Category Archives: Current Events

Still Listening Again

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).

Every year for at least the last decade – ever since I learned about the Feasts of the Lord[1] – around this time of year, I start getting a little anxious with excitement wondering if this will be the year that Jesus will call His bride home.[2], [3], [4], [5], [6] This Monday, September 10, the Feast of Trumpets comes around again. For those of us who look forward to the Rapture of the Church, this is a “high watch” day. The reason for this, as I have explained in the past, is because this is the next Feast not fulfilled by Jesus’ First Advent. Therefore, it stands to reason that Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets) would be a good time for Jesus to summon His Bride, the Church, home. Every year as I have waited, the day has come and gone, and we are still here. You might think that eventually I would experience “Rapture Fatigue” and give up on the whole idea. However, I still have oil in my lamp and even some extra! (Matthew 25:4)

Some will criticize and remind us that Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). The Rapture is imminent. It could happen at any time, and we ought always to be ready. Nothing prophetically remains unfulfilled for this event to take place. Israel celebrated her 70th rebirthday this past May. We live in the generation that witnessed the “fig tree” bud (Matthew 24:32-33). This year wraps up the 70th Year of Jubilee since Moses gave the ordinance 3500 years ago. Israel is the focal point of end-times prophecy, so our attention must focus on current events in the Middle East. The stage is being set for what “prophecy watchers” call the “Ezekiel 38-39 War.” At the time of this writing, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are meeting concerning their involvement in Syria. Damascus almost resembles the ruinous heap described in Isaiah 17:1.

Will these things happen before or after the Rapture? We cannot tell. No man knows the day or the hour, but we sense that the time is near. Will the Rapture take place at the Feast of Trumpets? Perhaps. The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated over two days because it is based on the verified appearance of the new moon. Since the exact time of the appearance cannot be accurately predicted, the Feast of Trumpets is known as the feast of which “no man knows the day or the hour.” This year the watch is set for Monday and Tuesday, September 10 & 11 beginning at sundown on Sunday, September 9 (the date of this posting).

Will Jesus call for His Bride in the coming weeks? I do not know, but I hope so, and I am ready! How about you? If you are unsure, read my pages on “Securing Eternal Life” and on “Heaven.”

Notes:


[1]  “Rosh HaShanah” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[2]  “Still Waiting!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/24/still-waiting/

[3]  “Now’s A Good Time!” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/17/nows-a-good-time/

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

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

[6]  “Still Listening” https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/09/20/still-listening/

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

Artificial Fertilization

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (John 6:33)

I received the following question last week, and, even though this is not the kind of question I typically respond to, I thought I should at least make an effort to give an answer. The inquirer asked:

Is Artificial Insemination right or wrong? Are there scriptures that can be used to either support or be against it? As Africa is working on catching up with the west, these are some of the Issues so foreign in our culture, but we have to deal with, much more deal with rightly especially for those who profess to be followers of Christ.

Although this individual asked specifically about artificial insemination, there are several methods for treating infertility problems. The writer seemed concerned for those who are followers of Christ, so my response assumed the context of a married, heterosexual, couple. There are moral issues for homosexual couples using these methods to produce children that I do not care to address since I have covered those matters in previous posts. [1],[2],[3],[4]  Therefore, my response addresses Christian concerns.

The most common method of artificial fertilization is intrauterine insemination. This method takes sperm from the husband, by a variety of means, and injects it into the wife’s uterus when she is ovulating. Except for the fact that this circumvents God’s design for childbearing, the redeeming factor is that the couple is husband and wife. Sometimes, for one reason or another, the husband cannot produce sperm. In this case, the couple may be tempted to find a sperm donor. Finding a donor who is not the husband, I think, goes far beyond the will of God, as I will explain later.

The Bible does not have anything to say about artificial fertilization. Obviously, such techniques did not exist when the Bible was written. However, there are principles taught in the Bible that should guide the believer (through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit) in determining what is right or wrong about this procedure. Ultimately, it is a matter of conscience for the individuals undergoing the procedure.

A second method of artificial fertilization is in vitro fertilization. This method takes ovum from the wife, and the technicians inject them with sperm from the husband resulting in several fertilized eggs – zygotes. This procedure is often used because, for one reason or another, the wife has trouble getting pregnant. The technicians then place the fertilized eggs in the mother’s uterus in hopes that at least one will “take.”

