The end of history will be a terrible and dreadful thing.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The end of history will be a terrible and dreadful thing.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
The celebrated expert on War from the early nineteenth century, Von Clausewitz, is reported to have said that war is the attempt to compel an enemy to do one’s will. I have read that in the last 4,000 years there have only been 300 without war and the person jokingly said that those 300 years must have been needed to reload. Since 1945, when the U.N. was created to end global conflict there have been nearly 200 wars, civil wars, genocides, terrorism, humanitarian interventions, inter-ethnic wars, and even drug wars. The 20th century was the bloodiest century in history and the 14th century ran a close second. One hundred million people were murdered in war, millions were displaced from their homes, and countless numbers suffered horribly in the 20th. Plague alone killed 35 million in Europe in the 14th century while nearly 20 million died of the Spanish flu alone in the early 20th.
Every week my email inbox receives notifications of earthquakes from the USGS. There are and have been earthquakes around the world, some in history killing hundreds of thousands of people as in Lisbon, Portugal in the 1700’s and in China in the 1500’s.
Historical famines, such as the one in the Deccan Plateau of India in the late 1800’s due to British Imperial policy (see Mike Davis' Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World) and the one recently in Ethiopia, have killed millions of people. (see 1 Timothy 6:10 for the reason.)
These are not new things. They are the nature and condition of humanity. Books like Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of Modern Civilization by David Keys shows how the ancient world was destroyed by climate change, famine, and plague beginning in the early 500’s. Books like James Reston, Jr.’s The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 AD show that the European world feared that the end was near as the first millennium was coming to an end and Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims seemed poised to tear their world apart.
Satan is the god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4.) It is under his operative control. Mankind is essentially wicked. Even born-again Christians are so consumed by the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, and the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16) that they are for the most part useless to God if they are truly born-again.
Jesus tells you that this is only the beginning. What is coming will make World War II look like a skirmish. We act foolishly when we look at the conditions we see around us and say, well, this must be the end. You can’t even imagine what the end will be like. Read Revelation. Jesus is about to say that if those days weren’t shortened “no flesh should be saved.”
The time of God’s wrath is coming on the earth that will be unlike anything since the Great Flood of Noah that wiped out all humanity save eight people.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
5 ¶ And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Abba Hillel Silver, writing in his 1927 book, The History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, points out that in the first century before the destruction of the temple an expectant enthusiasm burst out hoping for the Messiah to come, probably more due to the Roman occupation than anything along with their understanding of the prophecies in Daniel.
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Theudas is mentioned in Acts 5:36 as being someone who garnered followers as did Judas of Galilee in the next verse.
Acts 5:36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. 37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
The Jewish general, turncoat, and questionable historian, Josephus, reports in his Antiquities of the Jews, in book XX, chapter 5, which you can read free online at openlibrary.org or gutenberg.org, that Theudas told people he was a prophet, took on many followers, and promised to part the Jordan. The Romans didn’t let it get that far but cut off his head and carried it back to Jerusalem.
Silver goes into much detail about the many people throughout history who claimed to be the Messiah and the consequences not only they suffered but their followers as well. He also goes into a great amount of detail about Jews trying to predict when the Messiah was to come.
We know this is not an uncommon thing among so-called Christians in history. People from the nineteenth century’s John Nichols Thorn, a Cornish tax rebel, shot by the British government, Arnold Potter, a Mormon, who died while attempting to ascend into heaven by jumping off a cliff in 1872, to recently David Shayler and Alan Miller, Ann Lee of Shaker fame in the 1700’s, Sung Yung Moon, David Koresh, and David Icke all claimed or claim to be Jesus Christ or the Christ.
There were literally dozens of people in history who would claim to be the Messiah or Christ or the Second Coming of Jesus. There will be one final one; the Beast of Revelation whom we know of as the Antichrist, although that title is not found in the Book of Revelation. He is mentioned prominently, not only by the Apostle John, the writer of Revelation, but by Paul.
2Thessalonians 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
The foundation of Christianity is the belief and assurance that Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, was and is God in the flesh. It is impossible to honestly call yourself a Christian if you do not believe that with all your heart, Bill O’Reilly’s nonsensical views notwithstanding.
Christ has warned His disciples not to believe anyone who says they are Him. Christ is returning to earth to take control, not to lead people into the desert or to jump off a cliff.
2 Thessalonians 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Of course, who his mighty angels are is revealed in the parallel verse in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 but that is not for this study.
Believe no one who says he or she is the Christ, the Messiah, or Jesus returning. You’ve been warned.
Monday, May 6, 2013
1 ¶ And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
Jesus is literally talking about the temple that was finished under Herod the Great’s leadership. Four disciples then later ask Jesus what the signs will be of this great destruction predicted. It has been understood throughout the history of Christianity that prophecies had double-meanings, at least. There is an immediate context and a context of a more distant prophetic import.
When Isaac, carrying what could have been the fuel for his own sacrificial fire, asked his father, Abraham, where the sacrifice was, Abraham replied;
Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
But, it was a ram, not a lamb, in verse 13, that was provided. Clearly, then this statement had a double-meaning, even if Abraham himself didn’t know what that meaning was. God was revealing His sacrifice of Himself, as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36).
In Exodus 12:3-5 the Lord speaks to Moses and Aaron. In each successive verse while describing the Passover Lamb the progression also indicates Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who is “a lamb” (v.3), “the lamb” (v. 4), and “your lamb” (v.5) which is indicative of Christ as a Saviour (Isaiah 45:21), the Saviour of the world (John 4:42), and then yours and my Saviour specifically (Titus 1:4; 2:13).
In this chapter there will be prophecies that have already been fulfilled in one sense but in another, Jesus links them to future events. Surely, history does repeat itself for a purpose. Remember, the temple at Jerusalem has already been twice destroyed, first by Nebuchadnezzar and then by the Romans.
For instance, at the end of 2 Chronicles, the last part of the Hebrew Bible’s order of books, Cyrus, king of Persia orders the Jews back to the land. This is an immediate command but also reflects prophetically what began in the twentieth century with the return of the Jews to Palestine and to the creation of Israel in 1948.
2Chronicles 36:23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.
Jesus then delivers a prophecy that is applicable to the destruction of the temple in 70AD and the events surrounding it. It is also, by the words and phrases used, clearly applicable to the end of the Tribulation and the end of human-centered history. I will attempt to show both of these applications as this amazing chapter unfolds.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
41 ¶ And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Rather than telling you to give your entire paycheck to Christ’s work and destroy your testimony before your creditors and your family I believe this is a lesson of proportions. A person can give much but it is a small thing in consideration of what they have and another person may give what seems like little and it is all they have.
I am reminded of recent news stories that suggested that statistically poor people give far larger proportions of their incomes to charity than rich people although the rich give substantially more in terms of overall dollars.
When you think of gifts of not only money but time and energy you can see people who devote a huge amount of time to serving the Lord. A person working two jobs who manages to take time to witness, hand out tracts, or even street preach has certainly given more of his or her time than a retiree who devotes the same amount of time in actual minutes and seconds although both get blessed.
Here, as I said, is a lesson in proportions. This should keep us from judging each other’s contributions. This widow’s small amount of money represented a much larger gift than all of the abundance the wealthy were putting in. We should be careful when we presume to make judgments on another person’s work for Christ. This scene also makes one realize how much effort a pastor who runs a business, is head of a family and has a home to take care of, and still maintains the responsibilities of a pastor makes. He provides an example for all of us.
Another thought this scene brings to mind is the example of one person’s total trust in and dependence on God for their survival. Very few of us are willing to surrender all to Christ even though that is the rule set. God will bless abundantly those who trust in Him completely. It may not be in the world’s way but it will certainly draw them closer to Him and the grace He freely bestows on His children. Once again, you can’t outgive God.
To the Jews under the Law He said;
Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
To the Christians under the doctrines of Grace this bears repeating from Paul;
2 Corinthians 9:6 ¶ But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.