse 11 is designed to communicate the immensity of the burial ground, while that of verses 12-15 staggers us with the multitude of dead bodies that will lie there. Verse 16 makes the latter idea explicit, declaring that the valley will suddenly become a city (or at least play host to a city) that men will call Hamonah (i.e., Multitude). The NT gives the interpretation: In the Judgment the resurrected saints will receive from Christ the honor of co-laboring with him in the eschatological cleansing of the world. The Church will have a role in the final casting out of all things that offend (v. 13; Matt. 13:41; 1 Cor. 6:2-3).
Verses 17-20 alert us to the symbolic character of the entire prophecy, since now we learn that the corpses of Gog are not actually buried in the valley, but instead become a sacrificial meal prepared by the LORD on the mountains of Israel for every sort of bird of the air and beast of the field. Here again the theme is the Last Judgment. We are assured of this by its NT counterpart, Revelation 19:17-21. Drawing liberally from Ezekiel’s words, the Spirit there associates “the Great Supper of God” with the Second Coming of Christ as Judge of all (Rev. 19:11-16). Passages from the DNT decode the symbolism of both prophecies: At the Parousia, Christ, the holy angels, and (perhaps) the saints themselves will fall upon the wicked and cast them into Gehenna, where the latter will be eternally devoured by the fires of divine judgment (Matt. 13:39-43; Rom. 2:5-10; 2 Thess. 1:3ff, 2:8; Jas. 5:3; Rev. 19:20, 20:14-15). Thus shall they become a kind of sacrifice, not to atone for sin, but to glorify the holiness, righteousness, justice, wrath, and power of the divine Judge of sin (Rom. 9:19-24; Rev. 15:1-8, 16:4-6).
A Final Promise of Restoration (39:21-29)
This section brings the prophecy to a close, paving the way for Ezekiel’s description of life in the everlasting World to Come (40-48). Appropriately enough, it gives us yet another promise of Israel’s eschatological restoration (vv. 25-29).
In verses 21-24 God casts a backward glance at his supreme purpose in the Judgment previously described: “That they may know.” He desires all to know his glory (v. 21). He desires Israel to know his covenant faithfulness (v. 22). And he desires the Gentiles to know that whenever they (briefly) triumphed over his people and nation, it was not because he was unable or unwilling to save them, but because they had sinned, with the result that for a little season he was forced to hide his face from them in judgment (vv. 23-24; Is. 54:8).
Mindful of this purpose, and eager to instill hope in his suffering people, God therefore concludes the prophecy with yet another promise of eschatological redemption (vv. 25-29). The blessings are familiar. He will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the house of Israel (v. 25). They will forget their former disgrace and live securely in their own land (v. 26). Their holy and blessed life will bring honor to his name (v. 27). They will learn to see his sovereign hand, both in their previous exile and in their return (v. 28). And when in fact they have returned, they will rest in this glorious confidence: Never again shall God hide his face from them in judgment, for he will have poured out his life-transforming Spirit upon all the house of Israel (v. 29; Heb. 8:1-13).
How shall we interpret this final promise? That it appears to be speaking exclusively of ethnic Israel can scarcely be denied. However, the NT assures us that such is not the case. In fact, the promise will be fulfilled in Christ, under the New Covenant, in the two-fold Kingdom that he will introduce. On this view, Israel’s history of sin, exile, and return stands as a type of the history of all God’s people of all times, whether Jew or Gentile. Having sinned in Adam, as well as by their own evil choices, God has exiled them into the Domain of Darkness, where they suffered grievously at the hands of their many enemies. Yet because of his everlasting love for them, he will take action. In the last days, he will set his glory—the Person and Work of his Son—among the nations, draw a chosen people to him, justify them, fill them with his Spirit, and plant them securely, with neither shame nor disgrace, in their new heavenly homeland.
Yes, at the end of the age the unbelieving world-system will mount a fierce attack against God’s holy nation, for it is appointed to the saints that they should follow in the footsteps of their Master (John 15:20; Rev. 11:7-10) But after they have suffered a little, and after they have been sanctified through it, God will yet again set his glory among the nations. He will do so by sending the High King of Heaven back into the world to destroy and dispose of all his foes, and to establish his people once and for all in their eternal homeland: the new heavens and the new earth (1 Pet. 1:3-9).
In that day, all men—both saints and sinners—will indeed come to know the LORD. They will come to know the sovereignty, righteousness, justice, power, wrath, love, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, and grace of the one true living triune God.
Dean Davis is the Director of Come Let Us Reason. This article is used with permission.

Covid-19 Vaccines And Vaccination Mandates: How Should Christians Respond?

My message is divided into three parts. First, I discuss whether Christians should be vaccinated with one of the new genetic vaccines. Second, I discuss how I believe Christians should respond to vaccination mandates. And third, I offer of a list of resources on this subject that have helped me greatly. My goal is to give Christian leaders, Christian laity, and all concerned citizens the biblical wisdom and reliable information they need to decide well and remain safe.

