Ephesians 2:2 – The Sons of Disobedience

The extent to which dark spiritual forces influence the world isn’t well understood.  Most Christians acknowledge that the enemy, Satan, our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Because the Bible places so much emphasis on Satan – which is certainly not unjustified – few people recognize the scope of our opposition.  Here’s the thing: Satan doesn’t work alone.  He happens to be at the top of the heap of rebellious divine beings arrayed against God and His creation, but the empire of darkness encompasses a massive army.

We’re most familiar with this concept because of the well-known passage in Ephesians 6:12:

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

This gives us the recognition that a wicked hierarchy exists in the invisible realm.  What we typically fail to see is that the Bible addresses this kingdom of darkness throughout its pages.  Consider what Paul said in Ephesians 1:20-21 in describing the majesty and dominion of God the Father:

… that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Here again this hierarchy is in view.  But who, or what, comprises it?  What is every name that is named now and in future times?

Most of us are aware of the rebellion of the sons of God (bene Elohim) that occurred pre-flood as told in Genesis 6:1-4.  Lesser known is the subsequent fall of God’s divine sons following man’s arrogant building of the Tower of Babel.  God looked upon this structure and knew that its concept was of evil origin.  He scattered mankind into nations and confused their language so as to make a repetition of this effort exceedingly difficult.  But God didn’t stop there.  In Deuteronomy 32:8 we learn of His next move:

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.

Please note that you must read this in the ESV Bible translation, or you won’t see the implication.  Most translations – instead of saying “sons of God” – say something like “sons of Israel” or “children of Israel.”  We learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls – a much earlier source used for the ESV – that the correct phrase is sons of God.

The correct understanding of this is crucial.  From it we gain the true perspective of the scope of the demonic empire in place throughout the world.  In order to superintend all nations of the world – except Israel, which belonged to Yahweh – He placed His loyal, divine sons over them.  They were to superintend mankind while God dealt exclusively with Israel.  Part of their job description was to point men back to Yahweh.  Instead of doing this, they rebelled, just as their brothers had done prior to the flood.  Each of these mighty bene Elohim set himself up as divine ruler over his assigned nation.  None remained loyal to their Father.  It is from this sequence of events that we subsequently see many different gods ruling over the nations of the earth.  They are dark princes, extremely powerful.  We get a sense of this from Daniel 10 in which the Prince of Persia hinders the angel Gabriel in coming to Daniel with his message.

A day is coming in which these rebellious beings will be judged.  This is what Psalm 82 is all about, i.e. God’s displeasure with His disobedient sons, and His judgment upon them as shown in Psalm 82:6-7:

I said, “You are gods,

    sons of the Most High, all of you;

nevertheless, like men you shall die,

    and fall like any prince.”

That time of death, i.e. God’s removal of their immortality is coming.  It’s a main reason these beings are rising up so violently in these latter days.  They – like Satan – know their time is short, and they will do whatever necessary to preserve themselves.

Going back to Ephesians 1:21, it is these gods over the nations that are the names currently named by men.  They continue in place from ancient times and will have their evil day in full during the Tribulation.  Satan’s empire includes all these gods of old, by whatever name they’ve used, be it Baal, Molech, Chemosh, and many others.  Their combined might will cause chaos and confusion in the earth, even as God reigns down His wrath upon mankind.  This is why the Tribulation will see such supernatural evil.  It will be pervasive due to the works of these many princes who hate the Lord Jesus and His creation.

Paul speaks of these wicked rulers in conjunction with Satan.  Consider how Paul describes the state of unredeemed man in Ephesians 2:1-3:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Every person alive was subject to these gods as they cooperated with Satan in his earthly kingdom as the prince of the power of the air.  This demonic spirit is what animates these spiritual sons of disobedience.  It is under their dominion that unbelievers live and carry out every evil deed coming from their sinful nature.  Due to this combination of man’s sin and the depravity these rebellious divine beings have taught their human students, all are by nature children of wrath.

It’s the incredible mercy of God that provides us an escape from the clutches of this kingdom of darkness.  Through the blood-bought gift of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection, we have life.  This is the message of Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV):

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

The arrogance and pride that is so integral to Satan and his princely minions – and which has been imparted so well to their human cohort – is something we must place at the foot of the cross when we come to know the Lord Jesus.  He has done the work of salvation.  None of our efforts mean a thing.  He has saved us.  All we need to do is say yes to His kindness and love.

Through Him, we can echo David in Psalm 108:1 (NASB):

My heart is steadfast, O God;

I will sing, I will sing praises even with my soul.

Awaken Bible Prophecy Update 9-29-21 – Disregarding Signs of the Times

There is only a small number of Bible prophecy teachers who are proclaiming the soon-return of Jesus Christ in the Rapture.  Based on the Word of God and confirmation of what we see happening in the world around us, we have no doubt that the time of the end is rapidly nearing.  What is considered history as we know it is soon to be disrupted because of the direct intervention of God.

