Tag Archives: Israel

Now’s A Good Time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel is often likened to a fig tree. “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved” (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine). The prophet Zechariah in describing the Millennial Kingdom ruled by the BRANCH said, “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zechariah 3:10, emphasis mine). I believe this is speaking figuratively of Israel. Jesus said, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:32-34, emphasis mine). The fig tree put forth its leaves almost 70 years ago – a biblical number for completion. “That generation” that saw it come to pass is almost gone. Now’s a good time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:


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

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

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

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

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

[6]  Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming Soon!

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.  (1 Peter 4:7)

I have been looking for the return of Christ from the time I read Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth back in 1971. Since that time, and through further studies into the “Feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23),[1] I have concluded that Jesus will probably return at the Feast of Trumpets, in early fall, around late September or early October. For the last 20 years or so, I have looked forward with anticipation to the coming of Rosh Hashanah in hopes that Jesus will appear to take us home. Obviously, I am disappointed every year, but my hope remains strong. I know Jesus will return as He said, “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 14:3).

It surprises me (although it shouldn’t) that many, including “Christians,” do not share the same hope, or at least do not seem as enthusiastic about it as I am. Many Christians that I know, although they say they wish Jesus would return soon, conduct their lives as if that hope is just a fanciful dream that lies ahead in some nebulous future. Consequently, their conversations center around the things that currently most occupy their minds – the status of their favorite sports team, the latest movie, what goes on in government or in the news, the antics of their children, grandchildren or their dogs, etc. Rarely do I find a brother who wants to have a conversation about what is going on in the world and how that fits into End-Times prophecy. The Apostle Peter said that such times would come: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, emphasis mine).

To be fair, my Christian brothers (those that I know) are not “scoffers,” per se. Scoffers are typically not Christians, but among the “Evangelical” ranks there is a growing number of scoffers that have stopped “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, emphasis mine).

Four times in the Apocalypses our Lord affirms, “I come quickly” (Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20). He repeats phrase three times at the closing of the prophecy with the added affirmation, “Surely” on His final reprise. Jesus is coming soon – very soon!

This year, 2017, looks like a very good candidate for this event. I realize that a variety of views exist concerning the Second Coming of Christ. I have written on this topic on numerous occasions,[2] so I will not spend time reviewing all the different views here. I will present this argument from a pre-millennial, pre-Tribulation Rapture perspective. Basically, that means that I believe in the literal reign of Christ on earth for 1000 years after His return (Revelation 20). I understand Christ’s return to be in two phases: (1) He comes for His Bride (the Church) before the beginning of the Tribulation, and (2) He returns with His Bride at the end of the 7-year Tribulation to reign on earth for 1000 years.

In discussing End-Times prophecy, the nation of Israel is the key. All end-times prophecy focuses on Israel. When the scoffers say, “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), their assessment is valid except for the “Israel factor.” Before 1948, End-Times prophecy made no sense, because things indeed continued, “as they were from the beginning.” When one studies End-Times prophecy in the Old Testament, Israel plays a prominent role; therefore, without Israel, those prophecies cannot be fulfilled. That all changed on May 14, 1948, when Israel once again became a sovereign nation. Those of us with “eyes to see” current cosmic and world conditions observe End-Times prophecy taking place before our very eyes. Obviously, those with no “eyes to see” miss it, and they carry on “as in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37-39).

So, what makes me think 2017 is the year? Well, this is a complicated study, but I will try to keep it simple. First, and most importantly, the Jews are back in their Promised Land, and Israel. This fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy of the “dry bones” (Ezekiel 37).

Second, God established a system of Jubilee years where every 50 years, all property reverted to the original owner, and all debts were canceled (Leviticus 25). This law was given around 1433 B.C. and 2017 will complete the 70th Jubilee since the law was given. Seven and 70 are significant numbers in the Bible that denote completion. God completed His creation in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-3). Israel failed in keeping the Sabbath Years (allowing the land to lay fallow and rest from production) for 490 years; therefore God sent them captive to Babylon for 70 years (2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:2) – one year for every Sabbath Year they failed to keep (7 x 70 = 490).

Third, in 1917, the Belfour Declaration (the 68th Jubilee) returned the Promised Land to the Jews. On May 14, 1948, the United States and the United Nations recognized Israel as a sovereign nation. Not long after that, Israel ceded control of Jerusalem and the West Bank to Jordan “for peace.”  Then in 1967 (the 69th Jubilee – 1917+50 = 1967), the Arab nations (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq) surrounded and attacked Israel. In what can only be called “Divine intervention,” Israel repelled all her enemies, conquered the Sinai Peninsula, and regained Jerusalem and the West Bank. They gave back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt “for peace.” Even though Israel regained control of Jerusalem (their “eternal” capital), they gave control of the Temple Mount to the Palestinians “for peace.” (Lesson: Land for peace is a failed policy.) Considering God’s faithfulness, it is possible that this year, 2017 (the 70th Jubilee), control of the Temple Mount could return to Israel where they will rebuild their Temple. The plans are in the works. The Temple implements and furnishings are ready. The priests have been identified and the high priest has been selected. They have the right kind of sheep for the sacrifices, and they even have red heifers for the Temple dedication. Rumor has it that President Donald Trump has someone in mind to negotiate “permanent peace” with Israel and her Arab neighbors. Could this be the peace that will allow Israel to build her Temple? Could this peacemaker be the “prince” (aka, the Antichrist) spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Daniel 9:26-27)?  The year 2017 is prime for such an event.

