[STUDY] End time stuff.
 HEDGE YOUR BETS?
Caught an interesting show last night on the business/financial channel. It was the story of some private investor who was sort of a prodigy when it came to the market.
As a kid he took an unusual interest in investing and as he was studying to become a doctor he started his own independent blog and eventually he went into investing full time.
He became famous because he was one of the first investors to spot the upcoming housing bubble [the one we already had]. As he read the data- he hedged his bets and shorted the market.
All investing is a type of ‘gambling’ you make your bet- you put money on the table- and you hope for the best.
But ‘shorting’ the market the way this guy did- well it was more like gambling in the sense that you bet that a certain stock will fall- and someone else is betting it will go up.
Well in the end he did win- but he angered a lot of his customers and his investment company would fold.
Overall he got it right- but he was bad with social skills- he had a form of Autism called Aspergers syndrome- it makes you bad with social skills- but excel in other areas.
His area of excelling was the numbers thing- yet the part of the business where you work with people- that’s what doomed him in the end.
Anyway I mentioned this because some numbers have come out this week- and the economy might be getting better- so if those numbers hold- or go up- then this next year might be okay [crow doesn’t taste that bad!].
The news? I was surprised to see the state of things go bad so fast in Iraq. Just the other day [yesterday?] the capital city had 16 bombs go off- many killed.
It was one of the worst bombings in a long time- right in the capital.
Then you had the P.M. of Iraq- AlMalaki- put out a warrant on the V.P. The Prime Minister is Shia- the V.P. is Sunni.
Iraq- like all these ‘Arab Spring’ nations are divided along these religious lines- and Iraq also has a 3rd division- the Kurds in the north.
So the Vice President has fled north to the Kurdish area- and Malaki is demanding his return to face charges of terrorism.
Can you imagine a U.S. President charging the V.P. with terrorism charges? Yeah- I fear the worst is taking place in Iraq- and there is plenty of blame to go around- but these wars were doomed from the get go.
Okay- as we end the week- who read the chapters I mentioned in the last post? They deal with the promise of God to King David- that God would bless David’s house [dynasty] for ages to come.
That David’s ‘Son’ would sit on the throne for ever. I have taught this before- the New Testament shows us that this promised has been fulfilled thru Christ.
Jesus- who comes from the lineage of King David- has been raised from the dead and he sits at the right hand of God- forever.
An interesting note on the chapters- God says to David ‘even if the future children sin- and mess up- I will punish them- but will not totally forsake them’.
I think this promise is in both the Samuel chapters and Psalms 89.
It refers to the teaching in the bible that says when believers sin- make mistakes- mess up. God will ‘chastise’ them- but not completely leave them [Read Hebrews 12- the first few verses].
Hebrews says that this is proof that we are God’s kids- because he will discipline those he loves- like a parent does with a child.
The bible also says that humans discipline at times with other motives ‘Johnny- you made me look bad in the store today- you threw a fit because you couldn’t get the candy’ so at times parents punish because of wrong motives- but the bible says Gods discipline is perfect- it leads to restoration.
In the above mentioned Psalm- David says ‘Lord- why did you let the hedge [protections] fall down around me- will your anger go on forever?’
Even though King David had all these great promises from God- yet we know the whole story- David made some drastic mistakes- he even had an illegitimate kid with the wife of one of his top soldiers.
When his scheme to cover up the crime didn’t work- he had the husband killed [Uriah] and he married the wife.
Her name was Bathsheba. She had a son- he got sick. David knew he was being punished for what he did.
So he goes into his room and fast and prays for days- then the kid dies.
His servants are afraid to tell him that the kid died. David picks up on it and says ‘he’s dead’? Yeah.
Then he washes his face and gets on with life. The servants thought ‘wow- we thought he would really go downhill once he heard the kid died’.
But David said ‘when the boy was alive- I prayed and did what I could to change the situation- but after the boy died- there's no more I can do. I will go to him some day- but he can’t come back now’.
David took the punishment- and moved on.
Bathsheba will bear him another child- a son by the name of Solomon. This is also the same son that God makes the promise to David in the above chapters- that he will build a temple for God.
So God forgave David- even used the second son from the ‘crime scene’ to do great things- but first David suffered.
Today’s word- wherever you are today on the journey- at the point of fasting and praying- or the mistakes- and the results have already played out- wherever you are- don’t let what has happened be the final word.
Hebrews also says to the person who was disciplined ‘lift up the hands that hang down- get back up- don’t let the discipline have the wrong effect- it was meant to restore you in the end’.
Yea- God allowed the hedge to come down around David- like our investor- he had talent- even special gifts- he ‘hedged’ his bets- but in the end he reaped some stuff.
Whatever has happened- its over- you can’t change it. Let’s get up and move on- there just might be a Solomon on the way.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
Let’s continue our brief over view of the bible. The book of Exodus begins with Israel going into Egypt [connected with the end of Genesis] and the first 15 chapters deal with God raising up Moses and using him to deliver his people out of bondage.
We see the 10 plagues on Egypt- because they won’t ‘let God’s people go’ and we finally see the great parting of the Red Sea and Pharaohs armies drowning in the ocean.
God’s people receive the 10 commandments at Mount Sinai and they begin a very long wilderness journey [40 years].
The book ends with the building of the Tabernacle [a tent system that was the central focus of worship during their travels].
The book itself is a good read- not as slow as the next 3 to come [Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy] and it is the continuation of the promise that God made to Abraham in the book of Genesis. If you remember- God told Abraham if he left his home land and went into a strange land that God would bless him and make him into a great nation.
The Promised Land of course was not Egypt- but Canaan [modern day Israel/Palestine] yet we read a few occasions when things got rough during the journey- That Abraham [and his kids] would lose faith and for various reasons [famine] go ‘down into Egypt’.
So Egypt kind of represents a time of doubt- slavery for God’s people. During their wilderness journey- after God delivers them out of Egypt- they go back to their complaining ways.
At various times they say stuff like ‘why did you deliver us Moses- we have no food/water out here- only if we could go back and have the onions and good food we had in the good old days’.
This mantra becomes a stumbling block for Israel- time and again God will supernaturally provide the food and water [Manna, Quail- water from a Rock] and time and again they will complain.
Eventually we will read the story of them taking their Promised Land [the book of Joshua] but yet even at that point- they still have their doubts [12 spies go in to check the land out- only 2 come back with ‘a good report’- the others say ‘the land looks great- but the people living there are too much for us to defeat- we look like grasshoppers in their sight].
Like I said in the post on Genesis- you can view the Old Testament as the story of one man and his family.
God makes the initial promise to Abraham- and the rest of the Old Testament [Law, Prophets and wisdom books] cover that story.
It’s important to understand that all of these earthly land promises- they take on a much broader meaning in the New Testament- if you carefully read the writings of the apostles [especially Paul] you will see that they viewed the coming of Christ- and his death, resurrection and ascension to God- as the ultimate fulfilling of this promise.
Lots of language says ‘we are now all heirs of these promises- Jews and gentiles’ lots of language like that.
This has been a very contentious point in church history- most of the early church [Catholic, Orthodox] did accept this view [Saint Augustine was very influential in this area] and later on many Protestant churches would reject it.
But I think for the most part that the historic church got it right- while the Protestant view has some merits as well [Amillennialism, Dispensationalism are the various names given to these views].
Okay- out of all the figures in the bible- only 2 are said to be Mediators- those 2 are Moses and Jesus.
A mediator is the person who acts as the go between- when 2 parties enter into a covenant. Moses is the mediator of the Old Covenant- Jesus of the new.
In the gospel of John we read that ‘the law came through Moses- but grace and truth came through Jesus’.
John also says ‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us’. John uses the imagery of ‘the Word’ [called Logos Christology] a lot in his writings when referring to Jesus.
The words ‘Dwelt among us’ literally mean ‘he pitched his tent among us’ the same image of the tent [tabernacle] that was set up during the wilderness journey that we just spoke about.
This tent that was set up and taken down for the 40 year period of wandering [which eventually becomes the Old Testament Temple under King Solomon] was indeed a picture of Jesus.
Just like God was ‘in the tent’- the Ark that was in the Holy of Holies- the inner room- so likewise God was ‘In Christ- reconciling the world back unto himself’.
John said ‘The Word became flesh’. God became man- lived among us and redeemed us back unto himself thru Christ- once again we see that the entire bible- all the figures and stories and experiences- point to one thing- Jesus, the Christ- The Son of the Most High.
 OVERVIEW OF THE BIBLE
Let’s cover some biblical history- that is the making of the bible itself. A few days ago I did a post on Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God made to natural Israel. The post showed how the early Jewish people saw Jesus as their Messiah- the promised one that they were always looking for.
The earliest mention of the promise goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. God tells Eve that her child shall bruise the serpent’s head- and the serpent [actually the ‘seed’ or child] will bruise his heel. There have been works of art [statues/paintings] depicting this scene for centuries. It was fulfilled at the Cross.
So we have the 4 gospel accounts- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John- and these accounts give us the history of Jesus- his miracles and teachings- and they show us the fulfillment of God’s promise- made centuries before- that he would send them their Messiah.
Out of the 4 gospels- only one- John- has a different outline. The first 3- we call them Synoptic gospels. They follow the same basic structure- Johns stands alone.
John’s gospel contains no teachings about the end times- like the others. John doesn’t mention the parables- or the Sermon on the Mount. John’s gospel focuses more on the last week of the life of Christ- while the others cover the 3 years of Jesus earthly ministry [none cover the early years of Jesus- except for the account of Jesus being left behind at the temple when he was 12 years old].
The whole bible [Old and New testaments] have 66 books- 39 Old- 27 new. Only 3 original apostles actually wrote parts of the N.T. Matthew, John and Peter. Out of these 3- John wrote the most. He has his gospel- the three epistles [1st,2nd and 3rd John] and the book of Revelation.
The majority of the N.T. is made up of the collection of the apostle Paul’s letters. Paul is without a doubt the most influential person in the N.T.- besides Christ.
We also have the historical account of the early church- called The Acts of the Apostles- written by the same Luke that wrote the gospel. Luke was a doctor- and an historian. Then you have what’s called the General epistles- the kind of stand alone letters- Peters 2 letters, Jude, a few more like that.
And the New Testament closes with the apocalyptic book [prophecy] of Revelation- written by John [most think the apostle- some think another John- called ‘John of Patmos’]
Okay- one of the major themes of the N.T. is what we hit on the other day- a teaching called Justification by Faith. This is the main thrust of Paul’s doctrinal epistles [Romans, Galatians] and becomes a point of contention in the early church. The teaching is simple- it means the N.T. is a covenant- made by God with man [and with Jesus] that says God will give eternal life to all those who accept the death and resurrection of Jesus. That Jesus died for the sins of man- and because you believe in this free gift- your are/will be saved.
Now- the bible obviously says a lot more than this- but this doctrine becomes one of the main ones because this is the controversy that the apostle Paul dealt with for most of his ministry years.
I mentioned this the other day in a previous post.
Paul also has 3 epistles [letters] that are called The Pastoral epistles- these are 1st, 2nd Timothy and Titus. These are called Pastorals because these young men were protégés of Paul- he trained them up as local leaders who he could recommend to the early believers as trustworthy leaders- after he would leave a community.
These men did not function like what we usually call Pastors in our day- that is sort of a speaker preaching every Sunday at the ‘Main church’ building- but they were spiritual overseers- they led the flock in a way that if problems arose- these men could be looked to as honest guides.
Remember- in the 1st century- you did not have means of communication like we have today- so if Paul left a community [which is what the word church means in the bible- Greek- Ecclesia]. And if a problem rose up- like those who were coming in and saying the Gentiles had to become circumcised and keep the law- then the believers could look to the men Paul left his stamp of approval on.
Paul would of course correspond with these early communities- thus the letters- but until the letters arrived- the ‘Timothy’s’ would do.
Okay- the last book of the bible- Revelation- has gotten a lot of use- often too much- in the sense that we- especially lone wolf Protestant groups- have really done loops with the book.
Overall- the theme is about Christ [Lamb of God] being the central focus of this new kingdom of Priests and Kings [us] and even though there will be tough times [lots of the images of tests and trials] yet at the end of the day- we are ‘married’ to this Lamb [Jesus is called the groom in scripture- and the church is called the bride. God restores in the last book of the bible- what was lost in the first book- relationship- pictured as marriage] and we all live in a new heaven and new earth- and the story ends well.
Okay- just a few more points. The main message of the bible is that God made man [Genesis] he wanted man to be in communion [friendship] with him. Man sinned and this began the long process of God making promises to man [through/to the nation of Israel- and eventually it would extend to all men- thus the apostle Paul working with the Gentiles] that he would save man thru the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
All people who simply accept this benefit- they will be children of God. The focus should not be on anti Christ- or when the end of the world will happen- or on any other of a host of teachings that the church likes to dwell on- but the focus is God loving man so much- that he sent his Son to die for man- and we can be saved thru him.
Over the coming weeks I hope to do a little more on the development of the bible- why do protestants have 66 books- and Catholics have an extra 15? I’ll cover it fairly- giving the Catholic view as well as the Protestant one- and promise not to push only one view. But things like this are real questions that honest people have- and I want to help people get a better hold on the thing.
Okay- try and read some of the N.T. these next few days- overview some of the letters I mentioned- maybe read John’s gospel- Romans. I would wait on Revelation for now- I hope to give some hints that will make it easier to understand- so after I cover that a little more- then that would be a good one to read too.
And as you read Johns gospel- notice how many times the word Believe appears- being connected with those who believe have eternal life. That’s one of the strongest promises in the bible- and its Jesus doing the talking! So maybe memorize a few of them- like the famous John 3:16 verse- those types of verses last a lifetime- and longer.
 CALLING ALL ANGELS
Let’s try and do some teaching today. A few weeks back I mentioned how I kept ‘stumbling’ upon bible verses that speak about angels- especially Gabriel and Michael. I mentioned how I was praying for Persia [geez- who prays for Persia?] and I started praying for God to send Gabriel and Michael to ‘war’ against any leaders who were wicked.
