Posted in theology

I’m ready to go

By Elizabeth Prata

There is no doubt that lately in the United States, things are getting more negative. Lawsuits, lockdowns, fires, riots, apostasy, false teachers, and so on. Things have been worse in countries before, think; Britain in WWII. Things have been worse for the church before: Think Spanish Inquisition. But here in the U.S. our circumstances have been continually blessed since almost our inception as a nation.

Lately though, the level of sin has increased so much it is hard to even look at Twitter, where only the headlines are shown, never mind the entire news story. John MacArthur made a great point this week.

“The slide is greased, and it’s rapidly going downhill at a warp-speed,” MacArthur continued. “And to try to intervene at some point and say, ‘That’s enough,’ you’d have to start a long time ago. This is just the next small step in the disintegration of an entire nation that has no conscience.”

Daily Wire: The Slide is Greased

In a recent sermon titled The Inescapable Corruption of Sin, he said the nation is so far gone it’s like a man that jumped off a 40 story building and began thinking about how to change his trajectory or the end result of his actions halfway down.

Ouch.

Things are rough and it hurts. But it makes me think of teenagers. You know when a teen has graduated from high school but hasn’t left for college? That in-between time? It is a huge transition, and it puts a strain on the family. It’s a tense transition. Bickering and fights break out daily, sometimes by the minute.

Why does this happen? Normally families love their children, and treat them with respect and love and care. But the fighting and tension during this period of imminent change is so prevalent and common, that Psychology Today wrote about it.

Leaving for college? Why families argue more right before the separation.

The weeks before my own child left for college were filled with battles that seemed to come from nowhere and enveloped our entire household. If he wasn’t arguing with me about something, he was butting heads with his dad; and if he wasn’t fighting with either of us, he was furious that we had somehow misunderstood something he said or were acting like he was a stupid child and always telling him what to do.

Source

Just when I was feeling that I would be very happy to see him go, he said, “You know what this is about, don’t you? It’s so that it won’t hurt you so much when I leave.” I had to laugh. He was right, of course. Fortunately, I had the good sense not to insist that it might be doing the same thing for him.

Source

It’s an actual phenomenon. The fighting helps the parents and kids let go, and makes parting easier.

I got to wondering if it is the same with Christians. Certainly, seeing the level of visible sin these days is grossing me out and making me want to leave all this behind even more. Maybe the Lord is using the fighting and riots and evil to help us put our eyes more firmly on Him and to release attachment to the place where we live, and make us long for the place we are going to even more.

It’s a thought.

Lord? Soon come…please.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Source

Further Reading

I strongly recommend the sermon by John MacArthur The Inescapable Corruption of Sin. STRONGLY

Steve Lawson, 3-min video clip: I want to be with Jesus

Posted in theology

Reader Prophecy Question: What about seeing visions and prophesying in the last days?

By Elizabeth Prata

A reader wondered about the verse in Acts 2:17, where it is said,

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

And how that verse reconciles with the cessationist position. Cessationists believe that the sign gifts such as miracles, tongues, healing, and visions/prophecy ceased (hence the title of this position) some few years into the end time after Jesus’ ascension. The end time, or latter days, is the period between Jesus ascension and His return in the Second Coming. Therefore we are in the end time now (hence the title of my blog). Continue reading “Reader Prophecy Question: What about seeing visions and prophesying in the last days?”

Posted in theology

The Book of Revelation is not an Outlier

By Elizabeth Prata

People think the Bible is the Bible, except for that weird book at the end, Revelation. Admittedly, Revelation (not ‘Revelations) is a highly symbolic book in places. But it isn’t totally filled with symbolism as people think. People avoid the book anyway, which is a shame…because:

In Revelation 1:3, right off the bat, it begins with a blessing!

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

If you read the book, you receive a blessing. If you hear what is in the book, you receive a blessing. If you keep what is in the book, you receive a blessing. Keep means to guard what is in the book or heed what is in the book. That means, be involved with what is in the book of Revelation. It’s not an outlier, it’s integral to God’s plan, so much so, He blesses those who take time to learn its message.

