Category Archives: Future Events and Prophecies

Jerusalem the Capital of Israel? Yes!

2nd Samuel 5:6-10

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, ‘You will not get in here, even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here’. Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David. On that day, David said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water water shaft to reach those “lame and blind” who are David’s enemies. That is why they say “the blind and lame will not enter the palace.”‘ David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.”

King David captured the ancient city of Jerusalem around 1000 BC, and that city remained the Jewish capital until the Roman sack in 70 AD and, in a sense, beyond. The Israelites were in possession of Jerusalem for slightly more than 1000 years before the Roman sack; since then the city has been at the heart of the Jewish religion and an important city for the Christians. From the time of the Muslim conquest in 638 AD until the end of World War I the city remained under Islamic control by various caliphates and then the empire of the Ottoman Turks. From World War I until the creation of the modern Jewish state of Israel in 1948, the city was governed by the British authorities. Since the war declared by her Muslim neighbors immediately after Israel’s independence, the Israelis took possession of West Jerusalem and then in 1967 they captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six Day War.

Today President Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to begin the process of moving the American embassy there. Making a rare political statement of my own, I fully support this move. For almost 2,000 years the Jewish people have longed to return to Jerusalem, and now the city is once again recognized as the capital of Israel, at least by the American government. Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is 3,000 years old, while Christianity has revered the city as the location of where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God Among Us, suffered and died for our sins, for 2,000 years. Islam has revered Jerusalem as one of their holy sites for 1400 years. The Jewish people have a definite historical precedence in claiming the city. The Palestinian Authority has for decades seen East Jerusalem as their capital; now, thanks to their intransigence in refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace, East Jerusalem is lost to them. So be it. In the 69 years since Israel has controlled the city (at least the western part), they have peacefully given Christians and Muslims full access – in a peaceful manner – to their holy sites within the city, to the extent of even restricting Jewish activity, including prayers, on the Temple Mount in deference to their Muslim population. They will continue to do so; can the Palestinian Authority state honestly that they would do the same if they had full control of the city? Very doubtful. I fear that given the chance they would follow the example of the Taliban and ISIS and destroy all non-Muslim sites.

So in short, hurrah for Israel and well done to President Trump for making a difficult and unpopular decision that was long overdue. Of course the Jew-haters of the world will condemn this move, they are already starting to. But perhaps the apparently now permanent loss of even East Jerusalem will wake up the Palestinian Authority and the PLO to the fact that Israel is there to stay and that further refusal to come to the table and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis will just cost them more in the future. And since Islam claims at least parts of the Old Testament as valid (the parts they agree with), perhaps they would do well to remember what was said in Numbers 24:9, “May those who bless you be blessed, and those who curse you be cursed!” Jerusalem will forever be the Holy City, the center of the Kingdom of God and the seat of a returned Jesus Christ, ruling the nations with an iron scepter.

To borrow a phrase from the fictional Borg, “resistance is futile”.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. And to all my Jewish friends, a heartfelt shalom!

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A Look at “The Benedict Option”

Romans 12:1-2

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

“I have written the Benedict Option to wake up the church and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time. If we want to survive, we have to return to the roots of our faith, both in thought and practice. We are going to have to learn habits of the heart forgotten by believers in the West. We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs.”

– Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

Recently I read one of the most talked about books in the Christian community of 2017, titled The Benedict Option, written by Rod Dreher. I will start by saying that I recommend this book highly to any and every Christian of any denomination who watches the news at night and is apalled and worried for the church. Dreher points out clearly that we are now living in a post-Christian world that is trying to drag Bible believing Christians down with it. As he says, don’t be fooled by the number of churches that you see. He provides much evidence showing that even in the Christian churches there are more and more people who know little about the teachings of the Bible, who go to church because they feel that they should, but somehow fail to live the kind of lives that our Lord and Savior and His apostles taught us to live. Dreher suggests that to preserve our faith intact we need to prepare ourselves to disengage with the mainstream of modern society and form our own tightly bonded communities of believers who can count on each other as we live in an increasingly hostile world.

Critics of Dreher have claimed that he is advocating a return to monasticism or something like it, citing his drawing on the inspiration from the Rule of Benedict, a monk who was very influential in defining what a religious community should be like. While Dreher does recommend insulating ourselves against the pervasive influences of consumerism, moral laxity in society, and the humanistic self-centeredness that has risen since the Enlightenment in the 1700s, he is not saying we should all become hermits or go to live in modern monasteries. What Dreher is saying is that as the world strays further and further from the ways of the Lord we have to pull ourselves back, to stand for our morals and beliefs in the face of severe opposition. We have to become a people separate, living in the world but not being of the world, firm in our commitment to stand for righteousness even in the face of highly motivated and determined opposition. We can no longer afford to live compromised lives.

