Tag Archives: Israel

A Thousand-Year Day

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)

The retirement lifestyle is a new experience for me. So far, it feels like an extra-long vacation. I’m enjoying doing things in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day that were out of the question when I was tied to a nine-to-five job. I am also enjoying the absence of fighting rush-hour traffic.

On Friday of this week, I experienced an outing to the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History, my former employer, with a group of senior adults from our church. Of course, I know the place inside and out, but it felt different to visit as a “guest.” Our visit was too short (only two and a half hours). After that, we boarded our bus bound for lunch at El Fenix, the oldest Tex-Mex restaurant chain in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Our driver took us to the one in Irving, Texas, not far from the Discovery Center.

In the course of conversation over lunch, a lady sitting at the table across from me asked me how I would respond to someone who thinks the Genesis creation account is a myth and argues for an old earth based on 2 Peter 3:8 (our verse above). Of course, attempting to change someone’s mind who is convinced that the miracle accounts in the Bible are myths will take some doing. Their main problem is that they have a very small view of God. They usually also have an overinflated view of man. However, their support for long ages based on 2 Peter 3:8 can be easily debunked.

Many use this verse to argue for long ages in the Genesis creation account. They wrongly interpret 2 Peter 3:8 to say, “one day is with the Lord a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day.” The Day-Age Theory[1] uses this interpretation to argue that the days of creation were 1000 years each making the creation event last 6000 years. Giving credit where credit is due, at least they are not arguing for millions or billions of years for creation. By their reckoning, Creation is about 12,000 years old. However, that raises the question; why does God need that much time to create? Furthermore, the purpose of the Day-Age compromise is to allow for evolution to take place, which brings up another question. Evolution requires death and suffering. How then can death be the penalty for sin[2] if death had taken place for thousands of years before the fall of man? And, how could God declare His creation “very good”[3] when He calls death “the enemy”?[4] Some concede that God used evolution to create. This raises yet another question. Why would God need to “experiment” on His creation in order to improve on it over time? Is He not all-knowing and all-powerful? Can God not simply speak things into being as described in the Genesis account of creation? The notion that God used evolution to create serves only to undermine faith in the power of God!

The resolution to the problem of misinterpreting 2 Peter 3:18 comes down to one word – “as.” Peter employs simile to describe the infinite nature of God. God created time; therefore, He is not bound by time. “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands…But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:25, 27). “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). What Peter is saying is that, to God, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. Peter is not attempting to define time for God, but rather he is expressing the timeless nature of God. Therefore, attempting to define the days of creation as 1000 years each based on 2 Peter 3:18, misrepresents both Peter’s message and the Genesis account of creation.

However, without being dogmatic, a parallel could be drawn between 2 Peter 3:18, the days of creation, and historical time. God created in six 24-hour days and rested on the seventh. According to biblical chronology, the earth (all of creation) is about 6000 years old, and we look forward to a final, seventh, 1000-year of rest with Christ’s reign over all the earth.

A visitor to the Discovery Center showed me something in the Prophet Hosea that I had missed although I had read that passage many times. It reads as follows. “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. Come [Israel speaking now], and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 5:15-6:2, emphasis mine).[5]

In the previous verse, the Lord (Jesus) says[6] that He will destroy Ephraim [the Northern Kingdom, i.e., Israel] and Judah. Then He says that He will return to His place (heaven) until they acknowledge their offence (i.e., the rejection of their Messiah) and seek His face. For over 2000 years, the Jews were scattered all over the earth until recent times (1948), but they, for the most part, have failed to seek His face – they still reject Jesus as their Messiah. However, they will return to Him in the near future. Then in Verse 2 of Chapter 6, they (the Jews) say, “After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up…”

My friend, referring to 2 Peter 3:18, pointed out that Jesus was crucified around A.D. 30, which means that the year 2030 will be 2000 years – two days.  On the third day (1000 years), Jesus will restore Israel. Although we cannot be dogmatic about such things, my friend’s reasoning is sound and his conclusion logical. If his assessment proves correct, that means the seven-year Tribulation could begin in 2023. The Rapture of the Church can take place anytime between now and then. Again, we must be careful not to be dogmatic about these things, but as Christians, the Word instructs us that the return of the Bridegroom for His Bride is imminent[7] and we must be ready at all times, “and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Are you ready? If you are unsure, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Age of the Earth” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/10/14/age-of-the-earth-2/

[2]  Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3

[3]  Genesis 1:31

[4]  1 Corinthians 15:26

[5]  This quotation spans two chapters. The reader must keep in mind that the original text did not have chapter and verse divisions.  The first English Bible to include chapter and verse divisions was the 1560 Geneva Bible.

