Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, God, Religion, Truth

Cities Without Walls

There’s a passage in Ezekiel that some Christians view as a prophecy that has been fulfilled by modern Israel:

and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’
— Ezek 38:11

How could Ezekiel have foreseen a time in which Israel’s cities would not need walls for protection? It’s true that most modern cities today do not need walls, so does this qualify as an example of a fulfilled prophecy?

I think there are two things we need to look at in examining this. First of all, let’s make sure that Israel really has no walled cities. And secondly, let’s examine the context of this prophecy to make sure we’re not missing anything.

Israel Today

It turns out that Israel actually does use walls today. The West Bank barrier will eventually be about 430 miles long. It’s still being constructed, but as of 2012 it was already 272 miles long.

Most of the barrier is a fence. While that’s not exactly the same as a wall, it serves the same basic purpose. Plus, it uses “bars and gates,” which runs counter to Ezekiel’s prophecy. And some portions of the barrier are indeed tall concrete walls, as shown in these pictures.



Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

In addition to the West Bank barrier, there’s also a barrier between Israel and the Gaza strip. Just like the West Bank barrier, it’s comprised mostly of fence with some concrete sections.

Does the current state of Israel really match Ezekiel’s description?

The Context

If we back up to Ezekiel 37, we see the famous skeleton army that God raised up for Ezekiel. And God tells him (vs 11-14) that the army represents the nation of Israel. Though it seems lost, God will restore it one day — he will be their God, and they will serve him. This is a pretty constant refrain among the prophets, Ezekiel in particular. This refers back to the kingdom of Israel, northern neighbor to Judah. The OT says that Israel and Judah were made up of the original 12 tribes. After the death of Solomon, the northern 10 tribes broke away and formed the nation of Israel (appointing a new king not of David’s line), and the southern 2 tribes formed the nation of Judah. There’s not good archaeological support for this story at this point in time. However, the existence of the two separate kingdoms is quite well attested.

In about 722 BCE, the Assyrian Empire took Israel captive, and the Jewish prophets ascribed this to their failure to serve God faithfully. However, they also predicted that the 10 lost tribes would one day return from captivity. This hasn’t happened.

Ezekiel elaborates even further:

Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Notice that the end of that passage focuses on Israel’s faithfulness to God. Yet that certainly doesn’t match modern Israel. Like most modern nations, its not homogeneous in its religious views. To me, this is one of the first clues that Ezekiel is not talking about today’s Israel. In verses 26 and 27, it says that God’s sanctuary will be in their midst as well. But with the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine occupying the Temple Mount, it seems unlikely that a Jewish or Christian worship center will ever take its place. Maybe Ezekiel meant that statement figuratively or spiritually, but it’s still something to consider.

In chapter 38, it initially looks like Ezekiel is changing subjects, because he begins talking about Gog, whom he calls a prince of Meshech and Tubal. But this will actually tie right back in to his discussion about Israel. Gog and the other terms are likely being used figuratively in this passage, though it probably doesn’t matter much either way. The point Ezekiel is making is that God will take Israel’s enemies (represented by Gog and those who serve him) and allow them to build up a mighty force to come upon Israel. It’s at this point that Ezekiel refers to Israel as a land of “unwalled villages.”

To me, this does not seem like Ezekiel cares too much about whether the villages literally have walls or not. The point seems to be that Israel will be living in peace and not have any idea that some horrible force might be amassing against them. This allows God to annihilate Gog and his armies, and it will be obvious to all the surrounding nations that God must have been the one to do it, since Israel was in such a defenseless state:

21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. 23 So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

Again, this does not match today’s Israel. Israel knows that it’s surrounded by nations who are opposed to them, so it seems unlikely that they could be caught unaware. And their level of military might is quite high.

Ezekiel 39 continues the curse against Gog and reiterates much of what we’ve already covered. However, it also says that once God has dealt with Gog’s armies, the people of Israel will take spoils from their remains:

9 “Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years, 10 so that they will not need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests, for they will make their fires of the weapons. They will seize the spoil of those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, declares the Lord God.

I suppose language like this could be viewed figuratively, but I find it a bit striking that this language is so obviously suited for the warfare and way of life of Ezekiel’s time, yet some claim that he foresaw a future in which walls would not be needed for cities? If he could foresee that, why wouldn’t he have foreseen technological advances as well?

