Thinking Out Loud

September 20, 2016

The Mysterious Book of Mysteries

end-times-prophetic-etc-books

This is not a book review. I didn’t read The Harbinger or The Mystery of the Shemitah. Or the book today’s discussion is focused on.

These books just aren’t my thing. I’m sorry. Different things attract different people. I tend to be more IVP than Charisma House. More N.T. Wright than Joyce Meyer.

the-book-of-mysteries-by-jonathan-cahnI have held a copy of The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn in my hands. It’s a packed volume written in a format where you can simply read it all at once — which I suspect most people will do — or read it in the alternative devotional format provided, doing a page per day. Each page’s header names the specific mystery uncovered or revealed. (The complete Table of Contents is pictured below.)

So why mention it here at all? Simply because if past trends hold, this will be one of the bestselling Christian books from now until Christmas. So for that reason, I think it’s important for some Christians to know what other Christians are reading. Here’s one take on it:

“At the end of each mystery, The Teacher gives the disciple a mission about how to apply it to your life and it can actually transform your life,” said Cahn, describing the story. “I don’t say things lightly like this. I believe this truly can transform lives if you go on this journey. And there other thing is there are mysteries in here that have never been revealed as far as we know, never before. It’s almost like hundreds of Harbingers, if you can imagine that.”

[Radio host George] Noory asked Cahn how he was able to discover these secrets. However, as Cahn pointed out, he didn’t come up with anything. The mysteries, the rabbi maintained, were created by God. And Cahn said once readers start on this journey, it never really ends.

(A sample of the writing from The Teacher appears at the bottom of this article.)

Amid the fanfare of the book’s release, it’s hard to find a good analysis from a website I or you would know. At CBD there were a number of five star reviews, as well as this one which goes on for many, many paragraphs:

Apparently, the time has come for the false Jewish prophets of Mystery Schools that are prevalent in some Messianic Jewish circles to come out of the closet and take a bow. Now that Christians have been trained to search for hidden messages in their Bibles, Jonathan Cahn has come out with his third book; “The Book of Mysteries.” Does the Bible contain “mysteries,” hidden codes and dates for Christians to distract themselves searching out? Absolutely not! God never intended for His word to be a book of mysteries to be unlocked! That is a thoroughly Kabbalistic / Gnostic teaching…

For the most part however, the gatekeeper and watchdog bloggers hold back until something becomes truly popular and then launch their attack where and when it can do the most damage. I’m not sure I fully trust the one above simply because of its sheer length and use of capital letters. Seriously, can’t we debate someone’s theological perspective without the use of caps lock? (I am amazed they published the scathing review on the retail site, which you’ll notice I didn’t link to.)

So what did the publisher say?

The Book of Mysteries opens up with a traveler and his encounter with a man known only as “the teacher.” The teacher takes him an on odyssey through desert mountains, valleys, gardens and plains, encounters with nomadic tent dwellers, caverns and ancient ruins, chambers of scrolls and vessels, and more. The reader is taken along to partake in the journey and in all the teachings and revelations. The traveler keeps a journal in which he writes down each of the mysteries given to him by the teacher in his one-year odyssey—365 different mysteries—one for each day of the year. Thus, on top of everything else, The Book of Mysteries is also a daily devotional unlike any other. And each mystery contains a special mission for each day of the year, a mission that takes the revelation and applies it to reality for a life-changing journey.

I wouldn’t devote myself to this book, but I might read a few more pages just to see what others find so captivating about this author. This will be a huge bestseller. It does seem to be part of an another world, a world quite removed from the centrist Evangelicalism with which I more fully identify.

book-of-mysteries-contents

book-of-mysteries-sample-page


The opening graphic was in my files from a thing I ran last year and was actually the impetus for mentioning Cahn’s latest here on the blog. In fairness, Hagee, Hitchcock and Biltz (not a law firm) were not actually mentioned today. By the way, for those of you who are still reading, don’t you think there’s a similarity between what’s in the above book excerpt and the type of writing you find in Jesus Calling or is it just me?

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February 20, 2015

The Bible and the Weather Forecast

Before his recent suspension from NBC’s Nightly News broadcast, I always thought that if I ever found myself sitting next to Brian Williams on an airplane, the first question I would ask is, “Do you remember the last time you did an evening newscast without a weather story?

free_snow_signMuch of the American news coverage revolves around hurricanes and tornadoes and drought in the summer and freezing rain and record snowfalls in the winter. One has to wonder if the place was ever meant to be inhabited. To those who constantly ask, “Is America in Bible prophecy,” the answer might have more to do with the country being diminished by weather catastrophe than by some major loss of economic influence.

In my native Canada, we are more accustomed to the worst the meteorologists have to forecast. Everything from clothing to cars to housing must be able to withstand temperatures varying from -40°C to +40°C, and even lower wind chill factors and higher humidity indexes. (To my U.S. readers, I’m sorry that you are one of only two countries left that does not use the metric system. I think pride has a lot to do with that. The lower temperature is the same -40°F as this is the place where the two scales meet. The higher would be 104°F.) Canada has also built infrastructures — the banking of roads is a great example — with winter in mind and each municipality and province is well equipped with trucks and snowplows as well as alternatives to salt, which is ineffective below a certain point on the thermometer.

By contrast, it was reported two nights ago that a large U.S. municipality has only 12 trucks for spreading salt, no doubt due to its situation in what is termed “the south.” Changing weather patterns mean that preparedness takes on a new importance. Perhaps this type of truck can be re-purposed for other duties when the temperatures are warmer.

I heard it recently here suggested that America spends so much on its government bureaucracy, and so much on the war effort, that the money simply doesn’t exist to keep southern Interstate highways free of snow and ice.

But back to our theme, I can’t help but think of a couple of verses in Luke 21 where Jesus is speaking:

There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.  (11)  There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. (25)

These verses are part of a longer prophetic section which, just as you can skip stones across a lake, had one more immediate fulfillment and can be expected to have yet another fulfillment to come.

I noticed I wrote about weather at least once a year here.  In 2011:

I think weather is a rather weak “sign” of the impending ending to the “age of grace” when compared with, for example, moral decay. When people say, “Look at the way the world is…;” they generally are referring to its spiritual state, not its meteorological state. Furthermore, it’s the aggregate of many signs that point to “final wrap up” here.

and more practically:

I think we have a responsibility to close the windows so the rain doesn’t get in. In other words, we need to do the practical things we can do here and now.

In 2012 shortly after watching a sermon from Greg Boyd:

…Boyd is very cautious about trying to read too much into the effects of weather phenomena: “It’s like reading tea leaves.” He points out that when the disciples find themselves caught at sea in a storm, Jesus, normally depicted as ‘in charge’ of the weather, actually rebukes the storm, using the same word that he would use when silencing a demon. Boyd asks, “If Jesus was in charge of the storm, why did he need to rebuke it?”

Still, there is no denying that the United States is seeing a number of modern day plagues, and since it was God himself that sent the plagues to Egypt, it is certainly easy to jump to similar conclusions with weather signs…

Last year we looked at whether (no pun intended) or not we should speak of “Mother Nature”:

…I do think that much if not all of the weather phenomena we experience is the natural consequence of living in a fallen world. When we speak questions like, “How could a loving God allow so much evil to exist?” we are usually talking about genuine evil, and not snow or drought; but it all comes under the same category. This world is broken, and we are continually adding to that brokenness through our disregard for the environment.

Is God powerless in all this? Not for a moment. I believe that God is positively disposed and favorably inclined to intervene each time someone prays, but that sometimes he holds back his hand and allows things to proceed naturally. A miracle is a miracle because it doesn’t happen every day. I don’t know if Pat Robertson really “prayed a hurricane back” from the Virginia coast in the ’70s, but I do believe that God is intervening in our planet more times than we realize. I don’t subscribe to the “clockmaker” theory that God simply “wound up” the planet and left it “ticking.” 

At the very least, the winter of 2014-15 should give us pause to consider our place in the cosmos, that we are no match for the elements, and yet for the most part we survive the winter and move on. 

Where my son is in Haiti right now, they might look at things differently however. The earthquake 5 years ago took 250,000 lives.  While the tectonic shifts are not meteorological per se, they are the effect of living in a fallen world much greatly magnified. To that, I cannot answer today, but it helps us put our weather concerns in perspective.


image: Daily Encouragement, Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

August 25, 2011

Everybody Talks about the Weather…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:18 pm

Last night here in the Greater Toronto area, we sat glued to the Intellicast weather satellite web page, watching as a long skinny band of severe thunderstorms tracked its way from Terra Haute, Indiana, through Detroit, toward Toronto and up to Ottawa.   One Ontario town, Goderich, had seen its downtown area devastated by a tornado just the day before and was back on the tornado watch 24 hours later.

Tornadoes are rare in the area east of Toronto, but then so are earthquakes in Washington, DC.   It’s been that kind of week.  And sooner or later, someone steps forth to suggest all the strange weather is an indication that we are indeed “living in the end times.”  How do you respond?

First of all, I think weather is a rather weak “sign” of the impending  ending to the “age of grace” when compared with, for example, moral decay.  When people say, “Look at the way the world is…;” they generally are referring to its spiritual state, not its meteorological state. Furthermore, it’s the aggregate of many signs that point to “final wrap up” here.

So a good response might be, “Well yes, we knew that.”

Secondly, I think that we have imperative ever before us to live in an “end times” mindset.  The early disciples expected Christ to return in a matter of weeks or months.  Our expectation should be greater.  But we also don’t know what the next day might bring; it may not be the “last days” for everyone, but it could be the “very last day” for us.  We need to think in terms of leaving a legacy, of passing our faith values on to the next generation and doing some “kingdom building” that will impact our neighbors, co-workers, extended family, etc. 

So a good response might be, “Are you fully prepared, no matter what happens?”

Finally, I think we have a responsibility to close the windows so the rain doesn’t get in.  In other words, we need to do the practical things we can do here and now.  To not be so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good.  To not be spiritualizing the moment when we should be rounding up the patio furniture so it doesn’t blow away. 

So a good response to your neighbor might be, “Do you want to join us in the basement to ride out the storm?”

September 19, 2010

A Rather Unique Explanation of ‘666’

Filed under: theology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:48 pm

I’d forgotten about this particular post at this blog until an e-mail last night jogged my memory.    I’ve made some changes to it in order to insert a longer excerpt from the original blog…

Remember those people in the late ’60s who declared that VISA and MASTERCARD credit cards were “the mark of the beast?”   Well, what if they were somewhat right?

Actually, the cards were called by other names back then.   VISA was “Chargex” here in Canada, “BankAmericard” in the U.S. and went by other names elsewhere.  Meanwhile, MASTERCARD went by the now awkward-sounding name “Mastercharge.”

Some Christians (okay, mostly evangelicals) declared this was the beginning of the end when it came to interpreting the “666″ mark in Revelation, but were strangely silent decades later when debit cards were introduced.   I’ve never understood what made the difference and the resultant silence on ATM cards.

I remember Pat Robertson commenting that the mark on the hand and forehead were symbolic.   The hand represents the work of man and the forehead represents the thoughts of man; the result being an anti-Christ figure who wants to control both.

Online, I ran into Tim Jamz.  In a post on March 28th, 2008, he suggested that “the mark of the beast” isn’t the number 666.   It’s numbers, period.    Our preoccupation with them.   Our can’t live without them.  Commenting in another forum, Tim said, “Our focus on our own contrived systems of analysis, and the reliance on these systems, separates us from our Creator.”

The road he takes to get to there, an examination of themes occurring in both Genesis and Revelation is going to seem murky to some readers, but you should read it anyway.  Here’s the highlight:

The “Mark of the Beast” is 666, right? Technically, it is “six-hundred, three-score, and six,” according to the King James Version of the Bible. Well, a friend I hung out with many moons ago … brought this up; it’s stuck with me ever since, and the more I think about it, it really makes sense.

The Book of Revelation, where the Mark is referenced, was written during the reign of the Roman Empire, in a region, which was primarily ruled by Rome. Naturally, the original text, and the number written to mean the “Mark of the Beast” would have been written in the Roman language… enter: Roman Numerals. We’ve all learned these in grade school, and most television shows and other “scholarly” works use them to denote dates, et al.

If you write out the number 666 in Roman Numerals, it comes out: DCLXVI. (500+ 100+ 50+ 10+ 5+ 1= 666) That’s right, one of each Roman Number, in descending order. So, it could be surmised that “numbers,” in general, are the Mark of the Beast. Before you exorcise your computer, think about this.

Modern civilizations are wholly dependent on numbers; for currency, for architecture, for science…. EVERYTHING! Everything except God, that is. Our quest for knowledge between good and evil… our ultimate desire and preconception that our minds are able to make determinations in general… these are what separate us from simple existence, and one-ness with the Creator.

I found the conclusion resonated more than the premise, but make your own decision.   To go directly to that post, titled ‘Lost in Translation,’ use this link.

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