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The Millennial Kingdom

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The return of Christ looms ever nearer. We have seen “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars” (Luke 21:25) – blood moons[1] on significant Jewish feast days, the Great American Solar Eclipse,[2] and the “Revelation 12 Sign”[3] that will appear over Israel on September 23, 2017.  All over the earth, we have “distress of nations, with perplexity” (Luke 21:25). North Korea flexes its nuclear muscle while Iran builds up its arsenal of short-range missiles near Syria’s southern border with Israel,[4] and Russia continues to build up its forces in the area while aiding Iran in its weapons development. The US and other western nations distress and are perplexed over this not, knowing what to do short of starting another world war.

The solar eclipse experienced on August 21, 2017, some suggest, is an omen against the United States of America. Some prophecy scholars say that lunar eclipses are signs for Israel, while solar eclipses are signs for the gentile nations. It may be coincidental, but worth noting that only four days after the Great American Eclipse (August 25, 2017), Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas and Louisiana coasts dumping over 9-Trillion gallons water on the Texas coastline. The unprecedented deluge shut down over 22 percent of the US oil refining capacity.[5] As of this writing, hundreds of gas stations all over North Texas are running out of gasoline (due to media incited panic), and those that still have gas have raised their prices from 20-40 cents per gallon. Refineries on the Texas coast will remain closed for two to three weeks until assessments can be made to bring them back online. It may be months! The economic impact of this storm will be felt for months, and that does not include the impact to human lives. Added to that is the looming threat of Hurricane Irma building up strength in the Atlantic. This is only a small sample of “the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).

Things are just warming up “as travail upon a woman with child” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Soon – hopefully very soon – Jesus will return for His Bride, the Church, to take her home with Him.[6] Not long after that “… shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Most end-times prophets seem to focus on the events leading up to and into the 7-year Tribulation, which follows the Rapture of the Church. Such conversation tends to overshadow the happy ending that lies beyond the seven years with a cloud of gloom and dread. However, the story does have a happy ending that is lost in the details of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the mark of the beast, the coming Antichrist, famine, plagues, death, etc. Why walk into a dark tunnel with no light at its end! The good news is that the Utopia for which everyone yearns is what lies just beyond those dreadful seven years.

At the end of the book of Revelation, “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13; John 1:1), mounted on a white horse (Revelation 19:11) leads a mounted army of His saints, all on white horses (Revelation 19:14). His appearance is awesome, and He descends to crush the nations of earth “and he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). The world looks for a leader to rule all the nations of the earth and to usher in an era of universal peace. However, they seek for such a leader in a man. That will never happen! Instead, the leader they will follow will lead them to certain destruction. “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (Revelation 19:19). It is a misnomer to call it a war or even a battle because it will end as soon as it begins. “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:20-21).

Not all who remain on earth will die at that “battle.” Certainly, not every person on earth will be enlisted in the “armies” of the “kings of the earth.” There will be survivors that will require governance. The army of saints (“set apart ones,” i.e., the Bride that was taken at the Rapture) that returns with Christ will be “priests” (“intercessors” between the people and Christ), and they will rule with Him for 1000 years (a millennium).

Some say there is no millennium. What one believes about that is not a salvation issue. However, Revelation 20 affirms a 1000-year period no less than six times (Revelation 20:2-7).  If the 1000 years was stated once or even twice, one might say it is allegorical,[7] but when it is repeated six times, we can take it as literal and certain. Interestingly, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, records creation in six (literal) 24-hour days with God resting (cessation of work) on the seventh day. I believe the Bible teaches a young earth of about 6000 years with a 1000-year rest during the millennial reign of Christ on earth as recorded in Revelation 20. Perhaps the six-fold repetition of 1000 years is not accidental. The Apostle Peter wrote, “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). Please note that the Apostle employs simile here. He is not saying that “a day is a thousand years” or that “a thousand years is a day.” The Apostle merely points out that God is timeless, i.e., eternal. Likewise, the psalmist proclaims, “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). Therefore, I find it interesting that six times the 1000-year timeframe is repeated here. Creation was completed in six days, and God rested on the seventh day; the earth has existed for six millennia and now one millennium remains to “rest” and culminate creation.

