wildfire

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Look! Disaster is spreading from nation to nation; a mighty storm is rising from the ends of the earth.” (Jeremiah 25:32 NIV)

In the American Pacific Coast state of California, last month’s Santa Clarita Valley fire swept across the countryside north of Los Angeles in unprecedented fashion. Officials estimated, through the fire’s first week, that it was burning 10,000 acres (4046.8 ha.) per day. At one point, fifty-five (55) square miles (142.4 sq. km.) were left in charred ruins as the fire raged.

Wildfires are unpredictable. They can rapidly change course and destroy everything that lives, but it only takes a spark to ignite one. In the case of the recent Santa Clarita fire, it was more than likely an arsonist’s match.

The dry landscape of California is analogous to the current state of our world. It will only take a spark to start an unprecedented blaze, one that cannot be contained. More likely it will be the gasoline and torch of an angry leader such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un or an agitated Chinese premier. Nero, a deranged emperor, was rumored to set Rome ablaze then blamed Christians.

A firestorm of words launched in the media may create the next civil war. A future disaster will ignore borders ultimately producing the global holocaust many predict. We are near the set time, plus the conditions are almost right for an unstoppable, fast-spreading fires that consume.

Long ago it was spoken to the prophet Jeremiah  that in the last days disaster would spread from nation to nation (see above).  As God’s chosen people, we must heed the words of the prophets by preparing to abandon homes and possessions. With an ark of refuge, we must be ready to join a fellowship of saints who joyfully lose all for the sake of the Kingdom.

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.” (Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:20-21)

“In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does.” (Daniel 8:23-24a NIV)

The child spots the candy. Immediately their arm reaches out. Mother intervenes. She takes the child’s fingers and gently says “No, Sweetie.”

Then it starts. The adorable turns horrible. The bottom lip sticks out and eyes narrow. Pouting then whimpering signify a volcano about to erupt. A full-blown screaming episode follows with Mother vainly trying to pacify her little cherub.

Finally, the concession. The desired object is placed in the small hand and the sobbing stops. Peace is restored.

Incidents like this happen constantly–and not just with toddlers. Big people also may act badly when told “No.” Without needed discipline, the spoiled son or daughter becomes a skilled manipulator.

God’s judgment on the wicked is manifest when arrogant, “Don’t tell me ‘No’ ” master-manipulators, take over. When petulant children grow up to become monarchs, enablers, not wise counselors, surround the throne.

In 1 Kings 21:1-2, Ahab set his sights on a vineyard. It belonged to his subject Naboth who denied Israel’s king his property. Ahab did not deal well with rejection. He went home to bed without eating and to sulk like a baby (21:4). Queen Jezebel knew how to return a smile to her husband’s face, “Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth…” (21:7b)

Jezebel’s plan succeeded (21:8-16). Ahab’s wife was crafty as a serpent. When Naboth was falsely accused then executed, the king gained his prized vineyard. As a team, Ahab, the pouter, and Jezebel, the poisonous snake, were master manipulators.

The world’s landscape is dotted with leaders similar to Israel’s royal pair. They will use any means to achieve their ends. Powerful rulers have armies of minions, ready, at the slightest provocation, to do someone harm.

Manipulators are masters of “the politics of personal destruction.”  Those exposing their evil deeds may be humiliated or turn up dead. The opposition’s public embarrassment or untimely demise sends a message intended to discourage others (cf. Revelation 13:4).

In the last days, one group will resist manipulation, even by masters of the art. The saints, or the elect, are wise to the schemes of the wicked (Ephesians 6:11). For that reason, they, like the prophet Elijah to Ahab, will be called the enemy (1 Kings 21:20). As with Naboth who refused to sell Ahab his vineyard, God’s people will be considered sheep to be slaughtered (cf.  Romans 8:36).

The emergence of the Maestro of all manipulators is near. How will we resist the craftiest tomorrow if we don’t keep our distance from current inferior models?

So we must be careful where and with whom we stand. No one can be rescued if they fall for the master of all masters of manipulation.

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals… He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. (Judges 2:10-11, 14b-15 NIV)

Vanishing are the men and women of what has been called “America’s greatest generation”, the children of the great depression who fought and won World Wars on two fronts. Their children, “the baby boomers” (born 1946 to 1964), were beneficiaries of the peace and economic prosperity their fathers’ sacrifices bought.

