Some Thoughts on Isaiah 11:6 and “the Mandela Effect”

The other day a coworker of mine asked if I read the Bible and proceeded to share with me some things that he’d heard about Isaiah 11:6 on a YouTube video claiming to provide “…the three best and most detailed examples of the Mandela Effect.” [time mark 1:27] And In the course of the brief exchange I asked him to send me a link to the video – which has resulted in further conversation and this post that you are now reading.

The Mandela Effect(?)

The video in question kind of opens with a summary of the concept of this theory. And as far as I can tell – considering I had no active knowledge of this concept until watching the video – the event that gave the theory its name does seem somewhat puzzling… Especially when only equipped with the minimal information provided by the video.

However, since my concern is more related to the text of Scripture, as far as this theory goes I will simply offer a short list of thoughts and/or questions regarding said subject and leave the rest to the reader’s opinion and/or knowledge/research.

1: it seems to me that this theory assumes the infallibility of a person’s memory – simply based upon the “vividness” and/or “detail” of the mistaken memory – and this assumption is apparently validated by “many total strangers” having the same mistaken “memory.”

2: building further on this assumption of infallible human memory, it seems this theory is more imaginatively pointless than it is thoughtfully helpful (no offense intended to those who believe or have further studied the idea). After all, if such a theory were actually fact – and we had experienced intersection of dimensions and/or timelines – what could we possibly do about it?

3: from a slightly different angle – but in a similar vein as my question ending the previous point – the proponents and conceivers of this theory seem to be coming from a completely secular-humanist and/or materialistic (if not occult) worldview. Now this thought would mean more to a disciple of Jesus than anyone else – but the point stands that this theory ignores or outright denies the existence of a Sovereign Creator working all things according to the council of His own will.

These were just a few of the more poignant of my thoughts as I watched the first portion of the video. But I would prefer to specifically focus on the second part that the creators of the video titled “Biblical Changes.”

Changes to the Bible? [time mark 6:12]

The first difficulty I had with this section was the language about “Biblical changes” with no qualifications or basis given for the presumptive phrasing. Obviously the discussion of Isaiah 11:6 would be considered an example – but one verse is hardly sufficient to warrant language implying more than a few actual changes to the text of the Bible.

In fact, the first real example cited (outside of a general statement about ‘many Christians misremembering the verse’) is a post by a user on a site called “Reddit” claiming to have gone to “three different churches” to ask ministers about the verse and finding that the people the Reddit person talked to misremembered the verse. [time mark 7:35]

I would submit to the reader several ideas/questions at this point: 1) what evidence can the Reddit user give for their story? What churches did they go to? Who were the ministers? What denomination were the churches? 2) what do three unverifiable examples prove about the “changing” of an ancient, historically verifiable text? 3) should we really allow the mistakes of people’s fallible, often prone to or capable of malfunction minds to cause us to assume the text of an ancient set of books has been changed? 4) does this one story really give the video warrant to say “even those within ecclesiastical institutions incorrectly remember the verse” [time mark 7:30] as if this mistake were a normative thing across Christianity? (NOTE: That may not have been the intent of those who made the video, but it was still implied by their choice of words and the method of presenting the data)

Again, I realize my thoughts would not necessarily be significant to one who is not a disciple of Jesus – but I believe my questions are valid and deserving of consideration by anyone interested in fact/truth.

The next phrase (with no substantiation) that I would think any critically thinking person would take issue with came at time mark 8:15 – “Christians are becoming increasingly worried about what this passage change means…”

Now, again, what grounds are there for assuming that the passage has been changed? I would submit to the reader that subjective human thoughts are no basis upon which to question ANY historically verifiable reality. More important and directly relative to the quote, however, is what documentation do the makers of this video have for such a statement? I, for one, have never even heard of people making this mistake before watching this video… and I follow enough “Christian sources” online that I’m pretty sure I would have heard of this before if it was an actual concern among the greater Christian community – as implied by the statement.

