“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:27-30 NRSV).

Eyeglasses help us to see clearly when our vision is otherwise distorted. Scratches, smears and dirt blur that vision. Clear vision is essential to navigate our path and to avoid dangers and obstacles. It is the same way when we study scripture. The lens of prophecy and observing the 5 rules of biblical interpretation are key to understanding God’s Word properly. One such example is Hanukkah.

Today is the 5th day of Hanukkah and it celebrates the Dedication of the Temple of God. Contrary, to what many Christians may believe there are references to Hanukkah in both the Old and New Testament. Today we will look at the reference from the Gospel of John. Jesus observed the Festival of the Dedication and was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon when he was asked if He was the Messiah. (John 10:22-23). His answer pierced the hearts of his adversaries.

” I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me, but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.” (John 10:25-26 NRSV).

Our king tells us that those who belong to him, hear his voice and those who believe in Him will not perish. True believers cannot be snatched out of Jesus’ hand. The word John uses in the Greek is harpazo (which means to snatch, pluck, catch away). It is the same Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 with regards to the Rapture. When we understand this connection, something amazing is revealed. Jesus, on Hanukkah, not only declares oneness with the Father but alludes to his future coming. This Festival plays a future role in the age to come and it played a major role in the time between the Old and New Testament. The history of Hanukkah will be explored in the next post. EJ.

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.”  (Mark 13:5 NIV)

As Papa ten Boom, Corrie’s father, said in The Hiding Place, “Just because a mouse is in the cookie jar, it does not make him a cookie.”

The “mouse in the cookie jar” was a reference to the their pastor. In his clergy garb, he had just counseled Papa and his two daughters, Corrie and Betsy, to cease their efforts on behalf of the Jews. The Ten Booms were defying their Nazi occupiers at great risk to themselves, by helping Jews escape Holland and almost certain death.

The Ten Boom’s shepherd spoke as though he was caring for his flock. He sat stoically, and appealed to their objectivity. But Papa Casper ten Boom told his minister, “The Jew is the apple of God’s eye. How can we, as a family, do nothing?”

Let history judge who was right. The names of the Ten Booms appears on the wall of “The Righteous Among the Nations”, an honor accorded non-Jews by the State of Israel presented to those who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination. Where might the ten Boom’s pastor have his name written? He might as well be nameless.

Beware of those who wear sheep’s clothing while making a pretense of objectivity. They are not sheep, but wolves. That is what Jesus warns about (above) in “The Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21). It is up to us not to be taken in or deceived by the claim they speak in Jesus’ name. They have an angle or a hidden agenda. Don’t fall for their false or pseudo-objectivity or bad things will happen.

The world is waking up to the state of modern journalism. Years ago the news media quit reporting the story. Instead, they began to skillfully fashion their reporting in order to form public opinion. Important facts that fail to support their version are omitted while others that do are embellished. What comes to us in the news props up their specific world view or stirs the controversy they seek. Forget objectivity. It is all a pretense, a sham. Except on rare occasions, journalism is pseudo-objectivity.

I was recently informed of a scathing “one-star” critique on Amazon of my 2013 analysis of Pre-tribulation Rapturism (PTR), “Lifesaver: Rescuing God’s People from the PTR Ship” (Booklocker). My first thought on learning I was pilloried in a review was a feeling of gratitude: “Thank you, nameless one, for taking time to launch your poisoned-tipped darts.”

No doubt the reviewer would name Jesus as his Lord and Savior, as do I. As I read what “my Christian brother/sister” wrote, I could visualize their guns blazing. The review, “a fizzer”, left me wondering “Why the deceit?” There was a pretense of a serious analysis, but serious it was not–nor did it analyze anything I wrote. There was a hidden intent; keep potential readers away.

By referring to what I wrote as “a rant”, the critic’s agenda was to torpedo a reasoned, Biblical analysis of PTR,  a widely-held Christian view of prophecy. In Lifesaver, I fired my torpedoes at ideas and thoughts in order to save people, not fire at people in order to save my ideas. I should not be surprised a loyal PTR soldier, disguised as an objective critic, went for my throat.

