Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Take a stick to it (Gelen Esinleme 11)

The first verse of this chapter provides an important clue as to when it was written:
Bana, değneğe benzer bir ölçü kamışı verilip şöyle dedi, "Git, Tanrı'nın tapınağını ve sunağı ölç, orada tapınanları say.
Today's word list:
  • değnek -- stick, rod, cane
  • benzer -- like a (this is a "post-position." English speakers need to learn to think backwards when learning Turkish -- and vice-versa. It's like a preposition, except it comes after the word it points to!)
  • ölçü -- measure, measurement. ölçmek -- to measure.
  • kamış -- reed
  • tapınak -- temple
Derek Prince, the great pentecostal Bible teacher, once compared a certain Biblical doctrine to a vest. If you get the first button in the right buttonhole, the rest all fall neatly into place. I disagree with the doctrine he applied this metaphor to, but the word picture is useful here.

What is the significant element in this verse? The temple. John writes about it as though it were there. So this opens the door to two possibilities:
  1. The temple was there, and this book, and probably the entire NT canon, was completed before AD 70, when the temple was destroyed.
  2. John wasn't writing to the folks he said he was writing to, the seven churches he was responsible for in Asia Minor (Anatolia), but to folks living thousands of years later, when another temple has been built.
American atheists assert that Jesus and Paul were false prophets, since they spoke of something dramatic that would happen within a generation of our Lord's death, burial and resurrection. The fertilizer would hit the air conditioner[1] in such a powerful, obvious, and visible way that the whole world would see God's judgement in the event.

The people I find convincing argue that our Lord's coming "with clouds" does not refer to His second coming in the flesh at the end of history, at the time of the general resurrection. Throughout the Bible, God's "coming with clouds" is used as a metaphor, a word picture, for God's spectacular and visible judgement upon a social order. If we apply this Biblical word picture to the Olivet Discourse, then Jesus was describing the Jewish War, the seven-year tribulation that befell Israel 40 years (one generation) after the prophecy was given. A judgement that culminated in an obliteration of the temple that was so thorough that not one stone was left standing upon another. Well, when the temple burned, the extensive gold plating on the inside melted and ran down between the cracks in the masonry. To recover the gold, the Romans dismantled the temple stone by stone.

So is the New Testament powerfully convincing? Or a little bit silly?


[1] This is a euphemism for the colorful slang description of a messy situation: "Well, the shit really hit the fan!"

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