Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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May 14, 2013
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May 14, 2013
My Facebook Involvement, Timeline Graphics Index, Images Of New Jerusalem On My Timeline, Debate Ensues Regarding Shape Of Heavenly City, Policy Regarding Doctrinal Debates, First Century Church Had Problems With Doctrinal Debates, Hundreds Of Hours Invested In My Timeline Graphics, Show Appreciation And Don't Argue Or Criticize, A Proud Know-It-All Attitude, Display Humility In Your UnderStanding Of God's Word, God's Thoughts And Ways Are Very Deep, Puffed Up With Knowledge, My Critic's Faulty Reasoning, Egyptians And Pyramids, Great Designer Builder And Mathematician, God's Actions Are Not Dictated By Human Events, God Will Do All His Pleasure, Is New Jerusalem Cube-Shaped Or Pyramidal?, Faulty Tabernacle Argument, The Tabernacle Was Rectangular And Not A Square, Dimensions And Size Of New Jerusalem, Great Perimeter Wall Made Of Jasper, Angled Sloped Walls Or Sheer Vertical Walls, More Stability In A Pyramid-Shaped Structure, A Better View, New Jerusalem Descends Out Of Heaven From God, A Pyramidal City Is More Conducive To Space Flight Than A Cuboid City, NASA Rockets Airborne Vehicles Aerodynamics And Drag Factor, What Powers The Heavenly City, Physical Or Allegorical City
As many of my readers will know, in addition to operating the Bill's Bible Basics website for the past sixteen years -- as well as "The Treasure Trove" BBS for a number of years prior to that time -- since 2011 I've also been quite active on the Facebook website. In fact, in May of 2012 I began to create a series of Bible-based images for my timeline, which now number over 1,700 in all. Quite recently, I also spent six weeks creating my "Timeline Graphics Index", in which I organized all of my Facebook images by category. Currently, there are over two hundred and fifty different categories in the index. The index allows my Facebook friends and visitors to easily decide which graphics they wish to share on their own timelines on any given day. I will include the URL for my "Timeline Graphics Index" at the end of this article.
Since creating the aforementioned index, I have used it on a regular daily basis to share my images by category throughout the day on my timeline. One set of images which I often post pertains to the Heavenly City; that is, to New Jerusalem. A number of the images that are included in this particular set depict New Jerusalem as a golden pyramid which is descending to the Earth from the heavens.
Sadly, as has occurred on a few previous occasions, when the cat is away the mice will play. One evening a few months ago, I shared the aforementioned set of images on my timeline. To my dismay, when I logged back on to my timeline the following morning after a much-needed rest, I discovered that a certain person had initiated a debate regarding one of the graphics. Rather than just be thankful and inspired by the images which I had created, in a typical legalistic fashion, this person chose to criticize my work, and began to argue about the fact that I had designed the Heavenly City -- New Jerusalem -- as a pyramid-shaped structure. In fact, this person's very first comment was a direct, public challenge to me personally. I do not remember his precise words at this current time. However, it was basically "You, more than anyone, should already know that God would not design the Heaven City like a pyramid."
Given our human nature, once this person had made his initial cutting remark, it is not surprising that a few other people soon began to offer their own comments, and a short doctrinal debate was thus underway. As some of my readers and Facebook friends will already know, if there is one thing which I do not allow on my timeline, it is doctrinal debates. As I very clearly explain in the article entitled "Should Christians Engage in Doctrinal Debates?", I regard doctrinal debates as being both divisive and destructive. Furthermore, quite often they are fueled by pride, personal ego and a desire to prove that everyone else is wrong in their opinion. That this was likewise a problem for the First Century Church is evident by verses of admonition such as the following:
"For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
1 Corinthians 1:11-13, KJV
"For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:3-6, KJV
"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
2 Timothy 2:23-26, KJV
"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain."
Titus 3:9, KJV
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
1 Corinthians 1:10, KJV
At any rate, this is why I personally take a firm hand on my Facebook timeline when it comes to the issue of arguing and doctrinal debates. In fact, I include a firm warning in the guidelines which are listed on my Facebook "About" page. For those of you who may not be aware of it, I will not hesitate to block any person who stubbornly insists on arguing over doctrines on my timeline, particularly after I have already warned them to stop. So as you can imagine, when I discovered this debate regarding the shape of New Jerusalem occurring on my timeline, I was a bit irked. In fact, after reading all of the comments which had been made, I deleted the whole comment thread. I was very tempted to unfriend and block the person who had initiated the debate, but I chose to refrain myself instead. However, this person is now under my radar, and will be watched more carefully for possible future incidents.
