The Bible Project

Truly excellent series of brief videos summarizing Bible themes and books. For example,

These videos present very sophisticated theology in easy-to-understand, brief segments. These would be excellent for Bible class or small group study.

For more information, click here. To download HD versions and study guides for free, click here. To donate, click here.

I am totally blown away by both the sophistication of the theology and the skill with which the lessons are taught. These would work for any age, middle school or up. But most adults will learn from any of these videos.

Highly recommended.

WARNING: Highly addictive material. Please do not operate heavy machinery or drive a car while watching.

PS — Even the one on Numbers is fascinating.

 

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  1. In the video of Heaven and Earth, the authors are assuming that God’s existence is in the heaven represented by the circle. But, Paul gives an account of a visit to a place he references as The Third Heaven.
    2Co 12:1-4 ESV I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. (2) I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. (3) And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— (4) and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
    His description of this place seems to be a place wherein God exists. An undefinable place, even after his visitation. Yet, we understand God is not bound by space or time.
    Scripture states, Gen 1:1 ESV In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. That there is a heaven which was created within the same timing as the earth. But, Paul also states, 2Pe 3:4-7 ESV They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (5) For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, (6) and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. (7) But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
    Definitely, defining that the heaven wherein God dwells existed prior to the creation of heaven and earth and that the flood was the world which then existed not just the earth.
    Now, if the picture which is being displayed as the heaven which was formed as the earth was formed is being merged together it would not be the heaven where God dwells. Another problem would be developing if God’s Heaven (his dwelling place) and earth were being merged today as suggested, why would not the heavenly hosts and angels pictured in the Heaven of Revelation also become active within the present earth just as theyare in heaven? Sin would not be hindering them from being in the purified places of earth as displayed in the video.
    Another problem is that many references to the earth in scripture are speaking of the humans on the earth not of the rest of creation.
    The heavens and the earth are also referenced as The World, a package all created at once.
    No man on earth would understand this concept better than Christ. Yet, he defines the area wherein his kingdom exists differently than mankind.
    (Joh 8:23 ESV) He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
    (Joh 18:36 ESV) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
    (Joh 6:51 ESV) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
    Would anyone understand that Jesus came down from the heaven which was created as the earth was created? No. He was there in the creation, he existed with God in the Heaven which was prior to the created heaven and earth.
    In the following passages, did Jesus error as he identified coming to this World if it did not include all of creation, heaven and earth?
    (Luk 11:50 ESV) so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
    (Luk 16:8 ESV) The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
    (Joh 3:19 ESV) And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
    (Joh 9:39 ESV) Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
    (Joh 11:9 ESV) Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
    (Joh 12:25 ESV) Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
    (Joh 12:31 ESV) Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
    (Joh 14:30 ESV) I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,
    (Joh 16:11 ESV) concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
    (Joh 18:37 ESV) Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
    I believe that Jesus was fully aware of the definition of earth and of the world, and his usage appears to be different than men are attempting to define.

  2. To identify my point more directly I do not see the concept that is being expressed that in the beginning The Heaven where God exists and earth or this world was ever merged as men are suggesting. God does not say that neither does Jesus.

  3. Larry wrote,

    I do not see the concept that is being expressed that in the beginning The Heaven where God exists and earth or this world was ever merged as men are suggesting.

    Actually, it’s clearly taught.

    (Gen. 1:1-8 ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

    The text clearly describes “heaven” as created at the same times as the earth. The word is both plural (1:1) and singular (1:8). But he begins by saying God created both the heavens and the earth — the place where God lives and where man lives. Both.

    The Jews of Moses’ day did not think of heaven as being in another time-space dimension or “out there.” It sat above the sky and was created for God’s abode as part of the single Creation.

    (Ps. 53:2 ESV) 2 God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

    (Ps. 33:13-15 ESV) 13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; 14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, 15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.

    (Ps. 104:3-4 ESV) 3 He lays the beams [the flooring] of his chambers on the waters [of the upper firmament or sky, that is, on top of the clouds]; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; 4 he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.

    But before the Fall of Man in Gen 3, God is pictured as walking among mankind. He speaks to Adam and Eve while walking with them in the Garden. And they hid from him — because they expected him to be there. God didn’t just occasionally appear. He was there with Adam and Eve — so much so that they felt the need to hide their nakedness after they ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    After they sinned, they were separated from God — so that they were expelled from the Garden and banned from re-entry. Why? Because the impure and unholy — sinners — cannot be in God’s presence. And God’s presence was in the Garden. But God lives in heaven. Therefore, the Garden and heaven overlapped.

    The NT pictures the Garden (Paradise) as now being in heaven (or being heaven) where God lives but man does not yet live. His presence and the Garden left the earth and now are where God is — but not where man is. But the Garden used to be on earth. At the end of time, the Garden will be returned to the earth and the heavens and the earth will be made new again so God can dwell among man.

    Now, add to these observations the teachings of John Walton (covered here several times) that the Creation of Gen 1 is a description of the dedication of the Creation as a Temple in which God is to dwell. The temple is not just heaven but the heavens and the earth — and God fills this temple — in Gen 1. When God “rests,” he does not take a beach vacation. Rather, he enters into his temple to live. “Rest” was the word for a god to come to dwell in his temple — as in Psa 132.

    (Ps. 132:7-14 ESV) 7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!” 8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might [the Temple on Mt. Zion]. 9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. 10 For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one. 11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. 12 If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.” 13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: 14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.

    Add to that Rev 21-22, which describes the rejoining of heaven and earth with God dwelling with man in the remade, renewed heavens and earth as God’s temple.

