Welcome to Looking Up

The name of this blog is taken from Luke 21:28 where Jesus says: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Awaken Proph Upd 4-14-21 – New Age in Church

Awaken Bible Prophecy Update 4-14-21 – New Age in the Church

The church that Jesus Christ founded – that was birthed at Pentecost as described in the book of Acts – has been falling into apostasy for years.

Discussion points:

* New Age (generally)

* New Age Belief Summary

* Christian Yoga

* Enneagram in the Church

* New Age Consciousness

* My comments

Sources:

* New Age (generally)

http://www.christiananswersforthenewa…

* New Age Belief Summary

http://www.christiananswersforthenewa…

* Christian Yoga

http://www.christiananswersforthenewa…

* Enneagram in the Church

https://www.watch.org/subscribers/koe…

* New Age Consciousness

https://www.watch.org/subscribers/koe…

* My comments:

My website:

http://garyritter.com/

Amazon link for Awaken Bible Study Notes:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NDXFD51/

Luke 14:28 – Counting the Cost

It’s an astounding fact that western Christianity has largely made itself no Christianity at all.  How is it that we’ve come from the early church, in which the apostles and the followers of Jesus were severely persecuted, to a place where following Jesus is made to be like having a boy- or girlfriend?

In those days after the crucifixion of Jesus and for centuries afterwards, His disciples knew how difficult and costly it was to belong to Him.  Every single one of the apostles, except for John, were put to death by the authorities, often after extreme torture.  John himself suffered persecution, just not unto death.

The Roman emperors realized the menace Christianity was to the State.  When all citizens were required to bow down and worship Caesar, and the only ones who didn’t were the Christians, these absolute authorities saw that such dissent would cause them to lose power.  Since power and control were what they lived for, these heads of state had to destroy that which threatened their position.  Such thinking continued from the Roman Empire with its emperors to the Catholic church with its popes.  True Christianity demanded obedience to God alone; the Vatican required that people obeyed the pontiff as – supposedly – Christ’s representative on earth.  When Bible believing Christ-followers saw that the man at the top of the Catholic church was flawed and sinful and his decrees against the ways of God, those who loved the Lord had to stand against Rome’s way.  Persecution followed.

Jesus spared no warning when He spoke of how difficult it would be to follow Him.  In Luke 14:27-28 He said:

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

Bearing one’s cross and counting the cost aren’t words that speak of an easy life.  Of course, the cross in Jesus’ time was an instrument of torture by the Roman government.  Implying that someone must take such a burden of potentially being crucified required serious consideration on the part of a person thinking of following Jesus.  That was indeed an expensive cost.

Christ-followers in the 10/40 Window generally have that same decision to make.  The dynamics in Muslim, Hindu, and Communist countries demand that people follow those ideologies and religions exclusively.  Someone rejecting them and turning to Christianity knows how difficult this will be.  He’s seen it in the culture around him.  He’s observed how anyone declaring Jesus is Lord rather than Mohammad, thirty million gods, or no God at all brings down the wrath of friends, family, and the State.  He can lose everything, from his possessions, to his position, to his relationships, to his life.  He must do what Jesus said in Luke 14:33:

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

He must renounce everything and all expectations that this life will be easy.

Thus the question: How did Western Christianity evolve to the belief that – pick one:

  • This should be our best life now?
  • The gospel is about social justice?
  • Jesus demands that we worship the earth?
  • The Bible tells us that race and racial equity are the keys to heaven?
  • We can shape our own reality by thinking and saying the right things?
  • Etcetera

Seems like a perversion of what Jesus intended, doesn’t it?  Bad thinking, however, isn’t isolated to our current times.  When Saul became king in ancient Israel, Yahweh required certain acts of obedience from him.  Over the course of time, Saul proved that obeying the Word of God wasn’t his priority.  After failing to honor the Lord with the best of the spoils of war, and instead setting up a monument to himself (1 Samuel 15:12), Saul learned the price of these wrong actions when the prophet Samuel had to set him straight and declare the bad news to him.  In 1 Samuel 15:22-23 we see the consequences:

And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

    as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

    and to listen than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of divination,

    and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

    he has also rejected you from being king.”

We learn so much from these few verses:

  • Obedience is better than sacrifice
  • God equates rebellion to divination
  • To presume upon the graces of God is an immoral act that He likens to idolatry, i.e. following gods other than Him

Saul’s sins caused God to strip away the kingship of Israel from him.  And that brings us to another question.  Would the presumptions noted above for the Western church grieve God in a similar manner to how Saul caused Him sorrow?

For presumptions they are.  If Jesus died for the true Gospel, and the Western church is propagating a false gospel with little to no cost of discipleship, what will  God’s judgment be upon this false church with its aberrant Christianity?

Sadly, we already know the answer from Christ’s letter to Laodicea in Revelation 3:16.  Jesus says He “will spit [vomit] you out of My mouth.”

