Promise from a Fiery Mountain

I often think about promises that are designed to build, strengthen, or heal relationships. In a variety of circumstances, the same agreement between the same people can look different, have different actions and different effects. The primary commonality is a goal of weaving bonds of love.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11236

I find it quite unexplainable how a covenant and a promise are considered to be the same thing. A marriage is not based on a promise. It is based on a covenant in which two people agree to the terms of the covenant by saying, “I do.” At Sinai God and the Israelites made a covenant which stipulated that the people would obey the law that God had presented to them. As the book of Deuteronomy does not tire of repeating, God said to the people, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the fruit of the land, but if you are rebellious I will spew you out of my mouth.” In a covenant the parties agree to live up to what they commit themselves to do.
A promise is something quite different. One day Abraham was minding his business in Haran and God appeared to him and said, “Leave this land and go to the land that I will show you. That land will be yours.” And the text says that Abraham departed toward the Promised Land. Why did he depart? As the text says, because he believed God.
A promise requires that the one receiving it believes the One Promising. A covenant requires that both parties live up to what they have agreed upon.
As Paul makes abundantly clear, To receive the promise of eternal life what is required is faith, not “works of law.” Christianity is not based on a covenant, like Judaism. Christianity is based on a Promise. The only way for a promise to be effective is by believing the One Who Promised. Christian righteousness is not the righteousness obtained by obedience of the law, but the righteousness of faith. “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Covenants do not require faith.

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this point is somewhat less certain, given that abraham was in a covenant, just like israel:

“And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised…and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” Gen 17:9-10,13.

abraham was also obedient to law:

“Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Gen 26:5.

moreover, christian believers are also in a covenant, just like israel…whereas israel’s covenant law was written on stone, christianity’s covenant law is written internally, Heb 10:16…

not to be overlooked is the fact that paul taught the 10 commandments:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Eph 6:1-3.

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THE COVENANTS AND THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION

BIBLICAL COVENANTS

In the Old Testament the word for ‘covenant’ is " berith ," from a root word that means “to cut or divide,” an allusion to the sacrificial custom of covenant-making. The dividing of the sacrificial animals, laying them out in two halves and the various parties “walking between the pieces,” deemed the " berith ," the covenant, to be legally binding. (e.g., Genesis 15:10; Jeremiah 34:18-19).

In the Greek there are two words for covenant that reveal there are two very different Biblical covenants; " sonthekie ," covenant agreements; and " diathekie ," covenant promises . Another important difference is, " sonthekie agreements" are equally binding upon both parties, as opposed to " diathekie promises" that bind the one making the promise, to fulfil the promise. As a " berith " promise is the promise of one, the recipient can only accept or reject it.

Sonthekie - a conditional covenant

A " sontheki e" is a " berith " in which the conditions agreed upon must be fulfilled by all parties. The first covenant God made with Adam in Eden was a " sonthekie agreement, " a conditional covenant, as was the " first " made at Sinai with the nation of Israel. In both cases, the " berith ," the covenant agreement , was broken and became “old” the moment Adam and Israel disobeyed. As a result, both Adam and Eve and the nation of Israel, needed a Saviour to redeem them. This was achieved by the “new” berith, " the covenant promise. Gen. 3:21.

Diathekie - an Unconditional Promise

The " diathekie" “berith,” the promise of One, is the promise of God and is a free gift. It was fulfilled by the One “perfect man,” through God’s power and sovereignty. Fallen man is not a party to this covenant promise, as he is the recipient of the Promise. There is nothing fallen man can add to God’s covenant promise. However, as the recipient of the promise, fallen man has a choice to make. Will he accept, or will he reject, the free gift? If he accepts the free gift by faith, the Law that previously condemned him, becomes 10 wonderful promises of victory over sin, as the Law has been perfectly fulfilled by Jesus, the Law maker. If fallen man rejects the free gift, the Law will condemn him in the judgment, cf. Heb. 9:15-17.Rev.14:6-7. The " old covenant agreement ," broken at Sinai, was a covenant of condemnation and death. The " new covenant promise ," the Everlasting Covenant, fulfilled at the cross, is salvation and life. cf. Eph 2:5; Romans 11:6, 5:15, 8:1-18.

