Category Archives: Theology

Still Coming

… and said unto them, Occupy till I come.  (Luke 19:13)

As I wrote last week, “For many years now, I come to this time of year with a heightened sense of expectation.” More than ten years ago, I learned about the Feasts of the Lord.[1] By His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled first three spring feasts, and Pentecost fulfilled the fourth feast. The last three fall feasts remain unfulfilled, and the Feast of Trumpets comes first in that series. The Feast of Trumpets is significant because it heralds the new year. It is also a holy convocation announced by the blowing of trumpets that summons the people to the Temple.

The connection with the Feast of Trumpets and the Rapture of the Church comes by way of deduction derived from 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; and Revelation 4:1. These passages speak of the sound of a trumpet preceding the Rapture of the Church, so it seems logical that the call could come at the first fall feast that remains unfulfilled.

Although it might seem like a reasonable conclusion, the fact remains that nothing in Scripture tells us when the Rapture will take place. The Bible gives no signs to signal the Rapture. Instead, the Bible (the New Testament) teaches that the Rapture is imminent; it can happen at any time without warning. Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:44-46, emphasis mine).

In a different place, Jesus relayed a parable of a “A certain nobleman [representing Himself] went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:12-13, emphasis mine). Our “nobleman,” Jesus Christ, has gone to receive His kingdom and He has promised to return (John 14:1-3). We do not know when. In the meantime, He has commanded, “Occupy till I come.”

Another Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets, came and went again, and the trumpet did not sound to call us home, but Jesus did not tell us when He would return. He just told us to watch, wait, and occupy until He comes. When He does come for us, He expects to find us taking care of His business. What will He find us doing?

The Rapture is imminent. It comes without warning and without signs. However, the Second Coming does have signs, and we see many of the signs falling into place. The greatest of these signs is the miraculous rebirth of the nation of Israel. As the signs of the last days[2] increase in number and intensity, we know the time is near, and if the Second Coming of Christ is near, the Rapture is closer. Are you ready? Are you occupied in the task He has given you or are you distracted by the cares of the world? He did not come last Tuesday, or Wednesday, but He may come today. How will He find you?

Reader, if you do not know the Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


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

[2]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

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Sharpen Your Sword

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6:17)

Earlier this past week, my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group met to study Matthew 4, where the Gospel writer recounts Jesus’ temptation by Satan after He spent 40 days and 40 nights without food in the wilderness. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews states that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). In his first general epistle, the Apostle John lists three points whereby we are tempted: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.[1] We have evidence of this from the very beginning. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat…” (Genesis 3:6).

Matthew records that Satan tempted Jesus by the same means, albeit not in the same order.[2] The order of the temptations is not as relevant as the fact that the temptations are the same as those to which we succumb. Satan first came at Him with the lust of the flesh, “command that these stones be made bread.” [3] Next he tried tempting Him with the pride of life, “cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”[4] It behooves us to take note that Satan quoted Scripture[5] to Jesus, although it was misapplied. (We must take that as a lesson; knowledge of Scripture is not the path to salvation.) Finally, Satan went for the lust of the eyes. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9). Satan is the “prince and god of this world;”[6] therefore, he had a legitimate right to make that claim.

Jesus did not take the bait. Jesus answered each temptation with a passage from Scripture. The Bible reminds us that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, emphasis mine). And do not think that because Jesus is God that He held a higher advantage. Satan attacked Jesus’ humanity, and He is every bit as human as you and I.

If Jesus had an advantage, it was His perfect knowledge of the Word of God, which brings me to the reason for the title of this article. Scripture often refers to the Word of God as a “sword.” Our leading verse (above) refers to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.” “For the word of God is quick [i.e., alive/living], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12). In Revelation, the Word proceeding from Jesus’ mouth is described as a sword.[7]

The “sword” is the final piece of the Christian soldier’s armor.[8] All the pieces of the soldier’s armor are defensive in nature. They are designed to protect the wearer, but the sword is both a defensive and offensive weapon. As a Christian you have surely experienced opposition when you made an argument based on the Word of God. Of course! It hurts. It cuts, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Naturally, the lost hearer will recoil at the message of the Bible.

