Free Will

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long been debated in philosophy. Historically, the constraint of dominant concern has been the metaphysical constraint of determinism, which stated most simply is the notion that the present dictates the future entirely, that every occurrence results from prior events. The two main positions within that debate are metaphysical libertarianism, the claim that determinism is false, so free will exists is at least possible—and hard determinism, the claim that determinism is true, so free will does not exist.

Both of these positions, which agree that causal determination is the relevant factor in the question of free will, are classed as incompatibilist. Positions that deny that determinism is relevant are classified as compatibilist, and offer various alternative explanations of what constraints are relevant, such as physical constraints (e.g. chains or imprisonment), social constraints (e.g. threat of punishment or censure), or psychological constraints (e.g. compulsions or phobias). Such compatibilists thus consider the debate between libertarianism and hard determinism a false dilemma.

Some compatibilists assert that determinism is not just compatible with free will, but actually necessary for it; that the randomness of indeterminism is a greater obstacle to free will. Similarly, hard incompatibilism, while still holding that determinism is an obstacle to free will, agrees with the aforementioned compatibilists that indeterminism is likewise an obstacle to free will, and concludes that free will is thus impossible in either case.

The principle of free will has religiousethical, and scientific implications. For example, in the religious realm, free will implies that individual will and choices can coexist with an omnipotentdivinity. In ethics, it may hold implications for whether individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. In science, neuroscientific findings regarding free will may suggest different ways of predicting human behavior.

If humans are responsible for their actions, they must have free will, the ability to choose right from wrong. But ideas about God‘s providence and scientific notions of biological and psychological determinism create problems for the presumption of free will. This paradox has fascinated Jewish thinkers since the Talmud.

According to Josephus, the Sadducees believed that:

  • There is no fate
  • God does not commit evil
  • man has free will; “man has the free choice of good or evil”
  • the soul is not immortal; there is no afterlife, and
  • there are no rewards or penalties after death

The Sadducees rejected the belief in resurrection of the dead, which was a central tenet believed by Pharisees and by Early Christians. This often provoked hostilities. Furthermore, the Sadducees rejected the Oral Law as proposed by the Pharisees. Rather, they saw the Torah as the sole source of divine authority. The written law, in its depiction of the priesthood, corroborated the power and enforced the hegemony of the Sadducees in Judean society.

The Pharisees (Latin pharisæus, –i; from Hebrew פְּרוּשִׁים pĕrûshîm, pl. of פָּרוּשׁpārûsh, meaning “set apart”, Qal passive participle of the verb פָּרָשׁ pārāsh,[1][2]through Greek φαρισαῖος, -ου pharisaios[3]) were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE) in the wake of theMaccabean Revolt.

Conflicts between the Pharisees and the Sadducees took place in the context of much broader and longstanding social and religious conflicts among Jews dating back to the Babylonian captivity and exacerbated by the Roman conquest. One conflict was class, between the wealthy and the poor, as the Sadducees included mainly the priestly and aristocratic families. Another conflict was cultural, between those who favored Hellenization and those who resisted it. A third was juridico-religious, between those who emphasized the importance of the Second Temple with its cultic rites and services, and those who emphasized the importance of other Mosaic laws and prophetic values. A fourth point of conflict, specifically religious, involved different interpretations of the Torah and how to apply it to current Jewish life, with the Sadducees recognizing only the Written Torah and rejecting doctrines such as the Oral Torah and the Resurrection of the Dead.

Free will in theology is an important part of the debate on free will in general. This article discusses the doctrine of free will as it has been, and is, interpreted within the various branches of ChristianityJudaismIslamHinduism and Zoroastrianism. Religions vary greatly in their response to the Standard argument against free will, and thus might appeal to any number of responses to “the paradox of free will” – the claim that omniscience and free will are incompatible.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says, “The question of free will, moral liberty, or the liberum arbitrium of the Schoolmen, ranks amongst the three or four most important philosophical problems of all time. It ramifies into ethics, theologymetaphysics, andpsychology. The view adopted in response to it will determine a man’s position in regard to the most momentous issues that present themselves to the human mind. On the one hand, does man possess genuinemoral freedom, power of real choice, true ability to determine the course of his thoughts and volitions, to decide which motives shall prevail within his mind, to modify and mould his own character? Or, on the other, are man’s thoughts and volitions, his character and external actions, all merely the inevitable outcome of his circumstances? Are they all inexorably predetermined in every detail along rigid lines by events of the past, over which he himself has had no sort of control? This is the real import of the free-will problem.

