PART 1: ANCIENT CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES
NOTE: When referencing the Bible, I will be using the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise indicated. I am in no way supported by, or affiliated with any of the sources, resources, or references used in this document/post.
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON ANTEDILUVIAN INFLUENCE
If one were to examine all the cultural narratives from around the world one might notice a reoccurring theme of flood mythology.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_flood_myths (List of flood myths)
According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the antediluvian world was so corrupt that the Author of life decided to wipe it out with a global flood. Only one family and a host of animals were saved. It is said that after the flood the surviving family’s vessel landed on the mountains of Ararat.
According to secular historical accounts, complex civilization first took form in the southern Mesopotamian region. This is a short distance from Mount Ararat when taking the entire globe into consideration. The people who first established this complex civilization were known as Sumerians.
The Sumerian people practiced a polytheistic religion which featured a pantheon of gods. If the Hebrew narrative is correct, then the presence of polytheistic religion might suggest some kind of a schism between the descendants of the flood survivors—there were those who continued in the same monotheistic faith as Noah and those who did not.
Some would argue that polytheism pre-dates monotheism because of what’s reflected in the archaeological record. However, oral tradition was prominent in the ancient world and there may be written records that have yet to be discovered. People should bear in mind that Sumer wasn’t excavated until the 19th century CE.
http://factsanddetails.com/world/cat56/sub402/entry-6084.html (ARCHAEOLOGY IN MESOPOTAMIA)
The Sumerians kept records of their kings and claimed a royal succession between their heads of state and the various rulers of the pre-flood world.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerian_King_List#Lines_1-39:_before_the_flood (Sumerian King List)
As it pertains to this post, it is irrelevant whether or not these antediluvian claims were true. What is relevant is that the people of Sumer believed their rulers were successors of the antediluvian civilization.
Some might interpret the polytheistic religion of Sumer as an expression of that which came before the flood. In the following paragraphs I will explain why this perspective might be argued from an ancient Near East Christian point of view.
In the Bible there are brief descriptions of the antediluvian world.
In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve are deceived by a serpent in the Garden of Eden. According to Ezekiel 28:13-14 Satan was in the Garden of Eden and he was a cherubim angel. According to accounts in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 10, representation of the creaturely realm is incorporated into the appearance of cherubim angels. Revelation 20:2 refers to Satan as a dragon and a serpent.
I believe that, according to the Bible, Satan is a powerful angel with a serpentine appearance. When God rebukes Satan in Genesis 3:14 I believe He is speaking figuratively and relegating Satan to an animal in metaphorical terms. I believe that Isaiah 14:11-12 and Ezekiel 28:17 are more literal pronouncements of the same judgement found in Genesis 3:14. It seems that these pronouncements, in their entirety, consist of past tense, present tense, and future tense elements.
Some have speculated that Satan's fall took place prior to the creation of Eden. I disagree with this notion as it would render Ezekiel 28:13-15 anachronistic.
The Bible tells us that Satan was a powerful angel with rank and responsibility. It says that Satan fell from his position of excellence and corrupted the human race. Thus begins the downward spiral of the antediluvian age.
The next antediluvian event marked by corruption is the Bible’s first recorded homicide. Adam’s son Cain murders his brother Abel. Afterward, violence becomes commonplace in antediluvian society (e.g., Genesis 4:23-24, Genesis 6:11).
In Genesis 6 angels engage in illicit relations with human women (I believe this is referenced in Jude 1:6-7) and the resulting offspring are hybrids known as “Nephilim.” The Nephilim were generally regarded as debased, oppressive giants who roamed the earth before and after the flood. Like flood mythology, hybrid/giant mythology is a reoccurring theme worldwide.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_giants_in_mythology_and_folklore (List of giants in mythology and folklore)
Eventually, people reach a state of perpetual evil and all flesh corrupts its way on the earth (see Genesis 6:12). God decides to destroy the antediluvian world save for Noah, his family, and a host of animals.
It is important to note that in the ancient Near East, many Christians believed that the transgressive relationship between humans and fallen angels was one of the primary factors contributing to the flood.
From an ancient Near East Abrahamic perspective, polytheism was thought to include the worship of either a) fallen entities, b) non-existent entities, or c) both. From this perspective, some might perceive a post-flood engagement with polytheism as a revival of antediluvian practices. It was believed by many in the ancient Near East that pagan gods were in fact fallen angels masquerading as benevolent beings.
Various ancient Near East perspectives might interpret Sumerian religion as the early stages of an antediluvian resurgence—humans and fallen angels collaborating together.
