Posted in prophecy, theology

When Jesus says, “Many will say to me…” just how ‘many’ will it be?

By Elizabeth Prata

Toshiba Exif JPEG

Jesus doesn’t just give comforts and ease in His sermons. He healed, yes. He promised rest and peace for the repentant, yes. But He also issued dire warnings to the unsaved, the hypocrite, the haughty sinner and so on. He said twice in Matthew 7 that ‘many’ will not get to heaven.

We understand the word many here in the English language. It meas ‘lots.’ But studying the Bible means delving. In the Greek language the New Testament was originally written in, there are nuances and depths of meaning and shades to words. So in the Greek, what does ‘many’ mean? This is of concern, of course, because none of us want to be caught in the net of ‘many’ on the Day of Judgment.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. (Matthew 7:13)

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (Matthew 7:22)

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance for the meaning of many as used in these two verses is the same word: polýs – many, high in number; multitudinous, plenteous, “much”; “great” in amount (extent).

4183 /polýs (“much in number”) emphasizes the quantity involved. 4183 (polýs) “signifies ‘many, numerous’; . . . with the article it is said of a multitude as being numerous” (Vine, Unger, White, NT, 113,114) – i.e. great in amount.

You might recognize the prefix we use in the English- poly.

The word means so much, to such a great extent. Jesus compares one thing to another quite often, Here, it’s many and few. Compared to the saved, the number who are going to be cast into hell are many Matthew Henry sums up with this:

Those that are going to heaven are but few, compared to those that are going to hell; a remnant, a little flock, like the grape-gleanings of the vintage; as the eight that were saved in the ark, 1 Pt. 3:20.

It’s sobering to think of the entire world drowned except for 8 people. I think that we truly underestimate the depth of our sins as humans. The saved understand we are thoroughly depraved, but until confronted with the holiness of God, we really don’t understand. The few who were confronted with it and lived, (Daniel, Isaiah, John, Job, etc) immediately fell as dead men writhing about their own putridness. So it is hard to look at a large number of unsaved, especially when so many of them are pious and Christian seeming. But there will be “many.”

And because we have a hard time grasping the depth and treachery of sin, we tolerate it.

John D. Street (@jdstreetjr) Tweeted,

Is it possible for Christians and the church to be too forgiving? Revelation 2:20 (NAS): “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel…” “Tolerate” is the same word “to forgive” (ἀφίημι). The answer is yes, especially when it comes to abiding sin!

Here is Matthew Henry on the ‘many’ and the ‘few’ in the Matthew 7:15 verse above.

Here is, (1.) An account given us of the way of sin and sinners; both what is the best, and what is the worst of it.

[1.] That which allures multitudes into it, and keeps them in it; the gate is wide, and the way broad, and there are many travellers in that way. First, “You will have abundance of liberty in that way; the gate is wide, and stands wide open to tempt those that go right on their way. You may go in at this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no check to your appetites, to your passions: you may walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; that gives room enough.” It is a broad way, for there is nothing to hedge in those that walk in it, but they wander endlessly; a broad way, for there are many paths in it; there is choice of sinful ways, contrary to each other, but all paths in this broad way. Secondly, “You will have abundance of company in that way: many there be that go in at this gate, and walk in this way.” If we follow the multitude, it will be to do evil: if we go with the crowd, it will be the wrong way. It is natural for us to incline to go down the stream, and do as the most do; but it is too great a compliment, to be willing to be damned for company, and to go to hell with them, because they will not go to heaven with us: if many perish, we should be the more cautious.

[2.] That which should affright us all from it is, that it leads to destruction. Death, eternal death, is at the end of it (and the way of sin tends to it),—everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. Whether it be the high way of open profaneness, or the back way of close hypocrisy, if it be a way of sin, it will be our ruin, if we repent not.

(2.) Here is an account given us of the way of holiness.

[1.] What there is in it that frightens many from it; let us know the worst of it, that we may sit down and count the cost. Christ deals faithfully with us, and tells us,

First, That the gate is strait. Conversion and regeneration are the gate, by which we enter into this way, in which we begin a life of faith and serious godliness; out of a state of sin into a state of grace we must pass, by the new birth, Jn. 3:3, 5. This is a strait gate, hard to find, and hard to get through; like a passage between two rocks, 1 Sa. 14:4.