The flock of God is in a quandary. New vaccines, using a new technology, are now freely available for protection against the COVID-19 virus. Many voices are raised, confidently asserting that these vaccines are safe and effective. Federal, state, and employer mandates are coming down the pike, requiring millions of Americans, including children, to be vaccinated or face exclusion and/or termination. Meanwhile, other voices, just as confident, assert that the vaccines are not safe and effective, and that the mandates violate God-given principles and constitutionally guaranteed rights.
So many voices. So much confusion. So much fear, pressure, and division. How should Christians respond?
I want to begin my reply by addressing pastors: You must teach your people. It will not be enough, or even especially appropriate, to preach a sermon on Romans 14, urge them to study the issues for themselves, make the best choices they can, and then live and let live. We are not dealing here with Christian liberty in non-essentials. We are dealing with an especially sharp and dangerous satanic attack. The ruler of this world is coming against your flock—lambs included—in order to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10; 14:30). Using a wide variety of human instruments seated in high places, he is trying to frighten, confuse, shame, cajole, and intimidate your people into making a medical decision that could cost them their lives and the lives of their children. They need a good shepherd: someone who will tell them the truth, thereby guiding them to still waters, where once again they can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Brothers, the Good Shepherd is counting on you (John 10:1-18).
I am a retired pastor, putting myself in the shoes of active pastors, and writing this essay both for them and their flocks. I earnestly hope it helps.
My message is divided into three parts. First, I discuss whether Christians should be vaccinated with one of the new genetic vaccines. Second, I discuss how I believe Christians should respond to vaccination mandates. And third, I offer of a list of resources on this subject that have helped me greatly. My goal is to give Christian leaders, Christian laity, and all concerned citizens the biblical wisdom and reliable information they need to decide well and remain safe.
Parts 1 and 2 deal with “prudential judgments” concerning vaccines and vaccine mandates. A prudential judgment is a judgment that is not based on a direct biblical command, but on a relevant biblical principle. The Bible says nothing about vaccines and vaccine mandates. It does, however, give us relevant principles by which we can make biblically based decisions about them both. In the pages ahead I will try to identify the relevant biblical principles, supply trustworthy “facts of the matter,” and then apply the principles to the facts, so that God’s people can make prudential judgments that are wise, safe, and honoring to the Lord.PART 1
Should Christians Be Vaccinated with One of the New Genetic Vaccines?
The Principles Involved
To my mind, the primary biblical principle involved here is quite simple: God has given us a body, purchased it for himself through the redemption that is in Christ, and therefore requires us to steward it carefully for our good and his glory. A corollary of this principle is that if we are parents, God has also made us stewards of the bodies of our children, with a charge to promote and protect both their spiritual and physical well-being, until the day comes when they are old enough to make health decisions for themselves (John 9:23; 1 Thess. 2:4-12; 1 Tim. 5:8).
Many biblical texts, all of which reveal the sanctity of the human body, affirm this principle (Matt. 6:22; John 2:21; Rom. 1:4, 6:12; 1 Cor. 7:34; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eph. 5:29; Phil. 1:20; James 3:6; Jude 1:9). Perhaps the most important is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Addressing the issue of sexual purity, he writes:
Flee sexual immorality. “Every sin that a man commits is outside the body.” But the sexually immoral man is sinning against his own body. Or don’t you realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have received from God? Don’t you realize that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price: Therefore, glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Paul’s message is clear: Redemption in Christ has ethical implications for how we manage our bodies. We are not our own. Christ has purchased us for God: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23). Our bodies belong to him. They are, and always must be, set apart for his holy purposes. Day by day we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1). Yes, for wise reasons he may permit them to get sick or be injured. But that does not give us a license to defile, damage, or imperil them. On the contrary, we must conscientiously steward them, for they are precious vessels that God desires for his eternal home, purposes, and glory–and our eternal joy. It follows, then, that as good stewards of a divinely created, redeemed, and sanctified body, we must never put any deadly thing into the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The Facts of the Matter
Keeping these principles in mind, let us now consider some important and well-established facts about the new COVID-19 vaccines. I understand that some people who are considered experts will contest the truth or relevance of these facts. Such disagreements are part and parcel of the spiritual warfare I spoke about at the beginning of this essay. But they are also signs that God is testing our love of the truth. There is no escaping it: If we hope to make wise, safe, God-honoring decisions about these vaccines, each of us will have to examine the truth claims on all sides of the debate. Through prayer, personal research, and respectful dialog with others, we must discern the real facts of the matter for ourselves. Happily, we know that God will help us. He has told us that if any of us lacks wisdom, we need only ask, believe, and work hard to get at the truth. All who do so may rest assured that God will give them the grace they need to make the right choice (James 1:5-8).
Having studied these matters for many months, I give you here, under seven headings, the fruit of my research. I believe this is trustworthy information. Using the resources supplied in Part 3, as well as resources of your own choosing, you will be able to evaluate it for yourselves.

The new genetic vaccines are experimental, insufficiently tested, and irresponsibly promoted.