[6]  Hosea 5:14

[7]  “Imminent” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/01/12/imminent/

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Stiffnecked

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: (Exodus 32:9)

Stiffnecked—now there’s a word seldom heard today outside of careful Bible study. The English word, which should be hyphenated in modern English, appears only eight times in the Old Testament of the King James Bible and is really a translation of two Hebrew words: qâsheh and ‛ôreph (the nape of the neck). The first word, qâsheh, means “churlish, cruel, severe, obstinate, or stubborn.” This goes beyond simple hard-headedness. It characterizes an incorrigible, rebellious person, and it is not an attribute one would desire. Yet, in God’s evaluation of His Chosen People, He defined them as “stiffnecked.”

This assessment was not a rush to judgment on God’s part. These people earned the moniker. Consider how God acted on their behalf to free them from Egyptian bondage. God sent ten plagues against the Egyptians that effected only the Egyptians and spared the Israelites.[1] The final plague brought death upon every firstborn of every Egyptian household including their livestock. At the end of that plague, the Egyptians were only too happy to get rid of the Israelites and even sent them off with rich booty.[2] “And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men” (Exodus 12:33). Not long after they departed, Pharaoh changed his mind and followed in pursuit to bring them back to Egypt. Penned between mountains on one side and the Red Sea on the other, the Israelites witnessed God part the waters so they could cross over on dry ground. Then He closed the waters behind them and drowned the pursuing Egyptian chariots.[3] “And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:31).

Not long after this miraculous deliverance, the Israelites arrived at a watering hole with bitter water and immediately started complaining.[4] God had Moses cast a tree into the watering hole and the waters became sweet. Then God made a conditional promise. “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26, emphasis mine).

Further down the road, they came to Elim and began complaining about their perceived lack of food. So God sent them manna (what is it? bread from heaven) and quail to eat.[5] Further along the way, they once again complained about the lack of water, so God provided water out of a rock.[6] God then defeated Amalek, the first enemy they encountered.

Then they arrived at Sinai, the Mountain of God. There, in the hearing of all the people, God gave them the Ten Commandments. They all heard the voice of God and were terrified. “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:19). Moses ascended the mountain and wrote down the rest of the Law.[7] (At this point one should note that this occurred prior to Moses’ first 40-day stent on the mountain.) “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel … And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:4,7 emphasis mine).

Hollywood movies have a way of distorting biblical accounts in ways that make them so memorable to the viewers that the Hollywood version supersedes the biblical narrative. In the movie, The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston goes up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments for the first time and returns to find the Children of Israel worshipping the golden calf. The movie plot kind of takes them off the hook a bit, because they did not know better; they did not have the Law. However, the biblical record shows that they were given the Law, written down by Moses, long before the golden calf incident, and they all agreed, “All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:7).

After all of Israel affirmed that they would abide by God’s Law, Moses ascended the mountain once more and received the Law written on stone tablets and was there 40 days and 40 nights.[8] “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18, emphasis mine). These tables not only contained the Ten Commandments. They contained all the Law that the Children of Israel heard directly from God to which they agreed to obey. In addition, God gave Moses instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings. Great detail was given for consecrating the priests and the apparel they would wear, especially that of the high priest.

While Moses delayed, the people got antsy and went to Aaron, Moses’ brother and second in command, and asked Aaron, “make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot [know] not what is become of him” (Exodus 32:1). As one reads the account, it becomes apparent that Aaron felt no coercion to comply with the request, nor did he hesitate. “And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me” (Exodus 32:2). Aaron, who was intimately involved in the liberation of the Children of Israel, and heard the Ten Commandments directly from the voice of God, soon forgot the first two. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:3-4).

Before Moses learned of the idolatrous act, God already knew. “And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people” (Exodus 32:9). God threatened to destroy them all and start over with Moses, but Moses interceded on their behalf and the Lord relented from His anger.[9]

Moses descended the mountain and found a wild party going on around the golden calf. When Moses confronted Aaron about the idol, his answer was hilarious. “And I said unto them [the Israelites], Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf” (Exodus 32:24, emphasis mine). Imagine that!