There must be a new heart, and a new spirit, and old things must pass away. The bent of the soul must be changed, corrupt habits and customs broken off; what we have been doing all our days must be undone again. We must swim against the stream; much opposition must be struggled with, and broken through, from without, and from within. It is easier to set a man against all the world than against himself, and yet this must be in conversion. It is a strait gate, for we must stoop, or we cannot go in at it; we must become as little children; high thoughts must be brought down; nay, we must strip, must deny ourselves, put off the world, put off the old man; we must be willing to forsake all for our interest in Christ. The gate is strait to all, but to some straiter than others; as to the rich, to some that have been long prejudiced against religion. The gate is strait; blessed be God, it is not shut up, nor locked against us, nor kept with a flaming sword, as it will be shortly, ch. 25:10.

Secondly, That the way is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as we have got through the strait gate, nor in Canaan as soon as we have got through the Red Sea; no, we must go through a wilderness, must travel a narrow way, hedged in by the divine law, which is exceedingly broad, and that makes the way narrow; self must be denied, the body kept under, corruptions mortified, that are as a right eye and a right hand; daily temptations must be resisted; duties must be done that are against our inclination. We must endure hardness, must wrestle and be in an agony, must watch in all things, and walk with care and circumspection. We must go through much tribulation. It is hodos tethlimmenē—an afflicted way, a way hedged about with thorns; blessed be God, it is not hedged up. The bodies we carry about with us, and the corruptions remaining in us, make the way of our duty difficult; but, as the understanding and will grow more and more sound, it will open and enlarge, and grow more and more pleasant.

Thirdly, The gate being so strait and the way so narrow, it is not strange that there are but few that find it, and choose it. Many pass it by, through carelessness; they will not be at the pains to find it; they are well as they are, and see no need to change their way. Others look upon it, but shun it; they like not to be so limited and restrained.

Those that are going to heaven are but few, compared to those that are going to hell; a remnant, a little flock, like the grape-gleanings of the vintage; as the eight that were saved in the ark, 1 Pt. 3:20.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1645). Peabody: Hendrickson.

What a blessing we have in the ark of Jesus, saved through the storm and floods of His wrath. Repent and believe the Gospel, (Mark 1:15) and you will join the “few” who love Him more than our sins, the devil, and the world.

Posted in prophecy, theology

Why we are not “Easter Worshipers” and why it matters

By Elizabeth Prata

Words matter. The words we choose to use form a basis for discourse, in teaching, and through the exchanging of ideas in a civil society.

I’ve said this many times, but when a group in one culture decides to dispense with or change the meaning of words the rest of us have commonly understood for centuries, it’s important to pay attention to the shift in meaning. The intentional use or disuse of certain vocabulary words within a language is different from the natural evolution of language. Just think Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s day, the commonly used alack for oh no! fell into natural disuse. We don’t say alack any more. What I’m talking about today is the intentional changing of a commonly understood term.

Communication is all about creating meaning based on comprehension of what commonly understood words mean. When those meanings change, our perceptions change too.

As a journalist, I was taught that word choice flavors a story, which in turn germinate biases in the mind. Read these sentences and see how each one presents a slightly different aspect:

The protester was standing on the sidewalk.
The activist was standing on the sidewalk.
The fanatic was standing on the sidewalk.

The new health care plan would benefit Americans, the President argued.
The new health care plan would benefit Americans, the President suggested.
The new health care plan would benefit Americans, the President stated.

This is a good and balanced article about bias and the words we use.

Language is the overlay to any society’s well-functioning. Ask the builders at Babel. No longer able to understand each other, they were forced to migrate in order to preserve knowledge and advance one’s culture.

One’s culture is not simply vocabulary, but it’s also the inherent meaning inside each of the commonly used words. When one group decides to pull a swithcheroo and abandon using a word, especially when it is a word important to the faith, we must do our best not to succumb to cultural pressure but instead keep using the words all the more. As Charles Spurgeon noted in his sermon “Christian Conversation”,

The Christian is the aristocrat of the world; it is his place to make rules for society to obey- not to stoop down, and conform to the regulations of society when they are contrary to the commands of the Master…they must make others, by the worth of their principles, and the dignity of their character, submit to them.

We’ve seen such a massive change of late in the use of the world tolerance. Also, sin has been replaced by messiness or brokenness. We see sodomite changed to homosexual then gay to same sex attraction. Each intentional change dilutes the meaning and power of the word and creates different biases. The dilution causes change from commonly understood perceptions into misperceptions. The result is that civil dialog becomes corrupted and connecting through relationships gets harder.

