Thursday, December 25, 2008

Are More Jews Going Back to Israel?

Dr. Couch, I understand that more Jews are flooding back to Israel from the U.S. Is this true?

  ANSWER:  The latest issue of the Jerusalem Post reports that many Jews who have lost their jobs here in the U.S. are indeed immigrating to the Holy Land. They are saying, "Why not?" They have nothing to lose and feel that they can start their lives over again there. God is using all kinds of methods to increase the numbers returning home to the land of their forefathers.

   It has been predicted in Jeremiah 30 that the "birth pangs," the tribulation and the wrath, takes place after the Jews from both houses, from both kingdoms, return to the land. This has happened in our life-time. The nation of Israel was restored in 1948. We are moving rapidly to the prophesied days of tribulation. The Word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah says:

For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah. The Lord says, I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it. (vv. 2-3)

Jeremiah then adds:

I have heard a sound of terror, of dread, and there is no peace. Ask now and see, if a male can give birth. Why do I see everyman with his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob's (Israel's) distress (zarak, tribulation). (vv. 5-7)

  This is the birth pangs, the seven year tribulation that is prophesied against Israel and against the world. God adds, "I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you (Israel, not the church), only I will not destroy you (Israel) completely but I will chasten you justly" (v. 11). And, "Jacob (Israel, not the church) shall return [to the land] and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him (Israel) afraid" (v. 10b).

   Wow! Is this not so simple? How could anyone destroy the clear intent of the Bible? God is not through with the Jews!

   Has this happened some time in the past? Of course not! Christ quotes this passage about four times, especially the words about the birth pangs, and, so does the apostle Paul. Christ says about the terrible things coming on the earth He just mentioned: "But all these things are merely the beginning of the birth pangs" (Matt. 24:8), and Paul says: "When they are saying, 'peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child and they shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5:3).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who Were The Magi?

Dr. Couch, who were the magi? Were they "three kings of Orient"? Were they three races, as sometimes pictured?

  ANSWER:  We have really fouled up the magi story! First of all, we do not know that they were "three" in number; that idea comes from the fact that they brought three precious items to the baby Jesus—gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:11). (This is a fascinating story in itself!) If anything in regard to their race, they would have been Babylonian for that is where we get the idea for the magi.

   The Greek word magos in the text is plural—magoi. The word means "the great ones." The term is related to the words "majestic, magnanimous." It is referring to the astronomers, astrologers of Babylon. They probably came from Shushan, the royal city of Babylon, or, possibly from Ur.

   How did they know they were seeking the King of Israel, and what was the star they saw, while they were residing in the east? More than likely they had read the cryptic prophecy in Numbers 24:17 which says: "I see him, but not right now, I behold him, but he is not near. A star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush the head of Moab." (The people of Moab were the most violent enemies of Israel at that time.)

   From their vantage point, looking west, they saw the star standing over Israel. This was a miracle star that God put in the heavens to announce the arrival of His Messiah, the anointed Ruler of the world!

   How did the magi find this passage? We must remember that they were astronomer/astrologers who belonged to that school in Babylon. We must also remember that Daniel (over 400 years before) was made the dean of that university when he was ruling in Babylon. We read, "King Nebuchadnezzar … promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and … over all the wise men of Babylon" (Dan. 2:48). More than likely then, Daniel placed in their library the Torah scrolls of Moses. Since these men saw the star over the vicinity of Israel, they went into the library and found the Jewish scrolls and began to read through them. When they found the passage, and put together the vision of the star, they calculated that the Messiah (the King) was born. I believe they continued to read and discovered that the One being born was the Son of God. They truly believed in Him and came to worship Him with a genuine faith and trust, not simply doing a political homage to the birth of a politician.

   On Numbers 24:17 Unger writes: "The 'Scepter' envisions the Lord coming to rule the earth as absolute King and Lord (Rev. 19:16). The 'Scepter' is owned first in Zion and extends to the ends of the earth when Shiloh comes (Gen. 49:10)."

   Jesus did not come to reign in our hearts! He will someday be the King ruling over Israel and over the entire world in a literal, historic way, not in some allegorical, "spiritualized" way, as the covenant guys see it. King Herod got it right. He knew that the Messiah could replace him as ruler. Even a pagan king understood literal language over what some allegorical theologians wrongly teach today!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Post-Tribulationalism and the Rapture Doctrine

Dr. Couch, it seems as if the post-tribers are against the rapture doctrine because they say that Psalm 110:1 teaches that Christ remains in heaven until His enemies are subdued and then He comes back to earth again. What do you say?

ANSWER: They practice what I call "wooden-headed" interpretation. The Psalm 110 passage has to do completely with the issue of His coming to earth to reign. They cannot prove by the passage that He never leaves heaven to gather upwards His church saints in order to get them out of the way for the tribulation. They have a problem, I don't! All of the rapture passages are clear. (Look in the archives in this website. I have an exegesis on almost all of the rapture passages!)

   God gathers His own up to Himself. And again, don't mix dispensations. Psalm 110 has to do with His coming millennial kingdom reign. The rapture issue has to do with the church.

   The post-tribers have to answer what it means when Paul says "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17). I can read! And I know the difference between up and down. He does not come down to reign. We go up to meet Him in the air. We take the Bible verses where we find them. We OBSERVE, OBSERVE, OBSERVE!

   The reason we go up is obvious from 5:9. Paul writes, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The church does not go through the wrath. And the wrath is the entire seven year period, not just the last half. We know this from Jeremiah 30:6-7. The "Birth Pangs" (v. 6) refer to "that day." And "that day" is "great" in a singular sense (v. 7). The church does not go through part, any part of, the tribulation. We are rescued from all of it! This is further explained in 1 Thessalonians 1:10: "Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come," all of it!

   Only premillennialists practice good hermeneutics and sound observation. The other guys get very sloppy! And remember, when you work so hard to deny the obvious, you have a hidden agenda. What is their agenda? Usually, it is that they just don't like the doctrine of the rapture, and, they just don't like dispensationalism, though they really can't tell you why.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is The Rapture in Matthew 24: 40-42?

Dr. Couch, is the rapture in Matthew 24:40-42? Many of the well-known dispensationalists think so.

Heavens no, it is not! I know all the men you mentioned, and I knew the two that have passed on. Remember, they have (and had) a right to be wrong! (By the way, we're talking about the "one taken, one left" verses.)

   The clear proof that this is not the rapture is that it is repeated in Luke 17:36-37. There, the disciples asked the Lord, "But where [are they taken] Lord?" He then gives a chilling answer: "Where the body is, there also will the vulture be gathered" (v. 37). In other words, these taken will be the unfaithful servants who will be taken out, when the King comes, and executed. This is what Christ says in the Matthew context. He says in the context of that statement: The unfaithful servant will be taken "and shall [be] cut in pieces and assigned to a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth" (v. 51). THAT IS NOT THE BLESSED RAPTURE!

   Besides, after Christ had said in Matthew 40-41 "One taken and one left," He then added in verse 42, "Therefore be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." The "you be on alert" is not the church but the Jews who are living when He returns as king. He is coming back here in this context as "The Son of Man" (v. 44) which is a messianic title about His kingship. It is found in Daniel 7. This "one taken, one left" statement is about His return as king, it is not about His headship over the church, nor about His coming for His church. Keep the lines straight. Use good OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION!

   The one left is the faithful servant who was anticipating the coming of the king; the one taken is the one taken before Him and judged because he did not believe that his Lord was going to come back. That is the case today of many Jews. They are not expecting the coming of their own Messiah! Christ is not discussing the church; He is discussing the kingdom and His return as king, not His return to gather away the church saints!

   (Boy, that is so easy! What is wrong out there in the church hinter-land?)

   Sloppy interpretation always amazes me!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, December 15, 2008

Women Leadership in the Church

Dr. Couch, what about the woman thing in 1 Timothy 2:12-14?

ANSWER:  What about it? The Bible is clear. Women are not to be elders in churches, not to have authority or teach over men. For 2000 years the church has thoroughly understood that until the authority of Scripture was undermined and evil men starting allowing women to be "pastors."

