Tag Archives: Christianity

Living in Fear

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Fear not! I have not counted for myself, but I understand that phrase, or some form of that phrase, appears 365 times in the Bible, one time for every day of the year. Yet it seems that these days fear dominates almost every area of our lives.

Beginning with the fear incited by federal health bureaucrats and the “fake news” media over the Wuhan Bug, a.k.a. COVID-19,[1] people fear leaving their homes without their self-poisoning surgical masks and plenty of immune-system-defeating hand sanitizer. This fear of the invisible predator has effectively imprisoned normal, healthy people, closed down churches[2], and heavily restricted or shut down businesses that rely on human traffic (not “trafficking”). Even the U.S. Navy fears the virus so much that it has effectively imprisoned all sailors.[3] President Trump recently spoke to graduating cadets at Annapolis who were all masked and properly social-distanced.[4]

It seems, however, that the Wuhan Bug discriminates among those it will infect. Apparently, Black Lives Matter (BLM) anarchists possess immunity against the virus. They wear masks only to hide their faces, and they do not practice social-distancing because it hinders mob vandalism. BLM and their support organization, ANTIFA, harbor no fear of the Wuhan Bug nor do they fear civil authority. In fact, it appears that the authorities fear the rioters more. While the police have “riot gear,” guns, bullets, tear gas and armored military vehicles, they hesitate to employ them for fear that they might be called “racists.” They have been rendered helpless by a word!

The local governments in charge of these police departments deserve the blame for this cowardice. They shackle those who “serve and protect” rendering law enforcement ineffective. Worse yet, many are beginning to yield to the rioters’ demands to defund the police departments. Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens are abandoned to fend for themselves while at the same time, leftists leaders push to violate the Second Amendment and disarm law-abiding citizens so that they are totally without protection.

So, now we also have a visible predator to fear. We can vanquish this one with little trouble and a little common sense. BLM is not about combating racism. There is no systemic racism in the United States. Any racism that exists, exists only in the minds of the propaganda spewing media and those leftists running the government (local, state, and federal) that feed propaganda to the media for public consumption. BLM is a Marxist organization[5] with the objective of destroying the American system of government and capitalism. Black lives do not matter to BLM; power does! BLM goes one step beyond socialism to communism. Neither the leaders of the movement nor the fools that follow them know the history of either socialism or communism. They have swallowed the utopian lie fed to them by their indoctrinators that such systems offer equality for all (except for those that are “more equal”). They believe in open borders, one-world order, and no law enforcement. Ironically, the “CHOP” experiment in Seattle, WA comes complete with borders and its own form of “law” enforcement. I heard somewhere, but I cannot confirm, that in its short existence, CHOP already finds defectors and those who would like to escape and cannot. Utopia only exists in the mind!

The solution to this problem is simple. Declare BLM, like ANTIFA, a domestic terrorist organization. When the rioters form, bring in well-armed police and military and use deadly force against these “enemy combatants.” By embracing Marxism, BLM betrays and rejects the Constitution of the United States thereby renouncing their rights under American law. They are enemies of the state.

These thugs are cowards. All they need is to see some of their comrades fall in a pool of blood, and they will quickly rethink their allegiance.  Look again at the passage from Deuteronomy quoted above. In the Mosaic Law, if parents had a rebellious son who would not obey and submit to his parents’ authority, the parents could bring him before the elders of the town and they would stone him to death. That sounds harsh to our sensitive, politically correct ears, but God’s reasoning for such harsh punishment was “so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear” (Deuteronomy 21:21). Do you know why BLM and ANTIFA have no fear of authority? It is because they have not seen one of their own put to death for their rebellion. Instead, it is our leaders who respond in fear and allow this anarchy to continue, and as a result, the rest of us have to live in fear of what these vandals will do next. Perhaps we will be the ones caught by a mob beating on our cars trying to drag us out to pummel us because we have been judged as “privileged.”

Of course, these riots are not unique to the United States. This is taking place all over the world. We just do not see it because the fake news tries to distract us to focus our attention only what is taking place here and only from the perspective of their camera lenses.

