Posted in laver, ocean, prophecy, revelation, sea

Will Heaven Have Oceans? My Take

By Elizabeth Prata

I wrote about this in December 2009 and updated it in 2015. I’m taking on the topic once more here in 2021. It is a topic near and dear to me.

Now, I’m not a trained theologian. There are many people who have interpreted this verse in different ways, so I can’t be dogmatic. But I have a settled confidence.

Why? One particular verse. If God “placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it” then I need to understand that if there is no sea, what does ‘eternal’ mean? Plus I have several other reasons I believe interpreting the text to mean that there will indeed be an ocean, but not a sea.

Continue reading “Will Heaven Have Oceans? My Take”
Posted in art, church, ephesus, laodicea, philadelphia, revelation, sardis, smyrna, thyatira

About those churches of Revelation…

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

In the first century, there were 7 churches that Jesus caused John to write messages to. These were actual churches with actual congregations, doing and saying actual things. Jesus told apostle John, exiled at Patmos, what to write to these congregations. Jesus spoke commendations, criticisms, and instructions. Not all 7 churches were commended. Not all 7 churches were criticized. All had an instruction, though.

The church at Smyrna and the church at Philadelphia were not criticized. The church at Laodicea was not commended. The rest had both.

The churches were: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea.

Can you imagine being assembled on Sunday, hearing a knock on the church door, a messenger arriving and handing a scroll to your pastor, and the pastor reads a letter from the head of the Church, Jesus Christ Himself? Jesus is very much alive and in charge of His global body of worshipers, AKA His bride. He was directly involved then, and He is directly involved now.

Each of the seven churches was not only an actual church but is also a type of church dealing with a problem mentioned in the letters. The problem is not unique to that church for that time. There are always the same kind of systemic problems many churches deal with and have been recurring throughout the centuries. Always, there is a church somewhere that is busy but not alive. Always, somewhere, is a church that is indifferent and lukewarm. On this earth, there is a collection of churches gracefully enduring suffering, or being persecuted. And so on.

Please read Revelation 1-3, it is not hard. Those chapters offer the reader plain language and it’s not heavily symbolic.

Ephesus: I was struck by the fact they had abandoned their fervent love for Jesus. I imagined how, hearing this, John might have felt like he had ashes in his mouth and ears. “Nothing’s as cold as ashes, after the fire is gone.” (Loretta Lynn).

Smyrna: No criticism. Only light, the crown of life in heaven, and joy.

Pergamos: Compromise was their problem. Anyone who ever had a house built knows that if the contractor compromises on the concrete foundation, cracks appear at the first frost-freeze-thaw cycle. Nothing cracks a structure or an organization faster than compromise.

Thyatira: This church had a problem with a seductress teaching sexual immorality and the people tolerated it. It is a harlot church, literally.

Sardis: Revelation has a change in tone here. Sardis is dead. Can you believe that a church alive with people can be dead? According to the word of God here, it can and did happen.

Philadelphia: No criticism. This church is loved eternally from above. Its door will never close. This church is beloved in heaven.

Laodicea: Indifferent. Jesus hates that worst of all. He excoriates it with a lengthy invective no other church received in their message. He will vomit this church from His mouth.

If a messenger were to appear at your church door on a Sunday and hand a scroll written by Jesus to your pastor describing your church, what type of church do you think yours would be? If it is a church sliding into one of the less well-loved type of congregations, is there something you are contributing to its decline? Are you praying for your elders and pastors? Are you helping, or can find a spot to serve that will relieve some of the issues in the church? If your church is gloriously thriving, do you praise the Spirit for this? Pray for your pastor in gratitude for his hard work in the Lord?

EPrata photo
Posted in heat wave, India, judgment, prophecy, revelation, wrath

The importance of prophecy

By Elizabeth Prata

There is a Tribulation to come. It is not the Tribulation now. However, the terrible things we see happening on earth today remind us of God’s stored-up wrath that the Lord will pour out on the world during that time of judgment.

Do I refer to the judgments to come because I believe we are in the Tribulation now? Of course not. The rapture of the church will happen first, and then the judgments will be rendered by the Holy and Just Judge exactly and in the order as chronicled in Revelation.

Do I speak of the severe judgment to come in order to instill fear? A little. Holy fear and biblical knowledge of the power of God in wrath is a good thing. His judgment and His wrath are holy attributes of which we should be acquainted.

I’ve been told we should not speak of judgment. “It’s so negative” people say. “You should only talk of the happy things to make people feel comfortable with Jesus,” they say. Yet, the first thing John the Baptist said in his ministry was to warn us to flee the wrath to come. He started with a message of repentance, because judgment was looming. (“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.Matthew 3:1; and Matthew 3:7, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?“)

Repentance for sin and warnings of judgment are part of the Gospel message.

Continue reading “The importance of prophecy”
Posted in church, jesus, john macarthur, repent, revelation

Why the evaporation of America’s cultural Christianity is a good thing

John MacArthur wrote in his monthly letter why the deflation of the bloated Christianity we see in America is allowing the true Christianity to shine. Here is an excerpt from his monthly letter, and then below that, despite the encouraging news, a warning for the Church.

