1 Thessalonians 4:18 – Encourage One Another

There is much misunderstanding about God’s intent with the church in these latter days, whether ignorant or willful.  People seem to forget or disregard that true believers are the Bride of Christ.  The truth of the matter is that we are special.  God has graciously given us the gift of His beloved Son to be joined with Him forever.  We who have freely chosen to place our trust in Him are given certain privileges that no one else outside of Christ has.  Scripture declares this again and again.

Most believers accept this and acknowledge that we are the elect of Christ.  We have a positional relationship with Him that is absolutely unique and without precedence.  God loves us.  Jesus is our Savior and Lord.  He is our older brother and bridegroom.  God has grafted us into His family.  We are adopted children in the Lord.  Given this understanding, you would think that we would have uniform agreement as to the character of God.  Surely, for those of us walking in obedience to Him, there is no need for His correction or rebuke, let alone for punishment.  Why is one punished and receives the wrath of God?  It’s because he was disobedient, engaged in sexual immorality, followed idols, or chose any path but the one which leads through the straight gate.  This is clearly seen through the witness of Israel in the Old Testament.

Why then, if these are the reasons to be on the receiving end of God’s anger, do New Testament believers think we must go through some or all of the Tribulation?  When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonika, he certainly didn’t believe those saints were destined to endure God’s wrath.  He taught them for a limited time, only about three weeks, yet he made sure they knew about the hope of the return of Jesus.  For that reason, he urged them multiple times to obey God in all they did.  We see this in several verses of 1 Thessalonians 4:

v1 – how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more

v3 – that you abstain from sexual immorality

v4 – that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor

v5 – not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles

v6 – that no one transgress and wrong his brother

v7 – God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness

v8 – whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God

v9 – you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another

v10 – we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more

What was Paul’s reason for emphasizing righteousness in this church to the extent that he did?  It was because of what he had taught about the promise of hope they had in Jesus Christ.  In fact, they were so concerned about this that they asked Paul about their believing loved ones who had died.  Did they have the same promise of resurrection and redemption from this earth as the living believers did?

Paul had to remind them that he had spoken of this while there teaching them.  Just so they had no doubts, he reiterated that teaching so that they wouldn’t be uninformed (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  In this epistle he declared that all would rise when Christ returned, first those asleep in the Lord (i.e. believers who had died), and then the living.

What an amazing promise!  Can you imagine?  As 1 Thessalonians 4:17 joyfully says:

… we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them [the dead in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Paul was saying to this church: “Don’t blow it!  Examine yourselves.  Be sure that your heart toward God is pure.  He will deliver you from this alien world.”

There is nothing Paul says regarding a faithful church walking in obedience to God that even hints that its congregation of true believers must face God’s wrath.  This is the hope that children of God have.  Remember, just a few paragraphs earlier in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 what Paul said about our Lord.  We are:

… to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

What does it mean to wait?  It means to complete a process which intensifies for the coming of something that is expected (Strong’s #362).  That sure sounds like birth pains to me with an anticipated delivery, i.e. the Rapture.  Wrath is something that teems or swells.  It’s not a sudden outburst; rather it’s fixed or controlled, a passionate feeling against sin (Strong’s #3709), i.e. the Tribulation.

Are true believers in Christ subject to this rising tide of God’s anger?  Of course not.  Jesus took all our sins upon Himself.  Just as the preceding verse says, He has delivered us from the wrath to come.

And what is that coming wrath?  It is a day as Isaiah 24:6 says that:

… a curse devours the earth,

    and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;

therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,

    and few men are left.

Does this sound like a time when we who love God will be forced to endure?  Surely this is a time of wrath from which the Lord delivers us.

And that’s the point.  The pre-Tribulation Rapture is the only position that should make any sense to blood-bought believers in Jesus Christ.  While the earth suffers its just punishment for its iniquities, we whose sins have been forgiven will spend the seven years of the Tribulation in the chambers of heaven with the Lord, safe and secure from all harm.

It’s for this reason that Paul can exhort this believing church in 1 Thessalonians 4:18:

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

And what an encouragement it is!

Isaiah 58:3 – You Seek Your Own Pleasure

Israel had a problem. The people thought they were righteous before God in the way they sought Him.  They were performing rituals and sacrifices that seemed right in their own eyes as to what would please the Lord.  Somehow, they made a left turn and followed a way that led, not to Him, but to other gods and the lifting up of themselves.  It resulted in great deception in their lives and displeasure on God’s part, as Israel should have known better.  Hear what the Lord accused them of in Isaiah 58:2:

Yet they seek me daily

    and delight to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that did righteousness

    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;

they ask of me righteous judgments;

    they delight to draw near to God.

Two little words are the key in this verse: as if.  The things they did had the appearance of holiness.  They thought that in their worship they were growing closer to God.  Instead, when the people gathered before the Lord, they did it for themselves and not for Him, as Isaiah 58:3 says:

… Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure… 

Their fasting, their sacrifices and offerings, were all directed wrongly.  What was their problem?  A huge issue was their sexual immorality coupled with their pursuit of pagan gods as Isaiah 57:4-5 notes:

… Are you not children of transgression,

    the offspring of deceit,

you who burn with lust among the oaks,

    under every green tree,

who slaughter your children in the valleys,

    under the clefts of the rocks?

A central part of their transgressions including the sacrifice of their children.  It wasn’t pretty, and God hated what they did.

As a result, once more, the Lord had to remind them what pleased Him.  He outlined that in Isaiah 58:6-7:

“Is not this the fast that I choose:

    to loose the bonds of wickedness,

    to undo the straps of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

    and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry

    and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover him,

    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Many times Yahweh had revealed His character to His wayward children.  It was hard.  Micah 6:8 summarizes God’s instructions:

He has told you, O man, what is good;

    and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

    and to walk humbly with your God?

This is exactly what He’s saying here in Isaiah.  God is nothing if not consistent.  And here’s the thing.  The Lord wanted desperately to pour out His blessings on His Chosen People, but He absolutely refused when they chose to rebel against Him, His love, and His goodness.  If they had obeyed Him, consider briefly what He would have done, as seen in these several verses in Isaiah 58:

v8 – Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,

    and your healing shall spring up speedily… 

v9 – Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;

    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ … 

v10 – … then shall your light rise in the darkness

    and your gloom be as the noonday.

v14 – … then you shall take delight in the Lord,

    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;

What comes before thenIf…   But Israel wasn’t willing and all the blessings of God had to remain for a later time.

In reading this I couldn’t help but make the comparison to a certain segment of the church today.  I’ve been pretty critical of the movement within Christendom known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).  There are many aspects of NAR that are surely non-Biblical.  One of them is an emphasis on experiences that people might have supposedly through the move of the Holy Spirit.  NAR churches place a great emphasis on charismatic gifts.  The problem as I see it is that they seek those gifts in greater measure than they seek the Lord Himself.  One such spiritual gift they emphasize is healing.  Obviously healing has a place, a very important one.  But the question has to be asked on where the emphasis is put in interaction with others.  Is it on Jesus?  Or is it on the experiential aspect, i.e. the healing?  When Jesus appointed His apostles, Mark 3:14-15 shows the order of precedence in which they were to operate:

And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.

First and foremost was preaching the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ that would cause people to enter the Kingdom of God.  And, oh yes, Jesus also gave them authority to cast out demons (and heal the sick).

I think this is what God wanted Israel to learn.  She had to first seek Him and then all things would be given to them (Matthew 6:33).  There isn’t any difference today in how God wants us to conduct ourselves and in how He will respond.

What is the priority?  Healing is important.  Feeding the hungry is vital.  Yet, these are earthly benefits.  The eternal benefit of salvation is most critical.  It seems to me that this is an area in the NAR arena that is perhaps lost because the main focus is misdirected.

God doesn’t change.  As much as many people try to separate the God of the Old Testament from the God of the New Testament, they do so in vain.  His very Word assures us of this in Hebrews 13:8:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Our task needs to be to keep the main thing the main thing.  Just like Israel wandered off into the wilderness of heresy and worse, so today it’s very easy with various ear-tickling teachings for us to seek those things that have lesser value in God’s eyes and can actually lead away from Him.

How do we self-correct?  Only through the Word of God.  We must seek Him daily through Scripture in a persistent, disciplined manner.  It’s in reading our Bibles with a reverent spirit that we grow and mature in Him, knowing the difference between right and wrong, whether in our actions or in doctrine we believe.  Such pursuit of Christ in our lives results in God saying to us, as He says in Isaiah 57:15:

“I dwell in the high and holy place,

    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,

to revive the spirit of the lowly,

    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Don’t we want more of God dwelling with us?  Shouldn’t we desire this high and holy God to be near in everything we do?  This is His promise.  It’s ours for the asking.  All we need to do is follow hard after Him.

1 Thessalonians 2:14 – You Suffered the Same Things

Christianity has a common ailment whenever and wherever it’s tried.  It’s an affliction among those who reject the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When the Gospel – the Word of God – is preached, people either accept it or reject it.  When they cover their ears and harden their hearts, Satan has a field day.  They become his playground, and useful idiots for his purpose, which is to discredit and destroy God.  Satan’s people then – through their own poor choice of turning away to the dark things of this world – often decide it makes good sense to persecute God’s elect with whom they disagree.

Paul recounts this kind of situation in his first letter to the Thessalonian church.  He tells them in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 that what he had previously experienced wasn’t wasted:

But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.

Undergoing persecution caused him to harden his resolve and become even more bold.  Has that ever happened to you?  Perhaps someone says you can’t do something, or you are defeated in some endeavor.  What is your response?  Is it to just give up and walk away?  Or is it to squint your eyes and make a thin line with your lips as you determine to succeed?

You can’t do this.  “Oh, yes, I can!”  You’re a loser.  “Not a chance.  I’ll do whatever it takes to triumph!”

This was Paul coming to Thessalonika after being run out of Philippi by men determined to humiliate him.  But, unlike in human endeavors, his determination and strength came from the Lord.

What Paul communicated rang true with the people in this church because they related directly to what he said.  He reiterated to them in 1 Thessalonians 2:14:

For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews… 

Just like Jewish believers in Israel, these Gentile believers had likewise been the target of those opposed to God.  Paul says, “Opposition to the truth of Christ isn’t anything unusual.  The Judean churches suffered from it, I did as well, and so have you.”