I feel that these 3 chapters paint a very clear picture. Ezekiel still believed that the 10 tribes of Israel would one day come back. He was certain that his god was the only true God, and he could understand why God might be angry with his people — but abandon them? Surely he would one day restore them. One day God’s people would be mighty and live under his protection — one day they would finally, fully realize those promises that were made to Abraham. I think that’s the future he was looking toward and describing. But even if he meant something else, there’s really no indication that he was imagining anything like the Israel of today.

Some Closing Thoughts

Since Ezekiel gave no timeline for his prophecy, it’s hard to point to it as a failure. In other words, no one would likely point to this passage and say “see, the Bible can’t be inspired because this prophecy didn’t come true.” That’s really a conversation for another post. But can the converse be said? Can someone really point to Ezekiel 38:11 and say that modern Israel is its fulfillment? I just don’t see it. I think the fact that Israel uses barriers today, that its safety and security always seem tenuous, and that the context of this passage seems to be talking about something completely unrelated to modern Israel shows that it is a very poor example of prophecy fulfillment.

137 thoughts on “Cities Without Walls”

  1. Just as a reminder, comments on this thread need to remain civil. Feel free to disagree with something I’ve said, but please refrain from assigning motivations to me (or anyone else here). Simply say what you have to say, and remain respectful and courteous while saying it.

    Thanks in advance. 🙂

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  2. “It turns out that Israel actually does use walls today. The West Bank barrier will eventually be about 430 miles long. It’s still being constructed, but as of 2012 it was already 272 miles long”

    Oh Nate. Poor try here. You’ve already cited in previous posts that you know that the barrier is mostly fence not wall. Second the expression “unwalled villages” is precise. it refers not to the existence of any kind of wall ( or there would be no houses for them to live in since those use walls too) but to defensive city walls surrounding an area. The passage is clear and unambiguous that what is being referred to is city walls that surround a city for protection. Its what the text says and is the natural reading which anyone reading it at the time would have taken it

    “Most of the barrier is a fence. While that’s not exactly the same as a wall, it serves the same basic purpose.”

    It most definitely does not. A city wall in Ezekiel’s time would totally surround a city NOT stretch out into open uninhabited space so as to give it protection from attack from all sides particularly since the context is an attack from the north form a foreign country. You are fudging The west bank barrier as the very name implies does no such thing. there is not a wall with bars and gates surrounding ANY city of Israel as such things are no longer needed for protection since the advent of air craft and tanks.

    Worse for you the Hebrew word Homah is unambiguous in the Old testament and refers almost everywhere to walls surrounding a city, As you can see here it comes from a root meaning surround

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H02346&t=KJV

    ” Plus it uses “bars and gates,” which runs counter to Ezekiel’s prophecy.”

    Again NO these refer to gates/ wide doors with bolts on them as in city gates as absolutely anyone reading Ezekiel would apply it to and again the West bank barrier does not surround protecting any city in Israel exactly as the prophecy states.

    ” And some portions of the barrier are indeed tall concrete walls, as shown in these pictures.”

    and there are countless pictures you left out of the barrier mostly made up of – fence

    but as usual when you refer to pictures you leave out the ones that weaken your case

    Sorry there is no requirement that walls can exist nowhere in Israel or again they could have no buildings. Unwalled villages contrasted with city walls is a clear, natural and demanded meaning of the words there and the prophecy is without a doubt fulfilled. Further more the entire Gaza barrier is temporary and subject to be taken down at any time there is a peace accord.

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  3. “However, they also predicted that the 10 lost tribes would one day return from captivity. This hasn’t happened.”

    and where is this reference to 10 tribes being lost in the Bible Nate? a link to wikipedia? again?

    “Notice that the end of that passage focuses on Israel’s faithfulness to God. Yet that certainly doesn’t match modern Israel. Like most modern nations, its not homogeneous in its religious views. To me, this is one of the first clues that Ezekiel is not talking about today’s Israel.’

    If only you actually read the Bible. Earlier in Ezekiel God makes it clear that he would save them for HIS sake not on the basis of their righteousness. Worse the same passage makes it abundantly clear that this state is not achieved until AFTER the battle with Gog

    Ezekiel 39:7 (KJV)
    7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

    Parallel passages are found in Joel, Zechariah and Revelations where it is Christ that intervenes at his second coming. You seem totally oblivious to this context.

