Dean Davis

The Revelation Is the Grand Finale of All Scripture, and Why That’s Important to Know

It is not the purpose of a grand finale to introduce new themes; its purpose is to creatively recapitulate the old. And when we examine the Revelation, we find that this is indeed the case. Here there is nothing new, nothing other than what Christ and the apostles have already taught us in the New Testament. There is nothing new about the trinity, the creation, the fall, the eternal covenant, the nature and structure of the Kingdom of God, or the Consummation at Christ’s return. Rather, we simply find the Holy Spirit speaking to us over and again about these old and well-established truths.

Think for a moment about your favorite symphony. Now think about its final movement. What is it that makes the final movement of a symphony into a grand finale? Three simple answers come to my mind.
First, it appears at the end of the symphony. There is no more music to come. Accordingly, this is the composer’s last opportunity to sum up his message and get it across to his audience with a final burst of artistic power and panache.
Secondly, it reprises the themes that the composer gave us in the previous movements. When it does, however, it does so “grandly.” Here the composer skillfully weaves together all his earlier motifs, so that we not only hear them again, but also hear them afresh, with fresh power. We hear them in new, startling, and beautiful relations with one another. We hear them in such a way that the whole symphony is somehow poured into the last part of the symphony.
Finally, precisely because it is a grand finale, it does not typically introduce any new musical themes. Instead, the composer devotes himself more or less exclusively to a fresh, inspiring, and majestic recapitulation of the old.
All three of these observations apply to the Revelation, and in a way that helps us understand it to its depths.
Like a grand finale, the Revelation appears at the end of the great symphony of biblical revelation. By God’s wise decree, it is the last book of the Bible. What’s more, its contents positively cry out that it should be the last book, since it is so thoroughly taken up with the last things: the Last Days, the Last Battle, the (last) Resurrection, and the (last) Judgment, the last two of which occur at the last Coming of the Last Man (1 Cor. 15:45). The claims of Church History’s false prophets notwithstanding, Spirit-taught Christians find it unthinkable that God, having given us a book like this, would give us any more. And indeed, this is the testimony of the Revelation itself (21:18-19). The Revelation is the Book of the End; therefore it rightly appears at the end of the Book (1:8; 2:26; 21:6; 22:13).
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Key Symbols in the Revelation

In the Bible, ten is the number of completeness, three is the number of the Trinity, and one thousand is the number of magnitude. Therefore, the number 1000 tells the Church two things about the Era of Gospel Proclamation. First, it will be long, longer than most of the saints expect. But secondly, it also will be fruitful. 10  x  10  x  10 = 1000. So this number tells the Church that during the Era of Gospel Proclamation the Trinity (3) will complete (10) the application of the redemption that her Lord purchased for her during his days upon the earth; it is a divine promise of the spiritual fruitfulness of the evangelizing Bride of Christ. Though the Millennium has now lasted over 2000 literal years, the saints understand that this redemptive fruitfulness makes the wait well worthwhile.

In this post I offer an amillennial perspective on the meaning of key numbers and images found in the Revelation.
As you will see, I rarely, if ever, understand them literally. Rather, I understand them typologically and figuratively. I view them as symbols, drawn by the Holy Spirit from both the Old and New Testaments; as symbols that speak to the Church about her life under the New Covenant, her relationship with the High King of heaven, and her long, difficult, but also fruitful and ultimately triumphant journey through the wilderness of this world and on into the Promised Land.
This post will appear in an appendix of a book I am currently writing, giving readers a short, amillennial overview of the Revelation. For that reason, the list below does not contain many proof texts. I will supply those in the body of the forthcoming book, along with further comments on the topics in view.
The numbers in parentheses beside each entry indicate the chapter(s) in which the symbol is found.
I sincerely hope that this little glossary of key symbols—like the little book that the angel gave for the apostle John to eat—will be sweet in your mouth and nourishing to your soul, as you make your pilgrim way in the company of the High King.

The Seven Golden Lampstands (1): The seven churches in Asia, symbolizing, through the use of the number seven, the universal Church of all times and places.

The Seven Stars (1): The seven messengers (or angels) of the churches, likely sent to John to receive the Revelation and take it home to their respective cities; a symbol of all church leaders, and their privilege and duty to share the contents of this message with God’s people.

The Sword, Great and Sharp (1): The Word of God, emanating from the mouth of the Son of God, the High King of heaven; a powerful two-edged sword that, like a surgeon’s scalpel, has power both to heal and to harm.

The Throne of God (4): A symbol of the sovereignty of God the Father: the Creator, Ruler, Judge, and Redeemer of the universe.

The Four Living Creatures (4): Symbolizing the seraphim, who manifest the attributes of God and Christ, and who are caught up in the contemplation and worship of the glory of God (Is. 6:2). However, the fact that they are four in number signifies that these too, like all the other angels, have a ministry to the four corners of the earth below; that is, to all the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:4).

The 24 Elders, Seated on 24 Thrones (4): The universal Church, comprised both of OT saints (symbolized by the number 12, for the patriarchs), and NT saints (symbolized by the number 12, for the apostles). Here the Church is styled as a company of elders, perhaps because, by God’s eternal decree, she has a share in the eternity of the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:9, 13, 22); but certainly because, being seen on 24 thrones surrounding the one throne of God, she has a share in his authority and power; and because, through Christ, she is destined to reign in life with him (Rom. 5:17).

The Seven Lamps Before the Throne (4): Explicitly identified as the seven spirits of God, which is yet another symbol pointing to the complete (7), many-faceted work of the one Holy Spirit in the earth below. Revelation 3:1 pictures the seven spirits of God in the hand of Christ, who, through the Spirit, is now at work, both in the Church and in the (history of the) world (John 15:26-25; Acts 2:33).

The Sea of Glass (4, 15): The infinite holiness of God, which, like a vast ocean, separates sinners from eternal life before his throne; but, as chapter 5 reveals, a sea that is now bridgeable, and a throne that is now accessible, thanks to the redemptive work of Christ.

The Scroll in the Father’s Right Hand (5): A last will and testament, containing the fullness of the inheritance of the saints, decreed in eternity by God the Father. Its contents will later be revealed in chapters 21-22, which describe the glory of the Bride of Christ and the Family of God in the World to Come.

The Seven Seals (5, 6, 8): The events of the Era of Gospel Proclamation, predestined to occur prior to the opening of the scroll and the saints’ reception of their full inheritance. According to the symbolism of chapter 5, the Lord Jesus Christ, the High King of heaven, alone has the qualifications, authority, and power to break the seals; that is, to bring these events to pass.

The Lamb with Seven Horns and Seven Eyes (5): The Redeemer, the exalted Lord Jesus Christ. In the days of his humiliation he served his people both as High Priest and Sacrifice: as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Now, through his exaltation, the Lamb has perfect power (symbolized by seven horns) and perfect knowledge (symbolized by seven eyes), especially of the happenings on the earth below (5:6).

The Rider on the White Horse (6): The exalted Lord Jesus Christ, riding out into the earth, by the Spirit, through the evangelizing Church, conquering for the cause of the Gospel, and bent on final conquest: the perfect fulfillment of God’s redemptive and judicial purposes for the world (Psalm 45).

The Three Horsemen that Follow (6): War, economic disruption, and death (both physical and spiritual). These symbolize the judicial consequences of the going forth of the Gospel, and of its being spurned, whether temporarily or finally, by the unbelieving inhabitants of the earth.

The Souls Beneath the Altar (6): The souls of all the martyrs, of those who sacrificed their (physical) lives for the person and cause of Christ. This is the Revelation’s first glimpse of the Intermediate State of the souls of believers who die in Christ. Here, the martyrs are portrayed as being aware of God’s purposes for the earth, and eager for the manifestation of his perfect justice.

The 144,000 Sealed Israelites (7, 14): The universal Church of all times and places, comprised of all the OT saints (12, for the patriarchs) and all the NT saints (12, for the apostles). 12  x  12  x 1000 = 144,000, a number symbolizing both the fullness and the largeness of the universal Church. She is comprised of a great multitude Jews and Gentiles, sealed by God the Father—through Christ, by the Spirit—for eternal ownership, safety, and security.

The Great Multitude Before the Throne (7, 14): The 144,000, but now represented as a great throng that no one could number, as many as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore. Here they are seen in glory, eternally worshiping upon the eschatological Mountain of God (i.e., the new heavens and the new earth), and forever assembled with all the saints and angels before his throne.

The Seven Trumpets (8-11): Seven partial and preliminary judgments of God, falling upon the inhabitants of the earth throughout the Era of Gospel Proclamation. These judgments are designed to warn sinners of the final judgment to come, and to drive them Christ for salvation.

The Three Woes (9-11): Identical with the final three trumpets, these are especially severe judgments, possibly symbolizing unique events predestined to occur just prior to the end of the age. The first and second woes depict increased demonic activity in the earth, leading both to torment and death. The martial symbolism predominating in chapter 9 suggests that these woes are inflicted, in large part, by demonically inspired war.

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Will Christ Ever Spew Lukewarm Christians Out of His Mouth (Revelation 3:16)?

Whatever the Lord had in mind, we now hear him speaking both sternly and lovingly to all: to the faithful, the backslidden, and the nominal. And since most of the Christians in Laodicea fell into the latter two categories, we find him outside of the church, standing at the door, knocking, seeking entry, and warmly inviting all without exception to a fellowship meal with the High King. To the nominal he offers spiritual birth, and to the backslidden he offers spiritual renewal: all on the simple condition of turning around, opening the door, and letting him in. This invitation, while sweet, could nevertheless result in judgment. If the nominal spurn his offer, he will indeed spew them out of his mouth, in the sense of finally severing their external connection with the life-giving ordinances of the Church, and so also from spiritual contact with the Head of the Church (John 15:1-7, Col. 2:18-19). 