Given the long history of antipathy toward the true Gospel that all men are sinners and need a Savior, who is only found in the Person of Jesus Christ, it should come as no surprise to us that we also will encounter opposition in our faithful walk with the Lord.  For years, we’ve seen how our brothers and sisters in Christ in the 10/40 Window have been persecuted, suffered greatly for their faith, yet stood boldly for Christ regardless what men did to them.  Did we think we were immune to this?  I think that many in the church did.

For a number of years I’ve been associated with the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) (https://www.persecution.com/).  In the early years there were a number of opportunities to present the story of the suffering church to various congregations.  Over time those openings to speak for VOM dried up.  No one wanted to hear about persecution of other believers.  It was too hard for their Western sensibilities.  But, just because many didn’t want to hear the message didn’t change the fact that our brothers and sisters continued to be persecuted.  I always came back to the same question regarding the church in America: Was ease and comfort the only persecution that we’d have to endure?

I think it’s becoming clear that the hostility toward the Gospel seen in other countries is coming our way.  When the anti-God forces, such as Marxists, rise to power in a nation, those who form political opposition are usually the first to be attacked and muted.  If the church wakes up and some stand against the tide of repression, those true believers are quickly targeted.  This is when people in the church must make a decision.

Will the many who are nominal in their faith stop straddling the line between the world and heaven?  Or will they run to the arms of the enemies of God and become wolves?  Will those who truly believe stand firm despite the cost?  The price may not be as high for us as it has been for those in hostile and restricted nations, but there will surely be a point of decision.  Do I capitulate to the State so as to feed my family or have a roof over my head?  Or do I trust God that He will provide just as He promises that He will?

The confidence, hope, and joy that we have as pre-Tribulation Rapture believers is that whatever period of time we must endure is only light and temporary.  Those who oppose God have a fate that Paul declares in 1 Thessalonians 2:16.  They will fill up the measure of their sins.  Because they hate God and His children, wrath has come upon them.

The wrath of God is worse than anything we can imagine, certainly worse than any suffering we might be asked to endure until the coming of the Lord.  Knowing this should cause us great urgency with those around us who don’t know Jesus.  Time is exceedingly short.  Will we work while it’s still day?  Will we reach out to those who are lost, and through the power of the Lord, rescue some from the fire?

When we are obedient in these small things, we can be assured that God is pleased.  Better than that, we know that because we have occupied until He comes, He will reward us with crowns for our faithful service.

Awaken Bible Prophecy Update 10-13-21 – What If… ?

What If Pre-Tribulation Rapture Bible Prophecy Experts have Interpreted Certain Tribulation Passages Incorrectly & There Is An Alternative Timing Perspective?

One of the Bible prophecy teachers I appreciate is Bill Salus.  He first came to my attention with his book: Psalm 83 – The Missing Prophecy Revealed.  After studying the Scriptures extensively, Salus came to believe that Psalm 83 wasn’t just an imprecatory psalm as most people have interpreted it over the years.  Rather, to his reading it was prophetic psalm yet to be fulfilled.  In that case, it had real world implications as to the course of events that still have to play out with Israel and the Middle East.

Subsequently, in considering the Tribulation and the opening of the Seal Judgments, Salus has presented an alternative view that is very different from the way that most prophecy teachers had seen.  It is literally a radical way of viewing the timing of these judgments, yet is completely Biblical.  Since introducing this alternative scenario, a number of other Bible prophecy experts have come to agree with his suggestions.

In this Awaken Bible Prophecy Update, I’ll briefly reiterate Salus’ take on the Psalm 83 prophecy.  Then I’ll explore his alternative proposal for the timing of the Seven Seal judgments of the Tribulation.

 

Amazon Kindle Vella story:

Tribulation Rising: Seal Judgments – The Coming Apocalypse

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z462WD

1 Thessalonians 1:5 – The Holy Spirit in Power

In a recent blog post, Terry James commented on a study that had been recently released (https://terryjamesprophecyline.com/2021/10/10/this-rapture-resistance/).  The results showed an astonishing, but sadly not unsurprising, detail:

“The study shows, in general, that while a majority of America’s self-identified Christians, including many who identify as evangelical, believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and is the Creator of the universe, more than half reject a number of biblical teachings and principles, including the existence of the Holy Spirit.”

What?  It’s been more than apparent for many years that mainline Christianity has been going downhill faster than an avalanche on Mount Everest.  The foundations have been shaken, the tons of snow and rock have been loosened, and the resulting headlong descent of catastrophic destruction has been unstoppable.  Why?  Well, the little phrase at the end of this quote tells us all we need to know.  Look at this: more than half reject a number of biblical teachings and principles, including the existence of the Holy Spirit.

How is this even possible and for the people sitting in church pews to still consider themselves “Christians”?  The problem extends beyond mainline Protestant denominations these days.  Just as the report states, those who identify as evangelicals also largely believe the same heresy.

Whatever happened in these churches to Biblical doctrines that include Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  Where did the Trinity go?  Do they even believe that Jesus is the Son of God and part of the Godhead?  If they do, what does that mean to these people?

Many who study Christianity have said for years that it has lost its power and its witness.  The church has turned from preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and resurrected to anything but that.  We know many of the “but thats” because they’ve been thrown up in our faces: Chrislam, social justice, Black Liberation Theology, and on we go.

It’s the lack of Holy Spirit belief that concerns us in this commentary.  Think about what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 to these newly minted believers:

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

It is through the Holy Spirit that the Gospel has any power at all.  He must be present in its proclamation.  Why?  What power or authority does man have over others?  How do we convince someone else as to the “truth” of something?  Actually, our means are limited to either carrot or stick.  People come to accept the notions of man only because of the hope of reward or the fear of punishment.  These are fleshly things.

