Category Archives: Evangelism

I’m Scared

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

I went in search of toilet paper and found all the store shelves empty. I made several trips to different stores and came back empty-handed. The brilliant idea came to me to check Amazon.Com for toilet paper. Amazon.Com has everything, but they too were all out of toilet paper. Throughout my ventures, I found shelves empty of drinking water, disinfectants, hamburger meat, chicken, pork, eggs and other “essentials.” What I found were well-stocked shelves of snacks of all kinds, beer, wine, and soft drinks. In their panic, people are leaving all the non-essentials and hoarding the absolute necessities in preparation for Armageddon!  But that’s not what scares me.

In my visit to my doctors’ offices, I am asked whether I am experiencing fever, aches, and pains, or any kind of flu-like symptoms. I received a message from one of my doctors (I expect to get more) telling me to stay away if I have any flu-like symptoms, have traveled to a Coronavirus[1]-infected country, or have knowingly come in contact with someone who has. But that’s not what scares me.

Everywhere draconian measures have been put in place limiting gatherings of 10 or more people. The government advises citizens to remain in their homes except for essential necessities or health emergencies. Nursing homes are preventing families from visiting residents for fear of spreading infection. But that’s not what scares me.

People everywhere are losing their source of income because their places of employment are closing down. People cannot go out to eat in restaurants anymore because of the aforementioned edicts against gathering in public places. We cannot go to the movies or to the mall. All movement has been restricted. That said, airlines are losing money because no one is traveling and also because most passenger airplanes hold more than ten people. All of this impacts the economy. When people cannot work, they cannot earn money. If they cannot earn money, they cannot buy the things they need, much less the things they want. One thing affects another. It all ties together, and we see the markets plummet. But that’s not what scares me.

I am a student of end-times prophecy. I am not an expert, but I follow many who are. I am attuned not only to the Covid-19-saturated news in our country that largely ignores the rest of the world. I like to pay attention to the happenings in the Middle East, Israel, and the end-time players mentioned in the end-times prophecies recorded in the Bible. The Gog-Magog invasion of Israel mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39 is being staged. The desolation of Damascus mentioned in Isaiah 17:1 is almost complete. The signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24 – wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation (ethnic group against ethnic group), pestilences (like the Wuhan virus), famines, earthquakes in diverse places (we just had one in Utah), etc., are beginning to take place. As He said, “All these are [just] the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26). Of course, Jesus’ prediction referred to the “Great Tribulation,”[2] but we see the precursors taking place right now. But that’s not what scares me.

I’m scared for my sons, my daughters-in-law, and my grandchildren who will not listen to my pleas that they turn to Jesus. When Jesus calls me home, they will experience the awful time of Tribulation. If the Tribulation does not change their minds and their hearts, then they face an eternity in hell. They do not like to hear that, and that scares me.

I know many people with whom I have shared the Gospel and they turned a deaf ear to my words. There are many who I do not know that reject the Gospel whether from a loving friend or a preacher on the radio. That scares me.

The end draws near. Jesus may call His church home at any moment. We see the previews of the coming Tribulation, so we know the time is close. I’m scared for all those I love and even those I don’t know who don’t know Christ. What they will face will be far worse than what we are experiencing now. I’m scared for them.

Reader, if you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you need to meet Him now, before you meet Him later. The Bible says that in the end every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,[3] but then it will be too late. Invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior right now. Learn how at “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Wuhan Bug” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/03/15/wuhan-bug/

[2]  Matthew 24:21

[3]  Philippians 2:10

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Filed under Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Evangelism, Gospel, Hell, Random Musings, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ

Wuhan Bug

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

It saturates the news media ad nauseam. Of course, I refer to the Wuhan virus, aka coronavirus, aka covid-19 virus. The politically correct object to the association of the new bug with Wuhan China claiming that the term is racist and xenophobic. They protest so loudly that now the Chinese have taken up the outcry refusing to take responsibility for the pandemic.

However, the protest is misplaced since the source of the virus is Wuhan China. When news first broke, it was reported that the virus escaped from a bioresearch lab in Wuhan. Due to the mishap, “the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology released a new directive titled: ‘Instructions on strengthening biosecurity management in microbiology labs that handle advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus.’”[1] Since then, the media have quashed the story choosing rather to go with Chinese propaganda that the virus originated in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.[2] Supposedly, this coronavirus resides in the digestive tract of certain bats sold in the market, and it probably contaminated the meat through improper cleaning. At least, that’s the story.