   Yes, the fault is not with the misled women but with the stupid men who allowed this to happen to the church. Men will be judged for giving up on their authority and responsibilities in the church. No writer of, say, the past thirty years and back, would argue any other position in the subject. The old Greek scholar Patrick Fairbairn on 1 Timothy 2:12-14 writes:

Thus did God in the method of creation give clear testimony to the headship of man—to his right, and also his obligation, to hold directly what God says, and stand under the command of God, and to Him only; while woman, being form for his helpmate and partner, stands under command to her husband, and is called to act for God in him. And simply by inverting this relative position and calling—the helpmate assuming the place of the head or guide, and the head then yielding to her control—was the happy constitution of paradise overthrown, and everything involved in disorder and evil.

In the general management of affairs man should concede to her the ascendancy, this would be wrong! She lacks and is without, by the very constitution of nature, the qualities necessary for such a task—in particular, the equability of temper, the practical shrewdness and discernment, the firm, independent, regulative judgment, which are required to carry the leaders of important spiritual things above first impressions and outside appearances and fierce conflicts to cleave unswervingly to the right. Her very nature, with the finer sensibilities and stronger impulses of her emotional and living nature—tend in a measure to disqualify her here of being a leader in the church. … It was Adam who was mainly charged with this responsibility, and who should have been, in everything relating to it, the prime agent.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Does Water Baptism Wash Away Our Sins?

Dr. Couch, Acts 22:16 seems to say that water baptism “washes” away our sins. How do you answer?

ANSWER: To understand 22:16 you have to start with 3:19. 3:19 reads, speaking to the nation of Israel: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away (blotted out, ‘exaleipho’), …” Repent and return are both Second person Plurals, Aorist Imperatives. Or, “All of you repent and all of you return [back to God] [with the result that] your sins will be blotted out (wiped away).” “Wiped away” is an Aorist Passive Infinitive. Or, “Your sins will be acted upon, blotted away, by God”—“They are to be acted upon by the Lord. He will cause them to be gone!” This is based on their repentance and their returning to God! Of course the message they are to believe in is the fact that “Christ should suffer” [for you], and this “He has thus fulfilled” (v. 18).

This idea then is picked up and applied to Paul here in 22:16. Ananias tells Paul that “it was appointed for him to know God’s will, and to hear an utterance from His mouth. Because he was to be a witness for Him to all men of what he has seen and heard” (v. 15).

22:16 reads from the Greek: “Having gotten up, you are to be baptized yourself, and yourself have your sins washed away, and called yourself upon His name.” All of these verbs show parallel action going on at once. The Middle Voice is used continually, “yourself.” They are all Aorist Tenses. It is all happening at once. 3:19 certainly clarifies what is happening in 22:16. Baptism alone could not be saving Paul or any Israelite, and no other passage would give that idea.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where Did Baptism Come From?

Dr. Couch, where did baptism come from?

ANSWER: The idea of “the washing” comes from the washings from the OT. The water did not actually spiritually cleanse one, but it was a picture of such a cleansing. There are two words used in the OT context. The Greek word used in the LXX was baptizomai and the related word bapto. The baptismal work of the Holy Spirit is prophesied in Ezekiel 36:25. This is tied in to the coming of the New Covenant that was made for Israel, based on the death and the sacrifice of Christ. The New Covenant would replace the Law Covenant. See Jeremiah 31-on.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 is tied together: “I will sprinkle (“slosh” zarach) clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (v. 25). Physical water does not make one spiritually clean. The verses go on and say, “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes …” (v. 27). “And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers …” (v. 28). The great Jewish/Christian scholar Dr. Charles Feinberg (who was one of my profs in grad school) writes: Ezekiel 36:25 “is a parallel to Jeremiah 31:31-34. … This is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Israel in the future. … The gift of the Spirit is frequently connected with the coming of the new economy (dispensation) for Israel (see 39:29; Isa. 44:3; 59:21; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16 f.).”

This is the spiritual baptism carried out by the Holy Spirit as mentioned by Christ. It launches the New Covenant that was first for Israel but would be applied to the church. The church does not fulfill the New Covenant but presently benefits from it. Israel under the dispensation of the kingdom will in the future fulfill the New Covenant when the Jewish people come to Christ in the land. We are not now in the kingdom! The New Covenant was ratified by Christ’s death and launched at Pentecost, and will be fulfilled when Israel is back in the land and trusting in their Messiah!

Keep the dispensational lines straight and the Bible will all come together. Mix up the dispensations and you have chaos, and, you’ll get rid of Israel and certainly not understand how the Word of God goes together! Only dispensationalists have it right. The covenant guys have it all wrong and they allegorize and spiritualize the great prophecies of Scripture. They are into replacement theology and get rid of Israel just like the Catholic Church does.

Thus, the idea of a washing comes from the OT. But that washing is symbolic of the washing of the Holy Spirit, a baptism! This is what truly saves one, based on faith in Christ. Water baptism does not save! It is but the sign of the spiritual work and the spiritual reality carried out by the spiritual washing, and the union that follows with Christ, all done by the work of the Spirit.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Newsweek Magazine Against the Bible?

Dr. Couch, I understand Newsweek Magazine has a scathing editorial against the Bible and the issue of homosexuality. What's going on?

ANSWER: What is happening is clearly the advancement of the prophesied apostasy of the culture, or technically, the further degradation of the culture down the moral slippery slop in the end time. The church is indeed specifically going apostate as the world falls into the pit. In other words, (1) the world is getting worse morally and in its rejection of revelation, and (2) the church is apostatizing morally and spiritually. 

   We are not going to stop this, and, I do not expect a revival or a turning back to God. The world (specifically the West) now has no biblical orientation as it once did to know to a degree a certain spiritual conviction. But of course, that spiritual conviction is not natural. It is given by the sovereignty of God and He now is turning away from the culture. He is preparing the world for the wrath.

   By the way, the Newsweek editorial shows how the Bible can be misconstrued when the reader (the lost or even the Christian) does not understand dispensationalism, and how the Word of God must be so interpreted. You have to understand that the world was different under the OT economy, and how God worked with the world differently, under the period of the law over against how He deals with the world today under the age of Grace. If Christians don't get it, they go silent because they do not see the changes within the different ages of biblical history. And they cannot answer the criticisms of the culture against the Bible!

   I am more and more getting tired of the old apologetics because it no longer answers the new charges against the revelations found in Scripture. You cannot have a biblical apologetic without understanding the prophecies concerning Israel and the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. I have a bunch of friends who are just fascinated with the field of "Reformed" apologetics but it's as if they are working in the backroom and have not come out to the front room to present the Scriptures that proclaim that God is working against with the nation of Israel. Reformed apologetics needs to be put to bed and we need so new men, premillennialists and dispensationalists, who bring apologetics up to snuff! I know what I'm talking about. I went through the standard graduate apologetic courses in grad school! We need some thinking young dispensationalists to plow new ground!

   So we dispensationalists are right. The Covenant guys have few answers in being able to put the Scriptures together, in making clear how our day is different from the days of the OT.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Birth, Genealogy, and Beginnings

Dr. Couch, Kenneth Wuest makes an issue of the two uses of the idea "to birth" and "genealogy" as seen in Matthew 1:1 and 11:11. What is he referring to?

ANSWER:  Matthew 1:1 reads: "The book of the becoming of Jesus Christ." The word "becoming" is actually the word "genealogy"! The Greek word genealogy is the word gensis which comes from the verb ginomai, meaning to become, come into being. This is the only place the word is used, in reference to the coming of Christ!

   However, another word, gennesis, is used describing the birth of Christ in Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:14. This word is used only of Him and only in these two places. The Bible is trying to tell us something by the fact that there are several distinct words being used to describe the coming of Christ. I'm not sure exactly what the message is, except the fact that He is a very special One coming into the world!

   Of John the Baptist it is said in Matthew 11:11: he came "Among them that are born (genneetos) of women."

   Both words (gensis and genneetos) come from ginomai ("to come into being") but it's interesting to see how the biblical text focuses in the different way to describe the natural birth of John and the miraculous birth of Christ. There are no accidents in the inspiration of Scripture. Every word has its own purpose as given to us by the Holy Spirit. 

