November 19, 2013
When I was a kid, I was in the car with my dad when I saw a billboard on the side of a building with the picture of a guy with a plastic looking hairdo and a vacant stare that read “Jesus the Christ is Here!” (followed by a phone number and an address in Florida).
I turned to my father and yelled, “Look dad! Jesus has returned, and He looks just like our plumber!” He looked over at me, shook his head and sighed (a frequent occurrence during my childhood).
Of course Jose-Luis de Jesus Miranda isn’t the Redeemer (I’m not even sure he’s real). Yet he is not alone in claiming to be the Christ. Many characters throughout history have made messianic claims. And although most of them are easily dismissed, some have been taken seriously enough to have gained significant and devoted followings (as the Bible predicted). So it would seem that we have an identity crisis. Or rather, an identity Christ-sis (see what I did there?)
In the last post, I ended my review of the Redeemer’s mission and attributes with the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer. This is of course the belief of mainstream Christianity as well. But the fact alone that this belief is shared by a majority does not make it true.
As with any other supposition, it has to pass the test of contrastive thinking. Only by proving that no one else could be the Redeemer can we know conclusively that Jesus is Him. How do we do this? By again taking the specific Biblical predictions (prophesies) about the Redeemer and seeing if they match anyone else in history.
There are over 300 specific prophesies written about the Redeemer before His advent. But how likely is it that these events and attributes could have also been fulfilled by someone else? Let’s play the odds with a few of them and see. And just to keep things as contrastive as possible, I’m going to give myself some handicaps with the figures below.
*BEGIN MATH ALERT*
Let’s assume that in the history of the planet, there have been 100 billion people who have lived and died (that is a VERY generous estimate, but as I said, I’m intentionally giving myself handicaps). What are the odds that one of them (other than Jesus) could have fulfilled only nine of the prophesies of the Redeemer?
The Bible says that the Redeemer would be born in Bethlehem (Prophesied in Micah 5:2, fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 2:4-5, 7). Bethlehem is a tiny city that has historically had a population well below 5,000. But let’s double that for our handicap to 10,000. What are the chances that a random person in history would have been born in Bethlehem? We’ll take our total population of 100 billion and divide by the historic Bethlehem population of 10,000, and we get 100,000 (one hundred thousand). So for our purposes, these is a 1 in 100,000 chance of someone being born in Bethlehem (this means that if we selected 100,000 people at random from everyone who has ever lived, one of them would have been born in Bethlehem.) So far so good? (Probably not but I’ll be more casual with my estimates from now on).
The Redeemer was born of a virgin (Prophesized in Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 1:26-27, 30-31). How many people in history experienced a virgin birth? I’d estimate zero, but let’s be kind and say 1 person in every million (1,000,000) was born of a virgin.
The Redeemer will receive gifts from Arabian kings – (Prophesied in Psalms 72:10, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 2: 1-11). Let’s say 1 in 1000 people have been given gifts from Arabian royalty at their birth (Middle-Eastern hospitality and all).
He was rejected by the people who had been waiting for him for almost a thousand years – (Prophesized in Isaiah 53:3 Fulfilled by Jesus in John 1:11, Luke 23:14-18). Happens all the time, right? 1 in 10,000 chance.
He was betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Prophesied in Psalms 55:12-13, Zechariah 11:12, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 26:14-15, 49-50). Who hasn’t had a friend like that? 1 in 10,000 chance.
He would be resurrected from the dead (Prophesied in Psalms 16:10, Psalms 30:3, Isaiah 26:19, fulfilled by Jesus in Mark 16:6-7). Not counting zombies, let’s say 1 in 100,000 people have come back from the dead.
Now remember, the Redeemer had to fulfill all of these prophesies, so we need the composite odds. We get that by adding up all the zeros (40) which gets us to 1040 (1 with 40 zeroes after it). Divided by our total historical population of 100 billion people (1011), gets us 1029
So the odds of any one in history other than Jesus fulfilling these nine prophesies is one chance in 1029. That’s a REALLY big number (here’s what it looks like – 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
How big is that?
Well, if the universe is 15 billion years old (and I’m not going to debate that right now), and we break that down into seconds, the universe is only 1017 seconds old!
If someone other than Jesus tried to randomly fulfill just nine of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer once every second for the entire history of the universe (and then 1012 more seconds after that) they’d fail!
But wait, it gets worse! Let’s say we triple the prophesies to get the odds of someone other than Jesus fulfilling just 27of the prophesies (and lets also assume no decreases in likelihoods as an additional handicap), we’d have 1040 x 1040 x 1040 = 10120. Divide by our population of 1011, and we get 1 chance in 10109!
Now we have a bit of problem. This is a number so big, it’s virtually incomprehensible. How big a number is it?
Well, scientists estimate that in the entire universe, there are “only” 1082 atoms! So there is neither enough time in the universe nor enough matter in the universe to give anyone other than Jesus any chance to fulfill just 27 of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer!
*END OF MATH ALERT. YOU MAY RETURN TO YOUR SEATS.
Math tricks aside, you can prove the historic identity of the Redeemer by looking at one spectacular and exacting prophesy found in the book of Daniel which gives the exact day that the Redeemer would present himself to Israel! :
“ Seventy weeks [of years]* are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]…” – Daniel 9:24-25
According to this passage, when the order to rebuild Jerusalem was given (it had been destroyed by the Babylonians after Israel screwed up one too many times), the Messiah (Redeemer) would present Himself exactly 69 weeks of years [483 years** or 173,880 days] later.
It just so happens that the order to rebuild Jerusalem is a matter of historic record. On the 14th of Nisan [March/April of our current calendar] of the year 445 B.C. the Persian King Artaxerxes, commissioned the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8). 173,880 days later is the 6th of Nisan, 32 A.D. This was the only day that the Messiah of Israel could present himself!
Jesus of Nazareth is the only one that was, is, or could be the Messiah of Israel and the Redeemer of humanity!
