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What’s Ahead?

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isaiah 46:9-10)

We are there -2022! I would wish everyone a happy New Year, however the prospect of that seems remote at best. I do not mean to discourage, but if you believe this year will be better than last year or the year before, I fear you will be sadly disappointed. I would encourage you not to allow the circumstances of the coming year determine the measure of your happiness. Rather, focus on your relationship with the Lord and allow Him to fill your heart with joy. Happiness waxes and wanes with circumstances, but joy endures all circumstances.

I am not a pessimist, but I am keenly aware of what is going on in the world and 2022 does not look promising. Fear of the Wuhan Bug continues to grip our nation and the world even though this new Omicron variant is weaker, albeit more transmissible, than previous varieties. Yet, those who supposedly care about our health, along with the complicit and compliant media, continue to propagate the lie that this thing is killing people. Therefore, they continue to push for more “vaccines,” more boosters, more masks, more social distancing and more isolation. The Biden Administration is illegally pressuring businesses of greater than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations for all of their employees as a requirement of employment. However, members of the Biden Administration and members of Congress are not required to comply with similar mandates. There is also the matter of illegal aliens crossing our southern borders without any vaccination requirements. Something seems strangely wrong with this picture! Then there is the question of the efficacy of these “vaccines.” People fully vaccinated and “boosted” can still catch the bug, so they are still encouraged to mask up and maintain social distances. This issue will not improve and only promises to get worse in 2022.

The bug scare has severely impacted our national economy as well as the global economy. Add to that, the Biden Administration took our nation from energy independence to total energy dependence on countries that hate us. However, the damage done is not enough. Further plans await for more pipeline shutdowns, and coal mine closures. It would appear that all these “mistakes” are the result of stupidity, but there are too many and too targeted at our economy to be accidental. No one is that stupid. There are global entities behind the curtain pulling the levers and running the gears determined to eliminate the United States as a world power.

America is no longer the economic and military super power that it once was. We are diminished in the eyes of the world. Russia, China, and Korea no longer fear the United States and demonstrate it by conducting provocative acts with impunity. Iran is ramping up development of their nuclear arsenal with Israel as their primary target. The Middle East is a boiling caldron ready to explode. The players in the Gog and Magog war prophesied by Ezekiel are moving into place. Israel, standing pretty much alone, makes preparations for all out war. They cry, “Peace, peace!” but there is no peace.  

I said earlier, I am not a pessimist. I see what is going on, and I know it will only get worse. However, I also study the Bible and Jesus clearly told us that these days would come. So, when I see all of this, I am encouraged knowing that Jesus promised that He would come for His own to take us to be with Him. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine).

So, whatever 2022 brings, we who belong to Him can face it fearlessly knowing that, while we may face some troublesome times, we will not face them alone. Furthermore, we have the promise of His soon return to call us home to be with Him. My concern is for those who do not belong to Him. After He calls us home, these bad times we are facing will pale in comparison to what the next seven years will bring. If you are not of His, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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Just As Predicted

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Many people regard the Bible as any other book of mythology. They cannot accept that it is a true for a host of reasons. Some question its veracity because it was written by men, and we all know men are flawed and always embellish the truth in order to make their god or hero appear better than reality. Some suggest that through the many centuries of transmission, errors have crept into the text so that it cannot be trusted. Even now, they say, we have so many translations, and they all differ one from another.

It is true that the Bible had many human authors. Many of these men lived centuries apart and lived in different regions. They all wrote independently of one another, yet the Bible maintains a flow and consistency that defies human ingenuity. The only reasonable explanation for such cohesion and consistency is supernatural guidance. The Apostle Paul tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Apostle Peter explains, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21, emphasis mine).

As for errors in transcription and transmission, over 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament Scriptures exist today and they all agree, and the few errors that exists are mostly minor spelling errors that are readily identifiable when compared to other copies. As for the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls validate that what we have in our modern Bibles is accurate. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

The skeptic may concede the accuracy in transmission, but may still doubt the veracity of the text. The best way to respond is to show where the predictions made in the Bible have come to pass. The birth of Jesus offers many examples.

The first book of the Bible declares Jesus’ linage from the tribe of Judah.[1] The pagan prophet Balaam predicted that a star would announce His birth.[2] Several passages predict that Jesus would come from the line of King David.[3] Our beginning verses predicts that Jesus would come as a child.[4] He would be born of a virgin.[5] His birthplace would be Bethlehem.[6] Shepherds and wisemen would worship Him.[7] Baby boys in Bethlehem would be slaughtered in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus.[8] His earthly parents would escape to Egypt and return after Herod the Great died.[9]

All of these predictions came true and these only surrounded His birth. All those concerning His earthly ministry, His death, burial and resurrection came true exactly as predicted. The odds of just those listed concerning His birth coming true are astronomical. Yet Jesus fulfilled every one of those things which were prophesied about His first coming. If that cannot convince the skeptics that the Bible is true, then they just do not want to believe.