This is the norm today in our apostate church.  Many have fallen away and many more will depart from the faith.  On the other hand, there remain a faithful few – a remnant, if you will – who desire to follow our Lord at any cost.  If we are to see Him face-to-face and rejoice in doing so, shouldn’t we determine here and now to trust in Jesus whatever it costs?

1 Samuel 14:12 – Against All Odds

Early in the days of Saul’s kingship, the Philistines gathered a large army to come against Israel.  One contingent of this force camped upon a rocky plateau called Michmash, which provided a strategic advantage for the Philistines.  Upon seeing how powerful and well equipped this army was, the Israelites trembled in fear and hid themselves.

Wanting to prove himself worthy of leading Israel, Saul offered a burnt offering to the Lord.  Unfortunately, he was disobedient in this.  Samuel had told him to wait for him to come.  Because of his impatience, Saul didn’t wait the full seven days, “forced” himself to make the offering and received both Samuel’s and Yahweh’s condemnation for his foolish disobedience (1 Samuel 13:12-14).

Perhaps to prove God and Samuel wrong in their judgment of him, Saul brought his men to Michmash to fight the Philistines.  In those days, the Israelites had no swords because they had no blacksmiths under decree by Philistine.  Presumably Saul’s men had slingshots as some type of weapon!  Only Saul and his son Jonathan had swords.

Jonathan had to be quite young; the text doesn’t tell us, but he was likely 13-16 years old, and quite brash.  Along with his armor-bearer, he took a response to his challenge to the Philistines as a Word from God, and ascended the cliff to the Philistine encampment.  In 1 Samuel 14:12 we see how this played out:

And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”

Up Jonathan went with an astounding result as recounted in 1 Samuel 14:15:

And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.

This panic led to Saul bringing his forces against the Philistines and routing the enemy.  Now, there is more regarding Saul, his lack of wisdom in decreeing a foolish vow, and what subsequently occurred with Jonathan, but let’s move to later times.

During World War II, British forces in Israel (called Palestine at the time) were fighting Arab armies.  A Turkish regiment had strategic control over the region by having encamped on the heights of Michmash.  The circumstances were dire for the British, and the next day’s battle was crucial.  The night before that engagement, a British major was studying his Bible and ***coincidentally*** came across the account of Jonathan taking on the Philistines.

The major realized that their military situation was strategically exactly the same as what Scripture recounted with what Jonathan faced.  The enemy had the high ground and was positioned to destroy the opposing army.  The major consulted with his commanding officer and relayed how the Biblical narrative could provide the means for victory when there was seemingly no way for it to happen.  That night, the British forces climbed that same cliff that Jonathan had with his armor-bearer and surprised the Turkish garrison.  Against all odds they routed the Turks as they became confused and went into a great panic.  This became a turning point in the war for the British to defeat the Arab armies, ultimately leading to the formation of Israel as a nation on May 14, 1948.  This true event is recounted in the DVD series Against All Odds that describes this incident plus many others that show God’s protective hand upon His people Israel (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HC26L4M/).

The Bible tells us that Israel is God’s Promised Land and the Israelites His Chosen People.  His hand has been on Israel to accomplish His purposes ever since He called Abram out of Ur to be His special heritage.  God has intervened on behalf of Israel in the past, and He will do so in the future.  We do well to watch all that happens In Israel.  It is the key to God’s divine time clock, and how He will bring all His prophetic promises to fulfillment.

1 Samuel 12:21 – Empty Things

“And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (1 Samuel 12:21)

How the world loves to pursue empty things!  All of humanity has a void in their heart and seeks to fill it, yet they almost always seek to do so in ways that don’t include their God and Creator.  Since the Garden, men have desired to replace God with that which the world offers; not that which only He can give.  It creates a hopeless situation that leads to death, yet man doesn’t learn from his past and continues his useless journey.

Jesus came to fill that emptiness we all experience.  He proved that He alone was the One who could take away the ache and loneliness of mankind.  In His incarnation Jesus stressed the necessity for following Him and turning from the world when He said in Luke 13:24:

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

What is the narrow door?  Opposed to that, what is the wide door?

The narrow door is the one that Jesus showed leads to Him.  And where is He?  In heaven.  With God the Father.

Why is it that so many people desire – or at least say they desire – to go to heaven, yet have no interest in following Jesus?  That seems to be a contradiction and hypocrisy, doesn’t it?

To follow Jesus means to surrender who we are and to lay down our very human agendas.  In that, God requires we no longer exalt ourselves and the things of this world.  Rather, as we place what we want at the foot of the cross, we are to obey God’s commands.  It means that all of our faith be invested in Christ alone.  When we do this, we trust in God with believing loyalty, and we follow no other gods.  This is so contrary to human nature – our free will rebels against giving up the power, authority, and independence we think we have.  We are self-pleasuring creatures, and the notion that we must do what Someone else tells us is an intolerable thought.  The narrow door that Jesus spoke of has little appeal.  We’d rather turn aside after empty things that in our vain imaginations we believe are profitable.