   Summary: Christ had "a becoming" being the Son of God who was pre-existent. John the Baptist, and other human beings, are born into this earth—thus, "birthed."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, December 8, 2008

Destruction of Tyre

Dr. Couch, the story of the destruction of Tyre seems to really explain the sovereignty of God that you hold so strongly to. Right?

ANSWER:  Absolutely! The story is in Ezekiel 26 where it is predicted that Babylon will come against Tyre as led by the Lord. The siege by Nebuchadnezzar would last for thirteen years (585-583 B.C.). God said to Tyre "I will cause many nations to come up against you" (v. 3). God then predicted that the city would move out to an island. "I will scrape her debris (the city's) from her and make her a bare rock. She will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God, and she will become spoil for the nations" (vv. 4-5). "I will bring Nebuchadnezzar upon her" (v. 7). "I will put an end to the sound of your songs" (v. 13). In other words, God is in charge!

   The fate foretold of Tyre is very unique and was incredibly fulfilled and came to pass. As Ezekiel prophesied, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city on the land but the king had no reason to throw the rubble into the ocean. However, the people of Tyre escaped to an island and built, as prophesied, a new city there. "They will lay your stones in the midst of the sea" (v. 12).

   Three hundred years later Alexander the Great wanted to take the island city and did by constructing a causeway out to it and then cast all of its remains into the sea, as spoken in verse 12. The remains of Tyre are still in the ocean under the causeway that Alexander built! My two sayings: Who is in charge? And, Who do we think we are? What an amazing prediction that came to pass just as the Lord said through Ezekiel.

   God can do this to America, and He will! A complete destruction will come someday. What does this nation deserve? Why should He keep protecting us?

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pro-Women Football Team

Dr. Couch, did you receive the seminary publication I sent to you about the lady seminary graduates who now play on a tackle pro women's' football team?

ANSWER: Yes, I got it. I was not surprised because many of our seminaries are turning left with their products, the graduates, doing more and more stupid things. What I don't get is why the administration allowed this article, written by the pro lady football player, to be put in one of its publications.

If you read the article carefully you can see how crazy it is. The lay graduate football-ett says that she prayed for years, with her female friend, how they could have some kind of ministry together. She and her friend "never experience God's sovereignty in such a dramatic and clear way" when He led them to join the pro women's' football team! (Wow, does God work in mysterious ways!)

She added that when they joined the "women's' professional tackle football team, we were right where we belonged!" The seminary lady grad added, "we realized this is the kind of environment we prayed for all these years." She then admits that most of the girls on the team are not Christians, and some are lesbians. She went on to explain that she and her friend do not do direct witnessing: "We don't announce our Christianity but demonstrate it in how we act and the effort we put forth." I take the "effort" means how hard they play the game. She further says, "Every day [the team] 'reads' our lives and sees our faith lived out without us breathing a word of Scripture to them."

Now I'm really confused. If this is "a ministry" it would imply that they would give forth the gospel and they would explain and tell what the Scriptures say. Otherwise, it's not a ministry. Every believer is to live a life of faith but that does not make it a ministry!

The kicker (excuse the pun) is she and her friend wants the team "to see something different about us," so they go around and pick up the trash after the game! (They are also in the trash business! This really tells the team about Christ!)

Talking about a rationalization—playing a male sport and trying to call that a ministry. Talking about being part of the feminist agenda and buying into the culture! This lady seminary graduate and her friend are into the silent ministry, no, the silent living! She concludes the article by saying, "we are willing to involve ourselves in the [team's] lives and love them where they are and allow God to do the rest." Again, a silent ministry is no ministry at all. While God for a period may use our silence, that is not what a ministry is all about—silence! I can't stand the old "love them where they are" rationalization. That is a cop out that tries to hide the fact that they simply want to do what the guys do, play football and brag about it.

As counselor Dr. Lacy Couch says, many women do not like being women. And, they want to do what the guys do in order to try to prove something. This seminary lady grad missed something in the courses as to what a Christian woman is to be. (And reading her article carefully, you can spot that right off.)

This football lady needs to read what God says constitutes the most blessed qualities of being a woman:

"Let women adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, … but rather by means of good works (not football), as befits women making a claim to godliness" (1 Tim. 2:9-10). A woman's greatest ministry is to her husband and to her children. Paul further writes that the older women are to train the younger women "to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored" (Titus 2:4-5). Obviously, this girl received no training at home as to what she was to be!

I fault the seminary for putting this dumb article in one of its publications! It's another sign of caving in to the culture! Thanks for reminding me of this article.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Women and 1 Timothy 2:12

Dr. Couch, what does the word authority mean when it is speaking of women not using such and teaching over men in 1 Timothy 2:12?

ANSWER: I am hearing of more and more Evangelical churches throwing in the towel and capitulating to the feminist agenda on 1 Timothy 2:12-15. They are given such pastoral authority not be force of hand but because of the biblical caving in of pastors, seminaries, and elder/deacon boards. They are also wrongly put on pastoral search committees which is dead wrong as well. The sheep are not supposed to select their pastors! See Titus 1. Elders are to appoint elders/pastors. They are not to be voted in by popular vote. So, many of our Evangelical churches are doing it all wrong!

The Greek word is authenteo and is in the Present Infinitive form. “They are not to be in the process of exercising continually authority.” Nor are they to be teaching, giving doctrine (proclaiming dedake), also a Present Infinitive.

They are not to be authenticating control over men in the position of church leadership. That is what the elders, the male leaders, are supposed to be doing. Authenteo is used only here in the NT. Definition: “One who governs another, exercises dominance” (Thayer). Or, “Women should not rule over men” (Balz & Schneider). “To tell a man what to do” (Jerusalem Bible). “To assume authority, give orders” (BAG). “To take in hand, to have absolute sway” (Classical Greek).

The women are equally prohibited not to teach. The Greek forms are the same with both words: Present Infinitives. “They are not to be doing these things!”

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Book of Hebrews

Dr. Couch, I understand your views on the book of Hebrews are the same as the great scholar of the last century, Kenneth Wuest. Correct?

ANSWER: Yes. Wuest holds to the fact that the book is aimed at the unbelieving Jew who had the full testimony about the Messiah. However, he did not fully understand the deity of Christ, that is why the book hits the ground running dealing with that issue. And too, the author continues by showing that Christ was better than angels, Moses, the Law, etc.

The book was then turned over to the Christian community in order to use it as a witnessing tool in dealing with the Jewish community.

Many miss also the fact that the author of Hebrews speaks a lot about the promised land of Israel, and the fact that the Jews, beginning with Abraham, were looking for the new city that would be established by the Lord (which would be named Jerusalem). These verses can be overlooked if the reader does not observe carefully.

The book of Hebrews clearly establishes the idea of the first and second comings of the Messiah. The first coming is about His provision for salvation but His second coming is not about that. The author says: "So Christ also, having been offered once to beat the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" (Heb. 9:28). The "eagerly awaiting Him" has to do with the establishment of the holy city of Jerusalem and His reigning in the land under the Davidic Covenant!

What is the author talking about when he speaks of the Jews waiting to "receive what was promised" in the OT? It is the kingdom, though the author doesn't have to say that because it's understood by the readers. The author proves this point when he speaks of the persecution of the Jews who lose their property, "knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. … You need endurance that, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay" (10:34-37). The "possession" and the "promise," and the "great reward," has to do with "His coming," Christ's millennial reign and the establishment of the kingdom with Jerusalem as the center of the earth.

Notice what chapter 11 says about what Abraham was looking for:

  • He left one place, Ur, to go to a place "which he was to receive for an inheritance" (v. 8). What was the place? The promised land!
  • He lives as a stranger "in the land of promise, as in a foreign land (because at that time) he was dwelling in tents, as did his son Isaac and later his grandson, Jacob, who also were "fellow heirs of the same promise," of the same promise land! (v. 9).
  • He "was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (v. 10). A MOST IMPORTANT PASSAGE! This would later be Jerusalem!
  • Abraham "died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance …" (v. 13).
  • He, along with those who came after him, "made it clear that they are seeking a country of their own" (v. 14).
  • Abraham and those who came after, were not looking for the country they left, Ur (v. 15), "But they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one (which has heavenly and spiritual origins)" (v. 16). That is, "the kingdom of (from) heaven," or "the kingdom of (from) God." "God prepared a city for them" (v. 16).
Why did Jacob (Israel) tell Joseph when he was about to die that God would "bring you back to the land of your fathers"? (Gen. 48:21). Why did he want to be buried back in the land where Abraham was buried? (Gen.49:29). Why did Joseph want his bones to be taken back to the promised land and not left in Egypt? (Heb. 11:22; Gen. 50:22-26). He made the sons of Israel swear that "you shall carry my bones up from here, from this land (of Egypt) to the land which God promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob."