Fourth, Revelation 12:1-6 speaks of a “sign” – “a great wonder” – in heaven. Genesis 1:14 says that God created the “lights in the firmament” to “be for signs, and for seasons.” The Hebrew word translated as “signs” is ‘ôth, and it means “a signal, flag, beacon, or omen.” In the “Unveiling,” John describes “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (v. 1). The woman is pregnant and gives birth to “a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (v. 5). When the child is born, he is “caught up” to heaven to save him from the “dragon” that is waiting to “devour” him (v. 4).

In the past, scholars understood this passage as either the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus or Jesus coming forth from Israel. The latter makes more sense from an End-Times prophecy perspective, and I have always understood it this way. However, recently some amateur astronomers made an amazing discovery in the heavens. On September 23/24, 2017, the constellation Virgo will appear[3] “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” The constellation Leo, which precedes Virgo in the Zodiac, will be at Virgo’s head with a conjunction of three planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) next to it. Leo has nine stars in its constellation and the three planets will make a crown of “twelve stars.” According to these astronomers, this unique phenomenon, which can only be observed from the area around Israel, only occurs once in 7000 years.[4] Furthermore (again this is as viewed from Israel), Jupiter, the King Planet, entered the Virgo’s “womb” around mid-December 2016 and has remained there in retrograde motion all this time. It will exit from between Virgo’s feet (as in childbirth) on September 23, 2017, 40 weeks after it entered, the normal time for human gestation. Some suggest that the “birth” of the King planet represents the Rapture of the Church, not the birth of Christ. Since the Church is the “body” (and Bride) of Christ, and since the male child is “caught up” (v. 5) to heaven (Greek: harpazō, i.e. “raptured”), they conclude that the Rapture of the Church is represented here. Prophecy often carries more than one application; therefore, this idea has merit.  I find that fascinating!

Let me respond to the obvious objections. First of all, God forbids the practice of astrology – the practice of foretelling the future and guiding our lives by the Zodiac. Furthermore, the ancients worshiped the stars; they saw their gods in the stars, i.e., in the Zodiac. However, God placing an alert sign in the heaven is consistent with what God has done in the past. Remember, God placed a special star in the heavens that alerted the Magi to the birth of the Savior (Matthew 2:1-2). Some have studied the Zodiac and determined that God placed the entire Gospel message in the stars.[5], [6] This is not such a farfetched idea when we consider that everything God does, Satan attempts to pervert. With that in mind, it is certainly plausible that God arranged this “Revelation 12 Sign” to mark the time for the beginning of the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ.

Another objection comes from Jesus’ own words.  “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, what many do not know is that the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah, is the feast that “no man knows the day or the hour.”  Two days are reserved for Rosh Hashanah because the sighting of the New Moon marks the beginning of the feast. They know “about” when the New Moon will appear, but they do not know the exact day or hour. When the New Moon is sighted and verified, the feast can begin. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).  Without being dogmatic or setting a date, September 23, 2017, seems like a good candidate for the Rapture event. If it does not take place, I will be disappointed, but not disheartened.

Other recent “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars” (Luke 21:25) include the Tetrad of Blood Moons that fell on feast days in the spring and fall of 2015 and 2016. Those have been seen as ominous harbingers of things to come. Additionally, the United States will experience the first total solar eclipse in 26 years on August 21, 2017. While lunar eclipses are harbingers for Israel, solar eclipses are considered harbingers for the Gentile nations. That this eclipse transits the continental United States from coast to coast (along with other factors) has many seeing dark days ahead for America.

Finally, the world is in a mess. The tinderbox of the Middle East could erupt at any moment, and the enemies that surround Israel are poised for any excuse to wipe her off the map. The nations of the world clamor for a one-world order. Even in the United States, many would willingly relinquish our sovereignty to the UN. Economies worldwide are failing. Some prophets of doom predict that the US economy will collapse this summer. If that happens, the effect will impact the entire world. Violence in Europe, the Middle East, Venezuela, and our own nation continues to escalate. For those who place their hope in the things of this world, the prospect is terrifying, but for me and others who place their hope in Christ, the future could not look any brighter.

Reader, if you fear the future, I invite you to turn to Jesus and place your trust and hope in Him. He is coming soon!

