Posted in egypt, end of days. prophecy, end time, pre-tribulation rapture

America’s sad decline, Eschatology on the rise

By Elizabeth Prata

heaven
America’s trajectory seems to be heading downward. It took a long time, but our moral and spiritual decline is speeding up like a snowball down the Alps.

I’m not down on America. I think our nation is magnificent. But our atheism, child murder, immorality, and worship of pagan gods has chipped away at our core until now, there is barely anything left to stand us up on that hill. We are rolling down it. I believe it is so.

God raised us up and for a long time our influence was so strong in the world. We had the moral clout to speak because we believed in God. He gave us the strength to put moral actions to those words. No? Don’t think so? I have one word for you: D-Day. A generation of brave men got off a boat and waded to shore amid artillery fire to save Europe and the Jews from annihilation. Nowadays men would just Tweet about it, then go have a latte.

We stopped believing in God and we no longer have the moral clout to speak. Our influence must be removed. And note: we do not find our nation mentioned in the Bible in the end times at all. And why should we be? We were great, but only for a short time, and then we squandered it.

Bible prophecy seems to be dormant for years then suddenly a rapid progression occurs that is visible to most believers. Like earthquake activity, following years of inactivity, everything suddenly moves all at once.

I believe that anyone who reads the Bible on a constant basis notices the pattern. These days, I see a renewed interest in eschatology among believers, both in real life and in the stats of this blog whenever I write about it lately.

I’ll write more about eschatology in days to come. I am always glad when people delve into this aspect of the Bible, it IS almost a third of the entire Bible after all! It’s one of the pillars of study in Systematic Theology, too. In recent times stemming back decades, there have been date setters, newspaper eisegetes, and fringe folk who bring a bad name to this particular sphere of study. I do my best to bring biblical credibility back to it. Why? Prophecy gives us hope for the future, helps us see Christ as He is NOW, not only the beaten & crushed man on a cross but the Commander of Armies ordaining all activity in the universe from his throne in heaven, and instills a fervency of life for sharing the Gospel and pursuing holiness.

Maybe today will be the day we see Jesus, if not, then let’s study Eschatology!

Posted in end time, prophecy

The Goodness of the Lord

By Elizabeth Prata

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)

There’s nothing like the Psalms for comfort. I first met the Lord as Light, and I gravitate to all the metaphors of Him as Light. Though to be sure, He IS the Light, and not just metaphorically on this side of earth. He will someday literally provide the only illumination:

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:23)

In Psalm 27, David’s unwavering confidence in the LORD in times of trouble or fear is a good example to us today. We awaken in the morning to more and more bad news

Jesus told us that the run-up to the Tribulation would be fraught with wars and rumors of wars, and nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom. (Matthew 24:6-7). Men’s love will be waxing cold, and disobedience and futile thinking will run rampant in the end time. We are in the end time. We have been since Jesus ascended. The time between his departure and His second coming, though, will progressively worsen, and it sure feels like we lurched forward a notch in 2020. Continue reading “The Goodness of the Lord”

Posted in a new creation in christ, end time, prophecy

The surety of Christ

By Elizabeth Prata

I vacationed frequently at the beach in Venice, Florida. The Gulf coast is so peaceful the water so blue, I found it incredibly relaxing. One day, I watched a couple of kids make a huge sand castle. They spent most of the day on it. It was not architecturally sophisticated. They simply dragged up pail after pail of sand, made it about as tall as themselves, and spent a while looking for the perfect stones and shells to adorn it.  A stick on top and a scrap of seaweed made the flag. And what castle is complete without a moat? The kids wanted to be sure no enemy could raid their fortress, so they made three moats.

Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. (Matthew 7:26).

90baa-venicebeach
Gulf Coast, Florida. EPrata photo

Continue reading “The surety of Christ”

Posted in creator of the universe, end time, God, hubble, prophecy

Ode to Hubble?

By Elizabeth Prata

With the Hubble Telescope’s 30-year anniversary back in the news I thought I’d reshare my thoughts from April 2010 on the same subject

First, new thoughts on Saturn. Thanks to Hubble, scientists are still perplexed that some of their theories of how the universe was created don’t flesh out when confronted with the physical reality of it- CNN Continue reading “Ode to Hubble?”

Posted in end time, high priest, melchizedek, prophecy

Jesus as High Priest

By Elizabeth Prata
This first appeared on The End Time in December 2010

There are many aspects to the Lord’s personality, aspects we have been given through His grace to explore for all eternity. We will never learn all there is to learn about Him, because He is infinite, but the glory will be in the journey, drawing ever closer to Him.

The Christmas season rightly focuses attention to Him as savior, the babe born of a virgin and who lived a sinless life, died as the sacrifice to satisfy God’s Holy righteousness and fulfill the sin-debt that must be paid. We usually focus on Him as Savior, friend, father, and occasionally as judge. But there is another aspect to Him that I would like to explore today: Priest.