This would not be the first exhibition of Israel’s stiffnecked behavior. Throughout their history, Israel chased after false gods. God would punish, Israel would repent, God would forgive, and Israel would sin again. This happened over and over. Once God banished them from the land for 70 years, and for a time, they appeared to learn their lesson. Then God sent their promised Messiah, and they rejected Him and nailed Him to a cross. Again, God banished them from the land for over 2000 years now. However, as God promised, He has restored them to the land; but the saga is not over. God is not finished with Israel.

The lesson we can learn from God’s dealings with Israel is that God is faithful. We can count on Him to do exactly what He says He will do. He keeps His promises. Before entering the Promised Land, Moses reminded the people, “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:7-9, emphasis mine). Regardless of their stiffnecked character, God has kept and will keep His covenant with Israel. Knowing that gives us the assurance that God will be faithful in keeping His promise to us, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). God is faithful even to the stiffnecked.

Notes:


[1]  Exodus 7-12

[2]  Exodus 12:36

[3]  Exodus 14:10-31

[4]  Exodus 15:22-27

[5]  Exodus 16

[6]  Exodus 17:1-7

[7]  Exodus 20:22-23:33

[8]  Exodus 24:12-18

[9]  Exodus 32:10-14

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Imminent

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, gave a press briefing on Friday, January 10, 2020,[1] concerning increased sanctions for Iran following Iran’s rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq. At the end of the briefing, they opened the floor for questions from the press corps. As has become common practice these days, the questions coming from the Press avoided the topic at hand, and rather addressed the irrelevant question of the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Someone questioned the targeting of a “foreign diplomat,” and Pompeo pointed out that our intelligence found that Soleimani planned to strike our embassies in the area and that the threats were imminent. One genius fake news reporter challenged the Secretary, “What is your definition of ‘imminent’?” I had to laugh!

It comes as no surprise that the request for a definition of the word “imminent” should arise. The “left” in this country, and around the world, has become proficient in distorting the language so that words become whatever the user wants them to be. For example, “hate” means “to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward [something or someone]; detest [something or someone].”[2] However, for the left, “hate” means opposition to anything they favor. The practice of redefining terms probably started much earlier than this, but my first vivid recollection of this practice came at the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton. Remember his now infamous line? “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Words used to have meaning. However, in a day when biology no longer determines the sex of a person, words can take on whatever meaning the user wants them to mean. Not so with God. He emphatically states, “For I am the LORD, I change not…” (Malachi 3:6). The writer to the Hebrews says of God the Son, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Of His Word, Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

The word “imminent” does not appear in the King James Bible; however, the concept is there. The word “imminent” means that something is “likely to occur at any moment.”[3] The precise moment of such an event cannot be known or determined. It could happen at any time. If one can know or determine the time of a future event, it is no longer “imminent” because it is now “expected.” The two words are synonymous, however with expectation comes the connotation of the precise timing and location of a future event. The expectation of an impending event allows for ample preparation. Jesus said, “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (Matthew 24:43). If the man of the house had “known” when the thief would come, he would have been “expecting” him and made preparations. The implication here is that the coming of the thief was “imminent,” not “expected.”

The fake news reporter exhibited her ignorance by asking Pompeo what he meant by “imminent.” Our military intelligence could not predict where or when Soleimani would strike, only that his intention was to strike soon. That made it imminent.

Christ’s return for His Bride, the Church, is imminent. It has been imminent for over 2000 years. Before His crucifixion, Jesus promised, “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). Paul taught the imminency of the Lord’s return at “the last trump” when we would “not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,”[4] but he did not say when. It’s imminent. It could happen at any time. To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). His coming is imminent, like “a thief in the night.”

Unlike the “goodman of the house” in Jesus’ example who was unprepared for the imminency of the thief’s arrival, we have good reason to be expectant of the Lord’s imminent return. We cannot know the day nor the hour when the Lord will return.[5] It could be at any time. It is imminent. Therefore, we must watch expectantly, and make preparations.

We have waited for over 2000 years. How imminent can His return be? Many become discouraged at the delay, like the five virgins without extra oil for their lamps.[6] Such attitudes are to be expected. The Apostle Peter predicted, “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).

Many prophecies concerning “the last days” address Jesus’ return to set up His thousand-year reign on earth. The Old Testament contains most of these prophecies. Jesus spoke of these times in His Olivet Discourse,[7] and most of the Book of Revelation focuses on the time of Great Tribulation just before He returns. These prophecies provide great detail of the events that will transpire in “the last days” during the seven years[8] before the Lord’s return. However, no signs detail the “Rapture”[9] of the Church. We are told that it will happen, but we are not told when or how; it’s imminent. The Rapture[10] must take place before the time of Tribulation “For God hath not appointed us [His Church] to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

So, although we have waited more than 2000 years for the Bridegroom[11] to come for His Bride (the Church), we can know the time is near. How? We can know because of the convergence of the end-time signs. Israel, because it is the focus of all end-time prophecy, and the events surrounding Israel, is our primary sign. None of the end-time prophecies can come to pass without Israel being in her place. Of the rebirth of Israel, God’s “fig tree,” Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34). We are that generation. It has been almost 72 years since Israel’s rebirth, and according to the psalmist, a man’s life is between 70 and 80 years (Psalm 90:10). There are too many signs to include in this article, but the fact that Israel is in place makes all the other signs that much more relevant. The signs tell us the end is near, so the Rapture of the Church is more imminent now than ever before. It could happen anytime now.

Notes:


[1]  Press Briefing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTCErLFbu4Q

[2]  Hate: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/hate?s=t

[3]  Imminent: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/imminent?s=t

[4]  1 Corinthians 15:50-53

[5]  Matthew 25:13

[6]  Matthew 25:1-13

[7]  Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21

[8]  Daniel 9:24-27

[9]  End-Times 101 – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/06/10/end-times-101/

[10]  End-Times 102 – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/06/17/end-times-102/

[11]  Matthew 25:1-13

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Old Testament Holy Spirit

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)

We often think of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, in New Testament terms. However, we have an abundance of evidence of His work in the Old Testament beginning with the first chapter of Genesis where He energizes Creation.[1] Pharaoh recognized the Spirit of God in Joseph,[2] and He filled certain men to endow them with wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and skill in all manner of workmanship.[3] The Spirit of God showed up at the completion of the Tabernacle in the wilderness,[4] and later in the dedication of Solomon’s Temple.[5] Other examples could be cited, but these should suffice to make the point.

Before the Wilderness Tabernacle was completed, the Spirit of God manifested in the pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to lead the way for the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud reminds us of the cloud that filled the Tabernacle, and the later Temple. The cloud represented the presence of God with His people. Jesus said that God is a spirit.[6] Therefore, God cannot be seen; however, He manifests through His Son. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). In like manner He manifests through His Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament, God made His presence visible by a pillar of cloud by day and by a pillar of fire at night. The Holy Spirit filled the Tabernacle (mishkân, a residence; dwelling place) and later the Temple. This same manifestation was repeated in the New Testament; only the temples were of flesh, not stone.

A week after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples, about 120 of them, were gathered in the Upper Room. Jesus had promised that “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8), and they waited and “were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). This time the Holy Spirit came, not as a cloud, but as “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). And the pillar of fire came and “appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:3-4). The Spirit of God was no longer restricted to one individual or to a tent or stone edifice, but He filled 120 temples of flesh and bone equipped to carry His message to all the world in a way that a stationary building cannot.

Paul reminds us, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The same Spirit that accompanied the children of Israel in the wilderness and filled the Tabernacle and the Temple in the Old Testament, is the same Spirit that fills the heart of every true believer. Therefore, Paul warns, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:17). There is something to consider!

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 1:2

[2]  Genesis 41:38

[3]  Exodus 31:3-4

[4]  Exodus 40:34-35

[5]  1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14

[6]  John 4:24

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What the Law Does

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)

Many Christians today adopt the attitude that the Old Testament Law no longer applies because we are not under the Law but under Grace. That is certainly true. However, the fact that we are under Grace does in no way render the Law irrelevant or make it of no effect.

The Law given in the Old Testament accomplished two things. It codified what God expected of His people, Israel, and it provided specific practices for God’s people to follow that set them apart from the pagan nations among whom they lived. They were to be “holy” as their God in heaven is holy, i.e., set apart, consecrated, distinct.

The Law provided a third way for the people to relate to God through the sacrificial system which provided a way to atone for or “cover” the sins of the people. However, the sacrificial system did not provide a permanent solution to the sin problem. Sacrifices were made for all kinds of infractions of the Law, and like sin, they were a perpetual practice. The continual offering of sacrifices illustrated the insufficiency of sacrifices to fully atone for the sin of the people. Even so, the sacrifices required faith in the offering otherwise they became a ritual practice akin to pagan practices. God rejected such sacrifices.

