Deuteronomy 34:5-6 – The Holy Stapler

In reading Scripture, primarily the Old Testament, we see there are places where the author of a named book simply couldn’t have been the one who wrote certain passages.  There had to have been another person – an editor – who wrote parts of the work itself, or at least assembled the writings.  That concept tends to rub many of us the wrong way because of the inspiration of the Bible that we attribute to God and His chosen authors.

However, we plainly see this concept in operation in the closing chapter of Deuteronomy with the account of Moses’ death.  To choose a couple verses, consider Deuteronomy 34:5-6 which says:

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.

Unless Moses wrote this from the grave it’s obvious he didn’t put these words on the holy scroll.  And, if he didn’t write them, are they inspired?

Dr. Michael Heiser, author of The Unseen Realm, has a favorite phrase that many seem to attribute to describe the process by which a number of these OT books were written.; he calls it using the Holy Stapler.

It’s probably a little easier to see with the writings of other prophets besides Moses.  Let’s consider Ezekiel, as Dr. Heiser describes the undertaking:

Each day that Ezekiel gets up he makes many prophetic declarations; he often does some very strange things in the course of that day.  Now, he himself may write down some of the Words the Lord gives him, but he also has followers.  These men hang with Ezekiel day in and day out because they’re hungry to know the Word and the will of Yahweh.  This group of men came to be known as the School of the Prophets.  We see them show up in the accounts of Elijah and Elisha.

As Ezekiel spoke, it would not have been unusual for these men to capture the many things he said for posterity.  They never knew what Ezekiel would proclaim on a given day, or what prophetic concept he might act out, such as lying on one side or another for weeks to illustrate what Yahweh wanted conveyed, or going around naked to depict something else.  However, these students of the anointed prophet were always ready with pen and parchment to capture what he said and did.

Once the prophet died, someone in the group would likely say, “Hey, we need to put all that we know about Ezekiel together in a book for future generations.  Everybody go home and gather up all your writings.”  They would do this and bring back all the proverbial slips of paper and notebooks in which they’d written Ezekiel’s words.

The question then becomes: Did they simply assemble all these items into a nice neat pile, aligning all the edges just right, bring out the Holy Stapler, and go cah-thunk?  “Okay, there’s the book of Ezekiel – all done.”

Not likely.  They probably would have surveyed their group to find who was a good writer and/or someone with editing skills.  That person would have taken all these many bits and pieces of Ezekiel’s doings and sayings, put them into an agreed upon order, added some context, and created the book.  The concept of the Holy Stapler, where everything is just assembled willy-nilly, doesn’t really make sense.  There had to be an editor.

If that’s the case, going back to what we see in the final passage in Deuteronomy, another writer and/or an editor had to have at least put these words about the events surrounding his death into the book.  Another clue throughout Deuteronomy may be where Moses is referred to in the third person.  Perhaps Moses did that through the humility that’s attributed to him in Numbers 12:3:

Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.

Or, maybe someone else noted that about him.  In his humility, would Moses have actually stated that about himself?

This takes us back to inerrancy.  If the process of writing many of the OT books included one of assembly and editing, can we consider the result inerrant?

Of course we can!  God chose the main characters of these books.  He prepared them for what He intended in order to accomplish His purposes.  All they’d learned through reading and experience in life brought them to the place that God providentially wanted them to be.  If that’s true for Moses in the Old Testament or Paul in the New Testament, wouldn’t that also be the case for anyone else tasked with completing the given book of the Bible?  Wouldn’t God’s hand also be on each of those men?

I think we can safely say that would certainly be true.  We have the Holy Scriptures.  They came about through the inspiration of God working on whomever He chose to make His Word and will known.

We don’t have books created by the Holy Stapler; we have the Word of God superintended by Him to produce exactly what He intended.

Deuteronomy 32:17 – Gods They Had Never Known

Have I said this before?  I’m sure I have.  Context when reading the Bible is everything.  Consider The Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32.  Yahweh instructed Moses to recite the words of this song to all Israel (Deuteronomy 31:30).  They were Words of warning to God’s children because He knew their hearts and how unfaithful they would be.  He wanted to remind them from where they had come, the dangers of other gods, and the consequences of following them.  The context is that by pursuing other gods, Israel would bring upon herself Yahweh’s wrath.  He gives the promise of abundant blessing, but the primary intent of the song is to show how when Israel would ignore God and worship foreign gods instead, disaster would result.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 are verses that I’ve cited often as the Deuteronomy 32 Worldview:

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.

