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i.e. Issues and Events in “others’ words”

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ARE YOU PESTERING GOD? (The Father’s Importunity)

By Camilla Smith

We live in an environment of endless pursuit of answers.    Many of us are getting feverishly excited as we try to figure out the nearness of the Rapture, study the order of the Father’s “appointed times” (Jewish Feast dates), look for answers to historical mysteries that are being uncovered, and try to pinpoint Bible prophecy and the end game of the wars and final events.   We’re watching harbingers, looking at cycles, crunching numbers, and searching skies and the Scriptures–all of this is necessary and edifying.   Prophecy teachers have put in hundreds, probably thousands of hours trying to help us all put the puzzle together and to their credit, many of them have taught us remarkable things.   We seek answers and signs from our Heavenly Father, but what if He is waiting on us?

What is our call as watchmen on the wall?   Here it is, plainly in Scripture:  Isaiah 62:6-7 tells us “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, all the day and all the night, continually, who are not silent.  You who remember YHWH, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

Obviously, He wants us to pray unceasingly about this.   He wants us to come to Him about bringing in His Kingdom.   We’re waiting on Him, while He’s waiting on us!   Watchmen, it is time to start a revolution of approaching our Father respectfully, yet expectantly, in asking for our Marriage to Yahshua to take place.  A Kingdom Come Revolution, if you will.

First, we need to come BOLDLY to the throne rather than being so willy-nilly.  We seldom recognize the authority that we possess as a result of our love for Jesus.  I’ve kicked it into high-gear prayer mode, a step short of demanding (maybe beseech sounds better) that He bring our marriage to the Lamb to a real-time fact rather than our whining and begging every day.  Yes, many God-fearing men came BOLDLY before the throne.  It’s time for our marriage, inheritance, and eternal life with Christ to begin.

God being God will accomplish all of his salvations whether this side of the Rapture or during the Tribulation.   We lovers of Jesus say that it’s high time that our Messiah be elevated throughout the world and that every knee bow to the King of Kings.  Just like the fellow who pounded on his neighbor’s door for bread because of his importunity, we pound our prayers before the throne of God to ACT in our behalf.  Jesus tires of our repenting—we know that we are sinners, but if He can forget our sins, then we must also.

Think about this:  When satan was approaching the throne having to ‘ask’ God if he could put Job thru the ringer, God, knowing Job’s heart and faith, said OK to satans ‘requests’. Now if God allowed satan to test Job, His desire for us is to get serious about ‘demanding that our marriage take place’ may be the very thing holding Him back (tarrying)!   If we pray like that, God will have the legal right to answer us now instead of tarrying. He needs to tell satan that He is obliged to complete His program because the prayers of the saints have reached His Throne.  “The effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.”  James 5:16  

While we scramble with day-to-day living, seeking Him, learning, listening and watching, are we earnestly, humbly, yet boldly approaching our Father, asking Him to perform His will?   Are we praying multiple times a day, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”, or are we mumbling our memorized prayers as we drift off?   I’m guilty of this myself–but NO MORE.   From here on out, (and if He sends Jesus for us today, even better),  I resolve to continue to boldly, precisely and specifically importune the Father and give Him NO REST, asking that He fulfill His will, send Yahshua Ha’Mashiach for us, and begin the transformation to eternity with Him.

So where is your heart—here, or Up There?   If it is with Him, in His Kingdom, then let the “petitioning” begin.   He’s given us His permission, even instruction, to do so.   Put this PRAYER INTO PRACTICE every day!  Give Him no rest…No rest.

As I concluded writing this, I had a strong urgency about Jerusalem, and how MUCH the Father loves His Qodesh City.   Saints, it is imperative that we pray for Yerushalayim at this critical time in history.   “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”  Hebrews 13:14.   It is also imperative that we understand how MUCH He loves Her, “The bride, the wife of the Lamb” Revelation 21:9.

Dear Abba Father, my Master, my Adon, please hasten the day when you put your government in place. Those days will see Egypt, Israel, and Syria as friends. Yahshua, we, the world need this, and it is obvious that it can only come through judgment, just like you said. Let the Day of the Lord arrive.  Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done.  Father, we pray Your words for Yerushalayim, “We pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; may they prosper who love you.  Peace within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.”  Father, we pray this in Your Son’s Mighty Name, Yahshua ha’ Mashiach.       

 Your servant(s)

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The Seven Churches of Revelation – Part Two

by Ed Wood

The Church at Thyatira

Revelation {2:18-29} And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet [are] like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last [to be] more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have [already] hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The next church, represented by the ancient one of Thyatira, was the one which came to exist as a direct result of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. By the end of the Fourth Century, it was ironically the dominant faith in the Roman Empire, which had once done its worst to eradicate it. Over the course of time it split into eastern and western factions, namely the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches which still exist today.

Jesus praised the original church at Thyatira and by inference, its present incarnation in the two churches mentioned above, for its “works, and charity, and service, and faith,” patience, and thy works; and the last [to be] more than the first.” Clearly both have excelled at both in spreading the word across the globe, stepping in to aid in charitable ways, and persisting in these efforts across the centuries, right up until the present time.

But along with commendation there is condemnation, namely its association with “Jezebel.” As is the case with apocalyptic writings, our task is to try to determine the meaning of its symbolic references. In this case, it would seem that a strong case could be made that this is a reference to the wife of Ahab, king of Israel circa 919 – 897 B.C. According the account in 1 Kings, Jezebel was the daughter of King Ethbaal of Tyre and an ardent worshiper of the pagan god Baal. Ahab was very accommodating to his wife’s idolatrous worship and promoted its practice in his kingdom and in the persecution of God’s prophets such as the most prominent of that time, Elijah.

Though neither the Roman Catholic nor Orthodox Churches promote “Baal worship” both have unfortunately incorporated into their beliefs the practice of praying to Mary, the mother of Jesus and other assorted saints. In the Roman Catholic Church the term “saints” has evolved from the biblical meaning which applies it to all believers to someone in whose name a miracle has been accomplished due to prayers made to them. It is hard to imagine how everyone who is familiar with the First and Second Commandments can in good conscience accept a practice of praying to anyone other than God or enlisting the aid of any “intercessor” other than Jesus Christ himself when the Bible is quite clear on both of these matters:

Exodus {20:1-5} And God spake all these words, saying, I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

1 Timothy {2:5} For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

A simple question I’ve always had is: Since we already have access to God through his Son, why would we need a “second stringer?” I’ve never gotten an answer from anyone who endorses this practice.

Another form of idolatry is the concept of church tradition being put on an equal or even superior basis as Scripture because here we have the exact situation experienced by Peter and the apostles shortly after the birth of the church:

Acts {5:28-29} Did not we* straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. *Members of the Sanhedrin are speaking here.

In this case the Jewish religious authorities were arrogating to themselves the “final word,” when that actually belongs to God alone.

Church “tradition” across denominations has too often darkened its history with such excesses as the Inquisitions, anti-Semitism, the condoning of slavery and racism, making a mockery of what Jesus actually taught.

The message from Jesus to the church of Thyatira, and, we may assume its future representatives, does indicate that its members which do not subscribe to these serious errors but regard Scripture, “rather than men,” to be the ultimate authority regarding doctrine, will be duly rewarded in the life to come, being part of Jesus’ government on Earth when he returns.

To be fair, by virtue of their being so many diverse versions of the Christian Church today, it is probably fair to say most of them have doctrinal problems, except the Church of Smyrna which we explored in the last article and has since disappeared into history and the Church of Philadelphia, along with its present incarnation, which we will examine a little later. Both of them received only praise from Jesus.

Before we move on, it is important to mention that we have arrived at a significant point in our exploration. Remember that in the last article it was mentioned that the first three churches have disappeared into the past? Let’s take a moment to look at how the message to each of them concluded:

For Ephesus:

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

For Smyrna:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

For Pergamos

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it.]     

Contrast this passage in the conclusion of the message to the church at Thyatira:

But that which ye have [already] hold fast till I come.

In this case the indication is that this church will still exist in some form – at the time Jesus returns! As we look at the remaining three addressed in Revelation, we see the same indications. This may yet be one more sign that his return may be very soon indeed. That being said, let’s continue with our next church.

 

The Church at Sardis

Revelation {3:1-6} And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee*. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. * This is just one example of an unexpected return of Jesus (only for his followers, in this case) in complete contrast to the time when it is unmistakable to the whole world (Revelation 19:11-16). In order for both accounts to be true, they must be referring to two different events.

This is thought to represent the churches broke away from the Roman Church as it existed during the Reformation. Its most prominent feature is that it emphasized the doctrine of salvation through grace, not works and was likewise critical of what was considered corruption and other doctrinal errors of the Roman Catholic Church.

However, when reading the passage concerning it, it appears that though it might have started out on the right path, it quickly lost its way and was therefore admonished to “strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die.” Could this be reflective of the manner in which the majority of the Protestant denominations today have embraced biblically contrary doctrines such as the acceptance of active homosexual behavior, a denial that Jesus himself as being the only way of salvation, a rejection of his physical resurrection and the reality of a literal afterlife at all, and refusal to believe in his return to this planet to establish his everlasting Kingdom?

Verse 3b of this chapter also clearly indicates that most of this church won’t be ready for the Lord’s return. In other words, it will be just as big a surprise to it as to the non-Christian world alike because there is scant attention given to Bible Prophecy in most of the church today, regardless of denomination. But all is not lost because there is the hopeful mention of those who “have not defiled their garments” by accepting the “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1) and will one day literally walk with Jesus in his kingdom to come.

 

The Church at Philadelphia

 Revelation {3:7-13} And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David*, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.** Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, [which is] new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and [I will write upon him] my new name***. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. * Perhaps this means that As David was a conquering king over his adversaries, so Jesus is likewise over his. Of course, we are clearly not yet at the point where the results of his victory is fully realized, any more than David’s were immediate in his age, but the Bible teaches that one day they will be (Revelation, chapters 21 & 22).

** The indication here is that this church will be here on Earth in the present time and will be removed from the “hour of temptation (trial),” a good interpretation meaning the rapture, after which the Tribulation years will begin.”

*** Just as the false prophet will lead people to be marked with the name of the beast (antichrist), so God will cause his own to be marked as described above. Revelation 14:1 shows a partial fulfillment of this as regards to Israel.

As with the church as Smyrna, Jesus has only praise for the one at Philadelphia. In this case, it does not represent any single denomination but is comprised of all believers no matter which one (or even none at all) to which they belong. I suppose it would be safe to say that in many churches these days they adhere to the authority of Scriptural teachings in spite of what’s being preached in their pulpits. Why they choose to remain in some of them rather than leave is complex. Some, no doubt, stay in the hopes of changing them and getting them back on course. Others stay because they’ve gone to the same parish all their lives and don’t want to be uprooted. It’s probably safe to say the former are “Philadelphians” because having the courage of one’s convictions and bucking the tide is not an easy thing. As for the latter, the quality of their faith and is only something that God can decide.

Now it does not mean these individuals are perfect when it comes to doctrine because all of us are subject to what Paul said so well due to our human limitations:

1 Corinthians {13:11-12} When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

What is does say is that to the best of his or her ability, each defends the faith using the Bible as the standard, regardless of the opposition or immediate consequences. As far as the Western world is concerned, this church is sadly losing ground in the Western world, something Jesus no doubt saw coming 2000 years ago:

From the passage above we have:

Revelation 3:8 . . . . for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word . . .

And from Luke 18:8, Jesus said: Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

This is certainly not reflective of the quality of faith of its constituents. If anything, persecution, whether it be comparatively mild as in the U.S. (so far, at any rate!) or openly violent as in the recent cases of Muslim attacks on the Copts in Egypt, it has only served to strengthen their resolve to stand by their faith.

Smyrna and Philadelphia represents the church at its best. Now it’s time to look at it at its worst!

 

The Church at Laodicea

Revelation {3:14-22} And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.* He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

* Again, this is suggestive of this church being around in the present and those who do not follow its error will be saved.

It is probably no accident that the Laodicean Church shows up last, because this is indeed the state of affairs we increasingly have today. Jesus has nothing to commend in this one. We can look at it as being comprised of what I call “Comfortable Christians.” They show up each week, listen to latest non-judgmental the humanistic doctrine which pretty much teaches “anything goes.” Here’s an example from Pew Research (May 12, 2015) regarding the acceptance of homosexual behavior:

 

Denomination                                 Year 2007                             Year 2015

Roman Catholic                                    58%                                       70%

Mainline Protestants                             56%                                       66%

Orthodox Christian                               48%                                        62%

All Christians                                        44%                                        54%

Historically Black Protestants               39%                                        51%

Evangelical Protestants                       28%                                        36%

Mormon                                                24%                                       36%

Jehovah’s Witnesses                           12%                                        16%

 

If this one example of biblical doctrine being rejected in the church is representative of an overall erosion of the following scriptural precepts in today’s church, it is affecting all of them. Interestingly, the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, despite their other serious doctrinal errors, are doing better in this particular case than all the rest of them.

As a former life-long member of the Episcopal Church, I’ve personally seen this denomination fall apart doctrinally. Though the decline was decades in coming, in 2003 its decline into error became most evident as its triennial convention gave its assent to ordaining an open homosexual to the office of bishop. Now actively homosexual clergy people are no longer the uncommon. In the case of TEC, this was just the beginning of its descent into apostasy.

Former presiding bishop Kathryn Schori preached a “mother Jesus,” pluralistic salvation” (meaning that Jesus is not the only way to salvation (TIME Magazine, July 10, 2006), and that “confessional Christianity,” (i.e. that an individual can be saved by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) was a “great Western heresy” (opening remarks to TEC’s 76th Convention in July 2009). In the case of the Episcopal Church, there has been a ruthlessness exercised in any member parish not willing to “roll over” for these errors – the loss of its funds and property under the Dennis Canon which states that the church buildings and funds are only held in trust for their respective dioceses, not owned by their members. How this unjust principle ever got ratified into canon law seems positively devilish. The sad part about all this is that TEC is not unique because such heresy would find a welcome in most of the major protestant churches in Europe and North America.

Perhaps the biggest reason heresy has been so easy to foist on members of these denominations is that “Comfortable Christians” are also “lazy Christians” who never bothered to pick up their Bibles and read for themselves.

If one doesn’t know the truth, how can one possibly reject the lie?

 

Concluding Thoughts

From the best to the worst, the churches of Revelation present the whole spectrum. It seems fairly obvious where we must be in history based on where the church is now and where it is increasingly headed. I’ve personally watched the death spiral of the Episcopal Church from the inside and must admit I was amazed not only at the magnitude of its descent but the speed at which it occurred. I’ve watched many of the other Protestant denominations on the very same trajectory. If allowed to continue unabated, how long would it take before the percentages above top out at 100%? Based on the aforementioned acceleration into acceptance of the “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:2), it indicates that it will not be allowed to continue much longer.

For we who believe, this is just one more sign for us along with so many others that the time of our redemption must be very, very, near!

It has never been more vital than right now to keep looking up!

 

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Are We Rapidly Approaching the End of the Age?

By Michael Hile

Jesus’ disciples came to him privately while He sat upon the Mount of Olives and asked Him three questions (Matthew 24:1-3).  One question dealt with the time of the destruction of the temple. The other two questions were concerned with the end of the age. “…What will be the sign of your coming…?” and what will be the sign of “…the end of the age?”  The “end of the age” question was answered by Christ at the beginning of His Olivet discourse.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14

Producing Good Fruit

Jesus told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they needed to produce good fruit (righteous works) like a tree that brings forth good fruit. If they did not produce good fruit, worthy for repentance, they were spiritually worthless to God. As a tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire, so would their destiny be if they did not produce good works that were worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:7-10, 7:15-20; Luke 3:7-9, 6:43-45).

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:8-10

The principle that a tree should bring forth good fruit was taught by Jesus on several occasions. In the parable of the barren fig tree, Jesus used a fig tree (symbolic of Israel) that had not produced fruit for three years to represent the nation of Israel. The fig tree in the parable had not produced any good fruit (ripe figs) during the three years of Christ’s ministry to the Jewish people. Jesus was telling the Jewish nation that His ministry with them was drawing to a close, and if they did not produce fruit within the next year, their opportunity to repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah would soon pass.

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’  And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9

Since Israel did not produce good fruit (ripe figs) at Jesus’ first coming, the nation was cut down, as a tree, in A.D. 70 by the Roman army, and the Jewish house of worship, the temple, was destroyed.  Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of the temple, with not one stone left upon another, was accurately fulfilled (Matthew 24:2). As King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was cut down like a tree, taken from him and later restored, the nation of Israel, represented by the fig tree, was cut down for failing to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and not recognizing “the time of their visitation” (Daniel 4:1-37, Job 14:7-9, Luke 19:41-44). The Kingdom of God was taken away from Israel but will be restored after the Lord refines them “as silver is refined,” and tests them “as gold is tested” at the end of the age (Matthew 21:42-43, Zechariah 13:7-9, 14:1-16).

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him. Matthew 21:43-44

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

Figs are symbolic of the Jewish people in several places in the Scriptures (Jeremiah 24:1-10, Hosea 9:8-10).  When Israel did not produce good figs at Christ’s first coming, He cursed the fig tree, which is symbolic of the Jewish nation of Israel (Matthew 21:17-20; Mark 11:11-14, 19-22).

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it… And when evening came they went out of the city. As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”  And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.”  Mark 11:11-22

The question posed earlier in Matthew concerning “What will be the sign of your coming?” is answered by Jesus with a parable (Matthew 24:32-34, Mark 13:28-30, Luke 21:29-32).  The importance placed on this particular parable, as distinguished from the other parables, is magnified by its appearance in three of the gospels. In Matthew and Mark’s versions of the parable of the fig tree, Christ tells us to “learn a parable of the fig tree” while Luke’s version instructs us to “look at the fig tree and all the trees” (“look,” “watch,” or “behold”).

Matthew’s Version of the Fig Tree Parable

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:32-34

The practical application Jesus gave was to be learned from observing the fig tree. When you see a (literal) fig tree with branches full of sap (becoming tender), and producing new leaves, these signs meant that summer was near.  The spiritual application, hidden to many, teaches when the fig tree (symbolic of Israel) comes back to life, we are to know that Christ’s return is near. The generation that sees Israel come back to life will not die off until all the events involved with the second coming of Christ take place. All current and future generations were to watch the fig tree (Israel) for signs of new life. This parable could not be properly understood until after Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans, and the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world.

