Pentecost
“Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil…

“Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other. Never again will my people be ashamed.” (Joel 2:23-24, 27 NIV)

In Part 1, we argued from Scripture that the Pentecost described in Acts 2 I s a preview of a greater Pentecost coming in the last days. During the first Pentecost, Jews spoke in the tongues of all nations. In the time of the end, believers from all nations will speak a single language.

Speaking through the Prophet Joel, God said in the last days he would pour out his Spirit on all people (Joel 2:28). Before this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, He promised to send the autumn rain (see above). Abundant fall showers will produce full threshing floors (Joel 2:22-24). In the context of a great end-time harvest of grain and fruit, God promises an in-gathering of people as the Holy Spirit showers all nations. Do not miss the connection between the Spring Feast of Pentecost in the history of Acts and the Autumn Feast of Pentecost in prophecy.

According to Acts 2:41, three-thousand accepted the Apostle’s message, were baptized and added to the number of Jewish disciples. In Revelation 7:9, John’s eyes were opened to what Joel described and Peter proclaimed. Appearing in robes that gleamed white like ripened heads of wheat is a multitude too numerous to count. The harvest that is here foretold is comprised of sons and daughters, old men and young men, from every nation, tribe, language and people. Joel and Revelation 7 are in perfect harmony.

What is heard in Revelation 7:10? It is the opposite of the every language under heaven in Acts 2 during the Spring Feast of In-Gathering. In Revelation we preview the saved from throughout the earth declaring God’s glories in one language, not all languages! It is not a cacophony of tongues, but a single solitary tongue. The one voice is the evidence of a Pentecost Redux. This time it won’t be Jews filled with God’s Spirit, but all people and nations, which includes Jews. Jews are part of all. This event is set for Israel’s fall feast of In-Gathering.

What language or tongue is spoken around the Lamb’s throne and by all during the Millennium? My belief is that it will be the tongue spoken in Exodus 19, as Jacob’s descendants stood near Mt. Sinai. I am referring to the ancient language of Israel; what scholars call Paleo-Hebrew.

In “Part 3”, we will uncover more of God’s purpose for another, richer and more complete Pentecost.

” But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:5 NKJV)

In the last post we differentiated between the rapture (a physical and forceful catching away of the saints) and the resurrection (the dead in Christ transformed with a glorified body). Those who are alive at the last trump will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We also learned this transformation occurs prior to death’s ultimate defeat.

Matthew 5:18 states that Heaven and Earth disappear before the smallest part of the law goes away.  The picture then becomes clearer: after our Heaven and Earth are gone, Death and Hades are sent to the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 20:4-6 answers the question: “When does the resurrection occur?” John sees thrones and people seated on them with authority to judge. These are the souls that had been beheaded for Christ (cf: Rev. 6:9-11). They refused to worship the beast or his image, neither had they taken his mark. It is repeated so we don’t miss it: This is the first resurrection!

It cannot be denied, the Bible says the martyred souls come back to life at the start of the Millennium; the general resurrection occurs after the thousand years is passed.

By comparing Scripture with Scripture, it becomes evident the Rapture is not described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. How can so many Bible prophecy experts get it wrong? “Taken or seized in an upward direction” is not ushered into glory in a new body. Are they so married to their doctrine of any moment rapture that they deny the obvious?

When are “alive” saints changed? Revelation 20:11 informs us. Believers are glorified when the last age, the Millennium, is no more. John sees a Great White Throne and on it The Judge. Heaven and Earth flee from His face. The Greek word is pheugo (fyoo’-go) and it means “to run away, vanish, escape, flee away” (pg. 75 of “The Greek Dictionary from Strong’s Concordance” a.k.a. Strongs).

The definition that fits the above context is “to vanish”. The present heavens and earth are preserved by fire for the Day of Judgment (2nd Peter 3:7). The heavens disappear with a great noise and the elements will melt with a fervent heat (2nd Peter 3:10). To survive, those alive must be changed. How could anyone live through an inferno?

Finally, the Heavenly Jerusalem will descend on a new earth (Rev. 21:1-2). Eternity begins. As believers, this is our glorious hope. To grasp this, God’s Spirit must be our teacher. Our part is studying, comparing and examining the Word of God within its proper context. We are certain readers will arrive at the same conclusion we have: Rapture is not Resurrection.

