Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bone-Chilling Stories from the Bible: Part 2

Once again, we turn to the Bible to find bone-chilling stories this Halloween...

3. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Some of the most iconic figures of horror in the Bible are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Most people perceive that the horsemen will appear in the sky and swoop down to kill masses of people at the end of the world. Their descriptions are found in Revelation chapter 6, but it is unclear concerning whether they are prophetic imagery or actual entities.

The Four Horsemen appear at the opening of the sacred scroll that is presented in heaven. God presents a scroll with seven seals. The seals prevent its contents from being read because nobody can open the scroll, except for The Lamb of God.

When the Lamb opened the first seal, a white horse appeared who was bent on conquest.

When the second seal was opened, a red horse appeared that made people kill each other.

When the third seal was opened, a black horse appeared. Its rider held scales and said "A quart of wheat for a days wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the wine!"

When the fourth seal was opened, a pale horse appeared. Its rider was Death, and Hades (a.k.a. Hell) was following close behind him.

After these seals were opened, there were no more horsemen, but plenty more signs. The fifth seal causes the martyrs to cry out to God for justice. The sixth seal caused an earthquake, the sun to turn black, the moon red, the stars to fall to the earth, the sky to recede, and for every mountain and island to be removed. The seventh seal unleashed disaster on the earth, but also ushered in the judgments of the seven trumpets.

That is quite a scene presented to us in the book of Revelation.

4. Abraham's Sacrifice of Isaac and the Crucifixion of Jesus

In the 22nd chapter of Genesis, God tells Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and...Sacrifice him...as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about" (Genesis 22:2). He has never asked this of any one else in the course of history, but here he asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac!

You might expect Abraham to hesitate at such a command, but he is compliant. Early the next day, he started making preparations to sacrifice his son Isaac. From the details of the story, Abraham took Isaac to the exact location where God commanded him, tied him up, and was going to kill him with a knife before burning his remains.

However, when all the preparations were made and Abraham lifted his knife to strike Isaac dead, the angel of the Lord called out to Abraham to stop, sparing the boy's life and his father's grief.

For generations, this story has been characterized as barbaric, cruel, and pointless; but let's go forward a few hundred years to the sacrifice of another's son, who would not be spared. The Son of God.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the 27th chapter, a terrifying seen is painted for the reader. Jesus, having offered himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, was being mocked as he hung on a cross beaten, bloody, and naked for the whole world to see. At the moment of his death, the curtain of the  holy temple was torn (a curtain that was said to be so tough that horses pulling at either end could not rend it), the ground shook, and the earth split. The tombs of ancient people were opened.

This was so terrifying that a Roman centurion, a pagan, exclaimed "Surely he was the Son of God!" Darkness had come over the land. Those who witnessed the crucifixion had a taste of what the end of the world would look like.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bone-Chilling Stories from the Bible: Part 1

It's that time of the year when everyone enjoys a good scare. In searching for scary stories, what better place is there to look than the Bible? The Scriptures definitely can put the fear of God into our hearts. There are a number of scary stories in the Old and New Testaments. Some of them are genuinely scary, while others are just misunderstood. Let's take a look...

1. The Plagues of Egypt
The Plagues of Egypt are among the most famous judgments in the entire Bible. The story of the plagues can be found in Exodus 7-12, and include...
  • water turning to blood
  • frogs from the Nile
  • dust turning into gnats
  • swarms of flies
  • famine
  • boils
  • hail storms
  • ravenous locusts
  • darkness, and
  • death to the firstborn sons of Egypt.
Can you imagine any of these events taking place? Try reading Exodus 7-12, while placing yourself in that situation. It would definitely be horrifying; however, these were just a portion of God's judgments against the Israelites during the life of Moses! The Lord is righteous and desires for holy and righteous people. 

The book of Exodus opens with a story telling how Pharaoh commanded death upon newborn boys born to the Israelites. Moses was rescued through the cunning of his parents and the faithfulness of God. But the judgments were brought because of Pharaoh's refusal to release Egypt's Israelite slaves. 

The plagues have been popularized in recent movies, attributing the powers of the plagues to the black arts. Somehow Egyptian mummies were gifted with the power of the plagues to punish the people who cursed them. The real plagues, however, were not part of an ancient revenge fantasy.

2. Ananias and Saphira
The story of Ananias and Saphira is in Acts 5:1-11. The story is simple, but easily one of the most horrifying stories in the Bible. And, get ready for this, it is in the New Testament! When the church was in its infancy, it was allowing more and more followers of Jesus into fellowship with the Apostles. A man named Ananias, along with his wife Saphira, sold a piece of property. The fellowship of the Apostles required that the people in their camp share their possessions with one another and to give their money to the mission of Jesus.

Ananias claimed that he had given all of the money from the property he sold to the fellowship, but he actually kept a portion of it, secretly, for himself. Peter realized that Ananias lied against the Holy Spirit. At hearing this from Peter, Ananias fell down and died.

