Category Archives: Apologetics

Can’t Vote Democrat!

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase. (Proverbs 28:28)

The presidential elections are upon us again, and my choices are quite simple. I remember a time in my life, at least 40 years ago when I voted for the first time, that one could vote for an individual regardless of party affiliation. One could examine each candidate and vote for the one that most agreed with one’s views, and one could be pretty sure that he/she would legislate according to the interest of their constituents.

Differences between Republican and Democrat have existed since the founding of our nation, but those differences could be laid aside when legislating laws that affected the American people. There was a time when “reaching across the aisle” meant that differing views could be debated, and a workable solution acceptable to both sides could be achieved. That day is long gone.

Today, one party still maintains the ideal of individualism that allows members to cross party lines in legislative matters. Some of those consistently cross party lines and are affectionately (or maybe not so affectionately) called RINOs – Republicans In Name Only. The other side has no DINOs – Democrats In Name Only. They all vote the Democrat party line as a block. They remind me of “The BORG.”[1] Their idea of “reaching across the aisle” means that Republicans must capitulate to their side – “We are the BORG. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctive to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”[2]

Democrats march in lockstep. They all vote as one block. It is extremely rare these days for a Democratic legislator to vote contrary to the party line. Such defections result in disciplinary action against the offender in one form or another.

There is strength in unity, but unity in unrighteousness destroys the nation. I would gladly vote for a Democrat if I could trust him/her to vote in a manner consistent with biblical values. (One does not necessarily have to be a Christian to hold biblical values.)

I spent several hours recently reading through the Democrat Party Platform – all 91 pages of it. Here is some of what I learned. First of all, the Democrats voted in 2008 to eliminate God from the party platform. In the entire platform, they mention God once and only as part of a hyphenated word. “Democrats remain committed to ending poverty and enabling all Americans to live up to their God-given potential” (p. 23 of the platform). That could be any god, not necessarily the God of the Bible. The Bible says that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). How can Democrats rule with understanding if they have no “fear of the LORD”? After this, the platform loses substance.

Democrats support abortion at any point in pregnancy – many even support infanticide within a few minutes after the birth of a child. They camouflage their callous disregard of human life under the pretext of “women’s reproductive health rights” – a misnomer if I ever heard one. What is “reproductive” about ending the life of a baby? They say, “Like the majority of Americans (emphasis mine), Democrats believe every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care (emphasis mine) services, including safe and legal abortion (emphasis mine). We oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to women’s reproductive health and rights (emphasis mine), including by repealing the Hyde Amendment and protecting and codifying the right to reproductive freedom” (p. 41). Since the party is fundamentally atheist, the sanctity of human life means nothing because they reject the Creator of life. Without a Holy God superintending His Creation, nothing is sacred. For that reason, I cannot vote for a Democrat.

The Democrat Party is morally bankrupt. The party promotes LGBTQ+ Rights as if the laws protecting all Americans are insufficient for the sexually deviant community. God considers sexual perversion an abomination,[3] but since the Democrat Party rejects God, it has no problem supporting and even encouraging sexual deviancy. The Party goes so far as to support the raising of children in a sexually deviant environment. “We will work to ensure LGBTQ+ people are not discriminated against when seeking to adopt or foster children” (p.42).  For that reason, I cannot vote for a Democrat.

The Party claims to support religious freedom unless they determine that religion discriminates against select groups like LGBTQ+ or “women’s reproductive health rights.” They say, “Religious freedom is a core American value and a core value of the Democratic Party. Democrats will protect the rights of each American for the free exercise of his or her own religion … Democrats celebrate America’s history of religious pluralism and tolerance, and recognize the countless acts of service of our faith communities, as well as the paramount importance of maintaining the separation between church and state enshrined in our Constitution (emphasis mine) … We will reject the Trump Administration’s[4] use of broad religious exemptions to allow businesses, medical providers, social service agencies, and others to discriminate. (p. 48). In other words, religious freedom is permissible as long as it goes along with on-demand abortion for any reason and the LGBTQ+ culture or anything else the party supports that violate religious tenets. In the same paragraph they threaten, “We will confront white nationalist terrorism and combat hate crimes perpetrated against religious minorities” (emphasis mine) I am not sure what they mean by that, but it does not sound good! For that reason, I cannot vote for a Democrat.

