“Famous Failures of Prophetic Interpretation”

Manor house & people new try YouTube front page-flattenedI guess everyone has heard about times in history when someone has pointed out something they thought was just about to happen, because they felt Biblical prophecy was just about to be fulfilled. That happened one time as a direct result of misunderstanding something that’s in Daniel chapter 8.  (This article is the text of a video on this subject. The video can be seen here.)

The 1840’s was a time of tremendous change. The Industrial Revolution was changing the order of society as it had been for many hundreds of years. Science was making tremendous strides in understanding God’s creation. And politics and nationalism were bringing huge change around the world.

One new religious movement at that time saw the changes going on as a sign of the soon coming of God’s Kingdom on earth. This group often talked about the return of Jesus. And you could say, “Well, Mark, that sounds a good deal like what you’re doing.” And you might be right. So, I’m sharing this with you as a warning in some ways, both to you and to me. Because, as much as I believe in prophecy, I also know it’s possible to misinterpret things in the Bible.   So this group, back in the 1840’s, looked at some of these verses we’ve been reading, specifically Daniel 8:13 and 14, which say

Then I heard one saint speaking; and another saint said to that certain one who spoke, “How long will be the vision, concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?” And he said to me, “Unto two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”

These verses are rather mysterious and I’m not in any way wanting to make fun of what happened. But these folks back then misinterpreted those verses and ended up being embarrassed and needing to make some difficult explanations. Here’s what happened.

A very key event occurred in the history of the Jews, during the time of their captive in Babylon and the beginning of their return to Israel. Some historians have set the date of that event at 544 BC. Setting the exact date on this and explaining the details and specifics are complicated and I won’t go into it here since it’s part of the class on Daniel chapter 9.

1844-merged-for blog postBut this Christian religious movement in the 1800’s came to the incorrect conclusion that “2300 days” in Daniel 8:14 actually means 2300 years. So they did their math. Using an approximate date of 544 BC, adding an additional 2300 years would mean that these verses in Daniel 8 tell us that the Kingdom of God would be set up in …1844!

The 1840’s were not a particularly traumatic time for people living in the United States. But for Europeans, the 1840’s were a time of revolution and major social dishevel in many countries. Well, this religious group I mentioned, spread out in many lands, came down to a fateful night in October of 1844 when they went up on their housetops to welcome the return of Jesus.Manor house & people-flattened

But, Jesus didn’t come back that night and that whole denomination was mocked and ridiculed.  It didn’t end there. Years later a new denomination was started. They looked over the mistakes the other group made and came up with a new idea. They saw places in the Bible that used the number “70”. And they added 70 more years onto 1844. That would mean that the coming of the Lord would actually be in…1914!

1914-merged- for blog postWell, 1914 was a very significant, turbulent year to say the least. It was the beginning of World War I, a war unlike any other before it. Also, in the fields of science, culture, business and technology, things were changing incredible fast. But, the Lord didn’t return in 1914. So they ended up saying that actually Jesus did return that year to the earth. But that He’s now presently “in the clouds”, looking over the judgment books. And honesty, if you keep up with these kinds of things, this type of prophetic interpretation is happening in our times just as much if not more than it was 100 years ago.

Sadam Hussein2-for blog postRemember Saddam Hussein? At the time of the Iraq war, there were all kinds of web sites and commentators saying that Saddam Hussein was the Biblical Antichrist. And the modern nation of Iraq was the fulfillment of Babylon the Great from Revelation 18. Websites and airwaves were full of those kinds of twisted, opportunistic interpretations of Bible prophecy, often for political motives and secular agendas.

We believers are supposed to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But that doesn’t mean we’re to be naive, gullible and easily manipulated.

I believe it’s important to be very realistic and cautious about interpreting God’s Word. There’s just a real danger in getting overly specific about soon-coming events through a misapplication and misinterpretation of ancient Bible prophecy, especially if politics or nationalism is using Bible prophecy for their own secular ends. Not only can you just being totally wrong, you can do enormous damage to the faith of millions of people, the “multitudes in the valley of decision”, as the Prophet Joel talked about.

There are so many people today “in the valley of decision” who sense the truth and want to learn more. But when they’re stumbled by false teaching and prophetic interpretations that prove false, they turn away from God and search elsewhere for the truth they’re seeking.  That’s heartbreaking and must grieve the heart of the God of Abraham for any of us to do that. On the other hand, simply because mistakes like this have been made, it doesn’t take anything away from the certainty of prophecy. But it’s a serious, sober warning to us all to not teach speculation and hypothesis as something that we should take as absolute gospel truth.