Some things a Christian couple should think about when considering undergoing any of these procedures. (1) The Bible repeatedly asserts that God is the One who gives life. Only God gives life, so the life resulting from artificial fertilization is God-given albeit through human intervention. Humans cannot give or create life – only God does that. (2) Often, in the process of in vitro fertilization, extra embryos are created in the procedure for use at a later time, if the first attempt fails. Sometimes the procedure results in multiple births. Often, not all of the embryos resulting from the procedure are used, and the question arises of what to do with the unused embryos. At some point, someone must decide what to do with the remaining embryos – either keep them or destroy them. Here is where the real problem arises. Those embryos are tiny, not-fully-formed yet 100%, human beings. They are life that God has created; therefore, only God has the right to take that life. When that life is destroyed by man, the act, from God’s perspective, is murder (Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 20:13).

From my perspective, the problem of infertility should be left to God. We have many examples in Scripture where couples were infertile for many years until the time God chose, so that He might be glorified. Some examples are Abraham and Sara (Genesis 21), Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 30), Manoah and wife (parents of Samson – Judges 13), the Shunammite woman and her husband (2 Kings 4), Zacharias and Elisabeth (parents of John the Baptist – Luke 1:5-25). Therefore, I think it best to leave the matter in God’s hands. He is the One that “gives” children (Psalm 127:3). He has His reasons for giving or withholding children from a couple, and ultimately, He knows best.

I do not believe that we should meddle in God’s business. However, a Christian couple struggling with infertility needs to take the matter before the Lord before making such a serious, life-altering decision. Remember the trouble that resulted when Abraham and Sara tried to help God out by using Hagar to produce an heir. The problems from that failed plan plague Israel to this very day! Rachel tried to solve her infertility problem by giving her handmaid to Jacob, then Leah followed suit and did the same. When we examine Jacob’s life, it is anything but blissful! Things usually do not turn out well when we presume to help God out in matters that rightly belong to Him. It is always best to leave such things up to God. God has His reason for blessing some couples with children and not blessing others. The matter is best left to His discretion.

Notes:


[1]  “Born Gay” https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/07/15/born-gay/

[2]  “Reclaiming the Rainbow” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/23/reclaiming-the-rainbow/

[3]  “The Rainbow”  https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/07/05/the-rainbow/

[4]  “Adam & Steve or Bev & Eve?”  https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/05/03/adam-steve-or-bev-eve/

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, Pro-life, Science, Theology

Bad Copy

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28)

In 1996, Michael Keaton starred in the movie “Multiplicity” where he plays the part of a man who never seems to have enough time to gets things done.  To resolve this problem, he is offered the opportunity to have himself duplicated, i.e., cloned.  The initial “copy” is pretty good except that he displays some character flaws that the “original” can normally keep under control.  Keaton assigns all the tasks he cannot manage to the copy, and soon the copy becomes overwhelmed and decides to have himself duplicated as well.  The second copy is a little more degraded than the first copy.  The second copy also has himself duplicated, then the third and then the fourth, and so on.  Each subsequent copy is more degraded than the previous until the final copy is a complete drooling imbecile.  The concept makes for a hilarious movie, but it is not that far from the truth.

Brian Thomas, science writer for the Institute for Creation Research, recently cited a study published in Science that compared detailed sequences of 202 genes in 14,002 people.  What they discovered was that many people have rare, individual differences in their gene sequences that were probably caused by mutations that arose over the last few thousand years.  What this implies is that these gene variants developed recently.  Mr. Thomas asks, “Why has all this population growth and mutational build up only just occurred, if humans have been on the planet for ‘at least 2.4 million years’?”

There are 60-200 new mutations (which are either neutral or detrimental, but rarely beneficial) added every generation.  If evolution were true, with the cumulative effects of 60-200 mutations per generation over 100,000 years (supposedly when modern man evolved), we should all end up like the final copy in Michael Keaton’s movie!  This is what J. S. Sanford, Ph.D. terms as “backwards evolution” (Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome).  But that is not what we see.  Instead, what we do see is that there is degeneration in the general gene pool.  Thomas adds, “Since there is no natural process that repairs these kinds of mutations faster than they accumulate, they continuously amass until organisms eventually can no longer tolerate the high level of genetic error” – and mankind would become extinct.  These findings present a problem for evolutionists, but they are not a problem for the biblical record which presents creation as young (about 6000 years old).

