” In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened…… And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month (601st year of Noah’s life) was the earth dried and God spake to Noah, saying, go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wife with thee.”                     (Genesis 7:11, 8:14-16, KJV)

A friend was reading different devotionals for November that focused on the flood account of Noah. Sensing a pattern, Janet asked if there was a reason why teachers such as Joyce Meyer and Joseph Prince would make the same flood connection.

I thought it was an insightful question, so I did a little investigating. My digging revealed that rabbinical scholars were divided on the timing of the flood-waters. Some believed that Noah exited the ark in the fall, which this year is mid-November–thus the articles in the devotionals. Others had a conflict with that conclusion, declaring instead that the earth dried up in the spring.

The controversy is over the question of which calendar to use. Some believe the 2nd month (Abib) in the flood account relates to the Hebrew civil calendar (which usually begins in September). The second month of the religious calendar, however, places the above events in Genesis 7 in the mid-April to mid-May range.

To discern truth Sabout which calendar, we ask: “What does Scripture say?” Most Christian and Jewish scholars agree that Moses wrote the Bible’s first five books. So, in Genesis to Deuteronomy, we need to know if God told Moses which calendar to use as his reference? Check this out:

And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” (Exodus 12:1-2 KJV).

The month Yahweh referred to was Nissan, the first month, the time of Passover (cf: Exodus 13:4, Deuteronomy 16:1). Passover is the main Spring feast day observed to remember the Hebrew’s flight from Egypt.  So, with the above command as evidence, we must assume that in Genesis God’s servant Moses would be citing Israel’s religious calendar. There is no Biblical counter-argument for the civil calendar.

Truth is realized when we follow “The 5 Major Rules of Biblical Interpretation”. (See “Book Excerpt” section.) Rather than offer false teaching, writers, like myself, should gather all the pertinent evidence. Go over it carefully before making a statement of fact. A foolish man will rush to judgment while a conscientious and wise Bible student will discern the truth.  EJ

fruit tree

  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  -Jesus, John 15:5-8 (NIV)

Years ago, a solitary apple tree stood tall in our backyard. Every February, I made it my job to trim it. When late summer arrived, we usually had an abundance of delicious fruit.

One season, I piled up some bruised apples that lay on the ground. The following spring I noticed little apple trees had popped up. I saved a few of these seedlings.

I share all this to give meaning and urgency to Jesus’ words (above) in John 15. It was about this time that a strong wind left our apple tree on the ground. Soon after, all that remained of the beautiful apple tree was a jagged stump, a wood pile and those baby trees. Then hungry deer consumed the seedlings leaving only one little tree.

Over the next few years I concentrated on protecting the tree and nurturing its growth. In time I began to trim it. I anticipated the day we would have fresh apples again. But something was wrong. The more I tried to shape the tree, the wilder it grew. It resisted my efforts to tame it, becoming a literal thorn in my side.

Each winter I would trim, but no spring apple blossoms, thus no apples. When I mowed, I would often get scratched and caught in the tree branches. I tried to give it every opportunity. If only it would have produced some fruit, then I would have let it go, but, alas, it was a barren tree.

I grieved as the apple tree was cut down. Its unfruitful branches became fuel for the fire.

Unfruitful Christians beware: Being another tree in the orchard simply won’t do. Nothing will prevent the Lord from eliminating trees that fail to bear good fruit. If it is in us, we better start showing fruitfulness before its too late.

  “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” John the Baptist, Matthew 3:10  (NIV)

 America    

    The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”                 (Jeremiah 1:4-5 NIV)

For most of my adult Christian life, I dismissed the notion America was in the Bible. I thought national pride was behind this claim, or worse, a belief Western European-based culture was divinely favored over all others.

A deeper look at prophecy changed my opinion. The key is the word “nations”. (Try and follow the line of reasoning.) I saw that “nations” (plural) appeared more than 500 times in the NIV translation. Most of those times “nations” was connected to future events. That caught my attention.

What does God mean by “nations”? Genesis gives the answer. As numbers increased and people scattered in Chapter 10, nations with physical boundaries were formed. The origin of people groups and languages (the human element of nations) is explained in Genesis 11:1-9.

In the Bible’s next chapter, we learn of Abram, “Father of a Great Nation” (sing.). The nation made up of Abraham’s offspring (i.e. Jacob or Israel) received divine revelation. With this knowledge of God, the Israelites to be a light to all other nations and peoples.

I began to view “nations” (sometimes Gentiles) as the contrast to the one “nation” the Lord formed from Jacob (Israel). Through God’s chosen people, all nations on earth will be blessed.