David refers to the coming Messiah as a priest on the order of Melchizedek. “The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind. You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)

Who was Melchizedek and why is his Order considered higher than Aaron’s, the first High Priest of the Levites? We read of Melchizedek when he meets with Abraham in Genesis. He is an actual King and an actual Priest, living and walking on the earth in Abraham’s day.

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.He gave him a tenth of all.” (Gen 14:18-20).

The city of Salem was later known as Jerusalem.

In Hebrews 7:3 we read again of Melchizedek, and notice that there is an omission. Usually, especially in the Old Testament, people are introduced to the reader by their genealogy. “So-and-so who was the son of so-and-so and father of…” But it is specifically noted that Melchizedek has no genealogy, so we wonder how anyone who claims Melchizedek is actually Shem, for example, and some Talmudic scholars do, learned of Melchizedek’s lineage. No one knows his genealogy, as is stated in the Hebrews verse below.

In any case, the personage of Melchizedek is certainly righteous. Anyway, the story of the meeting with Abraham is repeated in Hebrews, and introduced this way:

Melchizedek’s Priesthood Like Christ’s
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” (Heb 7:1-3).

Melchizedek is referred to again in Hebrews 5:6-10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-21: “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”; and Hebrews 8:1. From his initial introduction at the meeting with Abraham it was another thousand years until David mentioned him and another thousand again until the writer of Hebrews mentioned him, and then Melchizedek disappears from the biblical record. But the notion of Jesus as Priest does not.

High Priests of the Temple died and their office was given to the son. But Jesus is perpetual and His office of High Priest will never die. High Priests in the temple managed the sacrifices, which were daily. Thousands upon thousands of lambs and other animals were killed, blood ran by the buckets all day every day, but Jesus is the once for all sacrifice. He IS our High Priest, forever.

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;” (Hebrews 3:1-3)

So what does a High Priest do? They were compassionate about sins, being human themselves. They participated in the sacrificial system, managing others’ sacrifices. Yet being human, they also had to sacrifice on behalf of their own sins. They represented humans before God.

In Revelation 1:6 we read that we are made to be Kings and Priests. “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father–to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 

Again, in Rev. 5:9b-10 we read that

Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Peter reveals that we as believers are part of a royal priesthood:

you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Pet 2:5,9).

Matthew Henry writes:

“All true believers are a holy priesthood; sacred to God, serviceable to others, endowed with heavenly gifts and graces. But the most spiritual sacrifices of the best in prayer and praise are not acceptable, except through Jesus Christ. Christ is the chief Corner-stone, that unites the whole number of believers into one everlasting temple, and bears the weight of the whole fabric. Elected, or chosen, for a foundation that is everlasting.”

What Grace! What Mercy! He as the Chief Cornerstone as High Priest, elects His priests and unites us in a priesthood to serve Him! We are called privileged and we are. Our duties today and forever are to offer up spiritual sacrifices to Him the Most High. Is this a good gift in your eyes? Better than an X-box or a bike or a diamond bracelet? It is a tremendous gift to be called to a royal priesthood serving the High Priest in heaven. It is a high calling. Are you living a holy life worthy of Him and making spiritual sacrifices so His name is magnified? I am rejoicing! I am singing His praises!

As you ponder the mysteries of His very Being this Christmas season, ponder Him as high Priest representing us before God. What a blessed Gift to be able to serve for Him and with him!

Posted in end time, theology

Daniel’s 70 weeks and Tribulation explanations

I can’t wait to see what you all look like when you are glorified! I can’t wait to see the glassy sea, the angels who have helped me, the face of Jesus! I can’t wait to be free from pain and shed of my sin nature. I can’t wait to be in eternity! However, I will await His timing. We all must await the number of our days to be up and His determination of when we enter glory. More on that below.

The Tribulation is prophesied to be a period where many things will happen. One of them is that the earth and heavens themselves will be wildly disrupted. Landforms disappear. Weather patterns evaporate. Orbits cease. And more.

The outline of what Jesus will be doing at that time is presented to us in Daniel 9:24. The Lord will do 6 things:

“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city,
1. To finish the transgression,
2. To make an end of sins,
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity,
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness,
5. To seal up vision and prophecy,
6. And to anoint the Most Holy.”

Notice several things. First, it is a period where though the times will seem chaotic, it will actually be orderly. It is all in control of God. The three series of 7-judgments apiece (Seals, Trumpets, Bowls; perhaps four sets if the Seven Thunders of Revelation 10:3-4 are actually judgments) will be delivered in orderly fashion. The judgments unleash chaos, but their deliverance is orderly and controlled.

The Tribulation is the time for it all to come to the conclusion that God exists, He is angry with sinners, and to repent. So it will be a time of demonstrable wrath and the conclusion of the 6 things. In further orderliness, He stopped His prophetic timetable clock at 483 years. In Daniel 9:24a the angel declared to Daniel it would be 7X70 or 7 bundles of 7’s (a shavuim). But nowhere was it promised to be 490 consecutive years! But they should have known that, because the interruption was stated. In Daniel 9:25-26, a mere verse later, the angel told Daniel that after seven sevens and 62 sevens, Messiah will be cut off (vernacular for died) and the people of the prince who is to come (antichrist) shall destroy the city.

Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem was 483 years to the day and then the clock stopped. Since then, Jesus has been taking 2000 years to build His church. When the church reaches His quota of people inhabiting it, (Romans 11:25) He will snatch us away from this earth, and He will finish that last 7 years of the prophesied 70 weeks and accomplish the rest of the 6 things.

The angel also explained to Daniel that it is a time when God directs His attention to “your people” and “your holy city” (Jerusalem). That does not mean He isn’t paying attention to non-believers or non-Jews during the Tribulation, or that nothing will happen to them during the Tribulation. Not at all. Jeremiah 30:7 calls it the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, though, and its point is for the LORD to finish His promises to His people. #1 is to finish the transgression, and #2 says He will make an end to sins. This making an end to sins is an even that will affect everyone on the planet. God always sees the world through the lens of His people the Jews and through the central location of the Holy City. But all the world will be affected.

In addition, note the progression of the 6 things on the list. At the beginning, He allows the transgression to have its full expression. By the end, the Most Holy is anointed. The Most Holy is Jesus. Ahhh, what a day that will be! The Tribulation is the cap-stone to the final age of man where He allows the total outcome of rejection of the Holy Spirit to take its full course. Like in Noah’s day, where all of man’s thoughts were only evil continually, (Gen 6:5) so it shall be again at the end of days (Matthew 24:37). But in the Tribulation, man will actually act out all his evil in his heart, it won’t remain there. He who holds back lawlessness will be taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7) ,another way of saying He will release His restraining hold against sin.)

Can you even imagine how drastic that time period will be? Just as we can’t imagine in our finite mind the full scale of His glory in heaven, we cannot imagine that bottomless, putrid pit in which sin flows forth. /shudder/. Better to not think of it.

The Daniel 9:26 verse also promises that the end will come like a flood. This does not mean that there will be a flood of actual waters as in the first global judgment. He promised Noah that he would never drown the world again. (Gen 9:13). However, as part of the cataclysmic geo-physical upheavals during the Tribulation there will be floods and tides and hurricanes and tsunamis. However, the verse uses figurative language.The Hebrew word in Dan 9:26 is “sheteph; from shataph; a deluge (literally or figuratively) — flood, outrageous, overflowing.” He means that SIN will have its outrageous overflowing.

This flood language mirrors the language in Revelation 12:15. Midway through the Tribulation, the antichrist tears up the peace treaty he had confirmed with the Jews at the beginning of the Tribulation. He then persecutes them with all unholiness and evil. He goes after the Jews with an evil vengeance that makes the WWII Holocaust look like a picnic. Rev 12:15 says- “And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.” Satan pours out his evil and sin flows over the world like a flood.

Floods have waters that rise, and rise and rise, eventually washing away all that is in its path. Even tsunamis which travel at jet speeds have waters that flow and rise accordingly. The end began when Jesus ascended, but it has been 2000 years and we can see that the flood waters of sin are not lapping at our toes…are not sweeping against our waists…but the flood waters of sin seem like they are actually crashing over our heads by this point in time. It is like the famous photo of the lighthouse and its keeper

la-jument-7[6]

But we are not destined for wrath! (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Though sin tries to engulf us, it will not prevail against His church! (Matthew 16:18). Notice where the keeper is: INSIDE the Lighthouse. Would you want to be anywhere else when the wages of sin try to engulf you? No. You would not survive that wave. You would not survive the hidden reefs under the wave. (Jude 1:12). Being in the Lighthouse is the only safe place to be, in ages past and in this present age. Blessedly, Jesus removes His bride from the earth before the Tribulation begins. We are not condemned, nor will we be punished for sins that He forgave us for. It will be the unbelieving world who will suffer the consequences of their rejection of the Savior.

Jude says, the unbelievers and apostates are “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:12).

Peter says, “These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” (2 Peter 2:17).

Isaiah says, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.” (Isaiah 57:20).

What of us, individually? His word says that Hades will not prevail against His church. Some days, though, sin prevails against me. What about you? Each of us struggles against sin every day. Some days it truly feels like it will engulf me. Here is the remedy: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

We are Light keepers, and our job is never more important than during the storm! We are in Christ as THE Light, but we keep His word hidden in our hearts. We are ambassadors of His glory and His truths. We keep His commands. We keep His flame alive on earth by staying in Him and close to Him. It is important to be brighter during the storm and so let us be bright, by being full of peace and joy in these stormy times. Let the waves crash! We have the eternal Strength of the Light. Let others see, and hear the Good News, and come to Him.

Posted in earthquake, end time, japan

Powerful series of quakes in Japan cause landslide, kills 11

Earthquakes: a token sign of God’s displeasure over sin. See below, John Newton’s Messiah.

Update at bottom: “Swaying every hour

A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in Japan today, causing a landslide and 11 deaths. The large temblor was followed by a series of 5.7 and 5.4 magnitude quakes and other aftershocks as well.

It has been a busy week for quakes these last two weeks. After a period of several months of relative quiet, there have been 13 quakes in the 6.0-6.9 range.

A more powerful earthquake has rocked the southern Japanese city of Kumamoto in the middle of the night, a day after an earlier tremor killed nine people. The magnitude-7.3 quake hit at a depth of 10km (six miles) at 01:25 on Saturday (15:25 GMT on Friday) in Kyushu region. At least three people died and hundreds were injured. A village has been evacuated after a dam collapsed, media reports say. (Source)

Rescue crews scrambled through rubble Saturday morning in a desperate search for survivors of a magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck Japan’s Kyushu Island, the same region rattled by a 6.2 quake two days earlier. (CNN)

Small eruption on Japan’s Mount Aso after earthquake

A small eruption occurred at Mt. Aso in southern Japan on Saturday around 8:30 a.m. local time (2330 GMT Friday) following a strong earthquake in the area, with smoke rising about 100 meters (300 feet) high, public broadcaster NHK reported. The Japanese Meteorological Agency kept its alert level at 2 on a scale of 5 for Mt. Aso, which has had eruptions in the past.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Michael Perry)

Update: Japan earthquakes: Dozens killed, region ‘swaying every hour’

One can but hope and pray for the soon return of Jesus Christ. Since the fall of man into depravity and sin entered the world, life has been a terrible cycle of disasters, diseases, and death

Messiah, Vol 2, by John Newton (author of Amazing Grace hymn)

Can there be a stronger confirmation of what we read in Scripture, concerning the depravity of man? Can we conceive an employment more suited to gratify the malignity of Satan and the powers of darkness, if they were permitted to appear and act amongst us in human shapes? Could such enormities possibly obtain, if the mild and merciful spirit of the Gospel generally prevailed? But it shall prevail at last, and then the nations shall learn war no more (Isaiah 2:4). 

How transporting the thought! That a time shall yet arrive, when the love of God and man, of truth and righteousness, shall obtain [shall prevail] through the earth. The evils (and these are the greatest evils of human life) which men bring upon themselves, and upon each other, by their wickedness, shall cease; and we may believe that the evils in the natural world will be greatly abated. Sin will no longer call down the tokens of God’s displeasure, by such public calamities as hurricanes, earthquakes, pestilence, and famine.

Posted in end time, glorified, john calvin, prophecy, rapture, redeem

"That Arousing Shout", the coming rapture of the church

The next event on God’s scheduled plan will be the rapture. After that the wrath will be released in the Tribulation, Armageddon will occur at the end of it upon Jesus’ return, the Millennial Kingdom will be established, satan will be bound during that time, then after 1000 years satan will be let out and there will be one more rebellion and then the eternal state will begin with New Jerusalem descending to a new hearth through a new heaven. But next up, the rapture.

It is a glorious event in which all saints should be anticipating eagerly. It doesn’t matter that the fact of the rapture was revealed by Paul via Jesus and the Spirit in his letter to the Thessalonians and not by Jesus in His incarnation. It doesn’t matter that the rapture has been imminent for almost 2000 years and has not occurred yet. All that matters is that it is promised to every believer that at one point we will be called home, sail through the air, glorified bodily and be with Jesus forever.

Here are some verses for you about the coming glorification of the saints via the rapture. I pray they encourage you.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

by way of exposition, intimating what is to be the nature of that arousing shout — that the archangel will discharge the office of a herald to summon the living and the dead to the tribunal of Christ. ~John Calvin


Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

The New Testament is consistent in its anticipation that the return of Christ might occur at any moment. That pervading perspective of imminence prompts three questions. The first question pertains to whether the Tribulation will precede Christ’s coming for the church. The answer to that question is that it will not because the church is never asked to look forward to the tribulation, but they are asked to look forward to Christ’s coming. The second question revolves around how the return of Christ could have been imminent in the early church. The answer here is that no one but the Father knows when the coming will occur, so that Christians including the early church must always be ready. The third question asks why Christ’s imminent return is so important. This answer relates to the motivation it supplies for believers to purify their lives and thereby progress toward the goal of sanctification and Christlikeness. The threefold call of the imminence doctrine is to wake up and obey right now, to throw off the works of darkness, and to put on the garments of holy living. ~John MacArthur


But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)

Why is it necessary that we should have a body? Well, in our last meeting, I made reference to one of the texts that Paul uses in Romans chapter 8, which at least gives us an understanding of why, in biblical doctrine, it’s important that we have the resurrection of the body. And we’ve made the point over and over again that when we talk about resurrection, we’re not talking about living again spiritually. We’re talking about the resurrection of the body. Many theologians have said this, but it bears saying again. If we do not speak of the resurrection of the body, we should not speak of the resurrection at all. It is the resurrection of the body — now, not the present body in the sense that it will be characterized by corruptibility and all of the weaknesses of our aging body. We’re talking about the resurrection body, the spiritual body. A true continuity with this body but, nevertheless, different. The resurrection of the body that is a spiritual body connected with this body is the teaching of the word of God.

So one of the great hopes of the Christian is not simply that he’s to enter heaven, but he’s to enter heaven with a redeemed body, his body resurrected, a beautiful, glorious body, Scriptures tell us, “Like our Lord’s own glorious body.” So that’s our hope. That’s why there is such a thing as the resurrection of the body, and that’s why it’s important for us to understand that. ~S. Lewis Johnson


Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.(1 Thessalonians 4:17)

I shall view our text, in order to our comfort at this time, in three lights. I look upon it, first, as a continuance—we are with the Lord even now and we always shall be. Secondly, as an advancement we shall, before long, be more fully with the Lord than we are now. And thirdly, as a coherence—for we both are and shall be with Him in a close and remarkable manner. ~Charles Spurgeon

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:3)

Here are three words, upon any of which stress may be laid. Upon the word troubled. Be not cast down and disquieted. The word heart. Let your heart be kept with full trust in God. The word your. However others are overwhelmed with the sorrows of this present time, be not you so. Christ’s disciples, more than others, should keep their minds quiet, when everything else is unquiet. Here is the remedy against this trouble of mind, Believe. By believing in Christ as the Mediator between God and man, we gain comfort. The happiness of heaven is spoken of as in a father’s house. There are many mansions, for there are many sons to be brought to glory. Mansions are lasting dwellings. Christ will be the Finisher of that of which he is the Author or Beginner; if he have prepared the place for us, he will prepare us for it. ~Matthew Henry

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)

Meanwhile, we live between those two advents—the two “appearings.” At the end of verse 12 Paul refers to that time-span between the two appearings as “the present age.” So he points us to the past, when “the grace of God . . . appeared.” He wants us to live “in the present age”—exemplifying the virtues of grace in the hectic here and now. And he wants us to keep an eye expectantly on the future, as we “[wait] for our blessed hope,” the return of God, our Savior in His full resplendence—which will be the final culmination of both grace and glory. 

In other words, there are past, present, and future dimensions to grace, and the present dimension is the main focus of our text. While we live between these two advents, grace takes us to school. This whole “present age” is the school of grace. ~Phil Johnson

Friends, take joy in the coming of our Lord. Though we may quicken and shudder to think of on facing Him with all our weaknesses and sins, His word has assured us that we may call Him Father, Friend, and Brother. And so we shall always be with Him.

Posted in america, end time, jesus, martyr, spirit

Martyrdom in America and the ‘indomitable human spirit’

On October 1, 2015 a mass shooting took place at an Oregon Community College. The lone gunman shot and killed 9 people and injured 9 others before turning his weapon on himself as police arrived and a battle ensued.

The shooting at Umpqua CC was one of the deadliest in recent memory. The list of school shootings just in recent years is depressingly long. In addition to the UCC shooting this week in Oregon, are the 2015 shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in which 9 were killed during a worship service, the 2012 Aurora CO movie theater shooting, and several recent shootings at military installations such as Ft. Hood and US Navy Yard.

In 2015, The Washington Post reported 204 mass shootings occurring in the U.S. in that year alone, according to ShootingTracker.com. In August 2015, the Washington Post reported that the United States was averaging one mass shooting per day. As of October 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama had given eleven speeches on eleven different mass shootings. (source).

One difference with this particular shooting in Oregon is that the shooter targeted Christians. In Charleston, though it was a church shooting, the motivation was racial. In other shootings, the gunman was a disgruntled employee targeting the workplace or simply an angry young madman locating a place where great numbers of people gather. The Umpqua Community College shooting is unique and represents a deepening of the exposure of our human spirit’s depravity. But before I delve into that biblical discussion, here are the facts surrounding this latest incident.

As the gunman entered the classroom at the Community College, he told all the students, adults, and teachers in the room to lay on the floor. Then he demanded that each one rise in turn and state their religion. If they said nothing, or ‘other’, they were maimed. If they said they were a Christian, the gunman reportedly replied,

“‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,” Stacy Boylan said in a televised report. “And then he shot and killed them.”

The United States has been relatively shielded from direct assault on Christians solely due to their religion. This shielding is obviously over.

Back in June, the Supreme Court of the United States made a moral declaration in their judicial capacity, rendering an opinion that stated that homosexual people across the land had the right to marry. Wikipedia’s synopsis states,

In the United States, same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the refusal to recognize those marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling overturned a precedent, Baker v. Nelson.

Most Christians recognized this as a spiritual watershed moment in our society. God sets up nations and establishes their boundaries. (Acts 17:26). Though only one nation has been specifically established to glorify Him as His special elect (Israel, Isaiah 45:4), the LORD does expect Godly behavior as the Gospel spreads. Moreover, He is always angry at sin. (Psalm 7:11).

The reverse of His setting up nations and working within them is that He also releases nations to their sin when they consistently fail to repent or when they consistently defy Him. This process is described in Romans 1:18-32. It applies to individuals but also applies en masse to nations when enough of the people consistently choose sin over God. That great nations and empires come and go is testament to His work within them. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, the British Empire … all consigned to the dustbin of history as once great but no more. This isn’t an accident of history but a purposeful work of God.

When the SCOTUS decision came down in June 2015, many American Christians remarked that it seemed that God had turned the US over to its sin and allowed a hardening to take place. At that time, Dr John MacArthur had some wise and encouraging words. He preached that the decision to encourage sch a particularly depraved sin, having reached the highest levels, was a marker that God had indeed turned America over. This hardening and release will have consequences, MacArthur said.

Practical atheism, rejection of the truth, moral relativism has always prevailed in Satan’s kingdom. But here in America we’ve been protected from that in its full fierceness. No more. And by the way, religious liberty isn’t promised to Christians, is it? Freedom isn’t promised to Christians. Persecution is. Persecution is. I think we’re going to feel it. 

There will be a barrage of persecution. These are going to be very challenging days. We will not bow. We will be gracious and we will be loving, but we will render to God what is God’s. (Source: Sermon We Will Not Bow.)

He was right. A mere three months later, Christians were murdered on US soil for the first time solely due to their stated religion. As a nation founded by religious separatists on the concepts of freedom, religious liberty, and one nation UNDER GOD, it has always seemed absurd and farcical that the kind of religious persecution written about in the first century or the Middle Ages could ever happen in the US. Then ISIS formed and many people in the 10/40 Window were martyred, persecuted, hunted and killed for their religious beliefs.

But still, it seemed far-fetched that it would happen here any time soon, despite what the Bible promised about Christians having trouble in this world. (John 16:33).

But Dr MacArthur was right, or more correctly, the Bible was right about what happens to nations that reject Him. Trouble and persecution always follows. America is certainly no exception. For some people, that fact just took a while to sink in. Then Umpqua happened and Christians were killed.

Jordan Standridge wrote at The Cripplegate yesterday about the martyrdom. Here is a short excerpt, and I recommend the entire piece-

When the Devil Points a Gun at You

The world will hate Christians 

I have to begin with this as we heard that the gunman singled out Christians in the shooting. He hated organized religion and made it a point to shoot the Christians in a fatal way. Jesus was clear that Christians will be persecuted (2 Timothy 5:12). He also tells his disciples that the world will treat them just like He was treated (John 15:20-21). When the devil points a gun at you, he desperately wants to kill Christ but he can’t get to him. But we know Christ will ultimately crush his head.

The world can’t stop the Gospel

On the day of their executions, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley knew that their burning would only enflame the light of the Gospel even more. Though John Bunyan’s tongue was silenced, the Gospel spread through his writing at a higher rate than ever before. Time and time again the world has tried to silence Christians and yet you cut a head off and two grow back. You can’t stop the Gospel. Though the devil seems to win battles, he will not win the war. When the Devil points a gun at you he desperately wants to stop the Gospel, but he can’t and it always spreads further.

Here is Adam Ford with One Simple Question

So all this was not to simply recount the news. It was to get us to this point and then remark on a comment made by CNN and former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, CNN reported this comment made by Gabby Giffords. Mrs Giffords was also a victim of a shooting when a politically motivated gunman shot her in the head. She knows the emotions of being a victim of violent crime, and she has experienced the aftermath. In addition to being shot with the physical effects, her wounding ended her political career. Giffords said of the Oregon shooting,

As far as I know, Mrs Giffords is not a Christian. Her Wikipedia page lists her religion as Reformed Judaism.

The human spirit is not indomitable, unless you say it is indomitably depraved. Indomitable means “impossible to subdue or defeat.” The sin-nature that’s in all of us IS impossible to subdue or defeat, without Christ. Our indomitable human nature is exactly why we need Christ! The same community comprised of individuals who mourned the victims’ deaths and injuries at Umpqua and who will attempt to rebound from their heartbreak, is the same community comprised of individuals any of whom may turn around some day and do the exact same thing.

In my early Christian walk, as I began to grapple with the difficult concepts of
total depravity & sin, (Ecc 7:20), I worked through these concepts by
 making collages. If we could see our spirit as God sees it, it might
look like this, as I collaged my representation of the sin-nature.

I’d said that the list of US mass shootings is depressingly long. Mass shootings are not isolated incidents, happening only rarely. Serial murders are not rare. Infanticide is not rare. Abortion infanticide is not rare. They are regular, normal acts from regular, depraved people whose sin nature has not been subdued and resisted with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

You might think my attitude is excessively dark.  And indeed, things do look dark. Jesus promised that before His Second Coming the earth’s people would be like they were in the days of Noah. (Luke 17:26). Immediately prior to the Flood, the Lord withdrew His Spirit, because He will not strive with Man forever. (Genesis 6:3). The world was released to wallow in its depravity, which had descended to this:

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. (Genesis 6:5).

The reality is, man’s ‘indomitable’ spirit is dark. It’s evil. Left to our own devices, we only think evil all the time. It will be that way again prior to the second judgment, when His wrath is released onto an unbelieving world during the Tribulation after the rapture when the restraining Holy Spirit is removed along with the people He dwells in. Except, Jesus promised, it will be worse. (Matthew 24:21-22).

And here is where the Light breaks.

