Category Archives: Theology

False Prophets

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)

Before going into Babylonian captivity, false prophets arose in Judah proclaiming that Judah would have peace and not fall prey to the Babylonian Empire. At the same time, the prophet Jeremiah preached a much different message warning of coming invasion if the people did not repent from their idolatry. The people refused to listen to Jeremiah and instead treated him harshly for his message of impending doom. “Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD” (Jeremiah 20:1-2).

Jeremiah preached a message that was distasteful and unpopular, but it was the message God gave him to warn the people of Judah, and it was the truth. Jeremiah disliked giving the message. He said, “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness” (Jeremiah 23:9). God knew these false prophets well, and he would deal with them in due time. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you … I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied … I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.  (Jeremiah 23:16-17, 21, 25). Not long after, Jeremiah was proven right and the others paid with their lives.

We have false prophets today. This should not come as a surprise. Jesus warned us to look out for them. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11).  Mark records Jesus’ words this way, “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22, emphasis mine). Long before Jesus took on human flesh, Moses warned about false prophets. “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, … Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

It becomes apparent that false prophets can actually make accurate predictions so that they can “seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22). I point this out because recently modern-day “prophets” have arisen making astonishing claims, and their claims have come to pass. All of these come from a Pentecostal background that supports the notion that the gift of prophecy given to some believers includes not only “forth-telling” – expounding Scripture – but “foretelling” future events as revealed to them directly from God. You hear them say things like, “God spoke to me and showed thus and so…” The revealed message is always something extra-biblical, but they will include Scripture to help validate the new revelation.

One such prophet was the late Kim Clement. You can still find his videos on YouTube. Clement dramatically and accurately prophesied the election of Donald J. Trump. There are others that have followed in his footsteps who predict that Donald J. Trump will win a second term. In many ways, I hope they are right because I do not like the alternative, but on the other hand, I hope they are wrong and that God will expose them as the false prophets that they are.

There exist among us other false prophets that do not presume to foretell future events. Rather, their forth-telling distorts Scripture making it say things that God never intended. Sadly, we have those in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that are promoting Socialism – the redistribution of wealth – and promoting the “woke” church.[1]

Other false prophets have been around for a while now. These preach “another gospel” than the one delivered to us by the Apostles.[2] These include the LDS church (the Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and others. These have either added to Scripture, reinterpreted Scripture, or in some form or fashion distorted Scripture.

The true modern-day prophet is the one that says “Thus saith the Lord” by “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), not the one that says “God spoke to me …” Do not listen to the latter, even if his/her predictions do come true. Consider this. Satan is no dummy. He is crafty and cunning, and he knows the Scriptures. He can analyze current events and predict what “might” happen much better than we can. However, he is only making his best guess. Only God knows the future. We need to be careful to whom we listen, even if they get a prediction right every now and then or demonstrate some kind of “sign.” If they are not coming strictly from Scripture reject their message.

Notes:


[1]  Article and video at https://protestia.com/2020/11/27/movie-launch-documentary-of-the-scandalous-first-baptist-church-naples-story-is-out/

[2]  Galatians 1:6-9

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Fear

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

Dictionary.Com defines “fear”[1] as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” Note, first of all, that fear is an “emotion;” thus it is subject to irrationality. Note also that fear can be stirred up by a sense of “impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” Fear is rational when the danger is real as in the case of a physical attack. Fear is irrational when the danger is imagined as in the case of less than a 1% chance of catching COVID-19. In either case, the emotion of fear can cause us to react in an irrational manner.

We can prepare ourselves to confront fear rationally by training for a variety of scenarios. We can prepare for a physical attack by taking self-defense classes and practicing, at least mentally, for different situations in which we may come under attack. Our military and police do this on a regular basis so that when they come under threat, they can respond rationally to a fearful situation.

In the case of COVID-19, or any disease that may afflict us, we can prepare ourselves mentally with information, so that we can take proper and sensible precautions. The danger of COVID-19 is real, but it is not a threat to everyone. Ninety-nine percent of the population will not contract the virus. Yet the media bombard us daily with increased percentages of “cases” of COVID – not deaths, only “cases.” When they report a 50% increase in cases, that sounds like a lot, but they never report on what the percentages are based. Does 50% mean half of the entire population or only half of what was previously reported? Such careless reporting serves only to feed the fear in the audience who by and large do not exercise critical thinking when listening to news reports.