The Wuhan lab is the only lab in China that handles “advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus.”[3] “Novel” suggests something new, something never seen before. You can read the New York Post article already noted (below) and draw your own conclusions, but I have my own suspicions. That lab serves no other purpose than to develop biological weapons for the Chinese military. To confirm my suspicion, following the escape of the virus, “the People’s Liberation Army’s top expert in biological warfare, a Maj. Gen. Chen Wei, was dispatched to Wuhan at the end of January to help with the effort to contain the outbreak.”[4] The Chinese genetically modified this virus to do what it does, and it got away from them. That explains why they refused help from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Face it, the Chinese have no regard for human life. Their only interest is world dominance. The Chinese are not the only ones that have such goals. All Godless countries harbor the same desires. The Wuhan virus is just one of those “secret weapons” that got away from them.

Surely the reader has heard much about Covid-19. There is a lot of speculation about it because it is novel and our researchers are working day and night to get a handle on it. What is insidious about this virus is that a person can be infected with the Wuhan bug and not show any symptoms for up to 14 days. In the meantime, the carrier can infect others unknowingly. For this reason, the virus can spread rapidly as evidenced by the rapid spread of the pandemic around the world. While currently, the Wuhan bug is less prevalent than the flu, it is almost four times as deadly, especially for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

The panic caused by the Wuhan virus has resulted in some irrational actions taken by many here in the United States. President Trump wisely shut down travel to and from areas with widespread infections. He has been criticized by those on the left for this action. On the other hand, those on the left, like the leaders of Dallas County, have taken extreme measures by imposing a limit on large gatherings to fewer than 500 attendees. This in effect shuts down churches with congregations of over 500 from holding worship services. To be fair, the edict affects any large gatherings such as sporting events and concerts. People everywhere are cleaning out grocery store shelves by buying out toilet paper, disinfectant supplies, medicines, etc. as if preparing for Armageddon!

The fact is that one is relatively safe as long as one has not traveled to infected areas abroad or come in contact with someone who has. Otherwise, the same measures taken to prevent the flu are sufficient to prevent this disease.

Christians, of all people, should be the ones with “sound minds” and not react out of fear. That this pandemic has spread around the world so rapidly should not come as a surprise to us either. Jesus told us that such things would come in the last days just prior to His return. Jesus said, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7, emphasis mine). By the way, have you heard about the biblical swarms of locusts that have devastated crops in the Middle East and Africa and are moving toward Europe? This can lead to famines. And the Coronavirus qualifies as “pestilences.” And according to Jesus, there’s more to come. He said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8, emphasis mine).

In Matthew 24, the “signs” of the last days that Jesus gave referred to the “great tribulation,”[5] i.e., the seven years prior to His return. We are not yet living in those times, but the fact that we see these things happening now should alert us to the proximity of that event.

The Christian who has placed his life in Jesus’ hands should be ready at any moment to hear the Savior say, “Come up here!”[6] To be ready means to actively tell others about salvation through Jesus Christ while time remains. At any moment, Jesus can call us home either by the Rapture or by the Wuhan virus. Either way, we have a great reward waiting for us. But, what about your friend or a loved one? Are they ready? If not, what are you doing about it?

Reader, if you don’t know Jesus, the Wuhan virus is the least of your worries. Why not give your heart to Jesus right now. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Don’t buy China’s story: The coronavirus may have leaked from a lab,” New York Post, February 22, 2020 — https://nypost.com/2020/02/22/dont-buy-chinas-story-the-coronavirus-may-have-leaked-from-a-lab/

[2]  “2019–20 coronavirus pandemic” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_coronavirus_pandemic

[3]  New York Post, February 22, 2020.

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  Matthew 24:21

[6]  Revelation 4:1

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

A Soul

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4)

What comes to mind when you think of “a soul”? For most of my life, I imagined a soul as some ethereal, intangible, wispy inhabitant of our body that occupied our being that then departed when the physical body died. I suppose most people look at a soul in much the same way. Dictionary.com defines a soul as: (1) the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part; (2) the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come; (3) the disembodied spirit of a deceased person; (4) the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments; (5) a human being; person (emphasis mine).[1]

That last definition, I think, is the biblical understanding of “a soul.” In the Genesis account of the creation of man, I envision God (Jesus, in His pre-incarnate form) bending over a mass of reddish clay molding the human form. Scripture records, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “formed” is yâtsar, and it carries the idea of squeezing something into shape; to mold into the desired shape as a potter molds and forms a clay vessel. The idea goes well considering the construction material used – dust.

