Posted in theology

The Great Cities of the Bible #2: Babylon

By Elizabeth Prata

Great Cities of the Bible #1: Damascus
Great Cities of the Bible #2: Babylon
Great Cities of the Bible #3: Rome
Great Cities of the Bible #4: Jerusalem

Ruins at Babylon. By Osama Sarm – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Babylon. City of mystery, history, prophecy. The very name Bab-iliu means “the gate of the gods” in Akkadian, which is the oldest recorded Semitic language and the most common language of the ancient Near East until the eighth century BC.

It was founded on the great river, Euphrates, about 200 miles north of where the Euphrates joins the Tigris and drains into the Persian Gulf, two of the 4 great rivers flowing out of Eden to “water the garden”. (Genesis 2:14).

Babylon was a sacred site dedicated to the (false) god Marduk, the city’s patron god. Often Marduk’s name is included with the title ‘Bel’ to Marduk’s name to indicate supremacy of all the gods. The city’s inhabitants celebrated Marduk at the start of their new year with a festival noting his ascension as king of all gods and his seating in his temple in the city.

Marduk was mentioned in the Bible in Jeremiah 50:1–2 where Yahweh ordered Jeremiah to declare:

Babylon has been captured;
Bel has been put to shame; Marduk has been shattered;
Her images have been put to shame; her idols have been shattered.’

For two thousand years Babylon dominated Mesopotamia.

The Lexham Bible Dictionary indicates that Babylon was a “cultural and political center of Mesopotamia during much of the second and first millennia BC. Located in modern-day Iraq along one branch of the Euphrates River, about 59 miles southwest of Baghdad.

Babylon Past

Throughout the entire Bible, Babylon stands as a dominating presence as an actual historical empire but also as a symbol of spiritual apostasy and evil opposition to God and His people. Its name Babel is first found in Genesis 11:9,

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth’

Babylon is the Greek form of the name Babel. Babylon began its ascent in 2300 BC to greatness but really exploded in cultural and architectural wonders during the reign of Hammurabi in 1792 BC, the sixth king of his line. During his reign and later his son’s reign, numerous temples were built and irrigation channels were excavated. King Hammurabi also conquered all of the surrounding cities, including the famous city of “Ur” where Abraham had lived centuries before.

Hammurabi (standing) receiving his royal insignia from Shamash (or possibly Marduk) By Mbzt – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

But like many cities, Babylon then began to decline, and this up and down swing continued until Assyria was finally defeated. It then reached another pinnacle during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II and entrenched itself as one of the most important cities in the Near East.

“The empire had been founded by Nebuchadnezzar’s father Nabopolassar (r. 625-605 BCE) after his victories over the Assyrian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar II would go on to even greater things, including the capture of Jerusalem in 597 BCE. The Babylonian king then set about making his capital one of the most splendid cities in the world”. Source World History Encyclopedia

A reconstruction of the blue-tiled Ishtar Gate, which was the northern entrance to Babylon. It was named for the goddess of love and war. Bulls and dragons, symbols of the god Marduk, decorated the gate.
By Rictor Norton –, CC BY 2.0,

Hanging Gardens

The most famous of these improvements to the city were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, “ancient gardens considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and thought to have been located near the royal palace in Babylonsays Encyclopedia Britannica. Though no one is quite sure where they were within the city, there were enough descriptions of them in classical literature to know that they likely existed, though no one is exactly sure of what they looked like.

The Gardens were said to be ‘hanging’ because perhaps they were perhaps on a tall ziggurat with terraces, “were set upon vaulted terraces. They were also described as having been watered by an exceptional system of irrigation and roofed with stone balconies on which were layered various materials, such as reeds, bitumen, and lead, so that the irrigation water would not seep through the terraces.”

A short video about the Gardens-

In Daniel 4:30 we read the perhaps most famous story about Babylon, where King Nebuchadnezzar admires his city from his palace rooftop, saying “‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal house by the strength of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”

Barnes’ Notes says: “He greatly enlarged the city; built a new city on the west side of the river; reared a magnificent palace; and constructed the celebrated hanging gardens; and, in fact, made the city so different from what it was, and so greatly increased its splendor, that he could say without impropriety that he had “built” it.

Yet…the very next verse says that King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and self-glorification was a mistake.

