Category Archives: Christianity

Pressed Three Times

First-century olive press in Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (Matthew 26:36)

We recently returned from our first “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land. If I never check off another item on my “bucket list,” this is enough. To walk in the land where God stamped His name defies description, so I will not even try. God assumed human form and traversed this land from Jerusalem to the Galilee; we also set foot on many of the same places.

On one of those stops, we visited the ruins of the city of Capernaum. Jesus made this city His “headquarters” as He ministered around the Sea of Galilee. Peter made his home here as did Andrew, his brother, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Here He called Levi (Matthew) away from the customs table to follow Him (Mark 2:1, 14). Capernaum was the site of many of Jesus’ miracles, yet the people did not believe (John 6:26-29); therefore Jesus cursed the city (Matthew 11:23-24). The city came to ruin from an earthquake the leveled it in 749 A.D.

In 1838, American explorer Edward Robinson discovered the ruins of ancient Capernaum,[1] and excavations at the site continue to the present. One of the more interesting finds uncovered at the site is an ancient olive press dating back to the first century. This olive press would have been used in Capernaum when Jesus lived there.

Olives growing on an olive tree on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel

Olives, besides being good to eat, produce oil useful for many purposes. Extracting the oil from the olives required three pressings.[2] The first pressing extracted the purest “virgin” olive oil used for lighting the menorah and other lamps in the Temple. It was also for ceremonial anointing of special servants of God such as priests (Exodus 28:41; 29:4-7), kings (1 Samuel 15:1; 16:12-13), and also for the implements used in the Temple (Exodus 40:9). After extracting the virgin olive oil, the crushed olives were placed into burlap sacks, which were placed in the mortar table for a second pressing. A heavy weight was then added to the pestle wheel. The second pressing produced less pure oil suitable for common use such as cooking, medicine, and fuel for lamps. More weight was then added to the wheel for the third and final pressing, which extracted lye for making soap. At this point, the olives had nothing left to give.

In Jerusalem to the east of the Temple, across the Kidron Valley, rises a hill that has large olive groves aptly named the Mount of Olives or Olivet.

The Dome of the Rock stands where the Temple used to be in Jesus’ day. Across the Kidron Valley is the Mount of Olives where the Garden of Gethsemane was located.

In Jesus’ day, amongst the olive trees, there was a garden that had an olive press. The name of the garden was Gethsemane, which means oil press. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus went there to pray with His disciples. He left eight of His disciples further down the hill, but His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, He took up to the place of pressing. “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38, emphasis mine). He knew way lay ahead for Him. The physical pain and agony He knew awaited Him would make any man seek to escape, but that was not what pressed on Him. He was God in the flesh. He was sinless. Soon, the sin of all mankind would fall on Him. Soon that sin would sever His relationship with the Father. “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis mine). He returned to His closest disciples only to find them sleeping (Matthew 26:40-41). The first press was done. “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42, emphasis mine.). “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43). “And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy” (Matthew 26:43). The second press was complete. “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44, emphasis mine). “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44, emphasis mine). “Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26:45). He gave all He had to give. With the final press completed, He said, “Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:46, emphasis mine). He did not wait for His accusers to find Him. He went out to meet them!

There in the Garden of the Olive Press, He was pressed three times, and He gave His all. He gave up His anointing as King. He gave up His human body – the only suitable sacrifice for sin. He gave the last dregs of His being to cleanse us from our sins, and open the way to eternal life with Him, if we will only accept His sacrifice.

Reader, if you do not know Jesus who gave His all for you, do not delay any longer. Soon He will return, or you may otherwise meet your end. Either way, it will be too late. “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, …” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Read my page on Heaven.

Notes:


[1]  “Capernaum” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capernaum

[2]  “Oil Presses in the Holy Land” – http://www.biblewalks.com/Info/OilPresses.html

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Light of the World

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5)

Jesus, God incarnate, “came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:4-5, emphasis mine). However, Jesus “… died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, emphasis mine). Furthermore, “…he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight … [and was] taken up from you into heaven” (Acts 1:9, 11, emphasis mine). So then, what has become of  “the light of the world”?