But the Lord’s portion is his people,

    Jacob his allotted heritage.

In previously mentioning these verses, I’ve stressed the importance of reading them in the only translation that gets it right – the English Standard Version (ESV).  (The ESV in these verses uses the Dead Sea Scrolls which provide the gold standard for translation.)  The reference of the passage is to the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11.  Mankind disobeys God to scatter throughout the earth.  He comes down and does the scattering for them, in the process confusing their language.  At this time Yahweh places His divine sons – the sons of God (bene Elohim) over all these newly created nations.  The job of these holy ambassadors is to point people to God while He shepherds the new nation of Israel as His special inheritance.

The reason I say this must be read in the ESV is because most other Bible translations, instead of saying “the sons of God,” say “children of Israel” or “sons of Israel.”  Why is this wrong?  Consider the context.

God is declaring that His children Israel have strayed far from Him.  He wanted them to remember the days of old, referring specifically to what occurred in Babel.  God reminds them that He alone was the God who cared for them; it’s always been that way.  But this is a prophetic song.  Yahweh states that Israel will grow fat and lax in following Him.

Why?  Because they looked to other gods.  In fact, Deuteronomy 32:17 is effectively a proof text for Deuteronomy 32:8:

They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,

    to gods they had never known,

to new gods that had come recently,

    whom your fathers had never dreaded.

The Hebrew word for demons is shedim.  It means the rebellious sons of God, having a geographical context; the word primarily coming from Mesopotamian origins.  The gods that had come recently were elohim, which, depending on context, means either gods or God.

Where did these foreign gods come from?  Surrounding nations.  How did they get there?  They were originally faithful princes in the heavenly realm, i.e. sons of God, who turned away from Him in disobedience, just like Satan did.  We get a glimpse of one of these mighty rulers over the nations in Daniel 10:13, when the angel Gabriel attempts to deliver a message to the prophet:

“The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.”

Who is the Prince of Persia?  Surely no human ruler could cause such delay for a powerful angel like Gabriel.  He is one of the shedim, one of the bene Elohim, who rules over the nation of Persia (now Iran).

Moses’ song continues by stating that these spiritual entities will turn the hearts of God’s children and make Him jealous for them.  They are gods that are no gods (Deuteronomy 32:21).  In other words, they are pretenders to their thrones.  Their very presence causes the Lord’s intense anger.  God’s wrath upon them is so great that in Psalm 82 we see that Yahweh gathers all the heavenly host into a Divine Council meeting and declares judgment upon His faithless sons.  In Psalm 82:6-7 God pronounces their fate:

I said, “You are gods,

    sons of the Most High, all of you;

nevertheless, like men you shall die,

    and fall like any prince.”

Angels cherubim, seraphim, sons of God – these are holy, spiritual beings.  They are immortal, i.e. they never die – right?

The transgression of these heavenly entities is so great, i.e. they’ve turned the hearts of so many against Yahweh – particularly the hearts of His children Israel – that He sentences them to death like any mere mortal.

There is a much larger story in the Song of Moses.  Gods that Israel had never known lured her into apostasy.  This is the context, i.e. that other gods exist and operate contrary to God’s will.

It’s the age-old story of Israel, and it’s our story as well.  Satan and his minions desire to lead humanity to the same fiery place of punishment where they will dwell for eternity.  The demonic powers in high places (Ephesians 6:12) will do everything they can to thwart God’s purposes in the earth, i.e. to redeem mankind so that in our glorified state we will inhibit eternity alongside what is now the heavenly host.

The more we understand the cosmic war in which we’re engaged, the better we can resist the enemy in the power of Jesus Christ.  Let’s study our Bibles well and engage Scripture with greater understanding by reading in context.

