The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

John is getting ready to faithfully record more of the incredible (and incredibly bizarre) visions in heaven as Revelation ten begins. However, the text says this, 

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the landand he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” 10.1-4 

This wouldn’t be the first time that partial information is purposefully held back. The book of Daniel is considered to be “Revelation’s relative” and in Daniel 12 we see a similarity. The prophet understands that Israel will be destroyed and, understandably, he would like to know when these things will take place. 

“Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 12.8 

The answers aren’t given and Daniel is left to wonder. The angels goes on to say, 

 “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” 

9-13 

We don’t get to know everything. In fact, we know based on these two accounts that God doesn’t reveal all of the information we’d like to know. We can rest peacefully knowing that God does reveal everything we need to know. For those of us who enjoy a good mystery, there are many to be found within scripture. 

The content shared by the thundering voices in Revelation 10 aren’t revealed in scripture. Perhaps because we don’t need to know these things. Maybe what was being said has already taken place, or maybe the information is beyond our earthly comprehension. God’s Word is a fascinating and incredible collection. It has the ability to save all of us— as well as the tendency to make us scratch our heads. 

Planning Like Prophets

Planning Like Prophets

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

Vision: The ability to think about or plan for the future with imagination and wisdom. 

 In the book of Revelation we read of seven churches that needed to develop different areas of weakness in order to be the church Christ needed them to be. 

The Old Testament is also filled with valuable information and strategies to help congregations develop and execute their visions. Each church family will differ and since that’s the case, each congregation needs custom vision.

Here are two Old Testament passages that give us some insight into the mind of God on the subject of vision planning

  1. A Good Vision Is Visible 

         Habakkuk 2:2-3 

Though Habakkuk’s message was concerning the the conquest of Babylon, this text is invaluable for us today. 

Here we read God’s strategy for successful/effective planning. 

“Write down the revelation 

It should be tangible
    “and make it plain on tablets”

It should be precise 
    “so that a herald may run with it.”

It should be effectiveA vision without legs won’t go far. 

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.”

 A vision should be lasting. When God spoke to the prophets they would often record things that would happen years in the future. With these future events written down, the following generations could plan accordingly. God is coming back and eternity is coming, we must create a plan so that we and those after us can continue to prepare. 

  1. If It’s Not His, It’s Hopeless 

          Jeremiah 23.16 

“This is what the Lord Almighty says:

God must have a voice 

“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;

The ungodly shouldn’t have a voice when it comes to planning a vision for God’s people
    they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
    not from the mouth of the Lord.”

God must have a voice because the vision shouldn’t be born from the mind of man!

Seven Horns And Seven Eyes (Revelation 5)

Seven Horns And Seven Eyes (Revelation 5)

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

By the time we reach Revelation chapter five John is writing in greater detail all of the glory unfolding in the throne room of God. The door to heaven was opened and the revelator was called through it by the trumpeting voice of the Lord. The theories and wildly different views on the book and it’s meaning for the modern Christian seem to become more prominent in this chapter as well. Let’s briefly work our way through some of the challenging sections. 

Seven Seals 

First, in the opening lines we read of a scroll with writing on the front and back. This seems to indicate that there was much to be revealed as scrolls were typically written on one side only. 

Some have taken the seven seals to mean seven different scrolls, but the text only indicates one scrolls with seven wax seals holding it together. 

Over the years scholars have debated the contents of the scroll, but Jesus could break the seals (5.3-4). While there are several opinions about what was contained on the scroll, it’s best seen as the final will for the affairs of the universe. As vague and frustrating as that may sound, there’s simply no textual evidence to assume otherwise. In ancient Rome it was common to have government wills and classified documents protected by seven seals. To open such an important scroll required a high ranking individual. 

A Mighty Angel 

Calling out in a loud voice the angel asks, “who can open the scroll?” John begins to weep. If this mighty angel is searching for someone worthy, surely there’s not another who could possibly open it. 

The Lamb With Seven Eyes & Seven Horns 

The lamb which is representing Christ here is depicted as having features not normally seen on these animals. Seven eyes, which symbolize God’s all seeing eye. Then there are the seven horns, representing God’s ultimate power. The number seven was God’s number and it represents perfection and completion. The seven spirits, then, indicating the fullness and completeness of God. 