The widely used Pfizer and Moderna vaccines employ a technology never before approved for use on human beings. Traditional vaccines usually consist of inert or weakened pathogens (i.e., bacteria or viruses) introduced into the body in order to awaken our stunningly complex immune system. If all goes well, it sends out a diverse army of specialized cells (i.e., antibodies) in order to find and destroy the pathogens, and also to log a cellular memory of the invasion for war against future invaders. Henceforth, the body is prepared to respond to a stronger version of the pathogen entering from “the wild.” In short, traditional vaccines intentionally introduce weak pathogens into the body in order to prepare it for an unintentional invasion by stronger ones.
The mRNA vaccines are different. They primarily (but not exclusively) consist of trillions of particles of synthetic messenger-RNA (mRNA). As the name implies, these tiny strands of man-made genetic material were designed to enter our cells and send them a message: “You are now ordered to produce trillions of spike proteins, just like the one found on the COVID-19 virus: the one that could attach itself to you, order you to manufacture more viruses, and thereby sicken and kill your whole body.” The goal, then, of these vaccines is to temporarily turn our cells into spike protein factories, so that our immune system will be trained to attack the business end of a COVID-19 virus: its spike protein.
The Johnson & Johnson and Astra-Zeneca vaccine use a somewhat different technology. These contain adenoviruses that have been genetically modified to produce spike proteins identical with those of the COVID-19 viruses. Once again, the goal is to awaken the immune system to go to war against the entering wedge of the COVID-19 virus: the spike protein.
Hindsight is 20/20. We now know that the spike proteins generated by our cells are very large and durable. We know that they do not remain in our bodily tissue, but eventually pass through our lymphatic system and into our bloodstream, where they can clog our capillaries and generate blood clots. We know that they are carried to, and accumulate in, various parts of our body, including in vital organs. In short, we know—or at least strongly suspect—that they are toxic.
Scientists hoped—and various elites led us to believe—that these vaccines would be effective and safe. As we shall see in a moment, they are neither.
It need not have happened. On average, it takes about seven years of development and testings in order to insure a vaccine’s long-term effectiveness and safety. But in this case, people panicked (or were made to panic), rulers acted in haste, and scientists abandoned longstanding protocols for vaccine development, testing, and rollout. Also, researchers knew very well that previous attempts at developing coronavirus vaccines have always ended in failure, and frequently resulted in injury and death when tested on animals. In effect, then, the pharmaceutical companies, which are immune to lawsuits, are experimenting on millions of people around the world. We are their guinea pigs. Said one FDA official, commenting on the mass vaccination of children, “We’re never going to learn how safe the vaccine is unless we start giving it, and that’s just the way it goes. That’s how we found out about complications of other vaccines.”
Alarmed by such irresponsibility, and fearing its long-term consequences, Dr. Raymond Obomsawin wrote:
It is vitally important to appreciate that . . . there is only limited, short-term safety data for these vaccines, and that it is impossible reasonably to infer long-term safety without first observing the impact on human health over the next few years. Specifically, the potential for late-onset effects such as the development of autoimmune diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, and infertility is highly relevant for young people who have a lifetime ahead of them. These potentialities need to be fully assessed and ruled out with certainty before it is possible to proceed with confidence.

Cells lines derived from the bodies of aborted babies were used in the production and/or testing of these vaccines.

Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson used cell lines derived from aborted babies in the testing, development, and production of their vaccines. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna used these kinds of cells in some of their testing, but not in development and production.
These facts are troubling to many Christians, who rightfully judge that abortion is the murder of an innocent human being, and who know that God condemns murder. They are confused, however, by Christian leaders who say we can (and should) condemn abortion, but are permitted to benefit from the cells lines of aborted babies, since God is a God who can trump evil by using it for good good. What biblical principles should guide them here?
There are at least two.
The first is found in Romans 1:32, where Paul castigates the Gentiles, not only for practicing evil, but also for approving of those who engage in it. It is clear, then, that a Christian should never say or do anything that would approve—or seem to approve—of evil, for that would make him complicit in the evil so approved. But if we receive a vaccine that is associated in any way with abortion, are we not giving tacit approval to those who test, develop, or produce it in this way? Are we not—in effect, if not intention—encouraging them to continue using cell lines from aborted babies? On the other hand, if we reject the vaccine, and freely tell folks why, are we not bearing witness to God’s truth, and hopefully awakening the consciences of many?
The second principle is found in Romans 3:8. In his dialog with an imaginary Jew, Paul asks, “Shall we do evil that good may come?” (Rom. 3:8). Obviously not. And that must be our own reply to all who say, “Yes, aborting the baby was evil, but now that she’s dead, shouldn’t we redeem the evil by using her cells for good?”
“What!” cry the disciples of St. Paul. “In order to save our own skins shall we encourage Big Pharma to keep striking hands with Planned Parenthood, or with any other abortuary that is trying to make extra profits from the murder of unborn babies? No indeed! Rather, we need to listen again the Word of God: ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and do not touch the unclean thing; and I will receive you’” (2 Cor. 6:17).

The vaccines are unnecessary.

If the COVID-19 virus were like the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu, threatening entire populations with death, there might be a case for fighting it with an experimental vaccine. But it is not:

The vast majority of people infected with COVID-19—over 99%–will survive; most will experience mild to moderate symptoms, some none at all.
Even among the most vulnerable demographic, ages 65 and over, there is a 95% survival rate.
It is true that those with two or three “co-morbidities” (i.e., conditions that weaken the immune system) are more vulnerable to serious disease and death from COVID-19. But as we shall see, common sense measures of prevention, together with early treatment with repurposed drugs, guarantee highly effective protection, protection that is far greater than that of the experimental vaccines.
There is an infinitesimal chance that a healthy child will die of COVID-19 (.0002%). Some children have an innate immunity to the virus, likely traceable to memory cells generated by common colds (which are caused by coronaviruses). Others pass through a COVID-19 infection—usually with mild symptoms, or none at all—and acquire a natural long-lasting immunity that, unlike the vaccines, will protect them from COVID-19 variants. But as we shall see in a moment, there is a significant chance that a child will be injured, permanently disabled, or killed by the vaccine, especially if he as already acquired a natural immunity. Thus, the (alleged) benefits of vaccination come nowhere near to outweighing the risks.
The official Infection Fatality Fate (IFR) for COVID-19 is inflated, and perhaps dramatically so. People who died with COVID-19, including suicides and accident victims, were counted as dying from the virus. One wonders: How many flu deaths were reckoned as COVID-19 deaths? The PCR test for COVID-19 is known to give many false positives. Governments gave hospitals strong financial incentives to report ordinary deaths as COVID-19 deaths. Pathology professor Timothy Allen wrote, “It seems clear that the correct IFR is just a little worse than the rate for the 2017-2018 flu.”
Once again, if COVID-19 vaccines are unnecessary for the vast majority of the general populace, then they are exceedingly unnecessary for all who have acquired natural immunity by passing through an infection. Moreover, it is now known that vaccinating people who have natural immunity causes more adverse reactions than vaccinating those without.

