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

Tree of Life, and 12 fruits each month?

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

This week I wrote about the question where is heaven? Also I wrote about what we have to look forward to in heaven. In that essay I’d compared Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22, noting that they were the only books of the Bible that were free of any description of sin. I’d also written that though Genesis 1-2 are wonderful for showing God’s power of His word in creation, Revelation 21-22 were even better.

I wanted to bask in that glorious vision a bit more so I kept mulling over the verses in Revelation 21-22. I was struck when I read Revelation 22:1-2, “The River and the Tree of Life”. Some things jumped out at me. You know how that happens, you read it a million times but THIS time, some things capture your attention in a huge way like you’ve never read it before?

The River and the Tree of Life

Then 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. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2).

Though there are a LOT of things to ponder in just those two sentences, the two things that jumped out at me, were the tree’s location and the fruit.

EPrata photo

First, the tree. No matter the translation I read the verse in, it says the tree stood on either side of the river. How can THE tree, singular, stand on BOTH sides of a river? John Walvoord was puzzled too, and so are other commenters, according to him. He wrote:

“Interpreters have puzzled over this expression that the tree of life is on each side of the river. Some take this is as a group of trees. Others say that the river of life is narrow and that it flows on both sides of the tree. The tree of life was referred to in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22, 24), where it was represented as perpetuating physical life forever. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the fruit of this tree. Earlier in Revelation (2:7) the saints were promised the “right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Walvoord, J. F. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 987). Victor Books.

We do know that Ezekiel 47 is another place where heaven is described. Trees are mentioned on the banks of this same river flowing out from the throne of God. In Ezekiel 47:12 we read,

And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12).

But the Bible is consistent where the Tree of Life is mentioned, that it is A tree, or ONE tree, or THE Tree of Life.

But it could be that it’s as Ezekiel describes, a cluster of trees lining the banks of the River of Life. Or it could be as John describes in Revelation, ONE tree, on both sides of the river, possible since the eternal state does not necessarily have to abide by the laws of physics we have now. Or it could be as Roy Gingrich describes it below in his commentary on Revelation- the tree is in the river.

“A river of the water of life proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s street. In the midst of the river is the tree of life with its branches hanging over each bank of the river.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (p. 94). Riverside Printing.

Whichever way it is when we see the configuration of the tree of life and the river of the waters of life, it’s a fantastic thing to think of, the Tree of Life and the river of the waters of life, crystal and pure, ever-flowing.

The other thing that struck me was the fruit.

This tree monthly bears twelve kinds of fruits. If the Tree of Life is indeed one tree, how can one tree bear different kinds of fruit? Doesn’t the vegetation bear only its own kind? We read in Genesis 1:12,

The earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, according to their kind; and God saw that it was good.

Luke 6:44 says, For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.

However again, the dimension we will live in when we are glorified may not have the same laws of agriculture as we have now. Or perhaps since it is THE Tree of Life, it holds all life within it, including all kinds of seeds which bear all life-giving properties. It’s fun to think of.

By the way, the translation in the King James Version that we’re used to, that the tree’s leaves are for healing, doesn’t mean healing as in someone who is sick needs to get well. In the eternal state there will be no illness. As MacArthur said, rather than the leaves being medicine for healing, rather, they are like vitamins for flourishing. Both MacArthur and Gingrich commented that it may be more symbolic. That the expression used for tree and healing are anthropomorphic-

Its leaves are for the purpose of giving continuous health (not “healing,” K.J.V.) to the nations. The river represents the Spirit of God and the tree represents the Word of God. These two, the Spirit and the Word, keep the nations in perfect health. The variety of the fruit and frequency of the fruit picture God’s full and constant satisfaction of man’s religious and moral hunger. Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (p. 94). Riverside Printing.