What will take place during this final millennium? For one thing, evil will be removed from the earth. Satan is incarcerated in the “bottomless pit” so that he can no longer “deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:3). Missing from John’s report is what happened to “the beast” (aka Antichrist) and the “false prophet.” Since they are humans used by “the Dragon,” my feeling is that they are killed in the final battle because at the end of the thousand years, Satan is loosed on the earth once more (Revelation 20:7) and, once again, his defeat is immediate. Then it says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10, emphasis mine; also see Revelation 19:20-21 above). At the end of the 1000 years, the beast and the false prophet will be raised again with the rest of the “dead” (Revelation 20:5) to face the Great White Throne Judgement (Revelation 20:11-15).  I cannot say with certainty, but my guess is that they will be the first on the docket for judgment.

Beginning with Revelation 20:7, the scene jumps to the end of the 1000 years. John records nothing of what takes place during the 1000 years except that the Bride of Christ – those that died in Christ, the martyrs for Christ, and the raptured saints – “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years,” and “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, 6). That implies that there will be some on earth to rule. Furthermore, when Satan is released at the end of 1000 years, he goes “out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:8). That says that the population of earth will be replenished to the point that there are “nations” living in peace and harmony without satanic influence. But what will that be like, and what can we expect? For that, we need to look elsewhere in the Bible.

First of all, the millennial reign of Christ will be an autocratic form of government where Christ’s reign will be absolute with zero tolerance for lawlessness. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:15-16, emphasis mine). The image of a sharp sword coming from His mouth symbolizes the authority of His Word – He is the Word (John 1:14). That He rules with “a rod of iron” indicates no tolerance for any opposition to His authority. “His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne [speaking of Jesus] as the days of heaven. If his children [those whom He rules] forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes” (Psalm 89:29-32). Although He will rule with absolute authority, He will be a kind and benevolent monarch. “And I will set up one shepherd [speaking of Jesus] over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David [speaking of Jesus]; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David [speaking of Jesus] a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it” (Ezekiel 34:23-24, emphasis mine). “And David my servant [speaking of Jesus] 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). “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, emphasis mine).

Secondly, because there will be no tolerance for lawlessness, the millennial reign of Christ will be characterized by universal peace. Today the world clamors, “peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14), but when Christ reigns, the world will know true peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, emphasis mine). He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). “And he [speaking of Jesus] shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).

Thirdly, not only will there be universal peace on earth, but the earth itself will be renewed as in the time before the Fall (Genesis 3). God says, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17). In the renewed earth, the “curse” will be reversed. Animals will no longer prey on one another and even little children will play with what used to be venomous snakes (Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:25).  “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Death for the inhabitants of the earth, those who survived the Tribulation and their progeny, will practically be unheard of. “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 65:20, emphasis mine). People will live long lives as before the Flood. Only the “sinner,” i.e., the lawbreaker will have his life cut short by “the rod of iron.” Someone who is a hundred years old will be considered a “child.” Of course, those who returned with Christ at the end of the Tribulation, will come back with “glorified” bodies and never again experience death.

Fourthly, like the Garden of Eden, all the earth will once again be fruitful. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1). “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13).  Everyone will have houses and enjoy the fruits of the labor. “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:22, emphasis mine). “And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil … And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:24, 26). “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim” (Joel 3:18). “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos 9:13).

What a wonderful world that will be! Jesus will rule from His throne in His Temple in Jerusalem, and the Utopia of which everyone dreams will exist throughout the earth. However, very few of earth’s inhabitants will enter that renewed world. Those who call upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior right now will be leaving this earth very shortly. After that follows seven horrible years of Tribulation where the majority of the population will perish. At the end of that time, Jesus will return with His saints to reign on earth.

Reader, would you like to see that new world? If you cannot claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the odds are against you making it through the Tribulation that will soon come. Why not secure your place in Christ’s coming millennial kingdom and beyond. Read my page on “Heaven.”

Notes:


[1]  “Perhaps This Year!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/12/29/perhaps-this-year/

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

[3]  Ibid.

