Tag Archives: End Times

In the Twinkling of an Eye

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)

For several years now, but more so lately, the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ, occupies my mind almost constantly – hopefully not to the point that I am so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good. As a matter of fact, the prospect incites a sense of urgency within me to share, or better, to warn, the lost around me, especially my loved ones, of the menacing peril that looms ahead for those left behind when Jesus returns for His Bride, the Church. Anyone rejecting Christ, whether by choice or by ignorance, faces seven years of unimaginable horror on earth, until Jesus returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to claim His Kingdom on earth for 1000 years (Revelation 20). During that awful period of seven years, people will still have the opportunity to repent and follow Jesus, but they may have to pay for that choice with their lives.

For believers who share my anticipation, I wonder what our call to “come up hither” (Revelation 4:1) will be like? In the starting verse above, the Apostle Paul says that we, if we are not “asleep,” will “be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).  The Greek word translated moment is atomos, from which we get our English word “atom,” and it signifies the smallest, indivisible amount of time. Paul further defines the “moment” as “the twinkling of an eye.” The twinkling of an eye is faster than “the blink of an eye” which is 100-400 milliseconds.[1] I read somewhere that the “twinkling of an eye” is the amount of time it takes for light to enter the eye, hit the retina, and reflect back out;[2] it is a ridiculously small amount of time.

Paul tells us this event takes place “at the last trump.” John the Revelator, who enjoyed a “sneak preview” of this future event, said, “the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1, emphasis mine). Will we hear an actual trumpet call and automatically understand that we are being called home? In another place Paul says that, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, emphasis mine). Will everyone on earth hear the sound? Perhaps they will, but only those for whom the call is intended will understand the meaning. I recall that when Jesus called Paul into service, “the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man,” (Acts 9:7, emphasis mine). In another place Paul says, “they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me” (Acts 22:9, emphasis mine). The connotation here is that, even though they heard the sound, they did not hear the voice with understanding. The communication was intended solely for Paul and no one else. That is what I think will happen at the Last Trump. Those who are His “sheep” will hear and understand the voice of the Shepherd. The rest may hear something, but not know what it is.

When that call comes, “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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine). In the twinkling of an eye, the decayed bodies of all the saints who are “asleep” (i.e., dead) will be reconstituted, and they will burst forth from their graves and take flight to meet Jesus in the air. In that same instant, “we [who are alive] shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51); in the twinkling of an eye, our bodies will be transformed from mortal to immortal. Will we feel it? What sensation will we experience? Suddenly all aches and pains will cease. Wrinkled skin will return to the firm supple skin of our youth. Grey hair will return to its former natural vibrancy. Heads of skin will be restored to their former glory – without the dandruff! I imagine myself in front of the mirror checking my “gig line.” I look down to check a button I missed, and when I look back up, I am staring at my 30-year old self with a full head of wavy hair! Then in the next moment, my clothes fall off as I pass right through the roof of my house. I look down and watch my house grow smaller and smaller as I zoom skyward like in a Star Wars movie. I look up and see Jesus standing there in space with open arms to welcome me, and I look around me and see millions of others wearing white robes like mine going the same direction I am traveling – toward Jesus. And no one is old. No one is disfigured. No one is bent, broken, or blemished in any way. All those I see are perfect creations like the first pair God made in the Garden of Eden. It will happen in the twinkling of an eye!

Not everyone on earth will go. Behind will be all those who rejected God’s free gift of salvation to face the horrors of hell on earth for the next seven years. Reader, if you have not asked Jesus to be your Savior, you will be included with those who are left behind. Do not let another day go by without asking Jesus to save you. Invite Him into your heart today. In the twinkling of an eye, that matter will be settled, and you can rest secured in His love. Do it now!

Notes:


[1]  “How Fast Is a Blink of an Eye?” http://sciencing.com/fast-blink-eye-5199669.html/, accessed 04/18/2017.

[2]  Question posted at https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/48664/how-long-would-it-take-for-light-to-go-through-a-human-eyeball-and-back-to-the-o/, accessed 04/18/2017.