MacArthur: Well, time has no part of eternity, but it does remind us that there are cycles. And it’s just another one of those anthropomorphic expressions to say something to us in terminology which we can understand. There will be a regular cycle of joyous provision, filled with variety, changing all the timeThere’s going to be provided in heaven infinite variety, and there are going to be all kinds of things available in heaven, demonstrated by the symbolism of the leaves of that tree that are just going to energize life and just make it rich and full and exciting. (Source)

If you are feeling down, or troubled because of the times, firstly, avoid the secular news if you can. Secondly, pray to Jesus and lay your anxieties at His feet. Thirdly, read in the Bible of the wondrous things Jesus has in store for us. He is preparing that place and He will come back to retrieve His Bride from this polluted earth and play out His end plan. When it’s all over we have a glorious future ahead. The crystal River of the Waters of Life, Tree of Life, Street of Gold, no sin! And best of all, Jesus with us!

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

Revelation, or Inspiration?

By Elizabeth Prata

Illustration courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

A reader kindly asked me a question from something she heard on my podcast. I appreciated the thoughtfulness which which she had asked, and also used scripture. Nothing makes me happier than this (except salvations and baptisms!) It’s the goal, constructive discussion on theological topics.

She said I was sharing that Beth Moore speaks of having (false) revelations and she wondered “if the Holy Spirit does not give His people revelations anymore? Especially on the Word of God, meaning enlightens us with deeper meanings or understandings about the Word? That He shines a brighter/clearer light on it, than say, perhaps what has been traditionally taught? Not negating it, necessarily, but being able to see, as enabled by the Holy Spirit of God, into the meaning of the written Word on a deeper level.

“I do not support Beth Moore, or listen to her, but when you said one of the biggest problems with her was her receiving revelations from God, I wondered if you believe or not whether He gives them. I am thinking of the Scripture, of 1 Cor.14:26-“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

The way she described revelation, I think she meant illumination. Her description was super, too. The description is just assigned to the wrong word, but it’s exactly what the Spirit does when opening our mind to understand God’s word.

As for revelation, that means new knowledge of God’s mind, word, intent, plans, etc. He speaks, and it’s revealed by Him. His speaking in the past was through angels, prophets, even a donkey. In this current age of the closed and finalized Bible, He spoke through His Son Jesus, and then He stopped speaking. All we need to know is already in the word. God declared it so:

Deuteronomy 4:2, You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I am commanding you.

Revelation 22:18-19, I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Hebrews 1:1-2, God’s Final Word in His Son: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. 

What we do have for revelation from God is sufficient. We do not need to ask for more, look for more, or expect more.

2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; 

What Beth Moore and others say is that God gives her NEW knowledge straight from Him, and even worse, she is to turn around and teach it. She quotes what He has supposedly said. This makes her a false prophetess. God is against people attributing things to Him that He did not say. (Jeremiah 23:21, Revelation 2:20).

However, revelation from God is different from illumination. The Spirit illuminates what is already revealed, applies it to our mind to transform it. He makes scripture clear, and brings scripture to mind. Illumination is the Spirit helping us to understand what has already been revealed. Revelation is the giving of new knowledge about God from God. As mentioned, what we know about God has already been revealed. But the Spirit goes on with helping us understand it.

Picture going into a dark room. There is a dimmer switch on the wall. The furniture is already there, but when you turn on the dimmer, a soft glow illuminates the outlines of the furniture. Then as you study, the the switch turns on more light. It gets brighter and you see more details in the room. Finally when we are glorified, then the light is on all the way and we know all that God had intended for us to know.

This link from GotQuestions explains further

What is biblical illumination?

Posted in Uncategorized

Warnings to 7 churches are so relevant today

By Elizabeth Prata

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:15-20)

Often forgotten in the prophecies are the warnings Jesus gives to the churches in Revelation. As with many prophecies, there is a near fulfillment that is and a far fulfillment. The 7 letters to 7 churches that open the Book of Revelation were actual letters sent to actual churches and actually read as warnings, encouragements or indictments against them. The second reason the letters were sent was to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God’s truth.

The last verse is the one I want to point to. Jesus is not ‘knocking at the door of your heart’ in this verse. It is obvious he is knocking at the door of the church. The church had become (and will become, like it is now) so pale and non-Gospel oriented that Jesus is outside it! Just think of Joel Osteen’s church at Lakewood and you have a perfect fulfillment of the kind of church Jesus is warning about here. Mr Osteen never preaches sin or wrath or judgment because he doesn’t want to offend anyone, wanting to stay positive. But how can a person repent if they don’t know they are sinning? He refuses to put a cross on his stage, because it might prove an “obstacle to anyone who might come.” But if they are not coming to the cross, what are they coming to??? Jesus is standing outside Mr Osteen’s church, knocking to get in.

