Podcast Date: May 18, 2017
Speakers in the audio file:
Jon: Okay. This is the question and response episode to The Day of the Lord. We did a
six-part podcast series on Day of the Lord. Six hours of us talking about The Day of
Tim: Holy cow.
Jon: And many of you listened to it. I think it was really beneficial. It was beneficial for
me. I think a lot of other people found it beneficial.
Tim: Yeah. I was really stimulated too. It was great. I learned a lot.
Jon: But it left a lot of questions remaining, and so, we want to spend a little bit of time
answering some of those questions.
Tim: Yeah. Like, all of life's most significant questions, there's no way that six hours can
scratch the surface.
Jon: Remember, we're not using that metaphor anymore.
Tim: Oh, scratch surface? Oh, yes.
Jon: I don't like it.
Jon: I don't remember what the solution was.
Tim: I think I replaced it with cave spelunking.
Tim: Because when you think you got to the deepest chamber, and then you realize, "Oh,
there's more," it's like that.
Jon: Cool. We haven't spelunked deep enough. So, the reason why we call this Q&R,
question, and response, why do we call it Q&R?
Tim: Oh, well, question and answer is so presumptuous. For some of these types of
questions, we just said, there are more or less faithful responses. But for some
questions like this, there's no way that one simple answer can do justice to a
complex, large topic, like God's justice on human evil. It's so multifaceted. And so
yes, we just call it Q&R.
We're happy to respond to every question, but that doesn't mean that our response
is comprehensive or doesn't leave room for any more question.
Jon: Right. It's not definitive.
Tim: Yeah. I just feel like the road of humility is to say, "I have a response, and I think it's
right, but asked me in five years after I've read and thought some more, and I might
actually have a better response."
Jon: And any of these questions could turn into an hour-long dialogue.
Tim: Yes. So John's going to force me to not allow that to happen.
Jon: Oh, well, I better not continue to ask questions on behalf of these people or it will
happen. Our first question comes from Andrew Fyle, and here it is.
Andrew: Hey, guys. Andrew from Fresno, California. Thanks for the video. I've noticed that
how you view The Day of the Lord has a lot of implications from how you serve and
how you engage the world. How do you go about having conversations with folks
that have one of the extreme views that the world is going to burn and you know,
it's a picture of violence and wrath? How do you go about having conversations and
challenging that view with those you interact with? Thanks, guys.
Tim: Yeah, really great question, Andrew. I mean, there's one sense in which any view you
hold on The Day of the Lord will always be an extreme view because it's an extreme
claim to make. No matter what your view is of how it will happen, it's a view that
Jon: Something extreme will happen.
Tim: Yeah. A crucified Jewish man, 2,000 years ago, was claimed to be raised from the
dead in his invisible presence is with his followers for however long, leading up to
the day when he's going to come physically, again and remove evil, confront it, from
the world. That's a very extreme view to hold on whatever the meaning of life yeah.
So, it makes sense why everybody's understanding of how this goes down is going
to create some kind of extreme response. It certainly can't be milk toast in how you
hold that kind of view.
Jon: Milk toast?
Tim: Milk toast.
Jon: What is that?
Tim: It's just a phrase that means blur?
Jon: I don't know that phrase.
Tim: Lukewarm. I'm trying to think of a non-figurative speech to—
Jon: Well, I get it now, but where does that come from? Milk toast?
Tim: Milk toast. Sorry. Aren't you supposed to keep me from these rabbit trails?
Jon: Ah, I just need to know now.
Tim: Urban dictionary, milk toast was often given to sick people as a bland diet. Easy on
the digestive tract. Milk toast soaked in milk.
Jon: It's toast soaked in milk?
Tim: Yeah. It's given to those who are sickly or weak.
Jon: So it's the idea of, I'm going to give you a response that really won't irritate you?
Tim: Yeah, totally. Yeah, that's right. Wow, milk toast.
Jon: That's great. Milk toast.
Tim: Anyhow, great question.
Jon: So your view won't be toast soaked in milk?
Tim: Yeah. Nobody's view is going to be average. It's not an average view to hold about
how short history will culminate. Some people believe that the world will be
engulfed and great violence instigated or connected to Jesus return, or that the
cosmos is going to be dissolved by divine fire, or that Jesus' defeat of evil is going to
be as equally as creative and surprising as is robbing evil of its power by the
crucifixion which blew everybody's mind.
So I think the point you said, Andrew, is really great, is a conversation. You relate to
people have different views by trying to understand them. Why do they hold that
view? Very few people hold a view on something that they don't think there are
So somebody who has a different view has what, in their mind, are good reasons.
And so I should try and understand those sympathetically because I might be
missing something. And then, you get to a place where if you disagree, you disagree.
But the theology nerd term for this whole set of questions and issues in the Bible is
eschatology. It just means final things. The precise doctrine about the details of how
history will end and Jesus' return has never been a matter of core orthodoxy in the
In other words, Jesus, the Son of God died for the sins of the world, was raised from
the dead, he'll return. This is apostles creed, classical Catholics, Protestants, whoever
agrees how and when Jesus will return, and what's the precise manner of him.
Like Christians have disagreed, as far back as we can tell, from the earliest centuries
going out, there is no orthodox view. There are just different views that some people
think are more faithful or less faithful to the Bible. But those definitions differ from
group to group. And so we just need a lot of humility and talking about these types
of difficult topics in the Bible.
Jon: One view that is very prevalent in western Christianity—
Tim: Is just the view that many American Protestants have grown up in or something. Is
that what you're thinking?
Jon: Yeah. The view that I grew up in and many American Protestants grew up in, is this
very clear timeline of apocalyptic events that are going to happen on the
geopolitical stage and then tied to the earth being destroyed and all that stuff.
What's difficult is when you hold a view like that, it has a lot of implications on your
politics, and it has implications on how you decide you're going to live on the planet,
take care of the planet or not. So many real-life implications. And so I think part of
his question is, if this has so many implications for your life, and if you have an
extreme view, then it's creating extreme implications. Right?