One of the questions that frequently comes up in a discussion of Genesis is “Where did Cain get his wife?”  The answer is simple, really; he married one of his sisters.  While the idea is repugnant to us, it really makes a lot of sense, if you think about it.  It was not until the time of Moses that God instituted laws against incest.  This was to minimize the degeneration process of passing on mutated genes.  When Adam and Eve were created, their DNA was perfect, so they passed on perfect DNA to their offspring.  In the process of time, mutations started creeping in, and the best way to minimize the negative effects of mutations was not to propagate them within a family.  Thomas says that, “The non-beneficial mutations always far outpace the beneficial, adding up relentlessly generation after generation and eventually leading to a catastrophic population collapse.”  But here we are!  The theory of evolution says that we should be improving, but that is not what the real evidence shows.

Will the human race eventually end up like the final clone in the Keaton movie?  Not hardly.  To those who belong to Him, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).  Furthermore, those who belong to Him will receive flawless bodies like His.  “[Jesus] 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 3:21).  Those who are not His will suffer an awful fate.  Jesus said, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).  “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).  There will be no bad copies in heaven.  Will you be there?

References:

More Mutations Mean More Diseases, Less Evolution

The Human Mutation Clock is Ticking

New Genomes Project Indicate a Young Human Race

Cain’s Wife:  It Really Does Matter!

Image credit:  http://www.123rf.com/photo_11713544_chromosomes–genetic-engineering.html

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, End Times, Evolution, Gospel, Religion, Theology

Born Gay

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

The notion that people are “born gay” is based on a flawed and biased study done in 1991 by researcher, Simon LeVay.[1]

LeVay’s study also had numerous technical problems. For instance, his samples included 19 brains of gays who died of AIDS and 16 brains from men whose sexual orientation was unknown. He assumed the 16 were heterosexual, even though 5 had died of AIDS. More importantly, although LeVay argued that a small INAH3 “caused” homosexuality, some of the gays had an INAH3 that was larger than the average size of the INAH3 of the “heterosexuals,” and some of the “heterosexuals” had an INAH3 that was smaller than those of gays. So some of his gays “should” have been heterosexual and vice-versa.[2]

INAH-3 is the short form for the third interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus, and is the sexually dimorphic nucleus of humans. The INAH-3 is significantly larger in males than in females regardless of age and larger in heterosexual males than in homosexual males and heterosexual females. Homologues of the INAH-3 have been observed taking a direct role in sexual behavior in rhesus monkeys, sheep, and rats.[3]

LeVay himself was a practicing homosexual, hence the bias in the study. The study’s findings were inconclusive and would be otherwise considered unscientific in its methods, but because some the homosexual men’s brains displayed this “abnormality,” the study was published as proof that gay men are born that way. However, Johns Hopkins recently came out with an article showing that there is no evidence for this claim.[4]

Aside from the science, the Bible rejects the notion of people “born gay.” God does not create a person to naturally do what He has denounced as an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5; Jude 1:7, et al.). No one can accuse God of making him/her that way (James 1:13-14). Homosexuality and all other forms of sexual perversions (sex outside of marriage, adultery, incest, etc.) is sin. Humans are sinners by choice, not by God’s design (Genesis 3), and because there is always a choice, God always provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). People sin willingly, and homosexuality is no different from any other sin.

Discrimination against homosexuals is no different from discrimination against people based on their ethnicity. Looking at it biblically, all people are created equal before God (Acts 17:26). Homosexuality is an act and a choice (like any other sin). A person’s ethnicity is not a choice, but no matter what the ethnicity, all people are “born” sinners. There is nothing wrong with associating with homosexuals. In fact, as Christians, we should show them the same love and respect that we show anyone else. However, that does not mean that God or we approve of their lifestyle, nor should we withhold the truth from them when challenged about their sinful lifestyle. We must share the truth “in love” even though the pill may be hard to swallow.

The truth is that we are all sinners in need of the Savior. If you do not know the Savior, see my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

 Notes:


[1] LeVay S A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men. Science 1991;253:1034-1037

[2]   Dr. Paul Cameron, “Born What Way?” http://www.familyresearchinst.org/2009/02/born-what-way/

[3]  INAH 3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INAH_3

[4]  Tyler O’Neil, “Johns Hopkins Research: No Evidence People Are Born Gay or Transgender,”  https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/08/23/johns-hopkins-research-no-evidence-people-are-born-gay-or-transgender/

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Origins, Science, Theology

Closed Borders

I found this meme on my Facebook news feed. I thought it was funny, so I shared it with my Facebook friends. One Christian brother was offended by the post, and his objection generated quite a conversation and inspired this blog post.

