“The Whites of Their Eyes”

whites of thier eyes-flattenedThere used to be an old saying, “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!” The idea was that you don’t shoot your gun till the target is close enough that you can actually see what you’re shooting at. Maybe that was what was said by military commanders 200 years ago or so.

And that principle could certainly apply to modern pronouncements on Bible prophecy. I’m appalled at times by how many people are convinced without a doubt that… (take your pick) …Obama is the Antichrist? The Pope… no, wait; Islam is the seedbed and fountain head of all evil, the primordial force of Satan in the last days? And on it goes.

“They” are out to get us. Five years ago in Houston I was in a gathering of sober and sincere Christians and we were told that the roads out of Houston would be blockaded within 6 months… 6 months I tell you!… and everyone would be corralled in FEMA camps. A very serious Christian brother was telling this to us. That was in 2009. And on it goes.

New Wolf Wolf-flatttenedAs a person who utterly believes in the coming of the Lord and that we’re very likely living in the endtime, it interests me and also saddens me that there are so very many “Wolf, Wolf” calls coming from so many Christians at this time.

The Apostle Paul said, “Judge nothing before its time…” (I Corinthians 4:5) But this admonition is rejected or forgotten by so many Christians today as they jump on their soap box or band wagon to shout the latest “warning” which ends up being another false pronouncement and false dawn of troubles to come.

Invariable there is no accountability for the false proclaimer of immediate doom. But without hesitation or twinge of conscience they’ll re-proclaim their next declaration of imminent doom for a date another 6 months away. And virtually no one calls them on it or takes note of these ones who constantly proclaim imminent woe and it doesn’t come to pass as they’ve told us it would.

And yet I don’t disagree with much of what they are saying; just the continual over-specific-ness of their declaration, plus the fact that so often they just end up plain wrong. That’s the problem.

famous failures pictureVery many see and realize that we live in dire times. But the common thing to do for many Christian commentators is to personally declare that some very short and specific length of time will expire before “the very end” is upon us. Actually I did a 7 minute video on this subject, called “Famous Failures of Prophetic Interpretation”, the link to that is here.

Like the guy said, “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes”. Jesus actually gave us some very specific things to look forward to, in the gospels, concerning the times leading up to His return. In my video series on the book of Daniel I have gone over some of those specific points, such as the appearance of “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place”. (Matthew 24:15)  This was the sign Jesus said to watch for which would mark the beginning of the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) which is said to be in a surprising number of places a length of time of 3½ years. Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29) is when He would return to gather His elect, His people.

If this is something you are interested in, perhaps you’d like to see the 40 minute video I did on the specifics and details of “the last 7 years” before the return of Jesus, as it is outlined in Daniel 9 and by the Lord Himself in Matthew 24. Here’s the link to that video on YouTube.

I utterly believe that the Bible gives us numerous things on the subject of the endtime that are solid, bedrock doctrines that completely hold up to scrutiny. But present Christian dialog among believers on the coming of the Lord is cluttered, strewn and clogged with false declarations and false declarers. It seems the gullibility of His sheep is successfully taken advantage of over and over again.

Does it matter? Can’t we just go on enjoying the latest shout of woe, regardless of whether it is founded in God’s truth and actual reality? Jesus said “It would be better that a millstone be hung about your neck and that you be drowned in the sea than that you offend one of these little ones” (Matthew 18:6), one of His searching sheep, longing for the truth and looking to what they can find in Christianity to see if the truth is there. How many are stumbled and turned away by the sensationalists with their latest announcement when they see that their prophecy of imminence fell through and they were just another empty vessel?

God help us to have a higher standard. Jesus said He was the truth. (John 14:6) The Holy Spirit is “the spirit of truth” (John 16:13). So many who are involved with teaching prophecy would do well to heed the warning of centuries ago when it comes to foretelling the future.

Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes”. Don’t keep proclaiming things that must imminently occur when you really don’t know that for certain in Him. If you have a record of yelling “Wolf, Wolf” to the extent that you stumble the weak and are a pitiful testimony of the Lord’s Word and truth, please stop for your own sake, for the sake of His sheep and for the witness of Christ that is besmirched.

Visiting Europe

This won’t be a normal blog post, just a short update. I’ve been on the other side of the Atlantic from where I am normally.The Twizy-1 Right now I’m in Gothenburg, Sweden, visiting two of my sons and their families. I landed in Oslo, Norway around 10 days ago and visited with my daughter and son and his family who all live there. And I’m planning to visit friends in Hungary before flying back to Texas.

I’d better explain about that picture there. It is actually a car, made by the French car maker Renault, called a “Twizy”. My youngest son drives it to work; it’s electric and really a novelty. I rode in the “backseat” all the way into town from the suburbs with him and it was fun. Actually, it’s closer to being like an advanced electric go-cart than a car but it’s in the classification of a motorcycle and parks in motorcycle places. People stare at you and come to talk when you get out of the car.

I’m having fun. The visit with my kids has gone really well and we’ve had a continual good level of interaction. I guess we just grow up and want to have a better time when we are together than at times in the past. Also the opportunity to get to know my little grandsons has been really nice; they are at a very sweet age in their lives and it’s been fun to be able to have time with them.

Panoramic in church-1One interesting thing that happened today was that I went with my youngest son and his wife and little boy to the kindergarten that my grandson goes to. They have recently been taking him to one run by a local church affiliated with the state church of Sweden. I was actually rather surprised as I have perhaps been a little negative or hopeless about what I have known of Christianity in this part of the world.

If you read what I wrote in “A flock of whooping cranes” last year, I mentioned in there how that for what I knew, Christianity was on its knees or beyond that in this part of the world. Well, this morning I saw that it’s not quiet that bad.young priest I ended up having a short chat with a local Swedish priest in his 30’s who is a very dedicated and committed guy who said he was called by the Lord to his place of service, almost reluctantly.

The kindergarten was full of young couples with very small children as there was a short service of children’s songs in the small church connected to the kindergarten. It was encouraging and surprising to see faith in God to be more prevalent in Scandinavia than I had thought it was.

If all goes well, I’ll be back in Austin soon and then will have more time to give to blog posts and communications. I hope you are all dong well, thanks so much for your prayers. Your friend, Mark

Acts 19 Live Class

map of EphesusI was thinking about it, there’s not hardly one chapter in the book of Acts that is not significant, full of momentous verses and truth. But perhaps Acts 19 is one of the chapters that is most like that. The audio recording of our Acts 19 live class can be heard here.

One of the first things we talked about was Acts 19:2. When the apostles first came to Ephesus, the main city of this chapter, they said to some they had met, “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” And we stayed on that subject for a while because it strongly seems to indicate that the experience of being born again (the experience of salvation) and the experience of receiving or being filled with the Holy Ghost are not necessarily the same things and can be two different experiences.

Ephesians burned their occult books after becoming Christians.

Ephesians burned their occult books after becoming Christians.

If you are really new to the Lord or maybe don’t even know if you believe in God, this could sound like something that is over your head or not even interesting. But for those who are at least a bit further along, what exactly the Holy Spirit is, which Jesus spoke so much about, is really a major thing.

So when they asked the ones in Ephesus if they had received the Holy Ghost, their reply was, “We’ve not even heard that there is a Holy Ghost!” So then the apostles asked them, “Unto what were you baptized?” And they said, “Unto John’s baptism.” (Acts 19:2&3)

To me this is fascinating stuff. It shows how fast and how far Christianity and the knowledge of Jesus had been spreading, much further and faster than the apostles themselves were moving. But in this very rapid spread, it was a somewhat hazy and incomplete gospel. The truth of the resurrection of Jesus and the name and power of Jesus were spreading like wildfire. But the full message, understanding and teaching of it all was not really there until the apostles of the Lord began to catch up with the wave that was spreading so fast.

