Category Archives: Holy Spirit

Like As We

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)

Our starting verse assures us that in Christ, we (who belong to Him) have a high priest – an advocate, an intercessor, or a “go-between” – that can relate to “the feeling of our infirmities,” i.e., our weaknesses or frailties both physical and emotional. He understands because He “… made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). He knows our struggles because He experienced our struggles Himself.

We may find ourselves on trial some day in a court of law for some alleged infraction of the law. In our defense, a lawyer – an advocate – will plead our case, but that lawyer goes only by what evidence we can offer. He cannot plead our case from personal experience. Jesus can.

Satan, our prosecutor/accuser, started his practice from the very beginning of creation. He not only brings the accusation, but he initiates the offense to begin with. His first victim was Eve in the Garden of Eden[1] and his tactics have not changed from the beginning. He introduces doubt in God’s Word – “Yea, hath God said?” Then he asserts that God’s Word is a lie – “Ye shall not surely die!” Next he accuses God of withholding something good and implies that he can offer something better – “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Of course, Satan cannot take all of the blame. God gave humans free will to choose whether to obey or disobey and a nature capable of enjoying all the pleasures God created for us to enjoy. John the Beloved warned, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). The Greek word translated “world” – kosmos – has a broad range of meanings. However, in this context, John is referring to “the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.”[2]

John sums up “the world” three ways. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16, emphasis mine). Eve demonstrated all three of these frailties. “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 flesh], 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). We are no different today. Satan employs the same tactics and we still have the same weaknesses.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke both record Satan’s attempt to cause Jesus to sin.[3] At the beginning of His ministry, John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Jesus went into the wilderness, and for forty days and nights he fasted in preparation for His ministry. At the end of the forty days, he was physically exhausted, malnourished, and hungry. He was at His weakest point both physically and emotionally.

Satan assessed his victim’s weakened condition and availed himself of a prime opportunity to attack. Knowing with whom he was dealing, Satan dispensed with his usual tactics. He knew that he could not cause doubt in God’s Word. He was facing the Word Himself.[4] He could not slander the Word of God because he was in the presence of the Truth.[5] He could not tempt Him with “ye shall be as gods”[6] because he was in the company of God. Rather, Satan attacked Jesus’ human nature through human weaknesses. “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread” (Luke 4:3). Here, the lust of the flesh, was especially challenging to a starving man. Who could fault Him for succumbing to that temptation? Yet Jesus answered Satan’s challenge with the Word of God. “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4, emphasis mine).

Failing at his first attempt, Satan tried again. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time [the lust of the eyes]. 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. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (Luke 4:5-7). Again, Jesus responded with Scripture. “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8).

Satan knows Scripture too, and he knows how to twist it to suit his purpose. “And he brought [Jesus] 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 [the pride of life]” (Luke 4:9-11, emphasis mine). The final fail – Jesus sent Satan packing with His final Word making clear to Satan with whom he was dealing. “And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Luke 4:12, emphasis mine). Satan knew he met his match, so, “he departed from him for a season” (Luke 4:13, emphasis mine). Satan is a highly intelligent being, but he is stupid. Knowing full well that he is out matched by God, he still thinks he can somehow pull off a win.

We continue to struggle with our frailties, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Jesus faced those challenges also, just as we do, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Because we, who belong to Him, have His Holy Spirit in us, we can conquer our temptations the same way Jesus did, by standing on the Word of God. However, the Holy Spirit in us can only use the amount of ammunition that we provide, so it is vitally important that we maintain a well-stocked arsenal of God’s Word by reading and studying it daily. And when we fail, and we do fail, we can be sure that “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” (Hebrews 4:15) that intercedes on our behalf.

Reader, if you do not have this assurance, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 3:1-5

[2] Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D., The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (Hendrickson Publishing, Peabody, MA, 1981), Strong’s Number G2889, p.357.

[3]  Matthew 4:1-11Luke 4:1-13

[4]  John 1:1

[5]  John 14:6

[6]  Genesis 3:5

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Creator, Creation, and the Cross (Part 2)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

          Last week’s study, Part 1, focused on the Creator. Today we will take a closer look at the Creation.

Part 2, The Creation

The first verse of Genesis encapsulates the creation of the universe. The universe, as vast and complex as it is, is composed of three elements, anyone of which being absent render the universe non-existent. “In the beginning” is Time. “God created the heavens” (Space) “and the earth” (matter/energy). These three elements: time, space, and matter, make up the universe.

