Bible Bite: Does the Bible even TALK about exorcism?

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I’ve been taking a rest from blogging as of recent (well, this whole past month), mostly because my week has been entirely swallowed up by my weekly preparation of a class I’ve been teaching on Bible study and preparing a Bible lesson/sermon.  As happens in the process of studying, I always stumble across various tidbits and details that get tossed in my drafts folder, awaiting to be made posts some day.  I thought I’d quickly share one that struck me as quite interesting.

I was going through a bunch of scriptures and ended up in Acts 19.  There, in Acts 19, we see this following passage:

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. – Acts 19:11-20

In 19:13, I saw the word “exorcists” and started wondering about what exactly the Bible said about exorcism…so I looked up the term.

Here’s what I learned: Continue reading

Quick Prayer Update…

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It’s been a while since I made my health struggles known.  I first announced my struggles with Hepatitis, then gave an update, and another, and another.  In this whole process, the updates have not come quickly or frequently simply because this has been a symphony of confusion and a rather gigantic waiting game.  I’ll give an update as best I can for everyone (knowing that some of you are probably wondering what in the world has happened to me): Continue reading

Quick News Flash!

I’m live right now, over at the Cripplegate.  I’m responding to a blog post by Justin Taylor where he takes a stab at the idea of a pre-tribulational rapture (He’s a post-trib guy himself).  It’s not much but it’s what I’ve written recently and it may be helpful to some to see a response to what are portrayed as “obvious” arguments against pre-tribulationalism by someone who’s a lot more of a significant personality in Evangelicalism than I am.

I know many of my readers may not know who Justin Taylor is (he’s the senior VP of Crossway publishing and has a rather significant blog in Evangelical circles), or may not care much about end times theology debates, but I was asked to write a response to him and I did…and I’m sharing that with y’all.  I’m guessing nobody’s going to notice my response, but whatever.  For the few dozen people that it helps, it’s worth it.

Off to bed!

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “the fly in the ointment” Unger

Thoughts From Zechariah Part 3 – 1:7-17

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In the first post of this series, I set up the book of Zechariah.  In the second post of this series, I looked at Zech. 1:1-6 and discovered three prerequisites for divine blessing.  In this post, I’m going to walk through Zech. 1:7-17 and unpack three truths for trouble so that you will always remember to trust the Lord.

Walking through the text:

Truth#1: Christ is aware of your plight

- v. 7-11 - On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, “I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses.

- v. 7 -“On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month”

- This is 3 months after the call to repent from Zechariah and 5 months after the prophecy of Haggai.

 – v. 8 -“I saw in the night”:

- One night, Zechariah had 8 separate visions and this was his first.

- Dreams = visual revelation when you’re sleeping.

- Vision = visual revelation when you’re awake.

- behold, a man riding on a red horse”

- When we come to Old Testament visions, people tend to go off in every imaginable direction when things like this come up.

- What does the horse mean
– What does the red mean?
– Who’s the man?

- Quick thinking:

- The Horse

- Ordinary citizens didn’t own horses.
– Kings and wealthy people owned horses, and they were almost exclusively animals of war (oxen, camels and mules/donkeys were work animals).

- What about “red”?

- If a horse is almost certainly a beast of warfare, the red can only be on thing.
– The “red” suggests that whoever this rider is, he has blood all over his horse.

 -He was standing among the myrtle trees“:

- The myrtle trees are common in Israel:

- When they’re far from water they tend to be small bushes, but when they’re near water they can grow to be 12 feet tall or more.
– They’re covered in wonderful smelling flowers and are very beautiful.
– They’re more of a bush than a tree since they have no central trunk, so even when they’re big they’re not useful for their wood.
– They’re essentially only decorative.

- The Hebrew word for “Myrtle” is Hadassah, which was Queen Esther’s Hebrew name. She was named after a beautiful plant.