With baby boomers now reaching retirement age, their sons and daughters are taking up positions of authority. Though notable exceptions exist, this generation (Generation X, born 1965-1982) and the one coming after (Generation Y, born 1977-2001), act as though they do not know the Lord.

A great evil has covered a land that God had once blessed. The greatest generation has grandchildren and great-grandchildren who reject righteousness. They flaunt their abominations in public. They follow other gods. This day, they are being sold out to enemies that surround them.

Muslims, under the guise of refugees, are being transported from the war-torn Middle East to the once proud capitals of Western democracy. It is reported America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is helping Islam establish itself as the religion of the future. As one example, the present administration has directed DHS to grant temporary amnesty to 8000 Syrian Muslims.

Islam already has Europe in its grip. Next on their Global Caliphate list is North America. There is no doubt that Christians are the inevitable targets. A bloody murder of a French priest by ISIS-related terrorists is a prelude of things to come.  In its most recent edition, the English-language DABIQ, the magazine of the Islamic State, called on Christians to abandon Christianity claiming “Jesus was a slave to Allah”.

Islamization of the West is well underway, and the Lord is in the midst of it. He will punish America for rejecting his ways and following after the Baals. There will be terrible times in the last days. Do not fear, believing saint. “Those who stand firm to the end will be saved.”

ostrich head in hole

“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 NIV)

Optimism should not be confused with hope. Optimists are purposely unaware of the negative. (This is illustrated by the ostrich’s “head in the sand”.) They opt to view the world through “rose-colored glasses”, so truth is distorted. Warning: Watch out for perpetual optimists.

Hope, on the other hand, does not filter out the painful realities of this life. It may even embrace them. Despite trying circumstances, true saints cast their eyes on heaven. They look beyond the present–whether good or bad–meditating on God’s promises. Jesus willingly carried his cross knowing a crown would follow crucifixion (cf. Hebrews 12:2).

In Ben Sherwood’s The Survivor’s Club, the author argued that “optimistic” POW’s in North Vietnam’s Hanoi Hilton, or optimists adrift in an ice-cold sea, have a poor chance at survival. When false expectations of early rescue shatter, they lose faith, then the will to live. Those who do survive are those who quickly adjust to their new reality. Fueled by hope of overcoming, they cope as best they can with each difficult challenge.

The Apostle Paul warned some Thessalonians (see above) that they were living an illusion. A lie had taken root within the fellowship. While false prophets had exploited the blind optimism of the “Peace and Safety” crowd, the children of light were not fooled. The clever fraud had given the unsuspecting victims what their itching ears had yearned to hear.

A strategy of the evil one is not unlike the farmer who strokes the chicken’s neck and back to calm it just before the hatchet falls.

The Bible of these wicked deceivers has scratched out phrases, verses and chapters. They advocate Isaiah to Malachi should remain unread. Other references to the prophets and their prophecies are scrubbed: “Too negative!” is the verdict. “The images are too disturbing,” their spiritual leaders say. “We worship a God of love, not an angry God,” they boast.

Current U.S. campaign slogans such as “Hope and Change,” “Stronger Together” or “Make America Great Again” are market-tested to comfort anxious voters. In effect, they promise “The future is bright, but only if we elect our candidate.” This is coupled with “If the other wins, the worst will happen!” Optimism and pessimism are manipulations. Devoid of genuine hope, they are two imposters masquerading as reality.

Our Lord prayed for his disciples. He asked that they remain in the world, yet not be of it (John 17:15-16). Jesus’ followers’ awareness of the signs of the times must be sharp. Their buoyed spirits are not due to their leaders’ charisma, their nation’s prosperity or the size of its army. (Such hopes have a shaky foundation.)

God-inspired hope is anchored in an unrelenting trust in Christ and a thorough knowledge of prophecy. Those who have this kind of hope will endure every trial. Those optimistic about “peace and safety” will not escape. In this wicked and adulterous generation, they are shipwrecks waiting to happen.

tweedledum and tweedledee

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25 NIV)

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, two otherwise agreeable Wonderland characters, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, agreed to go to war. Nothing ever came of it.

Commenting on American politics, author and lecturer Helen Keller (1880-1968) once remarked: “Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.”(Source: Wikipedia)

More than a decade ago, current U.S. presidential opponents Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump posed with their distinguished spouses at the Trump wedding reception. By the friendly smiles and the arms around each other in the photo, it is assumed the Clintons and Trumps were in agreement. Times have changed. Today they claim to be at war.