And how accurate are the tests anyway? Recently, Elon Musk tested positive and negative for COVID-19.[2] He tested four times. Two tests returned positive results and two tests returned negative results. With inconclusive results, he still has no idea if he really has had the virus.

By the way, has anyone, besides me, noticed that no flu deaths have been reported by the media this year? Yet, “During the 2019-2020 influenza season, CDC estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths”[3] compared to 34,200 deaths in 2018-2019.[4]  Why do we not hear about flu deaths? Could it be that the flu is less sensational?

As for deaths from COVID-19, only 6% of the deaths associated with the novel coronavirus died solely from the virus, the rest were brought about by other underlying conditions. In an article by “LiveScience” attempting to debunk the social media claim “that ‘only 6%’ of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to the new coronavirus,” the writer seems to validate the claim. He says,

This claim stems from an Aug. 26 update the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted on its website, which provides a detailed breakdown of the accompanying health conditions (known as comorbidities) and contributing causes of death reported in people who have died of the new coronavirus in the United States. The CDC noted that “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

In other words, 6% of people who died when they had COVID-19 didn’t have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease, and didn’t experience any medical complications, such as kidney failure or sepsis. But the other 94% of deaths were still caused by COVID-19, infectious disease experts said. That’s because many chronic, underlying conditions can make diseases that a person might otherwise recover from, such as COVID-19, suddenly deadly.[5] (Emphasis mine)

The fact remains that of those that have died with COVID-19, only 6% died solely of COVID-19. The claim (in bold above) that the other deaths were “caused by COVID-19” is misleading. The deaths were caused by multiple complications including COVID-19.

A Google search on “Current COVID Deaths” reported 245,000 deaths with COVID-19 to death – at 6%, only 1470 from COVID only compared to 22,000 deaths from the flu. The current population of the United States is 328,200,000. Using simple math to calculate the percentage of the population that has died with COVID-19, results in an unimpressive 0.0074649% of the population.

Each one of us has a 0.007% chance of dying with COVID-19, and only 6% of those have a chance of dying from COVID-19 alone.

Why are we living in fear over COVID-19? Why have our churches been restricted from exercising our First Amendment right to assemble and worship as we please? Why have our churches capitulated to unconstitutional mandates rather than adhere to God’s command that we not forsake our assembling together (Hebrews 10:25)? Why do we continue to succumb to the irrational edicts of those who only desire to exercise control over our lives?

I, for one, am tired of wearing masks. I am tired of social distancing. I am tired of going to church in limited numbers. I am tired of singing praises with my face covered and muted. I am tired of restricting the fellowship with my brothers and sisters to the church parking lot – at a social distance, of course. I am tired of all the senseless restrictions imposed by self-appointed demagogues pretending to have our best interest at heart. Stop with the fear-mongering!

I have heard it said that the Bible has 365 admonitions to “fear not”[6] – one for every day of the year. I have not counted them for myself, but they do seem to come up frequently in my reading. The first “fear not” appears in the Book of Genesis. There God tells Abram, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). A shield protects us from incoming blows, and a reward is something we get for doing something right. What did Abram do that was right? “And he believed in the LORD; and [the LORD] counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). In the last book of the Bible, Jesus says to John, “Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Revelation 1:17). The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, why do we allow ourselves to get sucked into the fear over that which we cannot control?

C. S. Lewis once said, “If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb [or the coronavirus], let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint [he wasn’t Baptist!] and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs [or COVID-19]. They may break our bodies (any microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”[7] That sounds like excellent advice to me!

Notes:


[1]  Fear – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fear?s=t

[2]  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/13/world/does-elon-musk-have-the-coronavirus-after-four-tests-he-still-doesnt-know.html

[3]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2019-2020.html#:~:text=During%20the%202019%2D2020%20influenza,405%2C000%20hospitalizations%2C%20and%2022%2C000%20deaths.

[4]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html#:~:text=CDC%20estimates%20that%20the%20burden,from%20influenza%20(Table%201).

[5]  https://www.livescience.com/covid-19-comorbidities.html

[6]  “Fear Not” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/16/fear-not/

[7]  Martindale, Wayne & Jerry Root, The Quotable Lewis, (Tydale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1990), p. 606, quoting Present Concerns: Essays by C. S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948), para. 3, pp. 73-74.

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When the Lord Returns

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; (Luke 12:35)

I am currently reading the Gospel of Luke in my personal Bible study, and, as often happens when I read my Bible, something caught my attention that I had not seen before. In Luke Chapter 12, Jesus had finished telling the parable of the rich fool[1] who had a bumper crop and started planning about what he would do with his newly acquired wealth. That night, God called him to account. “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). Jesus’ point was that earthly riches do not amount to much in light of eternity. He said, “So is he [a fool] that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). He went on to teach regarding the futility of worrying about the things of this world because God knows our needs, and He will provide for all our needs (not necessarily our “wants”). The ravens do not sow, reap, or store up food, yet God feeds them.[2] The lilies of the fields neither toil nor spin, yet God clothes the earth more beautifully than Solomon’s apparel.[3] So, Jesus taught, we should not overly concern ourselves with food or clothing because God will provide for our needs. Instead, He said, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you … For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:31, 34)

With that in mind, since this life and this world does not last, He went on to encourage His listeners to be ready for His Second Coming. (I am not sure if His audience caught the significance of His message, but looking back, it should be clear to us.) “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” (Luke 12:35). Having your “loins girded” is an expression that meant to prepare oneself for work, and one only lights a lamp when it gets dark. So the idea is that we should be on the alert and watching. We are to watch and work as we “seek the kingdom of God.”

He went on to amplify His meaning. “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:36, emphasis mine). I highlighted in bold italics what I missed before. Jesus spoke in the form of a parable which His audience, His disciples, and His apostles would not have clearly understood at that time. He often used the example of a landowner – a lord or master – leaving on a long journey and leaving the care of his properties in the hands of stewards, i.e., “servants.”[4] All of these parables convey the idea that the Lord will leave – which Jesus did in His ascension – and will return at some undetermined time. In the meantime, His servants continue to conduct His business – in our case that of proclaiming the Gospel – until He returns.

What popped out at me in this passage is the phrase “when he will return from the wedding.” What relevance does a wedding have with the main point of the story? Note also the definite article. It is not just “a” wedding; it is the wedding. The significance is subtle and easy to miss, but indeed it carries great relevance to Christians living in this day.

Before Jesus went to the cross, He told His apostles, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). When His apostles heard this, they caught the imagery of a Galilean wedding. When a man proposed marriage to a young woman, if she accepted the proposal, he would leave to build a house for her. Once the father of the groom inspected and approved the house, he would give his son permission to go get his bride. The wedding would take place and the wedding feast that followed would last for seven days.

Likewise, Jesus, the Bridegroom, is betrothed to His Bride, the Church. His Bride is made up of those who have accepted His proposal.[5] Now He is gone preparing a place for His Bride, and when the Father approves of the house,[6] He will come to get His Bride and take her to the home He has prepared for her. The wedding feast[7] will last one week (seven years).[8] At the end of the seven years, Jesus will return with His Bride to reclaim His kingdom on earth.

The audience that heard the parable was Jewish, and they probably missed the significance of the lord returning from the wedding. Weddings were frequent and common events in those days as they are today. Jews then and now, for the most part, missed the Messiah. Yet Jesus admonishes these who fail to recognize Him to have their “loins girded” and their “lamps burning” in preparation for their Lord’s return from the “wedding.”

After Jesus snatches away His Bride and the seven-year wedding feast begins, those who remain on the earth will experience the seven-year Tribulation. During that time, many Jews will recognize the Messiah they missed and 144,000 of them will preach the Gospel message around the world.[9] Many Jews as well as Gentiles will be saved by their message. It is these whom Jesus admonishes to work, watch, and be ready for His coming. “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants” (Luke 12:37-38).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). Even after the Rapture of the Church, even in the midst of the Great Tribulation, God is “not willing that any should perish.” Sadly, for many, that time will be the final opportunity for salvation but at such a high cost. Reader, if you do not know the Savior, please do not wait until the last moment. Accept the Bridegroom’s proposal today. Find my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and prepare to enjoy the wedding feast rather than work in the time of Great Tribulation.