-“in the glen”

- The glen was a low place, or a hallow, and the lowest place around Jerusalem was to the east where the Kidron Valley and the Valley of Hinnom met.

- This low place was called the Kings Garden, and it was always a garden. It’s mentioned in 2 Kings 25:4, Jeremiah 39:4, Jeremiah 52:7 and Nehemiah 3:15.

- So we have decorative trees and “the low place”:

- That sure sounds like our the King’s Garden, east of Jerusalem, since that’s the only low place where one would find decorative trees.

- ” behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses”

- Sorrel = mixed color, blotched with both red and white.

- If the horse was an animal of war, and the red stuff is blood, then we have a bunch of horses who’ve seen various amounts of battle.
– The red horses are splattered with blood, the sorrel horses are partially splattered with blood and the white horses don’t have blood on them for obvious reasons.

 – Just in case you think I’m not being symbolic enough, we get a partial explanation of the scene in verses 9-10.

- v. 9-10 – “Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’”

 – There’s a spokesman angel standing with Zechariah, and Zechariah asks him a question that the rider of 1:8 answers.

- The rider says that these horses belong to the Lord’s patrolling angels; Heaven’s special ops recon.

- Zechariah doesn’t ask “what are these” because he’s clueless; he asks the question because he’s wondering “Is this what it looks like?”
– The rider basically says “Yes, it is what it looks like!”

 – v. 11 – “11 And they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’”

- Now the riders of the various horse speak up, and the first rider is called the Angel of the Lord.

- Who is the Angel of the Lord?

- It’s Jesus.

 – We look back and know this, but Zechariah is likely thinking of one thing:

- The last time this guy showed up was 200 years ago and he killed 185,000 people.
– This is like hearing a knock at the door, opening the door, and finding the Navy Seals.

- So what’s Zechariah thinking?

- Are you guys here as friends or foes?

- We get a hint from the report that he’s here on friendly business:

- “‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’”

- The riders have gone throughout the earth.

- Rest – The idea here is one of relaxation; all the countries of the earth are sitting down and relaxing like you do after you have a huge meal with friends and family.

- They’re not talking about Jerusalem, Judah or Israel. In this kind of scenario, an absence of bad news is good news.

 – So we have Jesus, commander and chief of the armies of Heaven, getting an update from Heaven’s recon in a secret meeting held under cover of darkness in the king’s garden, and Zechariah’s a fly on the wall.

- This is the answer to the question that has been sitting in everyone’s mind for 18 years: “Doesn’t God see us? What’s going on?”

- No matter how things look, Christ is involved and aware of your plight.

- Christ is not only aware of what’s going on in your life, but he also is passionately involved in what’s going on.

Truth#2: Christ  is Advocating your Protection

- v. 12-15 - 12 Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’ 13 And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. 15  And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.

 –  v. 12 – “ Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?“:

- This is Jesus calling out to God the Father and asking how long he will maintain his anger against Jerusalem.

- This is Jesus advocating on behalf of Israel; he’s their advocate before the Father!

- This isn’t one member of the Trinity complaining about the actions of another; this dialogue is for the benefit of Zechariah.

- The rider on the red horse isn’t here to make his horse more red.

- v. 13 – “And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.“:

- Now Zechariah knows that the Lord has heard the cry for protection that the Angel of the Lord has given, and the time of comfort is now.

- Note how the Lord of Hosts doesn’t answer the angel of the Lord, but rather comforts the messenger angel.
– Again, the dialogue between God the Son and God the Father is for the sake of Zechariah, not for their sake.

- v.14-15 – “ So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.””:

- Zechariah has witnessed an amazing exchange of heavenly dialogue and now gets the spoken message he’s supposed to deliver to the Israelites.

- v.14 – “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion “:

- The Lord hasn’t forgot his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

- The Lord’s anger hasn’t driven him to wrath, and he still loves his chosen people.

- v.15 – “I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease “:

- Not only has the Lord remembers his promises, but he knows the indifference to Israel’s predicament that is occurring among the nations and he’s now stepping forward to comfort and protect Israel.