          Secular scientists who strive to explain the origin of the universe though natural causes, hypothesize that all existing matter at one time was densely compressed into a “singularity” that rapidly expanded to create the universe 14.7 billion years ago. This is a relatively recent hypothesis based on the notion rising out of the “enlightenment,” (17th and 18th centuries) proposing that the earth is much older than indicated in Scripture. Since “scientists” had “proven” that the earth was older than stated in the Bible, many theologians attempted to accommodate billions of years into the biblical record by proposing a “gap” of billions of years between Verse 1 and Verse 2 of Genesis 1.

          There is no “Gap”[1]  between verses 1 & 2. When simply read, Verse 1 flows smoothly into Verse 2. The Gap Theory is highly speculative and based on conjecture. The Gap Theory presupposes a prior creation which “became” void and formless due to Satan’s fall. Satan caused a race of pre-Adamic man to sin forcing God to destroy His first creation. This theory introduces sin and death before the fall of Adam and Eve and effectively nullifies the curse of death for sin. Although theologians who still hold to the Gap Theory try to support it with Scripture, it has no biblical support.

          With all the elements of the universe created, the Creator began the task of organizing the formless blob. The raw materials required energy. “And the Spirit of God [the Third Person of the Trinity] moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3). The creation of light only required the verbal command from the Word. The Hebrew word for light is ‘ôr (אוֹר), and I will point out something interesting about that word later on (in Part 3).

God declared His first day’s work “good.” “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5). The word “day” used here and throughout the creation account is important because many find it hard to believe that God created all there is in six 24-hour days.[2] The Hebrew word for “day” is yom. In the Old Testament, it almost always refers to a normal 24-hour day. It always refers to a normal 24-hour day when preceded by an ordinal number – first, second, third, etc. Furthermore, in order to remove any doubt, God further defines yom by “evening and morning,” which constitutes a normal 24-hour day. Some have attempted to stretch the length of each day by thousands and even millions of years.[3] To support their position they cite Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, but these verses use simile (“like,” “as”) to refer to God’s “timelessness”[4] not to how He counts days.[5] To God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day. God is not bound by time as we are. He created time; therefore He exists outside of the constraints of time.

On the second day, Genesis 1:6-8, God organizes the elements by separating the waters from Earth from the waters in space. The word “Firmament” means a “stretched-out thinness.” It is like a thin membrane separating the earth’s atmosphere from the coldness of space. Remember, at this point there are no other heavenly bodies. The day ended without God’s affirmation that it was “good.” There was work yet to be done.

On Day Three, Genesis 1:9-13, God separated the dry land from the water and called it “good.” The vegetation was created fully mature having its seed in itself and ready to reproduce “after its kind” – no evolution. God created plants with the genetic capability to vary within its own kind, but not to “evolve” from one kind into another. We can verify that is still true today.

On the fourth day, Genesis 1:14-19, God created the remaining celestial bodies. Unlike the evolutionary story, God’s account of creation begins with the planet Earth and all the other stars and planets come thereafter. That makes perfect sense when we consider that God made Earth with mankind in mind. “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18).

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Genesis 1:14). The “lights” (Hebrew mâ’ôr) are “lesser lights” or “luminaries.” They are “lesser” only compared to the original light He created on the first day. We also understand that many of these stars are hundreds of times larger than our own sun, but because of their great distance from the earth, they appear to be lesser. The mâ’ôr were created for signs and seasons, days and years. The word “signs” – ‘ôth means signal, banner, remembrance, omen, warning, and “seasons” – mô‛êd means an appointed time/place/meeting; a sacred season, set feast, appointed season. God used theses “signals” to announce the time of His Feasts.[6] The constellations were placed in the night sky for our benefit. God speaking to Job says, “Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth [i.e., the Zodiac] in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? (Job 38:32). God made the sun and moon first and then, almost as an afterthought, he made the stars also – God called it “good”

On the fifth day, Genesis 1:20-23, God made marine and flying creatures. God spoke all of these creatures into existence. The “great whales” – the Hebrew word tannı̂yn means “a sea monster, serpent, or dragon” – not only included whales as we know them, but also the giant marine reptiles. God made them to bring “forth abundantly,” i.e., fully mature with the ability to reproduce “after their kind.” They cannot cross with others of another kind, however, they can vary within their own “kind.” And “God saw that it was good.”

