Monthly Archives: February 2019

Dry Bones

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)

With the cross looming just days away, Jesus’ naïve apostles wondered about Jesus’ coming kingdom and what part they would play. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3, emphasis mine) The question inaugurated Jesus’ end-times sermon known as the Olivet Discourse. The sermon, addressed to Jesus’ Jewish disciples, delineated the events that would take place in the Great Tribulation spoken of by the Prophet Daniel[1] and detailed by John the Apostle.[2] Now, in order to pinpoint the proximity of these events, Jesus offered the Parable of the Fig Tree (our passage above).

Israel is compared to a fig tree in the Old Testament,[3] and Jesus uses this imagery to signal the last days. Just as the budding of a fig tree singals the proximity of summer, so the “budding” of Israel singals the nearness of the Lord’s return. The generation that witnesses Israel bud, Jesus said, “shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34).

Ezekiel was one of the Jewish priests taken to Babylon in the first group of captives.[4] He was contemporary with the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel, and he ministered to the captives in Babylon. God gave the Prophet Ezekiel a preview of Israel’s rebirth. Ezekiel describes his experience as “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones” (Ezekiel 37:1). “The spirit of the LORD” refers to the Holy Spirit who appears often in the Old Testament. Often we think of the Holy Spirit showing up at Pentcost[5] in the New Testament, and indeed He operates differently today than in Old Testament times, but He was no less active in those days. Today, the Holy Spirit indwells every true believer. In Old Testament time, He “came upon” individuals for specific purposes.

The Holy Spirit carried Ezekiel in a “vision” to a valley full of dry bones. We learn later that these dry bones represent the nation of Israel. “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts” (Ezekiel 37:11, emphasis mine). Dry bones indicate that these bodies died many years before, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years. We know by experience that when a body dies and is left unattended, it will decay. Scavengers will eat away at the flesh until nothing is left but the bones. The bones maintain their “boniness” for a long time, but eventually, the sun will bake them dry and they become brittle and eventually turn to dust.

The bones Ezekiel saw were disarticulated and scattered throughout the valley. The vision foretold of a time when Israel would be broken and scattered all over the world with no sign of life and no hope for revival. “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest” (Ezekiel 37:3). Ezekiel saw no hope of life for these bones, but he trusted that with the Lord, nothing is impossible.[6]

God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones. In his vision, Ezekiel witnessed the bones come together and tendons grow to hold the frame together. Then muscle and finally skin, but the bodies remained dead.[7] Then God told him to prophesy to the wind so that it would breathe life into the lifeless bodies. Ezekiel prophesied as instructed and the bodies came alive and stood to their feet and became a mighty army.[8]

After rejecting their Messiah, God punished Israel by destroying the nation and scattering the Jews all over the earth. This took place in 70 A.D. when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and razed the Temple to the ground. The nation of Israel died that day, and its bones were scattered among the Gentile nations. Everywhere they went, they were persecuted, often having to flee from one nation to another with no place they could call their own. Remarkably, they never lost their national identity, traditions, customs, and language, and at every Passover celebration they recited the incessant prayer, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

For nearly 2000 years, the land lay fallow. By all human reconning, the land became a barren desert wasteland. Jews throughout the world could only dream of returning once again to their beloved homeland. Then at the turn of the 20th Century, God started working on Israel’s behalf again. The dry bones started coming together, Then on May 14, 1948, the dry bones stood up “a mighty army.” Immediately, they faced a fight for their lives, but God intervened and the newborn nation survived. Then in 1967, another invasion by their hostile, more powerful neighbors ended in only six days by God’s help, and Israel regained control of their beloved Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

Today, more than 70 years later, tiny Israel is considered the eighth most powerful country in the world.[9] And we are that generation of which Jesus spoke that has witnessed the fig tree bud and the dry bones rise. This is the generation that will see the Lord’s return. Are you ready? If not, read my page, “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Daniel 9:24-27; 11:36-45

[2]  Revelation 6-19

[3]  Joel 1:7, 12

[4]  2 Kings 24:11-16; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8

[5]  Acts 2:1-4

[6]  Jeremiah 32:27

[7]  Ezekiel 37:7-8

[8]  Ezekiel 37:9-10

[9]  “Top 10 Most Powerful Countries in the World 2019

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Weeds

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30)

Many, many years ago, when I was between the ages of 10 and 16, my family used to “chop cotton”[1] in the Texas Panhandle. At that time, herbicides were unheard of, and the only way for farmers to rid their fields of invading weeds was to employ temporary workers to walk the long rows of cotton (or sorghum) with hoes to chop the weeds. Several farmers hired “bazeros” that came from Mexico on temporary work visas. A Quonset hut barracks next to our home in Cotton Center, Texas housed around 200 bazeros from planting season to harvest. Some of the farmers could afford to hire large crews of brazeros that could clean their fields in a day or two. Others had to rely on smaller crews, like us, to walk the fields. It took us a little longer, and by the time we had cleaned out a large field, it was time to start all over.