Regardless what you may have been taught, Bible prophecy is centered on the regathering of Israel, the people. Soon there will be one Kingdom, made up of many nations, under One King (Acts 1:6). “The Church” is not prophecy’s focus, as many claim. In his last words before leaving earthActs 1:8, Jesus told his disciples that the Church is the means to an end, not the end itself. The age ends when disciples are made in every nation (Matthew 24:14, 28:18-20).

In the last days, the Church of Jesus Christ will be searching for the scattered tribes of Israel who are living among the nations (James 1:1). When the Lord’s lost sheep are found, they will be gathered as sheaves at the harvest. Then it will be as it was during David’s reign; Judah and Israel will be restored to oneness (Hosea 1:10-11, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Ezekiel 37:15-28).

Back to our original question: Is America in prophecy? Yes!–that is if we determine that America represents the nations. (I elaborate on this in the first chapter of The People of God.) Ponder the Latin motto minted on U.S. coins and printed on its currency, “e pluribus unum” or “from many one”. Many what? From many “nations” they came and they continue to come. Nations are in America’s makeup. The U.S. is a “Melting Pot”. With the exception of the slave trade, people arrived on Western shores seeking a better life. America has been a type of Canaan or a Promised Land.

This brings us to what convinced me America is in the Bible: It is Rule #5 of The Five Major Rules of Bible Interpretation, “Look for the Near/Far in prophecy.” I discovered that reading Jeremiah and the other prophets was like following the day’s news. The prophets declared God’s judgment on Israel then Judah for their idolatry. This is the “near”. The “far” is that these warnings apply to the end of this age.

It is time for God’s judgment on wickedness. The Lord will avenge the nations’ for their mistreatment of his people (i.e. devout Christians and Jews). Jeremiah’s prophecy was directed at Judea, yet God appointed him a prophet to the nations (Jer. 1:6). This can mean only one thing: Prophecy is for the saints scattered to the four winds.

God loves the nations and has a glorious plan for them. America and the West’s punishment is coming soon. When it happens, the stage will be set for the final scene of earth’s Act II.

A few lines sum it up. They are from a half century ago and credited to the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan: “America is the last, best hope of freedom. When the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere.”

The light is going out. Then the Man of Lawlessness will have his moment in the spotlight.

building Noah's ark

Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:21-22 NIV)

The reality TV show Live Free or Die is a recent addition to America’s burgeoning interest in survivalism. It features families who left comfortable lifestyles to live in the wild. They set their clocks back about 200 years to experience life on the frontier. In popular terms, they’ve chosen to live “off the grid” (i.e. disconnected from all but nature). We would be wise to pay attention. If God is directing this media genre to save his people, at least, we ought to be taking notes.

The ark in Noah’s day sent a message that God desires to save. It stood as a testimony to those who knew a day of judgment was at hand. Those with the faith to build were delivered from the same flood that killed everyone else.

As signs reveal our present age is about to end, the Lord is calling people to action. Ark construction needs to be underway. Sadly, most Christians are less prepared for a coming apocalypse then are unbelievers. Disregarding Jesus’ warnings of a day when all will look for a way out but won’t find one (Luke 21:34-36), much of Christianity has swallowed the lie that they will escape. Did Noah and his family escape, or were they saved by their faith in God’s Word to build the ark?

My purpose is to prod believers to think, not just react. In our day, what does it mean  to build an ark? The answer may not be what you think. Much of today’s Christianity is about personal salvation. (“All that counts is that I’m saved and I am going to heaven.”) For this reason, Pre-tribulation rapture teaching is attractive. The ark was large for a reason. It wasn’t a dinghy or raft just for Noah.

Noah was a righteous man. In regards to the ark, he obeyed the Lord’s instructions to save his family (Hebrews 11:7). Building our ark means preparing a place of refuge, a sanctuary and place of safety, for others–that includes our family!

The ark was tangible. It was seen by others. It wasn’t spiritual, mystical or philosophical. Materials went into the ark’s construction. Each with a purpose. The ark was a shelter, a place of provision and fellowship for those who trusted in God.

Who are the Noahs? They are the saints who heed Jesus’ words, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man…” You will find them building their refuge for the people of God. They are preparing now for clocks to be set back about 4000 years.

  See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as his oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17 NIV)

The term “buyer’s remorse” is not unknown to those who deal in expensive items such as homes or cars. It is not uncommon for a customer to be overcome with regret after a purchase. In these cases, the new owner will hear an inner voice: “What have you done? You’ve made a horrible mistake!”

I believe buyer’s remorse played a significant part in this week’s 2014 American mid-term election. An overwhelming number showed they wanted leaders who will reverse their nation’s downhill direction. Independent voters who helped elect the present U.S. administration expressed with their votes they had regrets. As one party celebrates their victory, a warning from Hebrews 12 (above) must be heard.

