I Am

Rene Descartes, the father of subjective philosophy, wrote, “I think, therefore I am.”  Descartes believed that our mind knew itself more directly than what the senses perceived of the outside world.  He argued that philosophy should start with your thoughts, perhaps emphasizing individualism, and then we should doubt everything else.

Subjective philosophy is based on deductive thinking or on knowing something a priori.  You may infer knowledge with this gift without examination or analysis.  Whether it is through instinct or presumption, your thinking is the “I am” in Descartes’ statement.

Let’s start by defining “I am.”  Does it simply mean that “I am thinking”?  If we insert this definition into Descartes statement it becomes:  “I think, therefore I am thinking.”  Of course, this is true, but Descartes must have considered “I am” to be more than just thoughts.  The thinking may lead to “I am,” but what is “I am”?

Grammatically, “I am” is the present first person singular of the verb to be.  The conjugation of the verb is:  I am; you are; he, she, or it is; we are; you are; and they are.  Is “I am” a form of being?   Does it mean “I exist”?  Does it mean “I am aware”?  Or does it mean all these things and more?

The famous soliloquy by Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play of the same name should be included in our analysis of “I am” because of “am’s” connection to the infinitive verb “to be.”   

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause
: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveler returns
, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action…”

Hamlet’s question “to be or not to be” may be similar to my question of “I am or I am not?”  Could Hamlet have been asking when he dies, would he “be” or would he “not be”?  Some interpret the question as Hamlet pondering whether to commit suicide or not.  Even though Hamlet mentions “by opposing, end them…” and “he himself might with his quietus make with a bare bodkin” as potential terminations to his life, he appears to be more concerned with the afterlife or “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.”  Hamlet may have worried that suicide actually would not have been a termination. 

If death were as simple as falling asleep, then why would we go through the torture of living our lives?  But Hamlet recognizes a potential problem.  “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause…”  What if we had nightmares in this sleep of death?  It is the fear of what comes after death in that “undiscovered country” that prevents us from embracing death.

Hamlet may not have been as concerned with the act of suicide during his lifetime, as he was with what might follow after the suicide.  He stated that he might fall asleep in death, but that was “the rub,” because anything could happen in that sleep of death.  We might have horrible dreams for infinity.  That would give you pause before taking your life and you might “lose the name of action” to commit suicide.

So is “to be” similar to “I am”?  And is “not to be” like “I am not”?  There certainly are similarities.  We can argue that Shakespeare’s “to be” was the predecessor to the “I am” of Descartes.  Descartes could have been inspired by “Hamlet.”  Certainly, the two thoughts were close in time and may have been close in meaning.      

What happens if we define “to be” and “I am” as existing?  Then “not to be” and “I am not” could be interpreted as not existing.  In other words, while we are living, we are “I am,” but when we die, we become “I am not.”  Thus Descartes statement becomes, “I think, therefore I exist” during our lives.  But is this simple definition sufficient to define “I am”? 

Perceived existence is based on what we see in our universe.  We are either living or not in our temporal stay in this universe.  But how does the invisible part of our universe factor into the equation?  How would you define “to be” or “I am” as it relates to the invisible part of our universe?   

Scientists know that we can only see about 5% of our universe.  The great majority is dark matter and dark energy.  We not only cannot see it, but we are still learning about dark matter and don’t even know what dark energy is.  So how do we know something exits if we can’t see it and can’t define it?  Well, the scientists use a mathematical calculation, telling them that about 68% of the universe exists, but we don’t know what it is.  So, we call it dark energy.  The remaining 27% is called dark matter, which also is invisible.  That means a total of 95% of our universe is out of sight.  So, relying on what we can observe, a posteriori, does not appear to be a good option for us.

The law of conservation states that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our closed universe.  If the Big Bang created our universe, this creation had to occur outside the boundary of our universe.  The creator’s universe is invisible to us.  And the mystery of dark energy pales in comparison to the mystery of God’s universe.

The law of conservation of matter and energy is important for another reason.  If you are “I am” during your brief lifetime, what will you be after death?  If you are a nonbeliever and you say that you will be “I am not” after death, then how does that comport with the law of conservation?  In other words, if the “I am” cannot be destroyed in our universe, it must remain infinitely “I am” in a recycling universe.  In our universe, if you believe you are “I am not” in death, you must also argue that you are “I am not” in life, which runs into many practical and scientific problems. 

The inference is that we are “I am” during life or we wouldn’t even be thinking about it.  Like Sherlock Holmes, we deduce that since we are aware of our surroundings, we are “I am” in life.  And if we are “I am” during life, then we will be “I am” during the afterlife because nothing can be destroyed in our universe.  However, it will be a naked “I am” in a perilous world without time and a humane end for “I am.”  

We deduced that dark energy existed without any observations or dark energy sightings.  We also cannot see any evidence of God in our universe other than the existence of our universe itself and the Big Bang theory.  Without any physical proof, Christians believe, a priori, in God.  Just like the missing piece called dark energy, believers supply the missing piece of the one who created our universe.

So, how does “I am” fit into God’s kingdom?  I’m not certain, but it is very interesting to note that there would be no consequences for our misdeeds on earth if we went from “I am” in life to “I am not” in death.  But if the law of conservation is to be believed, then there will be consequences when your “I am” crosses into the afterlife.  That’s what Hamlet was agonizing about, because there could be ugly consequences waiting in that undiscovered country if you are still “I am” or as Hamlet states “to be.”  Hamlet might have wondered if he would still be thinking, existing, or being in the afterlife.  

In a closed universe, creation of that universe occurs outside the edges of that universe.  God’s kingdom is outside the boundary.  The magic and mystery of God’s universe could never be explained applying what we know in our universe.  The laws of physics probably are completely different in God’s world.  Your “I am” may have to pass tests in order to leave the universe of perpetual nightmares to enter into the kingdom of God.  I have no idea what these tests might be, but the Bible refers to a judgment numerous times with at least three levels of judgments. 

Paul, who talked to Jesus after His resurrection, refers to three levels of heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2.  Paul, who may be the most reliable source in the Bible with his first-hand accounts, admitted that he did not know whether he met Jesus in the body or out of the body, but Jesus reached the third heaven.    

In order to be prepared for this journey through the dark side to reach any of these heavens, your “I am” must prepare properly during your lifetime.  You must consider facing the consequences in the afterlife for what you have done during your life.  So, let’s think about that preparation.  The first step may be to think and have faith, therefore “I am.”  The second step may be in being like Jesus… being like the great “I am.”  Jesus referred to Himself as “I am.”  The preparation comes from studying the actions and teachings of Jesus, so you can be more like Him in both life and the afterlife.  The third step is beyond our comprehension.  However if I unify with God, He is “I am.”  When Moses was talking to God in Chapter 3 of Exodus, God told Moses to know him as ‘I am.’ 