God told Joshua that he was to cross the Jordan and take the people "to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel" (Josh. 1:2). Rahab the harlot said she knew that "the Lord has given you the land" (2:9) and that the enemies, those then dwelling in the land at that time, would melt away before the children of Israel when they came to possess it (v. 23).

Hebrews continues on with speaking about the promised land. All those in the OT "gained approval through their faith, (though) they did not receive (the land) which was promised" (11:39). Presently, "God has provided something better for us, so that apart from us they (the believing OT saints) should not be made perfect" (v. 40). The provision of personal salvation comes first before the enactment and establishment of the 1,000 year millennial kingdom.

Much more can be said on this subject but above are some of the tidbits that prove the point.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Can We Learn About Balaam's Story?

Dr. Couch, Balaam is mentioned often in the NT. What can we learn about the story of him from the OT?
ANSWER:  The story of Balaam is long and complicated as an OT event. The details are given in Numbers 22-31. Israel was on the journey from Egypt going towards the promised land when they came to the country of Moab. Balaam was a hired evil prophet and false teacher. The teaching of Balaam refers to his teaching the king, Balak, to corrupt the Jewish people whom he could not curse.
  Three things are said of Balaam in the NT. There is (1) the way of Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15); (2) the error of Balaam (Jude 11); and (3) the doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14). It could be said of him that he was virtually a warlock, used of Satan to trip up the morals of Israel. The "ways" would refer to his deceptive patterns.
  Peter writes about the Jews who in the wilderness sojourn "indulged" the flesh when tempted by Balaam. Many today are (1) "forsaking the right way, having gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness" (2 Pet. 2:15).
  The (2) "error" of Balaam is a reference to those who live absolutely contrary to what is right. Their sins are outright errors that disdain the righteous directives of the Lord. "Woe to them! They rush headlong into the error of Balaam" (Jude 11).
  Finally, (3) there is a whole pattern of evil doctrinal teaching that is just the opposite of what God demands. In the church at Pergamum, there were those who "held the teaching (doctrine) of Balaam, who kept teaching (king) Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality" (Rev. 2:14).
  Satan uses the evil intentions of such men and works his strategies against human beings. His patterns can destroy both the lost and the righteous.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What is the Shortest Chapter in the Bible?

 Dr. Couch, what is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
ANSWER:  I think it would be Psalm 117. There are only two verses in this Psalm and they speak about the nations of the earth praising God in the millennial reign of Christ. They read:
Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all peoples!
For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth
  of the Lord is everlasting.
Praise the Lord!
Unger has it right on:
"This psalm is prophetic of the Kingdom age, when all nations and races will praise the Lord for His redemptive grace, and through Israel, He will bring salvation to the entire world. This psalm cannot be applied to any period of the Old Testament or the New Testament church period and will only be realized when Christ returns to the earth and sets up His Kingdom over Israel and (then) 'the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9).'
"It is Israel's call to the whole millennial earth. It confirms the promises given to the patriarchs and makes possible the salvation of the Gentiles not only in the church period, but as in this psalm, in the Kingdom age. After Israel has been regathered, converted and established in the Kingdom blessing, she—with missionary zeal—can offer all nations the same salvation that God worked in her, for it is the salvation of the world. Thus, the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman will be fulfilled, 'Salvation is of the Jews' (John 4:22)."
Great question! Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Hebrews 6:1-9 - Impossible to Renew Again To Repentance

Dr. Couch, what is happening in Hebrews 6:1-9, the old "It is impossible to renew them again to repentance" passage?
ANSWER:  There are many interpretations of this passage but I believe, along with Dr. Kenneth Weist (one of the greatest Greek scholars of the last century), that I have it right. The prominent flow of Hebrews is a warning to the Jews who have not as yet trusted their own Messiah as Savior, though it is clear that the book, as indicated in the last chapter, was handed over to the church as an apologetic or as a polemic to be used in witnessing to the Jews.
  With all of the testimony to the Jews about Christ, those who hardened their hearts against all of the evidence, would be cut off. This explains the "warning passages" throughout the book. And, this explains the book of Acts. The first part of Acts was about the testimony to Israel while the last half mainly was the witness to the Gentiles. There is a transition going on in the book! The last of Acts shows God's judgment against the Jews and how the Lord turned to the Gentiles and rejected Israel.
  This would explain why Peter's two epistles were written to the believing Jewish community, but also gives warnings to the Jews who would be rejecting the testimony about their own Messiah. Peter says that, temporarily the disbelieving Jews escaped the defilement of the world "by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," but they again were entangled in sin and rejection of Christ. Their last state would be worse than their first state. "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Pet. 2:20-21).
 Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, November 28, 2008

Who or What is the Morning Star?

Dr. Couch, who or what is the morning star that will arise in the hearts of believers in 2 Peter 1:19?
ANSWER:  This is a clear reference to the shining of the Lord Jesus in the hearts of the believers when all sin is vanquished and He has full control of His universe. The verse reads "We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day down and the morning star arises in your hearts."
  For now, in this dark world, we only see darkness and evil, but we also have the promises of prophecy that the day will arrive when Christ will bring gladness, as the early morning star, to shine in our hearts. That Christ is the morning star is made clear in what He says in Revelation 22:16: "I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star." This idea is also spoken of in Revelation 2:28: "I will give to the believing overcomer 'the morning star.'"
  Christ is the true morning star, the bright One from God the Father who will illumine all creation with His Son. However, temporarily, Satan appears to the world as the "shining one," or Lucifer, "the son of the morning" as seen at the time of his fall in Isaiah 14:12. The name "shining one" is translated as Lucifer in the Latin Vulgate.
  The idea of the morning brightness of the Messiah is seen in the prophecy of the father of John the Baptist, about the advent of his son as the herald of the Messiah. He said that by the tender mercies of God, "the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death" (Luke 1:78-79; Malachi 4:2). Thus, Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4, 5; 8:12; 9:5), the One who would bring light to the Gentiles (Isa. 42:6; Acts 13:47). 
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Bottom Line in the Recent Election

Dr. Couch, what is the bottom line about what happened in the recent election?

ANSWER:  The bottom line is that we now have a younger generation who has come up through the ranks of the government school system, and up through the ranks of the very liberal university system. They are driven by psychology, liberalism, socialism, and amoral thinking. To be amoral means that morality has nothing to do with their decisions. Everything should be determined simply on the basis of politics, pragmatism, economics, but certainly not be biblical right and wrong! The younger generation has repudiated biblical morality, experience and wisdom. They do not look for those who have had experience. They want someone who has "TV" charisma and who can turn a nifty phrase or two.

   The Bible speaks loud and clear about their ignorance. The story of Rehoboam is a classic example of what I mean. Rehoboam took over the Southern Kingdom of Judah after the death of his father, Solomon. Even though Rehoboam would be a terrible sinner, it was God's sovereignty that was at work behind the scenes in all of the intrigue that was going on. Jeroboam took over the Northern Kingdom. The Lord said to him "Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes" (I Kings 11:31). The reason: the people had forsaken the Lord, and were worshipping Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon. "And they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as [Solomon's] father David did" (v. 33).

   As the young crowd in America, Rehoboam did not want the wisdom of the elders, those with experience. The young American voters have jettisoned experience. Experience and wisdom are not part of the criteria for leadership. Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had advised his father Solomon and said: "How do you counsel me to answer this people?" (I Kings12:6). They answered that he must speak good words to them (v. 7). "But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted WITH THE YOUNG MEN WHO GREW UP WITH HIM AND SERVED HIM" (v. 8).