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)

Images of small children separated from their “parents” caught crossing our southern border illegally, and held in “cages” have aroused the ire of many Americans lately, especially Americans of “Christian” leanings. Like the images of snotty-nosed, emaciated children with sad, tear-stained faces broadcast by the Christian Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and others, or the pictures of abused and neglected dogs and cats displayed by the American Humane Society, these images are intended to wrench the gut and stir the emotions to incite a response. They are manipulative, and they work!

No one likes seeing children separated from parents, and worse, to have them put into cages like animals. What the viewer of such images fails to consider is that the camera lens offers a very narrow field of view. The camera is subject to the photographer (or editor, in the case of the news media). The camera only shows what those who control it want the viewer to see, and not what can be seen if the viewer were present. God gave humans eyes that surpass any manmade or man-directed camera a thousandfold. The images of children in cages rip our hearts apart, but those images are designed to do just that.

What the cameras fail to show are children turned over to “coyotes” who will smuggle them across the border for a (large) fee and with no guarantees. Many of those children were separated from their parents long before crossing the border. What the cameras fail to show are the semi-trailers in which those children are transported by the “coyotes” to the border. Some do not survive the trip. The inhumanity of it all originated long before they arrive at our border. What the cameras fail to show is the “upgrade” when they arrive in the US. They are provided with good food, clean bedding, and clothing, showers, personal hygiene needs, medical exams, etc. All the cameras show are the “cages,” which are nothing more than an area closed off by a chain-link fence to keep them from wandering off. The cameras display only selective “truth.”

The debate, when faced with such heart-wrenching images, is complex, and there are no simple answers especially when our immigration laws have been neglected for decades. (Laws which are not intended to be enforced should never be written!). The “hard” truth of the matter is that we are a nation of laws, and immigration law says, that immigrants to this country must enter with proper documentation and “permission.” The US is not unique in this respect. Mexico, who supplies most of these invaders[1] of our southern border (they are not all Mexican) enforces stricter immigration laws than the US. I would remind the reader of the Marine who recently went on a hunting expedition in Southern California and took a wrong turn ending up in Tijuana, Mexico. As he attempted to turn around, he was apprehended by Mexican police and immediately thrown into a Mexican prison. Thanks to the Obama administration, our honored service veteran remained in that Mexican prison for over one year before private citizens funded his release. Obviously, Mexico does not offer the same tolerance that it demands of the US.

What should the Christian response be on the question of the illegal invasion of our southern border? First, reject the false messages displayed by the television cameras, and try to separate emotions from reality. This does not mean we refuse to supply for the needs of our “uninvited” guests. We can help by supplying for their physical and especially for their spiritual needs.

Understand that borders are God’s design. God, “hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26, emphasis mine). This is NOT a racist statement because the first part of this verse clearly rejects the notion of “races.” God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26, emphasis mine). The source of these “bounds” goes all the way back to Genesis 11:1 when “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” God’s desire was for people to multiply and fill the earth. Instead, “they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4, emphasis mine). Because of their rebellion against God’s command, God confused the one language into 70 basic languages and nations, and they all scattered across the face of the earth. Nations, languages, and their borders are by God’s design from the beginning, so the notion of open borders is contrary to God’s design.

So, what does God have to say about how we treat uninvited invaders? The first example of how a “stranger” should be treated is provided in Exodus. The Passover (Law) was to be observed by Israelite and stranger alike (Exodus 12:48-49) – so much for “diversity.” Strangers are not to be mistreated. “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).

Many who protest against our “unjust” immigration laws cry out that “we are a nation of immigrants!” While this is true, what they forget (or purposely omit) is that in the past, immigrants entered by legal means. A visit to Ellis Island in New York tells the story of what immigrants of the past had to endure to gain entry into the US. Among other requirements, they had to demonstrate a desire to become “Americans,” to assimilate into the American society, and to obey American law. This is not at all what we see happening at our southern border.

