Category Archives: New Year’s Day

Tomorrow

 

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:14-15)

At this time of year, we reminisce about the past year. If one is of the contemplative sort, one might assess past failures and successes and consider how one might diminish the former and capitalize on the latter. Then, facing the coming year, we plan for improved outcomes in the year ahead.

Many have noted the number of the coming year, 2020. We associate that number with clear, sharp vision. We all want to see 20/20, and if that is physically impossible, we attempt to make the correction by the use of corrective lenses. That works relatively well for physical vision, but what about those intangible things like the future? The future is always nebulous, obscure, and unpredictable. We can plan, but nothing can guarantee that our planned intentions will work out as we hoped. Sudden illness could strike. Calamity could assail us – a car accident, a natural disaster, loss of income, stock market crash, war, etc. We cannot tell what the future will bring.

Jesus’ half-brother advises: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow” (James 4:13-14). James prompts us to consider, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). We often arrogantly assume that we control our lives and our circumstances, but we delude ourselves when we think that way. We have no control over our lives and circumstances. Our lives, as James says, are but a vapor, like a morning fog that appears briefly and then dissipates with the warmth of the morning sun.

So, does that mean we should not plan ahead? As Paul would say, “God forbid!” We need to plan. In laying out the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:27-33), Jesus said, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? … Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:28, 31). Planning is wise and setting goals is prudent.

However, making plans without including God in one’s planning is presumptuous. Jesus gave the example of a rich man who had a bumper crop and wondered what to do with the abundance (Luke12:16-21). In his presumption, he thought of building bigger barns to store his crops and retiring to a life of leisure. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). That’s the point James makes when he says, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15, emphasis mine). Go ahead and make your plans, but remember that failure or success is in the Lord’s hands, “if the Lord wills.” The saying in Spanish is “Primero Dios” – God first!

Happy New Year!

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Another One Gone!

But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. (Genesis 17:21)

It seems like yesterday that we faced the prospect of 2018, and here we stand on the threshold of 2019. The truth of the adage, “time flies,” manifests itself more conspicuously each year that goes by. It is said that once one reaches middle age (whenever that is), it’s all downhill from there. What is not said is also true. The closer one gets to the bottom of the hill the faster the slide goes. I can confirm that from experience!

As I approach the foot of the hill and the skid velocity increases, it’s the big scenes rushing by that captures my attention. I know what awaits at the bottom of the hill, and it is not the sudden stop that most people would suspect. No. At the bottom of my hill is a beautiful warm eternal ocean, and the events that lead to that peaceful place are the things that capture my attention.

There were several such events in 2018. The nation of Israel celebrated its 70th year as a nation. Students of the Bible recognize the significance of the number 70; 7 represents perfection, and 10 represents completeness. Together (7×10), “it symbolizes perfect spiritual order carried out with all power. It can also represent a period of judgment.”[1] Twenty-eighteen was a Jubilee year for Israel.[2] Not only that, but it was the 70th Jubilee since the Law was given to Moses.

At the celebration of Israel’s “re-birth” day in Jerusalem, the United States, at the direction of our President Donald J. Trump, opened the US Embassy in Jerusalem confirming our country’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

With all of these milestone events converging with other “signs of the times,” I sincerely expected the Rapture to take place sometime around the Jewish New Year – Rosh HaShanah – that transpired between September 10-30. Obviously, because I am still here along with all my brothers and sisters whom the Lord has not taken home, the Rapture did not take place.

End-times prophecy focuses mainly on Israel. While many “signs of the times” have general application like, signs in the sun, moon, and stars,[3] wars and rumors of wars,[4] famines, pestilences, and earthquakes,[5] days like those of Noah,[6] and the general decline in “common” decency,[7] (we see these things occurring all over the world), the true indicator of the proximity of our Lord’s return is the nation of Israel and those things pertaining particularly to her.

The greatest of these signs was Israel’s rebirth as predicted by several of the Major Prophets, but particularly by the Prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel described the re-gathering of the Jews from the four corners of the globe to their ancient homeland given to them by God. Ezekiel saw a valley full of dry bones come together and rise to be a mighty army.[8] His vision came true on May 14, 1948, and indeed, Israel has become a “mighty army,” who, even for its tiny size, boasts the eighth strongest military in the world. Jesus compared Israel to a fig tree. He said that the generation that sees the fig tree bud would see all these prophecies come to pass.[9]

Ezekiel also prophesied a confederation of nations that would attack Israel from the north.[10] The names of those nations, translated from their ancient biblical names, are Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Twenty-eighteen has seen the strengthening of these nations within the borders of Israel’s northern neighbor, Syria.