Each city seemed to have different characteristics. This chapter deals with the witness at Ephesus and it could easily be said that this group of people and this place seemed to be one of the most spiritual that Paul ministered to. The book of Ephesians is filled with references to the spiritual world and our lives within it. Like Ephesians 6:12, for example: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We talked in the class about a little of early church history and how that one of the earliest offshoots of Christianity, which was deemed a sect at that time, sprung up in the area of Ephesus around 115 AD. The Montanists were a group of people with beliefs and customs that many see as being similar to the modern Charismatic movement, with an emphasis on spiritual gifts and prophecy. But at the time they evidently broke away from what was becoming the main body of believers, even though in later times other movements seemed to try to bring back the earliest days of the Church where the manifestations of the Holy Spirit were more a part of life of the lives of the believers.

An idol maker stirred up a city-wide riot against Paul’s teaching.

An idol maker stirred up a city-wide riot against Paul’s teaching.

This chapter has a number of somewhat “out there” verses in it. Later in the chapter there is the part where some “exorcists”, people who attempted to cast out evil spirits but were not saved Christians, attempted to try to do the same thing Paul did, but without the power and protection of God. It says in Acts 19 “The man in whom the evil spirit dwelt leapt on them and said, ‘Jesus I know and Paul I know but who are you?’”. (Acts 19:15) This is all so deep, a whole class or more could be made on just those verses. And again it’s a subject that hardly any modern church will even touch. But it’s in the Bible.

A reading of Acts 19, along with a study of the book of Ephesians, can be a really deep study and give you a perspective on how different were the places that Paul visited in his journeys. I hope you’ll be able to listen to the live class on Acts 19; it can be heard here.

The Government?

Pres ObamaI don’t usually like to write about secular and especially political things. But the other side of the coin is that many, if not most people, are largely concerned with secular and political “affairs of this life”. (II Timothy 2:4) So I’m going to share something here that’s mainly going to go against the grain of modern American Christian thinking. Because so very much talk by Christians now here in America is about how very bad our government is and how very bad our society is.

From one perspective, it’s refreshing in some ways because for generations Christians here were some of the most “Pollyanna” pro-American society folks you could find. But now so many Christians can hardly start a conversation without cursing the President and our government, saying they think this is about as bad as it can get.

You think America right now is really bad? Let me tell you about my experiences abroad for 36 years. I have utterly no regrets concerning my calling as a Christian missionary. But I can tell you, as much as I love the countries I’ve lived in and the people I’ve ministered to, the things I’ve seen and experienced can make me really appreciate the things that are in the USA right now.

Let’s say your house catches on fire. I lived 5 years in a wonderful country where, if your house is on fire, you will negotiate in your front yard with the fire department for how much you’ll pay to save your house while it burns down behind you. This was just business as usual and how it was done.

They’re doing good: pencils and paper! So many don’t have that. And it’s 60 students, sitting on the floor.

They’re doing good: pencils and paper! So many don’t have that. And it’s 60 students, sitting on the floor.

I’ve lived in at least 3 countries, large, famous “third world” countries where, if you’re an adult with children and you had any money at all, the first thing you did was put your children into private schools. The government schools in those countries, I won’t name them, were so utterly failing that it was virtually a curse to your children if you let them go to government school.

You make $3 a day to support your family.

You make $3 a day to support your family.

You as the bread winner make $3 a day. You, your wife and kids live in a two room house. You, your wife and kids ride on your 125 cc motor scooter, all 5 of you, as you wind through traffic in the capital of 20 million, but you actually are definitely middle class. And your goal is to get your kids into private school so they can get some kind of education.