[4]  “Iran Building Weapons Factories in Lebanon and Syria, Israel Says” – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/world/middleeast/iran-missiles-lebanon-israel-.html

[5]  “Gasoline spikes after Harvey shuts down Gulf Coast refineries” – http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/348692-gasoline-spikes-after-harvey-shuts-down-gulf-coast-refineries

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

[7]  “Is the Bible Allegory?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/08/27/is-the-bible-allegory/

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Is the Bible Allegory?

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

A young woman wrote me and claimed that God told her that the Bible is allegory. She claimed that people misinterpret the Bible when they take it literally. “The Lord” told her that the creation account recorded in Genesis represents later events in the Bible. I suppose, if she received a word from God, then it must be true. However, is she right, and did she really receive this instruction from God?

Volumes have been written and reams of paper spent defending the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible. The problem of misinterpretation comes when people think they know what the Bible says, without really knowing what it says. The Bible is very clear and easily understood on its own without any kind of special interpretation. The problem is that people often do not like what it has to say, so they interpret it to say what they want it to say. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

That said, the Bible does employ allegory sometimes. For example, Ezekiel saw a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37), and God told Ezekiel to preach to the dry bones. When he did, the bones came together, and flesh and skin came on the bones. However, there was no breath in them (Ezekiel 37:8). God instructed Ezekiel to preach to them once more and breath came on them and they rose up “and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). Then God explained what Ezekiel saw (vv. 11-14). The bones represent the nation of Israel, which God will gather from all over the world and restore to their land, but when they come, the Spirit of God will not be in them. God will then put His Spirit in them “that they may live” again. This prophecy is an allegory of Israel in the last days. That prophecy was fulfilled on May 14, 1948, when Israel was reborn as a nation. However, God’s Spirit is not yet in them – they are still spiritually dead. Many Jews in Israel are atheists. Those who are not, still look for the coming of their Messiah. My point, however, is that this is one good example of allegory in the Bible.

Not all of the Bible is allegory. When an allegory is presented, it is very clear that it is an allegory, and it usually comes with an explanation. When you understand that, and compare an allegory, as in the example above, to the creation narrative in Genesis, it should be obvious that the creation account is not an allegory, nor is it Hebrew poetry. Genesis records a matter-of-fact account of creation. It is a historical narrative. Now, what you do with that is up to you; you can choose to accept it, or you may choose to reject it, but you cannot call it an allegory.

This young woman said, “The Lord told me it represents later events in the Bible.” I cautioned her that it may not be “the Lord” speaking because He will not lead us to doubt any of His Word. The Bible says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It cannot be “profitable” for doctrine, correction, or instruction if it is all allegorical. One can make of an allegory whatever one imagines, and not everybody imagines the same thing. In the example of Ezekiel’s dry bones above, it should be noted that God Himself explains the allegory. In the same way, Jesus always explained His parables to His disciples; He did not leave it up to them to determine the meaning of the allegory.

God’s Word is precise, not allegorical. 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 “jot” (Hebrew letter yod – י) is the smallest letter in the letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The “tittle” is the smallest marking on a Hebrew letter that distinguishes it from another similar looking letter, for example, the difference between the resh (ר) and the dalet (ד). Jesus was not speaking in allegory. He spoke matter-of-factly and authoritatively. Again He said, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). Such emphatic statements cannot be true of allegories because allegories by themselves are up for interpretation.

God would not make His Word ambiguous through allegory if He means for it to be fulfilled to the smallest mark of the text. However, I know who would – Satan. From the very beginning, his tactics remain the same. Consider carefully at the account of the Fall (Genesis 3:1-5). “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1), This is not written as an allegory; it is written as a matter-of-fact. Note that the first thing Satan does is to introduce doubt in God’s Word – “Yea, hath God said…?” To paraphrase: “Did God really say that or was it just allegorical?” His next step is to call God’s Word a lie. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). God told Adam he would die (Genesis 2:17), if he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and here Satan says that is not true. Again, to paraphrase: “You are not going to die. That was just an allegory. God did not really mean you were going to die.” That set the stage for Satan’s third tactic – to charge God with dishonest and dishonorable motives. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). To paraphrase once more: “God wants to keep something good from you. He knows that if you eat of the fruit, you will be like gods, and you will know as much as He does, and He does not want that for you.” King Solomon said, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Satan has not changed from the beginning of time, and he still uses the same tactics to cast doubt on God’s Word.

