Nick Zaccardi – The Third Watch

Book Review:

Challenging Pre-trib Eschatology from a Futurist Perspective

Few topics in the study of Bible prophecy are more controversial than the Rapture. For decades the pre-tribulational perspective has dominated all others. In the past several years though, I’ve noticed that there have been an increasingly number of brave souls willing to question the pre-tribulation dogma from a futurist perspective. Nick Zaccardi’s new book The Third Watch is one such book.

In this book, The Third Watch, Mr. Zaccardi looks at the subject of the Rapture but he does so with a unique (at least to me) approach. That is he looks at the Rapture and the 2nd coming starting with the words of Yeshua first. Then he adds the words of the apostles and finally the book of Revelation.

Frankly, I liked this approach. For some time now I’ve bene comparing the Pre-tribulational perspective with the Pre-Wrath perspective with the realization that the Pre-trib view does not stand on as unassailable a footing as I once thought. Although Mr. Zaccacrdi’s book does not follow the standard pre-wrath template he raised some really challenging questions that my pre-trib brethren should give some serious though to. Though not totally convinced by Mr. Zaccardi’s arguments, nonetheless the has given me some very important food for thought.

For me, the best part of the book was Mr. Zaccardi’s wonderful exploration of Yeshua’s parables. He has some wonderful insights which are worth the price of the book even if you end up disagreeing with his view on the rapture.

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In the spirit of respectful criticism the weakest part of the book in my opinion was Mr. Zaccardi’s explanation of the prophecy found in Daniel 9. Mr. Zaccardi rightly identifies the importance of this prophecy, but the starting point of his interpretation is not rock solid. Here are a few points that need further clarification:

1. Mr. Zaccardi’s starting point is confusing. If I understand his explanation correctly he places the final 7 years in front of the 483 but then does not go on to clearly state when he believed the Messiah came.
2. He ignores the divine command to “restore and build Jerusalem” given by YHWH the living God of the Bible as found in Haggai 1, Zachariah 1, and Ezra 6.
3. Mr. Zaccardi’s reckoning of Biblical time is not clear. The Bible’s calendar is lunar/solar (365.24/29.53). It appears that Mr. Zaccardi uses our modern reckoning of time. His reasoning for this approach would be valuable to the reader.
4. Although I agree with his view that Yeshua fulfilled the six goals of Daniel 9:24 It would have been helpful to have this part of his explanation more fully developed within the overall context of the prophecy.
Considering the important Daniel 9 plays in our futurist perspective it would have been nice to have a more congruent and detailed explanation of how it relates to the subject of the rapture. Although I don’t agree with the chronological framework of his view on Daniel 9, I do agree that this prophecy has greatly skewed the futurist perspective of many end time events. It was good to see someone exploring the 2nd coming and rapture from a futurist perspective without being dependent on the prophecy of 70 weeks. It is my firm opinion that each prophecy of the Bible needs to stand securely in its own rite unencumbered by traditions of men.

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In closing it was good to see this subject through Mr. Zaccardi’s eyes. Even through I don’t fully agree with him, he made some really important observations about the rapture that need to be considered. Once you have considered Mr. Zaccardi’s point of view then I’d encourage you to open your Bible and see if these things be so.

Maranatha!

Author: Nick Zaccardi
Book Title: – The Third Watch: It’s Later Than you Think
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Amy Richter – Enoch and the Gospel of Matthew

Book Review:

  • – Enoch and the Gospel of Matthew

Enoch and the Gospel of Matthew is an intriguing look at the influence of the “Enoch template” on the composition of Matthew’s gospel. More specifically the author Amy Richter explores the possibility that Matthew included the four women in Yeshua’s lineage to draw his readers attention to events described in Genesis 6, events which included the illicit interactions between the fallen angels and women of earth as more fully described in the book of Enoch.

According to Genesis 6 and more completely elucidated in the book of Enoch these illicit affairs between fallen angels and women produce giant offspring who became a terror to the inhabitants of earth. Further these fallen angels taught mankind knowledge for which they were not ready or for which they were never intended. This knowledge include the arts of seduction, metallurgy, and warfare.

Amy Richter describes the theses of her book in this way:

“ This dissertation makes no claims of direct dependency of the Gospel of Matthew on the text of 1 Enoch. However, when examining Matthew chapters 1-2 in light of motifs of the Enoch watchers’ template, evidence of these motifs as background for the Gospel material is apparent. This evidence appears in the frequency with which Enochic motifs can be identified in connection with material in Matthew’s Gospel. The evangelist does not replicate any large sections of 1 Enoch, nor, as mentioned above, does he quote from 1 Enoch, with the possible exception of Sim’s example. However, again and again in Matthew’s genealogy and infancy narrative one finds motifs and allusions to the material that one also finds in 1 Enoch. The number of instances in which Enochic motifs occur even within the first two chapters of Matthew’s gospel, is too great for Matthew not to have been familiar with the Enochic tradition and for these to appear as background material as the evangelist tells his version of the story of Jesus.”

Mrs. Richter spends considerable time explain how she believes the four women in Matthew 1 were included specifically to draw the reader’s attention to the evil with which the fallen angelic host corrupted mankind in the years leading up to the great flood of Noah’s day. This corruption not only included the illicit arts as mentioned above but also include the pollution of the “seed” of mankind through whom the promised messiah would come.

Mrs. Richter goes on to explore the possibility that Matthew contrasts the illicit interactions between the “sons of God” and women and their gigantic offspring with the divinely ordain interaction of the Holy Spirit and Mary the mother of Yeshua. The former unsanctioned affair producing a consuming evil which threatened to destroy mankind and the later affair producing the promised messiah through whom all things are ultimately restored.

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Thought not mentioned by the author there is additional evidence in the gospel of Matthew which may support her thesis.

First the manner in which Matthew arranged Yeshua’s lineage is truly exceptional in the biblical record. This amazing lineage not only provided a detailed listing of Yeshua lineage but it also arranged that listing into three 14 generational groupings. This arrangement of 41 names had the further intriguing result of making Yeshua the 13th generation in the third generational grouping (14x14x13). That this was intentional on Matthew’s part is made clear when it is realized that in order to arrange Yeshua’s lineage in the manner he did he had to leave out four of Yeshua’s ancestors. These omissions occurring in the 2nd generational groupings between the 6th & 7th generation as well as the 13th & 14th generation.

The Jewish reader was unlikely to miss that symbolic nature of this arrangement. 6 bring the number of mankind and 7 the divine, thus this combination making 13. Keeping in mind that his arrangement also made Yeshua the 13th generation, then by his death and resurrection he would symbolically become the 14th generation as well.

Further a reasonable case can be made that the offspring of the women mentioned in Matthew 1 act like chronological markers which point the reader back in a larger chronological context to the events and people surrounding the story of Jared, Enoch, Noah and Abraham.