After All (The Dead)

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
(Deuteronomy 34:5-12 ESV)

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
(Jude 1:9 KJV)

What did Satan want with the body of Moses? A possible object of idolatry, or perhaps he intended to resurrect him in order to lead the Children of Israel astray.

In some sense, Michael the Archangel was dispatched by God to deal in some way with the body of Moses, which God Himself had buried after Moses’ death.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all reject cremation in general as desecration of the human body. In some cultures embalming the body and applying makeup are discouraged as desecration as well.

John MacArthur notes that, “Scripture says nothing about a required mode of burial for either believers or non-believers.  However, burying the body was the standard practice among the Israelites in the Old Testament and Christians in the New Testament.

King Solomon wrote, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7 KJV).

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him” (Romans 6:3-9 KJV).

Two things to remember when considering the Scriptures is that most of the key people in the Old Testament were buried. In fact, it was considered a dishonor to the people of Israel not to receive a proper burial. Most of the people who were burned to death in the Bible were receiving a punishment.

In his first epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:12-58 KJV).

The body is like a seed and somehow it is important to God. We plant the corruptible so that Jesus Christ can harvest the incorruptible.

In his first epistle to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 KJV).

You are not your own. Your body was bought for the great price of Jesus Christ’s blood, so you should glorify God in your body, whether by life or death. God owned you as His creature, and but He also owns you by having bought you from your sins. You do not glorify God by burning His creation in a pagan practice from hell.

I prefer burial. However, I must hold this preference only as an opinion. I do not know of any Biblical truth which would make cremation within itself sinful. If you know of such a truth, please share it with me. We must allow liberty when there is no binding teaching (Galatians 2:3-4).

Master of the Moon

Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
(Jeremiah 51:7 KJV)

The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed “The Cradle of Civilization” due to the birth of various kingdoms within its borders, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia.

In current usage the Fertile Crescent has a maximum extent and a minimum extent. All definitions include Mesopotamia, the land in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The major nation in this region is Iraq, with small portions of Iran near the Persian Gulf, Kuwait to the south and Turkey in the north. More typically the Fertile Crescent includes also the Levantine coast of the Mediterranean Sea, with Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. Water sources include the Jordan River. At maximum extent, the Fertile Crescent also may include Egypt and the Nile Valley within it. The inner boundary is delimited by the dry climate of the Syrian Desert to the south. Around the outer boundary are the arid and semi-arid lands of the Zagros Mountains to the east, the Anatolian Highlands to the north, and the Sahara Desert to the west.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a pagan as a follower of any polytheistic religion. It would be fair to extend this definition to the worship of any false god(s) or goddess(s), those without any religion, and those who worship any god other than Yahweh (YHWH), the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Immediately following the Great Flood, Noah and his family were blessed by God and told to, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1).

Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 10:1-12, 11:1-4 KJV)

Instead of accepting God’s blessing and obeying His commandment, people settled on the plains of Shinar and began to establish a kingdom and build a tower (Tower of Babel) in direct opposition and disobedience to God’s wishes and commandments.

The Tower of Babel is historical account of a unified humanity using all its resources to establish a city that is the antithesis of what God intended when he created the world. The Tower of Babel is a symbol of human autonomy, and the city builders see themselves as determining and establishing their own destiny without any reference to God.

The Ancient Babylonian enterprise was all about human independence and self-sufficiency apart from God. The builders believed that they had no need of God. Their technology and social unity give them confidence in their own ability, and they have high aspirations, constructing a tower with its top in the heavens. Contrary to God’s plan that people should fill the earth, the city-building project is designed to prevent the population from being dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

Nimrod’s hunting was not just for animals, but for the souls of men. He sought to turn people away from God. The Jerusalem Targum has Nimrod saying, “Depart from the judgement of God, and follow the judgement of Nimrod.” Genesis informs us that Nimrod was building his own kingdom. He was establishing a centralized society in much the same way as the leaders United Nations and the European Union are today. His government would control resources and the workforce. A self-sufficient society, under one leader, with no need for God. Nimrod’s kingdom was to be a satanic counterfeit of the coming Messianic Kingdom, for he had established himself as mankind’s savior. Nimrod is Satan’s first attempt to raise up a human universal ruler of men. There have been many subsequent attempts, such as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Muhammad Ibn `Abd Allāh Ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and Adolf Hitler. Satan will finally succeed in his attempts with the rise of the the Antichrist.

