Category Archives: Current Events

Life on Other Planets

NOTE: NASA has no idea what these planets look like. This is the rendition of an artist’s imagination.

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. (Psalm 148:5)

Recently the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) created quite a stir concerning the discovery of seven earth-sized planets around the TRAPPIST-1 System.[1] Several of the scientists are absolutely gobsmacked and giddy over the prospect of the possibility of life on these planets.

“For thousands of years, people have wondered, are there other planets like Earth out there? Do any support life?” said Sara Seager, astrophysicst [sic] and planetary scientist at MIT. “Now we have a bunch of planets that are accessible for further study to try to start to answer these ancient questions.”[2]

Given the propensity of these scientists to reject the supernatural creative acts of God, they understandably seek proof of spontaneous generation on other worlds where they are free to speculate to their heart’s content. Failing to prove evolution here on earth, they hope to prove it elsewhere where their speculations escape scrutiny.

It is bad enough that they suck the mindless masses into the void of fantasy, but sadly, many “Bible-believing” Christians get sucked into the same vortex. I received an email from such a one just recently that read as follows:

While I am in agreement with the thought that the universe is God’s creation I’m not sure I understand comments that suggest life is impossible anywhere else.  While we know the Bible is truth, there is truth outside of the Bible.  God may have created life elsewhere for His purposes, what am I missing?

The writer referred to an article recently published on the Institute for Creation Research website[3] about the seven newly discovered exoplanets.

While many cautiously practice speculating about non-disclosures in the Bible, danger lurks when personal opinions become truths that can lead the believer astray. So for this one, and others that may be going off on a tangent, I offer the following.

The best resource to address the question of life on other worlds is the Bible.

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29, emphasis mine)

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:18, emphasis mine)

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21, emphasis mine)

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:25, emphasis mine)

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) Question: How many “images,” according to this verse, does God have?

And the Word [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, emphasis mine)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, emphasis mine)

For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20-21, emphasis mine)

The Bible defines “life” more narrowly than how secular scientists define life.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11, emphasis mine)

For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. (Leviticus 17:14, emphasis mine)

Basically, no blood, no life. So, if the question has to do with “life forms” such as bacteria, plants, or things like that, it is possible that such things could exist on other planets. However, one must ask, what would be the purpose? God does not create anything without purpose. What was God’s purpose for creating here on earth? (By the way, bear in mind that God created earth before any of the other heavenly bodies.)

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isaiah 43:7, emphasis mine)

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. (Psalm 104:31, emphasis mine)

I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. (Isaiah 45:12, emphasis mine)

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:5,11, emphasis mine)

And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory. (Psalm 64:9-10, emphasis mine)

The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. (Psalm 97:6, emphasis mine)

Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. (Psalm 148:11-13, emphasis mine)

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. (Isaiah 41:20, emphasis mine)

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (Isaiah 40:25-26, emphasis mine)

From the verses above, we see that at least part of God’s purpose in creation is twofold: for His glory and personal satisfaction, and so that man, whom He created in His image, can glorify God. Therefore, we must ask, how can we glorify God in that which we cannot observe? We continue to find more and more in the submicroscopic and subatomic levels right here on earth, so that we can marvel at God’s creation right here on earth. So, how would His purpose be accomplished by creating life on other planets beyond our observation? How can we glorify God about “life” of which we know nothing? (By the way, those NASA scientists are evolutionists. They do not believe in the Creator God of the Bible. They believe in evolution by “natural causes,” therefore, they “assume” that life “could” evolve on other planets. This is why they get so excited about the possibility. However, they have no rational basis to substantiate that belief. They cannot even prove life evolved here on earth.)

If we speculate that the “life” on other planets might be human-like, we need only to remember that humans were made in God’s image. That raises the question, in whose image were those creatures created? The question presents serious theological problems. Man’s sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) brought the curse upon all of God’s creation (Romans 8:22); therefore, those creatures would be under the curse of death too. However, Jesus died to redeem mankind, not Klingons or Vulcans. To redeem them, Jesus would have to die for each of those “races”, but the Bible says, “[We] are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, emphasis mine). Jesus’ death on the cross was a one-time deal; therefore, Jesus’ sacrifice excludes Klingons and Vulcans. God is just and righteous in His judgment; therefore, I conclude that all life is here on earth alone.

Reader, if you reject the Creator God, you are just as alien to God as Klingons and Vulcans, and in grave danger of spending eternity in hell. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20, emphasis mine). “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15, emphasis mine). There is a way of escape for you; however, you must decide. The Bible says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21, emphasis mine). Do that now.

Notes:


[1] Probing the Seven Worlds with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/probing-seven-worlds-with-nasas-james-webb-space-telescope

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  Seven Earth-size Planets Discovered: http://www.icr.org/article/9867

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What’s Wrong!

dying-uncle-sam

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)

            Recently, shortly after the New Year’s celebrations ended, I was listening to my favorite cable news channel, and I heard one of the news anchors, a lady as I recall, lament, “What’s wrong with our country!”  The outcry was in response to the shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport in Florida.

            These days many echo the same lament as our nation morphs from a nation of laws to a nation of lawlessness. One could point to our outgoing President dragging our country into the gutter, but, in truth, the decline began more than half a century ago. However, except for those living in ignorant bliss, it is obvious to the observant that the degeneration has markedly accelerated over the past eight years. My good friend and author, DiAne Gates, details the decline in her recent blog post: “A SYMPHONY OF DECEPTION.”

            What’s wrong with our country! Lawmakers carelessly vomit out laws aimed at curbing the anarchy of the lawless while, wittingly or unwittingly, denying the God-given freedoms of honest, law-abiding citizens. In the meantime, the “moral majority” celebrates victory for their part in replacing one narcissist with another in hopes of turning the nation around. I voted for Donald Trump, and I thank God that he won the presidential election rather than Hillary Clinton; but I am under no delusion that he is the salve to heal our wounds.

            Our nation is sick. That is obvious to anyone having a sense of awareness, and no one has the solution. Anyone familiar with troubleshooting techniques knows that before finding a solution to a problem, one must clearly understand the cause of the problem. What is wrong with our country? The cause and the solution are simple, but the implementation is hard.

            Both the cause and the solution are contained in the verse above. The promise given to Abram (Abraham) is generally understood to apply to the nation of Israel. That is indisputable (except by those with a perverted understanding of Scripture). After Abram arrived in the land of Canaan, God expanded on His promise. “And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him” (Genesis 12:7, emphasis mine). God amplified His promise after Abram and Lot separated. “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Genesis 13:15, emphasis mine). If God’s Word is true, then the promise is irrevocable. The modern nation of Israel occupies only a fraction of the land given to them through Abraham by God. It matters not what the United Nations or the United States say about it, and it belongs to them forever! There you have the source of the problem to the Middle East.

            So, what has that to do with America? Perhaps you missed it. Note that the promise was directed to Abraham’s “seed.” That “seed” certainly applies to Israel, but “the seed” is much more than that. The Apostle Paul made the case that the “seed” applies to Christ more so than it does to Israel. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16, emphasis mine). Paul bases his argument on Hebrew grammar, which records the “seed” as singular, not “seeds” as plural. The promise made was to Christ, i.e., Messiah, who would come as a descendant of Abraham.

            You still wonder what that has to do with America and the solution to America’s problem. The answer is in our leading verse. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, emphasis mine). Look first at the last half of the verse: “in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” That is the promise of Messiah, our Savior. Through His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus made the way for all nations to be blessed, if they will accept and submit to Him. He is that Seed of Abraham. Contained in the first half of the verse is the cause and solution to our national problem. God said, “I will bless them that bless Thee, and curse him that curseth Thee.” The emphasis serves to highlight the object of the blessing or curse.

            In its infancy, our nation blessed and honored our God, our Savior. At its founding, God took center stage and our lawmakers unashamedly proclaimed that we are a Christian nation. Oh! How God blessed our beginnings! Why? Because our nation blessed Him. Can the same be said today? Not hardly! Today we, as a nation, curse Christ and cast Him out of every area of public life. Then we wonder, what’s wrong with our country? As a nation, we have called what is good evil, and what is evil, we call good. The solution is equally simple. Stop cursing God, and start blessing Him again. Can it be done? I don’t know, but I do know this, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Politics, Random Musings, Salvation

Rosh HaShanah

feast-of-trumpets

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 23:24)

Today, October 3, 2016, is Rosh HaShanah, the first month and day of the Jewish civil year. It is the seventh month (Tishri) of the ecclesiastical year which begins on Nissan 1, sometime in early spring.

Rosh HaShanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets, and it is celebrated by the daily sounding of trumpets leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, ten days later. This year, that day begins on the evening of October 11, 2016.