The Democrat Party Platform is racist. Almost every platform page contained statements about how black lives matter (they do, but so do all lives), and about government efforts to better the lives of an assortment of ethnic groups in various ways. The fact that “race” dominates so much of the narrative gives evidence to the party’s racist perspective. Race should not even be part of the conversation. The platform should apply to all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity. To selectively point to different “races” for special treatment is racist. For that reason, I cannot vote for a Democrat.

The Democrat Party Platform offers many big ideas for government to benefit the American people (mostly “minorities”) without thought of the cost or who will pay for the government’s benevolence. They also speak a lot about climate change and how the United States, the cleanest, the least polluting country in the world, is obligated to lead the world in cleaning up the environment and controlling climate. The Democrat Party favors a global system of world government. They do not say that in so many words, but it is hidden between the lines throughout the platform. For that reason, I cannot vote for a Democrat.

Every Democrat running for office, regardless of what they say in their campaign ads, will have to conform to the Party Platform once they are in office. I cannot understand why any Christian would vote for any Democrat running for any office knowing that they are obligated to tow the party line. They must assimilate to the BORG; resistance is futile! For that reason, I cannot vote for a Democrat.

I admit, not all Republicans are saints, but at least they maintain a semblance of individuality so that they often vote contrary to their own party. Not Democrats, they vote a straight party line, and that party line violates Christian principles in multiple ways.

I have heard so many Christians say they cannot vote for Donald Trump because they do not like his personality.  Personally, I do not care for his personality either, at least not what I see in the media. However, I do not know him personally, and neither do many of his critics. Many who have met him in person say he is very personable and even likeable.

So, disregard his media persona and consider what he has done for the national economy; he cut taxes for all Americans. He cut taxes and regulations for small and large businesses resulting in higher employment for all Americans – unemployment is rate down to 3.5%.[5] Consider what he has done to advance religious liberty, much to the chagrin of the Democrats. Consider how he has strengthened our alliance with Israel – the “apple of God’s eye.” Consider how he has advanced American interests around the world. He has either placed or reinforced sanctions on our nation’s enemies, Iran, China, North Korea, Russia, etc. Consider that he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which punishes the U.S. and makes allowances to world polluters, again, to the chagrin of the Democrat Party. Consider how he is making other NATO nations pay their fair share for their own defense. Consider how he has cut funding to the United Nations. Then consider the Democrat’s desire to negate Trump’s advancements according to the 2020 Democrat Party Platform. I simply cannot vote for a Democrat to any office, but especially not to the presidency of the United States. It would be the most unchristian thing I could do in carrying out my civic duty.

One final thought, God is in control. He rules and reigns in the affairs of men. In the meantime, He expects His children to do what is right according to the principles He has laid out in His Word. The Democrat Party violates the Word of God in so many ways. For that reason, I cannot vote for a Democrat, and I cannot see how anyone claiming to be a Christian can vote for a Democrat. It makes no sense to me. Vote, but please sincerely pray about it before making your choice. Oh, and not voting means a vote for the Democrats; do not neglect your civic duty.

Notes:


[1]  “The Borg” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/11/11/the-borg/

[2]  Quote from “Star Trek – The Next Generation” – https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=resistance%20is%20futile

[3]  Leviticus 18:22-23, 27; Romans 1:26-27, 32; 1 Corinthians 6:9

[4]  The 2020 Democrat Party Platform brings up many unsubstantiated charges against the Trump Administration. They make claims without any sources to verify the claims. You must believe what they say because they are the BORG and resistance (or critical thinking) is futile!

[5]  Since the COVID-19 lockdowns, unemployment rates have risen once again but that can hardly be blamed on President Trump. He did not cause the pandemic and lockdowns were put in place by individual states under the advisement of the CDC, not Donald Trump.

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Jesus And The Fig Tree

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: (Matthew 24:32)

During Jesus’ last week of His earthly ministry before His crucifixion and shortly after His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Matthew and Mark record a strange incident when Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had no fruit and immediately, the tree withered.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday. He went directly to the Temple cast out the money changers and those who sold animals for the upcoming Passover sacrifice.[1] To us Gentiles, it seems strange that it offended Jesus that these men were turning the Holy Temple into a marketplace. However, as Jesus drove out the merchants, He exclaimed, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11:17).