No, the LORD God is not going to tell you that His Word is just an allegory and that you can interpret any way you think. God says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:7-9).

The Bible is not allegory. God makes His Word abundantly clear. The Bible does “contain” allegory, but where allegory is given, the interpretation follows close behind. Certainly, there are some things that are difficult to understand, as Mark Twain noted, however, most of it is plain enough. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). “Those things which are revealed” are plain enough for us to understand. They are not allegories that we must puzzle out. God reveals His Word to us clearly so that we can know Him intimately. He will not veil His Word in allegory so that every individual gets a different “insight” into what it says. God’s Word is precise. It is matter-of-fact. Our task is to accept God’s Word for what it says, not for what we think it says.

 

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Clueless!

And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:26-27)

Things go on as always. Nothing seems to change. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Kim Jong-un has placed a big chip on his shoulder and dares America to knock it off. Xi Jinping, who tacitly agreed with President Trump to put pressure on North Korea to back off its nuclear expansion, now warns the US not to take military action against North Korea. In the meantime, Iran continues its nuclear program undaunted by restrictions imposed by the Obama nuclear deal. Russia, Syria, and Iran continue to amass troops on Israel’s northern border, while the cry for Israel’s destruction by Islamic extremists grows in intensity and volume. All of Europe is overrun with Muslims where almost daily there are reports of riots in the streets. Acts of terrorism and the raping of European women by Muslims, who see it as their sacred duty to conduct themselves as barbarians, is as commonplace as the rising of the sun.

Meanwhile, back at home, Trump haters and “Never-Trumpers,” aided by the Trump-hating liberal media, can find nothing but fault with President Trump. Regardless of the chaos going on all around the world, their concerted effort to delegitimize his administration consumes the majority of airtime with complete disregard for national security. Thanks to the previous President, the division in our nation grows deeper and wider than ever, and there seems to be no salve that can heal our nation’s wounds. It seems that any perceived offense serves as a motive to riot in the streets. Left or right does not matter; both sides thirst for blood. Morality? What morality? It no longer exists in America. Some public schools teach our little ones that their gender is a matter of their choosing regardless of their biological equipment. Our nation slaughters the unborn by the thousands daily.

With all the goings on in our country and in the world, it seems (generally speaking) that our people stumble around in a fog oblivious to the social collapse around them. They bury their faces in electronic devices. They search for diversion on television screens – sports, “reality” shows, TV gossip shows, etc. – anything to escape the “real world.” Then, if that does not work, they numb themselves with drugs or alcohol. It is like a bad dream where you are falling through the air without a parachute, and the ground is racing up to meet you. There is nothing around to grab to stop you. You are going to die, so you may as well think about something else because considering the inevitable will not help this time. Clueless!

The feeling is understandable for those who have no hope in Christ, but increasingly, I see a similar kind of attitude among Christians, albeit perhaps not to the same degree. Sometimes I listen in on conversations of Christian brothers, and what I hear is not much different than the conversations of non-Christians. They deliberate about their favorite sports team evaluating the condition and performance of the star players. I hear them discuss with great animation about the latest movie thriller or their favorite TV series. They will talk about who is “Dancing With the Stars” or the next “American Idol” or who is in the lead of “America’s Got Talent.” Sometimes they confide about what is going on in their families. Sometimes the conversation shifts to current events, which usually ends with the sense that there is nothing we can do about it. Very rarely is the conversation about what is going on at their church or about the pastor’s sermon last Sunday. Never do I hear about what they learned from their personal Bible study or what the Lord is doing in their lives. Their exchange sounds no different from that of the lost world around them – except without the “colorful” language. Clueless!

Jesus will return very soon.[1] He stands at the gates of heaven awaiting His Father’s command to go get His Bride – the Church. Like never before, a convergence of end-time signs continue to increase. Prophecy teachers more knowledgeable than me proclaim the same message I have written about over the last couple of years.[2] The prophecy teachers of which I speak are not false prophets the likes of Harold Camping who erroneously predict specific dates for Christ’s return. While they speak of a strong “likelihood” of Christ’s return this very year, they are quick to follow up with the disclaimer that we cannot know with certainty. However, the “signs” seem to indicate that our Lord’s return is more imminent today than ever. This is no time for Christians to be “clueless.”  Christians should rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is coming soon.  Rather than confabulating over meaningless scuttlebutt, we should warn others of what is coming and share with them the way of salvation. Our Lord does not want us to be clueless. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1).