While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

The city “under Nebuchadnezzar, who died B.C. 561 after a reign of forty-three years, attained great splendour. In the reign of Belshazzar the capital was taken by Darius the Median (Dan. 5:25–31), who entered it unexpectedly at the head of an army of Medes and Persians, as Isaiah (21:1–9) and Jeremiah (51:31) had predicted some 170 years before. Then began the decay and ruin of this proud city, and the kingdom of Babylon became a part of the Persian empire. In course of time the “great city” became “heaps,” and “an astonishment, and a hissing, without an inhabitant (Jer. 51:37–58).

“Many of the Jews who had been carried captive to Babylon remained there, notwithstanding the decree of Cyrus. After the destruction of Jerusalem there was established at Babylon a school of Jewish learning of great repute.” SourceEaston’s (1893) In Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History.

Babylon future

Babylon is mentioned in Revelation numerous times. We read in Revelation 14:8, “and another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality.

Babylon was not only a city in history, not only an empire that rose & fell, but the name Babylon is also figurative of an evil commercial-governmental system and an evil spiritual system.

Roy Gingrich interprets both the actual and the symbolic nature of Babylon:

“The fall of Babylon (Rev 14:8)-

“(1) The announcement—Another angel (other than the one in verse 6) announces the soon coming fall of Babylon. The “Babylon” mentioned here is not the religious system of chapter 17 -that “Babylon” was destroyed at the mid-point of “The Seventieth Week”. The “Babylon” mentioned here is the capital city of the political-religious-commercial system of chapter 18, which city and system will be destroyed when the Seventh bowl is poured out. God destroys her because she made the nations drink “the wine of the wrath of her fornication,” that is, because she caused them to commit spiritual fornication, which is punished by God’s wrath.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (p. 69). Riverside Printing.

Gingrich continues-

The destruction of religious “Babylon” as an ecclesiastical system, chapter 17. In the days of Nimrod, Gen. 10:8–12, and his wife, Semiramis, around 200 years after the Flood, two great systems came into existence, a God-defiant political system and a God-defiant religious system, the one founded by Nimrod and the other founded by Nimrod through his wife, Semiramis. These two systems are often called Political Babylon and Religious Babylon because they had their beginnings in Babylon, the one in the building of the city of Babylon and the other in the building of the tower of Babylon. The city of Babylon is the symbol of organized political rebellion against God and the tower of Babylon is the symbol of organized religious rebellion against God.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (pp. 76–77). Riverside Printing

“These two systems in varying forms, have continued on side by side down through the centuries, hating one another but for the sake of self-advancement, exchanging favors with one another. During the Middle Ages, these two systems were seen in the Holy Roman Empire and in the Roman Catholic Church. Today, they are seen in the United Nations Organization and in the Ecumenical Church Movement. During the first half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, they will be seen in the Revived Roman Empire [“the Scarlet-colored beast,” Rev. 17:3] and in the rejected Lacodicean church] [“the great whore,” Rev. 17:1]. It is very helpful in understanding Rev., chap. 17, to know that “the scarlet-colored beast” and “the great whore” of chapter 17 are the final forms of two great God-defiant systems which have been in existence for over 3,000 years.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (pp. 76–77). Riverside Printing.

–end Gingrich quote

Babylon both actual and spiritual offer many lessons for us. Whenever I think of Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” I often think of ‘Babylon & Jerusalem’. In the NT Babylon is always mentioned negatively, as a seat of evil, ungodly power. It signifies the world and its forces in opposition to God. It is often contrasted with “New Jerusalem”, in which God will finally reign supreme with no opposition ever again.

We will live in the city GOD built, not a city made by man like Assyria’s Damascus, Caesar’s Rome or Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. It will be a pure city, devoid of anything detracting from the glory of Jesus and his Light.

Babylon present

Whatever became of the actual, historical city of Babylon? It no longer really exists. It is a ruin, though it was opened to tourists again in 2009. There is not much to see. It is estimated that only about 5% of the old city has been excavated.

Babylon would stay under the Persian Empire’s rule for two centuries before Alexander the Great then conquered Babylon in 331 BC. He had plans to make Babylon the capital of his empire but died there in 323 BC before his dream came into reality. Alexander’s generals divided his empire among themselves immediately after his death. This is how general Seleucus obtained the historical city of Babylon. Not long after, he moved most of the population to his new capital Seleucia, which left the city decaying and deserted. Source

Will Babylon the city rise again? Only the Lord knows. Babylon the metaphor for an economy and an ecclesiastical system will indeed rise again to uncontested dominance, and be part of the major events prophesied to occur in the future, if the Babylonian system even can be said to have disappeared in the first place. Yet “Babylon” actual and Babylon figurative will finally be squashed in the future when Revelation events occur and Jesus’ wrath wipes out the evil system. The Lord as always, reigns supreme.