The Bible presents the example of Esau (Genesis 25-28), but it applies to nations as well. Esau was “sexually immoral” or “godless”. That is a chilling combination if we fear the King who rules the universe. Also, the privileged firstborn son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, sold his inheritance rights for a single meal. Scripture notes Esau’s choice was final. Regret came later, but the tears brought no change of mind on God’s part.

While election results were coming in, an article from The Hollywood Reporter was previewed in The Drudge Report (TDR). Slated for a November 14th release, the post showed how far America has sunk into the depths of sexual immorality. (Out of embarrassment, I won’t offer the link here. If you insist, go to TDR’s archives and use key words “Broadcast TV’s Ratings Grab Gets Raunchy”). I ask, “Can the godless regain prosperity?” “Will those who abandon righteousness ever get the blessing back?” “As an Esau nation, should America expect anything other than God’s rejection?”

Saints should see the handwriting on the wall. Unless there is repentance on a national scale, no party or politician can cure what ails us. The people of God will turn from their wickedness, grieve over what they see and cry to the Lord for mercy. Maybe America and countries like her won’t be spared, but Jesus said that those who stand firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:15).

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalm 91:3 NIV)

One of the opening scenes of the epic World War II Stephen Spielberg film, Saving Private Ryan, was a re-creation of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944. As the actors, portraying American troops, battled German guns for a foothold on Omaha Beach, the cameras went to a close-up. An infantryman, obviously relieved by a near miss, spoke the lines with a sigh: “Phew, that was close!” No sooner than the words were out of his mouth then a bullet appeared to pierce the actor’s helmet at the forehead. His eyes rolled back, then he disappeared from view.

There are real sighs of relief coming from Dallas, Akron, New York City and other places men and women have been quarantined because of their possible exposure. The nurses who contracted Ebola from the Liberian Thomas Duncan have been pronounced disease-free. No new cases have been reported in connection with Mr. Duncan. Phew! That was a close one! (Sigh!)

How foolish it would be to assume the danger is behind us. Ebola could resurface in the U.S. as an act of terrorism or because not enough was done to prevent it from entering our borders. The unrepentant and ungodly should not celebrate just yet.

Prayers were answered to be sure, but the divine gift of more time should not be misconstrued as an exoneration of our national guilt. The fact that the rate of new cases in Liberia is slowing and the American death toll is not spiraling out of control is no more than a testimony to God’s grace and mercy.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

So go ahead a breathe that sigh. Then, before its too late, fall on your knees. Repent and ask Jesus for forgiveness before the big one hits us between the eyes.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NIV)

The question raised in my post a couple days ago is worthy of revisiting. With the many recent revelations of the possible spread of Ebola in the U.S., a prominent American-based political e-zine, The American Standard, has published the thought-provoking “Six Reasons to Panic”. Their writers advise a controlled-panic as opposed to all-out “run off the cliff panic”, but panic nevertheless. It is obvious they subscribe to the notion–at least to the real possibility–that this could be the big one.

Far from going into a panic, my Bible tells me not even to be anxious–not about anything, including a wide-scale Ebola outbreak (Philippians 4:6). If worry or fear creeps into my mind, as a Christ-follower, I must cast all my anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7). That does not mean that we pretend that the disease does not exist or that we will not be affected or infected by it; it does imply God’s people will not be shaken by their circumstances.

It helps if we know what’s going on, even if our leaders from the top down don’t have a clue. This is God. In the passage cited above, the Lord said, “When I send a plague.” God announced in Deuteronomy 28:15 and following what he will do when the people he’s blessed no longer follow his laws: He will bring a curse on them, which includes wasting diseases. Do we think God makes idle threats? History proves otherwise.

Why is it so hard to add two and two? It is a cause and effect relationship: First, we take the side of Israel’s enemies, then the U.S. Supreme Court effectively strikes down Defense of Marriage Legislation across the country legalizing homosexual unions. (Pass the Pot in celebration.) As that announcement out of Washington D.C. was made, the late-Thomas Duncan arrived in Dallas from Liberia. What a coincidence? Can anyone say “blood moon”?

The Lord is merciful. We do have an option: We could try and fight the God-sent contagion on our own or humble ourselves (get down on our face and knees) and pray. We must seek His face and turn from our wicked ways–in other words repent of our sin. If we meet these conditions, the Heavenly Father promised, then will I hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land. The whole idea is to be reconciled to God.

So where is the call for national repentance? Where is the condemnation from pulpits of policies that promote wickedness. Are we that far gone?  I don’t know that it is the big one, but from God’s perspective, why shouldn’t it be?

A fearsome dragon terrorizes the world while his protégé, the beast mesmerizes untold millions. A second beast assists in the deception of the world. The populace is enthralled by this unholy trinity. Meanwhile, a beautiful bride nobly battles for survival. She is overcome by the beast with seven heads. The world has fallen for his chicanery. Yet, there is hope as a valiant prince rescues His bride from certain death. The two beasts are thrown into a fiery prison, while the dragon is chained and bound to a gloomy abyss for a thousand years.