Okay- this all started at a time when I was doing a teaching on Islam- and was [and still am] praying a lot about the Arab Spring. Anyway- one morning- after praying like this- I felt the Lord leading me to read Daniel [I think chapter 8?].
Anyway as I read the chapter- God says ‘I heard your prayer- and I have sent Gabriel and Michael to go and war against the prince of Persia’. Man- you can’t make stuff like this up. Anyway- I actually had a few more of these ‘angel signs’ that I didn’t get into. The other day I mentioned how when I woke up- I felt the Lord wanted me to read Revelation 12- sure enough- there you have Michael warring against the dragon- helping the woman who is being attacked. Then this morning- I felt like we should do Luke chapter 1. And again- you have Gabriel telling Zacharias that his sons name will be John. And Gabriel communicating with the Virgin Mary.
I just found it strange that I have been bumping into all these angel chapters- I mean I do realize the bible has accounts of angels- but the odds on accidently hitting all these chapters- while not looking for them- it’s not that easy.
Okay- when we read the bible [which I hope you guys are doing] it’s easy to read straight thru the gospels- and not notice the details. Luke’s gospel has more accounts of women speaking- their dialogue- than any other gospel. Some scholars think Luke actually interviewed the Virgin Mary in his compilation of his gospel.
Marks gospel refers to Jesus as ‘the Son of man’- Matthews gospel uses the term Kingdom of Heaven in place of Kingdom of God. Out of all the titles used for Jesus- the term Son of Man is the 3rd most popular. Jesus Christ [Messiah] and Son of God are popular- but the term Son of Man comes from the vision that the prophet Daniel had.
It’s interesting to note- that even though this term is ‘less honorable’ than the others- yet when Jesus is referring to himself- it is the most common term that he uses.
In Luke chapter 1- we see an interesting thing. When the angel Gabriel [the only angels given names in the bible are Gabriel and Michael] speaks to Mary and Zacharias [John the Baptist’s dad] they take the good news as an answer to the promises that God made to the Jewish nation years before. Both Mary and John’s dad say ‘you have kept the promise you made to Abraham- you have kept the promise made to King David’.
What promise? Right at the beginning of the biblical story [Genesis] we see God interacting with man- he chooses Abraham to start a ‘conversation’ with. This journey eventually leads to the birthing of the nation of Israel. Abraham has Isaac- Isaac has Jacob- and Jacobs name is changed to Israel- and he has 12 sons [the 12 tribes of Israel].
Down the line comes a great king who will rule over Israel- his name was David. God made promises to David [like he did to Abraham] and one of those promises was God would raise up a son to David- who would sit on ‘the throne forever’. Now- this is one of those prophecies that is a dual prophecy- that is some of the language used is speaking about Solomon- David’s son- and some is fulfilled thru Christ.
In Luke one- they are praising God for raising up this promised king- a Son of David- who will sit on David’s throne. These promises were very real among the Jewish people of the 1st century.
Now- it would take way too much time to try and explain the various theological arguments that have taken place about this promise- that Jesus would inherit the Throne of his father David. Suffice it to say- that when you read the sermons in the book of Acts- especially Peter’s- you see them speaking about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as the main fulfillment of this promise. Peter says that the actual promise that a son of David would sit on the throne ‘forever’ could only be fulfilled thru somebody who would live forever- thus pointing to the resurrection of Christ.
The early Jewish believers/apostles all accepted Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham and David. God told Abraham that he too would have a son that would bless all nations [Jews and gentiles] and the apostle Paul uses this a lot when talking about the gentile church.
Today’s point is- right at the start- the early Jewish people saw the coming of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise of God to send the Messiah to them. There are various reasons why many people later rejected this claim- but at the start- they saw Jesus as the fulfillment.
When the angel tells Mary about her giving birth to this Messiah- she replies ‘be it unto me according to thy word’. Mary goes on and gives this ‘prophetic song’ which has come to be called The Magnificat- which is a term that comes from the start of the song- in Latin. Mary’s response to the angel is a point of contention between Catholic and Protestant scholars.
The Catholic church calls it ‘Mary’s Fiat’ which means Mary used a commanding tone- sort of like saying ‘you do this Gabriel’ like she was the one in charge. Protestant scholars view it more as a response of humility- like she said ‘okay- whatever you say’.
The confusion over this can be attributed to an early Latin translation of the bible- by the Catholic church Father Jerome. He wrote the Latin Vulgate- the very famous Catholic bible- and in Latin- the word used in this spot denotes ‘command’.
But when you go to the original Greek translation- the word is more passive.
Now- even though this is an ancient disagreement between very smart guys- how many Catholics and Protestants are even aware of this? So like many things- we are taught to see the ‘other side’ in a negative light- and often times we don’t even know why we don’t like them- we just know we don’t like them!
Okay- maybe you should read the chapter today- it’s a long chapter [Luke 1] and look for the language that talks about Jesus as being the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham and David- its interesting to see the importance of the early Jewish people as seeing Jesus as one of their own.
History will later show how the Jewish believers were persecuted severely- and early on [2nd century] they would be forbidden to worship as a Jewish church [I think the emperor was Hadrian- he outlawed all Jewish expressions of ‘Christianity’ that is- Jewish people- who accepted Jesus as their Messiah].
This would leave only the gentile expression of Christianity- which we all know of today as we study church history. But we must not forget that the 1st believers were all Jewish- and they saw Jesus as the answer to the promises that God made to them centuries before- Peter said God fulfilled the promise that he made to King David- that a Son would sit on his throne- forever. Yes- the church recites this fulfillment every Sunday ‘he is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead’ amen and amen.
 DON THE DUD
Well this morning I was at least hoping for some wind- got nada. For those of you who have never lived in the gulf- or a hurricane area- every year the local [and national] media have a tendency to ‘hype’ any type of disturbance in the gulf.
As Don developed into a tropical storm the other day- our local media began the regular routine of tracking the storm- ‘will it hit here- what are the tracking routes showing’ as I watched I said to myself ‘self- they don’t realize that the graphics they are using- the whole cone of danger- look exactly like the graphics they use for a cat. 4 hurricane’.
I realized that even though the actual satellite imagery is obviously different- yet the ‘narrative’ surrounding the entire event stays the same- and to the average grandma- glimpsing the local weather report- well yes- it looks like a hurricane is on the way!
Last night I watched the stupidity of the media- the Repubs passed their bill- finally- and it was off to the Senate- and of course the Senate has already said it would be dead on arrival. As I listened to the media- many Dems were sort of treated like they were the enlightened folk- and the reporters were like ‘and when will the Tea Party quit holding the whole country hostage- and purposefully stop trying to destroy the country’.
And the Dems would say ‘okay- they played their little game- in the House- and when will they stop playing these games- and really come to a solution’.
I began to realize that the Dems were really not presenting a totally honest picture- and with the help of the media- were actually positioning themselves for going past the Aug. 2 deadline.
Now- I’m not a tea partier- in any way, shape or form- I’m talking narrative here [remember Don] the story they are trying to tell- is not really as bad as they are making it sound like. I’m not saying the threat of default is not bad- it is very bad. I’m saying the story behind why the Dems [and Obama] won’t actually sign any of these Repub bills is not what they’re making it sound like.
The Repubs in the house have passed 2 bills- and sent them to the Senate. Both of these bills have cuts to go along with the increase in the debt limit- they also- now- have included a future vote on a constitutional amendment to have a federal balanced budget.
These bills have one more thing- the Repub bills have the House and Senate revisiting the whole thing again- in 6-9 months.
This is the main thing the pres. does not want. Why? The hard right says it’s for purely political reasons- the pres. does not want to have this fight again in the midst of a re-election campaign. The left say a 6 month plan would cause the rating agencies to drop our rating- because they think we will be on the brink again soon.
Both of these have some truth to them. But the facts right now- on the ground- are the Dems in the senate have already agreed to just about everything the Repubs have said- the Reid bill cuts 2.2 trillion- along with a debt limit increase- but it takes you past the election.
So now- why are Peirs Morgan- and Fahreed- and all the other talking heads saying ‘the tea partiers are driving us over the cliff- its Armageddon’ why? A bill with a promise [not an actual mandate] to have a future vote on a fed. Balanced budget is not the end of the world. Geez- it would take 2/3rds of the house and senate to pass it- then it would be sent to the states to get ratified [probably would never pass].
49 states already have it [and it doesn’t work so great- California is one of them]. So- why not appease the 80 tea party ‘nut jobs’ and sign the thing? I mean you already agree to the whole concept- because that’s the same basic plan that Reid has put out- except the Repub bill makes you do this again before the election.
Now- for the media to be saying ‘why have the tea party terrorists taken us to the precipice- why!’ geez- why not ask Obama- heck- we know you tried to compromise- and you did take some heat from the left- but geez- are you going to let the nation default- mainly because you don’t want to have to do this again in the middle of an election’?
I mean- the bills on the ‘table’ are very close- swallow the promised future vote on a fed. balanced budget- and ‘save the world’.
The media has simply decided to run with ‘the tea partiers are destroying the country with their proposals’ actually- the proposals are conservative- I’ll grant you that- but there are really no big differences- certainly not big enough to cause a default- to threaten a veto.
I saw a story one day- whenever I see something on evolution- I like reading it. You usually can see the bias right at the start. The story was about this new potential missing link. They found this ‘monkey’ tribe that mastered the use of tools- they made hammers and chisels and used them regularly in these caves. Wow! What a find.
The story showed how these caves had these monkey bones [skulls only] and these caves had these make shift tools in them. The skulls were all in a pile- and the tools around some table like device [these monkeys were obviously very skilled in the building trade].
The article said that this was scientific evidence for evolution. After all- who can deny that the skulls and chisels are real! I found it interesting- that the skulls were all in a pile- that there were no other bones- just skulls. Okay- according to the article- I have to believe that these advanced monkeys- either were all killed at one time- while huddling in the corner- or as they aged- they had a strange tradition- as they felt the big one coming on [you know- Fred Sanford- I’m coming home Elizabeth] they ran to the corner of the cave- laid down just in the right spot- placing their head over grandpa- and died.
Or could there be another narrative- another view of the actual evidence- don’t deny the evidence- just quit adding ‘your narrative’ and telling everyone it’s the only real way to see it.
In many parts of the world- the indigenous tribes do in fact eat monkey brain. These tribes make chisels/hammers to crack the heads open. Is it possible that they were simply getting the monkey heads- one or 2 at a time- having a ‘man cave’ moment- watching the super bowl- and after a fun night of monkey brains and beer- they tossed the skulls into a pile. That’s why you have skulls only.
The other view has some dogs coming into the cave- taking all the other bones- and not touching the skulls- okay- 2 views. I like to crab- after we have a crab boil- I guarantee you- you will find a bunch of crab shells in one spot- did they all naturally die in that spot- and did they actually craft the nut cracker and the table that it sits on- come on.
So as we close the week- the media is warning ‘Armageddon is here- the tea partiers have driven us over the edge- the end is near’ I guess the only person that comes out looking like a rose is sitting in some hotel on the left coast- listening to all these warnings and saying ‘see- I told you so’ you sure did Harold- you sure did [Camping].
 YOU MUST BE KIDDING!
I caught a few minutes of Hal Lindsey last night- I very rarely watch ‘religious TV’ any more [with the exception of EWTN] and Lindsey was covering the Rapture and some stuff in Revelation. He did Rev. Chapter 6- the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse. He covered the standard Evangelical view that the 1st horse [rider on the white horse] is the anti-christ.
There is one other reference in Revelation to a rider on a white horse [chapter 19] everyone agrees that this rider is Jesus- yet many evangelicals have developed an interesting view that has the rider on the white horse in chapter 6 as the anti- christ.
The reason? They say look what follows- ‘war, famine, judgment’. But does this chapter [or Revelation] ever describe these judgments as ‘the judgments of anti christ’? No. As a matter of fact- the last few verses of this chapter actually describe the judgments as coming from him who sits on the throne and from the Lamb.
In chapter 19 the reference [of Jesus on the white horse] says he goes forth to ‘make war’. And if you read about these horses in the Old Testament prophets- they talk about God’s Spirit carrying out the judgment.
I don’t want to do a whole thing on who the rider is- after looking at all these verses in context I would say its not anti christ- but Christ [by the way- others do hold to this view- but the majority of ‘prophecy preachers’ USA do not]. The point is we assume stuff- then preach it like that particular view is the only ‘correct one’.
Okay- last night Weiner was being investigated for having contact with young girls on line- minors. The cops were at the house of the girl. Weiner seems to be admitting that yes- I regularly had on line contact with young girls. But during those contacts I was not fully naked and ‘excited’. But then when he clicked over to the 20 year olds- well yes- naked and out there.
Okay- he also said he cant be sure that during all these on line talks that he hadn’t exposed himself to young girls ‘maybe yes- maybe no’. Okay.
Yet at the same time the reason we all found out about this is because he ‘accidently’ posted a crotch picture to 50 thousand strangers on his twitter page. So we have a sitting U.S. congressman who has many experiences with woman on line- he has already sent these pic’s to 50 thousand people.
He also admits contact with underage girls.
And MSNBC [Lawrence O’Donnell] says ‘I don’t see why he cant be the mayor of N.Y.- and I would invite him on tomorrow and not ask a single question about his on line exploits’ none of our business!
Yet these same media folk spent yesterday going through 24,000 emails of Sarah Palin- actually enlisting the publics help ‘come join us America- lets all go through these emails and see what we can find’ [N.Y. Times, Washington Post].
The MSNBC political hacks were drooling at the mouth. Has the media ever done something like this before? Have you ever heard of any public figure [including Obama] who the media said ‘hey world- lets go through 24,ooo emails and see what we can find’. The woman is not even officially running for office right now- some of these emails are to her kids.
Yet you have a sitting Democrat congressman- admittedly sending nude shots of himself to anyone- possible young girls [15?] and MSNBC says ‘that’s none of our darn business’.
