Thursday, February 26, 2015

Who does the Woman in Revelation 12 Represent? Israel or the Church 540 - 6 - 8

To quote CM, The Thessalonian Epistles, "The most important eschatological epistles of the New Testament." So while we, the Church, eagerly await the Blessed Hope what of Israel.
I am currently enrolled I610 Strategic Trend Reporting, the first of four Silver level Issachar Courses. I’m working on my first article and my topic Question is “Who does the Woman in Revelation 12 Represent? Israel or the Church or both?” My Working Thesis Statement is, “The woman of Revelation 12 represents Israel being sheltered in Petra during the Great Tribulation and the twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel in keeping with Joseph's dream in Genesis 37.”
The research for this article seems to have taken on a life of its own. There is disagreement as to who this woman represents and many theologians claim that the woman is the church and not Israel. Could this lead to the heresy of Replacement Theology?.
One of the teachers I very much respect claims the woman is the Church and the Rapture is an invention meant to lead believers astray. He cites scripture that to him prove that the woman/ Church will be carried off to the wilderness where she will be protected.
Revelation 12:1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” How could she be other than the state of Israel? We read in Revelation 12:6, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” This would be when the remnant of Israel will flee to Petra at the start of the great tribulation, the last three and a half years of the seven year tribulation.
Other supporting scriptures include Joel 3:14-17, the Day of Jehovah is described as the time of refuge for Israel. Matthew 24:15-17, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house”
From Israeology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum Th.M., Ph.D:
“The Woman of Revelation 12 is connected with the sun, the moon, and the twelve stars. The Old Testament background is Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9-1 0 which makes it evident that the sun represents Jacob, the moon Rachel, and the twelve stars the twelve sons of Jacob who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel. The Woman in this chapter represents the nation of Israel, who produced the man child, who is Jesus the Messiah.”
As an aside, could the fact that the woman in Revelation 12 has the moon under her foot be prophetic of the downfall of the Islamic state? The man-child representative of Jesus is caught up to heaven. As the ascension of the man-child occurs at the start of the great tribulation and Jesus is the head of the church and we, the Church, are the body, is this indicative of a mid-tribulation rapture?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reconciling the apparent contradiction between God's love and His justice 540 - 6 - 6

The story of Job addresses the question, “How are the goodness and justice of God reconciled with the suffering and pain in the world.
2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” So here Paul tells us that Scripture specks to what is right, what is not right, how to get it right and how to stay right.
In the next chapter of 2 Timothy Paul tells us what will happen/ is happening. 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”
We serve a loving God, however, he is also a righteous God who will not tolerate the presence of sin. Of ourselves we can do nothing to earn our acceptance before God. Jesus was our propitiation and while we are justified before God, we need to set ourselves apart from a sinful world and work on our sanctification.
Most of the televangelists seem to treat God in a casual way; almost as a genie in a bottle. The name it and claim it prosperity televangelists pervert Bible passages to generate income; Malachi 3:10, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” What many seem to ignore is that while we may have a loving God we also have a righteous God.
The justice of our righteous God often results in judgment. Ultimately, all will be judged; some at the Bema Seat judgment and some of the White throne judgment. Philippians 2:10, "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;" Those of us who are justified through the blood of Christ will be judged at the Bema seat.
As for those who persecute the followers of Jesus, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 speaks to their ultimate destination. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9, “6, Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7, And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8,  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9, Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

God does not want us to render evil for evil 540 - 5 - 2

Throughout the Bible we are admonished not to seek vengeance, not to return evil for evil. The prophet Isaiah often quoted God in this respect. Ultimately, there will be justice done.
Isaiah 63:4, “For the day of vengeance is in mine heart (H3820), and the year of my redeemed is come.”
H3820 - the heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything
In Genesis we read of how what seems to be evil in the lower story is used for good by God in the upper story.
Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”
As an aside,e are warned against double hearted people in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 23:7-8, “7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.” Strong’s has two definitions for heart in this single verse, H5315 and H3820
Not returning evil for evil is further reinforced by Paul in Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Jesus taught that it’s easy to love your neighbor, however, you are to love your enemies as well. Matthew 5:43-44, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
In my opinion, when we return evil for evil we harden our hearts and can become obsessed and lose our joy. Often evil is returned for evil when there is unforgiveness. If we cannot forgive others, how can we expect God to forgive us?
Hebrews 4:7, “Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden (G4645) not your hearts.”
G4645 - render stubborn: - harden.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Waiting for a Third Appearance of Jesus 540 - 5 - 8

