Category Archives: Theology

Racism

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:24-26)

The word “racism” has become a truncheon with which to bludgeon any opponent for any perceived infraction of the new social norms, which change almost on a daily basis. Those on the left often employ ad hominem attacks to silence their opposition, but the one that strikes terror into the heart of every conservative/Christian is the epithet of “racist.” Therefore, any decision President Trump makes, whether or not it favors the leftists, is denounced as racist. Ironically, the true racists rail the loudest, but that is another matter.

Racism, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others; hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”[1]

Racism should not be named among anyone, but especially not among Bible-believing Christians. From the very beginning of creation, the Bible records that God made one pair of human beings, and these two were created in His image.[2] God created one male and one female to carry on the natural process of reproduction and to be caretakers of God’s creation. God purposed the sexual union between opposite sexes to be permanent and productive.[3] Immediately after the Fall,[4] Adam and Eve started to reproduce[5] and before long the earth teemed with people. Without getting into the technical details of the human genome, the perfect DNA of the first couple contained the information to produce a variety of skin colors, hair colors and textures, eye colors, different body frames and heights, facial characteristics, etc. Our lead verse above confirms that God “made of one blood” all nations. The “locked-in” ethnic distinctions resulted from human dispersion after the Flood[6] at the Tower of Babel rebellion.[7] Regardless of ethnic “distinctions,” all human beings are of “one blood.”

I dislike the question on medical forms that asks one to mark down what “race” one is. I always write in “human” and “Hispanic” on the follow-up question that inquires about ethnicity. There is only one “race” – the human race (and we are not a “species” because we are not animals). One would think the medical community would understand such an undeniable biological fact, but alas, after more than a century and a half of Darwinian indoctrination, the Imago Dei has devolved into just another species of animal with a variety of subspecies or “races.”

The variety of ethnic groups (“races” from here on) in centuries past was of little consequence.  Following the dispersion at the Tower of Babel rebellion, “like” races united by language (they had to understand each other) and migrated to different areas around the world. This accomplished God’s purpose for the human race to “fill the earth.” This also had the effect of stamping identifying characteristics in their DNA, which changed very little over thousands of years. Our passage above notes that God determined “the bounds of their habitation.” God invented borders! These boundaries kept ethnic groups from intermingling. Consequently, racism within borders was not a problem. Racism between different races found its expression in wars of conquest in which the victor either slaughtered their victims or assimilated them into their own societies.

Some accuse Israel of racism for carrying out God’s directive to eradicate the Canaanites from the Promised Land. God had a reason for that. The Canaanites were not only idol worshipers, but they sacrificed their babies to demon gods, they practiced sexual perversion in their worship of demon gods, and they conducted all kinds of occult practices. These were wicked people and God wanted to cleanse the land of them. However, Israel failed to complete the task and against God’s commandments, they intermarried with the people of the land and adopted their practices. Following the Diaspora, first in Babylonian captivity and then the dispersion following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Jews adopted a form of racism that does not really fit the definition of racism. Jews have for millennia attempted to keep their race pure; they avoid intermarriage with the goyim (Gentiles). However, this is not new. It is very much in keeping with God’s desire for them to be a “peculiar people.” I do not believe that Jews “hate” other races; they just want to keep theirs distinct. And it’s a good thing too, because in doing so, they have fulfilled end-time prophecy.

As previously stated, while races remained within their borders, racism virtually did not exist. Racism occurs when borders are breached. That kind of racism finds its expression in wars between nations (ethnic groups). However, as cross-country and intercontinental travel increased, racism found a new form of expression. A stranger’s speech, form of dress, color or texture of hair, diet, smell, or any other characteristic distinguishing the stranger from the “nationals” engendered ridicule, abuse, exclusion, or isolation.

Darwin’s The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex further exacerbated the problem by attempting to make distinctions between the races of men making some further “evolved” than others.  In making these distinctions, he assigned the black race the position closest to our ape ancestors. At the time, in America, and other places in the world, black men and women were taken from their God-assigned borders in Africa and sold like animals into slavery. Since they were considered less human, slavery could be easily rationalized.

Slavery is nothing new. It has existed since the beginning of time. The second book of the Bible, Exodus, records how the children of Israel became slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. After they came up out of slavery, God gave laws on the proper, humane treatment of slaves (servants). They were often accepted as part of the family. Some slaves were given great responsibility as “stewards” of their masters’ possessions.  Paul, in his letters to the churches, gave instructions on how slaves should behave with their masters and how masters should treat their slaves.[8] Now just because the Bible provides instructions on the humane treatment of slaves, it does not imply that God condones the practice. God does hate divorce,[9] but he allows for it because of man’s fallen condition.[10] Likewise, the same concept applies to slavery.

