May 11, 2005

National ID awaits President signature

The Senate today passed an $82 billion spending package 100-0 to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with a few "extras". Cobbled together with border control and tsunami relief is a provision which has been dubbed Real ID, or, as some opponents have renamed, UnRealID. Proposed by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. from Wisconsin, the bill essentially calls for nationalization of the drivers license. The Preseident is expected to sign the bill tomorrow.

Not surprisingly, the national ID card is not a new concept and has been proposed a number of times as a means of curbing illegal immigration. Steve Moore had an interesting quote from Reagan in the 80s when this was proposed:

The concept once surfaced in a Reagan cabinet meeting in 1981. Then-Attorney General William French Smith argued that a perfectly harmless ID card system would be necessary to reduce illegal immigration. A second cabinet member asked: why not tattoo a number on each American's forearm? According to Martin Anderson, the White House domestic policy adviser at the time, Reagan blurted out "My god, that's the mark of the beast." As Anderson wrote, "that was the end of the national identification card" during the Reagan years. H.R. 231 is proof that bad ideas never die in Washington; they just wait for another day.

Here's what the bill says:

Improved Security for Driver's Licenses and Personal Identification Cards - (Sec. 202) Prohibits Federal agencies from accepting State issued driver's licenses or identification cards unless such documents are determined by the Secretary to meet minimum security requirements, including the incorporation of specified data, a common machine-readable technology, and certain anti-fraud security features.

Sets forth minimum issuance standards for such documents that require: (1) verification of presented information; (2) evidence that the applicant is lawfully present in the United States; and (3) issuance of temporary driver's licenses or identification cards to persons temporarily present that are valid only for their period of authorized stay (or for one year where the period of stay is indefinite).

(Sec. 203) Requires States, as a condition of receiving grant funds or other financial assistance under this title, to participate in the interstate compact regarding the sharing of driver's license data (the Driver License Agreement).

(Sec. 204) Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit trafficking in actual as well as false authentication features for use in false identification documents, document-making implements, or means of identification.

Requires the Secretary to enter into the appropriate aviation security screening database information regarding persons convicted of using false driver's licenses at airports.

(Sec. 205) Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to assist States in conforming to the minimum standards set forth in this title.

(Sec. 206) Gives the Secretary all authority to issue regulations, set standards, and issue grants under this title. Gives the Secretary of Transportation all authority to certify compliance with such standards.

Authorizes the Secretary to grant States an extension of time to meet the minimum document requirements and issuance standards of this title, with adequate justification.

(Sec. 207) Repeals overlapping document provisions of the IRTPA.

(Sec. 208) States that nothing in this title shall be construed to affect the authorities and responsibilities of the Secretary of Transportation or the States under existing laws governing the establishment of a National Driver Register.

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March 22, 2005

Jerusalem - 1967

Daniel's seventy weeks begins with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The prophecy itself concerns "the holy city". Many eschatologists point to May 14, 1948, when Israel became an independent nation, as "the budding of the fig tree". For the purposes of the seventy weeks, though, some have pointed instead to June 7, 1967, when Israel regained control of Jerusalem from Jordan. The BBC has a wonderful set of maps detailing control of Jerusalem before and after the Six-Day War. The region under Jordanian control before the war included the old walled city containing all the important Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious sites.

On the third day of the war, June 7, Jordanian forces were pushed from the West Bank across the River Jordan. Israel had annexed all of the West Bank and Jerusalem, opening up the old city to Jews for the first time in 2000 years. A UN arranged cease-fire between Israel and Jordan went into effect that evening. [1]
In Luke 21:24, Jesus says "...and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." It is crystal clear that the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled June 7, 1967.

What then shall we do? In the same chapter, Jesus advises us:

And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. - Luke 21:34-36

[1] The Six Day War - Part 1: June 5-7.

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March 20, 2005

Jerusalem Latitude and Longitude

Jerusalem is located 31 47' N 35 13' E. Why is this useful? To get sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset information. The Navy, for example, has an interesting tool* which gives complete sun and moon data for one day from any location in the world. Jerusalem is two hours east of Greenwich.
* It turns out that the Naval calendar does not accept 32 AD and automatically maps it to 2032.

DISCLAIMER: Be careful the following section - parts of it are quite wrong. Passover is celebrated on the night before the 15th of Nissan, not the night before the 14th, so April 6, 32 makes the crucifixion on Friday not Thursday...