Weed control is important to the health of the cotton plant, especially in its younger stages. Weeds grow rapidly and they rob the young cotton plants of needed nutrition. Additionally, weeds can overshadow the young plants and block the sunlight that they need for photosynthesis. As the cotton plant matures, they are better able to hold their own against the weeds, and in fact, beat the weeds at their own game.

Chopping cotton was not fun work! We started at sunrise in the cool of the morning when the temperature was only 95° or so, and we worked a good 12-hour day. At $1.25 an hour, we were making a killing! By noon, the temperature approached 100°, and by midafternoon, it was well beyond that. I remember trudging through the long cotton rows – some of them a mile long – and the hot soil would fill our shoes. We stopped often to dump a load of dirt back onto the field where it belonged. Plenty of water and Mom’s refried bean tacos kept us going all day! Perhaps today, such work for a 10-year old boy might be considered a form of child abuse, but back then, we worked together as a family for a common goal. We were united. Yes, it was miserable work, but the family bonds drew us closer together. At the end of the season, the money we earned on the last job went to buy school clothes for the next year. I remember rolling up the cuffs of my jeans at the beginning of the school year, and by the start of the spring semester, they were an inch above my ankles.

One cotton field I will never forget brought dread to our souls as we drove up on it. As we stared at the sight, we urged Dad to take us back home. By the looks of it, it appeared that the farmer had planted weeds rather cotton. At the time, I was a little above five-foot tall, and the rows of weeds towered at least a foot above me. The trunks of the “quelite”[2] (“keli weeds”) were two to three inches in diameter at the base requiring four or five good chops with a sharp hoe to take them down. The rows on this field were one mile long with a solid wall of quelite from one end to the other. The cotton sprouts struggled to survive in this forest of weeds, and we had to be careful not to damage the cotton seedlings while felling the giant quelite.

Less than three hours into our day we stopped to sharpen our hoes. Experience taught us to carry a file in our back pocket for these occasions. As we had walked our rows, our focus remained on the ground taking careful aim at the weeds while avoiding the tender cotton plants. Now as we took a strategic respite and looked behind us, we could see that our advance was minimal. The end of the row ahead still stretched a mile away. By lunchtime, we were almost halfway down our rows. We ate our warm bean tacos on the ground in the shade of the tall keli weeds. By the end of the day, we finished one row. The farmer came and paid us our wages and told us not to bother coming back. The field was too far-gone to save and he decided it would be better to plow it under and start over.

As I reminisce about that weed-infested cotton field, I recall Jesus’ Parable of the Tares.[3] In the parable, Jesus tells of a farmer who planted good (wheat) seed in his field and an enemy came in by night and planted tares, i.e. weeds that resemble wheat. The point of Jesus’ parable explains an aspect of “the Kingdom” often applied to the Church. God seeds the church with “good seed,” i.e. genuine, born-again Christians, and later Satan infiltrates and introduces bad seed into the field, i.e. the Church. Both good and bad seed look pretty much alike, so the owner of the field (the Church), allows both to grow together to be separated at the end of time.

My recollection of the quelite field reminds me of the state of our nation. The weeds are gaining strength. They are spreading out and overshadowing the light to the point that many churches are losing any influence they once had. Worse, many churches are being influenced by the weeds and are beginning to look and sound much like the weeds.

Christians that are paying attention and see the decline of our nation (and the world) encourage other Christians to be bolder in their witness and work harder to turn our nation back to its Christian roots and to do whatever we can to get rid of the weeds. However, that is not happening, much to the chagrin of many well-intentioned Christians. Like that farmer with the weed-infested field, it may be time to plow everything under and start all over. Farmer Jesus may be getting ready to do just that! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Notes:


[1]  The misnomer, “chop cotton,” referred to ridding the cotton fields of undesirable weeds by chopping them out with a hoe. The intent was to chop the weeds and leave the cotton standing.

[2]  “Quelite” [keh-lee-teh] is the Spanish name of the plant. Locals “Englishized” the word and called them “keli weeds.” The leaves of the plant are edible and cooked up like turnip greens. As boys, we loved eating them as much as spinach!

