Tag Archives: Bible

What’s The Rush!

Typical “Las Posadas” Celebration

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. (Luke 2:6)

Many Christmas traditions come from a fundamental misunderstanding or outright ignorance of Scripture. Such is the case of Joseph and Mary finding nowhere to stay in Bethlehem.

One of my favorite recent movies this time of year is The Nativity Story because it portrays a very realistic account of the birth of Christ, but even it resorts to unfounded tradition in its representation of the account. One of the most flagrant is the final tableau depicting the nativity scene complete with shepherds and wise men together on the night of the birth. It makes a pretty scene, but it is scripturally inaccurate.

Another error I discovered just recently is the scene when the Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem. They arrive just when it starts to get dark. Suddenly, Mary starts having contractions and she pleads with Joseph to quickly find a place because the baby is coming. Frantically, Joseph runs from house to house banging on doors and pleading for someone to give them refuge in their desperate hour of need. No one has room to offer. Finally, one man offers a grotto where he shelters his animals. As the saying goes, “any port in a storm.” They take the offer and Mary gives birth to baby Jesus.

This tradition has been played out through the centuries. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, they observe Las Posadas (“the inns”) where a young girl and boy are selected to play the part of Mary and Joseph. They go from house to house in town followed by all the town’s people seeking refuge. Finally, they get to the last house where they are given posada, and the whole town enjoys a time of celebration.

Such traditions are neither good nor bad in themselves except that they have no basis in Scripture. Dr. Luke gives no indication that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem on the very night that Jesus was born. He does record that “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7), but he gives a reasonable explanation for this.  Caesar Augustus had issued a census requiring everyone to go to his ancestral home of origin to be counted (Luke 2:1-3). Joseph and Mary both were descendants of King David whose birthplace was Bethlehem. Therefore, they were required to travel from Nazareth, their home, to Bethlehem in order to comply with Caesar’s decree. They arrived in Bethlehem. Visitors from all over Judea and Samaria overran the place so that every house in town was full. Joseph and Mary took the only place available – a shelter for animals.

They made the best of their accommodations. “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6, emphasis mine). Luke gives no indication that they were in panic mode as tradition has taught. “Silent Night” makes more sense in a setting of peace rather than desperation. Yes, it was a stable, and yes, baby Jesus’ crib was a feeding trough for animals, but God, not desperation was in control.

After the crowd departed and returned to their homes, Joseph and Mary remained in Bethlehem for some time. With the excess population gone, they were able to find suitable lodging in a house. Matthew records that “wise men from the east” (Matthew 2:1) came in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2).  “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11, emphasis mine). By this time, Jesus was no longer a “babe” (Luke 2:12) but a “young child” under two years of age (Matthew 2:16).

We often attach too much sentimentality to this event that may obscure of the real wonder of God’s entrance into the world of His creation. God became man, to live as a man – from conception to death – so that He could redeem His fallen creation from the curse of death by His own death, burial, and resurrection. Remove all the fluff from Christmas traditions, and what remains is staggeringly awesome!

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What A Thing!

Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

… Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:5-7)

The Christmas season is upon us once again, and once more, I sense the dilemma of mixing the commercialization of the season by the world with the celebration of the First Advent. Any Christian well taught in Scripture recognizes that Jesus was not born on December 25, but thanks to the Catholics, we are stuck with that date. Regardless of how one feels about that, it is appropriate to set aside a special time to contemplate the magnitude of the miracle that is the Incarnation[1] – God becoming a man.

Consider our leading verse. No other religion[2] in the world makes the claim that their gods willingly depose themselves of all divine powers to assume the life of a human. Then, to top it off, offer themselves as a blood sacrifice in order to save the lowly human race. However, contemplate seriously the significance of these words of Scripture.

“Christ Jesus” – the anointed Savior (meaning of the name) – “who being in the form of God.” The Greek word translated “form” is morphē, and it means “shape” or “nature.” The Apostle John calls Jesus “the Word.” He wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: (John 1:1, emphasis mine). In the Greek, the phrase “the Word was God” literally reads, “God was the Word” — θεος ην ο λογος. What a thing!

Though He was in every way, in very nature, God, He “Thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Verse 8 clarifies this phrase when it explains that Jesus “humbled Himself.” He did not regard it robbery to lay aside His Divine nature and assume human form in order to redeem fallen humanity. What a Thing!