The Bible establishes a clear distinction between created beings and the eternal, uncreated God. Only God is to be worshipped (see Matthew 4:10). Created beings such as angels are not to be worshipped (see Colossians 2:18, Romans 1:25). Even when a human worships an angel by mistake the angel should reject the worship (see Revelation 22:8-9). If any supernatural being other than God receives worship and approves of it, then this being, according to biblical doctrine, is either a corrupt angel or a demon.
The Sumerians are conquered by Sargon of Akkad and the postdiluvian world’s first empire is established. The empire integrates Sumerian and Akkadian civilization together. The Akkadian language replaces the Sumerian language in day-to-day life, however, the Sumerian language is retained for specialty purposes (similar to Latin’s relevancy in the Middle Ages). Eventually, Akkadian becomes the lingua franca of the Middle East.
In Genesis 11 people come together and propose a large project.
“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’” (Genesis 11:4, ESV)
After the flood God told humans to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (see Genesis 9:1). In Genesis 11 not only do people express a contrary desire to this command but they attempt to erect a monument to this defiance. God confuses their language and disperses them over the surface of all the earth.
God then assigns angels (sons of God) to the nations—God is permitting the fallen nations to have their gods, the angels, preside over them.
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” (Deuteronomy 32:8, ESV)
Much later in Psalm 82 God speaks to the angels who preside over the nations. He is not happy with their administration. Some believe that, in part, Satan and his angels are permitted to rule so that people can see just how futile any alternative to God is.
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON ISRAEL, THE MESSIAH, AND THE WORLD
The Bible says that the nation of Israel is God’s personal nation. Israel will always be God’s people and nation (see Genesis 17:8). Israel will continue to exist, both spiritually and ethnically, in this current age as well as the age to come (see Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Ezekiel 47:13-23. I believe Ezekiel 47 is a prophecy pertaining to the millennium after the resurrection—I will explain this position in part 3). In the Bible, Israel is presented as an ark among the sea of fallen nations.
“But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” (Deuteronomy 32:9, ESV)
“And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods?” (2 Samuel 7:23, ESV)
The angel who presides over the nation of Israel is the archangel Michael (see Daniel 12:1). Michael is a holy angel loyal to God.
Through Israel the Messiah comes to redeem the world.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7, ESV)
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6, ESV)
The Messiah described in Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 53:5-6 is God in the flesh, HaMashiach of Israel. People living in the ancient Near East believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the HaMashiach for many different reasons. One of these reasons was that the prophecies in Isaiah (and Zechariah 12:10) were written long before Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and long before He suffered and died on the cross.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_Scroll (Isaiah Scroll)
According to ancient Near East Christianity, Jesus will one day return to rule the entire planet (Christian interpretation of Daniel 7:13-14) from the nation of Israel (Christian interpretation of Isaiah 9:6-7).
The Bible says that when Gentiles become genuine Christians, they are spiritually grafted into Israel.
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” (Romans 11:17-18, ESV)
“Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’; ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’” (Romans 11:25-27, ESV)
To emphasize Israel’s biblical destiny as a nation, a small nation that overcomes the fallen world, numerous analogies are provided throughout the Bible.
There are several battles between Israelites and Nephilim giants—God’s people verses the fallen angel’s people.
The editorial note in Numbers 13:33 tells us that the Anakim were Nephilim. In Joshua 11:21 the Anakim are defeated by the Israelites. In Joshua 11:22 we are told that some of the Anakim remained in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. Most people are familiar with the story of “David and Goliath.” Goliath was from Gath which may suggest he was Nephilim. David, a small Israeli shepherd boy, defeats a fallen worldly giant—an analogy of Israel’s national destiny to overcome the fallen world. (see also 2 Samuel 21:15-22)
Prominent historians would mention giants in their writing.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0003.tlg001.perseus-eng3:6.2.1 (Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War)
In book 5, chapter 2, verse 3 of Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus describes giants as having a surprising countenance and a skeletal structure contrary to humans (I regard Josephus as a secular source ONLY. I would recommend that other people do the same).
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-5.html (Antiquities of the Jews — Book V)
I disagree with Brien Foerster’s views on religion, science, etc. However, I think his inquiry into abnormal skulls is somewhat intriguing when contemplating the unusual nature of the past.