   Rehoboam took their advice and added to the burden of the people. He said, "Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions" (v. 11).

   Rehoboam began to reign at about the same age as Barack Obama, age 41. Rehoboam reigned for seventeen years and died at 58! (14:21).

   The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the lack of practical wisdom and experience. For example, "The honor of old men is their gray hair" (20:29). And, "A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead" (21:16).

   Also, "My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those who are given TO CHANGE" (24:21).

   Question: Why did Obama meet three times with the homosexual New Hampshire Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson? What is he planning to put in place in regard to homosexual rights? We will all probably find out soon!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nationality of the Antichrist

Dr. Couch, what will be the nationality of the antichrist? There seems to be some confusion on this issue.

ANSWER: I believe the antichrist could be around today but he will not be revealed as to who he is until the seven year tribulation begins. In Daniel 9:27 we read: he is the prince who "will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (a seven year period—the tribulation and wrath). Actually, it best reads "He will confirm (higbir), make a strong agreement (make a covenant to prevail) with many …" Benware writes: "The covenant made between the Roman Prince (Antichrist) and the people of Israel requires that Israel will be at least partially restored to the land."

11:37 says "he will show no regard for the gods (Elohim) of his fathers …" Most translate this as gods but if it should read "God" then there would be an indication that he could be Jewish. I lean this way because he will convince the orthodox Jews that he is the Messiah, and they somehow buy into that, maybe on the evidence that he is Jewish.

No one can say for sure.

You need to get Dr. Paul Benware's commentary on Daniel produced by Scofield Ministries. Great commentary!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Happened in the Elections?

Dr. Couch, what happened in the elections?

ANSWER: First of all God is in charge. There were no accidents. He is in command of all of history. And, beside, America, and the entire world, is receiving the judgment due for its gross sins. We are moving rapidly into the apostasy. Now as to what happened from the human level, it is really very simple.

Our nation is divided between, say, (1) those who are thirty and under, and (2) those who are older. The older ones were looking for

A. Wisdom
B. Experience
C. Morality in leadership
D. Conservative and sound principles that can be found in Scripture

The younger crowd was looking for

A. One with charisma
B. One with socialistic and psychological leanings
C. One who would advocate and be for same-sex marriage, abortion, and feminism
D. One who does not understand history and what America is really all about

The younger will dominate. We will never go back to common sense. The younger, three out of four, voted for liberalism and against common sense. There is no turning back! You need my book: For The Cause of Zion.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christ's Sacrifice for Sins in the Old Testament

Dr. Couch, thank you for sharing the fact that Christ's sacrifice was applied back to the sins of those in the OT, as you pointed out in Romans 3:25b. Are there any other verses that would show this same point as well?

ANSWER: Yes, and that would be Hebrews 9:15b. The author of Hebrews writes: Christ "died for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant (the Law), [that] those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."

Kenneth Wuest rightly notes:

The Messiah became the Mediator not only in order that He might pay the penalty of sinners who live since the Cross, but also that He might do so for those who lived before the Cross. Sinners who were saved under the First Covenant were actually saved, not by it or by any sacrifice offered under its jurisdiction, but through the atoning work of Messiah under the New Testament.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What is the Shekinah Glory?

Dr. Couch, what is the Shekinah glory?

ANSWER: The Hebrew word Shekinah means the presence, as in the presence of God in His glory with His people Israel. It is described in Ezekiel as the abiding presence of God with the Jews. Chapters 10-11 described the presence of God by the Jewish Rabbis as the merkavah, or the presence of God in His "chariot." The Israelis have manufactured their own military tank and have named it "the chariot," the Merkavah.

The Shekinah, or the glory of God (His presence), is seen at the threshold of the temple in 10:4. Then, the glory of God departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the angels, the cherubim (v. 18). Then His glory hovered over the entrance of the east gate of the Lord's house (v. 19). The presence of God is seen as leaving the temple area because of the sins of the people.

As the presence of God is leaving Jerusalem, the Lord God says the Jewish people will be scattered throughout the nations, but in that scattering, God will be a sanctuary for them in that scattering, in that "dispersion" or in the Diaspora. "Though I will remove them far away among the nations, and though I will scatter them among the countries, yet I will be a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they have gone" (11:16). But, "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel" (v. 17).

How foolish of the amil guys to say that God will not restore the Jewish people back to their own land. When their King comes and restores them to the Holy Land, the New Covenant will be applied to their hearts and they will be converted. "I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh" (v. 19).

As the narration goes on in Ezekiel 11, the presence and the glory of the Lord continues to depart from the city of Jerusalem. "And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood over the mountain which is east of the city" (v. 23).

The Lord's Shekinah will return to the temple in the Kingdom period. Ezekiel witnessed this. "And the glory of the Lord came into the house by way of the gate facing toward the east" (43:4), and "the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house" (v. 5). The Lord here is the Messiah who prophetically says, "This is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name …" (v. 7).

Matthew 17:1-7, and the transfiguration of Christ, is a dress rehearsal of the Lord's messianic glory and His coming to reign and rule in Jerusalem. "He was transfigured before [His disciples—Peter, James, John]; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light" (v. 2).

In his Ezekiel commentary, my old Hebrew professor, Charles Feinberg wrote, "The Jewish commentary, the Midrash reads, 'Rabbi Jonathan said, Three years and a half the Shekinah stayed upon the Mount of Olives, in the hope that Israel would do penance, but they did none.' All readers of the New Testament know this was the length of the earthly ministry of our Lord to the lost sheep of Israel. Sadly enough, they did not repent and He did depart from them (cf. Hosea 5:15 with Matt. 23:37-39). The rabbis have enumerated ten stages whereby the Shekinah withdrew. … Before He departed, however, He set forth the consoling promise of restoration for the remnant …"

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Those Covenant Guys

Dr. Couch, I have been told that the covenant guys hold strongly to the fact that God is glorified by salvation, and that dispensationalists do not hold to such a position. What do you say?

ANSWER:  You've been listening to the wrong crowd. Dispensationalists certainly believe that the Lord is glorified in His salvation work for lost humanity. But dispensationalists are more biblical in that we believe that all things bring glory to the Father, not simply the work of salvation.

   God the Father of course receives glory (1) for our salvation, as well as the Son (John 13:31). "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him" (vv. 31-32). The context has to do with the work of salvation Christ is about to initiate for the world.

   It is also true that (2) "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psa. 19:1). (3) Christ as the messianic King will also receive the glory due Him (Psa. 24:7-10), as well as (3) the Kingdom itself is seen as glorious (Psa. 145:11-13). And with the destruction of Gog and Magog, (4) the Lord will receive glory among all the nations (Ezek. 39:21).  

   I could go on and on demonstrating that God receives glory in so many things, not simply in salvation.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, November 3, 2008

Does the Holy Spirit Only Convict Believers?

Dr. Couch, someone told me recently that the Holy Spirit does not work in conviction except through a believer. Is this biblically accurate?

ANSWER:  I do not know of a passage of Scripture that would verify that view. I did a run through the NT and could not find a passage that would confirm that. Many passages simply mention the work of the Spirit but do not refer to a believer standing by who becomes a kind of "agent" for His convicting work.

   I personally think that such a view is an overstatement. There is no doubt that the Spirit of God uses means such as the Bible, and of course often the witness of a believer. But to say that He never works without a child of God present cannot be confirmed by Scripture.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Women in the Church and Feminism

Dr. Couch, what's going on with women in the church? They seem to be buying into the feminist culture.

ANSWER:  You have it right! That is exactly what they are doing. Peter and Paul's injunctions about the blessedness of women and the important roles of woman has not changed. And, Paul's orders are not simply given in a cultural context. Paul argues for the importance and the limitations of woman from a doctrinal position not from simply a cultural position that was only applicable to his day.

   What is amazing to me is that many older Evangelical women in our churches have been infected by the culture and have joined their feminist sisters in trying to resist what the Bible is saying to them. What Peter and Paul have said is authoritative and is part of the Word of God. If Christian women are resisting, they are resisting the Lord's injunctions not simply the words of their husbands or of a pastor. On Jeremiah 44:19, Dr. Unger makes this statement about the sinful women of Israel: "When women lead, the day of doom is near."

