Posted in prophecy, theology

The time is short

By Elizabeth Prata

I think it’s safe to say that most Americans were started by the eruption of violence in our nation, from coast to coast, over this past summer. I’ts unsettling to see those scenes on television or streaming in our phones day after day, night after night.

Any peace we have been experiencing on earth is a privilege granted to us. And as we know, privileges can be taken away at any time.

Everyone who studies the Bible understands explicitly that the Tribulation (Time of Jacob’s Trouble) will be a time of upheaval and war. Everyone who has heard about Revelation but isn’t a believer or hasn’t studied understands implicitly that it will be a time of upheaval and war. Revelation 6:4 says– Continue reading “The time is short”

Posted in prophecy, theology

God is in control and He has been since before ancient days

By Elizabeth Prata

This essay first appeared on The End Time in April 2010

The Hebrews use the term “Ancient of Days” for God so as not to accidentally say His name and blaspheme. Ancient of Days is a poetic sounding name, and a lovely one. It is also comforting. It rings with authority and by its own name has a timeline that precedes us mere humans and will outlast this earth and the Church Age. It is and was and forever will be, since ancient times. He and His throne IS the Ancient of Days!

Micah says:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2]

Daniel is a difficult book to interpret prophetically, but, then again, maybe not so difficult when you remember “scripture interprets scripture.” In 2 Peter 1:20 Peter wrote: But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, He was not saying that we would not understand it. Nor is he saying that we should not try to interpret it. He was saying that the interpretations are given to us, that they are contained in the Bible.

Let’s take a look at the following from Daniel 7:15-27–

As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.

Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates.

I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.

Thus he said: The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.

When Daniel was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through his mind disturbed him, he approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all that he’d been told.

“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things:” The student of Bible interpretation is given a gift here, because the interpretation of the verses was placed within the same chapter and only a few verses away, not far apart like in Revelation and Isaiah, for example.

—-end Daniel verses

What a blessing, that the prophet Daniel could approach the one giving the prophecy and ask for its interpretation! We can do the same, ask the Spirit to interpret the verses to us, illuminating them to our mind.

Then a few verses later we see another blessing as Daniel asks for the meaning of the fourth beast and of the horns. The vision is one of torment and anguish and war and usurpation and all sorts of chaos, but in the midst of the interpretation we receive blessing because suddenly there is order. Not order on earth, but we read of order in the heavens:

“until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” [Daniel 7:22]

Ahh, blessed order! The Ancient of Days came! And judgment was passed. In this word judgment from the Aramaic it is not judgment as in wrath and discipline, but the word ‘din‘ as in courts. And the time arrived. You see that nothing is being done in knee-jerk response to the chaos. Nothing is reflexive, judgment is appointed to occur in due course. Indeed, in verse 26 our eyes turn from the chaos on earth yet again and seeing the court come to order. Every few lines in this passage in Daniel, we flip from earth to heaven and the chaos on earth back to heaven. This is a gift to us, the reader, for before we get too upset at the chaos that must come, we are given a picture of the orderliness.

But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.

And finally in verse 27b, His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.

From the beginning of the terrible sights that are revealed to us through Daniel’s vision, we are given knowledge of the interpretation, assurance and reminder, judgment which bespeaks of a legal solidity, a seated court who carries out the judgment in a weighty and time-appointed process, and the final blessing that it shall be so forever.

What the Bible is saying to us in this passage is that:

  • Scripture interprets scripture (all truth is contained in its covers, no need to guess, and it’s available to everyone)
  • Interpretations will be given if you ask (and you should ask)
  • The Ancient of Days is ancient and is in control from before Genesis 1:1 and will be forever
  • He does things in an orderly way through legal and weighty means in His timing and rendered through heavenly judgments and court-like atmospheres (Or actual courts in heaven),
  • No matter what the chaos is on earth you can always look up to find the peace and orderliness of His control from on high. Look to His word for peace and in prayer for refreshment and calm.

throne verse

What a wonderful God we serve! What a wonderful Word He has given us!