(Note: I do not agree with the host's statements at the beginning of the video)
Some people believe that the Nephilim still walk among us today (an extremely diluted form of them). I do not share this belief. One might argue that Daniel 2:43 suggests the possibility of their return. In the event of such an occurrence, Christians are called to spread the gospel. Christians are not called to physically engage/fight with Nephilim or any other people for that matter. Christians are called to live in peace as best they can.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:17-18, ESV)
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON ANGELIC AUTHORITIES AND POST-RESSURECTION COMMISSIONS
The apostle Paul speaks of evil spiritual authorities to which he and the saints contend with by sharing the gospel.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
I believe the spiritual forces of evil mentioned in Ephesians 6:12 are the same administration God rebukes in Psalm 82.
When attempting to study the motives of Satan and the host of Ephesians 6:12 through the lens of an ancient Near East Christian, I’ve come to several conclusions.
In the Old Testament angels with authority are often referred to as “sons of God.” According to Deuteronomy 32:8, the sons of God are assigned to nations. In Daniel 10 nations have supernatural princes who sometimes contend with other supernatural beings (see Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:20). Genesis 6:4 and Psalm 82 tell us that “sons of God” transgressed. With additional information it is implied that the leader of the transgressors is Satan (see Matthew 4:8-9, John 14:30).
In Luke 3 a genealogy is provided. Adam is listed as a “son of God” because he is a direct creation of God—there is no human lineage between Adam and God. After Adam sins, his fallen nature is carried down through the generations. Adam’s sin corrupts the entire human race (see Romans 5:12). When Jesus the Son of God (capital S) enters into creation as the Son of Man, He tells Nicodemus that in order to see the kingdom of God one must be born again. The Greek rendered “again” in English is ambiguous and can also mean “from above.” I believe that both meanings are intended and that Jesus is saying one must be born again from above to be restored. Jesus goes on to make several other statements.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:6-7, ESV)
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15, ESV)
The Bible is saying that in order to escape the corrupt lineage and fallen nature of this world one must be born again spiritually through Jesus Christ. Those who are genuinely born again through faith in Christ become “sons of God.”
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:26, ESV)
“he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” (Ephesians 1:5, ESV)
“And Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:34-36, ESV)
Just as Jesus replaces Satan as the Emperor of the world (see Isaiah 9:6-7), the Bible seems to suggest that Christian sons of God will replace the current angelic sons of God as supernatural administrators (after the resurrection).
“if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;” (2 Timothy 2:12, ESV)
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,” (Revelation 2:26, ESV)
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3, ESV)
The Psalm 82 gods, who I believe are the same host described in Ephesians 6:12, are told that their demise is inevitable. The Bible suggests that they will be replaced by Christians. With this situation in view, an ancient Near East Christian may have come to the following conclusion: The gods saturate the world with pseudo-enlightenment schemes and false religious systems in an attempt to try and postpone or circumvent their inevitable end—replacement and destruction. The gods will deceive people into thinking that they can merit their own salvation through good deeds, rituals, and point systems, to try and prevent the replacement quota from being reached. However, according to ancient biblical interpretation, people can only be saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV)
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV)
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13, ESV)
The Bible doesn’t say that non-Christians are satanic or purposely in league with various forms of spiritual deception (although the Bible does testify to the existence of satanism as well as those who knowingly engage with spiritual deception). King Cyrus of Persia, a pagan king, was a great man who is highly esteemed throughout the Bible. The Bible acknowledges that there are noble non-Christian men and women —the good Samaritan being another example (see Luke 10:25-37). The Bible also acknowledges that there are Christians who backslide and behave in ways unbecoming of a Christian. According to the Bible, all humans are made in the image of God and God cares about everyone. The point the Bible is trying to make is that all men and women are guilty of something—everyone requires atonement to be restored to immortality and to be accepted into the next age. The Bible is saying that those with Jesus Christ as their atoning sacrifice will be saved and those without Him will perish.
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES AND CURRENT EVENTS
It is said that in the ancient world the Hebrew book of Genesis contended with the Babylonian Enūma Eliš.
https://www.toddjana.com/genesis-1-in-its-ane-context/ (Genesis 1:1-2:3 in its Ancient Near Eastern Context)
Today, pagan narratives are re-emerging through occult forms of scientific thought.
In the opening sequence of Prometheus (2012) an extraterrestrial being is sacrificed to create life. In the Babylonian Enūma Eliš a god is sacrificed to create life (Tablet 6). The Enūma Eliš is written on clay tablets in Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform script. If you look closely (0:34), there is a visual resemblance between Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform script and the script on the extraterrestrial’s bowl.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Sumero-Akkadian_cuneiform_syllabary.jpg (Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform syllabary)
This trend of recasting the gods as extraterrestrial entities from other planets is not limited to Mesopotamian mythology. It involves mythologies from all around the world and has been gaining momentum for decades.