I’m blessed to have a very good friend Jeanelle who teaches a Thursday morning Bible study here in the desert. This morning she was picking up on what another teacher had been discussing, the three appearances of Christ. Jeanelle cited many verses that included some form of the words appear, see as well as word studies.
The first appearance was when Jesus stepped out of eternity as a helpless baby and grew to be the perfect man. The second appearance was after the resurrection.
For three and a half years Jesus traveled on foot and was seen and heard by thousands of people. His many miracles were witnessed as was His politically incorrect opinion of the religious leaders of the day.
The resurrection would be the second appearance of Jesus and he was seen by hundreds of people before his ascension. There was some question as to what the third appearance of Jesus was. I suggested that possibly it was when Jesus appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos. Here Jesus was in his glorified body just as He was at the Transfiguration.
Perhaps it is through the above third appearance of Jesus that we get insight into what are glorified bodies will be. 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear (G5319) what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see (G3700) him as he is.” What a wonderful promise for believers.
G5319 - to render apparent (literally or figuratively): - appear, manifestly declare, (make) manifest (forth), shew (self).
G3700 – with wide open eyes, as at something remarkable; and thus differing from G991, which denotes simply voluntary observation
John 16:19, “Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see (G2334) me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see (G3700) me?”
G2334 - to be a spectator of, that is, discern, (literally, figuratively [experience] or intensively [acknowledge]): - behold, consider, look on, perceive, see
So when Jesus walked with the disciples they saw him with their human eyes and after the resurrection it was more of a supernatural seeing.
We read of the famous seven mile Bible lesson Jesus gave to two of His followers on the road to Emmaus.
Luke 24:16, “But their eyes were holden (G2902) that they should not know him.”
G2902 - to use strength, that is, seize or retain (literally or figuratively): - hold (by, fast), keep, lay hand (hold) on, obtain, retain, take (by).
Luke 24:31, “And their eyes were opened (G1272), and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”
G1272 - to open thoroughly
Jesus could reveal or not reveal his true identity as suited his purposes. As an aside, for nearly 2000 years Jews have been blinded as they did not know the day of their visitation. Matthewv23:39, “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
There were far more verses discussed in this morning’s Bible study dealing with the appearances of Christ, however, space is limited. As for me, I eagerly await His appearance in the clouds as He comes for his Church.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Was Being Transported to Galt's Gulch a Humanist’s Version of the Believers Rapture? 540 - 4 - 8

Ayn Rand’s bestselling 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged” was/ is very prophetic of the current political and economic decline throughout the world. Ms. Rand wrote of the power of the pull and the destructive looter mentality; a marriage between politicians and failing businessmen with a victim mentality. Add to that a pervasive anti-capitalist attitude on the part of many.
With thanks to Wikipedia, Rand's stated goal for writing the novel was "to show how desperately the world needs prime movers and how viciously it treats them" and to portray "what happens to a world without them" The lead up to the election of 2012 was a feeding frenzy of the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. Gov. Romney was demonized for his business successes.
Ms. Rand has often been demonized as she was an avowed atheist and the man in her life was reputed to have connections to the Nazis. That said, her work was and remains an analysis of socialist mentality out of control.
The question, “Who is John Galt?” is the plaintive cry of desperation read throughout the book. While it seems a cry devoid of hope, in my opinion and it also carries with it a hope for something better.
Galt's Gulch, also known as Mulligan's Valley or Atlantis, was a valley that became home to many of the “movers and shakers” of industry. These were industrialists who through risk-taking and hard work had built businesses that were being sucked dry by those referred to as looters. The industrialists decided to go on strike and would disappear into Galt’s Gulch. After these individuals went on strike there would be nothing of valuable left to loot from their businesses. Any salaries or benefits were paid to employees and all debts were paid off. Those business still intact failed shortly for want of someone capable of running them.
John Galt provided entree into Galt’s Gulch. He was a Pied Piper of sorts not only to the leaders of industry but to blue-collar workers who wanted to live and work on their own terms. These were people who desired to be surrounded by like-minded people and separated themselves from the masses. Interestingly enough, several of the residents of Galt’s Gulch started businesses in the Valley, however, greatly reduced in magnitude. Also, the residences operated on the gold standard rather than paper money.
Years ago I was on a chat room where I compared Galt’s Gulch to the believer’s rapture. I was ridiculed because of Ms. Rand’s atheism. While I suspect that were she alive Ms. Rand would deny any religious overtones to her book “Atlas Shrugged,” I wonder. Here was a group of people willing to give up everything for an existence with people with the same values.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is a guide to give evidence that our hope is not tied to this world but is found in Christ 540 - 4 - 4