Daniel First

Daniel Night for blog postIf you were going to build a house, would you start by putting shingles or tile on the roof? Would you start by painting or by putting in the windows? Of course not. But the sad state of prophetic teaching about the endtime by so many Bible teachers seems to go that direction. And sometimes it just ends up being a mess and incoherent, far from “sound doctrine“. (Titus 2:1)

Matthew 24 15-d for blog postTo build a house, you’d start out with the foundation, then the framework, the walls and last would be the finishing touches. Jesus Himself pointed His disciples to the Book of Daniel and told them, “Whoever reads it, let him understand”. (Matthew 24:15) This was when He was teaching about the events prophesied in the Bible as leading up to the coming Kingdom of God on earth,

But how many Bible teachers today really start there?  Sadly, so often their first and only stop is into the book of Revelation. And then they often get off on some tangent or just end up teaching things that might look nice or sound exciting but just isn’t on the rock of the foundation of endtime truth. It’s like they started painting and roofing before they got the basics of the house up.

This morning someone sent me a link on YouTube about Bible prophecy.  The dear teacher was instructing us that the Trumpets of Tribulation and the Bowls or Vials of Wrath are actually the same thing. I didn’t get much past that point. I guess for me, instead of attacking and criticizing what I sometimes find in the prophetic teaching of others, instead I’ve just tried to keep my “shoulder to the boulder” in continuing to get out this series of videos on the book of Daniel. If this is a subject that’s interesting to you and perhaps you know a good deal about, you might find the last class I did, about Daniel chapter 9 and “The Last 7 Years” to be interesting. You can see that video here.

foundations-flattenedTo paraphrase Paul, I believe God is the “wise master builder who has laid the foundation”. (I Corinthians 3:10) And I believe that the foundation that was laid for the picture of the endtime that He put forth in the book of Daniel is not going to be discarded or overturned by the last book in the Bible, Revelation.

Daniel smiling with Gabriel for D9 blog postIt all fits wonderfully together, both the information God gave in the Old Testament, primarily through the prophet Daniel, then what Jesus taught about the matter in Matthew 24 and the places Paul talked about the subject, like in II Thessalonians. There are other places as well but I’m just hitting the highlights here. All these things are the building that was done by God through the Scriptures, “line upon line, precept upon precept.” (Isaiah 28:10)

And when we come to Revelation, we find that God continues to build on the same story and the same house, not that He throws out the whole thing and starts over. He doesn’t expect us to build our whole endtime theology around what we find in Revelation, any more than a builder would build his house out of material brought to the building site for the doors, windows and roof.

I guess I get a little incensed. I think of all the poor souls trying to make sense out of it all. How difficult it must be to understand any of this if someone is not building their teaching on the foundation that God has been laying out for us over many centuries, not only just on the revelation that God gave John on the isle of Patmos.

But it’s in a sense good. It motivates me to “press in” all the more to try to put out what I believe is the original plan and teaching that was found at various times in the teaching of the Early Church and with Bible scholars down through the centuries. And by the way, I really don’t think that the 7 trumpets of Revelations 8 and 9 are the same thing as the vials of Wrath in Revelation 16. First things first. Otherwise it can get confusing and “God is not the author of confusion.” (I Corinthians 14:33) Thanks for your prayers for this video project, “If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalms 11:3)

 

Memperkenalkan Nubuatan Di Dalam Sejarah (Indonesian)

Bahasa Indonesia  

Video pertama dari rangkaian Nubuatan nabi Daniel sudah selesai. Yang ini dalam Bahasa Inggris berjudul “Pendahuluan dari Nubuatan dalam Sejarah”. Versi bahasa Inggrisnya dapat di lihat  di sini.

Banyak orang tidak tahu apa nubuatan Alkitab itu. Saya juga tidak tahu sampai suatu perubahan besar terjadi dalam hidup saya ketika saya mendapati bahwa Tuhan itu nyata dan dunia spiritual eksis. Setelah itu saya menjadi orang Kristen dan mendapatkan kejutan ketika membaca Alkitab, terutama tentang wahyu yang luar biasa dari nubuatan Alkitab.