What does all this mean?  It is difficult to say, but it may mean that if you are aware of God and He exists in your thoughts, then He is ‘I am.’  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.”  Jesus also was focused on what we think as much as what we do in the Beatitudes.  There are many sections in the Bible which tell us that we will not be initially judged by our works, but by our faith and thoughts. 

Why was Jesus so concerned about our thoughts?  Is it possible that He knew that the first test in the afterlife was entirely based on our thoughts?  Jesus offers two primary benefits over other religions: (1) erasing all your sins, so you will not carry guilt into your thoughts after death and (2) providing a human face and personality for God, so that your imagination will not create an angry ogre.

Jesus can be thought of in human form, but it is difficult for us to envision God.  If we tried to imagine God, who knows what He would look like.  We might conjure up an angry giant in our thoughts.  But Jesus is the way to God because He has a human face and a pleasant disposition.  We would not fear Jesus, but we might fear God.  It may be best that Jesus is in our thoughts, not God, when we die.  But there is probably much more required than just having Jesus in your thoughts.

What other preparation is necessary?  When you die, your senses may disappear, leaving you deep in subjective thought just like Descartes taught.  Sensory deprivation may initially be relaxing, allowing you to reach a deeper state of meditation; however, longer terms of sensory deprivation may have the opposite effect, leading to anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, nightmares, and depression.

Sensory deprivation has been used by the military as a method of questioning prisoners with some degree of success.  But it is a form of torture.  The European Court of Human Rights held that the British soldiers were employing inhuman and degrading treatment when they used sensory deprivation to interrogate Northern Irish prisoners. 

If you are not thinking after you die, then this will be great news for both nonbelievers and believers.  Why is it good news for believers?  If you are thinking after death whether you are a nonbeliever or believer, you will suffer consequences for your wretched life.  What can you do to avoid the torture that is ahead from sensory deprivation for infinity?  This is where the believer has an advantage over the nonbeliever.

If you are conscious and Jesus is in your thoughts when you die, then He exists.  Your thoughts connect.  Jesus can also say, “I am.”  If you are thinking of Jesus when you die, then your thoughts make Him exist.  You are unified with Him.  He is the great ‘I am.’  You think about God and Jesus, therefore ‘I am.’  And ‘I am,’ therefore I am aware.  But it may be much more than just awareness.

Have you ever looked into the mirror and wondered who was staring back at you?  Is it the “I am” who is looking into the mirror or is “I am” staring back at you?  In effect, you and the person in the mirror are on opposite sides from each other, yet look very much alike.  How do you know which, if either, is the real “I am”?  One of you may be “I am” and the other one may be “I am not.”  But this is an objective perspective, which really does not matter in subjective thinking.  The only “I am” that is important is the one that is doing the thinking.

Is the reverse statement also true: I am, therefore I think?  The reverse may be a more accurate statement than “I think, therefore I am.”  “I am” may include thinking and existing and being and believing and self-controlling and many more attributes.   “I think” is not the same as “I am.”  “I am” is much more than thinking.  

Does existence require thinking?  If we did not think, then we probably would not exist or at least would not exist as we do now.  It is like the tree that falls in the woods, making no sound if nobody is standing nearby.  In other words, existence may occur without us being aware of it, but it is our being conscious of this existence that requires a thinking that appears to be unique in our species.   Without our existence, there may be nobody thinking like humans.  Animal existence does not require thinking like we humans think.  We still might exist like an animal reacting instinctively to stimuli without independent thinking.  But we are given “free will” so that we decide what to do, making choices every day.  So, “I am” must be more than simple thought and existence.

Thus, “I am” is more than thinking and it is more than existence.  So what is it?  “I am” must be a primal consciousness or awareness of your surroundings.  When you look into the mirror and see the person staring back, you, as the being aware of your surroundings, are the “I am.”  Even if the person staring back at you is also aware of his surroundings, it does not detract from your awareness.  In fact, the person staring back at you is irrelevant to your “I am.”  It could even be the opposite, “I am not,” but it does not matter because of the individual basis for subjective thinking. 

In effect, it only matters about your “I am” and what that means to you not only in life, but more importantly in the afterlife.  And this is true for the over seven billion people walking the earth.  They also are irrelevant to your “I am.”  Only your individual consciousness is judged for meeting the definition of “I am.”  But is this individual awareness enough?

We are distracted throughout most of our lives and our awareness is desensitized by our everyday pattern of existence: getting ready for work, going to work, eating meals, going to the bathroom, taking care of family, and sleeping.  It is hard to focus on what is really important.  But if you set aside 15 minutes of each day to meditate, then more than likely you will reach a level of controlled awareness.  You may start to discover a sense of “I am.”   But what amount of controlled, individual awareness might be sufficient to be considered “I am”?

If we are not thinking when we die, then there can be no Descartes’ “I am.”  Thinking is a basic ingredient for “I am,” but, as we said earlier, it is more than thinking.  And it is more than existence.  Existence can be without any purpose or direction.  And it is more than awareness.  Being aware without focus can lead to chaos.  So what is “I am”?  Well, it is a generous amount of controlled, individual consciousness.  The recipe for “I am” calls for thinking, existence, and awareness, but they have to be mixed together in an extreme, controlled environment following the directions.  A cook not following the precise directions will soon be out of control.  What will satisfy this generous amount of control that is needed?  

It is a Godly control.  We must turn over the steering wheel to God and Jesus and let them drive you through the unknown territory of deep thought, avoiding the pitch black of chaos.  For without your senses, you will have no road map or compass to guide you.  Individualism is important in the preparation for control employing discipline and self-control.  But you cannot control your awareness by yourself, so you have to reach out for the creator’s help.

God and Jesus certainly exist in their universe no matter what we do, but it is likely they cannot exist in our universe unless we are thinking of them.  God’s kingdom where creation occurred is outside our closed universe.  But God and Jesus can connect with us through our thoughts.  Our thoughts are all we will have after we die.  Our senses will be gone; but we will think, therefore we will be aware.  But we need a powerful, controlled awareness through God.    

Your primary thought when you die should be to exist with ‘I am.’  You should immediately become one with Jesus in your thoughts.  The unification with Jesus in death will be easier if you had communicated with Him while you were alive.  If you are thinking and existing and are aware at death in a controlled environment, then you are ‘I am’ and you will meld with Jesus ‘I am’ and later with God ‘I am.’  Your faith in Jesus and God will give you the control that you need so that you will not be drawn into chaos.  Thinking, existence, and awareness without God’s control could lead to infinite nightmares.