Sadly, it is this turning aside that causes us to eagerly head toward the wide door.  Just like the people of Israel wanted a king so as to be like all the surrounding pagan nations (1 Samuel 8:5), men generally want to do what others are doing.  Despite thinking we want independence, we actually prefer to be exactly like everyone else.  In fact, as the mob gathers, we are drawn to it.  Instead of being that lonely person who resists the thinking and actions of the crowd, we meld with it and become part of the nameless, faceless entity that loses its ability to think.  We listen to the voices that stir us to rebellion against God’s way because that is our nature.  Having deceitful hearts, we love to be deceived.

The wide road is evident today as the world moves toward the Tribulation.  Authority says wear a mask, isolate yourselves from others, take a vaccine to be safe.  Isn’t there safety in numbers (as long as we don’t actually gather)?  Apparently, since so many blindly walk this expansive highway.

Those who have resisted and engaged in independent thought and research to seek the truth are mocked, vilified, and nullified.   Their voices are silenced so that those traveling the wide road won’t hear them.  Ignorance and arrogance feed on themselves.  They grow larger and more pronounced.  Their desire to persecute those in the opposition who don’t comply with the narrative increases by the day.

A vivid example of this is the church in Canada that has resisted their government’s mandate.  GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta continued to hold services despite the authorities demanding they shut down to supposedly prevent further spread of the Wuhan virus.  Their following God’s command to continue meeting was contrary to government policy.  The authorities punished the church’s pastor, James Coates, by throwing him into jail for 35 days and imposing a fine.

The church continued to meet.  They decided to enter the narrow door.  The week following their continued disobedience to government dictate by gathering on Palm and Easter Sundays, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) erected a double-layer fence around the property to prevent people from entering the premises, even going so far as to set up roadblocks against entry.  Faithful church-goers in response tore down the fence so they could worship, which they did outside (yesterday, as I write this).  For this affront, the government dispatched 200 armed troops.

This is Canada, part of the so-called free world.  It’s not China under a communist dictatorship.  Because this situation hasn’t yet completely played out, we don’t know how it will end.  I wonder what the troops would have done if they’d been at the church earlier in the day when the people tore down the fence so they could gather to worship?  Would they have fired on them?  Will such an atrocity still happen?

Look at where the wide door leads.  It opens to tyranny.  It’s at the end of an anti-God road that wants nothing more than to thwart the things of God and to punish His people.

What will happen as these kinds of situations develop in America?   They will, you know.  Will pastors and their churches stand against their overweening government like Pastor Coates and GraceLife Church?  Or will they, like so many did in Nazi Germany and under Soviet domination capitulate?  Will they say, “We follow God alone”?  Or will they say, “Of course we can embrace atheist communism”?  We’re drawing near to a tipping point.  Churches will soon have to decide their fate similar to this one in Canada.

The Bible tells us that most churches will succumb to worldly pressure.  They will complete their journey into apostasy, and in so doing, usher their people into the Tribulation.

1 Samuel 8:7 – Rejecting God

The mindset of the people in the Ancient Near East (ANE) was quite different from ours today.  This is a major reason that when we read the Bible, we need to do so with the mind of someone in ancient Israel.  If we don’t do that; if we read and judge from our modern perspective, there is much that we miss because we simply don’t understand what is going on.

We can see this fallacy in society today in our cancel culture.  People on the Left look at historical events through their own skewed lens of understanding that our schools have indoctrinated them with, and they cannot tolerate what they see.  They look at the past from the perspective of how they’ve been taught, deem it wrong (some of which may be), but then determine that what previously happened must be erased because it offends their sensibilities.  Rather than learn from history, they eradicate it and thus never understand how it has shaped them; it leaves them vulnerable to a future in which they repeat the mistakes of the past because they have no prior example.

In a sense, our church culture has done that same thing for years.  The teaching in seminaries and Bible colleges has been done from a position of superiority.  Because we are modern and so much smarter, that must mean that we know so much more than the ancients.  The pastors that are products of these institutions naturally have passed on what they’ve learned to their congregations.  What this means is that the people in churches read Scripture (if they read it at all) through a modern lens that has no comprehension of what people in the ANE thought and lived.

An example of how the ANE viewed life and all that happened through theological glasses shows clearly in the narrative of the Philistines capturing the ark of the covenant from the Israelites and the subsequent results.  Israel went out to battle the Philistines and were roundly defeated.  This was during the time of Judges and the people were far from God.  Regardless, they clamored for the ark, i.e. for the presence of Yahweh, to lead them in battle.  Eli’s corrupt sons brought out the ark, and when the Israelites saw it they gave a rousing cheer.  At that, 1 Samuel 4:7-8 tells us:

The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness.

Do you see how both the Israelites and the Philistines thought?  By having the ark with them Israel believed that Yahweh would lead them to victory.  Conversely, the Philistines had heard about Yahweh (in a convoluted way) and knew that He was exceedingly strong, having previously done the miraculous to deliver Israel from Egypt.  Both sides in this thinking in the ANE attributed all that happened to God or the gods.