Our God is so majestic, loving, and kind, He did not leave us to eternally deal with our indomitably evil human spirit. He begot a Son, who is Jesus. He sent His Son to incarnate into human flesh. Emptying Himself, He lived a perfectly holy and sinless life on earth. He dwelled among men and in all man’s depravity, yet in Him there was no darkness for one moment in all His days on earth. Falsely accused, Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten, scourged, spit on, maimed, stripped, and placed on a humiliating and painful cross, to die. Before His death, He took on God’s wrath for His elect’s sin.

We speak of the dark spirit of man, but think of this darkness. The moment when Jesus took on God’s wrath and absorbed the sin of the world, He was separated from God for the first time in eternity. All the world was literally dark. (Matthew 27:45)

This was so that Jesus could become the perfect sacrifice needed to please God and exhaust God’s wrath. God raised Jesus in the flesh the third day, and He ascended to the Father, where He reigns until He comes again.

Now what sinners must do is believe this Gospel. Believe your spirit is not pure and white and able to conquer anger, sin, and death. But believe that Jesus conquered sin and death and became the Door through which we may enter Holy heaven, pure and undefiled, because Jesus is pure and undefiled. The Light has come! Read this, slowly, even though it is so familiar to you-

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16:21)

As Dr MacArthur preached, we will not bow. In addition, not only will we not to bow, but we will stand.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)

Just as the martyred Christians did on October 1. Stand and declare … for Jesus. Be ready to die answering that one simple question. Are you a Christian? The new martyrs’ light has not been extinguished, but only burns brighter as this world’s spirit of the age darkens. For the Light has come.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:24)
Posted in elam, end time, iran, joel c. rosenberg, last days, nuclear, prophecy, uranium

"Iran says finds unexpectedly high uranium reserve"

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has discovered an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium and will soon begin extracting the radioactive element at a new mine, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said on Saturday. … After decades of efforts, Iran – which has consistently said its program is for peaceful purposes – has achieved a full nuclear fuel cycle, ranging from the extraction of uranium ore to enrichment and production of fuel rods for nuclear reactors. (source)

Immediately prior to this news, just days before in fact, Joel C. Rosenberg had published a bulleted list/factsheet regarding the danger the Iranian Government poses to the world. He lists the Iranian statement of beliefs and intents, especially with regard to wiping out Israel the the US. He lists past and very current statements that Iran intends at all costs to go forward with their dastardly and evil plan to rule the world and wipe out Christians and Jews.

Fact Sheet: The Iranian Leadership’s Apocalyptic Beliefs Joel C. Rosenberg Updated: September 4, 2015
What Iran’s Leaders & Allies Say They Will Do: Annihilate America

• “The slogans of the Iranian nation on Al-Qods Day show what its position is. The slogans ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’ have resounded throughout the country, and are not limited to Tehran and the other large cities. The entire country is under the umbrella of this great movement [of ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’].”—Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, July 18, 2015.

And now we discover that they had access to uranium all along.
And now we discover Iran has achieved a full nuclear fuel cycle.

We know from prophecy that Iran plays an important role in God’s plan of judgment. What does the bible say about Persia at the end of time?

The word of the LORD came to me: 2“Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him 3and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 4And I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great host, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords. 5Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you. (Ezekiel 37:1-6)

It is interpreted that of course Persia is Iran. That one is easy because Persia held the name until 1935 when the Shah asked foreign dignitaries to use the name Iran, the name the people themselves used.

Map of Achaemenid Persian Empire at its Greatest Extent (490 BC.) Source

The ancient name for the Persians, which was a name used until the early 1935 before it was changed to Iran, was Elam. People in the tribe of Elam were Elamites.

Elam is first mentioned in Genesis 10:22 as a son of Shem. Shem was Noah’s son. Elam was a real person, Noah’s grandson. You remember the early sons went out and founded tribes. This is recorded as a Table of Nations in Genesis 10. Answers In Genesis has an article with the table, which is like a genealogical family tree but of nations and not individuals. Click to enlarge. You will notice the same names on the Table as are recorded as the nations that fight at the time of the end. Togarmah, Gomer, Tubal…those guys all there at the beginning and their founded nations are there at the end. God is very precise.

The following points regarding Elam/Persia/Iran are from Bible History Online

The Persian Empire was founded by Cyrus in 536 BC., after they succeeded the Babylonian Empire. The first king of the Persian Empire was Cyrus, who issued the famous decree for the Jews to return to their homeland to rebuild their Temple. 

Under Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great, the Persian Empire eventually became the largest and most powerful empire in human history up until that point. The Persian Empire represented the world’s first global superpower.

The capital of the Persian Empire was Shushan. The Empire lasted about 200 years, and came to an end in 330 BC.

From Negev, A. (1990). In The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land:

ELAM a) The biblical name of a hilly country, ‘Elamtu’ in Accadian, east of the River Tigris (Hiddekel) bordered by Assyria (Mesopotamia) and Madai on the north, the Persian Gulf on the south and Persia on the east and southeast. Its capital was Susa (Shushan). Most of our knowledge of it derives from Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian sources.

There was a constant state of war between Elam and the kingdoms of Lagash and Assyria. By the end of the 2nd millennium BC the Elamites had succeeded in deposing the Sumerian Dynasty of Ur. According to Genesis (14) Chedorlaomer, King of Elam, ruled over all the countries which were formerly under the yoke of Babylon, and the countries on the Jordan were his tributaries.

Abram Rescues Lot
14 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, hat they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). (Genesis 14:1-2).

From DD Lowery in his book Elam,

The fall of Elam was foretold by Jeremiah (49:34–9) and by Ezekiel (32:24–5). During the period of the Persian Empire Elam was one of the satrapies, with Susa as its capital. Elamites who had been settled in Samaria impeded the Jews who returned from the Babylonia exile (Ezra 4:8–9).

ELAM (עֵילַם, eilam). An ancient Near Eastern kingdom located in Iran. A rival to the Mesopotamian kingdoms for over 2,000 years. The Elamite Empire influenced many great empires that shaped the biblical world. Over its long history, Elam interacted with the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and the Assyrians. Under the Persians, Susa—one of Elam’s great cities—makes several biblical appearances.

Biblical Mentions 

Kedorlaomer, king of Elam, appears in Gen 14 as the king whom Abram defeats to bring Lot and his family back home. The next occurrences in the Bible are not until the prophets and the exile. In the biblical text, Elam appears as a prophetic instrument of judgment (Isa 21:2; 22:6), as the object of judgment (Jer 49:34–38), and also as an object lesson for those yet to be judged (Ezek 32:24–25). Assyria deported many Israelites to Elam upon conquering it, which sets the stage for Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. According to Acts 2:9, a Jewish population still remained in Elam into the New Testament period. 

Determining how close the connection was between these earlier peoples and later Elamites remains difficult. Archaeology has shed light on many originally distinct groups during this period, most notably from Elam (Fars) and Susa, which come to be associated together later in history. 

End of Elam (Achaemenid Period, 539–331 BC): Elam Absorbed by Persia. Elam was geographically reduced to Susiana by the Assyrians, and the Medes and the Persians were firmly rooted in the Plateau. When Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great) conquered Babylonia (539) and established the great Persian Empire, Elam (Susiana) fell into Persian hands, becoming a valuable Persian province. The Persians inherited many characteristic traits from the Elamites, who continued to serve in various administrative roles under them. In fact, archives of Elamite clay tablets have been found in Persepolis—an important Persian center—from late in the reign of Darius to that of Artaxerxes (late fifth century). These shed considerable light on the political and cultural atmosphere of the time.
Under Darius, Susa became a prominent city in the empire. Here, set up as the winter citadel for the Persian Empire, that the biblical book of Nehemiah begins, and where Esther is also set. Recent archaeological discoveries in Susa have given clarification to the book of Esther. However, by this time, “Susa, in the province of Elam” (Dan 8:2) had ceased to be anything but the shell of Elam that it once was

Lowery, D. D. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Elam. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

When we read of the Elamites being comprised of many different Mesopotamian peoples, it is so. At Pentecost, we’re told that “staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5).

Including:

Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, (Acts 2:9).

Now in the latter days, a glorious thing will happen.

In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

The LORD has a remnant of His people inside the lands that we read about in the news today. How glorious it will be when He restores them! Daniel had a vision of the end time/last days of the very last days, in which he saw the Elamites-

And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. (Daniel 8:2).

On September 7 I posted a prescient quote from 1967 by S. Lewis Johnson regarding his long-ago perspective of seeing the ascendancy of Biblical nations. The Iranian rise is nothing to be surprised at nor worried about in this day and age. God is incredible and His hand works all that He wills. The things which were prophesied for thousands of years are coming to pass, and will come to pass, because God decreed it.

More to the individual point, when we read of rabid hatred contained in speeches by Iranians declaring death to America and death to Israel, let us not hate them back. In those nations, though there are many Muslims and many false Christians such as Orthodox, a few remnant Christ people dwell. They are being prepared to receive the calling when He deems it the right moment. Some already have been called, and others will become … our brethren.

God deals in remnants. That is His way. And God does mighty things through remnants. 300 against Midian. Two against the Philistine army. 7,000 among the millions in Israel. 120 on Pentecost. A handful of Puritans coming to the shores of North America 400 years ago.

And in our time, faithful men and women in many parts of the world who have left apostate churches meet in tents, homes, schools, libraries, firehouses, storefronts, the buildings of liberal churches, and even less likely places. In countries like Zimbabwe in Africa, men and women who have left the bondage of false religions often meet under the shade of a tree in an otherwise forbidding landscape to worship the one true and living God and hear His Word preached.

Men and women around the world meet in unlikely places, sometimes coming incredible distances on foot just to be together. God’s remnant is truly an unlikely assembly. But His people come together because they understand that it is not numbers, or a building, or other trappings that are of true importance – but the truth as it is found only in Christ and His Word. They understand that it is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). source

God is mighty and wonderful. Praise His name!