I know your works, that you are neither hot nor cold. If only you were hot or cold!So then: Because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am poised to spew you out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:15-16
In what was surely the sternest reproof addressed to any of the seven churches in Asia, the High King of Heaven directed these words to the Christians at Laodicea. How shall we understand them? Were they spoken to born-again believers? And if so, how shall we reconcile them with so many others in the NT, affirming or clearly implying the eternal security of true believers in Christ? Is it really possible that such persons could become so backslidden—so lukewarm—that their Lord, in a dreadful moment of divine disgust, would spew them out of his mouth once and for all?
Since many sincere Christians fear this very thing, we do well to think deeply about these questions. Three closely related points may be made.
First, we cannot understand our passage unless we realize that both Christ and his apostles interacted with disciples not only on the basis of the reality of their faith, but also on the basis of their simple profession of faith.
Some biblical examples will illustrate this fundamental point.
The Lord certainly counted Judas among his disciples, seeing that over and again he instructed him and sent him out to do the work of a disciple (Matt. 10:16-23). However, Jesus knew full well that in his heart Judas was no disciple at all; that he did not believe as the eleven did (John 6:66-73), and that he was not clean as the eleven were (John 13:10).
Again, in his Parable of the Talents the Lord speaks of three different men. He calls all three his servants, and all three call him  their Master. But only the first two were true servants and therefore judged to be good servants; whereas the third was no servant at all, and was therefore judged to be evil and lazy (Matt. 7:15-19; 25:14-30). Much the same is true of the wise and foolish virgins: Both were styled as virgins, and both called the Bridegroom “Lord”. However, the Bridegroom himself only knew the wise (Matt. 25:1-13).
Or again, the apostle Peter predicts the arrival of false teachers who will secretly introduce destructive heresies into the Church, even to the extent of denying the Master who bought them (2 Pet. 2:1). Will Christ truly have bought these teachers? Surely not, for then they would truly belong to him, and would truly love the truth rather than embrace and promote heresy (John 14:16-18). Nevertheless, they will profess that they belong to him. And Peter, in order to highlight the gravity of their apostasy, here takes them at their word, charging that they will deny the Master who (they say) bought him.
In OT times God called all the Israelites his people, for all the Israelites, by natural birth, were descendants of Abraham, the physical father of the OT family and nation of God. However, as the apostle wrote, not all who were descended from Israel were Israel, for not all who were physically descended from Jacob were circumcised in their hearts, as Jacob and other members of spiritual Israel were (Rom. 2:28-29; 9:6; Phil. 3:13-14). In NT times the situation is similar. The Lord calls all professing Christians his people, and relates to them as such, even though he knows that some of them are his people only by verbal profession, whereas others are his people by verbal profession due to spiritual possession. They are his people by spiritual rebirth into the family of God, by possessing the indwelling Spirit of God (John 2:23-25; 3:1-8; 6:60-65; 14:17; 1 Cor. 12:13).
This brings us to our second point, namely, that when the Lord addressed the church at Laodicea, he was doing this very thing. He was speaking to the church as a whole, to all who named the name of Christ. No doubt this included a few fervent born-again believers, but also many backslidden, and many more nominal: mere professors of the faith who in time might be born again, but who also in time might be revealed as hypocrites and/or apostates. In light of this very great mixture, Christ judged that this church, on the whole, was dangerously lukewarm. Therefore it stood in need not only of a sharp rebuke, but also of a strong expression of mercy, grace, and love, plus a sincere invitation to new life in him.
How did the Laodicean church arrive at this dire condition? Let us consider a likely scenario. Early on, at the founding of the church, its members were no doubt much like the fruitful saints in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7). Having just been born from above, the majority were on fire for the King and his Kingdom. Now, however, a generation or two later, the affluence, materialism, and arrogant self-sufficiency of Laodicea have taken a dreadful spiritual toll on the church, with the result that the life and fervency of Christ have all but drained away.
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Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Sevens: A Reformed Two-Advent View (Dan. 9:24–27)

The prophecy of Daniel’s Seventy Sevens—possibly the most difficult in the entire prophetic canon—is a case study in the indispensability of the NCH. Without it, the vision is a maze; a labyrinth from which there is no escape. With it, the way into the open field of truth becomes clear at last.

Note: This essay is a slightly modified excerpt from my book on eschatology, called The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys to the Great End Time Debate. It is drawn from a chapter dealing with the proper interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). There are many such prophecies, and Daniel 9:24-27 is among the most difficult and controversial. As a you will see if you read on (and I hope you will!), I have studied the different views with some care, and settled upon an interpretation that I believe is not only sound, but also inspiring and timely. // In this essay you will run across the acronym NCH, which stands for New Covenant Hermeneutic. The NCH is the method the apostles used to interpret the OT in general, and OT Kingdom prophecy in particular. In order to understand the NCH better, you may want to read this short article first. Also, the acronym DNT stands for Didactic New Testament, and references the distinctively teaching portions of the NT (as opposed, say, to historical narratives in the gospels and the book of Acts, or to the Revelation as a whole). My hope and prayer is that in this essay you will catch a fresh, exhilarating glimpse of the High King of heaven, his awesome plan for the ages, and the glorious inheritance that he has prepared for his beloved Bride.