As the narrative continues we constantly see this perspective in view.  The Philistines captured the ark and placed it before their god Dagon.  That didn’t work out so well, and they realized Yahweh was more powerful (1 Samuel 5:1-5).  From the ark’s presence, i.e. from Yahweh being in their midst, the Philistines believed (rightly) that He was the cause of the plague that came upon them, represented by the mice and the tumors.  What did they do?  They set the ark on a cart and gave the cows free reign.  If they headed back to Israel the Philistines were absolutely convinced that it would be God’s hand at work.  There was no thinking that any of these things would be coincidental.  Everything, good and bad, was the result of divine influence.

Of course, in the time of Judges, everyone in Israel did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).  When God brought Samuel into the position of Judge, upon seeing how Israel lamented their lack of Godly worship and by being under Philistine domination (1 Samuel 7:2), this is what how Samuel framed the situation in (1 Samuel 7:3-4):

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

Samuel understood the situation.  God was truly in charge.  The people had to change their ways if they wanted His intervention.  Once they had done that for a time, they gathered to sacrifice corporately to Yahweh.  The Philistines saw this as a threat and came against them.  But 1 Samuel 7:10 informs us what happened next:

As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel.

Can you even imagine what that thundering must have been like to cause such confusion?  Yahweh responded to the concerns and prayers of His people.  Once more their God had delivered them.

Despite such evidence that Yahweh was their true leader and protector, Israel inevitably sought elsewhere for stability.  Unfortunately, Samuel’s sons weren’t much better than Eli’s sons; Eli had been a poor role model for Samuel in this respect.  The people of israel saw that Samuel was getting up in years; they didn’t want his immoral sons leading them, and in 1 Samuel 8:5 they demanded:

“Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

This grieved Samuel, but God consoled him.  Yahweh told him a truth in 1 Samuel 8:7 that is as relevant today as it was then:

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”

Scripture depicts Israel as a theocracy, but one in which the God over the nation was never good enough for the people.  They wanted a king that they could see, just like they desired gods for which they could make idols and have something physical to worship.

Samuel warned the people what having a king – a man – over them would do to their lives.  He would cause them to serve him rather than direct their allegiance to Yahweh.  It didn’t matter; the desire to be like all the surrounding pagan nations was intense, and 1 Samuel 8:19-20 relates their response:

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

They wanted to “see” a man leading them into battle rather than have the “uncertainty” of an invisible God.  Yahweh might have been more powerful, but that was immaterial.  Seeing was believing; they couldn’t believe and see.

In our present day, we generally don’t look at the world as though God is always at work, shaping circumstances and working through the events we experience.  We don’t have the mindset of the ANE whereby either God or other gods significantly influence people and events.  Yet, shouldn’t we?

There is a highly active demonic spiritual hierarchy (Ephesians 6:12).  If God speaks to those who believe, don’t you think that other gods – demonic powers – speak to those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ?  Remember the image of an angel and a devil standing on someone’s shoulders and whispering in his ear?  Which one does he listen to and follow?  If he’s not a follower of Jesus, this person certainly isn’t heeding the Word of God; the word of the demonic spirit is much louder and convincing.  Perhaps if we understood the world by considering it in this context, we’d have a better idea as to how things work.  Aren’t we in a constant spiritual battle?  Of course, and this is how it happens.  The bad “angels” whisper in their followers’ ears, and these people do what they’re told, except they think the ideas they have originate from within themselves.

For our part, for Christians, don’t we – or shouldn’t we – operate in the same manner?  Doesn’t Romans 8:28 tell us:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Perhaps if we took this verse more to heart in how we live day-to-day, the shape of our lives would be different.  God is with us constantly.  He is in our midst.  He loves us.  Because of that, He’s working in and through us to bring about His will and purposes for our lives.

Perhaps if we acknowledged this and gave Him praise for all things, we’d see a very different world, with outcomes more in tune with God’s intent for us.

Luke 12:46 – Cut to Pieces

When I read Luke 12:35-48, sub-headed in the ESV as You Must Be Ready, the passage inevitably disturbs me.  Jesus was speaking to His disciples and relating a parable that reflected directly upon His return from heaven.  The parable deals with the master who has gone away for his wedding feast and the servants who remain waiting for him to return home.  In the telling, it raises several questions.

The first question is who is the master, and who are the servants?  Jesus specifically answers that in Luke 12:40 in referring to the Son of Man; He is speaking of Himself.  But who are the servants?  Before we get to that, a more basic reference must be addressed.  The master has gone away and is now coming back.  He was at his wedding feast; upon having celebrated that, he returns home.  What is the wedding feast?  Is it a relevant reference here?  Where is home?

From the presumably parallel passage in Matthew 22, it appears that this aspect of the wedding feast is key.  The master has gotten married and has enjoyed the marriage celebration.  With all that done, he makes his way to his place of residence.  The servants then are those who are part of his household where he dwells; they are not people outside his house, i.e. strangers, in any way.

Are these servants the people of Israel or believers in the church?  Why does the text tell us several times about their need to be awake, alert, and waiting?

