Posted in judgment, revelation

God’s Four Sore Judgments #4: Beasts

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

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

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

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

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

Vision of Death, Gustave Dore, 1865. Public domain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in judgment, pestilence, tribulation

God’s Four Sore Judgments #2- Plague

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this list of verses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a day that will be!

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

holy holy holy is the Lord verse

Introduction to God’s Four Sore Judgments

God’s Four Sore Judgments #1: Sword

Posted in theology

God’s Four Sore Judgments: #1: Sword

By Elizabeth Prata

Introduction
#1: Sword
#2: Plague

#3 Famine
#4: Beasts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you drifting toward only wanting your ears tickled?

By Elizabeth Prata

This essay first appeared on The End Time in November 2010.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Do you notice that word “endure”? The verse does not say “they will not like sound doctrine…” It does not say “they will not enjoy sound doctrine…” It doesn’t even say “they will not accept sound doctrine.” It uses the word endure. When you endure something, you writhe. You wish you were not there in the midst of it. If anyone has ever undergone physical therapy, you know that you have to endure it but if you could you would shoot out of the gym so fast you’d be like a speeding bullet. If anyone has ever had to get a root canal, you know that you endure it. You do not seek it, you do not like it, and if you could, you go away from it.

That is the process by which lukewarm Christians, fake Christians, and unholy pastors feel about the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. To be sure, the true Gospel of the Risen Savior is full of warm fuzzies. He loves us. (John 13:1). He prospers us. (2 Corinthians 9:8). He sends angels to us. (Hebrews 1:14). But the True Gospel is also full of truth, the unpalatable truth that the iniquitous lawless cannot endure: we are sinners. (Psalm 51:5). Rejection of the remedy for your sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) means you will spend eternity in torment, apart from God. That there is nothing good in us. (Mark 10:18). That we are fallen, craven, and deserve judgment. No, they will not endure that. So they don’t.

Instead they seek teachers to tempt us with what the devil has always tempted us with, and tempted Jesus too: health, wealth, fame. (Luke 4:1-13). They may find it in some “preachers” and in some “churches”, but it is for a season. Hebrews 11:25). Most do not find prosperity in health, wealth and fame. The only ones becoming famous and rich are the false pastors who urge the hapless and desperate to send money.

In his series, “Toxic Television: Unmasking the Prosperity Gospel part 1” Bible teacher John MacArthur spends a few minutes below of his one-hour sermon (linked above) explaining why Joel Osteen is false, dangerous, and unholy. He also spends time explaining why the Trinity Broadcast Network is also false, dangerous and unholy. MacArthur says, Osteen “is a quasi-pantheist where Jesus is a footnote that satisfies his critics and deceives his followers.” As for Osteen’s book, MacArthur says ‘Your Best Life Now’, the title, is a dead giveaway. The only way you can have your best life now is if you’re going to hell.”

Toxic Television: Unmasking the Prosperity Gospel part 1

A watered down gospel removes the book-end to the parts that they seek love and only ‘love’. The missing book-end is judgment. They will not endure sound teaching of His holiness involving love but also including righteous judgment.

“I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
“They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. (Isaiah 45:23-24)

A watered down gospel that removes the other book-end is less filling but it tastes great. The Bible shows us that the True Gospel tastes great, and also the watered down false Gospel tastes great. In the verses telling us of Ezekiel’s commission,

Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ez 3:1-3).

The true word absorbed by submissive believers is sweet. But it is also sometimes accompanied by a bitterness felt by even the most beloved of followers, even the most obedient of disciples. Sometimes the true word is hard to hear and bitter even for believers, because it reveals to us the true state of our sinfulness, our sorrow over our sin, and the fate of those who refuse His hand, those mockers and scorners whom we mourn over-

I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.” (Rev 10:10)

The only way to endure the knowledge of judgment that is coming is to rest on His truth and His promises. Those who do not rest in that truth, bitter as it sometimes is, do not endure it. Not only have they stopped asking the Spirit for wisdom, but they simply stop ingesting the sweet Words of the LORD and they flee away, being unstable in all they do.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)

But we do endure! Paul said to in 2 Tim 2:3, 10. Peter said to in 1 Peter 2:20. The writer in Hebrews 12:7 advised us to endure. Endure what? Hardship. Beatings. Wrongdoing. Life. Hardship. Persecution. And there are those today who cannot sit still in a chair or a pew and ‘endure’ the Word of the Living God who loves them. They seek tickling instead. They are gaining the world only to lose their lives forever.