Your religion should be, “I think, therefore I am.”  And the ‘I am’ is within you united with Jesus and God as one.

Et Tu, Judas?

One of the famous lines in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is: “Et tu, Brute?”  The translation is “And you too, Brutus?” spoken by Caesar during his assassination when he was surprised to find his friend Marcus Brutus in the group.

Jesus might have said the same to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.  However, Jesus may have modified the statement to be:  “And you too, Judas, like the other apostles, you do not understand what my purpose is on earth.”  Christ had to be frustrated with all of the apostles since they never fully understood His teachings and what His ultimate goal was in life. 

The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot may offer a different perspective… one that may rehabilitate the villain described in Matthew who sold out Jesus for 30 silver pieces simply because he wanted the money.  Perhaps, there was more to the story.  The Gospel of Judas may depict Judas as the only disciple who did understand what Jesus was doing on earth. 

We also may discover a different perspective if we apply what we know the most about and that was the teachings of Jesus.  One of the problems with the stories in the Bible is that they are not always factually based.  Many are oral stories that were handed down to scribes who reduced it to writing 60 to 80 years after the incidents occurred.  But oral history is not as reliable as written history. 

The letters of Paul are the oldest writings and may be the most reliable because they were transcribed immediately.  Paul was authentic, but the other authors may or may not have been the Apostle announced in the book’s title.  It was common practice to prepare writings using a famous person’s name. 

It was also common practice to tell stories to fit the times, circumstances, and agenda of the author.  The practice of obtaining accurate facts was not as important with oral accounts.  Back in the first century, only about 10% of the citizens were literate, so oral histories were passed from generation to generation.  Many stories of the Bible were passed along by word of mouth and were finally written as much as 80 years after Jesus died.

I remember I started whispering a message around one of my college classes with ten students.  By the time the message was announced aloud to the group by the tenth person, the message was distorted to such an extent that it wasn’t even similar to the original statement.  Oral histories are usually suspect.

The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot probably was not even written by Judas, and the facts provided in that story may be less than reliable.  But that should not stop us from analyzing it.  Many of these stories gave us insight into what society was like back in those days.  And in the case of the Gospel of Judas, we can discover more about the Gnostic approach to Christianity and another interpretation of the relationship between Jesus and Judas.

It is interesting that Christians adopt Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and consolidate all the stories into a mega-Gospel as if they were all correct, even when they are in conflict with each other.  Perhaps a better approach would be to analyze them separately as four different accounts of Christ with none receiving any more credibility than the others, but all being treated equally as four oral histories of the same events.

Mark tells the story about Judas betraying Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with a kiss, but does not offer a reason why he turned his teacher over to the servants of the chief priest who wanted to do harm to him.  Matthew indicated that Judas sold out Jesus for the money and then he hanged himself after Jesus was crucified.  Luke does not provide a reason why Judas betrayed his close friend.

We are left to ponder why Judas would have betrayed Jesus.  We may argue that there are at least six logical reasons.

1.       1.  Judas, like all the other apostles, did not understand Jesus and his mission.  Many considered the Messiah as a military leader, who would lead the Jewish nation in battle to defeat their enemies.  Judas may have wanted to compel Jesus and the crowds that followed him into taking action by turning him over to the authorities.  In other words, Jesus might be forced into leading His people if He were placed in a confrontational environment.  But this reasoning has flaws since Judas did not follow up this action by agitating the crowd to support Jesus and to attack the guards who held Jesus.  It is possible that Judas was stunned into silence when Jesus did not fight back, simply allowing the guards to take Him away.  This reason has some merit and should not be summarily dismissed.

2.      2.  Judas may have given in to the temptation of a material world.  Matthew mentions that Judas received thirty pieces of silver in exchange for betraying Jesus and then indicates that Judas threw the money down in the Temple after Judas realized the consequences of his act.  Matthew was very interested in matching the story of Jesus with the Old Testament prophesies, so he may have been working hard to include facts from Zecharia 11:12-13, which referenced a shepherd being paid thirty shekels of silver, who threw the silver into the treasury of the house of the Lord.  Zecharia is very confusing, so it is difficult finding a nexus to Judas and the time of Christ.  This is an interesting idea because it shows that the apostles were human, but it is less likely that greed would have been an issue with Judas or any of the apostles.  They had given up their lives, family, and earthly possessions to follow Jesus.  Returning to their former lives would have been more enticing than thirty pieces of silver.  Also, if you examine the laws of Moses, you will find that thirty shekels of silver was not that valuable.  It was the price paid if a neighbor’s ox gored your slave, Exodus 21:32.  It is more likely that Matthew wanted to include the references to silver in the story to correspond with some facts in Zecharia, which unfortunately only muddied the water.  Whether this amount of money would have tempted Judas to give us his teacher, nobody knows for certain.        

3.      3.  Jesus may have asked Judas to take this action to intentionally put him in harm’s way.  Even though the high priests wanted Jesus dead, there was no legal basis for crucifying him so the crowds of people may have protested if the priests had taken Jesus during the daytime.  Jesus may have told Judas to bring the soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane at night so there would be no rebellion by the people.  The argument is that Jesus wanted the prophecy from the Old Testament to come true.  But trying to think like Jesus, He would have been more interested in protecting the crowds from any harm, than ensuring that a prophecy came to fruition.  It was the high priests who orchestrated the events that led up to his crucifixion anyway, so Jesus was already in harm’s way.  Also, it is not likely that Jesus would have intentionally placed this burden on Judas.  Jesus knew the future of Judas and would not have caused him this grief and affliction.  It probably was a decision made by Judas, rather than Judas following the instructions of Jesus to turn Him in to the high priests.  See reasons 4 and 5.  

4.      4.  The author of Acts (also the same author of Luke) thought that the betrayal of Jesus by Judas was part of the divine plan, Acts 1:16.  It was God and Jesus who made Judas do it.  We see this message carried throughout both Luke and Acts.  The facts and reasoning behind the stories about Judas in these two Books may be prejudiced by the agenda of the author.  Quite frankly, all things are created and designed by God.  And even though God and Jesus may know the future, we are still given freedom of choice.  The fact that God and Jesus knew in advance which choice Judas was going to make does not excuse his choice.  Judas made a decision to betray Jesus.  We may never know why he made that choice.  Jesus may have ensured that the betrayal was at night to protect the crowds from injury, but the decision to betray Jesus was owned by Judas.    

5.      5.  Judas may have been angry that Jesus was not going to stand up to their enemies and, rather instead, was talking about being crucified.  This probably would have been a tremendous disappointment to the followers of Jesus, who never truly understood what He was doing.  Judas may have viewed this as going from a king, who Judas was willing to follow to the death, to becoming no better than a criminal sentenced to die nailed to the cross.  Judas may have abandoned the cause at that point and may have considered Jesus a traitor to their cause.  This appears to be a potentially good possibility.  The prophets experienced a range of emotions as they traveled with Jesus, certainly including anger.