In light of recent headlines, court cases, and cultural trends, over the past few months you’ve probably heard—or said—something like the following: 

Our culture is spinning out of control.”
I can’t believe how fast the moral slide is happening.”
We’re living in a different nation than the one I grew up in.”
I think persecution of Christians is coming . . . soon.” 

Without question, the cultural Christianity many of us grew up with has vanished. There is no collective Christian consensus wielding any significant power in this country today. In fact, the more that true Christians endeavor to speak and live biblically, the more we are being labeled as extremists, homophobic, and intolerant. Truly we are aliens. We foresee a day when being a faithful Christian will cost us or our children dearly, and in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. 

So is there any good news? Certainly. We know that God will use even the current hostilities and the climate of impending persecution for good (Romans 8:28). For years I’ve been concerned by the church’s pursuit of cultural change through political and social activities. Large swaths of Christians have placed enormous time, energy, money, and hope in the wrong things. Hand in glove with that thinking, a superficial, cultural Christianity has blurred the clear lines between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world. Pragmatists in evangelical pulpits have softened the hard demands of the gospel, making discipleship sound easy and grace sound cheap. As a result, churches have been filled with religious, superficially moral, self-righteous people who don’t understand the gospel and are self-deceived about their true spiritual state. 

But with the façade of cultural Christianity shattered, biblical Christianity is beginning to stand out in a way it hasn’t in our lifetime. Scripture teaches and church history confirms that the Body of Christ is most potent and most effective when it simply speaks and lives the gospel without equivocation or apology. With the mask of superficial Christianity pulled down, I believe the best days for the spread of the true gospel are ahead of us.

Read more at the link.

With that said, though it’s true that as the cultural church shrinks and thus there are wonderful opportunities for the church global to share the Gospel and to show out living in a doctrinally pure manner, the moral purity of the Church leaves much to be desired. In a wonderful sermon of two parts, John MacArthur is preaching about Calling The Church To Repent.

There are two parts, and the transcript for both is coming soon. He is preaching from verses in the one place the Bible reveals where the Lord is calling the church to repent, Revelation 1:1-3. The warnings to those actual churches are also actual warnings to us today. The warnings were earned by the various churches due to a list of identified problems listed in the scripture. The churches’ problems were:

  • sexual immorality
  • idolatry
  • absorbing the pagan culture
  • tolerating sin
  • compromise
  • hypocrisy
  • false teaching
  • seduction by error
  • deception
  • preaching for money

This is a list that should be familiar to all of us. Many churches, unfortunately, engage in one or more of these same issues that the first century Revelation churches were engaging in. No, we haven’t built a golden calf to worship idolatrously, but we have built football stadiums, paint ourselves like pagans, and skip church regularly during football season to cheer for sports instead of worship our God. We also worship ourselves, and we have constructed many other idols that compete with God. The rest of the church’s sins are exactly the same today, which is why they should be familiar to us now in the twenty-first century.

In his sermon, Dr MacArthur said that it’s unusual to hear of a pastor calling his church to repent. It’s even more unusual to hear of an entire church repenting, he said, or broken over their hypocrisy, or sorrowful over their compromise, or repudiating their tolerance of the pagan culture, and so on. Though many people think the safest place in the universe is the church, MacArthur said, it’s not so. Jesus is intensely interested in the church, and when He sees problems, He makes threats. This should be a concern to all churches claiming the blood of Christ, and all churches as a whole should do their utmost to adhere to biblical and moral purity.

Please tune in to the sermon and then go on to part 2. It’s worth it.

Posted in prophecy, revelation, seven thunders

What are the Seven Thunders of Revelation?

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

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 illutrate the horrors of nuclear war and the Board found the movie too realistic to be released for thirty years, and even that film doesn’t go the distance of what the reality of the Tribulation will be like in terms of nuclear anguish 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 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…

Posted in daniel, prophecy, revelation, scroll, seal

Seal up the book…Do not seal up the book: Prophecy in Daniel and Revelation

But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)

Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. (Revelation 22:10)

Seal up…do not seal up. What can it mean?

Many have gone over the prophecy in Daniel 12 and many have admitted there is difficulty in interpreting the words.

Does seal up in Daniel mean hide the words? No, because the words are included in the canon and have been available for any person to read since the beginning.

The words seal up are also used in Revelation referring to the Seven Thunders. In that case, seal up meant do not write the words down. The words themselves have been sealed up within the confines of the Holy Heavenly Temple, and we do not even know what was said at all.

And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”
(Revelation 10:4)

Therefore in Daniel’s case, since he was told to write the words down and those words were subsequently preserved, it seems that seal up meant write, but that God would conceal the understanding of the words from us until an appointed time.

Now, in the 4th verse the prophet goes on to speak about the final part of the book. He says, “But it’s for you Daniel. Conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time, many will go back and forth and knowledge will increase.” What an interesting text this is. He says seal up the book and what does that mean? Does that mean preserve it, when we seal something, we often seal it to preserve it. Well it probably does not mean that, notice the 9th verse, go your way Daniel for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. So, probably this is seal up in the sense of conceal, so as for you Daniel conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time, many will go back in forth and knowledge will increase, and so what he seems to be saying is, Daniel, this book is to be an enigma until the end of time. 