So, I ask, is pseudo-objectivity the best that journalism or that PTR can offer? I believe there are many who see through the deception. We better see through it or Jesus’ warning will be for naught. Such things are signs the deceived, like the Ten Boom’s pastor, are on the losing side of history.

This is what the LORD says:

“Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed… Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”
(Isaiah 56:1, 3a
  NIV)

In the midst of a series of prophecies about the last days, the Lord reveals his magnanimous heart through Isaiah. He is the God of Judah. That will never change, because He never changes. The Almighty declares his salvation is close at hand for the people of Judah, for those who keep God’s laws. But in the above prophecy there is a promise for the foreigner or alien in their midst.

For those married to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) position, the rest of Isaiah 56 can make little sense. It speaks of those born outside of the tribe of Judah, non-Jews, coming back into the fold of the true Israelite.

“And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant–these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:6-7 NIV)

In a complete reversal of the ten tribes of Israel’s assimilation into the nations (the Diaspora), foreigners will come to Jerusalem’s temple in the last days to worship God in the manner prescribed through Moses. Without verbal gymnastics, PTR teaching cannot accommodate prophecies that reveal Israel’s re-unification under King Jesus (John 10:16, Acts 1:6). Passages such as Isaiah 56–or Zechariah 8:20-23 for that matter–are simply ignored. God’s Word clearly foretells a Ruth-like (see Ruth 1:16-18) conversion of foreigners into temple worshipers as well as Sabbath and holy day keepers. Sadly, many Christians have a problem believing Jews will be saved at all.

The principle of re-assimilation is omitted from PTR’s popular teaching. The “any moment rapture” philosophy preserves the wall of separation. The Word promises that through Christ the barrier between Gentile and Jew will be destroyed. Pagan-based traditions among the saints won’t be around much longer.

By taking the Church up in the rapture before enduring tribulation, Gentile saints are denied participation in the festal procession at the end of the age (Zechariah 9:9-10). Regarding the timing and purpose of the rapture, PTR dogma does not allow for a restoration or a re-gathering into the worship established for Israel. The Pre-Wrath Rapture position, when rightly understood, accommodates this future event in prophecy.

Follow the logic: If “saved Christians” are in heaven when the Tribulation begins, how could they make burnt offerings or sacrifice in the rebuilt Temple? Saints will be re-gathered as exiles (Isaiah 56:8). There will be One God worshiped in one way. There will be one set of holy laws. As God says, the coming temple will be a house of prayer for all nations.

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV).

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate our LORD’s blessings. Personally, November 29th – December 1 was a difficult few days last year. Today, I would like to share what Yahweh brought me through that weekend.

In an accident at work, November 11, 2013, I received a pilon fracture in my left ankle, shattering my tibia and fibula. The day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29th), I was admitted to the hospital for a second, more complicated, surgical repair. Due to the swelling, the surgeon had to decide whether I could have the operation on Saturday or wait until Monday. Our Lord works according to His timeline. To our surprise, the door was opened for surgery before noon Saturday.

As I was wheeled into the operating room I silently prayed: ” Lord, I give you my body and place my life in your hands.” When I awoke, it was after 7pm. The doctor was able to do all the needed repairs and I was back in my room by 9pm.

With the operation behind me, I was back home on Sunday, December 1st. I realized God chose the day and the hospital room just for me. Hanukkah, the feast marking the dedication of the Temple of God, began last year on Thanksgiving. My surgery was on the third day of Hanukkah. Three signifies completion and unity. How great is that!

My room number was 719. This was amazing! Studying Israel’s holy days in relation to salvation history is my passion. (The Hebrew calendar is a key in understanding the last days.) The calendar operates in nineteen-year cycles having seven leap years (an additional month) within that time frame, thus 719. God used the circumstances of my accident to confirm that He is with me (Psalms 121:1-3).

No matter how difficult life gets, when we trust in Jesus, we will find plenty for which to thank him. EJ

” 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.

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