Tag: Prophecy


Thy Kingdom Come

“The Church Secretary said I could find you here. I’m here selling some information put out by the Last Days Hoopla Ministry.”
“Really? And what do they believe?”
“That the last days that Jesus spoke of are upon the earth, and that we should be aware of the events around us, and be looking for the Second Coming, so that we might be found wise.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, sir, then you’ve come to the wrong place. This isn’t one of those churches. There’s no way for us to know when the return of Christ will be, so there’s no use worrying about it. And all those signs and stuff — they just stir people up, and make Christians look crazy.”
“So you don’t think that….”
“No, we can’t know for certain when Jesus will return, but it certainly won’t be in our lifetimes. It’ll probably be thousands, if not millions, of years from now! Even if it were, what could I do about it? There’s nothing to worry about, I think, God doesn’t want us looking around for signs and stuff, just living our lives the best we can day to day. Does it apply to my life right now?”
“Well, okay. I think there are some verses you should probably….”
“No, no, that’ll be all for now. Thanks.”

later the same day

“Yes? Well, come on in Mary! I didn’t know you were stopping by this afternoon. I’m so glad to see you!”
“Thanks. I just came by to ask a question about something in Bible study this week.”
“Great, great! I’m so glad that Bible study is going well. It’s about time we had some people really learning how to apply the Bible to their daily lives. how are the kids?”
“Fine, but…. I just had one question that I wanted to ask that came up the other night….”
“Well, you’re questions are always welcome with me! Go right ahead!”
“Well, you see, we were discussing prayer, and the question came up that if you could only teach someone one prayer, what would it be? I mean, what is the perfect, short, little prayer that every believer should be praying?”
“Oh, Mary, I think that’s a great question!”
“So, what would you suggest? I have a friend who I’m trying to help to teach to pray….”
“Well, we had that conference on prayer last year — I have it here someplace. There it is! Let’s see, start with adoration, then thanskgiving, then supplication. That’s a good place to start. Well, let’s see if we can work through something here.”
“I was thinking of starting with: ‘Our Father.'”
“Well, your friend might not be comfortable with that. Maybe just ‘God?’ We can’t her having some patriarchal image of God hanging around, can we? God’s bigger than all of that.”
“Okay. Then I was going to continue with: ‘who is in heaven.'”
“Well, Mary, we don’t want to tie God to a location or place — God’s all around us, all the time.”
“Well, I was going to continue with ‘may Your name be praised forever.'”
“That’s good — keep going Mary.”
“Then I was going to say ‘Your kingdom come….'”
“Mary! No, no, no, that won’t do. We can’t have you talking about that second coming nonsense! That’ll make your friend think Christians are all nuts. We don’t want her thinking we’re all like some televangelist, do we?”
“No, Pastor, but I was….”
“Well, then let’s continue on with something else. I think thankfulness is next on the list.”
“But, Pastor, I was just thinking of teaching her the Lord’s prayer.”

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. -Matthew 6:9-13


The Well

It was a small well, tucked in beside the road, and used for many generations before. It probably still stands on some road not often traveled by tourist just outside of Jerualem today. Zebedee, not the one of Biblical fame, approached and began to draw water. While he was doing so, another man, well known to him from years of aquantance, came around the bend from Jerusalem and sat down at a convenient place. It was their custom to greet each other warmly, and to talk of various things whenever they met, which was often at this well.

“Shalom, Zebedee!”
“It’s been some time since we met here, Andrew.” This Andrew was not the one we are familiar with, but a simple farmer who often went to Jerusalem to transact business of various types.
“And much has happened. Barrabas tried to start a revolt, and has been taken into Roman custody.”
“Well…. He’s always been something of a hothead, I think. You should’ve seen the people going out to see John in the desert! Has it been that long since we talked?”
“I’m afraid so, Zebedee…. So, many people thought that John might be the one, they say. He didn’t seem to fit the prophecies, though.”
“Those prophecies are so hard to understand. Every now and then we read through them in the Synagog, but I can’t ever figure out what they are talking about.”
“Have you ever thought them through and tried to understand what they are saying?”
“No, Andrew. Why would I? What practical application do they have in my life? They can’t atone for my sins, like the sacrifices can. They don’t make me a better Jew, do they? If you put ten Rabbis in a room, you’ll get eleven different interpretations of what each one of those things mean.”
“Yes, well, that much is true. They are hard to understand. Even people who study them for years, and study the writings of all the Rabbis seem to be confused over them. I wonder why they are part of the Synagog reading?”
“So, Andrew, what do you think of this Jesus fellow?”
“Well, some are saying he’s the Chosen One, and others are saying he isn’t. He badly embarrassed the Sadducees on some question involving the resurrection yesterday, I heard—they say he teaches with authority.”
“Yes…. And they say he heals many, and performs exciting miracles.”
“Well, I’m certain the Rabbis will decide soon enough if he is the one. How could I ever know?”
“I should be on my way, Andrew—I have my family waiting on me, and a lot to do! It never seems to slow down, does it?”
“No, this is true. Shalom.”