“But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Luke 21:9-10).

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

“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).

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

“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: 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 4:16-17).

“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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

Do not be clueless! The things of this world do not matter. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him … And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15, 17). “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10, emphasis mine). All things that consume your mind are temporal. In one blinding flash, they will all vanish. When that happens, what will you have left that is of any value?

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:11-13, emphasis mine).

Reader, if you are not looking forward to Christ’s return, do not continue being clueless. Find the way to heaven here: https://erniecarrasco.com/heaven/. Prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

Notes:


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

[2] For a list of articles I have written on these final days, look over to the right-hand column of this blog and find the “Categories” list and select the categories “End Times,” and “Second Coming of Christ.”

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One-Verse Theology

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. (Psalm 5:5)

Sometimes people will take one verse out of the Bible and try to build an entire belief system from one verse without regard to what the rest of Scripture has to say about it. For example, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Non-Christians and even many Christians use this verse to humiliate Christians into not making any judgments whatsoever. However, when read in context (Matthew 7:1-6) it becomes clear that what appears in isolation is not what is meant as a whole. Other examples could be cited, but this should do for the purpose of this writing.

Recently someone complained that the overused cliché – “hate the sin, but love the sinner” – is not biblical, and they used Psalm 5:5 (above) as their proof text. While the phrase itself is not found in the Bible, the concept is nevertheless both biblical and practical. Note that the cliché is not attributed to God, but rather it is intended for Christians.

The plaintiff claimed that the adage, “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” is not biblical because Psalm 5:5 says that God hates both the sin and the sinner. However, the challenger took one verse, Psalm 5:5, in isolation, and overlooked what the rest of the Bible teaches about God’s love – indeed, His love toward the sinner. Who of us can honestly say that we harbor no sin? If we are all sinners, even if saved by Grace, then by this assessment, God hates us. If we say we are not sinners, we have a surprise in store. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us … If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, 10, emphasis mine). John was writing to Christians! Personally, I am grateful that God loves this sinner even though He still hates my sin. (By the way, the closer I get to Him, the more I hate my own sin.)

 So, let us examine the challenger’s one-verse defense in its entire context. Psalm 5 is an imprecatory psalm, i.e. a psalm that calls upon God to judge His or our enemies. It is written from a human perspective. Because of David’s understanding of God’s holy nature and His hatred for sin, he concludes that God hates the sinner equally. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (Psalm 5:4). God cannot and will not abide sin. David continues: “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5, emphasis mine). As Hebrew poetry, the psalms are written in a parallel style, so that the thought in the first part of the verse repeats in a different way in the second. Strictly translated, the first part reads, “Not do stand the foolish before Thy sight,” or, better, “The foolish do not stand before Thy sight.” Comparatively speaking then, someone who “works iniquity” cannot stand in the presence of God, so that it appears that God hates the sinner. The Hebrew word translated “hate” is śânê’, and it means “to be in opposition to” or “to be an enemy or foe;” however, to be in opposition to someone does not necessarily require feelings of hatred.  Is it the sinner that God hates, or is it the sinner’s works of iniquity that God opposes? The Bible teaches the latter. The KJV includes the future “shall” (not found in the original Hebrew) indicating that the sinner will never be able to stand before the Lord. The unrepentant sinner does not now, nor shall ever stand in the presence of God. Their sin has separated them from God eternally. Does that mean that God hates them?

 “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing [falsehood]: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:6, emphasis mine). The judgement is reserved for a future time. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). Does that mean that God did not love these sinners?

 The Bible teaches that God loves mankind. It teaches that from the very beginning. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine). “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6, emphasis mine). “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15)

 Did God demonstrate hate for the sinner here, or did He show His love? By all rights, He should have killed them for their disobedience; after all, that is what He said He would do. Instead, God spared them, and He promised a Savior. Is that hate or love? One might rightly say, “Well, God was showing mercy.” Yes, that is true, but does mercy spring from hate or from love?