Continue reading “The Book of Revelation is not an Outlier”
Posted in discernment, theology

Secrecy is a delusion

By Elizabeth Prata

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance. (Psalm 90:8)

We all have secret sins. Some of them we knowingly perpetrate and feel guilty about. Other sins, we consider “acceptable”. A few, like David, we sin without even knowing we’re sinning. (Psalm 19:12).

When we sin and we know were sinning, we do it in the dark. The dark could be actual (adultery, porn, that certain movie or tv show, that gallon of ice cream at 2am…), or the dark could be metaphorical (lusting after a coworker in he darkness of our heart, for example). Continue reading “Secrecy is a delusion”

Posted in theology

What are oracles?

By Elizabeth Prata

An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment. Proverbs 16:10

And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse and said, “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened (Numbers 24:2).

The Lexham Bible Dictionary defines oracle as

A divine message communicated through a human mediator to one or more human recipients.

Wells, S. (2016). Oracle. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

So how an oracle different from a prophecy? Technically they both are divine messages delivered from the mind of God to the tongues of man, with intent to proclaim His revelation to a wider audience. God is using a human instrument for His tongue.

However, oracles were usually something that humans sought from God, instead of Him delivering a message unprompted by human inquiry, as usually happened with prophecy. These oracles were specific, someone was seeking an answer to a specific question, rather than the sweeping prophecies given that covered a general time frame. Of course, exceptions to this abound.

Many oracles were sought by kings and leaders for political purposes (“Will I win this battle?”) but the lay-people also sought oracles too. (e.g. 1 Kings 22:1-7)

Since some prophets or seers received compensation for oracles, the tendency was to then deliver favorable oracles to the consumer so the money would keep flowing.

Scholars like Westermann and Sweeney have identified a variety of subgenres for prophetic speech Two subgenres of judgment speech are:

  1. oracles against foreign nations, best known from their collections in the major prophets (Isa 13–23; Jer 46–51; Ezek 25–32)

  2. the woe oracle, which identifies wrongdoing and announces punishment much like typical judgment speech and is marked by the exclamation “woe” (e.g., Amos 5:18–20; Ezek 16:23). The New Testament also includes woe oracles spoken against individuals or groups (e.g., Luke 10:13; Matt 23:13–36). Wells, S. (2016). Oracle. The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

You might remember the Magic 8 Ball. It was a black ball made of hard plastic that a child could hold in two hands. It had a clear window at the top and you asked it a question, shook the ball, and waited until an icosahedron  floated tot he window with a message in it. The answers always disappointed me as a kid. “Try again later,” or “Maybe.” The ancient world was rife with oracle locations. The two most famous were the oracles of Apollo at Delphi and Zeus at Dodona. When seekers arrived and asked the oracle a question, answers that came were often vague. So if you were frustrated as a kid receiving vague answers from the Magic 8 Ball, imagine the seekers at Delphi or Dodona!  Yet still, many thousands still came to seek answers from the ‘gods.’

Of course, the only God there is, is Yahweh, and His answers (oracles) are true and specific. Romans 3:2 says

To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God, meaning, the Jews were entrusted to receive messages from God via a human medium, usually a prophet or a priest. How wonderful that He has grafted the Gentiles in, so now we can understand the oracles of God, His word via the Holy Spirit.

When we come back to the New Testament, we see that Christian teachers, functioning as prophets, also spoke the “oracles” of God. Peter said, “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11, NASB). The author of Hebrews also used the word oracles to describe the words of God that had originally been communicated to the believers (Hebrews 5:12). Source: In Holman treasury of key Bible words

 

Posted in theology

Peace and War, War and Peace

By Elizabeth Prata

When people say, “There is peace and security,” destruction will strike them as suddenly as labor pains come to a pregnant woman, and they will not be able to escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

The world will always be seeking the increasingly elusive quality of peace and security. The word security is from the Greek compound word, meaning not and totter. The notion behind the word is they will be looking for a ‘firmness that equates to security.’ There is nothing on the earth that offers a foundational firmness that equates to security. There is no treaty, no house, no nation, no leader, no idea, no government that will offer the security that God does. The only security there is, is God. That is why the drive to find peace and security ratchets up at a frenzied pace as time marches on, because as the world crumbles into not-peace (war) and not-safety (chaos), they look toward something, anything, that will provide security.