There is one final and very controversial aspect about Jesus that we will address in this series. If He was both mortal and divine, how come someone be fully man AND fully God?
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*Ancient Jews divided their years into groups of 7 (called a week of years) the same way we divide years into groups of 10, called decades.
**Jews used a 360 day calendar
November 9, 2013
From very early on in this blog (back when I actually had time to publish a post once a week (because I hadn’t yet gotten married or achieved an upper-management position, or adopted an overactive dog), I began to introduce and drop cryptic hints about “The Redeemer”. This Redeemer would bridge the gap between God’s nature and our own, allowing us to attain the meaning of life through God’s plan.
Of course its rather obvious to the sophisticated reader Who I’m speaking of when I use the term “Redeemer”. So why have I talked around His identity for so long? Because the purpose of this blog isn’t to “tell”, its purpose is to “prove” – and to provide that proof in a logical and systematic manner. I didn’t want to focus who and what He is, until the revelation of His identity and appearance fit the timeline of the dispensations.
With that in mind, it’s now time to focus on who the Redeemer is, by first focusing in on why He’s needed, what He needs to accomplish, and what He needs to do to accomplish it. This post will be a bit of a review and summary of much of what we have already examined.
God wants us to spend eternity with Him. In order to do that, we need to be like him. But we are not like him. However we can choose Him since we have free will. God set up the Dispensations as a contrastive way to allow man the opportunity to choose Him on our own.
In the First Dispensation, God created the first man and woman with an intimate spiritual connection to Him and gave them complete dominion over the earth. But the first man chose himself over God and broke his (and our) innate connection with Him. That was a pretty severe and high impact mistake. It cost Adam his kingdom. But the bigger consequence was death.
That broken connection with God resulted in man losing the ability to repair, which is life. Physical life is in the blood. And spiritual life is in our thoughts. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, and his physical body lost the ability to repair and started to degrade. Furthermore, all Adam’s off spring are born dead (without that connection to life).
But since spending eternity with dead people probably isn’t a terribly attractive proposition to God, it would seem that Adam’s actions put God’s desire in jeopardy.
The problem is, death is a pretty permanent state. Its kind of hard to get over. But what if there was a way to reverse the curse? What if there was a way to undo what Adam did? How would this work?
What if we had a substitute who was willing to re-take the test Adam failed? What if He, like Adam, was born with perfect blood and a perfect though process (since He would be intimately connected to God)? He could fulfill the role that Adam could not. What if He was then willing to switch places with Adam and pay the penalty for his sin? What if He gave us the opportunity to choose to become His spiritual offspring and inherit His life instead of Adams death?
This person would literally redeem Adam – and us. The good news; the GREAT news; the GREATEST news ever – is that God anticipated, ordained and promised the advent of this Redeemer! The Bible speaks volumes (literally) about Him – much of it centuries before His advent so that His coming could be understood and anticipated. Here are some of His necessary attributes that are detailed in the Bible:
He had to be God. – Had to have the nature of God, to be always and completely right and just. Thus He’d have a perfect thought process.
Had to be experience death unjustly – as opposed to Adam who deserved it
Had to be resurrected – given new life that we could access
That’s a pretty lofty set of criteria to fill. But wait, its gets worse! The Bible also predicts the things that would happen to him by living (and dying) in a world of evil men who would be antagonistic towards Him because His nature was so different from theirs, and by spiritual forces who would hate Him because He is the embodiment of what they rebelled against and His ultimate goal is to usurp their kingdom and punish them for their deeds.
Because of this, He would:
Be considered a bastard (due to the virgin birth, not because He was an a-hole)
Good grief! Why would anyone endure all this to redeem a bunch of people who are naturally antagonistic to Him. Because He loves us! Because He wants us to spend eternity with Him! He literally considers the prospect of eternity with us as His bride a joy worth enduring a wretched life and a torturous death!
This takes a great Man and great love. A spousal Love beyond understanding. The Redeemer considers His sacrifice a joy, and I get annoyed if my wife asks me to go across the room to get her a glass of water (in my defense, she always asks during the really good part of a TV show).
So who would and could possibly do all his? Who is the redeemer? Well obviously, the Redeemer is God! Specifically the member of God’s tri-unity known as The Son. The Son manifested Himself on earth as the man called Jesus of Nazareth.
But as I wrote earlier, this blog doesn’t just tell, it proves. In the next post we will look at some more of the specific things the Bible says about the Redeemer BEFORE His advent that not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer, but that the Redeemer COULDN’T have been anyone else! Next time.
October 25, 2013
We’ve been looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation. In this final post on the subject we’ll discuss a set of myths that are both pervasive and controversial – the idea that God’s Law is meant to make us feel bad about stuff that makes us feel good.
The myth is that God is a cosmic kill joy who gets perverse pleasure out of telling us “Thou shall not…” And the perception is that all the stuff God doesn’t want us to do are things we find enjoyable. It’s almost like He set us up to fail by telling us not to do things we are naturally inclined to do. But is this true?
We’ve seen over the last two posts that the rules of the Law are not meant to be repressive or religious. But they actually have positive intentions – namely helping prepare the world for the advent of the Redeemer.
So where does this myth come from? Frankly, much of it is self-serving. Because of our nature and our tendency toward pride, we tend to desire things that are evil. Evil leads to destruction. God is not being repressive; He’s trying to protect us from destruction by identifying our evil tendencies and steering us away from them.
The myth is also acerbated by religion. Mystics heap up additional religious laws on men in order to stifle uniqueness and retain their power. But these superfluous rules aren’t from God. Worse, since people ascribe them to God (because they believe the mystics who claim to speak for Him), they begin to believe that in order to follow God they have to be in constant compliance with innumerable arbitrary rules.
Sometimes well intentioned non-mystics are guilty of this too. Ever hear your grandmother say things like “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, or “God helps those who help themselves”, or “an idle mind is the devils workshop”? Being tidy, self-reliant, and focused are nice attributes, but these rules didn’t come from God, and ascribing His name to them doesn’t make them Biblical.