Jadi, dalam mengerjakan rangkaian nubuatan dari nabi Daniel, saya rasa ada baiknya untuk terlebih dahulu menyajikan fenomena dari nubuatan dalam Alkitab, selain juga latar belakang singkat dari sejarah Israel kuno. Sejarah adalah latar belakang di mana nubuatan dari para nabi menonjol sebagai rambu dan tanda-tanda akan masa depan.

Video dalam Bahasa Indonesia yang berikutnya diambil dari Kitab Daniel pasal ke-2. Mudah-mudahan video ini sudah dapat ditayangkan beberapa bulan lagi. Tuhan memberkati!

English

I’ve been able to complete the first video in Indonesian of the Prophecies of Daniel series. This one in English  is “An Introduction to Prophecy in History”. This can be seen here in English.

Many people don’t know what Bible prophecy is. I didn’t until I had a big change in my life when I found out that God is real and the spiritual world really exists. Later I became a Christian and was so surprised when I read the Bible, especially the marvelous revelations of Bible prophecy.

So, in doing this series on the prophecies of Daniel, I felt it would be good to first present the phenomenon of Bible prophecy, as well as a brief background of the history of ancient Israel. History is the backdrop against which the prophecies of the prophets stand out as beacons and signposts of the future to come.

The next Indonesian video will be about chapter 2 of the book of Daniel. I hope to have that video out in the next months. God bless you.”

Книгата на Даниел глава 2 (Bulgarian)

български

Това е моето второ видео на български от серията “Пророчествата на Даниил”. Даниил 2 глава се счита от много учени от различни вероизповедания за най-кратката и синтезирана картина на историята и бъдещето на света в цялата Библия. Тази глава е основата, от която ние можем да разберем много пророчества изпълнени в миналото, както и да видим какво още има да се изпълни в идните дни.

Винаги ми е изглеждало, че тази глава е преднамерено написана от Бог като лесна първа стъпка по пътя на пророчеството. Тя е подготовка за по-трудни пророчески глави като Даниил 7 глава. Тя е главата, с която ще започнем наистина да се изкачваме по планината на пророчеството.

Английската версия на това видео, “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, може да се види тук. Първото видео от тази серия, “Пророчества изпълнени в историята”, може да се види тук. Надявам се вие и вашите приятели да получите голяма полза от тези видео уроци върху Библейските пророчества.

English

Daniel Chapter 2 is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. This chapter is in many ways the foundation on which we can understand the many fulfilled prophecies of the past, as well as see what still is to be fulfilled in times soon to come.

It has often seemed to me that this chapter was intentionally designed by God as an easy first step along the path of prophecy. It’s like a preparation for the more advanced prophecy chapters, such as Daniel chapter 7. That chapter is where we will begin to really climb up into the mountains of prophecy.

The English version of this video, “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, can be seen here.  The first Bulgarian video in this series, “Пророчества изпълнени в историята”, can be seen here. I hope you and your friends will enjoy and benefit from these videos on Bible prophecy.

Cartea lui Daniel Capitolul 2 (Romanian video)


Romanian
Aceasta este cea de-a doua înregistrare în limba română din seria profețiilor lui Daniel. Capitolul 2 al cărții profetului Daniel este considerat de către erudiții de seamă din aproape toate confesiunile drept perspectiva cea mai concisă și mai obiectivă din Biblie asupra istoriei și a viitorului lumii. Acest capitol este, din multe puncte de vedere, temelia de pe care putem înțelege atât multitudinea de profeții împlinite din trecut, cât și a celor care urmează încă să se împlinească în viitorul apropiat.

De multe ori am avut impresia că acest capitol a fost conceput de către Dumnezeu în mod intenționat ca un prim și ușor pas pe drumul profeției. Este ca o pregătire pentru capitolele mai avansate din domeniul profeției, ca, de exemplu, Daniel capitolul 7. De-abia din acel punct putem spune că am început cu adevărat să urcăm pe muntele profeției.

Versiunea în engleză a acestui capitol, intitulată “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, poate fi accesată aici. Prima înregistrare în limba română din această serie, “O încadrare a profeției în istorie”, poate fi vizionată aici. Sper că atât voi, cât și prietenii voștri să vă bucurați și să profitați de aceste înregistrări video pe tema profeției biblice.

English

This is the second video in Romanian of the Prophecies of Daniel series. Daniel Chapter 2 is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. This chapter is in many ways the foundation on which we can understand fulfilled prophecies of the past, as well as see what still is to be fulfilled in times soon to come.