Some suggest that these invaders are “asylum seekers.” While that may be true for some, it is a fallacy to characterize them all that way. Most of them are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and who can blame them! They only want a chance at the American dream, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Entering the country by breaking the law makes them criminals from the start. Let’s get real here! Even American citizens who break the law get separated from their children. Why is this any different? Some complain that the immigration laws are unjust. Fine! Change the law, but while there is law, it should be enforced equally for all. In the meantime, instead of complaining about the perceived mistreatment of the invaders, perhaps what Christians should do is minister to the needs of the illegal border crossers until they are returned to their homes or legal arrangements can be made for them to stay.

By the way, I am the son of an immigrant who came from Mexico. My father entered the US legally and carried a “green card” for many years until he became a naturalized citizen. He instilled in his sons love for this country, and he would strongly disapprove of waving the Mexican flag over the flag of the United States. One of the happiest days of his life was when he obtained his US citizenship. So as I approach this subject, it is not from a position of “hate” for people from south of our border. How could that be? I am of Mexican descent. As an American, I see the need for secure borders as a matter of national security, and as a Christian, I recognize that borders are God’s idea. Those who would open our borders to the world are no different than the people who attempted to build the Tower of  Babel. Additionally, open borders are a globalist ideology that will find its ultimate end in the reign of Antichrist. Think carefully before jumping on the open borders bandwagon.

 Notes:


[1]  “Invaders” seems like a harsh term. Nevertheless, it is an accurate term.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Random Musings

O Beautiful!

Mayflower Compact, Signed November 11, 1620

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)

President Obama insulted American Christians when he proclaimed to the world that America was not a Christian nation. He went on to announce that America was just as much of a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or any other religion of your choice nation. Christians rightly protested (without violence or destruction of public and private property) that America was indeed a Christian nation as enshrined in our founding documents.

Before setting foot on their “promised land” on November 11, 1620, the Pilgrims covenanted together “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith” to “combine” themselves “together into a civil body politic.” The Mayflower Compact later influenced the freedom pact declaring our nation’s independence on July 4, 1776, assuming “among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” The declaration went on to assert, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” After a long list of grievances, they made their appeal “to the Supreme Judge of the World” declaring their “firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence,” i.e., God.

The reliance on Divine Providence prompted the founders to include in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution, the First Amendment protecting freedom of religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The amendment also guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of the press and “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This First Amendment (and the Second that secures it) is under assault on many fronts. A plain reading of the text makes it clear that the government cannot impose one religion over another. At the same time, the government cannot prohibit the free practice of a citizen’s religion. Conspicuously, no restrictions exist on the exercise of religious practice – no restriction for the free practice in public, public schools, public buildings, public events, or any other such restrictions. However, put up a Nativity Scene in the public square, or the Ten Commandments at the county courthouse or on the wall of a public school, or offer a prayer at the start of a high school sports activity, and the ACLU will be out in full force looking for someone to sue. On what grounds? The ACLU will argue that such religious activity violates the “separation of church and state,” a phrase found nowhere in the Constitution. With the aid of unscrupulous judges, the ACLU intimidates victims without the resources to fight the litigation so that they give up without a fight. Slowly, the ACLU has eroded away the concept of religious liberty.

Now, legislation in various states, California in particular, slowly chips away at what remains of the First Amendment by declaring that any denunciation of sodomites is “hate speech” and therefore illegal. That destroys free speech. It destroys freedom of the press, which might even make the Bible illegal because it has much to say about deviant sex acts. It could follow that the freedom to peaceably assemble in a church that teaches against sodomy will be declared illegal, and forget about petitioning the government over such a grievance. There goes the First Amendment. Without the Second Amendment, which is systematically being picked apart, how can the First Amendment be defended?

Barack Obama was right. Whatever America used to be, it is no longer a Christian nation. I hear many Christians express optimism that we can turn around this nation. Many hope for national revival (2 Chronicles 7:14 – taken way out of context). I must admit, I do not share that optimism. That ship has sailed. America is no longer a Christian nation, and it will never again be a Christian nation. Christians – genuine, born-again, Bible-believing, evangelical Christians – in America are rapidly becoming the “remnant.” We can voice our complaints until our tonsils bleed, and nothing will change, except perhaps for the worst.

I do not mean to be a Gloomy Gus, nor do I want to be a Pollyanna. I want to be realistic, and I want to be biblical. While the Bible teaches that we are to submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-8) and that we should pray our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), we must recognize that our primary citizenship is not of this world, but the kingdom of Jesus Christ. “For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). In His high priestly prayer, Jesus affirmed, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). While America is not “the beautiful,” innocent virgin she once was, we who have placed our trust in Christ, are children of the King, (John 1:12) and citizens of His realm. While we remain and while He delays His return, we must turn our focus and our efforts to His Kingdom. The things of this earth, including America the Beautiful, are passing away (1 John 2:17), but His Kingdom will last forever (Luke 1:33). “When ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors” (Mark 13:29).

O, Beautiful! I lament your demise, but I rejoice knowing that the Lord will soon return, and He will truly make America great again – better than ever! Not only America, but His reign on earth will make the whole earth better than before. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

End-Times 102

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37)

In last week’s article, “End-Times 101,” I attempted to present a “high level” perspective of end-times prophecy because, for many Christians, end-times prophecy mystifies and confuses them. Much of this confusion comes from conflating the events of the seven-year Tribulation culminating in Jesus’ physical return to earth and the Rapture of the Church, which takes place before the Tribulation. As I pointed out in “End-Times 101,” end-times prophecy can be divided into four basic parts: (1) the Rapture of the Church, (2) the seven-year Tribulation, (3) the 1000-year reign of Christ on earth, and (4) the New Heavens and New Earth for eternity. However, most of the confusion centers around the events leading to and including the seven-year Tribulation before Jesus returns to earth to reign.

The time of Tribulation is a complex subject drawing information from several Old Testament prophets, none of which were given a complete picture of this time in future history. Furthermore, none of them, with perhaps the exception of Daniel, was given a complete sequence of events. Modern prophecy scholars must rely on “the whole counsel” of God’s Word to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, so it is unwise to take one teacher’s perspective and call it “Gospel.” We need to remember that we all “see in a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We are flawed human beings and prone to error. No one has it ALL right; however, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, we can have a good idea of what will take place during the Tribulation and the events that will lead to “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

All end-times prophecy centers on Israel. The prophet Daniel was told. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, emphasis mine). “Seventy weeks” literally means “seventy sevens (of years),” or 490 years. This time was to begin at the time that Cyrus the Great gave the command that the Jews could return from Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple (Daniel 9:25). Notice that the prophecy applies to Daniel’s people (the Jews) and Daniel’s holy city (Jerusalem). The specificity of this prophecy applies to all end-times prophecy. The purpose of God’s plan is to “make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity [i.e., make things right], and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy [i.e., conclude history as we know it], and to anoint the most Holy [i.e., establish Jesus’ reign on earth]. There is nothing here about “the Church.” To the Old Testament prophets, the Church was a “mystery” (Ephesians 5:32).

Daniel’s seventy weeks is divided into seven weeks (49 years), 62 weeks (434 years) and one week (seven years). Opinions differ on the significance of first 49 years (seven weeks), and I do not want to add to the confusion. However, the seven weeks and 62 weeks add up to 69 weeks (one short of 70) or 483 years. At the end of this time, Daniel predicts the coming of Messiah (Daniel 9:26) at which time Messiah will be “cut off,” i.e., killed. Scholars have calculated and determined that from the time Cyrus decreed that the Jews were to return to their land (c. 445 BC[1]) unto the day Jesus made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. In that same week, Jesus was “cut off.”

Daniel’s prophecy then predicts a “prince” that will destroy the city and the temple and bring an end to the sacrifices. He will come with an army (“a flood”) and at the end of war bring “desolation” (Daniel 9:26). This prophecy has been fulfilled twice: the first time by Antiochus IV Epiphanes around 164 BC, and the second time by the Roman general Titus in 70 AD. It was this second destruction that left Jerusalem (and all of Palestine) desolate for almost 2000 years. However, the prophecy reveals a third “prince” that will come. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine). That “week” is the last of the 70 weeks of years determined for Israel. The difference between this “prince” and those that come before is that he “confirms” (not “makes”) a covenant (or “treaty”) with “many” for seven years (one week).

This seven-year period is the Tribulation, and it is not intended for the Church. Remember, it is a time determined for Daniel’s people and Daniel’s holy city (Daniel 9:24). The “prince,” aka, Antichrist, will be revealed when he enforces (“confirms”) a peace treaty with “many.” In context, this would be Israel and all her “many” enemies that would see her destroyed. For years, many tried to predict who Antichrist might be, but in reality, this is wasted effort for the church, since the church will not be on the scene when the Antichrist arrives. In speaking of the appearance of this “man of sin,” the Apostle Paul says, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [or “restrains”] will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7, emphasis mine). “He who now restrains” is the Holy Spirit who works in the lives of believers. When that Restrainer is “taken out of the way,” then “then shall that Wicked [one] be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:8), and the Tribulation begins.