A new one popped up this weekend. Many people suddenly started using the term “Easter worshipers” instead of Christians. Nobody ever said that before. Literally, it’s not a thing. What it is is a blatant attempt to obscure the fact that Christians were murdered.

Aside from the just plain silliness of the term, like, what do you call Christians when it isn’t Easter? Sunday worshipers? And it makes it sound like we are worshiping Easter, not Jesus.

Dr Denny Burk is professor of biblical studies at Boyce College. He commented today on Twitter on an 8-tweet thread, the following. I liked his take on the sudden influx of “Easter Worshiper” into the culture and language. I personally believe it’s deliberate, and part of a ramping up of Christian persecution, both hard and soft.

Denny Burk @DennyBurk

I’ll refrain from speculating about the motives of those referring to Christians as “Easter Worshipers.” But I will say this, people would do well to understand how God’s word uses the term “Christian.”

The term “Christian” only occurs three times in all of the Bible—in Acts 11:26, 26:28, and 1Pet. 4:16.

In Acts, the term “Christian” designates those who are followers of Christ (i.e. disciples).
The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” -Acts 11:26

In 1 Peter, the term “Christian” designates those who are willing to be persecuted for following Christ.

If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” -1 Peter 4:16

The reference in 1 Peter is important because it commands persecuted believers to “glorify God” in the name “Christian.” The term allowed followers of Christ to identify themselves explicitly as partisans of Christ—to identify their own sufferings with Christ’s.

There is a reason that persecuted Christians want to be known as “Christians.” They want the world to know that their suffering MEANS something. They want their suffering to bear witness to Christ’s suffering.

“Easter worshipers” fails to capture this. “Easter worshipers” also fails to disclose how Christians actually identify themselves. We are followers of Christ, “afflicted in every way, but not crushed… always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:8-10).

The term Christian was originally assigned to Jesus’s disciples by those outside of Christianity. Christians later came to use the name for themselves. The key thing, however, is that the term identified for WHOM Christians suffered when they were persecuted.

“Easter worshipers” obscures the meaning of their suffering. The term “Christian” clarifies that they suffer not for any specific act of wickedness but simply for being followers of Christ. I cannot think of any good reason to deny such clarity.

—end Denny Burk—

The length that society will go to erase Christianity from collective consciousness and even Christians themselves from the world is amazing. The reason for the tweets and discussion mentioned above was that Muslims had bombed 7 targets across Sri Lanka. A zoo, three hotels, and three churches (2 of them Catholic, one was Bible-believing) were bombed on Easter Sunday, hence the term ‘Easter worshipers’ thrown about when referencing the bombings. One tweeter wryly said, ‘Let’s call Muslims Ramadan worshipers- works both ways.”

So the devil incited another round of violence against God’s people, in his never-ending attempts to wipe Christianity off the world. Though it’s always been present in the world, do you believe hatred against Christians is increasing? I do.

In response to the bombings, the non-believers reporting on the incidents also participated in wiping the name of Christ off the public discourse, by refusing even to call us “Christians.”

Dr Burk ended his tweet thread by saying “I cannot think of any good reason to deny such clarity” in simply using the name.

I can. You can. Revelation 12:17 says

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

Since Eve and Adam, the devil has been trying to thwart God’s plans and kill God’s people. He wants to supplant God and be worshiped instead of God. God’s people are in the way of satan’s plan. The Revelation verse is set during the time of the Tribulation, when satan’s plans against the Jews have been thwarted, so he turns his attention to killing Christians. The world began and it will end with satan trying to harm God’s people in any way he can, through lying, stealing, destroying, and killing.

Some people say it doesn’t matter what they call us. Initially we were called disciples. Then a Sect of the Nazarenes. (Acts 24:5). Then followers of The Way. (Acts 9:2). Then Christians. (Acts 11:26). It has stayed Christians since 90AD when Acts was written. For almost 2000 years, the term Christian has been used to delineate who we are and with Whom we identify. I believe that words matter. What we call ourselves and what others call us matters. Reject anything different from the Christ-deniers. Keep the name of Jesus public and prominent.

Janet Mefferd noticed the bias, too:

I believe that one tweet shows very clearly how words can render something simple into an unclear, unintelligible mess.

We’re Christians.

 

Posted in prophecy, theology

Petra, Jordan, and God’s Mighty Love

By Elizabeth Prata

This essay first appeared on The End Time in July 2010. It has been lightly edited.