[3]  Matthew 13:24-43

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Harbinger Of Demise

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, by David Roberts (1850)

That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them. (Ezekiel 23:37)

Ezekiel prophesied to the Jewish captives in Babylon. These were the first carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar.[1] Nebuchadnezzar appointed Jehoiakim’s brother, Mattaniah (a.k.a. Zedekiah), as “king,” i.e., figurehead, over the remnants of Judah. [2] It is to these that the words of our verse above were addressed.

God compared Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom, and Jerusalem, capital of Judah, to a couple of adulterous sisters, Aholah and Aholibah.[3] The text does not say whether these were two actual women; however, the name Aholah means “her tent” as in a place of worship. Aholibah (Jerusalem) means “my tent is in her.”

The Northern Kingdom had long abandoned the worship of Yahweh for pagan gods like Baal and Molech, and established their place of worship as Mount Gerizim. Jesus encountered this when He spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain [Mount Gerizim]; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20). So, Mount Gerizim was where Aholah (Samaria) had pitched “her tent,” but God had placed “His tent,” i.e., the Temple, in Jerusalem.

God places Himself in the position of a jilted husband whose wives persistently commit adultery against Him. This adultery comes in the form of idolatry with pagan gods. The idolatry included the live sacrifice of their babies – they had “caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them” (Ezekiel 23:37). For this, God “put away,” i.e. “divorced,” His wives. Both Israel and Judah went into captivity, and even though Judah returned to the land after 70 years, they never again enjoyed the same relationship they previously had with God.[4]

If God did that with His “chosen” people, what makes us think that the United States of America will fare better in her idolatry? America may not worship the grotesque idols of the ancients, but we do have our idols. Our greatest idol is egocentrism. We worship self. We offer up to self our time, our efforts, our money, and yes, even our babies. Babies are a major inconvenience to our own desires. They can cramp our style, so mothers can “choose” at any time to sacrifice their babies to the god of self. Just as the ancients placed their live babies onto the firey hands of Molech, modern mothers can place their live babies into the murderous and greedy hands of Planned Parenthood abortionists.

That is not all the ancients did. The worship of their gods included ritual sex with temple prostitutes – male and female prostitutes. These were not only for heterosexual sex; the practice included homosexual sex. God considers such acts as abominable.[5] Today, our god of self allows for this practice even to the point of assigning your preferred gender to yourself. This perversion is not only acceptable; it is encouraged. As the decline of social mores rapidly accelerates in decay, the words of Paul to the Romans ring ever truer.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools … Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:22, 24, 26-32, emphasis mine).

That is the true state of our union. I was proud of our President Trump in his State of the Union address. His message was positive, encouraging and hopeful. However, in the gallery sat those who applauded only when their selfish interests were addressed. When the President spoke for the sanctity of life, for religious freedom, and against socialism, those same white-clad egotists sat grimacing on their hands. Sadly, these are the ones in power who will thwart every well-intentioned effort by our President.

The light shines brightest when it’s darkest I’ve been told. However, if the dark is a black hole, no light will ever penetrate. If God turned His back on His chosen people, for, arguably, less than our national sin, why should we expect to fare any better? Our only hope is for Jesus to return to reign on earth. From the “signs of the times,” that event can happen any time.

I hope, as you read this, that you are ready for that moment. If you are not sure, please read my page on Securing Eternal Life.

Notes:


[1]  2 Kings 24:11-16; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8

[2]  2 Kings 24:17-19; 2 Chronicles 36:10-12

[3]  Ezekiel 23:4

[4]  The final prophet to speak for God after Judah’s return to the land was Malachi. For 400 years after that, the voice of a prophet was not heard in Israel until “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23) John the Baptist. He announced the coming of Messiah whom the Jews rejected. That rejection resulted in the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Diaspora that lasted almost 2000 years until the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948.

[5]  Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

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Choice

And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 18:21)

Last Sunday we observed, “Right to Life Sunday” at my church. A Lady from Involved for Life, Inc., a ministry of First Baptist Dallas, came to talk to our church about the work the organization is doing in Dallas. Between services, she had a display out in the foyer with tiny rubber replicas of babies at different stages of development. I picked up the one representing 12 weeks of development. It was smaller than my thumbnail, yet it looked like a fully developed baby, only smaller.

My throat knotted up as I looked at the tiny thing, and thinking of the abortion law just passed in the state of New York; I muttered to myself, “How can they be so heartless?” The lady overheard my comment and piously recited the tired platitude, “The light shines brightest when it’s darkest.” I understood the well-intentioned comment. We must be light in a dark world, no matter how deep the darkness.