6.      6.  Jesus may have gone to His most trusted disciple, Judas, asking him to go to the high priests to set the stage for the final act.  Judas was different from the other prophets who worshiped the God of this world, who was not the God of Jesus.  Judas’ betrayal allowed the spirit of Jesus to escape the trappings of His material body.  This last reason is actually the one found in the Lost Gospel of Judas, representing a Gnostic approach to Christianity.   

Which interpretation is correct?  Nobody knows.  Judas may have betrayed Jesus without truly understanding the consequences.  Even though, we have offered six potential reasons why Judas betrayed Jesus, the motivation of Judas may never be clear.  Judas had seen miracles performed by Jesus and might have thought that Jesus could easily rescue Himself from this peril.  Perhaps, Judas believed that the followers of Jesus would fight the guards.  There aren’t enough facts to hazard a guess as to what Judas was thinking and perhaps there is too much focus on Judas.  All we really know is that Judas was a human just like us, who made bad decisions.  One of them might have been the betrayal of Jesus.  The reason behind that decision really is not that important other than to realize that we all betray Jesus when we make bad choices. 

Let’s focus on Jesus, rather than Judas.  We know that Jesus would have worked hard to protect innocent people.  Jesus was aware that He was to be sacrificed, but He would not have wanted the crowds to suffer for this event.  Jesus would have ensured that nobody was hurt, as He did when he restrained Peter from using his sword to strike one of the abductors and then subsequently in healing the injured ear.  Jesus may have wanted Judas to bring the guards to him at night so that His followers would not be hurt, as a fight would be more likely during the daylight hours.  This seems to match more closely how Jesus might have viewed His approaching death.  He would have been more interested in protecting others than in protecting himself.   

The stories in the New Testament are all very important, but they should be read against the backdrop of the teachings of Jesus.  If you apply the heart and soul of Jesus and His teachings to the stories about Him, you may have a different perspective revealing a different story… a story that does not force fit the facts to old prophecies, but is a natural progression toward a new world that awaits believers of the gift of Jesus and what He gave us during His life on earth.

The Lost Gospel of Judas, an ancient Coptic text written on 62-pages of papyrus in codex or book form originally bound in leather, was discovered in a limestone box in a cave located in the Al Minya province of Middle Egypt in1978.  The ownership of the document after its discovery still is something of a mystery.  

The documents started deteriorating after leaving the protection of the dry environment of an Egyptian desert.  There were many handlers and owners of these documents, who knew nothing about preserving and protecting them.  After the documents soaked up humidity for sixteen years inside a damp bank vault in a strip mall on Long Island, an owner decided to freeze the document, thinking it would preserve it.  Of course, it did just the opposite.  Freezing caused a partial destruction of sap holding the papyrus fibers together.  This caused the document to become more fragile and break into pieces with any pressure.  It also caused the writing to darken, making it more difficult to read.    

In 2001, the Maecenas Foundation, whose purpose was to restore ancient documents and return them to their nations of origin, acquired the Gospel of Judas.  The Foundation started the process of reassembling the documents.  The document had been initially roughly handled, so it had many fragments that had to be pieced together like a jig-saw puzzle without the final picture to view for assistance. 

Carbon-dating is a process that can identify when the papyrus was first cut with a 60-year margin of error.  Organic compounds absorb a radioactive isotope, carbon-14, from the atmosphere during their lives.  When the organisms die, the carbon-14 starts to decay at a constant half-life of 5,700 years.  By measuring the amount of carbon-14 that remains within the papyrus, scientists can determine about when the papyrus was prepared for use.

The scientists took five small pieces of the document from different pages and performed a carbon-14 analysis.  The result was 280 CE with a margin of 60 years on either side.  This would make it one of the earliest known documents from early Christianity.  However, Coptic experts examined the style of writing and believe that the writing may have occurred in the fourth century.

The documents turned out to be one of the earliest surviving non-canonical Gospels.  It had seven sections:  (1) a mathematical treatise written in Greek, (2) a fragmentary copy of Exodus in Greek, (3) letters from Paul in Coptic, (4) letter from Peter to Philip in Coptic, (5) the First Apocalypse of James in Coptic, and (6) the Gnostic treatise on Allogenes in Coptic, and (6) the Gospel of Judas in Coptic.  

The Gospel of Judas and the other documents were published in 2006.  The Gospel of Judas, which had never been published before, was a Gnostic writing which carried a Gnostic message, but it also contained new information about the relationship between Judas and Jesus that is not found in the New Testament.

The text of this Gospel centers on Jesus and Judas about eight days before His crucifixion.  Jesus spends time explaining to Judas the mysterious truths that nobody else understands.  Jesus told him that the divine realm where the true God lives came into being prior to the creation of humans and their world.  This world was created by less than divine Gods.  The goal of salvation is to transcend this earthly world and enter the divine realm.

In this Gospel, Jesus told Judas, “You will exceed all of them (the other disciples).  For you will sacrifice the man who clothes me.”  (56:17-21). Thus, the story indicates that Judas followed the instruction of Jesus to betray Him so that Jesus could escape the material trapping of His body and return to the divine realm.  This follows many of the Gnostic beliefs.

Again, we have to examine the Lost Gospel of Judas with some skepticism because it was written by Gnostics to promote their beliefs, which differed from other Christians and certainly from those Christians who religiously follow Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 

But that being said, this Gnostic interpretation is not completely out of bounds because the Holy Spirit and unification of our soul with God and Jesus is mentioned in the traditional Bible.  In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul talks about their being three heavens.  The Gnostics may have two in mind when they talk about the God of the earthly world and the God of the divine realm.  But the Gnostics seem to be saying that getting your ticket punched to the heaven of the earthly world is the wrong destination.  You want the ticket to the heaven in the divine world.

Interestingly enough, science may support the Gnostic predictions.  Matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our closed universe.  In effect, after we die, we remain in our universe being recycled for infinity.  However, beyond the Big Bang, there is another universe which might be referred to as the divine realm where the true God and Jesus reside for eternity.  The false God of our universe cannot truly create.  He can only transform matter and energy in a recycling bin.  The true God, the father of Jesus, is in the divine universe where creativity exists for eternity.        

The Magna Carta of Christian Liberty

In 1215, English subjects of King John forced him to accept the Magna Carta, proclaiming freedoms for citizens, limiting the king’s powers by law.  The Magna Carta led to eventual constitutional law in England and later America.  The Book of Galatians in the Bible has also been called the Magna Carta of Christian Liberty.

Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, utilized Galatians more than any other book in the Bible in developing his theology in the 16th century.  Luther taught that we are justified by our faith in Jesus Christ, not by following religious laws or making payments to the church.  In effect, Luther freed Christians from the legalistic practices of Catholicism.

Galatians 2:16 provided his foundation:  “Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”  The Apostle Paul, who wrote Galatians, was not saying that God’s law was bad.  He was simply saying that we only had to place our faith in Christ and we did not have to follow all the legalistic requirements of the Catholic religious leaders. 

Luther was very effective, in fact, so effective, he is the declared leader or the formation of the Protestant church, which broke away from the Catholic Church.  Pope Leo X in 1520 excommunicated Luther, and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1521 condemned Luther as an outlaw.  You know you are an effective religious leader when you are called an outlaw just for simply following the teachings in the Bible.

Paul was speaking to the citizens of Asia Minor, later called Turkey, who had been corrupted by Judaizers, Jewish Christians who believed in Old Testament ceremonial practices as being binding on Christians.  Paul was explaining to them in the letter to the churches in Galatia that the Judaizers were perverting the gospel of Christ.  He declared that if anyone was preaching a gospel other than having faith in Christ in order to receive God’s grace, that person should be eternally condemned (Galatians 1:9).

Paul actually saw and communicated with Christ.  He was qualified to be an apostle because of his witnessing Christ after the resurrection.  Paul was completely transformed from being a persecutor of Christians into being a devout Christian.  It was a 180-degree turn-around for him.  We give Paul a lot of credence because he was chosen by Christ to lead the church and because of his close connection to Jesus, imparting many of the secrets of faith.

Paul stated in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”  Paul was referring to the religious laws that unnecessarily restricted their freedom.  Christ did not want us to avoid his ethical teachings, but did not want us to be shackled to the human interpretations of what God wanted us to do.  There have always been false prophets, even among the religious leaders.  Jesus ran into them when he overturned the tables of the money-changers in the Temple.  Jesus ran into them when the Jewish leaders wanted him crucified. 

Paul and Martin Luther both wanted us to keep the simple thought in mind:  it is only through faith in Jesus that you will receive the grace of God, and not through works or following the law of the times.  And even the Pope and his followers could not change this simple rule.

However, the Bible is also very clear that your deeds and works will be judged by Jesus.  Don’t these two ideas conflict with each other?  They don’t if you believe Paul, who said that there are three heavens in 2 Corinthians 12:2.  Paul was very focused on the facts provided to him by Jesus, and must have received this information directly from Jesus.  The first heaven is through justification by grace alone.  The second heaven is through both faith and works or sanctification.  The third heaven is a mystery and is not discussed in the Bible, but Paul did not elaborate other than to say that this heaven is God’s kingdom or paradise.

It is important to remember that your faith in Jesus is the first step.  It is the only way to receive Gods’ grace for the first heaven.  You should exercise self-control and lead a good life following the teachings of Jesus so that you will have sanctification for the second heaven.  I honestly do not know anymore than Paul mentioned about the third heaven.     

Three Heavens

The Apostle Paul talked about the “third heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:2.  Paul admitted that when we went to heaven, he did not know if it would be in our earthly body or out of our body.  Only God knows whether we will enter heaven in an out-of-body experience, but it is interesting that most people who return from a near-death experience have out-of-body experiences.  They can even look down on their body and see the doctors working on them.  They even notice details from above that they could not have seen from their hospital bed. 

But Paul’s reference to three heavens is even more interesting.  Some interpretations are that the first heaven is on earth but we cannot see it, the second heaven is in a part of our universe that is not visible to us, and the third heaven, synonymous with paradise, is God’s universe, which cannot be seen since it is not a part of our universe.

These references to heaven could match scientific evidence of:  (1) quantum particles on earth that cannot be seen since they are too small, (2) dark matter and dark energy in our universe that cannot be seen by man, and (3) an invisible Big Bang creation outside our closed universe.

The Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy states that the total matter and energy of an isolated system is constant.  Matter and energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can neither be created nor destroyed in our closed universe.  The Big Bang or creation of our closed universe would have occurred outside that universe.  Recycling occurs within our closed universe.

Some people may ask:  (1) why, then, can plants create energy through photosynthesis, and (2) why after we die, are our bodies destroyed through decomposition?  When we say that matter is neither created nor destroyed, we are examining what happens at the atomic level.  For example when you burn wood, you perceive that the wood has been destroyed; however, the atoms in the wood have been converted to a different form or matter and energy.  Energy can be transformed to different forms, as well, but the total amount of matter and energy in our universe never changes.    

Paul made these observations about the three heavens long before scientists knew about quantum theory, dark matter and energy, the Big Bang, the law of conservation of matter and energy, and a closed universe. 

Why then are there three heavens?  Well, they may match the three judgments.  The Bible tells about three potential judgments.  The first heaven is known as Hades, separated into a heavenly side and a hellish side.  The second heaven may be the location for the Final Judgment that is still within our universe.  The third judgment may be based on tests that determine whether we will be allowed to enter God’s kingdom or not. 

The first judgment occurs right after we die.  This is the one that most Christians understand.  If you believe in God’s grace, then you receive this heaven without any works.  If you simply believe that Jesus died for your sins, then you will enter this heaven without any guilt or remorse.  Your conscience will be crystal clear.  Your thoughts will be on Jesus and God, which will separate you from others who do not believe.  In some sections of the Bible, they call this Hades, where both believers and unbelievers wait in an invisible world of thinking, which could match the quantum world.

When you die, what happens?  We don’t know, but the Bible mentions more than 50 times that death is like sleep.  Jesus woke Lazarus up from his four-day sleep of death.  When you sleep, you dream.  You can have good dreams or nightmares.  Which will you have?  Those who have a clean conscious will probably have good dreams, while non-believers could have hellish dreams.

Do we have a soul that goes on living after death?  The Bible states:  “The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NIV).  In effect, the conservation of matter and energy applies, so that neither our body nor our soul is destroyed, but they apparently are separated with the body decomposing and the soul returning to God.  Our soul then must be tested.

Paul talks about tests in 2 Corinthians 13:5.  He tells us to test ourselves to see if our faith is solid.  He admonishes us to test ourselves to see if Jesus is in us.  Your beliefs are all you will carry into this first test.  Basically Hades is described in the Bible as being a separation area of believers and nonbelievers.  God’s grace provides the justification for believers. 