Who can open the seals? Only Jesus with His perfect power and foresight is able to open this one. Revelation is the great revealing of Christ, and Christ is the only One able to reveal it’s secrets. 

The book in it’s entirety has a message from God for us, but we must be sure to understand His revelation— not man’s. 

A Door In The Sky & The Trumpet Of His Voice 

A Door In The Sky & The Trumpet Of His Voice 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Revelation 1.3 

To prepare the mind for the door and the trumpet of chapter 4, let’s review the Revelator’s response. 

John Is Literally Paralyzed By Fear  

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid.I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  1.17

The Trumpet Of His Voice 

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet..” 1.10 

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 4.1 

Let’s take a second to appreciate this window into the heavenly realm. These precious details should make you hunger for more. 

Let’s Speculate For A Moment 

Roman cornu found at Pompeii, Public domain

While the “trumpet” is used metaphorically, there’s a particular kind of trumpet that John may have been thinking of. It’s called the Roman Cornu. 

This brass signal trumpet was around nine feet long, curved into a “G” shape, and supported by a crossbar. Recently, two of these horns were found by archeologists in the ruins of Pompeii. 

These trumpets were used to direct Roman troops on the Roman battlefield. One military strategist by the name Vegetius said, 

“The rules (given by blowing the horn) must be punctually observed in all exercises and reviews so that the soldiers may be ready to obey them in action without hesitation according to the general’s orders either to charge or halt, to pursue the enemy or to retire.”

A trumpet that could be heard over the din of battle? That had to be loud. 

Click hear to listen to a short example of a perfect replica of a Cornu horn being blown. It’s loud, exciting, and terrifying. 

That’ll raise the hair on your neck. 

Traveling Through The Door In The Sky 

The voice of the Lord was like that of trumpet, and it was calling John to come through a door in the sky (4.1). 

We read that John was in the Spirit in Revelation 1.10, but something else seems to be going on here. This is a new experience and even with the help of Inspiration, it’s difficult to describe in a  limited human language. 

Did John’s body travel through the door as well? That’s anybody’s guess and while on earth— a concrete answer is impossible to find. 

Paul hardly even tried to describe his journey into the spiritual world as descriptive terms don’t seem to do it justice (2 Cor. 12.1-4). 

The Meaning Of The Door 

Was it a portal? Did it have hinges and a knocker? Was it floating? 

Before the imagination runs wild, let’s look at a couple of the practical points. 

  1. The door, while both symbolic and physical in some respects, represents perspective. John is stranded on an island, but God gives him another vantage point. Seeing things from a spiritual high place can help reorient ourselves. How does God see our lives? What does the church look like from up there? That’s what Revelation 1-3 is all about. 
  2. There’s a plan being worked out behind the veil of eternity. Just like Job suffered without knowing the details (Job 1), we can take comfort in the fact that things down here always go according to His plan. 

While the details aren’t as colorful as we would like them to be, here’s 3 important facts He would want us to remember. 

  1. There’s definitely a way into heaven. 
  2. God’s the only one who can open that door. 
  3. We should focus on preparing our souls to step across that final threshold. 

If you couldn’t confidentially walk into His throne room right now, that should be your number one concern. 

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3.12 

“The World” (1 John: Part 5)

“The World” (1 John: Part 5)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an “essentially literal” translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

The World (Cont.)

Anyone who denies that Jesus is the chosen king is a liar. Anyone who rejects the father and the son is an enemy of Jesus. Anyone who rejects Jesus rejects his father, too. 

But anyone who acknowledges Jesus partners with the father, too! It’s important that you stick to what you’ve heard from the start. If you do, you are partners with the son and the father. Through this message we’ve been promised eternal life. 

I’m writing to you because people are trying to deceive you. He chose you, and that stands – no one needs to teach you anymore about it. When he chose you, you learned everything you needed to know. His choosing you was legitimate, not a deception. Stick with him. 

Stick with him so that whenever he’s revealed, you can be confident. You don’t want to be disgraced when he comes back. If you know he’s morally perfect, then you really know that every person who practices moral excellence is his child.