Jesus said He was the light of the world as long as He was in the world, but He is no longer here – in the world. Does that mean the light is gone? Indeed not! Before He left this world He said, “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). Jesus’ replacement on earth is the Holy Spirit who resides in the heart of every believer. Through the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, the “light of the world” remains in the world. Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18, emphasis mine).

Therefore, although Jesus assumes His place at “the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3), His light remains “in the world” by way of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the lives of believers. Therefore, Jesus reminds us, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14); so, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Do not hide your light under a basket (Matthew 5:15) – let it shine, Let it Shine, LET IT SHINE!

The time is near when the light will be taken out of this world. Speaking of the end times and the revealing of the Antichrist Paul writes, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, emphasis mine). The One that “withholds” or “restrains” is the Holy Spirit who resides within the heart of every believer, the Church. When “his time” – i.e. the Antichrist – is up, the Holy Spirit will “be taken out of the way.” Where the Holy Spirit goes, the Church goes. The light will be removed and the world will be plunged into darkness. Until then, we, in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, are the light of the world, so we must let our light shine while we are still in the world!

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Stand For the Flag!

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:7)

I tire of all the airtime given to overpaid prima donnas who “take a knee” at the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in disrespect of the symbol of our nation – the American flag, Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes. That flag represents the nation – the republic – that affords these crybaby egotists the opportunity to earn outrageous salaries to play a game for fans that can ill afford the admission to attend the games in person. Granted, these players possess uncommon athletic talents that few of us will ever have, but the truth is that most of them have gotten a “free ride” to hone the “God-given” talents they display on the field of contest. That “privilege” comes from the fact that they were born (most of them) under the flag they now dishonor.

The flag they disrespect represents a republic, a nation of laws, which guarantees them the right to express their political views even in opposition to the very law that protects them. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America protects the right of every citizen to exercise his/her freedom of speech, the freedom to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. These impertinent showboats latch onto the First Amendment to justify their disrespect. If that is not bad enough, an abundance of left-wing ideologues sound off in their defense, like the local sports idiot for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.[1] No one denies these paid athletes the right to “peaceably assemble” and exercise their freedom of speech in protest to a perceived injustice, but their protest – their grievance – is misplaced. Rather than “petition the Government” for redress of their grievance – they show contempt for the very flag, and indirectly the majority of Americans that honor the flag, that has given them a platform from which to speak.

Just what is the egregious injustice that warrants such a shameful demonstration of ingratitude? It all started last year when the now unemployed, cop-hating quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem in protest for all the hundreds of poor young black men unjustly slain by racist police (his perception). If the charge is factual, there is certainly reason to protest, not only by black Americans but also by all Americans. Any citizen – no matter what ethnicity – unlawfully executed by one sworn to uphold the law has been denied his/her constitutional “right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury” (the Sixth Amendment). Such an offense would warrant the free expression of speech in protest (not rioting), and to “petition the Government for redress” of the grievance. If such abuse of police authority is really taking place, every freedom-loving American should be up in arms. However, is this really what is taking place? Is there really an epidemic of local police[2] singling out young black men for execution? If this is true, there should be plenty of evidence to corroborate the claim.

The truth is that cops killed almost twice as many whites as blacks in 2015. More whites and Hispanics die from police homicides than blacks. A 7 to 1 ratio of “unarmed” black men shot by police are shot in the process of resisting arrest, usually in an attempt to disarm the officer or beat the officer with the officer’s own equipment. Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely to fire a gun at blacks than are white officers. (I wonder why?) Blacks are more likely to kill cops than to be killed by cops. (The preceding statistics were obtained from The Dailywire.)[3] It is also commonly known that more blacks (in epidemic proportions) are killed by other blacks than are killed by cops of any color.

The record indicates that the protest, by these unlearned[4] prima donnas and their equally ignorant sycophants, enjoys no basis in reality. Rather than publically disrespect the flag, they should turn that activism into action by edifying (building up) those who they consider downtrodden. However, maybe that would be too much in keeping with real American values!