For more information on End-Times Prophecy, here are a few sites that I recommend:

Olive Tree Ministries: http://www.olivetreeviews.org/

Discovery Missions: https://garyfrazier.com/

Prophecy Watchers: https://prophecywatchers.com/

Terry James Prophecy Line: https://terryjamesprophecyline.com/

Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/

Prophecy in the News: https://prophecyinthenews.com/

Notes:


[1]  I discuss the seven Feasts of the Lord in my article “Rosh HaShanah” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[2]  My writings on the Second Coming: https://erniecarrasco.com/category/second-coming-of-christ/

[3]  “Appear” is a relative term because this particular conjunction of stars and planets will be obscured because Virgo will be “clothed” with the sun.

[4]  For a young-earth/universe creationist and biblical dispensationalist, this means that this event has never happened before making its appearance so much more significant.

[5]  “Is There a Gospel in the Stars?” http://www.setterfield.org/stargospel.html

[6]  Joseph A. Seiss, The Gospel in the Stars, available at most book outlets.

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

Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (1)

john3_1_jesusandnicodemus

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.(John 3:3)

                   This passage, recorded in John 3:1-21, is the first of seven discourses spoken by Jesus and recorded by John. Certainly Jesus preached many more sermons than the seven recorded by John, but these seven, as least for John, uniquely demonstrated the deity of Jesus. Indeed, John records, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31, emphasis mine).

                   The passage opens with the introduction to the audience – one man, Nicodemus, “a man of the Pharisees … a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1). His name means “conqueror of the people”[1] or “victorious among his people.”[2] Given the strength of his name, it seems strange that “The same came to Jesus by night” (John 3:2). At a glance, it seems as though Nicodemus came by stealth to avoid detection by those more adamantly opposed to Jesus, but that is not the case. “The Pharisee may have chosen this time in order to be sure of an uninterrupted and leisurely interview. During the day, Jesus would be busy and there would be crowds (crowds of common people!). Not so at night. Then there could be a long, private discussion.”[3]

                   At this point in his Gospel, John had not detailed many of Jesus’ miracles or any of His teachings. Certainly, turning water into wine (John 2:1-12) rates highly as the first of His seven signs. From there, Jesus celebrated the first Passover of His ministry by turning over the tables of the moneychangers at the Temple (John 2:13-22). His action drew fire from the “Jews” who challenged Him: “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” (John 2:18). Apparently, Jesus made Himself known during this time, although John provides little detail. “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did” (John 2:23).

                   So, it seems that Nicodemus had at least heard of Jesus. Perhaps he witnessed the miracles of Jesus, and heard Him teach. Now he comes to Jesus by night for a private meeting. “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2). Nicodemus addresses Jesus with the sincere title of respect. “Rabbi” acknowledged Jesus as “Master,” that is to say, “Master Teacher.” What little he knew of Jesus instructed him that He was more than an ordinary man. Jesus, he concluded, came “from God” because “no man can do these miracles … except God be with him.”

                   Nicodemus assessed correctly, but Jesus was not interested confirming what He knew to be fact. Nicodemus was not unlike the other “Jews” in many respects. “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25, emphasis mine). Instead, He went right to the heart of the matter. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, emphasis mine). “Again” is a poor translation of the Greek anōthen, which means “from above.” Being “born from above” is in keeping with what John penned in the prologue to his Gospel. “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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13, emphasis mine). Nicodemus clearly understood the term “born,” genneithei, in the normal sense of procreation (John 3:4), but he missed the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ message.

                   To clear up the confusion, Jesus affirms John’s statement in the opening chapter. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). Jesus prefaces His statement with “verily, verily,” i.e. “truly, truly.” Coming from God incarnate, this makes the statement immutable – it is unchangeable. Rebirth is not a matter of external changes, but rather it is a transformation from within, and accomplished “from above” through the saturation of the Holy Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). We are all born of flesh. That is by design. The spirit of man died at the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), and thus we are excluded from “the kingdom of God.” Only the rebirth of our spirit can fit us for heaven.

                   The “teacher of Israel” failed to grasp the lesson the Master taught. This called for further instruction. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:11-12, emphasis mine). Jesus addresses Nicodemus (thee). “We speak that we do know.” Some commentators suggest that Jesus refers to Himself and His disciples. However, at this point in His ministry, His disciples were novices; there was little that they “did know.” Indeed, His disciples did not receive “full knowledge” until after His resurrection, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Therefore, I believe the “we” Jesus refers to is the Trinity. I conclude that from His statement in the next verse: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). He, the Son of Man, has direct knowledge “from heaven,” from the Creator Himself (John 1:1-3). When Jesus said, “ye receive not our witness,” the “ye” in the KJV indicates that the Greek, second person personal pronoun is plural. Jesus did not single out Nicodemus; He referred to all the “Jews,” i.e., the religious establishment to whom Jesus later referred to as “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16, 24).