The video follows this statement with some odd thoughts of what the significance would be if the passage had been changed which I will simply provide some of my own thoughts about and leave the video alone for the rest of this post. However, the reader is obviously free to watch the video in its entirety and come to there own conclusions.

Context and Concept of Isaiah 11:6

1: If one will read the entirety of Isaiah, they will see that chapter 11 is a prophetic text – and it seems to me to be of a particularly eschatological bent, although the beginning sets it up as ultimately messianic in nature. The concept of verses 6-9, namely the perfect peace that will be on God’s mountain/kingdom, is set up by verse 6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (ESV) The context – and simply the entirety of the verse – taken into consideration removes any need to question the “significance” of the animals depicted. The obvious thrice-emphasized Hebrew parallelism of “wolf and lamb,” “leopard and kid,” and “lion and calf,” make it clear that the verse is simply putting forth the removal of predator and prey distinctions in this land where there is perfect peace (I.e. No natural indicators of struggle and death). The rest of the context of the chapter does not allow for any “secret/hidden” interpretation or meaning to the animals used in the illustration. (NOTE: the parallel passage in Isaiah 65:25 is another indication of the simplicity of the intended meaning)

2: Even if we were to consider this idea that the animals depicted have a “deeper meaning” – there would be no definitive precedent to indicate what that meaning would be. Though Christ is called the “Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5) there are plenty of illustrations in scripture that utilize a lion (as well as a wolf) as a ferocious and terrible beast (Isaiah 5:29, Ezekiel 22:27, Psalm 17:12), and the only other illustration I know of in the Bible utilizing a wolf is in connection with false prophets/teachers (Acts 20:29-30, Matthew 7:15)… so there would really be no reason to note such a supposed “change” in the first place.

3: in humoring the video – my wife and I came up with a few potential possibilities for why this mistake of memory is made: 1) the popular “worship song” How Great Is Our God by Chris Tomlin has “Lion and the lamb” as one of its refrains… 2) the imagery of Jesus in the Bible not only utilizes a lamb (Revelation 5:6, etc.) but Jesus is also given the title of “the Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5)… and these are just two very commonly experienced/known things among Christians and in “Christian culture” that could reasonably explain the common mistake of misremembering Isaiah 11:6. However, even if these didn’t explain the phenomenon – there is still not enough grounds to claim changes have been made to an ancient text when all you’ve got is a potentially freaky case of common mistaken memory.

Final Note

No intended offense is meant against my coworker or the makers of the video that sparked this post, but it must be made clear to the reader that ancient, orthodox Christianity holds to none of the superstitions or confidence in mankind’s own thoughts and/or memories that seem to have given rise to the presentation in the video linked to above.

The good news of the Son of God taking on human flesh and living a perfect life to fulfill the demands of the Law of God, dying upon the cross to satisfy the Wrath of God and take away the sins of His people, and being buried and rising again on the third day to prove His Work acceptable and His people Justified before God denies any possible confidence in the thoughts and intentions of mankind.

No matter what we encounter that seems unexplainable, these things remain self evident; everything we see and interact with was made and is owned by a Thrice-Holy God, the whole of humanity desires and does nothing but that which is evil, and there is no way for man to stand clean before his Maker unless the Maker first does something to cleanse him… which He has.


First Thessalonians 1

“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 1 (ESV)

Side NOTE: The background for the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, from Scripture, seems to be in Acts 17:1-9. And based upon that portion of Acts, and Paul’s usage of the plural in the last sentence of verse 5 (and some brief internet searches) it seems that “Silvanus” named above may very likely be “Silas” from the book of Acts. As I do not yet read the original Greek fluently, I’ll leave that observation there for what it is.

It is interesting how Paul is always about thanking God for the saints whom he knows and knows of. And it is encouraging and/or useful (I think) that his thankfulness often stems from a very practical/personal interaction element of how he came to know or be with the group his Epistle is written to. In the case of the Thessalonians he remembers broadly their “work of faith,” “labor of love,” and “steadfastness of hope in Jesus Christ.” And from the account given to us in Acts 17, these aspects of the Thessalonians may be all the more intense for Paul due to the relatively small group that were initially saved there and subsequently persecuted by the Jews.