The year is 539 B.C. Daniel, still in captivity under Darius the Mede, has been reading the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10). He realizes that the 70 years of Jerusalem’s desolation are nearing an end, but also that many captive Jews remain unbroken and impenitent (9:13). They are not spiritually qualified for the great restoration promised decades earlier.
So Daniel prays (9:3-23). First, he rehearses and confesses the sin of God’s covenant-breaking people (9:3-10). Then he acknowledges God’s justice in sending them into captivity (9:11-15). Finally, he makes his petition. Appealing solely to God’s mercy, grace, and zeal for the honor of his Name, he pleads with the LORD to fulfill his promise given through Jeremiah: to restore his City, his Sanctuary, and his Holy Mountain (9:16-19).
His words are not in vain. Even as he is praying, the angel Gabriel arrives and stands before him, declaring to Daniel that God has indeed heard his prayer and answered it. He (Gabriel) has been sent to give Daniel “insight and understanding” about the coming Restoration (9:20-23). In the four long verses that follow, he does (9:24-27)
Are you familiar with this famous OTKP, often referred to as the prophecy of Daniel’s Seventy Sevens (or Weeks)? If so, you know at least one thing for sure: A whole host of commentators have been seeking insight and understanding ever since! In the paragraphs ahead, we will see why.
The Three Main Views of Daniel 9
Close students of this short but complex OTKP know that interpreters differ widely on the exact meaning of dozens of the details found herein. To give but one illustration, Biederwolf cites at least eleven different opinions as to when, historically, the seventy sevens start.1 This is hardly an auspicious beginning! And yet, when we stand back and look at the history of interpretation surrounding this prophecy, we discover something both interesting and encouraging: In the end, the vast majority of conservative commentators espouse one of three main views. My purpose in this section is briefly to introduce them, and to explain why I believe that the Lord is now putting his finger on the one that is true.
1. The Traditional First Advent View (Tfav)
First, we have what I will call the Traditional First Advent View. It has been around from the beginning, and is still popular today. The basic idea here is that the terminus ad quem—the goal or end point—of the seventy weeks is (primarily) the first advent of Christ.
Regarding the seventy sevens, there are differences of opinion. Some say they are 490 consecutive years, a commitment that forces them to look for a viable historical starting point. Others argue that they are symbolic, a commitment that delivers them from unwelcome computations and manipulations. But all agree that the great burden of the prophecy is to unveil the redemptive instrument—the New Covenant, and the Christ of the New Covenant—by which God will make an end of sins, bring in everlasting righteousness, and so create, once and for all, his eschatological City, Sanctuary, and Mountain (24).
How will God do this? Turning to the text itself, proponents of the TFAV reply: He will send a Messiah: an Anointed One, a holy Priest and Sacrifice, who, by God’s fore-ordination, will be cut off for the sins of his people (25, 26). Because of this, he will be able to make a firm covenant with his people—a New Covenant—, and in so doing will bring the Old Covenant sacrifices and burnt offerings to an end (27).
And that is not all that he will bring to an end. For another prince will come—the Roman general Titus—to destroy the former city (Herod’s Jerusalem) and the former sanctuary (Herod’s Temple) (26). This is indeed a divine judgment against the Jews, who rejected their Messiah. But it is also a message from God: Christ’s death has rendered the temple (and it sacrifices) abominable in his sight; therefore, he has decreed its perpetual desolation, a desolation that began with Titus’ assault (27).
There is, however, great good news: When the Messiah comes, and when he makes a New Covenant with his own, then a new City and a new Temple will arise: the Church. As the NT teaches, it is in the Church—and all throughout the Era of Gospel Proclamation—that God will accomplish the great eschatological restoration he promised through Jeremiah, and for which the prophet Daniel so fervently prayed (24).
It is noteworthy that by focusing (more or less) exclusively upon the first coming of Christ, the TFAV view leaves room for, but does not require, a future millennial reign of Christ. Thus, both amillennarians and premillennarians can (and do) embrace the TFAV.
With minor differences among them, E. Hengstenberg, E. Pusey, E. J. Young, K. Riddlebarger, M. Kline, and I. Duguid are all modern proponents of the TFAV.
A Critique of the Tfav
Because of the fluidity—indeed, the ambiguity—of the language of this prophecy, the TFAV seems, at first glance, to open it up quite well. However, upon closer inspection, we encounter some serious problems.
If, for example, the great Restoration envisioned in verse 24 is fulfilled under the New Covenant, why should the terminus ad quem of the prophecy be the first advent of Christ, rather than the second, when that restoration will be complete?
What of the sixty-two sevens referenced in verses 25 and 26: Why do the proponents of the TFAV not pause to consider, with some translators, that the sixty-two sevens might actually follow—and be a consequence of—the coming of Messiah the Prince?
Why do they assert that the “he” of verse 27—the one who will confirm a covenant with many—is Christ, when the person most recently spoken of in the preceding verse (26) is the prince (allegedly Titus) who will destroy the city and the sanctuary?
Why, if the “he” of verse 27 is Christ, does the angel again point to his death here (“He will bring an end to sacrifice and offering”), when in verse 26 he has already spoken of the (alleged) destruction of Herod’s city and sanctuary?
Why, if this is Christ, will he establish a covenant with many only for one week, rather than forever (27)?
Why is the prophecy silent as to what occurs in the last half of the seventieth seven, after Christ brings an end to sacrifice and offering (27)?
And why does it conclude with such a great emphasis upon the destruction of the temple? Is this not an odd way of wrapping up a divine revelation meant to unveil the Messianic restoration of all things!2
Perhaps, then, in light of all these questions, there is a more satisfying interpretation than the one offered in the TFAV.
2. The Dispensational Two-Advent View (Dtav)
The second view is the Dispensational Two-Advent View. Unlike the TFAV, it holds that here Daniel refers not only to Christ’s first advent, but also to his second, when he comes again at the end of a seven year season of tribulation for ethnic Israel. This view has little historic precedent, having arisen in mid-19th century England among the Plymouth Brethren. And yet, for reasons discussed earlier, it has become widely popular in evangelical circles. It is the most complex and controversial of the three interpretations. If, however, we confine ourselves to the basics, it is fairly easy to describe and understand. Let us briefly survey it, verse by verse.
Dispensationalists reckon the seventy sevens of verse 24 as seventy weeks of years; as 490 calendar years. They acknowledge that the six blessings here promised to Daniel’s people are achieved by the earthly work of Christ, and that they will reach their full fruition in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Nevertheless, in a major departure from the TFAV, they do not agree that Daniel’s people and city appear here primarily as OT types of the eschatological People and City of God: the Church. Instead, Dispensationalists insist that Gabriel is speaking primarily of spiritual blessings that God will bestow upon ethnic Israel in the Millennium; in the dispensation of the (earthly, Jewish, and Messianic) Kingdom that is (allegedly) the true theme of all OTKP.
The subject matter of verse 25 is the (events of the) first 69 weeks. These total 483 calendar years. According to (most) dispensationalists, they began in 445 B.C., when king Artaxerxes issued a decree authorizing the restoration of Jerusalem, which was indeed rebuilt in stressful times under the leadership of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:1f). They ended either at the birth of Messiah the Prince or at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Notably, dispensationalists cannot quite make this scheme chronologically viable, and so resort to massaging the numbers involved. Some suggest that Artaxerxes actually issued his decree in 455 BC, while others say that here the Spirit reckons a year as 360 days.3
Along with the proponents of the TFAV, dispensationalists hold that verse 26 speaks of: 1) the rejection and death of Christ, who thereby “has nothing” of his royal prerogatives; 2) the coming of the Roman “prince” Titus; and, 3) the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by Titus’ legions.
However, upon reaching verse 27, dispensationalists diverge sharply from their traditional brethren. Here, they say, the Spirit suddenly lifts us up and carries us ahead to certain dramatic events that must befall ethnic Israel at the close of the present evil age. Obviously, this raises an important question: What in the world happens during the intervening years?
With scant help from the text itself, dispensationalists respond by asserting that throughout this time God is pursuing a different plan for a different people. The plan is the “mystery” of the Dispensation (or Era) of the Church. The people is the Church itself, the Bride of Christ. According to dispensationalists, the OT prophets—including Daniel—did not foresee or speak of either, since their sole concern was to encourage the OT saints with promises of Christ’s millennial Kingdom.
Moreover, they did not foresee still another mystery, one that will bring the Church Era to a close: the Rapture. At the Rapture, God will send the glorified Christ secretly to lift his Bride into the skies above the earth and then carry her to heaven, where she will be safe and secure from the vicissitudes of the seven terrible years now to begin: The Tribulation (Matthew 24:6, 15; 1 Thessalonians 4, 4:13ff; Revelation 7:14).
In sum, dispensationalists hold that God has placed a great “parenthesis”—a huge temporal gulf, now some two millennia long—between the end of verse 26 and the beginning of verse 27. Again, they call this gulf the mystery of the Church Era. When it began, God’s prophetic time clock—his stated plans for ethnic Israel—stopped (26). But as soon the Rapture occurs, it will start to tick again (27)!
What will the seventieth week—the Tribulation era—look like? In reply, dispensationalists take us to verse 27. The “he” with which it begins is not, they say, the prince of verse 26 (i.e., Titus). No, it is the “little horn” of Daniel 7, the Antichrist. This wicked Roman prince will enter into a seven-year covenant with “many” Jews, presumably guaranteeing them certain political and religious prerogatives. However, mid-way into the final week, he will break the covenant by suppressing Jewish ritual worship, “desolating” the (restored) temple with his abominable idolatries, and launching a fierce persecution against Israel. In other words, for three and a half years Israel (along with the persecuting world, as well) will endure what dispensationalists call “the Great Tribulation.” However, Christ himself—at his visible coming again in power and glory—will bring all hostilities to an end. When he appears, he will pour out complete destruction upon the Antichrist (and his followers), after which he will introduce the manifold blessings of the thousand-year Messianic reign upon the earth (v. 24).4
Daniel 9: The Rock of Dispensationalism
Before commenting further, I want very much to emphasize that this text—or rather their interpretation of it—is foundational to the entire dispensational system; that it grounds the dispensational picture of all Salvation History. We can best understand why by considering once again some of the key propositions it involves, propositions that at any number of points put dispensationalism and orthodox Protestantism in opposite corners of the theological ring.
There are at least seven of them: 1) God does not have one eschatological blessing for one new people (i.e., eternal life for Jews and Gentiles, members together of the Body of Christ), but two different blessings for two different peoples (earthly blessings for Israel and heavenly blessings for the Church); 2) the people of God spoken of in OTKP are not spiritual Israel (i.e., the Church), but ethnic Israel; 3) the sphere of fulfillment of OTKP is not a two-staged spiritual kingdom introduced by Christ under the New Covenant, but a future millennial kingdom introduced by Christ under the Davidic Covenant; 4) there will not be one, but (at least) two eschatological comings of Christ: the first for his Church (the Rapture), and the second for ethnic Israel (the Parousia); 5) God has been pleased to use a single OT text (Daniel 9:24-27), rather than a multitude of NT texts, to reveal the true structure of Salvation History; 6) God has been pleased to use a single OT text (Daniel 9:24-27), rather than a multitude of NT texts, to give us the key to the Olivet Discourse, the Revelation, and other major NT prophetic passages; and, 7) God’s Church—both Catholic and Protestant—has more or less completely misunderstood this crucial OT passage, and has therefore misunderstood his Plan of Salvation for some 1850 years!
A Critique of the Dtav
Yes, for dispensationalists like C. I. Scofield, J. Walvoord, L. S. Chafer, D. Pentecost, C. Ryrie, J. McArthur, C. Smith, T. Ice, T. LaHaye, and many more, a very great deal rides upon this distinctive interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27. But is it viable? Our previous study of NT eschatology strongly suggests it is not. Moreover, when we closely examine the text itself, we find a good deal to awaken serious doubts about the soundness of the DTAV. Let us pause again to consider some of the major problems involved.
Is it really the case that the seventy weeks are seventy weeks of years? Do not the particular numbers employed at least hint at a symbolic meaning?
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God’s Wineskin: The New Testament According to the Bridegroom of Heaven

God’s Wineskin contains instructions as to how we may receive certain gifts from God, gifts that we desperately need, and gifts that are meant for our eternal joy. These include the forgiveness of sins, rescue from the peril of eternal punishment, adoption into the family of a loving heavenly Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, free access to God’s throne in prayer, a blessed assurance that he is ordering all events for his children’s good, slow but steady progress in holiness, wisdom and strength for daily living, the sure hope of heaven when we die, and the ultimate hope of eternal life with God in a brand new world that Christ will create at his return. Again, Jesus taught that we all need these gifts; and he knew that many of us thirst for them. Accordingly, he promised that all who drink from God’s Wineskin—and respond to its contents with simple childlike faith—will find that their thirst is slaked once and for all (John 4:13-14).

Note: When I wrote this essay a few years back, my goal was to provide non-Christian readers with a winsome introduction to the New Testament. However, in perusing it afresh, I found myself thinking it might also serve as a helpful reminder to older believers in Christ (including yours truly). Is your first love flagging? Does your walk with the Lord seem more of a burden than a blessing? Have you perhaps forgotten—or not quite fully seen—that the New Covenant is, above all else, a marriage covenant? If so, please join me pondering the word of the Bridegroom of heaven concerning the new wine of the new covenant.
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast at all?” So Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn while the bridegroom is still with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment and the tear will be made worse. Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins, for if they do, the wineskins burst, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. Instead, they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” —Matthew 9:14-17
The New Testament—a single long book comprised of 27 short books, written over a span of some 40 years by eight or nine chosen followers of Jesus Christ, telling us who he was, what he did, what he taught, how he died and rose and ascended into heaven, and what all of this means for Israel and the nations—may aptly be called God’s Wineskin. The New Testament text cited above helps us to understand why.
When the disciples of John the Baptizer came to Jesus, they brought both a question and (it would appear) a complaint. “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast at all?” Jesus’ answer—cordial but firm—is twofold.
The King Has Come!
First, in light of his current presence in the world, it isn’t proper that they should fast. He is the Bridegroom—the long-awaited Savior, King, and spiritual Husband of Israel. How can the friends of the Bridegroom fast when he is right there with them? This is not a time for mourning, but for celebration!
Note, however, that Jesus himself casts a shadow over the celebration: “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and then they will fast.” With the benefit of hindsight, we know what he means. Through treachery, injustice, mob madness, and a shocking death by crucifixion, he and his friends will soon be separated, seemingly forever. And that indeed will be a proper time for fasting. Nevertheless, on the subject of joy and celebration, Jesus is not yet finished. Far from it!
A New Covenant is Coming!
For now he tells them (and us) something further, and something staggering to the Jewish mind. There is another reason his disciples cannot fast: God is now doing something new, something that calls for uninterrupted celebration; indeed, for eternal celebration. He is fashioning a new patch of cloth. He is stitching a new wineskin. In other words, he is now revealing a new and definitive body of spiritual truth. What’s more, by means of this new body of truth he is also unveiling a new and definitive covenant (or spiritual agreement) between himself and everyone on earth who is willing to enter into it.
In the days ahead Jesus will have much more to say about this new covenant. For the moment, however, he is focused on one of its outstanding characteristics: its fundamental incompatibility with the old covenant. And so he says, “No one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment and the tear will be made worse. Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins, for if they do, the wineskins burst, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. Instead, they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Why did Jesus press this point? Why was he so keen on exalting the new wineskin above the old, and on separating the two once and for all?
The Old, the New, and the Eternal
The rest of the New Testament supplies the answer. The Old Covenant was instituted through mere men: Abraham and Moses; the New Covenant will be instituted through the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.
The Old Covenant was an agreement solely between God and Israel; the New Covenant will be an agreement between God and all who trust in Christ the whole world over.
The Old Covenant pictured, promised, and prepared for the things of Christ; the New Covenant gives us the things of Christ themselves, and Christ himself.
Under the Old Covenant, life was characterized by much spiritual failure, sorrow, and penitential fasting; under the New Covenant, life will be characterized by much spiritual victory, joy, and celebratory feasting . . . with persecutions (Mark 10:30).
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Israel’s Last Battle: Ezekiel 38–39

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). 