                   The rebirth is simple; Jesus explained. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Jesus referred to Jewish history recorded in Scripture, the Torah to be precise. Numbers 21:4-9 records the time when the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness complained against God and Moses for the free food God provided daily. “And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6). The Hebrew word translated as “fiery” is śârâph, which means, “burning.” The same Hebrew word (seraphim) is applied to the angelic creatures witnessed by Isaiah in his vision of God on His throne (Isaiah 6:2, 6). In the case of the Hebrew Children, it referred to the burning bite inflicted by the venomous snakes. It may also imply the copper color of the serpents. We derive this from the instructions given to Moses. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Numbers 21:8-9, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated as “brass” is nechôsheth, which means “copper.”

                   The act of looking upon the bronze snake on the pole when bitten included recognition of the sin that brought about the snake bite, and the faith to believe that simply looking upon the likeness of the serpent on the pole would result in healing and preservation of life. In the same way, Jesus compared the simplicity of the rebirth. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15, emphasis mine). Once again, this reaffirms John’s assertion, “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, emphasis mine).

                   If one has a red-letter edition Bible, verses 16-21 are attributed to Jesus. However, man, not God, inspires red letters. While many Bible scholars agree that Jesus spoke these words, to me this seems that John added his commentary to expand on what Jesus said. It seems redundant that Jesus would say, “That whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life (v. 15), and then repeat “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (v. 16) in the next sentence. Regardless, the Holy Spirit, inspired these words through John’s pen, so they remain God’s Word whether they were spoken directly by Jesus, or whether John, through the Holy Spirit, expounded on Jesus’ words.

                   The teaching is clear. “That old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” (Revelation 12:9) inflicted a deadly bite on mankind in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) from which there is no cure.  “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Death is antithetical to God who is life (John 1:4; 14:6). Simultaneously, God is holy and cannot tolerate sin. Yet, He loves His creation too much to allow it to “perish,” i.e., die, with no hope for reconciliation.  So, “He gave.” His gift stemmed not from man’s merit, but from His love. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis mine). “He gave His only begotten Son.” The burden of sin was too great for any man to bear, so God Himself took on the insurmountable debt of man’s sin. “And the Word [who was God] 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). God became man so “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Greek word translated “perish” is apótai meaning “to destroy fully.”  The verb is in the aorist tense indicating that it occurred in the past and its effects continue into the present. It is in the middle voice indicating that the subject is acting on itself, and it is in the subjunctive mood meaning that the action is contingent, probable and eventual. That all means that man in the past brought eventual death and destruction upon himself contingent on what he does with the gift God offers.

                   As in the beginning, it comes down to two choices: the tree of life or the tree of death, aka the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For the children of Israel in the wilderness it was to look upon the bronze serpent and live, or doubt and die. We all have the curse of death upon us. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We also have a choice. “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The other choice is unbelief. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, emphasis mine). We are “condemned already” because, to begin with, we are all born of the flesh, but not of the Spirit. Then, we are “condemned already” when we reject the gift of salvation God freely offers.

                   “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).  The condemnation was accomplished at the Fall. God’s solution was to take on human flesh to pay the “wages of sin.”  He paid the debt with His own innocent blood. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats … sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14, emphasis mine). He did all the work. The choice to believe  or not believe is ours.

                   Nicodemus took Jesus’ words to heart. In the end, he came to His defense. At the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews wanted to arrest Jesus, Nicodemus spoke up for him. “Nicodemus saith unto them, … Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (John 7:50-51). After they crucified Him, Nicodemus accompanied Joseph of Arimathaea in the burial of Jesus, without regard to his Pharisaical reputation (John 19:38-40). He made the choice to believe. We have the same choice.

Notes:


[1]  Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenbert, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, (Tel Aviv, Israel, Jewish Studies for Christians, 2015), 32-33.

[2]  Definition from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.

[3]  Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel According to John, Revised, (Grand Rapids, MI, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 187.

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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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When I Disappear

Rapture 123RF

Image Credit: Benjamin Haas, http://www.123rf.com

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

As I study God’s Word concerning the “Last Days,” and I observe everything taking place around the world, I am more convinced than ever that the return of Christ is imminent. Every day that I wake up, I realize that I am one day closer to His return; whether I meet Him in death or I meet Him in the air, I know I will see Him soon. While this is great news for me, my heart breaks to know that many of my loved ones, and particularly my two sons and their families, will suffer seven years of global calamity such as the world has never known at best, or they will spend eternity in hell[1] at worst. I know that the distasteful topic of hell offends many, but since Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven, serious consideration needs to be given the topic. I want to know that all those whom I love are written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life”[2] (Revelation 20:12), and that they will go with me when I disappear rather than wait for a second chance.