And do you know that is exactly what the Book of Daniel has been? It has been largely an enigma until modern times. With the revival of the study of the prophetic word in the 19th Century, the Book of Daniel has begun to come into its own, and the book now as a result of the revival of prophetic understanding of Scripture has become a very significant book and the prophecy has it would seem to me at least been partially fulfilled. S. Lewis Johnson, Tribulation, Resurrection, Testimony in Daniel’s Conclusion

We compare the command to seal up the prophetic words to Daniel with the words to John NOT to seal up the prophetic words.

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. (Revelation 22:10)

John MacArthur on what it means to not seal up the book: Believer’s Immediate Response to Christ’s Imminent Return

That reminds me again that we’re not looking into this book for some kind of secretive meanings hidden behind what is obvious. If the truth is not in the words, then this command is nonsense. But the truth is in the words and we are not to seal up these words, we are to make them known. Way back in chapter 1 verse 11, John was told to write in a book what you see and send it to the churches. Spread it, spread this word, Jesus is coming and with Him comes blessing for His own and with Him comes horrifying judgment on the ungodly. To fail to preach revelation, to fail to proclaim revelation is not only foolish, because back in chapter 1 verse 3 it says, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things written in it for the time is near.” Not only will you forfeit that blessing, it is not just foolish but it is sinful. 

If ever there was a day to proclaim its truths, it is now. And tomorrow will be a more important day and the day after that a more important day, and next month, more important, and next year, more important as the coming of Christ becomes even nearer. Any Christian who fails to learn the truths of this book and to understand the words of this book which are not at all incomprehensible, as we have learned, is forfeiting blessing and any preacher who fails to preach this book of the glorious realities to come in the return of Jesus Christ is sinfully unfaithful to his mandate. 

And yet it is common, I suppose it is even normal in the church today to have this book completely ignored. As wonderful as the gospel record is, which tells us the story of the first coming of Christ, as marvelous as the epistles are which gives us the theology that comes out of His work, this is the book that exalts Him most. Not to preach the book of Revelation is to fall short of exalting the Lord Jesus Christ with that exaltation due to Him. It is not just a failure to teach the whole counsel of God and to give His people the love of His appearing, it is outright disobedience. The time is near. It is imminent. It is soon. This must be preached, don’t seal it up.

The true prophetic words of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and Daniel apply to us today, and they should spur us to fervency and love and witness and holy living. The words have been released to speak for understanding. God is gracious and all prophecy progresses in an orderly fashion, in His timing.

Posted in grace, hope, prophecy, revelation, sin, wrath

"Be saved today"…what are we actually saved from?

I love it when preachers, teachers, theologians talk about the Wrath of God. I do love the wrath of God because it is part of Him and His holy and perfect attributes. I do not love that people will undergo the suffering of His wrath due to the penalty of their sins. The wrath is a serious, serious thing.

I love it when preachers, teachers and theologians speak of the wrath because many others of them who are supposed to teach the full counsel of God do not. I know of churches where a pastor might go into a long, involved altar call, pleading with folks to come forward as music softly plays, and yet never mention wrath, sin, death, or hell. This is not the full counsel of God. Here, Bob DeWaay explains what the full counsel of God actually is.

As I have had people explain it to me: “people don’t go to church to feel worse about themselves.” So, it is deemed irrelevant to discuss the sin nature, and relevant to help people feel better about themselves. What about the glory of God? Are we to hear a powerful, Biblical presentation of God’s glory, His holy nature, our fallen condition, and the necessity of a blood atonement to appease the wrath of God (Romans 3:25)? Again, these matters are not likely to be deemed relevant to many.

Before my own conversion, I heard people say things like ‘the lost need to be saved’. I did not understand what “lost” meant. I joked that those dumb Christians were always going on about being lost but I knew exactly where I was. Har har har. And as for “saved? I had no clue what the threat was that we needed saving from. Yet this is exactly the reason why we should not dilute or on any way water down the message Jesus gave to us, His ambassadors. Ambassadors in real political jobs must convey the message from their superiors exactly as stated. It is not up to the Ambassador to change the message. (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are only witnesses and messengers, and the message has been set. It includes the “unpalatable” doctrines of sin, death, hell, and wrath. There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God. ~Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

The fact is, God’s wrath is the threat. And it is very real. Here are some theological thoughts from J.A. Milliken, and E.E. Carpenter, on what God’s wrath is and why we need saving from it.

WRATH, WRATH OF GOD

Used to express several emotions, including anger, indignation, vexation, grief, bitterness, and fury. It is the emotional response to perceived wrong and injustice. Both humans and God express wrath. When used of God, wrath refers to His absolute opposition to sin and evil. When used of humans, however, wrath is one of those evils that is to be avoided.

The OT speaks very frequently of both God’s wrath and human wrath, but the wrath or anger of God is mentioned three times more often than human wrath. There are some 20 different Hebrew words, used approximately 580 times, that refer to God’s wrath in the OT.

the wrath or anger of God is mentioned three times more often than human wrath.