Progressive aspects of the Everlasting Covenant

God’s redemptive promise is progressive. Initially the promise was made with individuals, i.e. Adam, Noah, and Abraham, then with literal Israel and finally with spiritual Israel. In the judgment, God’s professed people will be held accountable according to their understanding of the covenant in the time in which they lived. Romans 1:18-20; 2: 6-16; Luke 12:42-48. The Mount Sinai agreement that demanded the people fulfil the Law perfectly, was a schoolmaster covenant, cf. Gal. 3:24-25, a test, cf. Ex. 20:20 to teach the people: “ If the transgressor is to be treated according to the letter of this covenant, then there is no hope for the fallen race; 6BC 1095.4. Paul understood the two covenants represent the divided church. “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). He says that there is an Israel according to the flesh,” Rom. 9:3 and an “Israel of God. ” Gal. 6:16, cf. Rom 8:5, 6.

As Sinai stood for law without mercy (Ex. 23:21), so the s a n c tu a r y s t ood f or m e rcy as we ll as l aw . 6BC 964 (1953 edition. Words in red deleted in later editions.)

The terms of the “old covenant” were, Obey and live: " If a man do , he shall even live in them" (Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5); but “cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” Deuteronomy 27:26. The " new covenant " was established upon " better promises "–the promise of forgiveness of sins and of the grace (assisting power) of God to renew the heart and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law. {PP 372.1}

Under the new covenant, the conditions by which eternal life may be gained, are the same as under the old — perfect obedience . Under the old covenant, there were many offences of a daring, presumptuous character, for which there was no atonement specified by law. In the new and better covenant, Christ has fulfilled the law for the transgressors of the law, if they receive Him by faith as a personal Saviour.In the better covenant we are cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ (letter 276, 1904). 7BC 931.

If the transgressor is to be treated according to the letter of this covenant, then there is no hope for the fallen race; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The fallen race of Adam can behold nothing else in the letter of this covenant than the ministration of death; and death will be the reward of everyone who is seeking vainly to fashion a righteousness of his own that will fulfill the claims of the law. (ST Sept. 5, 1892). {6BC 1095.4}

Moses was overwhelmed. He had just come from the presence of God’s glory, and though he had been warned of what was taking place, he was unprepared for that dreadful exhibition of the degradation of Israel. His anger was hot. To show his abhorrence of their crime, he threw down the tables of stone, and they were broken in the sight of all the people , thus signifying that as they had broken their covenant with God, so God had broken His covenant with them. {PP 320.1}

The question, What is the sanctuary? is clearly answered in the Scriptures. The term “sanctuary,” as used in the Bible, refers, first, to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern of heavenly things; and, secondly, to the “true tabernacle” in heaven, to which the earthly sanctuary pointed. At the death of Christ the typical service ended. The “true tabernacle” in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant. And as the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 is fulfilled in this dispensation, the sanctuary to which it refers must be the sanctuary of the new covenant. At the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, there had been no sanctuary on earth for many centuries. Thus the prophecy, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” unquestionably points to the sanctuary in heaven. {GC 417.1}

Night before last I was shown that evidences in regard to the covenants were clear and convincing. Yourself, Brother Dan Jones, Brother Porter and others are spending your investigative powers for naught to produce a position on the covenants to vary from the position that Brother Waggoner has presented”, (letter 59, 1890).

I know that some there accepted it; others rejected it entirely, — others tried to stand half way between, and get it that way. GCB 1893, P 185.

The promise of redemption made to Adam and his posterity is still available to all men from all nations on an individual basis today. cf. Ephesians 2:5; Romans 11:6; Romans 5:15. cf. Heb. 4:1, 2.