A common misconception exists that the slave trade in the 16th to 19th centuries involved mainly white slave traders. The fact is that certain powerful African tribes preyed on weaker ones to sell them to white slave traders for profit. Blacks sold other blacks into slavery. “The major Atlantic slave trading nations, ordered by trade volume, were the Portuguese, the British, the Spanish, the French, the Dutch Empires, and the Danish. Several had established outposts on the African coast where they purchased slaves from local African leaders” (emphasis mine).[11] This, of course, does not absolve the white slave traders, but it demonstrates that they do not bear the burden alone. It appears that this is an early example of black-on-black crime.

Most in the United States frowned upon slavery. Even in the South, only a small percentage of white farmers owned slaves. “In 1860, according to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 75 percent of white families in the United States owned not a single slave, while 1 percent of families owned 40 or more. Just a tenth of 1 percent of Americans owned 100 or more slaves. That same year, 1860, 31 percent of all slaves in the U.S. were held on plantations of 40 or more slaves, while a majority (53 percent) were held on farms of between 7 and 39 slaves, says the institute.”[12] Perhaps a better way to put it is that only about 25% (1/4) of the entire United States population owned slaves, and most of those were in the southern states. In addition, most of the slaves were owned by large plantation owners who made up a very small fraction of the population. Therefore, while the record of slavery in the United States is certainly a blight on our history, it seems grossly unfair that the majority of white people currently living should be held accountable for the sins of a small minority 160 years ago.

From the founding of our nation, the great majority of Americans held slavery in contempt based on the Word of God and our founding documents that affirm that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”[13] “All men” means all men, regardless of race, religion, or social standing. Slavery cannot stand under that declaration, and, when President Lincoln was elected in 1860 on a platform to end slavery, that initiated the Civil War. Whites and blacks died in that great war that pitted brother against brother. It was ugly, but so is slavery.

One would hope that the Civil War settled the issue of racism in the United States. I am not black, so I cannot empathize with their perception of “systemic racism” in the United States. Frankly, I do not see it. I am certain that racism exists, and it probably always will. However, I believe we have made great strides in the USA to eliminate overt racism, but there will always be some. A close neighbor of mine openly admits that he is racist. He does not like black people. Alright, as long as we live in a free nation, he has the right to hold his views as long as he does not act upon them in a way that will violate someone else’s rights.

Being of Hispanic origin – my roots go all the way back to Spain – and of Mexican heritage – my father immigrated from Mexico – I have experienced racism from stupid white men that saw me as inferior because of my race. (Mexican is a nationality, not a race, but stupid people do not know the difference.) However, I never allowed racist remarks to affect me in a negative way or make me feel inferior to my assailants. And I never allowed those few ignoramuses to cause me to paint all white people as racists because of a few dummies. (I feel strange distinguishing other whites as “white.” Having come from European descent, I am white also.)

My racist neighbor grew up in Ohio. He is of Italian descent. He tells me of all the racial battles he faced growing up, racism between Italians and Irish. Racism comes in all colors. It is not just black and white. Regardless of its form, racism is just wrong. Racism is sin because the God who made us all in His image, made us all of one blood, and we are His prized creation. As such, we have one who hates us for that very reason and will do all that is within his power to divide and conquer us. That is what racism is all about. Satan[14] hates human beings, and he aims to destroy us.[15]

Just from my observations, which only take note of the exterior but seldom see beneath the surface, it seems to me that blacks are more deeply offended when they perceive racism employed against them, whether real or imagined. I worked with a couple of black guys in two different jobs. We always got along fine and never had any relational problems. However, I noticed that when they would be reprimanded or if they received a less than stellar evaluation, they would always attribute the perceived negativity to racism. It was because they were black. I experienced being called a racist by a black worker I supervised. He quit the job because of that, but when I confronted him about it, he could not explain to me what it was I did to warrant that accusation. I did all I could to encourage him not to quit, but he quit anyway.

In the Navy, while I was stationed onboard the USS Sperry AS-12, between 1970-1974, I noticed how black sailors would all gather at one table on the mess decks to the exclusion of all others. Of course, the civil rights demonstrations of the ’60s were still pretty much current events, but these guys made no strides at racial reconciliation. In fact, they went out of their way to intimidate any white sailor that tried to sit at “their” table.

If we are honest, we have to admit that the racism of blacks against whites is more prevalent than the racism of whites against blacks. And I do not understand why, unless it is intentional or perhaps they see themselves as inferior and assume all white people view them in the same way. I do not know. I am not a psychologist. Regardless, racism, regardless of who practices it, is sin.

Because racism is sin, Christians should be the first ones to identify it and the first to reject it. It does not matter the color of skin God gave us, racism should not be named within the Christian community. Yet, we remain sinners even though we are saved by grace. But we can try, and the effort pleases God.

