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Still Waiting!

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

You are reading this because Jesus did not return for His Bride at this time as many were hoping – including me. I hope those others that were hoping for the Rapture are not suffering from a severe case of depression. I am disappointed, but I have been disappointed in past years, as I have written. However, my faith is not shaken. Jesus promised to return, and He will return when He is ready and when He says it’s time.

Although we may feel disappointed, we should not be discouraged or disheartened. We should be thankful that the Lord has given us more time to lead others to Christ. “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). So, “… sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).  Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). That means that we still have a lot of work to do.

I hoped Jesus would come during this Feast of Trumpets, but I did not cancel or fail to prepare for the Bible classes that I teach, or for the speaking engagements I have scheduled. I have not stopped my writing or canceled our planned trip to Israel in October. I did not alter my life in any way, other than to hope for His appearing. So, as in the past, I shall “occupy” in His work until He comes as He commanded. He still may come at any moment. His imminent return will not surprise anyone who is watching for it. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come … Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42, 44, emphasis mine). It still could be today! Meanwhile, until then there is much work to be done. Do not let the Lord find you sleeping when He does return!

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Now’s A Good Time!

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. (Luke 12:40)

This may be my final post (I hope[1]), if the “stargazers” are correct about the Revelation 12 sign.[2], [3], [4] The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShannah[5]) begins this week on September 20, 2017. However, since “ye know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13) for the new moon to appear over Jerusalem, the first blast of the trumpet could take place anytime between 6:00 PM September 20 to 6:00 PM September 22.

Every year around this time for the past 20 years or so, I start looking toward the eastern sky listening for that voice “as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1). God gave to the children of Israel (and indirectly to us) seven “feasts,”[6] or more precisely, “appointments,” they were to keep without fail. God told Moses. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Leviticus 23:2, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “feast” is mô‛êd (mô‛êdim – plural), and it means “an appointment,” or “a season.” We see this word first used in Genesis 1:14 when God created the celestial bodies and proclaimed that they were to be “for signs, and for seasons.” The Hebrew word for “signs” is ‘ôth and it means “a signal” or “an omen.” So, the stars were precisely placed in the heavens to “signal” God’s divine “appointments.”

At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He fulfilled four of the seven appointments: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. Three yet remain, The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles. It seems reasonable to conclude that He will fulfill the final three with His second coming. The next one in line is the Feast of Trumpets. It also seems reasonable to conclude that the Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled by the Rapture of the Church. The Apostle Paul tells us, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, emphasis mine). “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16, emphasis mine). The Apostle John heard a voice that sounded like a trumpet, and he said, “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:2, emphasis mine). Considering that the blowing of the trumpets at the Feast of Trumpets was a “signal” for the gathering of the people to Jerusalem, it seems reasonable that the Feast of Trumpets is a good time for the gathering of God’s people to Himself.

However, the Feast of Trumpets comes around every year, and for the last 20 years or more, I have waited for the trumpet call only be disappointed once again – disappointed, but not disheartened. So, how is this year different, and why is this a good time? Well, let us see.

Israel is a nation once more and the Jews are in their own land. All end-times prophecy centers on the nation of Israel. That Israel is in her land is a miracle of God. In A.D. 70, Rome razed Jerusalem and the Temple to the ground and scattered the Jewish people all over the world as prophesied in Scripture. God said, “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 11:17, emphasis mine). For 2000 years, the Jews have fled from country to country. In all that time, they managed to maintain their ethnic identity, their traditions, and even their language. Then on May 14, 1948, they came home and established their nation in the land that God gave them. “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8, emphasis mine).

Israel is often likened to a fig tree. “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved” (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine). The prophet Zechariah in describing the Millennial Kingdom ruled by the BRANCH said, “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zechariah 3:10, emphasis mine). I believe this is speaking figuratively of Israel. Jesus said, “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 put forth its leaves almost 70 years ago – a biblical number for completion. “That generation” that saw it come to pass is almost gone. Now’s a good time!

Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9-10). Some will quickly point out that the world has seen wars and rumors of wars for millennia. True, but not with Israel back in her homeland.

Natural and man-made catastrophes are on the increase. Jesus said, “And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” (Luke 21:11, emphasis mine). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) downplays the increase in earthquakes, but independent researchers have found a significant increase in intensity and number of earthquakes all over the world measuring 6.5 and above on the Richter Scale. Famine and pestilence result from war-torn nations in Africa and the Middle East. At the same time, America has some “fearful sights” of her own with uncontrollable fires burning in California, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. America is not alone; there are other places around the world experiencing similar catastrophes.[7]

We see signs in the heavens. Jesus said, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).  In 2014 and 2015, we witnessed a rare tetrad of blood moons falling on the Feasts of the Lord. This year we experienced the Great American Solar Eclipse, which was soon followed by “the sea and the waves roaring” caused by Hurricane Harvey and shortly thereafter, Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, Hurricane José is building up steam in the Atlantic. Some suggest that solar eclipses are signs for the gentile nations.[8] Some have correlated US actions to pressure Israel to give up “land for peace” with natural disasters here in America.[9] Coincidently, Jared Kushner met with PLA President Mahmoud Abbas the same day that Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast.[10]

Are the Years of Jubilee ending (Leviticus 25:8-17)? About 3500 years have elapsed since God codified the system of Jubilee Years in the Mosaic Law. The children of Israel were to observe a system of Sabbath years where they allowed the land to rest every seventh year (a “week of years”). After seven Sabbath years (49 years) they were to set aside (sanctify) the 50th year as a Year of Jubilee at which time all debts would be canceled, and all land would revert to the original owner. Some have calculated and concluded that 2017 (it is the Jewish year 5777) completes the 70th Year of Jubilee. Seventy is a biblical number for completion. Some see significance in the triple sevens of the Jewish year 5777, seven and three both being a number for completion. Three also represents the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In Genesis 6:3, God declares that man’s “days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Some believe that this refers to the years God allotted for Noah to build the Ark before bringing the Flood. However, Noah was 500 years old when his three sons were born (Genesis 5:32); we are not given his age at the time God gave him the command. Noah was 600 years old when he completed the Ark and was instructed to get onboard (Genesis 7:6). Therefore, from the time Noah’s sons were born until the time the Flood came was only 100 years, not 120. The number 120 in the Bible represents “a divinely appointed time of waiting;”[11] however, the time allotted Noah to build the Ark was less than 120, so there must be another meaning. The word translated “year” in Genesis 6:3, shâneh can also mean “whole age” and not necessarily a year. One prophecy teacher suggests that the 120 refers to 120 Jubilees.[12] Taking into consideration a young, 6000-year old, earth, 120 x 50 = 6000 years. That means man’s time on earth is up! Now’s a good time!

Other interesting facts about the Jubilee years are the years 1917, 1967, and 2017. In 1917, the Belfour Declaration was signed setting aside the Promised Land as a Jewish homeland. Nineteen Seventeen was a Jubilee year. On May 14, 1948, The U.N. declared Israel a sovereign nation and Israel was reborn. Then in 1967 – 50 years after the Balfour Declaration, another Year of Jubilee – Israel took possession of their ancient capital of Jerusalem and the “West Bank” in the Six-Day War. More land returned to Israel according to the Law of Jubilee. However, although Israel possesses Jerusalem, it does not “control” the Temple Mount. There are rumblings among the Jews that they want to reclaim this holy site to rebuild their Temple. This year, 50 years since 1967, is another Jubilee Year. Perhaps this year the Temple Mount will revert to Israeli control. Now’s a good time!