There will be no king looking out from his own rooftop and congratulating himself on his achievements. There will be no pagan priests celebrating a false god on a mythical throne. There will be no garden except the one the LORD himself planted, meaning, the world. It will be pure, verdant, and full of peoples who acknowledge Jesus as the supreme Lord of Lords and King of Kings. What a day that will be!

Posted in theology

The Great Cities of the Bible #1: Damascus

By Elizabeth Prata

Great Cities of the Bible #1: Damascus
Great Cities of the Bible #2: Babylon
Great Cities of the Bible #3: Rome
Great Cities of the Bible #4: Jerusalem

This begins a 4-part look at some of the Great Cities of the Bible. Cities are cities, but they are also seats of Empires, also they can be backdrops or even characters in the Biblical narrative. I chose the cities of Damascus, Babylon, Rome, and finally, Jerusalem to take a closer look at.

Damascus is one of the first cities mentioned in the Bible and the oldest continuously lived-in city in the world. Babylon dominated the Near East during its time, but also is symbolic of the struggle since the Fall of man vs. God. Its backdrop flows from Genesis to Revelation! Rome was at its height during the New Testament times, was the site of 4 Epistles written there, and perhaps will be at another height again if the prophecy about a Revived Empire will indeed be Rome as many interpret. And of course I chose Jerusalem because God set His name upon it, and it will be remade new as our eternal future home!

Modern Day Damascus is in Syria. It is the capital of Syria, and people have been living there since about 8000BC. When the Arameans arrived in about 3000 BC it went from villages to a notable city. That’s old!

We may think of that area of Asia as dry and dusty desert, but Damascus is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, as well as being ancient and notable. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. To be sure, its dry and desert-y east is bordered by the Syrian-Arab desert and the west is bordered by the mountains of Lebanon. The mountains bar much rain from dropping on Syria. The mighty Euphrates, which represents more than 80 percent of Syria’s water resources, flows through far to the east of Damascus. Therefore, for Damascus to stay hydrated, the even more important river Barada River is the river on which the city of Damascus relies. Irrigation from the Barada River by aqueducts built during Roman times helps things along.

This river is divided into numberless channels and is distributed throughout Damascus and the region immediately about it. In almost every house there is a fountain, and one can stand still almost anywhere and listen to the murmur of the hidden streams that pass under and through the city. Source: Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, p. 274.)
Barada river, Damascus. Shadi Hijazi photo, CC use

Barada is identified as Abana. This river is mentioned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 5:12), when Naaman argued that its waters would be better than the Jordan for curing his leprosy.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia for the ‘Abanah’ AKA Barada says-

A few miles southeast of Suk Wady Barada the volume of the stream is more than doubled by a torrent of clear, cold water from the beautifully situated spring ‛Ain Fijeh (Greek, “fountain”), after which it flows through a picturesque gorge till it reaches Damascus, whose many fountains and gardens it supplies liberally with water. In the neighborhood of Damascus a number of streams branch off from the parent river, and spread out like an opening fan on the surrounding plain”.

Speaking of those gardens, we read from the 1894 book “Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles”:

“No wonder the Moslems look upon Damascus as an earthly paradise. It is encompassed by gardens and orchards. These cover an area of over twenty-five miles in circumference. Here grow olive, fig, walnut, apricot, poplar, palm, cypress and pomegranate trees. In the above view we have a scene taken from the Jerusalem road in the western part of the city, and looking to the north a ridge of Anti-Lebanon is seen straight before us. In the richness of its soil, in the salubrity and semi-tropical character of its climate, in its varied vegetation, we find the reason for the constant association of Damascus with the thought of gardens.”

“It has been for four thousand years a garden. It is surrounded for miles with this splendor of verdure. Its gardens and orchards and far-reaching groves, rich in foliage and blossoms, wrap the city around like a mantle of green velvet powdered with pearls. The apricot orchards seem to blush at their own surpassing loveliness, and the gentle breezes that rustle softly through the feathery tops of the palms are laden with the perfume of the rose and the violet. Tristram, in his account of what he saw, says:”

“Tall mud walls extended in every direction under the trees, and flowing streams of water from the Barada everywhere bubbled through the orchards, while all was alive with the song of birds and the hum of bees. The great apricot trees were laden and bent down under strings of ripe golden fruit.” Whatever changes may be made by the hand of man in Damascus, whatever changes in government and in commercial activities, the city is sure to be for all time a paradise of fertility and beauty.”

