Category Archives: Heaven

High Cost of Admission

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23)

Another Super Bowl came and went. I did not go, nor did I watch it, but I know the cost of admission was outrageous, even for the cheap seats. I read that the cheapest seats in the upper level, 11 rows from the top in the corner of the end zone, sold for $4900.[1] Undoubtedly, people actually paid the high cost of admission for the “experience,” and I am sure that today they are boasting that it was worth the “sacrifice.” For those willing to shell out that kind of cash, the price of admission was not too high a cost.

The Gospel writer, Matthew, records an account of “one” who came to Jesus asking about the cost of admission to “eternal life.” One would think the cost would be higher than for tickets to the Super Bowl. This one said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). By Jesus’ response, it seems the “young man” (v. 20) was insincere in his query. “And he [Jesus] said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17a). The young man did not recognize that he was in the presence of God. To him, Jesus was just another teacher (meaning of “Master”) and the attribution of “good” provided the incentive for Jesus to affirm what he thought about himself.

Jesus played along; “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17b, emphasis mine). Jesus told him what we wanted to hear. Feigning humility, the young man responded coyly, “Which?” (v. 18) pretending that there might be one he missed. Jesus named off a representative list of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:18-19), and the young man could no longer contain his self-righteousness. “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20).

The young man must have thought Jesus would commend him for his righteousness and say, “You’re good to go! You are more than qualified to inherit eternal life.” Instead, “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The “follow me” part by itself was doable. If it got too rough, he could always go back to what he did before. However, selling all of his possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor was irreversible. The young man probably inherited all of his wealth and had no idea how to build wealth from scratch. He had probably never worked a day in his life. “Work” was something for peasants, not for him. The price was too high. “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:22, emphasis mine).[2]

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23, emphasis mine). The KJV translates the Greek word duskolōs as “hardly,” but what it means is “with great difficulty.” Jesus did not mean that rich people cannot get into heaven. What He did say was that getting into heaven for a rich person is difficult. Why?

Matthew introduced this account with a scene where people (probably mothers) brought their children to Jesus so that He could pray and bless them (Matthew 19:13-15). The disciples rebuked the people for bringing their little urchins to the Lord. “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14, emphasis mine). Mark, in his Gospel (probably Peter’s account), records that Jesus was displeased with the action of His disciples. He further adds, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15, emphasis mine). We refer to children as dependents. They are dependent on their parents for food, clothing, shelter, protection, and guidance. They believe what their parents tell them. They trust their parents for everything.

The rich young man was “independent.” His riches provided all that he needed, and, as long as he had his wealth, he was secure. Jesus challenged his source of security. What Jesus basically said was, “I AM all you need. Follow Me.” A child would have followed without question, but this young man chose rather to trust in his many possessions rather than to trust in Jesus. For him, the high cost of admission was too great a price to pay.

“When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26, emphasis mine). The disciples were shocked. If someone who follows all of God’s commandments and has been blessed by God with great wealth cannot be saved, then who can be saved? The lesson is simple. Wealth cannot purchase a ticket to heaven, even if you sell all of your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. Neither can rigorous religious practice gain one entry into eternal life. However, when one places one’s trust in Jesus with a childlike faith and seeks to follow Him, God gives eternal life. Jesus already paid the high cost of admission.

Reader, in what do you place your trust? Jesus asks that you lay all that aside, and place your trust in Him. If you need help with that, read my page on “Heaven.”

Notes:


[1]  “Super Bowl 2018: How much do tickets cost? Any cheap flights and hotels for Eagles fans?” – http://www.nj.com/eagles/index.ssf/2018/01/super_bowl_tickets_cheap_flights_to_minnesota_eagl.html

[2]  “Too Rich for Heaven: – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/04/19/too-rich-for-heaven/

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End of the World

Tares – a kind of darnel, resembling wheat

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (Matthew 13:41)

In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus relates several parables illustrating the “kingdom of heaven.” Beginning with verse 24, He compares the kingdom of heaven to a field that a farmer sowed with wheat (“good seed”). Then at night, while the farmer slept, an enemy came and sowed tares in the same field. The tares to which Jesus referred were probably some kind of darnel that looks much like wheat before it matures. Once it matures the difference becomes obvious.