Assume for the moment (1) that Jesus's trimumphant entry into Jerusalem was Sunday, April 6, 32, Nisan 10 and (2) that the first Passover dinner would have been eaten Wednesday night (the eve of Nissan 14). That would mean that Jesus was crucified Thursday, April 10 (the day of Nisan 14) and "buried" that same day. According to the Adventist calendar**, that day, the sun rose at 5:35am and set 5:53pm. Matthew 27:46 indicates that Jesus passed away at about the ninth hour, at about 3 in the afternoon. I found a nice synopsis by Lori Eldridge with a frame-by-frame analysis of everything that happened on Nisan 14.

I'm not sure about the April 6th date. I just found a counter-argument to Anderson. Nevertheless, the tools are starting to come together.
** No promotion or approval is intended any other information on the Adventist website.

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New moons, Jewish calendar and dating the crucifixion

I wrote earlier about the Rosh Hashanah and the necessity of two witnesses confirming the new moon. Just so you don't think I've been brainwashed by crazy websites, here is a Jewish resource stating just that. Also, this afternoon, I had a chance to confirm this with my neighbor who so happens to be a rabbi. One of the problems with dating via witnesses is that there was always a chance that the year may be incorrectly shifted by a day. As a result, orthodox Jews ended up celebrating the major holidays twice! Even today, many Jews celebrate two Passovers back-to-back. This answers a question that I had last night about whether Jesus ate the Passover dinner or whether he was crucified on Passover. I believe the correct answer is both -- over two days! Why is this significant? First, it cleans up confusion regarding whether or not Jesus died on the Passover. Second, my conjecture is that upon careful investigation, it will be found that Jesus was crucified on the real Passover.

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Middle English osanna, from Old English, from Late Latin ōsanna, from Greek hōsanna, from Hebrew ha-nā, deliver us

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March 18, 2005

Annular eclipse - 3 Oct 2005

According to the BBC, on October 3rd this year there will be an annular eclipse viewable from Europe, Africa and southern Asia. What is an annular eclipse? In an annular eclipse, the Moon is further away from the Sun than normal, thus the Moon's shadow will not be large enough to cover the Sun. The Sun appears as a ring with a dark centre. Fred Espenak at NASA has a detailed review of the event. The greatest eclipse will occur over Chad at 10:31:42 UT (GMT). You can figure out how the event will look from different locations using the solarscope.

Eschatalogically interestingly, it falls on the eve of Rosh Hashana. Originally known as the Day of Blowing or Yom Teruah, it is referenced in Numbers 29:1 and Leviticus 23:24. Endtime enthusiasts are often quick to point out that Yom Teruah is "the only festival that no man knows the day or the hour in which it begins." According to,

Yom Teruah is the only festival that no man knows the day or the hour in which it begins. This is due to the fact that it begins on the new moon. The new moon was sanctified when two witnesses see the new moon and attest to it before the Sanhedrin in the Temple. This sanctification could happen during either of two days, depending on when the witnesses come. Since no one knew when the witnesses would come, no one knew when the Feast of Trumpets would start. On the 30th of each month, the members of the High Court assembled in a courtyard in Jerusalem, where they waited to receive the testimony of two reliable witnesses. They then sanctified the new moon.

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March 17, 2005

Restore and rebuild Jerusalem

"...from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem..." - Daniel 9:25

  1. Cyrus - 537 BC
    • Ezra 1:2. Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah
    • Ezra 6:3. In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices...
  2. Artaxerxes - 458 BC
    • Ezra 7:13. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.
    • Ezra 7:15,16. And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem.
  3. Artaxerxes - 444 BC
    • Nehemiah 2:5-8. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wallw of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
    • Nehemiah 17,18. Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

I agree* with Thomas Ice [1] that the third decree from Artaxerxes to Nehemiah is the only one which matches the description of a decree to "restore and rebuild" Jerusalem. The first and second decrees have more to do with restoring the temple and the temple functioning than restoring the city. Nehemiah himself speaks of "how Jerusalem lieth waste".

Dating the third decree
Nehemiah dates the decree in 2:1 to the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. The question naturally arises as to whether or not we can pin down the date to the Julian calendar. I found* a rather curious site** by "Zachary" [2] who has claims to have scientifically dated the decree to March 14, 445 BC using a combination of astronomical data on eclipses from Ptolemy and marriage records from Egypt. This is interesting, because the 444 BC date I cited above, more precisely March 5, 444 BC, comes from Harold Hoehner, a Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who rather successfully argued [3] with Sir Robert Anderson, a British Bretheren. Anderson, using the Jewish calendar, also set Artaxerxes' decree at March 14, 445 BC.