There is another source of fear for those who hold conservative values. According to some sources, it appears that our President, Donald Trump, stands a strong chance of losing the 2020 election, and we will get stuck with Joe Biden and whoever ends up as his running mate. That is a very scary thought. If that happens, there are Demonrat bills already waiting in the wings that will severely injure our First and Second Amendments. Who knows what other tyrannical legislation they will foist on us when all the stops are removed! On the other hand, if Trump is reelected and considering how his first election ignited their fury, imagine how they will react when he wins a second term. Either way, the next four years will not be pretty.

I am exhorted by many conservative groups to participate in the legislative process. Get involved. Write to your Congressman and Senators. Write to the President. Get involved in local and state politics. I do. I have always participated and will continue to do so as long as we have the privilege. However, I am no Polly Anna. I can read the writing on the wall. This country is already lost, and if not, it soon will be. Soon, we will be faced with two options: submit or fight. I know what is in my mind. I have lived my threescore and ten years in freedom. I will not submit to tyranny, but every person will have to make that choice for themselves.

Do you know what I fear? I know that Jesus will return for His Bride very soon. I can almost see the angel puckering his lips to blow that last trumpet, and we will be out of here. I do not want to miss that experience and the sensation of instant metamorphosis in the “twinkling of an eye.” My fear is that I will die before that event. On the brighter side, death will only mean that I will rise first. “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 4:16, emphasis mine). Either way, I look forward to being with my Savior for eternity.

We are living in fearsome times, but if we have placed our trust in Jesus, we should not live in fear. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). Take courage. Our Lord is coming soon!

Reader, if you are living in fear and are insecure about the future, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Wuhan Bug” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/03/15/wuhan-bug/

[2]  “The Right to Assemble” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/06/14/the-right-to-assemble/

[3]  “The US Navy Officially Becomes a Prison for Sailors” – https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/06/us-navy-officially-becomes-prison-sailors/

[4]  “Trump tells West Point graduates America’s institutions endure against ‘passions and prejudices of the moment’” – https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-west-point-graduates-america

[5]  “Black Lives Matter co-founder describes herself as ‘trained Marxist’ – https://nypost.com/2020/06/25/blm-co-founder-describes-herself-as-trained-marxist/

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Filed under Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Politics, Random Musings, Second Coming of Christ

My Dad

Photo of my dad taken February 21, 2005 in my home drinking his morning coffee.

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me…  (Deuteronomy 4:5)

I originally posted this on June 19, 2015, but aside from some minor edits to bring it up to date, it still honors the memory of my dad, who I still miss so much.

He came to the United States from Mexico in 1943 with false papers under an assumed name and started working for the railroad. Not long after, his work brought him to the West Texas town of Monahans where his eye fell upon the lovely Elena, and his life changed forever. Elena was one of five children of store owner and Baptist lay preacher, Porfírio Enriquez. Elena was hard to get, especially since her father wanted her to have nothing to do with the “mojado” (“wetback”), especially since he was not a Christian. But, eventually Elena fell prey to his boyish charm and the couple soon married – he was 20, she was 18.

The “unequally yoked” couple (2 Corinthians 6:14) soon experienced struggle over religious differences. Chale (Chah-leh), as he was known to his friends, was a non-practicing Catholic, so “church” mattered little to him. In fact, he found the practice of praying to inanimate images silly and pointless, so church to him was a waste of time. Chale also loved to party, and he loved to dance, much to the chagrin of the good Southern Baptist girl he had married. But Elena was not without recourse. On Saturday nights when Chale wanted to go dancing, Elena promised to go with him, if he would come to church with her on Sunday. Chale would dance all night with all the other ladies while Elena sat patiently by and watched. She would later say that he looked like a little demon dancing around through the haze of cigarette smoke. That arrangement worked well. Chale honored his promise to attend church with her on Sunday, and before long Chale surrendered his life to the Lord, gave up his partying ways, and took after his father-in-law as a lay preacher.