The Bible teaches us that we must “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” (Romans 13:7).  As citizens, we must pay our taxes (“tribute” and “custom”). We should respect and obey (“fear”) those in authority like the police. The police are there to do a job, to keep law and order. Most of them have families, and many of them are members of our churches. The majority of them took the job to “serve and protect” their community. They do not deserve to be disrespected. When they are disrespected, they are within their authority – the authority we give them – to arrest us. Too many of those poor black men that get shot by police were never taught by their parents, teachers or anyone to respect and (above all) obey the police. They were not taught to “fear” those “to whom fear” is due.

Finally, we are to give “honor to whom honor” is due. Our flag and our National Anthem are due honor. Our flag led our founders to fields of battle to gain our freedom. The red in our flag represents the many gallons of blood that birthed our nation. Many men sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to provide for us the freedoms we enjoy, even the freedom to legitimately protest perceived injustices. That flag led Union soldiers (mostly white men) into bloody battle in defense of the black man’s right to be free. Sadly, many blacks today shackle themselves to the racism of self-deprecation that deceives them into viewing themselves of less value than whites – a deception straight from the pit of hell. “So God created [all] man [kind] in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” (Acts 17:26, emphasis mine). That “one blood” is all red, the color of the stripes on our flag.

Our flag has draped many a coffin of soldiers, police officers, and firefighters that have paid the ultimate price for our freedom and our protection. Our flag is worthy of honor and respect. Give honor to whom honor is due. Stand for the flag! Our flag represents our freedom of speech to protest any perceived injustice. For that, it should be honored. Stand for the flag!

P.S. If you feel the need to kneel, kneel at the cross of Jesus where His precious blood was shed for you.

Notes:


[1]  “Sportscaster Dale Hansen’s take on the #TakeAKnee protests is an absolute must-watch” – http://mashable.com/2017/09/26/dale-hansen-unplugged-anthem-protests/#NJalYem2Liqa

[2]  “Local police” are governed by local municipalities, not the federal government, which is just one more reason why this “protest” is misplaced.

[3]  “5 Statistics You Need To Know About Cops Killing Blacks” – http://www.dailywire.com/news/7264/5-statistics-you-need-know-about-cops-killing-aaron-bandler#

[4]  They are “unlearned” because even though a majority of them hold college degrees, many of them “earned” that degree through their participation in their field of athletics rather than their achievement in academics. They certainly failed to receive any training in civics.

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Drinking

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18)

The Bible nowhere prohibits absolute abstinence from alcohol. Indeed, Solomon seems to encourage one to “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works” (Ecclesiastes 9:7). The psalmist says that God has given us all good things, “And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart” (Psalm 104:15).

So, the Bible does not prohibit the use of alcohol, however, it does discourage its abuse. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1) “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich” (Proverbs 21:17). Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:29-32). “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4-5).

However, there are practical reasons to abstain. First of all, I do not know of anyone who can honestly say they can “control” their consumption of alcohol, especially in a “social” setting. By the time they get “a buzz,” they are already too incapacitated to operate a motor vehicle. At that point, they have already lost some of their self-control. Furthermore, no one knows how alcohol will affect one, or if one has a propensity for alcoholism. Therefore, as a practical matter, it is better to abstain altogether. After all, there is no proven health benefit from drinking alcohol. On the contrary, prolonged alcohol use is deleterious to one’s health – cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, hypertension, et al.

For Christians, the primary reason for abstinence is the Christian testimony we give to our brothers and sisters in Christ and to the non-believing world around us. The Apostle Paul gives practical reasons for abstinence in Romans 14. “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” (Romans 14:21). Notice that he does not say, “don’t do it,” but rather that is better not to. To the Corinthians he writes, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.… Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:23, 32-33). In a nutshell, he says that our Christian testimony supersedes our personal interest. Furthermore, God calls us to holiness, i.e. to be set apart from the world around us. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). This requires a serious lifestyle adjustment. Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Notice that “holiness” makes the “living sacrifice” acceptable to God.

In summary, there is no absolute prohibition against alcohol consumption in the Bible; however, for the Christian, it is a matter of one’s testimony and a matter of holiness. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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Still Waiting!

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

You are reading this because Jesus did not return for His Bride at this time as many were hoping – including me. I hope those others that were hoping for the Rapture are not suffering from a severe case of depression. I am disappointed, but I have been disappointed in past years, as I have written. However, my faith is not shaken. Jesus promised to return, and He will return when He is ready and when He says it’s time.