Bible experts, certainly more versed than me, point to this parable as referring to when Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation.  He has consummated His wedding with the Bride – the church – and is now returning with her to His native land of Israel for the final reckoning that will occur during the White Throne Judgment; where sheep and goats are separated, with some given over to glory and others to eternal damnation.

I see all that and some of the context makes sense to me, but not all.  If the wedding celebration is indeed the same one as described in Matthew 22, then it is certainly the final accounting of those in Israel.  But, here’s what disturbs me about this – of which, I could be totally off base: Why does Jesus stress the need to be alert and expectant for His return?  During the Tribulation will those Jews who have become believers – the servants – grow bored, fall asleep, or turn to violence against others?  It seems as if all of these would be expecting the Messiah’s return because of how deeply the Holy Spirit has convicted them.  In this telling of the parable relating to the end of the Tribulation, how is it that the time of Jesus coming back is unknown, unexpected, like the thief in the night?  Wouldn’t you think by this time that Jewish converts would be on the edge of their seats waiting for their King?

Now I get it; applying this parable to the church has a problem.  If the wedding feast is key, then the church has already been taken from earth in the Rapture and enjoyed seven years with Jesus as His Bride.  But, let’s set the wedding feast aside for just a moment and consider this parable as relating to the church.

Elsewhere in Scripture, church age believers (“brothers”) are told to be ready for the Lord to come as a thief in the night (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:2-9).  This is for good reason.  The Rapture of the church is described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 as an imminent event; it could happen at any time, just as the timing of a thief entering a house in the dead of night is unexpected.  What I’m saying is that the language in this passage in Luke has many earmarks of applying to the pre-Tribulation Rapture as to when it seemingly occurs.:

Luke 12:37: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.”

Luke 12:40: “You also must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Luke 12:43: “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.”

Luke 12:46: “And the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know.”

Is it only me who sees this as more Rapture-like than that of the 2nd Coming at the end of the Tribulation when the timing of Jesus’ return can effectively be calculated and known?

The other disturbing descriptions deal with those servants – again, presumably, believers as opposed to Israelites? – who aren’t alert, waiting, watchful, and eagerly expectant for Jesus’ return.  The ones who are ready are blessed, as Luke 12:43 above notes.  They get the rewards because their master is exceptionally pleased with them.

If we’re talking about the church, then those who are asleep, i.e. those who don’t study Bible prophecy or ignore it, would fall into the unfaithful category.  When Jesus comes and they are oblivious to the concept that He will return in an imminent way, don’t care, or are backslidden and acting carnally, the consequences are extreme.  The final phrase of Luke 12:46 reads:

… and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.

This is someone who should have been faithful, but wasn’t.

Look at the final verses in Luke 12:47-48:

“And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

Here, we have a servant who knows what is coming, but neglects it, and a servant who was ignorant, thus didn’t know.  The one who has the knowledge but refuses to act on it is treated more harshly than the one who never learned in the first place.

Haven’t we in the church been given much?  Shouldn’t more be required of us since we have the entire Word of God with all the prophetic warnings?  Weren’t we entrusted with this precious gift?  It just seems like at this point in time, for this to refer to Israel is problematic.  In the past, yes; God showed them extensively who He is.  But Israelites today, by and large, are simply not tuned into an expectant waiting for Messiah.

For me, another question arises with the next passage with the sub-head: Not Peace, but Division in Luke 12:49-53:

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

This certainly deals with how people throughout the world receive Jesus.  In every strata of society, in every nation on earth, there will be those who follow Jesus and those who reject Him.  The church is supposed to be unified, but nobody can say that it is in any real respect, given the denominational and doctrinal differences.  Is there conflict between churches and believers because of this where families are actually divided?  Could Jesus’ statement here also be a reflection of Christianity?  I can tell you as a pre-Tribulation Rapture believer and teacher, there have been multiple times when post-Tribbers have verbally attacked me.  They’ve called my pre-Trib belief satanic, with it being a doctrine of demons.  Believe me, as a small fish in this pond, I’m not the only one so attacked.  Others who are quite prominent in the pre-Trib belief community have been pummeled by those who for some reason cannot stomach the thought of a pre-Tribulation Rapture.

Is there a connection between this description of division with the earlier passage we considered?  Could the servants in Jesus’ parable be among those whom He said would be divided?  If the unfaithful servants are actually part of the church, i.e. believers, isn’t the punishment for their not being ready for the Rapture a disturbing thought?  How might it be possible that Jesus would cut them into pieces and put them with the unfaithful?

Listen, I don’t know the answers to some of these concerns I’ve raised.  The one thing I do know is that we should heed what Jesus tells us to do in Luke 21:28:

“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

If we do this, then none of us – whether church or Israel, pre-Trib or post-Trib Rapture believers – will have anything to worry about.  If we keep our eyes on the Lord and expect Him imminently, all will be good.