EJ

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV).

In Part 1, we cited what many prophecy teachers claim about the Rapture. From 1 Thessalonians 4:17, the Greek word used for what we call “the rapture” is harpazo (“snatch or seize, suddenly or vehemently, i.e. to take away”, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, p. 107),.

In harpazo’s thirteen New Testament usages, it never applies to a physical change into a glorified body. Instead, it means a sudden forceful, carrying away. An objective reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 shows Paul teaching that saints who are asleep are the first, in order, to meet Christ in the clouds. Then, following that, we who are alive and remain will be taken up, seized or plucked to meet Christ in the air. The intended meaning portrays a gathering up by force. Conversely, if we were instantly changed into a glorified body, we would have the ability to ascend under our own power. Seizing or carrying away intimates a strong arm doing the lifting or snatching. Harpazo would not be the word Paul would choose, if Pre-Tribulation (PTR) teaching were true. Does this make you wonder why their scholars don’t consider this contradiction?

Prophecy teachers misinform and mislead when they insert the “resurrection teaching” of 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 into their teaching on the rapture. They are not identical events, but types, meaning they are similar in nature, but not the same. They are separated in time by just over 1000 years!

When one claims that believers are changed at the rapture when the last trump sounds (1 Corinthians 15:52), the logic becomes flawed. They are saying “this equals that”, but rapture is clearly rescue, not resurrection. There is no evidence that the trumpet call of God in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is the last trumpet. Where in Scripture is “last trumpet” a reference to the snatching up in the air at Jesus’ return?

In 1 Corinthians 15:51, Paul refers to the saints’ change from mortality to immortality, as a mystery. Paul uses the Greek word for “mystery” 21 times. It is musterion (moos-tay’-ree-on, “a secret or mystery too profound for human ingenuity”, B.A.G., p.532)

The conveyed idea is that many will not understand the truth. God must reveal it. Many will be led astray by false teaching. Paul is clear as to the order of events. “Changed” occurs at the last trumpet, when the corruptible puts on incorruption. The Bible states when this transformation happens (i.e. the mortal putting on immortality), then what is written, such as Hosea 13:14, is fulfilled. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes” (NKJV).

So when is death ultimately defeated? 1 Corinthians 15:56 teaches that the sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law. While during Jesus’ 1000 year reign on earth sin will be restricted and death delayed, both will exist. The Law must also exist since not the smallest letter or least mark will disappear from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18 ).

Our answer to the question about Death and Hades’ ultimate defeat will come next time. In Part 3, we will see another major problem PTR teachers have by confusing rapture with resurrection. EJ

” Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:17, NKJV)

The sun sets over the ocean as two lovers embrace. The waves gently roll onto the beach. The sky is clear blue and the world seems perfect for the couple. In an instant, as the man and woman peer deep into each other’s eyes, this moment of serenity turns into chaos. The woman literally vanishes and immediately, the bewildered gentleman hears screams from panicking mothers on the boardwalk. Children are gone and the sounds of a plane plummeting toward the ocean is heard. A moment of love turned into a scene of heartache, death and destruction. What caused this? Many in Christian circles would say that the Rapture of the Church had just taken place. Those adults who believed in Jesus and all children are in Glorified bodies in Heaven. Christian literature and movies have portrayed similar events. Is this Biblical?

Paul described what we call the Rapture as a catching away of believers to meet the Lord in the air (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Greek word for caught up is harpazo (har-pad’-zo). It means to seize: catch (away or up), pluck pull, take (by force). There is nothing in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that suggest believers are given glorified bodies and are in heaven. Paul says we will meet the Lord in the air. The Greek word indicates a physical gathering of the elect. When we compare this event with Matthew 24:31 we see that angels are the ones who are taking the elect of the Lord up (after the great sound of a trumpet). The saints are in physical bodies but in the air with Jesus. Now let’s look at other scriptures that use the term harpazo.

In Acts 8:26-39, we read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. The Angel of the Lord told Philip where to go and it was a divine appoinment to preach the Gospel of Salvation. The eunuch believed and was immediately baptized, then the Spirit caught Philip away (harpazo). He was bodily transported to another city, Azotus. (Acts 8:39-40). There was no resurrection into Heaven.