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 13, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
Unlike unbelievers we are assured that someday we will be in the presence of Jesus as is the case with those believers who have passed.
2 Corinthians 5:8, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." So those present with the Lord will come with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-16, “15, For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”
First those who are present with the Lord will rise.
1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, 17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18, Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
While we wait for the Blessed Hope we are to be a separate people. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
I have to constantly remind myself that I’m just passing through on the way to my eternal home. That said, it is so easily to get caught up in the day-to-day drama of world politics and with friends and family drama. Good words to live by in this fallen world: Psalm 34:14, "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
As a believer, I strive to honor God and not to be a stumbling block to others. I’m fortunate in the fact that I passed the biblical threescore and ten and yearly feel more removed from this secular world. Evil is growing exponentially and seems to be more persuasive as many are rushing through the wide gate that leads to destruction.
Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My whole heart is wrapped up in the private study of the Word. 540 - 3 - 4

I’m so convicted that the Word of God is just that, the Word of God that I want to study it in small Bible studies as well as in my alone time with God. I have a number of electronic gizmos and have installed Bibles on them. I go to sleep listening to the King James Version of the Bible and in the hope that the rapture will happen as I sleep. Often during the night I will wake up and think that I remember that part of the Bible and then drift off again. Asleep or awake, I can’t seem to get enough of the Word.
Unfortunately, this was not always the case as I was brought up in a conservative Protestant church. While I was in both the junior and senior choir I don’t remember ever caring a Bible into the church. Rather there was a wooden plaque with grooves near the altar where the verse of the day and page numbers of the hymns to be sung could be slipped into place. Sunday after Sunday the same format. Luckily when I was very young I had a friend whose father was a Baptist pastor so I had some exposure to the Bible. Years later and even before I started attending a Bible-based church I started to explore the Word. Now it is a consuming passion.
The Word is a wonderful gift that I seek to share with others. I try not to get annoyed by the dismissive and sometimes contemptuous attitude by those trying to marginalize the Word of God. How often I've heard/ responded to people who say the Bible is just a book written by men.
Rather than get into a no-win argument with these critics of the Bible I referred them to resources available through Koinonia House including Learn the Bible in 24 Hours, How We Got Our Bible and How to Study the Bible. I also point out that the Septuagint which was completed about 270 BC included more than 100 prophecies of the coming Messiah that Jesus fulfilled.
My goal is to be a better Christian apologist and I'm grateful to KI for the opportunity to immerse myself in the study the Bible.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Truth is most important to me, even truth than often is PI 540 - 3 - 1

Truth matters most to me. Often what currently passes for truth is really redacted history. With thanks to Wikiquote, “Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.” An adherence to truth is often is often considered politically incorrect, however, it is a priority in my life.
Pres. Obama met with a firestorm of criticism due to his comments made at Thursday morning’s National Prayer Breakfast. Partly in response to ISIS brutally burning alive a Jordanian pilot, Obama condemned those who seek to use religion as a rationale for carrying out violence around the world. He was quoted as saying "Unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ," Obama said. "In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."
Pres. Obama overlooked the fact that most Christians opposed slavery.
While the goals of the Crusades included stopping the onslaught of the Moslems and regaining Jerusalem, many of the crusaders were far from knights in shining armor. Dave Hunt had this to say in his book, A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days, “It was the popes, aided by the bishops, cardinals, and priests, who inspired and directed the Crusades (both to the Holy Land and against evangelical Christians in Europe) which brought about the slaughter of millions of innocent Christians, Jews, and Muslims-even offering special indulgences to those who would execute this mayhem.” Dave Hunt has written several books that would be considered very politically incorrect, however, they are very well documented.
There was great evil committed during the grand Inquisition. Millions were hunted down like animals, and tortured and brutally murdered in these dark days of the Papacy. The grand Inquisition was pretty much an evil alliance between the Spanish government and the Papacy to rob victims of their land and wealth and ultimately their lives.
While the evils presently being committed by ISIS are beyond my comprehension how far removed is this present day evil from that done centuries ago by the Roman Catholic Church. Both pretty much practice(d) convert or die. Long before the Reformation the Albigenses were virtually eliminated as were the Waldenses. So much for holding to “Sola Scriptura.”
So what does this centuries old history have to do with today? Recently Pope Francis described as "Dangerous the temptation to believe that one can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church." Catholic doctrines including the selling of masses and purgatory hold a person’s soul in ransom. Add to that, the heresy of transubstantiation. These doctrines are diametrically opposed to the declaration of Jesus on the cross that “It is finished.” Ephesians 2:8-9, "8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast."
When I witness to unbelievers much of the resistance I meet is due to the evils done by that the church through the ages in the name of Jesus. So Evangelical Christianity is painted with the same brush as the Roman Catholic Church.
Lost in the mist of history are those believers who held to the apostolic truths of first century. In my opinion, we believers will eventually be forced to go underground, however, that the subject for another day.