… These anthropopathic terms must not be construed in such a way as to attribute to God the irrational passion we find so frequently in man and which is ascribed to pagan deities. They do, on the other hand, point to the reality and severity of God’s wrath in the OT (Isa. 63:1–6). God’s wrath is not capricious but is always a moral and ethical reaction to sin. Sometimes that sin may be spoken of in general terms (Job 21:20; Jer. 21:12; Ezek. 24:13) and at other times specified as the shedding of blood (Ezek. 8:18; 24:8), adultery (Ezek. 23:25), violence (Ezek. 8:18), covetousness (Jer. 6:11), revenge (Ezek. 25:17), affliction of widows and orphans (Exod. 22:22), taking brethren captive (2 Chron. 28:11–27), and especially idolatry (Ps. 78:56–66). The means by which God expressed His wrath was always some created agency: His angels, His people the Israelites, Gentile nations, and the forces of nature.

God’s wrath is not capricious but is always a moral and ethical reaction to sin. 

In the prophetic books the wrath of God is commonly presented as a future judgment. It is usually associated with the concept of “the day of the LORD” (Zeph. 1:14–15), or simply “that day.” That day will be a great and terrible day, a day of darkness and gloominess, day of the vengeance of God (Joel 2:2, 11; Isa. 63:4). While some of these prophetic utterances may have referred to the judgment of God in history, their ultimate fulfillment will come in a final act by which the world and its inhabitants will give account to God (cp. the NT use of the “day of the Lord,” 1 Thess. 5:1–9; 2 Pet. 3:10).

The wrath of God is not mentioned as frequently in the New Testament nor is there the richness of vocabulary that is found in the OT. There are only two primary NT terms for wrath: thumos and orge. Both are used to express a human passion and a divine attribute or action. When used of human passion, wrath is repeatedly named in lists of sins that are to be avoided, and if not, may incite God’s wrath (Eph. 4:31; 5:6; Col. 3:8; Titus 1:7).

Some have seen a distinction in meaning in these synonyms, the difference being that thumos expresses a sudden outburst of anger whereas orge emphasizes more deliberateness. There may be an intentional difference in occasional uses of the terms, but this does not prevent both terms from being condemned as vices when applied to human passion. In addition, both terms are used to describe the character of God, particularly in the book of Revelation.

There is great emphasis in the NT placed on the wrath of God as a future judgment. John the Baptist began his ministry by announcing the wrath of God that is to come, from which men should flee (Matt. 3:8). Jesus, likewise, pronounced a wrath that is to come upon Israel and produce great distress (Luke 21:23). Paul speaks of a day of wrath to come that awaits some, but from which believers are to be delivered (Rom. 2:5; Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 2:10). The idea of a future wrath of God is unfolded on a large scale in Revelation. It is described in very graphic terms, as cataclysmic upheavals in the universe (Rev. 6:12–17), “the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15 HCSB), and “the cup of His anger” (Rev. 14:10).

John the Baptist began his ministry by announcing the wrath of God that is to come, from which men should flee

In the NT the wrath of God is not only a future judgment, it is a present reality. It does not merely await people at the future judgment. Jesus stated that the wrath of God abides on unbelievers, and consequently they stand presently condemned (John 3:18, 36). For Paul, God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom. 1:18), all people in their natural state are “children under wrath” (Eph. 2:3 HCSB).

Theological Considerations: The doctrine of the wrath of God is unpopular in much modern theological discourse. Some deny that there is ever anger with God. Others think of God’s wrath as an impersonal moral cause-and-effect process that results in unpleasant consequences for evil acts. Still others view God’s wrath as His anger against sin but not the sinner.

God’s wrath is real, severe, and personal. The idea that God is not angry with sinners belongs neither to the OT nor to the NT. God is a personal moral being who is unalterably opposed to evil and takes personal actions against it. Wrath is the punitive righteousness of God by which He maintains His moral order, which demands justice and retribution for injustice.

God’s wrath is real, severe, and personal.

Moreover, God’s wrath is inextricably related to the doctrine of salvation. If there is no wrath, there is no salvation. If God does not take action against sinners, there is no danger from which sinners are to be saved. The good news of the gospel is that sinners who justly deserve the wrath of God may be delivered from it. Through the atoning death of Christ, God is propitiated and His anger is turned away from all those who receive Christ (Rom. 3:24–25). Therefore, those who have faith in Christ’s blood are no longer appointed to wrath but are delivered from it and appointed “to obtain salvation” (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9).

SOURCE: Millikin, J. A. (2003). Wrath, Wrath of God. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 1688–1689). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

What do the wrath and salvation have to do with each other?

“Wrath” is a strong term, reserved in the English language almost exclusively for describing “God’s anger” with human beings and their sinful actions. The Greek word orgē expresses the idea of “justifiable anger for unjust actions.” It is used throughout the New Testament to describe God’s anger toward the sins and unbelief of humanity.

The Old Testament and the New Testament both teach that God is storing up His anger for the great and final day of judgment. This day is frequently called the Day of the Lord. The concept of the Day of the Lord was developed by the prophets to warn Israel and the nations that no one can escape the righteous outpouring of God’s wrath (Amos 5:18–20). This day was still spoken about by the New Testament prophets, John the Baptist and John the visionary (Matt. 3:7; Rev. 6:16–17).

