“…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.

” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart….. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6,8, NKJV).

Last week I texted a friend and asked him: “Why would the antichrist cause people to take a mark specifically on the right hand or on the forehead?” I left him with the following scriptures to read (Exodus 13, Deuteronomy 6 and Daniel 7:25). His response was merely: “Good question!” I followed up with him this past Sunday night over a late dinner. The answer truly reveals the evil of Satan and the antichrist. My  friend looked at me wide-eyed and made a commitment to dig deeper into scripture and particularly into prophecy.

God calls for His law (the Commandments) to be written on the hearts and minds of His people. The ordinance for Israel to follow the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread was to be a similar sign on His people’s hands and foreheads. It was to be a permanent remembrance of the goodness of the Lord and how HE delivered His people out of bondage from Egypt. So when Daniel is told that the “beast” will try to change the set times and laws (Daniel 7:25) we can know that this is Satan’s attempt to remove God out of the minds and hearts of would be believers.

We use our right hand and place it over our hearts when we make a pledge. Imagine a person proclaiming to be Jewish or Christian but following half-heartedly. It would be easy for that individual to be deceived into taking the mark. This sign comes with a pledge to worship the beast and the dragon.  The deceived is now sealed with death which will ultimately lead him/her into the Lake of Fire. (Gehenna), Christians, now is the time to fight and advance against the deviil’s armies. In the next post, I will show why the armor of God is the perfect defense against Satan’s strategies.  EJ

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with God’s people than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” (Hebrews 11:24-25 NIV)

For much of my working life, I have been around prisoners. I thank God for the experience. It has helped me understand how to better live in the present. Today is an opportunity to work, to learn and to grow–or perhaps to endure. If there is a moment of enjoyment, I try to take it in. Prison and fun are contradictions. When an inmate does not want to leave life behind bars, something is wrong.

The prisoner who struggles most is the hedonistic and self-absorbed. Another miserable bunch are the men who feel entitled. (The food is terrible, the bed is not soft enough, my family should be sending me money, people don’t treat me well, etc.) Prisoners who manage to thrive have accepted their situation and resolved to make the most of it.

I encourage believers to see the balance of this age as more like a prison than a palace. 

I love to relate prophecy to the present. I encourage believers to see the balance of this age as more like a prison than a palace. Observing current events should bear this out. “Love not the world” is a command from heaven. Everything in this world is passing away. Instead of seeing our existence as a pleasure cruise, determine to endure hardship like a good soldier. Make the most out of the time between now and when Jesus returns. Don’t just think “survive”, think “thrive”.

(During the Vietnam Conflict, I remember wishing my army drill sergeant would be more sensitive about my feelings. Sgt. Butler made it clear; he wasn’t my mother. His job was to make me tougher.  In order to survive whatever I faced, he could not pamper me.)

“In this world you shall have tribulation” are words directly from Jesus, our Commander-in-Chief. It is not in the here-and-now that we are to pursue comforts. We would be wise to pursue service–even difficult, sacrificial service.

“…the endless quest for self-gratification or vain ambitions is a mere chasing after the wind…”

If we are enjoying this dying world, something is wrong that needs corrected. There are certainly things to delight in, but the endless quest for self-gratification or vain ambitions is a mere chasing after the wind–in short, it is meaningless.

Moses saw the opportunity to suffer along with God’s people and by faith he seized it. If we are enjoying this present time, we may be hitching our lives to the temporal. We need to look beyond our lives and show love to the hurting.  Promised “pleasures forevermore” implies God’s true rewards come later, not with retirement, but after our work is done.

“Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your descendants forever. I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17 NIV)

Why all the hostility directed at a nation with an area about the size of the fifth smallest U.S. state, New Jersey? Why the threats of annihilation from their Middle East neighbors? Why are military leaders with weapons of mass destruction and their surrogates targeting a people? Of course I am referring to the six million plus Jews within the country of Israel and members of the their family scattered abroad.

Bible students eventually learn that the answers to most big questions are in Genesis. Enmity or a state of war would be a promised constant between the serpent’s and woman’s offspring (cf. Genesis 3:15). The devil hates God’s people. He always seeks their destruction. It was true in the beginning and is today. Want to know who belongs to God? Pay attention to who suffers the attacks and persecutions of the wicked.

It’s about the people! The people who trace their ancestry back to Abraham. In Genesis 12 the Lord promised “a great nation” would come from his servant. In order to be “great” there must be a great ruler over an innumerable multitude of happy, prosperous people who have lots of children. Also needed was spacious, beautiful and fertile land for all the people to enjoy.