The Revelation 12 Sign[13] will appear over the skies of Jerusalem on September 23, 2017. In a once-in-7000-year event, the constellations Virgo and Leo will align with three “wandering stars,” Mercury, Venus, and Mars, in conjunction with Leo making a “crown of twelve stars” over Virgo’s head. Additionally, Jupiter, the King Planet, which entered Virgo on August 27, 2016, will exit (be “born”) after 400 (40 x 10) days in the “womb.”[14] A solid interpretation of the Revelation 12 sign (Revelation 12:1-5) says that the “woman” is Israel (some also say she represents the Virgin Mary) – crowned with 12 stars, i.e. the twelve tribes of Israel – and the “child” is the Messiah. The “dragon” we understand to be Satan, who some see as Herod the Great. That is fine; prophecies often have more than one “valid” interpretation. The “stargazers” suggest the sign is more than an analogy of Israel and the Messiah. They argue that because the Messiah was “taken up” in A.D. 33, and because Revelation speaks of future events, not past, this cannot be speaking of the Messiah. Rather, they contend, the “child” represents the “body” of Christ, which is the Church. They agree that the woman, Virgo, represents Israel and the Jewish people who give birth to the Church. So then, it is the Church being taken up into heaven, and the sign represents the Rapture of the Church. It makes sense to me! Now’s a good time!

As I stated at the beginning, this may be my final post. Too many signs are converging that I could not cover them all in this already-too-long article. Now’s a good time for the Lord to return for His Church. After that comes seven horrible years of Tribulation. Then He returns to reign on earth for 1000 years. Then comes eternity (Revelation 21-22). Reader, if you are not ready for what will come, take time to read my page on Heaven.

If the Lord does not return this week, you will find me still occupied (Luke 19:13) until He comes, and a follow-up article will be posted. Nevertheless, if not, you will know what happened. 🙂

Notes:


[1]  “Not Expecting to Die” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/30/not-expecting-to-die/

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

[3]  “Prophecy Snobs” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/10/prophecy-snobs/

[4]  “The Millennial Kingdom” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/03/the-millennial-kingdom/

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

[6]  Ibid.

[7]  Amir Tsarfati’s newsletter for September 13, 2017 – http://mailchi.mp/beholdisrael/prophecy-news-weekly-roundup-april-19-1004785?e=88847949f6

[8]  “Solar Eclipses Omens of Significant Historic Events” – https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/66864-solar-eclipses-omens-of-significant-historical-events

[9]  “12 SHOCKING PROOFS THAT DISASTER STRIKES AMERICA WHEN IT MISTREATS ISRAEL” – http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/11-shocking-proofs-disaster-strikes-america-mistreats-israel/

[10]  “US Calls Kushner-Abbas Meeting ‘Fruitful’ But Doesn’t Specify ‘Fruits’” – http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/us-calls-kushner-abbas-meeting-fruitful-but-doesnt-specify-fruits/2017/08/25/

[11]  “Meaning of Numbers in the Bible” – http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/120.html

[12]  Dan Goodwin, “Prophecy Unsealed” available at http://www.godsfinaljubilee.com/

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

[14]  “The Great Sign of Revelation 12 Occurs in 2017” – http://www.watchfortheday.org/1260tetrad.html

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Is the Bible Allegory?

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

A young woman wrote me and claimed that God told her that the Bible is allegory. She claimed that people misinterpret the Bible when they take it literally. “The Lord” told her that the creation account recorded in Genesis represents later events in the Bible. I suppose, if she received a word from God, then it must be true. However, is she right, and did she really receive this instruction from God?