Posted in eschatology, theology

Eschatology is more than “Jesus Wins”

By Elizabeth Prata

I taught kids at church on Wednesday nights. I loved their conversations and their thoughts and their joy. I remember one night, they were asking about Jesus and heaven. They got so excited when they figured out that their friends will be in heaven too. They practically jumped out of their seats when they made the connection that they will actually see Jesus and hang out with Him. They started making plans, clapping their hands … It reminded me of Mark 10:13-16, “suffer the little children to come unto Me, do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Boy, does it ever. Let US be excited, innocent, planning, expectant, too. Are we? We should be!

I become so sad thinking about a similar joy that adults should display when thinking of the “Last Things.” Many adults don’t want to talk about eschatology because it’s “controversial” and “divisive.” It shouldn’t be. Jesus talked about it a lot. The disciples were eager to hear and asked Jesus to explain it. They had a long sit-down. (Matthew 24-25). The last things are not complicated, and in my opinion, are laid out pretty clearly in scripture. In any case, for people who hold opposite interpretations, (and only one can be right) we can and should share in the joy of our eager anticipation of Jesus’s return and our glorified state.

I read this article from Challies, his book review of a Dayton Hartman’s book Jesus Wins:

It’s ironic and more than a little pathetic that a doctrine as glorious and comforting as Christ’s impending return has been a source of such vehement disagreement among Christians.

I do not agree with the author’s premise that we should all return to the common eschatology expressed in the Apostle’s Creed, (which is watered down and amenable to everyone from Catholics to Unitarians to Ecumenical partnerships). Nor do I agree with Hartman that the exact details are unimportant (they are crucial because the details are the difference between hope and fear, AND because the Spirit wrote them down). “Jesus Wins” isn’t enough, not when those details are given to us for a hope and-

so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Paul urged the brethren to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). The teachings to which he refers are the Gospel, of course, and also the eschatological teachings Paul is reminding them of in 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians.

‘Jesus Wins’, yes, but how? Why? In what manner? Reducing your eschatology to ‘Jesus wins’ is like saying all one needs to know about the Son is that “He died and rose again.” There’s so much more!

Speak of the glories of His victory, diligently study the last things so you will know, and proclaim His last days plans to one and all. Don’t settle for a simplistic ‘Jesus Wins.’ There is so much more to it than that, and all of it glorious. Fight for it!

Here are 7 Reasons Your Church Should Take Eschatology Seriously

It is concerning that some churches today don’t take eschatology seriously. The very fact that God has revealed so many details about events to come in both testaments tells us that it is important. At the center of biblical eschatology is the blessed hope of the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Not only should we be interested in prophetic events to come, we are also looking for our Savior, with whom we will spend eternity.

The 7 reasons are short and easy to read. Enjoy!
4 aseity thursday

Posted in prophecy, theology

The Power of Abuse and the Necessity of True Hope

By Elizabeth Prata

When you’re a kid in an abusive home, the number one feeling is uncertainty. The abused child is uncertain that this is the way things are supposed to be. One is unsure. Is this love, when daddy hits me? Is this what love is when mommy neglects me? They tell you they love you, but then act in ways that don’t seem loving. How do other families do it? The child doesn’t know, the other family is behind closed doors. When the child visits the other families, they seem nice. But then again, so does the kid’s family when other people visit the abusive home.

When you’re a kid in an abusive home, the number one feeling is uncertainty. The abused child is uncertain that this is the way things are supposed to be. One is unsure. Is this love, when daddy hits me? Is this what love is when mommy neglects me? They tell you they love you, but then act in ways that don’t seem loving. How do other families do it? The child doesn’t know, the other family is behind closed doors. When the child visits the other families, they seem nice. But then again, so does the kid’s family when other people visit the abusive home.

As the child grows, he or she becomes a little more sure that this dynamic isn’t the way that it’s supposed to be. Therefore what grows alongside the uncertainty is hope. As maturity forms, hope forms. The tween/teen/young adult thinks, I’m not sure this is the way things are supposed to be, but I hope tomorrow will be better. One hopes that tomorrow they’ll love me. They’ll stop hitting me. They’ll quit neglecting me. They won’t molest me anymore. Mommy won’t bully or belittle me. When they promise something, like a trip to the park or an ice cream, they really mean it this time; it will happen. The child hopes against hope that it will happen.