“He made Himself of no reputation.” This entire phrase is summed up in one Greek word, εκενωσεν (hekenoōsen), which means, “He emptied Himself” without any sense of deprivation. In exchange, “He took upon Himself the morphē (see above) of a servant” – doulos – a “slave.” He “was made in the likeness of men.” The Greek word translated “likeness” is homoiōma meaning “resemblance.” So, not only did He take on the “nature” of man, He “looked” like any other man. There was no halo around Him to distinguish Him from any other man. Of Him Isaiah the prophet said, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “comeliness” is hâdâr meaning “magnificence,” and “beauty” is the Hebrew word mar-eh’ meaning a “handsome appearance.” So much for those soft-faced images of Jesus, we are so used to seeing! It was not enough that He condescended from His Divine nature to assume the nature of an ordinary, common-looking man, but He took the form of the lowliest kind of man – a slave. Not only did He come as a slave, but He chose a peasant girl for a mother and a stable for His birthplace.[3] What a THING!

The passage goes on to say, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8, emphasis mine). “Fashion” is the Greek word, schēma and it means the “mode, circumstance, or external condition.” The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Man must die eternally to pay the penalty for sin. Unless some sinless one can be found to serve as a suitable sacrifice for all of mankind, every one of us must pay “the wages of sin.”[4] Who could qualify as a suitable sacrifice? “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). Therefore, God clad Himself in human flesh and took the penalty for universal sin upon Himself. However, His death was not enough. He conquered death when He rose from the grave on the third day. He paid the sin debt that we owe and broke the curse of death[5] with His resurrection. WHAT A THING!

This Christmas, regardless of the commercialization of the season and regardless of the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25, God’s gift of salvation freely offered to all who will accept it, is worthy of commemoration and celebration. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15, emphasis mine). WHAT A THING!!

Merry Christmas!

Notes:


[1] “Miracle of the Incarnation” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/12/24/miracle-of-the-incarnation/

[2]  “False Religion” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/07/27/false-religion/

[3]  “Extreme Measures” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/12/11/extreme-measures/

[4]  “Eternal Sacrifice” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/09/30/eternal-sacrifice/

[5]  “Why Jesus?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/12/13/why-jesus/

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Creation Ex Nihilo

A Picture of Nothing

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

It seems strange to me when people readily accept the origin of the universe from a Big Bang, yet balk at the suggestion that God created the universe out of nothing – ex nihilo – simply by speaking it into existence. Even Christians who claim to believe that every word of the Bible as inerrant and infallible fall prey to the notion that God somehow initiated and used the Big Bang to create over billions of years of time.

Recently the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) published an article,[1] which raised questions in one reader’s mind. He wrote:

Since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, doesn’t it make more sense to think that either…

  • God first created nothingness?
  • He created time at the same time as nothingness?
  • As He was everything, from within Himself He created everything?

Another question I have regards the space/time/matter continuum. While our human minds at present can’t conceive of the three dimensions going on into infinity in both directions, doesn’t it stand to reason to think that the universe and its three dimensions is endless in both directions?

I am not sure what he meant by his last question. He affirms (at least by our understanding) a three-dimensional universe, but then he questions the three-dimensional universe being infinite (endless) in “both directions.” That suggests only two dimensions. He seems confused, as often happens when we “over think” things that are beyond our understanding.

Our problem in a question like this is that we tend to think of God from our limited human perspective. As theologians like to describe God, He is totally “other,” i.e., He is nothing like us, and we have nothing outside of His Word with which to compare Him. This is why His second commandment prohibits that we make an image of Him (Exodus 20:4). It would be impossible for any image to accurately depict God in His fullness.

When we say God is eternal,[2] we sometimes view “eternity”[3] with some kind of cosmic clock[4] in mind, but that would confine God to time. God is timeless. He has no past, present or future; He simply “is.” That is why when Moses asked His name, He responded, “I AM” (Exodus 3:11). He is the All-Existent One. His omnipresence means more than He is everywhere at all times; it means that He exists IN all times, i.e., He is in our past, present and future all at once. This explains why He knows the future before it happens. This is also why our sin bears eternal consequences. Our sin is an infinite offense to God.

