Nebuchadnezzar’s Gospel

The book of Daniel consists of three heptamerous cycles, each cycle becoming the first step in a greater one.1See Daniel’s Long Shadow. At the thesis (center) of the first cycle (Daniel 1), Daniel passes through a “priestly” death and resurrection (having to do with food). At the thesis of the third cycle (Daniel 9), it is Christ who passes through the process, a “prophetic” death and resurrection (regarding Israel and the nations). Between the priestly and the prophetic is the kingly “death and resurrection” of Nebuchadnezzar, and the strange details of the account reveal this king, like Daniel, to be a type of God’s future work.

References   [ + ]

Why Was Enoch Taken?

There are many events in the Bible which, if taken in isolation, make little sense. The “translation” of Enoch is one of them.

The skeptical mind sees them as artefacts of imaginative story telling. The faithful mind sees them rightly as works of God. But the faithful modern mind is left to scour the slim pickings available from even the best commentators if historical architecture is not taken into account.

Aaron Denlinger remarks that “Calvin’s comments on chapter 5 of Genesis barely fill a handful of pages in his lengthy commentary on the first book of the Bible,” then comments:

The record of Enoch’s translation, then, speaks not to what a man might merit, in distinction from his peers, by virtue of his righteous walk or talk. It speaks, rather, to the peculiar mercy of God, who responds to the need of his people to have their faith in him and his promise buttressed by clear and repeated reminders of his character and his promise. And in itself it constitutes an instance of God’s promise, reminding God’s people that death is no final word even for those who, unlike Enoch, must undergo it. Enoch inherited a “better abode” by a rather peculiar means; but every true believer is an heir of that “better abode,” and so ultimately of the God whose presence defines that place.1Aaron Denlinger, The gospel according to Enoch: Calvin on Gen. 5.21-24.

This conclusion is a good one, since it takes the whole Bible into account. But if you are like me, there is a niggling feeling that we still have not got to the bottom of things. The modern evangelical practice of “seeing Christ in all the Scriptures” is often little more than whitewashing a passage with things we already know. Rusty Reno writes:

Many of us have limited biblical imaginations. We have stock phrases and favorite passages. We think of ourselves as biblical, but our friends recognize that nine times out of ten we’re quoting from Paul’s Letter to the Romans or the Book of Revelation or the Gospel of John. The Old Testament functions as a hazy background. The Psalms have no living power. Although we would vigorously deny it, we are functionally allied with Friedrich Schleiermacher, who notoriously set aside the Old Testament, or Immanuel Kant, who rejected the ‘Jewish’ parts of the Old Testament as unusable. Should we be surprised, therefore, that our preaching and teaching remains ‘spiritual’ or ‘theological’ in an abstract and theoretical way? Nothing we say is heretical. Orthodoxy carries the day. But it all floats a few feet above the ground.2Rusty Reno, from his foreword to The Glory of Kings: A Festschrift for James B. Jordan.

This explains why Calvin’s, and even Denligner’s, explanations are so unsatisfying. They are merely telling us what we already know. Their “big picture” is in reality just a collection of facts about the Gospel, with little or no comprehension of the work of the Gospel as a process in history. Consequently, so much theology today, even at the highest levels, has the character of a long-winded essay by a high school student who has not really understood the question. This failure is disguised in a smokescreen of factoids and generalities, and the actual question is never answered. We learn what effect the taking of Enoch might have had on the people of the day. We learn why God might have chosen Enoch instead of somebody else. But why did God actually take him? This is the question even the child wants answered. But these learned minds haven’t got a clue, because they do not see the mind of God expounded in the processes of history.

The answer is that Enoch was taken by God as a kind of Firstfruits. The pattern of Adam’s testing as an individual became the first step in a larger but identical pattern measured out in the culture he founded. Adam was taken from the Land into the Garden Sanctuary, and there must be a correspondence in the larger picture as the cultus is reflected in the culture, as the Head takes on a Body.

Like the Creation Week, every level of the narrative prefigures the pattern described more clearly in Israel’s festal calendar, where the Gospel process is written into the nation’s harvest year. In a very simplified form, the greater picture looks like this:

Creation: The sin of Adam (Sabbath)
Division: The murder of Abel (Passover)
Ascension: The taking of Enoch (Firstfruits)
Testing: Men as murderous “gods” (Pentecost)
Maturity: Noah’s prophetic witness (Trumpets)
Conquest: The Great Flood (Atonement/Coverings)
Glorification: A new creation, with new worship established (Booths) 3For a more detailed presentation, see Bible Matrix: An Introduction To The DNA Of The Scriptures.

We can also align the elements of the Tabernacle to each step of this process, which means that the history also has a cruciform shape. But that is probably enough for now. The question has not only been answered, it has been answered in a form so simple that it could have been sketched on the triangular shape of a folded paper napkin. Yet so far, after seven years of beating the drum, it seems such an understanding is beyond the grasp of almost all of the brightest in the field today.