Throughout this pandemic, powerful elites, enabled by various media outlets, have consistently misinformed or underinformed us, thereby keeping the public in a state of ignorance and fear. The simple truth is that a COVID-19 infection is not especially dangerous, a healthy immune system is almost always able to fight it off, and we have safe, effective, and inexpensive medications to treat any who are in special need. The new experimental vaccines are unnecessary.

The vaccines are ineffective.

When the new vaccines were rolled out, Dr. Fauci told us that they were “virtually 100% efficacious.” This led people to believe that they would permanently protect us from infection, transmission, disease, hospitalization, and death. But in fact they do none of these things. Yes, in many cases they offer temporary protection from symptoms. But when the protection wears off (usually after 4-6 months), the vaccinated are again vulnerable to “breakthrough infections,” hospitalization, and death.
Hard data confirm this truth. In Israel, over 85% of the populace has been fully vaccinated. However, as of this writing public health officials now report over 16,000 cases. Moreover, they tell us that approximately 80% of those who died were vaccinated, and that this year’s deaths are 12 times higher than last year. The situation is much the same in other highly vaccinated locales, such as the U.K., Ireland, Wales, Australia, and Singapore. Meanwhile, here in the U.S. nearly 90% of the adults in Vermont have been vaccinated, yet cases are surging, and, according to Dr. Robert Redfield, 40% of the recent fatalities were fully vaccinated.
These developments tell us that the vaccines do not work. If fact, it now appears that they actually make things worse, since they promote the evolution of variants, and confuse and weaken our immune systems. Accordingly, many authorities now judge it far better to let a COVID-19 infection run its course, while treating the especially vulnerable with safe and effective repurposed drugs. This approach allows our immune systems to generate robust antibodies that will attack all parts of an invading COVID-19 virus (and not just the spike proteins), thereby protecting us from variants, and also nudging the entire populace towards herd immunity.

The vaccines are dangerous.

This is my single greatest concern. Something is wrong with these vaccines. They are sickening, disabling, and killing many people.
Again, some experts trace this problem to the trillions of large, durable, and toxic spike proteins generated by our vaccine-modified cells. Passing through our lymphatic system and into our bloodstream, these proteins clog the circulatory system, accumulate in vital organs, and cause severe problems.
Other experts spotlight additional chemicals used in the vaccines, some of which are “proprietary,” and therefore secret. Two well-known ingredients are polyethylene glycol and polysorbate, both of which can produce anaphylactic shock (sudden allergic reactions) in some individuals.
Whatever the causes may be, one thing is sure: The victims are many, and the adverse reactions are diverse and serious.
As of this writing, the CDC reports 17,000 COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths, 80,000 hospitalizations, 25,000 permanent disabilities, and 800,000 total adverse events. Eudravigilance, the European reporting system, now associates the vaccine with 26,000 deaths. Whistleblower data gathered from very reliable Medicare charts show that nearly 50,000 elderly Americans died within two weeks of vaccination. Since adverse events are underreported or misreported, these numbers are actually much higher. Steve Kirsch, using eight different parameters for calculation, concludes that the new vaccines have killed at least 150,000 Americans, and permanently disabled 300,000. As we have seen, in highly vaccinated countries like the U.K., Ireland, Holland, and Israel, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are surging.
Unveiling the variety, frequency, and seriousness of the adverse reactions, the official OpenVAERS website pointedly mentions blood clots, low platelets, strokes, anaphylaxis (allergic reactions), heart attacks, myocarditis (especially among youth), Bell’s Palsy, miscarriages, and menstrual irregularities. Heart-rending personal testimonies, available for viewing on websites designed to publicize the stories of vaccine victims, put flesh on these statistics, and reveal the dreadful human cost of our errors.
I am especially concerned about the vaccination of children and youth. On the one hand, we have seen that this demographic is essentially impervious to serious illness and death from COVID-19. On the other, there is grave danger that many of our children will be injured, permanently disabled, or killed by a new COVID-19 vaccine. Based on reports to the CDC, Steve Kirsch calculates that some 570 American youth, aged 12-17, have already died from vaccination. In the highly vaccinated UK, teen deaths are up 125%. Anecdotal evidence keeps pouring in, giving us stories of teens who die in their sleep, in front of their computers, or on the playing field, just days after their vaccination. Maddie de Garay, a 12-year-old girl, was part of a test group of about 1,100 youth. She nearly died from the vaccine, and now appears to be permanently disabled. Many outspoken medical authorities, decrying the great push to vaccinate children and youth, use words like insane, heartbreaking, and criminal. I could not agree more.
No vaccine in history has generated this range of adverse reactions; and the official indifference to this fact is stunning, as is the failure of our media outlets to report them. Normally, 25-50 deaths that are even remotely associated with an experimental vaccine would bring testing and distribution to an immediate halt. In 1976, 32 deaths shut down human testing of the swine flu vaccine. Yet here and in much of Europe the march towards universal vaccination goes on, leaving multitudes injured and dead in its wake.
Who will tell the people the truth? Who will be for them a watchman on the walls?

The way out of the pandemic is not through mass vaccination, but through common sense methods of prevention, and through early treatment with cheap, safe, and effective repurposed drugs.