With the body plan complete, God, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine). The Hebrew words translated “breathed” and “breath” are related. From the English translation, we can see that the former is a verb and the latter is a noun. The Hebrew words are nâphach and neshâmâh respectively and both mean “a puff.” The word “soul” is also related: nephesh. It means “living creature” and it can refer to either a human being or an animal. Yes, as defined here, animals have “souls” (nephesh); however, they do not possess that special neshâmâh of life “puffed” into humans by God.

This puff of life from God caused God’s mud sculpture to rise and become a living soul with a physical body, mind, and neshâmâh (breath/spirit of life). A triune creature created in the image of God[2] hitherto known as “a living soul.” God is triune in nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Collectively we just say, “God.” Man, made in the image of God, is triune in nature: mind, body, and spirit. Collectively, the Bible refers to the unit as “a soul.”

There are many examples where this becomes obvious, but I will keep the list brief. The first example following the creation account comes when Abraham travels to Egypt and tries to pass off Sarah, his wife, as his sister. He tells Sarah, “Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee” (Genesis 12:13). “My soul” (nephesh) here does not refer to his “spirit.” Abraham feared for his life – his physical life.

Later, when God confirmed His covenant with Abraham, God required that he and all males within his household be circumcised.[3] Disobedience to this command carried a penalty. “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:14). “That soul” (nephesh) refers to the whole person not just his spirit. Interestingly, in the account of Abraham rescuing his nephew Lot and others, the word nephesh is translated “persons” (Genesis 14:21).

Genesis 27 records the account of Jacob “stealing” his brother’s blessing by deceiving his father, Isaac. In the passage, “my soul” appears twice and “thy soul” shows up two times.[4] The meaning in each case is somewhat ambiguous; however it seems clear that its use refers to the whole person. More examples could be cited in Genesis, but other examples will help solidify my point.

Exodus records that “all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls” (Exodus 1:5, emphasis mine). Obviously, this refers to people, not disembodied spirits. Then when God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, God assured him that, “all the men are dead which sought thy life” (Exodus 4:19). The Hebrew word translated “thy life” is nephesh (soul). With regard to keeping the Sabbath, God said, “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Exodus 31:14, emphasis mine). Again we see that “a soul” is a person.

The book of Leviticus offers many examples where the word “soul” (nephesh) refers to an individual. Here is one example: “if a soul touch any unclean thing … he also shall be unclean, and guilty” (Leviticus 5:2). To touch requires a physical body. Regarding the prohibition against eating blood: “No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood” (Leviticus 17:12). Again, it requires a physical body to eat blood.

There are 420 occurrences of the word “soul” in the Old Testament and nearly twice as many occurrences of the Hebrew word nephesh translated in other forms, for example, life, creature, persons, man, mind, et al. In the majority of occurrences, the word refers to the whole person. There is at least one instance in which the word seems to refer to the spirit of one who has died. Of Rachel’s death in childbirth, Scripture records, “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin” (Genesis 35:18). However, we may infer that when the spirit of a person departs from the body, that person is no longer whole, and therefore no longer “a soul.” The “person” is gone; only the shell remains. The soul has departed.

My conclusion is that “a soul” is the entire person: mind, body, and spirit. According to our beginning verse, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4). We all die sooner or later; however, death, in this case, is not merely the cessation of life. This death separates the soul from the Source of Life for eternity. This is the “second death” spoken of in Revelation 20:14-15, “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” (emphasis mine). Jesus warned, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30, emphasis mine). The “soul” – the whole person, mind, body and spirit – that sins shall suffer the eternal consequences of “the second death.”

There is no loss of consciousness in the “second death.” That soul is very much alive and aware of his surroundings. Jesus spoke of such a one whose only sin was self-centeredness.[5] Of course, a self-centered person has no need for God, which is ultimately what landed him in hell. “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23, emphasis mine). Because the soul is the whole person, he could feel the flames of hell, and he could see what he had missed. Later on, he has a sense of concern for his five brothers who are still alive, and he requests that Lazarus be sent back to earth to go warn his brothers about this awful place. Hell apparently does nothing to change his self-centered, selfish ways. His concern is only for his brothers and not for the millions of souls in the same condition.