Tim: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, totally.
Jon: It's very difficult to let go of certain conceptions that have really formed your
imagination. So I think you're being really generous when you say, "You could just
talk to someone and just kind of work it out." I think people get really rooted in their
Tim: Well, I don't know about "work it out." I think most people just stay in whatever
tradition formed their ideas about this topic in the first place. But switching, you
know, listening to different voices that are really seriously engaging the Bible, but
that offer a different point of view, takes a lot of humility to be open to changing
your view and then changing your lifestyle or the tradition of Christianity you
associate with because of that.
But this goes back to just being a follower of Jesus. I think this is just 101, like
following Jesus requires a conviction about who Jesus is, but always recognizing, "I
am probably fundamentally mistaken in many things that I believe about the whole
And it's not being wishy-washy. It's just saying, "I should always be open to another
point of view, especially if it's a view that's really somebody who's taking Jesus's
teachings in the Scripture seriously." And so, yes, different Christians will come to
fundamentally opposite conclusions and ways of life because of some of these
Jon: And someone's wrong?
Tim: Yeah, somebody's wrong.
Jon: Or everyone's wrong.
Tim: It's always the other person. I remember a number of my early professor showed me
this drawing of - there are many ways you can do it - but concentric circles. And at
the core is what classic Christian orthodoxy; what is named earlier. Jesus is Son of
God. God embodied as a human, lived, died for our sins, was raised, he's bringing his
kingdom once for all. Amen. That's at the center.
And the moment you don't hold any of those things, I don't know why you would
want to be associated with a Christian movement, other than it's maybe has a good
moral teaching. But to hold those things is to be a Christian.
But then around that is a whole bunch of really important issues. The fact that you
hold this or that view on baptism, or how a church ought to be organized, or
structured, or how people interact with the Holy Spirit, or what's the work of the
Holy Spirit right now, those are really important things, but they have historically had
really diverse groups of Christians with different ideas. And so that's the second tier
out, and we should be able to respectfully differ.
And then you can get a third tier out from there. Actually, I think out there is where
the stuff about eschatology and the timing, and nature of the return of Jesus is.
Tim: But some people would fundamentally disagree with my tier system.
Jon: Yeah, totally.
Tim: I've good friends. I've met people who actually think that that's the center. It's all one
package; you can't separate it out. And I disagree.
Jon: I mean, how can it be a third tier thing when it implicates how you think human
history is going to go down?
Tim: I don't mean third tier in terms of less important. I'm just talking about third tier in
our degree of certainty about the views that we hold on this very important topic.
The topic is extremely important. What I'm putting in the third tier is the degree of
confidence or certainty that I'm going to have that I am correct.
That's the temperament thing I guess, but I think it's a temperament that all of Jesus
we're should have because that's how Jesus rolled. You know what I'm saying? Be
humble, and don't take yourself too seriously.
Jon: That's a Jesus quote?
Tim: Oh, sorry, that's me paraphrasing. That's me paraphrasing like, "Don't worry.
Tomorrow's got enough worries of its own. You worry about being faithful in this
moment?" I'm trying to summarize the Sermon on the mountain and I'm not doing a
very good job anyway.
Jon: All right. So this leads us into a good question by Matthew Leddy.
Matthew: Thanks for the work you do. My question is, how orthodox is the information you
presented on The Day of the Lord? In my post-truth culture, it is hard enough to
have an open dialogue with my evangelical friends about topics like this that have
marinated in pop culture for so many years. I am wondering where these general
views as you presented them fall along the spectrum of Orthodox Christian thought.
Are there certain ideas that are more controversial than others?
Jon: Before you answer that question, let's do a really quick summary of what the view is
that's we're discussing. Because I don't think there was this one really clear, like, this
Tim: We really intentionally try and craft all our videos that they are capable of fitting
within many views on most topics.
Jon: But people listen through six hours of us talking, and they come away going, "Oh,
this is a view." How would you describe the view, do you think?
Tim: Oh, well. The biblical view?
Tim: I'm breaking down rule of not being humble right now. I was introduced to all of this
in a class that I first took in college on Christian eschatology. I learned all about the
history of views on the millennium, and this thousand years of Jesus raining, and
what that refers to, tribulation, rapture, final judgment, all that. So there are views on
all of those things. And so, I read all those books and had to figure out position
papers and all that kind of thing.
Then I took even another class, a graduate level class on the same topic when I got
to seminary. But over the years, as I've gone on and just read the Bible, the Bible
doesn't fit cleanly into any of these systems. They're like some pieces that seem to
point towards some of those views, and some don't.
So there's actually very little of what we talked about in those Day of the Lord
podcasts that you can't find in almost all commentaries, good commentaries, that
are engaging the prophetic literature, biblical narrative - the book of Revelation,
apocalyptic stuff in the New Testament.
Probably, the one thing that I have developed a firm conviction about is the nature
of nonviolence in Jesus' mission, which nobody disagrees about in terms of his
ministry. He was obviously nonviolence.
Where Christians have differed is the role of divine violence in the Old Testament,
and how that relates to Jesus' conquering or victory, and then how that connects to
the manner of The Day of the Lord coming in the future, and if that will involve more
divine violence, or divinely sanction violence, violence that Jesus commits, or if he'll
continue on as non-violent trajectory.
Jon: Okay. I think that's a big shift. For many people, potentially that might be one of the
things they mean with "your view."
Tim: Yeah, the nature of violence.
Jon: The nature of violence.
Tim: I don't know, Matthew, what specific things you're talking about eschatology, but I
think in terms of how people's views of if there is some final culminating period of
terrible war and tribulation or the rapture and how any of that fits in, what we're
doing in the video could fit into any number of those views. You just plug it in. But
we just wanted it to stay really close to the biblical narrative and how the themes
Jon: Yeah. I think violence sets it apart.
