Category Archives: End Times

Jesus And The Fig Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later in the week as Jesus sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, they asked Him for signs of the last days and the end of the world. The detailed description of the last days, known as the “Olivet Discourse,” is found in all three Synoptic Gospels.[9] “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, Jesus said the times would be discernible, and He used the fig tree to illustrate. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:32-34, emphasis mine).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:


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

[2]  Matthew 21:8-13; Luke 19:35-46

[3]  1 Corinthians 14:33

[4]  John 11:2

[5]  Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-13

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

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

[8]  Luke 13:6-9

[9]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

[10]  Matthew 21:33-41

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Jesus And Genesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 1:1

[2]  Genesis 1:1-5

[3]  Genesis 1:11-12

[4]  Genesis 1:14-16

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

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

[7]  Genesis 4:1-8

[8]  John 1:1-3

[9]  Genesis 1:26-27

[10]  John 1:14; Philippians 2:7-8

[11]  Genesis 4:4

[12]  Genesis 4:15

[13]  John 10:9

 

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Feet Only

Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. (John 13:10)

On the evening before His crucifixion, Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples. The Apostle John records in his Gospel that Jesus “laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself” (John 13:4) and proceeded to wash the feet of His disciples.

In those days, the majority of travel was done on foot. The footwear of the day protected only the sole of the feet leaving the rest of the feet exposed to the elements. Most of the roads were no more than dirt trails so that feet collected a good amount of road dirt.

It was customary for the host of a house to welcome the traveler by washing the road dirt off their feet. This task was assigned to the lowest servant or the youngest member of the household. For whatever reason, no one performed the customary foot washing at this house, perhaps because it was a private gathering not hosted by the homeowner.

Whatever the reason, Jesus chose this time to give an object lesson. Jesus rose from the table, removed his outer garment, took a towel, and some water, and performed the task of the lowliest servant. Jesus washed all of the disciples’ feet, but when he got to Peter, Peter protested. “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” (John 13:6). Peter was not being “holier than thou,” in his refusal to have Jesus wash his feet. Perhaps, as he watched Jesus wash the other’s feet, he thought, “Why didn’t someone else do that? The Master should not be the one doing that! Maybe I should be the one washing feet.” Whatever may have crossed his mind, it was obvious that he was humiliated that his Lord should lower Himself to that position.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7). We seldom know what God is doing in our lives when we go through trials, but when we look back on our lives, we can see how God directed our circumstances for our good.[1] Peter did not get the lesson; “Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.” (John 13:8-10).

Jesus washed all of the disciples’ feet. They did not need a bath; only their feet needed washing, but Jesus said not all were clean. The unclean one to whom Jesus referred as Judas Iscariot who would betray Him. It’s not that Judas failed to take his Sabbath Day mikvah; Jesus referred to Judas’ spiritual condition, not his physical cleanliness. Therefore, the significance of the foot-washing act goes deeper than road grime.

The disciples were “clean” because they believed that Jesus was their expected Messiah. When Jesus had asked, “Whom do you say that I am?” Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The key to salvation (i.e., cleansing) is “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). Obviously, Judas had not believed: therefore, he was not clean.

As we traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Franklin Graham 2020 Prayer March[2] last week, this topic came up in our conversation. My brother Eli made a very interesting analogy applicable to the Church today. Like Jesus’ disciples (and we too are disciples) we walk around in this filthy world every day, and the grime of the world cannot help but stick to our “spiritual feet.” Then, every time we gather for worship and fellowship, we have the opportunity to wash each other’s feet. We do not need a bath because the Bible says that “ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Our “spiritual” feet only need washing. Therefore, the Bible encourages us to gather together. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure waterNot forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:22, 25, emphasis mine). Our gathering together is the way we wash each other’s feet by praying for each other and encouraging one another in the faith.

Another parallel that can be drawn from this account is that not all are clean. The twelve apostles walked with Jesus for three years of His earthly ministry, yet one of them was lost, i.e., not clean, the entire time. In the same way, not all within the Church are all saved. Some practice all the “right things” on the outside, but inwardly they have not truly believed. Jesus referred to these as “tares.”[3] When He returns for His Bride, the Church, these will be left behind. For now, feet only need washing if you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ. If not, you need a bath. If you are not sure of your standing before God, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Romans 8:28-29

[2]  https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/10/01/reflections-on-the-washington-2020-prayer-march/

[3]  Matthew 13:24-30

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Trumpets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:


[1]  Exodus 19

[2]  Exodus 20

[3]  Daniel 9:24-27

[4]  Revelation 1:10

[5]  Revelation 2-3

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

[7]  Daniel 9:27

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

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National Revival

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)

This oft-repeated verse offers a tenuous hope for American Evangelicals that, if we only put its tenets into practice, God will keep His end of the deal and heal the trouble in our land. However, as I have asserted in the past[1], this verse is taken out of context and misapplied. If Israel’s history can teach us anything, it is that God has His limits when He will no longer hear the pleas for a nation.[2]