Notes:


[1]  Luke 12:16-20

[2]  Luke 12:22-24

[3]  Luke 12:27-28

[4]  Matthew 21:33-41; 25:14-30; Mark 13:32-37Luke 19:11-27

[5]  John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10; et al.

[6]  Matthew 24:36

[7]  Revelation 19:6-9

[8]  Daniel 9:27

[9]  Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5

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Jesus And The Fig Tree

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: (Matthew 24:32)

During Jesus’ last week of His earthly ministry before His crucifixion and shortly after His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Matthew and Mark record a strange incident when Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had no fruit and immediately, the tree withered.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday. He went directly to the Temple cast out the money changers and those who sold animals for the upcoming Passover sacrifice.[1] To us Gentiles, it seems strange that it offended Jesus that these men were turning the Holy Temple into a marketplace. However, as Jesus drove out the merchants, He exclaimed, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11:17).

A long-held Jewish tradition during Passover is to get all the leaven out of the house before the Passover celebration. Leaven represents sin, and it must be removed from the house. The Temple was Jesus’ house, and He was cleansing it from the sin within in preparation for the coming Passover.

At this point, I need to mention an apparent contradiction between Mark’s account of the Temple cleansing and that of both Matthew and Luke. Both Matthew and Luke record that the cleansing took place on the same day as the Triumphal Entry – Palm Sunday.[2] However, Mark indicates that the cleansing took place on the following day (Monday). Mark records that on Palm Sunday, “Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow [Monday], when they were come from BethanyAnd they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple” (Mark 11:11-12, 15, emphasis mine). So, did Jesus cleanse the Temple on Palm Sunday or on the following day? Great biblical minds have no clue! I am not one who finds contradictions in the Bible because “God is not the author of confusion.”[3] Two Gospel writers say the cleansing took place on Sunday, and one (Mark, who was not an eyewitness) says it was on Monday. I believe all three accounts are correct. It is possible that there were two cleansings, one on Sunday and one on Monday. I will leave it at that for now.

Only Matthew and Mark record the incident with Jesus cursing the fig tree, and both agree that it happened on Monday morning as Jesus returned to Jerusalem from Bethany where He was probably staying in the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.[4] What happened next seems rather strange. Jesus spotted a fig tree along the way and being hungry, He went to see if it had any figs.[5] Mark remarks that “the time of figs was not yet” (Mark 11:13). Finding no figs on the tree, Jesus cursed the tree, and it soon “dried up from the roots” (Mark 11:20).

It seems strange that Jesus, the Creator,[6] would not know that it was not the time for figs, So, why would He expect to find figs on the tree? Some commentators suggest that the tree should have had some unripe fruit on it that could be eaten.

“Toward the end of March the leaves begin to appear, and in about a week the foliage coating is complete. Coincident with [this], and sometimes even before, there appears quite a crop of small knobs, not the real figs, but a kind of early forerunner. They grow to the size of green almonds, in which condition they are eaten by peasants and others when hungry.”[7]

That makes some sense. Both Matthew and Mark remark that Jesus found nothing but leaves on the tree. There were not even “knobs” to eat on the tree. But was that sufficient cause for Jesus to curse the tree? The same commentators quoted above, suggested that Jesus used this incident as an object lesson to emphasize Luke’s parable about the fig tree that bore no fruit.[8] However, neither Matthew nor Mark includes that parable in their Gospels, and Luke omits the cursing of the fig tree, so their argument does not seem to be very strong.

Jesus, the Creator, knew it was too early for figs, and He knew He would not find figs on the tree. So the cursing of the tree had another purpose. Jesus never did anything without a purpose.

Later in the week as Jesus sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, they asked Him for signs of the last days and the end of the world. The detailed description of the last days, known as the “Olivet Discourse,” is found in all three Synoptic Gospels.[9] “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, Jesus said the times would be discernible, and He used the fig tree to illustrate. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 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 24:32-34, emphasis mine).