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The King Is Coming!

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9)

Around 1,987 years ago on a Sunday afternoon (Mark 11:11), Jesus rode into Jerusalem as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah. The Gospel writer, Matthew, quotes Zachariah in part, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5, emphasis mine). Matthew conspicuously omits Zachariah’s description of the coming King as “just, and having salvation.” Why the omission? Matthew Henry comments on Zachariah 9:9:

“He is a righteous ruler; all his acts of government will be exactly according to the rules of equity, for he is just. 2. He is a powerful protector to all those that bear faith and true allegiance to him, for he has salvation; he has it in his power; he has it to bestow upon all his subjects. He is the God of salvation; treasures of salvation are in him. He is servatussaving himself (so some read it), rising out of the grave by his own power and so qualifying himself to be our Saviour.”[1] (Emphasis mine)

Perhaps Matthew’s omission (as directed by the Holy Spirit) was purposeful. Granted, Matthew wrote after the fact from a vantage point of hindsight, yet the omission retained the prophetic formula of immediate and future fulfillment. Jesus did something similar when He applied Isaiah’s prophecy to Himself. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). He deliberately omitted the remainder of Isaiah’s prophecy: “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2).  Jesus fulfilled the first part of Isaiah’s prophecy at His first coming; “the day of vengeance of our God” will be fulfilled at His second coming when He will set up His millennial kingdom and “comfort all that mourn.”

In the same way, Jesus entered into Jerusalem as the coming King, “lowly [meek], and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). In a matter of days, the adoring crowd crying, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13) would turn into a raging mob shouting, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him … We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). They took the King and nailed Him to a cross.

Three days later, He conquered death and once again walked on earth. After forty days (Acts 1:3), He ascended to His throne having “purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). However, He is not done. There remains prophecy yet unfulfilled. Many still mourn. Injustice still reigns. The Lord has not executed His vengeance and His creation still needs salvation. There is yet more to come.

The prophets spoke of God reigning on the earth. His Messiah will rule the world from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Jesus promised to return. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, emphasis mine). This same Gospel writer was granted the great privilege of seeing things to come. “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God … And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God … And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:1, 11-13, 15-16, emphasis mine).

He will once again enter the gates of Jerusalem, this time on a white horse as a conquering king. “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). What an awesome sight to behold!

Lately, I have been hearing many modern prophets suggesting that this year, 2017, will be the year that Christ will return to rescue His people from “the wrath of God” that is to come upon the earth. Their reasoning, from a biblical standpoint, is sound. All the ones I listen to are quick to issue the disclaimer that they are not setting dates. Jesus clearly stated, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36); so I respect that note of caution by these prognosticators. However, I sense, because of what I observe happening all around the world, that what they are predicting may be true. For the Church, the return of Christ has always been imminent, but it is truer today than ever before in the history of the Church. The King is coming! Jesus is coming very soon. Personally, I am looking for and anxiously awaiting His return.

Reader, you will meet Jesus very soon. The best way to meet Him is to be one of His own. Very soon, Jesus will return for His Bride, the Church, the collective body of all who have placed their trust in Him. When that day comes, all the powers of hell will be unleashed upon the world. No place will escape or be immune. You will still have the opportunity to repent when that time comes, but you will suffer tremendously for it. Why not give your life to Jesus now and avoid the horrors that are to come. All you need to do is confess your sin and recognize your need for Him. Ask Him to save you. Invite Him into your heart. Give Him first place in your life; make Him the Lord (the “Boss”) of your life, and trust that He will keep His promise. The King is coming, but this time He will not be meek and lowly. Are you ready to meet Him?

Notes:


[1] Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, note on Zechariah 9:9.

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Are You Good Enough?

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Revelation 20:13)

What will become of you when you die? That is arguably the most profound and important question one can ponder, yet it is probably the least considered. Perhaps the reason lies in the fear of the unknown.

