ANG DATING DAAN WORLDWIDE BIBLE EXPLOITATION BY ELI SORIANO
Topic: “Did Eli Soriano Fulfill the Prophecy of Isaiah 24:15?”
This is a reaction to an article written by Eli Soriano in his own blog “Truth In Focus” dated August 9, 2007. The article is titled “God-Inspired Prophecies About a Poor Nation and a Nobody Like Brother Eli”. I would like to take this opportunity to test Eli Soriano’s reliability on interpreting the Bible.
This is not a personal attack on Eli Soriano’s character and sincerity but a careful analysis of his teachings and how he misinterprets the Bible–so that readers will be more careful next time they read or hear him teaching.
I am just following the wise counsel in Acts 17:11 regarding the believers in Berea: “The people there were more open-minded than the people in Thessalonica. They listened to the message with great eagerness, and every day they studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was really true.” (Act 17:11 GNB).
So in application of this passage, we will study the Scripture itself to see if what Eli Soriano teaches is in line with what really the Bible says.
Eli Soriano and the “Spirit of Prophecy”
In the beginning of his article, Eli Soriano is attempting to put some credibility on his position as a preacher since he claims to be a prophet by applying the “Spirit of Prophecy” to his mission. He wrote:
“the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus
(Revelation 19:10). And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have a testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Soriano’s emphasis)
To whom a prophecy is being fulfilled, there rest the testimony of Jesus.”
By applying this to him he may not be aware of the fact that according to the context of Revelation, that having the “Spirit of the prophecy” as the “Testimony of Jesus” is the work of the prophet, and that is according to the parallel passage in Revelation 22:9 (NIV):
“But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow-servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”
Compare this passage with Revelation 19:10 and see the clear indication that those who have the “Testimony of Jesus” are the “the prophets”.
“Do not do it! I am a fellow-servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10.
Therefore, based on the comparison between Revelation 19:10 and 22:9 it is clearly pointed out by the Scriptures that those “brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus” and the “brothers the prophets” are referring to the same people, i.e, the “Prophets”.
We can now sense the fact that Eli Soriano is actually claiming to be a Prophet in our time. So this is really the right moment to find out whether his claim is true or not. From this article alone, we can easily find out if he is really a true prophet of God or not. Let’s begin our research.
Isaiah 24:15 and the “Philippine Islands”
To begin with, we will study how Eli Soriano handles biblical interpretation. If he is really a true prophet from God we should expect him to handle the Scripture with care. To test his credential let us start with how he interprets the statement in Isaiah 24:15. Here is a quote on Isaiah 24:15 based on New International Version as used in his article:
“Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; exalt the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea.”
Notice how Eli Soriano understood this verse with the usage of other Bible passages to make Isaiah 24:15 as though pointing to him and his group:
“The Philippines (formerly called “Las Islas Filipinas” in honor of King Philip II of Spain), which is a group of Island in the Pacific Ocean, is included in Biblical prophecies.”
“The possibility of this prophecy being fulfilled in the Philippines is 100 percent! Brother Eli and his group are ‘easterners’; and his group is the only congregation in the Philippines that offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the God of Israel — weekly.”
“The Philippines as a nation, and Brother Eli as a citizen of the Philippines, is a fulfillment of this prophecy.”
Is that true? Did Isaiah have in mind the “Las Islas Filipinas” when he prophesied this verse during his time in 8th cent. B.C.?
Eli Soriano also made an emphasis on the word “East” in this verse in order to justify his case that this might be the Philippines since it belongs to the east. Any intelligent reader would realize that what he said is just merely his own opinion.
Why opinion? Because this is just his explanation without any basis at all. Did Eli Soriano showed us any Biblical evidence to back up his claim that the “east” and the “islands of the sea” in Isaiah 24:15 is referring to the Philippines? A BIG NO!
That’s why I wonder how his followers would always introduce him as the “most sensible preacher” while here he is talking non-sense at all.
The big question is, where did he get this idea? Well, if you are unaware yet, this is the right time to know where he borrowed this interpretation. Believe it or not, he inherited it from his worst and bitterest enemy, the Iglesia ni Cristo (1914) of Felix Manalo!
I will give you a little bit of history. Eli Soriano was brought up with the “Iglesia ng Diyos” founded by Mr. Nicolas Perez in 1936. His article mentioned above also says:
“Brother Eli came from among the group he leads. He was never a Catholic, a Protestant, nor a member of any other religious group but the Church of God first preached in the Philippines by Brother Nicholas Perez.”
Who then is this Brother Nicholas Perez? What is his background that could influence Eli Soriano in his beliefs? Nicholas Antiporda Perez was a former Iglesia ni Cristo (1914) minister from 1923-1928.
The Origin of Eli Soriano’s Interpretation of Isaiah 24:15
One of the foundational teachings of the INC(1914) since the time of its inception is in the prophecies regarding the call of Felix Manalo as the true messenger of God in the Philippines. And one of these foundational prophecies they always use is Isaiah 24:15. Let us read from the official publication of the I.N.C. (1914), the “Pasugo”:
“In the “Isles of the Sea” in the East- “Wherefore glorify ye Jehovah in the EAST, even the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel, in the ISLES OF THE SEA.” (Isa. 24:15 R.V.) “The “Isles of the Sea” in the Far East are a group of more than 7,000 islands, now known as the ‘PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.’ Their geographical position is confirmed by BOAK, SLOSSON and ANDERSON in their book – World History – on page 445: “The Philippines were Spain’s share of the first colonizing movement in the Far East.”