Has solid preaching become an endurance test for you? Or are the hard but truthful words uplifting to you and filling in every way? If you have recently changed churches because the pastor is “a little too Bible thumping for my taste”, or have drifted away from regular worship lately because the sermons are too long, too convicting, or demand endurance on the part of your deceitful heart, then ask yourself if you are really just trying to accumulate a teacher in accordance with your own desires, and are wanting your ears tickled with a less filling but great tasting sermon. If so, you may be at risk.

Why at risk? Because we all live forever in eternity in one of two places. The day will come when the eternity you are beginning will either not have the word endure associated with it, which is heaven, or it will have the word endure associated with it, for an eternity!

You may try to avoid enduring a convicting sermon from a ticklish teacher today, but the end result will be that you will have to endure an eternity separated from Him in torment. O, faithful one, let it not be so!

 

Posted in theology

On Every High Hill…

By Elizabeth Prata

‘Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD’.

For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. 24There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. (1 Kings 14:23-24).

Reading through 1 Kings is just killing me. I mourn, cry the sins of Israel & Judah, and then take a look at myself and my own sins and idols and mourn some more. We’re no different than the folks in that book, but when such abominable sins stain from the bottom right up to the top, the kings and rulers, it’s a sure course toward judgment, individually and nationally. And it sure came. Reading the book, remember this really happened. God really judged King Jeroboam and the result surely came to pass.

you also have done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back— 10therefore behold, I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person, both bond and free in Israel, and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam, as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone. 11″Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for the LORD has spoken it.'” (1 Kings 14:9-11).

I think I exclaimed out loud when I read it. Woe! Any individual failure to follow the commands of God resulted in judgment. Any failure of the nation to follow the commands of God resulted in judgment. Any failure of the Kings God had raised up to follow the commands of God resulted in judgment.

One part of the above verse in the chapters I read this morning really got to me: “on every high hill”. They worshiped their false gods by building altars and pillars and poles on the high places, which they thought brought them closer to heaven.

Do we individually here in America, or as a nation, or think our rulers and judges and governors will escape judgment as they not only turn their backs on God but applaud themselves for doing so? Here in America we have abominations ON EVERY HIGH HILL. Planned Parenthood facilities (baby killing stations), false religions welcomed and spoken of highly, homosexuality flags waving from high places and more and worse.

My friend Pastor Phil wrote this morning:

“In my reading of Romans 1:18-32, I believe we as a nation are not aware of that God’s judgment is upon us. How? First, God has given us over to the “lusts of our hearts.” Second, God has given us over to “dishonorable passions,” specifically homosexuality. Third, God has given us over to a “debased minds.” Moreover, those who give their approval to those who practice these unrighteous actions are just as guilty. The only hope for our nation and those who do not honor the Lord is to repent of these sins and to turn to Jesus Christ for His forgiveness and new life.”

I pray for individuals to be saved by being given the spirit of repentance, and I pray for leaders. But I also pray for the Lord to soon come. It’s hard to see so much sin & evil every day ON EVERY HIGH HILL.

But I am also grateful and joyful. He has given me eternal life. He has given me knowledge of the Savior. He has given me the mind of Christ, a mind that was once as debased as all the others on the high hill. He has given me life, joy, purpose, and illuminating wisdom from scripture.

As Paul ruminated, we are torn. We decry the evil that’s in the world, it feels almost like it must have to Noah, but again, we remain on earth to do His work and His will, which is also good. I’m grateful the world did not end before I myself was saved. Others being saved today and tomorrow and the next will no doubt feel the same. So as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21-24,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

I don’t know for whose sake He is keeping me here, lol. The work I do for Jesus is certainly not as significant as Paul’s was, but if the Lord is pleased to keep me here on earth to do His will and work, then I am relieved I have the Spirit to pray to for help in withstanding the woes and griefs and traps of the sin and evil all around.