Everyone, except perhaps for the very young, has experienced the death of a loved one, and witnessed the lifeless hulk of a once warm and animated person displayed peacefully in an ornate and satin lined casket. All that remains is a well dressed and made up, cold, waxy, empty corpse. Viewers often comment on his or her appearance noting how “life-like” they look without giving a thought to the departed’s final destination much less their own. That is something we do not like to think about.

Many people carefully plan for retirement by building up their nest egg to ensure they can meet their financial needs when they stop working. Others think they cannot afford to set money aside for their old age, and presume they will figure something out when the time comes. However, both planners and non-planners give more thought to retirement than they do to life after death. If pressed on the question of what happens after death they might say they do not know, or they might view death as “the end.” Those who suggest that death is the end are in denial, and they are lying to themselves. “[God] hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set [eternity] in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, emphasis mine). Every person alive, whether they will admit it or not, knows that this life – the life experienced in this physical body – is not all there is. Because they fear the unknown, many would rather not think about it hoping to cross that bridge when they come to it.

Some who have pondered the question of life after death think heaven and hell might exist. They see hell as the destination for only the most evil of people, like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, mass murderers, child molesters, rapists, etc. Comparing themselves to these really evil people, they see themselves as prime candidates for heaven. When asked why God should allow them into heaven, they will provide a long list of their good deeds hoping that will suffice. However, if they compare their good deeds against the Ten Commandments, their shortcomings are soon exposed. With that realization, the hope then becomes that their good deeds will outweigh the bad.

John describes the scene in heaven at the end of time. He says:

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:11-14, emphasis mine).

It does seem that all who die will indeed be judged “according to their works” by “those things which were written in the books.” I envision a detailed ledger book for every person who has ever lived. That book contains every act, good and bad, ever committed by every individual. As with any court of law, the defendant’s actions are measured against an objective standard – the law. In this heavenly courtroom, known as the Great White Throne Judgment, one of the books by which every individual will be judged is the Law Book – the Bible. God’s Word is His perfect standard by which every person’s works will be measured – good and bad. There is only one big problem. Only a perfectly lived life gains entry into heaven. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

No one will be guiltless. “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). But wait! There is still hope! “Another book was opened, which is the book of life … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12, 15, emphasis mine). That means that if the defendant’s name is logged in the Book of Life, that individual will gain entry into heaven.

Reader, is your name written in the Book of Life? Do not think for one moment that your good acts will outweigh your bad. Many “good” people will end up in hell. Only perfection qualifies for entry into heaven, and according to the Bible, no one qualifies. There is only one way to have your name written in the Book of Life. “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31, emphasis mine). “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6, emphasis mine).

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Rosh HaShanah

feast-of-trumpets

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.  (Leviticus 23:24)

Today, October 3, 2016, is Rosh HaShanah, the first month and day of the Jewish civil year. It is the seventh month (Tishri) of the ecclesiastical year which begins on Nissan 1, sometime in early spring.

Rosh HaShanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets, and it is celebrated by the daily sounding of trumpets leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, ten days later. This year, that day begins on the evening of October 11, 2016.

Most Christians are unfamiliar with the Jewish feast days that are observed in keeping with the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. These are not your run-of-the-mill festivals. They were ordained by God and are collectively known as the “Feasts of the Lord;” therefore, they are solemn observations. The first four feasts occur in the spring beginning with Passover, and the last three take place in the fall ending with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (or “Booths”).

For the Christian, these feasts offer a picture of Christ. Jesus “fleshed out” the first four feasts at His first advent. Arguably, He has yet to fulfill the final three. Consider the following and how these feasts represent the ministry of Christ:

  1. Passover – Jesus is crucified as the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world.
  2. Unleavened Bread – Leaven represents sin. Jesus, with the sins of the world on Him, is removed from the “house” (Jerusalem) and buried outside the city walls in a tomb.
  3. First Fruits – This feast celebrated the “promise” of the coming harvest. It was observed by waving the first sprouts of the fields before the Lord. Jesus rose from the dead on this day with the promise of a great harvest to follow.
  4. Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) – Fifty days after First Fruits celebrated the barley harvest. Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after First Fruits, and 10 days later the Holy Spirit fell upon “the Church” – the disciples – and 3000 souls were saved that day (Acts 2:41) – truly a great “harvest.”
  5. Rosh HaShanah – The Feasts of Trumpets was a “Holy Convocation” and a gathering in of all of God’s people. Christians may see this as the “Rapture” where “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
  6. Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement was the day when the people of God repented of past sins and the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God to pour the blood of the sacrifice for the whole nation on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark contained the tablets of God’s Law that was violated, and the blood covered the infraction. Each Christian, being a “priest” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), now enters into the very presence of God offering the blood that was shed for them by Christ. Through His blood, our sins are covered, i.e. atoned for.
  7. Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles was a seven-day celebration remembering the time when God’s people were wandering in the wilderness dwelling in tents. Now they have come into the Promised Land and live in permanent dwellings. For the Christian, who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-16), this represents Christ’s reign on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords beginning with His millennial kingdom on earth and beyond into eternity.

I’ve said this before. Each year around time, I start looking up and listening for the trumpet to sound. Yes, I know that the Rapture can occur at any time, but to me it seems logical that it would be consistent with God’s calendar. Of course, God is not obligated to follow my line of reasoning. At any rate, this time of year causes me to pray ever more earnestly that God would call us home and fix this really messed up world once and for all.

However, at the same time, it causes me even greater concern because I know that those who are left behind will literally experience hell on earth for the next seven years, not to mention for eternity. I have two sons with their wives that are lost and hell bound. My youngest son has two daughters, my granddaughters, that by now have reached the age of accountability. My heart aches for them knowing what is ahead unless they repent and turn to Christ as their personal Savior. I have nieces and nephews and other relatives who are lost. I have friends and acquaintances who are doomed to an eternity in hell. That is not a pleasant thought. So, on the one hand I long to go and be with the Lord right now, but on the other hand, I am deeply concerned for those that will be left behind. The longer the Lord delays His return, the more time and opportunity they have to alter their course.

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. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:9-10, emphasis mine)

On the other hand, the longer He delays the more time for unbelievers to scoff: “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 3:4).

Even so, come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Shanah Tovah!

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If My People

solomons-temple

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Fear hangs like a dark, menacing storm cloud over our nation. Insecurity saps the courage of our people to venture into the unknown. Anger and hostility ignite flames of anarchy in our streets and everyone yearns for a savior. Our nation is deeply troubled. Anyone with any sense of awareness can see it. Many feel helpless to stem the tide, while many others tenaciously cling to the hope that the downward spiral can be arrested and reversed through a spiritual awakening and revival. The latter frequently quote, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine).

The passage quoted intends for “God’s people” to collectively storm the gates of heaven petitioning God on behalf of our wicked and sinful nation. The petition is conditional and incumbent upon “God’s people,” not the general populous, but who are God’s people and where are they?

Before I respond to that question, I need to restate what have emphasized in the past concerning this particular verse in Second Chronicles that is so often quoted. Regarding the United States of America, the verse is taken out of context and misapplied. The Second Chronicles begins with Solomon’s ascension to the throne of Israel and the building of the first temple in Jerusalem. At the completion of Temple, the priests placed the Ark of the Covenant in its place in the Holy of Holies (2 Chronicles 5:1-12) and “the glory of God” in the form of a cloud that filled the temple in such a way that the priests could not minister in the place (vv. 13-14). As the dedication service continued, Solomon prayed and asked God to “Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive” (2 Chronicles 6:21, emphasis mine). Solomon’s plea for God’s forgiveness goes beyond individual sins and extends to the sins of nation collectively.

And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance … If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chronicles 6:24-27, 38-39, emphasis mine)

Notice that Solomon’s request specifies God’s people (Israel), the Temple (this house), Jerusalem (the city), and the nation (their land). “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3, emphasis mine).