EPrata photo

The hope becomes a lifesaving ring but also an albatross. Each time the hope is dashed, one clings to it but it becomes more drenched with tears. And again, and again. The hope is battered and then one sad day, inevitably dashed. No trip to the park after all. Dad got mad and threw the ice cream cones to the ground. Mom wasn’t home to greet the kids after school again. The belt comes out, again. Tears drench the life ring, which becomes soggy and begins to sink.

The child cries, ‘Why are things like this?’ Why don’t parent have natural affection for their children? One thing the abused child knows is that parents are supposed to love their kids. This can’t be love. Is it? The abused wants to know what love IS…

The Bible says that in the end time, parents won’t have natural affection for their children.

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (2 Timothy 3:3 KJV).

The end time is the time between Jesus’ first coming and second coming. The end time is happening now. We’re in it.

This phrase “without natural affection” is the translation of one Greek word, astergeo. … The word stergeo (“natural affection”) is one of four Greek words for “love,” but it is never used at all in the New Testament. It refers to the natural love that members of the same family have for each other. It is such a common characteristic of all peoples that there was apparently no occasion to refer to it at all — except when it is not present, when people lose their instinctive love for their own parents and children, and thus are “without natural affection.” One thinks of the widespread abortionism of these last days, as well as the modern breakdown of the family in general. (Source: Institute for Creation Research)

The Christian mind does not want to, or can’t comprehend, the absence of natural affection from a parent to a child. It seems impossible that a parent does not love their child, batters them physically or emotionally, sometimes, just for fun. But it exists. The Bible says it does, our experience as social workers, police, teachers, shows that it does, the news reports illustrate that it does. But to the child, they simply don’t know why people who are supposed to love them actually do not.

John MacArthur has said that God uses three mechanisms to restrain sin in the unsaved: the individual conscience, the government’s laws, and the family. The family is basic to nurturing the God-instilled sense of right and wrong. Without that natural affection, there’s an absence of nurturing and cultivation of the conscience within the family. Society suffers a dreadful result.

EPrata photo

I think we are seeing that result in these days. The days and years ahead will be worse, I’m afraid. Any cycle, once reaching its tipping point, proceeds at an increased pace.The child with no footing will search for the love that is lacking in their nuclear home, making it easier for satan to lure the child/youth/adult into schemes and situations that are detrimental to him or her. He will try to find a substitute family that operates on a twisted cycle of love. Gangs become more attractive. Polyamorous relationships or even a cult will seem normal. The perversity of a kinky bondage Master/slave pairing will seem OK. Homosexual partners raising children. And so on.The horror of the end of the end times is pretty horrible. We see in movies and books, not to mention Revelation, the natural disasters and such that will go on, relentlessly. But the worse horror is a world full of twisted, perverse, emotionally stunted people with no conscience or sense of right and wrong.That’s the real horror.The beauty, the grace, the relief, is that God’s grace doesn’t stop. His Gospel in Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection now still has and always will have power to save the soul, revive the conscience, and enlarge the heart. Keep sharing. We know the times will get worse and worse. (2 Timothy 3:13). Fewer people will respond, but many will. God has ordained the times, and though we mourn the tragic life of those child en raised in homes without natural affection, the love of Jesus will pierce some of them and allow love to flow back in.Then they will eternally know the natural affection of the family of God, never to be offered conditionally, abused, or withdrawn ever again What a day that will be.

EPrata photo
Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Prophecy thoughts

Here are various thoughts on prophecy from me.

When men misuse the teachings of the Savior for their own evil ends it is a heinous thing to watch. It is written, “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;” (2 Peter 2:12).

God means what He says. He will not be used, abused, or mocked.

Apostasy is a brutal condition, far worse than most Christians think.

—————————–

Often, the bible will predict owls to come to roost on places that are waste places, or ruins, or uninhabited. Same with vultures and eagles. The picture that had formed in my mind of reading the articles related to the snowy owls coming to roost silently all over the US was the verse of the angel at the end of the Tribulation calling the birds to feast on the dead. It is called The Great Supper of God

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God,” Rev 19:17.

This moment is after Jesus bursts back onto earth on a white horse with His saints following, and slays all those hundreds of millions assembled at the battle of Armageddon. The angel then calls to the birds to come eat the dead.

Ezekiel 39:17 at the end of the Gog-Magog war depicts God’s use of His birds

Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood.”

—————————–

No matter how serious the news is, His constancy, His sovereignty, His plan, and His ways are Good. Even if you feel you do not have much to praise Him for, you DO! Seek ways to thank Him. He is active in our lives to the n-th degree. Nothing escapes His hand, from the most high work of salvation of souls, to the smallest sparrow’s needs. How much more, then, are YOU valuable to Him? (Matthew 6:25-26)

—————————–

Despite the Great Tribulation to come for the Jews, for the Middle East, for all those left behind who delayed their decision to repent and were not raptured, the LORD is merciful! He saves His people personally, from the first day to the last days invading Gog-Magog coalition. He says He will send mercy upon the Jews, look at this verse-

I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezekiel 39:29)

He will pour out His spirit. POUR. Not ration it out. Not mete it out. Not distribute it. Not send it. Not give it. POUR it. When you pour something it means “To stream or flow continuously or profusely.” The Hebrew word in use here means translated, “to gush”. That is what I mean by the LORD being merciful. He gives so freely, so copiously. He is good and gracious. He has not forgotten His people the Jews, nor will He forget His sheep living now on a fallen earth with terrible sins all around.

—————————–

JESUS IS COMING SOON! He has always been imminent. I pray you live with that imminence in your heart and mind.

Brethren, examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5.

It would be devastating to fail the test. How do you know that you are in the faith?

Because you are sensitive to sin.

Because when you are tested, your faith grows stronger, not weaker.

Because you bear forth fruit

How to detect a false conversion

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Eschatology is not a fringe field of study but it attracts a wacky fringe element

I get excited as anyone about the thought of the rapture happening any minute. It has always been imminent, meaning, it could happen at any time without any particular circumstance HAVING to have happened first. Not like during the Tribulation where there is a specific series of chronological events, one preceding the other. Interest in the future has always been high.

Unfortunately, the theological field of study of “Last Things”, also known as Eschatology, has fallen into disrepute over this last generation. I do my best to present credible essays which strive to demonstrate that eschatology should still be a major area of concern for Christians.

One reason the field of study has fallen in status is because so many people think nothing of twisting the scriptures and promoting wacky theories. Others set dates. When the date passes by without the projected event having occurred, the followers become defeated not just with eschatology but with Christianity in general. Pagans also love to make a mockery of us when this happens. The verse below prophesies the mocking of prophecy.

They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4).

Another reason eschatology has fallen to less than credible status are that the fringe elements simply adding craziness to it. Aliens, conspiracy theories, and a heavy focus on interpreting signs and omens in current events all add to the pot which in turn adversely affects perceptions of the field.

A reader in all sincerity sent me a link to an article that seemed to explain certain aspects of the rapture with which she was unfamiliar. She was questioning it and wanted to know my take. I appreciate these kinds of questions because it’s encouraging to know that people think and question about these sources.

The author of the piece is a woman who writes at a website called Cross and Cutlass. She made many statements that were assertive in their dogmatism. When this happens it often confuses people, because dogmatic statements in print seem credible just for being dogmatic. It’s the old, “If it’s in print, it must be true” notion.

Here are some of her statements.

Originally, God set up the constellations to reflect the Gospel. Many people don’t know this, and I have only recently discovered this.

Warning #1. Whenever you see someone saying that an interpretation has been ‘hidden’ for thousands of years, and only recently discovered, run. The Bible isn’t a code, it’s not a secret, and it’s not unknowable until some lone person in a corner of the internet makes a “new discovery.” The Holy Spirit has been illuminating the Bible for millennia. The standard interpretations are the correct ones. It’s called church history, preaching the Gospel, and hermeneutics.

Warning #2. There are no scripture verses to support her statement that God set up the constellations to reflect the Gospel. Instead, she uses a hundred-year-old book as her source called The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger. I’ll provide a link below from the Creation Research Institute debunking Bullinger’s “Gospel in the Constellations” theory.