- Angry – This word carries the idea of turning red. God’s not just slightly miffed; he’s seething.

- This word is used in Esther 1:12 to describe the reaction of King Ahasuerus when he summoned Vashti to come before him and his dinner guests and she refused. He wasn’t happy.

- for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.“:

- The Lord is angry that the nations went above and beyond what he told the to do in the disciplining of Judah.

- Babylon was God’s instrument of discipline to Israel, but God spoke plenty of warning to Babylon:

- In Isaiah 47:5-7, Isaiah warned Babylon, before the captivity, that Babylon wouldn’t listen to their warnings and would show Israel no mercy and crush the elderly
- Jeremiah 50 & 51 comment at length on how Babylon was excessively brutal against Judah and bathed in their blood, and how when God powerfully made himself known to Babylon (through people like Daniel), Babylon rejected Yahweh for their idols.
- Jeremiah 51:59-64 even recounts the tale of how Jeremiah wrote down all the prophesies against Babylon and officially sent them with Seraiah, the assistant of Zedekiah king of Judah, to Babylon to be read and then tied to a stone and thrown symbolically into the Euphrates river to illustrate Babylon’s destruction.

- When God’s purposes of discipline had finished, the nations continued to be cruel to Israel, and the time has come for that to stop.

- Christ isn’t some dispassionate observer; he feels intensely for what’s going on in your life.

- His passions are aroused at your struggles; he’s angry at your predicament.

- So if he is aware and angry, what’s the logical question?

- WHY DOESN’T HE DO SOMETHING?

Truth#3: Christ is Advancing his Plans

 - v. 16-17 - 16 Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. 17 Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’”

- Now the Lord shares his plans for the future in order to encourage Zechariah and the returned captives.

- Zechariah gets 5 promises to encourage him and let him know that, no matter how things look, Christ is advancing his plans.

 – (PROMISE 1) v. 16 – “ Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts,“:

- The Lord informs Zechariah and Israel that he is doing something.

- He’s back with mercy for Jerusalem.

- The Lord declares that the demonstration of his mercy is the completed building of the temple, which took 20 years.

- Ezra 6:15 records how the temple was finished around 4 years later and this promise was fulfilled.

- Yet, there have been multiple temples after the return from captivity. The temple built by Herod in the time of Jesus was even larger, and Ezekiel 40-48 talk about another, even larger, temple that has never yet been built.

- This hasn’t happened yet; this is a coming future reality.
– Christ is still advancing his plans for Jerusalem.

- (PROMISE 2) “ and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.“:

- The next promise is that Jerusalem will be rebuilt.

- Nehemiah 6:15 – 7:4 records the completion of the wall and the fulfillment of this promise..

- Jeremiah 31:38-40 records a time of when Jerusalem will be rebuilt and the valley of Ben Hinnom will be sacred to the Lord and Jerusalem will never again be overthrown.

- Isaiah 62:1-5 speak of a time when Jerusalem’s name will be changed from “Jerusalem” to “Hephzibah” and the Israelites will live in the land of Israel forever.

- This hasn’t happened yet; this is a coming future reality.
– Christ is still advancing his plans for the temple.

- (PROMISE 3) v. 17 – “Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity “:

- The next promise is that not only will Jerusalem be rebuilt, but all the cities of Israel will not only be rebuilt but will be overflowing with prosperity.

- This promise was fulfilled as the Israelites came back to the land and rebuilt the cities.

- This promise was fulfilled in another sense as Christ came to the nation of Israel and, along with his apostles, wiped out all disease and illness.

- The cities of Israel have been rebuilt, but they’ve never been brimming over with prosperity like what is described in Isaiah 60.

- This hasn’t happened yet; this is a coming future reality.
– Christ is still advancing his plans for Israel.