Those who do not profess faith in the risen Christ remain in their sins and will be subject to God’s wrath, whereas those who believe in Him are delivered (Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 1:10). The good news of the New Testament is that Jesus has come to deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9). Those who have been delivered are reconciled with God because they are no longer under condemnation (Rom. 5:10; 8:1).

Those who do not profess faith in the risen Christ remain in their sins and will be subject to God’s wrath, whereas those who believe in Him are delivered

God’s wrath will be poured out on the devil, his angels, and all who rebel against Him. This is graphically portrayed in the book of Revelation, as we see scene after scene of God executing judgment on the ungodly. God’s stored-up wrath will be unleashed in awful ways, as He brings destruction on: the earth, those dwelling on the earth, the merchants of the earth, false religions, the antichrist, and all the enemies of the gospel. Ultimately, God’s wrath will be satisfied when He has put the devil, his angels, and all unbelievers in the lake of fire, to be tormented for eternity in eternal separation from God (Rev. 14:10; 20:10–15).

SOURCE: Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 427). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Do we have hope to escape the wrath, then?

Here is how Jonathan Edwards concluded his masterpiece sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.

BE SAVED TODAY

Posted in cotopaxi, ecuador, end time, eruption, prophecy, revelation, volcano

Ecuadoran Volcano Erupts for the First Time Since the ’40s (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Ecuador declares state of emergency over Cotopaxi volcano activity

“We declare a state of emergency due to the unusual activity of Mount Cotopaxi,” Correa said during his weekly Saturday address. “God willing, everything will go well and the volcano will not erupt.”

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Ecuadoran Volcano Erupts for the First Time Since the ’40s
By Erik Klemetti

ECUADOR WAS GREETED this morning with a coating of ash from Cotopaxi. This eruption would be its first since explosions rocked the volcano in 1940 and possibly 1942. Today’s eruption was quite small—two explosions that rained ash (see below) on the southern edge of Quito. Climbers on Cotopaxi heard the explosions in the early morning hours, both of which happened after earthquake swarms over the past few days. … Cotopaxi needs to be closely monitored as eruptions in 1877 produced lahars (mudflows) that travelled over 100 km from the volcano. You can watch Cotopaxi on the IG webcam. 

UPDATE 12:45 PM EDT: It looks like Cotopaxi is continuing to have explosions—check out the recent Tweet with a shot of the growing plume.

Valley of Volcanoes. Wikipedia

My husband and I spent a month in Ecuador with two of his friends. We had met some Ecuadorans when they came to Maine for an exchange program and we flew there to visit them in return. We rented an apartment in middle Quito and branched out from there with our friends ushering us around their stomping grounds.

The volcano Pichincha was front and center in the middle of the huge capital city of Quito. If I wanted to see the top, I’d have to stand on my tiptoes and lean over the sink and crane my head upward.

I was amazed that 2,671,191 people live within mere miles of an active volcano. As a matter or fact,t he entire Valley of Volcanoes, the spine of Ecuador, is filled with active volcanoes. Some population center or another is always threatened. We bathed in hot springs fed by underground magma chambers at Papallacta. We washed our clothes in hot springs tricking down the volcano sides at Baños. Baños means baths. Volcanoes are a way of life to Ecuadorans.

The fences surround little private hot tubs heated by volcanic thermal springs
at Papallacta. You can see the steam on the right behind the pumpkin
and in the middle next to the hut. EPrata photo

Here is a photo of part of populous Quito:

EPrata photo

Here in northern Ecuador near Cayambe, another volcano dominates the skyline, even through the low hanging clouds.

EPrata photo

Naples Italy is another huge population center living among a growling bear. Wikipedia says,

Vesuvius has erupted many times since and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years. Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards explosive (Plinian) eruptions. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.

I feel for all the people around the globe today who are under threat of active volcanoes. Japan and Indonesia are other places where people have been recently evacuated. As we go about our daily life we trust that certain things will work, like the trains, subway, planes, roads, electricity, etc. When there is an interruption like the ah fall on South Quito, it makes life harder than it is already, especially for so many people in Third World countries.

Worse is that these kind of natural interruptions and natural disasters will only continue to increase. We think that we can manage around some light ash falls, some cracks in the road after a temblor, but eventually we will not be able to manage. The seriousness of natural disasters will exceed man’s ability to not only endure them, but even to comprehend them. (Revelation 16:21, Revelation 9:3-4, Revelation 6:14 etc.)

When the rapture happens and we are gathered to Jesus He will unleash all His stored-up wrath and the earth will literally go crazy with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hailstorms, heat, floods, and more.

Revelation 6:12 says “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;”. The sentence is constructed in a way that seems causal. Earthquake occurs, and within the same sentence with no period, the sun turns sackcloth and the moon turns red. Can an earthquake cause this? Yes, if it sparks a volcano eruption. Read more about this below at the link “Of volcanoes, dry fog and sun as sackcloth

The time is drawing nearer and nearer when sin will be loosed to do its worst, when disasters will top each other again and again- daily. All those who are not true believers will be left behind to face that. Many who think they are believers will shockingly discover they are not, when the true brethren suddenly are gathered up at the last trump into glory and they are left behind.

Just a friendly reminder, that we are not on earth to play, but to work, pray, witness, and labor for the Master.

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Further reading

Of volcanoes, dry fog and sun as sackcloth

CNN: Cotopaxi sends huge ash plumes into the sky

In-Depth Economic Times: Volcano in Ecuador spews huge column of ash

Posted in discernment, revelation, romanticism, sissified needy jesus, vidal sasoon jesus, voddie baucham

Women, do not worship a sissified Jesus. He is WOE, not woo.

Are you a romantic? I am. I enjoy reading books of fables, fairy tales, and romances where the man who was “the one” for the woman would ride back into town, sweep the woman off her feet, and love her unconditionally and perfectly all her days. Every woman swoons at that thought. Even feminists. They don’t admit it, but that’s why they read romance novels. The Princess Bride is a stupendous movie mostly for this reason.

The divorce rate shows the undeniable truth that there is no perfect prince astride a white horse coming to sweep us off our feet. After the heady moments of early courtship and in the very early days of marriage, that bubble of ephemeral romance dissipates in the face of morning sickness, toilet wars, laundry, and sleepless nights due to children, busybody in-laws or work pressures. Marriage is hard work and no one loves perfectly.

Yet women, including Christian women, still long for the picture of perfect domestic bliss with a strong and capable husband who actually finishes the tasks he sets out to do. And puts the tools away after. As the picture of the Prince and the Princess Happily Ever After becomes more pervasive in society, discontent rises among women. Once they have the husband they now want to dominate the husband. Marriage wars begin. (Genesis 3:16). Including Christian marriages, and worst of all among marriages where one or both partners believe they are Christian but are not. These marriages struggle the most because one or both of the partners are not saved but think they are, and since they are absent the help of the Holy Spirit begin to wonder why their marital partner is so sinful. Women who think they are saved but are not, won’t submit, either, as Ephesians says we must do. (Eph 5:22).

Enter the “Christian” romantics. Bob DeWaay defines Romanticism as

Romanticism—the idea that truth could be found in feelings, art, and the intuitive rather than through empirical investigation and the rational—arose in the early 19th Century as a reaction against the Enlightenment and rationalism. I believe the Emergent movement is a new Romanticism…

In other words, when a woman says or writes, ‘Because I feel such a powerfully blissful longing for Jesus He must be a very good God.’ Ann Voskamp in particular is a writer along these lines, reducing the Omnipotent King Jesus to a puddle of swoon. She wrote in One Thousand Gifts,

Has His love lured me out here to really save me? I sit up in the wheat stubble, drawn. That He would care to save. Moon face glows. We are head to head. I am bare; He is bare. All Eye sees me (Voskamp: 115)

And:

I long to merge with Beauty, breathe it into lungs, feel it heavy on skin. To beat on the door of the universe, pound the chest of God . . . No matter how manifested, beauty is what sparks the romance and we are the Bride pursued, the Lover pursuing, and known or unbeknownst, He woos us in the romance of all time, beyond time. I ache for oneness (Voskamp: 119).

Voskamp is an easy target because her writing is so drenched with girlish giddiness when describing the Alpha and Omega. There are other examples of Romanticism in popular writing, such as these from Sarah Young of Jesus Calling. Jesus Calling is entering its tenth year of being on the bestseller lists, and not just Christian booksellers, any bestseller list. This is the book that just won’t go away.

“Your deepest, most constant need is for My Peace. I have planted Peace in the garden of your heart,” ― Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence

Our heart is a garden of peace? I thought it was deceitful and sick and no one could know it. (Jeremiah 17:9).

Another Sarah Young quote:

MEET ME IN MORNING STILLNESS, while the earth is fresh with the dew of My Presence. Worship Me in the beauty of holiness. Sing love songs to My holy Name. As you give yourself to Me, My Spirit swells within you till you are flooded with divine Presence. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence

Really. That’s just embarrassing.

Rebekah Lyons one of the ladies of the IF:Gathering, and #freefalltofly. In her book of the same title she stated,

So you’re stuck in a freefall because you never figured out what makes you fly.

That quote says nothing and yet it speaks volumes.

David Murrow wrote the essay, Stop Telling Me To Fall In Love With Jesus, and said,

Romantic imagery is unhelpful. When we describe our faith in romantic terms, we set believers up for immaturity and failure. The term “fall in love” describes the opening chapter of a relationship. It’s the emotional, wispy, unpredictable stage. Do we really want disciples to pattern their faith on this volatile model? 

When I think of my faith, I do not imagine it as a love affair. I don’t envision myself sitting across a table in a candlelit restaurant, staring into Jesus’ eyes, casually flirting with him. I don’t picture myself walking hand-in-hand on a beach, opening a love note from Jesus, or climbing into bed next to him. Instead, I see myself walking beside him – asking him questions, gaining his wisdom. I see us fighting injustice, redeeming captives and setting things right. My “relationship” with Jesus takes place on the battlefield – not in the bedroom

Though the article was written by a man about men, his stance of battlefield vs. bedroom should be adopted by women also. We are all warriors in the army of our Commander in Chief. We are not His lover, we are His soldier. Jesus is not weak and needy, wooing us to His breast in a pre-dawn dewy garden, He is a blood-soaked King who elects those whom He chooses to salvation and brings all humans to justice- some to condemnation and wrath and eternal punishment. He is the bloody, pierced sacrificial substitute who died a horrific death in order to bring His elect to heaven to dwell with him so He will be magnified. He is not a whispery, clingy hippie seeking swooning women.