We know war does come. There is no peace. The Tribulation opens with a horseman riding on the waves of war, unleashing it upon the world. (Revelation 6:3-4). Damascus is destroyed, (Isaiah 17), The Middle East goes to war (Psalm 83), Iran attacks Israel (Ezekiel 38-39), and the rest of the world is drawn into war after war (Matthew 24:6).

Jeremiah 8:10b-12 speaks of conditions that mirror ours today,

“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the Lord.”

The Old Testament priests and prophets spoke of superficial things, not getting to the heart of the matter, which was their sin and their failure to repent. We have that today, preachers refusing to speak of sin but instead treating the people with a bandage when what they need is a tourniquet. They dress the wound as if the people are not dying. They focus on stamping our social ills, proclaiming a ‘woke theology’ which is no theology,  refraining from speaking true Gospel words such as sin and repent.

The false prophets speak of peace (“God loves you”) but there is no peace, none inside themselves with God and none outside themselves with each other. They are so seared with sin that they don’t even blush anymore. They have no shame at their deeds, and they will be brought down and punished. As it was then, it will be again.

Jesus is the author of time, the conductor of events, the creator of all the universe. He knows what will happen because He created the plan for it happening, and He told us about it. We can trust it because He cannot lie. The stunning thing is that He shares His intentions with us at all! He did so in the Bible, and if you own one, read it. It will make you love our Savior all the more.

If you are not saved, then the Bible will never make sense to you but you can turn on the linguistic translator almost instantly, by repenting and submitting to Jesus as Forgiver of your sins. He will send the Holy Spirit to you to indwell you and reveal the truths of His word. Then you will understand it.

And what of us, still here, still walking in His light on this side of the veil? Well, we continue to do what we do. We raise our children, we love our families, we share His name and His truths where He has planted us. Until He uproots us through death or catches us up through rapture, we persevere, fighting the good fight. These are exciting times, because His word is vibrantly flowing from His book to life and beyond. The true prophets (in this ea, pastors and teachers) are going aobut their business and fulfilling their ministry.

Praise Him that we have His word, can read it, cling to it, and through it, look toward the most important person of the Universe: Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected. And soon to return.

What a day that will be!

peace 4 verse

Posted in theology

Goodbye for now, Nahum

By Elizabeth Prata

assyria01

King Sennacherib and his crown prince Arda-Mullissi after the battle of Lachish in 701 BC. From the palace at Nineveh. Source Looklex Encyclopedia
Who is Nahum?

He was an Old Testament prophet about whom we know little. Nahum the Elkoshite is a short form of the name Nehemiah. His name means ‘consolation’ and he might have been from Capernaum, which means ‘town of Nahum’ or he might have been from Al-Qosh in modern-day Iraq. No one knows for sure. What we do know for sure is that his book of prophecy, technically, an oracle’ is a prophecy against Nineveh of the Assyrian empire, for persecuting God’s people of Judah.

Of his prophecy, we know a lot. His three chapter oracle against that mighty capital city is muscular, vivid, and tough to read. God’s character is on sharp display here, and part of His character is His wrath. Gregory Cook named his commentary “Severe Compassion” because of God’s severity in dealing with His enemies and His compassion in dealing with His people. Nahum shows this in all its starkness.

Jonah preached God’s coming judgment to the Ninevites and they repented, from the King to the lowest slave. God stayed His hand of judgment. Unfortunately, about 100 years after Jonah’s preaching, the Ninevites had returned to the God-dishonoring ways and the judgment Jonah had promised was coming. Nahum preached that, to the Ninevites through preaching to Judah, whom Assyria was harassing and persecuting. Nahum’s oracle promised Judah and end once for all of the wars and torment by the Assyrians.

When John MacArthur preached a sermon called “Who Is God?” he began with Nahum.

Roy Gingrich was a pastor and Bible teacher who is known for having created outlines for the books of the Bible, including the Major and Minor prophetical books. I find them extremely helpful. Here, Gingrich introduces Nahum’s book and I comment after each line-

A. IT IS POETICAL IN ITS FORM—It is the most poetic of all the prophetic writings.

I found it a wonder to read because of its language and poetry.

B. IT IS VIVID AND FORCEFUL IN ITS STYLE—We can see the actions described by Nahum.

It takes your breath away in parts, it is so vivid. You can almost hear the clatter and strorm of invading chariots and the screams and cries of the Assyrians.