A few years ago a right winger put out a book- I think it was titled ‘liberalism is a mental disease’. I’m beginning to wonder.
 A SIGN FROM AN ANGEL?
These last few days I have been reading/teaching a few passages from Matthew and one of the quotes of Jesus [chapter 24] comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel. So as I skimmed through a few of the verses I felt like the Lord was leading me to read a chapter or 2.
My last year at the fire Dept. was 2007- I retired in 12-07 with a few days just under 25 years. Though I never planned on retiring that early- I was only 45- and even though I had put in a full 25 years- the young age effects how much you get. I always planned on working till at least 55.
But the last year my back injury was bad- had it for many years [bad disk] and the last few months I finished on injury leave. Now- we have had guys who worked 25 years and spent at least half of it on injury leave- yes some guys know how to work the system. If you don’t count my final 6 months on the job- for the entire other 25 years I only took a total of 2 weeks on injury leave- so I wasn’t a ‘work the system’ kinda guy.
When I retired- the city fully expected me to try and do some kind of injury settlement- it became standard procedure for stuff like this. I took my retirement check and left- they never heard from me again.
The last year- before I knew I was leaving- I would get up real early in the morning [I actually started this practice the last few years before I retired]. I would walk outside and pray for most of the night. I did the same at the house. One thing I soon realized is when you’re up most of the night- you see lots of shooting stars and you learn the different star patterns during the year.
I would often find it ‘strange’ to see a shooting star right at certain times during prayer- maybe I would pray ‘let your word go forth’ and then see a star. Now- I know it might be a coincidence and all- yet at times it was weird.
One night- I will never forget this one- I was walking outside early [maybe 3 a.m.?] and I felt impressed to pray a verse from the book of Daniel. I was thinking about the story of the angel Gabriel and his dealings with Daniel. At one point Daniel is praying to God and he seems to be stuck- he needs a breakthrough. So after a few weeks of seeking God the angel Gabriel appears and tells Daniel he’s there to help.
So as I was thinking about this passage I felt the Lord leading me to do a ‘Daniel prayer’ which to me meant to simply say something like ‘God- send some angels to help us out- Gabriel- come on- what’s taking so long!’ And as soon as I prayed the thing I saw a giant meteor roll through the sky. Now- when I say giant I mean it. It was a huge ball of fire- I have never seen anything like it in real time.
So this obviously stuck with me- a sign from God maybe? Anyway I really never gave it much thought that it came right at a major transitional time in my life- I left the Fire Dept. and at the same time entered into a few new areas of doing ministry. In a way it was a Beginning of a new thing.
So as I’m reading Daniel the other day- I read chapter 9- probably the first time since seeing the meteor in 2007. And I read Gabriel saying ‘I’m the one you saw at the start- when you first started praying- I heard you and was sent forth- I’m now here’. I found it strange because these last few weeks during prayer I felt lead to ask for God to send- well yes angels. I mentioned Michael and Gabriel. So in a way it was like the Lord was saying- through Gabriel ‘I’m the sign you saw at the start- I finally made it’.
Now- one of the new ministry things I started was Facebook- lots of old friends and a few new ones. Because I’m such a political junky- I ‘friended’ a few of the sites that are called ‘Days of Rage’ these are the Arab/Persian nations who are protesting their leaders.
One of the friends on the site is from the tiny nation of Bahrain- if you look on a map it’s this little country sitting right off the coast- in the Persian Gulf. The reason this nation is getting a pass- as opposed to dropping bombs on them [like Libya] is because we have our 5th fleet docked there- this is our major sea base for the whole region.
But I have had a few good talks with the person who runs the site- and I feel doing stuff like this- reaching out to help—even in Arab/Muslim nations- that we as Christains should try and be involved- while at the same time sharing the gospel.
Many years ago while preaching at the jails- I met an exchange student who got arrested and was from the Persian Gulf area. He told me he was Muslim but he would appreciate it if I bought him a Persian language bible. So I ordered one and a few weeks later I gave it to him. He was really grateful- I guess he thought I would forget. This was the first [only?] foreign language bible I recall ever actually buying. But I have thought about it recently- kind of thinking ‘heck, maybe it’s because I have been praying for my friends in the Persian Gulf and somehow this was always a region we were to befriend’.
So this morning I read chapter 10 of Daniel [chapter 9 was the chapter referenced above] and Daniel is on his face- going through great trials- and Gabriel appears again and says ‘fear not Daniel- understand the words that I speak to you. Since the first day you began seeking God I was sent. But the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me, but lo, Michael, one of the chief princes [angels] came to help me… and I am now come to tell you what will happen to your people in the coming days’.
I just found the entire conversation between Daniel/God and the angels to have been speaking to me. I mean I was just praying about Persia- asking for God to send Gabriel and Michael [by name!] and I had no idea that I would stumble across these obscure Daniel chapters that include all these same elements.
Let me be frank- There are entire church movements [which I am very familiar with] that live their whole lives being led by stuff like this. These are often described as Prophetic or Apostolic movements. I have read lots- and been involved some with these churches and for the most part they are great Christians- It’s just I find at times they avoid ‘classical’ education. That is many of the things I write about and stuff I feel all believers should learn- many of these type churches have no time for ‘that stuff’ and they simply wait for the next ‘Daniel’ experience.
That is they look for details in scripture- things that are not always there. So I want to go on record to say I don’t see these types of experiences as the norm for the healthy Christian life. Yet- I have had them happen- and when they do it’s important to listen.
I thank the Lord that he has sent some help for us at this time- my friends in the Persian/Arab world as well as the ones here in the U.S. I thank God we are part of a real community of people- some have gone on to be with God- others are still here- and yes- we do have a company of angels that are also looking in on the thing [Hebrews, Revelation, etc.]
When we do all we can do and are at the end of the rope- like Daniel flat on his face- it helps when God sends an angel and says ‘heck- get up from the ground- stand up- we have work to do’.
 THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Okay, I think today will be the last day for doing End Time stuff [for now]. Over these last few days I have tied to just hit a few key verses- things that are popular in the media because of the failed Camping prediction.
As I looked over Matthew 24 again this morning- there might have been 2 more areas I wanted to cover- but let’s stick with the verse above [the other area was Jesus teaching about his own 2nd coming- he actually says don’t ‘fall’ for those who say ‘see- here is Jesus- in the SECRET chambers’. He actually warns against having a belief in a secret return- which is actually what the Rapture is. He then says ‘for as the lightning shines from one end of the sky to the other- so shall the 2nd coming be’. Some actually think this is saying its secretive- that just like you miss seeing the lighting- because it’s so fast- so you might not see the return. In context all these verses are saying the coming of Jesus will be open and in full view. When you read the other descriptions Jesus gives- ‘Like a thief in the Night’ if you continue to read in context- these verses are saying many will be surprised- like when a robber comes- they are not saying no one will see!]
Okay- in Matt. 24 Jesus says ‘when you see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place- flee to the mountains- leave the city- troubles on the way’. What does this mean? Jesus is quoting Daniel the prophet. In Daniel chapters 9-12 you read lots of detailed stuff- it’s easy to get lost in the many intricate interpretations some prophecy teachers get into here.
I just want to hit on the Abomination one. The term simply means ‘the wicked thing/person that will bring destruction’. Daniel was one of the Jews taken into captivity during the Babylonian captivity of Gods people. Daniel lived around 600 B.C. and you read in his book that when he was in exile he picked up the writings of the prophet Jeremiah and he figured out the years that God had foretold for the judgment on Israel [chapter 9].
As you look at all the verses about how many years so many things will take place in- one of the famous time verses is the 70 weeks prophecy. This prophecy is usually seen to be speaking about 70 weeks of years [490 years]. As you read and follow the years of the prophecy- it brings you right up unto the time of Christ.
The prophecy says there will be 490 years determined for the Jewish people- and from the decree to rebuild the temple to the appearing of Jesus there will be 69 weeks [of years]. Now- many scholars have traced the years from the decree that we find in the Old Testament to the time of Jesus and it amazingly brings you right up unto the time of Christ.
But the prophecy leaves the last ‘week of years’ out [some say]. If you measure the time right unto the Crucifixion of Jesus- then you have the last 7 years open. This is where many prophecy folk put the future 7 year tribulation. If you are familiar at all with these things- the popular version says in the last days the anti-christ will arise and make a covenant with Israel for 7 years- in the middle of the 7 years [3.5] he will ‘cause the sacrifice to cease’ and bring an end to temple worship and the sacrificial system. Wording like this is used in Daniel.
Now- in some of these verses in Daniel you are reading about Jesus- the prince- and in others your reading about the ‘bad’ prince- the ‘abomination that makes desolate’. Some have said if you trace the years  to the baptism of Jesus [instead of the Crucifixion] then you can view the ‘middle of the last week’ [3.5 years] as referring to the end of Jesus earthly ministry. If this is so- then ‘the prince who made the sacrifice to cease in the middle of the last week’ might be referring to the Cross of Christ.
The New Testament teaches [Hebrews] that the death of Christ was the final sacrifice for man- and his death caused the old sacrificial system to stop ‘the prince who causes the sacrifice to cease’ get it?
Either way- as you can see- there are various ways to view these time verses. Now- in 168 B.C. you had the wicked ruler- Antiochus Epiphanies- attack the Jewish temple and he set up a pagan altar and sacrificed a pig on the altar- this was the first fulfillment of the ‘abomination of desolation’. This began a process of the Hellenization of the Jewish people by Antiochus [Hellenization means imposing Greek culture and ways upon a foreign culture].
This event was avenged by a Jewish priest and his 5 sons [the most famous being Judas Maccabee]. The Catholic Apocryphal book of Maccabees records this event. This is known as the Maccabean Revolt and the Jewish people celebrate this event every Hanukah [I think it’s Hanukah- to be honest it’s been a long time since I read this- might want to double check].
So Jesus picks up on the Daniel prophecy- that was partially fulfilled in the 2nd century B.C. and he says there will be another ‘abomination that makes desolate’ and when you see him [or it?] ‘flee Jerusalem and run to the hills’. Now I mentioned the other day that many Jewish believers did run for the hills in A.D. 70- they took Jesus words as a warning and escaped the slaughter.
If Jesus were talking about the ‘end of the world’ why flee to the hills? I mean if I said ‘the world is ending- run from North Bergen to Fairview [my old hometown area]’ that wouldn't make much sense. So it is possible that the ‘abomination that makes desolate’ was fulfilled in some way during the 1st century. How?
There are various views on this- let me just give you one. Now- to my Jewish friends I want to be careful here- but understand this is a theological issue that weighed heavily on the minds of the 1st century Jewish believers. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is considered to be the final sacrifice for all men. In the New Testament you have very strong language used for those who continued to sacrifice animals after the once and for all sacrifice of Christ.
The book of Hebrews says those who do this are ‘trampling under their feet the Blood of Christ and are disrespecting his Blood’ strong words indeed [Hebrews]. Okay- in the 1st century you did not have the internet or media like we do today- so obviously God was not holding all the Jews responsible from day 1- that is it took some time before the word of the Cross would get out and those who believed would stop sacrificing animals. Basically God gave the Jewish nation a 40 year probationary period- a GENERATION [‘this generation’- remember?]
From the time of Jesus earthly ministry to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem [A.D. 70] you had just under a biblical generation- just like the prophecies said. What happened at the time of the destruction that might have been called ‘an abomination that makes desolate’? The Jewish nation continued to sacrifice animals right up until the end of the ‘40 year probationary period’ the time God gave them to fully embrace the once and for all sacrifice of Christ. This means it is possible that the abomination of desolation is speaking of the continued animal sacrifices that were ‘trampling under foot the Blood of Christ- and putting him to an open shame’.
In essence this act- continuing to sacrifice animals- was just as blasphemous as Antiochus sacrificing a pig on the altar- got it?
Okay- these past few days I floated lots of other ways to view the End Times teaching besides the most popular ways we hear about in the media [both 'Christian’ and secular]. I’m not saying my view- or these various views are the only ‘right way’ but I am saying we need to be careful as believers when we hear/learn certain views- and then confuse those views with ‘well brother- this is what the bible says!’ Often times people mean ‘this is what I think the bible says’ and we need to be careful that we are distinguishing between the two.
 THIS GENERATION WILL NOT PASS AWAY UNTIL ALL THESE THINGS HAPPEN
Let’s cover a little more on the End Times. Here in my study I have a couple of books that would fit in the category of Preterism. Preterism is the view that some Christians hold that says all the events spoken about by Jesus in these end times chapters were fulfilled in the 1st century.
The books are by R.C. Sproul [not a full Preterist] and Gary Demar [a full Preterist]. Demar's book is called ‘Last Days Madness’ and if you want a full study of this view- that would be the book to get.
Now- am I a Preterist? No. Like I said before- I try real hard to stay in the classical mainstream of Christian thought- and though Preterists make a good case- in the end I think they go too far.
But let’s talk a little about why certain believers have found it necessary to even make a defense like this. In the chapters of the bible that talk about the last days- there are frequent statements made that seem to indicate that the things being discussed would take place ‘quickly’ ‘shortly’ or at least in the lifetime of those hearing the message at the time. Jesus says ‘truly I say to you- this generation will not pass away until ALL these things are fulfilled’. Another time Jesus says ‘some of you standing here will not die until you see the kingdom come’.
So its passages like these that have caused some to make the effort to fit all the end times stuff within the 1st century. You say ‘but how can anyone think that the 2nd coming and the final judgment and all the end times events- how could they think it happened in the 1st century?’ Well before you scoff too much- believe me- these guys make a really thorough case. For instance they will show you verses in the Old Testament that use the same End Times language that Jesus uses about ‘my coming’ and the ‘judge will come to judge the world’ and they will show you that these prophecies were actually fulfilled by certain judgments that took place against the nation of Israel.