But let’s focus on the area that has been the biggest source of the “God is a big ol’ prude” myth – Sexuality. The myth is, that generally speaking, God doesn’t like it when we have sex. It’s a low, dirty desire that we mammals are cursed with and He’d just as soon we not even speak of it. It should only be done for the express purpose of procreation. And even then, it should only be done in a locked room.
In the dark.
Completed as quickly and quietly as possibly.
And we should bath ourselves in bleach afterwards.
Honestly, the source of this myth is rooted in the very detailed sexual morality rules of the Law. Its clear that God only approves of sex in the marital relationship. BUT within the confines of marriage, sex is encouraged.
Sadly, well-intentioned (and some not so well-intentioned) people made the myth that “God hates sex” even more pervasive by going overboard in enforcing sexual morality and vilifying the sex act in any form.
So if this is a myth, how does God really feel about sex? I would contend that God thinks sex is pretty damn awesome! Why? Well, first of all he created it! He created it to feel good to us! And He created us to desire it!
After God created the first man and woman, He told them to “be fruitful and multiply”. He commanded them to have sex! He basically said “Adam, here’s your wife. Eve, here’s your husband. Now go get some!”
Moreover, the fact that the Song of Songs in even in the Bible proves that God delights in the joy of our sexuality. The entire book is about a bride and groom who physically desire one another and delight in sex. Here’s a snippet of the grooms description of his bride’s body.
How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince’s daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like jewels,
The work of the hands of a skillful workman.
Your navel is a rounded goblet;
It lacks no blended beverage.
Your waist is a heap of wheat
Set about with lilies. Songs of songs 7: 1-2
To get the full impact of this passage, it’s worth mentioning here that the word “navel” is mistranslated due to the desire of the translators to be polite. Notice that he’s working his way UP her body in the description. There is an, ahem, “opening” on the female body between the thighs and the waist. . . but it ain’t her navel. I’ll just leave it at that.
But if God thinks sex is so awesome, why are we only allowed to do it with the person we’re married to, and them alone? That’s actually not a valid question. God doesn’t see sex and marriage separately. The “marriage ceremony” we do today is a man-made tradition. To God, sex isn’t something you do with the person you’re married to. The sex act is what makes you married!
Technically there is no such thing as “sex before marriage” because sex IS marriage. The act of sex is the consummation of the marriage covenant. So technically, in God’s eyes, you married the first person you had sex with (I’ll give you a moment to recover from the horror). And you are committing adultery with any person you have sex with subsequently. So you see why God wants us to take sex seriously?
God is strict about sex because of the tremendous value he places on marriage and what it symbolizes. The joy and ecstasy of sex is God’s earthly representation of what Heaven is going to be like! Kind of makes you anxious to get there, doesn’t it?
And as mentioned above, the rules of the Law are God’s way of protecting us from ourselves. Again our tendency is toward evil so we have strong desires to be sexually immoral. But the consequences of that immorality is destructive.
Promiscuity, infidelity, and adultery are emotionally devastating. They break hearts, break up families, and ruin childhoods. Sexual immorality can also lead to physical damage (disease) and physical dependency – the neurochemicals released during sex are identical to the ones released when addictive drugs are. God intended this function to bond you physically and emotionally to your spouse. But illicit sex leaves you empty and constantly in search of your next “fix”, be it at the local bar or in front of a computer screen.
Lastly, let’s tackle the big controversy (at least in the eyes of contemporary society) – homosexuality. I’m not going to sugarcoat the subject, because God doesn’t. God calls it an abomination. It’s listed as one of the effects of intentionally disregarding God and our inherent knowledge of Him. Is this because God “hates” homosexuals as some zealots proclaim?
No, it goes back to how important marriage is to God, and how He defines it. God defines marriage as the sexual covenant between a man and a woman. Period. And He considers anyone or anything that intentionally perverts that definition an affront to Him. I know that’s not politically correct, but I kind of doubt God is terribly concerned about popular opinion. The question is, should God conform to the whims of His creation, or should His creation conform to Him?
I won’t argue with someone who says they were born with a desire for someone of the same sex, any more than I would argue with someone who says they were born with a bad temper, or a predisposition to substance abuse, or even a desire for heterosexual promiscuity. The issue is not the desire. It’s what you choose to do with that desire. We are creatures with free will – AND the responsibility that goes along with it.
The bottom line is that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes – like every other sin we all commit. It has the same source, the same consequences, and the same remedy. Presenting it as anything more or less than that is misrepresenting God.
Now that we’ve addressed some of the major myths of the Law, it’s time to focus on the major outcome of the Law – the advent of the Redeemer. Considering the extraordinary and eternal impact of the event, it’s safe to say that the Redemption of man is the most important even in our history. Understandably, this advent is the most well described event in the bible. In fact, much of this description was detailed hundreds of years before He even arrived! We’ll begin to explore all this next time.
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October 17, 2013
In the last post we began to looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation. We saw that the rules of the Law were not meant to repress the Israelites, but were intended to show them the optimal way to live and prosper and to make them good ambassadors to usher in the advent of the Redeemer.
But there are other aspects of the Law beyond health and moral conduct that gives rise to another myth – the myth that the Law is religion.
And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which God hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty;
if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering, and kill the sin-offering in the place of burnt-offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt-offering; and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar.
And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace-offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto God; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. Leviticus 4: 27-31
To be honest, all this sounds a lot like religion. It seems like God is telling people to do certain activities in order to justify their wrongs.
Furthermore, why does an all-powerful God need a sacrifice? Why does killing an animal please Him? Why does its blood need to be smeared all over the place? It all seems a bit macabre.
Without the right context, it’s easy to see how all these rules can make God look no different than any other petulant, ancient “rage-god” demanding arbitrary obeisance from his fiefdom lest he rain down fire and crickets upon them in his wrath (ok, that’s maybe not the most vivid description of wrath, but I really hate crickets).