However, as a Christian, if you have not experienced such reactions, perhaps your sword is dull. Maybe you have hidden your sword away somewhere, and it has become pitted and rusted. Then, when you attempt to use it only bruises but does not cut, and the bruises quickly heal and are forgotten. If that is the case, you need to sharpen your sword! You cannot sharpen your sword with a 30-minute sermon or a 45-minute Sunday school lesson every Sunday. You need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, emphasis mine). “Study” does not mean to sit down and casually read a few chapters as one would a dime-store novel. The Greek word, spoudazō, means to “to use speed, that is, to make effort, be prompt or earnest: – do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study.”[9] If you will take just one or two chapters daily, read slowly and carefully, question the text, seek out the meaning of difficult words, etc. you will gain a deeper understanding of the Word of God. And, because you dug it out for yourself, it will stick better in your mind than what you can get out of casually reading it or listening to what the preacher may have to say about it. This is how you sharpen your sword and prepare yourself for the spiritual battle you face every day

Notes:


[1]  1 John 2:16

[2]  Luke records the same account in the order prescribed by John – Luke 4:1-14

[3]  Matthew 4:3

[4]  Matthew 4:6

[5]  Psalm 91:11-12

[6]  John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4

[7]  Revelation 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15

[8]  Ephesians 6:13-17

[9]  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., G4704

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The End Is Not Yet

All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:8)

Jesus faced the final week of His earthly ministry, and the looming shadow of the cross lay just a few days ahead. He had just capped off His final conversation with the Jewish religious leaders with a scathing pronouncement. “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. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:33-36, emphasis mine). That is a pretty harsh accusation coming from the sweet and gentle Jesus! He associated them with the original serpent in the Garden of Eden.[1] Notice too, that He claims to be the One who sends prophets to them. Is it not God who sends the prophets? Well, I believe that is the point!

When we study the Old Testament, we learn of God’s struggle and patience with Israel and Judah. Jesus takes on that role as well. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39, emphasis mine).

Jesus knows what lies ahead for Israel, and His disciples wanted to know that too. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Surprisingly, instead of launching right into a long discourse of the last days, Jesus issued a warning. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4, emphasis mine). It seems that the most outstanding feature of the last days is deception. Jesus speaks of wars and rumors of wars, ethnic group against ethnic group, and kingdom (country/nation) against kingdom, but that is just the beginning.[2] The main problem is deception. Jesus goes on to speak of the rise of false preachers and false christs, an increase in wickedness and the loss of love. These false christs and false prophets will perform wonders such that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,”[3] i.e., Christians.

We live in days of great deception. If you do not see it, you are either not paying attention, or you are deceived yourself. Our government lies to us. Our politicians lie to us. Government health agencies lie to us. The news media lie to us. We need to be alert and discerning these days to see the truth hidden among the lies.

The news media diverts our attention from the chaos around the world, but more importantly, the activity around the Middle East, the “cradle of civilization” and the focal point of end-times prophecy.

I follow several good end-times prophecy teachers, but one of my favorites is Amir Tsarfati,[4] founder and president of Behold Israel Ministry. Amir is a native Israeli and a reserve officer in the IDF (I believe he is a major, but not sure about his rank). His home in Israel overlooks the Jezreel Valley, aka, the Valley of Armageddon, so he has a very unique and acute perspective on end-times prophecy and how it relates to current events, especially in Israel and the Middle East. I follow Amir on the Telegram ™ app where he posts current events as they take place in the Middle East. The kind of coverage he provides will not be carried by the mainstream news media. For example, yesterday Amir shared this headline: “’War with Israel already started’ says Iranian FM spokesman: A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry told Maariv that a solution must be found for regional issues according to UN resolutions.”[5]

That is only one example. There are wars and rumors of wars all over the world. Since the fall of the great United States under the Biden regime, China is advancing undeterred on Taiwan, and making deals for lithium with the Taliban government of Afghanistan. North Korea is testing its hypersonic missiles. Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb, and threating Israel. Russia (Magog of Ezekiel 38) along with Turkey are well entrenched in Syria. Australia has gone totalitarian on its citizens (who cannot fight back because their firearms have been confiscated). To top it off, the world is invading our southern border.