Tim: Well, actually, I'd say the other thing was this idea of the archetypal view of Babylon,
which, again, read good Old Testament scholarship of all stripes on the prophetic
literature and on the revelation. And everybody agrees that's what's happening.
Babylon is an image of all of the bad guys, including Israel through the Old
Testament up to that point, and that it's John's...The disagreement in modern views
would be about the book of Revelation. If it refers to one specific world Empire that
is to come, specifically the one that will be the reigning World Empire when Jesus
returns. Or is it referring to more of what we were trying to say is play out the
archetypal view, and it's meant for us to see Babylon in any and every human
Empire, leading up to whatever regime happens to be in power when Jesus does
return? So those would be two different views.
But again, most of the classic things people really argue over, rapture and
tribulation, could fit within any one of those.
Chris: Tim, John, thanks for all you guys do. This is Chris from Park City, Utah. Just trying to
figure out the connection between how we see Jesus laying down his life and giving
up his life in order to defeat evil in the New Testament not giving into that promise
of evil. But that same God in the Old Testament seems to bring plagues in one
nation up against another nation where there's a battle or death. That just seems like
it kind of contradicts those two things, and I wondered if you could help me connect
those dots. Thanks so much.
Tim: Great question, Chris.
Jon: Yeah, thanks, Chris.
Tim: Totally. We got a number of questions, which are great, about the nature of violence.
So nonviolence in Jesus' whole mission, and then nonviolent confrontation. Jesus
was anything but passive. The word pacifist comes with too many other things that
aren't helpful for understanding Jesus' use of nonviolence.
Jesus was very confrontational but he clearly rejected violence as a means of doing
what he was doing. And so, then, there are implications you have to think through in
light of that. Backwards, how then do I think about divine violence?
Jon: Because you can't get around the fact that there are many stories about people
dying because they did something wrong, right?
Jon: Being turned to stone, being zapped down in the tabernacle.
Tim: Totally. People dying.
Jon: People get worked over, that is violence.
Tim: Because of divine violence.
Jon: Divine violence?
Tim: You haven't mentioned God yet. So the reason why all the stories are about a person
or people who die because of actions attributed to God, divine violence. So it's
backwards. How do portraits of divine violence in the first three-quarters of the
Christian Bible relate to Jesus who not only chooses, advocates, and demand
nonviolent to his disciples, but actually says that how he is, reflects the heart of God?
"Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful and gracious and kind to ungrateful
and evil men." Compare that to "show the Canaanites no mercy." So was God
merciful, or does God shows his enemies no mercy? There's a surface level tension
And then there's a tension forwards with, which model do you think God's going to
use to defeat evil at the combination of history?
Jon: Zap people.
Tim: The Old Testament divine violence model or the Jesus style? I'm not saying I'm even
happy with that way of setting up the question, but that's how it appears to us. And
so typically, people will either just say, "Well, sometimes, God chops people's heads
off as an act of judgment. And he's God, he can do that. When Jesus came, he didn't
take that route and God's merciful." And so God can do both.
Jon: Well, I think this is where God's wrath coming on Jesus solve the problem for people.
So you have a God who needs to show His wrath, and has been doing that, and then
you Jesus, who doesn't deserve it, takes it.
And so, now, you have an opportunity. It's like this moment in time where you can
opt out of God's wrath. But at one point in the future, that's going to be off the table
again, and then God's going to unleash more wrath. So that's the logic.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. That is the logic. There's a handful of problems with that way of
framing things. All of those problems have to do with the Bible. The Bible itself poses
some interesting challenges and doesn't quite say exactly that logical train of
thought. You have to take some things out of context and string them together into
a new thing.
But all of our attempts, they usually, we're not intentionally trying to distort the
Bible, but we often inevitably do so.
Jon: We're trying to make sense of it.
Tim: We're trying to make sense of it and tie things together. So there are a few things.
First, just in terms of the wrath, you won't find a sentence in the Bible that says God
punished Jesus, whether Jesus suffered the wrath of God.
You actually won't...And trust me. I promise you. I held that view for a long time until
I read the Bible a lot and then I intentionally went on the search and I couldn't find
What you find is statements about God handing Jesus over. The father hands over
the son. The most clear statement you get of not that - but the people often mistake
it as the Father punishing the son or God punishing Jesus - is in Romans 8:1-4,
where Paul the Apostle says that God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful human
existence flesh so that He could condemn sin in the flesh of Jesus.
So what God is punishing is not Jesus. He's punishing evil in Jesus. How? And of this,
at least as far as I can tell, it goes back to that conversation we had in the podcast
about consequence versus punishment. This is really what so much of this
conversation is rooted in, is how does God punish people? What is the nature of
And what do you discover is that the Old Testament specifically, has a really
sophisticated way of talking about God's punishment. And most often, by most
often, 8 out of 10, which is 4 out of 5, and 16 out of 20, it's God handing people
In fact, this is the phrase, "to give over." In Hebrew is the verb natan to give people
over to the consequences of their decisions. So we talked about this in the podcast.
What was God's punishment on Jerusalem for centuries of Covenant unfaithfulness?
Well, you read Ezekiel, and he's first-person speech in the mouth of God, "I'm going
to bring the sword after you. I'm going to strike you. I'm going to..."
So God's taking responsibility for what's about to happen to Jerusalem. But what is it
that actually happened to Jerusalem? The divine lightning didn't strike it from the
sky. Babylonian armies came and sack the city. Why did they do that? Well, just read
Ezekiel or read Jeremiah.
King Zedekiah had made a treaty with the king of Babylon. He broke the treaty and
was forming secret alliances with other nations planning to rebel. King
Nebuchadnezzar finds out about it, and he won't tolerate it. So what's the
explanation for why Jerusalem fell?
Well, in one sense, it was just really bad politics on the part of the kings of Judah.
But the prophets interpret that and speak on God's behalf and say, "That is my
punishment on you."
Jon: "That's me bringing a sword."