For many years I have labored in the Word of God, hoping to establish the Lord’s Church in a soundly biblical eschatology. Current events playing out here in the Fall of 2023 confirm the importance our attaining that worthy goal. Otherwise (to paraphrase the apostle) we may be alarmed or suddenly shaken from our presence of mind, whether by a sermon, a blog, or a video, claiming that recent developments in the Middle East signal a Pre-tribualtion Rapture, or that the Day of the Lord is at hand (2 Thess. 2:1).
Demonstrating the extent to which the evangelical Church remains under the spell of dispensational premillennialism, the present war between Israel and Hamas has triggered a number of sermons on the eschatological significance of “Israel’s Last Battle”, prophetically described in Ezekiel 38-39. The goal is to connect this biblical text with supposed fulfillments in the present conflict (see here).
In the essay below I argue that all such efforts are fundamentally misguided; that they are based upon a literalist hermeneutic that does not abide under the discipline of New Testament (Covenant) theology; that the Spirit’s focus in this text is not (primarily) on ethnic Israel, but on spiritual Israel, the Church; and that the Last Battle here in view has little or nothing to do with “wars and rumors of wars” in the Middle East, but exclusively with the world-system’s final global assault upon the Church of God, an assault that will swiftly usher in the Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Judgment, and the advent of the World to Come.
Am I therefore saying that the present war in Israel is without eschatological significance? Not at all. For again, it is definitely one of the many wars and rumors of war that herald the coming of the End, though not the imminence of the End (Matt. 24:6-8).
Also, it is not impossible that the current global attack on God’s OT people is, in fact, the last of the many that have bedeviled them down through the centuries; that in the Providence of God this is the one that will lead (multitudes of) them to repentance and faith in Christ, as Scripture predicts; and if so, that the return of the Lord is indeed at the door, soon to bring with it “life from the dead” for the entire Israel of God and the whole creation (Genesis 45-46; Romans 8, 11; Galatians 6:16).
Here, then, is the essay, and my best shot at opening up its deep meaning for God’s latter-day Church. May it help you and all of God’s eschatological Israel never to give way to fear or be shaken in mind or spirit, but instead to steadfastly occupy until He comes.1

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 and disappointing. Embracing prophetic literalism, they argue that Ezekiel is predicting 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 them. 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 in all Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). For example, the conspicuous use of figurative language warns 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, entangle us in numerous historical anachronisms, and plunge 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 New Testament (NT) 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. 13:24-30, 36-43; Col. 1:13). 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). (Matt. 24:9-28; 2 Thess. 2:3-12; Rev. 11:7-10, 19:17-21, 20:7-10).
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).
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That We Might Live

Like physical life, it’s hard to define. But—leaning hard on Scripture—we can perhaps say that at its heart eternal life is the character and quality of existence that God experiences in himself. Very importantly, this is a trinitarian life—for the Bible reveals that the one God exists as a “holy family” comprised of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is therefore a relational life, marked by contemplation, communication, service, sharing, pleasure, and mutual love.

In this the love of God was manifested toward us,that God sent His uniquely-begotten Son into the worldthat we might live through Him.1 John 4:9
It’s morning on the moon, and you’re liking it less and less.
When the crackling voice on the radio woke you up, you somehow expected to see a tide of golden sunlight pouring onto carpets of green grass. Instinctively, you listened for birds, for water rushing over the river rocks, for saws or cars or kids. Immersed in a childhood memory, you even thought you caught the scent of bacon, cold cantaloupe, hotcakes, and maple syrup.
But now, as you look out the window of your module, you see no movement at all. As you listen for sounds and voices, there is only silence. As your mind imagines colors, your eyes find only black and white. A little flurry of panic hits you as you realize the stark truth: This place is dead.
Almost frantically, you search for Earth.
Ah yes, there she is: the blue seas, the swirling clouds, the shapely continents of land. Family and friends. Hopes and dreams. Life.
It will be good be home.
The Fight of His Life
The plight of our imaginary astronaut reveals something intriguing about “life”: we are so completely enveloped in it that we can barely see it! We live it, we enjoy it, we daily seek more of it. But it’s not until we take a trip to Death Valley, or Antarctica, or maybe even the moon, that we begin to think about “life,” and to realize how strange and amazing and precious it really is.
As in the natural, so in the spiritual: It is usually a brush with death that makes us appreciate the true richness of eternal life.
We see this clearly in John’s first epistle. Writing to the churches in Asia, the apostle went toe to toe with a heresy called Gnosticism, a heresy that denied the deity of Christ, licensed immorality, and encouraged a loveless pride based on mystical “revelations” from above.
Many of John’s close friends had been taken in. Error, fear, and temptation to sin had arisen in their midst. Death was stalking the camp of the saints. So he wrote—passionately—to confront the heretics and to call the faithful back to the true gift of God: eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Where in the World is the World? Natural Science and Cosmic Geocentrism

In such a world, cosmic geocentrism may well be true. Moreover, from many quarters we have received good evidence that it really is true. It is the testimony of common sense (and therefore the testimony of most ancient cosmologies). It is the testimony of the Bible. It is the testimony of sound observational science. It promises emancipation from the confusing labyrinth of Relativity Theory. It holds forth the promise of a new, coherent, and holistic physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. But most importantly, it points us to a wise and powerful divine Creator, one who very much has the Earth on his mind; a God who shows himself to us in his universe; and a God who calls us back to himself through his Son and in his Book.

In the previous essay we examined biblical testimony concerning the structure of the universe. In so doing we found that Scripture consistently pictures the Earth at the center of all, and this for the excellent reason that the Earth and its human inhabitants lie at the center of the triune God’s affections, purpose, and plan for his creation.
Now it is time to consider a second witness in the great debate about cosmic structure: natural science.
In approaching this subject it is vital that we ask the right question. I believe it is this: Do the findings of natural science speak up in favor of cosmic geocentrism? Now if, as I argued earlier, our life in this world is essentially a test of our love of the truth about God and the other great questions of life, then they certainly should. For how could the God who created the universe, life, man, human reason, and human ability in natural science give us a revelation that runs altogether contrary to the genuine findings of natural science? In other words, if the Bible really is God’s word to mankind, its cosmological statements should be reasonable, and—to a reasonable extent—verifiable by means of scientific observation. And this includes God’s statements about the geocentric structure of the universe.
Note carefully, however, what the question here is not. It is not, “Does natural science prove cosmic geocentrism?” Natural science cannot prove any model of the universe, since natural scientists are unable to observe the universe in all places and at all times. So the real question is: “Are geocentric models of the cosmos scientifically plausible? Is there any solid observational evidence to support them? Are they at least as reasonable—or possibly even more reasonable—than the prevailing a-centric model?” Well, surprisingly enough, a growing number of modern physicists and astronomers are now returning an enthusiastic answer of “yes” to all these questions!
In what follows I will touch briefly on the main lines of scientific argumentation favorable to the idea of cosmic geocentrism. There are three: 1) Arguments based on scientific experiments, 2) Arguments based on scientific theory, and, 3) Arguments based on astronomical observations.
Arguments Based on Scientific Experiments
Beginning in the 16th century and continuing to the present day, history displays a great philosophical and scientific contest, initially between geocentrism and heliocentrism, but more recently between geocentrism and relativistic a-centrism. In this contest, certain scientists—most of whom were favorable to heliocentrism—performed experiments that turned out to favor geocentrism. Happily, several Christian writers with scientific expertise have discussed these experiments in considerable depth. In this short section I offer a simplified description of a few of the most important, referring you to my cosmological mentors to study this  subject more closely on your own.1

Airy’s Failure

First up is “Airy’s Failure”. Piqued by certain experiments performed by F. Arago (1786-1853) that were favorable to the idea of a stationary Earth, English astronomer G. Airy (1801-1892) set out to resolve, once and for all, the puzzle of stellar aberration. Aberration is a term used to describe a curious astronomical phenomenon: When, over the course of a year, we observe a “fixed star” in our telescope, its day to day position, relative to its average position, describes an ellipse. Astronomer James Bradley believed that this aberration ellipse proved the revolution of the Earth around the sun. However, proponents of Tycho Brahe’s earth-centered cosmos responded by saying that the same effect could be caused by the motion of the stars around a stationary Earth. Airy set out to prove, once for all, that stellar aberration was indeed as James Bradley had hypothesized: an optical effect caused by shifts in the Earth’s orbit as it revolves around the sun.
Taking up an earlier suggestion offered by Roger Boscovich (1771-1787), Airy filled one of his two telescopes with water. Knowing that light travels 1.5 times slower when passing through water, he reasoned that if the Earth were indeed moving, he would need to tilt the water-filled telescope towards the lower end of the star in order to get the same reading as found in the normal telescope. But to his surprise and dismay, he repeatedly found that he did not need to tilt the telscope at all! To all appearances, at least, aberration had nothing to do with the motion of the Earth. Indeed, to all appearances the Earth is standing still, and the stars, or the heavens themselves, are moving around the Earth. (For an animation describing Airy’s Failure, click here.)

