Posted in theology

‘I want those mandrakes’, Rachel said. So what are mandrakes?

By Elizabeth Prata

Genesis 30:14-16. Rachel ‘bought’ Jacob by trading him to Leah for a night of passion because she wanted Leah’s son Reuben’s mandrakes that Reuben had found and brought to Leah.

“Mandrakes! I want those!,” Rachel said, coveting. She schemed and bargained for them. So what’s so hot about mandrakes? What are mandrakes? Are they valuable? Are they a plant, mineral, or something else? Why did Rachel want them so badly she was willing to give over her precious Jacob to the ‘lesser’ wife for a night in order to obtain them?

When you read the Bible, allow your mind to ask questions of it as you go. Then delve further when your reading is finished to learn more about what God has put down in His word. It’s how I learn best, anyway. Asking questions of the text may help you, too. Remember, the Spirit is in us to help illuminate the word. Asking questions of the text is a way to ask the Spirit, and his ministry will lead you to illumination. It’s a more active form of learning than just passively reading.

Let’s start with the verse:

Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrake fruits in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Therefore he may sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must have relations with me, for I have indeed hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

Mandrakes are in the field, so they are likely a plant. Let me look them up.

From Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary:

MANDRAKE Small, perennial plant (Mandragora officinarum) native to the Middle East. Although not grown for food, its root and berries are edible. The ancient Near East viewed it as an aphrodisiac and fertility drug. It is often called love apple or devil’s apple. According to Gen. 30:14–16 a barren Rachel bargained with Reuben (Leah’s oldest son) for some mandrakes which he had found. Leah, however, produced the children (Gen. 30:17–21). Only when God “remembered Rachel” did she bear Joseph (30:24).

Ah! It’s a fertility plant. Or allegedly it brings babies. Remember, Rachel was barren at that time. Leah had borne boys already. The competition was on. No wonder Rachel was hot to get those mandrakes.

But it’s the same old story. Man (or woman) scheme to get their way when God is sovereignly in control. Sarah used Hagar to get a child when God had already promised one to Abraham.

In fact God gave Leah two more sons after this incident, Zebulun and Issachar. Rachel remained barren for a long time after.

‎Mandrake, species name Mandragora officinarum, belongs to the nightshade family. All parts of the mandrake plant are poisonous if ingested in sufficient amounts. The parsnip-shaped root contains several different hallucinogenic alkaloids and is often branched, resembling a human figure. The root has long been used in magic rituals due to its shape and psychoactive properties. Leah sold some of the mandrakes that her son Reuben found to Rachel in exchange for uncontested time with Jacob; their son Issachar was conceived that night (Gen 30:14–16). Gen 30:14–16, Song 7:13.

Source for illustration and caption information from Myers, R. (2012). Images from The Temple Dictionary of the Bible.

The ancient Palestinians in the Near East thought mandrakes were an aphrodisiac. They used it as a fertility drug. It is interesting that it is known as the love apple or the devil’s apple. Biblical Studies Press says,

The unusual shape of the large forked roots of the mandrake resembles the human body with extended arms and legs. This similarity gave rise to the popular superstition that the mandrake could induce conception and it was therefore used as a fertility drug. It was so thoroughly associated with erotic love that its name is derived from the Hebrew root דּוֹד (dod, "love"), that is, דּוּדָאִים (duda’im) denotes "love-apples." Source Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (So 7:11–13).

Ah! Becoming much clearer to me now.

One more tidbit.

According to the legend, when the root is dug up, it screams and kills all who hear it. Ancient literature includes complex directions for harvesting a mandrake root in relative safety. For example, Josephus (circa 37–100 AD) of Jerusalem gives the following directions for pulling it up:

A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this, the root can be handled without fear.

Wikipedia
Mandragora, from Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474).

Rachel put her trust in a plant from the ground instead of the LORD above. Her scheming did not work out, it actually backfired. The LORD kept her barren a long time and she had to deal with her scheming personality, her competitiveness, and her impatience until He deemed her ready to bear a child.

We should trust in Him always. God knows best. He is perfect and has promised good to us. Seeking relief for infertility from a toxic plant doesn’t even compare to the goodness of our holy God.