The Corpus Christianum and Judaism have been influenced and corrupted by the adoption of the rituals and practices of Babylon’s Mystery Religion. The Torah specifically forbids this where it is written, “When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32 KJV).

The Book of Exodus also says, “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee” (Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:32-33).

The influence of Babylon’s Mystery Religion doesn’t end with the corruption of the Corpus Christianum and Judaism. As previously stated, Mystery Babylon is the basis for any and all other religions in the world. The Apostle John wrote, “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Revelation 17:1-6 KJV).

Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him. It is said that there are three major Abrahamic religions. These  are reputed  to be, in chronological order of founding, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Judaism regards itself as the religion of the descendants of Jacob, a grandson of Abraham. It has a strictly unitary view of God (YHWH), and the central holy book for almost all branches is the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as elucidated in the Oral Torah (Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash).

Christianity began as a sect of Judaism in the Mediterranean Basin of the 1st century CE and evolved into a separate religion, the Christian Church, with distinctive beliefs and practices. The Christian Bible (Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah) is usually held to be the ultimate authority, alongside Sacred Tradition in some denominations (such as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy).

Islam arose in Arabia in the 7th century CE with a strictly unitary view of God (Allah). Muslims (adherents of Islam) typically hold the Qur’an to be the ultimate authority, as revealed and elucidated through the teachings and practices of Muhammad.

Less well-known Abrahamic religions, originally offshoots of Shi’a Islam, include the Bahá’í Faith and Druze.

Although Islam claims to be a Abrahamic religion and monotheistic, it is neither. It may make references to some Patriarchs from Judaism and Christianity, but in almost all cases the backgrounds and personal attributes of these characters are not in harmony with the Tanakh or B’rit Chadashah.

Almost all scholars agree that Babylon was the source of all pagan religions in the world. Nimrod was the human father of idolatry and paganism. Even to this day, the earth is still held tightly in the Mystery Religion of Nimrod. Alexander Hislop taught that mythological persons like Adonis, Apollo, Bacchus, Cupid, Dagon, Hercules, Janus, Mars, Mithra, Moloch, Orion, Osiris, Pluto, Saturn, Vulcan, Zoraster, and many more, were all Nimrod.

A star (or stars) and crescent featuring in some combination form the basis of symbols widely found across the ancient world, with examples attested from the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia. The star and crescent appear in combination in finds from in and around ancient Israel. It has been associated with the Moabites (14th or early 13th – 6th century BC), as the symbol or symbols appear on what are thought to be Moabite name seals. Crescents appearing together with a star or stars are a common feature of Sumerian iconography, the crescent usually being associated with the moon god Sin (Nanna to the Sumerians) and the star (often identified as Venus) with Ishtar (Inanna to the Sumerians). However, in this context, there is a third element often seen, that being the sun disk of Shamash. Academic discussion of a star or stars together with crescents in Sumerian representations does not always clearly indicate if they appear in isolation (the “star and crescent” as such) or as part of a triad of symbols, “the three celestial emblems, the sun disk of Shamash (Utu to the Sumerians), the crescent of Sin (Nanna), and the star of Ishtar” or “the crescent of Sin (the moon god), the star of Ishtar and the ray of Shamash”. All of the gods mentioned in connection to the star and crescent symbol are either Nimrod or his mother and wife (Nimrod married his mother) Semiramis (Queen of Heaven). Nimrod and Semiramis, were the prototypes for all pagan gods and goddesses that permeated all subsequent cultures and societies.

The Arabs, before the time of Muhammed, accepted and worshiped, after a fashion, a supreme god called Allah. Interestingly, not many Muslims want to accept that Allah was already being worshipped at the Kabba in Mecca by Arab pagans before Muhammad came. Some Muslims become angry when they are confronted with this fact. The name Allah, as the Qur’an itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa.

In Old Testament times, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), the last king of Babylon, built Tayma, Arabia as a center of Moon-god worship. Scholars have noted that South Arabia’s stellar religion has always been dominated by the Moon-god in various variations. Many scholars have also noticed that the Moon-god’s name “Sin” is a part of such Arabic words as “Sinai,” the “wilderness of Sin,” etc. When the popularity of the Moon-god waned elsewhere, the Arabs remained true to their conviction that the Moon-god was the greatest of all gods. While they worshipped 360 gods at the Kaaba in Mecca, the Moon-god was the chief deity. Mecca was in fact built as a shrine for the Moon-god.