When we understand that, we can look at Genesis 1:1 and see that “In the beginning (time) God created (bara – only used in reference to God creating) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter/energy),” ergo, the universe. God created time. There would be no universe without time – i.e., the space-time continuum to which the writer referred. The universe, like God, is a trinity; time, space and matter/energy must all exist simultaneously for the universe to exist. Remove any one of the three components, and the universe ceases. God created time “in the beginning.”

The Bible does not specifically say that God created out of nothing (“ex nihilo” is the theological term we use to describe God’s creation), but the implication that there was nothing before verse 1 of Genesis is certainly there. When God confronts Job’s questions, He responds, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” (Job 38:4). What are “the foundations of the earth,” if not the basic elements of the universe? Obviously, we have no way of knowing precisely “how” God did it. The Bible encourages us to rest in the fact that God brought it all about “In the beginning.” “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).

On the final question, the universe is not infinite for the very reason that it was created. Nothing that is created can be infinite. Only God is infinite; everything else is finite.

When we think on that, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4). Yes, as immeasurably great as God is, He took on human form and condescended to us, His creation, to dwell among us, take on the eternal offense of our sin, and pay for it with His death on the cross so that we might share eternity with Him. After all He has done for us, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? Thank God for His infinite love!

Notes:


[1]  “The Universe Out of Nothing” – https://www.icr.org/article/10286

[2]  “The Eternality of God” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/06/04/the-eternality-of-god/

[3]  “Time Confusion” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/07/31/time-confusion/

[4]  “No Time Like the Present” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/01/18/no-time-like-the-present/

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Pre-Flood Fish Food

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30)

Our lead verse above often leads to questions about the diet of carnivores prior to the Fall recorded in Genesis 3. Those who raise the question point out that some animals’ teeth are designed for eating plants and others are designed for eating meat. I can answer that question by simply pointing out that my dogs (and probably yours) eat grass, carrots, apples, potatoes, green beans, watermelon, etc. Not only that, but their kibble is made mostly of vegetable products; they do not have to eat meat to survive. In addition, many animals existing today survive on a purely vegetarian diet even though they have sharp meat-eating teeth;[1] for example, panda bears are strict vegetarians, even though they have a mouth full of sharp meat-grinding teeth! Likewise, dinosaurs were all vegetarians before the Fall[2] for the same reason.

Someone recently asked, “What about the sea creatures? Can we assume that there are plants in the oceans? How would that make any sense? What were the sea creatures feeding on if not one another according to the food chain? Doesn’t that represent some kind of death already existing before the fall?”

That is a very good question. The Bible says that when God finished creation, He said it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Since the Bible calls death “the enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26), death cannot be a part of a “very good” creation. Both humans and animals were vegetarian, as pointed out in our verse above. (Genesis 1:29-30); therefore we can safely conclude that applied to sea creatures as well.

We must first define what “life” is. The Bible says that “life is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). Therefore, anything that has blood has life. “Life,” according to God’s Word, is not the same as defined by modern science. Modern scientists define life as anything that grows and reproduces, so to modern scientists, plants are “alive,” but that is not what the Bible says. Many creatures grow, reproduce and move freely in the oceans, like plankton. These are considered “motile organisms.” However, they have no blood; therefore, according to the Bible, they do not really have “life.” Whales eat tons of plankton every day and so do other sea creatures. Besides that, many kinds of plants grow in the shallows where sunlight for photosynthesis can still penetrate. Therefore, it should not be difficult to conclude that all sea creatures were vegetarian before the Fall (Genesis 3).

Consider also that the Fall took place probably less than a month after creation – perhaps even within the following week. I say that because Adam and Eve were perfect human specimens, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). They had absolutely no physical flaws. God gave them instruction to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and [fill] the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Eve did not conceive until after the Fall (Genesis 4:1). Considering that a woman’s menstrual cycle is about 28 days and that Eve was the most beautiful woman in the world – literally – Adam, I am certain, would have gotten busy right away to keep God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.” Eve, being the perfect example of femininity and physical health should have gotten pregnant right away. Since that did not happen until after the Fall, we must conclude that the Fall occurred before she became pregnant, and therefore less than one month after creation. That should not be too long to survive a vegetarian diet. I could even do that for a month, although, I might not be too much fun to be around!