* * *

Overall this was a fascinating and informative reader which will challenge the reader to reevaluate how they see the gospel of Matthew and the lineage of Yeshua within the context of the Enochian and Noachian traditions mentioned in both the Bible and the historical record.

Author: Amy E. Richter
Book Title: Enoch and the Gospel of Matthew (Princeton Theological Monograph Series Book 183
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Dave Williams – Hope in the Last Days

Book Review:

Our Blessed Hope –

Do you look forward to the unfulfilled prophecies of the Bible with hope or fear? In his latest offering popular Christian author and speaker Dave Williams looks at Bible prophecy with an eye towards the blessed hope. You won’t find a message heavy on doom and gloom as is sometimes the case in other books on Bible prophecy, rather each chapter looks at subject with a clear message of assurance in the promises of God. Sure, the subject of Bible prophecy can be sobering, even frightening in some cases but Mr. William’s shows his reader why the true message of the Bible prophetic word, is Hope.

I really appreciate how Mr. William’s explained the “spirit of Prophecy” in Chapter 3. The spirit of prophecy, its very essence, according to Revelation 19:10 is the testimony of Jesus. As many know Jesus comes from the Hebrew Yeshua. Yeshua in turn is a combination of two Hebrew words. The first, YA, the shortened form of YHWH, the proper name of the living God of the Bible. The second word which makes up our saviors name is Yasha which means to be saved or delivered. So when the Bible tells us that Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, in other words it is telling us that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of YHWH’s Salvation. How awesome is that.

This “spirit of Prophecy” has long been one of my personal tests when evaluating books on Bible prophecy. Is the authors underlying them or message about YHWH’s Salvation, His Yeshua, for all mankind? I’m pleased to say Hope in the Last Days: Be Prepared for the Biblical Prophecy Coming to Pass does indeed pass the spirit of prophecy test. Now that is not to say that I agreed with Mr Williams on all aspects of Bible prophecy, on the contrary I have substantive reservations on several aspects of eschatology as he explained in this book. I’ll address a couple of those challenging subjects in a moment but first here is a sample of the chapters found in the book:

1. History Converges: The Times and the Seasons
2. Avoiding Prophetic Pitfalls and Defining Eschatological Terms
3. The Spirit of Prophecy: How I personally Met Jesus in Bible Prophecy
4. The Prophetic Chronology: Nothing Makes Sense Without This
5. Preview Signs of the Apocalypse: A Sneak Peek Into the Future
6. Last Days Nations and Groups: The Chilling Accuracy of the Ancient Prophets
7. The United States in Bible Prophecy: What the Future Holds for This Superpower
8. 8. The Mystery Nation: You Carry the Power of Another World
9. The Great Secret Revealed: The Mystery of the Disappearance of Millions
10. The Final Shabua: Earth’s Inescapable Hour of Agony and Distress

Overall I enjoyed reading Mr. Williams book on Bible prophecy and appreciated seeing the subject through his eyes. Clearly Mr. Williams has a great love and respect for the subject. Mr. William’s opens this book with some really great advice for studying the subject of Bible prophecy. I quote from Chapter 1:

“We are responsible for diligently studying and being attentive to the true prophecies of God in the Bible. A superficial understanding of God’s prophetic plan for the future leads to chaotic eschatology (that is, the study of the end times). If we start in the wrong place prophetically, we will end up in the wrong place prophetically.”

In what I hope is respectful but constructive criticism there were a few place in this book where I believe this advice could have been applied more directly.

One most important areas where I found this book to be lacking was in Mr. Williams explanation of the prophecy of Daniel 9. After reading this book you’ll get a sense of how incredibly important this prophecy is to Mr. William’s underlying chronological framework of end times events. For example Mr. Williams says this about Daniel 9:24 and the tribulation:

“Almost all biblical prophecies that remain unfulfilled relate to this period in human history when the world will unite under a world government let by the Antichrist.”

In consideration of how important this prophecy is to this book, I felt Mr. Williams did not provide a solid Scriptural basis for his understanding of the 70 Weeks prophecy. Here are a few areas where it would have been helpful to have a more thorough explanation of his interpretation.

1. For those familiar with the prophecy of 70 “weeks” it begins with a “commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” as described in Daniel 9:25. In chapter 4 Mr. Williams tells us this “commandment” was given by a Persian “Artaxerxes” as described in Ezra 7:7-8. The challenge to this position is that nowhere in Ezra 7 does it tells us when the “commandment” was given. The text does tell us that Ezra went up to Jerusalem in the 7th year of Artaxerxes but the date of the “commandment” is not given. I think it is important for his readers to understand how Mr. William arrived at his starting point for this great prophecy using the information found in Ezra 7. Especially in consideration of Mr. Williams admonition that if we start in the wrong place prophetically we will end of in the wrong place prophetically.

2. In chapter 4 Mr. William also explains that there were “exactly 483 years” from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem until Jesus “rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey”. Again this precision is hard to justify without an identifiable starting place. Further during the 2nd temple era the Bible’s calendar was not based solely upon a 365.24 day year. The Biblically mandated calendar was lunar/solar. In other words the Biblical year varied between 12 and 13 months. Because of the accuracy claimed by Mr. William’s I would have been helpful for him to explain how he understand Biblical “time”.

3. By claiming that Artaxerxes gave the “commandment” to restore and build Jerusalem in Ezra 7 this assumes that Ezra and the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus were contemporaries. I wish Mr. Williams had explained how he understood it was possible that Ezra and Longimanus were contemporaries. This is one of those often ignored aspects of 2nd temple chronology that is incredibly important to the prophecy of Daniel 9 and yet it’s nearly universally ignored by most prophecy teachers.

The problem is that the Bible’s own chronology does not support the claim that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of the Persian Artaxerxes Longimanus who ruled Persia from roughly 464-424 BC. According to the Bible, Ezra’s father died in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. This then would make Ezra, at his absolutely youngest, nearly a quarter century older than Moses during the reign of Longimanus. This same unreasonable age would apply equally to many of the priests and Levites of Nehemiah 10 & 12.

As Ed Hindson and Thomas Ice explain in their new book, Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Planthe lifespan of mankind after the flood was subject to an exponential decay curve which resulted in the natural lifespan of mankind being lowered to roughly 70 or 80 years. In order for Mr. Williams explanation of Daniel 9 to be credible, it is imperative for him to explain how he justifies this unreasonable age for Ezra and his contemporaries, especially when the most reasonable and contextual reading of Ezra and Nehemiah does not justify such an extended period of time.

4. Finally regarding Daniel 9 and the “commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” it would only be appropriate to explain why the commandment to restore and build Jerusalme as given by YHWH, the living God of the Bible, is ignored when considering the prophecy of 70 “weeks”. This commandment is the focus of the 2n temple era and is witnessed by Ezra 6, Haggai 1 and Zechariah 1.