Let's take the 445 BC date first. Based on the 69 weeks in Daniel 9:25, we compute 69 x 7 days => 69 x 7 lunar years = 69 x 7 x 12 x 30 days = 173880 days from March 14, 445 BC. According to Anderson and Zachary, this takes us to Sunday, April 6, 32 AD, when Jesus rides triumphantly into Jerusalem.

More to come in another installment... it is bedtime.

[1] T. Ice, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel, Part V.
[2] J. Zachary, Using Astronomy to Date Biblical Events with Scientific Accuracy, Harvard House.
[3] T. Ice, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel, Part IV.
* Except as noted in the text, I do not endorse, agree or claim as truth any other statement by this person.
** As a disclaimer, I'm immediately suspicious of any site which uses the animated gif flame - as I used it myself about 10 years ago on my first few websites. I also note that is a Network Solutions Private Registration. Why all the secrecy? Finally, John Zachary has made a prediction of October 4, 2005 being a very significant date. Hmmm.

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March 14, 2005

Yoga... at the National Pastors Convention

Think I'm kidding? Special thanks to MacSwift for pointing to the National Pastors Convention itinerary. Every day, between 8:00 and 8:45, you could have chosen either "Contemplative Morning Prayer Exercises" or "Sustainable Life Forum: Stretching and Yoga (Shelly Pagitt)". What's yoga? Om.

Interesting, they even had a labyrinth. Years ago I walked the one at Grace Cathedral...

The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the Divine Mother, the God within, the Goddess, the Holy in all of creation. For many of us the feminine aspect of the Divine has been painfully absent from our lives, our spirituality, and our Western culture. - Rev. Lauren Artress [1]

[1] L. Artress, "Q and A with Lauren," Veriditas, Vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 1996, p. 18.

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January 27, 2005

Satellite photos before and after the tsunami

The photos are dramatic - almost unreal. Tony Demark at DigitalGlobe put the site together. DigitalGlobe sells satellite imagery. They have a cool "globeexplorer" which lets you look for images by address.

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January 23, 2005

What is a sign?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a sign as "something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality" and "a portentous incident or event; a presage". A portent is "an indication of something important or calamitous about to occur; an omen." In the NASB, the word sign appears 86 times.

Cain's signGenesis 4:14-16God "appoints" a sign for Cain, so that anyone who finds him will not kill him. It isn't clear what this sign is, but it tells others that Cain is under God's protection.
The rainbowGenesis 9The rainbow is a sign of God's covenant or promise that He will never again destroy the earth and its inhabitants with a flood.
CircumcisionGenesis 17:10-12Circumcision is a sign of the God's promise to Abraham, that Abraham will be the father of many nations and that he will inherit Canaan forever.
Moses will worship God at the mountainExodus 3:11-12God tells Moses that after he brings the Israelites out of Egypt he will worship God at this mountain. This is so that Moses knows that it is God that has done all this. In this case, the sign is an unlikely and predicted event that occurs.

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January 18, 2005

Protestant denominations in the US

Churches of Christ2,593,000
Congregational/United Church of Christ1,378,000
Jehovah's Witnesses1,331,000
Assemblies of God1,106,000

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December 31, 2004

Increasing earthquakes "at the end times"

It has been mentioned, with respect to the tsunami, that there seem to be more earthquakes these days then there have been in the past. I visited the USGS archives today and compiled a couple interesting charts. The first the number of earthquakes magnitude 7.0 or larger since 1900. The purple line plots a regression on the data. At least for the last 100+ years, the number of earthquakes has been decreasing rather than increasing. It then occurred to me that it may, however, be the case that the earthquakes, though not more frequent, have become more lethal. The USGS has a dataset on earthquakes with 1000 or more deaths since 1902. Conclusion? The number of deaths over time has een rising in basically a linear fashion.



The number of deaths from earthquakes for the past 100 years sits at about 2 million. From a heartless perspective, this is surprisingly small. Remember that the world has about 6.1 billion people. To put it into perspective, Martin Gilbert's Atlas of the Holocaust puts the number of Jews exterminated between 1939 and 1945 at 5,750,000.

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