This point cannot be overemphasized. Currently, the powers that be in Europe and America are fixated on a one-size-fits-all strategy: vaccination. But for well over a year respected scientists and doctors around the world have been exploring other strategies, not only to prevent infection, but also to treat one when it occurs.
And they have found them. We now know that fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and a daily regimen of vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc offer significant common-sense protection against infection. In some countries, governments encourage protection by distributing hyrdoxychloroquine or ivermectin for regular use. Very importantly, we also know that in the event of an actual infection, early treatment with hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, monoclonal antibodies, and other safe, repurposed drugs, including humble aspirin, will mitigate symptoms and prevent hospitalization and death for multitudes. The Fareed-Tyson protocol, relying upon such medications, has saved the lives of over 7,000 COVID-19 patients; it has resulted in a 99.76% risk reduction, with no deaths or disabilities.
Further support for this strategy comes from India. The state of Kerala, which banned the use of ivermectin, presently has about 186,000 cases of COVID-19. This is 65% of all cases in India. Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, which aggressively promotes the use of Ivermectin, has only 193 active cases, despite boasting over 200 million more citizens than Kerala! Yes, inexpensive repurposed drugs offer high levels of protection against COVID-19. But more than that, they allow our immune systems to develop special antibodies that will attack the entire virus (and not just a particular spike protein), thereby supplying robust protection against future variants. The end result, for folks who are willing to walk this path, is strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death, as well as peace of mind, durable acquired immunity to COVID-19 variants, and a major contribution to herd immunity.
The vaccination path confers none of these benefits; indeed, it appears to work against them. Which path, then, is it most reasonable to take?

People are now becoming aware of these facts, rejecting the vaccines, and pushing back against vaccine mandates.