In the Bible, Damascus is first mentioned in a casual comment in Genesis 14:15 (early!). It was the situation when Lot was taken prisoner and Abram had to go rescue him.

And he divided his men against them by night, he and his servants, and struck them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

Damascus is mentioned again in the very next chapter, Genesis 15:2. Abram noted that the only heir he had was his servant Eliezer. And Abram said, “O Lord Yahweh, what will You give me, as I go on being childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?

I mentioned the Arameans above, that Damascus in Syria didn’t become notable as a city until the Arameans settled it. According to Pulpit Commentary, “The Syrians of Damascus are known in the Hebrew, AramDammesek; that is, Aram-Damascus. The inhabitants of these regions and of Mesopotamia were descended from Aram, the son of Shem, son of Noah. (Genesis 10:22)”. See how old this region is? It is really amazing.

Damascus in mentioned frequently throughout the Old and New Testaments. Damascus played a major role in waging wars against Israel. From around 900 to 721 BC Syria was a terrible fearful opponent of Israel David was much occupied with subduing uprisings and incursions from Damascus, Syria throughout his Kingship. He eventually subjugated the Arameans but they rose again after the death of Solomon.

At various times, Israel and Judah made pacts with those who controlled Damascus (1 Kgs 15:18–20). War between Asa of Judah and Baasha of Israel led Asa to use the treasury of the temple and his personal wealth to pay for the support of Damascus against Israel (1 Kgs 15:19, 20).” Source The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

When you look at the city in terms of the entire history of the Old Testament, you see how much of a role the Lord had Damascus play in the intertribal wars, alliances, rising and falling of kingdoms, and all impacting the Israelites. In fact, Damascus and Israel joined forces around 734 BC to attack Judah. The war almost destroyed Jerusalem, and evil King Ahaz of Judah asked Assyria’s king Tiglath-pileser to come defend Judah from the attack.

Eventually, Damascus was conquered by Alexander the Great and the city’s fortunes declined. It was taken over in 64BC in Roman times by Pompey. That is when the aqueducts were built that shuffled water from the critically important Barada river to water the great gardens and continue cultivating the crops.

In the New Testament Damascus is mentioned several times but always relative to Saul/Paul, his trip to Damascus, and his conversion. (Acts 9:1–25; 22:5–11; 2 Cor 11:32, 33)

However, despite the 8000 years of history we can trace back to Damascus and the nation of Syria itself, there is one stark piece of prophecy which we can possibly say has not come to pass within all that history yet: Isaiah 17:1 says that Damascus will be destroyed. Never has that ancient city been uninhabited. The prophecy says that the city will be razed and made into rubble, so that no one will live there.

Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.(Isaiah 17:1-2).

Was this prophecy completely fulfilled during 732 B.C. when the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser subjugated Syria? Has the city ever been so deserted that wild animals feel safe to wander about and even lie down?

Or was it a partial fulfillment, the rest to come at a future time? Whatever the answer, we know that 2 chapters later, the Lord promised good to that region of the world. In that day…Isaiah 19:24-25 says,

In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom Yahweh of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

Barnes’ Notes, “That is, the three shall be united as one people. Instead of being rival, hostile, and contending kingdoms, they shall be united and friendly; and instead of having different and jarring religions, they shall all worship the same God. The prophecy rather refers to the spread of the true religion, and the worship of the true God.”

And what a day that will be! The tumultuous epochs of this ancient, beautiful but war-like city shall finally find peace, and so shall all the inhabitants of the earth.

Posted in end time, prophecy, the end

Doomsday clock moves 10 seconds closer to midnight

By Elizabeth Prata

Headline this week! “A time of unprecedented danger: It is 90 seconds to midnight“. The lede says- “The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.”

Oh noes! Is we doomed?

The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock depicting how close our planet is to complete annihilation, based on factors the scientists calculate that will result in planetary doom. It is only symbolic.

The Doomsday Clock and its annual warnings about the imminency of annihilation have generated some skepticism over the years and prompted debate over its purpose. Source

It was moved in 2017, 2019, 2020. In 2020, the scientists moved it ahead to 100 seconds before “midnight,”— the closest the clock had been to Doomsday since 1953. In 1953 they’d moved it ahead due to the United States’ test of its first thermonuclear device, followed months later by the Soviet Union’s hydrogen bomb test. People were legitimately scared in 1953, thermonuclear landscapes were a new and frightening horizon to deal with.

This graphic from the BBC shows the times the ‘clock’ was moved.