Tim: It's me. What's that saying? The kings of Judah rejecting the God of Israel and
choosing to form military alliances with their neighbors, instead of trusting that God
would keep his people safe, even if it means the Babylonians come. But because
they rejected trusting the God of Israel, he's giving them over to the consequences
of their decisions.
And the prophets don't view the consequence and punishment as separate things.
They're the same thing. And that's right through. It goes all the way back to the
garden. "The day that you eat of the tree, Adam and Eve, you will die." And then they
eat of the tree, and what happens? I mean, every reader going back to ancient times
has noticed what doesn't happen.
Jon: Yeah, they don't die.
Tim: Well, they don't die, but what they do, get banished. They forfeit their opportunity at
the first partnership, business partnership, and they're banished from the temple, the
garden, which means they're not separated from close proximity to the author of
life. And so they die eventually. And so, the consequence is the punishment. That
goes just right through the whole testament.
And so, when Paul says, "God handed Jesus over to death," who's perpetrating the
violence against Jesus? Roman soldiers, as a result of a rigged trial pulled by the
Jewish leaders of Jerusalem.
So, in one sense, it's human violence perpetrated against Jesus, but God takes
responsibility for it. God handed Jesus over to die for our sins, and to be raised for
our justification like Paul says in Romans 4. And so you see this pattern where God
punishes evil by handing humans over to the consequences of their decision.
And what's happening in the story of Jesus is the Father handing over his son. And
Jesus is not going on willingly. He hands himself over. Read the gospel narratives.
He's like, "I'm the one in power here."
Remember what he says the Pilate? "You have no power over me, except what's
been given to you, and I give over my life willingly." So Jesus hands himself over,
Jesus becomes the place where God punishes sin by handing himself over to our evil
and to let our evil do it's...
Jon: By bearing the consequences.
Tim: Yeah. So Jesus is bearing the wrath of God. And what's the wrath of God? It's
handing a human over to the consequences of human evil, except that human is
God Himself embodied in the person of Jesus. So our categories of separating out
punishment and consequence don't help us understand what's going on in the
cross. That's one layer of the question.
When you go back and you look at the Old Testament narratives, portraits of divine
violence, I said, eight out of 10, so 4 out of 5, portrait of divine violence, God takes
responsibility for it. But if you read the actual narrative of the violence, it's humans
committing the violence.
In other words, it's very rare to find a narrative, where, in the narrative, God is
directly doing the violence. Even the ones that you assume, you think for sure you
already know our God doing it, there's so interesting. There are little details there
that show that the biblical authors themselves are deflecting, or trying to show you
some deeper truth.
For example, in the final plague in Egypt, the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh kills the
firstborn of the Israelites. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, right? In Exodus 12, "I'm going
to strike the firstborn. I'll pass through, I'll strike." But you read Exodus, you read the
narrative, and then God says, "I'm going to pass through and I will give the destroyer
to kill the firstborn."
The person who actually does the killing or the entity doing the killing is all of a
sudden in Exodus 12...Well, I'll just read it to you. It's so fascinating. The whole
chapter. You're like, 'Oh, God's going to kill babies." He says it.
Jon: It's gnarly.
Tim: It's so gnarly. Exodus 12:12, "I will go through the land, I will strike down the
firstborn of Egypt. The blood will be assigned to you in the houses where you live.
When I see the blood, I will pass over you." I, I, I, I.
Then you actually read the narrative, verse 23, "For the Lord will pass through to
smite the Egyptians. He'll see the blood and won't allow the destroyer to come in to
your houses to smite you."
Jon: Who's the destroyer?
Tim: Exactly. So Dude, are you ready?
Jon: I'm ready.
Tim: Chris, this is way more than you asked for, but it's really fascinating. The destroyer is
an evil being who appears in a handful of narratives where you see plagues
spreading, like the strike of a plague. It happens in 2 Samuel 24, where David does
this military census of the people of Israel and God's really angry at him. And so God
says, "Pick your punishment," and David chooses plague on his people instead of a
number of other punishments.
Then God says, "I'm going to bring this on you." And then who appears in angelic
being bringing destruction called the destroyer? This one's even more fascinating. In
the grumbling narratives in the wilderness where God opens like the earthquake that
opens up and swallows up that guy, Korah, and his whole crew. There are snakes
that come and bite people and kill them. So you read the stories and it just seems
like direct divine violence.
In the New Testament, if you go to 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul's warning the
Corinthians of how they're taking the Lord's Supper in a way that's dishonoring the
poor people and the rest, he says, "You have to stop that. It's a really bad idea.
You're going to shame poor people in the name of Jesus. Don't mess with the poor
in Jesus name. He doesn't like that."
And then he warns them. He says, "Don't be like the Israelites who grumbled. Don't
grumble like some of the Israelites did and were destroyed by the destroyer." And
you will read the book of Numbers, all seven of the grumbling narratives, and the
destroyer does not appear once.
So what Paul has done is he's developed, based on that, appearance of the
destroyer. In the Exodus story, he's formed a method of interpreting divine violence.
And where he sees God doing direct divine violence, he assumes that that divine
violence was God giving people over to some destructive force, that is this thing that
killed them. In this case, the plague. The destroyer refers to a plague in almost all the
cases where it occurs.
So modern Westerners, we think, "Oh, well, it was just a plague happened?" And
then the biblical authors were like, "That was God."
Tim: But that's so foreign to the biblical mindset. This is a deep rabbit hole.
Jon: This is great. Keep going.
Tim: Okay. So flood story. Let's take the flood story, for example. There's direct divine
Jon: Totally. Just taking over the whole world.
Tim: Okay. So God says, "The heart of humanity is only evil all the time. I regret making
humanity on the Earth." This is the introduction to the flood story in Genesis 6. "And
so I'm going to wipe the earth clean." So God takes responsibility. In all these cases,
God takes responsibility, but what I'm saying is—
Jon: When you say that He's not saying, "I'm the one who is at fault," not that kind of
responsibility. He's saying responsibility in that, "I'm going to solve this. I'm going to
be the one that brings a conclusion to this?"