Jordan and Israel’s relationship during the Tribulation is an interesting one. In researching, I learned that Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab nations to have normalized relations with Israel. Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel was signed in 1994 with President Bill Clinton as mediator, between Hussein I of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel. King Hussein, of the Hashemite dynasty, died in 1999, and his designated son King Abdullah II became King. King Hussein had guided his country through the Cold War and four decades of Arab-Israeli conflict, balancing the pressures of Arab nationalism and the allure of Western-style development against the stark reality of Jordan’s geographic location. He worked throughout his life to advance the cause of peace between Jordan and Israel (which he successfully achieved in 1994). (Source Wikipedia). Above, Petra, the Rose-red city.) That peace will be broken, and soon.

Between 1999 and 2019 relations between Israel and Jordan have maintained the same level of respect and courtesy. However, that has to change, because Jordan is listed among the nations that attack Israel during the Psalm 83 war.

With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you- the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. Even Assyria has to lend strength to the descendants of Lot.” (Psalm 83:5-8). Edom, Moab and Ammon are today’s Jordan. Ammon is the capital.

Yet…Jordan is one place the antichrist is not able to overcome. “He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.” (Daniel 11:41)

And…Petra in Jordan is the likeliest place the Jews flee to when the antichrist begins his persecution, and it is the likely place where they remain in safety, protected by God during the Great Tribulation and led out by Him to Jerusalem at the conclusion of the Day of the LORD. (Isaiah 63:1-6).

Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (Revelation 12:6).

When Jesus was speaking with the disciples in His Olivet Discourse, from that vantage point, the ‘wilderness’ was to their east and over the mountains. That is the direction of Petra, which is to the south and east of Jerusalem just below the Dea Sea.

But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.” (Revelation 12:14)

So it appears that though peace has held between Israel and Jordan for over two decades, something will change to cause Jordan to pile on in the Psalm 83 war and attack Israel in the time of the very end. However, Jordan will remain intact enough so that the antichrist will not overcome her as the verse above in Daniel 11:41 shows.

Jordan’s full name is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The Hashemites trace their ancestry from Hashim ibn Abd al-Manaf (died c. 510 AD), the great-grandfather of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The early history of the Hashemites saw them in a continuous struggle against the Umayyads for control over who would be the caliph (successor) to Muhammad. The Umayyads were of the same tribe as the Hashemites, but a different clan. This rivalry eventually would lead to the split between the Sunni and Shia. (Wikipedia). And we see the tension between the ever-widening split beteen Sunni and Shia Muslims today.

It may be why the “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” commands so much respect in the Arab world. Today Hashemites have spread in many places where Muslims have ruled, namely Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran. Above, the cleft in the rock to Petra, at places only 9-12 feet wide.

The second curious thing is that Petra is also known as Sela, which means rock. It is referred to in Judges 1:36; Isaiah 16:1, Is 42:11; Obad. 3 where Petra is known as the “cleft in the rock”.

Petra is also known as Bozrah, which means sheepfold. Sheepfold or sheep pen is an enclosure designed with overhangs or other protection from the elements, and is solid enough to keep the sheep in and the wild animals out. It always has one narrow gate for entry. Bozrah is the perfect sheepfold! Our Shepherd Jesus will protect His remnant during the Great Tribulation, and mamny think that place will be at Bozrah, the sheepfold, the Cleft in the Rock.

It is there He definitely returns at the Second Coming and becomes stained with blood of the armies attempting to wipe out the remnant, and leads them to victory at Mt. Olive as His feet land there. (Zechariah 14:4).

God’s Vengeance on the Nations
Who is this who comes from Edom,
With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,
This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength?
“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
“I have trodden the wine trough alone,
And from the peoples there was no man with Me
I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath;
And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments,
And I stained all My raiment.
(Isaiah 63:1-3)

In John 14:3 He promised His church that “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am“. All this time He has been preparing a place for the church believers. He also has prepared a place for His people, the Jews, to reside in during the Tribulation in protection and safety. He is a God who cares for His people.

And that is a mighty thing indeed. Hallelujah to the One True and Mighty God, who prepares for His people a place!

Posted in prophecy, theology

What are the Seven Thunders of Revelation?

By Elizabeth Prata

*The answer to the question I posed in the title is, “I don’t know. No one knows.”

100_2097moon at sunset pixlr red sky
EPrata photo

The Seven Thunders seem to be a part of the series of judgments in the Book of Revelation. I say “seem to be” because the words were not allowed to be written down, so we cannot be sure that they specifically are judgments. However, coming in sequence after the Seal and Trumpet judgments, and before the Bowl judgments, it seems that the mysterious Thunders may be judgments as too.