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Is that really where it points? Our bewildered pioneers didn’t notice that Dan 8:14 gave the answer to the question of how long the daily sacrifices would be interrupted. The answer was that the sanctuary would be trodden under foot for the space of 2300 evening and morning sacrifices.

NOBODY interrupted sacrificing anywhere–especially in heaven(!)–for 2300 years, then resumed it in 1844.

Of course Antiochus IV Epiphanes prevented 2300 sacrifices, but I don’t think Ellen White ever mentioned that.

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Hi Harry,

You are quite correct in saying, " NOBODY interrupted sacrificing anywhere– especially in heaven(!)–for 2300 years , then resumed it in 1844. "

Then you said," Of course Antiochus IV Epiphanes prevented 2300 sacrifices, but I don’t think Ellen White ever mentioned that." How do you reconcile this statement in the light of the first, " NOBODY interrupted sacrificing anywhere ?"

Would you agree that the second statement, concerning " Antiochus IV Epiphanes " stands or falls on the added word “sacrifice?”

The Hebrew word translated " daily " is generally considered to mean “continual.” If this is the case, it appears to be logical the daily applies to something that has a dual application. It applies to something that continues on the one hand, but also applies to something that is closely related to it that is taken away for a period of time, before being restored. i.e. to something the Papacy took away on earth, cf. 12:11.

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your take is way too literal for what the passage in question implies…Dan 8 is a bit more lofty than the fleeting 9yr reign of antiochus “epimanes”, or the “mad one”…

The word translate “daily” (tamid) is what the Jews called their evening and morning sacrifices. The papacy didn’t cause anything to cease for 2300 anythings. They didn’t set a foot in heaven, much less tread it down.

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World war II was even shorter. The “fleeting” occupation by Antiochus was important enough that Jews still celebrate its termination (every December).

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The Bible isn’t entirely what we wish it to be. Yahweh is represented as telling Israel to murder a nation because they wouldn’t let a horde of people tromp across their land. My faith tells me God’s like the post says, but the Bible sometimes disagrees.

How many times does the Bible say He actually sent the hornets, by the way?

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Harry, again I agree with you, As much as our scholars want us to believe a Papal host has entered heaven —, It is complete nonsense. However do you agree with the questions in my first response.

the jews, according to my grandpa, who was a jew, celebrate everything…so what’s your point…

what’s important to note about daniel’s 2300 day prophecy, coming as it does after another dream, Dan 2, and vision, Dan 7, that trace centuries upon centuries of world dominions until the establishment of the kingdom of christ at the end of the world, as we know it - notice that christ was seen in the fiery furnace in Dan 3, and referenced by nebuchadnezzar, belshazzar, and darius in Dan 4-6 - is that it’s subject is christ, and what transpires after the kingdoms of the world come and go…it isn’t about a pathetic figure, perceived by contemporaries as “mad”, who did nothing more substantial than inherit an inconsequential throne for 9 measly yrs…this perspective is too minuscule for what this prophecy, and in fact this book, discusses…

notice the involvement of heaven in the cascade of events predicted in Dan 7…this is an uptick of the parallel of events on earth and in heaven hinted at in Dan 1- 6, and consolidated in Dan 8…in Dan 9 we see that the beginning of the 2300 day prophecy is explicitly about christ, his sacrifice, and the anointing of the heavenly sanctuary, where he would minister as high priest…the focal point of Dan 8, itself, is the transition of christ’s high priestly ministry from the HP in the heavenly sanctuary - the daily - to its MHP (Dan 12 marks the end of christ’s high priestly ministry in heaven)…Daniel 8 is relatively rich in sacrificial animal metaphors…it fleshes out the identity of the little horn introduced in Dan 7, with the adjective “little” being significant, since, even though it reigned for centuries, and successfully interposed itself between believers and christ’s mediation in heaven, it is little in comparison to the everlasting power of christ…

the compound 2300 day vision is much more than an escapist answer to a localized concern daniel may have felt…it is in fact cosmic in scope, and so vast, daniel fainted afterwards, and certainly had no understanding of it, even after gabriel broke down the beginning of it…daniel in fact was instructed to “shut” the 2300 day vision up, with the explicit understanding that it had no imminent historical application…

in reality this very great vision shows what christ must accomplished on earth and in heaven before the empires of this world, never mind little antiochus epiphanies, vanish in order to make room for christ’s permanent kingdom…it is the greatest messianic prophecy in the entire bible…