Most Christians are unfamiliar with the Jewish feast days that are observed in keeping with the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. These are not your run-of-the-mill festivals. They were ordained by God and are collectively known as the “Feasts of the Lord;” therefore, they are solemn observations. The first four feasts occur in the spring beginning with Passover, and the last three take place in the fall ending with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (or “Booths”).

For the Christian, these feasts offer a picture of Christ. Jesus “fleshed out” the first four feasts at His first advent. Arguably, He has yet to fulfill the final three. Consider the following and how these feasts represent the ministry of Christ:

  1. Passover – Jesus is crucified as the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world.
  2. Unleavened Bread – Leaven represents sin. Jesus, with the sins of the world on Him, is removed from the “house” (Jerusalem) and buried outside the city walls in a tomb.
  3. First Fruits – This feast celebrated the “promise” of the coming harvest. It was observed by waving the first sprouts of the fields before the Lord. Jesus rose from the dead on this day with the promise of a great harvest to follow.
  4. Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) – Fifty days after First Fruits celebrated the barley harvest. Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after First Fruits, and 10 days later the Holy Spirit fell upon “the Church” – the disciples – and 3000 souls were saved that day (Acts 2:41) – truly a great “harvest.”
  5. Rosh HaShanah – The Feasts of Trumpets was a “Holy Convocation” and a gathering in of all of God’s people. Christians may see this as the “Rapture” where “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
  6. Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement was the day when the people of God repented of past sins and the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God to pour the blood of the sacrifice for the whole nation on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark contained the tablets of God’s Law that was violated, and the blood covered the infraction. Each Christian, being a “priest” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), now enters into the very presence of God offering the blood that was shed for them by Christ. Through His blood, our sins are covered, i.e. atoned for.
  7. Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles was a seven-day celebration remembering the time when God’s people were wandering in the wilderness dwelling in tents. Now they have come into the Promised Land and live in permanent dwellings. For the Christian, who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-16), this represents Christ’s reign on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords beginning with His millennial kingdom on earth and beyond into eternity.

I’ve said this before. Each year around time, I start looking up and listening for the trumpet to sound. Yes, I know that the Rapture can occur at any time, but to me it seems logical that it would be consistent with God’s calendar. Of course, God is not obligated to follow my line of reasoning. At any rate, this time of year causes me to pray ever more earnestly that God would call us home and fix this really messed up world once and for all.

However, at the same time, it causes me even greater concern because I know that those who are left behind will literally experience hell on earth for the next seven years, not to mention for eternity. I have two sons with their wives that are lost and hell bound. My youngest son has two daughters, my granddaughters, that by now have reached the age of accountability. My heart aches for them knowing what is ahead unless they repent and turn to Christ as their personal Savior. I have nieces and nephews and other relatives who are lost. I have friends and acquaintances who are doomed to an eternity in hell. That is not a pleasant thought. So, on the one hand I long to go and be with the Lord right now, but on the other hand, I am deeply concerned for those that will be left behind. The longer the Lord delays His return, the more time and opportunity they have to alter their course.

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. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:9-10, emphasis mine)

On the other hand, the longer He delays the more time for unbelievers to scoff: “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 3:4).

Even so, come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Shanah Tovah!

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If My People

solomons-temple

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Fear hangs like a dark, menacing storm cloud over our nation. Insecurity saps the courage of our people to venture into the unknown. Anger and hostility ignite flames of anarchy in our streets and everyone yearns for a savior. Our nation is deeply troubled. Anyone with any sense of awareness can see it. Many feel helpless to stem the tide, while many others tenaciously cling to the hope that the downward spiral can be arrested and reversed through a spiritual awakening and revival. The latter frequently quote, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine).

The passage quoted intends for “God’s people” to collectively storm the gates of heaven petitioning God on behalf of our wicked and sinful nation. The petition is conditional and incumbent upon “God’s people,” not the general populous, but who are God’s people and where are they?

Before I respond to that question, I need to restate what have emphasized in the past concerning this particular verse in Second Chronicles that is so often quoted. Regarding the United States of America, the verse is taken out of context and misapplied. The Second Chronicles begins with Solomon’s ascension to the throne of Israel and the building of the first temple in Jerusalem. At the completion of Temple, the priests placed the Ark of the Covenant in its place in the Holy of Holies (2 Chronicles 5:1-12) and “the glory of God” in the form of a cloud that filled the temple in such a way that the priests could not minister in the place (vv. 13-14). As the dedication service continued, Solomon prayed and asked God to “Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive” (2 Chronicles 6:21, emphasis mine). Solomon’s plea for God’s forgiveness goes beyond individual sins and extends to the sins of nation collectively.