I just find it rather sad that here I am investing literally hundreds of hours into creating these images for my timeline, in order to spiritually feed and inspire by Facebook friends, and instead of showing appreciation for my work, all that a few of them can do is be critical, legalistic and argue about the details. In the case of this particular graphic, some of my friends were arguing over what the word "foursquare" means in the Scriptures, how many sides a pyramid has, whether the Heavenly City is cube-shaped or a pyramid, etc. It would have been really nice if the instigator could have simply enjoyed the graphic, instead of trying to find something wrong with it, and then dragging other of my friends into the debate as well.
What also particularly irked me is the fact that the person who started the debate didn't even know what he was talking about. His initial comment and challenge to me demonstrated that he has a prideful, know-it-all attitude. Surely, as one who has studied the Scriptures for so long, I should know more than anyone else that our Heavenly Father would never design New Jerusalem like a huge pyramid, he claimed. With such a condescending attitude as that, I think it would do my friend a lot of good to read my article called "Humility in Our Understanding of God's Word". As I explain in that article, despite my many years of studying the Bible, I do not claim to know or understand it all. In fact, the more that I do understand, the more I realize how very little I actually grasp. Why? Because God's Word is just that deep. I am certainly not alone in feeling this way. Consider the following verses:
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding."
Isaiah 40:28, KJV
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV
"Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number."
Job 9:10, KJV
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
Romans 11:33, KJV
To any of my readers who have foolishly deceived themselves into believing that they have a firm grasp of God's Word, I simply say this: Just like this person who challenged me on my timeline, you know not whereof you speak. Your pride has clouded your judgment, and you really know nothing at all; at least not nearly as much as you need to know, or ought to know. Just as doctrinal debates and divisions -- which was actually the beginning of denominationalism in the Lord's Church -- was a problem for the First Century Apostles, so too, prideful know-it-alls who were puffed up by their own knowledge were apparently common as well. This becomes very evident by verses such as the following:
". . . we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
1 Corinthians 8:1b-2, KJV
"From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
1 Timothy 1:6-7, KJV
"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,"
Colossians 2:18, KJV
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness . . . Therefore let no man glory in men"
1 Corinthians 3:18-19, 21a, KJV
"And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
1 Corinthians 4:6-7, KJV
"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing . . . Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
1 Corinthians 13:2, 8, KJV
"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
Hebrews 5:12-14, KJV
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 16:18, KJV
"For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 14:11, KJV
"Submit yourselves therefore to God . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
James 4:7a, 10, KJV
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"
1 Peter 5:6, KJV
Returning to the brief doctrinal debate which occurred on my timeline as a result of one of my New Jerusalem graphics, as I said, from reading his remarks, it quickly became apparent to me that the individual who challenged me and initiated the debate did not appear to know what he was talking about. As I mentioned earlier, this person insisted that God would never construct the Heavenly City in the shape of a pyramid. It was actually the reasons which he offered to support his wayward conclusion which surprised me the most. According to him, the reason why God would never use a pyramid design, is because the ancient Egyptians -- who were obviously pagans -- built pyramids. Furthermore, he noted, the Bible does not have one positive thing to say regarding the Egyptians.
Seriously, friends; I have to shake my head at such a remark, because this person was so shortsighted. Please note that my understanding is that this individual was not suggesting that our Heavenly Father would contemplate copying a design from His human creations. Rather, he seemed to be suggesting that because the Egyptians -- and other cultures as well, I might add -- built pyramids, some of which were obviously used for carrying out human sacrifice rituals, God would not consider using the same design in the construction of the Heavenly City. In other words, because this individual views pyramids as something evil, he seemed to believe that God would never use this type of structure in His own designs.
In my view, this person was looking at everything backwards. God is eternal in the heavens, and the Designer of our very Universe. He is the Master Architect, Chief Mathematician, Head Scientist, and Skilled Painter who has no equal. God in fact created mathematics -- including geometric shapes such as triangles and pyramids -- long before the Egyptians ever existed. To suggest that our Heavenly Father would refrain from using something which He Himself designed -- and which is even found in minute atomic structures -- simply because humans would later use it for evil purposes, is ludicrous to say the least. The Scriptures make it rather clear that God's actions are not dictated by what we humans do here on Earth. To believe otherwise is foolish. He is God, and He does as He pleases; as we can easily determine by the following verses:
"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"
Isaiah 46:9-10, KJV
"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."