 David, a sinner himself, pleads with God to “Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee” (Psalm 5:10). God will do that in due time, but because of His mercy and His love (yes, love for sinners), He gives them time to repent. “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass [surround] him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12, emphasis mine).

 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, emphasis mine), “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis mine). “For God so loved the world [i.e. sinners], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). If God hates sinners, then why did He go through all trouble of making a way of salvation? “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11, emphasis mine).

 “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” It might be trite and overused, but it is biblical! It is also practical as it instructs us to love those who have offended us.

Reader, if you have not trusted in Jesus as your Savior, God does not hate you; He loves you, but He does hate your sin. You will never be able to stand before Him until that matter is settled. God loves you, and He sent Jesus to stand in your place and pay the price for your sins on the cross. Now He invites you to accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life. Acknowledge and confess your sinful condition to Him. Believe/trust that Jesus died for your sins. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin, and invite Him to be the Master of your life. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). His gift of salvation is yours for the asking. Do it today!

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Not Expecting to Die

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

Everyone dies eventually, but that is not my expectation. No, I have not discovered the fountain of youth, nor do I possess some secret, life-extending formula. Neither am I in denial about the certainty of death as it applies to me, nor do I fear the inevitability of death – although the process of dying is not too appealing. I fully accept the possibility that God could take my life at any moment. My life (and yours) belongs to Him, and He can recall it at His will. As the psalmist prayed, “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am” (Psalm 39:4).

That said, I expect not to die. Although our leading verse emphasizes that “it is appointed unto men once to die,” there is biblical precedence for it not being true for all men.

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24).

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both [Elijah and Elisha] asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11).

Two men recorded in the Bible escaped natural death, Enoch and Elijah. Some believe that the two unnamed witnesses described in Revelation 11:3 are Enoch and Elijah brought back to fulfill their unfinished prophetic mission. “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them” (Revelation 11:7, emphasis mine). Those who hold this view use this passage as confirmation of the truth of Hebrews 9:27 above, i.e., Enoch and Elijah did not die while they were on earth, so they must complete their earthly task and die as appointed to all men.

However, Hebrews 9:27 does not say παντες [all] οι ανθρωποι [men] – transliterated, pantes hoi anthropoi. While some may say that I am arguing from silence, I believe I have a valid point. The truth of this verse begins in Genesis when God commanded Adam, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17, emphasis mine). Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the curse of death fell upon mankind.  “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19, emphasis mine). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12, emphasis mine). Adam’s sin brought the curse of death “upon” all men. The Greek word translated “upon” is the preposition eis, which can also be translated “toward” or “among,” meaning that all men are under the curse of death, but that does not necessarily mean that all men will die physically, although that is generally true for all men. All of us are susceptible to physical death – for the most part. However, the spirit lives on forever.

Death is more than physical death. Indeed, the worst death of all is that of the spirit separated from its Creator. Every person is born under this curse. Without Christ, everyone is dead in sin – eternally, but not irrevocably, separated from God. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:5, emphasis mine). Those who continue in that condition will suffer the second death. “And death and hell [the grave] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14, emphasis mine). The second death is eternal separation from God for eternity in hell. What a chilling thought!

Everyone is born under the curse of death and is spiritually separated (dead) from God; but God has provided the way to be made spiritually alive by placing one’s faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. However, along with that remains the fact that physical death is part of the curse. It is appointed to humans to die once, i.e., physical death, but those without Christ can also expect the second death – eternal spiritual separation from God.

However, Hebrews 9:27 implies that not all die physically. Indeed, there is coming a time when many millions of Christians from all over the earth will escape the bonds of this world without experiencing physical death.[1] “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], 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 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: 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 4:16-17, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “caught up” is harpazō, and it means “to seize,” “to catch away,” or “to pluck or take by force.” In Latin, it is the word rapturo, from which we get our English word “rapture.” That time is very near.[2]

While the possibility remains that God may take me at any moment – all of us live with that possibility – I rather anticipate that I will not experience physical death. I expect to be caught up in the Rapture. That too can happen at any moment, but I fully expect that it will happen before I die, and I fully expect it to happen very soon[3] – perhaps this very year.

