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Pressed Three Times

First-century olive press in Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (Matthew 26:36)

We recently returned from our first “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land. If I never check off another item on my “bucket list,” this is enough. To walk in the land where God stamped His name defies description, so I will not even try. God assumed human form and traversed this land from Jerusalem to the Galilee; we also set foot on many of the same places.

On one of those stops, we visited the ruins of the city of Capernaum. Jesus made this city His “headquarters” as He ministered around the Sea of Galilee. Peter made his home here as did Andrew, his brother, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Here He called Levi (Matthew) away from the customs table to follow Him (Mark 2:1, 14). Capernaum was the site of many of Jesus’ miracles, yet the people did not believe (John 6:26-29); therefore Jesus cursed the city (Matthew 11:23-24). The city came to ruin from an earthquake the leveled it in 749 A.D.

In 1838, American explorer Edward Robinson discovered the ruins of ancient Capernaum,[1] and excavations at the site continue to the present. One of the more interesting finds uncovered at the site is an ancient olive press dating back to the first century. This olive press would have been used in Capernaum when Jesus lived there.

Olives growing on an olive tree on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel

Olives, besides being good to eat, produce oil useful for many purposes. Extracting the oil from the olives required three pressings.[2] The first pressing extracted the purest “virgin” olive oil used for lighting the menorah and other lamps in the Temple. It was also for ceremonial anointing of special servants of God such as priests (Exodus 28:41; 29:4-7), kings (1 Samuel 15:1; 16:12-13), and also for the implements used in the Temple (Exodus 40:9). After extracting the virgin olive oil, the crushed olives were placed into burlap sacks, which were placed in the mortar table for a second pressing. A heavy weight was then added to the pestle wheel. The second pressing produced less pure oil suitable for common use such as cooking, medicine, and fuel for lamps. More weight was then added to the wheel for the third and final pressing, which extracted lye for making soap. At this point, the olives had nothing left to give.

In Jerusalem to the east of the Temple, across the Kidron Valley, rises a hill that has large olive groves aptly named the Mount of Olives or Olivet.

The Dome of the Rock stands where the Temple used to be in Jesus’ day. Across the Kidron Valley is the Mount of Olives where the Garden of Gethsemane was located.

In Jesus’ day, amongst the olive trees, there was a garden that had an olive press. The name of the garden was Gethsemane, which means oil press. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus went there to pray with His disciples. He left eight of His disciples further down the hill, but His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, He took up to the place of pressing. “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38, emphasis mine). He knew way lay ahead for Him. The physical pain and agony He knew awaited Him would make any man seek to escape, but that was not what pressed on Him. He was God in the flesh. He was sinless. Soon, the sin of all mankind would fall on Him. Soon that sin would sever His relationship with the Father. “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis mine). He returned to His closest disciples only to find them sleeping (Matthew 26:40-41). The first press was done. “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42, emphasis mine.). “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43). “And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy” (Matthew 26:43). The second press was complete. “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44, emphasis mine). “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44, emphasis mine). “Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26:45). He gave all He had to give. With the final press completed, He said, “Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:46, emphasis mine). He did not wait for His accusers to find Him. He went out to meet them!

There in the Garden of the Olive Press, He was pressed three times, and He gave His all. He gave up His anointing as King. He gave up His human body – the only suitable sacrifice for sin. He gave the last dregs of His being to cleanse us from our sins, and open the way to eternal life with Him, if we will only accept His sacrifice.

Reader, if you do not know Jesus who gave His all for you, do not delay any longer. Soon He will return, or you may otherwise meet your end. Either way, it will be too late. “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, …” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Read my page on Heaven.

Notes:


[1]  “Capernaum” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capernaum

[2]  “Oil Presses in the Holy Land” – http://www.biblewalks.com/Info/OilPresses.html

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Now’s A Good Time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:


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

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

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

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

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

[6]  Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prophecy Snobs

 

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)

I admit it! I am expecting and am excited about the possibility of my Lord’s return in the very near future. I have written, on and off, about this in the past, but more often here lately.[1] Let me be clear; I DO NOT KNOW when Christ is coming back, and neither does anyone else. Anyone who even suggests that he or she knows the date of Christ’s return, should be viewed with a good measure of skepticism, but perhaps not altogether rejected. I believe that if it “sounds” plausible, according to Scripture, then I will watch and see if it pans out.

God gave the test for a true prophet. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22, emphasis mine). God did not say to reject the message, but rather to watch and see if it happens. If it does not happen, then discount that one as a false prophet.

The popularity of end-times prophecy has increased over the last few years. I have been a “student” of end-times prophecy since the first time I read The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey in the early 1970’s.  Hal Lindsey offered some “suggestions” about future events that did not come to pass, and he later had to make “adjustments” to his theories. However, Lindsey never made any dogmatic, “Thus saith the Lord” statements or set specific dates for Christ’s return. Rather, he offered his “opinions” based on his understanding of Scripture, and his perspective on world events. That does not make him a false prophet. He, like many of us, is obeying the Lord’s command to “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42, emphasis mine). Hal Lindsey, like many others, takes notice of the “signs of the times,” compares them to the prophecies recorded in Scripture, and attempts to discern the proximity of the Lord’s return. Jesus told us to do that! Sometimes he gets it right; sometimes he misses. There is nothing wrong with that. The prophet Daniel wanted to know more detail about the end-times, but he was told, “… thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis mine). That tells me that the nearer we get to that time, the clearer the signs will become. No one knows the time with absolute certainty, but I believe we can get a pretty good clue.

Recently a fellow blogger, whom I admire and respect, blogged about some who seem to be setting a date for the Rapture saying that their “presumption” is rooted in “pride.” These “stargazers” (I shall call them for lack of a better term) have made a “big deal” of an astral phenomenon that will take place over the skies of Jerusalem on September 23, 2017.  (I have written about this already so I will not go into detail here.)[2] On that date, according to the stargazers, there will be a conjunction of stars and planets that will form what appears to be the vision that John saw in Revelation 12:1-5. They use a software program called “Stellarium”[3] Because Stellarium allows the user to move backward and forward in time, they have verified (so they say) that this is a once-in-7000-year event. However, the accuracy of their claim is not without its detractors.[4] I have listened to several YouTube presentations[5] by these stargazers[6] and the common refrain I hear is, “I am not a date-setter;” however they do strongly suggest that September 23, 2017, is a good possibility for the Rapture. What I do not hear them say is that the Rapture will take place on September 23, 2017. That said, those who hear the message will hear what they want to hear. However, based on current world events and the convergence of other “signs of the times,” they make plausible arguments. I take the position of one who will watch and see. If nothing happens on that date, I will not be one to accuse these men of being false prophets because I have not heard them affirm, “Thus saith the Lord.” Like Hal Lindsey and others in the past, they only suggest the possibility.

To my friend the blogger I would say that I do not regard their “prediction” as “prideful” because they all understand very well that they could be wrong. Moreover, if they are right, and the Rapture does occur on that date, to whom will they boast? – “See! I told you!” There will be no boasting when they see Jesus. All I see in these men is that they are anxiously hopeful that Jesus will soon return, and I share that excitement.

By this time, you may be wondering about the title of this article. As I pointed out earlier, there is much talk these days about the Rapture and end-time prophecy. Sadly, I see pride on display with many end-time prophecy ministries. If I named them, you who follow such would recognize many of them. They all take positions that their view is the right one and others are “less informed” (as if they know). There is a camp that believes the Church will go through part or all of the Tribulation. (I used to think that was a possibility.) I will call them “Arapturists” for “no Rapture” These Arapturists reprimand those who hold to the pre-Tribulation Rapture for giving the Church the false hope of escapism rather than preparing the Church for facing the coming Tribulation. If they are right (and I do not believe they are), their concern is understandable. However, the “Pre-Tribers” complain that the Arapturists have become vicious in their attacks on them. Yet the Pre-Tribers attack the stargazers as false prophets (who are Pre-Tribers themselves). This they do without fully investigating the claims of the stargazers. To their credit, I have yet to hear a stargazer criticize the other camps. They merely present their arguments according to their understanding of Scripture knowing that there are other reasonable views. That is as it should be.

There is no place for prophecy snobs when it comes to end-times prophecy.  NOBODY KNOWS FOR SURE! As Christians, we all look forward to Christ’s return and His coming kingdom, but none of us has all the answers. I believe we all have a partial knowledge as Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, emphasis mine). That does not mean we should stop looking or become a scoffer (2 Peter 3:3-4).  Jesus said that we can “discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3), and He provided many clues. Then He exhorted us to “watch” (Matthew 24:42). Surely, He would not have given that command, without giving us something for which to watch! There are lazy Christians that do not want to exert the effort to “watch.” Their source verse to support their laziness is, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36, emphasis mine). I would remind them that Jesus said that in His earthly body that He purposefully limited (Philippians 2:7). He is now ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father (Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians  3:1;  Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; 12;2, et al.). Given that, can we still believe that Jesus, being fully God, still does not know the time of His return! Nonsense! When John saw Jesus in the Revelation, he received “updated” information that he passed on to us. Our task is to study those things, consider all the possibilities, and WATCH!

Notes:


[1] Look to the column on the right under the heading “Categories” and select the topics, “End Times,” “Second Coming of Christ,” or, in the “Search” box at the top of the column, type in the word “Rapture” or “Tribulation.”

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

[3]  Free software available at http://www.stellarium.org/

[4]  Danny Faulkner, Astrophysicist at Answers in Genesis opines in this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=DtMxiwCUBVY&app=desktop

[5]  The reader can go to http://YouTube.com and search for “Revelation 12 Sign”

[6]  On YouTube, look for videos by Robert Breaker, Steve Cioccolanti, Scott Clarke. These seem to be very sound in their teaching.

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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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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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