A long-held Jewish tradition during Passover is to get all the leaven out of the house before the Passover celebration. Leaven represents sin, and it must be removed from the house. The Temple was Jesus’ house, and He was cleansing it from the sin within in preparation for the coming Passover.

At this point, I need to mention an apparent contradiction between Mark’s account of the Temple cleansing and that of both Matthew and Luke. Both Matthew and Luke record that the cleansing took place on the same day as the Triumphal Entry – Palm Sunday.[2] However, Mark indicates that the cleansing took place on the following day (Monday). Mark records that on Palm Sunday, “Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow [Monday], when they were come from BethanyAnd they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple” (Mark 11:11-12, 15, emphasis mine). So, did Jesus cleanse the Temple on Palm Sunday or on the following day? Great biblical minds have no clue! I am not one who finds contradictions in the Bible because “God is not the author of confusion.”[3] Two Gospel writers say the cleansing took place on Sunday, and one (Mark, who was not an eyewitness) says it was on Monday. I believe all three accounts are correct. It is possible that there were two cleansings, one on Sunday and one on Monday. I will leave it at that for now.

Only Matthew and Mark record the incident with Jesus cursing the fig tree, and both agree that it happened on Monday morning as Jesus returned to Jerusalem from Bethany where He was probably staying in the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.[4] What happened next seems rather strange. Jesus spotted a fig tree along the way and being hungry, He went to see if it had any figs.[5] Mark remarks that “the time of figs was not yet” (Mark 11:13). Finding no figs on the tree, Jesus cursed the tree, and it soon “dried up from the roots” (Mark 11:20).

It seems strange that Jesus, the Creator,[6] would not know that it was not the time for figs, So, why would He expect to find figs on the tree? Some commentators suggest that the tree should have had some unripe fruit on it that could be eaten.

“Toward the end of March the leaves begin to appear, and in about a week the foliage coating is complete. Coincident with [this], and sometimes even before, there appears quite a crop of small knobs, not the real figs, but a kind of early forerunner. They grow to the size of green almonds, in which condition they are eaten by peasants and others when hungry.”[7]

That makes some sense. Both Matthew and Mark remark that Jesus found nothing but leaves on the tree. There were not even “knobs” to eat on the tree. But was that sufficient cause for Jesus to curse the tree? The same commentators quoted above, suggested that Jesus used this incident as an object lesson to emphasize Luke’s parable about the fig tree that bore no fruit.[8] However, neither Matthew nor Mark includes that parable in their Gospels, and Luke omits the cursing of the fig tree, so their argument does not seem to be very strong.

Jesus, the Creator, knew it was too early for figs, and He knew He would not find figs on the tree. So the cursing of the tree had another purpose. Jesus never did anything without a purpose.

Later in the week as Jesus sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, they asked Him for signs of the last days and the end of the world. The detailed description of the last days, known as the “Olivet Discourse,” is found in all three Synoptic Gospels.[9] “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, Jesus said the times would be discernible, and He used the fig tree to illustrate. “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” (Matthew 24:32-34, emphasis mine).

The fig tree represents the nation of Israel. Several passages in the Old Testament make this association. God says, “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time …” (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine). “He [the king of Babylon] hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white” (Joel 1:7, emphasis mine). God also refers to Israel as His (grape) “vine.” Concerning Israel’s restoration, Scripture says, “Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people … Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength” (Joel 2:18, 22, emphasis mine).

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree gives the signal for the beginning of the end-time events. Israel, the fig tree, budded on May 14, 1948, signaling that “summer” is near. Jesus said that “this generation,” the one that sees the fig tree bud, will not pass until all these signs are accomplished. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

So, why did Jesus curse the fig tree? God chose Israel to be a “priest nation” to all the nations of the world, beginning with Abraham; “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, emphasis mine). To Israel, God says, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation …” (Exodus 19:6). It was Israel’s task to reveal God to the nations of the world. Instead, Israel followed in the idolatrous steps of the surrounding nations. Israel, the fig tree, did not produce the fruit God expected. Jesus’ object lesson in cursing the fig tree demonstrated that God would no longer use Israel to bless the nations and to be the priest nation to the world. Instead, He assigned that task to other “husbandmen.”[10] To these new husbandmen, i.e., the Church, Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, emphasis mine).

So, the fig tree withered and can no longer produce fruit. Instead, Jesus assigned the task of bringing God to the world to the Church. As for the fig tree, “they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24, emphasis mine).

That time is near. It started when the fig tree budded in 1948. The fig tree has yet to produce any fruit, but that is because the Church is still yielding fruit, albeit at a waning rate. Soon, the Church will be plucked up, and God’s fig tree will have another opportunity to yield its fruit. “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:4, emphasis mine). During the Tribulation, the 144,000 Israeli evangelists will carry the Gospel to all the world and produce much “fruit” for the Lord. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis mine).

In the end, the fig tree will produce the fruit for which it was created. However, it must be understood that not every individual Israeli will be saved. Their salvation does not come from their nationality (Israel) or their religion (Judaism). Just as with every other person, salvation comes only through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The 144,000 remnant of Israel that carry the Gospel to all the world will be saved by the same message that “whosoever believeth in him [Jesus] should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Those that hear and believe the message of the 144,000 will be saved the same way.

Reader, if you do not know Jesus, now is a great time to get acquainted. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and get that settled today.

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46

[2]  Matthew 21:8-13; Luke 19:35-46

[3]  1 Corinthians 14:33

[4]  John 11:2

[5]  Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-13

[6]  John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11

[7] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, Manfred T. Brauch, Hard Saying of the Bible, (InterVarity Press Academic, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1996), p. 442, quoting W.M. Christie, “The Barren Fig Tree.”

[8]  Luke 13:6-9

[9]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

[10]  Matthew 21:33-41

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Jesus And Genesis

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. (Mark 10:6)

If one wants to criticize and discount the Bible, there is no better place to start than at the beginning with Genesis. Those who reject God find it easier to believe the absurdity that nothing expanded and resulted in everything. They claim to believe the “science.” However, scientific proof requires the implementation of the “scientific method.” As an elementary school teacher just 12 years ago, we still taught the “scientific method” which included observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and falsification. God deniers profess science without employing the scientific method to support their hypothesis. No one observed the Big Bang. No one can experiment to reproduce the Big Bang. (It would be scary if they could!) And no one can falsify the Big Bang, yet they claim to be “scientific.”

The same can said for Creation. Creation cannot be proven by the scientific method. It was a unique, miraculous, one-time event. Creation differs from the Big Bang in that it started with Someone; it did not come from nothing – “In the beginning, God”[1] and God recorded His work in the first chapter of the Book of Beginnings – Genesis. The thinking person (not the God denier – they do not think) only needs to consider the creation account for what it says, recognizing the implied characteristics of the omnipotent Creator’s ability to do what He said He did and compare that to the order out of chaos suggested by the Big Bang proponents. Because of the vast complexity of the universe and life on earth, logic supports creation by an intelligent Creator over life by luck. Of course, some God deniers reject the Big Bang for that very reason and opt to believe that life on earth was “seeded” by extraterrestrials from other worlds, but that raises another question. How did the extraterrestrials originate? That question cannot be answered.

God deniers will not be convinced with logic. They reject God by choice. I am more surprised by those who say they believe the Bible but reject the Genesis account. They have been taught that the Big Bang is a fact and that life on earth arose through the process of evolution. In order to keep their faith in God intact, they rationalize that God somehow used the Big Bang and evolution to create. That makes sense. God can do anything He wants to do and use whatever means He chooses to do it. He is God! However, in reading the straightforward creation account in Genesis 1, one cannot find the logical steps of evolution. God created the universe by His spoken word, not with a bang.[2] He created plant life[3] before He created the sun. He created the sun and moon before creating the rest of the stars as sort of an afterthought.[4] He created marine and avian life before creating the dinosaurs (land creatures). Secular scientists claim that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but Genesis says that birds came first. Furthermore, the Genesis account of creation records that each day of creation was a 24-hour day;[5] that amount of time does not allow for evolution to take place.