Tim: Yeah. I mean, I like the phrase—
Jon: What do you mean when you say, "take responsibility?"
Tim: Well, what I like about the phrase "God's taking responsibility," is in these narratives,
the face value reading is God saying, "I'm doing this. I'm responsible."
Jon: "I'm going to do this. I'm responsible for this."
Tim: But then you read story, and it’s God—
Jon: "I'm not responsible for how the humans are acting. I'm going to be responsible for
what I'm going to do." You're throwing up your hands in the air."
Tim: Yeah, I am. Just be patient with me. Right? Be patient. So for God take responsibility,
one, just read the narratives where God judges people. Four times out of 5, 8 out of
10, 16 out of 20, it's God handing people over to what humans would see as just the
natural...Let's not use that word. Just the consequences - not natural consequences -
the consequences of a bad, stupid, selfish, sinful decision.
Jon: Yeah, cause-effect.
Tim: Causing effect. And God takes responsibility for that and says, "I did that to you." So
we're into the worldview of Proverbs here of the moral universe and cause and effect
and so on. So there's that.
Then there are other narratives where it doesn't seem like there's any huge agent.
There's no Babylonian Second Jerusalem that God can say, "I did it." So the Exodus.
But then, when you think that's God directly, there are these little textual details that
say, the destroyer it's some kind of malevolent something...
Jon: Something gnarly.
Tim: That is called by a phrase you think refers to some sort of evil spiritual being, but
then in other narratives, the destroyer is identified, like in Second Samuel 24, as a
plague. And therefore, when Paul reads other narratives of divine violence, he inserts
some other agent into the story.
Jon: He just assumes that must be what happens.
Tim: That's right. That's very important for what I'm saying right now, is you can see Paul
doing this. He's making an interpretive—
Jon: Yeah. But what does Paul know?
Tim: You know what I'm saying? He inserts some other agent doing the actual violence to
people in the wilderness narratives in Numbers. So, all the way back to the flood,
which is a different kind of example. The violence and the undoing, the cause of the
death of humans in the flood it's not lightning; it's the windows of the heavens starts
Jon: The Rakia?
Tim: Yeah. And the springs of the deep burst. Now, this goes all the way back to Genesis
1. You can go through the way that the description of the rain starts. It's item by
item, a disintegration of what God brought into order in Genesis 1. Sky, land, sea,
the types of creatures that Noah brings on the boat, the types of creatures that then
die. And this is not just me. This is people have noticed this for a very long time.
The flood story is depicted in the language of the undoing of the order that God
brought about. It's decreation. So God is giving the earth over back to tohu wa-bohu
and chaos. And so, even in that example, chaos is always crashing at your doors, just
like the ocean waves.
Jon: Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Tim: Totally, yeah. We will translate another category. But why is the sea identified with
chaos? Well, man, you go to the beach.
Jon: Oh, it's coming at you.
Tim: It's just like, it's always coming at you, but God set a boundary for it like he says in
Job. He says, "Here your proud waves halt no more." So the land is the place of
order except the desert, right?
Tim: It's an ancient way of viewing the world that the flood is God...
Jon: Letting the waters take over.
Tim: ...releasing His imposition of order on to creation and giving creation back over to
the forces of chaos that are always crashing at the beach.
Jon: Yeah, okay. It's a giving over.
Tim: It's another handing over.
Jon: In Genesis 1, it's Him imposing order, and that he has to sustain that.
Jon: And then, in Genesis 6, it's Him letting go of that and giving it over? That's the
Tim: That is why in so many of the creation poems, later poems, like Psalm 74, where God
creating is depicted in His battle of crushing the seven-headed dragon in Psalm 74.
It's also not just creation; its creation in order, because he says, "Sun and moon, stars
The fact that the world has ordered rather than disordered, is because of God's
constant sustaining presence. But the moment that He hides his face, which is a
common Old Testament phrase for judgment, "and hands people over," or "hands
creation over," and "withdraws his presence," chaos descends. So whether that's the
flood, whether that plague, or whether that malevolent evil forces, or whether that's
giving evil humans over to other evil humans.
And so, all of this is one thing in the mind of the biblical authors. And so when God
hands Jesus over, this is God handing himself over to our evil, and simultaneously
taking responsibility for it at the same time. That's why I like the phrase "taking
responsibility." Because on the cross, God takes responsibility for human evil. He
allows it to determine his death sentence. You know what I’m saying?
Tim: It's so paradoxical if you get your mind around this. But it's God takes responsibility
and takes upon Himself the death sentence.
Jon: So if he would have handed over humanity in the way we've been talking, it would
have been death for humans?
Tim: Yes. That's page 3 of Genesis, right?
Jon: Yeah, you'll die. Jesus' death on the cross is God handing him so over? Instead of
handing us over, He said, "I'll hand myself over. I will take that."
Tim: "Myself" being the Trinitarian self. The father handing over the son, and the son's
empowered by the Spirit to do so, and that kind of thing.
Jon: And that will be my wrath and my judgment and that is me defeating evil? That's a
Tim: Well, I think where we landed was we liked the phrase "robbing evil of its power."
But, man, the New Testament authors don't mix their words. They call it a victory. A
Remember, Paul, he made a public humiliation spectacle of the powers of evil,
human and spiritual when he triumphed over them on the cross. Or the whole Book
of Revelation is about the victory of the Lamb and the conquering of the Lamb and
his follows through dying.
So the New Testament authors describe it as God's Day of the Lord victory, but stage
1, that will be completed when Jesus returns. And so, this is why ultimately, I think
the readings of the final Day of the Lord and the culmination of history that
understand Jesus' coming back and exerting divine violence, chopping people's
heads off and this kind of thing, in my mind it's like whiplash at the end of the story,
because that is in no way consistent with how this God has been portrayed.
Jon: Because you've already been saying, "Okay, humans have been deserving of death
and retribution, I suppose, as a consequence."
Tim: Yeah, because we unleash that on each other.