Listen. Scholars over the last two thousand years didn’t ALL fail to look up and notice the Gospel in the constellations. If it’s a new theory, it is almost a sure bet that it’s wacky, wrong, or based on twisted scripture and a poor hermeneutic. I’m talking to you Jonathan “Isaiah 9 Harbinger” Cahn and John “Blood Moons” Hagee.

The author of the wacky eschatological piece also claimed the following;

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.  Revelation 12:1-2
The woman here is the constellation Virgo, the Virgin, who every Biblical scholar says represents Israel. In fact, Israel in Biblical days was well aware of these constellations and their meanings. Even as far back as Enoch.

Warning #3. Again we have a dogmatic statement with no proof: “the woman here is the constellation Virgo…” Then the author adds her connection to truth by incorrectly referencing scripture. She changed Virgo to virgin, which the scripture nowhere indicates. The Greek word for woman in the verse she cited means “woman, wife, lady.” As a wife, she would most assuredly NOT be a virgin, which the scripture actually indicates, The woman is, in fact, giving birth to a child. So, #hermeneuticfail.

The author goes on offering what seem like credible evidences but are actually tangential or made-up or just plain ridiculous. Like this statement:

Now, let’s move to Virgo being in labor. Jupiter was known by the Jews as the planet Messiah or the King planet. Jupiter enters the womb of Virgo every 12 years. Only every 83 years does it stay in the womb of Jupiter for the full period of a human pregnancy.

Be very cautious when people use constellations as their guide to prophecy. It is a satanic corruption. Astrology is an abomination to God. The Institute for Creation Research makes some excellent points regarding the constellations as a guide to the Gospel. Here are just a few of their good points, and the full explanation under each point is at the link:

The “Gospel in the Stars” Theory1) There is no uniform zodiac constellation. [in cultures across the world]
2) There is no uniform message behind the stars. As in the case of astrology, the star-formed zodiac signs can be assigned whatever meaning the interpreter decides upon; the purported messages behind the signs are completely arbitrary.
3) The message of the stars is out sequence.
4) There is no biblical evidence to support GIS. Bullinger cites a number of Bible verses that have nothing to do with stars revealing the gospel. For instance, he interprets the word “constellation” (Mazzaroth in Hebrew and Lucifer in the Latin Vulgate) in Job 38:32 as the twelve signs of the zodiac when, in fact, the precise meaning of the term remains uncertain.

I also wrote about horoscopes, i.e.interpreting the stars via their positions in the sky, and other omens/oracles, which forbidden to do.

GotQuestions has a good article about astrology.

Please be careful when following a website or teacher or preacher who is presenting explanations about Last Things. The fringe element is growing every day, with wacky theories, conspiracies, astrology, omens and signs.

I have found that one of the best expositors of the book of Revelation is John MacArthur. There are several other men I’d point you to, who do a good job with prophecy and explaining the scriptures regarding prophecy, like S. Lewis Johnson and James Montgomery Boice (who is excellent on the Book of Daniel!). The MacArthur sermons contain either audio or video AND transcripts. S. Lewis Johnson’s sermons are transcribed too. Boice is good, too. Also solid on eschatology are Phil Johnson and Martyn Lloyd Jones and Dan Duncan at Believers Chapel, all of whom are on the web.

Sad to say I do not recommend RC Sproul on eschatology. Though I do listen to him on the topics of holiness, justification, and beauty, I do not trust his hermeneutic on eschatology. He is a preterist, a stance that believes that all or most prophecies were fulfilled in 70AD at the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. If one is a partial preterist they believe most of the prophecies were fulfilled. Further, preterists believe that Revelation’s language is only figurative. Though it is heavily symbolic, scripture interprets scripture and the correct interpretation CAN become known. Just not to preterists, I guess! I feel strongly about this. I use a reference from Randall Otto’s review of Sproul’s book as a punctuation to my feelings on preterism and eschatological hermeneutic overall.

Randall Otto reviewed Sproul’s eschatological stance as a preterist when Otto reviewed Sproul’s book The Last Days According to Jesus, thus,

One can only marvel at the hermeneutical duplicity at work here and the way it ravages genre analysis. By means of such a hermeneutic any text could be made to say anything. The recognition of genre types provides bases for how to understand a text. Seeing similarities in form and content to other texts enables the interpreter to view a text differently than if those similarities went unnoticed. By applying to the text the potential extrinsic genre-types, “the interpreter eventually determines the intrinsic, originally intended genre and thereby is able to utilize the correct ‘rules’ for understanding that text.” [12] The elasticity with which these “rules” are applied to such texts elicits a problematic inconsistency vis-a-vis the parousia.

So sadly, even within conservative and evangelical corners of the faith, misinterpretations in eschatology occur. Yet, last things are not unknowable. MacArthur said,

I’m seeing this world unravel. There doesn’t seem to be any way back. I mean this is totally out of control. This is a free fall down a black hole. So, you can’t just say, “Well, eschatology doesn’t matter.” That is not helpful. People want answers. Where is this thing going? It’s not fair to God, it’s a dishonor to God to say, “Well, the Bible is not clear.” It is clear. It is absolutely clear.

Here is an example of that clarity, even on eschatological matters. After the Soviet Union fell and the split-off nations came into existence, each with freedoms and openness to religion, 1,600 pastors in Kazakhstan asked Dr MacArthur to come and teach them. He spent 7 days a week, 8 hours a day teaching, for two weeks. The pastors wanted one entire day on Revelation so MacArthur went through the book systematically from start to finish. At the conclusion of chapter 22, the pastors said,

“You believe what we believe.” I said, “I believe what you believe?” Same Bible. Guess what? It’s so clear that people with no training, no seminary, and no commentaries could understand what the book of Revelation said.

Some things are difficult to understand. I’m not saying I have everything figured out. I can’t understand the Daniel verses referring to the Beast, or how the Last Days verses across the OT like Amos and Obadiah fit together in the grand picture, etc. But if  I studied for a long time and referred to credible commentaries and prayed and was patient, I could by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Peter mentioned that some verses were hard to understand when referring to some of Paul’s writing on eschatological topics.

He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing. (2 Peter 3:16-17).

The context of Peter’s comment is the end of days, when the earth is to be dissolved and a new earth established. That’s the ‘such matters’ Peter is referring to. Peter says he understands when Paul writes of these matters that some parts are hard to understand, but not impossible because it is the unstable who twist them. If you are not unstable, by default, you already know the truth, and Peter urges us to stand on it, and not be carried away.

I think the best way to handle prophecy, especially the next one to be fulfilled (rapture!) is to study the Bible, which keeps us joyous in troubling times, listen to credible expositors preach the verses, and stay out of fringe end time groups online.  We should also keep an expectation of imminence about us, and to stop looking for signs. It only promotes defeatism when the signs inevitably pass without fulfillment, and it destroys the credibility of the study of eschatology itself.

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Psychological impact of the Tribulation: people will literally be scared to death

OVERVIEW OF END TIME PROPHECY

In my essay yesterday about Why We Should Value Prophecy, I laid out some reasons why prophecy is just an important kind of biblical literature as other types of biblical literature, such as Law, History, Poetry, Wisdom, or Gospel. I also laid out some thoughts as to the purpose of prophecy.

By now (in 2016) most of the past prophecies have been fulfilled. There is one prophecy that has not been completely fulfilled however, and that is the bundle of prophecies relating to the time of the end of the end. We are in the end time. We have been in the end time since Jesus ascended, and will be until He returns in glory and judges all things, completes his 1000 year reign on earth, and then dissolves the Universe in a fervent heat and makes all things new. The prophecies remaining to be fulfilled describe all things through the end of Revelation 22, which include the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom, Satan Released for the Last Battle, and the New Heavens and New Earth.

I’d said a moment ago that the prophecies relating to the end time have not been completely fulfilled. Many of the prophecies are in a state of being fulfilled, while others are definitely not happening yet. Prophecies relating to the end time describe the symptoms of this long stretch of time between the two comings of Jesus. So while the prophecy of Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are describing general conditions during this wide swathe of time, the specific prophecies of certain events have not occurred. That’s the interesting thing about prophecy. One prophecy can have a dual fulfillment, a far fulfillment, a discrete, one-time fulfillment, or a continual fulfillment.

Since it has been a long while since the last fulfilled prophecy, Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection, people may become lulled into a sense of security and mock the end time prophecies and judgments. Even this is prophesied! Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:3-4,

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. “Where is the promise of His coming?” they will ask. “Ever since our fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation.”

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF THE END TIMES

The nature of sin and the end time are inextricably intertwined. The reason for the prophecies of the end of time are because of sin. Ever since Adam sinned in the Garden and man lost his position of pure fellowship with God, as humans and as a world, we have been in a continual state of devolvement and uncreation. Since the moment Eve bit the fruit and gave some to her husband, who was with her, (Genesis 3:6) all events have been working toward the end of God’s plan. It began with one sin and it will end with all sin.

Sin is the reason for the end time. Because the end time events are about judgment for sin.

We downplay sin. We have respectable sins. We sin and do not repent. As a church we do not regard the spiritual battles with enough fervor. Where is the David tearing his clothes and crying out to God? Where is the city like Nineveh crying out for mercy in sackcloth and ashes from the king down to the lowliest slave? Where are the pray-ers and fast-ers interceding in the battle? Where is the concern for holiness in the church? Not that there aren’t any, but the general trajectory of sin is that it tries with unceasing vigilance to corrupt our hearts and our churches. We already know what unresolved sin does to the human mind of the unsaved person- he is a total slave to it. Their minds are corrupt.

So that is the time of the end. More and more people will be totally corrupted by total sin, and not care.

This will make for an insane society. (Romans 1:28-32, Genesis 6:5, Matthew 24:37). We already see the effects of so much sin on human civilization. It can’t be refuted that civilization of these days has hurtled down the road of libertinism, depravity, murder, and more. Marriage, the first God-given institution, is being dismissed and redefined. Gender itself, a biological absolute from God, is also being corrupted by the doctors’ scalpel and the personal wills of depraved individuals. Life is not valued, ethical restrains are by the wayside, and the age-old cherished values of courage, personal duty, and honor are now old fashioned words, mocked by post-modernists.

And yet today’s depravity and sin-loving condition (Romans 1:32) is nothing, nothing to what is to come.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. (Matthew 15:19).

If all those things are in the heart and come out as we see now, what till the Tribulation be like when there is no restraint at all on mans’ proclivity to seek satan and his evil?! (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

I have tried and failed in past essays to bring to bear the totally depraved and horrific time the Tribulation will be. Because we often cannot or do not understand the nature of sin, we downplay the Tribulation’s evil, ghastly and grotesque condition. However it will be a time when men will simply go mad from what they see.

I’d read somewhere, I’m sorry I forget where, the verse from  Deuteronomy 28:34, a section called The Curses of Disobedience, a number of judgments to come upon the People. The the verse states,

so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see.

Men’s behavior will be so depraved that just looking at what is happening will cause a person to go insane. We don’t even know the half of what sin can do. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet. While the Deuteronomy verse describes an event that has already occurred and passed into history, it mirrors the conditions of the Tribulation. Calvin says of the Deuteronomy verse that,

He adds that there shall be no end to their affliction, until the magnitude of their calamities shall stupefy them.

Matthew Henry says of the verse,

To complete their misery, it is threatened that they should be put quite out of the possession of their minds by all these troubles 

Walvoord says of the verse,

The afflictions mentioned here result from defeat in battle. The military exemptions mentioned in 20:5–7 would be reversed without God’s protection (28:30). Livestock and children would be lost forever (vv. 31–32). Foreign armies would reap the benefit of the farmers’ hard work (v. 33). These devastating losses would produce insanity (v. 34) and painful boils (v. 35; cf. v. 27).

If men’s minds were not able to apprehend the effects of defeat in battle, what of their mental state when actual hell is loosed on earth? When sin reigns? Jesus foretold the following as regards the Tribulation:

  • Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; (Luke 21:26)
  • And upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; (Luke 21:25, KJV)
  • Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slaved and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)

The Tribulation period will be a time of extermination. God will exterminate sinners from the world as cockroaches in disgust and fury. Here is one pastor’s description:

Verse 26, “Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world.”