Interestingly, Syria is not part of the prophesied coalition. The Prophet Isaiah provides insight as to why Syria is not counted among Israel’s attackers. “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1, emphasis mine). Damascus, Syria’s capital, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. However, the prophet predicts that it will be a “ruinous heap.” Current pictures of the city suggest that it is almost there. When Damascus is completely destroyed, Syria will functionally cease from being a nation, which explains why she is not mentioned in Ezekiel’s prophecy. The players are in place for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Very recently, President Trump announced that the US will rapidly pull all of its troops out of Syria within the next few months. Needless to say, this announcement for Israel is cause for grave concern. Without the US in Syria, there is nothing to stop Iran (whose whole purpose in life is to eradicate Israel), Russia, and Turkey from setting up shop in Syria. Who is to stop them? So far, Israel has managed to keep Iran at bay by bombing Iranian military installations in Syria. Russia has “allowed” this probably due to US presence, but with the US pullout, things may change. Iran’s buildup of arms in and around Damascus could bring about the complete destruction of the city by Israel as prophesied by Isaiah and could prompt the invasion of Israel by the coalition. Israel’s misplaced concern about an attack from the north will subside when God comes to her rescue.[11]

For those who are watching and paying attention, 2018 has been an exciting year. When the Rapture did not take place as I anticipated, I was a little disappointed, but not disheartened. Jesus promised, “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 14:2-3, emphasis mine). Jesus will come to Rapture His Bride to keep her from “the hour of temptation.”[12] However, that event is imminent; it could happen at any moment. There are no “signs” to alert us to its proximity. Based on the seven Feasts of the Lord,[13] and knowing that Jesus fulfilled the spring feasts at His first coming, I reasoned that He would fulfill the fall feasts at His Second Coming. That conclusion is still correct. However, His Second Coming takes place at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period.

Some suggest that the Second Coming takes place in two phases. In the first phase, Jesus comes for His church, and we meet Him in the air;[14] He does not come to earth at that time. In the second phase, He returns with His Bride (His “armies”),[15] and the touch of His foot on the Mount of Olives will cause the mountain to split.[16] At that point, He will establish His 1000-year reign on earth.

What I learned in 2018 is that the Feasts of the Lord, like the prophecies of last days, are meant for Israel, not the church. Jesus wants His Bride to be ready at all times, as we learn from the Parable of the Ten Virgins.[17] The Bride Groom may come at any hour when we least expect it. He will not come at the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement or the Feast of Tabernacles. Those feasts are for Israel, not the Church. However, as we discern the signs of the times, and keep an eye on God’s timepiece, Israel, we can be sure that our Bride Groom will come for us very soon. So, be ready. Keep plenty of oil so that your lamp won’t go out. Jesus may come to take us home in 2019 – or not. Regardless, we need to be ready at all times!


[1]  Meaning of Numbers in the Bible: http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/70.html

[2]  Leviticus 25:8-13

[3]  Luke 21:25

[4]  Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9

[5]  Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11

[6]  Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26

[7]  2 Timothy 3:1-7

[8]  Ezekiel 37:1-14

[9]  Matthew 24:32-35

[10]  Ezekiel 38-39

[11]  Ezekiel 38:17-39:4

[12]  Revelation 3:10

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

[14]  1 Thessalonians 4:17

[15]  Revelation 19:14

[16]  Zechariah 14:4

[17]  Matthew 25:1-13

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All Things New

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:5)

For me, 2017[1] ends with mixed reviews. Beginning in January, the uncertainty of a Trump presidency offered a sense of cautious optimism. By this time, however, my opinion of President Donald Trump has swung to a strong positive. I still wish he would learn to control what comes out of his mouth. Then again, he is not a “politician,” so he pretty much tells it like it is. I can appreciate that about him. Of course, his lack of political correctness makes his opponents in government and the media dig in their heels even deeper, but with “his pen and his phone,” he managed to undo much of the harm created by the last administration. One has to admire his tenacity! Here are just some of our President’s accomplishments in his first year:

  1. Passing the tax-cut bill (promise kept)
  2. Neil Gorsuch confirmation to the Supreme Court (promise kept)
  3. Roll-back of [many] regulations (promise kept)
  4. Travel Ban [from terrorist spawning countries] (promise kept)
  5. Declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel (promise kept)
  6. Withdrawal from the Paris climate deal (promise kept)
  7. Pulling out of NAFTA (promise kept)
  8. Roll-back of “some” of Obama’s Cuba policies (promise kept)
  9. Moving to repeal Obama’s net neutrality rules
  10. Fighting and further degrading ISIS (promise kept)[2]

In many ways, our nation improved in 2017. Economically, things are looking up. Companies are beginning to employ more workers due to the reduction in regulations and the prospect of corporate tax cuts. AT&T and others gave substantial year-end bonuses to their employees for the first time in many years. America has regained her status as the leader of the free world and earned back the respect lost by the last administration. However, that has also escalated the tensions with hostile nations like Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia. North Korea has grown more volatile since the days of the last administration. We wonder where that will lead in 2018. Even though America has seen many improvements in 2017, the world remains in a state of unrest as wars and rumors of wars continue to escalate.

Twenty-seventeen brought some disappointments for me. Supposedly, 2017 was the 70th Year of Jubilee[3] since God gave the observance to Moses 3500 years ago. The Jewish year was 5777. The number 10 in the Bible represents completeness, as does the number seven. The number three represents completeness also, but it is usually associated with the triune nature of God. Working together, all these numbers made 2017 significant apocalyptically. The 70th Jubilee is 7 x 10, and the Jewish year included three sevens in a row. Along with that, the U.S. experienced a significant total eclipse[4] all across the continent – a sign for Gentile nations. That was followed by “The Revelation 12 Sign,”[5] which took place on September 23.  Twenty-seventeen was also the 70th anniversary of the United Nations recognizing Israel as a sovereign nation and the 50th anniversary of Israel regaining control of their capital city, Jerusalem, in the 1967 Six-day War. All these things together along with our Lord’s words, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34), made 2017 an excellent time for our Lord’s return.

I do and have for many years held the opinion that Jesus will come for His Bride, the Church, on or around the Feast of Trumpets, which in 2017 took place on September 23/24. However, those days came and went, and we are all still here. One adamant YouTube advocate for the Revelation 12 Sign was often unfairly accused of being a “date setter” by more conservative end-times prophecy “experts” for suggesting that the Rapture “might” take place on the 23rd. Sadly, when the event did not take place, the young man stopped producing YouTube messages. I sympathize with his disappointment, but I have no doubt that Jesus will return for His Church at the appropriate time. When He does come, I want Him to find me occupied in my Father’s business.

We still look for Christ’s return with great anticipation. Some suggest that 2018 could be the year that Jesus comes for His Church. These revised predictions find their basis on the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring its independence on May 14, 1948.  That is as good as any other prediction considering the fact that Jesus never gave us a definite time.

The key factor in all end-times prophecy is the Nation of Israel. All end-times prophecy centers around Israel. Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jews in 70 AD, the Nation of Israel ceased to exist, and for 2000 years, the land remained a barren ruin – a Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37). Then at the turn of the 20th Century, with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the prophet’s vision was realized. The bones started coming together and then the sinew, the flesh, and the skin until in 1948 the dry bones stood up – a mighty army. Never in world history has a people been utterly disseminated among other nations and managed to maintain their identity and customs – and this for over 2000 years. Even the Hebrew, once considered a dead language, has revived as the national language of Israel. The Nation of Israel is nothing less than a miracle.

The fig tree symbolizes the Nation of Israel. Jesus alluded to the fig tree in His prophetic discourse.  He said that when you see the fig tree (Israel) put forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:33-34, emphasis mine). The fig tree has not only budded, but it is now in full-bloom and producing fruit! Jesus guaranteed the truth of His statement. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Seventy years – threescore and ten (Psalm 90:10) – qualifies as a generation. The time is near!

Frivolous distractions by the “fake news” and the “selective news” media blind us to the “rumors of wars” stirring in the Middle East. The Prophet Ezekiel spoke of the armies of Magog (Russia), Tubal (Turkey), Persia (Iran), and a few others gathering against Israel in the “last days” (Ezekiel 38-39). We see that happening now, but few are paying attention. God is preparing the scene for the coming of our Lord. Perhaps 2018 will be the year. I hope so. Regardless, our Lord is faithful, and Jesus will come soon. Therefore, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). We can look forward to the New Year knowing that God has all things well under control. I am excited about whatever He has in store for us!