The farmer’s hired hands detected the tares early on and reported their discovery to the farmer. “So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?” (Matthew 13:27). They suggested pulling out the tares to keep the wheat from being stunted. The farmer wisely told the workers to leave them alone lest they accidentally pull up some of the wheat. Once the crop matured, the wheat would be separated from the tares and the tares would be burned.

Jesus compared the field to the world. He, “the Son of Man,” is the field owner that sowed the good seed. One commentator suggested that the “good seed” is the Word of God and the “bad seed” – the tares – is false doctrine sown by Satan, the enemy. There is an element of truth in that interpretation; however, it is not interpretation Jesus gave. Jesus said, “the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38). The enemy is the devil who sowed the tares – products of his false doctrine no doubt – and the reapers are the angels (Matthew 13:39).

Jesus portrays the image of the world where His “seed” and Satan’s seed exist together.[1] Often, and sadly, they are indistinguishable from one another. Jesus says that “the harvest is the end of the world” (Matthew 13:39). This cannot be the Second Coming of Christ, because when He comes again, He will set up His kingdom on earth (Revelation 19:11-16), and He will reign for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4).

The “end of the world” comes after the 1000-year reign of Christ on earth. “But the rest of the dead [the tares that died prior to Jesus’ Second Coming or were killed in the battle of Armageddon] lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:5, emphasis mine). “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison” (Revelation 20:7, emphasis mine). Satan then incites many on earth to rebel against the rule of Christ, but the insurrection ends quickly (Revelation 20:9).

The tares – “the rest of the dead” – are raised and brought before “a great white throne” (Revelation 20:11) to be judged. Many today hope that on “judgment day” their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds on the great cosmic scales. Indeed, good and bad will be judged.  “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12, emphasis mine). “The books” contain the life record of every individual that ever lived – both good deeds and bad deeds. “The dead,” i.e. the “tares,” are judged by the content of their books. Note that the “good seed,” i.e. the “wheat,” are not being judged. They were “gathered up” before the 1000-year reign and ruled with Christ for the 1000 years (Revelation 20:4).

James says that “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [sheol – “the grave] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:13, emphasis mine). No one will be found guiltless. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). To be fair, none of us can live up to such strict standards, so “the tares” are given one final test. Their names are checked against the Book of Life,[2] “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15, emphasis mine).

That is the end of the world, but it is not the end. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

Reader, is your name recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Has Satan filled your mind with false teachings and turned you into a tare? While there is breath in your body, you can alter your destiny and secure your name in the Book of Life. Call on Jesus; He alone can save you. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). For more information, read my page on Heaven from the tab at the top of this page.

Notes:


[1]  “Tares Among the Wheat” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/05/19/tares-among-the-wheat/

[2]  “The Book of Life” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/02/03/the-book-of-life/

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Tough Love

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)

I may be wrong, but I sense that every Christian experiences this dilemma to one degree or another. We have experienced God’s love and grace in a very real sense. We know the Gospel is true, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). We know that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

We know that all other paths lead to an eternal hell, “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13). We know all of this, and we rest secured in the knowledge “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

 That is good for us! However, not everyone we know shares that knowledge and that assurance. In fact, most of the people we know – friends, co-workers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, other relatives – travel that “broad way” of life that “leads to destruction.” Sadly, most of them are, by worldly standards, very nice and good people. They do not know about the “tight door” and the “narrow way, which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14). They could find out from us, but we love them too much to tell them! If we tell them, they could be offended, and our relationship with them will suffer. They may stop talking to us. They may hate us and never want to have anything to do with us. In the case of a co-worker, we could lose our job over it. What a terrible loss that would be for us! Instead, we would rather love them right into hell! Does that sound like love to you?