Is this myth true? Is God basically that creepy omnipotent kid from the Twilight Zone? Are the sacraments demanded by the Law a form of religion?
The answer is no. And this is proven by understanding the purposes of both religion and the Law.
Religion is actions initiated by man (NOT God) in order for man to justify himself. The Law comes from God, and merely doing the activities of the Law does not offer justification.
The purpose of the Law is to prepare the world (through Israel) for the coming of the Redeemer. So how do the rituals of the Law accomplish this?
The ritual and the sacraments of the Law symbolize the vital aspects of the Redeemers advent and purpose. Doing the sacraments of the Law is essentially acting out the work of the Redeemer. It’s a divine dress rehearsal!
What is the Redeemer’s work? From what we’ve learned so far, the Redeemer will be a man with perfect blood, who will sacrifice that blood on behalf of Adam’s fallen offspring (us), resulting in us gaining life and being reconciled to God.
Now let’s look again at the sin offering from the passage above. It requires:
- A blemish free (perfect) animal (a goat in this case, but lambs and bulls are also used)
- The animal is killed (sacrificed)
- Its blood is taken by the priest before the alter
- The priest puts blood on the horns and base of the alter
- The animals fat is burned which God enjoys
- The sin is forgiven
How does this all fit together?
We learned previously that “life” is in the blood. The “perfect” animal represents perfect blood. The perfect blood is sacrificed. The priest is the mediator between God and man. The priest represents One who has the authority to come before God on man’s behalf. The alter represents God. Horns are a Biblical representation of ruling authority. Thus the mediator between God and man placed the perfect blood on that authority, and then pours it at His feet. Fat is generally seen as excess and denotes the richness, luxury, and comfort (pride) of man. Its burning (being destroyed) is pleasing to God. These represent the humility needed when one prays – especially for forgiveness. God finds prayers sweet like incense! Finally, forgiveness is rendered, representing reconciliation with God.
And that’s just what can be found in ONE of the sacraments of the Law. All of them represent some aspect of the Redeemer and were written with the Redeemer in mind!
The way this was supposed to work, is that if the Israelites obeyed the Law, they would have acted out the work of the Redeemer thousands of times, over the 1500 years between Moses and the advent of the Redeemer. They should have known the work of the Redeemer so well, that there’s no reasonable way they could have missed Him and failed the 5th Dispensation.
But they did fail. Why? Religious brain damage! As I wrote in a previous post:
“Unfortunately certain men decided of their own volition (and convinced countless others) that rituals alone could provide justification and atonement, and they warped them into religious acts. But this was NEVER God’s intention.
As I wrote last week, the men who perverted Levitical rituals into religion are the ones whose actions led to the death of Christ. Their religion blinded them to the advent of the very person the rituals were put in place to make them aware of! See what I mean when I say religion causes brain damage?”
There is one final pervasive myth about the Law that we will conclude with. The idea that God is a repressive prude who created the Law in order to make us feel bad about things we like – especially sex. Next time…
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August 7, 2013
In the 5th Dispensation, God gave His nation, Israel a volume of commands and instructions collectively called the Law. The particulars of the Law are very detailed and specific, and Israel’s compliance with them was non-negotiable (they were commands after all). The Israelites were promised great blessings and prosperity if they obeyed the Law, and severe punishment if they disobeyed.
In the last post we saw that one of the purposes of the Law was to help men understand God’s standards of righteousness and what constitutes sin. And while there is much in the Law regarding morality, there are also detailed rules on things like personal conduct, property rights, ceremonial procedures, worship instructions, food safely, litigation, hygiene, and medicine.
Many of the commandments of the Law can sound pretty strange and overly restrictive to modern ears, and when filtered through contemporary agnostic perspectives, can lead to misunderstandings about the nature and purpose of the Law. In this post, I want to address some of the myths that arise from these misunderstandings.
A few years ago, I was having a discussion with an atheist friend about God and the Bible (its funny how atheists claim they don’t believe in God, yet they always want to talk about Him. I don’t believe in Santa Claus yet I almost never bring him up in casual conversation).
Anyway, as with most discussions I have with atheists, her point was not to gain knowledge, but rather to point out something so illogical or abhorrent about God that it would justify her decision not to believe in Him. In this case, the discussion veered toward the Law and how “oppressive” it was to women and how it advocated slavery (therefore I must be crazy to believe in God because He’s such an a-hole).
At best, this argument showed that like most atheists, she had barely more than a superficial understanding of the Bible, and was so quick to let her shallow perceptions color her beliefs that she failed to do the due diligence required to truly understand the subject matter (sadly, this is a trait that many Christians share, which is why they have trouble handling these arguments).
Although the Law does have commandments that specifically address women, they are hardly oppressive. In fact, the Law was revolutionary in the fact that it guaranteed women certain rights that were unheard of in that part of the world during that time. The Law gave women rights in a divorce, it mandated special care for widows, and allowed women to own land, and it gave women the right to inherit land and property (all without any input from Gloria Steinem).
As for “slavery”, the issue is a matter of contemporary nomenclature. The slavery mentioned in the Law is not chattel slavery as we think of it today, rather its more like indentured servitude. For example, if you owed a man a debt that you couldn’t pay, under the Law, you would work for that man and your wages would incrementally relieve the debt. Once the debt was paid, you’d go free (incidentally, this is the same arrangement you have with your credit card company).
There are many other so called “oppressive” aspects of the Law which, while unprecedented during the era, would be simply considered common sense today. Under the Law, certain animals are considered “clean” and “unclean”. This is based on which animals are most likely to carry and cause disease. God was trying to keep the Israelites healthy, not be a diet Nazi.
People with certain diseases like leprosy or open wounds were considered “unclean”. The Law requires that they be separated from heath society and sanitized – things that are considered standard procedure for quarantine of communicable diseases and infection treatment to this day. So if the Law is oppressive, then so is your doctor!
