Prophecy Update: Convergence Increasing

The hot word among those who watch the signs of the times is convergence.  It’s a good word.  The definition basically means the movement toward a point of conclusion.  In the case of Bible prophecy, it’s where all the disparate strands of God’s end times fragments come together for His final judgment upon the earth.  It’s like the master chess player moving his pieces in for the kill: checkmate.  You lose.  In this case, the losers—to put it bluntly—are those who oppose God.  Vengeance is finally His.

In the last several weeks a number of these elements rose up enough to catch my attention.  These are only a few of the many items, but they all add up.  Every week we could probably report on matters like this with a similar article.  Here they are in no particular order.

A July Washington Institute article discussed how Iran and Turkey are cozying up to each other much more than in the past because of their mutual interests.  We know the ultimate mutual interest is the destruction of Israel that will be attempted in Ezekiel’s War articulated in Ezekiel 38-39.  Lately, however, Ankara has moved to resolve tensions with Teheran over Iran’s nuclear program by backing the Iranian government over the protests of its people and by coming alongside it as sanctions have increased.  Turkey actually expressed outrage at the attempt to cut off Iranian oil exports.  Is this simply altruism on Turkey’s part?  Of course not.  Turkey has revival of the Ottoman Empire on its mind, so it’s hoping that Iran will buoy it in its regional objectives of political and economic power.

From the Middle East we move to Yellowstone Park, as noted by Fox News commenting on an August New York Times op-ed.  Apparently, there’s a supervolcano beneath Yellowstone just waiting to erupt and unleash its fury upon unsuspecting humanity.  In fact, there are 20-some supervolcanos lying in wait under the planet.  Just one of these erupting would be “the greatest catastrophe since the dawn of civilization” according to the European Science Foundation.  Yellowstone and its counterparts are the epitome of an ultra-catastrophe because of their potential to destroy all human life.  Jesus spoke of this in warning of the times to come in Luke 21:11, so the rise of these life-threatening planetary horrors is no surprise:

There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Further west we go to Silicon Valley and the giant tech firms.  According to the media outlet AFP, a study originating from the Dutch NGO Pax quotes these companies as “putting the world at risk of killer AI.”  Through the killer robot developments that Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel are working on, these lethal autonomous weapons in various related military project have the potential to sow much chaos in the future.  Pax says these Artificial Intelligence entities “could decide to kill people without direct human involvement.”  Pick a prophecy relating to this scenario.  Among others, we could certainly point toward the Sixth Seal Judgment in Revelation 9:13-19, which could be demonic in nature, AI robots run amuck, or a combination of these.  Regardless, this will be an ugly time for unbelieving humanity:

Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.

Finally, we come to our financial analyst Jim Rickards, whom I’ve noted previously has a good handle from the secular side that economic catastrophe is coming.  In my last Prophecy Update, I reported that Mr. Rickards was looking at a new Axis of Gold.  Here, he’s predicting that many factors are lining up for a “Perfect Storm.”   We know what that is from the movie of the same name some years ago, which depicted the plight of some fisherman caught in it off the coast of Nova Scotia.  Just like in that instance, things appeared peaceful prior to its development, so too is what Rickards is saying will happen in the financial realm.

Rickards uses very interesting language in his June Strategic Intelligence newsletter.  In recounting prior financial meltdowns, he says, “Here’s one thing I learned: Every one of these episodes was preceded by mass complacency or euphoria…The worst panics are always preceded by a sense that nothing can go wrong.”

Biblically, to review, here’s what Jesus said in Matthew 24:37-39:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

What are the items leading to the perfect storm?  Rickards lists three, just as there were three in the 1991 disaster:

  1. The effort by the Democrats to impeach President Trump
  2. The socialist-progressive tilt in the 2020 presidential race
  3. The fallout from the Mueller report

Without getting into those here, again the verbiage that Rickards uses dovetails our thesis: “These components are independent of each other, but are at high risk of convergence in the coming months.”  These developments are brewing, the waters are being stirred.  Currently, they’re with us but in the background.  The economy is humming along, on the surface.  Interest rates are low, as is unemployment.  People are going about their lives, in a sense, enjoying the fruit of President Trump’s policies.  The times of Noah and Lot seem to be upon us.  But, as Rickards says, “A storm with no name is coming.”

What could that storm be?  We who love and look forward to the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ believe that storm upon the earth will come as a result of the Rapture of Christ’s true church; those who are faithful, those who believe, those who follow hard after their Lord and Savior will be whisked away into the clouds.

The signs are indeed converging.  We don’t know when these myriad events will come to a head with Jesus returning for His bride, but we know they’re pointing to a time that is rapidly approaching.  We wait with bated breath.

Satan’s Jealousy of Man

Just think of the magnificence of the Garden.  Everything in the earth was new and glorious, fresh from the Creator’s mind and hand.  How amazing that must have been!  To top that off, God made man, the epitome of all that He had conceived.

Observing everything that God had done, His divine sons cheered.  They were as excited about what they’d seen as God probably was in creating it.  Job 38:7 indicates the wonder:

when the morning stars sang together

    and all the sons of God shouted for joy

But then, something happened.  God had created His divine sons sometime prior to bringing the earth and its glory into existence, and He had given them much.  Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 give us a glimpse of what one of God’s sons had.  In fact, if any one of His sons had favor, it was certainly Satan.  He was wise and wealthy beyond compare.  But that wasn’t enough.