Obviously, God approved of the Temple and the offerings presented there. The dedication of the Temple took place in the midst of the Fall Feasts. Scripture tells us that it was “in the seventh month” (2 Chronicles 5:3). The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha Shanna) was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). Then on the tenth day of the month, they observed the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur – Leviticus 23:27). That was followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) fifteen days later (Leviticus 23:34), which was celebrated for seven days. Solomon dedicated the Temple on the eighth day (2 Chronicles 7:9), and the celebration lasted through the Day of Atonement for seven days. The dedication ended in time to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasted an additional seven days (1 Kings 8:65-66). “And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” (2 Chronicles 7:10).

It is in this context that God responds.

And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, emphasis mine)

As specific as Solomon’s prayer was, so was God’s response. Note that God is responding to Solomon’s prayer: “I have heard thy prayer.” Solomon’s prayer request focused on the Temple, Jerusalem, and the “nation” of Israel as noted above. In response, God says that He has “chosen this place to myself.” His people which are called by His name is the nation of Israel collectively. If they sin, which they did and which resulted in expatriation for the northern  kingdom and Babylonian captivity for Judah, and they humble themselves, repent and seek God, then He will heal their land. Note also that the prayer must either originate in that place or be directed toward that place. We see this exact scenario when Daniel recognizes that the 70-year captivity had been met (Daniel 9:1-19).

Christians these days have adopted 2 Chronicles 7:14 as their own and applied it to what is currently going on in the United States of America. They rightly claim we are “God’s people.” You will not arouse an argument from me on that point. The New Testament repeatedly teaches that we are the children of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). However, the claim ends right there. Where is God’s Temple right now? “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis mine). What borders mark the land of God’s people? Americans claim the United States. Are there no Christians in Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, etc.? What of all the Christians being martyred in the Middle East and Africa, are thy not God’s people, and do they not have the right to intercede on behalf of their land?  God’s “grafted in” people have no land here on earth. “For our conversation [i.e. citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

It seems somewhat hypocritical that many Christians today want to reject the Old Testament Law claiming that we are “under grace” – those things no longer apply – and yet will take this verse, completely out of context and force it apply to 21st Century America. Sorry, folks, it will not work. There is still a nation of Israel with whom God is dealing. To date, the majority of Israelis are secular. Many are agnostics or atheists. There exists a small minority of “completed Jews” in the land, but with laws against proselytizing, their numbers remain small. Israel exists to show God’s faithfulness to His promises, and in the end, those who survive the Great Tribulation that is coming, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10), and they will be saved.

So, what can the Christian get out of 2 Chronicles 7:14? Taken in context, we can rest in the assurance that God does hear the prayers of His people, and He does answer according to His will.

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Are We There Yet?

10800577 - second coming of jesus over a summer park

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.   (Revelation 22:12)

More than ever it seems that Christians are “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Given all that is taking place in the all over the world today, I am not surprised when I get questions like the following:

I was wondering if it is possible, according to the information we have in the Bible, to calculate how many years have elapsed since the very beginning of the world, so that we know approximately how close we are to the end of this present age of man’s self-rule of 6,000 years, and the return of Jesus Christ?

Also, are we the last generation, and how many years is a Biblical generation?

Generally speaking, the 6000 years people try to associate with Christ’s return is based more on inference and speculation rather than clear Bible teaching. The Bible does not teach that Jesus will return 6000 years after creation. Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13, emphasis mine).

God created in six 24-hour days, not in six 1000-year periods. The Apostle Peter says, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8, emphasis mine). Notice that Peter says “as a thousand years.” Grammatically, that phrase is a simile, i.e. comparing two different but “similar” things to each other. For example, a cat is “like” (or “as”) a dog. They are different animals, but they do have similarities: fur, four legs, a tail, etc. What Peter really says is that time makes no difference to God; He is ageless/timeless. God is not constrained by time.