Although we may feel disappointed, we should not be discouraged or disheartened. We should be thankful that the Lord has given us more time to lead others to Christ. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). So, “… sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).  Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). That means that we still have a lot of work to do.

I hoped Jesus would come during this Feast of Trumpets, but I did not cancel or fail to prepare for the Bible classes that I teach, or for the speaking engagements I have scheduled. I have not stopped my writing or canceled our planned trip to Israel in October. I did not alter my life in any way, other than to hope for His appearing. So, as in the past, I shall “occupy” in His work until He comes as He commanded. He still may come at any moment. His imminent return will not surprise anyone who is watching for it. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come … Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42, 44, emphasis mine). It still could be today! Meanwhile, until then there is much work to be done. Do not let the Lord find you sleeping when He does return!

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Now’s A Good Time!

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. (Luke 12:40)

This may be my final post (I hope[1]), if the “stargazers” are correct about the Revelation 12 sign.[2], [3], [4] The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShannah[5]) begins this week on September 20, 2017. However, since “ye know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13) for the new moon to appear over Jerusalem, the first blast of the trumpet could take place anytime between 6:00 PM September 20 to 6:00 PM September 22.

Every year around this time for the past 20 years or so, I start looking toward the eastern sky listening for that voice “as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1). God gave to the children of Israel (and indirectly to us) seven “feasts,”[6] or more precisely, “appointments,” they were to keep without fail. God told Moses. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Leviticus 23:2, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “feast” is mô‛êd (mô‛êdim – plural), and it means “an appointment,” or “a season.” We see this word first used in Genesis 1:14 when God created the celestial bodies and proclaimed that they were to be “for signs, and for seasons.” The Hebrew word for “signs” is ‘ôth and it means “a signal” or “an omen.” So, the stars were precisely placed in the heavens to “signal” God’s divine “appointments.”

At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He fulfilled four of the seven appointments: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. Three yet remain, The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles. It seems reasonable to conclude that He will fulfill the final three with His second coming. The next one in line is the Feast of Trumpets. It also seems reasonable to conclude that the Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled by the Rapture of the Church. The Apostle Paul tells us, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 15:51-52, emphasis mine). “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 them which are asleep. 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16, emphasis mine). The Apostle John heard a voice that sounded like a trumpet, and he said, “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:2, emphasis mine). Considering that the blowing of the trumpets at the Feast of Trumpets was a “signal” for the gathering of the people to Jerusalem, it seems reasonable that the Feast of Trumpets is a good time for the gathering of God’s people to Himself.

However, the Feast of Trumpets comes around every year, and for the last 20 years or more, I have waited for the trumpet call only be disappointed once again – disappointed, but not disheartened. So, how is this year different, and why is this a good time? Well, let us see.

Israel is a nation once more and the Jews are in their own land. All end-times prophecy centers on the nation of Israel. That Israel is in her land is a miracle of God. In A.D. 70, Rome razed Jerusalem and the Temple to the ground and scattered the Jewish people all over the world as prophesied in Scripture. God said, “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 11:17, emphasis mine). For 2000 years, the Jews have fled from country to country. In all that time, they managed to maintain their ethnic identity, their traditions, and even their language. Then on May 14, 1948, they came home and established their nation in the land that God gave them. “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8, emphasis mine).

Israel is often likened to a fig tree. “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved” (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine). The prophet Zechariah in describing the Millennial Kingdom ruled by the BRANCH said, “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zechariah 3:10, emphasis mine). I believe this is speaking figuratively of Israel. Jesus said, “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 put forth its leaves almost 70 years ago – a biblical number for completion. “That generation” that saw it come to pass is almost gone. Now’s a good time!

Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9-10). Some will quickly point out that the world has seen wars and rumors of wars for millennia. True, but not with Israel back in her homeland.