Paul himself says that he remembers a man 14 years earlier caught up into the 3rd Heaven (Paradise). He used the word harpazo again, yet he did not know if this was a physical or spiritual catching away. The fact is that Paul entered God’s throne but he did not have a glorified body. In fact, he is recounting this event 14 years later.

Finally, we see the term harpazo used in Revelation 12:5. The man child was caught up to God and His throne because the dragon (Satan) wanted to devour the child, who is God’s plan of salvation. This catching up is an example of rescue not resurrection. Conversely, Luke describes Jesus as being carried up into Heaven (Luke 24:51). Jesus has a resurrected body at this point and when He ascends into Heaven, the Greek word that Luke uses is anaphero (an-af-er’-o) which means to take up, bear, bring (carry, lead up, offer up). Jesus ascends with the Resurrected power He received from the Father. Harpazo, the term meaning rapture is not used.

When we follow the 5 Rules of Biblical interpretation (see definition section), truth will be realized. In the next post, I will show how 1Corinthians 15:51-52 (where believers are changed in the twinkling of an eye) is not the same event as the Rapture. It is a parallel event that follows rule 5 of Biblical Interpretation: Look for the Near/Far in Bible Prophecy. EJ

Pentecost

“…this is what was spoken of by the Prophet Joel, ‘In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people… I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ” (Acts 2:16-17a, 19-21 NIV)

On the Feast of Pentecost, as Peter explained to the Jews what they were seeing and hearing, he offered an example of the near/far prophetic. Among the major rules for Bible interpretation is this: “Look for the near/far in prophecy.” (See Book Excerpts menu above, “Rules of Interpretation”).

Applying the rules, the only way the Apostle’s words, in Acts 2:16-21, are accurately understood necessitates viewing the Holy Spirit’s power on Jesus’ disciples as historical (near), yet prophetical as well. I argue the sign of tongues in Acts 2 is a shape, shadow or pattern of a future (far) last-days’ event. What Acts gives, particularly in Chapter 2, is a description of events as they unfolded, but also a preview of signs and wonders to come.

Charismatics and Pentecostals would argue that tongues-speaking reappeared more than a century ago, or since a famous meeting in 1903 on Los Angeles’ Azusa Street. I do not dispute the charismatic experiences of my fellow believers; I do contend, however, that any claim that what we have seen in recent times fulfills Joel’s prophecy lacks Biblical support.

For instance, with the tongues of the past, has there been blood, fire and billows of smoke? Some may say “Yes, they saw all that?” Okay, perhaps, but did witnesses see the sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord (Acts 2:20-21, cf. Joel 2:31)? Come let us reason together. The celestial signs associated with Christ’s return and the Day of the Lord have not been seen. We must conclude that the tongues we may have heard was something other than what the prophets, Joel and Peter, described.

The Acts 2 harvest of souls is a type of what we’ll see, but with a phenomenal twist.

Peter alerts God’s people who are living in the last days to prepare for another, greater in-gathering (Pentecost Redux) at the fall harvest. The Acts 2 harvest of souls is a type of what we’ll see, but with a phenomenal twist. In Acts, the Spirit fell like tongues of fire on the assembled Jewish disciples, but it was during the Spring harvest festival. Christ’s followers obediently waited in Jerusalem for the Father’s promise. When they received the Spirit (Acts 1:8), they uttered the languages of all nations (Acts 2:5), for we read every people group on earth was represented. Jewish witnesses to Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension were in that moment empowered and equipped to take the Gospel out from Jerusalem and all Judea to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Witnesses in the last days will be gathered from these nations (Matthew 24:14).

Speaking through the Prophet Joel, God said that in the last days his people will rejoice in the autumn rain. Abundant showers will produce full threshing floors (Joel 2:22-24). If we believe the Word, the next abundant in-gathering will be among all nations, but during the fall festival.

In Revelation 7:9, John’s eyes were opened to the harvest Joel spoke of and is about to happen.

In that one day, according to Acts 2:41, three-thousand Jews were completed. They believed the apostle’s Spirit-filled message about their Messiah, were baptized and, later, added to the number of Jewish disciples. In Revelation 7:9, John’s eyes were opened to the harvest Joel spoke of and is about to happen. Dressed in white and appearing like sun-ripened wheat, is an innumerable multitude. The multitude is made up of sons and daughters, old men and young men. They come from every nation, tribe, language and people, both men and women. What are they doing? It is the opposite of the first Pentecost. The nations (i.e. saved people living throughout the earth) are declaring the glories of God with one voice–and in one language! (Rev. 7:10, cf. Joel 2:25-27). It is evidence of Pentecost Redux.

In Part 2, we will provide a Scriptural-supported theory regarding what language is spoken around the Lamb’s throne. We will examine God’s purpose in a second Pentecost. We will see a bit of what it means to “Completed Christians”. Get ready!

” By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city wall was broken through” (2Kings 25:3-4a NKJV).

The prototypical baseball player is one who has speed, power, the ability to hit for average, is a good fielder and whose baseball instincts are pure. Scouts would call a player like this a ” 5 tool athlete”. With a strong work ethic, this prospect can become a perennial all star and a threat against all opponents. This is exactly who a Completed Christian is.

This type of born again believer in Yeshua has the best of both worlds: Salvation through the Messiah and an understanding of how the Judaic faith is fulfilled through God’s plan of redemption. The Holy Days of Israel found in the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament) pointed to Jesus during His first advent and have completion upon His return as a conquering king. This knowledge becomes a real threat to Satan’s dark kingdom. The Old Testament becomes a blueprint for understanding future prophecy and the wise will be able to anticipate what Satan does before it happens. Below is an example.

This evening just concluded a 3 week period of mourning among the Jewish people: known as “Between the Straits.” It is a remembrance of the time the city walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Babylonians in 586 BC ( 17th day of the 4th month of the Hebrew Calendar, Tammuz) and when the temple was burned and destroyed (9th day of the 5th month, Av). (2nd Kings 25:3-12, Jeremiah 52:12-16). These events happened again on the same dates when the Romans invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the 2nd Temple in 70 AD. Why is this important to know?

This year, these dates fell between July 4th-26th of the Gregorian calendar. On July 14th, the major world powers finally came to an agreement with Iran concerning her building nuclear weapons. Part of the agreement would allow for protection of Iran’s nuclear facility while allowing the country to have its economic sanctions removed. This is dangerous for Israel as her enemy already has weapons that can attack the major cities. Is it just a coincidence that such a major agreement, which poses a huge threat to Israel, fell almost directly in the middle of this 3 week period of mourning? This is a clear sign that we are at the edge of the abyss. Iran is poised to strike at Israel and the Temple Mount will become a major target in this conflict. We can be merely a few years away from the consequences of these future attacks resulting in the intervention of a false Messiah trying to create a pseudo peace with Israel and the world.

A 5 tool Christian, becomes a major player by warning family and friends and creating a fellowship of believers ready to resist. It is time to build our ark on the Word of GOD and on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. EJ

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him.”

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you; because we have heard that God is with you.’ ”
(Zechariah 8:20-23
NIV)

By God’s design, for nearly a score of centuries, Jews have stubbornly resisted the gospel. The few who come to acknowledge Yehovah (Jesus) as their Messiah are either converted to Christianity or they become “completed Jews”. To be converted means forsaking the rites and rituals of their forefathers and adopting those of the church they attend. Forgetting the apostles and early disciples were all Jews, many Protestants and Catholics believe conversion is the only way a Jew can be saved.

Becoming a Messianic or completed Jew is the preferred alternative to conversion. A completed Jew receives Jesus as their promised Messiah and, as a result, finds new meaning in the laws, ordinances, feasts and sacrifices handed down to Israel. They do not reject their heritage; rather, the completed Jew embraces it. They discover that the New Testament sheds divine light on the (Old Testament) Scriptures (i.e. The Book of the Law and the Prophets), particularly as it relates to prophecy.

In Chapter 11, the Apostle Paul wrote to The Romans about the Jewish rejection of Christ. The chapter begins with the question: “Did God reject his people? By no means!” is the answer.