Satan and all the heavenly host were created in God’s image with free will just as mankind subsequently was.  But man had flesh.  He had a corporeal body.  The heavenly sons of God were spirit beings, although with great wisdom and power.  Yet, that wasn’t enough.  Satan grew proud and, in that pride, didn’t like that man had something that he didn’t: a fleshly body.

It must have eaten at him.  So much so that he decided to act.  In the creation of the world and of man, God imparted much knowledge to His divine family so that they could work at His pleasure and execute that which He wanted done.  Satan knew of man’s free will because he knew of his own.  He knew man could be tempted because he himself was.

At the success of his venture to tempt Adam and Eve, God cursed and punished Satan just as He punished mankind in His own way.  Can you imagine the grief God’s human children must have experienced in leaving such an incredible place as the Garden?  What remorse they must have experienced.

But Satan in his punishment felt regret only by the fact that he’d been caught out.  He must have stewed in his anger and planned his revenge.  Remembering his jealousy, Satan likely whispered to his brothers, “Look at what God held back from us.  He made man with a corporeal body.  In that flesh, see what man and woman can do.  Why is that we can’t have that kind of pleasure?  In their union, they even produce offspring that are just like them.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us to likewise mate with such beautiful women and create sons and gods like ourselves?  Why did Yahweh not give us this ability?”

Those words must have insinuated themselves into the minds of Satan’s brothers.  They looked down at the earth and realized that indeed God had withheld something very special from them.  The daughters of man were lovely to behold, they wanted what they couldn’t have.  And so, Genesis 6:1-2 tells us that they acted:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.

However, God had determined certain limits and boundaries for His creation.  Those in heaven were to remain there, those on earth were to remain in that sphere.  No doubt God had made these domains quite clear, but Jude 6 tells us:

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling

These angels, these sons of God, had gone where they were forbidden.  But Satan had done his work well.  He had tempted not only man and made him fall, but he likewise tempted his brothers with the same result.  The remainder of Jude 6 makes it clear that God punished these offenders of His holy dictates, surely to their eternal regret:

he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day

Even this wasn’t enough for Satan.  He smoldering anger at God continued.  His accusations and insinuations caused more of his brothers to rebel, which we see in Psalm 82.  In fact, Satan’s consuming hatred for God and all that is His is like Proverbs 30:15-16 tells us:

The leech has two daughters:
Give and Give.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

Satan and his jealous rage can never be satisfied.

There is a day coming, however, when everything finally blows up in Satan’s face.  Despite his denial and continuing efforts to corrupt mankind and defeat God, he loses for the final time.  We know the victory has already been won.  Jesus defeated death and the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

On that day of reckoning, Satan will have his comeuppance.  The abyss will welcome him.  All sin will be abolished.  All grief will be made right.  What a glorious day that will be!

Marijuana Legalization’s Demonic Advocates

In a recent article I wrote titled “Marijuana, Salt & Light” I chronicled my experience attending a local city council meeting in which the subject of approving marijuana sale and grow facilities in our community was front and center.  The majority of the council members were all for approval of these businesses, seeing nothing wrong with them since our state has given them a green light despite federal regulations to the contrary.  A very small number of us from our church and a couple other Christians were able to push back and cause the council to at least think through some of the issues in a subsequent work session.  My wife and I went to that work session, so I wanted to outline a few more thoughts and issues that came to the fore.

As I thought about the initial meeting we attended, I reflected on one particular person on the council.  I’d seen her around previously and had a funny feeling about her.  After that meeting, I came to believe that God was giving me a discerning sense about her.  Something about her made me uncomfortable.  There was something not right.  Was it demonic—witchy, if you will?  I believe so.

Alerted to this subsequent work session of the council, we planned to go.  As the time drew near for the start of the meeting, I began getting nervous, and an agitated, very uncomfortable, feeling grew in me that was totally out of character.  I didn’t like it, yet didn’t seem able to do anything about it.

The work session proceeded and the determination of the majority of the members to move forward was evident.  One of them, however, spoke out against approval.  He had been thinking about this and said that he couldn’t in good conscience vote for it and in the same breath tell his grandson not to smoke pot.  The hypocrisy was too much for him.

In the time for public comments I asked why they would even think this was a good idea, questioning the premise rather than the details of implementation.  Prior to that, the agitation within me had grown considerably.  When I spoke I was pretty animated, perhaps even strident.  I didn’t like how I came off, but whatever was negatively working in me was quite strong.

In reflection, trying to assess what I experienced, I’m convinced the demonic element I previously sensed was behind my discomfort, perhaps as a harassing spirit.  Other members of the council were gung-ho for this resolution.  They were enthusiastic to bring this scourge into the community that can do nothing but cause chaos and darkness.  In my estimation, forces beyond them must be strongly at work.  Are they aware of what’s pushing them?  Maybe there’s more than just that one woman on the council who’s in league with powers beyond what we can see.

Am I paranoid about this?  Am I seeing demons behind every tree?  Am I attributing more to this effort to legalize marijuana sales in the community than what I should?

I don’t think so.  We know Biblically in these end times that lawlessness will increase.  At the point of the Rapture, it will increase exponentially.  I believe I got a glimpse of this in the force that was coming against me.  The Holy Spirit lives within me, and I certainly have that which is greater.  However, as Jesus said when He came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, these spirits only come out by prayer and fasting.

All this tells me that I need to step up my game.  I have a consistent morning time with the Lord and His Word.  Without that, I don’t know where I’d be.  What I see, though, is the need to better prepare for encounters such as these.  I need to truly take the Words of Jesus to heart, particularly prior to a known encounter with Satanic elements.

A word to all reading this: If you haven’t run into a situation like this yet, the times are such that the likelihood is you will.  We all need to be more diligent in our preparation.  The Holy Spirit can use us as we are, but how much more could He do through us to attack the enemy if we’re better prepared through our time spent with the Lord?

Prophecy Update: What Is The Overwhelming Scourge?

What if we’re wrong about the overwhelming scourge that will come against Israel?  What if we’re looking in the wrong direction as to the nature of this source of trouble that will plague Israel in the latter days, and which the Antichrist will use as the means to effect or increase the seven-year covenant that initiates the Tribulation?

Now, in one sense of course, from our perspective it doesn’t matter.  We who love the Lord and trust in His goodness know that Jesus will take us out of here in the Rapture prior to these events.  However, we who also love prophecy seek out answers and want to know more about the mysteries of God.  This issue certainly lies within that scope.

Dave Hunt in A Woman Rides the Beast succinctly outlined the reason that the Catholic Church is undoubtedly the harlot who oversees the One World Religion.  With two billion Catholics and an extensive and successful ecumenical outreach, it’s hard to imagine any other religion overseeing this aspect of the Tribulation.

Bill Salus has taken this a step further in The Next Prophecies.  He has proposed that in some measure Catholicism will morph into what it used to be.  It will reach deep into its canons and laws and demand that the world after the Rapture follow its ways or suffer the consequences.  The Catholic Church has a long, dark history of persecution against those who disagree with her.  She could indeed resurrect that mindset as the lawlessness of a post-Rapture world coalesces.

The idea of an overflowing scourge comes from Isaiah 28:15-18 (ESV):

Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
you will be beaten down by it.

The idea is that Israel will make a covenant that results in a false security.  Something is coming against Israel that causes great concern.  The Antichrist steps in and brokers a new peace arrangement or increases one already in place.  Israel is thrilled, thinking that for seven years she has escaped what has threatened to overwhelm her.  But, her hopes are dashed at the three-and-a-half-year mark when the Antichrist desecrates the temple and shows his true colors.

The question is: What is the overflowing scourge that the Antichrist in his deal with Israel prevents?

Is it the Catholic Church and her imposition of Catholicism upon the Jewish state?  I’ve believed this for some time and, frankly, am not sure that my thesis outlined here is correct.  However, as you’ll see, there are some factors at play which may argue for this idea.

A recent article in The Jerusalem Post titled: “Why is Israel outsourcing its national infrastructure to China?” illustrates why China could be the force behind the overflowing scourge.  Israel has been awarding significant infrastructure projects to China.  The one that came to light in recent months that causes much head scratching has to do with the Chinese company Shanghai International Port Group Co Ltd. (SIPG) that has a major contract to operate the new Haifa port once its construction has been completed.  There are two problems with this.  One is that like the many companies that are winning these major infrastructure contracts, SIPG is owned by the Chinese government.  Quoting the article: “Israel is outsourcing its national infrastructure — ports, highways, tunnels, power plants, food companies — to one single entity: the People’s Republic of China.”

The second issue is that the Haifa port is where the U.S. docks the Navy’s Sixth Fleet.  This has caused grave concern to our government given that China is an adversary.  We have warned Israel that this arrangement causes “serious security concerns with respect to the leasing arrangement of the port of Haifa.”

Simply from a reasonable point of observation, why would Israel allow China to make such inroads into its infrastructure projects to the tune of more than $20 billion to date?  Why would Israel risk straining her ties with the United States in such a manner?  China is a communist country.  It poses significant threats in more ways than one.  Why would Israel make such deals with the devil?

Adding to these concerns, according to Haaretz-Premium, “China has committed to invest some $20 billion in the new capital [in Egypt] and has provided a $3 billion loan for building the city’s financial district.”  Moreover, “Saudi Arabia, an ally of Washington, also has a full strategic alliance with China—a status equal to that of Iran, in which China invested some $27 billion between 2005 and 2018 and whose trade with Beijing reached a similar sum in 2017.”

It gets worse. Well known financial analyst Jim Rickards has posited that there is a “New Axis of Gold” — China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey.  There is a theme that has caused significant concern for some years that the U.S dollar may lose its status as the world’s reserve currency.  Based on how power structures have aligned, Rickards believes that these four nations may make a financial arrangement to completely sidestep the U.S. and the dollar in their trade dealings by basing their trade on a gold-backed crypto-currency standard — invitation only.

Now, doesn’t this become interesting?  This new axis includes our old friends from Ezekiel 38 and China, which seems to play a major role in the Tribulation as the potential source of 200 million troops coming from the east (Revelation 9:16).

Rickards outlines a sequence of escalating global hostilities.  He says that history shows that currency wars escalate to trade wars, which inevitably lead to shooting wars.  This occurred in the 1920s and 1930s as the world built toward World War II.  The U.S. has been embroiled with China for some time in our concerns about its currency.  Recently, trade disputes and tariffs have taken center stage.  It’s probably a reasonable time to ask: When does the shooting begin?

None of us have any answers, but as observers of Bible prophecy, it’s not a bad idea for us to watch how this China situation plays out with Israel.  Could this lead to the point in Ezekiel 38:13 where Sheba and Dedan (Saudi Arabia), and the young lions, possibly the U.S among them, yawn at Israel’s distress?

China is a major player in global circles.  It’s making dangerous deals with Israel and her neighbors that could come back to harm her.  Is China the source of the overflowing scourge that eventually threatens Israel?  It’s certainly a situation for us to watch and ponder.

How We Limit God! — Part 2

Our typical Christian thinking tends to cause erroneous ideas regarding many aspects of the Bible.  One example of this that has popped into view for me recently is with the New Heavens and New Earth that we see in Revelation 21-22.

What has been the way we’ve inevitably thought about “heaven?”  When we die we go to be with Jesus.  We’re like the angels in many ways, i.e. spiritual beings.  Not much goes on in our heaven.  We sit around on clouds with our harps and worship God night and day for ever and ever.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with that except I believe it’s incorrect.  Is it any wonder that many non-Christians, as well as believers, look at this paradigm and think, “Boring!”?  With good reason, because I think this idea imposes our very limited understanding on God and misses the bigger picture that He has always intended for us.

To see what may indeed be the truth of this issue, we must consider two ideas.  The first shows up right from the beginning in Genesis 1:28 where God gives Adam and Eve His original mandate for all their descendants:

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

After the flood, which follows a complete breakdown of humanity so that God must begin again, He repeats His command to Noah and his progeny in Genesis 9:1:

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

We see from this that God wants His human creation to take dominion over the earth.  That has always been Plan A with God.  Of course, this gets sidetracked once more when men in their infinite wisdom think they know better than God.  They gather in one place to make a name for themselves, and at Babel God scatters them and assigns them to nations (Genesis 11; Deuteronomy 32).

The question is: As a result of mankind’s failure twice to fulfill God’s desire for them to bring the earth into submission, does this then nullify what God wanted for them to accomplish?  Does He decide that’s a bad idea and forgets all about it?

Hold that thought, and let’s look at the second concept we must consider.  This has to do with what the nature of man will be following the resurrection.  Many people argue for the Sons of Seth theory regarding the account of the fallen sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4.  Part of that worldly idea is that angels don’t have reproductive capabilities.  A supernatural limitation is placed on this account.

In the synoptic Gospels we read a statement that Jesus makes which brings many to this conclusion.  Here it is:

Matthew 22:30

“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

Mark 12:25

“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

Luke 20:35

“but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage,”

From these passages it’s clear that at the resurrection, humans who are now in their glorified bodies won’t marry because they’ll be like the angels in heaven.

I maintain that this creates a contradicting situation going forward once we come to the New Heavens and New Earth.  If humankind will never marry in “heaven” because they’ll be like the angels, how will man fulfill God’s twice-repeated mandate once this new earth has come about?

I’m a novelist, so I can do this: “What if…”  Novelists have to propose the what-ifs in order to create a story.  Well, we have a story line here, a Biblical narrative.  We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  If that’s the case, then He still wants man to multiply and take dominion over the New Earth when we come to that point.

What if the passages above where Jesus says “in” or “when” “at” the resurrection, He means exactly that?  What if Jesus refers to the point in time when the resurrection occurs and it’s limited to a certain season?  What if when God creates the New Heavens and New Earth this brings about another season that changes the dynamics?

When we’re glorified we have no real idea what that means other than we’ll look like Jesus, judge angels, and at that one particular point in time won’t marry.  Who’s to say once we’re placed on the New Earth that God doesn’t enable us to procreate once more?  The earth will be virgin again as it was during the initial creation.  The number of glorified humans will by no means fill up the earth.  Isn’t it reasonable to assume that God will now repeat His command: “Multiply in order to rule and take dominion over this new sinless earth?”

If God doesn’t change—and He doesn’t—then Plan A remains operative.  There will be no sinful, fleshly humans in this new earthly environment.  Yet, if we accept the viewpoint I’m proposing, then man has to procreate to fulfill God’s destiny for us.

There are mysteries that remain.  God has given our frail human brains only a fraction of what we’ll know when we no longer see through a glass darkly.  There are many Bible passages that have been misunderstood over the ages and only clarified at later times.  Perhaps Jesus’ declaration about marriage at the point the resurrection occurs is one of them.

How We Limit God! — Part 1

One of the things I enjoy doing is taking what I’ve learned from my reading and my listening to various teachings and bringing it to others.  This is how knowledge and information are passed on.  In the Christian sphere, it’s how we disciple others even as we have been discipled in one manner or another.

My recent emphasis has been on the expanding of my Biblical worldview through what I’ve gleaned from Dr. Michael S. Heiser in reading several of his books, including The Unseen Realm.  I’m a pretty good parrot.  I absorb information and am blessed with the ability to reformulate it and convey it to others.  The last three teaching sessions I’ve done at my church have centered around what I’ve learned from Dr. Heiser and replaying that to disturb the comfortable westernized, Christianized worldview that so many hold.

At the end of one of these sessions, I was asked a question about what it means for us to be a part of restoring Eden to the earth following the Tribulation and Millennium.  Of course, after the Final Judgment where Satan, all his cohort, and unbelieving humans are relegated for eternity into the Lake of Fire, the earth is purified with fire.

There are a couple of theories about how this happens.  One is that God completely destroys the earth and creates a brand new one.  Another theory is that He takes the existing earth and purifies it with fire.  I ascribe to the second approach.  The reason is that the final result of the Millennium is that all beings that have transgressed against God are dealt with, but the sin resident in the earth remains.  Remember, the earth groans for redemption.  That means it’s essentially seeking relief from the curse and the blood that’s been shed over its existence.  I’m not at all attributing sentience to the earth as the Gaia crowd would.  I’m simply restating the Biblical terminology that Paul uses in Romans 8:19-24.

If the view I take is correct, then God will somehow bring a purifying fire upon the existing earth to bring it the relief it requires from its bondage to decay.  Fire will make all things new; it will basically restore the earth to its original condition following the initial creation.  In its infancy, we know what happened next.  God created man and commanded him to multiply, subdue the earth, rule and take dominion over it.  Of course, the Fall halted that mandate.

After the Flood, God again commanded Noah and his descendants to do exactly the same thing.  He didn’t change His mind about what He wanted.  The earth was effectively brand new once again.  It needed to be tamed.  Man needed to spread out over it and take dominion as God envisioned.  Again, this didn’t happen because of the Tower of Babel incident.  Once more, God’s intent was put on hold.

When the New Heavens and New Earth are finally in place, the question arises, “What next?”  We humans have such a limited perspective.  Prior to the initial creation of the earth, what was God doing all those years backward into the infinity prior to His creating us and our world?  We have no idea.  But, we can look at His work in earth’s creation and what He has intended for mankind to accomplish and know that He’s a busy guy.  God doesn’t sit around on His throne and eat bon-bons all day while His heavenly family simply floats on clouds playing harps and worshiping Him.  Indeed, they do worship Him, but they also have many other activities of which we’re unaware.

He creates various beings, heavenly and human, for a reason.  He enjoys us and the interaction with us in the accomplishment of His divine purposes.  Personally, I think it would be pretty boring for God Himself to just sit around all day doing nothing but hearing the infinite praises of his creation.  My point is that there’s more going on than we give God credit for.

Thus, once we come to the place where we have the New Heavens and New Earth, why should we think that God’s intent will be any different?  Why should we think that He has changed His initial, and once repeated, mandate, to subdue the earth?  Why should we think that once the world has become brand new that we—now in glorified, spiritual bodies like Jesus—will sit on our clouds, play our harps, and join God in devouring heavenly chocolates forever and a day?

Hebrews 13:8 tells us:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

If we believe this, then God’s Plan A for His human—now divine—family is to finally fulfill His original command.  It has never changed.  “You’ve got an entire earth out there to bring into submission according to My will, as I wanted you to do from the very beginning.  Go and do it.”  Only now, because we’ve finally come to the point of trusting God and choosing to follow Him in all things, newly reconstituted humanity will do exactly what He wants.

We have no clue what that really looks like at this point a millennium removed from that task.  However, we can be assured that God will engage us in good and meaningful work because that’s who He is and what He wants for His creation.

Let’s not limit God.  Let’s not take our preconceived ideas that we somehow got through our Sunday school lessons as children, and embrace a false picture of God and the magnificence of what He intends.  Instead, let’s look forward to a meaningful, useful eternity where—yes—we’ll worship God forever, but doing so in the context of an amazing work that He sets forth for us.

Replacement Theology in the Deuteronomy 32 Worldview

When we approach the Bible with what is known as the Deuteronomy 32 worldview, we understand why Replacement Theology is so prevalent today.  Replacement Theology takes the Biblically false view that Israel no longer has a place in God’s plans and purposes because 1) Israel blew it, and 2) the Church has taken her place.

In the minds of those who advocate Replacement Theology, the thinking is that when Jesus came incarnate to the earth as a Jew, He gave Israel one shot at getting His divinity right as the Messiah, the Savior of mankind.  Obviously, Israel didn’t make the grade.  In her failure, Israel was primarily responsible—if not wholly culpable—in Jesus’ crucifixion.  In fact, this view seems to assume that the crucifixion was a mistake and not the major reason for Jesus coming here in the first place.

Because of the belief that Israel has no future from God’s perspective, the Church has replaced Israel as a result.  Advocates of Replacement Theology apparently look back at every promise made to Israel in the Old Testament and attribute them looking forward to the Church.  Thus, God has wholly abandoned Israel, divorced her, and left her bereft with no future hope.

If you’ve read the Bible and actually understand God’s character in some small measure, this perspective is incredibly wrongheaded and even blasphemous.  It impugns God’s nature because it declares God is not a promise keeper.  He lies.  Every promise He made to Israel is null and void, transferred to another entity, the Church.  It takes a very low view of God.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 is the starting point for debunking this foolishness:

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.

This takes place after the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11.  Mankind has disobeyed God.  Rather than spreading out over the earth as He instructed a second time through Noah, men gather in Babylon with one language and of one mind: make a name for themselves and build a tower to bring God down to them in order to control Him.  God’s not with that program and scatters all these peoples throughout the known world and brings confusion to their language so they can’t communicate to pull off this nonsense going forward.

What we see in Deuteronomy 32 is God assigning every person to particular territory and placing His divine sons over those nations.  He’s had enough of man and his rebellion and has decided to let him go his own way for a time.  God’s spiritual progeny are to rule over these nations as God would do, i.e. justly, and point people back to Him as the One true God.

At the same time, God calls the nation of Israel into existence.  Israel will be His special nation, His inheritance, through which all other nations will be blessed.  In fact, later in Psalm 89:35-36, in one of numerous such passages, God declares His everlasting promise to Israel that He will never forsake her:

Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;

    I will not lie to David.

His offspring shall endure forever,

    his throne as long as the sun before me.

God’s sons over the nations become corrupt.  We see this in Psalm 82 where God admonishes them for how unjust they’ve become and declares punishment for them.  Power apparently has gone to their heads.  They are created beings just as humans are and God has given them the same free will that He gave us.  Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  That was certainly the case with God’s sons ruling the nations in His stead.

Here’s the setup:  God makes promises to Israel.  They will be His heritage.  At the same time, we now have rebellious spiritual beings—along with Satan—who want nothing to do with God and what He has purposed.  They have their own agenda.  They intend to rule and in so doing will try whatever they can to thwart God.

It’s become clear to them that God will bring the Messiah through the nation of Israel that will bless all of mankind because He will reclaim the nations that have turned from God.  Jesus didn’t come just to atone for original sin, He came to restore all nations to their proper position of looking to God as their life source.  He came that all men might bow their knee before the throne of the Most High God, not to various usurpers of the throne.

If the Church has turned from this knowledge of Israel and God’s intent for her in His ultimate plans, if Israel is relegated to unnecessary status, if Israel is even destroyed by her neighbors, that’s what God’s corrupt sons desire.  If the Church is complicit in this plot, then there’s a two-fer: Israel is destroyed, and God’s chosen instrument to spread His Word is leading people astray from the Truth.  How much better could it be for those spiritual entities that hate God?

Replacement Theology is truly a belief system from the pit of hell.  Those spiritual beings who have initiated it will eventually occupy that most terrible place.  In the physical realm, people who adhere to this thinking are also in great danger.  Following the dictates of other gods brings one into a position of opposition to God and what He’s done through Jesus Christ.  It makes people vulnerable to other false teachings.  They embrace that which is not of God, and as foretold, fall into apostasy.

Our job, as true believers, as those who love the inerrant, infallible Word of God, along with EVERY promise He has made, is to bring the Truth to those who have rejected it.  As easy as it is to ignore those who embrace Replacement Theology, we need to do what we can in order that God would convict them of their sin of rejecting Israel, God’s chosen people, the apple of His eye.

We have work to do until Jesus returns.  Part of how we’re to occupy in the meantime is by countering the lie of Replacement Theology.

Marijuana, Salt & Light

Although recreational marijuana remains illegal at a federal level, many states have chosen to no longer view it as a Schedule 1 drug, i.e. one with the potential for a high level of abuse.  This is the case in my state.  However, it is left up to the individual communities whether or not to allow its sale and use.

The encroachment of marijuana into general acceptance in this current age has many comparing it with alcohol and prohibition back in the 1920s.  There may be some similarities, but I can only view the public’s willingness to approve of altered states of consciousness and impaired thinking as good things being just one more indication of the latter days in which we live.

On a recent Tuesday evening, our city council met to vote on allowing marijuana sales and grow facilities in the community.  Prior to that our church was alerted to this fact and urged by a concerned citizen to attend the meeting and push back against the regulation that would allow, and even encourage, greater marijuana presence in town.  Although this affects everyone, and every believer in our church should have turned out against this, only five of us showed up.

At the initial public comments time on the meeting agenda, several of us spoke against approval of the regulation.  As a pastor answerable to God, one of my points dealt with His condemnation of partaking in anything having to do with sorcery, witchcraft, and drunkenness as seen in the lists in Deuteronomy 18 and Galatians 5; pharmakeia being the operative Greek word behind the occult practices.  In both the Old and New Testaments God has clearly stated how despicable each of these things is to Him.  We’re not to engage in anything that alters our minds or impairs our judgment.  Mind altering drugs lower people’s defenses to the incursion of demonic forces as well as encourage people to further pursue those things which are not of God.  You can imagine how well those points went over with some of the folks on the city council.

It was evident as discussion ensued among the council members prior to the vote that the majority were inclined to approve the regulation to allow marijuana in greater measure to invade the community.  However, due to the fact that several of us came to express reasoned opposition, the regulation was tabled and sent back to a working committee for further consideration.  How they could think further conversation could change the fact that marijuana is a gateway drug, that it will increase the incidents of operating while intoxicated leading to greater policing presence, and that it is contrary to the stated purpose of the council to oversee the health and safety of the community is a mystery.

But, in reality, it’s no mystery.  Lawlessness is increasing dramatically in the world.  As Isaiah 5:20 warns:

Woe to those who call evil good

    and good evil,

who put darkness for light

    and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

    and sweet for bitter!

Thus, where there might have been a time that the fear of God would have been a factor in the decision of these council members, there was apparently little of that.

In all this, I couldn’t help but think of the incidents of lack of faith in the Bible and where they led.  We see in Mark 6:5-6 that Jesus can do few miracles in His hometown because there was so little faith.  People didn’t believe He was who it was obvious that He was.  Perhaps no one came to Him for healing and that’s the reason He healed so few.

In 2 Kings 13:14-19 we see another incident of lack of faith.  An ailing Elisha is brought into King Joash’s presence.  The king asks for a sign or assurance that Israel will prevail against the Syrians.  Elisha tells the king to take a handful of arrows and pound them on the ground.  He does, but only three times.  Elisha rebukes him, saying that if he had been more fervent and pounded the arrows five or six times, complete victory would have been assured.  As it was, victory would only come three times.

This brings us back to the city council meeting.  If we hadn’t shown up and pushed back against the darkness, it would have prevailed.  It is highly likely the council members all thought it was a good idea to license marijuana in the community.  The fact that five of us showed up and spoke against it was enough to stop approval that night.  A few people of faith, God’s people standing in the gap, was enough to halt progress of the regulation for the time being.  If some number more, perhaps ten to fifteen believers had come, might the outcome have been complete victory for the ways of God?

For that meeting, we’ll never know.  Presumably, we’ll have another opportunity.  The parallel, however, to the Scriptural incidents is striking.  A few people of faith come to Jesus, and He can only do a few miracles.  Only a few arrows are taken in response to the prophet’s words and only partial victory is attained.

The Bible tells us definitively that the time is coming when lawlessness will reign supreme once the true church is removed from the earth in the Rapture.  In the meantime, although darkness is closing in all around, believers do have the means and often the opportunity to keep it at bay.  Edmund Burke’s secular admonition many years ago certainly applies today to the church:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

When the church do nothing, when we fail to stand against evil, it will encroach even more.  How sad that God’s people fail to do that which He has called us to be: salt and light to a lost and dying world.

Ezra’s Conundrum

The story of Ezra returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple has a disturbing account at the end of the book.  The leaders come to Ezra and inform him in Ezra 9:1-2 (ESV) that:

“The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.”

The LEB translation (Lexham English Bible, based on the Septuagint) in this passage says in place of holy race: “holy seed.”  The NIV says “intermingled” instead of mixed itself.

One verse later (v3) Ezra tells us:

As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled.

Reading these verses from our Western context, we think, “Well, sure Ezra was disturbed.  God had told Joshua and the Israelites when they came into the land that they were to destroy most of these tribes because they were exceedingly sinful in His eyes.”  But does that really explain Ezra’s great angst?  I submit that this explanation is inadequate and our understanding is flawed because our typical Christian teaching doesn’t reach into the past far enough, it neglects to include the supernatural issues that are in play, and it misses the entire context of the situation.

The Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Amorites were all descendants of Noah’s son Ham.  They were also labeled, along with several other tribes descended from Canaan, as Rephaim.  Inevitably, each time the Israelites came upon any of these tribes, God commanded His people to completely annihilate them, i.e. devote them to destruction.  The Hebrew word for this concept is cherem, which means to exterminate.  Again, that seems pretty harsh if we only consider them as sinful people.  Where is God’s mercy?  Maybe there’s something else going on at a deeper level.

To appreciate the context and how the ancient Israelites would have understood the implications in God’s decrees, we have to first go to Genesis 6:1-5:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

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

Modern Christianity attempts to whitewash this passage and take away its supernatural aspect.  The thought of divine beings or angels coming to earth and taking human women as their “wives” is a bridge too far for many people.  As a result, the idea that the sons of God, the bad guys, are Cain’s descendants, while the daughters were from the Godly line of Seth has been promoted.

There is nothing in the Biblical text that can in any way lead us to this conclusion.  Pastors, when they must touch upon this topic, and seminaries, when they reluctantly address it, almost universally declare there’s no way angels could come to earth and reproduce.  The argument often revolves around the statement Jesus made in Matthew 22:30 that angels in heaven don’t marry.  This is a simplistic argument.  It doesn’t address angels when they come to earth and assume a corporeal body.  What do we know about angels in this human form and the functions they have?  Nothing.  The verse also doesn’t say angels can’t marry; it says they don’t marry.  Words mean things.

So, the supernatural meaning of this passage is a distinct possibility.  Beyond that, we must realize that the Ancient Near East was a hotbed of the supernatural.  Moses, who wrote Genesis, knew the neighborhood in which he lived.  He knew that God was a God of miracles and manifestation.  The angel of the Lord came and spoke to him face to face.

To comprehend that the Nephilim were the hybrid offspring of fallen angels and human women wasn’t a conceptual stretch for Moses or anyone else in that period.  In fact, it’s this narrative that shapes the entire Biblical story.  God’s rebellious divine sons wanted to take His place.  Fallen angels intermarrying with humans, corrupting the human bloodline, and killing off humanity so that the Seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 couldn’t bring forth the promised Messiah, were ideas that every Israelite carried with them as God’s chosen people.

How do we get to the Rephaim and the associated tribes that God wanted His people to kill off?  It is speculated that the wife of Ham had Nephilim corrupted blood; whereas Noah, his wife, his other two sons and their wives had the righteous, pure, human blood that God needed when He saved Noah and his family.  But through Ham we have these tribes that God says to cherem—to devote to destruction.

When Ezra prays is Ezra 9:11-12, he reiterates what God has told the Israelites:

“which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. Therefore, do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’”

God was very clear.  Don’t have anything to do with these abominable people.  They are unclean.  The deeper story is that their uncleanness is not simply from sin; it is from a corrupted bloodline that must not pollute the offspring of the Israelites.

Regarding the other three tribes of the Moabites, Ammonites, and of Egypt, we have oracles and prophecies that God declares which condemn these nations.  Amos 1:13-15 deals with Ammon; Amos 2:1-3 addresses Moab; and Isaiah 19:1-17 speaks of Egypt.  Each of these transgressed against Israel in vile ways, and perhaps in this instance in Ezra God truly is judging their sins as abominations.  On the other hand, maybe there were Rephaim offspring that had migrated to these countries and at that particular time their people had tainted blood.  Thus, intermarrying with them was particularly forbidden.  God knows.

As a result of these impurities, when Ezra issues a proclamation for all descendants of the captivity to gather in Jerusalem, he says in Ezra 10:10-11:

“You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”

Ezra 10:44 finishes up with:

All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.

This is tough stuff.  Everyone who has taken a foreign wife is to separate from them; any kids go as well.  If God hates divorce, what’s with this?  These people had placed themselves into a position completely contrary to God’s Word.  The implications for their intermarrying actually went beyond the concept of divorce.  It was a necessity that none of the offspring be considered Jewish because they might actually have tainted blood, i.e. blood resulting from the fallen sons of God in Genesis 6:1-5.

You may have also wondered what the point of listing the offenders was—why bother?  It was very specific, very deliberate.  The names of the offending Israelites had to be made public so that none of their descendants could claim to be an Israelite.  God’s people had to maintain purity within the bloodlines to truly be those through whom Messiah would come.

It was Ezra’s faithful actions in a difficult situation that enabled God to continue with His plans and purposes.  What were these?  To redeem Israel so that through her all nations could be blessed.  And we are.  We owe a debt of gratitude to Ezra that he was a righteous and holy man, totally sold out to God.

Paul’s Mars Hill Declaration of Deuteronomy 32:8

The Apostle Paul was a product of the Ancient Near East.  He understood the neighborhood in which he lived.  He knew there was a supernatural world and worldview that greatly influenced the lives of those to whom he witnessed.  This is fully on display when Paul goes to Athens and engages the Greeks on the Ares rock: the Areopagus, i.e. Mars Hill.

Mars Hill was a place of intellectual pursuit.  Luke in his account says in Acts 17:21:

Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

How the philosophers must have frittered away their days!  They ran here and there for something new, something that would tickle their ears.  And apparently, there was plenty of that around.

But then came Paul.  He comes to this city known for its religiosity.  It’s the center of Greek culture with its rich history of mythology.  The Greek gods were well known and revered.  People lived their lives seeking to know more about them.

I heard a couple of interesting interviews recently between Dr. Michael S. Heiser and—I can put it no other way—a Greek Olympian.  Heiser’s book The Unseen Realm is the basis for much of what I’ve been reflecting in many of these articles lately.  Hercules Invictus has spent his life pursuing knowledge of the Greek gods.  He’s a walking encyclopedia about them.  His podcast is found on The International Pagan Network—yes, there is such a thing.  Better yet: “All pagan, all the time.”

In this discussion—and it really was such; there was no contention or animosity between them—Heiser simply responded to Hercules in the calm, laid-back manner that he does and proceeded to lay out the Biblical view.  He ended up presenting the Gospel in such a non-threatening way that I couldn’t help but pray for the salvation of Hercules.  He reminded me so much of the truth-seeking philosophers of Mars Hill, who inevitably came away empty.

Paul interacts with those around him.  He’s seen the altars, the statues, and the darkness in which these people live.  Because Paul knows the context of that culture, he can relate directly to their situation.  Thus: what is the context?

He states it in Acts 17:26-28:

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

So, where did Paul get this information?  What is he talking about?

It goes back to Deuteronomy 32:8.  In fact, many Bibles refer to this in a Scriptural reference from the verses in Acts.  Here’s what the verse says:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,

when he divided mankind,

he fixed the border of the peoples

according to the number of the sons of God.

Paul is clearly declaring that nations are under the authority of the sons of God whom He placed there.  In this Deuteronomy passage, we see that God effectively divorced the nations.  He had become fed up with the disobedience of man and let him have free reign to pursue what they chose.  However, the divine sons of God were supposed to point people back to Yahweh.  Instead, as we see in Psalm 82, they rose up in rebellion and set themselves as supreme deities over the nations.

Yet, God never intended for this to be, and He wanted mankind to seek Him, even from their place in outer darkness, i.e. these nations outside Israel.  Paul affirms that all men are God’s offspring.  It’s through Him that we have life.  We ultimately are to reject the false gods, the usurpers, and come to Him.

This is such a great scene because it puts on clear display what Paul knew about the supernatural realm, what had happened, and what was supposed to happen.  His description intrigued many in that pagan place, and God moved, bringing salvation into their midst.

How fortunate we are that God has not given up on us!  He has not relegated us to wander in the wilderness forever.  Rather, He gives each one of us the means and opportunity to turn to Him and to know the One true God.  How gracious He is, and how merciful!