Very recently, two churches, one black and one white, met together to talk about the issue of racism. The pastors of both churches agreed on all points, particularly on the fact that racism is sin. However, rightly or wrongly, it seemed to me that the black pastor indirectly implied that the problem of racism lies with white people, and that white people are primarily responsible for rectifying it. The black pastor was the first to present. He began his presentation by posting the faces of ten black people (8 men, 2 women) who died at the hands of whites: Trayvon Martin,[16] Tamir Rice,[17] Emmit Teal,[18] Eric Garner,[19] Philando Castile,[20] Ahmaud Abrey,[21] George Floyd,[22] Rayshard Brooks,[23] Sandra Bland,[24] and Breonna Taylor.[25]

With a few exceptions, all of these people died in altercations with police officers for resisting arrest, and most had criminal records. In all cases, the deaths were due to poor choices by the victims. In the case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year old, he aimed a realistic-looking pistol at police, and the police reacted in an understandable manner. Tamir, sadly, ended up dead. Emmit Teal, a 14-year old, was lynched by a couple of rednecks (in the ’50s) for allegedly insulting a white woman, the wife of one of the murderers. That case definitely can be called a racist crime, no doubt. Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction and rather than comply with the officer’s request for her driver’s license, she resisted the officer and became verbally abusive to him. This resulted in her arrest, not because of the traffic violation, but because of her refusal to comply with the officer’s requests, which is against the law. She allegedly hung herself in her jail cell. The matter remains under investigation, but she would still be alive if she had just said, “Yes, Sir” and handed the officer her driver’s license. Breonna Taylor died in a shoot out with police officers who came with a warrant to search for drugs. Breonna was in her apartment with her boyfriend and supposedly did not hear the officers knocking. When the officers broke down the door, Breonna’s boyfriend reacted by firing his gun at the police. Breonna was collateral damage.

All of these cases are tragic, but of the ten, only one can actually be said was the result of racism, and that one did not involve the police. There is a spirit of anarchy pervading our nation that wants to divide us racially, economically, and socially. This same spirit wants to destroy our foundations and topple our system of government by eliminating our system of law enforcement. Systemic racism does not exist in our nation, and it does not exist in law enforcement, but leftists and their media continue to propagate the lie. Consider the lie that blacks are disproportionately killed by white police officers: “Study Destroys Argument That White Cops are Shooting Black Men.”[26] Race is not the issue in police shootings of black men.[27] Another headline reads, “New Police Shooting Stats Show Law Enforcement Is Not the Enemy.”[28] In fact, it appears that more blacks kill cops than the other way around.[29]

To make racism a white issue based on unfounded, isolated cases propagated by the leftist media is not only illogical and irrational, it places the burden of racism unfairly on the majority of white people. Yet the black pastor, perhaps unwittingly and without malice, placed the responsibility of resolution, in context of the Church, on white Christians. He pointed out that the “fact of Racism exists in the World. More specifically for our discussion, in the Church. It is not a figment of the mind of black people.” I propose that it is mostly in the mind of black people who refuse to relinquish it because it offers a convenient excuse for not taking responsibility for their own actions and failings. The black pastor also suggested that “In order for racism to be mitigated, Black Christians need white Christians to recognize it, repent of it and work toward the meaningful reconciliation that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:19).” That is an excellent recommendation, but it fails to assign any responsibility to blacks who can be just as guilty of racism.

The black pastor quoted from The Woke Church by Eric Mason, p. 163: “What needs to happen in the body if we are going to work together cross-ethnically is that white Christians must reach across the color line and begin building respect and trust for minorities, minorities must respond with open arms and hearts to these efforts.” (Emphasis mine). The pastor added, “Not only do white Christians need to speak up, Black Christians, who have achieved a level of success need to speak up every time we witness the [perceived] injustice of racism. Silence from any Christian for any reason gives permission to evil!” I submit this is one thing they do consistently.

I did not quote anything that the white pastor said because he went along with everything the black pastor said and offered no objection but rather acquiesced to the unfair implication that all the fault lies with the white community, and it is the responsibility of the white community to resolve the issue of racism.

Racism exists. It is sin. It is sin that infects all skin tones. The white pastor pointed out how the Israelites were very racist against Gentiles. Well, Gentiles come in all colors, so the comparison is apples to oranges. Regardless of the form, racism is wrong. However, it cannot be legislated away. It is a problem of the heart and only Jesus can change the heart. As for Christians, both black and white, we need to make the concerted effort to look beyond the color of a person’s skin. We should all, black and white, heed the words of Martin Luther King who said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Those words have been mostly aimed at whites, but it applies equally to blacks also.

Racism is sin and should not be named among Christians. “There is neither Jew nor Greek [nor black nor white], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

 Notes:


[1]  “Racism” – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/racism?s=t

[2]  Genesis 1:26-28

[3]  Genesis 2:23-24

[4]  Genesis 3

[5]  Genesis 4-5

[6]  Genesis 6-9

[7]  Genesis 11

[8]  Ephesians 6:5-9

[9]  Malachi 2:13-16

[10]  Matthew 19:3-9

[11]  “Atlantic Slave Trade” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade

[12]  “Slavery, by the Numbers,” The Root website: https://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

[13]  Quoted from the Declaration of Independence

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

[15]  “The Devil” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/09/23/the-devil/

[16]  https://townhall.com/columnists/williammarshall/2019/09/13/exposing-the-trayvon-martin-hoax-n2553059