C. IT IS ANIMATED AND LIFE-LIKE IN ITS PRESENTATION—There is nothing artificial or unrealistic in the book’s descriptions.

Yes. Despite the war materiel being antiquated it is very present-day.

D. IT IS RAPID IN ITS MOVEMENT—It moves from scene to scene with lightning-like rapidity.

I use the term muscular. Like the book of Mark, with its use of the word ‘immediately’ and its short active sentences, Nahum ‘s poetry is less Elizabeth Barrett Browning and more modern-day war poet Sigfried Sassoon.

E. IT IS MAJESTIC IN ITS MORAL DESCRIPTIONS OF GOD—No other Bible book excels Nahum in this respect.

Soaring in its powerful descriptions of the power of God, I agree, no other book has an equal in showing God’s moral character

F. IT IS UNITARY IN ITS THEME—It has one theme, the soon-coming destruction of Nineveh.

Woe to God’s enemies! This book made me grateful I am not His enemy but by His grace, I am His friend!!

X. THE VALUE OF THE BOOK
The book has great value because of its teachings concerning God’s righteousness. It teaches that God ultimately destroys the wicked and delivers the righteous. It teaches that God is severe to His enemies and good to His friends. (Gingrich)

You can buy Gingrich’s outlines on Amazon here Kindle editions, or through his web page here. They are also available through Logos software.

If you would like to read reviews of Cook’s commentary Severe Compassion, some are here on Goodreads.

I pray you read Nahum, even better, Jonah then Nahum, and move on to other Minor Prophets. These books are so named not because they are less-than but because of their brevity compared to the Major Prophets such as Isaiah or Ezekiel. God’s moral character, His severe compassion, and His power. Nineveh was destroyed and obliterated so thoroughly that the city itself as never even found until 1845, 2000 years after the prophecy came true.

Yet, look at this. God is great in love and compassion. Only three nations are mentioned in the future literal 1000 year kingdom to come, Israel, Egypt, and…Assyria:

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:23-25)

Posted in end time, theology

Daniel’s 70 weeks and Tribulation explanations

I can’t wait to see what you all look like when you are glorified! I can’t wait to see the glassy sea, the angels who have helped me, the face of Jesus! I can’t wait to be free from pain and shed of my sin nature. I can’t wait to be in eternity! However, I will await His timing. We all must await the number of our days to be up and His determination of when we enter glory. More on that below.

The Tribulation is prophesied to be a period where many things will happen. One of them is that the earth and heavens themselves will be wildly disrupted. Landforms disappear. Weather patterns evaporate. Orbits cease. And more.

The outline of what Jesus will be doing at that time is presented to us in Daniel 9:24. The Lord will do 6 things:

“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city,
1. To finish the transgression,
2. To make an end of sins,
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity,
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness,
5. To seal up vision and prophecy,
6. And to anoint the Most Holy.”

Notice several things. First, it is a period where though the times will seem chaotic, it will actually be orderly. It is all in control of God. The three series of 7-judgments apiece (Seals, Trumpets, Bowls; perhaps four sets if the Seven Thunders of Revelation 10:3-4 are actually judgments) will be delivered in orderly fashion. The judgments unleash chaos, but their deliverance is orderly and controlled.

The Tribulation is the time for it all to come to the conclusion that God exists, He is angry with sinners, and to repent. So it will be a time of demonstrable wrath and the conclusion of the 6 things. In further orderliness, He stopped His prophetic timetable clock at 483 years. In Daniel 9:24a the angel declared to Daniel it would be 7X70 or 7 bundles of 7’s (a shavuim). But nowhere was it promised to be 490 consecutive years! But they should have known that, because the interruption was stated. In Daniel 9:25-26, a mere verse later, the angel told Daniel that after seven sevens and 62 sevens, Messiah will be cut off (vernacular for died) and the people of the prince who is to come (antichrist) shall destroy the city.

Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem was 483 years to the day and then the clock stopped. Since then, Jesus has been taking 2000 years to build His church. When the church reaches His quota of people inhabiting it, (Romans 11:25) He will snatch us away from this earth, and He will finish that last 7 years of the prophesied 70 weeks and accomplish the rest of the 6 things.