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. (Isaiah 1:11)

To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me. (Jeremiah 6:20)

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4)

One thing we learn from the Old Testament is that it is impossible to keep the Law, and that it is insufficient to atone for sin. Our opening verse makes it clear, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20). The only sacrifice sufficient to atone for sin is the one offered by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ and the blood He shed on the cross. Sin – all sin, for all time – was paid in full when Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). However, Jesus did not remain dead. On the third day, He rose from the dead and conquered the “last enemy”[1] giving us access to eternal life by the simple act of believing. “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).

Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The Old Testament teaches us that we are incapable of keeping God’s Law, therefore we are doomed by that standard. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, emphasis mine). Grace is God’s gift to us. Grace is “unmerited favor.” Grace cannot be earned through any human effort because “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20). Grace is a gift, bought and paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. “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). As with any gift, it must be accepted before it becomes one’s own possession.

What good, then, is the Old Testament Law, if one cannot gain salvation, i.e., eternal life, by keeping it (not that you could if you tried)? Paul provides the following affirmation: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). We are declared “just” when we place our “faith” in what Jesus did for us on the cross. That is a “done deal” outside the keeping (“the deeds”) of the law. Then Paul poses and responds to our question. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). The Greek word translated “establish” is histēmi, and it means “to cause to stand.”

The Law still stands. It is not required to gain eternal life nor is it needed to maintain our salvation. However, it does serve as our guide to holy living which God still requires of His children. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Jesus tied our love for Him to the keeping of His commandments.[2] Jesus spoke these words 25-30 years before the first Gospel was written, so His commandments were the same commandments He gave to Moses, which are summarized in two great commandments: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind (your whole being), and love your neighbor as yourself.[3]

But what does that look like? Our opening verse tells us: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). Granted, much of the Mosaic Law had direct application to the culture of that time, however, the principles therein apply to our modern time. Take for instance the laws given to dress. The reason for those laws served to make the children of Israel distinct from the people among whom they lived. God still wants the same for us today. We shouldn’t dress and look like the lost world around us. We should be distinct. We should be holy as our Father in heaven is holy – set apart from the world. Speaking of us, Jesus said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). What the law does is show us how not to live like the world.

Notes:


[1]  1 Corinthians 15:26

[2]  John 14:15, 21; 15:10

[3]  Matthew 22:36-40

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God’s War

Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 39:4-5)

After Ezekiel saw the valley of the dry bones[1] signifying the regathering of the nation of Israel from among all the nations of the earth, and the two sticks[2] signifying the reunification of the divided kingdom,[3] God gave Ezekiel another preview into the future.[4]

The Gog-Magog War, as it has come to be known, is a hot topic in prophecy circles especially due to current events taking place in the Middle East (more on that later). However, to call it the Gog-Magog War is a bit of a misnomer. The vision described by Ezekiel is an invasion of (modern) Israel by a confederation of nations, not just one.

In order to understand the vision, we must go back to Genesis 10 to identify the nations listed in Ezekiel 38-39 and see how they comport with the current world map.

Map 1: Dispersion of Nations After the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11)

 The first nation mentioned in the vision is Magog. “Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, (Ezekiel 38:2, emphasis mine). “Gog” is a person, not a nation. He is called the “chief prince” making him the leader in command of this invasion. Looking at the map above, we see that Magog, following the dispersion at the Tower of Babel, settled north of the Caspian Sea. Another nation listed by Ezekiel is Gomer[5] which settled north of the Black Sea. By looking at a modern map (below), we see that the people groups or “nations” listed as Magog and Gomer are part of modern-day Russia. Arguably, Meshech, modern-day Georgia, could be included as part of Russia.

Map 2: Modern Map of the Middle East

The next nation listed is Tubal. Looking at Map 1, we note that Tubal occupies the northeast are on the southern coast of the Black Sea in what is now modern Turkey. Along with Tubal, is Togarmah.[6] Both Tubal and Togarmah reside near the northwest border of modern-day Iran. Again we see that Gomer also settled in what is now central Turkey. When we think of Gomer, we can think of both Russia and Turkey, since Gomer settled in both places.

Persia is modern Iran. Ethiopia, a.k.a. Cush[7] (see Map 1), is modern-day Sudan, not the Ethiopia we recognize today (see Map 2). Libya remains Libya today.[8] This confederation of nations consisting of Russia, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, and Libya will unite and come against Israel sometime after Israel becomes a nation.