   How much more clear can you get with 1 Peter 3:1-7 where Peter says, "Wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives" (v. 1). He calls women "the weaker vessels" which they are (v. 7), even though the cop-er-ettes and soldier-ettes think they can beat up the bad guys on the streets, or be soldiers in the trenches, which they cannot! But how dare the men who allow women and mothers in hazardous situations or combat roles just because that is what they want! My counselor wife, Dr. Lacy Couch, says the problem is that women want the authority they see men having. And, they do not like themselves as women! (Sounds something like Eve to me!)

   Husbands are to be kind to their wives "and grant them honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life" (v. 7b). They are to protect their wives. They are not to mistreat their wives, or any other believer, and "not return evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing" (v. 8). Paul wants women to dress modestly and "wear" before others good works, "as befits women making a claim to godliness" (1 Tim. 2:9-11) and receive "instruction with entire submissiveness" (v. 11). He bans women from teaching or exercising authority over men and, they are to remain in quietness (v. 12). The reason: Adam has the primacy and Eve was very much deceived though Adam was not, as described in the temptation account in Genesis. Adam is the greatest sinner but Eve was emotionally deceived, thus Paul does not want women to be in a leadership position! (vv. 13-14).

   Period, period, period! There is nothing more to say!

   Believers can be seduced by the world; they can buy into the culture, and be fooled into being politically correct. (I need to make a correction on that statement.) Women are not fooled as with blindness. Their will is captured by the culture and they know exactly what they are doing. They want what they want when they want it!

   Women today are ruling in many of their churches by the yak, yak, through their elder or deacon husbands at home. And the men come to church and make decisions based on what their wives want. "Yes, dear, yes dear!"

   For a woman to obey her husband as Sarah did (1 Pet. 3:6), is not slavery, it actually is protection! And it is following the instructions of the Lord not her husband! This entire subject is a spiritual issue not simply doing something because this is what the husband wants! On the flip side, men are also to be kind and loving to their wives. They are to lift them up and be honoring. A cruel or thoughtless husband brings woe upon his family! Men are to be leaders and not wimps at home, at church, and elsewhere.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Studying Heresy

Dr. Couch, I'm convinced. From much that you've been writing I see the error of amillennialism and covenant theology. Where can I read more on how all that heresy began?
ANSWER:  I suggest three sources, or study the teaching of three individuals in church history. (1) Philo, (2) Origen, and (3) Augustine. They are the ones who influenced the church the most by their writings on allegorical interpretation.
  The sources would be Bernard Ramm in his book Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Read pages 24-38. Read also on Catholic Allegorism (pp. 38-45). Also study the section on the Syrian School of Antioch (pp. 48-50). Antioch was most influenced by the early prophets and probably Paul as mentioned in the book of Acts. They maintained and taught the literal approach to Scripture for generations. Ramm writes "The result of these principles [developed in Antioch] was some of the finest exegetical literature of ancient times." And the literal interpretative school at Antioch, especially in "The commentary of Theodore [of Mopsuestia] on the minor epistles of Paul is the first and almost the last exegetical work produced in the ancient Church which will bear any comparison with modern commentaries."
  Check out the three names of the men mentioned above in my Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Kregel). I also wrote a chapter on the Antiochian School as well.
  Read also what I wrote on these men in my interpretation book Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel). The allegory and destructive hermeneutics of these men greatly influenced Catholic and then Reformation thinking in their spiritualizing especially biblical prophecy. I really do not think most allegory and amillennial guys know the origin of their own system. They are great quoters but terrible interpreters. They are unable to think textually and biblically.
  I quote Trigg who shows the foolishness of Origen in his interpretation on Matthew 24 and the issue of the return of Christ. Trigg points out that Origen, on the two men laboring in the field, believes this "represents good and bad influences on a person's will." How dumb!
And I quote on Origen the great church historian and Lutheran amillennialist, Philip Schaff, when he has to admit that "His allegorical interpretation is ingenious, but often runs far away from the text and degenerates into the merest caprice." I conclude in my book, "amillennialists continue to utilize a system of interpretation that is textually and historically at odds with the normal reading [even] understood by the early church."

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, October 31, 2008

Is Isaiah 26:20-27 a Rapture Passage

Dr. Couch, could Isaiah 26:20-27:1 be a rapture passage?

ANSWER: No, not really. Paul calls the doctrine of the rapture a mystery, i.e. "something not before revealed" in the OT. He writes: "I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; … and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

The believing Jews will "hide for a little while, until indignation runs its course. For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity …" (Isa. 26:20-21). By this the people of Israel, who are believers living on the earth during the tribulation, escape God's wrath and that wrath is likened to the birth pangs (Isa. 26:17) of the tribulation described in Jeremiah 30:6.

The Jews in Isaiah 26 do not go up to heaven but they find a hiding place on earth (probably Petra) from God's wrath which is the tribulation. The context of Isaiah 26 is the Jews "in the land of Judah" (verse 1). This has to do with the Jews who during the tribulation become believers in the Lord. THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE CHURCH!

Keep your dispensational lines straight. Don't mix them all up as the covenant guys do!

On this Isaiah 26 passage Unger, my dearly beloved OT professor wrote in his commentary:

The Lord spoke through Isaiah to give a note of cheer. Deliverance from Great Tribulation and its fearful anguish will be near for the beleaguered remnant. "Come My people, enter … into your chambers," their divinely provided place of safety, for the Lord will soon take vengeance on the fully developed, ripe-for-judgment iniquity of the ungodly."

You won't find the rapture or the church in the OT! I'm still waiting! No one has found these doctrines in the OT yet!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Does the Fig Tree Represent Israel?

Dr. Couch, I have heard that the fig tree represents Israel. Is that so?

ANSWER:  No, I cannot think of a verse that says that. Some try to use Matthew 24:32-33 but that will not fly! In Luke 13:6-7 Christ uses the fig tree as a parable of the fruitlessness of the nation of Israel but that is but one illustration and not an entire teaching on the subject as definitive. There are only two references outside of the Gospels about the fig tree (James 3:12; Rev. 6:13) and neither speak of Israel as the fig tree.

   Many try to use Romans 11:13-24 to say that Israel is the olive tree but that won't fly either. The Jews in this passage are seen as the "natural branches" that are blessed by the olive tree. They are cut out of the olive tree and the Gentiles are temporarily grafted in. So if they are cut out, and the olive tree of blessing continues, well guess what, the olive tree simply represents the blessings of God and does not represent Israel per se. Israel was cut out of the olive tree for their sin but they will be engrafted back in when the times of the Gentiles are completed. Read the passage carefully. Don't be a quot-er and simply repeat what you have heard. Study carefully. OBSERVE, OBSERVE, OBSERVE, by CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

What About the Doctrine of the Resurrection in Scripture?

Dr. Couch, I've heard some say that the doctrine of the resurrection is not clear in Scripture. What say you?

ANSWER:  It is very clear, though the various resurrections are not spelled out in detail in the OT, such as the resurrection of church saints, those "in Christ." Two of the strongest passages in the OT: Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2. Probably because of these verses and the verses in Job, Martha could say: "I know that [brother Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection on the last day" (John 11:24). That last day to the Jews would be at the beginning of the kingdom reign of the Messiah! Church believers, those "in Christ," will be resurrected seconds before the rapture of the living church saints (1 Thess. 4).

   One cannot find a stronger verse on the resurrection for the OT saints than Isaiah 29:19:

Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

What a powerful passage and a great hope to the Jewish people!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

How Should We Live in the Apostasy?

Dr. Couch, I appreciate what you've been writing in regard to the end times and the apostasy coming upon the world. How should we then live under these circumstances?

ANSWER: Read Titus 2:12-13. Paul tells us what we should be doing. He says in verse 12 how we are to live, and then in verse 13 he reminds us that we are to be anxiously waiting for the "going home," the rapture. We are to be doing both—living and waiting! Not simply one or the other. Rick Warren said that studying prophecy is a waste of time and not necessary today. How foolish! And how contrary to the Word of God!