Luke’s Version of the Fig Tree Parable

Luke’s version of the parable of the fig tree gives additional insight into what to watch for in order to understand when Christ will return (i.e., “the sign of your coming”).

And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Luke 21:29-32

We are told by Jesus in many Scriptures to “watch” for Christ’s return (Matthew 24:42-43, 25:13, Mark 13:33-37, Luke 12:37-40, 21:36, Philippians 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, 2 Timothy 4:8, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28, Revelation 3:3, 16:15).

What are we to watch for? Several signs and indicators are given in the aforementioned Scriptures for the general time of Christ’s return, and we are to watch for them as the Scriptures command. In the parable of the fig tree, Luke records Jesus’ specific words where He said to “Watch the fig tree and all the trees” (Luke 21:29). (1)

  1. Watch the fig tree (Israel)
  2. Watch all the trees (Gentile nations)
  3. Watch for leaves sprouting on the fig tree (signs of life)
  4. Watch for leaves sprouting on all the trees (signs of life)

When the fig tree (Israel) and all the trees (Gentile nations) come to life, the parable of the fig tree, which is a date specific and generation specific prophecy, begins its countdown to the return of Christ and the setting up of the Kingdom of God.

Has the Fig Tree (Israel) Put Forth Leaves (come to life)?

The Jewish people, displaced from their homeland for centuries, began showing signs of life during the second half of the 19th century (1850-1900) when waves of Jews (aliyah) started coming back to the land of Israel. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the “Father of Zionism,” was the visionary behind the modern return of the Jewish people and reestablishment of a Jewish homeland. (2)

Herzl organized the first world congress of Zionism that met in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897 and became the first president of the World Zionist Organization. (3) The goals of the organization were set forth in the Basle Program: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine, secured under public law.” (4)

The Balfour Declaration, dated November 2, 1917, paved the way for the United Nations partition resolution for Palestine on November 29, 1947 and the subsequent formation of the state of Israel on May 14-15, 1948. The fig tree (Israel) came back to life during the first half of the 20th century (1900-1950), and Israel is now producing young figs (potential Jewish believers) that will be harvested at the end of the age.

Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the Lord; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God. Isaiah 66:7-9

For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. Job 14:7-9

In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit. Isaiah 27:6

And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. 2 Samuel 7:8-10

Have All the Trees (Gentile nations) Put Forth Leaves (come to life)?

Trees are symbolic of nations, kingdoms, and empires in several places in the Bible (Daniel 4:10-26; Ezekiel 17:22-24, 31:3-18; Judges 9:7-21).  In Luke’s version of the fig tree parable, many trees are pictured as coming to life around the same time as the fig tree (Luke 21:29-32).  Jesus said to “watch the fig tree and all the trees.” When they begin to show signs of life, by producing leaves, you are to “know” that the generation that sees this take place will also be the generation that sees the Kingdom of God established on earth.

So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Matthew 24:33 NASB

So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Mark 13:29 ESV

So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:31 ESV

The parable of the fig tree does not say that “we might know,” or “we should know,” that “the Kingdom of God is near.” Christ proclaimed in all three gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that when “the fig tree and all the trees” put forth leaves, we were to definitely and emphatically “know” and “recognize” that “the Kingdom of God is near.” The generation that witnesses “the fig tree (Israel) and all the trees (Gentile nations)” come to life was specifically chosen by Christ to usher in the Kingdom of God at the end of the age. When the fig tree (Israel) puts forth leaves, the generation that sees this take place is to “know” and “recognize” that His coming was “near, at the very gates.”

The Proliferation of Nations

The growth of nations in the world is a long, evolutionary process where the date of a country’s “formation” cannot always be objectively determined.  England and France, for instance, were sovereign kingdoms during the medieval period, however England is not now a sovereign state (having passed sovereignty to the UK in 1707), and France is a republic founded in 1792 but refers to itself as the French Fifth Republic, formed in 1958. (5)

Independence dates for widely recognized states prior to 1919 should be treated with caution, since prior to the founding of the League of Nations, there was no international body to recognize nationhood, and independence had no meaning beyond self-recognition from the sovereign state itself (the role of the League of Nations was taken over by the United Nations after the Second World War). (6)

Since the formation, expansion, division, dissolving and reorganizing of nations is subject to wars, internal conflicts (coup d’état) and changes in leadership and governing bodies, the number of independent, sovereign states (also nations, countries) in the world has been subject to change. Factors for determining statehood have included independence dates, dates of constitutions, symbolic foundation dates and, more recently, international recognition from the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. Dates of national formation vary slightly among varied sources, however the total number of independent, sovereign nations in the world today is considered to be 195-197 by several sources. (7), (8), (9), (10)

Before the 20th century (1899 and earlier), there were 44 countries that had achieved statehood. The 20th century saw 147 new sovereign states added, with many splitting off from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Soviet Union. The first half of the 20th century (1900-1950) saw 38 new states created while the second half (1950-2000) experienced an unprecedented addition of 109 new, sovereign states. Only five nations have been recognized as sovereign states in the 21st century (2000 to date). (11)

The number of new nations in the world multiplied quickly after World War II (1945) and continued at a rapid pace for the next 50 years. This proliferation of new nations during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000) abruptly ended on October 1, 1994 after Palau became a nation. Only five nations have become sovereign states since 1994 with the last, South Sudan, receiving statehood on July 9, 2011.

Creation of the League of Nations and United Nations

The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the first World War, and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security.” The League of Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War. (12) The name “United Nations” was coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was first used in the “Declaration by United Nations” on January 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter.

The charter was signed on June 26, 1945 by representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 member states. The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, after the charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on October 24th of each year. (13)

The Growth in Membership of the United Nations

Only independent, sovereign states can become members of the United Nations (UN). There are currently 193 member states in the UN, with the last member, South Sudan, joining on July 14, 2011. The main functioning bodies of the UN are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat.  All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded. (14)

The growth of membership in the United Nations was rapid during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000).  At its inception in 1945, 51 countries (original members) joined the organization. By 1950 there were 60 members, 80 in 1956, 135 in 1973, 185 in 1994, and 193 in 2011. (15) There are 54 countries and territories not currently in the United Nations. (16) On November 29, 2012, Palestine was granted the status of “Non-member observer state” but hasn’t yet been admitted to the UN as a full member. (17) As of 2015, there are two permanent non-member observer states at the United Nations: The Holy See and Palestine. (18)

The Judgment of Nations

The judgment of nations and peoples at the end of the age (the harvest) is found throughout the Old and New Testaments and in corresponding passages in the book of Matthew (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; 25:31-46, Zephaniah 3:8, Zechariah 14:1-19). Jesus’ description of the end of the age after His return involves the gathering of all nations together by His angels, who will separate the people, as the sheep and goats are divided. The saved (sheep) will inherit the Kingdom of God and eternal life, and the unsaved (goats) will suffer the same fate as the devil and his angels.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’  Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.  Matthew 25:31-46

Because the nations of the world have scattered the Jewish people throughout the world for nearly 2000 years (A.D. 70 to present) and have been, since Israel became a nation in 1948 till now, persistently harassing Israel to give up their land to obtain “peace and security,” God will, at the end of the age, take vengeance on those who have been afflicting and oppressing His people (Deuteronomy 32:35-36).

For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it. Joel 3:1-3

The Peace and Security Agreement

While the nations of the world, with the United States taking the lead, have been involved with on-going negotiations in Middle East peace talks to force Israel to accept a diabolical peace agreement, these unwitting persecutors of Israel do not realize they are setting a trap for themselves that will lead to their “sudden destruction” (Luke 21:34-36, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, Revelation 3:10).

This judgment from God upon the global leaders, who are continuously pressing Israel to accept a false peace covenant (Isaiah 28:18, Daniel 9:27), will come upon them in the same manner as a woman having birth pangs. The implication is an increase both in frequency and intensity of warnings that will end abruptly with their “sudden destruction.”

The four main participants pushing the Israel-Palestinian peace process, referred to as the Quartet (US, Russia, EU, UN), who use the words “peace and security” on a regular basis in their speeches and formal documents, send veiled signals to those who are watching for signs of Christ’s return, that we are living in the “times and seasons” of the rapture and the day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:1-11).

The words “peace and safety” or “peace and security” are ancient code words used by the apostle Paul, in his essay to the Thessalonians, that could not be fully understood until Israel had been restored to their land and the Israel-Palestinian peace process had become a major concern of all the nations in the world.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

The Day of the Lord and the Day of Redemption

The code words “peace and security,” that are used frequently in the ongoing Israel-Palestinian peace process, signal the imminent arrival of “the times and seasons” of the catching up of the saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  The repetitive use of the words “peace and security” by the globalists is also a harbinger of the “sudden destruction” linked to “the day of the Lord” that follows the translation of the saints (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).

The rapture of the saints, which comes as a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-44, Luke 12:35-40, Revelation 3:3, 16:15), and the day of the Lord, which also comes as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10), may well be describing events that are closely connected (contiguous). (Rapture—1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, John 14:1-3, Titus 2:11-14; Day of the Lord—1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Joel 1:15-20, 2:1-11, Amos 5:18-20, Zephaniah 1:7-18)

The apostle Paul describes two types of people: Those who are caught off guard by “the day of the Lord” and those who escape “the day of the Lord.” There are those who are in darkness, and those who are not; those who are overtaken, and those not overtaken; children of the light and day and those of the night and darkness; some who are awake and others who are asleep; some who are watching and are sober and others who do not watch or remain sober; those who receive wrath, and those who receive salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:4-9).

The day of the Lord brings wrath to some (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, 9; Luke 21:34-35, 2 Peter 3:10), and the day of redemption brings salvation to others (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30, Romans 8:19-23, Luke 21:28, 36, 2 Peter 3:9). For those living just prior to “the day of the Lord,” the only way to escape “the day of the Lord” will be removal before it begins, which will be accomplished by the catching up of the saints on “the day of redemption” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day (the day of the Lord) come on you unexpectedly. For it (the day of the Lord) will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things (the day of redemption) that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36 NKJV

The Parable of the Net

The coming to life of many nations during the 20th century also lends additional support and meaning to the Parable of the Net (also dragnet) where many people (also nations) are gathered together for judgment at the end of the age. Is there solid, Scriptural proof in the Bible that confirms we are nearing “the end of the age,” and the generation that is now present on earth will see the return of Christ and the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom?

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:47-50

Are we living in the “times and seasons” just before “…the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus?” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, 9-10, 2 Peter 3:3-14, Jude 14-18).

The prophet Daniel was not given understanding of events that would take place at the time of the end; however, he did understand that God would give wisdom to those living in the end times who knew the Scriptures, especially the prophetic Scriptures, and understood “the times and seasons” of the coming of the Lord (Daniel 2:20-23, 2 Timothy 3:14-16, 1 Chronicles 12:32, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18-5:1-11).

But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase… but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. Daniel 12:4, 10

World Government and the Rise of Antichrist

The total number of sovereign, independent nations present in the world grew from 44 at the end of the 19th century (1900) to around 195 nations in just over 100 years.  Nearly all the nations of the world (193) have agreed to the United Nations Charter and have become members since its formation in 1945. Since the growth of new nations in the world appears to have reached its climax, and the majority of nations now belong to a world order (UN) that wants to eliminate national borders and form a one world government, are “all the trees” (Gentile nations) alluded to in Luke’s parable now in place for the rise of Antichrist and implementation of global government? Are we approaching the end of the age where one global ruler will create a surveillance society and control all commercial transactions involving buying and selling? (Daniel 7:15-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Revelation 13:1-18).

And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.  

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain… And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. Revelation 13:6-18 NASB

Watch the Fig Tree and All the Trees

Does conclusive evidence exist in the Scriptures and today’s headlines that reveal the “times and seasons” of Christ’s return? (Acts 1:7-9, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Hebrews 10:23-25, Luke 21:28-32). Are we seeing prophetic stage setting take place in the Middle East with Russia (Magog), Iran (Persia) and Turkey (Togarmah) forming alliances that will come against Israel as predicted by the prophet Ezekiel over 2500 years ago? (Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39).

A significant, but concealed indicator of the approaching end of the age is contained in Luke’s version of the Parable of the Fig Tree. Jesus said to “Watch the fig tree and all the trees.” Watching “all the trees,” as we now know, meant watching all the nations as they come alive in conjunction with Israel before the end of the age. The proliferation of new nations during the 20th century gave new meaning to “watch…all the trees.”

“The fig tree” (Israel) officially came back to life in 1948, and “all the trees” (Gentile nations) have come alive, some before, and more after Israel became a nation in 1948. There were seventy-five nations present in the world when Israel became a nation on May 14-15, 1948. After Israel’s rebirth as a nation, 120 nations have been recognized as independent, sovereign states. (19)

Jesus told His apostles before His ascension that it was not for them “to know the times or the seasons” when the Kingdom of God would be established on earth (Acts 1:6-7). Rather, Christ reserved the understanding of this mystery about “the times and seasons’ of His return for the generation that would see “the fig tree and all the trees” come to life (Luke 21:29-32, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18-5:1-11).

The Pharisees and Sadducees were spiritually blind to the signs of Christ’s first coming (Matthew 16:1-3). When they asked Him for a sign, Jesus acknowledged their ability to interpret the weather, based upon the appearance of the sky, but they failed to grasp “the signs of the times” present everywhere. How much more are many of the religious leaders of this generation blind to the “signs of the times” that are heralding Christ’s second coming?

After observing the coming to life of “the fig tree and all the trees” after World War II and during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000), we can be assured, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the events that take place just before Christ’s return are nearing fulfillment. This means His coming is “near, right at the door.”

According to Christ’s words, when “the fig tree and all the trees” put forth leaves (come alive), we are to absolutely and confidently “know” the Kingdom of God is near, and the generation that is living at that time “will not pass away until all is fulfilled.” The preponderance of Scriptural and global evidence is overwhelming that we are the generation Christ was talking about.

______________________________________________________________________________

Endnotes

(1) A Literal Translation of the Bible, Jay P. Green, Sr., The Interlinear Bible—Hebrew, Greek, English,  Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, copyright 1976

(2) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/theodor-binyamin-ze-rsquo-ev-herzl

(3) https://www.britannica.com/biography/Theodor-Herzl

(4) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/world-zionist-organization-wzo

(5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_by_date_of_formation

(6) ibid

(7) LeParisienhttp://dictionnaire.sensagent.leparisien.fr/list+of+countries+in+chronological+order+of+achievin     g+statehood/en-en/

(8) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2088.html

(9) http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/countries_of_the_world.htm

(10) https://www.countries-ofthe-world.com/all-countries.html

(11) LeParisien

(12)  http://www.un.org/en/sections/history/history-united-nations/index.html

(13) ibid

(14)  ibid

(15)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlargement_of_the_United_Nations

(16)  https://www.quora.com/United-Nations-What-countries-are-not-part-of-the-UN

(17)  http://www.worldometers.info/united-nations/

(18)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_General_Assembly_observers

(19) LeParisien

Unless specified otherwise, all scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV), NASB—New American Standard Version, or NKJV—New King James Version.

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The Seven Churches of Revelation – Part One

By Ed Wood

In the second and third chapters of Revelation, Jesus had messages for the seven churches which existed in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) at the end of the first century A.D. This was the time at what would ultimately become the last book of the Bible was given to the apostle John, the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2), while he was exiled on the island of Patmos.

A reasonable question for us would be: “How does it apply to us now almost 20 centuries later?” Were Jesus’ words intended only for those churches at that time, or do they have significance for the present day?

The answer is that many Bible scholars believe that every one of those ancient churches were also prefigurements of churches which were to follow. Let’s look at each one of them and see if this is a valid claim. First, the introduction:

Revelation {1:12-16} And I* turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man**, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength.

*John ** Jesus

This is followed by an explanation by Jesus of what the candlesticks and stars represent:

Revelation {1:19-20} Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels* of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. * From the Greek aggelos which means “messenger” (Strong’s Concordance). It can refer to a heavenly messenger or a human one. In this case and in the passages to the churches which follow, it is most likely directed to their respective human chief pastors who served as “messengers of the Word.” It wouldn’t have been necessary to give the message to John had God chosen to employ heavenly angels as he did to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the fields (Luke 2).

Now we will look at each one of the churches in turn.

The Church at Ephesus

Revelation {2:1-7} Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

This church bears many parallels to the first which began on the day of Pentecost in which the apostles received the initial and permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). It is commended for its stance against evil and false doctrine, yet, as time went by, it, too, became subject to error. In fact, many of Paul’s letters were meant to address various errors and conflicts which had sprung up. Its members had left their “first love” of proclaiming the Gospel without distortion and of not living in harmony with each other.

One of the several characteristics which earned them praise, however, was their rejection of the “deeds of the Nicolaitanes.” there are two possibilities regarding this reference. The first is that it is referring to the followers of Nicolaus, a heretic (Strong’s Concordance). It may be the same Nicolas, a pagan convert from Antioch Syria, who became one of the initial deacons (Acts 6:5) but later reverted again to paganism.

A second other possibility is that there were church leaders who ran roughshod over their adherents since the term “Nicolaitan” translates as “victorious over the people” (Strong’s). There have been plenty of examples of religious leaders doing just that throughout history, a sorry trend that when practiced to its extreme even brings death.

Perhaps both characteristics were in play at the time Jesus related his words to John.. The Lord then concluded by saying anyone belonging to this church who overcame all the failings he indicated would be live on eternally in paradise.

The Church at Smyrna

Revelation {2:8-11} And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Jesus had much earlier told his disciples:

John {15:18-19} If the world hate you, ye know that [it hated] me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

The Lord became the first object lesson of that hate at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government. This persecution continued with vigor upon his followers. If there was one person who personified all those trying to crush them it had to be Saul of Tarsus, a Roman citizen and Pharisaic Jew whose self-chosen role was to track them all down and deliver them up in chains. Armed with the appropriate letters and the power from the religious authorities, he headed for Damascus to do just that – until his encounter with the post-ascendant Jesus changed his whole life. Saul became Paul, the writer of most of the epistles comprising the New Testament and the greatest evangelist of the gentile world of his time. Though Simon Peter played some part in that outreach (Acts, chapter 10), his mission was primarily to his Jewish kinsmen (Galatians 2:8).

Unlike the church at Ephesus, Jesus found no fault within it and the “overcoming” he spoke of was not against any error on its part, but against the outside forces opposing it. Those who did resist, even to the point of death, would be given the “crown of life” and not be subject to the “second death” described in Revelation 20:14-15 where the unsaved would be condemned to the lake of fire forever. Instead, they would be “blessed and holy,” (Revelation 20:6) and reign with Jesus during his Millennial Kingdom. In fact, except for John, all the apostles, including Paul, were martyred for the faith.