Mentioned in opposition to the invasion are Sheba, Dedan, and “the merchants of Tarshish with all the young lions thereof.”[9] Comparing Map 1 with Map 2, we see that Sheba and Dedan are in the modern nation of Saudi Arabia. Tarshish (not shown on Map 2) is in Spain. The “merchants of Tarshish” would be nations that trade with Spain and may refer to the European Union. Since the United States and Great Britain are not specifically mentioned in prophecy, some prophecy teachers suggest that the “young lions thereof” refers to Great Britain and the United States, since the lion is the symbol of the U.K., which gave birth to the United States. Although that is speculative, it nonetheless makes good sense. These protest the invasion of Israel, but apparently, are helpless to do anything about it. “Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13).

I titled this article “God’s War” because, throughout the chapters that encompass this vision, God is clearly in control including the instigation of the war.

Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of [Russia], the chief prince of [Russia] and [Turkey], and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of [Russia] and [Turkey]: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army: … [Iran], [Sudan], and Libya with them; … [Russia/Turkey], and all his bands; the house of [Turkey] 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 38:2-9, emphasis mine).[10]

We see in this passage that God orchestrates these events so that they take place “in the latter years.” Israel, at that time, will have been “brought back from the sword” and “gathered out of many people. They will reside in “the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste.” Historically, we know that before Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948, the land of Israel was a barren wasteland. The image of God putting “hooks into [the] jaws” of Gog, the “chief prince” leading the coalition, implies that God forces the issue; He is in complete control.

Gog sees Israel as “easy pickings,” which serves as the lure to “turn [him] back.”

Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. (Ezekiel 38:10-12, emphasis mine)

Some prophecy teachers delay the timing of this event because they point out that Israel does indeed have extensive border walls, and they are not “at rest” nor “dwell[ing] safely, all of them dwelling without walls.” To them, this event is not yet imminent. However, to prophecy teachers currently residing in Israel, like Amir Tsarfati,[11] residents of Israel are by and large “at rest” and dwelling in relative safety. As for the walls, these are erected on the national borders, not around individual villages or cities. In modern times, such walls would be useless against aerial attack by enemy aircraft or missiles. Residents of Israel place their confidence in the military capabilities of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), not necessarily on God. Therefore, Amir Tsarfati sees this coming invasion as imminent, but more on that later.

Russia and its coalition of Turkey, Iran, Sudan, and Libya will come against Israel, and Saudi Arabia, the European Union, Great Britain, and the United States will protest the invasion but will do no more than protest for whatever reason. Israel will be left to face the invaders all alone.

Why will God allow this to come upon Israel after all through which He has brought them? This passage often repeats phrases like: “that the heathen (Hebrew: gôyim, meaning “nations” or “people”) may know me” (38:16), “I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD” (38:23), “they shall know that I am the LORD” (39:6, 28), “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God” (39:22), “the heathen shall know” (39:24). God will be known. Atheism will cease. All excuses will stop.

How will God make Himself known to Israel and all the nations of the earth? Israel will be alone and defenseless when the Russian coalition invades. They will fully expect to win the war against Israel and take the spoil. What spoil? Israelis recently discovered oil and gas reserves in the land enabling them to be energy self-sufficient and an exporter to the E.U. That prospect cuts into Russia’s market so it is easy to see how that could become an incentive to get “spoil.” Besides, Israelis have made great technological advances in many areas including agriculture. Israel has made the desert bloom. With this “hook” in the jaw of Gog, God will draw Russia and its friends into Israel, and there God, not the IDF, will make short work of the invading armies.

And I [the LORD] will turn thee [Gog] back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell [confidently] in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 39:2-6, emphasis mine)

God will destroy the 5/6 of the armies of Gog on “the mountains of Israel.” This is probably referring to the Golan Heights that border northern Israel with Syria. The reference to the bow and arrows means that God will disarm Gog or otherwise render his weapons useless. The carnage will be so great that scavenger birds will feast on the flesh of the dead. The armaments that they bring will serve Israel for fuel for seven years.[12] God will even punish Russia, the land of Gog, and the islands that lend naval support. Gog himself will end up dead along with his troops, and the stench of the dead “shall stop the noses of the passengers,”[13] i.e., anyone passing by. The cleanup of the dead bodies will take seven months.[14]

Russia and its allies will be completely destroyed by God, not by the IDF. This is God’s War. “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword” (Ezekiel 39:22-23, emphasis mine). No one on earth will doubt that the hand of God delivered the devastating blow. However, recognizing the existence of God and His power does not equate to recognizing His authority and the need to submit to Him. Three times in the Book of the Apocalypse we are told of men blaspheming God rather than repenting even though they recognize that God is the One sending the plagues.[15] Notwithstanding, “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

When will all of this take place? There is no way we can pinpoint a date, but we can be sure that the time is not too distant. Consider Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones and the uniting of the two sticks. That prophecy was fulfilled when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948. Jesus said of that time, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree [i.e., Israel]; 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). It has been 70 years, almost 71, since Israel became a nation once more. We are living in “this generation.”

Is Gog alive today? Many prophecy teachers suggest that it may be Vladamir Putin. He is certainly a good candidate for the job. Already he is positioning his armies in Syria, north of Israel. He has made alliances with Turkey, Iran, and Sudan. I am not certain about Libya’s current relationship with Russia, but they have been “friends” in the past. The potential for an invasion of Israel is there. The United States presence in Syria is the only obstacle, but that will soon change when the U.S. withdraws troops from Syria as President Trump intends to do, much to the chagrin of Israel. Once the U.S. is out, all bets are off!

Some prophecy teachers suggest this invasion cannot take place until a prior invasion by Israel’s Arab neighbors as described in Psalm 83. However, according to Amir Tsarfati, this prophecy was fulfilled in 1967 in the Six-Day War. It was “Fought between Israel and Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, and others also contributed troops and arms to the Arab forces.”[16] I tend to agree with Tsarfati. Not only does he have first-hand knowledge, but some of those nations, specifically Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt are “allies” of Israel. Besides that, they have great respect for the IDF.

The puzzle pieces are in place for God’s War. Will we see it? Perhaps, but I personally do not think so. I believe the Rapture[17] of the Church will take place first. The greatest number of Christians in the world reside in the United States; many hold high offices in government. Some have suggested that Donald Trump has become a born-again believer. I hope that is true. Our Vice-president, Mike Pence, is a strong Christian as are many on President Trump’s staff. It may be difficult to believe, but there are many in Congress that are strong Christians, and many of high rank in our military. Imagine the chaos when all of these suddenly disappear! Perhaps this is why all the U.S. can do is protest Gog’s invasion of Israel.

That may set the stage for Antichrist to “confirm” (not make) a seven-year covenant or treaty with Israel ensuring their “peace and safety.”[18] This covenant may already be in the works as Jared Kushner hammers out President Trump’s deal of the century. President Trump will have the deal in place, but it will be Antichrist that enforces it.

All of these things are falling into place right now. The seven years following the Rapture will be the most horrible the world has ever experienced. I rejoice that I will not be around to witness it. How about you? Are you ready? If you are not sure, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Dry Bones” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/02/24/dry-bones/

[2]  “Two Sticks” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/03/03/two-sticks/

[3]  Ezekiel 37

[4]  Ezekiel 38-39

[5]  Ezekiel 38:6

[6]  Ibid.

[7]  Isaiah 11:11

[8]  Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are listed in Ezekiel 38:5

[9]  Ezekiel 38:13

[10] The appropriate modern names have been substituted within brackets ([ ]) for the biblical names in the passage. Also, details about the implements of war have been removed to avoid distraction.

[11]  Behold Israel Ministry – https://beholdisrael.org/

[12]  Ezekiel 39:9-10

[13]  Ezekiel 39:11

[14]  Ezekiel 39:12, 14

[15]  Revelation 16:9, 11, 21

[16]  “List of wars involving Israel” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Israel

[17]  1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

[18]  Daniel 9:27

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Two Sticks

Disclaimer: I am not in complete agreement with the above illustration. I believe the God-given illustration applies to Israel only. God has other plans for His Church.

And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: (Ezekiel 37:22)

God gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley full of dry bones.[1] The vision revealed God’s plan for Israel in the latter days, i.e., the end times. The dry bones[2] represented Israel, dry, lifeless, broken, and scattered all over the earth. In the vision, God instructed Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones, and when he did, the bones came together with their sinews, flesh, and skin, but the bodies remained dead. Then God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the “four winds” that they should breathe life into the lifeless bodies. The four winds represent the four points of the compass from where life would come to Israel. Ezekiel did as instructed and the four winds blew across the bodies, and they came to life, “and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army” (Ezekiel 37:10).