When the Rapture takes place, millions from all around the globe will vanish in an instant. I will be one of them. The Rapture will cause havoc around the world, but especially in the United States. Many in our government, including President Trump (from what I hear), are “born-again” believers in Christ – genuine Christians. At the Rapture, they will all vanish. Think of the chaos that will ensue when that happens! The US Government and economy is on the verge of collapse right now. Think of what will happen when many of our leaders disappear!

Reader, how about you? Will you go to meet Jesus in the air with me, or be left behind to face the seven terrible years that will follow. If you do not know, I would invite you to place your trust in Jesus for your salvation. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

If you want to know more about the “Rapture” and the “Second Coming” of Christ, just type the phrase into the search box on this page or under the “Categories” column, select “Second Coming of Christ.”

Notes:


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

[2]  “Pentecost” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/05/28/pentecost/

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

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Occupy

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (2 Peter 3:11)

You might conclude from some of my writings that I expect Jesus to return for His Church at any moment, and you would be correct. I look forward to changing “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Then, along with millions of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I “shall be caught [Greek: harpazō — i.e. “raptured”] 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). I cannot help it; I just get excited about that!

 In my last article[1], I suggested that the “signs” make September 23, 2017, an excellent candidate for the Rapture event. Truthfully, the Rapture could take place at any time. Christ’s return is imminent, and it has been so since the beginning of Church history. The early church fathers (I mean the real ones, not the ones that came 300 years after the Resurrection) all expected Christ to return at any time. Paul reminded the Church of Thessaloniki, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, emphasis mine).

What victim of a home invasion is prepared when the thief brakes into his home in the middle of the night? 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, emphasis mine). We cannot predict the inevitable, but we can certainly prepare for it.

Paul charged young Timothy, “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:14, emphasis mine). Apparently, Paul expected Christ to return in Timothy’s lifetime and his own. To Titus he wrote, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men [i.e. Jesus], Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13, emphasis mine). “This present world” was the world in which Paul and Titus lived, and they were to look for His appearing at that time. Again Paul, whom I believe wrote the letter to the Hebrews, reminded them, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come [i.e., Jesus] will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37, emphasis mine). Well, it has been almost 2000 years, and we are still waiting!

James wrote, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:8-9, emphasis mine). Peter said, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7, emphasis mine). Clearly, the Apostles expected Jesus’ return at any moment, yet 2000 years later, we continue to wait. Yet Peter cautioned, “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). Yet, we wait.

As we wait, what must we do? If I truly believe that Jesus will return on September 23, 2017, should I divest myself of all my worldly possessions, move to Israel and go wait it out on one of the mountains around Jerusalem? No!

Jesus related a parable depicting the kingdom of God (Luke 19:12-27).  In the parable, a “nobleman” was leaving for “a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (v. 12). To His ten servants, he left equal amounts of money (a mina) with instructions to “Occupy till I come” (v. 13). Jesus is the “nobleman” who has gone to heaven to receive His kingdom, and soon He will return. We are the servants He has left behind with the instructions to “Occupy till I come.” He charged us all with the same task, “Ye shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). The verb “Go” in the Greek is a present, passive participle, which could be better translated, “As you are going.” “Teach all nations” could be better translated “make disciples” of all nations. That means that day by day as we go about our daily routines, we are His witnesses and our task is to share Christ with others wherever we are, whatever we are doing. That is our job. That is the task He left for us.

In the parable, Jesus says that the “citizens” the nobleman was to rule (v. 14) hated him. The “citizens” are the people of the world that reject Christ. With just a casual look around, we can see how the world hates Christ and everything for which He stands. Jesus left His servants on earth to gain a profit for His investment, and He will demand an accounting when He returns.

In the parable, one of the servants did nothing with the mina that was given him, and he returned the full amount to the nobleman (vv. 20-25). It is comforting to note that even though the servant was unprofitable, he did not lose his position as a servant; he did, however, lose his position of responsibility in the new kingdom.

The parable applies to Jesus’ servants, all Christians, as we await His imminent return for us at the Rapture. We do not know when that will take place exactly, but we know the time is very close. September 23, 2017, makes sense for all the reasons I pointed out in my last article[2] (and more), but it could happen today, tomorrow, or perhaps next year. It does not matter. We have our orders. “Occupy till I come.”

Notes:


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

[2]  Ibid.

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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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