Really the only aspect of The Benedict Option that I disagreed with was the implication that this age of moral and spiritual decay is a passing phase and that the world will one day want to turn back to the truth and need us to help them along. I think this may in part be because a widespread belief in Christianity is that we will keep going and convert the world. That is not what the Scriptures say. Our world is in a death spiral of rebellion against God and no amount of human effort will be able to correct it at this point. We are now in the last days and Bible believing Christians are in the minority, and that will not improve; look at all the churches that follow false doctrines and other gospels. It is imperative that we be aware and focused on our Lord and on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles as recorded in the Bible, for our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for those of us that he can devour.

My friends, we need to return to the kind of humble, loving but uncompromising faith that the early church had, the kind of faith that conquered the Roman Empire from within and spread over the face of the earth. We need to return to the kind of faith that enabled our spiritual forebears to enter the arena singing praises as they faced lions armed with only a prayer. We need to return to the kind of faith that will not compromise our principles in the name of career, that will rely on God and not politics, that will stand for good morals and Christian ethics even though they are no longer accepted in our society. It is time for us to make our stand against a rising evil that the world calls good, because if we don’t we are lost. We need to pray and study the Scriptures and help each other along and stand, and then, as Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, “after you have done everything, to stand”. The time for half-measures and going along to maintain acceptance is over.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Deceiving the Elect?

Matthew 24:24

“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.”

I know that I quote often from the 24th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, but I do so because it is the clearest and most detailed prophecy from our Lord Jesus Himself regarding the signs and events leading up to the end of the age and the return of Christ in power and glory. Verse 24 is a clear and strong warning to those who claim Christ. In the Last Days the Beast/Antichrist and his false prophet will do many things that can lead poorly informed Christians astray. Now many will claim that would be impossible for believers to be led astray like that. My answer is that if it weren’t possible Jesus would not have bothered to warn us against it. But how can this be possible? If they are the elect then they are the chosen ones of God, aren’t they? That is based on the assumption that everyone who claims Jesus is truly saved, but Jesus Himself says otherwise in Matthew 7:21-23, where the Lord rebukes and rejects those who protested that they had prophesied in the name of Christ and driven out demons and performed many miracles. So for whatever reason, these members of Christianity are false believers, but that would be a subject more appropriate to some other time. It is one thing to say “I am a Christian” and quite another thing to be a disciple of Christ and submit to Him all of your life. As Jesus stated, those who persevere to the end will be saved. But back to the question at hand – how could Bible believing Christians be deceived like that? My brothers and sisters, it happens all of the time even today. There are many people today who believe the Bible who have been led astray by various cults and heretical sects. Heresy abounds in these last days and we must know what the Word teaches so that we don’t fall under the sway of false prophets teaching the doctrines of demons that tickle men’s ears. But again, Christians falling for the lies and wonders of the Antichrist and the False Prophet? Here is an example from relatively recent history that shows it’s possible. Germany, 1933; Adolf Hitler has just become Chancellor of Germany. Within weeks of taking office he turned on the Christian church, largely Lutheran. He issues proclamations stating that all churches must swear loyalty and obedience to the Fuhrer only and complete submission to the Nazi Party. The penalty for disobedience is the seizure of church property and imprisonment for church leaders. Seminaries are closed. Christian publishers are shut down. Many churches in Germany give in and swear their utter submission to Hitler in all things, but some bravely refuse. Men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer resist the establishment of a new German state church operating as a wing of the Nazi party, but they are voices in the wilderness and many pay with their lives for standing up to Adolf Hitler. The new state church supports the Nazis right up to the end of the war, and in the difficult post-war period the church overall is rejected for having lost their effective witness of Jesus Christ. My point is this: prior to Hitler’s coming to power, the church in Germany was thriving and vibrant and produced fine pastors and teachers. Yet they were swayed by totalitarian political power and turned from Jesus Christ to accept Hitler as the new Messiah. They were led astray. I believe strongly that this is how it will be at the end of the age. Many apparently legitimate, Bible believing congregations will fall for the power and humanist appeal of the man who will turn out to be the most vicious dictator ever to rule the nations. That, my friends, is why we must be aware. That is why we must test everything against the Scriptures. If we fall for a charismatic personality, or seeming miracles, or fine sounding arguments that have no basis in Biblical truth, we will be led astray and be led into perdition by evil men and women. If it violates Scripture and leads away from complete faith in Jesus and the grace He won for us on the Cross, reject it and run the other way. Don’t fall for a lie.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Are we Under the Law of Moses?

Galatians 3:1-5

“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing? Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believed what you heard?”

There has been much said over the centuries concerning the issue of observing the Law of God as given to Moses in the wilderness some 3500 years ago or more, and there is much being continually said on that subject today; it seems to be one of those subjects that Christians will be arguing about until the Lord returns, which will thankfully be soon. Now I’m not a theologian, but I am fully capable of reading and understanding the Bible and the Lord reveals through His Word what the truth is. So let me throw another log on the spiritual fire and give a Scriptural view of the relationship of Christians to the Law.

The Bible is clear: as Christians we are no longer under the judgement of the Law, for Jesus fulfilled the Law on the cross. Period. Does this mean that we promote lawlessness and rampant sin as some charge? Of course not, that is a ludicrous claim and Paul dealt with the same attacks in the middle of the first century. As Christians we uphold the Law, meaning that we view it as it should be viewed: as a tutor to lead us to repentance and faith in Christ. No one has ever been saved by obedience to the Law, or to the Commandments if you prefer to call them that. No one. The only person in the entire history of humanity that was sinless and in perfect obedience to the Law is Jesus Christ, and He achieved that only because He is God in human flesh. For everyone else the Law stands as proof that we are sinners in need of Christ, no more, no less. If a law could be given by which we could be saved, then Christ would not have had to die on the cross.

The reason we are unable to meet the requirements of the Law is simple: humans are flawed with sinful natures and we mess up. To keep the Law, to obey the Commandments enough to win justification before God, you would have to keep every law perfectly for all of your life. That is an impossibility for mere mortals. If you break even one commandment, even slightly, you have broken the entire Law. When Jesus walked among us the first time, He expounded on the Law and showed how difficult it was to keep it. If you hate anyone you have violated the commandment not to murder; if you look at someone lustfully and wish you could sleep with them you have committed adultery. Who could possibly maintain such a rigorous level of perfection? Only Jesus Christ, and that is what made His death on the cross for our sins effective.

If we are in Jesus Christ we walk in a new way, by the Spirit, and the condemnation of the Law no longer hangs over us. Will we make mistakes? Of course we will, we are mere humans with sinful natures. But as John wrote in 1st John 1:9, if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us. Grace is not a license to sin, it just means that when we do sin we can be forgiven through faith in the risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Even if we sin a dozen times, if we fight it and turn to our Lord and seek forgiveness, He will forgive us. Yes, we should honor the Law and even preach it as a way to lead people to repentance and faith, but we no longer have to live under the Law. Do not let those who teach legalism lead you astray or bewitch you with their teachings: no one could ever follow perfectly any code of behavior, including the Law of Moses. For with the slightest mistake you have put sin between you and a holy and perfect God, and without God’s grace given freely through Jesus Christ that one sin will doom you to an eternity of suffering.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Our Shepherd

I hope you are blessed and receive encouragement in the faith from this teaching regarding the role of Good Shepherd that our Lord fills…

“Our Shepherd

Psalm 23 describes God as a caring shepherd. Yet the job of ‘shepherd’ is relatively unknown to the average person today. What exactly does a shepherd do? Why is God depicted as such? A cursory study of shepherds and sheep seems necessary to unpack the riches of the imagery in Psalm 23 as well as the psalm’s relevance to the New Testament’s depiction of Christ as the ‘good shepherd’. (John 10:1-18)

One of the primary responsibilities of a shepherd is guarding his flock. Thieves, wild animals and the wandering inclinations of the sheep themselves mean that a shepherd must actively work to keep his sheep safe from harm. (1st Samuel 17:34-35) Every night, a shepherd counts his sheep to ensure none have strayed or been stolen. (Jeremiah 33:13) If any of the sheep are missing, he goes out to look for them, discontent to lose any of those under his care. (Ezekiel 34:11) Not only does the shepherd tend to their wounds when they have been attacked, but he also ‘binds up the injured and strengthens the weak’ even when their injuries or weaknesses are of their own doing. (Ezekiel 34:16)

A shepherd also meets his flock’s basic needs for food and water by traveling far and wide to locate viable sources. What may appear to be a simple provision is, in actuality, a strenuous undertaking. Leading masses of sheep to food and water often involves trekking across difficult terrain and enduring harsh climates. (Genesis 31:40) Shepherding requires fortitude, endurance and skill.