Aside from the academic exercise of a pre-Fall animal diet is the question of death before sin.[3] If death existed before Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree, then how can death be the logical consequence of sin? Death before sin destroys the whole premise of the Gospel. Therefore, biblical compromises like the Gap Theory,[4] the Day-Age Theory,[5] and Theistic Evolution[6] must be rejected. With all of that, we can conclude that all creatures were vegetarian prior to the Fall.

Notes:


[1]  “Why God Created Large, Sharp Teeth?” – http://www.icr.org/article/why-god-created-large-sharp-teeth

[2]  “How Do the Dinosaurs Fit In?” – http://www.icr.org/article/how-do-dinosaurs-fit-in

[3]  “The Curse of Death” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/06/14/the-curse-of-death/

[4]  “No Gap” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/18/no-gap/

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

[6]  “The Bible Says” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/04/03/the-bible-says/

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The Good Muslim

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;  (45)  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. ( Matthew 5:44-45)

At the time of this writing (November 1, 2017), the news is all abuzz over the latest act of jihad by another Muslim terrorist. On Tuesday, October 31, 2017, Halloween, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, drove his rented Home Depot truck onto a bike lane along Manhattan’s West Side Highway killing at least eight and injuring half a dozen others. Saipov, a recent Muslim import, hails from Uzbekistan and entered by way of the “green card lottery” in 2010. The odious piece of legislation that opened the door for Saipov sprang from the frothing cesspool of Demoncrat minds known as the “Diversity Visa Program” – it sounds nice. Demoncrat Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer pushed the legislation through in 1990, as if our nation is not “diverse” enough!

Several people interviewed reported that Saipov was a “nice guy.” No one that knew him suspected that he was capable of such a heinous act. They all thought he was one of the “good Muslims.” I found an interview of one of Saipov’s “Mosque-ovites” (one who worships at the same mosque) less than amusing. The FOX street reporter prompted the “Mosque-ovite” by asking, “How do ‘good Muslims’ respond to these acts of terror?” (or something to that effect). Of course, the “Mosque-ovite” denounced the act in the strongest terms even calling the culprit “an animal.” Apparently, “good Muslims” harbor no tolerance for Muslims who perform acts of terror. But, how do we know that they really believe what they proclaim? Where is the outcry from the Muslim community calling for these acts to stop!

Allow me to say at the onset that I do not believe all Muslims are out to wage war on the “infidels” and convert or kill us all. Surely many Muslims want to live in peace and have a “normal” life; but how can we distinguish “the good Muslim” from the one that seeks to convert infidels through force or otherwise eliminate the infidel from the earth? Good and “bad” Muslims are indistinguishable until one of them receives the inspiration to wage jihad and kill a bunch of innocent people. Then we know—that was one of the bad ones.

From what I have learned about the Muslim religion, “the good Muslim” – “good” by American standards – can be likened to the nominal Christian. The nominal Christian claims the name of Christ. They may or may not attend church services on a regular basis. They probably own a Bible, but rarely open it. If they carry their Bible to church, they will read what is put on the big screen, but they will not open their Bible to see if the preacher quoted the Scripture correctly. A nominal Christian might say, “the Bible says” and then quote some pious platitude that has no basis in Scripture. A nominal Christian believes that all people are basically good and that anyone can go to heaven as long as they exercise good moral behavior and follow the “golden rule.” They conduct themselves by the motto, “live and let live.”

Likewise, “good Muslims” acknowledge Allah as their god.[1] They go to the mosque every Friday and pray five times a day. They may own a Qur’an but not really read it. The Qu’ran is written in Arabic, although there are some parallel versions that have the English translation on one side. I would venture to say that a good majority of American Muslims can neither read nor speak Arabic, so that must rely on the teachings of their Imams. Good Muslims believe that Islam is a religion of peace and that “jihad” is an “inner struggle” to please Allah. While they may believe that infidels are going to hell, they are happy enough to let them go there. They share the same motto with nominal Christians: “Just live and let live.”

From an American perspective, “good Muslims” are just like us. Americans believe that Muslims share the same values, and that “good Muslims” just want to live their lives in peace. However, Americans view the world through a skewed westernized lens that, like it or not, originates from a biblical foundation. Ideas like “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) are basic to the American psyche. “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13) and “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12) are all principles taught in the Bible. Americans, whether they know the Bible or not, pretty much live by these principles; and because they do not know the source, they assume the rest of the world lives by these principles too. Consequently, Americans believe “good Muslims” live by the same principles.