Meanwhile, a large block of the electorate are perplexed. Do they vote or stay home? Do they cast their ballot for the corrupt, opportunistic and truth-challenged Mrs. Clinton or the megalomaniac, bombastic and win-at-all-cost billionaire businessman Mr. Trump?

In a country desperately in need of moral leadership, there isn’t a shade of difference. At a time when a return to Bible authority is the only way to save the nation, political foes, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, are agreed: Continue stirring the wrath of God.

So, can anything worthwhile ever come of this highly-publicized and expensive contest if Tweedledum and Tweedledee have chosen the path that leads to death?

top secret

“The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”  (Psalm 33:10-11 NIV)

The former American president left his aircraft to climb aboard the jet of the U.S. Attorney General. Having appointed her while president to her federal judge post, they were old friends. The area was sealed by federal agents. No cameras or recording devices were permitted. The public was to remain unaware that the two had ever met.

The meeting lasted less than a half hour. Fourteen days later, it was evident more had been discussed than golf and grandchildren: The A.G. closed the case against the ex-president’s very high profile wife. Also, the FBI invoked a special secrecy agreement on their investigators. From the top, the way was cleared for the accused former Secretary of State to move onto other business–like running for president.

In 2nd Kings 6:8, the king of Aram was at war with Israel. He ordered his commanders to set up camp in a certain place, but when they did the Israelites avoided his trap. Each surprise attack attempt failed. The enraged king was certain he had a traitor in his inner circle. He demanded, “Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

“None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” (6:12)

There was a prophet in Israel (cf. 2 Kings 5:3). He had special knowledge of what the king said in secret and was giving it to his king. Nothing was hidden from Elisha, because with the Lord there are no secrets.

Our Sovereign God has no secrets about his strategy. He openly declares his plans to his prophets (Amos 3:7).  Before the Lord acts he announces in His Word what he is going to do (Isaiah 42:9).

As far as keeping secrets from God, the entire idea is folly. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

No audio recording devices, no cameras taking video or snapping pictures, nothing to capture the sights or sounds of a deal struck in private; still what is whispered in the secret place will be shouted from the housetops (cf. Luke 12:3). When we stand before God, we will all give an account for every careless word (cf. Matthew 12:36-37).

“A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.” (17:23) 

As for you Madame Secretary, your husband, Madame Attorney General, and your ilk who cloak deeds in darkness, “…would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? (Psalm 44:21) 

 

Jesus-and-the-Pharisees 2.png

Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.  (Isaiah 28:14-15 NIV)

On the American political scene, a non-politician, Donald Trump, has succeeded in securing a record number of votes on his way to the Republican presidential nomination despite the harsh opposition of his party leaders. His popularity at the grassroots level stands in stark contrast to the acrimony emanating from the GOP establishment and the media. The “Trump Phenomenon” remains an unsolved mystery to the party’s hierarchy.  Leadership cannot grasp that their unpopularity is the reason for Trump’s rise.

Curiously, this is reminiscent of a Biblical pattern of which we need to be aware. The pattern is this: God always hides his imminent judgment from the religious establishment. Instead of the sophisticated, spiritual elite understanding future events, the Lord uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31).

In the 8th Century B.C., Isaiah attempted to prophesy to his fellow Judahites, but they ridiculed his instruction (see above). While priests and prophets staggered from their wine and beer, they mocked Isaiah. His teaching was not intellectual enough for the pompous, learned leaders of Israel (cf. 28:7-10). 

Jesus faced similar resistance (cf. Matthew 11:13-19). Jewish rulers witnessed Christ’s popularity and listened to his message, yet they would have none of it. In response to the establishment’s determined opposition, Jesus said, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things [emphasis mine] from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Matt. 11:25-26)

A veil covered the spiritual eyes of those Christ came to save. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)

The same was true for Jesus’ apostles. Among the people, the uneducated disciples were held in high regard while simultaneously incurring the Jews’ wrath. The religious leadership fulfilled what Jesus promised in Matthew 23:33ff. There, the Lord directed his prophecy at them beginning with, “You snakes! You brood of vipers!”

So it will be tomorrow. Do not expect mainstream spiritual leaders, well-known Christian writers or TV evangelists to accurately portray future events. It is hidden from them. Judgment always begins with God’s household (1 Peter 4:17)–that is, those who come in God’s name. In fact, look for the prophets of God to stir hatred from Christian leaders.

Where will prophetic truth be found? Not from proud pulpits sorry to say, but in humble places where questions are answered from Scripture, not human-authored treatises created in ivy-covered halls of academia. Look for the direction of revelation to be from the bottom up, not top down. God is revealing his Sovereign end times’ plan to children, while hiding it from the wise and learned.

 

slaves_in_egypt

When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:20-21 NIV)

While God worked to free Abram’s descendants from their misery and bring them into the Promised Land (cf. Genesis 15:13-14), the people were overcome by their fears. It seems they wanted a better life for themselves in Egypt–though they were slaves–rather than deliverance.

Earlier, God described to Moses what would happen (Exod. 4:21b): “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” Which part of harden Pharaoh’s heart didn’t Moses understand? God’s servant passed the complaint up the authority chain: Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” (Exod. 5:22-23)

For the Hebrews, they could blame God for their harsh treatment and reject his words, yet He would fulfill his gracious promise anyway (Exod. 6:6-9). It is the Lord’s pattern that things get worse–much worse–before he acts to fulfill his precious promises.

Yesterday, my late-brother’s daughter gave birth to her first child. The midwife had been carefully chosen. All was prepared for the blessed event. The baby balked at coming on time.

Days past our niece’s “due date” the labor began. Then complications. It was more than the midwife could handle. So, no water birth, but off to the hospital they went. Hard labor cast a doubt over a long-anticipated process. Would mother survive? Would baby be okay? God answered in the affirmative! It is all good now, thank the Lord! Mom and baby girl are fine.

The world laments news of one atrocity after another. With each mass shooting or bombing attack, Christians cry, “Come Lord Jesus. Come!” Do we stop and consider that, according to the Bible, labor pains then the hard labor precede Christ’s return?

Some would teach rescue precedes great tribulation, but has that ever been true of God?  For the saints, Daniel and Jesus prophesied a time of great deceit and intense persecution. This is followed by unparalleled distress (Luke 21:7-24, Matthew 24:4-25). Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3:1, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.”

Does this sound like we should be optimistic about the near future? We ought to ask “Do we want rescued or a better life in Egypt?” If you and I believe God’s Word, we prepare for the worst before the, oh, so much better. -jf

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel– let the reader understand– then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  (Matthew 24:15-16 NIV)

According to Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia, “Doomsday Preppers was an American reality television series that aired on the National Geographic Channel. The program profiled various survivalists or ‘preppers’, who are preparing to survive the various circumstances that may cause the end of civilization, including economic collapse, societal collapse, and electromagnetic pulse.”

Anyone taking the Doomsday Prepper approach in the last days is as misguided as the father who, instead of boarding Noah’s ark, moved atop a high mountain. His family may have survived a bit longer than the lowlanders, but so what! The outcome was the same (cf. Genesis 6:13).

The Bible offers God’s saints two possible escape routes: The first is specifically for his people who live in Judea (see Matthew 24:15 above), in the region of the Mount of Olives. In order to guide men and women in the Holy Land, they must be Scripture readers. Jews have the prophets Daniel and Zechariah while Gentiles also have Matthew. Those who reject the Lord’s instructions may exist a little while. Still they will perish.

In the end times, an alternate plan has been decreed for those who live among the nations: It is the “Jesus Way” (cf. John 14:6, 6:39). Like the mission God presented to Noah,  building the ark will save those who enter in. Those who believed the Word lived to see the next age. Those who trust in their own abilities and resources will perish in this present age.

Survivalists living off the land and off the grid or storing goods in a bunker will all fall short of the goal of survival. The devil would deceive us into thinking butter, bullets and beans are what’s necessary to weather any storm. This strategy is foolishly misguided.

Jesus’ Way is to form communities of sincere love, truth, endurance, sharing and mobility. As Hebrews urges, Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (10:25)

True Preppers are guided by God’s Spirit. As with the rest of the Lord’s flock, they find security in the sheepfold and eternal life in the Shepherd.

 

 

Recent posts in the “Biblical Prophecy” section of this blog should not be missed. I’m gaining a wealth of understanding from Brother Elijah’s 5-part series on Haggai.

E. ties in the prophet’s message with the end time’s in a way I’ve never heard. Great stuff. No person or scholar whom I know writes about prophecy in a more accurate and consistently insightful manner than our Brother Elijah. Consider yourself well-educated if you follow his posts.

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