A sissified, needy Jesus is not the Jesus who will vanquish His enemies at Armageddon. A sissified, needy Jesus is not the Jesus who sustains the entire universe with the power of His word. A sissified, needy Jesus is not the Jesus who will fulfill the many promises He has made to bring some to heaven and punish others in wrath forever. A sissified Jesus doesn’t woo. He saves. With a sword.

Be careful of the Jesus you create with your mind and emotions.

God is not only love. Continually having a picture of a romantic, sissified Jesus in our minds will most definitely shift our gaze from the certainty of the coming wrath. As Pastor John MacArthur said last Sunday in his sermon We Will Not Bow,

The Bible is very clear on judgment. You say, “Well that’s the Old Testament. What about Jesus?” I wrote a book called, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. Some of you remember it. It is the Jesus that seems to be the one who is ignored. Jesus was a judgment preacher. He said far more about hell that he did about heaven. Started with John the Baptist. John the Baptist announced to the leaders of Israel that judgement was going to come with an unquenchable fire and consume them all. 

Jesus told a story in Luke, chapter 20, about divine judgement that would take the unfaithful and shatter them into pieces. Jesus announced in John, chapter 5, that He would come in the end, and that there would be a resurrection unto damnation. The apostle Paul said, if you don’t love the Lord Jesus Christ, you’ll be damned, 1 Corinthians 16:22. 

When Jesus described His own part in the judgement day, He said, “Depart from Me into eternal fire.” Into eternal fire. He said, “Woe to you, Chorazin.” “Woe to you, Bethsaida.” “Woe to you, Pharisees.” “Woe to you, lawyers.” “Woe to the one who has betrayed Me.” He preached judgment all through His ministry. That’s loving. That’s compassionate. That’s necessary.

A true picture of the actual Jesus is one of WOE, not woo.

There is a clip from a Voddie Baucham sermon which in my opinion brings a clearer focus of who Jesus is to the fore. Do not worry that speaking of the avenging Jesus means we don’t understand He is love, also. As this blogger said,

No doubt, Voddie fully understands that God’s love was also the biggest part of His Sons crucifixion. However, he certainly refuted those false Gospel claims that Jesus is a sissy, and that God is only about love.

I’d said at the beginning “the divorce rate shows the undeniable truth that there is no perfect prince astride a white horse coming to sweep us off our feet.” That is only half-true. There is no earthly perfect price. There is a Prince who will come with a white horse and His armies to rescue us and bring us as His bride adorned in white to dwell in a mansion of heavenly New Jerusalem forever. He loves us unconditionally, permanently, and He is the most beautiful person in the universe. He is wealthy, shares His wealth with His bride, sups with her and cares for her intimately because He knows her heart. He created her heart, He cleansed her heart!

This is our Groom, the powerful judge of all the living and the dead, and He chose us through no merit of our own to be part of His family. He wiped us clean of our sin, clothed us, sustains us, houses us, loves us. Isn’t THIS Jesus good enough for the Sarah Youngs and the Rebekah Lyons and the Ann Voskamps of the world?

Isn’t THIS Jesus good enough for you to adore as He is? What about US loving HIM unconditionally for who HE is? He is the I AM.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 1:8).

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Further Reading

No Compromise Radio: Episode 87: Loving God is not erotic (no matter what Voskamp says) (3:43 min video clip)

Posted in Book of Revelation, eschatology, prophecy, revelation

Is Revelation the most difficult book in the Bible to understand?

John the Apostle on Patmos by Jacopo Vignali

No.

The Book of Revelation is not the most difficult book in the Bible to understand.

Is it possible to be dogmatic about this? So certain?

Yes.

First, some background. The Book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible. Chronologically it’s the last book as well because it is devoted almost exclusively of what is to come at the end of time. It is also the last book to be written, being finished by about 96AD by the last of the eyewitness Apostles to have walked with Jesus: John son of Zebedee, the Beloved Apostle. John had been exiled to the rocky, barren isle of Patmos off Greece,

“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, (Revelation 1:9).

He had come onto the bad side of Emperor Domitian for the word of God, and the Emperor had exiled John, a common punishment.

Patmos is part of the Greek chain, sitting in the Aegean Sea but closer to Turkey than Greece. It is small, just 7.5 miles tall by 6 miles wide. Today, Forbes magazine voted Patmos as “Europe’s Most Idyllic Places To Live.” Back in 96AD it was barren, rocky, treeless, and hot.

John was an old man by 96AD. Perhaps he had thought his usefulness to the Lord was concluded. Perhaps he wondered why he had been kept alive long after his fellow disciples had been privileged to die a martyr’s death. And then one Lord’s day when John was in prayer and reverie, Jesus spoke to him.

Just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:2 that he was caught up to the third heaven but whether in the body or out of the body he knows not. John described the circumstances of his surroundings and activities upon receiving the visions, said he was in the Spirit, but then simply begins to record when he was given to see without saying if he was actually in heaven or how he it was possible to hear Jesus and see these things.