It has often seemed to me that this chapter was intentionally designed by God as an easy first step along the path of prophecy. It’s like a preparation for the more advanced prophecy chapters, such as Daniel chapter 7. That chapter is where we will begin to really climb up into the mountains of prophecy.

The English version of this video, “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, can be seen in here. The first Romanian video in this series, “O încadrare a profeției în istorie”, can be seen in here. I hope you and your friends will enjoy and benefit from these videos on Bible prophecy.

El Libro de Daniel Capítulo 2 (Spanish)

Español

Daniel Capítulo 2 es considerado por los estudiosos de casi todas las religiones por ser la imagen general más breve y  concisa de la historia y el futuro del mundo en toda la Biblia. Este capítulo es, en muchos sentidos la base sobre la cual podemos entender las muchas profecías cumplidas del pasado, así como ver lo que aún está por cumplirse en los tiempos por  venir.
Muy a menudo me ha parecido que este capítulo, fue diseñado intencionalmente por Dios como un primer paso fácil a seguir  lo largo del camino de la profecía. Es como una preparación para los capítulos  proféticos  más avanzadas, como Daniel capítulo 7. Ese capítulo es donde vamos a empezar a subir muy arriba en las montañas de la profecía.

La versión en Inglés de este video, “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, se puede ver aquí. El primer video español de esta serie, “La Profecía Bíblica de la Historia”, se puede ver aquí. Espero que usted y sus amigos puedan  disfrutar y al mismo tiempo  beneficiarse de estos videos sobre la profecía bíblica.

English

Daniel Chapter 2 is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. This chapter is in many ways the foundation on which we can understand the many fulfilled prophecies of the past, as well as see what still is to be fulfilled in times soon to come.

It has often seemed to me that this chapter was intentionally designed by God as an easy first step along the path of prophecy. It’s like a preparation for the more advanced prophecy chapters, such as Daniel chapter 7. That chapter is where we will begin to really climb up into the mountains of prophecy.

The English version of this video, “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, can be seen here.  The first Spanish video in this series, “La Profecía Bíblica de la Historia”, can be seen here. I hope you and your friends will enjoy and benefit from these videos on Bible prophecy.

 

(Romanian) Textul a “O încadrare a profeției în istorie”

[Aceasta este varianta scrisă a înregistrării cu titlul “O încadrare a profeției în istorie“.]

Romanian thumbnail for ITPIHVreau să vă vorbesc despre ceva deosebit ce mi-a marcat în mod special viața. Este vorba despre profeții. E un subiect amplu. La auzul cuvântului „profeție,” diferite gânduri trec prin mintea fiecăruia, așa că am să explic la ce mă refer. Am să vă spun câte ceva despre mine, ca să înțelegeți de ce mă ineresează acest subiect.

M-am născut în Texas și am ajuns să merg la facultate fără să fi înțeles sau să mă fi interesat vreodată lucrurile spirituale. Devenisem ateu și făceam tot ce puteam să întorc de la credință pe oricare ar fi avut vreun fel de credință în Dumnezeu.

Printr-un complex de evenimente am ajuns în punctul în care a trebuit să recunosc… că există o dimensiune spirituală. Nu vroiam să devin “habotnic”, dar știam, îmi dădusem seama, că există o dimensiune în care se găsesc și spirite bune, și spirite rele.shot of me at firstEu vroiam să fiu cu cele bune.

Căutările mele m-au adus în contact cu diferite grupuri și, astfel, am întâlnit alți tineri, creștini cu vederi radicale sau, „Țicniții lui Iisus”, cum erau numiți pe atunci iar ei au reușit să mă ajute să înțeleg adevărurile din Biblie. Dumnezeu a folosit această împrejurare ca să îmi ofere un nou început și, pînă la urmă, mi-am dedicat viața în slujba Lui. Am trăit peste hotare mai bine de 30 de ani și m-am bucurat de o viață minunată, lucru pentru care sunt foarte recunoscător.