1 Samuel 2:15-16 – Corrupt & Ungodly

The book of 1 Samuel gives us a glimpse into the condition of the priesthood in the days of the Judges.  God had been silent, as the Word of the Lord was rare (1 Samuel 3:1).  When we look at Eli and his worthless sons who ministered as priests, we can certainly see the reason this was the case.

Hannah was a Godly woman.  Her husband loved her, but the fact that he also had another wife was contrary to God’s plan for monogamy in marriage.  It’s easy to see why in this situation.  The ungodly wife tormented Hannah because she was barren.  Penninah lorded it over Hannah, since she had borne children – thinking she was blessed and favored by Yahweh – whereas Hannah wasn’t; thus earning derision.

Over time, as the family went up to Shiloh for their yearly sacrifice, Hannah continually prayed for fertility.  On one such occasion Eli the priest noticed her pouring out her heart before the altar of God.  Eli wasn’t very discerning.  He thought Hannah was drunk.  After she graciously set him straight, Eli blessed her desires in God’s Name.

Subsequently, Hannah did become pregnant.  Since she had vowed before the Lord that this firstfruit of her womb would be dedicated to Yahweh, once she weaned the child she brought him up to Shiloh for him to be raised as a Nazarite, holy to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11).

Eli’s sons were a piece of work.  As 1 Samuel 2:12 informs us:

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.

In this corrupt and ungodly condition, they served the Lord.  But, how can anyone who doesn’t know God actually serve Him faithfully and from his heart?  These men certainly didn’t.

In the animal sacrificial system of the Israelites, the fat of the offering was holy to the Lord.  We see this in Leviticus 7:1-5:

“This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the guilt offering, and its blood shall be thrown against the sides of the altar. And all its fat shall be offered, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering to the Lord; it is a guilt offering.”

And there was a severe penalty for not obeying this command as shown in Leviticus:22-27:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no fat, of ox or sheep or goat. The fat of an animal that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn by beasts may be put to any other use, but on no account shall you eat it. For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the Lord shall be cut off from his people. Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”

Yet, what did Eli’s sons do?  They operated contrary to God’s will.  1 Samuel 2:15-16 outlines this:

Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.”

You can be assured that this was not pleasing to Yahweh.

Indeed, Eli knew all about the evil his sons perpetrated as supposed men of God, even to the extent of serious immorality, as 1 Samuel 2:22 describes:

Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

The text tells us that Eli spoke to his sons about these actions, but it’s obvious he had neglected to truly raise them in the way of the Lord.  His reprimand was tepid at best and had no teeth.  As a result, the wickedness in the house of Eli earned God’s wrath, and He determined to put the sons to death (1 Samuel 2:25).

It took a true – unnamed – man of God coming to the temple to declare God’s displeasure upon Eli and his sons and the consequence for how they had scorned Yahweh.  He declared the judgment that the sons would both die in a single day.  Later, when the Word of the Lord came to Samuel as a youngster and the time of this penalty approached, we see how little it worried Eli.  He essentially shrugged it off, saying in 1 Samuel 3:18 when Samuel related what would soon happen:

“It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”

This impending doom didn’t seem to bother him much.  Perhaps, since he was so far from the Lord in his relationship, Eli didn’t really believe Yahweh would carry out His Word.

The parallels to churches  and their leaders today shouldn’t be missed.  We are in the midst of a great apostasy with people turning from God left and right.  This wouldn’t be happening were it not for the congregations being led astray by the pastors and priests in charge of their flocks first heading down this wide road into unbelief.

I personally believe that a significant contributor to this condition is the lack of teaching regarding Bible prophecy.  If seminaries and Bible schools taught this 1/3 of the Scripture, and their students – the pastors and priests – took it to heart and conveyed it to their congregations, there might not have been such disdain for the plans and purposes of God.  And, let’s be honest.  There is contempt for Bible prophecy throughout Christendom.

Church leaders and their followers simply don’t believe what God has said will happen.  They are like Eli.  They have little regard for the truth of God’s Word and His warnings.  Instead, they follow their own inclinations.  It has left the church barren and asleep.  It also will cause great distress when God acts upon His Word – which He will.

God gave us the forewarnings of Bible prophecy for a reason.  We neglect them at our own peril.  This deliberate avoidance of God’s prophetic Word will have consequences.  It leaves people ignorant and unprepared for what is to come.  Some will likely also be left behind when the Rapture occurs, because they never learned the fear of God that serious Bible prophecy teaching can instill.

It’s as Jesus said in Luke 12:15:

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

This is not our best life now.  We should not consider it as such, contrary to the teaching of many prominent pastors.  Instead, as Jesus also said a little earlier in Luke 12:5:

“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

Perhaps with this attitude that provides a holy fear of God, many would be spared from eternal torment, but also from the wrath that God will soon unleash upon this unbelieving world.  Sadly, I fear that many – being misled – will soon face this most ungodly of times.

We who know and understand the prophetic significance of God’s Word will do well to be watchmen on the wall and attempt to reach others so as to warn them.