If you are not with me when I disappear, you need to look for certain “signs” to take place in the world. Keep your eye on the Middle East, particularly on the nation of Israel. The cauldron is boiling there. Tensions continue to escalate. The Islamic State (aka ISIS, aka ISIL) continues to acquire territory in Iraq and Syria. As I write this, the United States started airstrikes against ISIS targets which will only serve to strengthen the resolve of the radical Islamists. Meanwhile, Iran moves ahead with its intent to develop nuclear weapon capabilities aided by an emboldened Russia who fearlessly taunts the US with practice bombing runs approaching our airspace.[3] China feverishly works on developing ICBM delivery systems from their submarines.[4] At the same time, Israel fends off non-stop rocket barrages from HAMAS in the Gaza Strip. The world is in turmoil crying, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). Of these times God addresses Russia and those nations with whom it is allied:

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth … Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them … Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. (Ezekiel 38:3-9, emphasis mine).

Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. (Ezekiel 38:14-16, emphasis mine)

The names of the nations mentioned above may be unfamiliar to you, but without going into a great deal of detail, Gog is Russia and the others are basically all the current Islamic nations surrounding Israel. God is in control of this and He will draw them in to attack Israel, but His ultimate goal is to show the “heathen” who God is. My guess is that it will not go well for them. In any case, things seem to be moving in that direction.

I may or may not be around to witness this event. Whether I disappear before this or just after, there will be millions of Christians that will disappear along with me from all over the world. This will have devastating effects on the global economy, especially here in the US where most of the world Christian population resides. Since most Christians have conservative values, they work and contribute to GNP of the US, and they pay most of the taxes. Consequently, that loss of “producers” will cripple the US economy, which is already teetering from unsustainable debt, and that will create a domino effect throughout the world. With the world reeling from war and economic chaos, fear, hitherto unknown, will grip the hearts of people, and they will cry out for someone to take charge and restore sanity to an upside down world. At that time a little known political leader will emerge to reinstate order. “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). “One week” is seven years. This “One-World” leader will finally bring peace to the Middle East. Israel will finally have peace with its Muslim neighbors. This new world leader will also calm the hearts of the people who are wondering about all the disappearances. He will remind the people that all those who disappeared were all those intolerant Christians who were obstacles to world peace and harmony. He may suggest that all these were taken away by our alien[5] friends who wish to teach us a better way to live, or some such cockamamie story that will be well received by the masses.

When I disappear, that great world leader will restore peace to a chaotic world. In order to restore economic stability to the world, he will set up an economic system that eliminates the need for currency.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 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 13:16-18, emphasis mine)

Current thought from those who study end-time prophecy suggests that “the mark”[6] could be a barcode tattoo or perhaps an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) chip containing all of your personal information (SSN, bank accounts, address, and possibly your current location) that can be easily implanted under the skin in the hand or forehead.[7] I strongly encourage you not to take the mark even though not doing so will cause severe financial difficulty for you because:

If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:9-11, emphasis mine)

In other words, if you accept the mark, you automatically condemn yourself to an eternity in hell. (I know. You don’t like to think or talk about hell, but there it is!)

When I disappear, the One-World leader will restore peace to the world, but only for a short season. This will be the beginning of the Great Tribulation described in Revelation 6-19. When I disappear, if you are not with me, you will need to study these passages closely to prepare for what comes next. It won’t be pretty, but if you are wise, this may be that last chance you have to “call upon the name of the Lord [and] be saved” (Romans 10:13). I write this because I love you and I do not want you suffer the horrors that await those who continue to reject Christ or who foolishly afford Him little importance. I want to scare the “hell” out of you, but only so you can be with me when I disappear. Don’t wait to see if the things I say come true (they will); it may be too late by then. Read my article “You Don’t Go to Hell Because You’re a Sinner.” Come with me when I disappear!

NOTES:


 

[1]You Don’t Go to Hell Because You’re A Sinner

[2]The Book of Life

[3] http://rt.com/usa/186084-russian-bombers-labrador-gertz/

[4] http://www.inquisitr.com/1488574/china-and-russias-nuclear-submarines-capable-of-striking-american-bases-says-u-s-navy/

[5] https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/06/16/aliens/

[6] https://www.raptureready.com/abc/666.html

[7] http://www.raptureready.com/nm/132.html

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The Exceptions

Fallen Angels

“… and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world …” (Revelation 17:8)

In my last post, “The Book of Life” I talked about the Book of Life that will be opened at the Great White Throne Judgment. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life is sentenced to an eternity in hell. I also expressed my understanding that everyone who has ever been born has their names written in the Book of Life initially, but whether they remain there depends on how they respond to God’s offer of salvation.

I said this was true with some exceptions, but I did not want to go into the details at that time. The reason I did not elaborate on the “exceptions” is because it might sound a little strange or even weird to some people, and trying to explain it in one or two paragraphs would be next to impossible. In fact, books have been written on the subject, so it would be difficult to explain in just a few words.

Just by way of disclaimer: what I am suggesting in the following paragraphs should not be taken as “gospel.” These are simply my thoughts based on studies that I have done, and are not meant to represent any kind of ecclesiastical dogma. There are many things in God’s Word that are not made clear to us, and to attempt to build a case on a shaky foundation is simply foolish. So, I recommend a healthy dose of skepticism before continuing. You may think I am full of bologna, and that is fine. This is something I “think” is true, but I wouldn’t bet my next paycheck on it. So, read on.