And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance … If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chronicles 6:24-27, 38-39, emphasis mine)

Notice that Solomon’s request specifies God’s people (Israel), the Temple (this house), Jerusalem (the city), and the nation (their land). “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3, emphasis mine).

Obviously, God approved of the Temple and the offerings presented there. The dedication of the Temple took place in the midst of the Fall Feasts. Scripture tells us that it was “in the seventh month” (2 Chronicles 5:3). The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha Shanna) was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). Then on the tenth day of the month, they observed the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur – Leviticus 23:27). That was followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) fifteen days later (Leviticus 23:34), which was celebrated for seven days. Solomon dedicated the Temple on the eighth day (2 Chronicles 7:9), and the celebration lasted through the Day of Atonement for seven days. The dedication ended in time to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasted an additional seven days (1 Kings 8:65-66). “And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” (2 Chronicles 7:10).

It is in this context that God responds.

And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, emphasis mine)

As specific as Solomon’s prayer was, so was God’s response. Note that God is responding to Solomon’s prayer: “I have heard thy prayer.” Solomon’s prayer request focused on the Temple, Jerusalem, and the “nation” of Israel as noted above. In response, God says that He has “chosen this place to myself.” His people which are called by His name is the nation of Israel collectively. If they sin, which they did and which resulted in expatriation for the northern  kingdom and Babylonian captivity for Judah, and they humble themselves, repent and seek God, then He will heal their land. Note also that the prayer must either originate in that place or be directed toward that place. We see this exact scenario when Daniel recognizes that the 70-year captivity had been met (Daniel 9:1-19).

Christians these days have adopted 2 Chronicles 7:14 as their own and applied it to what is currently going on in the United States of America. They rightly claim we are “God’s people.” You will not arouse an argument from me on that point. The New Testament repeatedly teaches that we are the children of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). However, the claim ends right there. Where is God’s Temple right now? “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis mine). What borders mark the land of God’s people? Americans claim the United States. Are there no Christians in Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, etc.? What of all the Christians being martyred in the Middle East and Africa, are thy not God’s people, and do they not have the right to intercede on behalf of their land?  God’s “grafted in” people have no land here on earth. “For our conversation [i.e. citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

It seems somewhat hypocritical that many Christians today want to reject the Old Testament Law claiming that we are “under grace” – those things no longer apply – and yet will take this verse, completely out of context and force it apply to 21st Century America. Sorry, folks, it will not work. There is still a nation of Israel with whom God is dealing. To date, the majority of Israelis are secular. Many are agnostics or atheists. There exists a small minority of “completed Jews” in the land, but with laws against proselytizing, their numbers remain small. Israel exists to show God’s faithfulness to His promises, and in the end, those who survive the Great Tribulation that is coming, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10), and they will be saved.

So, what can the Christian get out of 2 Chronicles 7:14? Taken in context, we can rest in the assurance that God does hear the prayers of His people, and He does answer according to His will.

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When the Sky Really Is Falling: Repent, And Be The Church

Source: When the Sky Really Is Falling: Repent, And Be The Church

Re-blogged from Prophecy News Watch

repentaug012016

My musings:

I appreciate Rod Dreher’s (I believe) optimism, but consider Jeremiah 15:4. After Manasseh, king of Judah, followed Amon who was equally wicked. Then came Josiah who brought in “revival,” That lasted about 30 years. Subsequent kings reversed direction, but note that God had already judged the nation from the time of Manasseh, even though he repented in the end (2 Chronicles 33:11-13). Josiah’s revival did not deter God from following through with His plans to punish Judah.

Compare that with the recent history of our nation. During WWII, there was revival, but not long after, the nation started going downhill. Then we had Reagan and there seemed to be a “new revival,” but after him, things started going south again.

Nationally, we started turning our back on God by banning prayer and Bible reading in public schools in the 60’s. Then we legalized the murder of unborn babies in the 70’s. Finally, sodomy was “accepted” and then legalized at the turn of the new century. Knowing how God has dealt with “His people” in the past, can we really expect Him to overlook our national sin?