Allah is Al-Ilah, which is related to Enlil, Baal, Baili, and to many other false gods. So Allah, contrary to popular belief, was not invented by Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, but in fact existed before his birth. Muhammad’s father’s name was Abdullah, abd in the Arabic language refers to a slave/servant therefore Abdullah means servant of Allah. In an allegory, a poem was written centred on Gilgamesh (Nimrod). The goddess is addressed and scolded for trying to kill Gilgamesh.

Tammuz, the lover of thy youth. Thou causest to weep every year. The bright-colored Allahu bird thou didst love. Thou didst crush him and break his pinions.”
(James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, Vol. IX, Unabridged Edition, The Scapegoat)

The Allahu bird in Islam symbolizes the Archangel of Death. As with everything else in Islam, it is a culture founded upon death and conquest, not peace as Muslims claim and would like everyone to believe.

Archaeological evidence proves that the symbol of the crescent moon and the star and the name of Allah were in use as far back as 2,500 BCE, 3,100 years before the founding of Islam.

The Holy Bible teaches that God cannot be tempted by evil and neither tempts anyone with evil. Evil is understood as referring to immorality and sin. Specifically, immorality and sin is the transgression of the law. The law defines all sin and immorality in the Torah.

King David wrote, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalms 5:4-5 KJV).

The Apostle James wrote, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:13-17 KJV).

The Prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13 KJV).

In stark contrast, the Qur’an teaches that Allah is the author of evil. “Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is He Who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little; Swaying between this (and that), (belonging) neither to these nor to those. He whom Allah causeth to go astray, thou (O Muhammad) wilt not find a way for him: O ye who believe! Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of believers. Would ye give Allah a clear warrant against you?” (Qur’an Surah 4:142-144).

The Torah teaches that God cannot lie. It says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 KJV).

The Apostle John recorded Yeshua’s words when he wrote, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44 KJV).

Islam teaches and condones the practice of Taqiyya. In summary, Taqiyya means religious dissimulation. It is a practice emphasized in Shi’a Islam whereby adherents may conceal their religion when they are under threat, persecution, or compulsion. This means a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are under those risks.

The Apostle Matthew recorded Yeshua’s words and wrote, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV).

The Qur’an teaches, “He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him” (Qur’an Surah 112:1-4). The “Oneness of Allah” is taught in every sect and offshoot of Islam. The inscriptions on the outside of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem make many blasphemous statements concerning God and Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).

The Apostle John wrote, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23 KJV).

Coincidentally, the Dome of the Rock was built over the wrong rock. This fulfilled many prophecies including the prophecy recorded by the Apostle John when he wrote, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2 KJV). Not only does God’s prophetic words always come true, but in some ways we can see that He has a sense of humor.

There can only be one truth. The Qur’an contradicts itself many times. The Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah have no contradiction or errors as they are the infallible Word of God. Allah is not God, Muhammad was not a prophet and the Qur’an is not holy. All things come full circle, and all false religions were born in Babylon. It is written, “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16 KJV).

No Soliciting

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 John 1:7-11 ESV)

The context of this passage clearly refers to traveling teachers or preachers working against true Christian teaching. Do not receive them into your house. Such a welcome would give the appearance of endorsing the false teaching. This is not a prohibition about showing the hospitality to sinners for which Yeshua was well known and criticized (Matthew 9:10–13; 11:19).

The Apostle Paul also warned against overzealous separation from non-believers. “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10 ESV).

It is rather false Christians (cults and apostate groups) that require caution and perhaps rejection. “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you”” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13 ESV).

The significance of the Apostle John’s call to reject any false teacher was heightened in a society that considered hospitality a great virtue. Hospitality, much admired in both Greco-Roman and Jewish sources (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8), was much needed in an era when inns could be dangerous and unpleasant.

To greet such a person meant to extend approval, assistance, and full fellowship. To support someone who is working against the true Christian message makes those supporting them liable for that person’s guilt.