The fig tree represents the nation of Israel. Several passages in the Old Testament make this association. God says, “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time …” (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine). “He [the king of Babylon] hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white” (Joel 1:7, emphasis mine). God also refers to Israel as His (grape) “vine.” Concerning Israel’s restoration, Scripture says, “Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people … Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength” (Joel 2:18, 22, emphasis mine).

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree gives the signal for the beginning of the end-time events. Israel, the fig tree, budded on May 14, 1948, signaling that “summer” is near. Jesus said that “this generation,” the one that sees the fig tree bud, will not pass until all these signs are accomplished. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

So, why did Jesus curse the fig tree? God chose Israel to be a “priest nation” to all the nations of the world, beginning with Abraham; “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, emphasis mine). To Israel, God says, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation …” (Exodus 19:6). It was Israel’s task to reveal God to the nations of the world. Instead, Israel followed in the idolatrous steps of the surrounding nations. Israel, the fig tree, did not produce the fruit God expected. Jesus’ object lesson in cursing the fig tree demonstrated that God would no longer use Israel to bless the nations and to be the priest nation to the world. Instead, He assigned that task to other “husbandmen.”[10] To these new husbandmen, i.e., the Church, Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, emphasis mine).

So, the fig tree withered and can no longer produce fruit. Instead, Jesus assigned the task of bringing God to the world to the Church. As for the fig tree, “they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24, emphasis mine).

That time is near. It started when the fig tree budded in 1948. The fig tree has yet to produce any fruit, but that is because the Church is still yielding fruit, albeit at a waning rate. Soon, the Church will be plucked up, and God’s fig tree will have another opportunity to yield its fruit. “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:4, emphasis mine). During the Tribulation, the 144,000 Israeli evangelists will carry the Gospel to all the world and produce much “fruit” for the Lord. “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).

In the end, the fig tree will produce the fruit for which it was created. However, it must be understood that not every individual Israeli will be saved. Their salvation does not come from their nationality (Israel) or their religion (Judaism). Just as with every other person, salvation comes only through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The 144,000 remnant of Israel that carry the Gospel to all the world will be saved by the same message that “whosoever believeth in him [Jesus] should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Those that hear and believe the message of the 144,000 will be saved the same way.

Reader, if you do not know Jesus, now is a great time to get acquainted. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and get that settled today.

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46

[2]  Matthew 21:8-13; Luke 19:35-46

[3]  1 Corinthians 14:33

[4]  John 11:2

[5]  Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-13

[6]  John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11

[7] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, Manfred T. Brauch, Hard Saying of the Bible, (InterVarity Press Academic, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1996), p. 442, quoting W.M. Christie, “The Barren Fig Tree.”

[8]  Luke 13:6-9

[9]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

[10]  Matthew 21:33-41

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Jesus And Genesis

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. (Mark 10:6)

If one wants to criticize and discount the Bible, there is no better place to start than at the beginning with Genesis. Those who reject God find it easier to believe the absurdity that nothing expanded and resulted in everything. They claim to believe the “science.” However, scientific proof requires the implementation of the “scientific method.” As an elementary school teacher just 12 years ago, we still taught the “scientific method” which included observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and falsification. God deniers profess science without employing the scientific method to support their hypothesis. No one observed the Big Bang. No one can experiment to reproduce the Big Bang. (It would be scary if they could!) And no one can falsify the Big Bang, yet they claim to be “scientific.”

The same can said for Creation. Creation cannot be proven by the scientific method. It was a unique, miraculous, one-time event. Creation differs from the Big Bang in that it started with Someone; it did not come from nothing – “In the beginning, God”[1] and God recorded His work in the first chapter of the Book of Beginnings – Genesis. The thinking person (not the God denier – they do not think) only needs to consider the creation account for what it says, recognizing the implied characteristics of the omnipotent Creator’s ability to do what He said He did and compare that to the order out of chaos suggested by the Big Bang proponents. Because of the vast complexity of the universe and life on earth, logic supports creation by an intelligent Creator over life by luck. Of course, some God deniers reject the Big Bang for that very reason and opt to believe that life on earth was “seeded” by extraterrestrials from other worlds, but that raises another question. How did the extraterrestrials originate? That question cannot be answered.

