30 November, 2018

8. The Flora of Heaven


8. The Flora of Heaven



Wisdom dwells in the highest heaven, beckoning all who desire her, “Come hither and eat of my fruit.” 
Folly whispers, “Eat in secret sweet stolen food,” but those who heed her words dwell in the depths of death.
 
—Proverbs 9:17 & Ecclesiasticus 24:19

Wisdom as a Fruit Tree


According to the Bible, wisdom existed from the beginning. And both scripture and other Jewish texts symbolically speak of wisdom as being a tree. (The Chronicles of Time series opens with Lucifer obsessed with trying to figure out why King Elyon keeps a certain tree locked away. Ultimately, this obsession leads to his downfall, and the downfall of all mankind.)



The Tree of Life


Technically, the Tree of Life is not in heaven. At least, it's not in heaven proper, it's in the New Jerusalem, which in Eternity Future resides on the New Earth. Its fruit is said to give healing to the nations.


Two Olive Trees


Zechariah 4 describes two olive trees and an oil stand. Though most would say the two trees are symbolic with the two sages whom they represent. I tend to agree, though I use both concepts in CoT (the sages stand on pillars organically cultivated from two olive trees).

This concludes our look at Eternity Past (and the world building of Heaven, God's abode). The next post begins our journey into history and His story.

Now the real fun begins.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons / Creative Commons /  No Attribution Found: Link Broken and/or Expired.


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28 November, 2018

7. Heaven's Bestiary


7. Heaven's Bestiary


The Bible (and thus The Chronicles of Time) has an amazing bestiary. Most of these creatures are mentioned only in the Apocalypse of John (Revelation), but some are mentioned in the Old Testament as well.

1) Four Living Creatures—in the Bible, these creatures make an appearance in God's throne room, though in CoT they are gargoyle-like creatures that guard the throne room doors.


2) Horses of Fire—in 2 Kings, these are the mounts the angels ride. In CoT, they are not actually made of fire, but have coats of metallic amber with golden manes and tails that give the impression of flaming horses, especially when in motion. They also have a shimmering aura so to a mortal, they would appear to be like fire even when standing still. They also have wings, since they fly from heaven to earth and back again.


3) White Horse—the Bible says Jesus makes his return on a white horse, Again, since this horse flies from heaven to earth, in CoT, it is a pegasus. Actually, I made it a unicorn, as the unicorn has been a symbol of Christ since the early church. 4th century theologian Basil of Caesarea wrote, "Christ is the power of God, therefore He is called the Unicorn on the ground that He has one horn, that is, one common power with the Father." (Exegetic Homilies). Ambrose, bishop of Milan, said, "Who then is this unicorn but the only-begotten Son of God?" (Patrologia Latina). And Tertullian called the unicorn a symbol of Christ (Adversus Marcionem 3.18).


4) Chimera—while these lion-headed, serpent-tailed horses (who breathe fire) are unnamed in the Bible, I chose to use the closest mythological nomenclature. In the last post, I mentioned that the Bible speaks of four angels chained beneath the Euphrates River who lead an army of theses creatures during the apocalypse. (There's more to it than that, but then I'd be giving away spoilers). In CoT, the demons ride these creatures, and the venom from the serpent's fangs is toxic to angels.

Photo Credit: Throne Room Invitation. Copyright fenrysk-art. Used with Permission.
Other Photo Credits: Public Domain / Creative Commons / Copyright JC Lamont


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26 November, 2018

6. The Angel Armies


6. The Angel Armies



"Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation … and all the angels shouted for joy?"
—Job 38:4, 7


Since the Bible states that the angels were witnesses to the creation, many Bible scholars assume they were created outside of time (before Day One). The Hebrew word for angel is Malak (the term I use for angels in CoT), which means messenger.

Over 200 times throughout the Bible, God is referred to as Yehovah tsaba', often translated "the Lord of hosts." According to Blue Letter Bible, hosts means: army, war, warfare, host of organised army. So Eugene Patterson's translation of the Bible, The Message, is spot on when it translates Yehovah tsaba' as God of the Angel Armies, a phrase in the hit song:

Whom Shall I Fear? by Chris Tomlin

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind

The God of Angel Armies

Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of Angel Armies
Is always by my side.

A few decades ago, angles were portrayed as little babies with wings. Today, angels are often portrayed as fierce warriors. And while this is a definite improvement, some of them are still not what we normally envision.

Biblical Classes of Angels:

1) Cherubim—examples include Lucifer, the two angels who guarded the entrance to the garden in Eden, and likely it is they that make up the armies as Michael and his angels fight Lucifer and his angels.

2) Seraphim—they possess 3 sets of wings and sing to God in the throne room (in CoT, these are female, though the Bible implies all angels are genderless).

3) "Locusts"—since the description of these locusts resembles that of winged centaurs with scorpion tails that is how I portray them in CoT.
Copyright JC Lamont
4) Ophanim—though described in Ezekiel as the wheels of God's chariot, they are actual beings in the Book of Enoch (a book not recognized as scripture, but none the less a text held in high esteem by scripture writers, including Jesus' own brother, Jude, who quotes it in the Bible). The Bible tells us there are four angels from an unknown class chained beneath the Euphrates, so in CoT, I have deemed these four from the class of Ophanim.