And there are Parables of Jesus that speak about his ‘coming’ and in some cases it is speaking about his resurrection and ascension and being seated at Gods right hand- that is ‘the coming’ was more of a view of Jesus ‘coming’ to sit on the right hand of God after he fulfilled his earthly mission. So as you can see, those who make this argument are not totally out in left field.
Okay- how do we answer the critics on the sayings about ‘this generation will not pass until all these things happen’. Like I said in the last post- some say Jesus was talking about a future generation- at least 2 thousand years down the road- who would be alive when the 2nd coming would happen. The problem with this view is in the New Testament you have the Greek language as the original language that you study when looking at these verses [the bible was originally written in Greek] and when you look at this terminology being used in other places- it is always speaking about the generation living at the time of the statement.
So that would make it hard to make the case that Jesus was speaking about some future generation down the road. Others say that ‘this generation’ can refer to a certain ethnic group [the Jewish nation]. While this can apply- yet again this is not the normal way the phrase is used.
So what’s the answer? I do believe that some of the ideas from the Preterists can help here. In the Old Testament there are what you call Dual Prophecies- prophecies that are fulfilled ‘twice’. If you study the events that took place during ‘the generation’ living at the time of these statements- they did indeed see these things happen. I mean you even have reports by 1st century historians [Eusebius- lived in the 3rd or 4th century- was a 1st century historian] that said at the time of the destruction of the temple [A.D. 70] there were accounts of people seeing chariots in the sky and all sorts of signs that Jesus mentioned in the Last Days passages.
Maybe tomorrow I will get a little more into some of the signs- but the fact is you can find just about every element of Jesus Last Times teaching being fulfilled in some way within the actual generation of those who heard him speak at the time.
However Christians decide to come down on these issues- it’s important to see that the prevailing American Evangelical view- that ‘this generation’ is speaking about the generation of people living at the time of the ‘blooming of the fig tree’ which is defined by some as the birth of the nation of Israel in 1948- that this teaching is not to be found in the bible.
While we do not know the time of Jesus return- and the ‘end of the world/age’ [another important distinction] we do know that the signs that Jesus gave us do count for something- it’s not wrong to look at the general signs of increased wars and natural disasters and the like- and to see that his coming is drawing near. Most commentators who have used these verses recently- even in the secular media- have actually been using them in context.
So we should avoid the temptation to date set- try not to add things into the passages that are not there [the fig tree meaning Israel in 1948] and avoid mocking the actual teaching in the bible that Jesus will indeed return some day- the apostle Peter said that in the End Times some would mock and say ‘where is the promise of his coming- we have been hearing it for our whole lives’. So we don’t want to fall into the category of mockers- yet we don’t want to date set either- no man knows the day- not even the Son.
 THE FIG TREE
Let’s do a little more on Eschatology [end times stuff] today. Over the last few weeks these things have been in the news because of the Harold Camping prediction and you have heard various news folk- as well as believers giving their slant to all the popular verses that deal with the subject.
Some media people were quoting ‘no one knows when the last day will happen- not even the Son, only God’. Then you have had a few other popular verses seep into the flow. The main portions of the bible that deal with the end times are Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. John’s gospel does not have an ‘end times’ discourse- possibly because he covers the subject in length in the book of Revelation.
The main gospel on the subject is Matthew- Mark’s gospel seems to be a shorter compilation possibly taken from Matthew. By ‘taken’ I mean Mark was a scribe/recorder- he was the personality we see in the book of Acts- John Mark. If you remember- he had a falling out with the Apostle Paul and Mark ‘went home’ while Paul took Silas and they embarked on the great missionary journeys of the Apostle.
You don’t hear that much about Mark after the ‘falling out’ but we know that Mark would later pen the 2nd gospel and he was also a recorder [secretary] for the Apostle Peter [might be important to remember this- if I get to it?]
So anyway mark seems to have borrowed from Matthew [some scholars think the familiarity between the gospels should be attributed to another unknown common source- referred to as Q- I prefer to simply see it as the writers being familiar with what the other writers were writing- and in the 1st century you did not have Plagiarism as we do today- where it would be illegal to copy something verbatim from another writer- that’s why Mark- who also probably penned 2nd Peter- not as a Plagiarist who used Pseudepigraphy- writings by authors who pretended to be someone else- but as a scribe who was familiar with the other source documents of the time. 2nd Peter has come under scrutiny because chapter 2 seems to have borrowed heavily from the letter of Jude. At some spots it looks like a direct copy. But as Peter’s scribe- it would not have been out of the ordinary to have included- verbatim- a passage from Jude and to have attributed the entire letter to Peter. Or Peter might have simply been familiar with Jude's letter and it would not have been wrong according to 1st century writing standards to have done this. But skeptics in our day try to use this to say the bible is a forgery- so that’s why it’s important to be familiar with the debate and to have a good response.]
Okay-lets at least try and start a little end times stuff. Matthews 24 begins with Jesus and the disciples walking away from the Temple and Jesus says ‘see all these buildings- truly I tell you that there will not be left one stone on top of another’.
The disciples then ask Jesus ‘when will this happen- and what will be the sign of the end of the age/world, and the sign of your coming’. Now- this sets the stage for the entire scope of the answer. Jesus told them one thing ‘the temples coming down some day’ and they ask a few things.
Some scholars believe that the entire answer Jesus gives- about the end of the world and the coming tribulation- some teach that all these things did happen by A.D. 70- that’s when the Roman general Titus [future emperor] attacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Jesus prediction about ‘one stone not being left on another’ was fulfilled to the tee because the temple stones were overlaid with Gold and the looters burned the stones to melt the gold and in the process they literally laid every stone out.
In the Matthew discourse Jesus also warned the disciples that ‘when you see these things beginning to happen- let those in the city flee to the mountains’. As Titus made his way towards Jerusalem some early communities took his words literally and did use the mountains as a place for protection. The community at Qumran hid their writings in ‘the mountains’ that overlooked the Dead Sea- some 2 thousand years later these writings [scrolls] would be discovered- those are the Dead Sea Scrolls of today- one of the greatest archeological finds of history.
And there were Jewish believers at Jerusalem who did indeed flee to the mountains and they escaped the slaughter. So there certainly were things that Jesus spoke about in his 'end times’ teaching that were fulfilled in the 1st century.
But what about the other famous portions? As various media persons were quoting a few famous parts of this discourse [this is the 4th famous discourse known as the Olivet discourse in Matthew- 5 famous long sections of Jesus’ teaching] it would help us to know the entire context of the discourse [which includes chapter 25 by the way].
One of the famous verses is ‘when you see the fig tree putting forth leaves- you know that summer is near- so when you see these signs you know the end is near’. In American evangelicalism this verse has been made popular by men like Hal Lindsay who teach that the fig tree is ALWAYS a symbol for the nation of Israel and therefore Jesus was saying that when Israel becomes a nation again [which happened in 1948] that within ‘a generation’ the end will happen.
This view uses a few other verses to come to this conclusion. Jesus famous ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things happen’ and a few other scriptures. Simply reading the chapter in context does not seem to be saying this at all. The parallel passage in Luke says ‘and all the trees’. It seems like Jesus is simply saying ‘just like when you see a tree blossom- so when you see these signs know that the time is near’.
There really is nothing in the actual text to indicate that this is speaking about 1948. But because of these verses having been used like this many preachers have tried to date the coming of Christ within ‘the generation’ from1948. Lindsey put out a book saying that 1988 was a ‘special time’ why 88? 1988 was 40 years [biblical generation] from 1948. Then some changed the biblical generation to 70 years- which makes this decade real important.
The problem with all these dates is there based on a faulty premise- that Jesus was saying that within a generation of the ‘fig tree blooming’ the 2nd coming will take place- he never said that. As far as I can tell 1948 plays no significant role. Of course Israel becoming a nation again at that time was a great thing- but as a date to begin setting off some type of spiritual clock- that’s not in the bible.
Okay- maybe I’ll do a few more of these over the next few days. Try and read these chapters the next few days and get a feel for the overall meaning [the context] when we become familiar with the overall meaning of the passage- it keeps us from getting lost in the Fig Tree ones.
 THE RAPTURE?
I spoke with a friend yesterday about the Harold Camping prediction that obviously failed. They know someone who is really into Camping and that person was being set up for the disappointment. On CNN they had a Baptist preacher who warned against this type of date setting- yet he spoke confidently about ‘the Rapture is the next event on Gods calendar- followed by the 7 years of great tribulation’.
I’m sure this fine pastor felt like he was providing a balanced voice compared to Camping’s date setting- yet I felt his interpretation was almost as ‘bad’ as what Camping was doing. Why?
My first introduction to ‘the Rapture’ came as a new believer who started attending a fine Baptist church- they were an ‘Independent, Fundamentalist, Pre-millennial’ Baptist church – and yes- they managed to fit all this on the sign!
The standard teaching says that in the New Testament there are 2 separate events that make up the 2nd coming. The first event is called The Rapture- that Jesus secretly comes all the way back to the earth and stops short in the sky [his feet don’t touch the ground] he ‘catches away’ all true believers [normally the Catholics, Orthodox and other historic churches get ‘left behind’] and then begins a 7 year tribulation period.
After the tribulation you have the other part of the 2nd coming- called the Revelation of Jesus- some Christians say this happens after 3.5 years of tribulation- others after the 7 year period.
Some say Jesus comes back after a 1000 year literal reign on earth [post millennial] others say before [pre- millennial].
And then you have various ways they interpret the end time judgment- some say you have what’s called ‘the Bema seat’ a separate judgment for believers- and then the ‘Great White Throne judgment’ the general judgment of the wicked.
O.K. does the bible specifically teach that the Rapture event is a separate event from the 2nd coming? No- in my view the bible does not teach this. Now- I’m sure that most of my Protestant readers are surprised that I hold to this view, because in American Evangelicalism this view is almost like the Trinity- in some circles it divides the true believers from the heretics.
Classic Christianity does not hold this view- this idea became popularized the 1800’s under a man by the name of John Nelson Darby and the idea spread to America in the 1900’s- primarily thru the revivalist strain of Christianity- and the ‘bible school/conference’ movement.
The historic churches just stuck with the classic idea that there will be one second coming- and there will be a resurrection and final judgment. I pretty much fall into this category myself.
You would be surprised how much thought has gone into this idea- I mean you have entire schools of thought- who call the other side heretics- just because they believe a 3.5 year tribulation as opposed to a 7 year one.
The word rapture comes from the Greek phrase used in Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians- chapter 4. That’s the rapture chapter. The apostle says that Jesus will return and catch up [catch away] the believers into the air- they will forever be with God. This event is biblical- I believe it will someday take place. I simply believe this event to be the 2nd coming- not another event that you would define as the rapture.
I believe if you simply read the 2nd coming passages in the New Testament- that you would see this to be the most acceptable view. Jesus actually says ‘after these things [the great tribulation] then the sign of the coming of the Son of Man appears in heaven’ and he goes on to say ‘one will be taken- the other left’. It seems pretty clear to me that the event where ‘one is taken- another left’ takes place ‘after these things’ Jesus actually gives us the time table.
To be fair- the other side has many-many ways to ‘get around’ these verses- I just feel that after all is said and done- that the best way to view The Rapture is to see this event as the actual 2nd coming.
I have written a lot about this over the years [under the End Times section] and my purpose today is not to ‘prove’ whose view is right- I have found those tasks to be next to impossible. My point is if a believer [or group of them] chooses to break away from the historic church’s position on anything, then you need to think thru it very carefully. Most classic Christian churches have had very wise and knowledgeable men who thought long and hard before they articulated doctrine.
This is not to say that the majority view is always right- but it’s simply a safe guide to stick with the majority Christian view most of the time. I’m very aware of the minority report when it comes to the Rapture doctrine- I just feel like the portions of scripture that are used to ‘prove’ the doctrine are not strong enough to overthrow the classic belief.
The plain teaching of the New Testament is that there most definitely will be a Second Coming- and this event does not take place in 2 stages- the Rapture is the 2nd coming.
 HAROLD CAMPING
As you well know- today will be our last day together. Yes- at 6:oo tonight the world is supposed to end. I first stumbled across the article a few weeks ago. The famous preacher from the east- Harold Camping- has once again predicted the return of Christ [or the Rapture].
Camping has gone down this road before- and I have a friend who actually follows Camping and I have tried to be nice about it- but of course most Christians believe Camping is part of a long line of well meaning men- who can’t resist the temptation to date set.
Now- I of course do not fall for stuff like this- I am not that gullible for heaven’s sake, some kind of conspiracy nut. Plus- if the world ends today- then how will we ever catch Bin Laden [of course you heard- he’s still alive?] hiding in Pakistan- with the fake birth certificate duplicator machine- you know- the one he used to fake Obama’s long form!
So yes- we as believers do have a history of doing silly things at times- and for some reason these things take on a life of their own. Many years ago I had a friend [Emit- for those of you who have read my posts these past few weeks- you now know who he is] he was/is sort of a spiritual son- you know- one of the sons of the guys hooked on drugs who eventually became a member of our little church movement.
So one day Emit tells me about the movie Jesus of Nazareth. It came out years ago and they did a good job at depicting the life of Christ. He says ‘did you see the actor who played Jesus? Wow- he was mysterious/spooky’ he watched it with his family and they felt touched by the actor who played Christ.
So I of course opined ‘You know brother- after the movie was made- when you look at the credits at the end- no name shows up for the actor. Then when the other actors and the director questioned each other- no one knows who the actor is!’
Now- of course I was kidding- and I made sure I told Emit ‘brother- just kidding’. But you know how these urban myths go- once you start them- there hard to stop!
So a few years later [maybe 5?] I was talking to his mother in law [Yolanda- another church member who was a woman preacher who did preach and had influence with other Christians- she was Emit’s mother in law]. And somehow she says ‘hey brother John- did you know that no one knows who the actor was in that Jesus movie’. I asked her ‘Yolanda- who told you that?’ she says ‘Emit’.