On Day Six of creation, Genesis 1:24-25, the Creator spoke the land-dwelling creatures into existence. Like the marine animals and flying things, they are created fully mature and ready to reproduce “after their kind”

The pinnacle of God’s creation was man (mankind), Genesis 1:26-28. Man was created in God’s “image” – Hebrew tselem “resemblance” – like a mirror image or a photograph – that looks like but is not. Man was created in God’s “likeness” – Hebrew demûth “similitude” – having similar characteristics. We could make a long list of God’s attributes that humans also possess, but these are some of the most prominent. Man, like God is triune in nature – mind, body, and spirit as God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Humans are moral beings (although in a fallen state) and God is a moral being. God is Creator; humans are creative. God is love; humans have the capacity to love. And many other comparisons could be made; the list is long.

God made humans “male and female” (He only made two – one pair).There is a procreative reason for the two genders and anything other than that violates God’s design. Jesus confirms only two sexes/genders. Matthew 19:4 “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” Mark 10:6 “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” God gave dominion of His creation to humans.

With the creation of man, God completed His creative work (Genesis 1:29-31). Herbs and fruits were “meat” for humans and animals. All were vegetarian, even the animals with big teeth. God declared His completed creation “very good” me’ôd ṭôb – exceedingly good! In God’s completed creation, there was no sin, no death, no sickness, no curse, etc. After sin entered the creation, all of that changed. However, one day, perhaps in the near future, all of that will be restored. “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 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).

On the seventh day, Genesis 2:1-3, God “rested.” The Hebrew word for “seventh” is shebı̂y‛ı̂y. The Hebrew word for “rested” is shâbath from which with get “Sabbath.” “Sabbath” means “rest” not “Saturday” or “seventh.” God was not tired nor did He need a break. He ceased His creative work because it was “ended (kâlâh)” or “completed.” There was nothing left to do – 1st Law of Thermodynamics – matter (except for the initial creation on Day One) can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be changed.

He blessed the 7th Day, and He set it as an example for us, Exodus 20:9-11 “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Six days of creation with one day of rest was for our example to work six days and rest and honor God on the seventh. 

That was a good ending for the first week of creation, but that did not last long as we will see next week in Part 3.

If you are not sure of your eternal destiny, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “No Gap” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/18/no-gap/

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

[3]  “A Thousand-Year Day” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/02/09/a-thousand-year-day/

[4]  “The Eternality of God” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/06/04/the-eternality-of-god/

[5]  “Time Confusion” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/07/31/time-confusion/

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

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No Harm Done

They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:18)

The final verses of Mark’s Gospel instigate controversy among Bible “scholars,” and many modern translations preface the passage with a warning that “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.[1] The NIV Study Bible further notes that “Serious doubt exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark. They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark. His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost.”[2]

“Scholars” are the reason we have so many different translations and so much disagreement on which translation is best. I am not averse to higher education. Personally, I enjoy learning and research, especially on matters of the Bible. However, it seems to me that many that achieve the higher degrees lose their grip on reality and rely on the wisdom of man more than the wisdom of God.

When I consider Mark 16:9-20, after having ready Mark’s entire Gospel, I do find the ending somewhat abrupt. It is almost as if Mark completed his Gospel and needed to “wrap it up” in order to get if off to print. (I know. I know! There were no printers in those days.) Most scholars believe that Mark’s was the first Gospel in circulation. The church at the time of the writing was probably no more than 15-30 years old, growing and spreading throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Europe, and there was no written record of the ministry of Christ. As we read Mark’s Gospel, we get the sense that he is moving from one event to the next in the ministry of Jesus. Mark’s is also the shortest of the four Gospels, so the abrupt ending does not surprise me.

The fact that the last 12 verses appear in the text tell me that “The Author,” the Holy Spirit, wanted them there – something the scholars seem to forget. When God says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, emphasis mine). Similarly, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). And to answer those who might say that perhaps these were not God’s or Jesus’ words but added later by some human editor, consider the following: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2, emphasis mine). Also, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32) In addition we find, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19, emphasis mine).

Considering God’s solemn charge not to tamper with His word, I find it difficult to conceive that a human editor, who reverences the Word of God, would take it upon himself to “enhance” it of his own volition. As for those “more reliable early manuscripts,” they come from texts that were rejected by the early church due to their Gnostic origins.[3] They were found in “very good” condition because they were not used.