Luke 11:50-51 – The Doomed Generation

On the heels of Jesus describing the people of His time as an evil generation because they sought a sign from God – despite having seen many signs from Yahweh in the person of Jesus – He condemned them.  He said that the queen of Sheba and the men of Nineveh would rise up in judgment over the people of Israel, but more pronouncements of doom were coming (Luke 11:29-32).

When Jesus sat down to eat with a Pharisee, who then criticized Him for not adhering to their religious traditions and practices, He told him clearly how God saw this ruling elite, and it wasn’t good.  In fact, their heart condition in the presence of God Himself would cause Him to pour down wrath upon them as a people..

Kind and gentle, loving Jesus, who would never say anything to harm the delicate ears of anyone (yes, I’m being cynical and speaking of those who preach only a Jesus of love, grace, and tolerance) first called the Pharisees fools.  Their greed and wickedness permeated them from the inside out; God saw it, and He wasn’t pleased at the results.  Although Luke doesn’t record this first statement by Jesus as a woe, it surely was.

Jesus went on to declare six more woes, making a total of seven (God’s perfect number, showing how short man falls; the significance of this is extreme in this instance).  The remaining woes were as follows:

  1. Addressed to the Pharisees for the manner in which they tithed.  They gave on every last part of all their crops, but neglected justice and love.
  2. Addressed to the Pharisees for their pride in loving the acclaim of the people.
  3. Addressed to the Pharisees for the spiritual death that radiated off them, just as physical death caused a Jew to become unclean.
  4. Addressed to the lawyers for how they burdened people with laws and made themselves exempt.
  5. Addressed to the lawyers for righteously burying the prophets of old, yet the guilt of their fathers fell upon them for having killed those prophets.
  6. Addressed to the lawyers for teaching people what they didn’t need, thereby hindering them from entering the Kingdom of God.

All seven of these woes had accumulated over the years and built up a store of wrath.  The fifth woe, however, seems especially significant.  Time after time God’s children shed the blood of the prophets that He had sent to them.  Jesus appeared to lump Cain with all the people of Israel despite his not being a Jew nor technically part of God’s Chosen People (as that designation didn’t come about until much later).  Cain killed Abel.  His blood cried out from the ground for justice.  Because of the lineage of mankind descending from Cain, God saw Cain’s sin in the same light as that which apparently caused the death of Zechariah.  Jesus referred to Abel as a prophet, just as Zechariah was.  For these men whom God designated and sent as His representatives on earth, those whose hands were drenched in their blood earned special wrath from God.  And in Luke 11:50-51 Jesus describes the bad news:

“… so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.”

The generation that Jesus spoke of was the one of which He was a part.  He singled out the people of His day.  Not long after, Jesus articulated why in Luke 19:44:

“… and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

It was this generation among whom Jesus walked who missed His visitation.  In other words, they didn’t recognize Emmanuel – God with us.  Yahweh walked in their midst but they rejected Him.  For their spiritual blindness that particular generation earned God’s wrath that perpetuated through the millennia.  Recall that just before He was crucified, the people called for His death.  Matthew 27:25 shows how they did it:

And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

They actually called down a curse upon themselves.

That curse has remained to this day.  God has blinded the Jewish people as seen in John 12:40:

“He has blinded their eyes

    and hardened their heart,

lest they see with their eyes,

    and understand with their heart, and turn,

    and I would heal them.”

This is in contrast to Satan’s actions upon the rest of the world as 2 Corinthians 4:4 shows:

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Isn’t that interesting?  God blinded His own people for their rejection of Jesus, whereas it is Satan who blinds unbelievers elsewhere (i.e. Gentiles) who aren’t Jews.  This is part and parcel of the special attention that God gives Israel and will do even more so in the Tribulation.

Once the church has been Raptured, God turns His focus on Israel.  He desires for His own children to love and honor Him.  They ultimately will, but their final years before that happens will perhaps be worse than all the time since they killed Jesus.  However, we know that God’s mercy will prevail in the end.  As Paul says in Romans 11:26, “all Israel will be saved.

We know from the description of this time in Zechariah 13:8 that this actually means that those who are saved are the 1/3 remnant that remains at the end of the Tribulation.  But, at that time, something glorious happens.  The next verse, Zechariah 13:9 describes it:

“And I will put this third into the fire,

    and refine them as one refines silver,

    and test them as gold is tested.

They will call upon my name,

    and I will answer them.

I will say, ‘They are my people’;

    and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

The curse that fell upon the Jewish people in the time of Jesus’ generation will finally be lifted.  They will declare that Jesus – Yeshua – is Messiah.  On that marvelous day, just as Jesus declared in Matthew 23:39 (also in Psalm 118:26), the people of Israel will say:

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Awaken Prophecy Update 4-7-21 – MMT Disaster

Awaken Bible Prophecy Update 4-7-21 – MMT Disaster

Discussion points:

Review of article by Jim Rickards –

* Introduction

* What is MMT?

* Money is no object

* Isn’t excessive debt a bad thing?