Now- after all those years the story got out- I mean I wish the truth could spread like this. For all I know there might be an entire group of people in Texas- you know- the ‘anonymous Jesus movie actor believers’ who all believe this story. Heck I always wanted to head up a movement.
But things like this do have a tendency to get around. So anyway that’s how the ‘end of the world is today’ thing has caught on. Now- will the world end today? Doubt it. Will ‘the world’ make fun of us? Sure. Will Christians continue to do things like this? Probably. How can we avoid doing things like this?
The safe way to go- in my view- is to stay connected to the historic church as much as possible. The Christian church has a good- long tradition of Christian truth. For the most part- the stability you find in the Christian classics- the church fathers- Patristics- this tradition is a good one.
Harold Camping is a good man- but he is a retired civil engineer- I’m sure he means well- but try and get your info from men who have been educated- yes thru the more traditional forms of education. Yes- I know ‘who are you to talk- you’re a retired fire fighter!’ But I try to offset that with many years of study- not just bible study- but studying the things I just mentioned. Taking the attitude that I can learn from those who have been at this longer than me. Camping believes ‘all the churches’ are now in deception- yes- he has another weird teaching that says the ‘church age’ has ended and there are no longer any true churches in the world today.
I hope most of you will not fall for stuff like this- we have bigger fish to fry- heck- I need to go out today and start the ‘anonymous Jesus actor followers’ are you in?
 OPEN THE BOOK AND BREAK THE SEALS
We had a good fellowship the other day- I and 2 homeless bro’s got with 2 Kingsville originals and we all ate at the Sirloin Stockade. I want to try and meet once a week for lunch in Corpus- everybody is welcome by the way. I’ll try and mention it on the sites [Blog, Facebook] a day ahead of time, and you are all invited.
I will only cover the cost of the homeless guys though- everyone else it’s Dutch. Okay- this week I have been reading revelation chapter 5. We see this image of John the apostle standing in the throne room of God and God has this book in his hand. John is upset because no one is able to open the book and loose the seals. As John is upset, one of the elders comes up to him and tells him not to worry- Jesus- the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he has prevailed to open the book and to break the seals.
The vision is you have these elders and beasts and John and a multitude of angels and people from all nations- it’s a great gathering of saints of the most high- a true picture of the people of God.
I applied the vision to our little fellowship- made up of people from all over- different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. And John the apostle is struggling with this mandate to get the message out. Remember- the book of Revelation begins with Jesus telling John ‘write these letters to the 7 churches’ so John has this task to communicate this message from God. Yet he runs up against the classic roadblock ‘Who is worthy’ in so many words ‘why did you pick me for the job- I’m not able to do it’. You hear the words of Isaiah here- Isaiah said ‘I am a man of unclean lips- in the middle of a bunch of unclean people!’ Geez Isaiah- you’re not only too hard on yourself, but everyone else!
In the Isaiah vision God takes a coal and uses it to cleanse the lips of the prophet. So John is distraught over the fact that this book is sealed- and no matter how hard he tries- he cant open the thing. Jesus steps up to the plate and takes it and opens it. The whole community rejoices- they sing this song- a new song ‘Worthy is the lamb to open the book and to loose the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy Blood out of every kindred and tribe and tongue and nation- and hast made us priests and kings unto God our father’. Yes, I put this verse to memory this week and sang it all thru out the week.
Sure- my wife said ‘who are you talking to’. I just blew it off- I have been talking to myself for years. So I’m identifying somewhat with John- also struggling to ‘open the book and loose the seals’. These last few weeks I dropped our radio program and was in a mad rush to get the shows on line [there on now]. But I dropped on a Friday and wanted to have them up by that Sunday.
So as I’m praying/singing the ‘new song’- kind of an intercessory thing- believing God to help us get the word out. Sure enough I sing the thing and the bell rings. That was my buddy Emit [last post] and from that surprise visit a few doors opened to get together more often with the brothers.
Of course I’m just applying these things- obviously revelation is not about eating at the big cow! But God does use stuff like this to speak to us- the principle of Jesus alone being the one who is worthy to ‘open the book’ well that’s a truism that will always be there.
Down the road I hope to teach a little more on the book of Revelation. It’s really not as hard as it might look. Basically you have the command of Jesus to John to write the 7 letters. John sees Jesus as the one who will assist him in getting the message out. The book had 7 seals. The opening of the last seal releases 7 trumpets. And the last trumpet leads to 7 bowls [vials]. Then you have the last few chapters that speak about the wrapping up of the kingdom and the resurrection and the final judgment. You end with a new heaven and a new earth and whoever wants ‘let him come and drink of the water of life’. That’s really it- sure you do have a lot of numbers and images and stuff- but overall this is the basic outline of the book.
In the book of Daniel he sees a lot of the same things that John sees in the book of Revelation- but Daniel is told to seal up the vision- for the time was not ready. John is told to ‘un seal’ it- the time is at hand. For many of the new friends that came in this last year- the time was ready for you guys to ‘read the book’ so to speak. Just remember the key- only Jesus has the ability to show you what’s in the book- to make it clear. Read and pray and ask God to help you understand- he alone can do it.
 WILL RUSSIA INVADE ISRAEL?-
I remember one of the first sermons I preached as a young kid who recently started reading the bible and learning all there was to learn. The message was on the ‘Future invasion of Israel by Russia’. I had heard some radio preacher offer a book on the subject and I ordered/read the book and I became familiar with the words ‘GOG- MAGOG’ that were recorded in the old testament book of Ezekiel.
The reference is to a region- north of Israel- where a future invasion will come down and wipe out [attempt] Israel. So as a sincere kid preacher [maybe 20 years old?] I preached with all the gusto I had- I referenced all the passages- till this day I’ll never forget that was the 1st time I looked on a world map and noticed that Moscow was indeed directly north of the land of Israel.
I covered all the passages well for a new kid on the block- my Pastor [a great and good man by the way] complemented me on the study that went into the message and for the most part I covered the classic view of dispensational theology that predicts a future natural kingdom on earth- run out of Jerusalem- where Jesus will literally sit on a throne and head up natural Israel [just a note- I too believe in the literal return of Christ- the 2nd coming].
These last few months we have seen some shakeup in the world of Liberal versus Conservative cable wars. First we saw the sudden departure of Keith Olberman [my favorite Liberal] and then- like a major earthquake- Beck announced he will be leaving Fox news at the end of the year. I was surprised to see Beck go.
On one of the last shows he did, before he had a fill in take over this last week [or maybe more?] Beck was doing one of his blackboard scenarios and he managed to get to the verse about Gog and Magog [my famous sermon!]. He hit it fast- mentioned the reference found in the book of Revelation [my reference was the one in Ezekiel] and he of course said how Russia was more than likely presently aligning itself for this future biblical event.
Since the early days of my becoming a reader of the bible- I have grown in my understanding of these various portions of the bible. While there are still many sincere bible Christians who read these passages as a future event- most scholars see them thru an historical framework. For instance in the Old Testament it is true that on more than one occasion the nation of Israel was attacked by invaders from the north- and these were seen as judgments from God on a rebellious nation. The language of ‘invaders from the north’ came to be understood as a reference to Gods judgment. Like today when you see ‘the south’ [confederate] versus the ‘north’- when dealing with the American civil war- you see it means more than just those who now live in the North or South- it’s talking about ideology- the politics of a situation- not just a geographical region.
So you could very well read these passages in this way- that is the invasion Ezekiel spoke about can refer to one of the many that did occur during Israel’s past history- and today it speaks more about Gods judgment on nations/people who disobey- and less about a geopolitical struggle that is still to play itself out on the map- got it?
When covering these issues it is important to realize that when we read the bible we need to read it in context- it’s not totally loony to take these verses the way Beck does- many bible believers do- but I think the approach I just gave you is more than likely the best approach [though it’s not the most popular as measured by the end times books that are best sellers in the present day].
Everybody has a point of view- it’s important to try our best to frame these passages of scripture in keeping with the broader themes of mercy and Gods love for mankind- as seen in scripture- while doing our best to interpret the broader meaning of these passages. We live in a day where many ancient cultures are in turmoil- some of the names of these nation states are mentioned in the bible [Syria, Egypt, Israel, etc.] this makes it all the more important that we try our best NOT to simply associate all the present people groups who live in these nations with the actual militaristic prophecies about them in scripture- often times the biblical references are speaking about historical events that already took place on the battlefields of the past- and they are not necessarily speaking about these people groups who live in the land today. The gospel of Jesus rises above the ethnic/geographical divisions of the past- all people are made one in Christ.
The previous chapter in Ezekiel [37- GOG is in 38] gives a wonderful picture of Ezekiel holding a stick in his hand- God tells him to write the names of Israel and Judah on the stick [these were the divided tribes of Israel at the time] and God says they will become one in the prophets hand- God will gather them together and set his tabernacle in their midst and they will be reconciled before God as one ‘new man’. This is the language used by the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians- Paul says in Christ the ethnic/national divisions are broken down and we become one new man in Christ.
In truth these verses are really speaking about the ultimate purpose of God in reconciling all humanity thru the Cross- thru Jesus Christ- it’s sad that many have used them [including myself] to cause division.
 CULTS- I was thinking of covering the 4th Pillar of Islam today [our current study on Islam] but as I was walking into my office I noticed a pamphlet from the local Jehovah’s Witness group- it was an invite to their meeting. My kids must have found it on the door.
Over the years I have had great talks with the Witnesses as well as the Mormons. I’m always upfront from the start- I tell them I do teach the bible and church/religious history and as our talks begin I cover the basic historical background of their groups. I tell them why historic Christianity often defines them as a Cult- I try and be open and nice- yet I tell them the reasons behind this label.
Most times they are open and willing to talk- I hear them and they hear me. I have had numerous occasions where the younger Mormon kids would come back and really get into the stuff I was teaching- one kid said ‘wow- you know all the stuff we know’ I quoted a few key verses and he really was learning. I had a husband and wife Jehovah Witness team come over- as I was doing the basic study [me teaching them some stuff] the husband had one of those ‘aha’ moments. I was teaching/explaining something from the book of Acts and he said ‘your right- God showed me that too!’ he was really excited.
I say all this to say we often view people as ‘the enemy’ I think some of the reason for them being open to what I have to say is the fact that most of the homes they knock on often view them in a real negative light. Almost as if they were enemies. Now- I am very aware of the doctrinal differences between these groups and historic Christianity- and there are real reasons for the cult label- but I try to see them thru the lens of honest people- who for whatever reason [often raised in the group] they are trying to serve God to the best of their ability. If you view them thru this more merciful angle- as opposed to evil cult members- then you can have an open door that goes both ways.
One of the sad things about current Christianity is the tendency- in many groups- to focus on the things that we disagree on. There are many good Christian churches who view the church down the block as a cult- often times these churches actually believe the same thing on 99 % of their doctrine- yet they have a disagreement on water baptism- or an end time doctrine- or the gifts of the Spirit- and these differences are deemed worthy of the cult label. It’s really a sad thing.
I caught the show Journey Home the other night- it’s the Catholic show hosted by Marcus Grodi- he does interesting interviews with ex protestants who have ‘returned home’ to the Catholic church. The guy he had on was a former Fundamental Baptist minister who is now Catholic. For those of you who are not familiar with Christian fundamentalism- this is no minor change. Most Fundamentalist Baptists hold to a very anti Catholic stand. Anyway it was interesting to hear his journey- how he came to learn church history and he was open to the story of Christianity down thru the ages. I felt he was a little too defensive of his Catholic faith- he quoted a bunch of verses from the book of Acts to kinda say ‘see- they were Catholics’ in the fully orbed sense of the word [Bishops, 7 sacraments, etc.] I did like the brother- it was just you could sense the old protestant reasoning in using proof texts to carry your argument thru to a quick, pat conclusion. Often times this way of proving ‘who’s right’ overlooks the importance of learning over a period of time- thru becoming familiar with lots of sources and at the end of the day you see that no ‘one church’ can really lay claim to their church being fully found in the bible.
What I mean by this is the bible gives us the story of the beginnings of Christianity and we really see the church in her infancy while reading the bible- we don’t yet see any particular Christian church fully formed in the scripture. Though many churches have their arguments- they will quote verses all day on why they are the ‘true church’ or ‘best one’ yet I like the more moderate approach- True Christians are found in all denominations and the ‘true church’ consists of all those in the various groups who truly embrace Christ.
So for today- be patient with the door knockers- maybe you are a door knocker? If so, let’s all sit at the table- listen to each other and try to view people thru the lens of mercy. If my first thought of you is ‘radical Muslim’ or ‘evil cult’ then it will be next to impossible for me to relate to you in an open and honest way. I am not advocating the view that ‘all religions lead to God’ I’m simply asking that we be more patient with people- try and understand where they are coming from- I really have had some very open talks with lots of these groups- very upfront with them- I say ‘this is why historic Christianity views you as a cult’ yes I say that- but I say it in a way- during an ongoing conversation- that allows them time to respond and share their view- and I too respond and have an open conversation. I have found this to be the best way to relate to various religious groups- hope you do to.
 CATHOLIC VERSUS MORMON AND OTHER STUFF. Okay- as an avid news watcher, these last few weeks we have seen a sort of shift in the Liberal versus Conservative media. Lawrence O’Donnell [MSNBC] has decided to deride Beck [FOX] on the air. Now- O’Donnell is smart- he does realize that the ratings for MSNBC are truly dismal- so he’s trying to get Beck to engage so he can get some free advertising. Of course the classic way of getting better ratings has been abandoned by MSNBC years ago [you know- the old ‘unbiased reporting of news’ scheme]. So anyway Beck has gone for the bait a few times and O’Donnell keeps casting out the line. First- O’Donnell is Catholic and Beck is Mormon- and Lawrence is using this as a hook. He is also taking it upon himself to ‘instruct’ his audience in Catholic doctrine. Now- I like these guys [well not really] but as an outside observer let me try and help some of the viewers a bit. Lawrence- as a ‘good’ [let's say well meaning] Catholic does not speak for his church- that is as a Protestant believer- I have studied lots of Catholic history and Doctrine- and I consider the Catholic Church part of the broader Body of Christ- and the facts are- Lawrence does not know ‘the facts’. He challenged Beck on some recent end times musings- he says the majority of Catholics have modernized and don’t believe the ‘old stuff’ anymore; burning witches, putting kids to death for cursing their parents, anti homosexual relationships- Lawrence says the church has advanced and Catholics really don’t believe the old stuff anymore. Now- Doctrinally the church has rejected many of these Old Testament commandments [burning witches] just like most Protestant denominations. Yet the church does not ‘not believe’ the book of Revelation anymore, which is what he lumped it all in with. The official teaching of the church- dating back to the 16th century Council of Trent [you know- little details that I like to refer to as facts] is that the bible is- quote ‘the words that the Holy Spirit dictated’. Now- the language used at Trent was so strong- that the church actually holds to a less literal belief than what the words imply. Most believers do not believe in the idea of a mechanical inspiration of the bible- that is that God actually spoke all the words of the bible to the authors [with the exception of portions of scripture that do record God speaking- 10 commandments, etc.] So, the official teaching of the Church- set down at Trent- is the bible is the ‘word of God’. Yes indeed, the Catholic Church still believes in the book of Revelation. Now- Lawrence says ‘well- not literally’ and he quoted a verse or 2 about Dragons pouring out water from their mouth and the woman fleeing and… well- I’m familiar with the verse- and it is symbolic. I don’t know of anyone- including Beck- that takes this verse ‘literally’. Now- Does Lawrence even know what ‘literal’ means? When Christians use the term ‘taking the bible literally’ this term does not mean that all the verses in the bible are actually literal. For instance the book of Psalms says ‘the hills skipped and danced for joy’ the verse from Revelation that I just mentioned is prophetic language. You have figures of speech also used- the apostle John says ‘there are many other works that Jesus did that are not recorded in this book [John’s gospel] and I suppose if all the works were written down that all the world could not contain the books that would be written’ now- should we read this language ‘literally’ or was John using a common figure of speech to make a point? When the bible uses poetry, prophecy, symbol, etc.. when these passages are read- taking them literally means reading them in context. So when you read about dragons- or hills jumping for joy, or other portions like that- well they are meant to be read in their context. The Catholic Church does indeed still believe in the book of Revelation- literally. I think Lawrence has actually made some good points- I am not a defender of Beck- nor do I hold to the end time views of Beck. My ‘end times’ theology is basically Catholic. I would recommend Scott Hahn’s book ‘The Lambs Supper’ which is an excellent Catholic teaching on the book of Revelation- Hahn is an A-1 Catholic scholar- he teaches Catholic doctrine- real Catholic doctrine. And Hahn does an excellent job at showing us how the book of Revelation is centered around Christ and the reality of the church and the kingdom of God. I am not totally throwing O’Donnell under the bus- I think he has said some good stuff about this not being ‘the end of the world’ and other things- but it’s not good to have a Catholic news man say ‘this is what Catholics believe’ when he obviously does not know what Catholics believe. Yes, Beck does need to be reigned in a bit- but don’t do it at the expense of confusing people about the church. A persons personal view is fine- but don’t tell people what the church does or does not believe- especially if you’re not familiar with the material- o well- I forgot- being misinformed about the facts has never really mattered that much at MSNBC- I’m sorry.
Just a note- The Catholic Church has ‘modernized’ since the famous Council at Trent- Vatican Council 2 [1962-65] did indeed try and bring the church more into modern times. And there have been statements made that say the reading/teaching of the bible should not be taken in a way that rejects the modern advances of science. But the official belief of the bible being the Word of God is still official Catholic doctrine. Many Protestants confuse the Catholic belief by thinking the church accepts Tradition over the bible- this is actually not so. The official belief of the Catholic Church is that the voice/teaching of God comes to us thru both Tradition and the Bible- they do not say Tradition is over the Bible. There are lots of common misconceptions that Protestants and Catholics have made about each other over the years- I don’t think it will do either side any service for MSNBC and FOX to get into this type of debate on the air. It takes more time than a few sound bites to teach it right- it would be better to just leave it be.
 TO BE HONEST- IT IS STRANGE TO BE HERE AGAIN- A few weeks ago I wrote a few posts on the ‘end of the world’ and the strange events of fish deaths and bird kills and things that seemed to be signs of the end of the world. Of course since that time many events have really unraveled and some of them are really big! So let’s talk a little. In Revelation chapter 8 we read about the plagues that will come upon the earth when God’s judgment is being released. I also spoke about Jesus words in Matthews’s gospel the other day. Do all these passages primarily speak of a future judgment? Not necessarily- though you can most certainly apply it that way. There are various views of interpretation that bible students use when reading these types of passages [types= apocalyptic- a certain genre of writing]. Some view the events through an historical view- others are what you would call Futurist- and some are a mix between the 2 [basically my own view]. I do think more people need to become familiar with the historical view a bit more. For instance many bible/history students have shown how many of the signs that Jesus gave about the ‘end of the world/age’ were fulfilled at the time of the destruction of the Temple in a.d. 70. It’s a bit much to cover it all here- but there are actual historical reports of people having seen visions of chariots of fire in the sky at the time of the incident- things that most certainly could fit into the signs in the sky imagery used in this type of writing. Okay- in Revelation chapter 8 John writes about the vision of these 7 angels blowing 7 trumpets- these trumpets are 7 judgments from God. The first 4 are spoken about in chapter 8. They begin with natural disasters- fish dying and stuff like that. Have we seen these things recently? Yes- as matter of fact right before the earthquake there was another story of a bunch of fish dying off the west coast- I remember it because they looked like a sea of dead anchovies- once again there was really no explanation. So in this chapter we see this sign as a judgment from God. When you get to the 3rd angel blowing his trumpet- there is a star that falls from heaven and it lands in the sea and causes the waters to become bitter [poisonous]. You also see an angel take a censor filled with incense and he casts it violently into the earth. The censor represents the prayers of Gods people- those who have been crying out for justice for centuries- and when the censor hits the ground there are flashes of lightning and thunder and yes- an earthquake. So all these images do speak about Gods judgment being manifest in the earth. One of the reports I heard about the Japanese earthquake was that the sea floor was examined and found to have a 150 mile long crack- 50 miles wide. That’s no minor event my friends. The earth has actually shifted off its axis and Japan has moved over around 8 feet [of course Japan is group of Islands]. The bible speaks about the ground/earth in a way that we are not familiar with in the 21st century. It speaks about the ground as being given to man by God- man is a caretaker of the things that transpire on the earth. When Cain killed his brother Abel [Genesis 4] the bible says the blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground- the book of Revelation speaks about all the blood of the martyrs [and innocents- like abortion] crying out to God for vengeance. In a strange way God hears the 'testimony’ of the innocent victims- it cries out to him from the ground. The new testament says the Blood of Jesus also ‘speaks’ [Hebrews] it says his Blood does not cry out for vengeance [like Abel’s] but it ‘speaks better things that that of Abel's’ blood. The Blood of Christ- shed on the Cross- says ‘God forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing’. Jesus’ blood offers forgiveness to mankind. As we see the shaking in the earth today- the huge crack in the foundation- it is a sign of pent up injustices- innocent victims who have been killed and brutalized for many years- Despots who have gotten away with murder- literally. Christians/innocents who have cried out to God for centuries. We are truly living in a unique time- many events converging at one time- let the Blood of Christ speak for you- the Blood that says ‘I forgive you’ if not- we will all be left standing with only the blood of innocents crying out for vengeance from the ground- the ground that has a fifty mile crack in it.
 EARTHQUAKE- Of course you know by now that right off the coast of Japan there was a major earthquake- 8.9 on the Richter scale. The worst recorded one to ever hit Japan. The 5th largest on record [in at least the last 100 years] and the damage is great. As I watched the coverage- saw all the pictures of the devastation- my daughter just walked in the door. I told how big this event is- a major event- she saw the pictures and I did say we don’t know how bad all the damage is yet- and that the West coast is being hit by the wave right now. I guess she thought it was worse than I knew it to be, she said ‘well dad, is there anything we can do to survive it’? She is 19, and she was not kidding. I of course told her that the wave she was seeing was not going to hit us- but still she had some doubts. I guess it didn’t help when I got up to walk away- ‘where you going dad’ I’ll be sitting in the Kayak in the garage. Okay- how should we respond? Do these events mean anything? You bet they do. First- I’m not a ‘birther’ when it comes to end times stuff- I do not teach or believe many of the Armageddon scenarios that you see in the books and movies of prophecy preachers- yet I do very much believe the bible. What did Jesus say about this stuff? In Matthew 24 Jesus says there will be signs of the end of the ‘world’ [Greek word means age- a set period of time]. The signs would include wars and lawlessness. You would have people’s hearts failing them for fear- seeing all these things. And yes- there would be an increase in earthquakes and natural disasters. I have been saying for the last few months that I believe most people do not really see the seriousness of many present world situations- the unrest on the North African continent- the very serious debt problem that plagued Europe [and still does] and the fact that other countries and even companies that rate debt risk [like Moody’s] have played with the idea that the U.S. govt. might lose its credit rating. Our debt- nearing 15 trillion- is a major risk for our economy- and if other countries begin to see us as a serious debt risk- we will indeed be in lots of trouble. Why is our govt. doing these 2 week extensions on our budget? Near the end of last year the President should have done a budget- at the time the Democrats held the House, Senate and executive branch [Like Chuck Schumer likes to say ‘all 3 branches of govt.’! Inside joke- on a Sunday talk show he did refer to these as the 3 branches of govt. obviously the 3 branches are Executive, Judicial and Legislative- not Executive, House and Senate]. The Dem’s did not do a budget. Why? It was the 1st time in years that one party controlled the Presidency, House and Senate- why not just do one? Every news person knew why- they did not want to have to face the voting public with just presenting a budget with/without cuts- they simply did not do their job- to be honest. Now, they just came off a tough health care vote- the House was also forced to vote on a disastrous ‘Energy’ bill- which thank God did not pass- especially with our present gas prices- and they felt like [They=Dem’s] they already took too many tough votes for Obama- and they did not want to do any more. So what happened? Well the Repub’s took control of the House [with a bunch of freshman Tea Partier’s] and the Dems held the Senate. Okay- will you pass one now? Actually- the best way to describe what happened is the line that Keith Olberman began running with before he quit his job at MSNBC- he immediately began saying ‘Okay Boehner- you guys are now in charge- where are the jobs’ yes- night after night this was the new message. One question- the Dem’s still held the Senate and the Executive branch- are you kidding me! But that is exactly the strategy that the President has run with- he indeed has chosen- along with the Dem’s in the Senate- to leave the cuts up to the Repub’s. They were obviously told by the insiders ‘look- we know we really need to address the debt problem- but lets ignore the thing- give no serious cut proposals- and the new Tea Party nut jobs will force the more moderate Repub’s to bite the bullet for us- and we will eventually vote for it- like our hands were tied behind our backs- and they will get the blame’. Now- will this strategy work? Probably to a degree- but the fact is it really is a total failure on the part of the president and the Dem’s- they should have passed a budget last year. Now we are in the new year- and some are saying ‘well Repub’s- the ball is in your court’. They are still the majority for heaven’s sake- present something with at least 30 billion dollars of cuts [which would be half of what the Repub’s are offering in cuts] and be serious about it. Even Joe Manchin- the new Dem. Senator has said this is exactly what the president is doing- he purposely is not presenting a real proposal [ any proposal!] and at the same time is taking the attitude of Olberman ‘you guys are in charge-you do it’. This is bad- very bad. So anyway I see all the events taking place in the world- the continued unrest with the protests [called lawlessness by Jesus in the above chapter] the earthquakes and wars and economic unrest- and in the midst of it all Jesus also said ‘when you see all this taking place- all these signs- don’t get too worried- for all these things must come to pass’. As believers we go thru stuff- the world shakes and ‘tribulates’ the Tea Bags are selling like Hot Cakes- yet we trust in God. We pray for the Japanese [it really is such a tragedy- of course their country has already experienced the worst radiation fallout in world history- thanks to the good old U.S. of A. and they are in danger of another one with their Nuclear Reactors cooling problems] and we know that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken- we are part of the great Kingdom of God- one that will endure for eternity [even if you get tempted every now and then to go sit in the Kayak in the garage].
 I DID WHAT YOU ASKED- Today we close our brief study from Exodus ‘Insights from a Revolution’. In chapter 40 Moses finally completes the vision God gave him [vision- purpose] for the Tabernacle- he completes it 9 months after they arrived at Sinai [it took some time to establish order!] Just a short re-cap; when God delivered his people out of Egypt- he gave them this tent system where you had the Tabernacle [small building] you had this fence around it- you had the ‘outer courts’ and the area inside the courts. You had the Ark of the Testimony, the box that held the 10 commandments- a sample portion of Manna [the bread God gave them every morning for 40 years] and Aaron’s rod/stick that ‘budded’- a story we didn’t cover, it was a sign God gave the people that he was choosing the Aronic priesthood to be the priests. They took sticks from different tribes and the stick that would miraculously bud was the tribe that God chose. So you had this whole system set up as an example from God that would eventually be fulfilled thru Christ. This tent system became the Temple of Jewish history- and in Jesus day they had this system expanded on a huge scale at the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s sometimes referred to as the 2nd Temple- the one that was rebuilt after the children of Israel returned from captivity [a few hundred years B.C.] but it was rebuilt again- a 3rd time- under Herod, the Roman ruler who ruled right before Jesus was born [you also had another Herod- the title was passed on- during Jesus day]. This Temple was eventually destroyed under the Roman general- Titus- in a.d. 70. There has not been a Jewish temple since- the actual spot where the temple was- that spot is the same spot of this huge Muslim Mosque in the city of Jerusalem today. If you ever see an air view of Jerusalem you will see this huge mosque in the center of the city- that’s the same spot where the last Temple sat. So today there are lots of end times teachers with all types of views about the rebuilding of a 3rd [or 4th] Temple- scenarios of a re instituting of the sacrificial system- a view of a person called the anti Christ who will establish a covenant with Israel and 3.5 years into the 7 year peace treaty he breaks the treaty. All these scenarios are simply speculation- they do come from a sort of montage of verses scattered thru out the bible [Daniel, Matthew, Thessalonians, Revelation, etc.] but they are only one point of view- most bible scholars do not hold to this view- often referred to as dispensationalism- too long to get into it now. The main point I want to make is God used this whole system to show mankind that the only way he could dwell with man- was thru some sort of system that showed the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God- and that man can only approach God thru a sacrifice- the animals and blood were only a symbol of the future day when Jesus would come and die for the sins of the whole world [Hebrews- the book in the New Testament says this]. This whole story points to Jesus and Gods desire to redeem all mankind- regardless of ethnic/social status- to save men and rescue them thru the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus truly is the sacrifice that saves man- he died for our sins. God gave Moses and the people this system of govt. that would follow them thru the rest of their history. Moses finished the work God gave him to do- and today this prophetic picture lives on in both the bible and on the Hollywood screen- most of us have seen some portrayal of it on the big screen [like Charlton Hesston in the classic movie- the 10 commandments]. Some of you might have learned a new thing as we did this brief study- maybe the purpose of the lid on the box, the Mercy Seat. Maybe some other thing stuck in your mind- that’s good- we want everybody to get an interest in this stuff- most people think the bible is a book that is boring- hard to understand. Yet it’s meant to capture your mind thru stuff like this- to see that the bible stories are actual historical events- events that still have meaning for our day- and they all point to God’s mercy and love for all mankind- not a story where God is some Western deity who takes sides in military ventures- that’s not the message of the gospel. God has made a way for all people to get in on this- he’s not advocating a certain type of religion- he’s saying he has already given his Son to die for the whole world- Jesus said on the Cross ‘It is finished’ the book of Hebrews says Moses was faithful to finish building the earthly house [tabernacle] that God told him to build- he finished the job. Hebrews also says Jesus was faithful in his house- in completing the mission and in completing it he too is building a house- the house of God- the church. This ‘building’ is open to everyone 24 hours a day- a spiritual temple made without human hands. John the apostle said ‘whoever hears this- let him come and take of the water of life freely’ [Revelation] Have you heard?
 EXODUS 33- The Lord tells his people that they must get up from the place they are at- Mount Sinai- and move on to the new place he has promised to them- Canaan [the Promised Land]. Okay- symbolically what does this mean? Sinai represents law, promised land= the Cross, the ‘new land’ of grace and freedom found in Christ. In the New testament- this is the way all the apostles dealt with these promises [Hebrews, Galatians, Peter’s sermons in Acts]. It is vital for Christians [especially T.V. preachers!] to get this right. The message to the Muslim/Arab world is not ‘God is taking sides in a land war in Israel/Palestine’ but the message is ‘in Jesus, all nations/ethnic groups are welcome- leave Sinai [the old law mentality of seeing God thru the lens of a strict judge who wants to get you] and come to the ‘new land’ this land of grace where Jesus took upon him the sins of the whole world and bore the punishment for us’ this is really the message of Christianity- many people see Christianity/Christendom thru a 2 thousand year history [okay to do- I too am a historian] but they look at the mistakes- the Crusades- the Christian hatred of Jews that existed- the Muslim/Christian battles- many people do not really see the true message of the Cross- the new land of grace and acceptance thru Jesus- they are stuck at Sinai [a mountain that we already saw was fearful, people trembled- were scared- strict judgment] and can’t seem to get to the next mountain.
Also the Lord tells the people ‘take off your costume jewelry’ they wore the celebratory stuff- sort of like Mardi Gra stuff- when they sinned while worshipping their idols. God says ‘it’s not a performance- your service to me, your worship- take the fake stuff off’. In Matthews gospel- chapters 6-7, Jesus says ‘this thing is not theatre- how to perform and gain an audience’ I mean you can’t get stronger than that. Jesus also says ‘prayer is not mastering some type of formula to get what you want- create lots of wealth’ I mean he really takes to task the majority of American Christianity- a huge percentage of it is really performance- seeing ‘church’ as a place where we go once a week and actually watch a stage/theatre performance- ouch! God told the people ‘get rid of the costume jewelry- I have more important stuff for you’. Right now there is a lot of stuff happening in the world- the voice of the church needs to be a voice for justice in the earth. I watched an interview on Fox news this weekend- the host described our wars as just- and the Muslim/Arab side as terrorism. I had just read a news article describing the accidental killings of the 9 Afghan boys who were gathering fire wood while our attack helicopters killed them. The boys were between 5 and 11 years old. One boy- the only survivor, named Hamed- said as they were in the field they heard the chopper coming. Of course it’s a scary sight for little boys. Then as the chopper left- it came back again- like stalking them. They stood still- until the first boy was mowed down. They ran in all different directions- the chopper methodically hunted the boys down- one by one. This boy survived because a tree fell on him and hid him. I know our side thought the boys were enemy combatants- I know we did not intend for this to happen. But to excuse our actions- to say ‘we are just’ and the other side- some who are simply fighting for the Taliban because they need the job- to say they are immoral- and we are moral- seems like a joke after hearing about the deaths of these boys. May God have mercy on all of us.
 EXODUS 20- God gives the people his law- the famous ’10 commandments’. In Greek it is Decalogue [meaning 10 words] and these laws are actually in the form of an ancient treaty type document- in essence God was not just saying ‘do this- don’t do that’ but he was telling them if they wanted to survive as a people, a society- then they needed law, just principles from which to govern themselves by- and also to hold each other accountable to their government and God.
As I continue to write and post about current world affairs- I also do lots of actual scholarly studying- I try and ‘mix’ world events in with historical perspective and keep my thinking in line with others who have gone on before us- stable thinkers, people who represent a broad range of thought. It’s too easy [and dangerous!] to view all things from a limited perspective- and then to see your view confirmed by your limited reading of the events. I saw a minister on one of the history channel shows speaking about his view of the ‘end of the world’. It was obvious that the program was allowing him to share his view- not because they thought it to be accurate- but because they wanted to show how people can see their beliefs confirmed by world events- if that’s what they want to see. Now- let me give you an example; during WW2 the church in Germany was divided- some wanted to work in accord with the state [Hitler] and others said they wanted no type of ungodly alliances with the state. Men like Dietrich Bonheoffer would reject Hitler’s ideals and be part of ‘the confessing church’ [those evangelicals who would not work with Hitler]. Another very famous theologian [scholar] would sign his name to an important document that stated the same idea of not condoning Hitler’s regime- his name was Karl Barth [considered by many to be the most influential theologian of the 20th century] the document was called The Barmen Declaration. In these cases the church felt she needed to speak out about world events- to side with those who were being oppressed- and to condemn those who were oppressing.
As I write this morning- we come off a day where our forces accidentally killed 9 Afghan boys who were out collecting wood for fire. Gen. Petraeus publicly apologized. Hamid Karzai is livid [rightfully so] and we are rapidly losing the support of the people [and I don’t blame them]. Yemen's president gave a very revealing speech- he told his country that he was going to ‘reveal a secret’. He said there is a secret operations room in Tel Aviv [Israel] and the purpose for it is to conspire against the Arab world and that the U.S. and Israel regularly meet to plan the overthrow of the Arab world. He obviously feels the heat [like all these other nations- he has protestors in the streets] but the fact that these leaders are actually speaking like this openly- our ties to these Arab nations are over. At the airport in Germany- a Muslim employee opened fire on 4 people- killing 2 American soldiers. Reports are he shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ [God is great] while firing his weapon.
In the media there are 2 narratives you can see; some ‘news organizations’ have made the top stories about Rumsfeld and any past mistakes/possible crimes committed under the Bush administration. Now- I guess there is a proper time for this- but not during the same day when the current administration and U.S. forces are involved in so many real-time scenarios, actual things that can change our world for years to come. Other news channels focus on the worst case scenarios- seeming to leave no room for any hope at all. I think both of these extremes are dangerous for our country- and we need to be realistic about the very real dangers- including our countries financial problems [there is talk in the world about dropping the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency- and some analysts believe that China and others will stop buying our debt- financing us] These are very real dangers that we face as a country.
So what should the church do? First- I believe the ongoing killing of civilians [even by mistake!] is something that has to stop. Many Americans see the shooting of our soldiers at the German base as ‘terrorism’ and view the accidental killing of the 9 boys as ‘collateral damage’. We must understand- that the mothers of these boys don’t see it like that- and the rest of the Arab world as well. When God gave the people the ‘10 laws’ he was telling them there are some very fundamental rules that all nations will need to abide by if they want to survive. Most of us are familiar with them- and most of us know what the big one is ‘thou shalt not kill’- I think too many of us have stepped over this line one too many times.
 YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? YOU GOT IT. Okay- history was made yesterday- on the exact anniversary of the Iranian revolution [that didn’t work out so well]. First- I’m glad the people in the square prevailed- I’m on their side and stand in solidarity with them. There are already a few other Facebook pages popping up- DAYS OF RAGE for other countries who are seeking to capitalize on the mood of revolution in the air- it looks like we might really be living in historic times. These events could very well be the defining moment of this century- that which historians will look back on and see as momentous- a defining time. Are there dangers? Yes. There are always dangers when Revolution happens- honest [and dishonest] people on both sides- we [the U.S.] are children of Revolution- if any nation should support these revolts- it should be us! We had dissenters during our season of revolt- some preachers/Christians sided with England- they felt like it was disobeying the bible to ‘Revolt’- there are bible verses that say ‘obey your earthly rulers- listen to the kings and governors- don’t rebel’. Now- that sure does sound problematic if you’re a believer on the revolting side. The apostle Paul wrote this, not under Western Style Democracy- but under Imperial Roman Rule! [ in his letter to the church at ROME!] So how do we join the spirit of freedom and popular revolution with this? Jesus obviously rejected violent revolt [those who live by the sword will die by it] yet he was not against challenging the authorities of the day- non violently standing up to corrupt leaders- and yes- instituting a new revolutionary kingdom- one that would overthrow the ‘kingdoms of this world’ [ The Kingdom of God]. I mean you can’t escape the imagery of revolt and kingdom and righteous dominion [rule] this is the heart and soul of the Kingdom of God. Problem? Well yes- at times [like in our day] many Christians misunderstand the purpose of the Kingdom of God- they [in my view] place too much emphasis on the geographical area of the Holy Land- they develop scenarios that pit Arab/Muslim nations against Israel- and they read the very real Old Testament prophecies thru a lens that says ‘this is God’s word- this ethnic group [Jewish] should posses this area- and this other ethnic group [Palestinian] should get out’. I think when we see the purpose of God and his kingdom thru this lens- we err. But the reality is the bible and the message of Jesus are one of true revolution- peaceful- but revolution nonetheless. The verses Paul wrote are indeed scripture- and they were real practical advice given to the fledgling church in the 1st century- Paul did not want the nascent church to get a reputation of being political rabble rousers- you had what were called Zealots at the time- Jewish political activists who advocated violent overthrow of Roman rule from the Jewish land- and Paul [and Jesus] rejected this idea. So I think if we read the basic instructions from Paul and see the context of the time- that yes- a political revolt was not what the early church needed. But what we are seeing in our day is a possible major realignment of the nations in the Arab [and Persian] world. We are seeing people who have been oppressed by religious theocracies- these people have every right to rebel- to non violently go to the streets and stand in protest to the dictators who have ruthlessly oppressed them for years- these rebels are not criminals- they are non violent protestors who are speaking truth to power- much like what Jesus did. Now- where next? I think we need to do Iran again- I think the president [Obama] thinks this too. Yesterday as he gave a speech after the historic events in Egypt- he spoke to the leadership of Iran and told them ‘let your people also freely protest in your streets’. Now- that message is saying ‘you guys are also gonna fall’- do you really think the Iranian madman thinks ‘well- maybe if we let the people protest- that’s all the president meant’ c’mon- if we thru Mubarak ‘under the bus’ [I’m glad he’s under the bus] there isn’t a snowballs chance in Hades that The mad man from Iran will get a free pass. So yes- lets support all the days of rage that are popping up- lets be on the side of freedom from tyrants and U.S. puppets- the Arab street is smart- they know much more than we give them credit for- and yes- there will be a danger from radical Islamist elements- we should make a distinction between violent and non violent Muslim groups- but even groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that have rejected violence- we should still be aware of their goal- they do indeed advocate for religious rule and we need to say ‘yes- we honor your principled stance against violence- yet we reject any religious theocracy- whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim- we want freedom and rights for all people- regardless of their religion- and we do not support your goal- even if you want to achieve it thru non violence’. Where next? IRAN.