Shortly after Chale surrendered his life to the Lord, Elena became pregnant with me. At that time, Chale still resided in the US under an assumed name and false documentation. His new “tenderized” conscience started to bother him not only because of his illegal status, but also because he did not want his son given some stranger’s name. Determined to set the record straight, he returned to Mexico to earn the right to return to the United States legally. Wenceslao Carrasco de Cortez (his legal name) was required to spend two years in the Mexican Army Reserves to fulfill his military obligation to that nation, while at the same time working with a Mexican lawyer to legally come to America. While in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, he served as assistant pastor in a Baptist church in that city.

I was born in Monahans in 1950, and when I was about one year old, Elena, Mom, took me with her to be with Dad in Juarez. We lived there a year until Dad got all his legal matters resolved and fulfilled his military obligation to Mexico. We returned in 1952, and the following year I was blessed with a baby brother, Ednoi.

Dad continued to work on the railroad, and soon his work carried us to Odessa, Texas where, in 1955, another baby brother came along – Eliseo (Eli). Around this time Dad felt called of God to go into full-time ministry, and soon we moved to San Antonio, Texas for Dad to train for the ministry. W.C., as English speakers referred to him, was not well educated. He got as far as the third grade in Mexico where he learned reading, writing, and arithmetic, but the needs of his father’s ranch were of higher priority than education, and school fell by the wayside. Study at the Instituto Biblico Mexicano proved difficult for Dad, not to mention the burden of a family that needed provision. There were times when we had no food and no money for food. Mom told me of a time when she sent me to school with the last bit of beans folded in a flour tortilla (a bean taco), and after that no food was left for the rest of the family. That day, Dad was in the school chapel crying out to God; Mom was at home on her knees in prayer, when a knock came at the door, and some ladies from an Anglo church showed up, completely unaware of our need, with a month’s worth of groceries. In the meantime, the president of the school overheard Dad crying out to God and came to see what was troubling him. When he discovered the need, he reprimanded Dad for failing to make his need known, and promptly wrote him out a check for $100. In 1957, that was a lot of money! Dad couldn’t wait to come home to give Mom the news, and when he arrived, he found her in tears of joy for how God had provided.

I could relate many more stories just like that, but what I experienced in my young life taught me that God is real. His love is real, and He really does care about our every need, and He will provide exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

W.C. spent five years in school preparing for the ministry. In the end, he left the school without having completed his training. Our family moved to Cotton Center, Texas in 1960 where Dad was ordained as a Baptist minister, and where he pastored his first mission church in that capacity. Many mission churches followed. In 1963 we moved to Raton, New Mexico where Dad served as pastor of his first non-mission church. In 1965, God blessed us with our baby sister, Esther. I only got to know her the first five years of her life, and then I was off to the Navy and a life of my own.

Dad taught me many things. He taught me to read and write in Spanish. He taught me how to play baseball and throw a curve ball. He taught me how to drive; in fact, at 10 years old, when we were living in Cotton Center, he would send me, by my 10-year-old self, in our 1956 Ford Victoria to pick up kids for Sunday school. By the time I was old enough for my driver’s permit, I was already the most experienced driver in my Driver’s Ed class! Dad taught me the value of hard work. And even though he was not yet a naturalized citizen of the United States, he taught me patriotism, love of my country, love of my flag, and respect for authority. Dad taught me to take responsibility for myself and to never shy away from a challenge. He would always say, “Si está hecho por hombres, yo también lo puedo hacer.” (If it’s done by man, I can do it too!). But the greatest thing Dad ever taught me was the love of God and the love of God’s Word. The lessons learned from that have kept me from drifting to the left or to the right knowing that God does not change, and God’s Word never changes. Some have thought me insensitive, or unmoving, but although Dad taught me to love, and God’s Word teaches me to love, I also know that some things, from God’s perspective, are non-negotiable, so I do not easily yield to compromise even when “love” comes into play. The love of God must always supersede all others.

Dad was always strong – a trait I greatly admired in him, and one that I tried to emulate. He almost always had a cheerful disposition. He loved life, and he loved people – something else I admired in him. And he sang (or hummed) incessantly – to the point of annoyance – oblivious to anyone around him. But even that I admired in him – there was always a song – usually a hymn – in his heart. The world could be falling apart all around us, but one would never know it around Dad.

After Mom went to be with Jesus in December 2001, he, now 75, continued on with life as before, only without his lifelong partner. Shortly after we buried Mom, he took the pastorate of a small dwindling church in Brady, Texas, and served and ministered to them the remaining years of his life. His knees gave him trouble since his late 60’s, but the fear of knee replacement surgery kept him taking care of the problem. It finally got to the point where he could hardly get around, and that interfered with his ministry, which to him was a high priority. So he finally conceded to replace his knees, first the right one followed by the left the next year. Dad got a new lease on life with his new knees, and it was hard to slow him down at age 85. I found out through the grapevine that he helped a family put a new roof on their house. He was climbing ladders with bundles of shingles on his shoulder, and down on his new knees nailing shingles to the roof. He even outworked two much younger men that were helping him. I had to give him a good scolding for that, but that was just Dad. He would make the four and a half hour drive from Brady to Dallas and mix it up in Dallas traffic to make his doctors’ appointments.

He was an incredible man, my dad. As I watched him live his life – full-bore, filled with joy, loving the Lord with all of his heart and soul – I dreaded the thought of his decline into helplessness in later life. That would not have suited Dad at all, and I prayed and asked God not to allow my dad to decline physically or mentally, but rather that when his time came, that God would just take him. God answered my prayer on August 26, 2014. Dad got up that morning with respiratory issues and collapsed in the kitchen of his Brady home. My brother Ednoi, who was living with him called emergency services, but by the time they arrived, Dad’s brain had been deprived of oxygen too long. The EMTs worked on him and got him to the Brady hospital and then on a Care Flight to San Angelo. Dad lingered on a ventilator long enough for all of us kids, grandkids and some of his siblings to come and say goodbye. His body was functioning with the help of the ventilator, but he was not there. On August 28, 2014, we had the ventilator removed, and in a short seventeen minutes all life-functions stopped. Dad went to be with Jesus and to celebrate his 64th wedding anniversary with Mom the following day. Dad was exactly one month shy of his 88th birthday when he went to be with our Lord, but because of the greatest thing he taught me, I KNOW I will see him again, and maybe some time very soon.

This year marks the sixth year that I celebrate Father’s Day without my dad. But it will not be a time for sorrow. Rather it will be a time to thank God for the father He gave me and for the instrument that he was in my life to instruct and guide me in the ways of God. It will be a time of joy knowing that soon I will be together with him again forever because God is faithful, and His Word is true. That is not hope. That is assurance! Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thank you for all you meant to me, to our family, and to everyone whose life you touched. See you soon!

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Filed under Christianity, Holidays, Random Musings

The Right to Assemble

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The first of the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, known as the Bill of Rights, says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (emphasis mine). Arguably, certain groups today are loudly exercising their “freedom of speech” (while prohibiting the speech of opposing views). These same groups, while adopting one part of the Constitution, ignore the part that allows them to “peaceably” assemble. Instead, they riot, vandalize, and destroy private property. These groups gather in large mobs in blatant violation of all “social distancing” recommendations put forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

There is another group that is ignoring the First Amendment by happily, quietly, and carefully adhering to all the dictates put forth from our beneficent government. Because the Government cares deeply about its citizens and because the Government wants to protect its citizens from the deadly Wuhan Bug, it issued strict stay-at-home orders. All mass gatherings were prohibited and gatherings were limited to 10 or less. Restaurants or any business where people come in close contact with one another were shut down. Such draconian measures affected many small businesses and severely damaged the national economy, but it also directly impacted houses of worship. Most churches fell right in step with Government demands without a peep. Oh, there were some outcries, but these drew immediate fire, not only from the media and local authorities but from other churches that readily complied with “the law.”