Abram was to take his household and possessions and go, to sojourn among the Canaanite tribes. A solemn vow came later, in Genesis 13. (See top.) God would supply the descendants. As to the land, as far as Abraham could walk in any direction it would be his possession and that of his descendants, forever. From the great river Euphrates to the Wadi in Egypt, the land belongs to the sons of Abraham and their King (Gen. 15:18-21). This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, but it will soon (cf. Acts 1:6, Rev. 11:15, 22:20)

Blessed are those who bless Abram. Cursed are those who curse him. We do not have to be a genius to know what all the conflict and global violence is about. It’s about the saints who will soon inherit the land. Those who believe God’s Word understand the track of doom America and Europe are following. Support Israel’s enemies and feel God’s wrath.

Wake up! Stand firmly on the side Abram’s offspring. By doing so we demonstrate we belong among the despised of this world, God’s chosen people.

” Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you- The former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” (Joel 2:23, NKJV)

In my last post, “Pentecost and Prophecy”: I ended with a teaser that I would look at the potential timing of the next outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit was realized in Acts 2 when what appeared as tongues of fire came down on the apostles and other disciples. Peter quoted from the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-32) and on this day some 3000 repented and was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the Remission of Sin. This monumental event was fulfilled on the Spring Harvest Day of Pentecost (Shavuot). This was the former rains that Joel spoke about, the rains needed before the spring harvest. What about the latter rains?

The latter rains represent the Fall Harvest and the NKJV mentions that this is in the first month of Hebrew (Civil) Calendar. This month is called Tishri and the 15th-21st days of this month is known as Sukkot (Fall Harvest). Since there was a literal outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost, we must know that there will be a future fulfillment of the coming of the Holy Spirit that coincides with the latter rains. We can know this because God keeps His Word always! Many prophecies are fulfilled within a reasonably short time of the original prophecy. Yet, there is also an end of the age fulfillment. This is called the Near/Far Prophetic.

By understanding the meaning of the spring and fall rains, we know that there will be a greater harvest of souls during the celebration of Sukkot. Jesus also tells us to learn the lesson of the fig tree as a sign of a season before His return.(Matthew 24:32-35). The fall rains lead to the harvest of figs. The fig harvest is on Sukkot (Late September/early October). Expect an End of the Age pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

“Surely the eyes of the LORD are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth–yet I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the LORD. “For I will give the command, and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, ‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’ ” (Amos 9:8-10 NIV)

Reading Revelation invokes a promised blessing. We are doubly blessed if we take the prophecy to heart. The reason why is given: “Because the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3).

Past the middle of the book is a warning that needs to be taken to heart. It involves an evil figure who will dominate the landscape.

“He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

He who has an ear to hear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. (Rev. 13:7-10 NIV)

Here we have in the Word of God a book to which the Lord has attached blessings and curses (cf. Rev. 22:18-19). In it we are forewarned of an unparalleled disaster and time of distress for the saints. The problem is this: The Church is populated with Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) and Amillennialist teachers who make irrelevant the above prophecy. Many, if not most of the PTR promoters, tell their flock the rapture occurs at the beginning of Revelation 4. They say that in verse 1 a voice calls to John, “Come up here.” So that is it. That’s the rapture in the Bible’s last book. (TV Pastor and evangelist John Hagee is prominent among this group.)

In other words, Pastor Hagee’s flock is supposedly gone before the opening of the seven seals in Chapter 6 and assuredly absent when the antichrist rules in Chapter 13. Those following this Christian teacher–and others like him–have become convinced Christians will not be overtaken by disaster. They believe they will be in heaven wearing crowns after Chapter 4. Then who are “the saints” in 13:7? Who are “the saints” “killed with the sword” in Revelation 13:10?

Though Amillennialists often scoff at the PTR crowd, they are really in the same boat. Little attention is paid by this segment of Christianity to prophecy period. Though, infrequently, they may cherry-pick a verse from Revelation to buttress their teaching, they more or less erase all the warnings. How so? By declaring that Revelation is an allegory or symbolic. Millions of Christians under their influence have swallowed the lie that “Disaster will not meet us.”

What does God call his people who reject a literal judgment or a physical Coming of Christ? Through the prophet Amos, He calls them “sinners”. (See Amos 9:10 at top)

Of course, an Amillennialist could try to make “die by the sword” symbolic. A symbolic sword won’t hurt so much. For my Bible-believing PTR Christian brothers and sisters, I go to my knees. Please, please, question your false prophet teachers. Prepare for the day of disaster before you taste the blade.