The Michelson-Morley Experiment (MME)

Keenly aware of Airy’s failure, A. Michelson (1852-1931) and E. Morley (1838-1923) resolved to confirm the mo­tion of the Earth through space, thereby also confirming Bradley’s view of stellar aberration. Happily, it now appeared that Providence had given them a means of doing so. Only recently physicist James Clark Maxwell (1831-1879) had developed his elegant (and fabulously useful) theory of electromagnetism, according to which light consists of electrical and magnetic energy passing at a constant speed as waves through a univer­sal sea of tiny particles that he called the ether. Reflecting on this view, physicists like Michelson and Morley soon realized that Maxwell’s fresh understanding of the physics of light supplied a way to test for absolute rest and motion. More particularly, it provided a way to test for the widely assumed motion of the Earth through the ether.
With all this in mind, the two researchers built an ingenious device called an interferometer. The instrument consists of a light source, several mirrors strategically situated on a table, and a detector where the reflected rays of light are gathered after their journey around the table. A beam of light is discharged from the light source, then split at a half-silvered mirror into two beams moving perpendicularly to one another. By means of more mirrors the beams are further reflected and then reunited at a photographic plate situated near the light source. The scientists knew that if there was a difference in the speed at which the light beams arrived at the plate, there would be an “interference”: a unique mingling of the out-of-sync light waves. Photographically, this mingling would show up as a “fringe,” or a pattern of parallel black lines. Accordingly, they reasoned that if indeed the Earth were indeed racing through the ether at 30 km./sec (the assumed speed of its revolution around the sun), then the beam of light heading into the ether would be slowed down by an “ether wind”, rather like a car is slowed by the air into which it is driving at high speeds. On the other hand, the beam of light running perpendicular to the line of the Earth’s motion would be slowed less. On this premise, the interferometer should definitely register a “fringe shift,” and this fringe shift would confirm the absolute motion of the Earth. Indeed, by rotating the table, one could use the maximum fringe shift to show the direction of the Earth’s motion, and also to establish experimentally the speed at which it passes through the ether. (For further discussion, click here)
In the annals of physics the results of this experiment have been described as “convulsive.” Factoring in the supposed motion of the solar system through space, Michelson and Morley predicted shifts of at least 0.4 of a fringe width. However, the maximum change discovered was only 0.02, and the average change less than 0.01. These results were so close to the margin of instrumental error that the two scientists dismissed them as insignificant. Thinking that the motion of the solar system had perhaps cancelled out the motion of the Earth around the sun, they repeated the experiment six months later. Still no change. Documenting their growing desperation, Philip Stott writes, “They repeated the experiment at all seasons of the year. They repeated it all times of the day and night. They repeated it in Berlin, in Chicago, on the tops of mountains, and everywhere. No fringe shift.”
And such would be the case for years to come: The interferometers—built with ever increasing sophistication—would continually register very small fringe shifts, enough perhaps to indicate a slight “ether drift,” but certainly nowhere near enough to vindicate the Copernican notion of an Earth revolving around the sun at 30 km/sec, or a solar system hurtling through space at 300 km/sec. Wrote Michelson when all was done, “This (experiment) directly contradicts the explanation of aberration which has been hitherto accepted, and which presupposes that the Earth moves through the ether, the latter remaining at rest.” Stellar aberration (and parallax) must be traceable, not to the motion of the Earth, but to the motion of the starry heavens!

The Sagnac Experiment

Clearly, the MME supported cosmic geocentrism: the idea that an ether-filled universe is rotating daily around a stationary Earth. However, the geocentric option—which threatened the accumulated “wisdom” of over 300 years of natural science, and which had theistic and biblical implications not at all palatable to most scientists—was simply unthinkable. Therefore, after a short season of more or less desperate theorizing, Albert Einstein advanced what in time would become the accepted way of escape from the geocentric implications MME: the Theory of Special Relativity (SR).
Having grappled with it in my book, I will not pause here to discuss SR. Suffice it to say that in SR Einstein daringly abolished the ether, explaining the “null results” of the MME by arguing that, for reasons unknown, the universe operates in such a way as to keep speed of light [c] kept constant, and that it does this by altering the length, mass, and rate of the passage of time of objects moving relative to one another. Very importantly, this theory rises or falls upon the idea that c is a cosmic constant: that the speed of light remains a constant everywhere in the universe.
Though SR offered (and still offers) no physical explanation for these strange “contractions” of time, length, and mass, many scientists joined with Einstein (and still do). But George Sagnac (1869-1928) had his doubts. A true scientist, he wanted to put Einstein’s theory to the test. So he constructed a special interferometer designed to ascertain whether or not c really is constant at all times. Describing the experiment, Philip Stott writes:
Sagnac built a turn-table with mirrors on it arranged in such a way that a beam of light was split into two beams. One was reflected from mirror to mirror anticlockwise around the table, the other reflected around clockwise. After a complete circuit the beams were recombined in a camera to give interference fringes. Looking at it in a very simplified way, when the table was set spinning there was known to be movement: the beam going round with the turn-table’s rotation would be chasing the camera (which is moving away at speed v) with a relative speed of c-v, whereas the beam going against the rotation would approach the camera “head on” with a relative speed of c+v. If the basic assumptions of SR were correct—with c+v = c-v, and no ether—then there should be no fringe shift. But there was.
Notably, the so-called Sagnac Effect is observed daily by technicians maintaining the Global Positioning Satellite System. Signals arriving from a satellite ap­proaching a ground station do so 50 nanoseconds sooner than those from a satellite receding from the station, though the distances traveled are the same. Thus, in a rotating system, c clearly travels at different speeds—so predictably that if the GPS computers do not compensate for this effect, the system will not work.
In sum, Sagnac showed that c is not always constant, the ether does exist, and the theory of SR is false. (For an animation of the Sagnac Experiment, click here)

The Michelson-Gale Experiment

Performed a few years after the MME, this was yet another experiment designed to test for the existence of the ether. Stott describes it as follows:
[Michelson and Gale] built a tunnel of pipe sections at Chicago. The tunnel was in the form of a large rectangle. They reasoned that if there were an ether, then the rotation of the earth from west to east through the ether should cause a beam of light traveling clockwise round the tunnel to take slightly less time to get around than a beam traveling anticlockwise. If there were no ether, then both beams would take the same time. They measured a difference. Existence of ether established.  
In my book, In Search of the Beginning, I list a number of other experiments, observations, and theoretical considerations indicating that c in the universe is not constant, that the ether definitely does exist, and that SR is therefore in error.2 But to admit that is also to admit that Earth may indeed be at rest in the center of all.
Arguments Based on Theory
In proposing theories, scientists are trying to supply us with models: ways of thinking about the nature and behavior of the natural world. Hopefully, these models will not only help us understand our world, but also enable us to develop technologies useful to mankind. For many years the geocentric model has been out of favor, so much so that most people consider it a relic of the past. However, as we are about to see, for quite some time stubborn natural phenomena are forcing theoreticians to reconsider the heliocentric model of the solar system, and the acentric model of the universe. Not only so, these same phenomena are also forcing them to consider afresh the geocentric model of the universe. Let’s to a closer look.

The Trend Towards Relativity

First up in this part of our discussion is modern trend towards relativity—a trend that, paradoxically enough, restores geocentrism as a fresh and viable cosmological option.
To understand this point, let us consider for a moment the crucial role of the presuppositions that we bring to the study of the cosmos. We know, for example, that in the West medieval cosmology was grounded upon a biblically-based metaphysical presupposition, a presupposition that—with the help of Ptolemy—endured until the time of Copernicus: cosmic geocentrism. However, with Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, that presupposition changed: Now the sun stood at the center of a finite material universe, while Earth rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun beneath “the fixed stars.” Later on, Kant retained a cosmic center, but denied pride of place to our solar system. After that, theoretical cosmology more or less abandoned the idea of a cosmic center, realizing that it was indeed a presupposition, and that the methods of natural science could not, in any case, discover or demonstrate a center, since, according to the Galilean/Newtonian principle of relativity, we are unable to determine absolute motion or rest by direct observation. Finally, Einstein stepped up and made what is surely an enormous philosophical and scientific faux pas: Daringly, he introduced a new metaphysical presupposition: absolute relativity. According to this presupposition, there is no such thing as absolute motion or rest, a presupposition which entails that a cosmic center cannot exist. Modern seekers of cosmological truth should understand that in our day the twin presuppositions of absolute relativity and an a-centric cosmos rule the scientific roost.
Said Dr. Arnold Sikkema:
No physicist I know says that the Earth in any absolute sense travels around the sun . . . Science today does not claim that there is an absolute reference frame in which the Earth is moving. Newton thought that, but after Einstein, no informed scientist still makes that claim.
Similarly, Bertrand Russell wrote:
Whether the Earth rotates once a day from west to east, as Copernicus taught, or the heavens revolve once a day from east to west, as his predecessors believed, the observed phenomena will be exactly the same. This shows a defect in the Newtonian dynamics, since an empirical science ought not to contain a metaphysical assumption [i.e., presupposition].
This is a most revealing statement. Because of the modern trend towards relativity, Mr. Russell faults Newton’s cosmology as unscientific. He asserts that an empirical science (e.g., cosmology) ought not to contain a metaphysical assumption (i.e., Newton’s assumption of absolute heliocentricity). However, if this is so, then surely cosmology ought not to assume absolute relativity. True, we cannot observe absolute rest or motion. Nor can we observe the center of the universe (if indeed there is one). But do these observational limitations really justify our saying that absolute rest, absolute motion, and an absolute cosmic center absolutely do not exist? Surely not, for again, that would be to introduce exactly what Mr. Russell condemns: a metaphysical assumption—a metaphysical presupposition of absolute relativity. This is what Einstein did in his General Theory of Relativity. But, says Russell, he was quite unscientific in doing it. For in the end, the post-Copernican trend towards relativity does not rule out the possibility of absolute motion, absolute rest, or an absolute center; it only confronts us with our inability to observe or ascertain them scientifically. Accordingly, the modern trend towards relativity does not rule out a geocentric universe.
Happily, some modern cosmologists are wise and honest enough to admit this. They include men like S. Hawking and G. Ellis, who confessed that it is impossible to do cosmology without metaphysical assumptions; that their preferred a-centric universe contains an “admixture of ideology”; that they have arbitrarily embraced a “democratic” view of the cosmos, rather than grant to the Earth or to mankind any special place therein. Similarly, we have the words of Sir Fred Hoyle, who declared—albeit rather reluctantly—“The Earth-centered hypothesis is as good as anybody else’s, but no better.” Here, Hoyle speaks for all clear-thinking relativists, openly admitting that the modern trend towards relativity has not ruled out cosmic geocentrism, but has in fact made it a viable cosmological option once again.
However, in one respect Hoyle is surely mistaken. For what if an ever-growing mass of direct observational evidence actually favors the geocentric view? Furthermore, what if the Creator of the cosmos has given us a well-attested scriptural revelation that positively teaches this view? Under such circumstances would not the geocentric model become, far and away, the better hypothesis—and therefore the most reasonable to believe?