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Hi Jeremy.

Regarding the identity of the LH of Dan. 8 being the same as the LH of Dan. 7.
Have you considered the many differences associated with these two LH powers. Cf. the following differences.

That one arose before Christ the other arose after Christ, cf. 2:33.
The LH of 8:9 was a political power that ruled until 1453 A.D.
The LH of 7:8 was and is a religious power who initially ruled for 1260 years.
History, Daniel and John reveal these two powers ruled concurrently for 915 years’
These two powers are represented by the symbols of iron and clay in Daniel 2:33.
The first iron power of 2:33 was Rome, the LH power of 8:9
The miry clay power of 2:41, expanded upon in Dan 7, the Papacy, is another LH power.
Both LH powers, Rome and the Papacy, were small to begin with and became great.
The iron mixed with miry clay of 2:41 applies to the union of church and state.
The first union of church and state involved Rome and the Papacy in 538 A.D.

Admittedly there are a number of similarities associated with the LH’s of Dan 7 and 8, but how many differences must there be before it is recognized these LH’s represent different kingdom powers who not only ruled concurrently for 915 years, but united to overthrow the 3 horn kingdoms of 7:8?

the differences you’re citing are interpretational differences, not textual ones…you’re treating conjecture as if it’s fact…

the important thing to note is the similarity and singularity of the subject in Dan 7 and 8 - the little horn, not the little horn vs the large horn, or the little horn vs the large horn who began as a little horn - and the similarity and singularity of its blasphemous tendencies…there is also the important fact that both chapters add details that collectively describe very well what we know was the papacy…

more importantly, when this 2300 day prophecy is seen as a messianic prophecy, explicitly identified as such during its first 490 days in Dan 9, there can be only one secondary subject that fits into this context, and that is the papacy…

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May I suggest history is not interpretational, and if we are using the Historical grammatical method of interpretation, it is one of the tests that determines whether the interpretation is sound.

further to the last.

Daniel is quite clear the first four kingdoms rule sequentially. However Adventists have Rome and Greece ruling concurrently for 138 years, Historically Greece did not fall in 168 B.C as the southern kingdom did not fall until 30 BC.

Furthermore Rome did not fall in 476 A.D as it was Justinian the Emperor of Eastern Rome who declared the Pope to be head of all the churches in Eastern and Western Rome in 538 A.D.

It is quite clear from history that Rome continued to rule eastern Rome until 1453, and the Papacy continued to rule until 1798 A.D.

Thus the question, why wont we accept the LH of 7:8 is “another LH, that is diverse from the first,” cf. 7:24?

Is it because we are too prod to admit we got it wrong!!

there are a lot of people who think antiochus IV epiphanes’ persecution of jews is an historical fulfillment of the 2300 day prophecy…but just because we can find an historical event that fits our hypothesis doesn’t mean we’ve established that that hypothesis is sound…it’s really best to look within the text for clues…

this “diverse from all / diverse from the first” phrase refers to a beast in Dan 7:7, but a little horn in Dan 7:24…it cannot be used to establish superimposability, since the subjects are entirely different…

i don’t think anyone is averse to admitting error if error can be demonstrated…but if something is thought to be errant merely because it doesn’t line up with someone’s suppositions, there’s no need for admissions of any kind…

many interpretations are possible through distortions of the text, or through distortions of the context, or through distorted premises, that aren’t acknowledged, or even perceived…and something can be logical, but quite incorrect…the adventist interpretation of the 2300 day prophecy has the advantage of internal coherence, textual fidelity, and correspondence with known historical events…and it lines up with other doctrines we teach…there’s no incentive for any of it to be changed…