Please do not get me wrong. In many ways, I sympathize with pastors of these compliant churches. After all, the CDC painted a grim picture of the Wuhan Bug. It was stealthy. It struck out of nowhere. It was deadly. Pastors, who really care about their congregations, fear inviting a deadly, invisible guest into their congregations that could infect and possibly kill some of their members. If the Wuhan threat were as pernicious as represented by the CDC, pastors cautiously refused to take responsibility for infecting their members.

So, Churches across the country closed their doors. Of course, many churches found creative ways to keep “having church.” Live streaming of church services actually increased the number of church attendance, and many thousands have come to the Lord as a result. Bible study groups took advantage of Zoom ™ to conduct interactive Sunday School classes. So, all was not lost.

Churches have quietly complied with Government (local, state, and federal) demands. However, in doing so they have broken two greater laws – the Law of the Land (the Constitution), and the Law of God.

The stay-at-home orders violate the First Amendment in two ways. They prohibit “the free exercise” of religion and “the right of the people to peaceably assemble.” Some will argue that we have not lost “the free exercise” of religion because we continue to exercise our religion virtually through live stream. Perhaps. However, the second part of the amendment ensures that we can “peaceably assemble” and that is very much a part of our “religion” (see our beginning verse above). Unless I missed something in my high school civics studies, the Constitution supersedes all other laws (except the Law of God). Local and state governments cannot (legally) make laws that supplant the Law of the Land, nor can an unelected body like the CDC. So, by compliance with these unlawful laws, the Church is violating the law of the land.

By compliance with these unlawful edicts, the Church has unwittingly broken God’s law by “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). One of the purposes for our assemblies is “to provoke [one another] unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24). That is next to impossible to do “virtually.” That cannot be done over the internet or even in a Zoom meeting for Sunday School. We need each other. “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16). We can best “edify” each other when “the whole body [is] fitly joined together.”

The last phrase of Hebrews 10:25 reminds us that we should assemble “so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Anyone paying attention can see that “day approaching.” And what is the Church doing? Staying at home watching their pastor on a computer monitor!

Things seem to be winding down with the Wuhan scamdemic, but the CDC warns that it may ramp up again in the Fall. So, will the Church go back into hiding again?

Another observation troubles me. It is the lack of faith in God’s provision and protection demonstrated by the Church’s submission to these unlawful directives. If Jesus has directed His Church to not forsake our assembling together, especially as we see the day approaching, will He not honor that and protect us from any harm? Or, is trusting in His provision just something we read in the Bible that is nice to talk about, but not to be taken seriously? Since the shutdown orders went into effect, I’ve heard many sermons encouraging listeners to take courage and not to be fearful, yet, the pews are empty and the preacher is speaking to a cold, unresponsive camera. Where is the courage in that!

Again, I do not mean to criticize pastors. They are doing what they feel is best for their flock. I understand. How about showing true courage and opening the doors to the church with no “social distancing”? How about behaving as if God will protect His people as He has promised? How about standing up against unlawful orders, and courageously affirming that “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29)?

I think it’s about time we assert our right to assemble. If anyone is fearful they should stay home. If anyone suspects they might be contagious, they should stay home. Otherwise, let’s have church – real church!

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

Looking for Antichrist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:


[1]  Daniel 7:8

[2]  Daniel 9:26

[3]  Daniel 9:24

[4]  Matthew 24:6

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

[6]  2 Thessalonians 2:3

[7]  Revelation 13:1

[8]  Revelation 13:2

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

[10]  Revelation 13:3

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How Soon They Forget!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:


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

[2]  2 Kings 17:6

[3]  Name derived from “Judah”

[4]  Jeremiah 25:11-12

[5]  Daniel 5:30

[6]  Isaiah 44:28; 45:1

[7]  Ezra 5:13

[8]  Darius reigned between 522-486 BC

[9]  Ezra 7:6

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

[11] Nehemiah 6:15

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

[13]  Nehemiah 5:14-15

[14]  Nehemiah 13:6

[15]  Deuteronomy 23:3

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