In closing my questions and disagreements notwithstanding, this is a well written book on Bible prophecy written from a pre-tribulational perspective. This book is not your average book on eschatology which tells only of the terror which will befall mankind in the coming years but rather its focus is on the “blessed hope” of our expectation found in Yeshua (YHWH’s Salvation).

After you’ve read this book I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.

Maranatha!

Author: Dave Williams
Book Title: Hope in the Last Days: Be Prepared for the Biblical Prophecies Coming to Pass
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Timothy P. Smith – The Chamberlain Key

Book Review:
13 Letters –

In my lifetime I can remember several books which claim to have found secret codes or hidden messages in the underlying Hebrew text of the Bible. Some have been credible other have not. Into this intriguing subject Timothy P. Smith steps with the story of a personal quest to understand an improbable message found in the 30th chapter of the book of Genesis.

The story begins with a clandestine visit to his parent’s attic to inspect the forbidden treasures stored there in its dusty eaves. As Mr. Smith retells, one particular object caught his attention that night. That night he found a heavy iron star which in the flickering candle light sparked a passion for antiquities which set his life on path of exploration and discovery. Years later he would learn that the star his hands had held that night was one of 13 which had adored the nation’s capital in an earlier era. The irony of this does not escape the reader because as you will learn Mr. Smith’s book, The Chamberlain Key most likely would not have been written had it not been for just 13 Hebrew letters.

This is a book which is hard to dismiss. To be honest I’m skeptical, but I want to believe. I’ve never had a vivid dream or vision telling me to do something or go somewhere so that aspect of the story is the hardest for me to accept or believe. Not that it couldn’t be true, the Bible is full of such encounters and tells of more to come in the future.

– – – Spoiler Alert – – – Although this is a nonfiction work, in many places it reads like a thrilling novel with a plot that builds to an amazing conclusion. As a nonfiction work which deals with a religious theme any thorough review should touch on the nature of the subject discussed. If you want to read this book without any such information please do not read any further. – – – –

The easiest part of this book for me to accept is the authors belief, nay his compelling proof, that there is an underlying design to the Biblical text that is divinely ordered. An order that is deeper and more complex than just the inspired words on the surface of the each page. An order which tells of YHWH’s redemptive love for mankind through the promised Messiah.

To me an important test of any book which deals with subjects of prophecy or hidden information in the Bible is the test found in Revelation 19:10. That test is whether the spirit of this information is a testimony of Yeshua (YHWH’s Salvation). I was pleased, actually thrilled to learn that the underlying thrust of this book is indeed evidence that shows the spirit of Revelation 19:10.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the inexplicable link between the author’s personal story and that found in Genesis 30. The story seems well, fantastic. In any ,in reading his story I could help but think of Jacobs 6 sons and a daughter and his love for Rachel. 6 and 7 has an important symbolic place in the Scripture and it is often related to the number 13. In consideration of the important role these numbers play in the author’s story I couldn’t help but think of other places in the Bible where these numbers are found and the symbolism associated with them. Who knows they might be additional lines of investigation upon which to apply the Chamberlain Key. Here are a few examples:

In Genesis 29 it describes Jacob’s love for Rachel and his willingness to serve 7 years for her. The Hebrew word used for love is the word ahabah and means love or to love. This is the first occurrence of the word in the Bible and its numerical value is 13.

To many Jewish people the Shema Yisrael are the most sacred words in the Bible. YHWH is One! In the Bible the Hebrew word for one is echad which has a numerical value of 13. YHWH, the proper name of the living God of the Bible has a numerical value of 26 (2×13). The Shema Yisrael, that YHWH is One, is equal to (3×13) or 39.

And for those who appreciate multilevel meaning encoded into Biblical text I would be remiss if I did not mentioned the lineage of Yeshua found in Matthew 1. Matthew created this lineage of Yeshua by leaving out 4 Old Testament kings thus making precisely 41 names. (13th prime) Further you can prove these omissions were intentional by the location where he left them out. Three of the names were left out between the 6th & 7th generation and one was left out between the 13th & 14th generation. This in effect then made Yeshua both the 13th & 14th generation in the 3rd generational grouping found in Matthew 1. As the Jewish reader would understand this then also makes a connection between the 7 sacred Biblical holydays and the 13 or 14 sacrifices that were required to be made on each of those days. Keep in mind those holydays were ordered based upon a lunar calendar which was internally regulated each month by 13 or 14 days of visible waxing light followed by 13 or 14 days of waning light.

At least to me, it is thrilling to realize that the catalyst for this story to be written, a story which is ultimately about Yeshua Mashiach, was because of 13 Hebrew letters and it is retold in the 14th chapter of this book. To really appreciate the thrilling nature of this irony you’ll have to read Mr. Smiths fascinating journey of discovery for yourself.

“Do not hide Elohim’s truth” Indeed!

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In closing, this is the most unusual book I’ve read this year. It was stimulating, challenging and left plenty of unanswered questions and some healthy skepticism but why shouldn’t it? As they say, life is indeed often stranger and more thrilling than fiction.

Thanks for taking the leap of faith Mr. Smith, risking the ridicule and criticism that is sure to come in order to honor the message found in those 13 letters in the 30th chapter of Genesis.

Author: Timothy P. Smith
Book Title: The Chamberlain Key: Unlocking the God Code to Reveal Divine Messages Hidden in the Bible
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Dr. Michael S. Heiser – Reversing Hermon

Book Review:
Reversing Hermon in Matthew 1 –

I have to admit this is the first book I’ve read by Dr. Michael Heiser and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to read this book, that is, until pursuing C.C. Fenn’s review on Amazon. For sure one of the best reviews I’ve read in a long time.

In any case, I purchased Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ and really appreciated seeing the subject through Dr. Heiser’s eyes. In this book Dr. Heiser elevated the discussion of Genesis 6 from the oft sensationalist speculation to a historical and Biblical grounding which provides answers to several of the Bible’s more challenging passages.

More importantly Dr. Heiser looked at the subject in light of the Spirit of Prophecy, that is, as it relates to YHWH’s redemptive plan through Yeshua (YHWH’s Salvation). In short Dr. Heiser makes the case that Yeshua’s messianic mission included not only the rectification of Adam and Eve’s sin, but also the evil wrought by those of the angelic host who left their intended estate and sowed their rebellious evil on this earth.

In terms of scholarship Dr. Heiser did something in this book which is rather rare today. Dr. Heiser looked at this complex subject in light of its 2nd temple era context. The 2nd temple era and it influence on Biblical history and Bible prophecy (in my opinion) is far too often ignored when trying to understand some of the Bible’s most important prophetic passages.