The second thing that jumps out at me in the beginning of this Epistle is Paul’s persistent consistency in using language that puts the impetus on God in the matter of salvation. Although he does not go into the depth he did in the Epistle to the Ephesians, it is undeniable that Paul believes God chose the particular Thessalonians who believed.

Now, my soteriologically synergistic brethren may be a little agitated at such an observation, however, verse 4 is quite clear. Paul thanks God for the Church at Thessalonica because he knows that they, being loved by God, were chosen by God. And Paul knows this for one reason that is threefold; because the gospel came to them “in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

It seems to me that Paul is using Hebrew parallelism in describing his assurance about God’s choosing and saving the Thessalonians – for where does the “power” of the gospel come from but the working of the Spirit to “fully convict” those whom God has chosen for salvation?

And then Paul reminds his readers of “what kind of men” he and Silvanus “proved to be” among them for their sake. It seems here in the latter half of verse 5 that Paul inserts the beginnings of what is an underlying theme of both the Epistles that he wrote to the Thessalonians; and that is something of a Christian “work ethic” or “code of conduct” – if you will. Though this only becomes blatant in 2 Thessalonians (some of them apparently having missed that point) – I do not think it a stretch to see a little of that reasoning in the things that Paul will bring up later in this Epistle.

However, the primary and actual point of Paul mentioning what kind of men he and his companion proved to be was to continue to commend the Thessalonians – and further the list of things he is thanking and “remembering” before God – for their having been imitators of them “and the Lord.”

And in what way does Paul describe them as imitators of Christ? In their receiving the gospel in “much affliction,” being granted joy by the Holy Spirit because of that word and in spite of the affliction – and in so doing being made an example to other believers in nearby regions. And not only a living example, but proclaimers of the gospel of Christ – evidenced from Paul having heard that their “faith in God has gone forth everywhere,” (verse 8).

And subsequently Paul thanks God and encouraged the Thessalonians by including verses 9 and 10. Making it a perfect transition into the underlying themes of both Epistles to the Thessalonians – that of Christian living and the Eschaton.

It will be interesting to see – as we pick up “chapter 2” – how Paul continues with this personal address as he also weaves in teaching and recollections of imitation-worthy examples for how we as Christians should act and think…

For now, I encourage the reader to walk through the entirety of the Epistle in their own private study, and hope my observations have been at least interesting, if not entirely “helpful.”

A Brief Examination of Positive Confession…

What is “positive confession?” Positive confession is one of THE key doctrines in the Word of Faith movement – also known as the “health and wealth” or “prosperity” gospel – and can be summed up thusly: it is essentially the doctrine of man’s ability to speak things(primarily circumstantial, relational, emotional, and/or physical) into existence – stated differently, it is the doctrine of man’s god-like ability to create and/or modify reality merely by the power of his spoken words.

Like many doctrines of false religion, this one has many forms and extents – depending on who’s teaching it – and it also touches upon many different concepts in its full consideration; however, for the sake of keeping this post fairly short, I will be addressing the purely verbal/spoken end of the doctrine.

Though there are quite a few passages in the Bible used by those who teach the doctrine, Proverbs 18:21 – in my experience – is the most often quoted “go-to text” by those who assume the doctrine to be orthodox. I notice, however, that they rarely(if ever) quote the last half of the verse. Indeed, if my experience with those who quote it for this purpose were any gauge, one would assume there was no “other half.”

It is almost funny how often just going one or two verses back or ahead will undercut the misinterpretation of those who teach that this has anything to do with the supernatural “power” of a human being’s words. For instance, verses 19 & 20 seem to be in the same vein and are entirely ‘relational’ in nature. Nothing metaphysical or supernatural is implied. So why assume so in verse 21?

NOTE: the same principle is suggested in Proverbs 12:12-20 – and I would point the reader to the context of Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:36-37… also, the reader of the Book of Proverbs should always keep in mind that it is not the same form of literature as is found in the Old Testament Prophets or the New Testament Epistles, etc…

James 3:6 is a close runner-up I’ve heard used to teach positive confession. The context, however, would again indicate a primarily ‘relational’ concept. The god-like ability to “speak things into reality” can be nowhere accurately drawn from these passages of Scripture – the idea must be forced upon them; or they must be ripped and twisted out of context to even get there.