Volumes have been written and reams of paper spent defending the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible. The problem of misinterpretation comes when people think they know what the Bible says, without really knowing what it says. The Bible is very clear and easily understood on its own without any kind of special interpretation. The problem is that people often do not like what it has to say, so they interpret it to say what they want it to say. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

That said, the Bible does employ allegory sometimes. For example, Ezekiel saw a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37), and God told Ezekiel to preach to the dry bones. When he did, the bones came together, and flesh and skin came on the bones. However, there was no breath in them (Ezekiel 37:8). God instructed Ezekiel to preach to them once more and breath came on them and they rose up “and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). Then God explained what Ezekiel saw (vv. 11-14). The bones represent the nation of Israel, which God will gather from all over the world and restore to their land, but when they come, the Spirit of God will not be in them. God will then put His Spirit in them “that they may live” again. This prophecy is an allegory of Israel in the last days. That prophecy was fulfilled on May 14, 1948, when Israel was reborn as a nation. However, God’s Spirit is not yet in them – they are still spiritually dead. Many Jews in Israel are atheists. Those who are not, still look for the coming of their Messiah. My point, however, is that this is one good example of allegory in the Bible.

Not all of the Bible is allegory. When an allegory is presented, it is very clear that it is an allegory, and it usually comes with an explanation. When you understand that, and compare an allegory, as in the example above, to the creation narrative in Genesis, it should be obvious that the creation account is not an allegory, nor is it Hebrew poetry. Genesis records a matter-of-fact account of creation. It is a historical narrative. Now, what you do with that is up to you; you can choose to accept it, or you may choose to reject it, but you cannot call it an allegory.

This young woman said, “The Lord told me it represents later events in the Bible.” I cautioned her that it may not be “the Lord” speaking because He will not lead us to doubt any of His Word. The Bible says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It cannot be “profitable” for doctrine, correction, or instruction if it is all allegorical. One can make of an allegory whatever one imagines, and not everybody imagines the same thing. In the example of Ezekiel’s dry bones above, it should be noted that God Himself explains the allegory. In the same way, Jesus always explained His parables to His disciples; He did not leave it up to them to determine the meaning of the allegory.

God’s Word is precise, not allegorical. Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). The “jot” (Hebrew letter yod – י) is the smallest letter in the letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The “tittle” is the smallest marking on a Hebrew letter that distinguishes it from another similar looking letter, for example, the difference between the resh (ר) and the dalet (ד). Jesus was not speaking in allegory. He spoke matter-of-factly and authoritatively. Again He said, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). Such emphatic statements cannot be true of allegories because allegories by themselves are up for interpretation.

God would not make His Word ambiguous through allegory if He means for it to be fulfilled to the smallest mark of the text. However, I know who would – Satan. From the very beginning, his tactics remain the same. Consider carefully at the account of the Fall (Genesis 3:1-5). “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1), This is not written as an allegory; it is written as a matter-of-fact. Note that the first thing Satan does is to introduce doubt in God’s Word – “Yea, hath God said…?” To paraphrase: “Did God really say that or was it just allegorical?” His next step is to call God’s Word a lie. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). God told Adam he would die (Genesis 2:17), if he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and here Satan says that is not true. Again, to paraphrase: “You are not going to die. That was just an allegory. God did not really mean you were going to die.” That set the stage for Satan’s third tactic – to charge God with dishonest and dishonorable motives. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). To paraphrase once more: “God wants to keep something good from you. He knows that if you eat of the fruit, you will be like gods, and you will know as much as He does, and He does not want that for you.” King Solomon said, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Satan has not changed from the beginning of time, and he still uses the same tactics to cast doubt on God’s Word.

No, the LORD God is not going to tell you that His Word is just an allegory and that you can interpret any way you think. God says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:7-9).

The Bible is not allegory. God makes His Word abundantly clear. The Bible does “contain” allegory, but where allegory is given, the interpretation follows close behind. Certainly, there are some things that are difficult to understand, as Mark Twain noted, however, most of it is plain enough. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). “Those things which are revealed” are plain enough for us to understand. They are not allegories that we must puzzle out. God reveals His Word to us clearly so that we can know Him intimately. He will not veil His Word in allegory so that every individual gets a different “insight” into what it says. God’s Word is precise. It is matter-of-fact. Our task is to accept God’s Word for what it says, not for what we think it says.