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4) – mind, body and spirit. In what condition is your soul today? If you are breathing, and reading this blog, and you really don’t know, there is hope, and you can settle it right now. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Soul” – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/soul#

[2]  Genesis 1:27

[3]  Genesis 17:1-14

[4]  Genesis 27: 4, 19, 25, 31

[5]  Luke 16:19-31

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Ye of Little Faith

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

The African impala can jump to a height of over ten feet and cover a distance of more than thirty feet (in the jump).  Yet these magnificent creatures can be securely contained in zoos with no more than a three-foot wall.  You see the animals will not jump unless they can see where their feet will fall.  Far too often, we are rendered useless to God because we are unwilling to trust Him with what is unknown (to us).  When He calls on us to take a leap of faith, we are unwilling to obey because we cannot see where our feet will fall.  In his many years of walking with God, Abraham had come to a place in his life where he could absolutely trust God no matter what God might ask of him — including sacrificing his only son.

Genesis 22 opens with the phrase “Now it came about after these things,” (v. 1).  After what things?  Beginning in Chapter 12 of Genesis, the story of Abraham unfolds.  At the age of 75, after being well established in the city of Ur, God told Abraham (Abram at that time) to pack up his belongings, leave his home and family and go to some undisclosed land with the promise that God would make of him a great nation.  So Abram trusted and obeyed God even though he had no idea where his feet would fall.  For ten more years Abram wandered the deserts of Canaan without ever finding a place that he could call his own, but he believed God would keep His word.  Then at the age of 85, God once again paid Abram a visit to reconfirm His promise to make of him a great nation.  This time, Abram just had to ask, “O Lord GOD, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:2).  Again, God assured him that he would indeed procreate and be the father of many nations. Then, in order to help God out with His plan a bit (and how many of us have ever been guilty of that?), Sarai (Sarah) considering the fact that she was no spring chicken and had been barren all these many years, proposed a solution.[1]  She offered her handmaid to Abram so that he might sire a child through her.  That makes sense, humanly speaking. We might have suggested the same thing today along with fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization.  We might even justify it by saying that we are putting “feet to our prayers.”  At any rate, it was a feeble attempt to help God out with His plan, but a surrogate mother was not what God had in mind.  So Abram waited another fourteen years and again God paid him a personal visit to reconfirm His promise.  By now, Abram is 99 years old and Sarai is 89.  God had promised, and Abram had waited.  He still had no homeland that he could call his own, no child “of promise” that would engender a nation, and he was getting really old!  Yet Abram believed God, and at the ripe old age of 100, God granted the old couple a son, Isaac – “laughter”!

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham …” (Genesis 22:1).  Now, before we accuse God of child abuse or bloodthirstiness, please notice that this was a “test.”  It was only a test, but Abraham did not know that.  “A and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”  (Don’t you just love it when you call your son or your daughter by name and they answer immediately, “Yes, Dad!” or “Yes, Mom!”  Of course, just the opposite is true when you call them and there is a deliberate silence.)  “Here I am.”  Whatever God wanted, Abraham was ready.

Then God said, And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:2). Wow!  Can you imagine!  By now Isaac was between 16 and 22 years old, and Abraham was between 116 and 122, and Sarah between 106 and 112.  And God had not missed the fact that Isaac was Abraham’s “only son” – the son whom he loved.  Oh, the pain that must have pierced the heart of Abraham!  In the movie, The Bible (1966), Abraham is portrayed as rebellious at first.  “No!  No!” he growls at God as he beats his fists into a desert rock, but ultimately he complies.  That is not how the Bible portrays Abraham.  Yes, his heart must have ached, but look at how he responds.  “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3).  Abraham did not hesitate.  He did not question.  He just obeyed.  Again, at least for the second time in his life, Abraham was going to some undisclosed location – in the “land of Moriah … on one of the mountains of which I will tell you” – not knowing where his feet would fall – just because God told him to do it.

After a three-day’s journey, they arrived at the general vicinity of the sacrifice.  Abraham instructed his two servants to remain with the donkey and says, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Genesis 22:5, emphasis mine).  What could Abraham have been thinking?  “We will come again to you?”  Was he forgetting something here?  Did God not tell him to offer Isaac up as a burnt offering?  Some have suggested that Abraham said this in order to conceal what he was about to do from his servants.  That makes sense.  Isaac, being the only son of Abraham, was probably the darling of the whole household.  Surely if Abraham had divulged his plans to his servants, he would have met with opposition.  But I think there is more to it than that.  The writer of the book of Hebrews says that Abraham “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” (Hebrews 11:19).  “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3). He could not see where his feet would fall, but he knew God was well in control.

As they traveled up the mountain, Isaac asked the obvious question, “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:7-8). Can you picture the scene?  There, Abraham leads the way with calm assurance and determination on his face, fully trusting his heavenly Father.  There, Isaac follows not knowing what lies ahead, but he too trusts his earthly father.  What a pair those two must have made!  “God will provide for Himself the lamb!”