    ” In verses 26 and 27, it says that God’s sanctuary will be in their midst as well”

    Yes of course but again if you read the bible you would know this is post that battle with Gog

    ” Gog and the other terms are likely being used figuratively in this passage,”

    this is nonsense. If this were an unfulfilled prophecy you would be no doubt citing any use of figurative as a cop out to get out of the passage being unfulfilled. The nations mentioned are all real and in fact a great many of them presently have alliances with Russia – the most likely candidate for Rosh

    “To me, this does not seem like Ezekiel cares too much about whether the villages literally have walls or not. ”

    He just uses all the words regarding city walls that surround cities in his day for kicks and giggles?

    “The point seems to be that Israel will be living in peace and not have any idea that some horrible force might be amassing against them.”

    Actually theres no such requirement from the word Betah it refers to confidence and is even used in reference to acts of war. The idea here is NOT that Israel will think it has no enemies

    “I suppose language like this could be viewed figuratively, but I find it a bit striking that this language is so obviously suited for the warfare and way of life of Ezekiel’s time, yet some claim that he foresaw a future in which walls would not be needed for cities? If he could foresee that, why wouldn’t he have foreseen technological advances as well?”

    Well first off Your impression of prophecy is terribly off. Ezekiel is not required to see anything. Thats not how prophecy works. You write down what God tells you to write down – a vision and a prophecy are two different things,Second the battle itself is obviously still future and again if you actually read the BIble you would know this comes at the end of a cataclysmic time for the world where the world is pretty much set back some would say to the stone age and God calls for those who hate him to find any weapon they can and come and fight (the ultimate rebellion against God)

    Joel 3:10-11 (KJV)
    10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
    11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

    So regardless of technology there would be those with those easily made weapons after cataclysmic world events coming to battle God. Thirdly Ezekiel has no word for “gun” or “tank” in his day so he uses what he has. As for using wood to keep warm. I have lived in Florida where a single storm wipe out electricity for a week or two and most people who lie in cities are totally oblivious that people out in the country still use wood for heating.

    finally there IS suggestion in revelations, in regard to this same time, of weapons being available NOT available in Biblical days.

    Revelation 9:17-19 (KJV)
    17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
    18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
    19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

    This passage has given older commentaries fits because there was nothing on the planet that men rode upon that had brimstone coming out of its mouth and tails that could do harm like modern day tanks. Many were forced to consider it demonic (which never meant sense since that many demons would decimate the entire planet, only four were mentioned as being involved and they don’t kill with real smoke and fire) but today we can easily see it as a reference to tanks.

    Long post so I will finish up my rebuttal in another post.

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  4. @ Nate:

    I suggest you add a “Comment Policy” tab to your blog. There you can make clear your desires for civility in the comments and your intent to enforce this. Then, in each post, you can can something like “See my comment policy tab, the policy is always enforced on this blog. Keep it civil, folks!”

    Of that tab, you could give numbered examples so as to direct readers of the infringement when you delete or censor their violations. I’m sure you’ve seen examples — my blog does this too, btw. I don’t have to use it much, the offenders and those who live to be uncivil no longer visit.

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  5. @ Nate,
    I had not known about this prophecy claim (I must have been a bad Christian). But I must agree with TBlacksman objection to your Wall theory in the first part of your argument. It seemed clear to me when I read your post that your argument was wrong and reaching — and I hadn’t even read TBlacksman’s objection yet. And you know that I care less whether the “prophecy” is accurate or not. But I love the Sunday School lesson – so thanks. I’ve always loved arguing with Sunday School teachers! 🙂

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  6. The problem with prophecies is that they are often ambiguous – using language that can be interpreted in several ways by the reader.
    We have examples of this across all forms of religious text.

    Analysis, therefore, eventually becomes a pointless exercise as a fundamentalist will take a more literal view, when it suits, but call on analogy and metaphor when it does does not.
    Context is king on the one hand – and meaningless on the other.

    The bible is riddled with contradictions that are enough to baffle even the most patient scholar, so one is left to simply cherry-pick and apply such ‘fruit ‘ as one deems fit – not something one would expect from an all-knowing god that had the best interests of its creation at heart.

    Justification of such twaddle has been crucial for the believer, but the intelligent observer has come to accept that whatever is written in such ‘books’ can be regarded with the occasional benign smile and little more.