The angel also explained to Daniel that it is a time when God directs His attention to “your people” and “your holy city” (Jerusalem). That does not mean He isn’t paying attention to non-believers or non-Jews during the Tribulation, or that nothing will happen to them during the Tribulation. Not at all. Jeremiah 30:7 calls it the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, though, and its point is for the LORD to finish His promises to His people. #1 is to finish the transgression, and #2 says He will make an end to sins. This making an end to sins is an even that will affect everyone on the planet. God always sees the world through the lens of His people the Jews and through the central location of the Holy City. But all the world will be affected.

In addition, note the progression of the 6 things on the list. At the beginning, He allows the transgression to have its full expression. By the end, the Most Holy is anointed. The Most Holy is Jesus. Ahhh, what a day that will be! The Tribulation is the cap-stone to the final age of man where He allows the total outcome of rejection of the Holy Spirit to take its full course. Like in Noah’s day, where all of man’s thoughts were only evil continually, (Gen 6:5) so it shall be again at the end of days (Matthew 24:37). But in the Tribulation, man will actually act out all his evil in his heart, it won’t remain there. He who holds back lawlessness will be taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7) ,another way of saying He will release His restraining hold against sin.)

Can you even imagine how drastic that time period will be? Just as we can’t imagine in our finite mind the full scale of His glory in heaven, we cannot imagine that bottomless, putrid pit in which sin flows forth. /shudder/. Better to not think of it.

The Daniel 9:26 verse also promises that the end will come like a flood. This does not mean that there will be a flood of actual waters as in the first global judgment. He promised Noah that he would never drown the world again. (Gen 9:13). However, as part of the cataclysmic geo-physical upheavals during the Tribulation there will be floods and tides and hurricanes and tsunamis. However, the verse uses figurative language.The Hebrew word in Dan 9:26 is “sheteph; from shataph; a deluge (literally or figuratively) — flood, outrageous, overflowing.” He means that SIN will have its outrageous overflowing.

This flood language mirrors the language in Revelation 12:15. Midway through the Tribulation, the antichrist tears up the peace treaty he had confirmed with the Jews at the beginning of the Tribulation. He then persecutes them with all unholiness and evil. He goes after the Jews with an evil vengeance that makes the WWII Holocaust look like a picnic. Rev 12:15 says- “And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.” Satan pours out his evil and sin flows over the world like a flood.

Floods have waters that rise, and rise and rise, eventually washing away all that is in its path. Even tsunamis which travel at jet speeds have waters that flow and rise accordingly. The end began when Jesus ascended, but it has been 2000 years and we can see that the flood waters of sin are not lapping at our toes…are not sweeping against our waists…but the flood waters of sin seem like they are actually crashing over our heads by this point in time. It is like the famous photo of the lighthouse and its keeper

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But we are not destined for wrath! (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Though sin tries to engulf us, it will not prevail against His church! (Matthew 16:18). Notice where the keeper is: INSIDE the Lighthouse. Would you want to be anywhere else when the wages of sin try to engulf you? No. You would not survive that wave. You would not survive the hidden reefs under the wave. (Jude 1:12). Being in the Lighthouse is the only safe place to be, in ages past and in this present age. Blessedly, Jesus removes His bride from the earth before the Tribulation begins. We are not condemned, nor will we be punished for sins that He forgave us for. It will be the unbelieving world who will suffer the consequences of their rejection of the Savior.

Jude says, the unbelievers and apostates are “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:12).

Peter says, “These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” (2 Peter 2:17).

Isaiah says, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.” (Isaiah 57:20).

What of us, individually? His word says that Hades will not prevail against His church. Some days, though, sin prevails against me. What about you? Each of us struggles against sin every day. Some days it truly feels like it will engulf me. Here is the remedy: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

We are Light keepers, and our job is never more important than during the storm! We are in Christ as THE Light, but we keep His word hidden in our hearts. We are ambassadors of His glory and His truths. We keep His commands. We keep His flame alive on earth by staying in Him and close to Him. It is important to be brighter during the storm and so let us be bright, by being full of peace and joy in these stormy times. Let the waves crash! We have the eternal Strength of the Light. Let others see, and hear the Good News, and come to Him.