The second judgment is called sanctification in the Bible.  The righteous will remain asleep in the grave until Jesus returns to raise them (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).  This is the second heaven with this judgment administered by Jesus.  Jesus would examine our works and deeds during life in order to determine how strongly we really did believe.  If we truly believed, we would have acted differently on a consistent basis.  We even may be judged for things that we thought in our stay in the first heaven.  In this second judgment, there will be consequences for all the bad things we did or thought.  Our sanctification of God’s grace through significant works may be the key to entering the second heaven, which is still within our universe. 

The third judgment is not explained in the Bible, but some ministers describe it as “glorification.”  While we are in the second heaven, we may be allowed to perfect our souls even further.  We know that Jesus was accepted into God’s kingdom, so the test is to be as much like Jesus as we can be.  But the passage rites into paradise are a mystery.  In effect, we would be passing into a completely different universe.

Is this the test that permits our immortal soul to dwel in God’s kingdom forever?  Probably so, since our soul, whether in the first or second heaven, remains in our universe until God makes a final decision on whether to resurrect our soul into His kingdom or not.  The Bible makes it clear that only a few will pass into God’s universe.  The souls that remain behind will be in our universe, which recycles all matter and energy, including our souls.        

The prophets never mentioned in the Bible that the righteous immediately went to heaven or the wicked went to hell when they died.  Neither Jesus nor His apostles taught that.  This is something that is found in interpretations of the Bible.  However, if death is like sleep, your beliefs will take you to the next level.  Those who have faith will sleep better than those who are unbelievers.  For example if you carry guilt into your nightmares after death, you may think you are in hell. 

Clearly, you may expect to go through difficult times and to be tormented for your faith, but this is hell on earth, which we know exists.  But other than believing that there should be consequences for your sins committed during life, there is nothing in the Bible describing an immediate fall into hell.  However, the Book of Revelation indicates that there could be a lake of fire awaiting those who were declared unrighteous by Jesus at the Final Judgment.  This is when the righteous may enter the second heaven judged by Jesus.

We know that time stops at the event horizon, so perhaps at this second heaven, time also stops.  If we enter into dark matter or dark energy, who knows what will happen to us at that point.  Only God knows.

The third heaven is the greatest mystery of them all.  What is beyond the Big Bang?  What is God’s universe like?  Again, only God knows.  

Do Hardened Criminals Really Care?

A lady who was being strangled by an attacker told the criminal to stop choking her or he would kill her.  The man had a crooked smile and answered, “Do you think I really care?”  The police broke into the room and the man released his choke hold.  When asked if the police saved her life, she answered in the affirmative.  She declared, he would have killed me, otherwise. 

Most criminals commit crimes intentionally.  They make decisions to commit crimes no differently than we make decisions in our daily business.  They decide to murder or rape or rob victims.  Even though there are crimes of passion and crimes committed by those with a mental defect, most crimes are based on choices.

So criminals really do care.  It’s just they care about themselves and don’t care about their victims.  They decide to murder somebody because it will lead to something beneficial for them, even if it is just the thrill of the kill.  They want to rape somebody because it provides some type of gratification, usually a feeling of power rather than satisfying sexual needs.  They choose to rob in order to obtain something they can pawn for their drug habit or find some cash to buy something they want. 

For these criminals, it’s all about them.  Unfortunately, our society is becoming more selfish and is becoming a potential breeding ground for criminals.  A self-centered society is typically a lawless society.  These citizens only care about serving themselves and do not care about other people around them. 

Generally, a self-serving society sets the stage for increased criminal activity.  Most societies start with good moral values, but entropy takes over and the social resolve starts to disintegrate usually after many younger generations have pushed for fewer consequences.  As consequences are reduced, this also sets the stage for increased criminal activity. 

The older generations typically are disappointed with the succeeding generations as they liberalize laws, removing their teeth.  Each generation seems to be less focused on doing the right thing for everybody.  The generations have gotten progressively worse. 

Younger generations may say that there should be no penalties for crimes that hurt no one but the offender.  For example, we have seen a more liberalized approach to the use of marijuana based on the idea that users of this drug are not harming anybody else.  Yet, if a driver on marijuana runs over a pedestrian, an argument could be made that third parties may be injured by users of the drug.  And even if a third party is not injured, society could be harmed by misuse of marijuana.   

Today’s generations are so interested in themselves that they aren’t even aware that other people in the world exist.  Their entire lives are based on what they can do for themselves.  They don’t care about their neighbors, their family, their city, their state, or their nation.  All they can see is what is in front of their mirror. 

And unfortunately, they do not have the proper education to develop humility, compassion, or empathy.  They do not study Aristotle, so they have never heard of the “golden mean.”  They do not read about Buddha and do not know about the “Middle Path.”  They have never read about the great philosophers and religious leaders.  They have not studied ethics or moral codes.  Their studies of history are so limited that most high school students do not even know the first five presidents of the United States.  All they learn in school is how to get ahead and get what they want. 

Many turn to drugs to make money.  Very few have charity in their hearts.  If you look into their eyes, you will see self-absorbed “zombies” with no souls.  These modern-day “children of the corn” are no different than hardened murderers who have no remorse.  And if they killed somebody later in life to get something they wanted, their conscience would not be disturbed.  In fact, they would be angry that you would want to deny them what they wanted.  Part of this stems from the bloody video games and movies that are desensitizing young adults. 

They do not want consequences.  Even though choices should always have consequences, they want to eliminate all consequences.  Can you imagine what society would be like if these zombies were turned loose in the world without consequences?  But that’s where we are headed as our social structure continues to erode. 

Criminals are very optimistic.  They believe that they have the right to do anything they want to do and there should be no consequences.  Even when society has laws that punish them, they are optimistic that detectives will not discover that they committed the crimes.  But even if detectives do discover that they committed the crime, prosecutors will not have sufficient evidence to make a case.  Our criminal justice system has been liberalized over the decades, making it difficult to punish criminals. 

Criminals have more reasons to be optimistic.  Even if the prosecution can make a case against them, the criminal will hire a good defense attorney who can get them off.  However if their attorney does not get them off, they are optimistic that their sentence will be light.  Even if they do not get a light sentence, they can still appeal it, get a pardon or paroled, or get a reduced sentence for good behavior.  The prisons are overcrowded, so criminals are optimistic that they will get out early.  The bottom line is that even if they go to jail, they will receive free room and board (three hots & a cot), and will rub elbows with like-minded people who can help them become professional criminals and do a better job next time to avoid getting caught.

Our society is headed rapidly toward entitlements.  American citizens will be entitled to free meals, housing, and medical care until the middle class disappears.  Criminals, gang members, and drug lords will be entitled to do whatever they want with no consequences.  Private gun owners will have to give up their weapons, but not criminals.  Is this our future?

Do hardened criminals really care about your future?  They only care about themselves and their futures.  You, as an honest citizen, mean nothing to them.  They are predators and you represent easy prey.  Removing your guns for personal protection and laws that provide consequences to criminals are exactly what they want.