[17]  https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/mikehayes/heres-a-brief-history-of-the-tamir-rice-shooting

[18]  https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/emmett-till

[19]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Eric_Garner

[20]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Philando_Castile

[21]  https://www.nytimes.com/article/ahmaud-arbery-shooting-georgia.html

[22]  https://nypost.com/2020/06/02/george-floyd-had-violent-criminal-history-minneapolis-union-chief/ and https://www.cbsnews.com/news/george-floyd-death-autopsies-homicide-axphyxiation-details/

[23]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Rayshard_Brooks

[24]  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/07/sandra-bland-video-footage-arrest-death-police-custody-latest-news

[25]  https://www.wdrb.com/news/separating-facts-from-fiction-in-the-breonna-taylor-case/article_94fb82fc-b10c-11ea-9305-43c10123a542.html

[26]  https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/study-destroys-argument-that-white-cops-are-shooting-black-men/

[27]  “There Is No Epidemic of Racist Police Shootings” https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/07/white-cops-dont-commit-more-shootings/

[28] https://www.newsmax.com/bernardkerik/police-shootings-crime-statistics/2019/01/22/id/899297/

[29]  “5 Statistics You Need To Know About Cops Killing Blacks” – https://www.dailywire.com/news/5-statistics-you-need-know-about-cops-killing-aaron-bandler

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Looking for Antichrist

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:18)

For longer than I have studied end-times prophecy (and I by no way count myself as an expert), prophecy watchers have sought to determine the identity of the end-times Antichrist. Our starting verse above suggests that someone with “wisdom” can know the name of the “the beast,” the Antichrist, by calculating the “number of his name” – 666. By assigning numerical values to the letters of the alphabet, some in the past (perhaps even now) have used this “clue” to determine the name of the Antichrist. However, these overlook the fact that the Revelation was written in Koine Greek, and they apply this method to the English alphabet. Hence, several candidates have come and gone: Napoleon, Hitler, and several U.S. Presidents among others.

Personally, I believe that the identity of the Antichrist should be of no concern for Christians for reasons I will discuss later. When the Antichrist arrives on the scene, how will the world recognize him?

The Antichrist appears first in the Book of Daniel where the prophet characterizes him as a “little horn”[1] that rises out of a ten-nation confederacy. Without going into a lengthy explanation, a “horn” symbolizes a “kingdom” or a “king.” That the horn is “little” suggests perhaps a political leader having little authority at first, but then rises to power. Adolf Hitler is a good example of how this can happen. In my opinion, the “little horn” is alive and politically active right not, but because of his “little” position, he does not occupy the limelight. However, according to Daniel, he will arise and assume great power.

The Antichrist next appears in the Book of Daniel where the prophet characterizes him as a “prince.”[2] The Hebrew word translated “prince” is nâgı̂yd, which means “commander” (civil, military, or religious). “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine). The “one week” is a translation of the Hebrew “one seven;” in other words, a group of seven years. This is the final seven years of Daniel’s 70 “weeks” of years determined for Daniel’s people, the Jews[3] that we know as the Tribulation.

According to the prophet, the “prince” will “confirm the covenant” for seven years (one week). This suggests that a covenant (treaty or agreement) already exists that has not been ratified. He does not “make” the covenant, but he makes the covenant effective.

Unless you live under a rock, you should be aware of all the problems with Israel and its Arab neighbors. So persistent are the “wars and rumors of wars”[4] in Israel that the media does not even bother to report on it unless they can somehow vilify Israel. President Donald Trump with the help of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has devised the “deal of the century” to bring peace to the Middle East particularly as it involves Israel and the “Palestinians.” However, the plan finds strong resistance from the Palestinians and other Muslim nations.

Could this be the “covenant” that Antichrist will confirm? Who will rise to make the covenant effective? As noted above, the “little horn” will not be known until he comes to power and confirms the covenant with Israel for seven years. If you are around when that happens, you are in for a long, hard seven years, but even then there is hope.

Daniel foretells that Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel after 3½ years by desecrating the Temple. Right now, there is not a Temple in Jerusalem, but the Temple Faithful[5] have everything needed to rebuild the Temple. The original Ark of the Covenant is hidden for now, though they claim to know its location. In order for Antichrist to desecrate the Temple, a Temple must exist. Jesus said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation [i.e. the Antichrist], spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16). Perhaps rebuilding the Temple is part of Trump’s Deal of the Century!

The Apostle Paul refers to Antichrist as “that man of sin” and “the son of perdition.”[6] This is the one “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, emphasis mine). Antichrist is an atheist. He opposes everything pertaining to God and even exalts himself above God. Daniel also makes this point. “And the king [i.e. the “little horn”] shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done” (Daniel 11:36, emphasis mine). Worse than being an atheist, Antichrist will actually worship Satan. “But in his estate shall he honour the [g]od of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things” (Daniel 11:38). The “god of forces” is Satan, who controls the powers and principalities who are the demonic realm.