I agree that we Christians, as “His people,” need to repent and renew our commitment to Christ our Lord, but I don’t think that will have any effect on the course of our nation. While this may sound pessimistic, I am not. I am hopeful that our Lord’s return is very near. Good news for us, but bad news for those who will be left behind. Hopefully, we can leave behind clear enough testimony that those “who have ears to hear” will recognize what has happened and take advantage of their second chance.

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Burden of a Prophet

Prophet

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

As I look back on my recent posts, I think, “Man! Some of that is pretty depressing stuff! I should write something more uplifting, and fun.” I titled my blog, “Ernie’s Musings” because I write about things that engage my thoughts. Lately, the things happening around our nation and the world, and the upcoming presidential election weigh heavily on my mind. Honestly, I find it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to look on the bright side. This stems from the fact that I have a phlegmatic personality with leanings to melancholic and choleric. No sanguine bone exists in my body, and I find those with that personality to be rather annoying. However, God has a sense of humor, and He surrounds me with sanguine friends in order to keep me on an even keel.

Along with my serious nature, God gave me the gift of prophecy (Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; Ephesians 4:8-11). I say that with all humility, not that I “think more highly of myself than I ought to think” (Romans 12:3). This is not something that I dreamed up on my own. Many churches that strive to get members involved in the ministries of the church – and do it right – give a “spiritual gifts assessment” in order to properly “fit” the member in an area for which he/she is spiritually gifted. I have taken at least three such assessments, and I consistently score highly in prophecy, teaching, discernment, and encouragement. The confirmation for my statement comes from external and independent sources, so this is not my own fabrication.

I am a prophet, not a “seer” or fortuneteller. As with prophets of old, I can only say what God reveals. The prophets of old heard directly from God and repeated the message, “Thus saith the Lord,” and they recorded that message in Scripture. Nothing has been, or can be, added to the written Word of God. Thus saith the Lord, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). The New Testament repeats, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18).

God’s revelation to us is complete and permanent. Jesus affirmed this fact when He said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18). Therefore, when I speak or write, I only say what God has already revealed in His Word. I have no new material. You will not hear me say, “I heard a new word from the Lord,” and then present something that does not already appear in Scripture. I take seriously James’ admonition, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1). The Greek word translated “masters” is didaskalos, and it means “instructor” or “teacher.” God does not take kindly to those who misuse or abuse His Word and claim to speak for Him. God instructed the people to stone false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

As a prophet, I must speak God’s Word. I am compelled to do so. In the words of Jeremiah the prophet, “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jeremiah 20:9). The Hebrew word translated “forbearing” is kûl, and it means to “hold in.” The prophet is saying that withholding (holding in) the Word of God is tiring, and he cannot hold it in. He must let it out. In a note on this verse, Henry M. Morris says:

The Word of God simply cannot be quenched for one who truly loves God and understands what God’s Word has done for him and what it means for the world. Even though that man is the object of reproach and derision because of it (20:8), he must proclaim it to others in whatever way he can.[1]

I kind of feel like that. David, the psalmist, expressed a similar sentiment. “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue” (Psalm 39:3). The problem with speaking what God has put in my heart is that people will often not like what I have to say. I have learned to expect this. In Jeremiah’s case, he said, “O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily” (Jeremiah 20:7-8, emphasis mine). The word “deceived” is an unfortunate translation in the KJV.[2] God deceives no one. It is Satan who is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). The Hebrew word used there is pâthâh, and it means rather “to entice.” God places a burden on the heart of a prophet and entices him, or calls him to deliver that message.

For a modern prophet like myself, God lets me see the condition of the world around me through the lens of His Holy Word; that goes with the gift of discernment that He gave me along with prophecy. The message is not new. This same message has been proclaimed through the ages. God does not change. God’s Word does not change. When I look at the world around me, I do not like what I see. When I see the condition of our nation, I do not like what I see. Then I read God’s Word, and I see the problem. Others may see the same problems I see and shake their heads and go on about their business, but I cannot do that. God, the Holy Spirit that resides in me (and all of God’s children), compels me to speak out, and I must. God has not given me a pulpit from which to preach, but He has given me a blog, and so I write. It is the burden of a prophet that God has given me.

I admit that my message may not be popular, and it may even be offensive at times. Sometimes, even I do not like what I have to say, and I would rather keep it to myself. However, the burden weighs on my heart and mind, and I am compelled to express it. When I consider the message, I look for ways to soften it, but given the conditions, I find that difficult. In those same spiritual gift assessments, I consistently score poorly in the “gift of mercy,” so it is difficult for me to make the message “kinder.”