Natural and man-made catastrophes are on the increase. Jesus said, “And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” (Luke 21:11, emphasis mine). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) downplays the increase in earthquakes, but independent researchers have found a significant increase in intensity and number of earthquakes all over the world measuring 6.5 and above on the Richter Scale. Famine and pestilence result from war-torn nations in Africa and the Middle East. At the same time, America has some “fearful sights” of her own with uncontrollable fires burning in California, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. America is not alone; there are other places around the world experiencing similar catastrophes.[7]

We see signs in the heavens. Jesus said, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).  In 2014 and 2015, we witnessed a rare tetrad of blood moons falling on the Feasts of the Lord. This year we experienced the Great American Solar Eclipse, which was soon followed by “the sea and the waves roaring” caused by Hurricane Harvey and shortly thereafter, Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, Hurricane José is building up steam in the Atlantic. Some suggest that solar eclipses are signs for the gentile nations.[8] Some have correlated US actions to pressure Israel to give up “land for peace” with natural disasters here in America.[9] Coincidently, Jared Kushner met with PLA President Mahmoud Abbas the same day that Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast.[10]

Are the Years of Jubilee ending (Leviticus 25:8-17)? About 3500 years have elapsed since God codified the system of Jubilee Years in the Mosaic Law. The children of Israel were to observe a system of Sabbath years where they allowed the land to rest every seventh year (a “week of years”). After seven Sabbath years (49 years) they were to set aside (sanctify) the 50th year as a Year of Jubilee at which time all debts would be canceled, and all land would revert to the original owner. Some have calculated and concluded that 2017 (it is the Jewish year 5777) completes the 70th Year of Jubilee. Seventy is a biblical number for completion. Some see significance in the triple sevens of the Jewish year 5777, seven and three both being a number for completion. Three also represents the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In Genesis 6:3, God declares that man’s “days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Some believe that this refers to the years God allotted for Noah to build the Ark before bringing the Flood. However, Noah was 500 years old when his three sons were born (Genesis 5:32); we are not given his age at the time God gave him the command. Noah was 600 years old when he completed the Ark and was instructed to get onboard (Genesis 7:6). Therefore, from the time Noah’s sons were born until the time the Flood came was only 100 years, not 120. The number 120 in the Bible represents “a divinely appointed time of waiting;”[11] however, the time allotted Noah to build the Ark was less than 120, so there must be another meaning. The word translated “year” in Genesis 6:3, shâneh can also mean “whole age” and not necessarily a year. One prophecy teacher suggests that the 120 refers to 120 Jubilees.[12] Taking into consideration a young, 6000-year old, earth, 120 x 50 = 6000 years. That means man’s time on earth is up! Now’s a good time!

Other interesting facts about the Jubilee years are the years 1917, 1967, and 2017. In 1917, the Belfour Declaration was signed setting aside the Promised Land as a Jewish homeland. Nineteen Seventeen was a Jubilee year. On May 14, 1948, The U.N. declared Israel a sovereign nation and Israel was reborn. Then in 1967 – 50 years after the Balfour Declaration, another Year of Jubilee – Israel took possession of their ancient capital of Jerusalem and the “West Bank” in the Six-Day War. More land returned to Israel according to the Law of Jubilee. However, although Israel possesses Jerusalem, it does not “control” the Temple Mount. There are rumblings among the Jews that they want to reclaim this holy site to rebuild their Temple. This year, 50 years since 1967, is another Jubilee Year. Perhaps this year the Temple Mount will revert to Israeli control. Now’s a good time!

The Revelation 12 Sign[13] will appear over the skies of Jerusalem on September 23, 2017. In a once-in-7000-year event, the constellations Virgo and Leo will align with three “wandering stars,” Mercury, Venus, and Mars, in conjunction with Leo making a “crown of twelve stars” over Virgo’s head. Additionally, Jupiter, the King Planet, which entered Virgo on August 27, 2016, will exit (be “born”) after 400 (40 x 10) days in the “womb.”[14] A solid interpretation of the Revelation 12 sign (Revelation 12:1-5) says that the “woman” is Israel (some also say she represents the Virgin Mary) – crowned with 12 stars, i.e. the twelve tribes of Israel – and the “child” is the Messiah. The “dragon” we understand to be Satan, who some see as Herod the Great. That is fine; prophecies often have more than one “valid” interpretation. The “stargazers” suggest the sign is more than an analogy of Israel and the Messiah. They argue that because the Messiah was “taken up” in A.D. 33, and because Revelation speaks of future events, not past, this cannot be speaking of the Messiah. Rather, they contend, the “child” represents the “body” of Christ, which is the Church. They agree that the woman, Virgo, represents Israel and the Jewish people who give birth to the Church. So then, it is the Church being taken up into heaven, and the sign represents the Rapture of the Church. It makes sense to me! Now’s a good time!