Are there ‘mandrakes’ in your life? In mine? Do I seek my own way and scheme to fulfill personal desires, or do I pray to Jesus giving Him my cares and leave them in His hands? This is something I need to ask myself every day. The spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:40-43). Rachel eventually realized this. God is better than mandrakes.

Posted in judgment, revelation

God’s Four Sore Judgments #4: Beasts

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

The other day I introduced a series examining the LORD’S “Four Sore Judgments.” (Links just above). In other translations they are called the “LORD’S Four Severe Judgments.” They’re mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21: “For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!

The four are Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Beasts. Wesley's notes says, "How much more - If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once."

It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed. If you read Revelation 6, you will see that the four are unleashed all at once, or in very rapid succession. Jesus called it the worst time on earth there ever has been or ever will be. (Matthew 24:21; also Revelation 6).

We looked at the correlation between Sword (war), famine, and disease. Now we will take a look at the biblical judgment of Beasts.

Vision of Death, Gustave Dore, 1865. Public domain

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.(Revelation 6:7-8)

The Greek word for “beasts” is just that, the generic term always used for ‘wild animal.’ I’ve written about Death by Beasts before, here.

While we have always had war, famines, and epidemic diseases, death by beasts is more unusual. Let’s look at man’s relationship to beasts since the beginning, through the flood, and afterwards up through the Tribulation and ending at the Millennium.

When Adam was created, one of the jobs God gave him to do is name all the beasts of the earth. (Genesis 2:19-20). At that time before the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, the beasts were friendly and herbivorous. (Genesis 1:29-30). Man was still sovereign over them, but it was not a bloody relationship.

After the fall, the first death was actually an animal, since God gave Adam and Eve animal skins to wear. (Genesis 3:21). Animals also became meat for humans. (Genesis 7:2, Genesis 10:9). The Flood came. After the flood waters receded, the relationship between man and beasts changed once again. God put the fear and dread of man into them. (Genesis 9:2).

In the Millennium kingdom, He will reverse that curse and all will be reverted back to the original state of peaceful co-existence. Children can put their hand into a snake’s hole and not be bitten. The wolf will lay down with lamb, and the lion shall be tame. (Isaiah 11:6-9).

Elisha and the boys in Bethel,
Matthaeus Merian the Elder, 1625

But before that, between the receded Flood waters and the peace of the Millennium, it seems that there will come another change of the relationship between man and beast, though this once is more implied rather than stated. It will occur in the Tribulation.

It seems that in the Tribulation, the Lord will (perhaps) have removed the fear and dread of man from the wild animals. I can’t point to a specific scripture that tells this explicitly, but implicitly I gather than the progression of man’s relationship with beasts changes from a contentious one as it is now, but with their fear removed. If a quarter of the world dies by the aforementioned plagues and one of them is beasts, it seems that there will be a lot of hunting going on- and not just man upon beast, but beast upon man.

Today, if a beast does become a “man-killer” it has to be killed. God said in Genesis 9:5 that from the man-killing beasts he will require capital punishment. In Exodus 21:28 we read that if an ox gores a man the animal is to be killed and its flesh not eaten. But if the animal is previously in the habit of goring and the owner is warned, and the animals kills a man or woman, then the animal AND the owner are to be killed. (Exodus 21:29)

Did you ever wonder why the animals that could do us the most harm don’t simply hunt us down and eat us, like, all the time? But they don’t. When I was in Big Bend National Park in SW Texas, hiking in the Chisos Mountains, Rangers told us if we come upon a mountain lion to stand tall, and throw stones at it. The lion would leave us alone. LOL, I’m glad we never had to test that, but the idea is that the lion would see you as a bigger threat and leave.

Even today if a wild animal kills a man, the Rangers, or zookeepers, or whoever, usually kills that animal. In most cases the Ranger is not responding explicitly to God’s instructions laid down in Exodus 21, but they instinctively are. If an animals kills a person, it means they have lost the fear and dread and is all the more dangerous to humans.