God also made me an “encourager.” As bleak as my messages may be sometimes, I find hope in God’s sovereignty, in His faithfulness, and in His promise. I know our Lord’s return is very near, and although the world around us grows darker by the day, we have the promise of His coming. No matter what the political climate or social morass, our God reigns, and He cares for the welfare of His children. Until He comes, He will provide for us, pilot us, and protect us. So if my message seems gloomy at times, remember that is just the burden of this prophet, but along with the message, there is hope.

Notes:


[1]  Henry M. Morris, The Henry Morris Study Bible, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2012), 1114.

[2]  Many other modern translations also mistranslate this word. However it is correctly translated in others like the Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) translates as “enticed”, New Living Translation (NLT) translates as “misled,” New English Translation (NET) translates as “coerced,” New American Bible-Revised (NABRE) translates as “seduced,” and the Common English Bible (CEB) translates as “enticed.”

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When God Won’t Hear

man-alone-with-god

Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:4)

I get weary by the overwhelming onslaught of depressing news that assails me from all directions. It assaults me from the radio, TV, social media, internet, emails and even from normal conversations with friends. Let us face it, the world is a mess and nothing seems to make it better; it just seems to keep getting worse. Perhaps that is why we see so many people with their faces buried in their personal communications devices (PCDs) playing Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, or the latest craze, Pokémon GO, or whatever – anything to escape the “real” world – but the news refuses to go away.

Without detailing every account, anyone not fixated on their smart phones knows that the whole world is in serious trouble – economies are failing, ISIS grows like a cancer, rogue nations threaten the peace with nuclear arms, etc. The United States once served as a stabilizing force in the world, but America has her own problems now. Since Barack Obama became President, America’s economy has faltered, her military strength has declined, her influence for good in the world has diminished, and the heart of her people has weakened. President Obama mocks Christians for clinging to their guns and Bibles while he praises the virtues of Islam. He criticizes police use of lethal force against blacks without knowing all of the facts, and excuses the perpetrators as victims of racism. Obama lashes out at Christians who denounce the sin of homosexuality and celebrates the “bravery” of those that “come out of the closet.” When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage,” Obama gave assent and showed approval by bathing the White House in the rainbow colors of “gay pride.”

Recently a man, claiming allegiance to ISIS, entered a gay bar in Florida and slaughtered several people in the name of Allah and Obama refused to acknowledge him as an Islamic terrorist. Just two weeks ago, another man, Micah Johnson, targeted white police officers assigned to protect peaceful protestors of the Black Lives Matter movement. Five police officers were murdered in cold blood and several others were wounded. In honoring the fallen officers, President Obama began his speech in praise of the heroic officers who ran toward the danger and did all they could to protect the marchers, but his speech quickly degenerated into his typical race-baiting rhetoric. When our leader has no concept of unity, it is no wonder that our country is so fractured. However, the problem is greater than just one man’s inability to lead. The problem began some sixty years ago when the nation slowly chipped away at our Christian foundation and ousted God from the public square. “In God We Trust” are just words on our currency. Our beloved country is very, very sick.

Christians are encouraged to pray for our nation and to pray for our leaders. Albeit out of context, 2 Chronicles 7:14 frequently serves as a call for Christians pray for the nation. God promises, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (emphasis mine). God’s promise was made to the united nation of Israel, but Christians have (erroneously, I think) claimed it as their own forgetting that “our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “conversation” in the King James Bible (KJV) is politeuma, from which we get our word “politic,” means “a community” or “citizenship.” Not that we should be “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good,” but the United States of America is not where our primary allegiance should be. As the Apostle Paul asserts, “our citizenship is in heaven,” not the United States of America. Ours is the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of Barack.

Like the United States of America, Israel, first the northern kingdom and then Judah, rejected God and turned to false gods – not every individual, but the nation as a whole. Even so, there are many faithful Christians in America who “have not bowed unto Baal” (1 Kings 19:18), but there exists only a remnant. I am certain that the faithful in Israel prayed for their nation, but that was not enough to dissuade God from punishing the entire nation – including the faithful ones.