Secrets And Symbolism In Scripture

Secrets And Symbolism In Scripture

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

The Bible’s use of symbolic numbers carry with them a mystical tone. While some numerical usage is familiar to us such as the seven days of creation, other passages can leave one perplexed. A portion of Bible readers will choose to simply glaze over what they don’t understand– others will become frustrated toward an unfamiliar abstraction. The sixth-century philosopher Pythagoras believed that numbers carried a deeper meaning and could be used for more than mathematics. It’s interesting to note that the Greeks assigned a number to their alphabet in such a way that one could turn each word into a number and each number into a letter. Alpha was equal to one, beta would be two— and so on. With the intimidating mountain of confusion that’s associated with Biblical numerology, it would be helpful to create a list (though an incomplete one) of the most popular numbers found in scripture. 

COMMON BIBLICAL NUMBERS AND THEIR MEANING 

  666: The number of the beast in Revelation 13.18 could be the most widely feared  by the superstitious. It’s possible that much of the symbolism within Revelation is due to the ongoing persecution of the church since the masking of names  and places would add a layer of protection from a vicious government. In other words, it might have been written in a coded language in the same way that military intelligence would code their sensitive messages. 

12: It’s the number that represents power and authority. Jacob has twelve sons, who then fathered seven nations. The seed of Abraham will bring about the Messiah and His twelve followers. When the number twelve is used, we can be sure of an underlying importance. It’s likely to be in a section which is only part of a prominent Biblical thread. As the holy timeline unfolds, the number twelve is then understood and fully appreciated. 

7: Used many times in both the Old and New Testaments (over 600 times), the number seven is prominently found in the book of Revelation. There are seven churches, seven seals, seven angels, seven stars.,etc. It’s a representation of perfection or completeness and is regarded by the Hebrews and Greeks alike to be a number attributed to God. God is perfect and makes all things complete just as He completed all things in a seven day period, including His day of rest. 

40: Noah and his family endure forty days and nights of rain while on the ark, Jesus would fast for the same period of time, and for forty days Moses would stay on Sinai  to receive the holy law from God. There are other examples, but the number itself symbolizes a period of trial and testing. It’s interesting to note that several ancient cultures outside of Mesopotamia believed that it took twenty days to break a habit, and twenty days to form new ones. A total of forty days. Some psychologists even believe that in order to change a negative personality trait, you’ll need to supplement the negative with a positive for forty days, if the results are to be lasting. While the use of the number outside of scripture is speculative, God is clear in how He utilizes it. 

 1: A fascinating number that’s independent, yet it makes up all other numbers after it. It represents unity and is also attributed to God along with three and seven. 

 Though God is made up of three personalities, they are all unified. The significance of both three and one can be found in Ephesians 4.5-6 where Paul would say that there is only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. John 14.6 declares that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There’s power in the verified and absolute singularity of each use of one, especially when they appear in sets of three. This number brings a heavy humility. Our minds must come to focus on the finality of the Judgment. There will only be one Great Day, and it’s on that Day where each person will be responsible for how they lived their lives here. Every nation and tribe will be there but it will come to a head in a critical moment. A time will come where each one will stand before The One to receive our perfect and just sentence. 


2 Peter (Part 2)

2 Peter (Part 2)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of II Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

Message is Credible

Family, you have to make sure you’re in a good place when it comes to your relationship with Jesus. If you’re practicing all those qualities we just talked about, you’ll be ok. You’ll make it to eternal life. You know this stuff already, but it’s always a good idea to remind you. You’re already in a good place, but as long as I’m alive, I’ll keep reminding you. I’m going to die soon. Jesus made that clear to me. Because of this, I want to make sure you’ll remember everything I taught you. What we taught you originally is still valid. Jesus is powerful and he’s coming back to us. We weren’t duped into believing an intricate lie. We were firsthand witnesses to his superior nature! One time, the ultimate power – God – validated this by saying, “This is my son. I love him and I think very highly of him.” He said that right in front of us while we were with Jesus on a mountain. His voice came from the sky. This made us confident that we have the right message. Since we’re confident in this message, you should be, too! Focus on what we’ve told you like you’d focus on a light source in a dark room. Hang onto this until the end, when everything will be light and darkness won’t exist. It’s very important that you understand something: we don’t get to decide what a prophecy means. No human has ever produced a legitimate prophecy. Those came from men who were influenced by God’s spirit. 