However, how does the Holy Spirit operate?  He touches our inner spirit and brings conviction.  It is only the conviction of God that turns the heart of man.  This is done through the power and authority that comes only through Christ Jesus and the Advocate that He sent to us when He rose from the dead (John 14:26).

If a church denies the existence of the Holy Spirit, it obviously rejects the counsel of the Advocate.  In the absence of that, what is left in a church?  It’s simply a gathering of people whose purpose can be centered on anything other than God.  As G.K. Chesterton famously said:

When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.

We have the truth of that in these useless churches.

Paul commended the believers in the Thessalonian church on a critical issue.  He said in 1 Thessalonians 1:9:

… and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… 

Anyone who doesn’t fully turn to the Lord Jesus continues to have at least one foot in the world.  With that stance, it is inevitable that part of such a person follows idols, be they money, power, or whatever.  A true believer in Christ cannot worship Him and the things of the world, i.e. that which comes from the devil, at the same time (2 Corinthians 6:15).  The more a person is of the world, the less he is of Christ.  If he doesn’t have Jesus, he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit who then becomes simply an indefinable concept, rather than the indwelling Person that He is within the believer.  Is it any wonder so many people reject His existence?  They aren’t saved.  They don’t know God.  They are lost.  Even within the church.

In this state of unbelief, all these church-goers also face a grim future that will catch them by surprise.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul speaks of those who believe in the true Gospel.  What is the promise to them, i.e. to us?  It is that we…

… wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 

Look at the hope we have that these skeptics and unbelievers don’t!  Jesus will return for His Bride.  Scripture is clear that He will remove true believers from the earth before the Tribulation.  In the Rapture of the church, Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come.  This is God’s punishment that will soon come upon this unbelieving world because it has chosen to reject the wonderful gift of salvation given us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Does unbelief in the existence of the Holy Spirit have implications?  You bet.  It’s a matter of life and death.

Colossians 4:14 – Demas

If someone as steeped in the Holy Spirit and discerning as Paul can be duped, is it any wonder that some people today can deceive us by pretending to be a blood-bought believer in Jesus Christ?  In Paul’s various epistles, he had the habit of mentioning faithful followers of Christ.  He told of how they helped him in his times of need, and he asked the various churches to which he wrote to welcome some of these men in their journeys.  If someone during that time were to chronologically read all of Paul’s letters, how surprised he would have been to see that a man – whom Paul trusted – had turned away from the Lord!  How could this person whom Paul acknowledged as a fellow worker in Christ have done that?  Indeed, how could Paul have been so misled?

In Colossians 4:14 we see this reference:

Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.

Luke, of course, is the writer of the Gospel of Luke.  He was faithful to the end.  But, what about Demas?  This is a curious case.  A little earlier in Colossians 4, Paul also mentions Onesimus.  His short letter to Philemon regards this runaway slave, so both epistles were likely written in about the same time frame.  In fact, Philemon 24 says:

and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

There again is Luke, but so is Demas.  Paul states that both are fellow workers in the Lord.  This would indicate that Paul believed Demas to be saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom.

However, something happened between these letters and the ones written to Timothy.  Consider what Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:10:

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

Demas, this fellow worker in Christ abandoned Paul!  The lure of the flesh overcame him.  How could this be?  Was Demas really born again?  Or was he saved and through his own free will chose to forsake Christ?  That’s a thorny question in itself.  The reality, though, is that in some manner, shape, or form, Demas turned away from faith in Jesus Christ.  He loved this present world and re-entered it.

We read in 1 John 2:15:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

From this we know that Demas did not have the love of God in him.  How tragic!  And how perplexed Paul must have been.  He obviously trusted this man to mention him in the same breath as Luke.  Had Demas never truly repented and given his life to the Lord?  We simply don’t know, and Paul had no clue.  This is a warning for us today.

There are those around us who profess Jesus as Lord.  Yet, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They may be fellow congregants in the church, or they may actually be shepherds and leaders of the flock.

This has been an issue in the 10/40 Window for some time in Islamic nations, and likely other countries with different religious traditions.  There have been situations in which a Muslim has seemingly given his life to Christ, but he is a pretender and infiltrator of the church.  His understanding of Christianity is so deep that he can put on a completely false front to deceive everyone around him so they think he is a genuine believer.  At the appropriate time he reveals himself by betraying the church and bringing persecution down on it.

This is astounding when we consider how the Holy Spirit works in the heart of many Muslims and/or God’s supernatural Word convicts them.  But not people like these who are of the flesh and in the world.

Should we really be surprised?  Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:14:

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Such deceptions are on the rise in these latter days.  We do well to judge our brothers and sisters by examining their fruit.  I hate to be suspicious of one who is seemingly my fellow worker in Christ, but there are usually telltale signs.  The advice Ronald Reagan gave concerning the Soviet Union and its promises holds true today: “Trust but verify.”

Jesus Himself in Matthew 7:18 counseled us:

A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

The same holds true for a church at large just as it does for an individual.  What is being preached?  Do the works of the church line up with Scripture?  If these are at odds, be careful if you’re in such a church!  False doctrine usually has a strong relationship with that which is true.  It’s very subtle.  How can someone tell the difference?  Only by knowing the Word of God can a person discern teaching that is contrary to it.