 

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One-Verse Theology

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. (Psalm 5:5)

Sometimes people will take one verse out of the Bible and try to build an entire belief system from one verse without regard to what the rest of Scripture has to say about it. For example, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Non-Christians and even many Christians use this verse to humiliate Christians into not making any judgments whatsoever. However, when read in context (Matthew 7:1-6) it becomes clear that what appears in isolation is not what is meant as a whole. Other examples could be cited, but this should do for the purpose of this writing.

Recently someone complained that the overused cliché – “hate the sin, but love the sinner” – is not biblical, and they used Psalm 5:5 (above) as their proof text. While the phrase itself is not found in the Bible, the concept is nevertheless both biblical and practical. Note that the cliché is not attributed to God, but rather it is intended for Christians.

The plaintiff claimed that the adage, “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” is not biblical because Psalm 5:5 says that God hates both the sin and the sinner. However, the challenger took one verse, Psalm 5:5, in isolation, and overlooked what the rest of the Bible teaches about God’s love – indeed, His love toward the sinner. Who of us can honestly say that we harbor no sin? If we are all sinners, even if saved by Grace, then by this assessment, God hates us. If we say we are not sinners, we have a surprise in store. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us … If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, 10, emphasis mine). John was writing to Christians! Personally, I am grateful that God loves this sinner even though He still hates my sin. (By the way, the closer I get to Him, the more I hate my own sin.)

 So, let us examine the challenger’s one-verse defense in its entire context. Psalm 5 is an imprecatory psalm, i.e. a psalm that calls upon God to judge His or our enemies. It is written from a human perspective. Because of David’s understanding of God’s holy nature and His hatred for sin, he concludes that God hates the sinner equally. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (Psalm 5:4). God cannot and will not abide sin. David continues: “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5, emphasis mine). As Hebrew poetry, the psalms are written in a parallel style, so that the thought in the first part of the verse repeats in a different way in the second. Strictly translated, the first part reads, “Not do stand the foolish before Thy sight,” or, better, “The foolish do not stand before Thy sight.” Comparatively speaking then, someone who “works iniquity” cannot stand in the presence of God, so that it appears that God hates the sinner. The Hebrew word translated “hate” is śânê’, and it means “to be in opposition to” or “to be an enemy or foe;” however, to be in opposition to someone does not necessarily require feelings of hatred.  Is it the sinner that God hates, or is it the sinner’s works of iniquity that God opposes? The Bible teaches the latter. The KJV includes the future “shall” (not found in the original Hebrew) indicating that the sinner will never be able to stand before the Lord. The unrepentant sinner does not now, nor shall ever stand in the presence of God. Their sin has separated them from God eternally. Does that mean that God hates them?

 “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing [falsehood]: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:6, emphasis mine). The judgement is reserved for a future time. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). Does that mean that God did not love these sinners?

 The Bible teaches that God loves mankind. It teaches that from the very beginning. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine). “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6, emphasis mine). “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15)

 Did God demonstrate hate for the sinner here, or did He show His love? By all rights, He should have killed them for their disobedience; after all, that is what He said He would do. Instead, God spared them, and He promised a Savior. Is that hate or love? One might rightly say, “Well, God was showing mercy.” Yes, that is true, but does mercy spring from hate or from love?

 David, a sinner himself, pleads with God to “Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee” (Psalm 5:10). God will do that in due time, but because of His mercy and His love (yes, love for sinners), He gives them time to repent. “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass [surround] him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12, emphasis mine).

 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, emphasis mine), “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis mine). “For God so loved the world [i.e. sinners], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). If God hates sinners, then why did He go through all trouble of making a way of salvation? “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11, emphasis mine).

 “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” It might be trite and overused, but it is biblical! It is also practical as it instructs us to love those who have offended us.

Reader, if you have not trusted in Jesus as your Savior, God does not hate you; He loves you, but He does hate your sin. You will never be able to stand before Him until that matter is settled. God loves you, and He sent Jesus to stand in your place and pay the price for your sins on the cross. Now He invites you to accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life. Acknowledge and confess your sinful condition to Him. Believe/trust that Jesus died for your sins. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin, and invite Him to be the Master of your life. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). His gift of salvation is yours for the asking. Do it today!

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Not Expecting to Die

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

Everyone dies eventually, but that is not my expectation. No, I have not discovered the fountain of youth, nor do I possess some secret, life-extending formula. Neither am I in denial about the certainty of death as it applies to me, nor do I fear the inevitability of death – although the process of dying is not too appealing. I fully accept the possibility that God could take my life at any moment. My life (and yours) belongs to Him, and He can recall it at His will. As the psalmist prayed, “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am” (Psalm 39:4).

That said, I expect not to die. Although our leading verse emphasizes that “it is appointed unto men once to die,” there is biblical precedence for it not being true for all men.

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24).

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both [Elijah and Elisha] asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11).

Two men recorded in the Bible escaped natural death, Enoch and Elijah. Some believe that the two unnamed witnesses described in Revelation 11:3 are Enoch and Elijah brought back to fulfill their unfinished prophetic mission. “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them” (Revelation 11:7, emphasis mine). Those who hold this view use this passage as confirmation of the truth of Hebrews 9:27 above, i.e., Enoch and Elijah did not die while they were on earth, so they must complete their earthly task and die as appointed to all men.

However, Hebrews 9:27 does not say παντες [all] οι ανθρωποι [men] – transliterated, pantes hoi anthropoi. While some may say that I am arguing from silence, I believe I have a valid point. The truth of this verse begins in Genesis when God commanded Adam, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine). Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the curse of death fell upon mankind.  “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19, emphasis mine). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12, emphasis mine). Adam’s sin brought the curse of death “upon” all men. The Greek word translated “upon” is the preposition eis, which can also be translated “toward” or “among,” meaning that all men are under the curse of death, but that does not necessarily mean that all men will die physically, although that is generally true for all men. All of us are susceptible to physical death – for the most part. However, the spirit lives on forever.

Death is more than physical death. Indeed, the worst death of all is that of the spirit separated from its Creator. Every person is born under this curse. Without Christ, everyone is dead in sin – eternally, but not irrevocably, separated from God. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:5, emphasis mine). Those who continue in that condition will suffer the second death. “And death and hell [the grave] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14, emphasis mine). The second death is eternal separation from God for eternity in hell. What a chilling thought!

Everyone is born under the curse of death and is spiritually separated (dead) from God; but God has provided the way to be made spiritually alive by placing one’s faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. However, along with that remains the fact that physical death is part of the curse. It is appointed to humans to die once, i.e., physical death, but those without Christ can also expect the second death – eternal spiritual separation from God.

However, Hebrews 9:27 implies that not all die physically. Indeed, there is coming a time when many millions of Christians from all over the earth will escape the bonds of this world without experiencing physical death.[1] “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [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” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, emphasis mine). “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 4:16-17, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “caught up” is harpazō, and it means “to seize,” “to catch away,” or “to pluck or take by force.” In Latin, it is the word rapturo, from which we get our English word “rapture.” That time is very near.[2]

While the possibility remains that God may take me at any moment – all of us live with that possibility – I rather anticipate that I will not experience physical death. I expect to be caught up in the Rapture. That too can happen at any moment, but I fully expect that it will happen before I die, and I fully expect it to happen very soon[3] – perhaps this very year.

When the Rapture takes place, millions from all around the globe will vanish in an instant. I will be one of them. The Rapture will cause havoc around the world, but especially in the United States. Many in our government, including President Trump (from what I hear), are “born-again” believers in Christ – genuine Christians. At the Rapture, they will all vanish. Think of the chaos that will ensue when that happens! The US Government and economy is on the verge of collapse right now. Think of what will happen when many of our leaders disappear!

Reader, how about you? Will you go to meet Jesus in the air with me, or be left behind to face the seven terrible years that will follow. If you do not know, I would invite you to place your trust in Jesus for your salvation. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

If you want to know more about the “Rapture” and the “Second Coming” of Christ, just type the phrase into the search box on this page or under the “Categories” column, select “Second Coming of Christ.”

Notes:


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

[2]  “Pentecost” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/05/28/pentecost/

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

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Occupy

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (2 Peter 3:11)

You might conclude from some of my writings that I expect Jesus to return for His Church at any moment, and you would be correct. I look forward to changing “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Then, along with millions of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I “shall be caught [Greek: harpazō — i.e. “raptured”] 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 4:17). I cannot help it; I just get excited about that!

 In my last article[1], I suggested that the “signs” make September 23, 2017, an excellent candidate for the Rapture event. Truthfully, the Rapture could take place at any time. Christ’s return is imminent, and it has been so since the beginning of Church history. The early church fathers (I mean the real ones, not the ones that came 300 years after the Resurrection) all expected Christ to return at any time. Paul reminded the Church of Thessaloniki, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, emphasis mine).

What victim of a home invasion is prepared when the thief brakes into his home in the middle of the night? Jesus said, “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (Matthew 24:43, emphasis mine). We cannot predict the inevitable, but we can certainly prepare for it.

Paul charged young Timothy, “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:14, emphasis mine). Apparently, Paul expected Christ to return in Timothy’s lifetime and his own. To Titus he wrote, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men [i.e. Jesus], Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13, emphasis mine). “This present world” was the world in which Paul and Titus lived, and they were to look for His appearing at that time. Again Paul, whom I believe wrote the letter to the Hebrews, reminded them, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come [i.e., Jesus] will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37, emphasis mine). Well, it has been almost 2000 years, and we are still waiting!

James wrote, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:8-9, emphasis mine). Peter said, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7, emphasis mine). Clearly, the Apostles expected Jesus’ return at any moment, yet 2000 years later, we continue to wait. Yet Peter cautioned, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4, emphasis mine). Yet, we wait.

As we wait, what must we do? If I truly believe that Jesus will return on September 23, 2017, should I divest myself of all my worldly possessions, move to Israel and go wait it out on one of the mountains around Jerusalem? No!

Jesus related a parable depicting the kingdom of God (Luke 19:12-27).  In the parable, a “nobleman” was leaving for “a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (v. 12). To His ten servants, he left equal amounts of money (a mina) with instructions to “Occupy till I come” (v. 13). Jesus is the “nobleman” who has gone to heaven to receive His kingdom, and soon He will return. We are the servants He has left behind with the instructions to “Occupy till I come.” He charged us all with the same task, “Ye shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). The verb “Go” in the Greek is a present, passive participle, which could be better translated, “As you are going.” “Teach all nations” could be better translated “make disciples” of all nations. That means that day by day as we go about our daily routines, we are His witnesses and our task is to share Christ with others wherever we are, whatever we are doing. That is our job. That is the task He left for us.

In the parable, Jesus says that the “citizens” the nobleman was to rule (v. 14) hated him. The “citizens” are the people of the world that reject Christ. With just a casual look around, we can see how the world hates Christ and everything for which He stands. Jesus left His servants on earth to gain a profit for His investment, and He will demand an accounting when He returns.

In the parable, one of the servants did nothing with the mina that was given him, and he returned the full amount to the nobleman (vv. 20-25). It is comforting to note that even though the servant was unprofitable, he did not lose his position as a servant; he did, however, lose his position of responsibility in the new kingdom.

The parable applies to Jesus’ servants, all Christians, as we await His imminent return for us at the Rapture. We do not know when that will take place exactly, but we know the time is very close. September 23, 2017, makes sense for all the reasons I pointed out in my last article[2] (and more), but it could happen today, tomorrow, or perhaps next year. It does not matter. We have our orders. “Occupy till I come.”

Notes:


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

[2]  Ibid.

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Father

Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

On Father’s Day, we set aside a special time to honor the one who gave us life. For better or worse, without our fathers, we could not celebrate anything, especially our birthdays. Mothers get all the glory because they carried us in their bodies for nine months, but it did not stop there. Our arrival and entry into the world caused Mama unspeakable anguish and pain. After that came all the late night feedings, nursing us through illness, and nurturing us through all the bumps and bruises of life. Of course, Dad got in on some of that, but not like Mama, but let’s face it, without Dad, Mama would have missed out on all those cherished experiences.

The verse above reminds us not to minimize the importance of a father. It is obvious that the verse is speaking about the LORD as Father, but the connection is clear that God identifies Himself with human fathers. The verb “requite” is not heard in normal, everyday speech today, but it means to make a “repayment.” The Hebrew word translated “requite” is gâmal, and it means “to treat a person (well or ill).” So, the question can be stated: “Is this how you treat or repay the LORD?” In context, God gave life to the nation of Israel. Remember? He called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans and promised him the land of Canaan. God gave life to Isaac, and He chose Jacob (Israel). God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and established them in the land. Likewise, our earthly fathers gave us the spark of life and brought us into this world. Even if they were not the fathers that stayed around and provided for us in our childhood, they gave us the life we now enjoy. We should “requite” them with our honor and respect.

God is the model Father from which we can all learn. Granted, in our fallen condition, we cannot meet His standard, but we have a pattern to follow. We can thank our earthly fathers for “the seed” from which we sprang, but ultimately, God is Father to us all. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10, emphasis mine) “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8, emphasis mine).

King David expressed his wonder for the Father this way: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14-16, emphasis mine). Our Father concerns Himself with every detail of our being. Jesus said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30, emphasis mine). Hairs! Someone “follically challenged” like myself might see this as insignificant, but in truth, God even counts those hairs I have lost. As earthly fathers, we may not know the hair count on our children’s heads, but we should be encouraged to pay close attention to every detail of their lives.

Knowing every detail of our children’s lives makes us aware of their needs. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). The Hebrew verb translated “pity” here is râcham, and it means “to love” or “have compassion on.” Jesus said, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8, emphasis mine). Further on He says, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32).  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, emphasis mine). Fathers provide for the needs of their children.

The Father disciplines His children. “Discipline” in essence means “to teach.” “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  Sometimes, this might include corporal punishment. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [in good time]” (Proverbs 13:24). “Beatings” are never appropriate, but the “board of education” properly and lovingly applied with wisdom to the “seat of understanding” is sometimes necessary. God the Father and God the Son provided the example. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel” (John 5:19-20, emphasis mine).

Jesus, the Son, was subjected to and endured capital punishment for our sins. “For he [the Father] hath made him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). At first sight, it seems abhorrent for a father to put his own son to death for the offenses of another, but this is a unique case. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, emphasis mine).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emphasis mine). The Father, punished His own Flesh, i.e. Jesus, for His children’s sins. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).

Even so, we do not escape the Father’s discipline when we need it. “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” (Proverbs 3:11). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7, emphasis mine) “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). Our Father’s discipline serves to sanctify us, that is, to make us holy, i.e., set us apart from the world. If we live in sin like the world, and God does not punish us for it, that only means that we do not belong to Him, because “whom the Lord loves, He chastens.”

The Father gives good gifts to His children. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). Fathers want to leave an inheritance for their children. Some leave great wealth; others can only leave a good name. However, the Lord gives His children the ultimate inheritance. Jesus said, “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). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7, emphasis mine). “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17).

Reader, if you are a child of God, regardless of your earthly father, whether good or bad, your heavenly Father cares for you and deserves your gratitude, devotion and obedience. If you are not a child of God, put yourself up for adoption; the Father will not turn you away. “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). If you are a father, let God the Father be your example.

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