    Such literary nonsense plays little or no part in the everyday lives of most people and it is generally only fanatics/fundamentalists clinging to delusion that will call upon such trivia to add meaning to their life.

    In fact, even entertaining such fundamentalist people is demeaning. They should be pitied.
    But where their ridiculous intransigence threatens to intrude on the lives of normal people it deserves to be legislated against.

    In the final analysis, religion will eventually play little part in the lives of most people – a trend that is glaringly apparent in the more enlightened areas of society.

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  7. Another suggestion Nate, put a “Contact Me” tab. I looked for a way to write you a private note, but couldn’t. I had thought you’d commented on my blog, but I guess you haven’t, so I could not look up your email there. I wanted to send you a private e-mail illustrating the pugilist, unproductive comment rhetoric of some of your commentors if they show up, but did not want to do it here.
    Anyway, just a thought.

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  8. However, they also predicted that the 10 lost tribes would one day return from captivity. This hasn’t happened.” – well, OF COURSE not! Everyone knows they sailed to the America and became Indians! Silly man, just ask the Mormons.

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  9. “I feel that these 3 chapters paint a very clear picture. Ezekiel still believed that the 10 tribes of Israel would one day come back. ”

    I don’t know where you have been nate but Jews have been returning to Israel from
    all over the world even some african tribes. This lost ten tribe thing you are harping on
    is not in the Bible. There is no prophecy about a lost tribe of Israel being found just of jews returning to the homeland from all over the world as they most definitely have. Prophetically there is no more Israel and Judah. You only show again you don’t do good research because your claim for the ten tribes is contradicted by Ezekiel saying earlier that the division of judah
    and the northern tribe is obliterated in the last days. Any reference to Israel is to the
    whole of Israel

    Ezekiel 39:25 (KJV)
    25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob,
    and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;

    ” But even if he meant something else, there’s really no indication that he was imagining anything like the Israel of today.”

    If wishes were horses beggars would ride. Your idea of the perfection of righteousness
    that Israel should have has been shown to be TOTALLY unbiblical. Ezekiel, Zechariah,
    revelations and a number of other passages make it very clear israel must return to
    their nation BEFORE Messiah would be their king or they would be totally righteous. Thats exactly the Israel we see today. No one is claiming Christ has returned yet. Your fallacious
    understanding of Bible prophecy would have Israel not need its messiah to fulfill many
    prophecies in that regard. That violates both Judaism and Christianity

    “Since Ezekiel gave no timeline for his prophecy, it’s hard to point to it as a failure.”

    About the only thing you have right about that is that even you can’t muster a non
    fulfillment yet out of that passage (but I have some confidence you might in fact try
    at a later date). Everything else is distortion. there IS a timeline to that prophecy. Obviously it must be after Israel returns as a nation. second the passage states the latter days is the time line which would probably require more study than you are willing to do but lines up well
    with Israel becoming a nation and The roman empire coalescing (yes I know the beg of
    skeptics regarding medes and persians for daniel but it doesn’t work and even
    Revelations contradict it) so the no timeline thing is utterly false.

    ” I think the fact that Israel uses barriers today, that its safety and security always seem tenuous, and that the context of this passage seems to be talking about something completely unrelated to modern Israel shows that it is a very poor example of prophecy fulfillment.”

    Did anyone ever doubt that you would conclude that? You’ve stated that there are no fulfilled prophecies whatsoever in the Bible so of course you have to fudge,beg and twist that Israel returning as a nation in direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy isn’t the nation that is prophecied.

    Its almost like Arch’s mount precipice claim that its 16 miles beyond where every map shows it being. Full on out and out denial of the facts. The “Oh israel is a nation again but well….its not really Israel” defense.

    These facts are not capable of your logical contradiction –

    They are there in the land as prophecied after a very long time.

    They are the most dominant Military power in the area as prophecied (actually demanded
    in the law)

    They retook Jerusalem under a set of circumstance similar to Ezekiel 12’s prophecy.

    Their formerly parched land has become reknowned for its produce (a prophecy also
    in Ezekiel)

    They ARE a land of unwalled villages without city walls surrounding their cities (your
    beg for fences being walls not withstanding)

    They are confident in their ability to protect themselves (the meaning of the
    phrase to dwell safely)

    There are a host of other bible passages in regard to their return that have been
    fulfilled as well

    So your feelings have little to do with anything and the passage is a great example
    of a fulfilled prophecy despite your claims to the contrary.