Now you know the origin of Eli Soriano’s interpretation of Isaiah 24:15! It is not from the Bible but confirmed only from the book named as WORLD HISTORY by BOAK, SLOSSON and ANDERSON! This is a very clear revelation that Eli Soriano is in fact a Prophet or Spokesman of BOAK, SLOSSON and ANDERSON and not to mention the I.N.C.(1914), and NOT OF GOD! Therefore, Eli Soriano is a PROPAGATOR of Felix Manalo!
I do not question the fact that Philippines as a Christian nation has a place in the Kingdom of God. There is no doubt about it. God has many children here in the Philippines a truly born again people who were saved by His grace through faith.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” (Titus 2:11 ESV) “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”(1John 2:2 ESV)
And that I believe includes the Filipino people in the Philippine Islands. Because salvation is for everyone. What I’m questioning about is the irresponsible handling of the Scriptures by Eli Soriano to the point of twisting its real intention or meaning without considering the contexts or its background. With this strategy we are not glorifying God even if we claim we are doing it for the glory of God like what Eli Soriano is claiming. His sincerity is not enough. It doesn’t make wrong things true. What is important is accuracy of knowledge just like what Paul said in Romans 10:3 NIV:
“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”
I do not doubt Eli Soriano’s love for the Filipino people when it comes to salvation of their souls. I know how a Filipino preacher like me feels when I gain an assurance from the Bible that even we Asians could have been mentioned even in the Bible prophecies. But this is subjective and dangerous. This is not anymore an exegesis (reading OUT of the text) but an eisegesis (reading INTO the text) which is a fallacy in science of Bible interpretation. What Eli Soriano did is an eisegesis. He is reading INTO the text which is not really there.
What then is the real meaning of Isaiah 24:15?
We need to do the exegesis (reading OUT of the text) in Isaiah 24:15 in order to arrive at a proper interpretation. Let the Bible speak for itself!
The “east” and “Isles of the sea” According to the Biblical Context:
Most scholarly Bible commentaries agreed that the phrase “Islands of the Sea” in Isaiah 24:15 refers to the Mediterranean Sea west of Israel. Adam Clarke comments that the phrase “Isles of the sea” is “chiefly applied to any distant countries, especially those lying on the Mediterranean Sea.” Keil and Delitzsch gave a scholarly remark: “The ground and subject of the rejoicing is “the majesty of Jehovah,” i.e., the fact that Jehovah had shown Himself so majestic in judgment and mercy (Isa. 12:5, 6), and was now so manifest in His glory (Isa. 2:11, 17). Therefore rejoicing was heard “from the sea” (the Mediterranean), by which the abode of the congregation of Jehovah was washed.
Turning in that direction, it had the islands and coast lands of the European West in front (iyyi hayyâm; the only other passage in which this occurs is Isa. 11:11, cf., Ezek. 26:18), and at its back the lands of the Asiatic East, which are called ’urim, the lands of light, i.e., of the sun-rising.”
From the scholarly point of view without any bias but only objective reasoning, the “east” and the “isles of the sea” referred to in Isaiah 24:15 are referring to two different locations not just one like what Eli Soriano would like us to think.
It is clear from studies above that the “Isles of the Sea” refers to the European West not the Philippine Islands!
In fact, there are few scholars who questions the use of “east” in that verse for in Hebrew text the word used is “urim” usually translated “lights” or “fires” in some English translations.
For example, in King James Version, a translation I believed Eli Soriano use most of the time in his Bible expositions, it uses “fires” rather than “east”: “Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.” (Isa 24:15 KJV)
No wonder why Eli Soriano used the NIV translation for Isaiah 24:15 in his article rather than his favorite KJV because it serves his tastes and do him a favor.
The “earth” According to the Biblical Context:
Another point we need to consider is the term “earth” mentioned in the whole chapter of Isaiah 24. It occurs about 16 times in the NIV translation. In the original Hebrew, the word translated “earth” here should be rendered more accurately as “land”.
The more usual meaning of הארץ “the earth” in Isaiah is of a particular territory or space in which someone lives or over which someone reigns. In the Near East, for Israel, “the land” was essentially the territory that faced the eastern Mediterranean Sea. This included Palestine/Syria and the wings in Mesopotamia in the northeast and Egypt/Ethiopia in the south. In that setting “the land,” “the world,” and “civilization” were terms that were much nearer to each other than the three terms would be today. They all meant in that time the area of Palestine-Syria and Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Therefore, for translations (RSV, NIV, and others) to render הארץ as “the earth” in chaps. 24–27 when they had rendered it “the land” in previous chapters confuses the issue. This means that the devastation, destruction, and shaking described in these chapters involves Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. This was the world from Jerusalem’s perspective. In this sense “the land” was particularly Israel’s land.
I challenge Eli Soriano and his church to produce any scholarly Bible commentary that supports their contention that the “Islands of the sea” in the book of Isaiah is in any way refers to the “Philippine Islands”. If there is silence on this then it means they accept their mistakes and there’s no need for public apology since most of the people will already understand it.
Something Special in the “Isles of the Sea”?
There is nothing special here about the “east” or “isles of the sea” like what Eli Soriano and the INC(1914) would want us to believe, because in the preceding verse 14 it also mentioned about the direction from the “west”. If Eli Soriano thinks there is something special with the “east” why not in the “west” as well?
Without considering the biblical geographical center we can put special meaning in the “west” by claiming that the true religion must be restored somewhere in America or in Europe which I know Eli Soriano is against with, since I remember one time, I heard him talked against the religious organization coming from the white people.
to be continued….