This “spirit of antichrist” prevails in our world today. Humans reject God, and in effect, make themselves gods. The Apostle John, author of the Book of Revelation makes this point: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). That applies to many today. “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:3, emphasis mine). “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18, emphasis mine). However, the Antichrist will top them all.

In the Book of Revelation, John describes the Antichrist as a “beast” rising “up out of the sea.”[7] Symbolically, the “sea” refers to the masses of humanity. He receives his power from “the dragon,”[8] i.e., Satan. Apparently, sometime in the first half of the Tribulation[9] he receives a deadly head wound from which he revives.[10] This “miracle” imitates Christ’s resurrection from the dead so that the people of the world “worshipped the dragon that gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast” (Revelation 13:4). After this, he gains power for the remaining 3½ years of the Tribulation. This seems to be the time when he desecrates the Temple. Perhaps after “rising from the dead,” he convinces himself that he is god. “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:6, emphasis mine). “Tabernacle” and “Temple” are synonymous. Further along in the chapter, a “second beast” is described. Prophecy students understand this beast to be the “false prophet” imitating the Holy Spirit. He erects an image of Antichrist and forces all people of the world to worship the image. Some think that the false prophet erects the image in the Temple, which is actually what desecrates the Temple. Note the counterfeit trinity: Satan in the place of God, the Beast in the place of Christ, and the False Prophet (the second beast) in the place of the Holy Spirit.

In brief, this is how Antichrist will be recognized. I do not believe that Christians will be around when Antichrist makes the scene. Paul assures us that the Rapture of the Church will take place before the Antichrist is revealed. He says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:3, emphasis mine). That “falling away” is apostasia in the Greek, which refers to a defection or turning away from “the faith.” We see that happing all around us, as churches and denominations reject the teachings of the Bible and substitute entertainment for true worship. I wonder if churches closing out of fear of the Wuhan bug demonstrates a lack of faith for God’s protection and His admonition to “Not forsak[e] the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, emphasis mine).

The “falling away” continues. Paul goes on to say that Antichrist will not show up until the “restrainer” is taken out of the way. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he [the Antichrist] might be revealed in his time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6, emphasis mine). “Withhold” is the Greek word katechō, which means to “hold down fast.” Paul admits that iniquity exists even now, but its full power is restrained until “he who now [katechō] will [restrain], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). That “Restrainer” is the Holy Spirit who resides within every true believer that makes up the Church, the Bride of Christ. When the Holy Spirit departs, the Church departs because Jesus promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). He said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter [i.e., the Holy Spirit], that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).

So, don’t waste a lot of time and effort trying to figure out who the Antichrist is. Rather, study the signs of the last days given in the Bible. Pay attention to what is going on in the world around you. Especially, look at what is going on in Israel. The time is very near. And if you are unsure of your position with God, Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Daniel 7:8

[2]  Daniel 9:26

[3]  Daniel 9:24

[4]  Matthew 24:6

[5]  The Temple Faithful – http://templemountfaithful.org/

[6]  2 Thessalonians 2:3

[7]  Revelation 13:1

[8]  Revelation 13:2

[9]  The Tribulation is detailed in Revelation 6-19

[10]  Revelation 13:3

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How Soon They Forget!

Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: (Deuteronomy 8:11)

Forgetfulness gets us in trouble many times, like when you forget some special someone’s birthday or anniversary. Forgetfulness can be annoying, like when you walk into a room and wonder why you entered. Someone once said that “The only thing faster than the speed of thought is the speed of forgetfulness. Good thing we have other people to help us remember.”[1] Some kinds of forgetfulness are worse than others. When you forget a special day, you can always make it up and get forgiveness. When you walk into a room and forget why you entered, you can always walk back out and remember when you get busy doing something else. However, forgetting God and the blessings He has bestowed on us, well, that just makes us ingrates, but worse, it raises up a barrier to our relationship with Him.

Reading through the biblical history of Israel, the characteristic that stands out above all others is forgetfulness, which often manifests in the spirit of ingratitude. When God led them out of Egypt, they soon forgot the hardship of their bondage and started complaining about the manna God provided for them in the desert. After God audibly spoke to them at Mount Sinai and gave them His Ten Commandments, they soon forgot the first one and built a golden calf to worship.

That pattern followed them throughout their history until God finally had enough and sent the Assyrians first to punish Israel (the northern kingdom) then, 100 years later, He sent the Babylonians to punish Judah. The northern kingdom, Israel, was deported to the region that we know today as northeastern Iraq,[2] and they assimilated with the Assyrian culture gaining the moniker of the “Ten Lost Tribes.” Nebuchadnezzar carried off the Jews[3] in three waves, 597 BC, 586 BC, and finally 581 BC, but the Judah Jews retained their identity throughout their captivity (as they have to this day).