- (PROMISE 4) “and the Lord will again comfort Zion “:

- The Lord has surely given comfort to Zion, which 2 Sam. 5:7 tells us is another name for Jerusalem.

- Jerusalem was indeed comforted when their walls were rebuilt, but this isn’t the complete fulfillment of this promise.

- Jerusalem was comforted with the coming of Messiah.

- Luke 2:25 – Simeon was waiting for the consolation (comfort) of Israel.
– The Jews killed their Messiah and in 70 AD their temple was destroyed and shortly after the city was utterly sacked and the Jews were dispersed among the nations until 1948.
– The first coming of Jesus cannot be the complete fulfillment of this promise.

- Isaiah 51 records how Zion will be comforted again when:

- The Jews look to the Lord (51:1)
– The wilderness around Jerusalem will be like Eden (51:3)
– The ransomed of the Lord will return to Jerusalem (51:11)
– Israel has endured the wrath of the Lord (51:17-23)

- This hasn’t happened yet; this is a coming future reality.
– Christ is still advancing his plans for comfort.

- (PROMISE 5) “and again choose Jerusalem “:

- The idea of “choose” carries the idea of “choosing as God’s special possession”; choosing for salvation.

- This promise wasn’t totally fulfilled in the time of Christ, though Jerusalem was certainly blessed with the coming of Christ.
– Luke 1:16 – “And he (John the Baptist)will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God…”
– But, the people in Jerusalem cried out for the crucifixion of Christ and killed him!

- Isaiah 14:1-2 records how the Lord will again choose Israel, set them in their own land, and give Israel rule over basically every nation in the middle east.

- This hasn’t happened yet; this is a coming future reality.
– Christ is still advancing his plans for salvation.

- All those promises were fulfilled in part with the return to the land, the building of the temple and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

- All those promises were fulfilled in part with the coming of Christ.

- All those promises also have a coming future fulfillment that will occur in the millennium; the thousand year period when Christ reigns from Jerusalem over the entire earth.

Christ is still advancing his plans for Jerusalem, the temple, Israel, comfort and salvation.

- If you know God, you must remember:

- Christ is in the midst of your suffering/trouble; he’s aware of your plight, advocating your protection, and advancing his plans.

- Just like in Zechariah’s day, you my need to receive divine revelation to know exactly what is going on in the spiritual realm…except that divine revelations are neither promised nor even to be expected.  Zechariah got a glimpse into the spiritual realm, but we don’t.  What we do have is God’s inscripturated revelation about those sorts of things happening in the past so that we can learn from the revelation that others have received.

 - If you don’t know God, you must know:

- Reconciliation to God started with repentance and it’s the same today as it was in Zechariah’s day.

- God desires to be reconciled to you: that means turning from your sin to Christ, calling out to him to save you from the coming wrath of God against your sin, and trusting his promises to deliver you from the coming wrath and the grave (via the resurrection of the dead).

Thoughts from Zechariah Part 2 – 1:1-6

anchorHistorical Setting Recap:

- Israel, over their history, had a short time where Jerusalem was the city of God’s blessing, but during the end of the reign of Solomon, things changed radically.

- From the beginning of the divided kingdom, Israel (the northern 10 tribes under Jeroboam) and Judah (the southern 2 tribes of Judah and Benjamin under Rehoboam) were overtaken with idolatry.

- The Northern tribes:

- 1 Kings 12:25-33 tells how Jeroboam, the first king of the northern 10 tribes of Israel, instigated the worship of 2 golden calves in Bethel and Ai to keep the people from going back to Jerusalem to worship and thereby remembering their rebellion against the rightful king and their rebellion against the Lord.

- This continued on through the reigns of 12 kings, over 150+ years of time.

- God sent prophet after prophet to warn both the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom, but nobody listened.

- In 722 BC, 2 Kings 16:6-8 records how the 10 northern tribes were conquered and carried off into exile because of their constant and unrepentant idolatry, and they’re lost in history to this day. Continue reading