That sad indictment is repeated over many parts of the body of Christ today. I pray you find a good church that has solid beliefs, and participate there. Support your pastor, if he stands on the foundational principles of the faith, and preaches them. He is a rarity these days, and precious. Treat him like he is.

The decline of belief is symbiotic. If you attend a church like Lakewood for any length of time, then you will fade into lukewarmness because the fire of wrath and rebuke from a holy God has disappeared. With the full counsel of God being preached, His perfect message of sin & wrath/mercy & redemption is held up and you will grow in Christ-likeness. Without the cross preached, who are the Laodicean congregants growing into looking like? Man, not God.

Posted in theology

Cast into hell

By Elizabeth Prata

Revelation 20:12-15

“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Hell is not a pleasant Bible concept to ponder. So most of the time, Christians don’t. But it’s the end-all of the journey for millions and billions of people. Forever. So we must.

Continue reading “Cast into hell”
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 prophecy, theology

“Climate change”? Really?

By Elizabeth Prata

In the last little while, the news stories regarding weather have increased regarding “climate change”.

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, the French critic, famously said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” The climate has been changing since the Fall of man.

I wrote a blog essay a while ago showing my interpretation of the Revelation 6:12 verse, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;” It is called “Of volcanoes, dry fog, and sun as sackcloth“.

In that blog essay, I posted some examples of what sackcloth looks like. When volcanoes erupt, the ash circles the atmosphere and the sun’s rays are dimmed, and what rays do emit through the haze look hairy instead of like beams. Volcanic ash has the same effect on the sun as described in the Revelation verse.

The Byzantine historian Procopius recorded in 536, in his report on the wars with the Vandals, “during this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness…and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear.”

That event is thought to have been caused by an earth-covering atmospheric dust veil, probably resulting from a large volcanic eruption.

The weather changes and attendant devastation on plant and human life when a volcanic eruption takes place is called “Volcanic Winter”. The science magazine Wired has a great article about volcanic winter that occurred in our recent past, one that happened in the 1700s (that Ben Franklin wrote about) and one that occurred in the 1800s. In the article, it states,

“The cloud of ash that was fine and light enough to stay in the atmosphere circled the globe. Average temperatures dropped as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next year … and beyond. Many Europeans and North Americans called 1816 the “year without a summer.”

In Gray, Maine it was indeed called the year without a summer. The bad weather of winter 1815 continued with heavy frosts in August and snowfalls every month of the year in 1816. It became known as “The Year without a Summer” or “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death”. Scientists now believe the cause was the eruption of a volcano, Mt. Tambora, in Indonesia. On its first day of eruption, it spewed 2 cubic miles of magma into the atmosphere. The next day it spewed 36 cubic miles of rock and ash into the air. This eruption was the largest in nearly 2000 years and spewed massive quantities of ash into the atmosphere which impacted the climate in the summer of 1816. Over the next year the largest famine in the 19th century devastated the northeast, maritime Canada, and northern Europe. The famine was deadly.

This report from the July 10th Eastern Argus news of Portland ME is typical: “The weather is yet remarkable! On Monday night last a smart frost was experienced in a number of towns in this vicinity—it was confined principally to low ground.”  Imagine…a hard frost on July 10!

The Egypt Road was said to have been named so by people in East Raymond ME who used the road to come to Gray to get seed corn in the spring of 1817. One low-lying section of town between Colley Hill and the Mayall Road was fortunate enough to have its corn crop survive in 1816. This was thought to have been due to the fact that the hill where the corn grew was high, and prevailing winds scoured the frost before it could settle. Seed corn was given to some Raymond citizens. They named the road they took “Egypt Road” since they were remembering the long trek to Egypt to ask deliverance via corn from Joseph to the starving masses. (Genesis 41:49; 56)

We know that in the Tribulation, geologic changes occur which eventually re-form the face of the earth. Quakes are so severe that entire islands disappear. One thing people rarely connect are the drastic changes that occur with climate in a volcanic winter. Atmospheric changes which lead to temperature changes which lead to reduced or failing crops which leads to wars to obtain the remaining food which leads to famine which leads to death which leads to pestilence…you read Revelation 6:1-8 and you see this progression.