Jeremy,
you have not addressed the point of history. 40 odd years ago when I pointed out this historical discrepancy, and asked the question, “why don’t we just admit we have changed history to suit our theology,” I was told it was a good question and deserved an answer." I am still waiting for a sensible answer that recognizes Rome and the Papacy were on the scene together for around 1,000 years.

Isn’t it time we admitted:
(A). The 10 horn kingdoms did not overthrow the Roman Empire, that was finally achieved by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D.
(B). No Roman emperor gave his kingdom to the Papacy. It is an established fact that the document claiming this, has been proved to be a forgery. cf. the document commonly referred to as the forgery of Constantine.

Over the last forty years no one has disputed the above events of history, or provided credible evidence to the contrary. The one answer from leading men that appears to have some legs, is that “We do not want to upset the saints, we do not want another Glacier View.”

Of course everyone knows the consequences of questioning what ever the current teaching is. In spite of all this, we are told, and I believe it, the church “enfeebled and defective” is the “apple of Christ’s eye.”

ok, i have to confess that i’m not clear on what your exact objection is, although i am becoming increasingly curious…each of your comments seems to want to open up a new issue, although occasionally, i’m not really seeing any difference between what you’re saying and what i believe our traditional position is…

is it your view that our traditional view is basically correct, but wrong in some details, or are you saying that everything is totally wrong, and needs to be revamped…is this a situation where you aren’t seeing correspondence between every particular in our church’s take on danielic prophecy and what you accept as historical fulfilment, and are you suggesting that what you accept as historical fulfilment should be used to redo, or at least refine, our understanding…and what, exactly, are you saying some have been afraid would turn into another glacier view if agitated, and so are saying shouldn’t be…you seem to conclude that our church is enfeebled and defective, but still the apple of god’s eye, which i don’t believe anyone disputes…

full disclosure: i think glacier view was totally justified…

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Hi Jeremy,

You are correct on two counts.

  1. “i’m not really seeing any difference between what you’re saying and what i believe our traditional position is……”
  2. “is it your view that our traditional view is basically correct, but wrong in some details,”

The Pioneers were given a great deal of light, as much as was needed for the time, 1844 especially. However, as I suspect you are aware some of the historical aspects of the original book, the Great Controversy, were revealed to be inaccurate and were corrected, together with the counsel that should any further mistakes be found, they should be corrected as well. This counsel, I believe applies to our current application of the book of Daniel and to 8:9-14 in particular.

So what? As it is generally accepted prophecy is the foreknowledge of historical events, the interpretation of prophecy must be consistent with the historical event.
Another basic principle that is conveniently overlooked is: " If the plain word of Scripture makes sense, seek no other explanation," cf. also 2 Chron. 20:20.

In a nut shell, If these basic principles of interpretation are applied strictly and consistently, beginning in chapter 2 of Daniel, there are some uncomfortable facts regarding the current understanding of the book of Daniel that need to be addressed.

As this blog is about to close, and as the ramifications of the current church teachings are so critical, there is not time or space to address this fully on this forum.

I believe the Pioneers general understanding of Daniel 8:9-14 which is totally different to the current church position is basically correct.

You may be interested in the following response from the SS Department, 10/02/2020, “the church does not have an “official” position on the exact meaning of those verses, even though the role of Rome is pretty much foundational to our understanding of it. —.”

Full disclosure: If our scholars had come together seeking unity there would not have been a need for Glacier View in the first place. Unfortunately nothing has changed and as a result few are interested in this foundation doctrine today, nor are likely to be, until our scholars come together in the unity of the Truth.

Happy to share further. ranald.mcleish@hotmail.com