The Proliferation of Geocentric Modeling

Since the idea of relativity leads inexorably to a fresh consideration of cosmic geocentrism (and therefore quite possibly to its own demise), it should hardly surprise us that 20th century physics is marked by a noteworthy proliferation of geocentric models. I will briefly discuss them here.
In order to be viable, any model of the cosmos must satisfy two basic criteria. First, it must “save the appearances.” That is, it must enable us to understand and even predict the observed motions and appearances of the heavenly bodies (e.g., the path and phases of the moon, the path of the sun, the Earth’s four seasons, the path of the planets, the retrograde motion of the planets, various “perturbations” of the planets, the path of the stars, etc). Down through the years Ptolemy gave us one such system of celestial kinematics, Copernicus another, Tycho Brahe yet another, and Kepler and Newton another still, until at last the modern turn to relativity seemed to eliminate any hope of arriving at a definitive picture of the actual structure of the cosmos. Might a renewed confidence in the geocentric cosmology of the Bible supply us with such a picture? Perhaps. But for it to do so, it must—like any good model—“save the appearances.”
Secondly, a viable cosmology will also seek to give us a plausible system of celestial mechanics and dynamics. That is, it will try to explain the physical reasons for the diverse motions of the heavenly bodies. Are these bodies attached to revolving crystal spheres that are propelled by angels? Are they moved by invisible gravitational, centrifugal, and Coriolis forces acting at a distance? Are they rolling around in pockets of curved space-time (whatever that might mean)? Or are they carried along by a dense but invisible ether, rather like fish in a revolving fishbowl, or like boats in a whirlpool? Only heaven knows for sure. But on Earth, we do know that the model with the greatest explanatory and predictive power normally carries the day—until a better one comes along.
Again, the twentieth century has witnessed a surprising proliferation of basically geocentric models of the cosmos, all of which attempt to address the above concerns. Very importantly, the majority of these are “secular,” having been developed by scientists with no explicit interest in, or appeal to, divine revelation. Examples here include the work of P. Gerber, H. Thirring, G. Brown, G. Birkhoff, P. Moon and D. Spencer, J. Nightingale, J. Barbour and B. Bertotti, G. F. Ellis, D. Lynden-Bell, and others. The common component in all or most of these models is Mach’s Principle: the idea that if the universe is indeed a bounded sphere rotating around the Earth, this cosmic rotation will somehow generate inertial forces more or less identical with those we associate with heliocentric physics and cosmology: centrifugal, centripetal, coriolis, and Euler. After agreeing on this, each embarks in its own direction. Some are based on Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, others upon classical Newtonian mechanics, others still upon newer physical models. After discussing a number of these, Christian astronomer G. Bouw concludes:
All of these physicists (and there is not a geocentric Christian in the bunch) conclude that there is no detectable, experimental difference between having the Earth spin diurnally on an axis as well as orbit the sun once a year, or having the universe rotate about the Earth once a day and possessing a wobble centered on the sun, which [i.e., the sun] carries the planets and stars about the Earth once a year. In none of these models would the universe fly apart, nor would a stationary satellite fall to the earth. In every one of these models the astronauts on the moon would still see all sides of the Earth in the course of 24 hours, the Foucault pendulum would still swing exactly the same way as we see it in museums, and the Earth’s equator would still bulge. In other words, each of these effects is due to either the centrifugal force, Coriolis force, or some combination of the two, and can be totally explained in any geocentric model.
Such considerations are likely the kind of thing English astronomer G. F. Ellis had in mind when he said, “I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center and you cannot disprove it based on observations.”
Encouraged by these developments, biblically-oriented scientists and philosophers have stepped forward as well. Modern biblical geocentrists include the father of the movement, W. van der Kamp (1913-1998), the heir to his mantle, Dr. Gerardus Bouw, and a growing cadre of thoughtful colleagues including Dr. Russell Arndts, Dr. Robert Bennett, R. G. Elmendorf, Dr. J. Hansen, Dr. Martin Selbrede, Philip Stott, and Dr. Robert Sungenis. Most of these men have daringly devoted a significant portion of their career attempting to rescue modern physics and cosmology from their thralldom to Relativity Theory, hoping to restore them once again to what they see as their true and proper foundation: the geocentric cosmology of the Bible. Their friends call them prophets, their opponents call them “windmill tilters.” Each seeker will have to decide for himself which description fits best.
Most biblical geocentrists (but not all) champion a slightly modified version of Tycho Brahe’s Earth-centered cosmos, sometimes referred to as the Neo-Tychonic Model (NTM). If we limit ourselves simply to the kinematic side of the model (i.e., to a description of the motions of the heavenly bodies), it is fairly easy to understand. Here, the Earth stands motionless at the center of the universal sphere. The moon, whose orbit wobbles slightly over the course a month, revolves around it daily. As for the planets, they do indeed orbit the sun. But since the sun itself is embedded in the ether, it too, like the moon, revolves daily around the Earth. And since the stars, galaxies, and other astronomical bodies are all “centered on the sun” (that is, embedded with the central sun in the same ethereal frame), it appears to us as if the sun were carrying the entire universe around the Earth. Thus, the Earth truly is at the center, since the moon, the sun, the planets, the stars, the galaxies—the universe as a whole—all revolve around the Earth once a day!
Kinematically speaking, this model is the exact equivalent of the traditional heliocentric view, but with the Earth standing still and everything else in motion. Accordingly, its proponents argue that it does everything the traditional model does. In particular, it is held to account for the observed motions of the planets (including their retrograde motions), the phases of the planets, the phases of the moon, and stellar parallax, commonly held to be one of the definitive proofs of heliocentrism. But as we are about to see, it may do even more, since the NTM is uniquely able to accommodate the various observational evidences favorable to cosmic geocentrism, and since it also proffers a fresh, holistic understanding of the physics of the universe.
Turning now to the dynamic side of the NTM, we find considerably less agreement and considerably more speculation, some of which is quite challenging for the layman to understand. We cannot, however, overly fault the geocentrists on this point, since, unbeknownst to many, the situation in the larger scientific community is certainly no better, and perhaps worse. Yes, with the help of Newton’s equations any physicist can give a basic mathematical description of how gravity and inertial forces work (on the Earth, at least). But the well-kept secret of modern science is that there is little if any agreement as to why, physically speaking, they work as they do—and no end to the resulting hypotheses and speculations about them. Here, then, is where the geocentrists may actually have a leg up on their secular peers: Though they are not yet fully united around a single theory of cosmic dynamics, they are at least pretty much agreed in eschewing the bizarre relativistic world of Einstein in favor of a simple, underlying physical cause for the dynamics of celestial motion.
To get a feel for this cause, let us briefly consider some of Robert Sungenis’ thoughts about the structure of the cosmos. According to Sungenis, the Earth lies at the center of a spherical rotating universe full of ether particles. He likens this universe to an immense gyroscope whose enormous mass locks the central Earth in place in the midst of all. But what exactly does he mean by “the universe” and “the mass of the universe”?
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It Will Not Come Until: Understanding 2 Thessalonians 2:1–14

One day up ahead Satan will unveil his man. When he does, few on earth will discern or resist him since his person and work will hew so closely to Person and Work of the true Christ. Like Christ, the Antichrist will have a coming and a revelation. Like Christ, he will have a spiritual father who leads and empowers him. Like Christ, he will perform supernatural signs and wonders. Like Christ, he will proclaim a gospel of salvation. 