Recent history teaches us that, in regard to God, Americans are a fickle people. Following one disaster after another, America has turned to God in repentance only to return to its vomit[3] as soon as things get better. We find ourselves in a mess again. The Wuhan Bug paralyzed our nation with fear. Everywhere you look you find masked people avoiding contact with one another. You can even see masked people driving cars or walking outdoors. Fear over COVID-19 has shut church doors for fear of retribution by authorities and also for fear of spreading the virus.[4]

Unrestrained rioting in the streets of many of our major cities adds to the fear of many Americans, and everyone can see that our country is in serious trouble. Consequently, many evangelical leaders call on American Christians to pray for revival in our nation (again). They sincerely believe the promise that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16), and we can reverse the course our nation. Without getting into differences of eschatological views, many of these believe that through the hard work of prayer, Christians will turn the world around and usher in the millennial reign of Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah encountered a similar optimist in Hananiah.[5] God had already told Jeremiah that Judah would go into Babylonian captivity, and to demonstrate by way of an object lesson, God instructed Jeremiah to carry around a heavy ox yoke to illustrate the bondage into which Judah was going. However, Hananiah painted a different picture, “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 28:2), and he took the yoke off of Jeremiah and broke it to demonstrate what God would do. But that was not God’s plan, and Judah soon came under the yoke of Babylon for 70 years. Hananiah, the false optimistic prophet, did not live out the year for speaking falsely in the name of the Lord.

I am not a prophet, at least not like those through whom God spoke in the Bible. But I do study the Word, and I try to see the world through the lens of Scripture. In Scripture, God’s “chosen” people were punished for their disobedience and their idolatry – which involved sexual perversion and infanticide in their worship. If God so dealt with “His” chosen nation what makes us think that we will fare better just because we pray? Not every person in Judah was corrupt. Take for example Daniel, Hananiah (not the false prophet), Mishael, and Azariah;[6] they went into Babylonian captivity and they maintained their devotion to God. Surely there were others, but that did not stop God from punishing the “nation” of Judah for their sin. Nor will He save our nation at this point for our national sins even though “His people” pray.

Consider the downward spiral of sin described in Romans 1:18-32 and compare that to our nation. Our nation holds truth in unrighteousness. Our nation denies God and promotes the idea that all things came into existence by natural causes, and though they cannot prove their ideas, they invent “just so” stories and present them as facts. We profess ourselves to be wise, but indeed we are fools and only deceive ourselves. Rather than worship the Creator, we worship the creation and in our own feebleness attempt desperate measures to protect the planet (The Green New Deal).  As a consequence of our denial of God, He has turned over our nation to perverse lusts “to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (v. 24). Think about the various ways we disfigure our bodies through tattoos, body piercings, the unnatural coloring of hair, other types of mutilations, homosexual perversions of all kinds, etc. God has turned over our nation to the “vile affections” of homosexuality – women with women, men with men, and even the sexual perversion of children. God has given over our people to “reprobate minds” so that they are incapable of reasonable thought. Simply consider the irrational reasoning they offer in support of some of their crazy ideas about climate change, about abortion, about the benefits of socialism, etc. Does it seem that the world has lost its collective mind? It has because God has allowed it as punishment for our sin.

Look at how Paul’s description perfectly fits America today. “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication [any sex outside the bonds of marriage], wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:29-32, emphasis mine). Does that not fit America today?

Do you know what God told Jeremiah about praying for the people of his day? God said, “Don’t pray for these people.”[7] Their grace period had expired. I fear America’s grace period has also expired, and God is saying, “Don’t pray for these people.” The train is hurtling downhill fast and the brakes are out. Our Lord’s return gets closer by the day. Every new fire ignited by lawless rioters brings us closer. Every murder that takes place closes the gap. Every baby that is aborted draws the noose tighter. Jesus is the only fix to this broken world.

Still, we pray. We are instructed to pray for our leaders[8] that we might live “peaceable” lives, but that does not necessarily equate to praying for the salvation of a too-far-gone nation. I could be wrong, but as I have searched the New Testament, I do not find any admonition to pray for the nation, the leaders yes, but not the nation. I would like to see a national revival, but I sincerely doubt that it will happen. Our national track record in that regard testifies to the improbability of that happening. Still, my baby brother and I will join thousands of others on the Mall in Washington DC on September 26 for a Franklin Graham sponsored prayer march on the nation’s capital.[9] We will march from the Lincoln Memorial, past the Washington Monument and on to the steps of the Capitol. We will march, and we will pray as we go. If the direction of the nation is to change, our leaders need to change either physically or spiritually.

National revival is improbable, but not impossible. Who knows! Our Lord may delay His coming, but His judgment is not only for our nation but for the whole world. The entire world needs repentance. If only our nation repents, it may not stop the judgment that is coming upon the whole world. In any rate, it would be great if our nation experienced a national revival. We can pray.

Notes:


[1]  “If My People” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/08/21/if-my-people/

[2]  “When God Won’t Hear” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/07/17/when-god-wont-hear/

[3]  2 Peter 2:22

[4]  “Fear Not” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/16/fear-not/

[5]  Jeremiah 28

[6]  Daniel 1:6

[7]  Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11

[8]  1 Timothy 2:1-2

[9]  Washington Prayer March 2020 – https://prayermarch2020.com/

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