The Babylonian captivity for the Jews lasted only 70 years as God had determined for them.[4] Daniel records the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC[5] by Cyrus as predicted by Isaiah the prophet.[6] After conquering Babylon, Cyrus issued a decree[7] that allowed the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem and their Temple. It took the Jews about 23 years to rebuild the Temple razed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. “And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king” (Ezra 6:15).[8]

Fifty-six years (by my calculations) after the completion of the Temple, Ezra, priest and scribe,[9] left Babylon to assess the Temple situation. This was during the seventh year of Artaxerxes I’s (465-425 BC) reign; this would have been around 458 BC. In the interim, between the completion of the Temple and Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem, the enemies of the Jerusalem Jews had been carrying on a letter-writing campaign with the Persian kings to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem.[10] Therefore, all building (except for the Temple which was completed) had ceased.

At about this same time, (20th year of Artaxerxes I, 445 BC) Nehemiah heard about the battered condition of Jerusalem and how the city walls were broken down. This caused him great grief and from his position as the “king’s cupbearer,” he requested permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. Ezra was already in Jerusalem. So Nehemiah took charge, and against much opposition, rebuilt the walls in just 52 days.[11]

I have a reason for providing all that detail. I began by reciting Israel’s forgetfulness and unfaithfulness to the LORD their God. Finally, after 70 years of captivity, God worked through pagan kings to allow them to return to their homeland. With the blessing of the Persian kings, beginning with Cyrus, God provided the way and the resources for them to rebuild their Temple and the walls of the city in record time. All of this was God’s doing, and God’s hand can be clearly seen over all of it. One would think that after all of that, they would remember their God.

They did, briefly. Once the walls were completed and Ezra had the priests and Levites all organized, they had a dedication for the Temple and the City walls. The scene recorded in Nehemiah 8 and 9 harkens back to a similar gathering when King Josiah read the Book of the Law that had been found in Solomon’s Temple.[12] On this occasion, Ezra stood on a “pulpit” and read Scripture from morning until noon. And the people stood and listened, and the Levites “taught the people” and they “read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8, emphasis mine). The clarity given to God’s word was necessary because the people had been speaking Aramaic in their captivity and probably lost a lot of their use and understanding of Hebrew – the language of the Scripture.

As a result, there was a great “revival” among the people. They discovered that it displeased God for them to intermarry with pagans, so all those who married pagan wives divorced them. They committed to follow God completely. So, for the twelve years that Nehemiah governed,[13] they were faithful to their commitment. However, Nehemiah had to return to his post at the side of Artaxerxes[14] and was there for “certain days.” In his brief absence, things (spiritually) fell into disarray once again. Eliashib, the priest, arranged an apartment inside the Temple for Tobia the Ammonite, the mortal enemy of Nehemiah, violating the Law of God.[15] Nehemiah observed many Jews violating the Sabbath and foreign merchants peddling their goods inside the city gates on the Sabbath. All these things from which they “repented” were taking place as normal. They also started marrying pagan wives again. How soon they forget!

It is no wonder that God stopped speaking to them after this for the next 400 years. Then Jesus came, and they failed to recognize Him because they forgot what Scripture foretold about Him. We should not be too critical, though. We have the complete canon of God’s Word, and we still forget.

I have stated before, when I read the history of Israel, I see a striking parallel with our nation, the U.S.A. We have forgotten God too, and if God stopped dealing with His “chosen people” what makes us think that we should get preferential treatment? I think we have gone too far in our forgetfulness.

There is hope for the U.S.A., for Israel, and for the whole world. Soon, and very soon, Jesus will return and set up His kingdom on Earth, and all things will be made right. Are you prepared to meet Him? See my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration, (Norilana Books, http://www.norilana.com/, 2010).

[2]  2 Kings 17:6

[3]  Name derived from “Judah”

[4]  Jeremiah 25:11-12

[5]  Daniel 5:30

[6]  Isaiah 44:28; 45:1

[7]  Ezra 5:13

[8]  Darius reigned between 522-486 BC

[9]  Ezra 7:6

[10] Ezra 4:8-22 (is a “sample” letter that is out of sequence with the narrative)

[11] Nehemiah 6:15

[12]  “Too Good, Too Late” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/05/17/too-good-too-late/

[13]  Nehemiah 5:14-15

[14]  Nehemiah 13:6

[15]  Deuteronomy 23:3

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Too Good, Too Late

For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. (Isaiah 57:16)

Of all of God’s attributes, one is that of patience or longsuffering. “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). God’s patience is infinite, as He is infinite. However, God sets a limit on His patience as our starting verse makes clear; He will not “contend” with us forever. The Hebrew word translated “contend” is rı̂yb and it means “to toss, that is, grapple; to wrangle, that is, hold a controversy; to debate.

The earliest example we find in the Bible appears in the account of the Global Flood.[1] For almost 1600 years following Creation, men grew progressively perverse even though God’s witnesses existed in abundance. Their original father, Adam, lived for more than half of that time.[2] The letter to the Hebrews records that “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5, emphasis mine). Jesus’ half-brother, Jude, noted, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 1:14-15). Yet, with all these witnesses over the many years, the wickedness of humans only increased. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6). God’s patience reached its limit, and He sent the Flood.

