- Please explain the following passages from Job: “His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent” (Job 26:13) and “He overturns mountains at the base” (Job 28:9).
- Please explain the significance of “7” in Revelation, specifically where it speaks of seven angels and when the seventh angel said, “It is done.”
- In Genesis 20:6, God says to Abimelech, “…that I have kept you from sinning.” Is this an example of God taking away free will?
- The Bible says, “As oft as you gather together, do this in remembrance of Me.” So why do we not take the Lord’s Supper every time we meet (i.e., Wednesdays, Bible studies in which “two or more gather,” gospel meetings, etc.? Why only on Sunday?
Please explain the following passages from Job: “His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent” (Job 26:13) and “He overturns mountains at the base” (Job 28:9).
Concerning Job 26:13, the Hebrew for “pierced” (ESV) is chuwl, defined in part as “to be made to writhe, be made to bear” and “to be brought forth.” The Hebrew for “serpent” (ESV) is nachash. It was used in biblical times to refer to an actual snake and also to the constellation of the serpent or dragon in the northern part of the sky. Contextually, Job is talking about the majesty and power of God in chapter 26. Taking into account the Hebrew terminology, he is either:
- Talking about God’s hand creating (bringing forth) a literal serpent
- Talking about God “piercing” the serpent (causing the serpent to writhe), a possible reference to the Genesis 3:15 prophecy about Jesus defeating Satan
- Or talking about God’s hand creating (bringing forth) the constellations, such as the dragon or serpent constellation in the northern sky
Concerning Job 28:9, Job is contextually talking about the activities of foolish, wicked men (chapters 27-28). In chapter 28, he focuses on man’s mining activities, speaking of how man mines for silver, gold, iron, and copper in order to make a profit (28:1ff). Thus, “He overturns mountains at the base” (28:9) is contextually referring to how man digs deep into the very foundation or root of hills and mountains in search of profit. “Overturns” in Hebrew is haphak and carries with it the idea of change, something man does to the mountain when he mines it. “The base” in Hebrew is sheresh, literally “root, bottom.” Man digs to the very bottom of the mountain as he mines it in search of riches.
Please explain the significance of “7” in Revelation, specifically where it speaks of seven angels and when the seventh angel said, “It is done.”
Revelation is steeped in signified language (Rev. 1:1, KJV), so one should interpret the numbers within the book symbolically, not literally. The best way to figure out the symbolism is to primarily go to the rest of the Bible as guidance (2 Tim. 4:2).
Scripture shows that “7” symbolizes completeness. For example, “for three and for four” is a symbolic way of saying something was complete in God’s sight (Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6; Prov. 30:15b, 18, 21, 29). Israel was told to march around Jericho seven times on the seventh day before the walls fell (Josh. 6:4-5). Naaman was told to baptize himself in the Jordan seven times before his leprosy would be cured (2 Kings 5:14). God’s Word was called “pure” while being compared to “silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6). Jesus commanded forgiveness to be done “seventy times seven” times, i.e., completely (Matt. 18:21-22). On the seventh day creation was said to be completed and God rest (Gen. 2:1-2).
John saw three visions in Revelation which were very similar in nature: a vision of seven seals (6:1-17; 8:1-5), a vision of seven trumpets (9:6-13; 9:1-21; 11:15-19), and a vision of seven plagues (15:1-8; 16:1-21). All of them cover the same time period: the entirety of the Christian age. Each of them examines from different perspectives the Christian age through judgment and into eternity.
Concerning the angels, in the vision of the seven trumpets we see seven angels each blow a trumpet which then ushers in a part of the vision which symbolically foretells of a spiritual hardship Christians will deal with throughout the Christian age and into eternity. In the vision of the seven plagues we see seven angels each pour a bowl of plague upon the earth, each of which ushering in a part of the vision which symbolically foretells of the torments suffered by people who do not submit their lives to God’s will in the Christian age through judgment and into eternity.
The seventh angel pouring the seventh bowl of plague upon the earth takes us to the part of the vision which symbolically foretells of judgment and eternity (16:17-21). The passage actually insinuates rather strongly that God, rather than an angel, is the One who says “It is done!” (“a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’”). He says this after the seventh angel pours his bowl into the air, which further study shows is a figurative description of the final, eternal punishment waiting for those following false religions who did not submit to God. So when the seventh angel pours the seventh plague (which represents the eternal punishment of the wicked) and God says, “It is done!”, that means that His plan for man at this point has been completed (the symbolic meaning of “7”).
Each of the parallel visions in Revelation – the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven plagues – all cover the same period of time: the totality of the Christian age going through judgment into eternity. In each of them when the seventh seal, trumpet, and plague are talked about, John gives a symbolic description of judgment and the beginning of eternity, thus showing the completion of God’s dealings with man here on earth in this life and age.
In Genesis 20:6, God says to Abimelech, “…that I have kept you from sinning.” Is this an example of God taking away free will?
Out of fear, Abraham and Sarah had lied to Abimelech, the king of Gerar, by telling him the half-truth that Sarah was Abraham’s sister rather than his wife (Gen. 20:1-2). So Abimelech had taken Sarah to be one of his wives. Yet before he could be intimate with her, God appeared to him in a dream and threatened his life because he had taken another man’s wife (v. 3). Abimelech protested, saying he had been lied to and had simply taken Abraham and Sarah at their word (vs. 4-5). God replied, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her,” before directing the king to return Sarah to Abraham or else face death with his family (vs. 6-7).
“…it was I who kept you from sinning against me” does not mean that God took away Abimelech’s free will. Otherwise, why appear to Abimelech in a dream and threaten his life? Why direct him to return Sarah to Abraham or else face death with his family? He could have simply programmed Abimelech to return Sarah to Abraham without informing him of his wrongdoing or threatening him. In fact, He could have programmed Abimelech to never take Sarah in the first place, regardless of whether he believed the lie Abraham and Sarah had told him. He could have also programmed Abraham and Sarah to not lie in the first place. He could have programmed all of mankind to not sin against Him in any way if taking away free will was His prerogative. In reality, the Scriptures teach that God allows mankind free will (Josh. 24:15; 1 Kings 18:21).
Thus, “…it was I who kept you from sinning against me” refers to several possibilities. It could refer to whatever providential measures God had taken up to that point to keep Sarah out of Abimelech’s bedroom after he had taken her from Abraham. Perhaps a busy schedule for the king, or some palace tradition which required time to prepare Sarah in various ways to become the king’s wife or concubine. God does have the ability to providentially lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil (Matt. 6:13). Another possibility is that God was referring to the actual warning He was currently giving the king in the dream, thus providing him with strong motivation to not commit the sin of adultery. Regardless, the Lord never took away from Abimelech the choice to sin against Him.
The Bible says, “As oft as you gather together, do this in remembrance of Me.” So why do we not take the Lord’s Supper every time we meet (i.e., Wednesdays, Bible studies in which “two or more gather,” gospel meetings, etc.? Why only on Sunday?
While instituting the Supper, Jesus mentioned a day:
“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29; cf. Mk. 14:25).
“…for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God…for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now until the kingdom of God comes” (Lk. 22:16, 18).
After instituting the Supper, Jesus told them, “…just as My Father has granted me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Lk. 22:29-30).
Notice from these passages that He promised them He wouldn’t partake of communion with them until “that day” when He drinks it with them “in My Father’s kingdom,” that it would be “fulfilled in the kingdom of God,” that He wouldn’t drink of it again “until the kingdom of God comes,” and they would “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.”
What is the kingdom of God? Daniel prophesied it would arrive during the Roman empire’s existence (Dan. 2:1-45). During the time of Rome, John the Baptist and Jesus prophesied it was “at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15). After promising Peter He would build His church upon the rock of Peter’s confession, Jesus promised to give Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:15-19). He also told His disciples that some of them would be alive when the kingdom came (Mk. 9:1). Notice that the terms “church,” “kingdom of God,” and “kingdom of heaven” are all used interchangeably, proving they are the same thing.
Right before His ascension, Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the kingdom (Acts 1:6). His non-direct answer pointed them towards what would happen ten days later on Pentecost (vs. 7-8). On that day, the church began with the baptism of 3,000 souls (Acts 2:1-42). Starting at Acts 2, the rest of the Bible would always interchangeably refer to God’s kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, and the church as having already come and presently existing (Rom. 14:17; 16:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:12; Rev. 1:4, 6, 9). Therefore, the church/kingdom began its existence on Pentecost (Acts 2), a Jewish holy day called the Feast of Weeks which always took place on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-16). This means the church/kingdom began on a Sunday.
Remember, Jesus promised He would not partake of communion with His disciples until “that day,” the day His disciples would be in His Father’s kingdom, the day God’s kingdom came (Matt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25; Lk. 22:16, 18). God’s kingdom came and began its existence on a Sunday, the day of Pentecost (Acts 2; Lev. 23:15-16). Therefore, the first time the disciples observed the Lord’s Supper after Jesus instituted it would be on Sunday, Pentecost, the day God’s kingdom came.
This fits with Luke’s account of the very first activities of the newly converted 3,000 on Pentecost (Acts 2:42). “The breaking of bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:16-17; cf. 11:23-25). In Acts 2:42, the apostles directed the Jerusalem church to observe communion on the day the church began, a Sunday. The fact that they were “continually” doing so suggests by definition that it was a fixed habit. Further evidence that this is so is found in Luke’s account of the Troas church (Acts 20:7) and Paul’s direction to Corinth and Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1-2). The Troas church gathered together for the purpose of “breaking bread” (i.e., partaking of communion) on Sunday and did so with Paul’s approval. Paul directed both the Corinthian and Galatian churches to take up collections every first day of the week, implying that he knew they had the habit of assembling together every Sunday. Since he taught the same thing at every congregation (1 Cor. 4:17; cf. 1 Cor. 16:1), we can be confident that all the early churches gathered together to observe communion under his direction.
There is even evidence outside of the Bible which shows that the early church observed communion on Sundays. The Didache, an uninspired collection of Christian teachings written around the close of the first century A.D., says, “But every Lord’s day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. (14:1; cf. Rev. 1:10). Around fifty years or so later, one of the apostle John’s disciples, a Christian named Justin Martyr, was writing a defense of Christianity to Emperor Antoninus Pius. In chapter 67 of his defense, he wrote, “The day of the Sun is the day on which we all gather together in a common meeting, because it is the first day, the day on which God, changing darkness and matter, created the world, and it is the day on which Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.”
Going back to the Bible, all of the biblical evidence points to Christians assembling together to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week (Acts 2:1-42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; cf. Lev. 23:15-16). Thus, “as often as you drink it” in the context of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:25) refers to as often as Christians come together on Sundays. When we do so, we can be confident that Jesus is with us just as He promised (Matt. 26:29; cf. 18:20; Heb. 2:11-12). Since the entirety of the biblical evidence points to Sundays, we must obey God’s directive to not add to nor take away from Scripture and keep our observance of communion on Sundays as well (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19).