No reason is given for this unusual punishment, but the Bible does tell us they lead an army of creatures which resemble a cross between the chimera and the manticore of mythology. More on them on our next post.

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23 November, 2018

5. Heaven and God's Throne Room


5. Heaven and God's Throne Room



"You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens (universe), the heaven of heavens (God's abode) with all their host (angels), the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them. And the heavenly host (angels) bows down before You." 
—Nehemiah 9:6

Some people interpret the word "heaven" in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens..."  to mean on day one of Creation week, God created his abode and all the angels. But the Hebrew word for heavens, Shamayim, (the name I use in CoT for God's abode) can be:

1) God's abode 
2) the universe / outer space 
3) the sky / earth's atmosphere

And as we will see next week, the angels (and presumably their place of abode) were created before the foundations of the earth were laid, therefore they are outside time and space. But in this post, we will first get a glance of the setting where God and his angelic warriors dwell.

There aren't many descriptions of heaven in the Bible, so please bear with me as I use examples from CoT of what I was able to piece together from scant, and sometimes obscure, Biblical references. (If you're a fan of CoT and familiar with the biblical descriptions, but notice the absence of a few particulars in the series, rest assured, it is not an oversight on my part, but something that comes to play as the story progresses.)

All of the following from CoT have scriptural references:

God's throne
The jeweled veil behind the throne
The stones of fire (which Lucifer crosses to accept the sword that can slay immortals)
The palace (or wherever God keeps his throne) sits on top of a mountain
The four creatures that guard the entrance to the throne room
The Glass Sea (in CoT, this is where the angels witness Creation, and Michael often visits to watch over mankind)
The Holy Spirit's lampstand (in CoT, I call him the Shekinah)
The olive trees
The oil pitcher and bowl
God's chariot (featured in Unbreakable Vow and Anathema)

While not located in heaven, these also have scriptural reference:
the black key to the gates of death
the door of the abyss

So Very little in the way of CoT's world building is fictional. And even those things that are "fictional" are based on scriptural concepts, such as:

the weapon involved in the killing of the lamb who was slain
the gold key which Lucifer holds so dear
Lucifer's collar
Michael's onyx trionicle (that controls the collar)
and every supernatural creature in Shamayim (yes, all of them)...but that's for next week's post entitled: The Angel Armies.

I would give the scriptural references to all these things, but then you would get spoilers. So if you really want to know, you're gonna have to search the scriptures for yourself. 😜

But I'll be nice and give you one example: These are the verses used to describe King Elyon (particularly during the revolt scene):

...on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, 
as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around... 
 This was the appearance of the likeness
of the glory of the Lord."
 —Ezekiel 1:26-28 

Swordcraft Tip: Highlight Nehemiah 9:6 in the color designated for spiritual warfare. Write the reference (Nehemiah. 9:6) in the margin by Genesis 1:1.

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22 November, 2018

4. The Eternality of God


4. The Eternality of God


So by now you may have given up on this study ever starting with Genesis, or even John 1:1, as both passages that start with "In the beginning..."

But "In the beginning..." means at the beginning, as in the commencement of Creation / the beginning of Time.

What we have been discussing is before the beginning.
Before Creation. Before Time.

Eternity does not have a beginning.

There are three phases in God's redemptive plan: Eternity Past. Time. Eternity Future.

Physicists usually define Time by its measurement. And most physicists agree that time had a beginning. Indeed, according to the prevailing cosmological model, time itself began as part of the entire universe.

So Time began at the beginning of the universe (measurement by "evening and morning, the first day" Gen 1:3), and it will end with the passing away of this world (Revelation 21:1), and the creation of the new world which will not have a sun, and thus no measurement (Revelation 22:5).

So what existed before Time? What existed in eternity past?

The Father Isaiah 57:15 and Psalm 93:2

"For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place." (ESV)

"Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity." (NIV)
"Your throne, O LORD, has been firm from the beginning, and you existed before time began." (Good News Translation)

The Son Colossians 1:17a and Micah 5:2b

"He is before all things." (ESV)
"He existed before anything else." (NLT)

"...[One] whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity." (Berean Bible)
"...[One] whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (King James Version)
"...His origin is from antiquity, from eternity." (Holman)

You are probably more familiar with the first half of Micah 5:2, quoted by Matthew about Jesus' birth, and slapped onto millions of Christmas cards each year: "But [from] you, O Bethlehem, shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity."

Why didn't Matthew quote the whole verse? I have no idea (though of course the Bible wasn't broken into verses in those days, but still...). That verse is certainly the end all of the idea that Jesus' existence began in a stable (or in Nazareth within his mother's womb).

The Spirit Hebrews 9:14

"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!"

For those of you who write in your Bible, these are some great verses to highlight or make notes for in the margins.