    In regard to your claims of the temporary west bank barrier I need only say further
    That absolutely no one in ezekiel’s day would have envisioned city walls referring
    to a mostly fenced structure stretching out into uninhabited areas. You might as well
    claim that any school or complex with a fence is a walled city. All, every last
    reader of Ezekiel, would have seen it as referring to a city surrounded (as the word
    root implies) by walls on all sides for its protection. Therefore how they would have
    taken it is totally fulfilled by cities in israel not being surrounded by such walls.

    Besides….a 95% fence barrier as a city fortified WALLS

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_West_Bank_barrier

    will forever be a desperate beg. Even worse since it protects no particular city but
    locks a people (palestinians) into their area (which Internationally is not accepted as Israel proper).

    You tried this fence as a wall argument before and it didn’t work. Not showing
    pictures of what 95% of the barrier is made up of was supposed to make your
    assertion its a city wall fly? epic fail if truth was the goal. if slanting the reality of the look of the fence was the goal? meh I guess passable.

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  10. Ark, RE: “an all-knowing god that had the best interests of its creation at heart.” – I’m not seeing anywhere in the Bible that this alleged entity ever had “the best interests of its creation at heart” – it was always about his own glory, worst case of inferiority complex I’ve ever seen.

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  11. Well, if this is just a case of a prophecy that hasn’t been fulfilled yet, then I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Since there is no timeline given, perhaps it will be another few thousand years before Israel is completely without walls or need of weapons. Perhaps all of israel will convert to the true version on Christianity and be ruled by a descendant of david.

    I would agree with nate, i’s just not fulfilled yet.

    Israel is building their borders, walls and fences to protect their settlements, but if it is true that it is reaching to say so, I still maintain that it is reaching to say it’s fulfilled.

    A prophecy that lacks detailed specifics and detailed timelines and that are “fulfilled” through what appear to be naturally occurring means, then it seems such a prophecy only serves to be for those who already believe and are not meant to convince the non-believer.

    If this is the case, it should not be a surprise when non-believers are not convinced.

    If you wanted to convince someone that a prophecy was truly from god, it would be helpful to make it as detailed and as convincing as possible – precise timeline, exact and literal event details – if not having god just let everyone know he was real, and this or that were his prophecies…

    Anyhow, as an aside, it strikes me that some believers will often cite their reason as evidence that god and the bible are real, “it makes more sense…” “we can see…” phrases used in regard to logical steps in morality or justice as the bible shows it, but then, when ever something comes up that seems counter to reason they’ll usually fall back on “we cant understand all of god’s ways,” as if to indicate that reason cannot be trusted.

    I understand that many concepts are difficult and that things aren’t always as black and white as my previous paragraph would indicate, but if we can use reason to justify our religion, then why cant it be used to judge it? If we cant trust our reason, then why should good morality or logical conclusions in justice support our religion?

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  12. @Mike (TBlacksman) —

    While your comments have included a few points of substance, they all still included the same kinds of derogatory comments that I have allowed on the “Kathy” posts, but have asked to have excluded from all others.

    If you disagree with someone’s position, please find a way to say so without criticizing their level of understanding, level of study, level of education, motivations, etc. Just so we’re clear, here are some of the phrases you’ve used that I find unacceptable:

    Oh Nate. Poor try here.

    You are fudging

    Worse for you

    but as usual when you

    If only you actually read the Bible.

    You seem totally oblivious to this context.

    but again if you read the bible you would know

    this is nonsense.

    if you actually read the BIble you would know

    I don’t know where you have been nate but

    About the only thing you have right about that is that even you can’t muster a non fulfillment yet out of that passage (but I have some confidence you might in fact try at a later date).

    probably require more study than you are willing to do

    Did anyone ever doubt that you would conclude that? You’ve stated that there are no fulfilled prophecies whatsoever in the Bible so of course you have to fudge,beg and twist

    Full on out and out denial of the facts.

    To everyone else:

    Please remember to remain courteous in your comments. I’m primarily concerned with eradicating personal attacks, but would also like to avoid mocking other points of view, even if they seem mock-worthy. Let’s just keep things civil.

    And thanks for the comments.