The vision foretold of a day when Israel, long dead, broken, and scattered, would come back to life to become a “great army.” The Hebrew word translated “army” is chayil and it primarily means “a force.” It can also mean strength, might, efficiency, wealth, and (lastly) an army.” On May 14, 1948, the rebirth of Israel fulfilled this prophecy. At first, the new nation appeared more dead than alive. On the day of its birth it was surrounded and attacked by its Arab neighbors, and only Providence preserved the tiny country from total annihilation. Since then, the “four winds” have blown across the fragile nation, and from every corner of the earth, Jews have flocked back to their ancestral homeland. Israel has risen to be a force with whom to contend. Today, more than 70 years after its rebirth, tiny Israel is considered the eighth most powerful country in the world[3] both militarily and economically.

All of Israel is God’s vine and fig tree. Of these God foretold, “I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them” (Jeremiah 8:13, emphasis mine). Again, God through the Prophet Joel foretold of a coming invasion that would destroy Israel. “He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white” (Joel 1:7, emphasis mine).

In Jesus’ day, this destruction was yet future, but Jesus knew of its certainty. He also knew that the vine and the fig tree would bloom again in the last days. Of that day, He 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). In His parable, Jesus did not mention the vine. Perhaps the vine, with its fruit in clusters, represents the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom, which were “lost” during the Assyrian conquest. If that is so, the fig tree, which yields individual fruits, represented the tribes of the Southern Kingdom, Judah and Benjamin collectively, called Judah. In Jesus’ day, only Judah, the fig tree, remained.

The 10 Northern Tribes are not called back until the latter days.

To Ezekiel, the vision of the dry bones may have represented only the expatriated Jews from Judah. Even though God clearly told him, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:11, emphasis mine). To further clarify His meaning, God provided an object lesson for Ezekiel. “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions” (Ezekiel 37:15-16, emphasis mine). One stick represented Judah, the other represented Ephraim[4] – the ten “lost tribes.” God instructed Ezekiel to “join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand” (Ezekiel 37:17).

The object lesson intended to illustrate what God would do in the end times. “Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand” (Ezekiel 37:19, emphasis mine). “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all” (Ezekiel 37:21-22, emphasis mine).

Because the Northern Kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians and expatriated throughout the empire, they are often referred to as the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” God never brought them back to the land as He did with Judah (the Jews); however, they are not lost to God. God never loses anything! Jesus said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30); and “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10:29). If God keeps track of such seemingly insignificant things, surely He can keep track of the Ten Lost Tribes. The last book of the Bible lists the twelve tribes of Israel that will be witnesses during the Tribulation.[5]

The two sticks will be one again, “and one king shall be king to them all” (Ezekiel 37:22). That King will be the Lord Jesus. “And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them” (Ezekiel 37:24, emphasis mine). The Old Testament established that one of David’s descendants would reign on “David’s throne” forever. The first book of the New Testament identifies Jesus as “the son of David.”[6]

God did not give Ezekiel insight into the Tribulation as He did with Daniel.[7] Jeremiah refers to that time as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Ezekiel saw the restoration of Israel and the Millennial kingdom wherein the Lord Jesus Christ will reign. In that kingdom, Jesus will rule from His throne in His temple in Jerusalem. “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezekiel 37:26-28, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “sanctuary” is miqdâsh and it means “a consecrated or holy place.” It comes from the root word qâdash meaning holy. “Tabernacle” is the Hebrew word mishkân meaning “residence, dwelling place, or habitation.” God, i.e., Jesus, will have His throne in His holy Temple in Jerusalem. In Chapters 40-47, Ezekiel goes into great detail concerning this Millennial Temple.

What we learn from the valley of dry bones and the two sticks is that in the last days, God will restore the nation of Israel and bring all the “children of Israel” back to their land. This prophecy has been fulfilled in our generation. Jesus said that the generation that witnessed the restoration of Israel – that sees the “fig tree” bud – will witness His return. Readers, we are that generation. Are you ready for Christ’s return? If not, read my page, “Securing Eternal Life.”


[1]  Ezekiel 37:1-14

[2]  “Dry Bones” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/02/24/dry-bones/

[3]  “Top 10 Most Powerful Countries in the World 2019

[4] The Northern Kingdom is often referred to as Ephraim (one of the half-tribes of Joseph, the other being Manasseh). The reason for this is that when the nation divided during Rehoboam’s reign, Jeroboam built his capital in Shechem, in “Mount Ephraim” in the territory of Ephraim (1 Kings 12:25).

[5]  Revelation 7:4-8

[6]  Matthew 1:1

[7]  Daniel 11:36-12:4

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