With all of this going on, “the end is not yet.” In Matthew 24, Jesus describes the conditions before His second coming when He will set up His earthly reign for 1000 years.[6] What we are witnessing now are just “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). Things will get a lot worse during the seven-year Tribulation. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Except for the fact that we have friends and loved ones that are lost without Christ that will go through the Tribulation (if they do not die and go to hell first), Christians should not fear the trouble that is ahead for the rest of the world. Jesus promised, “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). We cannot know when that will be, but when we see what is taking place in the world, we can know that the time for our departure is very near.

Reader, if you are unsure of your prospect for eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 3:1

[2]  Matthew 24:6-7

[3]  Matthew 24:11-12, 23-24

[4]  https://beholdisrael.org/about/amir-tsarfati/

[5]  https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/war-with-israel-already-started-says-iranian-fm-spokesman-680796

[6]  Revelation 20:1-7

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I’ve Got A Mansion

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2-3)

An old Gospel song that goes by the same title talks about “a mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old.”[1] The singer dreams of having a “gold one that is silver lined.” Does that not seem somewhat esurient to covet the riches of heaven? I admit that the thought did not occur to me until recently.

When I think of a mansion, I imagine the $5 million (or more) homes of the super-rich or the palaces of royalty. Somehow, I do not think that is exactly to what Jesus referred when He spoke the words of our beginning verse above.

Consider this. “Heaven” as described in Revelation 21-22 enjoys a perfect environment much like that of the Garden of Eden[2] that God originally created. So perfect was that environment, that the first couple could run around naked[3] and not worry about getting sunburned, rained on, or frost bitten. Furthermore, all their nutritional needs were provided. It was a perfect place. Their only shelter were the stars above (and oh, how the stars must have sparkled at night in the pollution-free sky!). There was no need for any kind of building for shelter, much less a mansion.

Heaven will be like that, I think. No mansions of gold with silver trim. Before ending His earthly ministry, Jesus promised that in His Father’s house – only ONE house – are many mansions. That word in the Greek is monē, which means “a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode.” If Jesus meant some kind of building, He could have used the word “castle” – Greek parembolē meaning something like a fortress. Or, He could have used the word “palace” – Greek aulē, meaning “a yard (as open to the wind); by implication a mansion: – court, ([sheep-]) fold, hall, palace.”[4] However, Jesus used the word monē promising that we would have a place to stay and He has many places to stay and dwell for those who follow Him.

Sadly, we too often derive our “theology” from the songs we sing rather than from the Word of God. Next time you hear that old Gospel song, put that golden mansion out of your mind and be happy that Jesus has given you a place in His Father’s house.

Reader, if you are unsure of your eternal abode, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.” Jesus has a reservation for you in His Father’s house, but you have to take Him up on His invitation.

Notes:


[1]  “Mansion Over the Hilltop” by Ira Stanphill, 1949.

[2] Genesis 2:5-9

[3]  Genesis 2:25

[4]  Strong’s G833 definition.

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The Rapture

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1Corinthians 15:51-52)

We hear a lot about the Rapture lately, but a lot of confusion exists about what the Rapture is and when it is supposed to take place. Some critics deny the Rapture claiming, that the word “rapture” is not in the Bible. However, the word “Bible” is not in the Bible, nor is the word “Trinity,” yet no Christian would deny these terms. To be clear, while the English word “Rapture” cannot be found in the Bible, its Greek root is. “To the church in Thessalonica, [Paul] wrote: ‘For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [i.e., “go before”] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated ‘caught up’ is harpazō, which means ‘to seize, carry off by force’ or ‘to snatch out or away.’ That word is further translated into Latin as rapturo [rapiemur] from which we get our word ‘rapture.’”[1]

Paul also describes the purpose of the Rapture to the Corinthians when he says, “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Our corrupt and sinful bodies cannot enter into heaven; therefore, they must be changed into incorruptible, sinless bodies. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [i.e., “die”], but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, emphasis mine).

Jesus promised the Rapture. “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). About 60 years after His ascension, Jesus dictated seven letters to John, the last living of His apostles. The sixth letter was addressed to the Church of Philadelphia to whom Jesus said, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). Many scholars see the seven churches (real churches existing in John’s time) as representative of the characteristics of the Church throughout different epochs in church history. The Philadelphian Church represents the “evangelical” church that sprang up around the end of the 18th century and will continue to the Rapture. The Rapture will fulfill Jesus’ promise to keep them “from the hour of temptation – i.e., trial, testing, tribulation – that is to come upon all the earth”

So, the concept of the Rapture finds solid support in Scripture although some will still try to explain it away.