Gentiles were/are the grafted in branch until their full number is reached. Then all Israel will be saved because God’s gifts and callings are irrevocable (Romans 11:25-29). This soon-coming salvation clearly includes the Jews since they comprise two (Judah and Benjamin) of the twelve tribes of Jacob (Israel). What has not been as clear is the relationship between the Gentiles who follow Christ and the lost ten tribes of Israel. They are, in fact, one and the same. Paul refers to it as God’s mystery.

When the light goes on and Gentile believers realize they, too, are descendants of Abraham and heirs according to the promise, then perceptions of the Old Testament and the Torah radically change. So what should we Protestants by heritage, do? Should we convert to Judaism? No, that would involve too much unnecessary baggage. Becoming a completed Christian would be the wiser option. That’s what Peter, James, John, Paul, John Mark, Barnabas, Timothy, etc., were in reverse. They did not keep the Law to obtain salvation, but followed God’s statutes because they were blood-bought saints.

Prophecy, such as we read in Zechariah (see top), speaks of a glorious restored temple in Jerusalem. Ten men, representing the ten lost tribes who were assimilated by all nations and all languages, will stream to the Holy City to worship the Lord their High Priest and King. (Read Isaiah 2:1-5 in this same context.) The ten will take firm hold of the hem of one Jew’s robe pleading to go with him into the temple of God. There will be much for the Christian to learn that our Jewish brother knows.

The Prophets of God blog urges Christ’s followers to get a head start on where He is leading his people. Ditch the Christmas and Easter thing and stop calling Sunday “the Sabbath”. Instead, assimilate (put into practice) God’s laws given to the Israelites from Sinai. Get hold of a Hebrew Religious Calendar. Learn how to observe the Holy Days. Why not strive to be the first completed Christian among your friends and family? Try it and see if you are not the most blessed person you know.

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born [to the Hebrews] you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (Exodus 1:22 NIV)

A friend described a day he will never forget. While hunting for wild turkey, he noticed a hunter approach him, raise his shotgun to his shoulder, aim right at him and fire. Blown off a log by the blast, he had trouble processing what had happened. “That guy is trying to kill me,” he concluded.

My friend must have looked like a wild turkey, at least that is what the shooter said. It was a miracle his life was saved. It went into the books as a hunting accident.

Exodus 1 begins a story about God’s people leaving Egypt. After living in the land a few hundred years, the Hebrews woke one day to a different world. A new ruler was in charge, and, for some reason, they had become his enemy. Processing their new reality was hard. It was going to get rough.

But the more God’s people were oppressed the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread them (Exodus 1:12). Irrational fear of the Hebrews overtook the Egyptians. Treating them harshly as slaves compounded their fears. Pharaoh decided to take his hatred to another level. He ordered Hebrew midwives to kill the boy babies. It wasn’t enough to make their dads slaves, Pharaoh’s new plan was to destroy their sons as soon as they were born. It must have been hard for the Hebrews to accept, but their king was trying to kill them. Finally, Pharaoh ordered anyone who found a male Hebrew baby to throw him into the Nile River (above).

Adolph Hitler rose from obscurity to take leadership of the German Reich. Beginning in the 1920’s, der Fuehrer played on the Antisemitism in his country painting Jews as the chief scapegoat for the economic troubles. After he seized power, Hitler’s hatred for God’s people became more than rhetoric. It spilled over into the streets in early November 1938 during “the night of broken glass.” Thereafter, it became crystal clear Germany’s leader was trying to kill Jews as well as others who stood in his way.

Signs are everywhere that God’s people are in their government’s cross-hairs. America is a prime example. Domestic policies such as abortion, gay marriage, drug legalization, illegal immigration and euthanasia, force believers to take a stand against their government. Foreign policy decisions such as negotiating with the enemy, mistreating our friends and sending our troops to fight with no prospect of victory, all adds up to disaster. Our leaders are trying to kill us.

America has changed. Our grandparents and parents knew a different day. Authorities will deny it, but their actions show they despise God and reject his Word. They hate us without reason. Why in heaven’s name, would this be? Satan’s time is short. He is raging against the saints, is the answer.

God wants his people to cut our ties of affection and loyalty with this world. Prepare to leave Egypt. If the verbal abuse and ridicule is aimed our way, it won’t be long until the shotgun will be as well. Don’t question whether they will fire. The whole world will soon fall into the hands of the Antichrist. The Lord wants us out of our enemy’s cross-hairs and into the Promised Land.