The Bible instructs us to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate you, and to pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you. It teaches that we should treat others as we would have them treat us. We are told not to murder or to lie (Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 14:5). We are instructed to care for the poor, the widows and the orphans. How does the Qur’an[2] compare with what the Bible teaches?

Infidels – anyone who does not adhere to Islam – are enemies according to the Qur’an (2:98; 4:101).[3] The Qur’an teaches that Allah does not love the infidels (3:32, 140), unlike the Bible that teaches that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, since Allah does not love infidels, they must be persecuted (4:104-105; 2:217). Unlike the Bible’s teaching that Christians are to witness for Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), the Qur’an teaches that Muslims should “not take the infidels for friends … whoever does this has nothing to do with Allah” (3:28: 4:144; 5:51; 60:1-2). That is pretty harsh! Is it any wonder that Muslims do not assimilate into the American culture? To be sure, Allah encourages emigration for the sake of jihad (2:218), which explains their invasion of Europe, Canada, the U.S., and others. Moreover, Allah encourages the killing of infidels (4:89), and if the Muslim dies in the process of jihad, they automatically gain entry into heaven (3:169; 4:95). Sadly, even this effort carries with it no guarantee: “O you who have believed [i.e. the Muslim], fear Allah and desire the way to him. And perform jihad for his sake, perhaps you may prosper: (5:35, emphasis mine).

More could be said concerning the contrast between the Bible and Qur’an, but from this brief review, Americans should hope that “good Muslims” do not take seriously the Qur’an. When they do take it seriously the contents of this satanic book and convert to “good Muslims” (according to the standards of the Qur’an), it only spells danger for us poor infidels. The problem is further exacerbated when one realizes that Muslims are not obligated to deal honestly with infidels (2:225; 3:28, 54; 9:3; 16:106; 40:28; 66:2). Unlike the Bible that exhorts truthfulness and honesty (Exodus 20:16; Psalm 101:7; Proverbs 12:22; Colossians 3:9-10; et al), the Qur’an encourages Muslims to lie[4] to infidels if it is to their advantage. The practice is known as taqiyya.[5] Knowing this, how can one discern one “good Muslim” from another? One cannot know if a Muslim is nominal, moderate, or a full-fledged jihadist, because their “holy” book discourages them from befriending an infidel unless it is for the dishonest purpose of gaining some advantage. Can the distrust of Muslims honestly be labeled “Islamophobia” when the Muslim “holy” book instructs “good Muslims” to lie to infidels? The Qur’an itself claims that Allah is the greatest liar of all (3:54; 4:142; 8:30). Compare that to the Bible’s teaching that God does not lie (Numbers 23:19). Additionally, the Bible identifies the “father of lies” as Satan (John 8:44).

What are we to do? Surely, there are Muslims that hold their religion in name only and they truly want to live in peace with their neighbors, but the tenets of that religion are incompatible with the American way of life. I desire that they would all convert to Christianity, but barring that, I would be happy if they would just renounce that satanic religion, embrace the law of this land, the United States Constitution, and assimilate into the American culture.

Notes:


[1]  “God Is Not Allah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/09/29/god-is-not-allah/

[2]  A English/Arabic paperback copy of the Qur’an can be obtained at Amazon.com. I would recommend the one translated by Abdulla Yusuf, which is the copy I have. For my study, however, I use The Generous Qur’an: An accurate, Modern English Translation of the Qur’an, Islam’s Holiest Book, translated and annotated by Usama K. Dadok. It too is available from Amazon.com.

[3]  Citations from the Qur’an follow the format of Chapter:Verse, e.g. (2:98). The Qur’an does not have “books” like the Bible.

[4]  “Islam Permits Lying to Deceive Unbelievers and Bring World Domination!” – http://muslimfact.com/bm/terror-in-the-name-of-islam/islam-permits-lying-to-deceive-unbelievers-and-bri.shtml

[5]  “Deception, Lying and Taqiyya” – https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/taqiyya.aspx

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Jerusalem

Modern Jerusalem viewed from the Mount of Olives

And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. (1 Kings 11:36)

Emerging from the tunnel cut through the mountain from Jericho, I caught my first glimpse of the “Eternal City,” Jerusalem. I was completely unprepared for the overwhelming emotional “rush” I would get upon my first view of the city – God’s city. Although Jerusalem is in every way a modern city – nothing like it was in Jesus’ day – building codes imposed on new construction maintain the “old” appearance of the city. That probably contributed to my emotional response.

There are cities in the Middle East more ancient than Jerusalem. Damascus, Syria, for example, is first mentioned in Genesis 14:15.  In this account, a confederation of four kings from the area around Damascus came against the kings of the south, in the area around the Dead Sea. One of those cities was Sodom where Abram’s nephew Lot was living. The invading kings sacked the five cities including Sodom and carried off captives of which Lot was one. Abram mustered up a small army of his own servants, pursued the four kings, rescued Lot, and the other captives, and took back the booty taken by the marauding kings. On his return, he encountered Melchizedek, king of Salem (Genesis 14:17-20). Some have supposed that Salem was the same as Jerusalem, but I disagree for several reasons.[1]

Jerusalem[2] is built on the mountains in the land of Moriah. It was “upon one of the mountains” (Genesis 22:2) there that God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. It is noteworthy that God did not instruct Abraham to go to Salem, Jerusalem, or Jebus (Judges 19:10-11; 1 Chronicles 11:4-5). Jebus was the “city of the Jebusites” and the Jebusites were in the land when Abram first arrived (Genesis 15:21), and it seems it would have been an excellent landmark if it existed at the time of Abraham. Instead, God instructed Abraham to go the “land of Moriah” and sacrifice Isaac on one of the mountains there. A normal reading of the text leads one to see this place as isolated and uninhabited. However, this would later become the site of Jerusalem, and the particular mountain on which Isaac was offered would become the site of the Temple “in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (2 Chronicles 3:1). Eventually, God would sacrifice His own Son, on the mountains of Moriah.

This alone makes Jerusalem a special place. Geographically, Jerusalem is located near the center of earth’s total landmass.[3] More than this, God stamped His name on Jerusalem.[4] Jews associate the Hebrew letter “Shin” (ש) with the name of God. They derive this from the “Shama” (meaning “hear”) in Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Jerusalem – the “Old City” is situated on the mountains of Moriah, which are flanked by two valleys – the Kidron, and Tyropean – with a third, the Hinnom (Gehenna), that runs down the center to join the other two. The topography forms the letter “Shin” the symbol of God’s name. The land of Israel has a similar stamp where the three headwaters of the Jordon River join together to form the letter “Shin.”

The mountains of Moriah are made up of three mountain heads: Ophel, Moriah, and Zion. “Ophel” means “My Fortress” and represents God the Father. “Moriah” means “to see God” or “to be seen of God” and represents God the Son. “Zion” means “the Mark” and represents God the Holy Spirit who is the “seal” or the “mark” of all believers. One mountain range with three heads representing one God in three persons.

Jerusalem, as stated earlier, is the “Eternal City.” When Jesus returns to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He will come to Jerusalem. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4, emphasis mine). Jesus will physically reign from His Temple in Jerusalem. A river will flow from his throne here and will run to the east and into the Dead Sea, which will be healed (Ezekiel 47:8-9).

At the end of the 1000-year reign of Christ on earth, God will create a “new heaven and a new earth,” and a “New Jerusalem” will descend from heaven to a recreated earth (Revelation 21:1-2) where those of us who are His children will reign forever with Him. As beautiful as Jerusalem is today, it will not compare to the New Jerusalem where not just God’s name will dwell, but God Himself will dwell with us!

Reader, if you are unsure where you will spend eternity, read my page on Heaven.

Notes:


[1]  “Is Salem Jerusalem?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/08/16/is-salem-jerusalem/

[2]  “Hebrew Word Study – Jerusalem – Part I” – http://livingwordin3d.com/discovery/2016/12/18/hebrew-word-study-jerusalem-part-i/

[3]  “The Center of the Earth” – http://www.icr.org/article/50

[4]  “Jerusalem – I Will Put My Name There – Amazing Revelations” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZO_eRmR2ho

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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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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Religion, Second Coming of Christ