Test His Truth

Test His Truth

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

(now the pulpit minister of the Tompkinsville church of Christ, Tompkinsville, KY)

   With countless opinions and information out there, God is just another “option” and the Bible is just “good advice to follow.” Dave Mustaine summed up how many people feel when he said, “The Bible and several other self help or enlightenment books cite the Seven Deadly Sins. They are: pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth, and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that we do, that is sinful… or fun for that matter.”

Is the Bible just an ancient “self-help” book that tells us not to do anything fun? Questioning God is not something new. Even Epicurus said, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?” I truly believe that you can understand who God is just based on scripture. When He gave that book to man, He gave us a piece of Himself.

God wants a relationship with us (I Peter 5:6-7). This is why He has purposefully informed us about Himself. People need God whether they know it or not. I’d encourage you, as an individual,  to put the Bible on trial. Put the accuracy of its pages to the test. It has withstood hundreds of years of accusations and doubt. Often we are able to grow in our faith and belief as a result of seeking and searching. As His church, we have a responsibility to proclaim the excellence of our creator. We do it by our love for others, exposing the evidence of His existence, and introducing Jesus every opportunity we have. 

 
The Great Canon

The Great Canon

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The “Heavy Gustaf” was a German cannon of incredible size. It’s barrel was 31.5 inches wide and it was built in the 1930s. The entire purpose of this weapon was not to wound the enemy but to completely destroy the French forts which were the strongest of any at the time. 

Later this weapon aided in destroying a Soviet munitions depot that lay 98 feet underground in WWII. It was one of the biggest cannons ever built, but it’s certainly not the most powerful. That title belongs to The Canon of scripture. It doesn’t have the power to take life but to give life eternal. It has the power to convict and completely change someone caught in the clutches of sin. God’s Word is a testimony and another evidence of God’s power. It answers two very important questions.

How do I prepare myself to live on this earth? 

How I do I prepare myself to leave this earth? 

In God’s Word the steps to salvation are revealed. Righteousness is defined as well as sinfulness. It’s a piece of God’s mind, it’s a book from heaven. The Bible is not just paper and ink, it’s much more. When that truly begins to sink in through the study and practice of what’s been written, our spiritual lives and faith will grow in leaps and bounds. We should be confident that grateful to have a guide given by God shining a light forward towards His glory.

Psalm 119:105 

Learning A Lesson From A Lantern

Learning A Lesson From A Lantern

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

I’m a big fan of old fashioned lighting, especially old kerosene lanterns because they’re simple. I went to light one of my lanterns and the flame wouldn’t stay alive for more than a few seconds. I thought, “Maybe the vent is covered in carbon and there isn’t enough oxygen for the flame.” So, I took it apart, cleaned it out, and put it back together. I was sure it was the vent.

To my chagrin, the flame died within seconds even after the lantern was cleaned. Next I trimmed the wick because it seemed too dark; perhaps having a fresh wick would allow the flame to stay alive. It wasn’t a stopped vent, so it had to be the wick. Sure enough, the flame died even with a fresh wick. At this point I was stumped. 

The next day it occurred to me whilst putting gas in my car: the lantern was just out of kerosene! It was obvious to the extreme. I knew Chelsea would never let that one go. When I got home I put the kerosene into the lantern which, of course, was the solution to a simple problem that I overcomplicated.

This is a mundane example of a profound truth: we make mistakes as humans. Worse yet, some people put words in God’s mouth that He never used. “My God is a God of love – He wouldn’t condemn me just for this one little sin.” “God doesn’t care if we live the way we want.” Some use phrases like this with great confidence while overlooking an obvious truth: God has told us what He does and does not care about in His word.

If we aren’t in the word listening to God and allowing Him to change us, our solutions will end in failure. There was only one solution to keep that flame going in my lantern. There is only one right way to follow God, and He’s told us how to do that! Life will be so much easier for those who look to God for answers before relying on their own wisdom.

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