We are so fragile, really. All our human made systems will come to naught. The poor, beleaguered earth and its animals is surely groaning. Climate change occurs when we have volcanic eruptions, or are just regularly occurring as part of the normal cycle of life on earth. The more the weather changes, the more it stays the same, if I can paraphrase Monsieur Karr’s saying. It’s all in the hands of God.

dark cloud

Posted in prophecy, theology

The Earth without Water

By Elizabeth Prata

They cry climate change, but the climate has always regularly changed. If they worry about climate change now, they should really be worried about how MUCH the climate of earth will change when the Tribulation occurs.

In reading Revelation it’s like reading a horror story of the world’s climate. Grass burned, rivers drying, sun scorching men with heat that is so unbearable, volcanic winters, you name it. Just read Revelation 6-18 to view the upcoming changes to the climate.

Christians know that it will be due to God’s transformation of the earth in preparing it for the renewal back to how the earth was before the curse. But the climate change enthusiasts and worriers will surely be declaring “We told you so” all the while repeatedly denying that it is God in charge and making these changes. (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21…)

I found this illustration of earth without water from Physics and Astronomy Zone.

Revelation 11:6 says the Two Witnesses have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.

No rain for three years? Wow. Crops fail and food becomes scarce, especially for the poor.

Climate change now? Please. They don’t know the climate that is about to change horrifically on God’s initiation and timing, but they will. As many as we share the Gospel with and who convert, so as to be raptured prior to these changes, there will be many millions left behind that will endure these terrible changes to the climate. It makes me sad, but it must be so. God will be glorified in the many who do come to faith during the prophesied time of Tribulation, in which the earth will groan so loudly that many will fall down and beg,

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:16-17).

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 theology

“I know…”

By Elizabeth Prata

Jesus is omniscient. We read this in the Bible and we accept it. But accepting it and understanding it at the deepest level are sometimes two different things. In listening to Pastor Eric Spuur of Mt. Angel Bible Church go through Revelation (series begins here, and is also here on iTunes), he emphasized the following point.

Jesus knows. He is fully aware of all that occurs in His church. See how many times it is written-

To Ephesus
“I know your works…” (Revelation 2:2)

To Smyrna
“I know your tribulation…” (Revelation 2:9)

To Pergamum
I know where you dwell…” (Revelation 2:13)

To Thyatira
“I know your works…” (Revelation 2:19)

To Sardis-
“I know your works…” (Revelation 3:1b)

To Philadelphia
“I know your works…” (Revelation 3:8)

To Laodicea
“I know your works…” (Revelation 3:15)

‘I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’… it hammers you as your mind becomes aware of how many times Jesus declares this truth.

We live on earth where no one is omniscient, so of course we get comfy in the notion that this head that we carry around atop our necks is self-contained. It isn’t. Jesus knows the hearts and minds of men and He knows the thoughts and intentions of it to the nth degree.

In an article called Seventeen Minutes, we learn it’s the daily thoughts that count. As you read this, (and the impact is heightened if someone reads it aloud to you) you’ll no doubt see some of your own thoughts in there. I did. They’re ordinary thoughts. Normal, right?

They are also sin.

They are thoughts that Jesus knows.

There isn’t anything that Jesus doesn’t know, which when we understand to the deepest level, slays us to the marrow, making us cringe. As the unsaved Tribulation folks discover, it makes them cry out to the mountains and the rocks to crush them so they will not have to face Him.

Our lot is infinitely better, for we can cry out not in fear, but to our Abba! Father! (Romans 8:15). Yes, Jesus knows our thoughts and deeds and works. But He loves us despite the sin crushing force of ordinary thoughts in our mind and heart. He took that wrath that was due us and loves His own to the nth degree.

Will we ever understand grace as we should? Likely not here on earth. It surely is grace to be able to serve a God who knows, knows us through and through, yet stands in heaven as our Father, loving us anyway.

wickedness in heart verse