Some still conflate the Rapture with the Second coming. These are two separate events. The Rapture takes place before the seven-year Tribulation;[2] the Second Coming is when Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom on earth[3] at the end of the Tribulation. At the Rapture, the Church is taken to meet Jesus in the air;[4] at the Second Coming, Jesus will set His feet on Planet Earth.[5]

Many signs accompany the Second Coming: wars, rumors of wars, pestilences, famines, earthquakes, etc.[6] Perhaps the greatest sign of all is the miraculous revival of the nation of Israel as predicted by the Old Testament prophets, but particularly by Ezekiel in his vision of the valley of dry bones.[7] This prophecy came true on May 14, 1948 when Jews from all over the world returned to the land promised to them by God to became a nation once again.

However, there are no signs for the Rapture. About the Rapture, Jesus said. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, as His Second Coming approaches we observe those signs rapidly increasing in frequency and intensity. America is rapidly vanishing from the scene as a superpower. That means that Israel is losing her strongest ally, and she will be left to face her enemies alone. Again, the Prophet Ezekiel predicts an invasion of Israel from a confederation of nations on her northern border.[8] Already, those armies are staging in Syria – Russia, Turkey, Iran and their allies. With the USA out of the way, nothing will stop them from falling into God’s trap. Ezekiel foretells that Israel, left alone, will be defenseless against the invasion; however, God will intervene in such a way that no one, especially Israel, will doubt the power of God.

The Gog of Magog war described above will probably take place after the Rapture, but because we see the stage already being set, we can infer that the Rapture is not too far off. Consider the weakened condition of the USA. Then think about millions of American Christians suddenly vanishing. The majority of Christians are solid citizens who work and pay taxes contributing to the national economy. Think of the impact to the economy when these millions are suddenly gone! Many Christians serve in the military and in police forces. What happens when they disappear? What about healthcare workers, nurses, doctors, medical technicians? With the plandemic already stressing hospital staffing, what happens when many more of these are gone? There are also many solid Christians in positions of leadership at different levels of government. Imagine what will happen when all these people are taken out in the Rapture! Our already weak America will be in total chaos and capable of only making a weak protest, “Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13).

We are very near that point now. For many years now I come to this time of year with a heightened sense of expectation. Monday evening, September 6 begins Rosh HaShanah,[9] the Feast of Trumpets.[10] Jesus fulfilled the first four “Feasts of the Lord” – Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost – at His First Coming. The last three fall feasts have not been fulfilled. The next one is the Feast of Trumpets; therefore, I believe (and I could be wrong) that the Rapture will take place at Rosh HaShanah. At that feast, trumpets were blown calling all the congregation of Israel to assemble. So, it is a “calling in” or a “gathering” of the congregation. Earlier I cited 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where “the trump of God” will sound, and we shall be gathered to Him in the air. The Feast of Trumpets is also known as the feast where “no man knows the day or the hour.” That is because it is based on the first sighting of the new moon; therefore, it is observed over two days because it is not known exactly when the new moon will appear. For those reasons, it makes sense to me that the Rapture can take place during the Feast of Trumpets.

Given the sudden and rapid decline of the USA, the general turmoil around the world, the rise of globalists seeking to rebuild the Tower of Babel (metaphorically speaking), and the increase in end-times signs, I feel this week (Monday evening to Wednesday evening) would be a good time for the Rapture to take place. I am not making any predictions; I am only saying that it seems like a good time for it, in my opinion.

How about you reader? If Jesus were to call His children home, would you be ready? If you are not sure, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Other Articles On This Topic: 

End-Times 101

End-Times 102

Coming Soon!

Not Expecting to Die

When I Disappear

Notes:


[1]  “End-Times 101 – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/06/10/end-times-101/

[2]  Revelation 6-19

[3]  Revelation 19

[4]  1 Thessalonians 4:17

[5]  Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 19:11-21

[6]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

[7]  Ezekiel 37:1-14

[8]  Ezekiel 38-39

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

[10]  “Trumpets” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/09/20/trumpets/

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