The strongest argument (meaning non-Olympian level eisegesis) for the doctrine I have heard made from Mark 11:22-24. However, positive confessors seem to miss the fact that Jesus here is primarily speaking of prayer. The context itself also precludes inserting any form of constant, non-God-commanded, daily speech being full of “power,” idea.

NOTE: see also James 4 for a good idea of how the apostles took and practically applied Jesus’ teaching later on…

Obviously this doctrine is quite a bit more complex (as is it’s refutation) and pervasive in the worldview of it’s adherents than has been drawn out here, but, again, for the sake of brevity I’ll leave the reader to ponder and study further on their own.

I hope this was interesting and/or helpful.


Brief Thoughts on Luke 10

The Context: chapter 9 of Luke obviously contains quite a bit of content, but the information given us immediately before the break into “chapter 10” is of several different “followers” and their interactions with Jesus (‘foxes have holes but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ –Luke 9:57-62) but the driving story before this is Jesus foretelling His death and “setting His face” toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:21-22, 44, and 51).

The Seventy-Two: “After this” is how chapter 10 begins, and thus a proper understanding of what Jesus does and instructs in the beginning of the chapter seems to hinge on keeping in mind what came before it.

Where did Jesus send these disciples out to in pairs? “Every town and place where he himself was about to go.” (Verse 1)… why did he send them out? Presumably – based on verses 5 through 12, and 16 (and 9:1-6) – to preach what He had taught them; but specifically we are told He commanded them to ‘heal the sick and say to them “the kingdom of God has come near to you.”‘As I read through chapter 10 of Luke this evening it occurred to me that the connection of this event to Jesus’ going to Jerusalem to be crucified is of no small significance. In all of the synoptic gospels Jesus’ instruction and teaching of His disciples (particularly the apostles) seems to grow more earnest and “to the point,” if you will, as He approaches the cross compared to earlier in His ministry. Could it be that Jesus sent out the seventy-two to heal the sick and prepare the way for Him not just so that people would know He was coming, but perhaps so that he would not encounter quite as large a mob looking for miracles as He would have otherwise?

Many things to consider and ponder over in why Jesus sent out these men, but let us move on to when they returned to Him for the sake of this particular discussion…

Verse 17 is translated thus in my ESV Bible: “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” … now, what were the Lord’s specific instructions to these disciples? To ‘heal the sick and proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of God.’ But these people do not come rejoicing that those who have heard their message are repentant and receptive to Christ, but that they could command demons!

Granted, some or many of the sicknesses they were commanded to heal could have been caused by demonic possession or oppression, but Jesus’ response in verses 18 and 20 seem to be more a corrective or warning rebuke than an encouraging affirmation of their joy.

The interpretation above is far different than that given by those who want to hone in on verse 19, I know, but I cannot read that verse separate from everything else going on. Also, those who want to emphasize verse 19 – almost to the exclusion of verse 20 – usually miss several markers that serve to indicate that much of the authority given was specific to that time and group of people in many ways. The phrase “nothing shall hurt you,” for one, is incredibly restrictive to where we can apply to whom and when the “authority” Jesus mentions is given.

Moving on again, since it is in the same chapter, I have heard some try to correlate verses 23 and 24 to verses 17 and/or 19… but it seems more reasonable to me – considering the use of present-tense verbs, the content of Jesus’ rejoicing in verses 21 and 22, and His previous admonition to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” – to understand that what Jesus is referring to is, in fact, a combination of Himself being God in flesh standing before men and, in that, the further revelation of God’s very nature…

Here my thoughts begin to trail in too many directions to type now… and I’ve already gone longer and in different directions than I intended (hopefully because the text forced me to and/or the Spirit was gracious in restricting me to it 😉

Hope this was an interesting and/or thought-provoking read.