I have a point to make in defending Mark 16:9-20 and specifically as it relates to verse 18, our opening verse. Concerning “them that believe in me” (v. 17) Jesus says (according to Mark), that “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them” (emphasis mine). Paul proved this after his shipwreck on the island of Melita.[4] In gathering wood for a fire, a viper, attracted to the heat of the fire, attached itself to Paul’s hand. Paul shook the snake into the fire and suffered no harm from the snakebite to the astonishment of the inhabitants of Melita.

Based on Mark 16:18, I believe God protects His children from harm due to no act of their own. Even when we knowingly place ourselves in harmful positions, God will sometimes intervene to protect us, but all according to His purpose for our lives. I strongly advise against acting stupidly just to test God; He may just let you suffer the consequences.

Lately, for obvious reasons, I have been thinking about the hype surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines. I refuse to take the vaccine for several reasons. First of all, I believe God designed our bodies to fight of dangerous pathogens. I also believe that God has our days numbered, and we cannot die until our time comes for God to call us home. There are hundreds of ways to die that do not involve COVID-19, and it is up to God to choose which method He wants to use to take us home.

Those are the foremost reasons I have for not taking the vaccine. Another reason that rates highly is the fact that they are derived from a cell line that came from aborted human fetuses. Most Christians claim to be “pro-life” and are against abortion, and I believe that if they really understood the source of the vaccines, they would not take them. However, I can excuse them due to ignorance. Yet another reason that I will not take the vaccine is that it modifies the recipient’s DNA – God’s programming code that makes you who you are. I do not believe man has arrived at the level of intelligence required to modify God’s programming code.

The reader can investigate these things for himself, but many doctors, virologists, warn that the mRNA vaccine will “disable” a human’s natural immune system rendering them vulnerable to other diseases for which we were once immune. So, in effect, the vaccine is a poison. (Again, I realize my explanation is rather simplistic, but I do not have the space nor the desire to cover it in this article. The information is out there, if you want to look.) Many Christians are happily taking this poison through the ignorance induced by the propaganda put out by our government and the media. I believe, based on Mark 16:18, that Christians taking this poison through ignorance will not be harmed by it. However, those who take it with full knowledge of what it is may suffer the consequences later. Time will tell.

Notes:


[1]  The NIV Study Bible, (Zondervan Corporation, 1985), p. 1530.

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  “Thees, Thous, and Wot Nots” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/05/01/thees-thous-and-wot-nots/ (See especially my response to Dwayne Cartwright’s comment.

[4]  Acts 28:1-6

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The Barley Harvest

Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. (John 6:13)

On the eve of this posting, May 16, 2021, Jews begin the observance of Shavu’ot, the Feast of Pentecost. The Christian calendar, which does not follow the Jewish calendar, observes Pentecost next Sunday, May 23, 2021.

Pentecost interests me, because of the possible prophetic implications associated with it. I wrote about this topic before, and I believe I gave explanation of its significance in an article titled “Pentecost,”[1] so I will not rehash that material here. Briefly, there are seven Feasts of the Lord,[2] three in the spring (Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits), three feasts in the fall (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles) with Pentecost in the middle, separated by a space of time between the others. Pentecost was one of three convocations where all males over the age of 20 were required to attend. The other two times were for the spring and fall feasts.

Pentecost celebrates the barley harvest. Some Bible teachers have mistakenly associated the Feast of First Fruits with the barley harvest, but barley, according to the sources I have checked say that barley does not ripen until around mid May – too late for First Fruits. Again, I explain this in the articles I have cited in the notes below.

Barley is often associated with gentile nations, probably because it is more coarse and less desirable than wheat. Wheat, on the other hand, because it is finer and more desirable represents Israel.

On Pentecost, following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, The Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 disciples gathered in the upper room.[3] There were in Jerusalem on that day “Jews and proselytes” from many nations present for the required convocation, and they heard the disciples preaching in their own languages. That day, about three thousand souls were saved[4] giving birth to the Church. For this reason, Pentecost is associated with the Church, and because it is separated from the other Jewish feasts, many have seen this as the Feasts of the Lord specifically meant for the Church.

Looking at this prophetically, Jesus fulfilled the first three spring feasts by His death (Passover), His burial (Unleavened Bread – He was sinless), and His resurrection (First Fruits). He then ascended to heaven with the promise to send His Holy Spirit and physically return at some later time. So, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and gave birth to the Church. Then there is a long period of time before the fall feasts, which Jesus has yet to fulfill. The long period of time can be likened to the Church Age in which we have lived for the last 1,991 years. At a time known only to God, Jesus will return to earth, possibly on the Feast of Trumpets, fulfill the Atonement, and set up His Tabernacle here on earth. We know this as the “Second Coming.”