Finally, they came to the place that God had designated, Mount Moriah.  The Bible tells us that this very place was the site upon which the Temple would be built.[2]  Oblivious to God’s plan and going only on what God had instructed him to do, Abraham built the altar, prepared the wood, bound his son, his only son, Isaac, and placed him on the altar.  Imagine this! Here was a strong young man who by now knew exactly what was about to happen, and yet he complied with his father’s will. Isaac could have very easily overpowered the 116-plus-year old Abraham and said, “No, sir!  I will not be roasted!”  This was a test of Abraham’s faith, but Isaac’s faith should not be discounted.  He willingly complied with his father’s wishes.  There he lay, on the stack of wood that he had carried up the mountain on his back, looking full into his father’s face as Abraham, knife in hand, raises his hand to strike the lethal blow.  Abraham, his eyes raised toward heaven, unable to look into his beloved son’s eyes, not knowing where his feet would fall, was fully committed to God and to His will.  In Abraham’s mind, the sacrifice was completed.  Isaac was God’s!

Two thousand years later on the same hill, another Father and another Son would replay the same scene, but this time, God intervened.  “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I” (Genesis 22:11).  Once again, Abraham was ready to obey his Lord’s command.  And Jesus said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12).

Why do I say that this was Jesus speaking to Abraham?  For one thing, Abraham had received his orders directly from God, and no subordinate angel could have made him deviate from what God had told him to do directly; only God Himself could have changed Abraham’s orders.  Secondly, how could an ordinary angel say, “You have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me?”  Abraham was not offering Isaac up to an angel but to God.  And finally, Jesus would later remind the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).

So Jesus prevents Abraham from completing the physical act of sacrifice. Isaac was now fully offered both by his father and by himself.  The father yielded up his son, the son gave up his life; from both parties, as far as will and purpose could go, the sacrifice was complete.  There was no need for Abraham to endure the torture of running the knife through his son.  In his mind and in his heart, he had made the sacrifice.  And God said, “for now I know that thou fearest God” (Genesis 22:12).  Is it possible that God did not know that prior to the test?  Could the omniscient, the all-knowing, God, the God that searches the hearts and minds of men, have been ignorant of Abraham’s faith and devotion to Him?  Impossible!  God knew exactly what Abraham would do.  He knew that Abraham would do just as He commanded even to the point of giving up his only son.  God did not need any proof for Himself.  The test was for Abraham.  Abraham is the one that needed to know just how far he was willing to go for God.  Abraham was the one that needed to know that he could implicitly trust God to provide all of his needs “according to his riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19).  And Isaac, the heir to God’s promises needed to know that too, because neither Abraham nor Isaac would ever see the day when Abraham would become a great nation.  Neither one of them would ever see the fruit of the “seed” in which “all the nations of the earth” would be blessed (Genesis 22:18).  Neither one of them would ever see where their feet would fall, but they needed to know that God would keep His promises and that He would always provide.

So God provided a substitute. “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:13-14).

Abraham learned that in all things God will provide.  Even when things are unclear, God will provide.  Even when the outcome is unsure, God will provide.  Even when we cannot understand, God will provide.  Even when we cannot see where our feet will fall, God will provide.

Then Jesus came to him again to reconfirm the promise. “And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:15-18).

“By Myself I have sworn, saith the LORD” (v. 16) because the writer of Hebrews tells us, “he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself” (Hebrews 6:13).  God’s promises are true.  God is faithful and He will do what He says.  Did Abraham ever see God’s promise fulfilled in his lifetime? Only in his dreams! Did God keep His promise to Abraham?  Absolutely! Why? “Because thou hast obeyed my voice” (v. 18).  Abraham did not know where his feet would fall, but he obeyed God anyway. “So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba” (Genesis 22:19).

Two thousand years later, the drama was replayed.  Only this time, the Son, the only Son, the beloved Son, and His Father were the players.  Once again, the Father and the Son walked up together to the summit of Mount Moriah, and there the Father offered up His Son.  The Son, knowing full well what was about to transpire, willingly carried on his back the wood upon which He would be offered.  Together, He and the Father walked up the lonely hill, both determined that this offering would take place.  This time, there was no “Angel of the Lord” to stay the hand of the Father because it was the “Angel of the Lord” that laid upon the wood.  And the Father strikes and the nails were driven into the hands and feet of the Son, and the spear pierced His side.  The Son dies, and the Father weeps.  This time there is no substitute.  This is the way it had to be.  The only Son of God the Father was offered up for your sins and mine.  Why?  So that you and I might have eternal life by taking a leap of faith and trusting in the sacrifice made on our behalf.  The Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis mine).