Is there any way to stop the dismantling of American society?  It has probably gone past the tipping point and cannot be turned around.  The majority of Americans rely on the government to keep them above water.  Without the government, they would sink.

Do the majority of Americans care about their country?  No, they probably don’t care.  As long as they are personally taken care of, that’s all that matters.  They don’t really care whether the American system is failing or not.  And they aren’t intelligent enough to know that after the middle class disappears, the government will stop their entitlements.  

At that point, a totalitarian government will enslave all the citizens, including criminals.  Even the hardened criminals will start to care at that moment because they will be restricted by the totalitarian government.  But it will be too late for everybody, except the ruling elite.  Since you will not have any weapons, if you disagree with the government, those in power will execute you.  Most criminals will really care then.      

Weather or Not, There Are Climate Changes

Some scientists argue that climate changes occur in cycles, not necessarily the result of temporal weather patterns.  For example, we had a series of vicious winter storms that struck the eastern United States in 2013-14.  On one day, all fifty states had snow.  This weather is not indicative of a climate change, by itself.  It may have been an anomaly.  So you may have bitter cold weather patterns interspersed during a warming climate change.

However, there may have been some interesting reasons for the unusually cold winter.  Typically, a Polar Vortex circling in Canada and the Arctic area, keeps frigid air north of the United States, but when there are unusual warming trends in the climate, this could disrupt the Polar Vortex, breaking it down, allowing cold air to drop into the deep southern states.

Many scientists now believe that man’s burning of fossil fuels has triggered a climate change that may be locked in and cannot be reversed.  Once the climate is tipped into a new direction, there are forces that not only continue down that path, but many times can accelerate it.  For example, the drought conditions in the southwest create more forest and grass fires, which, in turn, cause more soot to carry to the poles, causing “dark ice,” which causes accelerated melting of the ice. 

As the air and oceans warm, the most dangerous consequence awaits us in the cold depths of the ocean.  Methane ice is frozen at great depths, but it only takes a few degrees of warming of the ocean to trigger the thawing of the methane gas, which would create a global warming scenario hundreds of times worse than what man can cause with fossil fuels.  This warming of methane in the oceans may have been what caused the Permian extinction.  Once the blanket of methane covered the earth’s atmosphere, we would move quickly into a Global Winter for decades with most plants and animals dying off.

The new normal with our climate will be its extremes and unpredictability.  We will have more intense storms, more mega droughts, more ice storms, more tornadoes, more hurricanes, more flooding, more fires, more snow… more extremes in weather.

The Arctic has been our bellwether for climate changes, and it clearly points to climate change that is here to stay.  The ice is melting at a rapid rate.  Greenland is losing 300 billion tons of ice each year.  The Inuit hunters are not finding wildlife along the ice pack near their home because the ice edge is moving further north away from them, causing the walrus and seal population to move north too.

There is a theory that the ocean currents are being impacted by the new climate change, so that normal warming from equatorial waters, being carried north and south, is also being interrupted.  This disruption of warming currents and the methane melt could combine to cause our world to go into a deep freeze.  It sounds strange, but global warming may actually be the trigger for the next ice age.

Left Behind

Left Behind is a series of 16 best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins that are very popular.  The novels show believers being transported out of harm’s way during the Christian dispensationalist “end times,” leaving behind the non-believers to deal with God’s wrath and tribulation.  This is also called the pretribulation or premillennial eschatological viewpoint of the end of the world.

Some of this comes from the Book of Revelation 3:10-11 which records Jesus telling those in Philadelphia in Asia Minor:  “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”

The premillennial believers argue this means that “the hour of trial” is the seven-year period of tribulation that will be delivered to the non-believers, while the believers would be protected from this trial.  However, there is nothing in the Bible referencing special treatment for believers during times of tribulation.  We all must “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Hamlet) and we are told to rejoice in our suffering, the Book of Romans 5:3.

The true protection that Jesus was preaching was the spiritual armor covering believers.  They are not protected from the trials and tribulation, but true believers will be able to survive any trials, whether on earth or after death, because of their faith.

So, when is this “hour of trial” going to occur?  Nobody knows, and the Bible does not provide a clear answer.  But it really does not matter as long as we hold to our faith.  Jesus’ promise of keeping those believers in Philadelphia from the future trial, in order to have any practical meaning, must be applied to their lives, about two thousand years ago.  It seems logical that Jesus was giving them spiritual hope for the tribulation ahead during their lives and perhaps also during the end of time.  In other words, it could apply to both the trials of life and after death.

Jesus knew that there would be tribulation for believers throughout history, but there might be a horrific time of tribulation at the end of mankind on earth.  Of course, there are many interpretations of what could happen before the end of time, but one is the concept of Hades, where Jesus, himself, went for three days after He died.  Hades could be thought of as an earthly collection destination for those who have died, awaiting a final “hour of trial.” 

Jesus was concerned about the believers staying away from the Devil during their tenure on earth, whether living or dead, praying to His Father:  “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”  John 17:15.

There are many interpretations to the judgments that are ahead, and typically Christians, especially those who believe in pretribulation, prefer to believe that they will be removed from tribulation and trials without having to suffer at all.  The nonbelievers will be left behind to suffer.  This is nonsense. 

Suffering for our faith is something that we must embrace.  Jesus and his followers suffered.  Why are we any different?  Paul wrote:  “through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God.”  Acts 14:22.  Jesus told believers that they would have to endure tribulation.  John 16:33.

The dispensational interpretations originate from Daniel 9:24-27.  I have included the sections below and then will analyze them, applying context of what was going on when Daniel was written.

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the holy.

“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’  It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 

“After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.  The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  The end will come like a flood; War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.  He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’  In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.  And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

Now, as typical of apocalyptic writing, it is complex and usually difficult to relate to actual events.   Many times it is allegorical and should not be considered as predicting the future.  The analysis of this provision is important, because it is the heart of Dispensationalism.  In fact, Chapter 9 of Daniel is the only Biblical reference that might support the Left Behind interpretation of the second coming.

So let’s start with the historical perspective of Chapter 9.  Daniel was praying to God about the 70 years of captivity of Israel in Babylon prophesied by Jeremiah.  Daniel was praying a short time after Babylon’s fall to Persia in 539 BC.  The 70-year period of Jeremiah would have started in 605BC and thus would have ended in 535 BC, just about four years after Daniel’s prayer in the above selection from Daniel, Chapter 9.  It seems likely that Daniel was praying for the rebuilding of the Holy City and its Temple.