Ecclesiastes 3:14-15, KJV
As you can see, our Almighty God will do all His pleasure -- that is, whatsoever He pleases -- regardless of what mere humans think, say or do. That includes building the Heavenly City in the shape of a pyramid if He so desires. While I do not recall if this person came right out and said it or not, my impression is that he apparently embraces the misguided belief that New Jerusalem is cube-shaped. This same view is promoted on a number of other websites which I have visited in recent years, and sometimes includes an image of a golden cube floating in Space. However, as I will be explaining in a moment, personally, I am convinced by my own study of the Scriptures that this understanding is not correct.
Aside from offering the ancient Egyptians and their pyramids as "proof" that God would never use a pyramidal design, the individual who instigated the doctrinal debate on my timeline also mentioned the Tabernacle in the wilderness which Moses and the Israelites constructed, based on the instructions which Moses had personally received from the Lord during his forty-day stay on the summit of Mount Sinai, or Horeb, as it is also known. In other words, by mentioning the Tabernacle, this person was apparently hoping to convince other readers that the Heavenly City is cube-shaped, and not pyramidal in design. However, as with his faulty reasoning regarding the ancient Egyptians and pyramids, once again his claim has no merit.
Why do I say this? Quite simply, because the Book of Exodus clearly informs us -- particularly in chapters twenty-six and twenty-seven -- that the Tabernacle was rectangular in shape, and not foursquare as New Jerusalem is described for us in the Book of Revelation. While it should be obvious to you, the word "foursquare" means four sides of equal length. In contrast, Exodus informs us that the length of the area of the Tabernacle was one hundred cubits, while the width of it was fifty cubits. In short, the Tabernacle was half as wide as it was long. This is in fact a rectangle, and not a square by any means. Consider the following verses as proof of this:
"And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver. And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten. And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits."
Exodus 27:9-13, KJV
The reason why certain Christians erroneously assume that New Jerusalem is cube-shaped, is because of how it is described for us in the Book of Revelation. If we accept the following verses at face value alone, it would seem that the Heavenly City is in the shape of a cube:
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband . . . And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass."
Revelation 21:2, 15-18, KJV
As I mentioned a moment ago, the word "foursquare" simply means quadrangular. In other words, all four sides are equal in length, thus creating a square. The word "foursquare" is translated from the Greek word "tetragonos". In this case, "twelve thousand furlongs" is about fifteen hundred miles in modern terminology, because a furlong is equal to an eighth of a mile. Thus, twelve thousand divided by eight is equal to fifteen hundred. So what is being described for us here is a Golden City, the base of which is fifteen hundred miles long on each side. Imagine how huge that is. The square base of such a City would cover half of the entire United States. If New Jerusalem were in the Middle East, it would stretch from Saudi Arabia, up past Turkey to the Black Sea, over to the nations of southern Europe, down to Libya, and across the Red Sea back to Saudi Arabia. Israel would be a tiny fraction of land underneath it.
However, in the previous verses, we are also told that "the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal." This is where confusion enters the picture. Some Christians assume that because the height of the City is the same as the length and breadth, it must go straight up on all four sides, thus forming a perfect cube that is fifteen hundred miles high. As I stated a moment ago, if we base our understanding on these verses alone, this might indeed seem to be the case. However, based on the evidence that we find in other verses which are scattered throughout the Scriptures, I am not convinced that this is the case whatsoever. This is why I have designed the Heavenly City as a golden pyramid in several of my Facebook timeline graphics. I did not do this without reason.
Before we begin to examine these other verses, let me share a few other points with you first. In the previous verses, we are informed that New Jerusalem is surrounded by a great wall which is made out of jasper. While John is not very specific, considering the great size of the Heavenly City, I believe that it is safe to assume that he is referring to the actual height of the wall when he states that it is "an hundred and forty and four cubits". According to John's description, if we use a standard length of eighteen inches for each cubit -- there are actually different lengths for the cubit depending on the culture -- this means that this great wall stands two hundred and sixteen feet high. We are also informed that the great wall has twelve foundations, and that there are three gates made out of pearls in each of the four sides of this wall. Following is a more extended description of this great wall:
"And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass."
Revelation 21:12-21, KJV
At this point in our discussion I am going to share with you a few personal musings and observations regarding the Golden City -- New Jerusalem -- for your consideration. You are free to accept them or reject them, as you wish. I am sharing them with you because you may possibly find them interesting.