You remember in Genesis 3 that Satan came to Eve in the form of a serpent and tempted her to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She then shared the fruit with Adam who also ate of the fruit so that both sinned by disobeying God’s only commandment – that they should not to eat of that tree. God punished them, as He had warned them, by causing them to die in two ways: (1) they would no longer live forever (when God created man, He intended them to live forever), and (2) they were separated from their Creator. This is what we know as original sin, and all generations since Adam and Eve have inherited original sin. We all have a “sin nature.” That is why the Bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, emphasis added). God also cursed the ground from which man was taken so that all of God’s creation suffers because of man’s sin. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22, emphasis added). Adam’s punishment was that work would be hard for him, and Eve’s punishment was that she would have pain in bearing children.

Following that (about 1600 years later), we are told that violence increased in the world. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6). That was bad enough, but the first verses of Genesis 6 talks about something that is very strange, and has puzzled biblical scholars for ages . It says:

1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose …
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-2, 4, emphasis added)
 

The “sons of God” in the Hebrew is bene elohim. This term always refers to angels in the Old Testament. (See Job 1:6; Job 2:1; and Job 38:7.) There are two kinds of angels: Satan’s angels (demons) and God’s angels. (Something to keep in mind is that even the devil is God’s devil. God created him, and he rebelled against God. But the devil (Satan) cannot do anything without God’s permission. This is demonstrated in the first three chapters of Job.) So, these demons “mated” with human females to create a mighty race of men. Now, angels cannot procreate directly, so what probably happened is that these demons possessed human males in order to mate with the human females. This somehow altered the DNA of the children born from these demonic unions so that they created “giants.” The Hebrew word used for “giants” is nephalim, and it literally means “fallen ones.”

Imagine just how bad things got that God felt He had to destroy them all. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8) and “Noah was a just man and perfect in all his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9, emphasis added). The phrase that Noah was “perfect in all his generations” does not mean that he was sinless. Remember, “all have sinned.” What this means, then, is that his blood line was not contaminated by the satanic unions of the others.

When I say that there are “some exceptions,” this is to what I’m referring. Revelation 17 discusses the apostate church during the Tribulation who the Antichrist will eventually destroy. About those who follow that apostate church it says, “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Revelation 17:8, emphasis added). It is very clear that these were never written in the Book of Life – “from the foundation of the world.” It is as if these were never meant to be born.

One would think that the Global Flood should have taken care of all of the “bad seed.” Well, perhaps not all of them. As we continue the narrative in Genesis 6, God sent the Flood that covered the entire earth for almost a whole year. The Bible tells us that Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives were in the Ark for 371 days, before the earth was once again livable.

Then follows an incident where Noah got drunk, and his son Ham saw him naked (Genesis 9:20-29). Ham, instead of covering his father went and told his brothers, Japheth and Shem. So they went into Noah’s tent backward so as not to see the nakedness of their father and they covered him up. When Noah awoke from his drunk and discovered what Ham had done, he cursed Canaan, Ham’s youngest son. So the question is, why did Noah curse Canaan and not Ham or Ham’s other sons? The answer may be that Ham’s wife may have carried some of the “bad seed” of the Nephalim in her, and it showed up in Canaan. One of the characteristics of Nephalim is that they had six fingers. (Goliath’s father had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot (2 Samuel 21:20).) Canaan was probably born with six fingers and when Noah saw it, he cursed him. So, some of these probably still exist in our world today with or without six fingers, but God knows who they are. These would not qualify to be written in the Book of Life.

Canaan’s descendants settled in the “Land of Canaan” which was given to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 13:14-18; 15:18-21). Genesis 10:15-20 describes who these people were and where they settled. “And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha” (Genesis 10:19). These are the people that the children of Israel had to face when they entered the Promise Land. As they prepared to enter into the land, 12 spies were sent in to spy out the land and report back what they encountered. The book of Numbers records the bad report returned by 10 out of the 12 spies. “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33). Again, here the Hebrew word for “giants” is nephalim – the “fallen ones.” In The Henry Morris Study Bible, Dr. Morris makes this note about this verse:

There were also other tribes of giants in the land. “That was also accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims” [i.e., sons of Anak] (Deuteronomy 2:20, 21). Here, and in a number of other passages, the word for “giants” is Rephaim, evidently a tribe descended from the “Rephaims” associated with the “Zuzims” and the “Emims” of Genesis 14:5. The Emims also were called “a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims” (Deuteronomy 2:10).