Tim: Yeah, that's right.
Jon: And what you actually see is a lot of God being really generous in spite of that. I
mean, even in the Cain and Abel story, like Cain kill his brother, and then God marks
him and says—
Tim: But notice the punishment there is banishment. God withdraws Himself from Cain
and his evil.
Jon: So, there's still a consequence. But in spite of the consequences, you find God
constantly trying to like, you know, He's patient, slow to anger, loving and—
Tim: He's bearing people sin.
Jon: Yeah. You see that, and then you get to Jesus and you see his handing over in this
now very remarkable and counterintuitive way. And then, that's tied to not only has
he handled himself over instead of handing us over, it's also tied to his victory over
Jon: That poses some interesting questions because we still experience evil. So we've
used the phrase "robbing evil of its power." There was some sort of victory that
Tim: The victory is that death ultimately didn't maintain its hold on Jesus. I mean, the
cross isn't a victory without the empty tomb.
Jon: Evil will not be able to keep it's hold over us as well?
Tim: Evil was unable to keep its hold over Jesus. Therefore, he is offered God's ultimate
Jon: It's like the antidote. It's like he came up with...
Tim: The Antidote. Yeah.
Jon: You know, no one had a way to combat evil. Evil always won. Evil's promise of
power, the way that it snares you and then leads you to death, it's like this
irreversible thing, like a virus. And then Jesus comes and says, "No, not anymore. It
doesn't have to lead to death."
Jon: And the victory.
Tim: Yeah, that's the victory.
Jon: That's like a geneticist celebrating that he just came up with a new antidote.
Jon: I don't know if that's a good metaphor.
Tim: There are lots of good metaphors. I should say this all on the top my head because I
recently had to give a teaching on divine violence in the Old Testament. So I have a
recent stack of books in my head, that's why I can spell out all this.
Jon: Okay. You say it's whiplash because you get to then a discussion about the future of
creation and humanity, and how God's going to make things right.
Tim: How He'll deal and confront evil once and for all, ultimately.
Jon: Evil and us.
Tim: And us. Yes, that's right.
Jon: And intertwining of us with evil because evil is crouching at our doors and wants to
have its way with us. It's whiplash because you're saying—
Tim: If all along, even though God has been taking responsibility for our evil, even though
He Himself in most of these narratives isn't perpetrating it, He's handing people over
to the evil consequences and violence. But God takes responsibility for it in much of
the Old Testament.
That's the same pattern that you see displayed in Jesus, is Jesus takes responsibility
for the centuries of Covenant rebellion of Israel. Jesus dies as a violent revolutionary
against Rome when he himself wasn't. He is bearing and taking responsibility for his
people's evil and for human evil.
And what is the result? He eats the consequences. He's handed over to death. And
that is God's wrath. That's the biblical pattern of how God punishes, is handing
people over. But He hands him over.
Jon: So he did that with Jesus. But then the question becomes now in the future, when
He still has to deal with the Babylon's we're creating and the systemic problems, and
also just people, why can't He handover with plagues and fire and brimstone and
those kinds of things with the destroyer? Why can't this be the way it goes down in
the end of times?
Tim: The only real depictions we have are a couple apocalyptic type passages in the New
Testament. Jesus offers one talking about the fall of Jerusalem in the gospels. Paul,
in his letters to the Thessalonians, and then, of course, the book of Revelation.
But once again, if you read slowly and in context, reading these apocalyptic texts the
way they're designed to be read, which is connecting all this imagery as imagery, the
divine judgment on Babylon in the Book of Revelation is - we talked about this in the
podcast - it's the 10 plagues put in a blender and with the volume turned up. Which
doesn't actually answer the question of, "Okay, well, what do these images refer to?"
Tim: Because, on one level, locusts and plagues and, you know, it's God handing creation
back over to disorder. It's God handing creation over to its own evil to self-destruct.
Jon: So that will still happen in certain ways. And it does today.
Tim: Yeah, it happens every day.
Jon: It's happening all the time. And if you want to say that's violence, divine violence,
then divine violence is still happening.
Tim: It's God, allowing His creation to sink into chaos. Chaos that's caused...we would
separate it out as modern Western people, natural chaos and human moral chaos.
But the biblical authors viewed all as one intertwined package.
Jon: One place that this really comes to a head talking about violence is in the Revelation.
You have the image of Jesus riding in on a white horse and he's got blood all over
his robes. Traditionally, you would think, "Okay, yeah, because Jesus is going to kick
some butt, obviously, now he's bloody from battle." But when we talked about that,
you made a point of that being his own blood. We actually have a good question
from Robin Rumple about that.
Robin: Hi, Jon and Tim. I'm Robin Rumple hailing, at the moment, from North Carolina. My
question is perhaps a bit picky but surfaces the deeper underlying question about
the literary structure of the revelation. Several times in your video, on Revelation also
in your podcasts on The Day of the Lord, you've made a point that in John's vision of
Jesus as a High King sitting on a white horse in Revelation 19, the blood on his robe
is his own, and that this vision segment is about Jesus's return.
However, the reasons you give seem to me to be confusing. I'm just wondering if
somehow your hermeneutics are conflicted. Thanks.
Jon: So she actually sent some more information on that question. So when she said,
"Your hermeneutics are conflicted," I think what she was referring to is how the
Revelation in the way we talked about it wasn't this chronological sequence of
events, but really the hinge for why that wouldn't be the blood of people he was
destroying is because the battle hadn't started yet. So it was appealing to
chronology when chronology wasn't that important in other parts of the Revelation.
So I think that's what she meant by a conflicted hermeneutics.
But in general, I think there is a lot of pushback with that interpretation of it being
Tim: Yeah, we got a couple of other questions about that, too.
Jon: Yeah. So is this a bit of a stretch? Have other people interpreted it that way?
Tim: Yeah, totally. Yeah, I didn't make up the idea. I've started reading people who are
way smarter than me and found like, oh, man, there's so many really, really sharp
biblical scholars, present and past, who have argued for that.
You actually can't start with that scene of Jesus riding in on the horse to make the
full case for that. It actually is about the depiction of Jesus and his army victorious as
a theme that runs throughout the whole book of Revelation.
And so it goes all the way back to the letters to the seven churches, where multiple
people in these churches are being persecuted. He mentions churches being put in
prison, some have died, Christians have died as martyrs. But yet, every letter he talks
about how that each of these communities can become overcomers or conquerors.
To the one who overcomes, Jesus makes a promise of vindication, stuff like that.
So that raises the question of, "Well, oh, this is persecuted religious minorities, but
John is telling them that they can be the conquerors?" It's like a military language.
What does that mean?
And then, in the next vision, Revelation 4 and 5, Jesus is introduced as the
Conqueror. It's the same word as the one who conquers. And it's really important.
Before Jesus is introduced onto the scene, he hears Jesus being announced. Like a
king entering a throne room, he hears, and the elders in the vision say, "Behold, it's
the lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Root of David, who is conquering, who has
Those are both Old Testament texts. Lion of Judah, Genesis 49. Root of David, Isaiah
11. And in both of those cases, it's God's raising up the Messianic King as a violent
conqueror and destroyer of wicked people. In Genesis, it's like the lion tears and
slashes and bites off the bad guys' heads.
Jon: Yeah, lions are brutal.
Tim: Yeah, totally. So it's very important. This is the introductory scene of Jesus in the...
Jon: He becomes the Lion.
Tim: So he's introduced as the lion and as the victorious messianic butt kicking, kill the
bad guys. Messiah of Isaiah 11, that's what John hears. So like, that's the
announcement made over the loudspeakers.
And then when he looks, the one who walks through the door, what he sees is a
lamb, a helpless lamb, with its throat slit and dripping covered in its own blood. And
that's Jesus throughout the whole rest of the vision of the Revelation until the
moment on the white horse is the first time Jesus is depicted as not the bloody
So if you read through Revelation 4 and 5, all the way through to chapter 19, where
he appears on the horse, every time Jesus is depicted or referred to as the
Jon: And so this image of the slaughter Lamb obviously is connected to Jesus sacrificial
Tim: Yes, that's right. It's a metaphor talking about Jesus is the victorious messianic king
that the prophets were talking about in the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 49:11.
Jon: But his victory didn't come from being this ferocious lion that could rip people apart.
His victory came from being a sacrificial Lamb.
Tim: Sacrificial Lamb. And in so doing, they aren't contradicting the Old Testament. What
they're doing is picking up another strand of Old Testament promise that comes all
the way back to Genesis 3 when God promised that some a seed of the woman, a
descendant of Eve would come to crush the serpent. But His victory over the Genesis
3:15, these descendants’ victory, will happen by himself being struck by the serpent.
And then that gets played out, especially in Isaiah's depiction of the suffering servant
So even the book of Isaiah, you've got Isaiah 11 butt kicking, killed a bad guy's King.
But then later in the book of Isaiah, you find out that that figure is going to be
victorious by giving up his own life.
Jon: So there are two ways to deal with that. The first way is to say, there are two
different modes. God's in warrior mode, and then He's in sacrificial mode and He's
going to go back to warrior mode. Right?
Tim: Yeah, sure.
Jon: The second way is to say, "There's some strange interplay between these two, which
is the way God actually wages war is through sacrifice."
Tim: Yeah, you have both those portraits in the Old Testament. What Jesus seems have
done is read them in light of each other, but reinterpreted the divine violence as an
image of conquering by sacrificial Lamb and giving up his life.
Jon: And if that's then your position, which is, "That's what Jesus did," then do you begin
to reinterpret any divine violence as that? Or is there still room for some butt-kicking
Tim: Well, hold on. Let's just stick in Revelation. Let's finish the thread from the lamb to
the white horse.
Jon: Let's finish.
Tim: So, from that scene where Jesus is called the Slain Lamb who conquers his enemies
by dying for them, that's what that image means. Then from there, in chapter 7, the
army of the lamb is introduced. And the army of the lamb is introduced as a crowd
of people from all nations, who have washed their robes white in the blood of the
lamb. Obviously, a beautiful mixing of metaphors. They've become pure—
Jon: It's impossible to do; try to make a robe white with blood.
Tim: Yeah, totally. So but symbolically, the point is the blood is using Leviticus purification
sacrifice imagery of through the blood, they have become the pure ones. And then
later in Revelation 12, where it's the battle between the dragon and the army of the
Lamb...This is such a great line.
In Revelation 12:10, 11, "Our brethren, the army of the Lamb overcomes the dragon
because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of their testimony because they
didn't love their lives even unto death." So not only does the Lamb triumph and
conquer by giving up his life, but the army of the Lamb conquers by the blood of the
Jon: Conquers the dragon.
Tim: Conquers the dragon, in Revelation 12, by the word of their testimony, speaking the
truth of the gospel, the good news that King Jesus died for his enemies.
Jon: Which is kind of similar to the sword in the mouth.
Tim: Exactly. Yeah, that's where I'm going.
Tim: And then, they overcome with the blood of the Lamb, which is explained as "they
gave up their lives."
Jon: So they conquered the dragon by giving up their lives?
Tim: Giving up their lives, and by their words. By proclaiming Jesus as the true king before
the dragon. Even if the dragon kills them, we're dying just like our King died in act of
sacrificial witness against the dragon and his violence. And thereby we conquer him.
That's what it says, "They conquered him through the blood of the Lamb." There's
actually more clues to this puzzle, but those are the main ones. And when you get to
Jesus, you're already prepared.
Jon: Jesus on the white horse.
Tim: Jesus on the white horse with blood on his robes and a sword in his mouth, you
already know what these images mean. Blood on the robes is an image of being the
pure one who has died on behalf of the testimony or on the message.
Jon: But it's also pulling from that Isaiah image.
Tim: Okay, yes. All right.
Jon: So there's kind of a dual thing going on there?