However, God’s plan for the redemption of man never deviated. God’s salvation would come through Abraham and through his “seed.”[3] Abraham’s seed went through his son, Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob/Israel. Israel, that is the descendants of Jacob, soon put God’s patience to the test shortly after He rescued them from Egyptian bondage.

Not long after their exit from Egypt, they fell into idolatry by worshipping the golden calf[4] even though God earlier gave them His Ten Commandments. Then, one generation after entering the Promised Land, they fell right back into their old idolatrous ways. God would punish them, they would repent, God forgave and they would do it over again. This remained true throughout their history.

After King Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam failed to keep the nation united and the northern ten tribes seceded and formed their own nation, Israel. The southern kingdom survived with two tribes, Benjamin and Judah and went by the name of the larger tribe, Judah.

Israel immediately fell into idolatry and all her kings “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.” God’s patience with Israel reached its limit after 200 years, and the Assyrians under the King Shalmaneser[5] invaded and expatriated the entire population of Israel and deported them to “Halah and in Harbor by the river of Gozan, and the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 17:6), which is somewhere in present-day northeastern Iraq.

Judah fared somewhat better. Most of her kings “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD;” however, they tolerated idolatry in the land even though they themselves may not have practiced idolatry. It all began with Solomon who actually built temples to the gods of his many wives and even joined them in the practice while maintaining the worship of God. After Solomon, the kingdom of Judah survived for 333 years, about 100 years longer than Israel. Judah had many “good” kings, but the ones that were bad were very bad.

Manasseh probably ranked as the worst of Judah’s bad kings. Not only did he follow “after the abominations of the heathen” but “he reared up altars for Baal,” “worshipped the host of heaven, and served them,” “built altars in the house of the LORD … in the two courts of the house of the LORD,” “he made his son pass through the fire,” and “he set a graven image … that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David … I will put my name forever”[6] Manasseh “seduced [Judah] to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:9).

Judah encountered the limit of God’s patience with Manasseh. “Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations … Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. … I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day” (2 Kings 21:11-15, emphasis mine).

Manasseh’s son, Amon, followed in his father’s footsteps, but his reign lasted only two years. However, his grandson, Josiah, was arguably Judah’s best king ever. He was only eight years old when he took the throne, but he did what his predecessors failed to do. He destroyed all the places of idol worship throughout the land and executed the pagan priests. He renovated and rededicated Solomon’s Temple that had fallen into disrepair and had been desecrated by Manasseh, Ahaz[7], and others. In the process of cleaning up the Temple, Hilkiah, the high priest, discovered “the book of the law in the house of the LORD.”[8] “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (2 Kings 22:11). Of Josiah, Scripture records, “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25).

Judah made a great turn-around because of good King Josiah. It was almost too good, but it was too late. “Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:26-27, emphasis mine). About eleven years later, Nebuchadnezzar came and subdued Judah and took her children off to Babylonian captivity. Josiah was too good, too late. God’s plan would not change.

When I read the history of Israel in the Bible I cannot help but draw a parallel between that nation and the United States of America. There are many comparisons that can be drawn. However, there is one major difference that we often overlook. Israel was chosen by God for a specific purpose that is yet to be fulfilled. The United States was not. As we see the “end of days” on the horizon, Israel is very much in the picture; the U.S. is not.

However, there are some similarities, especially in the spiritual sense. Both nations had a strong foundation on the Word of God, and both nations lost their moorings from that foundation. The founding of the U.S. started long before 1776 or the signing of the Constitution in 1787. It began with the arrival of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock in November 1620 “for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith.”[9] If the U.S. is chosen by God, it is chosen only because of His people who maintain and uphold the Christian Faith, but those numbers are diminishing. Israel was chosen by God with a non-conditional promise made to Abraham, and regardless of Israel’s lack of loyalty or devotion to God, God will not renege on His promise. The U.S. does not enjoy that kind of commitment from God. We are nothing special.

Truly God has blessed this nation because of His people that inhabit this land and because our nation has, for the most part, obeyed God’s word and maintained that “In God We Trust.” However, over the years, that loyalty to God has waned, and we have allowed pagan gods to influence and even to dominate our government and our society.

After World War II the moral state of our nation took a downward turn. We banned prayer and the Bible from public schools. Then we sanctioned abortions on demand. At first, abortions were limited to the first trimester, but now many states accept infanticide as “a woman’s right.” Homosexuality was once a shameful practice kept “in the closet,” but now every kind of sexual perversion is not only tolerated but encouraged.

The Obama Administration saw the morality of the nation cascade like going over Niagara Falls. The sins of the nation brought with it a sharp decline in the prosperity of the nation. Things looked grim. Then came Donald Trump. Perhaps not the perfect picture of a Christian, but he has done more to promote the Christian Faith than any president before him. He declared Jerusalem the rightful capital of Israel and moved our embassy there. He blessed Israel and God says, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Genesis 12:3). President Trump has done more to turn this country around than any previous president.