Micah prophesied in Judah. By this time, Israel, the northern kingdom, no longer existed as a nation, having succumbed to the Assyrian Empire. From the time the ten northern tribes broke with Judah, the nation fell into idolatry. Now Judah followed suit. Micah voices the words of God who charges Judah’s leaders, for lack of judgment (Micah 3:1).  God points out that they “hate good and love evil” and they abuse the people with unjust taxes. The graphic words paint the picture: “who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron” (Micah 3:2-3). There comes a point when, “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings” (Micah 3:4, emphasis mine).

Isaiah brought a similar charge to the nation as a whole, not only the leaders, but also those who willingly followed.  “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). Sad! Dumb animals recognize their source of provision better than “intelligent” people do. “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4). Can we not say the same of America? As the passage continues, God laments that the more He punishes the nation, the more rebellious they become. God assesses their condition as sick of head and weak of heart. Out of rote, they bring insincere offerings to God, but their hearts belong to other gods. So, God says, “when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15, emphasis mine). God is infinitely patient, but He does set limits. When those limits are breached, His response is predictably sure. I say “predictably” because He gives an abundance of warning for those who are willing to listen.

Well, that seems just and deserved for those who rebel and reject God; but what about the faithful remnant who cry out for their nation? Just before the conquest and expatriation of Judah to Babylon, Jeremiah pleaded for his nation, but three times God charged him to stop. “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” (Jeremiah 7:16, emphasis mine). Then again, “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble” (Jeremiah 11:14, emphasis mine). Finally, “Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good” (Jeremiah 14:11, emphasis mine). Jeremiah certainly qualifies as one of God’s people. There comes a time when God will not hear the pleas even when they come from His people.

For Judah, God kept His 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise and returned them to the land, but only after they had served their full time in Babylonian captivity. Even today, we see God’s promise fulfilled as Jews from all over the world continue to migrate back to their land. However, America is not Israel, and this promise does not have universal application.  I realize that many disagree with that statement, but I suggest that such sentiment stems from deep-seated patriotism and love of country. I understand that. I too am a patriot. I willingly and gladly gave 12 years of my life in the service to this nation. These words I write tear at my heart as I see the inevitable demise of the country I love. Yet, our directive calls for us to hold the things of this earth loosely and cling to that yet unrealized country.  Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, emphasis mine). Is your treasure in America or in heaven above?

Praying for our nation is a noble thought, but I believe our country is too far-gone for that now. I believe God is saying, at least to me, “Pray thou not for this people.” What about Paul’s exhortation to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2)? Consider where Paul had been – imprisoned in Rome – and where Timothy was – pastoring the church at Ephesus. Rome hardly qualified as a bastion of republican democracy. In Paul’s exhortation, he does not call for prayer for the preservation of the empire. He says to pray for “the leaders” – individuals. Why? In order “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).  In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul says that God appoints leaders. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1, emphasis mine). The Roman rulers under which Paul and Timothy lived were despicable despots to whom they were to submit in order “to lead a quiet and peaceable life” regardless of who was in charge.

Christianity flourishes in China under an oppressive communist regime. Should Christians in China pray that their form of government continue? My point is that no matter what form of earthly government we live under, we owe a higher allegiance to the Kingdom of God. We should pray for our leaders that they might come to a saving knowledge of Christ through whom they will gain godly wisdom to rule. Even so, salvation is a personal matter between God and each individual. On that same note, rather than praying for the survival of our nation, we should not only pray, but labor for the salvation of individuals. For our nation to return to its foundation, the hearts of individuals must change. A wholesale repentance of a majority of individuals must take place before God will hear the pleas of His people for their nation.

Remember Abraham’s intercessory prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah? (Genesis 18:23-33) If there are 50 righteous, if there are 40 righteous, if there are 30, 20, 10, will you destroy the city? In the end, there were not even 10 righteous, and God destroyed the cities. Depending on what poll one reads, the number of “genuine” born-again, Evangelical Christians in the US hovers around 20% and declining. Should God spare the nation for 20 righteous? Did God spare Israel for the 7000 that did not bowed unto Baal? (1 Kings 19:18).

When a nation exceeds the limits of God’s patience, God stops His ears to the intercessory petitions of His people for the nation. Indeed, He says, “Pray thou not for this people.” Has America reached that limit? I think it has. We see a rise in depravity, perversion, and unrestrained violence, not to mention natural disasters. This is why the best response we can offer to a Hillary Clinton presidency is Donald Trump. It is sad to watch, but take heart Christians. We have a heavenly citizenship, and we pledge our allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our duty is to work for and expand His Kingdom until He returns. I pray that is soon!

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