God deniers will not be convinced with logic. They reject God by choice. I am more surprised by those who say they believe the Bible but reject the Genesis account. They have been taught that the Big Bang is a fact and that life on earth arose through the process of evolution. In order to keep their faith in God intact, they rationalize that God somehow used the Big Bang and evolution to create. That makes sense. God can do anything He wants to do and use whatever means He chooses to do it. He is God! However, in reading the straightforward creation account in Genesis 1, one cannot find the logical steps of evolution. God created the universe by His spoken word, not with a bang.[2] He created plant life[3] before He created the sun. He created the sun and moon before creating the rest of the stars as sort of an afterthought.[4] He created marine and avian life before creating the dinosaurs (land creatures). Secular scientists claim that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but Genesis says that birds came first. Furthermore, the Genesis account of creation records that each day of creation was a 24-hour day;[5] that amount of time does not allow for evolution to take place.

Some overly educated theologians dismiss the Genesis account of creation as poetry or allegory. Somehow in all of their education, they miss the fact that Hebrew poetry is distinct by its use of parallelism. There is none of that in the Genesis account. Any Hebrew language novice understands that the first three chapters in Genesis, which take the brunt of the criticism, are written in narrative form like any other historical portion of Scripture. Genesis is not poetry. It presents a factual account, or at least it is factual to the author.

Jesus, who the New Testament credits as Creator[6], affirmed the validity of Genesis. When the Pharisees challenged Him on the question of divorce, Jesus referred them back to Genesis. “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6, emphasis mine). The making of the first human pair is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine). For the sake of this confused world today, it should be noted that God made one pair of opposite, yet complementary sexes. They were not androgynous with the option to choose their sex. God did not create two males to mate with each other or two females to cohabitate. God designed the sexes for reproduction. Two males cannot reproduce, nor can two females reproduce. The union is not about “feeling” but about “function.” Male and female “fit” together. The way God designed it works. The way modern man has perverted it often ends in tragedy.

Genesis records that Adam’s first son was Cain and the second was Abel. Cain murdered Abel in a fit of jealous rage,[7] and Jesus referred to that as a factual account. As Jesus excoriated the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, He said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:33-35, emphasis mine). Jesus again affirmed the veracity of Genesis in citing Abel as a real person. As an aside, I find it interesting that Jesus takes credit for sending the prophets – “I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes.” That is what God does. Therefore, Jesus claims to be God.

The Global Flood account in Genesis 6-9 is also a major point of contention with Bible critics, even those claiming to be Christian. However, Jesus vouched for its authenticity. In speaking on the last days, Jesus said, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39, emphasis mine). So, to those who claim to be Christian yet reject Genesis, do you reject Jesus’ words as well? If you doubt the first eleven chapters of Genesis, how can you believe the words of Jesus? He spoke of the Genesis account as fact.

Jesus created[8] man in His image[9] knowing the kind of body He would one day inhabit.[10] Jesus accepted Abel’s sacrifice[11] over that of Cain’s, and when Cain murdered Abel, He demonstrated mercy toward Cain by setting a mark on him to spare his life.[12] God had Noah build an ark with only one entrance. The Ark was large enough to accommodate thousands of more people than Noah and his family, but only those eight that believed God and entered through the only door were saved from the Flood. Jesus is our Ark of salvation. He said, “I AM the door.”[13] He is the only entrance to eternal life; there is no other way. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine).

I understand God deniers rejecting the Genesis account of creation. They are lost and hell-bound. But there is no excuse for Christians rejecting the Genesis account if indeed they believe Jesus’ words.

Reader, if you are questioning the veracity of Scripture, particularly where it comes to creation, perhaps the first thing you need to consider your eternal standing before God. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 1:1

[2]  Genesis 1:1-5

[3]  Genesis 1:11-12

[4]  Genesis 1:14-16

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

[6]  John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17; Revelation 4:11

[7]  Genesis 4:1-8

[8]  John 1:1-3

[9]  Genesis 1:26-27

[10]  John 1:14; Philippians 2:7-8

[11]  Genesis 4:4

[12]  Genesis 4:15

[13]  John 10:9

 

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