In the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend a few years ago, the Austin newspaper reported, there had been a mountain lion attack. The people chased it off by throwing a backpack at it. However, the report made this particular family who camped there the day after the attack hyper-aware. They decided to stay in the lodge instead of the tent, and when they went to the restaurant for dinner from the lodge room, they held their child’s hand, one parent on either side. They walked on the lit walkway between the two populated buildings. However, the lion attacked the boy anyway, dragging him away from his parents to a nearby bush. The parents then attacked the lion! The boy is chewed up some, but he is OK. Rangers said it was highly unusual for a mountain lion to attack on the pavement between populated buildings. If the animal was caught, they said, it would be killed.

War brings famine to animals, too. Their natural habitats are disrupted, and food gets hard to find. The stress often leaves them no choice but to start looking at humans as food, and attacks increase. That would seem to be a normal outcome of the other sore judgment: famine.

John MacArthur preached on the Revelation 6:7-8 verse here. He preached in part-

"...The most deadly creature on the face of the earth? Not a snake, not a lion, not an alligator. A rat. Historically the deadliest creature on the face of the earth. Why? Rats are annually responsible for the loss of billions of dollars of food in America alone and death all over the world. Rats infested with Bubonic Plague killed one third of the population of Europe in the fourteenth century, that's Encyclopedia Americana's own figure. Rats can carry as many as thirty-five diseases at once and amazingly if ninety-five percent of the rat population is exterminated in the given area, it will replace itself in less than a year. It has killed more people than all the wars of history and it always makes its home where men dwell."

Death by rats is certainly a likely possibility. More than likely, given the history cited above which bears this out.

You can imagine the rats bringing a killing disease after the catastrophic events of Revelation 6 that are prophesied to occur before the Fourth Seal is opened. So, death by beasts could be concerning the plagues that rats bring.

But I think it is more that that. Yes, each plague/seal/judgment is bad enough, but how bad will it be when all four are unleashed at once? Terrible! Fortunately in His mercy, He made a way for His beloved sheep to escape all these things. SALVATION in the Church Age, AKA Age of Grace. Judgments in the Tribulation will be delivered “to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity…” as Daniel hears in his vision in chapter 9, verse 24. He learns why the LORD will send the Tribulation judgments: to finish allowing sin to complete itself.

We are sinners, whose rightful place is hell after death, to be punished for our sin-crimes against God. If we ask the Lord to forgive those sins before our death, understanding Him as Lord and Savior, who came to earth to live the sinless life so He could be the perfect atonement, slain for our iniquities, and was accepted by God of that sacrifice and brought out of death to eternal life, then we will not be in the Tribulation when the whole earth will be judged for their sins. Our sins will have been pardoned, so He will sweep us up to heaven in our glorified bodies and allow us to be in His presence forever!!!

Do not put off your repentance. Intending to repent still means you are still as much an enemy of God as the fist-shaking atheist. Alternately, believe this:

How much better will it be when He calls His sheep home to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in perfect New Jerusalem by the living waters and the street of gold?!! Don’t you want to be there, your sins pardoned and forgotten? Putting off repenting means you choose the Four Sore Judgments. How? If you are not for Him, you are against Him. (Matthew 12:30). Personally, I have found a multitude of peace and blessings in living FOR Him. I hope you will think about it. But not for too long… OK?

Posted in famine, revelation

God’s Four Sore Judgments: #3- Famine

By Elizabeth Prata

God’s Four Sore Judgments:

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3: Famine
#4: Beasts

This week I introduced a series examining the LORD’S “Four Sore Judgments.” In other translations they are called the “LORD’S Four Severe Judgments.” They’re mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21: “For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!

The four are Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Beasts. Wesley's notes says, "How much more - If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once."

It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed. If you read Revelation 6, you will see that the four are unleashed all at once, or in very rapid succession. Jesus called it the worst time on earth there ever has been or ever will be. (Matthew 24:21)

Knowing that eternal judgment awaits the unconverted, and knowing how we were once under threat of eternal judgment in hell, we should look at God’s judgments on the earth and feel compassion and eagerness to witness to those in danger as we once were of being lost forever.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:11-13).

This bundle of four sore judgments are certainly not the only type of judgment God renders in wrath on an unbelieving person or society.

God judges and in so doing He has different judgments He dispenses. There is the Wrath of Abandonment. This is described in Romans 1:18-32 where, after persistent rejection of Him by individuals or a whole society, He leaves that person or nation to its sin. He did this with Pharaoh. He did this with Israel.

There is Cataclysmic Wrath. This is where God causes or allows natural disasters to happen, like tsunamis or earthquakes.

There is Consequential Wrath. Consequential wrath is the sowing and reaping wrath. If a person lives a certain kind of life he or she sets in motion certain forces that will produce judgment on them for that lifestyle or life choices.

There is Eternal Wrath. Even the Gentile knows about this, it’s hell, or more biblically, eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire for unforgiven sins.

And, there is Eschatological Wrath, the kind of wrath Jesus pours out in the Day of the Lord. This is Revelation 6-18.

Let’s look at the next of God’s four sore judgments, Famine.

Famine is increasingly a part of the world’s vocabulary. Famine takes a long time to set up. It is a problem with complex and varied origins, relating to poverty, agriculture, weather, wars, and more. Drought most often is the last symptom to appear before famine strikes hard and deep. War also is a catalyst for famine.

See Lamentations 5:9, which speaks of the sword and then the difficulty of getting bread:

“We get our bread at the risk of our lives because of the sword in the desert.’

Famine does not happen overnight. Drought starts it. Lack of water from above and below continues it. War exacerbates it. Unemployment pressures it.

Famine is a terrible judgment. Watching someone die of lack of sustenance is a woe that sears the heart unbelievably. It also brings out the worst in humanity, that is, cannibalism. (Deuteronomy 28:53; 2 Kings 6:28).

God deliberately brought about famine in Genesis 41, even forewarning Pharaoh. Why would God do that? Aside from the fact that He is sovereign and can and does do anything in His creation He desires? Because He wanted to exalt Himself through Joseph and demonstrate His mercy in saving a people. He does deliver the righteous from famine. (Job 5:20; Psalms 33:19; 37:19).

God uses famine (and the other three judgments of sword, plague and beasts) to judge the unrepentant. Here in Leviticus 26:19-29 we see Him threaten His people with the sore judgments if they did not turn. In that set of verses, He actually threatens to bring famine 7X worse according to their sins. The purpose was to break their pride of power. Nothing reduces a proud people more than failure of crops, hunger, death by starvation. We are not in control of the skies, the rain, the growth of our crops. God is. He uses famine to demonstrate that when He deems such judgment necessary.

What we Christian believers can do is trust the Lord all the more. He is our Savior and Lord, the Shepherd who guards His sheep. We might struggle with earthly needs but He will provide those and so much more will He provide spiritual needs: comfort, faith, strength, discernment, clarity.

For the unsuspecting world, such upheavals are very trying. Immediately as these first four sore judgment seals are opened, a quarter of the world will die. (Revelation 6:8). It will be the largest death toll in history.

Prophecy is part of scripture so we study it, but as with any scripture, it should be put into action. We are called to be Ambassadors for His name–

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

So our action is first to be sure we are in the faith, reconciled to Him. Then, be ambassadors, so He will make His appeal to the lost through us. Be strong and hardy, never quailing in public, instead, relying on His strength to be calm and loving, even when sin is rising so palpably. That means sin is rising in your co-workers, families, neighbors, too. Not just “out there.” Don’t fall into the trap of becoming angry. We are Ambassadors, remember.

Prophecy should give us a reminder of the times and an urgency to seek Jesus all the more so His light will be evident in us to others. And, be salt. The salt must be in the food. We have to stay in the world but not be OF the world. Don’t retreat, as much as we might want to. We are Christ’s seasoning in this lost world. Let’s flavor it with love and patience.

Next in the series examining the four sore judgments is “Beasts.”

I wrote more about famine itself, what it does to the body, and how quickly starvation sets in, and how scarcity flows into its heightening, below:

Looking at Famine

Tomorrow, Judgment by Beasts.

Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash
Posted in end of days. prophecy, end time, famine, forgiveness, love, revelation

Looking at famine

By Elizabeth Prata

I wrote about famine as a judgment from God recently. It is truly saddening to see these things happening because although I glory in His promises coming true it also means suffering and death for many. And death for the unsaved means an eternity away from God, in hell. In that essay I quoted a news article that said, “The striking images of the landscape seem to represent a deceptively simple assessment of the drought: the dirty work of Mother Nature.”