The decree mentioned was Cyrus’ Decree.  In the first year after the fall of Babylon (538 BC), Cyrus, King of Persia who was friendly to the Jewish people, issued a decree to rebuild their temple.  This would have started Daniel’s prophecy of seventy-weeks of restoration (7 + 62 + 1 = 70 weeks, interpreted as ‘seven’ days).  The seven could mean days, weeks, months, or years, but the logical conclusion is that it meant weeks, which consist of seven days.  But if Daniel were attempting to match Jeremiah’s 70-year period with his prophecy, then we should consider the term to be 70 years times 7 or 490 years.  However, the numbers might even be symbolic since apocalyptic literature may not always be predicting the future as much as hoping to make the future better.

But if we examine this passage literally, it predicts after sixty-nine ‘sevens’ (69 weeks or 483 years) after the Decree of Cyrus in 538 BC.  So that either in 536 BC or 75 BC, the Anointed One will come.  The real fact is that Jesus was born about 3-5 AD.  Attempting to use this scripture to predict the actual future was problematic, at best.

After sixty-two ‘sevens’ (either 536 BC in weeks or 104 BC in years), the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.  Jesus certainly was not crucified before He was born.  If you attempt to apply a strict construction of this chapter in Daniel to Jesus as the Anointed One, it will not make sense.

It makes more sense to apply the actual history of that period to the reading.  The Anointed One may have been referring sarcastically to the ruler of Babylon.  Authors sometimes disguised who they were really referencing in fear of retribution from the leaders.  This actually makes sense because it says that that ruler of the people will come and destroy the town of Jerusalem and the sanctuary, which is exactly what the Babylonians did by taking the people of Jerusalem to Babylon as slaves and destroying their Temple.  Then in 538 BC, the Anointed One of Babylon was cut off and had nothing.  Persia took over, leaving Babylonia with no power and basically nothing as compared to their all-encompassing control before the fall.  The end of Babylonia did come like a flood with its war with the Persians.

Of course, the Anointed One or ruler could also be Titus, the Roman Emperor, who destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD.  This could be argued if you are looking for a prophecy of Daniel that was fulfilled.  However, the dates do not match.

If Titus is the ruler, then the prophecy might be that Titus will make a covenant with the Jewish religious leaders to put an end to sacrificing animals and this ruler will set up an abomination on a wing of the Temple until his rule comes to an end.

The truth is that nobody knows what any of this meant, probably not even Daniel.  It would be dangerous to set up an entire theology based on such a tenuous and complex passage in Daniel.  Unfortunately, my interpretation is as good as anybody else’s.

Elitism

Elitism emanates from a belief by a socially isolated group that considers itself superior to others.  Some Christians consider themselves the elite “chosen ones” under the New Testament, similar to the Jewish people being the “chosen ones” under the Old Testament.  Both are incorrect. 

The Sanhedrin, Sadducees, and Pharisees were elite only in their minds.  These “superior” religious leaders were the ones who sent Jesus to His death.  The elite Christians think that they are superior and, thus, will be judged differently than others at the final judgment.

The truth is that Jesus and God are united as one and will judge all equally.  It is true that Christians have a special opportunity to die without carrying guilt with them since Jesus died to remove their sins.  But that does not offer Christians any special treatment during the judgments, which occur after death.  Clearly, Revelations 20:12-13 teaches us that the final judgment will be based on our works.  Christians and non-Christians will be treated the same and will be judged using the same scales of justice.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others who believe in God will all stand before Jesus/God for our final judgment.  It would be a mistake to consider yourself elite because you belong to any of these different religions.  It even might be a fatal mistake, causing God to render judgment against you.  Pride is perhaps the greatest sin, and your pride of yourself and of your religion could be your undoing before God.

Christians should take advantage of the special gift of grace given us because Jesus died for our sins.  This gift allows us to enter the kingdom of death, sometimes called Hades, without the burden of a sin debt.  If we truly believe in Jesus and that He died for us, our conscience should be clear.  Our thoughts should not punish us for our sins.  This is a magnificent gift. 

However, it is not the end of judgments.  Even though we are forgiven for our sins, we will still be judged for our actions.  In other words, we were given free will to make choices, so there will be consequences for the choices we made. 

It is not clear whether these choices are continued after our death.  It is quite possible that Hades could be the biggest test of all.  After we die, we may undergo severe tests of the strength of our faith.  Without God being within us, we will not have a chance.  Only God can assist us in navigating through Hades.  It will require a special belief in God to keep us on the right path. 

The actions after death probably will be all thoughts, and controlling your thoughts by yourself is not possible.  Saying you are “elite” is not the answer.  Let your pride fall away.  Only God can help us.

Our egos, our ability to focus on ourselves, our devotion to selfish desires… all these things lead us into the trap of elitism.  We search for methods to make ourselves more important than others.  We look for ways that distinguish ourselves from the others.  We are better than they are. 

Hitler and many before and after him believed they were the elite race.  Nietzsche wrote about the superman and the super race.  They were superior to the others.  History is replete with thousands of examples of associations of people joining forces to overpower others, many times enslaving them, as an inferior group of people.

Yet, it seems beyond dispute that we are all of the same species, Homo sapiens.  The genes of all mankind are very similar probably because of a bottleneck of our species about 75,000 years ago.  Mt. Toba, a mega-volcano erupted in Indonesia, which may have caused a winter that lasted for decades, killing off many plants and animals, and very nearly wiping out the human race.  We may have been down to several thousand – an endangered species.

It is quite extraordinary that Homo sapiens are that much alike.  We may have different colored skin because our environments differ.  If the Europeans moved to the equator, their skins would darken within a few generations.  In about 10,000 years, the transplanted Europeans would have dark skin like people from Africa.  But it is even more extraordinary that we try to make ourselves better than our neighbors when there is no basis for it.

The Old Testament makes the Jewish people the elite race.  But we saw what happened to this elitism in the New Testament.  Elitism does not fit well on man.  So is God going to save more of the Jewish race than the Gentiles at the second coming?  Why is there a difference?  God will treat all equally.  God stands for justice for all.  Nobody is in an elite group.  Not even Christians are elite. 

Now, this is where it gets interesting because many Christians believe they are elite and God will judge them more favorably than others.  They think that because they believe in Jesus that they are better than Buddhists, than Jews, than Muslims, or any other religion.  This does not make sense.  God judges all equally or He cannot be the final judge.  God cannot have favorites.  We all will be judged using standardized tests without showing any race or religion favoritism in the grading process.

I do believe that Christians have one advantage and that is their belief that Jesus died for their sins will allow them to enter Judgment Day without guilt and with a clean slate, which should make taking the test or tests easier.  The last thing you want on Judgment Day is to be thinking about all the stupid and bad things you did during life.  You want to be as focused as possible on the challenges in front of you on that day.