Deci, când vorbesc despre profeție, mă refer, de cele mai multe ori, la profeții din Biblie. Pe asta vom pune accentul în această serie de studii. O să ne ocupăm de profetul Daniel din Vechiul Testament. De fapt, când Iisus a fost întrebat despre viitor, l-a menționat în mod specific pe profetul Daniel. A spus: “Când veți vedea (evenimentele viitoare)… despre care a vorbit profetul Daniel (cine citește să înțeleagă)…” (Matei 24:15)

Îmi închipui că unii dintre cei care se uită la acest program au aflat destule despre acest subiect și de-abia așteptați să intrăm în detalii. Alții nu cunosc mai nimic despre toate acestea. Vreau să me adresez și unora, și altora, dar dacă ar trebui să aleg între cele două categorii, prefer să mă adresez celor pentru care acesta este un subiect nou. Așa eram și eu până când am ajuns aproape la maturitate. Acesta este, probabil, unul dintre motivele pentru care vreau ca și voi să bucurați de încântarea de a cunoaște adevărurile din cartea lui Dumnezeu, Biblia.

Acum, poate că unii dintre voi se întreabă: “Ce mai este și profeția?” Vă gândiți că, „da, sigur, sigur, într-o bună zi lumea se va sfârși și chestii din astea.” Așa credeam și eu cândva și totul mi se părea bizar și chiar stupid.

Bethlehem for blog postBun! Haideți să vedem dacă există ceva despre care a auzit fiecare dintre cei care se uită la acest program și care a fost profețit cu sute de ani înainte de a se întâmpla. Putem spune cu siguranță că fiecare dintre cei care urmăresc acest program au auzit despre Crăciun. Știți că de Crăciun oamenii cântă colinde. Se sărbătorește nașterea lui Iisus și ați văzut imagini cu Maria și Iosif și cu pruncul Iisus.

Romanian Jerusalem map for blog postAți auzit, probabil, un vechi colind, nu prea pot eu să îl cânt, dar e cam așa: “În seara de Crăciun venim/ La Vilflaim, la Viflaim/ Pe pruncul sfânt să-L preamărim/ La Viflaim, la Viflaim.

Acest colind este despre orășelul Betleem, de lângă Ierusalim, unde s-a născut Iisus. Poate că deja știați că acolo s-a născut, sau poate vă amintiți că ați mai auzit undeva de asta.

Probabil că cunoașteți măcar câte ceva despre acest subiect. Bun, haideți să ne uităm în Biblie. Haideți să ne uităm în Vechiul Testament, în cartea profetului Mica. Romanian Micah 5-2 for blog postLa mine în Biblie scrie că această carte a fost scrisă în jurul anului 700 Î.Hr. O să citim capitolul 5, versetul 2. Este ca și cum vocea lui Dumnezeu se adresează orașului sau sătucului Betleem. Spune “Și tu, Betleeme Efrata, măcar că ești prea mic între cetățile de căpetenie ale lui Iuda, totuși din tine Îmi va ieși Cel ce va stăpâni peste Israel și a cărui obârșie se suie până în vremuri srăvechi, până în zilele veșniciei.

Aici Dumnezeu se adresează Betleemului și îi spune că, cu toate că este un oraș micuț printre multe altele din regiunea Iuda (o provincie a Israelului din zilele acelea), totuși din Betleem va veni Cel care, până la urmă, va conduce poporul lui Dumnezeu și că asta era stabilit din vechime, din veșnicii.

Este o profeție din Vechiul Testament, profețită cu sute de ani înainte de nașterea lui Iisus, care ne spune exact unde se va naște Mesia, regele pe care Îl va trimite Dumnezeu. Sunt multe alte profeții ca aceasta.

Când toate acestea erau încă o noutate pentru mine, mi-a trebuit o bucată de vreme ca să încep să  înțeleg că există o putere în Ceruri, puterea lui Dumnezeu cel din Biblie, care a prezis viitorul lumii de mii de ani, și că aceste profeții, aceste previziuni s-au împlinit cu o exactitate absolută. Pentru mine asta a fost șocant. Aș putea spune că încă mai este. Acesta va fi subiectul acestor studii: profețiile care s-au împlinit și profețiile care urmează să se împlinească.

Când am menționat nașterea lui Iisus în Betleem am vrut să aleg ceva ce era cunoscut tuturor. Apoi, după ce am văzut din Biblie că cu sute de ani înainte de nașterea Lui a fost dată o profeție care spunea că Iisus se va naște în Betleem, veți putea aprecia importanța și relevanța acestui aspect. Așa că, mai departe o să aruncăm o privire asupra contextului istoric ca să ne încadrăm în timp, cum s-ar spune și să vedem amprenta profeției, care exista cu mult timp înainte și care prevestise multe dintre evenimentele cheie care aveau să se întâmple mai târziu.