Read prophecy for yourself. They will try to kill us. Process this. Accept the reality of what it means to live for Christ in the last days. Trust in the Lord to be our hiding place.

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of great distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered.” (Daniel 12:1 NIV)

At cruising altitude, the seat-belt sign illuminates and an announcement is heard from the cockpit. “Remain in your seats with trays in the full upright position and seat-belts tightly fastened,” the captain says. “We are flying into some turbulence. It’s gonna get rough.”

The flight had been smooth so what had changed? How does the pilot know the ride is going to become very bumpy? There must be a warning sign. Passengers would be foolish not to trust the flight crew’s message.

Much of the world is experiencing turbulence but one country in particular is in for a difficult ride. The European Union nation of Greece appears headed for economic collapse. Saturday’s overwhelming “No vote” to austerity measures and a bailout plan could signal that a government raid on private bank accounts is in the works. Three questions about the Greek crisis remain but one thing is certain, it is gonna be rough for democracies everywhere when the Athens-based government defaults on its loans and this domino falls.

Recently America has hit some bumps, but nothing compared to what’s coming. The dire warning light started flashing the moment the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in favor of recognizing (i.e. legalizing) gay marriage.

Spontaneous celebrations broke out among supporters of the homosexual agenda. Congratulations were extended at the White House. Figuratively-speaking, at the same moment the seat-belt light came on.

God’s people are heeding their Captain’s warnings and are tightening their belts. Marriage was ordained by the One on Heaven’s throne (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6). As decreed on Sinai, homosexuality is detestable to our God and invites his wrath (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:24-27).

Who will survive what’s coming? Will it be those dancing in the aisles or those ready for God’s judgment and a time of great distress? The people who have the most chance, of course, are the wise who heed God’s Word and prepare for the roughest ride ever.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. It they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken–that is created things–so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:25-27 NIV)

bluebirds-nestbox
“…my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6 NIV)

One spring, inspired by a friend, I placed a bluebird box in our backyard. The reward came in a matter of days. Two bluebirds began to gather material for their nest. I was moved to tears. I was told if I built it, they would come–and they did!

Wednesday, June 17th evening services at the U.S. Charleston, South Carolina, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) Church, had been eagerly anticipated. Inside this civil rights landmark building, a dozen happy members of the Emanuel family settled in for their weekly Bible Study. A video camera captured the image of a 21-year old white male entering the church. For an hour, the stranger sat next to the senior pastor, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, before he brandished his .45 caliber pistol and announced his intentions to shoot. His stated motive: He wanted to start a race war. All nine victims were African-American. The Charleston Church shooting was the worst mass murder at a religious site in the U.S. since 1991.

Another season of bluebird watching was underway when I noticed I had been missing my feathered friends. I thought they would have little mouths to feed and be flitting in and out of their box, but I saw nothing. Upon investigation, I saw it–bluebird feathers. Near the small front portal were scratch marks as if some claws had dug into the wood. My heart sank. It became obvious the cat ate the bluebirds.

When we took two young felines into our home then erected the box, I had no clue I was preparing a death trap, but that is what it was. Like the saints in the church in Charleston, the birds had no escape. The young intruder, Dylann Roof, saw an opportunity to do Satan’s bidding. That night, Emanuel A.M.E. became a slaughterhouse.

I refused to be a party to more bluebird deaths. The cats were staying around and they sure weren’t going to alter their appetite for birds. So a decision was made; no more box. End of story? No, the birds found a hide-out inside our grape arbor. That year they raised their young under the cover of grape leaves. Moral of the story: By removing the box, bluebirds will find a means to avoid “cat-astrophe” and multiply in the process.

In September 2013, seventy died in a Taliban shooting attack on worshipers at the Peshawar Church in Pakistan. Early April of this year 147 perished at morning prayer services as Islamic terrorists from Somalia fired on unarmed, defenseless students at Garissa University in Kenya.

I know we love our church boxes, but has it occurred to anyone they are no longer safe? Murderers have keyed in on an easy target. Wake up people! How much more elderly and child’s blood will stain the pews before we find cover outside the box? Maybe Jesus’ followers will begin again to multiply as they should.

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