Prior to Jesus’ return, the world will experience the full wrath of God for seven years. This is known as the Tribulation. Now (just musing here), there is much support for the crucifixion occurring in 30 A.D. According to the Bible, Creation is about 6000 years old and biblical chronology can be roughly divided into three segments of 2000 years each. We can add the final 2000 years to 30 A.D. and come up with the year 2030. Subtract seven years from that and we arrive at the year 2023 to start the Tribulation.

However, the “wrath” of God is for the “world” not for His Church. The Church will be taken out of the world prior to the start of the Tribulation. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

We have many “signs” to prepare us for the Second Coming, but we have no signs to prepare the Church for the “catching up,” a.k.a. the “Rapture.” “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

The event will be sudden, but it should not be unexpected for the Christian. The “signs” of His Second Coming are everywhere and becoming more pronounced and more frequent. Therefore, we know that His Second Coming is close, and if His Second Coming is close, the Rapture is closer. Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows … Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:8, 42)

Just musing again, if we, the Church, are the barley, and the barley harvest is ready, could this be the day that the Lord harvests us into His barn? Just so you know, the start of the Tribulation does not depend on the Rapture of the Church. The Church could get taken out today and the Tribulation will not begin in earnest until the year 2023. Consider this; our world economy is in freefall. The globalists already have detailed plans for implementing a “one-world” government.[5] Consider the impact of millions of people, especially here in the US, disappearing instantly, all at once, from the face of the earth. Consider the added chaos that would bring to a world already reeling with social, economic and geopolitical trouble. In that event, the one-world system will be put in place and a great one-world leader will arise to bring “peace” to the earth, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years]” (Daniel 9:27). That will kick off the Tribulation.

The barley harvest is ready. I hope this will be the day, but if not, we must occupy until He comes.[6] Are you ready? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Pentecost” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/05/28/pentecost/

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

[3]  Acts 2:1-13

[4]  Acts 2:41

[5]  World Economic Forum — https://www.weforum.org/

[6]  Luke 19:13

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Marked

[Christ] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

When you were born, the hospital staff (assuming you were born in a hospital) employed a system of identification for you and your parents to prevent confusion of parent and baby. One such system uses four identical wrist bands with identical numbers. One band goes on the mother, one on the father, and the baby gets one on the wrist and one on the ankle. Such a system ensures that the baby goes home with the correct set of parents. A birth certificate also records the baby’s name, date and time of birth, weight, length, gender (a biological fact), and the names of both parents (normally). The document is sometimes “sealed” or stamped with the baby’s footprints. From then on, that baby will know to whom he belongs even if unforeseen circumstances separate him from his parents.

When you were born again,[1] Paul tells us that you were “sealed” (our starting verse above) with the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated “sealed” is sphragizō and it means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation,” Thayer’s Greek Definitions gives this definition: “to set a seal upon, mark (emphasis mine) with a seal, to seal; for security: from Satan; in order to mark a person or a thing; in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing.” Jesus said, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27, emphasis mine). Born again believers are sealed/marked by God making us secure from Satan, and proving that we belong to Him. The Holy Spirit that indwells us is the “mark” or “seal” that proves we belong to Him. You either know this to be true or not; I do not know how else to explain it. For me, I know it is true; I have no doubt.

Being marked by God has some distinct advantages. Jesus taught what function the Holy Spirit would play in our lives. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Comforter”[2] and “the Spirit of Truth.”[3] So, He reveals the truth of God’s Word to us and comforts us with God’s Word. The Holy Spirit teaches us from God’s Word and helps us recall God’s Word when we need it.[4] The Holy Spirit gives witness (testifies) of Jesus.[5] He reproves (convicts) “the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment [to come].”[6] The Holy Spirit guides us “into all truth” from God’s Word and of “things to come”[7] as taught in Scripture. He gives the glory to Christ, not to Himself.[8] One sure way to distinguish a true Christian from a false Christian is in the way they glorify Christ. If they hold Christ in low esteem, the Holy Spirit is not in them because the Holy Spirit gives glory to Christ.