Abrahamprays 4 blog postDumnezeu a ales un om cu patru mii de ani în urmă. Îl chema Avraam. El se trăgea din regiunea care în ziua de azi se numește Irak. Din urmașii lui Avraam a apărut poporul pe care noi astăzi îl cunoaștem cu numele de evrei. Dealtfel, și popoarele arabe, și credința musulmană se trag și ele tot de la Avraam.

Dar Vechiul Testament este cartea evreilor. Așa că, pentru a înțelege profețiile, trebuie să avem o perspectivă de ansamblu asupra istoriei evreilor. În același timp, va trebui să privim ascensiunea și declinul imperiilor antice până în zilele lui Iisus și ale Imperiului Roman.

Romanian History timeline for blogpostIată câteva personaje cheie din Biblie și perioada în care au trăit. Avraam este plasat în jurul anului 2000 Î.Hr. Iar Iisus în anul 30 AD. Între aceste date se situează Moise, în jur de 1400 Î.Hr. Regele David a trăit în jur de 980 Î.Hr, iar profetul Daniel, ale cărui scrieri vrem să le studiem, în jur de 600 Î.Hr.

Romanian Bible History Chart for video flat resized

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The God of Abraham

In the videos I’ve done and in these posts, I’ve spoken of “the God of Abraham”. And some have questioned, “Why did you use that phrase? Why not just say God? Or Jehovah?

Abraham for blog post

Abraham, Sara and baby Isaac 2000 BC

I guess, if you want to talk about a huge subject, you can talk about God. Or the name of God. I choose “the God of Abraham” because for probably the majority of people on earth, when you use that phrase, they know What/Who you’re talking about.

I could have said, “the God of the Bible”. But even that can arouse hesitations and possibly opposition. I wanted to find a phrase that would be clear to as many people as possible and with as little religious “baggage” as possible.

You might be surprised how many people trace their faith back to Abraham, a man who lived 4000 years ago, who has been called “the father of Faith”. I won’t get into the specifics of Abraham but he isn’t someone who nowadays inspires much hatred toward him or what he did with his life. In the first video I did, An Introduction to Prophecy in History, there is a part about Abraham and how so much of what billions believe today originated with him. And he even received specific, time-related prophecies, just as Daniel did some 1400 years later.

Ancient of Days for blog post

“The Ancient of Days”, as described in Daniel 7: 9 & 10

To write about God is for me an awesome thing which I know is so full of controversy, unknowns and religious dogma that I don’t really do it very much. But it’s fascinating to look at the way God is portrayed, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Daniel 7 video  that i have done, there is one of the most unique visualizations of God in the whole Bible. There He is called The Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9 & 10).

And this is bound to raise the hackles of some but the Koran is also based on faith in the God of Abraham. (I can hear the temperatures rising in some right now as you read this.) So just to give some backup to this thought, I could tell you about a book I’m currently reading by a man who is an executive director of Christianity Today magazine, Timothy George. His book, “Is The Father of Jesus The God of Muhammad?” is excellent, deeply researched and would shock a lot of people with what is said there.

But, back to God. James, “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19), called God “the father of lights” (James 1:17). The book of Hebrews refers to God as “the Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:19). In the book of John, Jesus said “God is a spirit” (John 4:24) and John the Beloved said “God is light” and “God is love” (I John 1:5 and 4:8).

For me, frankly and honestly, God is almost too big to comprehend or understand. That’s why I feel closer to, and think more about, Jesus. Jesus has been here; He walked the earth, was one of us, suffered our temptations and felt our aspirations. Paul says, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Timothy 2:5)

But even that is loaded with controversy and, generally, the circle of people who believe in the God of Abraham throughout the world is larger than the circle of people who believe in Jesus. I personally had a 7 month period of time where I knew that God was real as He had radically intervened in my life and made Himself manifest in tangible, miraculous ways. I knew God was real. I also knew the devil was real as he also had manifested himself clearly to me and I wanted no part with him.

sacrifice chickens flatSo I feel a kindred spirit with the billions of people who believe in God, the God of Abraham,  because I was like that for a while.  At that time I read the Bible every day but I hardly got anything out of it. I was plowing through the Old Testament and it was clear as day to me that I needed to start some kind of animal sacrifice to please God since it was obvious that this was one of the main things. It was right there in the Bible, how could I argue with that? But all that time there was this big question, “Who was Jesus?”

you need Jesus flatI went to some local churches to try to find the answer. But nobody talked to me and I guess I was shy or scared. After 7 months I met some young, non-conformist Christians, “Jesus freaks”, who were just getting started at the time. They showed me from the Bible who Jesus was, as well as the plan of salvation. I accepted Jesus as my Savior and received Him into my heart, being born again and starting on this wonderful life I’ve had. I think the biggest single change in accepting Jesus into my heart was that the Bible which had before been so unclear and opaque suddenly became clear and open, flooding my heart with truth, wisdom, knowledge and all I’d longed for.