For anyone who doesn’t get the ‘point’ of this modern day parable set in a time when Jesus walked the roads of Jerusalem, it is this: If you don’t know the prophecies, you can’t know if the person who claims to be God is really God. If you don’t know how Jesus said He would return, or what the signs would be of that return, how will you know it is really Him? Remember the lesson of those who should’ve known the Scriptures, and recognized Him, the first time. We can be smug and say we would be smarter, but would we?


Review: The Prophets and the Promise

The Prophets and the Promise: Being for Substance
Rev. Willis Judson Beecher, D.D.

I actually picked this book up on the recommendation of Dr. Kaiser, who spoke at Shepherds recently. He stated this work was one of the primary backgrounds for his latest book, so I decided I should read it before taking on Dr. Kaiser’s book, which I’ll get to after some “light” reading. The book itself was given as a series of lectures in in 1902-1903 at Princeton Theological, back when Princeton was still something of a Christian college.

Rev. Beecher begins with an examination of the nature of the Scriptures as we have received them. Are they reliable? His answer will leave a lot of modern readers, who hunger for a flat “yes or no” answer, a little flat footed. In general, he says, we should accept the Scriptures as we have them provisionally, using what the Scriptures themselves say to judge them. In our modern world, we don’t much like suspended judgment, or examining things by what they say. We want judgment now, and we want it based on what we perceive immediately.

The second chapter begins the first section, which is a rather lengthy examination of the prophets. The primary thrust of this chapter is to discover the primary purpose and nature of prophets, based on the names used by those who lived alongside them to describe their work. The next chapter in the section examines an external history of the prophets, including dividing the prophets into different periods of time, to better understand their ministry within the context of the ministry itself. This chapter is very helpful in understanding the objectives of the prophets themselves. In chapter four, Reverend Beecher discusses our concept of what a prophet looked like, and how they ministered. We tend to see Jewish prophets as the world sees the holy men of other cultures: a man with distinctive dress, a man who speaks in round phrases, a man who is “set apart.” The author counters this view; the prophets had jobs, and lived apparently normal everyday lives. The thrust of this chapter is that the prophets were citizens with a message, rather than men set apart as some holy caste. The fifth chapter discusses the functions of a prophet, the sixth the message of a prophet, and the seventh the prophet as a writer. The seventh chapter is critical for our understanding of the nature of Scripture.

The eighth chapter begins the second section: The Promise. Throughout this section, Reverend Beecher discusses the nature of the promise given by God through the prophets. The point is clearly made that there are not many promises, but rather one promise. Much of our misunderstanding of modern Christian stems from our lack of understanding about the promise of God, and how it flows down into what we see as promises and laws. Here the author brings these together, showing that there is really only one promise. The author finishes this section by considering the names of the Messiah.

The final point of this entire discussion, bringing together the prophets and the promise into one piece is that the promise is both a nation and a person.

A certain current interpretation claims that the seed of Abraham in whom the nations are blessed is Israel the race… a great body of Christian interpreters claim that the fulfillment is not, except incidentally, in Israel the race… The exclusive Jewish interpretation and the exclusive Christian interpretation are equally wrong. Each is incorrect in what it affirms, and incorrect in what it denies. –The Promise and the Prophet, page 382

The author concludes by returning to the first question, the validity of the Scriptures, in the guise of discussing the apologetic value of prophecy.

Overall, this is a masterful work, pulling together many different threads into one conclusion —a conclusion the modern Christian would be well advised to pay close attention to.