American house

Lower middle class in America

How does that compare to us living here in the US? Makes you feel you have it pretty good? Many, if not most folks here, live in a house with 3 bedrooms, two baths, a front yard and a back yard, and probably you’ve got two cars. That would be in the upper 1% of so many countries worldwide. But it’s virtually lower middle class here. And yet we often complain about our society and government and think we’re really suffering.

A sin often mentioned as grieving God in the Bible was murmuring. “Neither murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” (I Corinthians 10:10) Griping, belly aching; we’re all prone to it. But it seems to be rife today among Christians, especially towards our government. Many seem to think that the democratically elected officials of this county are all that’s standing in the way of this nation’s greatness. As if changing the political party in power is what’s needed for God’s blessings to be poured out on the nation.

Working in Denmark, I drew minimum wage and still paid 50% income tax.

Working in Denmark, I drew minimum wage and still paid 50% income tax.

On the other hand, I’ve lived in “Post Christian” quasi-socialist societies in Northern and Western Europe where I had a job for a while and drew minimum wages at that job. Nevertheless I paid 50% taxes on that income as that was the minimum tax rate in that country. And yet virtually no one in that country complains about the tax rate or hardly even the government. They feel they have it pretty good and the society at large has agreed to that level of taxes. Almost all Americans pay way below 50% taxes. But it’s probably the single most  harped on issue that’s the source of unhappiness for so many Americans. We here virtually have a heart attack about the taxes we pay and make that the center of our conversations and focus in life.

The point is, for my American Christians friends, we have it really pretty good. Many now look forward to what they expect to see soon: a complete breakdown of law and order in the USA and a police state imposed after the collapse of American society and government. Maybe that will happen; I wouldn’t be real surprised.

I ate beans-flattenedBut you may come to wish that you had the days we have right now, with a government that’s trying to maintain law and order, schools that children can go to, a President that is flawed but sincere and trying, institutions that were set up over 200 years ago which have been the envy of the world since that time.

There’s a lot that is wrong here. But on the other hand, there’s really a lot that’s not as bad as others have it. And yet so many Christians bad mouth, complain and go on and on with how bad we think it is and how bad our leaders are.

Maybe some of them are. The gridlock in our government has been really disturbing and concerning. But constantly complaining and leading the charge of negativity and hatefulness should not be the place of godly Christians. “Let no corrupt communication proceed forth out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

We’ve got a lot to be thankful for. The day may soon come when we look back to these times as absolute days of heaven which will never be able to return. I suggest we count our blessings, including our government, and stay busy trying to bring souls to Him, rather than being constantly heard to be a fountain of negativity about our lot and our society.

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

It could be worse. It is in so many places around the world. It may very well be that way here before long. May we all count our blessings while we have them and not be heard to gripe and complain.

Text to “The Last 7 Years” video

[This is the text to the video “Daniel 9:27—The Last 7 Years”. To view this video, click here. Also, this blog post is longer than normal.]

D9b video text post headingHi again, I’m Mark. This video is going to be different from the ones I’ve done before. Up till now, the videos have mostly been about prophecies that have been fulfilled. This one will be about prophecies yet to be fulfilled. Also, we’ll mainly be focusing on just one verse, the last verse in Daniel chapter 9.

You might wonder why a whole video would be centered around one verse. Well, we’re first going to have a short review of what we’ve seen already in Daniel chapter 9. That way, we’ll see how much prophecy is still to be fulfilled in this last verse in the chapter. At the beginning of the chapter, we found Daniel reading the prophecies of Jeremiah which predicted a 70 year captivity for the Jewish people who’d been carried away to Babylon. Daniel had read in Jeremiah 29:10,For thus says the LORD, After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”

Daniel hands raised for D9 blog postAnd then we read that Daniel was moved to pray a very heartfelt prayer to God, for the Lord to forgive the Jews and for Him to fulfill His Word. While praying, Daniel had a visitation from the angel Gabriel who touched Daniel and then began to give him one of the most significant prophecies in the Bible. Gabriel told Daniel, “Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24)

Gabriel told Daniel of a mysterious “70 weeks” “to make an end of sins”, “to bring in everlasting righteousness”. In our last class, we saw how that this “70 weeks” spoken of here is not what we would think of in our times. The meaning seventy weeks was “70 sevens of years”. And we saw this “70 weeks” was speaking about a period of 490 years.

I’m going over this somewhat quickly and you may want to review the class that was done before this if you have questions here. After Gabriel told Daniel about the 70 weeks, he broke this down and spoke of a period of “69 weeks”, 483 prophetic years. This was to be the period of time between “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” and “Messiah the prince.”

the commandment to rebuild for D9 blog postThe commandment to restore Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes in 444 BC and Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in 33 AD. We saw in our class that the length of time between these two periods, “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” and “Messiah the Prince”, amounted to “69 weeks”, 483 prophetic years, just as Gabriel had said would happen. [For an explanation of “prophetic years”, go to the text of the previous class on Daniel, about “The 69 Weeks” which can be read here.]

Going further, the prophecy said that “after” “Messiah shall be cut off”, Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed again. This happened in 70 AD. But we still haven’t come to the conclusion of this prophecy. The 69 weeks of this prophecy were fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus. But Gabriel’s prophecy of 70 weeks, 490 years, to bring in everlasting righteousness hasn’t happened yet. There’s still one “week” left. One last 7 year period is yet to be fulfilled in this prophecy in order to bring in God’s Kingdom on earth.

And that brings us to Daniel 9:27. But this is such a key verse; it’s fundamental to most of the prophetic verses in the Bible which are still not yet fulfilled. So I think at this point we should take a brief review of the chapters we’ve studied up till now. Because, in each of those chapters, we found things that are not yet fulfilled. And each one of those parts is an integral component, a piece of the picture that Daniel 9:27 is going to help us put together.

In Daniel chapter 2, we found Daniel as a young teenage who’d been carried away to Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had dreamed a dream that he couldn’t remember. In his fury the king commanded to kill all the wise men of Babylon and Daniel was in training to be one of those. After he prayed desperately, God revealed the secret of the king’s dream to Daniel.

Dan & Neb for D9 postSo Daniel went before the king to tell him his dream. The king had seen a statue with a head of gold, arms of silver, a belly of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. Then in his dream the king saw a stone which hit the statue on its feet so that the whole statue crumbled to dust and was blown away. And the stone became a great mountain that filled the earth. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that the head of gold was his kingdom of Babylon. After him would come another kingdom, then a third and then a fourth. We now know from history that those coming kingdoms represented Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

But here’s the part that’s really for us in this class. What did that strange stone represent when it hit the statue, causing it to crumble to dust, and then the stone became a great mountain that filled the earth? What was that? Here is Daniel’s explanation of this to Nebuchadnezzar. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. And the kingdom shall not be left to other people but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

The 4 beasts of Daniel 7

The 4 beasts of Daniel 7

Those kingdoms that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream have come and gone. But that final kingdom, the coming kingdom of God on earth has not yet happened. Then, many years later Daniel himself had a similar vision, but different. In Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 he saw 4 beasts rising out of the sea: a lion, a bear, a 4 headed leopard and then a great and dreadful beast. These four represented the same 4 kingdoms, seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream decades earlier.

But we’ve found that each prophetic chapter builds on the revelations of the previous prophetic chapter and then also introduces important new elements of the future to come. In Daniel 7 we were first told of “the little horn”, the future endtime dictator that’s spoken of more clearly in Daniel 8 and then also in the book of Revelation. It says of this “little horn” (Daniel 7:8) …“he shall speak great words against the most high” and “shall wear out the saints of the most high.” And a length of time was given for this period. “They shall be given into his hand …for a time, times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25).

But Daniel 7 also, like chapter 2, had a happy ending. Verse 27 ended the angel’s explanation to Daniel when he said, “And the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

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