Scientific American devoted their entire magazine some years ago to our fascination with ‘the end.’ According to the scientists, we focus on the end because of our pattern seeking brains, and also to feel special. In the September 2010 issue, the editors and writers take a hard look at all kinds of finales, including doomsday scenarios. The magazine presents 18 stories all devoted to the end, finality, sustainability, catastrophe, and doomsday. They opened with an editor’s note, below:

Eternal Fascinations with the End: Why We’re Suckers for Stories of Our Own Demise
“Welcome to “The End,” at least as we know it. The features here, from the September 2010 issue, cover a range of topics, such as the decomposition of human flesh, the disappearance of cultures, the Earth’s remaining natural resources, and apocalypse scenarios. Once again, the world is about to end. The latest source of doomsday dread comes courtesy of the ancient Mayans, whose calendar runs out in 2012, as interpreted by a cadre of opportunistic authors and blockbuster movie directors. Not long before, three separate lawsuits charged that the Large Hadron Collider would seed a metastasizing black hole under Lake Geneva. Before that, captains of industry shelled out billions preparing for the appearance of two zeros in the date field of computer programs too numerous to count; left alone, this tick of the clock would surely have shaken modern civilization to its foundations.”

Remember the 2012 doomsday scenario? I do. It was hectic!

The secular world has always been fascinated with life endings, planet endings, universe endings… They claim that Christians, with our book of Revelation, are the ones fascinated by it, but in reality the constant barrage of “climate change doom”, “sinking continents doom”, “melting ice caps doom”, “asteroid doom”, “famine doom” – and never mind “alien doom!” and the like, illustrate they are the ones really fascinated by it. Shows like “End Day” and “Life after People” bring in the high ratings.

I used to wonder this question often myself, before I was saved, about the end of life on the planet. In my 20s I used to be scared of the warnings of a solar ray doom crisping the planet. It’s normal to muse on the eternal question, ‘is this all there is? Or is there something else?’ Those who are not saved always wonder what comes after death, even death of the planet.

In 1970 we ‘celebrated’ our first Earth Day. Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Not the God who made the earth, but the environment, the result of His works. Romans 1:22-23 come to life: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the likeness of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

There is the sense of the eternal placed in all humans’ hearts, they know instinctively that the planet will end. But not the way they surmise.

That early focus on environmental appreciation turned to hysteria, and doomsday movies centered around population explosion and earth sustainability came along, notably Soylent Green. This award-winning and popular movie depicted the investigation into the brutal murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans and a hot climate due to the greenhouse effect. (That was what they called “climate change” before they called it climate change.)

In the movie, much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green.” Tune out now if you do not want to know the ending of this movie. OK, here comes the spoiler. The processed food named ‘soylent green’ is people, it is made from human flesh. The film ends with the main character Charlton Heston screaming, “Soylent Green is people!” It became a catchphrase throughout the 70’s.

In this article from the Scientific American issue devoted to “The End”, “Laying Odds on the Apocalypse: Experts Assess Doomsday” the writers ask “Could modern civilization really come to an end? Experts take stock of eight doomsday scenarios.”

See? The secular world is just fascinated with the end.

Yes, civilization really will come to an end. The unsaved with their fascination with the end, yet at the same time denying they have a fascination with it. The Bible says “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3).

I think it is an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand our culture constantly depicts ‘the end’ in movies, TV shows, and films, and the public gobbles them up. On the other hand, mockers and scoffers mock and scoff at the notion when Christians proclaim that the world really will end, sneering that the world always has gone on and it always will.

As for eschatological Christians, that is, Christians who study the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind, are fascinated with the end for a reason: it IS the end. And we will see Jesus, the author of the beginning and the end because He is the Alpha and the Omega.

Atomic scientists of the Doomsday Clock, Scientific American, and others, can look no further than the Bible to discover what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen, even at the end. Here is a summation of all the prophetic verses in the Bible:

The ungodly will rebel, they will refuse Jesus’ nail scarred hand of salvation, and they will meet their end. The end will come, not by overpopulation or asteroid or global warming. The end will come, and it won’t be as stimulating as comfortable intellectual discussions from ivory tower editors and scientists publishing theories in magazines. The end will come, and it won’t be as sexy as when they watched it in the movie theatres with fancy graphics and computer generated people. All one needs to do is look at the bible, and believe what it says. The end is there:

“looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (2 Peter 3:12)

“The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken.” (Isaiah 24:19)

“The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope (Micah 1:4)

“By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7)

It is the end for the ungodly, but that is not the end! It is not the end for the Godly! Believers in Jesus will see the earth renewed! We will live!

Rev 21:1-6 – “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done.”