All of these references indicate that there had been another irruption of the fallen “sons of God” just as in the days before the Flood. This time the irruption was probably in connection with the events surrounding the rebellion at Babel and the subsequent worldwide dispersion of the occult religious system introduced there. These demon-possessed men and women became the progenitors of tribes characterized by giantism, just as in the antediluvian days. (http://www.icr.org/bible/numbers/13:33/)

So, it is apparent that these nephalim somehow managed to survive the Flood. These who survived were descendants of Canaan, which explains why Noah cursed Canaan and not Ham. Oh, and by the way, Ham begat other sons before Canaan: Cush, Mizraim (Egypt), and Phut. Canaan was the youngest, but evidently, he carried the “bad seed.”

Now, to further complicate things, I am sure you have heard of UFOs and of aliens abducting humans. I believe (and I am not alone in this) that these are demons that are doing the same thing today as they were doing back in Genesis 6. (See my article “Aliens?”) These creatures, that may look very human, were never meant to be born, so their names are not written in the Book of Life.

Unless you are one of the nephalim (and you probably are not, if you are reading this), your name is written in the Book of Life. My question to you would be, is your name permanently written in the Book of Life, or is there a possibility that it could be blotted out? That choice is up to you.

Watch “On the Trail of the Nephalim” on YouTube with L.A. Marzulli.

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The Email That Got Me Fired

halloween-picture

Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Ten years ago I was working for a non-profit “Christian” organization in the area. It was approaching Halloween, and it was decided that the staff would celebrate by dressing up in costumes; “scary” costumes were encouraged. I thought it was odd for a “Christian” organization to “go all out” like that for celebration of what is arguably the most pagan of all pagan holidays. So, I addressed the following email to all staff. I had been working there more than 90 days, and had received countless “junk” emails from other staff members, so I saw no harm in sharing my sentiments with all the staff. The email read as follows …

Hello All,

Remember the movie “Multiplicity” staring Michael Keaton? In the movie, Doug Kinney, played by Michael Keaton, can’t seem to find enough time to do all the things he needs or wants to do, so he finds a solution in duplicating himself by cloning. As the plot develops, the first clone then clones himself, then the second clone clones himself and so on. With each duplication the resultant product greatly degenerated from the previous – a lot like when one makes a copy of a copy of a copy, etc. Finally, the last clone ends up being a slobbering idiot.  Doug Kinney then finds himself in the dilemma of how to deal with his “offspring.”

What does that have to do with Halloween?  Well, I’m getting to that.

The first five books of the Bible tell, among other things, of how God brought the children of Israel (Jacob) out from Egyptian bondage through His servant Moses.  Now Moses was not perfect, and because of one act of disobedience, he was not allowed to enter the “Promised Land.”  But Moses had a protégé, a clone, if you will, that would take over for him and complete the task of taking the children of Israel into the Promised Land.  His name was Joshua.  Now, Joshua was a great leader, but he was no Moses.

The sixth book of the book of the Bible takes its name from him, Joshua. It tells the history of how the children of Israel conquered the Promised Land – the land of Canaan.  God’s instruction to the children of Israel through Joshua was to completely wipe out the inhabitants of the land – every man, woman, child and every beast. (There are good reasons why God commanded the annihilation of an entire race of people from the land, but that is another story, which will really get me off track.) When you come to the end of Joshua, you find that Israel failed in their God-given task. Instead, they started living in and among the people of the land and started adopting their customs and their pagan religions. This act of disobedience plagued Israel throughout their history.

So, what does that have to do with Halloween? Hang on; I’m getting there.

At the end of the book of Joshua we find Joshua calling the children together for one final word. Most of the land had been conquered, but the Canaanites were still in the land. The probability was very great that the children of Israel would turn to worshipping other gods, and so Joshua gave this final admonition:

Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:14-15)

Great admonition, but not as strongly phrased as I think Moses would have put it. To me, it sounds a lot like our post-modern, relativistic rhetoric that says, “That’s your truth, but it’s not my truth,” or “You’re entitled to your truth, and I’m entitled to mine.”  (Many of you may be thinking that very thing about this discourse.)  In essence, what Joshua was saying was, “If you want to worship other gods, go ahead; I and mine will serve the LORD.”  He started out strong: “Serve the LORD,” but then he took the edge off by giving them an option.

When you read the next book, Judges, you see how the degeneration progressed.  The further the children of Israel got away from the Exodus, the further they got away from God.  That’s what the movie, “Multiplicity” reminds me of.  The further we get away from the original, the fuzzier the lines become.  What used to be sharp lines of contrast become so blurred that one cannot tell where one line ends and another begins.  What used to be considered evil is now a minor indiscretion or just another lifestyle choice or not evil at all. Black and white has blended into an indistinguishable gray.

So, what does that have to do with Halloween?  Well, I’m glad you asked that question.  Halloween has become one of those national pastimes that are given no thought at all.  Haunted houses attract the thrill seeker looking for that rush of adrenaline.  Horror flicks offer the same allure.  Vampires, zombies, demons, ghosts and witches all wait in the darkness ready to pounce on us at the moment we expect them least.  Of course, all of this is intended for fun, and we wholeheartedly participate in the same spirit of frivolity as we don our favorite scary costumes.  What’s the harm in that?  The harm is that the sharp lines of contrast between good and evil have been blurred almost to the point of oblivion.