Despite how Demas turned from Christ and from aiding Paul, the Lord sustained him.  He also had much opposition from many other quarters.  Yet, Paul could always praise and glorify the One who had delivered him and promised him eternal life.  In the midst of these treacheries, Paul was able to say in 2 Timothy 4:18:

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Let us keep that hope as God’s promise to us as well through all our dark and troubling days.

Isaiah 45:18 – God Formed the Earth to be Inhabited

The globalist narrative for many years has been that the earth is overpopulated.  These elites have said we must act now or we’re doomed.  How will the planet support any more people?  In fact, Paul Ehrlich, way back in his 1968 book The Population Bomb apocalyptically stated: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate …”  He subsequently argued as late as 2018 that the optimal population for the earth was no more than 1.5-2 billion people.

Actually, we have to give Ehrlich credit for being a humanitarian of sorts because he would allow so many people to continue living.  A more drastic approach to this “population bomb” is expressed in the Georgia Guidestones, of which I’ve written and spoken many times.  The author of these ten commandments, written in eight different languages on the monolithic rock slabs of this American Stonehenge, pulls no punches.  The very first declaration is that we – the inhabitants of the earth – must:

Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

Given that our planet’s population is approaching eight billion, it would require a fairly sizable reduction of about 93% of mankind to die off in order to reach this goal.

There are a lot of connecting strands making up this desire to reduce the number of people living on the earth.  Here are several:

  • You may recall that following the fall of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party in the USSR, following his nation’s dissolution, became a champion of the environmental movement.  He founded Green Cross International (​​https://www.gcint.org/) so as to “Give Humanity a Chance” and to “Give the Earth a Future.”

One of the connections that has become obvious over the years is that of the environmental movement with communism.  Is it a coincidence that Earth Day on April 22 is also Vladimir Lenin’s birthday?  Who was Lenin?  He was a Marxist revolutionary leader and the first head of the communist Soviet Union.  Interestingly, the first Earth Day in 1970 coincided with Lenin’s 100th birthday.  Estimates vary, but Communism that arose from Lenin’s regime killed 65-100 million people over its first one hundred years.

What has been the cry of environmentalists?  Too many people inhabit our planet.  It is unsustainable.  We must stop having babies as it will mean our doom.

I tell you this: The communist ideal is alive and well.  It was no mistake that Comrade Gorbachev went on to advocate for the Green movement.  The intent of that, just as it was for the out-and-out communists before it, is to kill off humanity.

  •  It is believed the Rosicrucians are behind the Georgia Guidestones.  They are aligned with Freemasons.  It all gets shadowy and opaque when following the trail of the movers and shakers in the world who have been Freemasons, but they have left many breadcrumbs.  There is little doubt that people at the top of their professions – in literally every sphere of the world power, be it technology, politics, arts, even religion – are part of this secret society.  Because of what they believe, they are inevitably people opposed to God.  Many are well-known eugenicists.  Here’s what Merriam-Webster says about eugenics:

… the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition

In order to control the earth’s population, there has to be a lot less of it.

The global elites behind this movement need fewer people.  They desire slaves that they can direct to do their bidding.  To make this a manageable proposition, they have to eliminate that 93% of mankind noted earlier.  This is all part of the agenda bringing us to the Great Reset, which we also know as the New World Order, and which will coincide with the 7-year Tribulation.  These people think that by bringing us to such a time that all their dreams and desires for utopian existence will be realized.

  • The ultimate head of these efforts is found in the demonic spiritual realm.  The plans of the communists, environmentalists, and globalists – who are effectively all the same – originate from Satan and the dark forces aligned with him.  In his book Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky wrote this dedication:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins— or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom —Lucifer.

Yes, Alinsky really did dedicate the book, his efforts, and those who would follow in his footsteps, to Lucifer.  Alinsky was a Satanist, just as Karl Marx also was.  Their god was Lucifer – Satan – and both of these men gloried in that association.

Why is there such a connection by the demonic realm to the efforts to depopulate the earth?  It all goes back to the Garden and to the curse in Genesis 3:15 that God placed upon the serpent:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Satan knew his time was limited as a free (im)moral agent.  He had to destroy the progeny of the Seed.  In other words, he could not allow man to become fully human, or he had to kill the One who would become that Seed, or he had to annihilate humanity, which was God’s pride and joy – or all of these.  Satan and his minions are the evil power behind every plan and purpose of men to reduce earth’s population.

This is a problem with God, as you can imagine.  From the very first in Genesis 1:27-28 we see:

So God created man in his own image,

    in the image of God he created him;

    male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Following the flood, God likewise instructed Noah and his descendants in Genesis 9:1 to do the same.  Overpopulation of the earth is not a concern for God.  He is sovereign and will provide.  Man’s wisdom is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:20).

God declares that He is the One who should be heeded.  He made the earth for man, not the opposite, as environmentalists proclaim when they decry how humanity is destroying nature.  Consider Isaiah 45:18:

For thus says the Lord,

who created the heavens

    (he is God!),

who formed the earth and made it

    (he established it;

he did not create it empty,

    he formed it to be inhabited!):

“I am the Lord, and there is no other.

Does it sound to you like God is worried that the earth is on an unsustainable course because there are too many people?