* The PAYGO system

* Here’s what’s wrong with MMT

* Who needs the bond market?

* What about the banks?

* The future of MMT

* What investors (and everyone else) should do right now

* My commentary

 

 

Subscription source: https://paradigm.press/2021/02/25/an-economic-disaster-prepare-now-for-the-rise-and-fall-of-modern-monetary-theory/?pdf=1

 

Judges 20:35 – Destruction of Benjamin

The final events in the book of Judges 19-21 are among the most grievous in Scripture.  From a human perspective, it also seems to make little sense how God operated.  If you’re like me, perhaps you come away from the narrative scratching your head and wondering what God had in mind the way everything transpired.

We get a glimpse in this account of the wickedness that prevailed throughout Israel during this period, particularly within the tribe of Benjamin.  Their actions remind us of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The men were satisfied to have forced sexual relations with either another man or a woman; it didn’t matter.  Worse, their collective lust was so great that the life of the one whom they ravished had no value.  In this case, the Levite’s concubine died at their hands following a night of pure horror for her.

The Levite’s actions in response were no less eye-opening.  When he returned home with the concubine’s body, he cut her into pieces and sent those parts throughout Israel to all twelve tribes.  The shock of receiving these body parts produced outrage, which is what the Levite desired.  When the tribes came together to understand this evil, they learned of Benjamin’s crime.  The Levite intended to stir up revenge against the perpetrators, and he did.  The Benjamites, rather than hand over the guilty men, defended them, and all Israel went to war: the eleven tribes against Benjamin.

In any normal circumstance, the odds that Benjamin faced were overwhelming.  They had 26,000 men of war, while Israel in opposition had 400,000 men.  In addition to that enormous difference in troops, Israel actually inquired of the Lord, doing so three times in this episode.  That’s unusual in itself during this period, but with each inquiry, Yahweh told Israel to go against their brother Benjamin.

To Israel’s surprise in their first two forays, their losses against Benjamin were staggering.  Benjamin seemingly lost not a single man in the initial two battles, while Israel with – 15 times the manpower – lost 40,000 troops.  It was only on the third try in coming against Benjamin that Israel prevailed with limited losses and destroyed the Benjamite army as noted in Judges 20:35:

And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the people of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who drew the sword.

This left Benjamin with only a handful of men remaining in the entire tribe.  It grieved Israel, as they realized that God had purposed the nation to have twelve tribes, and the loss of Benjamin would destroy what He intended.  This made them have compassion for the remainder of Benjamin.  Because of Israel’s vow not to provide them with wives, they had a problem.  However, they found a way to circumvent their vow and all the remaining men of Benjamin ended up with wives.  This event is the reason why Saul in 1 Kings 9:21 later refers to Benjamin as the smallest tribe of Israel.

The book ends on this note with the reminder once more in Judges 21:25 that:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

It was a period of great apostasy.  Yahweh was little thought of, and His ways were certainly far from those of the inhabitants of the land.  The Bible shows us that God allowed these circumstances to occur.  Men made their own choices and lived their lives without regard for the Law that Yahweh had given them.

The question that arises is why did God let these things happen?  What do we learn from them?

Several lessons come to mind:

  1. The book of Judges illustrates the free will of men.  If God were directing the decisions of mankind in a Calvinistic manner, He would have allowed none of this.  If He had with that theological understanding that advocates predestination, then He would be responsible for, i.e. the initiator of, all the evil that occurred.  That’s certainly not the case, as we know that’s not God’s character.
  2. It appears that God allowed these events and then orchestrated the final outcome so that Israel would see that their wickedness had consequences.  When men went their own way and gave in to the deceitfulness of their heart, terrible things happened.  This may have been one of the factors in looking at their history as a nation that prompted the Pharisees by the time of Jesus to enact such strict legalism in their religious practices.  They had seen what happened when Israel neglected the Law of Moses, so they put severe restraints in place so that the people would follow what God decreed.  Of course, we know that morality cannot be legislated, which is essentially what the Pharisees tried to do.  Man’s heart must be changed from the inside.  Outward laws cannot change the heart of man.
  3. Finally, why God allowed this to play out as it did remains a puzzle.  Why did He permit Israel to lose so many men before He gave them the victory over Benjamin?  They actually did what they were supposed to do by inquiring of Him.  He gave Israel the go-ahead to fight, yet Benjamin’s first two victories appear to have been supernaturally orchestrated for them not to lose a single man.  On the surface it makes no sense.  We come away from that by realizing that God has a big picture view that we don’t have with our human limitations.  He had His reasons, and we don’t have a clue.

The one bottom line we take away from Judges is that when man does what appears right in his own estimation, that’s not necessarily in accord with what God intends.  Yet, He allows us to make our mistakes so that, hopefully, we eventually learn from them.  Only by surrendering our prideful thinking that we know best can God finally get a Word in edgewise to inform us otherwise.  In addition, we typically have to reach rock bottom to let go of our presumptions for us to let God intervene for our good.

He truly knows what is best for us.  How much better it is when we live life His way!