Some overly educated theologians dismiss the Genesis account of creation as poetry or allegory. Somehow in all of their education, they miss the fact that Hebrew poetry is distinct by its use of parallelism. There is none of that in the Genesis account. Any Hebrew language novice understands that the first three chapters in Genesis, which take the brunt of the criticism, are written in narrative form like any other historical portion of Scripture. Genesis is not poetry. It presents a factual account, or at least it is factual to the author.

Jesus, who the New Testament credits as Creator[6], affirmed the validity of Genesis. When the Pharisees challenged Him on the question of divorce, Jesus referred them back to Genesis. “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6, emphasis mine). The making of the first human pair is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine). For the sake of this confused world today, it should be noted that God made one pair of opposite, yet complementary sexes. They were not androgynous with the option to choose their sex. God did not create two males to mate with each other or two females to cohabitate. God designed the sexes for reproduction. Two males cannot reproduce, nor can two females reproduce. The union is not about “feeling” but about “function.” Male and female “fit” together. The way God designed it works. The way modern man has perverted it often ends in tragedy.

Genesis records that Adam’s first son was Cain and the second was Abel. Cain murdered Abel in a fit of jealous rage,[7] and Jesus referred to that as a factual account. As Jesus excoriated the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, He said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:33-35, emphasis mine). Jesus again affirmed the veracity of Genesis in citing Abel as a real person. As an aside, I find it interesting that Jesus takes credit for sending the prophets – “I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes.” That is what God does. Therefore, Jesus claims to be God.

The Global Flood account in Genesis 6-9 is also a major point of contention with Bible critics, even those claiming to be Christian. However, Jesus vouched for its authenticity. In speaking on the last days, Jesus said, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39, emphasis mine). So, to those who claim to be Christian yet reject Genesis, do you reject Jesus’ words as well? If you doubt the first eleven chapters of Genesis, how can you believe the words of Jesus? He spoke of the Genesis account as fact.

Jesus created[8] man in His image[9] knowing the kind of body He would one day inhabit.[10] Jesus accepted Abel’s sacrifice[11] over that of Cain’s, and when Cain murdered Abel, He demonstrated mercy toward Cain by setting a mark on him to spare his life.[12] God had Noah build an ark with only one entrance. The Ark was large enough to accommodate thousands of more people than Noah and his family, but only those eight that believed God and entered through the only door were saved from the Flood. Jesus is our Ark of salvation. He said, “I AM the door.”[13] He is the only entrance to eternal life; there is no other way. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine).

I understand God deniers rejecting the Genesis account of creation. They are lost and hell-bound. But there is no excuse for Christians rejecting the Genesis account if indeed they believe Jesus’ words.

Reader, if you are questioning the veracity of Scripture, particularly where it comes to creation, perhaps the first thing you need to consider your eternal standing before God. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 1:1

[2]  Genesis 1:1-5

[3]  Genesis 1:11-12

[4]  Genesis 1:14-16

[5]  “A Day Is A Day” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/25/a-day-is-a-day/

[6]  John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17; Revelation 4:11

[7]  Genesis 4:1-8

[8]  John 1:1-3

[9]  Genesis 1:26-27

[10]  John 1:14; Philippians 2:7-8

[11]  Genesis 4:4

[12]  Genesis 4:15

[13]  John 10:9

 

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Trumpets

… for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  (1 Corinthians 15:52)

This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 19-20, 2020, celebrates Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Jewish civil year 5781. Rosh Hashanah is the fifth of the seven Feasts of the Lord prescribed in Leviticus 23, and is also known as the Feast of Trumpets for the sounding of trumpets proclaiming the new year. Feast of Trumpets is also known as the “feast where no man knows the day or the hour.”

The Feasts of the Lord are based on a lunar calendar, and the official declaration of the new year depends on the first sighting of the new moon. Since that cannot be determined precisely, Rosh Hashanah is observed over two days to ensure the sighting of the new moon for the sounding of the trumpets. Hence, no one knows the day or the hour.