So. It is the end and it is the beginning. It is an Alpha and an Omega. Repentance of your sins and believing in Jesus will secure for any person an eternally bright future in bliss and joy and in glory. The earth will be remade new, and His people will dwell on it forever. No doom ever again, just joy. Who wouldn’t be fascinated by THAT!

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Advent: Thirty Days of Jesus, Day 3; ‘Perfect Timing’

By Elizabeth Prata

We are in the section of my Advent thirty day flow where we examine PROPHECY, ARRIVAL, and EARLY LIFE of Jesus.

In this section I chose verses that reflect the prophecies that predict His coming. Prophecy warns of coming judgment but it also comforts in that it foretells the holy and wonderful resolution of all things for the believer. This resolution didn’t begin with Jesus’ incarnation as a babe in the manger, it began before the foundation of the world when the God-head held an intra-council discussion and Jesus voluntarily chose to become the sacrificial Lamb.

Introduction & Background to this series here

thirty days of jesus verse 3

Day 1 post
Day 2 post

Ten Bible verses about God’s Timing

As we go about our daily lives, we often become discouraged by the many difficulties and challenges we face. Life can be stressful sometimes, posing unprecedented demands on our faith and trust in God. You might find yourself wondering how things could be different – why God has put certain obstacles in your path. Why this, why now? Bible verses offer all the answers. This post covers useful Bible verses about God’s timing to help you cope during difficult times. 

Challies: Five verses on adoption

The word “adoption” (Greek huiothesias) occurs only a few times in the New Testament, and each time it refers to God choosing a people for himself. Though there are not a lot of references to this word, there is a good deal we learn from them about the doctrine of adoption.

Ligonier: Adoption into God’s Family by Iain Campbell

Among the blessings God bestows on us in Christ is the blessing of adoption. We have been brought into God’s family and made God’s children. From God we have received “the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father’” (Rom. 8:15). As far as our status is concerned, we are no longer “strangers and aliens” to the people of God but “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). The Christians in Ephesus may have no natural affinity to the descendants of Abraham, but God in His grace has addressed the issue of their spiritual alienation from His covenant by making them His sons and daughters.

Answers In Genesis: Adopted into God’s Family by Rod Martin

Every once in a while, I am asked, “What’s it like to be adopted?” I was two days old when my parents chose me to be their son. Being adopted is an amazing thing. I was taken from a situation that probably would not have turned out well and was given the opportunity to grow up in a loving Christian home. I became a member of a new family. I had a new identity, a new name, a new opportunity, and eventually a new inheritance. I was chosen!

Editor Note: All scripture-pictures were made by me, photos in the series are mine with just 3 exceptions.

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Advent: Thirty Days of Jesus, Day 2; He will come!

By Elizabeth Prata

Thirty days of exalting Jesus through selected verses with pictures representing the prophecy, life, death, resurrection, and Second Coming of our Savior.

More information and background on this series, here

thirty days of jesus verse 2

Day 1: The Virgin Shall Conceive

Ligonier: A Shoot from Jesse’s Stump: Devotional

History tells us this is exactly what happened, with David’s royal dynasty all but dying out as a result of God’s judgment of His people through Assyria and Babylon. Nevertheless, Isaiah also saw that while the Davidic line would seem to be dead, life would remain within the stump. A shoot—life barely detectable at first—would emerge. But once this shoot went forth, it would become a mighty tree.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 11:1

 He comes forth out of the stem, or stump, of Jesse. When the royal family, that had been as a cedar, was cut down, and only the stump of it left, almost levelled with the ground and lost in the grass of the field (Dan. 4:15), yet it shall sprout again (Job 14:7); nay, it shall grow out of his roots, which are quite buried in the earth, and, like the roots of flowers in the winter, have no stem appearing above ground. The house of David was reduced and brought very low at the time of Christ’s birth, witness the obscurity and poverty of Joseph and Mary. The Messiah was thus to begin his estate of humiliation

All the Named Men of the Bible: Jesse

Jesse [Jĕs’se]—jehovah exists or firm. The son of Obed and father of David, and grandson of Boaz and Ruth, and an ancestor of Christ (Ruth 4:17, 22). Jesse had eight sons and two daughters by different wives (1 Sam. 17:12-14, 25). Isaiah speaks of “the stock of Jesse,” a phrase indicating that it was from Jesse the Messiah would come. The humble descent of the Messiah is contrasted with the glorious kingdom He is to have (Isa 11:1).