Happy New Year!

Notes:


[1]  “A New Thing” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/01/01/a-new-thing/

[2]  From The Hill, “Trump’s Top 10 accomplishments of 2017” – http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/366429-trumps-top-10-accomplishments-of-2017

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

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

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

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A New Thing

2017-future-road

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Whew! Got by that one! We dodged a bullet in 2016! While I remain skeptical of a Donald Trump presidency, I believe God granted us a reprieve by saving us from Hillary Clinton. Even so, the current administration continues to do its best to inflict as much damage to this nation, while in the death throes of its waning days.

Who knows what lies ahead in 2017? The stock market has taken an upward turn with the prospect of “President” Donald Trump. If he follows through on half of his promises, there is hope for better days ahead. However, the best of intentions must still deal with reality, and the reality is that we live in a very unstable and volatile world. The future is future. We can look to the past. We exist in the present, but the future is opaque at best, and dark and obscure for the most part. We cannot know what will come to pass. We can plan and hope for the best, but there is no guarantee of a calamity-free future. We can sound the waters, but sometimes there are hidden shoals that can sink our ship.

When navigating unfamiliar waters, an experienced pilot can help the captain guide the ship through safe waterways. A wise captain will turn the ship over to the pilot who knows the way. William Ernest Henley said, “I am the captain of my soul.” That foolish boast failed to avert his bout with tuberculosis, and did not stay the death angel when Henley succumbed to the disease at the age of 53.

We cannot know what 2017 will bring, nor can we avert the adversities that may come upon us. Like Henley, we may prefer to “captain” our own soul, but if we are wise, we will turn the helm over to The Pilot that knows the way. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10, emphasis mine).

No matter what 2017 may bring, God promises to give us “a new thing” and to “make a way in the wilderness, and in rivers in the desert.” If God is your Pilot, you will do fine!

Happy New Year!

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What Next?

Happy-New-Year-2016-Images

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:  (Isaiah 46:9-10)

The Christmas lights are down. The tree and the ornaments are put away. The year 2015 is history. As I mentioned in my previous post, the year began with great expectations, most of which did not materialize, much to my dismay.  But isn’t that the way it often happens! That aside, I did accomplish some personal goals. I donated[1] my 1/60-scale model of Noah’s Ark[2] to the Institute for Creation Research.  I read the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible through.  My wife and I signed up with a physical trainer in May and stuck with the program. I lost 25 pounds, so far, and gained noticeable strength and endurance, which encouraged my doctor to take me off of my blood pressure meds. We also took a cruise along the northeast coast which granted me a longtime dream of standing on the deck of the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides” – a wish-come-true for this old Navy boy.

In retrospect, many positive experiences and accomplishments took place in 2015, but my greatest desire did not come to pass – the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of many positive “signs,” the Lord, in His omniscience, determined that the time was not right. That in itself is a positive thing, especially for those who are lost and in need of the Savior. God in His mercy has delayed His judgment on this world (2 Peter 3:9).

So, what is in store for 2016? What comes next? Will the Lord return in 2016, or will we go to meet Him in death? Will we enjoy good health or will we or one of our loved ones experience serious illness?  Will this be the year that our lost loved ones accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? Will our national economy implode, or will it take an upswing turn for the better? Who will be voted President, and will he (or she) have a positive influence on the country? Will our nation once more get dragged into an unwanted war?

There are so many questions for which we cannot know the answers! Certainly as we analyze world affairs, the outlook seems grim, and it makes for a good source for depression. Several coping methods can be employed to deal with the unknown and unpredictable. We can isolate and insolate ourselves from negative input. Shut off TV news, turn off the radio, and stop reading newspapers, magazines and social media. Another option is to numb your mind through chemistry, entertainment, pleasure, or other distractions. If you can’t hear it, see it or feel it, it’s not really there. Right? A third option is to face the world head on. Be aware of what is going on around you and in the world. Prepare for adversity but with hope, not paranoia. Rest in the assurance that you are under God’s protection. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father … Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-29, 31).

What next? There is no way to know what the future holds, so trust Him who holds the future. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34). The Lord knows what 2016 will bring. He knows “the end from the beginning,” and we can be sure that He has included us in His plans. Happy 2016!

Notes:


[1]  http://www.icr.org/article/noahs-ark-model

[2]  https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/03/01/building-the-ark/

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