” And it shall come to pass afterward that I shall pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions and also on My menservants and My maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29 NKJV)

Sunday, May 24th marks the Christian celebration of Pentecost. From Saturday, May 23rd (at sunset) until sundown May 24th, the Jewish celebration of Pentecost will be observed. This is a special year, because both observances are very rarely on the same day.

Nearly 2000 years ago, God poured out the Holy Spirit on the multitude who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the spring harvest. The apostle Peter, a Galilean, was speaking, yet everyone from many nations heard the powerful message in his/her native language.(Acts 2:1-47). Peter quoted a prophecy from Joel and the near fulfillment of this prophecy is what we celebrate as Pentecost. Tongues of fire rained down from Heaven filling the apostles and others in the upper room with the Holy Spirit.

Peter proved from the prophesies of Joel that this event would happen. He also showed that the one who was crucified and resurrected was indeed Jesus. (Psalms 16:8-11). The Word of God cut through the multitude and many cried out. Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of the Jesus Christ and 3,000 souls were added to God’s family. (Acts 2:37-40). These new believers followed in the doctrine and fellowship of the apostles. The power of the Lord revealed itself as the apostles performed signs and wonders. The growth of the church occurred on this Holy Day. Will it happen again?

Joel speaks of God providing both the former and latter rains. (Joel 2:23). This refers to the spring and fall rains needed for the seasonal harvests. The fall harvest is Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. God works through His Holy Days, so expect a 2nd and even greater outpouring of the Spirit during this great celebration (which also is the fig harvest). In the next post, I will show how prophecy places this event shortly before the Return of our King. EJ

“For I will give the command, and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, “Disaster will not overtake us.” (Amos 9:9-10 NIV)

If we are to understand each other, we need to define our terms the same way. I define Amillennialism as the end-times view that utilizes allegory or symbolism to explain Bible prophecy. (In the Greek, the “A” negates what follows, so A-millennial means “without” a millennium or “no” thousand years.) So, when Revelation 20:4-6 clearly states that in the next age Christ will rule for 1000 years, Amillennialists argue against Christ’s coming kingdom as a literal future event. To their esteemed scholars, I ask , “What if you are wrong?”

Who am I to ask such a question? I realize I am addressing some of the most brilliant theological minds on the planet. In the past, I studied under a few of them. They argue “transubstantiation vs. consubstantiation” and speak of “supralapsarianism” as if it were a common topic. Intellectually, these teachers of the Sovereignty of God are unsurpassed. Their roots are in the reformers of the 16th century who declared “Sola Scriptura” (only Scripture has authority).

Millions of Christians listen regularly to Amillennialist teachers and pastors that deny God will do what he said. They fervently reject God’s solemn promise to David that he will forever have a descendant enthroned over the house of Israel (2 Samuel 7:16, 2 Chronicles 6:10, 15, Acts 1:6). Do these promoters of the doctrine that God has “replaced” the house of Israel with the Church, dare charge the Sovereign Lord with speaking falsely? Do they think they can state with impunity that God lies or changes his mind? “Does he [the Lord] speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19NIV)

If the Lord Jesus declared “I am coming soon!” three times within the last fifteen verses of Scripture, will he not do what he said?

Teachers of prophecy should always ask themselves: “What if I’m wrong?” Those in the Amillennial camp–or Pre-tribulation Rapture (PTR) camp–contend that no disaster or great tribulation will overtake them.

Speaking through the prophet Amos (above), the Lord called the “disaster deniers” sinners. If they are wrong, according to Scripture, then the sword will devour them.

I say to believers everywhere: “Prepare for an imminent catastrophic turn of events, a time that will try the souls of men.” If I am wrong, it is because I take God at his word. I can live with the consequences of believing the Word of God. Some very smart people may have to die as a consequence for not believing their Bible.

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV),

America is on life support for a boatload of reasons, in my view, the most threatening to its continued existence is its idolatry. According to the prophet Ezekiel, this seductive form of evil is what did the city of Sodom in (Ezek.16:49). In one way it is manifest as good, old materialism. In another way it appears as the modern-day “cult of celebrity”. Yes, idolatry has even spread its fancy facade over many a Christian Church.