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Posted in end time, florence chadwick, prophecy

Keep persevering – with keeping the prophetic finish line in sight

By Elizabeth Prata

This example is used a lot in sermons and devotionals. It is an oldie but a goodie.

Florence Chadwick was a young woman in 1952 but had already swum the English Channel, both ways, and broke records doing it. One morning in 1952 she stood on the shores of California with intent to swim the 26 miles to Catalina Island. It was foggy. She was used to fog, rough water, and cold, having swum in these conditions since when was 11 years old so she was prepared for any conditions that may beset her on the long swim. It was so foggy that Florence could not see the support boats motoring around her to scare away the sharks. However after 15 hours of rough water stroke after stroke, she felt like she wasn’t getting anywhere. Despite encouragement from her mother and others in the support boat next to her, Florence wearied and asked to be taken out of the water. She soon discovered that she was half a mile from her goal.

The Lubec Maine shoreline. There’s a lighthouse in the photo. Can you see it? EPrata photo

At a news conference the next day Florence said, “All I could see was the fog.…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Florence tried again two months later. This time, she made it! What made the difference? She said that she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam.

This is the same scene as above after the fog rolled away. [Photo by EPrata]

Prophecy is not meant to BE the fog. It is knowable, profitable, and given to us for all education. It is a light to keep in our heart as to the immutable existence of God, His eternal promises, and the goal for every believer, to reach the eternal Lighthouse.

There are end of time prophetic utterances in much of the Old Testament and in every book of the New except for four. And three of those four are single-chapter letters to one individual. Jesus meant prophecy to be the mental image for us to hold dear as to the goal. Do not give up half a mile from the finish line!

He is near, He is coming. Do not wander, drift, be swept away by currents taking you far from the goal. May every stroke of your swim toward eternity be as vigorous as the one before. Pray for that vigor. The Holy Spirit is there to help us:  “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (John 14:16)

If you knew that Jesus was returning tomorrow would it change your decision not to study the Bible today? Not to pray? Not to help someone? If you knew it was next week, or next year, how differently would you act as a Christian? You’re tired. We are all tired. The wages of sin splash up on us, and sometimes splash into us. It is wearying holding firm against the current. But keep the goal in mind! Envision scenes the Bible gives us of that happy Day.

behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and someone was sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads…Revelation 4:2-4.

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

The River and the Tree of Life: And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. (Revelation 22:1).

Keep persevering – with keeping the prophetic finish line in sight!

Posted in theology

Little known prophets of the Bible

By Elizabeth Prata

I love prophecy. I love studying the Prophets. In fact, when I became a believer, I had not gone to church or owned a Bible or was familiar with the Bible or Christian Culture. I started studying the Bible after salvation and I went straight to the Major Prophets. I read Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc, first, not knowing the common way was to read the Gospels first. But then I went right on to the Minor Prophets and enjoyed Zephaniah, Obadiah, and Nahum. It took about 8 years of Old Testament reading intensively and then I turned to the NT. I mean, I heard New Testament preaching when I listened to my pastor on Sundays and the preachers I liked online, but my absorption and focus was prophets.

Continue reading “Little known prophets of the Bible”
Posted in birth pangs, chile, earthquake, end time, prophecy

Are the birth pangs happening now?

By Elizabeth Prata

Birth pangs, or labor pains, are defined as “One of the repetitive pains occurring in childbirth. Often used in the plural. Also: Difficulty or turmoil associated with a development or transition.” Birth pangs are an event that is unstoppable, they increase in intensity and frequency, and result in a new creation. During labor, the mother is in throes, sweats, and travails. When it is over there is peace, and rest.

God is fully in control and He has always sent weather to show His wrath, or to shake up the people, or to render judgment. He sends snow: Job 37:6 “For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ And to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong'”

He sends hail. Psalm 105:32: “He gave them hail for rain, And flaming fire in their land.”

He sends drought, earthquakes, thunder, and so on.

In a different kind of judgment, He also lifts his hand of restraint and gives a people over to their desires. (Romans 1:18-32). It’s less dramatic than the showy weather related ones, but in all ways more devastating judgment. John MacArthur describes the wrath of abandonment:

In Hosea 4:17, it is recorded that God said, “Ephraim is joined unto idols; let him alone.” There comes a time when God abandons men. God comes to a point where He lets a people go, lets them go to the consequences of their own sinful choices. They will not accept His counsel, they spurn all His reproof, as Proverbs says, so they eat the fruit of their own choices and they have to be satisfied with the devices they have chosen. Of the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Let them alone; they are blind leaders of the blind.” Matthew 15:14, the most terrifying words, “Let them alone.” Source- John MacArthur