[just a note- as I’m presently studying Marx and Freud and other thinkers- Marx himself rejected God because he felt like the religious rulers would use these types of ‘non revolt’ teachings to keep the people suppressed- Marx’s problem with God came thru this economic challenge- the masses were unwilling to revolt against economic oppression because religion was being used as a tool to keep the people under. I think in the beginning Marx meant well- saw the oppression of people and saw how rulers used religion to control people- too bad he couldn’t read this post]
 NO TEMPLE IN IT- Let me try and communicate a few simple truths that hopefully will stick with people- you know- stuff you hear and it makes you think differently from here on out. I have been reading the book of Proverbs these last few weeks and the proverbs teach us that wisdom allows you to communicate great truths in short snippets. One of the proverbs actually says this. If you read the gospels you’ll see Jesus using simple short stories [Parables] to teach great truths. Okay- down the road I plan on teaching the book of Revelation- it’s really a great book- if your able to ‘get thru’ the dragon heads and 666 and all the other images that seem to preoccupy the current popular prophecy books that are on the market today. Don’t get me wrong- the dragon heads and all that stuff do mean something- but not what we usually read from the Lahaye books. One of the images I read the other day [and many times over the years] is the picture of the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven- John says ‘this city’ has No Temple in it. Now- in the New Testament- many times- the imagery of the city is speaking about the church- the corporate people of God. We also see a major theme of the New Testament being the idea that thru Christ- our final Passover sacrifice- the old system of sacrifice and ‘temple’ have passed away [Hebrews]. I mean these themes are major theological themes in the bible- that Jesus ‘suffered outside the city gate’ [Hebrews says the place where he died was outside the city] and that this means that we are all accepted by God thru Jesus- not because of our religious affiliation with ‘law and temple’ [in the city gate] but because we approach God on the basis of the Cross of Jesus- outside the gate- the place where there is ‘no temple’. See? So- this major theme of the New Testament [the actual term we use- New Testament- is speaking about this truth] can be summed up in a short prophetic glimpse [remember- wisdom lets you say much in short snippets] by saying ‘I John, saw the holy city- the New Jerusalem [the church] descending down from God and this city had NO TEMPLE IN IT’ See? John is not really talking about the aesthetics of heaven, in so much as he is giving us this great prophetic spiritual reality ‘I see John- this image of NO TEMPLE simply means the New Covenant will be established on the one sacrifice of Christ and not on the temple system of continual animal sacrifices’. Yes- I think John [the apostle] would be glad if we saw his Revelation thru this lens- a paradigm that exalts the person and work of Christ- instead of a bunch of dragon heads.
 THE JEWISH CONTRIBUTION TO MODERNITY- Before I jump too far ahead in our study of Modernity- let me try and do a few posts on the contribution that Jewish thinkers added to the conversation. Obviously the influence from Christian thinkers [or those who came from a Christian background] played the majority role in forming the boundaries of philosophical and theological thinking in the Modern period- yet there were a few notable Jewish thinkers who also made some good contributions. Moses Mendelssohn interpreted Judaism thru a rational/modern lens and played the role of liberal theologian- much like the liberal Christian scholars who were attempting to emphasize the universality of religion and focusing less on the idea of exclusiveness. The 19th- 20th century thinker- Hermann Cohen- saw Judaism in terms of a universal ethical humanism- later on he returned to a more particularistic view- stressing the concepts of sin and salvation and how universal ethics by themselves were not able to address these issues apart from a particular religious revelation. Certain schools of theologians view the return of the Jews- spoken about in the Old Testament- to their homeland in the 6th century B.C. as the true beginning of Jewish history and thought- they hold to the liberal view that the Torah was written at this time [as opposed to around 1100 B.C. by Moses] and that this era marked the phase of 2nd temple Judaism. I too view the period from the return from captivity in the 6th century B.C. as a sort of ‘2nd temple Judaism’ yet I reject the idea that the Torah was written at that time- I hold to the conservative view that Moses wrote most of the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Having said that- after the Jews returned to their homeland [6th century B.C.] they would reinstitute temple worship and eventually Herod [Roman ruler] would rebuild the temple and the 1st century Jews would regulate their lives round the temple and it’s rituals- Priests played a major role in religious/political life. In 66 A.D. the Jews rebelled against Roman dominance- and in A.D. 70 Rome destroyed the temple under Titus [the military commander] and the Jews would lose the central religious location that structured their lives for centuries. Eventually Rabbi’s-the interpreters of the law- would play the major role in shaping the religious thought of the Jewish people. As time progressed, society eventually asked the question- which came to be known as ‘the Jewish question’- how should Jewish people be seen? Those living in France and Germany- were they to be accepted as Jews- with a distinct ethnic/religious culture- or should they be seen as German- French citizens? Recently- a famous female journalist [Helen Thomas] made headlines when a u-tube video came out- she was commenting on the ‘Jewish question’ and said the Jews ‘need to get the hell out of Palestine and return to their home countries’ when asked ‘what home countries’ she said Germany and France- obviously the Jewish question still lives in the minds of certain people. In the 17th century you had the development of a Jewish form of Pietism- called Hasidism. And in the 19th century Judaism would split into 3 distinct groups- Conservative, Reform and Orthodox. In the late 19th century you would have the rise of Zionism [the homeland question once again] and eventually the American Evangelical community would take up the cause of Zionism and it would become a major plank in the Dispensational theology of the American Protestant church. Though Zionism [the right of the Jews to once again posses their homeland] started as a purely political concern- over time it became ‘Christianized’ and would become the cause célèbre for many T.V. evangelists of the current day [John Hagee- just to name one].
 WEEK IN REVIEW- Okay- I need to share one of those weird moments- at times in the past I’ve had signs and stuff that to be honest- do freak me out. So this week, as I have been reading various bible chapters- kinda skipping around- I read the words of Jesus in Matthew about the last days. So I realize I kinda joked about it the other day- wrote a post called ‘doomsday is here’ and shared a few thoughts. So as I was looking at some of the bible passages on the end times- I focused in on a verse- one that I have liked/written down in the past- It’s Jesus doing the talking [you know- the red letters] and he says ‘when I return- it will be no secret- everyone will know- it will be just like the lightning that shines from one end of the sky all the way to the other’ [my paraphrase- which means I’m basically making the king James version easier to understand] Some versions say ‘like a bright light that will shine from one end of the sky to the other’. Okay- no joke- I’m watching CNN the other day [yes- the doomsday channel- go read the other post] and sure enough Wolf Blitzer [In Letterman’s top 10 the other day- he had the top 10 things said at Larry Kings retirement party- one was ‘will somebody tell Wolf Blitzer to put on a shirt’!] has a story about a strange light that ‘shone from one end of the sky to the other’. So I watched the story- yes in some state [?] many people witnessed a bright unknown light that lit up the whole sky- and they said it went from ‘one end of the sky to the other’ they had one video of the reflection seen on the ground- it looked like a huge flash from a camera- only longer. It was weird- you say ‘Okay brother- you have gotten me mad with your politics- you rub me the wrong way with all your bible stuff- and now you got me a little scared- kinda wondering- so what do you want me to do’? Okay- sow a financial seed for $1,000 every time you see …. [okay- I know- I need to top doing stuff like this]. The story is true- just kidding about ‘the seed’ [I don’t take money- ever].
Kinda wanted to stay on track with the last few posts [guess I already blew that] but let me do this- let’s do a ‘week in review’ thing- and at the end I will post the study I did on the book of Galatians- it’s in keeping with the bible study I’ve been sharing.
Okay- the week is gone- we had the terrible shooting in Arizona and the nation mourned. The [liberal] media made total fools of themselves- they blamed the deaths on Sarah Palin and the right wing- day after day Chris Matthews said ‘where is Palin! Why won’t she talk! Come out and take responsibility [for something you didn’t do?]-or you will be erased’. Then- after the entire nation realized that the shooter held to no specific political ideology [though you could make the case that he is a radical liberal- he is an atheist- had Marx’ book in his possession- he certainly does not fit the description of a right wing radical Christian fundamentalist] after a few days of Mathews and one of the main stream news networks accusing her of being responsible- she finally puts out a video [yes- I now the blood libel thing] and she says she is not guilty for the shooting [which is true] simply defends herself in public after being accused, and the main accuser [Matthews] saying day after day ‘why are you in hiding- it’s proof of your guilt’ so what should the woman do? She ‘comes out of hiding’ and yes- the liberal media says ‘can you believe the gall of this woman! To have the nerve to make a statement and to shame the victims by trying to steal the spotlight from the dead 9 year old girl’ wow. I believe MSNBC should just go away- this network- along with the entire group of accusers who jumped the gun [Paul Krugman] these people are a shame to humanity [am I blunt enough?]
A few years back we had some guy fly his plane into the I.R.S building in Austin [Texas capitol] at first people though ‘right wing nut job’ found out later that he was a disgruntled left wing ‘nut job’ an avowed Marxist. Oh well. A year or so ago we had some guy try to blow up a car bomb in Times Square- mayor Bloomberg opined ‘maybe it’s someone on the right, disgruntled with the health care law’ wrong again- radical Islamist. Strike 2. Okay- one more chance to find a real right winger- I know- remember Ted Kaczynski [Unabomber]? He was the guy sending bombs to corporations and stuff- blowing up people for many years- they finally caught him- it turned out that he was a radical environmentalist- had Al Gore's book in his hut- and he saw the industrialized world as the enemy- strike 3. I do not recall in any of these instances- a single media story about the danger of radical left wing speech- about Chris Matthews dangerous rhetoric when he says ‘someone needs to shoot a co2 pellet into Rush Limbaugh’s head’ in none of these stories was there even an inkling of blame placed upon those who hold to left wing ideology. But the media this week not only blamed Sarah Palin personally for the victims in Arizona- but the entire mainstream media, when caught with their pants down- haven’t themselves apologized for jumping the gun in the shameful way that they did- they haven’t retracted their accusations [in the main] nor have they personally apologized for doing stories about Palin ‘targeting’ the district of the woman that was shot- linking the silly political ‘targeting of the district’ with the horrendous shooting of the congresswoman- this single piece of reporting has been the most irresponsible piece of biased journalism I have seen in years.
So to finish for the week- I think the president gave an excellent speech the other day- did not play into this hype- and deserves credit for being a good president- a president who represented both sides of the aisle.
 DOOMSDAY IS HERE! Okay- they say when you make a post you should try and start with something that will catch people’s interest. One time I was gonna begin one with ‘SEX CULT’ and then say ‘hey- did I ever tell you guys the new name of my ministry’? But then I thought someone may be a first time visitor to the site- and last! [I did a study on a movement called ‘the children of God’ and read a few books on it years ago. Then about 5 years ago they made it back into the headlines- one of the kids who was brought up in the cult- Ricky Rodriguez- killed one of the leaders and made a confession video and took his own life. The story is very sad. Every now and then I see a documentary on the group- when I first studied them they were not that popular in the media- then later it became much more exposed. I have the post on them under a section called ‘cults’ I think it’s in the 8-2010 posts? ] So anyway that’s where I’m at today.
This past week the news has been showing the strange bird deaths that have taken place around the country- to be honest it is a little eerie. Then yesterday I plopped down on the couch to feed my news addiction [yes- a true addict. I have the remote set for my own favorite channels- about 10 news channels. Every now and then I’ll hear my wife or kids in the living room trying to find their channel- I’ll here ‘geez- dad’s got the thing on his news channels again!’] So I figured I would escape the world and catch some news- you know we all have tough stuff we are dealing with- some people eat chocolate to escape- others watch soap operas- I escape in the world of news. So as I turn on the set sure enough Wolf Blitzer is reporting another ‘breaking story’ of a massive fish/crab kill off the beaches of some country. Now I already knew about the birds dying- and I earlier read a story in the news paper that a bunch of Manatees died off the coast of Florida- and now Blitzer is doing a ‘collage’ of all the events- with the heading IS DOOMSDAY HERE?
So of course we all would like the answer- as soon as possible if you don’t mind- you know I might change my plans for the day if it is here. Then Blitzer says ‘we’ll let you know at the top of the hour’ What! I felt like my wife’s friends son- he is a real nice kid, growing up with his mom in a single parent home- kind of a hard luck story. Chris has been by the house lots over the years- he struggles with ADD and his mom has had her tough times too. I kid Chris a lot- he’s around 15 now. One day my wife tells me that Chris was feeling sick- so his mom [Sunshine] gave him some medicine from the cabinet- and then she realized it was the wrong stuff. She panicked- running around calling the poison control center and all- she tells my wife the next day [he is fine by the way] that it was kinda funny- as she was running around trying to find the number- telling Chris she gave him the wrong stuff- she says the poor kid went and laid down on the couch- reading his bible for the first time in years!
So you see- if doomsday is here- I would appreciate it if you could kinda give me a heads up. Then I flipped the channel to Beck- I figured he surely will be telling the world some type of global conspiracy behind the thing- to my surprise he was covering it- in a responsible way! Yes- he said he googled ‘bird deaths’ and found that these events are not that out of the ordinary. I was surprised to see Beck being more responsible than Blitzer. So as I waited for CNN to finally cover it- they showed the events and really didn’t say whether or not doomsday is here.
Okay- I don’t want to make too much light of the subject- the bible does speak about an ‘end of the world’ but we should not jump to conclusions too fast. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus does say ‘like it was in the days of Noah- so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man’ [Jesus return] and Jesus himself goes on to say that in Noah’s day they were eating and drinking and marrying right up until the day that Noah entered the ark and the flood came and took them all away. Jesus says many people will be caught by surprise. The apostle Peter says that people will scoff at the idea of the second coming of Christ- they will say stuff like ‘geez- we have been hearing this for years- it’s never gonna happen’. So we as believers want to be aware of the reality that yes- someday there will be a wrapping up of the ‘present order’ and a ‘new heavens and earth’ will appear.
It’s a little too much for me to cover right now- but a lot of the language we find in the New testament about ‘end of the world’ in the original Greek language means ‘end of the present age’. It is not necessarily a biblical belief to see the world exploding in one big bang- but more of a future hope that someday [preterists believe that day has occurred with the coming of Jesus and the establishing of the ‘new age’ of the new covenant] God will ‘wipe away all tears from our eyes’ [Revelation 21] and a new age/world will appear. Yes- it is true that there will also be a future judgment- but the main point is the Christian belief of ‘the end of the world’ does not simply point to some type of destruction of the planet.
So where are we at right now? Come back tomorrow and I’ll finish the post. Okay- won’t pull a Blitzer. Basically I think we should always live with the possibility of ‘meeting God’ at any moment- whether it’s in death or some outward thing- we should try by Gods grace to live unselfish lives- not always consumed with our own welfare- but to put others before ourselves. We should use situations like the ‘bird deaths’ to talk about what the bible says- and what Christians believe- and at the same time not overreact to things like this [like some Christians did during the Y2K event]. And it also does no harm- if by chance you ingest the wrong medicine- go ahead- grab a bible and start reading- it won’t kill you.
MORE POSTS CAN BE FOUND IN THE 2-2011 POSTS.