God gave His one and only Son for you and for me. He has the absolute right to expect your obedience by trusting in the sacrifice of His Son. Are you unsure because you cannot see where your feet will fall? You may hesitate because you do not know how your friends or your spouse or your family will react if you give your life to Christ.  You may hesitate because you fear that you will have to give up a lifestyle of sin with which you have grown comfortable.  You may feel that you are doing alright on your own, and that you have no need for God in your life because you have everything under your control.  Besides all of that, you don’t know if your decision to trust Christ will ever pay off.  You cannot see where your feet will fall, so you would rather remain confined in a world that you can see rather than to obey God and trust Him with what you cannot see.  Let me assure you, you are not as safe and secure as you think you are.  Why not take that leap in faith by trusting Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord.  He alone holds the future and in Him you can find true security.

Perhaps you already know the Savior. You possess the assurance of an eternal future with Him in heaven, but you haven’t learned to trust Him with your present life.  Perhaps you are not serving Him as you should because you have too many other things that occupy your time.  Maybe you are not the witness for Him at school, at work, or at home that you ought to be because you worry that you might offend someone, or you may lose your job or your credibility or your relationships.  Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).  Perhaps you haven’t trusted God with the giving of your tithe because you worry that you won’t have enough month left over at the end of your paycheck. Remember the words of Jesus: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6:25).  He went on to say, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33).

God knows all of your needs, and He will meet them.  He doesn’t need your help to take care of you.  He can do just fine without you, if you will only trust Him to care for you as He promised.  Do not stay trapped by what you cannot see; “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Abraham could not see where his feet would fall, but he trusted God, and he obeyed.  “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).  Do not allow the cares of this world hold you captive like a three-foot wall keeps the African impala imprisoned. “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”[3]

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 16

[2]   2 Samuel 24:10-25; 2 Chronicles 3:1)

[3]  From the hymn, “Trust And Obey,”

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Same Old Tricks

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

We think we are so smart! We carry around in our pockets devices with more computing power than the computers that sent the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, into space. With it, we talk or send text messages to friends and loved ones instantly. We stay in touch with current events, check the weather, watch video programs (even live TV), find answers to all of our questions with a few clicks of the tiny keyboard, just entertain ourselves with mind-numbing games. We fly across the country in a matter of hours, send probes to distant planets, or view the ends of the universe with our powerful satellite telescopes. We have developed medical devices that look inside our bodies to produce images of injured or diseased tissues. According to a 2013 report, knowledge doubled every 12 months, and the report predicted that it would soon double every 12 hours.[1] God told the Prophet Daniel that this would happen. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis mine).

However, for all our smarts, we still fall for the same old tricks[2] Satan has used since the beginning of time. Look at what transpired in the Garden of Eden. God had given man absolute freedom and dominion over the entire planet[3] and placed them in a perfect environment[4] with only one stipulation. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17, emphasis mine).

Satan’s goal is to separate God’s supreme creation, humankind, from their Creator and he continues to employ the same strategy and tactics that he used in the Garden to cause man to fall.[5] His strategy is to cause man to doubt God and to turn to him to meet their perceived needs. His tactics are threefold. First, he instills doubt in God’s Word – “Is that really what the Bible says?”[6] Second, he declares God’s Word as untrue – “You can’t believe the Bible. It was written by man, and it is full of myths and factual errors. You can’t trust the Bible!”[7] Finally, he slanders God by accusing Him of withholding total autonomy from you – “God knows you will be like gods, and He doesn’t want competition!”[8]

Man does not need Satan to cause him to sin. Man succeeds at sinning very well on his own, and Satan uses man’s own natural bent to sin against him. The Apostle John warns us against loving the world system[9] which is really man’s system. John characterizes it in three ways: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life. Look at how Satan used man’s own nature against Eve. He first executed his strategy to cause doubt in God, and then he stood back and allowed Eve’s own human nature go to work. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).

It seems we are not so smart after all. In almost 6000 years, Satan has not changed his methods one bit, and man’s nature has not improved through countless unlearned lessons. As the Preacher said, “there is no new thing under the sun.”

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5). The Son of God and Son of Man accomplished what no other man could; He did not succumb to the wiles of Satan. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis mine).

After He was baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days in preparation for His earthly ministry. Satan took advantage of His weakened condition to make his attack. Satan knew who he was facing. Jesus is the Word of God and very God indeed,[10] so there was no point in trying to cause Him to doubt God’s Word. Instead, Satan attacked His human nature. First, he went for the lust of the flesh. “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread” (Luke 4:3). Then he attacked through the lust of the eyes. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:5-6). Finally, he used the pride of life to make Jesus fall into sin. “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Luke 4:9-11).