Then the Wuhan Bug hit. Many economists believe that our country may never recover. This downturn in the economy affects the whole world, not just the U.S. Many of our leaders and leaders of other nations are calling for a one-world government to fix the mess in which we find ourselves. The Bible warned that such would be the end of days. So, for all the good President Trump has done, it may be too good, too late.

Christians everywhere claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 hoping for a turn-around. However, that verse was specifically for Israel. The U.S. is NOT Israel, and we, the Church, are not Israel. When God’s patience reached its limit and Nebuchadnezzar surrounded Jerusalem, Jeremiah prayed fervently for deliverance. God answered, “Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence” (Jeremiah 14:11-12, emphasis mine). If that was God’s attitude toward His “chosen people,” why should we expect better? Instead, “I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 24:14).

Since the “lockdown” went into effect, I hear that many are “seeking the Lord.” Online Bibles are being downloaded and read. Churches are seeing a rise in “virtual” attendees. I have seen this before – Y2K, 9-11. As soon as the crisis subsides, things go back to “normal” and society continues on its moral decline. I doubt this will be any different. Don’t get me wrong. I rejoice that some are truly turning to the Lord, but Jesus’ Word will not fail. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14, emphasis mine). For all the good President Trump, like Josiah, has done, it may be too good, too late.

Reader, Jesus is coming very soon. Everything that is going on in the world today tells us that His coming is very near. Are you prepared to meet Him? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and settle it once and for all.

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 6-9

[2]  Genesis 5:5

[3]  Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:16

[4]  Exodus 32

[5]  2 Kings 17:3

[6]  2 Kings 21:1-7

[7]  “Trading Old For New” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/05/10/trading-old-for-new/

[8]  2 Kings 22:8

[9]  Mayflower Compact, November 21, 1620

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Losing Your Props

Bird, Edward; Proclaiming Joash King; Royal Academy of Arts; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/proclaiming-joash-king-148516

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Atheists ridicule Christians for being weak and needing God as a “crutch” to lean on in life. I say, “Guilty!” If the atheists were honest, they would confess that they too need a crutch on which to lean that supports their worldview. That crutch could be “science,” or perhaps they are so vain as to rely on themselves. Sadly, in times of crisis, those props will prove woefully inadequate.

I read an account of a king of Judah who did “that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” (2 Kings 12:2, emphasis mine). His name was Jehoash, a.k.a. Joash, King of Judah.

Jehoash’s father, Ahaziah, reigned as king of Judah only one year “and he did evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 8:27). His mother, Athaliah, was the daughter of Omri, king of Israel (the northern kingdom) and sister of Ahab, Omri’s successor. Needless to say, she was not a nice lady.

The twenty-three-year-old King Ahaziah got caught up in a coup against the king of Israel and was killed after one year on the throne. When his mother, Athaliah, heard of his death, she quickly killed all possible successors to the throne and set herself up as Judah’s first and only queen, and she ruled in Judah for six years. That Judah ever had a queen is seldom discussed, however, one indeed existed.

Athaliah’s plot to extinguish all of Ahaziah’s “seed” failed because Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba, whose name means “Jehovah has sworn,” took Ahaziah’s baby son, Joash (Jehoash), to the Temple to be hid there by the high priest, Jehoiada, whose name means “Jehovah knows.”

Joash was about one year old when he came to Jehoiada who raised him and continued to advise him after he became king. After six years, when Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada, anointed Joash king of Judah, and Athaliah was put to death (2 Kings 11:16).

So Joash/Jehoash reigned as king of Judah for forty years (2 Kings 12:1). As previously mentioned, his actions pleased the LORD. He tore down the “high places” of idol worship and restored the Temple that had fallen into disrepair. But then Jehoiada “waxed old, and was full of days when he died. An hundred and thirty years old was he when he died” (2 Chronicles 24:15).

After that, it was all downhill for Joash. He lost his prop, his “crutch.” Without the priest that instructed him, Joash was lost. “Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. Yet [God] sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear” (2 Chronicles 24:17-19, emphasis mine).

Joash lost his prop so he found another in the perverted “princes of Judah.” Joash’s problem was that he looked to men for guidance. When he had a godly man to follow, he did well, but when Jehoiada was gone, he listened to ungodly men. So radical was his turn that when Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, came to call him to account, that Joash ordered him killed.

Another boy king would later come along that would stand strong because he had a different prop. His name was Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:1). Josiah likewise repaired the Temple and took down the high places of idol worship. In the process of repairing the Temple, the “book of the law” (the “Bible”) was found. Josiah read it and repented for failing to follow the law of God. From then on, Josiah ruled “by the Book” and in that was his strength.

What do you lean on? Men, even great preachers and pastors will let you down. Other Christians will hurt you and disappoint you. The Christian denomination you followed all your life will drift from its moorings and soon you will find yourself without a church. Friends, all these things are of “men” and men are fallen. You cannot rest your life on them; they will fail. Instead, learn a lesson from Joash and Josiah. Trust God and His Word and there you will find a support that will never let you down.

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