Another benefit of God’s mark on believers is His special protection on His children. Jesus referred to believers as His “sheep.” He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:27-30, emphasis mine). The security of which He speaks is eternal security, but eternity, for the believer, begins at the moment He accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Bible says that “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, emphasis mine). Note the present tense of the verb “hath” (has). It does not say “will have eternal life,” but rather “has eternal life.” So, the security the Christian has in the future can be enjoyed in the present, along with all benefits of God’s provision and protection.

The “mark” provides protection. In Revelation, a scene appears to John, the author, of 144,000 Israelis, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, being sealed/marked by God.[9] The sealing of these “servants of God” follows sometime shortly after the “sixth seal” of the scroll is broken,[10] and they witness until sometime after the midpoint of the Tribulation. Their witness results in the salvation of a great multitude of people during that time. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis mine). Apparently, God protects them from being killed until they accomplish their task, before being martyred. At their next mention, we see them in heaven. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads … And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:1, 3, emphasis mine).

No harm befalls God’s children who have His mark upon them, unless He wills it for His purpose and for His glory. I recently found another example of this in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Ezekiel had been taken captive to Babylon in the second stage of Babylonian captivity around 597 BC. He was contemporary with Daniel who was taken captive in the first stage. While there, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the third and final siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians which resulted in the destruction of the Temple and the razing of the city. In his vision,[11]  God showed him six men (angels). Five were dressed in battle array, and one was dressed in white linen (probably the pre-incarnate Christ) having a “writer’s inkhorn.” “And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 9:4, emphasis mine). Jerusalem had sunk into the depths of depravity, yet there were many there who were still faithful to Yahweh and were grieved by the sins of Judah. These God said to mark. “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” (Ezekiel 9:5-6, emphasis mine). Ezekiel’s vision represented what took place in Jerusalem. The Babylonians finally breached the walls of the city and brutally killed young, old, men, women, and children. However, those whom God had marked were spared and were taken alive to Babylon. The Babylonians did not know whom God had marked, but God knew and they were spared.

Almost twenty years ago, I took a graduate course on the subject of Islam taught by a professor that came out of the Muslim faith. In the process of the course, the class viewed videos of actual stonings of Christians who had converted out of Islam. The victims were “judged” by their persecutors. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and a canvas sack was placed over the upper half of their bodies. Then they were lowered into a pre-dug hole that was about waist deep and the hole was filled in around them. With that done, judgment was pronounced and the victims were pelted with huge rocks until their limp bodies fell lifelessly forward, The pelting continued until the executioners were satisfied that the victims were indeed dead. I was in shock as I witnessed the savage inhumanity of the act. What gripped me most of the horrific scenes was the calm with which these Christian martyrs went to their death. They did not protest. They did not cry out for mercy. They did not struggle to free themselves from their captors. They did not renounce their faith, which would have spared their lives. They went quietly to their death. “How is that possible?” I wondered. As I pondered the question, it occurred to me that their calm spirit was a supernatural gift from God, just for such occasions. 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). These martyrs were marked by God. They belong to Him and even though He did not spare their lives, He gave them His peace to endure to the death. Then, the moment their spirits departed their lifeless bodies, Jesus was there to meet them at the gates of heaven with open arms.

Fox’s Book of Martyrs testifies of Christian martyrs of the past who were burned at the stake, drawn and quartered, hung, or beheaded. In every instance, the victims went to their death quietly refusing to recant. Such an act comes not from human bravery, but from a supernatural strength that only God can provide those who are marked by Him.

So, what’s the point? We live in a world full of uncertainty. Our economy is falling apart. Our enemies are circling our camp. The Chinese virus has the world hiding in fear and willing to trust in an unproven vaccine for their health. Even with that, health bureaucrats maintain the fear level by reminding all that the vaccine is not the panacea everyone thinks; all must continue masking and social distancing to ensure against the Wuhan Bug. Sadly, Christians get sucked into all the hype and are equally fearful along with the rest of the hopeless world. This ought not to be because as Christians, we are marked by God. We are assured of His provision and protection in EVERY situation. Even when things seem to go wrong from our perspective, we can be assured: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the [marked] according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine). Those who live in fear should be those whose only hope is in this life; that should not be Christians. Christians should be living a fearless, victorious life, knowing that we are marked by God. He is our Father; we are His children.

Reader, if you do not have that assurance, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 3:5-8

[2]  John 14:16

[3]  John 14:17

[4]  John 14:26

[5]  John 15:26

[6]  John 16:8

[7]  John 16:13

[8]  John 16:14

[9]  Revelation 7:1-8

[10]  Revelation 6:12

[11]  Ezekiel 9

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