As I stated at the beginning, this may be my final post. Too many signs are converging that I could not cover them all in this already-too-long article. Now’s a good time for the Lord to return for His Church. After that comes seven horrible years of Tribulation. Then He returns to reign on earth for 1000 years. Then comes eternity (Revelation 21-22). Reader, if you are not ready for what will come, take time to read my page on Heaven.

If the Lord does not return this week, you will find me still occupied (Luke 19:13) until He comes, and a follow-up article will be posted. Nevertheless, if not, you will know what happened. 🙂

Notes:


[1]  “Not Expecting to Die” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/30/not-expecting-to-die/

[2]  “Coming Soon!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

[3]  “Prophecy Snobs” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/10/prophecy-snobs/

[4]  “The Millennial Kingdom” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/03/the-millennial-kingdom/

[5]  “Rosh HaShannah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[6]  Ibid.

[7]  Amir Tsarfati’s newsletter for September 13, 2017 – http://mailchi.mp/beholdisrael/prophecy-news-weekly-roundup-april-19-1004785?e=88847949f6

[8]  “Solar Eclipses Omens of Significant Historic Events” – https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/66864-solar-eclipses-omens-of-significant-historical-events

[9]  “12 SHOCKING PROOFS THAT DISASTER STRIKES AMERICA WHEN IT MISTREATS ISRAEL” – http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/11-shocking-proofs-disaster-strikes-america-mistreats-israel/

[10]  “US Calls Kushner-Abbas Meeting ‘Fruitful’ But Doesn’t Specify ‘Fruits’” – http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/us-calls-kushner-abbas-meeting-fruitful-but-doesnt-specify-fruits/2017/08/25/

[11]  “Meaning of Numbers in the Bible” – http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/120.html

[12]  Dan Goodwin, “Prophecy Unsealed” available at http://www.godsfinaljubilee.com/

[13]  “Coming Soon!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

[14]  “The Great Sign of Revelation 12 Occurs in 2017” – http://www.watchfortheday.org/1260tetrad.html

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Evangelism, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

Prophecy Snobs

 

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:3-4)

I admit it! I am expecting and am excited about the possibility of my Lord’s return in the very near future. I have written, on and off, about this in the past, but more often here lately.[1] Let me be clear; I DO NOT KNOW when Christ is coming back, and neither does anyone else. Anyone who even suggests that he or she knows the date of Christ’s return, should be viewed with a good measure of skepticism, but perhaps not altogether rejected. I believe that if it “sounds” plausible, according to Scripture, then I will watch and see if it pans out.

God gave the test for a true prophet. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22, emphasis mine). God did not say to reject the message, but rather to watch and see if it happens. If it does not happen, then discount that one as a false prophet.

The popularity of end-times prophecy has increased over the last few years. I have been a “student” of end-times prophecy since the first time I read The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey in the early 1970’s.  Hal Lindsey offered some “suggestions” about future events that did not come to pass, and he later had to make “adjustments” to his theories. However, Lindsey never made any dogmatic, “Thus saith the Lord” statements or set specific dates for Christ’s return. Rather, he offered his “opinions” based on his understanding of Scripture, and his perspective on world events. That does not make him a false prophet. He, like many of us, is obeying the Lord’s command to “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42, emphasis mine). Hal Lindsey, like many others, takes notice of the “signs of the times,” compares them to the prophecies recorded in Scripture, and attempts to discern the proximity of the Lord’s return. Jesus told us to do that! Sometimes he gets it right; sometimes he misses. There is nothing wrong with that. The prophet Daniel wanted to know more detail about the end-times, but he was told, “… thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis mine). That tells me that the nearer we get to that time, the clearer the signs will become. No one knows the time with absolute certainty, but I believe we can get a pretty good clue.