More prophesies exist about His second coming than exist about His first coming. If the prophecies of His first advent were fulfilled with 100% accuracy, we can be certain that the prophecies concerning His second advent will be come to pass just as predicted. In fact, we see many of those taking place before our eyes.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time had access to all the prophecies concerning Jesus’ first coming, and they completely missed Him. He is coming again. How many today are so busy doing “religious” things that they will miss His second coming? Are you ready? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1] Genesis 49:10

[2]  Numbers 24:17

[3]  Isaiah 11:1 (Jesse was David’s father); 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Jeremiah 23:5-6;

[4]  Isaiah 9:6

[5]  Isaiah 7:14

[6]  Micah 5:2

[7]  Psalm 72:9-10

[8]  Jeremiah 31:15

[9]  Hosea 11:1

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Seven Lamps

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Revelation 4:5)

Recently, I started reading my Bible through again beginning with the New Testament, but this time in Spanish. I arrived at Apocalipsis (Revelation) Chapter 4, and Verse 5 gave me pause. I am reading in the Reina-Valera Revisión 1960, which translates επτα πνευματα του θεου (the seven spirits of God) as “los siete espíritus de Dios.” What caught my attention is that “espíritus” was in lower case suggesting this is NOT the Holy Spirit.

I cross-referenced my KJV (1873), and it too had “spirits” in lower case. However, my e-Sword[1] electronic Bible that resides on my computer, uses the 1769 KJV and it capitalizes “Spirits.” Seeing the difference between the 1769 and 1873 made me look to the original 1611; it capitalized “Spirits” – “the seuen Spirits of God.” Looking further back to the 1599 Geneva Bible (the one used by the Pilgrims), I found “spirits” in lower case. Finally, I looked at the Reina-Valera Revisión 1909 and found “Espíritus” capitalized.

Obviously, the translators cannot agree if the Greek πνευματα refers to the Holy Spirit or spirits in general. Spanish is notorious for putting in lower case most words that we in English normally capitalize, like days of the weeks, names of months, and reserving capitals mostly for proper names only. It could be argued that the problem with English was the lack of orthographical standardization prior to the 18th and 19th centuries so that the translators could not agree to capitalize or not.

The question remains, are “the seven spirits of God” the Holy Spirit or is this referring to something else? Throughout the NT, the Holy Spirit is always spoken of in the singular, never in the plural. The only possible exceptions are here in Revelation 4:5, and in Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 5:6. That the “spirits” belong to God is perfectly clear, but to conclude that they refer to the Holy Spirit is rather nebulous.

I looked to some reputable prophecy teachers for insight. Clarence Larkin, whose commentary on Revelation is the foundation upon which others build, completely overlooked Revelation 4:5. He commented extensively on Verse 4 and skipped right over to Verse 6.[2] Apparently, he was unconvinced one way or the other. Ed Hindson, Professor of Religion and Dean of the Institute of Biblical Studies at Liberty University commented, “The seven lamps of fire depict the seven Spirits of God (cf. 1:4)”[3] without any further explanation. Note too that he capitalizes “Spirits” indicating that he believes these to be the One referring only to Revelation 1:4 for support.

Let us examine that verse. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne” (Revelation 1:4, KJV 1769, emphasis mine). This is the first appearance of this phrase in the NT. Note the capitalization of “Spirits” for no apparent reason. Nothing in the text itself warrants the capitalization. For comparison, the 1873 KJV does not capitalize “spirits” nor does the 1611. The 1599 Geneva Bible does capitalize “Spirits” but adds a note which I will address later. So, we remain in a biblical fog on the meaning of “the seven spirits.”

Tim LaHaye, another well-respected prophecy teacher who is now in the presence of our Lord and knows all things perfectly now, suggested that “the seven Spirits of God” represent seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit as described in Isaiah 11:2: (1) the spirit of the Lord, (2) the spirit of wisdom, (3) the spirit of understanding, (4) the spirit of counsel, (5) the spirit of might, (6) the spirit of knowledge, and (7) the spirit of the fear of the Lord. LaHaye draws a convincing parallel of the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit, but why would John make such an ambiguous connection when elsewhere in the Revelation he refers to “the Spirit” in the singular?[4]

In all the 50 years that I have studied end-times prophecy, I have been taught and have come to believe that “the seven spirits of God” referred to the Holy Spirit. I am unconvinced now. Looking at this from a different perspective, I have arrived at the conclusion that “the seven spirits of God” represent the raptured churches that are before the throne of God. Here is how I arrive at this conclusion.