Becoming a Christian made my relationship with God vastly so much stronger and settled. But this has in no way made me feel antipathy for the countless number of folks worldwide who may not know Jesus, but who deeply believe in the God of Abraham. I can truly say that I often feel a real fondness for and empathy with them, no matter what their nationality, race or religion.

Jesus said of one man, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). There must be billions of people on earth who believe in the God of Abraham. Would to God that we could love each other more and see the good and faith in the Father that He must see in each of us who seek Him. As well, would to God that those of us who’ve come to know Jesus would share Him more with others

 

Bucharest Tragedy

nightclub fireI just got off the phone with a dear Christian sister here in Bucharest. She’s not only been the faithful Romanian translator of the videos I’ve been doing, she’s a real friend and someone I greatly respect. She called to tell me that her oldest son was at the club in Bucharest late last night where the fire happened that took the lives of 27 young people.

She told me that her son had phoned her to tell her that he was ok, that he had been in the club until 10 minutes before the fire broke out but that he’d wanted to leave as he didn’t like it. After the fire blazed and then was contained, he was back there at the scene to identify bodies, many of whom he knew. The son of my translator friend’s sister is a teenage musician here; he and his band were scheduled to play at that club last night but it didn’t work out.

My friend here, let’s call her “Patricia”, said it was a big Halloween party at the place and it was full of plastic decorations that burst into flames. 500 people were there and around 300 got out. Buch tragShe said it’s being said that a number of the ones who were injured are not expected to make it. Also, the song that the band was playing when the fire broke out is called “This Is The Day You Die”.

Needless to say, this is a tragedy and traumatizing on many levels. I couldn’t stop crying on this call from my friend as I know her and her kids very well, as do probably some of ones reading this blog. And since “Patricia’s” teen age son, let’s call him “Ernest”, may perhaps later read what I write here, I want to respect his privacy and to be circumspect in what I write.

But the thought that came to me is that, as they say, “God has no grandchildren.” It can’t be your parents’ faith and experiences that you build your life on. Each individual ends up having their own experiences that are the formative ones in their lives. That certainly is true with how I came to faith in God from an atheist background. It’s often the deepest, darkest, most overwhelming experiences of our lives that are the crucibles in which we are shaped and molded.

Death for a Christian should be a different experience from that of an unbeliever and we who are the people of faith should really view it differently. communion-fixedIt’s like what I wrote in “Tales from Trondheim”, about the young man in Norway who was getting Christian training with my wife and I who went to be with the Lord around 48 hours after he left us. It was very traumatizing for us, very sobering, but we had peace and joy to know that he went to be with the Lord.

I don’t know how it is for those young people who died here last night. This is a very Christian country in many ways and most of the ones I’ve met here have a deep reservoir of faith in God and in Christ. This country had a strong wave of Christian revival here during the 90’s, after the fall of Communism.

I guess it’s just hard to talk about right now. Emotions are raw and these are the children of people here in this city, some of whom were laid out of the sidewalks for identification as the hospitals were overwhelmed.

But I would like to ask you to please pray for my translator friend, “Patricia”, and perhaps especially for her 17 year old son, “Ernest”. There’s a lot I won’t share here about them as it’s their personal life and the things they’ve already gone through in the past which have bordered on the unique. And now this. Please pray for them that the foundation they both have in the Lord will sustain them through this time as never before and that this tragedy, this darkness, will be a time when the light of God’s truth and love will be more evident than ever before. Please pray for Bucharest and my friends here at this time. Thanks so much, Mark

 

Now the end begins?

prophet of doomQuite a few aficionados of Bible prophecy are getting excited when they view current events in the Middle East. Most of them have believed that at some point in the future, Russia will come to play a very major role in the region. A dear friend sent me a letter and blog article about this. The article declares emphatically that the Russian buildup in Syria is a prelude and pretext for Russia to invade Israel, virtually at any time. My friend wanted to know what I thought about the article. Here are parts of what I wrote back to him.