The runaway inflation the US is currently experiencing, the squeeze of our budgets to buy groceries and gas, the racial and sexual and gender agendas seemingly succeeding, even overtaking our children, the rampant abortions, is emotionally difficult to endure. God’s judgment on a nation as seen in the Bible is often displayed in giving us over to our desires and no longer restraining us. When a nation is under judgment He gives them bad leaders and women leaders. Surely America is under judgment…

Josh Love said recently,

Does everyone understand that America is reaching the level of Sodom and Gomorrah and in some aspects have surpassed it already? I fully believe America’s judgment is going to be much worse than Sodom’s or just as bad. Repent & trust Christ today to flee the wrath to come.


Cognitively, we understand we are no better than Sodom or Gomorrah and in many ways a lot worse, and we understand we are deserving of judgment. Emotionally, it’s so hard to watch, though. On the one hand, to see the LORD’S power is fearful and awesome. To watch His promises unfold is a blessing, hard as these particular promises are to endure. But also with the increase in intensity and frequency of birth pangs comes heartache and tragedy for people. People we know and love are travailing. People we do not know are weeping in grief. Children lose parents, parents lose children. The unsaved are at increased risk of their fate: eternal separation from God! The terrible times Paul said would come are indeed here.

and yet, to the good of those who love Him-

Affliction awakens the sins in our hearts that we didn’t realize were there. Seeing the truth about ourselves produces the fruit of humility.” — Christina R. Fox

Are we in ‘the end time”? Yes. The last days spoken of by Christ in Matthew 24 and elsewhere in the New Testament, are the times between His ascension and His return. All of the Church Age, so to speak. So yes, it’s now. Christ has never been closer to His return than He has ever been since the writing of the New Testament.

We are not in the Great Tribulation but we are in the expansive period between 33 AD and the promised return of the future, which is characterized by birth pangs. One could assert the birth pangs began in 64 AD at the Great Fire of Rome, which Roman Emperor Nero blamed on the Christians. Thus, the first wave of persecutions started. The Church believers were martyred and those who survived dispersed over Asia Minor. How much more intense are birth pangs after 2000 years? Intensifying, even if the Lord tarries another 1000 years, birth pangs intensify over time, and we are feeling their intensity here in American and elsewhere on earth.

For me, it is a most terrible time knowing that as each day passes, many more unsaved are sent to their eternal destiny. The loss of so many unsaved is a heartache beyond comprehension. I know that for the Lord it is even worse, for “God is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-10). Unfortunately we know that many still go on the broad way, to their destruction.

Hardest of all though is watching coldness overtake love, and apostasy or apathy overtake zeal. People are falling away from their first love at a terrible rate. It’s hard to watch church betrayals, spiritual abuse, denominational political agendas, all substituted for strength in the Lord and love for His people.

Provost & Research Professor of Theology, @GBTSeminary Owen Strachan said, “The thief in the night is coming, so keep your bags packed and ready by the door. I urge you to pray for the church in this hour, saints. Denominations aside, Satan is pressing his attack on the bride of Christ. Pray hard for the strengthening and endurance of the body, assaulted from all angles as we are. Pray that we will trim our lamps and await our King.”

Christian, please continue praying. Stay strong, appealing to the Holy Spirit to stand us upright. Now is not the time to quail, cower, or quit. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:14-15).

The world needs the light of Jesus now more than ever. Be that light, in prayer and in love.

EPrata photo

Posted in theology

John MacArthur on the coming totalitarianism and antichrist

By Elizabeth Prata

2022: The Covid Crisis, Totalitarianism, Antichrist | John MacArthur Interview

I listened to a Q & A between Phil Johnson and John MacArthur recently. They discussed COVID and the mitigation efforts that were placed on their church, the Legacy Standard Bible, its beginnings and why we need this particular translation, the upcoming John MacArthur Old Testament Study Bible (YAY!), and interestingly, this question:

PHIL asked: “Do you ever think we will get back to normal? Post-Covid?”

Continue reading “John MacArthur on the coming totalitarianism and antichrist”
Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Advent: Thirty Days of Jesus, Day 2; He will come!

By Elizabeth Prata

Thirty days of exalting Jesus though selected verses with pictures representing the prophecy, life, death, resurrection, and Second Coming of our Savior.

More information and background on this series, here

thirty days of jesus verse 2

Day 1: The Virgin Shall Conceive

Ligonier: A Shoot from Jesse’s Stump: Devotional

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 11:1

All the Named Men of the Bible: Jesse