Trumpets appear throughout Scripture. The first occurrence of a trumpet in the Bible comes after the exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. God brought the Children of Israel to Mount Sinai where He introduced Himself to them in person.[1] God instructed Moses that He would appear in the form of a cloud around the mountain and that no one could come near the mountain under penalty of death. “There shall not an hand touch it [the mountain], but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount” (Exodus 19:13, emphasis mine). The sounding of the trumpet summoned the people to come up to the mountain unto the presence of the Lord. “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16, emphasis mine). So Moses brought the people to the smoke-covered mountain before the Lord “And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice” (Exodus 19:19, emphasis mine). Following this, God gave the Ten Commandments to the people, and they all heard the commandments of God directly from God.[2] “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:18-19, emphasis mine). From then on, God spoke to the people through His prophets, beginning with Moses.

Trumpets call the people to solemn assemblies. “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:23-24, emphasis mine) . “Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps” (Numbers 10:2, emphasis mine). I could give more examples, but basically, the function of a trumpet serves to alert people to an event and to call for a gathering or assembly.

In the New Testament, Jesus refers to a trumpet in the negative sense of calling attention to yourself when performing acts of benevolence. “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew 6:2, emphasis mine).

The second occurrence appears in the Olivet Discourse when Jesus teaches His disciples about end-time events. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days … shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven … And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31, emphasis mine).  The “tribulation of those days” to which Jesus referred is the 70th “week” of the Prophet Daniel’s prophecy.[3] Jesus called it a time of “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21, emphasis mine)” At that time God will send His angels to gather His elect, i.e., Israel, from all over the world. These are NOT Christians, and I will explain that later on.

In the next reference to a trumpet, Paul points out the importance of a trumpet giving a distinct sound. “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8, emphasis mine). He stresses the importance of giving a clear gospel message so that the hearer is not confused. Later he talks about the last days when “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52, emphasis mine). Here he refers to the “dead in Christ” and “we” are the Christians who are alive when the trumpet sounds.

Most biblical scholars believe that Paul’s letters to the Church in Thessaloniki were his first “epistles.” To the Thessalonians he writes, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [“precede”] them which are asleep [dead]. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, emphasis mine).  For those who claim that “rapture” in not taught in the Bible, the word translated “caught up” is the Greek ἁρπάζω (harpazō) which means to seize; catch away, catch up, pluck, pull, or take by force. The Latin Vulgate translates harpazō as “raptus” from which we get the word “rapture.”

The Beloved Apostle John saw the risen Lord while “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s Day (Sunday).[4] After Jesus finished dictating seven letters to seven churches,[5] John records, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1, emphasis mine). After this point, the Church is no longer mentioned in Revelation until Chapter 19 when she is described as “The Bride” at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and she returns with Jesus to end the Great Tribulation and initiate the 1000-year reign of Christ. This is the trumpet Jesus described in Matthew 24:29-31 above. For this reason, and I am convinced, many end-times teachers believe the church will be taken up before the seven-year Tribulation begins and will not experience the horrors of those times.

Because of the significance of trumpets throughout Scripture and especially in end-time prophecy, many have looked at the Feast of Trumpets as reasonable time for that to take place. Of course, many rear up and point out that Jesus said that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36). That is true. Jesus’ coming is imminent;[6] it could happen at any minute. By studying the events recorded in Revelation and reckoning the division of the seven years, anyone living at that time, if they are paying attention, can determine when Jesus will return to earth. It is a set time – seven years. Once Antichrist affirms a treaty with Israel,[7] it is just a matter of counting the days – 2520. It is not rocket science.

However, the Rapture of the Church has no signs. We cannot guess what year it will take place, but we see the stage being set for the seven-year Tribulation, and Antichrist has not made his appearance, so we know the time is close.

So why single out Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, for the Rapture taking place? We can take a hint from Jesus who said that no man knows the day or the hour. The Feast of Trumpets is the feast that no man knows the day or the hour, so that has some association. Then, there is the idea that Jesus fulfilled the first four of the Feasts of the Lord: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. Pentecost was fulfilled when He sent the Holy Spirit to empower the Church.[8] He has yet to fulfill the last three feasts: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles). The next feast on the Calendar is Rosh Hashanah. So, it makes sense that the Rapture may take place on Rosh Hashanah because the sounding of the trumpet is the calling of the congregation together.

If not this year then perhaps it could happen next year, or the next. However, His coming is imminent – any minute! It doesn’t have to happen at Rosh Hashanah. So, we must always be ready. Jesus said, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).