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). So, why do we hesitate to share the Gospel with those whom we love the most? Is it because we love them too much? If that is the case, then according to Jesus, we are not worthy of Him (see our leading verse above). Telling your loved ones about Jesus takes tough love, but guess what? Jesus loves them more than you do. He died to save them too.

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Jerusalem

Modern Jerusalem viewed from the Mount of Olives

And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. (1 Kings 11:36)

Emerging from the tunnel cut through the mountain from Jericho, I caught my first glimpse of the “Eternal City,” Jerusalem. I was completely unprepared for the overwhelming emotional “rush” I would get upon my first view of the city – God’s city. Although Jerusalem is in every way a modern city – nothing like it was in Jesus’ day – building codes imposed on new construction maintain the “old” appearance of the city. That probably contributed to my emotional response.

There are cities in the Middle East more ancient than Jerusalem. Damascus, Syria, for example, is first mentioned in Genesis 14:15.  In this account, a confederation of four kings from the area around Damascus came against the kings of the south, in the area around the Dead Sea. One of those cities was Sodom where Abram’s nephew Lot was living. The invading kings sacked the five cities including Sodom and carried off captives of which Lot was one. Abram mustered up a small army of his own servants, pursued the four kings, rescued Lot, and the other captives, and took back the booty taken by the marauding kings. On his return, he encountered Melchizedek, king of Salem (Genesis 14:17-20). Some have supposed that Salem was the same as Jerusalem, but I disagree for several reasons.[1]

Jerusalem[2] is built on the mountains in the land of Moriah. It was “upon one of the mountains” (Genesis 22:2) there that God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. It is noteworthy that God did not instruct Abraham to go to Salem, Jerusalem, or Jebus (Judges 19:10-11; 1 Chronicles 11:4-5). Jebus was the “city of the Jebusites” and the Jebusites were in the land when Abram first arrived (Genesis 15:21), and it seems it would have been an excellent landmark if it existed at the time of Abraham. Instead, God instructed Abraham to go the “land of Moriah” and sacrifice Isaac on one of the mountains there. A normal reading of the text leads one to see this place as isolated and uninhabited. However, this would later become the site of Jerusalem, and the particular mountain on which Isaac was offered would become the site of the Temple “in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (2 Chronicles 3:1). Eventually, God would sacrifice His own Son, on the mountains of Moriah.

This alone makes Jerusalem a special place. Geographically, Jerusalem is located near the center of earth’s total landmass.[3] More than this, God stamped His name on Jerusalem.[4] Jews associate the Hebrew letter “Shin” (ש) with the name of God. They derive this from the “Shama” (meaning “hear”) in Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Jerusalem – the “Old City” is situated on the mountains of Moriah, which are flanked by two valleys – the Kidron, and Tyropean – with a third, the Hinnom (Gehenna), that runs down the center to join the other two. The topography forms the letter “Shin” the symbol of God’s name. The land of Israel has a similar stamp where the three headwaters of the Jordon River join together to form the letter “Shin.”

The mountains of Moriah are made up of three mountain heads: Ophel, Moriah, and Zion. “Ophel” means “My Fortress” and represents God the Father. “Moriah” means “to see God” or “to be seen of God” and represents God the Son. “Zion” means “the Mark” and represents God the Holy Spirit who is the “seal” or the “mark” of all believers. One mountain range with three heads representing one God in three persons.

Jerusalem, as stated earlier, is the “Eternal City.” When Jesus returns to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He will come to Jerusalem. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4, emphasis mine). Jesus will physically reign from His Temple in Jerusalem. A river will flow from his throne here and will run to the east and into the Dead Sea, which will be healed (Ezekiel 47:8-9).

At the end of the 1000-year reign of Christ on earth, God will create a “new heaven and a new earth,” and a “New Jerusalem” will descend from heaven to a recreated earth (Revelation 21:1-2) where those of us who are His children will reign forever with Him. As beautiful as Jerusalem is today, it will not compare to the New Jerusalem where not just God’s name will dwell, but God Himself will dwell with us!

