Corrupting Influence of Sin

Today, I’ll start with an analogy.  It’s rather gross, but at the same time, I think, quite effective.

Consider a brand-new toilet bowl.  It’s clean, white, no hint of anything that might mar its pristine surface.  It gets installed in your home and it isn’t long before it’s not quite so pretty.

A little bit of rusty brown appears on the bowl under the water.  Quickly that brown stain spreads and the entire bottom is covered in this unsightly color.  Eventually you get out the Lysol, the brush, and you scrub it—it’s not going to clean itself!  Otherwise, the stain will just get worse.

This is how sin works in our lives.  We think we’re clean and sparkling, but we don’t realize there’s something at work against this wholesome exterior we portray.  We let in a sinful thought and commit a sinful act there.  Soon, if we don’t eradicate the effects of this sin, it spreads.

Here’s how the Bible puts it in James 1:14-15:

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Sin can quickly and easily corrupt us if we don’t deal with it.  And how do we do that?  We can’t clean up our own sin like we can scrub a toilet bowl.  The only way is by repenting and giving it to God.

Now let’s look at another example.  It’s quite evident that sin is greatly increasing in the world.

The news is full of hate, the vile remarks people make, and the things they’re doing that are an abomination to God.  Many even celebrate this sin.  Twitter, where so much hate spews in this realm has been rightly described as a sewer.

What we see now is only a precursor of what is to come.  We think it can’t get any worse than this, then it does.  One prominent Christian radio host has repeatedly said, “I never thought I’d see the day.”

When the Rapture occurs and the Restrainer is removed, lawlessness will increase exponentially as the Tribulation advances.  We know the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit resident in true believers within the Church.  After the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will still be present in the world, however, He will probably operate more like in Old Testament times.  Many people will be saved, the Holy Spirit will at the least convict them if not indwell them, but the restraint the Holy Spirit exercises now won’t be there.

Lawlessness will consume the world—just as that brown stain in the bottom of your toilet will consume the entire bowl unless you clean it.  This is a picture of the horrors of sin and lawlessness during the Tribulation: they lead to death.

God in His mercy has decreed the Tribulation will last only seven years.  He says in His Word, in Matthew 24:22:

If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

In other words, the world would destroy itself if God didn’t intervene.

That intervention brings the return of Jesus Christ.  At that time the entire world will acknowledge Him as Lord:

  • Some to eternal torment
  • Some to eternal glory

Be sure you’re ready for when Jesus comes the first time for His saints in the clouds in the Rapture.  When He comes in His glory with His saints at the end of the Tribulation, it will be much too late.

Prepare your heart and live everyday like it’s your last day before you face Jesus.

It may be!

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.”

Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Reading in Matthew 18 about the parable of the unmerciful servant made me reflect back to verses I discussed in a previous blog post.  In Romans 2:4-5, the Apostle Paul says:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

Here the extremely serious question arises as to whether those who are professing Christians, yet who are stubborn and have unrepentant hearts, will be Raptured with the true Church of Jesus Christ, or must go through the refining fires of the 7-year Tribulation, otherwise known as the Day of God’s Wrath.

Following on that, let’s review Matthew 18:21-35:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Notice in this parable that the man has an impossible debt.  Yet his master has mercy on him and forgives it all.

This is our sin condition before the Lord.  Our sin is so great that we can never conceivably repay it.  However, God in His great mercy, in the sacrifice of His Son, has forgiven us.  Through this free gift of salvation, God forgives our sins as far as the east is from the west.

But this same man has a debtor. Unlike his master, he doesn’t forgive this man’s debt.  Despite his pleas, the who owes the debt is cast into prison.  Understand: he’s thrown in prison until he can repay the debt.

How can this possibly happen?  In prison, you can’t work.  It’s an impossible situation.  This man will never be able to repay the debt.

The master hears of this situation, and it angers him greatly.  He tells the man that because his master had mercy on him, so should he likewise have mercy on others and forgive their debts.  So incensed is the master at this man’s heart condition that he reverses his initial mercy because of the unforgiveness this servant harbors.  The master throws him in debtor’s prison until he can pay.  Again, this is an impossible situation.  He can never repay such a debt.

God likewise commands us to be merciful to others.  He commands us to forgive others their sins against us.  We are not to harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts.

If we continue to do so, there is a consequence.  Let’s look at the last verses of this passage again:

In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Do you see that?  If we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us!

What does He mean that He’ll hand us over to the jailer to be tortured?

This is the impossible circumstance.  It illustrates the critical importance of forgiveness in God’s Kingdom.

Is this a situation where someone in sin doesn’t gain heavenly rewards?  Does it mean someone losses their salvation?  Can this imply that an unforgiving heart, just like in the Romans verses, may cause a believer living in this sin to go through the Tribulation for his heart to get right?

I don’t know the answers, but this Scripture gives a clear, unmistakable warning.  God’s mercy is greater than anything we can imagine.  However, He expects us to reflect the love of Christ in our lives.

If we live in the sin of unforgiveness, there may be terrible consequences for us as a result.

Inconceivable Persecution

I was sitting in my living room in the early morning for my prayer time.  The lights were out.  It was quite dark outside.

I began thinking about my brothers and sisters in Christ who are regularly persecuted in many countries around the world.  This includes the Middle East in Muslim nations, China which is communist and atheist, Southeast Asia where they are communist and Buddhist, India with Hindu persecution, and Russia which is communist.  There are others.

There are generally two types of persecution.  One is where the governments outlaw Christianity.  It is a threat because Christians worship God and not the state.  The second is where family, friends, and neighbors come against Christians because they are different—Christianity is a different religion to the prevailing culture or it is against their pagan traditions.

It is not unusual in these places for Christians to be privately at home or gathering secretly to worship and their enemies learn of their beliefs.  Once they do, it’s not long before they harass or outright attack them.

Think about this.  You’re at home like I was, praying, and reading your Bible.  Suddenly, in the dark your door is broken open and armed men rush in.  They’re shouting, cursing, and they roust your family from their beds.  Immediately they search your house looking for forbidden materials.  They seize your Bible.

You and your family are taken to jail where you sit for days undergoing intense questioning.  The interrogation may continue for weeks.  You may be tortured.

Why do they treat you like this?  The authorities want names of other believers.  Christianity cannot be tolerated because these people and governments see it as a threat to their existence, regardless of how passive or non-evangelical someone might be.  For those who work actively for the Lord’s purposes, they are an even greater peril to the prevailing culture.

Some of our brothers and sisters are imprisoned like this for years.  They have no trial.  They undergo regular beatings.  Torture may be a daily occurrence.  Some are put to death.  Their families may be threatened with death unless the Christians divulge the names of others who follow Jesus Christ.

What would you do in such a situation?  What would I do?

For us in America, this scenario is inconceivable.  But others face it every day.  Persecution to them is as normal as the sun rising daily in the east.

In the coming 7-year Tribulation with the rise of the Harlot world religion and the Antichrist, incredibly, many will choose to follow Jesus rather than take the mark of the Beast.  They will be hunted and severely persecuted.  What I described earlier will become the norm for all those who decide the One true God is worth their very lives.

Most newly minted Christians in the Tribulation, in fact, will pay with their lives.  Why do I frame it this way?  Because all true followers of Jesus Christ will be Raptured from the earth by Jesus before the Tribulation when God pours His wrath and judgment upon an unbelieving world.  Unbelieving is the key.  Thus, the only Christians during that time will be those who come to the Lord following the Rapture; these will be “newly minted.”

These new believers will face severe persecution and death.  They will also know what they’re getting into, just as Muslims today who convert from Islam.  Apostasy warrants the death penalty for them.  True faith in Christ during the Tribulation will warrant it for these new Christians.  Here is Revelation 20:4 giving us insight into this:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Aren’t you glad you’re a true follower of Jesus Christ?  That you won’t have to endure the incredible suffering that will soon come upon this world?  And if you’re not a believer, don’t wait until it’s too late—make that decision today!—because great deception will come upon the earth during the Tribulation ,and you may not even be able to choose Christ as your Savior because of the overwhelming spiritual darkness.

Rejoice in the Lord and be thankful for His mercy!

Prophecy Update – Destruction of Damascus

There is a soon-coming event that we can see on the road ahead through our prophetic headlights.  This is the destruction of Damascus, Syria.

The Bible speaks clearly about this prophecy that has never been fulfilled.  We see in Isaiah 17 the entire description of this event, but we’ll limit the verses we read to just three: Isaiah 17:1,9,14.  Here’s what they say:

1See, Damascus will cease from being a city;
it shall be a ruinous heap.

 9In that day his strong cities shall be as a forsaken bough and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the sons of Israel; and there shall be a desolation.

14This is the portion of those who plunder us,
and the lot of those who rob us.

At evening time, sudden terror!
And before the morning, they are no more.

There is a confirming passage in Jeremiah 49:23-27.  It reads:

23 Concerning Damascus:

“Hamath and Arpad are dismayed,
for they have heard bad news.
They are disheartened,
troubled like the restless sea.
24 Damascus has become feeble,
she has turned to flee
and panic has gripped her;
anguish and pain have seized her,
pain like that of a woman in labor.
25 Why has the city of renown not been abandoned,
the town in which I delight?
26 Surely, her young men will fall in the streets;
all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,”
declares the Lord Almighty.
27 I will set fire to the walls of Damascus;
it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.”

Let’s parse these a little.  Look at Isaiah 17 again.  In verse 1, Damascus is going down in a major way.  There will be nothing left of the city; it will be a ruinous heap.  This is major destruction.

This literal annihilation of Damascus will be brought about by the Israeli Defense Forces—the IDF—which verse 17 says will be the sons of Israel.

Then in verse 14 we learn this is occurring because of an historical plundering of Israel by their enemies—that would be those who have ruled Damascus over the years.  In that same verse we learn a startling fact.  This complete obliteration of Damascus happens overnight; by morning nothing is left of this once great city.  The suddenness of this event leads us to lean toward the cause of this being a nuclear attack or perhaps a nuclear accident that happens as a result of an Israeli conventional attack.

Jeremiah’s Scripture provides more details.  Jeremiah 49:26 informs us that there will be many civilian causalities as the young men of Damascus fall in the streets.  More than that, no military troops will remain, but all will be silenced in death.

Verse 27 reinforces the terrible nature of the destruction with fire consuming the many walls of the city, but also the government buildings—the fortresses of Ben-Hadad—will fall.

Why didn’t the people flee in the midst of the panic the earlier verses ask?  That could be the consequence of an accident as I mentioned earlier.  We have just enough information to tantalize us and know it will happen, but not quite enough to answer every question.

Recent headlines in the Jerusalem Post and other news sources have shown us that Israel has already been attacking Damascus for a variety of reasons.  A major reason of late has been the result of Iran, which is entrenched in Syria along with Russia and Turkey, attempting to bring into Syria through Damascus smart-guided missile technology.  Syria has many dumb missiles and Iran wants to upgrade them to make them more lethal against Israel.  Israel has incredible intelligence sources.  If Bashar al-Assad sneezes, the IDF knows about it.

Here are example headlines:

“IDF strikes Iranian and Hezbollah targets”

“Syria War: Israel attack overnight on Damascus – IDF acted after firing of missiles by QUDS forces”

“Satellite images show damage from Israeli strike on Damascus airport”

“Israeli arbitrary airstrikes on Syria ‘must’ stop, Russia warns”

As you can see, Israel is being proactive.  They will not allow Iran or anyone to place themselves into a position where they could have the upper hand against Israel.

Now, several points of interest.  Damascus is the capital of Syria.  It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in history.  Its existence stretches back to the time of Abraham, that is, about 4,000 years.  Syria is the gathering place for the primary nations that will wage war against Israel in a soon-coming conflict.  Russia, Iran, and Turkey are all major players in the latter days war described by the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 38-39.  This is the Gog of Magog War or Ezekiel’s War, as it’s sometimes called.  The pieces for that puzzle are pretty much in place.  It just needs the trigger that God alone will supply.

Let’s go back and reinforce the answers to some questions.

Who causes the destruction of Damascus?  It will likely be the Israeli Defense Forces described by Isaiah as the sons of Israel:

9In that day his strong cities shall be as a forsaken bough and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the sons of Israel; and there shall be a desolation.

Why is Damascus destroyed?  Syria has been the headquarters for many years of those who have attacked and plundered Israel.  God says, “This is enough!”

14This is the portion of those who plunder us,
and the lot of those who rob us.

Understand also, that God early on decreed His supernatural protection upon the Jewish nation in Genesis 12:3:

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;

With the destruction of Damascus, God is fulfilling His promise.  Syria has cursed Israel long enough and God’s curse upon that nation will be enacted.

When will this happen?  For that, let’s go to Ezekiel 38:9 where God is telling the ruler of the land of Gog—which is Russia—the following:

After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.

This describes Israel now as these nations gather against her.  They are already at Israel’s border in the north in Syria past the Golan Heights.  These, right now, are the future years, that is, the latter days—sometime very soon—when this will occur.  These wars and events are likely all connected because of the adversaries that are soon to come against Israel.

The nations are almost in complete alliance.  Russia, Iran, and Turkey all have serious financial issues that the plunder of Israel would supposedly alleviate.  That’s their desire as outlined in Ezekiel.  Soon, God will put a hook in the jaw of Russia’s ruler (Ezekiel 38:4), and he will decide he must attack Israel with the other adversarial nations in order to realize the needs or goals they have.

The implications of this prophecy and what it means are the following:

  • The destruction of Damascus could happen anytime. It will likely be a tipping point for either the Psalm 83 War (which I’ll discuss further at a later time) and/or Ezekiel’s War
  • The IDF will fulfill this prophecy about Damascus, but will be rendered impotent for some reason in Ezekiel’s War. The amazing thing is that when Russia and her allies attack, Israel will be unable to act and all will seem as if it’s lost.
  • However, that’s when God plays His hand. He intervenes in Ezekiel’s War, and it’s apparent not only to Israel, but to the entire earth.  God will get the much-deserved glory.
  • When He does, this will be the beginning of the prophetic fulfillment of Israel turning back to God. Currently Israel is secular and far from God in the general populace.  When God comes through against the overwhelming attack of Ezekiel, the people of Israel will recognize God, His existence, and His protection over them.  Many will turn to Him.
  • What the vast majority will not do at this point is recognize Yeshua, Jesus, as Messiah. That’ll still be a problem for Israel, because it means they must go into the 7-year Tribulation in order for them to be cleansed, purified, and convicted that Jesus is the Messiah they’ve long awaited, and that Jesus is Lord.

Aliens & UFOs: A Christian Perspective

I’ve previously said in this blog that few pastors preach on Bible prophecy and end-times events.  I’ve got another one for you.  Have you ever heard any pastors preaching on alien abductions?  I didn’t think so.

Here we go where pastors fear to tread…

Aliens and UFOs are a cultural phenomenon.  They’re popularized in movies.  Many books have been written about them.  Their primary theme is that aliens are real, they are advanced life forms, and they’re here to help us.

That last item is interesting, i.e. that they are benevolent beings here for our welfare.  What we typically find when we dig deeper is that they typically promote occult and New Age practices.  Do you find that strange?  I do.  Why would alien beings from some far away star system promote such practices, let alone even know about them in their own culture?  Why would they be concerned about our knowing about and following these beliefs?  You’d think, if anything, they’d want us to know what they know, which should be so much superior to our knowledge.  After all, to have the technology to travel so far through the universe, surely they have wisdom far beyond ours.

Their typical narrative also should make us wonder what’s going on.  For some odd reason, what our alien friends promote is counter to Christianity.  Some of the storylines from people who have interacted with these aliens in abduction scenarios include many anti-Scriptural themes: Christ and Buddha are alien brothers from space.  Jesus’ mother, Mary, was impregnated by aliens.  Numerous supernatural events from the Bible were actually caused by UFOs.  These include the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments were written by laser, Ezekiel’s vision of the wheeled chariot was of a UFO, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by aliens, the Star of Bethlehem that guided the wise men to Jesus was a UFO.  It certainly makes one wonder why these aliens are so obsessed with Christianity.  You’d almost think they have a problem of some kind with it.

From scientific polling, 1 in 40 people have had an alien encounter.  This experience ranges from seeing a UFO to having an intrusive alien abduction.  Before I was saved, born again by the blood of Jesus Christ, and became a true follower of His, I identified something I saw in the night sky as a UFO.  My wife and I were at a lawn concert with some friends sitting out under the stars.  Looking up, I saw an object moving across the dark and starry sky from one end to the other at an impossible speed, certainly faster than any man-made craft I’d ever witnessed.  It simply zoomed completely across the sky in moments.  I truly thought I’d seen a UFO.

By the way, I’ve been to Roswell, NM with my wife where we visited the UFO Museum.  It wouldn’t surprise me there’s a pretty good likelihood that you know someone who has had an alien encounter, if not yourself.

Over the years, there have been many cults with false teachers that focus on UFO phenomena.  Heaven’s Gate was a prominent one because of how they ended.  The members believed they would be taken to an alien spacecraft through their mass suicide.  A current UFO religion is led by a man called Rael, who had an alien encounter.  His followers are called Raelians.  They’re very evangelistic, having booths to gain followers at various UFO shows and conventions.

What does the Bible say about this?  In 1 Timothy 4:3-4 we learn:

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

The reality is that many people have had actual, traumatic, alien abduction experiences.  These have changed their lives, never for the better.  Some become obsessed with their encounter.  Often it affects their family generationally, so their children end up having similar abductions.

There are many UFO researchers who are very well known and legitimate.  These men and women, who have studied this subject for years, mainly conclude that it is impossible for these alien entities to be actual extraterrestrials.  What?  Yes, and this isn’t fake news.  In fact, these secular scientists have even proposed that these so-called aliens could be demonic in nature.  Secular scientists!

Take a moment to digest that.

What does the Bible say in this regard?

1 Timothy 4:1

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Ephesians 6:22

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Given that, I’m sure you’ll also find fascinating what happens when someone resists an alien intrusion into their life.

Before I tell you that, let’s categorize people.  There are three kinds in this context: real Christians who truly follow Jesus, newbie or backslidden Christians, and unbelievers.

The simple fact of the matter is that true followers of Jesus Christ DO NOT have alien encounters.

Newbie or backslidden Christians can and do have such encounters.

Unbelievers, of course, can and do have them as well.

Now, when a newbie or backslidden Christian has an alien encounter—whatever that might look like, i.e. a visitation or some kind or an actual abduction, when they do one specific thing, the encounter STOPS.  Here it is: If they cry out loud the Name of Jesus and command the aliens to stop, they do.

Generally, unbelievers aren’t going to have the presence of mind to even go in this direction of calling to Jesus to save them.

In conclusion, know this: Anything purporting to be alien or extraterrestrial is demonic.  These are not benign entities from Alpha Centauri.  They are not here to assist fellow travelers in the solar system out of the kindness of their hearts.  They are not here to save our planet.  They are here to do the work of Satan to attempt to resist God and His plan for this world.  They will ultimately fail.

Following the Rapture of the true Church, it will likely be said that Christians were removed from the earth because we disturbed the harmony of the planet.  They’ll assure everyone left that, yes, things will get worse for a while.  But then the earth will correct itself and settle down from the bad vibes of those who were taken.

Most likely after the Tribulation begins, much of this will be forgotten as the One World Religion rises and encompasses the alien narrative.  However, there may even be an embracing of that narrative as lawlessness increases, deception rules, and spiritual darkness settles upon many.

Don’t be surprised if we see more and more of these deceptions as we near our final days on earth before Jesus air lifts His Church out of here.  And, no, the Rapture is not a fairy tale or caused by UFOs.

One final word.  There are a few Christian ministries that help people ensnared in bondage from an alien encounter stronghold that is actually demonic in nature.

If you know of anyone who has experienced significant issues in their life because of an encounter like this, I can direct them to a Christian ministry whose purpose is to bring freedom from this bondage.  There are many true stories of deliverance.  There IS freedom in Christ.

Rising Spirit of Antichrist

I had a conversation recently with my pastor who said that he is seeing the hate and the lies rising all around us, and that this is clear evidence of the spirit of antichrist in the world today.

I said, “Welcome to the club.”  That’s not to pat myself on the back, but for those of us watching the fulfillment of Bible prophecy right before our eyes in these latter days, this is no surprise.

These three verses in 1 John 2:18,2; 4:3 are telling in this regard:

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.

But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

If you don’t know it yet, here’s the news: These are the end times and they’re coming to a head.  The return of Jesus is imminent.  Why?  Because all of the things prophesied in the Bible are coming to pass and are increasing exponentially.

One example will suffice for now.

Remember the recent Right to Life march in which the Covington, KY high school students were at the center of a controversy?  The mainstream media completely turned the incident around and truly produced fake news that made the actual perpetrators seem like saints and the students as though they were knuckle-dragging thugs.

Following a couple days of this, the extended video of the incident came out.  It showed that the only crime of these kids was that they wore MAGA hats.  Thus, as supporters of President Trump, they were enemies of the people (or at least of the Left).  The reality was that the students were accosted by these other groups that were full of identity politics and self-glorification.

Going a step further, a Hollywood film producer tweeted a picture for all to see.  Social media reveals so much!  The picture was from the movie Fargo from some years ago.  If you saw it, perhaps you recall what happened at the end.  Someone was fed into a wood chipper with the expected horrific result.  That was the picture this guy tweeted with, if I remember correctly, a lovely suggestion to go along with it: “MAGA kids go screaming, hats first, into woodchipper.”

How does this relate to our texts above?  These people projected onto others what was in their own hearts.  Hate blinds, and they were truly blinded by it.  As such, they were used by Satan, deceived by him, and were useful idiots in the purest sense.  Tell me this isn’t demonic and satanic.  This is the spirit of antichrist rampant in the world today.

It’s easy in our response to such lunacy and hate to get angry.  But at followers of Jesus Christ, we’re not called to that.  We have the Spirit of the living God within us.  Because of that we can and should respond differently.

This is what the apostle tells us in 1 John 5:19-20:

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true by being in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

We should grieve—even as God grieves—for these ones lost in darkness.

Never forget the Apostle Paul’s admonitions in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient

Love is kind

Love never fails

We are to love—even the most unlovable.

Choosing Jesus – When?

Let’s start this message with a couple of Scriptures to set the stage.  The first is Philippians 2:10-11, which says:

“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

And then we’ll also quote Romans 2:4-9:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;

I was at a men’s Bible study recently where these verses were discussed, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts about them.  Look again at verse 5:

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Stubbornness.  An unrepentant heart.  Storing up wrath.  The day of God’s wrath.  Do you know who the Apostle Paul is writing to?  It’s to believers!  He’s not concerned with unbelievers—that’s a different message.  These are people in the church of Rome who are professing Christians.

What is that wrath?  Believers have a date with Jesus very soon when He comes back for His true Church.  We will be caught up in the clouds with Jesus in the event known as the Rapture.  Following that, our judgment will be at the Bema Seat before Christ where we will either receive crowns as rewards, or not.  Our sin has been dealt with by Jesus on the cross; there is no more judgment against us for what we’ve done in our flesh.

Then what could Paul possibly be saying?  What wrath could they be storing up that will be enacted against them?  Consistently throughout the Bible the Day of Wrath is considered the 7-year Tribulation.  I can read this as no other way than Paul saying that these believers will face God’s wrath in the Tribulation.

There are three scenarios for us to consider as a result of these verses in Romans.

  1. The first is what I call true believers, that is, those who walk with the Lord with a humble and contrite heart and seek to do His will. Do those of us in this group stumble and sometimes sin?  Absolutely!  But it’s not a lifestyle.  When the choice arises to sin or not, the absolute majority choice is to walk away and not sin.  It’s a condition of the heart that causes people in this group to believe that God is who He says, that He is kind and merciful, but also a fearsome judge.  The thought of diving into sin through rebellion and disobedience is far, far from the hearts of the people in this group.
  2. This second group is whom I believe Paul was addressing in his letter to the Romans. These are believers presumably, certainly professing believers.  But the people in this group have a heart problem.  What is that?  They are stubborn and have a hardness in their heart.  They are living in sin, choosing sin, and stubbornly ignoring God’s commands for the way they should live for Him.

Paul lays out a serious indictment to these folks.  They are storing up God’s wrath for His day of wrath and judgment.  To me, this can only mean that Paul’s warning is that these people will go through the Tribulation unless there is a radical change in their heart and their behavior.

God’s intent in having us go through this life as believers is to refine us as gold or silver are refined in a fire.  We have troubles.  We have tribulation.  We are to press through these things and mature in our walk with Christ.  If we don’t; rather, we consistently give into sin, in fact, choosing it rather than saying, “No,” what else can be the result than God desiring us STILL to be refined through the fire?  He wants us as His Virgin Bride, one who has been purified.  The person who continually chooses sin has not been purified.

We should take heed to what Paul says in this letter.  Watch out!  This is a warning.  Remember in Philippians quoted above that every knee will bow and every tongue confess.  Are those diving into sin bowing their knee?  Remember also, that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.  If we spurn His kindness, there are consequences.  The consequence in the case of believers with stubbornness and unrepentant hearts may indeed be the opportunity for them to learn those virtues through the horrors of the Tribulation.

This warning certainly gives me pause.  It should likewise make those in this category think long and hard about their relationship to their presumed Lord and Savior.

  1. Those in this third category are those who are unbelievers. There is no question that they are destined for the Tribulation.  In God’s mercy, many will come to faith in Christ during this terrible time.  If these people don’t, then they will earn their final judgment at the Great White Throne where they will be separated as goats, while those who are sheep will go on to eternal life with Christ.  As goats, as rebellious unbelievers, these hard-hearted individuals will go into eternal darkness, separated from Jesus forever in the Lake of Fire.

All will bow their knee and confess Jesus as Lord.  It’s all about timing.  For those who haven’t yet done so and chosen Christ, the question is: When?

Why Bible Prophecy

It seems as though Bible prophecy has a bad name these days.  When believers in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture espouse this position, there are numerous “Christians” who ridicule the notion that Jesus will come back for His church in a timely manner.  Why is this such a strange and unpopular notion?

If these scoffers were to look more deeply into Scripture, they would see that Pre-Trib is heavily supported through numerous passages.  There are two contrasting Bible study techniques.  One is called exegesis, while the other is called eisegesis.  One is a valid way to understand God’s Word, the other is not.

Exegesis says that we should take Biblical text and read out of it what is there and apply that to our understanding through careful analysis.  In other words, the text says what it says.  Eisegesis takes the opposite approach, whereby someone reads into the text his preconceived notions and biases.

Just this simple description should make it clear what the most profitable means is of understanding God’s Word.  Eisegesis is like math.  Remember the saying: Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.  So it is with how we treat the Bible.  The Bible doesn’t lie, but liars lie about the Bible.

This particular blog post is not the point at which I’ll lay down the case for the Pre-Trib Rapture.  Hopefully, over time I’ll expound on that.  The point of all this is that Bible prophecy is rampant throughout the Bible, and it’s all true.  Either it’s been fulfilled or it will be in the future.  Prophecy comprises up to one-third of the Bible.  It’s important, and God wants us to know that and to take it seriously.  He also wants us to know His plans for the ages.

A famous statistic in this regard is that there are about 318 Biblical references to the first coming of Jesus.  Each and every one of them was fulfilled.  The odds against such a thing are beyond astronomical.

So, how do we read Bible prophecy and learn from God what He intends?  Simple.  We follow the Golden Rule of Interpretation.  We take what the Bible says literally.  A condensed version of this Golden Rule reads:

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.  Therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, visual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate text…clearly indicate otherwise.”

And that’s the problem with those who mock the Pre-Trib Rapture.  They allegorize verses pertaining to it or make them them symbolic.  They do the same with much of the Bible, particularly anything having to do with prophecy.  In other words, they apply eisegesis to the Scriptures and read into them whatever they think in their fallible, human, sinful minds those passages should mean rather than taking the plain, literal sense of them.

The Apostle John—John the Revelator—warns us in the final chapter of the last book of the Bible against such folly.  He writes in Revelation 22:18:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.

Isn’t someone who makes up things about what the Bible says adding to the words of this book?  I certainly wouldn’t want to be those who stand before God at judgment with that mark against me, particularly after having been so succinctly warned.

Bible prophecy is for our benefit.  It is to know God’s ultimate design for this world and beyond.  More than anything, it is to both show His love to those who willingly follow Him and to warn of His wrath upon those who choose otherwise.

Choose wisely.

Prophecy Update 1-22-19

Please Note: This blog entry is a recap of the prophecy update I did in my Facebook and Youtube video posts on this date.  You can watch this and many other teachings at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7dsJSzy9TJV2dq9exmCRhQ/videos?view_as=subscriber if you wish to get ahead of these written blog posts.

The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.  Inspired means that men were guided by the Holy Spirit to write God’s truth.  Inerrant is defined as having no error.  Infallible means that the Bible, as God’s Word, cannot contain error, because God cannot make mistakes and He knows all things.

In this regard, I want to mention two quick verses before we get to the update itself.  The first is 1 Chronicles 12:32, which says:

of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.”

God highly praised the men in the Israelite tribe of Issachar because the knowledge they had enabled them to understand the times.  Should this be any different for us today?  Certainly not!  God gives us the tools and the means to understand the times with knowledge.

The second verse pertaining to this is Acts 17:11.  This says:

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

God calls these Bereans men of noble character because of the very fact that they loved the Word of the Lord so much that they dug deeply into it.  Their desire was to assure that what Paul said was the truth and supported by Scripture.  In the same way, whether it’s what I say or write (or anyone else for that matter) the person on the receiving end of my words should always verify in the Bible that I’m not misleading you in any way.  The way to do this is to read your Bible daily and know the entire Word of God from beginning to end.  Keep His Word with you constantly, and you’ll not easily be deceived.

Now, for this prophecy update, I want to touch on three interesting items in the news.

  1. First, read Ezekiel 38:11:

You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.”’

Ezekiel’s War, the Gog of Magog War is chronicled in Ezekiel 38-39.  Scripture describes a future war with three major players and several minor ones who all come against the nation of Israel in the latter days.  These players are Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and we see this scenario developing before our very eyes daily in Syria, where these three nations have carved out portions of that country for themselves.  There will be a time in the near future when the events in Ezekiel will ALL come to pass.

But that’s the issue I have right now with this prophecy.  God’s Word, as I mentioned earlier, is inerrant and infallible.  Thus, everything about a prophecy must be fulfilled.  Look again at Ezekiel 38:11.  What is the conditional criteria?  ”All of them living without walls and without gates and bars.”

Here’s a recent headline in Jews News dated 1/15/2019: “Israel’s hi-tech border fence transformed the country, and this is why Trump always uses it as an example for what he wants for border security.”  The article goes on to say that Israel has a 14 km (8.7 mile) border fence with Egypt and a 34 km (21 mile) border wall with Jordan that is 26 m (85 feet) high.

Does this create a conflict with the Ezekiel prophecy?  To my mind it certainly does.

Why do I bring this up?  There is another potential war that many believe will occur prior to the Ezekiel war, that being the Psalm 83 War.  I’m not going to get into Psalm 83 in this post.  I hope to do so in a subsequent blog in some detail.  The point is that there is much dispute among those who follow Bible prophecy.  There are many respected teachers on both sides of the argument, which is: Is there going to be a Psalm 83 War in the future, or was the prophecy for that war fulfilled when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948, when various surrounding nations came against her?

I happen to believe that Psalm 83 has not yet been completely fulfilled and is still future.  If that’s the case, I also believe that through Israel’s victory in that war, the walls, bars, and gates so necessary now to Israel’s existence will no longer be needed at that time.  Only after Psalm 83 has been completed can Ezekiel take place as foretold.

  1. Let’s next read Revelation 13:1,4,14,16-17:

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name…People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”… Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived…It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

These verses speak of what will occur during the 7-year Tribulation with the rise of the antichrist who will institute a one-world government that forces everyone to submit to it if they desire to be able to conduct commerce of any kind—such as buying food in order to eat.

In The Straits Times dated January 20, 2019, a headline reads: “Majority of world population support globalism, survey finds.”  This survey reports that perhaps populist movements aren’t as popular as many believe.  Rather, that “the global public favours cooperation between nations.”  People in this survey look favorably upon immigration (it doesn’t say whether this is legal or illegal), and they believe climate scientists who declare we have a climate change threat to the world.

With all these issues facing the world, more and more people are becoming concerned.  The climate (excuse the pun) is right for the rise of someone, anyone, who can take charge and lead us out of all these problems to a safer, saner world.  Perhaps a messiah—a global leader who is so charismatic, highly favored, intelligent, and in the right place at the right time for the world to place its faith and trust in him.  And, if he needs to institute a system to control buying and selling to make his plan work—so be it.  Many will decide that this is the only way to go.  They will follow him—the antichrist—and they will follow him straight to hell.

  1. Finally, in Romans 1:25,28,30 we learn this:

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen….Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done…slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;”

The UK  Daily Star dated January 19, 2019 has this headline: “Humans to download their SOULS onto microchips so they can ‘live FOREVER’.”  The article contains a couple of interesting quotes.  A Mr. Skellett says, “I see benefits from it [microchipping], but it also opens up a whole roster of other things—like being reborn.”  Our Mr. Skellett goes on to say, “Well, I would say that nurture is all to do with learning; you are a product of everything you have experienced, your likes and dislikes and that’s arguably your soul.  Your soul is you, it’s your beliefs, it’s your values.”

For as long as the recorded, secular history of man, he has sought the means to be immortal, e.g. with the Fountain of Youth.  We have cryogenics that freeze man and his brain, cloning, and even propagation of many offspring.  I saw an article the other day about a man who hopes to father 2,500 children.  He says he has already begotten 100 children.  His preferred, and least expensive, method is through direct sexual intercourse, but for a higher price he’ll also “help” others through artificial insemination.

The sad part of all this is that man is already immortal; it’s simply a matter of location, i.e. where will he spend eternity.  We all have a choice.  If we reject God, who offers the free gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, He allows us to suffer the consequences of that choice, namely, to remain separate from Him forever, in a horrible place known as the Lake of Fire.

However, if we choose Jesus through the repentance of our sins, believing in our heart that He is God, and confessing our faith in Him, then we are saved, i.e. born again.  Through this simple act we have the wonderful outcome that we will live forever with Christ in joy, peace, and the glory of God.