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  13. I should add for those that have never looked at a map or understand the west bank situation – It is disputed land beween Israel and Jordan. It is not internationally accepted as a part of Israel (You’ll hear people refer to it and other places as the occupied territory) and Israel for the most part has complied with its disputed status (Many polls have indicated Israelis are in favor of a palestinian state. the purpose of the barrier is to contain that area not officially recognized as israel.

    Again as the Wikiedia source that Nate originally linked to confirms 95% of it is a fence not a wall, it surrounds no city in Israel and its purpose is to keep Palestinians in their area not protect any individual city as city walls do.

    I should also add that Nate’s claim that Israel must be totally righteous in good standing with God both ignores the bible prophecies of this interim process and is just another way of making his previous claim that unless all prophecies are fulfilled none of them are. its special pleading that alot of skeptics like when they can’t logically dismantle a fulfilled prophecy but it is not logically tenable as most all or nothing claims are.

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  14. @Nate
    With the appearance of Mike and Kathy ( and it is disappointing we don’t seem to have the ”regular ” bunch of believers any more) the tone has been set.
    Very much an Us and Them.

    I believe a post of this nature, which is long and complicated, sadly leaves it wide open for someone like Mike to rubbish with his usual invective.

    To engage a person of Mike’s fundamental background – and all that encompasses – perhaps it might be better to make the posts more narrowly focused, with less wriggle room for fundamentalist interpretation?

    It might also limit the opportunity to go off on tangents.

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  15. @Mike,

    “I should also add that Nate’s claim that Israel must be totally righteous in good standing with God both ignores the bible prophecies of this interim process and is just another way of making his previous claim that unless all prophecies are fulfilled none of them are.”

    I’m probably revealing too much ignorance here, but what the hay: Is this prophecy that runs from Ezekiel 37 through Ezekiel 39 (just sticking with the part Nate has addressed) not all part of one big prophecy? So that fragments within the text are prophecies within themselves? And we’re calling it fulfilled?

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  16. It’s special pleading….

    And yet a fundamentalist will balk at such a suggestion regarding the Virgin Birth nonsense?

    I think it might be better if we refer this to a non-Christian who is more qualified in Hebrew and has a much better understanding of the Old Testament.

    outreachjudaism.org/alma-virgin/

    If one prophecy is obviously fallacious why should one give any credence to others in a book said to have been the inspired word of a god?

    In short…one shouldn’t.

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  17. “If you disagree with someone’s position, please find a way to say so without criticizing their level of understanding, level of study, level of education, motivations, etc. ”

    Nate as I have told you before do whatever you wish it will not phase me but as I knew and you have now proven you mean that rule to apply Only to Christians on your blog especially when the dismantle your claims. You as expected skipped right over Arks post to get to mine because it suits you. What are these? your idea of respecting other points of views from Ark?

    “view, when it suits”

    “Justification of such twaddle”

    “simply cherry-pick”

    “Such literary nonsense”

    ” only fanatics/fundamentalists clinging to delusion”

    “In fact, even entertaining such fundamentalist people is demeaning.”

    ” They should be pitied.”

    ” their ridiculous intransigence ”

    Far far more strong language than saying “if you read the Bible” but you gloss over his post in a bee line to the Christian that most disputes you on your blog. Who are we kidding here?

    You can find anything you want unacceptable but your blog is full of posters and post that you approve, conveniently ignore or even post yourself that violate what you claim is unacceptable. Same old game.

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  18. Hi Nate,

    I just want to make sure I’m doing my share in making sure my own comments are in line, because frankly I think this is a great choice you are making in trying to make things civil. And in my mind It is a very welcome and necessary move.

    So with that in mind, if I say something like “that interpretation looks like too much of a twist for me”, is that beyond the line? I’m concerned I guess that the it will be hard to really figure out where the line actually is, and I’m also concerned that some will toy with that line until things end up escalating slowly kind of like a frog in boiling water (I’m guessing you’ve heard of that analogy). What are your thoughts on this?

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  19. “I’m probably revealing too much ignorance here, but what the hay: Is this prophecy that runs from Ezekiel 37 through Ezekiel 39 (just sticking with the part Nate has addressed) not all part of one big prophecy? So that fragments within the text are prophecies within themselves? And we’re calling it fulfilled?”

    37 to 39 contains many prophecies (different things happening) as almost every prophetic passage in the Bible does. IF you conflate all the different components to it as one big Prophecy then you can just claim that the Bible has one big prophecy of God becoming the kind of the of the world. So you would be back to unless everything is fulfilled nothing is which wouldn’t be a very intellectual honest way of evaluating the probabilities.