Now, I am not an architect. However, in thinking about this, and the great height of this perimeter wall, it seems to me that it would be much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye if the external wall of the Golden City itself angles away from this great perimeter wall that is made of jasper. In other words, the slanted walls of a pyramid-shaped City that slope away from the great perimeter wall seems nicer to me than sheer, vertical, fifteen-hundred-mile-high walls that run parallel to the great perimeter wall, which would be the case if the Golden City is cube-shaped, as some Christians seem to believe.
On a related note, if we assume that New Jerusalem is a real physical structure which descends to the Earth, and actually rests on the Earth, and is not meant to be understood in a purely symbolic or allegorical manner, as certain Christians are inclined to believe, then it seems to me that a pyramidal structure would be much more stable than a cube-shaped one. The reason why I say this is simple. With a pyramid-shaped structure, the vast majority of the weight of the City would be found in the lower levels near the Earth; whereas with a cube-shaped structure, much of the weight would be very high up in the air. Please keep in mind that we are talking about a City that rises up to fifteen hundred miles into the sky. I can't even begin to imagine that, can you? Humanity's puny skyscrapers are nothing by comparison.
Another reason why a pyramid-shaped Heavenly City would be much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye is because of the view. If a City occupant walks out onto a balcony -- assuming of course that the different levels have balconies -- he will be able to see smaller and smaller levels disappearing into the distance as he looks upward, or larger and larger levels sprawling out before him as he looks down. It would just be a magnificent view. In contrast, if New Jerusalem is a cube as some Christians believe, then the outer wall would be a sheer drop with nothing else in sight -- that is, no other levels to be seen -- other than the clouds. Because the wall is not sloped and tapered as in the case of an actual pyramid, he simply would not be able to see much of anything regardless of whether he looks up or down.
Allow me to share another personal thought with you for your consideration. Not only am I not an architect, but neither am I an engineer either. However, please recall that we are told in the previous verses that John sees the Heavenly City, New Jerusalem, "coming down from God out of heaven". A few verses earlier, John tells us the very same thing with this verse:
"And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,"
Revelation 21:10, KJV
So twice we are told that the great Holy City, New Jerusalem, descends out of Heaven from God. Now, obviously, as far as I know, no one today knows exactly where the Heavenly City was located two thousand years ago, or where it is even located today. However, regardless of where it is precisely located, one thing which seems evident to me is that if it descends to the Earth out of Heaven from God, then in some manner, it must for some period of time be space-borne; that is to say, it must be traveling in some fashion in Outer Space. Perhaps few of you have ever considered this point, but I have.
But here is the key point that I wish to make: Assuming that the Heavenly City was, is or will be -- it depends on your personal theological perspective -- space-borne for a time, in an aerodynamic sense, which shape would be more conducive to space flight; a cube or a pyramid? Even if you aren't very knowledgeable in this area -- I am most certainly not -- you probably realize that a cube-shaped object would produce a lot more drag or resistance during space flight. As a result, NASA would never build a cube-shaped space vehicle; because not only would it move slower in Space, but it would require a lot more fuel as well because of the drag.
The fact of the matter is that NASA builds its rockets with tapered points, similar to a cone or a pyramid, doesn't it? In fact, everything about rockets, airplanes, drones, jets and similar airborne vehicles is purposely designed so that it produces as little resistance as possible. Tapered and smooth surfaces is the key. So doesn't it seem to make a lot more sense that if the Heavenly City must travel through a part of Outer Space before descending to the Earth, as John witnessed in the Book of Revelation, a God who is all-wise and all-knowing, who designed the Universe itself, and who in fact established the very laws of physics, would choose a pyramidal design over a cubic design?
Now obviously, we have no idea what powers the Heavenly City and makes it travel through Space. For all we know, it could just be the Will of God that moves it; or maybe it utilizes a fuel source that we cannot begin to imagine, and much less understand. Of course, please realize that my comments are based on the assumption that New Jerusalem is an actual city, as well as a real, physical object. While I personally have long believed that it is -- due to reasons which I will be sharing with you in part two of this article -- at the same time, neither should we totally dismiss the possibility that John's description is meant to be understood in a symbolic or allegorical manner, as some Christians believe. After all, we do find verses -- such as the following -- which challenge a physical interpretation of these Scriptures:
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
John 4:24, KJV
"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
Luke 17:20-21, KJV
Why would a Spirit Being and a Spiritual Kingdom have need of anything physical, including a physical New Jerusalem?
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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