It may seem like the global elites and all the dark forces creating such chaos in the world will succeed.  They’re on an upward trajectory in their power and how they are exercising control over humanity.  It’s easy to be discouraged at what we see all around us.  But here’s a little secret that God declares in Isaiah 45:23:

“By myself I have sworn;

    from my mouth has gone out in righteousness

    a word that shall not return:

‘To me every knee shall bow,

    every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ “

None of the plans of man will prevail.  Every human and non-human knee will bow to the Lord God Almighty.  That time is coming soon.

Hold on and hold tight to the Lord!

Isaiah 43:20 – My Chosen People

When did Israel become God’s Chosen People?  How did that come about?

Before Israel was a nation, God dealt directly with all peoples of the world.  From the time of Adam and Eve’s banishing from the Garden of Eden, the Lord was known by men and present in his affairs.  From the point at which Seth had his son Enosh, Genesis 4:26 tells us:

At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

In mankind calling upon His Name, I think we can infer that there was a certain relational quality that God had with his creation.  Men lived hundreds of years then.  Because they were by necessity close to nature, God’s hidden attributes were clearly seen and understood.  No one living had any excuses for spurning Him.  (Romans 1:20)  Yet, of course, many did because that’s the sin nature of man.

Much was happening in the spiritual realm during these early years.  Satan had already shown his true colors in challenging the Word of God.  There were others among the heavenly host who likewise – in their free will – chose to rebel against their Father who had created them.  This is made clear in the Genesis 6:1-4 account.  The sons of God (bene Elohim), undoubtedly egged on by Satan, saw that the daughters of man were attractive (Genesis 6:2).  They transgressed their heavenly boundaries (Jude 6) and took as their wives any they chose.  This union resulted in the corrupting of human flesh through the birth of hybrid beings known as Nephilim.  Their subsequent actions on the earth resulted in this statement in Genesis 6:5

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

In other words, the fall of God’s sons, that led to the birth and worldwide spread of the Nephilim, caused great depravity.   Mankind became exceedingly corrupt through the intermixing of species (human and divine, or human and partially divine).  Men’s hearts became sinful beyond redemption, and the very fiber of their being, i.e. their DNA, was altered through this ungodly union.  This resulted in the global condition that men were no longer fully human.  It necessitated God acting to eliminate the evil that had become so pervasive.  He brought the flood so as to start over with the only pure bloodline remaining on earth, that of righteous Noah.

Following the total destruction of the flood, through the instructions of God, man again procreated and increased in numbers.  However, God’s command to Noah (the same as it had been to Adam and Eve) was to fill the earth (Genesis 9:7).  Rather than obey, people migrated from the east [and] found a plain in the land of Shinar (Genesis 11:2).

In contradiction to God’s will, they built the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4).  Why?  So that they might make a name for themselves.  How would they do this?  They thought that in the building of the Tower, they could reach the heavens in order to bring God down and control Him.  What better way to lift up themselves as self-exaltant, glorious, and mighty than to have God at their disposal?  Interestingly, they knew they had to control Him in this way, otherwise they realized that they would be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

These thoughts and actions caused God to do exactly what they feared.  He dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth and confused the language of all the earth (Genesis 11:8-9).

Later in Isaiah the prophet reiterates what Yahweh has communicated to him.  The Words were directed toward the nation of Israel, but the sentiment applies equally to the situation following the Tower incident in Babel.  Isaiah 43:24 repeats God’s lament:

… But you have burdened me with your sins;

    you have wearied me with your iniquities.

The disobedience of men wearied God.  To this point, He had been dealing with all of mankind.  But, Babel became a turning point.  We see the first part in Deuteronomy 32:8 – ESV:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,

    when he divided mankind,

he fixed the borders of the peoples

    according to the number of the sons of God.

Note that you must read this verse in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation in order to understand the sequence and the impact; it is a critical key to the entire Biblical narrative.  Most other translations, rather than say he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God, instead say he set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children [or sons] of Israel.

Of course, God never set Israel over nations like this; in fact, Israel didn’t even exist at that time, which will be our next point.  No, Yahweh set His divine, loyal sons from the spiritual realm over the nations.  His intent was that they superintendent the nations for the time being.  Instead, they all rebelled and set themselves over those nations as their gods.  It is from this rebellion that the gods, such as Baal, Molech, Chemosh, and so many others, arose.  They were God’s rebellious sons.  It is why all nations turned away from the One true God.

Why did Yahweh set his sons (remember, they were loyal at the time) over the nations?  Probably a couple reasons.  Men were unruly and disobedient.  They burdened Him with their sins, and wearied Him with their iniquities, as noted earlier.  It’s likely that He wanted a break from dealing with mankind as a whole.  This then resulted in the statement in Deuteronomy 32:9:

But the Lord’s portion is his people,

    Jacob his allotted heritage.

Following God’s placing His sons over the nations, He calls forth His people Jacob who will be His inheritance.  In fact, Genesis 12:1 – immediately following the scattering of men into nations recounted in Genesis 11 – is when God calls Abram out of Ur:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

This is the beginning – the genesis , if you will – of the nation of Israel called to be blessed and to bless the world.  It is why in Isaiah 43:20-21 that God calls Israel:

… my chosen people,

    the people whom I formed for myself

that they might declare my praise.

As God’s Chosen People, He is not yet through with Israel.  They have been and are a disobedient people, but God has not abandoned them.  He has not forsaken His many promises to them.  Do not be deceived by anyone who declares otherwise (and there are many!).

Although they are secular and far from the Lord today, He will redeem Israel.  She will have to suffer much through the Tribulation to reach this point of redemption, but reach it she will.  Her disobedience will result in only a remnant being saved.  But the day will soon come as Zechariah 13:9 states:

“… 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.’”

This is when Israel finally declares that Jesus is her Messiah.  What a glorious day it will be!

Colossians 1:20 – Reconciliation

Let’s connect something that Paul says in the amazing first chapter of Colossians with our reading today from Isaiah.  We can do that because the Scriptures are an integrated compilation overseen by the Holy Spirit with no contradictions.  They maintain consistency from the first to the last.  God breathed into them and we can trust that He has made them uniform.  There are mysteries concealed in the Old Testament that are revealed in the New.  The overall narrative of the Bible gives us a full picture of what God intends in this world.  We cannot, as a well-known but foolish pastor has said, “unhitch” the NT from the OT.  In fact, as Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Paul’s theological treatise in Colossians provides a picture of Jesus Christ that is unparalleled.  We learn in Colossians 1:15 that:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

People have often misunderstood this verse.  It doesn’t mean that Jesus was one of several whom God created, e.g. the brother of Satan as the Mormons teach.  No; firstborn here means unique, preeminent, not one of many.  He was not created; He has always been.  As a member of the Trinity, Jesus is I AM, the everlasting God.

The next verse is the object of my discussion in this essay.  Colossians 1:16 states:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

As the God of creation, among that which Jesus brought forth was His divine family in the heavenlies.  God has two distinct families right now: that which lives in the spiritual realm, i.e. the host of heaven; and that which dwells on the earth, i.e. humanity.  A day is coming in which God unites our families in common purpose, but we’ll retain that subject for a future commentary.  What we should see now is the description Paul gives us of the entities that don’t reside on earth.  What are they?  Thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.

We’re aware of a similar description in Ephesians 6:12:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

What this passage informs us is that there are those within the spiritual realm with whom we contend.  They are against us.  From this we know that heaven contains forces of good and forces of evil.  They are hierarchical in nature with some being more powerful than others.  How the wicked ones got that way is, again, a topic for another day, as I’ve previously written extensively about that.  However, the key point from Colossians is that Jesus created all these beings.  None are co-equal with Him.

In the book of Isaiah the prophet brings a Word to Israel that concerns the false gods she has foolishly sought and worshiped.  In fact, God mocks them in Isaiah 41:21-24:

Set forth your case, says the Lord;

    bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.

Let them bring them, and tell us

    what is to happen.

Tell us the former things, what they are,

    that we may consider them,

that we may know their outcome;

    or declare to us the things to come.

Tell us what is to come hereafter,

    that we may know that you are gods;

do good, or do harm,

    that we may be dismayed and terrified.

Behold, you are nothing,

    and your work is less than nothing;

    an abomination is he who chooses you.

In this passage Yahweh challenges these useless gods to prophesy of things to come.  They have set themselves over nations but have no knowledge of the future.  If they did, the Israelites might be justified in lifting them up because their understanding of what will be could dismay or terrify them.  But, they know nothing.  As a result they are an abomination, and one who looks to them for guidance is doomed.

Continuing on, God in Isaiah 42:8-9 sets the record straight:

I am the Lord; that is my name;

    my glory I give to no other,

    nor my praise to carved idols.

Behold, the former things have come to pass,

    and new things I now declare;

before they spring forth

    I tell you of them.”

It is only He who prophesies truth; only Yahweh who knows the end from the beginning.  The gods which the Israelites inevitably wanted to pursue had to have graven images made of themselves to remind people they must be revered.  These idols were of no account and had no power.  God alone is the One who declares new things and sees that they will come to pass.

Here’s the connection of Scripture: The thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities that Paul writes of are these very gods, represented by idols, that Isaiah describes.  Those who glorify these worthless beings are in God’s crosshairs.  Isaiah 42:17 assures us:

They are turned back and utterly put to shame,

    who trust in carved idols,

who say to metal images,

    “You are our gods.”

In other words, it’s a big mistake to trust in these faux gods.  Leading up to this verse, Isaiah outlines what God in His majesty will do through a series of “I will” statements that the Lord has declared.  In summary, He will first bring the Tribulation, but then great blessing in the form of the Millennial Kingdom.  Many other Scriptures round out this promised future in greater detail.

Look at how Paul puts it in Colossians 1:20 as to what Jesus will accomplish in the end:

… and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

A time will come when He will make all things right.  This encompasses everything in heaven and on earth.  There is nothing and no one that won’t be reconciled to Him.  Remember the evil beings that reside in the spiritual realm?  They will be no more.  Why?  Because reconciliation means that something is changed or harmonized.  All differences are redeemed and made of no account.  That being the case, as Paul rhetorically says elsewhere in 2 Corinthians 6:15 (NLT):

What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?

The same is true for wicked rulers upon the earth.  How can the Lord bring about a time of universal peace in the Millennium if any of them remain?

God truly has a wonderful plan for us.  However, it is not intended for this current period on earth.  Peace, security, all joy, the presence of the Lord: all these will only come after God deals with all that is evil, whether in the heavens above, on this earth, or in the depths beneath.

While we patiently wait for the fulfillment of this marvelous promise, Paul – by the Word of the Lord – commands us in Colossians 1:10:

… walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God …

As we obey in this manner, we can be assured that God will be pleased with us.  And if God is for us, who can be against? (Romans 8:31)

Isaiah 40:18 – To Whom Will You Liken God?

A full page ad in our complimentary copy of The Epoch Times caught my eye.  The top half displayed the name Shen Yun and a beautiful Chinese dancer in mid-leap.  The text below the fold said: “China Before Communism.”  It went on to mysteriously say:

China was once called “Land of the Divine.”  There was a time when divine beings walked upon the earth, leaving behind wisdom that gave birth to everything from medical innovations to opera, dance, architecture, and even martial arts… A splendid culture flourished in China for 5,000 years.

Upon seeing this, along with the additional ad copy, I was somewhat suspicious.  Given the infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party into all strata of American life, this seemed all too convenient.  “A Divine Culture – Lost.”  Darkness Spreads from China.”  Hope and Renewal.”  Was this a means of presenting the soft and cuddly side of China to counter what many of us see as a threat to our democracy?

Maybe not.  Shen Yun is apparently the official movement of the Falun Dafa, that we may know better as Falun Gong, a dissident, non-Christian group in China that the CCP has persecuted for not toeing the party line.  (https://www.shenyun.com/)  Shen Yun means “Divine Grace.”  The inspiration of Falun Gong and this dance company appears to be Buddhist and Taoist spirituality that has been lost under the tyranny of communism.

Because there are seemingly layers upon layers of intrigue that are deeply ingrained in China, what we see on the surface may or may not be innocuous.  I have no information that Shen Yun has ties of any kind to the CCP.  I hope it doesn’t.  However, even if this theater group isn’t tainted by the devious machinations of those in China who wish to conquer America, there does remain a deeper, darker force behind it.

To understand this, we have to revisit the ad text from above:

There was a time when divine beings walked upon the earth, leaving behind wisdom that gave birth to everything from… 

Seeing this immediately brought to mind the two spiritual rebellions against God that I’ve written of extensively.  The first was the fall of the sons of God (bene Elohim) that we see in Genesis 6:1-4.  The second occurs following the Tower of Babel fiasco in Genesis 11 when God placed His divine sons over the nations into which He had scattered mankind.  All these mighty princes in the heavenlies subsequently chose to oppose God by setting themselves up as gods over their respective nations (Deuteronomy 32:8 – ESV).

This second rebellion provides the basis for this description that Shen Yun gives us.  If you’re familiar with the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch, you know that it expands on these demonic rebellions.  (A pseudepigraphal book is one that uses a famous person’s name as its author but wasn’t actually written by that person.  Thus 1 Enoch wasn’t written by the Biblical Enoch we know from Genesis 5:24, i.e. the first man Raptured.  It was written somewhere in the roughly 500 years during the 2nd Temple Period between the book of Malachi and the destruction of that temple in 70 AD.)

What this ad copy outlines is actually a form of the truth.  The spiritual rebellions against God brought forth the divine beings referenced.  As 1 Enoch tells us, they gave mankind many secrets of heaven exactly as stated:

… everything from medical innovations to opera, dance, architecture, and even martial arts… 

This was not altruistic on the part of these divine rebels.  They also imparted to man the means of making war and of making forbidden love.  Their intent wasn’t to enrich humanity, rather it was to pervert and destroy it.  What they gave to men was the hidden wisdom of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).  What did God warn if Adam and Eve ate of that tree?  “You shall surely die.”  The divine beings exalted by Shen Yun desired to destroy what God had made good; their purpose was to either make men completely depraved, to kill off humanity, or to alter our genetic makeup so that man was no longer fully human.

The bottom line on the Shen Yun production is that whether it’s secretly associated with the CCP or not, there is a more ancient agenda: It is to lead people away from the One true God by glorifying other gods.

But what does the Bible have to say about this?  Let’s look at several verses.  First, consider what Isaiah 40:18-20 conveys:

To whom then will you liken God,

    or what likeness compare with him?

An idol! A craftsman casts it,

    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold

    and casts for it silver chains.

He who is too impoverished for an offering

    chooses wood that will not rot;

he seeks out a skillful craftsman

    to set up an idol that will not move.

It is to the spiritual rebels that idols are made.  But God points out that they are useless.

Isaiah 40:21-23 goes on to make the comparison:

Do you not know? Do you not hear?

    Has it not been told you from the beginning?

    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,

    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;

who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

    and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

who brings princes to nothing,

    and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

It was Yahweh who created the heavens and the earth.  He is the architect and builder of all that exists.  Those who oppose Him, whether divine princes of the spiritual realm or kings upon the earth; they have no power and will come to nothing.

The prophet exalts the Mighty One of heaven in Isaiah 40:28:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

It is He whom we must worship, not because He has attempted to bribe mankind or curry their favor.  No, it is because He is above all these pretenders to the throne and He is worthy.

Should man glorify other gods in any way?  Absolutely not!  It is only in God alone and through Him that we have life.  Isaiah 40:31 encourages us:

… but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

    they shall walk and not faint.

In these dark days when Satan and the rebellious host of heaven are contending for the souls of men, what should we do in response?

Wait for the Lord.  When we do that, He will renew us and see us through until He brings us home.