The gospel is unchanging. Therefore, the Apostle Paul pronounces a curse of final judgment on those who proclaim or receive a different gospel. Even if one of the Apostles or an angel from heaven were to preach such a gospel, believers should reject it. Mormonism, Islam and Jehovah’s Witnesses are examples of religions that are based on revelation supposedly given by an angel and that teaches a gospel different from justification by faith alone in the substitutionary death of Yeshua.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

Seventh Heaven

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
(Psalms 19:1 KJV)

The Third Heaven is a spiritual division of the universe within Judeo-Christian cosmology. In some traditions it is considered the abode of God, and in others a lower level of Paradise, commonly one of seven. Seven Heavens is a part of religious cosmology found in many major religions such as Islam, Judaism and Hinduism and in some minor religions such as Hermeticism and Gnosticism. The Divine Throne is said to be in or above the seventh heaven in most Abrahamic religions.

It is believed that the origin of this myth goes back to astrology. Ancient astrologists could identify seven great heavenly objects and assumed each was floating in a separate heaven. The number seven in Biblical references symbolically represented perfect completion, as in the seven-day week, the seven eyes and horns seen on the Lamb of God in The Book of Revelation, and the seventh in the generations of Adam: Lamech who was completely wicked, and Enoch who walked with God.

According to Jewish teachings in the Talmud, the universe is made of seven heavens (Shamayim). Vilon (Isaiah 40:22), also called Arafel, Raki’a  (Genesis 1:17), Shehaqim (Psalms 78:23), Zebul (Isaiah 63:15, I Kings 8:13), Ma’on (Deuteronomy 26:15, Psalms 42:9), Machon (1 Kings 7:30, Deuteronomy 28:12), and Araboththe seventh Heaven where the ofanim, the seraphim, the hayyoth and the throne of the Lord are located.

The Jewish Merkavah and Heichalot literature was devoted to discussing the details of these heavens, sometimes in connection with traditions relating to Enoch, such as the Third Book of Enoch.

The Hebrew Bible does not mention third heaven or the number of heavens.

References to distinct concepts known as “Heaven” ( Shamayim) occur in the very earliest books of the Tanakh. The second use of the word heaven, in Genesis 1:8 and 20 refers to the atmosphere over the earth in which birds fly. The third, mentioned in Genesis 1:14, is the setting for the celestial lights, later identified (Genesis 1:16) as the sun, moon and stars. The first use of the word heaven is used in Genesis 1:1 to describe the heaven of heavens (Deuteronomy 10:14) the light creation in Genesis 1:3 is all the celestial beings such as the angels and the very image that the Spirit of God makes for Himself to receive glory on the throne of God as God. When God divided the light from darkness (Genesis 1:4-5) this was the separation of the Heaven of Heavens into two sections Day (God’s throne) and Night (where our universe is contained).

A third concept of Heaven, also called shamayi h’shamayim (the “Heaven of Heavens”) is mentioned in such passages as Genesis 28:12, Deuteronomy 10:14 and 1 Kings 8:27 as a distinctly spiritual realm containing (or being traveled by) angels and God Himself.

Due to the ambiguity of the term “Heaven” as it is used in the books of the Tanakh, and the fact that the word in Hebrew, shamayim, is plural, a number of interpretations have been offered for various texts involving its nature, notably the assumption of the prophet Elijah.

An Epistle of the Apostle Paul, included in the Brit Chadashah, contains an explicit reference to the Third Heaven. In a letter to the Corinthian church he writes, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 KJV). The Greek says “caught away”, not “caught up” possibly reflecting Jewish beliefs that Paradise was somewhere other than the uppermost heaven.

The apparent parallelism of the passage equates the Third Heaven with “Paradise” the traditional destination of redeemed humans and the general connotation of the term “Heaven” in mainstream Christianity.

Four allusions to the Apocalypse of Moses occur in close proximity in 2 Corinthians. The allusions are “Satan as an angel of light”, the distinction of Satan and the serpent as two beings, “Third Heaven” and “Paradise”, the connection to this Jewish material has led to discussion about whether Paul accepted these traditions, or alternatively whether Paul’s vision of Third Heaven is a continuation of his conflict with the Superapostles in the previous chapter, and that the material comes not from his own teaching, but in reply to material similar to Apocalypse of Moses being transmitted by the Superapostles to the Corinthians. Whether this is so partly depends on whether irony is detected in this section. The relationship of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism is still widely disputed among many people.