The Church at Pergamos

Revelation {2:12-17} And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges*; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan’s seat [is:] and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas **[was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam***, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. {He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the  churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone****, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it.]

* See Hebrews 4:12.

** Probably the Bishop of Pergamos who was killed by being thrown into a brass bull statue which had been heated to a lethal temperature.

*** Balaam – a fortuneteller hired by the Midianite Balac [Balak] to curse the Israelites but who refused, (Numbers, chapters 22-24). Balaam was later killed by them (Joshua 13:22). A negative comment about him shows up in 2 Peter 2:11-15 and the historian Josephus (Antiquities, Book 4, chapter 6) suggests that though he would not curse the Hebrews outright, he advised Balak to use the Midianite women to tempt the men and lead them into idolatry. This account supports Peter’s contention quite well.

**** The “white stone” analogy may have a double meaning. First, at the conclusion of a trial, those deciding on the accused’s fate would either cast a white stone for acquittal or a black stone for condemnation. Second, it was also the custom for one giving a party to send a personalized greeting – a white stone- to those invited with a message on it intended specifically for them. I believe this is telling us that those who did as Jesus directed would receive both acquittal for their sins and a new home tailored precisely for them in the world to come (John 14:2-3).

            Many Roman emperors made it their business to exterminate the new faith. If Nero (A.D. 54 – 68) wasn’t the worst, he was certainly on the short list for being so. In the year 64 the city was devastated by a fire and he promptly blamed to the Christians, having them put to death in his own garden. Peter and Paul met their ends during his reign – Paul was likely beheaded, since he was a Roman citizen and Peter crucified upside-down because he was not.

Despite the ongoing persecutions of many the Roman emperors, the Christian faith still grew for the next two centuries. In the year 312, there was a turn-around. Emperor Constantine the Great had a vision described by his son’s tutor Lactantius which directed him to put the sign of the cross on his soldiers’ shields and go into what is called the battle of Milvian Bridge at which he was successful. From that point on Christianity became an accepted religion and was now intertwined with Constantine’s government itself.

The church of Pergamos has been compared with this “state church.” The original church existed right in the midst of “Satan’s seat,” and the description describes the stresses it was under in that pagan city. It is easy to imagine the “state church” was subject to many of the same stresses producing idolatry and apparently including a “victory over the people” approach practiced by its leaders. A combination of church and state, i.e. a theocracy, has historically never worked out in the long run. Ancient Egypt had its pharaohs, Rome had its supposed “divine” emperors. The Roman Catholic Church had its share of supposedly “infallible” popes who were clearly corrupt, insane, or both and whose “Nicolaitan” approach taken to extremes resulted in the Inquisitions at its worst, or simply keeping its members in check with the threats of damnation for failing to adhere to church doctrine, even if it was scripturally unsound.

Protestant sects were and currently not immune to such abuses when they are tightly enmeshed with the civil government as witnessed by such tragic events the Salem Witch Trials, the unopposed disgrace of racism by nominally Christian churches in the United States right into the Twentieth Century, and the “Reich Church” of the Nazis in the last century. This list, sadly, like the number of demons in the possessed Gergasene demoniac, are legion (Mark 5:1-20).

Though I believe that a separation of church and state is a necessity for the reasons above, this is not to say the biblical standards of morality and justice should be excluded from civil authority. In America, I believe our government was at its best when this was the case. The founding fathers certainly believed that, too, and it is only in the last few decades that this principle has become increasingly abandoned.

In my view, the government also crossed the separation principle of the First amendment when in 1963 the Supreme Court presumed to tell Americans when and where they may or may not pray – in our schools, for example.

In the face of this, I present these two questions: Where was and is the opposition of Christian Church to this blatant intrusion on our freedoms and as a society are we better off now for it?

Concluding Thoughts

This is a good stopping point in our exploration of the seven churches of Revelation because despite their differences, these first three have one thing in common – all have slipped away into the pages of history.

The Ephesian Church came to an end when the last of the original apostles died (once again including Paul,) which was followed by the persecuted church of Smyrna. This is not, by any means, to say true Christians are no longer subject to persecution. For over 2000 years Jesus’ words of John 16:33 have been confirmed repeatedly.

It finds its harshest extremes in autocratic nations today which are officially atheistic or under fundamental Islamic rule and in more subtle forms where Bible-believing and affirming Christians find themselves excluded from the established denominations which have “gone rogue” and fallen into apostasy.

The difference, I believe, is a question of magnitude. In its time, the Smyrnan church was the target of what was essentially a world government as far as the Mediterranean region of the world is concerned. We are not likely to encounter anything like this again until the Antichrist appears and proclaims himself as “God.” in which the entire planet will be involved, though the trend away from a Christian world view is already well under way in Western civilization.

Nor does there presently exist any neo-Pergamos Church in which a fusion between civil government and a Christian church comparable to what existed in Constantine’s time. This, however, will likely be replicated in the Tribulation as well with a “one-world religion” operating in concert with a “one-world government” under the control of the aforementioned Antichrist.

Now this is not to say that modern churches may not still have shared characteristics with these historical ones, because they certainly might. However as entities in and of themselves, the three we have examined so far have ceased to exist.

But what of the final four? Have they all disappeared into the past as well?

That’s just one of the questions we’ll examine in the next article.

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New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem

By Ed Wood

March 4, 2017

Matthew {6:10} Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. *The speaker here is Jesus, responding to his disciples’ request on teaching them how to pray. 

Isaiah {64:4} For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. 

1 Corinthians {2:9} But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Revelation {21:10} And he* carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light [was] like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. *An angel. The narrator is John the apostle, also author of the Gospel of John. 

I began this article right after taking my usual predawn walk. It’s February in New England. The day is warmer than normal, but was still in the mid-thirties, the air crisp and refreshing. I was surrounded by the sounds of birds greeting the arrival of the new day, each with his or her own song. A waning crescent moon hung to the south in a blue sky punctuated by high cirrus and lower alto-cumulus clouds, all of which promised a gorgeous sunrise. It did not disappoint when the still-hidden sun touched the clouds with an orange glow which changed to yellow and then white as it cleared the horizon.

My thought was, “How can it get better than this?”

The answer is, as we’ll see, it’s going to get a lot better! (But the road to that time will be rough, to be sure, as we’ve seen in my Olivet Series.)

The fact of the matter is that this small space and time of personal tranquility is becoming increasingly rare in a world that is, quite frankly, falling apart on every level you can imagine. You have only to watch the TV, listen to the radio, or read the newspaper to have that unceasing message driven home that the human race is one messed-up species.

Added to the mixture are the increase of stresses on Earth itself. Earthquakes, extremes of weather, and the global temperature rising as the planet’s atmospheric greenhouse gases increase. Yes, I realize many think the latter is a bogus claim, but for me the science is unmistakable. Carbon dioxide levels are now at 400 parts per million which are historically high.  Since this gas is transparent to visible light and opaque to infra-red (heat), the visible sunlight gets through to hit the ground and the re-radiated heat gets trapped in. Now a modest greenhouse effect is good. In fact, without it, Earth would be a frozen ice world like Hoth of Star Wars fame. But too much of a good thing is not necessarily better. Now we can reasonably debate over how much of this is due to human activity and how much is due to natural causes, but from all the evidence, global warming is a real deal.

That being said, we must be on particular guard for those who would use this issue as an excuse to consolidate political or economic power for themselves in the promotion of global authority verses national sovereignty. My biggest problem with the green movement is that there is virtually no mention nor serious effort on its part to push development of the one technology that would drastically curtail carbon emissions from fossil fuels which is nuclear fusion. This is seven times more efficient than our current fission technology and the fuel source is hydrogen, one of the two components of plain water. Hydrogen fusion is also safer, cannot cause a melt- down, and does not produce the tons of spent nuclear fuel which has to be stored away for millennia in a containment system which does not current even exist. What are they waiting for?

The Bible does tell us though a one-world government is ultimately coming under the Antichrist, there is no reason for us to not to resist the any impetus toward global government by any faction as best as we can for as long as we can. However, let’s concentrate on the purpose of this article which is to look ahead to a future so stunningly magnificent that we can only imagine it in a very partial manner. I’m sure John himself found himself quite limited in his description of the Ne Jerusalem and the new universe which will one day exist having only words available to describe it. Nevertheless, his account is still compelling and wondrous.

John’s first impression of the New Jerusalem was one of a “bride adorned for her husband, (Revelation 21:2) and follows it in Revelation 21:10 as filled with light, the source of which is God himself, shining throughout its crystalline structure. Throughout the Bible there are many references to God and Jesus and light. Interestingly, even in our present universe, light always travels 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum, no matter where you happen to be or how fast you’re moving. If we expand the definition of light to include all forms of it above and below that which is perceptible to the human eye, it is omnipresent, even existing as a faint background radiation from the very fabric of space itself. In Einstein’s famous equation of E = mc2, the conversion of matter to energy and vice-versa is based on the speed of light. Life needs heat so the molecular activity necessary for life can exist, plants need it for photosynthesis, and animals need the plants. It’s that simple.

Now this is not to say God is a beam of sunlight or the hiss of that ancient background radiation, but for some reason he chose to apply the term light to a description of himself for us to ponder, appreciate, and wonder upon. Like the light he created, he is omnipresent and very necessary for all life anywhere it might be in all its many forms. We have here a tantalizing mystery the fullness of which may have to wait for the new life to come. How very appropriate that John describes the New Jerusalem is a brilliant city of divine light!

Next we learn of some more of its physical characteristics:

Revelation {21:23} And had a wall great and high, [and] had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was [of] jasper: and the city [was] pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city [were] garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation [was] jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a  chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;  The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.

From the description we see God’s City is “foursquare,” or cubical, each side measuring “twelve thousand furlongs.” A furlong is 660 feet so 12,000 of them equals 7,920,000 feet or 1500 miles exactly. Now stop and think about that a moment – the New Jerusalem is a cube 1500 miles per side! To put this into perspective, it would cover about half the United States. Each side is about 70% the size of the moon, or about the size of Pluto! So, we are talking about a city of planetary dimensions!

We see it has twelve foundations of precious and semi-precious stones inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles, twelve gates made of single pearl with twelve angels bearing the names of the tribes of Israel, three per side of the city, which are inserted into a 216 foot high jasper wall. The latter, when you think about it, is actually tiny compared to the overall size of the city, but the fact that it exists must have some significance. The streets within are made of transparent gold.

In our modern age, cities artificially lit with bright lighting is commonplace, but in John’s day light was limited to dim flickering lamps, torches, or the like.  Imagine how the apostle must have wondered at the steady brilliance of God’s heavenly city! Even to us I am sure it would be a stunning sight since the source of this light is not electrical in nature but, as we’ve already seen,  a radiance emanating from God himself!

Before we see what comes next, let’s consider the implications of a city of this immense size being able to land on Earth. From what we know about the physical laws of our present-day universe, it’s not possible.

The Roche Limit

I’m sure just about everyone has seen pictures of Saturn. If you’re fortunate enough to have or know someone with a telescope, odds are you gotten direct a look at it yourself. The first time I saw it in the days of my youth, I couldn’t believe it was real. There it was, a small yellow disk encircled with marvelous rings just floating up in the sky. Saturn is not alone with a ring system, but the ones it has are the most impressive of the lot, easily seen in even a small telescope. In subsequent years we’ve gotten a much closer look, most recently by the wildly successful Cassini mission and its wonderful images sent back to our small world across anywhere from three-quarters to over a billion miles away, depending on its orbital location relative to Earth. The next likely question one would ask is, why do they exist at all?

There is something called the Roche limit which states that a moon or other sizeable celestial body can’t remain intact should it drift to close to a planet (or anything else with a large gravity field like a star or black hole). The limit is around 1.22 times the primary’s diameter and for Saturn with a diameter or 75,000 miles it works out to be about 92,000 from its center or 54,000 miles from its surface. Get any closer than that and you would not want to be living in an outpost on that object because it would start coming apart under your feet. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration because in most cases it’d take quite a while for the disintegration. (Probably wouldn’t be a good idea to invest in real estate there at any rate!) Scientists believe this is already happening to Mars’ inner moon Phobos which displays strange grooves across its surface and is very near the Roche limit of 5000 miles from the planet. Given sufficient time it will one day break up into rings, or ring arcs.

The reason for this is actually not hard to comprehend if we observe how things behave in orbit. For example, the International Space Station, which is only about 250 miles up, goes around the Earth in 90 minutes. Weather satellites which are in geosynchronous orbits that keep them over the same spot relative to the Earth’s surface are 22,300 miles up, completing one revolution in 23 hours and 56 minutes, same as one rotation. The moon takes roughly a month and is about 238,000 miles away. The rule is, the higher the orbit, the slower an object will go.

For small things like artificial satellites, spacecraft, small asteroids, and meteors, the Roche effect is too small to be a problem. For something really big, it’s a whole new story. Bring the moon within 6000 miles of the Earth’s surface and the parts of it which are on the side farther away will try to go into orbit at a slower rate than those parts on the nearer Earth. Ultimately would successfully go their separate ways because the tidal stresses would be stronger than the molecular forces which holds the moon together. The result would be a huge and respectably sized-ring around Earth.

If you think this is bad news for the moon, it is also bad news for the Earth because the increasing effects of the moon’s gravity as it approaches would play havoc. We’re not just talking about super-high sea tides, but land tides as well. Our planet would be subject to earthquakes beyond anything we have ever known since humans have walked upon it. It would not surprise me if the frictional forces generated liquefied Earth’s surface into molten lava. Depending on the moon’s trajectory, impact is a possibility and the results of that are easily imagined.

Since we already know the New Jerusalem is a huge object, it is probably safe to assume that even if present-day Earth’s gravity didn’t pull it apart and if it has a gravity field of some type of its own, the consequences to our planet would be similarly catastrophic. This problem doesn’t even consider the problem of trying to land a 1500 mile tall object on a planet only 8000 miles in diameter. The top of the city would reach 1500 miles up, far past our atmosphere, except for its lower levels, and beyond the orbits of the space station and low-Earth orbiting satellites.

In my opinion, John’s vision of the New Jerusalem coming to Earth require a whole new set of rules. This appears to be exactly what God has promised to do.

And he* that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. (*God) (Revelation 21:5a)

After the seven year Tribulation time, Earth is brought back to a near-Eden condition (Isaiah 35:1-10). The desert will bloom, people will experience miraculous healing (something that was prefigured prominently during Jesus’ first coming). In this passage we see an interesting account of there being some kind of “highway” called the “way of holiness” where only the “redeemed” and “ransomed of the Lord” will have access to Zion with “everlasting joy upon their heads.” Is this yet another prefigurement of what we see in below?

Revelation {21:24-27} And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither  whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Or is the ancient prophet actually giving us a look ahead to the new existence in the new realm? We know that there will be redeemed saints on Earth during the Millennium from Revelation 21 and they will reign as “kings and priests” with the Lord during that time (Revelation 1:4-6). No doubt they will also enter into the age of the new heaven and new Earth, thus making their joy truly everlasting.

One may rightly ask why will it be necessary for the complete transformation of Millennial Earth into Eternal Earth because the former certainly sounds grand enough. The answer is – sin. The beautiful and bountiful Earth of the 1000 year rule of Christ will still bear the taint of sin introduced by Adam and Eve’s initial rebellion which opened the door for the devil to walk in. The evidence of this is found in Zechariah 14:16-19 and most notably in Revelation 20:7-15. In order for creation to be totally rid of this curse, a repair job isn’t enough and a complete rebuild must occur. Sin and its author must be eliminated because primary effect of sin is death (Romans 6:23). I think that death actually extends far beyond that of the individual right across the entire universe.

Think about it – nothing we know of last forever in our present cosmos. Plants die. Animals die. We die. Even stars and galaxies eventually die. Hot things cool off, cold things warm up. Our present realm is losing the amount of its usable energy and there is nothing that can reverse the process. The scientists give this a fancy name calling it increasing entropy or growing disorder in the universe. Barring divine intervention, it will eventually turn into a cold, dark nothingness. No stars, no planets, no life. Even matter itself may cease to exist entirely.

Yet we know from the Bible that all that the originator of evil and all that has fallen under his sway will be dealt with forever and the final enemy to be defeated will be death itself when sin is purged once and for all from existence.

1 Corinthians {15:26} The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death.

Only then can eternity come and only then will John’s marvelous account of what Jesus revealed to him with God coming to live with us forever in his glorious city come to pass, a place of indescribable beauty where the very river of life itself flows from the Lord himself. Best part of all? It’s where Jesus even now is building the mansions that believers will inhabit for all eternity and where we will see God face to face (Job 19:25-27;1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

Final Thoughts

In the new life in the new creation to come, the Bible tells us that the New Jerusalem will one day arrive on Earth, albeit a totally different Earth than the one that exists today. We know people will come to it from outside, which indicates that there must be a place from which they will come. That may sound fairly obvious, but it’s significant because it leads us to wonder what kind of “place” it might be. For that, we can only speculate.

Personally I envision something unlimited magnitudes above in magnitude and size of what we once had in Eden before our original parents opened the door to Satan and sin. Eden must have been absolutely stunning in its own right – no violent storms, no noxious plants or animals, and no death. It seems certain enough that all the best of Eden will be retained on New Earth and greatly improved upon. Whereas Eden had only two people to accommodate, New Earth will be host to billions of believers at least.

All of their time will be spent in God’s Presence and light, whether in the New Jerualem or out in the countryside. I imagine there will be a great deal of time spent just celebrating and rejoicing with God in New Jerusalem. When not there, perhaps the now-immortal saints will explore their new world, walk through its forests, climb its mountains, swim in its waters, and enjoy an everlasting fellowship with every other saint.

Perhaps we’ll get to meet the greats of the Bible like Moses, Abraham, David, Ruth, Esther, and the apostles as well as those whose faith was known only to God and themselves while they lived their mortal lives. But I’m sure the dream we all share is to see our loved ones and fellow believers, young, immortal, and radiant and to know that we will never be separated from them again.

After our sojourn on this world which has never been kind to those who have put their trust in God, often making us strangers in a strange and often unfriendly land, we will at last be welcome and know without doubt that were are home at last!

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Olivet Overview – Part 6

By Ed Wood

January 24, 2016

Jesus Returns – With Lots of Company

Psalm {149:5 -9} Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. [Let] the high [praises] of God [be] in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, [and] punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.

Daniel {7:18} But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

Mark {13:26} And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Luke {21:27} And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

1 Thessalonians {4:14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Jude {1:14-15} And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment upon all . . .

Revelation {19:11-14} And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

If a believer wonders at all about what the future holds for him or her, I hope the passages above will clear up that mystery. Anytime the Bible tells us something, it is significant. Anytime it repeats itself as extensively as it does in this case, we can rest assured that it is of great importance. The bottom line, as I’m sure you’ve already seen, is that when Jesus returns in great power and glory, he will not be alone. Every believer who has ever lived since humans walked the Earth will be accompanying him in the skies above. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews spoke of a “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) and I suspect that he might have been given a glimpse of this very thing.

The Resurrection Body

            Let’s take a few moments now to explore first just what those who are believers  will be like when this wondrous day comes. Odds are that if you are reading this, it includes you. If not, then it would be worth your while to examine all the historical evidence of how Jesus lived his life, the things he did, and what he said for yourself. Bear in mind that the gospels of Matthew and John were written by actual eyewitnesses. Mark’s gospel was probably based on Simon Peter’s recollections, Luke’s gospel is a methodical presentation based on the accounts of the apostles and no doubt other eyewitnesses as well. The manner in which they are written does not suggest mythology or legend, but the presentation of factual, historical places and events. The balance of the New Testament follows the same rule being written by eyewitnesses or people that knew them.

So, what does Paul, one of the writers of the epistles say?

1 Corinthians {15:51-52} Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Here we see that believers will be “changed,” both those who have died in the past and those caught up in what is commonly called the Rapture, which in itself has been and remains a topic upon which there exists exhaustive evidence and commentary. What we’ll focus on here is the nature of that change. Again, let us go to the best source of information we have:

Psalm {17:15} As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

Palm {71:20} [Thou,] which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.

Job {19:26-27} And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body,] yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me.

Daniel {12:2-3} And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

1 John {3:2} Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

            This is by no means an exhaustive list, but provides some tantalizing clues as to what the new life has in store for us.           

John suggests we will be like Jesus, though I am sure that does not include omniscience or omnipotence, qualities which only God will ever have. If we look at Jesus after the Resurrection, we find that Jesus had the ability to change his appearance in some manner at will (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-25; John 20:11-18). Whether this was an actual physical alteration or a lack of belief on the part of those involved which prevented them from recognizing him is subject to debate. What we do know is that at the conclusion of these encounters, he did have the ability to make himself recognized.

This fascinating “recognition” quality was seen previously in the various Transfiguration accounts (Matthew 17:1-5; Mark 9, 2-8; Luke :9:28-36) where Peter, James and John recognized Elijah and Moses even though they had never met them – and because of the prohibition against graven images given in the Commandments, never saw a picture or statue of them. It is therefore well within the realm of possibility that everyone who is part of the cloud of witnesses who returns with Jesus will recognize all the others as well, not just those they’ve known in this life.

Jesus also had the ability to appear at any place at any time (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36; John 2:19). Perhaps we will have this intriguing power as well. I’ve often wondered if it will be limited only to locations on Earth, or will it be in the truest sense of the word, universal. As someone who was always interested in astronomy, the possibility of being able to visit in person the far corners of the cosmos is particularly appealing. I have often wondered why in a universe is so vast, our scientists have yet to detect one solid bit of evidence that intelligent life exists out there despite the trillions of stars composing billions of galaxies. Paul said:

1 Corinthians {2:9} But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Is traveling through the Creation part of God’s plan for his people?

Of course, this is all pure speculation on my part and I probably am missing the mark by a wide margin. What I do know for certain is that the plans God has for us are better than we can dare to hope for or imagine.

            Finally, I think we’ll all get a lot more intelligent, something I personally wouldn’t mind one bit:

1 Corinthians {13:11-12} When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Not only will we learn new things, but we’ll have the ability to do so which very likely transcends present-day abilities.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Matthew {6:10}

            We’ve taken a brief look at how our new lives might be in the age to come. Now, let’s take a look at Millennial Earth:

Isaiah  {65:20-25} There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner [being] an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them;] and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people, and

mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they [are] the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust [shall be] the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

Isaiah {35:4-10} Say to them [that are] of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come [with] vengeance, [even] God [with] a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame [man] leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, [shall be] grass with reeds and rushes.  And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it [shall be] for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err [therein. ] No lion shall be there, nor [any] ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk [there: ]And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Not only are our the futures of resurrected believers  bright beyond all measuring, the lives of the mortal survivors of Armageddon will be rich beyond anything this planet has known since the Fall of Man. Earth will become a near-Eden paradise. It is even possible that most of them will live the entire 1000 years of the Millennial Age, watching their children grow and have their own families right up until the complete “re-creation” of all things (Revelation, chapters 21 & 22).

As we have seen in earlier articles, it seems that the apostles will be in charge of governing Israel, the Gentiles probably in charge of everything else, under Jesus’s direction, of course. For the first time since human walked the Earth, there will exist a government that actually works and is fair to every resident on Earth. It will not be a party to special interests or corrupted by those seeking power for their own personal enrichment.

At this point one might ask: “Why will this only last 1000 years?” That’s a good question and my personal opinion is that is beautiful and prosperous as Earth becomes, it still has the taint of sin from Adam and Eve’s ancient transgression of God’s command. We read in Revelation that Satan is merely confined for those 1000 years only to be released upon the Earth once more.

Revelation {20:1-3} And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

In the ten centuries between the return of Jesus and the end of the Millennium, no doubt there will come many generations of people who did not live through the horror of the Tribulation. As we have seen, growing up in on a paradise-planet is no guarantee for good behavior. There will still be those with criminal tendencies. The only difference between now and then is that they will be dealt with immediately and not have their trials delayed for years upon years before justice is served. And what goes for the individual will apply to entire nations (Revelation 19:15-16).

When Satan is released, those who still reject God and rise up with the devil will be dealt with finally and forever (Revelation 20:7-15), including the evil dead from across human history. They will all be condemned forever to the Lake of Fire after which God will make a new heaven and new Earth where sin never contaminated after which he and his city, the New Jerusalem will descend to be with humanity forever.

One might be tempted to call this the closing of history, but in reality it is only the beginning of a creation more glorious than we can ever imagine. The best part of all is that every person has choice to be part of it. If you believe in Jesus and what he did for us on the Cross, you already are a part of it. If you haven’t accepted him yet, indications are that time is running short, so this is too important to delay. He could return tomorrow. (He could return today!!)

Isaiah {55:6} Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

2 Corinthians {6:2} (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)

With these words from Paul I conclude this articles and this Olivet Series. I hope it has been informative and encourages you to do your own research into not only this subject, but into all of the Bible because I am definitely not the final word!

God bless!

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Olivet Overview – Part 5

By Ed Wood

December 29, 2016

 

The Sign of Jesus

Matthew {24:29-30} Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.     

The next event on the Olivet calendar concerns Jesus’ Second Coming. Now this is not to be confused with his earlier coming to collect his believers seven years earlier to spare them from the “wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10), those who by faith were “accounted worthy” to escape the Tribulation (Luke 21:26). The Bible tells before his Second Advent, he’ll be preceded by his own sign.

Now what exactly that will be, no one really knows. The most popular view is that it’ll be the sign of the cross and since this is the most universal symbol of Christianity that makes a good deal of sense. Even non-Christians recognize that. It certainly might be something else but whatever it is, it’ll be visible in the sky by the whole world and understood to such a degree that “all the tribes of the earth mourn” when they see it. When we remember that at this time most of the world has followed the Antichrist and taken his mark that makes a lot of sense because the Bible reveals that they are irrevocably doomed. (Revelation 14:9-11)

What precipitates the sign of Jesus’ return is quite clear. Satan’s goal has always been to take God’s place. One way to accomplish the task is to make Israel cease to exist because by so doing, the promises God made to it in various places in the Hebrew section of Scripture (Genesis 12:1-3; 28:10-15; Isaiah 2:1-4; 4:2-6) can’t come to pass. That would mean that God made an error and is therefore not omniscient, not omnipotent, something the devil would certainly exploit to his advantage. From the pharaoh of Egypt in Moses’ time, through Haman in the book of Esther all the way up to Adolf Hitler and today’s militant Muslims, Satan has always found someone more than willing to try to make this happen. He has always failed but in a last-ditch effort, Satan will turn loose three demonic spirits to draw all the world’s military forces together at Armageddon:

Revelation {16:13-16} And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed [is] he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

Zechariah {14:2} For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

In the past 68 years, there have been many more times when it looked as if Israel’s enemies would wipe out this nation. Indeed, at its restoration in 1948, it looked like it would not last for a day. Greatly outnumbered by its Arab foes, the odds were completely against it. And yet it has not only survived but prospered during the nearly seven decades of its existence. It is probably safe to say that when the Battle of Armageddon does occur, it will be the first, only, and last time Israel is losing a war in the modern age. As Zechariah relates, the incursion into Israel is so deep that half of Jerusalem itself falls to enemy forces.

I have often wondered about this in considering that there are presently Arab, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian sections in this city. Will this remain the case right up to the end? If so it seems likely the Arabs would actually assist the aggressors. Since we see that the conditions are already here for this to happen, the time for the last years of history as we know it may be very close indeed. And since the Rapture is likely to occur no less than seven years sooner than the events which lead to Jesus’ Second Coming, its time is that much closer!

One may wonder at this point where the bulk of the Jews will be when the invasion occurs. There Bible evidence suggests they are safely being supernaturally protected in the ancient city of Petra:

Isaiah {16:1-5} Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela* to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion. For it shall be, [that,] as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon. Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness. *Petra.

Revelation {12:1-6} And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: * And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon**, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child***, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness,**** where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days. *Israel (see Genesis 37:5-11). ** Satan (see Revelation 20:2). *** The Messiah – Jesus. **** Probably refers to the place where Petra, now a ruin in the wilderness, exists. Note the length of time of this protection amazingly turns out to be 3.5 years – the last half of the total seven year Tribulation time, just as Daniel (Daniel 9:27) predicted, a week representing seven years and the Antichrist breaking his seven-year deal with Israel half way into it!

Life on Earth will be truly hellish, especially at the end of the last seven years of the Tribulation as the planet will be battered by natural – and supernatural – forces. Disease will be rampant along with lawlessness on a level beyond comprehension even compared to the worst places on Earth today. A large percentage of human life will be lost and that which remains will be comprised of people who are either willing allies of the world’s last demonic monarch or in hiding from them, unable to access the global economy because they have refused to take his mark (Revelation 13:1-18). The relative few who had accepted Jesus during this time will be rounded up and executed wherever possible, betrayed by their own families and friends. (Micah 7:5-6; Matthew 10:34-36)

But suddenly in the midst of this when the misery is the greatest, suddenly there will appear the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens and just about everyone who sees it will mourn, except those surviving new Christians who will no doubt rejoice and know for a fact that their redemption is near at last.

Jesus Returns: The Beginning

The Bible does not provide many details about what happens when the sign comes but in my mind’s eye I picture just about everything in the world coming to a halt. I imagine it to be surpassing more awesome than that which those shepherds of long ago beheld as the angels announced the birth of the Savior at his First Coming over 2000 years ago. This will mark the return of Jesus to Earth for the second time, not as a helpless infant or suffering servant, but as the omnipotent King of Kings and Lord of Lords! And if this were not enough, he won’t be returning alone:

Psalm 149

Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, [and] his

praise in the congregation of saints.

Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of

Zion be joyful in their King.

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises

unto him with the timbrel and harp.

For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify

the meek with salvation.

Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon

their beds.

[Let] the high [praises] of God [be] in their mouth, and a

twoedged sword in their hand;

To execute vengeance upon the heathen, [and] punishments upon

the people;

To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters

of iron;

To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all

his saints. Praise ye the LORD.

Daniel {7:13-18} I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of [my] body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, [are] four kings, [which] shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even for ever and ever.

Luke {22:28-30} Ye* are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. *Note that Jesus is addressing his apostles here, telling them of their specific destiny to be in charge of judging the tribes of Israel. Judas Iscariot forfeited this honor when he betrayed Christ, his place being filled by Matthias (Acts 1:15-26).

Other Jewish and Gentile believers apparently will have many other responsibilities as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 below.

1 Corinthians {6:2-3} Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

1 Thessalonians {3:13} To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Revelation {19:11-16} And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

The Lord will be accompanied by every believer whoever lived, from the saints of the Old Testament, Christians from the time between Jesus’ life on Earth and the Rapture, and finally the Tribulation saints who were killed by the forces of the Antichrist. When they appear, the first thing Jesus will do it is to put a stop to the war, save the Jews from total destruction, and deal with the Antichrist and his false prophet once and for all:

Revelation {19:19-21} And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

There is another fate reserved for Satan himself:

Revelation {20:1-3} And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Why the devil is not immediately tossed into the burning lake is not known, however, we’ll look at a possible reason in our next article in this series when we examine the kind of world that will exist when the King of Kings assumes his rightful place at long last on Earth.

Next time we’ll look at what this wondrous new age might be like and the roles each of those who believe will get to play in it.

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Olivet Overview – Part 4

By Ed Wood

November 5, 2016

The next event on our Olivet list concerns signs which will appear in the skies above. There are a whole host of possibilities in this category ranging from local phenomena, local meaning confined to Earth’s atmosphere, or exotic, which would cover everything else beyond. Quite literally, the sky is the limit, as we will now see.

Signs in the heavens (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24-25; 21:11, 25-26)

Though one can speculate almost endlessly about what these signs might include, the Bible does have some specific ones which we can explore, in no particular order from the book of Revelation next.

Revelation {6:12-14} 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. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. *The Lamb – Jesus

Though earthquakes generally don’t generally affect the appearance of the sky by themselves, there can be a tie-in between them and volcanic activity. As we have all seen, volcanoes can eject huge plumes of material into the atmosphere, blackening the sky totally in their worst extremes, to lesser effects such as reddening the light of the sun, moon, and stars. The sixth seal apparently produces both during the judgment released by its opening. There is, at least for a time, a complete obscuring of the sun. It is safe to assume that whatever the cause, it is probably severe enough to affect the entire planet since we are told “every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Beyond the untold immediate havoc such an event would cause, its long-term effects such as the negative impact on crops due to lack of sunlight, acid rain produced by the introduction of sulfurous gases into the atmosphere, and damage to the Earth’s ozone layer are also distinct possibilities.

This catastrophic event is attended by falling stars, perhaps the fiery re-entry of rocks and material initially blasted upward by earthquake-activated volcanoes and the rolling up of heaven, which might represent the mushroom clouds of volcanic plumes rising high into the sky. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus also mentions the specific signs of the sun and moon being darkened and the falling stars, as well as increased quake activity. Yet these profound and distressing changes in the skies are not limited to only seismic or volcanic events as we see next:

Revelation {8:7-9} The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were, a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

It has only been within the past two centuries or so that the idea of rocks falling from the sky (unless an active volcano was nearby) were seriously entertained. The heavens were pretty much considered perfect. Where could rocks possibly originate out there anyway? The age of modern science has, of course, shown us that there are plenty of places for them to come, the asteroid belt and wandering comets being the two leading contributors. The various meteor showers which appear regularly during the year are from the latter, the random small and big meteors come from the asteroid belt which exists between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The sizes of those from the belt can range from specks to those the size of dwarf planets. Luckily for Earth, the planet-sized ones are in stable orbits. Not so for the rest because our planet bears the scars of city-sized ones that have stuck over geologic time and caused some very severe damage and pronounced effects on our climate and the life that existed at the time. Further evidence of huge past collisions are plainly visible on the moon’s surface which does not have the benefit of an atmosphere to burn up small meteors or to produce the weathering Earth possesses to erase the craters of meteoric impacts. (I do believe in an old universe and an old Earth because the Bible itself allows for a day to be other than twenty four hours long – see Joshua 10:12-14; 2 Kings 20:8-11; Psalm 90:4; and 2 Peter 3:8. Furthermore, the national atomic clock which is precise in its timekeeping ability is routinely readjusted to account for variations in Earth rotation.) Here in the phenomenon of rocks falling from heaven we have but one example of information being revealed in the Bible well ahead of its time of general acceptance.

Now we know large meteors the size of mountains are common in our solar system even though they rarely strike our planet over the course of time civilization has existed. If it were to happen now all the conditions described in the Revelation passage above would be the result. We can be also assured that a third of everything living on Earth is going to be badly affected – not to mention the ruin of a third of the world’s shipping capacity. Beyond the immediate effects of a calamity of this magnitude, try to imagine the long-term consequences on our environment and world economy.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, it might actually be the trigger for what happens next on our battered planet and its desperate survivors:

Revelation {8:10-12} And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood*: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

According to an impeccable source (Terry James!), the term “wormwood” when rendered in the Ukrainian language becomes “chornobyl.” And yes, the Ukraine is the site of the disastrous nuclear reactor meltdown in 1986. The immediate area is still uninhabitable having been contaminated with nuclear fallout.

I bring this up because of what I believe is a direct connection between the Revelation account and the nature of the radioactive accident at Chernobyl. To do this, let’s take a look at little bit of nuclear science. In the realm of nuclear reactions we have two basic types – fission and fusion. Fission involves the breakdown of heavy elements into lighter ones; fusion the combining of lighter elements into heavy ones. The common element to both is that in each process an extremely tiny amount of mass is lost. But the term “lost” isn’t entirely true either, but rather “converted” into energy according to Albert Einstein’s famous formula:  E = mc² where m = mass, c = the velocity of light, and E = energy. In each of the above cases, you take how much mass you lost in the nuclear transformation, multiply it be the velocity of light times itself (an enormous number, by the way) and that’ll give you how much energy you will get. Without getting too technical, suffice it to say that a little bit of mass makes a whole lot of energy. This is why the generation of electricity by use of fission reactors has proven so appealing, despite the inherent drawbacks of the fission process, namely the possibility of serious accidents with decades-long consequences and the problem of dealing with spent fuel rods which still remain lethally radioactive for millennia.

Unfortunately this same principle is also the basis of atomic (fission) and thermonuclear (fusion) bombs and this brings us to the connection I mentioned in the last paragraph. We note above: “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp.” Every star you see in the night sky, and the great bright one you see during the day, is also powered by nuclear fusion. The reaction starts out with plain hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, and finally ends up with helium, the second most abundant element. The same process powers a thermonuclear bomb, which, by the way, uses a fission device as a detonator in order to create the high temperatures needed to initiate the fusion reaction. So, when John reveals this “star” falling and burning from heaven, I think the choice of words was a deliberate attempt by the Lord to reveal exactly what was coming and only now in the nuclear age would a generation come that could properly understand it. I don’t know about you, but I got chills when I first made this observation. The rest of the passage describes a situation that looks very much like the aftereffects of a nuclear strike: contaminated water with “many men” dying as a result, and smoke and particulates emitted into the atmosphere with their attendant dulling effect on the light from celestial bodies.

In fact, decades ago scientists by observing the effects of a planet-wide dust storms on Mars from the Viking program noticed a precipitous drop in surface temperature and postulated that a nuclear exchange could by the smoke coming from fires and material lofted into the air could produce the same kind of chilling effect on Earth. With that, the term “nuclear winter” came into our lives. Personally, I do not see this in our future because if a large scale nuclear exchange were to take place, civilization, and probably most life as we know it, would rapidly come to an end. Though Revelation reveals that Earth will be severely damaged and a large percent of the population killed off, there will still be enough people left to provide the 200 million troops which will gather in the valley of Esdraelon, the site of the Armageddon conflict in Satan’s last effort to impose his own version of the “final solution” upon the Jews. To transport such a huge number of troops will no doubt require a high level of sophisticated technology to still exist as well. After all, if the world was blasted back into the Stone Age, how could that be accomplished?

We must also not rule out direct supernatural intervention when it comes to things falling from the sky:

Revelation {8:3-5} And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast [it] into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

Final Thoughts

At this point, it is important to realize that all the bad things that have always been a part of life on Earth are merely the shadows cast upon it by something going on that Paul was keenly aware of in his own time:

Ephesians {6:12} For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

When one considers the rapid advance of evil now under way on Planet Earth, the barrier between us and the spiritual realm will very likely be greatly attenuated and the war between God and Satan will be there for all to see, even if most of the remaining population still remains clueless as to what is going on, its collective mind clouded by the Antichrist (the “Even him” reference below):

2 Thessalonians {2:9-12} Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Next time, we’ll explore the very end of the seven year Tribulation and give some thoughts as to what happens during the thousand year Millennial Age and the Eternal Age which will follow it.

Olivet Overview – Part 3

By Ed Wood

September 28, 2016

We’ll pick up this third article in our Olivet series with the next item on our list of events yet to come.

Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22; Mark 13:19-20; Luke 21:25-26)

This will be a time worse than anything else in history as Jesus said:

Matthew {24:21-22} For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Remember that we are now in the post-Rapture world where, quite literally, all hell has begun to break loose. The reason for this can be found in the following passage from Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians, written to dispel a false notion that the “day of the Lord” had already come:

2 Thess {2:1-9} Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him,  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come,] except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let,] until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him,] whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders . . .       

Now there is a lot of information here so it is well worth our time to explore this passage in greater detail. Let’s begin with the phrase “except there come a falling away first.” I’ve heard two interpretations of it, each with its own merit. The first says this refers to the Rapture, when all believers are rescued from Planet Earth to meet Jesus in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The second says it refers to a falling away from the faith. In other words, apostasy, something which is occurring in a widespread manner among the church in Europe and North America in particular, something we already discussed under “False Prophets” and “Christians Persecuted” in the initial article of this series. The original Greek term rendered as “falling away” in the above is “apostasia,” from which “apostasy” clearly comes. Therefore, in my opinion, this second interpretation has the most merit. If you think it’s bad now, during the Tribulation it will get a lot worse – along with everything else.

The reason for this is that “he (the Holy Spirit) who not letteth (wherein ‘letteth’ is translated from the Greek word ‘katecho’ which itself means ‘restrains’ in modern English)” will be gone, since those believers in whom he had taken up residence have been removed from the Earth during the Rapture. It is only then that the “man of sin” and “son of perdition (damnation)” otherwise known to us as the Antichrist is revealed and given power to ultimately bring the human race to the very brink of extinction. We also learn that this man will be imbued with satanic powers making him virtually irresistible to most of the planet’s population. Judging by just how much traction lies get over the truth these days, it isn’t difficult to believe the triumph of falsehood and evil for the last seven years of history, is it?

Many of those who study prophecy have applied the terms “Great Tribulation” to the last 3 1/2 years of the entire seven year Tribulation period and there is every reason to believe the this last half of it will truly be the worst. It will be the time after the Antichrist has suffered a fatal head wound, returned to life (Revelation 13:2-4), and invaded the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and claimed to be “God.”

Paradoxically, when this demonic figure first appears on the scene, I envision him gaining wide appeal in a very short time as the “Answer Man” appearing just as Earth thrown into turmoil by the sudden unexpected disappearance of believers (1 Corinthians 15:51-54) coupled with an intensification of all the present economic, political, social, and natural upheavals we are already experiencing today. In fact, the beginning of the Trib period might look just great.

For example, a long sought-after Middle East Peace Accord will likely come into effect with a seven year treaty that the Antichrist will confirm (Daniel 9:27), possibly averting, though only temporarily, the outbreak of a regional nuclear war that would have the prospect of growing into a worldwide cataclysm. Since we already see in our time that whatever happens in the Middle East has widespread implications, I also envision with the tensions relieved there a short-lived global economic boom. For the human race, it will undoubtedly look like Utopia is just around the corner – making it ripe for the Antichrist to exploit for his own sinister plans.

It probably won’t be very long before the euphoria begins to wear thin as Earth continues to be plagued by natural disasters and civic unrest begin to sprout up again as a result of their effects on food production and transportation. The general reaction of governments to such matters is generally one of tightening restrictions on individual liberty. If you think the population of United States would be immune from such a scenario, here is a small sample of what could happen here right from the Office of the Press Secretary of the White House as to who would control our resources in the event of an emergency:

 

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

March 16, 2012

Executive Order — National Defense Resources Preparedness

EXECUTIVE ORDER

NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows . . .

Sec. 201Priorities and Allocations Authorities.  (a)  The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:

(1)  the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;

(2)  the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;

(3)  the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;

(4)  the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;

(5)  the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and

(6)  the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

(b)  The Secretary of each agency delegated authority under subsection (a) of this section (resource departments) shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions.  Each Secretary shall authorize the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, to place priority ratings on contracts and orders for materials, services, and facilities needed in support of programs approved under section 202 of this order.

By virtue of this being an Executive Order which bypasses Congress, we have a declaration that puts every vital resource of this country put under the absolute control of individuals who were never elected by the voters of the United States. I am also left wondering just who it is that determines what an “emergency” is. Now if such a thing can happen in America, the land of the free and the brave, it can happen anywhere! People will characteristically give up a lot of their freedom for “peace and safety.” An examination of Hitler’s rise to power and the kind of Germany he created in his image proves this point in dreadful detail. The Antichrist will institute a government based on the total control of everything on a planetary basis. One major way to accomplish this is by controlling the economy. Let’s take a look at the specific way it’ll be done.

Revelation {13:15-18} And he* had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six. *The false prophet.

This is a subject which we covered in some length in “Prophetic Tech – Part 3″ but is worth a review. There is probably nothing else that affects an individual more than that which affects his or her personal finances. After all, what you eat, where you live, and what you wear, are the essential basics that are common to every single human being on Earth regardless of who and where they are. Control the purse strings, and you control the person. As we have seen before, those who don’t play ball with the Antichrist don’t get access to his economy. There may develop a black market of some type to circumvent the restrictions – a possibility that would explain how some post-Rapture believers will manage to survive to the very end of the Tribulation, but I have a hunch that there will be very few of them since those who refuse the mark will be systematically hunted down.  One must remember that the Antichrist government will not only have advanced technology but the dark power of Satan himself on its side to do just that. In fact, the Bible tells us quite plainly that he will for a time, “prevail against the saints” until Jesus himself returns to establish the Millennial Kingdom upon a decimated and greatly depopulated planet:

Daniel {7:20-22} And of the ten horns that [were] in his head, and [of] the other which came up*, and before whom three fell; even [of] that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look [was] more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. {7:22} Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. *The Antichrist – the “horn” or leader which eventually takes over the whole world from the other “horns” who ruled previously in some manner of global government. (See Daniel 7:24-25.)

Make no mistake: this will be the worst time in the history of humankind upon the Earth so terrible that if it had not been shortened by direct Divine Intervention not even the relatively few remaining righteous souls would survive, just as Jesus said:

Matthew {24:21-22} For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

If allowed to continue unabated, the Bible makes it clear that no one, not even the “elect” (probably referring mainly to the Jewish race and including post-Trib people who had come to believe in Jesus) would survive. The extinction of the human race would be total.

The implications of this are terrifying – it would mean that Satan wins in a scorched Earth policy from which none would be exempt. Why do I say this? Because if this came to pass, all the promises the Bible records that God made to the Hebrews in the Old Testament and true Christians in the New could never come to pass. Since it is our conviction that the Bible is 100% accurate, this would make it in error. Logically it would follow that God himself is likewise capable of error and therefore fallible.

It has always been the devil’s goal to thwart God’s plan from the very beginning (Genesis, chapter 3) all along. He has tried to destroy the Hebrews throughout history, he tried to do the same to Jesus himself and to his followers after the Ascension. The demonic persecution continues unabated even to this day and, as prophecy reveals, will intensify as we approach the close of this age.

Next time we’ll begin with looking toward the skies and examine what we might expect is coming from above.

***************************************

THE OLIVET DISCOURSE – WHAT JESUS TOLD US TO EXPECT – UPDATED

Status EVENT BIBLE REFERENCE
Matthew Mark Luke
D TEMPLE DESTROYED 24:1-2 13:1-2 21:5-6
 I FALSE PROPHETS 24:4-5,11,23-28 13:5-6; 21-23 21:8
I WARS 24:6-7 13:7-8a 21:9-10
I FAMINE 24:7 13:8b 21:11
I EARTHQUAKES &NATURAL DISASTERS 24:7 13:8b 21:11,25b
I PEOPLE GET WORSE 24:12
I CHRISTIANS PERSECUTED 24:9-10 13:9-13 21:12-15
I GOSPEL PREACHED WORLDWIDE 24:14 13:10
I FAMILIES IN STRIFE 13:12 21:16
 DURING THE TRIBULATION
F ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION * 24:15-22 13:14-16 (See ** below)
F JERUSALEM SURROUNDED ** 24:15-20 13:14-18 21:20-24
F GREAT TRIBULATION 24:21-22  13: 19-20 21:25-26
F SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS 24:29 13: 24-25 21:11, 25-26
F SIGN OF JESUS 24: 30
 THE MILLENNIUM BEGINS
F JESUS RETURNS  13: 26 21:27
F ELECT GATHERED 24: 31 13: 27

NOTES:

D = DONE

I = IN PROGRESS (But we can expect all of these to intensify as time goes by.)

F = FUTURE EVENT

* Jesus told us here that the antichrist will desecrate the temple as did Antiochus IV Epiphanes as related in Daniel 8:9-14. In Daniel 9:27, the prophet describes a second similar desecration of the temple in the midst of the antichrist’s one “week” (seven years) reign.

** Luke’s version omits the mention of the Abomination. Perhaps it relates the siege of Titus in 70 A.D., while Matthew and Mark’s versions refer to that second event that Jesus mentioned which will occur during the Tribulation.

 

Olivet Overview – Part 2

By Ed Wood

August 23, 2016

Last time we looked at the events Jesus foretold in his last public address to his followers just before his crucifixion. As we have seen, the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple he revealed took place exactly as he described it some forty years later (70 A.D.) By the Roman army led by Titus, the Emperor Vespasian’s son. We have already seen here an example of prophecy fulfilled. Twenty centuries have passed since Jesus spoke of the time yet to come before he would return in a manner so awe-inspiring and unmistakable that at long last the world would be unable to deny that he is exactly whom he said he was so long ago – Son of God and Messiah.

In the first article in this series we took a look our present time and it seems that only willful stubbornness would prevent a person from acknowledging that much more of what the Lord disclosed as already well under way and likely to intensify during the last seven years of history as we know it – a time often referred to the Tribulation, and that with good reason:

Matthew {24:22} [Jesus said] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. [Here, as in the following Bible references, bracketed sections have been added.]

Since Jesus was not only the Son of God in the flesh twenty centuries ago, but indeed God himself who exists beyond all time and space as we perceive it, we should not be surprised as to accuracy. The truth is that despite what all too many of the inspirational self-help crowd and even some preachers are peddling, the days ahead are going to get a LOT WORSE! But believers in Jesus Christ can take hope in that before the worst of it comes, they’ll be long gone:

1 Corinthians {15:51-53} Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

1 Thessalonians {1:9-10} For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

These are but two passages supporting the Pretribulation Rapture in which true followers of Christ will be supernaturally removed from the Earth so as not to be subject to the “wrath” that is to come. There are precedents, notably Enoch (Genesis 5:24); Noah and his family (Genesis 6:9 – 9:17), and Lot and his family (Genesis 18:16 – 19:28). It is not my intention at this time to go into an extensive defense of this subject since so many have already done so over the years. For example, an excellent and comprehensive treatment is to be found in Terry James’ new book Rapture Ready…Or Not? which I strongly recommend to everyone as they expectantly await Jesus’ return.

Nevertheless, it is important that those of us who believe in the certain truth of God’s Word to be informed of what will soon come to pass not only to increase our Bible knowledge, but to relate it to whoever else we many encounter who thirsts for accurate answers in a world which is so lacking in them today. But be cautioned – there will definitely be resistance from those who only what they want to hear. And even this is a sign of these times:

2 Peter {3:3-7} Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:  But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

             Sadly, you may find the greatest opposition from the clergy of the major denominations of organized religion since many of such institutions have already fallen deeply into apostasy, embracing the “doctrines of devils,” just as the apostle Paul said they would in the last days:

1 Timothy {4:1-2} Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.

2 Timothy {4:2-4} Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

But now, let us continue our Olivet exploration and see where it takes us.

Just Around the Corner

1) The Abomination of Desolation {Matt. 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-16}

In his discourse, Jesus mentioned an “Abomination of Desolation” being set up in the “holy place as mentioned by Daniel. Here are Daniel’s own words:

Daniel {11:31} And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily [sacrifice,] and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.

            Antiochus IV Epiphanes fits the bill above by putting a statue of Zeus with his face on it and by sacrificing pigs in that “holy place” within the temple’s inner section, circa 170 B.C. This makes sense in that though it was a future event to Daniel, it was already an accomplished event by the time Jesus walked the earth. (See the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees and Josephus’ history, Antiquities Book 12, chapters 5-11 for more details about all of this.)

Interestingly, Daniel also mentioned the following which does describe a second desecration:

Daniel {9:26-27} And after threescore and two weeks [Seven weeks (49 years) – Time it took from Artaxerxes order to rebuild Jerusalem until it was finished. (Neh. 2) and sixty-two weeks (434 years) – time from completion of Jerusalem to Jesus’ crucifixion] shall Messiah [Jesus] be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince [the Roman army, under the command of Titus in 70 A.D.] that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof [shall be] with a flood [See Jeremiah 46:8 where the term “flood” is actually referring to an army, as it is here], and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he [Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

            How we know this is not referring to Antiochus is that the desecration described here occurs after the Messiah (Jesus) was cut off, not before. Remember, the first violation of the temple’s holy place was over 170 years earlier. Revelation further confirms what Jesus said:

Revelation {13-11, 13-15 } And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy [Antichrist]. . . And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

Again, it looks like another defiling statue imbued with some manner of “pseudo-life” (either by technology, supernatural means or both) will be erected in the “holy place.” This was something well beyond Antiochus’ abilities, but certainly not those of Satan’s ultimate henchman of the future. What this also tells us is in order for this prophecy to come to pass, the holy place has to exist once again, either in a partially or completely restored temple. This has not happened yet however most prophecy scholars think it will rise again atop the Temple Mount once again despite the fact the Muslim Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque are presently there. An organization named the Temple Institute has already prepared the implements that will be used in this restored temple and descendants of the Levitical priesthood are being trained to resume the Mosaic sacrifice system – see http://www.templeinstitute.org for more information. Personally, I agree that a third temple is guaranteed because with God, nothing is impossible.

2) Jerusalem surrounded. (Matt. 24:15-20; Mark 13:14-18, Luke 21:20-40)

Jerusalem threatened by enemies is by no means a unique event. Notable examples are its sack by the forces of Shishak, pharaoh of Egypt (1 Kings 14:25-26), threatened invasion but divinely thwarted invasion by Sennacherib, king of Assyria (2 Kings 18:13-19:36); its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-25:30) and, once again, a similar carnage by the Romans that we have already mentioned.

An important difference between Luke’s account and those of Matthew and Mark should be mentioned. Luke does not mention the “abomination of desolation” while both Mark and Matthew do. Why? Could it be that Luke somehow missed it in his research, something which seem doubtful considering the obvious care he took in compiling what would one day become the gospel that bears his name and the subsequent Book of Acts. Or was Luke describing the Roman invasion which resulted not in a profaning or occupation of the temple, but its complete destruction whereas Mark and Luke are revealing an event yet to come even in our time initiated by the Antichrist? I do not pretend to have a definitive answer to this question and offer this possible explanation as a possibility only.

What we do know is that at the very end of the Tribulation, Jerusalem gets surrounded and invaded yet again, the details of which come from a source about 2500 years ago from the Old Testament (Zechariah 14:1-21) and how the whole matter concludes – and who it is that intervenes! The last three chapters of Revelation provide an even more detailed account of this very same events.

In summary, at the end of the most terrible time in human history, Israel’s last defenders make a stand against the 200 million man (and no doubt woman) army as it begins its assault on the city the Jews have vowed never to surrender again, no matter what the cost! In their very last extremity, these besieged defenders call out to God for help – and get an answer that causes them to weep as they recognize at long last the Messiah that their ancestors rejected 2000 years ago to save them, and him accompanied by every saint that has ever lived. And from that fateful Last Day, life on Earth changes forever!

Next time, we’ll go back just a little bit time to look at some of the things which precede this culmination of history, following as we have the sequence of the Olivet Discourse. In the meantime – Keep looking up!

Olivet Overview – Part 1

By Ed Wood

August 2, 2016

Many years ago I had the privilege of conducting a monthly Bible Prophecy study with a group of about half a dozen people. I had even then been long interested in this subject, but in order to do a credible job I really had to do some further studying. As I did I came to the conclusion that even though what has become the Olivet Discourse, detailed in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 came much later than the prophetic texts of the Old Testament, it forms a unifying foundation for all of them plus the Book of Revelation which was written some sixty years later.

In this increasingly turbulent time when it seems that the entire world is rapidly heading toward a very grim future, it seems that the opportunity to examine what Jesus himself revealed about the days immediately prior to his return would be prudent. I would first suggest to the reader that he or she read the gospel passages listed above in order to get the most out of this series of articles. Let’s begin!

An Already Completed Prophecy

1) THE TEMPLE IS DESTROYED [Matt. 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6]

In 70 A.D. the temple was totally destroyed by the Roman soldiers led by Titus, the emperor Vespasian’s son. Jesus had said that the destruction would be total; “There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

This occurred in 70 A.D. in exactly the way Jesus described almost 40 years earlier by the Roman soldiers under command of Titus, the son of Emperor Vespasian. The devastation was indeed total, and it is quite likely that the stones themselves were pulled apart from each other to get the gold from the temple treasury that had melted in the heat of the fire which was set to destroy the entire complex.

The noted historian Josephus’ account from War of the Jews, Book 6, chapter 5, verse 2 lends credence to this supposition:

And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward. They also burnt down the treasury chambers, in which was an immense quantity of money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people had there built themselves chambers [to contain such furniture].

Prophecies in Progress

2) FALSE PROPHETS, FALSE DOCTRINE [Matt. 24:4-5,11,23-28; Mark 13:6,21-23; Luke

21:8]: This is not confined to the false religions or cults today, though there are multitudes of these, but most disturbing has been the corruption of doctrine now under way in many of the large denominations of the nominally Christian church in Europe and North America. Heresy was always a problem in even Paul’s time, as many of his epistles demonstrate, but today it is pandemic. The sad fact is that perhaps most of the Western Church has abandoned the authority of the Bible and its fundamental precepts such as Jesus being the only means of salvation, heterosexual relations between married people as the only ones acceptable to God, and even the masculine gender of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3) WARS [Matt. 24:6-7; Mark 13:7-8a; Luke 21:9-10]: The Twentieth Century produced more casualties due to war than any time previously and the Twenty-First Century now sees a rapid and increasing instability in the Middle East. The increase in Islamic terrorism with such new and militant entities such as ISIS is now reaching across the planet even to the United States and Europe.

4) FAMINE [Matt. 24:7b; Mark 13:8b; Luke 21:11] According to the latest figures, the world’s reserve food supplies are dwindling and the prices are increasing, due in no small past to weather factors. The effect is that more people are going hungry and this in itself has led to civil unrest.

5) NATURAL DISASTERS [Matt. 24:7b; Mark 13:8b; Luke 21:11,25b]: The horrendous series of earthquakes in Japan half a decade ago and overall increase in seismic activity from 2002 onward clearly demonstrate that geologically speaking, something unprecedented has begun and though the counts have decreased in the past few years, the trend shows no signs of returning to the relatively quiescent levels of the past. Additionally, we are seeing extremes in weather all across the planet almost on a daily basis more profound than any humanity has experienced in historical times.

6) PEOPLE BECOMING MORE HOSTILE [Matt. 24:12]: For everyone who watches TV or reads the newspapers, the increase in violence and horrific crime is unmistakable. Most recently we’ve seen more violence in our schools and universities, tragic shootings of civilians and police officers, and the increase of Islamic terrorism with ISIS becoming a major factor in this.

7) CHRISTIANS PERSECUTED [Matt. 24:9-10; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-17]: In officially atheistic countries and those in which Islam predominates, more and more Christians are being targeted with violence and even death. For example in countries such as Iran, the population of Christians is in serious decline. We may not realize it here in America, but there really are places in the world where standing up for Jesus can still be a cause for martyrdom.

Yet even in regions which are still considered predominantly Christian, those who hold to the authority of the Bible and its moral standards are finding themselves increasingly marginalized. In the United States it became “official on June, 17 1963 when the Supreme Court in the case of Murray v Vitale decided in an 8 to 1 vote to effectively kick prayer out of our public schools. Now just about any time there is some public event in which the name of Jesus Christ is raised in prayer, there tends to be a big noise from those who’ve obviously decided that the First Amendment applies only to themselves and not to Christians. This nationally increasing departure from Judeo-Christian principles was tragically demonstrated again by the Supreme Court in the Roe v Wade case in which gave its approval to what I believe can only be called legalized  infanticide of  the unborn.

Unfortunately the attack against biblical standards has not confined itself to the secular world but has also invaded the major branches of Protestantism not only in the United States, but Canada and Europe as well. For example, the Episcopal Church has not only given approval to homosexual behavior but allows actively homosexual clergy. The Evangelical Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church are but two more examples of major denominations which have embraced what the Bible clearly relates is an aberrant and sinful lifestyle. Yet this is but one symptom of the overall descent of these churches into heresy and apostasy as many reject even the core belief in Jesus and him alone as being the only means of salvation.

8) GOSPEL PREACHED WORLDWIDE [Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10]: When Gutenberg first invented a printing press with movable type, it was the beginning of a revolution when books could be reproduced at a cost which put them into the price range that common people could afford. A major step toward the realization of Jesus’ prophecy began in 1456 with the production of a Latin Bible from his device. Now the Bible in its various version and languages are available across the world. With the advent of computer and communications technology it is literally possible for anyone on the planet to read or hear God’s Word. (Which means that when the Lord does return there will be little excuse for someone’s protestation of ignorance!)

9) FAMILIES IN STRIFE [Mark 13:12; Luke 21:16]: Once the solid bedrock of any society, the conventional family is becoming increasingly dysfunctional on many levels with the children generally showing the greatest adverse effects. In many families even in the U.S., kids are being raised in single-parent households. One parent is then called upon to do the job that God intended for two, especially when the other biological parent is disinterested and indifferent. One can easily imagine how the children in such circumstances can have trust issues – after all if I can’t trust Dad or Mom, how can I trust a stranger? This situation can also be profound if one or both parents are abusive. How many times are we seeing “adult-level” crimes now being perpetrated by “children” now? Too many, I would say.

Another factor damaging the traditional family, in my opinion, is the increasing acceptance by the more affluent countries of homosexual behavior to the point where same-sex couples are routinely allowed to adopt children. One can only wonder what the long-term effects of being raised in an environment might lead? Lately we have seen “gender identity” issues rise to at a level that they are being noticed by the media. Personally, I find it alarming in that it seems like more and more people have become so confused that as far as gender goes, they don’t know what they are anymore! It is a sad commentary on any society whose moral decline only exacerbates such confusion and if one looks at the great powers of the past which likewise did so did not retain their status.

I believe Jesus was saying such conditions of moral decay would be widespread  in the times just before his return:

Luke {17:28-30} Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 

            During the Tribulation, one can only expect that this will worsen as family members turn against each other, reporting “subversive” actions not in accord with the One World Government ruled by the worst despot in history. (Daniel 8:9 – 12); Revelation chapter 13) We can look toward Nazi Germany and Communist Russia as infamous examples of this very thing. Perhaps we can look at those Mark and Luke passages which present family strife as a transitional phase, already partially fulfilled but well on the way to becoming a lot worse in the days ahead.

Next time we’ll look at what may be just up ahead for a world rapidly heading for the most grim time in history.

THE OLIVET DISCOURSE – WHAT JESUS TOLD US TO EXPECT

Status

EVENT

BIBLE REFERENCE
Matthew Mark

Luke

D TEMPLE DESTROYED 24:1-2 13:1-2 21:5-6
 I FALSE PROPHETS 24:4-5,11,23-28 13:5-6; 21-23 21:8
I WARS 24:6-7 13:7-8a 21:9-10
I FAMINE 24:7 13:8b 21:11
I EARTHQUAKES &

NATURAL DISASTERS

24:7 13:8b 21:11,25b
I PEOPLE GET WORSE 24:12
I CHRISTIANS

PERSECUTED

24:9-10 13:9-13 21:12-15
I GOSPEL PREACHED WORLDWIDE 24:14 13:10
I FAMILIES IN STRIFE 13:12 21:16

 DURING THE TRIBULATION

F ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION * 24:15-22 13:14-16 (See ** below)
F JERUSALEM

SURROUNDED **

24:15-20 13:14-18 21:20-24
F GREAT TRIBULATION 13: 19-20 21:25-26
F SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS 24:29 13: 24-25 21:11, 25-26
F SIGN OF JESUS 24: 30

 THE MILLENNIUM BEGINS

F JESUS RETURNS 13: 26 21:27
F ELECT GATHERED 24: 31 13: 27

NOTES:

D = DONE

I = IN PROGRESS (But we can expect all of these to intensify as time goes by.)

F = FUTURE EVENT

* Jesus told us here that the antichrist will desecrate the temple as did Antiochus IV Epiphanes as related in Daniel 8:9-14. In Daniel 9:27, the prophet describes a second similar desecration of the temple in the midst of the antichrist’s one “week” (seven years) reign.

** Luke’s version omits the mention of the Abomination. Perhaps it relates the siege of Titus in 70 A.D., while Matthew and Mark’s versions refer to that second event that Jesus mentioned which will occur during the Tribulation.

 

 

Prophetic Tech Part Five

Return of the Nephilim?

By Ed Wood

April 16, 2016

Genesis{6:1-5} And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the  earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

In the passage above the term “giants” actually comes from the Hebrew word “Naphíl.” Strong’s Concordance simply defines it as a “feller,” that is, a bully or tyrant. It also refers to the term “naphal” which among many definitions includes “cast down,” and “lost.” In the singular form “giant” reference is given to the term “raphah,” once again referring to a giant.

How are we to make sense of all this? I believe these two passages can help:

Jude {1:6} And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Revelation {12:7-9} And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Now let’s see if we can come up with a theory that will put all of this information together. First, the Revelation passage gives us an account of Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven. Second, we see that for a time anyway, the “sons of God” interbred with human females. According to Job 1:6, these are angels, some of which are the fallen ones that had been cast out. From the passage from Jude, it appears that this freedom of them to move about the earth was only temporary and that they are now imprisoned in hell (Sheol) waiting for final judgment.

What we are interested in here is what can we say about the hybrid offspring that resulted from the merging of human women and these cast out angels? From our first passage they are called “mighty men, men of renown.” On an initial reading of this description, it sounds as if they were praiseworthy, but what happened shortly after their appearance was the descent of the world into a moral abyss so deep that it took the wholesale destruction of everything that lived on the dry land of the Earth’s surface to remedy the situation, save for Noah’s family and the living cargo that he saved aboard the ark. Yet an even more fundamental reason might have been to prevent the contamination of the human gene pool. Had this been allowed to continue, it would have made the eventual appearance of the Messiah an impossibility. Remember, in the Mosaic system, a sin offering had to be unblemished and even this was merely a stopgap. Jesus was the only “perfect and complete sacrifice” which could once and for all adequately atone for the world’s sin – a requirement which could not have been met if his family line had been contaminated by non-human genes.

I have often wondered if the distant tales of superhuman beings recorded in the texts and mythologies of so many ancient cultures might have actually had their roots in the exploits of these beyond-human creatures. But more importantly, has there ever been a serious attempt to actually enhance human life beyond that which we have come to know? I believe than answer is “Yes” on many levels, some of which we will explore here.

Improving the Human Condition

This may sound like stating the obvious but all ancient cultures began as technologically immature. As far as we know there is not one example of a civilization suddenly appearing with an inordinately high level of scientific progress, despite what those who believe in extraterrestrial influence would have us believe. As far as I know, we have no solid evidence that a human society from the past suddenly showed up with electric lights, transistor radios, or starships. What we do have are plenty of examples of initial hunter-gatherer groups, probably starting out from immediate families and slowly incorporating others into bands or tribes. If left in a reasonably benign and stable environment, this is as far as they ever got. Indeed there are some isolated tribes living exactly the way just as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. It is, however, very likely that the inevitable contact with the outside world will soon change all that.

If, on the other hand, there comes a situation where the adverse pressures come to bear such as population growth or climate change, the old adage about “necessity being the mother of invention” is repeatedly seen in the advent of new technologies to deal with these challenges – or else extinction is inevitable. If hunting and gathering no longer can provide a reliable food supply, the development of agriculture and the corresponding trade of a nomadic lifestyle is exchanged for a more stable one, leading to the development of villages, towns, and eventually cities is the next step. This in turn leads to a greater capacity to solve even more difficult problems. If, for example, the water supply becomes insufficient, the community learns how to dig wells, create irrigation systems, aqueducts, and sophisticated plumbing systems to deal with it. Need to increase the food supply further? Then new farming techniques and even selective breeding of food crops and livestock will soon appear.

One of the most fascinating things about the human race to me is that if something need something be done, someone will generally figure out how to do it. In this process we’ve built machines that multiply our physical strength and our five senses to unbelievable levels. For better or worse, we’ve come from figuring out how to make fire to sending probes across the solar system. In America, most of even the less affluent of us has access to modern marvels that would have been considered miraculous only a couple centuries ago. But the improvement in the “machinery” can only take us so far. What about “improving” the inventors themselves?

Back in the 1960’s ago a particularly brilliant episode of the Star Trek TV series explored this very thing. Of the many memorable and astute lines of dialogue in that show, one by Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically enhanced human being from the late Twentieth Century, to Captain James Kirk was:

“Nothing ever changes, except man. Your technical accomplishments? Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity, but improve man and you gain a thousand fold. I am such a man.”

We are now coming into a time where technology may allow this level of “improvement” at a level never seen before. The results of our expanding technology have even provided the means to counteract to some degree the natural declines of age and accidents to the human body. For centuries artificial limbs and even teeth have been used. In our modern age the process has become nearly miraculous. Cataract surgery which replaces cloudy lenses in the eye with new ones made of plastic is now commonplace. The same is true for people walking around with devices to help their failing hearts to pump and artificial joints to replace worn out ones. These are but a few of the ways we have enhanced our human condition on an individual level.

Increasingly we are seeing a fusion of the artificial with the natural. Cochlear implants completely bypass the ear and its associated components and connect directly into the auditory center in the brain allowing people who were once irrevocably deaf to hear. On a more limited scale visual implants directly into the brain have also provided limited perceptions of light and basic shapes to the blind. In a very real way these advances could one day produce for real the cyborg (cybernetic organism) composed of both mechanical and organic components.

Yet there exists a branch of science that can achieve even more direct results and this is in the field of genetics. The truth is, indirect genetic manipulation has already been going on for centuries as humans sought to improve existing plants and animals for their own uses by selective breeding. The idea here is to take a male and female with the desired characteristics and cause them to produce offspring that will carry the strain forward. It is a proven technique which has worked with plants and animals for thousands of years. Hitler envisioned using this process to eventually produce his “Aryan” race of ideal humans which would rule the planet while those people considered “inferior” would either be enslaved or killed.

Now we are at the verge of significant and direct genetic alteration where the very “instruction set” of life can be changed. If you think of this as a computer scientist changing lines of code in a program to alter the way it works, I think that will give you the idea of what it happening in the field of genetics. The time of “designer” life forms is already upon us in the form of genetically modified organisms. As I write, the debate over whether genetically modified food products should be labeled as such so consumers can decide whether or not to purchase them is already under way. Another new development has appeared to make the process even easier.

CRISPER Critters

The acronym stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. According to the on-line article which appeared in Nature on December 3, 2013, among other things, this technology can perform genetic “cuts and pastes” with an ease not achieved before. An example would be for a patient to opt for “genetic surgery” to fix a pre-existing condition, rather than take a medication all their lives. I can envision a diabetic receiving a genetic correction to permanently fix a failing pancreas so it will once again produce the insulin the person needs. This technology is not limited to any particular species and can be applied to plants and animals alike. Certainly if used wisely, it could prove to be a boon to life on Earth. CRISPER creations also have the ability to pass their modifications on to their offspring, good or bad opening up yet another Pandora’s box we may be ill-equipped to handle even under the best of circumstances.

A deliberate misuse of such technology could produce a whole new realm of biological warfare as far advanced of anything we may now have as nuclear technology is above conventional conflict. It would become a fairly simple matter to custom-design and disperse the products of this endeavor that could easily decimate entire population’s food supply, or perhaps the population itself. But this would be just the beginning.

The “perfect soldier” envisioned in science fiction could become a reality. Enhanced beings capable of surviving conditions that would kill the average person could become commonplace. The leaders of such armies might themselves be the recipients of expanded intellect and perhaps even boosts in the basic five senses as well. Imagine beings whose hearing extends beyond the 20 kilohertz range of human hearing, or whose vision capable of picking up infrared and ultraviolet radiation. And who is to say that what we now call extrasensory perception could not one day become a bona fide sixth sense.

From the Bible, we learned that the nephilim of the pre-flood world were products of interbreeding between human women and supernatural beings. It could very well be that the nephilim of our age will be the products of the laboratory. Once this particular genie is out of the bottle is there anything we could do to stuff him back into it? History tends to demonstrate that the answer is generally a negative but is that the final word? The answer to that, I believe, is also found in the Bible.

When God says “Enough!”

From the story of Noah we read:

Genesis  {6:13} And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the  earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

From the account of the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah we read:

Genesis {19:12-13} And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring [them] out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

At the culmination of time itself we discover:

Revelation {20:11-15} And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from those face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Yet of all the accounts of God’s previous and future intervention there was, in my opinion, none has affected the path of history more than this:

Mark {16:1-6} And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

From the moment that Jesus overcame death and emerged from Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb, nothing has ever been the same.

What Can we Soon Expect in these Last Days?

One of the warnings Jesus gave us concerning the end of this age was this:

Matthew {24:37-39} But as the days of Noe* [were,] so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. *Noah

The ramping up of evil and the obliviousness of those who lived in Noah’s age to this acceleration of evil’s influence are being replicated today. For those who have rejected God entirely or sought to create him in their own image as has much of the modern church, the spiritual blindness clearly exists. Less obvious, but by no means out of the question, may be the appearance of enhanced human beings playing their roles in the prophetic events soon to come.

Notice how popular fictional “super heroes” are becoming in our culture today? We have them generating impressive revenues for the comic book and movie producers. I myself confess that I’ve always enjoyed such super heroes as Superman, Spider-Man, realizing that these are completely imaginary. How much more of an appeal would a real being with “super powers” be especially in an age of growing hopelessness. From the Bible we see that the Antichrist and False Prophet who will be his spokesman are themselves likely to possess superhuman characteristics. The cause may be technology, biology, or supernatural influence from Satan himself. It maybe even a combination of all of these factors. (Revelation 16:13-14; 19:20).

If the end of this age is as close as all the other signs seem to indicate, we may not have long to wait before the first of the “New Nephilim” shows up in the evening news.

Prophetic Tech Part Four

By Ed Wood

March 1, 2016

Revelation {13:16-18} And he* causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six. * the false prophet

I open this article with the same passage I used in its predecessor because there is still more to cover on this topic – that of the Antichrist’s absolute control of the future world. One of the best ways to control someone is to control his or her personal finances. Let’s face it, throughout history, and probably even before written history existed, this has always been the case. The people who had greater resources, or were believed to have them, have always called the shots over those who didn’t. The tribe that could hunt better either because it had access to the best hunting areas, or had better weapons or prowess, or even simply outnumbered a neighboring tribe could easily tell the latter what to do. It might even get to the point of the second becoming the vassals of the first.

With the passage of time this principle has been a constant. Even the modern system of employer and employee is based on one having greater economic resources than the latter. In fact, until the Twentieth Century when workers began to organize, the relationship could be extremely one-sided. However the shadows of those pre-union times were starting to reappear in the closing two decades of the previous century up and continue even in a country as sophisticated as the United States up to this very day. Now please understand, I am not a socialist pushing to redistribute wealth by legislation. Yet in recent years we have seen corporate greed push good jobs overseas to the detriment of the employees of those companies that helped them prosper in the first place. Tax legislation has actually helped them do just that, making it more economically attractive to move their operations out of the country. It seems to be a very basic unfairness in having the very people being forced out of work by such actions actually having to subsidize it by their own annual tax burdens.

The condemnation of the exploitation of workers even shows up in the Bible!

Jeremiah {22:13} Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by  wrong; [that] useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;

Malachi {3:5} And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in [his] wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger [from his right,] and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.

Of course, in the U.S. the situation today in no way approaches the deplorable state of virtual (and actual) slavery that widely exists in some other nations, even to the trafficking of human beings, something the Bible clearly states that God will handle in his own way in the future to those doing such loathsome things to their fellows.

This is but one more demonstration of just how powerful a role economics has always played in shaping the course of our lives and those of our ancestors – a principle that the coming world dictator will exploit as no one ever has been able to do before, thanks to modern technology.

Cash or Charge?

An Efficient Medium if Exchange. Before the idea of currency became dominant, barter was the only way to conduct business. If you had extra livestock, you could trade with neighbor for his extra grain. Or head into the village and swap a cow for some tools. He, in turn, could swap the cow for ore to process into more tools, etc. It was simple enough, but obviously limited. After all, cows are pretty large animals and not easily portable. (And how would make change??) Even if they walk by themselves it’s still a pretty slow process. If the deal fell through, a person would have to walk the creature all the way back home.

The answer is to use some kind medium both parties agree has a value to “do the deal.” Some Native Americans used seashells. Gold and silver were ideal and until the last century the U.S. and many other countries based its paper currency on physical deposits of both. Concerning coins, they could be made out of metals themselves such as gold, silver, or in the case of pennies, copper. A long time ago, America issued paper “silver certificates.” The paper note was a really “bill” that said the government owed you a dollar’s worth of silver for your note. A person could actually turn it in and get the silver. Now our paper money is labeled merely as a Federal Reserve Note, no longer backed up by silver at all. If you think about it, the only reason this works is because everyone using dollars agrees that they’ll accept them for payment for goods and services. The important concept here is that as long as all parties accept on a medium of exchange, business can go on.

Another feature of currency is that it is a “bearer instrument.” Whoever has it in his or her pocket has the right to spend it any way her or she wishes. This is different than writing or receiving a bank draft – i.e. a check. This is intended only to be useable from a specific party to a specific party. Get caught issuing or cashing one of these documents fraudulently and you could find yourself in prison. Credit cards work on the same principle.

The last feature of cash verses a check or credit card is that for all intents and purposes, the transaction is anonymous. With the latter two, an electronic record is produced containing the name of the purchaser, the merchant, and even what was bought. For the most part, this is very beneficial for all concerned because such records allow everyone to keep track of their finances. However for those involved in less than legitimate activities, these records can be used to prosecute them. Of course, catching criminals is an activity we can all support and as long as the system isn’t abused, there isn’t a problem. More on this later!

One more important point I’d like to make is that there is a definite trend worldwide toward what is called a “cashless society,” one in which currency becomes totally supplanted by electronic banking. This means that more and more every person’s financial dealings will be recorded in a computer someplace. If this kind of system becomes universal, then without a credit card or other medium of electronic access, you won’t be able to buy or sell a thing! Is any of this starting to sound familiar?

The Mark of the Beast – Frightening Possibilities

In the last article we’ve seen that the implantation of small, self-contained electronic circuits into pets and people is already a reality. We’ve also seen external devices such as smart cards and speed passes and their almost magical properties already being used to electronically perform financial functions. The fusion of these technologies on a large scale seems only a matter of time and if underway before the Antichrist actually shows up will no doubt be co-opted by him and his False Prophet henchman.

If a tiny electronic chip can be imbedded into a credit card, or speed-pass device, or even a pet, then why not into human beings? Guess what? It has already been done! From the Daily Mail we have:

Australian man who’s had a microchip inserted into his hand so that he can do more with the iPhone 6…maybe

By Louise Cheer for Daily Mail Australia      Updated: 02:12 EST, 8 September 2014

  • Advertising director Ben Slater had the microchip inserted two weeks ago
  • It was implanted in the webbing of his hand at a Melbourne tattoo parlour
  • Mr. Slater hopes the new generation iPhone will be able to read the chip
  • He is able to open doors and switch on lights without touching anything

(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2746648/Australian-man-microchip-inserted-hand-use-iPhone-6.html#ixzz3yXbnhsbg )

I suspect that the longer this technology exists, the more it will become a part of every- day life, just like the cell phone is presently. I can imagine a sales pitch for such a device for a financial access chip going like this:

“Stop worrying about losing your credit card or having it stolen! With ‘BankChip’ you’ll never have to worry about that again. And how about convenience? Why, just walk into the store of a participating merchant, make your selection, and simply walk out the door. Our electronic inventory systems will automatically record your purchases and debit your account. No more waiting in long, annoying lines! Sign up today and receive a special bonus. Log on to our website for further details.”

I am quite sure it will start out as a completely voluntary offer and that a lot of people will be eager to be among the first to sign up. So when the Antichrist and False Prophet appear on the scene a lot of their work in this regard will already have been done for them. But the Revelation passage concerning this appears to indicate that there will be hold-outs that’ll need some arm twisting to get them on board. Those that still refuse will be effectively shut out of the economy. How they’ll survive, if they do, is anyone’s guess.

But this is only part of the story. It will get a lot worse for those who do enroll!

No Hope, No Escape

Revelation {14:9-10} And the third angel followed them *, saying with a loud

 voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. *Two other angels who were mentioned in the verses preceding this passage.

Not only will people be required to get marked to participate in the economy, but they will have to worship this coming “man of sin” as well. The reason is that three and a half years into the seven year Tribulation he will occupy the rebuilt Holy of Holies and proclaim himself as “God.” Here are the two relevant passages that describe this:

Daniel {11:36} And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

Revelation {13:11-15} And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,  And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

We see from the passages above that in order to be able to “buy and sell” people will have to get marked in some way on (or perhaps “in”) the forehead or forearm. But before they can receive this “mark of the beast,” they’ll have to worship him first. What we also learn is that once this all takes place, there is no tuning back. For these people there are no second chances, no way to ever make things right.

For me, I’ve always had a hard time trying to make this fit in the account of God’s Son who forgave even those who’d condemned him to the most appalling and horrible kind of death one can ever imagine and even in his agony did the same to one of the criminals crucified with him. Yet there is one unforgivable sin that I can point to in the Bible, as explained by Jesus himself:

Mark {3:28-29} Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.

This in itself is puzzling and I cannot say with certainly exactly what “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” is. The best answer I can come up with is a refusal to believe in Jesus, who was empowered by that self-same Holy Spirit:

John {1:32-33} And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. * John the Baptist      

Furthermore, this neatly ties in with something that Paul also said:

Romans {8:14-17} For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons

 of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him,] that we may be also glorified together.

Without the operation of the Holy Ghost, one can never accept God. Without that, one is lost. Therefore, it would seem to me that those who accept the mark of the beast lose their ability to ever change their minds and repent. Since we are exploring the role that technology might play in the days to come, is there anything that exists today that could possibly be involved? What about this procedure described by staff members of the Mayo Clinic in a web posting?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation may be tried when other depression treatments haven’t worked. With TMS, a large electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead. The electromagnet used in TMS creates electric currents that stimulate nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression.

Presently this procedure is administered via an external magnetic coil placed near the forehead, but who is to say that it could not be done via some manner of implanted device? Maybe even inside the forehead? Isn’t it interesting that this is also one of two locations for the “beast mark?” One can also wonder just how far this “mood control” function can be pushed. It seems to me that electronic mind control would be the perfect means of controlling entire populations, right down the Antichrist’s alley, don’t you think? It is also easy to imagine that once a person is “chipped” with some manner of internal TMS device losing his or her free will – including the ability to ever change one’s mind! Among the choices lost would be the paramount one of ever turning back to God!

Electromagnetic mind control might be supplemented with implants that deliver measured amount of drugs directly into the bloodstream. We don’t have to wait for such devices to be invented yet, either because, like the implantable microchip, they also already exist! From Kurzweil AI | Accelerating Intelligence News we have:

MIT spinoff Microchips Biotech has partnered with Teva Pharmaceutical, the world’s

largest producer of generic drugs, to commercialize its wirelessly controlled, implantable, microchip-based devices that store and release drugs inside the body over a period of years.

Concluding Thoughts

As with our past explorations into the role technology may play in making the nightmare world of the Antichrist a reality, we now have added an economic system so rigidly controlled by electronics that virtually no one will be exempt. Couple this with devices that can literally control one’s very thoughts by remote control and even the very word “freedom” may no longer be remembered.

I do not pretend that the technologies I’ve described will cause the nightmare world of the Antichrist to come to pass exactly in the ways I’ve described them, but it is clear that we have reached a time when they could at any time!

Paradoxically at a time when human technological prowess has reached unprecedented heights, it has in its arrogance become dismissive of God and subsequently increasingly ignorant of what he has revealed of the days to come in the pages of his Word. As such, when the Antichrist and his False Prophet walk onto the world stage, most of humanity will welcome them both with open arms, never realizing just how badly they have been deceived. The human race won’t be able to say it was never warned, will it?

Next time we’ll look at how technology may be used to change the very nature of life itself.

Prophetic Tech Part Three

By Ed Wood

January 27, 2016

Revelation {13:16-18} And he* causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six. * the false prophet

Ever go to a retailer, make your purchases, get out the credit card and have it declined when you know it’s completely valid? For some reason a technical glitch or a human error has caused you to be shut out of the system. Have you ever gotten a glaring late payment notice in the mail because somehow the postal service misplaced the remittance you sent a month ago? Or found that your checking account was debited for a large check someone else with a similar name wrote? How about getting a scam phone call supposedly from the IRS that you are getting sued (I’ve been there!). If you have, you know exactly what a sinking feeling it causes.

Usually these problems can be solved by using another credit card, contacting the creditor who sent the late notice, or in the case of the phony IRS call, a simple hanging up of the phone. Still, in cases where identity theft is involved, the process to make things right can be prolonged and torturous.

Let’s now take this to the extreme. Suppose a system is devised that can be used to deliberately cut off your access to your finances unless you “play ball” with whoever is running it, making you totally subject to their whims. Suppose further that it becomes universal leaving you with no recourse. Now imagine completely ruthless individuals controlling it all. According to the Bible there will come a time when this nightmarish scenario becomes a hard and fast reality when the last world ruler and his henchman known as the false prophet establish absolute rule over the planet.

Before we look at the “Antichrist Economy” described above, we should first take a look at the man that will be its enforcer. To do this, we’ll need to back up a little in chapter 13 of Revelation:

Revelation {13:11-15} And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,  And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

It would seem reasonable to assume that this second beast (the Antichrist being the first) will come across as a benign and gentle individual, like a lamb, and yet having the speech of a dragon. When we think of a dragon, we often think of the fearsome reptilian beast of mythology breathing fire. But the real dragon is much worse. Maybe we need to take a look at two interesting passages from the Bible which at first glance appear contradictory. We have Revelation 12:9 where we learn “the great dragon” is a real entity:

Revelation {20:1-3} And I* saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.  *John, the apostle and writer of Revelation.

This passage from the apostle Paul shows that the “old serpent” can appear to be something other than what he actually is:

2 Corinthians {11:14} And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of  light.

This particular dragon, the devil, doesn’t necessarily look like a monster at all. Quite the opposite. In fact, if we look just one verse further we see this ability is common to Satan’s minions as well:

2 Corinthians {11:15} Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Therefore since both Antichrist and false prophet are working for the devil, it would make perfect sense that they do not at all appear to be the evil beings that they really are. As for the “speech of a dragon” what’s that all about? An important clue is found in what Jesus told revealed about Satan as he was excoriating the Pharisees for their hypocrisy:

John {8:44} Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of [your] father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Considering all this, having charismatic individuals who can appear  to be pillars of virtue and yet convincingly lie through their teeth really isn’t a surprise at all because history is full of them. Many have been elected to public office right here in America. That’s unfortunate enough in itself, but I think the most insidious of these are those that have found homes in the organized religion. I can think of any number of “televangelists”  who are pushing a “prosperity gospel” that taps into human greed to support their extravagant lifestyles. Then there are those who are the leaders of any number of modern denominations today preaching such false doctrines as pluralistic salvation claiming Jesus is not the only way to be saved (which refutes John 3:16-18; 14:6, Acts 4:10-12), acceptance of homosexual behavior even within their own clergy, and the portrayal of the Bible in these modern times as outdated and irrelevant. Some have even gone as far as the incorporating paganism into their services. Jesus himself warned his disciples of these deceivers:

Matthew {10:16} Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

If anything, deceptive clergy have increased to such levels that they are becoming the norms rather than the exceptions populating the pulpits of today’s increasingly liberal churches in North America and Europe. I see this all as a “softening up” process of the masses, getting both the religious and secular worlds ready for the man who will one day rule them both.

The Antichrist and his spokesman will have persuasive abilities beyond anything the Earth has ever seen. Add to this mix the supernatural powers described above in Revelation 13:11-15. This coming False Prophet will even have the ability to call fire from the sky. The significance of this particular ability is that with this counterfeit miracle I believe the False Prophet will delude people into thinking that he is Elijah (Kings 1:5-12), whom the Bible said must precede the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6; Mark 9:11-13). The “False Christ” therefore will have his own “False Elijah” to help usher him into power – one more huge and successful deception made possible because most of humanity will be totally unaware of the biblical warnings regarding both of these men. Sadly, this is already true, even by those attending church every Sunday.

These two, according to Revelation 13:16-18, will ultimately be in charge of virtually every financial activity on Earth. However, until the advent of modern technology, such absolute economic control over a global scale was simply not possible. That is no longer the case because the resources available today can be used to make it a reality!

Today’s Technology for Tomorrow’s Economy

E-banking. We all are involved in this one way or another. Swipe a credit card, have direct deposit and direct withdrawals from your bank account, and you are already a part of electronic banking. And even if you could somehow sidestep all of this, the bank uses electronic means to move cash around as standard operating procedure. They can do all of this without touching one piece of legal tender just by sending a bunch of ones and zeros electronically from one data storage system to another at virtually the speed of light.

Credit cards. In the “old days” a merchant would take your card, put it in a mechanical device, pull a slider across it to make a copy of its embossed numbers and letters onto a paper slip for you to sign. These got physically sent to the credit card issuer who would charge your account appropriately and send you a paper invoice every month. The next step was to create credit card readers that would collect this information from a magnetically coded strip on the card and process it instantly and electronically. Now it has moved even beyond this.

Smart Cards and Speed Passes. About six months back I received my first “smart” credit card as a renewal. There’s a little chip inside that stores all the relevant information and can be read remotely by a radio-frequency device. Speed passes work the same way and have become popular on the roads for automatically paying tolls. You don’t have to stop to toss in the change. You don’t even have to slow down because the fastest car is nothing when it comes to the light velocity of the electromagnetic energy used to activate the speed pass. I’ve seen this capability on self-serve gas pumps as well.

Chipped products. In order to cut down on theft and automate inventory and shipping, many products now are being embedded with chips that work on the same principles as the smart cards and speed passes. A product comes into the warehouse, the system knows it has and where it’s stored. When it leaves, it knows that, too. Once in the truck (or ship, railroad, airplane, etc.) the vendor knows where it is and when it finally reaches its destination. It is becoming increasingly more common for a customer to be able to track his or her own package via the Internet via this capability.

But tracking merchandise is only part of the story. Pets are commonly becoming “chipped” with names, owner’s names, medical history, just about any other pertinent information. The same technology is already being used today to chip people. The uses are many. Some grant easy access to employer’s facilities and allow a log on to company computers. But this was not all. Back as far as December 2004 the FDA produced the following document entitled:

Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff – Class II Special Controls Guidance Document: Implantable Radio frequency Transponder System for Patient Identification and Health

It opens with the following introduction:

1. Background

This guidance document was developed as a special control guidance to support the classification of the implantable radiofrequency transponder system for patient identification and health information into class II(special controls). The device is intended to enable access to secure patient identification and corresponding health information in humans. This guidance is issued in conjunction with a Federal Register notice announcing the classification of implantable radio frequency transponder system for patient identification and health information.

There is even a provision in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) on page 1014 to establish a registry for implantable devices:

The Secretary shall establish a national medical device registry (in this subsection referred to as the ‘registry’ to facilitate analysis of postmarket safety and outcomes data on each device that – (A) is or has been used in or on a patient; and (B) is a class III device; or  a class II device that is implantable,  life-supporting, or life-sustaining.

As we can see, this legislation can apply to both medium risk (Class 2) devices such as hearing aids, or the more involved Class 3 high-risk ones such as heart valves and pacemakers, but it doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see this one day include the implantable RFID devices which already exist and more sophisticated ones likely to be developed.

At the present time, such devices can be accessed only at short range. To make them capable of long range use, such as the GPS tracking abilities cell phones and high-end automobiles now have, requires a power source which is at present too bulky to be practically implanted. However, it would not be unexpected to find this problem remedied in the near future as technology continues to produce smaller and more efficient batteries.

Concluding Thoughts

We cannot know for certain just what kind of “mark” people will receive as part of the “666 Economy.” It may have more than one component, say, an implantable chip and a visible tattoo on the forehead, right hand or all of the above. Magnetic ink already exists which could be employed in the latter and here is an excerpt about this ink from the eHow website:

(http://www.ehow.com/facts_6813216_magnetic-ink_.html)

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition Technology

  • Magnetic ink contains particles, usually iron oxide, which are magnetized and read with special equipment compatible with Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) technology. Because there is a unique signature associated with each magnetized character, MICR equipment identifies each character very quickly and with a very high degree of accuracy, even if the characters are visually obscured by other marks or have been altered with ordinary ink.

Commercial Uses of MICR

  • Financial institutions worldwide use MICR equipment and protocols to accurately and quickly process vast quantities of personal checks and other financial documents. MICR technology, comparatively speaking, has a very low instance of misread characters.

Interesting how the first use it mentions is for financial purposes, don’t you think?

Next time we’ll explore in greater detail how various economic systems have evolved over time and even some more alarming possibilities that may be used to “control the masses” in the not-too-distant future.

Prophetic Tech Part Two

By Ed Wood

January 7, 2016

Daniel {12:4} But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

“Many shall run to and fro.”

            As we saw in the last article, the speed at which information can travel from one place to another has grown exponentially from Daniel’s time until now. The time it takes to physically get from one place to another has also greatly decreased, however it is still not as fast as the speed at which data can be transmitted (the Star Trek Transporter is still science fiction, after all) but it is still a huge leap above that which was possible to Daniel and his contemporaries. Back then, traveling to the next village might take the better part of a day, maybe more. Crossing continents or seas took months, or even years. One can now fly across the U.S. in five hours, a journey that took six months to the westward-bound settlers of the early 1800’s. The International Space Station circles the entire planet in an hour and a half! We’ve come a long way particularly in the past two centuries, running “to and fro,” faster than anyone could possibly imagined two and a half thousand years ago when Daniel wrote the prophetic book that bears his name.

“Knowledge will be increased.”

            I think it’s safe to say the Twentieth Century was the largest age of discovery the human race has ever known in almost every field of knowledge. Einstein gave us a look at the universe, energy, and matter in a whole new way. Edwin Hubble discovered that our Milky Way Galaxy was not the only one, but merely one of billions of “island universes” spread out across billions of light years of space. The biological sciences have delved into the genetic instruction sets which control how life operates and has begun manipulating it to alter its characteristics. Medical science, despite its continuing inability to cure the major and persistent life-threatening diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and ALS, still has come up with amazing surgical procedures which have restored sight, repaired damaged hearts, and reattached severed limbs.

In about a century, the field of electronics has expanded from the era of vacuum tubes to semiconductors, a technology which has made possible not only the reach of humanity into space, but also moved into our driveways and homes residing in devices and machinery we now take totally for granted.

Computing technology has advanced almost beyond belief. Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor, described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit back in 1965, and then revised this estimate to every two years. That’s still very impressive. This has become commonly known as “Moore’s Law.”

The “brains” or CPU’s of computers, their memories, and their assorted peripherals have made full use of these advances allowing devices that you can easily carry around with you perform wonders whole rooms full of machinery couldn’t have approached only a few decades ago. For example, my first PC didn’t even have a hard drive, running only on 1.44 megabyte floppies. A couple years later I upgraded it with a “huge” 20 megabyte hard drive which set me back over $100. New PC’s have hard drives capable of storing multiple terabytes of information. (1 terabyte = 1000 gigabytes = 1,000,000 megabytes!) As we further explore “Prophetic Tech,” we’ll be seeing just how this all figures in making the Bible prophecies of the comprehensive control that the Antichrist will have over Earth’s population literally achievable.

            In the realm of the physics, scientists have come to understand much about the nature of matter and energy, this knowledge in a very real sense becoming a double-edged sword. It’s safe to say that our technological grasp has far exceeded our wisdom to use it consistently to better ourselves. We can, for example, use the atom to produce electrical power to make our lives easier or use it to construct bombs capable of sending our civilization back to the Stone Age . . . or worse!

Certainly one can find many more examples of ways our knowledge has increased besides these few examples, but there is one main underlying principle for this to be possible – the ability to both store and transmit this knowledge. We looked at this somewhat in the previous article, but a review at this time seems appropriate.

We do not know how long the human race has had language, but I think it’s safe to say it’s been a very long time. By it one person could communicate his or her ideas to another individual or group. Probably the first kinds of information shared were such topics as where the edible plants and animals were and how to get them. Language also allowed humans to work together in teams to do these things and was the means of passing on their experiences to their kids.

Along with this was the sharing of new technology. Now we might not think a rock or a stick is very sophisticated, but when it comes to the multiplying the ability over just using one’s hands and feet alone to dispatch an animal and bring it back to the camp cooking fire (another early huge milestone of technology), it became a very big deal! The human with the rock or the stick will be a lot more successful than one that lacks either.  It probably didn’t take very long to figure out how to modify these first tools to make them more effective. A simple stick became a spear. A rock was modified to give it sharp edges, and, no doubt in flashes of Paleolithic genius, came the idea to combine these inventions to make spears with stone points and to create cutting tools with handles. These skills could be easily passed on via language to the next generations, who in time would add their own knowledge to the verbal archive.

The problem with this type of information transmission, though, is that it required direct contact from person to person, or person to group. There was also the problem of “data fade.” It was not a big problem with making tools and weapons because the verbal information was supplemented by a practical demonstration. The artifacts themselves became their own “hard copies!”

But when it came to accounts such as the history of the tribe or group, the oral accounts, despite the best efforts to maintain their fidelity, they could change over the years. The events and even the names of the participants could within relatively few generations become unrecognizable.

Enter into the picture a way to record things in a permanent manner and a revolutionary new way to store and transmit knowledge began. Starting with basic drawings and paintings on cave walls or the faces of stone outcrops, someone finally figured out ways to do it quicker with the development of writing. The Egyptians created hieroglyphs, a combination of images and symbols. The Sumerians developed cuneiform, true writing where specific symbols represented a spoken language, numbers, pretty much any information one wanted to preserve. As a testament to the effectiveness and lasting power of these technologies, archeologists are still collecting and reading these ancient messages to this very day. The development of papyrus and parchment scrolls, culminating in codex form (bound, multi-leaf books with which we are familiar) made the records more readily portable and easier to distribute over wide areas. The printing press was a giant leap toward this end and until the advent of electrical forms of data transmission back in the early 1800’s, the printed word was the fastest and most reliable game in town.

So enter the telegraph. With this device, messages could for the first time be sent at virtually the speed of light to any place its wires were run. They still had to be deciphered and recorded by hand by a human, but for the first time the speed of communication was no longer dependent on how fast a person could walk, or how quickly his or her animal could gallop, or how long it took a ship or train go from Point A to Point B. In a relatively short time, the range of electrical communications would extend not only across a continent, but across oceans.

Our unique time and place in history.

            If one looks back across the course of human history, can anyone point to a time remotely similar to ours? True, there have been great civilizations of antiquity whose secrets still elude us, but none of them have reached the level of knowledge, nor the ease of widely disseminating it that we currently possess. A very long time ago, King Solomon wrote:

Ecclesiastes {1:9} The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun.

             I think the wise old monarch might change his mind if he could see the things that exist today. If this is indeed the unique time and place that I think it is another passage from the Bible comes to mind as to what might be just up ahead. This time the speaker is Jesus Christ himself:

Matthew {24:21-22} For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

            This you might recognize as coming from Jesus’ last address in public to his disciples a few days before his arrest. We are talking about what has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse, so named because the Mount of Olives was the place he gave it. He spoke of a time so dire and terrible that if allowed to continue, the human race would not survive it, not even the elect. Over the course of history we have seen numerous tragic and terrible events hard to imagine, but they will all pale when compared to the time Jesus told his followers would surely come at the end of this age, something revealed in stark detail in the Book of Revelation. The question now is just how close might we be to this time right now.

The Modern Media

            One of the capabilities our current level of technology gives us is something mentioned in the last article – the ability to experience in real time events in audio and video that are happening half a world away. Shortly before starting this article a disgusting and cowardly attack in Paris by Muslim extremists purportedly working for ISIS resulted in the deaths of over 120 innocent people hit the airwaves here in America on the evening news. Just days ago, two Muslim extremists fired on people at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California. Who can forget that on September 11, 2001, the world watched the twin trade towers collapse into smoking rubble as the result once again of Muslim hatred directed at a free nation? We saw it all on our television sets within minutes. The reach and power of the modern communications systems is unprecedented.

If it were used only to provide unbiased news coverage, that would be impressive enough, but we have also seen it manipulated to sway the masses more often than once. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini used it to seize power in Iran in 1979 and to preach hate against the western democracies, the U.S. in particular, holding our diplomats hostage for over a year. Before and after him have been others, but the greatest manipulator of them all was Adolf Hitler.

Even today as one watches films of his speeches and the mesmerizing affect this man had on the German people is chilling. It is difficult not to believe that this power flowed from Satan himself. I have always believed that as powerful as the devil is, he does not have the ability to look into the future or else he would have already seen that his plan to become displace God was doomed to failure from the very start. Because of this limitation, I believe he has throughout history always had someone “waiting in the wings,” a latent antichrist, prepared to step into the role of the final Antichrist. Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Khomeini, and all the despots we have seen in our history books and have encountered in the news certainly qualify as would-be antichrists. One of these days, you can be sure that someone will rise from obscurity and fulfill the role of the last ruler who will bring the human race to the very edge of extinction. I would not be surprised if the “man of sin” is alive right now. If the hour is as late as all the signs indicate, he is already an adult being groomed for the job.

Another common denominator which all historical dictators exploited were conditions of public unrest and turmoil. Hitler exploited the ravaged economy of post- World War 2 Germany, Khomeini the misery caused by Shah Reza Pahlavi’s personal excesses while he oppressed and impoverished his people. If you look across history, you’ll find this often to be the case.

But as bad as these situations were, they were limited in scope. Though admittedly, a large amount of territory can be involved, the tyrants of the past and present have never taken over the entire planet. In the Twentieth Century, the fascists of Europe and imperialists of Japan had free nations to oppose and finally defeat them militarily. The Soviet Union was essentially bankrupted in the late 1980’s. Now imagine a world in which there are no such countering forces. This is precisely what the Bible tells us the case will be near the end of this age:

Daniel {7:23} Thus he* said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.  * A heavenly messenger, the exact nature of whom is not known.

There are many details in both the Old and New Testament concerning about the ruler of this global dictatorship. Here are just a few:

Daniel {7:24-25} And the ten horns out of this kingdom [are] ten kings [that] shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak [great] words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

2 Thessalonians {2:3-4} Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come,] except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; {2:4} Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 

Revelation {13:1-2} And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as [the feet] of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Revelation {6:2} And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.   

Many who study Bible Prophecy believe the reference in the last passage to the man who sits on the white horse with the bow, but lacking arrows, suggests that this ruler will not achieve his initial prominence militarily. A much earlier passage from Daniel appears to support this supposition:

Daniel {11:32} And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do [exploits. ] 

We learn that this man will be a great orator, but those few people who do come to believe in Jesus post-Rapture will not be taken in by his “flatteries.” Most of the world certainly will. Even now in the secular world people no longer have a problem with politicians who habitually lie. Even worse, people have no qualms about attending any number of church denominations where the doctrine of  “political correctness” and “anything goes” has overwhelmingly been accepted in the place of what the Bible teaches regarding God’s intent on such things as human sexuality to be within a committed heterosexual relationship only, Jesus as the only means of salvation, and the reality that there will be a day of judgment and that hell is a very real destination for those who have rejected God – and specifically for those of the church age, those who have refused  Jesus’ offer of himself for their sins. Paul said as much would be the case almost 2000 years ago:

2 Timothy {4:3 – 4} For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

This makes a situation already ripe today for the ultimate deceiver known as Satan to put his man in place by completely peaceful means. But once that happens and the Antichrist’s grip on power becomes established, any and all means, including force, will be applied to maintain it. It will ultimately lead to the worse war in human history at Armageddon, a conflict so terrible that it will require divine intervention to stop it in the bodily return of Jesus Christ to Earth, accompanied by all the saints (believers) who have ever lived.

Revelation {19:19-21} And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his* mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. *Jesus (See Revelation 19:11-16)

But we are getting somewhat ahead of ourselves. We have to look further at how humanity will get to this terrible state. Next time, we’ll look at more ways this future world despot might exploit the technology of our “knowledge will be increased” age to bring the world to its knees before him.

*Public Domain Source of Bible Quotations *

All Bible references are from http://www.davince.com/bible and are copied intact from that

source.

Prophetic Tech Part One

By Ed Wood

November 21, 2015

If you are reading this, odds are that not only do you have more than a passing acquaintance with the Bible, but that you also take it seriously. Odds also are that it makes you a growing anomaly in the Christian world as it exists today. Indeed, in much of the modern church here in the United States, it might even make you unwelcome. That’s not the case here because I know Terry James does take God’s Word as, well, God’s Word along with everything that follows along with such a belief.

Though I have never met Terry in person, I feel that over the many years we have corresponded, that I have gained a loyal friend. From my first contact with him via Rapture Ready, he has gone out of his way to encourage me in my study of the Bible, especially in the realm of Bible Prophecy, and has graciously provided me a venue to share my thoughts by way of various articles I’d written on this subject over nearly ten years for Rapture Ready. Now, he has invited me to once again share some of my thoughts on his new website and I am singularly honored to participate. Thank you very much, Terry. I will try very hard to rise to the occasion! So, that being said, let’s begin from a passage first from the Book of Revelation: (Note: Asterisks have been inserted to further explain the text as needed. Please see notation at the end of this article regarding the source for King James Bible passages used here.)

Revelation {11:3-12} And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a  thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

A much earlier passage found in Zechariah may be referring to these mysterious figures as well:

Zechariah {4:11-14} Then answered I*, and said unto him**, What [are] these two olive trees upon the right [side] of the candlestick and upon the left [side] thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What [be these] two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden [oil] out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these [be?] And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These [are] the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth. * Zechariah ** an angel

Exactly who these two witnesses are continues to be a source of speculation, but three possibilities top the list.  They are Enoch, Elijah, and Moses. The first two are unique in that they never died but were taken directly off the earth by God:

Genesis {5:24} And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him.

2 Kings {2:11-12} And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw [it,] and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

As for Moses, the Bible tells us that he died after seeing the Promised Land and after commissioning Joshua to take over as leader of the Israelites after their forty year journey from Egypt:

Deuteronomy {34:1-6} And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that [is] over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the LORD said unto him, This [is] the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see [it] with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he* buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. *Joshua (Hoshea)

Though Moses did die while Enoch and Elijah did not, he does in fact show up again in person with Elijah during the Transfiguration:

Matthew {17:1-3} And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias* talking with him. *Elijah

Additionally, there are also accounts concerning Elijah in which he called down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:36-38, 2 Kings 1:1-15) making him a particularly strong candidate.

Perhaps the idea that the witnesses will represent the “Law and the Prophets” also gives a nod once again to Elijah, being a prophet, and to Moses, the giver of the Law. Or it may be two other people entirely. Nevertheless, what we do know is that they will appear, withstand all manner of attacks from their enemies, until the final one the Antichrist unleashes on them  kills them – something the world will celebrate. But the jubilation will be short-lived as they are miraculously resurrected.

With this background now established, let’s take a look at what happens after they are killed and think about what it suggests:

And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

Not only do these witnesses get killed, but it seems very clear that the entire world knows about it just about in real time. This is nothing out of the ordinary in the Twenty-first Century, but one must remember that when the book of Revelation was written in the end of the First, the speed that news could be transmitted was limited by how fast one (or his or her animal) could walk, or cross by ship to a distant shore. And yet John sees the whole world instantly knowing what has happened and celebrating their demise. But the party doesn’t last very long because in the same manner it sees these once-dead men resurrected and bodily taken into heaven:

And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

The closest thing to instant communication that existed for centuries was restricted to such primitive forms as smoke signals, drum beats, signal fires, or the sounding of various types of horns such as your basic shofars or more technically refined trumpets. Out of sight or out of earshot meant that one was out of luck. It has really only been within the last 200 years that anything resembling actual long-range instantaneous communication has existed, the first being the telegraph perfected by Samuel B. Morse and Alfred Vail in 1837. This in itself required advances in the use, storage and generation of electricity, which up until the 19th Century was little more than a curiosity.

Two decades and a year later the first trans-Atlantic cable was laid between Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and Valenica, Ireland, but it failed in three weeks. A replacement was laid in1866. (Only in 1956 would a telephone transmission finally cross the Atlantic Ocean to Europe via cable.)

A huge development in the field of communications would follow Marconi’s successful wireless telegraph system in December 1901 from St. John’s Newfoundland to Cornwall, England. No longer was it necessary to run a physical connection between sender and receiver, and from this point on radio technology exploded across the globe. Using shortwave radio, it became possible even for amateur radio operators to communicate across the planet, marking the first time in human history that instant communication not only became possible, but commonplace.

With the advent of television and the space program, sophisticated communication satellites beginning with Telstar 1 in 1962 provided the means not only to transmit audio, but video as well in real-time. With the advent of the Information Age of the past few decades, the ease an accessibility of more and more people to instant communication has exploded. Now we take it all pretty much for granted – unless, of course, something prevents our devices from working!

What fascinates me personally about all of this is that for the Revelation passage above to become literally possible, all of the technological progress above had to take place first. It’s taken about 1900 years for that to happen, but here we are. We see from John’s description that what will transpire will no doubt be seen and heard by virtually the entire world – as it happens – and I have no doubt will be replayed over and over again on the global news media and Internet sites, all of them most likely under the direct control of the future world despot we have come to know as the Antichrist. I can certainly understand him splashing what he thinks is his victory over the two witnesses all over the media to further exalt himself on the world stage but that the resurrection of these two (the last thing he would want displayed) also manages to hit the airwaves shows it to be something so completely sudden and unexpected he does not have time to censor it.

As we can see, we have reached a point where our current state of technological development has made everything we’ve read about the world witnessing the events of Revelation 11:3-12 in actual time completely and literally possible for the first time in human history. It has been my personal belief that the Antichrist will not only use the supernatural abilities given to him by Satan himself, but will avail himself of the “tools at hand” to increasingly tighten his grip on a turbulent planet that will initially receive him with open arms. Next time, we’ll look at another facet of modern technology which will help him take over the world.

*Public Domain Source of Bible Quotations *

All Bible references are from http://www.davince.com/bible and are copied intact from that source.

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