The book is organized into four parts:

PART I – Genesis 6:1-4 in its Original Ancient Contexts
• Chapter 1 – The Sons of God and Nephilim
• Chapter 2 – The Sin of the Watchers in 1 Enoch and Other Enochian Tests
• Chapter 3 – The Mesopotamian Apkallu, the Watchers, and the Nephilim

PART II – Reversing Hermon in the Gospels
• Chapter 4 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Birth of Jesus
• Chapter 5 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Genealogy of Jesus
• Chapter 6 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Ministry of Jesus

PART III – Reversing Hermon in the Epistles
• Chapter 7 – The Sin of the Watchers and Human Depravity
• Chapter 8 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Head Covering of 1 Corrintians 11
• Chapter 9 – The Sin of the Watchers and Baptism

PART IV – Reversing Hermon in the Book of Revelation
• Chapter 10 – The Sin of the Watchers, the Nephilim, and the Antichrist
• Chapter 11 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Apocalypse

Of these chapters 2, 5, 7, 9 really stood to me. I especially appreciated learning about the congruency of the Enochian narrative in Biblical and the historical record. I frankly had no idea the subject was as well testified to in ancient history.

Dr. Heisers discussion of the Mosaic law in Chapter 7 was especially interesting. It provided a new and intriguing angle from which to view the Torah and its purpose. This subject provided me with much food for future thought and reflection.

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The weakest part of the book, in my opinion, were the authors speculation regarding Revelation 12 as an astronomical sign which dates the birth of Yeshua to the 1st of Tishri in 3 BC. I admit up front I don’t know enough about astronomical signs to test Dr. Heiser’s theory but Biblical and historically speaking Tishri 1 3 BC as the birth of the Messiah is problematic for several reasons. First, the prophecy of Daniel 9 dates the coming of the Messiah to 5-4 BC. A 4 BC date for the Birth of Yeshua also best fits the chronological evidence of Matthew, Luke and Josephus.

The most unsettling aspect of the book was the Dr. Heiser’s exploration of 1 Cor. 11 and the subject of a woman’s head covering and its 2nd temple historical context. Not that it couldn’t be true but it is certainly outside my comfort zone.

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By far my favorite part of the book was the Dr. Heiser’s exploration of the lineage of Jesus in Matthew 1. Dr. Heiser opens Chapter 5 with the following quote:

“Admit it. You think genealogies are boring. While I wouldn’t claim that all biblical genealogies are filled with theological insights, I can promise you that the genealogy of Jesus is different. As we’ll see, it has some amazing features that link it with the expectation of a messianic reversal of sin of the Watchers.”

You have to admit that his is a pretty bold statement. But Dr. Heiser goes on to explain, based upon the work of New Testament scholar Amy Richter, that the four women mentioned or implied in Matthew 1 are connected to Yeshua redemptive purpose as it relates to reversing the evil brought into this world by the fallen angelic host. He further explains that these women by their inclusion, would emphasis in the Jewish readers mind the events of Genesis 6, events and their implications which are only understood within the context of the 2nd temple era Jewish reader.

This Enochian angle of Yeshua lineage did indeed seem a bit farfetched to me at first glance but after some reflection I realized Dr. Heiser may have more of a point than even he may realize. This relates to a statement Dr. Heiser made earlier in chapter 4 regarding “astral prophecy”. I quote,

“In briefest terms, and with respect to a biblical perspective ( as opposed to pagan polytheism’s conception), astral theology was the idea that the One who made the celestial objects in the heavens (sun, moon, stars) to be for “signs and seasons” and to mark time (Genesis 1:14) could use those object to communicate.”

You see as Dr. Heiser notes repeatedly in this book, the New Testament must be understood with the context of the 2nd temple. No place in the Bible better illustrates this fact than the lineage of Yeshua in Matthew 1. Indeed Matthew’s genealogy of Yeshua is far from boring. I’ll get back to the four women in Yeshua lineage in a moment but to really understand their importance you must see the lineage of Yeshua from a 2nd temple perspective that the Jewish reader would have intuitively grasp.

First, if you list the names as given by Matthew you will find there are 41 generation between Abraham and Yeshua. Now arrange them into the three generation groupings described by Matthew in verse 17. What you will find is that while Matthew implied that Yeshua was the 14th generation he is actually the 13th as given. Matthew cleverly shows that Yeshua is both the 13th and 14th generation.

To a Jewish reader they would have immediately made the connection to the Bible’s calendar as described in Gen. 1:14. You see the lunar side of the Biblical calendar, which orders the divine appointment or “signs and seasons” of Genesis 1:14 as described by Dr. Heiser, are governed by two internal lunar cycles of 13 or 14 days of waxing and waning light each month. Further, during the 7 sacred Biblical festival’s each year 13 or 14 sacrifices are commanded to be offered. That the apostle Paul understood this messianic symbolism is shown in Ephesian’s 2:13-14 where he describes the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles which Yeshua’s death and resurrection abolished. This wall during the 2nd temple era which prevented Gentiles from accessing the temple proper (and by implication the presence of YHWH) was accessed by 14 steps and entry to the temple granted by one of 13 gates.

What this demonstrates is that indeed Matthew had a redemptive message woven into the lineage of Yeshua in Matthew 1 which supports in a fascinating way Dr. Heiser position that the women of Matthew 1, may also fit into this redemptive “matrix”.

Further to Dr. Heiser’s point is the fact that the 41 generations between Abraham and Yeshua and the 3 generational groupings of Yeshua’s ancestors has a larger chronological context that some of his Jewish readers would have likely understood. You see, a reasonable case could be made that there were 41 jubilee cycles between Abraham and Yeshua (as represent by the 41 generations). But more importantly, using the chronology of the MT text of the Old Testament there were in fact 41 jubilee cycles between Adam and Abraham. (For those who appreciate a bit of irony its worth noting that we are living in the 41st jubilee from Yeshua.)

So Matthew, by arranging Yeshua’s lineage into 41 generations (he left out four kings to do this) linked the Messianic redemptive symbolism of the sacrificial system with the Old Testament chronology between Adam and Abraham. But here is the intriguing part which I hadn’t realized until reading Dr. Heiser’s book.

If we take the three generational groupings of Yeshua’s ancestors as representative of the 3 Biblical ages of 41 jubilee cycles each, you’ll find that the offspring of the women mentioned in Matthew 1 have a direct connection to the Enochian events and thus prove beyond reasonable doubt that there is a connection between these women and the events Enoch, the fallen angel’s and YHWH’s redemptive plan.

The four offspring of the women mentioned in Matthew 1 are as follows:

• Phares the 5th generation
• Booz (Boaz) the 11th generation
• Obed the 12th generation
• Solomon the 15th generation (1st of the 2nd generational grouping)

If each of the three 14 generational groupings represent 41 jubilee cycles in a larger chronological context then the each generation in the three groups (of 14) is equal to 2.928 jubilee cycles.