While Ananias' body was being carried away, his wife came into the camp. Peter asked her about the money. She lied, just as her husband had done. Immediately, she fell down and died. The entire community of faith was horrified at hearing the news.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Giganotus Rex: Profile of the Monster

Subject Name: Giganotus Rex (A.K.A: G. Rex)

Giganotus Rex (G. Rex) is a massive, fire breathing reptile.He stands at approximately 250 feet tall and is estimated to be close to 400 feet long from head to tail. He has a single row of dorsal spines protruding from his back and felinesque ears towards the back of his head. His back and underbelly are black while his middle section is green. He has massive sharp teeth like that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as a head that, proportionately, fits the description of a T. Rex. Unlike a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Giganotus Rex has forelimbs that are proportionate to the rest of his body. Thus, Giganotus Rex is not just a gargantuan T. Rex, but an entirely unique species.

Origin of Name:
William Martin Stevens is credited for naming the creature now known as Giganotus Rex. Mr. Stevens is one of the witnesses that encountered the monster in the Village of Orwell. He became intrigued by this animal and sought to uncover its identity. Upon doing some research concerning various species of therapod dinosaurs, he determined that the creature was unique in its size and proportions from any other known dinosaur. Because it has features that resemble a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Giganotosaurus, Mr. Stevens named his discovery Giganotus Rex.

History (CLASSIFIED): Throughout history there have been appearances of a strange, dragon-like creature that has been spotted at pivotal moments in prominent civilizations. Among these civilizations are Egypt, Babylon, Rome, and even Camelot. Legend has maintained that the appearance of monsters is a sign of a change of fortune. This can range from good fortune to absolute catastrophe. A monster, matching the description of Giganotuas Rex, has consistently indicated that the age of a great civilization was coming to a close. 

Giganotus Rex's origins are a mystery. Throughout the ages, a creature that matches his description has been documented, but it is unknown whether it is the same creature. What is known is that the creature has been documented to be significantly larger from one appearance to the next. 

One of the most well-documented  sightings of the monster was in the Atlantic Ocean, during World War II. In a battle between the British steamer Iberian and German U-28, a crocodile-like creature was reported to have been launched from the waters as a result of an explosion. 

The most recent sightings have taken place in the Village of Orwell and were documented by William Martin Stevens. The monster decimated the military units sent to Orwell and then departed beneath the ground. Unbeknownst to Mr. Stevens, the Rulers have been well aware of this monster for quite some time. It can only be hoped that he is never seen again.

Read The Wrath of Giganotus Rex to learn more.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Is the Bible Outdated?

The earliest writings of the Bible can be dated back approximately 3500 years. It is an ancient book that has guided the lives of countless individuals over the millennia. The newest writings of the Bible (the New Testament) date back to approximately 2000 years. Considering the reality that the Bible's newest books are 2 millennia old, should we conclude that the Bible is outdated?

As the world becomes smaller, people's lives become less private, and ideas literally flow through people's homes like air. Abortion, homosexuality, trans-genderism, and other social stigmas that have traditionally been rejected by the church have become increasingly mainstream. People have been led to believe that these ideas are new, and even brilliant. But, the Bible addressed these issues thousands of years ago. They are not new, and they are not brilliant ideas. They are sinful activities that we, as a culture, had been abstaining from. Today, we rationalize these social sins all in the name of good character and intellect. We, as a society, are intelligent and believe that we have evolved to be smarter than people in Biblical times. Our logic for questioning the Bible goes as follows:

 Since the discovery that the earth was not the center of the universe and that it was, indeed, round, people have been scrutinizing the teachings of the Bible, as the inerrant and infallible Word of God. If the Word of God teaches that the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around the earth, how could we possibly continue to accept its authority over our lives?

This is actually a misguided attempt to declare that "enlightened" morality is superior to the morality taught in the Bible. In fact, it cannot be concluded that the writers of the Bible believed in the geocentric flat earth. The Bible does not teach that the earth is flat or that it is the center of the universe. These are teachings picked up by the church from Greek philosophers. These are teachings that have their roots in observational science! Our perception of scientific truth is constantly changing. Should our perception of Biblical truth constantly be evolving, as well?

The Bible itself provides the answer to this question in the words of the wise king Solomon, "There is nothing new under the sun." Why does the Bible address the topics of homosexuality, men dressing up as women, and the slaughter of innocent children? The answer is: These were topics that they were dealing with back in their day!

Take, for instance, the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It has popularly been taught that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their practice of homosexuality. This is partially true, in that it was one of the many sins going on in these cities, but their cultures probably had a moment where people were trying to figure out, "Is homosexuality acceptable in the eyes of God(s)?" Homosexuality, in this instance, did not come first, but was a result of a twisted and idolatrous culture that lost all of its bearings on morality and defied the very order of creation. The Book of Romans, chapter one, details the progressive derangement of human nature once mankind rejects the truth.

Some of the Old Testament Laws sound harsh. However, that is not because the Old Testament Laws are wrong. It is because we have warped senses of justice and morality. We do not understand how serious sin is to a perfect and holy God. We think that prohibitions on sexuality is cruel and unnecessary. That is because we have a skewed understanding of purity. The Old Testament Law exposes sin in our lives. Jesus Christ's work becomes all the more miraculous because everyone fails to live a life that is "good enough" for God. We are corrupt at our core and would be eternally condemned if we were left to our own devices. When we do not follow God and his teachings, we destroy our lives.

The Bible is not outdated. It stands upon principles that are eternal, from the creation of the world through all eternity. Thank God for Jesus Christ who has fulfilled the requirements of God's perfect Law and has liberated us from the bondage of sin.