This article will not discuss the beliefs of Islam, Hinduism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism any further regarding their theology on this subject. Sound Doctrine Ministries mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah and provide glory to God, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore, the doctrines and theology of these false religions are of no further interest to us  regarding this topic.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:6-8 KJV)

The English word “firmament” in the Bible is a translation of the Hebrew, raqiameaning “expanse.” Its meaning is not “firm boundary” as Biblical critics have alleged, but might be better paraphrased as “stretched-out thinness” or simply “space.”

Its first occurrence in the Bible relates it to heaven  (Genesis 1:6-8). This firmament obviously could not be a solid boundary above the sky, but is essentially the atmosphere, the “first heaven,” the “space” where the birds were to “fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Genesis 1:20).

Many Young Earth Creationists have interpreted the “waters above the firmament” as a theoretical water canopy which once surrounded the Earth but no longer exists (their source of the waters of Noah’s flood). This is incorrect when closely examined within the literal framework of the Genesis narrative. The reason is because of what is said in this next passage.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
(Genesis 1:14-19 KJV)

There is a second firmament, or second heaven, where God placed the sun, moon, and stars, stretching out into the infinite reaches of space. (Genesis 1:17).

The Prophet Ezekiel’s had a vision in which he described seeing God as attended and served by a vast company of angels, who are all his messengers, his ministers, doing his commandments. Ezekiel then described the firmament beneath the very throne of God, and above the mighty cherubim  who seem always in Scripture to indicate the near presence of God.

And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
(Ezekiel 1:22-23 KJV)

This glorious firmament, brilliantly crystalline in appearance, must be “the third heaven” which the Apostle Paul described in his epistle to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

There are three “firmaments” or “heavens” mentioned in the Bible, atmospheric space (Genesis 1:20), stellar space (Genesis 1:17), and the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:2), where God’s throne is located.

The firmament deals with the structure of the present heavens and Earth. There is presently a three heavens structure. Again, let’s look back at Genesis 1:6-8 and more closely examine that passage to determine the present structure.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:6-8 KJV)

On the second day of the creation, God “divided” the waters (plural) into two parts with a “firmament” in the midst. According to the Genesis narrative, both the waters that were upon the face of the Earth and the waters which God placed above the firmament He called Seas.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:9-10 KJV)

This is important to understand. We know that the waters on the Earth are called “Seas” in the Bible, but there is also another “Sea” that is spoken of in the Scriptures, and that one is above the firmament. During the six days of the Creation, God defined three heavens.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
(Genesis 1:14-15 KJV)

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
(Genesis 1:20 KJV)

These two heavens constitute a continuum called the “firmament,” and this firmament is collectively called “Heaven”.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:8 KJV)

The Third Heaven is above this higher “Sea,” and this higher sea is before and below the Throne of God.

And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
(Revelation 4:6 KJV)

Therefore, this particular “Sea” above the firmament is above the known physical universe. Since the sun, moon and stars are “in” the firmament this “Sea” must be above them. This is difficult for the mankind and science to understand, but it is a Scriptural fact on cosmology.  It represents a firm and impassable barrier between the world of man and the Kingdom of God.

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
(Psalms 148:4 KJV)

This is almost certainly the firmament or sea that John saw in his visions.  This is the present sea of separation that will no longer exist when God destroys the old world and makes all things new after the Reign of Yeshua during the Millennial Kingdom and the final judgment that follows.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
(Revelation 21:1 KJV)

This now gives us a better understanding of what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he speaks of a place called the third heaven.

Although the third heaven is not directly mentioned in the Genesis narrative, the established structure of all things is defined in Genesis and, when understood, allows us to comprehend exactly where and what Paul was talking about when he mentions the third heaven in his epistle to the Corinthians. It also gives the reader a better understanding of John’s vision in Revelation. Again, when the Lord God divided the waters He created a boundary which presently exists between the two lower heavens (which constitute the firmament) and the third heaven (where the throne of God is). That boundary is that “Sea,” and again that “sea” is above the two heavens of the firmament. It is also likened in passages of Scripture to crystal or smooth glass.

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
(Revelation 15:2 KJV)

All three heavens “declare the glory of God” and all three firmaments “sheweth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Therefore, we should “Praise God in His sanctuary” and also “praise Him in the firmament of His power” (Psalm 150:1).

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 KJV)

Many times throughout my life, I have likened the universe to a type of snow globe on Almighty God’s desktop. This study of the firmament and the order of the universe does nothing if not prove that analogy to be very accurate.