For all its doctrinal complexity, this lengthy eschatological text was written primarily out of deep pastoral concern. As verses 1–2 make plain, a rumor was circulating among the Thessalonian house churches to the effect that the Day of the Lord had come: that it was imminent. Since this rumor was troubling the brethren, distracting them from their spiritual mission and daily responsibilities, Paul addressed it pointedly. His message is clear: The Day of the Lord will not come until certain things happen first; until certain unmistakable signs appear on the historical horizon. Therefore, until you see those signs, stand firm (v. 15) and stay busy (v. 17; 3:6–13).
Because this passage informs the Church about important events leading up to the Consummation, it demands close attention. My approach will be to give the gist of each section and to spotlight the many characteristics indicating that Paul presupposed a single Consummation at the Parousia of Christ.
An Urgent Request (vv. 1–2)
Verses 1–2 give us the apostle’s urgent request. The subject matter is threefold: The Coming of Christ (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23), the gathering together of the saints to him (i.e., the “Catching Up” of 1 Thess. 4:17), and the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2). Dispensationalists assert that the gathering together is distinct from the Day of the Lord, with seven years between the two. But Paul says no such thing. On the contrary, the juxtaposition of these closely related subjects makes it quite clear that he has in mind a single Consummation. Yes, each is a discrete event; but the discrete events are elements of a single Momentous Event. If the concerned apostle and pastor thought otherwise, would he not have said so?
As for the request itself, it may be paraphrased thus: “Don’t let any evil spirit, any false teaching or prophecy, or any fake letter as if from one of us apostles persuade you that the Day of the Lord has come, and so shake you from your proper spiritual composure” (see Mark 13:5–6). Concerning the crucial verb “has come,” the NIV Study Bible well remarks: “Obviously, Christ’s climactic return had not occurred, but Paul was combating the idea that the final days  had begun and their completion would be imminent.” “No,” says the apostle, “certain things must happen first; certain signs must appear on the stage of history.” This simple truth, directly contradicted by dispensational teaching on the Rapture, is of great importance for all of God’s people, but especially for those who will live and serve in the last of the last days. By holding firmly to it, Christians should be well able to keep their cool, even at the end of the world.
It Will Not Come Until (vv. 3–5)
What exactly are the telltale signs that will enable them to do so? In the Olivet Discourse the Lord had identified several. Here, Paul focuses on just two, presumably because they are especially important and will occur closest to the end. They are the rebellion (Greek: apostasia) and the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness (or the Antichrist).
Concerning the first of these, it is true that the New Testament anticipates a large-scale apostasy, or falling away from the (profession of) faith, at the time of the end (Matt. 24:10–12; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1–9). Here, however, the close association of the apostasia with the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness strongly suggests a causal relation. If so, it is surely best to follow the NIV and ESV in translating apostasia as rebellion. On this reading, Paul is saying that the Day of the Lord will not come until the corrupt world system fully and finally rebels against the Law and Gospel of God, paving the way for Satan to go public with his counterfeit christ, and for the fallen world system to follow after him (vv. 10–11; Matt. 24:12; Rev. 13:3).
As for the Man of Lawlessness, Paul draws freely upon OT prophecy to give us the gist of his character and very short career (vv. 3–4; Dan. 7:8, 20–21, 25; 9:26–27; 11:36). Though Paul does not use the word, it is clear that he thinks of this man, above all, as an antichrist. As the apostle John would put it, he is the final human embodiment of “the spirit of Antichrist,” and so is the Antichrist himself (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3).
Very importantly, the Greek word anti means against or instead of. We see both meanings here and throughout our text. The Man of Lawlessness will act against Christ, even as he blasphemously tries to act instead of Christ as the appointed prophet, priest, and king of the world. Verses 3–5 give us several illustrations of this all-pervading motif.
Like Christ at his first and second comings, the Man of Lawlessness will be revealed in his proper time; his time, however, will be (cut) short, since he, unlike Christ, is “a son of destruction”—that is, a man “doomed to destruction” (v. 3; 2 Thess. 1:7; 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 1 John 3:2).
Unlike Christ, who loved the Father and delighted to do his will, the Man of Lawlessness will oppose every so-called god or object of worship, including the one true living God and his divine Son (vv. 4, 8; John 8:28; Heb. 10:7). He will stand against the triune God and his people.
Finally, acting instead of Christ, the Man of Lawlessness will exalt himself, “taking his seat in the sanctuary [or, temple] of God, displaying himself as God” (v. 4). This verse calls to mind the sin of (the archangel?) Lucifer, who, from the very beginning, has sought to exalt himself above God, and to usurp the worship that properly belongs to the LORD (Is. 14:13–14; Matt. 4:9). In the Man of Lawlessness—who will present himself as God incarnate—he (Satan) will briefly achieve his goal: The whole (unregenerate) world will worship him (Rev. 13:8).
This, I believe, is the sense of Paul’s words about “the sanctuary,” (Greek, naos: the inmost, and therefore most sacred, part of a temple). He is not looking for the Man of Lawlessness to seat himself in the temple at Jerusalem, from which, in Paul’s day, he could hardly have been expected to gain a worldwide following. Still less is he looking for him to seat himself in the Church, since at the time of this letter the Church had neither institutional status nor spiritual credibility in the eyes of the Gentile world (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21). Rather, he is simply looking for the Man of Lawlessness to present himself as God incarnate, thereby seating himself in the place of the universal worship rightfully belonging to God and Christ (Is. 14:13-14).
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Where in the World is the World? The Bible and Cosmic Geocentrism

In [this] survey of biblical teaching on the structure of the universe we have encountered an impressive body of evidence favorable to the idea of cosmic geocentrism. This includes the Bible’s foundational cosmological passage (Genesis 1:1-19); passages that depict the Earth as being at rest and immovable in the midst of all; passages that depict the sun (and the stars) as revolving around the Earth; Joshua’s Long Day, along with extra-biblical evidences for it; Messianic types indicating that the sun daily encircles the globe; and passages depicting the Earth as the only “world” in the world to come. 