Does this sound like a Sci-Fi action adventure? As amazing as it may seem, these events will transpire within an epic battle of the ages between Jesus and Satan. Our planet, as well as the heavens themselves, are the battleground. This is The War of the Ages.

While written with beautiful symbolism, The Book of Revelation, is an unveiling of the great conflict which is to come. John, the Apostle, was told to write about what would soon take place. Our Lord, himself, is “the Revelator”. It is He who lovingly provides us with the guide on thriving during the distress of those days.

To better understand Revelation, it is good to know its genre. It is written in the literary style of an ancient Greek play. There are flashback scenes but the majority of the letter follows a chronology. Above all, we must heed every word. Blessings will follow those who take the words of this prophecy to heart (Rev. 1:3).

Not all of God’s saints will physically survive the last days (i.e. The 70th week of Daniel), but the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens (Daniel 12:3). God’s people who rightly interpret prophecy have the advantage. We must trust in the sovereign plan of Jesus no matter what the cost. Our expected-end and destinies hang in the balance. EJ

Dressed to go out

Dressed to go out.

“However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands… The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. (Deuteronomy 28:15a, 20-24 NIV)

While Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the the World Health Organization (WHO) stated today (Monday, October 13th) that the Ebola outbreak is “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times”, Americans are hearing that we need not be overly concerned.

Serious doubts about controlling Ebola surfaced yesterday when it was reported that a Dallas, Texas, nurse has become the first on American soil to contract the virus. Not to worry. According to Dr. Thomas Friedan, Director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was a “protocol breach” on the part of the unidentified nurse. She had contact with Thomas Duncan, the Ebola-infected patient who has since died. Of course, no one knows what her protocol breach was.

The Word of God gives the clearest insight into what is happening: The Lord is doing what he promised he would do. When his people ceased to obey he said he would strike the land with a curse. Confusion reigns because God said he would send it –and rebuke also.

We are under a curse because we are corrupt and flaunt our sin. Where is the fear of God? So the vile and wicked will contract wasting diseases until they all perish. If Dr. Friedan and his associates, or even his superiors, think they can control God’s curse, they are wrong! They probably ignore Scripture’s warning, the same way Mr. Duncan was ignored as he crossed our nation’s borders.  We all neglect God’s Word to our own peril.

God’s people need not worry or surrender to fear. We have an Advocate who sits at the Father’s right hand. We can come boldly before Jesus’ throne of grace seeking help in our time of trouble.

In these Last Days, Solomon’s prayer is critical for the saints to learn:

“When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel–each one aware of his afflictions and pains, and spreading out his hands toward this temple–then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of men), so that they will fear you and walk in your ways all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.” (2 Chron. 6:28-31 NIV)

Might Ebola be the big one that some predict? Whether it is or not, God will be feared or humanity will pay the price.

” And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘Speak unto the children of Israel saying, the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days.’ ” (Leviticus 23:33-34, KJV).

“Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine.” (Deuteronomy 26:13, KJV).

Imagine camping in your backyard for a week out of a house made of palm branches and other material. Sharing a meal, under the stars and just enjoying time with family, appreciating the majesty of God’s creation. That is exactly what the Feast of Tabernacles represents. The children of Israel would build temporary structures (succoths) to commemorate that God was with Israel for 40 years in the wilderness.

This feast which begins at sundown on Wed., October 8, is a time of Thanksgiving to God for the provisions of the fall harvest. Just as Pentecost celebrated the spring harvest and was fulfilled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), there will be a future outpouring of the Holy Spirit during this fall harvest.  (Joel 2:23, 28-32). It precedes the Day of the Lord and God will use this gift to bring many to Jesus. Expect to see miracles, signs and wonders which will infuriate the antichrist and cause him to display demonically inspired feats which will deceive the ungodly.

The importance of this holy celebration is shown around God’s throne room, where a great multitude from every tribe, nation and language, is worshipping Yahweh as one. (Revelation 7:9-17).  This is the redeeming power of the Holy Spirit as everyone will understand one pure language. Our Lord reverses the scattering caused by the disobedience at the tower of Babel. (Genesis 11:1-9).

Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles, will be observed during the Millennium. The prophet Zechariah tells us that everyone that is left from the nations (which came against Jerusalem) shall go to the Holy City year after year to worship the King (JESUS).  This is MANDATORY and if the families of a nation do not attend, then there will be no rain for their crops. (Zechariah 14: 16-21).  God loves us so much that he wants us to rejoice with Him and enjoy the fruits of His creation together. EJ.

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