Awaken Prophecy Update 3-17-21: Takeover Plan

Awaken Prophecy Update 3-17-21: Cloward-Piven Communist Takeover Plan for America

Discussion Points:

  • History of Cloward-Piven
  • Intent of Cloward-Piven plan
  • Cloward-Piven 4-stage strategy
  • Cloward-Piven 8-step implementation plan
  • Today’s implementation
  • Ultimate outcome

 

Sources:

https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/03/communist-takeover-united-states-wayne-allyn-root/ 

https://prepareforchange.net/2020/04/06/americans-must-now-accept-the-hard-cold-reality-that-the-coronavirus-outbreak-is-intentionally-being-used-to-collapse-the-u-s-economy/?fbclid=IwAR1CErq_ba-4OujYJ45JIpO9Fe12_iKofrf5UG_Ci2cY_vacinEdm7ainzo

https://conduitforaction.org/the-cloward-piven-strategy-orchestrating-a-crisis-so-government-can-solve-it/

Deuteronomy 29:18 – Poisonous & Bitter Fruit

God so wanted His children Israel to love and follow only Him.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t an easy sell.  Spending 400 years in the midst of a pagan culture that worshiped many gods tainted them.  It wasn’t like what we’re told today in Hebrews 11:1 concerning our belief in Jesus Christ and all He has for us:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

First, Yahweh had to get their attention, which He did as noted in Deuteronomy 29:2-3:

And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders.

God did amazing things before the very eyes of His people so that they would see how different He was from the gods they’d known for centuries in Egypt.  Interestingly, even as Yahweh showed Israel all these signs and wonders, He withheld something vital , which Deuteronomy 29:4 tells us:

“But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”

In Old Testament times and even to the present, has God ever given Israel such a heart?  We know that in the final days of the Tribulation when all Israel is saved that their hearts will finally turn to Him (Zechariah 13:8-9), but prior?  Perhaps this is true only for the few who call on Jesus today and know Him as Messiah.

Moses made God’s desire plainly known in Deuteronomy 29:12-13, as he had conveyed many other times to His people:

“…so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today, that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

God wanted His children to settle in the Promised Land; to be fruitful and multiply in the many blessings He had planned for them.  Yet, knowing their sinful hearts, God warned them time and again of the pitfalls of looking elsewhere besides to Him.  Deuteronomy 29:18 spells it out:

“Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit.”

The danger always was, and continues to this day, for anyone – Jew or Gentile, one of the Chosen People or a true Christian – that pagan gods form a snare.  The gods of the other nations were real.  We’ve discussed this extensively that they are the fallen, rebellious sons of God (bene Elohim) who set themselves up in the place of Yahweh.  Just like the serpent’s whispered exhortation to Adam and Eve that they believed, so it likely was with these many spiritual beings: “You shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5).  Mankind believed the lie; God’s spiritual sons believed it as well.

Whether for human or divine, that deceit was and is a root that bears poisonous and bitter fruit.  As Christians, we know someone by their fruit, even as Jesus warned in Matthew 7:17-20:

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Anyone who follows false gods, or sets himself up as one, is rotten at the root.  The fruit such a person bears is worthless.  The worship of false gods leads to the fire, i.e. eternal damnation.

Because the people foolishly chose the gods of their neighbors rather than Yahweh, Israel suffered the consequences, of which she was warned as shown in Deuteronomy 29:23:

“… the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and wrath—”

God effectively threw the land of Israel itself into the fire because of the poison and bitterness of the root that had grown in the people’s hearts.  (Note: for a vivid description of this, read Mark Twain’s book The Innocents Abroad.)  It was a tough lesson.

However, because God chose Israel as His special inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:9), to love her and to be a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3); despite knowing that His children would betray Him, God declared that He would bring them back into the land after scattering them and bless it as He originally intended.

Israel today remains largely secular.  The people haven’t yet turned their hearts to the God of their fathers.  But, they will.  God has a plan and a purpose; He also has His timing.

That day is approaching.  How glorious it will be for those Jews who turn to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and how wonderful for all the world!

Deuteronomy 28:15 – All These Curses

Let’s do a thought experiment.  Suppose at the founding of America, God spoke to the men who led us so capably, who devised our Constitution, and who created our Republic.  Imagine that these men heard directly from God, who laid out some basic principles for our nation to follow.  Picture God saying to our founders the following from Deuteronomy 28:1:

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.”

Wouldn’t that be amazing?  Here is the God of all creation promising to make our nation greater than any other throughout the entire world.  But God doesn’t stop there.  He explicitly and extensively lays out what He means.  Literally everything the people of this land set their hands to, He will bless.  He will bring increase in every aspect of what they do.  This includes, all commerce, agriculture, economic prowess, and military superiority.  No other nation on the face of the earth could come against us and succeed.  Surely the inhabitants of our nation would jump at the prospect.  All each person would have to do would be to diligently follow God and do what he commanded.  That would bring such goodwill from the Lord that literally everyone would abound in God’s favor.

Would the people hearing of these potential blessings agree to follow God in this way?  What if they were given even more incentive?  What if God making all these promises also said there was a downside if they didn’t honor and revere Him; instead decided to go their own way and do whatever they wanted?  Carrot and stick.  What if God declared the negatives of such an arrangement as in Deuteronomy 28:15:

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.”

Not stopping there, in letting the people understand the import of His Words, what if God gave a thoroughly dispiriting list of all the horrible consequences that would befall America and its people should they turn away from Him?  The curses would include such a lengthy list that hearing all these bad things would be enough to depress anyone.  Among them would be failure in all commercial endeavors; plague and pestilence affecting their agricultural efforts; financial ruin; poor health; lack of any capability to defend the borders, leading to complete and overwhelming loss of national sovereignty; and one other awful result.  Because of the absence of any ability to do anything useful or worthy, and through the siege of our cities, many people would resort to cannibalism.  Mothers and fathers would eat their young and horde the flesh of their children, keeping others from partaking, even their spouses.

With that kind of failure looming with its terrible aftermath, wouldn’t the good people of America come together in agreement that following God and His commandments was a prudent and wonderful thing to do?

You’d think.

But just like the people of Israel when given these two options by Yahweh who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, who had given them His promises of blessings, and proof in many ways that He loved and cared for them, America would likewise turn away.

Why?  Because of sin, depravity, and self-gratification, i.e. the desire for people to do what they wish without Anyone looking over their shoulders and saying their actions are wrong.

No, America, if given these choices at our founding, would have acted in exactly the same manner as Israel did.  Israel rejected God.  They wanted to be like the nations around them and absorb their cultures and their gods.  This attitude triggered the many curses Yahweh declared and Israel went down.

Our nation wasn’t founded as a theocracy with its rulers consulting God and its people answering to Him.  At least not directly.  But all peoples everywhere must answer to a sovereign God.  They must respond to Him through the Spirit and truth He brings.  When they reject Him, they reject His promises of blessings and trigger His curses.  They may not be as specifically detailed as they were to Israel, but God has given His Word, which lays out exactly what he requires of mankind.  When men turn from Him, they can expect only the worst to happen.

However, if the people don’t know God and haven’t read His Word, their ignorance is no excuse.  God showers a nation and its people with mercy and grace, but He also draws a red line.  If that’s crossed with no turning back, just like with Israel, a nation will fall.

Although America isn’t Israel, we likewise have turned far from God.  The blessings from following Him are long gone.  Sadly, because of our hatred for Him as a nation, we can only expect a disastrous end.

If only we had listened and obeyed!

Deuteronomy 27:2-3 – Stones on Mount Ebal

When Yahweh delivered His children Israel from Egypt, He showed them clearly how He was different from every other god.  For four hundred years they had been immersed in a culture that worshiped the creation.  God declared there is One who made all of creation, and they were to lift only His Name on high.  Not only did He tell them, He gave them signs and wonders that no other god could do.  In order for Israel to “get it,” Yahweh had to provide the evidence of clear separation from all other gods.  God’s children had been surrounded by people who lived in ways and practiced many things that were anathema to Yahweh and His way.  He used that surrounding culture to distinguish Himself from all Israel had known and gave them commandments, precepts, statutes, rules, and laws by which to live.

The Ten Commandments were the basics of the moral law that demonstrated the virtues and characteristics of this all-consuming God who was new to the Israelites’s understanding.  Many of the items on this list were common sense and integral to the conscience God has given each human being, but the commandments in stone solidified what man already innately knew.  As the people of Israel were about to cross the Jordan, Moses reiterated the Law to those he had led for so long.  But, God wanted them to again have a clear demonstration of how He intended for them to live.

Yahweh instructed Moses, who conveyed to the elders, a physical, literal witness of the Law.  Deuteronomy 27:2-3 gives us His command:

“And on the day you cross over the Jordan to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall set up large stones and plaster them with plaster. And you shall write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over to enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you.”

Upon Mount Ebal, God had Moses set up large stones and plaster them over.  The Ten Commandments were then inscribed on the plaster for all to see.  Following that, Moses separated the tribes so that six of the elders of the twelve tribes stood on Mount Ebal and the other six stood on Mount Gerizim.  Those on Mount Ebal then called out the curses of the Law.

The picture God painted for the people was that disobeying the Law brought His curses upon them.  The Law brings only a curse.  By following the Law, one wouldn’t come under its curse, but who could live up to its demands?  That was the problem.  In their flesh, the Israelites would inevitably fail and realize the curse of the Law.  They might be able to avoid building a graven image or refrain from stealing, but who could live every day and not commit an infraction of some kind against such a holy God with His stringent requirements for righteousness?

But, God had a better plan that he would institute at the right time.  The Apostle Paul stated in Galatians 3:24:

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

We learn by the law.  We see that it is strict with no grace – no leniency.  It declares, it judges, and it punishes.  How wretched we are if we must live under the Law!

This is why Christ came.  The Law was an impossible taskmaster.  Jesus showed there’s a better way – the mercy of God.  It’s His mercy that enables us to be forgiven for our trespasses under the Law and to live by faith.  The grace of God cleanses us from the filth of our sin that accumulates in our human condition living apart from Him.

It is through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that we are given a reprieve from the Law when we believe.  Not all choose to accept the free gift of salvation that God offers us through His Son.  We who have chosen to receive this can only praise the Lord for His mercy that He convicted us of our great need and have turned to Him.

Thankfully, the stones on Mount Ebal no longer call out their curses to us. We hear a different voice – that of the love of our Savior.

Mark 14:71 – I Don’t Know This Man

Do you know Jesus?  Peter, one of His closest disciples declared that he didn’t.  Mark 14:71 reveals about Peter:

But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”

How could that be?  Peter had walked with Jesus for three years.  From the very first when Jesus called him, he responded without hesitation.  Can you imagine the miracles he saw?  Jesus healed the blind and the deaf.  He cast out numerous demons.  In Peter’s presence Jesus raised the dead.  Peter witnessed Jesus walk on water in the midst of a storm.  More than that, at Jesus’ command, Peter himself had walked on the turbulent waves.  On the heights of Mount Hermon, with his very eyes, Peter saw Jesus as He really was in all His glory, not to mention two of the most famous of all Israel’s prophets speaking to Him.  At a point of true revelation, Peter declared that Jesus was God.

Yet, in humanity’s darkest hour before Jesus was to be unjustly crucified, when confronted by the accusations of a little servant girl, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus.  What kind of man was this?  Where was his courage?  Where was the faith he had acquired during his amazing time with this God-man?  What was Peter’s problem?

It’s the one we all have.  We’re human.  Our flesh is weak.  To top it off, although Peter believed that God Himself was in their midst, neither he nor the other disciples had God living inside them.  None of them had yet received through faith the free gift of the Holy Spirit.  They didn’t have the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) living within.  Emmanuel had been with them but wasn’t in them.  That wouldn’t happen until later when Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)

What does Jeremiah 17:9 say?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

It all goes to show that without our Lord animating us and giving us life through His indwelling presence, we’re toast.  If Peter, this robust, presumably fearless fisherman, denied Jesus, what can any of us do?

Jesus said in Matthew 10;33:

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

1 John 2;23 follows that up with:

No one who denies the Son has the Father.

Is Peter then lost?  How can any of us stand?  Paul in Romans 1:16 made the definitive statement about this:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The truth of the matter is that first we must receive the Holy Spirit.  Without Him, true faith of any kind is impossible.  With Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Peter wept and repented.  He had grievously sinned, and he knew it.  Yet. he was still helpless as a mere man.

God knows our weaknesses.  He understands that even with the Holy Spirit there are times our faith and courage fail us.  There are numerous stories of such failures among believers who are persecuted and caused to suffer.  In that trial, the pain of their flesh overwhelmed them.  The stories are also plentiful of these same men and women repenting and recanting, then being tortured once more but standing firm in Christ.

God is infinitely merciful.  Wrapping our heads around that fact is something we all struggle with.  God loves us with an everlasting love.  He wants none to perish, but all to have eternal life with Him.  He alone makes our faith possible.  Only His holy presence living inside us gives us the ability to stand – to not be ashamed.  Yet, we still may fail.  In the midst of that, God continues to woo us to Himself.  If we have fallen. He will pick us up.  He redeemed Peter.  He will redeem us.

Lord. give us the strength to stand for You.  We know that trials and tribulations will come.  Pick us up.  Place us back on our feet.  Keep us on the firm footing that we have only in Jesus.  We ask this in His holy Name.

Deuteronomy 22:21 – An Outrageous Thing

Consider how the morals in America – as well as in the world – have changed through the years.  Do you think they’ve improved.  Are they pleasing to God?  Sadly, no.

When Yahweh chose Israel to be His special heritage (Deuteronomy 32:9), it was to raise up a nation wholly devoted to Him, so that it could then be a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3).  God wanted to pour out His favor upon all mankind because of His great love for His creation.

Free will – a gift to man – was also our downfall.  It is free will that enables us to choose – to be independent agents from God.  Because of the free will He gave us, we are moral creatures separate from Him, not robots that act only in accord with what He desires.

God gave each man a conscience, i.e. an imprint of His character and virtues.  Being made in the image of God, we start out with the knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil.  However, the nature of our heart is wicked, deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).  Our sin nature quickly challenges the goodness that God implants in each of us.  Through our free will choices and the sin that pulls us away from the good that is God, our conscience doesn’t last long in that pristine imaging of God in which it began.  Every act contrary to God’s nature hardens us a little more and separates us from who He is and what we could be.

Through the nation of Israel, God intended to show the sinful world there was a better way than that which man (and the world) decided was best.  God made humanity, male and female (Genesis 1:27), and effectively declared that only when a woman left her father’s house was she to have sexual relations with a man (Genesis 2:24).  They were to be monogamous in their relationship.

That didn’t last long.  We see in Genesis 4:19 that by the seventh generation from Adam and Eve, Lamech took two wives.  Did that contribute to his moral character, or lack thereof?  Several verses later in Genesis 4:23, Lamech declares that he has killed a man, following in the footsteps of his great, great, great grandfather Cain.  We also know that during this period the sons of God descended from their heavenly abode to take human women for themselves (Genesis 6:1-4) and that this caused contamination of the human bloodline and depravity to enter the world.  Sin plus depravity equals abomination in God’s eyes.

In trying to teach His children Israel His ways rather than those of the world around them, Yahweh laid out certain laws regarding sexual immorality.  In expounding on these laws, God let it be known that a young woman – a virgin – was to remain that way while in her father’s house until she should be married.  This was so important to retain morality in the land that He declared in Deuteronomy 22:20-21:

“But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

A number of times throughout the book of Deuteronomy, God emphasizes that Israel should “purge the evil from your midst.”  In the sight of God, the loss of a woman’s virginity, i.e. her innocence, was such an outrageous thing that it had to be met with the death of the young woman.  Wow.  Why was that?  Because of the continuing corruption of morals that sex outside of marriage brought into the thinking of a family, a village, and the nation.

The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:24-25 explained what happens to man’s thinking in this context:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Lust brings impurity, which leads to the dishonoring of one’s body, which causes someone to believe a lie, which inspires that person to worship creation rather than the Creator God.  Sexual immorality is the road one travels to apostasy.

Is it any wonder that in our world today – in this once great nation of America – we have fallen so far from God and the truth of His Son, Jesus Christ?  Even though it had been present from close to the very beginning, once we embraced the notion that sex outside of marriage (or multiple intimate relationships) was the good and proper way for us to have male-female relations, everything went downhill from there.

The 1950s was a decade portrayed as promoting the nuclear family.  Remember shotgun weddings?  A young woman sexually engaging with a young man brought shame to the family.  That all changed in the 1960s – the decade of free love.

Look at where we are now.

God has His good and righteous reasons for every command He gives us.  This nation doesn’t have much time left before it dissolves and merges into the rest of the world as the global mindset brings us down to the lowest common denominator of worldly morals.  However, true Christians continue to have the choice of honoring God.

The only way we can be salt and light in the midst of the rot and decay of the culture around us is to be obedient to God in all ways.  Anyone who considers him- or her- self a Christ-follower and is in an immoral relationship, i.e. a sexual relationship outside of marriage, must make that right before God.  There is a price to pay for immorality.

If we don’t stand with and for God in all He stands for; we stand against Him.

Deuteronomy 18:20 – The Prophet Who Presumes

Recent years have seen the rise of a whole class of so-called prophets and apostles.  Their lineage comes from what has previously been known as Dominionism or Kingdom Now theology.  These New Apostoloic Reformation (NAR) adherents are generally considered to be part of the hyper-charismatic movement.  They believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but to an extreme extent.  One of their main doctrines is the belief that they are a new generation of those called by God to shepherd the church.  They consider themselves anointed and effectively on a par with the apostles of Jesus’ day to declare the words they speak are from God Himself.  As a result, they will proclaim, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Truth be told, their prophetic declarations have been a mixed bag.  It appears they get some pronouncements correct, whereas they also make many prophecies that do not come to pass.  When in error, they say they simply didn’t hear correctly from the Lord and experience no rebuke.  Their community appears to be quite accepting of incorrect prophecies.  Those who follow this group of NAR apostles and prophets – which is quite large on a worldwide scale and infiltrated to many churches in America and elsewhere – don’t seem to have an issue with receiving false words in the Name of God.  They’ll highlight the predictions that have apparently come to pass and ignore those which didn’t.

As with all things we encounter in this world, it’s important to hold them up to the standard from the Word of God.  Do they pass the test of God’s approval as shown in Scripture, or do they fail?

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 gives us this standard by which to judge prophets:

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”

Several injunctions in this passage jump out as we consider this issue:

  1. The prophet who presumes to speak in God’s Name
  2. The prophet who speaks in the name of other gods
  3. The prophet who speaks in the Name of the Lord whose word does not come to pass
  4. God declares this prophet presumptuous
  5. God says don’t fear such a prophet
  6. God declares the false prophet shall die

That’s a high standard for prophets.  According to the Bible, any prophet who speaks as though his words come from God, and his foretelling doesn’t materialize, God declares that he is presumptuous – a false prophet – and deserves the death penalty!

How is it that these men and women running around with the self-proclaimed titles of apostles or prophets suffer no consequences?  Why do they continue to be lauded as successors of the apostles who walked with Jesus?  How is it they have no fear of giving wrong prophecies in God’s Name?

The so-called pandemic of the Wuhan virus has brought many prophetic words from these NAR seers.  They’ve made declarations that were supposed to stop the infestation in its tracks, pronounced insights into various behind-the-scenes machinations, and prophesied extraordinary healings.  Most of these things never happened.

In contrast, an interesting phenomenon also arose in this time of chaos and confusion; those who had dream visions, but never proclaimed they were prophets.  The most prominent of these was Pastor Dana Coverstone of a small church in Kentucky.  He posted the dreams he began having for his congregation, and they went viral with hundreds of thousands of people watching and hearing.

At the time of this writing, Pastor Dana has probably had twenty or so dreams.  In his conveying of what he’s seen in these visions, he has fervently believed they are from God.  The one thing Pastor Dana has continually declared is that he is not a prophet.  He indicates he is being obedient to God in relaying the dreams, but he has stressed that people can make up their own minds as to the veracity of them.  In this author’s opinion, the dreams have been highly symbolic, yet extremely accurate in their portrayal of that which is occurring in the political realm and in the church.

What does God’s Word have to say about dreamers?  We get the best description of this in Joel 2:28-29, which is then echoed by Peter in Acts 2:17-18.  From Joel:

“And it shall come to pass afterward,

    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

    your old men shall dream dreams,

    and your young men shall see visions.

Even on the male and female servants

    in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

“Afterward” in Joel becomes “in the last days” in Peter’s rendition.  A couple questions arise:

  1. In what time period is this prophesied to occur?
  2. Who are the sons and daughters?

As to question #1, it seems as though it could pertain both to the time leading up to the Tribulation, as well as during that most horrible of seven years.  If it applies to these latter days before the Rapture and the subsequent Tribulation, what we’re seeing from Pastor Dana (and actually many others who are reporting dreams from God) is a fulfillment of this prophecy.

Regarding question #2, the sons and daughters are ordinary people; certainly not those who claim an imprimatur from God and having any special type of anointing.

The important thing to also notice is that this is something God said would happen and has His approval.  There is no negative connotation with people having prophetic dreams, and no penalty associated with their foretelling.

So, what are we to think about these two very different situations of prophecy?  As noted earlier, we must hold everything up to the light of God’s Word.  We should be Bereans as noted in Acts 17:11:

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Just as critical, we should be as the men of Issachar from 1 Chronicles 12:32:

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times…

Knowing where we are on God’s prophetic time clock is critical.  Prophetic words and dream visions can help us to understand this – as long as they are truly from the Lord.

As Pastor Dana stresses, we should pray about what we hear and make sure Jesus is at the forefront of everything prophetic.

Why?  Because that’s what God’s Word instructs us in Revelation 19:10:

“Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Mark 13:19 – In Those Days

The disciples must have been astounded at what Jesus told them during what we know as the Olivet Discourse.  They had exclaimed about the grandeur of the temple, and He told them it would be completely destroyed.  They asked when that would happen and what the sign indicating the temple’s destruction would be, and He told them about the end of the Church Age.  Talk about a non-sequitur!  The future that Jesus bombarded them with must have had their minds reeling.

There were many disturbing things that Jesus told the disciples.  Given their initial focus on the temple, what must they have thought when He spoke of its desecration?  In Mark 13:14, Jesus said:

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Of course, the parenthetical admonition was Mark’s as the author.  But how shocked the disciples must have been at Jesus saying this about the temple.  They must have immediately reflected on the event perpetrated by the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes some 200 years prior in 167 BC.  His army had come into Jerusalem and captured the city.  He thrust aside the altar of Yahweh and erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus in its place.  On that altar, he sacrificed a pig, an unclean animal, to show his disdain for the Lord God of Israel.

Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking?  “What?  Our sacred temple will be desecrated once again?  How can this be?  How can Yahweh allow such a thing?”

Then it gets worse.  Jesus tells them that not only will this beautiful temple be destroyed, but the people of Jerusalem will of necessity flee from the city.  Now, the way Jesus foretold this wasn’t chronological.  The disciples couldn’t apprehend the sequence of events.  We know from history that the Second Temple during Jesus’ time was the one that would not have a single stone remaining on top of another.  This temple was razed in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed it completely.  The reason no stone remained, as Jesus described, was due to the fire that burned everything to the ground and melted all the gold furnishings.  To get at this rich bounty, the Roman soldiers literally tore the stones apart in their goldlust.

Jesus then jumped 2,000 plus years into the future to discuss the next temple desecration during the 7-year Tribulation.  By saying the Second Temple would be destroyed, then telling the disciples the temple would be desecrated, He was clearly saying that a Third Temple would be built in order for these things to happen.

At the time of this horrendous event, the warning Jesus gave is of grave importance to the Jews in Israel today and for believers who come to Christ during that Tribulation period.  Jesus says in Mark 13:19-20:

“For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.”

Jesus warns of the terrible final 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation.  It will be so bad that He admonishes the Israelites to flee immediately once the temple event occurs.  Don’t turn back to get anything, He warns.  You won’t have time.  For those who have become His followers during the Tribulation, He tells them that as they see this day approaching to pray for it to happen during a propitious time.  Winter can be difficult in Israel with rains and flooding streams making travel a challenge.  If it’s Sabbath (sundown Friday through sundown Saturday) all transportation in Israel is shut down.  No buses, trains, or taxis will be running.  Those without a vehicle will be forced to ride with those who have cars or flee on foot.  They will be heading toward Petra in Jordan, which is about 125 miles away.  If a woman is pregnant, her difficulties will be amplified during this time of flight.

Jesus describes this last half of the Tribulation as the worst time ever in the history of the world.  The stresses and challenges for mankind will be enormous – in fact, beyond man’s ability to cope.  The one piece of good news that Jesus brings is that the Tribulation has an expiration date.  If God allowed the events during this period to continue, all humanity would be destroyed.  But, God has mercy upon those who come to know Him through His storm of judgment.  He will cut short the event and limit it to only seven years.  Beyond that and nothing on this earth would be left.

This day is indeed approaching.  It bodes great darkness for those on the earth who haven’t previously confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord, and been snatched away by Him as a protection for His Bride.

That’s the exceedingly Good News in this story.  Christ will not allow His beloved to be beaten and destroyed prior to their wedding.  He loves His true church too much – those who love Him and desire with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength to honor and revere Him.  All we can say is , Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy!