The End Times (Eschatology)

    Sunday, March 29, 2015, 5:57 AM [General]

    With all due respect to those who enjoy reading about the end times, I’m 62 and have studied Scriptures since I was a teen-ager.  I’ve studied several denominational interpretations of several various subjects wherein the denominations differ.  I’ve studied the different arguments for KJV versus other translations, versions, and paraphrases.  I’ve studied some Greek (though I don’t speak Greek); I’ve studied more Hebrew than Greek (but I don’t speak Hebrew).  I believe at least the major portion of the New Testament was written in Hebrew because of internal evidence including phraseology and many idioms, including perspectives that Hebrew is primarily from an Eastern perspective with abstract concepts rooted in concrete terms and Greek is primarily from a Western perspective with a more abstract vocabulary.

    I’ve studied Revelation from the millennialist, preterist, and historicist points of view; from the pre-millenial, post-millenial, and with the rapture- pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib rapture.  I’ve read Hal Lindsay’s Late Great Planet Earth, Salem Kirban’s Revelation Visualized, and others I don’t immediately recall.  I do not buy into a lot of the stuff from the series ‘Taken’.  Many believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, and I hope they’re right.  However, much of the interpretation in that rests in jumping around with the chronology of the verses from Jesus comments in the Gospels, Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation.  One thing that I haven’t accounted for is that Paul (apparently by some Revelation) states that the raising of the dead will occur “at the last trump” (1st Corinthians 15: 52), and even Jesus mentioned the great trumpet sounding.  No one can say for sure, but the last ‘great’ trumpet which blows in the Bible is the seventh trumpet.  Remember there will be seven seals, and then the seven trumpets, and then the seven bowls (or vials).  Some say that each seal represents a trumpet and a bowl- the first seal will be broken with the first trumpet to mark the emptying of the first bowl, and successively the other seals/trumpets/bowls simultaneously in order thereafter.  I believe the reading suggests that they will be in order, first all seven seals in order, one following the next, then all seven trumpets in successive order, and then all seven bowls in successive order.  So could the rapture not be after the seven seals have been broken, then the seven trumpets have sounded, and how much of that tribulation will have passed by then?  So if the rapture doesn’t occur until after the seventh (last great trumpet as Paul says), then much of the tribulation period will have passed.  The New Testament teaches that the church (the Christians) will go through many and much tribulations.

    There is nothing in the Scripture that even indicates the Western Hemisphere will even be anything more than an empty wasteland during that time.  That’s not saying the US will not have a role in that period (I believe it will), but it cannot be shown by the Scriptures.  Everything in the Scriptures could be carried out by all the world in the Eastern Hemisphere.  The Western Hemisphere could be destroyed by God’s wrath even before the events in the book of Revelation take place.  There are theories that the Pope could be the Anti-Christ, or that an Arab wearing a blue turban will be the Anti-Christ, or many other ideas about who that may be.  (Remember, the Scriptures teach that the ‘anti-Christs’ were already in the early church before the end of the New Testament and I believe that number has grown significantly since, but there is still that ‘one great Anti-Christ that will rule the world with the Beast and False Prophet at the end.)

    In short, no one knows for certain how near that time is, but I believe that it is already commencing.  (The historical interpretations would indicate that it has already been taking place progressively down through time.  Though there is some element of ‘appearances of evidence’ that permits some truth to that, I don’t buy into that either.)  The bottom line is, I feel that it is futile to be too dogmatic about it, so that is why I don’t try to delineate it, or write too much about how it will take place.  The US may be destroyed before most of those events occur, or it may not, no one knows.  Some feel that the US represents the great Babylon spoken of in Revelation.  That could make sense with the wickedly loose morals across the land (probably especially from Hollywood and the entertainment industry) and with New York and its world trade that is carried on from its center and Wall Street.  Others have felt that it may be Japan and/or Hong Kong with their involvement in world trade.  Many have felt it will be the Vatican as the city built on the seven hills, which carries credibility, along with the mention of the scarlet colors of much of their wardrobe.  Now Dubai seems to be the symbol of world trade and it is geographically located near the ancient historical site of Babylon.  So there are many ‘theories’ (or ideas- I think it is presumptuous to even call them theories), but no one really knows, except the Father, and to whom the Father chooses to reveal it.

    But I don’t see how anyone could deny that the end as described in the Bible is very near.  And it seems a good possibility (without any real foundation) that for all anyone knows, the US could be nothing more than a chaotic wasteland at that time.  I believe the US will have a pivotal role in that end time scenario, but at the same time, it wouldn’t surprise me if the US were no longer a power at that time, and could be a third world country at that time, or could be little more than a waste-land at that time.

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    Part 2 on Prophecy

    Saturday, March 28, 2015, 10:56 AM [General]

    Still trying to remember exactly what I wanted to say yesterday from part one of the post on prophecy.  I wanted to bring some Old Testament examples in and to warn people about being aware of false prophets.  There have generally been more ‘false’ than ‘true’ prophets.  We need to be careful that anyone professing to be a prophet speaks the true word from our Creator.  How do we know if a prophet is true?  We have at least two ways of telling.  First, from our passage yesterday, Deuteronomy 18: 22, we see that anything that a prophet says that does not come true, then that word did not come from the Lord.  Secondly, if what a prophet says is not in keeping with every meaning of the Scriptures (not just one verse that may be taken out of context, or not compared correctly with teachings in the rest of the Scriptures).

    In the Old Testament Elijah stood against four hundred and fifty prophets of false gods.  They were destroyed.  Micaiah stood up to Ahab after four hundred false prophets told Ahab he would succeed in battle and Ahab fell.  True prophets were rejected, persecuted, and often even executed for their prophecies.  Jesus taught that following Him as Christians we could expect to be treated in this world as this world treated Him.  Being a true prophet is not being someone that can expect to be treated with praise and adoration.  To begin with, someone who is a true prophet would be very humble, and not seeking self attention or personal glory.  But one thing to be sure of, a true prophet can generally expect to be persecuted, and false prophets can certainly expect to meet judgment one day.

    Jer 2:8  The priests did not say, 'Where is the LORD?'  Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.

    Jer 14:14 And the LORD said to me: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name.  I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them.  They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.  15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, 'Sword and famine shall not come upon this land': By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.

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    Freedom/ Religion; Speech

    Saturday, March 28, 2015, 10:10 AM [General]

    When Nebuchadnezzar had a structure made to worship, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to it.  They violated the law of the land.  They were cast into a furnace.  When Cyrus made a law that no one should pray to anyone but him, Daniel still prayed to God.  He violated the law of the land.  He was cast into the lion’s den.

    In the US it is said that we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  Two Muslims went to pray at the top of the Empire State Building, but they were beaten and sent away.  People say that it was wrong for them to practice freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  Does that not make the people who say they don’t have the rights hypocrites?  Oh, but they say these rights were taken away from us by the government.  Then do only certain people have the right to stand up for their rights?

    Even so, with regards to prayer, Jesus said that you shouldn’t pray to be seen of people.  Prayers should be private between people and their Creator.  You can pray in your heart in public, and no one would bother you (except maybe Satan or his demons).  Making a public show of prayer often just focuses attention to you.  It can make people think you’re religious, even if you’re not; or could make people think you’re making a spectacle of yourself, even if you’re not trying to do that.  The Christian is supposed to bring attention to his Savior, not to himself.

    Also, Christians are to treat others the way they wish to be treated.  Even if people don’t treat you the way you want to be treated, you are still supposed to treat them the way you wish them to treat you.  This is part of what is meant by “love your enemy” and “do good to them that persecute you”.  So if you call yourself a Christian, shouldn’t you at least learn how to act like one?  So if you don’t stand for your right to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom to pray in public (which Jesus taught shouldn’t be done to begin with), then why begrudge two Muslims who do stand up for those rights?  Do you realize that makes you hypocrites?  If you feel you have been done wrongly, then do you believe what Paul said when he said that sometimes it is best to suffer the wrong than to parade it publicly (not an exact quote, but the meaning is there)?

    Beware people- God’s wrath is soon upon us!

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    The Gift of Prophecy

    Friday, March 27, 2015, 4:41 PM [General]

    Numbers 12:6 And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.

    Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers.  And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.  19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.  20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.'

    21 And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously.  You need not be afraid of him.

    The gift of prophecy may take two posts.  I will try to be concise, but some things need to be considered.  First, true prophecy comes from the Lord.  Any word from the Lord is true, and will never conflict with the written Word of Scriptures.  Second, there are false prophets who speak presumptuously.  The false prophets may think, feel, and believe they are true, but they are either knowingly false, or they have been deceived by Satan into believing they are telling the truth.  False prophets deceived by Satan may even experience ‘miracles’ or ‘seeming miracles’ as Satan uses his wiles in his deceptive program.

    Romans 12:6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

    1st Corinthians 14:5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy.  The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.  6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?

    Paul told the Corinthians that he could wish that they all could speak in tongues, but more so to prophesy.  This does not suggest that all would speak in tongues or that all would prophesy.  God gives gifts according to His purposes, not man’s desires.  Paul could wish that all would receive all of God’s gifts, but God has His Own reasons for assigning gifts to different people to bring them together to do His will.  (Perhaps bringing them together is the main reason, but we cannot say that for certain- only that God knows what His purpose is and who is in the right position at the right time to do that purpose.)

    Amos 3:6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?  Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?  7 "For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets."

    For their day and time, the trumpet in the city represents the alarm going out when danger was imminent or present.  Do some people seem to think that our Creator simply wants to pour wrath on the people He created?  His desire is that all should come to Him.  It is one thing to say that so many will not, but it is another to say that they displease Him so much by their lives (their actions, their desires, their disregard for Him and for others) that it stirs His wrath.  Even so, He sends prophets to warn people.  Evangelists are given the Word from God to plead with people to come to the Lord.  Prophets are given the Word from God to warn the people that they are displeasing Him and if they do not come to Him, His wrath will come.  (Actually- the functions of the prophets extend much further than that, but this seems to have been the main function.  Moses was a prophet, and even he told the people that in the future they would fail to follow the Lord, and that His wrath was going to appear.  Some form of the word ‘curse’ appears sixty-nine times from Exodus through Deuteronomy, and many of those times refer to the curses that would come upon the people for failing to keep God’s commandments.)

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    Speaking in Tongues

    Friday, March 27, 2015, 10:00 AM [General]

    There are some who believe that speaking in tongues is ‘obsolete’.  They say that it was used in the early church to (how can this be put) sort of ‘jump start’ it, but that it no longer applies.  The only verse I’m aware of they use is 1st Corinthians 13: 8, where it says that tongues will pass away.  Well, this seems flimsy to me, because we know that once this world is consummated there will be no more need for tongues, but I can’t see that this verse can specify any date that they would end, or have ended.  I have never (to my knowledge) spoken in tongues myself.  I believe the teaching that God has given different gifts to different people for the purposes He has in mind for them.  (Not wishing to sound boastful, but I have been told many times that I have a great gift for teaching.)  I have many times heard people speaking in tongues and others interpret those tongues.

    Many of us have experienced false tongues in various ways (this I have not only seen myself, but others who had the gifts of tongues and discernment have attested to this).  There are some who get emotionally caught up in a service and have an emotional experience that sounds to some as tongues; but discernment can detect that the presence of the Holy Spirit is not on them.  (I know, because many times I have felt the Spirit’s presence with one speaking in tongues, and times that I didn’t feel any presence of that Spirit.).  Also Satan has many powers that can mimic miracles.  I have been amidst some speaking tongues and felt a ‘bad’ spirit’s presence, as well as others have informed me of this.  Satan and/or his demons use these mimicking powers in deceiving people into thinking they are ‘angels of light’ and ‘ministers of mercy’ to try to convince others to listen to false teachings.  (BTW- if anyone is interested, the ‘religious’ term for these tongues is ‘glossalalia’ not sure if this is from Latin, or what.)

    Paul was very specific about the use of tongues.  As Jesus mentioned that the best praying is done in a private place (not to be for show), Paul echoes this teaching regarding tongues.  He says that when used in a gathering, there should be a limited number, and there should be an interpreter present to translate the tongues so that what is said will be useful to all gathered.  When there is ‘a big show’ of tongues, then that is generally all it is- a show.  When tongues come from the Holy Spirit, they will be orderly (as the Scriptures teach) and there will usually be an interpreter.  The following passages from the ESV support this.

    1st Corinthians 14:13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.  14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.

    18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.  19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.  20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking.  Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

    23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?

    27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.  28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.

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