Sadly, while a great number of secular people know that SOMETHING is on the horizon – although they don’t know what – far too many in the church are seemingly oblivious – or willfully ignorant – of the complete breakdown of literally EVERYTHING in the world and what that means.  Given the complete destruction of our nation as we know it through the medical and governmental tyranny that has risen to such unprecedented levels, the natural disasters that are battering the world, and the astounding departure from Biblical truth plaguing churches everywhere, one would think that many churches would be curious and seek out what Scripture has to say about these issues.  If more than a very few churches are doing this, I have yet to hear of it.  It seems as if most churches are simply doing their thing and avoiding Biblical prophecy as they’ve always done.

We’re going to discuss at a high level a number of clear signs that are present – which God has graciously given us – that indicate the hour is almost nie when Jesus Christ will step back into human history, but in a radically different way than He did 2,000 years ago.  When we ignore what God wants to tell us through these signs that correlate with His Word, what does that mean?  Are there consequences for those who should know better but choose not to?  By avoiding the implications of Bible prophecy, what does that mean for the church – and more specifically – for the leaders of the flocks who should be bringing the truth about ALL of God’s Word?

Ephesians 1:9 – The Mystery of His Will

In Scripture, we’re told that there are multiple mysteries of God.  The classic definition of a Biblical mystery is that it’s something which is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New.  One of the most amazing mysteries to which we’re introduced in the Bible is the joining of Jews and Gentiles into one people together in Christ Jesus.  The OT said in many places that the Jews in Israel would be a blessing to all nations on the earth.  How that would happen was never exactly described, so the ancient readers of the entire collection of writings in the Tanakh never understood that promise.  They certainly had no idea that when Jesus came, He would bring the fulfillment of it to unite Jews and Gentiles through His Body, His church.

There is another mystery that flows from the goodness of God in Christ Jesus that is also mind boggling.  The verses in Ephesians 1:7-10 outline both the promise and the process:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

This passage is chock full of descriptive words that help us understand how everything works together to fulfill the promise and reveal the mystery.

Everything that happens to bring this about is a result of Jesus and His work on the cross.  It is in Him that all this begins.  The blood He shed for us brings about our redemption, in other words the ransom that must be paid.  Paid for what?  As Romans 3:23 tells us:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Because we have committed many trespasses against God, we require His forgiveness, or His pardon that frees us from the penalty we’ve incurred through our sinful disobedience.  This is possible only because of the spiritual riches that Jesus has in abundance, and which are given to us through His grace, i.e. His kindness and favor.

And what has Jesus done with this spiritual wealth?  He has lavished it upon us.  He has gone over and above in giving us His substance and prosperity beyond what we could ever expect.

Now we come to the mystery, i.e. that which can only be seen and understood through the revelation of God.  It had been hidden up to the time of Paul’s writing, but through this and other NT epistles, it was made known.

God has an expansive plan of redemption.  He intends to return the world to an Edenic state.  We see this promise in John’s vision in Revelation 21:1:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

From our current, limited, flashy perspective, we can’t even imagine what this will be like.  However, we do know a couple things.  God has a spiritual family, just as He has an earthly one.  We see evidence of this family throughout Scripture in the form of the sons of God (bene Elohim) and in the various other entities we know as angels, cherubim, and seraphim.  Just as on earth where believers gather to worship God as the Body of Christ, these spiritual entities come together in His presence in heaven.  This is shown in various Scriptures, such as in the gathering of the sons of God in Job 1:6, 2:1; the prophet Micaiah’s vision in 1 Kings 22:19, where a lying spirit is put into the mouths of Ahab’s prophets; and through John’s vision in Revelation 4 with the elders on their thrones and the living creatures giving God all glory; among others.  These heavenly assemblies are what are known as Divine Council scenes.  They show a gathering of the spiritual entities that inhabit heaven, and which are all part of His divine family.

We know that God has a spiritual family and a human family that are today separate and distinct.  But, God has a plan for the fullness of time.  Can we even begin to comprehend this?  The day is coming that He will unite all things in Him.  Who or what?  Things in heaven and on earth.

To put it another way, God will bring together these two families into one at the future point when He creates the New Heavens and the New Earth.  This is beyond the Millennial Reign of Christ.  During that 1,000 year period, believers who have been Raptured will have glorified bodies, i.e. we will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2).  Moreover, at that time, God will give us the responsibility of judging angels that have rebelled against Him (1 Corinthians 6:3).

However, God’s ultimate plan goes far beyond these things.  He will bring the divine and the glorified together, united as one single family.  In this new reality, much work will be required.  Presumably the new Eden will need taming just as the original paradise did.  After a couple million years of this combined family effort, God will surely continue to keep us busy, perhaps among the stars; who knows?

The one thing we can be assured of is that God will give us good and pleasant meaningful work, along with any rest we need.  Paul sums up this promise in Ephesians 1:11:

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

In fact as Paul concludes in Ephesians 1:13-14:

… In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

God’s seal of promise – His Holy Spirit – is our guarantee that He will accomplish all that He has planned and purposed – to His glory!

Isaiah 13:20 – Babylon Never Again Inhabited

What is the eschatological secret of Babylon?  Many have tried to understand this over the years.  I confess that I am one of them.  There are two primary narratives as to what is end-times Babylon.  What is most popular?  Which account makes the most sense – at least to me?

Babylon has a long and storied history.  It is the physical location of dark spiritual ambitions that have spread like ever-increasing waves across the face of the planet.  Babylon’s anti-God fervor is legendary.  The city and region are famous for the Plains of Shinar, where Nimrod led the effort to build the Tower of Babel.  Dark magic arts from its deeply demonic roots have swept over mankind and bewitched many.  It has been the locus of evil since time immemorial.

In New Testament times, Babylon was used as a code word for Rome.  When the apostles wrote letters referring to Rome, they often used the term Babylon to throw off any authorities that might get their hands on the epistles and cause harm to the community of Roman believers.

One focus of the final book of the Bible is on the fate of Babylon described in Revelation 17-18.  Here we encounter two aspects of the city: religious and commercial.  Many Bible prophecy teachers agree that religious Babylon is Rome, or more specifically, the Vatican.  There is enough evidence to convincingly suggest that the Harlot riding the Beast in Revelation 17 is the Roman Catholic Church, which is also prophetically seen symbolically as the Church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29.

The dispute arises as to the identity of commercial Babylon.  Is it also Rome?  I believe this is the most popular view.  Or is it the literal, historical Babylon in modern day Iraq?  I think part of the problem in accurately identifying its eschatological location has to do with the description given in Revelation 17:5 (KJV):

And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.

There is a mystery associated with Babylon.  I personally believe part of the mystery is wrapped up in its identity as both a commercial and religious center.  It is The Mother Of Harlots.  It is also associated with the Abominations Of The Earth.  Are they one and the same, or different?

Revelation 17 seems to be clear as to the destruction of the Harlot world religion by the Ten Kings.  A good case can be made that they ravish and destroy the Catholic Church as a religion along with the physical Vatican.  Surely this institution has wielded great dominion over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18).  Dave Hunt in A Woman Rides the Beast (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1565071999) thoroughly outlines this fact.

Revelation 18 pictures the coming apocalypse upon Babylon.  The following verses give an illustration of this:

v2: And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!

    She has become a dwelling place for demons,

a haunt for every unclean spirit,

    a haunt for every unclean bird,

    a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.

v8: For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,

    death and mourning and famine,

and she will be burned up with fire;

    for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

v10: They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

“Alas! Alas! You great city,

    you mighty city, Babylon!

For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

v17: “For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

The question remains: Is it Rome or actual Babylon to which these refer?

There are good and cogent arguments for the location of religious Babylon to be Rome.  However, I look at the Old Testament prophecies – oracles concerning Babylon and God’s judgment – and I come to a different conclusion.  One of the main issues I see is that the ancient site has never been destroyed as God declares it will.

Let’s look at several of these prophecies.  In Isaiah 13, I think we see a then and future oracle.  It appears to me that the prophecy is declaring both destruction of Babylon during that OT period, but also looks forward to the Tribulation.  The different timeframes are interwoven because Isaiah, as with most prophets, didn’t/couldn’t differentiate when exactly one portion or another of their prophetic Word would occur.  For instance, Isaiah 17:17 speaks of God stirring up the Medes.  In fact, it was the Mede and Persian empires that succeeded Babylon as a world power.  However, Isaiah 13:9-16 seems like a description that fits the awful seven years of the Tribulation.  Immediately following the reference to Babylon in Isaiah’s time, the prophecy appears to revert to end-times, as we see in Isaiah 13:20-22:

It will never be inhabited

    or lived in for all generations;

no Arab will pitch his tent there;

    no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.

But wild animals will lie down there,

    and their houses will be full of howling creatures;

there ostriches will dwell,

    and there wild goats will dance.

Hyenas will cry in its towers,

    and jackals in the pleasant palaces;

its time is close at hand

    and its days will not be prolonged.

I think we can safely say this has never yet happened.  There has been activity there for years since Saddam Hussein wanted to rebuild the area to his glory.  Interestingly, the last time I looked on Google Earth, the location of Babylon was blurred out.  Why?  I have no idea.  As some Bible prophecy teachers suspect, is this the future HQ of Antichrist, perhaps in the form of a relocated United Nations?  Again – I don’t know, but it’s not something I would discount.

In Isaiah 21:9 the prophet states what is echoed in Revelation 18:2 quoted above:

And behold, here come riders,

    horsemen in pairs!”

And he answered,

    “Fallen, fallen is Babylon;

and all the carved images of her gods

    he has shattered to the ground.”

Here is a key verse in Isaiah 47:11:

But evil shall come upon you,

    which you will not know how to charm away;

disaster shall fall upon you,

    for which you will not be able to atone;

and ruin shall come upon you suddenly,

    of which you know nothing.

Isaiah is not alone in foretelling Babylon’s fall.  Note Jeremiah 50:12-13:

… Behold, she shall be the last of the nations,

    a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.

Because of the wrath of the Lord she shall not be inhabited

    but shall be an utter desolation;

everyone who passes by Babylon shall be appalled,

    and hiss because of all her wounds.

Jeremiah 50:40 states:

As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring cities, declares the Lord, so no man shall dwell there, and no son of man shall sojourn in her.

And Jeremiah 51:26:

No stone shall be taken from you for a corner

    and no stone for a foundation,

but you shall be a perpetual waste,

    declares the Lord.

A final one (although there are more) from Jeremiah 51:64:

… ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’

As you can see, there is quite an extensive litany of foretellings regarding Babylon’s demise.  From what I can see, none of them have a symbolic reference that could lead one to think they refer to Rome rather than the actual city of Babylon.

The one argument I could possibly concede from those who believe Rome is in view in Tribulation is Revelation 18:24:

And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,

    and of all who have been slain on earth.”

As Bill Salus (whose prophetic insights I love) points out (The Next Prophecies, pg. 206), this implies that Babylon – whichever location –  had to be responsible for the death of two or more of God’s prophets or apostles.  That would seem to mean that only Rome fits the bill.  It certainly rules out New York City or Mecca, as some believe.  My take on that is to refer to the fact that we’re dealing with an unrevealed mystery.  Were these men of God killed in the city of Rome (certainly some were), or could the mystery of Babylon refer to the demonic system arising out of its dark depths that has surely killed many more prophets and apostles?

If you’ve ever wondered what Bible prophecy teachers discuss and contend about, this is an inside peek at one of those issues.

Perhaps in the days ahead that we spend with the Lord following the Rapture, we’ll learn the truth of the matter.  One of the things that’s important to keep in mind is that it’s unlikely whether any single one of us will be completely right in our eschatological interpretations.  Only God knows the end from the beginning and the final resolution of these matters.

That should keep us humble.

Isaiah 10:5 – The Rod of His Anger

God sometimes uses the unjust to punish those He loves because they, too, have been unjust.

A statement like this may not go down well with many in today’s modern church.  Surely, if God loves us, He wouldn’t allow others who hate Him to harm His elect!  How could that be?  Our God is a God of love who only brings good things into our lives despite our failures.  It must be that when bad things happen, they are the work of Satan outside the will of God.

If this is what you believe, you may want to read a little deeper into your Bible in the Old Testament to see how the Lord dealt with His unruly, unfaithful, ungodly people Israel.  Isaiah shows us this truth.  When those who are supposed to be righteous and following God’s decrees are deliberately sinful by elevating their own desires above those of God’s, and when they lift up other gods in His place, they will be punished.  Not only that, but Yahweh will use other people who have no use for Him as His vessels of righteousness.

As He so often had to do, God rebuked Israel for her selfish ways that disregarded His just commands.  Israel denied justice to the needy; she robbed the poor; her widows were abused; and orphans of the land were used (Isaiah 10:1-2).  God saw it all and was displeased.  This is how the prophet stated God’s displeasure of Israel in Isaiah 10:3-4:

What will you do on the day of punishment,

    in the ruin that will come from afar?

To whom will you flee for help,

    and where will you leave your wealth?

Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners

    or fall among the slain.

For all this his anger has not turned away,

    and his hand is stretched out still.

It was God who would bring punishment to His people.  He would do so through an enemy that would come from a great distance.  In the execution of His just reward upon those who were supposed to love and obey Him, He would subsequently exact revenge upon the very enemy that was the instrument of His chastisement.

In this case, what was the nation God used to act as His right hand of wrath?  We see the answer in Isaiah 10:5-6:

Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger;

    the staff in their hands is my fury!

Against a godless nation I send him,

    and against the people of my wrath I command him,

to take spoil and seize plunder,

    and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

The godless nation was Israel.  God would use Assyria to bring great destruction upon her because she had been so unfaithful.

But look at Isaiah’s next Word as to Assyria’s fate in Isaiah 10:12:

When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes.

Assyria was a ruthless, godless nation.  Does that matter?  How can an idolatrous nation that follows other gods do what the Lord requires?  Proverbs 21:1 gives us that answer:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;

    he turns it wherever he will.

How mighty is the Lord!  The king of Assyria would do as God required.  Can anyone resist His will?  Not one, despite his hatred and disregard for his creator.

We know that after Assyria – the most feared and ruthless peoples on the face of the earth – overran the Northern Kingdom of Israel that this nation eventually fell to one greater.  Babylon succeeded Assyria to then also be used by God to bring utter destruction to the wayward Jews of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Despite God’s rebuke and severe punishment of Israel, He always left a remnant through which He would bring about His purposes.  As Isaiah 10:21-23 states:

A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.

Notice how it’s phrased that this annihilation is righteous.  When God decrees something, it flows from His love and mercy, even something as grievous to us in the flesh as utter devastation.

The ultimate result for God’s Chosen People in His Promised Land is outlined in Isaiah 11, which is an amazing description of what the world will look like in the 1,000 years of Christ’s Millennial Reign.

All that God does or allows has purpose.  Can Satan act outside His permission?  Absolutely not!

All around us today we see the workings of dark and devious forces.  They are utterly demonic and appear to be sweeping us away into a lawless, chaotic, and grievous existence.  But they are not operating independently of God’s plans and purposes.  Just like we see in Job 1-2, Satan must ask Yahweh for permission to do anything.  Whether harm or restraint, the enemy cannot accomplish his evil desires unless God decrees.

Why would the Lord allow such awful destruction to come upon the world as we’re currently seeing?  Why would He provide the means for those who hate Him, such as Marxists and Islamists, to tear down so much of what we consider as good?

God’s ultimate motive is to destroy sin and all its effects, both in mankind and in the earth itself.  He has to allow sin and deprivation to grow and flourish to such an extent that He can winnow out the population of the world.  Who will choose to follow Jesus Christ?  Who will deny Him?  The same decisions must be made by those in the church so as to truly separate the sheep and wolves.  Is a professing Christian actually one who belongs to God, or is he a ChINO – Christian In Name Only?

What is our response to this as true believers in Christ Jesus?  I think that God’s instructions to Israel can certainly pertain to us in this regard as we see in Isaiah 12:1-2:

You will say in that day:

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,

    for though you were angry with me,

your anger turned away,

    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;

    I will trust, and will not be afraid;

for the Lord God is my strength and my song,

    and he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 9:10 – The Bricks Have Fallen

Some of you are familiar with the book written several years ago by Jonathan Cahn called The Harbinger (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IYEQKI/).  In examining the ancient prophecies of Israel, Cahn saw a parallel warning that applied to America.  His book and explanation were controversial, but Bible prophecy always is.

The initial warning that Isaiah related from the Lord fell upon the divided land of Israel, i.e. the Northern Kingdom, in the form of Ephraim and Samaria.  The Northern Kingdom had aligned with Syria to come against Judah, the Southern Kingdom.  This fearsome combined army intended to destroy Jerusalem and the House of David.  The threat was so great that the hearts of King Ahaz of Judah, along with all “his people shook as trees of the forest shake before the wind.” (Isaiah 7:2)

But God had Isaiah assure Ahaz that none of what these two opposing forces planned would come to pass.  In fact, Syria and the Northern Kingdom would both be destroyed by Assyria within sixty-five years (Isaiah 7:8).  Through Isaiah, God told Ahaz that he must trust and believe as noted in Isaiah 7:9:

“‘… If you are not firm in faith,

    you will not be firm at all.’”

The Lord even gave Ahaz the opportunity to ask for a sign to give him greater assurance that the Word of God would come to pass.  Foolishly, Ahaz told God that he wouldn’t ask for that sign.  But God gave him one anyway in Isaiah 7:14, that of the future coming of Jesus:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This prophecy  foretold a marvelous future for the entire House of David that God would be with His people, but it also contained the message that great evil would come upon the land before and after this promised child.  In times to come, light would shine forth in the darkness of Israel as a whole because God Himself would rule and reign upon the earth.  However, before that glorious period, many trials and tribulations would beset the people.  First, the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim and Samaria would fall.

They had a serious problem.  Not a single one of the kings in the Northern Kingdom was faithful to the Lord.  Every one of them had spurned the Word of God.  They had persecuted His prophets that He brought to warn them to turn back to Him.  Worse, they had willfully chosen to follow every other god but Yahweh.  Instead of humbling themselves in the face of oppression and seeking the face of the One who could aid them, they doubled down in their idolatry and worship of pagan gods.

And so it was that God relayed through Isaiah what He knew was in the hearts of those in the Northern Kingdom.  In a time of trouble they shook their fists at God as Isaiah 9:8-10 notes:

The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,

    and it will fall on Israel;

and all the people will know,

    Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,

    who say in pride and in arrogance of heart:

“The bricks have fallen,

    but we will build with dressed stones;

the sycamores have been cut down,

    but we will put cedars in their place.”

Pride and arrogance would be their downfall.  When an enemy struck, rather than falling on their knees to beseech the Lord of heaven and earth for His mercy, they would declare that in their own power, they would rebuild.  God declared unequivocally that this would not happen.  He was in charge and His will would prevail, not the foolish fleshly desires of a stiff-necked people.

It was this prophecy that Jonathan Cahn explored in The Harbinger about the bricks having fallen and the people arrogantly saying that through their own means they would restore what had been destroyed.  The parallel that Cahn brought forward was to America, following the terrorist attack and destruction of the World Trade Center towers.  Several ignorant governmental officials publicly, proudly and arrogantly, used this prophecy of warning against pride and arrogance to declare their intention to restore what had been torn down.

Just as God sent prophetic warning, i.e. harbingers, to Israel, Cahn argued that He was doing likewise in this incident to our nation.  Just as the Lord desired for Israel to turn from her wicked ways, God similarly wanted America to return to Him.  If Israel refused – which God knew she would – His anger would remain and His hand would continue to be stretched out against her for her harm.  So it would be with the United States.

If we examine the current landscape of the world; particularly zeroing in on Israel and America, this ancient harbinger appears to still remain as a warning that neither nation has heeded.  With the advent of COVID-19, both Israel and America – rather than turning to God for His mercy, direction, and healing – have embraced the false security of a vaccine to heal our lands.

We have decided that only man’s intervention can give us hope for the future.  In our faith and trust in a medical solution, vast numbers of people have been deceived.  Neither of our nations has repented of our grievous sins.  Because of this, God has allowed blindness to come over the majority of our peoples.  Instead of turning to God to alleviate our fear, we have placed our hope in a dangerous drug that is causing untold numbers of deaths and adverse effects.  Despite this, millions of people are oblivious, and continue to willingly offer their bodies to death merchants in the hopes of returning to normality.  The evil that is in our midst causing such a response is astounding.  Wickedness has overtaken every institution in our nations – previously trusted or not.  Yet, people don’t see it.  Those who do see and warn are maligned and marginalized.  Listen to what Isaiah 9:18-19 says:

For wickedness burns like a fire;

    it consumes briers and thorns;

it kindles the thickets of the forest,

    and they roll upward in a column of smoke.

Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts

    the land is scorched,

and the people are like fuel for the fire;

    no one spares another.

Why is this?  The answer is the same today as it was in the time of the prophet bringing the Word of God to a wayward people.  He says in Isaiah 9:21:

… For all this his anger has not turned away,

    and his hand is stretched out still.

Should God relent?  Why does the hand of the Lord continue to punish?  The answer lies in the hearts of the people – whether it be Israel or America.  Our desire is for any god but Yahweh; it is for any solution other than one that only Jesus Christ can bring.  In our pride and arrogance, we will continue in our blindness.  Only Christ removes the veil.

God’s anger will continue to be kindled because our nations – in fact, the entire world – refuse to look upon Him as Savior and Lord.  Ignoring God’s kindness has severe consequences, and we are in the season that reaps them.

There is still time for some to rend their hearts and come to Christ; for others, they will not heed despite the Holy Spirit’s conviction upon them.  The job that we as true followers of Jesus must do is work while it is still day.  We who know that time is short have an obligation to reach as many as who will listen in order that some might be saved.

Now is the time for us to shine our lights brighter, even as the darkness intensifies.  God is still merciful.  He will make a way for some to know Him.  As we reflect His glory and represent Him as His ambassadors to this lost and dying world, we can be assured that He will use our meager efforts to His good purposes.

Let’s not give up.  Let’s not pull back in resignation because we see no fruit.  None of us have any idea what may occur in someone’s heart simply because we were faithful in proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only hope.  He is coming soon.  Let us show ourselves worthy.

If the Tribulation Is Near, the Rapture Must Be Nearer

This is a fascinating study.  The artwork with the extensive illustrations is genius and well worth the price of admission (n/c).

Is the author correct in his calculations?  Will the ancient pattern of numbers hold true to today?

This video was created in November 2020.  Based on what the author projects, and depending on the answers to these two above questions, we could very well be in the immediate season of the coming Tribulation.  If we see the Tribulation’s shadow so clearly, that means the Rapture must be right around the corner.

As one who looks eagerly for the soon-return of Jesus Christ, I hope this video is accurate.  Even if it’s not, it is absolutely thought-provoking and excellent in its descriptions and use of Scripture.

 

Galatians 3:7 – Sons of Abraham

One of the most egregious deceptions going around in Christendom is that since the faith of both Christians and Muslims is descended from Abraham, we are all co-equal sons of God.  This is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start, but begin we will.

This lie of equivalence is behind the false merging of religions into what we label as Chrislam, i.e. Christian Islam.  If we have the same father of our faiths, then we can come together and worship him in a united body.  With this source of inspiration, there is no need for separation in our beliefs.  That being the case, any differences between the two must mean that there is error in one.  If so, that one must be mistaken.  That can easily be resolved by simply discounting the radical elements that caused the separation.

Spoiler alert.  You will notice as I outline a few of these ideas that the weight of legitimacy always tilts toward Islam.  What are a few of the extremist positions that Christianity holds?

Islam believes that Allah is a monolithic, impersonal god; he has no son.  Christianity in our belief in Jesus Christ as God, and the Trinity comprised of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are major differences.  Of great importance is that Jesus is relational.  These problems are easily resolved by dumbing Jesus down to the position that He was simply a wise man, a good teacher, but certainly not God.  To accept Islam, who Jesus is must be compromised.

Islam does not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.  It states that there was a substitute placed on the cross.  As a result, He never rose; rather He faked it.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central tenet of Christianity.  With no resurrection, we have nothing.  As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

But no worries for Chrislamists.  They can set the resurrection aside as a minor point of difference so as to foster unity.

Salvation in Islam comes wholly by works.  Adherents must please Allah through their various efforts to be holy in his sight.  The primary means for this is through jihad, or holy struggle.  Apologists for Islam inevitably say that jihad is only a spiritual effort.  The truth is that it includes the killing of unbelievers who offend Allah by not following his strict laws.  Muslims have no assurance in their faith as to gaining paradise.  They hope that their works tilt the scales so that they please Allah, but even Muhammad stated that he had no promise of heaven.  Christianity is based on our trust in Jesus Christ that He is who He says He is.  Salvation’s promise is captured in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

You’ll note that there is much boasting in Islam, but again, no worries.  To the one who embraces Chrislam, this once more is a tiny area of dispute that can be easily ignored.

These and many more distinctions separate Christianity and Islam.  However, they are all ignored because of the bedrock belief of commonality in our roots.  Father Abraham birthed both strains of faith.  That must mean that none of these differences are of any account.

Well… there’s a problem with this that Paul gets to the heart of.  It has to do with the works of the Law.  Scripture states that the faith of Abraham – which came before the Law – was accomplished outside the Law.  Galatians 3:5-6 reminds us:

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Paul then definitively states in Galatians 6:7:

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

That’s inconvenient.  On one hand we have Islam that is based completely on works; on the other we have Christianity whose foundation is faith alone through the grace of God by Christ alone.

In fact, as Paul says in Galatians 3:10:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

It doesn’t matter how holy and righteous one thinks he is in the flesh, if he is under – and remains under – the Law, he is cursed.

A big problem that’s hard to wipe away is that Muslims believe the child of promise born to Abraham was Ishmael.  The Bible makes it clear that he was a child of the flesh and not of the Spirit, thus, he is not Abraham’s descendant who was blessed with the promise of being a blessing to all nations.  Actually, Ishmael and his descendants reflect this reality from God in Genesis 16:12:

He shall be a wild donkey of a man,

    his hand against everyone

    and everyone’s hand against him,

and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

Strife would always follow him; not peace.  Islam is not the “religion of peace” as so many love to declare.  It is the source of hatred and violence throughout much of the world.

Here’s the issue that is conveniently forgotten: God’s promise for the spiritual line of Abraham is described in Exodus 3:15:

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

Many other verses show us that it is the people of Israel, descendants of not only Abraham, but also Isaac and Jacob who are God’s Chosen People.  The phrase “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” is used in Genesis 50:24, Exodus 2:24, Leviticus 26:42, Deuteronomy 1:8, and elsewhere, definitively noting the spiritual line that God chose as His own.

For anyone to declare that Christians and Muslims must coexist through their common faith in the same God is deceived.  Christianity is unique.  Paul summarized this for us in Galatians 3:13-14:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Our faith is built on Christ alone.  The spiritual line that birthed him is distinct and clearly laid out in Scripture.  Anyone claiming otherwise obviously is ignorant of God’s Word or willfully ignores it.  He does so at his peril.

We proclaim the Name of Jesus and lift Him high above all others!

Isaiah 3:9 – They Proclaim Their Sin

The first several chapters of Isaiah read as if God could be speaking to us today.  God called Isaiah to proclaim Israel’s sin so as to awaken the people to their danger of imminent judgment.  He cared deeply for His children Israel, but they were indifferent.  By this time in their history, God’s Chosen People had perfected the art of turning away from Him.  They had mastered the means by which to anger God and bring His wrath upon themselves, and they never learned from it.  We’re all familiar with an analog wave sign that is like a series of mountains and valleys.  It rises and falls only to rise again and fall again, repeating this pattern indefinitely.  This is a picture of Israel and her relationship with Yahweh.

We have to ask, which came first?  Faith or failure?  Was it the top of the rise of the analog signal (faith) or was it the bottom (failure)?  Since this behavior of Israel was seemingly never-ending as to her repetitive behavior leading to this series of ups and downs in her existence, it probably doesn’t matter.  What we do know is that from a position of strength in believing and obeying God, she always turned from Him.  In choosing to reject Him and His mercy, Israel bought God’s anger and brought destruction upon herself.  When she realized her mistake, while wallowing in the pit of despair for having vexed the Lord, He would rescue her and place her on a high pedestal once more in His good graces.

By the time Isaiah prophesied to Judah, the nation had turned its back on God once more.  So deep were her sinful ways that Isaiah likened the city of Jerusalem to that of Sodom and Gomorrah, as we see in Isaiah 1:10:

Hear the word of the Lord,

    you rulers of Sodom!

Give ear to the teaching of our God,

    you people of Gomorrah!

We see this same analogy during the Tribulation when Israel’s sins have heaped up to such a disgusting level, and God’s wrath is pouring out.  Antichrist has come and Israel is all-in with who he is.  She has forsaken God and tuned out the Word of the two witnesses preaching 1,260 days in Jerusalem before Antichrist kills them.  And so Revelation 11:8 tells us:

… and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.

What is it that Israel has done to raise God’s fury to such a level that He would declare Jerusalem on a par with the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah?  The prophet articulates many sins, but Isaiah 3:9 is a good example:

For the look on their faces bears witness against them;

    they proclaim their sin like Sodom;

    they do not hide it.

Woe to them!

    For they have brought evil on themselves.

Do you know what is the most “gay” city in the world?  It’s Tel Aviv.  So desperately do the secular Jews desire to be loved by the world that the people in this city have wholeheartedly embraced the sin that God disdains and calls an abomination.  Their “pride” is on full display; their parades flaunt this and are like poking a stick in God’s eye.

Look at how God laments about this behavior in Isaiah 3:12:

My people—infants are their oppressors,

    and women rule over them.

O my people, your guides mislead you

    and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

But Israel didn’t listen then and they certainly aren’t hearing Yahweh voice His displeasure now.

The iniquities of Israel are no stranger to the rest of the world or to us in America.  As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9:

What has been is what will be,

    and what has been done is what will be done,

    and there is nothing new under the sun.

Sin, evil, and abomination aren’t limited to any one people or geographic area.  They are the hallmark of the human condition.  When God speaks through the prophet in Isaiah 3:16, He is describing that which has gone on for thousands of years and is rife today everywhere we look:

The Lord said:

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty

    and walk with outstretched necks,

    glancing wantonly with their eyes,

mincing along as they go,

    tinkling with their feet,

Pride in aberration has always been, and it will continue to be, until God finally destroys it.  Several times in Isaiah’s first three chapters he states that “in that day” God will act and things will change drastically.  Despite Israel’s rejection of the Lord, and notwithstanding the refusal of most of the world to revere and honor Him, He will redeem both.  He lifts up Israel at the time of the end and all peoples on the earth will rejoice.  Consider this famous verse of Isaiah 2:4:

He shall judge between the nations,

    and shall decide disputes for many peoples;

and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

    and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

    neither shall they learn war anymore.

Jesus will rule and reign personally when He sits on His throne in Jerusalem during His Millennial Kingdom.  Peace will come to mankind because of His direct intervention.  Wars will be a thing of the past; so will the abominable behavior that has infuriated God forever.

This encroaching darkness that personifies lawlessness around the globe will have its day during the Tribulation.  The wicked will cheer when God removes His people in the Rapture.  Why?   No longer will the evil ones have to hear those who follow Christ speak of sin.  They can transgress against the Lord all they want, clutching it to their breasts, and loving its forbidden pleasures for a season.  But that embrace of idolatry and sexual immorality, and all the other ways that people disgrace themselves in God’s presence, will end – horribly, I might add.

Knowing this, we who love the Lord need to seek Him even more in these treacherous days.  It’s easy to be discouraged by the words and actions of those around us, even by the afflictions we may suffer.  However, we must remember these troubles are light and temporary.  Think of the alternative!  Those who hate God will spend eternity in torment.  What is a little suffering on our part today?

As the song proclaims:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full, in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace.

That is our hope because it’s God’s promise.  Let’s cling tight to this assurance and do all we can to remain faithful to the end.

Galatians 1:8 – Let Him Be Accursed

Oh, does Paul have a word for the churches today!  If he were asked to speak at a majority of churches in our current times, what would he say?  (Of course, through the Word, he IS speaking to these churches; however, rest assured that they would have nothing to do with inviting him to fill their pulpits!)

Paul would have done his homework.  He would know the current state of affairs in these churches.  Concerned believers would have informed him that real problems had cropped up in the leadership and among those who attended.  Surely, he would have looked away and shaken his head in unbelief and disgust.  How could this happen?  What could possibly have occurred that they would stray so far from the truth of Jesus Christ?

In his time, Paul faced the issue in the church in Galatia that false teachers had come in and were distorting the Gospel.  Astonished to learn of the blasphemies being preached, he wrote his letter to bring correction.  The first thing he did was to remind them of Jesus Himself in Galatians 1:4:

… who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

“Listen, church, we must keep our eyes on Jesus – on Him alone – because it is only through Him that we can maneuver through the darkness of this world.  We live in a time of wickedness.  How can you expect to make it through intact unless your faith and trust is wholly in Christ?”

What was going on that would require Paul to rebuke the church?  Here is what he said in Galatians 1:6-7:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

Someone had begun distorting the truth, and the church was accepting this lie as if it was the Gospel of Christ.  They had no discernment to differentiate what they’d originally been taught from this altered teaching.

“What are you thinking?” Paul seems to be saying.  “Listen to me, and hear me well,” is the message in the following verses of Galatians 1:8-9:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

So adamant is Paul that he repeats himself to drive home the point.  There is no Gospel but the true Gospel they learned at first.  Any change from that is from Satan.  The KJV uses the word anathema in place of accursed.  Accursed means to be ill-fated or doomed.  Anathema carries an even weightier meaning of being consigned to damnation.  In other words, Paul tells the Galatians that someone who preaches anything but the true Gospel will be judged by God and consigned to hell.

This is a strong statement and one that’s entirely appropriate.  Only the truth of Jesus Christ saves a man’s soul.  If one hears and believes any message other than that, then he will not – he cannot – be saved and rescued from the eternal fires of the pit.  Thus, a man who leads others to this place of torment himself deserves nothing less.

The message-bearers of today are storing up for themselves the wrath of God.  How many pulpits are filled with men and women who proclaim that it’s just fine with God if you’re a “gay Christian”?  How about those churches that have such people in their pulpits as an example to their congregations?  What are we to think when we see so many denominations embracing the works of the world such as Black Lives Matter, the social justice gospel, or climate change as the most important issue facing mankind?  There are so many more falsehoods proclaimed in the name of the false Jesus they pretend to follow.

How many people believe these fabrications because they are ignorant of God’s Word?  Talk about the great unwashed!  The real definition of those who fall into this category are people who don’t read the Word of God and haven’t been cleansed by its living water.  This is the vast majority of pew-sitters in churches.  They have no idea what the Bible says because they don’t read it.  Whatever they think they know comes only from their pastor or priest.  If that person is spouting deceptions about Scripture, those hearing cannot discern.  As G.K. Chesterton famously said:

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

And so it is:  Of course all white men are racist, because… they are.  The problems of this world emanate from injustices found in the systemic structure of our society.  Our earth has been warming since the age of dinosaurs because of man’s carbon emissions.  The only way to heaven is through the Catholic church and its rituals.

How many born-again believers are there who accept such garbage?  I suppose there are some, but how unfruitful must they be!  Anyone truly saved should run from churches that spout this nonsense.  Whoever thinks he can reform such a church by remaining there is sadly mistaken.  A mission field?  No doubt.  But surely such an individual is himself continuing to absorb lies by not being fed with real meat; he’s eating tainted food and may end up poisoned.  That’s an unwise situation in which to remain.

Paul’s message to the church in Galatia is the same as for today.  Hearing God’s Word is the absolute necessity for any who call themselves Christians.  Those who bring a message contrary to the true Gospel are instruments of the devil.

As Paul said elsewhere in 2 Corinthians 6:15:

What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?