What a Savior. His ways are transparent but inscrutable. This we know though: The evil on every high hill will not stand in the end. The idols and poles and altars will melt away and righteousness will reign. Jesus is higher than every high hill and His power exceeds the evil that satan can do. Hallelujah.

high hill

Posted in prophecy, theology

What are the Seven Thunders of Revelation?

By Elizabeth Prata

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

100_2097moon at sunset pixlr red sky
EPrata photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: The Terrible Duty of Truth

Our Bible Reading Plan for today brings us to some difficult Psalms, Psalms 9-11.

I love these Psalms where David exhorts to God for justice, for the wicked to perish, for nations that rebel to be put down.

In today’s loving and tolerant climate, such imprecations are seen as unworthy of the Christian.

But they’re not.

The wicked (as we all were, to be sure) who reject the kingship of Messiah and refuse to repent, do polluted things against our most Holy God. These things are evil, they are wrong, they are a grief and a cause for mourning in the Christian that our God should have mud splattered on His holy name. We concentrate so long on the wicked person, praying for salvation, urging repentance, we forget the reason we do these things is to proclaim the name of Jesus among men and urge men everywhere to repent of the evil they do against Him.

I’m with John MacArthur when he said in his book Found: God’s Will:

“If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for a while.” John Macarthur

In today’s Psalm, David said

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. (Psalm 9:17)

O, terrible thought! It gives me no delight to proclaim the fact of hell and the individual’s sure condemnation of those who reject Jesus. It gives no consolation to know that nations will fall into the lake of fire to remain trapped in punishing fire for all eternity. Yet Spurgeon said it so well,

Many of God’s ministers have been accused of taking pleasure in preaching upon this terrible subject of “the wrath to come.” Indeed we would be strange beings if so doleful a subject could afford us any comfort. I should count myself to be infinitely less than a man, if it did not cause me more pain in speaking about the impending sentence of condemnation, than it can possibly cause my hearers in the listening to it.

God’s ministers, I can assure you, if they feel it to be often their solemn duty, feel it always to be a heavy burden to speak about the terrors of the law. To preach Christ is our delight; to uplift his Cross is the joy of our heart; our Master is our witness, we love to blow the silver trumpet, and we have blown it with all our might. But knowing the terror of the Lord, these solemn things lie upon our conscience, and while it is hard to preach about them, it would be harder still to bear the doom which must rest upon the silent minister…

Reminding the world of the wrath to come is part of the terrible duty of truth. We stand firm in it.

duty 2
Photo EPrata

Posted in prophecy

When a sweet smell is foul

Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it. What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me. (Jeremiah 6:19-20).

The LORD had instituted incense offerings which can be seen in Exodus 30:7-8; Exodus 30:34; 2 Chronicles 13:11. According to Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, from 1897, we read of incense that the sacrifices were

a fragrant composition prepared by the “art of the apothecary.” It consisted of four ingredients “beaten small” (Exodus 30:34-36). That which was not thus prepared was called “strange incense” (30:9). It was offered along with every meat-offering; and besides was daily offered on the golden altar in the holy place, and on the great day of atonement was burnt by the high priest in the holy of holies (Exodus 30:7 Exodus 30:8). It was the symbol of prayer (Psalms 141:1 Psalms 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3 Revelation 8:4). Source Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

A Renaissance era pomander container. Source

In today’s verse from Jeremiah we read that the LORD had become angry with a sweet smelling offering that was devoid of obedience and love for His law. An empty sweet smelling fragrance would do nothing to satisfy Him or render the giver justified in any way. It’s ineffective. Instead, such an empty sacrifice incurs wrath.

The notion of ineffective perfumes reminded me of the 14th century bubonic plague remedy. People were told to carry pomanders, which were perfume balls containing herbs, flowers, and spices, either around their neck or in their hand, and to sniff it constantly so as to ward off the disease.