Reader, if you are unsure where you will spend eternity, read my page on Heaven.

Notes:


[1]  “Is Salem Jerusalem?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/08/16/is-salem-jerusalem/

[2]  “Hebrew Word Study – Jerusalem – Part I” – http://livingwordin3d.com/discovery/2016/12/18/hebrew-word-study-jerusalem-part-i/

[3]  “The Center of the Earth” – http://www.icr.org/article/50

[4]  “Jerusalem – I Will Put My Name There – Amazing Revelations” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZO_eRmR2ho

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The Millennial Kingdom

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The return of Christ looms ever nearer. We have seen “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars” (Luke 21:25) – blood moons[1] on significant Jewish feast days, the Great American Solar Eclipse,[2] and the “Revelation 12 Sign”[3] that will appear over Israel on September 23, 2017.  All over the earth, we have “distress of nations, with perplexity” (Luke 21:25). North Korea flexes its nuclear muscle while Iran builds up its arsenal of short-range missiles near Syria’s southern border with Israel,[4] and Russia continues to build up its forces in the area while aiding Iran in its weapons development. The US and other western nations distress and are perplexed over this not, knowing what to do short of starting another world war.

The solar eclipse experienced on August 21, 2017, some suggest, is an omen against the United States of America. Some prophecy scholars say that lunar eclipses are signs for Israel, while solar eclipses are signs for the gentile nations. It may be coincidental, but worth noting that only four days after the Great American Eclipse (August 25, 2017), Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas and Louisiana coasts dumping over 9-Trillion gallons water on the Texas coastline. The unprecedented deluge shut down over 22 percent of the US oil refining capacity.[5] As of this writing, hundreds of gas stations all over North Texas are running out of gasoline (due to media incited panic), and those that still have gas have raised their prices from 20-40 cents per gallon. Refineries on the Texas coast will remain closed for two to three weeks until assessments can be made to bring them back online. It may be months! The economic impact of this storm will be felt for months, and that does not include the impact to human lives. Added to that is the looming threat of Hurricane Irma building up strength in the Atlantic. This is only a small sample of “the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).

Things are just warming up “as travail upon a woman with child” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Soon – hopefully very soon – Jesus will return for His Bride, the Church, to take her home with Him.[6] Not long after that “… shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Most end-times prophets seem to focus on the events leading up to and into the 7-year Tribulation, which follows the Rapture of the Church. Such conversation tends to overshadow the happy ending that lies beyond the seven years with a cloud of gloom and dread. However, the story does have a happy ending that is lost in the details of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the mark of the beast, the coming Antichrist, famine, plagues, death, etc. Why walk into a dark tunnel with no light at its end! The good news is that the Utopia for which everyone yearns is what lies just beyond those dreadful seven years.

At the end of the book of Revelation, “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13; John 1:1), mounted on a white horse (Revelation 19:11) leads a mounted army of His saints, all on white horses (Revelation 19:14). His appearance is awesome, and He descends to crush the nations of earth “and he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). The world looks for a leader to rule all the nations of the earth and to usher in an era of universal peace. However, they seek for such a leader in a man. That will never happen! Instead, the leader they will follow will lead them to certain destruction. “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (Revelation 19:19). It is a misnomer to call it a war or even a battle because it will end as soon as it begins. “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:20-21).

Not all who remain on earth will die at that “battle.” Certainly, not every person on earth will be enlisted in the “armies” of the “kings of the earth.” There will be survivors that will require governance. The army of saints (“set apart ones,” i.e., the Bride that was taken at the Rapture) that returns with Christ will be “priests” (“intercessors” between the people and Christ), and they will rule with Him for 1000 years (a millennium).