Of course this is all well and good, but all this still begs the question, why did God give the Israelites all these rules as a part of the 5th Dispensation? If the purpose of the 5th Dispensation is to usher in the advent of the Redeemer, what does Israel get for all their troubles?
Rewards! If they follow the commandments of the Law, Israel was promised fantastic material prosperity! Prosperity that would make them the envy of all the other nations in the world.
But again, what does this have to do with the purpose of the 5th Dispensation. It’s all about Israel’s intended role as God’s ambassador nation.
Here how it was to work, God gave Israel the Law, which gave them the standards to follow that would make them a healthy, equitable, and civilized society. The Law also gave them ceremonial rules that would memorialize the advent of the Redeemer in advance (more on that in the next post). As Israel obeyed the Law, they would become wealthy and prosperous.
Other neighboring nations would see their prosperity and say, “hey, how’d you guys manage to get all that stuff?” This would give Israel the opportunity to tell them about God, the Law, and the Redeemer.
If the neighboring nations submitted to the Law, they too would become prosperous, leading their neighbors to ask about their wealth. Submission to God’s Law would grow exponentially, and by the time of the advent of the Redeemer, the entire world would be ready for Him, and God could quickly implement His plan.
But there was also a flip side. You see, God had to set things up so that if Israel disobeyed God’s Law and acted unrighteous and unjustly, they would be cursed as spectacularly as they would have been blessed for obedience.
The reason for the harshness of the curse is they same as the reasoning for the great blessing – They were God’s acknowledged representatives on earth.
If other nations saw Israel acting immorally without any consequence, they would assume that God was ok with their evil behavior. So God had to punish disobedience severely so that the nations would know that evil was not acceptable to Him.
Sadly, Israel chose the path of disobedience to the Law more often than not. Thus much of the details of the 5th Dispensation in the Old Testament consists of the sad narrative pattern of Israel screwing up, God punishing them, Israel repenting, God restoring them, and then Israel going right back to screwing up. Ultimately resulting in the tragic screw-up where they failed to acknowledge the Redeemer and failed the dispensation.
I mentioned before that in addition to the rules regarding health and conduct, the Law contained many commandments that were sacramental in nature – dealing with blood sacrifices, the priesthood, etc. These rules are often confused for religion, because frankly, they look like religion. But they actually served a very practical purpose in preparing people for the advent of the Redeemer. More on this next time.
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June 24, 2013
The dispensations are God’s contrastive way of proving that His plan for man is right, by allowing mankind the opportunity to choose to be Godly on their own. So far we’ve examined four dispensations. In the first, man was in a state of complete innocence. In the second men were allowed to acquire vast knowledge. In the third, men had full agreement. In the fourth, God gave them earthly representatives to guide their choice. In each dispensation, mankind chose themselves over God by thinking comparatively. Furthermore, each dispensation resulted in men becoming more evil.
Its obvious that men will not choose God of their own volition. It would be unjust of God to continue to give man free reign to make that choice if the proven result is increased evil. The just thing to do would be to begin to lay the ground work for His plan, let men see it, and then allow them the opportunity to choose to be a part of that plan.
And thus we have the Fifth Dispensation (under which over half of the Biblical narrative occurs)
The Fifth Dispensation is commonly referred to as the “Dispensation of the Law”, and while that is technically accurate, I think it would be more appropriate to call it the Dispensation of Redemption.
Although the Law and its fulfillment is a major part of this dispensation, the choice that ultimately decides the success or failure of this dispensation is based on God’s offer of redemption.
God’s plan requires that man be like Him in order to spend eternity with him. The problem is that man’s nature post-Dispensation 1 falls well short of God’s, which is why we need redemption. As we saw in an earlier post, we are essentially addicts, and the first step in dealing with addicts is to get them to admit they have a problem and need help. But since our addiction is rooted in pride, admitting that we are in need of spiritual detox is a tall order.
That’s where the law comes in.
After the Israelites were set free from Egypt by Pharaoh (ending the 4th dispensation), Moses led them Mt. Sinai where God wrote His Law on stone tablets. The most famous are the first ten (known appropriately as the Ten Commandments), but there are actually over 100 commands from God (including the entire book of Leviticus) dealing with everything from holiness and morality, to personal conduct, property rights, ceremonial procedures, worship instructions, food safely, litigation, hygiene, and medicine. By the time he was done hauling all the stone tablets down, I’m pretty sure Moses wished God had used pen and paper.
The Law served two very important purposes – the first was to show men what sin was! In the first four dispensations, there was no comprehensive definition for sin. Men were given their opportunity to choose God or themselves in a very open-ended fashion. Because of this freedom (and the nature of man) people were free to justify their ungodly actions as good, even though they were evil.
Knowing this, God knew He had to set concrete and objective standards of Holiness (perfection), lest man come to think that he could meet those standards on his own and qualify for Heaven through his own works.
The Law provides that definition for sin. It shows that what God considers sin is so encompassing that there is no way any mortal man can go an entire day (let alone a lifetime) without committing sin and falling short of God’s requirement for perfection – which is the only way to qualify for Heaven and eternal life.
So then, if its impossible for man to achieve perfection, then aren’t we all doomed to never enter God’s presence if left to our own devices?
The answer is yes! We cannot ever earn Heaven and eternal life on our own. As I wrote in my earlier posts on life and death, we are born dead. The only way to gain life is to obtain redemption from someone with perfect thinking and perfect blood.
That is the second purpose of the Law – to usher in the advent of a redeemer who was qualified to justly offer mankind access to the perfect thinking and perfect blood that would result in eternal life.
How does this happen? God does this on our behalf by performing the most important, humble, and incomprehensible act in all of history. God makes Himself into a man without the mark of Original Sin (so He has perfect blood). Then He lives a life free of sin, in complete obedience to the Law (perfect thinking). Then He allows Himself to be killed unjustly, thus taking on then penalty and punishment that we all deserve.