Pomanders are traditionally mixtures of fragrant substances which are often held within a container – although the term can also be applied to the container itself. The odours given off by the mixtures were once believed to offer protection against disease and they are particularly associated with times of plague, from the 1300s onwards. Their use is linked to centuries-old miasma theories which suggested that disease was transmitted through foul-smelling air. Keeping a sweet-smelling pomander close by was believed to offer protection.

Miasma theory posited that disease was carried by a cloud of poisonous vapor in the air, which was created by decay and could be identified by a bad smell. Following the logic that bad smelling air carried disease, it makes perfect sense that you could “cure” the air by making it smell good. Hence the perfume. And the long nose to stuff good smelling material into.

It seems silly to think that a perfume ball containing a few herbs and sweet-smelling spices would protect one from bubonic plague! But just as silly were the Jews who thought that they could disobey Him all day long and at the end offer the Lord God a sweet smelling offering and everything would be all right. Such empty fragrances do nothing to ward off the disease of sin. Nor would they protect one from wrath and judgment.

So what would satisfy His wrath and stay His judgment?

Thus says the LORD:
Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls
(Jeremiah 6:16)

The good way is traveling the road of His word. It pleases the LORD and it gives rest to the rebellious soul. We also would do well to inquire as to where the good paths are, and walk on them. The sweetest scent of all is obedience.

————————————

Note: Tomorrow- the link between incense and prayer

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: He will open the door and He will close the door

This essay was first published on The End Time in December 2011.

Do you take the Lord’s power and grace for granted? Have you diminished His Holiness in your mind? Many people in this day and age have. How do I know? They think the Lord will somehow relent, and allow everyone into heaven after all. Or that His mercy is so great and so wide that they will be forgiven, even if they do not know Jesus. Jesus will not relent. His decision is final, and His decrees are sure. If you do not know Jesus on the day you die, you will be cast into hell. If you do not know Jesus on His day of wrath, if you die you will be cast into hell.

Even saying such a thing in this day and age seems like a revolutionary act. People chide us Christians who flatly declare the truth from the Word, that He will not relent. “Our God is a loving God,” they exclaim. “He would never do that!” Well, Remember rebellious Korah who was swallowed by the earth? Remember Uzzah who touched the ark? Remember Ananias and Sapphira, who blasphemed the Spirit by lying to the Apostle? Jesus will not relent, because He is the door.

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9).

He is the only One who opens the door.

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:8).

He is the One who shuts the door.

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. (Genesis 7:16).

When the ark was filled He shut the door and the rest of the world was judged. And so it will be again, for the unaware.

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ (Matthew 25:10-12)

He is the King of the Kingdom and it is He who says who enters and who doesn’t. He is the Door. Right now the door is open to all who would repent. It will be shut at the rapture. Not that anyone cannot be saved after the rapture, but with the door shut, you are in the cold, hard world and exposed to believing the lie.

and with all the deceit of unrighteousness in those who perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11)

Enter now while the door is open. Repent and believe the truth: that Jesus is resurrected Lord and He is the only way to enter the Kingdom. He speaks the truth, and when He says that judgment is coming, believe it. The time will come when the door will be shut. As it says in Isaiah 26:20- “Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is past.”

While the door was open, they did not listen and believe in Noah’s day:

Sinners before the Flood, 1594 Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
After the Flood, Circa 1588 Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem

This is what Judgment looks like:

The deluge, Léon Comerre  (1850–1916) 

This is what grace looks like:

Noah’s flood KAULBACH, Wilhelm von (1805-1874)

How so? you ask. How is this grace? The serpents are writhing, the people are dying! Well, don’t focus on the serpents and the people. It is one way we diminish His holiness and His mercy. Focus on Him and His protected righteous and the fact that His promises of salvation are sure. The angels ministering, the ark itself was a lengthy warning to the same people who are now crying for the door to be opened. “Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is past.” He made a way for the righteous to be saved!

Please answer His call, and repent!

Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.'” (Luke 13:25)

Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9)