If you read this and hear of millions of disappearances all over the world, you should know what happened. If not, thank God that He has given you more time, but don’t delay. He could come at any minute – imminent! If you do not know Jesus, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Exodus 19

[2]  Exodus 20

[3]  Daniel 9:24-27

[4]  Revelation 1:10

[5]  Revelation 2-3

[6]  “Imminent” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/01/12/imminent/

[7]  Daniel 9:27

[8]  “Tongues of Fire” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/09/13/tongues-of-fire/

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Tongues Of Fire

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  (Acts 2:3)

My youngest brother, Eli (there are three of us of which I am the oldest), enjoys Bible study as much as, if not more than, I do. He has a gift of looking deeper into Scripture than your average Bible reader, and he is always eager to share his insights with me. It makes for wonderful and enlightening conversations.

Recently Eli shared his thoughts on Pentecost and the “coming” of the Holy Spirit. Conventional thought maintains that the Holy Spirit did not descend upon the disciples until the Day of Pentecost when 120 of them were gathered in the Upper Room as instructed by the Lord Jesus. “And, being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5, emphasis mine).

This “promise of the Father,” most agree, is the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost in the KJV) which Jesus promised would come after He was gone.[1] “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7, emphasis mine). Luke, who also authored the Book of Acts, wrote more about the Holy Spirit in his Gospel (and Acts) than the other Gospel writers, including John. He records these words of Jesus before His ascension. “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, emphasis mine). Both Luke and John indicate that the coming of the Holy Spirit would come at a later time, and Luke’s account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 seems to confirm Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit coming at a later time – ten days after His ascension.

However, John seems to throw a wrench into conventional thinking, as Eli points out. After His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples, not just “the twelve,” on several occasions. In fact, Paul records that He was seen by as many as 500 at one time.[2] On the evening of His resurrection (it was Sunday evening), John records that, “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week [Sunday], when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19, emphasis mine). They were startled as one might imagine, and Jesus proved His identity by showing His wounds.[3] Then at this point, His ascension is still 39 days away, Jesus gives His Great Commission for the first time.[4] “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:21-22, emphasis mine).

Well, that raises the question. When did the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, on the Resurrection Sunday, or at Pentecost? Something so dramatic definitely happened at Pentecost that Luke records that 3000 souls were saved![5] Contrary to Luke, John records the giving of the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost in spite of his own record that the “Comforter” would not come until after Jesus was gone. It is very difficult to build a case on just one verse (John 20:22) when so many other verses seem to contradict, and Scripture never contradicts itself, even when we do not understand it clearly. “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). So what is the answer?

Eli suggests that the miraculous event at Pentecost was a “manifestation” of the “power” of the Holy Spirit. Take our own experience for example. We come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit on our spirit to convince us of the truth of God’s Word, convict us of our sin, and convey our need for the Savior.[6] When that takes place and we trust in Jesus for our salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives and instantly the “light comes on,” and we know that the transaction took place. For most of us, that moment comes quietly and without a lot of fanfare – certainly nothing like what happened at Pentecost. We do not immediately start speaking foreign languages previously unknown to us or performing miracles. We do not suddenly possess a deeper understanding of Scripture. That comes along through study and prayer, but it is the Holy Spirit within us that guides us into greater understanding. That comes with time and with the degree to which we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

My point is that receiving the Holy Spirit is generally not some kind of dramatic experience. That often disappoints some who are expecting some sort of “rush” from the experience. That expectation often causes them to doubt that their salvation experience really “took.” Trust me. If you “believe,” it took.

So, when Jesus breathed on the disciples that evening in the Upper Room, nothing out of the ordinary took place, yet John records that they received the Holy Spirit. So what was it that took place at Pentecost?

Eli makes a distinction between receiving the Holy Spirit, which happens when we believe, and being “empowered” by the Holy Spirit to perform acts of which we were heretofore incapable, like speaking in languages we had not previously learned, or performing miracles of healing or raising of the dead – all of which the disciples did in the early church.

(At this point it is incumbent on me to stress that the “powers” granted by the Holy Spirit in the early church were for the purpose of giving evidence to the truth of the Gospel and for the purpose of edifying – building up – the church. It was not for the purpose of the personal aggrandizement of the individual.