As I later mused upon her words, it occurred to me that light cannot overcome the darkness of one who is irreversibly blind. Of course, I am referring to leaders like New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and all that cheered as he put pen to paper to affect the law. Yes, we can work to reach troubled women one at a time. To them, we can be light, and we can save some. However, the blindness that pervades our nation, yea, the world, will not give way to the light. It reminds me of a scene from the Revelation where “men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (Revelation 16:9). In this scene, men know that these plagues come from God, yet rather than repent, they blaspheme God. The light will not penetrate the darkness of the irreversibly blind.

I listen to Mark Levin every evening on my way home. Mark Levin is a good Jew, but he loves Evangelical Christians and often “goes to bat” for them on his radio show. On Wednesday’s show[1], he went on a rant about “infanticide.”[2] As I listened in agreement, I felt that familiar knot forming in my throat and a pool of tears welling up in my eyes. It was a combination of deep sadness, righteous anger, and frustrated helplessness at my inability to stop the runaway train bound for destruction. In typical Levin style, Mark began his argument with slow, methodical logic that exploded into a crescendo of superheated passion.

“If somebody kills a pregnant dog, they talk about the ‘puppies,’ right? The same people that call puppies, ‘puppies’ and kittens, ‘kittens’ refuse to call babies, ‘babies’ when they are in the womb. Most states under the criminal codes, you kill a pregnant mother, that’s two counts of murder, and yet they call it a ‘choice.’ How do they get away with this moral incoherence? But you would think that we could at least agree that when the baby is in the birth canal, that that baby is a human being. Now most of us think that it is a baby, period. But you would think everybody would agree, right? That during labor, that during the birth process, it’s not a mother’s ‘choice.’ It’s not a mother’s choice in consultation with her doctor! It’s God’s choice! It’s a baby! THAT’S A BABY! What kind of animals have we become! How inhumane have we become! Where does this end?”

Yes! Where does this all end? How callous have we become? I heard someone say on the Fox News Channel that 80% of Americans are against abortion. If that is true, where are they, and why do they allow their elected leaders to pass laws that destroy innocent life? Where is the light? Oh, I believe the light is there, but the light is darkness to the irreversibly blind.

They argue that abortion is a woman’s choice. I argue that her choice was made when she spread her legs! That baby, at whatever stage of development is not her body. It is no longer her choice. “IT’S A BABY!” as Mark Levin emphatically exclaimed. The baby killers respond with hypotheticals: What about a case of rape? What about a case of incest? What about the possibility of a severe birth defect? What if the mother’s life is in danger? All of those hypotheticals amount to an insignificant percentage of the cases presented for abortion. Furthermore, there are documented cases where doctors predicted poor outcomes if a pregnancy were carried to term, and the baby arrived with no trouble. Tim Tebow exemplifies such a case.

The bottom line is that abortion is a choice to kill an innocent human being. One may try and put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Abortion is murder, even in the earliest stages of development.[3] Any biologist will acknowledge that once that single sperm cell fuses with the ovum, the resultant cell, the zygote, is 100% human. From that point on, that baby growing inside that woman is a human being separate, and apart from her body. She is now the incubator for that new life. If she did not want that baby in there, her choice was not to allow sperm to fertilize her egg in the first place. Dr. Randy Guliuzza writes a great article describing in detail what takes place during human gestation and how the baby is actually in control of the process (see Note 3 below). Even then, it is not the mother’s choice. The choice to abort a pregnancy is a choice to murder a helpless human being.

Up until now, I have not addressed the moral implications of abortion. One would think that the immorality of it should be a matter of common sense but apparently not. The immorality of abortion is the “light” which the irreversibly blind cannot see. From where does that life come? Who selects that one particular ovum to join with one particular sperm cell out of millions to form a new life? The Bible instructs us that God is the giver of life. He alone orchestrates the conception and development of that child in the womb. “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3). God tells us in His Word that even before we are born, He knows us[4] and all during the development process, He “knits” our body together.[5] To echo Mark Levin, “It’s God’s choice!” The baby in the womb is not the woman’s choice.[6] She made her choice when she got pregnant!

Some will complain that I should be more compassionate toward the troubled mothers. And who will show compassion for that innocent baby in the womb that cannot defend itself? The truth is ugly, but it is the truth. A baby in the womb is not a choice. It’s a baby – a little human being. Abortion is the taking of human life. Abortion is murder.

Notes:


[1]  Mark Levin Audio Rewind – 1/30/19: http://www.marklevinshow.com/audio-rewind/

[2]  “Infanticide” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/07/07/infanticide/

[3]  Randy J. Guliuzza, P.E., M.D., “Made In His Image: Human Gestation

[4]  Jeremiah 1:5

[5]  Psalm 139:15-16

[6]  “Chosen From The Womb” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/11/19/chosen-from-the-womb/

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