Tim: Yes. Now, we're in Revelation 19, the rider on the white horse. That paragraph is just
a load of Old Testament hyperlinks. But it's remarkable. Here, I'll just do it because
you get the effect.
Tim: It's Revelation 19:11. "I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! And the one
who said sat on it is called Faithful and True." That phrase, Faithful and True is a play
on some things going on in Hebrew and Isaiah 62. "In righteousness, he judges and
wages war." That's a quotation from Psalm 96. "His eyes are a flame of fire." That's a
quotation from Daniel 11.
"On his head are many diadems, he has a name written on him which no one knows
except himself." That certainly illusions back to the Divine name that is unknown but
then God reveals as known to Moses in the burning bush. "He's closed with a rope
dipped and blood." And that's an image from Isaiah 63.
Jon: Of what of trotting the winepress alone?
Tim: Yeah. Isaiah 63 - we talked about it earlier in the podcast - is the image of God
comes on the day of vengeance, The Day of the Lord, stomping grapes, is an image
of him stomping his enemies.
Jon: Yeah, destroying the nations.
Tim: And it's the stomping, the treading of the winepress of his wrath that spatters their
juice all over his garment. It is the stomping that makes the robe bloody. What John
has done, is he separated the stomping from how you get bloody. So he introduced
his Jesus as bloody before he mentions the treading the winepress of the wrath.
In Isaiah 63, they're closely connected. In this scene, Jesus is bloody before any
Jon: Before the battle begins?
Tim: Before the battle begins. Again, he's still showing how—
Jon: How important is that? That's I think Robin's question is, is this the chronology that
Tim: No. I'm not talking about chronology. I'm talking about the sequence of the
sentences in this paragraph. John has hyperlinked to a passage in Isaiah 63, where
the sequence is God comes stomping on his enemies, and that's what makes him
bloody. And John has disturbed that sequence in Isaiah 63 and reversed it.
Jon: So he comes bloody but he's going to stomp.
Tim: Yes. Which redefines what it means for Jesus to stomp. And that's what the whole
Revelation has been doing. Stomping is another image for conquering. How does
Jesus conquer? How does Jesus wage war? How does Jesus gain victory over his
enemies? How does Jesus confront evil?
He does it with a sword coming out of his mouth, which we already are prepared for
that. It's the testimony. It's the gospel that exposes the truth about Babylon and
says, "No more." So one. And then two, the means of his conquering is the robe
dipped in blood, namely, the slain Lamb who gives up his life, the saints who don't
love their lives even unto death.
Jon: Got it.
Tim: The Revelation is very intentional in how John introduces keywords and images, like
blood and conquering. And then you watch him, he leaves a trail of breadcrumbs. All
you do is read through the book quickly with a highlighter, just looking for one or
two keywords at a time and you'll see he's left these trails of themes that he
developed throughout the book one by one. And so this image of conquering by
blood, by giving up your life as a key one. And it comes to its culmination right here.
So my point would be, yes, he's reading Isaiah 63, but he has fundamentally
transformed the images in light of his depiction of Jesus as the wounded Victor. And
I'm totally not the only person who reads the Revelation this way. Leon Morris,
classic, down the line orthodox, Protestant commentator, he makes a whole case of
this. He inbox a lot many commentators. Some don't.
Some think that you should import the divine stomping from Isaiah 63 and that
overrides. But in my mind, you can't just say, he's quoting the Old Testament. You
have to ask, "What's he doing with these old testament images?" I think the best
case that accounts for the whole book is that he's transformed the divine violence of
the Old Testament images in light of the cross.
Jon: Okay. So we've talked about this for a while now, but let me try to summarize the
whole violence thing.
Tim: Please do.
Jon: I came with this construct of saying, "Hey, look, isn't it as simple as God can have
divine violence against people and He has in the Old Testament. That's kind of His
typical mode. That's like default mode. But here comes Jesus, and it's this kind of like
one time only special of "get out of God's divine wrath because His wrath was put
on Jesus instead." There's a little opportunity for switch.
But that's not going to be on sale forever. And the Day the Lord is coming and if you
haven't signed up you're going to get back to what was the default mode, which is
the butt-kicking Jesus.
Tim: Getting stomped - this time by Jesus.
Jon: So there's that construct. When you have that construct, you get to a passage is like,
Jesus bloodied with battle that comes from an image of God stomping the
winepress and you can see like, "Okay, cool, this is Jesus kicking butt."
Tim: No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Jon: No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Jon: Okay. So what you've done is you said, "Okay, let's start again." First of all, divine
violence, I should say, in the Old Testament it's actually pretty nuanced. Four to five
times, 8 out of 10, 16 out of 20, 32 out of 40 times, is not actually God doing it, it's
Tim: Just consequences. Not natural consequences.
Tim: For which God takes responsibility.
Jon: Yeah, that's phrase you've been using. "Take responsibility." He's like, "Hey, no, no I
was behind that, even though it was betrayed is just a normal consequence." And
you brought up the Exodus passage. And so, even on those times where you're like,
"Well, this is obviously God," those 1 out of 5 times, even those are often...
Tim: Some other agent of the violence is introduced even if it's a mysterious agent.
Jon: The Destroyer. That's so interesting.
Tim: And remember, we're not making this up. Paul the Apostle was tracking with this
trend, and he himself inserted—
Jon: Imported the destroyer into the Numbers—
Tim: Into other stories where the destroyer doesn't appear, which means that he's worked
out of theology that even when God does direct divine violence, it's still him handing
people over to something other.
Jon: And that becomes the key term is "handing over." I loved that idea of God is
sustaining the created order and He is actually making things...He's giving orders by
His own power.
Tim: Yeah, 24/7 imposing order so that creation doesn't implode.
Jon: And so the consequences Him just saying, "I'm going to unfold what will naturally
unfold because of the disorder you're trying to create. I'm not going to create more
order out of your disorder. I'm just going to let the disorder be."
Tim: Yeah. "You want Toh