The Bible Matrix offers a new paradigm for theology, one which is not imposed upon the text but instead springs from the text, and makes the absolute genius of the inspired Scriptures apparent in a way that a child can understand.

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

Even the earliest accounts in Scripture are doing something far beyond the grasp not only of the Reformers, but also of modern Reformed academia, which seems incapable of meaningful reform generated by the Scriptures. It merely attempts to maintain the status quo.

These theologians are unwilling to open their minds like children. When it comes to the Scriptures, even among the godly, the wise are indeed simple, their eyes are blind, their ears are deaf, and their academic rigor is mortis. But as always, God is beginning something new outside the artificial boundaries of the city of men, and putting His new wine into new skins. I wish He would hurry up, but lasting change and solid edification are always a protracted process, especially when dealing with slow minds.

References   [ + ]

1. Aaron Denlinger, The gospel according to Enoch: Calvin on Gen. 5.21-24.
2. Rusty Reno, from his foreword to The Glory of Kings: A Festschrift for James B. Jordan.
3. For a more detailed presentation, see Bible Matrix: An Introduction To The DNA Of The Scriptures.

Psalm 12

Here is a parsing of Psalm 12 by Chris Wooldridge, which makes the beauty of its structure apparent. Several of its Stanzas reflect the overall shape of the Psalm by placing the wicked and their boasts at the end. Most interestingly, the Maturity Stanza ‘refines’ the words by running the order backwards. 1For the skeptics, Chris saw this quite independently, and yet it is something I have also observed. See If I Could Turn Back Time.

A hyphenated-word-block indicates a single Hebrew word, with each word being | separated | by a line and double spacing on each side.

Psalm 12

To-the-chief-musician (Word)
Upon  |  Sheminith2“eighth” (an eight-stringed instrument) Hitchcock’s Dictionary of Bible Names. (Sacrament)
A-psalm | of-David (Government)



Help | Yahweh! (Sabbath – Authority)
For | ceases/ends (Passover – Leaven cut off)
The-godly-man, (Ascension – Covenant Head: Singular Seed)
For | blotted-out-are (Testing – Wilderness)
The-faithful (Maturity – Covenant Body: Much Fruit)
from-among-the-sons (High Priest and Beloved King)
of-men. (All Adams, All Nations)

Placing Yahweh in the first line highlights this as a call to His authority over all life. Notice the symmetry between the cutting off of the godly at Passover and the singled-out “sons” of the faithful at Atonement. The central Line is usually translated “vanish” or “disappear,” but it is also the word for “blotting out,” which in the Bible has legal connotations. At Conquest, there are “sons”, but the godly are not amongst them. 3It is interesting that the selection of David (“Beloved”) and Christ (the “beloved Son”) both appear at Conquest / Baptism in their respective passages. There, and here, God looks upon the heart, and circumcision of the flesh becomes meaningless.



Vanity  |  they-speak, (Transcendence)
Every-man  |  with  |  his-friend, (Hierarchy)
With-lips  |  that-are-flattering, (Ethics)
With-a-heart  |  and-a-heart (Sanctions)
Do-they-speak. (Succession)

This Stanza puts the words of Man in the place of the Word of God. At Transcendence, instead of a true revelation, we have only vanity. Instead of Division, we have all men united against God as a false Hierarchy, giving God only lip service at Ethics. Instead of the “division” of sacrificial sanctification, we have men before God as false witnesses. The heart is mentioned twice because it is a double-heartedness driving their forked tongue. Succession is about Representation of the Father. Despite their outward religion, these men represent only themselves.


Ascension (Law Given – Priest)

Shall-cut-off  |  Yahweh (Creation)
All  |  lips  |  that-are-flattering (Division)
The-tongue  |  that-speaks  |  lofty-things, (Ascension)
Who  |  have-said (Testing)
“With-our-tongue  |  shall-we-prevail, (Maturity)
Our-lips  |  are-our-own, (Conquest)
Who | is-lord  |  to-us?” (Glorification)

Here, the nature of the “lip” as a religious confession becomes clear. Instead of listening to God (a priestly act), the boasts of the wicked are “lofty,” that is, they pretend to be the Words from the mountain of God (Acts 12:22). As the “Levitical” Stanza, instead of moving (chiastically) into the Most Holy and out again, as did the High Priest, the action moves from heaven, through the lips and tongue into the human heart and out again, but what comes out defiles the Man (Matthew 15:11).

Testing (Law Opened – King)

“From-the-destruction  |  of-the-poor (Creation)
To-the-lamentation  |  of-the-needy, (Division)
Now  |  will-I-arise!” (Ascension)
Says  |  Yahweh, (Testing)
“I-will-stand (Maturity)
Him-in-victory (Conquest)
From-him-who-snorts  |  unto-him.” (Glorification)

Line 1 concerns the false authority of these men. Line 2 is the groaning response of those under their authority. But Yahweh is on the true throne. Though He sits as a King, He stands as a Priest on behalf of the oppressed and speaks as a Prophet. Notice that the Lord is now the “Head” and the oppressed are the “Body.” The puach in Line 7 is possibly an ironic ruach, that is, it is the breath of life given by God to Man “puffed” at the helpless in defiance of God. Instead of being God’s Shekinah, the false kings have given their members to the serpent and fashioned a dragon (Genesis 3:14-15). In doing so, Man kindles God’s nostrils, an expression which almost always has reference to His anger against oppressors of widows and orphans.

Maturity (Law Received – Prophet)

The-words  |  of-Yahweh (Booths)
Are-words  |  that-are-clean, (Atonement)
As-silver (Trumpets)
Tested  |  in-a-furnace (Pentecost)
On-the-land, (Firstfruits)
Refined (Passover)
Sevenfold. (Sabbath)

In the “Prophet” Stanza, the words of Yahweh are contrasted with the words of men. The pattern works backwards (as does Day 5 in Genesis 1), which may refer to the Lord’s ability to bring abundance from nothing, or reversing the process of decay as we see in Ezekiel 37. Silver usually appears at Line 5 as “Bridal plunder.” The purpose seems to be tracing God’s Words back to their pure source, the sevenfold Spirit. Putting Booths in Line 1 makes Yahweh both the true father of the helpless and also their shelter.


Conquest (Coverings)

Them,  |  Yahweh, (Transcendence)
You-shall-keep. (Hierarchy)
You-shall-guard-them (Ethics)
From  |  generation  |  this (Oath/Sanctions)
Unto-the-ages. (Succession)

This Stanza corresponds to the Day of Atonement (Coverings), where the Lord, as High Priest, or Joshua, speaks both blessing and cursing with His two-edged tongue to destroy His enemies and redeem His friends. Yahweh sets apart (sanctifies) the righteous at Hierarchy, He is the fiery cloud in the wilderness at Ethics, and at Sanctions we learn what those in His charge are being protected from: this wicked generation. Israel herself was being divided in two, those with integrity from those who were double-tongued. However, that generation is cast out, since the Succession Line makes it clear that unlike the wicked and their false oaths, the righteous have a future.


Glorification (Representation)

All-around (Transcendence – Genesis)
The-wicked  |  walk (Hierarchy – Exodus)
And-are-raised-up (Ascension – Leviticus)
The-vilest (Testing – Numbers)
Of-the-children (Maturity – Deuteronomy)
Of-Adam (Sanctions – Joshua)
(No Succession)

The final Stanza condemns the wicked. “All around” refers architecturally to the uncircumcised, although here it is Israelites behaving like pagans, those called to be priests acting like kings. They are “raised up” and enthroned at Ascension but when jealously inspected at Testing they are found to be vile or worthless. The mention of  “children” at Maturity is ironic, since these are the offspring of the serpent, the one who attempted to murder the generations promised to Adam. There is no Succession to this Stanza, because the wicked are given no Rest. Those who refuse God as their Father will see their own children cut off. The situation in Stanza 1 is now “backwards” or reversed.

Layout 1.
Since Chris is so keen and capable, we are together working on parsing the first book of Psalms (1-41) and hope to have it published early next year.

References   [ + ]

1. For the skeptics, Chris saw this quite independently, and yet it is something I have also observed. See If I Could Turn Back Time.
2. “eighth” (an eight-stringed instrument) Hitchcock’s Dictionary of Bible Names.
3. It is interesting that the selection of David (“Beloved”) and Christ (the “beloved Son”) both appear at Conquest / Baptism in their respective passages. There, and here, God looks upon the heart, and circumcision of the flesh becomes meaningless.

Cyrus the Shepherd

After the events in Daniel 6, Cyrus made his famous decree (Ezra 1) authorising the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Isaiah predicted Cyrus by name over 100 years before Cyrus’ birth. Daniel would have been familiar with the prophecy, and like the inhabitants of the province of Babylon, welcomed the end of Belshazzar’s rule. Following the patterns given to shepherds Moses (Priestly) and David (Kingly), the prophecy in Isaiah 44:24-28 presents the building of the Jew-Gentile (Prophetic) oikoumene Temple as a new microcosmic Creation:



(Creation – Ark of the Testimony)

Thus says the Lord (Ark – Sabbath)
your Redeemer, (Veil – Passover)
He who formed you (Bronze Altar – Firstfruits of Land: Genesis 3:17-19; 17:8)
from the womb: (Golden Table – Firstfruits of Womb: Genesis 3:16; 17:7)

The Lord has already referred to the Forming of Israel a number of times in this chapter. The word has the idea of fashioning something from clay. It is “earthy,” referring to the creation of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47-49). Israel was “shattered” like Egypt (Jeremiah 18) and would be remade, not from the broken pieces but from fresh earth.

The Cycle begins with a statement of Yahweh’s Transcendence. “From the womb” might have been Succession, but the Stanza only has four lines (“the Lord” cannot be placed at Hierarchy), so this seems to be only half a Stanza. Thus the womb is a reference to Israel as God’s firstborn, the Isaac, the Ascension Offering. The literary structure thus lifts Israel up from bondage (in this case Babylon, not Egypt) and places him on the Altar awaiting the holy fire as “breath” from heaven to bring him new life.


(Division – Veil – between heaven and earth)

“I am the Lord
who makes all,
that stretches forth the heavens
by myself
that spreads abroad the Land
the waters

This Stanza includes the word mayim, meaning waters, yet strangely the English translations I checked all seem to omit them. The literary structure requires their presence, referring to the division made on Day 2, but also to the command against idolatry in Exodus 20:4. You might notice that this Stanza begins with the Lord in heaven Above, moves the Land, and then to the waters “under” the Land. The final word is tricky, but “among” seems to be the most suitable meaning, since the new Israel will be a Land washed clean, rising from the waters of the other nations. Also, the heavens are placed at Ascension (Covenant Head) and the earth is placed at Maturity (Covenant Body).


(Ascension – Altar and Table – Plenipotent Man)

to make void (Creation – Ark – Genesis)
the signs (Division – Veil – Exodus)
of boasters, (Ascension – Altar – Leviticus)
and make diviners (Table)
mad, (Testing – Lampstand – Numbers)
to draw wise men (Maturity – Incense – Deuteronomy)
backward (Conquest – Mediators – Joshua)
and make their knowledge foolish, (Glorification – Rest & Rule – Judges)
The subject matter of this Stanza might not appear Levitical at first glance, but Leviticus concerns the “firstborn,” and the “firstfruits” offerings. The Levites were themselves referred to as the firstborn.

Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, for all the firstborn are mine. (Numbers 3:12-13)

Christ, as firstborn from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father and opened the mystery of God. This was prefigured in both Joseph and Daniel, who served their emperors as wise men, and ironically in Haman. That is the allusion here.

The word “annul” or “make void” in Line 1 is not the “void” of Genesis 1. This word has legal connotations instead. At Creation, it is a reference to Transcendent power, but that power is in the hand of a plenipotent mediator, such as Joseph or Daniel (see “Images of God” in Sweet Counsel for a full discussion).

The word “mad” at the center literally means “to shine.” It carries the idea of a false glory, of boasting, which ties it not only to the “shining  one” in Eden, but in Arabic it also has the connotation of moonlight, an allusion to Day 4.

“Backward” means hind parts, and possibly refers to failing to enter into rest and rule with God. Thus the word “knowledge” in Line 7 is the word used in Genesis 2:9, referring to moral knowledge, sound judgment. Thus, when Christ ascended, He became the one who sent a strong delusion to confuse, confound and divide His Judaistic enemies, just as the Lord sent troubling and lying spirits in the Old Testament.



(Testing – Lampstand – the Word)

who confirms the word (Transcendence)
of his servant (Hierarchy)
and fulfills (Ethics)
the counsel (Oath/Sanctions)
of his messengers, (Succession)

The Word is primary here. Notice the priestly “servant” at Hierarchy and the wise at Sanctions. “Messengers” is placed at Succession, which carries the idea of representation by faithful sons who image their Father. Carrying this forward, it refers to Christ’s obedience in fulfilling the Law.


(Maturity – Incense Altar – Resurrection)

who says
of Jerusalem,
‘You shall be inhabited,’
and to the cities of Judah,
‘You shall be built,
and their ruins
I will raise up’;

The theme at Maturity is resurrection, a new “bridal” Israel constructed after the death of the old Adamic body has been bloodied. The scepter of Judah at the center is the government of the Messianic King.


(Conquest – High Priest and Sacrifices – Dominion)

who says (Transcendence)
to the deep, (Hierarchy)
‘Be dry; (Ethics)
and your rivers (Oath/Sanctions)
I will dry up’; (Succession)
Historically, the “deep” is a reference to the Red Sea and the Jordan, waters through which Israel had to cross to possess the Land. Architecturally, the “deep” is a reference to the Laver, the washing of the priests and sacrifices as the “Body.” You can see the waters in this position in Stanza 2. The baptismal accounts in Acts place the baptisms at this point in their structures. Ezekiel speaks of the nations conquered by Babylon as testifying from the deep. Israel was the only nation of the old order which would rise again, although in a different, more glorious and prophetic form. Standing or walking upon the waters refers to dominion over the nations, beginning with Adam’s position over the springs in Eden, alluded to in Isaiah 11:15 concerning Israel’s return, and serving as background to Christ’s walking on the water. The basic meaning is Sanctuary access as a Covenant mediator through the power of God.



(Glorification – Shekinah – Co-regents)

who says of Cyrus, (Initiation)
‘my shepherd,’ (Delegation)
and ‘all my purpose he shall perform’; (Law Given – Priest)
saying of Jerusalem, (Law Opened – King)
She shall be built,’ (Law Received – Prophet)
and to the temple, (Vindication)
‘Your foundation shall be laid.’” (Representation)

Just as the filling of the Tabernacle occurred at the end of the book of Exodus, so the foundation of the Temple is the beginning of a new era for Israel. The placement of Cyrus as the “he,” the Head, and Jerusalem as the “she,” the body, is striking. Outside of that, we have the shepherd at Passover/Delegation and the Temple at Atonement/Vindication. And of course there is the Ethical progression at the center which is a microcosm of the entire Cycle: Priest (Forming), King (Filling) and Prophet (Future).

Orientation Day

The design of God’s House is the expression of God’s nature.

Part of the reason we have a hard time understanding the Bible is because nobody set aside an “orientation day” to show us around.

Genesis chapters 1-3 give us the basic architecture which serves as the foundation for every event in the Bible. Not only this, it constructs the specially-designed “stage” within which all of the action takes place. Becoming familiar with this “performance space” will help you to feel right at home in the Bible. Instead of wandering around like you are lost in a maze, or suffering a constant state of culture shock, you will fit right in.

Here’s a short excerpt from an upcoming book, Bible Matrix III: The House of God, which uses Shakespeare’s Globe Theater as an illustration.

All The World Is A Stage

All the world really is a stage. In Creation, God calls things from nothing. By Covenant, He gives them differing roles and suitable authority. In His House, He prepares for them a place to perform.

The events of the Bible take place within a cosmic theater, one based upon the structure of heaven. Just as the plays of Shakespeare were written for the Globe Theatre, so the visions and prophecies of the Bible take place within a predetermined architectural space. The writers assume that we are familiar not only with the layout of this arena and the significance of the elements contained within it, but also with the relationships between those elements.

This means that an understanding of the symbolic significance of the physical elements in the literal, historical creation account in Genesis 1 is of critical importance. It gives us incredible insights into the structure of many prophetic Bible passages and the order of many historical events. The layout of the House of God informs not only the Law and the Prophets, but also the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. When we get to the Revelation, familiarity with this constructed “set” and its liturgical scenery is crucial to determining both its purpose and its fulfillment in Covenant history.

The fact that all of the Bible takes place within a “virtual reality” like the Globe Theatre does not abstract the Bible from reality. Rather, its liturgical architecture gives us the keys to understanding the cosmic, anatomical and social “houses” based upon the same plan, the houses in which we live and move and have our being.

As with all the best architects, the design of God’s House is the expression of God’s nature. The physical Creation and the human life which crowns it are also expressions of that nature. Thus, every aspect of human life is founded upon the same blueprint. The significance of each room and furnishing in God’s House is replicated in some way in the Church, in family life, in education, in law, in business, in the arts and sciences, in government and in international relations. An understanding of biblical architecture means we are not limited like unbelievers to simply figuring out, by trial and error, what works best. Being “at home” in the house of God not only makes plain to us what works but also gives us an insider’s knowledge of exactly why it works. Rather than remaining a mystery to Christians, a grounding in the architectural models in the Bible reveals the dwelling places of God as deep sources of life and wisdom.

To be at home in the House of God is to be at home in God’s world. We cease to cut against the grain of the way things are. We choose to live by God’s laws because we recognize them as tools for true progress and lasting beauty.

At the heart of this recognition is a new vision. A love for God and His ways displaces the idolatrous love of the world. Enamored instead with heaven, God’s people will consistently place the best gifts in this glorious world on the altar, in faith that God may send an even greater harvest.

As the “word-and-response” liturgical life of the heavenly Temple shapes our earthly thinking, we will be equipped to transform every aspect of this world into its Trinitarian likeness, so that God may be more and more at home here in the world of men. And, as with the Tabernacle and Temple, our obedience as Spirit-filled craftsmen will be vindicated finally by the visible presence of God Himself.

Reading Biblically

Ancient writings, including the Bible, are very tightly and precisely written. Every word has its place.

An excerpt from James B. Jordan’s influential book, Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World.

Modern literature is not written the same way as ancient literature, and this presents a problem for Bible students. George Mendenhall has written,

Ancient thought is associational, not “scientific,” and therefore tends to create the maximum of relationships between experience, language, and art, not the minimum which is so characteristic of modern over-specialization. 1George E. Mendenhall, The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical Tradition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1973), p. 39.

Before the modern era, and before Gutenberg, there were few books. The few men who wrote books wrote them very carefully. As a result, ancient writings, including the Bible, are very tightly and precisely written. Every word has its place.