Most everyone agrees that Ezekiel 38 and 39 sure look like potentially major Scripture on the endtime. From reading those chapters, it does sound like what’s been identified as the land area of Russia will “invaded Israel” or something similar to that in some future time. Only, no one really knows exactly where these verses in Ezekiel fit in the endtime picture.

Are they a part of the finally events of the 42 months of Antichrist rule during the Great Tribulation? (Revelation 13:5-7)The Pact flat Or are they events occurring before the signing of the Pact or Covenant and the Last 7 Years? (Daniel 9:27) Or does Ezekiel 38 & 39 cover material mentioned in Daniel 11:21 to 45? Some even cite Psalm 83 nowadays as being an endtime prophecy when it was actually a historical prayer written during the time when ancient Israel was at war with its neighbors.

It does seem very significant that Russia has gotten suddenly involved in the Syrian war and evidently they have the top hand in the Middle East now.  I wrote a blog post about all this with some factors having to do with the move by Russia which probably a lot of people don’t know or understand. You might find it interesting, especially since you served in that part of the world. It’s called “What’s Wrong With This Picture?

whites of thier eyes-flattenedBut I sadly feel another one I wrote summarizes the more sensationalist articles that come out on sites like “Before It’s News”, “Now the End Begins”  “Armageddon News” and others like this. What I wrote about this is called “The Whites of Their Eyes”.

When I hear about clear, unequivocal events happening in the news that we can directly connect with endtime prophecies, that’s when we can really place it in prophetic Scripture that is known to precede the Great Tribulation. Otherwise, it’s just very fertile ground for the many criers of “Wolf! Wolf!” with abundant speculations about prophetic fulfillments that so often just turn out to be duds. It kind of bugs me how many people are claiming Bible prophecy has been fulfilled every time a car bomb explodes.

But what could be something on the horizon that would clearly be an event predicted in Scripture? If and when I see the building of a third Jewish temple in Jerusalem and particularly the beginning of animal sacrifices there, then I think we’ll have some real specifics to take serious note of. Where we are at on the Trumpets and Seals of the book of Revelation, or the specifics of Ezekiel 38, can be rather hazy now.

Mosque of OmarAnd yet so very many commentators endlessly try to find where we are presently in those things. They usually end up in farfetched, emotional speculation that borders on confusion. Lots of heat but not much light. However, if there’s a third temple built in Jerusalem and then sacrifices start, that will be some concrete, Biblically predicted endtime events happening in real time. And of course even the subject of the third temple in Jerusalem is also now in the news every day, with present events on the Temple Mount and the whole thing.

It may be getting very near and I certainly am keeping up with it all. But I’m not ready to start hanging labels on things like, “That country is the bear or ram” and “That one is the goat”. Those verses in Daniel were fulfilled long ago and don’t apply to endtime prophetic events. In Daniel 8, the angel Gabriel specifically told the prophet Daniel what the goat was. “The rough goat is the kingdom of Greece.”  (Daniel 8:21) But still today, you’ve got oodles of experts telling us that the goat of Daniel 8 directly refers to some modern nation today. That is not teaching “sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1)

I covered all that in my videos on the subject. Perhaps the best one on the final years of the endtime is the one about Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24, called “The Last 7 Years”.  But a lot of things are happening that quite possibly are major steps towards final endtime events and it really bears watching.

Studying current events in relation to Bible prophecy about the final days is a little like looking through a kaleidoscope. We look at God’s Word and then we look at current events and we can see a lot of similarities. But every time there’s some slight changing of events, like when a kaleidoscope is moved ever so slightly, then the whole picture changes. That’s what’s happening with Russia’s current move. I agree with so many others that the change in the picture we see now is another move towards the picture we are shown in Scripture of how it will be at the beginning of the most specific events that are predicted, preceding the return of Jesus. But being overly specific with dramatic proclamations of prophetic fulfillment when it really hasn’t happened yet is just not good Bible teaching, no matter how anxious anyone is to see prophecy fulfilled.

In summary, yes this big move by Russia does very much look like a foretold piece of the prophetic puzzle that we see in Bible prophecy. But I don’t think we should be standing by in expectation that Russia is about to invade Israel at any moment. That’s getting ahead of the music and jumping the gun. And web sites that continue to delude Christians in that way should be noted and held accountable for their sensationalism and lack of credibility.