Many who study eschatology (the study of end times) take what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:8 and associate it with the Creation Week, i.e. one day of creation compares to 1000 years of history. They infer that God has determined 7000 years to complete history: 6000 years of “work” plus 1000 years of “rest” during the millennial reign of Christ. That is a logical assumption, and it makes sense; however, it takes a lot of liberty with Scripture to make that jump. That said, I personally agree with that view, but we should not be dogmatic about it. We certainly should not try to predict the return of Christ based on such skimpy evidence. Remember what Jesus said, “ye know neither the day nor the hour.”

The problem with trying to determine when we arrive at the 6000-year mark is that we have lost track of time. God has not lost track of time, but man has. From Scripture, we can measure time from Creation fairly accurately. However, following Israel’s entry into Egypt, the biblical chronology becomes a little hazy. Reconciling biblical chronology with our modern chronology becomes pretty much a guessing game, especially when secular historians attempt to justify 100,000 years of human history based on evolutionary thinking.

According to Chinese chronology, 2016 is the Chinese year 4713. When we consider the biblical chronology given in Genesis 5, the Flood took place around 1656 years after Creation. If we take that time and add the Chinese account of 4713 years, we come up with 6369 years. If we expect Jesus to return 6000 years after Creation, He is 369 years late by that account, either that or Chinese civilization started some 300 years before the Flood, which makes no sense considering that all of earth’s population was destroyed except for the eight on the Ark. It is interesting to note that the Chinese account places the beginning of their history near the time of the Tower of Babel – 100-150 years after the Flood.[1]

For the Jews, 2016 is year 5776. (It will be 5777 this coming September.)  Supposedly, the Jewish calendar begins at Creation. If we expect Jesus to return 6000 years after Creation, we have to wait another 224 years.

I hope you can see why trying to determine Christ’s return by calculating the number of years from Creation is a fruitless endeavor. I believe He will return exactly 6000 years from Creation, but we do not know exactly when Creation took place. We can say it has been “about” 6000 years, but we cannot tell with certainty. However, we can trust that God knows exactly how much time has passed, and Jesus will return precisely when that time is accomplished.

Rather than counting days and years, Jesus said to “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42). It has been “about” 6000 years since Creation, and it is about time for history to take a shâbath (rest). God gave us some signs to watch for. Israel is back in the land, and we are the generation[2] that witnessed it happen (Matthew 24:32-34). Wars and rumors of wars abound around the nation of Israel (Matthew 24:6). There is rampant persecution of Christians in the world, particularly in the Middle East and in all Muslim nations. The world is on the verge of economic collapse. World leaders cry out for a one-world government. Wickedness increases rapidly (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The “signs,” rather than chronology, tell us that the Lord’s return is very near. So, look up! We are almost there!

Notes:


[1] Genesis 10:25 informs us that the earth was “divided” in the days of Peleg. Some think this refers to the dividing of the continents, but the dividing of the continents more likely resulted from the catastrophic Global Flood. The division of Peleg’s day makes better sense if understood as the division of languages, and, by implication, nations described in Genesis 11:1-9. Peleg was born to Eber about 100 years after the Flood (Genesis 11:16). His son, Reu was born 30 years later (Genesis 11:18). Peleg lived a total of 239 years (Genesis 11:19) – 209 years after the birth of Reu. The division of “people groups” could have happened anytime within his lifespan; 100-150 years for the Tower of Babel seems like a reasonable timeframe.

[2]  Determining the length of a generation is irrelevant at this point; anyone living now is part of “that generation.” Generally speaking, a generation is from father to son. From Adam to Seth was 130 years (Genesis 5:3); from Abraham to Isaac was 100 years (Genesis 21:5). Some of the O.T. kings begat sons in their twenties; so, a generation can be anywhere from 20 to perhaps 140 years.  The nation of Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948. That was almost 70 years ago. Surely, anyone born since that time is in that generation that will see the Lord’s return.

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Alpha And Omega

Alpha Omega Bible

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.  (Revelation 1:8)

These words recorded by the Apostle John, the one “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20), introduce the One who would “reveal” the details of the final events of world history. At this time, John was an old man probably in his nineties, exiled on the island of Patmos “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9). It was Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” and John was “in the Spirit” (Revelation 1:10).  John does not say, but I imagine that he was reading and meditating on Daniel’s prophecy and praying. John earned the nickname “Camel Knees” (so I am told) for the calluses he developed from hours on his knees in prayer. While in that posture, “a great voice, as of a trumpet” interrupted his meditation, and the resurrected Lord introduced Himself as “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Revelation 1:10-11).