• Pares falls in the 5th generation which represents the 12th, 13th and 14th jubilee cycle from Adam. It was during the 13th jubilee cycle from Adam (the 623rd yr.) that Enoch was taken to heaven.

• Boaz was the 11th generation representing the 29th, 30th and 31st jubilee cycles from Adam. It was during the 29th jubilee cycle form Adam, in the 365th year of Noah’s life that Jared died. As Dr. Heiser explains according to the book of Enoch it was during the days of Jared that the fallen angel’s (on Mt. Hermon) made their agreement to defile the women of earth.

• Obed was the 12th generation representing the 33rd, 34th and 35 jubilee cycles from Adam. It was during this period of time that Shem was born during the 32nd jubilee cycle form Adam. It was through Shem, the son of Noah that YHWH’s would work out His redemptive plan for mankind by bringing forth Yeshua, the promised righteous seed. Then during the 34th jubilee in the 600th year of Abraham’s life the Deluge took place cleansing the earth of evil which the fallen angles had wrought.

• Solomon was the 15th generation from Abraham or the 1st generation in Matthew 2nd grouping of 14. This 15th generation represented the 42nd, 43rd, and 44th jubilee cycle from Adam. It was during this period of time that YHWH made all of His covenants with Abraham which promised that through his “seed” all nations of the earth would be blessed. Further it was in the 100th year of Abraham’s life exactly on the 43rd jubilee cycle from Adam that Isaac was born. It was also during the 44th jubilee cycle from Adam that YHWH honored Abraham’s faith (in his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac) by swearing (shaba) the first oath He, the living God of the Bible, swore with any man in the Bible. It was this oath that Moses mentions in Due. 7:9, Daniel mentions in Daniel 9:4, and Zechariah mentions in Luke 1.

So there you have it. As Amy Richter and Dr. Heiser claim, and incredible as their claims may sound, Matthew did indeed have the story of the Enoch, the fallen angels, the flood, and YHWH’s redemptive plan of Reversing Hermon in mind when he penned that inspired list nearly two thousand years ago. Who said genealogies were boring?

– – – – – – – – – – –

This review has gone on far too long but in closing for those who would like to see confirmation for another one of Dr. Heiser’s points in Chapter 9 regarding Baptism, its redemptive context and its relationship to the events of Flood, you’ll find it in Daniel 9:26 where it describes the Messiah as “cut off”. This cutting off or “karath” would have harkened the Jewish reader back to the first occurrence of this word where it is used to described the waters of the flood which karath mankind from the face of the earth. Thus one again showing that it was the promised messiah the seed of Adam, Shem and Abraham that reversed the effects of not only the sin of Adam and Even but also the corrupting evil wrought by the fallen angelic hoard in the days leading up to the flood.

– – – – – – – – – – –

In summary, I can’t say that I agree with all of Dr. Heiser’s points but he sure has given me food for thought. I started the book skeptical but finished it convinced that there is far more to the Genesis 6 than I ever understood. Dr. Heiser has made a compelling case that part of Yeshua’s redemptive purpose was in fact to combat the angelic evil which has been corrupting mankind since the flood. After you read this book I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.

Author: Dr. Michael S. Heiser
Book Title: Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Wachers & the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Mark Hitchcock & Jeff Kinley – The Coming Apostasy

Book Review:
Apostasy in the Church Today –

What is apostasy?

Most of us have an idea of what apostasy means even if we can’t provide a dictionary definition. In a Biblical sense as explained by popular Christian authors Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley in their new book, – “Christian apostasy in its broadest terms is defection or departure from the truth of Scripture.”

To be sure sometimes this departure is can be an overt act of rebellion but often it is a simple and gradual process over time which takes you to a destination which at the beginning of your journey you would not have thought possible.

Here is how the authors explain it: “Apostasy represents an abandonment of faith, and it can happen over time without a person realizing it.”

They go on to explain that there is a flip side to this coin of apostasy. “In fact, just the opposite may occur, as pride mixed with false doctrine leads to an attitude of superiority, complacency, and self-righteousness.”

As Hitchcock and Kinley soberly access, Christianity as it understood by many in western culture today has indeed crossed the threshold of apostasy and taken up residence in the home of rebellion. Rebellion that is against the moral absolutes of Scripture. I must admit it was both challenging and refreshing to read a book which did not apologize for using the “law” of God as guide to moral conduct. In today’s increasingly hyper-grace environment, charges of legalism are more often than not used as a cloak for lawlessness. Hitchcock and Kinley make it clear that salvation is in fact by the grace of YHWH through faith in Yeshua’s atoning blood but once saved we as believers should not abuse that grace by living in a manner which is contrary to the Bible. This is how they explain it:

“Some today argue, “What difference does it make what you believe as long as you love God and others? Aren’t those the greatest commandments?” yes, those are the greatest commandments, but if that were the sum total of all God wanted us to know, believe, and do, the sixty-six books of the Bible would be reduced to two verses. There is a greatest commandment, but it in no way diminishes our responsibility to all the others. “

In ten well written chapters Hitchcock and Kinley explore the devastation apostasy has wrought in the Christian church of our generation. But they don’t leave you without hope nor practical Scriptural advice to counter this evil. Here is a sample of the topics included in this book:

• Chapter 1: God and Ghost Ships
• Chapter 2: The Fifth Column
• Chapter 3: Faith of Our Fathers
• Chapter 4: Culture of Compromise
• Chapter 5: When Tolerance Is Intolerable
• Chapter 6: Moral Freefall
• Chapter 7: The Watershed Moment for the Church
• Chapter 8: Will the Real Jesus Stand Up?
• Chapter 9: Acts of the Apostates
• Chapters 10: Surviving the Last Days of Apostasy

– – – – – – – – – – – –

For clarities sake there were a couple of place where I would like to have a better understanding of the Scriptural basis for the authors interpretation:

Chapter 2 (Kindle loc. 373) the authors describe the ratification of a peace treaty between Israel and the Anti-Christ. This eschatological belief is based upon an interpretation of Daniel 9 which has as it basis a “commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” given by the Persian king Longimanus. In order for this interpretation to work though, Hitchcock and Kinley must stretch the chronology of 2nd temple era by nearly 60 years.

In their new book Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan, Hindson and Ice explain that after the flood mankind was subject to an exponential decay curve which lowered the lifespan mankind to about 70-80 years. Yet implied in their interpretation, Hitchcock and Kinley’s must maintain a lifespan for Ezra and many of the priests and Levites which is nearly a quarter century older than Moses. This requires some chronological gymnastics regarding the chronology as described in Ezra 1-7, and Nehemiah. I would like to better understand the authors reasoning for the incongruous approach to the 2nd temple era. Hopefully in some future publication they will address this important subject as it has profound implications for our view of the coming tribulation and the return of Yeshua.