We are to be "denying ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (v. 12). Then, we are to be looking "for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (v. 13). Quoting from my Titus Commentary, on verse 12, I wrote:

In the present age. "In the now eon." Or, "in the present course of things." (Ellicott) The apostle is speaking of his times, his generation, and his era. Each generation of Christians must live godly in the present history God has placed them. The evils of today may be a little different than the past, but the child of God must walk according to the Word of God and the injunctions set forth in it. Some generations are destined to suffer greatly. Others face waves of error and false doctrine. But these words of Paul remain firm, and are as applicable to us today as when the apostle wrote them. "The Lord has appointed the present life for the trial of our faith." (Calvin) "These are the duties we owe in the present life." (Barnes)

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Salvation in the Millennial Kingdom

Dr. Couch, will all those who enter the millennial kingdom be saved?

ANSWER: Many believe that this will be true of the Jews because of Romans 11:26-27. It says: "And thus all Israel will be saved, just as it is written, 'The Deliverer will come from Zion.' And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins."
The verses seem to be all encompassing and appear to be saying that all of the Jews who enter the kingdom will be converted. Though many of us have taught through the years that everyone will be saved who enters the kingdom, but this may not include the Gentiles. Psalm 96 is a kingdom passage. It reads: "Worship the Lord in holy attire, tremble before Him, all the earth. … He will judge the peoples with equity."
This seems to teach that the nations are not all converted at the start of the kingdom, and thus they have to be judged by the Messiah from His throne in Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:16-19 also implies a judgment during the kingdom of the Gentile nations who do not honor the Messiah. "Whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them" (14:17). The Lord will smite the nations with a plague (v. 18) and punish all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths (v. 19). Psalm 2 also makes it clear that the King, the Messiah, will judge the nations and rule over them with a scepter of iron, which implies clearly times of judgment following His return to earth to rule.
On Psalm 96:10 Unger writes:
"The Lord reigns." This is the announcement of His public enthronement, in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:8-16), by those who have heard it to those who have not. Evidently this indicates that, although all Israel as a nation will be saved to enter the Millennium (Rom. 11:16-17), all Gentiles will not, and that the Israelites will be missionaries to the nations (cf. Isa. 40:9-10; Zech. 8:20-23; 14:16-21). Then the world will be firmly established under the Messiah's righteous rule. With enemies rooted out and Satan and demonic powers bound, the Messiah will judge the peoples with equity.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Apostasy and the Rapture of the Church

Dr. Couch, you have convinced me! You show that there are two types of apostasy in the final days before the rapture of the church. Would you further explain?

ANSWER: I am still studying this through but it seems that (1) there is the apostasy ("standing away from") the truth by the church, and (2) a growing departure of the world deeper and deeper into gross and subtle immorality. For example 2 Timothy 4:1-5 describes an apostasy of the church, and 3:1-9 describes the men of the world sinking deeper into evil. This seems to be substantiated in 3:13 where Paul writes: "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

2 Timothy 3:1-5 is describing what is happening now in our culture. The fastest growing philosophical and "religion" segment in our nation is atheism. And the number of young college students holding on to some form of faith is shrinking rapidly. At the present rate, in the future only about 4 percent of college graduates will claim to be believers in God by the time they leave school.

Watching TV or TV commercials makes one think of 2 Timothy 3:1-5. I warned our congregation to pay careful attention to TV this fall. The secularists hate anything conservative or that represents Evangelicals. And sure enough, they are pushing the immoral envelop to the max! You can see it in the faces of many of the personalities on TV. They are "haters of the good" (v. 3). This implies that they actually know the good, but they just "hate it" with a passion. They know what they are doing but their hatred boils up and spills over in their emotions! They cannot tolerate what is good!

On the expression "to hate the good," Paul created a new word made from three different words: no-love-good. Or, "no love for the good." In 3:3 the apostle created another word, unloving. The root is storge which means "love of kindred." Paul then adds a negative: "without love of one's relatives." Or, "those who do not relate to family."

The word revilers in verse 2 refers to covenant breakers, or those who are unable to mutually agree on what is right. Conceited (v. 4) comes from the word tophoo and is a Perfect Passive Participle. The word means "to raise a cloud, put up a smoke screen." Or, "to be puffed up with pride, render insolent." With the Perfect Passive: "They are those who have, through a process of time, arrived at a state of haughtiness or pride." Or, they are "blinded with stupidity and foolishness."

Lovers of pleasure (v. 4) is one word (with two words put together) and it can be translated "lovers of the present, the now." The present is the word hadone from which we get the word hedonism. They live only for the now. They pay no attention to the future. They are hedonistic!

All of the above words, and the others in these verses, describe our present day. Again, while people have always to some degree been like this, the apostle is specifically describing a future time where this will become worse. This future day will be characterized just this way! "Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be …" (v. 1). In my opinion we are moving into the apostasy!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Does The Holy Spirit's Work Within Us Ever Cease?

Dr. Couch, does the Holy Spirit's work within us ever cease? Does He finish His work within us at our death (physical) or at the rapture?

ANSWER: I cannot think of a passage that would indicate either way. It may be that at the resurrection. the Holy Spirit would continue to abide within us, within our new resurrected body! But this may be a stretch in application of this idea. One would argue that even in our new resurrected body we still require and need the work of the Spirit to interpret for us what all we are seeing in the new life, but again, I would not wish to be dogmatic if I can not prove this point.

My booklet The Coming of the Holy Spirit, deals with all the verses about the Spirit of God, from Genesis to Revelation!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bema Seat Judgment

Dr. Couch, is 2 Timothy 1:12, 18 and that day about the Bema judgment of the believer?

ANSWER: Paul writes:

"For this reason I also suffer these things (persecutions), but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day" (v. 12).

"The Lord grant to [Omesiphorus] to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus" (v. 18).

Yes, the context has to do with rewards and recognition for service rendered for the Lord's sake. In verse 12 the "I am convinced" is in the Perfect Tense, showing that Paul had arrived at a conclusion over time and now he "had become certain" that God was able "to guard" or "defend" what Paul was doing in the ministry as what had been entrusted to him by the Lord! "Entrusted" has the idea: "to deposit." Paul was given a task by Him and he would be faithful to the end, and his faithfulness would be honored at the Bema Seat! 

   In my commentary series on 1 & 2 Timothy (AMG), Charles Ray writes: "'That day' is primarily utilized in reference to the day believers will 'appear before the judgment seat of Christ' (2 Cor. 5:10). Paul could never return the favor, but God could."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Church Membership Importance

Dr. Couch, what is church membership and is it important?

ANSWER: In the early church we know by the epistles that the Christians in one town congregated in one assembly. While we do not read of any formal "membership" apparently the elders, and even Paul as the visiting apostle, exercised authority over all the believers in that community. So I guess to a degree, that was church membership, though today, we go through certain formalities that they may not have.

   We know that as the church age progressed, the churches demanded baptism as a sign of belief and of membership in that community. In time, this became "baptismal regeneration" and baptism was necessary for salvation. Of course, this was not biblically correct but this is the way the churches controlled the people. Very early on, believers were becoming a part of the church as an organization, a physical body, that controlled all aspects of the believer's life.

   It was the church father Cyprian who tied salvation to the church—soteriology and ecclesiology. For him salvation is a process that begins within the bosom of the church with conversion at baptism and continues within the church until death.

   "Cyprian was one of the first church fathers to clearly and unequivocally affirm baptismal regeneration—the idea that salvation happens at and by water baptism duly administered by an ordained bishop or priest." (The Story of Christian Theology, Roger Olson) The high churches do this today but in a smaller sense, by requiring local "church baptism" and tying it to membership, other congregations are doing the same thing.

   When one joins the local assembly I believe it is appropriate to ask about one's confession of Christ. And I believe it is okay to inquire if the one joining the church holds to the biblical beliefs of the congregation. Anyone is welcome to come to my church but if they are into the foolishness of amillennialism they will not be comfortable—nor would it be right for them to teach a Sunday school class, though they would still be invited to come and learn the truth and sit under the ministry of the Word of God! And warm fellowship would be the order of the day for any who darken the door! Through the church the Word of God must go forth and be available at no charge!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, October 24, 2008

Covenant Theology and the Jews

Dr. Couch, I agree with what you are saying about how covenant theology really destroys the scope of the Bible and God's plans for Israel. I do not see how they say God is through with the Jews. How do you answer this issue?