John recognized Him, although he had never seen Him like this before – “clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:13-15). John, in the company of Peter and James, witnessed Jesus transfigured on the mountain (Luke 9:28-36) in the days of Jesus’ short ministry on earth. That experience left the disciples awestruck, but it was nothing compared to this appearance.

Alpha, the first letter in the Greek alphabet, represents the beginning of the Word. In his Gospel, John wrote, “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 Word of God, the Holy Bible, opens with the same phrase: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine). God, the “uni-plural” Elohim, created the universe – all things – through His spoken Word: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:3-4, emphasis mine). John says, “In him [the Word] was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4-5, emphasis mine).

The Alpha of the Bible goes on to describe the six-day creation acts of God. On the sixth day, the Elohim created all the land-dwelling animals, and at last, He created man. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27, emphasis mine). The switch between the plural (us/our) and the singular (his/he) provides the first insight (in English) to the triune nature of God, which is developed later in Scripture. However, in the original language of Hebrew, that insight appears in the very first verse. God (Elohim) is the plural form of the noun for god (el); however, the verb “created” (bara) appears in the singular form, which under other circumstances would be a grammatical booboo in Hebrew.

So, God creates man in His own image, which among other things, implies that man too is triune in nature. One aspect of that triune nature involves the physical form that animates and transports “the soul” of man. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine). What physical shape would reflect “the image of God”? The Hebrew word translated “formed,” yâtsar, describes the work of a potter molding and shaping a lump of clay into a useful vessel. The Word, by whom “all things were made,” molded and shaped the kind of body He would one day inhabit. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, emphasis mine).

God took His image bearer “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Genesis 2:8). There God provided for man’s every need. The Garden of Eden provided an abundance of food and water (Genesis 2:9-10) with a perfect climate (Genesis 2:5-6). Best of all, sickness and death did not exist. God gave His stamp of approval on His perfect creation. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31, emphasis mine). Death could not exist in a “very good” creation because the Bible says that death is “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

God and His image enjoyed intimate fellowship as God walked “in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). However, love coerced is not love. Love must be a willful choice, and God allowed for the choice. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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 [dying] thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17, emphasis mine). Death did not exist in the Garden of Eden, but the potential did exist. Man had the choice, and man made the wrong choice. “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). Man made the choice, and death entered God’s perfect creation.

The remainder of the Bible tells the story of God’s work in restoring fellowship with His fallen and dying creation. Only the blood of a perfect and innocent victim could make amends or reparation for the perpetual infraction. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11, emphasis mine). The blood of animals fell short of the requirement because it was man, not animals, that sinned. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The atoning blood-sacrifice must be that of a perfect, innocent man; nothing less would do. However, no man fit the bill, for “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). No human solution could be found. Therefore, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, emphasis mine). “But [the Word] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8, emphasis mine). “But this man [the Word], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12, emphasis mine). The debt is paid in full, and God offers the pardon as a gift to whoever will accept it. A choice must still be made – accept the gift or reject it. Love is not coerced.

Omega is the final letter in the Greek alphabet. Just as Alpha opens the book with God’s perfect image bearers in the pristine Garden of Eden, Omega closes the final book in a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1) – Eden restored. There, the fellowship between Creator and creature is renewed (Revelation 21:3). Death and the grave no longer exist (Revelation 20:14), neither do tears, sorrow or pain (Revelation 21:4). The Tree of Life is there (Revelation 22:2), but not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The residents of the new heaven and new earth chose God’s free pardon during their time on earth. They chose to love God of their own volition; therefore there is no longer any curse, nor the option to choose evil (Revelation 22:3), “and they shall see His face” (Revelation 22 4) – the One who started it all. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13).

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