In Chapter 1 & 2 (Kindle loc. 142 & 382) the authors briefly describe what may be the precursor to the predicted invasion of Israel by Russia (Gog & Magog). In the authors investigation of the subject I would like to better understand how they arrived at the conclusion that Israel’s dwelling safely (yashab betach) is a condition of Israel which proceeds the Millennial reign of Yeshua.

According to Levitcus 25 & 26 the original promise of Israel dwelling safely (yashab betach) is a promise contingent upon obedience to the Torah. As the Scripture is clear, Israel will not fully turn back to the ways of YHWH until just before the 2nd coming when they acknowledge “blessed is He who comes in the name of YHWH.” (Matt. 23:39) Further Jeremiah 32, Ezekiel 28, 34, and Zech. 14 all congruently describe this yashab betach as taking place during the Millennial reign of Yeshua. Not to be ignored is Rev. 20 where it describes the future millennial reign of Yeshua and Israel dwelling safely in the land. At that time Gog and Magog come up against Jerusalem as described in Ezekiel 38 & 39.

I would like better understand the reasoning the authors use to conclude that Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 & 39 refers not to the millennial reign of Yeshua as congruently described throughout the Biblical text, but instead to a period of time preceding the 2nd coming for which there seems to be no clear contextual justification.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

In summary my questions notwithstanding, this book is a much needed exploration of apostasy in the church today. Its sobering message and more importantly its Scriptural solutions are a must read for believers. I’d encourage every Berean to read this book and then open your Bible’s and see if these things be so. In conclusion I leave you with some valuable advice from Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Kinley:

“When you look at the sources of our faith and why we choose to embrace a certain doctrine or truth as our own, it becomes clear that only one source is 100 percent reliable. The bottom line of any belief is that if it can’t be backed up by Scripture, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking, speculation, or theory.”

Maranatha!

Author: Mark Hitchcock & Jeff Kinley
Book Title: The Coming Apostasy: Exposing the Sabotage of Christianity from Within
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Joel Rosenberg – Without Warning

Book Review:
An Entertaining Read to the Last Page –

This was Joel Rosenberg in his finest form!

I started Without Warning this evening with the idea of reading just a few chapters. It’s now 3am, I’m bleary eyed and wondering where the past 6 hours have gone. I’ve read many of Mr. Rosenberg’s books over the years and next to the Copper Scroll this was my favorite. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with Book II but Without Warning was a fantastic and believable read to the very end. Talk about a page turner. Wow.

For this third and final installment in the J.B. Collins series Mr. Rosenberg, in his unique way, takes current events and weaves a heart pounding thriller which makes you think seriously about the issues of our day. Even if you are not interested in politics, terrorism, international relations, Israel or spiritual issues this was just a well written and entertaining read.

And just about the time you think you’ve figured out the plot, Mr. Rosenberg throws in a twist that will leave you speechless.

Author: Joel Rosenberg
Book Title: Without Warning
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Rabbi K. A. Schneider – The Book of Revelation Decoded

Book Review:
The Spirit of Prophecy –

When I saw the title of this book and read its description, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. I’d never heard of the idea that the Passover foreshadowed the great tribulation, but I appreciate seeing Bible prophecy through other believers eyes, so I pick up a copy.

 The book is well and passionately written with the unique perspective of a Jewish believer in Yeshua. Rabbi K. A. Schneider does a good job of providing a glorious and sobering picture of the events describe in the book of Revelation. But here is the unique part of the book, Rabbi Schneider illuminates the book of Revelation by showing how much of it is but confirmation of some of the Old Testaments most important prophecies concerning the end of this age and the return of Yeshua.

 Through twelve compelling chapters Rabbi Schneider explores some of the most well know aspects of Revelation. In each chapter he points the reader back to the Old Testament context thus showing the congruency of both the Old and New Testaments.  I quote Rabbi Schneider:

 “In addition, the B’rit Hadashah [New Testament] was never written to be detached from the Tanakh [Old Testament]. If we want to interpret the Bible correctly, then we must interpret it as a whole, starting with Genesis and continuing all the way through the last chapter of Revelation. This is why Jesus frequently quoted from the Tanakh, validating its authenticity as the Word of God. The apostle and the early church writers constantly referenced the Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament for the same reasons.” (Kindle p. 83 [insertions] added by WS for clarity)

 Each of the following twelve chapters applies this interpretational approach to good effect:

  •  1. Chapter 1 – Jacob’s Trouble: From Turmoil to the Great Tribulation
  • 2. Chapter 2 – When the Antichrist Will Rise
  • 3. Chapter 3 – How the Antichrist Will Rise
  • 4. Chapter 4 – God’s Wrath
  • 5. Chapter 5 – The Rapture
  • 6. Chapter 6 – Armageddon and the Messiah’s Return
  • 7. Chapter 7 – The Marriage Between God and His People
  • 8. Chapter 8 – All Israel Will be Saved
  • 9. Chapter 9 – God’s Judgement and Rewards
  • 10. Chapter 10 – The Reality of Hell
  • 11. Chapter 11 – The Millennial Reign of the Messiah
  • 12. Chapter 12 – The New Heaven and the New

Of these chapters I thought 11 & 12 were the most thrilling, providing the believer hope to counterbalance the sobering events described in Chapters 4, 9, & 10.  Chapter 4 on the Rapture was the most challenging aspect of the book to contemplate. The authors view of the Rapture and its relationship to the events of the Exodus are ( as far as I’m aware) unique. I had often heard how the fall Feast of YHWH were shadow or types of events related to the 2nd coming but this is the first time I’ve read how the Passover provides its own shadows and type for these events as well. Definitely something for further consideration and study.

 One my favorite parts of the book is when Rabbi Schneider explains how, “Matthew’s genealogy is not just a long, boring list of names; those names are the actual historic links between the Old and New Testaments.”

 Though not mentioned by Rabbi Schneider, but buttressing his well made points is the fact that Matthew’s lineage of Yeshua was purposely arranged so that it would emphasize in his Jewish readers mind the connection between Yeshua as the promised Messiah and sacrificial symbolism of the Tanakh. You see Matthew purposely left out four of Yeshua’s ancestors. This omission combined with Matthew’s arrangement of the list into  three 14 generational groupings, then had the unique effect of showing that Yeshua was both the 13th and 14th generation in this famous list.

 As the Jewish reader would know, each year during each of the seven Feast of YHWH, the Jewish people were required to make 13 or 14 sacrifices. These sacrifices in turn where governed by the lunar side of the Bible’s calendar which included two cycles of 13 or 14 days of (visible) waxing light followed by 13 or 14 days of waning light. And just to make sure we didn’t think his list was an accident Matthew left out one of the Kings between the 6th & 7th generation and other three kings between the 13th & 14th generation (in the second 14 generational grouping).

 That the apostle Paul understood this symbolism is confirmed in Ephesians 2:13-14 where he told the Ephesians that Yeshua broke down the “middle wall of partition” between Jews and Gentiles. Keep in mind that during the 2nd temple era, that middle wall of partition was an actual barrier build between the court of the Gentiles and the temple proper which kept Gentiles form the presence of YHWH. During the 2nd temple era any gentile caught trespassing beyond that barrier was killed. Thrillingly, when Yeshua and Paul walk those ancient stones that wall (according to Josephus) was access by 14 steps and the entry to the temple was granted through 13 gates (according to Rabbinic traditions).

 As you can see Rabbi Schneider is most certainly correct when he rhetorically asks regarding Matthew’s list as it relates to the Old and New Testaments: “And what is the main thread that binds them? Yeshua HaMashiach.” Indeed as Revelation 19:10 tells us the, “the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Yeshua” (Yeshua = YHWH’s Salvation).

                  

In closing I will say there were a few parts of this book that I didn’t agree with or at least where I will need to further investigate the scripture for myself, but overall I really appreciated the way the Rabbi Schneider showed the congruency between the prophecies of the Old and New Testament. His view of the Rapture was challenging (in a good way) and he provided many wonderful insights which I appreciated. This is a book worth reading and when you’ve finished I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.

 Maranatha!

Author: Rabbi K.A. Schneider
Book Title: The Book of Revelation Decoded: Your Guide to Understanding the End Times Through the Eyes of the Prophets
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Ron Rhodes – Bible Prophecy Answer Book

Book Review:
Questions About Bible Prophecy –

Do you have questions about Bible prophecy? I know I do. Well I’m please to say that you are likely to find answers to some of those questions in Ron Rhodes latest offering – Bible Prophecy Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know About the End Times. Written from a dispensational – pretribulation perspective, Mr. Rhodes applies his considerable knowledge and straightforward style to answering some of the most commonly asked questions about the Bible’s prophetic record.

 In this book Mr. Rhodes looks at 24 prophetic themes or topics, devoting a chapter to each. The chapters then explore these themes in a question and answer style. Here’s a taste of some of the topics covered in the book:

  • Chapter 2: God and Prophecy
  • Chapter 5: The Covenants and Biblical Prophecy
  • Chapter 9: America in Prophecy
  • Chapter 10: The Ezekiel Invasion
  • Chapter 11: The Rapture of the Church
  • Chapter 16: Religion During the Tribulation Period
  • Chapter 19: The Millennial Kingdom
  • Chapter 22: The New Heavens, New Earth, and New Jerusalem

There is a wealth of Biblical knowledge in this book which is explained in plain terms that anyone can appreciate. I’ve read several of Mr. Rhodes books over the years and I’ve come to respect his appreciation for Bible prophecy and the straight forward way of exploring the subject without hype or needless sensationalism.

                 

 In what I intend to be respectful and hopefully constructive criticism there were two topics in this book where I felt Mr. Rhodes did not provide a reasonable level of Biblical evidence for his interpretation of specific prophecies. This book is billed as an answer to “everything” you need to know about Bible prophecy. I know this is just the title of a book but in the following two areas I don’t think the book lives up this bold claim.

  • Daniel’s 70 Weeks
  • The Ezekiel Invasion

The reason I bring this up is that both topics are incredibly important to Mr. Rhodes eschatological framework of end times events. These topics are pillars upon which Mr. Rhodes then interprets other aspects of Bible prophecy in this book. Because of their central role to Mr. Rhodes eschatological world view, the reader deserves to understand how Mr. Rhodes arrived at his interpretation of the prophecies related to Ezekiel 38-39 and Daniel 9.  Here are a few examples of unanswered questions which the reader needs to be aware of so that they evaluate the strength or weakness of Mr. Rhodes interpretation.

 

~~Regarding Daniel 9 –

  • Why is the death of Ezra’s father important to the prophecy of 70 Weeks?
  • Why do Biblical scholars insert an unjustified 60 years gap in the chronology between Ezra 6 & 7?
  • Who is the “Artaxerxes” of Ezra 6 & 7?
  • How is the Exponential Decay Curve (as explained by [[ASIN:0736964371 Hindson and Ice]]) taken into account as it relates to the age of Ezra, Nehemiah and the Priests and Levites of the 2nd temple era?
  • Why isn’t the “commandment” (dabar) of YHWH the living God of the Bible (Hag. 1, Zech. 1, Ezra 6) used to begin Daniel 9:25 and the countdown to the Messiah?
  • Why is a Biblical reckoning of time (365.24/29.53) not used when interpreting the prophecy of Daniel 9?
  • Does the Bible really use two calendars? (360/30 & 365.24/29.53)
  • What does the “covenant” of Daniel 9:4 tell us about the “covenant” of Daniel 9:27?
  • Why do scholars believe the messianic focus of the prophecy of 70 Weeks changes to the Anti-Christ for the last 1.4% of the prophecy?

 ~~Regarding the Ezekiel Invasion:

  • Why is the context of Israel dwelling securely (yashab betach) as seen in Leviticus 26, Jer. 32, Eze. 28, 34, and Zech. 14 not explored as it relates to the timing of the Gog and Magog invasion.
  • What are the only two places in the Scripture that described Israel dwelling securely with “none to make them afraid”?
  • Why are these verses important to determining when this invasion takes place?

 – –                   

In summary, even though I don’t agree with Mr. Rhodes on every aspect of Bible prophecy, this book is a wonderful resource on the Bible’s prophetic record. Any student of the subject would be well served in exploring this book. When you are done I’d encourage you to open your own Bible and see if these things be so.

 Maranatha!

Author: Ron Rhodes
Book Title: – Bible Propehcy Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know About the End Times
Author Website:
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn
Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Brian Godawa – Israel in Bible Propehcy

Book Review:
– A Literal 1st Coming & Spiritualized 2nd

The question of Israel in Bible prophecy is one that I’ve thought a lot about over the years. Of late there seems to be a growing consensus among believers that the church supersedes the covenants and promises given to the physical descendants of Israel. I’d admit up front in this review that I’m a futurist but I still appreciate seeing the subject through my historicist brethren’s eyes because none of us have a perfect understanding of theology or Bible prophecy. For those willing to look, opposing points of view often help identify weaknesses or errors in our understanding of these complex subjects.

Popular novelist and screenwriter Brian Godawa jumps into this controversial subject with a new book entitled Israel in Bible Prophecy: The New Testament Fulfillment of the Promise to Abraham. Mr. Godawa opens his discussion of Israel in Bible prophecy with a rather broad attack on “merchandisers” of the “Bible Prophecy Industrial Complex.” This criticism, while valid in far too many cases, rings hallow as a preface to a book which itself is for sale.