Review: A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days

A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days
Rabbi Jonathan Bernis

This isn’t your typical “last days” book in any sense. While it is written by a Messianic Rabbi, and it does cover some events in eschatology, it is mostly an exhortation to be a witness for Yeshua during these times. The book contains a number of practical tips towards this end, including some areas of discussion and helpful information on objections to Yeshua as the Messiah, and an entire section on teaching salvation by grace strictly from the Tanakh. Both of these sections will be helpful for Christians who’ve not been exposed to this type of material before.


A Life With a View (1)

We live in a world powerful with images. While there is no doubt this is true, what does it mean to a Christian, and what does it mean to the worldview of the age? Let’s start here: What do the Scriptures say about living by your eyes?

Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” Matthew 26:50

I’ve written before about how this Scripture doesn’t really relate to swords, as it does reliance on something, or the strength we perceive in a given object. Instead of relying on God, we rely on the sword, or our community, or some other “thing” to take care of us. And how does this relate to living by our eyes? Because we live in an empirical age, relying on our eyes to tell us the truth, to tell us how things really are in the world. Just like Samson.

Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” Judges 14:1 (ESV)

And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. Judges 16:21 (ESV)

I know so many people who judge people by what they see. “But so-and-so is so nice!” This is partly due to the Calvinistic tendency in our theology, of course. If the Holy Spirit always bears fruit in the life of the believer, then those who bear fruit must be Christians. It’s faulty logic on a number of levels, but it’s used, so often, by Christians in order to justify having a deep, influencing relationship with another person or organization. “I know my husband abuses me, but he’s so nice!” Or this one, “I know the public schools aren’t the best at educating children, but the people there are so nice!” Jesus, by way of example, wasn’t always what we would consider “nice.” He was sarcastic and physical, overturning tables and calling people what they really were. No, if Jesus were alive today, we wouldn’t consider Him “nice.”

(…continued tomorrow…)


The Fate of America

Chuck Missler was on a recent Understanding the Times show (by Jan Markell). I really encourage you to podcast her shows, and support her ministry. She’s one of the most interesting and reasonable voices out there right now in the arena of looking at current news, and what’s going on in the US. Anyway, to return to Dr. Missler, his comments were very interesting, given the current political and economic conditions, and the questions still swirling around where America is in prophecy. Here are a couple of clips from the show.

While I don’t spend as much time as I used to in Dr. Missler’s studies, I still hold him in high respect, and I think his point is well taken. We are not Republicans or Democrats, we are monarchists waiting for the return of our King. And it looks like it’s going to be sooner rather than later. This also means, of course, that we need to pay attention to what’s going on with an eye towards getting through what’s coming, and teaching our children to get through what’s coming, rather than towards how to straighten out the mess the US is in.

There are several points Christians should be attentive too. Not that we need to panic, or we need to go off into wild theorizing, but Christians should live in “condition yellow,” and be aware of their surroundings, making the most of any plan or opportunity to be certain we are ready for possible outcomes. You don’t toss out your smoke detectors simply because you don’t want to hear them when a fire starts in your house. In the same way, we shouldn’t toss out the warnings we hear in terms of politics, religion, and others.

First, I think we should pay attention to our children. They are the next generation of Christians in this world. If they are taken, and pushed into a position where they must deny Christ in order to survive in the world, or various modern techniques are used on them to destroy their faith, what will the result be? Are our kids ready to stand up for Christ, or are they having their worldview watered down, their faith attacked, in the public schools?

Second, I think we should pay attention to our future as families. What skills can you develop now to help you in the case of losing your job, or other sorts of problems?

Third, I think we should seriously consider how much we support the social structure we live under. The single biggest thing Christians could do to cause a major panic among those who hate Christianity is to simply pull our children our of public schools. We need to stop using our comfort as an excuse, and stop using our lack of training as an excuse. We need to get on the front lines, rather than the back burner, and the public schools are as good a place to start as any other.

And remember what Paul enjoined us, to be content in times of plenty, and content in times of danger. To be content in all things, in Christ.


Dr. Regan on Studying Prophecy

Prophecy is a rather understudied area of the Scriptures in the Church at large today. There’s a feeling that since it doesn’t directly “apply to my life,” there’s no reason to study it. As it’s studied less and less, it begins to appear to be an area where the “oddballs” and “strange folks” gather, the province of people who study little more than prophecy. Dr. Regan, from Lion and Lamb Ministries, discusses some of the reasons for studying prophecy in the following audio clip (although I think I trimmed it a little short on the end).

I’ve often heard that we should study prophecy because 1/3rd of the Scriptures are prophecy. In fact, I’ve used that argument before in various places. But I think we need to beyond this sort of simple argument, and make a broader argument for the study of prophecy. Dr. Regan’s point that all the prophecies of Yeshua’s life here on the Earth were fulfilled literally, so we should take the prophecies of His Return literally. Of course, if you don’t study the prophecies of Yeshua’s life on the Earth, then you don’t know that they were all fulfilled literally. But this observation, in itself, points out various problems with failing to study prophecy, doesn’t it?

If you don’t study prophecy, then you don’t have any basis on which to claim Jesus is the Christ. You see, God’s validity as God is staked on His ability to tell the future accurately. Hence, failure to study and understand prophecy leaves you vulnerable to attacks against your faith. The Church has failed in providing Christians with the ability to defend their faith for the last hundred years or so, and this is one way they have failed, by refusing to study prophecy.

If you don’t study prophecy, then you don’t have any basis on which to trust God. The only way a relationship is built in the real world is through promises kept. It’s not ‘warm and cozy feelings,’ and it’s not ‘common interest.’ It’s promises kept. And the way to see God’s seriousness, His willingness to keep promises to me, is to see how He has kept promises to others. Without this fundamental trust building component, there’s no basis for a relationship between the believer and God. The failure to study prophecy actually destroys spiritual maturity.

Finally, if you don’t study prophecy, you don’t have any basis on which to understand the times in which you live.


The Tachometer

Let’s kick this off with a series of music styles set into one clip.

Did you notice anything? The beat gets faster, that’s for certain, but it also gets more insistent, more prominent in the music. The primary focus moves from the vocals to the beat—rarely do you hear songs without a fast, prominent beat today. There’s an interesting alternate point to this clip, as well. Home on the Range was written, and played, and popular, in a time when the primary mode of transport was the horse. Horses have a syncopated sort of walk, and the beat of these old songs follows along with that syncopation. In fact, we find this in almost all old popular music, including Celtic, much of the old “hillbilly” music, and others.

Next we move to Johnny Cash. The beat is a bit faster, and it’s not as syncopated. Interestingly enough, the primary means of transport anyone would think about when Johnny Cash first started writing and playing was the train, and his music has the beat of a train. Finally, we come to the Metallica clip. Here there is nothing but beat, with the vocals being in the distant background. The beat is insistent, with almost all the instruments accentuating the feel of constant interruption, of constant movement. Welcome to the modern world. Not only is the beat faster, it’s dizzying if you’re not used to it.

So modern life is faster. I could have told you that, right? It’s interesting to see how this plays out in modern culture, to get a real feel for the changes, because there’s more here than faster. There’s movement, flow, immersion in an experience. Another example of this is the modern “art” of telling a story. If you try to read an old novel, say Our Mutual Acquaintance, you’ll find it confusing and long (I chose this one because it is one of my favorite novels by Dickens). There are a lot of characters, interacting in flashbacks and current actions, and sometimes moving into the future. It’s the same with old magazines; it’s hard to remember that the Sherlock Homes stories, now made into one and two hour movies, were originally written as magazine articles. What used to be magazine articles are now considered novels.

But there’s more to it than that, really. When you read Our Mutual Acquaintance, there is a difference in tone. I was recently talking to someone at a publishing house, describing the plot of a recent Christian “mystery novel.” The basic plot is the protagonist falls in love with a woman who ends up, in the course of the novel, dying in a horrible way (involving extreme heat). The protagonist forces one of the people responsible for the girl’s death, under the threat of exposure, to commit suicide in order to kill the others involved in the plot. The person I was talking to was astonished that this should be a Christian novel, written by a Christian author. I hadn’t considered just how dark this plot was until I met with this reaction.Murder I can handle, as long as the person is caught and justice is served. Forcing someone to commit suicide over a murder isn’t really a Christian plot line, though, reducing the murderer to something less than human. So as our music has become shorter, more focused on the beat, and darker, our writing has also become shorter, more focused, and darker.

Or consider politics. There was a time when someone cavorting with a member of their staff would have been removed from office, and never returned again. Today, we just expect this sort of behavior. There was a time when a few hundred words were debated for weeks on end. Today we pass bills thousands of pages long in a matter of hours. Not only is the speed evident, but the darkness is, as well, in the tone of debate, and the treatment of humans as objects to be used like any other machine.

Other than pointing all of this out (and going way past my 500 word limit), I leave you to think about this. I can only make a couple of observations, both from the Scriptures.

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. Revelation 1:1

The word translated “soon take place” is actually the Greek word tachos. Not the food, the tachometer. Tachometers don’t measure speed, they measure pace, or, if you will, the curve of a derivative. It’s not that the end comes quickly, it’s that the end comes at an ever increasing pace.

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…. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. Genesis 6:5, 12

How much longer will it be, if we continue along the derivative path of increasing speed and darkness, before we reach total twistedness?

Is this a good thing?


You Can't Fight Through the Light

This short clip is from the Personal Defense TV series, season 2. While this is a good point for those who are concerned with personal defense—one takeaway could be that a good, solid light with strobe capabilities (available on most tactical lights now) is useful in many self defense situations—there is another takeaway, one that has a larger impact on our lives.

Consider this: You need to make good decisions in every day life. Should I believe in God? Should I fight against this political movement? Should I buy this car or that one? All of these decisions have one thing in common: you need information to make a good, solid decision. Just like when you’re trying to do in the face of an attack, you need information. Is this person really a threat? How many threats are there? What is the line of force, and how do I get off of it?

What does the light do? It overwhelms you with information faster than your brain can process it. Your eyes focus ten or fifteen times each second. The light strobes fast enough to keep your eyes from ever focusing, or ever adjusting to the light or the dark conditions surrounding you. In tactical thinking, this is called getting inside the other person’s loop, short circuiting their ability to react to you by overwhelming them with information.

In fact, there is a psychological inability for humans to focus and react when we are overwhelmed with information.

How does this apply to politics? We are being overwhelmed with information from all sides. We have opinions coming out of the woodwork, many of them claiming various sets of facts. We have a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week news cycle (almost). The only people who play the news cycle by burying information on a Friday afternoon at 5pm are those who run the news. One crisis follows another in rapid succession. Nothing is ever really resolved, lending to the feeling of a huge weight building up, heavier and heavier.

How does this apply to our spiritual life? Again, we are being overwhelmed with information. There are new theories, written up in really long papers you’ll never have time to read, every day. There are a thousand arguments against traditional, Biblical Christianity, coming from every direction.

I believe this is all intentional.

The only way we, as individuals, will accept the one world government that is coming, the only way we will accept the reign of the Antichrist, is to remain disoriented. Satan has become a master at this game, filling our world with flashing lights, attracting our attention, asking us to come and see.

We need to learn to shut it off. Turn the television off. Sit and read. Read things that are hard to read. Focus on the Scriptures.

You can’t fight into the light. The only option is to find someplace else to focus. Focus on God. God’s light is brighter than all of Satan’s flashing lights. If you focus on God, the other lights will recede.


The Fourth Cup

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:26-29

This is the origin of the rite we call The Lord’s Supper.

Paul describes the resulting rite, as well.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

There are a couple of interesting things about the Lord’s Supper, and Paul’s description of it, that are interesting to contemplate. We tend to forget is this was a Passover meal, and there are four cups given in the Passover meal. The four cups are based on this verse:

Say therefore to the people of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Exodus 6:6-7

So the four cups represent:

  • God will bring Israel out from Egypt
  • God will bring Israel out from slavery
  • God will deliver Israel with great acts of judgment
  • Israel will be God’s people

The cup Jesus used to institute the Lord’s Supper was the third cup, the cup of judgment. It represents the judgment He was about to undergo on our behalf, judgment that would bring us out of the world, or Egypt, and judgment that would bring us out of slavery, through justification. Of the fourth cup, Jesus said:

I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father?s kingdom.

What we know from this is while we are justified now, we are not accepted until some time later. When is later? Has the acceptance already occurred, so we live in the Kingdom of God now? Not according to Paul. He says we should eat the bread, and drink the cup, until Christ returns. This obviously means Christ had not returned when Paul wrote these words, the letter to the Corinthians. And since we still perform the Lord’s Supper today, He has not returned yet, and we do not yet live in His Kingdom.

We look forward to the day when we stop drinking the third cup, and drink the fourth cup instead, the cup of acceptance, when will truly be People of God.

Signifies the completion of the bride of Christ.

Matthew 26:29 & 1 Cor 11:26

Note the ’til he comes in 1 Cor.

Jewish wedding customs. Supper was the highlight of the marriage. Note the entire marriage concept.

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