Given that thunder is the voice of God in judgment, it seems to further the notion that these mysteriously sealed instructions may be judgments.

John MacArthur wrote of the Seven Thunders in his book Because the Time is Near:

The seven peals of thunder did not merely make a loud noise, but communicated information that John was about to write. In obedience to God’s commands, John had already written much of what he saw in his visions. Later in Revelation, John would once again be commanded to write what he saw in his visions. (14:13; 19:9; 21:5).
But before John could record the message of the seven peals of thunder, he heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”Whether the voice was that of the Father, or Jesus Christ, or an angel is not revealed. The command, however, clearly originated with God. The reason John was forbidden to record the message is not revealed. It may be that the judgments were simply too terrifying to be recorded. Any speculation as to the content of their message is pointless. If God wanted it to be known, He would not have forbidden John to write it. They are the only words in the book of Revelation that are sealed.

Let’s focus in on the “too terrifying” part of the reasoning here. In all the apocalyptic movies I’ve ever seen specifically related to the Tribulation, they are all uniformly sanitized. In other words, the horrific reality of the Tribulation as depicted in the Bible’s Book of Revelation has been visually watered down to be as non-reflective of the reality of a cellophane wrapped hamburger meat at Publix is compared to the blood, filth and messiness of a low-rent butchery. And even that is not reflective of the reality of what is coming.

The non-Christian apocalyptic movies movies I’ve seen, Threads, The War Game, and It’s A Disaster, were harrowing and soul-slaying. Their real depiction of nuclear or nerve gas apocalypse stayed with me for a long time. The War Game was commissioned by the BBC to specificaly illustrate the horrors of nuclear war and the BBC Board found the movie too realistic to be released. For thirty years itlanguished in a closet. Yet even that film doesn’t go the distance of what the reality of the Tribulation will be like in terms of nuclear horror and death. People just do not understand what it really means when Jesus promised it to be a time of distress exceeding even the time of the Flood. (Matthew 24:21). And remember, that was a time when everybody on earth horribly died. (Except 8 people).

So here is Oliver B. Greene in his Verse-By-Verse Study of Revelation, on the Seven Thunders’ terror:

Thunder is the voice of the Lord in judgment (I Samuel 7:10, Psalm 18:13). The seven thunders “uttered their voices.” (John assumes that the readers already have Some knowledge of these seven thunders.) In Revelation 4:2, 3 John saw a throne encircled by a rainbow, and here in chapter ten we see the same rainbow. In Revelation 4 John saw upon the throne One who was to look upon as a jasper and a sardine stone, and “out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices.” In chapter 10, we have the same thunder, sounding out a message of God’s fury and judgment.

The seven thunders are the judgment thunders from the throne of God. When the Lion of the Tribe of Judah roars, as on the eve of bounding forth upon His prey, the seven thunders utter their roaring voices as in full sympathy and agreement with what is about to proceed in righteous vengeance and holy fury from the throne of eternal majesty. Personality is attributed to these “seven thunders.” Everything is in sympathy with the Lamb of God. These mighty thunders utter messages that are intelligible . . . they speak words. John heard what they said – and when the time comes in reality, the seven thunders will speak literal words that earth’s dwellers will fully understand. It will be a message in tones of thunder. We use a public address system to amplify voices when we want to be heard – but God needs no amplification. He can speak like mighty thunder – and He WILL when the time comes!

At the beginning of these marvelous visions, John was commanded to write in a book what he saw and heard – past, present and future. But when the thunders spoke, John was given another command. He was about to write – but a voice from Heaven said: “Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not!” The seven thunders must have given a terrible message. Already set before us are blood, tears, famine, heartache and heartbreak; killing, misery, hail, fire, burning mountains, demon monstrosities, men begging to die and unable to do so. Surely what John was forbidden to write must have been beyond human imagination and understanding! There is no need to speculate on what the thunders said. Your guess is as good as mine; but you may rest assured that the message had to do with God’s last gigantic, unheard of, indescribable judgment, when God “lowers the boom” in utter destruction.

Will YOU be on earth when the seven thunders speak? You are the only one who can answer that question. If you are born again you will NOT be here – but if you are not born again, you may be here. Read John 1:11-12, 3:16-18, 3:36, 5:24; Romans 10:9-10, 10:13, 10:17; Ephesians 2:8-9; I John 1:9. Read these verses, hear what they say; receive them – and you will not be here when the seven thunders utter their message of destruction. You will be with Jesus.

Imagine a message that exceeds the terror and blood of all that had already previously been spoken. Or if that was not the case, imagine a message that was so tremendously powerful it needed to be sealed from our tender brains until the moment they would be spoken during the Tribulation.

Prophecy is supposed to motivate us to witness, and yet the reality of the judgments of souls in rebellion to God is omitted from the message of the Good News. How terrible that it’s omitted so often these days, when the days are coming that many will be living it!

May this essay motivate you to read Revelation, to pray for wisdom and understanding of the coming days, to receive the promised blessing for having read it,, and for its words to be a catalyst in your heart for the lost who are under that very “boom” Greene mentioned, soon to be lowered…

*This essay first appeared on The End Time in January 2016

Posted in prophecy, theology

The Usefulness of Dystopian Fiction

By Elizabeth Prata

Tim Challies is a reader and a book reviewer. He is the author and promoter of the Annual Christian Reading Challenge, in which I participate.

I was glad to see this article by by Jon Dykstra linked from Tim Challies’ site:

Why Is Dystopian Fiction Worth Reading?

Yay! Someone else is a fan of dystopian fiction.

Dystopian is a word from Greek meaning ‘bad place’ according to the article. It’s the opposite of Utopian, meaning ‘perfect place’.

Dystopian fiction is a genre that describes people surviving or trying to, after a holocaust of some kind, or a societal collapse, or a nuclear war, and the like. The article speaks of this kind of fiction being worthwhile because it helps us in predictive prophecy of the secular kind, in connecting the dots to see a current credible future threat. The author’s point was that this kind of fiction spins a credible threat into scenarios that help us understand where these threats may lead us.

This is a genre well worth exploring, though with care and caution. It’s a big blank canvas that insightful writers can use to paint pictures of grim futures, all in the hopes that they, and we, will ensure such futures never come to be.

I enjoy this fiction but had felt mildly guilty about it, as though I needed to be doing something more productive. I’d wonder, ‘Am I a ghoul?’ ‘Why do I find this absorbing?’

Mr Dykstra helped me see my interest in it was to go where my own imagination lacked facility, to ‘see’ a future that is all too real in some cases, and to develop opinions and thoughts to guard against it. EM Forster’s The Machine Stops is a future that is practically already here, as is Stephen King’s The Running Man. Chilling.

The most famous work of dystopian fiction is George Orwell’s 1984, which the article mentions. That work was published in 1949. Another famous work of dystopian fiction is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Other classic dystopian books are PD James’s Children of Men, and the Canadian book The Handmaid’s Tale. Of this last one, the author of the article discounts it as predictive or even helpful as understanding a credible threat, though a good yarn, because it was Chrfistianity that led to the dystopian society being described in the fictional account. Dystopian fiction is good where it helps us see ahead and cope with credible current or near current threats.

I mentioned I’m participating in the Challies’ Christian Reading Challenge, at the “Avid Level” (26 books read this year.) I added several others of my own choosing to Challies’ list, making myself a separate genre nook of dystopian books I wanted to read. They included The Running Man, The Machine Stops, and It Can’t Happen Here. I’d like to add these and some other dystopian material to you as recommended. I’ve read most of these and have watched the movies.

Stephen King’s The Running Man (1982)-

is a science fiction novel by American writer Stephen King, first published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman in 1982 as a paperback original. It was collected in 1985 in the omnibus The Bachman Books. The novel is set in a dystopian United States during the year 2025, in which the nation’s economy is in ruins and world violence is rising.

The end of The Running Man is absolutely chilling, as the final action the main character takes has already come to pass.

EM Forster’s The Machine Stops. (1909). Amazingly prescient, predicting the rise in technology that impacts both individuals and society, this novella is a short but chilling read. In many ways, we are living Forsteer’s future now.

William Forschen’s book One Second After (2009) depicted the effect upon America from an EMP, (electro-magnetic pulse), and the nation’s societal collapse and resulting high death rate. The author consulted with psychologists, economists, and sociologists to base his fiction on real scenarios those experts stated would most likely happen if we suffered an EMP.