Some say there is no millennium. What one believes about that is not a salvation issue. However, Revelation 20 affirms a 1000-year period no less than six times (Revelation 20:2-7).  If the 1000 years was stated once or even twice, one might say it is allegorical,[7] but when it is repeated six times, we can take it as literal and certain. Interestingly, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, records creation in six (literal) 24-hour days with God resting (cessation of work) on the seventh day. I believe the Bible teaches a young earth of about 6000 years with a 1000-year rest during the millennial reign of Christ on earth as recorded in Revelation 20. Perhaps the six-fold repetition of 1000 years is not accidental. The Apostle Peter wrote, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8, emphasis mine). Please note that the Apostle employs simile here. He is not saying that “a day is a thousand years” or that “a thousand years is a day.” The Apostle merely points out that God is timeless, i.e., eternal. Likewise, the psalmist proclaims, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). Therefore, I find it interesting that six times the 1000-year timeframe is repeated here. Creation was completed in six days, and God rested on the seventh day; the earth has existed for six millennia and now one millennium remains to “rest” and culminate creation.

What will take place during this final millennium? For one thing, evil will be removed from the earth. Satan is incarcerated in the “bottomless pit” so that he can no longer “deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:3). Missing from John’s report is what happened to “the beast” (aka Antichrist) and the “false prophet.” Since they are humans used by “the Dragon,” my feeling is that they are killed in the final battle because at the end of the thousand years, Satan is loosed on the earth once more (Revelation 20:7) and, once again, his defeat is immediate. Then it says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10, emphasis mine; also see Revelation 19:20-21 above). At the end of the 1000 years, the beast and the false prophet will be raised again with the rest of the “dead” (Revelation 20:5) to face the Great White Throne Judgement (Revelation 20:11-15).  I cannot say with certainty, but my guess is that they will be the first on the docket for judgment.

Beginning with Revelation 20:7, the scene jumps to the end of the 1000 years. John records nothing of what takes place during the 1000 years except that the Bride of Christ – those that died in Christ, the martyrs for Christ, and the raptured saints – “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years,” and “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, 6). That implies that there will be some on earth to rule. Furthermore, when Satan is released at the end of 1000 years, he goes “out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:8). That says that the population of earth will be replenished to the point that there are “nations” living in peace and harmony without satanic influence. But what will that be like, and what can we expect? For that, we need to look elsewhere in the Bible.

First of all, the millennial reign of Christ will be an autocratic form of government where Christ’s reign will be absolute with zero tolerance for lawlessness. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:15-16, emphasis mine). The image of a sharp sword coming from His mouth symbolizes the authority of His Word – He is the Word (John 1:14). That He rules with “a rod of iron” indicates no tolerance for any opposition to His authority. “His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne [speaking of Jesus] as the days of heaven. If his children [those whom He rules] forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes” (Psalm 89:29-32). Although He will rule with absolute authority, He will be a kind and benevolent monarch. “And I will set up one shepherd [speaking of Jesus] over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David [speaking of Jesus]; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David [speaking of Jesus] a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it” (Ezekiel 34:23-24, emphasis mine). “And David my servant [speaking of Jesus] shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them” (Ezekiel 37:24, emphasis mine). “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, emphasis mine).

Secondly, because there will be no tolerance for lawlessness, the millennial reign of Christ will be characterized by universal peace. Today the world clamors, “peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14), but when Christ reigns, the world will know true peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, emphasis mine). He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). “And he [speaking of Jesus] shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).

Thirdly, not only will there be universal peace on earth, but the earth itself will be renewed as in the time before the Fall (Genesis 3). God says, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17). In the renewed earth, the “curse” will be reversed. Animals will no longer prey on one another and even little children will play with what used to be venomous snakes (Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:25).  “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Death for the inhabitants of the earth, those who survived the Tribulation and their progeny, will practically be unheard of. “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 65:20, emphasis mine). People will live long lives as before the Flood. Only the “sinner,” i.e., the lawbreaker will have his life cut short by “the rod of iron.” Someone who is a hundred years old will be considered a “child.” Of course, those who returned with Christ at the end of the Tribulation, will come back with “glorified” bodies and never again experience death.

Fourthly, like the Garden of Eden, all the earth will once again be fruitful. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1). “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13).  Everyone will have houses and enjoy the fruits of the labor. “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:22, emphasis mine). “And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil … And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:24, 26). “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim” (Joel 3:18). “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos 9:13).