As I stated earlier, throughout the NT the Holy Spirit is always referred to in the singular, never in the plural. The Godhead a unified plurality composed of three single entities working separately and together simultaneously. (I know that is a difficult concept to grasp, but that is what the Bible teaches, and we must accept that by faith.) So, the Holy Spirit is always the Holy Spirit, not Holy Spirits. Therefore, in this verse (and also 1:4, 3:1 and 5:6), “the seven spirits of God” must refer to something else which helps explain the confusion about capitalization. Here’s what I think.

Revelation 4:5 says, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God” (KJV 1873, emphasis mine). Have we been introduced to seven lamps before this point? Yes, indeed we have; the first time John sees Jesus. “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks … The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:12, 20, emphasis mine).

Someone might well say, “There is a big difference between a “lamp” and a “candlestick” (some modern translations say lampstand). Amen (‘tis true)! John saw Jesus standing in the midst of seven candlesticks (lampstands) representing the seven churches Jesus would address. The word in the Greek is luchnia, which is a lampstand or candelabrum designed for supporting a lamp (or torch). In 4:5, John sees seven lamps before the throne. The Greek word there is lampas, which is a torch or lamp. Thayer’s Greek Definitions adds further, “a lamp, the flame of which is fed with oil.” Isn’t that interesting? Oil is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit.

So, on earth, John sees Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands designed to support lamps, i.e., flaming torches. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as a flame of fire. That could be a study on its own, but by way of example, the flaming bush that Moses confronted in the wilderness was the Spirit of God.[5] The Spirit of God was seen as a pillar of fire by night as the children of Israel wandered in the desert.[6] Later, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost, He appeared as “tongues of fire” over their heads.[7]

We know that the Holy Spirit indwells every true believer and by extension, He indwells every true church of Christ. So, as John sees Jesus in the midst of the seven churches (which represent all of His churches throughout the ages), he sees the lampstands, the churches, shining forth the lamps (torches) which are, in fact, One Spirit. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15, emphasis mine). Now, John does not describe the candlesticks as having torches. However, it seems silly to think that Jesus would be in the midst of lampstands with no lamps burning. That, in fact, would be rather sad because it would mean that the Holy Spirit was not in the Churches. Why then would Jesus be in their midst?

Jesus then addresses the seven churches, which represent the churches of all the ages, in chapters two and three. Now we come to Chapter 4. John says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:1-2). Every good prophecy teacher I know suggests that this represents the Rapture of the Church. The first three chapters dealt with the Church on earth at this present time. Now, John is called up to heaven and from this point on, the Church is no longer seen until the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and she returns to earth with Christ.[8]

This is John’s first vision of heaven and the first thing he sees is God on His throne surrounded by (among other things) “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (4:5). These seven lamps, I say, represent the seven churches that John saw on earth, which were raptured up with John when he heard the command, “Come up hither!” They are now just lamps. There is no further need for the lampstand, because they have done their job.

I found a note from the 1599 Geneva Bible on Revelation 1:4 very interesting. It says, “That is, from the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. This Spirit is one in person according to his subsistence: but in communication of his power, and in demonstration of his divine works in those seven churches, perfectly manifests himself as if there were many spirits, every one perfectly working in his own church” (emphasis mine). That goes along with what I have concluded.

Without completely rejecting the notion that “the seven spirits of God” refers to the Holy Spirit, I suggest that the “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” are the seven churches that are “the seven spirits of God” through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Notes:


[1]  e-Sword: Free Bible Study for the PC – https://e-sword.net/

[2]  Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation Illustrated, (The Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia, 1919), pp. 38-41.

[3]  Edward Hindson, The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, 2002), p. 59.

[4]  Revelation 1:10; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 11:11; 14:13; 22:17

[5]  Exodus 3:2

[6]  Exodus 13:21

[7]  Acts 2:1-4

[8]  Revelation 19

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Still Coming

… and said unto them, Occupy till I come.  (Luke 19:13)

As I wrote last week, “For many years now, I come to this time of year with a heightened sense of expectation.” More than ten years ago, I learned about the Feasts of the Lord.[1] By His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled first three spring feasts, and Pentecost fulfilled the fourth feast. The last three fall feasts remain unfulfilled, and the Feast of Trumpets comes first in that series. The Feast of Trumpets is significant because it heralds the new year. It is also a holy convocation announced by the blowing of trumpets that summons the people to the Temple.

The connection with the Feast of Trumpets and the Rapture of the Church comes by way of deduction derived from 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; and Revelation 4:1. These passages speak of the sound of a trumpet preceding the Rapture of the Church, so it seems logical that the call could come at the first fall feast that remains unfulfilled.

Although it might seem like a reasonable conclusion, the fact remains that nothing in Scripture tells us when the Rapture will take place. The Bible gives no signs to signal the Rapture. Instead, the Bible (the New Testament) teaches that the Rapture is imminent; it can happen at any time without warning. Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:44-46, emphasis mine).