God is depicted in Scripture as the kind of shepherd who does more than provide food, shelter and safety.; He even goes so far as to bless His flock. The entire thirty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel describes God as a good shepherd who will ‘send down showers in season…showers of blessing’. (Ezekiel 34:26) Truly the ‘cup overflows’ for those who are shepherded by God Himself.

Likewise, Jesus refers to Himself as the ‘good shepherd’ who ‘lays down His life for the sheep’. (John 10:11) He is the Messianic shepherd hoped for by God’s people, foreshadowed by the psalmist David and foretold by the prophets. Jesus is the Good Shepherd worth listening to and worth following (John 10:3-5), the Good Shepherd who knows the name of every sheep and who died to give them ‘life to the full’. (John 10:10-11)

Jesus, thank you for laying down your life for me. I lay my life down at your feet. I want to follow You every moment of every day. Amen.”

From the Jesus Bible Reading Plan, Day 284, on the Bible App available free from Youversion.

May our Lord bless and protect you all in these end times, in the Name of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Savior.

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Storm Warning

In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen Harvey hit Texas with massive flooding, an 8.1 earthquake in southern Mexico and now hurricane Irma is getting ready to rip Florida a new one. But in just the last two days I’ve heard everyone from a pampered movie star to people interviewed on the street to news anchors refer to this as the wrath of “Mother Nature”. To me that touches on one of the root causes of the problems we’re getting hit with, and that is a complete denial of God. These events are occuring because God is trying to get our attention and turn us away from our sins. (They are not, as some misguided people have claimed, happening because we elected Donald Trump as President.) Now I know all the meteorological explanations for storms like Harvey and Irma, but you have to remember that science can only describe the mechanics of how God does things. He is still sovereign and in control of events in the marvelous universe He created. He is using these storms to shake us out of our complacency, to get us to stop relying on ourselves and our technological cleverness and military might and start relying on Him. He is trying to get us to turn away from our humanism and our arrogance and our false belief systems and turn back to Him. He wants us to repent of all the wickedness that has become so prevalent and turn to Him through faith in His Messiah, the risen Jesus Christ. Time is running out, my friends. Events are happening exactly as prophesied and will continue to do so with increasing frequency. Don’t be one of the untold billions who will stubbornly refuse to heed His warnings. Jesus loves you, He died for you, and He stands before you with open arms wanting you to turn to Him and find eternal life. Don’t harden your hearts to Him.

May God comfort all those who have suffered in these disasters, and may He protect His children in Florida who stand in the path of this storm.

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Solar Eclipse Mania

Here in Oregon at least eclipse mania is running rampant regarding the total solar eclipse coming on Monday, August 21st. People are planning eclipse parties and organized “experiences” to celebrate the eclipse. Hundreds of thousands, if not a million or more visitors, are expected to flood into Oregon during the days just before and after the eclipse. The authorities are trying to avoid creating panic among residents, but at the same time they are warning that there will be immense traffic jams, shortages of necessities, and possible failure of such services as cell phones, the Internet, and possibly even electricity due to being overwhelmed by the huge influx of visitors. No one knows exactly what to expect, but all the projections for Lincoln County here on the coast (where I live) are that we will get hundreds of thousands of people coming here to watch the eclipse at “ground zero”, where it will first reach the coast of the US. But there is a bigger picture here that most people are missing. This eclipse will qualify as one of the “signs in the sun, moon and stars” prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:25. There is a long history of solar eclipses coming shortly before disasters of one kind or another, far too many to list in this post, but just taking a cursory look at a list of total solar eclipses visible in at least parts of North America since 1901, several interesting dates stand out. The last total eclipse visible in the main United States was on June 8, 1918. “But World War 1 ended a few months later, how was that disastrous?” True, but in 1918 the terrible Spanish flu pandemic began, and before it petered out in 1920 it had killed an estimated 50-100 million people worldwide. Another interesting date is the eclipse on July 9th, 1945; one month later the atomic bombs forced Japan to surrender after the detruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I could go on but you get the idea. This eclipse will be no different, it will be serve as a warning from God that some disaster is about to fall, and since this one will be visible from coast to coast in America it is aimed at us. We have to realize that in spite of all the noble words being pronounced by political and religious leaders about peace and safety possible in our day, our world is headed to judgement for our own wickedness. It is coming and will be unavoidable. Our only response should be to repent and turn to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then patiently wait for His return in power and glory to claim the earth as His own. It’s coming sooner rather than later. I plan on watching this eclipse, of course, but I do so in the knowledge that it is a wonder arranged by God for His purpose. Something to remember while we are swarming to witness this unique event.

May our LORD God have mercy on us in Jesus’ name.

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