Large sanctuary, theater seating for thousands, a house packed with enthusiastic people, a jumbo tron screen, contemporary music pulsating from the speakers plus a rock star pastor with a dynamite message; it all equals Mega-Church. It doesn’t get any better than that–not as far as the American dream church is concerned. Ever wonder how the Apostle Paul would have fared as a preacher with a TV ministry? How would he have reacted after sitting in on a star-studded service? Or what if Jesus took in a Sunday Spectacular, would he be impressed by the size of the offering?

I ask these questions because someone must. Idolatry that the typical American Christian practices in their worship is rooted in a purposeful ignorance of the prophetic. Maintaining the fancy facade is more important than accurately interpreting Scripture’s future events. The false views of Amillennialism and Pre-tribulation Rapturism (PTR) dominate the contemporary church landscape, simply because both positions cater to the idolator, rather than condemning the practice. Do we need tio be reminded that idolatry is an abomination to God?

False prophets seldom stray from their standard message: “Peace and Safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Their “Don’t rock the boat” attitude encourages the faithful to invest in the new Porsche or fine-tune the golf game as long as the tithes and offerings keep coming. The not-so-subtle message is that God wants his people to be rich so the new multi-million dollar “Welcome Center” can be paid off ahead of schedule.

What about completing the Great Commission instead? The absence of sound Bible-teaching on prophecy eliminates a sense of urgency to get off our padded pew and take the Gospel to the world.

If we flew into Houston, Atlanta or Dallas for a visit at an internationally-recognized church, what Scripture would be heard over the state-of-the-art sound system? Would the prophet’s warning below from the Book of James light up the giant screen?

“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh with fire. You have hoarded wealth for the last days… You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. (James 5:1-3, 5 NIV)

Look for God’s prophetic word to soon expose the false prophet and fracture the fancy facade of a fake church.

“…so is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV)

For over 470 years, Calvin’s “Institutes” has served as a textbook for students of Systematic Theology. It has guided a major branch of Protestantism on God’s Sovereignty, Christ’s salvation, and a host of other doctrinal points. It might be surprising that a minute fraction of “Institutes” is dedicated to the subject of God’s sovereignty in prophecy Revelation (cf. 11:15-18).

My answer as to why prophecy was nearly irrelevant to Calvin, Luther, Knox and other great Christian Reformers, is this: Their teaching had another purpose. The Spirit veiled their minds. Only now, in the latter days, are the prophets’ words being unsealed. Those receiving insight today are motivated by the same Spirit that stirred Daniel to read Jeremiah (cf. Dan. 9:1-3). Those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying have focused their attention on Christ’s repeated admonition, “I am coming soon!” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20)

So shall the Lord’s word be that came from his mouth. He is coming soon! Tragically, multiplied millions of Christians following the instruction of the Great Reformers and their disciples, do not believe what Jesus has said. Teachers who are steeped in Calvinism have erased the plain meaning of foretold events by rejecting a literal interpretation of Scripture and injecting symbolism. They refuse to examine prophecy in its context or compare a passage with all other relevant passages. This highly intellectual, academically-trained multitude forgo accuracy by ignoring the near/far prophetic in Scripture. One could say they have thrown out the major rules for Bible interpretation to promote their theology.

Beginning with the 4th century and St. Augustine, Christians began to fall in love with human reasoning, intellect and thoughts. With all his brilliance, Augustine had also developed an antisemitic theology. (I have written of this at length in Key 22 of “The People of God”.)

“Amillennialism”, the widely-held view that the Millennium, Christ’s thousand-year reign (Rev. 20:4-6, Acts 1:6), is not a literal future event, came about by Augustine’s influence. Christ’s coming was to be understood only in spiritual terms. As a result, the Catholics and mainline Protestants Augustine influenced have embraced an “allegorical” (a good vs. evil tale) view of Revelation and prophecy.

Augustine’s anti-Jew sentiments gave birth to “Replacement Theology”. As far as God’s promises to Jacob’s offspring are concerned, the inheritance now belongs to Gentile Christians.

Catholics and Protestants have been guilty of terrible atrocities against the House of Judah. This is attributable to their Satanically-inspired belief that God has forever cursed the Jew. Within a segment of Presbyterianism, a virile strain of hatred for Israel exists. Their god is indeed antisemitic.

Lord, deliver your people from this and other lies. Open the ears and eyes of your true saints before it is too late. As you did with Simon, rebuke these misguided teachers. They do not utter the Father’s thoughts nor do they express his heart. Instead, they exalt the ideas of men (Matt. 16:23).

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