There is nothing that you or I face that Jesus did not experience fully. Satan uses the same old tricks and we have all the same weaknesses of all who have come before us. However, as the Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Christians, if they will take advantage of it, have the power to defend against Satan’s assaults and to combat the weaknesses of the flesh because, as the Apostle John reminds us, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Jesus defeated the devil, and now His power is available to us, if we will only take advantage of it. We do not have to fall for the same old tricks Satan uses. The way to defeat Satan is to pray daily and often, meditate on God’s Word daily,[11] and “Not 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 10:25), i.e., get involved in a good church and fellowship with other believers.

Reader, if you lack the power to withstand the devil, read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


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

[2]  “Nothing Changes” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/04/15/nothing-changes/

[3]  Genesis 1:26

[4]  Genesis 2:8

[5]  “Why Satan?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/11/02/why-satan/

[6]  Genesis 3:1

[7]  Genesis 3:4

[8]  Genesis 3:5

[9]  1 John 2:15

[10]  John 1:1

[11]  Reading the Bible is good practice, however, meditating on God’s Word requires a little more effort than just reading. One has to read and think (meditate) on what God is saying. Paul said to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15). That requires diligent effort.

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Building Up the Temple

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (Matthew 21:12)

Last week I wrote about a special assignment[1] I was given for the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. An ICR benefactor donated a Life of Christ diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company, and it often hints of Catholic influence.

One of the scenes will be of Jesus cleansing the Temple before His crucifixion. The “temple” that came with the set is patterned after Greco-Roman architecture. It in no way represents the Temple that Jesus would have known. Perhaps visitors to the Discovery Center will not notice the discrepancy, but others, like me, will see the flaw. That bothers me. We cannot allow anything to distract from the Gospel message.

Determined to correct the error, I took the dimensions of the Temple given in the Bible[2] and converted the cubits to feet and the feet to inches.  Then I measured the width of the set “temple” to get the scale the footprint for the model I would build of the Temple. As it turned out, a scale model would be 58 inches tall and would probably cause a greater distraction than the building that came with the diorama. So, I scrapped my idea and resolved to use the incorrect building that came with the set.

When I told Henry, (the MIC) of my decision, he encouraged me to follow through with my idea. He reminded me that the Temple model did not need to be an exact scale; it just needs to “look” like the Temple of Jesus’ day. Pictured above is the beginning of what will be the Temple model. To see the completed model, you will need to visit the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History when it opens this September (2019).

Jewish religious life revolved around the Temple and Jesus, being an observant Jew, followed all the laws regarding it. When He was just eight days old, His earthly parents presented Him along with the required sacrifice to the priests at the Temple.[3] He had His bar mitzvah in the Temple at the age of 12,[4] and as Scripture points out, He went to the Temple each year for the Passover.

In His final week of life, He exercised the practice of ridding His house of “leaven” in preparation for the Passover by cleansing the Temple of the illegal trade that took place there. “And [He] said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13, emphasis mine). The Temple was His house.

The Temple bears the shape of a cross. At the foot of the cross is the altar where the sacrifices are burned. Jesus gave His life as our eternal sacrifice. Beyond the altar resides the laver or mikvah where the priests would wash before entering the Temple. Jesus is the “living water” that cleanses us from all sin.[5] The Temple has only one door through which the priests can enter. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, emphasis mine). 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). As one enters through the door of the Temple, on the left stands a seven-branch menorah. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). On the right is the table of the “showbread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” (John 6:13, emphasis mine). Directly ahead stands the altar of incense which represents the prayers of the people going up to God. Jesus said, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

Beyond the altar of incense rises a heavy curtain from floor to ceiling that separates this holy place from the Holy of Holies where the very presence of God resides. Inside that sanctum resided the Ark of the Covenant, covered by the Mercy Seat upon which the sacrificial blood was spilled on behalf of all the people. This place was so holy that only the high priest could enter and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement,[6] Yom Kippur.  When Jesus died on the cross, He carried His own blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies spilling it on God’s mercy seat. “And, behold, the veil [the curtain] of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51, emphasis mine), and the way into the presence of God was opened for us.

Today every true believer is the Temple of God[7] because we have His presence within us.[8] The model temple I am building is a simple replica of the one that used to be. But the real Temple is me and anyone else who has invited the Lord to save them and take up residence within. I want to build an excellent model for visitors to the Discovery Center to enjoy, but even more important is the maintenance of the Temple in which God now resides.