The Rapture of the Church comes “as a thief in the night,” but it will precede the Tribulation. We cannot predict with certainty the time of the Rapture, but the events during the Tribulation are predictable according to Scripture. Knowing the events that will take place during the Tribulation helps us to forecast the proximity of the Rapture.

Daniel characterized the end as a time when “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4). By land, we can traverse the US from coast to coast in a matter of three or four days. By air, the journey takes a matter of hours. A little more than a century ago, the same trip took about a year and four months.[2] According to “industry tap,” knowledge currently doubles every 12 months, and they predict it will soon double every 12 hours.[3]

The prophet Ezekiel tells of a coming invasion of Israel by a confederacy of nations from the north (Ezekiel 38-39). The prophet identifies these nations as Magog (Russia), Meshech (Georgia) and Tubal (Turkey). God says to Gog, the leader of Magog (V. Putin), “I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army” (Ezekiel 38:4, emphasis mine). Along with this, the prophet also names Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, and Libya. With the exception of Ethiopia, these nations are majority Muslim, and their hatred for Israel is well known. Today we see the amassing of Russian and Iranian troops near Syria’s southern border with Israel. Russia (Magog) has aligned itself with Turkey, Syria, and Iran. While Russia is not openly hostile toward Israel, it does have interest in Israel’s newfound gas and oil reserves. Israel’s newfound treasure threatens Russia’s energy market with Europe as Israel builds a gas pipeline to deliver cheaper gas to Europe. This competition has the potential to incite Russia to attack Israel. When this takes place, Israel’s allies will be unable to help other than to protest the invasion. “Sheba, and Dedan [Saudi Arabia], and the merchants of Tarshish [Spain/Europe], with all the young lions thereof [some think this refers to Britain and the US], shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13). Israel’s allies will be helpless to do anything more than complain. Considering the Christian population of the US and, to a less extent, Britain and Europe, the Rapture will deal such a blow to these nations that their governments, military, and their economies will be in such shambles that they will be unable to help. Israel will be completely on her own except for God. “And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face” (Ezekiel 38:18). This is yet a future event, but we can see the stage being set for the unfolding of this drama.

Of the Tribulation, Jesus said “ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6). Critics might be quick to point out that “wars and rumors of wars” have existed since time began. However, scoffers too are a sign of the end-times. “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, emphasis mine). These scoffers forget that end-times prophecy centers on Israel and Jerusalem and not the world in general even though these events will affect the whole world. From 70 AD to 1948, Israel vanished from the earth as a nation. The Jews were scattered to the four corners of the globe (yes, I know a globe does not have corners!). Therefore, all those other wars are irrelevant to end-times prophecy. For these events to fulfill Bible prophecy, Israel must be a nation, Jerusalem must be the capital, and the Temple must be rebuilt. Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948. Despite being scattered all over the world, the Jewish people retained their “Jewishness.” Even the Hebrew language, once thought to be a dead language, is restored and in use as the official language of Israel. On May 14, 2018, 70 years after Israel’s rebirth, President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel and the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Temple is not built, but all the implements of the Temple are ready. The priests are in training to carry out the ministry of the temple. The plans and the materials for the Temple are ready for the building. The only thing that remains is for the order to be given to build. Scoffers may scoff, but the stage is being set.

Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17, 21 record Jesus’ words about the end times – the time of Tribulation. Revelation 4-19 goes into great detail about the events that will take place during that terrible seven-year period. Those who belong to the Church, the Bride, of Christ, need not worry about going through that awful time. However, we must be alert and watch. Jesus said, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28, emphasis mine). We see these things “beginning” to come to pass. We see the stage being set. The time is near. Look up! Lift up your heads! Your redemption is drawing near!

Notes:


[1]  The time is calculated based on a biblical year of 360 days.

[2]  http://www.answers.com/Q/How_long_did_it_take_to_cross_the_US_in_covered_wagon

[3]  http://www.industrytap.com/knowledge-doubling-every-12-months-soon-to-be-every-12-hours/3950

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