Pat Frank’s book Alas, Babylon (1959)-

-was one of the first apocalyptic novels of the nuclear age and has remained popular more than half century after it was first published, consistently ranking in Amazon.com’s Top 20 Science Fiction Short Stories list. The novel deals with the effects of a nuclear war on the fictional small town of Fort Repose, Florida, which is based upon the actual city of Mount Dora, Florida. The novel’s title is derived from the Book of Revelation: “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”

Nuclear winter wasn’t a very known or understood event back then, so the survival rate of the population in Alas, Babylon, this initial entry into the American dystopian nuclear fiction isn’t realistic, but most of the rest of the book is.

Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. (1935). I have not read this book but it is on deck to be started this weekend. I’ve read three pages so far so I can’t review it, lol. Not yet. The synopsis seems like we are living it now…

Here is Wikipedia’s synopsis of Lewis’ book-

Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a plutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS. The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion

With the current rise in tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan, these two movies might be worth a look.

Threads. I watched this 1982 film a few years ago. I wrote a review of it below. It affected me greatly.

The most unrelentingly horrific and unsettling apocalyptic movie you will ever watch that comes the closest to what the Tribulation will be like: “Threads.

The Wikipedia synopsis of the film states:

Threads is a 1984 British apocalyptic war drama television film jointly produced by the BBC, Nine Network and Western-World Television Inc. Written by Barry Hines, and directed and produced by Mick Jackson, it is a docudrama account of nuclear war and its effects on the city of Sheffield in Northern England. The plot centres on two families as a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union erupts. As the nuclear exchange between NATO and the Warsaw Pact begins, the film depicts the medical, economic, social and environmental consequences of nuclear war.
Shot on a budget of £400,000, the film was the first of its kind to depict a nuclear winter. Certain reviewers nominated Threads as the “film which comes closest to representing the full horror of nuclear war and its aftermath, as well as the catastrophic impact that the event would have on human culture”.

And even then, the film, though it comes near to depicting the horror of the Tribulation, doesn’t even come close to its actuality. But Threads is as close as I’d want to see it anyway. Our minds can’t fully comprehend the full evil that will occur at that point in history. As this reviewer said, in his article, ‘Threads’ Is One of the Most Horrifying Films I’ve Ever Seen: This BBC docudrama scarred a generation,

Threads absolutely forces you to face the unthinkable.

People, the Tribulation is unthinkable. But we must think on it, the Lord’s wrath already hangs over the unsaved. Things like this should spur us to witness with eagerness and fervor.

The War Game (1965) is another film that horrified audiences. Created in 1965, it was deemed TOO horrifying to be released widely. See below-

The War Game is a 1965 television drama, filmed in a documentary style, that depicts a nuclear war. Written, directed and produced by Peter Watkins for the BBC’s The Wednesday Play anthology series, it caused dismay within the BBC and also within government, and was subsequently withdrawn before the provisional screening date of 7 October 1965. The corporation said that “the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting.

I don’t think a steady diet of this kind of material should be on our plates, but books or movies like this can be a legitimate addition to our bookshelves or movie queue, for the reasons stated above. Happy reading…or in this case, unhappy reading.

hammer mural1

Posted in prophecy, theology

Predictive prophecy’s value

By Elizabeth Prata

Only God can accurately predict the future. This is because He plans it, He enacts it, and He sustains it. He is the author of it.

Man can guess what the future holds, He might be half right sometimes. He may be wrong many times. “I have made peace for our time” said UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938. He was wrong on that one. WWII broke out soon after.

God promised that there will be wars and rumors of wars. He was right. (Matthew 24:6).

US President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty, and he said he wanted change from that and he aimed to get it. He was wrong.

Jesus said that the poor you will always have among you, and He was right. (John 12:8).

Man gets it wrong because despite being the foremost creature in the Garden, having dominion over all the other animals and creatures, man is depraved and has only evil intentions all the time. Sin clouds our thinking. Plus, we are a creature, formed and made. God is not. God is I AM. He always was and always will be. He is outside of time and thus, He makes the future.

Predictive prophecy proves that God is God and He is sovereign over all events of the earth and universe. He says as much in this passage from Isaiah, when he challenges the false ‘gods’ to do as he does.