Swordcraft Tip: In the color you designated for Eternity, highlight Isaiah 57:15, Psalm 93:2, Colossians 1:17a, Micah 5:2b, and Hebrews 9:14.

Image Copyright © JC Lamont

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21 November, 2018

3. The Book of Life


3. The Book of Life


"The book of life written before time . . ." — Apocalypse 17:8

Yup. We're still in Revelation. Pretty cool, right?

Revelation says the book belongs to the Lamb who was slain. In other words, Jesus, or as I like to call him in CoT, the Prince.

While the Bible says the book of life was written before the Creation of the world, it does not say what it is was written in.

In CoT, I have the Prince write it in blood.

(Can anyone guess where the blood came from? Yea, it's a bit macabre. But it also seemed to fit the overall Biblical idea that blood is the highest form of payment one could offer.)

Think about that for a second: He wrote your name.

Yes, you. Whether you are an agnostic, Muslim, Jew, Christian, or even atheist, he wrote your name.

(Gasp! She's a universalist. Heretic!)

No worries, dear reader. Check out Exodus 32:33.

“Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book." —God.

So before the beginning of time, every name of every person who would ever live was in that book. But at some point, likely upon death, names get blotted out. Of course, everyone sins, which would seem to imply everyone's name was blotted out, but since we know some names survive (cuz those who do get VIP access to the Prince's kingdom for eternity, Rev 21:27), it's not quite that cut and dried.

But anyway...

Assuming you are alive as you read this (unless there's Wi-fi in the Netherworld), your name is in there. He wants you to be a part of his future kingdom. It's up to you if you want that too.

The Prince wrote your name.

Art by Caleb Havertape. © Copyright JC Lamont.


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20 November, 2018

2. The Lamb who was Slain


2. The Lamb who was Slain



"I saw a Lamb...as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes...slain from the foundation of the world." —Apocalypse 5:6, 13:8

Why does a chronological Bible study start with the last book of the Bible?

Strange as it may seem, it is the Bible that is not chronological (that's why there are so many Chronological Bibles out there). However, even those—as far as I know—don't start in Revelation (a.k.a Apocalypse) with the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

But that is precisely where His story begins, and thus it is where this blog (and The Chronicles of Time) starts.

So who killed the lamb?

Well, who killed Jesus?

Roman soldiers? The Jews? Pilate? Caiaphas and the rest of the Sanhedrin?

Nope.

According to the Bible, Jesus was killed by his Father.

Bluntly put, God killed him.

"God did not spare his own Son but gave him up [to be killed]." (Romans 8:32). As the International Standard Version puts it, "[God] did not spare his own Son, but offered him as a sacrifice for all of us."

"This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." (Acts 2:23).

"We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God. . . . It was the will of Jehovah* to crush him; he (his Father) has put him to grief." (Isaiah 53:4, 10).

"God put [him] forward as a propitiation by his blood."  (Romans 3:25)

The image of the lamb, by the way, is from the Redemption Trading Card game, a simpler version of Magic: The Gathering. I don't know of any other Christian TCG, and it's pretty cool in its own right. I have several decks, and hope to one day have every single expansion pack. Check it out at Three Lions Gaming.

*Anytime you see LORD in the Old Testament, it is in place of the sacred name (YHWH, aka Yahweh, aka Jehovah). Jehovah, while not the closest to the actual name (which is technically unknown as Hebrew has no vowels), is my preferrence, thus the one I use here. In the CoT series, I use a fictional variant spelling, Jehuva).

Photo Credit: Three Lions Gaming: Redemption TCG

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19 November, 2018

1. I Am Who I Am


1. I Am Who I Am


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From Exodus 3:14, often translated as God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”

(Ha! You thought we were going to start in Genesis, didn't you?)

The transliteration is ’ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh.

There are 3 main schools of thought on the correct translation:
  1. I am who am
  2. I will be what I will be.
  3. I am the Being One, as in the Uncreated Self-existent One.
I personally believe #3 is the most accurate interpretation. However, I must admit, I find the following alternative by professor Christine Hayes quite intriguing:

"Some have argued that the name Yahweh expresses the quality of being, an active, dynamic being...who brings things into being, whether it’s a cosmos from chaos, or now a new nation from a band of runaway slaves. But it could well be that this is simply God’s way of not answering Moses’ question...I’ve often wondered if we’re to read this differently: Who am I? I am who I am, and never you mind."  Descriptions of God in the Bible

After all, when Jacob asks with whom he is wrestling, the reply is "What is that to you?" (Genesis 32:29)

When Moses informs the figure in the pillar of light that they've reached a dead end, blocked by the Red/Reed Sea with an enemy army approaching, the answer is, "Why do you come crying to me?" (Exodus 14:15)

And when Joshua asks, Are you on our side or the enemies side? the reply is, "Neither." (Joshua 5:14)

I am reminded of this scene from The Last Jedi:


Whatever I expected Luke's response to be at seeing his old light saber again, it was certainly not tossing it off a cliff. And I'm sure Jacob, Moses, and Joshua were not expecting the answers God gave them in the above examples.

So as you join me on this journey through His Story, expect the unexpected.

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