Note: This is the first of two essays dealing with cosmic geocentrism: the idea that the Earth sits at rest at the center of a rotating universe. Here we deal with biblical testimony favorable to cosmic geocentrism, in the next with the scientific. I have extracted the material for these articles from my book on biblical cosmology, In Search of the Beginning: A Seeker’s Journey to the Origin of the Universe, Life, and Man (Redemption Press). That book contains copious end-notes (not included here) and much additional information about the development of modern cosmological views, and also about the scientific evidence—often suppressed—supporting cosmic geocentrism. If you find this subject of interest, please consult the longer work, and also the resources that I have linked to remarks you will read below. God bless you as you embark on your journey to the center of the universe!
The world is firmly established: It cannot be moved.—Psalm 93:1
Modern Man is lost in the cosmos. He is told by the experts that space is curved and expanding; that the universe is perfectly homogeneous and isotropic (i.e., that it is the same, and looks the same, no matter where you happen to be in it); that it has no center, no edges, and no place special or more important than any other. Believing all this, most folks have no definite sense for the structure of the universe, or for their place in it. Quite literally, they no longer know where in the world they are. And if they no longer know where they are, how can they possibly feel at home where they are?
Giving picturesque expression to this modern mood of cosmic displacement, H. L. Mencken once complained, “The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.”
Carl Sagan agreed (philosophically, if not astronomically), confidently declaring that man’s inheritance from modern science is the humiliating realization that ” . . . we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”
And yet it has not always been so. Medieval man, for example, was actually quite at home in the cosmos, dwelling securely beneath God’s heaven and envisioning himself at the center of a finite, spherical universe, lovingly set and kept in motion around the Earth by the Father of lights (James 1:17). So too were many of his Catholic and Protestant descendants.
But then came Copernicus, and after him Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. And with these, the dominoes began to fall: first, the Earth-centered universe, then the finite universe, then the sun-centered universe, then the created universe; and finally the creator of the universe himself. Said the poet Goethe after much of the damage had been wrought:
Among all the (scientific) discoveries and (new) convictions, not a single one has resulted in deeper influence on the human spirit  than the doctrine of Copernicus…Humanity has perhaps never been asked to do more. For consider all that went up in smoke as a result of this change becoming consciously realized: a second paradise (i.e., a coming Kingdom of God), a world of innocence (i.e., Eden), poetry and piety, the witness of the senses, and the conviction of a poetic and religious faith.
And Goethe was not alone in this gloomy assessment. Contemplating the collapse of the ancient biblical worldview and all the spiritual wreckage it would surely bring in its train, Anglican priest and poet John Donne lamented, “Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone!”
Subsequent history bears out the testimony of these seers. The Copernican revolution did indeed eventually bequeath to modernity an essentially beginningless, structureless, purposeless, and godless cosmos, in which the Earth and man henceforth appear as cosmic specks, meaningless accidents wandering aimlessly about in the void. All coherence—and all comfort—was indeed gone.
Now given this dismal outcome, alert spiritual seekers, tender to the importance of optimism and hopefulness in any viable worldview, may well find themselves asking: Could it be that we have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way? Might we even have erred at the Copernican crossroads? Could it be that in abandoning cosmic geocentrism we have lost something precious that the Unknown God (i.e., the God who reveals himself in nature and conscience) actually intended his dear human children to enjoy: a sense of place, a sense of importance, and a sense of being at home in the midst of his creation?
The Test Perspective (i.e., the idea that our life is a test from the Unknown God, who, in a world of religious diversity, is testing of our love of the truth about ultimate religious and philosophical questions) boldly answers all these questions in the affirmative. For if, as I have suggested earlier, our spiritual hunger to behold the beginning of the universe comes from the Unknown God, then surely our corresponding hunger to know something about its structure—and to situate ourselves comfortably in its midst—must come from him as well. And if (as the labors of the scientists abundantly attest) we are by nature eager to look upon and contemplate these things, is it not reasonable to expect that a revelation from the Unknown God will enable us to do so, at least in some small measure? Here, then, we find yet another occasion for suspecting that the Unknown God may well be speaking to us in the Bible. For as we have already seen, the Bible does indeed give us a clear revelation, not only of the beginning of the universe, but of its basic structure as well.
The Bible and Cosmic Structure
Concerning this fascinating question, three preliminary points must be made.
First, experience proves that it is difficult to glean from the Bible a detailed picture of the (structure of the) universe. Partly, this is because the data is limited; partly, it is because that same data is amenable to different interpretations. As a result, many questions still remain open. For example, do the waters above the expanse (Genesis 2:6-7) serve as the outer boundary of the atmosphere, or as the outer boundary of the universe itself? Does the third heaven—the abode of God’s continuing self-revelation to the angels—exist somewhere within the expanse of space, or in a “hyperspace” situated just beyond our own, or as another dimension altogether (yet mysteriously related to our own)? Is the expanse of space empty (i.e., a true vacuum), or is it full (i.e., a plenum, filled with an invisible substance such as the light-bearing ether of 19th century physics)? Is space “curved” (as Relativity Theory argues) or “flat” (as Euclid and common sense assert); and is it static or expanding? Is the universe bigger than we have yet to imagine, or smaller than we have been led to believe?
To these and other fascinating questions the Bible may well give definite answers; but again, experience proves that those answers are elusive, and that consensus is difficult to achieve. Thus, it seems fair to conclude that the Bible does not readily yield a detailed picture of the structure of the universe.
But secondly, despite all this, it is indeed possible to glean from the Bible a reasonably clear picture of the basic structure of the cosmos. Believing this to be so, I would not agree with biblical creationist Gerald Aardsma when he asserts, “The Bible provides no explicit teaching on any questions relating to the form of the universe.” On the contrary, it seems to me that the Bible provides quite a number of concrete and spiritually comforting facts about cosmic structure. Admittedly, some of these must be inferred from the text. Yet down through the years—and especially prior to the Copernican revolution—multitudes of interpreters have made these “good and necessary” inferences, and have therefore reached a significant degree of consensus.
Chief among such basic facts is what I will henceforth call the radical geocentrism of the cosmos, the focus of our attention in these essays. It is crucial to define this idea carefully. As I see it, the biblical revelation of radical cosmic geocentrism involves at least the following five elements: 1) Our habitable Earth lies at (or very near) the geometric center of a spherically symmetrical universe, a view technically referred to as geocentrism; 2) the Earth sits motionless, or at absolute rest, at the center of this universe, a view technically referred to as geostationism. These two ideas imply, of course, that the Earth neither rotates on its axis beneath the “fixed stars,” nor revolves in an orbit around the sun, nor revolves around the center of the Milky Way, nor moves through space with the Milky Way, etc.; 3) the heavenly bodies (i.e., sun, moon, planets, stars, galaxies, etc.), though not necessarily without limited motions peculiar to themselves, nevertheless all orbit the Earth once a day from east to west. The essential idea here is that the universe itself revolves around the Earth, somehow carrying all the heavenly bodies (and their peculiar motions) along with it; 4) this revolving universe is finite, since, quite apart from the direct biblical testimony to this effect, it is self-evident that an infinite universe cannot revolve daily around the Earth, and 5) the radical geocentrism of the physical creation is laden with spiritual meaning, having been designed to reflect the existence, wisdom, and power of the creator, as well as the centrality of the Earth’s inhabitants in his affections and purposes.
Now if all this may be justly deduced from the Bible, one would certainly have to concede that we have indeed been given a clear picture of the basic structure of the universe. Moreover, it is a picture clear enough to make even a little child feel at home in the cosmos—and very important to the divine head of the household!
This brings us to our third point—and to a fact that will come as a surprise to no one—namely, that a radically geocentric understanding of the physical universe is highly controversial, more even than the alleged 6,000 year age of the creation. Just to contemplate such a universe is to completely go against the grain of some 300 years of scientific “common sense.” Indeed, it is to invite charges of abject scientific ignorance and/or religious fanaticism, as though one held that the Earth is flat, or perched on the back of a cosmic turtle. Most assuredly, no son of modernity can fail to be scandalized by the geocentric thesis.
And yet, if that son is a true seeker—and a seeker who truly hungers to find his place in the universe—he will be unable to dismiss it out of hand. Why? Because the biblical signs (i.e., the manifold body of God-given supernatural signs bearing witness to Christ and the Bible) have instilled in him a sense of the trustworthiness of the Hebrew Scriptures. Accordingly, his proper course of action in this matter will soon become clear. First, he must determine if the Bible really does teach radical geocentrism (for some who love the Book say that it does not). And second, if he finds that it does, he must determine whether this teaching has any scientific credibility at all. That is, he must see if the Unknown God has graced the idea of radical geocentrism with enough theoretical and observational support to make it scientifically reasonable to believe.
Needless to say, this will be another daunting—and fascinating—journey. In an effort to point the way, I will now offer a few remarks on the first of these two important questions.
The Testimony of the Bible
Does the Bible really teach radical cosmic geocentrism? Or is Dr. Aardsma correct when he claims that the Bible contains no clear teaching on the physical form of the universe? A careful consideration of several different (classes of) texts will enable the seeker to make his own informed judgment on this important question.
1. The Genesis Cosmogony
First and foremost, we have the Genesis cosmogony itself, and especially the material found in Genesis 1:1-19. This passage is, of course, explicitly cosmological, as opposed, say, to the more poetic statements of the Psalms and the Prophets. Moreover, because of its placement at the very head of biblical revelation, it is clearly of first importance in determining the biblical testimony about the structure of the universe. With the question of cosmic geocentrism in mind, let us survey this foundational passage with some care.
Verse 1 is best read as a heading and summary statement. That is, it gives us the gist of all that the writer is about to tell us in verses 2-31; the gist of all that God did when he created “the heavens and the earth,” or what today we call “the universe.”1
In verse 2 we meet the object of God’s primordial creation, what the writer referred to as “the Deep.” It appears to be an enormous sphere of water, standing silent and motionless amidst absolute darkness. Possibly, it is suspended in empty space (see Job 26:7). However, subsequent verses suggest a far different interpretation: that the Deep is the immense physical body within which the womb of space (i.e., the expanse) will be opened up on the second day of creation. Note carefully that the Spirit of God alone is moving—moving upon the face of the Deep.
In verses 3-5 we have the creation (or sudden appearing) of a bank of primordial light. Like the Spirit of God (who is its ultimate source), this light also seems to be moving. Indeed, how else can we picture it except as revolving around the still motionless face of the Deep, thereby introducing the first day and the first night, and thus instituting the fundamental unit of Earth time?
In verses 6-8 we have the creation of the expanse (or firmament). This begins the account of the creation of the heavens, mentioned in verses 1 and 8. Here we can readily envision God separating or pushing back the waters in such a way as to create spherically concentric envelopes of: 1) air, 2) clouds (or water vapor), 3) space, and 4) water or ice serving as the outermost edge and boundary of the universe. In other words, this passage gives us a strong impression of the Earth-centered sphericity of the universe. 
Importantly, this impression is confirmed by a number of other biblical texts that refer to the sky as a vault or dome (Job 22:14, NIV; Amos 9:6, RSV), and also as a canopy (Job 36:29, NKJ; Isaiah 40:22, NIV). Note also that the sphericity of the sun, moon, stars, and planets—clearly visible to the naked eye—only adds to our common-sense impression that space itself is spherical, and that Gen. 1:6-8 presupposes this very thing.
In verses 9-13 the focus is upon the creation of the earth, first mentioned in verse 1. Here, God first brings forth (i.e., creates and raises up) the dry land (or earth) out of the waters beneath the heavens, waters that will henceforth be called the seas (v. 10; 2 Peter 3:5). Then, with a view to the service of man (and the animals), he brings forth from the dry land grass, vegetation, and fruit, some of which he will later designate as man’s appointed food (vv. 29-30).
Finally, in verses 14-19 we have the creation of the luminaries on the fourth day: the sun, moon, and stars. This paragraph completes the account of the creation of the heavens. Here the text strongly encourages us to envision God as not only imbedding the luminaries in the expanse (v. 17), but also as setting them in orbit around the still motionless Earth that they will henceforth serve. This important conclusion flows logically from several biblical considerations.
First, it is evident that the luminaries are designed to supplant the revolving bank of light that marked out the Earth’s first three days. This leads naturally to the conclusion that they too revolve around the Earth.
Secondly, in describing their function, the text treats the different luminaries as a unit: all give light upon the earth, all are for telling time, all serve as signs, etc. Presumably, then, all share the same basic motion as well: All revolve around the Earth.
Thirdly, it is highly counterintuitive to imagine that God, on the fourth day, would suddenly set a stationary Earth in motion around the sun. Intuitively, we feel instead that the member of the Earth-sun system that was created first should remain the stationary member—that it should serve as the center—while the other member should become an orbiting “planet,” (from the Greek planao, to wander). Along these lines, note once again that the luminaries are expressly designed to serve the Earth. How, then, shall the Earth subserviently revolve around any of the heavenly lights, including the “greater light” that we call the sun?
Finally, we do well also to observe that the Genesis cosmogony puts life and man only upon the Earth. The uniqueness of the Earth in this regard further inclines the reader to view it as central: central in God’s affection, purpose, and plan—and therefore central in his cosmos.
In sum, we find that the Bible’s premier, foundational, and most explicitly cosmological text, Genesis 1:1-19, positively drips with radical geocentrism. Admittedly, it is not explicitly stated; but it is everywhere implied. Moreover, as we are about to see, subsequent biblical texts go on to make explicit what remained implicit in the all-important cosmogony of Genesis 1-2.
2. An Earth at Rest
We come now to a class of passages that affirms cosmic geocentrism by depicting the Earth as being at rest and immovable in the universe. Importantly, these texts seem clearly to presuppose and reflect the cosmology of Genesis 1. In particular, they are designed to glorify God as the divine sustainer of the world. He who in the beginning set the world “in its place” (Job 9:6) is here depicted as the One who keeps it there, safe and sound, day by day, until all is accomplished and the end (i.e., ultimate goal) has come.
Such passages are numerous. The Psalmist declared of God, “You laid the foundations of the Earth so that it should not be moved forever” (Psalm 104:5). Similarly, David said, “Tremble before Him, all the Earth. The world also is firmly established: It shall not be moved” (1 Chronicles 16:30). And again, David proclaims, “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty. The LORD is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. The world is firmly established: It cannot be moved” (Psalm 93:1, 119:90). The message of such texts is uniform and clear: The mighty creator God has anchored the Earth securely in its proper place beneath the sun, moon, and stars, all of which go about in their courses above (Judges 5:20; Psalm 19:5-6; Ecclesiastes 1:6). Though hell itself should come against it, he will hold it to its place and to his purposes. His obedient and trusting people may rest assured.
Now it is true that a few texts envision the Earth as moving (Psalm 99:1), shaking (Isaiah 2:19-21, 13:13; Haggai 2:6), tottering (Isaiah 24:20), reeling to and fro (Isaiah 24:19-20), and even as fleeing before he face of Christ (Revelation 20:11). While the language here is somewhat figurative and hyperbolic, it is nevertheless clear that these texts do indeed speak of the Earth moving. However, in each case the thought is of the Earth being temporarily moved out of its normal resting place by the end-time judgment(s) of God. Isaiah gives us an excellent illustration of this point:
I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make man scarcer than fine gold, more rare than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the Earth will move out of her place at the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger. —Isaiah 13:11-13
Again, this text and the others like it actually support the idea of cosmic geocentrism, seeing that they presuppose a static, immobile Earth as the divine norm. From where will the LORD move the Earth? From her appointed place, which is a place of rest. Such texts reveal the assumption of all the biblical writers, namely, that the Earth is not like the other heavenly bodies, for it alone lies at rest in the midst of the cosmos; it alone, in one form or another, will remain forever; it alone is the privileged, stationary footstool for the feet of him who sits unmoved upon heaven’s throne (Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34-35; cf. Genesis 28:12).
3. A Sun in Motion (and the Stars as Well)
This class of passages, strictly interpreted, proves challenging indeed for all who have imbibed modern heliocentrism. I refer to a largish number of texts stating or strongly implying that within the Earth-sun system it is the sun that moves. Moreover, the assumption here, as we just saw, is that the sun is in motion relative to an Earth at absolute rest. This was the tenor of Genesis 1:2-19, the basis of Hebrew cosmology. In the passages we are about to consider, that tenor is specified and confirmed in remarkable detail.
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