What a wonderful world that will be! Jesus will rule from His throne in His Temple in Jerusalem, and the Utopia of which everyone dreams will exist throughout the earth. However, very few of earth’s inhabitants will enter that renewed world. Those who call upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior right now will be leaving this earth very shortly. After that follows seven horrible years of Tribulation where the majority of the population will perish. At the end of that time, Jesus will return with His saints to reign on earth.

Reader, would you like to see that new world? If you cannot claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the odds are against you making it through the Tribulation that will soon come. Why not secure your place in Christ’s coming millennial kingdom and beyond. Read my page on “Heaven.”

Notes:


[1]  “Perhaps This Year!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/12/29/perhaps-this-year/

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

[3]  Ibid.

[4]  “Iran Building Weapons Factories in Lebanon and Syria, Israel Says” – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/world/middleeast/iran-missiles-lebanon-israel-.html

[5]  “Gasoline spikes after Harvey shuts down Gulf Coast refineries” – http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/348692-gasoline-spikes-after-harvey-shuts-down-gulf-coast-refineries

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

[7]  “Is the Bible Allegory?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/08/27/is-the-bible-allegory/

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Father

Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

On Father’s Day, we set aside a special time to honor the one who gave us life. For better or worse, without our fathers, we could not celebrate anything, especially our birthdays. Mothers get all the glory because they carried us in their bodies for nine months, but it did not stop there. Our arrival and entry into the world caused Mama unspeakable anguish and pain. After that came all the late night feedings, nursing us through illness, and nurturing us through all the bumps and bruises of life. Of course, Dad got in on some of that, but not like Mama, but let’s face it, without Dad, Mama would have missed out on all those cherished experiences.

The verse above reminds us not to minimize the importance of a father. It is obvious that the verse is speaking about the LORD as Father, but the connection is clear that God identifies Himself with human fathers. The verb “requite” is not heard in normal, everyday speech today, but it means to make a “repayment.” The Hebrew word translated “requite” is gâmal, and it means “to treat a person (well or ill).” So, the question can be stated: “Is this how you treat or repay the LORD?” In context, God gave life to the nation of Israel. Remember? He called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans and promised him the land of Canaan. God gave life to Isaac, and He chose Jacob (Israel). God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and established them in the land. Likewise, our earthly fathers gave us the spark of life and brought us into this world. Even if they were not the fathers that stayed around and provided for us in our childhood, they gave us the life we now enjoy. We should “requite” them with our honor and respect.

God is the model Father from which we can all learn. Granted, in our fallen condition, we cannot meet His standard, but we have a pattern to follow. We can thank our earthly fathers for “the seed” from which we sprang, but ultimately, God is Father to us all. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10, emphasis mine) “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8, emphasis mine).

King David expressed his wonder for the Father this way: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14-16, emphasis mine). Our Father concerns Himself with every detail of our being. Jesus said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30, emphasis mine). Hairs! Someone “follically challenged” like myself might see this as insignificant, but in truth, God even counts those hairs I have lost. As earthly fathers, we may not know the hair count on our children’s heads, but we should be encouraged to pay close attention to every detail of their lives.

Knowing every detail of our children’s lives makes us aware of their needs. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). The Hebrew verb translated “pity” here is râcham, and it means “to love” or “have compassion on.” Jesus said, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8, emphasis mine). Further on He says, “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” (Matthew 6:31-32).  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, emphasis mine). Fathers provide for the needs of their children.

The Father disciplines His children. “Discipline” in essence means “to teach.” “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  Sometimes, this might include corporal punishment. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [in good time]” (Proverbs 13:24). “Beatings” are never appropriate, but the “board of education” properly and lovingly applied with wisdom to the “seat of understanding” is sometimes necessary. God the Father and God the Son provided the example. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel” (John 5:19-20, emphasis mine).