What amazing, wonderful and terrible things John was given to see. Daniel was given a vision of the end and afterward he was sick many days. (Daniel 8:27). John concludes chapter 1 with a description of Jesus, the appearance of whom caused John to fall at his feet as though dead. So did Daniel (Dan 8:18).

Chapter two and three encompass personal messages Jesus wanted John to write and send to the 7 churches of Asia (Province of Rome, not the entire continent). These were Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Smyrna, Sardis, Laodicea, Ephesus.

Wikipedia summarizes the flow of these early chapters in Revelation,

The letters follow a common pattern. For example: the Lord first addresses each church and identifies himself, then defines things that he knows about the church in question. After this a challenge or reproach is given, followed by a promise. In all seven cases the admonition is included, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”, although sometimes this comes before the promise and sometimes after.

What is interesting, and what would require study, is how Jesus identified Himself to each church. In one He says He is the Amen, to another, the Holy One, to another, the One who walks among the 7 lampstands, to another Him who has the sharp two-edged sword. It would take study, prayer, and thought to determine why Jesus identified Himself in these unique ways to certain churches and why this name matched the message He gave them. But that is regular Bible study, just like in any other book of the Bible. Revelation chapter 4 has John receiving a vision of heaven! This includes seeing those majestic, strange creatures with six wings and four faces and eyes all around. That’s deep! Yet Isaiah and Ezekiel also saw the throne room, these creatures, the rainbow, and flashes of fire and peals of thunder as John did We can compare those prophets’ previous texts and John’s text so scripture can interpret scripture. Just like we do for any book. Though the creatures are strange and the throne of God awesome in the word’s truest sense, these things are hard to comprehend, but not especially difficult to interpret. Especially when there are two other texts to help us.

Patmos. Wikimedia Commons

So why do people say Revelation is hard? Marginalize it? Ignore it? Dismiss it?

In his sermon “How to Study Your Bible” John MacArthur writes,

Perhaps if we asked people who have some familiarity with the Bible, “What would be the most difficult book in the Bible? What would be the hardest book of the Bible to understand?” they would probably say Revelation. Probably most people would say that the book of Revelation is hard to understand. I know many preachers, who throughout the life of their ministry, would never preach on the book of Revelation because they don’t think they can understand it. And that’s because they have abandoned the proper hermeneutics to interpret it. Because if they interpret it with the right hermeneutics they have to interpret it literally, and if they interpret it literally it goes against their historic theology. And they really don’t want to do that so they just don’t know what to do with the book of Revelation and they leave it out.

Actually, in my opinion, the book of Zechariah is theologically dense, and pound for pound contains more prophecy and symbolism than Revelation does. Revelation is pretty clear. MacArthur again:

Now I believe that the book of Revelation can be understood. It can be understood if you just read it; it’s very clear what it says. It’s only when people get mystical about it that it becomes confusing. Obviously there are some elements of the prophecies there that we will never understand until they actually come to pass, but that’s true of all prophecy. But the message of the book, exalting Jesus Christ, speaking about the glorification of the saints and the judgment of the ungodly is very clear in the book of Revelation.

I’d opened with a dogmatic statement that the book of Revelation can be understood, at least as much as any other book of the bible and as much as any prophecy can be before it is fulfilled. I say this for two reasons.

Reason #1: The book is called The revelation. Revealed. It is not the book of Confusion. It isn’t the book of Mystery. It isn’t called The Really Hard Book We Should Stay Away From. The first line in the book, Revelation 1:1, says

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

Jesus chose to reveal things, for the purpose of showing us. Rather than being cloaked in mystery, the statement about itself is one of understanding.

Reason #2: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3)

It is the only book of the Bible in which His servants are promised a blessing just for reading it. THAT is how important this book is to Jesus, and thus to all of us. He did not choose to reveal, to show, and to bless, and then do a takes-back by cloaking it in mystery, hide, and curse.

Now, in one sense, of course the entire bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Matthew Henry says in his commentary,

This book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ; the whole Bible is so; for all revelation comes through Christ, and all relates to him. Its principal subject is to discover the purposes of God concerning the affairs of the church, and of the nations as connected therewith, to the end of the world. … This blessing seems to be pronounced with a design to encourage us to study this book, and not be weary of looking into it upon account of the obscurity of many things in it; it will repay the labour of the careful and attentive reader.

Reason #3: If Revelation is the only book in which the reader will receive a blessing for reading, what is the one book satan is going to concentrate on getting us NOT to read? Of course. He has done a good job in getting Seminary Professors not to teach it, and a generation of pastors coming up have not learned it well. Satan has spent a good deal of time getting pastors, teachers, and lay people to doubt their ability to understand it. That old serpent has done a good job of clouding our judgment when it comes to the Book of Revelation. The devil has been successful in getting to see this book almost as a curse, not a blessing. So reason #3 in which we can say with certainty is that we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11).

With that encouragement, I do encourage you to read Revelation, study it, enjoy it. It is magnificent book, relating to us the things of our end, the final state of this present age. Eden will be restored! The Holy City will have none to defile it! Wow! Blessing is pronounced, not just the one in chapter 1 but another in chapter 22:7

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

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Further Reading

Overview: The Book of Revelation, Got Questions?

Book: Because the Time is Near, by John MacArthur

Sermon: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, S. Lewis Johnson