It is the LORD who sends the rain in preparation for the crops. (Psalms 147:8). It is the LORD who sends it to the obedient. (Leviticus 26:4). He appoints seasons in His own authority. (Acts 1:7). “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17) He sends the crops, the seasons and the weather for our benefit, to His glory. He can, and will reverse the process when we fail to thank Him and refuse to acknowledge His authority. That is the spiritual fact.

On a practical level, famine is both biological and social. It occurs to a person individually while it is also happening to all others around the sufferer. And unlike pestilence, where sick people are quarantined, privately sequestered, or are too insentient to socially connect, famine leaves the individual able to share in it with others.

When starvation becomes a mass experience, the phenomenon is no longer purely biological.” (Robert Dirks, Academia.edu).

Famine is sneaky because the population has no clue that this crop failure will lead to a continual shortage, or that this lack of monsoon rains will lead to a permanent drying-out. It is only after successive storms or failures or absence of expected weather that it become apparent that food will not be coming. By then malnourishment or early stages of starvation may have already set in.

The biological consequences of famine begin with scarcity, move to malnourishment, elevate to starvation, and finish with famine. Starvation happens when the energy demands of the biological unit exceed supply. Technically, starvation begins 4-6 hours after the last meal, when the body has broken down all that will be or is able to be used, and no new food is forthcoming. However since a person living in a healthy culture will then consume more within a reasonable time period after the last meal, the negative effects are not really felt.

After a day or so, though, dehydration, hypoglycemia, and ketosis begin. After 24 hours, there are impacts to the tissues as loss outpaces fat. As starvation continues, exhaustion sets in and there is decreased tolerance for work. People move more slowly and adopt an energy saving posture. “In mobilizing its reserves, the body progressively selects fat over muscle as fuel, allowing life to be sustained for one to three months in acute starvation.” (Dirks).

Things go rapidly downhill from there, with all sorts of nasty things happen to the individual’s biology. And that’s just starvation, not famine. But you can see, it happens quickly. Though drought and famine take a long time to set up, when it hits, the body, mind, and soul shrivel pretty quickly.

I wrote above that in the first few sentences mother nature was blamed, and in addition, war also precipitates famine. War does have a devastating connection with famine. In Revelation 6, first there is war, then there is scarcity, then there is death. Those are Seal Judgments two, three, and four. In history, famine has almost always followed war. As the Red Cross says in discussing humanitarian aid, “the fact must be faced that food aid alone will never eliminate famines nor the suffering they cause. It still falls short of meeting the victims’ needs and appears essentially inadequate to solve their problems.” That’s because there are complex reasons for it that also include war, conflict, and strife.

Famine is destructive to those societies where malnourishment is always present, and soon after initial starvation sets in, financial ruin and disease take over. For some societies, they may at first adapt to conditions that in many cases don’t affect them. There is such a thing as “class famine.” We see in Revelation 6:6 that millions starve, unable to afford more than a loaf of bread even though they worked all day, while in Revelation 18:13 we see that all the while, a hefty trade in food luxuries had been ongoing. (“and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep…”) There are the very rich and the very poor, and you can bet the very rich will not be affected by famine. The Tribulation’s predicted scarcities will be characterized by class famine.

When famine conditions deepen, the ‘Law of Diversification and Polarization’ comes into play. As Dirks quoted Sorokin, “simply put, this means that catastrophe brings out the best and the worst in people. It exaggerates what is already there.”

Sociological studies show that at first, people share when disaster strikes. As the disaster continues, and/or as supplies run short, sharing ceases. Starvation’s biological effects are that people become exhausted and irritable. Volatile situations erupt. Populations tend to migrate, looking for better conditions. The 1901 Indian Famine Commission called it “unusual wandering.” When adding to that the prophecy that love grows cold (Matthew 24:12), people are unthankful, (2 Timothy 3:2-4) and their thoughts are only evil continuously, (Matthew 24:37, Genesis 6:5) then you can see that violence will soon become the norm just at the time when people are physiologically least able to handle it.

So let me sum up the ivory tower talk: famines have always occurred and will continue to occur, followed by the worst brought out in people who are marauding hither and yon, looking for anything they can steal so they can stay alive. Violence breaks out and a true Darwinian human ‘survival of the fittest’ is played out in front of atheists everywhere, with the starving exhausted falling where they lay in irritable convulsions, dying by degrees while no neighbor cares.

Oh, but Jesus cares. His famines may be one of His sore judgments, yes, but it is to alert rebellious people that He is still in control and He is still holy. His control includes an eternal and infinite love for all His children. He wants you to turn from your carnal thoughts and lifting up of Mother Nature and replace those with perfect thoughts and spiritual infinity in His love. As long as you have not rejected him and slammed the door shut, you can enter the door to heaven by repenting of sins. He is the door and he stands ready to allow all who would believe to enter. (John 10:9)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7) What is beyond that door? Certainly not war or famine or exhaustion or violence. See what is there:

The Gospel is exclusive: Jesus is the only way. The Gospel is inclusive: any person can accept Jesus as their savior and forgiver of sins. I hope you enter in to His rest, escaping all the Tribulation things and choosing to partake of the Eternal things. What it takes is a prayer to Jesus that you know and understand you’re a sinner, unworthy to enter His realm, and ask Him to forgive those sins. Since He is sinless and died as the sacrifice for your sins, your debt is paid. But you have to ask. Do it soon, my beloved friend. Soon.

Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash
Posted in theology

Little Chastenings

By Elizabeth Prata

I had been going through some things I had deemed little. People around me are going through great trials, loss of parent, illness of child, uncertainty about immediate future put at risk … whereas the things that have tried me lately have been such things as car breakdown leaving me by the side of the road which happens often, spending hours and days with customer service in getting my upgraded phone, my rapid hair loss and concern it was a terrible disease. I often think, ‘well those aren’t really BIG issues, I must be a terrible person for caving in to them’. I sought the Lord through them when they occurred but I deemed these daily life aggravations, not trials and not chastenings. Was I missing out? I wondered if or when the Lord would chastise me as Hebrews 12:11 says. or if I was even growing. But today’s devotional helped me. It may encourage you as well:

Continue reading “Little Chastenings”
Posted in judgment, pestilence, tribulation

God’s Four Sore Judgments #2- Plague

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

Saturday I posted the first of the four sore judgments of God, Sword, or War. The introduction and overview of this short series is here. Why is it important to look at God as Judge in wrath?

God’s judgment helps us know who God is. God is love, yes, but God is also thrice holy and hates sin. He is angry with sinners every day and will eventually in his timing pour out judgment upon this sinning world. He has already done so, once. The Flood.

In addition to helping us know God better, I believe that looking into judgment and eternal punishment does three things:

–keeps us humble as we remember our position as the creature before a holy God,
–thus engenders a deep gratitude for our salvation,
–and sparks a fervor to witness to others who are in the same danger we were once ignorantly in.

This is a study of the next of the LORD’S ‘Four Sore Judgments’, plague.

The LORD has “Four Sore Judgments” to which He sends at times upon the earth. In other translations they are called the “LORD’S Four Severe Judgments.” They’re mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21

For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!

The four are Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Beasts. Wesley’s notes says, “How much more – If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once.”

The Lord mentions three judgments together quite frequently, sword, famine, and pestilence. The judgment of beasts isn’t mentioned as much but usually when it is it’s with the other three, thus comprising the Lord’s Four Sore Judgments quartet.

If they fast, I will not hear their cry of despair. If they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. Rather, I will finish them off by sword, famine, and plague. (Jeremiah 14:12).

See how the siege ramps are mounted against the city to capture it. And by sword, famine, and plague, the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. (Jeremiah 32:24).

But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine, and plague, so that they can tell of all their abominations among the nations to which they go. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 12:16).

Three of His judgments are usually enough to perform His will upon the people, as seen here in Ezekiel 6:12,

The one who is far off will die by plague; the one who is near will fall by the sword; and the one who remains and is spared will die of famine. In this way I will exhaust my wrath on them.

Revelation 6:8 mentions the beasts as the added 4th:

And I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following after him. They were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.

Plague and pestilence are interchangeable terms. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 1280–1281), we read:

PESTILENCE Devastating epidemic that OT writers understood to be sent by God (Exod. 9:15; Jer. 15:2; Hab. 3:5; Amos 4:10), sometimes by means of a destroying angel (2 Sam. 24:16; 1 Chron. 21:15). God sent pestilence as punishment for persistent unbelief (Num. 14:12) and failure to fulfill covenant obligations (Deut. 28:21) as well as to encourage repentance (Amos 4:10). God withheld pestilence from Egypt to allow for survivors to witness to His acts of liberation (Exod. 9:16). Earnest prayer averted pestilence (1 Kings 8:37); fasting and sacrifice without repentance did not (Jer. 14:12). Pestilence is often associated with war and siege conditions (Exod. 5:3; Lev. 26:25; Amos 4:10; Luke 21:11).

And this list of verses:

Plague or Pestilence, The
Inflicted by God. Eze. 14:19. Hab. 3:5.
One of God’s four sore judgments. Eze. 14:21.
Described as noisome. Psa. 91:3.
Israel threatened with, as a punishment for disobedience. Lev. 26:24, 25. Deu. 28:21.
Desolating effects of. Psa. 91:7. Jer. 16:6, 7. Amos 6:9, 10.
Equally fatal day and night. Psa. 91:5, 6.
Fatal to man and beast. Psa. 78:50. (marg.) Jer. 21:6.

SENT UPON
The Egyptians. Exo. 12:29–30.
Israel for making golden calf. Exo. 32:35.
Israel for despising manna. Num. 11:33.
Israel for murmuring at destruction of Korah. Num. 16:46–50.
Israel for worshipping Baal-peor. Num. 25:18.
David’s subjects for his numbering the people. 2 Sam. 24:15.
Often broke out suddenly. Psa. 106:29.
Often followed war and famine. Jer. 27:13. Jer. 28:8. Jer. 29:17, 18.
Egypt often afflicted with. Jer. 42:17, with Amos 4:10.
Specially fatal in cities. Lev. 26:25. Jer. 21:6, 9.
Was attributed to a destroying angel. Exo. 12:23, with 2 Sam. 24:16.
The Jews sought deliverance from, by prayer. 1 Kin. 8:37, 38. 2 Chr. 20:9.
Predicted to happen before destruction of Jerusalem. Mat. 24:7. Luke 21:11.

  ILLUSTRATIVE OF
God’s judgments upon the apostasy. Rev. 18:4, 8.
The diseased state of man’s heart. 1 Kin. 8:38.

Source: Torrey, R. A. (1897). The New Topical Text Book: A Scripture Text Book for the Use of Ministers, Teachers, and All Christian Workers

It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed. If you read Revelation 6, you will see that the four are unleashed all at once, or in very rapid succession. Jesus called it the worst time on earth there ever has been or ever will be. (Matthew 24:21). A quarter of the world will die when the seal is unsealed and these four sore judgments are commissioned to go all at once:

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8).

Sword is war, and war brings famine. Wars and revolutions interrupt supply lines, empty grocery stores, and ruin agricultural land. War makes food scarce, which depletes the body and opens it to more diseases due to compromised immune systems. War brings famine in that way.

The third sore judgment of the four that the LORD had linked in Ezekiel 14 is Pestilence. Pestilence has been present on earth for centuries and is is forecast for the people who dwell on the earth during the Tribulation in the future. (Revelation 6:8, Luke 8:11). According to the Greek word used in Luke 21, loimos, pestilence is a plague or a disease. Diseases are usually considered plagues when they are widespread and contain a high mortality rate. The American Heritage Medical Dictionary defines pestilence as “A highly infectious, usually fatal, epidemic disease; a pestilence.”

We see in this article of the outbreak of Influenza as WWI was concluding:

From 1917 to 1920, the virus infected one-third of the Earth’s population, which at the time was about 500 million people. If the same ratio of infections were to happen today, it would be the equivalent of 2.5 billion. That would roughly be the equivalent today of every man, woman, and child in Africa, Europe, and North America becoming infected.

The LORD promises to abolish one of the four judgments from the land someday,

And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. (Hosea 2:18)

What a day that will be!

He is the Light. He is shining in heaven, and in the faces of each of His sheep. Soon, His light will be seen not by faith but by sight. Praise Him for His love and His wrath, for He is HOLY.

holy holy holy is the Lord verse

Introduction to God’s Four Sore Judgments

God’s Four Sore Judgments #1: Sword

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

Kay Cude poetry: Walking in the Light

Kay Cude is a Texas poet. Used with permission. Artist’s statement below. Click to enlarge.

For too many years I had little concept of what “walking in the Light of Christ” actually meant, even less what it involved! And for those countless years, even though I attended Sunday school and church, I somehow missed the “truth” about that walk! It was made real to me when I finally realized that my flesh was in control of “my” journey. “My way” had led me into years of Biblical ignorance and error and opened the door to deception. What a shock it was when I realized where I was spiritually…

We must each reach that defining point in our lives when we really desire to understand, believe and act upon these TRUTHS:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)

…”If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;” (John 8:31)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

“THY WORD IS A LAMP UNTO MY FEET, AND A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH.” (Psalm 119:105)

CHRIST PRECEDES OUR WALK
CHRIST PRECEDES OUR WALK

Posted in theology

God’s Four Sore Judgments: #1: Sword

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

Yesterday I introduced a series examining the LORD’S “Four Sore Judgments.” In other translations they are called the “LORD’S Four Severe Judgments.” They’re mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21. The four are Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Beasts. In that intro I explained my reasons for why I think it’s important to examine these things, and not focus only on the ‘good’ aspects of God, like His love.

Clarke’s commentary explains, “My four sore judgments – Sword, war. Famine, occasioned by drought. Pestilence, epidemic diseases which sweep off a great part of the inhabitants of a land. The Noisome Beast, the multiplication of wild beasts in consequence of the general destruction of the inhabitants.” Wesley’s notes says, “How much more – If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once.”

It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed.

The LORD has unleashed one at a time at frequent intervals throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament (For example, plague in Jeremiah 21:6) and famine in the New (Acts 11:28). Infrequently, the LORD has unleashed all four at once. One example was bringing Ezekiel’s prophecy of chapter 14 to fruition in around 586BC at Jerusalem’s fall. The next time will be during the Tribulation. (Revelation 6).

The Tribulation will be a time when all four are unleashed full strength. I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and the one who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, and famine, and plague, and by the wild animals of the earth. (Revelation 6:8).

Let’s look at the first of the four severe judgments: Sword.

Continue reading “God’s Four Sore Judgments: #1: Sword”
Posted in theology

God’s Four Sore Judgments: Introduction

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

I have not written much about prophecy lately and that is a subject in which I like to study. Judgment is not a popular blog topic but it’s an important one. All of unconverted humanity hangs like a spider on a thin thread over the fearsome judgment in eternity. And such were some of us, as we were once objects of God’s wrath for our sins.

Continue reading “God’s Four Sore Judgments: Introduction”
Posted in theology

The Christian and Video Gaming

By Elizabeth Prata

Pong. Remember Pong? I do. According to PongGame.org, “The game was originally developed by Allan Alcorn and released in 1972 by Atari corporations. Soon, Pong became a huge success, and became the first commercially successful game…

Wikimedia commons

As soon as Pong came out, we got it. My father always got the newest, biggest, or best thing that came out. We thought Pong was amazing and that it ushered in a new space tech era.

And it sort of did.

Next came Space Invaders. “Space Invaders (1978) is considered one of the most influential video games of all time. It helped expand the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry, and ushered in the golden age of arcade video games”, says Wikipedia. I came across it in the student lounge at college. Go Black Bears! It cost a quarter to play. I sunk quarter after quarter in, listening for the boop-boop of the marching invaders, blasting them down one at a time. It was fun for a while, then thankfully the attraction wore off. I didn’t like spending hours in the dark “Bear’s Den” sticky with beer and lost hours guilty because of no productivity. Also, the lounge was loud. Eventually I went on to other things. Like books, lol.

Continue reading “The Christian and Video Gaming”