Just as you cannot keep a good man down, so you cannot keep the truth from getting out, especially in the age of the Internet! (2 Cor. 13:8). And thanks to the conscientious, courageous, and costly labors of a growing cadre of medical professionals, the truth is getting out, despite a flood of opposition from various powerful elites.
The truth-tellers are manifold. They include scientists, doctors, nurses, and public health officials. Space does not permit me to share their extensive credentials, but I am well pleased to lift up the names of just a few: doctors Peter McCullough, Robert Malone, Pierre Kory, Simone Gold, Joseph Mercola, Ryan Cole, Charles Hoff, Lev Zelenko, Harvey Risch, Scott Atlas, Peter Breggin, and many more. While differing among themselves on minor points of science and policy, all of these professionals challenge the safety of the new vaccines, oppose vaccine mandates, eagerly promote early treatment as our best weapon against the pandemic, and vociferously denounce authorities who would keep us from supplying that treatment to the needy.
Very importantly, their leadership has caused thousands of other professionals to join with them. As a result, over 10,000 doctors and scientists from around the world have signed the Rome Declaration, a public statement that articulates the principles mentioned above.
Happily, the people themselves are also speaking up. We now have websites where the vaccine-injured tell their stories, and where the relatives and friends of the vaccine-killed can do the same, hoping to alert a slumbering public. Similarly, victims now meet and exchange information on social media. Meanwhile, concerned citizens collaborate in Facebook groups, demonstrate in county squares, write letters to their local newspapers, and contact government leaders and public health officials. In short, truth is going out and minds are being changed.
The result is major push back against the powers that be. We especially see this in the growing opposition to vaccine mandates coming from doctors, nurses, soldiers, teachers, police officers, border patrol agents, firemen, pilots, air traffic controllers, and more. This opposition is quite revealing. If the new vaccines were properly vetted, shown to be effective, and known to be safe, most folks would receive them gladly. But they are not. Accordingly, more and more people are rejecting vaccination, even as influential leaders lie to them, bribe them, shame them, threaten them, fire them, and otherwise trey to force them to take the jab.
The people’s response to all this pressure is visceral, and in full accord with nature and nature’s God: “Life is good. I need a healthy body to enjoy it. Nothing you can say or do will induce me to destroy it.”
The Principles Applied
I have argued that the biblical principles involved in the vaccination quandary are simple and clear. First, we must conscientiously steward the health of our bodies and the bodies of our children. We must never do anything that might injure or destroy these precious temples of the Holy Spirit. And second, we must never approve, or seem to approve, of an evil; nor are we to encourage an evil in any way, even if it might seem that through the evil some measure of good may come.
Speaking personally, after applying these principles to the relevant facts of the matter I have concluded that I must not be vaccinated with one of the new genetic vaccines. The risks far outweigh any of the supposed (and largely disproven) advantages. To do so would be to jeopardize my life, health, capacities, and future fruitfulness in ministry; and to do so in the case of my children would be unthinkable. And again, these particular vaccines are morally tainted through their association with abortion and abortion profiteering. I cannot be a party to that. However, I can tell folks the reasons for my decision, and so become a voice for the unborn and the sanctity of human life.
Pastors, I urge you to share these principles and facts with your people. I also encourage you to direct them to any other resources that will help them educate themselves and stay abreast of developments in this highly consequential public debate. Having done that, you can safely leave the final decisions with them, knowing that you have done your duty, and that you are “innocent of the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26; Rom. 14:1-23).
How Should Christians Respond to Vaccine Mandates?
The Principles Involved
Once again, the central principle involved here is quite simple: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). However, in order to understand and apply it correctly, we need to think for a moment about the idea of authority.
What is authority? A basic definition, fully harmonious with biblical teaching, would be: Authority is the right to exercise power in order to enforce conformity to one’s will, or to discipline or punish those who refuse to conform.
In the Bible we meet the supreme authority in the universe: God Most High, the creator, sustainer, providential ruler, and moral governor of all men and nations. For our good and his glory, he has instituted laws by which he would have us live. If we obey them, he will commend and bless us. If not, he will discipline or punish us. In all of this, his motives are good: The High King of Heaven uses his supreme authority to maintain order, enforce justice, secure the well-being of his creatures, and preserve his proper honor and glory (Ex. 20; Deut. 28; Mal. 1:6, 14; Matt. 28:18; John 17:2, Eph. 1:18-23; Rom. 13:1-7).
The Bible also reveals that God delegates some of his supreme authority to men and angels. Focusing our attention on men, we learn, first of all, that God delegates his authority (and therefore assigns responsibility) to individuals. That is, he gives each of us the right, the power, and the prerogative to govern ourselves according to his will. Of all delegated authorities, this is the most fundamental. It is the only one over which we have complete control, and the only one for which we must give an account to God (2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:5). In the face of every spiritual test, including the test of vaccine mandates, we must take care to exercise it well.
There are several other kinds of delegated authority. For example, God, for particular purposes and within fixed limits, delegates authority to husbands to govern their wives (Eph. 5:22). He delegates authority to parents to govern their children (Eph. 6:1). He delegates authority to elders, to govern their flocks (1 Tim. 3:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5). And finally, he delegates authority to magistrates, to govern the citizens under their jurisdiction (Rom. 13:1-8; 1 Pet. 2:13-16).
But again, God has placed certain limits on those to whom he delegates authority, and this in two main ways.
First, leaders in every sphere must use their authority in obedience to the will of God. They are not at liberty to act on their own, but only as his ministers, as his representatives upon the earth (Rom. 13:6). As a general rule, this means that they will always use their authority to protect and promote the physical and spiritual well-being of those under their care. This is true even of magistrates when they are called to use their authority to punish evildoers, since the administration of divine justice secures the overall peace of a given community. If a leader uses his authority well, God will honor him and reward him (Rom. 13:7; 1 Tim. 3:13). But if he uses it selfishly, in order to promote his own interests and/or harm those under his charge, he has lost the mandate of heaven, fallen under the judgment of God, and forfeits the obedience of his subjects. Indeed, he rightly elicits their principled opposition. More on this in a moment.
Secondly, leaders are authorized to use their authority only over those within their jurisdiction, and for the purposes proper to that jurisdiction. For example, a husband and a father has God-given authority over his wife and children so that he may effectively protect them and provide for them, spiritually and physically. But if he tries to exercise this kind of authority over another man’s wife and children, he has stepped outside of his jurisdiction, violated God’s creation order, and stirred up a hornet’s nest.
Again, a church leader has authority from God to govern the affairs of his church and administer church discipline. But if he tries to use his ecclesiastical authority to control the decisions of individuals, husbands, parents, or magistrates, he has stepped outside of his jurisdiction and violated God’s order. And this too will bring on the hornets.
Much the same is true in regard to magistrates. They have God-given authority over the citizens in their community, but only for the purpose of praising those who do what is right, administering civil justice to all equally, and imposing discipline and punishments on those who do what is wrong (Rom. 13:1-8). If any citizen—a single person, a husband, a wife, a child, a church leader, or a temporal ruler—has committed a crime, the magistrate has a God-given authority to judge, acquit, or punish them. But beyond that, he has no authority, right, or responsibility to touch a hair on any of their heads.
Summing up, God is the supreme authority. He delegates some of his authority to different kinds of leaders. He authorizes them to govern over those within their jurisdiction, for the purposes proper to that jurisdiction, and for the good of those under their care. However, when a leader oversteps any of these boundaries, his reach becomes overreach, his commands become null and void, and his subjects need not comply. Indeed, his subjects now have a positive duty to resist him (with respect), for he has lost the mandate of heaven, so that God—the supreme authority—is now against him.
Taming the Tension
Living as we do in a fallen world, we see this kind of thing all the time. Sin infects the hearts and lives of all people, including leaders. Therefore, whether in the home, the Church, or the State, leaders will frequently abuse their God-given authority.
Turning back to the subject at hand, let’s consider some examples from the sphere of government. In Communist China magistrates dictate to parents how many children they may have; and in the recent past, they have forced abortion upon women whom they thought were having too many. In Germany, homeschooling is now illegal. In effect, German children are the property of State, which pretends to have greater authority over a child’s spiritual and intellectual formation than his father and mother. Here in the United States, magistrates, citing an alleged public health emergency, recently closed schools and businesses, shuttered churches, barred private gatherings, forbade hospital visitations, enforced mask mandates, and are now trying to mandate universal vaccination.
Who is sufficient for these things? Who has the wisdom to discern the justice of such mandates, and to make the correct response to them? Answer: those who have learned, from Scripture, the nature, purpose, and limits of delegated authority. Through the wisdom of God, such persons will make wise, just, and safe decisions about any mandate coming down from “the powers that be.”
But the decisions will not be easy. Again, we live in a fallen world, a world in which we Christians often experience a distressing ethical tension. For on the one hand, we take seriously all the biblical texts that tell us to submit to temporal rulers. We understand that honorable rulers are ministers of God and administrators of his justice. We recognize the power of sin, the works of the devil, and the horrors of anarchy. Therefore, our default position is to eagerly support good government, and to work hard to achieve, maintain, and improve it.
On the other hand, we also know—both from Scripture and painful historical experience—that Satan can attack, and sin can infect, any human institution, including government. When it does, the result is that wicked magistrates reach beyond their jurisdiction, promote evil instead of good, hurt those under their care, disobey the law of God, and forfeit the moral authority they had from him. Under these painful circumstances, when justice has become injustice, it falls to the Christian to declare, “I must obey God rather then men” (Acts 5:29).
Jesus Christ and his apostles all experienced this tension. When they did, they responded biblically and memorably, giving us the wisdom, courage, and the pattern we need to do the same (Rev. 11:8). Though our Lord had received orders from his Father to go to an unjust death like a lamb to the slaughter, he did not hesitate to point out the lawlessness of his trial; nor, throughout his lifetime, did he fail to challenge, reprove, and shrewdly evade the hostile powers that were arrayed against him (Matt. 23:13-26, 26:47-68; John 8:59; 18:28-32). Similarly, when the Jewish authorities commanded the apostles to no longer teach or preach in Jesus’ name, Peter and John boldly replied, saying, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in the sight of God for us to listen to you instead of him. As for us, we cannot help but speak about the things we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
Down through the centuries, multitudes of discerning Christians have followed their example, and some have paid the ultimate price in order to stay safely on the side of God and his will. Today, in the midst of various encroaching tyrannies, many brave Christians are doing the same. I reckon Archbishop Carlo Vigano to be among them. With governmental responses to the current pandemic very much in mind, he said, “Submission to legitimate state authority is the soul’s link to divine justice; but submission to illegitimate authority turns submission into subservience and renders the soul complicit with evil.” For earnest Christians, either one of these failures would be calamitous. We must obey God rather than men.
The Facts of the Matter
Our subject here in Part 2 is vaccine mandates. If they haven’t reached you yet, they will. Though numerous legal challenges are working their way through the courts, President Biden has ordered the vaccination of all federal workers, including military personnel. Also, he has directed OSHA to compel businesses with more than 100 workers to mandate their vaccination. Though OSHA has yet to act, and though the legality of such a dictate is in dispute, many businesses, including hospitals and universities, are already complying voluntarily. While some governors and state legislators are opposed to COVID-19 mandates, others are not. Here in California, for example, Governor Newsom has expressed his determination to mandate the vaccination of all students age five and over, in both public and private schools. The mandates will not likely stop there. Christian leaders, employers, and employees must prepare themselves.
The Principles Applied
Based on my reading of the biblical principles involved, and applying those principles to the facts of the matter, I judge that all such mandates are unlawful, destructive, and unconscionable.
Basically, my reasons are two-fold.
First, by mandating any medical procedure, temporal rulers are operating outside of their proper jurisdiction. God has given them authority only to administer civil justice for the good of the community. In the promotion of the latter, it is indeed conceivable that rulers might lawfully mandate a temporary quarantine of the sick and the contagious; biblical precedent for such a rule is found in the OT laws pertaining to leprosy (Lev. 13).
There is, however, is no biblical precept or precedent that could ever justify the State forcing a particular medical procedure upon any of its citizens, Christian or otherwise. Such a mandate would violate the sanctity of the God-ordained relationship between the citizen, his own body, and his creator. God has not granted the State stewardship over the bodies of its citizens; he has granted it to individual citizens, and to them alone. Intuitively, we all know this, especially those who cherish freedom and individual human rights. Bible-believing Christians are among them, and for very special reasons: They know that God has redeemed their body; and they know that he has given them a stewardship to take care of it (1 Cor. 9:17). My body is under my jurisdiction, and I am under God’s. My body is not under the jurisdiction of the State.
Secondly, by mandating this particular medical procedure (i.e., the injection of an unnecessary and demonstrably dangerous vaccine), rulers and/or employers are forcing me to expose the temple of the Holy Spirit—whether mine or my child’s—to injury, disease, and possible death. Moreover, they also are forcing me to receive a product that is morally tainted by association with abortion and abortion profiteering, with the result that I am indirectly encouraging pharmaceutical companies to continue their evil practices.
In short, this particular mandate pressures me to violate my conscience. But this I can never do, for Scripture instructs me to live in all good conscience (Acts 23:1), to keep my conscience void of offense towards God (Acts 24:16), and to hold the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience (Acts 24:16). It is a great evil—and a great folly—for the State to coerce the conscience of any of God’s children. Nevertheless, in order to test his children and to convict the world, God will permit this evil from time to time (Dan. 3). Knowing these things, the committed Christian will not cave in. His conscience is not captive to the State; it is captive to the Word and Person of God.
Pastors, some of your people have already faced vaccine mandates, and it is certain that more will. They will feel great pressure to “take the jab” in order hold their jobs, feed their families, protect their careers, keep their kids in school, maintain amicable relations with their employer, and honor God by submitting to “powers that be.” This test of their wisdom and courage is a raging river; you must help them to cross it.
Teach them the powerful biblical principles involved in this matter. Give them all the information they need to make wise, safe, and godly decisions. Help them understand that God’s command to submit to magistrates is not absolute; that there are times when it is not only permissible, but even imperative, to disobey. They must do so respectfully and, if at all possible, non-violently; but they must do so, firmly and steadfastly. Remind them that when push comes to shove, they must obey God rather than men.
Some Healthy Reminders
Along the way, you might also remind them that the supreme law of our land is the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution, with its glorious Bill of Rights; that these documents embody many biblical principles; and that these principles trump all unconstitutional mandates, federal laws, state laws, bureaucratic rulings, or court decisions.
Does God tell Christian Americans to obey “the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1)? Well, those would be the Declaration and the Constitution. Accordingly, in God’s sight the highest civil duty of American Christians is to obey the principles and precepts contained in these two documents, and therefore to challenge any president, congressman, Supreme Court justice, or lesser magistrate who departs from them. We are under orders to speak prophetically to the powers that be, insisting that rulers follow our lead by obeying the law of the land, rather than breaking it themselves (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 3:15).
Finally, you might remind them of the Nuremberg Protocols, a set of procedures developed in response to the gross malfeasance of the medical establishment of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. These protocols, now ensconced in our own federal statutes, specifically address medical research, but apply to all forms of medical treatment. They reflect timeless principles that are well supported by common sense, natural law, and biblical precept. Here are four of them, all especially relevant to our discussion: (1) Medical treatment must never be coerced, but always follow after the patient’s voluntary consent; (2) doctors must inform their patients of all known or possible dangers prior to any treatment; (3) the benefits of a treatment must be known to outweigh the risks; and (4) treatment must be immediately stopped if harm ensues.
Are American Christians now being required to submit to federal, state, or employer mandates that violate the Word of God, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Nuremberg Protocols? Pastor, your flock needs you to help them answer these important questions.
Let me close this section—and this essay—with a few practical words addressed to all God’s people.
As a retired pastor, the vaccines mandates have not (yet) affected me directly. However, I have read widely on the subject, and thought hard about what I would do if they did.
My counsel to you is that you carefully study the biblical principles and facts of the matter on vaccine safety and vaccination mandates, asking the Lord to help you reach full conviction on both of these issues.
If your conscience will not permit you to receive this kind of vaccine, and if you face a vaccination mandate, you can seek a religious exemption. Though anything is possible these days, it is hard to imagine that in the end the U.S. Supreme Court will not uphold them. (See the links in Part 3.)
Do not quit your job; instead, force your employer to fire you. In the midst of your test, this will put him to the test. Hopefully, it will also insure that you receive unemployment compensation, and possibly even reparations in due season.
Be bold in discussing your convictions with your fellow employees; if push comes to shove, ask likeminded folks to join with you in stepping away from your employer. All of you are more powerful than any one of you.
You may consider joining with others in a class action lawsuit challenging the legality and/or constitutionality of the mandate that led (or may lead) to your dismissal. The legal resources cited below should be of help.
Are you a Christian parent, concerned about the health and safety of a child who is attending public school? Perhaps now is the time to consider a Christian school or home schooling. Yale epidemiologist Harvey Risch thinks so: “If it were my child, I would home school them. Honestly, I would organize with other parents to take them out of the school and create homeschooling environments. There’s no choice. Your child’s life is on the line.”
Yes, it is hard to find a new job or a new school; but it is impossible to find a new body. At all costs you must protect it, except at the cost of spiritual compromise. Furthermore, radical action out of loyalty to the faith will inevitably call attention to that faith. Perhaps God has prepared you for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). Perhaps he desires that your Christian witness will win souls to your Savior.
So then, let us be willing to pay the price: certainly for the health of our families, but especially for the honor and glory of our God. And take comfort: The Lord himself told us that this kind of thing would happen (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). But he also told us that we are not alone: Others have experienced it before, and many are experiencing it today (1 Pet. 5:9). As we join with them in holy obedience, we become faithful witnesses who are purchasing gold tried in the fire, and who acquire true and lasting wealth (Rev. 1:5, 3:18).
But above all, remember Immanuel, the God who is with us in the midst of every tests and trial. And remember that he has promised to richly supply all our spiritual and physical needs, so that we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6; cf. Phil. 4:19).
Helpful Resources
The resources listed below will help pastors, Christian laymen, and all concerned citizens to educate themselves about the COVID-19 pandemic, the mRNA vaccines, and vaccine mandates. Hopefully, the materials will enable you to reach conviction on these matters, make wise personal choices for yourselves and your family, and serve in your communities as a well-informed and responsible citizens. I have sought to include only the most essential links (they will carry you to many others), and to categorize them in a way that will give you easy access to the information you seek. Occasionally you will need to search for a resource: Just place the key words supplied in the title of the resource in the search field of the website involved. Also, please consult this page from time to time, since I plan to add further resources in days ahead.
May God richly bless you all with his wisdom and courage in these challenging last days.
Dean Davis is the Director of Come Let Us Reason. This article is used with permission.

Helpful Websites  
America’s Frontline DoctorsNational Vaccine Information CenterTruth for Health FoundationChildren’s Health DefenseDaniel Horowitz / The BlazeAssociation of American Physicians and SurgeonsVaccine Safety Research FoundationEugyppius
Helpful Newsletters
CHD: The DefenderJoseph MercolaJeff ChildressAlex Berenson
Helpful Articles, Videos, and PDF’s
AFLDS White Paper on COVID-19 Vaccines (SearchDr. Charles Hoffe on mRNA VaccinesDr. Ryan Cole on mRNA VaccinesVaccine SecretsGuide to Home-Based COVID-19 Treatment (Search)Dr. Thomas Siler: The Unvaccinated are Looking Smarter Every DayDr. Robert Malone on Vaccine MandatesDr. Peter McCullough on Vaccines and Vaccine Mandates
Expert Forums and Declarations
Global COVID-19 SummitPhysicians DeclarationThe Great Barrington Declaration
Vaccine Injuries and Deaths
OpenVAERS1000 COVID-19 StoriesCOVID-19 Vaccine VictimsThe Expose (UK)Vaccine Safety Research Foundation
The Abortion Connection
Desmond Allen: Moral Objections to Current VaccinesClifford Grobien: Exemptions Are Needed
Early Treatment: Options and Outlets
Steve Kirsch: Vaccine Research and ResourcesFront Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC)America’s Front Line Doctors (ALFDS)Seven CellsSpeak With an MDPush HealthHorowitz: Fauci’s Criminal Disregard for Early Treatment Options 
Vaccine Mandates
The Next ProhibitionWest Point Vaccine Mandate an Unlawful Order
Legal Resources
Parallel Economies, Legal ResourcesThe Healthy AmericanThe Liberty CounselThe Thomas More Society
Keeping our Kids Safe
Why Are We Vaccinating Children Against COVID-19? (Research Article)Paul Alexander on Vaccinating ChildrenCHD: The DefenderDr. Thomas Siler: What Questions Must We Ask Before Vaccinating Our Children?13 Reasons Why You Should Not Let Your Child Take the Covid-19 Vaccine (Expose, UK)Dr. Peter McCullough: Why Kids Must Avoid the nMRNA ShotDr. Harvey Risch on Vaccine Mandates for ChildrenWhy Kid’s Immune Systems Can Handle COVID-19

Scroll to top