If what I am saying sounds strange, visit my page on Securing Eternal Life.

Notes:


[1]  “On a Hill Far Away” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/05/12/on-a-hill-far-away/

[2]  1 Kings 6:2

[3]  Luke 2:22-24

[4]  Luke 2:41-52

[5]  1 John 1:7

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

[7]  Living Temples – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/18/living-temples/

[8]  1 Corinthians 3:16

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April Fools’ Day

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psalm 14:1)

We recognize the first day of April as April Fools’ Day. It “is an annual (primarily) Western celebration commemorated on April 1 by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools. People playing April Fool jokes often expose their prank by shouting ‘April fool(s)’ at the unfortunate victim(s). Some newspapers, magazines and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in smaller letters. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in every country. Little is known about the origins of this tradition.”[1]

Victims of harmless pranks can hardly be called “fools.” Anyone is susceptible to deception at the hands of someone they trust. If that is a fool, then we all qualify.

The Bible has a much harsher view of a fool. The epithet is so severe that Jesus said, “whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22, emphasis mine). The word “Raca” is of Chaldean origin and it means, “empty or worthless one.” A fool, on the other hand, is one who is “impious[2] or “godless.” Strong’s defines such a one as “dull, stupid or heedless.” The Greek word is mōros, from which we get our word “moron.” It is interesting that Jesus should offer such a severe condemnation as “hell fire” for the offense of calling someone a fool.

Jesus’ prohibition of the application of that word against another person comes at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. In the same sermon, He later said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2). This verse gets misquoted and misunderstood often as meaning that we are never to exercise rational discernment about someone’s actions. However, that is not at all what Jesus was saying as subsequent verses reveal. The Greek words translated as “judge” and “judgment” are krinō and krima respectively. Both have to do with making a judgment that results in condemnation and punishment. We get our English words “crime” and “criminal” from these Greek words. The kind of judgment Jesus is describing is reserved for God alone. Therefore, if judging someone as “fool” condemns the one judging to “hell fire,” then the punishment for being a “fool” must also be “hell fire.” We deduce this from Jesus’ words, “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” In other words, because the punishment for being a fool is “hell fire,” then the one judging the fool will receive the same judgment because only God can make that judgment.

The English word “fool” appears often in the Bible translating other Greek or Hebrew words, but the strong word Jesus used, mōros, appears only a few times and always in the context of strong condemnation. For example, in Matthew 7:26 Jesus uses it to describe the “foolish man” who built his house on a foundation of sand. Jesus likens those hear His Word and ignore it to the fool who builds his house on sand. In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells the Parable of the Ten Virgins and He calls the five unprepared virgins “foolish” because they were not ready to meet the bridegroom. The condemnation is they are not allowed into the wedding. Paul warns his young protégés, Timothy and Titus to avoid “foolish” (moronic) questions because they are unprofitable and vain and they only lead to strife.[3]

Our lead verse appears again in Psalm 53:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” The Hebrew word translated “fool” is nâbâl, and like mōros, it means stupid, wicked, (especially impious). Someone who does not believe in God, or rejects God is a fool. God condemns such a person to “hell fire,” which is why Jesus admonishes us not to make that judgment.

Paul describes how one sinks to that condition:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:18-22, emphasis mine).

By examining this passage more closely, we see that “the wrath of God” – His anger, i.e., “hell fire” – is revealed “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” i.e., “foolishness.” It is doubtful that “true” atheists exist because here we see that God reveals Himself through His creation. The “invisible things,” like viruses, bacteria, atoms, quarks, etc., clearly testify to the greatness of God. Every human being on earth can see the magnificence of God’s creation so that no one has an excuse for not acknowledging God. Everyone, even the atheist, knows that God exists, but they reject Him and refuse to glorify Him choosing rather to follow their own unintelligent (i.e., foolish) imaginations. As a result, their heart is darkened. This progressive condition results in a “reprobate mind,”[4] i.e., a mind that has lost its ability to properly reason. They think they are wise when in fact they have become fools.

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). And “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15). “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2). We are all fools at some time in our lives. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:10-11, emphasis mine). We may all start out as fools, but we do not need to remain in that condition. If you do not know the Lord, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.” Don’t be an April Fool!

Notes:


[1] Wikipedia, “April Fool’s Day” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools%27_Day

[2]  “not pious or religious; lacking reverence for God, religious practices, etc.; irreligious; ungodly” Dictionary.Com definition – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/impious?s=t

[3]  2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9

[4]  Romans 1:28

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