Jesus, the Son, was subjected to and endured capital punishment for our sins. “For he [the Father] hath made him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). At first sight, it seems abhorrent for a father to put his own son to death for the offenses of another, but this is a unique case. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, emphasis mine).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emphasis mine). The Father, punished His own Flesh, i.e. Jesus, for His children’s sins. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).

Even so, we do not escape the Father’s discipline when we need it. “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” (Proverbs 3:11). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7, emphasis mine) “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). Our Father’s discipline serves to sanctify us, that is, to make us holy, i.e., set us apart from the world. If we live in sin like the world, and God does not punish us for it, that only means that we do not belong to Him, because “whom the Lord loves, He chastens.”

The Father gives good gifts to His children. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). Fathers want to leave an inheritance for their children. Some leave great wealth; others can only leave a good name. However, the Lord gives His children the ultimate inheritance. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7, emphasis mine). “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17).

Reader, if you are a child of God, regardless of your earthly father, whether good or bad, your heavenly Father cares for you and deserves your gratitude, devotion and obedience. If you are not a child of God, put yourself up for adoption; the Father will not turn you away. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). If you are a father, let God the Father be your example.

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Tasty Book

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. (Revelation 10:9-10)

Before ascending to His throne “on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69); Jesus hinted at the possibility that John the Beloved, might live until His return. “Jesus saith unto him [Peter], If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:22). In a way, that did indeed come to pass. John is probably the only one of Jesus’ apostles that died a natural death and did not experience martyrdom. Jesus granted John the unique privilege of seeing end-time events from a heavenly perspective.

While exiled on the island of Patmos for the sake of the Gospel (Revelation 1:9), John had a vision of the risen Christ and was “raptured” up to heaven to witness events at the end of time (Revelation 4:1). So, in a manner of speaking, John did indeed tarry until the coming of the Lord.

Beginning with Chapter 6 of the Apocalypse, John witnesses the horrors of the first half of the Tribulation. Following the sounding of the Sixth Trumpet (Revelation 9:13-21), there is a pause in the activity on earth and the scene shifts to what is taking place in heaven.

John describes the scene this way. “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth” (Revelation 10:1-2, emphasis mine). The “mighty angel” that John saw is the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this by the description given by John. The Mighty Angel is clothed with a cloud as He was when He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). He is crowned with a rainbow like the one John saw around the throne of God (Revelation 4:3), and “His feet as pillars of fire” take us back to John’s initial meeting with the risen Christ (Revelation 1:15). He stands with one foot on the sea and the other on the land indicating His dominion over all the earth. Furthermore, He declares, “that there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:6), something only God can control.

In His hand, He carries “a little book open.” A voice from heaven instructs John to take the little book from the Mighty Angel. Fearlessly, John records, “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book” (Revelation 10:9a). We are awestruck by John’s boldness in the presence of the risen Lord until we recall that this was “that disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7). “And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter” (Revelation 10:9b-10, emphasis mine).

Eating a book seems rather strange to us, but this is not the first time such imagery is presented in the Bible. The book represents the Word of God. God instructed the Prophet Ezekiel, “But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. (Ezekiel 2:8-10, emphasis mine). He continues, “So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness” (Ezekiel 3:2-3, emphasis mine).

The Prophet Jeremiah experienced something similar when he said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16, emphasis mine). The psalmist says, “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:9-10, emphasis). “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

For the child of God, His Word is sweet. It gives comfort, hope and security. Some have called it God’s love letter to the world. It is sweet to feast upon the Word of God. However, its consumption also brings bitterness. Why? Perhaps it is precisely because we are His children that we share His remorse for the lost who reject His Word. “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23). “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11, emphasis mine). “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine).

The Word of God is Good News to the one who accepts it and consumes it; but it is bad news for the one who rejects its warnings. To the one who “eats” of its sweetness, it becomes bitterness knowing that friends and loved ones who reject its message are doomed to an eternity in “the lake of fire: (Revelation 20:15). Still, the Word of God is a “tasty book.”

Reader, if you have not tasted of God’s Word, time is getting short. Do not waste another day!

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