    Now, in between Eden and Rev 21-22 we have God residing both in heaven and in the Temple. The Jews thought of the Holy of Holies as a place where heaven and earth met so that God could be in both locations at once.

    All the other symbols of ancient Israel and the second-Temple Jewish world gathered around this majestic, potent building [the Temple], and from it they took their meaning and power. This was where the great narratives clustered, too, the stories upon which the Jewish people had already been living for centuries before Saul of Tarsus came along, narratives that had developed fresh resonances in the years immediately before his day and would, through his agency, develop significantly new ones as he told them around the world in a radically reworked form (and, he would say, as he worked on constructing the new ‘building’ around the world). These are stories about Israel’s God, about his name and his glory; stories about who this God is in himself and his actions, stories about his power and his faithfulness, about his powerful wings hovering over his people to keep them safe. They are Temple-stories because they are God-and-Israel stories, and vice versa.

    There are three elements to this Temple-theology which we must now explore in more detail. These elements are (remarkably) not as well known as they should be—or at least, they do not seem to attract much attention. What is more, they are enormously important as part of the context for understanding the worldview and mindset of a first-century Pharisee.

    The first important theme is that the Temple was a microcosm of the whole creation. We do not have many artefacts from the second-Temple period with which to form an impression of the visual symbolic world of the day, but we have enough descriptions of the Temple to know that it was quite deliberately constructed so as to reflect the whole creation, the stars in the heavens on the one hand and the multiplicity of beautiful vegetation on the other. As one recent writer has summarized it:

    The rest of the iconography that filled the Temple from its very beginning—the carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers in the inner shrine, the central hall, and on the doors leading into both rooms, the lily work, the lattice work, and the pomegranates on the bronze pillars, the bronze oxen under the molten sea, and the cherubim, lions, palm trees, oxen, and wreaths on the moveable basin frames, and at some point the pole-mounted seraphim—all had a symbolic significance …

    Thus the throne of cherubs on which YHWH’s presence was supposed to rest was designed to indicate his rule as divine king, Lord of the whole world, with cherubim and seraphim expressing the awesome power of his presence. Josephus describes the curtain in the second Temple which represented an image of the universe, covered with symbolic coloured embroidery and mystical figures. In the Holy Place, next in sanctity to the (empty) Holy of Holies itself, were three wonderful works of art: the lampstand whose seven branches represented the seven planets, the table on which the twelve loaves represented the circle of the Zodiac and the year, and the altar of incense on which were thirteen spices, from every part of land and sea. All this, according to Josephus, signified that ‘all things are of God and for God.’ Likewise, the Wisdom of Solomon describes the robe of Aaron, the first high priest, as depicting ‘the whole world’ (holos ho kosmos). Even if particular interpretations were local, or peculiar to this or that writer, the overall picture, of the Temple and its intimate details designed as a way of drawing together the whole creation, was widely known precisely in those circles (intelligent and learned Jews in the Diaspora as well as in Jerusalem) where we know Saul of Tarsus to have been brought up.

    Amid a plethora of studies which make this overall point, and thus connect the whole created order symbolically to the Jerusalem Temple, two recent works approach the question from either end. The jury is still out on these interpretations, but they seem to me to point in the right direction.

    Gregory Beale, in a thorough and careful work, asks why the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21 and 22 is described as though the whole thing is a temple. His answer, on the basis of a wide survey of Temple discourse throughout ancient Jewish history, is that the Temple was always supposed to represent creation, and that at last, according to Revelation, the purpose is accomplished: that which was represented by the Temple, namely the presence of the creator in his world, is completely achieved. There is thus no Temple in the New Jerusalem, because the whole new creation is itself the ultimate (and originally intended) Temple. That explains, too, why (for instance) Mount Zion is envisaged in the Psalms and elsewhere as a kind of New Eden, with the river flowing out as in the prototype.

    John Walton, a former colleague of Beale’s though not in this work referring to him, has recently written a short work aimed at explicating aspects of Genesis 1 for an audience which finds it controversial. As part of that task, he builds on an earlier commentary on Genesis in which he has argued strongly, from evidence across the ancient near east, that the creation-account in Genesis 1 would have been understood in the world of its day as the construction not just of a garden but specifically of a temple, a place for the creator to live in. ‘God created the heavens and the earth’, creating them as a home for himself. Walton argues, suggestively, that the seventh day in Genesis 2:2–3 is not a ‘rest’ in the sense of a mere cessation of activity, but the equivalent of Psalm 132:14: this is God’s ‘resting-place’. He has finished the work of construction, which is to be seen as a prelude to all his intended work of developing it through the agency of his image-bearing human creatures. Now, with the construction complete, he can ‘rest’ in the sense of ‘taking up residence’. Temples, Walton argues, regularly had a sevenfold building-programme. We note that when Solomon dedicated his Temple the festival lasted for seven days.

    N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013), 4:100–102.

    That is, the tabernacle and Temple both were designed as mini-Creations, because God was originally intended to dwell in the Creation itself as his temple. The Fall of Man and entry of sin into the world separated God from man — but the sacrificial system at the tabernacle/Temple brought temporary atonement to rejoin God with his people.

    Today, Jesus is the temple, and the church, as the body of Christ, is his temple on earth. He dwells here and is worshiped wherever the church is found. And the church has been charged to pray for the extension of the body of Christ (the kingdom) to come on earth as it is in heaven — for God’s presence and holiness to fill the earth as it now fills heaven — and once filled Eden.