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  20. “And yet a fundamentalist will balk at such a suggestion regarding the Virgin Birth nonsense? ”

    You’ve proven no such “nonsense” “twaddle” or anything else you call it in regard to the virgin birth what you have displayed is that you do not understand that Isaiah’s children were for signs because yes you probably have not read the Bible very well.

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  21. IF you conflate all the different components to it as one big Prophecy then you can just claim that the Bible has one big prophecy of God becoming the kind of the of the world. So you would be back to unless everything is fulfilled nothing is which wouldn’t be a very intellectual honest way of evaluating the probabilities.

    I see where you’re coming from on that but I disagree with the conclusion. The Bible clearly contains several different prophecies and, yes, one big prophecy as some would assert that Genesis is prophetical of the Messiah. But it also seems an intellectually dishonest way of evaluating probabilities if we can take a block of text and carve out a sentence here and a few there and proclaim them fulfillment of prophecy when other prophecies are clearly connected that are not. That makes it pretty ambiguous.

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  22. Mike,

    Ark’s comments were not aimed directly at you. Yes, I did see those phrases, and I’m not a fan of them (though his overall comment is something I agree with). And that’s why I reminded everyone again to avoid those kinds of statements, even when they’re made generally as opposed to directed squarely at an individual.

    You, however, make insulting comments about specific individuals, and I’m tired of it. Despite what I said in my last post and despite the opening comment I made here, you apparently made no effort to adjust your tone.

    In some ways, I worry that you’re trying to get me to ban you, because I think you’ve also gotten tired of the conversations here and being banned would be an easy way out. But even if that is your motivation, I really don’t care anymore. I don’t like banning people, and I don’t like having to discuss proper blog etiquette, but I’m determined to move the blog back into a less hostile environment. If you can’t make that transition, then you can choose to stay on the “Kathy” posts, or you can simply be banned altogether. The choice is up to you.

    I’m not perfect, and I don’t claim to be. I’m trying to be fair in how I administer this, but even if I’m failing in that regard, it doesn’t change what I’m saying to you. This is your final warning.

    Thanks

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  23. @ Nate,

    I have to agree again with TBlacksman.

    It was Ark’s comments that actually inspired my “violation” alert — exactly as TBlacksman elaborated.

    And my experience is that for legitimacy and productiveness, the majority (Atheists here) need to prove their sincerity by policing each other FIRST before seeking after the minority who are also being criticized.

    Admitting our own faults and not being defensive is the first step in civil, productive dialogue, in my humble opinion.

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  24. So with that in mind, if I say something like “that interpretation looks like too much of a twist for me”, is that beyond the line? I’m concerned I guess that the it will be hard to really figure out where the line actually is, and I’m also concerned that some will toy with that line until things end up escalating slowly kind of like a frog in boiling water (I’m guessing you’ve heard of that analogy). What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks Howie — this is an excellent question.

    I think phrasing it the way you just did would be okay. Basically, this is what I’m after: do not make personal attacks. So if you had said “you’re twisting things” or “you’re twisting things, as always” which seems even more derogatory, I’d say that’s out of line. But when you put the onus of it back on you, by saying “that interpretation seems like too much of a twist to me” you’re still saying the same thing, but it’s softer. It could be that the person you’re talking to twisted things, but it could also be that you’ve misunderstood them. Either seems like a possibility in that latter wording.

    So personal attacks are out (you’re an idiot, just another one of your dodges, if you only knew what you were talking about, if you actually ever studied anything, etc).

    But I also want to stop talking so derogatively about groups in particular: (fundamentalists are either stupid or insane, such beliefs are hogwash, atheists aren’t objective, etc.).

    I’m more concerned with personal attacks than with general statements, but I really don’t find either to be helpful. Again, it’s okay to give our opinions and say where we disagree with one another. Sabio disagreed with my post in this comment, but he did so in a calm, rational, and even kind manner. I have no problem with that.

    Most of you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not going to go nuts in banning people or moderating their comments. I’ve been doing this blog for almost 8 years now, and this has never really been an issue before. I’ll give people plenty of chances as well as the benefit of the doubt. But no one can deny that the tone of the blog has drastically changed over the last couple of months, and I’m ready to reign it back in. Apologies in advance if I mess up along the way.

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