ANSWER: There are no verses that are so clear as Jeremiah 31:35-37 that show that God will never cast away the Jewish people in His plans and purposes. The covenant guys say that the church takes up the blessings promised to Israel, and that God is through with the Jews! It is my opinion that with evil intent many of the covenant guys, past and present, are anti-Semitic. And that includes some of the older theologians who just want to get rid of the Jewish people! How could these verses be any clearer?

Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for light by day,
And the fixed order of the moon and the stars
For light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
The Lord of hosts is His name:
"If this fixed order departs from Me," declares the Lord,
"Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease
from being a nation before Me forever."
Thus says the Lord,
"If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the
earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring
of Israel for all that they have done," declares the Lord.

   Jeremiah continues the thought of the permanency of the Jewish people. He does not allegorize the literalness of the verses above. They are about the Jewish linage and the natural descendants who God will someday bless again. Of course it is understood that His Spirit will touch that future generation and they will be redeemed and trust their Messiah in the last days! In 32:37-42 the prophet says that God will gather them again out of all the lands to which they have been driven in His anger.  He "will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them."

   The "one heart" and the "everlasting covenant" is the new covenant Jeremiah mentions in 31:31-34. This new covenant is signed, sealed, and delivered by Christ by His work on the cross (Luke 22:20). That return to the land, and the fulfillment of the new covenant for Israel, is about to take place, because God has brought the Jews back to the land of their forefathers, as Jeremiah mentioned in 30:1-7.

   We are getting close! The world is moving into the apostasy; the rapture is next, and then the birth pangs will fall upon Israel, as prophesied by Jeremiah in 30:6. The birth pangs have to do with the tribulation. So, when will the event of Matthew 24 take place? When these happenings here in Jeremiah 30 take place. Especially, "When I restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah … and bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it." Read the entire chapter carefully! See also Matthew 24:8, 13, 21, and 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sleep of the Believer

Dr. Couch, it is interesting what Paul is saying about "sleep" in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. I take it this is the sleep of the believer, correct?

ANSWER:  The context is about the resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. They will be resurrected, and then, immediately "those who are alive" will be changed and caught up with them (the resurrected) in the "clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (v. 17).

   Can you believe the amill and covenant guys don't know the difference between "up and down." The church resurrected, that is "those who are asleep" and "those who are alive" (could be us) are caught up (harpazo, snatched suddenly away) into the heavens to always be with the Lord, whereby when He comes to reign, "He comes down and His feet touch the Mount of Olives" (Zach. 14:4). They glibly say, "these two comings are the same."

   They fail to notice too that the coming Zachariah speaks of has to do with His reign in Israel, in Jerusalem, over the Jews and over the world, whereas the rapture coming has to do only with the church, "those in Jesus," "those in Christ" (1 Thess. 4:14, 16).

   Can you believe Ellicott says something absolutely dumb about 1 Thessalonians 4:17. He writes, "here [the catching away] is only used in contrast with the 'ground' and means 'on the way from Heaven whence He comes,' of course not to 'dwell' there, but to accompany Him to His Judgment-seat on the earth." Talking about being mixed up and messed up! What does Ellicott do with "we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together WITH THEM (the church resurrected) in the clouds to meet the Lord IN THE AIR …"?

   I write in my Thessalonian Greek commentary The Hope of Christ's Return (AMG) on verse 17:

    Going up into the sky, into the air (aera), is an unmistakable description. Jesus  is not coming down to establish His kingdom nor to judge men on earth. The  Church saints are going upward. The reason seems to be clearly stated in 5:9—to escape the coming wrath or Tribulation that falls upon the earth. To meet is actually a prepositional phrase—"into [eis] a meeting with the Lord.

   Guess what! Even amill A.T. Robertson gets the point. He writes "This (church) rapture of the saints (both risen and changed) is a glorious climax to Paul's argument of consolation. … This is the outcome, to be forever with the Lord."

   Ellicott along with so many deniers of the rapture doctrine really work hard to escape the obvious!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, October 20, 2008

How Can Amils Ignore Jeremiah 33?

Dr. Couch, though I am a dispensationalist I attend a yearly amillennial conference at which the teachers discuss all kinds of subjects. I was asked, "Are the amils you know anti-Semitic?" My answer is, Yes! And that is, by their silence. They have nothing to say about Israel or the return of the Jews to the land. By their comments, or lack there of, you would not know that there is a restored Jewish nation in the Middle East. How can they ignore such great passages as Jeremiah 33?

ANSWER: My only answer is what you have already hinted at. Deep in the soul of many amillennialists there are shades of anti-Semitism. They do not like the Jews, and, they want to make the church the cat's meow! They do not see another program of God, beyond the church age, as so clearly set forth in the Word of God. They allegorize or spiritualize the great prophetic passages of the Bible. They take Christ's first coming as literal but they take His second coming in an allegorical sense. Some, such as R. C. Sproul, are partial preterists. They believe Christ returned spiritually in 70 AD but they also hold to some kind of literal return for judgment later. They refuse to accept the plain teaching about an apostasy of the church, a rapture of the church, a seven year tribulation period, and the earthly millennial reign of Christ.

Jeremiah 33 makes it absolutely clear that God's promises of a literal fulfillment of the Davidic covenant is to take place. God will restore the fortunes of both Jewish nations, Israel and Judah. "I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and I will rebuild them as they were at the first" (v. 7). How could any promise be more clear, literal, and obvious, by using a normal hermeneutic? One has to have a preconception to deny what this verse is saying. Ellicott foolishly says this return has to do with the restoration of the Jews after the Babylonian captivity, but this cannot be.

God makes it certain that this return happens "In those days …," a future time when He places the Messiah, the Branch of David on the throne in Jerusalem. "In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth" (v. 15). And, "In those days Judah shall be saved and Jerusalem shall dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she shall be called: the Lord is our righteousness" (v. 16).

The Lord's covenant with day and night, "their appointed time," confirms the literalness of these promises. Since there will be a literal day and night, there will be a literal fulfillment of the covenant with David concerning the literal reign of his Son on the Davidic throne. "Then My covenant may also be broken (if one can get rid of day and night) with David My servant that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers" (v. 21).
Verse 24 is extremely important to this discussion. It reads: "Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, 'The two families (Israel and Judah) which the Lord chose, He has rejected them'? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight."

Unger points out that "this people" are the Jews who deny the literal fulfillment of God restoring both families (Israel and Judah) to the status of one new nation in the Kingdom! This is what the amil doubters do today! This is a strong statement but I believe that in the area of eschatology the amils are spiritually blinded so that they deny the Lord's actual return and His literal reign on earth! Unger says:

On verses 23-24. The Lord dramatically asked the prophet if he had not observed what this people (with a ring of disapproval) had said. They also (like many Christians today) denied a future for Israel. The two families (Israel and Judah), which the Lord hath chosen (v. 26; Isa. 7:17; 11:13; Ezek. 37:22), he hath … cast them off. The Lord branded that as despising Israel as his people (Neh. 4:2-4; Esther 3:6-8; Psalms 44:13-14; 83:4; Ezek. 36:2), actually a subtle form of anti-Semitism and a denial of the Kingdom to be established over Israel (Acts 1:6).
On verse 25. His covenant with Israel is as permanent as the fixed patterns of the heaven and earth that He has established (Psalm 74:16-17).
On verse 26. He has not rejected the descendants of Jacob and David, His servant. He will take from David's posterity rulers over the descendants of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3), in relation to Israel by establishing the nation in the Davidic-Messianic Kingdom (cf. Rev. 20:4-6).

Unfortunately, people gravitate to the amil position that virtually repudiates Israel and her return to the land. Anti-Semitism is a spirit of denial that is fed by a satanic philosophy. Peter notes that mockers say "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation" (2 Pet. 3:4). He adds, "It escapes their notion that by the Word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water … and the present heavens and earth by His Word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men" (vv. 5-7).

The people of earth detest the idea of Christ's return with the resulting final judgment that will destroy the world! But it is going to happen!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch