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An Overview of Jonah as Prototypical Primer for Catacomb Church and Homeschool Study

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Jonah in distress in the 8th century B. C.  He was a prototype of coming distress for the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Samaria.  Is there a contemporary historical analogy and application?

 

     I am most honored to be with you today as an invited guest on this Sunday afternoon.  Let me say at the outset that it has been a long time since I’ve been in front of a group of evangelicals in a home or classroom setting to provide an overview of a Biblical book or a topic of history or systematic theology.  Years ago when a most improbable set of circumstances brought me to the now defunct Texas Bible College in the Alamo City to teach Biblical courses, apologetics, church history, and communications for several years, I had the pedagogical experience of my life in front of a group of young people who saw learning the material as an exciting journey and odyssey of a lifetime.

     What I remember most is what Lutheran pastor and theologian Helmut Thielicke once referred to as “intense listening.” I covered the context of Pastor Thielicke’s phrase in a presentation I delivered to a Lutheran gathering in the Middle West 4 years ago.  In a nutshell, Dr. C. George Fry chronicles that context in his article on Thielicke in the Handbook of Evangelical Theologians (Baker, 1993) on pages 219-233.  Dr. Fry explains how and why this great man was in academic and professional exile in the early days of World War II, how he came out of exile under circumstances that can only be explained as the work of God in history, and how through his teaching skills and personal acquaintance with the Gospel, the Stuttgart Cathedral lectures to the beleaguered German people transpired even as Allied air raids drew ever nearer to them.  Fry noted that:

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Helmut Thielicke: Preaching the Gospel near Midnight in the Stuttgart Cathedral during the apocalyptic Allied Air Raids.  He experienced “intense listening” never seen again.

     “As he lectured [in Stuttgart Cathedral] on its five principle parts [Small Catechism of Luther]–the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper–‘evening after evening some three thousand persons gathered together; workers and businessmen, students and professors, soldiers and generals, Nazi functionaries (naturally in civilian clothes!) and Jews, Dutch compulsory laborers . . . and sometimes whole classes from the schools.  It was an overwhelming time for me.  Never since have I experienced such intense listening.’      Soon the massive air raids began.  When the streetcars could no longer run, people ‘came on foot, often from many miles away, through the fields of ruins and rubble’ even on dark and frightening winter evenings.  But then the [Stuttgart] cathedral was destroyed.  Thielicke wrote, ‘I can still see the towering torch of this venerable house of God.  . . . I stood there holding in my hand a key to a door that no longer existed.’

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The original Stuttgart Cathedral is located in Stuttgart-Bad-Canstatt. Its history goes back all the way to 1470. After massive destruction during the Second World War, the church was rebuilt in 1954/55.

     The lesson is this:  When there is great opportunity for evangelical believers to gather together around a meaningful study of the Word of God, that is an opportunity to be seized at the moment in time it is offered.  Just as the Stuttgart Cathedral was torched in a single evening of air raids, so it was that Texas Bible College closed under less dramatic circumstances after a handful of semesters of teaching for me there.  Thielicke noted later in his life that those times of “intense listening” would never come again.  I never experienced it again either, although I sense in our group this afternoon that the Lord has many mutual blessings for us in the handful of occasions when I will be your guest in this house to share my thoughts and materials with you.  And please keep in mind that just as there was a sense of great apocalyptic and eschatological expectation among the German people who flocked to the Thielicke lectures in Stuttgart Cathedral, there is a strong scent of apocalyptic and eschatological expectation in history among those of us in the Remnant Church most desirous of spending more time in the Word of God and in fervent intercessory prayer.  I addressed this very thing in the last public theological presentation made to anyone in 2017 in “The Church of Smyrna Speaks to the Confessing Church of Christ in this Darkening Hour.”  Later in the year, I would be given 5 minutes to speak at a Lutheran convention in a foreign country with reference to this article.  In addition to the shortness of time allotted, the convention folks were preoccupied with choosing a new president and adopting a new organizational structure.  John on Patmos and the application of the Apocalypse to the present historical situation of the Remnant Church in the Western World and elsewhere wasn’t apparently on their agenda for the week.  I know it is on yours or I would not have been asked to come here.  The point is this:  You know the hour.  You want your loved ones to have the best grasp of Scripture possible as persecutions and circumstances worsen.  And I’d rather be with 7 folks here in this house on a Sunday afternoon than all the denominational meetings and conventions extant.  Put slightly differently, I tend to hate those gatherings.  Enough said.

     My second introductory point pertains to the political realm in the world, our need to be presently informed and watchful observers of the events within it in this country and abroad, and to take note of Paul’s warnings in Ephesians 6 about the demonic realm’s influence and operations within world governments.  Why?  Because: 1) The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and both the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostolic Writers underscore the importance of discernment in battling demonic deception in world history at every point on the linear time line which runs from the Fall to the Second Advent of the Lord.  2) No Biblical writing can be properly studied and even partially understood without constant reference to the historical context and events that enshrouded the particular author, including Jonah. And what Biblical principles at these various stages of redemptive history properly inform the Remnant Church now as to what God is accomplishing at present through individuals, collective entities, world leaders and empires, and technological advancements making global surveillance systems, economic manipulations, media misinformation, and military weapons of mass destruction and mass murder ever greater threats to the survivability of the planet? Does not the age of the Tower of Babel in Genesis, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel, and Nero and Domitian of the Ancient Roman Empire as chronicled by the Apostle John on Patmos in Revelation, provide us with prototypical clues regarding the New World Order and the impending unveiling of Antichrist?   And to reiterate, 3) the Lord in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21) mentions the concept of deception more than that of any other idea in his chronicling of the run-up to the end of history and His return.  The principle and the lesson is this: Assiduous study of the Word of God, acquiring proper tools in doing so, developing solid principles for applying the Old and New Testament to legitimate contemporary applications, including discerning the larger meaning of present and future events in history, are within your grasp and mine as we work within our mutual limitations as best we can, and ask the Holy Spirit of God to reveal what He desires that we truly hear, see, and take to heart in the times in which we live.  Only these things can and will enable us to penetrate falsehoods and deceptions in these end times and to recognize false prophets and wolves when they insiduously infiltrate and attack.  Rest assured that they are, and that they shall. And as we shall see shortly, interpretation and understanding of the context of the story of Jonah is inextricably linked with the political developments of his time as they pertained both to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the nation of Assyria.

     In closing this second point of introduction, let me note what many of you already know from things you have read or heard about me.  I have been intensely involved in the political realm for many years, for reasons directly related to what I believe about eschatology, and what I believe are the particular forces Satan has been working through in both the United States specifically and the West generally to destroy Christian societies, civilizations, and churches, especially since the earliest portion of the 20th Century onward.  My last post in this arena was this past January.  I do not know if there will be any more, or any additional TV or radio commentary.  My mission in all of this may already be past. It is my hope that people in the future who come across my work since 2001 will understand the context of why I embarked upon this journey in the critical years in question, and what I was trying to accomplish as one of a relative handful of voices exiled in the desert in wintertime.  Time tells.

     Beginning today, I hope to equip you with a basic structural methodology for studying any Biblical book.  The book you have selected as a test case example is Jonah.

     Before beginning our quest to examine the Book of Jonah more closely, let me say several things about tools for studying Scripture and consulting the best sources available to you or me.  The first is the Annotated Bibliography.  I emphasize Annotated because this term underscores that one is not simply provided with a list of books on a particular subject or discipline, but helpful comments and guidance on the strength and weaknesses of a particular book, the ideological background of the author(s), and the particular tradition or school of thought out of which said author(s) comes.  As but one example, is the author an evangelical/orthodox scholar theologically, as we understand that term shall be used in this class, or does he/she come from the realm of Higher Criticism and Historical Criticism which provide a brand of scholarship with far different presuppositions and conclusions than any of us would accept as viable?  Among evangelicals, what is a Dispensational Premillennialist?  An Amillennialist? What is the context of the Calvinistic-Arminian controversy over free will and election?  What is the difference between a Lutheran and a Zwinglian in interpretation of major Biblical passages pertaining to the Lord’s Supper?  What are the different schools of interpretation that have existed in history to explain the Prophecy of 70 Weeks in Daniel, chapter 9?

     These are just a few of the important ideas to have an acquaintance with in any evaluation of what we read in any commentary on these subjects at hand.  Hint:  All of us come to the Biblical narrative with a background and historical framework, whether we are conscious of this or not, or frank enough to acknowledge the obvious. Just in brief Internet search I found an interesting list with comments here. Check out another possibility for Jonah research here.  The evangelical Denver Seminary has a list of Old Testament commentary recommendations here.  And the famous evangelical Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, an offshoot of Princeton historically, has a variety of tools available to any of us.  I introduce two suggestions at this point with Annotated Bibliographies:  1) Those prepared by known evangelical schools and sources are likely to be best for our use.  2) Having said that, please do not cheat yourself of the insights and contributions to be made in understanding a subject often contributed by scholars we do not agree with in key areas.  Example:  The great Lutheran scholar and historian, Jaroslav Pelikan (later Eastern Orthodox), had a view of the Scriptures heavily influenced by historical criticism and at odds with that of more orthodox, evangelical Lutherans.  Having said that, if one engages in the study of historical theology, it is impossible not to avail oneself of his brilliant mind and research as exhibited in his 5 volume set on Church History, entitled The Christian Tradition:  The History of the Development of Doctrine.  I have this set, and am presently reading Volume 2 on my own, to learn more about Eastern Orthodoxy.  Do you know what I was exposed to on this subject in an evangelical seminary?  Absolutely nothing is the correct answer.  The lesson is this:  Protestant evangelicals are heavyweights in exegesis of the Word of God.  They tend to be extremely weak as historians in the area of the development of doctrine.  Take the predominant eschatological position of evangelicals on the final events of world history, especially as they pertain to the modern State of Israel vis a vis the Israel of God.  How many know the beginning of the rudimentary elements of this position first emerge in the writings of a Jesuit priest in the 16th century, subsequently to be systematized by John Nelson Darby and popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible in the 19th century?  One evangelical source for examining this subject and providing a fair treatment to both sides of this debate may be accessed here.  The Annotated Bibliography for this single key subject alone is enough to fill a few libraries in and of itself. Enough said.

     Where tools are concerned, the multi-volume Zondervan Charts are critically valuable.  I have been collecting them for years.

     And finally, if one desires to learn enough Greek and Hebrew through a reputable online course, the best tools for subsequent word studies and research include the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Harris, Archer, Waltke), the updated version of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Moises Silva, ed.), and the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols, Kittel/Friedrich).  The classic Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, the accompanying Index to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, the infamous Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich or “BAG”) and An Index to the Revised Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek Lexicon (John R. Alsop, Zondervan) round out some of the basics for those who want to dabble in these scholarly arenas. We do not have to be world-famous scholars to use these.  Over time, I can easily show you how.  By the way, the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich (“BAG”) edition is a first edition.  Later, there was a second edition in 1979 that involved my late Lutheran colleague William Danker, hence the later acronym BAGD.  And to make matters even more ridiculous for you, when a 3rd edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature was subsequently issued in 2000, the acronym for the 4 scholars was rearranged for reasons beyond me. This 3rd edition is referred to by insiders as BDAG (Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich).  Go figure.  As for me, I still have the 2nd edition known as BAGD.  This is for reasons of nostalgia that go back almost 37 years. The legendary Dr. Douglas Moo (follow your Annotated Bibliographies for the New Testament) was the one who beat me to death in summer Greek Exegesis courses in 1981 after I barely passed the crash course of 2 years of college Greek in 2 previous semesters at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to qualify for Moo.  He found it humorous when I slipped him a note to suggest early termination of a class that academically overwhelming summer of 1981 to get to a Cubs game in Wrigley Field that particular afternoon.  The note read:  “Dr. Moo.  May we BAG this for the Cubs’ game today?  Dankof. (BAGD from that time on wasn’t for Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker but for BAG [this]D[Signed, Dankof].” His response:  “Funny, but I have BAGGED your suggestion. Dr. M.

     If you would like to explore the possibilities for yourself or your kids in learning enough New Testament Greek for the use of some of these tools in word studies, my written transcript of today’s conversation will contain a link here.  Again, this may never be your desire, but I always chronicle these things in order that someone will have a resource to consult months, years, or decades later.  I still use my notes, my course syllabi, references on note cards to something discovered in a particular resource, flash cards, and updated Annotated Bibliographies as needed, to get to the bottom of something in my personal studies.  Two classic examples involve a single piece of paper where my late friend, Pastor John Eppler, tutored me for a week in the Hebrew alphabet and its phonetic sounds, to enable me to pass summer months of constant Hebrew immersion with Dr. Samir Massouh at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the summer of 1982.  Sadly, we lost Pastor Eppler in late 2004.  After John got me through the alphabet and Hebrew immersion with Dr. Massouh, I would enjoy OT 711, or “Poetry and Post-Exilic History” with the latter that fall.  Sadly, Samir Massouh now struggles with esophageal cancer and chemotherapy at the St. Francis Hospital in Kenosha, Wisconsin, north of Chicago. How I miss these men.

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The late Pastor John Eppler’s handwriting instructs me in the Hebrew alphabet and phonetic pronunciation on a piece of notebook paper in the summer of 1982.

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Dates of OT significance to memorize in the Fall of 1982.

     One nostalgic story about Samir Massouh is in order.  In my last Hebrew course in the summer of 1982, the final exam contained a lengthy translation.  I “Aced” that portion of the exam.  Several days later, he asked me to come to his office.  He seemed troubled.  I knew what was bothering him.  He noted my never-before-noted-and-sudden brilliance on that portion of the exam.  He also ventured that he believed me to be 1) an honorable person and 2) an improving but still mediocre Hebrew student at the graduate level.  With those hypotheses ruminating in his mind, he asked if I had an explanation for my sudden foray into Hebrew exegetical skills matching his own, or Gleason Archer’s.

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The Crucifix and the Sacramental Altar of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Wahiawa.  Every Wednesday morning, The Venite was sung by the children in the Matins Service (Psalm 95).

     My answer was truthful and explanatory:  “The answer is the Venite which I sang every Wednesday morning in 3 years of grade school at Trinity Lutheran School in Wahiawa, Hawaii in the 1960s during the Chapel Matins Service.  It’s contained in the Matins Service on page 32 in The Lutheran HymnalThe Venite is Psalm 95 used as a canticle in the Western liturgy, usually for Matins.” (Massouh’s test translation for the last Hebrew exam of the summer of 1981 was Psalm 95. Virtually none of the pan-Protestant evangelical students taking that exam knew anything about historic liturgy, especially in the Evangelical Free Church of America, the Bible Church tradition, the Conservative Baptist denomination, et. al.  But the singular Lutheran with a childhood background in Western Liturgical Worship knew it by heart.)

     Samir Massouh’s countenance reflected a combination of humor and relief.  He said, “So this explains why you were humming while you were writing.”  My response:  “Exactly.  After two lines, I recognized the entire pericope.  But I could best bring everything back to total recall by humming the melody of the liturgical setting for Psalm 95 used then for Matins.  It went much faster than trying to recite it without the music.

     I asked him if I would still receive my A.  He said with a smile and beaming eyes, “Yes. and get out of here.”  My response as I was opening the door to leave was “See you for Post Exilic History this fall.”

     There is a postscript to this story.  In the following spring of 1983, Trinity Journal (TRINJ 04:1/Spring 1983, page 84) came out with an article by Dr. Massouh. It was entitled, “Exegetical Notes Psalm 95,” and began with introductory comments on worship:

     “Recent publications have reflected a renewed evangelical interest in the nature and manner of worship. Some have advocated incorporating charismatic enthusiasm while others have promoted the use of more liturgy. It is in the light of such revived interest that this study of Ps 95 is given, in order to establish some biblical principles about the nature and manner of worship.”

     I ran into him on campus shortly after the article was released.  I observed wryly, “You’re the first Trinity professor who ever plagiarized any of my stuff.” He got the humor.

     Lesson:  Never forget the most special people God has ever placed, or will place, in your life.  Think about the principles of instruction provided.  I will say it again.  I will never forget those men, and those times.  And if the truth be known, one of the great mistakes in my life was not staying there for a much longer period of trial and hardship to develop the skills and the calling I did not realize were emerging until many years later. I have one thesis to finish and one more language exam to finance and sustain in preparing for whatever remains of my life in the time left. Only God knows how this will be possible or where in this present world it leads, but He assures us he is in the Impossibility business (Luke 1:37).

     Now we move on to a brief roadmap of introductory structure and notes for the Book of Jonah, which as indicated earlier is in prototypical form and concept what I do in the study of any Biblical book.  (Aside:  If you’re counting, my Word Processor informs me that you and I have now covered not quite 3500 words.  Again, the electronic version of this conversation will enable you to get to the Links to some of the resources discussed here in the living room of this house.)

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When God calls us to go to a destination 550 miles away, His purposes through us will still be accomplished if we run 2500 miles in the other direction. [Book of Jonah]

A Roadmap of Structures and Concepts for Studying a Biblical Book:  Test Case is Jonah.

Place of the Book in the Canon and in the Redemptive History Timeline: For your Prototypical Analysis, think Patriarchs and Israelites/United Monarchy/Divided Monarchy/Babylonian Captivity/Intertestamental PeriodJonahDivided Monarchy.  Northern Kingdom of Israel. Minor Prophet.  

Title:  Named after its principal character. Jonah means “dove.” Compare with Hosea 7:11; Psalm 68:13 and 74:19.

Date: 800-750 B. C. for the prophetic ministry of Jonah.  Authorship of the book prior to the destruction of Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B. C. Hint:  Compare evangelical commentaries with those of higher critical/liberal persuasion on this issue.  The date of the revival in Nineveh recorded in Chapter 3 is believed to coincide with the reign of Ashurdan III (773-755 B. C.). Interesting speculation:  Did two plagues in Assyria (765 and 759 B. C.) and a solar eclipse in 763 B. C. prepare the people for Jonah’s message of repentance or judgment?

Author:  The book does not identify its author.  Tradition assigns it to the prophet himself. (Consult both evangelical and non-evangelical commentaries and sources for the debates on this which ensue.  One recommendation:  see Gleason Archer’s section on Jonah in his Introduction to the Old Testament [Moody Press] if you can locate this volume.  It is especially valuable for providing responsible academic representation of evangelical arguments for the reliability and accuracy of the Biblical narratives as it rebuts the most enduring objections of Higher Criticism and Historical Criticism. I can provide excerpts of these if needed. Archer discusses authorship issues in his comments on Jonah.  Don’t dismiss these arguments as personally irrelevant.  You or your kids may well need a handle on some of this to provide rebuttal to the unbelieving cynics some of you will encounter in circles of American “higher education.”  Enough said. Hint:  The arguments you will encounter revolve around higher Biblical critics who claim that Jonah was authored the 5th and 3rd centuries B. C., as a historical fiction espousing universalistic views to counter the “narrow nationalism” of Ezra and Nehemiah.

     Jonah is identified as the son of Amittai (1:1) from Gath Hepher (2 Kings 14:25) in Zebulun (Joshua 19: 10,13). 2 Kings 14:25 references him as a prophet in the reign of Jeroboam II of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Here, we read that under Jeroboam II, the borders of Israel were expanded according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher (3 miles north of Nazareth in lower Galilee).”  Keys:  the reign of Jeroboam II, Jonah as prophet of the Northern Kingdom, Jonah as a Galilean. Hints:  See John 7:52 for a good case of Pharisaical error.

Historical Background:  Know your Kings of Judah (south) and Israel (north) after the end of the United Monarchy!  There were 20 Kings of Judah8 were good. 12 were bad. As for the Northern Kingdom of Israel, all 19 of their Kings from the end of the United Monarchy to the onset of final destruction of the Kingdom and Samaria in 722 B. C. at the hands of the Assyrians were bad. See here.  [There are all kinds of historical gems and discerning contemporary application of these gems of instruction.  One could look at the last 5 kings of Judah, beginning with Josiah (good) and 4 terrible successors leading to the Exile.  Possible application:  Think about the succession of American leaders in recent times, the state of the American Empire, and what many American Protestants have embraced as the doctrine of American Exceptionalism.  Is that ideology Biblical? How does it square with the reasons for the rise and fall of Empires Biblically? Is this idea a foundational basis for present day susceptibility to deception? End of point.  . . . as for Jonah, zero in on Jeroboam II (782-753 B. C./co-regency/41 years in the electronic source, Archer says 793-753 B. C. in his Introduction).  Consult the historical background section of the Commentaries you select out of our list.

     The reign of Jeroboam II is pivotal to the context of both Jonah and Amos.  What are the key points to underscore in understanding the historical backdrop of these prophets and their respective proclamations?

     1.  The key nations (3) in the historical backdrop are the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Damascus (center of Aramean power), and Assyria.

     2.  Circa 797 B. C., Elisha spoke to the King of Israel about future victories over Damascus (2 Kings 13: 14-19).

     3.  The Assyrian military campaign against Damascus in 797 B. C. enables the King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Jehoash (798-782 B. C.), to recover territories previously lost to the King of Damascus (2 Kings 13:25).

     4.  Jonah prophesies the restoration of the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam II predicted by Elisha (2 Kings 24:25). Internal troubles in Assyria enable Jeroboam II to complete the restoration of Israel’s northern borders.

     5.  The Northern Kingdom of Israel subsequently falls into a period of nationalistic arrogance, complacency, and spiritual decadence after the restoration under Jeroboam II.  The prophetic implications are covered by Amos and Hosea.  Amos prophesies an exile beyond Damascus (Amos 5:27).  He will proclaim that God’s patience with the Northern Kingdom is at an end (Amos 7:8; 8:2). Hosea indicates that the tool of God’s judgment will be a politically and militarily revived Assyria (Hosea 9:3; 10:6; 11:5).  It is in this context that God sends Jonah to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to warn it of the imminency of its own eventual judgment.  Hint:  To contextualize why Jonah attempted to run from God’s command and flee to Tarshish, run a Search Engine probe for “Assyrian Empire Cruelty.”  This will bring up many fascinating articles, including one I just discovered for you at Realm of History.  Or try this article from the Biblical Archeology Society (Jan/Feb 1991) which is in PDF format.  

Christ in Jonah:  Gleason Archer tells us in his Introduction to the Old Testament on page 313 that ” . . . one cannot reject the historicity of Jonah without also rejecting the authority of Christ.”  See Matthew 12: 38-41 (and the Luke account).  Hint:  Isolate the word “sign” for further examination (σημεῖον).  Jonah is the only prophet whom Jesus likened to Himself.  What are the implications? Compare this account to the aforementioned John 7:52. Think Jonah and Jesus in terms of TypologyFurther suggestion:  The eschatological warnings about signs and wonders in the New Testament.  What are the implications?  (For now, simply file this in your notes for future study.)

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Matthew 12:  The deeper implications of the word “sign” (σημεῖον) may lie within the pages of the revised version of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Moises Silva, ed.)

Structure of the Book:  Let’s keep this simple.  Some of your commentaries will be more elaborate, but simplicity of structure is often best retained in the mind during study.

1.  Jonah flees. (Chapters 1-2)

2.  Jonah reluctantly fulfills. (Chapters 3-4)

     Related structural issues40 verses tell the story of a single, extended episode.  8 additional verses cover Jonah’s prayer of thanksgiving, giving us a total of 48 verses.  Jonah’s employment of structural symmetry and style are often compared to the Book of Ruth.  The story is told in two parallel cycles (Chapters 1-2/Chapters 3-4) of comparisons and contrasts.  There are 3 Confessions of Jonah (1:9; 2:9; 4:2.) The “Middle Confession” of 2:9 is decisive. It proclaims that “Salvation is of the Lord,” and emphasizes that the word of the Lord is the last and final word on anything.

Key Verses2: 8-9, and 4:2.  (Last 2 Confessions of Jonah)

Key ChapterChapter 3Revival in Nineveh.

Key Ideas for Discussion and Reflection:  Is it possible to succeed in running away from God?  Are there limits/no limits as to what God can use to get an individual’s attention?  An Empire’s attention?  Does failure disqualify someone from serving God?  What are the consequences of running away from God?  What is the experience of the individual who attempts it?  Can nationalistic patriotism impede the relationship between the believer and God’s plan?  Does Jonah’s testimony reveal a universal concern for all people on the part of the Biblical God?  What are the implications of the fact that Nineveh responded to the preaching of Jonah better than the Northern Kingdom of Israel or the Southern Kingdom of Judah did with any of their prophets?  Is there a prototypical parallel here with the various reactions to the preaching of the Kingdom of God by Jesus and His apostles recorded in the New Testament? Hint:  Compare the reaction to the message of Jonah by the Ninevites to that of those who claimed to be the Sons of Abraham (John 8: 31-41). Implications?  Is there a link to 722 B. C., 586 B. C., and A. D. 70? And possibly to Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 24/2 Thessalonians 2/Revelation 13?

     We are now at the end of our first session together.  It is my hope that this overview serves its purpose, not only as an introduction to the Book of Jonah, which we will examine in greater detail in future sessions by studying the text verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter, but as a Prototype for the Catacomb Church and the Homeschooling Community in covering any Biblical book.  This process is essential to laying out the roadmap for all of the study, all of the discussions, and all of the developments for further study that will inevitably follow.  Sometime in the future, I will develop a Prototype for a Topical Study in Scripture which will be shared with you when completed.

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Not a Bad View for an Exile on Patmos: An Aegean Sunset.

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John on Patmos Pens The Apocalypse: Exiled Because of Resistance to the Emperor Worship Cultus of Domitian (A. D. 81-96).

 

 

 

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Mark Dankof on “The Famine, The Watchman, and The Remnant” for the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod-USA

Pastor Mark Dankof in the 1990s.

[Pastor Mark Dankof’s address to the National Convention of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod—USA in Chetek, Wisconsin on June 23rd, 2012 is entitled, “The Famine, The Watchman and The Remnant.”]

[Open in prayer; read the three relevant Biblical texts]

Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me:  and behold a basket of summer fruit.  And he said, Amos, what seest thou?  And I said, A basket of summer fruit.  Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them anymore.  . . .  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:  And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

Amos 8: 1-2, 11-12

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

Habakkuk 2: 1

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:  behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days:  be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

The Apocalypse of St. John on Patmos, chapter 2: 8-11

     All of us here today have been on an odyssey since birth.  We trace our voyage from infancy through childhood; from childhood to adolescence and young adulthood; from young adulthood to middle age; from middle age to old age; from old age to death, which the Christian defines as a transition from this present life to a new life in a new plane of existence with the Triune God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and all of the Saints of God in a place called Heaven.

     It was 45 years ago today that I began my long odyssey from childhood to adulthood.  On June 23, 1967, my parents, my older brother, and I embarked on the USS Lurline, departing Honolulu for a 5 day journey to the Port of San Francisco.  Our years together as an Air Force family living in Hawaii were coming to a swift end. I remember wishing that there had been more time.

The legendary Matson Lines liner, SS Lurline.

     There are times at night when I can still hear the Matson Lines Orchestra and Band striking up the haunting strains of Aloha Oe, even as I still occasionally feel the Lurline beginning to physically pull away from the dock in Honolulu.  As we began to depart, the ship was accompanied by a farewell flotilla of escorting canoes comprised of paddling Polynesian men and women.  The women were decked out in Hawaiian tribal garb with bright colors.  Their  long, beautiful black hair was adorned with careful arrangements of the orchids of the Islands.

     The huge crowd standing on the dock in Honolulu waved good bye to the departing until we were out of sight.  There is still one face I see above all others in that sea of humanity bidding tearful farewell to the denizens of the USS Lurline.  It was Pastor Frederick L. Von Husen of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Wahiawa.  The three years at his school, and my Baptism in his sanctuary, began my long journey in Lutheran Christianity, a wandering that in the providence of God continues to this day.

Pastor Frederick L. Von Husen of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Wahiawa, Hawaii at the Dock of Honolulu on June 23, 1967, bidding farewell to Mark Dankof and family as the USS Lurline prepares to depart for San Francisco.

     I did not want to leave the loving confines of Christ-centered Church and School in Hawaii in June of 1967.  The USS Lurline was taking me on a voyage to an ultimate destination I wanted to disembark from.

     I am reminded of the Lord’s solemn prophetic admonition to Peter:

     “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God.  And when he had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow me.”  (John 21: 18-19).

Mark Dankof in Geek Days. 3rd row, center position. Teacher Paul Wangerin in back row, far right. Trinity Lutheran School, Wahiawa, Hawaii. 6th grade. School Year 1966-67.

     Those initial years as a child at Trinity Lutheran were rooted in a love of The Lamb and of God’s Word which testified to Him in the sunshine of childhood on Oahu.  As the years passed, I would more than occasionally experience a darker side in American Lutheranism, what Eugene O’Neill would have termed A Long Day’s Journey Into Night.  The painful journey which began on the USS Lurline in 1967 was often accompanied by queasy turbulence and darkness as the speed of time in an increasingly ominous Age accelerated, even as my own encounter with the Theology of the Cross deepened in time.  The Lord seemed to be suggesting that I was being prepared to go places I didn’t want to go, on assignments no sane person would volunteer for.

Paul Wangerin and Mark Dankof at El Mirador in San Antonio in March of 2012, 45 years after Teacher and Student days at Trinity Lutheran School of Wahiawa, Hawaii.

     One of those assignments was to be a Watchman 25 years ago in the initial salad days of the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC). Those days, my role in them, and the historic events then which overtook many of us in this sanctuary now, are the reason for my acceptance of an invitation to be here in Wisconsin on June 23, 2012.  We cannot know who we are today as a Confessional Body of Faithful Believers standing in the Reformation loci of Sola Scriptura, Sola Christus, Sola Gratia, and Sola Fide, and presently residing in the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod–USA, without understanding the situation of a quarter of a century ago in our predecessor body, anymore than anyone of us can possibly know who and what we are as individuals today without intimate acquaintance with, and memory of, our own historical pasts.

     In short, we cannot know who we are, if we do not know where we have been.

     You are invited to share today in only a small segment of my own journey that began almost half a century ago in the Hawaiian Islands as a child.  I hope that my journey illumines the remainder of your pathway as a child of God before the Lord returns. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

     It is my great pleasure to be in attendance at a National Convention of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod—USA.  Dr. Ralph Spears has asked me to address all of you, keeping the theme of The Watchman in mind, and my past role in the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC) serving as one laboring under very painful circumstances that would subsequently come perilously close to destroying my life.  The aftermath has impacted me in all the days and nights since that time.

     For the record, Ralph Spears and John Erickson have stood by me for the last 23 years in the aftermath of the most horrific events of my career in Word and Sacrament ministry.  They have never left me behind in all this time, even as a number of people in strategic positions in the AALC years ago did, not only to my detriment and longtime exile, but to the detriment of many rank-and-file Lutherans out of the old American Lutheran Church who made the same initial mistake that I did in believing that we had found a confessional fellowship and home in the midst of the larger darkness that has enshrouded American Lutheranism in my lifetime.  That darkness accompanies the blackening clouds swirling above our country, clouds soon to pour down God’s verdict of condemnation upon a nation and institutional church that have collectively rejected Him.

     It is an especially gratifying thing to see Dr. Ralph Spears, Dr. John Erickson, and Dr. Donald Thorson again after the passage of so many years.  As has already been mentioned, each of us was a pioneer in the initially hopeful days that surrounded the creation of the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC) a quarter of a century ago.  Between the years of hardship for each of these men that often accompanied toil in other Lutheran bodies prior to 1987, and what would fatefully transpire in the years that followed that date permanently etched in my own mind, I am reminded of the speed of the passage of time in this present cosmos, and the vicissitudes of life that accompany the turning of pages from one decade to the next.  Moses knows of what he speaks in Psalm 90: 3-10 when he says that:

     “Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return ye children of men.  For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.  Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep:  in the morning they are like grass which growth up.  In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

     “For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.  Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.  For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

     “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

     Thus, I briefly delve into a journey into the distant past, without rancor or bitterness and hopefully with Biblical perspective.  I speak of these matters all these light years later, only because requested to by Pastor Spears, and because of the way in which the events and circumstances of a quarter of a century ago serve to illustrate and warn The Remnant in these presumably final days of human history.

     The final days of human history, chronicled by Jesus Christ in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), have many parallels with the beginning of the end for the Northern Kingdom of Israel as Amos proclaimed it during the reign of Jeroboam II (Co-regency with Jehoash from 793-782 B. C.; sole reign from 782-753 B. C.; total reign 792-740 B. C.); with the Babylonian Exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah which culminated in Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B. C.; and the national judgment of Judah at the hands of Titus and the Romans in 70 A. D. because of the former’s rejection of Jesus Christ and the nature of the Kingdom of God He proclaimed during His First Advent.  This last catastrophe was forecast by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, shortly before His betrayal by Judas Iscariot and the climax of the plot against His life launched by the Jewish religious authorities of first century Palestine.

     The reasons for each of these judgments in redemptive history, and the reasons for what I believe is a coming judgment on our own American nation in the 21st century, are absolutely identical.  Political, economic, military, and cultural eclipse are always the result of rebellion against God, and total disdain for God’s Word.   The final stage in total eclipse is a famine visited upon the land.  And in an age where many of us are terrified of the very real possibility of physical food shortages and the societal turbulence which will accompany it, it bears noting that the famine chronicled by Amos is not a physical oneIt is one that involves the progressive withdrawal of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the evaporation of God’s blessings and protection.  Heed then, the 8th century prophet as he warns both the Northern Kingdom of Israel then, and by extracted principles, all of us here today:

     “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:  And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” [Amos 8: 11-12]

     This is the critical perspective we must have on what has happened to the United States and to the Lutheran Church in your lifetime and mine.

     For the record, I was the first Lutheran pastor in “days passed away [Psalm 90: 9] to be formally accepted onto the clergy roster of the AALC, on July 10, 1987.  In those days, I was a young man, and serving a Lutheran congregation in Seattle, Washington known as St. Matthias Lutheran Church, which would subsequently be among the Charter Congregations comprising this daring venture into the Great Unknown.

     All across the country then, there was much excitement among the early trailblazers in this endeavor and journey of faith. I shared in this Great Hope of that brief moment in time, feeling that after years of heartache in the Lutheran denomination, I was not only experiencing a turning point in my own life and calling, but witnessing a turning point in American Lutheran history that would define the future course of countless Lutheran Christians at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st to follow; a course destined to merge theological orthodoxy, love, and personal witness for Christ as the Church of Smyrna did in the dark early days of the Roman Empire and its persecution of disciples of Jesus Christ, accompanied by the Apostle John’s exile to Patmos at the hands of Emperor Domitian (A. D. 81-96) [Revelation 2: 8-11].

     In those days, I especially looked forward to flying from Seattle to Minneapolis for national board meetings of the Association, and the mornings and evenings spent apart from official business that inevitably involved the swapping of stories, experiences, and future hopes with compadres like the late Pastor Jonathan Noel Kennedy of Faith Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon; Pastor Dennis Brostrom, then of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Patterson, California; Pastor Ray Klug of Fairbury, Nebraska; Pastor Thomas Aadland of Duluth, Minnesota, an AALC Executive Committee member who would years later become the AALC’s Presiding Pastor; Dr. Christopher Barnakov of Washington, D. C., the editor of the AALC’s flagship national publication, The Evangel; Mr. Rollie Strommen of Janesville, Wisconsin; and our own Dr./Pastor John Erickson here today.  Between 1987 and 1989, the course being charted for the AALC in closed session meetings was matched by a special fellowship with these aforementioned Saints, based in what Paul tells us in Ephesians 3: 9:

     “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”

     But darker, demonic forces were also afoot in the AALC between 1987-1989.  Events in that two year period of time would force me into a public role as The Watchman.  I did not seek this assignment.  The role sought me, for reasons only partially understood 25 years later.

     Between 1987-1989, my involvement with the meetings of the Joint Council of the AALC in Minneapolis, and the early conclaves of the Board of Higher Education, revealed three (3) disturbing trends that underscore the Biblical truism for Watchmen and The Remnant throughout history that the Satanic threat to the Confessional Church of our Lord is not simply one posited by external threats and enemies.  The threat and the enemy is often in our own midst.  Jesus’s warnings to His people in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21) come to mind, especially the Lord’s eschatological admonition at the outset:

      “Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.  . . .  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.  . . . (Matthew 24).

     And the Apostle Paul’s warning in Ephesians 6 reinforces that of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse:

     “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6: 11-12)

     With these Biblical passages in mind, the three trends of Satanic infiltration in the AALC’s early days that I observed as a Watchman are as follows:  1) the attempts at the outset of the Higher Education Committee of the AALC to establish a Lutheran House of Study in conjunction with Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California; and the involvement of the AALC’s Executive Committee in those days in using representatives of the C. Peter Wagner Church Growth Institute of Fuller Theological Seminary, like Carl George, for seminars on how to create AALC congregations based on the principles of the Church Growth Movement(CGM);  2) the early embrace of key leaders of the AALC of the most radical elements of the Neo-Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal Movements in the Lutheran church, even as it was claimed that the AALC was a continuation of the older American Lutheran Church (ALC) and the Lutheran Orthodoxy that once characterized that Synod; and 3) the attempt to synthesize a full subscription to the Lutheran Confessions (“quia“) with the inclusion of advocates of CGM, the Charismatic Movement, and Dispensational Premillennial eschatology and Christian Zionism as full fledged members of the AALC.

     This underscores a truism:  The attempt to synthesize truth and falsehood courtesy of the Hegelian Dialectic is destined to fail.  This methodology is the enemy of Biblical Revelation and the Orthodox Lutheran Confessions.  You and I cannot forget this.  Ever

     And as for the attempt to synthesize Dispensational Premillennial eschatology and Christian Zionism with historic Biblical Christianity, let there be no mistake.  The 19th Century Darbyism which led to the Scofield Reference Bible and subsequently to Hal Lindsey, Jerry Falwell, and John Hagee in our own time, has commingled Law and Gospel; it has perverted Jesus’ teachings on the otherworldly and eternal character of the Kingdom of God in favor of  worldly doctrines of racial supremacy, secular nationalism, and the naked employment of economic and military power to achieve its ends.  It has reduced the Confessing Church of Christ to status as a mere parenthesis in God’s dealings with racial, national Israel and Judah (see chart below on Daniel 9 and the “70th week” or 70×7=490 years).  One can effectively argue that it is leading our country into dangerous and uncharted waters in the Middle East and domestically.  As it repristinates in the modern era a belief in the same heresies and ideology that the New Testament indicates caused the rejection of the truth claims of Jesus Christ on the part of the Jewish religious and political leadership of two millennia ago in Palestine (John 8: 31-59; Matthew 27: 1-6), it may well reside at the center of the eschatological warning issued by Jesus in Matthew 24: 21-24:

     “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.  And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.  Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

     Much of the deception surrounds the Dispensationalist and Christian Zionist interpretation of Daniel, chapter 9, The Prophecy of 70 Weeks.  It began with John Nelson Darby in the 19th century, and subsequently the Scofield Reference Bible.  The inroads into both the American churches and American foreign policy began in earnest with Chicago Dispensationalist and international businessman William E. BlackstoneThe endgame is the Beast, the New World Order, and World War III.  See the following chart:

Daniel’s 70th Week: Past Fulfillment or Future?

Issues of Interpretation

Roman View

Eschatological Interval or Parenthesis View

Beginning point (Decree of verse 25)

One of the 3 Persian Decrees: 538, 458, 445 B. C.

One of the decrees of Artaxerxes, 458 or 445 B. C.

Messiah the Prince (verse 25)

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

62 Weeks (62×7= 434 years)

Added to 7 weeks to span from decree to point in the life of Christ (62 weeks or 434 years + 7 weeks or 49 years=69 weeks or 483 years)

Added to 7 weeks and by using “prophetic years” ends at the triumphal entry.

The prophetic clock stops. The parenthesis between the 69th and 70th week begins.

Messiah (verse 26)

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ at the Crucifixion

Covenant-Maker (verse 27)

Jesus Christ

Antichrist

70th week (7×1=7 years)

Roman destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, 70 A. D.

Futuristic Tribulation corresponding to the 70th week of Daniel (7 years) which begins after the Rapture of the Church, the closing of the Parenthesis Era, and the resumption of National Israel and Judah’s role as the center of God’s plan in redemptive history.

[Brief analysis of the Daniel 9/70 Weeks Chart Follows for Convention Attendees]

     We must leave further analysis of these critical differences in the interpretation of Biblical eschatology and the character of the Kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus to future discussions.  But I must leave you with two essential closing observations.  First, Dispensational Premillennialism and Christian Zionism are incompatible with Orthodox Lutheranism (Augsburg Confession, Article 17).  The former’s adherence to a doctrine of racial supremacy, a commingling of Law and Gospel, and a confusion of the kingdoms of this present realm with Christ’s Kingdom, are anathema to what Jesus taught about His Kingdom, its eternal character, and the universal eligibility of all to receive His gifts and promises.  And the United States is yet to experience the tragedy of being linked as a nation to ongoing support of this monstrous heresy in the political, economic, and military realms.  That tragedy shall be proven both catastrophic and apocalyptic in its implications.  You can take that prediction to the bank, if there is still one left in your community in the next several years. . . .

     Second, everyone in attendance today at this gathering, as well as many others who will be connected to our conversations in Cyberspace, must encounter the work of the late Westminster/Princeton scholar Oswald T. Allis published on this subject in 1945.  His book, Prophecy and the Church, will demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the interpretative scheme of John Nelson Darby, the Scofield Reference Bible, Hal Lindsey, and John Hagee, is incompatible with the Lutheran and Reformed streams of the Protestant Reformation and their respective Confessions of the 16th and 17th centuries.  The Remnant Confessing Church of our Lord ignores this warning at its peril.  The AALC drove through this stop sign many years ago, when it officially recognized a Christian Zionist ministry as its own affiliated organization, one of the many egregious errors made in the initial years of the Minneapolis meetings which taken in the aggregate, spelled disaster and shipwreck.

     Let there be no mistake.  No orthodox Christian of any stripe, including the Confessional Lutheran, believes that the Church of Jesus Christ is a mere parenthesis in history in God’s exclusive dealings with racial, national Israel.  No one can compatiblize this with the witness of the New Testament.  As Dr. Allis testifies in his magnum opus, to believe this is to ultimately revert to Judaism.

     The implications of all of this for the future direction of the AALC would be subsequently chronicled by me for the Lutheran weekly, Christian News, in February of 1994 in a front page story entitled, “The AALC:  Not an Option for ELCA Conservatives.”  I have brought copies of that piece with me today for those interested.  It will cover in greater detail the particulars of the time in which I was barely surviving the assault, along with Pastor Spears, Pastor Erickson, Pastor Klug, and Pastor Brostrom.

     I say barely surviving as my own congregation, St. Matthias Lutheran Church of Seattle, was being rent asunder by the infiltration of the same forces that had begun to permeate the national body.  This was covertly being aided and abetted by two different officials of the AALC, as was documented at the time.  By the decree of the Executive Committee of the AALC undertaken in between national meetings of the Joint Council and the Board of Trustees (of which I was a member), financial subsidy was being silently provided for what had been covertly transpiring in the Emerald City under radar.  The only Early Warning System I possessed that I was in the crosshairs was provided by phone calls of concern from the then President of the Lutheran Bible Institute in Issaquah, and an ELCA pastor in the Puget Sound area who had inside information for me that connected all the relevant players in this Demonic Subterranean Netherworld, their past history, and current informal reports from the Midwest being conveyed to him by his own sources on a regular basis.

     Translation: I had been the leading voice in closed door meetings in the  Twin Cities expressing opposition to the national drift I saw in the organization’s decisions being made by its Executive Committee, its Joint Council, its Board of Higher Education.  It was time that I be disposed of.  The table had been set.

     I kept asking myself in the middle of the night, “Could all of this really be happening to me after two years of service to the national organization, and with the friendships developed with key people in Minneapolis?” I was stunned.  But every piece fit.  The Watchman had let his guard down. He was in the crosshairs of forces he had failed to anticipate and identify.  An excruciating price would be paid for this lack of vigilance.  The spinoffs continue to the present day. 

     The lesson is clear.  The Watchman and The Remnant can never let their guard down.

     Failure to keep this lesson Front and Center is a catastrophic and potentially fatal mistake.

     I will be forever grateful to Pastor Dennis Brostrom and Pastor Ray Klug for their official expressions of public dismay over this situation, along with Mr. Rod Kirchoff of Fairbury, Nebraska.  Mr. Kirchoff led an official inquiry into events in Seattle when commissioned by the Executive Committee of the AALC to do so.  His conclusions were submitted to that body before both he and the Fairbury, Nebraska congregation joined Pastor Klug in leaving the AALC formally.  Pastor Brostrom also departed for other confines.  Other people presently in this room today would also eventually head for the exit.

     I would leave the AALC officially after their 1990 National Convention at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Five (5) years later, I would accept Pastor Ralph Spears’ invitation to join the new LMS-USA at its launching in Indianapolis in 1995.  I have remained with all of you all these years since (17 years), out of conviction that this body represents a slice of The Remnant in these final days, even as I seriously doubt that a Second Reformation will ever grip this country or the post-Christian societies of the Western World generally. I have also remained in the LMS-USA out of eternal personal gratitude that Pastor Spears and Pastor Erickson understood the magnitude of the personal tragedy I had experienced in Seattle in 1989-90 and did not leave The Wounded Watchman by the side of the road.

     They have been sources of encouragement and support in the Lord ever since.  You can’t buy friendships like these over the counter.

     What then, are the other lessons derived from this brief Journey into the Past, both for today’s Watchmen and The Remnant?  For this, we return to where we began today, with the books of Habakkuk and the Apocalypse of John.  I hope the charts provided to you are helpful here.

Habakkuk in Judah and John on Patmos

Today’s Watchmen and Remnant

Ministry in days of Judah’s “death throes.” The reign of Jehoiakim (609-597 B. C.) leads to destruction (2 Kings 23:34-24:5; Jeremiah 22:17). John exiled to Patmos by Emperor Domitian’s decree (A. D. 81-96) and after the national judgment of Judah and its Temple Destruction in A. D. 70, as prophesied by Christ (Matthew 24).

Ministry in days of America’s “death throes.” Fill in your own contemporary particulars.  . . .  Roe versus Wade, national embrace of sexual perversion, national debt, crime, family disintegration, over extension of military empire abroad, New World Order, embrace of a deceptive and evil alliance with the Synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2: 9 with reference to Romans 2: 28-29), et.al.  Church mirrors the nation with its higher Biblical criticism, embrace of sexual perversion, cultural accommodationism, corrupt leadership, financial greed, lack of love.  Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicea or a combination of them (see Revelation 2: 1-3: 21) are today’s American church, including the institutional Lutheran version.

The Remnant today must follow the Churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia (Revelation 2: 8-11; 3: 7-13)

Babylon as instrument of God’s judgment (1:6; 2:1; 3:16)

Fill in your own contemporary particulars.  . . . Who will it be? What configuration of world powers and forces?

Habakkuk means “One Who Embraces or Clings.” See 3: 16-19 for the Prophet’s decision to Cling to God in all circumstances.

Watchmen and Remnant must Cling to God and His Son. (Romans 10: 9; Revelation 3: 19-22)

The  circumstances for Habakkuk, Judah, and Babylon sometimes appear to contradict God’s revelation, His power, His purposes, His promises.

Circumstances surrounding the institutional church and the nation sometimes appear to contradict God’s revelation, His power, His purposes, His promises to you and me.

Habakkuk has extended dialogue with God (2/3 of entire book).  First dialogue (1:1-11); second dialogue (1: 12-2: 20).

Watchmen and Remnant must Pray Without Ceasing (I Thessalonians 5: 17).

Perplexity over God’s purposes causes Habakkuk to stand upon a watchtower to wait for God’s reply. God’s reply is plain (2: 2), for an appointed time (2: 3), guaranteed to come and truthful (2: 3).  5 Woes are pronounced upon the guilty (chapter 2).

Watchmen and Remnant must be the Churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia in the 21st century.

God’s people must overcome in the midst of adversity, trial, and exile.

The Watchmen and The Remnant must overcome (Revelation 2 and 3).  The mandate is given to all 7 Churches of Asia Minor in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

[Brief summation of main highlights of the chart with attendees].

     For the sake of time, I will now permit all of you to comprehensively digest the chart’s entire contents in the days ahead.

     And as this may well mark the last time I address a national Lutheran gathering of this type, given present conditions in the world, let me leave my segment of this program today with a final thought (s) for The Remnant, based on the last theme of the chart.

     The Watchmen and The Remnant must overcome

     Strong’s Concordance on the Internet at http://concordances.org/greek/3528.htm explains the meaning and nuances of the word used by Jesus for His instructions to each of the 7 Churches of Asia Minor in the Apocalypse.  The Greek word is [(nik-ah’-o)]. 

     The literal translation is “I conquer, am victorious, overcome, prevail, subdue.” K. Wuest correctly conveys the idea that “The verb implies a battle.”

     You and I are now in the very beginning of the ultimate battle in world history forecast in the Olivet Discourse and by John on Patmos.

      The blackening darkness accompanying the emerging rule of The Beast proceeds apace (Revelation 13).  The enemies of Jesus Christ and Biblical witness are many.  Some are external threats.  Others are ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing in our midst (Matthew 7: 15).  We have already discussed some examples of this from a quarter of a century ago.

     I will simply say this as a Lutheran pastor whose lifetime and ordained ministry have coincided with our perilous collective course.

     As far as the Confessing Church in America in the 21st century is concerned, we are not simply losing.  We have already lost.  I agree with the prevailing published secular analysis and consensus which flatly states that the United States and Europe are post-Christian societies.  The evidence of this is Legion: The decline in preaching and teaching in our churches that is based in solid Biblical exegesis and Orthodox Lutheran standards, increasingly replaced by the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity “Gospel” and entertainment galas; the Church of Jezebel’s accommodation of the greed, narcissism, and perversion which continues to permeates American culture as it has since the salad days of the Drug and Sexual Revolutions in the 1960s; the Culture of Death which continues to abound, symbolized by abortion, Zero Population Growth, euthanasia, and the organized homosexual rights movement; and the ongoing disappearance of healthy young families and communities built around a solid economy and Confessing Church, courtesy of the Globalist movement which underscores the truism that “No man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the Beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13: 17).

     This then, is truly the age of The Beast and The False Prophet (Revelation 13).  How then, to quote Strong’s Concordance and Wuest, do we “conquer, overcome, prevail, and subdue?

     The key for The Remnant is To RecognizeWhat must we recognize?

     We must recognize the signs of the eschatological times in world history (Daniel 2, 7, 9; Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21/; I Corinthians 11: 13-14; I Timothy 4: 1-2; I Peter 1: 5-7).

     We must recognize the reality of the demonic forces at work against the people of God (Ephesians 6; I Peter 5: 8).

     We must recognize that we can only battle demonic forces by donning the full armor of God (Ephesians 6: 11-18), even as the season of Antichrist approaches (2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13) with lying “signs and wonders.”

     We must recognize the full implications of our status as a Remnant (Smyrna/Revelation 2: 8-11 and Philadelphia/Revelation 3: 7-13) of the Israel of God (Galatians 6: 16 and I Peter 2: 9-10).

     We must recognize God’s providential plan and design in both the best and the worst times of our lives (Romans 8: 28, Romans 11: 33-34; Philippians 1: 12).

     We must recognize that the Remnant Church confounds an unbelieving world and dying culture by preaching Christ Crucified (I Corinthians 1: 17-25) and Christ Risen (Romans 10: 9; I Corinthians 15; II Corinthians 5: 21).

     We must recognize that the Final Victory is ours (Revelation 22); that we are Conquerors, and that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 37-39).

     This is the context in which we must see and understand what has happened to all of us in the passage of these last few decades.  The American Empire is going the way of ancient national Israel and Judah; the American Lutheran Church’s descent into apostasy, sectarianism, institutional corruption, and increasing irrelevance, accompanies the sick national scene of which it is merely one component in the larger picture.

     We of The Remnant must Cling to God and His Son.  We must Cling to His Word and to His people.  We must Cling to a lifetime of prayer and meditation.  We must Cling to the Cross of Calvary and the Empty Tomb of Easter Sunday morning.  We must Cling to the Promise that the Son of God, presently seated at the Right Hand of God the Father, will soon return for His  People and the establishment of a Kingdom Without End.

     Lutheran Synods are not necessary for this.  Neither are District Presidents and Bishops, million dollar church budgets, satellite TV shows with televangelists, church growth demographic chart analyses, endorsements from secular political figures, or subsidies from non-profit organizations and NGOs.  These sad sack ingredients are the reverse side of the counterfeit coin which captures the two major secular political parties in America, the corporate news media, Wall Street, and the worst elements of our declining educational system.  Why see them as our deliverers from our lamentable individual and collective condition?

     They are anything but deliverers.  They are the ultimate symptoms of a fatal national and metastasizing malignancy which oppress and corrode the souls of God’s people. The discerning will throw them overboard. Paul warns us in the context of his own discussion of the Last Days offered to Timothy that such entities “have a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away(II Timothy 3: 5).

     We shall simply take Jesus at His Word with his blessed assurance to the beleaguered Saints of both the 1st century and the 21st: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2: 10).

     I finally conclude my brief conversation with you today, by coming full circle to where we began an hour ago, with the story of a maritime voyage.  It illustrates where you and I are headed together in our present journey.  The Final Destination is assured and unmistakable.  Be sure of this.

     This maritime voyage transpired in my Night Thoughts of three (3) years ago, one late Spring evening right after the death of my father in San Antonio.  The voyage was a nocturnal reversal of the sad maritime journey I had been forced to embark upon one early Hawaiian morning in the early summer of 1967.

     In those Night Thoughts of 2009 in the Alamo City, I was suddenly a kid again.  I found myself waiting at the Port of San Francisco with my youthful parents and my older brother.  We were getting ready to board a ship, by walking up a long and steep ramp.  The ship had Matson Lines of Hawaii markings.  It was the SS Lurline.

     My parents and my brother began the ascent up the ramp to board.  I felt a hand upon my right shoulder.  I turned and saw one who looked like the Ancient of Days.  His garment was white as snow; the hair of His head was like pure wool.  He was accompanied by the One whose hand was on my shoulder, one like the Son of Man (Daniel 7: 9, 13).

     The One whose hand was upon my right shoulder smiled.  It was a silent but sure reassurance that this voyage of 2400 miles would be a special one.  I proceeded up the ramp.

     The SS Lurline began to pull away from Pier One, the Embarcadero, and the western edge of San Francisco Bay on this early sunlit morning in the City by the Bay.  As it did, my eyes focused on the Golden Gate Bridge and the skyline until they disappeared.  There was a beautiful Pacific breeze that accompanied the panoramic view.  The sun seemed to follow the luxury liner and its occupants across 2400 miles of the deepest blue ocean and whitest crests I had ever witnessed.

     Five days passed in only an hour, much as one day with the Lord is like a thousand years (Psalm 90, 2 Peter 3: 8).

     Suddenly the Port of Honolulu swept into view.  As the SS Lurline approached Pier 11, the Matson Lines band and orchestra struck up Aloha Oe. A farewell in time had become a greeting in eternity.

The SS Lurline navigates the east side of Diamond Head in Honolulu.

     The welcoming crowd was teaming on this sun drenched Honolulu morning.  I saw Frederick L. Von Husen front and center among the beaming faces, waving to my family and to me.  Then I noticed he was surrounded by other faces I had known my entire life, the faces of people I had always known were among the Saints of God.  I had known them in so many different places as numerous as the stars in their courses. Some had preceded me in death and were now alive!  Others had not known the sting of temporal death, because of the One I had just seen upon departure from the Port of San Francisco only an hour before.  But how could we have crossed the Pacific so quickly?

     The Polynesian men and women who comprised the Matson Lines canoe crews were alongside us again.  The ladies looked as bright, colorful, and beautiful as they had so long ago.  The young men were as athletic and vibrant as they had been light years before in another universe in time.  But they were all now waving hello!  They were accompanying us to a Pier of Arrival that made up the most joyous scene I had ever seen in my life.  And suddenly I knew that my life was not ending but beginning, in a new plane of existence in a new cosmos that comprised The New Heaven and The New Earth.

SS Lurline arrives at the Port of Honolulu. Pier 11.

     Amidst all of the tears of joy and the embraces that enshrouded me in the love of the Saints who had come to the Pier to greet me, I was suddenly in the presence again of One Like the Son of Man.  But lo and behold, He is the Son of Man and the Only Begotten Son of the Father!  His Legions of Angels surround him in an aura of Radiant Light!  It is the Light of the Living Lord!  It is the Victory of the One who Has come as He has promised!

     And His people are the Victors, the Conquerors, the Ones Who Have Overcome in the Blood of the Lamb! The Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet, the Whore of Babylon, and their followers throughout history are now consigned forever to the Lake of Fire!  Death and Hell have been cast into this Lake.  This is the Second Death. (Revelation 20).

     And all of us have a Crown of Righteousness!

     And all of you today in Chetek, Wisconsin are there!  You too departed Pier One, the Embarcadero, the western edge of San Francisco Bay with me, on a most glorious luxury liner, destined to arrive at a place the world will never know, but which the People of God, the New Israel of God in Christ will live in forever and ever!

The Port of San Francisco on a clear day. Coit Tower remains on watch.

     And then I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul:

     “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all of them also that love His appearing.” (II Timothy 4: 6-8).

     And the vision of John on Patmos swiftly followed Paul’s words in the Night Thoughts and nocturnal dream that came to me after the death of my earthly father, an incredible gift of your Heavenly Father and mine:

     “And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.

     “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away.

     “And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.  And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

     “And He said unto me, It is done.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

     “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”  (Revelation 21: 2-7)

     This is your destiny.  This is my destiny.  It is by the grace of God alone, Christ alone, and faith alone.  The Holy Scriptures testify to these truths.  Do not doubt these truths, but cling to them.  Your redemption draweth nigh in these dark, final days of human history.

     I recall Paul’s admonition to all of God’s people who are both Watchmen and Remnant:

     “Ye are all children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

     “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.

     “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.  Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

     “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (I Thessalonians 5: 5-11)

     God bless you and your household this blessed day. I bid you farewell.

The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, awaits us.