In a different place, Jesus relayed a parable of a “A certain nobleman [representing Himself] went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:12-13, emphasis mine). Our “nobleman,” Jesus Christ, has gone to receive His kingdom and He has promised to return (John 14:1-3). We do not know when. In the meantime, He has commanded, “Occupy till I come.”

Another Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets, came and went again, and the trumpet did not sound to call us home, but Jesus did not tell us when He would return. He just told us to watch, wait, and occupy until He comes. When He does come for us, He expects to find us taking care of His business. What will He find us doing?

The Rapture is imminent. It comes without warning and without signs. However, the Second Coming does have signs, and we see many of the signs falling into place. The greatest of these signs is the miraculous rebirth of the nation of Israel. As the signs of the last days[2] increase in number and intensity, we know the time is near, and if the Second Coming of Christ is near, the Rapture is closer. Are you ready? Are you occupied in the task He has given you or are you distracted by the cares of the world? He did not come last Tuesday, or Wednesday, but He may come today. How will He find you?

Reader, if you do not know the Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


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

[2]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

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The End Is Not Yet

All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:8)

Jesus faced the final week of His earthly ministry, and the looming shadow of the cross lay just a few days ahead. He had just capped off His final conversation with the Jewish religious leaders with a scathing pronouncement. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:33-36, emphasis mine). That is a pretty harsh accusation coming from the sweet and gentle Jesus! He associated them with the original serpent in the Garden of Eden.[1] Notice too, that He claims to be the One who sends prophets to them. Is it not God who sends the prophets? Well, I believe that is the point!

When we study the Old Testament, we learn of God’s struggle and patience with Israel and Judah. Jesus takes on that role as well. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39, emphasis mine).

Jesus knows what lies ahead for Israel, and His disciples wanted to know that too. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Surprisingly, instead of launching right into a long discourse of the last days, Jesus issued a warning. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4, emphasis mine). It seems that the most outstanding feature of the last days is deception. Jesus speaks of wars and rumors of wars, ethnic group against ethnic group, and kingdom (country/nation) against kingdom, but that is just the beginning.[2] The main problem is deception. Jesus goes on to speak of the rise of false preachers and false christs, an increase in wickedness and the loss of love. These false christs and false prophets will perform wonders such that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,”[3] i.e., Christians.

We live in days of great deception. If you do not see it, you are either not paying attention, or you are deceived yourself. Our government lies to us. Our politicians lie to us. Government health agencies lie to us. The news media lie to us. We need to be alert and discerning these days to see the truth hidden among the lies.

The news media diverts our attention from the chaos around the world, but more importantly, the activity around the Middle East, the “cradle of civilization” and the focal point of end-times prophecy.

I follow several good end-times prophecy teachers, but one of my favorites is Amir Tsarfati,[4] founder and president of Behold Israel Ministry. Amir is a native Israeli and a reserve officer in the IDF (I believe he is a major, but not sure about his rank). His home in Israel overlooks the Jezreel Valley, aka, the Valley of Armageddon, so he has a very unique and acute perspective on end-times prophecy and how it relates to current events, especially in Israel and the Middle East. I follow Amir on the Telegram ™ app where he posts current events as they take place in the Middle East. The kind of coverage he provides will not be carried by the mainstream news media. For example, yesterday Amir shared this headline: “’War with Israel already started’ says Iranian FM spokesman: A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry told Maariv that a solution must be found for regional issues according to UN resolutions.”[5]

That is only one example. There are wars and rumors of wars all over the world. Since the fall of the great United States under the Biden regime, China is advancing undeterred on Taiwan, and making deals for lithium with the Taliban government of Afghanistan. North Korea is testing its hypersonic missiles. Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb, and threating Israel. Russia (Magog of Ezekiel 38) along with Turkey are well entrenched in Syria. Australia has gone totalitarian on its citizens (who cannot fight back because their firearms have been confiscated). To top it off, the world is invading our southern border.

With all of this going on, “the end is not yet.” In Matthew 24, Jesus describes the conditions before His second coming when He will set up His earthly reign for 1000 years.[6] What we are witnessing now are just “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). Things will get a lot worse during the seven-year Tribulation. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Except for the fact that we have friends and loved ones that are lost without Christ that will go through the Tribulation (if they do not die and go to hell first), Christians should not fear the trouble that is ahead for the rest of the world. Jesus promised, “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). We cannot know when that will be, but when we see what is taking place in the world, we can know that the time for our departure is very near.

Reader, if you are unsure of your prospect for eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 3:1

[2]  Matthew 24:6-7

[3]  Matthew 24:11-12, 23-24

[4]  https://beholdisrael.org/about/amir-tsarfati/

[5]  https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/war-with-israel-already-started-says-iranian-fm-spokesman-680796

[6]  Revelation 20:1-7

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