According to the Bible, angels can leave their abodes and assume physical form. Sometimes this is endorsed by God (see Genesis 18:20-22 followed by Genesis 19:1-3) but in other circumstances it is a very serious transgression (see Genesis 6:4 followed by Jude 1:6-7).
If ancient Near East Christians were alive today, they would probably have a different take on current events. They might interpret current events as having set the stage for a bogus claim of interplanetary origin should a corrupt angelic host decide to make such a claim.
Some of them may see Extraterrestrialism as a potential false religion. Others might see the entire topic of aerial phenomena and interplanetary visitation as a massive decoy. Both would agree that the gods are a supernatural host with supernatural intelligence and composition—they’re superior to humans. They would agree that without the Trinitarian God of the Christian Bible, humans have no prevailing discernment in supernatural matters. In other words, they would agree that humans cannot outthink the host of Ephesians 6:12 without divine intervention. They would attempt to contemplate both contemporary and future events using biblical content and reasoning.
This brings us to our next topic, Christian Eschatology.
After studying Christian eschatology for several years, I can safely say that most people do not understand it. There are many false end time’s interpretations (interpretations that contradict the biblical text) and many false associations. For example, some people have suggested that the coronavirus vaccines are the mark of the beast. However, I know that the current coronavirus vaccines are NOT the mark of the beast (they cannot be interpreted as such) because according to the Bible, certain events must first take place before the mark of the beast is presented (see Revelation 13:11-18). Needless to say, a number of these events have never occurred. Also, it should be noted that the Bible does not specify whether or not the mark of the beast comes in the form of a vaccine.
In my next post I will discuss eschatology. I will share what I think are some of the most accurate resources on the topic and I will attempt to answer a common challenge to premillennialism.
To conclude this post, I will share a link as well as my thoughts on various Christian doctrines. I hope to discuss textual transmission and translation in a separate post (2022). For now, I would recommend the English Standard Version to anyone who would like an English translation of the Bible. You can find a free audio production of the English Standard Version online.
https://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/audio-bible-resources/mp3-downloads (Faith Comes By Hearing)
CHRISTIAN PASSAGES AND DOCTRINES
In my opinion, the following passages are some of the most relevant passages in Christian Theology…
- Jesus identifies Himself as God – Compare John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14. Compare Mark 14:60-64 with Daniel 7:13-14. See also John 10:17-18.
- Luke 5:32, Luke 15:2-7, and Luke 18:9-14.
- Romans 5:8–10, 1 Corinthians 15:3–8, 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, and John 14:6.
- John 1:12–13, Romans 9:15–16, Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 2:8–9, and John 6:44.
- John 10:27–30.
- Isaiah 53:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:21.
In my opinion, the following doctrines are some of the most biblically accurate doctrines in Christian Theology…
Doctrine of the Trinity
There are numerous examples of God referring to a second person of Himself in the Old Testament.
“Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24, ESV)
Notice how God refers to a second person of Himself when He describes the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“‘I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you did not return to me,’ declares the LORD.” (Amos 4:11, ESV)
The Holy Spirit is described as God’s presence and operates in time and space as the third person of the Trinity.
“Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11, ESV)
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2, ESV)
Given that angels do not create in the same sense that God does, I believe that “us” and “our” in Genesis 1:26 is the Trinity.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:26, ESV)
In Revelation 4:8 God is addressed/worshiped as holy three times. This occurs in the Old Testament as well.
“And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’” (Isaiah 6:3, ESV)
The quotes above are just a few of the many Old Testament passages which support the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, due to the numerous Old Testament descriptions of a second person in the Godhead, many ancient Jews concluded that God exists in two persons or two powers. This binitarian belief was considered admissible by Judaism up until approximately the second century CE.
Cessationism is not biblical (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). However, the Bible calls for discernment and warns about counterfeits.
I believe that the prewrath position is the most consistent Christian eschatological position. This position belongs to the premillennial system of eschatology which I will discuss in the following post.
According to the Bible, Israel has a very glorious national destiny (see Isaiah 9:6-7). However, the ancient prophets forecast difficult times for Israel prior to the fulfillment of her destiny (see Jeremiah 30:7, Daniel 9:26-27, Daniel 11:36-39).
This concludes my post on Ancient Christian Perspectives. For PART 2: CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY, click here.