So we are in the end of the time of the Tribulation when the universe as we know it is being dramatically altered. And first is chaos before there is reconstruction. There’s only one way to deal with all of the things that happen which we went through last time, dismay among nations. The word in the Greek is sunoche and it’s only used one other time in the New Testament, it’s a rare word. It means anguish. It describes a kind of human emotion which is overwhelming and overpowering. It even could be translated severe anxiety. There is…there is a sense of terror and a sense of anxiousness that knows no bounds and no relief. It is compounded by perplexity. The word aporia only here in the New Testament. It’s as if the Holy Spirit uses words that define a time the likes of which has never existed and picks words that are very, very rare for such a rare time. Aporia, perplexity, it simply means confusion in its most severe form. 

Shock is so great that we are told that men are fainting from fear. And fainting is a rather benign way to translate another rare word used no where else in the New Testament, aposuche (?). What that word means is to breathe out or to expire. That’s another word for to die. People will be scared to death. People will be scared to death. People all over the world will die of terror because of what is happening and because what is happening they know will lead to further horrors. (Source)

Even with that, there is no way to describe it. No one would really want to, anyway. We often dwell on the depths of God’s love, knowing that we can’t truly comprehend such eternal, perfect, infinite love. Just so, we cannot really understand sin. It also is boundless, eternal, and utterly incomprehensible to its depths. We think we understand sin. We don’t. The Tribulation pagans and the saved will, because they will see it almost fully. Even then, they will not see what the nature of sin can do to its ends, because Jesus said that if He would not cut short the time, no flesh would be saved at all! (Matthew 24:22-23). Sin destroys utterly.

Prophecy isn’t a sphere of study for the prurient intellectual dabbler. It is a serious sphere given to us by the grace of God so we may answer the question Peter asked. He explained the coming end of time judgments and fulfillment of prophetic promises, and asked his flock the following:

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Peter made the connection between prophecy and holy living. Prophecy isn’t a distant realm of study for future generations to study. It’s present and it informs us in this day and ever day toward our holy pursuits. Knowing what is coming because we have the blessed advantage of peeking into to the future from God’s word, what sort of people are we to be?

My call is to urge us now, me included, to live in purity. Pursue holiness. Repent often, and in sincerity. Witness of Jesus and His truths. We do not want our best friend left behind. We do not want our worst enemy left behind. We praise Jesus for His soon return in glory and wrath, to render justice for sin. We know that is necessary. But we don’t have to ignore the prophecies, we don’t have to diminish the prophecies, we don’t have to be casual about the prophecies.

Keep this in mind: the truth of the last of the last days will be such that men’s brains will figuratively explode with incomprehensibility because of what they see.

Even so, come Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20).

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Three articles: Rise of the Tyrant, Who is God’s Candidate?, Things Are Bad!

Today’s essay brings you three different media on a similar topic: World Affairs. The first is from Robin Schumacher of The Confident Christian. Schumacher is a highly intelligent Christian writer and apologist who writes at The Christian Post. I always enjoy his articles. Recently he published an article about America’s decline, and the rise of the tyrant. His essay is titled Rise of the Tyrant.

The second is John MacArthur’s sermon, Who Is God’s Candidate?

The third is Pastor Nate Pickowicz and his Fire Away! podcast, this episode titled Things are Bad!

I posted Schumacher’s first because it grounds us in history. MacArthur’s is second because it gives a biblical overview and a celestial perspective. Pickowicz’s is third because of the Christian encouragement from scripture. The order I placed these will hopefully educate, strengthen the Christian’s biblical perspective, and encourage despite knowing the times in which we live are more chaotic each day.

Jesus ordains all things- even the disruptive and dizzying times in which we live. Schumacher wrote of it, MacArthur senses it, Pickowicz sees it, and we know it. Therefore I posted these resources in hopes that through each of their careful and restrained biblical lessons by mature pastors of the faith, we would be helped and calmed.

Continue reading “Three articles: Rise of the Tyrant, Who is God’s Candidate?, Things Are Bad!”