This fact is generally ignored by “liberal” scholarship, which usually assumes that any part of the Bible is a sloppy conflation of several sources. This viewpoint grew up to explain apparent contradictions and paradoxes in the text. 2The recent trend in “liberal” scholarship is to grant a bit more intelligence to the “final redactor.” Of course, Divine authorship continues to be denied. A proper reading of any ancient text, including the Bible, would take the apparent contradictions as stimuli for deeper reflection. For example, in 1 Samuel 14:18, the High Priest’s ephod is called the Ark of the Covenant. According to 1 Samuel 7:2, however, the Ark could not have been present on this occasion. Liberal commentators assume that we have here two sources, and whoever put 1 Samuel together was so stupid that he did not even bother to make his book internally consistent. Other commentators (conservatives) explain the “error” in 14:18 by saying that there has been a textual corruption in transmission, and “Ark” should be changed to “ephod.” Deeper reflection, however, shows that the Ark and ephod correspond one to another, and there are important theological reasons why the ephod is here called the Ark. The Ark was present with the people in the form of the ephod. 3For a full discussion, see Jordan, “Saul: A Study in Original Sin,” The Geneva Papers 2:11 (July, 1988; Tyler, Texas: Geneva Ministries).

Ancient and medieval literature abounds in numerical symbolism, large parallel structures, intricate chiastic devices, astral allusions, sweeping metaphors, topological parallels, and symbolism in general. Modern literature, whether fiction or non-fiction, is almost always written in a straight line. You don’t have to go back and forth in such books to unpack allusions or get “hidden” messages. In other words, you don’t have to study such books in a literary fashion. You just read them and get the message. Ancient and medieval literature, however, must be studied.

Modern American Christians have trouble understanding the Bible for other reasons as well. Not only are we unaccustomed to reading ancient literature, we are also unfamiliar with visual symbolism. The symbols of the Scripture are foreign to us in a way that they were not foreign to previous generations. When the Psalms were at the center of the Church’s worship, Biblical symbolism was much better understood because the Psalter abounds in it. As Campbell has written, “The key to the figurative and symbolic language of Holy Writ is the Book of Psalms,” 4Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, [1954] 1983), p. 60. Also see Othmar Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Book of Psalms, trans. Timothy J. Hallett (New York: Seabury Press, 1978). Also, the traditional liturgies of the Church, being thoroughly grounded in Scripture, communicated Biblical symbolism. God’s people were also familiar with such imagery from the architecture and decor of their churches. All this has disappeared from the modern American church, and the result is that it is much harder for us to read the Bible accurately.

Happily, this situation is rapidly changing. We are seeing a rebirth of careful exegesis, a new appreciation for the Biblical philosophy of metaphor and typology, a new recognition of Biblical symbolism, a new desire to take the literary structures of the Bible seriously.

It is, of course, possible to jump enthusiastically into the Bible and find all kinds of symbols and allusions that sober study would discount. We moderns lack the kinds of instincts needed to be able to pick up on such things without effort. We have to read and study the Bible, immersing ourselves in its worldview, and then we will be able to discern valid symbols and allusions. Even so, it is doubtful if any twentieth-century expositor can do a perfect job of this; there will always be room for debate and discussion over particular passages. We can, though, set out some canons, or rules, for proper Biblical interpretation.

References   [ + ]

1. George E. Mendenhall, The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical Tradition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1973), p. 39.
2. The recent trend in “liberal” scholarship is to grant a bit more intelligence to the “final redactor.” Of course, Divine authorship continues to be denied.
3. For a full discussion, see Jordan, “Saul: A Study in Original Sin,” The Geneva Papers 2:11 (July, 1988; Tyler, Texas: Geneva Ministries).
4. Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, [1954] 1983), p. 60. Also see Othmar Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Book of Psalms, trans. Timothy J. Hallett (New York: Seabury Press, 1978). Also, the traditional liturgies of the Church, being thoroughly grounded in Scripture, communicated Biblical symbolism.

The Most Embarrassing Verse in the Bible

The New Testament, taken at face value, really does seem to be talking about coming events which were not only momentous but also imminent.

Have you ever had the experience where the text of the Bible seems to create a difficulty and your pastor’s (or favorite theologian’s) explanation doesn’t really cut the mustard? C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia chronicles and many other books, was at least honest about something which most Christians are happy to gloss over. He writes:

The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, “this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.” And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else. This is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. From C. S. Lewis, “The World’s Last Night” (1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis.

Is Lewis correct in this observation? The New Testament, taken at face value, really does seem to be talking about coming events which were not only momentous but also imminent. If Jesus and those who followed Him were wrong, then Christianity is a load of rubbish. This was the conclusion of atheist Bertrand Russell, who, although he granted that many of the teachings of Christ were excellent, pointed out that there were also some apparent defects:

For one thing, he certainly thought that His second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at that time. There are a great many texts that prove that. He says, for instance, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come.” Then he says, “There are some standing here which shall not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom”; and there are a lot of places where it is quite clear that He believed that His second coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That was the belief of His earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of His moral teaching. From “Why I Am Not A Christian,” a lecture delivered in 1927 to the National Secular Society in London, found in Why I Am Not A Christian And Other Essays, 1957.

Of course, I don’t believe this to be the case, but what most Christians don’t realize is that the entire New Testament sits squarely on a structural foundation laid down in the books of Moses. If we truly understand Moses, we will understand not only the New Testament’s purpose, but also the answer to this important question. What was the imminent event? The destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in AD70, an event which brought an end to the Old Covenant. The history from the ministry of Christ, through His ascension and Pentecost, through the ministry of the Apostles to the Jewish War follows a path well-trodden throughout previous Bible history. When you familiar with this pattern, suddenly many of the odd things Jesus says fall right into place.

You can either spend decades doing research, as I have done, or you can get a big handle on the structure of the Bible by reading my book, Bible Matrix: An Introduction to the DNA of the Scriptures. It is available from amazon, or you can register and read it in the Online Library. You can read the foreword by Dr Peter Leithart here.

Perhaps surprisingly, learning to read the New Testament in its first century context makes it more relevant and powerful, not less. And you will have a gob stopping answer for the likes of Bertrand Russell.

The Conclusions of Mark

Is there anything inherent in the text which might indicate the authenticity of the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel? [level-stranger](Register here to read the rest of this article.)[/level-stranger] [not-level-stranger]

Discussing William A. Johnson’s Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire, Ben Witherington writes:

Bookrolls were generally the product of scribes, not of private persons. “Making a bookroll involved no more than taking a premanufactured papyrus roll, writing out the text, attaching additional fresh rolls as the length of the text required, and when finished, cutting off the blank remainder.” (p. 18). Or not. It is entirely possible that what happened with Mark’s Gospel is that the original ending of only a few verses about seeing the risen Jesus after Mk. 16.8 was lost, since the outermost edge of the end of the text was left exposed to the elements (no they didn’t heed the exhortation— be kind and rewind, that we used to hear during the videotape era), so more papyrus was added to the end, and the result was the production of no less than three alternative endings, including the so called long ending of Mk. 16.9ff. (of course here in Kentucky it can only be seen as bad news that Mk. 16.9ff is not an original part of Mark’s Gospel since it provides the only possible endorsement of snake handling and poision drinking as tests of faith). 1Ben Witherington, Ancient Readers and Manuscripts— William A. Johnson’s Take.

“Smooth narrative” is one of the arguments against the inclusion of any of the various endings for the Gospel of Mark, which suddenly picks up speed after the resurrection. Yet the Bible is not known for its smooth narrative. When dealing with Holy Week, the Gospels slow right down to give us all the details.

Since we are dealing with literary structure, is there anything inherent in the text which might indicate the authenticity of the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel?

Mark follows a convention found throughout all the Bible’s texts, based upon the Creation Week and the Levitical Feasts (Leviticus 23). The Gospel has a number of “Covenant-shaped” Cycles, and the entire book is itself “Covenant-shaped.” This final Cycle is left incomplete if the Gospel ends at 16:8:

Creation: Day 1 / Sabbath / Genesis: The women intend to anoint Christ’s body on the first day of the week.
(The Spirit/dove hovers over the waters)
Division: Day 2 / Passover / Exodus: The women enter the open tomb.
(The bloodied/sealed door opened / Passage through the abyss / the Veil torn)
Ascension: Day 3 / Firstfruits / Leviticus: An angel tells the women that Christ, the firstfruits, has risen, and gives the women a commission to go and tell the disciples.
(The structure of Leviticus takes us from outside the Tabernacle into the Most Holy Place and out again, sin having been atoned for. The angels seated at each ends of the slab correspond to those on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant)
Testing: Day 4 / Pentecost / Numbers: Mary and Jesus appear to the disciples but many do not believe.
(Mary’s seven demons are mentioned because they are negative counterparts of the seven spirits before God’s throne, pictured in the sun, moon and five visible planets of Day 4, and also the seven lamps of the Lampstand, tongues of fire. This is the repeated biblical architecture)
Maturity: Day 5 / Trumpets / Deuteronomy: Jesus appears to all the disciples and rebukes them.
(The Law “repeated” concerning His resurrection – fragrant Incense Altar)
Conquest: Day 6 / Atonement / Joshua: Jesus gives the Great Commission, beginning with the healing of Israel (“by His stripes”).
(The two goats of Atonement here are those who believe and those who reject the gospel.)
Glorification: Day 7 / Tabernacles / Judges: Jesus sits as a righteous judge at the Father’s right hand (as Covenant Head) and the disciples go and preach the gospel in His power (as Covenant Body).
(This is the “corporate fulfilment” of what was intended on Day 7 of history, and also of the “Judges” period in Israel’s history.)

It is certainly possible that the Cycle ends at Ascension, just to make a point. The Bible authors do this in numerous places, but it is to point out the failure of those who exalt themselves, and that is not the case here at all. The subject is the first man who humbled Himself perfectly and was exalted by God. So the first question is, would a well-meaning scribe have been inspired to complete the Gospel with a postscript which accurately follows the matrix structure? I doubt it. And the second question is, does this “clockwork” internal textual evidence outweigh the shabby history of the manuscripts? I believe so.

References   [ + ]

Psalm 3

Christopher Wooldridge has parsed Psalm 3 (according to the Bible’s Covenant matrix) and has demonstrated that he now has this peculiar but glorious literary art under his belt. He has today been awarded the rank of Grand Master. We have added hyphenations (Chris’ suggestion) and vertical bars to indicate single Hebrew words, a method of expressing the rhythm of the original language. Chris provided some helpful notes and I have added a few more.