Present your case, says the Lord.
Set forth your arguments, says Jacob’s King.
Tell us, you idols,
what is going to happen.
Tell us what the former things were,
so that we may consider them
and know their final outcome.
Or declare to us the things to come,
tell us what the future holds,
so we may know that you are gods.
Do something, whether good or bad,
so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
(Isaiah 41:22-23)

As a people, we are grateful for the LORD’S having given us insight into His ways, His character, and His plans. Prophecy is wonderful. Study it with all diligence and love, it is a gift from the Maker of History to the people living it.
idolaters

Posted in prophecy, theology

‘Do Not Look Back’

By Elizabeth Prata

Embedded within Jesus’s lengthy speech on the Day of the Lord, He said,

Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:32)

Remember Lot’s wife – See Genesis 19:26. She looked back – she delayed – perhaps she desired to take something with her, and God made her a monument of his displeasure. Jesus directed his disciples, when they saw the calamities coming upon the Jews, to flee to the mountains, Matthew 24:16. He here charges them to be in haste – not to look back – not to delay – but to escape quickly, and to remember that by delaying the wife of Lot lost her life. ~Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

DO NOT LOOK BACK

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Postlude 2, Like the Sun

By Elizabeth Prata

Christmas means baby Jesus. Everybody loves the baby. The swaddling clothes (so cute!) the manger (awww, really?), the Wise Man (distinguished solemnity). It is a tremendous story. It is THE story of all of history. God Himself came in flesh, incarnated solely to grow, live a perfect life, and die.

The baby grew up. He ascended to the Father, sat down, and reigns from heaven. He is coming again, as I wrote yesterday. When He comes again it will not be as a baby all swaddled and cooing. His incarnation continues, as it will forever, but today we look at Jesus as He is now. He is kingly, powerful. He is GOD.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. (Revelation 1:12-15).

The verse continues into v. 16, today’s focus. It’s the last verse in the series. We have gone from prophecies announcing the fact of His coming, to the Babe, to His life, work and ministry, His death and resurrection, and now as He is in heaven and His soon return. He will come again to deal with sin- and sinners.

True believers will be gathered with Him prior to the bloodbath that the Second Coming will be. During that horrific time, it will be a blessed time also, because many will come to faith. It will be a time of blood, evangelism, faith, sin, horror, and martyrdom.

Praise God, Jesus will come again. He is great and mighty.

On to today’s verse:

thirty days of jesus final

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer
Day 24: Jesus as Omniscient
Day 25: Jesus’ Authority
Day 26: Jesus’ Sinlessness
Day 27: He rises!
Day 28: Resurrection is of central importance
Day 29: Ascension
Day 30: He sat down
Thirty Days of Jesus: Postlude 1, He is coming again

I hope you have enjoyed these verses and pictorial representations of the thirty-plus verses I’d selected. Feel free to use the photos as you will. All of them except two are my own creation, and the two that aren’t mine are issued freely under creative commons license at Unsplash.com. Be sure to visit the Further Readings links I’d posted under most of the Scripture pictures, too. I always want to connect readers with good, credible sources.

Happy New Year! May 2019 be the year Christ returns.

2 Timothy 1:10
And now He has revealed this grace through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the gospel,

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Postlude 1, He is coming again

By Elizabeth Prata

thirty days of jesus postlude 1
Further Reading:

GTY blog/sermon link: Christmas Future

Spurgeon: Watching for Christ’s Coming

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer
Day 24: Jesus as Omniscient
Day 25: Jesus’ Authority
Day 26: Jesus’ Sinlessness
Day 27: He rises!
Day 28: Resurrection is of central importance
Day 29: Ascension
Day 30: He sat down

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 30, He sat down

By Elizabeth Prata

We are coming toward the end of our look at the life of Jesus through scripture. The first section of His life was seen through verses focused on prophecy, arrival, and early life.

The next section of verses looked at Him as the Son, second person of the Trinity.

We proceeded into looking at Jesus as the Son’s preeminence, His works, and His ministry. Under ministry & works, I chose verses showing His attributes and aspects of being servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and compassionate healer; and His attributes of omniscience, having all authority and power, and sinlessness.

Now it’s the last section. We’ll look at His resurrection, ascension, and prophesied return. It’s the day after Christmas, but I have a few more verses waiting, which I believe fits. When we finish, we will be looking at the New Year with all that entails, the feeling of freshness, hope, optimism for a new start. And when we finish the last verse, we will be looking through the lens of scripture at the hope and optimism of His return and that all will be made new.

On to today’s picture verse.

thirty days of jesus 30 he sat down
Further Reading:

Ligonier Devotional: Seated at God’s right hand

Grace to You: The Forever Exalted Christ

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer
Day 24: Jesus as Omniscient
Day 25: Jesus’ Authority
Day 26: Jesus’ Sinlessness
Day 27: He rises!
Day 28: Resurrection is of central importance
Day 29: Ascension