However, since He is not deserving of death, He is justly resurrected from the dead. Finally, He offers us the opportunity to accept His sacrifice on our behalf and take possession of His perfection in place of our own depravity.
Again, it is the most incredible act imaginable, and we will spend several upcoming posts examining all aspects of it.
Its also VERY important to understand that the focus of this dispensation is the nation of Israel (remember, after Babel, God only deals with men as national entities). THEY are the ones who make the choice that decides the fate of the fifth dispensation.
After the Law is given in the Book of Exodus (and detained and repeated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy) the rest of the Old Testament (80% of it!) deals with the history of Israel from the exodus from Egypt to the death and resurrection of the Redeemer (I will make the argument in a later post that the Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John) are technically Old Testament books).
Much that documented history includes very detailed predictions of the life, career, death, and resurrection of the Redeemer. So much so, that the people of Israel (who were required to read their scriptures dutifully) had absolutely no excuse to not acknowledge the Redeemer when He finally arrived on the scene and choose to accept His gift of redemption when offered.
However, not only did Israel NOT accept their Redeemer, they didn’t even recognize Him when He came, despite all the clearly predicted evidence! How could this possibly happen? The same way it happened in previous dispensations – comparative thinking. Specifically religion.
By the time the Redeemer arrived, Israel had turned the Law into religion. And the religious leaders had become so brain damaged that they not only rejected the Man they had been expecting for centuries, they were the ones who conspired to have Him unjustly killed!
Thus by rejecting God in favor of their own religious pride, the people of Israel caused the failure of the 5th Dispensation.
Obviously a great deal happened during the 5th Dispensation, and we will spend the next several posts examining them in detail. We will begin next time by looking at some of the myths of the Law and truth of its actual purpose…
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April 7, 2013
This will be the last post in the current series examining the character and career of the primary antagonist of our existential narrative – the being called “Satan”. In the last two posts, we looked at Satan’s partners in crime, the many fallen angels who rebelled with him against God and have joined him in his vain attempt to thwart God’s plan.
In this final post, we will see that there is one other group that share the goals and aspirations of the fallen angels and act as their agents in a symbiotic relationship. They are a group that is familiar to us because we’ve analyzed them before – human Mystics!
The goal of Mystics is to rule over humanity and recreate Eden on earth without (or in defiance to) God. Since their goals are so closely aligned, its not surprising that they would strike up a partnership with their supernatural cohorts.
The Mystics of Spirit rule over men by claiming to have an association with “the gods”. They keep their position by invoking fear of said gods and have maintained their influence through history by being the keepers of these “arcane secrets”.
And that’s all well and good, however I admittedly left something out of my original posts that can be brought up now. Which is the question, how could Mystics maintain this façade over any moderately intelligent person for so long based only on their empty claims?
One explanation (and the one we probably default to) is to assume that the ancient masses were just not as smart and sophisticated as we are today. Basically, the knuckle-dragging morons of the ancient world were so backwards and superstitious that they took theses charlatans at their word when they claimed that sacrificing your first born under the full moon at midnight would assure a bountiful crop next season. Or they could bring down fire from the gods on infidels. But of course we wouldn’t fall for that kind of stuff because we’re soooo much smarter.
But is the depiction of the ancients as drooling, sloped-forehead troglodytes really accurate?
Lets keep in mind the fact that these are the same people who invented math, science, and language. They built monuments such as the Great Pyramid and Stonehenge, which are structures of such precision, accuracy, and astrological/geological expertise that to this day we cannot duplicate them of figure out how they made them even with all of our sophisticated gadgets.
So if the ancients were not necessarily the rubes we think they were, how were the Mystics able to dupe them? Well, I think it is highly likely that these was some actually truth in the Mystics’ claims. Insofar as the fallen angels were given god-like regard, certain Mystics DID have a connection to them that they could use to convince the ancients.
If you put get in front if the masses and SAY that you have the power to do the miraculous, you might get a few (or a lot of) suckers to believe you if you have enough charisma (I’m pretty sure that’s how our current president got elected – oops, I promised to keep politics out of this blog…). But if you make those claims, AND give people an occasional demonstration of your supernatural connections, well your argument becomes exponentially more convincing.
The reason that otherwise intelligent folks in the past believed the Mystics is because they saw proof of their supernatural connections! Remember, that at the end of the fourth dispensation, when God brought the 10 plagues on Egypt through Moses, the Mystics at Pharaoh’s court were able to duplicate the first two using their spiritual connection to the powerful fallen angelic “gods” who governed that empire!
The occurrences of supernatural events are almost taken for granted in the Bible and other ancient texts. The writers of these stories fully expected their readers to take them seriously when they presented narratives about floods, and plagues, and signs and wonders.
Not only were there physical demonstrations of power, the apocryphal Book of Enoch implies that fallen angels provided sophisticated knowledge of agriculture, medicine, astronomy, and industry to people of the Second Dispensation. If this information was kept and guarded by the Mystics throughout the centuries, they could make use of it in very convincing ways.
For example, if the Mystics had (and kept secret) knowledge of the cycle of solar eclipses, they could tell people that “the gods will darken the Sun next Tuesday to show their displeasure!” You can then imagine the reactions of the masses when the eclipse happened as predicted.
So how did this all work? Well, starting with the Mother of Mystics (who may have had access to supernatural through the being who sired her son/husband), the connection to the supernatural could have been passed on to her various priests, who, when Babel was divided into nations, took their knowledge and connections with them into other societies as they spread throughout the globe.
In this mutually beneficial arrangement, the Mystics would get the power they desired to rule over men, and in return, the fallen angels would mortal aid in their endeavors to thwart the plan of God. After all, its one thing for them to try to ruin God’s plan on their own, but its an even bigger slap in the face to have that plan opposed by some of the very creatures it is meant to benefit.
Despite how incredible it sounds, its probably not as uncommon as one would think. If you look just past the superficial façade of our society, stories abound about people taking spiritual short cuts to success. (I mean how else do you explain how incompetent politicians and talentless celebrities gain inexplicable wealth and influence? I’m sure that when Satan flosses his teeth, chunks of Jimmy Fallon’s soul fly out).
So then, if all of this is true, it begs an obvious question – Why don’t we see overt supernatural shenanigans today? Surely with common access to video equipment and the Internet, it wouldn’t be much of a chore to document some infidel getting char-broiled by a Mystic channeling “Moltar the god of fire”. But instead all we get are the occasional fuzzy shot of a “UFO” or the silhouette of Big Foot ducking behind a ponderosa pine tree.
There are a few possible explanations:
- The supernatural stuff only happens in uncivilized parts of the world where you can still find the occasional shaman tuning people into frogs. Maybe, but why is the western world immune? Are fallen angels afraid of electricity and freeway traffic?
- It still happens, but its kept secret by the current ruling Mystics who only trot out their tricks in hidden enclaves like Bohemian Grove. This idea is touted by the conspiracy theorist, but despite whatever merit it may have, you still wonder why its kept so clandestine when Mystics of the past made a big show of it to aid their cause.
- God is currently keeping things in check. The Bible strongly implies that in our current dispensation (the sixth), God is actively restraining evil. In the Sixth Dispensation, God resides in the hearts of believers on earth (obviously we’ll detail all this when we examine the Sixth Dispensation). God’s active presence in the world is the restraining force that literally prevents all hell from breaking loose. So Mystics and fallen angels are not free to operate as they once did. However, when this current dispensation ends, the Bible makes it clear that demonic activity will ramp up exponentially…
If explanation #3 is correct. It would be interesting to observe how the influence of evil in this world grows in proportion to the amount that God’s influence through His believers wanes…
There is a great deal more to say on the subject of Satan and his minions, but for now, we will end our look at the dark side here. Its time to get back to out examination of the dispensations.
In the first four dispensations, God gave men fairly open-ended opportunities to chose Him over themselves. With the failure of men to do so each time, it would seem that the only just thing for God to do would be to give men very specific examples of how things should be done – culminating with the ULTIMATE example of how to choose God over man. The Fifth Dispensation begins next time…
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January 22, 2013
Unlike God, Satan is not transcendent. He can’t be everywhere at once to rule his kingdom, but he has help. When he fell, a great number of angels fell with him.
The Bible doesn’t give us a great deal of information about angels, and since human curiosity abhors a vacuum of knowledge, people have filled in the blanks with details and characterizations of angels, any of which are fanciful and/or completely wrong.
For example, there are no female angels; angels are always depicted as male (despite a very convincing argument by Victoria’s Secret). Also, angels don’t have a pair of feathery wings. A small group of special angels called Seraphim have wings – but they have six, and it isn’t clear that they look anything like bird’s wings. And they don’t have halos (I’m not even sure what the point of depicting them with halos was in the first place).
In the last post, I presented a Biblical passage which provides a rare look into the world of angels (good and bad). In this passage from the book of Daniel, we see that there is an invisible war going on all around us that impacts our world (and that we can affect!). In additions to giving us insight into God’s plan through the prophesy that the angels gives Daniel, this passage also gives us some interesting details about angels.
Angels are powerful
If you were to ever see an angel in all its glory, you wouldn’t feel comforted or enraptured by its beauty. You’d nearly drop a brick in your shorts, just like everyone else in the Bible who encountered them! Angels operate on a level of power that we can scarcely understand and dwarfs anything we can come up with. One angel killed 185,000 Assyrians one night after dinner! There are NOT creatures that you want to mess with.
Fallen angels share Satan’s goals
Satan’s goal is to block and hinder the plan of God and all efforts to advance that plan. The prophesies given in the book of Daniel are some of the most important in the Bible and reveal much about God’s plan. So it seems that the most powerful territorial spirit of that time went to battle in order to prevent Daniel from getting the prophesy (Persia was the most powerful world empire at the time). Which brings us to the next thing we learn about fallen angels…
Fallen angels are territorial
When Adam and Eve committed Original Sin, their dominion of Earth was given to Satan and his crew. We know from Daniel and other Biblical references that spiritual entities are often the power behind human leaders.
Its interesting that the “Prince of Persia” was the spiritual entity trying to block Daniel’s message. Persia was the dominant world empire and Daniel lived during the height of that kingdom. But note that the Angel with the prophesy stated that after he goes back to fight the prince of Persia, he will have to later fight the Prince of Greece! The Greek empire conquered the Persians and became the subsequent world empire, but it wouldn’t happen for another 200 years after Daniel’s life!
There is a LOT going on in the spiritual world that we can only scarcely perceive. And it leads to other provocative questions: has every dominant world power in history had an evil spiritual “prince” ruling over it? Is there currently a “Prince of the Power of the United States” presiding over us right now (and is he from a red state or a blue state)?
And to bring it a little closer to home, since there are possibly billions of fallen angels out there (enough for each one of us), are you someone’s spiritual “territory”? (Boo!)
Satan’s kingdom is fractured
As we saw in an earlier post, Satan’s desire to rule over the earth perfectly is constantly thwarted because men share his rebellious nature and his desire to rule. Well, the same is true for his angelic counterparts. Although they may share the same big picture goals, they fall into lockstep with Satan when it comes to ruling their particular principalities. Note that when the prince of Greece succeeded the prince of Persia as the dominant world power, it wasn’t through an amicable transition of power. It was the result of a bloody war that cost tens of thousands of lives! (Not to mention whatever battles took place in the spiritual realm) And so it has been with just about every conflict between kingdoms. Even as the world marches toward the Armageddon scenario where Satan’s own personal world rule is at its zenith under the Antichrist, there are still kingdoms that don’t fall into line.
So man and fallen angels have something in common in that they share Satan’s comparative goals to rule. It would seen logical that they take advantage of this shared ambition to advance their common aspirations. And in fact they do! Evil spiritual entities have often been the power behind a group of mortals that have had historic designs on ruling this world. We will explore how Satanic entities have used and been used by our old friends the Mystics – next time
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December 26, 2012
Pride led the angelic being called Lucifer to rebel against God. But he wasn’t alone in his rebellion. Other angelic beings followed his lead and left Heaven as well. Most probably joined Lucifer’s initial rebellion for the same reasons that he did. While others succumbed to the same thing that has led many of us to make tragic and regrettable decisions . . . chasing sex.
Whatever their reasons, this world is now inhabited by a multitude of powerful supernatural beings who share the same destructive traits as Satan – possibly as many as a third of the angelic host. So how large a multitude are we talking about?
Angels were the first intelligent beings that God created. They witnessed the rest of creation. We don’t know how many exist, but they are consistently referred to throughout the Bible in relation to “the stars of heaven”. If this metaphor has a numerical correlation, then the fallen third of the angelic host could easily number into the billions.
That would be more than enough for us to each have our own personal fallen angel whispering evil thoughts to us (not a very comforting thought, but it does explain congresses’ voting record).
Lest we think that this idea is just the stuff of horror movies or sadistic Sunday School teachers, its important to note that the Bible is full of narrations of demon possession(if you read the Gospels it seemed like Jesus was casting a demon out of somebody every week)and supernatural demonic influence.
One event that is particularly enlightening occurs in the book of Daniel, chapter 10. This is one of the rare instances where the veil is pulled back and we see how events in our corporeal world affect, and are affected by the unseen spiritual world all around us.
In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult…
But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground…The said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.”…
“Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince. – Daniel 10: 2-6, 9, 12-14, 20-21 NASV
The prophet Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks when an angel (a good one) came to him with an important prophesy from God. This being was so spectacular; Daniel could only describe him by comparing him to fire, lightning, and precious metals. He frightened Daniel so badly that he practically went into a coma – and this was a GOOD angel! Imagine how frightening a bad one must be!
But here’s where it gets weirder. That angel was dispatched by God on the FIRST day that Daniel began praying. So why did it take the angel 21 days to get to Daniel? Because another supernatural being called the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” battled him and blocked him from getting to Daniel for three weeks until he got help!
Furthermore, once he was done giving Daniel this message, he had to go back and fight this prince of Persia again – and after that, he had to fight someone called the prince of Greece.
There is a LOT going on in this passage and exploring it will help us understand a great deal about the role, identity, and mission of fallen angels. Specifically, we will see:
- They share Satan’s goals
- They have different levels of power and authority
- They have specific territorial authority and power
- Satan doesn’t have totally control over them
- They have historically been the power behind human rulers
October 28, 2012
We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. – 1 John 5:19
Satan’s position toward man is one of antagonism and envy. When God created Adam, Satan saw more than a new creature in the universe. He saw a rival. Although Adam was not created with the same level of angelic power and glory that he had, it was clear to Satan that God held him in a special place. Adam was created in God’s image. That is a claim that no other created being, including Satan could make. Moreover, God gave Adam dominion over what was once Satan’s.
Not only was part of Satan’s former primordial kingdom on earth given to Adam, his descendants were destined to have all the things that Satan desired before he fell.
This was not a situation that Satan’s pride could bear. He desired to bring God’s new creation under his own control and thwart man’s destiny. If Satan could take what God gave Adam, AND get man to choose Satan over God – he would achieve a double victory – he’d thwart the Plan of God and get the worship he desired.
When the serpent convinced Eve (and ultimately Adam) into eating the forbidden fruit, Satan achieved more than just the failure of the First Dispensation; he actually used a legal technicality to usurp Adam’s position as the ruler of Earth (does this make Satan the archetype for all lawyers? It would explain a lot…).
But even with this victory, Satan does not get what he wants. God gave man something that Satan does not have – free will. Although man is born with enmity toward God, he does not automatically turn to Satan as an alternative. Instead, man chooses to go his own way. In some cases, man may choose to worship Satan directly, but usually man emulates Satan’s rebellious nature by resisting all authority and doing his own will. So while the world lies under the SWAY of the devil, men still chose to do what they want in defiance to all authority. In short, Satan wanted worshipers, but instead got a bunch of unruly teenagers
Satan has legal authority over the earth and if he were able to rule it perfectly, it would go a long way towards showing his equality with God. But with individual humans possessing a nature as rebellious as his own, Satan cannot replicate God’s perfect rule in heaven. The only way to have perfect authority is for all the subjects under your dominion to have a common will or a common goal.
Although individual humans have their own wills, they have something in common with Satan in that their wills are in defiance to God. Satan uses this to his advantage in trying to create his kingdom on earth. Satan uses his evil influence to try to get men to unify behind their dark desires and completely extinguish God’s influence from the planet. Yet Satan has never been able to completely accomplish this because throughout history, there have always been a remnant of humanity who was willing to choose God.
In Genesis 6, all of humanity was totally subdued by evil , but God found one faithful man through which he could salvage humanity in Noah. After the flood of Noah, man was again united and, committed to evil, and again God found a faithful man in Abraham through whom he could execute His plan . Israel was God’s chosen people who preserved His Word and will while Godless world empires rose and fell all around them. After the death and resurrection of Christ, the early church held up the light in darkness. Their existence kept the world from completely succumbing to corruption. Even today, Satan tempts men to get behind causes that attempt to place entire world under a single authority in defiance to God – be it fascism, communism, socialism, environmentalism, capitalism, theocracy, or any other man-centered form of authority. But the presence of the few who decide to choose God prevent this from happening.
As we’ve seen in this post, Satan’s ambitions to grandeur did not end when he got the boot from heaven. He still wants to rule the universe and be worshipped. If you think that this is way too big of a job for a single being to carry out (especially one that does not have God’s transcendence and access to information) then you’re right. Satan has had a LOT of help. Satan’s co-conspirators consist of powerful beings like himself, as well as powerful and influential men on earth. Next week we will take a look at the first of Satan’s little helpers – Fallen Angels.
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