Halloween, in its origins, was not a harmless pastime.  It originated in the dark ages when, due to ignorance, people genuinely feared the “things that go bump in the night.”  They feared demons and ghosts and witches and vampires.  The church was no help in dispelling those fears, and to a certain extent, was responsible for propagating many of those fears.

My intent here is not to go into a history of Halloween, but rather sharpen the lines of contrast that have been blurred though the passing of time.  Demons are real.  The Devil is real.  I have no fear of them because I know the One in whose hands I’m kept, but that does not negate the reality of their work, which is primarily that of deception.  Jesus identified Satan as the father of all lies.  In His debate with the Jewish leaders, He leveled the following accusation against them:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:43-44)

So, the lie is that Halloween is a harmless pastime.  It’s a lie because the root and the source of Halloween is evil, not good; however, the lines have been blurred to the point where we can’t tell the difference.  We have accepted it into our culture for so long that we have lost all sensitivity to the danger – like a frog in a kettle.

I then offered an article by Kerby Anderson, of Probe Ministries, entitled “Ten Reasons Christians Should Not Celebrate Halloween.” It is no longer on his site. He must have caught a lot of flack over it and decided to take it down, or else he decided it was no longer relevant. Whatever the reason, I cannot offer a link to it, but I did keep it over these many years. Here are the ten reasons he offered:

  1. October 31st has long been known as “The Festival of the Dead.” The Celtic tribes and their priests the Druids celebrated this day as a marker for the change from life to death.
  2. Halloween today is performed usually by adherents of witchcraft who use the night for their rituals. Witches celebrate Halloween as the “Feast of Samhain,” the first feast of the witchcraft year. Being a festival of the dead, Halloween is a time when witches attempt to communicate with the dead through various forms of divination.
  3. Christians should not be involved with occultic practice or divination. Note God’s command against divination in Deuteronomy 18.
  4. Occultists believe Halloween is a time of transition between life and death. Some occult practitioners practiced divination and believed you could learn the secrets of life and wisdom by lying on a grave and listening to the messages from the long-departed.
  5. Occultists also taught that spirits and ghosts left the grave during this night and would seek out warmth in their previous homes. Villagers, fearful of the possibility of being visited by the ghosts of past occupants, would dress up in costumes to scare the spirits on their way. They would also leave food and other treats at their door to appease the spirits so they would not destroy their homes or crops but instead move on down the road. That is the real reason why kids dress up in costumes today and go door-to-door seeking treats.
  6. Occultists also would try to scare away the spirits by carving a scary face into a pumpkin. This horrible visage would hopefully move the spirit on to another home or village and spare that home from destruction. Sometimes the villagers would light a candle and place it within the pumpkin and use it as a lantern (hence the name, Jack-o-Lantern). This is the origin of carving pumpkins at Halloween.
  7. In some witchcraft covens, the closing ritual includes eating an apple or engaging in fertility rites. In the Bible (Genesis 3), eating a piece of fruit brought sin and death into the world. In witchcraft, eating an apple is symbolic of bringing life. The practice of bobbing for apples brings together two pagan traditions: divination and the fertility ritual.
  8. Schools are removing any religious significance from Christmas (often called winter break) and Easter (spring break). Isn’t it ironic that most public schools still celebrate Halloween even though it has occultic origins?
  9. Participating in Halloween gives sanction to a holiday that promotes witches, divination, haunted houses, and other occultic practices.
  10. Christians should avoid Halloween and develop creative alternatives. Churches can hold a Fall Fun Festival and/or celebrate Reformation Day (also October 31). They should not endorse or promote Halloween.

Allow me to offer an eleventh reason why Christians should not celebrate Halloween.  As Christians, the Bible exhorts us to abstain from any appearance of evil.  Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians said, “Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)  The Greek word translated “form” is “eidous,” which means the “visible form” or the “outward show” – the appearance of something.  The lines of distinction between the original form of Halloween may have been blurred by hundreds of years of “cloning,” but it still has, if nothing else, the “appearance” of evil – kind of like Doug Kinney’s last clone.  It looked like him, but was really nothing like him except for his appearance.

This coming Halloween, we have been invited to dress up in costumes in celebration of the day.  I, for one, do not plan to participate.  I will stand with Joshua and in paraphrase say, “As for me and my house, we will not do Halloween.”  If you find that odd, I will simply respond in a typical post-modern, relativistic fashion by wagging my head from side to side and exclaiming, “Whatever.”   You do whatever you think is right in your own eyes, but I will abstain, as far as God will strengthen me, from any appearance of evil.

The day after the email went out, I was fired. I missed out on all of the Halloween doings at that office. But I was not left destitute. God in His faithfulness provided and has continued to bless even now. I still do not celebrate Halloween in any form or fashion, although, I will partake of Halloween candy!

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