Later Mr. Godawa rightly observed:

“This kind of big business Bible preaching can be corrupting, through blurring motives and creating a need for constant sensationalism, that often vulgarizes the real intent of prophetic passages, completely out of their original contexts.” Again a valid criticism, but one that not just futurists can be guilty of.

Frankly, I felt that Mr. Godawa’s opening tone serves to raise a barrier to those with an opposing point of view who are trying to see the subject through his eyes. Thus the book ends up reaching a more limited audience, one which probably already agrees with his perspective. I believe many of the subjects raised in this book are important to discuss openly and in the spirit of genuine Christian good will. I think Mr. Godawa’s exploration of the subject would have been better served if he had used a bit softer tone.

The meat of Mr. Godawa’s argument, that the church has inherited the covenants and promises given to Abraham is found in the following six points:

1. Father of Many Nations
2. Children of Abraham
3. Everlasting Covenant
4. Land Promise
5. Conditional Covenant
6. Circumcision

Mr. Godawa attempts to show that each of these six points have been fulfilled in the church. Some of the finer points of this discussion are indeed complex and by necessity it takes a great deal of effort to nail down the context and applicable passages. This would have to be one my biggest criticism of the book in that it was rather short and dealt with some of the more controversial aspects of the subject without really digging into the deeper context. Had Mr. Godawa given the complete context of the Old and New Testament passage from which he quoted in part, the reader might have reached an entirely different conclusion.

Here are a few examples which could have been better served with a fuller context. Mr. Godawa had this to say about the terms Mount Zion and Jerusalem as mentioned in Romans 11:26:

“In Scripture, these terms are used, very often together, as symbolic references to the Kingdom of God, and the city of God, or God’s reign.”

Mr Godawa then quotes Zechariah 8:3 and Micah 4:2 as follows:

(Zechariah 8:3)
“Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’

(Micah 4:2-7)
And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Mr .Godawa goes on to says this about the passages:

“As you can readily see, I’ve chosen some specific verses that use Zion and Jerusalem in reference to Messiah, which of course, is Jesus Christ. Dispensationalists claim that these are all literal references to literal Mount Zion and Jerusalem. But the New Testament defines the concepts of Zion and Jerusalem as transcendent, which means they are terms that use literal locations as a metaphor for a more important spiritual idea.”

Respectfully, a careful reading of Roman’s 11, Isaiah 59 & 60 (from which Paul quotes), and all of Zechariah 8 which Mr. Godawa quotes in part, leads not to a transcendent but literal understanding of the passage. Both Old Testament passages tell of a time when the gentiles nations will come up to Jerusalem. In fact if you take Mr. Godawa’s passage from Zechariah 8 and read it to the final verse this is what it has to say:

“Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek YHWH of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before YHWH. Thus saith YHWH of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Another example where a deeper context would have been helpful for the reader is found in the following quote from Mr. Godawa:

“There is no longer a physical Jewish priesthood before God. In fact , God calls the Church his chosen race, a holy nation, people for his own possession, all terms that were applied to Israel in the Old Covenant.” (Kindle loc. 758)

Mr. Godawa then quotes 1 Peter 2:9-10 to prove his point. The problem with this statement is apparent when the fuller context of Peter’s Epistles are taken into account. Peter was the apostle to the circumcision (Gal. 2:8 (the Jewish people)). If you read just a couple more verse further in the passage Mr. Godawa quoted you see that Peter is in fact addressing the Jewish people. First, Peter address them as “which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.” This is a quote from the book of Hosea which discusses Israel’s disobedience and their eventual restoration. Then in verse 12 of Peter warns his Jewish brethren to have their conversation “honest among the Gentiles.” Clearly Peter is not addressing the Church in general here but in fact Jewish believers in Yeshua, a people who he sees as still distinct from the Gentiles.

(1 Peter 2:7-12)
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, {precious: or, an honour} And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: {peculiar: or, purchased} {praises: or, virtues} Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. {whereas: or, wherein}

Also note that Peter mentions the “stone which the builders disallowed.” This is quote from Yeshua in Matthew 21 in which Yeshua addressed His hard hearted Jewish brethren. Thus confirming that Peter’s audience was the Jewish people.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – –

When discussing Ephesian’s 2:13-14 Mr. Godawa said the following:

“We simply cannot divide the Jew from the Gentile in God’s promise or plan as the Dispensationalists would want. Jew and Gentiles are one in Christ and cannot be separated because that which separated them (The Laws of separation in the OT) has been abolished.”

I think it would have been helpful if Mr. Godawa had explained here that Pauls “middle wall of partition” was an actual barrier build during the 2nd temple era which separated the court of the Gentiles form the temple proper. During the 2nd temple era any Gentile caught crossing this manmade barrier with the intent to approach the temple proper and the by extension the presence of YHWH was killed. Yeshua’s death and resurrection did indeed remove this barrier thus allowing both Jew and Gentiles the right to approach the presences of God.

Interestingly during the 2nd temple era this wall was accessed by 14 steps and entry granted by one of 13 gates. Matthew in His lineage of Yeshua (Mat. 1) even alludes to this symbolically by showing that Yeshua was the 13th and 14th generation in his 3rd generational grouping. Matthew’s Jewish reader would have also made the connection to the 13 or 14 sacrificial rights required during most of the Biblical holy days, holy days which were governed by a lunar cycle of visible light which waxes for 13 or 14 days and then wanes for the same.

Personally, I don’t believe the Jewish reader would have understood Paul’s statement of Eph. 2:13-14 as a blurring of the distinctiveness of the Jew and Gentile but rather as showing that both become part of the same family. In like manner when Paul in Gal. 3:8 stated:

(Galatians 3:28-29)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Paul in this passage was not telling his reader that men and women, Jew and Greeks lose their physical identities when they become believers. He was simply telling them they become one body of believers.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In closing I appreciated seeing this subject through the author’s eyes but this is a complex topic and each verse and every topic really needs to be read in its full scriptural context. To be sure Mr. Godawa raised some challenging questions which need to be discussed but in my mind it is difficult to justify an interpretive method which takes as literal, the majority of the Bible’s prophetic record that deal with the first coming of the Messiah, but then takes a none literal approach when interpreting the balance of the prophetic record which discusses the Messiah’s second coming. For those who would like to read both sides of a discussion, Samuel Whitefield recent book,  One King: A Jesus-Centered Answer To The Question Of Zion And The People Of God is a well written exploration of the subject. After reading both books I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and “see if these things be so”.

Maranatha!

Author: Brian Godawa
Book Title: Israel In Bible Prophecy: The New Testament Fulfillment of the Promise to Abraham
Author Website:
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn
Book Reviewed by: William Struse