All of these “gifts” still exist today, but they are always for the purpose of spreading the Gospel, and they are given only as the Holy Spirit determines, not the individual. There is not much need of that here in America because we all speak the same language, we have ready access to God’s Word – the Bible is freely available to everyone – and the Word of God is clearly preached on radio, TV, and the internet. If anything, we have such a glut of the Gospel that many just turn a deaf ear to it.

There is no excuse for anyone here in America not to respond to the Gospel. That was not the case at Pentecost. Jesus had just risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. Most people were unaware of that fact and the Gospel was brand new. In addition, at Pentecost, visitors came to Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire. The Gospel message needed a special “kick-start” from the Holy Spirit!

By the way, all born-again believers are endowed with certain gifts of the Holy Spirit that are not as sensational as performing miracles or speaking in previously unknown languages.[7] The ability to understand Spiritual truths being, I think, the most useful. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14, emphasis)).

So, as Eli points out, the disciples were already indwelt by the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them (John 20:22), but what they received at Pentecost was “power from on high.”[8] This was a special “unction” – an “anointing” by the Holy Spirit. Luke records Jesus saying, “For John [the Baptist] truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5, emphasis mine). That word “baptized” is the Greek word βαπτίζω (baptizō) which means “to make whelmed;” “to submerge; engulf; overcome utterly;” “to immerse, to overwhelm.”

Again, this event was yet future which goes back to Jesus saying that “the comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).  Could it be that Jesus referred to His departure at the cross when He died? Jesus also said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17, emphasis mine). So, according to Jesus, the disciples (the twelve at this instance) were already indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This was before the crucifixion, before His resurrection, before His ascension, and before Pentecost. This further indicates that the event at Pentecost was a special manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power for the purpose of “kick-starting” the Church, and not necessarily the first time the Holy Spirit came to reside in believers.

The Old Testament records many examples of the Holy Spirit empowering individuals to do God’s work. David experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and prays, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11, emphasis mine). David’s request further emphasizes the temporary nature of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling individuals in the Old Testament. That changed with Jesus’ advent.

Eli then draws a parallel to the creation account in Genesis when God created Adam – Man. In Genesis 2:7 we read that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (emphasis mine). That “breath” was God’s Spirit distinct from the nephesh of the other creatures God created from the dust of the ground.[9] That “breath,” to a certain extent, was lost at the Fall[10] so that man died spiritually.[11] Jesus restores that life once more when He once again breathes out the breath of life into His disciples, “and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22, emphasis mine).

Another interesting insight Eli has concerns the appearance of the “cloven tongues like as of fire” that appeared over the heads of the disciples at Pentecost.[12] The description, first of all, is a simile – “like as of fire,” not actually fire. That they were “tongues” denotes the shape, and “cloven” indicates that they were divided either as a flame sometimes splits, or as candle-like flames distributed among the 120 present. Eli harkens back to the Tabernacle in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. God manifested His presence with the Children of Israel by way of a column/pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night over the Tabernacle. Today, God dwells within His children, born-again believers, by way of the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that ye are the temple [i.e. “tabernacle”] of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis mine). So, like the pillar of fire over the tabernacle in the wilderness, the “tongues of fire” over the heads of the disciples signified the new dwelling place of God within the lives of believers. I found that to be pretty insightful! I really enjoy plunging the wonderful depths of God’s Word with my little brother, Eli!

If you are reading this, and it makes little or no sense, it could be that the Spirit of God does not reside in you, so that it is all foolishness to you. That will change when you trust in Jesus and receive His Spirit who will help your understanding. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:1-16

[2]  1 Corinthians 15:6

[3]  John 20:20

[4]  I say the “first time” because Matthew 28:18-20, and Acts 1:8 record the Great Commission given immediately before Jesus’ ascension which was 40 days following His resurrection. John has Jesus giving His Great Commission on the same day (at evening) of His resurrection. Is this a contradiction? I do not think so. During His 40 days, I feel certain He reminded them often of what He expected of them and the final reminder was at His ascension.

[5]  Acts 2:41

[6]  John 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:8, 13

[7]  1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Galatians 5:22-23 (“fruits” of the Spirit)

[8]  Luke 24:49

[9]  Genesis 1:24-25

[10]  Genesis 3

[11]  Romans 5:15,17

[12]  Acts 2:3

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