“A-Psalm (Transcendence)
of-David (Hierarchy)
when-he-fled (Ethics)
from Absalom (Oath/Sanctions)
his-son” (Succession)

Even the title follows the Covenant pattern. It puts David under the sword at Hierarchy and makes Absalom (whose name ironically means “father of peace”) the sword-bearer at Sanctions. David is the exile in the wilderness at the center of the structure. The title prefigures the structure of the actual Psalm.


Yahweh, (Sabbath)
How  |  are-they-increased  |  that-trouble-me! (Passover)
Many-are  |  they-who-rise-up (Firstfruits)
Against-me. (Pentecost)
Many-are  |  them-that-say  |  of-my-life: (Trumpets)
“There-is-not  |  help  |  unto  |  him-in-God.” (Atonement)
Selah. (Booths)

Note the “rising up” at Ascension and the “many” bearing false witness at Trumpets. At Atonement (Oath/Sanctions), that false curse is expressed. There is no Succession. There is no rest for the wicked who rise up against the righteous. But here it is the righteous one who is cursed. Selah indicates the end of the legal testimony, which is in this case a miscarriage of justice.


But-You,  |  Yahweh, (Sabbath)
Are-a-shield  |  for-me, (Passover)
My-glory  |  and-the-lifter-up | Of-my-head. (Firstfruits)
With-my-voice, (Pentecost)
unto  |  Yahweh  |  I-cried (Trumpets)
And-He heard-me (Atonement)
From-the-mountain,  |  Out-of-his-holy.  |  Selah. (Booths)

Just as the blood covered the doorposts at the first Passover, here the Lord shields the righteous. This time Ascension concerns the victim, although unlike the wicked he is lifted up by God rather than exalting himself. And it is now the voice of the victim, as Abel, crying out as a legal witness at Maturity/Trumpets. Notice that “[You] are a shield for me” reflects an objective covering (the Covenant head) and matching it chiastically is “And He heard me” as the reception of the subjective response, the “Oath” of the faithful (the Covenant body). This time, the legal testimony begins the vindication of the faithful saint.

Stanza 3: ETHICS

I Laid-down (Sabbath – Ark)
And-slept. (Passover – Veil)
I-awoke, (Firstfruits – Altar)
For Yahweh  |  sustained-me. (Firstfruits – Table)
Do-not be-afraid (Pentecost – Lampstand)
Of-tens  |  of-people, (Trumpets – Incense)
That  |  me-around (Atonement – High Priest & Sacrifices)
have-set against. (Booths – Shekinah)

Here is David in the wilderness, sustained by heavenly bread. The Tabernacle furniture “thread” shows through a little in this Stanza. “Awoke” corresponds to the altar, where the Israelite renewed Covenant with God. “Sustained” alludes to David and his men eating the Showbread. “Do not be afraid” refers to the saint refusing to fear men, trembling at the Law of God instead, and finding it to be a light to his path. Ten is a common number at Trumpets, where Israel’s troops mustered ten days before Atonement. Here, those troops are set against their true king. At Atonement, David is the Man-to-be-bloodied, a priest-king, a Tabernacle to be torn apart at the center of Israel’s tents (Booths).


Arise, Yahweh!  (Sabbath)
Save-me, my-God.  (Passover)
For You-have-struck (Firstfruits: Priesthood)
All  |  my-enemies (Pentecost: Kingdom)
On-the-jaw. (Trumpets: Prophecy)
The-teeth  |  of-the-ungodly (Atonement)
You-have-shattered.  (Booths)

At Oath/Sanctions, Yahweh comes to judge David’s enemies. Since they are Israelites, they are Covenant-breakers. They have broken their Oath, so he uses shabar, the word which describes the breaking of the tablets at Mount Sinai after Israel’s sin with the golden calf. Since they have broken their Oath, God will strike them in the mouth. At Booths, the righteous are gathered and the wicked are scattered among the nations. Since, architecturally-speaking, the human head pictures the heavenly throne of God, teeth are the wise elders who offer counsel in the heavenly court. In this image, the rottenness of their false witness is shattered, just as the Lord shattered the Egyptians, and the true king is vindicated before God.


Yahweh (Transcendence)
Has-salvation. (Hierarchy)
Upon Your-people (Ethics)
Is-your-blessing. (Oath/Sanctions)
Selah. (Succession)

The final Stanza presents the true Israel, those who are “Jews indeed,” expressed through the placement of the faithful at the center, fulfilling the Law under God’s watching eyes. Selah indicates the end of the complete process, the vindication of the suffering saint, the Beloved One in whom God is well pleased. Notice that salvation is located in the “head” of the passage, and blessing upon the “body.” Within Israel, this was the priestly king and his people. Beyond Israel, this is the blessing of the heavenly king upon those with circumcised hearts from all nations.