Recently a fellow blogger, whom I admire and respect, blogged about some who seem to be setting a date for the Rapture saying that their “presumption” is rooted in “pride.” These “stargazers” (I shall call them for lack of a better term) have made a “big deal” of an astral phenomenon that will take place over the skies of Jerusalem on September 23, 2017.  (I have written about this already so I will not go into detail here.)[2] On that date, according to the stargazers, there will be a conjunction of stars and planets that will form what appears to be the vision that John saw in Revelation 12:1-5. They use a software program called “Stellarium”[3] Because Stellarium allows the user to move backward and forward in time, they have verified (so they say) that this is a once-in-7000-year event. However, the accuracy of their claim is not without its detractors.[4] I have listened to several YouTube presentations[5] by these stargazers[6] and the common refrain I hear is, “I am not a date-setter;” however they do strongly suggest that September 23, 2017, is a good possibility for the Rapture. What I do not hear them say is that the Rapture will take place on September 23, 2017. That said, those who hear the message will hear what they want to hear. However, based on current world events and the convergence of other “signs of the times,” they make plausible arguments. I take the position of one who will watch and see. If nothing happens on that date, I will not be one to accuse these men of being false prophets because I have not heard them affirm, “Thus saith the Lord.” Like Hal Lindsey and others in the past, they only suggest the possibility.

To my friend the blogger I would say that I do not regard their “prediction” as “prideful” because they all understand very well that they could be wrong. Moreover, if they are right, and the Rapture does occur on that date, to whom will they boast? – “See! I told you!” There will be no boasting when they see Jesus. All I see in these men is that they are anxiously hopeful that Jesus will soon return, and I share that excitement.

By this time, you may be wondering about the title of this article. As I pointed out earlier, there is much talk these days about the Rapture and end-time prophecy. Sadly, I see pride on display with many end-time prophecy ministries. If I named them, you who follow such would recognize many of them. They all take positions that their view is the right one and others are “less informed” (as if they know). There is a camp that believes the Church will go through part or all of the Tribulation. (I used to think that was a possibility.) I will call them “Arapturists” for “no Rapture” These Arapturists reprimand those who hold to the pre-Tribulation Rapture for giving the Church the false hope of escapism rather than preparing the Church for facing the coming Tribulation. If they are right (and I do not believe they are), their concern is understandable. However, the “Pre-Tribers” complain that the Arapturists have become vicious in their attacks on them. Yet the Pre-Tribers attack the stargazers as false prophets (who are Pre-Tribers themselves). This they do without fully investigating the claims of the stargazers. To their credit, I have yet to hear a stargazer criticize the other camps. They merely present their arguments according to their understanding of Scripture knowing that there are other reasonable views. That is as it should be.

There is no place for prophecy snobs when it comes to end-times prophecy.  NOBODY KNOWS FOR SURE! As Christians, we all look forward to Christ’s return and His coming kingdom, but none of us has all the answers. I believe we all have a partial knowledge as Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, emphasis mine). That does not mean we should stop looking or become a scoffer (2 Peter 3:3-4).  Jesus said that we can “discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3), and He provided many clues. Then He exhorted us to “watch” (Matthew 24:42). Surely, He would not have given that command, without giving us something for which to watch! There are lazy Christians that do not want to exert the effort to “watch.” Their source verse to support their laziness is, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36, emphasis mine). I would remind them that Jesus said that in His earthly body that He purposefully limited (Philippians 2:7). He is now ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father (Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians  3:1;  Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; 12;2, et al.). Given that, can we still believe that Jesus, being fully God, still does not know the time of His return! Nonsense! When John saw Jesus in the Revelation, he received “updated” information that he passed on to us. Our task is to study those things, consider all the possibilities, and WATCH!

Notes:


[1] Look to the column on the right under the heading “Categories” and select the topics, “End Times,” “Second Coming of Christ,” or, in the “Search” box at the top of the column, type in the word “Rapture” or “Tribulation.”

[2]  “Coming Soon” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

[3]  Free software available at http://www.stellarium.org/

[4]  Danny Faulkner, Astrophysicist at Answers in Genesis opines in this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=DtMxiwCUBVY&app=desktop

[5]  The reader can go to http://YouTube.com and search for “Revelation 12 Sign”

[6]  On YouTube, look for videos by Robert Breaker, Steve Cioccolanti, Scott Clarke. These seem to be very sound in their teaching.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Theology